Posts Tagged ‘ pregnancy health ’

Frequent Tylenol Use in Pregnancy May Carry Risks

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Pregnant women who take Tylenol or over-the-counter pain-relieving medications that contain acetaminophen may be putting their babies at higher risk of developing language issues or behavioral problems, a new study conducted in Norway has found.  More from NBC News:

The new study is the first to look at young children whose mothers took Tylenol while pregnant.

“Our findings suggest that (acetaminophen) might not be as harmless as we think,” Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen said. She led the study at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Oslo in Norway.

She and her co-authors studied 48,000 Norwegian children whose mothers answered survey questions about their medication use at weeks 17 and 30 of pregnancy, and again six months after giving birth.

Mothers filled out a follow-up questionnaire about their child’s developmental milestones three years later.

Close to 4 percent of women took Tylenol for at least 28 days total during pregnancy.

Their children seemed to have poorer motor skills than kids whose mothers had taken the drug fewer times or not at all. Tylenol-exposed kids also tended to start walking later, have poorer communication and language skills and more behavior problems.

It’s difficult to define risks for pregnant women and their children, since rigorous tests and controlled studies of drug exposure aren’t ethical, Brandlistuen said. All researchers can do is closely observe women in the real world.

But this study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, involved a large number of women, and researchers also looked for any link to ibuprofen, a pain-relief alternative without acetaminophen.

They found no development problems tied to ibuprofen.

“Long-term use of (acetaminophen) increased the risk of behavior problems by 70 percent at age three,” Brandlistuen said. “That is considerable.”

Heavy users most often reported taking the drug for five to seven days in a row a few times during pregnancy, she said.

Image: Pregnant woman taking medication, via Shuttestock

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Exercise During Pregnancy May Boost Baby’s Brain

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Women who get regular physical exercise during pregnancy may be doing their babies a favor by boosting their brain activity as well as their cardiovascular development.  More on a new study by Canadian researchers from The New York Times:

It has long been suspected that a mother-to-be’s activity — or lack of it — affects her unborn offspring, which is not surprising, given how their physiologies intertwine. Past studies have shown, for example, that a baby’s heart rate typically rises in unison with his or her exercising mother’s, as if the child were also working out. As a result, scientists believe, babies born to active mothers tend to have more robust cardiovascular systems from an early age than babies born to mothers who are more sedentary.

Whether gestational exercise similarly shapes an unborn child’s developing brain has been harder to quantify, although recent studies have been suggestive. An experiment presented this month at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in San Diego, for instance, reported that pregnant rats allowed to run on wheels throughout their pregnancies birthed pups that performed more dexterously in early childhood on a tricky memory test — having to identify unfamiliar objects in a familiar environment — than pups born to sedentary moms. These clever rats retained their cognitive advantage into adulthood (meaning, for rats, weeks later).

But this and similar experiments have involved animals, rather than people. Many of these studies also began comparing the creatures’ cognitive abilities when they were old enough to move about and respond to their world, by which time they potentially might have been shaped as much by their environment as by their time in the womb.

So to minimize these concerns, researchers at the University of Montreal in Canada recently recruited a group of local women who were in their first trimester of pregnancy. At that point, the women were almost identical in terms of lifestyle. All were healthy, young adults. None were athletes. Few had exercised regularly in the past, and none had exercised more than a day or two per week in the past year.

Then the women were randomized either to begin an exercise program, commencing in their second trimester, or to remain sedentary. The women in the exercise group were asked to work out for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, at a moderate intensity, equivalent to about a six or so on a scale of exertion from one to 10. Most of the women walked or jogged.

Every month, for the remainder of each woman’s pregnancy, she would visit the university’s exercise lab, so researchers could monitor her fitness. All of the volunteers, including those in the nonexercise group, also maintained daily activity logs.

After about six months and following the dictates of nature, the women gave birth. All, thankfully, had healthy boys or girls — which the scientists gently requested that the mothers almost immediately bring in for testing.

Within 12 days of birth, in fact, each of the newborns accompanied his or her mother to the lab. There, each baby was fitted with an adorable little cap containing electrodes that monitor electrical activity in the brain, settled in his or her mother’s lap, and soothed to sleep. Researchers then started a sound loop featuring a variety of low, soft sounds that recurred frequently, interspersed occasionally with more jarring, unfamiliar noises, while the baby’s brain activity was recorded.

“We know that baby’s brains respond to these kinds of sounds with a spike” in certain types of brain activity, said Elise Labonte-LeMoyne, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montreal, who led the study and also presented her findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. This spike is most pronounced in immature brains, she continued, and diminishes as a newborn’s brain develops and begins processing information more efficiently. “It usually disappears altogether by the time a baby is 4 months old,” she said,

In this case, the relevant brainwave activity soared in response to the novel sounds among the children born to mothers who had remained sedentary during pregnancy. But it was noticeably blunted in the babies whose mothers had exercised. In essence, “their brains were more mature,” Ms. Labonte-LeMoyne said.

Pregnancy Workouts: Easy Beginner Exercises
Pregnancy Workouts: Easy Beginner Exercises
Pregnancy Workouts: Easy Beginner Exercises

 

Image: Fit pregnant woman, via Shutterstock

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Plastics, Chemicals Used in Cosmetics Linked to Premature Births

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Exposure to phthalates, a type of chemical used in certain plastics and cosmetics, has been linked in a recent study to an elevated risk that pregnant women will deliver their babies prematurely.  More from Reuters:

Researchers found that women who delivered babies before 37 weeks gestation had higher levels of phthalates in their urine, compared to women who delivered their children at full term, which is 39 weeks.

Preterm birth is a real public health problem,” said John Meeker, who led the study. “We’re not really sure how to go about preventing it, but this may shed light on environmental factors that people may want to be educated in.”

Meeker, from the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, added, “We knew that exposure to phthalates was virtually ubiquitous here in the U.S. and possibly worldwide and preterm births increased for unknown reasons over the past several decades.”

Phthalates are included in products for a variety of reasons, include to make plastic flexible.

Image: Lipsticks, via Shutterstock

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Weight Loss Surgery Could Mean Pregnancy Risks

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Women who have had bariatric surgery as a weight loss solution may face an elevated risk of some pregnancy complications, including giving birth to babies who have low birth weight and are born prematurely, a new study has found.  More from The New York Times:

The authors of the research, published in BMJ, looked at roughly 15,000 births that took place in Sweden between 1992 and 2009, including about 2,500 among women who had had had weight loss surgery. On average, the women delivered about five years after the surgery.

After controlling for age, smoking and other factors that could influence pregnancy complications, the researchers found that 10 percent of children born to women who had undergone bariatric surgery were delivered prematurely, compared with 6 percent in the other group.

A similar pattern was found for low birth weight. Five percent of children born to mothers in the surgery group were small for their gestational age, compared with 3 percent in the other group.

The researchers speculate that the trends could be driven by deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, which occur after bariatric surgery and could affect fetal and placental growth.

Image: Pregnant belly, via Shutterstock

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Pregnant Blogger’s Extreme Diet Sparks Debate

Friday, November 15th, 2013

An Australian woman who is blogging about her lifestyle during pregnancy is stirring up major debate because of her “healthy” eating plan that many are calling extreme.  More from The Huffington Post:

Loni Jane Anthony, a 25-year-old Australian woman who is 26 weeks pregnant, made headlines after giving an interview to News.com.au about her atypical diet, part of which includes a morning meal of 10 bananas.

The nutrition plan is called the 80:10:10 Diet, which is 80 percent carbs, 10 percent fat and 10 percent protein. It was founded by Dr. Douglas Graham, a raw foodist who doesn’t associate the plan with fruitarianism.

Anthony, who claimed to have had health problems in the past because of her poor diet, told News.com.au that transforming her eating habits about three years ago saved her life. Now, her average day starts with warm lemon water in the morning, followed by either half a watermelon, a banana smoothie or whole oranges, then five or six mangos for lunch and a large salad for dinner. She said she has an alcoholic drink once every five months….

But the young mom-to-be’s diet has some raising their eyebrows and wondering if the meal plan is healthy for her unborn child.

“I feel uncomfortable with Loni’s ‘transformation’ because it doesn’t sound safe for her baby,” blogger Ami Angelowicz of The Frisky wrote. “I’m not a doctor, of course, but common sense and the little knowledge I have about nutrition tells me that you have to consume more than bananas and mangoes each day when you’re eating for two. I really try not to concern myself with what other people eat (or how much CrossFit they do), but it seems irresponsible to glorify the extreme fruitarian lifestyle for pregnant women.”

A commenter questioned if her banana intake could lead to hyperkalemia, or high potassium in the blood. Information from the Mayo Clinic on the condition, however, does not suggest it would.

Others, like Mommyish blogger Eva Vawter, doesn’t think Anthony’s diet is anyone’s business. Vawter wrote that even if the 6-month-pregnant woman “ate 90 bags of Cheetos and had an IV of Mountain Dew hooked into her vein” it still wouldn’t be anyone’s business.

The Mayo Clinc advises pregnant women to maintain a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. It also says that nutrients like folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, protein and iron are important during pregnancy. These can be obtained via foods like spinach, beans, milk, yogurt, salmon, eggs, lentils and poultry.

Could you be pregnant? Take our quiz and find out! We’ve planned your week of pregnancy meals (and snacks).

Image: Mound of bananas, via Shutterstock

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