Women/Prenatal/Infant10

Women's brains appear three years younger than men's

May explain why women more likely to stay mentally sharp in later years

February 4, 2019

Science Daily/Washington University School of Medicine

Women's brains appear to be three years younger than men's of the same age, according to a new study on brain metabolism. The findings could explain why women maintain their cognitive skills longer than men.

 

A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis finds that women's brains appear to be about three years younger than men's of the same chronological age, metabolically speaking. The findings, available online the week of Feb. 4 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could be one clue to why women tend to stay mentally sharp longer than men.

 

"We're just starting to understand how various sex-related factors might affect the trajectory of brain aging and how that might influence the vulnerability of the brain to neurodegenerative diseases," said senior author Manu Goyal, MD, an assistant professor of radiology at the university's Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology. "Brain metabolism might help us understand some of the differences we see between men and women as they age."

 

The brain runs on sugar, but how the brain uses sugar changes as people grow and age. Babies and children use some of their brain fuel in a process called aerobic glycolysis that sustains brain development and maturation. The rest of the sugar is burned to power the day-to-day tasks of thinking and doing. In adolescents and young adults, a considerable portion of brain sugar also is devoted to aerobic glycolysis, but the fraction drops steadily with age, leveling off at very low amounts by the time people are in their 60s.

 

But researchers have understood little about how brain metabolism differs between men and women. So Goyal and colleagues, including Marcus Raichle, MD, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Medicine and a professor of radiology, and Andrei Vlassenko, MD, PhD, an associate professor of radiology, studied 205 people to figure out how their brains use sugar.

 

The study participants -- 121 women and 84 men, ranging in age from 20 to 82 years -- underwent PET scans to measure the flow of oxygen and glucose in their brains. For each person, the researchers determined the fraction of sugar committed to aerobic glycolysis in various regions of the brain. They trained a machine-learning algorithm to find a relationship between age and brain metabolism by feeding it the men's ages and brain metabolism data. Then, the researchers entered women's brain metabolism data into the algorithm and directed the program to calculate each woman's brain age from its metabolism. The algorithm yielded brain ages an average of 3.8 years younger than the women's chronological ages.

 

The researchers also performed the analysis in reverse: They trained the algorithm on women's data and applied it to men's. This time, the algorithm reported that men's brains were 2.4 years older than their true ages.

 

"The average difference in calculated brain age between men and women is significant and reproducible, but it is only a fraction of the difference between any two individuals," Goyal said. "It is stronger than many sex differences that have been reported, but it's nowhere near as big a difference as some sex differences, such as height."

 

The relative youthfulness of women's brains was detectable even among the youngest participants, who were in their 20s.

 

"It's not that men's brains age faster -- they start adulthood about three years older than women, and that persists throughout life," said Goyal, who is also an assistant professor of neurology and of neuroscience. "What we don't know is what it means. I think this could mean that the reason women don't experience as much cognitive decline in later years is because their brains are effectively younger, and we're currently working on a study to confirm that."

 

Older women tend to score better than men of the same age on tests of reason, memory and problem solving. Goyal, Raichle, Vlassenko and colleagues are now following a cohort of adults over time to see whether people with younger-looking brains are less likely to develop cognitive problems.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190204172217.htm

Women gain weight when job demands are high

January 25, 2019

Science Daily/University of Gothenburg

Heavy pressures at work seem to predispose women to weight gain, irrespective of whether they have received an academic education. This is shown in a study of more than 3,800 people in Sweden.

 

"We were able to see that high job demands played a part in women's weight gain, while for men there was no association between high demands and weight gain," says Sofia Klingberg, a researcher in community medicine and public health at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and the study's lead author.

 

The basis for the article, published in the journal International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, was the Västerbotten Intervention Program, a Swedish population-based study. Klingberg's study included 3,872 participants in this program.

 

The women and men in the study were investigated on three occasions over a 20-year period with respect to such variables as body weight and demands and control at work. They were followed either from age 30 to 50 or from 40 to 60.

 

To estimate the level of job demands, the respondents were asked about their work pace, psychological pressures, whether there was enough time for their duties and how often the demands made were contradictory.

 

The questions about control at work covered such matters as how often they learned something new; whether the job called for imagination or advanced skills; and whether the respondent was personally able to choose what to do and how to do it.

 

The results show that the respondents with a low degree of control in their work more frequently gained considerable weight, defined as a weight gain of 10 percent or more, in the course of the study. This applied to women and men alike.

 

On the other hand, long-term exposure to high job demands played a part only for women. In just over half of the women who had been subjected to high demands, a major increase in weight took place over the 20 years. This gain in weight was some 20 percent higher than in women subject to low job demands.

 

"When it came to the level of demands at work, only the women were affected. We haven't investigated the underlying causes, but it may conceivably be about a combination of job demands and the greater responsibility for the home that women often assume. This may make it difficult to find time to exercise and live a healthy life," Klingberg says.

 

Having had or not had an academic education does not explain the associations in the study. Neither do quality of diet or other lifestyle factors. However, the information about dietary intake comes from the respondents themselves, with a certain risk of incorrect reporting.

 

At the same time, given the problems associated with work-related stress, the study is relevant in terms of public health. The researchers think identification of groups who are susceptible to stress and efforts to reduce work-related stress would likely achieve a decrease not only in weight gain but also in the incidence of ill health, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190125172950.htm

Maternal stress leads to overweight in children

January 9, 2019

Science Daily/Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Researchers were able to identify mother's perceived stress during the first year of the child's life as a risk factor for developing overweight in infancy. Researchers found this to have long-lasting effects on girls' weight development in particular.

 

Overweight is unhealthy. Yet more and more people in Germany are overweight, particularly children. As part of the LiNA mother-child study coordinated by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), researchers were able to identify mother's perceived stress during the first year of the child's life as a risk factor for developing overweight in infancy. According to the study recently published in the BMC Public Health specialist magazine, researchers from the UFZ, the University of Bristol and the Berlin Institute of Health found this to have long-lasting effects on girls' weight development in particular.

 

In Germany, nearly ten percent of children aged two to six are overweight, of which three percent are classified as obese. High-caloric diets and too little exercise are known to be risk factors for obesity. "Maternal stress is also thought to contribute to the development of obesity in children," explains nutritionist Dr Kristin Junge from the Department of Environmental Immunology at the UFZ. "In terms of child development, the period between pregnancy and the first years of life is particularly sensitive to external influences, which may lead to illness or obesity." And this may include psychological influences such as maternal stress. In their current study, UFZ researchers are investigating whether and how perceived maternal stress during pregnancy and the first two years of life, affects the child's weight development up to the age of five. To do so, they analysed data available from the LiNA mother-child study.

 

LiNA is a long-term study in which sensitive childhood development phases are investigated with special consideration given to lifestyle, environmental pollution and the subsequent occurrence of allergies, respiratory diseases and obesity. Since 2006, UFZ researchers in cooperation with the Städtisches Klinikum St. Georg in Leipzig, and more recently with the Universitätsklinikum Leipzig, have been following several hundred mother-child pairs from pregnancy onwards to investigate the effects of environmental influences and lifestyle habits on health and well-being. As part of the research, regular surveys are completed, pollutant measurements are taken in the living environment, and the mothers and children undergo clinical examinations. The current UFZ study is based on data from 498 mother-child pairs from the LiNA study. Using the data for height and weight, the researchers determined the children's Body Mass Index (BMI) and standardised the results by age and gender. Mothers' perceived stress was assessed by validated questionnaires and included topics such as worries and fears, feelings of tension, general satisfaction as well as coping with daily demands. "We compared the data on mothers' perceived stress during pregnancy and in the first two years of the child's life with the child's BMI development up to the age of five, and investigated whether there was a correlation," explains biochemist Dr Beate Leppert, the study's lead author.

 

First year of life particularly influential

 

And the study results show: There is actually a correlation. If mothers' perceived stress was high during the child's first year of life, there was a high probability that her child would develop a higher BMI in the first five years of their life. "The effects of maternal stress seem to have a long-term impact," says Kristin Junge. The correlation between perceived maternal stress in the child's first year of life and an increased BMI was especially evident in girls. "It seems that daughters of stressed mothers in particular are at increased risk of becoming overweight," says Dr Saskia Trump, senior author of the current study,who now works at the Berlin Institute for Health Research. "There are studies that demonstrate that psychological factors such as perceived maternal stress may be experienced less intensely or may be better compensated by boys." Perceived maternal stress during pregnancy or during the child's second year of life showed little evidence for an effect on the weight development of either gender. "The first year of life seems to be a sensitive phase and a characteristic factor for the tendency to be overweight," says Dr Junge. After all, mothers and children usually spend the entire first year together -- a lot of time in which the mother's perceived stress and/or associated behaviour is experienced by the child. "During this time, special attention should therefore be paid to the mother's condition," adds Dr Trump.

 

Identified stress factors

 

But what causes perceived maternal stress in the first place? To answer this question, researchers examined further data from the mother-child study and searched for possible influencing factors, such as household income, level of education, and the quality of the living environment. The results showed that mothers with a considerably higher perceived stress level were often exposed to high levels of traffic or noise, had poor living conditions or had a low household income. Maternal stress caused by difficult living conditions or an unfavourable living environment can lead to children becoming overweight in the long term. "Stress perceived by mothers should be taken seriously," says Dr Junge. "Midwives, gynaecologists, paediatricians and GPs should be particularly attentive to signs of stress in the first year following the child's birth." After all, if mothers are helped early on or are offered support, we may be able to kill two birds with one stone: To improve maternal well-being and also prevent their children becoming overweight. Following from this study, the UFZ team will continue to investigate whether the effects of perceived maternal stress also extend beyond the age of five.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190109102419.htm

Intermittent fasting could improve obese women's health

January 8, 2019

Science Daily/University of Adelaide

Research shows that obese women lost more weight and improved their health by fasting intermittently while following a strictly controlled diet.

 

The study, published in the journal Obesity, involved a sample of 88 women following carefully controlled diets over 10 weeks.

 

"Continuously restricting their diet is the main way that obese women try to tackle their weight," says Dr Amy Hutchison, lead author from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

 

"Unfortunately, studies have shown that long-term adherence to a restricted diet is very challenging for people to follow, so this study looked at the impact of intermittent fasting on weight loss.

 

"Obese women who followed a diet in which they ate 70% of their required energy intake and fasted intermittently lost the most weight.

 

"Other women in the study who either fasted intermittently without reducing their food intake, who reduced their food intake but did not fast, or did not restrict their diet at all, were not as successful in losing weight," says Dr Hutchison.

 

The study also checked the effect of the different diets on the women's health. Women who fasted intermittently as well as restricting their food improved their health more than those who only restricted their diet or only fasted intermittently.

 

"By adhering to a strict pattern of intermittent fasting and dieting, obese women have achieved significant weight loss and improvements in their health such as decreased markers for heart disease," says Dr Hutchison.

 

Participants who fasted intermittently ate breakfast and then refrained from eating for 24 hours followed by 24 hours of eating. The following day they fasted again.

 

All participants of the study were women who were overweight or obese with a Body Mass Index (BMI) in the 25-40 range and aged between 35 and 70 years. They followed a typical Australian diet consisting of 35% fat, 15% protein and 50% carbohydrate.

 

"The most successful participants lost approximately 0.5 to 1 kg per week for each week of the study," says Dr Hutchison.

 

"This study is adding to evidence that intermittent fasting, at least in the short term, may provide better outcomes than daily continuous diet restriction for health and potentially for weight loss," says Associate Professor Leonie Heilbronn from the University of Adelaide and SAHMRI.

 

"While the study confirms that intermittent fasting is more effective than continuous diet restriction, the underlying signal for limiting people's appetite, which could hold the key to triggering effective weight loss, requires further research."

 

New trials now being undertaken will examine the effectiveness of long-term fasting on both men and women.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190108125526.htm

High childhood BMI linked to obesity at age 24 in women

December 3, 2018

Science Daily/Penn State

Girls who gain weight more rapidly between the ages of 5 and 15 are more likely to be obese at age 24, according to researchers.

 

"This highlights the importance of prevention efforts in childhood and adolescence," said Emily Hohman, assistant research professor of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research. The center is a college-wide collaboration of researchers from Penn State and elsewhere focused on evidence-based research that can be applied to treatment and prevention programs.

 

The Penn State researchers completed a follow-up study using data collected from a 10-year longitudinal observational study done by other researchers. In the original study, the researchers gathered 197 non-Hispanic white girls all 5 years in age.

 

The original study found four different BMI trajectory groups based on patterns of growth between the ages of 5 and 15. The four groups were classified as accelerated weight gain from ages 5 to 15; accelerated weight gain from 5 to 9 followed by a leveling-off; weight tracked along the 60th percentile; and weight tracked along the 50th percentile. The previous study had found that the first group -- accelerated weight gain from ages 5 to 15 -- had higher fasting insulin, blood pressure and triglycerides at age 15 than the other groups.

 

The follow-up study tracked down 182 of the 197 original participants when they were 24 years old, 10 years after last contact. The researchers sent surveys that asked the women to self-report their weight, height, education level, dieting, relationship, student and work status. The women who reported having a child were excluded from the follow-up.

 

The researchers found the accelerated weight gain from ages 5 to 15 group had a 93 percent rate of overweight or obesity at age 24 compared to just 20 to 37 percent in the other three groups.

 

"There is a need for prevention in young adulthood, too," said Hohman. "Kids are going off to college, getting their first jobs, and leaving home. This is another critical window where long-term health habits can develop, and obesity risk might increase."

 

A high BMI throughout childhood is associated with negative health outcomes in adulthood including obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to the paper, which was made available online in July 2018 ahead of peer-review and publication this month in Eating Behaviors.

 

"We found that about 20 to 30 percent of girls who did not have accelerated weight gain in childhood or adolescence ended up having overweight or obesity at age 24," said Hohman.

 

This shows how eating behaviors and lifestyle choices can impact BMI as well.

 

For future work, the researchers plan to test additional psychological and physiological measures in person.

 

"We would love to bring the women back in to get additional data on eating behaviors and health," said Hohman. "We just need to find the funding."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181203162739.htm

Does a woman's weight gain during pregnancy affect children's bone health?

November 7, 2018

Science Daily/Wiley

A new study has examined whether managing weight during pregnancy might affect children's bone mass. In under/normal weight mothers, weight gain during pregnancy was associated with slightly increased bone mass at seven years of age in children, while in overweight/obese mothers, no beneficial effect of weight gain on bone mass was observed.

 

In the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research study, investigators analyzed prospective data from 2,167 mother-child pairs from Portugal. In under/normal weight mothers, weight gain during pregnancy was associated with slightly increased bone mass at 7 years of age in children, while in overweight/obese mothers, no beneficial effect of weight gain on bone mass was observed.

 

Given the well-known adverse implications of excessive weight gain during pregnancy for both the mother and child on various aspects of health, following the current recommendations on pregnancy weight gain should not have consequences on children's skeletal health.

 

"Until recently, it was a widely held scientific belief that any weight gain from the mother during pregnancy would have a beneficial effect on children's bone mass. Our study results corroborate that there is no benefit in gaining weight above the US Institute of

 

Medicine recommendations for pregnancy weight gain for children's bone mass, in both normal and overweight women prior to pregnancy," said lead author Dr. Teresa Monjardino, of the Universidade do Porto, in Portugal.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181107082520.htm

Effects of a high-fat diet may be passed on for three generations

October 12, 2018

Science Daily/BioMed Central

A high-fat diet in female mice affects their offspring's obesity, insulin resistance and addictive-like behaviors for three generations, according to a new study.

 

Researchers at ETH Zurich, Switzerland showed that second generation offspring -- grandchildren of mice that had consumed a high-fat diet before, during and after pregnancy showed addictive-like behaviors such as increased sensitivity and preference for drugs, as well as characteristics of obesity, including changes in their metabolism. In third generation offspring (the great grandchildren), the authors observed differences between males and females, with only females showing addictive-like behaviors and only males showing obesity characteristics.

 

This was the case although the original female mice themselves never became obese and although none of the following generations consumed a high-fat diet.

 

Dr Daria Peleg-Raibstein, the corresponding author said: "Most studies so far have only looked at the second generation or followed the long-term effects of obesity and diabetes on the immediate offspring. This study is the first to look at the effects of maternal overeating up until the third generation in the context of addiction as well as obesity."

 

The authors investigated these effects specifically for transmission via male offspring up until, and including, the third generation. To do so, they fed female mice either high-fat diet or a standard laboratory diet for nine weeks -- pre-mating, during pregnancy and during lactation. Their male offspring were then mated with females that had been fed a standard laboratory diet to generate the second-generation offspring. The male offspring of these mice was again mated with females that had been fed a standard laboratory diet to generate the third-generation offspring.

 

The authors measured body weight, insulin sensitivity, metabolic rates, and blood plasma parameters such as insulin and cholesterol in second and third-generation offspring. In behavioral experiments they investigated if the mice chose a high-fat over a standard laboratory diet or an alcohol solution over water, as well as their activity levels after exposure to amphetamines. They did this to better understand if a maternal high-fat diet had an effect on obesity, overeating and drug sensitivity in subsequent generations.

 

Dr Peleg-Raibstein said: "To combat the current obesity epidemic, it is important to identify the underlying mechanisms and to find ways for early prevention. The research could help improve health advice and education for pregnant and breastfeeding couples and give their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren a better chance of a healthy lifestyle. It may also provide a way of identifying risk factors for how people develop obesity and addiction and suggest early interventions for at-risk groups."

 

Dr Peleg-Raibstein added: "It is quite a leap to apply conclusions from mouse studies to humans, but studying effects of maternal over-eating is almost impossible to do in people because there are so many confounding factors, such as socio-economic background, the parents' food preferences or their existing health conditions. The mouse model allowed us to study the effects of a high-fat diet on subsequent generations without these factors."

 

Further studies are needed to determine the molecular mechanism by which the effects of a female high-fat diet may be passed on to following generations.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181012082710.htm

Overweight pregnant women can safely cut calories, restrict weight gain

Healthier for mom and baby to control mom's weight gain during pregnancy

September 24, 2018

Science Daily/Northwestern University

With proper nutrition guidance, it is safe and feasible to restrict weight gain in obese and overweight pregnant women, a new study shows.

 

Being obese or overweight during pregnancy can result in serious health problems for the mother and child. Obstetricians are often reluctant to recommend restricted weight gain for pregnant women due to safety concerns for the baby and lack of time and tools to safely guide women in their weight control efforts.

 

A new Northwestern Medicine study shows with proper nutrition guidance it is safe and feasible to restrict weight gain in obese and overweight pregnant women. The obese and overweight women in the study gained five pounds less during their pregnancy than those in the control group. Their babies were born in the normal weight range.

 

The approach included nutritional counseling on a healthy diet and lifestyle as supported by a commercially available smartphone diet app, with ongoing coaching via the phone and online.

 

"We need to help these women, who make up the majority of pregnancies in the U.S, leverage this unique opportunity during their pregnancy to adopt a healthier diet and lifestyle plan that they can follow throughout pregnancy and, hopefully, post-partum," said lead study author Linda Van Horn, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "These results show promise in harnessing modern technology to help a mom achieve those goals."

 

The majority of U.S. women of reproductive age are overweight or obese, and the risk of excess gestational weight gain is higher for them than women of healthy weight. Among the risks for women and their babies: diabetes, preeclampsia, hypertension and birth defects.

 

Van Horn, along with obstetrician colleague Dr. Alan Peaceman, developed and led the study, called MOMFIT (Maternal Offspring Metabolics: Family Intervention Trial). It was part of the Lifestyle Interventions for Expectant Moms (LIFE-Moms) Consortium, a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported research project, with each study implementing separate interventions.

 

The Northwestern study was novel because it concentrated on improving diet quality and healthy lifestyle in the moms using modern tools and focused on potential maternal fetal nutrition advantages that could have lifelong benefits, Van Horn said.

 

The study will be published Sept. 24 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

 

This is believed to be the first study of obese and overweight pregnant women using a technologically advanced, commercially available weight-loss smartphone app to test the effects of a specially tailored diet combined with modest physical activity.

 

Existing commercial weight control technologies target non-pregnant women and don't address prenatal energy and nutrient needs, the authors said. Most commercial apps are designed to support weight loss. During pregnancy, weight gain is anticipated and appropriate, but it should be curtailed in overweight and obese women.

 

"MOMFIT demonstrates the feasibility of counseling pregnant women in healthy diet and lifestyle behaviors through nutrition coaching using modern technology," Van Horn said. "Applying this approach in a clinical setting could help women achieve recommended weight-gain goals during pregnancy and improve postpartum lifestyle behaviors for the whole family."

 

One unusual outcome of the trial was a higher rate of cesarean sections for the women in the intervention group. Researchers are investigating possible contributors to this finding.

 

Will MOMFIT kids have less risk of developing obesity?

 

"The next big question is whether the children born to moms who restricted their weight gain will have a reduced risk of becoming obese themselves compared to children whose moms were in the control group," Van Horn said.

 

Children born to overweight and obese moms have more than a 50 percent chance of becoming overweight themselves. If both parents are overweight or obese, this risk can increase to more than 70 percent, according to epidemiological data.

 

The difference in the children's obesity risk won't be evident until they are three, four and five years old, which is when weight trajectories start to separate. Van Horn and colleagues have recently launched a new study -- KIDFIT -- to monitor the children of the women in her MOMFIT study and determine whether prenatal and/or postpartum diet and lifestyle counseling can help these children lower their risk of obesity.

 

Rebooting the whole family's diet

 

The study's goal was not weight loss. "Weight loss during pregnancy is not encouraged. Rather, we aimed for controlled weight gain by developing healthy diet habits and increasing physical activity that could be sustained long term.

 

"The overarching goal of MOMFIT was to help the mom make these changes while she was still pregnant, a time when many women are more motivated to do what is right for their babies, and then maintain these new behaviors and become a role model for the family and better informed about how to feed them," Van Horn said.

 

"The perpetuation of obesity is a never-ending cycle. We're attempting to interrupt that cycle and successfully influence the risk for developing pediatric obesity starting in utero and -- with additional follow up -- protect that child from adopting that parental heritage in the family home."

 

Fewer participants in the intervention group, 68.6 percent versus 85 percent, exceeded the National Academy of Medicine recommendations for pregnancy weight gain for obese and overweight women, which is limited to 11 to 25 pounds compared to 25 to 35 pounds for women of healthy weight. This is important evidence demonstrating the challenges of encouraging pregnant women to adhere to recommended diet and activity levels at a time when emotional-eating and reluctance to exercise tend to increase.

 

How the study worked

 

MOMFIT studied 281 ethnically diverse overweight or obese women ages 18 to 45, who were divided into the intervention or control group. Women in the intervention group met with a nutritionist who calculated the appropriate amount of calories for each participant and counseled her on a DASH-type diet -- higher in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and lean protein. It was modified to the restricted weight gain recommendations for each participant.

 

The DASH (Diet Approach to Stopping Hypertension) eating pattern is ideally suited to pregnancy, providing a pregnant woman with the calcium, potassium and protein she needs without the salt, sugar and saturated fat that she does not need, Van Horn said.

 

The women were also encouraged to walk at least 30 minutes or take 10,000 steps per day. The nutrition coach tracked each woman's weight gain, food intake and exercise. Telephone, text message prompts and e-mail reminders encouraged women to adhere to the program.

 

"It was technologically convenient yet strategic and nutritionally individualized," Van Horn said. "MOMFIT took a precision medicine approach to healthy eating utilizing a commercially available product."

 

Women tracked their food intake with the Lose It! app. Participants were also encouraged to sleep seven to nine hours daily, because sleep deprivation hampers metabolism and contributes to weight gain.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180924084332.htm

High blood sugar during pregnancy ups risk of mother's type 2 diabetes, child's obesity

September 11, 2018

Science Daily/NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Mothers with elevated blood glucose during pregnancy -- even if not high enough to meet the traditional definition of gestational diabetes -- were significantly more likely to have developed type 2 diabetes a decade after pregnancy than their counterparts without high blood glucose.

 

For children born to mothers with elevated or normal glucose, researchers found no statistically significant difference between the two groups of children in terms of their combined overweight and obesity, the study's primary outcome. However, when obesity was measured alone, children of mothers with elevated blood glucose were significantly more likely to be obese.

 

The results are part of a follow-up study published Sept. 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Funded primarily by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institute of Health, the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes-Follow-up Study or HAPO-FUS, followed mothers and their children 10-14 years after birth.

 

The original HAPO study found that even modestly elevated blood glucose levels increased the risks of complications for the baby both before and shortly after birth. Based on these results many, but not all, organizations adopted a new definition of gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.

 

HAPO-FUS compared the long-term effects of blood glucose levels in mothers who would have met the new definition of gestational diabetes with those who did not. Researchers aimed to learn if modest increases in blood glucose increased the mother's risk of developing type 2 diabetes or prediabetes and the risk of obesity in the mother's offspring at least a decade after giving birth.

 

The study found the harms of even modestly elevated blood glucose for both mother and child extend more than a decade. Among women with elevated blood glucose during pregnancy, nearly 11 percent had type 2 diabetes at the follow-up study visit 10-14 years after childbirth and about 42 percent had prediabetes. Of their counterparts who did not have elevated blood glucose during pregnancy, about 2 percent had type 2 diabetes and about 18 percent had prediabetes. The study examined 4,697 mothers for type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and other disorders of glucose metabolism.

 

Researchers analyzed 4,832 children for overweight and obesity, collecting data using body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, skin fold thickness and waist circumference. They found that these measures all showed that children born to mothers with elevated glucose levels were more likely to be obese. For example, using BMI, 19 percent of children born to mothers with elevated blood glucose were obese, compared with 10 percent for children of mothers with normal glucose.

 

Adjusting for the mother's BMI reduced -- but did not eliminate -- the differences between the groups.

 

"The differences in mothers and their children due to the mother's higher blood glucose are very concerning. Even accounting for the mother's weight, glucose had an independent effect," said Dr. Barbara Linder, a study author and senior advisor for childhood diabetes research at the NIDDK. "Our findings add to the motivation to find ways to help women at high risk for gestational diabetes who are or plan to get pregnant to take steps to reduce their risk."

 

The original HAPO study looked at 23,316 mother-child pairs and found that a mother's blood sugar levels, even short of diabetes, were associated with her newborn's birth weight and body fat. HAPO results led an international panel of experts to recommend new diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes in 2010. However, not all professional groups adopted these proposed criteria.

 

"HAPO helped redefine gestational diabetes, and now its follow up continues to raise important alarms about the long-term danger of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy," said study chair Dr. Boyd Metzger, emeritus Tom D. Spies Professor of Nutrition and Metabolism at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. "This study shows that both mothers with elevated blood glucose levels and their offspring are at higher risk for adverse health effects later in life. More research is needed to find interventions to help both these women and their children."

 

None of the women in HAPO-FUS were diagnosed with or treated for gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. HAPO recruited an international, racially and ethnically diverse group. Limitations of the data in HAPO include that body mass index was obtained during pregnancy, not before. As well, HAPO-FUS did not collect data on the women or children's lifestyles to evaluate other factors that could contribute to obesity or type 2 diabetes.

 

The results build on findings from other studies showing that type 2 diabetes in mothers during pregnancy is associated with obesity in that mother's offspring and that elevated blood glucose increases risk of type 2 diabetes in the woman after pregnancy.

 

"HAPO and its follow-up study have shown the detrimental long-term effects of elevated blood glucose on both mother and child and the importance of early intervention for women at risk for gestational diabetes," said NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers. "We hope these results will be used to improve the health of generations to come."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180911152429.htm

Pregnant women can safely control weight gain through diet and lifestyle changes

September 6, 2018

Science Daily/Northwestern University

Many overweight/obese women gain too much weight during pregnancy. New trials showed these women can safely limit their weight gain with diet and exercise interventions. The reduced weight gain, however, did not result in fewer obstetrical complications. The finding suggests that the lifestyle changes need to start before pregnancy.

 

A new group of trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that pregnant women can safely limit their weight gain with diet and exercise interventions. It is the largest set of trials in the U.S. to target pregnancy weight gain of overweight and obese women. The trials included diverse socioeconomic groups, which means the findings are generalizable to a large population.

 

"This is an important study because it affirms that women can change behaviors to control the amount of weight gained in pregnancy," said lead author Dr. Alan Peaceman, chief of maternal fetal medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine high-risk obstetrician.

 

However, the reduced weight gain -- about four pounds per woman -- did not result in fewer obstetrical complications, including cesarean sections, diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia, or change the average birth weight of the baby.

 

"We think that by the time these women are already in the second trimester, it may already be late to change important outcomes," Peaceman said. "To lower the risk of obstetrical complications, they may have to start changing their lifestyle before or immediately after they conceive."

 

Investigators are hopeful that there will be longer-term benefits of the interventions in the infants, such as less childhood obesity or fewer metabolic abnormalities such as childhood diabetes.

 

The study was published Sept. 6 in the journal Obesity.

 

Seven teams of investigators recruited 1,150 participants for the LIFE-Mom trials (579 women had the lifestyle intervention, 571 had standard care), which ran from the second trimester to birth. Each trial offered a varied lifestyle intervention, but all aimed to improve diet quality and reduce calories, increase physical activity and incorporate behavior strategies such as self-monitoring.

 

Overweight and obese women are "hard nut to crack"

 

Overweight and obese women are a critical group to target, because they have higher rates of excess pregnancy weight gain and of retaining that weight postpartum. They also are more likely to have children who are obese. The majority of U.S. women of reproductive age are overweight or obese.

 

About 62 percent of the women in the intervention groups, versus 75 percent in the control groups, exceeded the National Academy of Medicine recommendations for pregnancy weight gain. The recommendation is overweight women limit their pregnancy weight gain to 15 to 25 pounds and obese women to 11 to 20 pounds, compared to 25 to 35 pounds for non-overweight women.

 

The fact that so many women in the intervention groups still exceeded the recommended weight gain shows the challenges of encouraging pregnant women to adhere to recommended diet and activity levels at a time when overeating and reluctance to exercise tend to increase, Peaceman said.

 

"It's a very hard nut to crack," he said.

 

A seesaw history of pregnancy weight gain

 

The advice doctors gave women about pregnancy weight gain has varied widely from decade to decade. In the 1950s, doctors often instructed their patients not to gain more than 15 pounds, Peaceman said.

 

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, mothers weren't gaining enough weight and were having small babies, which could lead to developmental problems in childhood. Then doctors started encouraging women to gain more weight.

 

"Doctors essentially told them that they could eat for two," Peaceman said.

 

"Then women started gaining excessively, but it wasn't thought to be a medical issue, just a cosmetic one," Peaceman said. "The attitude was, 'there's more weight for you to lose when you're done, but that is not a major medical concern'."

 

In the early 2000s, physicians started noticing that excessive pregnancy weight gain was associated with certain pregnancy complications: higher incidence of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and cesarean sections.

 

"Then we started seeing more worrisome things," Peaceman said. "Excess maternal weight gain was not just associated with bigger babies, but those babies ended up with an increased risk of obesity and childhood diabetes."

 

A few researchers began investigating whether they could help women avoid excess weight gain during pregnancy. Trials testing different strategies for limiting pregnancy weight gain in overweight and obese women had mixed results, in part due to different populations studied and the lack of standardized clinical outcome measures.

 

"That's why NIH recognized the need to do this study in diverse populations and with standardized clinical outcome measures," Peaceman said. "It provides more reliable evidence."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180906184239.htm

Fish oil supplement in pregnancy is linked to increase in lean and bone mass by age 6 years

September 4, 2018

Science Daily/BMJ

Taking fish oil supplements in the later stages of pregnancy is associated with a higher weight (BMI) in children in the first six years of life, but not an increased risk of overweight or obesity by age 6, a new study suggests.

 

Fish oil supplement in the later stages of pregnancy is associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) in children in the first six years of life, which is explained by an increase in total lean and bone mass at 6 years of age, but with no increase in fat mass, suggest the findings of a large randomised controlled trial published by The BMJ today.

 

Studies in animals have shown that supplementing the diet with fish oil during pregnancy affects adipogenesis (the development of fat cells). However, while trials in humans have shown that pregnant women with a higher intake of fish oil give birth to higher birth weight infants, the impact on children later in life has been unclear.

 

So a team of researchers based in Denmark and the UK set out to examine the effect of taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy on the growth and body composition of children later in life.

 

The trial involved 736 pregnant women from the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood study who were randomised to receive n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) (fish oil) or olive oil (control) daily from week 24 of pregnancy week until one week after birth.

 

Height, weight, head and waist measurements were assessed 11 times from birth to age 6 years and adjusted for age and sex. These revealed a sustained higher BMI from 1 year to 6 years of age.

 

Body composition was assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans at 3.5 and 6 years of age and demonstrated that the higher BMI was not the result of a higher fat percentage, but reflected a proportional increase in lean mass, bone mass, and fat mass, suggesting that the fish oil supplementation had a general growth stimulating effect.

 

At age 6, DXA scans showed children whose mothers had taken fish oil supplements while pregnant had a 395g higher total mass, 280.7g higher lean mass, 10.3g higher bone mineral content and 116.3g higher fat mass compared with children of mothers who took the control oil.

 

The researchers conclude: "The body composition at age 6 years in children given fish oil supplementation was characterised by a proportional increase in lean, bone, and fat mass suggesting a general growth stimulating effect."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180904190616.htm

Women twice as likely to suffer from severe depression after a stroke

January 28, 2019

Science Daily/King's College London

New research today published in the European Journal of Neurology has found that women are twice as likely to suffer from severe depression following a stroke than men.

 

The team of researchers from King's College London followed the progress of symptoms over five years after stroke onset in 2,313 people (1,275 men and 1,038 women).

 

They found that 20% of women suffered from severe depression compared to 10% of men. They also found varying patterns of symptom progression; that long-term increased symptoms of depression are associated with higher mortality rates; and that initially moderate symptoms in men tend to become worse over time.

 

Stroke is a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked. An estimated one in six people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime and there are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK every year. Although severity and symptoms are wide-ranging, about a third of all survivors experience depression following their stroke: approximately 400,000 people in the UK today.

 

Patients who had their first-ever stroke between 1998 and 2016 were recruited to the study from the South London Stroke Register (SLSR) and were monitored until July 2017. Participants' mental health was assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and cross-referenced with their physical health and socio-demographic data.

 

Lead author Dr Salma Ayis from the School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences at King's College London, said: "While we cannot pinpoint exactly why depression is more common among women, it could be that women draw more of their sense of self and self-worth from their social relationships and so are more sensitive to challenges in maintaining these. Also, as women live longer, they are more exposed to loneliness, poor physical health and loss of support, all of which could lead to depression.

 

"What is common to both sexes is the dramatic decrease in the likelihood of survival as depression symptoms increase. We believe therefore, that by monitoring symptoms of depression in stroke survivors and acting accordingly, clinicians may be able to provide better long-term care."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190128191456.htm

For preterm infants, skin-to-skin contact affects hormone levels -- and may promote parental engagement

October 19, 2018

Science Daily/Wolters Kluwer Health

For premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), skin-to-skin contact with parents influences levels of hormones related to mother-infant attachment (oxytocin) and stress (cortisol) -- and may increase parents' level of engagement with their infants.

 

Promoting early contact and parental engagement might help to lessen the risk of neurodevelopmental delay associated with preterm birth and NICU care, according to the exploratory study by Dorothy J. Vittner, PhD, RN, CHPE, of University of Connecticut School of Nursing and colleagues. They write, "Parental touch, especially during skin-to-skin contact (SSC) has potential to reduce adverse consequences."

 

Study Attempts to Measure Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact for Preterm Infants

 

The pilot study included 28 preterm infants, average gestational age 33 weeks. All infants were in stable condition while receiving NICU care. Infants underwent periods of SSC on two consecutive days: once with the mother and once with the father. Saliva samples were collected from infants and parents to measure levels of oxytocin, a hormone that has been linked to maternal-infant attachment; and the stress-related hormone cortisol.

 

"Oxytocin facilitates social sensitivity and attunement necessary for developing relationships and nurturance for emotional and physical health," the researchers write. Cortisol plays an important role in the "fight or flight" reaction to fear or stress.

 

Levels of both hormones changed in response to SSC. "Oxytocin significantly increased and cortisol levels decreased for mothers, fathers, and infants during SSC as compared to baseline," Dr. Vittner and coauthors write. The changes indicate the "calming and beneficial impact of SSC for both parents and infants."

 

Parents also completed a questionnaire called the "PREEMI" (Parent Risk Evaluation and Engagement Model and Instrument) scale, designed to measure attachment between parents and their preterm infants. Overall PREEMI scores indicated a "moderate to high" level of parental engagement for all participants.

 

Increased oxytocin and decreased cortisol levels during SSC were associated with higher PREEMI scores by the time the infant was discharged from the hospital. "We believe these findings suggest that parents with a lower salivary cortisol as seen with SSC (decreased stress) may facilitate increased parental engagement," Dr. Vittner and colleagues write.

 

Mothers and fathers had similar increases in oxytocin during SSC. In mothers, the rise in oxytocin was related to increased parental engagement. Unexpectedly, however, increased oxytocin during SSC in fathers was negatively related to parental engagement. Dr. Vittner and colleagues note that for many fathers, the study SSC intervention was the first time they had held their infants.

 

The study provides new evidence of how SSC might work to promote attachment between parents and premature infants. "The changes in oxytocin and cortisol levels provide robust support to advocate for increased SSC during infancy, especially for the vulnerable infant in the NICU," the researchers write. They note that further studies will be needed to understand these relationships, and how they affect parent-infant relationships -- especially in overcoming the obstacles posed by having a premature infant who need NICU care.

 

The results also suggest that the PREEMI questionnaire can provide a "window into parent engagement," potentially useful in identifying parents who may need interventions to increase engagement with their premature infant. Dr. Vittner and coauthors conclude: "Uncovering the bio-behavioral basis of early parent-infant interactions is an important step in developing therapeutic modalities to improve infant health outcomes."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181019100711.htm

Postpartum depression linked to mother's pain after childbirth

New study underscores importance of managing pain during recovery

Science Daily/October 14, 2018

American Society of Anesthesiologists

While childbirth pain has been linked to postpartum depression, the culprit may be the pain experienced by the mother following childbirth, rather than during the labor and delivery process.

 

Previous research has demonstrated the pain associated with giving birth may increase the risk of postpartum depression but has not specified which part of the labor process (e.g., before, during or after delivery) may be the source of the problem. This is the first study to differentiate postpartum pain from labor and delivery pain and identify it as a significant risk factor for postpartum depression.

 

"For many years, we have been concerned about how to manage labor pain, but recovery pain after labor and delivery often is overlooked," said Jie Zhou, M.D., M.B.A., lead author of the study and assistant professor of anesthesia at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston. "Our research suggests we need to focus more on helping new mothers manage pain after the baby is born."

 

Symptoms of postpartum depression -- including extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability and changes in sleep or eating patterns -- affect about 1 in 9 women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Postpartum depression can lead to lower rates of breastfeeding and poor bonding with the baby.

 

In the study, Dr. Zhou's research group reviewed pain scores (from the start of labor to hospital discharge) for 4,327 first-time mothers delivering a single child vaginally or by cesarean delivery (C-section) at Brigham and Women's Hospital between June 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2017. They compared pain scores to the mothers' Edinburgh postnatal depression scale (EPDS) scores one week after delivery.

 

Dr. Zhou found postpartum depression was significantly associated with higher postpartum pain scores. Mothers with postpartum depression demonstrated more pain-related complaints during recovery and often needed additional pain medication. Women in the postpartum depression group were more likely to have delivered by C-section. They also had more reports of inadequate postpartum pain control.

 

A number of factors can contribute to postpartum depression. Researchers determined postpartum depression was higher among women who were overweight or obese; who suffered from a torn perineum (the area adjacent to the vaginal opening); who had a history of depression, anxiety or chronic pain; and whose babies were smaller and had lower Apgar scores, a scoring system used to assess the physical health of newborns one minute and five minutes after birth.

 

"While ibuprofen and similar pain medications are considered adequate for pain control after childbirth, clearly some women need additional help managing pain," said Dr. Zhou. "We need to do a better job identifying who is at risk for postpartum pain and ensure they have adequate postpartum care."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181014142700.htm

Babies of overweight mothers may risk developing self-regulation problems

October 10, 2018

Science Daily/Springer

A mother's weight during early pregnancy may affect how well her baby is able to self-regulate during its first months and years of life. This is according to a study of more than 3100 Finnish women.

 

Previous research has found that one in every five infants struggles to self-regulate in the first year of life. This means that these babies may cry excessively, have problems feeding or difficulties falling asleep unless soothed by a caregiver. As they grow older, such children often show behavioural and neurodevelopmental problems such as hyperactivity or difficulties concentrating, as well as having poorer muscle function. Some have lower IQs or are placed on the autism spectrum.

 

The aim of this study was to find out whether a mother's weight during early pregnancy influences her child's neurodevelopment. Girchenko and her colleagues drew on data from 3117 women from different Finnish towns who had given birth between 2006 and 2010. All participants were part of the Prediction and Prevention of Pre-eclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction (PREDO) study.

 

Medical data was gathered about the mothers' weight during the first few months of their pregnancies, and whether they suffered from high blood pressure or gestational diabetes during this period. Up to three months after delivery, the women then answered questions about their babies' ability to regulate and calm themselves. Follow-up assessments of the children's developmental milestones were conducted between 2011 and 2012.

 

In general, the participants who were overweight or obese tended to be older mothers and to deliver their babies through a caesarean section. They were also less likely to have a tertiary education and quite often decided to stop smoking when they first heard that they were pregnant.

 

By the age of 17 days, infants of mothers who were overweight were already found to struggle more often with regulatory behaviour problems. In fact, there was a 22 per cent higher chance that overweight or obese mothers would have children with multiple self-regulatory problems. The research team confirmed that weight was the significant factor, and not whether a mother suffered from high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.

 

"Our findings show that regulatory behavior problems in infancy have prenatal origins that can be attributed at least partially to mothers being overweight or obesity," explains Girchenko. "We suggest that the prevention of weight problems in women of childbearing age may benefit their later offspring and could reduce the burden of regulatory problems in infancy and prevent their long-term neurodevelopmental consequences."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181010105634.htm

Stress reduces fertility in women

October 1, 2018

Science Daily/Boston University School of Medicine

In North America, 20 to 25 percent of women and 18 to 21 percent of men of reproductive age report daily psychological stress. Although previous research has suggested that stress can decrease the odds of conception, few studies have examined this association among couples from the general population. Now, a new study finds higher levels of stress are associated with lower odds of conception for women, but not for men.

 

Now, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers finds higher levels of stress are associated with lower odds of conception for women, but not for men.

 

The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

 

"Although this study does not definitely prove that stress causes infertility, it does provide evidence supporting the integration of mental health care in preconception guidance and care," says BUSPH doctoral student Amelia Wesselink, the study's lead author.

 

The researchers used data from the Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO), an ongoing preconception cohort of North American pregnancy planners that follows couples for 12 months or until pregnancy, whichever comes first. For the new study, the researchers followed 4,769 women and 1,272 men who did not have a history of infertility and had not been trying to conceive for more than six menstrual cycles.

 

The researchers measured perceived stress using the 10-item version of the perceived stress scale (PSS), which is designed to assess how unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overwhelming an individual finds their life circumstances. The items referred to the past month, with five response choices ranging from 0 (never) to 4 (very often), up to a total of 40, with a higher total score indicating a higher level of perceived stress. Both partners completed the PSS at baseline, and women also completed the PSS at each bi-monthly PRESTO follow-up. The baseline questionnaires also included a range of demographic and behavioral factors, including race/ethnicity, household income, diet, sleep, and frequency of intercourse.

 

On average, baseline PSS scores were about 1 point higher among women than men, and the average follow-up PSS scores among women remained fairly constant over the 12 months that they participated in the study.

 

The researchers found women with PSS scores of at least 25 were 13 percent less likely to conceive than women with PSS scores under 10. This association was stronger among women who had been trying to conceive for no more than two menstrual cycles before joining PRESTO than among women who had been trying for three or more cycles before enrolling. The association was also stronger among women under 35 years old.

 

The researchers found that, if the link between higher levels of stress and lower odds of conception is a causal association, a small proportion of that association could be due to decreased intercourse frequency and increased menstrual cycle irregularity.

 

The researchers did not find an association between men's PSS score and the likelihood of conceiving. However, couples in the study were about 25 percent less likely to conceive when the man's PSS score was under 10 and the women's was 20 or higher. The authors wrote that this is the first study to suggest that "partner stress discordance" may affect the likelihood of conception, although the finding was imprecise and speculative.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181001171207.htm

Postnatal depression could be linked to fewer daylight hours during late pregnancy

Shortening days during third trimester of pregnancy may add to risk of postpartum depression

September 27, 2018

Science Daily/Springer

Women in late pregnancy during darker months of the year may have a greater risk of developing postpartum depression once their babies are born. This is consistent with what is known about the relationship between exposure to natural light and depression among adults in the general population.

 

Although reduced exposure to natural light has been associated with depression among adults in the general population, there is not yet a consensus about whether light exposure or seasonality influences the development of depression during and after pregnancy.

 

In this study, Goyal and her colleagues at the University of California San Francisco analysed available information from 293 women who participated in one of two randomized controlled clinical trials about sleep before and after pregnancy. The participants were all first-time mothers from the US state of California. Data included the amount of daylight during the final trimester of their pregnancy, along with information about known risk factors such as a history of depression, the woman's age, her socioeconomic status and how much she slept.

 

Overall, the participants had a 30 per cent risk of depression. The analysis suggested that the number of daylight hours a woman was exposed to during her final month of pregnancy and just after birth had a major influence on the likelihood that she developed depressive symptoms.

 

The lowest risk for depression (26 per cent) occurred among women whose final trimester coincided with seasons with longer daylight hours. Depression scores were highest (35 per cent) among women whose final trimester coincided with "short" days and the symptoms continued to be more severe following the birth of their babies in this group of women. In the northern hemisphere, this timeframe refers to the months of August to the first four days of November (late summer to early autumn).

 

"Among first-time mothers, the length of day in the third trimester, specifically day lengths that are shortening compared to day lengths that are short, long or lengthening, were associated with concurrent depressive symptom severity," Goyal explains.

 

The findings suggest that using light treatment in the late third trimester when seasonal day length is shortening could minimize postpartum depressive symptoms in high-risk mothers during the first three months of their children's lives. Goyal says that women with a history of mental health problems and those who are already experiencing depressive symptoms in the third trimester might further benefit from being outdoors when possible, or using devices such as light boxes that provide light therapy.

 

"Women should be encouraged to get frequent exposure to daylight throughout their pregnancies to enhance their vitamin D levels and to suppress the hormone melatonin," adds Goyal, who says that clinicians should also advise their patients to get more exercise outdoors when weather and safety permit. "Daily walks during daylight hours may be more effective in improving mood than walking inside a shopping mall or using a treadmill in a gym. Likewise, early morning or late evening walks may be relaxing but would be less effective in increasing vitamin D exposure or suppressing melatonin."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180927105733.htm

 

Fish-rich diets in pregnancy may boost babies' brain development

September 20, 2018

Science Daily/Springer

Women could enhance the development of their unborn child's eyesight and brain function by regularly eating fatty fish during pregnancy. This is the suggestion from a small-scale study. The research supports previous findings that show how important a prospective mother's diet and lifestyle choices are for the development of her baby.

 

According to Laitinen, a mother's diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding is the main way that valuable long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids become available to a fetus and infant brain during the period of maximum brain growth during the first years of a child's life. Such fatty acids help to shape the nerve cells that are relevant to eyesight and particularly the retina. They are also important in forming the synapses that are vital in the transport of messages between neurons in the nervous system.

 

In this study, Laitinen and her colleagues analysed the results of 56 mothers and their children drawn from a larger study. The mothers had to keep a regular food diary during the course of their pregnancy. Fluctuations in their weight before and during pregnancy were taken into account, along with their blood sugar level and blood pressure. Aspects such as whether they smoked or developed diabetes related to pregnancy were also noted.

 

The team recorded the levels of nutritional long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid sources in the mother's diet and blood serum, and the levels in the blood of their children by the age of one month. Their children were further tested around their second birthday using pattern reversal visual evoked potentials (pVEP). This sensitive and accurate, non-invasive method is used to detect visual functioning and maturational changes occurring within a young child's visual system.

 

The subsequent analyses of the visual test results revealed that infants whose mothers ate fish three or more times a week during the last trimester of their pregnancy fared better than those whose mothers ate no fish or only up to two portions per week. These observations were further substantiated when the serum phospholipid fatty acid status was evaluated.

 

"The results of our study suggest that frequent fish consumption by pregnant women is of benefit for their unborn child's development. This may be attributable to long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids within fish, but also due to other nutrients like vitamin D and E, which are also important for development," explains Laitinen.

 

"Our study therefore highlights the potential importance of subtle changes in the diet of healthy women with uncompromised pregnancies, beyond prematurity or nutritional deficiencies, in regulating infantile neurodevelopment," adds Laitinen, who believes that their results should be incorporated into counselling given to pregnant women about their diets.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180920102207.htm

 

Men are still more likely than women to be perceived as leaders

Despite progress, gender gap in leadership persists

August 9, 2018

Science Daily/University at Buffalo

Women hold just 26 percent of executive-level positions in S&P 500 companies -- and sadly that is no accident, according to a new study.

 

The study, which was made available online in March ahead of publication in the August print edition of Personnel Psychology, found that, on average, men are more likely than women to emerge as leaders.

 

The research team -- led by doctoral student Katie Badura and Emily Grijalva, PhD, assistant professor of organization and human resources in the UB School of Management -- aggregated 59 years of research, encompassing more than 19,000 participants and 136 studies from lab, business and classroom settings.

 

They discovered that although the gender gap has narrowed in recent decades, it still persists.

 

"As a society, we've made progress toward gender equality, but clearly we're not quite there," Badura says. "Our results are consistent with the struggle many organizations face today to increase diversity in their leadership teams."

 

The researchers primarily attribute the gender gap to societal pressures that contribute to gender differences in personality traits. For example, men tend to be more assertive and dominant, whereas women tend to be more communal, cooperative and nurturing. As a result, men are more likely to participate and voice their opinions during group discussions, and be perceived by others as leaderlike.

 

"We found showing sensitivity and concern for others -- stereotypically feminine traits -- made someone less likely to be seen as a leader," Grijalva says. "However, it's those same characteristics that make leaders effective. Thus, because of this unconscious bias against communal traits, organizations may unintentionally select the wrong people for leadership roles, choosing individuals who are loud and confident but lack the ability to support their followers' development and success."

 

While group size and participants' ages did not affect the gender gap, the study found the length of time participants spent together was an important factor in whether men or women emerged as leaders. The longer a group spent together, the less gender influenced who emerged as the group's leader.

 

"The gender gap was strongest during the first 20 minutes people were together, similar to an initial job interview, but weakened after more than one interaction," Grijalva says. "During the hiring process, organizations should conduct multiple interviews to reduce gender bias and ensure they're hiring the best applicant."

 

For managers, the researchers suggest promoting the value of communal behaviors in performance evaluations, prompting quieter individuals to share their ideas and being mindful of any unconscious biases you or your staff may have.

 

"In the Obama White House, female staffers adopted a strategy of amplifying one another's comments during meetings and giving credit to the individual who said it first, to ensure that women's voices were being heard," Badura says. "Tactics like this help the most qualified individuals stand out and emerge into leadership roles -- regardless of gender."

 

The project was partially supported through a grant from the University at Buffalo Gender Institute.

 

Badura and Grijalva conducted the study with Daniel A. Newman, professor of psychology and labor and employment relations, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Thomas Taiyi Yan, PhD student, University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business; and Gahyun Jeon, postdoctoral research associate, Northwestern University.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180809144524.htm

 

Concussions in women: Rates, symptoms and recovery are different than men

September 6, 2017

Science Daily/University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences

Females tend to report more symptoms -- and more severe ones -- and may also take longer to recover from brain injuries than their male counterparts.

 

Scientists have known for more than a decade that female athletes sustain concussions at a higher rate than males when playing sports with similar rules, such as soccer, basketball and baseball/softball. Females also tend to report more symptoms -- and more severe ones -- and may also take longer to recover from brain injuries than their male counterparts.

 

Despite that information, relatively little is known about how females experience concussions differently because there has been scant research on the topic. But scientists are trying to hoping to change that, says Dr. Mayumi Prins, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center education program.

 

"Most of the research in the past has focused on males, and there's been little basic science research done on adolescents, females and concussions," Prins says, which means that the science on why girls may suffer more concussions and more prolonged symptoms is still uncertain.

 

But scientific research has shown that female and male brains differ in dozens of ways in activity patterns, anatomy, chemistry and physiology.

 

There are some reasons why concussions might affect female athletes and non-athletes differently than males. Those include hormonal issues, differences in how their upper bodies, particularly the muscles in the neck, react after collisions, and that females may be more likely than males to disclose concussion-related symptoms such as headaches, diminished social interaction or depression, Prins says.

 

For parents of children who participate in sports, Prins offers the following advice:

 

·     While concussions in females are a serious concern, it's important to bear in mind that the relative risk of concussion is quite low compared to other activities of adolescents and young adults, such as driving, drugs, sexually transmitted diseases and obesity. "There are other things besides concussion that children and young adults are at greater risk for," Prins says.

·     Involvement in sports and athletic activities have been shown to benefit females in a variety of positive ways, such as development of positive body image, increasing bone density, psychological benefits.

·     While the majority of females (and males) will recover from concussions in a week or two, some will have prolonged symptoms, a condition known as post-concussive syndrome and should seek medical assistance from a neurologist.

·     Among adolescent women concussions can particularly affect feelings of social isolation and stress during a critical time of social development. "If you break a foot and are in a cast, everyone sees that and understands," Prins says. "But if you have a head injury, people may just look at you and pick up on some different behaviors and say 'What's wrong with you?' That can produce some social alienation, particularly in female athletes."

 

More information about the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program is available here: https://www.uclahealth.org/brainsport/about-brainsport

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170906143233.htm

Fish-rich diets in pregnancy may boost babies' brain development

September 20, 2018

Science Daily/Springer

Women could enhance the development of their unborn child's eyesight and brain function by regularly eating fatty fish during pregnancy. This is the suggestion from a small-scale study. The research supports previous findings that show how important a prospective mother's diet and lifestyle choices are for the development of her baby.

 

According to Laitinen, a mother's diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding is the main way that valuable long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids become available to a fetus and infant brain during the period of maximum brain growth during the first years of a child's life. Such fatty acids help to shape the nerve cells that are relevant to eyesight and particularly the retina. They are also important in forming the synapses that are vital in the transport of messages between neurons in the nervous system.

 

In this study, Laitinen and her colleagues analysed the results of 56 mothers and their children drawn from a larger study. The mothers had to keep a regular food diary during the course of their pregnancy. Fluctuations in their weight before and during pregnancy were taken into account, along with their blood sugar level and blood pressure. Aspects such as whether they smoked or developed diabetes related to pregnancy were also noted.

 

The team recorded the levels of nutritional long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid sources in the mother's diet and blood serum, and the levels in the blood of their children by the age of one month. Their children were further tested around their second birthday using pattern reversal visual evoked potentials (pVEP). This sensitive and accurate, non-invasive method is used to detect visual functioning and maturational changes occurring within a young child's visual system.

 

The subsequent analyses of the visual test results revealed that infants whose mothers ate fish three or more times a week during the last trimester of their pregnancy fared better than those whose mothers ate no fish or only up to two portions per week. These observations were further substantiated when the serum phospholipid fatty acid status was evaluated.

 

"The results of our study suggest that frequent fish consumption by pregnant women is of benefit for their unborn child's development. This may be attributable to long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids within fish, but also due to other nutrients like vitamin D and E, which are also important for development," explains Laitinen.

 

"Our study therefore highlights the potential importance of subtle changes in the diet of healthy women with uncompromised pregnancies, beyond prematurity or nutritional deficiencies, in regulating infantile neurodevelopment," adds Laitinen, who believes that their results should be incorporated into counselling given to pregnant women about their diets.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180920102207.htm

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