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Having More Kids May Slow Mom's Aging, Study Says

Posted 13 Jan 2016 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13, 2016 – The more children women have, the slower they may age, new research suggests. Looking at chromosomes, scientists found that women who have more kids have longer telomeres, which helps slow the aging process. Telomeres are caps of DNA at the end of each chromosome. Like the tips found at the end of shoelaces, telomeres protect chromosomes and their critical genetic information from damage. Having sufficiently long telomeres is essential for cells to be able to multiply. As people age, telomeres shorten, eventually leading to cell death, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The new study by Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, included 75 women from two rural communities in Guatemala. Their telomere lengths were measured through cheek and saliva swabs taken twice 13 years apart. The research suggested – but did not prove – that ... Read more

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No Link Between 'the Pill' and Birth Defects: Study

Posted 7 Jan 2016 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 6, 2016 – Becoming pregnant while taking birth control pills doesn't seem to increase the risk of birth defects, a new study suggests. Researchers found similar rates of birth defects – about 25 infants out of 1,000 – among women who never used birth control pills and those who took them before pregnancy or took them before realizing they were pregnant. "Women who become pregnant either soon after stopping oral contraceptives, or even while taking them, should know that this exposure is unlikely to cause the fetus to develop a birth defect," said lead researcher Brittany Charlton. "This should reassure women as well as their doctors," said Charlton, an instructor in the department of epidemiology at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. However, she cautioned that this study can't prove that birth control pills don't cause birth defects, only that ... Read more

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Girls Given Risky Meds Don't Get Contraceptive Advice

Posted 16 Dec 2015 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 16, 2015 – New research from a Midwestern hospital suggests a wide majority of teen girls and young women fail to get information about contraceptives when they take medications that could cause birth defects. At issue are so-called "teratogenic" medications, used for conditions ranging from acne to anxiety, that boost the risk of birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Physicians often tell sexually active women to take birth control while they're on the drugs to avoid becoming pregnant, but it's unclear whether younger females routinely get the same kind of guidance. In the new study, researchers examined the medical records of nearly 1,700 females aged 14 to 25 who received just over 4,500 prescriptions for teratogenic medications in more than 4,100 visits from 2008-2012. All the participants had visited a large, unidentified pediatric medical center in the ... Read more

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U.S. Abortion Rate Hits Record Low: CDC

Posted 11 Dec 2015 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Dec. 11, 2015 – The U.S. abortion rate has declined by more than one-third over the past two decades to a record low, federal officials reported Friday. Abortions fell 35 percent between 1990 and 2010, reaching 17.7 procedures per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, said report lead author Sally Curtin, a statistician for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. That's the lowest abortion rate since the CDC began tracking the procedure in 1976, Curtin said. "Abortion has been on a nearly steady decline since the rate peaked in 1980," she said. The pregnancy rate also hit an all-time low in 2010, according to the report. Many factors likely contribute to the reduction in abortions, but increased use of highly effective birth control is one of the most important trends, said report co-author Kathryn Kost, principal research scientist at the ... Read more

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CDC: Too Few Schools Teach Prevention of HIV, STDs, Pregnancy

Posted 9 Dec 2015 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 9, 2015 – Too few U.S. schools teach students how to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, how to prevent pregnancy, and other important sexual health information, federal officials reported Wednesday. In most of the country, fewer than half of high schools and only one-fifth of middle schools teach all 16 sexual health education topics recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 44 states, the proportion of high schools that teach all 16 topics in grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 ranges from 21 percent in Arizona to 90 percent in New Jersey. Only three states – New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York – have more than 75 percent of high schools teaching all of the topics. The proportion of middle schools that teach all 16 topics in grades 6, 7 or 8 ranges from 4 percent in Arizona to 46 percent in North Carolina. No state ... Read more

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Weight Gain Between Pregnancies May Affect Infant Survival

Posted 3 Dec 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 3, 2015 – Weight gain after a first pregnancy might raise the risk of infant death and stillbirth in a second pregnancy, a new study suggests. In mothers who were previously a healthy weight, even moderate weight gain between the two pregnancies was associated with increasing the odds for infant death, researchers reported Dec. 3 in The Lancet. "The public health implications are profound," study author Sven Cnattingius, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said in a journal news release. "Around a fifth of women in our study gained enough weight between pregnancies to increase their risk of stillbirth by 30 to 50 percent, and their likelihood of giving birth to babies who die in infancy increased by 27 to 60 percent, if they had a healthy weight during their first pregnancy," Cnattingius said. But while the study detected an association between mother's ... Read more

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Study Ties Essure Birth Control Implant to Greater Need for Reoperation

Posted 13 Oct 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Oct. 13, 2015 – New research raises concerns about Essure, an implanted long-term birth control device that's already the focus of controversy. Researchers found a 10-fold higher risk of needing a reoperation during the first year for women who choose the Essure device compared to those who had minimally invasive surgery for sterilization. Essure works to prevent conception by blocking the fallopian tubes with metallic coils. This isn't the first time the device, first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002, has come under scrutiny. In September, an FDA panel reviewed the safety of the device after receiving complaints of complications from users. Abdominal pain was the side effect most often reported by women to the FDA, followed by heavier menstrual periods. The panel said that while complications have been reported, they haven't increased since the ... Read more

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Mouse Study Hints at New 'Male Contraceptive'

Posted 1 Oct 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Oct. 1, 2015 – A discovery in mice could pave the way to a reversible, non-hormonal form of birth control for men, researchers report. The findings, published online Oct. 1 in the journal Science, add to efforts to develop the elusive "male pill" – that is, a reliable but temporary form of contraception for men. "It is important that we find an effective and reversible contraceptive option to allow men more control over their own reproductive futures," said Masahito Ikawa, the lead researcher on the new study. "The findings of this study may be a key step to giving men that control," said Ikawa, a professor at Osaka University's Research Institute for Microbial Diseases in Japan. The results are based on male mice, and results of animal studies don't always apply to humans. But Ikawa's team was able to render the animals infertile – temporarily – by blocking a specific ... Read more

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Health Tip: Stay Fit and Healthy During Pregnancy

Posted 1 Oct 2015 by Drugs.com

-- It's important to develop healthy habits before and during pregnancy – and to maintain them once your baby is born. The Weight-control Information Network suggests: If you exercised before pregnancy, speak to your doctor about continuing those habits during pregnancy. If you didn't exercise before pregnancy, speak to your doctor about going for regular walks, or at least taking frequent stretch breaks from prolonged sitting. Get back to exercising after baby is born, as soon as your doctor approves. Drink plenty of fluids, and use caution during warm weather. Eat a balanced, nutritious diet throughout pregnancy and afterward. If you're able, nurse baby for added health benefits for you and baby, and to help burn calories. Read more

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Earlier Hormone Therapy May Pose Less Risk for Menopausal Women

Posted 30 Sep 2015 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 30, 2015 – Women who start hormone therapy toward the beginning of menopause may have a lower risk of developing heart disease, new research suggests. The study, of over 74,000 Swedish women, found that those who started hormone therapy within five years of beginning menopause typically stayed free of heart disease for a longer time than non-users. In contrast, women who started hormone therapy later showed an increase in their heart disease risk. "This is in line with what a number of studies have shown," said Dr. Sonia Tolani, of the Women's Center for Cardiovascular Health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, in New York City. "There does seem to be a relationship between the timing of hormone therapy and heart disease risk," said Tolani, who was not involved in the study. However, she stressed, that doesn't mean women should routinely use hormones when menopause ... Read more

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Pregnancy Intervals May Affect Autism Risk, Study Suggests

Posted 14 Sep 2015 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Sept. 14, 2015 – The amount of time between a woman's pregnancies may matter when it comes to the possible risk of her children developing autism, new research suggests. "Children conceived in less than two years after the birth of their older sibling or greater than six years have [about] a two- to threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with autism," said study researcher Lisa Croen, director of the autism research program at Kaiser Permanente division of research, in Oakland, Calif. Croen said that previous studies have shown an increased risk associated with very short pregnancy intervals, and a higher risk with longer than usual intervals. "We are finding the same thing. I think now there is a growing body of evidence that is pointing in the same direction," she said. She cautioned, however, that "this is not causal. These kinds of studies can't prove cause, this is ... Read more

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Could Oral Contraceptives Help Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Posted 28 Aug 2015 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Aug. 28, 2015 – Oral contraceptives – also known as birth control pills – may ease pain and improve functioning in women with rheumatoid arthritis, a small German study suggests. "Women with inflammatory arthritis who were currently using oral contraceptives or who had used them in the past, presented with better patient-reported outcomes within the first two years of arthritis," the study authors wrote. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the joints, resulting in pain and swelling. About 1.3 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis, and of these, nearly 75 percent are women, according to the American College of Rheumatology. Dr. Waseem Mir, a rheumatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, noted, "We have to take the findings of the study with great caution." Mir was not involved in the current ... Read more

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Birth Control Pills May Cut Women's Odds for Uterine Cancer

Posted 5 Aug 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Aug. 4, 2015 – A new study suggests that birth control pills may also help shield women from uterine cancer. Taking birth control pills, even for just a few years, offers significant long-term protection against uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, the British researchers said. And the longer a women takes birth control pills, the greater her reduction in risk for the disease, concluded the team led by Valerie Beral of the University of Oxford. In fact, they estimated that over the past 50 years, birth control pills have prevented about 400,000 cases of endometrial cancer among women before age 75 in wealthy nations, including about 200,000 between 2005 and 2014 alone. "The strong protective effect of oral contraceptives against endometrial cancer – which persists for decades after stopping the pill – means that women who use it when they are in their 20s or ... Read more

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Women Spend Far Less on Birth Control Because of 'Obamacare'

Posted 7 Jul 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, July 7, 2015 – Out-of-pocket costs for prescription birth control have dropped significantly since the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare," took effect in the United States, a new study finds. Researchers analyzed prescription claims data from a large national insurer. They found that the average out-of-pocket cost for a birth control pill prescription fell from $32.74 in the first six months of 2012 to $20.37 in the first six months of 2013. That represents a 38 percent decrease. During that same time, the out-of-pocket cost for intrauterine device (IUD) insertion fell from $262.38 to $84.30 – a 68 percent decrease, the findings showed. The study, published in the July issue of the journal Health Affairs, is the first to examine how prices for prescription birth control have changed since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect, said the researchers at the ... Read more

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Obese Teens Less Likely to Use Birth Control

Posted 1 Jul 2015 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, July 1, 2015 – Sexually active teenage girls who are obese are less likely to use birth control than teens who aren't overweight, a new study reports. What's more, those overweight teens who do use some form of contraception are less likely than their normal-weight peers to use it regularly, the researchers said. In both cases, obese teens are at greater risk for an unintended pregnancy, the research from the University of Michigan found. "The U.S. teen pregnancy rate is one of the highest in the developed world and we know pregnant adolescents are more likely to have poor birth outcomes," said the study's lead author, Dr. Tammy Chang, an assistant professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School and a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, in a university news release. "Reducing adolescent pregnancy is a national public health priority and ... Read more

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