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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 08:48 AM   1
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Pregnancy News Just In: Home test shows if pregnancy has ended

Here you will you find all the latest news stories relating to pregnancy, birth, babies and young children from all over the world. Updated daily.

Discuss what you think about the latest news stories and share your thoughts.

Some news stories may seem unture/stupid but all stories have recently been in the media.


  • Caffeine guidelines in pregnancy 'may need to be lowered'.
  • Babies can hear syllables in the womb, says research.
  • Breast milk delivery launched by Midland blood bikes.
  • Mother's bid up to £100 for formula on eBay after shortage.
  • Trying for a baby? Now's the best time: Men have healthier sperm in winter and spring.
  • Pregnancy rhesus disease errors too common.
  • One In Fourteen Women Have An Eating Disorder During Pregnancy, Research Reveals.
  • Oxford trust publishes alcohol-related foetus disorder guidelines.

  • Home test shows if pregnancy has ended.
  • Pregnancy belt lets daddy feel when the baby kicks too.
  • New tests to check on pregnancy progress.
  • Women who smoke in pregnancy could cause their GREAT GRANDCHILDREN to develop asthma.
  • A weekly yoga class can help ease stress during pregnancy and reduce women's fear of childbirth.
  • Pre-pregnancy diet 'permanently influences baby's DNA'
  • Tennessee set to criminalise pregnant women who use illegal drugs

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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 08:49 AM   2
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Caffeine guidelines in pregnancy 'may need to be lowered'

In Britain women are recommended to consume no more than 200mg of caffeine per day while pregnant, which can be as little as one cup of strong coffee from a High Street chain.

However a Norwegian study has found that women sticking to these recommendations were up to 18 per cent more likely to have a baby that was small for their age.

One in ten women in the study exceeded the guidelines and the odds of a small baby increased to between 20 and 60 per cent higher than the group who consumed the least caffeine.

Babies who are small for their gestational age can be at increased risk of complications.

It has been thought that excessive caffeine in pregnancy may be linked to premature birth but the latest study did not find that.

In fact coffee intake was linked with a marginal lengthening of the pregnancy but this was found not to be due to caffeine and may be some other substance found in coffee, the researchers said.

The study was conducted very carefully with 60,000 women reporting their dietary habits at 15, 22 and 30 weeks of pregnancy. Caffeine intake was calculated from all sources, including tea, chocolate, cocoa, soft drinks and various types of coffee.

The authors writing in the journal BioMed Central Medicine said: "We could not find a threshold for the association of caffeine consumption and small for gestational age risk.

"Until there is clarity if there is a causal association between caffeine intake and increased risk for small for gestational age, women might be advised to reduce their caffeine consumption as much as possible during pregnancy."

Caffeine passes freely to the baby in pregnancy and the developing feotus does not have the enzymes necessary to break it down.

Dr Verena Sengpiel, from Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden, who led the project said: "Although caffeine consumption is strongly correlated with smoking which is known to increase the risk for both preterm delivery and the baby being small for gestational age at birth (SGA).

"In this study we found no association between either total caffeine or coffee caffeine and preterm delivery but we did find an association between caffeine and small for gestational age.

"This association remained even when we looked only at non-smoking mothers which implies that the caffeine itself is also having an effect on birth weight."

For a child of expected average weight (3.6kg) this equates to 21-28g lost per 100mg caffeine per day.

Caffeine intake from coffee was associated with a longer pregnancy, equating to eight hours extra for every 100mg caffeine per day.

Dr Pat O'Brien, spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said the study was 'strong' and the results justified a wider look at the evidence to establish if the current guidelines needed to be revised.

He said: "These kinds of studies can never be perfect, but it is a decent study and has a large number of women included so it is valid.

"It is worth looking at this again in more detail. I would not recommend changing the caffeine guidelines based on one study but we should have another look at all the evidence and see where the truth lies."

He said the effect of caffeine on the average birthweight baby was not clinically significant but the increased odds of having a small for gestational age baby were significant and caffeine may be having a more important affect on them.

A baby is said to be small for gestational weight if it weighs 2.5 kilograms or less after a normal length pregnancy. Such babies can suffer complications at birth or long term health problems, including impaired neurodevelopment.

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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 08:57 AM   3
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Babies can hear syllables in the womb, says research.

Scientists say babies decipher speech as early as three months before birth.

The evidence comes from detailed brain scans of 12 infants born prematurely.

At just 28 weeks' gestation, the babies appeared to discriminate between different syllables like "ga" and "ba" as well as male and female voices.

Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the French team said it was unlikely the babies' experience outside the womb would have affected their findings.

The research lends support to the idea that babies develop language skills while still in the womb in response to their parents' voices.

Experts already know that babies are able to hear noises in the womb - the ear and the auditory part of the brain that allow this are formed by around 23 weeks' gestation.

But it is still debated whether humans are born with an innate ability to process speech or whether this is something acquired through learning after birth.

The authors of the study in PNAS say environmental factors are undoubtedly important, but based on their findings they believe linguistic processes are innate.

Dr Fabrice Wallois and colleagues say: "Our results demonstrate that the human brain, at the very onset of the establishment of a cortical circuit for auditory perception, already discriminates subtle differences in speech syllables."

But they add that this "does not challenge the fact that experience is also crucial for their fine tuning and for learning the specific properties of the native language".

Their brain scan study was carried out in the first few days following birth, so it is possible that the noises and sounds the newborns encountered in their new environment outside of the womb may have triggered rapid development. However, the researchers doubt this.

Prof Sophie Scott, an expert in speech perception at University College London, said the findings supported and added to current knowledge.

"We know that babies hear can hear their mother's voice in the womb and pick up on the pitch and rhythm.

"And they use this information - newborn babies are soothed by their mother's voice from the minute they are born."

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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 08:59 AM   4
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Breast milk delivery launched by Midland blood bikes.

A charity motorbike breast milk delivery service has been launched to help premature babies.

Midland Freewheelers Emergency Rider Voluntary Service began transporting donated breast milk for babies at Birmingham Women's Hospital on Monday.

The milk is given to sick or premature babies when breast milk cannot be provided by their mother.

The service has about 25 volunteer bikers who transport blood and medical supplies free of charge to hospitals.

It is the first time the charity has delivered milk.

Dr Gemma Holder, of Birmingham Women's Hospital, said illness, insufficient supply or separation from the baby could affect a mother's ability to supply breast milk.

Breast milk from a network of donors is used instead as it helps improve the immune system and fight off infections.

She said the milk was "vital to help save the lives of sick or premature babies".

Dr Holder added: "Now we're in partnership with the blood bike charity it means we are able to rely on a swift and constant delivery of the much-needed milk."

Ray Hart, of Midland Freewheelers Blood Bikes, said: "It is vitally important that sick and premature babies get the best possible start in life; our service will enable us to deliver supplies of life-saving breast milk from mother to hospital quickly and efficiently."

He said the charity was appealing for more business sponsors to keep the service free of charge "to help the cash-strapped NHS save money".

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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 14:35 PM   5
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Mother's bid up to £100 for formula on eBay after shortage

Mothers are paying up to four times the recommended price for formula milk after two popular brands sold out in shops last month.

Cow & Gate Comfort and Aptamil Comfort are marketed for babies who show signs of colic or constipation.

Some infants have become hungry and distressed since the shortage began, leading parents to take desperate measures.

On eBay, one lot of three of the 900g tubs – officially priced at £10.99 each – had yesterday attracted 23 bids and was being sold for £100 plus £8 postage.

Babies raised on a particular formula are often extremely reluctant to switch to a new product or brand because they reject the taste and consistency.
As a result, feeding – which can often already be extremely stressful for parents – may become even more difficult.

One mother, Catherine Russell, from Cheshire, said that she had resorted to feeding her 11-month-old daughter Hattie with a replacement formula when she had fallen asleep. The 31-year-old mother of three said: ‘This is an absolute nightmare. Parents had no warning that there was a problem.’

Both Aptamil and Cow & Gate are owned by French firm Danone, who say that the shortage is due to problems in the supply of a crucial ingredient, maize starch, which is used to thicken the milk.

Mrs Russell said: ‘My daughter has a slight lactose intolerance, which means I can’t put her on other types of formula. I tried alternative products and brands, but she just refuses to drink milk now.

‘I have had to take to feeding her while she is asleep, because that is the only way she will take it.

‘I feel very let down by the company. You can’t bring out these products only for them to suddenly disappear off the shelves, especially when you are dealing with the health of new born babies.’

The shortage has sparked an outcry on parenting websites.

On the Netmums website, one mother said that she had called more than 100 outlets in her search for the products.

Another wrote: ‘Does anyone know where I can get some dodgy Aptamil Comfort on the black market, I’ll pay good money!!!’

It had been feared that the products would not return on to the shelves until mid-March, but Danone said that it has responded to parents’ demands to bring forward the date to next week.

A spokesman said: ‘We very much regret that we are currently experiencing a shortage of these two milks which means parents are experiencing low and patchy availability.

‘We would like to apologise to parents who are using these milks as we are very aware of difficulties they are experiencing. Unfortunately we have experienced a production delay due to the shortage of one key ingredient.

‘Our careline operates 24/7 and as a priority we are helping parents to locate retailers who have these milks in stock. We recommend parents contact their health care professional if they need further advice.’
Danone spokesperson Helen Messenger said the company had been 'let down' by its maize starch supplier.

She said: 'We only use pre-approved suppliers, we don't buy our ingredients from the open market because babies have to have the best quality standards.

'Unfortunately on this occasion we were let down by our supplier, however, we have pulled all the stops out and we have made more of that formula and it will be coming back on to shelves next week.'

Maize starch, also known as corn starch or cornflour, is used as a thickening agent in liquid-based foods including soups, gravies and sauces.

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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 09:54 AM   6
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Trying for a baby? Now's the best time: Men have healthier sperm in winter and spring

Men have healthier sperm in winter and early spring than in summer, new research has revealed.

Israeli scientists studied samples from more than 6,000 men who were being treated for infertility.

They found sperm in greater numbers, with faster swimming speeds, and fewer abnormalities, in semen made during the winter.

The sperm declined steadily in quality from spring onwards.

The researchers say this may explain why there are so many babies born in the autumn.

The reason why sperm appears to be healthier in winter isn't yet clear. One theory is sperm is affected by warn temperatures.
In animal studies, seasonal changes in sperm production and fertility have been linked to factors ranging from temperature, to length of daylight exposure and hormone variations.

Writing in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, the researchers said that if there is a seasonal pattern, that knowledge may ‘be of paramount importance, especially in couples with male-related infertility struggling with unsuccessful and prolonged fertility treatments.’

For the new study, Professor Eliahu Levitas and his colleagues, from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, collected and analysed 6,455 semen samples from men at their fertility clinic between January 2006 and July 2009.
Of those, 4,960 were found to have normal sperm production, and 1,495 had abnormal production, such as low sperm counts.

The World Health Organisation defines anything over 16 million sperm per millilitre of semen as a normal sperm count.

Taking into account the approximately 70 days it takes for the body to produce a sperm cell, the researchers found that men with normal sperm production had the healthiest sperm in the winter.

For example, those men produced about 70 million sperm per millilitre of semen during the winter.

About five per cent of those sperm had ‘fast’ motility, or swimming speed, which improves a couple's chance of getting pregnant.

That compared to the approximately 68 million sperm per millilitre the men produced in the spring, of which only about three per cent were ‘fast’.

For men with abnormal sperm production, however, the pattern did not hold.

Those men showed a slight trend toward better motility during the autumn and made the largest percentage of normal shaped sperm - about seven per cent - during the spring.

Previous studies, mostly in animals, have found similar results in line with those species' breeding seasons, Dr Edmund Sabanegh, a urologist who was not involved in the new research, told Reuters Health.

‘The hard part of this is really sorting out what factor is accounting for this,’ said Dr Sabanegh, the chairman of the urology department at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic.

In animal studies, seasonal changes in sperm production and fertility have been linked to factors ranging from temperature, to length of daylight exposure and hormone variations.

Previous research has found that human sperm counts around the world are falling.

While no one knows why, theories range from a more sedentary lifestyle to chemicals in the environment that affect sperm health.

Dr Sabanegh added he does not believe that doctors will start telling men with low sperm counts to wait until the winter or spring to try to conceive a child.

‘We would continue to encourage them to try regardless of the season, and they may benefit from interventions or treatments,’ he said.

The research comes just after new figures showed that nearly 20 per cent of couples spend more than a year trying for a baby.

Experts have named women delaying motherhood and the obesity epidemic as the two most likely reasons for rising infertility.

There are now more mothers over 30 than at any time since records began - and further research has shown being overweight can interfere with ovulation in woman and sperm quality in men.

Further research published last month showed that young men who watch television for just three hours a day have half the sperm count of men rarely found in front of the box.

For the first time, the study showed falling sperm quality is linked to lower levels of physical activity.

Men who are mostly sedentary lose out to those who are moderately active, said the Harvard University study which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Experts say the effect could be due to lack of exercise, or to overheating of the testicles caused by prolonged sitting.

It is also believed that eating a diet rich in saturated fats can lower sperm count in men.

Danish researchers found men who ate the most saturated fat had significantly lower sperm counts and poorer quality sperm than those who consumed the least.

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Old Mar 14th, 2013, 10:05 AM   7
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Pregnancy rhesus disease errors too common

Some pregnant women are being denied a routine treatment to protect their unborn child, say investigators.

A simple injection can prevent a life-threatening condition known as rhesus disease, which occurs if the mother and her baby have incompatible blood groups.

All pregnant women should be screened and any found to have rhesus-negative blood should be offered the anti-D jab.

A UK-wide audit of NHS hospitals shows this is not happening.

Over a period of 15 years from 1996 to 2011 there were 1,211 errors where women who should have received immediate treatment with the anti-D injection did not.

In half of these cases, the woman either did not receive the treatment at all or received it late - mostly because the nurse, midwife or doctor on duty at the time failed to follow basic protocols.

Laboratory errors accounted for just over a quarter of the cases.

In a fifth of cases, the anti-D was given entirely inappropriately - either mistakenly to the wrong mother or to a woman who did not need it.

In nine cases, babies suffered the full-blown effects of the disease. One died and three needed blood transfusions.

The study authors from the University of Manchester are concerned that anti-D errors are still too common despite clear treatment guidelines.

Lead researcher Dr Paula Bolton-Maggs said: "Our findings show that over the 15 year reporting period the same mistakes were being made repeatedly by clinical and laboratory staff.

"These are clinically significant problems that require active attention at a national and local level as reported errors could be avoided by putting in place appropriate checks."

Louise Silverton, of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: "We welcome this audit report.

"The RCM expects each maternity unit to have systems in place to ensure that all women requiring the anti-D prophylaxis injection receive it regardless of their length of postnatal stay, especially where they live outside the unit's catchment area.

"This is especially important given the increase in births and pressure on maternity services.

"We need more midwives and more midwifery visits in the community so they can administer anti-D at home under the agreed time limits and spend time with women after they have given birth."

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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 13:42 PM   8
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One In Fourteen Women Have An Eating Disorder During Pregnancy, Research Reveals

One in 14 women have an eating disorder in the first three months of their pregnancy, according to research published on Monday.

A survey of more than 700 pregnant women by University College London (UCL) found a quarter were "highly concerned about their weight and shape".

Two per cent of those questioned were found to fast, exercise excessively, induce vomiting, and misuse laxatives or diuretics to avoid gaining weight during pregnancy.

The study - funded by the National Institute for Health Research - also found one in 12 pregnant women said they would overeat and lose control over what they ate twice a week.

Dr Nadia Micali, from the UCL Institute of Child Health, who led the study, said: "There is good evidence from our research that eating disorders in pregnancy can affect both the mother and the developing baby.

"Greater awareness of eating disorders and their symptoms amongst antenatal health care professionals would help to better identify and manage such disorders amongst pregnant women."

The researchers have called for women to be screened for eating disorders at their first antenatal check-up due to the adverse affects on the health of the mother and the baby.

Writing in the European Eating Disorders Review, they warned that many pregnant women with eating disorders are currently being left untreated.

Dr Abigail Easter, also from the UCL Institute of Child Health, added: "Women with eating disorders are often reluctant to disclose their illness to healthcare professionals, possibly due to a fear of stigma or fear that health services might respond in a negative way.

"Typical pregnancy symptoms such as weight gain and vomiting can also mask the presence of an eating disorder. Many women with eating disorders may therefore go undetected and untreated during pregnancy."

About 1.4 million women nationwide suffer from eating disorders, around 4% of the female population.

The women answered an anonymous questionnaire at their first routine antenatal scan, which asked about their eating habits in the six to 12 months before becoming pregnant.

Any symptoms were assessed during the first three months of their pregnancy.

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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 13:45 PM   9
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Oxford trust publishes alcohol-related foetus disorder guidelines

A charity has published recommendations for medical staff to tackle a foetal disorder caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

The Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Trust, based in Oxford, has called for alcohol-tests to be given to pregnant women by midwives.

A Royal College Of Midwives spokeswoman said it "would question any attempts to place the midwife in a policing role".

FASD conditions include permanent brain damage and behavioural difficulties.

The FASD Trust published the report with the help of 70 medical specialists.

The report was led by Dr Raja Mukherjee, who said FASD was still "under-diagnosed" and "many of those affected grow up unaware of their condition".

As well as alcohol testing, the proposed guidelines also call for clearer information for mothers-to-be to raise awareness of FASD.

The report states that a range of medical professionals, including midwives, need to be further educated in recognising FASD symptoms and not misdiagnosing the condition.

Janet Fyle from the Royal College of Midwives said: "It is more appropriate that midwives engage with women in a non-judgmental way to discuss and explain the issues around alcohol and problem alcohol consumption."

Pregnant women with an alcohol-dependency are at a greater risk of their foetuses developing the disorder.

According to the FASD Trust, the effects of the condition can be physical - including particular facial characteristics - but also mental or behavioural, such as "anxiety, social communication difficulties, poor attention and even criminal behaviour".

A Department of Health spokesman said, since 2007, advice had been that women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant should avoid alcohol.

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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 13:59 PM   10
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Baby formula milk should have cigarette-style health warnings

Formula milk should carry much larger ‘cigarette-style’ warnings that breast is best, a leading charity says today.

Save the Children wants the messages to be big enough to cover at least a third of the packaging.

Its proposal would apply to the UK and other European nations as well as the developing world.

Campaigners claim, however, that the advice will only pile guilt on mothers who want to breastfeed but are unable to do so.
The Department of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months with optional further breastfeeding when the baby moves on to solids.

But a report, Superfood for Babies, released today by Save the Children, says the lives of 95 babies could be saved every hour worldwide – 830,000 a year – if new mothers breastfed immediately after giving birth.

It points out the benefits of babies receiving colostrum – the mother’s first milk – within an hour of birth.

This kickstarts children’s immune systems, making them three times more likely to survive.

However, the report says marketing practices by some breast milk substitute companies can result in mothers believing formula is the best way to feed their baby even if they are unable to afford it.

The aid agency is launching a petition to get breast milk substitute companies ‘to increase health warnings that formula is inferior to breast milk to cover a third of its packaging’.

At present, all formula milks in the UK have to carry mandatory advice – under the heading ‘Important Notice’ – that says breast feeding is best for babies.

The message ‘breastfeeding is best’ is carried on an advice panel the size of two postage stamps and hidden among information about ingredients and how to make it.

Mothers are advised that the ‘product be used only on the advice of a doctor, midwife, health visitor, public health nurse, dietitian, pharmacist, or other professional responsible for maternal and child care’.

Brendan Cox, director of policy at Save the Children, said changes to warnings would have to apply in the UK and other developed countries because the packs might be exported to the Third World.

He said: ‘It’s about having a standard measure of packaging information saying that breastfeeding is the most effective way of protecting the health of the child.

'We have lots of examples of formula products where the information is illegible or very small.’

But Clare Byam-Cook, former nurse, midwife and breast feeding counsellor, said the report was ‘emotive’ and ignored the fact that feeding babies in the UK was different to the Third World.

‘The saving of 95 babies applies to developing countries, not Britain,’ she added.

‘I’m concerned that cigarette-style warnings will increase the guilt felt by mums who need or want to use formula feed – when all women are aware that breastfeeding is good for the baby and the mother.

'These mothers already feel a failure because they have to use formula feed and then they are treated like bad people when buying it.’

The author of Top Tips For Breast Feeding and Top Tips For Bottle Feeding added: ‘Ask any sheep farmer if animals can always produce enough milk and the answer is no. The same principle applies in humans.’

Research shows breast milk protects babies against stomach bugs, chest infections, asthma, eczema, and allergies, and confers health advantages in later life.

Survey findings show around two thirds of women and parents of under-fives think large warning labels would be a ‘step too far’.
Only one in four people thought it would be a ‘reasonable move to discourage parents from using infant formula milks’, says the Populus survey of 2,000 Britons.

Helen Messenger, of Danone Baby Nutrition, which makes Cow & Gate and Aptamil, said: ‘Infant formula is the only safe, legal alternative to breast feeding and we believe an increase in the size of the warning label is counterproductive in that it would send mixed messages to parents and potentially confuse them about which milks can be used safely for babies.

‘Our products are safe and popular with parents because they meet a real need for mums who choose to bottle feed. All of our infant formulas carry warning labels and meet strict legislative rules.’

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