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.

 

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.

 

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.

Home Remedies Series – Kidney Stones

Symptoms

Severe pain in their attempt to pass down the urethera

Kidney stones usually cause severe pain in their attempt to pass down the ureter on their way to the bladder. The pain is first felt in the side and, therefter, in the groin and thighs.

Frequent desire to urinate, painful urination, scanty urination, nausea

Other symptoms, of kidney stones are a frequent desire to urinate, painful urination, scanty urination, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and chills. The patient may also pass blood with the urine.

Causes of kidney stones

Kidney Stones Symptoms, Causes, Remedy and Diet

Defects in the general metabolism

The formation of stones in the kidneys is the result of defects in the general metabolism.They usually occur when the urine becomes highly concentrated due to heavy perspiration or insufficient intake of fluids. They are aggravated by a sedentary life-style. Wrong diet, excess intake of acid-forming foods, white flour and sugar products

The other causes are, excess intake of acid-forming foods, white flour and sugar products, meat, tea,coffee, condiments and spices, rich foods, and overeating.

Lack of vitamin A, excessive intake of vitamin D

Kidney Stones treatment using Kidney Beans

Kidney beans, also known as dried French beans or Rajmah, are regarded as a very effective home remedy for kidney problems, including kidney stones. The method prescribed to prepare the medicine is to remove the beans from inside the pods, then slice the pods and put about sixty grams in four litre of hot water, boiling them slowly for six hours. This liquid should be strained through fine muslin and then allowed to cool for about eight hours. Thereafter the fluid should be poured through another piece of muslin without stirring.A glass of this decoction should be given to the patient every two hours throughout the day for one day and, thereafter, it may be taken several times a week. This decoction would not work if it was more than twenty-four hours old. The pods could be kept for longer periods but once they were boiled, the therapeutic factor would disappear after one day.

Kidney Stones treatment using Basil

Basil has a strengthening effect on the kidneys.In case of kidney stones, one teaspoon each of basil juice and honey should be taken daily for six months. It has been found that stones can be expelled from the urinary tract by this treatment.

Kidney Stones treatment using Celery

Celery is a valuable food for those who are prone to getting stones in the kidneys or gall-bladder. Its regular intake prevents future stone formation.

Kidney Stones treatment using Apple

Apples are useful in kidney stones. In countries where the natural unsweetened cider is a common beverage, cases of stones or calculus are practically absent. The ripe fresh fruit is, however, more valuable.

Kidney Stones treatment using Grapes

Grapes have an exceptional diuretic value on account of their high contents of water and potassium salt. The value of this fruit in kidney troubles is enhanced by its low albumin and sodium chloride content. It is an excellent cure for kidney stones.

Kidney Stones treatment using Pomegranate

The seeds of both sour and sweet pomegranates are useful medicine for kidney stones. A tablespoon of the seeds, ground into a fine paste, can be given along with a cup of horse gram (kulthi) soup to dissolve gravel in kidneys. Two tablespoons of horse gram should be used for preparing the cup of soup.

Kidney Stones treatment using Watermelon

Watermelon contains the highest concentration of water amongst all fruits. It is also rich in potassium salts. It is one of the safest and best diuretics which can be used with beneficial result in kidney stones.

Kidney Stones treatment using Vitamin B 6

Research has shown the remarkable therapeutic success of vitamin B6 or pyridoxine in the treatment of kidney Stones. A daily therapeutic does of 100 to 150 mg of vitamin B6, preferably, combined with other B complex vitamins, should be continued for several months for getting a permanent cure.

Diet for kidney stones

Avoid foods like alcoholic beverages; condiments and pickles; certain vegetables like cucumber, radish.

A patient with kidney stones should avoid foods, which irritate the kidneys, to control acidity or alkalinity of the urine. He should also ensure adequate intake of fluids to prevent the urine from becoming concentrated. The foods considered irritants to the kidneys are alcoholic beverages; condiments and pickles; certain vegetables like cucumber, radish, tomato, spinach, rhubarb; those with a strong aroma such as asparagus, onion, beans, cabbage, and cauliflower; meat and gravies; and carbonated waters.

Intake of calcium and phosphates should be restricted

For controlling the formation of calcium phosphate stones, the intake of calcium and phosphates should be restricted. Foods which should be avoided are wholewheat flour, Chickpea, peas, soyabean, beet, spinach, cauliflower, turnips, carrots, almonds, and coconuts. When stones are composed of calcium, magnesium phosphates, and carbonates, the diet should be so regulated as to maintain an acidic urine. On the other hand, the urine should be kept alkaline if oxalate and uric acid stones are being formed. In the latter case, fruits and vegetables should be liberally used, and acid-forming foods should be kept to the minimum necessary for satisfactory nutrition. In case of uric stones, foods with a high purine content such as sweet breads, liver, and kidney should be avoided.

Take a low-protein diet and have liberal intake of water

The patient should take a low-protein diet, restricting protein to one gram per kilogram of food. A liberal intake of fluid upto three litres or more daily is essential to prevent the precipitation of salt into the form of stones.

Other Kidney Stones treatment

Give warm enema followed by a hot bath

The patient should be given a large warm enema, followed by a hot bath with a temperature of 37.8oC, gradually increased to 44.5°C. During the bath, the head should be wrapped in a cold towel. Hot fomentation applied across the back in the region of the kidneys will relieve the pain.

Yogasanas are also helpful

Certain yogasanas such as pavanmuktasana, uttanpadasana, bhujangasana, dhanurasana, and halasana are also beneficial as they activate the kidneys.

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.

Antifungal Effects of Pumpkin Protein

BEVERLY HILLS – Pumpkin rinds contain a protein that may help fight against fungal infections, researchers report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The protein, called Pr-2, exhibited antifungal effects against 10 different species, including Candida albicans, which is a common cause of yeast infections and diaper rash. Pr-2 also inhibited the growth of several fungi that are known to infect crops. The authors suggest that Pr-2 may work by targeting the cell wall of the fungi. However, the protein did not exhibit antibacterial effects.

Pumpkin has traditionally been used to treat many other types of medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, but evidence of effectiveness has not been proven.

Although the results are promising, additional research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

Egg Yolks May Reduce Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

BOSTON (Reuters Health) – Regular egg yolk consumption may reduce the risk of dry, age-related macular degeneration by raising macular pigment concentrations, according to a report in the November issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study subjects were all older adults who were taking statins, and their low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol levels were unaffected even when they ate as many as four yolks per day.

“Two eggs per day is probably all that is needed to maximize blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin as well as macular pigment optic density (MPOD) status,” senior author Dr. Robert J. Nicolosi from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell told Reuters Health by email.

The 5-month study had 4 phases. As Dr. Nicolosi and his coauthors explain, a 4-week baseline phase was followed by a 5-week 2 yolks/day phase, then a 4-week washout phase, and finally a 5-week 4 yolks/day phase.

In the 52 participants (mean age, 69 years), serum lutein increased by an average of 16% after the 2-yolk phase and 24% after the 4-yolk phase compared to baseline, and serum zeaxanthin increased from baseline by 36% and 82% after the 2- and 4-yolk phases, respectively.

Macular pigment optic density increased significantly after both regimens (more so after the 4-yolk phase), but only among individuals with low baseline density values.

Serum HDL-cholesterol increased during both phases of the study, the researchers note, but there were no significant changes from baseline in total cholesterol, low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, or triglyceride levels.

“We are presently evaluating the effect of consuming 12 eggs/week for 1 year on the progression of dry age-related macular degeneration” in subjects with early- to mid-stage disease, the investigators write.

“Although this was only a 5-week study and the 1-year data are not ready for comment, it would seem to me that physicians could consider that those patients on statins, who have early stage age-related macular degeneration, could be prescribed 2 egg yolks per day,” Dr. Nicolosi said.

He added, “Our evidence and those of others indicate that increases in blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin and MPOD correlate well with risk for age-related macular degeneration. So the egg yolk appears to enhance the bioavailability of nutrients that have been shown to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, and at 2 egg yolks per day for individuals on statins, does not raise LDL and significantly raises HDL.”

Natural Hydrogel May Boost Spinal Cord Healing

WASHINGTON – A jab of biomaterial gel into a spinal cord injury site may significantly improve healing, according to researchers at the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Dr. Mark Preul and Dr. Alyssa Panitch have found in a study that injection of an engineered hydrogel made up mainly of hyaluronic acid (a naturally-occurring body substance) into the spinal cord injury site decreases scarring, and promotes a realignment of the spinal cord fibres around the injury site.

The hyaluronic acid, which forms a scaffold-like configuration may help to structurally stabilize the spinal cord injury site.

The researchers traced cells in the brain stem after injury, and found much higher levels in the hydrogel treated animals as compared to animals that did not receive the treatment, and approached nearly normal levels.

Treated animals had higher functional scores than their non-treated counterparts.

“Spinal cord injury is devastating to civilian and military populations – especially to the young. There has been little progress toward paradigms of regeneration and few results that show real, sustained functional recovery. We’ve been so pre-occupied with regeneration, but that is a highly complicated and difficult to define goal. This project is a synergy of neurosurgeons and bioengineers that attempts repair of the SCI lesion cavity using a tissue-engineering biomaterials approach,” says Preul.

He added that the team aimed at finding ways to structurally allow the body to better heal itself.

“In this project we did not add anything to the hyaluronic acid. It may be that adding growth factors or cells into the gel matrix may allow even better results,” he said.

Preul said that the results show “we may be on a practical path that can give hope to the many people who suffer this sort of injury.”

The work was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in San Diego where it won the Synthes Prize for Spine Research.

Complementary Therapies for Eczema

LONDON – These are very popular among patients with atopic eczema. They include aromatherapy, massage, homeopathy, and some herbal remedies, to mention but a few. It is important to remember that although patients do report benefits, a lot of information one reads in books and on the internet is anecdotal. For therapy to be convincing, it should undergo proper clinical tests, usually carried out and compared to a placebo (dummy treatment). Before undergoing any complementary/alternative therapy, check it out carefully.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York reported that treatments consisting of Erka Shizheng Herbal Tea, a bath additive, creams and acupuncture, effectively treated patients with persistent atopic eczema. Their findings were presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Another study, carried out by Scientists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, found that a traditional Chinese herbal concoction, consisting of Flos lonicerae (Japanese honeysuckle), Herba menthae (peppermint), Cortex moutan (root bark of peony tree), Atractylodes Rhizome (underground stem of the atractylodes herb) and Cortex phellodendri (Amur cork-tree bark) may help people with eczema and reduced their needs for medications.

Bleach baths

Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine reported that bleach baths offer an effective treatment for kids’ chronic eczema.

Emollients

An emollient is an agent that softens and smoothes the skin – it can be a cream, lotion or ointment. They keep the skin supple and moist. Emollients are an important part of atopic eczema treatment. The skin of people with eczema is usually dry; emollients help keep them moisturized, which helps prevent cracking and irritation.

Finding the right emollient may be a question of trial-and-error at first. The patient may have to try several different ones before hitting on a suitable one. Patients usually end up needing different types of emollients for different parts of their body.

Some emollients are specific for very dry skin, while others are aimed at less dry skin. Ointments are generally prescribed for drier skin, while creams and lotions are usually prescribed for other skin types.

It is not uncommon for patients to find that an emollient is not longer as effective as it used to be. Others may start experiencing skin irritation after long-term use. If either case happens to you or your child, you should see your GP.

    * Applying an emollient – apply smoothly to the skin, following the direction the hair grows. Do not rub it in as this may irritate the skin. Gently dry the skin after washing and apply the emollient as soon as the skin is dry. Emollients must not be shared.

    * Creams and lotions are generally used for red, inflamed areas.

    * Ointments are usually used for dry areas that are not inflamed.

    * Apply often – Frequency is the key for effective emollient use. Do not stop applying it when the skin seems to be clear. Frequent use on known affected areas will significantly reduce the number of flare-ups, as well as their severity. Patient’s whose skin is very dry should have repeat applications every two to three hours. During flare-ups frequency of use is paramount – this is when the skin needs the most moisture. Applications during a flare-up should be both frequent and generous.

      If your child has atopic eczema it is important that you liaise with his/her school. In the UK it is common for a child to have emollient supplies at home and at school.

    * Emollient instead of soap – emollient treatments should be used in place of soap. Soap irritates the skin if you have atopic eczema. In many countries it is possible to purchase emollient bath and shower additives. This measure will make a significant difference in the patient’s frequency and severity of flare-ups.

    * Side effects of emollients – some patients may develop a rash with certain ingredients in a specific emollient. That is why people commonly have to try out different ones when they first start. Some emollients contain paraffin and can be a fire hazard – store them carefully and do not use them near a naked flame. Emollients may make the surface of the bath and the floor of the shower cubicle more slippery.