Posts Tagged ‘premature birth’

Link may explain high blood pressure in pregnancy

Link may explain high blood pressure in pregnancy
Posted Mon Feb 18, 2008 1:41pm AEDT

Australian researchers have found a viral link they think may help explain high blood pressure during pregnancy.

A team from the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the University of Adelaide says it has discovered a possible link between exposure to viral infections, especially herpes, and pre-eclampsia and pre-term births.

It says viral nucleic acid was found in heel-prick blood samples taken from more than 1,300 newborns over a decade.

More than 400 were diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Leader of the research group, Professor Alastair MacLennan, says it is an exciting finding and more studies will be needed.

High blood pressure affects up to 10 per cent of pregnancies in the developed world and is a common cause of maternal death in the third world.

The team has been focused on cerebral palsy research and has already demonstrated a link between viral infection in pregnancy, genetic mutations affecting inflammatory and clotting processes and development of cerebral palsy.

The latest findings have been published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Caffeine During Pregnancy May Increase the Risk of Miscarriage

A new study suggests that consuming caffeine during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage.

The study finds that women who consume more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day (amount in 10 oz of coffee) may double their risk of miscarriage. The study included 1,063 pregnant women who were interviewed about their caffeine intake. Of the 264 who said they had no caffeine, 12.5% miscarried. In the 164 who consumed 200 milligrams or more per day, the rate of miscarriage was 24.5%.

While there is no clear cut way to prevent a miscarriage, it does indicate that caffeine does have adverse affects and at minimum should be limited during pregnancy.

Folic Acid May Greatly Reduce Pre-Term Births

The March of Dimes released a study last week suggesting that taking folic acid supplements for a year before becoming pregnant can cut their risk of pre-term delivery by at least half. The study included more than 38,000 women who were pregnant with singletons and did not have complications such as preeclampsia.

“Thanks to the depth and breadth of the NIH study, which included an early pregnancy ultrasound of each participant, we had highly accurate evidence of the gestational ages of the preterm deliveries,” said Radek Bukowski, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the lead study author and SMFM member. “This evidence enabled us to determine that folate supplementation for at least one year is linked to a 70 percent decrease in very early preterm deliveries (20 to 28 weeks in gestational age) and up to a 50 percent reduction in early preterm deliveries of 28 to 32 weeks.”

These are very astounding figures and ones that should not be taken lightly. This is a big step in preventing pre-term babies who are at such high risk for certain disease. While this is not a “cure” even a 50% decrease in premature births would be significant.

Folic acid is already known to help prevent certain birth defects, such as spinal bifida, but until now, effects of folic acid have only been study on it being taken during pregnancy. The US Public Health Service has for a long time recommended that all women of child-bearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.

Other studies have suggested folic acid helps reduce stroke and cardiovascular disease in adults. It would be wise for all men and women to get in the habit of consuming folic acid rich foods or at minimum, taking a daily supplement.