Your baby‘s birth weight and length could predict whether he’ll be diagnosed with autism or schizophrenia later in life, according to a new study conducted by the University of Copenhagen and Yale University.
Researchers there found that big babies are more likely to develop autism but are at lower risk of schizophrenia. Conversely, smaller babies are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia but are at a lower risk of becoming autistic. To reach these conclusions, scientists examined medical records of some 1.75 million Danish births and subsequent hospital diagnoses for up to 30 years, according to an article in The Independent. The findings were published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, London B.
But before you start fretting over your kiddo’s extra pound or half-inch, keep in mind that autism and schizophrenia are relatively uncommon and the increased risk we’re talking about is fairly small. In an example from the study, the average Danish newborn is 52 cm (or 20.4 inches). If a baby is born 2 cm longer, his chances of becoming autistic increase by 20 percent. Or, put another (less scary) way, his absolute risk bumps up from 0.65 percent to 0.78 percent.
Researchers believe “genomic imprinting” could at least partially explain the link between birth size and mental health disorders. According to this evolutionary theory, while baby is in utero, some genes inherited by the father are expressed differently to ones inherited by mom. In most pregnancies, the opposing genes balance each other, resulting in an average-sized baby with a “high likelihood of balanced mental health development,” reports Science Daily. But as researchers discovered, when there’s a larger imprinting imbalance, the baby is at a higher risk of autism or schizophrenic.
“It’s quite likely that these imprints that cause either heavier babies or lighter babies are doing parallel things to the infant brain as it grows up,” said Professor Jacobus Boomsma, director of the Centre for Social Evolution at the University of Copenhagen. “Exactly how that works mechanically on a genomic level we have no idea, but that is what the theory predicted and what the evidence here supports.”
Boomsma said more research is needed to figure out which genes are involved and how, exactly, they affect baby’s brain. Still, these and other recent findings can only help us parents. Besides offering some clues about the origin and nature of the disorder — and helping us separate fact from fiction — they can illuminate ways we can best support our children.
Tell us: What do you make of this study?
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If you’re shopping in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and your baby needs to feed, don’t be surprised if you get a few looks as he’s latching on. That’s because one-fifth of women in Turkey think breastfeeding in public is “wrong.”
That’s according to a new survey conducted by Lansinoh, a breastfeeding supply company, which polled 13,169 moms and pregnant women around the world to find out how they really feel about nursing. The countries involved were Brazil, China, France, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Turkey, the UK and the U.S., reports the Daily Mail.
Not surprisingly, different countries had different reactions to this lightning rod of a topic. Nowhere was that more apparent than with the topic of feeding an infant in public. More than half of women in the U.K., U.S., Brazil, and Mexico said it was “perfectly natural” to nurse al fresco, while 41 percent of moms in Hungary said it was “unavoidable.” Mixed feelings about breastfeeding were apparent even in the same country: Roughly half of Chinese and French women said it was either natural or “unavoidable,” but almost half also found it “embarrassing.”
When it comes to nursing a two-year-old in public, the battle lines were more clearly drawn. Most respondents said 6-12 months is the ideal length of time to breastfeed. Small wonder then that the majority of women in Germany (58 percent) and Mexico (57 percent), and half of respondents in the U.K., thought a two-year-old was too old to nurse. Moms and moms-to-be in France, the U.S., Hungary and Turkey also shared that sentiment, though not by a majority. Chinese women were split down the middle, with 37 percent supporting breastfeeding that long and 35 percent saying the baby should be off the breast by that point. For its part, 44 percent of Brazilian women believed moms should try to nurse for that long.
But despite the differences, there are some things all of us moms can agree on. Everyone struggles with waking up at night to feed baby. Most of us grapple with “mom guilt” over not breastfeeding (well, except for Germany). And an overwhelming majority of women in all of the countries surveyed agreed that breastfeeding is best for baby.
Tell us: Do these findings surprise you?
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The secret is out! Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes welcomed a daughter on Friday, September 12, confirms US Weekly. The super private couple were able to keep Mendes’s baby bump hidden in plain sight and the pregnancy news under wraps until July.
No news yet on the baby’s name, but expect a full report on our sister blog, In Name Only, when one is announced. This is the first child for both Gosling and Mendes, who met on the set of their movie, The Place Beyond the Pines, and worked together on Gosling’s directorial debut, How to Catch a Monster.
In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this year, Gosling mentioned he might retire from acting — after also revealing to UK’s The Times that he would rather make babies than movies.
We’re hoping Gosling doesn’t retire from acting anytime soon, but we do love the idea of more mini Goslings!
Congratulations to the Hollywood couple on their new baby!
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Hannah Kersey is one in a million. Literally.
That’s because the British woman was born with two wombs instead of one, a rare condition called uterus didelphys. At first, her doctor wasn’t sure if she’d be able to carry a child in both wombs, so imagine her shock when she and partner Mick Faulkner found out they were having triplets. (After all, the odds of such an occurrence are a staggering 25 million to one!)
The against-all-odds conception happened when two eggs, one in each womb, were fertilized simultaneously by two sperm, according to an article in the New York Post. One of the eggs split into two, creating identical twins, while the other developed into one baby.
The couple’s three girls — Grace and twins Ruby and Tilly — were born seven weeks premature via C-section, each weighing under 3 pounds. They stayed in the hospital for about nine weeks, until they were strong enough to go home. Though their story is the stuff of daytime talk shows and Guinness Book of World Records, the triplets sound much like any other happy, healthy babies. As Kersey pointed out to the BBC, “they are three lovely and incredible children, all with very different personalities.”
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I don’t know about you, but nothing gets to me quite like the sound of my child crying. All it takes is a bad enough-sounding wail, and I’m on a panicky mission to do whatever it takes to make it stop. Science, of course, has some explanations for that.
On the one hand, my urge to soothe could be because my own parents were so hands-on with my sisters and me — at least if recent findings from a study at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro are true. The university, together with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Fuller Theological Seminary, discovered that our childhood memories impact how we tend to our own crying kiddos. Specifically, moms who have positive memories of their parents or caregivers — or have worked through any bad ones — are more likely to be more responsive to their child’s needs. By the same token, women who are still grappling with a less-than-idyllic childhood are less responsive to a baby’s cries. The study followed 259 new moms and their babies, from conception through the first six months of baby’s life, and the results were published in Child Development, reports Science Daily.
But maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe our fight-or-flight reaction to crying is really just something that has been ingrained in us from the very beginning. With that in mind, a grad student at MIT has posited that our prehistoric ancestors were also deeply affected by wailing babies, so much so that they used them as a motivator to fight battles, reports NPR. According to Tomer Ullman, soldiers probably wore babies on their backs during wars and used all their screaming, or “infant stress vocalizations,” as a “natural adrenalin boost.” In essence, babies were the original WMDs.
While I can’t wrap my head around the logistics of wearing a baby while fighting, I admit that I can see how being attached to a sobbing child would make someone want to run for the hills. And apparently, I’m not the only one. Ullman made this proposal during last year’s BAHFest, an annual meeting where highly intelligent people present way-out-there ideas. Attendees there voted it the best of the event.
Tell us: How do you deal with your baby’s crying?
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