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Pesticide exposure during pregnancy may increase autism risk
June 24th, 2014
02:36 PM ET

Pesticide exposure during pregnancy may increase autism risk

Scientists have long hypothesized that chemicals found in our environment play a role in causing autism. Research published this week in Environmental Health Perspectives supports that theory, finding children whose mothers are exposed to agricultural pesticides during pregnancy may be at increased risk for autism spectrum disorders, or ASD.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at the medical records of 970 participants. They found pregnant women who lived within a mile of an area treated with three different types of pesticides were at a two-thirds higher risk of having a child with ASD or developmental delays. These pesticide-treated areas included parks, golf courses, pastures and roadsides.

The study investigated the use of three classes of pesticides: organophosphates, which include the widely used insecticide chlorpyrifos, as well as pyrtheroids and carbamates.
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Filed under: Autism • Conditions • Environment • Pregnancy

One more reason to exercise regularly
May 20th, 2014
03:44 PM ET

One more reason to exercise regularly

Approximately 18% of women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy - meaning they're up to seven times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

The good news is that even if you have gestational diabetes, exercise can help.

A new study published this week in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine finds that every two hours of moderate activity (like walking or gardening) each week reduces a women's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 9%. Women who added 2.5 hours or more of moderate activity to their weekly regimen reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by 47%.
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Women waiting longer to have their first child
May 9th, 2014
09:45 AM ET

Women waiting longer to have their first child

More women over 35 are giving birth for the first time, according to a government study released Friday.  The report, issued by the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at data compiled over the past four decades.

Among the findings:

  • In 2012, there were more than nine times as many first births to women over age 35 than in the 1970s
  • From 2000 to 2012, first birth rates rose 35% for women aged 40 to 44, and 24% for women aged 35 to 39
  • The first birth rate for women aged 40–44 has more than doubled since 1990
  • In the past 20 years, first birth rates rose for older women across all races. The largest increases were seen for non-Hispanic white and black women, and Asian or Pacific Islander women

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Obesity during pregnancy raises stillbirth risk
April 15th, 2014
04:58 PM ET

Obesity during pregnancy raises stillbirth risk

Pregnant women who are obese or overweight have an increased risk of delivering a stillborn baby, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers looked at 38 studies to better understand the potential risks to an unborn child in relation to its mother's body mass index. They found even a modest increase in an obese pregnant woman's weight is linked to an increased risk of fetal death, stillbirth and infant death.

The highest risk was in women with a BMI over 40 (30 is considered obese). These women were two to three times more likely to experience complications. Even women with a BMI over 25 (which is considered overweight) were found to experience increased complications. FULL POST


Study: Stress may reduce fertility
March 24th, 2014
05:38 PM ET

Study: Stress may reduce fertility

If you're trying to get pregnant, relax and try to keep your stress down.  That sounds like good advice, which your doctor has probably given you, but there has been very little science to back it up - until now.

Researchers, publishing in the journal Human Reproduction, say they have put out the first prospective study showing an association between stress and infertility.  They measured stress using biomarkers in the saliva of women who wanted to conceive, and found a strong correlation with alpha-amylase.

"The women who had the highest levels of this salivary stress biomarker had a 29% decreased probability of pregnancy over time, and that actually translated into a more than two-fold risk of infertility for them by the end of the study," said lead author Courtney Lynch, director of reproductive epidemiology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

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February 24th, 2014
04:07 PM ET

Acetaminophen in pregnancy linked to 'ADHD-like behaviors'

Doctors frequently recommend acetaminophen, commonly found in over-the-counter pain relievers including Tylenol, to pregnant women for treating mild pain.

But a new study out of Denmark suggests the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy could be associated with ADHD-like behavioral problems in children.

“(Pregnant women) shouldn’t worry at this point,” says study author Dr. Beate Ritz, professor and chair of the epidemiology department at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health. “But if I were a woman who was pregnant ... I would try to avoid taking painkillers as much as I can until we know more about this.” FULL POST


U.S. women having fewer children
December 6th, 2013
12:01 AM ET

U.S. women having fewer children

New numbers out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that fewer women in the United States are having children.

Between 2000 and 2009, pregnancy rates for U.S. women fell by 12%, or nearly 6.4 million pregnancies. The pregnancy rate is the lowest it has been in 12 years.

In fact, the rates for teenage pregnancy reached historic lows in 2009, for all three major race groups: non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanic teenagers. In 2009, there were 39% fewer teen pregnancies than the 1991 peak rate of 61.8 teen pregnancies for every 1,000 teens.

"Research suggests that more teens are delaying initiating sex, waiting longer to have sex," said Rachel Jones, a senior research associate with the Guttmacher Institute, who was not associated with the study.
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5 studies you may have missed
If babies are ingesting both solid foods and breast milk, the immune system can learn the food is safe, scientists say.
November 22nd, 2013
02:26 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published recently that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Breast milk + solid foods = allergy prevention?
Journal: Pediatrics

With up to 8% of children in the United States dealing with food allergies, many parents want to know how they can prevent this condition. A new study suggests that babies who receive solid food while they are breast-feeding may be protected from food allergies.

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Autism linked to induced or augmented labor, study says
August 12th, 2013
04:01 PM ET

Autism linked to induced or augmented labor, study says

As scientists struggle to understand the causes of autism, a potential new pattern has emerged: The condition is associated with induced or augmented labor, according to a new study.

Induction means stimulating contractions before spontaneous labor begins. Augmentation means helping contractions become stronger, longer or more frequent. Both of these methods of expediting deliveries have helped mothers who have health conditions that could be detrimental to them or their child.

The researchers did not prove that these treatments cause autism. Women should not read the new study, which is published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, and decide against expediting labor on that basis, said Simon Gregory, researcher at Duke University Medical Center and lead author of the study.

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IVF may slightly increase mental retardation risk
A medical worker prepares to perform intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
July 2nd, 2013
06:41 PM ET

IVF may slightly increase mental retardation risk

While new research finds no significant link between autism and singleton children conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF), a slightly increased risk of mental retardation, or intellectual disability, was found following IVF treatment including intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

ICSI involves the injection of a single sperm into an egg to fertilize it.  Researchers found when ICSI was used to overcome male infertility, the  risk for intellectual disability increased slightly compared to IVF without ICSI.

"The reasons (for an increased risk) could be the underlying infertility,” says Abraham Reichenberg, one of the study authors and a professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York and King's College London.

“It could be something happening in the many steps that are involved in each of the treatments, or something that's happening later in the pregnancies, or all of them combined together.  It could be any one of those steps.  In any one of them it could go wrong." FULL POST


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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