Thursday, June 20th, 2013
Though pregnant women should avoid alcohol as much as possible, having the occasional alcoholic beverage during pregnancy may not harm a fetus as much as was previously thought, according to a British study published in the journal BMJ Open. More from Time.com:
According to [the] study, children born to mothers who drank moderately while pregnant did not show signs of balance problems when they were 10; trouble with balance is a good indicator of problems with brain development in utero, the authors say.
The researchers, who published their results in the journal BMJ Open, studied nearly 7,000 ten-year-olds enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children who were born between 1991 and 1992. The children were given three different balance tests, including walking on a balance beam and standing still on one leg with their eyes closed. Those whose mothers reported drinking three to seven alcoholic beverages a week during their 18th week of pregnancy were more likely to fall into the top 25% of performers on the balance exercises compared to those whose moms abstained.
These findings support those of a previous study out of Denmark that reported light to moderate drinking early in pregnancy was not associated with declines in intelligence, attention or self-control in children at age 5. But this study did caution that heavy drinking was linked to negative developmental effects.
Despite the fact that better balance is an indicator of healthy brain development in the womb, the current results don’t necessarily mean that it’s time to rethink the advice that pregnant women shouldn’t drink. Research has shown that drinking can cause physical deformities as well as behavioral and cognitive symptoms in babies, including fetal alcohol syndrome.
Image: Pregnant woman with wine, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Bed-sharing between parents and a baby is associated with a five-fold increase in the risk that an infant could die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. The risk, according to a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, is the same even in households where parents do not smoke, take drugs, or drink alcohol–the factors that have been previously associated with SIDS. More from MedPageToday.com:
When neither parent smoked, and the baby was breastfed, less than 3-months old, and had no other major SIDS risk factors, the adjusted odds ratio for bed-sharing versus room-sharing was still 5.1 (2.3 to 11.4), reported Robert Carpenter PhD, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues, in the online journal BMJ Open.
The estimated absolute risk for bed-sharing compared with room-sharing was 0.23/1,000 live births (0.11 to 0.43) versus 0.08/1,000 live births, they added.
Nine out of 10 SIDS deaths that involved sleeping with a parent or caregiver would not have occurred in the absence of bed-sharing, the researchers concluded.
Advice on bed-sharing varies by country, but “there is general acceptance that sleeping with a baby is a risk factor for SIDS when sleeping … in a bed if the mother smokes and/or has taken alcohol,” the authors explained. But there’s less consensus on whether bed-sharing is still a problem with the absence of these risk factors.
The study combined five major case-control trials conducted in the U.K. and Europe, as well as in Australia and surrounding countries, that included 1,472 infant SIDS deaths and 4,679 controls, making it the largest study of SIDS risk factors ever reported, according to the authors.
Bed-sharing was defined as sleeping in the same bed with one or both parents, while room-sharing was defined as sleeping in a crib in the same room as a parent.
Updated 5/22/13 to remove the reference to “co-sleeping.” While “co-sleeping” and “bed-sharing” are sometimes used interchangeably, there are methods of co-sleeping that are safe, while studies such as the one discussed in this post show the dangers of bed-sharing.
Dress Baby for Sleep
Image: Baby in bed, via Shutterstock
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Monday, July 23rd, 2012
One in 13 pregnant women reports that they have had alcoholic drinks during their pregnancies, some even admitting to drinking binges, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. From The Huffington Post:
The CDC numbers are from national telephone surveys that included 14,000 pregnant women. They were asked whether they drank alcohol the previous month and how much.
Of those who said they drank, nearly 1 in 5 said they went on at least one binge – downing four or more drinks. Pregnant women ages 35 to 44 were the biggest drinkers.
The good news: Binge drinking among pregnant women is down slightly since a similar study was done in the early 2000s.
Image: Pregnant woman with beer, via Shutterstock.
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Friday, June 15th, 2012
Researchers in the United Kingdom have made some surprising findings when it comes to lifestyle changes that have long been believed to help improve male fertility. Smoking, drinking, and body weight were found in a recent study to have no impact on fertility–and in fact, if couples delay treatment while waiting for the male partner to improve on these measures, their chances of achieving a pregnancy might actually decline because time continues to go by. Time.com reports:
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Based on the data, researchers further found that lifestyle factors like use of recreational drugs, smoking, drinking and body weight had little effect. For instance, the proportion of men with low swimming sperm counts was similar whether they smoked over 20 cigarettes a day or if they had never smoked before. Alcohol use was also unrelated to fertility among men.
“The message of ‘No smoking, drinking in moderation, no street drugs and not be too overweight’ is clearly sound and should be offered to men as good health advice,” says study author Dr. Andrew Povey of University of Manchester’s School of Community Based Medicine. ”However, the evidence from this study is that even if the man changes his lifestyle in such a fashion, such changes are unlikely to improve his chances of conceiving a child.”
The findings came as a surprise to the researchers. “I expected to find a link with smoking, as studies have often reported that smoking is bad for semen quality,” says Povey. “When I looked again at the evidence for such statements, I found that it wasn’t necessarily that strong and that if there was an effect of smoking, it was more likely to occur within the normal range of semen quality and not then directly affect whether a man was likely to be infertile or not.”
Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
An article to be published in this Sunday’s New York Times magazine reports on an emerging trend in the study of behavior among teenagers: a decline in “bad behaviors” like smoking marijuana, using alcohol, and becoming pregnant. From the article:
By several noteworthy measures, today’s teenagers are growing increasingly conservative. While marijuana use has recently had an uptick, teenagers are smoking far less pot than their parents did at the same age. In 1980, about 60 percent of high-school seniors had tried marijuana and 9 percent smoked it daily. Among seniors today, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, which has tracked teenage risk behaviors since 1975, 45.5 percent have tried the drug and 6.6 percent are smoking it frequently.
Adolescent use of alcohol, tobacco and most illegal drugs is also far lower than it was 30 years ago. In 1980, about a third of 12th graders had smoked in the past month; today that number has dropped to fewer than 1 in 5. Teenage alcohol use has reached historic lows. In 1980, 72 percent of high-school seniors said they had recently consumed alcohol, compared with just 40 percent in 2011. In 1981, about 43 percent of 12th graders had tried an illegal drug other than pot; in 2011 that number fell to 25 percent.
Today’s teenagers are also far less likely to have sex or get pregnant compared with their parent’s generation. In 1988, half of boys 15 to 17 had experienced sex; by 2010 that number fell to just 28 percent. The percentage of teenage girls having sex dropped to 27 percent from 37.2 percent, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Image: A group of teenagers, via Shutterstock.
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