Stress and Pregnancy, Asthma and Allergies--Linked

New research contends that stressed out expectant mothers increase their baby’s likelihood of developing asthma or allergies later in life. Serena Gordon of HealthDay News explains:
Babies born to mothers experiencing high levels of stress had more IgE in their blood at birth than did babies born to less-stressed moms. IgE is an antibody involved in allergic and asthmatic reactions.

"Moms who had elevated levels of stress had children who seemed to be more reactive to allergens, even when exposed to low levels of allergens," said study co-author Dr. Rosalind Wright, an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Wright's colleague, and another author of the study, Junenette Peters, said that stress may make women more susceptible to allergens because it "may make the cells more permeable" so that even low levels of exposure trigger a reaction. And, women whose immune systems are altered by stress may, in turn, pass down that trait to their infants.

Peters, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, was to present the findings Sunday at the American Thoracic Society's 2008 International Conference, in Toronto.

The study, which was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, included 315 expectant mothers and their infants. All of the mothers lived in an urban environment.
Stressed and pregnant! How do you ladies do it? You all need to relax. Hey, maybe this will help. Check it out:


Keep breathing...

Health Points: Friday

York company voluntarily recalled more than 286,000 pounds of its products.

Officials said certain products labeled Gourmet Boutique, Jan's and Archer Farms may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, although there were no reports of illness before the recall.

Listeria can cause a potentially fatal disease that it is rarely contracted by healthy people, the Monterey County Health Department reported. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness and nausea. Rare but serious symptoms can occur in those with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women make up about a third of listeriosis cases, health officials said.
Arthritis strikes more than half of the 20.6 million American adults who have diabetes, and the painful joint condition may be a barrier to exercise among these patients, a new government report shows.


Being physically active helps people manage both diseases better by controlling blood sugar levels and reducing joint pain, according to the report in the May 9 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The prevalence of arthritis is astoundingly high in people with diabetes," said Dr. John H. Klippel, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. "Over half the people with diabetes have arthritis."
Nudging reluctant seniors to take physical fitness classes represents just one strategy to reduce the risk of falling. It's also vital to evaluate their vision and the medications they're taking. Aged pupils, for example, don't dilate as well in darkness or constrict as well in brightness.


One study showed that falls decreased 34 percent among seniors who had the milky opaqueness of a cataract removed from their eyes. Some specialists also point to bifocals and trifocals, which can blur vision, as potentially contributing to falls.

It's also common for lighting to be so inadequate that navigation of hallways and rooms can be treacherous, said Dr. Gary Chu, vice president for community collaborations at the New England Eye Institute.
"I've asked all the presidential candidates whether America should be smoke-free," he told a Senate committee hearing on how to tackle cancer.


"The consensus is that it's better left to the cities and states," he said, agreeing that state- or community-level bans were "the way to go."

"Second-hand smoking is something I'm very passionate about," he told the committee.
Young children who live in neighborhoods with lots of trees have lower rates of asthma than children who reside in areas with fewer trees, a new study finds. Researchers looked at asthma rates among children age 4 to 5 in New York City. Asthma rates decreased by almost one-quarter for every standard deviation increase in tree density, equivalent to 343 trees per square kilometer, the study found. The researchers said that trees may help reduce asthma rates by encouraging children to play outdoors more or by improving air quality.
Male postpartum depression may have more negative effects on some aspects of a child's development than its female counterpart, says James F. Paulson, PhD, of the Center for Pediatric Research at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va.


Paulson and colleagues reviewed data on more than 5,000 two-parent families with children aged 9 months.

They found that one in 10 new dads met standard criteria for moderate to severe postpartum depression.

That's a "striking increase" from the 3% to 5% of men in the general population that have depression, Paulson tells WebMD.
In the current study, researchers found that professional firefighters had higher-than-expected rates of colon cancer and brain cancer. There was also evidence, albeit weaker, that they had elevated risks of bladder and kidney cancers, as well as Hodgkin's lymphoma.


Dr. Letitia Davis with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues report the findings in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Firefighters are exposed to many potentially cancer-causing chemicals released from burning materials. At the scene of the fire, toxic substances such as benzene, lead, uranium and asbestos can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
A drug from a new class of weight-loss treatments disrupted wiring needed for brain development in young mice, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday, raising concerns about using such medications in children.


Mark Bear and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied the effects of a chemical that suppresses appetite by blocking cannabinoid receptors in the brain, the same brain mechanisms that make people hungry when they smoke marijuana.

"I think that the cautionary note is that these mechanisms play an important role in ... brain development," said Bear, whose study appears in the journal Neuron.
Even a benign lesion on a mammogram makes women and doctors nervous, and doctors sometimes recommend a biopsy anyway. But new data show that waiting six months for a follow-up mammogram is a safe option.


Researchers tracked more than 45,000 women who were given six-month follow-up mammograms after an initial scan found lesions that were “probably” benign. In most cases, they were. Only about one in 100 women were eventually diagnosed with cancer six to 12 months later, according to the study, which appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.
It is well known that high blood sugar levels indicative of the diabetes that occurs during pregnancy present risks for expectant mothers and their infants. The current study is believed to be the first to show that higher blood sugar levels -- not high enough to be considered diabetes -- also convey these increased risks.


In a study of nearly 24,000 pregnant women who had their blood sugar levels tested between 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, researchers found that the higher the mother's blood sugar level, the greater the chances that she would require Caesarean delivery and deliver an abnormally large baby.

Reduce Asthma, Delay DPT Vaccination...

“DPT vaccine given at the recommended times, doubles the risk of childhood asthma,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. And now, a new study claims delaying DPT may reduce the incidence of childhood asthma. Via Medscape:
The investigators analyzed data from the complete immunization and healthcare records of a cohort of children born in Manitoba in 1995, from birth until age 7 years. Using multivariable logistic regression, they computed the adjusted odds ratio for asthma at age 7 years according to the timing of DPT immunization.

Among 11,531 children who received at least 4 doses of DPT, the risk for asthma was halved in children in whom administration of the first dose of DPT was delayed by more than 2 months. For children with delays in administration of all 3 doses, the likelihood of asthma was 0.39 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.18 - 0.86).

"We found a negative association between delay in administration of the first dose of whole-cell DPT immunization in childhood and the development of asthma; the association was greater with delays in all of the first 3 doses," the study authors write. "The mechanism for this phenomenon requires further research."
For more on vaccinations check out April’s feature post: Mandatory Vaccinations: The Choice Should Be Yours.

Asthma and Obesity Don't Mix

A new study has determined that asthma attacks are worsened by obesity. More from Reuters:
A BMI is the ratio between height and weight, and is used to classify people as underweight, overweight or normal weight.

"The greater dynamic hyperinflation means that obese individuals lose the ability to inhale as deeply or exhale as fully as normal weight individuals," Dr. D. Robin Taylor explains in an American Thoracic Society statement.

Taylor's team at the University of Otago in Dunedin studied the changes in airway expansion and lung volume that occur with acute constriction of the bronchial tubes in a group of 30 adult women with asthma. Ten women each were classified as normal weight, overweight, or obese, and lung volumes were measured.

The degree of bronchial constriction following the airway sensitivity test did not vary by group, the team reports in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The only significant difference among the subjects was a decrease in vital capacity that significantly corresponded with increasing BMI.
“The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2030 all adults in the United States will be obese,” warns Dr. Fuhrman.