Category Archives: Pregnancy & Fertility

Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Smoking While Pregnant Increases Asthma Risk of Grandchildren

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Previous studies have emphasized the adverse effects of smoking while pregnant on the health of children, but a new study goes further — by two generations.

A Swedish study discovered that a woman who smokes while she is pregnant may increase the risk of asthma on her grandchildren (i.e. the child of her child). This study is the first of its kind to investigate the effects of smoking two generations after. “We found that smoking in previous generations can influence the risk of asthma in subsequent generations,” said study co-author Dr. Caroline Lodge in a news release.

The researchers conducted a survey on close to 45,000 grandmothers whose names are listed in the Swedish Registry between 1982 and 1986. Meanwhile, the study also checked for use of asthma treatment and medication in more than 66,000 grandchildren. Results showed that kids had up to 22 percent higher risk of developing asthma if their grandmothers smoked during pregnancy. The data was applicable even though the children’s respective mothers did not engage in cigarette smoking.

The study proponents believe that smoking changes the genetic makeup of offspring, which may be carried over to subsequent generations.

The number of asthma cases has escalated quickly in the last 50 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affecting 6.8 million children in the U.S. alone.



Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility Real Drug Stories

Use of HIV Drug by Pregnant Women Linked to Lower Bone Mass in Newborns

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pregnant diet

A drug used to reduce the transmission of HIV between a mother and fetus may have caused babies to develop lower bone mineral content than babies whose mothers used different drugs to treat their HIV and prevent it from transferring to their unborn children, according to a National Institutes of Health study.

After testing 143 babies, researchers found that pregnant women who received the drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate in their third trimester of pregnancy gave birth to babies whose bone mineral content was 12% lower than that of babies who were not exposed to the drug in the uterus.

This is significant because proper mineral content helps strengthen normal bones.

“At this point, we can say that those who care for pregnant women with HIV and their children should be aware that prescribing tenofovir to pregnant women could be a concern for their infants’ bones,” said George K. Siberry, M.D., the first author of the study and medical officer with NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Although the study authors described the results as concerning, they did not recommend drastic changes for pregnant women using tenofovir, as the drug has proved successful as part of drug regimens that treat HIV in pregnant women, and often is used to prevent HIV transmission to babies. The researchers say their is a need for additional studies to understand bone health and development among children born to women who took tenofovir during their pregnancies.

“Families should keep in close touch with their physicians to monitor their child’s bone development,” Siberry added.

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Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Research on South Asians Reveal Diabetes Risk As Early As Birth

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According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity, people of South Asian descent are already at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes starting from the time they were born.

The findings form part of the South Asian Birth Cohort study (START), which was conducted by a team of researchers on pregnant Canadian women. The study showed that gestational diabetes and uncontrolled weight gain in pregnant women exposed babies to a high likelihood of developing diabetes, but race and ethnicity may have an additional risk factor. “South Asian pregnant women should be considered high risk for gestational diabetes and routinely screened in pregnancy,” said principal study investigator Sonia Anand in a news item. Anand works at McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

The cohort study looked into about 800 pregnant women in Canada — more particularly in Hamilton and Peel Region. Some of the women were of South Asian descent, while the rest were Caucasian.

Babies born of South Asian mothers were found to be smaller than Caucasians, but their average waist circumference was bigger. “The increase we observed in fat tissue is clearly influenced by South Asian ethnicity, the mother’s body fat and high blood sugar levels,” Anand said.

The researchers believe that by minimizing factors related to gestational diabetes and weight gain, mothers can help prevent development of diabetes in their children.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Study Reveals Increased Teen Abortion Rate After Previous Pregnancy

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A comprehensive study in the U.K. revealed a startling discovery: 23 percent of teenagers who had undergone abortion were reported to have been pregnant at least once in the past.

The research was based on national abortion data from the Office of National Statistics and the Department of Health spanning 21 years (1992 to 2013). This was the first time that a potential link between teen pregnancy and teen abortion was investigated. “Our results clearly demonstrate that young women who become pregnant can be considered a high-risk group for subsequent, unplanned, mistimed, or unwanted pregnancies, emphasising the importance of embedding preventative actions and behaviours among this group after a birth or abortion,” said study lead author Lisa McDaid in a news release.

McDaid, who works at the School of Health Sciences, said that although teen pregnancy rates are slowly dipping, it’s important to determine the factors behind unwanted pregnancies. “This information will help to guide more targeted interventions to continue the downward trend in pregnancy and to monitor the effectiveness of current sexual health priorities on reducing conceptions and unwanted pregnancies among this age group,” McDaid added.

The researchers emphasize the importance of understanding female teens who decide to have an abortion. “The continuing high proportion of teenagers who have an abortion following one or more previous pregnancies highlights the complexity of these young women’s lives and we need to recognise that the circumstances of each pregnancy may be very different,” McDaid further stated.

Details of the study were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.


Addiction Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Women Quit Smoking During Pregnancy, But Return After Childbirth

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A team of researchers from the U.K.’s University of East Anglia discovered that pregnant mothers who stopped smoking tend to return to their unhealthy habit after giving birth.

The study, published in the journal Addiction, revealed that 75 percent of pregnant women who decided to stop smoking took it up again within six months after childbirth. In addition, up to 90 percent of these women returned to smoking within a year after delivering the child.

The research team led by Dr. Caitlin Notley said in a news release that 45 percent of expectant mothers are able to immediately kick the habit due to many factors, including preservation of the baby’s health, natural opposition to cigarette smoke due to biological changes, and the pressures of society. However, many of them return to smoking because of the following reasons:

  • Misconception. Most women think that smoking after giving birth won’t harm the baby.
  • Stress. Due to the pressures of parenthood, some mothers relapse to pick up a cigarette.
  • Withdrawal. Some women feel that their bodies are experiencing withdrawal symptoms caused by not having smoked for a while.

Some women, meanwhile, understood the potential effect of cigarette smoking on breast milk. As a result, a number of them decided to wean their babies earlier so that they could start smoking again.

The study investigated the cases of more than 1,000 women in the U.S. and Canada across 16 studies to evaluate the tendency to smoke again after pregnancy.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Pregnant Women Don’t Need To ‘Eat For Two’, Says Study

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The common misconception that pregnant mothers need to eat more to supply for the child’s development has been debunked by a recent study.

According to a group of international researchers, the digestive system of the mother adjusts to the presence of the baby, allowing for increased absorption of energy even with the same amount of food intake.

The study, published in the eLife journal, investigated the fruit fly as a model for human anatomy. Study co-author Dr. Jake Jacobson of the Clinical Sciences Centre of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in London explained that the biology inside the body of a fruit fly is similar to humans. “Many of the fly genes that we studied exist in humans. Flies also utilize and store fat like we do, and their metabolism is controlled by similar hormones,” Jacobson said in a news release. Results of the study may also explain the reason why many women find it difficult to get rid of excess weight after pregnancy.

Through the study, a newly discovered hormone — called “juvenile hormone” — commands the digestive system to prepare for the growth of an additional human being in the mother’s body. This particular hormone was found to alter the metabolism of fat in the body. “This research points to a new scientific explanation why eating for two during pregnancy is not necessary, and may even be harmful, as a growing body of evidence indicates that a mother’s diet can impact a child’s propensity to be obese in later life,” said MRC population and systems medicine chief Dr. Joe McNamara.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Obese Teenagers At Higher Risk Of Unwanted Pregnancy, Says Study

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Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System discovered a link between teenage obesity and unplanned pregnancies. Study lead author Tammy Chang expressed the importance of identifying factors that heighten the risk of unwanted pregnancies in adolescents. “Our findings suggest that obesity may be an important factor associated with adolescent women’s sexual behavior,” Chang said in a news release.

The study looked into roughly 900 adolescent women between 18 and 19 years old who were asked about their sexual practices and assessed for their weight. According to the results of the study, obese teenagers have a higher tendency to get pregnant before reaching adulthood.

The researchers believe that their study is a very important tool to understand why teenage pregnancy is on the rise. “Reducing adolescent pregnancy is a national public health priority and we need to understand which adolescents are at higher risk of pregnancy,” Change said. In addition, obesity needs to be investigated due to its impact on bearing children. “Understanding sexual behaviors by weight status among adolescents is critical because of the risk of dangerous outcomes for moms and babies associated with obesity,” the study lead author added.

Complete details of the study were published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

[ Image from Gaulsstin via Flickr ]


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Lower Asthma Risk In Infants Linked To High-Fiber Intake Of Mothers

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A recent study from Australia’s Monash University revealed that children born from mothers who ate lots of fiber during their pregnancy had lower risk of asthma.

Study lead author Dr. Alison Thorburn, who works at the university’s Department of Immunology, and her team of researchers conducted tests on pregnant lab mice who were made to eat either of three diets with varying amounts of fiber. The offspring were made to grow into adult mice and then exposed to dust mites to assess their propensity for asthma, as reported in a news item.

The results were clear as day: mice born from mothers fed with high fiber had no symptoms of asthma. In contrast, those whose mothers had low fiber in their diets exhibited asthma indications. “High fiber… suppresses expression of certain genes in the mouse fetal lung linked to both human asthma and mouse AAD (allergic airway disease). Thus, diet acting on the gut microbiota profoundly influences airway responses, and may represent an approach to prevent asthma, including during pregnancy,” the researchers noted in the study published in Nature Communications.

The researchers also tested the theory on humans by assessing the diets of 40 pregnant women and checking their blood for metabolites. Results showed that women who followed a high-fiber diet while pregnant were found with anti-asthma metabolites in their bloodstream. It was also discovered that their children were at least two times less likely to be brought to the doctor for respiratory concerns during the first year.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Choosing Where To Give Birth Could Be Critical For Low-Risk Pregnancies

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Expectant mothers with low-risk pregnancies may not be 100 percent free from complications, as a recent study suggests.

A new research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that one of the most important decisions for any pregnant mother is the place where she is going to deliver the baby. A group of doctors and professors discussed the importance of choosing the right medical facility for delivery. “Determining appropriate sites of care for any type of medical issue assumes successful matching of patient risks to facility capabilities and resources. In obstetrics, predicting patients who will have a need for additional resources beyond routine obstetric and neonatal care is difficult. Women without prenatal risk factors and their newborns may experience unexpected complications during delivery or postpartum,” the researchers noted in a news item.

Data from the U.S. Natality from 2011 to 2013, encompassing about 10 million birth records, were assessed for pregnancy risk. Results revealed that about 29 percent of low-risk pregnancies still yielded a unanticipated complication that may need attention of neonatal or obstetric care. “This information is important for planning location of birth and evaluating birthing centers and hospitals for necessary resources to ensure quality care and patient safety,” the researchers added.

[Photo courtesy of J.K. Califf on Flickr]


Pregnancy & Fertility

Breast-fed Children May be at Lower Risk for Developing Leukemia

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Breast-fed children have a lower risk of developing childhood leukemia, a new study suggests.

Scientists have found that children who were breast-fed for at least six months had a 19% lower risk of the disease compared with those who were not breast-fed at all or who were breast-fed for shorter periods of time. The new study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

However, the study — based on data from 18 studies that involved about 28,000 children, including roughly 10,000 who went on to develop leukemia — only showed an association between breastfeeding and not a cause and effect relationship. More research is required to confirm the link and explain the biological mechanisms involved.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers exclusively breast-feed their children for at least six months, saying it lowers the risk of infections, allergies and sudden infant death syndrome, among other things.

“There is so much research supporting the health benefits of breast milk,” said the lead author of the new study, Efrat L. Amitay, of the University of Haifa School of Public Health in Israel. “It contains antibodies, natural killer cells and all kinds of active, live substances that can’t be produced in a factory.”

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