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Pre-Term Birth (PTB) affects 5–18 percent of livebirths worldwide and despite advances in neonatal care, is the leading global cause of death of children under 5 years of age. PTB remains a major health inequality, and rates are increasing. PTB is a multifactorial syndrome; the biological mechanisms involved are incompletely understood, although several risk factors exist which form the focus for preventive strategies. Maternal steroid and thyroid hormones, their biosynthesis and bioavailability is fundamental for the appropriate development of fetuses, and any perturbations to these processes can have adverse developmental outcome such as PTB. Prediction of PTB proves challenging although enables targeted therapies to be offered with the intention of preventing or delaying birth, without unnecessary overtreatment. Several interventions exist which reduce the severe morbidity and mortality from PTB, including antenatal corticosteroids and magnesium sulphate therapy. Animal models of PTB help developing future therapeutic candidates for prevention of PTB in women.
Animal and human data demonstrate independent relationships between fetal growth, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function (HPA-A) and adult cardiometabolic outcomes. While the association between fetal growth and adult cardiometabolic outcomes is well-established, the role of the HPA-A in these relationships is unclear. This study aims to determine whether HPA-A function mediates or moderates this relationship. Approximately 2900 pregnant women were recruited between 1989-1991 in the Raine Study. Detailed anthropometric data was collected at birth (per cent optimal birthweight [POBW]). The Trier Social Stress Test was administered to the offspring (Generation 2; Gen2) at 18 years; HPA-A responses were determined (reactive responders [RR], anticipatory responders [AR] and non-responders [NR]). Cardiometabolic parameters (BMI, systolic BP [sBP] and LDL cholesterol) were measured at 20 years. Regression modelling demonstrated linear associations between POBW and BMI and sBP; quadratic associations were observed for LDL cholesterol. For every 10% increase in POBW, there was a 0.54 unit increase in BMI (standard error [SE] 0.15) and a 0.65 unit decrease in sBP (SE 0.34). The interaction between participant’s fetal growth and HPA-A phenotype was strongest for sBP in young adulthood. Interactions for BMI and LDL-C were non-significant. Decomposition of the total effect revealed no causal evidence of mediation or moderation.
Obesity rates among children are rapidly rising internationally and have been linked to noncommunicable diseases in adulthood. Individual preventive strategies have not effectively reduced global obesity rates, leading to a gap in clinical services regarding the development of early perinatal interventions. The objective of this scoping review is to explore the relationship between maternal BMI and breastfeeding behaviors on child growth trajectories to determine their relevance in developing interventions aimed at preventing childhood obesity.
The scoping review was guided and informed by the Arksey and O’Malley (2005) framework. A systematic search was performed in four databases. Studies included in the final review were collated and sorted into relevant themes. A systematic search yielded a total of 5831 records (MEDLINE: 1242, EMBASE: 2629, CINAHL: 820, PubMed: 1140). Results without duplicates (n = 4190) were screened based on relevancy of which 197 relevant-full-text articles were retrieved and assessed for eligibility resulting in 14 studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Data were extracted and charted for the studies and six themes were identified: (1) healthy behaviors, lifestyle, and social economic status; (2) parental anthropometrics and perinatal weight status; (3) genetics, epigenetics, and fetal programming; (4) early infant feeding; (5) infant growth trajectories; and (6) targeted prevention and interventions. Early life risk factors for child obesity are multifactorial and potentially modifiable. Several at-risk groups were identified who would benefit from early preventative interventions targeting the importance of healthy weight gain, exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months, and healthy lifestyle behaviors.
To determine whether food security, diet diversity and diet quality are associated with anthropometric measurements and body composition among women of reproductive age. The association between food security and anaemia prevalence was also tested.
Secondary analysis of cross-sectional data from the Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI) study. Food security and dietary data were collected by an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Hb levels were measured using a HemoCue, and anaemia was classified as an altitude-adjusted haemoglobin level < 12·5 g/dl. Body size and composition were assessed using anthropometry and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.
The urban township of Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Non-pregnant women aged 18–25 years (n 1534).
Almost half of the women were overweight or obese (44 %), and 9 % were underweight. Almost a third of women were anaemic (30 %). The prevalence rates of anaemia and food insecurity were similar across BMI categories. Food insecure women had the least diverse diets, and food security was negatively associated with diet quality (food security category v. diet quality score: B = –0·35, 95 % CI –0·70, –0·01, P = 0·049). Significant univariate associations were observed between food security and total lean mass. However, there were no associations between food security and body size or composition variables in multivariate models.
Our data indicate that food security is an important determinant of diet quality in this urban-poor, highly transitioned setting. Interventions to improve maternal and child nutrition should recognise both food security and the food environment as critical elements within their developmental phases.
Although significant advances to patient care have been made in various branches of obstetrics and gynaecology, the incidence of preterm birth has not changed in the past 40 years. Indeed there are signs that factors such as low socioeconomic status of some inner city populations, the tendency for women to choose to start a family at an older age and the impact of fertility treatments are leading to an increase in the incidence of preterm delivery. Improved neonatal care over this period has significantly reduced the mortality rate due to prematurity, although it remains the primary cause of neonatal death. The morbidity rate in preterm infants, however, has not substantially changed due largely to the resuscitation of neonates at or close to the limits of gestational age viability. This has inevitably had a tremendous economic impact upon health care systems and upon society in general. Neonatal care in the USA alone cost over $5 billion annually in the 1980s – the vast majority of which was due to prematurity. When one adds the costs of chronic care for some of these infants with major motor and/or mental handicaps as well as the loss of potential earnings, prematurity ranks as one of the most costly of medical complications.
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