Originally created 11/28/02

Capsules



Diabetes danger

An analysis of more than 145,000 women who delivered infants at Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital has found that diabetes before and during pregnancy can increase the risk of delivering a baby with birth defects.

However, women with milder forms of diabetes during pregnancy, those who did not need insulin to control their blood sugar levels, were just as likely to have healthy babies as those without diabetes, researchers report this month in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Diabetes is the most common medical complication of pregnancy.

In the journal, the researchers reported that about 1.5 percent of women who were not diabetic delivered a baby with a birth defect. That percentage was 6.1 percent among women who had diabetes before pregnancy and 4.8 percent among women who developed diabetes during pregnancy.

"Preconceptual screening for diabetes in high-risk women and aggressive diabetic management may be able to prevent some of these anomalies," the researchers reported in the journal. The study was conducted by Drs. Jeanne Sheffield, Erin Butler-Koster, Brian Casey, Donald McIntire and Kenneth Leveno of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Staying close

People eat more fruits and vegetables when they have a supermarket in their neighborhood, a new study has found.

White Americans' fruit and vegetable intake increased by 11 percent when they had a supermarket nearby, while black Americans' intake increased by 32 percent for each store, researchers from three institutions report in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The analysis was based on a study of more than 10,000 participants who filled out surveys about their eating habits as part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, an ongoing heart-disease project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. People in the study live in 208 neighborhoods in four states.

The research found that white neighborhoods were more likely to have supermarkets than black neighborhoods: Only 8 percent of the black participants lived in a neighborhood with at least one supermarket, compared with 31 percent of whites. While the study didn't examine why the presence of a local grocery store had a greater impact in black neighborhoods, the researchers hypothesized that people who live in black neighborhoods may rely more on public transportation, leaving them less selection in shopping.

Early learning

Children born at very low weights show sluggishness in their mental processing even in the first year of life, a new study shows.

Intelligence, language and scholastic skills - areas in which low-weight, preterm infants test poorly - are thought to depend on processing speed, the study notes. So scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City measured processing speed at ages 5 months, 7 months and 12 months in full-term infants compared with preterm infants, who weighed less than about 3.9 pounds.

More than 200 infants were shown a series of paired faces, with one that stayed the same throughout a given trial, and one that changed. The testing continued until a child was consistently more interested in a "new" face. To reach that point, preterm babies needed about 20 percent more trials and 30 percent more time than full-term infants at each age interval.

"Thus, there was no evidence that the gap in performance narrowed with age or that the preterms caught up," the scientists write this month in the journal Developmental Psychology.