Cheap Cigarettes in Europe Associated With Increased Infant Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Filippos Filippidis MD MPH PhD Lecturer in Public Health School of Public Health Imperial College London London

Dr. Filippidis

Filippos Filippidis MD MPH PhD
Lecturer in Public Health
School of Public Health
Imperial College London
London

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Smoking kills millions of people every year. It is well established that increasing tobacco prices is the most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption and hence mitigate the devastating effects of tobacco on health. Taxation on tobacco products is high in the European Union, which makes cigarettes less affordable. However, transnational tobacco companies are known to manipulate prices, ensuring that cheap or ‘budget’ cigarettes are still available. This is particularly important for younger smokers and those of low socioeconomic status who are more sensitive in price increases.

Smoking during pregnancy, as well as exposure of pregnant women and babies to cigarette smoke increase infant mortality. There is also evidence that increasing tobacco prices is associated with lower infant mortality. However, researchers typically use average or premium cigarette prices. We analysed 54 million births from 23 European Union countries to see if the differential between average priced and budget cigarettes (i.e. the availability of cigarettes much cheaper than average priced ones) is associated with infant mortality.

We found that increasing average cigarette prices by 1 Euro per pack was associated with 0.23 fewer deaths per 1,000 live births in the same year and an additional 0.16 fewer deaths per 1,000 live births in the following year. A 10% increase in the price differential between budget and average priced cigarettes was associated with 0.07 more deaths per 1,000 live births the following year. This means that 3,195 infant deaths could potentially have been avoided in these 23 countries if there was no price difference between cigarette products over the 10-year study period.

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Longer Breastfeeding Linked To Lower Risk of Endometriosis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Leslie V. Farland, ScD Assistant Director of Epidemiologic Research Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery Brigham and Women's Hospital | Harvard Medical School  Instructor | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Farland

Leslie V. Farland, ScD
Assistant Director of Epidemiologic Research
Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery
Brigham and Women’s Hospital | Harvard Medical School
Instructor | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Endometriosis is chronic gynecologic condition that affects approximately ten percent of women. Women with endometriosis can experience painful menstrual periods, general chronic pelvic pain, and pain associated with intercourse. Currently we know very few modifiable risk factors for endometriosis.

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Folic Acid May Reduce Risk of Autism Associated With Pesticide Exposure During Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D.  Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences UC Davis California

Dr. Schmidt

Rebecca J. Schmidt, M.S., Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor, Public Health Sciences
UC Davis California

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Maternal folic acid taken near conception has been linked to reduced risk for autism in the child in previous studies.

Separate studies show that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for autism.

Animal studies demonstrate that folic acid and other B-vitamins can attenuate effects of certain environmental contaminants, including pesticides.

This case-control study examined combined maternal folic acid and pesticide exposures in relation to autism in the child.

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Study Evaluates Pediatric Outcomes of Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Xiaoqin Liu, PhD Department of Economics and Business Economics Aarhus University

Dr. Xiaoqin Liu

Xiaoqin Liu, PhD
Department of Economics and Business Economics
Aarhus University 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Previous research on the long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes of serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) use during pregnancy has primarily focused on offspring risk of autism spectrum disorder. Given SSRIs cross the placental barrier and affect the fetal brain, in-utero SSRI exposure may increase risks of other psychiatric disorders as well as autism spectrum disorder.

We conducted a population-based study to look at a range of diagnostic groups of psychiatric disorders in children whose mothers used antidepressants during pregnancy. This was possible because of the nature of information available in Danish population registers, allowing us to follow children for many years. We found increased risks of various diagnostic groups of psychiatric disorders in children whose mothers continued antidepressant treatment during pregnancy, in comparison to children whose mothers stopped antidepressant treatment before pregnancy.

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Adverse Birth Outcomes and Agricultural Pesticide Use in the San Joaquin Valley of California

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ashley Larsen, PhD Assistant professor Bren School of Environmental Science & Management University of California, Santa Barbara

Dr. Larsen

Ashley Larsen, PhD
Assistant professor
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
University of California, Santa Barbara

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The relationship between pesticides and adverse birth outcomes has been recognized as an important question for quite some time, and there have been many good studies on the topic. Since randomly exposing people to different levels of pesticides is clearly unethical, researchers focused on the health consequences of non-occupational pesticide exposure often have to choose between detailed studies that follow a couple hundred or couple thousand individuals through pregnancy or larger scale studies that use easier to observe, but less accurate metrics of pesticide exposure (e.g. nearby crops or crop types). Here we tried to provide complementary insight by bridging the gap between detail and scale using detailed pesticide use data and individual birth certificate records for hundreds of thousands of births in an agriculturally dominated region of California. While we found negative effects of pesticide use on birth outcomes including low birth weight, preterm birth and birth abnormalities, these effects were generally in the magnitude of a 5-9% increase in probability of an adverse outcome, and only observed for individuals exposed to very high levels of pesticides.

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Maternal Cell Phone Use Did Not Adversely Affect Children’s Language or Motor Skills At Age 5

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jan Alexander, MD,PhD Norwegian Institute of Public Health Oslo Norway

Dr. Alexander

Jan Alexander, MD,PhD
Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Oslo Norway 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The background for this study was the widespread uncertainty and general concern among the public about increasing exposure to weak radio frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF-RF). The concern on whether using your cell phone while pregnant can harm your foetus are mainly due to the extensive use of cell phones, that emit EMF-RF. Even though the RF-EMF exposure that may reach the foetus is very low, evidence from previous epidemiological studies with mothers and children are inconsistent as to whether EMF-RF emission from cell phone might harm the developing brain of the foetus. This includes also animal experiments where the exposure may be very different from that in humans.

We therefore studied the association between maternal cell phone use during pregnancy and child’s neurodevelopment at 3 and 5 years. We included around 45,000 mother and their children from all over Norway from the Norwegian Mother and Child Study (MoBa study) and used language development as the outcome because we in previous studies found this parameter to be sensitive to exposure to neurotoxicants. T

here was no evidence of a harmful effect of the mother using her cell phone during pregnancy on her child’s neurodevelopment at 3 and 5 years. Surprisingly, we even found that the more the mother was using her cell phone during pregnancy the better language and motor skills her child had at 3 years of age. We observed no associations when the child was 5 years old.

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Weight Gain Early In Pregnancy Linked To Higher Birthweight Babies

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Leanne M. Redman MS, PhD LPFA Endowed Fellowship Associate Professor Pennington Biomedical Research Center Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Dr. Redman

Leanne M. Redman MS, PhD
LPFA Endowed Fellowship
Associate Professor
Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Two well-documented risk factors for aberrant weight gain and obesity is whether your mother was obese when she was pregnant and the amount of weight she gained.

Up until now few studies have asked questions about whether the pattern of weight gain in pregnancy affect outcomes in offspring, such as birth weight.

In a cohort of over 16,000 pregnant women and infants, we found that regardless of the obesity status (BMI) of the mother at the time of pregnancy, weight gain that occurs up until week 24, had the strongest effect on infant birth weight. Infants born to mothers who had weight gain in excess of the 2009 IOM guidelines from conception until week 24, had a 2.5 times higher likelihood of being born large for gestational age. The weight gain that occurred after 24 weeks until delivery, did not attenuate this risk.

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How Much Does Mother’s BMI Influence Children’s Metabolic Health?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Deborah A Lawlor MSc(Lond), MBChB, PhD(Bristol), MPH(Leeds), MRCGP, MFPHM Professor of Epidemiology MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol

Prof. Lawlor

Prof. Deborah A Lawlor
MSc(Lond), MBChB, PhD(Bristol), MPH(Leeds), MRCGP, MFPHM
Professor of Epidemiology
MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol
NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre
Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School
Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As the obesity epidemic has occurred there has been increasing concern about pregnant women being more adipose (having higher levels of fat) during their pregnancy. One particular concern is that women who are on average fatter will have more extreme changes in pregnancy on their lipid, fatty acid, amino acid and glucose levels. In normal ‘healthy’ pregnancy these metabolites increase during pregnancy as part of the physiological response to pregnancy which ensures that the developing fetus has sufficient fuel (nutrients – fats, proteins, sugars) for healthy growth and development. Women who are more adipose tend to have a more extreme change in these fuels and as a consequence the developing fetus is ‘overfed’. There is a linear relationship between a pregnant woman’s body mass index and her infants birth weight, such that each increment greater adiposity (body mass index) of the mother there is on average and increment greater infant birth weight.

Recently, using a method that uses genetic variants (Mendelian randomization) we have shown that this association is likely to be causal (JAMA 2016). But whether there is a lasting effect on offspring health of being overfed in the uterus is unknown. There are concerns that there will be a lasting effect and that for daughters of more adipose women, this would mean that they go into their pregnancies on average fatter and with higher levels of the metabolites that could then overfeed their developing fetus. If this were the case it would mean the obesity epidemic could be accelerated across generations.

There are associations of mothers body mass index with later offspring body mass index, BUT this might not be anything to do with developmental overfeeding of the feeding in the uterus – it could simply reflect shared lifestyles that offspring adopt from their mother (and father) or shared genetic effects. In this study we tried to separate out whether there was evidence for a long-term offspring effect on their lipids, fatty acids, amino acids, glucose, and an inflammatory marker, of having a mother who was on average fatter during her pregnancy that was due to overfeeding in the uterus, as opposed to shared family lifestyle and genetics. We did this by comparing associations of mothers pre-pregnancy BMI with offspring outcomes to the same associations of fathers pre-pregnancy BMI with the same outcomes.

Our assumption here was that fathers BMI could not directly result in overfeeding of the fetus and so if the associations were similar this would suggest that they were largely driven by family factors.

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Cadmium in Shellfish and Smoking Linked to Endometrial Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jane McElroy, Ph.D. Associate professor Department of Family and Community Medicine MU School of Medicine

Dr. McElroy

Jane McElroy, Ph.D.
Associate professor
Department of Family and Community Medicine
MU School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: More than 31,000 new cases of endometrial cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2017. Through a five-year observational study, we found that women with increased levels of cadmium had an increased risk of endometrial cancer. Cadmium is a metal commonly found in foods such as kidneys, liver and shellfish as well as tobacco It’s a finding we hope could lead to new treatments or interventions to prevent the fourth most common cancer in women.

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Stress of 911 Linked To Decrease In Male Babies Born With Birth Defects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Parvati Singh B. Tech, MBA, MPA
PhD student, Department of Public Health,
University of California, Irvine and
Dr. Tim Bruckner, first author

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study builds upon earlier research by our group which showed that male fetal deaths rose and the number of liveborn males fell after the 9/11 attacks. Here we show that, in California, the number of live born males with birth defects fell after 9/11.

This finding appears consistent with the notion that frail male gestations, such as those with defects, may have been lost in utero as a result of the stress induced by the 9/11 attacks.

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