Author Archive

In-Utero Surgeries More Common, Life-Changing

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

New methods of performing surgeries while babies are still inside their mothers’ wombs are becoming more common, in many cases greatly improving the quality of life of babies who are diagnosed with potentially serious conditions affecting the heart, bladder, larynx, and more.  One medical group in Mexico has successfully performed 200 such surgeries, and its doctors note that the new technologies and technique for what’s called “fetal medicine” are improving and becoming more widely available, parents need to be better educated about their medical options, especially if they are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. More from ScienceDaily:

Although Mexico Fetal Medicine Group, located in Queretaro, has established itself as a cross reference for prenatal health in the country, Méndez González recognizes that there is a lack of prenatal drug culture among Mexican parents. “Generally the pregnancy situation is consulted to gynecologists, who are not necessarily specialists in fetal medicine. Lacking experience in this discipline, sometimes the detection of health problems is too late for the baby,” said the specialist at Fetal Medicine Mexico.

In the words of the medical specialist, consolidating a cross reference in fetal medicine in the country has positive effects such as the accumulation of knowledge and experience to practice and investigate medicine in unborn babies. Méndez González noted that the emergence of ultrasound changed the way people see pregnancy as the unborn baby began to be considered as a patient in need of its own care.

Last month, a new technology was announced that can perform in-utero surgeries, using a tiny robotic arm, on babies who are diagnosed with spina bifida, a condition which affects 1 in 2,500 babies worldwide.

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Moms: Your Fitness Level Will Impact Your Kids’

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Moms who lead active lifestyles and get regular physical exercise tend to have children who are also physically active, according to a new study conducted by British researchers.  Importantly, the study could not definitively conclude that the correlation only went into the mother-to-child direction–it was also possible that more active kids demanded more physical involvement (also known as baby-chasing) from their mothers.  Because of this possibility, the researchers urged both parents and children to be mindful of their activity levels, and increase them to a healthy level whenever possible.

More from NPR on the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics:

[Lead author Esther] van Sluijs says just small changes – walking to the park instead of driving or playing a good game of tag instead of a board game – can make a difference.

“Increasing your physical activity just by a little bit already helps, you don’t have to become an athlete.” she says. “If you look at [small increases in activity] over a month or a year, that can actually have quite large benefits.”

Fathers weren’t part of the study, but van Sluijs says that doesn’t mean the call for more exercise should single out mothers.

“We do recommend that interventions are not just targeted at mothers and their children,” she tells Shots. “They’re actually targeted at the family unit because we know that siblings as well play an important role for children’s physical activity.”

Exercise With Baby: Biceps
Exercise With Baby: Biceps
Exercise With Baby: Biceps

Image: Mother and son doing yoga, via Shutterstock

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Are Overprotective Moms Hurting Kids’ Health?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Moms who are overprotective of their children–especially in the arena of avoiding risks in physical activity–may actually be increasing their kids’ risk of health problems, specifically obesity.  A longitudinal study conducted by Australian researchers found that moms who are overprotective tend to limit physical activity for their kids, and by age 10 or 11, the kids are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese.

The data came from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, which followed more than 2,500 children from ages 4 to 11.  They used a measure called the Protectiveness Parenting Scale to rank parents’ degrees of protectiveness in three main areas:

  • How difficult a parent finds it to be separated from their child
  • How much they try to protect their child from problems or difficulties
  • How difficult it is for them to relinquish control of their child’s environment as they get older.

As the Science Network of Western Australia reports, moms who scored moderately high on the scale were 13 percent more likely to have overweight or obese kids; moms who scored high on the scale were 27 percent more likely.  More from the Science Network:

“However, we only found this pattern once kids reached the age of about 10-11 years.”

“This could be to do with the amount of independence and physical activity that kids get.”

“At 10–11 years some kids will be allowed to walk or ride to school on their own, or with friends, or participate in sport… others will be driven around and have greater restrictions.”

“So while some kids have many options for physical activity, kids with an overprotective parent might miss out, [which] could explain why we found higher rates of overweight and obesity.”

They also found higher protective scores across mothers from greater socioeconomic and environmental disadvantage, which Ms Hancock says is understandable.

“If they’re living in areas with increased traffic congestion, or in neighbourhoods that are less safe, then we need to remember that… it isn’t as simple as saying ‘let your kids be more active’ if the opportunities aren’t there.”

What is your parenting style?

Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting
Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting
Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting

Image: Mom and child holding hands, via Shutterstock

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Kids Born After Fertility Treatments May Have Mental Health Risk

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Thousands of children are conceived each year through assisted reproductive technologies, treatments meant to help couples who have fertility problems.  But a new study of Danish children is linking fertility treatments with an increased risk that the children will develop a mental health problem later in life.  Researchers described the increased risk as “modest,” but identifiable nonetheless when they compared children born to parents who underwent fertility treatments with children who were conceived without intervention.

The study looked at nearly 2.5 million children born between the years 1969 and 2006, most of whose parents who had no known fertility problems.  Five percent of the parents had “registered fertility problems.”  The children’s medical histories were followed until 2009, with researchers looking for any psychiatric disorders that required hospitalization.  The children born to women with fertility problems were 33 percent more likely to have a psychiatric disorder, as ScienceDaily reports:

When separate analyses were performed for psychiatric disorders diagnosed during childhood (0-19 years) and in young adulthood (≥20 years), the investigators found that the risk estimates were not markedly changed, indicating that the increased risks persist into adulthood.

Commenting on the results, Dr. [Allan] Jensen said that professionals involved in the diagnosis and treatment of women with fertility problems should be aware of “the small, but potentially increased risk of psychiatric disorders among the children born to women with fertility problems.” However, this knowledge, he added, “should always be balanced against the physical and psychological benefits of a pregnancy.”

Only a few studies have investigated the risk of psychiatric disorders among children born after fertility treatment. Although results from most of these studies do not find an increased risk, the results do show substantial variation, said Dr Jensen; this may be because of the limited size and follow-up time in most of them. This study is the first with sufficient numbers and an adequately long follow-up period to enable a realistic assessment of risk patterns into young adulthood.

Jensen added that the study did not make a conclusion on whether it was fertility treatments or the underlying cause of the infertility–possibly genetic–that was responsible for the increased mental health risk.

Image: Fertility lab, via Shutterstock

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C-Section May Raise Risk of Later Pregnancy Loss

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Women who have a Cesarean section may, if they become pregnant again, face a slightly elevated risk of either an ectopic pregnancy or a stillbirth–but not a miscarriage, according to a new study of Danish mothers.

Recent research has also linked c-section delivery to an elevated risk that a child will later become obese, and found that overweight women are more likely to deliver via c-section.  On a more positive note, another recent study found that the overall rate of Cesareans performed before a woman’s due date is on the decline nationwide.

HealthDay News has more on the Danish study:

Those whose baby was delivered by cesarean section had a 14 percent higher rate of stillbirth in their next pregnancy than those who had a vaginal delivery. A stillbirth is described as the death of a fetus at more than 20 weeks of gestation.

That works out to an absolute risk increase of 0.03 percent. That means that for every 3,000 cesarean deliveries, there would be one extra stillbirth in future pregnancies, the researchers explained.

They also found that women who had a cesarean delivery for their first baby were 9 percent more likely to have a future ectopic pregnancy than those who had a vaginal delivery.

That’s an absolute increased risk of 0.1 percent, which means that for every 1,000 cesarean deliveries, there would be one extra ectopic pregnancy in future pregnancies.

In an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg grows in the fallopian tubes or other locations outside the uterus. It typically results in loss of the fetus and can be fatal for the mother.

Having a cesarean delivery for a first baby did not increase women’s risk of miscarriage in future pregnancies, according to the researchers at University College Cork in Ireland and Aarhus University in Denmark. A miscarriage is generally described as the spontaneous loss of a fetus before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Pregnant? Keep track of your medical records in one place. 

Labor & Delivery: What to Expect in a C-Section
Labor & Delivery: What to Expect in a C-Section
Labor & Delivery: What to Expect in a C-Section

Image: Cesarean section scar, via Shutterstock

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