Monday, June 23rd, 2014
A set of birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defects, have been found by a new study to be more common among babies with Hispanic mothers. The March of Dimes report also found that Hispanic mothers are more likely to give birth prematurely–both findings are possibly linked to nutritional deficiencies more common to that community.
More from HealthDay News:
This report, updating a similar 2008 paper by the nonprofit foundation, also highlights the fact that a greater proportion of Hispanic women have babies each year than any other population in the United States, making it the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country.
“One of the things that caught our eye was, while Hispanics represent 17 percent of the population, 24 percent of premature babies are Hispanic,” said Dr. Edward McCabe, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the March of Dimes, an organization aimed at improving the health of mothers and babies.
Hispanic women may be more prone to giving birth prematurely — defined as before the 37th week of pregnancy — because of risk factors such as being three times as likely as white mothers to be younger than 17 years old. They are also less likely to have graduated from high school and more likely to lack health insurance. The rate of preterm births among Hispanics was about 12 percent higher than that of white mothers in 2012, the report said.
Neural tube defects, which include conditions such as spina bifida and anencephaly, are malformations of the brain and spinal cord that can cause death or disability.
Experts suggested that Hispanic mothers are significantly more likely to give birth to babies with these birth defects than white or black women because corn masa flour is a staple of the diet of a majority of Hispanics. Corn masa flour, used to make tortillas and other foods, is not fortified with folic acid, a B vitamin that can help prevent neural tube defects. Wheat flour manufacturers are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to fortify that type of flour with folic acid, also called folate.
Also, Hispanic women are less likely to report taking a multivitamin containing folic acid prior to becoming pregnant, according to the report.
“This is why the March of Dimes is striving to have masa cornmeal fortified with folate,” said Dr. Diana Ramos, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles.
“Corn masa flour is not part of the standard American diet, so, since 2012, we’ve been working on this, making progress slowly,” added Ramos, co-chair of the newly established March of Dimes Hispanic Advisory Council.
McCabe said the March of Dimes has launched a Spanish-language site, Nacersano.org, that offers information about the specific health needs of Hispanics. He said a variety of outreach efforts, including the website and new advisory council, are needed to help raise awareness in the Hispanic community about the need for folic acid consumption and prenatal health.
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 26th, 2013
One out of every six American fathers lives apart from his children, according to new data released by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data was part of a study that examined how involved fathers are in their children’s lives. More from HealthDay News:
“Men who live with [their] kids interact with them more. Just the proximity makes it easier,” said study author Jo Jones, a statistician and demographer with the U.S. National Centers for Health Statistics.
“But significant portions of fathers who are not coresidential play with their children, eat with them and more on a daily basis. There’s a segment of non-coresidential dads who participate very actively,” Jones said. “Then there are the coresidential dads who don’t participate as much, although that’s a much smaller percentage — only 1 or 2 percent. Living with children doesn’t necessarily mean a dad will be involved.”
Jones said other studies have shown that a father’s involvement helps children academically and behaviorally. “Children whose fathers are involved usually have better outcomes than children who don’t have dads in their lives,” she said.
The findings were published online Dec. 20 in a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study included a nationally representative sample of more than 10,000 men between the ages of 15 and 44, about half of whom were fathers. The study included adopted, biological and stepchildren. The men were surveyed about their involvement with the children in their lives.
Seventy-three percent of the fathers lived with their children, while another 11 percent had children they lived with as well as some they didn’t live with. Sixteen percent of the fathers had children they didn’t live with at all, according to the study.
For children under the age of 5, 72 percent of dads living at home fed or ate meals with their child daily, compared to about 8 percent of dads who didn’t live with their young children, the study found. More older fathers, Hispanic fathers and dads with a high school education or less reported not having eaten a meal with their children in the past four weeks.
Ninety percent of fathers living with their young children bathed, diapered or dressed them, compared to 31 percent of dads who lived apart from their children. Older dads, Hispanic fathers and those with a high school diploma or less again were less likely to have participated in these activities, according to the study.
Dads who lived with young kids were six times more likely to read to them.
Image: Father and child, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
A new study of U.S. school children has found that black and Hispanic children are half as likely as their white peers to receive a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). More from Reuters:
“We’re seeing that the disparities occur as early as kindergarten and then remain and continue until the end of eighth grade,” said Paul Morgan, who led the study at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.
“It’s a consistent pattern of what we’re interpreting as comparative underdiagnosis for minority populations,” he told Reuters Health.
That’s a concern, Morgan said, because it means some kids who could benefit from treatment – including medication or talk therapy – and extra help in the classroom may be missing out.
The researchers also found that compared to white children with the condition, minority kids who were diagnosed with ADHD were less likely to be prescribed medications, which include the stimulants Vyvanse, Ritalin and Concerta.
They tracked 15,100 kids from the kindergarten class of 1998-1999 using regular parent surveys.
Image: Latino child, via Shutterstock
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Friday, May 24th, 2013
Teen birth rates have been declining steadily in recent years, but they now have shown marked declines in virtually every U.S. state, especially in the Mountain states and especially among the Hispanic population, according to a new government report. More from The Associated Press:
All states but West Virginia and North Dakota showed significant drops over five years. But the Mountain States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah saw rates fall by 30 percent or more.
In 22 states, teen Hispanic birth rates plunged at least 40 percent, which was described as “just amazing,” by the report’s lead author, Brady Hamilton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What’s driving the declines? No one can say for sure. Experts believe the explanation is complicated and probably varies a bit from state to state. The national figure has been falling since 1991, aside from a brief interruption in 2006 and 2007.
The CDC report released Thursday is based on birth certificates for 2007 through 2011. Last year, the CDC announced the overall improvement in teen births: a record low of 31 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19. That compares with 42 births per 1,000 five years earlier.
Image: United States map, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
As a growing number of Hispanic families choose to have fewer children, the rate of babies born to Hispanic and Latina woman has declined shortly in recent years, a new report from the Pew Research Center has found. The New York Times has more:
Both immigrant and native-born Latinas had steeper birthrate declines from 2007 to 2010 than other groups, including non-Hispanic whites, blacks and Asians, a drop some demographers and sociologists attribute to changes in the views of many Hispanic women about motherhood.
As a result, in 2011, the American birthrate hit a record low, with 63 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, led by the decline in births to immigrant women. The national birthrate is now about half what it was during the baby boom years, when it peaked in 1957 at 122.7 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age.
The decline in birthrates was steepest among Mexican-American women and women who immigrated from Mexico, at 25.7 percent. This has reversed a trend in which immigrant mothers accounted for a rising share of births in the United States, according to a recent report by the Pew Research Center. In 2010, birthrates among all Hispanics reached their lowest level in 20 years, the center found.
The sudden drop-off, which coincided with the onset of the recession, suggests that attitudes have changed since the days when older generations of Latinos prized large families and more closely followed Roman Catholic teachings, which forbid artificial contraception.
Image: Hispanic mother and children, via Shutterstock
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