Saturday, June 04, 2011

Eating a high-fat diet during pregnancy 'increases the risk of stillbirth'

If you are a monkey. Humans may be better adapted to such a diet. It's unlikely to be a normal monkey diet

Pregnant women who tuck into fatty foods are at greater risk of having a stillbirth, a study reveals.

Researchers found an unhealthy diet decreased the blood flow from mother to baby via the placenta - the temporary organ that nourishes the foetus.

Previous studies have found nearly all pregnancy complications - from abnormal foetal growth to premature labour - are in some way linked to a damaged placenta.

Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University hypothesised that eating a high-fat diet during pregnancy could also increase the risk of placental inflammation and the risk of stillbirth.

The team studied two dozen pregnant Japanese macaques monkeys, an animal that has a placental structure similar to humans.

Half were given a diet where one third of the calories came from fat while the others were placed on a control diet that had just half that amount.

The researchers found the monkeys that ate a high-fat diet experienced a decrease in blood flow from the uterus to the placenta of up to 56 per cent. They also charted a rise in placental inflammation.

This was the case regardless of whether the monkeys were obese or slender.

Lead investigator Dr Antonio Frias, said: 'This study demonstrates that maternal diet during pregnancy has a profound influence on both placental and fetal development.

'The high-calorie, high-fat diet common in our society has negative effects on placental function and may be a significant contributor to adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as stillbirth.'

Additional studies are needed to determine exactly how a high-fat diet decreases placental blood flow, the researchers said. Future studies also will investigate the impact of dietary changes and diet supplementation on improving outcomes in both monkeys and humans.

The findings were published in the June edition of the journal Endocrinology.


No IVF on the NHS if your husband smokes

This is ideology rather than science. Where is the evidence of harm?

Men whose partners want to get IVF treatment on the NHS are being made to take 'breathalyser' type tests to ensure they do not smoke either. It has been common practice for years for health authorities that pay the bills for NHS patients, to insist that women seeking IVF treatment are not smokers. There is clear evidence that smoking both reduces the chances of a successful implantation and harms the developing baby.

But now primary care trusts (PCTs) are raising the bar, despite there being limited evidence that smoking before conception leads to seriously damaged sperm.

They have started making the requirement this year, said Prof Simon Fishel, managing director of Care Fertility, Britain's biggest private provider of IVF to NHS patients.

He said: "I can understand why the NHS is bringing in this policy, but what must be hard for couples is seeing the man in the street who smokes 50 fags a day, and has six kids."

Male partners are either being mouth-swabbed for evidence of smoking or being asked to blow into a device that measure carbon monoxide (CO) content in exhaled air. It is so sensitive that it picks up CO from just an occasional cigarette. Women are being refused treatment until their partners get a completely clear 'green' signal.

A recent Japanese study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, has linked smoking in fathers during their partners' pregnancies with earlier menopause in daughters.

But Prof Fishel said prising apart whether biological damage in children was due to passive smoking during childhood, or damage to sperm and egg DNA caused by parents smoking before conception, was almost impossible. He said the evidence was "not conclusive" that smoking's effect on DNA was powerful enough to cause serious problems in children, although it was clear that smoking did cause potentially harmful 'epigenetic' changes in sperm and eggs.

NHS organisations now insisting on both parents being non-smokers include the East Midlands Specialist Commissioning Group, NHS Yorkshire and Humberside, and NHS South Staffordshire, said a spokesman for Care Fertility.

Susan Seenan, of Infertility Network UK, said: "If they are basing this on medical evidence, than I don't think couples would have an argument with it. "But if they are doing it simply to ration treatment, then that would be wrong."


No comments: