Monday, August 19th, 2013
There’s been a flurry of recent headlines about giant babies born around the world, weighing in at 13 pounds or more. One British baby, born in March via vaginal delivery, clocked in at a whopping 15 pounds.
Researchers say the risk of having a big baby has increased because more mothers are obese when they give birth, and many women are delaying motherhood, boosting their risk of gestational diabetes, which contributes to over-sized babes.
This trend not only scares expecting moms, but also sets up newborns for poor health, reports NBCNews.com:
Along with the risk of a difficult birth, there is the impact on the health of the babies once they are born, says Dr. Irina Burd, an assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics and neurology and director of the integrated research center for fetal medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
It’s not uncommon for overweight moms to have diabetes or to develop it during pregnancy. And some of the high blood sugar in the mom flows through the placenta to the baby. That, in turn, forces the baby’s pancreas to pump up insulin production, which can leave babies with low blood sugar after they are born, Burd says.
Another problem is that sugar acts like a growth factor, and not all the growth is in sync, says Dr. Hyagriv Simhan, chief of maternal fetal medicine and vice chair for obstetrics at McGee Women’s Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“In some ways very large babies look more mature because of their size,” Simhan adds. “But in terms of their lungs, they may be immature.”
Even more concerning are the effects felt by big babies as they grow up. “So they’re not just obese at delivery, but there are epigenetic changes that program them for the rest of their lives,” Burd says. And those include a heightened risk for obesity and cancer, she says.
That’s why doctors have tried to encourage pregnant patients who are obese to gain very little weight during pregnancy.
Newborn baby on scale, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
A baby girl weighing 13 pounds 12 ounces was born this week in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Cesarean section, The Huffington Post is reporting. Addyson Gayle Cessna set a record at the hospital where she was born, and she joins a growing number of babies who are unusually large, including a boy born last March in England weighing more than 15 pounds. Experts warn, as The Huffington Post reports, that the phenomenon is more a concern than an amusing novelty:
While these big babies may be cute, just like their adult counterparts, notable weights often signal more serious health problems.
Mary Helen Black, a biostatistician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s department of research and evaluation explained to HuffPost in an interview last year, “There may be a general perception that, ‘Oh, the baby’s big, but so what?’ That’s a misperception.” She cautioned that babies who are born too large are at an increased risk “for very serious consequences both during delivery, for the mother and the infant, as well as later in life — for the infant.”
Known as “fetal macrosomia,” when a baby is born weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces, this condition can be attributed to maternal obesity and diabetes, among other factors.
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Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
Starting Wednesday (August 1), American women will be entitled to free birth control pills, Pap smear tests, and mammograms as a provision of the new health care law takes effect. NBC News reports that women will also be entitled to free breastfeeding support, supplies for gestational diabetes, and screening for domestic violence:
It’s not clear how many women will take adavantage of the new policy, but the US Health and Human Services Department estimates that 47 million women, ages 15 to 64, have private health insurance plans that will be affected. The 2010 health reform law requires policies provided by private health insurance companies pay for a list of women’s health preventive services, starting August 1.
However, there may be a delay in services for many women. The law applies to new policies — women with existing coverage may have to wait for their policies to renew for the requirements to kick in, which could take months. Many health insurers already provide this coverage.
The new rules are based on guidelines from the independent, non-partisan Institute of Medicine, which said paying for these services will save money and lives down the road.
“We want healthy women to have healthy babies,” said Dr. Jennifer Howse, president of the March of Dimes Foundation, a charity that works to prevent birth defects. “Receiving regular medical care greatly increases the likelihood that important messages can be delivered to pregnant women around issues such as nutrition and tobacco cessation, and provides opportunities to detect potentially dangerous conditions like gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.”
There are a few exceptions. Purely religious employers don’t have to provide the services to employees if they object. Related groups, such as Catholic-affiliated universities, have objected so the Obama administration offered what it called an accommodation, forcing the insurance companies themselves to pay for the coverage. But the religious associations still object, as do Republicans in Congress. They have promised to repeal the whole law if they win enough seats in the November election.
Image: Birth control pills, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
Children whose mothers were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which is diabetes that develops during pregnancy, are twice as likely to meet the criteria for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by age six as children born to mothers without gestational diabetes, a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine has found.
Living in a family with below-average socioeconomic status likewise doubled the risk of ADHD in six-year-olds. But children with both risk factors — those who were exposed to gestational diabetes and grew up in a less-than-affluent household — had a 14-fold increased risk of ADHD compared to children with neither risk factor.
The findings don’t prove that gestational diabetes directly causes ADHD, but the researchers say they send a message to mothers and doctors that gestational diabetes may pose hidden dangers to a child well after birth, especially if the child grows up in a challenging environment.
“Mothers should be aware that gestational diabetes can affect her fetus,” says Yoko Nomura, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City.
Gestational diabetes, which affects roughly 5% of expectant mothers in the United States, generally develops during the second or third trimester of pregnancy — the same window of time in which a fetus undergoes a critical burst of brain development.
Image: Pregnant belly, via Shutterstock.
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