Tests allowing women to find out whether their pregnancy is continuing or ending may soon be available for use in the home. A conference at London's Royal Society of Medicine will hear how the semi-quantitative pregnancy test (SQPT) could provide reassurance to women in early pregnancy and improve the management of abortion and miscarriage.
Current tests for the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) can tell women if they may be pregnant before they have even missed a period, although they cannot confirm whether or not the hormone is falling or rising.
But the new tests developed in the US can do so, meaning it is possible to state whether a pregnancy is continuing or ending. For women who have ended pregnancies using the abortion pill, the semi-quantitative pregnancy test enables them to ascertain at home whether their pregnancy has ended, by showing that hCG levels are falling.
"For women who have experienced miscarriage, knowledge that their hCG levels are falling as expected may provide the peace of mind that no further interventions will be needed.
"For women undergoing early abortion, the introduction of this test into routine practice can only offer women more choice and provide an experience that best suits their personal needs."
Pregnancy belt lets daddy feel when the baby kicks too
For most fathers, pregnancy means playing a supporting role with little sense of what the mother is really going through. To help give fathers an inside look on what what it actually feels like to be pregnant, Huggies in Argentina has developed what it calls a pregnancy belt. Both the expectant mother and the father wear their half of the system, which then transfers any kicks or other movement felt by the mother over to the father in real-time.
It seems like the sort of thing we might eventually see in childbirth classes to help rope the dads to be into the "fun."
Women in the UK will soon be able to take home pregnancy tests which check on the progress of their baby, instead of just indicating whether they are expecting, experts have said.
The tests are currently sold in the United States, but not licensed in this country.
Experts said studies have now found that the kits are a safe and effective way of monitoring the first few months of pregnancy, before the 12 week scan, and could offer reassurance to women, especially those with a history of miscarriage.
The urine tests tell the mother that the pregnancy is developing normally, but would not provide the kind of information - such as the baby’s size and development - which is then seen in the scan.
Joanne Fletcher, Consultant Gynaecology Nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals trust said: “We know early pregnancy can be a very stressful time for many women, and a simple test that could provide reassurance that the pregnancy was progressing may alleviate some of that anxiety. However all women experiencing pain or bleeding would always need to seek medical advice.”
Clare Murphy, from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said it was expected that the tests would be licensed in this country soon, following their success in the US.
The same kits can be used to check whether medical abortions - those administered by a pill - have taken effect. They can also establish whether further intervention is needed following a miscarriage, as they measure whether the specific hormones which reflect pregnancy are falling or rising.
Women who smoke in pregnancy could cause their GREAT GRANDCHILDREN to develop asthma
People with asthma might have their great grandmothers to blame, new research suggests.
Scientists discovered that maternal smoking can cause three generations of children to develop the chronic lung disease.
The news comes at a time when about 250 million women worldwide smoke daily and 300 million people have asthma.
Researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbour-UCLA Medical Centre found that maternal nicotine exposure during pregnancy is linked to asthma in the third generation in disease models.
This is known as a ‘transgenerational’ link because the third generation was never directly exposed to nicotine or smoking.
Previous research had already found nicotine exposure was linked to asthma in the second generation.
‘Even though there are multiple causes for childhood asthma, research linking this serious chronic condition to maternal nicotine exposure during pregnancy for up to three generations should give mothers-to-be even more reasons to reconsider smoking,’ said Dr Virender Rehan an LA BioMed lead researcher.
‘Eliminating the use of tobacco during pregnancy could help halt the rise in childhood asthma and ensure healthier children for generations to come.’
Worldwide, approximately 250 million women smoke daily, and the number of people living with asthma is expected to grow by about a third by 2025, reaching approximately 400 million.
Twelve per cent of women in the U.S. continue to smoke during pregnancy, resulting in the birth of at least 400,000 smoke-exposed infants per year in the U.S. alone.
In previous studies, the researchers have concluded that the cause of the second generation's asthma was epigenetic modification - an environmental factor causing a genetic change.
Nicotine affects both the lung cells and the sex cells in ways that cause the lungs that developed from those cells to develop abnormally, causing asthma.
The current study ‘paves the way for determining the epigenetic mechanisms’ behind smoking and the transmission of asthma to future generations, the researchers concluded.
Wow what a great thread
The one thing that stuck out was the pregnancy tests showing whether a pregnancy is ending . that's scary! I think just like a pregnancy test how there are false negatives and positives I feel like the new tests will be the same way, would hate to take the test and its displays my pregnancy is ending just to find out that the test is wrong. Talk about traumatic
It is a practice loved by celebrity mothers such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Sienna Miller.
And according to a study, taking up yoga in pregnancy can ease stress – and reduce women's fear of childbirth.
The first research of its kind found that a single yoga class cut anxiety in mothers-to-be by a third.
Their levels of stress hormones fell and after two months of classes, the women said they were less scared about giving birth. Experts have now called on the NHS to provide free classes for pregnant women.
Professor John Aplin, who specialises in reproductive biomedicine, even suggested yoga could help women cope with the pain of childbirth and reduce the number of emergency C-sections.
He added: 'Perhaps we should be looking at providing yoga classes on the NHS.
'It would be relatively cheap to implement, could help mothers and their children be healthier, as well as reducing the costs of longer-term healthcare.' Yoga is popular with mothers-to-be and is often recommended by doctors and midwives, but until now no one had studied whether it is actually beneficial.
The Manchester University researchers looked at two groups of women who were 22 weeks pregnant.
Half did a weekly yoga class for two months and the other half attended antenatal classes. The yoga sessions were adapted for pregnancy and included relaxation techniques, as well as exercises to strengthen the body and ease pain.
There were concerns that the weekly focus on childbirth in classes might actually make women more nervous. But a single yoga class cut the amount of anxiety the women felt by a third.
Stress levels after the session were even lower than when relaxing at home, according to the study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety. And many of the women credited the techniques with keeping them calm and making the birth easier.
Lead researcher Dr James Newham, who is now based at Newcastle University, said: 'We have long believed that it works but no research has been done to back up the theory.
'We have now gone some way to prove that it can help. It was no small effect. This has the potential to really help mothers who are feeling anxious about their pregnancy.'
Jacqui Clinton from baby charity Tommy's, which funded the study, said: 'We already know that pregnancy yoga can help improve physical health and strength on the run up to having a baby, and this new evidence shows it may have important benefits for women's emotional health too.'
The NHS advises pregnant women to stay active to help cope with labour. But a Department of Health spokesman said that the decision to run free yoga classes would need to be taken by individual hospital trusts.
A mother's diet around the time of conception can permanently influence her baby's DNA, research suggests.
Animal experiments show diet in pregnancy can switch genes on or off, but this is the first human evidence.
The research followed women in rural Gambia, where seasonal climate leads to big differences in diet between rainy and dry periods.
It emphasises the need for a well-balanced diet before conception and in pregnancy, says a UK/US team.
Scientists followed 84 pregnant women who conceived at the peak of the rainy season, and about the same number who conceived at the peak of the dry season.
Nutrient levels were measured in blood samples taken from the women; while the DNA of their babies was analysed two to eight months after birth.
Lead scientist Dr Branwen Hennig, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said it was the first demonstration in humans that a mother's nutrition at the time of conception can change how her child's genes will be interpreted for life.
She told BBC News: "Our results have shown that maternal nutrition pre-conception and in early pregnancy is important and may have implications for health outcomes of the next generation.
"Women should have a well-balanced food diet prior to conception and during pregnancy."
Experiments in mice show diet during pregnancy can have a life-long impact on the genes of offspring.
For instance, the coat colour of a mouse is influenced by its mother's diet.
These are known as "epigenetic effects" (modifications to DNA that turn genes on and off).
One such modification involves attaching chemicals called methyl groups to DNA.
Infants from rainy season conceptions had consistently higher rates of methylation in all six genes studied, the researchers found.
These were linked to various levels of nutrients in the mother's blood.
But it is not yet known what the genes do, and what effect the process might have.
Co-researcher Dr Rob Waterland of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston said the findings, published in Nature Communications, were a proof in principle that a mother's diet can have epigenetic effects.
The research was showing that a mother's nutrition "can leave permanent marks on her child's genome on all the cells of the body", he told BBC News.
Co-author Andrew Prentice, professor of international nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, added: "Our ultimate goal is to define an optimal diet for mothers-to-be that would prevent defects in the methylation process."
Tennessee set to criminalise pregnant women who use illegal drugs
Tennessee is poised to become the first state in the US to criminalise pregnant women for harm caused to their foetuses or newborn babies as a result of addiction to illegal drugs.
The proposal, SB 1391, is expected to land on the desk of Bill Haslam, the Republican governor, early next week. He will then have 10 days to decide whether to sign it into law.
If Haslam passes the bill, which cleared both chambers of the state legislature last week with resounding majorities, Tennessee will become the first state in the union to hold women criminally accountable for illegal drug use during pregnancy, with punishments of up to 15 years in prison.
Many other states, predominantly in the south, have considered similar laws but have always pulled back in the face of the overwhelming medical consensus that such moves put babies at risk.
In 2011, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that “drug enforcement policies that deter women from seeking prenatal care are contrary to the welfare of the mother and foetus. Incarceration and the threat of incarceration have proved to be ineffective in reducing the incidence of alcohol or drug abuse”.
Women’s rights groups are scrambling to persuade Haslam to veto the bill, arguing that not only would what they call the “pregnancy criminalisation law” endanger mothers and babies, but it would also make Tennessee an extreme outlier in the US, with resulting economic consequences.
Farah Diaz-Tello, staff attorney with the women’s rights group National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said the bill had potentially severe ramifications.
“It would create the idea that women are accountable to the state for the outcome of their pregnancies – and no-one can guarantee such outcomes,” she said.
SB 1391 takes an already existing fetal assault Tennessee law and allows it to be applied to prosecute pregnant women with drug issues. It says charges can be brought against a woman, ranging from misdemeanours to aggravated assault and carrying sentences of up to 15 years in prison, for “the illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant, if her child is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug or for criminal homicide if her child dies as a result of her illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant”.
Opponents of the bill point to a dearth of treatment facilities that makes it virtually impossible for poor women, who are disproportionately African American, to seek help. There are 177 addiction treatment centres in Tennessee, but only two offer prenatal care on site. Only 19 provide any services for pregnant women.
Cherisse Scott, head of the Tennessee health rights group SisterReach, said the new legislation would demonise a woman with drug addiction problems.
“It treats her as someone who can think and make decisions as though she were sober,” she said, “yet offers her no treatment to help her deal with her addiction.”
Scott added: “Addiction is an illness. Pregnant women struggling with addiction need access to treatment, not jail time. Drug addiction isn’t a choice, it’s a health problem.”
The Tennessee law is the latest attempt by Republican-controlled legislatures across the US to chip away at the constitutional guarantee of the right to abortion in Roe vs Wade, by giving foetuses legal protections in their own right.
Several states have debated so-called “personhood” laws that would treat the fertilised egg from conception to birth as a legal entity, though no such laws have so far been enacted.
Thirty-eight states have variations of fetal homicide laws on their books that can lead to criminal prosecutions in cases of induced miscarriages and other pre-natal trauma, but these were all designed to protect unborn children from assault by third parties such as violent partners of the pregnant mother.
In two states – South Carolina and Alabama – pregnant women can be criminally prosecuted for harming their foetuses. This provision, however, was established through rulings by the supreme court of each state rather than through legislative action.
The most authoritative study of the spread of the criminalisation of pregnancy across the US, by the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, found that between 1973, when Roe vs Wade came into play, and 2005 there were 413 criminal and civil cases in which women were arrested or detained for their actions while pregnant.
Some were put in prison or held in hospitals or mental institutions; others were forced to have medical interventions including surgery.
Any opinions, advice, statements or other information expressed or made available on BabyandBump.Momtastic.com by users or third parties, including but not limited to bloggers, are solely those of the respective user or other third party. They do not reflect the opinions of BabyandBump.Momtastic.com and they have not been reviewed by a physician, psychologist or parenting expert or any member of the BabyandBump.Momtastic.com staff for accuracy, balance or objectivity. Content and other information presented on BabyandBump.Momtastic.com are not a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on BabyandBump.Momtastic.com. BabyandBump.Momtastic.com does not endorse any opinion, advice, statement, product, service or treatment made available on the website. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.