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How Infertility Affects Marriages and Spouses

July 01, 2002|DIANNE PARTIE LANGE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Infertility may strain a marriage, but studies have shown that most couples weather the storm quite well. Now researchers are taking a closer look at why some couples come through infertility treatment with a stronger marriage and what goes wrong in those cases when the relationship suffers. Their conclusion: The husband's involvement plays a pivotal role.

Forty-eight couples recruited from three fertility practices in the Los Angeles area completed several questionnaires and evaluations, including an analysis of a recorded conversation between the husband and wife about their difficulty conceiving a child.

Communication between the couple was positive--and the quality of the marriage was better--when husbands believed that having children was important, wanted to participate in the effort to overcome the infertility and wanted to talk with their partners about it. Even when the wife's level of involvement was low, the researchers found that a husband's involvement could have a positive effect on the marriage.

Lauri A. Pasch, assistant professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco and the study's lead author, is now conducting a larger study that will evaluate 500 couples being treated for infertility. For now, she says, a couple can be sure they're treated as a couple by asking that both of their names be on the chart. And because wives are more likely to undergo the treatments, the woman can help involve her husband by being sure the doctor explains the options to both of them.

Fertility and Sterility 77 (6): 1241-1247

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Reduced-Fat Foods Don't Necessarily Mean Reduced Calories

Low-fat foods have been a big hit with Americans. More than 90% of us eat them, and there's now a reduced-fat version of almost any treat you love to eat.

The problem is, with so many low-fat and fat-free cakes, cookies, ice creams and sweet rolls available, we may be eating more snacks and desserts than if we only had full-fat versions to choose from. In fact, according to a recent American Heart Assn. statement, some foods made with fat substitutes have the same or more calories than the full-fat ones.

The AHA statement was published in the association's science journal Circulation to clarify some of the misconceptions about fat substitutes and weight loss. For instance, reduced fat doesn't mean reduced calories. Depending on what a fat substitute is made of, the number of calories varies from almost nothing to nine per gram, which is the same as a gram of fat. "You need to look at the number of grams of fat and calories per serving and how many servings are in the package," says Judith Wylie-Rosett of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y.

Fat substitutes can be made from carbohydrates, protein and, yes, even fat. Olestra, for example, is a "fat-based" substitute. Because it interferes with absorption of certain fat-soluble nutrients and vitamins, Wylie-Rosett, who is also the author of the AHA statement, suggests limiting your portion of chips or other Olestra-containing snacks to 1 ounce.

Circulation, online edition

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Spring Mattresses Keep More Dust Mites Away

Sleeping on a spring mattress instead of a foam one may be a good idea for the allergy-prone.

Researchers in Norway who analyzed samples from the mattresses of 50 schoolchildren with asthma and 102 healthy children reported that the risk of finding dust mite feces was four times higher in foam mattresses than in spring mattresses. Foam mattresses with no fabric covering had eight times more evidence of dust mites, the tiny creatures whose airborne droppings permeate homes.

People with allergies do all sorts of things to minimize their nighttime exposure to mites, but all of the usual methods have their drawbacks. Vacuuming is at best a short-term solution. Plastic mattress covers are uncomfortable; sprays designed to kill the mites don't penetrate deeply enough into mattresses, and their toxicity is uncertain. Sleeping on a spring mattress could reduce the exposure to mite allergens by four to eight times, says Dr. Morten Schei, a coauthor of the study.

Allergy 2002:57: 538-542

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Study Finds Mothers Do Well at Checking Children's Moles

Parents, especially mothers, are nearly as good as dermatologists at checking moles on their children. Researchers in Australia, where the incidence of skin cancer is considered an epidemic, found that when parents were given instructions on how to identify moles, their counts were close to those done by a trained expert. Having a great many moles is a risk factor for melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, so parents may want to track an increase in moles in their children.

More than 300 children were included in the study, and moms did most of the counting. About half of the children were fair- or red-haired and blue-eyed, the skin type that is at greatest risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

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