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Your Baby

No Link Found Between Induced Labor and Autism

1:30

In 2013, a study suggested there might be a link between induced labor using a medication such as oxytocin, and a higher risk of the baby developing autism.  New research out of Boston, Massachusetts says there is no connection between the two.

"These findings should provide reassurance to women who are about to give birth, that having their labor induced will not increase their child's risk of developing autism spectrum disorders," said senior researcher Dr. Brian Bateman. He's an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Induced labor is sometimes needed when a mother’s labor stalls or the infant is endangered. Because of the former study, many women have had concerns about labor induction and the risk of autism.

Bateman's team of American and Swedish researchers, led by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, decided to investigate the issue.

They used a database on all live births in Sweden from 1992 through 2005, and looked at child outcomes for more than 1 million births through 2013, to identify any children diagnosed with a neuropsychiatric condition.

They also identified all the children's brothers, sisters and cousins on their mother's side of the family. The health of the children's mothers was also taken into account.

Eleven percent of the inductions were due to health complications such as preeclampsia, diabetes or high blood pressure. Twenty-three percent were induced because of late deliveries (after 40 weeks of pregnancy).

Results showed that 2 percent of the babies in the study were later diagnosed with autism.

When just looking at unrelated children, the researchers did find a link between induced labor and a greater risk for an autism spectrum disorder. This association disappeared, however, once they also considered the women's other children who were not born from an induced labor.

"When we used close relatives, such as siblings or cousins, as the comparison group, we found no association between labor induction and autism risk," said study author Anna Sara Oberg, a research fellow in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School.

Explaining further, she said in a university news release, "many of the factors that could lead to both induction of labor and autism are completely or partially shared by siblings -- such as maternal characteristics or socioeconomic or genetic factors." Therefore, Oberg said, "previously observed associations could have been due to some of these familial factors, not the result of induction."

Other experts have agreed with the new study’s findings.

"Pregnant women have enough things to worry about," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"If a woman's doctor recommends that labor be induced, the expectant mother should not worry about an increased risk of the child having an autism spectrum disorder," Adesman said.

If you have concerns about a connection between labor induction and autism, speak to your OB/GYN to learn more. 

The study was published in  in the July 25th online edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/autism-news-51/induced-labor-won-t-raise-autism-risk-in-kids-study-suggests-713155.html

 

Your Baby

Recall: Otteroo Baby Floats Due to Drowning Risks

1:00

Babies and young children can drown in less than 2 inches of water.  That’s why it is  vital that parents and caregivers never leave a baby or young child unattended while they are near or in water.

When bathing their infant, parents will sometimes attach a bath float to their child to help keep his or her head above water. While the float may offer some assistance, critics warn that the device can give parents a false sense of security that their child is protected from drowning.

Otteroo Corporation makes inflatable baby floats that are specifically designed for babies 8 weeks and up.

The company is recalling about 3000 units of their inflatable Baby Floats after receiving 54 reports of broken seems on the product. No injuries have been reported.

The Otteroo Inflatable Baby Float is an inflatable round ring made of clear and blue plastic material. It has two air chambers that fasten around a baby’s neck with a white buckle. The floats have a chin rest, two handles and two circular openings on the back of the ring to allow the device to expand as the child grows with age. There are three colorful balls that move freely around inside the ring.  The name “Otteroo” is imprinted on the top of the float in large, orange letters with an Otter logo.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled inflatable baby floats and contact the firm to receive a free replacement.

The floats were sold online at Otteroo.com and Amazon.com and Zulily.com from January 2014 through July 2014 for about $35.

Consumers can contact Otteroo Corporation at (415) 236-5388 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online www.otteroo.com and click on “Safety” at the bottom of the page for more information.

According to their website, Otteroo is offering a free replacement for those who purchased the product manufactured in 2014 (NO: 002013001).

Sources: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/Recall-Alerts/2015/Otteroo-Corp-Recalls-Inflatable-Baby-Floats/

http://otteroo.com/pages/safety-info

Your Baby

Special Baby Formulas Don’t Prevent Asthma, Allergies

2:00

Parents that have a baby at risk or allergies, asthma or type-1 Diabetes sometimes turn to hydrolyzed milk formulas in hopes of lowering their infant’s risk of developing these problems.

A new review of the data on hydrolyzed formulas finds that there is no evidence that they actually protect children from these types of autoimmune disorders.

"We found no consistent evidence to support a protective role for partially or extensively hydrolyzed formula," concluded a team led by Robert Boyle of Imperial College London in England.

"Our findings conflict with current international guidelines, in which hydrolyzed formula is widely recommended for young formula-fed infants with a family history of allergic disease," the study authors added.

In the study, Boyle's team looked at data from 37 studies that together included more than 19,000 participants and were conducted between 1946 and 2015.

The investigators found that infants who received hydrolyzed cow's milk formula did not have a lower risk of asthma, allergies (such as eczema, hay fever, food allergies) or type 1 diabetes compared to those who received human breast milk or a standard cow's milk formula.

The researchers also found no evidence to support an FDA-approved claim that a partially hydrolyzed formula could reduce the risk of the skin disorder eczema, or another conclusion that hydrolyzed formula could prevent an allergy to cow's milk.

Other experts in the United States said that the finding casts doubt on the usefulness of these kinds of specialized products.

"Allergies and autoimmune diseases [such as asthma, and type 1 diabetes] are on the rise and it would be nice if we did have a clear route to preventing them," said Dr. Ron Marino, associate chair of pediatrics at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

"Unfortunately, despite U.S. Food and Drug Administration support [for hydrolyzed formula], the data are not compelling," he said.

Dr. Punita Ponda is assistant chief of allergy and immunology at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. She stressed that when it comes to infant feeding, breast milk is by far the healthiest option.

However, "current mainstream guidelines for infant formula do recommend that parents consider using hypoallergenic formula if a close family member -- like an older brother or sister -- has a food allergy," she said. That was based on prior studies supporting some kind of protective effect, Ponda said.

Protein hydrolysate formulas were first introduced in the 1940s for babies who could not tolerate the milk protein in cow’s milk.

Protein hydrolyzed formulas are formulas composed of proteins that are partially broken down or “hydrolyzed.” They are also called hydrolysates.

There are two broad categories of protein hydrolysates:

•       Partially hydrolyzed formulas (pHF)

•       Extensively hydrolyzed formulas (eHF)

Both partially and extensively hydrolyzed protein formulas are based on casein or whey, which are proteins found in milk.  

Hydrolyzed formulas have had the protein chains broken down into shorter and more easy-to -digest chains. The more extensively hydrolyzed the formula, the fewer potentially allergenic compounds remain.

Hydrolyzed formulas are also more expensive than regular cow’s milk formulas and often harder to find.

The researchers review was published March 08, 2016 in the BMJ.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20160308/special-infant-formulas-dont-shield-against-asthma-allergies-study

Victoria Groce, http://foodallergies.about.com/od/adultfoodallergies/p/hypoallergenic.htm

 

Your Baby

Eating Chocolate While Pregnant May Improve Mom and Baby’s Health!

1:45

 Put another check in the win column for a reason to eat chocolate - as though anyone really needs one!

 A new study suggests that moms-to-be that eat a small piece of chocolate every day may improve their baby’s cardiovascular health and reduce the risk for preeclampsia.

 Researchers found that their findings held up regardless of whether the chocolate consumed contained high or low amounts of flavonoids, a group of phytochemicals that have antioxidant abilities. Various studies have also suggested that flavonoids may offer heart health benefits.

 As with most studies, the research did not prove that eating chocolate during pregnancy caused better circulatory health in pregnant women and their babies, only that there was an association.

 "Our observations suggest that a regular small consumption of dark chocolate -- whether or not the level of flavanol is high -- from the first trimester of pregnancy, could lead to an improvement of placental function," said study author Dr. Emmanuel Bujold. He is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Universite Laval in Quebec City, Canada.

 Bujold's team decided to see whether differences in flavanol content had any effect on the pregnancies of nearly 130 women.

 All of the women in the study were at the 11- to 14-week mark of their pregnancy, and carrying one child.

 All were instructed to consume 30 grams of chocolate (a little more than one ounce) each day over a 12-week period. That's equivalent to about one small square of chocolate per day, Bujold said.

 Half of the women consumed high-flavanol chocolate, while the other half was given low-flavanol chocolate. All were then tracked until their delivery date.

 Regardless of which type of chocolate was consumed, the women faced the same risk for both preeclampsia and routine high blood pressure. Placental weight and birth weight was also the same in both groups, the investigators found.

 Similarly, fetal and placental blood circulation levels, as well as in-utero blood velocity, did not appear to be affected by shifting flavanol levels.

 However, simply consuming a small amount of chocolate -- no matter what the flavanol content -- was associated with notable improvements in all blood circulation and velocity measures compared to the general population, the researchers said.

 Bujold said this suggests that there's something about chocolate, apart from flavanol levels, that may exert a positive influence on the course of pregnancy. Finding out exactly what that is "could lead to improvement of women's and children's health, along with a significant reduction of treatment cost," he said.

 While that’s good news for chocolate lovers, Bujold cautions that pregnant women keep the portion small and calorie intake low.

 So, a bit of chocolate daily while pregnant is not going to hurt you, in fact it just may give you and your baby’s health a little boost.

 The findings were scheduled for presentation at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, in Atlanta. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

 Source:  Alan Mozes, http://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/food-and-nutrition-news-316/small-square-of-chocolate-each-day-during-pregnancy-may-help-mom-and-baby-707736.html

Your Baby

Recall: 2-in-1 Dream On Me Bassinet to Cradle

1:30

Dream on Me is recalling about 13,000 of their 2-in-1 Bassinet to Cradle products due to fall and suffocation hazards.

The wire supports on the sides of the bassinet can disconnect causing the fabric sides to lower; posing a risk that infants can fall out or become entrapped and suffocate.

This recall involves the 2-in-1 Bassinet to Cradle, sold in pink, blue, green, and white. The bassinet has metal frame supports and fabric sides with a removable half-canopy on the top.  The frame can also be adjusted with two rocking legs on each end of the bassinet.

It is designed with fabric handles and the option to remove the bassinet from the frame to use the bassinet portion as a “by the bed” sleeper product.

The recalled model numbers are:

·      439-A

·      439-B

·      439-G

·      439-P

·      439-W

The model numbers can be found on a tag that is located under the mattress pad of the bassinet. This tag is a removable tag you see in the store but is removed prior to use.

Dream on Me has received one incident of the wire frame support bracket failing and the fabric portion of the bassinet collapsing while an infant was asleep in the cradle.  No injuries have been reported.  

Consumers should immediately stop using the product and contact Dream On Me to obtain a free repair. In the meantime, parents are urged to find an alternate, safe sleeping environment for the child, such as a crib that meets current safety standards or play yard depending on the child’s age.

The recalled products were sold online at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Wayfair.com, ToysRUs.com and Kohls.com from May 2012 to October 2014 for about $60.

Consumer can contact Dream on Me toll-free at (877) 201-4317, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or online at www.dreamonme.com and click on the “Recalls” icon on the home page for more information.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Dream-on-Me-Recalls-2-in-1-Bassinet-to-Cradle/#remedy

Your Baby

Formula-Fed Babies: How Much and How Often?

2:00

There are many reasons a mother may choose to use formula instead of breast milk when feeding her newborn. There are also times when mothers decide to switch from nursing to formula, as their baby gets a little older.  Whether you’re breastfeeding or giving formula, it’s generally recommended that babies be fed when they seem hungry.

What kind of schedule and how much formula do formula-fed babies need? It all depends on the baby. While each infant’s appetite and needs may be a little different – there are general rules of thumb that can be helpful for moms to know.

According to Healthychildren.org, after the first few days, your formula-fed newborn will take from 2 to 3 ounces (60–90 ml) of formula per feeding and will eat every three to four hours on average during his or her first few weeks.

Occasionally, you may have a sleeper who seems to like visiting dreamland longer than most babies. If during the first month your baby sleeps longer than four or five hours, wake him or her up and offer a bottle.

By the end of his or her first month, they’ll usually be up to at least 4 ounces (120 ml) per feeding, with a fairly predictable schedule of feedings about every four hours.

By six months, your baby will typically consume 6 to 8 ounces (180–240 ml) at each of four or five feedings in twenty-four hours.

Since babies can’t communicate with words, parents have to learn how to read the signs and signals baby uses to express wants.

How do you know your baby is hungry? Here are signs baby may be ready to eat:

•       Moving their heads from side to side

•       Opening their mouths

•       Sticking out their tongues

•       Placing their hands, fingers, and fists to their mouths

•       Puckering their lips as if to suck

•       Nuzzling against their mothers' breasts

•       Showing the rooting reflex (when a baby moves its mouth in the direction of something that's stroking or touching its cheek)

•       Crying

The crying signal can be confusing for parents. It doesn’t always mean the same thing. Crying is also a last resort when baby is hungry. Your baby should be fed before he or she gets so hungry that they get upset and cry. That’s why guidelines are helpful when starting out.

Most babies are satisfied with 3 to 4 ounces (90–120 ml) per feeding during the first month and increase that amount by 1 ounce (30 ml) per month until they reach a maximum of about 7 to 8 ounces (210–240 ml). If your baby consistently seems to want more or less than this, discuss it with your pediatrician. Your baby should drink no more than 32 ounces (960 ml) of formula in 24 hours. Some babies have higher needs for sucking and may just want to suck on a pacifier after feeding.

Eventually, baby will develop a time schedule of his or her own. As you become more familiar with your baby’s signals and sleep patterns, you’ll be able to design a feeding schedule tailored to your infant’s needs.

Between two and four months of age (or when the baby weighs more than 12 pounds [5.4 kg]), most formula-fed babies no longer need a middle-of-the night feeding, because they’re consuming more during the day and their sleeping patterns have become more regular (although this varies considerably from baby to baby). Their stomach capacity has increased, too, which means they may go longer between daytime feedings—occasionally up to four or five hours at a time. If your baby still seems to feed very frequently or consume larger amounts, try distracting him with play or with a pacifier. Sometimes patterns of obesity begin during infancy, so it is important not to overfeed your baby.

The most important thing to remember is that there is no “one schedule and formula amount fits all” when it comes to babies and their needs.

No one can tell you exactly how often or how much your baby boy or girl needs to be fed, but good communication with your pediatrician and learning how to read your baby’s body language will go a long way in keeping baby’s feedings on track.

Story sources: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Amount-and-Schedule-of-Formula-Feedings.aspx

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/formulafeed-often.html

 

Your Baby

Exercising During Pregnancy

2:00

If you’re pregnant, you may be wondering if you should start or continue exercising. The answer is a resounding, yes!

Regular exercise throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy, improve your posture and help decrease common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue.

There is even evidence that physical activity may help prevent gestational diabetes, relieve stress and build more stamina needed for labor and delivery.

All of these benefits are good things.

If you were physically active before your pregnancy, there’s no need to stop. However, don’t try to exercise at your former level; instead, do what's most comfortable for you now. Low impact aerobics are encouraged versus high impact.

Check with your obstetrician for guidance if you are a competitive athlete, you may need specialized monitoring.

What if you have never been into exercise, should you start now that you are pregnant?  Absolutely!

You can safely begin an exercise program during pregnancy after consulting with your health care provider, but do not try a new, strenuous activity. Walking is considered safe to initiate when pregnant.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day on most if not all days of the week, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication.

While exercise is great for most moms-to-be, there are some women who should not exercise during pregnancy. They are women with medical problems such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. If you have one of these conditions, check with your OB/GYN about your options and follow his or her recommendations.

Exercise may also be harmful if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as:

           ·      Bleeding or spotting

           ·      Low placenta

           ·      Threatened or recurrent miscarriage

           ·      Previous premature births or history of early labor

           ·      Weak cervix

Talk with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Your health care provider can also give you personal exercise guidelines, based on your medical history.

Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy as long as you don’t overdo it.

The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, step or elliptical machines, and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth.

What about jogging, tennis and racquetball? All these activities require balance and coordination– which may change as you progress during your pregnancy.  If you’re healthy and have discussed these sports with your OB/GYN, go ahead and enjoy, but in moderation.

There are certain exercises that can be harmful during pregnancy. What exercises should be avoided? They are:

·      Holding your breath during any activity.

·      Activities where falling is likely (such as skiing and horseback riding).

·      Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball, and volleyball.

·      Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma such as activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction.

·      Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, or running.

·      Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches.

·      Bouncing while stretching.

·      Waist-twisting movements while standing.

·      Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity.

              ·      Exercise in hot, humid weather.

Stretching exercises can help make the muscles limber and warm, which can be helpful during pregnancy.

Kegal exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus and bowels. By strengthening these muscles during your pregnancy, you can develop the ability to relax and control the muscles in preparation for labor and birth.

Tailor exercises strengthen the pelvic, hip, and thigh muscles and can help relieve low back pain.

Many health providers have DVDs, websites or exercise pamphlets with instructions and examples available for their pregnant patients. There are also classes with instructors trained in leading exercise programs specifically for pregnant women.

What should a pregnancy program consist of?

A total fitness program should strengthen and condition your muscles. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and never exercise to the point of exhaustion.

Exercising during pregnancy has many advantages, but there are warning signals you should look out for. Stop exercising immediately and contact your health provider is you:

             ·      Feel chest pain.

             ·      Have abdominal pain, pelvic pain, or persistent contractions.

             ·      Have a headache.

             ·      Notice an absence or decrease in fetal movement.

             ·      Feel faint, dizzy, nauseous, or light-headed.

             ·      Feel cold or clammy.

            ·      Have vaginal bleeding.

            ·      Have a sudden gush of fluid from the vagina, or a trickle of fluid that leaks steadily.

            ·      Notice an irregular or rapid heartbeat.

           ·      Have sudden swelling in your ankles, hands, face, or calf pain.

           ·      Are short of breath.

           ·      Have difficulty walking.

           ·      Have muscle weakness.

The big question many women have after delivery is – when can I start working off these extra pounds? It’s best to start fitness routines gradually and follow your health provider’s recommendations. Too often, women who have just given birth are inundated with images of celebrities who look as though they have dropped 50 pounds and returned to their former sleek selves within weeks after delivery. However they accomplish this (think spandex & a personal trainer that works you relentlessly), it’s not necessary or even healthy to try to capture your former body immediately.

Most women can safely perform a low-impact activity one to two weeks after a vaginal birth (or three to four weeks after a cesarean birth). Do about half of your normal floor exercises and don't try to overdo it.

Exercising during pregnancy is not a “one routine fits all” kind of thing. You can strengthen your muscles and reap the benefits of exercise while pregnant, just do it under the guidance of your health provider. He or she knows your limits, your medical history and will be able to help you achieve the best results.

Story source:

Traci C. Johnson, MD, http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/exercise-during-pregnancy.

 

 

Your Baby

Delayed Cord Clamping May Improve Infant’s Health

2:00

According to a new study, delaying umbilical cord cutting by 2 minutes after birth may result in better development in a newborn’s first days of life.

When to cut the umbilical cord has been debated and changed over a long period of time. Before studies began in the mid-1950s, cord clamping within 1 minute of birth was defined as "early clamping," and "late clamping" was defined as more than 5 minutes after birth. And the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have stated, "the ideal timing for umbilical cord clamping has yet to be established."

To provide further evidence in the debate of early versus late cord clamping, researchers led by Professor Julio José Ochoa Herrera of the University of Granada, assessed newborn outcomes for infants born to 64 healthy pregnant women to determine the impact of clamping timing on oxidative stress and the inflammatory signal produced during delivery.

All of these women had a normal pregnancy and spontaneous vaginal delivery. However, half of the women's newborns had their umbilical cord cut 10 seconds after delivery and half had it cut after 2 minutes.

Results showed that with late cord clamping there was an increase in antioxidant volume and moderation of inflammatory effects in newborns.

Other studies have shown that delaying clamping allows more time for blood to move from the placenta through the cord, improving iron and hemoglobin levels in newborns.

If delaying cord clamping is beneficial for newborns, then why do many doctors perform a quick cut? Apparently there are several reasons.

According to ACOG, a previous series of studies into blood volume changes after birth concluded that in healthy term infants, more than 90% of blood volume was attained within the first few breaths he or she took after birth.

As a result of these findings, as well as a lack of other recommendations regarding optimal timing, the amount of time between birth and umbilical cord clamping was widely shortened; in most cases, cord clamping occurs within 15-20 seconds after birth.

The World Health Organization (WHO) believes waiting longer is better. WHO supports late cord clamping (1-3 minutes) because it "allows blood flow between the placenta and neonate to continue, which may improve iron status in the infant for up to 6 months after birth."

ACOG states on their website that “Concerns exist regarding universally adopting delayed umbilical cord clamping. Delay in umbilical cord clamping may jeopardize timely resuscitation efforts, if needed, especially in preterm infants. However, because the placenta continues to perform gas exchange after delivery, sick and preterm infants are likely to benefit most from additional blood volume derived from a delay in umbilical cord clamping.”

WHO states clearly that that early cord clamping - less than 1 minute after birth - is not advised unless the newborn is asphyxiated and needs to be moved for resuscitation.

Simply holding a wet, crying and wiggling baby for 2 minutes may also prove difficult for physicians whose hands are gloved. The better option may be to place the baby on the mother’s stomach, wait the 2 minutes and then cut the cord.

More and more studies are finding that in certain circumstances, waiting a couple of minutes longer to cut the umbilical cord may be best for baby.

According to this study, there’s really no reason why newborns from a normal pregnancy and vaginal delivery should not be allowed at least 2 minutes before the cord is clamped after birth.

Mothers and fathers-to-be should discuss cord cutting timing with their doctor before the baby is born. If your preference is to allow more time before cutting the cord when your baby arrives, let your physician know ahead of time.  He or she can then advise you on when early clamping may be necessary and when it can wait a couple of extra minutes.

Scientists from the University of Granada and the San Cecilio Clinical Hospital in Spain conducted the research. The results were published in the journal Pediatrics. Source: Marie Ellis, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287041.php

http://www.acog.org

Your Baby

Eating Fish During Pregnancy Benefits Baby’s Brain Development

2:00

Can eating more fish during pregnancy help babies’ brains function better as they grow older? Yes, according to a new study from Spain. The researchers say that mothers who eat three substantial servings of fish – each week- during pregnancy may be giving their children an advantage as they mature.

Researchers followed nearly 2,000 mother-child pairs from the first trimester of pregnancy through the child’s fifth birthday and found improved brain function in the kids whose mothers ate the most fish while pregnant, compared to children of mothers who ate the least.

Even when women averaged 600 grams, or 21 ounces, of fish weekly during pregnancy, there was no sign that mercury or other pollutants associated with fish were having a negative effect that offset the apparent benefits.

“Seafood is known to be an important source of essential nutrients for brain development, but at the same time accumulates mercury from the environment, which is known to be neurotoxic,” lead author Jordi Julvez, of the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, said in an email to Reuters Health.

This important health concern prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to come up with a guideline for pregnant women in 2014. It encourages women to eat more fish during pregnancy, but limit the intake to no more than 12 ounces per week.

For this study, researchers analyzed data from the Spanish Childhood and Environment Project, a large population study that recruited women in their first trimester of pregnancy, in four provinces of Spain, between 2004 and 2008.

Julvez and colleagues focused on records of the women’s consumption of large fatty fish such as swordfish and albacore tuna, smaller fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies or salmon, and lean fish such as hake or sole, as well as shellfish and other seafood.

Women were tested for blood levels of vitamin D and iodine, and cord blood was tested after delivery to measure fetal exposure to mercury and PCB pollutants. At ages 14 months and five years, the children underwent tests of their cognitive abilities and Asperger Syndrome traits to assess their neuropsychological development.

On average, the women had consumed about 500 g, or three servings, of seafood per week while pregnant. But with every additional 10 g per week above that amount, children’s test scores improved, up to about 600 g. The link between higher maternal consumption and better brain development in children was especially apparent when kids were five.

The researchers also saw a consistent reduction in autism-spectrum traits with increased maternal fish consumption.

Mothers’ consumption of lean fish and large fatty fish appeared most strongly tied to children’s scores, and fish intake during the first trimester, compared to later in pregnancy, also had the strongest associations.

“I think that in general people should follow the current recommendations,” Julvez said. “Nevertheless this study pointed out that maybe some of them, particularly the American ones, should be less stringent.”

Julvez noted that there didn’t appear to be any additional benefit when women ate more than 21 ounces (about 595 g) of fish per week.

“I think it's really interesting, and it shed a lot more light on the benefits of eating fish during pregnancy,” said Dr. Ashley Roman, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

“I think what's interesting about this study compared to some data previously is that they better quantify the relationship between how much fish is consumed in a diet and then the benefits for the fetus and ultimately the child,” said Roman, who was not involved in the study.

Roman also noted that pregnant women should avoid certain fish such as tilefish, shark, swordfish and giant mackerel. These are larger fish with longer life spans that may accumulate more mercury in their tissue.

While fish may be a great source of protein and benefit brain development in utero, most experts agree that women should consult their obstetrician about what fish are safer to eat and how much they should eat during pregnancy.

The study was published online in the January edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology

Source: Shereen Lehman, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-pregnancy-fish-idUSKCN0UW1S4

 

 

 

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