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Study: US Birth Rate Up, While Teen Birth Rate Down

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Women in the U.S. are having more babies — exactly 3,985,924 last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preliminary data show that birth rates in the U.S. were up by 1 percent last year from 2013. It’s the first increase in seven years.

But teenagers aren’t having as many babies. The birth rate in that group dropped by 9 percent in 2014 compared with 2013. For context, teen births have been on the decline since 1991.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics published the data Wednesday. The findings are based on nearly all births in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Among the findings in the report:

  • The birth rate for Asians rose 6 percent, and 1 percent, respectively, for whites, blacks and Hispanics. The rate of Native American births dropped by 2 percent.
  • The rate of unmarried women who gave birth declined by 1 percent.
  • Women in their 30s and 40s continue to have more children, fueling the rise in the birth rate last year.

One of the authors of the report, Brady Hamilton of the National Center for Health Statistics, says the increase in the number of births overall was somewhat of a surprise.

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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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STUDY: Colorado reports weed effects on kids whose mom’s smoked while pregnant

The state of Colorado released a comprehensive 188-page report today about the health effects of smoking marijuana which also included its impact on infants.
According to the study, marijuana usage by pregnant women is associated with negative effects on children including decreased academic ability, cognitive function and attention.
The report noted that the symptoms may not appear until the baby’s adolescence yet can be directly linked to his mom’s pot smoking.
Read more from the full report HERE!

h/t  9News

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Study: Napping helps babies retain knowledge

Taking naps after learning new information may help increase a baby’s memory, a new study suggests.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on tests of six- and 12-month-old babies to see how they retained memories, using a puppet with a removable mitten attached to a bell. Researchers repeated a sequence of actions using the contraption, several times, before the infants took naps of varying lengths.
Those who took naps that lasted longer than 30 minutes were more likely to remember how the device worked than babies who napped for only short periods after the lesson, the New York Times reported. Sleeping has long been tied to improving memory among humans. A recent study by researchers in Montreal found that children who get a good night’s sleep perform better in math and languages. So it makes sense that the benefits of sleep would also help infants.
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Photo credit: demandaj / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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Study: Men lose testosterone during partner’s pregnancy

It used to be that once a woman became pregnant, her husband’s job was basically done. Besides helping her through the pregnancy, as any proper man would, he remained the same physically, emotionally, and biologically. Now, we know things are a little different. Some research has shown men’s hormone levels change with the birth of a baby, but according to a new study from the University of Michigan, these changes may occur before the baby’s even born.
“Our findings suggest these changes may begin… during the transition to fatherhood,” said study author Dr. Robin Edelstein, from the university’s Department of Psychology, in a press release. The study was published in the American Journal of Human Biology.
Edelstein and her team conducted four tests on the saliva of 29 couples expecting their first babies. The tests took place throughout the pregnancy period, at 12, 20, 28, and 36 weeks. The team was specifically looking at levels of testosterone, cortisol (the stress hormone), estradiol (a form of estrogen), and progesterone (another female hormone). They found that as pregnancy progressed, all four hormone levels increased in women, however, in men, both cortisol and progesterone levels remained the same while estradiol and testosterone levels decreased.
“We don’t know yet exactly why men’s hormones are changing,” Edelstein said. “These changes could be a function of physiological changes that men experience as they prepare to become fathers, changes in their romantic relationships, or even physical changes that men experience along with their pregnant partners.”  

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