Does moderate drinking in Pregnacy affect baby’s IQ?

Drinking one or two glasses of wine a week during pregnancy can have an impact on a child’s IQ, a study says.

Researchers from Oxford and Bristol universities looked at the IQ scores of 4,000 children as well as recording the alcohol intake of their mothers.

They found “moderate” alcohol intake of one to six units a week during pregnancy affected IQ.

Experts said the effect was small, but reinforced the need to avoid alcohol in pregnancy.

Previous studies have produced inconsistent and confusing evidence on whether low to moderate levels of alcohol are harmful in pregnancy, largely because it is difficult to separate out other factors that may have an effect such as the mother’s age and education.

But this research, published in the PLOS One journal, ruled that out by looking at changes in the genes that are not connected to social or lifestyle effects.

‘Why take the risk?’

The study found that four genetic variants in alcohol-metabolising genes in children and their mothers were strongly related to lower IQ at age eight.

On average, the child’s IQ was almost two points lower per genetic modification they possessed.

But this effect was only seen among the children of women who drank between one and six drinks a week during pregnancy and not among women who abstained when they were pregnant.

The researchers said although a causal effect could not be proven, the way they had done the study strongly suggested that it was exposure to alcohol in the womb that was responsible for the differences in child IQ.

Dr Ron Gray, from Oxford University, who led the research added that although the differences appeared small, they may well be significant and that lower IQ had been shown to be associated with being socially disadvantaged, having poorer health and even dying younger.

“It is for individual women to decide whether or not to drink during pregnancy, we just want to provide the evidence.

“But I would recommend avoiding alcohol. Why take the risk?”

A Department of Health spokesman said that since 2007 their advice had been that women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant should avoid alcohol.

But Dr Clare Tower, consultant in obstetrics and fetal maternal medicine, at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, stressed that women who have had the occasional alcoholic drink in pregnancy should not be overly alarmed by the findings.

“Current UK advice is that the safest course of action is abstinence during pregnancy.

“The finding of this study would concur that this is undoubtedly the safest advice.”

But she pointed out that another recent study had found no effect on IQ at five years.

“It is likely therefore, that any impact is likely small and not seen in all women.”

Source: 15 November 2012, News, BBC Health

Obese Children’s Hearts in Danger

Severely obese children are putting their heart at danger even while they are still in primary school, according to a Dutch study.

Obese childrenHeart disease is normally associated with middle age, but the early warning signs were detected in children between the ages of two and 12.

Two-thirds of the 307 children studied had a least one early symptom such as high blood pressure.

The findings were presented in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Obesity is a growing problem around the world with more people becoming obese and at a younger age.

Two-year-olds with a Body Mass Index, a measure of obesity, greater than 20.5 are classed as severely obese. By the age of 18, a BMI of 35 is a sign of severe obesity.

Researchers at the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam collected data from the Dutch Paediatric Surveillance Unit between 2005 and 2007.

They looked at warning signs of heart disease in the severely obese children.

“Remarkably, 62% of severely obese children under 12 years of age already had one or more cardiovascular risk factors,” the study concluded.

More than half had high blood pressure, and there were also cases of low “good cholesterol” and high blood sugar, which can result in Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers said this “may lead to cardiovascular disease in young adulthood”.

Doireann Maddock, a senior cardiac nurse with the British Heart Foundation, said: “Although it was a small study, the findings leave a bad taste in the mouth.

“It’s a huge concern so many obese children were identified as already having at least one risk factor for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high blood glucose and problems with cholesterol levels.

“However, this is a problem that can be addressed by stopping young people becoming overweight and obese in the first place.

“Highlighting the importance of healthy eating and physical activity from an early age will help protect the heart health of future generations.”


Source: BBC News, Health.

Things Increase The Risk of Death From Asthma

It is necessary to retain good control of asthma, because asthma can lead to death. Children and adults who have had one or more severe, life-threatening asthma attacks (status asthmaticus) are at increased risk of death from asthma.

Also, if persons with asthma don’t follow their treatment strategies and they overuse quick-relief medicine, they may not ask for care when it is needed. This may increase their chances of having severe asthma attacks that could be life-threatening or cause death.

 Other things that may increase the risk of death from asthma include:


  • Not having a written asthma action plan.
  • Prior need for a breathing tube (intubation) for asthma.
  • Two or more hospital stays for asthma in the past year.
  • Three or more visits to the emergency room in the past year.
  • A stay in the hospital or an emergency room visit for asthma in the past month.
  • Not being able to tell whether breathing is becoming worse.
  • Use of illegal drugs.
  • Living in poverty.
  • Having a serious mental illness.
  • Having another health problem, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or cardiovascular disease.
  • Allergy to a certain kind of outdoor mold (Alternaria)




National Institutes of Health (2007). National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (NIH Publication No. 08–5846). Available online:


Omega-3s tied to lower risk of heart arrhythmia

According to Reuters health, In a new study of some 3,000 older adults, those with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood were 30 percent less likely to develop an irregular heartbeat over the next 14 years than peers with the lowest blood levels of omega-3s.

Some preceding studies have suggested that people eating a lot of fish have a lower risk of dveloping atrial fibrillation to begin with. But others haven’t found the same link. Omega-3s tied to lower risk of heart arrhythmia.

The omega-3 fatty acids mentioned in the new study — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – are discovered in oily fish and some enriched foods, like eggs, as well as in fish oil products.

A 30 percent reduction in risk would mean that instead of 25 out of every 100 people developing a condition, only about 17 out of every 100 people would get it.

Another study from Finland used the same approach of measuring fatty acids in the blood and found a similar reduction in the risk of atrial fibrillation among those with the highest levels.

Another study from Finland used the same approach of measuring fatty acids in the blood and found a similar reduction in the risk of atrial fibrillation among those with the maximum levels.

Mozaffarian’s group tried to tease out which of the omega-3 fats might be responsible for the lower risk, and found that high DHA levels were linked to a 23 percent lower risk for atrial fibrillation while EPA and DPA were not tied to any reduced risk.

DHA is highly gathered in heart muscle cell membranes, Mozaffarian and his colleagues point out in their report, published in the journal Circulation. Alonso cautioned that this study doesn’t prove eating fish is responsible for the lower rate of atrial fibrillation, however, he said there is some idea that the fatty acids found in fish could work by stabilizing the excitability of heart muscle cells.

He said that the results seem promising enough to warrant further studies experimenting with using fish oil as a potential preventive measure against atrial fibrillation.

An earlier study of fish oil pills found that they didn’t help the symptoms of atrial fibrillation in people who had already developed the arrhythmia (see Reuters Health story of November 15, 2010).

The American Heart Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other groups recommend eating fish at least twice a week.

Source:  Health news, Reuters

Optimism Can Bring Long Life

If you wish live a long life, be optimistic and keep smiling as much as you can. The researchers who have found that people, who have high age, are often extroverts, have a happy life and see the the world around in a beautiful way.


The findings stem from the Longevity Genes Project, launched by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. All the participants in the latest study were over the age of 95, and all were of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descent.

Study co-author Dr. Nir Barzilai, director of Einstein’s Institute for Aging Research and chair of its division of Aging Research admitted “We really were not sure what got them to their advanced age,”. “Was it their personality, or something more in their genetics?

Our findings that these centenarians share such positive personality traits suggest that they may be associated with longevity,” he added.

The team indicates that the United States is presently home to about 53,000 centenarians, take about .2 percent of the population. But precisely how genetics determine into the longevity formula remains something of a secret, as is how genetic predispositions that prefer certain personality traits might impact on the aging process.

To cope with the latter question, the authors first created a 98-point questionnaire that was made to screen for facts of key personality features.

It was then applied to 243 of those near 100 years old. Three-quarters were women, and all have the same ethnicity, which allowed the team to make personality comparisons among genetically similar individuals.

The result of the research: The majority of near-centenarians were found to be relaxed, friendly, conscientious and hopeful about life. The others also strongly confirmed that, an easy laugh and an active social life were observed to be a group norm, while neuroticism was obviously the exception. What’s more, feelings were more commonly shared as they arose, rather than stifled.

Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University Medical Center, stated the results confirm several observations he and his colleagues have made in the past.

For example, Perls’ own team’s look at personality traits typically found among the children of centenarians suggested that “those who are high in neuroticism tend to dwell on things and internalize their stress rather than let it go,” he noted. “This can translate into increased risk for cardiovascular disease. High extroversion may lead to a better ability to establish social support networks – which is very good for older people – and to be cognitively engaged.

These studies show people that they should do what they can to control their stress better so that it doesn’t manage them,” Perls added. “People usually know very well what activities help them reduce stress. For example physical exercise, yoga, tai chi, laughing a lot, reading or art activities. And, surely, enough sleep.” We just need time and energy to do these things.

What’s a good cholesterol level?

We often heart about high blood cholesterol level. We look at what cholesterol is and how it affects our health when this level increases.

Cholesterol forms part of the surface membrane, which surrounds every cell. Its function is protecting nerve fibers (and so make nerve signals work properly) and produce hormones that transport chemical signals around the entire body.

Your body might not work without cholesterol. It is essential to guarantee the body’s regular function. However too much cholesterol in the blood will increase the risk of coronary heart disease and diseases related to the arteries. The body generally makes all the cholesterol it needs. Some dietary cholesterol is normally excreted via the liver, however eating too much saturated fat leads to excess cholesterol in the blood stream.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Department of Health cholesterol guidelines on a healthy cholesterol level, which is the policy doctors follow, are:

  • Total cholesterol – less than 5.0mmol/l
  • LDL cholesterol – less than 3.0mmol/l

However, the Joint British Societies (a group of the main UK expert societies involved in cardiovascular disease) recommend different cholesterol limits for people who have, or are at risk of, coronary heart disease:

  • Total cholesterol – less than 4.0mmol/l
  • LDL cholesterol – less than 2.0mmol/l

These guidelines match the more stringent recommendations used in Europe.

It’s important to keep your cholesterol levels within healthy limits. Try to have a healthy daily recipes, lose weight if needed, increase physical activity, quit smoking to have a good development of the whole body.

Will ground green coffee beans become a new weight loss secret?

Ground green coffee beans, taken daily, seem to spur steady weight loss, according to new research. 

In a small, 22-week study, researchers found that 16 overweight men and women lost an average of 17 pounds. They took the green (unroasted) coffee beans in supplement form and, for comparison, took a placebo at a different point of the study.

They did not change their diet. They were physically active. They lost more while on the supplements than while on placebo. They lost the most when on the higher of two coffee bean doses.

“We don’t think it’s the caffeine in it,” says Joe Vinson, PhD, professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton.

He presented the findings Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego. The results echo those of earlier studies, but Vinson used a larger dose of the green coffee beans.

The study included people 22 to 46 years old. It was funded by Applied Food Sciences, which makes the green coffee antioxidant supplement.

The results are interesting, but the study was small and short, so further study is needed, says Connie Diekman, RD, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.

Will ground coffee beans promise a magical weight loss?

When roasted at 475 degrees, coffee beans are sometimes described as rich and full-bodied. But for the full-bodied person who is not so rich, unroasted coffee beans — green as the day they were picked — may hold the key to cheap and effective weight loss. For that reason, it shows a potential weight loss from green coffee beans.

Our advice is make choice of homemade roasted green coffee beans as the one huge advantage home roasted coffee beans has is that you know they’re fresh roasted. While with commercial coffee, we’re stuck with whatever the coffee roaster deems best. Which very often is the best, but still, who knows?!

More chocolate dessert, less weight

New research indicates a daily indulgence of chocolate is associated with a smaller waistline.
“People who ate chocolate more frequently had lower body mass index, meaning lower weight for their height,” reports Dr. Beatrice Golomb.

Dr. Golomb and her colleagues at the University Of California San Diego School of Medicine collected information on about a thousand adults: Their height, weight, exercise, and diet, including the amount of chocolate they regularly eat.

Although the study participants didn’t specify what kind of chocolate they ingested, dietitians say dark chocolate is abundant in heart-healthy plant compounds that act as antioxidants in the body.

“It’s associated with lower blood pressure, greater insulin sensitivity, favorable lipid profiles. These are often factors that track with weight,” Dr. Golomb explains.

Conventional wisdom suggests the extra calories, sugar and fat in chocolate trump any benefits, but not in this study.

“This was not explained by lower calorie intake, in fact people who ate chocolate more frequently ate more calories, and it was not explained by greater activity,” notes Dr. Golomb.

The link between greater chocolate consumption and a smaller body mass index was stronger in people who didn’t over-indulge in one sitting, but ate a small amount every day.

The chocolate industry did not fund this research. The project was spurred in part by personal interest.

“Chocolate is one of my favorite vegetables,” Golomb laughs.

Granted, not as healthy as a real vegetable, but one that should get its just deserts.

Good News For Male Baldness Treatment

A biological clue to male baldness has been discovered, raising the prospect of a treatment to stop or even reverse thinning hair.In studies of bald men and laboratory mice, US scientists pinpointed a protein that triggers hair loss.

Drugs that target the pathway are already in development, they report in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The research could lead to a cream to treat baldness.

Most men start to go bald in middle age, with about 80% of men having some hair loss by the age of 70.

The male sex hormone testosterone plays a key role, as do genetic factors. They cause the hair follicles to shrink, eventually becoming so small that they are invisible, leading to the appearance of baldness.

Reverse balding?

Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have analysed which genes are switched on when men start to go bald.

They found levels of a key protein called prostaglandin D synthase are elevated in the cells of hair follicles located in bald patches on the scalp, but not in hairy areas.

Mice bred to have high levels of the protein went completely bald, while transplanted human hairs stopped growing when given the protein.

Prof George Cotsarelis, of the department of dermatology, who led the research, said: “Essentially we showed that prostaglandin protein was elevated in the bald scalp of men and that it inhibited hair growth. So we identified a target for treating male-pattern baldness.

“The next step would be to screen for compounds that affect this receptor and to also find out whether blocking that receptor would reverse balding or just prevent balding – a question that would take a while to figure out.”

The inhibition of hair growth is triggered when the protein binds to a receptor on the cells of hair follicles, said Prof Cotsarelis.

Several known drugs that target this pathway have already been identified, he added, including some that are in clinical trials.

The researchers say there is potential for developing a treatment that can be applied to the scalp to prevent baldness and possibly help hair regrow.

BBC News

Can women get safe pregnancy after breast cancer, study

In fear of breast cancer may return after being treated, many women are wondering whether having a baby or not. As a matter of fact, the issue of a safe pregnacy is quite neccesary for patients with breast cancer to complete the motherhood.

In respond to this true wish, today,  for the first time, a new study shows that pregnancy can be safe even after breast cancer treatment. That is at the eight European Breast Cancer Conference that takes places in Vienna, Austria a team of scientists conducted their research and the findings point out that becoming pregnant after being diagnosed with breast cancer does not put the women at danger of having the cancer reappearing.

Dr. Hatem Azim Jr. with the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels explained that their study showed that women that had breast cancer and became pregnant seem to be enjoying a much longer life, as opposed to breast cancer patients that haven’t. “We found that breast-cancer patients who became pregnant also had a lower risk of death compared to their matched controls, irrespective of status” added the researcher.

The researcher also pointed one other finding of the study: “We found that patients who become pregnant within two years of breast-cancer diagnosis appeared to have a better disease-free survival compared to those who did not become pregnant” .

But researchers point out that the study is just the beginning so “this finding should be interpreted with caution as it could be confounded by potential selection bias, and hence pregnancy within two years of diagnosis should be regarded as safe, and not as protective”.

The study enrolled 333 women of an average age of 34 with positive or negative estrogen receptor status. These women became pregnant at any time after the breast cancer diagnosis.