Immaturity Plays Leading Role in Late Preterm Complications Interview with:

Melissa Lorenzo MD Pediatric medical resident

Dr. Lorenzo

Melissa Lorenzo MD
Pediatric medical resident
Dr. Lorenzo is currently training at the University of Toronto, however the research was conducted while a medical student at Queens University What is the background for this study?

Response: Preterm infants are born before 37 weeks gestation, with late preterm neonates defined as infants born between 34 weeks to 37 weeks gestation. Of all preterm births, over 70% of babies are born in the late preterm period. Late preterm births are common, affecting 12.5% of all births in the United States.

Compared to infants born at term, late preterm neonates are at increased risk for many common complications following birth such as jaundice, low blood sugar, and respiratory distress, prolong hospital stay, admission to the neonatal intensive care unit, and increase readmission rate after hospital discharge. There are many causes for preterm delivery- two important ones are early onset of labour either spontaneous or after premature rupture of membranes, and medically indicated delivery prior to full term gestation due to chronic diseases in mother affecting her health in pregnancy, fetal medical reasons, or placental insufficiency. There is a debate that the risk of neonatal complications is affected by the causes of preterm delivery with immaturity acting as a contributing factor. The relative contribution of immaturity versus the reason for delivery and the resulting neonatal complications is unclear.

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Forceps and Vacuum Delivery to Reduce Cesareans Could Lead To More Birth Trauma Interview with:
“Birth” by Sharon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0Giulia Muraca, PhD, MPH
Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Population and Public Health
BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute
Faculty of Medicine
University of British Columbia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: While cesarean delivery rates have increased in Canada over the last few decades, as in most industrialized settings, the rate of forceps and vacuum deliveries have declined. These opposing trends have led to recommendations to increase forceps and vacuum delivery rates as a strategy to reduce cesarean delivery rates.

We found that the rate of obstetric trauma in Canada increased significantly in recent years, especially among forceps deliveries. In first-time mothers, the rate of obstetric trauma increased by 7% among forceps deliveries (from 19.4% in 2004 to 26.5% in 2014) and in women who had a previous cesarean delivery, the rate of obstetric trauma among forceps deliveries increased by 9% (from 16.6% to 25.6%).

We found that a 1% increase in the forceps and vacuum delivery rate in Canada was associated with approximately 700 additional cases of obstetric trauma and 18 additional cases of severe birth trauma annually among first-time mothers alone.  Continue reading

TDAP Vaccine During Pregnancy Protects Infants Against Whooping Cough Interview with:

Sylvia Becker-Dreps, MD MPH Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine Associate Director, Office of International Activities (Latin America Focus) Director, UNC Program in Nicaragua University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7595

Dr. Becker-Dreps

Sylvia Becker-Dreps, MD MPH
Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine
Associate Director, Office of International Activities (Latin America Focus)
Director, UNC Program in Nicaragua
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7595 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 Response: Pertussis (or whooping cough) is a respiratory infection caused by bacteria. It has been becoming more common in the US over the past two decades. Infants are more likely to be hospitalized and die of the disease. They are especially vulnerable in the first months of life because they have not yet had time to complete the DTaP vaccine series themselves. (Currently, infants receive 3 doses of DTaP at 2,4, and 6 months of age.) Immunizing mothers allows the mothers to pass antibodies against pertussis through the placenta and provide passive immunity to infants early in life. In early 2013, the CDC recommended that pregnant women receive a Tdap vaccine in every pregnancy. That recommendation was based on studies of the immune response to the vaccine, not real cases of pertussis.

Our study examined clinical cases of pertussis in over 675,000 infants throughout the US. We found that in the first six months of life, infants of vaccinated mothers (those that received Tdap during pregnancy) had 75% less pertussis hospitalizations and 50% less pertussis cases overall.  Continue reading

Study Finds No Link Between Fluconazole During Pregnancy and Stillbirth or Neonatal Death Interview with:

Björn Pasternak,

Dr. Pasternak

Björn Pasternak, MD, PhD
Associate Professor,Clinical Epidemiology Division
Department of Medicine Solna
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm, Sweden What is the background for this study?

Response: To summarize the background for this study, there have been animal studies suggesting that oral fluconazole may give rise to fetal death. Given this background and the paucity of controlled human studies, we previously conducted a nationwide register-based study in Denmark, which was published in JAMA in 2016. In that study, we observed an increased risk of spontaneous abortion associated with fluconazole use in pregnancy. This prompted the European Medicines Agency to update the European label of fluconazole, warning about this potential adverse event. Further, findings in that study indicated that there could be an increased risk of stillbirth. We wanted to investigate this outcome further, in an independent data material, and also to investigate the outcome of neonatal death.

Here, we report the results of a bi-national study conducted on the basis of nationwide health care registers in Sweden and Norway. From a background cohort of close to 1.5 million deliveries, we identified more than 10,000 pregnancies exposed to oral fluconazole and matched these to more than 100,000 unexposed pregnancies.

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No Link Found Between Caesarean Delivery and Childhood Obesity Interview with:
Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, MPH
Lead Research Analyst
Department of Population Medicine
Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
Landmark Center
Boston, MA 02215 What is the background for this study?

Response: Caesarean delivery rates remain high and variable across hospitals, regions, and countries.
Caesarean delivery may be a risk factor for childhood obesity, possibly because delivery route can influence the intestinal microbiomes, which may influence energy regulation.

Previously reported associations of caesarean delivery with childhood obesity may be confounded by maternal BMI and sociocultural factors. To address this possibility, we studied sibling pairs from the Linked CENTURY Study, a longitudinal clinical database of well-child visits in Massachusetts linked to each child’s birth certificate, to isolate the effect of caesarean delivery from most other factors. Continue reading

Unique Vaginal Cells Facilitate HIV Infection and Persistence Interview with:

Manish Sagar, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine Boston MA 

Dr. Sagar

Manish Sagar, MD
Infectious Disease Physician at Boston Medical Center
Boston MA What is the background for this study?

Response: Women compromise the majority of new infections in the world and most of them acquire the virus after sexual exposure.  The goal of the study was to understand how HIV establishes initial infection in the female genital tract. We obtained discarded vaginal tissue and isolated cells present in the outermost layer that contact the virus during exposure.

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Children of Older Mothers More Susceptible to Heart Disease Interview with:

Sandra T. Davidge, PhD, FCAHS Executive Director, Women and Children's Health Research Institute Canada Research Chair in Maternal and Perinatal Cardiovascular Health Professor, Depts. of Ob/Gyn and Physiology University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Dr. Davidge

Sandra T. Davidge, PhD, FCAHS
Executive Director, Women and Children’s Health Research Institute
Canada Research Chair in Maternal and Perinatal Cardiovascular Health
Professor, Depts. of Ob/Gyn and Physiology
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada What is the background for this study?

Response: This research contributes to the growing body of literature that developmental programming of adult onset cardiovascular disease originates in the womb.

Our study is among the first to discover that maternal age may be considered a ‘prenatal stress’ in certain circumstances.

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Hypertension Disorders in Pregnancy Associated With Increase in ASD and ADHD in Offspring Interview with:
“Blood Pressure” by Bernard Goldbach is licensed under CC BY 2.0Ali Khashan, PhD
Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology
School of Public Health & INFANT Centre
University College Cork
Cork, Ireland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There is some evidence to suggest an increased likelihood of neurodevelopmental disorders in relation to hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, however consensus is lacking. Considering hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are among the most common prenatal complication, we decided to synthesise the published literature on this topic by conducting a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis.

Our main findings suggest that hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are associated with about 30% increase in the likelihood of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and ADHD in the offspring, compared to offspring not exposed to hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. Continue reading

ADHD More Common if Grandmother Used DES During Pregnancy Interview with:

Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou ScD Assistant Professor Environmental Health Sciences Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University 

Dr. Kioumourtzoglou

Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou ScD
Assistant Professor
Environmental Health Sciences
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University What is the background for this study?

Response: The prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders, like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been increasing. One of the hypothesized risk factors for increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders is a class of chemicals known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These chemicals are known to interfere with the endocrine system, i.e. the system that uses hormones to control and coordinate metabolism, reproduction and development. Several high production volume chemicals, ubiquitously present in commercial products, are known or suspected endocrine disruptors. Because of their widespread use in consumer products, the population-wide exposure to known and suspected EDCs is very high.

Recently, there has been increased attention in the potential effects of EDCs on neurodevelopment that span multiple generations. Animal studies have provided evidence that exposure to EDCs, such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), alter the behavior and social interactions in mice in three to five generations after exposure. However, evidence of such multi-generational impacts of EDC exposure on neurodevelopment in humans is unavailable, likely because of the lack of detailed information on exposures and outcomes across generations.

For this study we leveraged information from a nationwide cohort, the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII), to investigate the potential link between exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) and third generation ADHD, i.e. ADHD among the grandchildren of the women who used DES while pregnant. DES is a very potent endocrine disruptor that was prescribed between 1938 and 1971 to pregnant women thought to prevent pregnancy complications. In the United States, between 5 and 10 million women are estimated to have used DES, although the exact number is not known. DES was banned in 1971, when was linked to vaginal adenocarcinomas (a rare cancer of the reproductive system) in the daughters of the women who had used it during pregnancy. Since then, DES has been also linked to multiple other reproductive outcomes in DES daughters, as well as with some reproductive outcomes in the grandchildren of the women who used it, such as hypospadias and delated menstrual regularization. However, to our knowledge, no study to date has evaluated the association between DES, or any other EDC, and multigenerational neurodevelopment.

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No Link Found Between Autism and Maternal Fish Ingested During Pregnancy Interview with:
“Fish” by Dhruvaraj S is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Caroline M Taylor
Wellcome Trust Research Fellow
Centre for Child and Adolescent Health
Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol
Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol What is the background for this study?

Response: Mercury is a toxic metal that is widespread in the environment. In pregnancy, mercury in the mother’ bloodstream is transferred through the placenta to the fetus, where is can affect development of the nervous system. Mercury from vaccines has been the focus of attention particularly in regard to a link with autism in children. However, the amount of mercury used in the vaccines is small in comparison with mercury from the diet and atmospheric pollution, and in the EU at least, childhood vaccines no longer contain this preservative. The fear that mercury is linked to autism has persisted, despite increasing evidence that this is not the case.

The aim of our study was to look at mercury from the diet rather than vaccines – specifically from fish – in pregnant women. We measured the women’s mercury levels in their blood and asked them about how much fish they ate. We then followed up their children for 9 years and recorded how many of them had autism diagnosed within that time. We also measured how many of them had autist traits by measuring their social and communication difficulties.  The data were part of the Children of the 90s study (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children – ALSPAC), which is based in Bristol, UK.

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Does Acupuncture Increase Live Births For Women Undergoing IVF? Interview with:
“Acupuncture Needle” by Acid Pix is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Caroline Smith, PhD
Professor Clinical Research
Western Sydney University Research Theme Champion Health and Wellbeing What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Despite technological improvements to IVF the success of IVF treatment remains low. Consequently, new drugs, laboratory techniques and other treatments need to be developed and rigorously tested to explore their effects on producing healthy babies for women undergoing IVF.  In 2002, the first randomised controlled trial of acupuncture administered a specific form of IVF acupuncture at the time of embryo transfer.

The results indicated the chance of achieving a pregnancy from acupuncture was twice that to women undergoing IVF treatment alone. From mid 2000s many women have started to use adjunctive treatments such as acupuncture whilst undergoing IVF.  We conducted and reported on a  pilot study in 2006 which produced results suggesting a benefit. It is important that these findings were rigorously examined in a larger trial.

Findings are presented from our trial presented in JAMA. Our study of over 800 Australian and New Zealand women undergoing acupuncture treatment during their IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle has failed to confirm significant difference in live birth rates.

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Changes in Gestational Age and Perinatal Mortality in US Interview with:

Dr. Cande V. Ananth, PhD, MPH Professor of Epidemiology and Vigil G. Damon Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Columbia University Medical Center

Dr. Ananth

Dr. Cande V. Ananth, PhD, MPH
Adjunct professor
Department of Health Policy and Management
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University, NY What is the background for this study?

Response: Preterm delivery rates have declined between 2005 and 2014 in the US and in several European countries. Since reductions in preterm and early term deliveries, and perinatal mortality remain a global health priority, determining the relationship between gestational age distribution and perinatal mortality, remains a challenge. Efforts expended to a more complete understanding of the impact of new interventions, policies, and practices on reducing the burden of early deliveries, and in turn improvements in perinatal survival will be of tremendous benefit for clinical management and care of women during their pregnancy and the newborn.

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Is It Safe to Have a Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Section? Interview with:
“Childbirth” by DAVID Swift is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Dr. Carmen Young
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Alberta What is the background for this study?

Response: For women who have had a single previous cesarean section, the optimal mode of delivery in a subsequent pregnancy is controversial. This is because there are risks and benefits to attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC) or having an elective repeat cesarean section. Attempted VBAC is associated with a higher risk of uterine rupture and other maternal and infant complications. Repeat cesarean sections are associated with an increased risk of surgical complications and placental complications in subsequent pregnancies. Furthermore, it is difficult to predict which patients will have a successful VBAC.

This study is unique in that it uses recent Canadian data, allowing assessment of the impact of contemporary obstetrical care on maternal and neonatal outcomes in Canada.

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Diet Soda and Excess Sugar During Pregnancy May Depress Child’s Cognition Interview with:
“Soda” by Jannes Pockele is licensed under CC BY 2.0Juliana F. W. Cohen, ScM, ScD

Department of Health Sciences
Merrimack College
North Andover MA 01845. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Sugar consumption among Americans is above recommended limits and this excess intake may have important health implications.

This study examined the associations of pregnancy and offspring sugar consumption, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages, other beverages (diet soda, juice), and fruit consumption with child cognition.

This study found that when pregnant women or their children consumed greater quantities of sugar, as well as when women consumed diet soda during pregnancy, this was associated with poorer childhood cognition.  However, children’s fruit consumption was associated with higher cognitive scores.

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Women With PCOS Should Be Screened for Mental Health Issues Interview with:
Aled Rees, MD, PhD
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute
Cardiff University School of Medicine, Health Park
Cardiff United Kingdom What is the background for this study?  

Response: PCOS is a common condition, affecting 5-10% of women globally, in which elevated male hormone levels can cause a range of distressing and life-limiting symptoms, including reduced fertility, irregular periods, excessive facial and body hair, and acne. Previous studies have suggested a link between PCOS and poor mental health in women but the studies were small and did not adequately take other factors that can affect mental health into consideration. In addition, high levels of testosterone during pregnancy have been reported to increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD and autism, in children.

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