Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Your Baby

Babies Shouldn’t Be Given OTC Cold Medicines

2:00

When a baby is sick with a cold, the first reaction for many parents is to want to give their infant something to make him or her feel better. It’s a natural response; no parent likes to see their little one feeling bad. But turning to the medicine cabinet or making a trip to the pharmacy isn’t going to help your baby get better any quicker and could be dangerous says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine should not be given to children younger than 2 because they could cause serious and potentially deadly side effects, the agency warned.

Children often get more colds than adults, and parents might want to give them pain relievers, decongestants and other medicines, but that would be a mistake. The FDA says the best medicine is simple rest and care.

"A cold is self-limited, and patients will get better on their own in a week or two without any need for medications. For older children, some OTC medicines can help relieve the symptoms -- but won't change the natural course of the cold or make it go away faster," Dr. Amy Taylor, a medical officer in FDA's Division of Pediatric and Maternal Health, said in the news release.

A virus is what typically brings on a cold, but people often ask their physician or pediatrician (for their children) for antibiotics to treat them. Antibiotics are only useful for treating bacterial infections.

Colds are usually accompanied by coughing which can actually be useful to the body.

"Coughs help the body clear the mucus out of the airway and protect the lungs; so you don't want to suppress all coughs," Taylor said.

"Coughs help the body clear the mucus out of the airway and protect the lungs; so you don't want to suppress all coughs," she said.

Fever helps the body fight off an infection and does not always need to be treated. But if your child is uncomfortable because of fever or other symptoms of a cold, there are alternatives to cough and cold medicine to help them feel more comfortable. Taylor says they include the following actions:

·      Using a clean cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier in a small area near the child’s bed may help moisten the air and decrease the drying of the nasal passages and throat.

·      For infants with a stuffy nose, use saline or salt water drops/spray to moisten the nasal passages and loosen the mucus. Then clean the nose with a bulb syringe.

Non-drug treatments to ease coughs in children with colds include giving them plenty of fluids, especially warm drinks to soothe the throat.

While most children with colds do not need to see a doctor, Taylor said parents should call the doctor if they see any of these symptoms:

·      A fever in an infant aged 2 months or younger, or a fever of 102 Fahrenheit or higher at any age.

·       Signs of breathing problems, including nostrils widening with each breath, wheezing, fast breathing or the ribs showing with each breath.

·      Blue lips, ear pain, not eating or drinking, signs of dehydration.

·      Excessive crankiness or sleepiness, a cough that lasts for more than three weeks, or worsening condition.

·      A persistent cough may signal a more serious condition such as bronchitis or asthma.

"You have to know your child," Taylor said. "With small infants, fever is a major concern, and you need medical advice. If you are worried about your child's symptoms, at any age, call your pediatrician for advice."

The FDA voluntarily removed cough and cold products for children under two years old from the market because of on-going safety concerns discussed in 2007.  These safety concerns revealed that there were many reports of harm, and even death, to children who used these products.  These reports of harm occurred when the child received too medication such as in cases as accidental ingestion, unintentional overdose, or after a medication dosing error.  In those reports of harm that lead to a child’s death, most of those children were under two years of age.  

Since infant formulations of cough and cold products were voluntarily removed from the market years ago, parents who currently give these products to their infants (less than 2 years of age) may be using cough and cold products designed for older children and modifying the doses, for instance by giving half the recommended amount to the infant than what is recommended for an older child.  This can be especially dangerous as dosing adjustments cannot safely be made this way and could add to the existing risk of giving these products to young children.

Colds can be tough on children and adults and this is certainly the time of year when we all are more susceptible to getting one. Fluids and plenty of rest, plus sanitizing the area around the sick person and not sharing objects like silverware and drinking cups is the best treatment for colds. And of course the most important cold remedy for baby is mommy and daddy’s love and tender touch. 

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/common-cold-news-142/steer-clear-of-cold-meds-for-babies-fda-advises-693878.html

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/SpecialFeatures/ucm263948.htm

Your Baby

Special Baby Formulas Don’t Prevent Asthma, Allergies

2:00

Parents that have a baby at risk or allergies, asthma or type-1 Diabetes sometimes turn to hydrolyzed milk formulas in hopes of lowering their infant’s risk of developing these problems.

A new review of the data on hydrolyzed formulas finds that there is no evidence that they actually protect children from these types of autoimmune disorders.

"We found no consistent evidence to support a protective role for partially or extensively hydrolyzed formula," concluded a team led by Robert Boyle of Imperial College London in England.

"Our findings conflict with current international guidelines, in which hydrolyzed formula is widely recommended for young formula-fed infants with a family history of allergic disease," the study authors added.

In the study, Boyle's team looked at data from 37 studies that together included more than 19,000 participants and were conducted between 1946 and 2015.

The investigators found that infants who received hydrolyzed cow's milk formula did not have a lower risk of asthma, allergies (such as eczema, hay fever, food allergies) or type 1 diabetes compared to those who received human breast milk or a standard cow's milk formula.

The researchers also found no evidence to support an FDA-approved claim that a partially hydrolyzed formula could reduce the risk of the skin disorder eczema, or another conclusion that hydrolyzed formula could prevent an allergy to cow's milk.

Other experts in the United States said that the finding casts doubt on the usefulness of these kinds of specialized products.

"Allergies and autoimmune diseases [such as asthma, and type 1 diabetes] are on the rise and it would be nice if we did have a clear route to preventing them," said Dr. Ron Marino, associate chair of pediatrics at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

"Unfortunately, despite U.S. Food and Drug Administration support [for hydrolyzed formula], the data are not compelling," he said.

Dr. Punita Ponda is assistant chief of allergy and immunology at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. She stressed that when it comes to infant feeding, breast milk is by far the healthiest option.

However, "current mainstream guidelines for infant formula do recommend that parents consider using hypoallergenic formula if a close family member -- like an older brother or sister -- has a food allergy," she said. That was based on prior studies supporting some kind of protective effect, Ponda said.

Protein hydrolysate formulas were first introduced in the 1940s for babies who could not tolerate the milk protein in cow’s milk.

Protein hydrolyzed formulas are formulas composed of proteins that are partially broken down or “hydrolyzed.” They are also called hydrolysates.

There are two broad categories of protein hydrolysates:

•       Partially hydrolyzed formulas (pHF)

•       Extensively hydrolyzed formulas (eHF)

Both partially and extensively hydrolyzed protein formulas are based on casein or whey, which are proteins found in milk.  

Hydrolyzed formulas have had the protein chains broken down into shorter and more easy-to -digest chains. The more extensively hydrolyzed the formula, the fewer potentially allergenic compounds remain.

Hydrolyzed formulas are also more expensive than regular cow’s milk formulas and often harder to find.

The researchers review was published March 08, 2016 in the BMJ.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20160308/special-infant-formulas-dont-shield-against-asthma-allergies-study

Victoria Groce, http://foodallergies.about.com/od/adultfoodallergies/p/hypoallergenic.htm

 

Your Baby

Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Reduce Baby’s Asthma Risk

2:00

A Danish study’s results suggests pregnant women that take a fish oil supplement during the final 3 months of pregnancy may reduce their baby’s risk of developing asthma or persistent wheezing.

The study involved 736 pregnant women, in their third trimester. Half the women took a placebo containing olive oil and the other group was given 2.4 grams of fish oil. The women took the supplements until one week after birth.

Among children whose mothers took fish-oil capsules, 16.9 percent had asthma by age 3, compared with 23.7 percent whose mothers were given placebos. The difference, nearly 7 percentage points, translates to a risk reduction of about 31 percent.

In the study, the researchers noted that they are not ready to recommend that pregnant women routinely take fish oil. Although the results of the study were positive, several experts have noted that more research needs to be done before higher doses of fish oil supplements are recommended over eating more fish.

Researchers found no adverse effects in the mothers or babies, the doses were high, 2.4 grams per day is 15 to 20 times what most Americans consume from foods.

One in five young children are affected by asthma and wheezing disorders. In recent decades, the rate has more than doubled in Western countries. Previous research has shown that those conditions are more prevalent among babies whose mothers have low levels of fish oil in their bodies. The new large-scale test, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, is the first to see if supplements can actually lower the risk.

Before doctors can make any recommendations, the study should be replicated, and fish oil should be tested earlier in pregnancy and at different doses, Dr. Hans Bisgaard, the leading author of the study, said in an email to the New York Times. He is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Copenhagen and the head of research at the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood, an independent research unit.

Dr. Bisgaard said it was not possible to tell from the study whether pregnant women could benefit from simply eating more fish. Pregnant women are generally advised to limit their consumption of certain types of fish like swordfish and tuna because they contain mercury. But many other types are considered safe, especially smaller fish like sardines that are not at the top of the food chain and therefore not likely to accumulate mercury and other contaminants from eating other fish.

“It is possible that a lower dose would have sufficed," the Bisgaard team said.

The supplements didn't seem to affect the odds of a baby or toddler developing the skin condition eczema, or an allergy such as a reaction to milk or egg products, or a severe asthma attack.

An editorial in the same journal by an expert who was not part of the study praised the research, saying it was well designed and carefully performed. The author of that editorial, Dr. Christopher E. Ramsden, from the National Institutes of Health, said the findings would help doctors develop a “precision medicine” approach in which fish-oil treatment could be tailored to women who are most likely to benefit.

If the findings are confirmed in other populations, doctors could test to see who would mostly likely benefit from fish oil supplements. "The health care system is currently not geared for such," Bisgaard said. "But clearly this would be the future."

If you are considering taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy, be sure and check with your OB/GYN for a recommended dose.

All fish oils are not the same. Some brands of fish oil are of higher quality than others. A reputable fish oil manufacturer should be able to provide documentation of third-party lab results that show the purity levels of their fish oil, down to the particles per trillion level. Also, if the supplements smell or taste fishy, they shouldn’t. High quality fish oil supplements don’t. Avoid fish oils that have really strong or artificial flavors added to them because they are most likely trying to hide the fishy flavor of rancid oil.

Story sources: Denise Grady, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/health/fish-oil-asthma-pregnancy.html?WT.mc_id=SmartBriefs-Newsletter&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=smartbriefsnl

Gene Emery, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-asthma-fish-oil-idUSKBN14H1T3

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/omega-3-fish-oil/

 

Your Baby

Study: Fracking Linked to Babies Low Birth Weight

High volume fracturing, also known as fracking, has increased in production all through the United States. The process allows access to large amounts of natural gas trapped in shale deposits by utilizing natural gas wells.

These types of wells were once more likely to be found in rural settings but are now increasingly located in and near populated neighborhoods.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has found a link between mothers who live close to high volume fracking wells and an increased risk of having a lower birth weight baby.

Researchers analyzed the birth records of more than 15,400 babies born in Pennsylvania's Washington, Westmoreland and Butler counties between 2007 and 2010.

Women who lived close to a high number of natural gas fracking sites were 34 percent more likely to have babies who were "small for gestational age" than mothers who did not live close to a large number of such wells, the study found.

Small for gestational age means a baby is smaller than normal based on the number of weeks the baby has been in the womb, according to the March of Dimes.

The findings held true even after other factors were accounted for such as whether the mother smoked, her race, age, education and prenatal care. Also taken into account was whether she had previous children and the baby’s gender.

Like other cities around the country, the number of fracking sites in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale has increased substantially in the last few years. In 2007 there were 44 wells; by 2010, more than 2,800.

"Our work is a first for our region and supports previous research linking unconventional gas development and adverse health outcomes," study co-author Bruce Pitt, chair of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, said in a university news release.

"These findings cannot be ignored. There is a clear need for studies in larger populations with better estimates of exposure and more in-depth medical records," he added.

The main concerns around fracking sites are the air and noise pollution and waste fluids.

"Developing fetuses are particularly sensitive to the effects of environmental pollutants. We know that fine particulate air pollution, exposure to heavy metals and benzene, and maternal stress all are associated with lower birth weight," Pitt said.

While the study provides an association between fracking and lower weight babies, it does not prove that living close to a high concentration of natural gas fracking sites causes lower birth weights. Researchers said that they believe the study’s findings warrant further investigations.

The study was published online in the June edition of the journal PLOS One.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/environment-health-news-233/fracking-linked-to-low-birth-weight-babies-700018.html

Your Baby

BPA Consumed During Pregnancy Linked to Obesity in Kids

1:45

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities and used primarily in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

You’ll find polycarbonate plastics in some plastic water bottles, food storage containers and plastic tableware. Epoxy resins are used in lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes.

The primary source of exposure to BPA for many people is through food and beverages.

Why should you be concerned about Bisphenol A?

BPA is thought to act as an endocrine disruptor--a compound that mimics or disrupts hormones produced by the human body. Previous research has linked BPA to asthma, ADHD, depression, anxiety and early puberty in girls. It has also been linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease in adults.

A new study has also found a possible link between BPA and child obesity.

Researchers at Columbia University found that children of women exposed to BPA during pregnancy were likely to have more body fat by age seven. Increased body fat has been linked to a higher risk of obesity.

"This study provides evidence that prenatal exposure to BPA may contribute to developmental origins of obesity as determined by measures of body fat in children as opposed to the traditional indicator of body mass index, which only considers height and weight,” lead author of the study. Lori Hoepner, DrPH, said in a press release.

Dr. Hoepner and her colleagues studied 369 maternal-child pairs from pregnancy through early childhood.

The researchers collected urine samples during the last three months of pregnancy.

Urine samples were also collected from the children at ages three and five. The children's heights and weights were measured at age five and age seven.

At age seven the researchers also measured waist circumference and fat mass.

The researchers found 94 percent of the women had BPA in their urine--an indication that they had been exposed to the chemical.

Dr. Hoepner and colleagues found that children who had been exposed to BPA in the womb had a higher body fat mass. Even though the children might have been within the normal ranges for height and weight, they had a greater percentage of fat than would be normal at that age.

The researchers found a strong association between BPA, fat mass and waist circumference in girls. They also found that childhood exposure to BPA was not associated with fat mass, indicating that the prenatal exposure was the problem.

Some studies indicate that infants and children may be the most vulnerable to the effects of BPA. This new study also suggests that pregnant women might want to avoid BPA products.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offers these tips for reducing BPA exposure:

•       Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures. Use glass or ceramics for microwaving foods.

•       Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.

•       Reduce your use of canned foods. Choose glass or other safe packaging or fresh or frozen foods when possible.

•       Opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.

•       Use baby bottles that are BPA free. 

The study was published in the May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

Story sources: Beth Greenwood, http://www.dailyrxnews.com/prenatal-exposure-bpa-was-associated-increased-fat-mass-children-columbia-university-study-found

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/

 

Your Baby

Antibiotics Not Effective for Mild Eczema in Kids

2:00

As many as 10 percent of all infants have some form of eczema, a condition that usually develops between the ages of 2 and 6 months, and almost always before the age of 5 years old. Kids with eczema usually develop itchy, dry, red skin with small bumps on their cheeks, forehead or scalp. The rash may spread to the arms and legs and the trunk, and red, crusted, or open lesions may appear on any area affected.

They also may have circular, slightly raised, itchy, and scaly rashes in the bends of the elbows, behind the knees, or on the backs of the wrists and ankles.

Eczema is not contagious, so there's no need to keep a baby or child who has it away from siblings, other kids, or anyone else.

Antibiotics are often prescribed as a treatment, but a new study says that they are not effective for milder cases in children.

"This is a good example of a common situation in medicine," said Dr. Michael Grosso. "A particular intervention 'makes sense,' becomes common practice -- and often becomes the so-called 'standard of care' -- only to be proved ineffective when the therapy is subjected to scientific investigation."

Eczema is an immunological condition affecting both children and adults.

Dr. Craig Osleeb explained, "Children with eczema have an overabundance of the bacteria normally found on skin." He is a pediatric allergist at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

"The excessive colonization of bacteria can exacerbate symptoms by causing infection and/or triggering inflammation," Osleeb said. So, "antibiotics have often been used to quell eczema exacerbations."

Doctors are concerned that, over time, bacteria can develop a resistance to antibiotics, opening the door for dangerous drug-resistant “superbug” infections. While once a very popular treatment, doctors are now leaning towards reducing the number of antibiotic prescriptions to treat certain cases.

The new study, led by Nick Francis of Cardiff University in Wales, included 113 children with non-severe, infected eczema who were randomly selected to join one of three groups.

The children received either an antibiotic pill plus a "dummy" placebo cream; a placebo pill and an antibiotic cream; or placebo pill plus placebo cream (the "control" group).

After watching outcomes for two weeks, four weeks and then three months, the British team found no significant differences between the three groups in terms of easing of eczema symptoms.

Researchers found that the children with non-severe eczema, given the antibiotics either in a pill or a cream, did not benefit from the treatment. The study authors added that such use might even promote antibiotic resistance or additional skin sensitization.

Francis and his team noted that the study focused only on kids with a milder form of eczema, so the results may not apply to children with more infected eczema.

Osleeb agreed. For children battling milder eczema outbreaks, "corticosteroid creams alone will suffice," he said, but "this study does not eliminate the potential role of antibiotics in more moderate to severe eczema exacerbations."

Diagnosing eczema can be challenging because each child has a unique combination of symptoms, which can vary in severity. Treatments can consist of topical corticosteroid creams, antihistamines and in some instances, ultraviolet light under the supervision of a dermatologist.

Some children will outgrow eczema and some may continue to have symptoms during their teens and into adulthood.

If you suspect your baby or young child may have eczema, have your child seen by your pediatrician for diagnosis and treatment options.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/diseases-and-conditions-information-37/eczema-news-618/skip-the-antibiotics-for-mild-eczema-in-kids-720482.html

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/eczema-atopic-dermatitis.html#

Your Baby

Chubby Baby = Obese Child?

2.00 to read

“Look at those cute little rolls of fat and chubby cheeks.” “It’s just baby-fat, he’ll grow out of it.” Common comments when people see a chubby baby. But, what was once thought of as a well-fed and healthy infant might prove to be just the opposite.

Researchers say they’ve found a way to determine if a rapid growing baby will become obese later in life. A new study says that if your baby has passed two key milestones, on a doctor’s growth chart by the age of two, then he or she has double the risk of being obese by the age of 5.  Rapid growers were also more likely to be obese at age 10, and infants whose chart numbers climbed that much during their first 6 months faced the greatest risks.

Children who grew more slowly were less likely to be obese by the same age.

That kind of rapid growth should be a red flag to doctors, and a sign to parents that babies might be overfed or spending too much time in strollers and not enough crawling around, said pediatrician Dr. Elsie Taveras, the study's lead author and an obesity researcher at Harvard Medical School.

Contrary to the idea that chubby babies are the picture of health, the study bolsters evidence that "bigger is not better" in infants, she said.

In an online article on healthland.time.com Dr. Michelle Lampl, director of Emory University's Center for the Study of Human Health, expressed concerns.

“It’s a bad idea that could backfire in the long run,” said Lampl.

"It reads like a very handy rule and sounds like it would be very useful _ and that's my concern," Lampl said. The guide would be easy to use to justify feeding infants less and to unfairly label them as fat. It could also prompt feeding patterns that could lead to obesity later, she said.

Lampl noted that many infants studied crossed at least two key points on growth charts; yet only 12 percent were obese at age 5 and slightly more at age 10. Nationally, about 10 percent of preschool-aged children are obese, versus about 19 percent of those aged 6 to 11.

Taveras said the rapid growth shown in the study should be used to raise awareness and not to put babies on a diet.

The study involved 45,000 infants and children younger than age 11 who had routine growth measurements during doctor checkups in the Boston area from 1980 through 2008.

Growth charts help pediatricians plot weight, length in babies and height in older kids in relation to other children their same age and sex. Pediatricians sometimes combine an infant's measures to calculate weight-for-length _ the equivalent of body-mass index, or BMI, a height-to-weight ratio used in older children and adults.

The charts are organized into percentiles. For example, infants at the 75th percentile for weight are heavier than 75 percent of their peers.

An infant whose weight-for-length jumped from the 19th percentile at 1 month to the 77th at 6 months crossed three major percentiles _ the 25th, 50th and 75th _ and would be at risk for obesity later in childhood, the authors said.

Larger infants were most at risk for obesity later on, but even smaller babies whose growth crossed at least two percentiles were at greater risk than those who grew more slowly.

About 40 percent of infants crossed at least two percentiles by age 6 months. An analysis of more than one-third of the study children found that 64 percent grew that rapidly by age 2.

Dr. Joanna Lewis, a pediatrician at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., said she supports the idea that infancy is not too young to start thinking about obesity.

Still, she emphasized that rapid growth in infancy doesn't mean babies are doomed to become obese. "It's not a life sentence," and there are steps parents can take to keep their babies at a healthy weight without restrictive diets, she said.

Lewis said many of her patients are large babies whose parents feed them juice or solid food despite guidelines recommending nothing but breast milk or formula in the first six months.

"The study reinforces what we try to tell parents already: Delay starting solids and don't put juice in a bottle," Lewis said.

Your Baby

Kid’s Exposure to Dogs May Help Prevent Asthma

1:30

It may sound like the opposite would be true, but a new study suggests that when children are exposed to dogs and other animals early on, they’re less likely to have asthma later in life.

Researchers looked at more than one million Swedish children. They found that those who grew up with dogs in the home were nearly 15 percent less likely to develop asthma than those not exposed to dogs.

This ties in with an earlier study that showed children who grow up on farms also have lower rates of asthma.

The study was led by author Tove Fall, assistant professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden. In a university news release, she noted that "earlier studies have shown that growing up on a farm reduces a child's risk of asthma to about half. We wanted to see if this relationship also was true for children growing up with dogs in their homes."

Fall said, "Our results confirmed the farming effect and we also saw that children who grew up with dogs had about 15 percent less asthma than children without dogs. Because we had access to such a large and detailed data set, we could account for confounding factors such as asthma in parents, area of residence and socioeconomic status."

Study senior author Catarina Almqvist Malmros, a professor of clinical epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, stressed that the finding is only relates to children who have not yet developed asthma or allergies.

"We know that children with established allergy to cats or dogs should avoid them," she said in the news release.

What about other pets, such as cats, birds or hamsters?  The jury is still out on that one.

"In this study, early exposure to dogs and farm animals reduced asthma risk, and this may or may not include other types of pets that children keep," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "The takeaway is that early exposure may reduce the incidence of a later pathological process," he said.

Experts have begin to warn parents that children raised in too sterile an environment are more prone to developing allergies and reactions to common bacteria and pet dander.  A little dirt and dander may be just what the doctor orders now to help prevent allergies and asthma later.

The findings were recently published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/asthma-news-47/dogs-in-the-home-may-lower-kids-odds-for-asthma-study-finds-704764.html

Your Baby

“Revolutionary” Newborn Has 3 Parents

1:45

There’s been a first in the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to help parents avoid passing on a fatal rare disease to their baby.

In what many medical experts are calling a “revolutionary” medical event, a baby with DNA from three donors has been born.

As first reported in New Scientist, a science and technology magazine published in the U.K., the baby boy was born on April 6, 2016 and doctors say he appears healthy. His parents were treated by U.S. fertility specialists in Mexico, where there are no laws prohibiting such methods. His mother carries a genetic mutation for Leigh syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that usually becomes apparent in the first year of life and is generally fatal.

The newborn’s mother had suffered four miscarriages and had two children who died from Leigh syndrome, one at age six and one at eight months. It’s a devastating disease for parents and children. Symptoms of Leigh disease usually progress rapidly and lead to generalized weakness, a lack of muscle tone and a buildup of lactic acid in the body, which can cause respiratory and kidney problems. Children rarely live more than six or seven years.

While the mother herself is healthy, a gene for the disease resides in her DNA, in the mitochondria that powers cells. In this mother’s case, about 25 percent of her mitochondria reportedly carries the disease-causing mutation.

In order to avoid transferring the disease, the couple sought help from Dr. John Zhang, a reproductive endocrinologist at New Hope Fertility Center in New York City. 

“This mitochondrial disease is usually a very devastating situation for the babies and the family,” Zhang told CBS News.

The controversial procedure involved using the three-parent IVF technique to ensure that the disease mutation would not be passed along to the baby. So far, it seems to have worked.

The procedure, called spindle nuclear transfer, involves removing the healthy nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs and transferring it to a donor-egg, which had, had its nucleus removed. The resulting egg – with nuclear DNA from the mother and mitochondrial DNA from a donor – was then fertilized with the father’s sperm. 

The resulting embryo contained genetic material from three parents – the mother, the egg donor, and the father.

According to New Scientist, the scientists in this case created five embryos using the technique. Only one developed normally and that embryo was implanted in the mother.

The baby has not shown any signs of developing the illness, Zhang said. His mitochondria have been tested and less than one percent carries the mutation, believed to be too low a level to lead to disease.

The controversial fertility method is not legal in the United States. Zhang told New Scientist that they conducted the procedure in Mexico because “there are no rules” there.

The procedure received widespread media attention when lawmakers in the U.K. became the first to approve its use last year.

Sian Harding, a medical professor and bioethics adviser who reviewed the ethics of the technique in the U.K., told New Scientist the case seems to have been handled according to ethical standards.

“It’s as good as or better than what we’ll do in the U.K.,” said Harding.

Much of the controversy surrounding this procedure involves safety and religious concerns.

Harding notes that this is not the first time multiple DNA has been used to try and create a healthy baby. “Last time embryologists tried to create a baby using DNA from three people was in the 1990s, when they injected mitochondrial DNA from a donor into another woman’s egg, along with sperm from her partner. Some of the babies went on to develop genetic disorders, and the technique was banned. The problem may have arisen from the babies having mitochondria from two sources.”

In Britain, where the procedure allowing DNA from three parents was approved in February 2015, leaders disagreed heatedly on the issue while it was up for debate in the House of Commons, with some raising concerns about “designer babies” and “playing God.” Leading churches in Britain – both Protestant and Catholic – opposed the procedure on religious and ethical grounds.

Medical and moral concerns about this IVF method are most likely going to continue as experts look for ways to refine the controversial procedure.

But for one couple, being able to cradle their newborn - that shows no sign of carrying the deadly Leigh disease - will forever be a precious gift. 

Story source: Mary Brophy Marcus, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/first-3-parent-dna-baby-born-rare-disease/

 

Pages

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Which viruses are gearing up for summer?

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.