Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
A new study from Denmark suggests that moms who quit smoking right before or right after getting pregnant are more likely to give birth to normal-weight babies than women who continue to puff.
Of the nearly 1,800 women in the study, those who quit smoking did gain about six more pounds than those who continued to smoke, and they gained roughly the same amount in the year after delivery. But their babies weighed the same, on average, as the babies of moms who never smoked. Low-birth-weight babies face higher risk for infections, respiratory disorders, and learning disabilities.
Reuters has more details:
“The big thing to get out of this study is that quitting early in pregnancy is as helpful in respect to the birth weight of your baby as never having smoked while you were pregnant,” Dr. Amber Samuel, a maternal-fetal medicine expert at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said.
“I think that can be an inspiration to moms who are looking to make a change in their lives.”
According to the American Cancer Society, between 10 and 15 percent of women smoke during pregnancy. Studies have linked smoking to premature birth and other complications, such as birth defects, low birth weight, and stillbirth.
Infants have a three to four times higher risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome, or “crib death,” if their mothers smoke during and after pregnancy. Children exposed to secondhand smoke also have more ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and other health problems.
The new study included 1,774 women who were part of the “Smoke-free Newborn” study conducted in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 1996 and 1999.
Twice during pregnancy, researchers surveyed women about their smoking status. To double-check whether women who said they quit smoking really did, their saliva was checked for cotinine – created when nicotine is broken down in the body.
About 38 percent of women were smokers before becoming pregnant, and half of them quit right before or soon after, Dr. Line Rode of Copenhagen University Hospital and colleagues found.
During pregnancy, nonsmokers gained almost 30 pounds, on average, smokers gained 29 pounds and quitters gained 35 pounds.
Image: Pregnant belly with cigarette, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
Women who get poor sleep during pregnancy–either not enough time asleep or restless sleep–may disrupt the immune system and lead to lower birth weight and other complications, a new study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine has found. More from ScienceDaily.com:
Women with depression also are more likely than non-depressed women to suffer from disturbed sleep and to experience immune system disruption and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
“Our results highlight the importance of identifying sleep problems in early pregnancy, especially in women experiencing depression, since sleep is a modifiable behavior,” said Michele Okun, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Pitt’s School of Medicine and lead author of the report. “The earlier that sleep problems are identified, the sooner physicians can work with pregnant women to implement solutions.”
Adequate and high-quality sleep, both in pregnant and non-pregnant women as well as men, is essential for a healthy immune system. Pregnancy often is associated with changes in sleep patterns, including shortened sleep, insomnia symptoms and poor sleep quality. These disturbances can exacerbate the body’s inflammatory responses and cause an overproduction of cytokines, which act as signal molecules that communicate among immune cells.
“There is a dynamic relationship between sleep and immunity, and this study is the first to examine this relationship during pregnancy as opposed to postpartum,” added Dr. Okun.
While cytokines are important for numerous pregnancy-related processes, excess cytokines can attack and destroy healthy cells and cause destruction of tissue in pregnant women, thereby inhibiting the ability to ward off disease. For expectant mothers, excess cytokines also can disrupt spinal arteries leading to the placenta, cause vascular disease, lead to depression and cause pre-term birth.
Image: Sleeping pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
Receiving a flu shot during pregnancy may reduce the chances that a woman will give worth a baby with low birthweight, a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found. US News and World Report explains the study:
The study included 340 pregnant women in Bangladesh who were divided into two groups — 170 who received the flu vaccine and 170 who received a different vaccine that does not protect against the flu. All of the women were in their third trimester.
When the seasonal influenza virus was circulating in the population, the flu vaccine group had fewer babies who were small for their gestational age than the other group — about 26 percent versus 45 percent.
The percentage of small-for-gestational-age births was similar in both groups when the influenza virus was dormant, according to the study published Feb. 21 in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
When the influenza virus was circulating, the mean birth weight was 7 pounds in the flu vaccine group and 6.6 pounds in the group that didn’t get flu shots, the investigators found.
“Our data suggest that the prevention of infection with seasonal influenza in pregnant women by vaccination can influence fetal growth,” Dr. Mark Steinhoff, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, and colleagues wrote in their report.
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, July 28th, 2011
Hunger and malnourishment are on the rise among children in five American cities, but mostly in Boston, a new hospital study reports. The Boston Medical Center (BMC) has seen a marked increase in underweight and undernourished children, The Boston Globe reports:
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Before the economy soured in 2007, 12 percent of youngsters age 3 and under whose families were randomly surveyed in the hospital’s emergency department were significantly underweight. In 2010, that percentage jumped to 18 percent, and the tide does not appear to be abating, said Dr. Megan Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics and public health at BMC.
“Food is costing more, and dollars don’t stretch as far,’’ Sandel said. “It’s hard to maintain a diet that is healthy.’’
Pediatricians at hospitals in four other cities – Baltimore; Little Rock, Ark.; Minneapolis; and Philadelphia – also reported increases in the ranks of malnourished, hungry youngsters in their emergency rooms since 2008. But Boston’s increases were more dramatic, said Sandel, a lead investigator with Children’s HealthWatch, a network of researchers who track children’s health. Researchers said higher housing and heating costs in Massachusetts probably exacerbated the state’s surge.
The emergency room survey found a similarly striking increase in the percentage of families with children who reported they did not have enough food each month, from 18 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2010.
The article reported that BMC has also noted a 58 percent increase in the past 5 years in the number of severely underweight babies referred to the hospital’s intensive infant nutrition program called The Grow Clinic. The clinic’s current patient load is similar to typical figures from developing countries.