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Entries in Pregnancy (146)

Tuesday
Nov092010

Early Education Can Help Prevent Preterm Birth

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) – Women who are pregnant should discuss their risk of preterm birth by the 12th week of pregnancy, according to a commentary published in the November issue of Ob. Gyn. News.

The commentary stemmed from a study by the March of Dimes and BabyCenter that found that more than two-thirds of new or expectant mothers had not discussed the risks and consequences of preterm birth with their healthcare provider.

Preterm birth, or birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the leading cause of newborn death. It can also lead to serious health challenges such as learning disabilities and cerebral palsy.

The commentary suggested that early detection can help prevent premature birth.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov032010

Pregnancy and Peanuts: Tricky Allergy Truths 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Prenatal advice has been particularly tricky with respect to peanut allergy, a potentially fatal condition that affects an estimated 1 percent to 2 percent of children. The incidence has gone up in the last decade, although scientists can't say why.

From 1998 to 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the British Committee on Toxicology recommended that in families where parents or siblings have allergies, women avoid peanuts during pregnancy and breast-feeding. However, the data for these recommendations was scant and scientific studies yielded conflicting findings: Some said early exposure might be protective, others, harmful.

In 2008, the AAP reversed its position. Similarly, the European panel reversed its recommendation to stay away from peanuts during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

It now appears that in families with lots of allergies, it makes some sense for mothers-to-be to go easy on the peanuts, because of new research suggesting heavy consumption, particularly late in pregnancy, might set the stage for peanut allergies.

But for most families, doctors say there's no evidence that pregnant moms' peanut eating will produce an allergic baby -- or that avoiding peanuts will guarantee a healthier one.

To help clarify the issues, the Consortium of Food Allergy Research studied the relationship between maternal diet and childhood allergies. The researchers, led by Dr. Scott H. Sicherer of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, followed 512 infants with food allergies to see if they became allergic to peanuts over time.

The investigators from Mount Sinai, Duke University in Durham, N.C., Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, National Jewish Health in Denver, and Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, also asked the mothers about their prenatal eating.

In results published online Oct. 29 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, which will appear in the December print issue, they reported that the more that a mom consumed peanuts in the third trimester of her pregnancy, the greater the chances her infant would test positive for sensitivity to peanuts.

However, sensitivity doesn't equate to peanut allergy, "just an increased risk," Sicherer said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov022010

Eating Peanuts During Pregnancy May Expose Children to Allergy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Pregnant mothers who eat a lot of peanuts during their pregnancy may increase their childrens' risk of developing an allergy to the nut, according to a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Headed by New York's Mount Sinai Medical School, the study tested more than 500 infants and found that more than a quarter of them, who were children of women who consumed peanuts while pregnant, had a strong reaction to a peanut sensitivity test.

Researchers also found that infants from mothers who ate the nut during their pregnancy have nearly three times the chance of testing positive for the allergy.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct202010

Researchers Say Fish Oil Pills Are No Help During Pregnancy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Researchers say that taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy won't boost a baby's brain development or prevent postpartum depression for mothers, according to MedPage Today.

Maria Makrides of the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, Australia told MedPage that "overall cognitive scores were nearly identical and language scores tended to be lower in children exposed to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-rich fish oil during gestation than scores in controls."

For new mothers, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported there is "no significant difference in the prevalence of depressive symptoms in the first six months postpartum between women who took the fish oil pills and those who didn't."

Dr. Emily Oken of Harvard and Dr. Mandy B. Belfort of Children's Hospital Boston both agree that eating fish may be better than taking a supplement, citing evidence that "points to lower postpartum depression risk and better neurodevelopment with dietary consumption of fish in pregnancy" in comparison to fish oil supplements, MedPage reports.

"It may be that the n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish are more bioactive or that other beneficial nutrients within fish, such as selenium, vitamin D, and iodine, are also important," they wrote in JAMA.

However, Oken and Belfort recommend that "for now, women should continue to aim for the recommended daily intake of DHA through low-mercury, high-DHA fish intake or supplements," MedPage says.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct202010

Pregnant Moms Still Drinking? 40,000 Babies Per Year With FASD

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Children whose mothers binge-drank while pregnant suffer from very specific attention and memory deficits not observed in youngsters whose mothers generally abstained while pregnant, according to new research findings that might lead to more targeted treatments and therapies.

The March of Dimes estimates that 40,000 American babies are born every year with neurological and developmental damage stemming from their mothers' alcohol consumption while expecting. These include Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and other Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs).
 
Alcohol is toxic to developing brains and bodies. It crosses the placenta into the fetus' bloodstream, where it interferes with levels of oxygen and nutrients necessary for proper growth and development. Sufferers are more prone to aggression, infection and sleep disturbances, and suffer from higher rates of substance abuse and HIV infection.
 
"We've known for a long time that binge drinking, heavy drinking with pregnancy is associated with cognitive deficits," which affect short-term memory, arithmetic and information processing, said Joseph L. Jacobson, a developmental psychologist at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

He said there's a wide range of effects, even when two pregnant women drink the same amount of alcohol: "One child may be more affected than another. It's a very complicated process."
 
Jacobson has spent years evaluating effects of prenatal alcohol exposure. In one long-term Detroit-based study, he and his colleagues found significant deficits in infants born to women who had as many as five alcoholic beverages at a sitting while pregnant. Other research has tied prenatal alcohol exposure to poor performance on batteries of neuropsychological tests.
 
But in a new study released Tuesday, Jacobson and colleagues at Wayne State and Laval University in Quebec City assessed subtle differences in youngsters' brains in another way. They used electroencephalograms to monitor changes in electrical activity in the brains of 217 Inuit children from Arctic Quebec while they underwent memory and coordination tests.
 
The children, whose average age was 11, included 38 boys and girls whose mothers reported binge-drinking during pregnancy, and 101 healthy youngsters who served as comparisons. (The majority of the healthy youngsters' moms were abstainers, although some drank moderately, Jacobson said).

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct062010

A Drink or Two During Pregnancy? Not So Fast

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Light consumption of alcohol during pregnancy may not be harmful to a baby's physical, emotional and cognitive development, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.  However, many doctors are worried, saying the study could be misinterpreted as a green light to drink.

"You can walk on a railroad track and not be hit by a train, but that doesn't mean it's a safe thing to do," said Dr. Michael Katz, senior vice president for Research and Global Programs with March of Dimes, and professor emeritus of Pediatrics at Columbia University.  "I worry about this article because it could be over-interpreted, and over-interpreting data of this nature is probably dangerous."

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor, said, "I'd be very concerned if a woman saw this study and felt that it gave her a green light to drink during pregnancy."

The study, which includes data from more than 11,000 children born between September 2000 and January 2002, has found no significant differences in the behavioral and cognitive development of children whose mothers either abstained from alcohol or drank lightly while pregnant.

But the researchers so far have only looked at these kids until the age of five. The children in the study will continue to be monitored as they mature, and even the researchers doing the work say pregnant women should not take their findings so far as an excuse to drink while pregnant.

"We are not taking on an advocacy role with this research," said Dr. Yvonne Kelly, lead author of the research and graduate tutor in the department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London. "These findings are consistent with those from our prior work. We will continue to assess the relationship as children get older." 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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