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July 21, 2011, 9:59 PM CT

Help women fight infections during pregnancy

Help women fight infections during pregnancy

A normal but concerning consequence of pregnancy is the fact that pregnant women are more susceptible to infection. University of Minnesota Medical School scientists have identified the underlying mechanisms for this physiologic immune suppression that may lead to new therapies to help ward off infections during pregnancy.

In pregnancy, immune system suppressing cells (called regulatory T cells) increase in number to protect the baby from attack by the mother's immune system. Because these cells are busy protecting the developing baby, pregnant women aren't able to curb off infections caused by common but potentially serious disease-causing bacteria, such as Listeria and Salmonella

Using a mouse pregnancy model, Dr. Sing Sing Way, an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology, and colleagues from the Center for Infectious Disease and Microbiology Translational Research have developed a method to dissociate the beneficial and detrimental impacts of maternal regulatory T cells.

Specifically, when the immune suppressive molecule IL-10 is removed from regulatory T cells, mice were able to more efficiently combat infection against prenatal pathogens. Importantly, removing the IL-10 molecule did not have any negative impact on the outcome of the pregnancy.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


June 5, 2011, 8:48 PM CT

Flaxseed no benefit for hot flashes

Flaxseed no benefit for hot flashes
Flaxseed provides no benefit in easing hot flashes among patients with breast cancer and postmenopausal women, as per a Mayo Clinic and North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG) study. The randomized, placebo-controlled study was conducted on 188 women between October and December 2009 and found no statistically significant difference in mean hot flash scores between women taking flaxseed and those taking a placebo. Preliminary data published in 2007 by Mayo Clinic researchers suggested consuming 40 grams of crushed flaxseed daily might help manage hot flashes.

VIDEO ALERT: Additional audio and video resources are available at the Mayo Clinic News Blog. Password: Pruthi.

The scientists presented their new findings during the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago.

"Hot flashes are a common symptom during the menopause transition or following breast cancer therapy," says Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., of Mayo Clinic's Breast Diagnostic Clinic and a researcher with NCCTG. "While our preliminary data from our 2007 pilot study showed a reduction in hot flashes linked to the consumption of ground flaxseed, our newly released study did not result in a significant decrease in hot flashes with eating flaxseed in comparison to placebo".

Dr. Pruthi says patients shouldn't give up flaxseed if they enjoy it. Flaxseed appears to be beneficial for people who want to add fiber and bulk to their diet to manage constipation, she says. Dr. Pruthi says more studies are needed to identify whether flaxseed has any other health benefits.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


March 25, 2011, 7:12 AM CT

Anemia in postmenopausal women

Anemia in postmenopausal women
A newly released study reported in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association indicates that inadequate nutrition is associated with a greater risk of anemia in postmenopausal women.

"This study suggests that inadequate nutrient intakes are a significant risk factor for anemia in this population of older women and use of multivitamin/mineral supplements is not linked to lower rates of anemia," reports lead investigator Cynthia A. Thomson, PhD, RD, Associate Professor Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson. "Overall mortality is increased in relation to a diagnosis of anemia, and anemia, especially iron deficiency, has been linked to reduced capacity for physical work and physical inactivity, injury correlation to falls and hospitalizations, making this an important health care concern in the aging." The authors also point out that there have been few studies of anemia and diet of independently living women in the past 20 years.

Using data from 72,833 women in the Observational Cohort of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI-OS), scientists observed that deficiencies in more than a single nutrient were linked to a 21% greater risk of persistent anemia while three deficiencies resulted in a 44% increase in risk for persistent anemia. Inadequate intakes of multiple anemia-associated nutrients were less frequent in non-Hispanic whites (7.4%) than other race/ethnic groups (15.2% of Native Americans/Alaskans, 14.6% Asian/Pacific Islanders, 15.3% of African Americans and 16.3% of Hispanic/Latinos reported all three nutrient inadequacies). Women with anemia reported lower intakes of energy, protein, folate, vitamin B12, iron, vitamin C and red meat. In fact, inadequate intake of dietary iron, vitamin B12 and folate were each linked to approximately 10% to 20% elevated risk for incident anemia among WHI-OS study participants and the odds increased for persistent anemia to 21%. Age, body mass index and smoking were also linked to anemia.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


March 10, 2011, 7:12 AM CT

Passive smoking increases risk to unborn babies

Passive smoking increases risk to unborn babies
Pregnant non-smokers who breathe in the second-hand smoke of other people are at an increased risk of delivering stillborn babies or babies with defects, a study led by scientists at The University of Nottingham has found.

The study, reported in the April edition of the journal Pediatrics, found passive smoking increased the risk of still birth by almost one-quarter (23 per cent) and was associated with a 13 per cent increased risk of congenital birth defects.

The findings underline the importance of discouraging expectant fathers from smoking around their pregnant partners and warning women of the potential dangers of second-hand smoke both pre-conception and during pregnancy.

Dr Jo Leonardi-Bee, of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University, said: "Mothers' smoking during pregnancy is well-recognised as carrying a range of serious health risks for the unborn baby including fetal mortality, low birth weight, premature birth and a range of serious birth defects such as cleft palate, club foot and heart problems.

"Since passive smoking involves exposure to the same range of tobacco toxins experienced by active smokers, albeit at lower levels, it is likely that coming into contact with second-hand smoke also increases the risk of some of all of these complications".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


February 3, 2011, 7:53 AM CT

Uterine health more important than egg quality

Uterine health more important than egg quality
For women seeking pregnancy by assisted reproductive technologies, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF), a newly released study shows that the health of the uterus is more relevant than egg quality for a newborn to achieve normal birth weight and full gestation. This study, published in Fertility and Sterility, an international journal for obstetricians, offers new information for women with infertility diagnoses considering options for conceiving.

The study was conducted by Dr. William Gibbons, director of The Family Fertility Program at Texas Children's Hospital and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine, along with colleagues at the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) Marcelle Cedars, MD and Roberta Ness, MD. They evaluated three years of data that compared average birth weight and gestational time for single births born as a result of standard IVF, IVF with donor eggs and IVF with a surrogate. While the ability to achieve a pregnancy is tied to egg/embryo quality, the obstetrical outcomes of birth weight and length of pregnancy are more significantly tied to the uterine environment that is affected by the reason the woman is infertile.

There were more than 300,000 IVF cycles during the time of the study producing more than 70,000 singleton pregnancies.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


February 2, 2011, 10:52 PM CT

Losing body fat before pregnancy

Losing body fat before pregnancy
Obesity among women of childbearing age is increasing worldwide. Because babies of obese mothers are themselves predisposed to obesity, society can reasonably expect the epidemic of obese and overweight people to continue through future generations.

In the midst of this trend, UT Health Science Center San Antonio obstetrics scientists are studying the question: If mothers lose body fat before pregnancy, does it improve the lifelong health of their children? This could be one way to break the transgenerational cycle. A collaborative study between scientists with the Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research at the Health Science Center and the National Institute of Nutrition in Mexico City showed that if obese mothers lose weight before pregnancy, it confers health benefits on their offspring.

Research in rat mothers

In the study, scientists induced maternal obesity by feeding a group of female rats a high-fat diet previous to mating. This group of females ate the fatty chow from weaning through adolescent life to breeding and remained on it through pregnancy and lactation. Meanwhile, females in a second group were switched to normal chow one month before mating.

Reversible metabolic effects

Only male offspring were studied. At weaning, triglycerides, leptin, insulin and insulin resistance were elevated in offspring of obese mothers and all returned to normal if their mothers had received prepregnancy dietary intervention. Fat mass and fat cell size were increased in offspring of fat mothers and these changes were significantly reversed, though not completely abolished, by the dietary intervention. The authors said this is the first study showing reversibility of adverse metabolic effects of maternal obesity on offspring by a pre-pregnancy intervention. Outcomes and reversibility varied by tissue affected.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


February 2, 2011, 7:48 AM CT

Teens with HIV at high risk for pregnancy

Teens with HIV at high risk for pregnancy
Teenage girls and young women infected with HIV get pregnant more often and suffer pregnancy complications more frequently than their HIV-negative peers, as per new research led by Johns Hopkins investigators.

A report on the multi-center study, based on an analysis of records from 181 patients with HIV, ages 13 to 24, treated at four hospitals over 12 years, would be reported in the Feb. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association

The findings are alarming for at least two reasons, the researchers say. First, teen pregnancies � planned or not � put these already vulnerable patients and their fetuses in grave danger for complications. Second, the findings signal that HIV-infected teens and young women continue to practice unsafe sexual behaviors and to have unprotected sex, the scientists say.

Pregnancy rates were particularly high in one subgroup of HIV-infected youth � teens who acquired the virus behaviorally rather than during birth. Behaviorally infected teens had five times the number of pregnancies in comparison to their HIV-negative counterparts and were more prone to premature births and spontaneous abortions than their HIV-negative peers.

Because of its retrospective nature, the study did not capture why the patients got pregnant. The answer to this question, the scientists say, would supply critical information for future pregnancy-counseling and risk-reduction efforts.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 28, 2011, 7:37 AM CT

Bacteria possible cause of preterm births

Bacteria possible cause of preterm births
The type of bacteria that colonize the placenta during pregnancy could be linked to preterm birth and other developmental problems in newborns as per research reported in the current issue of the online journal mBio�.

"The fetal inflammatory response appears to contribute to the onset of preterm labor, fetal injury and complications, underlying lifetime health challenges facing these children," say the scientists from Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital of Boston. "Our data suggest that placental colonization by specific groups of organisms can increase or decrease the risk of a systemic inflammatory condition".

Preterm birth occurs in nearly a half million pregnancies in the United States alone. Despite improved care, preterm and particularly extremely low-gestational-age newborns continue to be at a considerably higher risk of morbidity, mortality and developmental problems. Much of this risk is attributable to imbalanced inflammatory responses of the fetus and newborn.

The systemic fetal inflammatory response to intrauterine exposures, particularly intrauterine infections, is regarded as an important contributor to the onset and often lifelong consequences of preterm labor, fetal injury and early organ damage. Approximately half of all placentas delivered before the second trimester and 41% of those delivered by Caesarean section harbor microorganisms detectable by culture techniques.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


January 18, 2011, 7:20 AM CT

Don't reducing diet early in pregnancy

Don't reducing diet early in pregnancy
Eating less during early pregnancy impaired fetal brain development in a nonhuman primate model, scientists from The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio reported today.

The scientists found decreased formation of cell-to-cell connections, cell division and amounts of growth factors in the fetuses of mothers fed a reduced diet during the first half of pregnancy. "This is a critical time window when a number of of the neurons as well as the supporting cells in the brain are born," said Peter Nathanielsz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research in the Health Science Center School of Medicine.

The study included collaborators at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in San Antonio and Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Gera number of. The team compared two groups of baboon mothers located at SFBR's Southwest National Primate Research Center. One group ate as much as they wanted during the first half of pregnancy while the other group was fed 30 percent less, a level of nutrition similar to what a number of prospective mothers in the U.S. experience.

Hundreds of genes involved

"Our collaboration allowed us to determine that the nutritional environment impacts the fetal brain at both the cellular and molecular levels," said SFBR's Laura Cox, Ph.D. "That is, we found dysregulation of hundreds of genes, a number of of which are known to be key regulators in cell growth and development, indicating that nutrition plays a major role during fetal development by regulating the basic cellular machinery."........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


January 16, 2011, 10:19 PM CT

Is 'breast only' for first 6 months best?

Is 'breast only' for first 6 months best?
Current guidance advising mothers in the UK to exclusively breast feed for the first six months of their baby's life is being questioned by child health experts on bmj.com today.

The authors, led by Dr Mary Fewtrell, a consultant paediatrician at the UCL Institute of Child Health in London, have evaluated the evidence behind the current guidance and say the time is right to reappraise this recommendation.

The scientists stress that while they fully back exclusive breast feeding early in life, they are concerned that exclusively doing so for six months and not introducing other foods may not always be in the child's best interests.

In 2001 the World Health Organisation (WHO) made its global recommendation that infants should be exclusively breast fed for the first six months. A number of western countries did not follow this recommendation but in 2003 the UK health minister announced that the UK would comply.

Fewtrell and his colleagues support six months exclusive breast feeding in less developed countries where access to clean water and safe weaning foods is limited and there is a high risk of infant death and illness. However they have reservations about whether the WHO's guidance about when to introduce other foods is right for the UK.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


January 16, 2011, 9:23 PM CT

Chemicals in pregnant women

Chemicals in pregnant women
The bodies of virtually all U.S. pregnant women carry multiple chemicals, including some banned since the 1970s and others used in common products such as non-stick cookware, processed foods and personal care products, as per a newly released study from UCSF.

The study marks the first time that the number of chemicals to which pregnant women are exposed has been counted.

Analyzing data for 163 chemicals, scientists detected polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), phenols, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and perchlorate in 99 to 100 percent of pregnant women. Among the chemicals found in the study group were PBDEs, compounds used as flame retardants now banned in a number of states including California, and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane ( DDT), an organochlorine pesticide banned in the United States in 1972.

Bisphenol A (BPA), which makes plastic hard and clear, and is found in epoxy resins that are used to line the inside of metal food and beverage cans, was identified in 96 percent of the women surveyed. Prenatal exposure to BPA has been associated with adverse health outcomes, affecting brain development and increasing susceptibility to cancer during the later part of life, as per the researchers.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


January 4, 2011, 6:44 AM CT

Mothers Key To College-age Women Receiving HPV Vaccine

Mothers Key To College-age Women Receiving HPV Vaccine
Even after young women reach adulthood, their mothers can play a key role in convincing them to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, new research suggests.

A study observed that college-aged women were more likely to say they had received the HPV vaccine if they had talked to their mother about it.

"Mothers talking to their daughters were an important factor in whether young women were vaccinated," said Janice Krieger, main author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University.

"It is an encouraging finding, because it shows that communication between mothers and daughters can be very helpful, even if it appears to be difficult sometimes".

A number of mothers and daughters appears to be uncomfortable talking about the HPV vaccine, because it is designed to prevent the spread of a sexually-transmitted virus, Krieger said.

But regardless of the difficulty in talking about it, the vaccine is important because a persistent HPV infection may cause cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and will infect about half of sexually active people in the United States during their lifetimes.

The study appears in the January 2011 issue of the journal Human Communication Research.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


December 15, 2010, 7:10 AM CT

Fighting flu in newborns begins in pregnancy

Fighting flu in newborns begins in pregnancy
A three-year study by Yale School of Medicine scientists has observed that vaccinating pregnant women against influenza is over 90 percent effective in preventing their infants from being hospitalized with influenza in the first six months of life. Reported in the December 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, the study builds on preliminary data the research team presented last year at the Infectious Disease Society of America in Philadelphia.

Influenza is a major cause of serious respiratory disease in pregnant women and of hospitalization in infants. Eventhough the flu vaccine is recommended for all pregnant women and children, no vaccine is approved for infants under six months of age. Preventive strategies for this age group include general infection control and vaccination of those coming in close contact with them.

First author Isaac Benowitz, a Yale medical student, senior author Marietta Vazquez, M.D., and their colleagues examined the effectiveness of flu vaccine during pregnancy in preventing hospitalization in infants. The study enrolled infants hospitalized at Yale-New Haven Hospital due to influenza and a similar group of infants without influenza. The scientists then compared whether each infant's mother had gotten the flu vaccine during pregnancy.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


November 11, 2010, 8:00 AM CT

Citywide smoking ban is effective

Citywide smoking ban is effective
New research released recently takes a look at birth outcomes and maternal smoking, building urgency for more states and cities to join the nationwide smoke-free trend that has accelerated in recent years. As per the new data, strong smoke-free policies can improve fetal outcomes by significantly reducing the prevalence of maternal smoking.

The study, which was presented today at the American Public Health Association's 138th Annual Meeting & Exposition in Denver, compared maternal smoking prevalence in one Colorado city where a smoking ban has already been implemented to that of a neighboring city where there is no ordinance.

Scientists from the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy collected data from mothers residing in Pueblo, Colo., before and after a citywide smoking ban took effect. Results show a 23 percent decrease in the odds of preterm births and a 37 percent decrease in the odds of maternal smoking in Pueblo following the ban. Birth outcomes in El Paso County, Colo., however, showed no such drop during the same time period. Findings in this first-ever study in United States reflect similar findings as national data from Dublin, Ireland.

The study suggests that smoking bans have a significant and immediate positive impact on the health of infants and mothers. Pre-term babies stand a greater likelihood of experiencing cardiovascular issues during the later part of life.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 11, 2010, 7:40 AM CT

Bed Rest Has Down Side For Pregnant Women

Bed Rest Has Down Side For Pregnant Women
Despite lack of evidence about bed rest's effectiveness, doctors annually prescribe it for roughly 1 million pregnant women to delay preterm births.

Judith Maloni, professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, said a comprehensive review of more than 70 evidence-based research articles challenges whether this is healthy for mothers - or their babies.

She makes her report in the article, "Antepartum Bed Rest for Pregnancy Complications: Efficacy and Safety for Preventing Preterm Birth," in the special women's health issue of Biological Research for Nursing.

In it, she raises concerns about the physical and emotional impact on bedridden mothers and notes that hospital stays deny women the opportunity to rest in the comfort of their homes, with the support of their families.

Maloni points to gaps in the current literature and suggests that more evidence is needed.

Gaps in research also exist if bed rest harms or benefits the baby, Maloni said.

Bed rest for pregnant women experiencing early contractions or other pregnancy problems, such as high blood pressure, multiple babies, potential blood clotting or bleeding, can be prescribed for a few days or a few months.

Since 1989, Maloni has been a leader in the study of best rest during pregnancy. Her current research draws from study in the fields of aerospace, nursing, medicine, psychology, social science and biological sciences.........

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.".

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