Tag Archives: pregnancy

e-cigarette research

E-cigarettes point to babies at risk

Featured image: baby with asthma receives treatment through an inhaler. Credit: Thinkstock

A study of the effects of smoking electronic cigarettes during pregnancy has been hailed by the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) in its stand against legalising nicotine in e-cigarettes.

Using a mouse model and human lung cells, the UTS Molecular Biosciences Research Team study, led by Pawan Sharma, David Chapman and Brian Oliver, found e-cigarette vaping among expectant mothers increased the risk and severity of allergic asthma in their babies.

“E-cigarettes are being regarded as a tool to help quit smoking, so we considered the effect of maternal e-cigarette vaping an important area to look in to,” says Sharma.

“Our study indicated e-vaping in pregnancy was associated with reduced lung function and an increased risk of asthma in the mothers’ offspring. These findings show that e-cigarette use during pregnancy should not be considered safe.”

The UTS team’s e-cigarette research is supported by an international study in which laboratory trials concluded that when e-cigarettes are used as a healthier substitute for tobacco smoking during pregnancy, mothers may still be posing significant neurological risks to their unborn offspring.

Earlier this year, Australia’s drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) rejected an application to relax the ban on e-cigarettes containing nicotine.

Professor Peter Gibson, TSANZ President, says the evidence does not support the lifting of the ban.

“While electronic cigarettes are likely to be less dangerous than smoking cigarettes, they are not harmless,” he says

“We have an increasing body of evidence pointing to the harms of e-cigarettes containing nicotine.”

Australia’s ban on e-cigarettes containing nicotine was introduced in 2009. In September 2016, an application to the TGA proposed nicotine in e-cigarettes at certain concentrations should be exempt on the basis that they provide an alternative pathway for smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit. The TGA decided in March to continue the ban.

Chapman says e-cigarettes still expose users to numerous toxic compounds.

“It is unknown whether a reduction in these compounds equates to improved health outcomes. Nicotine is a highly addictive compound and itself leads to detrimental health outcomes.”

This article on e-cigarette research was first published by UTS on 13 April 2017. Read the original article here.

birth defects

Birth defects: a data discovery

Professor Fiona Stanley is well known for her work in using biostatistics to research the causes and prevention of birth defects, including establishing the WA Maternal and Child Health Research Database in 1977.

In 1989 Professor Stanley and colleague Professor Carol Bower used another database, the WA birth defects register, to source subjects for a study of neural tube defects (NTDs). The neural tube is what forms the brain and spine in a baby. Development issues can lead to common but incurable birth defects  such as spina bifida where the backbone does not close over the spinal cord properly.

The researchers measured the folate intake of 308 mothers of children born with NTDs, other defects, and no defects. They discovered that mothers who take the vitamin folate during pregnancy are less likely to have babies with NTDs. Their data contributed to worldwide research that found folate can reduce the likelihood of NTDs by 70%.

After the discovery Professor Stanley established the Telethon Kids Institute where she continued to research this topic alongside Professor Bower. Together they worked on education campaigns to encourage pregnant women to take folate supplements.

Their great success came in 2009 when the Australian government implemented mandatory folic acid fortification of flour. The need for such legislation is now recognised by the World Health Organisation.

A 2016 review conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that since the flour fortification program’s introduction, levels of NTDs have dropped by 14.4%.

– Cherese Sonkkila

This article was first published by the Australian National Data Service on 12 September 2016. Read the original article here.

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