Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Your Child

Another Study Finds No Vaccine –Autism Connection

2:00

A new study, using insurance records for nearly 96,000 U.S. children, found no link between the measles - mumps – rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism – even among children who are at an increased genetic risk.

Experts are hoping that this study, along with several other studies on the risks of autism and the MMR vaccine, will reassure parents that the vaccine is safe.

While the original 1998 study associating the vaccine with autism has been found fraudulent, many parents continue to worry that the vaccine could be a trigger for autism; particularly parents that already have a child with autism.

"Research has shown that parents of kids with autism spectrum disorders are more likely to delay vaccinating their younger children," said Dr. Bryan King, an autism researcher at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

"Basically, they wait until the developmental dust has settled, and it looks like their child will be unaffected (by autism)," said King, who wrote an editorial published with the study.

Health officials are concerned that children who do not receive the MMR vaccine are putting other children at risk for serious diseases. They point to the recent measles outbreaks as one example. So far this year, 162 people have been sickened across 16 states and Washington D.C. according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Scientists are working hard to find out why there has been an increase in autism over the last decade.  It's known that genes make certain children more vulnerable to autism -- that's why kids with an affected older sibling are at higher-than-average risk. But environmental factors also have to play a role, experts believe.

Based on years of research, the MMR vaccine is not that trigger, according to health experts. "Every study that's looked at this, through every strategy they've used, has found no signal," King said.

According to King, it's natural for parents with a child who has autism to want to reduce their younger kids' risk.

"Everyone believes there have to be environmental factors contributing to the exponential rise we've seen in ASDs," he said. "But we don't understand what those factors are yet."

Researchers are finding clues, though. And more and more, they suspect that prenatal brain development is the critical period, King said.

The new findings are based on insurance records for nearly 96,000 U.S. children with an older brother or sister; 2 percent had an older sibling with an autism spectrum disorder.

Of the children with an affected sibling, 7 percent had an autism spectrum disorder themselves, compared to just under 1 percent of other kids. There was no evidence, though, that the MMR vaccination raised the risk of autism in either group of children, Jain said.

Among kids with an affected sibling, those who'd received one MMR dose by age 2 were actually one-quarter less likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, the study found. The odds were even lower among those who'd received two doses by age 5.

The study did not reveal any evidence that the MMR vaccine offered any protective influence over autism, only that it was not associated with an increase of risk for autism.

More studies are in the works to find the source of autism. Environmental factors are playing a key role in many of those studies as well as genetic links.

It’s understandable that parents would worry about vaccinations of any kind having a negative effect on their child, but more and more studies confirm that the MMR vaccine is one that parents can eliminate from their list of concerns.

This study was reported in the April 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Source: Amy Norton, http://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/autism-news-51/another-study-finds-no-vaccine-autism-link-698635.html

Your Baby

Eating Fish During Pregnancy Benefits Baby’s Brain Development

2:00

Can eating more fish during pregnancy help babies’ brains function better as they grow older? Yes, according to a new study from Spain. The researchers say that mothers who eat three substantial servings of fish – each week- during pregnancy may be giving their children an advantage as they mature.

Researchers followed nearly 2,000 mother-child pairs from the first trimester of pregnancy through the child’s fifth birthday and found improved brain function in the kids whose mothers ate the most fish while pregnant, compared to children of mothers who ate the least.

Even when women averaged 600 grams, or 21 ounces, of fish weekly during pregnancy, there was no sign that mercury or other pollutants associated with fish were having a negative effect that offset the apparent benefits.

“Seafood is known to be an important source of essential nutrients for brain development, but at the same time accumulates mercury from the environment, which is known to be neurotoxic,” lead author Jordi Julvez, of the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, said in an email to Reuters Health.

This important health concern prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to come up with a guideline for pregnant women in 2014. It encourages women to eat more fish during pregnancy, but limit the intake to no more than 12 ounces per week.

For this study, researchers analyzed data from the Spanish Childhood and Environment Project, a large population study that recruited women in their first trimester of pregnancy, in four provinces of Spain, between 2004 and 2008.

Julvez and colleagues focused on records of the women’s consumption of large fatty fish such as swordfish and albacore tuna, smaller fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies or salmon, and lean fish such as hake or sole, as well as shellfish and other seafood.

Women were tested for blood levels of vitamin D and iodine, and cord blood was tested after delivery to measure fetal exposure to mercury and PCB pollutants. At ages 14 months and five years, the children underwent tests of their cognitive abilities and Asperger Syndrome traits to assess their neuropsychological development.

On average, the women had consumed about 500 g, or three servings, of seafood per week while pregnant. But with every additional 10 g per week above that amount, children’s test scores improved, up to about 600 g. The link between higher maternal consumption and better brain development in children was especially apparent when kids were five.

The researchers also saw a consistent reduction in autism-spectrum traits with increased maternal fish consumption.

Mothers’ consumption of lean fish and large fatty fish appeared most strongly tied to children’s scores, and fish intake during the first trimester, compared to later in pregnancy, also had the strongest associations.

“I think that in general people should follow the current recommendations,” Julvez said. “Nevertheless this study pointed out that maybe some of them, particularly the American ones, should be less stringent.”

Julvez noted that there didn’t appear to be any additional benefit when women ate more than 21 ounces (about 595 g) of fish per week.

“I think it's really interesting, and it shed a lot more light on the benefits of eating fish during pregnancy,” said Dr. Ashley Roman, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

“I think what's interesting about this study compared to some data previously is that they better quantify the relationship between how much fish is consumed in a diet and then the benefits for the fetus and ultimately the child,” said Roman, who was not involved in the study.

Roman also noted that pregnant women should avoid certain fish such as tilefish, shark, swordfish and giant mackerel. These are larger fish with longer life spans that may accumulate more mercury in their tissue.

While fish may be a great source of protein and benefit brain development in utero, most experts agree that women should consult their obstetrician about what fish are safer to eat and how much they should eat during pregnancy.

The study was published online in the January edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology

Source: Shereen Lehman, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-pregnancy-fish-idUSKCN0UW1S4

 

 

 

Parenting

Taking Anti-Depressants During Pregnancy

2:30

There have been several studies examining the health risks to babies when moms-to-be take anti-depressants during pregnancy. Research is showing that many antidepressants, especially the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and older medications, are generally safe. Birth defects and other problems are possible. But the risk is very low.

One concern pregnant women have had is; will taking anti-depressants harm my baby’s intellectual, neurological and social development development?

Recently, in a first-of its kind study, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found a slight elevated risk of intellectual disability (ID) in children born to mothers treated with antidepressants, but the risk was not statistically significant and is likely due to other factors, including parental age and the parents' psychiatric history.

While other studies have examined the risk of autism in mother's who took antidepressants during pregnancy, this is the first study to examine the risk of ID in this population.

What is intellectual disability? According to the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18. The term intellectual disability covers the same population of individuals who were diagnosed previously with mental retardation. It’s now the preferred term of use.

For the study, researchers examined the risk of ID in 179,000 children born in Sweden in 2006 and 2007. Approximately 4,000 of those children were exposed to antidepressants and other psychotropic medications during pregnancy. The researchers compared the risk in these children with a subsample of 23,551children whose mothers were diagnosed with depression or anxiety prior to childbirth but did not use antidepressants during pregnancy.

The results showed that the risk of ID after exposure to antidepressant medication was not much different between both groups. ID was diagnosed in about 0.9% of exposed children and 0.5% of unexposed children.

"Our study provides more information for clinicians to evaluate the risks in pregnant women taking antidepressants," said co-author Abraham Reichenberg, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "It should be factored into other considerations such as the increased risk for the mother if not medicated, the drug's side effects, and other medical conditions."

The study will be published online in JAMA Psychiatry.

Webmd.com makes some good points about pregnancy and anti-depressants and offers tips for mothers-to-be that suffer from depression. Both psychiatric experts and ob-gyn experts agree that if you have mild depression and have been symptom-free for at least six months, you may be able to stop using antidepressants under a doctor’s supervision before getting pregnant or while you are pregnant. Psychotherapy, along with lifestyle measures, may be all that you need to manage your depression. You may be able to get through your pregnancy without antidepressants if you:

  • Talk with a therapist on a regular basis
  • Exercise more
  • Spend time outside
  • Practice yoga and meditation
  • Minimize your stress

But, the experts point out, it will be better for both you and your baby to stay on antidepressants while pregnant if any of the following is true:

  • You have a history of severe or recurrent depression
  • You have a history of other mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder
  • You have ever been suicidal

Few, if any, medications are considered absolutely safe during pregnancy. Research findings on the effects of antidepressants on the growing baby are mixed and inconclusive. One study may find a particular antidepressant causes one type of risk. Another one, though, may find that it doesn’t. Also, the risks to the baby may be different depending on the type of antidepressant and when in the pregnancy it is taken. Regardless, most risks found by researchers have been low.

Story sources: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170712110441.htm

http://www.webmd.com/baby/pregnancy-and-antidepressants#1

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

When should you get your flu shot?

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.