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Sex Soon After Delivery May Be Risky

October 05, 1998|THOMAS H. MAUGH II

For most couples, the idea of having sex one week after having a child might be the furthest thought from their minds. But just in case, be warned that British doctors have found that sex soon after birth can be dangerous and, in very rare cases, even fatal.

Intercourse too soon after childbirth can cause a deadly air embolism, or bubble, in a blood vessel, a risk that remains for six weeks after birth while the mother's womb is returning to normal and the spot where the placenta was attached is healing, according to a report in the October Postgraduate Medical Journal.

"It can be fatal. It is very, very rare," according to Dr. Philip Batman, a pathologist at the Bradford Hospitals NHS Trust in northern England. "It does happen, and obstetricians should be aware of it." Batman and his colleagues described the cases of two young mothers from northern England who died within a two-year period as a result of making love shortly after having a child. A 22-year-old woman suddenly collapsed and died while having sex with her husband eight days after delivering her third child. The second woman, a 29-year-old with four children, suffered a similar death five days after giving birth. Both deaths were caused by air embolisms.

Still Another Reason to Eat Your Breakfast

Fortified cereals are the major source of vitamins and minerals in the diets of most U.S. children, according to researchers from the National Cancer Institute. Nutritionist Amy F. Subar and her colleagues studied dietary data from 4,008 children ages 2 to 18. They report in Thursday's Pediatrics that such cereals accounted for 22% of vitamin A intake, 27% of iron, 10% of vitamin C and 30% of folate.

They concluded that breakfast cereals are acting as dietary supplements as well as food, even though nutritionists generally agree that individuals should get necessary nutrients from a variety of food groups rather than from supplements.

Long Fertility Tied to Fewer Hip Fractures

Women who reach sexual maturity early and enter menopause late are less likely to die after a hip fracture, according to a study in the October Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The female hormone estrogen, which is produced during a woman's child-bearing years, protects a woman against hip fractures caused by brittle bone disease, or osteoporosis.

Dr. Bjarne Jacobsen and his colleagues at the University of Tromso in Norway studied 60,000 Norwegian women for 29 years, 465 of whom died as a result of hip fractures.

The death rate from hip fractures for women who had their first menstrual period when they were 17 years or older was twice that of women whose periods began when they were 13 or younger, he added. A late menopause, having a first child past the age of 35 and being overweight also lowered the risk of having a fatal hip fracture. Women with 38 years or more between the onset of their first period and the menopause were half as likely to sustain fatal hip fractures as those who had 30 years or less.

A Pricey Cure for Perspiration

Throw that antiperspirant away. A team of California scientists has developed a new treatment that can keep underarms dry for months--no roll-ons, no sprays, no powders required.

There's a downside, however: The treatment could cost as much as $1,000 per year. But at least you'd have peace of mind.

Dr. Richard Glogau of UC San Francisco, announced Tuesday that the treatment using Botox, a toxin derived from bacteria, could be the answer for those suffering from excessive sweating caused by overstimulation of the sweat glands by the autonomic nerves. Botox, or botulinum A neurotoxin, is a poison in high doses. But in diluted amounts, Botox has already proved effective in treating everything from crossed eyes to sagging eyebrows--usually by neutralizing muscles that are moving involuntarily.

Glogau said Botox, which is produced by Allergan Inc. of Irvine, was also an effective treatment against heavy sweating, which in the most severe cases has been treated with oral drugs and even surgery. Botox injections block the release of acetylcholine, the chemical responsible for stimulating the sweat glands, thus leaving underarms dry as a bone.

Americans Eating More Veggies--the Fried Kind

A new study says Americans are eating almost 20% more vegetables than they did a quarter-century ago, but many of the veggies aren't green or leafy--they're deep-fried. Twenty-five percent of the vegetables consumed by Americans are French fries, according to Dr. Susan M. Krebs-Smith of the American Institute for Cancer Research, author of a study in Thursday's edition of the journal Cancer. Half of all servings of vegetables Americans eat are potatoes, and half of those are French fries.

The study found that Americans made what Krebs-Smith called modest but important improvements in eating habits between 1970 and 1995, consuming 19% more vegetables, 22% more fruit and 47% more grain products. Nonetheless, she said, Americans need to improve their diets even more to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

In a separate study in Thursday's Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from the Harvard Medical School found that women can reduce their risk of colon cancer by eating lots of fruits and vegetables rich in the B-vitamin folate. The researchers tracked 121,700 U.S. nurses from 1976 to 1994. They found that women who had a high intake of folate from food or multivitamins for at least 15 years were 75% less likely to get colon cancer.

A high-folate diet was defined as one consisting of at least four to five servings a day of leafy green vegetables and fruits.

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