Surge In Infertility Tourism Leads to Viking Babies

LONDON – In vitro fertilization (IVF) has become a popular method by which women who are having trouble getting pregnant are able to use donor sperm to achieve pregnancy. In the UK, however, there is a shortage of donor sperm that is causing British women to have to travel to countries like Denmark in order to find some.

A 2005 British law change outlawed the donating of sperm anonymously. UK law also has a long-standing rule that prohibits men who donate from receiving any sort of monetary compensation. Because of these rules, and the fact that many men fear having to provide their identities with the donation because the children may eventually try to find and meet them, few British men are donating sperm these days. As a result, the waiting list to receive IVF in the UK is several years.

In 2007, Denmark changed its laws and now permits anonymous donors, which has led to a surge in foreign women coming there to receive IVF treatment. Danish donors are also compensated between $60 and $200 for their donations which has helped to facilitate a large number of casual donors. The Danish sperm bank, Cryos, is the largest sperm bank in the world and is a popular destination for “infertility tourists” seeking to have children.

Denmark is one of the few nations that allows anonymous donations as well as monetary compensation for them. For this reason, Danish clinics are flourishing with increased business. DanFert in Copenhagen more than doubled its IVF customers since 2007. Vita Nova in Copenhagen has seen a 40 percent increase in women seeking IVF from Britain alone.

Danish clinics also cater to single women who are trying to have children, a controversial scenario rejected by many other nations who aim to serve couples trying to conceive. Such liberal laws have attracted all sorts of women from around the globe who wish to bear children but are otherwise unable.

Because of the popularity of the program, Danish banks have begun opening up franchised fertility clinics in other countries that permit it, including in the US and India. In these countries, men who are looking to make some extra cash often donate to the clinic, a practice that has all but ceased in Britain due to the laws.

Many women are hoping that UK laws will once again allow for anonymous sperm donors. They believe it will help to increase supply and end the shortage that has prevented many women from receiving IVF there.

Milk During Pregnancy May Lower a Baby’s Risk of Developing MS Later in Life

Recent media reports have covered research announced ahead of the American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) Annual Meeting in April which suggested that milk during pregnancy may lower a baby’s risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) later in life.

The theory from the researchers in Boston, announced in an AAN press release, was based on a survey of American mothers.

It was claimed that MS risk was lower among women born to mothers with high milk or dietary vitamin D intake in pregnancy.

Unfortunately UK media reports focused on the milk link ; however it is in fact the case that there are only trace elements of vitamin D in milk consumed in this country.

Unlike America, most of Britain’s milk is not fortified with vitamin D and so whatever quantity of milk is ingested, vitamin D levels in the body are likely to remain unaffected.

While it may be true that vitamin D has previously been shown to potentially play a role in MS, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet including oily fish and exposing skin to safe levels of sunshine are the best ways to increase levels of vitamin D.

No Need for Pregnant Women to Fast During Labor

No Need for Pregnant Women to Fast During Labor

DETROIT –  There is no reason why pregnant women at low risk for complications during delivery should be denied fluids and food during labor, a new Cochrane research review concludes.

“Women should be free to eat and drink in labour, or not, as they wish,” the authors of the review wrote in the Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.

Dr. Jennifer Milosavljevic, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology at Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, who was not involved in the Cochrane Review, agrees that pregnant women should be allowed to eat and/or drink during labor.

“In my experience,” she told Reuters Health in an email, “most pregnant patients at Henry Ford are placed on a clear liquid diet during labor which includes water, apple juice, cranberry juice, broth, and jello. If a patient is brought in for a prolonged induction of labor, she will typically be permitted to eat a regular diet and order anything off the menu in between different induction modalities.”

Milosavlievic has “not seen any adverse outcomes by allowing women the option of liquids and/or a regular diet in labor.”

Standard hospital policy for many decades has been to allow only tiny sips of water or ice chips for pregnant women in labor if they were thirsty. Why? It was feared, and some studies in the 1940s showed, that if a woman needed to undergo general anesthesia for a cesarean delivery, she might inhale regurgitated liquids or food particles that could lead to pneumonia and other lung damage.

But anesthesia practices have changed and improved since the 1940s, with more use of regional anesthesia and safer general anesthesia.

And recently, attitudes on food and drink during labor have begun to relax. Last September, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a “Committee Opinion” advising doctors that women with a normal, uncomplicated labor may drink modest amounts of clear liquids such as water, fruit juice without pulp, carbonated beverages, clear tea, black coffee, and sports drinks. They fell short of saying food was okay, however, advising that women should avoid fluids with solid particles, such as soup.

“As for the continued restriction on food, the reality is that eating is the last thing most women are going to want to do since nausea and vomiting during labor is quite common,” Dr. William H. Barth, Jr., chair of ACOGs Committee on Obstetric Practice, noted in a written statement at the time.

But based on the evidence, Mandisa Singata of the East London Hospital Complex in East London, South Africa, an author on the new Cochrane Review, says “women should be able to make their own decisions about whether they want to eat or drink during labour, or not.”

Singata and colleagues systematically reviewed five studies involving more than 3100 pregnant that looked at the evidence for restricting food and drink in women who were considered unlikely to need anesthesia. One study looked at complete restriction versus giving women the freedom to eat and drink at will; two studies looked at water only versus giving women specific fluids and foods and two studies looked at water only versus giving women carbohydrate drinks.

The evidence showed no benefits or harms of restricting foods and fluids during labor in women at low risk of needing anesthesia.

Singata and colleagues acknowledge that many women may not feel like eating or drinking during labor. However, research has shown that some women find the food and drink restriction unpleasant. Poor nutritional balance may be also associated with longer and more painful labors. Drinking clear liquids in limited quantities has been found to bring comfort to women in labor and does not increase labor complications.

The researchers emphasize that they did not find any studies that assessed the risks of eating and drinking for women with a higher risk of needing anesthesia and so further research is need before specific recommendations can be made for this group.

SOURCE: Cochrane Library, 2010.

 

New Series of Posts Presenting Phobias

In addition to our “Introducing” and “Home-Remedies”  series of posts, we now launch a new series called “Presenting – Phobia” series.     Each post will present another Phobia and discuss, manifestations, how-to-deal with people who have these phobias by explaining the Phobia itself, provide some suggested alternative herbs, supplements or nutritional support proven effective and other remedies with sources for more information.

We all have a Phobia or two lingering inside or for some, showing itself by dictating our behavior patterns.  Many Phobias are viewed as eccentricities or oddities of a personality, and many indeed are.  However some Phobias do prevent you from learning to your maximum ability, engaging in a meaningful relationship, or even going out for a cup of coffee with friends.  You may recognize some of your own traits, latent and apparent, in these many Phobias.

Knowing you have a Phobia does not mean you have to seek a cure.  Of course that depends on the Phobia itself.  For example one can live with Apiphobia through life, and as long as you are not around bees, you will never suffer a moment of any major consequence being Apiphobic.  On the other hand, if you are Bathmophobic (Fear of stairs or steep slopes) and live in San Franscisco, you need immediate help.

We hope you enjoy the series and that it will help you better understand the people around you and perhaps yourself. 

Medical Team – Blog Staff

US Tele-Medicine

 

New Series of Posts Presenting Phobias

In addition to our “Introducing” and “Home-Remedies”  series of posts, we now launch a new series called “Presenting – Phobia” series.     Each post will present another Phobia and discuss, manifestations, how-to-deal with people who have these phobias by explaining the Phobia itself, provide some suggested alternative herbs, supplements or nutritional support proven effective and other remedies with sources for more information.

We all have a Phobia or two lingering inside or for some, showing itself by dictating our behavior patterns.  Many Phobias are viewed as eccentricities or oddities of a personality, and many indeed are.  However some Phobias do prevent you from learning to your maximum ability, engaging in a meaningful relationship, or even going out for a cup of coffee with friends.  You may recognize some of your own traits, latent and apparent, in these many Phobias.

Knowing you have a Phobia does not mean you have to seek a cure.  Of course that depends on the Phobia itself.  For example one can live with Apiphobia through life, and as long as you are not around bees, you will never suffer a moment of any major consequence being Apiphobic.  On the other hand, if you are Bathmophobic (Fear of stairs or steep slopes) and live in San Franscisco, you need immediate help.

We hope you enjoy the series and that it will help you better understand the people around you and perhaps yourself. 

Medical Team – Blog Staff

US Tele-Medicine

 

Cola Drinking Linked to Diabetes in Pregnancy

NEW ORLEANS – Drinking lots of sugar-sweetened cola may increase women’s likelihood of developing diabetes during pregnancy, a condition known as gestational diabetes, new research shows.

Compared to women who had less than one such beverage a month, women who drank at least five servings of non-diet cola a week were at greater risk of gestational diabetes, even after accounting for their body mass index (BMI), level of physical activity, and other diabetes risk factors, researchers found.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are the top source of added sugar in US diets, and several studies have linked high sugary drink intake with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in women, Dr. Liwei Chen of the Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans and colleagues note in the latest edition of the journal Diabetes Care.

But there is little information on whether consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages before pregnancy might increase gestational diabetes risk, they add.

To investigate, the researchers analyzed data from the Nurses Health Study II, looking at 13, 475 women who had at least one pregnancy between 1992 and 2001. During that time, 860 women reported having been diagnosed with gestational diabetes for the first time.

Women who drank five or more sugar-sweetened beverages of any type per week were 23 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes than those who drank less than one serving a month, and the relationship remained even after the researchers accounted for other gestational diabetes risk factors such as BMI and family history of diabetes.

But accounting for a Western-style diet — heavy in red meats, processed meats, sweets, snacks and other less-healthy foods — did explain some of the association between diabetes and sugary drinks.

The researchers looked separately at cola beverages, because the caramel coloring used in them has been linked in animal studies to insulin resistance and inflammation. They found a 22 percent increased risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy for women who drank five or more non-diet colas a week, compared to women who had less than one serving of cola a month.

There was no relationship between diet beverage consumption and gestational diabetes risk.

The demands pregnancy puts on a woman’s metabolism may “unmask” a tendency toward developing diabetes and similar conditions, Chen and colleagues note. Drinking cola could contribute to this tendency by making for a sugar-filled diet, they add, which in and of itself may be harmful to the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.

Because diet cola didn’t increase gestational diabetes risk, they add, caramel coloring isn’t likely to be a major factor in the relationship observed with non-diet cola.

The findings “are particularly relevant” given that so many people drink sugar-sweetened cola, the researchers write. They call for more research on sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and gestational diabetes, as well as other pregnancy outcomes.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, December 2009.

 

Introducing – CoQ10

Other Names: Coenzyme Q10, Co Q10, Ubiquinone, Vitamin Q

CoQ10 is a naturally-occuring compound found in every cell in the body. CoQ10’s alternate name, ubiquinone, comes from the word ubiquitous, which means “found everywhere.”

CoQ10 plays a key role in producing energy in the mitochondria, the part of a cell responsible for the production of energy in the form of ATP.

Why People Use CoQ10

  • Heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Heart Attack Prevention and Recovery
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Gum Disease
  • Kidney Failure
  • Migraine
  • Counteract Prescription Drug Effects
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Weight loss

What is the Evidence For CoQ10?

  • Heart failure
    People with heart failure have been found to have lower levels of CoQ10 in heart muscle cells. Double-blind research suggests that CoQ10 may reduce symptoms related to heart failure, such as shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping, and swelling. CoQ10 is thought to increase energy production in the heart muscle, increasing the strength of the pumping action. Recent human studies, however, haven’t supported this.

In one study, 641 people with congestive heart failure were randomized to receive either CoQ10 (2 mg per kg body weight) or a placebo plus standard treatment. People who took the CoQ10 had a significant reduction in symptom severity and fewer hospitalizations.

In another study, 32 patients with end-stage heart failure awaiting heart transplantation received either 60 mg of CoQ10 or a placebo for 3 months. Patients who took the CoQ10 experienced a significant improvement in functional status, clinical symptoms, and quality of life, however there were no changes in echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) or in objective markers.

A study randomized 55 patients with congestive heart failure to receive either 200 mg per day of CoQ10 or a placebo in addition to standard treatment. Although serum levels of CoQ10 increased in patients receiving CoQ10, CoQ10 didn’t affect ejection fraction, peak oxygen consumption, or exercise duration.

A longer-term study investigated the use of 100 mg of CoQ10 or a placebo in addition to standard treatment in 79 patients with stable chronic congestive heart failure. The results indicated that CoQ10 only slightly improved maximal exercise capacity and quality of life compared with the placebo.

  • Cardiomyopathy

Several small trials have found CoQ10 may be helpful for certain types of cardiomyopathy.

  • Parkinson’s disease

Lower levels of CoQ10 have also been observed in people with Parkinson’s disease. Preliminary research has found that increasing CoQ10 may increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is thought to be lowered in people with Parkinson’s disease. It has also been suggested that CoQ10 might protect brain cells from damage by free radicals.

A small, randomized controlled trial examined the use of 360 mg CoQ10 or a placebo in 28 treated and stable Parkinson’s disease patients. After 4 weeks, CoQ10 provided a mild but significant significant mild improvement in early Parkinson‘s symptoms and significantly improved performance in visual function.

A larger 16 month trial funded by the National Institutes of Health explored the use of CoQ10 (300, 600 or 1200 mg/day) or a placebo in 80 patients with early stage Parkinson’s disease. The results suggested that CoQ10, especially at the 1200 mg per day dose, had a significant reduction in disability compared to those who took a placebo.

  • CoQ10 and Statin Drugs

Some research suggests that statin drugs, or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol, may interfere with the body’s production of CoQ10. However, research on the use of CoQ10 supplements in people taking statins is still inconclusive, and it is not routinely recommended in combination with statin therapy.

  • Diabetes
    In a 12-week randomized controlled trial, 74 people with type 2 diabetes were randomized to receive either 100 mg CoQ10 twice daily, 200 mg per day of fenofibrate (a lipid regulating drug), both or neither for 12 weeks. CoQ10 supplementation significantly improved blood pressure and glycemic control. However, two studies found that CoQ10 supplementation failed to find any effect on glycemic control.
  • Gum disease
    A small study looked at the topical application of CoQ10 to the periodontal pocket. Ten male periodontitis patients with 30 periodontal pockets were selected. During the first 3 weeks, the patients applied topical CoQ10. There was significant improvement in symptoms.

Dosage

A typical CoQ10 dosage is 30 to 90 mg per day, taken in divided doses, but the recommended amount can be as high as 200 mg per day.

CoQ10 is fat-soluble, so it is better absorbed when taken with a meal that contains oil or fat.

The clinical effect is not immediate and may take up to eight weeks.

Safety

Consult your doctor before trying CoQ10, especially if you have heart disease, kidney failure, or cancer.

Side effects of CoQ10 may include diarrhea and rash.

CoQ10 is used in combination with standard treatment, not to replace it.

CoQ10 may lower blood sugar levels, so people with diabetes should not use CoQ10 unless under a doctor’s supervision. CoQ10 may also lower blood pressure.

The safety of Co q10 in pregnant or nursing women or children has not been established.

PLEASE SEE THE POST ON “POLICOSANOL” FOR LOWERING CHOLESTEROL

 

Brain Prods You Into Gorging on Good Food

AUSTIN – The brain prods you into splurging on an extra ice-cream scoop or that second burger, practically sabotaging your efforts to get back into shape, a new study says.

Findings from a new University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre (UTSMC) study suggest that fat from certain foods we eat makes its way to the brain.

There, these fat molecules cause the brain to send messages to the body’s cells, directing them to ignore the appetite-suppressing signals from leptin and insulin, hormones involved in weight regulation.

Researchers also found that one particular type of fat — palmitic acid — is particularly effective at instigating this mechanism. It is a common saturated fatty acid, occurring in butter, cheese, milk and beef.

“Normally, our body is primed to say when we’ve had enough, but that doesn’t always happen when we’re eating something good,” said Deborah Clegg, assistant professor of internal medicine at UTSMC. Clegg led the study on rodents.

“What we’ve shown in this study is that someone’s entire brain chemistry can change in a very short period of time.”

“When you eat something high in fat, your brain gets ‘hit’ with the fatty acids, and you become resistant to insulin and leptin,” Clegg said. “Since you’re not being told by the brain to stop eating, you overeat.”

In animals, the effect lasts about three days, potentially explaining why many people who splurge on Friday or Saturday say they’re hungrier than normal on Monday, added Clegg.

Clegg said that even though the findings are in animals, they reinforce the common dietary recommendation that individuals limit their saturated fat intake. “It causes you to eat more,” she said, according to an UTSMC release.

The next step, Clegg averred, is to determine how long it takes to reverse completely the effects of short-term exposure to high-fat food.

The study appeared in the September issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Depression Leads to Protein Linked to Heart Disease

BLOOMINGTON – Depression leads to elevated inflammatory proteins in the human body, according to researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Led by Dr. Jesse Stewart, researchers found that depressive symptoms are associated with increases over time in interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein that predicts cardiovascular events.

On the other hand, levels of interleukin-6 were not linked to subsequent increases in depressive symptoms.

The new study is the first to examine both directions of the depression-inflammation connection and to measure the physical symptoms of depression, such as fatigue and sleep disturbance, in addition to the cognitive-emotional symptoms, such as pessimism and sadness.

While many previous studies have linked depression to increased inflammatory protein levels measured at the same time, but they couldn’t speak to which is the cause and which is the effect.

“There is two-way communication between the brain and the immune system, so we had to determine whether activation of the body’s immune system sent a signal to the brain to affect mood and behavior or whether the depression activated the immune system,” said Dr. Stewart.

The participants in the study consisted of 263 healthy men and women aged 50-70 years at the start of the study.

They were tested at baseline and again six years later to determine their levels of depressive symptoms and interleukin-6.

Levels of C-reactive protein, another inflammatory protein, were also measured but were not related to depression.

Stewart said that the strength of the association of depression with future heart disease is similar to that of traditional risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.

“Promotion of inflammation may be one pathway through which depression may ‘get under the skin’ to negatively influence cardiovascular health. The link to cardiovascular disease demonstrates that there may be physical as well as mental health reasons to treat depression,” said Stewart.

The study has been published in the latest issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Swine Flu Prompts Calls for Kissing Strike in Spain

MADRID – H1N1 influenza is prompting tough health measures around the globe, but could it go as far as forcing a “kissing strike” in traditionally affectionate Spain?

The health authorities are recommending that Spaniards no longer greet each other with the usual kiss on both cheeks. But many people say kissing is so important they are willing to risk catching the disease, popularly known as swine flu.

“What would people think if I refused to return their kisses?” exclaims Maria, 40. “I am so used to it, I could not stop doing it.”

Even Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez herself has been seen greeting officials with kisses, despite the warnings issued by her ministry.

As in some other Mediterranean countries, Spanish women and even male relatives or friends greet each other with kisses or at least with gestures of kissing on the cheeks.

Spanish people generally like touching each other, for instance placing their hand around the shoulder or their hand on the hand of the person they are talking to.

However, kisses and hugs are among the most effective ways of spreading H1N1, experts warn in the country where swine flu has killed around 20 people, one of the highest rates in Europe.

The health ministry is planning to vaccinate people with chronic diseases, health and some other professionals, pregnant women and other vulnerable groups. There will be sufficient vaccines for up to 60 percent of the population.

Above all, however, the authorities intend to focus on information campaigns advising people to avoid habits that could spread the virus.

“Do not kiss, do not shake hands, just say hi,” the Madrid city council recommended in a placard it placed on a wall of the city hall.

“Getting used to limiting close contact diminishes the risk of transmission (of the virus),” Juan Jose Rodriguez Sendin, president of a doctors’ organisation, told the daily El Pais.

The Catholic Church has heeded the warning, recommending to believers that they refrain from kissing statues of the Virgin Mary during religious celebrations.

During religious services where Catholics eat a small wafer of bread, some priests have also begun placing the wafer in the hand of the communicant. Traditionally, priests placed it directly in the mouth of the person.

Some churches have emptied fonts of holy water to prevent the virus from spreading if an infected person dips a hand in the font.

Prior to the appearance of swine flu, the custom of kissing the cheeks had become a little less common. Some sociologists say that was possibly because of the influence of the colder and physically more distant US culture.

Kissing has often not been replaced with the handshake typical of US or northern European cultures, observed Irene, a Madrid civil servant.

“Some people no longer touch each other at all when meeting, just nodding at each other,” she said.

That would be ideal for fighting H1N1, but experts doubt whether most Spaniards can change their ways, and concede that they would have a lot to lose if they did.

There is an abundance of scientific studies proving what nearly every human being instinctively knows: that touching is good for us.

It increases self-confidence, lowers arterial pressure, makes people more sociable and less aggressive, studies show.

“It is very unlikely that we will forget kissing,” El Pais concluded.

Statin Use Reduces Heart Attacks, Deaths After Surgery on Blood Vessels

ROTTERDAM – Score another victory for the cheap, cholesterol-lowering wonder drugs known as statins. People getting an artery unclogged or repaired were much less likely to die or have a heart attack afterward if they took preventive doses of the pills before and after their operations, a Dutch study showed.

Patients given Lescol had half the risk of having a heart attack or dying of a heart problem in the following month compared to those given dummy pills, the study found.

“You get a bonus with the treatment of statins,” said Dr. Don Poldermans, who led the study at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The results are in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Statins are widely prescribed to reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Doctors wanted to see if statins could also protect against heart problems that are a common complication of blood vessel surgery — operations like repairing a bulging abdominal artery or unclogging arteries in the neck.

The stress of surgery on arteries can destabilize plaque buildup, causing it to rupture and blood clots to form, particularly in heart arteries. Statins are thought to help by reducing inflammation and stabilizing the plaque.

The researchers enrolled nearly 500 patients who were not on statins and were going to have operations on their aorta or leg or neck arteries. For about a month before and a month after their surgery, half the patients took a statin; the rest got a dummy pill.

Within a month of the operation, 12 patients in the statin group, about 5 percent, had died or had heart attacks, compared to 25 patients, or 10 percent, of those who took a dummy pill. Other signs of heart damage also were less common among those who had taken statins. There was no difference in side effects between the two groups.

When the study began in 2004, Poldermans said, statins were not as widely recommended as they are today for people with peripheral artery disease — stiff and narrow arteries, often in the legs. The patients in the study probably weren’t on statins before their surgery because their cholesterol levels were normal or near normal, he said.

“There’s no reason whatsoever to withhold statins anymore” from these patients,” Poldermans said.

Current guidelines recommend the drugs for everyone with peripheral artery disease, regardless of the need for surgery.

The Dutch study was partially funded by Swiss drug maker Novartis, which makes and supplied Lescol, also known as fluvastatin. Poldermans has received grants and consulting fees from Novartis; two other researchers have received fees and grants from medical companies.

Other statins on the market would likely achieve a comparable effect, said Dr. Alan T. Hirsch, director of the vascular medicine program at the Minneapolis Heart Institute and a spokesman for the American Heart Association. He said statins aren’t being used enough in people with peripheral artery disease, and he hopes the study draws attention to their benefits at the time of surgery, as well as throughout the lifetime of the patient.

“A statin is a seat belt when you drive a damaged artery,” he said.

US TELEMEDICINE RECOMMENDS “POLICOSANOL” AS A NATURAL STATIN.

SEE THIS BLOG FOR POSTING ON “POLICOSANOL”.