Mother’s obe­sity a fac­tor in birth de­fect rates

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Com­piled by Dr Chris­tine White

OBE­SITY is be­com­ing more com­mon in women of child­bear­ing age, and it could dra­mat­i­cally af­fect the health of their chil­dren. Ex­cess weight has al­ready been linked to chronic dis­eases and in­fer­til­ity, but new re­search in the ArchivesofPe­di­atri­cand Ado­les­cen­tMedicine now shows a link be­tween a wo­man’s weight prior to preg­nancy and the risk of birth de­fects in her child. Re­searchers in­ter­viewed 10,249 Amer­i­can women whose ba­bies were born with birth de­fects be­tween 1997 and 2002. The women were con­tacted be­tween six weeks and two years af­ter the baby’s birth and asked their height and weight be­fore preg­nancy, along with other de­mo­graphic and med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion. They were com­pared to 4065 women who had ba­bies with­out birth de­fects dur­ing the same time pe­riod. For many types of birth de­fects, in­clud­ing spina bi­fida, heart, limb and gen­i­tal de­fects, moth­ers were be­tween 1.3 and 2.1-fold more likely to have been obese prior to preg­nancy than moth­ers of healthy in­fants. ArchPe­di­a­trA­do­lescMed 2007;161:745-750 (Waller DK, et al) CAN­CER sur­vivors who eat a diet high in meat, fat, re­fined grains and desserts are at in­creased risk of can­cer re­cur­rence and death com­pared to pa­tients with a diet high in fruits, veg­eta­bles, poul­try and fish, con­cludes a study in the Jour­naloftheAmer­i­canMed­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion this week. The study in­volved 1009 colon can­cer pa­tients who were re­ceiv­ing chemo­ther­apy fol­low­ing surgery. They com­pleted a diet sur­vey dur­ing and six months af­ter the chemo­ther­apy. Over the next five years, 324 pa­tients had can­cer re­cur­rence, 223 pa­tients died with can­cer re­cur­rence, and 28 died with no ev­i­dence of can­cer re­cur­rence. Com­pared to those with a health­ier eat­ing pat­tern, those eat­ing a so- called ‘‘ West­ern’’ diet — high in meat, fat and sugar — had more than three times the risk of can­cer re­cur­rence or death. JAMA 2007;298:754-764 (Mey­er­hardt JA, et al) SMOK­ERS have a higher risk of de­vel­op­ing an eye dis­ease that is a lead­ing cause of blind­ness, ac­cord­ing to new re­search in the ArchivesofOph­thal­mol­ogy . Doc­tor Jen­nifer Tan and col­leagues from the Univer­sity of Syd­ney and West­mead Hospi­tal stud­ied 2454 Aus­tralians aged 49 and older. At the start and at five-year and 10-year fol­low-up vis­its, par­tic­i­pants were asked about their smok­ing be­hav­iours, and their eyes were ex­am­ined and pho­tographed. Com­pared to those who had never smoked, cur­rent smok­ers were four times more likely to de­velop an ad­vanced form of the eye dis­ease known as ‘‘ agere­lated mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion’’ (AMD). This can lead to loss of cen­tral vi­sion, re­duc­ing abil­ity to see fine de­tails, read and recog­nise faces. Past smok­ers were three times more likely to de­velop ad­vanced AMDthan ab­so­lute non-smok­ers. ArchOph­thal­mol 2007;125:1089-1095 (Tan JSL, et al) EX­ER­CIS­ING for just 30 min­utes a day, three days a week, is enough to lower blood pres­sure and im­prove health and fit­ness — less than cur­rent ex­er­cise rec­om­men­da­tions — claim the au­thors of a new study in the Jour­nalofEpi­demi­ol­o­gyandCom­mu­nity Health . For good health, the cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tion for adults is 30 min­utes of mod­er­ately stren­u­ous ex­er­cise on at least five days of the week. Re­searchers re­cruited 106 healthy but in­ac­tive adults aged be­tween 40 and 61. They were ran­domly as­signed to ei­ther a walk­ing pro­gram (30 min­utes of brisk walk­ing on five days of the week or three days of the week) or a con­trol group (no change in lifestyle) for 12 weeks. Blood pres­sure, choles­terol, weight, hip and waist cir­cum­fer­ence, and over­all fit­ness were mea­sured at the start and fin­ish of the study. There were no changes in any of the mea­sures among the non-walk­ers. Both groups of walk­ers showed sim­i­lar sig­nif­i­cant drops in blood pres­sure and waist and hip cir­cum­fer­ence, and in­creased over­all fit­ness. JEpi­demi­olCom­mu­ni­tyHealth 2007;61:778-783 (Tully MA, et al) CHIL­DREN whose moth­ers are de­pressed are less likely to de­velop be­havioural prob­lems such as ag­gres­sion, hy­per­ac­tiv­ity, de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety if their fa­thers are ac­tively in­volved in fam­ily life, claims a study in the ArchivesofPe­di­atri­can­dA­do­les­cent Medicine. The study in­volved 6552 mother/ child pairs who were in­ter­viewed ev­ery two years be­tween 1992 and 2002. Over­all, 23.4 per cent of women in the study re­ported suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion. Re­searchers asked chil­dren aged 10 and older how of­ten their fa­ther talked over im­por­tant de­ci­sions with them, whether he lis­tened to their side of an ar­gu­ment, whether he knew where they were when not at home, whether he missed events or ac­tiv­i­ties that were im­por­tant to them, and how close they felt to him. In house­holds with a de­pressed mother, the greater the fa­ther’s pos­i­tive in­flu­ence, the less likely chil­dren were to have be­havioural prob­lems. ArchPe­di­a­trA­do­lescMed 2007;161:697-703 (Chang JJ, et al) MOST Aus­tralian women of child­bear­ing age eat foods for­ti­fied with fo­late, finds a new study in the jour­nal PublicHealthNutri­tion , show­ing that manda­tory for­ti­fi­ca­tion of wheat flour (re­cently ap­proved in Aus­tralia and New Zealand) has great po­ten­tial to reach most women and fur­ther re­duce the in­ci­dence of neu­ral tube birth de­fects such as spina bi­fida. Led by doc­tor Wendy Oddy from the Telethon In­sti­tute for Child Health Re­search in Perth, re­searchers sur­veyed 578 re­cently preg­nant women in West­ern Aus­tralia be­tween Septem­ber 1997 and March 2000. Over­all, 89 per cent of women had heard, seen or read in­for­ma­tion about the link be­tween fo­late and spina bi­fida, and 78 per cent con­sumed fo­late-for­ti­fied foods. The fo­late-for­ti­fied foods most of­ten con­sumed by women were ce­re­als (69 per cent), breads (34 per cent) and milk (15 per cent). PublicHealthNutri­tion doi:10.1017/S1368980007796295 (Oddy WH, et al) Want to know more? Items are ref­er­enced where pos­si­ble. A ref­er­ence such as ‘‘ 2007;35:18-25’’ means the source ar­ti­cle was pub­lished on pages 18-25 in vol­ume num­ber 35 of the pub­li­ca­tion, in 2007. A doi num­ber or web­site ad­dress is used for re­search pub­lished on a jour­nal’s web­site.

Chil­dren: Hap­pier if Dad’s in­volved

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