Government got it wrong on advice to pregnant women

Folic acid advice has had little impact on birth defects

Recommendations for women planning a pregnancy to take folic acid supplements have had no impact on the number of babies born with neural tube defects, says an international team of researchers.

Recommendations on use of folic acid consumption have had no detectable impact on the incidence of neural tube defects, according to an international study.

Upon reading these headlines and summaries, wouldn't you, as a pregnant woman taking folic acid supplements on the recommendation of your doctor, begin to think that you had been misled and might as well throw away your remaining pills? Doesn't it sound as if the relationship between folic acid deficiency and birth defects has been disproved? Not so! (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, February 18, 2005 at 9:02 am | Edit
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The Virus Within: A Coming Epidemic, by Nicholas Regush (Dutton, 2000)

I know that my brother had roseola when he was 14 months old, because I found mention of the episode in one of my father’s journals. Although it was not documented, I assume the rest of us also contracted the disease. Most children do, before they are two years old, often with symptoms so mild they evade diagnosis.

Although roseola was officially described in 1910, and studies in the early 1950’s led scientists to believe that it was caused by a virus, it was not until the 1980’s that the virus was isolated and named: Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6). What was being discovered about this virus would have roused great concern, had not the attention of the scientific and medical communities, and the media, been overwhelmed by the more obvious medical problem of the time: AIDS. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, January 30, 2005 at 9:35 pm | Edit
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Don't you just love it when things you like to eat turn out to be good for you? Turmeric is a spice commonly found in Indian curries and other Asian dishes, as well as good old American French's mustard. Curcumin, the component responsible for turmeric's yellow color, apparently provides numerous health benefits. Most recently, a study at UCLA has shown that curcumin may be efffective in treating and preventing Alzheimer's disease. In those tests, curcumin succeeded in preventing the formation and growth in the brain of the amyloid plaques that are the hallmark of the disease.

Since amyloid plaques are also present in the brains of people afflicted with the human form of mad cow disease and other spongiform encephalopathies, this finding may be of even wider importance.

Hmmm...perhaps we'll have curry for dinner...or maybe something Thai....
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 7:07 am | Edit
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We have a friend who just delivered her third child after two previous Caesarean sections that followed non-progressive labors. According to a recent report in the New York Times, that blessing would not have been possible with many doctors and hospitals. For a number of reasons, many hospitals are refusing to allow patients to attempt VBAC's (vaginal births after Caesarean). (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 30, 2004 at 1:58 pm | Edit
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A study in London showed that chocolate is a more effective cough medicine than those terrible-tasting syrups, and has fewer side effects. Patients in the study were given theobromine in amounts equivalent to two cups of cocoa, or codeine, or a placebo. Codeine, traditionally used to suppress persistent coughs, was only slightly more effective than the placebo, but the theobromine excelled. The next questions: Is more better? Is less just as effective? Since milk chocolate contains less theobromine than dark chocolate, do I need to eat more M&M's than chocolate chips for the same result? <Ahem>, <ahem>, excuse me while I go nip this cough in the bud....
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 at 1:41 pm | Edit
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Worried about putting on extra pounds with upcoming holiday feasting? Remember what your mom always told you, and be sure to get enough sleep! A study by Columbia University researchers shows a strong inverse correlation between the amount of sleep people receive and their tendency toward obesity. Compared with those who slept seven to nine hours per night, people who slept less than four hours a night were 73% more likely to be obese; those who got five hours of sleep were 50% more likely, and those who averaged six hours were 23% more likely.

Sleep—the new weight loss program!
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 22, 2004 at 8:31 am | Edit
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A technique for protecting premature infants, developed in Colombia because of a shortage of incubators, is proving so effective that Colombian doctors are urging more affluent nations to adopt it as well. Called "kangaroo mother care," the therapy begins when the child no longer needs special medical support, and ends when he is able to regulate his own temperature, typically at the time he would normally have been born. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 13, 2004 at 12:43 pm | Edit
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An Austrian study of the benefits of walking is both encouraging and perplexing. During the four-month study, 45 healthy adults walked 600 meters, three to five times per week. Each participant walked uphill for half of the study, and downhill for the other half, taking a cable car for the opposite trip.

It's not surprising that the walkers benefitted from their exercise; what is peculiar is the distribution of their improvements. Both uphill and downhill walkers experienced a decrease in their LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Uphill walking also lowered triglyceride levels and increased the body's ability to handle fat. Downhill walking significantly increased the body's ability to handle sugar. Walking uphill did not help with sugar, nor downhill with fats. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 10, 2004 at 8:28 am | Edit
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Florida is being labeled as an unhealthy state, ranking 42nd in a study by the United Health Foundation. On looking further into the study, I discovered that the risk factors they considered were far different from the ones I would have chosen to get a picture of how living in a certain state might be a health risk or benefit. I would have asked questions such as: (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 9, 2004 at 7:37 am | Edit
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Researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital found yet another health benefit of breastfeeding, this time for mothers. Women in the study who breastfed their children for a total of one to two years experienced a 20% lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis later in life. For those who breastfed for at least two years, the risk was cut in half.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 4, 2004 at 2:35 pm | Edit
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Cast your vote, then "cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you" (Psalm 55:22). As close as this election is, we can be sure that half of the people in this country will be disappointed with the results. Nonetheless, for the health of our country, we all need to look toward the future with hope and enthusiasm.

For our country—and for ourselves, also. It is appropriate that today's news includes a Dutch study confirming the positive health benefits of optimism. The nine-year study of nearly a thousand men and women between the ages of 65 and 85 found that an optimistic personality contributed significantly to reduced mortality. The effect was most dramatic when cardiovasculary mortality alone was considered. (The above link takes you directly to the Archives of General Psychiatry where the research was published. As might be expected, unfortunately, the news stories circulating differ vastly in accuracy, with some reporting the opposite of the true cardiovascular results.) (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 2, 2004 at 9:44 am | Edit
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Researchers in England have determined that tea inhibits the activity of brain enzymes linked to Alzheimer's disease. They don't know yet if the effect works in vivo, but the report nontheless puts an extra feeling of satisfaction into my morning "cuppa." Both green and black tea have this salubrious effect, although green tea's benefits are more enduring.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 at 9:21 am | Edit
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A study of German babies showed a higher risk of food allergies and diarrhea for those born by Caesarean section. The healthy, full-term babies were all exclusively breastfed for the first four months, during which time no such effect was seen. However, blood samples taken at 12 months showed that C-section babies were twice as likely as vaginally-delivered babies to have allergies to five common food allergens, including eggs, cow's milk, and soy protein. They were also 46% more likely to suffer from diarrhea during the first year.

These findings are consistent with previous research which demonstrated the importance of intestinal bacteria in the development of a healthy immune system. Babies who experience a normal delivery pick up vaginal, intestinal, and perianal microbes from their mothers. The risk to babies born by C-section includes not only deprivation of normal microbes, but also exposure to the unnatural microbial ecosystem peculiar to a hospital environment.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 21, 2004 at 10:33 am | Edit
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...to make a man. Or at least it improves the odds significantly, according to a study by Dr. Karen Norberg, a clinical associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "When parents were living together before the birth of one child, that child was 14% more likely to be male than when the parents were not living together before the birth," she reported, according to an article in today's Guardian.

Charles Darwin noted similar findings in 1874, giving some credence to the article's statement that this "is certainly not an effect of any bias from parents against daughters." Otherwise one could easily imagine single mothers preferring to raise daughters; not everyone, but enough to skew the statistics. Sex-selective abortion is frowned upon, but that doesn't prevent it. And it can have a huge impact.

Just ask the Chinese.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at 7:25 am | Edit
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A study of premature infants suggests that delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord can reduce the need for blood transfusion in babies who are born too soon. A delay of only 30 seconds to two minutes was sufficient to provide significant benefit.

This news led me to search out a much more exhaustive discussion of umbilical cord issues, covering everything from conditions where immediate separation is necessary, to cord blood collection, to the "lotus birth," in which the placenta stays attached until the cord falls off the baby. Parents, midwives, and a few doctors speak out on issues that I had no idea were issues when I gave birth a quarter of a century ago. The concensus of this group is that delayed cord cutting is beneficial for full term babies (and their mothers) as well. Most of the debate seems to be between cutting the cord after the placenta stops pulsating, and waiting until the placenta is delivered.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 at 7:35 pm | Edit
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