Researchers from NPEU and the University of Essex have published a paper today in Human Reproduction which suggests that children born after infertility treatment such as IVF, are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with asthma at 5 years than their naturally conceived peers. The paper is Open Access and is available in these forms:
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Even moderate drinking in pregnancy can affect a child’s IQ
Relatively small levels of exposure to alcohol while in the womb can influence a child’s IQ, according to a new study led by researchers from the universities of Bristol and Oxford using data from over 4,000 mothers and their children in the Children of the 90s study (ALSPAC) and published in PLOS ONE.
Current advice to pregnant women about moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy is contradictory, with some official guidelines recommending complete abstinence and others suggesting that moderate use is safe. Previous studies have produced conflicting and inconsistent evidence on the effects of moderate alcohol intake on a child’s IQ. This may be because it is difficult to separate the effects of moderate alcohol consumption from other lifestyle and social factors, such as smoking, diet, affluence, mother’s age and education.
This study, believed to be the first substantial one of its kind, used genetic variation to investigate the effects of moderate (less than 1 to 6 units of alcohol per week) drinking during pregnancy among a large group of women and their children. Since the individual variations that people have in their DNA are not connected to lifestyle and social factors, the approach removes that potential complication.
Four genetic variants in alcohol-metabolising genes among the 4,167 children were strongly related to lower IQ at age eight. The child’s IQ was on average almost two points lower per genetic modification they possessed.
But this effect was only seen among the children of women who were moderate drinkers. There was no effect evident among children whose mothers abstained during pregnancy, strongly suggesting that it was the exposure to alcohol in the womb that was leading to the difference in child IQ. Heavy drinkers were not included in the study.
Speaking about the findings, the report’s main author, Dr Sarah Lewis, said: ‘Our results suggest that even at levels of alcohol consumption which are normally considered to be harmless, we can detect differences in childhood IQ, which are dependent on the ability of the foetus to clear this alcohol. This is evidence that even at these moderate levels, alcohol is influencing foetal brain development.’
Dr Ron Gray from the NPEU, University of Oxford who led the research added: ‘This is a complex study but the message is simple: even moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can have an effect on future child intelligence. So women have good reason to choose to avoid alcohol when pregnant.’
University of Oxford news article - http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2012/121115.html
University of Bristol news article - http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2012/8936.html
News, updates and other information are available on Twitter @NPEU_CTU
Listening to Parents, a national survey of the experiences of women and partners after the stillbirth or death of their baby, has started.
Visit the Listening to Parents page for more information.
The UKCRC CTU Registration International Review Committee met in July 2012 to consider applications and recommended that the NPEU Clinical Trials Unit should be awarded Full Registration. This recommendation has been ratified by the UKCRC Board.
With respect to the NPEU CTU, the Review Committee noted that: The unit had presented a well-constructed and considered application which provided clear evidence of established operational experience in the design and deliver of large scale multicentre clinical trials supported by a strong set of publications. Overall, the committee concluded a strong application had been presented which met the criteria for Full Registration.
The NHS confederation research digest, recently published (June 2012, Issue 3) is devoted to Birthplace.
Quote from NHS confederation website:
It provides authoritative findings from the Birthplace Research Programme, commissioned in 2007 to address key gaps in the evidence, including a national prospective cohort study of low-risk women giving birth in different settings. The Birthplace cohort study is the largest study of its kind in the world, designed to inform those who plan, commission and deliver maternity services. The first four studies were completed in November 2011 and a further two are due to complete during 2012.
MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies - Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK) to run the national Maternal, Newborn and Infant Clinical Outcomes Review Programme, effective immediately.
More information available on the NPEU website or the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) website.
Visit the ADEPT page for more information.
Visit the Birthplace page for more information.
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