HEALTH

Research: Vitamin D levels during pregnancy could impact birth weight

BY Michael Johnsen

CHEVY CHASE, Md. — Vitamin D levels in women during pregnancy could impact birth weight, according to research released Tuesday by the Endocrine Society.

“We found that a mother’s vitamin D level, in the first or second trimester of pregnancy, was related to the normal growth of babies who delivered at term,” stated Alison Gernand of the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of the study. “If a mother was vitamin D-deficient, the birth weight of her baby was 46 g lower after accounting for other characteristics of the mom. Also, if moms were vitamin D-deficient in the first trimester, they had twice the risk of delivering a baby that suffered from growth restriction during the pregnancy.”

The major source of vitamin D for children and adults is exposure to natural sunlight. Very few foods naturally contain or are fortified with vitamin D. Thus, the major cause of vitamin D deficiency is inadequate exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency can result in abnormalities in calcium, phosphorus and bone metabolism, and there has been recent interest in understanding the role of vitamin D in other health conditions. Previous studies have shown inconsistent associations between maternal vitamin D status and fetal size.

The study has been accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

 

 

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HEALTH

GSK launches smoking-cessation site

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — The consumer healthcare division of drug maker GlaxoSmithKline has launched a new website designed to encourage people to quit smoking and promote such products as nicotine gums, lozenges and patches.

Quit.com is described as a "total quit-smoking online resource" that includes features to help smokers create personalized plans for quitting without relapsing.

"Quitting smoking is tough and requires focus and effort, but that’s only half the equation," University of Pittsburgh addiction researcher and paid consult to GSK Saul Shiffman said.

The company noted that 15 million smokers try to quit each year, but only 5% succeed when they go cold turkey or use no support.


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American Heart Association joins NSAID education group

BY Alaric DeArment

EUGENE, Ore. — The American Heart Association has joined a group of patient and provider organizations promoting safe use of a commonly used class of painkillers.

The AHA announced that it had joined the Alliance for the Rational Use of NSAIDs, which refers to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a class that includes the common drug ibuprofen. Other members include the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

According to the alliance, about 23 million people in the United States use NSAIDs on a daily basis, and 98 million prescriptions for them have been filled this year, but studies have indicated that overuse of the drugs can cause severe problems in the digestive system, kidneys and heart. A recent study published in the journal Circulation found that heart attack survivors who used NSAIDs were 59% more likely to die from any cause within one year of their heart attack, and 63% more likely within five years. In addition, survivors faced a 30% increased risk of having another heart attack or dying from coronary artery disease after a year and a 41% increased risk after five years.

"The alliance’s mission to support the education of healthcare professionals and patients about appropriate use of these drugs is critical for us, particularly in light of the new Circulation study," AHA board member and Harvard Medical School professor Elliott Antman said.


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