Should Teenagers Be Able To Get Oral Contraceptives Over The Counter?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Krishna K. Upadhya, M.D., M.P.H. Division of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine Department of Pediatrics Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21287

Dr. Upadhya

Krishna K. Upadhya, M.D., M.P.H.
Division of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD 21287

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

Response: Our study reviewed medical literature to examine the question of whether minor teens should be treated differently from older women with regard to a future over the counter oral contraceptive product.  Our analysis found that oral contraceptive pills are safe and effective for teens and there is no scientific rationale to restrict access to a future oral contraceptive pill based on age.

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Human Placenta May Be Most Vulnerable To Zika In First Trimester

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

R. Michael Roberts

Dr. R. Michael Roberts

R. Michael Roberts PhD
Curators’ Distinguished Professor
240b Bond Life Sciences Center
Columbia, Missouri 65211-7310

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

Response: My background in placental biology and in communication between the embryo and the mother in early pregnancy made me curious about how the zika virus (ZIKV) crossed the placenta in early pregnancy to cause microcephaly. My group had been working on a laboratory model for placental trophoblast for over 10 years. We generate trophoblast from human pluripotent cells (embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells) by exposing them to the growth factor BMP4 and two pharmaceuticals that inhibit the signaling pathways necessary to maintain pluripotency. I was curious to determine whether or not ZIKV could infect these cells, replicate, and release infectious virus, because work from my collaborator Yoel Sadovsky at the University of Pittsburgh indicated that the mature placenta was likely to be resistant to infection.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: There are, I believe two striking outcomes from this work.

One is that the results indicate that the human placenta is likely most vulnerable to infection by Zika during the first trimester. We also suggest that women whose fetus is affected from an infection occurring later in pregnancy likely had a past dengue infection. The second striking result is that the African strain of Zika may have greater virulence towards early placenta than the Asian strains, such as the ones that have spread in the New World.

The work with the virus only began when we realized that term trophoblasts lacked expression of the genes that encode the protein factors that promote flavivirus infection (ZIKV is a flavivirus, like dengue, West Nile virus), e.g. TYRO3, AXL, MERTK, and also had a poised innate immune system that would counteract virus replication. Conversely, the trophoblasts we create from embryonic stem cells had the factors that would promote virus uptake, but seemed ill-prepared to counteract virus replication once infection occurred. In other words, the early placental trophoblasts were potentially more susceptible to infection. We confirmed this hypothesis with two strains of ZIKV (an Asian strain related to the one encountered in Brazil, and an African strain often considered to be relatively benign). What was unexpected was the African strain appeared to be more virulent than the Asian strain.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Whether the early placenta could be protected by some sort of immune therapy or by prior vaccination of the mother is clearly uncertain at present. Vaccination programs have not been altogether successful when used to protect against Dengue, which is a virus related to ZIKV.

There is evidence that the early placenta is also permissive to other viruses, such as Rubella. Also there is a very interesting paper in the Journal of the American medical Association by Honein et al. that was published on December 15, 2016. In this study, the overall risk for microcephaly and other brain abnormalities in infants born to a large cohort of U.S. women exposed to ZIKV while traveling (n = 442) was 5.9 % (18), and, of these, there were no cases noted among the women known to have been infected during their second or third trimesters. In Brazil, women appear to be at risk for fetal infections by ZIKV throughout their pregnancies but this may be because they had experienced an earlier infection by Dengue. I have discussed this puzzle in the paper.

I have no disclosures to make, nor conflicts of interest regarding the research or this response to your queries.

Citation:

PNAS Plus – Biological Sciences – Applied Biological Sciences:
Megan A. Sheridan, Dinar Yunusov, Velmurugan Balaraman, Andrei P. Alexenko, Shinichiro Yabe, Sergio Verjovski-Almeida, Danny J. Schust, Alexander W. Franz, Yoel Sadovsky, Toshihiko Ezashi, and R. Michael Roberts
Vulnerability of primitive human placental trophoblast to Zika virus PNAS 2017 114 (9) E1587-E1596; published ahead of print February 13, 2017, doi:10.1073/pnas.1616097114

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Maternal Cancer During Pregnancy Linked To Stillbirths and Infant Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Donghao Lu. PhD student Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Karolinska Institute

Dr. Donghao Lu

Donghao Lu PhD student
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Karolinska Institute

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

Response: Cancer during pregnancy is a rare event. Whether prenatal exposure to a maternal malignancy and its treatment during pregnancy impair fetal development and neonatal health is, however, of great clinical concern. The risks of fatal outcomes such as stillbirth and infant mortality, however, have rarely been successfully explored in pregnancies complicated with cancer, in either clinical or population-based studies.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Maternal cancer diagnosed during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of stillbirth (Incidence Rate Ratio, IRR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.2 to 5.0), mainly stillbirths assessed as small for gestational age (SGA), and with increased risk of preterm SGA births (relative risk 3.0; 95% CI, 2.1 to 4.4). Maternal cancer diagnosed during pregnancy or the year after pregnancy were associated with increased risks of both neonatal mortality (deaths within 0 to 27 days; IRR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.3 to 5.6 and IRR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.2 to 3.2, respectively) and preterm birth (IRR, 5.8; 95% CI, 5.3 to 6.5 and IRR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.4 to 1.8, respectively). The positive association with preterm birth was due to iatrogenic instead of spontaneous preterm birth. Preterm birth explained 89% of the association of maternal cancer during pregnancy with neonatal mortality.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Maternal cancer diagnosed during pregnancy was associated with increased risks of stillbirths assessed as SGA and preterm SGA live birth, suggesting that cancer and its treatment during pregnancy may impair fetal growth. Maternal cancer diagnosed during or shortly after pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of neonatal mortality, largely attributable to iatrogenic preterm birth. Although stillbirth and neonatal death are rare outcomes, the absolute risks of SGA and preterm birth are not small in pregnancies complicated with cancer. Careful monitoring of fetal growth and cautious decision making on the choices as well as the timing of preterm delivery should therefore be reinforced in these pregnancies.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Sweden is among the high-income countries with the lowest stillbirth and infant mortality rates, and these rates have decreased over time in many populations. Future studies in other populations are warranted to confirm our findings. Our data have also highlighted several cancer types, such as blood cancer, ovarian cancer, and cervical cancer, which entail highly increased risk of SGA or preterm birth and might be worthy of further exploration. 

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Maternal Cancer During Pregnancy and Risks of Stillbirth and Infant Mortality

Donghao Lu, Jonas F. Ludvigsson, Karin E. Smedby, Katja Fall, Unnur Valdimarsdóttir, Sven Cnattingius, and Fang Fang

Journal of Clinical Oncology
DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2016.69.9439 Journal of Clinical Oncology – published online before print March 6, 2017

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Vitamin D During Fetal Life and Bone Health in Children at Age 6

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Audry H. Garcia PhD

Scientist Department of Epidemiology
Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam
Rotterdam, the Netherlands 

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

Response: Fetal bone mineralisation requires an adequate transfer of calcium to the fetus by the end of the pregnancy. Considering that vitamin D is required to maintain normal blood concentrations of calcium, adequate 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) concentrations in pregnant women seem to be crucial for bone development of the offspring. Maternal vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy has been associated with abnormal early skeletal growth in offspring and might be a risk factor for decreased bone mass in later life. Several studies have linked vitamin D deficiency in fetal life to congenital rickets, craniotabes, wide skull sutures and osteomalacia. However, the evidence of long-lasting effects of maternal vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy on offspring’s skeletal development is scarce and inconsistent, and has led to contradictory recommendations on vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy.

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Study Fails To Support Routine Screening For Subclinical Hypothyroidism During Pregnancy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor, Brian Casey, M.D. Gillette Professorship of Obstetrics and Gynecology UT Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Casey

Professor Brian Casey, M.D.
Gillette Professorship of Obstetrics and Gynecology
UT Southwestern Medical Center 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: For several decades now, subclinical thyroid disease, variously defined, has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.  In 1999, two studies are responsible for increasing interest in subclinical thyroid disease during pregnancy because it was associated with impaired neuropsychological development in the fetus.  One study showed that children born to women with the highest TSH levels had lower IQ levels.  The other showed that children of women with isolated low free thyroid hormone levels performed worse on early psychomotor developmental tests. Together, these findings led several experts and professional organizations to recommend routine screening for and treatment of subclinical thyroid disease during pregnancy.

Our study was designed to determine whether screening for either of these two diagnoses and treatment with thyroid hormone replacement during pregnancy actually improved IQ in children at 5 years of age.

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Flu Treatment With Neuraminidase Inhibitors During Pregnancy Not Linked To Birth Defects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Sophie Graner Department of Women's and Childrens Health Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Dr. Graner

Dr. Sophie Graner
Department of Women’s and Childrens Health
Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

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

Response: Pregnant women are at increased risks of severe disease and death due to influensa infection, as well as hospitalization. Also influenza and fever increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes for their infants such as intrauterine death and preterm birth. Due to this, the regulatory agencies in Europe and the US recommended post exposure prophylaxis and treatment for pregnant women with neuraminidase inhibitors during the last influenza pandemic 2009-10. Despite the recommendations, the knowledge on the effect of neuraminidase inhibitors on the infant has been limited. Previously published studies have not shown any increased risk, but they have had limited power to assess specific neonatal outcomes such as stillbirth, neonatal mortality, preterm birth, low Agar score, neonatal morbidity and congenital malformations.
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Women From High Income Countries Less Likely To Exclusively Breastfeed

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Alison McFadden, PhD Senior Research Fellow School of Nursing & Health Sciences University of Dundee

Dr. McFadden

Dr. Alison McFadden, PhD
Senior Research Fellow
School of Nursing & Health Sciences
University of Dundee

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

Response: The World Health Organization recommends that infants should be breastfed exclusively until six months of age with breastfeeding continuing as an important part of the infant’s diet until he or she is at least two years old. Breastfeeding has an important impact on the short-term and long-term health of both infants and their mothers. There is good evidence that not breastfeeding increases mortality and morbidity due to infectious diseases. Not breastfeeding is also associated with increases in hospitalisation for problems such as gastroenteritis, respiratory disease, and ear infections, as well as higher rates of childhood diabetes, obesity and dental disease.

Breastfeeding is also important for women’s health. It’s been found that not breastfeeding is associated with increased risks of breast and ovarian cancer, and diabetes. Few health behaviours have such a broad-spectrum and long-lasting impact on population health, with the potential to improve life chances, health and well-being. It has been estimated that each year, 823,000 deaths in children under five years and 20,000 deaths from breast cancer could be prevented by near universal breastfeeding.

However, many women stop breastfeeding before they want to as a result of the problems they encounter. Current breastfeeding rates in many countries do not reflect the WHO recommendation. Only around 37% of babies under six months worldwide are exclusively breastfed, and in many high and middle income countries, the rates are much lower. Good care and support may help women solve these problems so that they can continue to breastfeed.

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Pelvic Floor Symptoms May Lead To Exercise Avoidance in Menopausal Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Eija K. Laakkonen PhD Assistant professor Gerontology Research Center Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences University of Jyväskylä

Dr. Laakkonen

Dr. Eija K. Laakkonen PhD
Assistant professor
Gerontology Research Center
Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences
University of Jyväskylä

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

Response: Physical activity improves health and may delay the onset of chronic diseases. For women in particular, the rate of some chronic diseases accelerates at middle age around the time of menopause; therefore it is important to identify the determinants of health-enhancing physical activity during midlife in this population.

The main aim of this study was to characterize the level of physical activity and to examine the association between different female reproductive factors and objectively-measured physical activity in middle-aged women. The reproductive factors included cumulative reproductive history index, and perceived menopausal and pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms.

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Singing Enhances Mother-Infant Bond Even When Mom Has PostPartum Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Shannon K. de l’Etoile, Ph.D., MT-BC Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Professor, Music Therapy University of Miami Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music Coral Gables, FL

Dr. de l’Etoile

Shannon K. de l’Etoile, Ph.D., MT-BC
Associate Dean of Graduate Studies
Professor, Music Therapy
University of Miami
Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music
Coral Gables, FL

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

Response: Infant-directed (ID) singing allows infants to have emotionally-synchronized interactions with caregivers, during which they gain valuable experience in self-regulation. Maternal depression can disrupt mother-infant interaction, thus hindering infants’ efforts at self-regulation and possibly contributing to a depressed interaction style that can generalize to infant interaction with strangers. Additionally, maternal depression can alter the acoustic parameters of ID singing, such that mothers may not modify musical elements (i.e., tempo and key), to accommodate infant state.

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Air Pollution Linked To Millions of Preterm Births

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Chris Malley PhD The Stockholm Environment Institute University of York

Dr. Chris Malley

Chris Malley PhD
The Stockholm Environment Institute
University of York

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

Response: When a baby is born preterm (at less than 37 weeks of gestation, an indicator of premature birth), there is an increased risk of infant death, or long-term physical and neurological disabilities. For example, 965,000 infant deaths in 2013 (35% of all neonatal deaths) have been estimated to be due to preterm birth complications. In 2010, an estimated 14.9 million births were preterm – about 4–5% of the total in some European countries, but up to 15–18% in some African and South Asian countries. The human and economic costs are enormous.

There are many risk factors for preterm birth – from the mother’s age, to illness, to poverty and other social factors. Recent research has suggested that exposure to air pollution could also be a risk factor. Our study quantifies for the first time the global impact of pregnant women’s exposure to outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by combining data about air pollution in different countries with knowledge about how exposure to different levels of air pollution is associated with preterm birth rates.

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Gestational Diabetes Linked To Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Sophie Jacqueminet Praticien Hospitalier Service de Diabétologie Pole Cardio Métabolisme Hôpitaux Universitaires Pitié Salpêtrière - Charles Foix

Dr Sophie Jacqueminet

Dr Sophie Jacqueminet
Praticien Hospitalier
Service de Diabétologie
Pole Cardio Métabolisme
Hôpitaux Universitaires
Pitié Salpêtrière – Charles Foix

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

Response: The proportion of women who are overweight or obese is increasing in almost all countries worldwide, and this is being accompanied by an increased risk of developing both type 2 diabetes (T2D) (whether pregnant or not) and gestational diabetes (GDM). While other studies have analysed the links between GDM and adverse outcomes in babies, very large studies that draw on an entire national database, study, are rare.
In our research, all 796,346 deliveries taking place after 22 weeks in France in 2012 were included by extracting data from the hospital discharge database and the national health insurance system. Outcomes were analysed according to the type of diabetes and, in the GDM group, whether or not diabetes was insulin-treated.

The cohort of 796,346 deliveries involved 57,629 (7.24%) mothers with gestational diabetes mellitus. Data linking the mother to the child were available for 705,198 deliveries (88% of the total). The risks of adverse outcomes were two to four times higher for babies of mothers with type 2 diabetes before pregnancy (pregestational diabetes) than for those with GDM. We then adjusted our data, limiting the analysis to deliveries after 28 weeks to ensure all women diagnosed with GDM were included (since diagnosis of GDM in most cases takes place at or after 28 weeks).

Following adjustment, the increased risk of various complications for mothers with gestational diabetes versus mothers without GDM were: preterm birth 30%; Caesarean section 40%; pre-eclampsia/eclampsia 70%; babies born significantly larger than average size (macrosomia) 80%; respiratory distress 10%; birth trauma 30%; and cardiac malformations 30%. While these increased risks combine women with both insulin- and diet-treated GDM, most of the increased risk is found in women with insulin-treated GDM. This is because as stated above, the diabetes is more serious and blood sugar more difficult to control in women who need insulin treatment, resulting in a higher risk of complications than in those women treated with diet only.

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Survival Rates Improving For Very Preterm Infants

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carla M. Bann, Ph.D. Division of Statistical and Data Sciences RTI International Research Triangle Park, NC

Dr. Carla Bann

Carla M. Bann, Ph.D.
Division of Statistical and Data Sciences
RTI International
Research Triangle Park, NC

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

Response: Several medical advances have been made over the past two decades to improve the care and survival of infants born pre-term. However, approaches to care differ greatly among providers for infants born at the limits of viability (22 to 24 weeks gestation), far earlier than the 40 weeks generally expected for a pregnancy to reach full-term. Little is known about the outcomes of these infants, particularly whether those who survive experience significant neurodevelopmental impairments.

RTI served as the data coordinating center for this research that examined the survival and neurodevelopmental impairment at 18-22 months corrected age of over 4,000 infants born at 22 to 24 weeks gestation during 2000 to 2011 at medical centers participating in a national research network funded by the NIH. In this group of babies, infant survival improved over time from survival rates of 30 percent in 2000-2003 to 36 percent in 2008-2011. The proportion of infants who survived without a neurodevelopmental impairment also increased from 16 percent in 2000-2003 to 20 percent in 2008-2011.

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