Emergency Hotlines: LANDLINE (+63) 2 911 – 8688

Drinking in pregnancy tied to subtle changes in babies’ faces

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, June 12th, 2017

A pregnant woman is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/Newscom

(Reuters Health) – Women who drink even a little bit of alcohol during pregnancy may be more likely than other mothers to have babies with slight facial abnormalities that have been linked to developmental problems, a recent study suggests.

When researchers examined data from facial images for 415 one-year-old children, they found subtle changes in babies’ faces mostly around the nose, eyes and lips associated with almost all levels of alcohol exposure regardless of whether drinking occurred only in the first trimester or throughout the pregnancy.

“We are surprised to see these differences in facial shape with low doses of alcohol exposure, which in our study was defined as two standard drinks on any one occasion and no more than seven in a week,” said lead study author Evelyne Muggli of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne in Australia.

“This means that any level of alcohol contributes to the way the face is formed and raises questions about the possible impact on brain development, which is the subject of further research,” Muggli said by email.

The facial changes found in the study are so subtle they aren’t visible to the naked eye, Muggli said. They can only be seen with sophisticated three-dimensional facial shape analysis, and they don’t necessarily mean that unborn babies have been harmed if mothers consumed some alcohol while pregnant, Muggli added.

But differences around the middle of the face and nose seen with alcohol exposure during pregnancy in the study resemble anomalies associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics.

Differences were most pronounced between children with no exposure to alcohol in utero and children with low exposure in the first trimester, particularly in the forehead, the study found.

Compared to children not exposed to any alcohol when their mothers were pregnant, kids with moderate to high exposure in the first trimester had differences in their eyes, mid-face and chin. Changes in the chin were also seen with binge drinking in the first trimester

Most women who do drink during pregnancy only drink a little bit and often stop once they realize they’re pregnant, limiting fetal alcohol exposure to the first trimester, Carol Bower of the University of Western Australia writes in an accompanying editorial.

Up to about one in 20 children may be affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which can lead to cognitive impairment including irreversible brain damage.

Children exposed to alcohol in the womb may have learning challenges such as deficits in memory or speech as well as behavior problems like hyperactivity.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove how or if different levels of alcohol exposure at different points in pregnancy might impact children’s faces, or cause specific developmental problems.

In addition, all of the children in the study were white, and it’s possible facial changes associated with alcohol exposure during pregnancy might look different in children from other racial or ethnic groups, the researchers note.

Even so, the findings add to a growing body of evidence on the fetal development effects of even low levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, said Heather Carmichael Olson, of the University of Washington School of Medicine.

“It is a substance that can change fetal development, and can be associated with lifelong changes in learning and behavior,” Carmichael Olson, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

“If any amount of prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to physical changes in fetal development, as the current study suggests, so that it’s not just high doses or long-term drinking that have measurable effects, the safest advice that providers can give is that women who want a healthy pregnancy should avoid this biological risk factor if they are considering pregnancy or are pregnant,” Carmichael Olson added. — By Lisa Rapaport

SOURCE: bit.ly/2rv58kQ JAMA Pediatrics, online June 5, 2017.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

High blood pressure in pregnancy may not disappear afterward

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: A pregnant woman is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/Newscom

(Reuters Health) – Women who develop high blood pressure during pregnancy may have the condition reappear within a year of delivery, and many of them may go undiagnosed because the problem only surfaces at night, a new study suggests.

Preeclampsia, or high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy, is common. In severe cases, it can become fatal or result in serious complications for babies like organ damage or stunted growth. While the condition has also long been linked to an increased risk of women developing high blood pressure later in life, the current study offers fresh insight into why it might go undetected.

For the study, researchers focused on 200 women with severe preeclampsia that resolved after the women gave birth. In 24-hour home blood pressure testing done one year after these women gave birth, 42 percent of them had developed high blood pressure.

But only 24 percent of these cases would have been caught by a quick blood pressure check at the doctor’s office, researchers report in Hypertension. That’s because in many instances, women had high blood pressure at night.

“Our findings suggest that women who have high blood pressure during pregnancy should continue to monitor their blood pressure long after they’ve delivered their babies,” said lead study author Dr. Laura Benschop of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands.

“Women with previous severe preeclampsia should also receive 24-hour blood pressure monitoring one year after pregnancy to diagnose any type of hypertension that cannot be diagnosed with a single office blood pressure measurement,” Benschop said by email.

Most of the women were around 32 years old when pregnant, and they were typically first-time mothers. On average, they were diagnosed with preeclampsia at around 30 weeks’ gestation, during the third trimester.

By one year after delivery, roughly one in five of the women had already been diagnosed with hypertension and been given medication to treat it.

During the home-based tests, 43 percent of the women had high blood pressure at night and 32 percent had it during the day.

Beyond its small size, another limitation of the study is that it included mostly white and highly educated women, and results from this group may not represent what would happen for other patients, the authors note.

“The study itself is not sufficient to directly recommend specialist screening for all women with previous preeclampsia,” Dr. Simon Timpka, a researcher at Lund University and Skane University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

However, the results do suggest women should get annual blood pressure checks from their general practitioners, advised Heather Boyd, a researcher at the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“We might need to think about expanding annual blood pressure checks to include home monitoring for a 24-hour period, at least for women with a history of severe preeclampsia,” Boyd, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

Beyond getting their blood pressure checked, women can also take steps to prevent it from becoming elevated, noted Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at New York University Langone Medical Center.

“They should also follow a healthy diet . . . and lower their salt intake,” Goldberg, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Exercise and stress reduction are also good ways to keep your blood pressure in the healthy range.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2Eo2BA0 Hypertension, online February 5, 2018.

Tags: , , , ,

Even moderate drinking linked to changes in brain structure, study finds

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, June 8th, 2017

 

FILE PHOTO: A laboratory assistant holds one hemisphere of a healthy brain in the Morphological unit of psychopathology in the Neuropsychiatry division of the Belle Idee University Hospital in Chene-Bourg near Geneva, Seitzerland in a March 14, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol is linked to changes in brain structure and an increased risk of worsening brain function, scientists said on Tuesday.

In a 30-year study that looked at the brains of 550 middle-aged heavy drinkers, moderate drinkers and teetotallers, the researchers found people drank more alcohol had a greater risk of hippocampal atrophy – a form of brain damage that affects memory and spatial navigation.

People who drank more than 30 units a week on average had the highest risk, but even those who drank moderately – between 14 and 21 units a week – were far more likely than abstainers to have hippocampal atrophy, the scientists said.

“And we found no support for a protective effect of light consumption on brain structure,” they added.

The research team – from the University of Oxford and University College London – said their results supported a recent lowering of drinking limit guidelines in Britain, but posed questions about limits recommended in the United States.

U.S. guidelines suggest that up to 24.5 units of alcohol a week is safe for men, but the study found increased risk of brain structure changes at just 14 to 21 units a week.

A unit is defined as 10 milliliters (ml) of pure alcohol. There are roughly two in a large beer, nine in a bottle of wine and one in a 25 ml spirit shot.

Killian Welch, a Royal Edinburgh Hospital neuropsychiatrist who was not directly involved in the study, said the results, published in the BMJ British Medical Journal, underlined “the argument that drinking habits many regard as normal have adverse consequences for health”.

“We all use rationalizations to justify persistence with behaviors not in our long term interest. With (these results) justification of ‘moderate’ drinking on the grounds of brain health becomes a little harder,” he said.

The study analyzed data on weekly alcohol intake and cognitive performance measured repeatedly over 30 years between 1985 and 2015 for 550 healthy men and women with an average age of 43 at the start of the study. Brain function tests were carried out at regular intervals, and at the end of the study participants were given a MRI brain scan.

After adjusting for several important potential confounders such as gender, education, social class, physical and social activity, smoking, stroke risk and medical history, the scientists found that higher alcohol consumption was associated with increased risk of brain function decline.

Drinking more was also linked to poorer “white matter integrity” – a factor they described as critical when it comes to cognitive functioning.

The researchers noted that with an observational study like this, no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. They added, however, that the findings could have important public health implications for a large sector of the population. — By Kate Kelland | LONDON

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Tags: , , , ,

Smoking during pregnancy tied to eye damage in kids

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, March 9th, 2017

A woman is silhouetted as she smokes a cigarette in central Sydney August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

(Reuters Health) – When women smoke during pregnancy or have underweight babies their children have a greater risk of developing a type of retina damage, a Danish study suggests.

Researchers focused on the thickness of what’s known as the retinal nerve fiber layer, made of fibers in the optic nerve that transmit visual information from the eye to the brain. When the retinal nerve fiber layer is too thin, people may have an increased risk of vision impairment and glaucoma, an eye disease that can lead to blindness.

Previous studies have linked maternal smoking to underweight babies, researchers note in JAMA Ophthalmology. Because low birth weight is also associated with having a thinner retinal nerve fiber layer, smoking could have a direct and indirect effect on the optic nerve and its connections to the retina, researchers note.

In the current study, researchers examined data from eye exams on 1,323 children at age 11 or 12 and found both smoking and low birth weight independently associated with thinner retinal nerve fiber.

“Smoking for a relatively short time interval during pregnancy can have lifelong consequences to the exposed fetus,” said Dr. Christopher Kai-Shun Leung, a researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and author of an editorial accompanying the study.

In the study, 80 percent of the mothers didn’t smoke during pregnancy. Another 2 percent of mothers stopped smoking during pregnancy and about 18 percent continued to smoke throughout pregnancy.

Roughly 4 percent of their babies were born at a low birth weight.

Eye exams for all of the kids found they had an average retinal nerve fiber thickness of 104 micrometers.

Children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy had retinal nerve fiber that was typically 5.7 micrometers thinner than in kids whose mothers didn’t smoke at all while pregnant.

There wasn’t a difference between children of nonsmoking mothers and kids born to women who stopped smoking during pregnancy.

In low birth weight children, average retinal nerve fiber was 3.5 micrometers thinner than with kids born at a normal weight.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove that either smoking or low birth weight cause eye damage.

Another limitation of the study is the lack of data on socioeconomic status of the mothers, which can influence tobacco use and the risk of pregnancy complications, the authors note. Researchers also lacked data on alcohol use during pregnancy, a habit that often accompanies smoking and that can independently impact fetal development.

For women who did smoke during pregnancy, researchers didn’t know how many cigarettes they smoked or how often they smoked.

Lead study author Hakan Ashina of Righospitalet in Copenhagen didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.

The differences in retinal nerve fiber layer thickness found in the study aren’t big enough to produce detectable eye problems, Leung said by email.

“However, a thinner retinal nerve fiber layer has been connected to a higher risk of development of glaucoma,” Leung added. “Monitoring the retinal nerve fiber layer in children with history of maternal smoking and/or low birth weight would be important.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2mmxNWz and bit.ly/2lEDnoB JAMA Ophthalmology, online March 2, 2017.

Tags: , , , ,