Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Smoking, drugs during pregnancy 'can turn baby gay', neuroscientist Dick Swabb claims

One would have to see the studies behind these claims but I suspect that a lot of them will be just epidemiological speculation.  His comments on alcohol during pregnancy are an extreme view.  Other writers come to the opposite conclusion  -- e.g. here and here

SMOKING and drug use during pregnancy can raise the chance of having a child who turns out to be gay, a leading neuroscientist claims.

Dr Dick Swabb, professor of neurobiology at Amsterdam University, argues the development of the brain during pregnancy and early childhood is directly linked to the kind of people we become in adulthood, according to Britain’s Sunday Times.

Dr Swabb’s new book, We Are Our Brains, cites multiple academic studies showing how an expectant mother’s lifestyle could possibly affect her baby.

One compared women whose mothers were given synthetic oestrogen during pregnancy between 1939 and 1960 in order to reduce the risk of miscarriage. The drug worked as it was intended, but it also turned out to increase the likelihood of bisexuality and lesbianism in the daughters of the women who took it.

"Pre-birth exposure to both nicotine and amphetamines increases the chance of lesbian daughters," Dr Swabb says.

"Pregnant women suffering from stress are also more likely to have homosexual children of both genders because their raised level of the stress hormone cortisol affects the production of foetal sex hormones."

Dr Swabb also links a mother's alcohol intake to possible lower IQ in her child.  "In women who drink a lot, cells that were meant to migrate across the foetal brain can end up leaving the brain altogether," he said.

"Even in women who drink just a glass of wine a day we see effects [such as] lower IQ and hyperactivity. There is no safe level."


Brain damaged teen  makes amazing recovery after fish oil treatment

A TEENAGER who was left with severe brain damage after a brutal hit-and-run has made an amazing recovery, which his parents attribute to fish oil.

Grant Virgin was left with a horrific list of injuries after being struck by the car in September 2012, including a torn aorta, a traumatic brain injury, compound bone fractures and spinal fractures. Doctors said the boy, then 16, probably wouldn't live through the night.

But Grant’s mother, JJ, wouldn’t accept their recommendation "to let him go".  "It's like, how dare you not fight for my son's life?" JJ told CNN. "It really took us ... getting very aggressive and assertive to save our son's life, because they weren't going to do it."

From then on, Grant’s family vowed to try everything they could to bring him back – even if it meant going against doctor's orders.

Grant underwent multiple surgeries to stabalise his body, but he remained in a coma with severe brain damage.

That’s when a friend suggested the Virgins try progesterone, an unorthodox treatment associated with reduced inflammation in the brain and improved brain function.

Grant’s parents started rubbing progesterone cream onto their son. Soon after, JJ says, he woke up and began speaking simple words and phrases: "Let’s go" or "I love you", repeated over and over.

Heartened, the Virgins thought fish oil might help speed his recovery after learning that the brain’s cell wall is partly comprised of the same omega-3 fatty acids.

"If you have a brick wall and it gets damaged, wouldn't you want to use bricks to repair it?" Dr Michael Lewis, founder of the Brain Health Education and Research Institute, told CNN. "By supplementing using (omega-3 fatty acids) in substantial doses, you provide the foundation for the brain to repair itself."

While previous results were patchy, JJ said she put Grant on an aggressive 20-gram-per-day regimen of fish oil – the highest dose ever known to have been administered.

"If someone said to me, you know what, you can give him fish oil, you can give him better nutrition, you'll get maybe 5 per cent (improvement), I'll take that," she said.

Two days later, JJ was shocked to receive a late-night call from her son. "I get this call like midnight, and I'm asleep, and I wake up the next morning and go, 'Did Grant call me and did we have this whole conversation?" she said.  "I just remember waking up the next morning going, 'I must have dreamed that, that couldn't have possibly happened.’"

The family drove to the hospital the next day and found that Grant was not only able to talk, but focus his eyes and recognise people – just two months after doctors had written him off.

Grant is still a long way off making a full recovery and his family doesn’t expect him ever to return to his previous level of ability. But they say he is progressing every day.

"I think one of the saddest things is to get to a place and have someone tell you, 'You should just let your son die,' and you don't have the information to make the right decision," JJ said.

"There is such hopelessness about brain injury and there shouldn't be."


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