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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.

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Smoking down, but tobacco use still a major cause of death and disease, WHO says

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2018

FILE PHOTO: An illustration picture shows cigarettes in their pack, October 8, 2014. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Illustration

Fewer people are smoking worldwide, especially women, but only one country in eight is on track to meet a target of reducing tobacco use significantly by 2025, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (May 30).

Three million people die prematurely each year due to tobacco use, which causes cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks and stroke, Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, said during the launch of the organization’s global report on trends in the prevalence of tobacco smoking.

Some 890,000 of the deaths result from second-hand smoke exposure.

Progress is uneven, with the Americas being the only region set to meet the U.N. target of reducing tobacco use by 30 percent by 2025.

Parts of Western Europe have reached a “standstill”, particularly due to a failure to get women to stop smoking, while African men are lagging, and tobacco use in the Middle East is actually set to increase, Bettcher said.

Overall, tobacco kills more than 7 million a year by causing a higher risk of cancer and heart disease. But many smokers in China and India are unaware of these health impacts, Bettcher said.

The two Asian powerhouses have the highest numbers of smokers worldwide, accounting for 307 million and 106 million, respectively, of the world’s 1.1 billion adult smokers, followed by Indonesia with 74 million, WHO figures show. — Reuters

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DOH releases new graphic health warnings for cigarette packages

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

One of the new graphic health warning that will appear to cigarette packs

MANILA, Philippines — The Republic Act No. 10643 or Graphic Health Warning Law mandates the Department of Health (DOH) to release new graphic health warning labels for cigarette packs in every two years.

DOH released the new templates on March 3 .

The new templates show the health dangers of smoking cigarettes such as gangrene, emphysema, neck cancer, mouth cancer, asthma, still and premature birth.

“The old ones are saturated already and they’re somehow numb so they just ignore those old graphic warnings. So part of the strategy is to ensure that you have new graphic health warnings each time,” said health chief, Francisco Duque.

The Graphic Health Warning Law states that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will be the lead agency to monitor and implement the said law especially in terms of imposing taxes.

“We set it on March 3 and the monitoring and the implementation are supposed to be done by BIR, in terms of taxes,” said DOH Usec. Eric Domingo.

Based on the figures of the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 1.4 billion smokers worldwide, and 4.9 million die yearly due to smoking.

The DOH figures show that 240 Filipino smokers die every day.

The health department is hoping that the implementation of the said law will help lower the cases of respiratory illnesses and death cases due to smoking. — Aiko Miguel | UNTV News & Rescue

 

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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.

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