Archive for the 'Articles' Category

Page 4 of 7

Alaska Airlines Agrees to Reimburse Couple in Diaper Dispute

by Fran Golden at AOL Travel News

Alaska Airlines has agreed to reimburse a Canadian couple after they were bumped from a flight in an incident that started with a smelly diaper, and that the carrier calls “rare.”

Colleen Roberge and Dan Blais had just gotten married in Las Vegas and were on their way home to Edmonton, Alberta. But when they were about to board the plane their baby son had an explosive dirty diaper.

Roberge tells CTV Edmonton she left the gate to change the baby’s diaper, leaving her husband behind to explain the situation. But when she returned she was told her ticket had been given to another passenger on standby.

The couple was not allowed to board the flight, and Roberge says a customer service agent even told her she should have boarded the plane before changing the soiled diaper.

After being bumped, the couple was left with the option of spending up to two days on standby for another Alaska Airlines flight or paying about $1,000 for tickets home that day on another airline. The couple chose the latter, and got home on WestJet.

The upset couple blogged about the incident, and Alaska Airlines left a comment explaining its stance. “Reservations are subject to cancellation if customers aren’t ready at the gate within specified times,” the carrier says. “If we accommodate people who arrive late, we risk arriving at the destination late.”

But the carrier now says it will pay for the couple’s flight home.

“It goes to show that one employee’s actions doesn’t always represent the whole company and it seems Alaska Airlines didn’t thoroughly understand exactly what happened at the gate that day,” Roberge and Blais say on their blog.

The Lucky One

By Jenny Feldon, blog post at Pregnancy.com

35 weeks. It seems almost impossible that this much time has gone by since I first saw that pink plus sign on a white plastic stick. Holiday decorations are already in store windows; by Christmas I could have a weeks-old infant cradled in my arms. Sometimes I look back and think “How did I get here? And how did it happen so fast?”

Along with my rapidly approaching due date, there’s another date permanently engraved on my mind. A day on the calendar that was supposed to mark the same kind of joy for one of my dearest friends that my own due date promises for me. But that date is empty now, a blank spot where there used to be a big red exclamation point. Because I am the lucky one, the one who gets to keep her miracle. And my friend—an amazing woman, a phenomenal mother—is grieving not one, but two pregnancies she’s lost in the same 35 weeks I’ve been happily, uneventfully pregnant.

It’s at her recommendation—and with her blessing—that I write this very difficult post. Miscarriage is a very common, very real part of many women’s journeys toward motherhood. I’m particularly inspired by Project Pregnancy blogger Lexi Walters Wright, whose beautifully written, brave posts remind me how incredibly fortunate I am—how fortunate every mom is—to have a healthy child growing up before my eyes, and even luckier to have rolled the dice and conceived a second time. But remembering how lucky I am is not enough to provide support to my friend, to help her through her grief without being a living, breathing reminder of her pain. What do you say when you desperately want to ease a friend’s pain—but can only make things worse?

We met when our babies were just a few months old, and it was instant friend karma. Our daughters are less than two weeks apart, and we’ve tackled every challenge of new motherhood together, from breastfeeding to pureeing broccoli to those first trips down the big kid slide. We made stay-at-home mommyhood into an adventure, with coffee playdates, music classes and field trips to the aquarium. She has parented my daughter almost as much as I have; she is one of the reasons my long months with J out of town have been bearable.

Around the same time, we decided it was time for #2. My friend had lost a pregnancy before her daughter C was born, and was considerably more cautious—and anxious—about the conception process than I was. Still, we bought ovulation sticks together, peed on pregnancy tests together, and looked at each other wide-eyed with shock and joy when we realized we’d both hit the jackpot—and were expecting our #2s just two days apart.

I had complications early in this pregnancy I hadn’t experienced with E. Bleeding started around 6 weeks, and I would sit in the bathroom, terrified and alone, wondering what was happening. She was my sounding board, my reassuring voice. When she also started first trimester bleeding, I blithely assured her everything would be fine. Wasn’t she just being overly neurotic because she’d had a miscarriage before C? If she was allowed to reassure me, I was allowed to poo-poo her fears too. Or so I thought.

Just before our 12-week milestones, my friend’s ultrasound showed no heartbeat. In an email more concerned with my feelings than her own, she broke the news, letting me know she and her husband were drowning their tears in sake and sushi, and were focused on being grateful for the gorgeous, smart toddler they had at home. They were optimistic about trying again. Typically brave, typically cheerful. Heartbreakingly honest.

I cried for hours. Why her? Why not me? Suddenly, irrevocably, my joy and her pain were inextricably woven. And there was nothing I could say, no help or soothing words I could offer her, that could excuse the fact that I was still pregnant and she was not. I desperately wanted to trade places. At least if it were my pain, I could deal with it, be in control of it. But to watch someone so close to me suffer and not be able to a single thing to help—it was intolerable.

Selfishly, I was grieving a little bit for me, too. I wanted to take this journey with one of my dearest friends. Everything was supposed to work out perfectly. I’d envisioned joint baby showers and shuffling down the hospital hallway with my IV pole to have the world’s first post-partum slumber party—just her, me, and our newborns. Our #2s should have had birthday parties together, gone to the DMV together to get their driver’s licenses. All those silly, selfish dreams were shattered. I wanted to be unequivocally elated and excited about the new life inside me. Instead I felt sad, lost, and so, so guilty.

My friend is one of the strongest and bravest people I know. But no amount of bravery can take away her pain, and I hate that my own healthy pregnancy is a constant reminder of what she should have had—twice, now, since I conceived #2. Our conversations have become an elaborate dance, with her asking me about the pregnancy to prove she’s OK with it, and me trying everything to avoid the topic entirely so as not to cause her any more sorrow. If I could make my growing belly disappear in her presence, I would. I do my best to pretend there’s nothing more important going on in my life than preschool and potty training, because those subjects are things we can still share. But despite our best efforts, the chasm between us grows ever wider. It‘s the exact distance between the baby that is, and the baby that is no longer.

Is there ever a right thing to say to a friend or loved one that has suffered this kind of loss? Can women who haven’t had fertility problems ever say the right thing to a woman who has? Even with the best of intentions, every word out of my mouth is potentially the most wrong thing I could say. I can’t understand what it feels like. I can’t make any of it better. And what I am doing—growing bigger and more pregnant by the minute—is, in some ways, the worst thing of all.

I know how genuinely happy my friend is for me, and how much she hates that I feel guilty when I should be celebrating this upcoming new life. I believe with my whole heart that she will have another child, one as healthy and precocious and absolutely perfect as her sweet daughter C. She is an incredible friend, a loving wife, an amazing mother. She doesn’t deserve the sorrow she’s been dealt (who does?) but she’ll triumph anyway, because that’s who she is. She inspires me every day.

And so do all the other women who have struggled with the pain and loss of infertility and miscarriage. To all of you out there who have suffered like my sweet friend: Is there anything us “lucky ones” can do, or say, to support you the way we so desperately want to? Or at the very least, minimize the damage our happily pregnant selves can inflict on still-raw wounds? Nothing can take away the pain of loss, and in many ways that chasm will always exist. But I’d love to hear advice on what to do, what not to say, and how to bridge the gap that inevitably grows between women whose paths have turned away from each other.

Jumbo Ultrasound Shows Zoo’s Baby Elephant

George the elephant now weighs 640 lbs. Pic: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

George the elephant now weighs 640 lbs. Pic: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

An incredible ultrasound image of a baby elephant in utero has been released by ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Incredibly his trunk is already visible.

The Zoo used 3D ultrasound scanners to monitor the health and well-being of mum and baby.

Now six months old, George weighs around 840 lbs and is part of the herd of Asian elephants at the Zoo in Dunstable.

His keepers say he loves to play in the seven-acre paddock with his big sister Donna.

Why the health of pregnant women matters to us all

By Annie Murphy Paul,author of “Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives.”

“Pregnant Is the New Sexy,” read the T-shirt a friend gave me when I was a few weeks away from my due date. With my swollen ankles and waddling walk, I wasn’t so sure – but it’s hard to deny that pregnancy has become rather chic. Glossy magazines flaunt actresses’ and models’ rounded, half-clad bellies on their covers. Inside they chronicle celebrities’ pregnancies in breathless detail, from the first “bump” sighting to the second-trimester weight gain to the baby-gear shopping spree. And now comes the news that “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” – the advice bible that has sold more than 14 million copies – will be made into a feature film.

There’s something wrong with this picture. Even as Americans fuel a rapidly growing pregnancy industry of designer maternity jeans and artsy pregnancy portraits, we’re ignoring the real news about these nine months. An emerging science known as the developmental origins of health and disease – DOHaD for short – is revealing that the conditions we encounter in the womb can have a lifelong impact on our health and well-being, affecting everything from our appetite and metabolism to our susceptibility to disease to our intelligence and temperament.

The more we learn about these effects, the clearer it becomes that investing in maternal health would return larger and longer-lasting dividends than almost any other comparable public health investment. But as a nation, we’re heading in exactly the opposite direction, spending more and more of our limited resources on the later stages of life instead of where they can make the most difference: at the very beginning.

Take obesity. Many anti-obesity initiatives concentrate on changing adults’ behavior, trying to persuade us to eat less and exercise more. But research shows that these efforts have limited effectiveness. A recent analysis of U.S. obesity-prevention campaigns, conducted by Olaf Werder of the University of New Mexico, concluded that their “overall impact on obesity has been negligible.”

Even public health programs aimed at school-age children come too late: Almost a third of American children over age 2are already overweight or obese, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Clearly, the conditions that contribute to obesity must begin exerting their influence very early in children’s lives – as early as their time in the womb.

DOHaD research shows that the intrauterine environment of a woman who is significantly overweight when she conceives – or who puts on excessive weight during pregnancy – affects the developing fetus in ways that make it more likely to become overweight itself one day. Scientists are still figuring out exactly why this happens, but it appears that prenatal experience may alter the functioning of organs such as the heart and the pancreas, may shift the proportion of lean and fat body mass, and may influence the brain circuits that regulate appetite and metabolism.

In a cleverly designed study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2009, researchers compared children born to the same mothers before and after they’d had successful anti-obesity surgery. Children born after their mothers’ surgery weighed less at birth and were three times less likely to become severely obese than their older brothers and sisters. Weight-loss surgery isn’t for everyone, of course. Still, what if before conceiving, overweight women were routinely counseled by their doctors about the effects of their weight on future offspring? And what if women who were gaining weight too rapidly in pregnancy were offered more help in controlling it?

The results might look something like those found in studies of diabetes treatment during pregnancy. Research shows that the children of diabetic women are more likely than others to develop diabetes – in one recent study, seven times more likely. Like obesity, diabetes has a strong genetic component, but scientists are also beginning to focus on the effects of a diabetic intrauterine environment. For example, a long-running study of the Pima Indians of Arizona, who have one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world, concluded that exposure to the disease while in the womb was responsible for about 40 percent of the diabetes cases studied.

A pregnant woman’s diabetes can also affect the odds that her child will become obese. In a study of almost 10,000 mother-child pairs, researchers from the Center for Health Research at Kaiser Permanente Northwest found that women who developed diabetes during pregnancy and were not treated had children who were twice as likely to become obese as the children of women without that illness. Pregnant women whose diabetes was treated with insulin, however, had children with no additional risk of obesity. Simply by controlling their mothers’ blood sugar during pregnancy, in other words, the expected doubling of these children’s obesity risk was completely reversed.

Even the mental health of a pregnant woman can have a long-term impact on her offspring. A 2008 study by researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center in California found that women with even mild symptoms of depression are 60 percent more likely to deliver early than other women; those who are severely depressed have double the risk of premature birth. The babies of depressed women are also more likely to have low birth weight, to be irritable and to have trouble sleeping.

Of course, these complications may come about in part because many depressed women don’t take good care of themselves: They may eat poorly, smoke or drink alcohol, or fail to get prenatal care. But depression itself may shift the biochemical balance in a woman’s body in a fateful manner. For one thing, the stress hormone cortisol, which is often elevated in people with depression, may cross the placenta, directly affecting fetal development, and it may also affect a pregnant woman’s blood vessels, reducing the oxygen and nutrients that reach the fetus.

The case seems pretty clear: We should make a nationwide effort to ensure that every obstetrician checks every pregnant patient’s mental state, along with her weight and blood pressure. Women who show signs of depression should be offered therapy or, in cases that warrant it, carefully administered antidepressant medication.

Adult behavior can be difficult to change, as we know from the general ineffectiveness of anti-obesity campaigns. But pregnant women are a special case: They’re usually highly motivated, they’re typically in regular contact with health-care providers, and they have to keep up their efforts for only nine months. Pregnancy therefore offers a singular opportunity to improve lives for decades to come, via interventions that cost little compared with the enormous price tags for obesity, diabetes, low birth weight and premature delivery.

So why isn’t this critical window one of our top health-care priorities?

Part of the reason may simply be our preference for quick fixes and for dealing with only those problems that exist in the here and now. It can be hard to wrap our heads around the notion that a woman’s diet or mental state today will have a serious effect on her children’s health many years out. But there’s a less obvious reason that resistance to maternal health initiatives might crop up among the liberal-leaning individuals who typically support public health initiatives and women’s health-care issues: abortion politics.

Caring for the fetus, protecting the fetus from harm – to abortion rights advocates, such measures sound like the steps antiabortion forces have taken to try to establish a fetus’s rights. What’s the difference between controlling a diabetic pregnant woman’s blood sugar and, say, charging a pregnant woman who uses drugs with child abuse? Between telling an obese pregnant woman that her weight may predispose her child to obesity and requiring a woman to look at an ultrasound of her fetus before proceeding with an abortion?

The crucial difference lies in the intent behind the intervention and in the way it’s carried out. Help in achieving a healthy pregnancy must be offered to pregnant women, not forced upon them. And the aim behind such efforts must be to foster the health and well-being of the woman and her fetus, not to score political points.

Ultimately, research on the developmental origins of health and disease should lead us to a new perspective on pregnancy, one that’s not about coercing or controlling women – nor about ogling or fetishizing them – but about helping them, and their future children, be as healthy and as happy as they can be.

Painkillers in Pregnancy Linked to Male Infertility

Study Suggests Even Tylenol During Pregnancy May Affect Male Testes

By Daniel J. DeNoon of WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Common over-the-counter painkillers taken during pregnancy may be to blame for a global rise in male infertility.

Even acetaminophen (Tylenol) may put a developing boy’s future reproductive health at risk, suggest findings from a study of some 2,300 Danish and Finnish women by Henrik Leffers, MD, PhD, of Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues.

The researchers suggest that acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, and other NSAID painkillers act as hormonal “endocrine disruptors” and interfere with normal male sexual development. Chemicals in the environment, such as phthalates, act as endocrine disruptors and have in the past been blamed for harmful effects on human sexual development.

“A single [acetaminophen] tablet (500 milligrams) contains more endocrine disruptor potency than the combined exposure to the ten most prevalent of the currently known environmental endocrine disruptors during the whole pregnancy,” Leffers says in a news release.

Despite the strong language, the researchers note that their findings are based on a small number of boys whose testicles were late to descend — a risk factor for poor future semen quality. While they note that more study is needed, they stress the urgency of such studies.

“Although we should be cautious about any over-extrapolation or overstatement … the use of these compounds is, at present, the best suggestion for an exposure that can affect a large proportion of the human population,” Leffers says.

The Leffers study is based on questionnaires from the mothers of 834 Danish boys and 1,463 Finnish boys, and on interviews with the mothers of 491Danish boys (285 of whom also were among those who filled out the questionnaires). All of the boys were examined for signs of undescended testicles (congenital cryptorchidism).

In the end, the researchers identified only 42 boys with signs of undescended testicles. Over 64% of these boys were born to mothers who took painkillers during pregnancy.

Women who took more than one kind of mild painkiller were more than seven times more likely to have a boy with signs of undescended testicles.

It appeared that painkillers taken during the second trimester of pregnancy were particularly risky — increasing risk of congenital cryptorchidism by 2.3-fold.

Nevertheless, these risks are based on very small numbers of affected boys. The vast majority of boys born to women who reported painkiller use did not have any sign of undescended testicles.

Leffers and colleagues will continue to follow up on the boys through sexual maturity.

Leffers’ team also performed rat studies showing that acetaminophen and NSAID painkillers can affect sexual maturation.

The Leffers study appears in the advance online edition of the journal Human Reproduction.

10 quirky facts about kissing

By Laura Schaefer, author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time.

Think you know a thing or two about kissing? You probably do. But the facts below are so off the beaten path, we’ll bet you don’t know them all — and they could come in handy. Not only could they provide some steamy “Did you know…?” small talk, but they’ll help you see all the benefits a satisfying liplock can bring into your life. Happy smooching!

1. Two out of every three couples turn their heads to the right when they kiss.

2. A simple peck uses two muscles; a passionate kiss, on the other hand, uses all 34 muscles in your face. Now that’s a rigorous workout!

3. Like fingerprints or snowflakes, no two lip impressions are alike.

4. Kissing is good for what ails you. Research shows that the act of smooching improves our skin, helps circulation, prevents tooth decay, and can even relieve headaches.

5. The average person spends 336 hours of his or her life kissing.

6. Ever wonder how an “X” came to represent a kiss? Starting in the Middle Ages, people who could not read used an X as a signature. They would kiss this mark as a sign of sincerity. Eventually, the X came to represent the kiss itself.

7. Talk about a rush! Kissing releases the same neurotransmitters in our brains as parachuting, bungee jumping, and running.

8. The average woman kisses 29 men before she gets married.

9. Men who kiss their partners before leaving for work average higher incomes than those who don’t.

10. The longest kiss in movie history was between Jane Wyman and Regis Tommey in the 1941 film, You’re in the Army Now. It lasted 3 minutes and 5 seconds. So if you’ve beaten that record, it’s time to celebrate!

All Pregnant Women Should Get Flu Shot, Say OB-Gyns

This from Frederik Joelving of Reuters Health

Despite landing in the hospital more often if they catch the flu, no more than a quarter of pregnant women in the U.S. get vaccinated against it.

That’s according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which has issued a recommendation urging all pregnant women to get the flu shot.

While the recommendation itself isn’t new, the statement, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, adds evidence on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, said Dr. William M. Callaghan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

He said the CDC and several medical associations back the statement, which notes that the shot not only protects the woman, but also her baby.

Flu vaccines aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration for infants younger than six months of age, but babies can get the protective antibodies naturally through breast milk if their mother got the vaccine.

While some flu vaccines contain the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, a study out last week found the compound did not increase the risk of autism, as some have worried. (See Reuters Health story of September 13)

The statement does not recommend against vaccines containing preservative, but notes that thimerosal-free alternatives are available.

It adds that there have been no reports of side effects in pregnant women or their babies, but that women should only get the inactivated vaccine.

Last week, the CDC asked healthcare providers to encourage pregnant women to get flu shots.

This could have a large impact on women’s decision-making, according to data from 2006 and 2007 surveys of pregnant women in Georgia and Rhode Island.

The findings, also published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, show less than one in five women in Georgia had been vaccinated against the seasonal flu. Many of those who hadn’t, said their doctors had never broached the topic.

By contrast, nearly a third of women in Rhode Island had been vaccinated, with encouragement from a healthcare provider increasing the chances more than 50 times.

In its letter to physicians, the CDC said pregnant women were more susceptible to severe illness caused by flu, and accounted for one in 20 deaths from H1N1 influenza (swine flu) in 2009. By comparison, only one in 100 was pregnant in the population.

“We know for certain that there are changes in the immune system that allow the pregnancy to continue,” Callaghan told Reuters Health. “Perhaps the downside is that they also allow the virus to persist.”

The U.S. flu season starts in October and lasts through May.

Source : Obstetrics & Gynecology Journal

Doctors Break Down Which Pregnancy ‘Tips’ Really Matter

 

By Matt Brennan of The Beacon-News

While the lists of pregnancy do’s and don’ts can be extensive, there is one thing women should not lose track of as they go through the process, and that’s enjoying it.

That’s the advice of Dr. Susan Acuna, obstetrician/gynecologist on staff with Central DuPage and Delnor Community hospitals.

Women should remember to enjoy the experience of having a child moving around inside them, she said. While they experience that thrill, there are things they can be doing to keep themselves and the baby healthy.

There is a lot of information out there. It can be overwhelming. Some of the information and ideas have a stronger medical basis than others. It is best to follow the recommendations that have a stronger basis in medicine and science, she said.

“Many women come in and say, ‘I heard I should avoid lunch meat and peanut butter,’” Acuna said. “Those are not based on any factual information.”

The concern about peanuts or peanut butter is that eating them would increase the baby’s chance of picking up the allergies. It’s not based on enough science, she said. With lunch meat, she said to just make sure that it is reasonably fresh.

The most important thing for women to do during pregnancy is to take a prenatal vitamin, Acuna said.

“It’s shown to prevent birth defects,” she said. “That’s an important thing that women may or may not know.”

Provena Mercy Medical Center nutritionist Melissa Gash said that making sure calorie intake is correct for the patient’s height and weight is important.

“You really only need about 300 extra calories a day,” she said. “It’s really minimal what you have to increase.”

To put it in perspective, the extra calories can be achieved with a glass of milk and an apple, she said. The normal recommended weight gain during a pregnancy is about 25 to 30 pounds. Many women gain much more than that, she said.

“They wonder why they can’t lose that weight after the baby’s out,” she said.

Yoga, Pilates and prenatal water aerobics have all increased in popularity recently, said Dr. Natalie Roche of Fox Valley Women and Children’s Health Partners. The exercises can help to alleviate some of the pain associated with pregnancy, she said.

There are some exercises that should be avoided during pregnancy, such as biking, roller skating and jumping on a trampoline, Acuna said.

“I recommend they avoid any activity that would put them at risk of falling,” she said.

Running, biking on a stationary bike and working out on an elliptical machine are all safer forms of exercise, she said.

Gash is on her third pregnancy, she said. She also runs a nutrition seminar for pregnancy at Provena Mercy called “From Pickles to Ice Cream.” Cravings are legitimate, she said. Many pregnant women have them. But, “a lot of women use them as an excuse,” she said.

Morning sickness and nausea are fairly common, especially during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, she said.

“Sometimes you’re just not going to feel that good those first couple weeks,” she said.

Sex, drugs more common in hyper-texting teens

This article from MIKE STOBBE of AP

Teens who text 120 times a day or more — and there seems to be a lot of them — are more likely to have had sex or used alcohol and drugs than kids who don’t send as many messages, according to provocative new research.

The study’s authors aren’t suggesting that “hyper-texting” leads to sex, drinking or drugs, but say it’s startling to see an apparent link between excessive messaging and that kind of risky behavior.

The study concludes that a significant number of teens are very susceptible to peer pressure and also have permissive or absent parents, said Dr. Scott Frank, the study’s lead author.

“If parents are monitoring their kids’ texting and social networking, they’re probably monitoring other activities as well,” said Frank, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Frank was scheduled to present the study Tuesday at a meeting of the American Public Health Association in Denver.

The study was done at 20 public high schools in the Cleveland area last year, and is based on confidential paper surveys of more than 4,200 students.

It found that about one in five students were hyper-texters and about one in nine are hyper-networkers — those who spend three or more hours a day on Facebook and other social networking websites.

About one in 25 fall into both categories.

Hyper-texting and hyper-networking were more common among girls, minorities, kids whose parents have less education and students from a single-mother household, the study found.

Frank’s study is billed as one of the first studies to look at texting and social networking and whether they are linked to actual sexual intercourse or to other risky behaviors.

“This study demonstrates that it’s a legitimate question to explore,” said Douglas Gentile, who runs the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University.

The study found those who text at least 120 times a day are nearly three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex than their peers who don’t text that much. Hyper-texters were also more likely to have been in a physical fight, binge drink, use illegal drugs or take medication without a prescription.

Compared to the heavy texters, the hyper-networkers were not as likely to have had sex, but more likely to have been involved in other risky behaviors like drinking or fighting.

A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that about half of children ages 8 to 18 send text messages on a cell phone in a typical day. The texters estimated they average 118 texts per day. That study also found that only 14 percent of kids said their parents set rules limiting texting.

Other studies have tied teen texting to risky or lewd behavior. A Pew Research Center study found that about one-third of 16- and 17-year-olds send texts while driving. And an Associated Press-MTV poll found that about one-quarter of teenagers have “sexted” — shared sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by cell phone or online.

The latest survey did not ask what students texted or what they discussed on social networks.

One suburban Cleveland student said her texts involve non-sexual small talk with friends, homework assignments and student council bake sales.

“I text with my mother about what time I need picked up,” said Tiara Freeman-Sargeant, a 14-year-old Shaker Heights High School freshman. She said she sends and receives about 250 texts a day.

Talking on the phone just isn’t appealing to some teens, said her classmate, Ivanna Storms-Thompson.

“Your arm gets tired, your ear gets sweaty,” said Ivanna, who also doesn’t like the awkward silences.

Like her friend, Ivanna said she mostly gets A’s. Whether kids who text do well in school or behave in a crazy, risky way is coincidental, she said.

“It depends on who you’re talking to and whether they have their priorities straight,” she said.

Online:

Conference: http://www.apha.org/meetings/

Pregnancy Problems Could Be From Antibacterial Agent

Dr. Margaret James, professor and chair of the department of medicinal chemistry at the University of Florida, is seen here in a photo taken Oct. 26, 2010. James has found that tricolsan, an ingredient found in some of the most popular brands of antibacterial soaps, toothpaste and other household products, may disrupt an enzyme important during pregnancy. (Jesse S. Jones/University of Florida)

A chemical found in everything from antibacterial soaps and lotions to socks and toothpaste may disrupt an enzyme that plays an important role in pregnancy, University of Florida researchers say.

Thought to be harmless, triclosan gives many soaps and lotions their antibacterial oomph and is found in hundreds of popular products. But a team of UF researchers led by Margaret O. James has discovered that the chemical hinders an enzyme linked to the metabolism of estrogen. The researchers’ findings are reported in the November print issue of the journal Environment International.

In pregnancy, this enzyme, called estrogen sulfotransferase, helps metabolize estrogen and move it through the placenta into the developing fetus. There, the estrogen plays a crucial role in brain development and the regulation of genes.

“We suspect that makes this substance dangerous in pregnancy if enough of the triclosan gets through to the placenta to affect the enzyme,” said James, a professor and chairwoman of medicinal chemistry in the UF College of Pharmacy. “We know for sure it is a very potent inhibitor. What we don’t know is the kinds of levels you would have to be exposed to to see a negative effect.

“We know it is a problem, but we don’t know how much of a problem. We need to move forward and do additional studies.”

In pregnancy, the placenta basically serves as a developing baby’s in-womb survival kit. Almost everything the fetus gets from its mother — namely food and oxygen — comes through the placenta. It also creates important hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen.

Aside from the role it plays in the fetus, estrogen also affects how much oxygen the baby gets from the mother, said Charles Wood, a professor and chairman of physiology and functional genomics in the UF College of Medicine and a co-author of the study. All of the oxygen a baby gets from its mother flows through the mother’s uterine artery. Without enough estrogen, this artery can constrict, decreasing blood flow.

“If you don’t make enough estrogen you can, we think, starve the baby of enough oxygen,” Wood said.

Estrogen is also involved in signaling the uterus to contract during labor. But maintaining the right levels of the hormone during pregnancy is a delicate balance, Wood says. Too much estrogen could send the mother’s body into premature labor. Too little could hinder the flow of oxygen. Both instances could affect how the baby’s brain develops.

This is one of the reasons scientists are concerned about the pregnancy-related effects of chemicals such as triclosan.

“Some of these (chemicals) can go and combine with estrogen receptors and mimic estrogen or keep estrogen off its receptors or change the metabolism of estrogen, which is what we are looking at with triclosan,” Wood said.

In April 2010, the Food and Drug Administration decided to take a closer look at triclosan after several studies found links to problems with hormone regulation and other possible negative health effects. Other studies have shown that the chemical, which cannot be broken down by bacteria, stays in the environment long after it is used.

“Triclosan is a material that is present in the environment and everyone has low levels. If you use products with triclosan, you will likely have higher levels,” said Bruce Hammock, a professor of entomology at the University of California-Davis who studies triclosan. “It has some real benefits but it is certainly not risk-free.”

More studies are needed before researchers can conclude what effects triclosan really has on human health, James said.

“The triclosan is incorporated into household products because it inhibits bacterial growth,” James said. “But the bad thing is it has this unexpected side effect of inhibiting this important enzyme in the body. At this point we don’t know if the levels people are exposed to are high enough to cause an adverse effect.”

Source: April Frawley Birdwell, http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-pregnancy-problems-antibacterial-agent.html, Provided by University of Florida