Thursday, August 9th, 2012
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics has found that babies born to overweight or obese mothers actually gain weight and length more slowly than babies born to normal-weight women. More from Newswise:
Contrary to expectations, babies of overweight/obese mothers gained less weight and grew less in length than babies of normal-weight women from just after birth to three months. The overweight/obese mother babies also gained less fat mass than those born to normal-weight mothers. Fat mass in infants is widely considered to be crucial to brain growth and development. (That may explain why humans have the fattest newborns of any mammal.)
“We’ve found these children are not growing normally,” says Katie Larson Ode, assistant clinical professor in pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at the UI. “If what we have found is true, it implies that the obesity epidemic is harming children while they are still in utero and increases the importance of addressing the risk of obesity before females enter the child-bearing years, where the negative effects can affect the next generation.”
Six in ten U.S. women of childbearing age are overweight or obese, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Children of overweight or obese mothers, in general, catch up to their normal-weight-mother peers at some point, according to studies; unfortunately, they also have a higher risk of continuing to rapidly gain weight in adolescence and becoming fat themselves, triggering health problems throughout their lifetimes.
Image: Overweight pregnant woman, via Shutterstock.
Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
A drug given to pregnant women with a predisposition toward a rare birth defect in which babies are born with ambiguous genitalia is under fire in a paper published in the journal Bioethical Inquiry. NBC News has more on the paper, which charges that the drug is targeting sexual variations including lesbianism and “tomboyism”:
A new paper by Alice Dreger, a researcher and medical humanities and bioethics professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, targets that controversy and exposes what she regards as the questionable ethics that have allowed a generation of pregnant woman to serve as virtual guinea pigs for fetal engineering.
The paper, published in the journal Bioethical Inquiry, indicts Dr. Maria I. New, the most prodigious promoter of prenatal dexamethasone for CAH [congenital adrenal hyperplasia]. It also criticizes the institutions where New has worked and the federal government, for “de facto experimentation on fetuses and pregnant women, largely outside of prospective long-term trials and without adequate informed consent.”
Dreger charges that the government failed to collect and publish evidence about use of dexamethasone and that public funds were used for research to “prevent benign behavioral sex variations, including tomboyism and lesbianism.”
At issue is the treatment for CAH, an adrenal disorder that causes an overproduction of male hormones. CAH can occur in several forms, but “classic” CAH affects roughly 1 in 16,000 births in the United States. It occurs when two parents each carries a certain genetic mutation. Typically, they’re unaware they’re carriers until a child is born with the disorder.
The condition affects both boys and girls. In boys, it can result in larger penises, short stature and, later in life, cardiovascular and blood pressure problems.
In girls, like [26-year-old Jenny] Westpahl’s daughter, the male hormones can cause ambiguous genitals. That may sound like mainly a cosmetic issue, but girls with CAH can have frequent urinary tract infections. They may be unable to have sexual intercourse, or they may find it extremely painful. Even if they are fertile, they may not be able to bear children.
Image: Pregnant woman with medication, via Shutterstock.
Monday, August 6th, 2012
Listeria, the food-borne bacteria that is of particular danger to pregnant women, is rearing its head again in a recall of cantaloupes grown in North Carolina and sold in 10 states, NBC News is reporting. Last summer and fall, a similar cantaloupe-related outbreak claimed 30 lives, sickened 146, and caused at least one miscarriage.
Burch Equipment LLC of Faison, N.C., is pulling 188,902 melons from store shelves in 10 states because of possible contamination that can cause illness and death, particularly in the very young, the very old, pregnant women and those with health problems….
The new recall of 13,888 cases of whole Athena variety cantaloupes follows a recall last week of 580 cases of the summer fruit.
Federal Food and Drug Administration officials and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture are conducting an ongoing inspection at Burch Farms. The FDA warned this week that consumers should not eat the summer melons, which carry a red Burch Farms label and the code PLU #4319.
The melons were shipped between July 15 and July 17 and distributed to retail stores in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.
No illnesses have yet been connected with Burch melons.
Image: Cantaloupe, via Shutterstock
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.
Thursday, July 19th, 2012
Women who consume modest amounts of coffee while pregnant are not putting their children at risk for later hyperactivity issues due to the beverage’s caffeine content, a new Australian study has found. The Huffington Post reports:
Participants in the study (3,400 mothers) were asked how much coffee they consumed during pregnancy. When their children turned 5 or 6, the same women filled out questionnaires about their kids’ behavioral health -– teachers completed an identical survey. The authors concluded that mothers who drank caffeine during pregnancy did not put their kids at risk for “hyperactivity/inattention problems, emotional symptoms, conduct problems, peer relationship problems, overall problem behavior, or suboptimal prosocial behavior.”
This study follows a study published in the journal Pediatrics last April, which concluded that coffee intake during pregnancy does not lead to colic in infants.
Image: Pregnant woman drinking coffee, via Shutterstock