A new research projects studies the nutrition of babies and infants as a means to improve dietary recommendations to young mothers
The early childhood diet and that of the mother during pregnancy determines the health of a child later life. This is the claim that the EU-funded research project Early Nutrition is trying to substantiate by the time it is due to be completed in 2017. Hans van Goudoever, professor of paediatrics and chair of the department of paediatrics at VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, talks to youris.com about his hopes to drastically improve the health of future generations by giving nutritional advice to pregnant women and young mothers.
Has the project produced any surprising results so far?
We have found a relation between nutrition in the first stages of life and a staggering amount of afflictions including obesity, heart diseases, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, as well as connections to IQ. And we are now close to practical application. For instance, we found that young infants with a low-protein diet are far less likely to suffer from obesity in later life. So we have developed bottle feeding with less protein and we are tested it on piglets. The results are excellent and tests on humans are about to start.
Why do we need to study early nutrition?
Epidemiological studies, which go back as far as 25 years, have shown that birth and infant weight have an effect on the occurrence of cardiac problems later in life. But that is just a description of a relation, not a scientific proof. These days we want hard evidence. One group of children will get nutrition type A, another group will get type B. Then, we’ll keep following them in order to prove there is a specific effect. That’s what the project is all about.
At what stage is it possible to influence child nutrition most?
Nutrition during pregnancy and the first months of life is key. Later on, there is still an influence but it gets smaller with time. After birth, the choice between breast feeding and bottle feeding is very easy, from a nutrition perspective. Breast feeding is at least ten miles ahead. I know there are many reasons why sometimes breastfeeding is impossible; the mother may not have the opportunity, or she is taking medicines. But if at all possible every effort should be taken to choose breast feeding. It is logical after all. Bottle feeding is made from cow milk, and cows are different from people.
What advice could you give to mothers of very young children?
Above all, avoid excess proteins and fat. Special care should be taken to make sure babies have a diet wherein the protein and fat content is just right. Not too little, but certainly not too much.
If you have a normal diet, you do not need anything else. Just forget about extra vitamins and minerals, as long as your diet is balanced. That is not easy these days. The groups where we see the most problems include, quite often, the people from the lower social classes, who are rather difficult to reach with information or nutrition campaigns. What I do hope is that we can ultimately get the message across to the hard-to-reach public.
- University of Missouri research paper: Social stigma often prevents African-American mothers from breastfeeding (drwilda.com)
On a personal note. Back in 1972 the religion classes for juniors and seniors at my high school were composed of electives. I took the marriage class. One week was spent on contraceptives. The material on the different types was fact based. Since it was a Catholic school abstinence was emphasized! Still, I was a bit taken aback that we were given all the facts in order to make our own decisions. Didn’t tell my parents about this! But the week’s focus on contraception did reinforce what we were taught at home – responsibilities for our actions.
On a somewhat related note – my heart goes out to all who are sexually abused and feel that a sexual relationship (and/or a relationship that is disproportionally based on the needs of others) is the only way out of a bad (often home) environment.
Qualitative Study Explores Women’s Perceptions of Pregnancy Risk
In-depth interviews with 49 women obtaining abortions in the United States found that most of the study participants perceived themselves to be at low risk of becoming pregnant at the time that it happened. According to “Perceptions of Susceptibility to Pregnancy Among U.S. Women Obtaining Abortions,” by Lori Frohwirth of the Guttmacher Institute et al., the most common reasons women gave for thinking they were at low risk of pregnancy included a perception of invulnerability, a belief that they were infertile, self-described inattention to the possibility of pregnancy and a belief that they were protected by their (often incorrect) use of a contraceptive method. Most participants gave more than one response.
The most common reason women gave for their perceived low risk of pregnancy was perceived invulnerability to pregnancy. Study participants understood that pregnancy could happen, but for reasons they couldn’t explain, thought they were immune or safe from pregnancy at the time they engaged in unprotected sex. One reported that she “always had good luck,” while another said, “…It’s like you believe something so much, like ‘I just really don’t want children,’ [and] for some reason, I thought that would prevent me from getting pregnant.” This type of magical thinking—that pregnancy somehow would not happen despite acknowledged exposure—suggests a disconnect between the actual risk of pregnancy incurred by an average couple who does not use contraceptives (85% risk of pregnancy over the course of a year) and a woman’s efforts to protect herself from unintended pregnancy.
Equal proportions (one-third) of respondents thought they or their partners were sterile, said the possibility of pregnancy “never crossed my mind” and reported that (often incorrect) contraceptive use was the reason they thought they were at low risk. Perceptions of infertility were not based on medical advice, but rather on past experiences (e.g., the respondent had unprotected sex and didn’t get pregnant) or family history. Among those who thought they were protected by their contraceptive method, most women reported inconsistent or incorrect method use. For example, one woman felt a few missed pills did not put her at risk: “I just thought…they were like magic. If I missed it one day, it wouldn’t really matter.”
The authors suggest that further research is needed to quantify the proportion of women at risk of pregnancy who believe they are not at risk, and reasons why they hold that belief, in order to better address misconceptions around pregnancy risk with the goal of preventing unintended pregnancy. Additionally, they suggest that health care providers should seek to better understand patients’ beliefs regarding their ability to get pregnant and the efficacy of contraception so as to address these topics, and that public health campaigns should dispel myths, address magical thinking, and call attention to the general problem of low health literacy.
“Perceptions of Susceptibility to Pregnancy Among U.S. Women Obtaining Abortions” is currently available online and will appear in a forthcoming issue of Social Science & Medicine.
- Statistics on Abortion from Abort73.com (whyyoushouldbeprochoice.wordpress.com)
- Why young women are going off the pill and on to contraception voodoo | Hadley Freeman (theguardian.com)
- [Brookings Institute report] Isabel V. Sawhill and Quentin Karpilow – Three Facts about Birth Control and Social Mobility (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- A Major Cause of Unplanned Pregnancies (vitalisticvixen.com)
- Pope Francis sends out survey to ask Catholics about gay sex, abortion and contraception (independent.co.uk)
- Theory post about Abortion (violetlightning.wordpress.com)
Pregnant women who abuse drugs, alcohol need compassion, not stigma from doctors and society: experts
My sentiments exactly, real humans do not shame!
Seeing a pregnant women smoking a cigarette, imbibing a glass of wine or using drugs is sure to raise a societal eyebrow.
But a new report says women with substance abuse problems should be treated with compassion by health providers and society at large, especially during pregnancy, because addiction is a brain disorder and not a personal failing.
“It’s harmful for us to look upon pregnant women with addiction issues and assume it’s as simple as saying: ’For the sake of the baby, stop using,”’ said Colleen Dell, research chair in substance abuse at the University of Saskatchewan.
The report says pregnancy offers an opportunity for doctors to help women seek treatment for addiction, while providing comprehensive care aimed at maximizing the health of both mother and baby.
That treatment should involve a wide range of care providers and programs, including addiction counselling, medication-assisted therapy and community resources for parents, the report says.
“When this continuum of care is provided, we see healthier babies and fewer premature births, and overall maternal and infant mortality rates go down,” said Finnegan.
But many women are hesitant to seek treatment because of the stigma around using a substance that’s known to be harmful to their developing fetus, she said.
It’s important to look at the antecedents to drug addiction, said Finnegan, noting that about 98% of the women in her clinic had been sexually or physically abused as children or as adults.
Often women also won’t seek medical help because they’re afraid of losing their children
“This is very much like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). They have had trauma and taking a drug permits them to forget these terrible feelings that they have had. When they take the psychoactive drugs … they become addicted.
“So the first step is that we get them into treatment and help them feel welcome.”
Often women also won’t seek medical help because they’re afraid of losing their children to protective services if they admit to an addiction, she said, suggesting the judicial system has to change.
Dealing with stigma is the greatest challenge in trying to help pregnant women with an addiction, said Franco Vaccarino, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Toronto and chairman of the CCSA’s scientific advisory council.
“Addiction is a disorder of the brain,” he stressed.
‘Simply put, your brain is different after prolonged substance abuse than it was before’
“Simply put, your brain is different after prolonged substance abuse than it was before. Addiction fundamentally changes neurological functioning and it makes it next to impossible to just quit for the sake of the baby without significant supports.
“The challenge is anchoring the narrative of this discussion in health terms,” Vaccarino said. “If you anchor it in health terms and move it away from justice and moral and will-related issues, you focus the narrative around addiction, which is where it should be.”
- Pregnant women abusing drugs need compassion (cbc.ca)
- Drug use during pregnancy affects baby: report (metronews.ca)
- Case Explores Rights of Fetus Versus Mother (nytimes.com)
- Legal moves to further protect foetuses threaten rights of US mothers (irishtimes.com)
- Fetus ‘Personhood’ Law Results In Arrest And Shackling Of Pregnant Wisconsin Mom (addictinginfo.org)
- Fetus Sues Mother — Case Explores Rights of Fetus (articles.mercola.com)
- Task force targets pregnant drug abusers (kokomotribune.com)
- As Fetuses Gain Personhood, Women Lose It (abortion.ws)
- Sticks & Stones: Removing the Stigma of Addiction (aspireindianablog.wordpress.com)
- Substance abuse linked to troubled children (fijitimes.com)
A tale of two colleges: is it really controversial to advise mothers about potential health effects of chemical exposures?
This month (October 2013), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)published a Committee Opinion about exposure to toxic environmental agents. It describes “reducing exposure to toxic environmental agents” as a “critical area of intervention” for reproductive health care professionals because of “robust” evidence linking exposure to environmental agents to a range of adverse reproductive and development health outcomes. The Opinion goes on to state that while reproductive health professionals should provide in-clinic counselling on reducing chemical exposure, they also have a role to play beyond the clinical setting, in advocate “timely action to identify and reduce exposure to toxic environmental agents”.
A similar paper was published on the same theme in the United Kingdom in June this year, when the UK equivalent of ACOG, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), issued a Scientific Impact Paper titled “Chemical Exposures During Pregnancy”. As did ACOG, the paper recommended a “safety-first approach” for dealing with the problem of being “exposed to a complex mixture of hundreds of chemicals at low levels” for which “methods for assessing the full risk of exposure are not yet developed”. A list of things which women can do to reduce their exposure was given, and it was suggested that this information be conveyed to women by reproductive health professionals.
The difference in reaction to two similar papers in the US and UK media should be surprising, given that in the US coverage of chemicals issues is now an everyday occurrence, while UK outlets (outside the confines of the famously sensationalist Daily Mail) are much less likely to cover chemicals stories. Yet here we have a minor publication intended for reproductive health professionals having almost unprecedented impact across all the major UK papers.
Some people undoubtedly wanted there to be a controversy. It sells papers, for one thing. But it does not follow that the originating point of the controversy is itself controversial: there is a very real difference between creating a controversy through eliciting and reporting criticism, and reporting on conflicting opinions which are a direct result of intellectual controversy. In the latter case the controversy is a natural event; in the former, it is a manufactured one.
Journalists, talking heads and commentators should all be cognizant of this, and be aware that if one is going to comment on a controversy, it will not advance issues by treating a manufactured debate as if it is a genuine controversy. The fact is, only Sense About Science, a small handful of university professors and a few trade associations originally had anything at all to say about the RCOG report – and these same faces popped up in almost all the UK media coverage.
Nobody else noticed that RCOG had published their “list” for mothers, and they would not have done had this small group of experts and reporters not made such a fuss about it – just as virtually nobody in the US noticed, barring an advocacy group with a conservative reputation and the US chemical industry trade association.
- Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents (workers-compensation.blogspot.com)
- A Powerful Union: OB-GYNs and Chemical Policy Reform (huffingtonpost.com)
- Environmental Chemicals are a #Pregnancy Risk says the #ACOG Report, by @acogNews (desdaughter.wordpress.com)
- How Environmental Toxins Harm Women’s Reproductive Health (livescience.com)
- Ob-Gyns Join in the Fight for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (shaneshirleysmith.com)
- Rising Risks to Latinos from Toxic Chemical Exposure (examiner.com)
- Report urges OB/GYNs to ask pregnant women about exposure to risky environmental chemicals (globalnews.ca)
- Report: Environmental Chemicals a Pregnancy Risk (abcnews.go.com)
- Mothers-to-be warned of risks from chemicals (readingeagle.com)
- Doc’s should warn about chemicals; health expert says (caribbeanmedschoolblog.wordpress.com)
The potential impact of exposure to low levels of mercury on the developing brain — specifically by women consuming fish during pregnancy — has long been the source of concern and some have argued that the chemical may be responsible for behavioral disorders such as autism. However, a new study that draws upon more than 30 years of research in the Republic of Seychelles reports that there is no association between pre-natal mercury exposure and autism-like behaviors.
- Mercury Exposure Is Not Linked To Autism, After All; Pregnant Women Can Eat Up To 12 Meals Of Fish Weekly With No Risks (medicaldaily.com)
- Could autism be linked to pollution? (wwlp.com)
- Ultrasound and Autism: Association, Link, or Coincidence? (fetalsonosafety.com)
- Causes of Autism During Pregnancy: Air Pollution Doubles the Risk – Study (latinospost.com)
A new Cochrane Review concludes that all countries should consider establishing proper home birth services. They should also provide low-risk pregnant women with information enabling them to make an informed choice. The review has been prepared by senior researcher, statistician Ole Olsen, the Research Unit for General Practice, University of Copenhagen, and midwifery lecturer PhD Jette Aaroe Clausen.
In many countries it is believed that the safest option for all women is to give birth in hospital. However, observational studies of increasingly better quality and in different settings suggest that planned home birth in many places can be as safe as planned hospital birth and with less intervention and fewer complications.
“If home birth is going be an attractive and safe option for most pregnant women, it has to be an integrated part of the health care system,” Ole Olsen says and adds, “In several Danish regions the home birth service has been very well organised for several years. This is not the case everywhere in the world.”
The updated Cochrane Review concludes that there is no strong evidence from experimental studies (randomised trials) to favour either planned hospital birth or planned home birth for low-risk pregnant women. At least not as long as the planned home birth is assisted by an experienced midwife with collaborative medical back up in case transfer should be necessary.
Fewer interventions in home birth
Routines and easy access to medical interventions may increase the risk of unnecessary interventions in birth explaining why women who give birth at home have a higher likelihood for a spontaneous labour. There are 20-60 per cent fewer interventions, for example fewer cesarean sections, epidurals and augmentation among those women who plan a homebirth; and 10-30 per cent fewer complications, for example post partum bleeding and severe perineal tears.
“Patience is important if women want to avoid interference and give birth spontaneously,” says Jette Aaroe Clausen. “At home the temptation to make unnecessary interventions is reduced. The woman avoids for example routine electronic monitoring that may easily lead to further interventions in birth.”
Jette Aaroe Clausen adds that interventions in childbirth are common in many countries, but also that there is a growing concern internationally because interventions may lead to iatrogenic effects; iatrogenic effects meaning unintended consequences of the intervention. Routine electronic monitoring may for example lead to more women having artificial rupture of membranes which in turn can lead to more interventions.
Evidence and human rights
While the scientific evidence from observational studies has been growing, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in the case Ternovszky versus Hungary has handed down a judgment stating that “the right to respect for private life includes the right to choose the circumstances of birth”. This is quoted in the review.
Thus the conclusions of the review are based on human rights and ethics as well as on results from the best available scientific studies.###
Ref.: Olsen O, Clausen JA. Planned hospital birth versus planned home birth. The Cochrane Library, Issue 9, 2012.
The full review may be available here (depends on country): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000352.pub2/abstract
[Check your local medical, academic, and public libraries for access to this article.
Many medical and academic libraries are open to the public. Ask a reference librarian for assistance]
- Cocharane Reviews
Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They also assess the accuracy of a diagnostic test for a given condition in a specific patient group and setting. They are published online in The Cochrane Library.
- Birth is no reason to go to hospital (eurekalert.org)
- Birth is no reason to go to hospital, review says (medicalxpress.com)
- Balanced Birthing Options (betternature.wordpress.com)
- Home births: Midwives ‘risk not being objective enough’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- SOCIAL GOOD: One Mom’s Mission to Save Lives in Laos (worldmomsblog.com)
- Autumn’s Homebirth (thebirthinterviewproject.com)
- The Myth of a Safer Hospital Birth for Low-Risk Pregnancies (foodconsumer.org)
Increased levels of depression as a result of discrimination could contribute to low birth weight babies.
Given the well-documented relationship between low birth weight and the increased risk of health problems throughout one’s lifespan, it is vital to reduce any potential contributors to low birth weight. A new study by Valerie Earnshaw and her colleagues from Yale University sheds light on one possible causal factor. Their findings, published online in Springer’s journal, theAnnals of Behavioral Medicine, suggest that chronic, everyday instances of discrimination against pregnant, urban women of color may play a significant role in contributing to low birth weight babies.
Twice as many black women give birth to low birth weight babies than white or Latina women in the U.S. Reasons for this disparity are, as yet, unclear. But initial evidence suggests a link may exist between discrimination experienced while pregnant and the incidence of low birth weight. In addition, experiences of discrimination have also been linked to depression, which causes physiological changes that can have a negative effect on a pregnancy…
Levels of everyday discrimination reported were generally low. However, the impact of discrimination was the same in all the participants regardless of age, ethnicity or type of discrimination reported. Women reporting greater levels of discrimination were more prone to depressive symptoms, and ultimately went on to have babies with lower birth weights than those reporting lower levels of discrimination. This has implications for healthcare providers who work with pregnant teens and young women during the pre-natal period, while they have the opportunity to try and reduce the potential impacts discrimination on the pregnancy.
The authors conclude that “Given the associations between birth weight and health across the life span, it is critical to reduce discrimination directed at urban youth of color so that all children are able to begin life with greater promise for health. In doing so, we have the possibility to eliminate disparities not only in birth weight, but in health outcomes across the lifespan.”
- Study finds racism may harm pregnant women of color and cause low birth weight in newborns (thegrio.com)
- The effects of discrimination could last a lifetime (eurekalert.org)
- The effects of discrimination could last a lifetime (whitenewsnow.com)
- Increased risk of prematurity and low birth weight in babies born after 3 or more abortions (eurekalert.org)
- Health News: Maternity leave delay as dangerous to unborn baby as smoking (dailyrecord.co.uk)
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 ofEnvironmental 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 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….
- Chemical exposure in the womb from household items may contribute to obesity (engineeringevil.com)
- Chemical exposure in the womb from household items may contribute to obesity (scienceblog.com)
- Chemical exposure in the womb from household items may contribute to obesity (eurekalert.org)
- Chemical exposure in the womb from household items may contribute to obesity (medicalxpress.com)
- Child obesity link to magnetic field exposure in the womb (nyrnaturalnews.com)
- Exposure To Magnetic Fields In The Womb Associated With Increased Risk Of Obesity In Childhood (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Exposure To Chemical In Drinking Water In The Womb And Early Childhood May Affect Vision (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Diesel Exhaust Exposure In The Womb A Possible Risk Factor For Obesity (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Exposure to environmental chemicals in the womb reprograms the rodent brain to disrupt reproduction (medicalxpress.com)
- Widely Used Pesticide Harms Boys’ Brains (eastbayexpress.com)
Go to http://prolife2011.wordpress.com/category/facts/ for larger image
From the Full Text Reports Web page
December 23, 2011Source: Guttmacher Institute
In the United States, nearly nine in 10 abortions occur in the first trimester, but, until now, little was known about the 10% of women who have abortions at 13 weeks’ gestation or later. According to “Who Has Second-Trimester Abortions in the United States?,” by Rachel K. Jones and Lawrence B. Finer of the Guttmacher Institute, certain groups of women are overrepresented among second-trimester abortion patients. These groups include women with lower educational levels, black women and women who have experienced multiple disruptive events in the last year, such as unemployment or separating from a partner.
This first-ever comprehensive profile of second-trimester abortion patients in the United States relies on data from a nationally representative sample of more than 9,400 women obtaining abortions in 2008. The authors first compared first-trimester abortion patients with those obtaining abortions at 13 weeks or later to see if there were differences in characteristics between the groups; next, among second-trimester abortion patients, they compared early second-trimester abortion patients (13–15 weeks’ gestation) with those having abortions at 16 weeks or later.
Certain groups of women were more likely than others to obtain abortions at 13 weeks or later. For example, teens were more likely than older women to obtain an abortion in the second trimester—accounting for 14% of abortions among teens, compared with 9% among women aged 30 and older. Similarly, the proportion of abortions that occurred in the second trimester was 13% among black women, compared with 9% among non-Hispanic whites; 13% among women who had not graduated from high school, compared with 6% among college graduates; 14% among those using health insurance to pay for the procedure, compared with 8% among those who paid out of pocket; and 15% among those who had experienced three or more disruptive events in the past year, compared with 9% among women experiencing no disruptive events.+ Full Report (PDF)
- Report: Younger, Less Educated Women More Likely To Undergo Second Trimester Abortions (thinkprogress.org)
- Study Reveals Who Gets Late-term Abortions (maboulette.wordpress.com)
- Study Reveals Who Gets Late-Term Abortions (livescience.com)
Infant Mortality and Pregnancy LossThe Maternal and Child Health Library at Georgetown University released a new edition of the knowledge path, Infant Mortality and Pregnancy Loss. The knowledge path directs readers to resources that analyze data, report on research aimed at identifying causes and promising intervention strategies, and describe risk-reduction efforts as well as bereavement-support programs. Separate sections present resources about factors that contribute to infant mortality and pregnancy loss: birth defects, injuries, low birthweight and prematurity, preconception and pregnancy, and safe sleep environments. The knowledge path was created for health professionals, policymakers, researchers, and families. View the path online at http://www.mchlibrary.info/KnowledgePaths/kp_infmort.html. A resource brief for families accompanies the knowledge path and is available at http://www.mchlibrary.info/families/frb_infmort.html.
Research suggests exposure to electromagnetic fields before and after birth might play role
MONDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) — Children exposed to cell phones in the womb and after birth had a higher risk of behavior problems by their seventh birthday, possibly related to the electromagnetic fields emitted by the devices, a new study of nearly 29,000 children suggests.
The findings replicate those of a 2008 study of 13,000 children conducted by the same U.S. researchers. And while the earlier study did not factor in some potentially important variables that could have affected its results, this new one included them, said lead author Leeka Kheifets, an epidemiologist at the School of Public Health at the University of California at Los Angeles.
“These new results back the previous research and reduce the likelihood that this could be a chance finding,” said Kheifets. She stressed that the findings suggest, but do not prove, a connection between cell phone exposure and later behavior problems in kids.
The study was published online Dec. 6 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Farm Environment, Cats Help Kids Avoid Skin Disease & Related Article (Growing Up on Farm Strengthens Immune System)
- Growing Up On A Farm Directly Affects Regulation Of The Immune System (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Growing up on a farm directly affects regulation of the immune system (eurekalert.org)
Excerpt from a October 6, 2010Reuters Health Information item
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – New research confirms that women plagued by morning sickness in early pregnancy are less likely to miscarry.
But women who don’t experience nausea and vomiting during their first trimester shouldn’t be alarmed, Dr. Ronna L. Chan of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the study’s authors, told Reuters Health.
because of the nature of the study, the authors could not prove that there was any cause-effect relationship between morning sickness and a healthier pregnancy, just that the two were linked.
A number of theories have been put forth to explain why morning sickness might signal a healthier pregnancy, Chan said. “Some postulate nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is a mechanism to help improve the quality of a pregnant woman’s diet or a way to reduce or eliminate potentially harmful substances from the mother in order to protect the fetus,” she explained.
While these ideas are “plausible,” the researcher said, she thinks the symptoms reflect a pregnant woman’s sensitivity to the sharp rise in certain hormones key for sustaining pregnancy that occurs during the first trimester.
Note from the editor…
About 15 years ago I took several ecology classes. One instructor agreed with one of the hypotheses above, that morning sickness is a product of natural selection in keeping potentially harmful substances away from the fetus. He gave us several more examples (they elude me now!) of treating conditions that are in reality beneficial. I think some fevers were another example.