pregnant women

Moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy do not harm baby's IQ

Moderate amounts do not cause behavioral problems, obesity

November 19, 2015

Science Daily/Nationwide Children's Hospital

Women drinking and eating moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy should be reassured that they are not harming their child's intelligence, according to a study from The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital that was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The research, one of the first studies to focus on how in utero caffeine exposure affects a child's future intelligence (IQ) and behavior later in childhood, found caffeine did not lead to a reduced IQ or increased behavioral problems.

"We did not find evidence of an adverse association of maternal pregnancy caffeine consumption with child cognition or behavior at 4 or 7 years of age," said Mark A. Klebanoff, MD, principal investigator in the Center for Perinatal Research at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's and faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

 

Researchers analyzed a marker of caffeine in the blood of 2,197 expectant mothers who took part in the Collaborative Perinatal Project, conducted at multiple sites in the United States in 1959-74. According to the researchers, this was an era when coffee consumption during pregnancy was more prevalent than today, as there was little concern regarding the safety of caffeine. Therefore, the study was able to investigate a broader range of caffeine intake than if a similar study was done today.

 

Researchers looked at the association between a chemical called paraxanthine, caffeine's primary metabolite, at two points in pregnancy. They compared those levels to the child's IQ and behavior at 4 and 7 years of age.

 

Researchers found there were no consistent patterns between maternal caffeine ingestion and the development and behavior of those children at those points in their lives.

 

This study follows previous research regarding caffeine consumption during pregnancy conducted at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's. Dr. Klebanoff and Sarah Keim, PhD, co-author and principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's, published a study in Epidemiology in March 2015 involving the same group of women from The Collaborative Perinatal Project and found that increased ingestion of caffeine during pregnancy did not increase the risk of childhood obesity.

 

Of the children in the study, about 11 percent were considered obese at 4 years and about 7 percent at 7 years. However, the researchers found no associations between their mother's caffeine intake and these occurrences of obesity.

 

"Taken as a whole, we consider our results to be reassuring for pregnant women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine or the equivalent to 1 or 2 cups of coffee per day," said Dr. Keim, who is also a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151119211435.htm

Researchers discover surprising link between chronic stress, preterm birth

July 16, 2015

Science Daily/University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

New study shows adverse life events in childhood can heighten a woman's risk of preterm birth.

Excessive stress can result in preterm birth, which has been show to affect a person's health throughout their life, surprising new research shows. The World Health Organization estimates 15 million babies are born preterm each year. It is the leading cause of death for children under the age of five, and babies who survive are at much higher risk of developing a number of health conditions including chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease and metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.

 

"Chronic stress is one of the better predictors of preterm birth," says Olson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. "In fact, if women are exposed to two or more adverse childhood experiences while growing up, their risk of preterm birth doubles."

 

Olson, along with Kathleen Hegadoren, a professor in the U of A's Faculty of Nursing, and graduate student Inge Christiaens, are the authors of a new study in the journal BMC Medicine linking chronic stress with preterm birth.

 

The World Health Organization estimates 15 million babies are born preterm each year. It is the leading cause of death for children under the age of five, and babies who survive are at much higher risk of developing a number of health conditions including chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease and metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. They are also at increased risk for both cognitive and behavioural issues.

 

As part of the study, the researchers recruited more than 200 women who had given birth in Edmonton-area hospitals. One-third of the women had given birth preterm, with the remaining women having delivered at term. The women were asked to fill out a stress questionnaire, giving researchers insight into their early life experiences and the stresses that resulted from those experiences.

 

"All of the adverse childhood events that we asked about had to occur prior to the age of 18, and the average age of delivery in our study was 28 years. These adverse childhood events occurred, on average, 10 years or more before the women actually delivered," says Olson.

 

"Although not inevitable, childhood adversity can result in long-term impacts on health across the lifespan, including pregnancy outcomes," adds Hegadoren. "Prenatal care providers need to ask pregnant women about past and current experiences that may have affected their health. In doing that, they can help women understand a potential link between life experiences and preterm birth risk."

 

Though the research gives important new understanding about preterm birth, more answers are still needed. The researchers are now exploring how the body can "remember" traumatic events early in life in such a way that it affects health outcomes years later. Olson believes that a high burden of stressful experiences in childhood may cause changes in how genes are expressed in later life. He notes that earlier published studies involving preclinical models suggest that may be the case but that further human studies are needed.

 

Olson and Hegadoren hope to continue building upon the research to better predict which women will be at risk of preterm birth. They also hope to develop early interventions.

 

"If we know who is at risk, we can begin to treat them before the end of their pregnancy--and hopefully they'll have improved pregnancy outcomes."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150716101515.htm

Prenatal exposure to common household chemicals linked with substantial drop in child IQ

December 10, 2014

Science Daily/Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of two common chemicals found in the home -- di-n-butyl phthalate and di-isobutyl phthalate -- had an IQ score, on average, more than six points lower than children exposed at lower levels, according to researchers.

 

The study is the first to report a link between prenatal exposure to phthalates and IQ in school-age children. While avoiding all phthalates in the United States is for now impossible, the researchers recommend that pregnant women take steps to limit exposure by not microwaving food in plastics, avoiding scented products as much as possible, including air fresheners, and dryer sheets, and not using recyclable plastics labeled as 3, 6, or 7.

 

DnBP and DiBP are found in a wide variety of consumer products, from dryer sheets to vinyl fabrics to personal care products like lipstick, hairspray, and nail polish, even some soaps.

 

Since 2009, several phthalates have been banned from children's toys and other childcare articles in the United States. However, no steps have been taken to protect the developing fetus by alerting pregnant women to potential exposures. In the U.S., phthalates are rarely listed as ingredients on products in which they are used.

 

The range of phthalate metabolite exposures measured in the mothers was not unusual: it was within what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed in a national sample.

"Pregnant women across the United States are exposed to phthalates almost daily, many at levels similar to those that we found were associated with substantial reductions in the IQ of children," says lead author Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School.

 

"The magnitude of these IQ differences is troubling," says senior author Robin Whyatt, DrPH, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School. "A six- or seven-point decline in IQ may have substantial consequences for academic achievement and occupational potential."

 

"While there has been some regulation to ban phthalates from toys of young children," adds Dr. Factor-Litvak, "there is no legislation governing exposure during pregnancy, which is likely the most sensitive period for brain development. Indeed, phthalates are not required to be on product labeling."

 

While avoiding all phthalates in the United States is for now impossible, the researchers recommend that pregnant women take steps to limit exposure by not microwaving food in plastics, avoiding scented products as much as possible, including air fresheners, and dryer sheets, and not using recyclable plastics labeled as 3, 6, or 7.

 

The findings build on earlier, similar observations by the researchers of associations between prenatal exposure to DnBP and DiBP and children's cognitive and motor development and behavior at age 3. This September, they reported a link between prenatal exposure to phthalates and risk for childhood asthma.

 

It's not known how phthalates affect child health. However, numerous studies show that they disrupt the actions of hormones, including testosterone and thyroid hormone. Inflammation and oxidative stress may also play a role.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141210140823.htm

Pregnant women with PTSD more likely to give birth prematurely

- November 6, 2014

Science Daily/Stanford University Medical Center

Pregnant women with post-traumatic stress disorder are at increased risk of giving birth prematurely, a new study has found. The study, which examined more than 16,000 births to female veterans, is the largest ever to evaluate connections between PTSD and preterm birth.

 

Having PTSD in the year before delivery increased a woman's risk of spontaneous premature delivery by 35 percent, the research showed. The results will be published online Nov. 6 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

 

"This study gives us a convincing epidemiological basis to say that, yes, PTSD is a risk factor for preterm delivery," said the study's senior author, Ciaran Phibbs, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and an investigator at the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University. "Mothers with PTSD should be treated as having high-risk pregnancies."

 

Spontaneous preterm births, in which the mother goes into labor and delivers more than three weeks early, account for about six deliveries per 100 in the general population. This means that the risk imposed by PTSD translates into a total of about two additional premature babies for every 100 births. In total, about 12 babies per 100 arrive prematurely; some are born early because of medical problems for the mother or baby, rather than because of spontaneous labor.

 

The effect of stress

 In other words, although pregnant women with PTSD may have other health problems or behave in risky ways, it's the PTSD that counts for triggering labor early.

 

"The mechanism is biologic," Phibbs said. "Stress is setting off biologic pathways that are inducing preterm labor. It's not the other psychiatric conditions or risky behaviors that are driving it."

 

However, if a woman had been diagnosed with PTSD in the past but had not experienced the disorder in the year before giving birth, her risk of delivering early was no higher than it was for women without PTSD. "This makes us hopeful that if you treat a mom who has active PTSD early in her pregnancy, her stress level could be reduced, and the risk of giving birth prematurely might go down," said Phibbs, adding that the idea needs to be tested.

 

Although PTSD is more common in military veterans than the general population, a fairly substantial number of civilian women also experience PTSD, Phibbs noted. "It's not unique to the VA or to combat," he said, noting that half of the women in the study who had PTSD had never been deployed to a combat zone. "This is relevant to all of obstetrics."

 

The VA has already incorporated the study's findings into care for pregnant women by instructing each VA medical center to treat pregnancies among women with recent PTSD as high-risk. And Phibbs' team is now investigating whether PTSD may also contribute to the risk of the mother or baby being diagnosed with a condition that causes doctors to recommend early delivery for health reasons.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141106173639.htm

Pregnant women respond to music with stronger physiological changes in blood pressure

May 20, 2014

Science Daily/Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Pregnant women, compared to their non-pregnant counterparts, rate music as more intensely pleasant and unpleasant, associated with greater changes in blood pressure, a study has demonstrated. Music appears to have an especially strong influence on pregnant women, a fact that may relate to a prenatal conditioning of the fetus to music.

 

Music can be soothing or stirring, it can make us dance or make us sad. Blood pressure, heartbeat, respiration and even body temperature -- music affects the body in a variety of ways. It triggers especially powerful physical reactions in pregnant women.

 

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have discovered that pregnant women compared to their non-pregnant counterparts rate music as more intensely pleasant and unpleasant, associated with greater changes in blood pressure. Music appears to have an especially strong influence on pregnant women, a fact that may relate to a prenatal conditioning of the fetus to music.

 

According to the results, music is a very special stimulus for pregnant women, to which they react strongly. "Every acoustic manipulation of music affects blood pressure in pregnant women far more intensely than in non-pregnant women," says Fritz. Why music has such a strong physiological influence on pregnant woman is still unknown.

 

Originally, the scientists suspected the hormone estrogen to play a mayor part in this process, because it has an influence on the brain's reward system, which is responsible for the pleasant sensations experienced while listening to music. However, non-pregnant women showed constant physiological responses throughout the contraceptive cycle, which made them subject to fluctuations in estrogen levels.

 

"Either estrogen levels are generally too low in non-pregnant women, or other physiological changes during pregnancy are responsible for this effect," explains Fritz.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520123513.htm

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out