Health Briefs

HEALTH BRIEFS

July 20, 2009

Birth control pill takes longer to work in obese women

Obese women starting to take the birth control pill should also use an alternative method of contraception for at least 10 days, and perhaps for as long as 20 days because it takes that long for effective levels of the drug to build up in the blood, Oregon researchers report. In women of normal weight, such a buildup only requires about five days, they found. Epidemiological research has suggested that the pill does not work as well in obese women - those with a body mass index, or BMI, higher than 30. Some experts had thought the problem was that the hormones in the pill were selectively deposited in fat cells and didn't get into the blood stream, but pharmacologist Ganesh Cherala of Oregon State University and his colleagues reported in the journal Contraception that it simply takes longer for the drug to build up in the blood stream.

- Los Angeles Times

Fetuses have memory in the womb, study says

Fetuses can remember, potentially long enough to shed light on their neural development. Dutch researchers have found that, at 30 weeks of development, fetuses have a memory of 10 minutes. At 34 weeks old, they can remember events for four weeks. The findings help explain central nervous system development - and how fetuses may react if that growth is abnormal. In the study, researchers in the Netherlands applied a sound-and-vibration stimulus to the abdomens of 93 pregnant women. The stimulus lasted for one second and was repeated every 30 seconds, at a location just above the fetus' leg. The fetuses ranged from 30 weeks to 38 weeks. At first, the fetus would make a startled-like movement, says study co-author Dr. Jan Nijhuis, director of the Centre for Genetics, Reproduction and Child Health at Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands. Eventually though, it would stop reacting. The researchers then counted the number of stimuli before the fetus stopped responding.

- Los Angeles Times

Chicken might have more sodium than you think

Most people don't think of uncooked chicken as a significant source of sodium, but it can be, not just because most cooks use salt as seasoning. Injecting raw chicken with saltwater solutions during processing is a widespread practice in the poultry industry. It's also a practice that has the industry increasingly divided. The labels on saltwater-infused meats typically say "enhanced with up to 15 percent chicken broth." The Truthful Labeling Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of poultry producers that don't enhance their products, is pressing the USDA to change that policy. Charles Hansen, executive director of the coalition, says, "We've got no objections to them adding saltwater to chicken, but why not list it prominently on the label?"

- Los Angeles Times

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