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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Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
Women who take vitamin supplements, including antioxidants in hopes of increasing their chances of conceiving a baby may not experience the boost they are hoping for, according to a major new review of 28 different scientific studies. More from The Huffington Post:
Women seeking treatment for infertility sometimes take dietary supplements and antioxidants — vitamin C, vitamin E, melatonin, or combination supplements, among others — in the hopes of boosting fertility. But the new Cochrane review, published Sunday, found little evidence supporting efficacy of the supplements.
“I don’t think the results were surprising in the sense that there are no national organizations or guidelines that recommend routine use of antioxidant supplements for fertility,” said Dr. Wendy Vitek, head of the fertility preservation program at the University of Rochester’s Strong Fertility Center, who did not work on the new review.
“But I definitely have women ask me about supplements,” Vitek said. “I think there are a lot of feelings of self-blame with infertility, and women are looking to gain some sense of being proactive and of potentially controlling a very uncontrollable situation.”
Antioxidants, found in many fruits and vegetables, can also be taken in pill form. Antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress, which occurs when free radicals damage cells and their ability to function. According to background provided in the Cochrane review, oxidative stress can be brought on by many of the same conditions that contribute to infertility, such as ovulatory disorders and endometriosis.
“It is thought that the free radical ‘scavenging’ effects of antioxidants would help to repair any oxidative stress occurring in the female reproductive process,” lead researcher Marian Showell, with the University of Auckland’s department of obstetrics and gynecology, told The Huffington Post. “This has not been disproven by this review. We just didn’t have high enough quality evidence to prove or disprove it.”
All told, the studies included in the review included more than 3,500 women who were attending fertility clinics.
Image: Woman taking vitamins, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, September 27th, 2012
While most parents whose low income qualifies them for health coverage through Medicaid fill prescriptions for antibiotics and other medications for acute illnesses, many fail to fill pediatricians’ orders for vitamin and mineral supplements, a new study has found. Reuters Health reports:
Antibiotics and other drugs for infections were filled 91 percent of the time, versus 65 percent of prescriptions for vitamins and minerals, for example.
“When your child has an ear infection and is in pain, you have much more of a sense of urgency,” [lead researcher Dr. Rachael] Zweigoron [of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston] said. But if a doctor recommends a vitamin D or iron supplement, she added, parents might not see the immediate need.
That raises the question of whether parents always know why a pediatrician has prescribed a medication or supplement. “Are we, as pediatricians, doing a good enough job of explaining the importance to parents?” Zweigoron said.
The findings, which appear in the journal Pediatrics, are based on 4,833 kids seen over two years at two clinics connected to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
All of the children were on Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor. So it’s not clear if the findings would be the same for U.S. kids with private insurance.
Image: Child taking medicine, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Two types of cancer that affects children have declined in frequency since more pregnant women started taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy and folic acid has been added to grain products like cereals, a new study has found. The benefit is in addition to the number of neural tube defects that are known to be prevented by the supplement. The New York Times has more:
The study, published online May 21 in Pediatrics, found no difference in the incidence of all childhood cancers combined. But for two types, the difference was significant.
The incidence of primitive neuroectodermal tumors, a nervous system lesion, declined by 44 percent, while the incidence of Wilms tumor, a kidney cancer, declined by 20 percent.
The scientists acknowledge that no causal relationship can be inferred from the finding. Still, the lead author, Amy M. Linabery, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota, said, “We feel that this is a positive message — folic acid fortification is not increasing rates of cancer.”
She continued: “We’ve generated some new hypotheses, but we need follow-up studies.”
Image: Pregnant woman with vitamins, via Shutterstock.
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