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Does Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy Lead to Childhood Behavioral Issues?

A new study suggests a link between the use of a popular pain control drug during pregnancy and high rates of behavioral issues in children. What does this mean for pregnant women?

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in many pain relief medications. While other drugs may not be suitable for pregnant women, products containing acetaminophen can be used by expectant mothers seeking pain relief for headaches, muscle aches, arthritis, fever or cold symptoms.

The medication is considered safe, and there are no identified risk factors for women or their children. However, a new review from a research team in the UK holds up one possible red-flag.

Researchers from the University of Bristol analyzed data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, assessing 7,796 respondents, as well as data on their children and partners. The researchers used questionnaires at various points during pregnancy to examine acetaminophen use among pre and post-natal mothers, in addition to use by the other parent.

The study then contrasted these findings with later reports of behavioral problems in the subjects’ children, up to age seven.

Researchers found that at about 18 weeks of pregnancy, around 53 percent of surveyed mothers were using acetaminophen, and about 42 percent reported using acetaminophen when they reached 32 weeks. In addition, 89 percent of the mothers in the sample reported using acetaminophen after their child was born, as did 84 percent of the women’s partners.


In total, the study found that about five percent of children in the sample would later be identified as having behavioral problems.

While postnatal use of acetaminophen — and use by the co-parent — did not increase the likelihood of a child having behavioral issues, prenatal use of the drug may be a contributing factor.

In fact, researchers found a 42 percent increase in what the study identifies as ”conduct problems.” There was also a 31 percent increase in the risk of hyperactivity disorders, while emotional problems went up by 29 percent.

The study did have several limitations, and they are important for understanding the results. For instance, the study could not identify the dosage that expectant mothers ingested nor how long they were taking acetaminophen. This will be one area of focus for further studies.

The authors of the study explained:

Children exposed to acetaminophen use prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties. Our findings suggest that the association between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and offspring behavioral problems in childhood may be due to an intrauterine mechanism. Further studies are required to elucidate mechanisms behind this association as well as to test alternatives to a causal explanation. Given the widespread use of acetaminophen among pregnant women, this can have important implications on public health advice.

It is also crucial to highlight that the researchers are not suggesting women should stop taking acetaminophen. The risk of not treating fever or other symptoms is far greater than any possible — and still not proven — behavioral impacts in a child.

Pediatric neurologist Dr. Max Wiznitzer told ABC news that while this study provides important insight, it’s far too early to conclude that acetaminophen use is directly responsible for this problem. “It’s interesting but raises more questions that need to be addressed before you come to firm conclusions,” Wiznitzer said.

In light of this study, perhaps the best advice for an expectant mother and her care team is to use the smallest possible dosage of pain relief and to limit the length of use. The upshot is, keep taking pain relief if you need it, but consult a doctor to minimize any possible risks.

By: Steve Williams        August 18, 2016       Follow Steve at @stevenbwriting
source: www.care2.com

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Life-saving kits for Zambian children hitch a ride

$7 million granted to test health innovations in poor countries 

CBC News      Posted: Nov 22, 2012
Health innovators in Canada will use their new $100,000 federal grants to deliver life-saving and inexpensive medications to children living in developing countries.
Grand Challenges Canada announced 68 grants worth $7 million in total on Thursday so researchers worldwide and in Canada can test their prevention and treatment ideas.
Nearly half of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lacks access to simple hydration salts and zinc tablets for diarrhea, a leading cause of death after pneumonia, in children under the age of five in the developing world, according to the World Health Organization.
One of the grants was awarded to a project distributing anti-diarrheal kits — a plastic container of medicines, soap and information that fits into the empty spaces between crated bottles of pop.
“What we’re trying to do is basically piggyback on the Coca Cola supply chain to get these kits into those rural areas where access is most limited,” said Rohit Ramchandani, a Canadian working as a public health adviser to ColaLife, a non-profit group.
The pilot project is underway in Zambia.
Other overseas projects include a trading system in Kenya that exchanges seed and fertilizer for proof of child vaccination, and a $100 kitchen renovation to reduce indoor pollution from burning biomass fuel. The smoke is associated with placental problems and low birth-weights in developing countries.
The anti-diarrhea kit contains medicines
 including oral rehydration salts and zinc
that are packaged to fit in cola distribution crates
for widespread delivery in developing countries.
 (ColaLife/Grand Challenges Canada)
“This is probably the largest pipeline of innovation in global health from the developing world itself,” said Dr. Peter Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada. “What we’ve learned in supporting this is even very poor countries can be very rich in good ideas that can have results.”
Included among the 17 projects based in Canada:
  • Dr. Christian Kastrup in Vancouver will mimic rocket technology to propel nanoparticles into the bloodstream and stop maternal bleeding, a major cause of death in the developing world.
  • Dr. Robin Evans in Vancouver is developing a burn survival kit. The innovation is being tested in Uganda where often burns are untreated or mistreated. The kit will include a low-cost silver nanotubule dressing so that the treatment is affordable.
  • Dr. Julianne Gibbs-Davis of Edmonton is creating a unique approach to diagnosing TB. It involves extracting DNA from the infected person’s TB bacteria and does not require the usual temperature changes that are expensive and difficult to implement in low-resource settings.
  • Dr. Leyla Soleymani in Hamilton, Ont., is also tackling the rising incidence in developing countries of multi-drug resistant TB with a hand-held, solar rechargeable, inexpensive diagnostic device to rapidly assess patients at the bedside.
  • Dr. Cheng Lu in Toronto has a unique idea for tackling clinic and hospital infections: a coating that can be sprayed or wiped on surfaces. Once applied, the long-lasting anti-bacterial components are activated by sunlight or artificial light, making it easy to use and effective.
  • Dr. Karen Yeates of Kingston, Ont., will employ cellphones to improve cervical cancer screening and detection. It is being tested in remote areas of Tanzania.
  • Dr. Marion Roche in Ottawa will use social marketing to rejuvenate interest in taking zinc to control childhood diarrhea.
  • Dr. Philippe Archambault in Montreal will use virtual reality to assist rehabilitation of stroke victims suffering from hand or arm immobilization.
  • Dr. Hanna Kienzler’s in Montreal is testing a new approach to treating trauma in the developing world. The innovation, called “Defeating the Giant with a Slingshot,” blocks memory of trauma and will be tested on victims of torture in Nepal.
  • Dr. Alexis Vallée-Bélisle is developing an instrument to detect HIV infection in fewer than five minutes, leading to earlier treatment.
  • Dr. Patricia Livingston’s project in Halifax will improve emergency services with a specific focus on crisis management for mothers delivering babies. The project is being tested in Rwanda.
Grand Challenges Canada is an independent, non-profit organization funded by the federal government.

With files from the CBC’s Pauline Dakin

source: CBC

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"Good bacteria" during pregnancy may ward off eczema: study

Thu Oct 25, 2012 

(Reuters) – Babies were less likely to get the itchy skin rash eczema when their mothers took probiotics during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, according to a study from Finland.

Researchers said it’s possible that probiotics – which are thought to help balance bacteria populations in the gut and prevent disease-causing strains from spreading – may influence babies’ health through immune cells that cross the placenta and later are passed in breast milk.

“Prevention regimen with specific probiotics administered to the pregnant and breast-feeding mother, that is, prenatally and postnatally, is safe and effective in reducing the risk of eczema in infants with allergic mothers,” wrote lead author Samuli Rautava of Turku University Central Hospital, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

For the study, Rautava and his colleagues assigned 241 pregnant women to take one of two different probiotic combinations, given as a powder mixed with water once daily, or a bacteria-free placebo powder.

All of the mothers-to-be had a history of allergies, so their babies were at extra-high risk of eczema and other allergic reactions.

The women drank their assigned concoction for the last two months of pregnancy and their first two months of breastfeeding. Researchers then tracked their babies’ health for two years to see how many developed rashes.

By the end of the study, 71 percent of babies in the placebo group had had eczema at least once, compared to 29 percent of babies whose mother took either probiotic combination.

Chronic eczema was diagnosed in 26 percent of placebo kids, compared to 10 percent and six percent, respectively, of those in the two probiotic groups.

However, by age two there was no difference in kids’ sensitivities to a range of allergens, including milk, wheat, soy and dog and cat dander, based on whether their mothers had taken the supplements. About one quarter of the children had a positive “skin prick” test for sensitivity to an allergen.

“(The study) really shows a reduction in eczema from probiotics, which is such a simple and easy intervention for mothers,’ said Ruchi Gupta, an allergy an eczema researcher at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

But she said it was still too soon to see if that reduction in eczema will be tied to a drop in asthma and more serious allergies later on, and Rautava himself said it was still not yet possible to make recommendations for routine use of probiotics.

Rautava and his colleagues didn’t find any evidence of probiotic-related side-effects, and while there have been reports of infections attributed to probiotics in babies, giving the supplements to the mothers instead may reduce that risk.

But some researchers questioned whether the supplements sold on drugstore shelves have any real health benefits, especially including all the different strains available.

“The results look encouraging, but this is a controversial area and confirmation is needed,” said James Gem, a pediatric allergy researcher from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. 

(Reporting from New York by Genevra Pittman at Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies)

source:  bit.ly/RYnbVw      reuters

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Overly Long Pregnancies Linked to Behavioral Problems in Toddlers

THURSDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) — Children born after a longer-than-normal pregnancy are at increased risk for behavioral and emotional problems, a new study suggests.
The study found that attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an especially common problem among children who were born post-term, defined as birth after a pregnancy of 42 weeks.
The study of more than 5,000 infants in the Netherlands found that about 7 percent were born post-term, while 4 percent were born pre-term (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Children who were born post-term and pre-term both had an increased risk of behavioral and emotional problems when they were 18 and 36 months old.
The post-term children were more than twice as likely as normal-term children to have ADHD symptoms, according to the study in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
The link between post-term birth and emotional and behavioral problems in early childhood did not appear to be explained by factors such as mother’s weight and height, ethnicity, family income, alcohol consumption or smoking, education level, or the mother’s mental health during pregnancy.
Although the study found an association between lengthy pregnancies and ADHD and other problems in babies, it did not prove causality.
More research is needed determine a causal relationship, as well as whether the link between post-term birth and emotional and behavioral problems continues past 36 months of age, lead author Hanan El Marroun said in a journal news release.
More information
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
– Robert Preidt
SOURCE: health.com  International Journal of Epidemiology, news release, May 2, 2012