Nausea for Mom, Saltwater for Baby

Babies whose mothers suffered moderate to severe morning sickness showed a much greater preference for salt, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Washington found that 16-week-old infants whose mothers had serious nausea while pregnant showed a greater preference for saltwater solutions than did babies whose mothers were not wracked by nausea. The study was published in the journal Appetite.

In earlier studies, the same team found that young adults whose mothers had severe pregnancy nausea reported a greater fondness for salty snacks than did young adults of mothers who did not experience morning sickness.

Apparently, it is the dehydration associated with vomiting that is the key to shaping the offspring's fondness for salt.

If Infertility Treatment Fails, Is a Refund Due?

The field of assisted reproductive technology has been simmering in a recent debate about whether infertility treatment centers should offer so-called shared risk or refund programs to patients. The patient ends up paying higher fees, but if she fails to become pregnant, part of the fee is reimbursed. The successful patients' fees help to pay for, or insure, the unsuccessful patients.

Critics of refund programs claim it is unethical. But a report in the September issue of Fertility and Sterility backs the practice. The Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine found that "such plans are, in principle, ethically acceptable but that great care is needed in their implementation to ensure that patients are fully aware of the advantages and disadvantages of shared risk programs, including the likelihood of success, the costs that are not covered, and the risk that providers offering this plan have to take to assure success."

Many New Moms Still Discharged in 24 Hours

In 1996, Congress passed the Newborns' and Mothers' Protection Act, which requires insurance companies to cover a hospital maternity stay for at least 48 hours. But is that number simply arbitrary?

It appears so, according to a new study of 5,201 new mothers published in the journal Health Affairs. It found that 60% of the women were discharged within 24 hours anyway. Still, 56% of women said they felt their stay was too short because of fatigue, not feeling well, needing more information on self care and baby care and not having enough help at home.

The length of stay did not seem to affect whether the newborn received important blood screening tests--99% of them did. Perhaps the most noteworthy finding was that only 1.6% of mothers and only 4% of infants were readmitted for problems. And the women who were discharged within 24 hours were less likely to be readmitted, while the newborns discharged within 24 hours were slightly more likely to be readmitted.

U.S. Tubal Pregnancies Up Fourfold in 20 Years

Ectopic--or tubal--pregnancies in the United States have increased fourfold in the past 20 years. While rare, the risk of maternal death from a ruptured tubal pregnancy is a concern. However, a new study in the Journal of Women's Health concludes that there is no good way to predict which ectopic pregnancies will lead to a ruptured tube.

The researchers at Cleveland Clinic Foundation could find no symptoms that precede a tubal rupture. That being the case, they caution that it is important for all ectopic pregnancies to be discovered and removed as early as possible.

Hypertension May Complicate Pregnancy

Women with chronic hypertension who become pregnant have a higher risk of developing a potentially serious complication of pregnancy, called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia causes heightened blood pressure, swelling, seizures and threatens fetal health.

It has not been possible to identify which pregnant women with high blood pressure might develop preeclampsia. Now, however, researchers believe they have identified risk factors that could serve as an early warning.

The study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that diastolic blood pressure of at least 100 mm Hg, at least four years of hypertension and a previous history of preeclampsia are risk factors for the disease. In addition, the presence of proteinuria (urinary protein excretion) early in pregnancy and the development of preeclampsia predicted an adverse outcome for the baby, such as preterm birth.

The authors of the study, which involved 763 pregnant women with hypertension, also confirmed earlier studies that found that development of preeclampsia was not affected by low-dose aspirin treatment.

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