IQ destroying chemicals, and their abundance.

IQ destroying chemicals, and their abundance.

Brief video with citations, explaining the chemical assault that is overtaking our young and our future.

IQ erosion is probably not directly cumulative ( i.e. my arrival on the number 57, a drop in the 20 range is probably more realistic ), or it can even be worse (synergistic). No one really knows, as studies are primarily done on individual chemicals and not multiple different exposures.

If you have any further questions or clarification on any study mentioned, please feel free to inquire with me. – Ralph Turchiano

Many studies can be accessed through http://www.clinicalnews.org

* Due to the technical nature of the video, it will not be listed in creative commons. Continue reading “IQ destroying chemicals, and their abundance.”

Study examines acetaminophen use in pregnancy, child behavioral problems

Bottom Line: Children of women who used the pain reliever acetaminophen (paracetamol) during pregnancy appear to be at higher risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-like behavioral problems and hyperkinetic disorders (HKDs, a severe form of ADHD).

Open bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol and Ext...

Author: Zeyan Liew, M.P.H., of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues.

Background: Acetaminophen is the most commonly used medication for pain and fever during pregnancy. But some recent studies have suggested that acetaminophen has effects on sex and other hormones, which can in turn affect neurodevelopment and cause behavioral dysfunction. Continue reading “Study examines acetaminophen use in pregnancy, child behavioral problems”

Pregnant nurse, 29, is FIRED after she refuses to have flu shot to protect her unborn child

  • Dreonna Breton from Pennsylvania, became alarmed after the packaging for a number of major brands of the flu vaccine warned it ‘should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed
  • She showed no symptoms of having the flu and has suffered two miscarriages in four pregnancies so rejected the vaccine
  • But because the shot is compulsory for all staff at her workplace, Horizon Healthcare Services, was told to leave
  • It’s common for hospitals to enforce mandatory flu shots in an effort to prevent  staff spreading the bug to patients but they often allow exemptions for religious or medical reasons

By Helen Pow

PUBLISHED:    19:20 EST, 22 December 2013

 

A pregnant nurse in Pennsylvania has been fired after she refused a mandatory flu shot to protect her unborn baby.

Dreonna Breton, 29, learned she was pregnant with her second child in October, a month before all staff at her Lancaster employer, Horizon Healthcare Services, were required to have had a compulsory flu shot.

But she became alarmed after the packaging for a number of major brands of the vaccine warned it ‘should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed,’ and other notifications highlighted that it’s unclear whether the shot can harm an unborn child.

She showed no symptoms of having the flu and having suffered two miscarriages since her son, Westen, was born 18 months ago, she didn’t want to take the chance so rejected the vaccine. But she was subsequently told to leave.

Fired: Dreonna Breton, pictured with her son Westen, was fired after she refused a mandatory flu shot to protect her unborn baby 

Fired: Dreonna Breton, pictured with her son Westen, was fired after she refused a mandatory flu shot to protect her unborn baby Continue reading “Pregnant nurse, 29, is FIRED after she refuses to have flu shot to protect her unborn child”

Pregnant woman has unborn baby girl forcibly removed by caesarean after social workers obtain court order because she had suffered a mental breakdown

  • Italian woman claims she was not warned  she would be given a ceasarean
  • Essex council obtained order allowing  them to  sedate her against her will
  • The case has now escalated into an  international legal row

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 19:39 EST, 30  November 2013 |  UPDATED: 21:45 EST, 30 November 2013

The Italian woman, who was in Britain for work, claims she had not even been warned that she would be given a ceasarean.  

The Italian woman, who was in Britain for work, claims  she had not even been warned that she would be given a ceasarean

 

Social services forcibly removed a pregnant  woman’s unborn baby by caesarean section and put it up for adoption after  obtaining a high court order on the grounds the mother had suffered a mental  breakdown.

Essex council obtained an order allowing them  to sedate the woman against her will before taking her daughter and placing it  into care.

The Italian woman, who was in Britain on a  work training course, claims she had not even been warned that she would be  given a caesarean. It is not believed a natural birth would have posed a risk to  her or the child’s health.

Social workers argue they were acting  in the  best interests of the baby, who is now 15 months old, and are refusing to hand  her back to the mother despite claims that she has made a  complete recovery,  The Sunday Telegraph reports.

Brendan Fleming, the woman’s British lawyer,  told the newspaper: ‘I have never heard of anything like this in all my 40 years  in the job.

‘I can understand if someone is very ill that  they may not be able to  consent to a medical procedure, but a forced caesarean  is unprecedented.

Continue reading “Pregnant woman has unborn baby girl forcibly removed by caesarean after social workers obtain court order because she had suffered a mental breakdown”

Woman has child taken from her womb by social services

Exclusive: Essex social services have obtained a court order against a woman   that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and for her child to be taken from   her womb by caesarean section

The case has developed into an international legal row, with lawyers for the woman describing it as “unprecedented”

The case has developed into an international legal row, with lawyers for the woman describing it as “unprecedented” Photo: ALAMY

8:58PM GMT 30 Nov 2013

A pregnant woman has had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section by   social workers.

Essex social services obtained a High Court order against the woman that   allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb.

The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman, an Italian   who was in Britain on a work trip, because she had suffered a mental   breakdown.

The baby girl, now 15 months old, is still in the care of social services, who   are refusing to give her back to the mother, even though she claims to have   made a full recovery.

Continue reading “Woman has child taken from her womb by social services”

Diets of Pregnant Women Contain Harmful, Hidden Toxins ( like Tap Water )

UC Riverside study suggests that prenatal health care professionals do more to advise patients to avoid tap water, certain types of fish, caffeine, and canned goods that may put developing babies at risk

By on August 6, 2013

 

Foodstuffs

A UCR study finds that amid healthy foods consumed by pregnant women are others that contain hidden toxins.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Pregnant women regularly consume food and beverages containing toxins believed to pose potential risks to developing fetuses, according to researchers at  the University of California, Riverside, suggesting that health care providers must do more to counsel their patients about the dangers of hidden toxins in the food supply.

In a peer-reviewed study published in the July issue of Nutrition Journal — “Consumption habits of pregnant women and implications for developmental biology: a survey of predominantly Hispanic women in California” — a team of psychologists from UC Riverside and UC San Diego found that the diets of pregnant Hispanic women included tuna, salmon, canned foods, tap water, caffeine, alcohol and over-the-counter medications that contain substances known to cause birth defects.

The study is unique in that it highlights the unseen dangers of consuming toxins in food and beverages that are not typically thought of as unhealthy for a fetus, said Sarah Santiago, a Ph.D. student in psychology at UCR. It also contributes to the body of literature aimed at assessing dietary habits of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic pregnant women.

“Unlike alcohol and nicotine, which carry a certain stigma along with surgeon general warnings on the packaging, tuna, canned foods, caffeine, and a handful of other foods and beverages with associated developmental effects are not typically thought of as unsafe,” Santiago explained. “Hopefully, this study will encourage health care providers to keep pregnant women well informed as to the possible dangers of unhealthy consumption habits.”

The research team — Kelly Huffman, assistant professor of psychology at UC Riverside and the paper’s senior author; Santiago; and UCSD undergraduate student Grace Park — surveyed 200 pregnant or recently pregnant women at a private medical group in Downey, Calif., between December 2011 and December 2012. The women ranged in age from 18 to about 40, with Hispanic women accounting for 87 percent of the group. Nearly all had a high school degree, and about one-fourth had a college or post-graduate degree. More than two-thirds had an annual income of $50,000 or less.

Using a food questionnaire, participants reported how often and when during their pregnancy they ate certain foods, drank certain beverages, and ingested prescription and over-the-counter medications. Nearly all of the women reported eating meat while pregnant, with about three-quarters of them eating fish, typically tuna, tilapia and salmon. All reported eating fresh fruit, but fewer than one-third ate the recommended amount of more than one serving a day. Three-fourths ate canned goods, particularly fruits, vegetables and soup. Most reported drinking water, with 12 percent consuming tap water. Eighty percent consumed caffeinated beverages, and about 6 percent reported drinking alcohol sometime during their pregnancy. Most reported taking prenatal vitamins. Nearly half reported taking an over-the-counter medication — primarily acetaminophen — at least once and most reported taking prescription medications at least once.

The results are concerning, the researchers said.

“Consumption of tuna, salmon, canned goods, sugary desserts, fast foods, and drinking of tap water, caffeinated  beverages, and alcoholic beverages during pregnancy have been deemed unhealthy due to the appearance of environmental toxins found to have harmful effects in the developing offspring,” the researchers wrote.

Tuna contains methylmercury, and prenatal exposure has been associated with numerous developmental deficits involving attention, verbal learning, motor function and delayed performance. “Staggering” levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been found in farmed salmon. Prenatal exposure to PCBs has been linked to lower birth weights, smaller head circumferences, and abnormal reflex abilities in newborns and to mental impairment in older children. Metal food cans are lined with a plastic that contains Bisphenol A (BPA), which leaches from the lining in cans into the food. Prenatal exposure to BPA has been associated in animal studies with hyperactivity, aggression and reproductive problems.

“This study has found that income is inversely correlated with canned food consumption, suggesting that women of low socio-economic status in particular may be especially at risk,” the UC Riverside psychologists found.

Tap water also contains prenatal toxins. In Downey, eight pollutants found in drinking water exceed the health guidelines set by federal and state agencies. Some of those contaminants are known to result in central nervous system defects, oral cleft defects, neural tube defects, low birth weight and risk of fetal death, the researchers said. Pregnant women should be encouraged to drink filtered or bottled water in areas where contamination levels are high, they advised.

Also problematic was the level of caffeine consumption, the research team found. Caffeine consumed during pregnancy is associated with fetal mortality, birth defects and decreased birth weights. Animal studies have found developmental delays, abnormal neuromotor activity, and neurochemical disruptions.

A handful of women in the study — 5.8 percent — reported drinking alcohol at some time during their pregnancy, less than the national estimate of 7.6 percent. Maternal drinking rates are highest among white women ages 35 to 44.

“We do not know whether this is something unique to Hispanic women, or ubiquitous among women of multiple ethnicities,” the researchers wrote. “The implications of this research are twofold:  Women of childbearing age hoping to conceive should be advised to eliminate all alcohol consumption, as effects of maternal drinking have dire consequences in the first trimester when the mother may not know she is pregnant. … It is also clear that prenatal medical professionals should discourage the consumption of dangerous foods, beverages and medications that women commonly report consuming during pregnancy.”

Not enough research has been conducted on certain substances to merit fail-proof labels of teratogenicity — that is, whether a substance causes developmental malformations. “Because regulation of prenatal consumption demands a very high level of evidence of teratogenicity, little-researched substances often go unregulated and health care professionals assume they are healthy,” Santiago explained. “The problem could also lie in reduced access to health care, or time constraints in prenatal consultations. Perhaps health care providers are informed, but fail to pass the information on to their clients for lack of time or because they assume the clients are already informed.”

Teratogenic substances often have subtle, though serious, effects that manifest later in development. “Research suggesting that a given substance does not cause physical abnormalities at birth may be misinterpreted as a green light for consumption — a grave mistake, considering that other research may exist demonstrating the long-term neural or behavioral abnormalities that result from consuming that substance during pregnancy,” Santiago added.

The research team continues to collect data on beliefs and attitudes about consumption of these substances during pregnancy in a search for clues as to why women continue to eat these substances, and where in the system interventions would be most appropriate.

BofA: Bank of America or Bank of Abortion?

 

 

By ELIZABETH WARMERDAM

 

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – A Bank of America branch manager told a pregnant teller she could “have an abortion” or “give the baby up for adoption,” then fired her two months before her due date, the woman claims in court.

Melania Soto sued Bank of America in Alameda County Court for pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination.

Soto claims she worked as a teller for six years, getting regular raises and promotions, until she told her branch manager, Phyllis Baker, that she was pregnant.

Baker is not a party to the lawsuit; the only defendants are the bank, and Does 1-20.

“Plaintiff had feared informing Baker because Baker had always made it clear to plaintiff that Baker disproved of branch employees becoming pregnant by engaging in conduct including, but not limited to, the following:

“Telling plaintiff that Baker did not like pregnant nor older workers because they are ‘slow’;

“Terminating at least two other pregnant employees during plaintiff’s employment with her, shortly after becoming aware of their pregnancies; and

“Commenting in a derogatory manner about another pregnant employee, stating that Baker would not have hired that employee had Baker known she was pregnant at the time.

“Plaintiff’s fears were well-founded when immediately after plaintiff informed

Baker of her pregnancy, Baker responded that plaintiff could ‘have an abortion’ or ‘give the baby up for adoption,'” Soto says in the complaint.

Then Baker and assistant manager Nichol Meshack began to harass Soto by not letting other employees help her lift heavy items, publicly calling her work restrictions on lifting heavy objects “ridiculous,” and repeatedly reprimanding her without justification, according to the complaint.

The harassed her by “taking seating stools away from plaintiff and forcing her to stand during her shifts, even though they had allowed her to sit on stool before her pregnancy,” and denying her bereavement time when close friends died on two occasions, she says in the lawsuit.

About seven months into her pregnancy, the bank’s Corporate Security Department told her she was required to maintain sufficient funds in her personal bank account – the first time she had ever heard of such a policy, Soto says.

Three days later, “two months before plaintiff was due to give birth and weeks before she was supposed to go on maternity leave, she was abruptly informed by Baker that she was being terminated,” Soto says in the complaint.

“Plaintiff asked Baker if she was being terminated because of the insufficient funds in her personal account a few days earlier, and Baker responded, ‘I guess so,'” Soto says.

Soto claims she never was given a specific reason for being fired, other than a formal notice of termination that said she had failed to follow policy and procedure and that Bank of America had lost trust in her as a bank associate.

Soto seeks punitive damages on 14 counts, including pregnancy discrimination, wrongful termination, California Family Rights Acts interference, retaliation, negligent training, and labor violations.

She is represented by Cary Kletter of San Mateo.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/07/25/59676.htm

How the cost of giving birth in the U.S. has TRIPLED since 1996 to $9,775 – thanks to expensive fees for everything from an epidural to placenta removal

  • The average cost of a hospital delivery  in America is $9,775, the highest in the world
  • In France, delivery costs $3,541, and in  the UK it is just $2,641
  • Many industrialized countries offer flat  fees for prenatal care and delivery, but in America, there is a separate charge  for everything from a blood test to removing the  placenta

By  Margot Peppers

PUBLISHED: 14:53 EST, 1 July  2013 |  UPDATED: 14:53  EST, 1 July 2013

The cost of a hospital delivery in America  has tripled since 1996, averaging out at $9,775 for a vaginal delivery – the  highest cost of any country in the world, according to a new  analysis.

A report by Truven Health Analytics for the  New York Times found that the average total price for pregnancy as well as newborn care is  about $30,000 for vaginal delivery, and $50,000 for a C-section, with insurers  paying out an average of $18,329 and $27,866 respectively.

What’s more, America is uniquely expensive  when it comes to childbirth; in other developed countries, delivery is often  cheap or even free, and post-birth care is significantly more extensive.

Pregnancy 

The price of pregnancy: The cost of giving birth in a  hospital in America has tripled since 1996, averaging at $9,775 – the highest  cost of any industrialized country in the world

Even insured women in the U.S. pay  out-of-pocket costs of $3,400 on average, compared to little or nothing 20 years  ago.

The difference in the cost of pregnancy and  delivery between the U.S. and other industrialized countries is  staggering.

In America, the average cost of a C-section  delivery is $15,041, compared to $6,441 in France and just $4,435 in the United  Kingdom.

And while pregnancy and childbirth is less  expensive in other countries, that’s not to say it is any less  comprehensive.

Indeed, in Ireland, where women receive the  same amount of high-tech maternity care as Americans, delivery is free at public  hospitals. Women here can also opt to pay a fee for private  deliveries.

 

In the U.S., insurance is supposed to cover  childbirth, but the report found that 62per cent of women covered by private  plans did not have coverage for prenatal costs.

One issue, says Gerard Anderson, an economist  at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, is that Americans ‘pay  individually for each service and pay more for the services we  receive’.

In other countries, like Denmark, for  instance, women are often charged a single fee for all the services  provided  during childbirth – from blood tests to an epidural.

‘If a woman wants acupuncture, an epidural or  birth in water,  that’s what she’ll get,’ said Charlotte Overgaard, an assistant  professor at Aalborg University in Denmark.

‘In Denmark, if a  woman wants acupuncture, an epidural or birth in water, that’s what she’ll  get’

But in the U.S., there is a separate fee for  everything from an ultrasound to an  epidural to an extra night in a private hospital room.

Indeed, one woman told the New York Times  that she ‘decided to be more assertive about holding down costs’ when becoming  pregnant with her second child.

She only had one ultrasound, kept a list of  all the medications she received, received no anesthesia and had a midwife  deliver her baby. But when the bill came, it was still over $6,000.

‘Even removing the placenta can be coded as a  separate charge,’ notes the New York Times.

And paying higher hospital fees does not  ensure better health care; a recent Save the Children report found that America  has one of the highest rates  of birth and infant death in the  world.

Cost of normal delivery 

Separate charges: In America, services like an epidural,  an ultrasound, a blood test, and even placenta removal cost a fee. Many other  countries instead charge a flat fee for prenatal care and birth

C-section costProblems: The factors that contribute to America’s  higher cost are excessive testing and ultrasounds, overly ‘medicalized’  deliveries and a tendency not to use midwives

 

Post-birth care for mothers also pales in  comparison to other countries like France, where women  often remain in hospital  for several days after birth, recovering and  learning how to  breastfeed.

In America, however, they are discharged  after one or two days, since most insurance only covers that which is considered  medically necessary.

Another factor that makes delivery less  expensive in other countries is the frequency of midwives, who are used by only  eight per cent of Americans.

By contrast, 68per cent of births in Britain  and 45per cent of births in  the Netherlands are attended by a midwife, who  perform simple deliveries, do most of the prenatal examinations, and, according  to the New  York Times, can charge less than $325 for an 11-hour  delivery.

‘Making women choose  whether they want to pay $1,000 for an epiduraldidn’t seem right’

Americans also tend to have a preference for  ‘medicalized’ deliveries involving IVs, anesthesia, and more ultrasounds than  may be necessary, all of which add up.

What’s more, more than 30per cent of American  women have C-sections or drug-induced labor – a far higher percentage than other  developed countries.

This frequency of C-sections is also ‘far  above rates that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists considers necessary’.

 

Some hospitals are trying to combat high  costs by introducing all-inclusive flat rates for pregnancy, much like those in  other developed countries.

At Maricopa Medical Center, for example, a  public hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr Dean Coonrod charges uninsured patients  a flat fee of $3,850 for vaginal delivery with or without an epidural, and  $5,600 for a planned C-section.

‘Making women choose during labor whether you  want to pay $1,000 for an epidural, that didn’t seem right,’ said Dr  Coonrod.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2352687/How-cost-giving-birth-U-S-TRIPLED-1996-9-775–thanks-expensive-fees-epidural-placenta-removal.html#ixzz2XrLGHsTz Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

158th Health Research Report Synopsis 28 JUN 2013

Posted at www.healthresearchreport.me 

VH Stores Alt Emblem

Health Research Report

158th Issue Date 28 JUN 2013

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm

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www.healthresearchreport.me 

In this Issue:

  1. Dietary supplement linked to increased muscle mass in the elderly
  2. Vitamin D supplementation may delay precocious puberty in girls
  3. Artificial Sweetener a Potential Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
  4. Iodine in bread not enough for pregnant women
  5. Herbal extract boosts fruit fly lifespan by nearly 25 percent, UCI study finds
  6. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Take Prescription Drugs, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center Find
  7. Study shows probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 significantly increased vitamin D levels
  8. Dietary fructose causes liver damage in animal model, study finds
  9. Daily iron during pregnancy linked to improved birth weight
  10. Vitamin D reduces blood pressure and relieves depression in women with diabetes
  11. UT study: Chemical in antibacterial soaps may harm nursing babies

Flame retardants may be toxic to children

Contact: Debbie Jacobson djacobson@aap.org 847-434-7084 American Academy of Pediatrics

Lower intelligence, hyperactivity seen in children whose mothers were exposed to the chemicals during pregnancy

WASHINGTON, DC – Chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been used for decades to reduce fires in everyday products such as baby strollers, carpeting and electronics. A new study to be presented on Monday, May 6, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting shows that prenatal exposure to the flame retardants is associated with lower intelligence and hyperactivity in early childhood.

“In animal studies, PBDEs can disrupt thyroid hormone and cause hyperactivity and learning problems,” said lead author Aimin Chen, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “Our study adds to several other human studies to highlight the need to reduce exposure to PBDEs in pregnant women.”

Dr. Chen and his colleagues collected blood samples from 309 pregnant women enrolled in a study at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to measure PBDE levels. They also performed intelligence and behavior tests on the women’s children annually until they were 5 years old.

“We found maternal exposure to PBDEs, a group of brominated flame retardants mostly withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004, was associated with deficits in child cognition at age 5 years and hyperactivity at ages 2-5 years,” Dr. Chen said. A 10-fold increase in maternal PBDEs was associated with about a 4 point IQ deficit in 5-year-old children.

Even though PBDEs, except Deca-BDEs, are not used as a flame retardant in the United States anymore, they are found on many consumer products bought several years ago. In addition, the chemicals are not easily biodegradable, so they remain in human tissues and are transferred to the developing fetus.

“Because PBDEs exist in the home and office environment as they are contained in old furniture, carpet pads, foams and electronics, the study raises further concern about their toxicity in developing children,” Dr. Chen concluded.

###

To view the abstract, “Cognitive Deficits and Behavior Problems in Children with Prenatal PBDE Exposure,” go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS13L1_3550.8.

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations that co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting – the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all share a common mission of fostering the health and well-being of children worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc.

Mild iodine deficiency in womb associated with lower scores on children’s literacy tests

Contact: Jenni Glenn Gingery jgingery@endo-society.org 301-941-0240 The Endocrine Society

Changes in mother’s diet, supplements may prevent long-term neurological impairment

Chevy Chase, MD––Children who did not receive enough iodine in the womb performed worse on literacy tests as 9-year-olds than their peers, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Iodine is absorbed from food and plays a key role in brain development. Even mild deficiency during pregnancy can harm the baby’s neurological development.

“Our research found children may continue to experience the effects of insufficient iodine for years after birth,” said the study’s lead author, Kristen L. Hynes, PhD, of the Menzies Research Institute at the University of Tasmania in Australia. “Although the participants’ diet was fortified with iodine during childhood, later supplementation was not enough to reverse the impact of the deficiency during the mother’s pregnancy.”

The longitudinal study examined standardized test scores of 228 children whose mothers attended The Royal Hobart Hospital’s antenatal clinics in Tasmania between 1999 and 2001. The children were born during a period of mild iodine deficiency in the population. Conditions were reversed when bread manufacturers began using iodized salt in October 2001 as part of a voluntary iodine fortification program.

The study found inadequate iodine exposure during pregnancy was associated with lasting effects. As 9-year-olds, the children who received insufficient iodine in the womb had lower scores on standardized literacy tests, particularly in spelling. However, inadequate iodine exposure was not associated with lower scores on math tests. Researchers theorize iodine deficiency may take more of a toll on the development of auditory pathways and, consequently, auditory working memory and so had more of an impact on students’ spelling ability than their mathematical reasoning ability.

“Fortunately, iodine deficiency during pregnancy and the resulting neurological impact is preventable,” Hynes said. “Pregnant women should follow public health guidelines and take daily dietary supplements containing iodine. Public health supplementation programs also can play a key role in monitoring how much iodine the population is receiving and acting to ensure at-risk groups receive enough iodine in the diet.”

###

The Endocrine Society’s clinical practice guidelines on managing thyroid dysfunction during pregnancy and postpartum, including iodine supplementation, are available at http://www.endo-society.org/guidelines/upload/Thyroid-Exec-Summ.pdf.

Other researchers working on the study include: P. Otahal, I. Hay and J. Burgess of the University of Tasmania.

The article, “Mild Iodine Deficiency During Pregnancy is Associated with Reduced Educational Outcomes in the Offspring: 9-Year Follow-Up of the Gestational Iodine Cohort,” appears in the May 2013 issue of JCEM.

Founded in 1916, The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology.  Today, The Endocrine Society’s membership consists of over 16,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 100 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at http://www.endo-society.org. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/EndoMedia.

Meds taken during pregnancy increase risk of Autism

 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Women who take valproate (Depacon) during pregnancy may increase the risk of childhood autism and its spectrum disorders in their children, a population-based study showed.

In utero exposure to the drug was associated with a five-fold elevated risk of autism and three-fold elevated risk for autism spectrum disorder, Jakob Christensen, PhD, of Denmark’s Aarhus University Hospital, and colleagues found.

The absolute risks were 2.5% and 4.4%, respectively, and remained significantly elevated after adjustment for parents’ epilepsy and psychiatric disease, the group reported in the April 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“For women of childbearing potential who use anti-epileptic medications, these findings must be balanced against the treatment benefits for women who require valproate for epilepsy control,” they concluded.

But “because autism spectrum disorders are serious conditions with lifelong implications for affected children and their families, even a moderate increase in risk may have major health importance,” they added.

The American Academy of Neurology recommends avoiding valproate in pregnancy whenever possible due to cognitive and physical birth defect problems for children exposed in utero.

 

http://macedoniaonline.eu/content/view/23192/54/

Folic acid lowers risk of autism

Women who take a vitamin B9 supplement (folic acid) during the beginning weeks of their pregnancy can cut the risk of having a child with autism in half. But the supplement has no effect if it is started more than 8 weeks into the pregnancy.

These findings are the result of a new study carried out at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. In the study, women who took folic acid supplements from four weeks before conception to eight weeks into pregnancy had a 40 per cent lower risk of giving birth to children with childhood autism (classic autism).

Photo: Torunn Gjerustad, FHI Pål Surén, MD and doctoral fellow at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.  (Photo: Torunn Gjerustad, FHI)  “It appears that the crucial time interval is from four weeks before conception to eight weeks into pregnancy,” states Pål Surén, MD and doctoral fellow at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

The study is based on the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) and the Norway Autism Birth Cohort Study (ABC). It covered a total of 85 176 children born in the period 2002–2008.

Inexpensive, simple prevention

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is essential for the construction and repair of DNA molecules, which control all body cells. Folate is the naturally occurring form of folic acid found in food and in the body.

Most pregnant women need folic acid supplements to reach the daily recommended levels. The Norwegian Directorate of Health recommends that women who are planning to become pregnant start to take folic acid supplements one month before conception and during the first three months of pregnancy.

The results of the study of the correlation between intake of folic acid supplements and childhood autism indicate that the lower risk is only associated with this specific supplement and not with the consumption of food or other supplements.

“Thus, the findings show that a measure already used here in Norway, one which is simple, inexpensive and without any known side effects among pregnant women, can prevent autism. Previous studies we have carried out have shown that folic acid may have a similar effect on other developmental disorders as well,” Dr Surén says.

Illustrative photo: Shutterstock Pregnant women who take folic acid early in their pregnancy can lower the risk of giving birth to a child with autism.  (Illustrative photo: Shutterstock)  Important in other areas as well

The Directorate of Health’s recommendations regarding pre-natal folic acid supplements are based on research that shows that the vitamin protects the foetus against spina bifida and other neural tube defects.

The researchers have also found a correlation between folic acid supplements and the reduced risk of severe language delay by the age of three. Such language problems are common in connection with autism but may also occur with many other conditions.

“It will be a tremendous breakthrough if it turns out that folic acid also prevents other developmental disorders,” Dr Surén believes.

Some more vulnerable than others?

Dr Surén and his colleagues will conduct new analyses when the children involved in the study are older, among other things to examine whether there is any correlation between folic acid and a reduced risk of other developmental disorders such as ADHD and cerebral palsy. They will also carry out genetics studies.

“We know that there is a genetic component to the body’s ability to use folate, so it is possible that some mothers are more prone to folic acid deficiency than others,” Dr Surén adds.

The study was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa)
The mothers participating in the MoBa Study have provided detailed information about their eating habits and use of dietary supplements early in their pregnancy. Children with autism diagnoses involved in the study were identified using questionnaires, through referrals from parents and the National Health Service and through the Norwegian Patient Registry.

The Research Council of Norway’s national initiative on neuroscientific research (NevroNor) provided funding for the use of the data from the Norwegian Patient Registry (NPR). The research activity carried out in connection with the ABC Study was also primarily funded under various programmes at the Research Council

Vanderbilt study finds maternal diet important predictor of severity for infant RSV: carbohydrate-rich diets

Contact: Craig Boerner              craig.boerner@vanderbilt.edu 615-322-4747 Vanderbilt University Medical Center

An important predictor of the severity of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in infants may be what their mothers ate during pregnancy, according to a Vanderbilt study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

RSV is the most common cause of severe lower respiratory tract disease among infants and young children worldwide. Currently there is no effective vaccine against RSV. Outbreaks occur in communities each year, usually lasting 4-5 months during the fall, winter and/or spring months.

Lead author Fernando Polack, M.D., Cesar Milstein Professor of Pediatrics, said his study found that the most serious cases of RSV correlate with mothers who ate a diet high in carbohydrates during pregnancy.

“These cases were not just severe, but the sickest of sick,” Polack said. “What we found was the presumptive impact of a carbohydrate-rich diet was clearly dose dependent.”

More than 1,200 infants younger than 2 years old were hospitalized in 12 institutions in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the 2011 RSV season.

Of those patients, nearly 800 were found to have RSV infection, and 106 of those babies were considered to have a life-threatening form of the disease, with oxygen saturation rates below 87 percent: Twenty-two infants died in the hospital, and an additional 26 infants died at home with evidence suggesting they died from RSV.

Polack and his collaborators had the mothers fill out a nutrition survey during their final trimester of pregnancy in order to examine the impact of maternal diets heavy in fruits and vegetables versus protein, fats or carbohydrate-rich diets.

Overall, the frequency of life-threatening or fatal RSV in infants was about 12.7 percent among participants, but that rate jumped to 55.6 percent for babies whose mothers ate the greatest proportion of carbohydrates.

“Our study suggests that, where RSV and other respiratory viruses are concerned, the more sugars a mother eats the worse the situation may get for the baby in the first part of life,” said Polack, adding that the next step will be to confirm the association in future studies.

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Polack’s work is part of a large study conducted on RSV in developing countries, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Is There a Link Between Coffee Drinking and Mortality?

Contact: Vicki Cohn, (914) 740-2156, vcohn@liebertpub.com

New Rochelle, NY, February 19, 2013–A large study of nearly half a million older adults followed for about 12 years revealed a clear trend: as coffee drinking increased, the risk of death decreased. Study author Neal Freedman, PhD, MPH, National Cancer Institute, discusses the significance of these findings and the potential links between coffee drinking, caffeine consumption, and various specific causes of disease in an interview in Journal of Caffeine Research, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available on the Journal of Caffeine Research website.

Epidemiology of Caffeine Consumption and Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-specific Mortality” presents an in-depth interview exploring the many factors that could contribute to the association between coffee, disease, and mortality.

Dr. Freedman examines the relationship between coffee drinking and behaviors such as smoking and alcohol abuse, the physiological effects of caffeine on blood pressure and cardiac function, and the importance of differentiating between the effects of coffee and caffeine.

“Given the near-universal daily consumption of caffeine, Dr. Freedman‘s research underscores the urgent need for randomized controlled trials to identify which components of coffee and other caffeine beverages benefit or harm consumers, under what circumstances, and in relation to which health outcomes,” says Jack E. James, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Caffeine Research.

 

About the Journal Journal of Caffeine Research: The International Multidisciplinary Journal of Caffeine Science is a quarterly journal published in print and online that covers the effects of caffeine on a wide range of diseases and conditions, including mood disorders, neurological disorders, cognitive performance, cardiovascular disease, and sports performance. The Journal explores all aspects of caffeine science including the biochemistry of caffeine; its actions on the human body; benefits, dangers, and contraindications; and caffeine addiction and withdrawal, across all stages of the human life span from prenatal exposure to end-of-life. Complete tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed on the Journal of Caffeine Research website.

About the Publisher Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Breastfeeding Medicine, Journal of Medicinal Food, and Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 70 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website.

Caffeine linked to low birth weight babies

Contact: Dr. Hilary Glover hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com 44-020-319-22370 BioMed Central

Maternal nutrition is important to a developing embryo and to the health of the child later in life. Supplementing the diet with specific vitamins is known to increase health of the foetus for example folic acid (vitamin B9) reduces the risk of spina bifida. However not everything an adult might consume is beneficial to a developing baby. New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine shows that caffeine is linked to low birth weight babies and that caffeine from coffee in linked to increasing length of pregnancy.

Along with nutrients and oxygen, caffeine feely passes the placental barrier, but the developing embryo does not express the enzymes required to inactivate it efficiently. The WHO currently suggests a limit of 300mg per day during pregnancy but some countries recommend a limit of 200mg, which can be less than a single cup of coffee from some high street cafes.

To investigate the impact of maternal caffeine during pregnancy on babies, a research team from  the Norwegian Institute for Public Health used information about mother’s diet and birth details collected over ten years. After excluding women with medical and pregnancy-related conditions almost 60,000 pregnancies were included in the study. All sources of caffeine were monitored in the study: coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, as well as food including cocoa-containing cakes and deserts and chocolate.

Explaining their results, Dr Verena Sengpiel, from Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden, who led the project said, “Although caffeine consumption is strongly correlated with smoking which is known to increase the risk for both preterm delivery and the baby being small for gestational age at birth (SGA). In this study we found no association between either total caffeine or coffee caffeine and preterm delivery but we did find an association between caffeine and SGA. This association remained even when we looked only at non-smoking mothers which implies that the caffeine itself is also having an effect on birth weight.”

In fact they found that caffeine from all sources reduced birth weight. For a child of expected average weight (3.6kg) this equates to 21-28g lost per 100mg caffeine per day. But it was not just caffeine, but the source of caffeine, which affected pregnancy outcomes. Caffeine from all sources increased the length of the pregnancy by 5hr per 100mg caffeine per day, but caffeine intake from coffee was associated with an even longer gestational length – 8hr extra for every 100mg caffeine per day.

This association means that it is not just the caffeine in coffee which increases gestational length but either there must be a substance in coffee which is responsible for the extra time or there is a behaviour associated with coffee drinking not present in women who drink only tea (for example). SGA babies are at higher risk of both short term and lifelong health problems and it seems from these results that since even 200-300mg caffeine per day can increase the risk of SGA by almost a third these recommendations need to be re-evaluated.

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Media contact 

Dr Hilary Glover Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central Tel:  +44 (0) 20 3192 2370 Mob: +44 (0) 778 698 1967 Email: hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com

Notes

1. Maternal caffeine intake during pregnancy is associated with birth weight but not with gestational length: results from a large prospective observational cohort study Verena Sengpiel, Elisabeth Elind, Jonas Bacelis, Staffan Nilsson, Jakob Grove, Ronny Myhre, Margaretha Haugen, Helle M Meltzer, Jan Alexander, Bo Jacobsson and Anne-Lise Brantsæter BMC Medicine 2013, 11:42

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central’s open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request on the day of publication.

2. BMC Medicine is the flagship medical journal of the BMC series, publishing original research, commentaries and reviews that are either of significant interest to all areas of medicine and clinical practice, or provide key translational or clinical advances in a specific field. @BMCMedicine

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector. @BioMedCentral

Abnormal brain development in fetuses of obese women

Contact: Vicki Bendure vicki@bendurepr.com 202-374-9259 Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

In a study to be presented on February 15 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. PST, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting ™, in San Francisco, California, researchers from Tufts Medical Center will present findings showing the effects of maternal obesity on a fetus, specifically in the development of the brain.

The study, conducted at the Mother Infant Research Institute (MIRI) at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Mass., looked at the fetal development of 16 pregnant women, eight obese and eight lean, to see what effects maternal obesity had on fetal gene expression. Researchers have found that fetuses of obese women had differences in gene expression as early as the second trimester, compared to fetuses of women who were a healthy weight.. Of particular note were patterns of gene expression suggestive of abnormal brain development in fetuses of obese women.

During gestation, fetuses go through apoptosis, a developmental process of programmed cell death. However, fetuses of the obese women were observed to have decreased apoptosis, which is an important part of normal fetal neurodevelopment. Dr. Diana Bianchi, senior author of the study and executive director of MIRI, describes apoptosis as a pruning process, clearing out space for new growth.

“Women won’t be surprised to hear being obese while pregnant can lead to obesity in the child,” said Dr. Andrea Edlow, lead author of the study and fellow in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Tufts Medical Center. “But what might surprise them is the potential effect it has on the brain development of their unborn child.”

It is too early to know the implications of their findings, but maternal obesity is a rapidly growing problem in the U.S., with one in three women being obese at conception. The conclusion of the study points to the role of gene expression studies such as this one in helping elucidate possible mechanisms for recently-described postnatal neurodevelopmental abnormalities in children of obese women, including increased rates of autism and altered hypothalamic appetite regulation.

The research team hopes their findings and any future data will push women looking to become pregnant to be healthier, minimizing risk to their child.

Drs. Bianchi and Edlow, say the next step in their research will be to use a mouse model to examine the genes that are differentially expressed in fetuses of obese women, genes that may be involved in abnormal fetal neurodevelopment.

###

In addition to Edlow and Bianchi, research was conducted by Neeta Vora of Tufts Medical Center and University of North Carolina Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine.; Lisa Hui, of Tufts Medical Center, Mother Infant Research Institute, Boston, Mass.; Heather Wick, of Tufts University Department of Computer Science, Medford, Mass.; and Janet Cowan, of Tufts Medical Center Department of Pathology, Boston, Mass.

A copy of the abstract is available at www.smfmnewsroom.org/annual-meeting/meeting-abstracts/ and below.  For interviews please contact Vicki Bendure at Vicki@bendurepr.com,  202-374-9259 (cell), or Meghan Blackburn at Meghan@bendurepr.com, 540-687-5099 (office) or 859-492-6303 (cell).

The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (est. 1977) is a non-profit membership group for obstetricians/gynecologists who have additional formal education and training in maternal-fetal medicine.  The society is devoted to reducing high-risk pregnancy complications by providing continuing education to its 2,000 members on the latest pregnancy assessment and treatment methods.  It also serves as an advocate for improving public policy, and expanding research funding and opportunities for maternal-fetal medicine.  The group hosts an annual scientific meeting in which new ideas and research in the area of maternal-fetal medicine are unveiled and discussed.  For more information, visit www.smfm.org or www.facebook.com/SocietyforMaternalFetalMedicine.

Abstract 37: Decreased apoptosis in fetuses of obese women: implications for neurodevelopment

Andrea Edlow1, Neeta Vora1, Lisa Hui2, Heather Wick3, Janet Cowan4, Diana Bianchi2

1Tufts Medical Center, Mother Infant Research Institute, and Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Boston, MA, 2Tufts Medical Center, Mother Infant Research Institute, Boston, MA, 3Tufts University, Department of Computer Science, Medford, MA, 4Tufts Medical Center, Department of Pathology, Boston, MA

OBJECTIVE: Maternal obesity affects the developing fetus. Second trimester amniotic fluid supernatant (AFS) contains cell-free fetal RNA (cffRNA) transcripts from multiple fetal organs, including the brain, thus providing real-time information about fetal development. We sought to understand the effects of maternal obesity on fetal gene expression by performing a functional genomic analysis of AFS.

STUDY DESIGN: We prospectively analyzed cffRNA in AFS of women with singleton fetuses undergoing clinically indicated 2nd trimester genetic amniocentesis. Eight obese gravidas (Ob, BMI ≥ 30) and 8 lean controls (L, BMI < 25) were matched for gestational age and fetal sex. Exclusion criteria included abnormal karyotype and structural anomalies. CffRNA was extracted, amplified, and hybridized to whole genome expression arrays. Genes differentially regulated in 8/8 pairs were identified using paired t-test with the Benjamini-Hochberg correction. Functional analyses were performed using Ingenuity Pathways Analysis software.

RESULTS: Demographic characteristics are shown in Table 1. Paired analyses identified 205 differentially regulated genes. Apoptotic cell death was significantly down-regulated in fetuses of obese gravidas. This was most evident within nervous system pathways, specifically those involving cerebral cortex cells, hippocampal cells, and sympathetic neurons. Genes involved in resistance to apoptotic cell death (BCL2, BCL3) were among the most up-regulated in Ob, while the most down-regulated gene was the pro-apoptotic STK24. Docosahexaenoic acid signaling, which plays an important role in neuronal survival, was also identified as a key canonical pathway.

CONCLUSION: Decreased brain apoptosis is characteristic of fetuses of obese pregnant women. Because apoptosis is critical to normal neurodevelopment, these findings may have implications for postnatal neurodevelopmental abnormalities recently described in the offspring of obese women, including an increased incidence of autism and altered hypothalamic appetite regulation

Mild painkillers in pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of male reproductive problems

 2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Emma Mason wordmason@mac.com European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

New evidence has emerged that the use of mild painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen, may be part of the reason for the increase in male reproductive disorders in recent decades. Research published in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction today (Monday 8 November) shows that women who took a combination of more than one mild analgesic during pregnancy, or who took the painkillers during the second trimester of pregnancy, had an increased risk of giving birth to sons with undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) – a condition that is known to be a risk factor for poor semen quality and testicular germ cell cancer in later life. [1]

The researchers from Denmark, Finland and France found that women who used more than one painkiller simultaneously (e.g. paracetamol and ibuprofen) had a seven-fold increased risk of giving birth to sons with some form of cryptorchidism compared to women who took nothing.

The second trimester appeared to a particularly sensitive time. Any analgesic use at this point in the pregnancy more than doubled the risk of cryptorchidism. Of the individual painkillers, ibuprofen and aspirin approximately quadrupled the risk of cryptorchidism, while a doubling of the risk (although non-statistically significant) was found for paracetamol. Simultaneous use of more than one painkiller during this time increased the risk 16-fold.

These findings were supported by work that the researchers Dr Ulla Hass at the Technical University of Denmark (Søborg, Denmark) and Dr Bernard Jégou from INSERM (Institut National de la Santé at de la Recherche Médicale) at the University of Rennes (Rennes, France) carried out in rats. They found that analgesics disrupted androgen production, leading to insufficient supplies of the male hormone testosterone during the crucial early period of gestation when the male organs were forming. The effects of the analgesics on the rats was comparable to that caused by similar doses of known endocrine (hormone) disrupters such as phthalates – a family of chemical compounds used in the manufacture of plastics such as PVC.

Dr Henrik Leffers, senior scientist at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen (Denmark), who led the research, said: “If exposure to endocrine disruptors is the mechanism behind the increasing reproductive problems among young men in the Western World, this research suggests that particular attention should be paid to the use of mild analgesics during pregnancy, as this could be a major reason for the problems.”

The study looked at two groups of women, 834 in Denmark and 1463 in Finland, who joined the study while they were pregnant. In Finland the women answered written questionnaires about their use of medication during pregnancy and in Denmark the women did the same or took part in a telephone interview, or both. The telephone interview asked specifically about the use of painkillers during pregnancy, while the written questionnaires did not. The baby boys were examined at birth for any signs of cryptorchidism, ranging from a mild form of the condition, in which the testis is located high in the scrotum, to the more severe form, in which the testis is so high up in the abdomen that it is non-palpable.

The researchers found that women significantly under-reported the use of painkillers in the written questionnaire because they did not consider mild painkillers to be “medication”. Among the 298 Danish mothers who took part in both the self-administered questionnaire and the telephone interview, 30.9% reported using painkillers in the questionnaire, but 57.2% reported it in the telephone interview.

The researchers could find no statistically significant effect in the group of Finnish women, but found significant effects amongst the Danish women.

Dr Leffers said: “We do not quite understand why the Finnish cohort does not show the same associations as the Danish cohort. However, the use of mild analgesics in the Finnish cohort was only examined by questionnaires, not by telephone interviews, and the telephone interviews gave the most reliable information in the Danish cohort, which may explain some of the differences. Moreover, the prevalence of cryptorchidism is much lower in Finland (2.4%) compared to Denmark (9.3%) and, therefore, this would require a larger cohort to find the same number of cases.”

The work examining the effects of the analgesics in rats showed that intrauterine exposure to paracetamol reduced the anogenital distance (the distance between the anus and the genitals) in the offspring. AGD is a sensitive marker for reduced intrauterine androgen levels and effects on AGD predicts increased risk for impaired reproductive performance of the adult animal. The researchers also found that mild analgesics reduced levels of testosterone in the rat foetal testis by approximately 50%.

Dr Jégou said that the mechanism by which mild analgesics reduced testosterone was poorly understood. “It seems to be related to their mode of action which involves inhibiting the production of prostaglandins – locally acting messenger molecules. In another study by David Kristensen et al., we have shown that endocrine disruptors of the phthalate type are almost as potent inhibitors of prostaglandin synthesis as pharmaceutical inhibitors such as mild analgesics. However, currently we do not know how a reduction of prostaglandin synthesis can reduce testosterone production.”

The researchers say that there has been a marked increase in the incidence of congenital cryptorchidism in recent decades, notably in Denmark where it has increased from 1.8% in 1959-1961 to 8.5% in 1997-2001. “The magnitude of this difference is too large to be accounted for by random fluctuations and differences in ascertainment. Moreover, this finding is in accordance with the reported decline in reproductive health in the adult male population over the past five decades,” they write in their paper.

Dr Leffers said: “Although we should be cautious about any over-extrapolation or over-statement, the use of mild analgesics constitutes by far the largest exposure to endocrine disruptors among pregnant women, and use of these compounds is, at present, the best suggestion for an exposure that can affect a large proportion of the human population.”

The researchers say that the risk from the analgesics is markedly higher than that seen for known endocrine disrupters such as phthalates, and that, as most Western women are inevitably exposed to low levels of endocrine disrupters, these together with analgesic use, could be contributing to the increased incidence of cryptorchidism and later life reproductive problems.

Dr Leffers said: “A single paracetamol tablet (500 mg) contains more endocrine disruptor potency than the combined exposure to the ten most prevalent of the currently known environmental endocrine disruptors during the whole pregnancy. In fact, a single tablet will, for most women, be at least a doubling of the exposure to the known endocrine disruptors during the pregnancy and that dose comes on a single day, not spread out over nine months as with the environmental endocrine disruptors. Thus, for women using mild analgesics during the pregnancy, the mild analgesics will be by far the largest exposure to endocrine disruptors.”

The researchers say that more research is urgently needed, particularly epidemiological studies. They also recommend that advice to pregnant women on analgesic use should be reconsidered. “Women may want to try to reduce their analgesic use during pregnancy,” said Dr Leffers. “However, as biologists this is not something we can advise women about. So we recommend that pregnant women seek advise from their physician before using mild analgesics and in general follow the advice to use as little medicine during pregnancy as possible.”

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[1] “Intrauterine exposure to mild analgesics is a risk factor for development of male reproductive disorders in human and rat”, by David M. Kristensen et al. Human Reproduction journal. doi:10.1093/humrep/deq323

Hospital scanning ‘costs lives of healthy babies’

More than 200 women who discover they are expecting thanks to ultra-sensitive home testing kits are having their pregnancies ended by mistake because hospital scans cannot pick up the earliest signs of life, doctors warn.

Hospital scanning 'costs lives of healthy babies’

Home pregnancy test Photo: ALAMY

By Stephen Adams, John-Paul Ford Rojas

11:10PM GMT 11 Dec 2012

More than 200 women who discover they are expecting thanks to ultra-sensitive home testing kits are having their pregnancies ended by mistake because hospital scans cannot pick up the earliest signs of life, doctors warn.

Modern home pregnancy tests, which detect hormonal changes, are so effective that women are going to hospital earlier than ever, fearing they have miscarried.

Doctors are carrying out ultrasound scans, finding no heartbeat, and consequently removing the early foetus, a health watchdog warns.

Up to 400 women may be losing their babies every year due to mistaken diagnosis of miscarriage. More than half are triggered by the problem of home pregnancy testing, according to an expert.

New guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), urges doctors not to operate to remove a foetus so quickly in the early weeks of pregnancy.

The guidance also says that women should be advised that they might still be carrying a healthy baby, even if an early scan finds no positive signs.

Mary Ann Lumsden, professor of gynaecology at Glasgow University, who helped draw up the guidance, said she had “seen mistakes made” by doctors who had acted too soon.

She said the problem of “making an incorrect diagnosis too early in pregnancy” was nowadays partly the result of what she described as “patients with sensitive pregnancy tests”.

Some tests are so sensitive that women could find out they were pregnant before even missing a period.

“They may come along at a stage when it is impossible to make a final diagnosis,” she said.

“Sometimes this leads to women having surgical intervention early on. Women are told that the pregnancy is unviable at a very early stage.”

“Sometimes I have seen mistakes made because one has tried to deal with things too early and not just waited.”

Doctors needed to better explain that early scans could not always confirm if a woman had miscarried or not, she said.

“If people understand why we are saying it would better to wait, they will be sure of what we are doing.”

The problem of mistaken terminations of healthy pregnancies is only one matter covered by the guidance, which aims to improve care for women suffering suspected miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies in England and Wales.

They also call for an end to a postcode lottery in standards of treatment, by making available seven-day-a-week care for women in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy as well as a 24-hour telephone helpline for those experiencing possible complications.

Nice has also recommended training for doctors and nurses in how to “communicate sensitively” with the 168,000 women suffering miscarriages every year.

Hospitals should spare women who have suffered from miscarriage the anxiety of being treated in wards where they can hear mothers giving birth nearby.

Prof Lumsden said: “It actually doesn’t cost a great deal to be sympathetic. It is something that happens to a lot of women. But for each woman it is a unique event. We must recognise people’s distress.”

The guidelines relate to women suffering suspected miscarriages and ectopic pregnancy in the first trimester, or 13 weeks.

Approximately one in five pregnancies miscarry every year, roughly 168,000, including 143,000 in the first trimester.

Between 2006 and 2008 there were 35,495 confirmed ectopic pregnancies, of which six women died in their first trimester as a direct result.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/9738123/Hospital-scanning-costs-lives-of-healthy-babies.html

 

85th Health Research Report 12 JUL 2010 – Reconstruction

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Health Research Report

85th Issue 12 JUL 2010

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm 

www.facebook.com/engineeringevil

www.engineeringevil.com  

www.healthresearchreport.me 

120922_0002

 Editors top five:

1. Study demonstrates pine bark naturally reduces hay fever symptoms

2. Increasing Fertility Threefold

3. Antioxidants do help arteries stay healthy

4. Early life exposure to BPA may affect testis function in adulthood

5. Polio research gives new insight into tackling vaccine-derived poliovirus

In this Issue:

1. Flame retardant linked to altered thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy

2. Lemurs lose weight with ‘life-extending’ supplement

3. Progesterone (NOT Progestin) is effective for hot flash treatment and provides an alternative to estrogen

4. Early life exposure to BPA may affect testis function in adulthood

5. Coffee may protect against head and neck cancers

6. Gut bacteria could be key indicator of colon cancer risk

7. Polio research gives new insight into tackling vaccine-derived poliovirus

8. Study demonstrates pine bark naturally reduces hay fever symptoms

9. Stanford study uses genetic approach to manipulate microbes in gut

10. Breast milk transmits drugs and medicines to the baby

11. Ingredient in red wine may prevent some blinding diseases

12. Vitamin D and mental agility in elders

13. Study shows how dietary supplement may block cancer cells

14. Virgin olive oil and a Mediterranean diet fight heart disease by changing how our genes function

15. Honey as an antibiotic: Scientists identify a secret ingredient in honey that kills bacteria

16. New insights into link between anti-cholesterol statin drugs and depression

17. HIGH FRUCTOSE DIET MAY CONTRIBUTE TO HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

18. Low vitamin D linked to the metabolic syndrome in elderly people

19. New insights into link between anti-cholesterol statin drugs and depression

20. Increasing Fertility Threefold

21. Antioxidants do help arteries stay healthy

22. Cocoa flavanols could more than double cells associated with repair and maintenance of blood vessels, according to Mars Inc. research

Public release date: 21-Jun-2010

Flame retardant linked to altered thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy

Berkeley — Pregnant women with higher blood levels of a common flame retardant had altered thyroid hormone levels, a result that could have implications for fetal health, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

“This is the first study with a sufficient sample size to evaluate the association between PBDE flame retardants and thyroid function in pregnant women,” said the study’s lead author, Jonathan Chevrier, a UC Berkeley researcher in epidemiology and in environmental health sciences. “Normal maternal thyroid hormone levels are essential for normal fetal growth and brain development, so our findings could have significant public health implications. These results suggest that a closer examination between PBDEs and these outcomes is needed.”

PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, are a class of organobromine compounds found in common household items such as carpets, textiles, foam furnishings, electronics and plastics. U.S. fire safety standards implemented in the 1970s led to increased use of PBDEs, which can leach out into the environment and accumulate in human fat cells.

Studies suggest that PBDEs can be found in the blood of up to 97 percent of U.S. residents, and at levels 20 times higher than those of people in Europe. Because of California’s flammability laws, residents in this state have some of the highest exposures to PBDEs in the world.

“Despite the prevalence of these flame retardants, there are few studies that have examined their impact on human health,” said the study’s principal investigator, Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health. “Our results suggest that exposure to PBDE flame retardants may have unanticipated human health risks.”

The new study, to be published June 21 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is the second study to come out this year from Eskenazi’s research group linking PBDEs to human health effects. Eskenazi was the principal investigator on the earlier study that found that women with higher exposures to flame retardants took longer to get pregnant.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed blood samples from 270 women taken around the end of their second trimester of pregnancy. The women in the study were part of a larger longitudinal study from the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS) that examines environmental exposures and reproductive health.

The researchers measured concentrations of 10 PBDE chemicals, two types of thyroxine (T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). They controlled for such factors as maternal smoking, alcohol and drug use, and exposure to lead and pesticides.

Analysis focused on the five PBDE chemicals that were detected most frequently and are components of a mixture called pentaBDE. The researchers found that a 10-fold increase in each of the PBDE chemicals was associated with decreases in TSH ranging from 10.9 percent to 18.7 percent. When the five PBDEs were analyzed together, a tenfold increase was linked to a 16.8 percent decrease in TSH.

The study did not find a statistically significant effect of PBDE concentrations on levels of T4. With one exception, all the women in the study with low TSH levels had normal free T4 levels, which corresponds to the definition of subclinical hyperthyroidism. The study found that odds of subclinical hyperthyroidism were increased 1.9 times for each tenfold increase in PBDE concentrations.

“Low TSH and normal T4 levels are an indication of subclinical hyperthyroidism, which is often the first step leading toward clinical hyperthyroidism,” said Chevrier. “Though the health effect of subclinical hyperthyroidism during pregnancy is not well understood, maternal clinical hyperthyroidism is linked to altered fetal neurodevelopment, increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth and intrauterine growth retardation.”

Exactly how flame retardants influence TSH levels is unclear, the researchers said, but animal studies have shown that certain PBDEs can mimic thyroid hormones.

In addition to the commercial mixture pentaBDE, octaBDE and decaBDE have been developed for use as commercial flame retardants. PentaBDE and octaBDE have both been banned for use by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the European Union and eight U.S. states, including California, but they are still present in products made before 2004.

The production of decaBDE by major manufacturers is scheduled to be phased out in the United States by 2013. However, pentaBDE and decaBDE are being replaced by new brominated and chlorinated compounds whose impact on human health is not yet clear, the researchers noted.

Public release date: 21-Jun-2010

Lemurs lose weight with ‘life-extending’ supplement

The anti-obesity properties of resveratrol have been demonstrated for the first time in a primate. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Physiology studied the compound, generated naturally by plants to ward off pathogens, which has received much interest as a dietary supplement for its supposed life-extending effects.

Fabienne Aujard, from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France, worked with a team of researchers to investigate the effect of dietary supplementation with resveratrol on the weight, metabolism and energy intake of six mouse lemurs. She said, “The physiological benefits of resveratrol are currently under intensive investigation, with recent work suggesting that it could be a good candidate for the development of obesity therapies. We’ve found that lemurs eating a diet supplemented with the compound decreased their energy intake by 13% and increased their resting metabolic rate by 29%”.

The researchers demonstrated that a four-week resveratrol supplementation was associated with a decrease in food intake and a reduction in seasonal body-mass gain. The response to resveratrol supplementation also involved significant changes in the animals’ body temperatures. According to Dr Aujard, “These results provide novel information on the potential effects of resveratrol on energy metabolism and control of body mass in a primate”.

Public release date: 21-Jun-2010

Progesterone (NOT Progestin)  is effective for hot flash treatment and provides an alternative to estrogen

Postmenopausal women who experience bothersome hot flashes or night sweats may have an alternative treatment to estrogen. According to a new study, oral micronized progesterone relieves those symptoms. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

“This is the first evidence that oral micronized progesterone, which is molecularly identical to the natural hormone, is effective for women with symptomatic hot flashes,” said the presenting author, Jerilynn Prior, MD, professor, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Available only by prescription and sold under the brand name Prometrium in the United States and Canada, this form of progesterone is manufactured from a steroid in yams.

“Vasomotor symptoms”—hot flashes (sometimes called hot flushes) and night sweats—are experienced by most women during the years around the final menstrual period. In the most symptomatic women (at least 5-10%) these symptoms disturb sleep, energy and quality of life, Prior said.

The researchers recruited 114 healthy postmenopausal women seeking hormonal therapy for hot flashes and night sweats and randomly assigned them to take either oral micronized progesterone or an inactive substance (placebo), both as three round capsules at bedtime. Neither the women nor the study team members were aware which treatment the study participants received during the three months of therapy. The time since their last menstrual flow was one to 10 years, with an average of four years. To be eligible to participate in the study, women could not have taken ovarian hormone therapy within the past six months.

Prior and Christine Hitchcock, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, calculated the average daily vasomotor symptom score, or VMSScore, from the data that subjects recorded in a daily diary. This score reflects both intensity and number for hot flashes and night sweats each day.

Progesterone, in a 300-milligram dose, was more effective than placebo at decreasing the intensity and number of symptoms, the authors reported, and the difference was both statistically significant and clinically important. The 68 women taking progesterone showed a 56% improvement from baseline in VMSScore, and a 48% reduction in the number of VMS; the 46 women taking placebo had 28% lower VMSScores and a 22% reduction in number.

“Women improve very quickly on oral micronized progesterone. The improvement is apparent within the first 4 weeks,” Prior said.

Micronized progesterone did not cause any serious side effects, she said. The drug may be an option for postmenopausal women who do not want to or should not take estrogen—”currently the only effective therapy for decreasing severe vasomotor symptoms,” Prior said.

 

Public release date: 21-Jun-2010

Early life exposure to BPA may affect testis function in adulthood

Exposure to environmental levels of the industrial chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, in the womb and early life may cause long-lasting harm to testicular function, according to a new study conducted in animals. The results are being presented Monday at The Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

“We are seeing changes in the testis function of rats after exposure to BPA levels that are lower than what the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency consider safe exposure levels for humans,” said Benson Akingbemi, PhD, the study’s lead author and an associate professor at Auburn (Ala.) University. “This is concerning because large segments of the population, including pregnant and nursing mothers, are exposed to this chemical.”

Many hard plastic bottles and canned food liners contain BPA, as do some dental sealants. BPA acts in a similar manner as the female sex hormone estrogen and has been linked to female infertility. This chemical is present in placenta and is able to pass from a mother into her breast milk. In their study of the male, Akingbemi and colleagues saw harmful effects of BPA at the cellular level, specifically in Leydig cells. These cells in the testis secrete testosterone, the main sex hormone that supports male fertility. After birth, Leydig cells gradually acquire the capacity for testosterone secretion, Akingbemi explained.

The process of testosterone secretion was decreased in male offspring of female rats that received BPA during pregnancy and while nursing. The mothers were fed BPA in olive oil at a dose of either 2.5 or 25 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. Akingbemi said this is below the daily upper limit of safe exposure for humans, which federal guidelines currently put at 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. A control group of pregnant rats received olive oil without BPA. Male offspring, after weaning at 21 days of age, received no further exposure to BPA.

Using a combination of analytical methods, the investigators studied the development of Leydig cells in male offspring. The capacity for testosterone secretion was assessed at 21, 35 and 90 days of age. The amount of testosterone secreted per Leydig cell was found to be much lower in male offspring after early-life exposure to BPA than in offspring from control unexposed animals.

“Although BPA exposure stopped at 21 days of age, BPA’s effects on Leydig cells, which were seen immediately at the end of exposure and at 35 days, remained apparent until 90 days of age, when the rats reached adulthood,” Akingbemi said. “Therefore, the early life period is a sensitive window of exposure to BPA and exposure at this time may affect testis function into adulthood.”

Ralph’s Note – So 20x less than the safe EPA limit, Can mess you up for life.

 

Public release date: 22-Jun-2010

Coffee may protect against head and neck cancers

PHILADELPHIA — Data on the effects of coffee on cancer risk have been mixed. However, results of a recent study add to the brewing evidence that drinking coffee protects against cancer, this time against head and neck cancer.

Full study results are published online first in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Using information from a pooled-analysis of nine studies collected by the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology (INHANCE) consortium, participants who were regular coffee drinkers, that is, those who drank an estimated four or more cups a day, compared with those who were non-drinkers, had a 39 percent decreased risk of oral cavity and pharynx cancers combined.

Data on decaffeinated coffee was too sparse for detailed analysis, but indicated no increased risk. Tea intake was not associated with head and neck cancer risk.

The association is more reliable among those who are frequent, regular coffee drinkers, consuming more than four cups of coffee a day.

“Since coffee is so widely used and there is a relatively high incidence and low survival rate of these forms of cancers, our results have important public health implications that need to be further addressed,” said lead researcher Mia Hashibe, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and a Huntsman Cancer Institute investigator.

“What makes our results so unique is that we had a very large sample size, and since we combined data across many studies, we had more statistical power to detect associations between cancer and coffee,” she said.

At the AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference last December, researchers from Harvard presented data that showed a strong inverse association between coffee consumption and the risk of lethal and advanced prostate cancers — men who drank the most coffee had a 60 percent lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer than men who did not drink any coffee.

More recently, results of another study published in the January issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention showed a decreased risk of gliomas, or brain tumors, associated with coffee. This association was found among those who drank five or more cups of coffee or tea a day, according the researchers from the Imperial College, London.

Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention editorial board member Johanna W. Lampe, Ph.D., R.D., believes this current analysis by Hashibe and colleagues provides strong, additional evidence for an association between caffeinated coffee drinking and cancer risk.

“The fact that this was seen for oral and pharyngeal cancers, but not laryngeal cancers, provides some evidence as to a possible specificity of effect,” said Lampe, who is a full member and associate division director in the division of public health sciences at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle., Wash.

“These findings provide further impetus to pursue research to understand the role of coffee in head and neck cancer prevention,” she added. Lampe is not associated with this study.

Additional research is warranted to characterize the importance of timing and duration of exposure and possible mechanisms of action, according to Hashibe.

Public release date: 22-Jun-2010

Gut bacteria could be key indicator of colon cancer risk

A new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine suggests that a shift in the balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria that populate our gut could be a harbinger of colon cancer.

Bacteria (in red) localized to the intestinal mucus layer. Image provided by the Keku laboratory, UNC School of Medicine.

Media contacts: Les Lang, (919) 966-9366, llang@med.unc.edu or Tom Hughes, (919) 966-6047, tahughes@unch.unc.edu

CHAPEL HILL – The human body contains more bacteria than it does cells. These bacterial communities can have a positive effect on our health, by training our immune systems and helping to metabolize the foods we eat. But they can also set us up to develop digestive disorders, skin diseases, and obesity.

Now a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine suggests that a shift in the balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria that populate our gut could be a harbinger of colon cancer.

The findings, which will appear online in the May/June 2010 issue of the journal Gut Microbes, could lead to strategies to identify people who are at high risk as well as ways to manipulate the microbiota to prevent colon cancer.

“We think something happens to tip the balance away from the beneficial bacteria and in favor of microbes that make toxic metabolites and are detrimental to our health,” said senior study author Temitope Keku, PhD, research associate professor of medicine at UNC.

“By pinpointing these bacterial culprits, we can not only identify people at risk, but also suggest that they include the good bacteria in their diet,” added Keku. “And what a great way to address colon cancer – you could know your risk and lower it by eating your yogurt every day.”

Researchers have known for decades that the bacteria harbored in our bodies are not innocent bystanders but rather active participants in health and disease. Yet only recently have molecular methods evolved to the point that they can identify and characterize all of our microbial residents.

Keku and her colleagues used these methods to determine the different bacteria groups contained within biopsies from 45 patients undergoing colonoscopies. They uncovered a higher bacterial diversity and richness in individuals found to have adenomas than in those without these colorectal cancer precursors. In particular, a group called Proteobacteria was in higher abundance in cases than in controls, which was interesting considering that is the category where E. coli and some other common pathogens reside.

It is still not clear whether alterations in bacterial composition cause adenomas, or if adenomas cause this altered balance. In order to tell if it is the chicken or the egg, Keku plans to conduct more mechanistic studies, such as testing whether certain groups of bacteria promote cancer growth in animal models. She is also expanding the study to analyze samples from 600 patients using next-generation sequencing technology.

The ultimate goal may be to determine if the differences found in the mucosa lining the colon also exist in the luminal or fecal matter that passes through the colon. If so, it could mean less invasive screening for cancer and even more cancers being caught earlier, when survival rates are higher.

“We have come a long way from the time when we didn’t know our risk factors and how they impact our chances of getting colon cancer,” said Keku. “But now that we can look at bacteria and their role, it opens up a whole new world and gives us a better understanding of the entire gamut of factors involved in cancer – diet, environment, genes, and microbes.”

The UNC research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. Study co-authors from UNC include Xiang Jun Shen, John F. Rawls, Thomas Randall, Lauren Burcal, Caroline N. Mpande, Natascha Jenkins, Biljana Jovov, Zaid Abdo and Robert S. Sandler.

 

Public release date: 23-Jun-2010

Polio research gives new insight into tackling vaccine-derived poliovirus

A vaccine-derived strain of poliovirus that has spread in recent years is serious but it can be tackled with an existing vaccine

A vaccine-derived strain of poliovirus that has spread in recent years is serious but it can be tackled with an existing vaccine, according to a new study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Vaccine-derived polioviruses can emerge on rare occasions in under-immunised populations, when the attenuated virus contained in a vaccine mutates and recombines with other viruses, to create a circulating vaccine-derived strain.

The researchers behind today’s study say their findings highlight the importance of completing polio eradication. They also say that should wild-type poliovirus be eradicated, routine vaccination with oral polio vaccines will need to cease, in order to prevent further vaccine-derived strains of the virus from emerging.

The study was carried out by researchers from the Medical Research Council Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling at Imperial College London, working with the Government of Nigeria and the World Health Organization (WHO) research teams.

Poliovirus is highly infectious and primarily affects children under five years of age. Around one in 200 of the people infected with polio develop permanent paralysis, which can be fatal.

Polio was virtually wiped out by the early 2000s following a major vaccination drive by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, but since then the number of cases of paralysis reported has plateaued, remaining roughly constant at between one and two thousand each year from 2003 to 2009, dropping only recently in 2010.

The first reported polio outbreak resulting from a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, known as a cVDPV, occurred in Hispaniola in 2000. Prior to today’s study, there was little evidence available about the severity and potential impact of this kind of poliovirus.

Although billions of doses of oral vaccine have been distributed in the last decade, just 14 cVDPV outbreaks have been reported, affecting 15 countries. These outbreaks have usually been limited in size.

For the new study, researchers looked at the largest recorded outbreak of a cVDPV to date, which began to circulate in Nigeria in 2005. The authors examined data from 278 children paralysed by this cVDPV, and compared them with children paralysed by wild-type poliovirus in the country. Their analysis showed that this serotype 2 cVDPV is as easily transmitted and likely to cause severe disease as wild-type poliovirus of the same serotype.

The study also shows that vaccination with trivalent OPV, one of the main types of vaccine currently used to combat polio, is highly effective in preventing paralysis by this serotype 2 cVDPV.

The research shows that it is even more effective against cVDPV than against the wild-type polioviruses that are currently circulating, which can also be targeted with a different vaccine.

The new findings mean that it is particularly vital that efforts to vaccinate children with trivalent OPV continue in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, to protect children against all strains of polio. The scientists hope their findings will help countries to devise the right vaccine strategies to eradicate polio.

Helen Jenkins, the lead author of the study from the Medical Research Council Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling at Imperial College London, said: “Our research shows that vaccine-derived polioviruses must be taken seriously and that we have the right tools to tackle them. We’ve had a lot of success against polio in the past and we’re optimistic that ultimately we should be able to eradicate it completely.

“However, our study shows that we can’t be complacent about the virus. It’s still vital for us to protect children from this dangerous and debilitating disease and we have to make sure we continue to vaccinate as many children as possible in affected countries for as long as wild-type poliovirus continues to circulate,” added Ms Jenkins.

Senior study author Dr Nicholas Grassly, also from the Medical Research Council Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling at Imperial College London, added: “There has been some debate about the significance of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses for the eradication initiative. Our research shows these viruses can be as pathogenic and transmissible as wild-type polioviruses and outbreaks must be responded to with just as much vigour.”

Dr Bruce Aylward, Director of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at WHO, added: “These new findings suggest that if cVDPVs are allowed to circulate for a long enough time, eventually they can regain a similar capacity to spread and paralyse as wild polioviruses. This means that they should be subject to the same outbreak response measures as wild polioviruses. These results also underscore the need to eventually stop all OPV use in routine immunization programmes after wild polioviruses have been eradicated, to ensure that all children are protected from all possible risks of polio in future.”

 

Public release date: 23-Jun-2010

Study demonstrates pine bark naturally reduces hay fever symptoms

 

Research shows Pycnogenol decreases nasal and ocular symptoms in allergic rhinitis patients

HOBOKEN, N.J. (June 23, 2010) – An estimated 60 million people in the U.S. are affected by allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. Hay fever is an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways that causes itching, swelling, mucus production, hives and rashes. A study published in the June 14, 2010 issue of Phytotherapy Research demonstrates Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, substantially improves the symptoms of hay fever.

“Allergic rhinitis is often mistakenly believed to be a trivial health problem, while people suffering from hay fever may disagree as they experience a dramatic impairment to their quality of life,” said Dr. Malkanthi Evans Scientific Director KGK Synergize Inc., a lead researcher on the study. “This study confirmed that taking Pycnogenol® naturally relieves eye and nasal symptoms of hay-fever patients owing to lower pollen-specific antibodies, particularly for ocular and nasal distress.”

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted by KGK Synergize, Inc.,60 subjects between the ages of 18 and 65 began treatment three to eight weeks prior to the onset of birch allergy season in Ontario, Canada. All subjects tested positive for birch pollen allergies, a seasonal trigger of hay fever, as determined by skin prick tests. Patients were assigned to a Pycnogenol® group or placebo group according to a computer-generated, randomized schedule. Neither the patient, the investigator nor research staff was informed to which test order the subjects were assigned. Subjects were instructed to take either one 50 mg Pycnogenol® tablet or one placebo tablet twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening throughout the allergy season. Patients were allowed to use non-prescription antihistamines as needed and recorded usage and dosage in treatment journals. The study was approved by an ethical committee as well as the “Health Canada” authorities.

Blood was collected before and after treatment throughout the entire birch pollen season for the measurement of birch specific IgE antibodies. Upon recognition of a specific allergen the IgE class of antibodies stimulates the release of histamine, an inflammatory mediator responsible for the hay-fever symptoms. During exposure to pollen allergic people develop higher levels of the corresponding IgE antibody, which goes along with increasing hay-fever symptoms. Comparison of birch specific IgE levels from the start of the trial and the end of allergy season showed an increase of 31.9 percent in the placebo group but only 19.4 percent in the Pycnogenol® group.

Subjects were instructed to rate nasal and eye symptoms daily by means of a self-administered questionnaire, recording values in their treatment journals. These resemble problems well known to people affected by hay-fever: burning, itchy, watering or tearing eyes, redness, sneezing and stuffy, runny or itchy nose. All nasal and eye symptoms were scored with values ranging from “zero” (symptoms absent) to a maximum of “three” (severe, symptoms completely preventing normal activity). Throughout the birch pollen seasons around mid of April until end of May, the total average nasal and eye symptom score was lower in the Pycnogenol® group than in the placebo group. A detailed analysis showed that Pycnogenol® was more effective the earlier patients began taking the product prior to the onset of the exposure to birch pollen. The researchers speculate that a lag-time of at least five weeks prior to pollen exposure is required for Pycnogenol® to defy hay-fever symptoms. Subjects taking Pycnogenol® seven weeks before onset of the birch season required very little non-prescription antihistamine medication (12.5%) compared with subjects taking the placebo (50%).

“For the many people seeking alternatives to conventional treatment for allergic rhinitis Pycnogenol® may represent an effective and completely natural solution, void of any side-effects” said Evans.

Previous studies have revealed Pycnogenol® to favorably affect patients suffering from allergies. Two earlier clinical trials showed that Pycnogenol® improves symptoms and breathing ability of asthma patients. Asthma is likewise triggered by airborne allergens and Pycnogenol® was demonstrated to significantly decrease leukotriene levels, an inflammatory mediator involved in asthma and hay fever alike. Human pharmacologic studies have pointed to a general anti-inflammatory potency of Pycnogenol®.

Public release date: 24-Jun-2010

Stanford study uses genetic approach to manipulate microbes in gut

STANFORD, Calif. — We are what we eat, but who are “we”? New, high-powered genomic analytical techniques have established that as many as 1,000 different single-celled species coexist in relative harmony in every healthy human gut.

“For each human cell in your body there are 10 microbial cells, most of them living in the gut and helping us digest things we can’t digest on our own,” said Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “In turn, what you eat is proving to be one of the major determinants of the components of your ‘inner self’ — that community of bacteria living in your intestine.”

Each individual’s microbial ecosystem is different in its relative composition, with potential implications for our health. Disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer and even obesity have been linked to skewed intestinal microbe distributions.

Scientists hope that someday they will be able to manipulate microbial populations in the gut as a way of remedying disease and enhancing health. One step toward this goal would be taking “genomic censuses” to categorize and count the interacting components of each individual’s bacterial community and characterize how they respond to interventions, such as changes in diet. That’s no small task, because the aggregate gene count of the micro-organisms dwelling in a typical human gut outnumbers our own by a hundredfold — millions of them, versus the 20,000 human genes that have been identified.

In an animal study to be published June 25 in Cell, Sonnenburg and his colleagues showed that zeroing in on just a small set of bacterial genes, while ignoring the vast majority, allowed them to predict how bugs would respond to a diet change. The results highlight the potential of the burgeoning new field of prebiotics, which (in contrast to probiotics — the seeding of food with healthful bacterial organisms) involves adding substances to the diet in an effort to shift the mix of bugs in our gut in a healthy direction.

In conducting the study, the researchers used a vastly simplified model of the internal mammalian microbial ecosystem to prove that they could predict, by looking at a mere handful of microbial genes, how a shift in diet can alter the microbial composition of the gut. Sonnenburg’s team introduced two distinct species of bacteria, both known to abound in the human digestive tract, into mice that had been raised in a sterile environment and so lack the normally resident microbes — also known as “germ-free” mice. Then they fed the mice a diet rich in a particular complex carbohydrate that one bacterial species seemed genetically better equipped to digest, based on the presence of a small set of genes in its genome. As predicted, that bacterial species became predominant in the mice’s intestines.

These results set the stage for scaling up germ-free mice into living laboratories into which scientists can introduce, one by one, steadily increasing numbers of bacteria found in the human intestine, eventually enabling a sophisticated understanding of the astonishingly complex microbial superorganism that dwells inside each of us.

The complex carbohydrate the Stanford researchers added to the mice’s diet was inulin, which is found in certain bulbous plants — onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes — and has gained wide use as a prebiotic supplement (for instance, in yogurt or in powdered form) by people who believe it encourages the proliferation of healthful “good” bacteria. We humans can’t digest inulin on our own, but some bacteria are equipped with genes that encode enzymes capable of sawing through the chemical links joining this substance’s constituent sugar molecules.

“Think of these enzymes as a unique set of utensils that allow them to eat this food we can’t cut,” said Sonnenburg. The byproducts of bacterial metabolism are often valuable nutrients for humans — a win-win situation.

Previous genomic analyses had determined that only one of the two bacterial species the investigators introduced to the germ-free mice featured, among its 5,000 or so genes, a roughly 10-gene assemblage that permits the breakdown of inulin.

The researchers used a standard laboratory technique to precisely assess changes in each of the two species’ relative abundance before and after dietary inulin supplementation. “Within one or two weeks, there was a significant change in the composition of the mice’s gut communities,” said Erica Sonnenburg, PhD, senior research scientist in Justin Sonnenburg’s lab and first author of the study. As predicted, the ratio of inulin-digesting to non-digesting species shifted in favor of the former in the inulin-fed mice.

Both Erica and Justin Sonnenburg (they’re married) warned that it will be a while before the results in this simple experimental system — two competing bacterial species — can be extrapolated to the nearly-1,000-species jungle that is the real, human gut-dwelling microbial community. But the Sonnenburg lab has already embarked on increasing the complexity of their experimental system by increasing the number of human-associated bacteria into germ-free mice that have been “humanized” so that their intestines contain a microbial community similar to that of the human gut.

“We’ve now got germ-free mice to which we’ve introduced batches of bacteria representative of an entire human gut community in all its complexity,” said Erica Sonnenburg. “We’re looking to see if the bugs that we think should do better actually do better in this more competitive environment.”

Public release date: 24-Jun-2010

Breast milk transmits drugs and medicines to the baby

There is great confusion among the scientific community about whether women who are drug abusers should breast feed their babies. In order to shed some light on this issue, scientists from various Spanish hospitals and research centres are reviewing the methods used to detect substances in breast milk, their adverse effects, and the recommendations that mothers should follow in this month’s issue of the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.

“The general recommendation is to totally avoid drug abuse while breastfeeding, because these substances can pass directly through to the newborn”, Óscar García Algar, co-author of the study and a doctor in the Paediatrics Department at the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, tells SINC.

The researcher adds: “This recommendation extends to the prenatal period, because these substances are passed on to the foetus via the placenta, and then in the postnatal period via the environment. If they have exposure through the milk, they will certainly also have had it during the pregnancy, and they can also be in the environment, as is the case with tobacco smoke”.

For this study, the team used the average daily intake of the breastfeeding baby, around 150 millilitres of milk per kilo of weight, as a benchmark. The recommendations are listed for each substance, taking the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as a reference.

Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol

The breast milk of smoking mothers contains between 2 and 240 nanograms of nicotine per millilitre, which means their babies receive a dose equivalent to 0.3 to 36 micrograms/kg/day. These infants tend to suffer more from colic and are more prone to respiratory infections.

The advice is to give up smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding, or at least to limit the habit as much as possible, extend the time between the last cigarette and the baby’s feed, use nicotine patches, smoke outside the house and avoid smoky environments.

Caffeine – found in coffee, tea, cola drinks and medicines – can cause irritability and insomnia. Although the level of caffeine absorption varies greatly from one person to another, this substance has a lengthy half-life in newborns. For this reason, it is recommended to reduce consumption during breastfeeding to a maximum of 300 mg/day, equivalent to around three cups of coffee per day.

For alcohol, the exact risk is still ill-defined, and no studies have been carried out to correlate the dose, although some research suggests it can harm the infant’s motor development, as well as causing changes to their sleep patterns, reduce the amount they eat, and increase the risk of hypoglycaemia.

The AAP feels that alcohol consumption is compatible with breastfeeding, but this study states that no amount can be considered safe until the levels in breast milk are established. Strategies for minimising risk include feeding the baby before consuming alcoholic drinks, or at least allowing two or three hours to pass after drinking. Alcoholic women are advised to feed their babies with a bottle.

The risks of alcohol to the foetus in pregnant women have already been shown. “But despite this, a recent study by our group showed that 45.7% of the women who came to give birth in our hospital had consumed considerable amounts of alcohol during pregnancy”, says the doctor.

Cannabis, cocaine and other drugs

Cannabis, which is transmitted both through the mother’s milk and smoke, can cause sedation, lethargy, weakness and poor feeding habits in breastfeeding babies. The long-term risks are also unknown. Women are advised not to use it, but if they use marijuana occasionally, the experts advise them to do so several hours before feeding, and not to expose their children to the smoke.

The advice on cocaine, meanwhile, is to “totally avoid it” during breastfeeding. The first case of toxicity caused by this drug through breast milk was a baby boy just two weeks old who suffered irritability, trembling, dilated pupils, tachycardia and high blood pressure after feeding.

Women are also advised against breastfeeding if they take amphetamines. These can cause agitation, crying and lack of sleep. Using them also reduces a mother’s ability to care for her children.

Breastfeeding is not recommended either for women who use heroin, which is excreted into the milk in sufficient amounts to cause addiction in the baby. In the case of “need”, the advice is to allow at least one or two days to pass after taking the drug before feeding the baby, and to start a substitute treatment as soon as possible, if possible with methadone.

Other opiates used as medicines – morphine, meperidine and codeine – are excreted into the milk in minimal amounts and are compatible with breastfeeding, as are benzodiazepines, as long as they are taken in controlled doses. These are the drugs most frequently prescribed to women during pregnancy and after birth.

In terms of anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs, the AAP says “these can be a cause for concern during breastfeeding”. For now, their effects on breastfeeding babies are unknown, and further studies are recommended.

Public release date: 25-Jun-2010

Ingredient in red wine may prevent some blinding diseases

Resveratrol inhibits formation of damaging blood vessels in mouse retina

By Jim Dryden

Resveratrol — found in red wine, grapes, blueberries, peanuts and other plants — stops out-of-control blood vessel growth in the eye, according to vision researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The discovery has implications for preserving vision in blinding eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 50.

The formation of new blood vessels, called angiogenesis, also plays a key role in certain cancers and in atherosclerosis. Conducting experiments in mouse retinas, the researchers found that resveratrol can inhibit angiogenesis. Another surprise was the pathway through which resveratrol blocked angiogenesis. The findings are reported in the July issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

“A great deal of research has identified resveratrol as an anti-aging compound, and given our interest in age-related eye disease, we wanted to find out whether there was a link,” says Washington University retina specialist Rajendra S. Apte, MD, PhD, the study’s senior investigator. “There were reports on resveratrol’s effects on blood vessels in other parts of the body, but there was no evidence that it had any effects within the eye.”

The investigators studied mice that develop abnormal blood vessels in the retina after laser treatment. Apte’s team found that when the mice were given resveratrol, the abnormal blood vessels began to disappear.

Examining the blood-vessel cells in the laboratory, they identified a pathway — known as a eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase (eEF2) regulated pathway — that was responsible for the compound’s protective effects. That was a surprise because past research involving resveratrol’s anti-aging effects had implicated a different mechanism that these experiments showed not to be involved.

“We have identified a novel pathway that could become a new target for therapies,” Apte says. “And we believe the pathway may be involved both in age-related eye disease and in other diseases where angiogenesis plays a destructive role.”

Previous research into resveratrol’s influence on aging and obesity had identified interactions between the red-wine compound and a group of proteins called sirtuins. Those proteins were not related to resveratrol’s effects on abnormal blood vessel formation. Instead, the researchers say that in addition to investigating resveratrol as a potential therapy, they also want to look more closely at the eEF2 pathway to determine whether it might provide a new set of targets for therapies, both for eye disease and other problems related to abnormal angiogenesis.

Apte, an assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences and of developmental biology, says because resveratrol is given orally, patients may prefer it to many current treatments for retinal disease, which involve eye injections. The compound also is easily absorbed in the body.

In mice, resveratrol was effective both at preventing new blood vessels and at eliminating abnormal blood vessels that already had begun to develop.

“This could potentially be a preventive therapy in high-risk patients,” he says. “And because it worked on existing, abnormal blood vessels in the animals, it may be a therapy that can be started after angiogenesis already is causing damage.”

Apte stresses that the mouse model of macular degeneration they used is not identical to the disease in human eyes. In addition, the mice received large resveratrol doses, much more than would be found in several bottles of red wine. If resveratrol therapy is tried in people with eye disease, it would need to be given in pill form because of the high doses required, Apte says.

There are three major eye diseases that resveratrol treatment may help: age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity. Age-related macular degeneration involves the development of abnormal blood vessels beneath the center of the retina. It accounts for more than 40 percent of blindness among the elderly in nursing homes, and as baby boomers get older, the problem is expected to grow, with at least 8 million cases predicted by the year 2020.

In diabetic retinopathy, those blood vessels don’t develop beneath the retina. They grow into the retina itself. Diabetic retinopathy causes vision loss in about 20 percent of patients with diabetes. Almost 24 million people have diabetes in the United States alone.

Retinopathy of prematurity occurs when premature babies with immature retinas experience an obstruction in blood flow into the retina. In response, those children often develop abnormal blood vessels that can cause retinal detachment and interfere with vision. Worldwide, that condition blinds 50,000 newborn babies each year.

Apte says the pathway his laboratory has identified may be active not only in those blinding eye diseases, but in cancers and atherosclerosis as well. If so, then one day it might be possible to use resveratrol to improve eyesight and to prevent cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, too.

Public release date: 25-Jun-2010

Vitamin D and mental agility in elders

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At a time when consumer interest in health-enhancing foods is high, Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-funded scientists have contributed to a limited but growing body of evidence of a link between vitamin D and cognitive function.

Cognitive function is measured by the level at which the brain is able to manage and use available information for activities of daily life. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of age-related dementia, affects about 47 percent of adults aged 85 years or older in the United States. Identifying nutritional factors that lower cognitive dysfunction and help preserve independent living provides economic and public health benefits, according to authors.

The study, which was supported by ARS, the National Institutes of Health, and others, was led by epidemiologist Katherine Tucker with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University in Boston, Mass. Tucker collaborated with HNRCA laboratory directors Irwin Rosenberg, Bess Dawson-Hughes and colleagues.

Metabolic pathways for vitamin D have been found in the hippocampus and cerebellum areas of the brain involved in planning, processing, and forming new memories. This suggests that vitamin D may be implicated in cognitive processes.

The study involved more than 1,000 participants receiving home care. The researchers evaluated associations between measured vitamin D blood concentrations and neuropsychological tests. Elders requiring home care have a higher risk of not getting enough vitamin D because of limited sunlight exposure and other factors.

The participants, ages 65 to 99 years, were grouped by their vitamin D status, which was categorized as deficient, insufficient, or sufficient. Only 35 percent had sufficient vitamin D blood levels. They had better cognitive performance on the tests than those in the deficient and insufficient categories, particularly on measures of “executive performance,” such as cognitive flexibility, perceptual complexity, and reasoning. The associations persisted after taking into consideration other variables that could also affect cognitive performance.

The 2009 study appears in the Journals of Gerontology, Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.

Public release date: 29-Jun-2010

Study shows how dietary supplement may block cancer cells

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James) have discovered how a substance that is produced when eating broccoli and Brussels sprouts can block the proliferation of cancer cells.

Compelling evidence indicates that the substance, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), may have anticancer effects and other health benefits, the researchers say. These findings show how I3C affects cancer cells and normal cells.

The laboratory and animal study discovered a connection between I3C and a molecule called Cdc25A, which is essential for cell division and proliferation. The research showed that I3C causes the destruction of that molecule and thereby blocks the growth of breast cancer cells.

The study was published online June 29 in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

“Cdc25A is present at abnormally high levels in about half of breast cancer cases, and it is associated with a poor prognosis,” says study leader Xianghong Zou, assistant professor of pathology at the Ohio State University Medical Center.

The molecule also occurs at abnormally high levels in cancers of the breast, prostate, liver, esophagus, endometrium and colon, and in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and in other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, he noted.

“For this reason, a number of anti-Cdc25 agents have been identified, but they have not been successful for cancer prevention or treatment due to concerns about their safety or efficacy,” says Zou, who is also a member of the OSUCCC-James Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention program.

“I3C can have striking effects on cancer cells,” he explains, “and a better understanding of this mechanism may lead to the use of this dietary supplement as an effective and safe strategy for treating a variety of cancers and other human diseases associated with the overexpression of Cdc25A,” Zou says.

For this study, Zou and his colleagues exposed three breast cancer cell lines to I3C. These experiments revealed that the substance caused the destruction of Cdc25A. They also pinpointed a specific location on that molecule that made it susceptible to I3C, showing that if that location is altered (because of a gene mutation), I3C no longer causes the molecule’s destruction.

Last, the investigators tested the effectiveness of I3C in breast tumors in a mouse model. When the substance was given orally to the mice, it reduced tumor size by up to 65 percent. They also showed that I3C had no affect on breast-cell tumors in which the Cdc25A molecule had a mutation in that key location.

Public release date: 30-Jun-2010

Virgin olive oil and a Mediterranean diet fight heart disease by changing how our genes function

New research in the FASEB Journal suggests that the polyphenols in virgin olive oil modify the expression of atherosclerosis-related genes, leading to health benefits

Everyone knows olive oil and a Mediterranean diet are associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, but a new research report published in the July 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) offers a surprising reason why: These foods change how genes associated with atherosclerosis function.

“Knowing which genes can be modulated by diet in a healthy way can help people select healthy diets,” said Maria Isabel Covas, D.Pharm., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group at the Institut Municipal d’Investigacio Medica in Barcelona, Spain. “It is also a first step for future nutritional therapies with selected foods.”

Scientists worked with three groups of healthy volunteers. The first group consumed a traditional Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil rich in polyphenols. The second group consumed a traditional Mediterranean diet with an olive oil low in polyphenols. The third group followed their habitual diet. After three months, the first group had a down-regulation in the expression of atherosclerosis-related genes in their peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Additionally, the olive oil polyphenols made a significant impact on the expression of genetic changes influencing coronary heart disease. Results also showed that the consumption of virgin olive oil in conjunction with a Mediterranean diet can positively impact lipid and DNA oxidation, insulin resistance, inflammation, carcinogenesis, and tumor suppression.

“This study is ground breaking because it shows that olive oil and a Mediterranean diet affect our bodies in a far more significant way than previously believed,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “Not only does this research offer more support for encouraging people to change their eating habits, it is an important first step toward identifying drug targets that affect how our genes express themselves.”

Public release date: 30-Jun-2010

Honey as an antibiotic: Scientists identify a secret ingredient in honey that kills bacteria

New research in the FASEB Journal shows that defensin-1, a protein added to honey by bees, possesses potent antibacterial properties and could be used again drug-resistant bacteria

Sweet news for those looking for new antibiotics: A new research published in the July 2010 print edition of the FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) explains for the first time how honey kills bacteria. Specifically, the research shows that bees make a protein that they add to the honey, called defensin-1, which could one day be used to treat burns and skin infections and to develop new drugs that could combat antibiotic-resistant infections.

“We have completely elucidated the molecular basis of the antibacterial activity of a single medical-grade honey, which contributes to the applicability of honey in medicine,” said Sebastian A.J. Zaat, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam. “Honey or isolated honey-derived components might be of great value for prevention and treatment of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

To make the discovery, Zaat and colleagues investigated the antibacterial activity of medical-grade honey in test tubes against a panel of antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria. They developed a method to selectively neutralize the known antibacterial factors in honey and determine their individual antibacterial contributions. Ultimately, researchers isolated the defensin-1 protein, which is part of the honey bee immune system and is added by bees to honey. After analysis, the scientists concluded that the vast majority of honey’s antibacterial properties come from that protein. This information also sheds light on the inner workings of honey bee immune systems, which may one day help breeders create healthier and heartier honey bees.

“We’ve known for millennia that honey can be good for what ails us, but we haven’t known how it works,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, “Now that we’ve extracted a potent antibacterial ingredient from honey, we can make it still more effective and take the sting out of bacterial infections.”

Public release date: 30-Jun-2010

New insights into link between anti-cholesterol statin drugs and depression

Scientists are reporting a possible explanation for the symptoms of anxiety and depression that occur in some patients taking the popular statin family of anti-cholesterol drugs, and reported by some individuals on low-cholesterol diets. These symptoms could result from long-term, low levels of cholesterol in the brain, the report suggests. It appears in ACS’ weekly journal Biochemistry.

Amitabha Chattopadhyay and colleagues note in the study that statins work by blocking a key enzyme involved in the body’s production of cholesterol. Some studies link the drugs to an increased risk of anxiety and depression, but the reasons are unclear. The scientists previously showed that maintaining normal cholesterol levels is important for the function of cell receptors for serotonin, a brain hormone that influences mood and behavior. But the long-term effect of cholesterol depletion on these receptors, which can occur in patients taking anti-cholesterol drugs, is unknown.

The scientists turned to the statin medication mevastatin to find out. In lab tests using human serotonin receptors expressed in animal cells, they showed that long-term use of the drug caused significant changes in the structure and function of serotonin cell receptors. Adding cholesterol to cells treated with mevastatin restored them to normal. The results represent the first report describing the effect of long-term cholesterol depletion on this type of cell receptor and suggest that chronic, low cholesterol levels in the brain might trigger anxiety and depression, the scientists say.

Public release date: 30-Jun-2010

HIGH FRUCTOSE DIET MAY CONTRIBUTE TO HIGH

BLOOD PRESSURE

Eating Foods High in Fructose from Added Sugars Linked to Hypertension

Washington, DC (June 25, 2010) — People who eat a diet high in fructose, in the form

of added sugar, are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure, or

hypertension, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the

American Society Nephrology (JASN). The results suggest that cutting back on foods

and beverages containing a lot of fructose (sugar) might decrease one’s risk of

developing hypertension.

Hypertension is the most common chronic condition in developed countries and a major

risk factor for heart and kidney diseases. Researchers are striving to identify

environmental factors that might be responsible for the development of hypertension,

and they suspect that fructose may play a role. Over the past century, a dramatic

increase in the consumption of this simple sugar, which is used to sweeten a wide

variety of processed foods, mirrors the dramatic rise in the prevalence of hypertension.

To examine whether increased fructose consumption has contributed to rising rates of

hypertension, Diana Jalal, MD (University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center)

and her colleagues analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination

Survey (2003-2006). The study involved 4,528 US adults 18 years of age or older with no

prior history of hypertension. Study participants answered questions related to their

consumption of foods and beverages such as fruit juices, soft drinks, bakery products,

and candy. Dr. Jalal’s team found that people who consumed a diet of 74 grams or more

per day of fructose (corresponding to 2.5 sugary soft drinks per day) had a 26%, 30%,

and 77% higher risk for blood pressure levels of 135/85, 140/90, and 160/100 mmHg,

respectively. (A normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mmHg.)

 

“Our study identifies a potentially modifiable risk factor for high blood pressure.

However, well-planned prospective randomized clinical studies need to be completed to

see if low fructose diets will prevent the development of hypertension and its

complications,” said Dr. Jalal.

 

Public release date: 1-Jul-2010

 

Low vitamin D linked to the metabolic syndrome in elderly people

A new study adds to the mounting evidence that older adults commonly have low vitamin D levels and that vitamin D inadequacy may be a risk factor for the metabolic syndrome, a condition that affects one in four adults. The results were presented at The Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

“Because the metabolic syndrome increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, an adequate vitamin D level in the body might be important in the prevention of these diseases,” said study co-author Marelise Eekhoff, MD, PhD, of VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam.

The researchers found a 48 percent prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. The study consisted of a representative sample of the older Dutch population: nearly 1,300 white men and women ages 65 and older.

Nearly 37 percent of the total sample had the metabolic syndrome, a clustering of high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, abnormal cholesterol profile and high blood sugar.

Subjects with blood levels of vitamin D (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D) lower than 50 nanomoles per liter, considered vitamin D insufficiency, were likelier to have the metabolic syndrome than those whose vitamin D levels exceeded 50. That increased risk especially stemmed from the presence of two risk factors for the metabolic syndrome: low HDL, or “good” cholesterol, and a large waistline.

There was no difference in risk between men and women, the authors noted.

The study included subjects who were participating in the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Although the data were from 1995 and 1996, Eekhoff said they expect that vitamin D inadequacy remains prevalent among whites in the Netherlands.

Using follow-up data from 2009, the researchers plan to study how many of the subjects with low vitamin D levels developed diabetes.

“It is important to investigate the exact role of vitamin D in diabetes to find new and maybe easy ways to prevent it and cardiovascular disease,” Eekhoff said.

 

Public release date: 1-Jul-2010

 

Increasing Fertility Threefold

 

TAU finds anti-aging supplement is a fountain of hope for would-be mothers

According to the American Pregnancy Association, six million women a year deal with infertility. Now, a Tel Aviv University study is giving new hope to women who want to conceive — in the form of a pill they can find on their drugstore shelves right now.

Prof. Adrian Shulman of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Meir Medical Center has found a statistical connection between the over-the-counter vitamin supplement DHEA, used to counter the effects of aging, and successful pregnancy rates in women undergoing treatment for infertility.

In the first controlled study on the effects of the supplement, Prof. Shulman found that women being treated for infertility who also received supplements of DHEA were three times more likely to conceive than women being treated without the additional drug. The results were recently published in AYALA, the journal of the Israeli Fertility Association.

A natural supplement to fertility treatments

After hearing anecdotal evidence from his patients and the medical community on the benefits of combining fertility treatments with DHEA, a supplement marketed as an anti-aging drug around the world, Prof. Shulman decided to put this old wives’ tale to the statistical test.

He and his fellow researchers conducted a study in which a control group of women received treatment for poor ovulation, and another group received the same treatment with the addition of the DHEA supplement. The latter group took 75mg of the supplement daily for 40 days before starting fertility treatments, and continued for up to five months.

Not only were women who combined infertility treatment with DHEA more likely to conceive, the researchers discovered, they were also more likely to experience a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

“In the DHEA group, there was a 23% live birth rate as opposed to a 4% rate in the control group,” explains Shulman. “More than that, of the pregnancies in the DHEA group, all but one ended in healthy deliveries.”

Making grade-A eggs?

Shulman believes that women who are finding little success with their current fertility treatments could look to DHEA to improve their chances of conceiving. “We recommend that women try this DHEA treatment, in conjunction with fertility treatments, for four to five months,” says Prof. Shulman. It could also be used as a regular “vitamin” for women who have already conceived and are pregnant, but more research would need to be done on the compound to determine its effects, says Prof. Shulman.

DHEA, for 5-Dehydroepiandrosterone (5-DHEA), is a naturally-occurring steroid found in the brain, which plays an important biological role in humans and other mammals. Produced in the adrenal glands, it is also synthesized in the brain. The pharmaceutical version of this molecule is known as Prastera, Prasterone, Fidelin and Fluasterone, and identical generics are widely available over the counter in the United States without a prescription. Women interested in using DHEA to conceive, however, should consult their practitioner first, suggests Prof. Shulman, a gynecologist and director of the IVF Unit of the Obstetric and Gynecology Department at Meir Medical Center.

While studies on the effects of DHEA are far from complete — his test group only included around 20 women — Prof. Shulman hopes that further research will unlock the secrets of why the supplement aids in successful conception in women with an otherwise poor response to fertility treatments. “We need to look into what the drug actually does to make the body more fertile,” he says. “It could be affecting components such as the quality of the eggs or the follicles.”

Public release date: 5-Jul-2010

Antioxidants do help arteries stay healthy

Long-term supplementation with dietary antioxidants has beneficial effects on sugar and fat metabolism, blood pressure and arterial flexibility in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access journal Nutrition and Metabolism report these positive results in a randomized controlled trial of combined vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and selenium capsules.

Reuven Zimlichman worked with a team of researchers from Wolfson Medical Center, Israel, to carry out the study in 70 patients from the centre’s hypertension clinic. He said, “Antioxidant supplementation significantly increased large and small artery elasticity in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. This beneficial vascular effect was associated with an improvement in glucose and lipid metabolism as well as significant decrease in blood pressure”.

Previous results from clinical trials into the cardiovascular health effects of antioxidants have been equivocal. In order to shed more light onto the matter, Zimlichman and his colleagues randomised the 70 patients to receive either antioxidants or placebo capsules for six months. Tests at the beginning of the trial, after three months and at the six month mark revealed that the patients in the antioxidant group had more elastic arteries (a measure of increased cardiovascular health) and better blood sugar and cholesterol profiles. According to Zimlichman, “The findings of the present study justify investigating the overall clinical impact of antioxidant treatment in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors”.

 

Public release date: 5-Jul-2010

Cocoa flavanols could more than double cells associated with repair and maintenance of blood vessels, according to Mars Inc. research

First-of-its-kind research suggests cocoa flavanols could be an important part of a healthy diet for people with cardiovascular disease

McLean, VA (July 5, 2010) – New findings indicate that cocoa flavanols may be an important part of a healthy diet for people with cardiovascular disease, which affects more than 80 million Americans, according to research by a team of internationally-renowned researchers, including scientists from Mars, Incorporated.

The breakthrough study conducted at the University of California San Francisco and published in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) found that daily cocoa flavanol consumption more than doubled the number of circulating angiogenic cells (CACs) in the blood. These cells have been shown to have vessel repair and maintenance functions, which can contribute to healthy blood vessels. Poor blood vessel function is recognized as an early stage in the development process of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including coronary artery disease. Increasing levels of CACs have also been associated with a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular causes, according to a 2005 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Other cutting-edge research has demonstrated that physical activity and experimental drug therapy can increase CAC levels, however the study published in JACC is the first to demonstrate such benefits from a dietary intervention. In this randomized, double-masked, controlled dietary intervention trial, study participants drank either a high-flavanol cocoa drink, containing cocoa made with the Mars Cocoapro® process (which guarantees a consistent flavanol level), or a low-flavanol nutrient-matched control cocoa drink, twice a day for 30 days.

The study also showed that drinking high-flavanol cocoa significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, an important risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and improved blood vessel function by 47% compared to low-flavanol consumption in optimally-medicated adults with severe cardiovascular disease. This research supports findings previously published by Mars scientists and their academic collaborators, who have found a positive correlation between cocoa flavanols consumed and subsequent improvements in flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a measure of vessel health, i.e. the ability of a vessel to relax.

“It’s the best of both worlds. It’s not often that we’re able to identify a natural food compound that can demonstrate a benefit on top of traditional medical treatment,” said Carl Keen, PhD, Professor of Nutrition and Internal Medicine at University of California Davis and one of the study authors. “And perhaps most importantly, for the first time, we found that cocoa flavanols might even directly mobilize important cells that could repair damaged blood vessels. The benefits are substantial, without any observed adverse effects,” added study author Christian Heiss, MD, Heinrich-Heine University.

“Together with academic partners, Mars Incorporated has been studying cocoa flavanols for nearly two decades,” said Hagen Schroeter, PhD, Mars, Incorporated scientist and study co-author. “This is one of the most fascinating and potentially far-reaching findings we’ve uncovered in recent years, opening a completely new avenue of research to understand how cocoa flavanols might benefit human health. Of course, more research is needed to confirm and build upon these observations, but we’re intrigued by the potential for flavanols in the context of dietary and pharmaceutical strategies for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.”

Cocoa Flavanols: The Body of Evidence

A number of previously published studies already suggest that the consumption of cocoa flavanols can have important beneficial effects on the function of the body’s network of blood vessels. Yet, contrary to statements often made in the popular media, the collective research demonstrates that the cardiovascular effects of cocoa flavanols are independent of general “antioxidant” effects that cocoa flavanols exhibit in a test tube, outside of the body. The body of research not only suggests that these cocoa flavanols may provide a dietary approach to maintaining cardiovascular function and health, but also points to new possibilities for cocoa flavanol-based interventions associated with age-related blood vessel dysfunction and vascular complications of type 2 diabetes.

________________________________

 

These reports are done with the appreciation of all the Doctors, Scientist, and other

Medical Researchers who sacrificed their time and effort. In order to give people the

ability to empower themselves. Without the base aspirations for fame, or fortune.

Just honorable people, doing honorable things.

Researchers recommend pregnant women take 4,000 IU vitamin D a day

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Susan Martin ssmartin@aap.org 847-434-7877 American Academy of Pediatrics

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy is not only safe for mother and baby, but also can prevent preterm labor/births and infections, according to results of a randomized controlled study to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

In the 1950s and ’60s, people were concerned that vitamin D could cause birth defects, according to Carol L. Wagner, MD, lead author of the study and a pediatric researcher at Medical University of South Carolina. It now is known that vitamin D is important for maternal and infant health, including bone health and immune function.

Recent studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is a serious public health issue.

“Diet doesn’t provide enough vitamin D, and we don’t go in the sun as much as we need,” Dr. Wagner said.

Therefore, she and her colleagues, including Bruce W. Hollis, PhD, who has worked in the field of vitamin D research for the last 30 years, set out to determine the optimal dose of vitamin D supplements for pregnant women without doing harm.

Researchers randomized 494 pregnant women at 12-16 weeks’ gestation into three treatment groups. Group one received 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D a day until delivery; group two received 2,000 IU and group three received 4,000 IU. The women were evaluated monthly to ensure safety.

“No adverse events related to vitamin D dosing were found in any of the three arms of the study,” Dr. Wagner said.

Investigators also looked at the effects of vitamin D supplementation on complications during pregnancy, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, infections, and preterm labor and birth.

“The spectacular part of the study was it showed women replete in vitamin D had lower rates of preterm labor and preterm birth, and lower rates of infection,” Dr. Wagner said.

The greatest effects were seen among women taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day. Therefore, the researchers recommend this daily regimen for all pregnant women.

###

Dr. Wagner will discuss the two parts of the study in separate presentations. The outcomes of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy will be presented on Saturday, May 1, and the safety of vitamin D supplementation will be presented on Sunday, May 2.

To view part 1 of the study on safety, go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS10L1_2450&terms. To view part 2 of the study on outcomes, go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS10L1_2481&terms.

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations who co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting – the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all share a common mission of fostering the health and well being of children worldwide. For more information, visit www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc.

Foetus suffers when mother lacks vitamin C

Healthy pregnancy

Maternal vitamin C deficiency during pregnancy can have serious consequences for the foetal brain. And once brain damage has occurred, it cannot be reversed by vitamin C supplements after birth. This is shown through new research at the University of Copenhagen just published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

vitamin C supplements are important during pregnancy.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons af Tom & Katrien.

Population studies show that between 10-20 per cent of all adults in the developed world suffer from vitamin C deficiency. Therefore, pregnant women should think twice about omitting the daily vitamin pill.

“Even marginal vitamin C deficiency in the mother stunts the foetal hippocampus, the important memory centre, by 10-15 per cent, preventing the brain from optimal development,” says Professor Jens Lykkesfeldt. He heads the group of scientists that reached this conclusion by studying pregnant guinea pigs and their pups. Just like humans, guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C themselves, which is why they were chosen as the model.

“We used to think that the mother could protect the baby. Ordinarily there is a selective transport from mother to foetus of the substances the baby needs during pregnancy. However, it now appears that the transport is not sufficient in the case of vitamin C deficiency. Therefore it is extremely important to draw attention to this problem, which potentially can have serious consequences for the children affected,” says Jens Lykkesfeldt.

Too late when damage is done

The new results sharpen the focus on the mother’s lifestyle and nutritional status during pregnancy. The new study has also shown that the damage done to the foetal brain cannot be repaired, even if the baby is given vitamin C after birth.
When the vitamin C deficient guinea pig pups were born, scientists divided them into two groups and gave one group vitamin C supplements. However, when the pups were two months old, which corresponds to teenage in humans, there was still no improvement in the group that had been given supplements.
The scientists are now working to find out how early in the pregnancy vitamin C deficiency influences the development of foetal guinea pigs. Preliminary results show that the impact is already made early in the pregnancy, as the foetuses were examined in the second and third trimesters. Scientists hope in the long term to be able to use population studies to illuminate the problem in humans.

Vulnerable groups

There are some groups that may be particularly vulnerable of vitamin C deficiency:
“People with low economic status who eat poorly – and perhaps also smoke – often suffer from vitamin C deficiency. Comparatively speaking, their children risk being born with a poorly developed memory potential. These children may encounter learning problems, and seen in a societal context, history repeats itself because these children find it more difficult to escape the environment into which they are born,” says Jens Lykkesfeldt.
He emphasises that if pregnant women eat a varied diet, do not smoke, and for instance take a multi-vitamin tablet daily during pregnancy, there is no reason to fear vitamin C deficiency.
“Because it takes so little to avoid vitamin C deficiency, it is my hope that both politicians and the authorities will become aware that this can be a potential problem,” concludes Jens Lykkesfeldt.

Read the article in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Contact

Professor Jens Lykkesfeldt, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Biomedicine
Phone: +45 35333125

Eating more fish could reduce postpartum depression

Contact: William Raillant-Clark
w.raillant-clark@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal

Emerging evidence suggests many pregnant women are deficient in omega-3

This release is available in French.

Low levels of omega-3 may be behind postpartum depression, according to a review lead by Gabriel Shapiro of the University of Montreal and the Research Centre at the Sainte-Justine Mother and Child Hospital. Women are at the highest risk of depression during their childbearing years, and the birth of a child may trigger a depressive episode in vulnerable women. Postpartum depression is associated with diminished maternal health as well as developmental and health problems for her child. “The literature shows that there could be a link between pregnancy, omega-3 and the chemical reaction that enables serotonin, a mood regulator, to be released into our brains,” Shapiro said. “Many women could bring their omega-3 intake to recommended levels.” The findings were announced by the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry on November 15, 2012.

Because omega-3 is transferred from the mother to her fetus and later to her breastfeeding infant, maternal omega-3 levels decrease during pregnancy, and remain lowered for at least six-weeks following the birth. Furthermore, in addition to the specific biological circumstances of pregnant women, it has been found in the US that most people do not consume sufficient amounts of omega-3. “These findings suggest that new screening strategies and prevention practices may be useful,” Shapiro said, noting that the study was preliminary and the further research would be needed to clarify the link and identify the reasons for it.

BPA shown to disrupt thyroid function in pregnant animals and offspring

Contact: Aaron Lohr
alohr@endo-society.org
240-482-1380
The Endocrine Society

New study uses animal model similar to humans and shows BPA can affect thyroid function

Chevy Chase, MD –– In utero exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) can be associated with decreased thyroid function in newborn sheep, according to a recent study accepted for publication in Endocrinology, a journal of The Endocrine Society. Hypothyroidism is characterized by poor mental and physical performance in human adults and in children can result in cognitive impairment and failure to grow normally.

BPA, a major molecule used in the plastic industry, has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor that could exert deleterious effects on human health. Most investigations have focused on reproductive functions, but there is evidence that BPA might have negative effects on other endocrine systems including thyroid function. The current study used sheep, a relevant model for human pregnancy and thyroid regulation and ontogeny, and analyzed the internal exposures of the fetuses and their mothers to BPA and determined to what extent those exposures may be associated with thyroid disruption.

“Our study is the first to show that BPA can alter thyroid function of pregnant animals and their offspring in a long-gestation species with similar regulation of thyroid function as humans,” said Catherine Viguié, PhD, of Toxalim, Research Centre in Food Toxicology in Toulouse, France and lead author of the study. “Because of the potential consequences of maternal/fetal thyroid disruption on neural and cognitive development, we think that our study warrants the need for further investigations on the effect of BPA on thyroid function.”

This study was conducted on adult ewes that had multiple pregnancies before being included in the experiment. Some of the pregnant ewes received daily subcutaneous injections of BPA while the remainder were allocated to the control group. Blood samples were taken from jugular blood, amniotic fluid, placenta samples and cord blood to determine levels of BPA, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine. Results showed that maternal and fetal exposure to BPA was associated with disruption of thyroid function of both the pregnant ewes throughout pregnancy and the newborns as characterized by a decrease in circulating thyroxine levels.

“BPA concentrations in the mother blood in this experiment were fluctuating between injections from 15 to 1 time the highest blood levels reported in pregnant women in the literature,” notes Viguié. “As a consequence, although this study clearly indicates that BPA has the potential to alter thyroid function in living pregnant animals and their offspring, it cannot be considered as fully conclusive in terms of risk for human health in the actual conditions of exposure of human populations.”

“In other words, although our study clearly indicates that BPA-induced thyroid disruption is possible, it does not indicate how probable such a disruption is to occur in real conditions,” added Viguié. “Thus, the main merit of our work is to encourage others, including epidemiologists, to scrutinize and qualify carefully such a probability.”

 

###

Other researchers working on the study include: Séverine Collet, Véronique Gayrard, Nicole Picard-Hagen, Sylvie Puel, Béatrice Roques, Pierre-Louis Toutain and Marlène Lacroix of Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Toxalim, and the Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Toulouse (ENVT), Université de Toulouse in France.

The article, “Maternal and fetal exposure to bisphenol A is associated to alterations of thyroid function in pregnant ewes and their newborn lambs,” appears in the January 2013 issue of Endocrinology.

Founded in 1916, The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, The Endocrine Society’s membership consists of over 15,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 100 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endo-society.org. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/EndoMedia.

Exposure to BPA may cause permanent fertility defects, Yale researchers find

2010 study posted for filing
Contact: Karen N. Peart
karen.peart@yale.edu
203-432-1326
Yale University

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have discovered that exposure during pregnancy to Bisphenol A (BPA), a common component of plastics, causes permanent abnormalities in the uterus of offspring, including alteration in their DNA. The findings were reported in the March issue of Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB J.).

Led by Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale, the study is the first to show that BPA exposure permanently affects sensitivity to estrogen.

Taylor and his team used two groups of mice, one exposed to BPA as a fetus during pregnancy and another exposed to a placebo. They examined gene expression and the amount of DNA modification in the uterus. They found that the mice exposed to BPA as a fetus had an exaggerated response to estrogens as adults, long after the exposure to BPA. The genes were permanently programmed to respond excessively to estrogen.

“The DNA in the uterus was modified by loss of methyl groups so that it responded abnormally in adulthood,” said Taylor. “The gene expression was permanently epigenetically altered and the uterus became hyper-responsive to estrogens.”

Taylor said that exposure to BPA as a fetus is carried throughout adulthood. “What our mothers were exposed to in pregnancy may influence the rest of our lives. We need to better identify the effect of environmental contaminants on not just crude measures such as birth defects, but also their effect in causing more subtle developmental errors.”

###

Citation: The FASEB Journal (Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) Vol. 24, Issue 3 (March 2010)

Study examines associations between antibiotic use during pregnancy and birth defects: sulfonamides and nitrofurantoins

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: CDC Division of Media Relations
media@cdc.gov
404-639-3286
JAMA and Archives Journals

Penicillin and several other antibacterial medications commonly taken by pregnant women do not appear to be associated with many birth defects, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. However, other antibiotics, such as sulfonamides and nitrofurantoins, may be associated with several severe birth defects and require additional scrutiny.

Treating infections is critical to the health of a mother and her baby, according to background information in the article. Therefore, bacteria-fighting medications are among the most commonly used drugs during pregnancy. Although some classes of antibiotics appear to have been used safely during pregnancy, no large-scale studies have examined safety or risks involved with many classes of antibacterial medications.

Krista S. Crider, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from 13,155 women whose pregnancies were affected by one of more than 30 birth defects (cases). The information was collected by surveillance programs in 10 states as part of the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. The researchers compared antibacterial use before and during pregnancy between these women and 4,941 randomly selected control women who lived in the same geographical regions but whose babies did not have birth defects.

Antibacterial use among all women increased during pregnancy, peaking during the third month. A total of 3,863 mothers of children with birth defects (29.4 percent) and 1,467 control mothers (29.7 percent) used antibacterials sometime between three months before pregnancy and the end of pregnancy.

“Reassuringly, penicillins, erythromycins and cephalosporins, although used commonly by pregnant women, were not associated with many birth defects,” the authors write. Two defects were associated with erythromycins (used by 1.5 percent of the mothers whose children had birth defects and 1.6 percent of controls), one with penicillins (used by 5.5 percent of case mothers and 5.9 percent of controls), one with cephalosporins (used by 1 percent of both cases and controls) and one with quinolones (used by 0.3 percent of both cases and controls).

Two medications—sulfonamides and nitrofurantoins (each used by 1.1 percent of cases and 0.9 percent of controls)—were associated with several birth defects, suggesting that additional study is needed before they can be safely prescribed to pregnant women.

“Determining the causes of birth defects is problematic,” the authors write. “A single defect can have multiple causes, or multiple seemingly unrelated defects may have a common cause. This study could not determine the safety of drugs during pregnancy, but the lack of widespread increased risk associated with many classes of antibacterials used during pregnancy should be reassuring.”

 

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(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163[11]:978-985. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor’s Note: The National Birth Defects Prevention Study is funded by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures,

 

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Problems Associated with Low Folate Levels in Pregnant Women

2009 study posted for filing

 

It has long been suggested that healthy folate (the natural form of folic acid) levels in expectant mothers goes hand in hand with healthy nervous system development in their children. A study published in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry finds that low maternal folate levels is linked to the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity problems in children at age seven to nine years.

 

Researcher Dr. Wolff Schlotz points out, “Our findings further support the hypothesis that maternal nutrition contributes to an individuals’ development, with potential consequences for their behavior later in life.” The long term effects of poor maternal nutrition may even branch out to the child’s ability to interact with peers or form social bonds.

 

The researchers also found that children born from mothers with a low folate status had a notably smaller head circumference at birth, which may indicate a smaller rate of prenatal brain growth in children adversely affected by low folate levels. This is a cause for concern among low-income populations where the nutritional health of the mother is a low priority, and women are less likely to take folate supplements in advance of pregnancy.

Mortality Rates Reduced among Children Whose Mothers Received Iron-folic Acid Supplements ( 31 percent reduction )

2009 study posted for filing

Offspring whose mothers had been supplemented with iron-folic acid during pregnancy had dramatically reduced mortality through age 7, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Researchers found that other supplement combinations, including the multiple micronutrient supplement, did not confer the same benefit. Nearly 40 percent of pregnant women worldwide are estimated to be anemic. Although there is an international policy for antenatal iron-folic acid supplementation, coverage and use of this antenatal intervention is low in many developing countries. The results are featured in the September 24 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

“In a setting where maternal iron deficiency and anemia are common, we found a 31 percent reduction in childhood mortality due to maternal antenatal and postnatal supplementation with iron-folic acid compared to a control,” said Parul Christian, DrPH, MSc, lead author of the study and an associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health. “A reduction in mortality resulting from an intervention, such as iron-folic acid supplementation during pregnancy, provides a new and previously unreported evidence of benefit to offspring during childhood. To our knowledge this is the first time the long-term effects of maternal iron-folic acid supplementation on childhood survival have been examined.”

Christian and colleagues examined the long-term impact of micronutrient supplementation on childhood survival, growth, and early markers of chronic disease among the offspring of women who received micronutrient supplementation. The study is a follow-up to a 1999 to 2001 randomized, double-masked trial of the administration of micronutrients during pregnancy to women in the rural southern plains district of Sarlahi, Nepal. At the time the team examined folic acid; folic acid-iron; folic acid-iron-zinc, as well as a multiple micronutrients that contained the foregoing plus 11 other micronutrients. Vitamin A alone was provided in the control group and each of the four supplement groups also contained vitamin A. They found that iron-folic acid supplementation relative to the control significantly reduced the prevalence of low birth weight by 16 percent and the prevalence of maternal anemia during pregnancy and the postpartum period by 50 percent.

“Supplementation with iron and folic acid during pregnancy is a common policy in many low- and middle-income countries, although implementation is typically not very good,” said James Tielsch, PhD, professor and associate chair for academic programs at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  “This policy has been motivated primarily by the beneficial effects of supplementation on anemia in pregnancy and maternal iron stores.  Following their previous demonstration that iron-folic acid supplementation during pregnancy increased birth weight, Christian, et al., have now provided unique data on the critical importance of this intervention for improving child survival.  This strong evidence should reenergize programs for the delivery of this critical intervention for maternal and child health.”

“Antenatal and Postnatal Iron Supplementation and Childhood Mortality in Rural Nepal: A Prospective Follow-up in a Randomized, controlled Community Trial” was written by Parul Christian, Christine P. Stewart, Steven C. LeClerq, Lee Wu, Joanne Katz, Keith P. West Jr., and Subarna K Khatry.

The research was supported by the Center for Human Nutrition; National Society for the Prevention of Blindness; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Sight and Life Research Institute; the National Institutes of Health; the US Agency for International Development and the Johns Hopkins University.

69th Health Research Report 10 NOV 2009 – Reconstruction

 

 

Editors Top Five:

1. Scientists discover influenza’s Achilles heel: Antioxidants

2. Commentary warns of unexpected consequences of (antacid) proton pump inhibitor use in reflux disease

3. First national zinc campaign for childhood diarrhea increases awareness, but use lags behind

4. Mortality Rates Reduced among Children Whose Mothers Received Iron-folic Acid Supplements

5. Acetaminophen may be linked to asthma in children and adults

In this issue:

1. Why fish oils help and how they could help even more

2. Statins show dramatic drug and cell dependent effects in the brain

3. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Problems Associated with Low Folate Levels in Pregnant Women

4. Mortality Rates Reduced among Children Whose Mothers Received Iron-folic Acid Supplements

5. Exercise Keeps Dangerous Visceral Fat Away a Year After Weight Loss, Finds UAB Study

6. High fructose corn syrup: A recipe for hypertension

7. Low vitamin D levels explains most ESRD risk in African-Americans

8. Scientists discover influenza’s Achilles heel: Antioxidants

9. Pregnant women risk early delivery from using psychiatric medication

10. Commentary warns of unexpected consequences of proton pump inhibitor use in reflux disease

11. First national zinc campaign for childhood diarrhea increases awareness, but use lags behind

12. Study examines associations between antibiotic use during pregnancy and birth defects

13. Statins may worsen symptoms in some cardiac patients

14. Children who often drink full-fat milk weigh less

15. Does green tea prevent cancer? Evidence continues to brew, but questions remain

16. Acetaminophen may be linked to asthma in children and adults

17. Researchers explore new ways to prevent spinal cord damage using a vitamin B3 precursor

18. Antimicrobials: Silver (and copper) bullets to kill bacteria

19. People with less education could be more susceptible to the flu


Health Research Report

69th  Issue Date 10 NOV 2009

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm www.facebook.com/engineeringevil

www.engineeringevil.com

 

 

Medications that block folic acid are associated with increased birth abnormalities

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Jennifer Beal
medicalnews@wiley.com
44-124-377-0633
Wiley-Blackwell

Don’t block folic acid in early pregnancy

Using medication that reduces or blocks the actions of folic acid during the first trimester of pregnancy (weeks 1-12), increases the risk that the growing baby will develop abnormalities. This conclusion was reached by a team of Epidemiologists, Paediatricians, Clinical Pharmacologists, Obstetricians and Gynaecologists who examined birth and abortion data collected in Israel between 1998 and 2007.

The study drew information from 84,832 babies born at Soroka Medical Center, in Beer-Sheva, Israel. It was carried out as part of the PhD dissertation of Mgr. Ilan Matok, supervised by principal investigators Dr. Amalia Levy and Prof. Rafael Gorodischer from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, in collaboration with the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada (the BeMORE collaboration).

“After studying the data we concluded that first trimester exposure to folic acid antagonists is associated with increased risk for neural tube, cardiovascular and urinary tract defects,” says paediatrician and clinical pharmacologist Rafael Gorodischer.

Healthcare professionals now encourage women to take folic acid supplements or eat food fortified with folic acid if they are planning to get pregnant as well as during early pregnancy, because there is clear evidence that this reduces the risk of any resulting baby having neural tube defects and possibly other birth defects (congenital malformations).

The team considered the effects of two groups of medications on pregnancy. Each group consists of drugs that prevent folic acid working in the body. One group (dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors), prevents folate being converted into its active metabolites and includes trimethoprim, sulfasalazine and methotrexate. The other medications are known to lower serum and tissue concentrations of folate by various mechanisms, and include antiepileptics (carbamazepine, phenytoin, lamotrigine, primidone, valproic acid and phenobarbital), and cholestyramine.

“The study shows that exposure to folic acid antagonists in the first trimester of pregnancy, more than doubled the risk of congenital malformations in the fetus, and that neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and malformations of the brain, are increased by more than six fold after exposure to these antagonists,” said epidemiologist Dr. Amalia Levy.

“Clinicians should try to avoid the use of these drugs whenever possible in women contemplating pregnancy,” concluded Gorodischer.

Prenatal exposure to environmental pollutants affect a child’s intelligence quotient or IQ : polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

2009 study posted for filing

 

July 20, 2009 — Prenatal exposure to environmental pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can adversely affect a child’s intelligence quotient or IQ, according to new research by the the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) at the Mailman School of Public Health. PAHs are chemicals released into the air from the burning of coal, diesel, oil and gas, or other organic substances such as tobacco. In urban areas motor vehicles are a major source of PAHs. The study findings are published in the August 2009 issue of Pediatrics.

 

The study, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a component of the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several private foundations, found that children exposed to high levels of PAHs in New York City had full scale and verbal IQ scores that were 4.31 and 4.67 points lower, respectively than those of less exposed children. High PAH levels were defined as above the median of 2.26 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3).

 

“These findings are of concern because these decreases in IQ could be educationally meaningful in terms of school performance,” says Frederica Perera, DrPH, professor of Environmental Health Sciences and director of the CCCEH at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and study lead author. “The good news is that we have seen a decline in air pollution exposure in our cohort since 1998, testifying to the importance of policies to reduce traffic congestion and other sources of fossil fuel combustion byproducts.”

 

The study included children who were born to non-smoking Black and Dominican American women age 18 to 35 who resided in Washington Heights, Harlem or the South Bronx in New York. The children were followed from in utero to 5 years of age. The mothers wore personal air monitors during pregnancy to measure exposure to PAHs and they responded to questionnaires.

 

At 5 years of age, 249 children were given an intelligence test known as the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of the Intelligence, which provides verbal, performance and full-scale IQ scores. The researchers developed models to calculate the associations between prenatal PAH exposure and IQ. They accounted for other factors such as second-hand smoke exposure, lead, mother’s education and the quality of the home caretaking environment. Study participants exposed to air pollution levels below the average were designated as having “low exposure,” while those exposed to pollution levels above the average were identified as “high exposure.” A total of 140 children were classified as having high PAH exposure.

 

“The decrease in full-scale IQ score among the more exposed children is similar to that seen with low-level lead exposure,” noted Dr. Perera. “This finding is of concern because IQ is an important predictor of future academic performance, and PAHs are widespread in urban environments and throughout the world. Fortunately, airborne PAH concentrations can be reduced through currently available controls, alternative energy sources and policy interventions.”

Plastics chemical retards growth, function of adult reproductive cells : Bisphenol A

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Diana Yates

diya@illinois.edu

217-333-5802

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Bisphenol A, a chemical widely used in plastics and known to cause reproductive problems in the offspring of pregnant mice exposed to it, also has been found to retard the growth of follicles of adult mice and hinder their production of steroid hormones, researchers report.

Their study is the first to show that chronic exposure to low doses of BPA can impair the growth and function of adult reproductive cells. The researchers will describe their findings this month at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction.

A healthy, mature follicle, called an antral follicle, includes a single egg cell surrounded by layers of cells and fluid which support the egg and produce steroid hormones, said University of Illinois veterinary biosciences professor Jodi Flaws, who led the study with graduate student Jackye Peretz.

“These are the only follicles that are capable of ovulating and so if they don’t grow properly they’re not going to ovulate and there could be fertility issues,” Flaws said. “These follicles also make sex steroid hormones, and so if they don’t grow properly you’re not going to get proper amounts of these hormones.” Such hormones are essential for reproduction, she said, “but they’re also required for healthy bones, a healthy heart and a healthy mood.”

BPA is widely used in plastics and is a common component of food containers and baby bottles.

The chemical structure of BPA is similar to that of estradiol, a key steroid hormone, and it can bind to estrogen receptors on the surface of some cells. It is not known whether BPA blocks, or mimics or enhances estrogen’s activity on these cells, Flaws said.

Human studies have found BPA in many tissues and fluids, including urine, blood, breast milk, the amniotic fluid of pregnant women and the antral fluid of mature follicles. A national survey conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2003-2004 found BPA in 93 percent of the 2,517 people (age 6 and up) who were tested.

BPA has a short half-life, Peretz said, and the chemical is quickly eliminated from the body. The fact that so many people tested positive “probably means that we’re being constantly exposed to BPA,” she said. The new study found that follicle growth was impaired after 48 hours of exposure to BPA, Peretz said. Reductions in three key steroid hormones – progesterone, testosterone and estradiol – were also seen after 120 hours of exposure to BPA.

The drop in steroid hormone production was quite dramatic. After 120 hours in a medium that included 10 micrograms per milliliter of BPA, mouse follicle cells produced about 85 percent less estradiol, 97 percent less progesterone and 95 percent less testosterone. Lower doses of BPA had a less dramatic – but still considerable – dampening effect on steroid hormone levels. And at 120 hours, follicle cells grown in the BPA medium were 25 percent smaller than normal, the researchers report.

A review of the health risks of BPA by the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded in 2008 that while BPA has been shown to harm the reproductive health of laboratory animals in some studies, such adverse effects “are observed at levels of exposure that far exceed those encountered by humans.”

However, the NTP reported that laboratory studies that showed effects in animals exposed to low doses of BPA led it to have “some concern for effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A.”

The new study points to possible concerns in adults as well, Flaws said.

“I think there’s a need for more studies where people look in adult humans to see if BPA is affecting follicle growth and steroid hormone levels,” she said. If it is, that might help explain some infertility or menopausal symptoms, she said.

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Editor’s note: To reach Jodi Flaws, call 217-333-7933; e-mail jflaws@illinois.edu.

Dioxins in Food Chain Linked to Breastfeeding Ills

2009 study posted for filing

Exposure to dioxins during pregnancy harms the cells in rapidly-changing breast tissue, which may explain why some women have trouble breastfeeding or don’t produce enough milk, according to a University of Rochester Medical Center study.

Researchers believe their findings, although only demonstrated in mice at this point, begin to address an area of health that impacts millions of women but has received little attention in the laboratory, said corresponding author B. Paige Lawrence, Ph.D., associate professor of Environmental Medicine and of Microbiology and Immunology at URMC.

“Estimates are that three to six million mothers worldwide are either unable to initiate breastfeeding or are unable to produce enough milk to nourish their infants,” Lawrence said. “But the cause of this problem is unclear, though it has been suggested that environmental contaminants might play a role. We showed definitively that a known and abundant pollutant has an adverse effect on the way mammary glands develop during pregnancy.”

Dioxins are generated mostly by the incineration of municipal and medical waste, especially certain plastics. Most people are exposed through diet. Dioxins get into the food supply when air emissions settle on farm fields and where livestock graze. Fish also ingest dioxins and related pollutants from contaminated waters. When humans take in dioxin – most often through meat, dairy products, fish and shellfish – the toxin settles in fatty tissues; natural elimination takes place very slowly. The typical human exposure is a daily low dose, which has been linked to possible impairment of the immune system and developing organs.

In 2004 Lawrence’s laboratory made the novel discovery that dioxin impairs the normal development of mammary glands during pregnancy. However, the underlying mechanisms were unclear, as was the extent of injury and whether exposure during certain stages of pregnancy had more or less of an impact on milk production.

This week, in an online report in Toxicological Sciences, researchers showed that dioxin has a profound effect on breast tissue by causing mammary cells to stop their natural cycle of proliferation as early as six days into pregnancy, and lasting through mid-pregnancy. In tissue samples from mice, exposure to dioxin caused a 50-percent decrease in new epithelial cells. This is important, Lawrence said, because mammary glands have a high rate of cell proliferation, especially during early to mid-pregnancy when the most rapid development of the mammary gland occurs.

Researchers also found that dioxin altered the induction of milk-producing genes, which occurs around the ninth day of pregnancy, and decreased the number of ductal branches and mature lobules in the mammary tissue.

The timing of dioxin exposure also seemed to be significant, the study noted. For example, when exposure occurs very early in pregnancy but not later, lab experiments showed that sometimes the mammary glands can partially recover from the cellular injury. However, although it is important to understand timing of exposure for research purposes, it is irrelevant for humans, who cannot really control their exposure to dioxins, Lawrence said.

“Our goal is not to find a safe window of exposure for humans, but to better understand how dioxins affect our health,” she said. “The best thing people who are concerned about this can do is think about what you eat and where your food comes from. We’re not suggesting that we all become vegans — but we hope this study raises awareness about how our food sources can increase the burden of pollutants in the body. Unfortunately, we have very little control over this, except perhaps through the legislative process.”

Much of Lawrence’s research focuses on a transcription factor known as aryl hydrocarbon receptor, or AhR.When pollutants enter the body they bind to AhR, which then turns on certain genes responsible for detoxification. By using dioxin to activate AhR, researchers have learned that dioxin impairs the ability to fight off infection. The link between dioxin and the immune system is still being studied, but meanwhile researchers looked further at the mammary tissue after observing coincidentally that cells involved in milk production were sustaining so much damage that rodents could not nourish their offspring.

The next step is to understand what controls the differentiation process. An important question to answer, Lawrence said, is whether the toxic harm is occurring directly in the breast, or if it occurs throughout the entire body but has a unique manifestation in the fatty mammary tissue.

The URMC research group is also studying a possible connection between dioxin and breast cancer.Their hypothesis is that dioxin exposure in some people might cancel the general protection that pregnancy has on breast tissue against breast cancer.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the URMC Environmental Health Sciences Center, as well as the Art BeCAUSE Foundation of Boston, which funds breast-cancer related research.

Exposure to insecticide may play role in obesity epidemic among some women: DDE, DDT

Contact: Jason Cody
codyja@msu.edu
517-432-0924
Michigan State University

Researchers study fish-eater cohort along Lake Michigan

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Prenatal exposure to an insecticide commonly used up until the 1970s may play a role in the obesity epidemic in women, according to a new study involving several Michigan State University researchers.

More than 250 mothers who live along and eat fish from Lake Michigan were studied for their exposure to DDE – a breakdown of DDT. The study, published as an editor’s choice in this month’s edition of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, analyzed DDE levels of the women’s offspring.

Compared to the group with the lowest levels, those with intermediate levels gained an average of 13 pounds excess weight, and those with higher levels gained more than 20 pounds of excess weight.

“Prenatal exposure to toxins is increasingly being looked at as a potential cause for the rise in obesity seen worldwide,” said Janet Osuch, a professor of surgery and epidemiology at MSU’s College of Human Medicine, who was one of the lead authors of the study. “What we have found for the first time is exposure to certain toxins by eating fish from polluted waters may contribute to the obesity epidemic in women.”

Though DDT was banned in 1973 after three decades of widespread use, the chemical and its byproducts remain toxic in marine life and fatty fish. The study was funded by a $300,000 grant from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Osuch said the study’s findings can have a huge impact on how researchers treat – and seek to prevent – obesity. The research team has been awarded a $1 million grant from the same federal agency, the ATSDR, to assess the impact of pollutants and toxins on a wide variety of disorders by determining the importance of second- and third-generation health effects.

“This line of research can transform how we think about the causes of obesity and potentially help us create prenatal tests to show which offspring are at higher risks,” she said.

The mothers who were studied are part of a larger cohort of Michigan fish eaters along Lake Michigan who were recruited in the early 1970s. In 2000, Osuch and research partners approached the cohort and began to identify daughters aged 20 to 50 years old.

“These findings not only apply to the offspring of women in our cohort but to any woman who has been exposed to high levels of DDE when she was growing in her mother’s womb,” Osuch said. “Mothers with the highest DDE levels are women who have consumed a lot of fish or high-fat meats.”

Current recommendations for eating fish call for limiting it to two meals per week; including tuna fish sandwiches. The study also looked at the effects of a second pollutant, PCBs, but found no correlation with weight and body mass index.

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Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving

Zinc supplements during pregnancy may counteract damage from early alcohol exposure

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Peter Coyle, Ph.D.
61-8-8222-3028
peter.coyle@imvs.sa.gov.au
Hanson Institute

Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research

Animal research has shown that binge drinking – even just once – during early pregnancy can cause numerous problems for the fetus, including early postnatal death. Fetal zinc deficiency may explain some of the birth defects and neurodevelopmental abnormalities associated with alcohol exposure. New rodent findings are the first to show that dietary zinc supplements throughout pregnancy can reduce some alcohol-related birth defects.

Results will be published in the April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

“Alcohol’s damage to the fetus depends not only on the amount and duration of alcohol exposure, but also on the timing of the exposure relative to the development stage of the cells and tissues involved,” said Peter Coyle, associate professor at the Hanson Institute in Adelaide, and corresponding author for the study. “Earlier work had shown that prenatal alcohol, as well as other toxins, can result in fetal zinc deficiency and teratogenicity by inducing the zinc-binding protein, metallothionein, in the mother’s liver. Since then, our group has confirmed the importance of metallothionein in alcohol-mediated birth defects.”

Coyle and his colleagues injected pregnant mice with either saline or a 25-percent solution of alcohol on gestational day (GD) eight; all mice received either a regular or zinc-supplemented diet from GD zero to 18. On GD 18, fetuses from all four groups – saline, saline plus zinc, alcohol, alcohol plus zinc – were assessed for external birth abnormalities. In addition, from birth to day 60, researchers examined the growth of survivors from all four groups.

“There were three key findings,” said Coyle. “One, fetal abnormalities caused by acute alcohol exposure in early pregnancy can be prevented by dietary zinc supplementation. Two, dietary zinc supplementation throughout pregnancy can protect against post-natal death caused by acute alcohol exposure in early pregnancy. Three, dietary zinc supplementation increases the mother’s blood zinc to overwhelm the transient drop in zinc caused by alcohol, which we believe prevents the fetal zinc deficiency and subsequent fetal damage.”

Coyle added that the rodents’ GD eight is the equivalent of weeks three to eight during a human pregnancy. “This encompasses a period when the mother is often unaware of her pregnancy and may not have changed her drinking habits,” he said. “Moreover, up to 60 percent of pregnancies are unplanned. This latter point is of concern when noting that binge drinking is common in the community and more likely to occur in the first trimester than later.”

Importantly, Coyle emphasized, his team is not suggesting that it is safe to drink while taking zinc during pregnancy.

“We have not determined whether zinc protects against all of the possible negative outcomes from alcohol exposure in pregnancy,” he said. “Nor would we recommend that makers of alcoholic beverages include zinc in their product so that women can drink while pregnant. Indeed, we take the conservative stand of a ‘no alcohol policy’ during pregnancy. What our studies do indicate is that dietary zinc supplementation could be as important as folic acid and applied as a simple prophylactic treatment in the human setting to prevent the effects of a range of insults in pregnancy.”

While zinc supplementation is relatively common, and zinc tablets can easily be found in herbal shops, Coyle cautioned that zinc can also affect the absorption of other trace elements and cause anemia if taken in excess. “So one must be wary of taking zinc supplements without professional oversight, and this is particularly so in pregnancy,” he said.

“Furthermore,” he added, “although dietary zinc supplementation has been used in human pregnancy, we do not have any information regarding the dose that would be required to protect against damage from alcohol nor even the dosage that could be harmful to fetal development. Indeed, we have not tested our hypothesis in humans and so it would be unwise to extrapolate any of our findings to humans. We would predict that zinc supplementation would only be effective around the time of alcohol intake to prevent fetal zinc deficiency. Taking zinc supplements a day after alcohol consumption would probably be too late to prevent fetal damage. Obviously more research is needed.”

 

###

 

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (ACER) is the official journal of the Research Society on Alcoholism and the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism. Co-authors of the ACER paper, “Dietary Zinc Supplementation throughout Pregnancy Protects against Fetal Dysmorphology and Improves Postnatal Survival after Prenatal Ethanol Exposure in Mice,” were: Brooke L. Summers of the Hanson Institute/Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, and of the Discipline of Physiology in the School of Molecular and Biomedical Science at the University of Adelaide; and Allan M. Rofe of the Hanson Institute/Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science. The study was funded by the Channel Seven Children’s Research Foundation of South Australia, Inc.

Exposure to perfluorinated chemicals may reduce women’s fertility

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Emma Mason (media enquiries only)
wordmason@mac.com
44-077-112-96986
Oxford University Press

Researchers have found the first evidence that perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) – chemicals that are widely used in everyday items such as food packaging, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products – may be associated with infertility in women.

The study published online in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction [1] today (Thursday 29 January) found that women who had higher levels of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in their blood took longer to become pregnant than women with lower levels.

The researchers from the USA used data from the Danish National Birth Cohort to assess whether levels of PFOS and PFOA in pregnant women’s plasma were associated with a longer time to pregnancy. A total of 1,240 women were included in their analyses.

Blood samples were taken at the time of the women’s first antenatal visit (between 4-14 weeks into the pregnancy) so that concentrations of PFOS and PFOA could be measured. The researchers also interviewed the women at around the 12th week of pregnancy to find out whether the pregnancy was planned or not and how long it took them to become pregnant. Infertility was defined as a time to pregnancy of longer than 12 months or infertility treatment to establish the current pregnancy, and the results were adjusted for potential confounding factors such as age, lifestyle and socio-economic status.

The levels of PFOS in the women’s plasma ranged from 6.4 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) to 106.7 ng/ml, and from less than 1 ng/ml to 41.5 ng/ml for PFOA.

The researchers divided the women’s levels of PFOS/PFOA into four quartiles, and found that, compared with women with the lowest levels of exposure, the likelihood of infertility increased by 70-134% for women in the higher three quartiles of PFOS exposure and by 60-154% for women in the higher three quartiles of PFOA exposure.

Dr Chunyuan Fei, from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), the study’s first author, said: “PFOS and PFOA were considered to be biologically inactive, but recently animal studies have shown that these chemicals may have a variety of toxic effects on the liver, immune system and developmental and reproductive organs. Very few human studies have been done, but one of our earlier studies showed that PFOA, although not PFOS, may impair the growth of babies in the womb, and another two epidemiological studies linked PFOA and PFOS to impaired foetal growth.”

Professor Jørn Olsen, Chair of Department of Epidemiology at UCLA, is the principle investigator of the study. He said: “As far as we know, this is the first study to assess the associations between PFOA and PFOS levels in plasma with time to pregnancy in humans. We are waiting for further studies to replicate our findings in order to discover whether PFCs should be added to the list of risk factors for infertility.”

PFCs, the class of chemicals to which PFOS and PFOA belong, are found not only in household goods but are also used in manufacturing processes, for instance for industrial surfactants and emulsifiers. They persist in the environment and in the body for decades.

The researchers believe that although they measured the PFOS/PFOA levels after pregnancy was established, these levels probably did not change significantly from the time before pregnancy. Men’s sperm quality could also be affected by PFCs and might, therefore, contribute to the associations between PFC levels and time to pregnancy, since couples would tend to be sharing the same lifestyles and have similar exposures. However, the researchers did not have data on PFC levels in fathers. “Studies on sperm quality and PFOA/PFOS are certainly warranted,” said Prof Olsen.

The researchers say the biological mechanisms by which exposure to PFOS and PFOA might reduce fertility are unknown, but PFCs may interfere with hormones that are involved in reproduction.

“Our data showed that higher proportions of women reported irregular menstrual periods in the upper three quartiles of PFOA and PFOS compared with the lowest, and so this could indicate a possible pathway,” said Dr Fei.

 

###

 

Notes:

[1] Maternal levels of perfluorinated chemicals and subfecundity. Human Reproduction. Published online under advance access. doi:10.1093/humrep/den490.

The paper and press release are under embargo until 00.01 hrs (GMT) on Thursday 29 January 2009.

Human Reproduction is a monthly journal of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), and is published by Oxford Journals, a division of Oxford University Press.

Please acknowledge Human Reproduction as a source in any articles.

ESHRE’s website is: www.eshre.com

Abstracts of other papers in ESHRE’s three journals – Human Reproduction, Molecular Human Reproduction and Human Reproduction Update – can be accessed post embargo from http://www.oxfordjournals.org/eshre.

Papers are available on request from Emma Mason.

46th Health Research Report 23 DEC 2008 – Reconstruction

 

 

 

 

Editors Top Five:

 

 

 

1. Long-term use of diabetes drugs by women significantly increases risk of fractures

 

2. 10% of U.S. High School Seniors Use Vicodin

 

3. Lack of vitamin D causes weight gain and stunts growth in girls

 

New study shows that a cough medicine ingredient could effectively treat prostate cancer

 

5. A low dose of caffeine when pregnant may damage the heart of offspring for a lifetime

 

In this issue:

 

1. Asthma: Commonly used medication shows no clear benefits in children

 

2. Long-term use of diabetes drugs by women significantly increases risk of fractures

 

Lack of vitamin D causes weight gain and stunts growth in girls

 

4. Use weights, not aerobics, to ease back pain

 

5. High pesticide levels found in fruit-based drinks in some countries outside U. S.

 

6. A low dose of caffeine when pregnant may damage the heart of offspring for a lifetime

 

7. 10% of U.S. High School Seniors Use Vicodin

 

8. Vitamin D deficiency in infants and nursing mothers carries long-term disease risks

 

9. New anti-cancer components of extra-virgin olive oil revealed

 

10. Lean muscle mass helps even obese patients battle cancer

 

11. Einstein researchers find convincing evidence that probiotics are effective

 

New study shows that a cough medicine ingredient could effectively treat prostate cancer

 

13. New data regarding safety of artemisinin combination therapy for pregnant women with malaria

 

14. Cousin marriage laws outdated

 

15. New evidence that people make aspirin’s active principle — salicylic acid

 

16. Vitamin D deficiency associated with greater rates of cesarean sections

 

17. UCSB scientists show how certain vegetables combat cancer

 

 

Health Technology Research Synopsis

46th Health Research Report 23 DEC 2008

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm http://www.facebook.com/engineeringevil

www.engineeringevil.com

Calcium during pregnancy reduces harmful blood lead levels: 1200mg –>31% Reduction

Contact: Laura Bailey baileylm@umich.edu 734-764-1552 University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Pregnant women who take high levels of daily calcium supplements show a marked reduction in lead levels in their blood, suggesting calcium could play a critical role in reducing fetal and infant exposure.

A new study at the University of Michigan shows that women who take 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily have up to a 31 percent reduction in lead levels.

Women who used lead-glazed ceramics and those with high bone lead levels showed the largest reductions; the average reduction was about 11 percent, said Howard Hu, chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health.

Hu is the principal investigator of the study and one of the senior authors on the paper, which is available online in Environmental Health Perspectives, the official journal of the U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. Hu, who is also affiliated with the University of Michigan School of Medicine, said this is the first known randomized study examining calcium supplementation on lead levels in pregnant women.

“We and others have previously shown that during pregnancy, mothers can transfer lead from their bones to their unborn — with significant adverse consequences–making maternal bone lead stores a threat even if current environmental lead exposures are low,” Hu said.  “This study demonstrates that dietary calcium supplementation during pregnancy may constitute a low-cost and low-risk approach for reducing this threat.”

Lead exposure is a great concern for pregnant and lactating women, especially in developing countries where lead exposures have been high until recently, and for women with occupational exposure. Developing fetuses and nursing babies are exposed to lead from either current exposures to mothers or from the mobilization of maternal skeletal lead stores accumulated from prior years of exposure. Bone lead can stay in the body for decades, so even with minimal environmental exposure, the fetus or nursing infant can still be at great risk from maternal stores of lead.

Lead exposure during fetal development and infancy can cause low birth weight or slow weight gain after birth, cognitive defects such as lower intelligence scores, lower motor and visual skills, or even miscarriage. Damage from lead exposure and poisoning is usually permanent.

“The bottom line is that obstetricians and pediatricians should consider adding calcium supplementation to the prenatal vitamins normally recommended in pregnant women, particularly if their patients have a significant history of environmental or occupational lead exposure,” Hu said.

The study showed that reductions in blood lead levels were more evident in the second trimester at 14 percent than in the third trimester at 8 percent. The most compliant group of women in the study (those who consumed greater than 75 percent of the assigned 1,200 milligram doses of calcium per day) showed a 24 percent decrease.  Women in the most compliant group who also reported using lead glazed ceramics and had the highest bone lead levels saw the greatest reduction of 31 percent.

Researchers analyzed 557 women recruited from the Mexican Social Security Institute prenatal clinics, which treat the low to moderate income population of Mexico City. All were in their first trimester; roughly half were assigned calcium and half a placebo.

This recent study corresponds with a previous study performed by the same group of investigators showing that 1,200-milligram daily calcium supplementation during lactation reduced maternal blood lead by 15-20 percent, and breast milk lead by 5-10 percent. This is the first randomized trial to evaluate the effect of supplementation during pregnancy, when lead is more easily transferred to the fetus, Hu said.

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Co-authors and affiliations include: Adrienne S. Ettinger,  Harvard School of Public Health and U-M SPH; Héctor Lamadrid-Figueroa, Martha M. Téllez-Rojo, and Adriana Mercado- García, Mexican National Institute of Public Health; Karen E. Peterson, Harvard SPH and U-M SPH; Joel Schwartz, Harvard SPH;  Mauricio Hernández-Avila, Mexican National Institute of Public Health and Mexican Ministry of Health

The study is available at: http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2008/11868/abstract.html

For more on Hu, visit: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=1188http://www.sph.umich.edu/iscr/faculty/profile.cfm?uniqname=howardhu

For more on the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at U-M SPH, see: http://www.sph.umich.edu/ehs/

The University of  Michigan  School of Public Health has been promoting health and preventing  disease since 1941, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top five public health schools.  Faculty and students in the school’s five academic departments and dozens of collaborative centers and initiatives study and solve problems relating to chronic disease, health care quality and finance, emerging genetic technologies, climate change, socioeconomic inequalities and their impact on health, infectious disease, the globalization of health, and more. Whether making new discoveries in the lab or researching and educating in the field, our faculty, students, and alumni are deployed around the globe to promote and protect our health.  See:http://www.sph.umich.edu/

More pregnant women taking high blood pressure drugs, yet safety unclear

Contact: Karen Astle
karen.astle@heart.org
214-706-1392
American Heart Association

Nearly 5 percent of pregnant women are prescribed drugs to treat high blood pressure, including some drugs that aren’t considered safe for mothers or their babies, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.

Use of high blood pressure drugs during pregnancy is becoming increasingly common, said Brian T. Bateman, M.D., lead author and Assistant Professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass.

“While we know high blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs in about 6 percent to 8 percent of all pregnancies, we know little about how women and their doctors treat the condition,” he said.

Researchers studied a database of more than 1 million Medicaid patients, of whom 48,453 (4.4 percent) filled prescriptions for high blood pressure drugs during their pregnancies.

They found:

  • Antihypertensive drug use increased from 3.5 percent to 4.9 percent between 2000 and 2006.
  • Antihypertensive drug users were older than non-users, more likely to have diabetes or kidney disease, and more likely to be Caucasian or African-American than Hispanic or Asian.
  • Nearly 2 percent of pregnant women filled prescriptions for these drugs during the first trimester; 1.7 percent during the second trimester; and 3.2 percent during the third trimester.
  • The drugs prescribed included ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers — both of which have been shown in studies to have harmful side effects during pregnancy.

Limited information is available about which antihypertensive drugs are safest and most effective for treating high blood pressure during pregnancy, Bateman said. In general, methyldopa and labetalol are the recommended antihypertensives for use during pregnancy. More research on which antihypertensives to prescribe during pregnancy and how to use them safely is urgently needed, he said.

“We know from reports that a number of harmful effects can occur from using ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers, especially during the second and third trimester,” Bateman said. “These drugs can cause poor growth, kidney problems and even death of the newborn. If women are taking one of these blood pressure medications and they become pregnant or plan to do so, they and their doctors should discuss treatment choices during pregnancy.”

 

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Co-authors are Sonia Hernandez-Diaz, M.D., Dr.P.H.; Krista F. Huybrechts, M.S., Ph.D.; Kristin Palmsten, M.S.; Helen Mogun, M.S.; Jeffrey L. Ecker, M.D. and Michael A. Fischer, M.D., M.S. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

For more information, visit American Heart Association about high blood pressure and pregnancy.

For the latest heart and stroke news, follow us on twitter: @HeartNews.

For the updates and new science from the Hypertension journal, follow @HyperAHA.

Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association’s policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

Prenatal exposure to flame-retardant compounds affects neurodevelopment ( IQ ) of young children: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)

Contact: Stephanie Berger sb2247@columbia.edu 212-305-4372 Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

January 19, 2010 — Prenatal exposure to ambient levels of flame retardant compounds called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) is associated with adverse neurodevelopmental effects in young children, according to researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

The study is online in Environmental Health Perspectives and will be released in the April 2010 print issue.

PBDEs are endocrine-disrupting chemicals and widely used flame-retardant compounds that are applied to a broad array of textiles and consumer products, including mattresses, upholstery, building materials, and electronic equipment.   Because the compounds are additives rather than chemically bound to consumer products, they can be released into the environment.  Human exposure may occur through dietary ingestion or through inhalation of dust containing PBDEs.

The researchers found that children with higher concentrations of PBDEs in their umbilical cord blood at birth scored lower on tests of mental and physical development between the ages of one and six. Developmental effects were particularly evident at four years of age, when verbal and full IQ scores were reduced 5.5 to 8.0 points for those with the highest prenatal exposures.

“The neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal exposure to PBDEs have not previously been studied among children in North America, where levels are typically higher than in Europe or Asia,” said Julie Herbstman, PhD, first author on the paper and a research scientist in Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health.  “The findings are consistent with effects observed in animal studies and, if replicated in other North American populations, they could have important public health implications.”

Frederica Perera, DrPh, professor of  Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School, CCCEH Director, and coauthor added, “These findings are of potential concern, because IQ is a predictor of future educational performance; and the observed reductions in IQ scores are in the range seen with low level lead exposure.” This research underscores the need for preventive policies to reduce toxic exposures occurring in utero.”

The investigators controlled for factors that have previously been linked to neurodevelopment in other studies, including ethnicity, mother’s IQ, child’s sex, gestational age at birth, maternal age, prenatal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, maternal education, material hardship, and breast feeding.

The study is part of a broader project examining the effects of chemicals released by the World Trade Center’s destruction on pregnant women and their children. However, residential proximity to the World Trade Center site did not affect levels of PBDE exposure.

###

 

Other investigators from the Mailman School of Public Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are Andreas Sjödin, PhD, Matthew Kurzon, MS, Sally A. Lederman, PhD, Richard S. Jones, Virginia Rauh, PhD, Larry L. Needham, PhD, Deliang Tang, MD, DrPH, Megan Niedzwiecki, and Richard Y. Wang, DO.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, the New York Community Trust, the New York Times Company Foundation, and the September 11 Children’s Fund.

About the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health

The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health –part of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health — is a leading research organization dedicated to understanding and preventing environmentally related disease in children. Founded in 1998, the Center conducts research in New York City, including the study of mothers and children in Northern Manhattan and South Bronx, a World Trade Center Study, as well as cohort studies in Krakow, Poland, and Chongqing, China. Its mission is to improve the respiratory health and cognitive development of children and to reduce their cancer risk by identifying environmental toxicants and conditions related to poverty that increase their risk of disease. In NYC, the Center collaborates with residents and partner organizations in Washington Heights, Harlem and the South Bronx to share research findings with the local communities in ways that are meaningful and usable in daily life. The CCCEH is one of several National Centers funded by the NIEHS and EPA and one of three Disease Investigation through Specialized Clinically-Oriented Ventures In Environmental Research (DISCOVER) Centers funded by the NIEHS. www.ccceh.org.

About the Mailman School of Public Health

The only accredited school of public health in New York City and among the first in the nation, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting millions of people locally and globally. The Mailman School is the recipient of some of the largest government and private grants in Columbia University’s history. Its more than 1000 graduate students pursue master’s and doctoral degrees, and the School’s 300 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as infectious and chronic diseases, health promotion and disease prevention, environmental health, maternal and child health, health over the life course, health policy, and public health preparedness. www.mailman.columbia.edu

Contact:  Stephanie Berger, Mailman School of Public Health, 212-305-4372, sb2247@columbia.edu

Chemical exposure in the womb from household items may contribute to obesity

Woodruff Health Sciences Center   Aug. 30, 2012

Pregnant women who are highly exposed to common environmental chemicals – polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) – have babies that are smaller at birth and larger at 20 months of age, according to a study from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health published online in the August 30 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives.

PFCs are used in the production of fluoropolymers and are found widely in protective coatings of packaging products, clothes, furniture and non-stick cookware. They are persistent compounds found abundantly in the environment and human exposure is common. PFCs have been detected in human sera, breast milk and cord blood.

The study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, included 447 British girls and their mothers in the United Kingdom participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a large-scale health research project that has provided a vast amount of genetic and environmental information since it began in the early 1990s.

The researchers found that even though girls with higher exposure were smaller than average (43rd percentile) at birth, they were heavier than average (58th percentile) by 20 months of age. The authors say this path may lead to obesity at older ages.

“Previous animal and human research suggests prenatal exposures to PFCs may have harmful effects on fetal and postnatal growth,” says lead researcher Michele Marcus, MPH, PhD, a professor of epidemiology in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health and the assistant program director at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research.

“Our findings are consistent with these studies and emerging evidence that chemicals in our environment are contributing to obesity and diabetes and demonstrate that this trajectory is set very early in life for those exposed.”

According to Marcus, a recent study in Denmark found that women exposed to PFCs in the womb were more likely to be overweight at age 20. And experimental studies with mice have shown that exposure in the womb led to higher levels of insulin and heavier body weight in adulthood.

Marcus and her colleagues focused on the three most studied PFCs: perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFS), perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).

The researchers measured maternal serum concentrations of PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS during pregnancy and obtained data on the weight and length of the girls at birth, 2, 9 and 20 months. They explored associations between prenatal PFC concentrations and weight at birth as well as changes in weight-for-age scores between birth and 20 months

Sweetened drinks may be linked to premature births – “one sugary soda a day were up to 25% more likely to give birth prematurely”

By Natasja Sheriff | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women who drink a lot of sweet sodas during pregnancy may be more likely to give birth prematurely, a new study suggests.

              The study, of more than 60,000 pregnant women in Norway, found that those who drank one sugary soda a day were up to 25 percent more likely to give birth prematurely than those who avoided the sweetened drinks.

              However, it’s not clear whether the drinks themselves are to blame for the early births.

              “We are all desperately searching for causes of preterm birth,” said Dr. Michael Katz at the New York-based March of Dimes foundation, a non-profit organization that works to improve babies’ health. But, added Katz, who was not involved in the study, “this study does not indicate that (drinking soda) is a tremendously serious risk of any sort.”

              What women eat during pregnancy has come under scrutiny in recent years. Studies have suggested that a host of different foods, from fish to caffeine, could affect pregnancy outcomes, including premature birth.

In the US, about 1 in every 8 babies is born prematurely, before 37 weeks’ gestation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those that survive may have neurological problems, or poor vision and hearing.

Previous research in Denmark suggests that drinking artificially sweetened soda increases the risk of preterm birth.

So Dr. Linda Englund-Ögge, who led the research at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenberg, Sweden, wanted to see if her team would find the same effect in Norwegian women.

              They looked at data on 60,761 Norwegian women who participated in a large-scale survey on mother and child health done between 1999 and 2008. The women answered questions on lifestyle, health and nutrition, including how many sweetened sodas they drank, at weeks 15, 22 and 30 of their pregnancy,

              During the ten-year study, 3281 babies were born prematurely – about 5.4 percent of births. Researchers found that those births were strongly associated with women who had a high intake of sugary drinks.

              Women who drank more than one sugar sweetened drink in a day increased their chances of delivering early by 25 percent over those who never drank sugary drinks.

Those who drank artificially sweetened sodas on a daily basis were 11 percent more likely to give birth prematurely than those who never drank the sweet beverages.

              Body weight also seemed to be a factor, with the strongest association between preterm birth and sugary drinks seen among overweight women.

              Those who drank at least one sugary soda a week were 30 percent more likely to deliver preterm than overweight women who never drank sodas. The risk increased by 41 percent if they drank soda every day.

OTHER FACTORS

              However, the new findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cannot prove that sugary drinks cause preterm births. Lifestyle and other factors that go along with high sugar consumption may also play a role.

              Nutrition, maternal age, smoking, alcohol, obesity, chronic health problems like diabetes, and genetic conditions, have all been implicated in preterm birth.

The authors note in their report that women who drank the most sweetened drinks were also more likely to smoke, eat more calories, and have a higher body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight relative to height – than those who drank fewer sugary drinks.

But for now, Englund-Ögge and her colleagues can only speculate on the causes of the link between the sugary beverages and preterm births.

“What we think is that those women who have a high intake of both (types of soda) might have another dietary pattern than those who say they don’t drink either of those beverages,” Englund-Ögge told Reuters Health.

              Previous research suggests that breakdown products of the sweetener aspartame could play a role in premature birth. High levels of the sugar glucose in women who eat a lot of sugar have also been implicated.

              “We don’t want to say that pregnant women shouldn’t drink sugary or artificially sweetened drinks,” said Englund-Ögge. But women should try to cut down on sugar and eat more fruit and vegetables when they are pregnant, she added.

              Katz agreed that the study should not be a cause of anxiety, but if women are concerned they should avoid drinking sweetened drinks. “Water is an excellent thirst quencher,” he said.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/PVsVAx American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online August 1, 2012

Common insecticide used in homes associated with delayed mental development of young children

Contact: Stephanie Berger sb2247@columbia.edu 212-305-4372 Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Effects on IQ appear to be similar to lead exposure

February 9, 2011 — When the EPA phased out the widespread residential use of chlorpyrifos and other organophosphorus (OP) insecticides in 2000-2001 because of risks to child neurodevelopment, these compounds were largely replaced with pyrethroid insecticides.  But the safety of these replacement insecticides remained unclear, as they had never been evaluated for long-term neurotoxic effects after low-level exposure. In the first study to examine the effects of these compounds on humans and the first evaluation of their potential toxicity to the developing fetal brain, scientists of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found a significant association between piperonyl butoxide (PBO), a common additive in pyrethroid formulations, measured in personal air collected during the third trimester of pregnancy, and delayed mental development at 36 months.  Findings from the study are online in the journal, Pediatrics.

The study was conducted with a subset of 725 pregnant women participating in a prospective longitudinal study of black and Dominican women living in upper Manhattan and the South Bronx underway at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH). The insecticide permethrin was selected for the evaluation because it is one of the most common pyrethroid insecticides used in U.S. homes, as well as the most commonly sold pesticide, according to a nationally representative sample. PBO, a chemical that is added to insecticides to increase efficacy was also selected for evaluation. Any detection of PBO in air is a marker of a pyrethroid insecticide application.

In all, 342 women were studied for permethrin exposure in personal air during pregnancy; 272 for permethrin in maternal and umbilical cord plasma; and 230 were evaluated for exposure to PBO. To collect the air samples, mothers from the CCCEH Mothers and Newborns cohort wore a small backpack holding a personal ambient air monitor for 48 hours during the third trimester of pregnancy.

The children of these mothers were evaluated for cognitive and motor development at age three. CCCEH researchers used the Bayley Scales of Infant Development.  In evaluating the results, researchers controlled for gender, gestational age, ethnicity, maternal education and intelligence, quality of the home environment, and prenatal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and chlorpyrifos.

PBO was detected in the majority of personal air samples (75%). While the results demonstrate that a significant prenatal exposure to permethrin in personal air and/or plasma was not associated with performance scores for the Bayley Mental Developmental Index or the Psychomotor Developmental Index at 36 months, children who were more highly exposed to PBO in personal air samples (≥4.34 ng/m3) scored 3.9 points lower on the Mental Developmental Index than those with lower exposures.

“This drop in IQ points is similar to that observed in response to lead exposure,” said Megan Horton of the Mailman School of Public Health and lead researcher. “While perhaps not impacting an individual’s overall function, it is educationally meaningful and could shift the distribution of children in the society who would be in need of early intervention services”.

The researchers point out that environmental and biological monitoring of pyrethroid insecticides present certain challenges. “We know most pyrethroid insecticides are difficult to measure in the air because they are not volatile and are difficult to measure in bodily fluids because they are rapidly metabolized, and these difficulties may prevent us from seeing significant associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes,” noted Dr. Horton.  “Because PBO is volatile and permethrin is not volatile, we would not expect to find a strong association between the two compounds.  With the exception of the increased odds of motor delay in the lowest PBO exposure group, prenatal exposure to PBO seems to have an impact on cognitive rather than motor development, which is quite worrisome because mental development scores are more predictive of school readiness.”

As this is the first study of these compounds, the results should be considered preliminary but, Dr. Horton notes, they do – raise a cautionary red flag about the use of these chemicals during pregnancy. And, she adds, research at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, indicates that “integrated pest management and the non-spray application of lower toxicity pesticides are viable alternatives to the use of these spray pesticides for pest control.”

“This is an important study with potentially broad public health implications,” according to Dr. Robin Whyatt, Mailman School professor of clinical environmental health sciences and a co-deputy director at the CCCEH. “Further, it identifies a critical need for additional research.”

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About the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health

The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) carries out community-based research in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx to examine the health effects of prenatal and early postnatal exposures to common urban air pollutants, with the aim of preventing environmentally related disease in children. The Center is unique in the field of scientific research because it applies the results of its research to interventions that reduce toxic pesticide use; conducts a community education campaign to increase environmental health awareness among local residents, parents, health professionals and educators; and informs public interest groups, elected officials, and other policymakers who can shape policies to improve the environmental health status of underserved neighborhoods. The Center’s overall mission is to improve prevention and clinical treatment, and work with community-based organizations to improve their neighborhood’s environmental health. Our lead community partner is WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

About the Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922 as one of the first three public health academies in the nation, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its 300 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,000 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master’s and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP), the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit www.mailman.columbia.edu

Dangerous experiment in fetal engineering (MUST READ)

Public release date: 2-Aug-2012


Dangerous experiment in fetal engineering

Risky prenatal use of steroid to try to prevent intersex, tomboys and lesbians

CHICAGO — A new paper just published in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry uses extensive Freedom of Information Act findings to detail an extremely troubling off-label medical intervention employed in the U.S. on pregnant women to intentionally engineer the development of their fetuses for sex normalization purposes.

The paper is authored by Alice Dreger, professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and is co-authored by Ellen Feder, associate professor of philosophy and religion at American University, and Anne Tamar-Mattis, executive director of Advocates for Informed Choice.

The pregnant women targeted are at risk for having a child born with the condition congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), an endocrinological condition that can result in female fetuses being born with intersex or more male-typical genitals and brains. Women genetically identified as being at risk are given dexamethasone, a synthetic steroid, off-label starting as early as week five of the first trimester to try to “normalize” the development of those fetuses, which are female and CAH-affected. Because the drug must be administered before doctors can know if the fetus is female or CAH-affected, only one in eight of those exposed are the target type of fetus.

The off-label intervention does not prevent CAH; it aims only at sex normalization. Like Diethylstilbestrol (DES) — which is now known to have caused major fertility problems and fatal cancers among those exposed in utero — dexamethasone is a synthetic steroid. Dexamethasone is known — and in this case intended — to cross the placental barrier and change fetal development. Experts estimate the glucocorticoid dose reaching the fetus is 60 to 100 times what the body would normally experience.

The new report provides clear evidence that:

  • For more than 10 years, medical societies repeatedly but ultimately impotently expressed high alarm at use of this off-label intervention outside prospective clinical trials, because it is so high risk and because nearly 90 percent of those exposed cannot benefit. 
  • Mothers offered the intervention have been told it “has been found safe for mother and child” but in fact there has never been any such scientific evidence. 
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has indicated it cannot stop advertising of this off-label use as “safe for mother and child” because the advertising is done by a clinician not affiliated with the drug maker. 
  • A just-out report from Sweden in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism documents a nearly 20 percent “serious adverse event” rate among the children exposed in utero
  • Clinician proponents of the intervention have been interested in whether the intervention can reduce rates of tomboyism, lesbianism and bisexuality, characteristics they have termed “behavioral masculinization.” 
  • The National Institutes of Health has funded research to see if these attempts to prevent “behavioral masculinization” with prenatal dexamethasone are “successful.” 
  • The United States’ systems designed to prevent another tragedy like DES and thalidomide — involving de facto experimentation on pregnant women and their fetuses — appear to be broken and ineffectual.
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The paper is available for free download at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/m1523l7615744552/?MUD=MP

Contact: Marla Paul
Marla-Paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University

Study examines risk of poor birth outcomes following H1N1 vaccination

CHICAGO – In studies examining the risk of adverse outcomes after receipt of the influenza A(H1N1) vaccine, infants exposed to the vaccine in utero did not have a significantly increased risk of major birth defects, preterm birth, or fetal growth restriction; while in another, study researchers found a small increased risk in adults of the nervous system disorder, Guillain-Barre syndrome, during the 4 to 8 weeks after vaccination, according to 2 studies in the July 11 issue of JAMA.

In the first study, Björn Pasternak, M.D., Ph.D., of the Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark and colleagues investigated whether exposure to an adjuvanted influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of major birth defects, preterm birth, and fetal growth restriction. According to background information in the article, the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic put pregnant women at increased risk of illness, death, and poor pregnancy outcomes. “Pregnant women were among the main target groups prioritized for vaccination against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, and an estimated 2.4 million women were vaccinated during pregnancy in the United States alone. However, assessment of the fetal safety of H1N1 vaccination in pregnancy has been limited to a few pharmacovigilance reports and descriptive cohort studies.”

The registry-based study included all live-born singleton infants in Denmark delivered between November 2, 2009, and September 30, 2010. The researchers estimated the prevalence odds ratios of adverse fetal outcomes, comparing infants exposed and unexposed to an AS03-adjuvanted influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine during pregnancy. Following exclusions, a group of 53,432 live-born infants was identified with 6,989 (13.1 percent) exposed to the vaccine during pregnancy.

In a propensity score-matched analysis of 330 infants exposed to the vaccine in the first trimester of pregnancy and 330 unexposed, there were 18 infants (5.5 percent) diagnosed with a major birth defect among those exposed compared with 15 (4.5 percent) among the unexposed.  Among infants exposed to the H1N1 vaccine in the first trimester, 31 (9.4 percent) were born preterm compared with 24 (7.3 percent) among the unexposed. Preterm birth occurred in 302 of 6,543 infants (4.6 percent) with second- or third-trimester exposure, compared with 295 of 6,366 unexposed infants (4.6 percent). “Taking gestational age into account, there was no increased risk of small size for gestational age associated with vaccination in the first (25 [7.6 percent] exposed vs. 31 [9.4 percent] unexposed) or the second or third trimester (641 [9.7 percent] exposed vs. 657 [9.9 percent] unexposed),” the researchers write.

“In conclusion, this nationwide cohort study in Denmark found no significant associations between exposure to an AS03-adjuvanted influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine in pregnancy and risk of adverse fetal outcomes including major birth defects, preterm birth, and growth restriction. Although the data provide robust evidence of safety with respect to outcomes associated with second- or third-trimester exposure, results from analyses of first-trimester exposure should be viewed as preliminary and need confirmation. Further research also needs to address risk of specific birth defects as well as effectiveness of H1N1 vaccination in pregnancy