HEALTH

Research finds folic acid intake may cut risk of premature birth

BY Michael Johnsen

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Women who take folic acid supplements for at least one year before they become pregnant may cut their risk of having a premature baby by half, according to research published this week in the online journal, PLOS Medicine, the March of Dimes reported Monday.

The study links pre-conceptional folate supplementation of at least one year to reduced early premature delivery rates of 50% to 70%, regardless of age, race or other factors. Of particular note is the drop in very early premature births, those babies who are at the greatest risk of complications such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease and blindness.

“Through [National Institute of Health] trials, we received highly accurate evidence of gestational age enabling us to determine that folate supplementation for at least one year is linked to a 70% decrease in very early preterm deliveries (20 to 28 weeks gestation) and up to a 50% reduction in early preterm deliveries of 28 to 32 weeks,” stated Radek Bukowski, associate professor, in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the lead study author.

“We already know that folic acid supplementation beginning before pregnancy and continuing into the first trimester helps prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, such as spina bifida,” added Alan Fleischman, SVP and medical director of the March of Dimes. “Bukowski’s research makes us optimistic that taking folic acid for at least one year before pregnancy also may greatly reduce the risk of premature birth and reinforces our message that every woman of childbearing age should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.”

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Mosquito gut bacteria may inhibit malaria parasite, researchers say

BY Michael Johnsen

BALTIMORE, Md. Bacteria in the gut of a mosquito may inhibit infection of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria in humans, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Scientists with the Bloomberg School’s Malaria Research Institute found that removing these bacteria, or microbial flora, with antibiotics made the mosquitoes more susceptible to Plasmodium infection because of a lack of immune stimulation. Their study is published in the May 8, edition of the journal PLoS Pathogens.

“Our study suggests that the microbial flora of mosquitoes is stimulating immune activity that protects the mosquito from Plasmodium infection,” stated George Dimopoulos, senior author of the study and associate professor with Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute. “The same immune factors that are needed to control the mosquito’s infection from the microbes are also defending against the malaria parasite Plasmodium. … The interplay between bacteria and the mosquito’s immune system may have significant implications for the transmission of malaria in the field where mosquitoes may be exposed to different types of bacteria in different regions. Theoretically, these bacteria could be introduced to the mosquitoes to boost their immunity to the malaria parasite and make them resistant and incapable of spreading the disease. Our current research aims at identifying those bacteria that trigger the strongest mosquito immune defense against the malaria parasite.”

Malaria kills more than one million people worldwide each year; the majority of deaths are among children living in Africa.

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Herb works as anti-ulcer therapy, study shows

BY Michael Johnsen

BEIJING A research team led by Syed Rafatullah from Saudi Arabia validated the gastric anti-ulcer properties of the herb Rocket “Eruca sativa L.” (EER) on experimentally-induced gastric secretion and ulceration in albino rats. The study was published April 28 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.

In recent years, Rocket “Eruca sativa L.” (EER), a member of the Brassicacae family, has gained greater importance as a salad vegetable and spice, especially among Middle Eastern populations and Europeans. It is believed that plants belonging to the Brassicacae family possess diversified medicinal and therapeutic properties including inhibition of tumorigenesis, anti-ulcer and hepatoprotective activities.

Although the introduction of proton-pump inhibitors to the classic anti-ulcer therapy has revolutionized treatment of peptic ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders, there is still no complete cure for this disease, researchers noted. It has been shown that long term use of these drugs leads to various adverse and side effects. Relapses of the malady, ineffectiveness of different drug regimens and even resistance to drugs are emerging. Thus, there is an urgent requirement to identify more effective and safe anti-ulcer agents.

Researchers found that the ethanolic extract of EER significantly and dose-dependently reduced basal gastric acid secretion, titratable acidity and ruminal ulceration in lab rats. The authors concluded that EER extract possesses anti-ulcer activities against experimentally-induced gastric lesions.

KelloggsDRSNhttp://www.centerstoregrowth.com

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