This Week in Health: Antioxidants might not help fertility
Antioxidants might not help women conceive
Location of study: New Zealand
Study subjects: 3,548 women attending fertility clinics
Results: Taking antioxidants does not increase a woman’s chances of conceiving a baby, according to a study from the University of Auckland and published in The Cochrane Library. But researchers also found no evidence of adverse side effects.
Significance: Fertility treatment for women often includes dietary supplements such as antioxidants.
Extroverted, confident mothers more likely to successfully breastfeed
Location of study: U.K.
Study subjects: 602 mothers with infants aged six to 12 months
Results: Mothers who are more extroverted and less anxious are more likely to breastfeed and to continue to breastfeed than mothers who are introverted or anxious, states an article published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. Mothers who are extroverted and less anxious are more likely to feel confident breastfeeding and find it easier to overcome problems or get the right support, which is linked to breastfeeding success.
Significance: The importance of not resorting to baby formula is stressed for the health of baby and mother: Breastfed babies have lower levels of infections and allergies and are less likely to be overweight. And mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop certain cancers.
Intestinal bacteria is good for mental health
Location of study: France
Study subjects: Mice
Results: It seems that intestinal bacteria is not just good for keeping the colon and digestive system healthy, but the human microbiome — that is, a variety of symbiotic bacteria and viruses that co-exist within our bodies — aids mental health too. These new findings were published on the National Institutes of Health website. According to researchers, probiotic supplements can potentially restore the natural gut microbiome and reduce aggression, anxiety, depression and other mild psychiatric symptoms. The Western diet, which is high in inflammation-promoting foods, is one cause of a depletion of the microbiome. Antibiotics and stress contribute too.
Significance: An imbalance of intestinal flora disrupts the immune system. One school of thought is that depletion of the flora then promotes what is known as auto-intoxication, which in turn contributes to mental illness.
Both parents experience postpartum libido swings
Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: 114 parents
Results: Contrary to popular belief, both men and women can experience a shifting libido after childbirth, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. It’s commonly known that the hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding affect sexual desire, but the study found that partners experience shifts in sexuality just like birth mothers.
Significance: “We have come to recognize that sexual health of one partner may be related to the sexual health of the other, no matter the cause of the change in sexuality,” explained Irwin Goldstein, the journal’s editor-in-chief.
Ongoing intestinal damage puts celiac patients at greater lymphoma risk
Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: 7,625 patients with celiac disease
Results: Celiac patients whose intestinal damage isn’t properly healed are at greater risk for cancer, say researchers at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center.
Significance: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease common in Western nations that damages the small intestine and reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Wheat and other grains are known triggers.