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STUDY: Pregnant Smoking Alters Baby’s genes

A new study concludes that smoking while pregnant actually alters the genes of the baby. The CounselHealth.com wrote:

Smoking during pregnancy could cause epigenetic changes in the fetus, causing birth defects and health problems later in life, a new study has found.

According to the study, newborn children of mothers who smoked while pregnant are more likely to have experienced certain changes to their DNA than newborn children of non-smokers.

Children exposed to tobacco smoke in utero have a higher risk of birth defects and are more likely to suffer from some medical problems than the children of women who did not smoke while pregnant, the press release further added.

The study also added that the difference between the children of smokers and the children of non-smokers continues into adulthood.

Researchers are yet to explain what causes these problems, but earlier studies have suggested that exposure to toxins in tobacco smoke could cause changes to the DNA of the developing fetus.

Researchers studied blood samples from 889 newborns of which 287 had mothers who reported smoking in the first trimester of pregnancy. The study found a link between maternal smoking and altered methylation in 110 gene regions.

The study has been published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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Study: Pregnancy loss linked to heart disease later

Miscarriages and stillbirths might be a marker for women at higher risk of developing heart disease later in life, an observational study suggested.
The study suggests that physicians should now include stillbirth or miscarriage on their list of items to ask about in screening for cardiovascular disease.
Coronary heart disease risk was 27% higher for women who had a history of stillbirth compared with none (multivariate adjusted odds ratio 1.27, 95% CI 1.07-1.51), Donna R. Parker, ScD, of Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in Pawtucket, and colleagues found.
That risk was a significant 18% to 19% elevated among women with one or two prior miscarriages compared with none in an analysis of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) observational cohort appearing in the July/August issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.
“Women with a history of one or more stillbirths or one or more miscarriages appear to be at increased risk of future cardiovascular disease and should be considered candidates for closer surveillance and/or early intervention,” they urged.
The American Heart Association guidelines already include pregnancy complications as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in women due to growing evidence for an association, but these don’t address long-term cardiovascular implications of pregnancy loss, the group pointed out.
Physicians should now include stillbirth or miscarriage on their list of items to ask about in screening for cardiovascular disease, argued Roxana Mehran, MD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, who was not involved in the study.
“This is so important because the prevalence of pregnancy loss is increasing as the [average] age of women who are becoming pregnant is increasing,” she told MedPage Today.
Women with a history of pregnancy loss perhaps should be screened earlier, agreed Mehran, the founding and immediate past chair of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions’ Women in Innovations program, working with ob/gyns to promote screening women for cardiovascular risk factors.
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Driving While Pregnant: 2nd Trimester pregnant women more likely to get in car crash, study says

So “Driving While Pregnant” is a thing.
New research published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that women who are in their second trimester of pregnancy are 42% more likely  to get involved in a serious multi-car crash. 
The data impacted all groups of pregnant second-trimester women across different socioeconomic and racial groups.
Researchers stopped short of recommending that pregnant women not drive but instead warned that they should be extra mindful of the risk while driving. 
“It amounts to about 1 in 50 statistical risk of the average women having a motor vehicle crash at some point during her pregnancy,” Donald Redelmeier of the University of Toronto said in a release. 
Read more about the findings HERE.

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Report: Substance abuse during pregnancy is on the rise

The prevalence of substance abuse during pregnancy is shocking, said Dr. Peter Lachiewicz, Western Ohio OB/GYN. Between 30 and 40 percent of pregnant Western Ohio OB/GYN patients are suspected of using drugs, tobacco and/or alcohol.
Tennessee is awaiting its governor’s signature on a bill (HB 1295) which recently passed through both sides of Tennessee’s Congress that will criminalize pregnant women for “assaultive offenses” if a child is born “addicted to or harmed by” the mother’s illegal drug use.
“A year ago, the Tennessee Senate, House and governor defeated the bill. So, it’s surprising that now this legislation was passed, despite 100 percent non-approval by physicians and the medical community,” Dr. Lachiewicz reflected. “I talked to a colleague of mine in Tennessee, these women will not seek prenatal care, and then just show up at the end. Or they’re going to tell a lot of lies. Or, like we see here [in Darke County], most drug testing we do through a urine – just like employers do random toxicology screens – just like here, they ‘can’t’ give a urine specimen.”
Dr. Lachiewicz estimated that 30-40 percent of the 250-350 births his practice performs each year are to patients who used some sort of drug during their pregnancy; and some women, he said, don’t even attempt to quit. Those who do wish to quit, do not have access to local resources, because there aren’t any, Lachiewicz noted.
“If you look at what’s out there – you don’t want to say everybody’s doing it, but if you have 30-40 percent of our pregnant moms using, that’s kind of concerning,” Dr. Lachiewicz commented. 
“The community leaders in Greenville and Darke County talk about ‘What are we going to do? How do we help these women? etc.’ The resources are just not there. So these women, even if they want to stop – and we just had one who made the decision to go to Columbus on her own – these women really tend to fall through the cracks. And others have no desire to stop.”
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CDC: First Baby after 40 Rate in US more than doubled; DC #1, NY #2

A new Centers for Disease Control survey released today shows that the rate of women waiting until their 40s to have their first child has more than doubled in some states, and has increased overall.
Washington, DC was number one on the list of statewide data of women having their first kid between the ages of 40 and 44 with New York second and Massachusetts third. 
The rate of women having their first child after 40 more than doubled from 1990 to 2012, the CDC said. And in 2012, there were more than 9 times as many first births to women 35 and older than 40 years ago.
The data was compiled from U.S. state birth certificates nationwide, taken from the Natality Data File of the National Vital Statistics System. The analysis includes data on all births occurring in the United States, including maternal and infant demographics, and health characteristics for babies born in the country.
There were differences in race as well with Asian American women showing the biggest increase in delayed first time pregnancy. 
The data shows Asian/Pacific Islanders’ rate of first birth in 2012 was almost double that of the next highest group.  
And Black women too have started waiting longer. Among those 40 to 44, increases in first birth rates rose 171 percent among blacks and 130 percent among whites.
A couple of things to realize about this information: 
1. The US population will decrease overall given that delayed pregnancy comes with some fertility complications for some which also means that women will usually have just one to two children when they start so  late. Depending on your world view that may be a good or bad thing. 
2. It also means that the children of those women may be better off given that women who wait until their 40s are usually more financially stable, educated,  mature and have more resources and support to provide a better life for their children, experts say.

Your thoughts?

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Study: White and Hispanic Women are happier during pregnancy; Black Women Not

 A new study suggests that Black women of all socioeconomic backgrounds are least likely to be happy about being pregnant, while White and Hispanic women are.  

Hamilton College economics professors Stephen Wu and Paul Hagstron analyzed Centers for Disease Control‘s Behaviorial Risk Factor Surveillance System data of more than 300,000 women between 2005 and 2009.  The survey asked participants if they were pregnant at the time and if so, if they were happy.
Both white and Hispanic women reported boosts in happiness during pregnancy, while the black women did not. This was the case for low, middle and upper income black women. 
 “Something about being a child of color, or having to raise a child of color, increases the risk” of not being as happy, director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality at Columbia University Alondra Nelson (who wasn’t involved in the study) told Time magazine.
Wu hypothesized the reason for the discrepancy may have to do with the fact that black women lack social and emotional support when pregnant. 
“Both white and Hispanic women reported enjoying more attention and help from their family and community while expecting, while black women actually reported receiving less support,” the Time piece noted.
The reason for the conclusion perhaps is that black women who were married and living with their spouse or partner at the time reported being more happier than those not. 
Finally, Nelson also pointed to “sociological data which suggest that black children, especially black males, are at higher risk than those of other races – of being victims of crime, of being incarcerated, of being discriminated, and of living potentially unhappy lives.”
She added, “that may be a reason to have a more tempered response to raising a black child in this environment.” 
Interesting. What are your thoughts?

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Study: More Fetal Deaths linked to Home Births

Earlier this month, actress Thandie Newton announced that she gave birth to her third child at home. She is among the growingnumber of women opting for home births in the United States in the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  
A recent study presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting on February 7 stated that patients delivered at home by midwives had a roughly four times higher risk of neonatal deaths than babies delivered in the hospital by midwives. The increased neonatal mortality risk is associated with the location of a planned birth, rather than the credentials of the person delivering the baby, the report noted.
Using CDC data of 14 million linked infant birth and neonatal death,  researchers at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center found the absolute risk of neonatal mortality was 3.2/10,000 births in midwife hospital births, and 12.6/10,000 births in midwife home births, and it further increased in first-time mothers to 21.9/10,000 births in midwife home deliveries. Neonatal mortality was defined as neonatal deaths up to 28 days after delivery.
“This risk further increased to about seven-fold if this was the mother’s first pregnancy, and to about ten-fold in pregnancies beyond 41 weeks,” said Amos Grunebaum, M.D.
Grunebaum and co-author Frank Chervenak, M.D. said that obstetric practitioners have an ethical obligation to disclose the increased absolute and relative risks associated with planned home birth to expectant parents who express an interest in this delivery setting, and to recommend strongly against it.
They suggest that hospitals make their policies more welcoming to mid-wives and create more comfortable birthing environments, to eliminate the need for “unnecessary obstetric interventions”, a release about the study stated. 
Interesting. What are your thoughts on this study and the authors suggestion which seemingly implies hospitals should do more to obviate the need for midwives who will assist in a home birth?

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Study: Eating junkfood during pregnancy risks pre-term birth

A new study on diet and pregnancy suggests that what you eat when you are expecting is as important as what you don’t.
Women who ate plenty of fruits and vegetables and who tried to drink water instead of soft drinks were less likely to have premature babies than women who ate more “Western” diets, a big study in Norway has shown.
It wasn’t that women who ate pizza, tacos and sweets were more likely than average to have premature babies, the researchers found. It was that healthier eating lowered the risk by about 15 percent.
Dr Linda Englund-Ögge of Sweden’s Sahlgrenska Academy and colleagues studied a big database of 66,000 Norwegian women who are taking part in a larger study. One of the things they did was fill out a food diary while pregnant.
Englund-Ogge’s team classified their diets into three broad types: a “prudent” diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and not too much junk food; a “traditional” Nordic diet with boiled potatoes, fish and gravy; and a more typical modern “Western” diet with processed white flour, sweets and snacks.
“Our results indicate that increasing the intake of foods associated with a prudent dietary pattern is more important than totally excluding processed food, fast food, junk food, and snacks,” they wrote in their report, published in the British Medical Journal.
It makes sense, says Dr. Walter Willett, a nutrition expert at the Harvard School of Public Health who was not involved in the study. “It does fit with what we have learned about diet and pregnancy,” he told NBC News.

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Report: Doctors cured a Second HIV Baby

A second baby born with the AIDS virus may have had her infection put into remission and possibly cured by very early treatment — in this instance, four hours after birth.
Doctors revealed the case Wednesday at an AIDS conference in Boston. The girl was born in suburban Los Angeles last April, a month after researchers announced the first case from Mississippi.
That case was a medical first that led doctors worldwide to rethink how fast and hard to treat infants born with HIV. The California doctors followed that example.
The Mississippi baby is now 3 1/2 and seems HIV-free despite no treatment for about two years. The Los Angeles baby is still getting AIDS medicines, so the status of her infection is not as clear.
A host of sophisticated tests at multiple times suggest the LA baby has completely cleared the virus, said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a Johns Hopkins University physician who led the testing. The baby’s signs are different from what doctors see in patients whose infections are merely suppressed by successful treatment, she said.
“We don’t know if the baby is in remission … but it looks like that,” said Dr. Yvonne Bryson, an infectious disease specialist at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA who consulted on the girl’s care.
Doctors are cautious about suggesting she has been cured, “but that’s obviously our hope,” Bryson said.
Most HIV-infected moms in the U.S. get AIDS medicines during pregnancy, which greatly cuts the chances they will pass the virus to their babies. The Mississippi baby’s mom received no prenatal care and her HIV was discovered during labor. So doctors knew that infant was at high risk and started her on treatment 30 hours after birth, even before tests could determine whether she was infected.
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Study: Couples with Fertility problems more likely to stay together if have baby, divorce if don’t

Couples who seek evaluation for infertility problems are more likely to stay together if they are ultimately able to have a child, a new Danish study suggests.
Researchers followed couples after they first sought assistance with fertility issues. Women who didn’t have a child over the next 12 years were up to three times more likely to get divorced or end the relationship compared to women who gave birth to a child during that follow-up period, the investigators found.
The study included more than 47,500 women in Denmark who were evaluated for infertility between 1990 and 2006. Among this group, 57 percent gave birth after fertility treatment.
The findings are published in the Jan. 29 online edition of the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, a journal of the Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“Our findings suggest that not having a child after fertility treatment may adversely affect the duration of a relationship for couples with fertility issues,” said study lead author Trille Kristina Kjaer, of the survivorship unit at the Danish Cancer Society Research Center in Copenhagen.
“Further investigations that account for marital quality and relational well-being of couples with fertility problems are now needed,” Kjaer noted in a journal news release.
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