Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mother's milk lowers SIDS risk (?)

The usual blinkered nonsense,  I suspect.  The journal article does not appear to be online but I would be surprised if they controlled for IQ  -- which is a major correlate of breastfeeding.  What the results may mean is that high IQ people are healthier and have healthier babies -- which we already know

As well as immunological health advantages, a review of breastfeeding research has found babies breastfed up to one-year-old and exclusively to six months had their risk of sudden and unexpected infant death more than halved.

The evidence, published in the latest edition of the Australian Breastfeeding Review has from today prompted a revision of national public health guidelines on safe sleeping to include breastfeeding. Evidence of the relationship between breastfeeding and sudden and unexpected infant death was now irrefutable, said the chairwoman of the SIDS and Kids national scientific advisory group, Jeanine Young.

"We have now reached a point where conclusive evidence from numerous studies demonstrates breast milk can reduce sudden and unexpected death in infancy," said Professor Young, who also authored the latest review of breastfeeding research.

It was not clear why breastfeeding was protective against death, she said.  "We think its multifactorial. We know breastfed babies tend to rouse more easily than bottle-fed babies, and because women breastfeed frequently the child is roused - and checked on - every few hours. We also know babies that aren't breastfed get more respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, which is important because about 45 per cent of babies who die suddenly are unwell in the weeks before."

Confusion over whether breastfeeding was directly linked to reduced SIDS risk had led to the recommendation being removed from safe-sleeping guidelines in 1997, she said.  "Some people would argue it should never have been taken out of the public health guidelines.

"We're lucky to get mothers to breastfeed for even a few months these days, but longer breastfeeding is associated with greater protection."

Professor Young said breastfeeding was independently protective against death, even when controls for other known causes such as smoking and sleep positions were allowed for.

But mothers who could not breastfeed should not feel guilty because they could still ensure the five other recommendations were followed, which included sleeping babies on their backs and maintaining a smoke-free environment.


'Good' cholesterol is not so great for you as study finds it doesn't lower heart attack risk

We all know lowering 'bad cholesterol' - known as Low-Density Lipoprotein or LDL - helps the heart.  But scientists say raising levels of 'good cholesterol' may not protect you from cardiac disease.

In a challenge to conventional wisdom, a team from Harvard Medical school found no direct link between raising good cholesterol levels - or HDL - with a lower risk of a heart attack.

The study published in the medical journal The Lancet compared heart-attack risk among people who inherited known genetic variants that gave them higher HDL levels.

This should mean they had a lower risk of coronary disease. However, the study of more than 50,000 people found no such link.

This implies that it is best to focus on lowering the levels of LDL in order to tackle heart disease.

'Ways of raising HDL cholesterol might not reduce risk of myocardial infarction,' Dr Sekar Kathiresan from Massachusetts General Hospital, who led the study, said.

'With drugs or lifestyle changes to raise HDL, we cannot automatically assume that risk of myocardial infarction will be reduced,' he added.

In the new research, scientists studied genes involved in raising HDL in about 170,000 individuals and found that 15 HDL-raising genetic variants they tested do not reduce the risk of heart attack.

It was found that there was no difference in heart attack risk of individuals who carried genes involved in elevated HDL than those without the genetic variant.

'It is an interesting study which goes against prevalent evidence about HDL. Increasing HDL, in any case, is difficult, whether by lifestyle or exercise. So our primary target is lowering LDL cholesterol,' Dr Anoop Misra, head of Centre of Internal Medicine at Fortis Hospital, said.

Dr D. Prabhakaran, executive director, Centre for Chronic Disease Control, said: 'Heart attack is multifactorial and not confined to one single risk factor like low HDL.

'While understanding genetics to develop new drugs may be useful, it would be wrong not to address other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood glucose, obesity and tobacco.'


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