Monday, September 26, 2011

Pregnant women who exercise protect their offspring against long-term neurodegenerative diseases


New research in the FASEB Journal suggests that prenatal exercise improves brain plasticity, decreases toxic protein deposits, inflammation and oxidative stress, which wards off Alzheimer's and other diseases

Bethesda, MD—If you are pregnant, here's another reason to work out: you will reduce the chances of your new baby developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, later in life. A new research report published online in The FASEB Journal ( shows that mice bred to develop a neurodegenerative disease roughly equivalent to Alzheimer's disease showed fewer signs of the disease and greater brain plasticity later in life when their mothers exercised regularly than those whose mothers did not exercise.

"This research provides an experimental rationale for the effects of beneficial behavioral stimuli experienced by the pregnant mother affecting the disease status of an as yet-unborn child. Epigenetic alterations (alterations in gene and protein expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence) provide a most probable mechanism by which mothers could have transferred their own behavioral experience to their progeny," said Kathy Keyvani, M.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Institute of Pathology and Neuropathology at the University Hospital Essen in Essen, Germany. "A better understanding of the underlying pathways may provide novel treatment and/or prevention strategies for Alzheimer's disease and bring more insight into the fascinating link between brain and behavior."

To make this discovery, Keyvani and colleagues mated male mice that express a mutant form of the APP gene found in some Alzheimer's patients with healthy female wild-type mice. After weaning, healthy and "Alzheimer-diseased" offspring were kept in standard cages for five months. Mouse brains were examined for signs of disease shortly thereafter. The "Alzheimer-diseased" mice whose mothers ran on a exercise wheel during pregnancy had fewer Beta-amyloid plaques, smaller plaque size, less inflammation, less oxidative stress, and a better functioning vascular network than those whose mothers did not run. Additionally, the mice whose mothers ran on the wheel also showed an up-regulation of plasticity-related molecules, which are indicators for more and better connections between the nerve cells.

"No one is resistant to the health benefits of exercise," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, "and this research confirms that reasonable workouts can have a lifetime of benefits for your offspring. Whether you work out at home or go to the gym, you should do it for the sake of your health and that of your offspring."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Low-Fat Yogurt Intake When Pregnant Linked to Increased Risk of Child Asthma and Hay Fever

Eating low-fat yogurt whilst pregnant can increase the risk of your child developing asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever), according to recent findings.

The study aimed to assess whether fatty acids found in dairy products could protect against the development of allergic diseases in children.

The researchers assessed milk and dairy intake during pregnancy and monitored the prevalence of asthma and allergic rhinitis using registries and questionnaires in the Danish National Birth Cohort.

The results showed that milk intake during pregnancy was not associated with increased risk of developing asthma and it actually protected against asthma development. However, women who ate low-fat yogurt with fruit once a day were 1.6-times more likely to have children who developed asthma by age 7, compared with children of women who reported no intake. They were also more likely to have allergic rhinitis and to display current asthma symptoms.

The researchers suggest that non-fat related nutrient components in the yogurt may play a part in increasing this risk. They are also looking at the possibility that low-fat yogurt intake may serve as a marker for other dietary and lifestyle factors.

Ekaterina Maslova, lead author from the Harvard School of Public Health, who has been working with data at the Centre for Fetal Programming at Statens Serum Institut, said: "This is the first study of its kind to link low-fat yogurt intake during pregnancy with an increased risk of asthma and hay fever in children. This could be due to a number of reasons and we will further investigate whether this is linked to certain nutrients or whether people who ate yogurt regularly had similar lifestyle and dietary patterns which could explain the increased risk of asthma."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Moms who eat high-fat diet before, during pregnancy 'program' babies to be fat, at risk

This is the first study to demonstrate that a long-term maternal high-fat diet results in the deposition, in utero, of excess body fat in the newborn

New research in mice indicates that babies born to moms who eat a high-fat diet before and during pregnancy have a higher fat mass and smaller livers than babies whose moms consume low-fat fare, according to scientists at Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

The good news, the researchers report, is that moms who switch to a low-fat diet during pregnancy considerably reduce the risk of these negative effects. Their findings are published online in the American Journal of Physiology and Endocrinology Metabolism, a publication of the American Physiological Society.

Previous research has shown babies who receive too much or too little nutrition in the womb experience profound and permanent changes in their development — including alterations in the structure of the liver, brain and pancreas — that increase their susceptibility to developing various diseases later in life, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

And given that nearly half of women of childbearing age are overweight or obese in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a pressing need to inform women and their health care providers of the inherent dangers maternal overeating poses to their child's future health and risk of chronic disease.

"One of the key findings here is that the offspring are born with a marked shift in body composition, away from lean mass and toward fat mass, prior to any dietary exposure in the offspring themselves," said principal investigator Stephanie M. Krasnow, Ph.D., a scientist in the Papé Family Pediatric Research Institute at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

Krasnow and colleagues in the Daniel Marks Lab used a mouse model to examine how consumption of a high-fat diet during pregnancy effects body composition in the newborn. Female mice were fed either a low-fat or high-fat diet for six months and were mated with male mice after 4, 12 and 23 weeks. The females who ate a high-fat diet gained more body weight and had a higher fat mass than the females who ate a low-fat diet. And on the day of birth, babies born to females who had consumed a high-fat food had more body fat, less lean mass, and smaller livers than the newborns of females that consumed low-fat food.

These changes in body composition and organ size occurred before the female mice eating a high-fat diet became obese, the researchers report. And even when the females were not obese, eating a high-fat diet prior to and during pregnancy "programmed" their unborn babies to have increased body fat and smaller livers at birth. Fortunately, the researchers found, switching to a low-fat diet just during pregnancy prevented the infants from accumulating excess fat mass in utero and also prevented their having smaller livers.

"These findings demonstrate that changing to a low-fat diet during pregnancy minimizes the harmful effects of maternal obesity on the newborn's body composition, potentially reducing the child's risk of developing obesity and related diseases later in life," said Krasnow.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Anti-inflammatory drugs taken in early pregnancy more than double risk of miscarriage

The risk of miscarriage is 2.4 times greater for women who took any type and dosage of nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in early pregnancy, according to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only)

Nonaspirin NSAIDs are a class of drugs that include naproxen, ibuprofen, diclofenac, and celecoxib, and are one of the most common medications used during pregnancy. However, there are concerns about use of these drugs in pregnancy, although studies on the risks have been inconsistent.

Researchers from the University of Montreal, CHU Ste-Justine, Quebec, and École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Analyse de l'Information, Rennes, France, undertook a study to determine the risk of miscarriage associated with the types and dosages of nonaspirin NSAIDs. They looked at a total of 4705 cases of miscarriage up to the 20th week of gestation, 352 (7.5%) of whom took nonaspirin NSAIDs. Of the 47 050 women in the control group who did not miscarry, 1213 (2.6%) had been exposed to nonaspirin NSAIDs. The data came from the Quebec Pregnancy Registry, which provides information on filled prescriptions, physician visits and diagnoses, and hospitalisations during pregnancy.

Women ranged in age from 15 to 45 years old on the first day of gestation and were insured by the Régie de l'Assurance Maladie du Québec (RAMQ) for their medications for at least one year prior to and during pregnancy. Exposure to nonaspirin NSAIDs was defined as having filled at least one prescription for any type of the drug during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy or in the two weeks prior to the start of the pregnancy.

Ibuprofen is the only nonaspirin NSAID available over the counter in Quebec, and women in the RAMQ drug plan can have that prescribed as a prescription. Naproxen was the most commonly used nonaspirin NSAID followed by ibuprofen.

"The use of nonaspirin NSAIDs during early pregnancy is associated with statistically significant risk (2.4-fold increase) of having a spontaneous abortion," writes Dr. Anick Bérard, from the University of Montreal and the Director of the Research Unit on Medications and Pregnancy at CHU Ste-Justine. "We consistently saw that the risk of having a spontaneous abortion was associated with gestational use of diclofenac, naproxen, celecoxib, ibuprofen and rofecoxib alone or in combination, suggesting a class effect."

The highest risk was associated with diclofenac alone and the lowest risk was in users of rofecoxib alone. However, dosage of nonaspirin NSAIDs did not appear to affect risk.

These findings are consistent with other studies but are novel with regards to the nonaspirin NSAIDs types and dosages.

"Given that the use of nonaspirin NSAIDs during early pregnancy has been shown to increase the risk of major congenital malformations1 and that our results suggest a class effect on the risk of clinically detected spontaneous abortion, nonaspirin NSAIDs should be used with caution during pregnancy.," the authors conclude.