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September 23, 2007, 10:57 AM CT

Hundreds of genes controlling female fertility

Hundreds of genes controlling female fertility
Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found nearly 350 genes correlation to female fertility. Their research may open the door to much wider study in the poorly understood field of infertility.

This study gives us a way to begin to understand the causes of female infertility, said Dr. Diego Castrillon, assistant professor of pathology and senior author of a study appearing in the recent issue of the journal Genetics It gives us a much more complete list of candidate genes to explore. Before, we didnt even know where to look.

The study was done in mice, but at the molecular level, ovarian biology is very similar in mice and humans, Dr. Castrillon said.

These discoveries might lead the way to eventually allowing clinicians to test whether an infertile woman has problems with a specific gene, allowing for improved diagnostic tests and tailored treatment in the future, said Dr. Castrillon, a specialist in the diagnosis of infertility and other diseases of women.

About 13 percent of women suffer from infertility, with the most common cause being dysfunction of the ovary. Scientists suspected genetic links in a number of cases, Dr. Castrillon said.

In mammals, the ovaries go through a developmental stage after birth in which egg cells become nestled in dormant nests called primordial follicles. Later in development, the follicles become activated by a process that scientists dont fully understand, and at puberty, egg cells begin being released for fertilization.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

September 20, 2007, 11:56 PM CT

Pregnancy, Corticosteroid injections and cerebral palsy

Pregnancy, Corticosteroid injections and cerebral palsy
When pregnant women are at high risk for preterm birth, giving them a single injection of corticosteroids has been shown to reduce the babys chances of having serious lung problems after birth.

But some women receive multiple injections of corticosteroids, and a new study shows that repeat courses of corticosteroids are associated with an increased rate of cerebral palsy among children of these mothers.

Our study shows that you get almost all of the benefit from a single round of treatment and that multiple rounds raise the risk of cerebral palsy, which is a severely disabling condition, said John M. Thorp, M.D., a co-author of study and McAllister distinguished professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Thats why we concluded that exposure to repeat courses should be limited, Thorp said.

The study results are reported in the Sept. 20, 2007, issue of the New England Journal (NEJM). The lead author is Ronald J. Wapner, M.D., of Drexel University in Philadelphia. The study was conducted for the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which provided grant funding. Research took place at 14 sites across the United States, including UNC-Chapel Hill.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

September 18, 2007, 10:17 PM CT

Less than one-third of women aware of HRT study

Less than one-third of women aware of HRT study
Despite the huge publicity generated by a 2002 study on the potential dangers of hormone treatment for postmenopausal women, new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine observed that only 29 percent of women surveyed knew about the study two years later.

Additionally, the women were able to correctly identify the possible benefits and risks associated with hormone treatment just 40 percent of the time.

Senior author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said the new study points out that the medical profession hasn't yet figured out an effective way of communicating crucial health information to patients.

"This study suggests that we have a flawed mechanism for getting information down to the level of the population," Stafford said. "Eventhough we looked specifically at menopause and hormone treatment, the findings have consequences for a number of other medical issues".

Stafford's results are reported in the September/recent issue of the journal Menopause.

Few research studies have had the impact on public health recommendations as the 2002 results reported by the federally funded Women's Health Initiative, the longest-ever examination of the health of postmenopausal women. One part of WHI focused on hormone treatment, which is used to ease the symptoms of menopause. Hormone treatment also had been widely prescribed for preventive purposes, based partly on earlier findings based on observation suggesting that it helped protect women against heart disease, weak bones and dementia.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

September 18, 2007, 5:22 AM CT

Women, birth defects and use of birth control

Women,  birth defects and use of birth control
Birth defects of thalidomide
Eventhough prescription medications that may increase the risk of birth defects are usually used by women in their childbearing years, only about half receive contraceptive counseling from their health care providers, as per a large-scale study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published in the Sept. 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

We observed that over the course of a year, one in six women of reproductive age filled a prescription for a medicine labeled by the Food and Drug Administration as increasing the risk of fetal abnormalities, said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, M.D., assistant professor in the departments of medicine and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and first study author. Unfortunately, a number of women filling prescriptions that can increase risk of birth defects remain at risk of pregnancy.

Half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended, as per national estimates. While regular use of contraception can prevent unplanned pregnancies, women filling prescriptions that can increase the risk of birth defects are no more likely to use contraception than other women, the study authors note.

For this investigation, Dr. Schwarz and his colleagues studied patient data correlation to all prescriptions filled by 488,175 reproductive-aged women enrolled with a large managed health care plan during 2001. Prescriptions involved drugs considered safe for use in pregnancy and those labeled as posing a fetal risk.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

September 11, 2007, 11:23 PM CT

Restoring Fertility In Women With Cancer

Restoring Fertility In Women With Cancer
The Oregon National Primate Research Center and the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine have been named to a national team of institutions hoping to preserve or restore fertility in women battling cancer. The Oncofertility Consortium, funded for five years by the National Institutes of Health, features participants from five universities and comprises researchers, physicians, engineers, educators, social workers and medical ethicists.

Biomedical research has helped save the lives of a number of women battling cancer, explained Richard Stouffer, Ph.D., director of the research team at OHSU. Stouffer also directs ONPRCs reproductive sciences division and is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine. However, the powerful chemotherapy drugs and radiation used to beat cancer can also result in a loss of reproductive function, which is a tremendous blow to young cancer patients who hope to have children. The bottom-line goal for this research team across the United States is to help these women through various avenues including research, therapy and counseling.

Additional members of the OHSU research team include Mary Zelinski, Ph.D., an affiliate assistant scientist at ONPRC, and David Lee, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, reproductive endocrinology and infertility in the OHSU School of Medicine.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

September 10, 2007, 9:43 PM CT

A key discovery for Fragile X Syndrome

A key discovery for Fragile X Syndrome
An important finding has been made by McMaster scientists about Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), a sex-linked genetic disorder that affects approximately one in 4,000 males and one in 6,000 females.

FXS is the most common genetic disorder linked to mental impairment. The affected gene (FMR1) leads to inactivation of the FMR1 gene product, known as the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP).

Brain development in the absence of this protein leads to cognitive effects, learning and memory problems, attention deficit, hyperactivity and autistic behaviors. A number of children go undiagnosed with Fragile X.

Eventhough the exact functions of FMRP in the brain are unresolved, there is compelling evidence that FMRP is important for normal function at the sites of communication between cells or neurons in the brain. Until now, FMRP was believed to be found only in neurons.

Stem cells are candidates for cell treatment in neurological disorders since they are capable of producing all cell types in the nervous system.

When studying the development of adult stem cells from the mouse brain, Laura Pacey, a Ph.D. student in professor Laurie Doerings laboratory, realized that cells, in addition to neurons, were also producing the FMRP. Doering is an associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 28, 2007, 9:52 PM CT

Mothers' baby cradling habits are indicator of stress

Mothers' baby cradling habits are indicator of stress
Le berceau (The Cradle)
1872 Oil on canvas, 56 x 46 cm (22 x 18"); Musee d'Orsay, Paris
The models are her sister Edma and Edma's daughter Blanche.
Mothers who cradle their baby to their right hand side are displaying signs of extreme stress, a new study suggests.

Eventhough most mums feel stressed in the early stages of their babys life, the study by Durham University scientists suggests their baby cradling habits are a key indicator of whether this stress could become overwhelming and lead to depression.

Prior research has already shown that the majority of mothers prefer to cradle their baby to their left regardless of whether they are left or right handed.

As at least one in ten women develop post-natal depression, studying non-verbal cues such as baby cradling could potentially help doctors and health visitors identify which mothers are in need of extra professional support before it gets too late.

Experts say that stress in mums can lead to depression which can have a detrimental effect on their babys mental development and wellbeing.

The study, reported in the on-line version of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, studied 79 new mothers and their babies, who were an average age of seven months.

In their own homes, mothers were asked to pick up their babies and cradle them in their arm. They also completed a survey which quizzed them on their mental state. The research methodology established there was no link between cradling side and left or right handedness.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 28, 2007, 8:43 PM CT

Hospital Practices Affect Long-Term Breastfeeding Success

Hospital Practices Affect Long-Term Breastfeeding Success
Breast milk and breastfeeding are recognized to be the ideal choices of nutrition and feeding for infants. Breastfeeding is the normal method of feeding infants, and provides a number of benefits to both infants and mothers. In addition to receiving essential nutrients, breastfed infants have lower rates of ear infections, gastroenteritis, asthma, obesity and diabetes. Benefits for mothers include decreased occurence rate of breast and ovary cancer. National goals in the U.S. are a breastfeeding initiation rate of 75 percent (with an exclusive breastfeeding rate for the first 3 months of 60 percent), and continuation of 50 percent at 6 months of age (with 25 percent exclusively breastfeeding).

A new study in Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care suggests that implementing 5 breastfeeding-friendly practices in hospitals following birth can significantly improve long-term breastfeeding success. Nearly two-thirds of mothers who engaged in all 5 supportive practices were still breastfeeding 4 months after going home. The specific hospital practices include:.
  • Initiating breastfeeding within 1 hour of delivery
  • Keeping infants in the mother's hospital room
  • Feeding infants only breast milk in the hospital; no supplementation of water or formula
  • Prohibiting pacifier use in the hospital
  • ........

    Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

August 16, 2007, 9:24 PM CT

Umbilical cord clamping should be delayed

Umbilical cord clamping should be delayed
Clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord should be delayed for three minutes after birth, especially for pre-term infants, suggests a senior doctor in this weeks BMJ.

Early clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord is widely practised as part of the management of labour, but recent studies suggest that it may be harmful to the baby. The rate of early cord clamping varies widely in Europe, from 17% of units in Denmark to 90% in France.

So Dr Andrew Weeks, a senior lecturer in obstetrics at the University of Liverpool, looked at the evidence behind cord clamping.

For the mother, trials show that early cord clamping has no ill effects, he writes. But what about the baby".

At birth, he says, the umbilical cord sends oxygen-rich blood to the lungs until breathing establishes. So as long as the cord is unclamped, the average transfusion to the newborn is equivalent to 21% of the neonates final blood volume and three quarters of the transfusion occurs in the first minute after birth.

For babies born at term, the main effect of this large autotransfusion is to increase their iron status. This may be lifesaving in areas where anaemia is endemic.

In the developed world, however, there have been concerns that it could increase the risk of polycythaemia and hyperbilirubinaemia (abnormally high levels of red blood cells and bile pigments in the bloodstream, often leading to jaundice). But trials show this is not the case.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

August 8, 2007, 8:04 PM CT

Inflammation may cause preterm labor

Inflammation may cause preterm labor
Inflammation from bacterial infections is associated with preterm births and deaths, as per scientists from Case Western Reserve Universitys School of Dental Medicine and the Case School of Medicine. They found if receptors responding to the presence of dead or living bacteria in the placentas of mice can be blocked, the number of preterm deaths will decline by nearly half.

Yiping Han along with Hongqi Lui from the Case Western Reserve dental school and Raymond Redline from the Case medical school report results from their investigation, TLR4 promotes F. nucleatum-induced fetal death in mice, in the Journal of Immunology.

New findings from the mouse study holds potential to develop ways to curb the emotional and economic toll on families that lose babies to preterm labor and fetal death, said Han, a member of from the department of periodontics.

Currently antibiotic therapys are not very effective at preventing preterm births that are triggered by a bacterial infection. Mice, as well as humans, have several toll-like receptors (TLR) that sense the surface components of living or dead bacteria. TLR2 and 4 are key receptors in recognizing bacterial surfaces. The researchers concentrated their study on these two receptors as a possible link in producing the inflammatory response that is believed to have brought about the fetal death in mice.........

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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