Today's Medical News From Newspapers, TV, Radio and the Journals.
Customized Briefing for Dr. Jarir Nakouzi Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Mother's lifestyle choices influence children from womb to grave, research suggests.
USA Today (7/1, Szabo) reports that "the choices" a mother-to-be makes -- "getting good prenatal care, eating nutrient-packed vegetables, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine -- may help her baby long after birth." In fact, "research into the 'developmental origins of adult disease' suggests that...healthy living may help" children "avoid problems such as cancer, heart disease, depression, and diabetes, not just in childhood, but 50 years from now." One UK expert explained that "during the crucial 'window of opportunity' before birth and during infancy, environmental cues help 'program' a person's DNA," which "happens through a delicate interplay of genes and the environment called epigenetics, which can determine how a baby reacts for the rest of its life." Harvard researchers recently noted that children "can develop abnormal reactions to stress." According to their paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "persistent, 'toxic' stress -- such as neglect or extreme poverty -- may program a child's nervous system to be on perpetual high alert. Over time, this can damage the immune response and lead to chronic ailments, such as heart disease and depression."