Sunday, August 26, 2012

Looking Older? How Square Is Your Jaw Line?

Your face may be giving away your age, and it has nothing to do with wrinkles, sagging skin or droopy eyelids. A study in January's Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery(R) (PRS), the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), found that as we age, the lower jaw continues to grow, creating a more square jaw line, ultimately making people appear older.

"The shape of the lower jaw plays an important role in the perception of youth and can be a tell-tale sign of someone's age," said Joel Pessa, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and study co-author. "Across the board in many cultures, the smaller and more curved a man or woman's jaw line, the younger looking they appear."

The authors studied radiographic images of 16 patients (eight men and eight women) taken at youth (mean age 16 years old) and maturity (mean age 56 years old). They discovered the lower jaw in both men and women continued to grow with age, creating a larger, squarer jaw line.

According to the study, soft-tissue procedures, such as a facelift, can create the illusion of a smaller lower jaw and may enhance a more youthful appearance.

More than 104,000 facelifts were performed in 2006, according to ASPS statistics.

Visit for referrals to ASPS Member Surgeons and to learn more about cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. With more than 6,000 members, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 90 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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Smoking Associated With Both Anxiety And Depression

A new study indicates that smoking is linked to anxiety with depression, as well as to anxiety alone. However, people who are depressed but not anxious smoke the same as any other smokers. These findings come from a joint study from Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), University of Bergen and King's College in London.

The link between smoking and anxiety/depression was most apparent among women and young people. Data were collected from 60 000 participants in "Health Studies in North-Troendelag" (HUNT), a study based in a county in northern Norway.

Figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that 30 percent of inhabitants in the western world smoke daily. Earlier studies have found that people with mental health problems are twice as likely to smoke as the rest of the population. Injuries to physical health after smoking are well documented. It is also known that smoking is linked to other psychological problems. Anxiety and depression are the most common complaints and are often both present in people who smoke.

Anxiety and depression most common among smokers

Arnstein Mykletun is the primary author of the article "Smoking in relation to anxiety and depression: Evidence from a large population survey: The HUNT study" published in European Psychiatry (see link under related articles). Mykletun is linked to the Division of Mental Health at NIPH but his main position is at the University of Bergen.

Mykletun explains that the study shows the strongest correlation with smoking when the subject is both anxious and depressed, next strongest with anxiety without depression and with a marginal correlation between smoking and depression without anxiety. There was no reduction in anxiety and depression over time after smoking was given up.

About the study

- Approximately 60 000 people in the age 20 - 89 years old who took part in HUNT were included in the study (HUNT has a total of 92 000 participants).

- All participants were screened using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).

- Smoking was defined as daily use of cigarettes, cigars or a pipe.

- 29 percent of participants said they were active smokers. A similar number said that they had quit smoking while 42 per cent had previously smoked.

- 9.6 percent had anxiety, 4.9 % had depression, while 5.9 % had both, as defined by HADS.

Link to article (abstract): Smoking in relation to anxiety and depression: Evidence from a large population survey: The HUNT study (abstract)
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Erection Hardness Scale Proves Effective In Assessing Erection Quality

The Erection Hardness Scale (EHS), an easy-to-use, four-point scale for erectile dysfunction (ED), provides a reliable measure of erection hardness and an indicator of other health and wellbeing outcomes, according to new data reported at the European Association of Urology.

EHS rates the hardness of erection on a scale of one to four, with four being the maximal score. The language used is simple and direct, so that men with ED can use the scale to assess the severity of their condition and to monitor the impact of treatment. A score of 1 indicates that the penis is larger than normal, but not hard; 2 means the penis is hard, but not hard enough for penetration, 3 means the penis is hard enough for penetration but not completely hard, and 4 indicates that the penis is completely hard and fully rigid.

A new study, SCORE 4 (Scoring Correspondence in Outcomes Related Erectile Dysfunction Treatment on a 4-point Scale), compared ratings on the Erection Hardness Scale with other scales commonly used in clinical trials of ED, including the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF). It included 209 men (mean age 52 years) diagnosed with ED who were randomised to sildenafil or placebo, followed by an open-label extension period with flexible-dose sildenafil (50mg or 100mg).

The results showed a nearly linear relationship between EHS ratings and results from other scoring systems. The relationship between the discrete points of the EHS and scores on components of other rating scales, including the IIEF, showed the close correspondence between erection hardness and erectile function, satisfaction with the quality of an erection, the overall sexual experience and emotional well-being in men with ED.

Commenting on the clinical implications of the findings, Professor Herman van Ahlen, Professor of Urology, Klinikum Osnabruck, Muenster University, Germany, said: "These data validate the importance of measuring erection hardness because of its link to other factors."

Professor van Ahlen said that the Erection Hardness Scale provided a simple, effective tool that could be used in clinical practice for assessing patients with ED. He added: "The EHS measures more than just erection hardness. It can also provide an assessment of the other factors associated with this debilitating condition. A patient's satisfaction with erection hardness has the scope to predict satisfaction with other quality of life measures."

European Association of Urology.
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What Is The Stone Age Diet?

The Stone Age Diet has many names - the Paleolithic Diet, The Paleo Diet, the Prehistoric Diet, The Caveman diet, or the Hunter-Gatherer Diet. The theory goes that modern human genes are the result of life conditions that for over a million years before the introduction of agriculture.

Farming did not exist until about 10,000 years ago. Humans have been around for over one million years. The Paleolithic era ended about 20,000 years ago - before the advent of agriculture. It takes hundreds of thousands of years to about two million years for an animal's genes to adapt it metabolism and physiology to changing lifestyles - this process of change is called "natural selection".

In other words, we are nearly genetically identical to humans before the advent of agriculture. During the last 10,000 years there has not been enough time for natural selection to make genetic changes to our relatively new farm-based diet. Farming includes grains, legumes and dairy product. Our hunter-gather genetic make-up is designed for the consumption of wild plants, animals and seafood. We are even less genetically suited for modern processed foods, such as sugar, refined fat, etc.

As we are designed to consume hunter-gatherer foods, we should be consuming:

-- Meat
-- Eggs
-- Insects (and larva)
-- Seafood (fish and shellfish)
-- Root vegetables that can be eaten raw
-- Fruits
-- Nuts
-- Seeds
-- Herbs and spices
-- Vegetables
-- Honey, maple sugar, date sugar (natural sugars)

We are NOT designed to eat:

-- Grains
-- Peanuts, beans, peas, cashews, tofu, soy milk, flour (legumes)
-- Root vegetables that cannot be eaten raw (potato, tapioca, parsnips, sweet potato, yam)
-- Refined sugars
-- Separated fats and oils
-- Foods that contain yeast
-- Juices, sodas, coffee
-- Alcohol
-- Dairy products
-- Processed meats
-- Salt

Some scientists are swayed by the arguments behind this diet. Others believe the theory is too simplified. At Medical News Today I have received feedback from many people who have used, and still use this diet. Generally, the feedback is positive. The most common comment is that the person managed both to lose weight, and continue with the diet after he/she reached his/her target weight.

A useful web site for further reading on this subject:
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Essentials Of Orthopaedic Nurse Care

Orthopaedic Nursing

An orthopaedic nurse is a specialty nurse trained in orthopaedic problems such as fractures and is an expert in neurovascular status monitoring, traction, casting and continuous motion therapy. More than 350,000 hip fractures occur in the United States every year (Watters, 2006). Nurses' skills, interventions, attitudes, communication and continuity of care constitute the essential components of orthopaedic nurse care .

Patient satisfaction measures assist nurses in the evaluation of effectiveness of their practice and assist the process of improvement of established orthopaedic practice methods (Wu, 2000). Technical advances in the field of orthopaedics like Radiography, Computed Tomography, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging have not only led to improved diagnosis and evaluation of orthopaedic diagnosis but also innovative treatment options like Vertebroplasty, Bupivacaine Infiltration, Total Disc Replacement Arthroplasty, Unicompartmental Knee Arthroplasty, The Titanium Rib, Toe-to-Hand Transplantation Surgery, The Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement (STAR), Mechanical Devices for Lateral Transfers and Kyphoplasty. Thus, orthopaedic nurse should have the essential training and skills in the latest innovations in the field.

Nursing Skills and Interventions

Nursing intervention begins with the assessment of the patient after a traumatic event, determination of the mechanism of injury, assessment of the injured or fracture site, confirmation of the exact injury, identification of potential complications, and assessment of the patient's social and professional status to identify potential problems that might affect treatment and challenge and are important as a cause for morbidity and mortality (Kobziff, 2006).Fractures of the forearm in an adult may involve the ulna, the radius, or both and it is better to xray the entire upper extremity in most upper-limb injuries (Altizer, 2003).

Spinal cord injuries are devastating events, and they are particularly tragic when they affect children or adolescents (Vogel, 2004).Nurses should provide interventions preoperatively, intraoperatively, and postoperatively to avoid potential complications (Harvey, 2005).Preoperative interventions include a thorough assessment of the patient history and screen for hypertension or other problems in order to avoid possible intraoperative and postoperative complications. Intraoperative interventions include insertion of a urinary catheter, prophylactic administration of antibiotics and inflammation of tourniquets. Postoperative care is equally important at the surgery itself. An effective postoperative nurse care can decrease the patient's pain and decrease vasospasm in replantation surgeries ( Michalko and Bentz, 2002 ).

Compartment syndrome is a common complication in fracture, sprain, or orthopaedic surgery. Early identification of the symptoms can prevent the loss of a limb (Altizer, 2004).Pulse oximetry provides one of the best objective ways to monitor arterial blood flow. Patient monitoring is done hourly during the first 24 hours and then every 2 hours during the second 24-hour period after a surgery. This intense monitoring frequently is done in the ICU. Antibiotic chemotherapy is usually recommended for 5 days, but is always determined by the wound intensity. Bed rest minimizes vasospasm. Intake of chocolate, caffeine, and nicotine in any form is strictly prohibited in the postoperative period to avoid induction of vasospasm that could impede blood flow. Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) has been recommended for pain relief with relatively few side effects. But, IV PCA has been shown to cause respiratory depression (Brubakken and Shippee, 2004). Continuous low-dose infiltration of a local anesthetic into the postoperative wound incision for a 48-hour period has been shown to diminish the need for narcotics or other analgesics to reduce postoperative pain (Pulido, 2002). The use of a mechanical device for the lateral transfer has been shown to give comfort to the patients (Pellino, 2006).

Though most patients treated with casts do not have any significant orthopaedic problems, it is important to emphasize cast care instructions to young patients and their parents to alleviate itching, such as blowing cool air under the cast to reduce the risk of serious infectious complications (Carmichael, 2006).Tracking outcomes of interventions provides a systematic method of monitoring effectiveness and efficiency. The nurse should evaluate and choose appropriate measurement tools, and understand the clinical meaning of measurements to successfully employ these instruments (Resnik and Dobrykowski, 2005).

Nurse attitudes

Attitudes of nurses caring for orthopaedic patients affect the quality of care provided. A recent research on positive and negative attitudes of such nurses has shown that knowledge deficits shape most of the negative attitudes (Mary, 2000). The cultural background of nurses also has an influence on the attitudes and there are reports of nurse's disagreements with patient's self-report, especially in pain assessment (Harper, 2007).


Patient education is a critical component of orthopaedic nursing that requires nurse communication to maintain optimum independence and quality of life (Oldaker, 1992). A randomized controlled trial study with sixty six young adolescents to evaluate the effects of coping instruction and concrete-objective information on adolescents' postoperative pain and focus on potential applications of these interventions for orthopaedic nursing practice has shown that nurse interventions that direct adolescent patients' attention to learning coping strategies reduce the postoperative pain in such patients (LaMontagne, 2003). The gender, age and health condition also influences the communication. For example, it is difficult to communicate to or assess an old patient whose 'hearing capacity would be at a reasonably low level or whose perception has diminished due to aging. Nonverbal verbal communications do occur in nurse-patient communication. (Wilma, 1999).

Continuity of care

It may take several months of intense physical or occupational therapy for the patients to regain optimal function, especially after complicated orthopaedic surgical procedures like toe-tohand transplants. In such surgical procedures progressive joint mobilization, usually begins on the seventh to tenth postoperative day and Progressive resistive exercises are begun 4 weeks later to increase strength.

A recent conference convened to explore the strengths and weakness of the current continuum of care, develop recommendations for addressing problems in the system, and devise strategies for implementing the recommendations has brought out recommendations in four broad categories: Communication/Continuum of Care, Reimbursement, Prevention/Education, and Research Initiatives. A study examining the risk factors for falls and the effectiveness of physical therapy interventions to decrease the risk of falls in a community dwelling population has shown that an appropriately designed physical therapy intervention in the form of an exercise program can decrease the risk for falls among a community-dwelling aging population identified as having an increased risk of falls (Robinson, 2002). Massage therapy has been shown to be safe and effective for orthopaedic patients with low back problems and potentially beneficial for patients with other orthopaedic problems. Massage therapy appears to be safe, to have high patient satisfaction, and to reduce pain and dysfunction (Dryden, 2004).


There is a critical need to incorporate the use of latest technological innovations like guided imagery (Antall and Kresevic, 2004) and bone morphogenetic proteins (Boden, 2005) into all nursing curricula to improve the skills, interventions, communication and attitudes of orthopaedic nurses so that nurses can develop the expertise to act as patient educators and advocates in the use of these interventions. Early identification of the care problem is vital in orthopaedic nursing.


-- Carmichael, Kelly D.; Goucher, Nicholas R. (2006). Orthopaedic Essentials. Orthopaedic Nursing. 25(2):137- 139.

-- Carol V. Harvey (2005). Spinal Surgery Patient Care. Orthopaedic Nursing. 24 (6). 426 - 440.

-- Cindy Pfeiff (2006). The Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement (STAR). Orthopaedic Nursing.25 (1):30 - 33.

-- Courtney, Mary, Tong, Shilu, Walsh, Anne (2000). Acute-care nurses' attitudes towards older patients: A literature review. International Journal of Nursing Practice. 6(2):62-69.

-- Elwin R. Tilson et .al (2006). An Overview of Radiography, Computed Tomography, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Diagnosis of Lumbar Spine Pathology. Orthopaedic Nursing.25 (6): 415 - 420

-- Gloria F. Antall (2004). The Use of Guided Imagery to Manage Pain in an Elderly Orthopaedic Population. Orthopaedic Nursing. 23(5): 335 - 340.

-- Harper, Phil, Ersser, Steven and Gobbi, Mary (2007) How military nurses rationalize their postoperative pain assessment decisions. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 59, (6), 601-611.

-- Heather Chong (2004). Innovations: The Titanium Rib: Creating Room to Grow. Orthopaedic Nursing. 23(5): 348 - 349.

-- Jim Hanna (2007). Kyphoplasty: A Treatment for Osteoporotic Vertebral Compression Fractures. Orthopaedic Nursing.26 (6):342 - 346.

-- Julie Hummer-Bellmyer (2002). The Collaborative Role of the Perioperative Nurse Practitioner in Assessing Perioperative Patients. Orthopaedic Nursing. 21(1): 29- 44.

-- Kathleen A. Gross (2002). Vertebroplasty A New Therapeutic Option. Orthopaedic Nursing. 21(1): 23-29.

-- LaMontagne, Lynda; Hepworth, Joseph T.; Salisbury, Michele H.; Cohen, Frances. Effects of Coping Instruction in Reducing Young Adolescents' Pain after Major Spinal Surgery. Orthopaedic Nursing. 22(6):398- 403.

-- Linda Altizer (2003). Forearm and Humeral Fractures. Orthopaedic Nursing. 22 (4): 266 - 273. Lawrence C. Vogel (2004). Unique Issues in Pediatric Spinal Cord Injury. Orthopaedic Nursing. 23(5): 300-308.

-- Lydia Kobziff (2006). Traumatic Pelvic Fractures. Orthopaedic Nursing. 25(4):235 - 241.

-- Mary E. Hagle (2004). Respiratory Depression in Adult Patients with Intravenous Patient-Controlled Analgesia. Orthopaedic Nursing. 23(1): 18-27.

-- Mary Faut Rodts (2004). Total Disc Replacement Arthroplasty. Orthopaedic Nursing. 23(3): 216-219.

-- Maryann Godshall (2006). Toe-to-Hand Transplantation Surgery. Orthopaedic Nursing. 25(1):13 - 19.

-- Watters CL, Moran WP (2006). Hip fractures--a joint effort. Orthop Nurs. 25(3):157-65.

-- Wilma M.C.M (1999). Non Verbal behaviour in nurse elderly patient communication. Journal of Advanced Nursing 29: 808.

-- Wu ML, Courtney M, Berger G (2000). Models of nursing care: a comparative study of patient satisfaction on two orthopaedic wards in Brisbane. Aust J Adv Nurs.; 17(4):29-34.

Journal of Nursing

Journals belonging to the American Society of Registeres Nurses

The American Society of Registered Nurses (ASRN) was founded in May 2003 for the purpose of bringing together professional nurses interested in creating a nursing "society" which is defined as "A group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture".

This new Society brings together nurses from all fields of inquiry, regions, and specializations both inside and outside academe in order to expand the study and practice of nursing, and offer support, resources, education, and distinction to its members. The Society serves nurses in all 50 states as well as across the globe.

ASRN represents a community for all nursing voices. We invite registered nurses, international professionals, and new graduates to discover ASRN. Our goal is to advance nursing as a science and profession.
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Red Bull, Love It Or Hate It

Red Bull is a drink which is sold by Red Bull, GmbH, Austria. It is the brand name of the drink, which originated in Thailand and was adjusted to suit the European (Austrian) palate. According to the manufacturers, Red Bull is aimed at people wanting to combat mental and physical fatigue.

A 250 ml (8.3 fl. oz) can contains -

-- 21.5 g sucrose
Table sugar

-- 5.25 g of glucose
A 'simple' sugar.

-- 50 mg of inositol
A type of sugar which has a different chemical structure to glucose. It is a basic part of cell membranes - crucial in brain, nerve and muscle function. It comes from plants and can be commonly found in many foods. It is currently being studied for potential cancer prevention.

-- 1000 mg of taurine
Also known as 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, or sulfonic acid, it is an organic acid. It is a major ingredient of bile. It is also present in small amounts in living tissues of humans and most animals. Cats cannot synthesize taurine - it is essential for the health of a cat. Taurine deficiency will cause irreversible blindness in cats, as well as tooth decay and hair loss - plus some other negative health conditions. Studies have not convincingly shown taurine to be an energy booster when added to drinks.

-- 600 mg of glucuronolactone
A naturally occurring chemical compound produced by the human liver during glucose metabolism. It is a crucial component for nearly all our connective tissues. It is commonly found in plant gums. It is added to drinks because it is said to boost the consumer's energy.

-- 20 mg of Niacin
A type of Vitamin B that increases blood HDL levels (good cholesterol)

-- 5 mg of Vitamin B6
Also known as pyridoxine, we need it for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, and for myelin formation. People who suffer from pyridoxine deficiency have problems with their peripheral nerves, skin, mucous membranes and their blood cell system. The central nervous system of children with pyridoxine deficiency is affected. The number of people with mild pyridoxine deficiency is surprisingly higher than most of us realize.

-- 5 mg of Pantothenic Acid
Also called Vitamin B5. It is water-soluble - the body can't store it. If the body can't use all of the vitamin, the excess leaves the body through the urine. It must be replaced every day. As well as being essential for growth, it helps the body break down and use food (metabolism).

-- 0.005 mg of Vitamin B12
Also called cobalamin. We need it to make red blood cells and DNA - it is also used to keep nerves healthy. It is commonly given to cancer patients, along with folate, to help reduce the side-effects of cancer treatment with antimetabolites (type of drugs).

-- 80 mg of caffeine
It is the same compound as guaranine which is found in guarana, theine which is found in tea, and mateine which is found in mate. Caffeine is a mild diuretic (a substance which increases the amount of urine you pass - it makes you shed more water/liquid). Caffeine acts as a psychoactive stimulant drug. In humans caffeine can restore alertness temporarily. It is commonly found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks. It is the most popular psychoactive substance on earth.

Sugar-free Red Bull has no sucrose or glucose, and has aspartame and acesulfame potassium instead.

The makers of Red Bull say it is made so that it tastes of mixed berried. In 2006 over 3 billion cans of Red Bull were sold around the world, generating sales of 2.6 billion Euros.

A 250 ml can of Red Bull has about the same amount of caffeine as one would find in a 250 ml cup of coffee - about double what you would consume if you had a 330 ml can of Coke.

Some countries, such as France, have banned the sale of Red Bull, mainly because of its taurine and caffeine content and its popularity with young teenagers. Norway, Uruguay, Denmark and Iceland do not allow the sale of Red Bull.

Is Red Bull a Health Risk?

Red Bull is a controversial product. People either love or hate the taste, defend it faithfully or attack it furiously. Most studies have not shown that Red Bull is a serious hazard to health. However, as it can raise some people's heart rate and blood pressure some health care professionals advise those with heart conditions and hypertension to be careful.

Red Bull is very popular with young people. It is commonly mixed with vodka to make a cocktail. Some young people can consume excessive amounts of Red Bull and require medical attention.

Two weeks ago a 15-year-old boy suffered heart palpitations in Darlington, UK, after a Red Bull binge, according to paramedics. He had consumed eight cans in one sitting and had to be taken to the Memorial Hospital, Darlington on February 14th, 2008.

A Brazilian study found that those who mix Red Bull with alcohol may be drunker than they think they are - the energy drink may mask the alcohol effect.
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5 Tips To Increase HDL Cholesterol

Thanks to powerful cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, driving down low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, has been the primary approach to improving cholesterol levels. But there's more to the story of cholesterol and cardiovascular risk than LDL alone. Another key player is high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the "good" cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL are associated with lower cardiovascular risk. The good news about this good cholesterol is that simple lifestyle changes can help boost HDL, reports in issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch.

HDL removes LDL from artery walls and ferries it to the liver for processing or removal. HDL also fights potentially dangerous inflammation and clot formation. According to a recent review of research on HDL, there's some evidence that increasing HDL can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke even without changes in LDL.

Harvard Women's Health Watch suggests several things people can do to nudge up HDL levels. Most of these strategies also improve health in other ways.

1. Get aerobic exercise. Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise can boost HDL by 5% to 10%. Aim for five 30-minute sessions per week.

2. Lose weight if you need to. If you're overweight or obese, you can boost your HDL level by about 1 mg/dL for every seven pounds lost, although any amount of weight loss will help.

3. If you smoke, quit. HDL levels rise by as much as 15% to 20% after you quit.

4. Eat a healthy diet. Avoid trans fats, which increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol. Avoid highly refined carbohydrates, such as white-flour products.

5. Consider medications. Niacin, available over the counter, is the most effective HDL-raising medication available. Niacin can be strong medicine work with your clinician if you want to try it.

Harvard Women's Health Watch
Harvard Health Publications Harvard Medical School 10 Shattuck St., Ste. 612
Cambridge, MA 02115
United States
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Stress In Pregnancy Affects Baby's Immune System

New research from the US suggests that women who are stressed during pregnancy, for example struggling with financial or relationship issues, are more likely to have babies with immune-related problems such as allergies and asthma.

The research is the work of scientists from Harvard Medical School, Boston, and other colleagues, and was presented at a recent meeting of the American Thoracic Society in Toronto, Canada, on Sunday.

Animal studies have already shown that the immune system of offspring is more sensitive to allergens when mothers are stressed when pregnant.

In this study on human subjects, the researchers said their results suggested the same is probably true of humans: the stress experienced by a pregnant mother may translate into long term health problems for her child.

Co-author Dr Rosalind Wright, of Harvard Medical School said in a prepared statement reported by Reuters that:

"This research adds to a growing body of evidence that links maternal stress such as that precipitated by financial problems or relationship issues to changes in children's developing immune systems, even during pregnancy."

According to the Washington Post, Wright, who is also an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, added that:

"Moms who had elevated levels of stress had children who seemed to be more reactive to allergens, even when exposed to low levels of allergens."

Dr Junette Peters, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, said perhaps stress made women more susceptible to allergens by making their "cells more permeable", and they pass this on to their offspring.

To carry out their study, Wright, Peters and colleagues examined the IgE level of umbilical cord blood taken during the birth of 387 babies in Boston.

IgE stands for immunoglobulin E, an antibody that indicates how sensitive the immune system is to allergens such as dust mites.

The mothers completed surveys about their stress exposure in different areas. Financial pressure, home pressure, safety in the community, problems in relationships, and medical issues, were the most frequently mentioned, said the Washington Post. The dust mite levels in their homes was also assessed.

The researchers found that the mothers who were under the most stress (measured in terms of the number of problem domains reported) while pregnant gave birth to babies with high levels of IgE in their cord blood, even though the level of dust mites in their home environment was low.

This suggested that the stress of the mother was contributing to the higher IgE sensitivity of the baby. This relationship was still significant after the researchers took into account the mother's class, race, education and smoking history, reported Reuters.

Wright said it was as though stress itself acted like a social pollutant that influenced the body's immune response.

The results from this study seem to reinforce the findings from Dr Andrea Danese and colleagues at the University of London, who found adults who were treated badly in childhood, for instance they had been rejected by their mothers or sexually abused, had twice the levels of inflammation markers like C-reactive protein and fibrinogen in their blood compared to those that had not. Such inflammatory markers can increase a person's risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

Danese presented his research results at a conference in Chicago last week, said Reuters, who reported his comments:

"Stress in childhood may modify developmental trajectories and have a long-term effect on disease risk," said Danese, who suggested that being mistreated as a child could reduce an adult's ability to respond to stress by reducing the action of glucocorticoid inflammation inhibitors, which can result in depresson and other mental illnesses.

Sources: Reuters, Washington Post.
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