Friday, January 3rd, 2014
A new study has found that women who use long-term birth control methods like intrauterine devices (IUDs) after having a baby are less likely to become pregnant again quickly than women who rely on other methods of birth control. More from Reuters:
The World Health Organization endorses a two-year period between birth and a woman’s next conception.
Still, one third of all repeat pregnancies in the U.S. occur within 18 months of the previous child’s birth. And a growing body of evidence shows this close timing increases the risk a baby will be born early or at a low birth weight.
The time between pregnancies “cannot be explained only by the mother’s preferences,” Heike Thiel de Bocanegra said.
She and her colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco investigated the link between access to birth control or family planning services and pregnancy spacing.
In the current study of 117,644 California women who’d had at least two children, 64 percent waited 18 months or more between pregnancies and the rest did not.
All women included in the study filed claims through the state’s Medicaid program for the poor, called Medi-Cal, or through health providers offering state-funded family planning services.
The researchers matched data on claims for contraceptives to California’s birth registry.
“We assumed that access to contraception . . . would improve birth spacing,” Dr. Anitra Beasley wrote in an email to Reuters Health.
“This study actually examines this assumption,” she said.
Beasley, who studies family planning at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, was not part of the current research.
Women who used long-acting reversible contraception, including IUDs or implants, were four times more likely to wait at least 18 months to conceive again, compared to those who only used “barrier” contraceptives like condoms or spermicide.
More than half of women started using birth control pills, the ring or the patch after giving birth. They were twice as likely to wait at least 18 months between pregnancies as condom users.
Those relationships stood firm even when the researchers looked at possible influences like the mother’s race, education, age and whether she was born in the U.S., according to the report published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Image: Birth control words, via Shutterstock
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Monday, December 30th, 2013
Women who regularly eat tree nuts or peanuts during pregnancy may be less likely to give birth to babies who later develop nut allergies, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found. More from CNN.com:
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to demonstrate that a mother who eats nuts during pregnancy may help build up a baby’s tolerance to them after birth, its lead author, Dr. Michael Young, told CNN.
The effect seemed to be strongest in women who ate the most peanuts or tree nuts — five or more servings per week, according to the study, which controlled for factors such as family history of nut allergies and other dietary practices.
Peanut and tree nut allergies tend to overlap, according to the researchers.
Earlier studies indicated that nut consumption during pregnancy either didn’t have any effect or actually raised the risk of allergies in children.
However, the authors of the latest study say those studies were based on less reliable data and conflict with more recent research suggesting that early exposure to nuts can reduce the risk of developing allergies to them.
There is currently no formally recognized medical guidance for nut consumption during pregnancy or infancy.
Download our Food Allergy Action Plan.
Image: Pregnant woman eating nuts, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, December 24th, 2013
Babies born to mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy are not any more likely to develop an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than babies born to mothers who didn’t take the medication. More from Reuters:
Women who take a common type of antidepressant during pregnancy are not more likely to have a child with autism, according to a new study from Denmark.
But children did have a higher than usual risk when their mothers took the drugs – known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – for depression or anxiety before becoming pregnant.
That suggests a possible link between a mother’s preexisting mental health issues and the developmental disorder that hinders social and communication skills.
“Our interpretation is that women with indications for SSRI use differ from women who do not use SSRIs because of these indications (depression, anxiety), and some of these differences are somehow related to an increased risk of having children who develop autism,” Dr. Anders Hviid said. He led the study at the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen.
“Whether these differences are genetic, social or something completely different is speculation at this point,” Hviid said.
The findings, combined with a separate analysis of the same database published last month in the journal Clinical Epidemiology, suggest people looking for a link between autism and SSRIs need to look elsewhere, Dr. Mark Zylka said.
Zylka, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, has studied autism but was not involved in the analyses.
“There’s been a big question in the literature about whether these drugs affect brain development in any way and cause autism,” he told Reuters Health. That’s important because of how many people take antidepressants, including pregnant women.
Image: Pregnant woman taking pill, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Raw milk–milk that has not been pasteurized–may carry serious health risks and should be avoided by pregnant women, infants and children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is saying in a new policy statement. More from The New York Times:
Although the sale of unpasteurized milk products is legal in 30 states, the academy says that the evidence of the benefits of pasteurization to food safety is overwhelming, and that the benefits of any elements in raw milk that are inactivated by pasteurization have not been scientifically demonstrated.
The report, published Monday in Pediatrics, notes that many species of harmful bacteria have been found in unpasteurized milk products, including Listeria, Salmonella, Escherichia coli and Cryptosporidium, among others.
In a study published last week in Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers estimated that over the past 10 years in Minnesota, where raw milk is legally sold, more than 17 percent of those who consumed it became ill.
“There are no proven nutritional advantages of raw milk,” said a lead author, Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, the chief of neonatology at Georgia Regent University in Augusta. “Further, raw milk and milk products account for a significant proportion of food borne illnesses in Americans. There is no reason to risk consuming raw milk.”
The AAP also advises avoiding raw milk cheeses for the same reasons.
Image: Cow, via Shutterstock
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Friday, December 6th, 2013
A federal report has found that the number of pregnancies in the United States continues to fall, a trend that has continued for decades. More from Health Day Reporter:
The rate reached a 12-year low in 2009, when there were about 102 pregnancies for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That rate is 12 percent below the 1990 rate of about 116 pregnancies per 1,000 women. Only the 1997 rate of 102 has been lower during the past 30 years, according to the report.
Experts said two factors are driving the downward trend: improved access to birth control and decisions by women to put off childbearing until later in life.
Those trends have caused the average age of pregnancy to shift upward.
Pregnancy rates for teenagers also have reached historic lows that extend across all racial and ethnic groups. Between 1990 and 2009, the pregnancy rate fell 51 percent for white and black teenagers, and 40 percent for Hispanic teenagers.
The teen birth rate dropped 39 percent between 1991 and 2009, and the teen abortion rate decreased by half during the same period.
Overall, pregnancy rates have continued to decline for women younger than 30.
“The amount of knowledge that young women have about their birth control options is very different compared to a few decades ago,” said Dr. Margaret Appleton, director of the division of obstetrics and gynecology at the Scott & White Clinic in College Station, Texas. “Birth control is more readily available to women, and they are more knowledgeable about it.”
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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