National News

Health and Fitness News and Notes

Posted May 14, 2018 6:03 p.m. EDT

Breast-Feeding and IQ

Some observational studies have suggested that children who are exclusively breast-fed have higher IQs through adolescence, and even higher incomes at age 30. But a randomized trial, a more rigorous type of study that better controls for socioeconomic and family variables, found that breast-feeding in infancy had no discernible effect on cognitive function by the time children reached age 16.

Researchers studied 13,557 children in Belarus, assigning them as newborns either to a program that promoted exclusive and prolonged breast-feeding or to usual care. Mothers and children were followed with six pediatrician visits during the first year of life to assess breast-feeding habits. The study is in PLOS Medicine. At age 16, the children took tests measuring a variety of skills.

There was no difference in scores between the two groups, except that breast-feeders had slightly higher scores in verbal function.

“If you want to breast-feed in hope of increasing cognitive functioning scores, you may find some benefits in the early years,” said the lead author, Seungmi Yang, an assistant professor of epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal. “But the effect is going to be reduced substantially at adolescence. Other factors, such as birth order and parental education, are more influential.”

Antibiotics and Kidney Stones

The prevalence of kidney stones in the United States has increased 70 percent since the 1970s, and a new report suggests that the use of oral antibiotics may be part of reason.

The study, in The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, used health records of 13.8 million patients of general practitioners in Britain. The researchers had 25,981 people with kidney stones matched for sex and age with 259,797 controls. They tracked antibiotic exposure three to 12 months before the diagnosis.

After controlling for variables like urinary tract infections and medications, they found that exposure to any of five classes of antibiotics significantly increased the risk for kidney stones. The drugs ranged from broad-spectrum penicillins, which increased the risk by 27 percent, to sulfa drugs, which were associated with more than double the risk. Cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and nitrofurantoin were also associated with increased risk. The risks for children younger than 18 were significantly higher than for adults.

The lead author, Dr. Gregory E. Tasian, a urologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that the mechanism was unclear, but that the most likely explanation was a complex interaction of the drugs with the urinary or gut microbiome.

A Diet to Postpone Menopause

A diet rich in fish and vegetables may delay the onset of menopause, a new study has found.

British researchers used health and behavioral data on 9,027 women ages 40-65, and followed them for four years. They assessed their diet using a detailed questionnaire. During the study, and after excluding women who were pregnant, used hormone replacement therapy or had surgically induced menopause, there were 914 women who went through menopause naturally.

The study, in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that the average age at menopause was 51. After adjusting for body mass index, socioeconomic factors, smoking, alcohol consumption and other variables, they found that for each additional 2 1/2-ounce portion a day of fresh legumes (like peas or beans), menopause was delayed by about one year, and for each additional 3-ounce portion of oily fish, by about three years. Eating refined rice and pasta, on the other hand, was associated with an earlier age of menopause.

“This is an observational study,” said the lead author, Yashvee Dunneram, a Ph.D. student at the University of Leeds in England, “and we can’t advise women on what to eat or not eat based on our findings.”