Monday, October 21st, 2013
The causes of miscarriage are commonly misunderstood by many Americans, a new national survey has shown. For example, most respondents said they believe miscarriage is rare, and that emotional stress is the major cause of miscarriage–two incorrect notions. More from LiveScience:
These false beliefs often lead to feelings of guilt or blame in parents who experience a miscarriage, according to the researchers.
“Miscarriage is a traditionally taboo subject that is rarely discussed publicly – even though nearly 1 million occur in the U.S. each year, making it the most common complication of pregnancy,” study researcher Dr. S. Zev Williams, an OB-GYN at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said in a statement.
Williams and his colleagues surveyed 1,083 men and women in the United States about their personal experiences and beliefs about miscarriage, the causes and frequency of miscarriages and their emotional impact on people who experience them.
About 65 percent of those surveyed said they thought miscarriage was rare, when in fact, it occurs in one out of four pregnancies, the researchers said. However, 66 percent reported that the emotional impact is severe and potentially equivalent to losing a child, which is a reality for many people who experience one.
Chromosomal abnormalities are in fact the most common cause of miscarriages, accounting for 60 to 80 percent. But among the survey respondents, 76 percent listed a stressful event as a common cause, 74 percent cited longstanding stress and 64 percent cited lifting a heavy object. Forty-one percent said they believed miscarriages may be due to sexually transmitted diseases, 31 percent cited previous abortions, and 28 percent cited implanted long-term forms of birth control.
Nearly a quarter of those surveyed falsely believed that a mother not wanting the pregnancy could result in a miscarriage.
Results of the survey were presented Oct. 17 at the meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in Boston.
Image: Sad woman, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, July 18th, 2013
A potentially game-changing discovery on the developmental and intellectual disorder Down syndrome has been made by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who were able to shut down the “extra” chromosome that causes the disorder using human cells grown in a laboratory dish. It is a finding that medical experts are causing “revolutionary,” as The Boston Globe reports:
“It really is revolutionary, in terms of causing us all to rethink the one impossible thought—can you make, functionally, that extra chromosome disappear,” said Dr. Brian Skotko, co-director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, who was not involved in the new study. “I don’t think any of us thought it was possible or even within the current realm of scientific dreaming that we might one day be able to do it.”
The discovery, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, highlights a broad shift in how scientists, doctors, and families view Down syndrome. In the decades since the chromosome abnormality was identified in 1959, there had been little serious talk about trying to treat its complex underlying biological cause. But research and advocacy are beginning to change the discussion: At Mass. General, two clinical trials of drugs intended to improve the cognitive capacities of adults with Down syndrome are set to start in the next few months.
The hope is that drug therapies, even given in adulthood, could partly restore normal function in the brains of people with Down syndrome. But the condition alters brain development in the womb, so some scientists believe that to be most effective, therapies would need to be administered during pregnancy. Nobody is sure whether the UMass technique could ever be leveraged as a treatment either.
Two drugs will be tested at Mass. General, one made by the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche, and another by Elan Corporation in Ireland.
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The idea of treating the core problems of Down syndrome and not just the medical problems that accompany it, appeals to families, even though such drugs would be unable to reverse all the developmental problems.
Image: Laboratory dishes, via Shutterstock