Posts Tagged ‘ Pregnancy ’

Firstborn kids more prone to food allergies: study

Source: Yahoo! News

Link: firstborn-kids-more-prone-food-allergies-study-20110323-094643-060.html



If you suffer from food allergies, consider your rank in the family birth order. According to a study out of Japan, firstborn siblings are more likely to suffer from food allergies than their younger brothers and sisters.

In a survey of more than 13,000 children ages 7 to 15, food allergies were prevalent in four percent of firstborn children, 3.5 percent of second-born children, and 2.6 percent in subsequent siblings.

Firstborns were also more likely to suffer from symptoms like an itchy, running nose and inflammation of the eyelids than their younger siblings.

The findings likewise suggest that food allergies may have a prenatal origin, as food allergies decreased significantly as birth order increased.

In a study published last November, researchers found that mothers who consume peanuts during their pregnancy could be putting their babies at increased risk of a peanut allergy. The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, evaluated 503 infants across the US, ages three to 15 months, with milk or egg allergies or with severe eczema — all factors associated with an increased peanut allergy.

A total of 140 infants showed strong sensitivity to peanut-based blood tests, and the consumption of peanuts during pregnancy was a significant predictor.

While previous studies have found links between general childhood allergies and birth order, the Japanese researchers say theirs is the first to show a link between specific food allergies and sibling birth order.

In an interview with MyHealthNewsDaily, study researcher Takashi Kusunoki of the Shiga Medical Center for Children in Shiga, Japan, postulated that younger siblings may be spared from food allergies because the mother’s immune system in the womb changes with multiple pregnancies.

Kusunoki also hypothesized that younger children develop stronger immune systems than their older siblings because more children in the house means more germs. That means younger siblings may be exposed to more pathogens at an earlier age.

The study was presented during the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in San Francisco earlier this week.

The abstract for the study can be found at, and is No. 525.

To prevent younger children from developing the same food allergies as the firstborn, one study recommends eliminating the offending food from the mother’s diet from the third trimester on, and continuing the ban until the child is two years old.

According to researchers from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia, seven out of ten babies born to mothers who took avoidance measures had no food allergies, compared to 45 percent of babies whose mothers took no precautions.

Pediatricians recommend eliminating the offending food from both the mother’s diet and the household environment.

Breastfeeding has also been shown to protect children against the development of allergies.


In Japan, Pregnant Women Have Double the Reason to Dodge Radiation

Source: Time Healthland

Link: in-japan-pregnant-women-have-doubly-good-reason-to-dodge-radiation



When Kathryn Higley, head of the department of nuclear engineering and radiation health physics at Oregon State University, learned she was pregnant years ago, she immediately informed her supervisor, who outfitted her with a fetal dosimeter, an iPod-sized personal radiation monitoring system, to attach to her belly.

In the U.S., pregnant women who work in a nuclear facility can be exposed to 50 millirem per month — or about 500 millirem over the course of a full-term pregnancy. “At that level,” says Higley, “nothing will happen to the fetus.”

But the fluctuating levels of radiation near the malfunctioning Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear reactors could be more of a cause for concern for unborn babies and young children, who appear to be at greater risk because their cells multiply more rapidly than adults’. In pregnant women, radiation passes via the mother’s blood to the fetus through the umbilical cord. Radiation can also accumulate near the uterus — in the mother’s bladder, for example — and affect the fetus. (More on Time.comJapan’s Next Nightmare: Health Problems from Radiation Exposure)

The information coming out of Japan changes so frequently that it’s difficult to pin down a specific level of radiation that residents are exposed to; in any case, levels vary from place to place.

Earlier this week, Higley heard a report of 800 millirem at the nuclear plant’s boundary. But taking into account the 12-mile evacuation zone, she says the risk is probably not even as great as the 50 millirems per month that a pregnant nuclear-facility employee is allowed to absorb.

“For convenience, we assume any radiation dose gives us an increased risk of cancer,” says Higley. “But a dose of 10,000 millirem increases the lifetime cancer risk between 1/2 to 1%.” (In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the typical lifetime cancer risk at up to 50%.)

Yet in areas experiencing high concentrations of radiation, says Higley, “there is no question that really elevated levels do affect the embryo and fetus.”

For that reason, pregnant women and parents of little kids would be wise to heed advisories regarding evacuation zones. Newly pregnant women are particularly vulnerable. They may not even be aware they’re pregnant, yet inside their bodies, the dividing ball of cells, called a blastocyst, is extremely sensitive. (More on Time.comRadiation Exposure: Fast Facts About Thyroid Cancer and Other Health Risks)

“Early on, any radiation dose at the blastocyst stage is an all-or-nothing event,” says Higley, meaning the blastocyst is thought to either recover and continue growing or miscarry.

According to Duke University’s Radiation Safety Division, rapidly dividing tissues — an embryo or fetus is a good example — are more sensitive to radiation. “Therefore, one could infer that the human fetus, because of its rapid progression from a single cell to a formed organism in nine months, is more sensitive to radiation than the adult,” states a one-page explainer called “A Perspective on Risk to the Fetus from Ionizing Radiation.”

Possible side effects include miscarriage, birth defects, mental retardation and childhood cancers such as leukemia. Poor outcomes are largely related not only to dosage but to a woman’s stage of pregnancy at the time of exposure; first and second trimesters are of the most concern.

At fetal doses less than 1,000 millirem, according to Duke, there is no evidence of harm. Doses between 1,000 millirem and 10,000 millirem incur a low risk of problems, while doses over 10,000 millirem may be linked to lower IQ, retardation and poor academic achievement. (More on Time.comRadiation May Be a Greater Cancer Risk for Adults Than Doctors Thought)

This week, the New York Times published an email from Douglas Almond, a Columbia University economist who researched the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, in which he worries that the Japanese government is not adequately protecting pregnant women.

Almond’s research, published in 2009 in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, examined Chernobyl fallout in Sweden, where radiation levels were considered safe. He wrote:

While this has been largely confirmed in subsequent studies, there is one important exception: children in utero at the time of the accident. Swedish students who were in utero during the accident experienced significantly lower cognitive function, as reflected in performance on standardized tests in middle school, especially those tests that correspond best to IQ.

The damage was greatest for cohorts in utero in regions of Sweden that received more fallout by virtue of rainfall during the time the radioactive plume was over Sweden, and were of gestational age 8-25 weeks at the time of the accident. This last finding mirrors earlier epidemiological analysis of the survivors of Atomic bombings in Japan, which found reduced IQ and head circumference among the cohort exposed to radiation at those gestation ages.

Bottom line: if you’re pregnant and living near the reactor, steer clear of the contamination zone — and then some.

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