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Low anti-anxiety hormone levels may up postpartum depression

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Pregnant Women

New York, March 15 : Pregnant women having lower levels of an anti-anxiety hormone in their second trimester had an increased chance of developing postpartum depression, a study has shown.

Postpartum depression — depression that occurs after childbirth — affects early bonding between the mother and child.

According to the study, appearing in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, a woman with an allopregnanolone hormone level of about 3.75 nanograms per milli-liter had a 33 per cent likelihood of developing the disorder.

While a woman having 7.5 nanograms per milli-liter had a 1.5 per cent chance of developing postpartum depression.

For every additional nanogram per milli-liter increase in allopregnanolone, the risk of developing postpartum depression dropped by 63 per cent, the researchers said.

Further, the risk was particularly high in women already diagnosed with mood disorders, such as major depression or bipolar disorder.

anti-anxiety

“Many earlier studies haven’t shown postpartum depression to be tied to actual levels of pregnancy hormones, but rather to an individual’s vulnerability to fluctuations in these hormones and they didn’t identify any concrete way to tell whether a woman would develop postpartum depression,” said Lauren M. Osborne, Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, US.

“Every woman has high levels of certain hormones, including allopregnanolone, at the end of pregnancy, so we decided to look earlier in the pregnancy to see if we could tease apart small differences in hormone levels that might more accurately predict postpartum depression later,” Osborne added.

For the study, the team included 60 pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 45, all who had been previously diagnosed with a mood disorder.

Using the blood samples, the researchers measured the blood levels of progesterone and allopregnanolone, a by-product made from the breakdown of progesterone and known for its calming, anti-anxiety effects.

No relationship was found between progesterone levels in the second or third trimesters and the likelihood of developing postpartum depression.

However, a link between postpartum depression and diminished levels of allopregnanolone levels in the second trimester was observed.

Health

Father’s stress linked to kids’ brain development

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New York, Feb 17: Fathers, take note! Taking too much stress may affect the brain development of your kids, a new study has claimed.

According to the researchers, the stress changes the father’s sperm which can then alter the brain development of the child.

This new research provides a much better understanding of the key role that fathers play in the brain development of their kids, the researchers said.

Previously, the researchers including Tracy Bale at the University of Maryland School, found that adult male mice, experiencing chronic periods of mild stress, have offspring with a reduced response to stress; changes in stress reactivity have been linked to some neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and PTSD.

They isolated the mechanism of the reduced response; they found that the father’s sperm showed changes in a genetic material known as microRNA. MicroRNA are important because they play a key role in which genes become functional proteins.

Now, the researchers have unravelled new details about these microRNA changes.

In the male reproductive tract, the caput epididymis, the structure where sperm matures, releases tiny vesicles packed with microRNA that can fuse with sperm to change its cargo delivered to the egg, they said.

The caput epididymis responded to the father’s stress by altering the content of these vesicles, the researchers added.

The result of the study, presented at AAAS 2018 annual meeting in Austin, suggests that even mild environmental challenges can have a significant impact on the development and potentially the health of future offspring.

The researchers also noted that by learning more about links between a father’s exposure to stress and the risks of disease for his kid, we can better understand, detect, and prevent these disorders.

IANS

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How asthma may affect your chances of pregnancy

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Sydney, Feb 16: Certain asthma medication, especially the “quick-acting” relievers, may affect women’s ability to conceive, warns a new study.

The study of more than 5,600 women showed that asthma patients who only use these short-acting asthma relievers take longer to become pregnant than other women.

But those who use long-acting asthma preventers conceive as quickly as other women, said the study published in the European Respiratory Journal.

While the short-acting asthma relievers provide quick relief of symptoms, long-acting asthma preventers are used to control the condition instead of getting quick relief.

“This study shows that women using short-acting asthma relievers take longer to get pregnant,” said lead researcher Luke Grzeskowiak from the University of Adelaide in Australia.

“On the other hand, continued use of long-acting asthma preventers to control asthma seems to protect fertility and reduce the time it takes women with asthma to become pregnant. This could lead to a reduction in the need for fertility treatments,” Grzeskowiak said.

The results provide reassurance for asthmatic women that using inhaled corticosteroids to prevent symptoms does not appear to reduce fertility, he said.

The researchers examined the data of women expecting their first babies in the early stages of pregnancy.

The participants were from Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Ireland.

The researchers found no difference in fertility between women using long-acting asthma treatments and women without asthma.

Women using short-acting reliever medication (known as beta-agonists) took 20 per cent longer to conceive on average.

They were also 30 per cent more likely to have taken more than a year to conceive.

“As well as affecting the lungs, asthma could cause inflammation elsewhere in the body, including the uterus. It could also affect the health of eggs in the ovaries,” Grzeskowiak said.

“Inhaled corticosteroids suppress the immune system, whereas short-acting asthma treatments do not alter immune function. In women who are only using relievers it’s possible that while their asthma symptoms may improve inflammation may still be present in the lungs and other organs in the body,” he added.

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Video games can improve mobility in stroke patients: Study

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London, Feb 15: Playing video games may help stroke patients to improve their attention deficit disorders and movement control problems, claimed a new study.

After a stroke, also called cerebral infarction, injuries in areas that control attention also cause mobility problems.

The study has opened the door to a new therapeutic pathway that consists of complementing the physical treatments received by stroke patients with therapies to overcome attention deficit disorders, such as working with video games.

Previous studies have shown that the control of movement and the attention control aspect were “different systems” with little relation to each other, and that the treatments enabled for the patients with cognitive injuries could not serve for those who had mobility problems.

However, in the new study, the team emphasised that the therapeutic routes that complemented mobility therapies based on physiotherapy with another type of cognitive training can also be effective in increasing the attention span of patients at the same time.

One example would be working with the video games, the researchers noted.

“Patients with brain injuries in attention control areas also suffer motility control problems, even when the movement required by the task is very simple,” said David Soto, Professor at the Imperial College London in the UK.

For the findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team explored the extent and location of brain injuries in 167 stroke patients for more than three years.

They identified the affected part and the type and size of the lesion, and analysed the connectivity between the different areas of the brain.

Next, they subjected the patients to various motor tasks, some very simple, such as grabbing an object with force. After the tests, the researchers found that these tasks were “impaired” in those patients who had injuries in the area of the brain “involved” in attention.

The results confirmed that video games could be substituted for a new therapeutic treatment to mitigate the physical ailments suffered by stroke patients.

IANS

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