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Study: Sugar Consumption During Pregnancy Impacts Baby’s Learning, Memory

A new study found that mothers consuming high amounts of sugar and sugar substitutes during pregnancy, or high sugar consumption during early childhood, was associated with compromised learning and memory skills in children. Alternately, high fruit consumption was found to have the opposite effect.

In a new study published online Thursday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers analyzed data from more than 1,000 pregnant women from 1999 to 2002 who participated in Project Viva, a longitudinal research study of women and children. In addition, the team also assessed the diets of the women’s subsequent offspring, and their cognition at age three and again at age seven.

Results revealed that poorer childhood cognitive skills were associated with mothers who consumed high sugar diets during their pregnancy or in children who consumed greater amounts of sugar during early life.

These cognitive deficits were most noted in non-verbal abilities to solve problems and verbal memory, as well as decreased intelligence.

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Report: Millennials Struggle to Find Affordable Childcare

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Millennials are the first generation in modern history to have higher poverty rates and lower incomes than their two preceding generations, two major impediments to buying a home, raising a family, and pursuing more appealing career options.

Yet those two economic challenges are exacerbated by the rising costs of child care. “Quality, affordable child care is critical for all families, including millennials often just beginning their families and careers,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America.

Key findings of the report include:

  • In 17 states and D.C., it takes at least 50 percent of millennial’s income to pay for infant child care in a center;
  • Millennial parents with two children (one infant and one 4-year-old) need to allocate at least 45 percent of their income to pay for center-based child care;
  • The government standard for affordable child care fees set by the Department of Health and Human Services is less than 7 percent of family income, yet across all states, the average cost of center-based infant child care exceeds 25 percent of the average median income for millennials—with Massachusetts, the highest at 68 percent.

Pew Research Center defines millennials as youth and young adults born between 1980 and 1997. Many of these young adults are in the midst of planning their families or are already raising children. These young parents juggle various demands in order to provide the best future for themselves and their families.

Millennial parents typically fall into two groups: those who are new graduates just beginning to start a family, and those who are returning to school, or hoping to return to school, to acquire a higher education after having a child or children. Both groups are struggling to afford and access quality child care.

“Our analysis shows child care is simply not affordable for millennial parents,” said Dionne Dobbins, Ph.D., Senior Research Director at Child Care Aware® of America. “Those with young children and those looking to start a family have to account for the expenses of maintaining a home, a child’s needs, and education related costs.”

Data reveals roughly 40 percent of student parents take on full-time work, and approximately half are unmarried—highlighting a population with a high demand schedule and lack of additional support for child care within the household. These parents also fit more into a single day than others; in fact, it has been estimated low-income young parents work the after- midnight shift at a rate three to four times higher than their non-parent counterparts, one illustration of the need for nontraditional hours for child care services that is often unavailable and result in parents relying on informal markets which can be dangerous.

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Solving the deepening problem is not only an issue of concern for millennials, it is crucial for our economy. A Forbes article covering a Standard & Poor’s report states with millennials not purchasing homes, the U.S. could be missing out on $49 billion a year through 2019. In addition, if student loan defaults increase, the economy could be at risk since the federal government provides more than 85 percent of these loans.

As the debate on the President’s new budget begins on Capitol Hill, it is imperative that child care’s irreplaceable role in the American dream be recognized and supported. We propose:

  • Increasing significant federal investments in child care assistance for eligible children and increasing quality improvement efforts. We recommend an increase to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 by $700 million in the FY 2018 budget. This ensures that CCDBG can be effectively implemented and families do not lose child care assistance.
  • Expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to help all families cover the rising cost of child care.
  • Increasing funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, a U.S. Department of Education discretionary/competitive grant to qualifying institutions of higher education for low-income parents pursuing postsecondary education, despite granting nearly $15 million to 85 institutions in 2015.
  • Providing paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and expand FMLA to cover all workers. Unfortunately, current law only stipulates unpaid leave for those who work in companies of 50 of more employees.

“As we see more young parents look to pursue a higher education as well as new graduates trying to start families, the need for child care is paramount,” Dr. Fraga said. “Child Care Aware® of America is committed to the mission of advancing a child care system that effectively serves all children and families. In working toward our vision, where every family has access to high-quality affordable child care, it is important to evaluate the issues facing our newest generation of families.”

Explore information on the millennial generation and how the changing economic environment impacts parents’ ability to afford child care at usa.childcareaware.org/millennial-map. The full Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2016 report is available for download here.

Study: NYC Babies Born After 9/11 Preterm & Low Weight



A new study states that women who delivered in New York after exposure to 9/11 had increased risks for low birth weight and preterm delivery.

The study was retrospective and looked at  deliveries after September 11, 2001, up to the end of 2010, who had exposure to 9/11.

Subjects were identified through the World Trade Center Health Registry and included women who were engaged in rescue or recovery work, witness to an event, living or working in area.

Researchers examined information on birth certificates to identify low birth weight, preterm delivery, and small for gestational age.

Read the entire study here.

In Which States Are Women Paid the Most and the Least?

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Women’s salaries continue to rise though they remain below the median pay that men  receive.  Two recent studies analyzed the best and worst states in the United States for Working women.

The District of Columbia, Maryland and Massachusetts were the top three states in a study study analyzed by The Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The researches looked specifically at pay, women’s leadership roles, labor force participation, and the gender pay gap.

Minnesota, Massachusetts and Vermont took the top three spots for being family-friendly to working moms, having a high percentage of voter participation and access to healthcare, according to WalletHub‘s analysis. Its study ranked the top best 15 states and 15 worst states based on professional opportunities available and quality of life for women.

Despite the high salaries women still only make 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man. And even though women make up more than half of the labor force, they make up 62 percent of all minimum and sub-minimum wage workers.

Here are the top 5 in The Institute for Women’s Policy Research listing:

Here are the top five, along with the median pay for women with full-time jobs:

  1. District of Columbia $60,000
  2. Maryland 49,800
  3. Massachusetts 48,500
  4. New Jersey 48,000
  5. Connecticut 46,000

And here are the bottom five:

  1. Arkansas $30,000
  2. Mississippi 30,000
  3. Louisiana 32,000
  4. Idaho 30,000
  5. West Virginia 30,300

 

STUDY: Antiviral drug stops HBV passage during pregnancy

Real People: Hands Holding Caucasian Sleeping Newborn Baby Girl

Pregnant women with hepatitis B may not have to worry that they will pass on the virus to their babies thanks to new research that found the antiviral drug telbibudine prevents the passage of the virus (HBV) to baby.

The study, which is published in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, was conducted on 450 HBV-positive pregnant women in their second or third trimester who had a significant amount of the HBV virus in their blood. Of those women, 279 received 600mg of telbivudine daily, and the remaining 171 refused to take the medicine and were used as controls.

When scientists examined their babies six months after born, they found that none of the infants whose mothers were given telbivudine tested positive for HBV, compared to 14.7 percent of infants in the control group.

“If we are to decrease the global burden of hepatitis B, we need to start by addressing mother-to-infant transmission, which is the primary pathway of HBV infection,” study author Yuming Wang from Institute for Infectious Diseases at Southwest Hospital in Chongqing, China said in a release about the findings. “We found that telbivudine not only eliminated vertical transmission of HBV from pregnant women to theirs infants, but that it is also safe and well tolerated by women and infants.”

Access the complete study at the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, HERE.

h/t Medical Express

STUDY: Alcohol consumption during first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy impacts baby

It is well established that consuming alcohol during pregnancy can cause harm to the fetus. Now, a new study finds that drinking alcohol as early as 3-4 weeks into pregnancy – before many women even realize they are expecting – may alter gene functioning in the brains of offspring, leading to long-term changes in brain structure.
The study, conducted in mice and published in the journal PLOS ONE, also identified changes in gene functioning in other body tissues as a result of alcohol consumption in early pregnancy.
The research team, led by Dr. Nina Kaminen-Ahola of the University of Helsinki in Finland, says their findings indicate that alcohol exposure in early pregnancy may cause lifelong changes to gene regulation in embryonic stem cells – the earliest cells to emerge from a developing embryo.

Study: Daily TV watching contributes to obesity in kindergarteners

Even a little bit of television viewing goes a long way to potentially hurt a child’s health, according to new research.
Kindergartners and first-graders who watched even an hour of television a day were more likely to be overweight or obese, according to new research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego.
The research builds on existing studies that have shown a direct link between sedentary behavior and obesity for children and adults. 
Earlier studies have shown the more TV that people watch, the more likely they are to gain weight. 
Children who have televisions in their room are also more likely to be overweight or obese, research suggests. TV habits made early on can lead to a lifetime of weight problems.
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STUDY: US moms have children too close together in age

 For U.S. moms, the typical time between pregnancies is about 2 years but nearly a third of women space their children too close, a government study shows.
Experts say mothers should wait at least 18 months to give their body time to recover and increase the chances the next child is full-term and healthy.
The study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 30 percent of women who’d had a child became pregnant again within 18 months. 
“That is actually pretty high and very problematic,” said Heike Thiel de Bocanegra, a reproductive health researcher at the University of California, San Francisco. She was not involved in the new study.
The report is based on 2011 birth certificates from 36 states and the District of Columbia, representing about 83 percent of the nation’s births that year. It was the first such report by the CDC so researchers don’t know if pregnancy spacing has changed over time.
The study found:
-The median time to next pregnancy was 2 years, 5 months. About half fell in the 18 months to 5 year range. About 20 percent had babies more than 5 years apart.
-White women had the shortest spacing – about 2 years, 2 months on average. Black and Hispanic women typically waited 2 years or longer.
-The older the mom was, the longer the spacing between a birth and her next pregnancy.

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STUDY: Fetuses of smoking moms cover their faces when mom inhales

Researchers, analyzing 4-D ultrasound of women who smoked while pregnant, determined that fetuses move their mouths and cover their faces when their pregnant moms inhaled cigarettes.
Researchers from Durham and Lancaster Universities in the U.K. analyzed 80 high-definition ultrasound scans of 20 fetuses that were at 24 and 36 weeks of gestation into pregnancy.
Typically, fetuses do move their mouths and touch themselves, HuffPo notes, citing the study, but this movement tends to decline as birth approaches and the fetus gains more control over its motor functions.
“[Ideally], when we show mothers… these videos of fetuses showing increased movement, they will be more inclined to stop smoking,” the study’s lead author Dr. Nadja Reissland of England’s Durham University said in a video by the Press Association, a U.K. media organization. 
Dr. Reissland said she hopes these images will one day be used as educational tools to help expectant mothers make healthier choices.
Even though they know better, about 10 percent of expecting US moms still smoke while pregnant and they do so despite knowing the risks.

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Two Studies this week extol the virtue of exposing kids to germs

Two new studies were released this week that addressed those uber cautious new parents who go above and beyond to protect their babies from dirt, germs and potentially dangerous foods to the point they end up contributing to their children developing dangerous allergies. 
One study found that parents who give their children peanut products early in life can prevent them from becoming allergic to peanuts. The trial was done on 600 babies worldwide with high risk of developing a peanut allergy. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Currently, about 400,000 US children have peanut allergies, CNN  reports
A separate Swedish study published in the journal Pediatrics found that children who lived in homes where the dishes were washed by hand were less likely to develop allergic asthma or eczema compared to children living in homes with a machine dishwasher. Researchers surveyed over 1,000 families with children between the ages of 7 and 8,
Here too there is a suggestion that exposure to an array of microbes in early life helps a child develop a healthy immune system.
Both developments speak to the importance of not going overboard to shield babies and children from germs because parents may be doing them more harm than good. 

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