Jul 20, 2009 | 9
Children whose mothers encountered a large amount of air pollution during pregnancy may end up with lower IQs, according to a study appearing in next month’s Pediatrics.
As part of ongoing research, workers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York have been following a group of children whose pregnant mothers carried air monitors with them in 2001. The study focused on women living in Harlem and the south Bronx, which have low-income areas often clogged with pollution from heavy car, truck and bus traffic. For this study, researchers tested 140 of the children when they were five years old and found a consistent disparity in IQs. Those who were exposed to high levels of air pollution in the womb (59 percent of the subjects) had IQ scores four to five points below those whose expecting mothers had breathed less polluted air, the authors report.
Apr 15, 2009 | 2
Hey would-be moms, eager to pick up the pace of your delivery? One piece of advice: don't lie down.
Researchers report in today's Cochrane Review that women who knelt, sat or walked around during the early stages of labor instead of lying in bed sliced as much as an hour off of the birthing process. The would-be moms were also less likely to need an epidural (a painkiller injected into the spine). The conclusions are based on an analysis of 21 studies involving 3,706 women.
Women in industrialized countries tend to lie in bed during labor, possibly because that position makes it easier for health-care workers to monitor the progression of labor as well as the baby's health, according to the review. But by lying down, a pregnant woman is putting the weight of her belly on blood vessels in the abdomen. That pressure may weaken the strength of her contractions, which could slow the dilation of her vagina and the descent of the baby through the birth canal, the authors write.
Mar 24, 2009
Drug regulators must make the morning-after pill available over the counter to girls as young as age 17, a federal judge in New York ruled yesterday, suggesting that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consider making the medication accessible to younger girls, as well.
U.S. District Judge Edward Korman said the FDA has 30 days to comply with his decision. He said that delays in approving the drug, Barr Pharmaceuticals’ Plan B, for non-prescription sale were “repeated and unreasonable,” and that the agency's decisions about the drug, including limiting it to women 18 and older, were “arbitrary and capricious.”
Feb 13, 2009 | 5
Wondering if your sweetheart is going to buy you a box of condoms instead of a box of chocolates for Valentine's Day? Maybe your lover's celebrating two holidays at once: February is also National Condom Month.
Yes, public health advocates chose the most romantic time of year to promote the condom, that ubiquitous rubber device that safe-sex folks love and most of us love to hate (including Seinfeld's George Costanza, as you'll see in this clip). Which isn’t to say it's not useful: 19 million new sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur in the U.S. each year, half of them among people ages 15-to-24, according to the American Social Health Association (ASHA). Latex condoms, used correctly, can prevent HIV transmission 80 percent to 95 percent of the time, according to a 2008 review in Sexual Health. They also reduce the risk of STDs, including gonorrhea, Chlamydia and trichomoniasis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, and are 85 percent to 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
Jan 14, 2009 | 5
Last spring, British researchers hit on what seemed like a startling finding: Eating lots of cereal before getting pregnant was associated with conceiving a son. Never mind that sex is determined by chromosomes in the father's sperm. The apparent link between gender and diet generated buzz.
But it turns out cereal may not be your lucky charm if you're hoping for a boy.
Today, another group of scientists is disputing that study, charging that its analysis was flawed and its conclusions due to chance. The researchers—from the National Institute of Statistical Sciences, Cornell University and New York Medical College—report their findings in today's Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the same journal that published the cereal study last April.
Dec 24, 2008 | 1
Pregnant women with vitamin D deficiencies are more likely than other expectant moms to deliver their babies via cesarean section.
"Women with a vitamin D deficiency were almost 4 times more likely to have a cesarean than those with [normal] vitamin D levels," says senior study author Anne Merewood, an assistant pediatrics professor at Boston University School of Medicine. "Vitamin D is definitely involved in muscle strength…. contractions of the uterus [which is made of smooth muscle] may not be performing as well as they could be," making it difficult for the woman to help push the baby out herself.
This research was actually part of a larger study (the findings of which are yet to be published) of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiencies among women of childbearing age. Merewood told ScientificAmerican.com that 156 (36 percent) of the 433 women in the larger study were found to be vitamin D deficient and 100 (23 percent) severely deficient. This translates into a potentially major public health problem, as vitamin D deficiency was recently linked to a number of chronic diseases, including cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Nov 4, 2008 | 1
Voters know a little bit more about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s health as they head to the polls today. According to a two-page letter released by her physician last night, Palin, 44, is in "excellent health and has no known health problems that would interfere with her ability to carry out the duties and obligations of vice president of the United States."
Until now, Americans knew next to nothing about Palin’s health, other than that she gave birth to five children, the youngest of whom was born with Down Syndrome in April. (People with Down Syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21, and have mental and sometimes physical deficits, including heart abnormalities.) According to Palin's doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, the births were the only time the veep wannabe has been hospitalized.
Oct 23, 2008
Pregnant women with symptoms of depression are twice as likely to deliver their babies early as those who don't show signs of sadness, new research shows.
The findings reflect two troubling trends: preterm delivery is the leading cause of infant illness and death in the U.S., and more than 40 percent of pregnant women report depressive symptoms, according to the study in today's Human Reproduction.
“It’s a severely under-diagnosed area frequently being dismissed just as having the blues of being pregnant,” says study author De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist in the division of research at Kaiser Permanente, a nationwide health insurer. “If just by controlling depression we can reduce preterm delivery, that will be very significant.”
Oct 15, 2008 | 3
The chance of a baby in the United States dying before its first birthday continues to get worse compared to that risk in other countries, new statistics show.
The U.S. now ranks 29th in the world for infant mortality, compared to its previous ranking of 27th eight years ago, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Back in 1960, the country stood at No. 12 for those deaths.
The new ranking is based on infant deaths in 2004, the most recent year data was available for 37 developed countries. Singapore ranked first, with 2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births; Romania was last, with 16.8 infant deaths per 1,000 births.
The actual rate of U.S. infant deaths in 2005 — 6.86 per 1,000 live births — was pretty much the same as it was in 2000, when it was 6.89 per 1,000. But for the first time since the 1950s, the rate has plateaued, just as the government is pushing to lower it to 4.5 infant deaths per 1,000 births by 2010.
Deadline: Aug 31 2013
Reward: $100,000 USD
The Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative (GBFAI) is launching the 2013 Geoffrey Beene Global NeuroDiscovery Challenge whose
Deadline: Jul 14 2013
Reward: $1,000,000 USD
This is a Reduction-to-Practice Challenge that requires written documentation and&
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