Monday, June 30th, 2014
The number of pregnant women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes is on the rise–recent data from the CDC reported that 1 in 10 pregnant women has the condition. Those women may be relieved to learn of a small but promising new study that has found that taking certain supplements–vitamin D and calcium, specifically–can actually lower blood sugar readings and improve other measures of metabolic health that can suffer with gestational diabetes.
The study, which was conducted in Iran, was published in the journal Diabetologia and compared blood levels of women with gestational diabetes, some of whom had been given vitamin D and calcium supplements, and some of whom were given placebo pills. The New York Times has more on the findings–and a cautious word from the researchers:
In the supplement group, fasting blood glucose and cholesterol levels improved, measures that deteriorated in the placebo group. There was no effect on triglyceride levels.
The senior author, Dr. Ahmad Esmaillzadeh, an associate professor at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, said that these supplements are not suitable for all women.
“Vitamin D has some toxic effects on women and their babies, so we cannot recommend that all women should take it,” he said. “But we can recommend it for people with gestational diabetes who are vitamin D deficient.”
Image: Pregnant woman holding supplements, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
A new review of the scientific study of the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplements on babies’ brain development shows that the supplements are not necessarily beneficial, according to an article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Reuters reports:
“There are so many trials where pregnant women are supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids and they’ve all got different results,” said lead study author Jacqueline Gould, a researcher at the Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute in Adelaide, Australia. “We found that there was neither a positive nor a negative effect on visual or neurological outcomes.”
The Australian team, who published their findings in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, analyzed data from 11 clinical trials with a total of 5,272 participants who were randomly assigned to take omega-3 supplements or placebos during the last half of their pregnancies.
Across the trials, the amount of omega-3 taken by the mothers ranged from 240 to 3,300 milligrams per day. And the ages at which children’s brain and vision development were assessed ranged from newborn to 7 years old.
According to the researchers, most of the clinical trials included too few participants to distinguish subtle differences expected from nutritional studies, excluded complicated pregnancies (in which greater differences might have been seen) and didn’t follow the children long enough during development.
“Our analysis highlights that more research is needed,” Gould told Reuters Health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for healthy fetal brain development and are commonly found in fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and sardines. Human brains and eyes contain large amounts of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), both forms of omega-3.
Developing fetuses can get DHA from their mothers’ fat stores, and from food and supplements they consume during pregnancy.
Image: Omega 3 supplements, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
A growing number of boys are becoming obsessed with something that has long been a reality for tween and teenaged girls–body image. But instead of wanting to be lean and thin, these boys are after bulked-up, muscle-bound bodies, and they are going to great lengths to get them. From The New York Times:
“Pediatricians are starting to sound alarm bells about boys who take unhealthy measures to try to achieve Charles Atlas bodies that only genetics can truly confer. Whether it is long hours in the gym, allowances blown on expensive supplements or even risky experiments with illegal steroids, the price American boys are willing to pay for the perfect body appears to be on the rise.
In a study to be published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, more than 40 percent of boys in middle school and high school said they regularly exercised with the goal of increasing muscle mass. Thirty-eight percent said they used protein supplements, and nearly 6 percent said they had experimented with steroids.
Over all, 90 percent of the 2,800 boys in the survey — who lived in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, but typify what doctors say is a national phenomenon — said they exercised at least occasionally to add muscle.
“There has been a striking change in attitudes toward male body image in the last 30 years,” said Dr. Harrison Pope, a psychiatry professor at Harvard who studies bodybuilding culture and was not involved in the study. The portrayal of men as fat-free and chiseled “is dramatically more prevalent in society then it was a generation ago,” he said.”
Image: Teenager lifting weights, via Shutterstock
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Child Health, Must Read, Trends
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
A new study has found that pregnant women who take docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplements during pregnancy have babies who are better able to fend off colds and other viruses than babies whose mothers did not take the supplements. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the March of Dimes Foundation, and was published in the September 2011 issue of the journal Pediatrics. As Boston.com reports:
[The study followed] 851 pregnant women in Mexico, about half of whom were randomly selected to receive daily DHA supplements of 400 milligrams starting no more than 22 weeks into the pregnancy. The rest received a placebo.
The researchers found that infants whose mothers took the supplement had fewer cold symptoms, including cough, phlegm, and wheezing, in their first month. At three months, these infants spent 14 percent less time ill. And after six months, the duration of various symptoms, including difficulty breathing and fever, was less. Duration of some symptoms, including rash within the first month, increased among the supplement group.
The authors suggested that DHA intake could help infants fight off infections that, in many places, contribute to childhood deaths.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in many ocean fish and available in the form of fish oil supplement capsules.
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