Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Claim: Mother’s Heartburn Means a Hairy Newborn

THE FACTS It is an odd adage that has stuck around for ages: women who suffer heartburn during pregnancy will have babies with full heads of hair. But doctors have long shrugged it off.

Until now, that is. In December, researchers at Johns Hopkins University conducted a study intending to put the claim to rest. To their surprise, they ended up confirming it. The study, published in the current issue of the journal Birth, followed 64 pregnant women, about 78 percent of whom reported having some heartburn. After the women gave birth, two outside observers looked at pictures of their infants and rated their levels of hair.

Of the 28 women who reported moderate to severe heartburn, 23 had babies with average or above-average amounts of hair. Conversely, 10 of the 12 women who reported no heartburn had babies with little or no hair.

Other studies have shown that in pregnant women, high levels of estrogen and other hormones can relax the sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus, causing heartburn. The same hormones, other studies show, can influence fetal hair growth.

The lead author of the study, Kathleen Costigan, who runs the fetal assessment center at Johns Hopkins, said the findings came as a shock.

“We’ve heard this claim hundreds of times, and I’ve always told people it’s nonsense,” she said. “Since the study came out, I’ve had to eat a lot of crow.”

THE BOTTOM LINE Heartburn during pregnancy may mean a greater likelihood a baby will have a lot of hair.

Anxiety During Illness May Trigger IBS

(WebMD) People who are overly anxious or refuse to slow down during a bout of food poisoning or other infection-related gastrointestinal illness may be prone to developing irritable bowel syndrome, according to a new

The findings reinforce the view that emotional factors like stress and
anxiety contribute to the chronic bowel condition. But they also suggest that the way a person deals with acute illness plays a role.

Researchers found that people who pushed themselves too hard when they had bacterial gastroenteritis developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) more often than people who took it easy.

Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the digestive tract that can result from a viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection.

"Instead of resting up, these driven people kept going until they collapsed in a heap," study co-author Rona Moss-Morris, PhD, tells WebMD. "The gastroenteritis triggered the symptoms, but this 'all-or-nothing' behavior may have helped prolong them."

For the rest of this article, including learning how to slow down, click here.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Chrones disese - Teenagers and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Many irritable bowel syndrome sufferers first develop symptoms of IBS during their teenage years. Symptoms like stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation and bloating are difficult even for an adult to deal with, and if you also have to cope with peer pressure, new relationships and exams it can make life very miserable indeed.

On top of this, teenagers often find that their parents, and even their doctors, do not take them seriously when they try to seek help. The number one complaint I hear from teenagers who have been diagnosed with IBS, often after many months or years of asking for help, is that "no-one believed I was sick". This is horrible for the teenager, as not only do they have the physical pain and discomfort to deal with, they also have to get past the fact that everyone around them thinks they are 'faking it'. Can you imagine anything worse?

Because of this problem, it is vital that we trust our children when they're say that they're having bowel problems. Of course, most kids will try to get out of school once in a while, but very few will pretend to have embarrassing symptoms like diarrhea or wind. In fact, it may have taken a great deal of courage for them to even admit to these symptoms in the first place. It's very important that when they do manage to talk about their problem, they receive a sympathetic ear.

It's also vital that teenagers receive a definite diagnosis of IBS from a doctor - bowel symptoms can mean IBS, but they can also mean Crohn's Disease, celiac disease, and a range of other disorders, so please get these ruled out before you assume that it's IBS.

Once a diagnosis has been made, you need to work alongside your teenager to help them find some treatments that work for them. This may be in the form of medications, dietary change, or supplements, and it may take a while to find something that works for each individual, but there certainly are treatments out there - don't let your child feel that they're going to suffer forever, or that just because IBS is still poorly understood there's no hope for the future. Most IBS sufferers find a treatment program that works for them, but it may take time and a trial and error approach.

Another important point to remember is that because of the general lack of understanding of IBS, there are some long-standing myths which your child might be subjected to. The most damaging, and most common, of these myths is that IBS is "all in your head" - the implication being that if the sufferer would stop being so neurotic or anxious the IBS symptoms would magically go away. This is nonsense, and you should make sure that your child knows that their symptoms are NOT their fault, and are certainly not caused by emotional problems.

Having said that, stress and anxiety can be triggers for IBS, just as certain foods can be triggers for IBS, and so anything you can do to relieve stress may help relieve symptoms to a certain extent. Remember that your child may be worried about not reaching a bathroom in time and having an accident, or having to leave class during school time and being made fun of. They might also have problems with teachers who think that they are missing out on too much school.

At all stages of your teenager's illness, the best thing that you can do is be their advocate, whether it is with doctors who are not offering treatment options, teachers who are blaming your child for missing school, or family and friends who have decided that IBS is not a big deal.

If you are standing beside your child saying "IBS is real, painful, and depressing, but we're going to beat this together" then you should find that your teenager is far more hopeful about the future, and far more willing to talk to you about what can be a very embarrassing and painful disorder.

About The Author

Sophie Lee has suffered from IBS since the age of 12. She runs the website Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment http://www.irritable-bowel-syndrome.ws where you can read reviews of all the treatments available for IBS.

Asthma and Reflux

Your doctor will be alert for other symptoms, such as frequent nonburning chest pain, bleeding into the gastrointestinal tract, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), hoarseness, or constant coughing and wheezing. Such symptoms may be associated with GERD, but could have other causes and might warrant tests to gain more information.

For example, GERD can cause respiratory problems such as asthmatic wheezing, coughing, or hoarseness. When asthma strikes adult nonsmokers with no history of lung disease or allergies, pH monitoring studies sometimes suggest that GERD is the culprit. More than 75% of patients with asthma experience reflux.

Researchers speculate that when caustic acid refluxes into the esophagus it triggers a nerve reflex that constricts the bronchial tubes (the branches of the trachea that lead into the lungs) and produces wheezing. Aspiration of acid into the bronchi may also play a role in causing these symptoms.

On the other hand, asthma may lead to gastroesophageal reflux, rather than vice versa, since the coughing and wheezing of asthma create pressure shifts in the chest that can produce reflux. In addition, theophylline and other bronchodilators, medications used to treat asthma, may weaken the LES.

For more information on testing, click here.