Friday, May 21, 2010

Baby's 'thumbs up' from womb captured on ultrasound

Most expectant mothers hope medics will reassure them about their baby's health when they go for their routine scan.

But Marie Boswell's baby boy wanted to tell his mummy himself that he was doing fine in her tummy.

As this amazing picture shows, the little fellow gave Miss Boswell the thumbs up when she went for her 20-week check.

The 35-year-old said she couldn't stop laughing when the picture of her son came up on the screen at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester.

'It was really funny, I went to the scan with my friend and my mum and we were all just laughing,' she said.' He was giving us the thumbs up, it was just so clear. We couldn't believe it.

'I have big hands, but nothing on the scale of his - he looks like he's wearing boxing gloves. We're thinking he might make a good goalkeeper.

Gerry Jackson, lead sonographer at Wythenshawe Hospital, said it was rare for scans to produce such clear images for expectant mothers.

'It is very unusual to see a baby's thumbs so clearly, but it is lovely we have been able to get such a clear image for this lady,'' Mr Jackson said.

'The new scanners we use do give a really clear picture and we have to look at the hands as part of the national screening guidelines - as this scan shows we do see the fingers from time to time.'


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kerri Walsh Welcomes A Baby Boy

Two-time Olympic gold medal winner Kerri Walsh and husband, fellow-volleyball player Casey Jennings have welcomed a new baby boy!

Son Sundance Jennings was born on Wednesday, (May 19) in Torrence, Calif. weighing in at 6 lbs., 12 oz. and was almost 20 inches long, reports PEOPLE.

Sundance arrived a bit early, as her due date was May 30, 2010, eight days after son Joey turns one!


Prenatal and Postpartum Depression Can Strike New Dads

Although many people know that new moms are at increased risk of depression following the birth of a child, new research suggests that about 10 percent of new dads experience the "baby blues," too.

What's more, the researchers found that if the mother experiences postpartum depression, the father is more apt to be depressed also, which puts the baby at a significantly greater risk of developing emotional, behavioral and developmental problems later on, according to the study.

"Pre- and postnatal depression in men is real. The overall rate of depression in fathers was 10.4 percent in our analysis, about twice what we would expect in the general population of men," said the study's lead author, James Paulson, an associate professor and clinical psychologist at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.

Results of the study are published in the May 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Postpartum depression affects between 10 percent and 30 percent of new mothers, according to background information in the study. What's been less well-studied, according to the authors, is the risk of male depression before and after the birth of a child, as well as the potential consequences to the child.

To get a better handle on the incidence of paternal postnatal depression, Paulson and his co-author, Sharnail Bazemore, reviewed data from 43 studies including more than 28,000 men.

Overall, 10.4 percent of men experienced depression either in the pre- or postnatal period. The normal rate of depression for men in the general population is just under 5 percent, according to Paulson.

Rates of depression in men were highest when the baby was between 3 to 6 months old, reaching about 25 percent during this time period, according to the study.

The researchers also found an association between the risk of maternal and paternal depression. If one parent was depressed, the other was more likely to experience depression.

"This study brings attention to a very important issue that is sometimes overlooked," said Shona Vas, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "As joyous an occasion as the birth of a new baby is, it's a tremendous transition, and transitions are stressful. And, it's a change that comes with significant impact on your day-to-day functioning, affecting sleep, taking care of yourself, exercising and more."

According to Paulson and Vas, signs of paternal depression include a sad or depressed mood, a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed, fatigue, sleep problems, a loss of appetite, feelings of hopelessness and irritability. The problem is, many of these symptoms may be dismissed because people assume that they're due to the new baby, such as sleep problems or changing activities.

Both Paulson and Vas said that education prior to the birth of the child could be very helpful. Just letting parents know that they're at higher risk of depression, what they need to look for and what they can do about it, could help.

"Provide education ahead of time, giving the couple time to talk about options and solutions," said Vas. "Figure out how you'll be able to take time for yourself, while still being supportive. Negotiate as a couple ahead of time how you'll each take time for yourself," she suggested.

If you recognize any of the signs of depression in yourself or a loved one, a primary care doctor is a good place to start seeking treatment, according to the experts.

However, "men are extraordinarily less likely to seek mental health services [than women]," Paulson noted. "If we can get a man in to see his family doctor or even a mental health provider, that's a really major step."

In the meantime, men should know that paternal depression is "something that can and should be treated," he said.

"Even if you don't want to seek services for depression for yourself, seek services because your depression is likely to affect your kids," Paulson explained. "Depression occurs in families; it's not just affecting dad. Depression can't be looked at in isolation. When parents are depressed, children may have a higher risk of behavioral issues, and with things such as learning language or learning to read."


Some Tips for Second Pregnancies

  • Your body (and pregnancy) may not be the same as during your first pregnancy. Maybe you were able to work out like a madwoman the first time around, but maybe not this time. Listen to your body and your midwife (or doctor).

  • Be aware of your own limitations, and don't be afraid to make these clear to visitors. Especially visitors who want to show up late in the evening and linger far too long. Before you find yourself being absolutely, ungraciously rude, either pull your partner aside and ask him or her to clear out the guests -- if you lack the energy or any last shred of niceness to do it yourself -- or simply excuse yourself as 'tired' and leave the room.

  • Think about what you need ahead of time, especially toward the end of the pregnancy. Additionally, plan to need a ton of help after the baby is born. Have it in place.

  • A second pregnancy is the perfect time to relax your standards -- so the kid watches some extra Curious George while mommy sits in the air-conditioned living room. So you order takeout instead of making quinoa salad and sitting down as a family. So you bag the water park and let the kid splash in the bathtub instead. It's all OK. You will, believe it or not, be back to normal again and then you can have all those standards back, but those last few weeks of pregnancy are a really good time to ease up and slack a little.


Heavy caffeine intake may mean smaller babies

Pregnant women who down six coffee cups' worth of caffeine every day may have smaller babies than those who consume less caffeine, a new study finds.

Researchers found that among more than 7,300 Dutch women followed from early pregnancy onward, between 2 and 3 percent said they consumed the caffeine equivalent of six cups of coffee per day during any trimester. On average, their babies' length at birth was slightly shorter than that of newborns whose mothers had consumed less caffeine during pregnancy.

Heavy caffeine consumers also had an increased risk of having a baby who was small for gestational age -- smaller than the norm for the baby's sex and the week of pregnancy during which he or she was born.

That finding, however, was based on a small number of babies, and the significance is uncertain. Of 104 infants born to women with the highest caffeine intakes, seven were small for gestational age.

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, add to the conflicting body of research into whether caffeine during pregnancy affects fetal growth.

Some studies, for instance, have linked regular caffeine consumption during pregnancy -- even a relatively modest one or two cups of coffee a day -- to an increased risk of low birth weight. But other studies have found no such effects. Researchers have also come to conflicting conclusions as to whether caffeine affects the risk of miscarriage.

In this latest study, Rachel Bakker and colleagues at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam used ultrasound scans to monitor fetal growth over the course of pregnancy in 7,346 women.

At each trimester, the women reported on their usual intake of coffee and tea. Most women consumed less than the equivalent of four cups of coffee per day at any point in pregnancy, but between 2 and 3 percent downed six or more cups' worth of caffeine.

Overall, babies born to heavy caffeine consumers were slightly shorter, on average, at birth and during all three trimesters of fetal development, based on the ultrasound tests.

"Caffeine intake seems to affect length growth of the fetus from the first trimester onwards," Bakker told Reuters Health in an email.

The implication, she said, is that pregnant women should not consume more than six cups of coffee per day. However, the findings also do not mean that less coffee is generally "safe" during pregnancy.

"We only studied the effect of caffeine on fetal growth," Bakker said. "Future studies on possible other effects of maternal caffeine intake are therefore needed."

Given the uncertainty about whether and how caffeine might affect pregnancy and fetal development, experts generally recommend that to be safe, pregnant women limit their intake.

The March of Dimes, for example, suggests that, based on research into miscarriage risk, pregnant women get no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day -- roughly the amount in 12 ounces of coffee.


Blood pressure drugs while pregnant linked to ADHD in children

Taking common blood pressure drugs while pregnant significantly increases the chances of having hyperactive children, a new study shows.

Reduced blood flow to the baby while in the womb could be to blame, researchers believe.

However, experts warn that the benefits of the drugs, which can prevent women from suffering a stroke or even dying, far outweigh the risks.

Around one in every 14 women will develop raised blood pressure during pregnancy.

The condition can be extremely serious, both for mothers-to-be and their unborn children.

As well as a chance of stroke, complications can include kidney damage and preeclampsia, a dangerous illness which if left unchecked can cause seizures and even death.

Drugs commonly used to treat raised blood pressure in pregnant women include labetalol and methyldopa.

But researchers found that labetalol was linked to a fourfold increase in the risk of a child developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), compared to children whose mothers had been prescribed bed rest.

Those whose mothers were given methyldopa were more than four times more likely to have sleeping problems than those in the bed rest group.

The study looked at 202 children when they were between four and 10 years of age.

A previous study which found that labetalol was linked to smaller than average babies suggested that reduced blood flow through the placenta could be to blame.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) described the findings as “speculative”.

“This study is interesting but it does not mean that pregnant women suffering from hypertension should be all prescribed with bed rest. Indeed, there may be serious consequences for the woman if timely drug treatment isn’t provided.”


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

BPA makes canned food risky for pregnant women

Pregnant women should limit their intake of canned foods and drinks, according to a report that finds 92% of food from metal cans is contaminated with an estrogen-like chemical called BPA, or bisphenol A.

The chemical is used in countless products, from plastic bottles and paper receipts to the linings of metal cans. The National Toxicology Program has said it has "some concern" that BPA alters development of the brain, behavior and the prostate gland in children, before and after birth.

Researchers found that BPA levels vary dramatically even between cans of the same product, according to the study, released Tuesday by the National Workgroup for Safe Markets, a coalition of 19 environmental groups. For example, one can of Del Monte French Style Green Beans had 36 micrograms of BPA per serving, while another can of the same product had 138 micrograms per serving — a level that has been linked to changes in prostate cells and increased aggression in animals.

The report calls on Congress to ban BPA in food and drink containers, noting that companies such as Eden Foods already sell vegetables in BPA-free cans; Muir Glenn also plans to begin packaging tomatoes in BPA-free cans this year. Canada and Denmark restrict the use of BPA in certain children's products, as do five U.S. states, three counties in New York and the city of Chicago, the report says.


Do c-sections increase the risk of celiac disease?

Children who develop celiac disease appear to be more likely to be born by cesarean section, German researchers say.

Celiac disease is a disorder in which eating gluten -- a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye -- causes the body's immune system to attack and damage the small intestine. In the U.S., researchers think nearly 1 out of every 100 people has celiac disease.

Dr. Mathias Hornef, from Hannover Medical School in Germany, and his colleagues knew that people with certain inflammatory bowel diseases - such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis - have a different mix of bacteria in their intestines.

How a child is delivered can affect that mix, so the researchers wondered if children with those diseases would have a higher rate of cesarean birth.

The team studied children and adolescents with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease. They also studied some children with other gastrointestinal problems, as well as a "control" group of children who were visiting local eye doctors and dentists for unrelated conditions.

The celiac children clearly had a higher rate of cesarean births compared to the other four groups. Twenty-eight percent of the celiac children were born by cesarean section, compared to no more than 19 percent of all the other groups. The celiac children were also diagnosed at a younger age, on average, than the other patients.

Hornef and colleagues are not sure why cesarean delivery might be associated with celiac disease but not Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, because the three disorders develop in some similar ways. They say one explanation might be that celiac disease can be triggered much earlier in life, so the newborns with abnormal intestinal bacteria might be particularly vulnerable.

Hornef and his group note in their report that this is the first time anyone has found a link between cesarean delivery and children with celiac disease.

Researchers who were not involved in the study called the results intriguing, but said there may be explanations that don't involve the way babies were born.

For example, Dr. Daniel Leffler, director of clinical research at the Celiac Disease Center at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said many of the children's mothers may have had undiagnosed celiac disease. Given that celiac disease can be inherited, and that undiagnosed celiac disease increases the risk of cesarean section, undiagnosed disease "would be more than enough to explain the increased number of cesareans," he told Reuters Health.

"It may well be that celiac disease is showing up in the children, rather than in the mothers, because people are more alert to the possibility in kids," he added.

Dr. Joseph Murray, a gastroenterologist who specializes in celiac disease at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said it would also be good to study whether there's a similar link between cesarean birth and diabetes, which is closely related to celiac disease.

Hornef is quick to emphasize that cesarean sections can be lifesaving. Much larger studies, and far more data, would be needed "before we recommend something like trying to avoid c-section" as a way to avoid celiac disease, he told Reuters Health by e-mail.

If anything, the results "may mean we need to be looking for celiac disease in young women who want to become pregnant," Leffler said. He noted that when celiac disease is treated with a gluten-free diet, the risk for cesarean section is no higher than for the average woman.

Untreated celiac disease, Leffler added, can have effects on the fetus as well, including slowing its growth and a higher risk of premature birth.


Tips for traveling while pregnant

Life doesn't stop just because you're pregnant. So if you are leaving town for either work or pleasure during your pregnancy, follow these tips for a safe and comfortable trip:

The safest time to travel is between weeks 14 and 28 of your pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Nausea and other discomforts common to the first trimester can make traveling uncomfortable, and unexpected medical situations are more likely to occur during the first and third trimesters.

Traveling by air

WHAT TO PACK: Snacks! Because most airlines don’t provide food, pack some balanced mini-meals to keep your blood-sugar levels steady. Try cheese and crackers, nuts or bags of fruit or veggies. Buy a bottle of water before boarding the plane to stay hydrated.

NEED-TO-KNOW: Most airlines allow pregnant woman to fly until their 36th week, although that standard varies by airline, and with international travel. Flying during the final weeks may require permission from your doctor. If you travel internationally, discuss immunizations with your doctor and bring along copies of relevant health records.

Occasional travelers need not worry about air pressure changes or cosmic radiation at high altitudes, according to the ACOG. Frequent fliers should consult their doctors. No studies yet exist on how full-body scanners might affect a fetus. However, American Pregnancy Association president Brad Imler says the X-rays are so weak they are unlikely to cause problems. He suggests requesting a physical scan by a female security agent if you are concerned.

BONUS TIPS: Choose an aisle seat to make restroom trips easier. Remember that airplane lavatories are small, so wear comfortable clothing. Stretch your legs periodically on longer flights, and remember to hold on to seat backs as you walk up and down the aisle. Unexpected turbulence creates a risk of falling.

Lengthy car travel

WHAT TO PACK: A pillow to help you sleep or maintain comfortable positions while confined to the car.

NEED-TO-KNOW: Never, ever skip your seat belt. Lap and shoulder belts are vital to protect both you and your baby. Lap belts should be worn below the belly, with the shoulder strap across the center of your chest and to the side of your stomach. Keep vehicle airbags turned on; the added safety benefits far outweigh any risks, according to the ACOG.

If you are driving, tilt the steering wheel up, away from your stomach, and keep the seat as far back as possible while being able to reach the foot pedals.

BONUS TIPS: Try to keep travel time to six hours or less. Sitting for more than four hours doubles the risk of deep vein thrombosis, or dangerous blood clots, according to the ACOG.

Being pregnant is an additional risk factor, so remember to stay hydrated and make frequent stops to stretch your legs.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

John Travolta and Kelly Preston Are Expecting!!

John Travolta and Kelly Preston, who have lived through the tragedy of losing a son, can now announce the best news they've had in years.

Preston, 47, is pregnant, the family revealed on Travolta's website Tuesday.

"It's impossible to keep a secret...especially one as wonderful as this.

We want to be the first to share this great news with everyone that we are expecting a new addition to our family.

John, Kelly and Ella"

Travolta, 56, and Preston are also parents to Ella Bleu, 10. Their 16-year-old son Jett, died of a seizure in January 2009.


NBA's Manu Ginobili becomes a father of twins

San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili has become a father, announcing with a message on the internet social website Twitter that his wife Many has given birth to twin sons.

Dante and Nicola Ginobili were born on Sunday, the Argentine star said, adding that mother and sons are all doing well and also noting, "I just changed my first diaper."

Ginobili and his Spurs teammates were knocked out by Phoenix in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Last month, Ginobili said he would not play for Argentina in the World Championships in August and September at Turkey, citing fatherhood and a desire to avoid injuries.

He spent the past two summers, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics, fighting ankle injuries.


World-first operation saves pregnant woman and unborn baby from 'monster' tumor in her chest

A young woman and her unborn baby have miraculously survived pioneering surgery to remove a tumor the size of a watermelon growing inside the expectant mother's chest.

Nicola Ellington, 26, was unaware her body was feeding not just her baby but also a deadly teratoma tumor.

The teratoma - Greek for monster - is so-called because it is often made up from cancerous cells that form teeth and hair.

Miss Ellington and her unborn daughter Layla Sky - now aged 13-weeks - faced certain death as the tumor continued to grow crushing her heart and lungs.

Surgeons decided the tumor - which had lain dormant in Miss Ellington's body for decades since birth - had to be removed or both mother and baby would die.

Although teratoma tumors have been removed from patients before, the operation had never been performed on a pregnant woman.

Miss Ellington said she had been in agonizing pain for months, as the tumor put more and more pressure on her chest.

Doctors had initially failed to spot the tumor, and simply told the expectant mother to take morphine.

A desperate Miss Ellington turned to heart specialists at University Hospital Coventry, West Midlands, where MRI scans revealed the tumor had already grown to be as big as her left lung.

She said: 'The pain was indescribable and it started not long after I became pregnant, it felt like my chest was being crushed.

'I couldn't believe it when they told me what kind of tumor it was and that it had teeth and hair, it was like a monster growing inside me.

'The pain was so bad I could barely breath and it felt like someone was pushing down on my chest.'

Doctors told Miss Ellington that she may have lived with the tumor her whole life but it was only until she became pregnant that the hormones caused it to grow rapidly.

'It was a shock to be told that I have tumor in my chest without even really realizing it,' the first-time mother said.

'Some of my family had told me I should have an abortion because of the risks to me to have any surgery, but I knew I had to go through with it for Layla.

'I remember after the operation I was shown the scans showing Layla was alright and the 'monster' had gone, I was so relieved.'

Doctors had to wait before they could operate on Miss Ellington because Layla's development was still at a crucial stage where she was forming her brain and limbs.

But as the tumor increased in size the oxygen reaching the womb was being cut off and the decision was made to go into theatre.

It took two hours for surgeon Joseph Marzouk to remove the mass. Miss Ellington remained in hospital after the surgery until Layla Sky was born last December weighing a healthy 7lbs 6ozs.

Dr Dawn Adamson, consultant cardiologist at University Hospital Coventry who first spotted the tumor, said she believed it had been triggered by the pregnancy.

'None of us had ever seen anything like this before in pregnancy. Consulting colleagues around the world, we have discovered this is the first time any operation like this has been carried out for these reasons. These tumors are made up embryonic of the cells in the womb which instead of being used to make up the developing baby, lay dormant and then develop later into a tumor.'


Pregnant women rely on mothers' advice the most

A novel study has supported the known fact that expecting women depend more on their mothers' advice than their doctors'.

Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL), found that even though women adhered to doctors' advice when pregnant, they trusted their mothers more for the same.

BBC News quoted, Jane Brewin, chief executive of baby charity Tommy's, as saying, “It’s only natural to want to talk about the significant changes that happen to a woman’s body and how she feels; mums and close friends often have first-hand experience and tips that are helpful.”

For the study, researchers interviewed women who had babies during three generations--1970s, 1980s and 2000s, and compared the results to determine if there was a variation in what pregnant women thought best for them and their child.

Researchers talked about pregnancy-related and childbirth advice with seven women who bore children in the 1970s along with 12 of their daughters who gave birth in the 2000s.

They also talked to 24 women who gave birth in the 1980s and analyzed all the interviews.

Analysis revealed that women bearing children in the 1970s relied most on the advice of their mothers or family members.

On the other hand, women having babies in 2000 and later tended to take mixed advice from mothers, doctors, midwives, books, magazines and internet.

However, this group of contemporary mothers was also inclined to follow the advice of a close one, especially when dealing with a specific symptom.

Lead researcher, Professor Paula Nicolson, RHUL, was quoted by BBC News as saying, “When it comes to the crunch-if women feel sick for example-they will take their mother’s or their grandmother’s advice.”

Nicolson added, “They wouldn’t necessarily recognize how important it was to them, but it would override the science.”

Simultaneously, being all ears to varied guidelines causes anxieties in pregnant women, stated Nicolson.

“Lack of self-confidence also can lead to worry about ‘doing the wrong thing’ which is potentially more harmful than taking the odd glass of wine or eating soft cheese,” added the researcher.

“Women had to ‘strike a balance’ about what advice they took. However, we always stress that if any mum-to-be is worried about anything during their pregnancy they should seek medical advice without delay,” BBC News cited Brewin as saying.

The study appears in the Journal of Health Psychology.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Amy Adams Gives Birth To Baby Girl

Amy Adams has given birth to a healthy baby girl. Aviana Olea Le Gallo was born on Saturday, May 15th in Los Angeles. She weighed in at 7lbs. has exclusively confirmed the 35-year-old "Julie & Julia" star welcomed the seven-pound addition to her family this weekend.

Her fiancé, Darren Le Gallo, was by her side at an undisclosed Los Angeles location for the birth.

"Everyone is doing well," a pal of the actress told

"It's very exciting for Amy, Darren and their families. They have a large, extended family and all their brothers and sisters are relieved and thrilled that this moment has come for them both."

This is the first child for both parents.

The Oscar-nominated actress and Legallo, who met in 2001 in an acting class, announced last December they were expecting.

Speaking about motherhood recently, Adams said: "I think I really have to meet the person before I'm going to know the name, but I tend to be attracted to more traditional names."

The birth comes nearly two years after the couple got engaged in July 2008.


Study: A Link Between Pesticides in Food and ADHD

Studies linking environmental substances to disease are coming fast and furious. Chemicals in plastics and common household goods have been associated with serious developmental problems, while a long inventory of other hazards are contributing to rising rates of modern ills: heart disease, obesity, diabetes, autism.

Add attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to the list. A new study in the journal Pediatrics associates exposure to pesticides with cases of ADHD in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 4.5 million children ages 5 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and rates of diagnosis have risen 3% a year between 1997 and 2006. Increasingly, research suggests that chemical influences, perhaps in combination with other environmental factors — like video games, hyperkinetically edited TV shows and flashing images in educational DVDs aimed at infants — may be contributing to the increase in attention problems.

Led by Maryse Bouchard in Montreal, researchers based at the University of Montreal and Harvard University examined the potential relationship between ADHD and exposure to certain toxic pesticides called organophosphates. The team analyzed the levels of pesticide residue in the urine of more than 1,100 children ages 8 to 15 and found that those with the highest levels of dialkyl phosphates, which are the breakdown products of organophosphate pesticides, had the highest incidence of ADHD. Overall, they found a 35% increase in the odds of developing ADHD with every tenfold increase in urinary concentration of the pesticide residue. The effect was seen even at the low end of exposure: kids who had any detectable, above-average level of the most common pesticide metabolite in their urine were twice as likely as those with undetectable levels to record symptoms of the learning disorder.

"I was quite surprised to see an effect at lower levels of exposure," says Bouchard, who used data on ADHD from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a long-term study of health parameters of a representative sample of U.S. citizens.

Bouchard's analysis is the first to home in on organophosphate pesticides as a potential contributor to ADHD in young children. But the author stresses that her study uncovers only an association, not a direct causal link between pesticide exposure and the developmental condition. There is evidence, however, that the mechanism of the link may be worth studying further: organophosphates are known to cause damage to the nerve connections in the brain — that's how they kill agricultural pests, after all. The chemical works by disrupting a specific neurotransmitter, acetylcholinesterase, a defect that has been implicated in children diagnosed with ADHD. In animal models, exposure to the pesticides has resulted in hyperactivity and cognitive deficits as well.

"I am very confident in the correlation in this study, because we controlled for quite a few things that we thought could play a role," says Bouchard. "Adjusting for those things did not change the results very much. Which indicates that there is very little potential for confounding in this association between pesticides and ADHD."

The results call for additional studies to determine exactly which foods and which residential uses of pesticides may be most likely to lead to harm in children. Although Bouchard's study did not determine the exact method of exposure in the participants, youngsters are most likely to ingest the chemicals through their diet — by eating fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed while growing — according to the National Academy of Sciences. The study also raises the possibility of setting a national threshold for safe levels of exposure; the study authors note that according to the U.S. Pesticide Residue Program report, organophosphates were detected in 28% of frozen blueberries and in 19% of celery samples tested for pesticides. It is not clear whether those levels pose a threat to cognitive function in children, but the current study's findings suggest it may be wise to figure that out.

In the meantime, Bouchard suggests that concerned parents try to avoid using bug sprays in the home and to feed their children organically grown fruits and vegetables, if possible. (Otherwise, parents should be careful to scrub all produce to reduce residue.) While pesticide-free fruits and greens may be more costly, Bouchard says they may be worth the price in terms of future health.


Claudia Schiffer gives birth to third child

Supermodel Claudia Schiffer and her husband, British film director Matthew Vaughn, have announced the birth of their third child.

The baby girl - who was born at London's Portland Hospital on Friday - is the couple's second daughter.

The German model and Vaughn already have a son Caspar, seven, and a daughter Clementine, five.

A statement from the couple did not reveal their daughter's name but said "both mother and baby were doing well".

It said: "Claudia Schiffer and Matthew Vaughn are proud to announce the birth of their baby daughter who was born on Friday May 14 in the early afternoon."

Schiffer and Vaughn first met at a dinner party in Los Angeles.

The supermodel had been in a relationship with the director of action film Kick-Ass and producer of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels for 16 months when they tied the knot near their family home in Suffolk on 25 May 2002.


New York City Women No Longer Allowed to Give Birth at Home With a Midwife

As residents of the world's consumer capital, New Yorkers can have anything delivered to their door at any time. They can have their hair cut in the living room, have champagne and caviar rushed to them on a whim, enjoy a shiatsu massage in their own bed or invite a clairvoyant to predict their future from Tarot cards laid out on the kitchen table.

But there is one thing that is currently unavailable for delivery to those who live in this most can-do of metropolises. Women can not legally give birth at home in the presence of a trained and experienced midwife.

This city of more than 8 million people, with its reputation for being at the cutting-edge of modern urban living, now lacks a single midwife legally permitted to help women have a baby in their own homes. "It's pretty shocking that in a city where you can get anything any hour of the day a person cannot give birth at home with a trained practitioner," said Elan McAllister, president of the New York-based Choices in Childbirth.

The collapse of New York's legal home birth midwifery services has come as a result of the closure two weeks ago of one of the most progressive hospitals in the city, St Vincent's in Manhattan. When the bankrupt hospital shut its doors on April 30th, the midwives suddenly found themselves without any backing or support.

There are 13 midwives who practice home births in New York, and under a system introduced in 1992 they are all obliged under state law to be approved by a hospital or obstetrician, on top of their professional training.

St Vincent's was prepared to underwrite their services, but most other doctors and institutions are not, and they now find themselves without the paperwork they need to work lawfully.

Miriam Schwarzschild, one of the 13, is now in the invidious position of either abandoning her clients or operating illegally. "Apparently by taking a woman's blood pressure I am committing an illegal act," she said. She has no doubts about what she will do: she will stand by the six to eight women she helps in labor every month, law be damned. She said she intends to "fly under the radar", but is anxious about what would happen should she be reported to the state authorities. "At any time a nurse or doctor could report me, and once that happens they could go after my license and shut me down."

Jitters are spreading among the tiny community of home birth midwives. The rumor has circulated that one of them has already been shopped to the authorities by an obstetrician at a hospital where she transferred one of her clients in need of medical attention.

The crisis of home birth in New York city is an extreme example of a pattern found across America. Fewer than 1% of babies are born at home in the US, and in New York that figure is as low as 0.48% — about 600 babies every year out of 125,000. That compares with a rate of about 30% in the Netherlands.

In much of Europe, midwives play the lead role in assisting most low-risk and healthy women to give birth, handing over to a specialist doctor or surgeon only when conditions demand. In the US, that relationship is reversed.

Obstetricians, who are trained to focus on interventionist methods and often have never even witnessed a natural birth, are in charge of about 92% of all cases. As a body, they are fiercely resistant both to midwives – who under the private medical system in America are their competitors – and to women choosing to remain at home.

In 2008 the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists put out a statement effectively instructing its members to have nothing to do with the "trendy" fashion towards home births. Yet despite Acog's stance, and despite the fact that the US spends more money on pregnancy and childbirth-related hospital costs than any other type of hospital care ($86bn a year), the country has the unfortunate distinction of having one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the industrialized world. Its rate stands at 16.7 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared with 7.6 in the Netherlands and 3.9 in Italy. Britain's rate is 8.2.

On top of that, about one in three pregnancies in the US end in a cesarean section — a product, critics say, of the highly interventionist approach that includes frequent induced labors and epidurals. Amnesty International recently dubbed the US record on childbirth as a whole a "human rights crisis".

Knowledge of these statistics, and of what is now happening to New York midwives, makes Julie Jacobowitz-Kelly see red. She is one of Schwarzschild's clients and is preparing to give birth to her first child, a boy she and her partner have already named Benjamin, whose due date fell today.

She said the current illegal status of the home birth midwives was "a travesty, it's absolutely ridiculous. It angers me that experienced midwives like Miriam are in jeopardy."

That is a view shared by some senior New York politicians, including Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president. "There are 600 women who are going to give birth in the next year who want midwives with them at home, and to take away their rights and choices is so backwards it's embarrassing," he said.

Midwifery organizations are scrambling to persuade other hospitals to take over St Vincent's role by signing the so-called "written practice agreements" the midwives need to be legal. So far 75 hospitals have been approached; not one has replied.

Meanwhile, a bill is sitting before the New York state assembly that would scrap the system of practice agreements and allow the midwives to offer their services free of the control of obstetricians. But the bill may not be put to a vote at all this year.