Friday, June 25, 2010

'No fetal pain before 24 weeks'

There is no new evidence to show fetuses feel pain in the womb before 24 week, UK doctors say.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' review said fetuses are "undeveloped and sedated".

Brain connections are not fully formed, and the environment of the womb creates a state of induced sleep, like unconsciousness, they add.

Anti-abortion campaigners challenged the reports.

The issue of whether a fetus of 24 weeks or below can feel pain had been raised in the debate over whether the current time limit for abortion should be reduced.

The first of the college's reviews examined whether or not a fetus can experience pain.

It found that nerve connections in the cortex, the area which processes responses to pain in the brain, does not form properly before 24 weeks.

The report states: "It can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation."

Even after 24 weeks, the college concluded a fetus is naturally sedated and unconscious in the womb.

This could mean that late abortions, which are permitted for serious abnormalities or risks to the mother's health, may not result in fetal suffering.

In addition, the report says anaesthetics, which can be risky, would not be required if a fetus requires surgery.

It also tried to define what mental and physical abnormalities could result in a "serious handicap".

One per cent of abortions are carried out on these grounds. Such terminations can take place after 24 weeks.

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), said taken together the two reports would provide a clear basis for difficult decisions.

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Pregnant women who fast during Ramadan 'put babies' health at risk'

Pregnant Muslim women who fast during Ramadan are likely to have smaller babies who are more prone to learning disabilities, a new study has found.

Researchers from the U.S. said this trend was most marked if mothers-to-be fasted early on in their pregnancy and during the summer when longer days meant they went more hours without food.

They also found that the women were 10 per cent less likely to give birth to a boy if they had fasted.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a time when Muslims across the world fast from dawn until sunset.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and many women may fear a loss of connection with their communities if they did not observe it.

Women who request an exemption from fasting are expected to make up the days they have missed after their baby is born.

The study was based on census data from the US, Iraq and Uganda. It also revealed that the long-term effects on the adult's health impacted on their future economic success.

Study author Douglas Almond, of Columbia University said: 'We generally find the largest effects on adults when Ramadan falls early in pregnancy.

'Rates of adult disability are roughly 20 per cent higher, with specific mental disabilities showing substantially larger effects.'

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Drew Brees and wife expecting 2nd child

New Orleans Quarterback Drew Brees has revealed that he and his wife, Brittany, are expecting their second child in October -- a little brother or sister for 15-month-old son Baylen, who became immortalized as a Saints mascot during the Super Bowl postgame celebration.

"We're very excited," said Brees, adding that fatherhood has been an "awesome" experience

"I’m not going to lie, my diaper changing skills are actually pretty good," says Brees, who was on hand at Yankee Stadium in New York Sunday to present a $10,000 check to the New York Yankees Foundation on behalf of Pampers Dry Max. “That’s what I’ve done since day one. In the beginning as a dad that was my way to bond with my son."

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Too little weight gain risky in twin pregnancy

Women pregnant with twins should be sure to gain the recommended amount of weight, according to a new study, which shows that gaining less weight than recommended during a twin pregnancy ups the risk of early birth and low weight babies.

"A woman should gain about a pound a week; less than that, and we had smaller babies and more pre-term births," Dr. Nathan Fox of Maternal-Fetal Medicine Associates of New York City told Reuters Health.

Fox and his partners wanted to know if the twin pregnancy weight gain guidelines updated by the Institute of Medicine in 2009 made a difference in pregnancy outcomes.

These recommendations suggest a range of weight gain depending on a woman's weight at the start of her twin pregnancy. A normal weight woman should gain 37 to 54 pounds; an overweight woman, 31 to 50 pounds; and an obese woman, 25 to 42 pounds.

In looking at 281 mostly normal weight women pregnant with twins, Fox and colleagues found that women who gained the recommended amount of weight did much better in regards to the pregnancy outcomes.

Women who gained less than the recommended amount of weight were more likely to give birth early (before 32 weeks of pregnancy) than women who gained the correct amount of weight (14 percent versus 5 percent). They were also more likely to give birth to smaller babies.

Unlike in singleton pregnancies, gaining enough weight in twin pregnancies can be Herculean task. "It's often not easy," Fox said. "We send our patients to nutritionists and have them on high calorie diets a lot to have them gain the right amount of weight. It's not easy for many (women)."

About 3 in every 100 pregnancies is a twin pregnancy, the investigators note, and preterm births occur about 60 percent of the time, making the issue of correct weight gain even more important.

The strong link between inadequate weight gain in twin pregnancies and increased rates of pre-term birth "has not been conclusively demonstrated previously," the investigators point out in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Their findings, they say, shed light on the importance on what "could be a correctable cause of prematurity in twins," they conclude.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This Week's Celebrity Baby Bumps

Paz Vega has been dressing her bump in black in rare public appearances and Alicia Keys glows as she has her baby blessed in a Zulu ceremony.

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A few weeks of paternity leave 'help you live longer'

Fathers who take paternity leave live longer, experts say.

According to their study, taking up to two months off work when a baby is born lowers a man's risk of dying prematurely by almost 25 per cent.

Their research is based on the health and habits of men in Sweden, the first country to give new fathers paid time off work.

And the experts say encouraging men to take time off when their child is born may help to close the gender gap in longevity. At the moment, men live on average five to seven years fewer than women.

The reasons behind that are not clear, but one theory is that men who are close to their children take better care of their own health. This might mean that they eat healthier foods, drink less, visit the doctor more often or simply take fewer risks in life.

Another theory is that making time for family activities cuts stress levels, according to the journal Social Science & Medicine.

'Strategies aimed at less gender stereotypical expectations on what a man "should do" are on the whole likely to benefit male health, and potentially reduce the gender gap in longevity, said the researchers, from Stockholm's Karolinska Institute, who studied 72,000 fathers.

Source

Cell phone towers 'not a risk for babies'

Living close to a mobile phone mast does not increase the chance of a pregnant woman's baby developing cancer before he or she reaches the age of five, a study has found.

Researchers from Imperial College London looked at almost 7,000 children and found those who developed cancer aged four or younger were no more likely to have a birth address close to a mast than their peers.

The study included 1,397 British children aged up to four who were registered with leukemia or a tumor in the brain or central nervous system between 1999 and 2001.

The proximity of their birth address to a mast was compared to that of four healthy children of the same gender who were born on the same day, chosen randomly to act as controls.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College London and the study's lead author, said: "People are worried that living near a mobile phone mast might affect their children's health.

"We looked at this question with respect to risk of cancers in young children. We found no pattern to suggest that the children of mums living near a base station during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing cancer than those who lived elsewhere."

Source

When might reducing a multiple pregnancy be beneficial?

The fewer babies a pregnant woman carries, the more likely she is to bring a healthy one home from the hospital, suggests a new study.

The findings may prompt a woman bearing identical twins plus one or more additional fetuses, a relatively common scenario after in vitro fertilization (IVF), to consider removing the risky twin pair in order to save the solo siblings, researchers say.

"Singletons are always our goal," lead researcher Dr. Alan Copperman, director of reproductive endocrinology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, told Reuters Health. "We know that twins do better than triplets, and we know that singletons do better than twins."

Due to the embryo split that defines identical twins, he explained, one of the pair may receive less blood flow than its brother or sister. This can lead to a greater chance of premature delivery, developmental abnormalities and even death. Add another fetus, and there is even less to go around and more chances for problems.

While earlier studies have tracked the rate of identical twins from pregnancies after assisted reproduction to more than double that of natural conceptions, information on outcomes has been lacking. "We were too often forced to rely on anecdotal experience in making recommendations to our patients," noted Copperman.

This inspired he and colleagues to delve into a dataset of nearly 3,500 pregnancies conceived by IVF between 2002 and 2008. About 72 of the pregnancies (about 2 percent) included identical twins, and about half of these women carried at least one additional fetus.

In almost a third of the pregnancies, identical twins were completely aborted by the woman's body. Another 4 percent were naturally reduced to just one fetus.

If neither occurred spontaneously within the first trimester, most of the women with three or more fetuses had her identical twins surgically aborted. Every one of these women subsequently gave birth to at least one healthy baby.

Babies born to women who underwent natural or surgical reductions had significantly longer gestation, greater birth weights and lower risks of stillbirth than babies who survived after sharing the womb with multiple other fetuses, the researchers report in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

The reduction procedure is typically covered by health insurance, Copperman noted, since companies realize it will likely keep the pregnancy's overall costs down. IVF itself runs between about $10,000 and $12,000 per cycle, and is often covered by insurance as well.

In an email to Reuters Health, Dr. C. Matthew Peterson of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, who was not involved in the research, said that although the study does raise concerns regarding identical twins in IVF pregnancies, a larger and more detailed study is needed to draw any real conclusions.

Copperman added that doctors should be sensitive in talking about options for pregnancy reductions.

"It's not something to be taken lightly," he said. "Reduced pregnancies may do extremely well, but that doesn't mean people can't have healthy twins or even triplets. It should all be part of the dialogue between patient and physician."

Source

Mothers' High Blood Sugar in Pregnancy is Linked to Children's Reduced Insulin Sensitivity

Children of mothers whose blood glucose (sugar) was high during pregnancy are more likely to have low insulin sensitivity-a risk factor for type 2 diabetes-even after taking into consideration the children's body weight, a new study shows. The results will be presented Tuesday at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"We know that children born to women with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes, or who have high blood sugar during pregnancy are at risk of becoming diabetic themselves. This study suggests that the children's increased risk appears to be due, at least in part, to their prenatal exposure to relatively high maternal blood glucose," said study co-author Paula Chandler-Laney, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Chandler-Laney and her colleagues studied 21 children ages 5 to 10 years and measured the children’s sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that regulates sugar in the blood. They also evaluated the pregnancy medical records of the children’s mothers to determine maternal blood sugar concentration during the oral glucose tolerance test.

The researchers found an inverse association between maternal blood sugar during pregnancy and the child’s insulin sensitivity, meaning that the higher the mother’s blood sugar levels during pregnancy, the lower her child’s insulin sensitivity. Low insulin sensitivity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Obesity lowers insulin sensitivity, but the children’s reduced insulin sensitivity was independent of their amount of body fat, the authors reported.

In addition, children exposed to high blood sugar levels in the womb also were more likely to have exaggerated insulin secretion after a meal, independent of their reduced insulin sensitivity. Relatively high insulin secretion is also associated with increased risk for later development of type 2 diabetes, Chandler-Laney explained.

None of the children had high blood sugar, but puberty would further lower their insulin sensitivity, she noted.

“High maternal blood glucose during pregnancy may have lasting effects on children’s insulin sensitivity and secretion, potentially raising the risk for type 2 diabetes,” Chandler-Laney said. “Obstetricians, pediatricians, and pregnant women should all be aware of the potential far-reaching consequences that elevated blood sugar during pregnancy can have on children’s health.”

Source

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sean Patrick Thomas Welcomes a Son!

It's a boy for Sean Patrick Thomas and his wife Aonika Laurent Thomas!

The happy couple welcomed their second child, Luc Laurent Thomas, on June 9, his rep told Celebrity Baby Scoop.

Baby Luc weighed in at 7 lbs., 6 oz. He joins big sister Lola Jolie, 2. Thomas' rep says mama and baby are just fine: “Everyone is doing great!”

Sean Patrick and Aonika announced the pregnancy in January.

Congratulations to the Thomas family!

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Induced labor may double the odds of C-section

In a study of 7,800 first-time mothers who gave birth at one U.S. medical center, researchers found that those who had their labor induced were twice as likely to ultimately need a C-section.

Of all women in the study, 44 percent had their labor induced -- and the researchers estimate that failed induction accounted for 20 percent of the C-sections performed.

The findings, reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, firm up the link seen in past studies between labor induction and an increased risk of C-section. By definition, labor induction is performed before a woman's body is ready for spontaneous labor, and in some cases there will be problems with labor progression that necessitate a C-section.

The connection is important because while cesarean section is a generally safe procedure, it requires a longer recovery time than vaginal birth, and does present certain risks, such as blood clots, infection at the incision site or in the lining of the uterus, and breathing problems in the baby.

Moreover, the rates of both labor induction and C-section have been on an upward trend in the U.S. since the 1990s. Labor inductions have risen from just under 10 percent of births in 1990 to 22 percent in 2006; and in 2007, C-sections were done in almost one-third of all births.

The current findings suggest that putting more limits on so-called "elective" inductions would help lower the number of C-sections performed nationally, according to lead researcher Dr. Deborah B. Ehrenthal of the Christiana Care Health System in Newark, Delaware.

There are circumstances in which labor induction may be advisable. There is good evidence, for example, that inducing labor benefits mom and baby when pregnancy goes beyond 41 weeks, Ehrenthal told Reuters Health in an interview.

Normally, pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, and prolonged or "post-term" pregnancy carries an increased risk of certain complications, including stillbirth.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), labor induction may also be warranted in certain other circumstances -- such as when a mother has pregnancy-related high blood pressure or diabetes, or when the mother's "water breaks" but labor does not spontaneously begin.

In general, elective labor induction refers to those done with no clear medical reason. It may be done for convenience, for example, or in cases where late pregnancy is causing significant physical discomfort or when a woman wants to ensure that her own doctor delivers the baby.

Of the labor inductions performed in this study, 40 percent were elective. The findings were based on women's medical records, and Ehrenthal said that her team considered any induction without a documented maternal or fetal indication to be elective. The precise reasons for those elective inductions are unknown.

According to Ehrenthal, the bottom line for pregnant women is that they should understand the reasons for and potential risks of all forms of delivery. "It's really important to have a frank discussion with your doctor about all of your options for delivery," she said.

Among these low-risk women, one-quarter of those who had a labor induction ended up needing a C-section, versus 14 percent of those who had a natural labor.

Source

Delivery Method May Determine the Bacteria Babies Acquire

Babies who are born vaginally pick up different bacteria than those who are delivered by cesarean section, potentially affecting how their immune systems develop, a new study suggests.

The findings could provide more insight into why babies born through cesarean sections appear to be more at risk of allergies and asthma, researchers say. The bacteria they're exposed to at birth may help explain the relationship, since coming into contact with germs seems to help babies build defenses against them.

"We want to understand what the differences are and how they are important for the baby's health," said study author Maria G. Dominguez-Bello, an associate professor in the department of biology at the University of Puerto Rico.

The research is preliminary, she said, but it could help determine whether babies will benefit by being exposed to germs at birth that they otherwise wouldn't encounter.

While germs may sound like a bad thing, they're often beneficial to the body.

"We are all colonized -- our skin, mouth, intestines, vagina, ears -- by bacteria that have evolved with man," Dominguez-Bello said. "We are just now starting to unveil what these bacteria are, what they do, why they are important for organs to function." Colonization means the organism is present but not causing infection.

In the new study, researchers aimed to determine what types of germs colonize the bodies of babies as they're born. (The womb itself is free of germs, Dominguez-Bello noted.)

The researchers tested bacteria from the skin and mouths of 10 babies within a day after their birth. They also tested bacteria from their mothers.

Those who were born vaginally clearly picked up bacteria from their mothers since the germs matched. Those germs, which were linked to vaginal infections, gum disease and the digestion of milk, appear to have been acquired as they passed through the birth canal.

"It's very clear that the moms give the bacteria to the newborn babies. The babies are like magnets," Dominguez-Bello said.

The babies born by C-section harbored germs linked to skin infections, acne, diphtheria and food poisoning.

One theory is that it takes a little longer for babies born via cesarean section to come into contact with germs they need to survive.

"In order to be healthy adults, they'll be have to be colonized and end up having 10 times as many bacteria as their own cells," she said.

Dr. Athos Bousvaros, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, said the study appears to be valid, although it only looked at a small number of babies over a short period of time.

"We don't know if this different colonization will persist over time," he said. Other factors -- antibiotics, genetics and breast-feeding -- may also play a role in how germs colonize babies, he pointed out.

"Pregnant moms should not be overly concerned about having a C-section based on this research," Bousvaros said. "The research does not associate this difference in colonization with the babies developing illness -- babies have been born by C-section for decades, and are generally quite healthy. As always, however, C-section should only be done if deemed medically necessary."

Source

Monday, June 21, 2010

Itsabelly Summer Events!

Itsabelly Baby Planners Multi-city Health & Wellness Events for Mom & Baby officially started June 16th in Atlanta. On June 24th, events in Seattle and Chicago will be taking place and then on the 26th an event will be held in San Francisco.

Check out their great baby product giveaways, sponsors & win a $500 Britax stroller system!

For more event details & to RSVP Go Here.

Flame Retardant May Up Risk of Thyroid Problems in Pregnancy

Exposure to flame-retardant chemicals may reduce a pregnant woman's levels of certain thyroid hormones that play a critical role in fetal brain development, a new study shows.

Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants are used in a large number of consumer products, including cars, electronics and home furnishings. PBDEs are found in the blood of most Americans, according to data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the new study, published online June 21 and in an upcoming print issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, measured thyroid hormone levels in 270 women, most of them Mexican-American, and found that those with higher PBDE levels had lower levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone.

Women with the highest levels of the flame retardant in their blood were more likely to have subclinical hyperthyroidism, which is defined as below-normal levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone with normal levels of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4), the researchers found.

"Women with low [thyroid-stimulating hormone] may be above their natural set-point for the T4 thyroid hormone, which means that their thyroids may not be functioning normally," study author Jonathan Chevrier, of the Center for Children's Environmental Health Research at University of California, Berkeley, said in a news release from the journal's publisher.

"Elevated T4 in pregnancy has been associated with increased risks of miscarriage, premature birth and intrauterine growth retardation," study co-author Brenda Eskenazi added.

"A mother's thyroid hormones affect her developing baby throughout her pregnancy, and they are essential for fetal brain development," Eskenazi, director of the Center for Children's Environmental Health Research, stated in the news release.

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