Monday, October 21st, 2013
The number of women who become pregnant using donor eggs has risen in the last decade, although the number of healthy babies born on time and at a healthy weight remains less than ideal for that group. More from The Associated Press:
That ideal result occurred in about 1 out of 4 donor egg pregnancies in 2010, up from 19 percent a decade earlier, the study found.
Almost 56 percent resulted in a live birth in 2010, and though most of these were generally healthy babies, 37 percent were twins and many were born prematurely, at low birth weights. Less than 1 percent were triplets. Low birth weights are less than about 5½ pounds and babies born that small are at risk for complications including breathing problems, jaundice, feeding difficulties and eye problems.
For women who use in vitro fertilization and their own eggs, the live-birth rate varies by age and is highest — about 40 percent — among women younger than 35.
Women who use IVF with donor eggs are usually older and don’t have viable eggs of their own. Because the donor eggs are from young, healthy women, they have a good chance of success, generally regardless of the recipient’s age.
The average age of women using donor eggs was 41 in 2010 and donors were aged 28 on average; those didn’t change over 10 years.
The study, by researchers at Emory University and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was published online Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association and presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual meeting in Boston.
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
The chemical compound called bisphenol-A (BPA), which is found in many plastics and food can linings, has been linked to a heightened miscarriage risk in women who struggled to conceive or have experienced repeated miscarriages. The finding comes from a new study presented this week to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. More from The Associated Press:
The work is not nearly enough to prove a link, but it adds to ‘‘the biological plausibility’’ that BPA might affect fertility and other aspects of health, said Dr. Linda Giudice, a California biochemist who is president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The study was to be presented Monday at the group’s annual conference in Boston. Last month, ASRM and an obstetricians group urged more attention to environmental chemicals and their potential hazards for pregnant women.
BPA, short for bisphenol-A, and certain other environmental chemicals can have very weak, hormone-like effects. Tests show BPA in nearly everyone’s urine, though the chemical has been removed from baby bottles and many reusable drink containers in recent years. The federal Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe as used now in other food containers.
Most miscarriages are due to egg or chromosome problems, and a study in mice suggested BPA might influence that risk, said Dr. Ruth Lathi, a Stanford University reproductive endocrinologist.
With a federal grant, she and other researchers studied 115 newly pregnant women with a history of infertility or miscarriage; 68 wound up having miscarriages and 47 had live births.
Researchers say it is virtually impossible to avoid exposure to BPA completely. The AP offers some tips on how to minimize exposure:
To minimize BPA exposure, avoid cooking or warming food in plastic because heat helps the chemical leak out, she said. Don’t leave water bottles in the sun, limit use of canned foods and avoid handling cash register receipts, which often are coated with resins that contain BPA.
Image: Food can, via Shutterstock
Get our Everything Pregnancy blogger’s take on the link between BPA and your miscarriage risk here.
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Friday, October 4th, 2013
Mothers who gain an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy raise the risk that their babies will develop into overweight children, according to a new study published in the journal PLoS Medicine. More from Today.com:
“With the progression of the obesity [epidemic] there has been attention that over-nutrition could also have negative consequences,” says Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“It is quite extraordinary when you think about it; the effects during pregnancy can potentially have a lifetime implication.”
Ludwig looked at the body mass index (BMI) of 42,133 mothers at the birth of their 91,045 children and BMI data of these children until age 12. The researchers only studied mothers who had more than one child to rule out other confounding factors, such as genetics and environment. Siblings share the same genetics and generally grow up eating the same food and exercising the same. If one sibling was overweight but the other normal, researchers could rule out environment and genetics, something that has been difficult to do in other studies.
Then Ludwig compared the BMIs of each mother between her pregnancies to see if the mother’s weight gain changed and if that influenced her child’s weight.
“Variations in pregnancy weight gain accounted for a half unit difference in child BMI at an average of 12 years,” Ludwig said. Since the 1970s when the obesity epidemic began, the change in BMI across the population increased by about two units. This effect remains small on an individual basis but could be one of the factors causing childhood obesity.
While researchers have long known that under-nutrition has a detrimental effect on children, this is the first study that shows that over-nutrition can also harm offspring.
“Excessive weight gain, above recommended levels, can also place that next generation at risk,” Ludwig says.
The study emphasized that the “right” amount of weight women should gain in pregnancy depends on a number of factors, including whether they were at a healthy weight, or over- or underweight before they became pregnant. Women should establish their target weight gain with their doctors.
Image: Pregnant belly, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
A 30-year-old Japanese woman who had been told she was infertile gave birth last December to a healthy baby boy after undergoing a highly experimental surgical procedure in which her ovaries were removed, and tissues were re-implanted in her body after being treated in a lab. The case was published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, detailing how the procedure could help women who have poorly functioning ovaries due either to age or premature menopause. More from MSNBC.com:
The new mother gave birth to a son in Tokyo last December, and she and the child continue to be healthy, said Dr. Kazuhiro Kawamura of the St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki, Japan. He and others describe the technique in a report published online Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The mother, who was not identified, had been diagnosed with primary ovarian insufficiency, an uncommon form of infertility sometimes called premature menopause. It appears in about 1 percent of women of childbearing age. The cause of most cases is unknown, but the outcome is that the ovary has trouble producing eggs.
That leaves women with only a 5 percent to 10 percent chance of having a baby unless they get treated. The standard treatment is using donor eggs.
After the experimental procedure, Kawamura and colleagues were able to recover eggs from five of their 27 patients. One woman went on to have a miscarriage, one did not get pregnant, and two more have not yet attempted pregnancy, Kawamura said in an email.
The approach differs from what has been done to preserve fertility in some cancer patients, who had normal ovarian tissue removed and stored while they underwent cancer treatments, and then put back. The new work involved ovaries that were failing to function normally.
In the ovary, eggs mature in structures called follicles. For women with the condition the new study targeted, the follicles are either missing or failing to produce eggs. The experimental treatment was designed to stimulate dormant follicles.
Image: Pregnant woman’s belly, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 23rd, 2013
Pregnant women who are seriously overweight or obese are more than 50 percent less likely to deliver a baby who has a healthy birth rate, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. More from NBC News:
Women with a body-mass index between 30 and 35 were 58 percent more likely than those at a healthy weight to deliver an extremely premature baby, a team of U.S. and Swedish researchers found after examining the medical and delivery records of 1,599, 551 Swedish moms. Pregnant women with a BMI between 35 and 40 were twice as likely as normal-weight moms to have an extremely premature baby, while those with BMIs of 40 or greater were nearly three times as likely to deliver an extremely premature baby.
“When a baby is born earlier than it should be born, the potential for all the organs not being fully developed is increased,” said Karen Cooper, director of Healthy Expectations, a program at the Cleveland Clinic that helps women lose weight before they become pregnant. The program also helps obese pregnant women such as Bufford make healthier lifestyle choices so they might minimize the risks to their babies.
“When it comes to being obese and being pregnant, the risk factors for things going wrong multiply very quickly,” Cooper told NBC News. “Along with that comes gestational diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia, which can eventually lead to eclampsia, which is a condition where seizures occur.”
A premature baby may need a ventilator to help with breathing and nutrients fed through an IV tube, said Dr. Sandra McCalla, director of obstetrics at the Maimonides Medical Center. Further, prematurity can put a baby at risk for future problems, McCalla said.
More than half of American women of reproductive age are overweight or obese, said Cooper. But dieting during pregnancy is not the solution to maternal obesity.
“We just really encourage them to have a healthy lifestyle,” Cooper said. “We put together exercise activities per the individual mom and a calorie plan specific to the mom to have them gain an appropriate amount of weight.”
Image: Overweight pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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