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Folic acid in late pregnancy causes asthma

Folic acid supplements taken by mothers in late pregnancy could lead to allergic asthma in their children at the age of 3 to 5 years, according to a study.

The study by University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute suggests that the timing of supplementation in pregnancy is important.

Associate professor Michael Davies said folic acid supplements — recommended for pregnant women to prevent birth defects — appear to have ‘additional and unexpected’ consequences in recent studies in mice and infants.

“Supplemental folic acid in late pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of asthma in children, but there is no evidence to suggest any adverse effects if supplements are taken in early pregnancy,” he said.

The study involved more than 500 women whose maternal diet and supplements were assessed twice during their pregnancy, with follow-up on their child’s asthma status at 3.5 years and 5.5 years.

Asthma was reported in 11.6 per cent of children at 3.5 years and 11.8 per cent of children at 5.5 years. Nearly a third of these children reported persistent asthma.

Tomatoes can help fight the flab

Move over starving diets and strict exercise regimes — the key to weight loss could simply be eating lots of tomatoes, experts believe.

According to researchers, the fruit leaves the eater feeling satisfied, and thus suppresses the urge to snack, which is one of a slimmer’s main pitfalls.

It is thought tomatoes are rich in compounds that alter levels of appetite hormones, making them an easy way to keep off hunger pangs.

To reach the conclusion, researchers at Reading University fed 17 women sandwiches made with white bread, bread enriched with carrots or with tomatoes. The tomato bread proved the most filling.

Project leader Dr Julie Lovegrove said: “We can’t yet say what the crucial ingredient is, but the results were statistically significant”.

Night-shift, coffee ‘deadly’ combo

Night-shift workers should keep their distance from coffee machines if they wish to have quality sleep, researchers say.

Julie Carrier, Université de Montréal, and a researcher at the affiliated Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur Sleep Disorders Centre, discovered that coffee’s main by-product caffeine meddles with sleep. The lead investigator further found that the side-effect grew worse with age.

Carrier said: “Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant to counteract sleepiness, yet it has detrimental effects on the sleep of night-shift workers who must slumber during the day, just as their biological clock sends a strong wake-up signal. The older you get, the more affected your sleep will be by coffee.”

She added: “We all know someone who claims to sleep like a baby after drinking an espresso. Although they may not notice it, their sleep will not be as deep and will likely be more perturbed.”

Diet soda can damage kidney

Too much diet soda can lead to decline in kidney function among women, say researchers.

The team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found that individuals consuming a diet high in sodium or artificially sweetened drinks might be damaging their kidney.
“There are currently limited data on the role of diet in kidney disease,” said Dr Julie Lin.

“While more study is needed, our research suggests that higher sodium and artificially sweetened soda intake are associated with greater rate of decline in kidney function”, Lin added.

In the study involving more than 3,000 women found that “in women with well-preserved kidney function, higher dietary sodium intake was associated with greater kidney function decline.”

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