Tag Archives: pregnancy

Popular cancer drug target implicated in cardiovascular defects

The study, published September 8 in the journal Developmental Cell, reveals that CXCR7 binds to the ligand adrenomedullin. The UNC research suggests that this relationship is important because CXCR7 has become a popular candidate for cancer-drug developers. The UNC paper also provides a novel and unexpected role for CXCR7 in lymphatic vessels, which are largely understudied, but play critical roles in inflammation, edema, and tumor metastasis. “Our results suggest that inhibiting CXCR7 with a drug is also likely to influence the adrenomedullin peptide and may unexpectedly and negatively affect lymphatic vessels,” said senior study author Kathleen M. …

In nonsmoking women, breastfeeding for more than six months may protect against breast cancer

To look at the relationship between breast cancer and certain aspects of pregnancy and breastfeeding, Emilio González-Jiménez, PhD, of the University of Granada in Spain, and his colleagues analyzed the medical records of 504 female patients who were 19 to 91 years of age and who had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer from 2004 to 2009 at the San Cecilio University Hospital in Granada. …

Strong pregnancy outcomes for survivors of childhood cancer

"Most women think that if they had cancer as a child, then they’ll never have children. It turns out that many of them can get pregnant. It just might be a little harder," said senior author Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s and medical director of the David B…

Pound for pound, pregnancy bullying hurting moms

They claim she's “fat.” They say she's gained at least 65 pounds. The national celebrity magazines are talking about reality TV star Kim Kardashian – who is due to deliver her and Kanye West's baby girl. But, those same magazines are chiding other celebrities, like Britain's Princess Kate, for not gaining enough weight during their pregnancy. Is this kind of scrutiny really healthy? The FOX Medical Team's Beth Galvin took a closer look and here's what she learned. Here in Atlanta, a counselor who specializes in eating disorders says there's worry that pregnant women are getting the message that they can't afford to gain a lot of weight during the pregnancy. Pregnant with baby number three, Whitney Hudson says, “There are times when you step on the scale and you have to just try not to pay too much attention to it. You have to try not to pay attention to the fact that even your maternity shirts aren't fitting.” Hudson says she 's seen the magazines tracking Kardashian's pregnancy weight and following it up with asking if she's getting a little too big. “I don't know how much weight she's gained,” Hudson said. “She was not a skinny girl to start with, and it could be perfectly normal for her, but it's not our business.  It's the business between her and her doctor.” Jennifer Harcourt, a license professional counselor and site director, said, “I think everybody has an idea of what a pregnant woman should look like. How much weight they should gain, how much they shouldn't gain.  And, unfortunately that's not always realistic or attainable.” Click for more from My Fox Atlanta.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/12/pound-for-pound-pregnancy-bullying-hurting-moms/

Some women can have orgasms during child birth, study suggests

When Elena Skoko gave birth to her daughter three years ago, she felt pain. But she also felt something else: waves of pleasure so ecstatic they compared to an orgasm. “I had this wavy sensation of blissful waves going through me,” said Skoko, a singer and author of “Memoirs of a Singing Birth” (lulu.com, 2012). Though childbirth is frequently spoken of in terms of pain and punishment, some women do experience what are known as orgasmic or ecstatic births. A new survey, available online May 3 in the journal Sexologies, finds that midwives report witnessing orgasms in about 0.3 percent of births. Anatomically, orgasmic birth is no surprise, said Barry Komisaruk, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey who studies orgasm. In fact, the intense stimulation of the vaginal canal in childbirth may work to block pain whether that stimulation is felt as sexual or not. [Awkward Anatomy: 10 Odd Facts About the Female Body] Orgasmic birth: Yes, really Anecdotal reports of orgasm during birth have long circulated in the natural childbirth community. These reports reached perhaps their widest audience yet in 2009 with the documentary “Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret,” directed by childbirth educator Debra Pascali-Bonaro. People are often skeptical of the concept of pleasure during birth, Pascali-Bonaro told LiveScience. Some see the idea of sexual feelings during childbirth as unacceptable, she said. “People see 'birth' and 'orgasmic' together on paper, and it pushes all their buttons on sexuality,” Pascali-Bonaro said. In addition, she said, many women in America give birth in settings where they aren't able to move around freely because of fetal monitoring devices, where they have little labor support and where they aren't allowed water to drink in case of a C-section (food and beverages aren't permitted before surgery). All of these limitations make a pleasurable birth experience less likely and less imaginable for women who've had babies, she said. The new study, conducted by psychologist Thierry Postel of Blainville-sur-Mer, France, is among the first to try to put hard numbers on how many women experience moments of ecstasy in birth. Postel contacted 956 French midwives, asking them to complete an online questionnaire about orgasmic birth. He got 109 complete responses for midwives, who, combined, had assisted 206,000 births in their careers. Postel focused on midwives rather than doctors or nurses, because midwives witness many births firsthand and are reliable observers, he wrote. He also asked midwives to forward the surveys to recent mothers if they saw fit. The results “established the fact that obstetrical pleasure exists,” Postel wrote. Midwives reported 668 cases in which mothers told midwives they'd felt orgasmic sensations in birth. In another 868 cases, midwives said they'd seen mothers demonstrate signs of pleasure during childbirth. Finally, nine mothers completed questionnaires confirming they'd experienced an orgasm during birth. If anything, Pascali-Bonaro said, the survey likely underestimates the number of women who've experienced pleasure in birth by asking primarily midwives rather than mothers about their experiences. In one screening of her film, Pascali-Bonaro said an obstetrician stood up to say he'd never witnessed anything remotely orgasmic in his years of delivering babies. “Three rows behind him a woman jumped up and said, 'Doctor, I gave birth with you three years ago, and I had a very orgasmic birth, with an orgasm, but what makes you think I would tell you?'” Pascali-Bonaro said. The anatomy of orgasmic birth Skeptics of orgasmic birth abound “I've also heard that men can enjoy a similar experience by having an intimate encounter with a 20-ton press,” a commenter appropriately named “Skeptic” posted on a 2008 New York Times article about Pascali-Bonaro's movie. But research suggests that orgasm during birth comes down to simple anatomy. “It's stimulation of the birth canal, stimulation of the cervix, the vagina and the clitoris and uterine contractions,” Komisaruk told LiveScience. “A lot of women say during sexual orgasms uterine contractions feel pleasurable.” Every woman's anatomy is different, Komisaruk said, so some women may experience pleasure during childbirth while others feel only the pain. [5 Surprising Facts About Pain] “There are so many factors that could make the difference between a pleasurable response and a terribly stressful, aversive experience that you can't generalize it,” he said. “There's no reason to try to generalize. Different people have different pain thresholds. Different people have different attitudes. If a woman has a fear of sexuality, if she starts having a pleasurable sensation she may feel this is completely inappropriate psychologically, and that itself could be an aversive effect.” In other words: No pressure. “Our message is not at all that this should be a performance standard,” Pascali-Bonaro said. Rather, she said, her goal is to see women given the full range of options for birth and the support they need to experience moments of joy and bliss during the process. The science of pain and pleasure Whether or not orgasmic birth is in the cards, the anatomy involved brings good news for laboring women. Komisaruk and his colleagues have found that sexual stimulation and orgasm reduce sensitivity to pain. (Sex can even cure migraines, according to a March 2013 study.) In 1988, Komisaruk and his co-researchers published a study in the Journal of Sex Research that found when women stimulated their vaginas or clitorises, they became less sensitive to painful stimulation but not to other tactile stimulation. In 1990, the researchers followed up with a study that found women in labor had reduced pain sensitivity during labor compared with before and after. (The women in the study used Lamaze breathing techniques rather than drugs to control pain.)[Blossoming Body: 8 Odd Changes That Occur During Pregnancy] In rats, Komisaruk has found that vaginal stimulation blocks the release of a pain transmitter called Substance P right at the level of the spinal cord. In other words, the sensory neurons tasked with transmitting their message of “ouch!” to the central nervous system are stymied from the get-go. “It's an actual physiological, very primordial system of the genital system blocking pain input,” Komisaruk said. In addition, two regions of the brain that become active during orgasm, the anterior cingulate cortex and the insula, are also active during painful experiences. “There's something very intriguing going on between pain and pleasure,” said Komisaruk. Komisaruk holds a patent on the substance that blocks the pain in rats, called vasoactive intestinal peptide. A few pharmaceutical companies have shown interest, he said, but none have yet been willing to shell out the money it would take to test the substance for use as a pain medication in humans. Out of the laboratory and in the delivery room, clitoral and nipple stimulation provide pain relief for some women during labor, Pascali-Bonaro said. Some even use vibrators during labor to decrease pain. “It's such a culture where some women actually feel shamed that they have pleasure, because the expectation is pain,” Pascali-Bonaro said. “We have to change that.” For Skoko, who sang in order to get through her contractions, accepting sensuality into the birthing room was key. “The moment I realized my body is behaving sensually spontaneously and not obstructing that feeling, and just going with this feeling of my sensual body, my labor just went fast ahead,” said Skoko, who gave birth at the Yayasan Bumi Sehat natural birth center in Bali, Indonesia, where she lives part-time. “I had pain, but was not afraid of it, because I was dealing with it,” Skoko said. “It was fun, because I could laugh through it.” Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/03/yes-orgasms-during-birth-are-real-study-suggests/

New blood test predicts gestational diabetes risk early in pregnancy

For pregnant women, gestational diabetes can be a troubling complication.  A form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) causes glucose levels in the bloodstream to be higher than normal, which can pose significant risks to the unborn baby’s health. While GDM can often be controlled through proper diet, exercise and medication, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for women hoping to manage their high blood sugar and prevent complications during their pregnancy. In order to better identify the condition in pregnant women earlier, researchers from Tokyo Women’s Medical University have identified a biomarker in pregnant women’s blood that can help determine her risk of developing gestational diabetes. “Currently, at mid-pregnancy – 24 to 28 weeks – a glucose challenge test is performed to find GDM,” study author Dr. Atsuhiro Ichihara, of Tokyo Women’s Medical University, told FoxNews.com.  “However, earlier detection of GDM has been needed for early intervention or prevention,” Ichihara noted that usually only women who have risk factors such as obesity or a family history of GDM are screened earlier on in pregnancy.  Therefore, women who develop GDM and do not have these common risk factors often remain undiagnosed until the second trimester – and a delay in diagnosis often means therapies for GDM are less effective. If left untreated, GDM can increase the risk of jaundice, breathing issues and hypoglycemia in the newborn child.  More extreme side effects of uncontrolled GDM include the risk of premature delivery, preeclampsia, and even the death of the child before or shortly after birth.   Through previous research, Ichihara and his team had determined that the protein renin receptor (P)RR plays a significant role in the assembly and function of the enzyme known as vacuolar H+-ATPase (v-ATPase).  According to Ichihara, the disruption of this enzyme’s functions leads to the development of GDM.  The researchers believed that measuring levels of s(P)RR – the soluble form of (P)RR found in the bloodstream – could help predict whether or not pregnant women eventually develop diabetes. Using the popular diagnostic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test, the team analyzed the blood of 716 pregnant women during their first trimesters, measuring for their levels of s(P)RR.  Of the study’s participants, 44 women ultimately developed GDM. Confirming the researchers’ hypothesis, tests results showed that women with elevated levels of s(P)RR in their blood were 2.9 times more likely to develop gestational diabetes than the women with the lowest levels. According to Ichihara, the increased levels of s(P)RR suggest that the mothers are experiencing slowed metabolisms, putting them at risk for GDM. “The increased s(P)RR levels are thought to reflect the enhanced expression of (P)RR,” Ichihara said. “The GDM or pre-GDM patients have impaired metabolism, so the increase in the activity of v-ATPase is required to compensate the impaired metabolism. (P)RR is one of the factors stimulating the v-ATPase activity.” Overall, the research team hopes that this test will be utilized in pregnant women in addition to traditional markers for GDM – such as obesity and high blood pressure.  Ichihara said the test could also come in handy for detecting other conditions, as recent studies have found a connection between elevated s(P)RR levels and the birth of larger babies and high blood pressure in late pregnancy. “The evidence suggests the biomarker is important in the interaction between mother and fetus during pregnancy,” Ichihara said. The research was published in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/29/new-blood-test-determines-gestational-diabetes-risk-early-in-pregnancy/

How not to gain too much pregnancy weight

For many women, the extra calories that are vital for a healthy pregnancy often become a green light to indulge and give into cravings. In fact, more than 30 percent of women who have a normal weight before becoming pregnant gain more than the recommended amount during pregnancy, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System. If you’re overweight or obese before getting pregnant, or you gain too much weight during pregnancy, you and your baby’s health could be compromised. For starters, there’s an increased risk of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. There’s also a greater chance that you could have a miscarriage, a stillborn baby, deliver early or be required to have a cesarean section. Your baby could also develop birth defects and detecting them with an ultrasound can be tricky if you’re obese, according to Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and co-author of V is for Vagina. During labor and delivery, there’s also a higher chance for blood clots, C-section infection, and difficulty administering anesthesia. You might also have a larger baby, and studies show overweight women also have problems breastfeeding. Plus, losing weight after delivery could be tough too. Several rat studies also indicate that babies born to overweight moms might actually have permanent changes in their brain structures and genetic preferences that could put them at risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. “It is possible that we’re creating a generation of kids who are more likely to be obese, and as they grow up and have children, it creates more and more of a genetic problem,” said Melinda Johnson, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Babies born to overweight mothers are also more likely to be overweight themselves, but it’s not clear if it’s because they have the same eating habits as their moms or if it’s just plain genetics, according to Johnson. Regardless, “pregnancy is a great time for future mothers to start learning better habits, because we definitely know those habits play a huge role in the health of their children,” she said. If you’re planning to get pregnant or you already are, find out what you can do to have a healthy weight.   Know the guidelines Even if you’re already overweight, weight loss should never be your goal during pregnancy, according to Dweck.  Instead, follow the Institute of Medicine’s guidelines for pregnancy weight gain, which are based on your body mass index (BMI). So if your BMI is normal, aim to gain 25 to 35 pounds; if you’re overweight stay within 15 to 25 pounds, and if you’re obese, 11 to 20 pounds. Take your vitamins To make sure you’re getting the right amount of nutrients, look for a prenatal vitamin with 1 milligram of folic acid, iron and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A good prenatal should also have 1200 milligrams of calcium and 600 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin D. Eat a balanced diet It’s important to eat regular meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar steady and your energy levels up. Johnson recommended eating every two to four hours depending on how hungry you are.  It’s OK to give into your cravings, but try to put the focus on eating lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. Instead of eating foods loaded with saturated fats, opt for those with heart healthy fats like salmon, avocado, nuts and seeds. Drink plenty of water and nix soda, juice and sugary drinks. “Those are empty calories; they’re never going to make you feel full,” Dweck said. Talk to an expert If you’re worried about your weight or your diet, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about nutrition and exercise – ideally before you get pregnant.  Pregnancy is not the time to start an exercise program, Dweck said. Don’t look at the scale Is the number on the scale creeping higher every week despite your best efforts? Don’t fret, said Johnson, who noted that your weight doesn’t matter if you’re making healthy choices, paying attention to portion sizes and exercising. “If women follow that advice, they can save themselves a lot of stress,” she said.Julie Revelant is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, health, food and women's issues and a mom. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/19/how-not-to-gain-too-much-pregnancy-weight/