City University London study: Infants prefer toys typed to their gender

24 Jul

Some in society are pushing the concept of gender-neutral.  Alina Tugend wrote Engendering Sons: Is It Doable—or Even Desirable—to Raise Gender-Neutral Children?

Overcoming gender disparities may require us to take a more nuanced approach to problem solving. For example, if we want more girls and women, who are now woefully underrepresented, to take more science, technology, engineering, and math classes, and we agree that it’s not innate ability holding them back, the answer might be to show scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to be attractive and caring rather than nerdy. Or change the physical environment of classrooms and laboratories to make them more appealing to girls.

Then again, does this counter or reinforce gender stereotypes? Good people disagree.

One thing that’s easy to forget, as Janet Hyde points out, is that variations within genders are greater than variations between them. I see the truth of that in my own home. Both my boys are into sports, but one is far more talkative and intellectually curious, while the other ranks higher on intuition and emotional intelligence. If they were a boy and a girl, it would be easy to attribute these differences to gender. As it is, I guess I’ll have to blame—or credit—the vast and ever-shifting mishmash of biology, parenting, peer influence, and culture.                                                                                      http://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/winter-2014-gender-assumptions/engendering-sons-it-doable-or-even-desirable

One study points to the idea that gender concept starts early.

Science Daily reported in Infants prefer toys typed to their gender:

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study from academics at City University London and UCL.

The paper, which is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development, shows that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences were evident at an earlier age than gendered identity is usually demonstrated.

The research therefore suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.

To investigate the gender preferences seen with toys, the researchers observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The toys used in the study were a doll, a pink teddy bear and a cooking pot for girls, while for boys a car, a blue teddy, a digger and a ball were used.

The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N=40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N=29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N=32).

Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys….

“Our results show that there are significant sex differences across all three age groups, with the finding that children in the youngest group, who were aged between 9-17months when infants are able to crawl or walk and therefore make independent selections, being particularly interesting; the ball was a favourite choice for the youngest boys and the youngest girls favoured the cooking pot.”                                                                                                                     https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160715114739.htm

Citation:

Infants prefer toys typed to their gender, says study

Date:        July 15, 2016

Source:    City University

Summary:

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study. The research suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.

Journal Reference:

  1. Brenda K. Todd, John A. Barry, Sara A. O. Thommessen. Preferences for ‘Gender-typed’ Toys in Boys and Girls Aged 9 to 32 Months. Infant and Child Development, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/icd.1986

View Full Article (HTML) Enhanced Article (HTML) Get PDF (128K)

Keywords:

  • sex differences;
  • toy preference;
  • play;
  • infancy;
  • gender differences

Many studies have found that a majority of boys and girls prefer to play with toys that are typed to their own gender but there is still uncertainty about the age at which such sex differences first appear, and under what conditions. Applying a standardized research protocol and using a selection of gender-typed toys, we observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N = 40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N = 29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N  = 32). Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys. Theoretical implications of the findings are discussed with regard to biological predispositions, cognitive development and environmental influences on toy preference. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Here is the press release from City University:

Infants prefer toys typed to their gender, says study

Research suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys

First published Wednesday, 20th July, 2016 • by George Wigmore (Senior Communications Officer)

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study from academics at City University London and UCL.

The paper, which is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development, shows that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences were evident at an earlier age than gendered identity is usually demonstrated.

The research therefore suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.

To investigate the gender preferences seen with toys, the researchers observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The toys used in the study were a doll, a pink teddy bear and a cooking pot for girls, while for boys a car, a blue teddy, a digger and a ball were used.

The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N=40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N=29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N=32).

Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys.

Speaking about the study, Dr Brenda Todd, a senior lecturer in psychology at City University said:

“Sex differences in play and toy choice are of interest in relation to child care, educational practice and developmental theory. Historically there has been uncertainty about the origins of boys’ and girls’ preferences for play with toys typed to their own sex and the developmental processes that underlie this behaviour. As a result we set out to find out whether a preference occurs and at what age it develops.

“Biological differences give boys an aptitude for mental rotation and more interest and ability in spatial processing, while girls are more interested in looking at faces and better at fine motor skills and manipulating objects. When we studied toy preference in a familiar nursery setting with parents absent, the differences we saw were consistent with these aptitudes. Although there was variability between individual children, we found that, in general, boys played with male-typed toys more than female-typed toys and girls played with female-typed toys more than male-typed toys.

“Our results show that there are significant sex differences across all three age groups, with the finding that children in the youngest group, who were aged between 9–17 months when infants are able to crawl or walk and therefore make independent selections, being particularly interesting; the ball was a favourite choice for the youngest boys and the youngest girls favoured the cooking pot.”

‘Preferences for ‘Gender-typed’ Toys in Boys and Girls Aged 9 to 32 Months’ by Brenda K. Todd et al is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development. View the full article   http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/icd.1986/full

Melanie Phillips of the Spectator wrote in It’s dangerous and wrong to tell all children they’re ‘gender fluid’:

In short, the political class is obsessed by gender issues. I trust you are, too. Surely you can reel off the differences between trans, intersex, polygender, asexual, gender–neutral and genderqueer? Do keep up. We’re all gender fluid now, no?

No. Gender is not fluid. What is fluid, however, is the language.

The notion that gender can be deconstructed in accordance with ideology started in the 1970s when (ironically, in view of the Greer row) it was promoted by feminists for whom gender was not a biological fact but a social construct. But it’s not. Gender derives from a complex relationship between biological sex and behaviour. And nature and nurture are not easily separable. Some unfortunates feel they are trapped in the wrong gender. Surgery may or may not resolve this confusion. Many who change sex still don’t feel comfortable; tragically, some even commit suicide.

Crucially, however, such people are desperate to make that change. That’s because for trans people gender is certainly not irrelevant but is of all–consuming importance. Yet Miller and her committee would deprive them of the ability to announce their new sexual identity on passports or other official documents.

Is this not, by Miller’s own logic, cruelty to trans people? But of course logic doesn’t come into this. Gender politics is all about subjective feelings. It has nothing to do with fairness or equality. It embodies instead an extreme egalitarianism which holds that any evidence of difference is a form of prejudice….                                                                                                                            http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/its-dangerous-and-wrong-to-tell-all-children-theyre-gender-fluid/

The only that is certain is the PC class will hate the City University study.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART ©                                                http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                                         http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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New York University study: Infantile memory study points to critical periods in early-life learning for brain development

19 Jul

Prolonged stress can have adverse effects on humans. Moi wrote about the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study in Study: Some of the effects of adverse stress do not go away:

Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, Research Traces Impacts of Childhood Adversity:

Research from Dr. Shonkoff’s center and from other experts finds that positive stress—the kind that comes from telling a toddler he can’t have a cookie or a teenager that she’s about to take a pop quiz—causes a brief rise in heart rate and stress hormones. A jolt can focus a student’s attention and is generally considered healthy.

Similarly, a child can tolerate stress that is severe but may be relatively short-term—from the death of a loved one, for example—as long as he or she has support….

‘Toxic’ Recipe

By contrast, so-called “toxic stress” is severe, sustained, and not buffered by supportive relationships.

The same brain flexibility, called plasticity, that makes children open to learning in their early years also makes them particularly vulnerable to damage from the toxic stressors that often accompany poverty: high mobility and homelessness; hunger and food instability; parents who are in jail or absent; domestic violence; drug abuse; and other problems, according to Pat Levitt, a developmental neuroscientist at the University of Southern California and the director of the Keck School of Medicine Center on the Developing Child in Los Angeles…. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/11/07/11poverty_ep.h32.html?tkn=QLYF5qldyT3U0BI0xqtD5885mihZIxwbX4qZ&cmp=clp-edweek

Here is information about the Adverse Child Experiences Study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides access to the peer-reviewed publications resulting from The ACE Study. http://acestudy.org/

https://drwilda.com/2012/11/09/study-some-of-the-effects-of-adverse-stress-do-not-go-away/

Science Daily reported in Infantile memory study points to critical periods in early-life learning for brain development:

A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research, conducted by scientists at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life; this is when memories are believed to be quickly forgotten — a phenomenon known as infantile amnesia.

“What our findings tell us is that children’s brains need to get enough and healthy activation even before they enter pre-school,” explains Cristina Alberini, a professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science, who led the study. “Without this, the neurological system runs the risk of not properly developing learning and memory functions…”

In their study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the researchers examined the mechanisms of infantile memory in rats — i.e., memories created 17 days after birth. This is the equivalent of humans under the age of three and when memories of who, what, when, and where — known as episodic memories — are rapidly forgotten. The phenomenon, referred as to “infantile or childhood amnesia,” is in fact the inability of adults to retrieve episodic memories that took place during the first two to four years of life.

In addressing this matter, Alberini and her colleagues compared rats’ infantile memory with that when they reached 24 days old — that is, when they are capable of forming and retaining long-term memories and at an age that roughly corresponds to humans at six to nine years old.

The episodic memory tested in the rodents was the memory of an aversive experience: a mild foot shock received upon entering in a new place. Adult rats, like humans, remember unpleasant or painful experiences that they had in specific places, and then avoid returning to them.

To do so, rodents were placed in a box divided into two compartments: a “safe” compartment and a “shock” compartment. During the experiment, each rat was placed in the safe compartment with its head facing away from the door. After 10 seconds, the door separating the compartments was automatically opened, allowing the rat access to the shock compartment. If the rat entered the shock compartment, it received a mild foot shock.

The first set of results was not surprising. The authors found infantile amnesia for the 17 day-old rats, which showed avoidance of the “shock” compartment right after the experience, but lost this memory very rapidly: a day later these rats quickly returned to this compartment. In contrast, the rats exposed to the shock compartment at 24 days of life learned and retained the memory for a long time and avoided this place — revealing a memory similar to that of adult rats.

However, remarkably, the younger rats, which had apparently forgotten the initial experience, subsequently showed they actually had kept a trace of the memory. When, later in life, these rats were prompted with reminders — i.e., they were presented with recollections of the context and the foot shock — they indicated having a specific memory, which was revealed by their avoidance of the specific context in which they received a shock at day 17 of life. These findings show how early life experience, although not expressed or remembered, can influence adult life behavior.

The findings raised the following question: what is occurring — neurologically — that explains why memories are retained by the younger rats only in a latent form but are stored and expressed long-term by older ones? Or, more specifically, what occurs during development that enhances the ability to form lasting memories?

A critical period is a developmental stage during which the nervous system is especially sensitive to environmental stimuli. If, during this period, the organism does not receive the appropriate stimuli required to develop a given function, it may be difficult or even impossible to develop that function later in life. Well-known examples of critical period-based functions are sensory functions, like vision, and language acquisition.

The study shows that there is a critical period for episodic learning and that during this period the hippocampus learns to become able to efficiently process and store memories long-term…                               https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160718111939.htm

Citation:

Infantile memory study points to critical periods in early-life learning for brain development

Date:         July 18, 2016

Source:      New York University

Summary:

A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life.

Journal Reference:

  1. Alessio Travaglia, Reto Bisaz, Eric S Sweet, Robert D Blitzer, Cristina M Alberini. Infantile amnesia reflects a developmental critical period for hippocampal learning. Nature Neuroscience, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nn.4348

Here is the press release from New York University:

Infantile Memory Study Points to Critical Periods in Early-Life Learning for Brain Development

July 18, 2016

A new study on infantile memory formation in rats points to the importance of critical periods in early-life learning on functional development of the brain. The research, conducted by scientists at New York University’s Center for Neural Science, reveals the significance of learning experiences over the first two to four years of human life; this is when memories are believed to be quickly forgotten—a phenomenon known as infantile amnesia.

“What our findings tell us is that children’s brains need to get enough and healthy activation even before they enter pre-school,” explains Cristina Alberini, a professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science, who led the study. “Without this, the neurological system runs the risk of not properly developing learning and memory functions.”

The other authors of the study, conducted in collaboration with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, included: Alessio Travaglia, a post-doctoral researcher at NYU; Reto Bisaz, an NYU research scientist at the time of the study; Eric Sweet, a post-doctoral fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai; and Robert Blitzer, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai.

In their study, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the researchers examined the mechanisms of infantile memory in rats—i.e., memories created 17 days after birth. This is the equivalent of humans under the age of three and when memories of who, what, when, and where–known as episodic memories–are rapidly forgotten. The phenomenon, referred as to “infantile or childhood amnesia,” is in fact the inability of adults to retrieve episodic memories that took place during the first two to four years of life.

In addressing this matter, Alberini and her colleagues compared rats’ infantile memory with that when they reached 24 days old—that is, when they are capable of forming and retaining long-term memories and at an age that roughly corresponds to humans at six to nine years old.

The episodic memory tested in the rodents was the memory of an aversive experience: a mild foot shock received upon entering in a new place. Adult rats, like humans, remember unpleasant or painful experiences that they had in specific places, and then avoid returning to them.

To do so, rodents were placed in a box divided into two compartments: a “safe” compartment and a “shock” compartment. During the experiment, each rat was placed in the safe compartment with its head facing away from the door. After 10 seconds, the door separating the compartments was automatically opened, allowing the rat access to the shock compartment. If the rat entered the shock compartment, it received a mild foot shock.

The first set of results was not surprising. The authors found infantile amnesia for the 17 day-old rats, which showed avoidance of the “shock” compartment right after the experience, but lost this memory very rapidly: a day later these rats quickly returned to this compartment. In contrast, the rats exposed to the shock compartment at 24 days of life learned and retained the memory for a long time and avoided this place—revealing a memory similar to that of adult rats.

However, remarkably, the younger rats, which had apparently forgotten the initial experience, subsequently showed they actually had kept a trace of the memory. When, later in life, these rats were prompted with reminders—i.e., they were presented with recollections of the context and the foot shock—they indicated having a specific memory, which was revealed by their avoidance of the specific context in which they received a shock at day 17 of life. These findings show how early life experience, although not expressed or remembered, can influence adult life behavior.

The findings raised the following question: what is occurring—neurologically—that explains why memories are retained by the younger rats only in a latent form but are stored and expressed long-term by older ones? Or, more specifically, what occurs during development that enhances the ability to form lasting memories?

To address this, the scientists focused on the brain’s hippocampus, which previous scholarship has shown is necessary for encoding new episodic memories. Here, in a series of experiments similar to the box tests, they found that if the hippocampus was inactive, the ability of younger rats to form latent memories and recall them later by reminders as they got older was diminished. They then found that mechanisms of “critical periods” are fundamental for establishing these infantile memories.

A critical period is a developmental stage during which the nervous system is especially sensitive to environmental stimuli. If, during this period, the organism does not receive the appropriate stimuli required to develop a given function, it may be difficult or even impossible to develop that function later in life. Well-known examples of critical period-based functions are sensory functions, like vision, and language acquisition.

The study shows that there is a critical period for episodic learning and that during this period the hippocampus learns to become able to efficiently process and store memories long-term.

“Early in life, while the brain cannot efficiently form long-term memories, it is ‘learning’ how to do so, making it possible to establish the abilities to memorize long-term,” explains Alberini. “However, the brain needs stimulation through learning so that it can get in the practice of memory formation—without these experiences, the ability of the neurological system to learn will be impaired.”

These studies, the researchers observe, suggest that using learning and environmental interventions during a critical period may significantly help to address learning disabilities.

The research was supported, in part, by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01-MH074736, R01-NS072359), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Geneva-based Agalma Foundation.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Research, Arts and Science, Faculty

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: James Devitt | (212) 998-6808

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Resources:

The Effects of Stress on Your Body                                                                       http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/effects-of-stress-on-your-body

The Physical Effects of Long-Term Stress                                                              http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/the-physical-effects-of-long-term-stress/all/1/

Chronic Stress: The Body Connection                                                      http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53737

Understanding Stress Symptoms, Signs, Causes, and Effects                     http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART ©                                                http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                                         http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                                                https://drwilda.com/

Tufts University study: Little to no association between butter consumption, chronic disease or total mortality

10 Jul

People are concerned about the effects of fat consumption on overall health. Rochelle Bilow wrote in the Bon Appétit article Is Butter Good for You? Or Bad? What Does Science Say?

It’s time we got to the bottom of things. It’s time to finally, once and for all (sorta), answer the question: What does science say about butter? We combed through a century and a half of scientific studies to find every claim, counter-claim, and counter-counter-claim made about this delicious fat—and its slightly less delicious cousin, margarine.

1855 Americans should use oil instead of butter—because butter may be obsolete. In fact, butter is purely “respiratory,” a food that, like “sugar, starch, and alcohol, goes merely to form fat.” But wait: Maybe butter’s okay if it’s, um, fermented? Storing your butter in a “strong brine” could help it to keep for up to a year.

1884 Margarine can cause your teeth to loosen, your skin to crack, and your hair to fall out. Also, the adulteration of butter (by adding other fat solids) is a damn shame, and because it’s being tampered with, nobody wants to eat it anymore.

1886 Margarine is manufactured under no restrictions; it’s bad for dairymen, and bad for your health.

1901 There’s a lot of bacteria in butter; salted varieties keep better, so you should eat those instead of unsalted varieties.

1913 Butter’s so bad for you that it gets banned from Vassar College (along with cotton mattresses). Also, butter could carry disease. You should eat margarine.

1928 Americans eating margarine instead of butter (and also eating “five times more” potatoes) will reduce the U.S. mortality rate.

1948 Butter and margarine are equally healthy (or equally unhealthy).

1979 Butter is probably better for you than margarine, because butter hasn’t been “chemically tampered with.”

1984 Cholesterol is BAD and butter is the cause.

1990 Butter is worse for men’s cholesterol levels than vegetable oils. Also, margarine is a better choice than butter, so long as its fat levels are under 30 percent trans. Butter is the MOST DANGEROUS fat.

1993 Whether it’s butter or margarine, solid and semi-solid fats are worse for you than are natural oils.

1998 Low-trans-fat margarine is totally better for you than butter. Actually, no. Butter is better, because it’s a fresh, real food. Gah—what to believe!? Margarine apparently improves your “blood lipid profiles” better than butter. Well, that’s something, we guess.

2000 Butter can actually protect you against pretty much every ill, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and osteoporosis; butter—or actually the vitamins it contains—is essential for your health.

2002 If you’re overweight (and a rat), eating butter will make you fatter. If you’re thin (and a rat), it’ll make you skinnier.

2004 Eating butter most likely won’t increase your chances for getting breast cancer—but it may increase your ovarian cancer risk.

2006 Butter’s a little bit unhealthy (saturated fats), but so is margarine (trans fats). You should probably just use olive oil instead.

2007 To raise your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol, replace carbohydrates with fat. But this only works with unsaturated fat—so limit that butter.

2008 Artificial butter is harmful to your lungs—if inhaled.

2009 Eating butter may reduce your risk of heart attack.

2010 Margarine is a smarter choice than butter, but butter is a better choice than olive and canola oils, which raise the fats in your blood stream significantly more after eating.

2011 Butter (and cod liver oil) can help halt and reverse tooth decay.

2012 The saturated fat in butter can slow down your cognitive ability.

2013 The removal of saturated fat—that’d be butter—from our diet has made cardiovascular disease more prevalent. Although! People who eat more vegetable fats than animal fats have higher death rates.

2014 Butter—and other full-fat foods—may help us lose weight. In other good news, a new study says there is definitely no link between the saturated fat in butter and heart disease. But wait: Some big flaws with that study prove that there may be a thread of connection between butter and disease after all. No. Wait again. Butter really is okay. Just in moderation, and as a part of a balanced diet….                         http://www.bonappetit.com/entertaining-style/trends-news/article/butter-studies-roundup

Tufts University researched the association between butter consumption and disease.

Science Daily reported in Little to no association between butter consumption, chronic disease or total mortality:

Butter consumption was only weakly associated with total mortality, not associated with cardiovascular disease, and slightly inversely associated (protective) with diabetes, according to a new epidemiological study which analyzed the association of butter consumption with chronic disease and all-cause mortality. This systematic review and meta-analysis, published in PLOS ONE, was led by Tufts scientists including Laura Pimpin, Ph.D., former postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts in Boston, and senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the School.

Based on a systematic review and search of multiple online academic and medical databases, the researchers identified nine eligible research studies including 15 country-specific cohorts representing 636,151 unique individuals with a total of 6.5 million person-years of follow-up. Over the total follow-up period, the combined group of studies included 28,271 deaths, 9,783 cases of cardiovascular disease, and 23,954 cases of new-onset type 2 diabetes. The researchers combined the nine studies into a meta-analysis of relative risk.

Butter consumption was standardized across all nine studies to 14 grams/day, which corresponds to one U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated serving of butter (or roughly one tablespoon). Overall, the average butter consumption across the nine studies ranged from roughly one-third of a serving per day to 3.2 servings per day. The study found mostly small or insignificant associations of each daily serving of butter with total mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

“Even though people who eat more butter generally have worse diets and lifestyles, it seemed to be pretty neutral overall,” said Pimpin, now a data analyst in public health modelling for the UK Health Forum. “This suggests that butter may be a “middle-of-the-road” food: a more healthful choice than sugar or starch, such as the white bread or potato on which butter is commonly spread and which have been linked to higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease; and a worse choice than many margarines and cooking oils — those rich in healthy fats such as soybean, canola, flaxseed, and extra virgin olive oils — which would likely lower risk compared with either butter or refined grains, starches, and sugars….”                                                                     https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160629145200.htm

Citation:

Little to no association between butter consumption, chronic disease or total mortality

Date:               June 29, 2016

Source:           Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus

Summary:

An epidemiological study analyzing the association of butter consumption with chronic disease and mortality finds that butter was only weakly associated with total mortality, not associated with heart disease, and slightly inversely associated (protective) with diabetes.

Journal Reference:

  1. Pimpin L, Wu JHY, Haskelberg H, Del Gobbo L, Mozaffarian D. Is Butter Back? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Butter Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Total Mortality. PLOS ONE, June 2016 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158118

PLoS One. 2016 Jun 29;11(6):e0158118. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158118. eCollection 2016.

Is Butter Back? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Butter Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Total Mortality.

Pimpin L1, Wu JH2, Haskelberg H2, Del Gobbo L1,3, Mozaffarian D1.

Author information

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Dietary guidelines recommend avoiding foods high in saturated fat. Yet, emerging evidence suggests cardiometabolic benefits of dairy products and dairy fat. Evidence on the role of butter, with high saturated dairy fat content, for total mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes remains unclear. We aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze the association of butter consumption with all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in general populations.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

We searched 9 databases from inception to May 2015 without restriction on setting, or language, using keywords related to butter consumption and cardiometabolic outcomes. Prospective cohorts or randomized clinical trials providing estimates of effects of butter intake on mortality, cardiovascular disease including coronary heart disease and stroke, or diabetes in adult populations were included. One investigator screened titles and abstracts; and two reviewed full-text articles independently in duplicate, and extracted study and participant characteristics, exposure and outcome definitions and assessment methods, analysis methods, and adjusted effects and associated uncertainty, all independently in duplicate. Study quality was evaluated by a modified Newcastle-Ottawa score. Random and fixed effects meta-analysis pooled findings, with heterogeneity assessed using the I2 statistic and publication bias by Egger’s test and visual inspection of funnel plots. We identified 9 publications including 15 country-specific cohorts, together reporting on 636,151 unique participants with 6.5 million person-years of follow-up and including 28,271 total deaths, 9,783 cases of incident cardiovascular disease, and 23,954 cases of incident diabetes. No RCTs were identified. Butter consumption was weakly associated with all-cause mortality (N = 9 country-specific cohorts; per 14g(1 tablespoon)/day: RR = 1.01, 95%CI = 1.00, 1.03, P = 0.045); was not significantly associated with any cardiovascular disease (N = 4; RR = 1.00, 95%CI = 0.98, 1.02; P = 0.704), coronary heart disease (N = 3; RR = 0.99, 95%CI = 0.96, 1.03; P = 0.537), or stroke (N = 3; RR = 1.01, 95%CI = 0.98, 1.03; P = 0.737), and was inversely associated with incidence of diabetes (N = 11; RR = 0.96, 95%CI = 0.93, 0.99; P = 0.021). We did not identify evidence for heterogeneity nor publication bias.

CONCLUSIONS:

This systematic review and meta-analysis suggests relatively small or neutral overall associations of butter with mortality, CVD, and diabetes. These findings do not support a need for major emphasis in dietary guidelines on either increasing or decreasing butter consumption, in comparison to other better established dietary priorities; while also highlighting the need for additional investigation of health and metabolic effects of butter and dairy fat.

PMID:

27355649

DOI:

10.1371/journal.pone.0158118

Here is the press release from Tufts University:

Little to no association between butter consumption and chronic disease or total mortality

For More Information or to Request a Photo from this News Release, Contact:

Siobhan Gallagher

siobhan.gallagher@tufts.edu

617.636.6586

BOSTON—Butter consumption was only weakly associated with total mortality, not associated with cardiovascular disease, and slightly inversely associated (protective) with diabetes, according to a new epidemiological study which analyzed the association of butter consumption with chronic disease and all-cause mortality. This systematic review and meta-analysis, published in PLOS ONE, was led by Tufts scientists including Laura Pimpin, Ph.D., former postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts in Boston, and senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the School.

Based on a systematic review and search of multiple online academic and medical databases, the researchers identified 9 eligible research studies including 15 country-specific cohorts representing 636,151 unique individuals with a total of 6.5 million person-years of follow-up. Over the total follow-up period, the combined group of studies included 28,271 deaths, 9,783 cases of cardiovascular disease, and 23,954 cases of new-onset type 2 diabetes. The researchers combined the nine studies into a meta-analysis of relative risk.

Butter consumption was standardized across all nine studies to 14grams/day, which corresponds to one U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated serving of butter (or roughly one tablespoon). Overall, the average butter consumption across the nine studies ranged from roughly one-third of a serving per day to 3.2 servings per day. The study found mostly small or insignificant associations of each daily serving of butter with total mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

“Even though people who eat more butter generally have worse diets and lifestyles, it seemed to be pretty neutral overall,” said Pimpin, now a data analyst in public health modelling for the UK Health Forum. “This suggests that butter may be a “middle-of-the-road” food: a more healthful choice than sugar or starch, such as the white bread or potato on which butter is commonly spread and which have been linked to higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease; and a worse choice than many margarines and cooking oils – those rich in healthy fats such as soybean, canola, flaxseed, and extra virgin olive oils – which would likely lower risk compared with either butter or refined grains, starches, and sugars.”

“Overall, our results suggest that butter should neither be demonized nor considered “back” as a route to good health,” said Mozaffarian. “More research is needed to better understand the observed potential lower risk of diabetes, which has also been suggested in some other studies of dairy fat. This could be real, or due to other factors linked to eating butter – our study does not prove cause-and-effect.”

Additional authors of this study are Jason HY Wu, M.Sc., Ph.D., and Hila Haskelberg, Ph.D., both of The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Australia; and Liana Del Gobbo, Ph.D., formerly a postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School and currently a research fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Stanford School of Medicine.

This work was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, under award number 5R01HL085710. For conflicts of interest disclosure, please see the study.

Pimpin L, Wu JHY, Haskelberg H, Del Gobbo L, Mozaffarian D (2016) Is Butter Back? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Butter Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Total Mortality. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0158118. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0158118

About the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University

The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school’s eight degree programs – which focus on questions relating to nutrition and chronic diseases, molecular nutrition, agriculture and sustainability, food security, humanitarian assistance, public health nutrition, and food policy and economics – are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy.

# # #

Related Links

https://now.tufts.edu/news-releases/little-no-association-between-butter-consumption-and-chronic-disease-or-total

Reactions to study:

Prof Tom Sanders, Professor emeritus of Nutrition and Dietetics, King’s College London, said:

“A significant limitation of this review is that some of the prospective studies adjusted for difference in serum cholesterol at baseline as well as other aspects of diet, including a healthy eating index and the intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

“However, the finding is not surprising as 14g butter per day would only be expected to change blood cholesterol level by 1% and this alone would have an imperceptible effect on risk of CVD.

“The studies were also unable to make any allowance for butter in processed foods such as cake and biscuits.

“There is some speculation in the discussion that butter may provide extra vitamin D. However, this is mistaken as butter is a poor source of vitamin D and it is margarine that is fortified with vitamin D.

“Generally, I agree with the review that it is the overall dietary pattern that matters rather than the intake of specific food items.”

 

Prof Pete Wilde, Research Leader, Food and Health Programme, Institute of Food Research, said:

“This study appears to add to the evidence that whilst many dairy products can be beneficial to health when consumed in moderation, higher fat products can mitigate this beneficial effect, so this certainly isn’t carte blanche to consume large amounts of butter. This study was normalised to a 14g per day intake (which is roughly an average intake) but other studies show a dose response indicating an increased risk with increased intake of high fat dairy products.

“As mentioned in the article, the consumption of many dairy products has been linked with a range of positive health benefits. The biggest effects are seen with lower fat dairy products, but some positive effects are also seen with cheese consumption. These products have a much lower fat content than butter, and it is thought that the positive health effects are linked to the water soluble compounds such as the vitamin, mineral and protein content. Butter on the other hand consists of about 80% milk fat, with only 20% water, so a lot of the protein, minerals etc. are lost. The fat is also high in saturated fat but does contain a fair amount of the fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin A.

“Other studies have also shown that high fat dairy products give a small increase in risk of CVD, and are neutral in terms of total mortality, but lower fat content dairy products are linked to reduced risk overall. Other analyses also show some U shaped curves, with moderate consumption reducing risk, but higher levels of consumption could lead to an increased risk.

“Also, it is not clear how associated lifestyle affects this relationship. It could be that consumers of butter also consume a range of other dairy products.”

 

Tracy Parker, Heart Health Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“Understanding the true relationship between diet and our health is difficult, but we know that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats seems to have a positive impact on our heart health and this is recognised by the authors of this study.

“Whilst the findings of this review indicate a small or neutral association between butter consumption and increased cardiovascular risk, it does not give us the green light to start eating more butter. More investigations are needed into the effects of saturated fat.

“What we do know is fat is just one element of our diet. There are many factors which cause cardiovascular disease and no single food or nutrient is solely responsible for this. To protect your heart health we would recommend a balanced Mediterranean style diet rich in fruit, vegetables and pulses.”

* ‘Is butter back? A systematic review and meta-analysis of butter consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and total mortality’ by Laura Pimpin et al. will be published in PLOS ONE  on Wednesday 29 June 2016.

 

Declared interests

Prof Tom Sanders: “Prof Tom Sanders is a Scientific Governor of the charity British Nutrition Foundation, member of the scientific advisory committee of the Natural Hydration Council (which promotes the drinking of water), and honorary Nutritional Director of the charity HEART UK. Prof. Tom Sanders is now emeritus but when he was doing research at King’s College London, the following applied: Tom does not hold any grants or have any consultancies with companies involved in the production or marketing of sugar-sweetened drinks. In reference to previous funding to Tom’s institution: £4.5 million was donated to King’s College London by Tate & Lyle in 2006; this funding finished in 2011. This money was given to the College and was in recognition of the discovery of the artificial sweetener sucralose by Prof. Hough at the Queen Elizabeth College (QEC), which merged with King’s College London. The Tate & Lyle grant paid for the Clinical Research Centre at St Thomas’ that is run by the Guy’s & St Thomas’ Trust, it was not used to fund research on sugar. Tate & Lyle sold their sugar interests to American Sugar so the brand Tate & Lyle still exists but it is no longer linked to the company Tate & Lyle PLC, which gave the money to King’s College London in 2006. Tom also used to work for Ajinomoto on aspartame about 8 years ago.  Tom was a member of the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee that recommended that trans fatty acids be removed from the human food chain. Tom has previously acted as a member of the Global Dairy Platform Scientific Advisory Panel and Tom is a member of the Programme Advisory Committee of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board. In the past Tom has acted as a consultant to Archer Daniel Midland Company and received honoraria for meetings sponsored by Unilever PLC. Tom’s research on fats was funded by Public Health England/Food Standards Agency.”

Prof Pete Wilde: “I don’t think I have any relevant interests to declare.  I am employed by the Institute of Food Research, member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and treasurer of its Food Group committee.  My funding comes mainly from the BBSRC, and other governmental sources. I do have a small amount of industry funding, but nothing to do with dairy products, and concerns sensory aspects of food structures and not with nutrition and health. I have no position outside of the IFR with any decision making or policy changing powers. I am an honorary Professor at the University of East Anglia (School of Pharmacy).”

Tracy Parker: “No interests to declare.”

http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-paper-looking-at-butter-consumption-and-cardiovascular-disease-diabetes-and-mortality/

Obviously, the Tufts University study is a piece in answering the questions about the health effects of butter consumption.

Kris Gunnars, BSc wrote in 7 Reasons Why Butter is Healthy in Moderation:

Despite having been demonized in the past, butter (especially from grass-fed cows) is actually pretty healthy.

That being said, there is no reason to go out of your way to eat more of it.

Butter in small amounts is fine, but it may cause problems if you eat way too much (for example, by adding a few tablespoons to your morning coffee).

Plus, it is not as healthy as extra virgin olive oil, which is the world’s healthiest fat.                 https://authoritynutrition.com/7-reasons-why-butter-is-good-for-you/

The key concept is moderation.

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Kings College London study: Study investigates whether it is safe for GPs to prescribe fewer antibiotics

6 Jul

JAMA published “Prevalence of Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescriptions Among US Ambulatory Care Visits, 2010-2011” led by Katherine Fleming-Dutra, MD, estimated portions of antibiotic use that may be inappropriate in adults and children in the United States. – See more at: http://www.ajmc.com/newsroom/understanding-inappropriate-prescribing-of-antibiotics#sthash.lYnWSCqB.dpuf  This study found  “During 2010-2011, there were 506 annual antibiotic prescriptions per every 1000 population, but only 353 were likely appropriate.” Further, the study found:

Findings
The researchers used 2 annual surveys in 2010 and 2011 to collect data about patients’ demographic characteristics and symptoms, physicians’ diagnoses, and medications ordered, including antibiotics. They found that out of the 184,032 visits, 12.6% of encounters were associated with antibiotic prescriptions. Furthermore, 30% of outpatient prescriptions were in fact unnecessary and inappropriate.

The authors recommend development of diagnostic tests that can distinguish viral infections from bacterial infections in order to improve outpatient antibiotic use.

They used the 2010-2011 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) to collect data on patient demographics. Per 1000 population, the diagnosis that was associated with the most antibiotic prescriptions was sinusitis (56 antibiotic prescriptions), followed by suppurative otitis media (47), and pharyngitis (43). Collectively, acute respiratory conditions per 1000 population led to 221 antibiotic prescriptions each year but only 111 of these were actually appropriate for these conditions.

In general, across all ages and conditions, per 1000 population, an estimated 506 antibiotic prescriptions were written annually. And out of these, only 353 antibiotic prescriptions were estimated to be appropriate.

Spillage of Unnecessary Antibiotic Prescriptions
National guidelines state that patients with bronchitis, bronchiolitis, viral upper respiratory tract infections, asthma and allergy, influenza, and viral pneumonia should not receive antibiotics. Antibiotics prescribed for these conditions are considered inappropriate. And yet the study highlighted staggering numbers of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions.

In an accompanying editorial, Pranita D. Tamma, MD, MHS, and Sara E. Cosgrove, MD, MS, wrote that the estimates in the Fleming-Dutra’s study were likely conservative, but they serve as a good starting point to understanding prescribing practices in the ambulatory care setting.

“Now that baseline estimates about outpatient antibiotic prescribing have been determined, future work needs to focus on interventions targeting both clinicians and patients to help reach the national goal,” wrote Pranita D. Tamma, MD, MHS, and Sara E. Cosgrove, MD, MS, and an accompanying editorial. “It will be critical to continue to evaluate progress in improving antibiotic use in conjunction with widespread adoption of antibiotic stewardship activities in the outpatient setting.” – See more at: http://www.ajmc.com/newsroom/understanding-inappropriate-prescribing-of-antibiotics#sthash.lYnWSCqB.dpuf

The practice of over-prescribing antibiotics has serious consequences.

Science Daily reported in Study investigates whether it is safe for GPs to prescribe fewer antibiotics:

A new study has found that reducing antibiotic prescribing for respiratory tract infections — such as coughs, colds, sore throats and ear infections — is not linked to an increase in the most serious bacterial complications, such as bacterial meningitis. The study, published in the BMJ, investigated whether reducing antibiotic prescribing for people attending their GP with respiratory tract infections could have an effect on safety.

Most respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses and will improve without treatment. Antibiotic treatment has minimal effect on the duration and severity of symptoms in these conditions, but may be associated with side-effects.

The widespread inappropriate use of antibiotics is contributing to the development of strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

This study, funded by the NIHR and led by researchers from King’s College London, analysed patient records from 610 UK general practices, with more than four million patients, over 10 years. General practices with lower rates of antibiotic prescribing for respiratory tract infections did not have higher rates of serious bacterial complications, including: meningitis, mastoiditis (infection of the mastoid bone behind the ear), empyema (infection of the lining of the lungs), brain abscess or Lemierre’s syndrome (an infection of the jugular vein in the neck).

The research found that practices that prescribed fewer antibiotics had slightly higher rates of pneumonia and peritonsillar abscess (also known as quinsy) — a rare complication of sore throats. Both of these conditions are treatable with antibiotics once identified.

The researchers estimated that if an average-sized GP practice with 7,000 patients reduced its antibiotic prescribing to people with respiratory tract infections by 10 per cent, there could be one extra case of pneumonia each year. They also estimated that this reduced prescribing could be linked to one extra case of peritonsillar abscess every 10 years.

The authors observe that reducing antibiotic use is likely to reduce the number of people experiencing side-effects. About 10 per cent of people who take antibiotics experience common side-effects such as rashes, diarrhea and vomiting, while rare side-effects include anaphylaxis….https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160704223418.htm

Citation:

Study investigates whether it is safe for GPs to prescribe fewer antibiotics

Date:              July 4, 2016

Source:         King’s College London

Summary:

A new study has found that reducing antibiotic prescribing for respiratory tract infections — such as coughs, colds, sore throats and ear infections — is not linked to an increase in the most serious bacterial complications, such as bacterial meningitis. The study investigated whether reducing antibiotic prescribing for people attending their GP with respiratory tract infections could have an effect on safety.

Journal Reference:

  1. Martin C Gulliford, Michael V Moore, Paul Little, Alastair D Hay, Robin Fox, A Toby Prevost, Dorota Juszczyk, Judith Charlton, Mark Ashworth. Safety of reduced antibiotic prescribing for self limiting respiratory tract infections in primary care: cohort study using electronic health records. BMJ, 2016; i3410 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.i3410

Here is the press release from Kings College London:

Study on safety of prescribing fewer antibiotics

A new study has found that reducing antibiotic prescribing for respiratory tract infections – such as coughs, colds, sore throats and ear infections – is not linked to an increase in the most serious bacterial complications, such as bacterial meningitis.

The study, published in the BMJ, investigated whether reducing antibiotic prescribing for people attending their GP with respiratory tract infections could have an effect on safety.

Most respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses and will improve without treatment. Antibiotic treatment has minimal effect on the duration and severity of symptoms in these conditions, but may be associated with side-effects.

The widespread inappropriate use of antibiotics is contributing to the development of strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

This study, funded by the NIHR and led by researchers from King’s College London, analysed patient records from 610 UK general practices, with more than four million patients, over 10 years. General practices with lower rates of antibiotic prescribing for respiratory tract infections did not have higher rates of serious bacterial complications, including: meningitis, mastoiditis (infection of the mastoid bone behind the ear), empyema (infection of the lining of the lungs), brain abscess or Lemierre’s syndrome (an infection of the jugular vein in the neck).

The research found that practices that prescribed fewer antibiotics had slightly higher rates of pneumonia and peritonsillar abscess (also known as quinsy) – a rare complication of sore throats. Both of these conditions are treatable with antibiotics once identified.

The researchers estimated that if an average-sized GP practice with 7,000 patients reduced its antibiotic prescribing to people with respiratory tract infections by 10 per cent, there could be one extra case of pneumonia each year. They also estimated that this reduced prescribing could be linked to one extra case of peritonsillar abscess every 10 years.

The authors observe that reducing antibiotic use is likely to reduce the number of people experiencing side-effects. About 10 per cent of people who take antibiotics experience common side-effects such as rashes, diarrhoea and vomiting, while rare side-effects include anaphylaxis.

Professor Martin Gulliford, lead author from the Division of Health and Social Care Research at King’s College London, said: ‘Overuse of antibiotics now may result in increasing infections by resistant bacteria in the future. Current treatment recommendations are to avoid antibiotics for self-limiting respiratory infections. Our results suggest that, if antibiotics are not taken, this should carry no increased risk of more serious complications. General practices prescribing fewer antibiotics may have slightly higher rates of pneumonia and peritonsillar abscess but even a substantial reduction in antibiotic prescribing may be associated with only a small increase in the numbers of cases observed. Both these complications can be readily treated once identified.’

Dr Mark Ashworth, GP and author of the study from the King’s Division of Health and Social Care Research, said: ‘As a practicing GP, I see very few complications from patients who have upper respiratory tract infections and who decide to opt for a non-antibiotic approach to treating their infections. Patients are recognising that most upper respiratory infections are viral and virus infections do not respond to antibiotics. Our paper should reassure GPs and patients that rare bacterial complications of respiratory infections are indeed rare. Fortunately, if there are any signs of a complication, the GP can quickly step in and offer an appropriate antibiotic.’

The authors caution that the results represent averages across general practice populations; this study did not evaluate the outcome of prescribing decisions for individual patients.

Notes to editors:

For more information, please contact the King’s College London press office on 020 7848 3202, pr@kcl.ac.uk.

‘Safety of reduced antibiotic prescribing for self-limiting respiratory tract infections in primary care: Cohort study using electronic health records’ by Gulliford et al is published in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday 5 July 2016.  doi: 10.1136/bmj.i3410

The study was funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme. Study authors were supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London.

About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk).

In many cases antibiotic use may not be appropriate.

FamilyDoctor.org offers the following advice:

How do I know when I need antibiotics?

The answer depends on what is causing your infection. The following are some basic guidelines:

  • Colds and flu. Viruses cause these illnesses. They can’t be cured with antibiotics.
  • Cough or bronchitis. Viruses almost always cause these. However, if you have a problem with your lungs or an illness that lasts a long time, bacteria may actually be the cause. Your doctor may decide to try using an antibiotic.
  • Sore throat. Most sore throats are caused by viruses and don’t need antibiotics. However, strep throat is caused by bacteria. Your doctor can determine if you have strep throat and can prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Ear infections. There are several types of ear infections. Antibiotics are used for some (but not all) ear infections.
  • Sinus infections. Antibiotics are often used to treat sinus infections. However, a runny nose and yellow or green mucus do not necessarily mean you need an antibiotic.  Read more about treating sinusitis.

What else do I need to know?

If your doctor does prescribe an antibiotic for you, make sure you take all of the medicine, even if you feel better after a few days. This reduces the chance that there will be any bacteria left in your body that could potentially become resistant to antibiotics.

Never take antibiotics without a prescription. If, for whatever reason, you have antibiotics leftover from a time when you were previously sick, do not take them unless your doctor tells you it’s okay. The leftover antibiotics may not work on whatever is making you sick. If they do work, there probably will not be enough leftover medicine to completely kill all the bacteria in your body. Not only will you not get better, but this increases the chance that the bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics.

You can prevent catching infections in the first place by practicing good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the restroom, coming into contact with feces (for example, from a pet or from changing a baby’s diaper) and before eating.                                                                             http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/drugs-procedures-devices/prescription-medicines/antibiotics-when-they-can-and-cant-help.html

Always consult a physician before taking antibiotics.

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Oxford University study: Prenatal exposure to acetaminophen may increase autism spectrum and hyperactivity symptoms in children

3 Jul

The number of children with autism appears to be growing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides statistics on the number of children with autism in the section Data and Statistics:

Prevalence

  • It is estimated that between 1 in 80 and 1 in 240 with an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an ASD. [Read article]

  • ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, yet are on average 4 to 5 times more likely to occur in boys than in girls.  However, we need more information on some less studied populations and regions around the world. [Read article]

  • Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with an ASD with an approximate prevalence of 0.6% to over 1%. A recent study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%. [Data table ]

  • Approximately 13% of children have a developmental disability, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.  [Read article] http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

In order for children with autism to reach their full potential there must be early diagnosis and treatment.

Science Daily reported in Prenatal exposure to acetaminophen may increase autism spectrum and hyperactivity symptoms in children:

A new study has found that paracetamol (acetaminophen), which is used extensively during pregnancy, has a strong association with autism spectrum symptoms in boys and for both genders in relation to attention-related and hyperactivity symptoms.

The findings were published this week in the International Journal of Epidemiology. This is the first study of its kind to report an independent association between the use of this drug in pregnancy and autism spectrum symptoms in children. It is also the first study to report different effects on boys and girls. Comparing persistently to nonexposed children, the study has found an increase of 30 per cent in the risk of detriment to some attention functions, and an increase of two clinical symptoms of autism spectrum symptoms in boys.

Researchers in Spain recruited 2644 mother-child pairs in a birth cohort study during pregnancy. 88 per cent were evaluated when the child was one year old, and 79.9 per cent were evaluated when they were five years old. Mothers were asked about their use of paracetamol during pregnancy and the frequency of use was classified as never, sporadic, or persistent. Exact doses could not be noted due to mothers being unable to recall them exactly.

43 per cent of children evaluated at age one and 41 per cent assessed at age five were exposed to any paracetamol at some point during the first 32 weeks of pregnancy. When assessed at age five, exposed children were at higher risk of hyperactivity or impulsivity symptoms. Persistently exposed children in particular showed poorer performance on a computerised test measuring inattention, impulsivity and visual speed processing.

Boys also showed more autism spectrum symptoms when persistently exposed to paracetamol. Lead author Claudia Avella-Garcia, researcher at CREAL, an ISGlobal allied centre in Barcelona, explained that, “although we measured symptoms and not diagnoses, an increase in the number of symptoms that a child has, can affect him or her, even if they are not severe enough to warrant a clinical diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder…”

There could also be an explanation for why boys are more likely to have autism spectrum symptoms: “The male brain may be more vulnerable to harmful influences during early life,” said Claudia Avella-Garcia. “Our differing gender results suggest that androgenic endocrine disruption, to which male brains could be more sensitive, may explain the association.”

The study concluded that the widespread exposure of infants to paracetamol in utero could increase the number of children with ADHD or autism spectrum symptoms. However, they stressed further studies should be conducted with more precise dosage measurements, and that the risks versus benefits of paracetamol use during pregnancy and early life should be assessed before treatment recommendations are made.                                                                                             https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160701095445.htm

Citation:

Prenatal exposure to acetaminophen may increase autism spectrum and hyperactivity symptoms in children

Date:        July 1, 2016

Source:    Oxford University Press (OUP)

Summary:

A new study has found that paracetamol (acetaminophen), which is used extensively during pregnancy, has a strong association with autism spectrum symptoms in boys and for both genders in relation to attention-related and hyperactivity symptoms.

Journal Reference:

  1. Claudia B. Avella-Garcia, Jordi Julvez, Joan Fortuny, Cristina Rebordosa, Raquel García-Esteban, Isolina Riaño Galán, Adonina Tardónf, Clara L. Rodríguez-Bernal, Carmen Iñiguez, Ainara Andiarena, Loreto Santa-Marina, Jordi Sunyer. Acetaminophen Use in Pregnancy and Neurodevelopment: Attention Function and Autism Spectrum Symptoms. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2016 DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyv

Acetaminophen use in pregnancy and neurodevelopment: attention function and autism spectrum symptoms

  1. Claudia B. Avella-Garcia1,2,3,4,5,
  2. Jordi Julvez1,3,6,*,
  3. Joan Fortuny7,
  4. Cristina Rebordosa7,
  5. Raquel García-Esteban1,3,6,
  6. Isolina Riaño Galán8,
  7. Adonina Tardón6,9,
  8. Clara L. Rodríguez-Bernal10,
  9. Carmen Iñiguez10,
  10. Ainara Andiarena11,12,
  11. Loreto Santa-Marina6,12,13 and
  12. Jordi Sunyer1,3,4,5

+ Author Affiliations

1.     1Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) 2.     2Unitat Docent de Medicina Preventiva i Salut Publica H. Mar-UPF-ASPB 3.     3IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) 4.     4Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) 5.     5Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain 6.     6CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Spain 7.     7RTI Health Solutions, Barcelona, Spain 8.     8Servicio de Pediatria, Hospital San Agustin, Aviles Asturias, Spain 9.     9Public Health Department, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain 10.  10Environment and Health Area, CSISP-FISABIO-REDISSEC, Valencia, Spain 11.  11Basic Psychological Processes and Development Department, Faculty of Psychology, University of the Basque Country, Gipuzkoa 12.  12Health Research Institute, Biodonostia, San Sebastián, Spain 13.  13Public Health Division of Gipuzkoa, Gipuzkoa, Basque Government, Spain

  1. *Corresponding author. Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology-PRBB, C. Doctor Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain. E-mail: jjulvez@creal.cat
  • Accepted April 13, 2016.

Abstract

Background: Acetaminophen is extensively used during pregnancy. But there is a lack of population-representative cohort studies evaluating its effects on a range of neuropsychological and behavioural endpoints. We aimed to assess whether prenatal exposure to acetaminophen is adversely associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes at 1 and 5 years of age.

Methods: This Spanish birth cohort study included 2644 mother-child pairs recruited during pregnancy. The proportion of liveborn participants evaluated at 1 and 5 years was 88.8% and 79.9%, respectively. Use of acetaminophen was evaluated prospectively in two structured interviews. Ever/never use and frequency of use (never, sporadic, persistent) were measured. Main neurodevelopment outcomes were assessed using Childhood Autism Spectrum Test (CAST), Conner’s Kiddie Continuous Performance Test (K-CPT) and ADHD-DSM-IV form list. Regression models were adjusted for social determinants and co-morbidities.

Results: Over 40% of mothers reported using acetaminophen. Ever-exposed offspring had higher risks of presenting more hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms [incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–1.98), K-CPT commission errors (IRR = 1.10, 1.03–1.17), and lower detectability scores (coefficient β = −0.75, −0.13–−0.02). CAST scores were increased in ever-exposed males (β = 0.63, 0.09–1.18). Increased effect sizes of risks by frequency of use were observed for hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms (IRR = 2.01, 0.95–4.24) in all children, K-CPT commission errors (IRR = 1.32, 1.05–1.66) and detectability (β = −0.18, −0.36–0.00) in females, and CAST scores in males (β = 1.91, 0.44–3.38).

Conclusions: Prenatal acetaminophen exposure was associated with a greater number of autism spectrum symptoms in males and showed adverse effects on attention-related outcomes for both genders. These associations seem to be dependent on the frequency of exposure.

One of the implications of this study is the necessity that women receive adequate prenatal care and women really should have pre-pregnancy counseling and care.

United Health Foundation reports Prenatal Care (1990 – 2011): Percentage of pregnant women receiving adequate prenatal care, as defined by Kessner Index:

Prenatal care is a critical component of health care for pregnant women and a key step towards having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Early prenatal care is especially important because many important developments take place during the first trimester, screenings can identify babies or mothers at risk for complications and health care providers can educate and prepare mothers for pregnancy.  Women who receive prenatal care have consistently shown better outcomes than those who did not receive prenatal care[1]. Mothers who do not receive any prenatal care are three times more likely to deliver a low birth weight baby than mothers who received prenatal care, and infant mortality is five times higher[2].  Early prenatal care also allows health care providers to identify and address health conditions and behaviors that may reduce the likelihood of a healthy birth, such as smoking and drug and alcohol abuse.                                                                                                                                                            http://www.americashealthrankings.org/All/PrenatalCare/2012

Given this recent study it is imperative that ALL women receive prenatal care particularly poor and those women at risk of difficult pregnancies.

Related:

Autism and children of color

https://drwilda.com/tag/children-of-color-with-autism/

Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine study: Kids with autism more likely to be bullied

https://drwilda.com/2012/09/06/archives-of-pediatrics-and-adolescent-medicine-study-kids-with-autism-more-likely-to-be-bullied/

Father’s age may be linked to Autism and Schizophrenia

https://drwilda.com/2012/08/26/fathers-age-may-be-linked-to-autism-and-schizophrenia/

Chelation treatment for autism might be harmful

https://drwilda.com/2012/12/02/chelation-treatment-for-autism-might-be-harmful/

Journal of American Medical Association study: Folic acid may reduce autism risk

https://drwilda.com/tag/folic-acid-in-pregnancy-may-lower-autism-risk/

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University of Texas study: Researchers link childhood hunger, violence later in life

26 Jun

For a really good discussion of the effects of poverty on children, read the American Psychological Association (APA), Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth:

What are the effects of child poverty?
• Psychological research has demonstrated that living in poverty has a wide range of negative effects on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our nation’s children.
• Poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities.
• Poverty is linked with negative conditions such as substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and underresourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children.
• Poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.
• These effects are compounded by the barriers children and their families encounter when trying to access physical and mental health care.
• Economists estimate that child poverty costs the U.S. $500 billion a year in lost productivity in the work force and spending on health care and the criminal justice system.
Poverty and academic achievement
• Poverty has a particularly adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children, especially during early childhood.
• Chronic stress associated with living in poverty has been shown to adversely affect children’s concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn.
• School drop out rates are significantly higher for teens residing in poorer communities. In 2007, the dropout rate of students living in low-income families was about 10 times greater than the rate of their peers from high-income families (8.8% vs. 0.9%).
• The academic achievement gap for poorer youth is particularly pronounced for low-income African American and Hispanic children compared with their more affluent White peers.
• Underresourced schools in poorer communities struggle to meet the learning needs of their students and aid them in fulfilling their potential.
• Inadequate education contributes to the cycle of poverty by making it more difficult for low-income children to lift themselves and future generations out of poverty. http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx

Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of society’s problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family.

Science Daily reported in Researchers link childhood hunger, violence later in life:

Children who often go hungry have a greater risk of developing impulse control problems and engaging in violence, according to new UT Dallas research.

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that people who experienced frequent hunger as kids were more than twice as likely to exhibit impulsivity and injure others intentionally as adolescents and adults.

Thirty-seven percent of the study’s participants who had frequent hunger as children reported that they had been involved in interpersonal violence. Of those who experienced little to no childhood hunger, 15 percent said they were involved in interpersonal violence. The findings were strongest among whites, Hispanics and males.

Previous research has shown that childhood hunger contributes to a variety of other negative outcomes, including poor academic performance. The study is among the first to find a correlation between childhood hunger, low self-control and interpersonal violence….

Researchers used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions to examine the relationship between childhood hunger, impulsivity and interpersonal violence. Participants in that study responded to a variety of questions including how often they went hungry as a child, whether they have problems controlling their temper, and if they had physically injured another person on purpose.

More than 15 million U.S. children face food insecurity — not having regular access to adequate nutrition, according to the study. Piquero said the results highlight the importance of addressing communities known as food deserts that have little access to grocery stores with healthy food choices.

The findings suggest that strategies aimed at alleviating hunger may also help reduce violence, Piquero said….                                                                                                                                                                  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160620161140.htm

Citation:

Researchers link childhood hunger, violence later in life

Date:         June 20, 2016

Source:     University of Texas at Dallas

Summary:

Children who often go hungry have a greater risk of developing impulse control problems and engaging in violence, according to new research.

Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Vaughn, Christopher Salas-Wright, Sandra Naeger, Jin Huang, Alex Piquero. Childhood Reports of Food Neglect and Impulse Control Problems and Violence in Adulthood. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2016; 13 (4): 389 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph13040389

There are some very good reasons why meals are provided at schools. Education Bug has a history of the school lunch program

President Harry S. Truman began the national school lunch program in 1946 as a measure of national security. He did so after reading a study that revealed many young men had been rejected from the World War II draft due to medical conditions caused by childhood malnutrition. Since that time more than 180 million lunches have been served to American children who attend either a public school or a non-profit private school.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson extended the program by offering breakfast to school children. It began as a two years pilot program for children in rural areas and those living in poorer neighborhoods. It was believed that these children would have to skip breakfast in order to catch the bus for the long ride to school. There were also concerns that the poorer families could not always afford to feed their children breakfast. Johnson believed, like many of us today, that children would do better in school if they had a good breakfast to start their day. The pilot was such a success that it was decided the program should continue. By 1975, breakfast was being offered to all children in public or non-profit private school. This change was made because educators felt that more children were skipping breakfast due to both parent being in the workforce.

In 1968, a summer meals program was offered to low income children. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks are still available to students each year, during the summer break. Any child in need can apply for the program at the end of the school year. Parents that are interested in the summer meals program should contact their local school administration.

Since its inception, the school lunch/meals programs have become available in more than 98,800 schools…. http://www.educationbug.org/a/the-history-of-the-school-lunch-program.html

Hungry children have more difficulty in focusing and paying attention, their ability to learn is impacted. President Truman saw feeding hungry children as a key part of the national defense. For many children who receive a free breakfast and/or a free lunch that means that they will not go hungry that day.

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University of Alberta Medical School study: Prenatal fruit consumption boosts babies’ cognitive development

29 May

The Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services explains why healthy babies are important. “Healthy babies are more likely to develop into healthy children, and healthy children are more likely to grow up to be healthy teenagers and healthy adults.” http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/earlychildhood/health/index.aspx

Science Daily reported in Prenatal fruit consumption boosts babies’ cognitive development: Study discovers previously unknown benefits of fruit consumption in expectant mothers:

Most people have heard the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It’s an old truth that encompasses more than just apples–eating fruit in general is well known to reduce risk for a wide variety of health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. But now a new study is showing the benefits of fruit can begin as early as in the womb.

The study, published in the journal EbioMedicine, found that mothers who consumed more fruit during pregnancy gave birth to children who performed better on developmental testing at one year of age. Piush Mandhane, senior author of the paper and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, made the discovery using data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study–a nationwide birth cohort study involving over 3,500 Canadian infants and their families. Mandhane leads the Edmonton site of the study….

The study examined data from 688 Edmonton children, and controlled for factors that would normally affect a child’s learning and development such as family income, paternal and maternal education, and the gestational age of the child.

Using a traditional IQ scale as a model, the average IQ is 100 and the standard deviation is 15; two thirds of the population will fall between 85 and 115. Mandhane’s study showed that if pregnant mothers ate six or seven servings of fruit or fruit juice a day, on average their infants placed six or seven points higher on the scale at one year of age….

To further build on the research, Mandhane teamed with Francois Bolduc, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry’s Division of Pediatric Neurology, who researches the genetic basis of cognition in humans and fruit flies. Both researchers believe that combining pre-clinical models and epidemiological analysis is a novel approach that may provide useful new insights into future medical research.

“Flies are very different from humans but, surprisingly, they have 85 per cent of the genes involved in human brain function, making them a great model to study the genetics of memory,” says Bolduc. “To be able to improve memory in individuals without genetic mutation is exceptional, so we were extremely interested in understanding the correlation seen between increased prenatal fruit intake and higher cognition.”

According to Bolduc, fruit flies have a long track record in the field of learning and memory. Several genes known to be necessary in fly memory have now been found to be involved in intellectual disability and autism by Bolduc and others. In a subsequent series of experiments, he showed that flies born after being fed increased prenatal fruit juice had significantly better memory ability, similar to the results shown by Mandhane with one-year-old infants. He believes it suggests that brain function affected by fruit and the mechanisms involved have been maintained through evolution, and conserved across species.

While the findings are encouraging, Mandhane cautions against going overboard on fruit consumption as potential complications such as gestational diabetes and high birthweight–conditions associated with increased intake of natural sugars–have not been fully researched. Instead, he suggests that expectant mothers meet the daily intake recommended in Canada’s Food Guide and consult with their doctors…..                                                                                                         https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160525161548.htm

Citation:

Prenatal fruit consumption boosts babies’ cognitive development

Study discovers previously unknown benefits of fruit consumption in expectant mothers

Date:      May 25, 2016

Source:  University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

Summary:

The benefits of eating fruit can begin as early as in the womb. A new study, using data from nearly 700 Edmonton children, demonstrates that infants do significantly better on developmental tests when their mothers consume more fruit during pregnancy.

Journal Reference:

      Francois V. Bolduc, Amanda Lau, Cory S. Rosenfelt, Steven Langer, Nan Wang, Lisa Smithson, Diana Lefebvre, R. Todd Alexander, Clayton T. Dickson, Liang Li, Allan B. Becker, Padmaja Subbarao, Stuart E. Turvey, Jacqueline Pei, Malcolm R. Sears, Piush J. Mandhane.

Cognitive Enhancement in Infants Associated with Increased Maternal Fruit Intake During Pregnancy: Results from a Birth Cohort Study with Validation in an Animal Model

      .

EBioMedicine

      , 2016; DOI:

10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.04.025Cognitive Enhancement in Infants Associated with Increased Maternal Fruit Intake During Pregnancy: Results from a Birth Cohort Study with Validation in an Animal Model

Francois V. Bolduc  Amanda Lau1    Cory S. Rosenfelt1   Steven Langer

,Nan Wang, Lisa Smithson, Diana Lefebvre, R. Todd Alexander, Clayton T. Dickson,

Liang Li, Allan B. Becker, Padmaja Subbarao, Stuart E. Turvey  Jacqueline Pei,

Malcolm R. Sears, Piush J. Mandhane

, The CHILD Study Investigatorsi

1These authors contributed equally to this paper.

Open Access

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.04.025

Article Info

Highlights

  • •Gestational fruit intake positively correlates with infant cognitive performance.
  • •Similar findings in a birth cohort and in Drosophila learning and memory scores
  • •Cyclic adenylate monophosphate (cAMP) pathway may be a major regulator of this effect.
  • •Postnatal fruit intake did not enhance cognitive outcomes in humans or Drosophila.

Fruits have been an important part of the human diet for thousands of years. We wanted to know if more fruit intake improves our ability to learn. Using data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study, we found that mothers who ate more fruit during pregnancy had children who did better on developmental testing at 1 year of age. Similarly, fruit flies had improved learning and memory if their parents had more fruit juice in their diet. In both humans and in the flies, there was no improvement in learning when only the babies were fed fruit.

Abstract

In-utero nutrition is an under-studied aspect of cognitive development. Fruit has been an important dietary constituent for early hominins and humans. Among 808 eligible CHILD-Edmonton sub-cohort subjects, 688 (85%) had 1-year cognitive outcome data. We found that each maternal daily serving of fruit (sum of fruit plus 100% fruit juice) consumed during pregnancy was associated with a 2.38 point increase in 1-year cognitive development (95% CI 0.39, 4.37; p < 0.05). Consistent with this, we found 30% higher learning Performance index (PI) scores in Drosophila offspring from parents who consumed 30% fruit juice supplementation prenatally (PI: 85.7; SE 1.8; p < 0.05) compared to the offspring of standard diet parents (PI: 65.0 SE 3.4). Using the Drosophila model, we also show that the cyclic adenylate monophosphate (cAMP) pathway may be a major regulator of this effect, as prenatal fruit associated cognitive enhancement was blocked in Drosophila rutabaga mutants with reduced Ca2+-Calmodulin-dependent adenylyl cyclase. Moreover, gestation is a critical time for this effect as postnatal fruit intake did not enhance cognitive performance in either humans or Drosophila. Our study supports increased fruit consumption during pregnancy with significant increases in infant cognitive performance. Validation in Drosophila helps control for potential participant bias or unmeasured confounders.

Here is the press article from the University of Alberta:

An apple a day

UAlberta study shows infants do better on developmental tests when their mothers consume more fruit during pregnancy

By Ali Dotinga and Ross Neitz on May 25, 2016

Piush Mandhane, senior author of the study, found that prenatal fruit consumption boosts babies’ cognitive development

Most people have heard the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It’s an old truth that encompasses more than just apples—eating fruit in general is well known to reduce risk for a wide variety of health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. But now a new study is showing the benefits of fruit can begin as early as in the womb.

The study, published in the journal EbioMedicine, showed that mothers who consumed more fruit during pregnancy gave birth to children who performed better on developmental testing at one year of age. Piush Mandhane, senior author of the paper and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, made the discovery using data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study—a nationwide birth cohort study involving over 3,500 Canadian infants and their families. Mandhane leads the Edmonton site of the study.

“We wanted to know if we could identify what factors affect cognitive development,” Mandhane explains. “We found that one of the biggest predictors of cognitive development was how much fruit moms consumed during pregnancy. The more fruit moms had, the higher their child’s cognitive development.”

In the study, researchers examined data from 688 Edmonton children, controlling for factors that would normally affect a child’s learning and development, such as family income, paternal and maternal education, and the gestational age of the child.

Using a traditional IQ scale as a model, the average IQ is 100 and the standard deviation is 15; two-thirds of the population will fall between 85 and 115. Mandhane’s study showed that if pregnant mothers ate six or seven servings of fruit or fruit juice a day, on average their infants placed six or seven points higher on the scale at one year of age.

“It’s quite a substantial difference—that’s half of a standard deviation,” Mandhane explains. “We know that the longer a child is in the womb, the further they develop—and having one more serving of fruit per day in a mother’s diet provides her baby with the same benefit as being born a whole week later.”

To further build on the research, Mandhane teamed with Francois Bolduc, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry’s Division of Pediatric Neurology, who researches the genetic basis of cognition in humans and fruit flies. Both researchers believe that combining pre-clinical models and epidemiological analysis is a novel approach that may provide useful new insights into future medical research.

“Flies are very different from humans but, surprisingly, they have 85 per cent of the genes involved in human brain function, making them a great model to study the genetics of memory,” says Bolduc. “To be able to improve memory in individuals without genetic mutation is exceptional, so we were extremely interested in understanding the correlation seen between increased prenatal fruit intake and higher cognition.”

According to Bolduc, fruit flies have a long track record in the field of learning and memory. Several genes known to be necessary in fly memory have now been found to be involved in intellectual disability and autism by Bolduc and others. In a subsequent series of experiments, he showed that flies born after being fed increased prenatal fruit juice had significantly better memory ability, similar to the results shown by Mandhane with one-year-old infants. He believes it suggests that brain function affected by fruit and the mechanisms involved have been maintained through evolution, and conserved across species.

Though the findings are encouraging, Mandhane cautions against going overboard on fruit consumption, because potential complications such as gestational diabetes and high birth weight—conditions associated with increased intake of natural sugars—have not been fully researched. Instead, he suggests that expectant mothers meet the daily intake recommended in Canada’s Food Guide and consult with their doctors.

Mandhane also says he will continue work in the field, with plans to examine whether the benefits of prenatal fruit consumption persist in children over time. He will also be looking to determine whether fruit can influence childhood development related to executive functioning—in areas such as planning, organizing and working memory.

Funding information

Funding for Mandhane’s study was provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute at the U of A.

https://www.med.ualberta.ca/news/2016/may/an-apple-a-day

The key is regular prenatal care.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports in What is prenatal care and why is it important?

Prenatal Care

Women who suspect they may be pregnant should schedule a visit to their health care provider to begin prenatal care. Prenatal visits to a health care provider include a physical exam, weight checks, and providing a urine sample. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, health care providers may also do blood tests and imaging tests, such as ultrasound exams. These visits also include discussions about the mother’s health, the infant’s health, and any questions about the pregnancy.

Preconception and prenatal care can help prevent complications and inform women about important steps they can take to protect their infant and ensure a healthy pregnancy. With regular prenatal care women can:

  • Reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Following a healthy, safe diet; getting regular exercise as advised by a health care provider; and avoiding exposure to potentially harmful substances such as lead and radiation can help reduce the risk for problems during pregnancy and ensure the infant’s health and development. Controlling existing conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, is important to avoid serious complications in pregnancy such as preeclampsia.
  • Reduce the infant’s risk for complications. Tobacco smoke and alcohol use during pregnancy have been shown to increase the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Alcohol use also increases the risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can cause a variety of problems such as abnormal facial features, having a small head, poor coordination, poor memory, intellectual disability, and problems with the heart, kidneys, or bones.2 According to one recent study supported by the NIH, these and other long-term problems can occur even with low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure.3

In addition, taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily reduces the risk for neural tube defects by 70%.4 Most prenatal vitamins contain the recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid as well as other vitamins that pregnant women and their developing fetus need.1,5 Folic acid has been added to foods like cereals, breads, pasta, and other grain-based foods. Although a related form (called folate) is present in orange juice and leafy, green vegetables (such as kale and spinach), folate is not absorbed as well as folic acid.

  • Help ensure the medications women take are safe. Certain medications, including some acne treatments6 and dietary and herbal supplements,7 are not safe to take during pregnancy.

Learn more about prenatal and preconception care.

http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preconceptioncare/Pages/default.aspx

http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/Pages/prenatal-care.aspx

See, Prenatal care fact sheet http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/prenatal-care.html

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

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