Monthly Archives: October 2006

‘Sperm-stopping’ male pill hope

Sperm cells
The drug stops developing sperm from maturing.
Scientists are developing a male contraceptive drug which stops the development process of sperm.

Tests on rats show blocking connections to cells which “nurture” developing sperm makes the animals infertile.

The US and Italian researchers say they used relatively low doses of the molecule and found no obvious side effects, and the effect was reversible.

But they told Nature Medicine that work was now needed to see if their approach is equally effective and safe in men.

High dosage

When sperm are being made in the body in a process called spermatogenesis they sit next to other cells, called Sertoli cells, which nurse and help them grow.

If the connection between these two cell types is broken, infertility can result in men.

In the study authors used a recently developed molecule called Adjudin to dislodge the developing sperm from the Sertoli cells.

However Adjudin is also known to be toxic at high doses.

To get round this, the researchers linked it chemically to a hormone, called FSH, which acts in the testicles where sperm are made.

The FSH, which the researchers made inactive so it would merely act as a carrier and not cause any effect itself, delivered Adjudin to where it was needed, allowing much lower doses to be given.

This made the developing sperm cells “fall off” too early, before they were properly mature, resulting in complete but temporary loss of fertility in the rats.

More research is needed to assess if the same approach could work in humans.

But the researchers, led by Dr Dolores Mruk, from the Center For Biomedical Research in New York, said: “We anticipate that this compound could become a male contraceptive for human use.”

‘Promising’ research

Dr Richard Anderson, from the University of Edinburgh, who has been investigating hormonal male contraceptives in the UK, said: “This is very promising.

“A non-hormonal approach to male contraception using a drug which specifically targets a process in spermatogenesis has long been a very attractive option, as it leaves hormone production by the testis intact.”

He said it appeared the drug effects could be fully reversible, although only a single dose was given in the study.

“Clearly there are enormous amounts of work needed to translate this to humans.

“Adjudin may be ineffective in men, as the biochemistry of the cell junctions it targets may be different, and the precise molecular basis of its mechanism of action is unknown.

“However, perhaps the most important aspect of this study is the demonstration that using FSH targeting, drugs that are otherwise too toxic, can be delivered in safe yet effective doses.”

Basal Body Temperature Charting (BBT)

Relax ladies! I’m not ttc at the moment!

Does or has anyone every charted their BBT when trying to conceive?

The Basal Body Temperature is your body’s core temperature. When you ovulate, your BBT increases slightly and so by charting your BBT over your monthly cycle, you can see if ovulation has occurred by a temperature shift. In order to monitor this effectively, you need to use a digital thermometer that goes to 2 decimal places so that the slight shift of 0.1 to 0.2 degrees can be picked up. You also need to take your temperature as soon as you wake, before getting out of bed, eating or drinking.

When we were ttc Ella, I started to track my BBT to see if I was ovulating as my cycle is very erratic so I could never get the hang of using the sticks. The chart showed that I didn’t ovulate every month.

We’re going to start ttc again at some point and so I decided to start tracking my BBT again to get an idea of what my body is doing post-Ella. The problem is that BBT tracking works best if you take your temperature at the same time every morning, and if you haven’t had a disturbed night! Well, there’s the floor in the plan as Miss Mears doesn’t believe in sleeping through the night!

As a result, my BBT chart is somewhat all over the place. That said, I have seen over the past 2 months that I seem to have a 10 day luteal phase (the time between ovulation and the 1st day of your period). If thats correct, then I may have been plotting ovulation incorrectly in the past.

Anyway, my point/question is, has anyone else done BBT charting and if so, did you do it when suffering from a number of disturbed nights!? If you have a disturbed night, your BBT can be higher than normal and so show a false reading on your chart. To identify the temperature shift when ovulation occurs, you need to look for a reading that is higher than the previous 6 – which with lots of spikes for disturbed nights isn’t easy!



Pregnancies are Different


Pregnancies are Different

Most pregnancies follow a usual routine, about 6 weeks after conception you start getting morning sickness, which usually fades by about the 3rd month, you then have a glow for the next 3 months and in the final 3 months, and you end up with one part of your baby or other digging in your ribs.  There are a lot of common factors during pregnancy, hormones rising and dropping, crying for no reason other than you can’t manage to do your laces up, morning sickness (not always in the morning), and obviously the final part of giving birth, however no 2 pregnancies are alike.
Conception can take one mishap, or it could take months of trying to conceive either, through natural methods or with medical help.  Which ever way it is just the start of a very long 9 months.  The first sign of pregnancy can be the absence of your period.  However, some people d get sick, and others just feel their bellies are getting a couple of inches bigger.  Some people have reported continuation of their periods.  Once you have your pregnancy confirmed there are more things that need to be done than you could possibly imagine.
Getting married and the house ready is the first and only major hurdle I thought about.  What I did not realise is how often I would have to see a midwife or doctor, how long the routine tests would take and how much I would worry about every little twinge that happened.
With my first I was 18 and thought I could do anything regardless of what the medical professionals said.  I helped my husband with lambing (it was my first year as a farmer’s wife), only to be kicked out of the vets clinic when he was pulling a lamb.  By week 35 of my pregnancy the doctors told me I had to go into hospital as I had a blood condition that meant I could bleed to death during labour.  I went in for a week of intensive treatment; I was then taken to the labour ward and induced.
Induction consisted of breaking my waters, and putting me on a drip.  Not so bad so far.  I woke up half way through a Pethadine induced sleep to find 8 student midwives at the end of my bed.  I was also convinced I was having a girl, which led to me having postnatal depression after my first pregnancy as my first baby was a boy.  Although it was not officially diagnosed until after I had had my daughter (pregnancy 5, child 3). 
My 2nd pregnancy was more routine, although I had bleeding twice during the 7th and 8th month, as well as a lot of ‘twinges’ which I now know to be Braxton hicks.  I was hospitalised for this, and although they found nothing, I had a placental abruption in week 37; I was rushed into the hospital and given an emergency caesarean section.  I was in hospital afterwards for10 days recovering as I had a huge blood loss, and both my son and I nearly died. 
My next pregnancy went without a hitch.  I had morning sickness which I had with all the others.  However, I was placed on the very high risk list.  I was taken into hospital 2 weeks before she was due, as they could not bring an ambulance to the house.  It was cheaper to have me in the hospital than get the helicopter to land here, to which the local ambulance crew were relieved.
Then having had 9 years on the Depo injection I decided it was time to try again.  It took 18 months to actually conceive this time, and whereas I had morning sickness with my first 3, I had nausea all day most of the way through my 4th pregnancy.  I could not cook anything, I had to go into the other room and direct my kids through notes passed back and forth every day during meal times.  Ginger biscuits were about all I could eat.  I had all the routine scans and tests again.  However, I had a lot of contractions through the last month of carrying my 3rd son.  The baby was in position 3/5 engaged and stayed that way for 3 weeks.  I was in agony most nights crying, and still no one listened to me.  It was suggested that I do some gentle exercising, but even that was painful, my last 2 weeks of pregnancy was spent sat on a cushion on the floor during the Easter holidays playing games with the children because I could not do housework.  It turned out that the baby had wedged his head the wrong way in my pelvis, and subsequently created a ridge across his head.  Luckily there is no lasting damage but considering with each pregnancy people say that it is supposed to be quicker, it was my longest labour yet.  I did it all on Entonox (gas and air) I was in labour from 6am until 11pm. 
Conception for my final son took less than any other time.  I had a 6 month old son, when I decided to do a test, it was negative, but unconvinced I did a further 2 within the same week.  And just to be sure the tests were not faulty I did an afternoon test which came positive too.  Although I had some sickness, I didn’t suffer much at all.  That was left to a close friend.  She had all my symptoms, nausea, cravings you name it.  I had never had cravings before but mine was fish and chippy chips.  I had a lot of Braxton hicks this time round, something I had never had with the others really.  The differences in pregnancies were more apparent to me this time, I knew my body, I knew when I was due, but the baby was not having much goodness from me or my body, as there was none in me, and with my dating scan came a setback.
 Baby was not developing at the ‘normal’ rate so they moved me back 4 weeks.  I went through the pregnancy knowing that if I went into labour, they would try and stop me.  In my final month I was in and out of the hospital so often I got to know an awful lot of the midwives.  I also was sent in for an extra ultrasound as the baby was not growing according to my specialist, so they did a test on the flow from the umbilical cord.  It was not as good as it should be so I was sent into the hospital for routine heart traces, and they seemed fine, the babies heart would dip every so often but nothing to worry about.  The following week they did another test only to find the cord was doing absolutely nothing.  I had my waters broken and put on the monitor.  It showed the baby was going into distress, so I was rushed in to have another section. 
Nothing in pregnancy is routine, nothing is text book, and text books will only tell you what a routine pregnancy should be like.  Every single pregnancy is different, whether you have raised blood pressure, SPD, blood problems etc.  You can not guarantee that the end will be the same either.  I was convinced I would be fine this last time, I had backache, I had the runs, and I had contractions, nothing prepared me for the fact that I was having a section again.  All problems encountered during pregnancy can be recognised and usually easily treated quickly and efficiently.  I would willingly go through it again if I didn’t already have so many children.

This is a members article written by Vickimom

All babies given sickle cell test

Image of heel prick test
The baby’s heel is pricked to collect some small drops of blood.
All babies in England are to be screened for sickle cell blood disorders within two weeks of birth.

The check, carried out as part of the standard “heel-prick test” that looks for other health problems, spots both the full-blown disease and carriers.

Sickle cell is a condition that affects the normal oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells and ranges in severity.

In England, it affects about 12,500 people and about 240,000 are carriers of the faulty genes that cause it.

The screening, which has been introduced over recent years, is expected to identify more than 300 babies a year in England who would otherwise be at very high risk of severe complications and, in some cases, death if the correct treatment is not administered, experts estimate.

The heel prick test, which also checks for a range of other diseases such as cystic fibrosis, is carried out by midwives or health visitors in the first week or two after the birth.

Heel prick test

The test involves pricking the baby’s heel to collect some small drops of blood.

In Britain, sickle cell is most common in people of African and Caribbean descent. However, it can affect anyone.

Racial diversity and mixed race marriages also means more people could be carriers but not realise that they are.

Allison Streetly, director of the NHS Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia Screening Programme, said screening was crucial to spot those at risk.

She explained: “It is no longer possible to assume who may or may not be affected.”

At risk

All pregnant women in England should also be offered a blood test in early pregnancy to check whether they carry a gene for sickle cell anaemia or a similar blood disorder called thalassaemia.

Where a woman is a genetic carrier, the baby’s father is also offered testing. If both parents are carriers, there is a one in four chance with each pregnancy that the baby will have the disorder.

At-risk couples will be offered a range of counselling and diagnostic tests for the baby.

Such antenatal screening has been rolled out in most high prevalence areas. It is hoped full coverage throughout England will be achieved by summer 2007.

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and chair of the NHS Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia Screening steering group, said he was delighted to see the investment in screening, but said investment in care was now needed.

A spokeswoman from the Sickle Cell Society said couples should also consider screening before trying for a baby.

SPD and Hypermobility – answers at last

Yesterday I went to the pain clinic. I have to say I wasn’t looking forward to it as the closest pain clinic to us is Bury St Edmunds – an hour + drive away! I had also been feeling much better with the chiropractor so wasn’t sure it was worth it but as I’d been waiting 13 weeks for the appointment I thought I’d give it a go. Am I glad I did!

I was called in by a lovely nurse and the Dr asked me to explain what had happened. So I started with my pregnancy and got up to today. Then he asked if I had been flexible as a child or had had joint problems in the past. I said yes and I have had loads of problems with wrists and ankles. He looked at my wrists and said I have hypermobility and ligament laxity (or something).

Then he took me through to the exam room. Prodded and poked at my groin, hips and back until I was nearly crying in pain and declared I was a mess (his words not mine)!

This was when I was expecting him to fob me off with painkillers or similar and tell me to go, instead…

He then told me about a treatment he does for this where under xray conditions he injects the ligaments around the pelvis with something that will tighten the ligaments. I will have a course of this and if it helps he will then do a more permanent procedure meaning I will be SPD free – hopefully for life! He’s done it lots before with great results and is going to send me all the information on it. He is the only person in the area doing this so I will have to go back to bury but I am over the moon someone has actually taken me seriously and diagnosed me!

I am now looking to a pain free future!


Breastfeeding and Teething

The vast majority of breastfed babies manage to go through the
teething process without attempting to bite their mothers!

Many mums are told to wean when their babies get their first tooth
but this is not necessary. Many babies never attempt to bite and
those who try once are so startled by their mum’s reaction they
never do it again!

When a baby breastfeeds, the mother’s nipple is positioned far back
in it’s mouth, and the baby’s lips are positioned well behind the nipple
on the outer edge of the areola (the coloured part that surrounds the
nipple). The baby’s tongue extends beyond the gums between the
lower teeth and the breast. Therefore, even after a baby’s teeth
erupt, he cannot bite when he is ACTIVELY nursing.

If your baby does bite the natural reaction will be to pull him off the
breast. This could cause your nipples even more damage than the
bite. The very best thing to do is stay calm (difficult I know!) and
actually PULL HIM IN CLOSE! If you pull him in this will partially block
his airway and he will release the nipple. Babies are sensitive even
to a slight block of their nose and will release as a reflex action.

If biting persists there are a number of strategies that can help.

1. Give baby your complete attention during nursing. Give lots of
eye-contact, touching and talk to your baby. This will also help you
see when baby is becoming uninterested in feeding and may be
ready to stop nursing.

2. Learn to recognise the end of a feed. Most biting, if it is going to
occur will happen at the end of a feed, when the baby has lost
interest. While watching your baby you may notice tension develop
in the jaw before he actually bites down. This is a signal to break the
suction by gently popping your pinky into the side of baby’s mouth,
and take baby off the breast before a bite!

3. Don’t force a feed! If baby is wriggling, rolling or pushing against
mum it is probably not hungry or interested in feeding. If baby is
definitely due to be fed try lying down in a quiet room with baby lying
beside you to help settle him down enough to feed.

4. Keep your milk supply plentiful. If baby gets frustrated at the
breast from too little milk it may increase the odds he will bite.
Human milk is the ONLY food a baby needs until the middle of the
first year. If other foods are used too early, or the baby is given
regular drinks of water or juice it will interfere with mum’s milk
supply. You can boost your supply by expressing milk in addition to
feeding your baby frequently. Remember breastmilk is on a supply
and demand basis.

5. For persistent biters- keep your wee finger poised to release the
suction and, if baby bites put them quickly and quietly down on the
floor. ( Obviously if you are in a nice carpeted room- not if you’re in
the middle of a cafe or on a bus.)

The baby associates feelings of comfort and security as well as
satisfaction of hunger with his mother. He doesn’t understand that
putting his teeth on her nipple causes her pain. Babies do not bite
out of “meanness”. A baby has to learn what to do with his new teeth
while nursing, and this is sometimes learnt by trial and error. 


Fermented milk ‘cuts allergies’

A young boy
The young are vulnerable to food allergies.
Ingredients of a mildly alcoholic milk drink could help protect children from food allergies, research has suggested.

Kefir is a fermented milk drink made from live bacteria cultures which is credited with having health benefits in parts of eastern Europe.

Research published by the Society of Chemical Industry reports kefir contains bacteria which could help reduce allergic responses.

Experts warned that much more testing needed to be done on the product.

Between 5% and 8% of children under the age of three are at risk from food allergies.

“In the future, maybe we can screen out the certain components [bacterial strains or bioactive peptides] from kefir and utilize them in medicine”
Ji-Ruei Liu, research team leader

Currently, the only way to deal with food allergies is to avoid problematic food.

According to the research, the milk drink inhibits the allergen specific antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE).

IgE is involved in immune responses to inactivate organisms that might cause disease.

However, in the presence of allergens, it can also activate cells responsible for the release of histamine, a chemical which stimulates allergic responses, such as inflammation and constriction of airways.

Future hopes

Tests found that the amount of Ovalbumin specific IgE was reduced by three times when the milky drink was fed to mice. Ovalbumin is allergenic protein found in egg white which cause most allergies in young children.

Ji-Ruei Liu, who led the research at the National Formosa University in Taiwan, said: “In the future, maybe we can screen out the certain components (bacterial strains or bioactive peptides) from kefir and utilize them in medicine.”

Sharon Matthews, an allergy specialist from the Isle of Wight NHS Primary Care Trust in the UK, said: “We need much more supportive evidence before a human trial could be contemplated.”

The research featured in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.