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January 6, 2009, 7:48 PM CT

Smoking during pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy
Montreal, January 6, 2009 Women who smoke during pregnancy risk delivering aggressive kids as per a new Canada-Netherlands study reported in the journal Development and Psychopathology While prior studies have shown that smoking during gestation causes low birth weight, this research shows mothers who light up during pregnancy can predispose their offspring to an additional risk: violent behaviour.

What's more, the research team found the risk of giving birth to aggressive children increases among smoking mothers whose familial income is lower than $40,000 per year. Another risk factor for aggressive behaviour in offspring was smoking mothers with a history of antisocial behaviour: run-ins with the law, high school drop-outs and illegal drug use.

Psychiatry professor and researcher Jean Sguin, of the Universit de Montral and Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center, co-authored the study with postdoctoral fellow Stephan C. J. Huijbregts, now a researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, as well as colleagues from Universit Laval and McGill University in Canada.

"Mothers-to-be whose lives have been marked by anti-social behaviour have a 67 percent chance to have a physically aggressive child if they smoke 10 cigarettes a day while pregnant, compared with 16 percent for those who are non-smokers or who smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes a day," says Dr. Sguin. "Smoking also seems to be an aggravating factor, eventhough less pronounced, in mothers whose anti-social behaviour is negligible or zero".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

January 5, 2009, 11:14 PM CT

Procedures to stop heavy menstrual bleeding

Procedures to stop heavy menstrual bleeding
RExperts estimate that 20 percent of women experience excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding at some time during their lives, especially as they approach menopause. A new, less invasive procedure called global endometrial ablation (GEA) preserves the uterus, while decreasing menstrual bleeding and shortening patients' recovery time. In an article reported in the recent issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mayo Clinic scientists attempt to determine the percentage of women who do not achieve permanent symptom relief from GEA and identify several factors that put women at greater risk for this outcome.

VIDEO ALERT: Additional audio and video resources, including excerpts from an interview with Dr. Abimbola Famuyide describing the research, are available on the Mayo Clinic News Blog at:

For decades, hormone pills or hysterectomy, surgical removal of the uterus, were the standard therapys for excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Eventhough numerous studies have established the safety of GEA, some women who undergo this procedure require additional therapy or hysterectomy later because significant menstrual pain or heavy bleeding symptoms resume.

How GEA works........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

December 28, 2008, 11:05 PM CT

Insights into the X chromosome matchmaking

Insights into the X chromosome matchmaking
A research group lead by researchers at the University of Warwick has discovered the trigger that pulls together X chromosomes in female cells at a crucial stage of embryo development. Their discovery could also provide new insights into how other similar chromosomes spontaneously recognize each other and are bound together at key parts of analogous cell processes. This is an important mechanism as the binding togetgher of too a number of of too few of a particular chromosome can cause many medical conditions such as Down's Syndrome or Turner's Syndrome.

In our cells most genes are expressed from both types of each chromosome linked gene, but the most notable exception to this rule are X-linked genes in female mammals. During embryo development, in a step necessary to survival, one of the X chromosomes is silenced in each female cell to ensure that the levels of X-derived products are equalized in XX females and XY males, via a process known as X-Chromosome Inactivation (XCI). Recent discoveries have revealed that for that stage in the process to happen the X chromosomes have to quickly pair off (or colocalize) in a way that allows each part of those pairs of X chromosomes to be very close together and be aligned in a particular way. Failure to achieve this close physical colocalization of the two X chromosomes will lead to XCI failure and cell death.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

December 24, 2008, 5:16 AM CT

Making the contraceptive pills available without prescription

Making the contraceptive pills available without prescription
Making the contraceptive pill available without prescription will not reduce unwanted pregnancies, says an expert in an article published on today.

Sarah Jarvis from the Royal College of Physicians argues that it is a lack of daily compliance with taking oral contraceptives which is partly responsible for the high rates of unintended teenage pregnancies in the UK.

Studies have shown that nearly half of all women taking the oral contraceptive pill miss one or more pills in each cycle, and nearly a quarter missed two or more. These women are three times more likely to get pregnant unintentionally than those who take the pill consistently.

She points out that the availability of emergency contraception without prescription has done little to change the rate of teenage pregnancies.

Jarvis believes that the solution lies in long acting reversible contraceptives such as the coil, or those which can be placed under the skin or injected. They last between three months and three years, and because they are not dependent on patients taking them correctly, are much more reliable than oral contraceptives, she adds.

"Increased uptake of reliable, non user-dependent methods, rather than making a potentially unreliable method of contraception more easily available, has to be the key ", she concludes.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

December 22, 2008, 5:19 AM CT

How you see yourself while pregnant

How you see yourself while pregnant
Body image is a tricky thing for a number of women. Like looking into a funhouse mirror, the way they perceive their bodies can make them think they're thinner or more obese than they actually are. Scientists led by Temple University's Sharon Herring, MD, MPH, have observed that this misperception is linked to excess weight gain during pregnancy which can cause complications for both mother and baby.

As per a research findings published on December 19 in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, Herring and a team of scientists from the department of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care observed that overweight and obese women who thought they weighed less than they actually did at the start of pregnancy had seven times the odds of gaining excessive weight during their pregnancy. In contrast, normal weight women who thought they weighed more than they actually did had twice to the odds of gaining excessive weight during their pregnancy.

The reasons for misperceived body weight aren't clear, but Herring and her team speculate that the high prevalence of obesity in the US might account for a skewed body image among the overweight or obese group so that they believe they are at a normal weight, and may be less likely to follow pregnancy weight gain guidelines as a result.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

December 19, 2008, 5:30 AM CT

First trimester smoking linked to oral clefts

First trimester smoking linked to oral clefts
Smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy is clearly linked with an increased risk of cleft lip in newborns. Genes that play a role in detoxification of cigarette smoke do not appear to be involved. This is shown in a new study reported in the journal Epidemiology.

Oral clefts are one of the most common birth defects. Closure of the lip occurs about 5 weeks into pregnancy, followed by closure of the palate at week 9. If this does not happen, a cleft lip and/or cleft palate are the result, requiring surgery. The scientists wanted to see if smoking or exposure to passive smoking play a role in these defects and whether genes influence the oral cleft risk through the way toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke are processed.

The study is based on an extensive Norwegian case-control study on oral clefts with collaborating scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, University of Bergen, Rikshospital, Haukeland University Hospital and the National Institutes of Health in USA. Between 1996 and 2001, 676 babies born with oral clefts were referred for cleft surgery, and of these, 573 participated in the study. 763 babies born during the same period in Norway were randomly selected as controls.

DNA and questionnaires

Blood samples were taken from the children referred for surgery and their PKU test samples, routinely taken at birth, were also retrieved. Their mothers and fathers donated cheek swabs and blood samples. From the control group, cheek swabs were obtained from the mother, father (after November 1998) and child, plus the PKU test sample taken at birth. DNA was extracted from the samples.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

December 16, 2008, 9:55 PM CT

Caffeine when pregnant may damage the heart of offspring

Caffeine when pregnant may damage the heart of offspring
A new study published online in The FASEB Journal shows that the equivalent of one dose of caffeine (just two cups of coffee) ingested during pregnancy may be enough to affect fetal heart development and then reduce heart function over the entire lifespan of the child. In addition, the scientists also observed that this relatively minimal amount of exposure may lead to higher body fat among males, when in comparison to those who were not exposed to caffeine. Eventhough the study was in mice, the biological cause and effect described in the research paper is plausible in humans.

As per Scott Rivkees, Yale's Associate Chair of Pediatric Research and a senior researcher on the study, "Our studies raise potential concerns about caffeine exposure during very early pregnancy, but further studies are necessary to evaluate caffeine's safety during pregnancy".

To reach their conclusion scientists studied four groups of pregnant mice under two sets of conditions for 48 hours. The first two groups were studied in "room air," with one group having been injected with caffeine and another injected with saline solution. The second two groups were studied under conditions where ambient oxygen levels were halved, with one group receiving caffeine and the other receiving saline solution. They observed that under both circumstances, mice given caffeine produced embryos with a thinner layer of tissue separating some of the heart's chambers than the group that was not given caffeine.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

December 16, 2008, 9:49 PM CT

Benefits of breastfeeding outweigh risks

Benefits of breastfeeding outweigh risks
A study comparing breastfed and formula fed infants across time showed that the known beneficial effects of breastfeeding are greater than the potential risks linked to infant exposure to chemicals such as dioxins that may be present in breastmilk, as per a report reported in the December issue (Volume 3, Number 4) of Breastfeeding Medicine, a peer-evaluated journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ( and the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. The paper is available free online at

This compelling study, entitled "The Heart of the Matter on Breastmilk and Environmental Chemicals: Essential Points for Health Care Providers and New Parents," encompassed an historical review of the medical literature and included time periods when levels of environmental chemicals were higher than they tend to be at present.

The authors of the report, Judy LaKind, PhD (LaKind Associates, Catonsville, MD), Cheston Berlin, Jr, MD (The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, PA), and CAPT Donald Mattison, MD (National Institutes of Health), advise health care providers to continue to encourage new mothers to breastfeed their babies. In agreement with the World Health Organization's (WHO's) continuing support of breastfeeding, this study's findings, based on epidemiologic data, do not downplay the adverse effects of exposure to dioxins and other environmental toxins. However, the authors distinguish between the statistical significance of risk/benefit assessments in an individual in comparison to population effects.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

December 16, 2008, 9:47 PM CT

Vitamin D deficiency in infants and nursing mothers

Vitamin D deficiency in infants and nursing mothers
Once thought to beimportant only for bone health, vitamin D is now seen as having a critical function in maintaining the immune system throughout life. The newly recognized disease risks linked to vitamin D deficiency are clearly documented in a report in the December issue (Volume 3, Number 4) of Breastfeeding Medicine, a peer-evaluated journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (, and the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine ( The paper is available free online at

Vitamin D deficiency is common across populations and especially among people with darker skin. Nutritional rickets among nursing infants whose mothers have insufficient levels of vitamin D is an increasingly common, yet preventable disorder.

Carol Wagner, MD, Sarah Taylor, MD, and Bruce Hollis, PhD, from the Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston), emphasize the need for clinical studies to determine the dose of vitamin D needed to achieve adequate vitamin D levels in breastfeeding mothers and their infants without toxicity.

In a paper entitled, "Does Vitamin D Make the World Go 'Round'?" the authors point out that vitamin D is now viewed not simply as a vitamin with a role in promoting bone health, but as a complex hormone that helps to regulate immune system function. Long-term vitamin D deficiency has been associated with immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, and cancer.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

December 16, 2008, 8:56 PM CT

First Pregnancies May Lower Mom's Blood Pressure Permanently

First Pregnancies May Lower Mom's Blood Pressure Permanently
"In women with healthy pregnancies, blood pressure levels were lower among women after a first pregnancy, in comparison to women who did not give birth," as per the study's lead author Erica P. Gunderson, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. "Because lower blood pressure appears to persist years after delivery, pregnancy may offer insights into mechanisms that may be useful for controlling adult blood pressure".

Scientists examined blood pressure changes in 1,373 women who had never given birth at baseline. They observed that the average systolic blood pressure was lower by 2 millimeters of mercury and the average diastolic blood pressure was lower by 1.5 mm of mercury for the 635 women who'd had a first pregnancy uncomplicated by hypertension, in comparison to 738 women who did not give birth during the 20-year study period.

The lower blood pressure was sustained regardless of the number of subsequent births, as per the researchers. Lower blood pressure after a first pregnancy compared with no births remained after adjusting for blood pressure and body mass index before pregnancy, age, race, smoking, education, medications to treat hypertension, oral contraceptive use, and weight gain, they explained.

A 2-mm mercury reduction in mean blood pressure for women's long term health could translate into a 6 percent reduction in stroke mortality, a 4 percent reduction in coronary heart disease, and a reduction in total mortality for 3 percent of the population, Gunderson said.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

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Did you know?
The addition of testosterone to hormone therapy in women after menopause enhances their sexual function. However, it may also reduce HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) in women, according to a systematic review of current evidence."If the reduction in HDL had been associated with an increase in triglycerides [fatty acids] or LDL cholesterol it would be of great concern," said Dr. Susan Davis, professor of medicine at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and study co-author "However, as an isolated finding the significance is difficult to interpret." She added, "Testosterone has not been found to alter other coronary heart disease risk factors.". Archives of obgyn news blog

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