Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Health Risks Of Rapid Weight Gain In First Three Months Of Life

I've seen some of my friends' babies, born at low birth weight, around 2,5 - 2,7 kg. These babies seem so fragile, with bony hands, bony legs, even can literally see all the ribs. Actually, low birth weight is not a good thing. This can mean small brains and small organs, which is not a good start to life.

Research from Netherlands suggests that regardless of birth weight, how rapidly a baby gains weight in the first three months is associated with the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk later on in early adulthood.

In the past, people have thought that the circumstances in the womb which led to low birth weight, were what predisposed these children to heart disease later in life.

This new study though, has found that young adults with fat tummies, low levels of good cholesterol (HDL), less sensitivity to insulin (important to combat diabetes), were significantly more likely to have had rapid weight gain during the first 3 months of their lives. Unfortunately, the records didn't show which children were breastfed or formula-fed.

The study also found that these young adults who were born with a low birth weight are quite short as adults.

So, for parents, do check your baby's weight gain against the weight gain chart to make sure there is no significant increase in weight gain. Also, try to breastfeed your baby longer, for at least 1 year if possible, as recommended by AAP.

For reference:

Leunissen RWJ et al. Timing and Tempo of First-Year Rapid Growth in Relation to Cardiovascular and Metabolic Risk Profile in Early Adulthood. JAMA 2009;301(21):2234-2242

Friday, October 23, 2009

Causes of Varicose Veins, Definitely Not Crossing Legs

I remember when I was younger, I was kept being told by parents and also friends, not to cross legs after exercising or after a long walk, as this can cause varicose veins. I didn't know how true that was, but I just followed their advice anyway. Oh well, until I read on this health article. Crossing legs does not cause or exacerbate varicose veins.

What is varicose veins? These are veins with weakened walls, which cause them to bulge above our skin surface. And this damage to the wall affects the vein's job of returning blood circulation to our heart. Varicose veins can cause itching, pains, and sometimes eczema and ulcers.

According to Dr Ken Myers, a Melbourne vein expert, crossing legs does not affect the risks of varicose veins or even spider veins (smaller veins). It does not make the varicose veins any worse either.

A study was conducted to look at the risk factors for varicose veins conditions, and none points to crossing legs.

One of the causes of varicose veins is genetics. But many other causes remains unknown yet. An increased pressure in veins is not a cause, according to this study. The study also dismiss the previous beliefs that varicose veins was caused by the backwards pressure of blood in the veins, blowing them up like a balloon. The study concluded that when the damage to the veins is already done, then the back pressure can become a factor, thus is not the initial cause of varicose veins.

Below is the list of myths that was believed to worsen varicose veins:

  • Crossing legs, as the pressure in veins is minimal, thus this habit does not worsen the existing condition

  • Smoking

  • Having high blood pressure

  • Wearing heels

The known factors to cause varicose veins condition to worsen is:

  • Standing for long period, as it increases pressure on veins and worsen the condition slightly

  • Pregnancy, probably due to hormonal changes

  • Obesity, no known reason why this worsen the condition

Treatment for varicose veins involving closing off the affected veins by removing and/or letting it absorbed by the body. This can be done by means of surgical or non-surgical. This procedure does not harm circulation because other veins can take over the job of veins that no longer carry blood. But this does not guarantee that other veins will not be affected by varicose veins.

What you can do in the meantime is to wear support stockings, as this reduces swelling nd discomfort. Especially for my preggar friends, do wear support stockings (as your gynae might have suggested to you already)!

Friday, October 16, 2009

We All Can Die From Broken Hearted

It hit me long time ago, as I saw in some families, when one member of the family (be it the parent or the child) died due to some reasons, the other member of family will also die in the following weeks. It occurred to me back then, whether there might be some logical explanation that can justify why the other member of the family can die too? Is it dying because of broken hearted? Because of unbearable grieve and sorrow?

It turned out that this actually has a logical explanation behind it. I saw the news several days ago about dying because of broken hearted.

The fact is, you can die when someone you love dies, especially if the person is your partner or your child. This is due to increased risks of heart attack, according to Dr Thomas Buckley, a researcher and lecturer at the University of Sydney.

Based on their research, the bereaved people experienced:

  • psychological symptoms such as anger, depression, anxiety.

  • physical symptoms such as reduced sleep, reduced appetite, increase in blood pressure and stress hormones, changes in immune system and blood clotting

The biological risk of heart attack is most intense in the first few weeks after the death of the loved one. But it decreases considerably 3 months after the death, and still continue to reduce down to 6 months (at this point, the researchers stopped measuring).

What's worth noting is that it's not just older people who are at increased risks of a heart attack. Younger people are also at significant high risks of a heart attack.

It is recommended for people to be prepared for death as this seems to be very important. And also having the right social support also helps greatly.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Health Risks of Uncircumcision

For my dearest blog fellows who are pregnant with baby boy, this is the time to think about circumcision. Especially for Asian people, circumcision is not widely practised as in Western countries.

Keep reading below and you will know how important is circumcision, BOTH for your boy and for his future wife.

Let's go back in history. If you happened to think that circumcision is unimportant as our ancestors back then never even have this procedures done, you are correct! But, only applicable for that period of ancient time, when our ancestors are still naked. In fact, the foreskin plays important role to protect the tip of penis from dust, sand, insects, and infections.

The above doesn't apply anymore in our time, where we are all wrapped in clothes, often dirty and sweaty. This has made it became unhygienic, especially for people who live in hot weather countries.

The reason why circumcision is important, because the inner lining of the foreskin is very thin. This does not give protection against injury and infection like normal skin does. In fact, 'smegma' or a whitish residue of dead cells and other material, is collected under the foreskin. This attracts bacteria and other microorganisms.

Statistically, uncircumcised men are more exposed to infectious diseases such as:
  • Thrush
  • Human papilloma virus
  • Syphilis
  • HIV
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Other inflammatory conditions of the skin
  • Phimosis, a narrowing of the opening the foreskin that prevents it being retracted and makes sex painful
  • Higher chance of prostate cancer

Meanwhile, their female partners are more prone to:

  • Genital herpes
  • Chlamydia
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Infertility
  • Higher chance of cervix cancer

There is a one-in-three chance of an uncircumcised man developing one or more of these conditions over his lifetime.

However, there are always risks involving with any surgical procedure. In one in 500 circumcisions there's some minor bleeding. In about 1 in 1000, the circumcision needs to be redone. It is noteworthy though, that complications are fewest when it's done between birth and 4 months, although the procedure can be done at any age. Serious complications that requires hospitalisation is very rare. Mutilation or loss of the penis, and death, are practically unheard of if the surgeon is competent.

All in all, the benefits of circumcision still outweigh the risks of the procedure.

And to mothers to baby boys, now you can make your informed decision on whether or not to circumcised your boy, or leave it to him to decide later in his life.


For reference:
• World Health Organization's website :
• Professor Brian Morris's website :
• The Royal Australasian College of Physicians policy statement on circumcision :
• Why circumcision is a biomedical imperative for the 21st century - BioEssays abstract :

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Decaffeinated Coffee is No Safer than Caffeinated Coffee for Pregnant Women

Just drank my cup of coffee for today. Loves the smell of strong black coffee. It has been way too long I've stopped drinking coffee, all were due to being pregnant and breastfeeding back then. My gynae told me though, that I could still take 1 cup of coffee, tea, or chocolate each day. But I didn't want to take any risks by drinking these beverages. It was very hard to part from coffee as I used to drink at least 5 cups of coffee every day. I was really addicted to coffee. But again, since coffee is not that good for pregnant woman, I really didn't drink coffee for full 16 months.

My friends though, they kept on drinking coffee, 1 glass per day. They had decaf coffee, which was thought to be safer than caffeinated coffee.

Oh I gotta tell you fellows who are coffee addicts and are pregnant now, this doesn't hold true. Decaffeinated coffee is NOT any safer than caffeinated coffee.

It has been known though, that coffee drinking in early pregnancy is linked with miscarriage. Coffee drinking later in pregnancy is associated with low birth weight of the baby.

The current study by Danish researchers, was performed on preggars drinking caffeinated and decaffeinated instant coffee from about 20 weeks of gestation. The results showed that there is no differences in birth weight or prematurity, despite the fact that the caffeinated coffee group had about 180mg of caffeine more per day. And for preggars who drank caffeinated coffee and smoked, they had smaller babies.

So, to all my pregnant friends, please steer clear from coffee. Also avoid tea or chocolate whenever possible. Subsitute with fruit juices instead. Do the best we can do as a mom, and we will have nothing we could regret about in the future

Friday, October 2, 2009

Condolences to Victims of Padang Quake and Samoan Tsunami

My deepest condolences go to the victims of quake in Padang, Indonesia. Also for victims of tsunami in Samoan islands.

The tremor from quake in Padang, Indonesia, which happened on 30 September 2009, could be felt as far as in Singapore and Malaysia. I was inside my apartment on 17th floor, and I felt the building is shaking. It wasn't as bad as reported in some other parts of Singapore where it was so shaky that people escaped from the building.

The quake was 7.9 in magnitude and causing buildings, hospital, shopping malls, houses to collapse. Fire was also broken out in some area.

This quake was only few hours apart from 8 magnitude quake that caused tsunami waves in Samoan islands. This caused at least 113 people dead.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Padang has reached more than 1,100 people and is still rising as of today.

Together let's extend our helping hand to the victims, pray for the victims and families left behind. Let's open our heart and donate for these people in needs.