Alcohol in Pregnancy: It’s Never Safe, Especially Not in the First Trimester

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January 23rd, 2012

Drinking and pregnancy don’t mix, but when are babies most vulnerable to the effects of alcohol?

The end of the first trimester appears to be the period when alcohol can wreak the most havoc on fetal development, causing physical deformities as well as behavioral and cognitive symptoms, according to research in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

According to the March of Dimes, about 1 in 12 women admit to drinking during pregnancy, and 1 in 30 say they binge-drink, or consume five or more drinks at one sitting. Exposure to alcohol in utero leads to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in about 40,000 newborns every year in the U.S. While adults can break down alcohol relatively safely, still-developing fetuses tend to keep more alcohol in their blood, which can hinder the development of brain and body.

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Going with the flow for great sex

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January 23rd, 2012

When you hear the words ‘heart’ and ‘sex life’ in the same sentence, odds are the speaker is probably talking about love. But your heart – or, more accurately, your cardiovascular system – actually has a lot to do with your ability to perform in the bedroom.

This concept was brought home to me recently when I caught up with my colleague, Dr. Madeleine Castellanos, author of a recent book dealing with male sexual issues. She reminded me that there’s no way we can talk about sexual issues like erectile dysfunction (ED) or other arousal disorders without talking about cardiovascular health.

“When you break it all down, everything in the body, including sex, is dependent on good blood flow,” says Castellanos. “Our body’s way of nourishing itself and keeping itself vibrant and alive is by carrying oxygen, hormones, and nutrients via the bloodstream to all tissues and cells. The more activity that a certain part of our body engages in, the more blood flow is directed to that area.”

Although you might typically associate blood flow with your heart, brain or muscles, it’s also a crucial factor in the way your genitals function. In men, blood flow to erectile tissue produces an erection and stimulates the prostate gland to start releasing pre-ejaculatory fluid. Blood flow also benefits women by increasing the clitoris’s size and sensation and by enhancing vaginal lubrication.

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Study: Fewer abortions worldwide; increase in unsafe abortions

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January 23rd, 2012

A new study finds that although abortion rates around the world have leveled off, unsafe abortions across the globe continue to rise.

Researchers noted between 1995 and 2003 the abortion rate per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 to 44 dropped from the 35 to 29 worldwide. But in 2008 the global abortion rate remained the same at about 28 per every 1,000 women.

Yet alarmingly, researchers say the proportion of abortions thought to be unsafe rose from 44% in 1995 to 49% in 2008. The study is published in The Lancet.

According to study authors, an unsafe abortion is defined by the World Health Organization as a procedure for terminating a pregnancy that is performed by an individual lacking the necessary training or performed in an environment that is not up to minimal medical standards. Researchers took their data from abortion surveys, official worldwide statistics, hospital records and other published reports.

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Children Who View Adult-Targeted TV May Become Sexually Active Earlier In Life

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January 17th, 2012

Early onset of sexual activity among teens may relate to the amount of adult content children were exposed to during their childhood, according to a new study released by Children’s Hospital Boston. Based on a longitudinal study tracking children from age six to eighteen, researchers found that the younger children are exposed to content intended for adults in television and movies, the earlier they become sexually active during adolescence.

“Television and movies are among the leading sources of information about sex and relationships for adolescents,” says Hernan Delgado, MD, fellow in the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston and lead author of the study. “Our research shows that their sexual attitudes and expectations are influenced much earlier in life.”

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Sex Between Adolescents in Romantic Relationships Is Often Harmless to Their Academics, Study Suggests

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January 17th, 2012

The context in which adolescent sexual activity occurs can substantially moderate the negative relationship between sexual intercourse and education, according to research to be presented at the 105th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.
“Compared to abstinence, sexual intercourse in committed romantic relationships is often academically harmless, whereas in other types of relationships it is more detrimental,” said Bill McCarthy and Eric Grodsky, sociologists at the University of California-Davis and the University of Minnesota, respectively. “Females and males who have sex only with romantic partners are generally similar to abstainers on most of the education measures we examined.”

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