Breast-feeding good for mom’s heart health

Women who breast-feed their babies may have a slightly lower risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke decades later, a large new study suggests. Researchers found that among nearly 290,000 women in China, those who breast-fed were 10 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke later in life, versus women who bottle-fed their babies.

In the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, 97 percent of the women breast-fed their children. The average time for breast-feeding was 12 months per child. They were all free of heart problems when the study began. Over the next eight years, the risk of developing coronary heart disease, which includes heart attacks and clogged arteries that can lead to a heart attack, was 10 percent lower among women who’d breast-fed, versus those who’d bottle-fed.

And that risk kept lowering the longer a woman had breast-fed. For each additional six months of breast-feeding per baby, the odds of cardiovascular trouble declined by 3 to 4 percent, on average.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breast-feeding exclusively for the first six months of life, and then continuing to breast-feed while gradually adding solid foods during the next six months. After that, the decision to continue breast-feeding is up to mom and baby, the AAP says.

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Diet can lower C-section, diabetes odds

It is well known that eating a healthy diet and exercising during pregnancy is good for the developing baby. But a new analysis of 36 studies including a total of more than 12,500 women suggests these behaviors are also good for mom. They can lower her chances of having a Cesarean-section delivery or developing diabetes while pregnant.

Overall, healthy habits reduced the risk of needing a C-section by about 10 percent, said study author Shakila Thangaratinam, a professor of maternal and perinatal health at Queen Mary University of London. A healthy lifestyle also reduced a woman’s risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes, by 24 percent, the findings, published in the journal BMJ, showed.

The researcher suggests that a healthy diet includes eating more fiber, more fish and olive oil, and no sugary drinks. Thangaratinam recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, with aerobic exercise and two muscle-strengthening sessions.

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Sperm counts declining worldwide!

According to a study in the July 25 issue of the journal Human Reproduction Update, male reproductive health is in serious decline. Sperm counts in Western countries have decreased by an average 52 percent between 1973 and 2011, while total sperm count declined by 59 percent during that period, according to data analysis from 185 studies involving nearly 43,000 men in all.

“We found that sperm counts and concentrations have declined significantly and are continuing to decline in men from Western countries,” said senior researcher Shanna Swan, a professor of environmental medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “The declines are strong, significant and continuing,” she said.

The new findings come on the 25th anniversary of the first study to observe a decline in sperm counts, Swan said. The original study, published in 1992, found that sperm counts had declined 50 percent over 50 years. “The story has not changed over the past 25 years. Whatever is going on, it’s not transient and it’s not disappearing,” Swan said. “When we look at the data for the last five or 10 years, we don’t see a leveling off of this decline.”

No one knows why sperm counts continue to decline, but researchers believe it’s likely due to factors associated with a modern lifestyle, Swan said. These factors include exposure to man-made chemicals, increased levels of stress, widespread obesity, poor nutrition, lack of physical exercise and smoking.

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Scientists modify genes of embryos

A team of researchers in Portland, Oregon has carried out the first known attempt at genetically modifying human embryos in the United States. According to an article in the MIT Technology Review, researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University successfully changed the DNA of many one-cell embryos with the gene-editing technique CRISPR.

Three previous reports of editing human embryos have been reported by scientists in China, but this research “is believed to have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating that it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases,” the article states.

None of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days, were never intended to be implanted, it says, but “the experiments are a milestone on what may prove to be an inevitable journey toward the birth of the first genetically modified humans.”

Scientists hope that, by editing the genetic code, they can remove or fix genes that cause inherited disease. But critics believe this “could open the floodgates to a brave new world of ‘designer babies,’ … a prospect bitterly opposed by a range of religious organizations, civil society groups, and biotech companies.”

You can read the article here. And let us know what you think about this new scientific development.

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A review filled with exclamation points!!!

An exuberant patient of ours had this to say about her experience with RSCNJ.

“I have recently started working with Dr. Zeigler and he has been GREAT! He is extremely patient and down to earth! So far I have nothing bad to say! I have worked with a previous facility that was a disaster! Dr. Z is easy to get along with, explains all options, and makes you feel comfortable. Hina is the PA in the office when Dr. Z is unavailable she is there to answer your questions and get you a timely appointment! She is kind and patient as well!”

Thanks to her! And please read more kind reviews—with and without exclamation points!—on our web site.

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Stroke risk higher in women with preeclampsia

We recently told you about new recommendations calling for vigilant blood pressure screening in pregnant women. New research shows just how important that screening may be. Although pregnancy-related stroke is rare, women with preeclampsia are at higher risk of stroke during pregnancy and postpartum. The study finds that urinary tract infections, chronic high blood pressure and bleeding or clotting disorders increase the risk of pregnancy-related stroke in those women.

Research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke report that preeclampsia affects 3 percent to 8 percent of all pregnancies. Related strokes are incredibly rare—one study found just 2 in 1,000 women with preeclampsia suffered a pregnancy-associated stroke. But those unlucky few were seven times more likely to have severe preeclampsia or eclampsia and about three times more likely to have infections when they arrive at hospital, or had high blood pressure before developing preeclampsia or had blood disorders involving clots or excessive bleeding.

“Preeclampsia is a very complex disorder that’s not completely understood,” said Eliza Miller, M.D., study lead author and vascular neurology fellow at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “Our study sought to discover if there are other risk factors or clues that may help identify the women with preeclampsia who are at the highest risk for pregnancy-related stroke. We were looking for risk factors that could be prevented or treated.”

Researchers noted a link with urinary tract infections was interesting “because those infections are not only treatable, but could be preventable,” Miller said. She added, “Preeclampsia is a very common disorder, and a lot of people are not aware of its association with stroke. Women with preeclampsia should take any neurological symptoms, such as severe headache, very seriously, especially during the postpartum period.”

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Asthma in pregnancy raises risk of asthma for child

According to a study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, women with uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy are more likely to have children that develop asthma at an early age.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting pregnant women. In most cases, pregnant women should manage their disease though the use of medication in the same manner as women who are not pregnant. The level of control a mother has over her asthma may affect the risk of her child developing the disease at an early age, the study suggests.

Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York looked at data from 7,188 children born in Denmark to mothers with active asthma during their pregnancy. They found that mothers who had uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy were more likely to have children with early-onset persistent asthma compared to mothers who had controlled asthma.

The researchers cited separate studies reporting that 24% of women do not take prescribed anti-asthmatics during pregnancy, and the frequency of poor inhaler technique ranged from 41% to 54%. Because of this discrepancy, the authors suggest health professionals be alert and encourage proper medication usage.

“In-utero exposure to uncontrolled asthma is associated with an increased asthma risk of the child,” said lead author Xiaoqin Liu. “This may suggest that maintaining asthma control during pregnancy is an area for possible prevention of asthma in future generations.”

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Welcome our new physician, Dr. Virginia Mensah

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Virginia Mensah has joined the Reproductive Science Center of New Jersey as our newest specialist in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Dr. Mensah is a devoted physician, committed to providing excellent medical and surgical care for her patients.

Dr. Mensah received her medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine, and went on to complete her obstetrics and gynecology residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She completed her fellowship training in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Women and Infants Hospital, which is affiliated with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Rhode Island.

She is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Her clinical interests include infertility; in vitro fertilization; pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and screening; and oocyte cryopreservation for fertility preservation.

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Moms on antidepressants likely won’t hurt babies

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found an elevated risk of intellectual disability (ID) in children born to mothers treated with antidepressants, but the risk was not statistically significant and is likely due to other factors, including parental age and the parents’ psychiatric history. The study was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The study examined the risk of ID in 179,000 children born in Sweden in 2006 and 2007. Approximately 4,000 of those children were exposed to antidepressants and other psychotropic medications during pregnancy. The researchers compared the risk in these children with a subsample of 23,551 children whose mothers were diagnosed with depression or anxiety prior to childbirth but did not use antidepressants during pregnancy.

ID was diagnosed in 0.9% of exposed children and 0.5% of unexposed children. After adjusting for other potential risk factors, including parental age, the risk of ID after exposure to antidepressant medication was not statistically significant in both the full-population sample and in the sub-sample of women with a history of depression.

The researchers note that while the study was conducted in Sweden, the findings are applicable in most countries where antidepressants are prescribed. “Our study provides more information for clinicians to evaluate the risks in pregnant women taking antidepressants,” said co-author Abraham Reichenberg, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “It should be factored into other considerations such as the increased risk for the mother if not medicated, the drug’s side effects, and other medical conditions.”

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“We love Dr. Ziegler and the staff”

Our patients often post wonderful reviews of our care. Here are two recent posts.

“We love Dr. Ziegler and staff. Everyone is so nice and helpful. Since my first visit they have felt like family and helped us throughout this entire process. Highly recommend.”

“Dr. Ziegler and his staff were amazing throughout my entire IUI cycle. Everyone was so caring and attentive to details. I will miss their care now that I’m discharged to my OB.”

Thanks to them, at to all our other patients who post nice comments, which you can read on our web site.

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