If you've ever met identical twins, you've probably learned that even though they look exactly the same, they oftentimes have very different personalities. Scientists have discovered why this phenomena is often true and shed some light on how the environment a person grows up in determines much of who they become.
In a study of over 500 twins, researchers discovered that although twins are born with identical genes, it was their experiences that determined which genes were activated or silenced. In fact, the environment even helped to tweak the twins' susceptibility to certain diseases. The process of genome changes necessary for growth is called methylation - a silencing of some genes and amplifying of others. Lead author of the study, Professor Susan Clark, said of the results: "We showed that methylation patterns are exquisitely inherited, and so
the methylation patterns of identical twins are still very similar to
each other. This demonstrated that the DNA sequence does instruct the
methylation pattern. When that methylation pattern changes, however, it
gives rise to potential changes in phenotype, or who we are."
The study provides hope for anyone who is concerned about genetic susceptibilities to certain diseases or personality traits, such as autism. The authors say that the next step is to study twins where one twin has a disease and the other does not.
Everybody loves a chubby baby but there's a difference between the beautiful rolls of a healthy child and a baby growing too large in the womb. It's rare, but sometimes a baby becomes so large in the womb that she can only be delivered via c-section. Gestational diabetes is usually the reason behind such impressive growth. However, a new study has discovered that consumption of trans fats during pregnancy can also lead to very large babies in the womb.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that the more trans fats a pregnant woman consumed, the larger her newborn in a study of nearly 1400 expectant mothers. When reviewing each new mother's dietary habits during the second trimester, the more trans fats a woman consumed, the higher the weight of the newborn crept up. A larger newborn can lead to a c-section delivery and babies born at higher weights are more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease throughout their lifetime.
Trans fats are notoriously unhealthy for any person, not just pregnant women. Unfortunately, many women unknowingly crave foods that contain partially-hydrogenated oils during pregnancy. They are very common in packaged chips, cookies, crackers and fast food and have a noticeably unhealthy effect on cholesterol levels in the body. The American Heart Association recommends that a person limit their intake of trans fats to 1% of their calories consumed each day. On a 2,000 calorie diet, that translates to two grams of trans fat a day. It's important to check the nutrition labels on packaged foods for the total trans fats and steer away from products containing partially-hydrogenated oils.
Do you try to avoid trans fats?
More trans fat during pregnancy tied to bigger baby [reuters]
There are a few days that you definitely do not want to give birth on: your wedding day, Friday the 13th and for many people, Halloween. In fact, a recent study found that birth rates take a sudden dip on the scary holiday and researchers suspect that we may have more control over the day we give birth than we suspect.
A study completed at the Yale School of Public Health discovered a variance in birth rates in the United States over a period of 11 years that was dependent on the holiday. On Halloween they found a 5.3 percent decrease in spontaneous births and a 16.9 percent decrease in c-sections. The opposite was true of a more heart-warming holiday: Valentines Day. Researchers noticed a 3.6 percent increase in spontaneous births on Valentines and a 12.1 percent increase in c-sections. Lead author of the study, Becca Levy, said of the results: "The study suggests that beliefs arising from our culture can have a
greater impact on physical functioning than we might suspect."
Naturally, some of those c-sections were probably scheduled in an effort to avoid the spooky birth day or to have bragging rights over a Valentines baby. Nevertheless, the spontaneous births are indicative of some kind of psychological push to give birth on a preferred date.
Have you ever given birth on the exact day you wanted to or avoided a date you didn't want?
Halloween, Valentine’s Day Found to Influence Birth Timing [HealthCanal]
For most women, pregnancy is exhausting but a woman named Amber Miller didn't let it slow her down. At 39-weeks pregnant, the expectant mom took part in the Chicago Marathon, a 26.2-mile race.
Miller alternated between walking and running as contractions took hold towards the end of the race. She eventually was able to cross the finish line only to give birth a couple hours later. Her baby girl, June, was born on Sunday night.
Miller revealed to WGN Channel 9 news: "I got the OK from my doctor to run half, and my husband ran with me and supported me along the way. I ran half and walked half, that's how I finished. Everybody just kind of stared as I'm running by...It wasn't too bad, you know? I have been running all the way up until this point anyway so I'm kind of used to it."
The new mom finished the marathon in six hours, 25 minutes and 50 seconds. The contractions didn't set her off guard because she was used to them: "...running throughout the pregnancy, I’d usually get a
contraction here or there anyway. But then, a few minutes
after I finished, I started feeling the contractions and they were
coming every five minutes. So I think we waited an hour or so just to
kind of make sure it was real labor. They were pretty consistent at that
Thankfully, the new mom is taking it easy after giving birth.
It's normal to feel some abdominal discomfort during
pregnancy, but it can be hard to determine when it's time to head to your
health care provider to get checked out. Severe and consistent abdominal pain
needs immediate attention. If pain or cramping is accompanied by bleeding, fever, changes in vaginal discharge, light-headedness, urinary irritation, or
nausea, then you should contact your health care provider as soon as possible.
In the first 20 weeks, abdominal pain could be a warning
signal for a couple of serious conditions:
pregnancy is the first problem that you’ll want to rule out because it can be
fatal. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside of
the uterus, in the fallopian tube, ovaries, abdomen or the cervix. If you have
an ectopic pregnancy, you will probably feel abdominal pain before you even
know your pregnant because it will usually present itself anywhere from 4-7
weeks gestation. Sometimes a pregnancy test will give you a negative result
when you have an ectopic pregnancy. Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include:
bleeding or spotting, pain in the abdomen, back, shoulders or neck, dizziness
and low blood pressure. The pain might become worse during bowel movements or
physical activity. If you start to experience symptoms of shock accompanied
with heavy bleeding, call 911 immediately.
is the loss of a pregnancy within the first 20 weeks. Signs of miscarriage are:
spotting, bleeding, passing tissue or clots, pain and cramping in the lower
abdomen, persistent lower back pain and the absence of pregnancy symptoms. The
symptoms might be hard to recognize because they can present themselves over a
period of a couple days. Severe bleeding needs medical attention immediately.
Otherwise, call your health care provider if you exhibit symptoms of a miscarriage.
Throughout your pregnancy abdominal pain can often be caused
by normal bodily functions:
-Small periods of cramping before
or during an orgasm are normal and do not warrant medical attention.
-Gas pains are more common during pregnancy because digestion is
slowed and there is more pressure on the stomach and intestines.
-Constipation pain is also common during pregnancy. The growing
uterus puts pressure on the rectum and slower digestion contributes to
constipation. This pressure can also cause a Bowel obstruction,which
requires medical attention.
During pregnancy, some causes of abdominal pain are related
to the pregnancy and may or may not require medical attention:
-RoundLigamentstretching around the abdomen occurs
because as the pregnancy progresses, the ligaments stretch and become thicker.
Short, stabbing pains commonly occur during the second trimester in response to
movement. If the pain lingers after movements, you should contact a health care
Hicks contractions are common in mid to late pregnancy and act as
“preparation exercises” for the uterus before giving birth. They are typically
irregular and painless before 37 weeks.
-If contractions become painful or
come in closer intervals before 37 weeks, then it could be a sign of premature
labor. Premature labor is often accompanied by some vaginal discharge,
possibly bloody mucus. You might also experience cramping and lower back pain.
Get in touch with a medical professional if you suspect premature labor; it can
sometimes be stopped.
There are also serious pregnancy complications that can
cause abdominal pain throughout pregnancy:
is a common condition of pregnancy that is identified by a rise in blood
pressure and protein in the urine. It’s unknown what the cause is. Swollen
face, hands, feet and ankles can point to preeclampsia. Severe preeclampsia can
cause intense abdominal pain often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, headache,
and problems with your vision. Preeclampsia requires immediate medical
attention and consistent monitoring until you give birth.
-Placental Abruption is the separation of the placenta from the
uterus partially or completely. Bleeding or light spotting is the most apparent
symptom. It can cause abdominal tenderness, back pain, contractions or one
long, hard contraction of the uterus. Placental abruption needs treatment
Pregnant or not, there are causes of abdominal pain that all
require medical attention:
-Kidney stones (more common during pregnancy)
-Gallbladder issues (more common during pregnancy)
-Hepatitis or problems of the liver
-Problems with the pancreas (more common during pregnancy)
-Urinary tract infection (more common during pregnancy)
If you experience any abdominal pain during pregnancy and
don’t know what the cause is, you should contact your health care provider. Do not panic if
you experience abdominal pain - often times the cause of pain during pregnancy
is not serious but it’s better to take a cautious approach. A health
professional will be able to help you narrow down the possible causes and give
you the attention you need should the situation become serious.
Have you experienced any abdominal pain during your pregnancy?
It's bad enough that parents are constantly pushed and prodded to buy the newest and most advanced baby products, now companies have found a new promising target: babies. Logos and brands created for babies are nothing new, but the way companies are pushing them has ramped up with the expectation that parents won't be able to say "no" when Jr. cries out for his favorite brand.
Gucci, Versace, and other designer brands have been jumping on the baby market bandwagon with increasing ferocity as of late. They're goal is to imprint the brand in the mind of the impressionable 1-3 year old set and it is destined to work. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood reports that babies request brands as soon as they can speak and start remembering logos as early as six months of age.
It's estimated that 14 percent of children under two-years-old watch more than two hours worth of media a day. To soothe and entertain babies, parents are using cell phone applications, videos and other devices which are laced with commercials and visually-stimulating ads. A recent study found that 80 percent of children under five use the internet weekly. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against any screen time for children under the age of two. The AAP released a policy paper in which Vic Strasburger, professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine stated: "children under the age of 7 are psychologically defenseless against advertising."
Not all parents are up in arms over the recent marketing shift. After all, marketing is the driving force beyond free apps that help entertain a baby on a plane, or free onesies provided in some hospitals after giving birth. Nevertheless, the debate is unlikely to go away anytime soon and any parent who has given in to the demands to go to McDonald's after a child sees a commercial with Ronald Mcdonald can attest to the power of marketing to children.
How do you feel about ads that target babies and toddlers?
The Next Great American Consumer Infants to 3-year-olds [AdWeek]
Solicitors in the Maternity Ward [PWBlog]