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Genital herpes in pregnancy may raise autism risk for offspring

Children born to mothers who have active genital herpes during pregnancy may be at twice the risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, new research suggests. Researchers suggest a link between active HSV-2 in early pregnancy and autism risk in offspring. Lead author Milada Mahic, of the Center for Infection and Immunity and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Norway, and colleagues report their findings in the journal mSphere. Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection primarily caused by herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). Around 417 million people worldwide have genital herpes caused by HSV-2, with around 10-20 percent of cases occurring in people who have received a prior diagnosis of the condition.

Mapping premature infant’s brain after birth may help better predict developmental problems

Scanning a premature infant’s brain shortly after birth to map the location and volume of lesions, small areas of injury in the brain’s white matter, may help doctors better predict whether the baby will have disabilities later.

Extremely Low AED Levels Found in Breastfed Infants of Mothers with Epilepsy

In a prospective study of women with epilepsy, researchers found blood levels of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) in their breastfed infants to be either undetectable or well below the therapeutic range. They reported the findings here Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society. 

Maternal linked to childhood epilepsy

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease whereby the body’s own immune system attacks the joints. New research suggests there may be a link between mothers with the autoimmune disorder and their children who develop epilepsy.

Researchers discover a new stage of the development cycle of the human brain

Researchers discover mass migration of inhibitory neurons into the brain’s frontal cortex after birth Researchers at UC San Francisco have discovered a previously unknown mass migration of inhibitory neurons into the brain’s frontal cortex during the first few months after birth, revealing a stage of brain development that had previously gone unrecognized. The authors hypothesize that this late-stage migration may play a role in establishing fundamentally human cognitive abilities and that its disruption could underlie a number of neurodevelopmental diseases. Most neurons of the cerebral cortex – the outermost layer of the brain responsible for advanced cognition – migrate outward from their birthplaces deep in the brain to take up their positions within the cortex....

Taking two new epilepsy drugs during pregnancy may not harm thinking skills and IQs of children

Two epilepsy drugs, levetiracetam and topiramate, may not harm the thinking skills and IQs of school-age children born to women who took them while pregnant, according to a recent study. The research is published in the August 31, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. However, the drug valproate is associated with lower IQs in children, especially at higher dosages. Valproate, levetiracetam and topiramate are approved by the FDA to treat seizures. Valproate is a commonly prescribed antiepileptic medication, and has been linked to birth defects and developmental problems. Levetiracetam and topiramate are newer drugs, and few studies have looked at their effects on child development and thinking.

How technology is reducing seizures in patients with epilepsy

Via Miami Herald When 29-year-old Krystle Thrasher was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2011, she often had 10 to 15 seizures a month despite taking medication to help control her seizure activity. “After a seizure, I would be tired and just want to go to bed,” said Thrasher, a paralegal who lives in Sunrise with her husband and 9-month-old son. Epilepsy, the fourth most common neurological disorder, is defined by recurrent and unprovoked seizures. Seizure frequency varies depending on the type of seizure disorder, with some patients experiencing several seizures daily while others don’t have seizures for years at a time.

Study reveals mental cost of epilepsy in pregnancy

Pregnant women and new mothers with epilepsy have lower self-esteem and are less satisfied with life than pregnant women and mothers without the condition, according to a new study.* A team from the University of Bergen analysed data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, of over 112,000 women with and without epilepsy from the general population. Investigation took place at pregnancy, weeks 15–19, and 6 and 18 months postpartum. Women with epilepsy were compared with a reference group without epilepsy. The analysis, published in the journal Epilepsy and Behavior, found that 0.6-0.7% of the women had epilepsy at all three assessment points.

Labor induction: No association with autism

Contrary to previous studies, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, finds no association between induction of labor and risk of autism spectrum disorder. The research suggests that “concern for ASD should not factor into the clinical decision about whether to induce labor.” Labor induction – or inducing labor – is a procedure used to start uterine contractions artificially before labor begins of its own accord. There are around 762,000 procedures to induce labor in the United States per year. Healthcare providers may determine that labor induction is necessary for several reasons to protect the health of both the mother and baby. Depending on individual circumstances, labor may be induced with a combination of “sweeping” the amniot...

Women With Epilepsy Can Also Be Mothers

With careful management, most women with epilepsy can safely give birth to a healthy baby. If you or someone you love is a woman with epilepsy, then you may be wondering if motherhood is an option. The good news is that in most cases, the answer is yes. But not everyone is aware of the possibilities. When one of my patients and her husband desired to start a family, they were concerned because her childhood seizures had recently recurred after almost a decade of good control. Now she was having “petit mal” seizures almost every day, causing brief interruptions in her awareness of her surroundings. If Sarah did get pregnant, would her baby be healthy? And if her seizures remained frequent after delivery, would she be able to care for her child?

Prenatal Cannabis Exposure May Affect Kids’ Brain Development

Prenatal exposure to cannabis is significantly associated with differences in cortical thickness, particularly in the frontal brain, in preadolescent children, a new structural MRI study shows. “The current study combined with the existing literature about the long-term consequences of prenatal cannabis and tobacco exposure support the importance of preventing and reducing smoking cannabis and cigarettes during pregnancy,” the authors, led by Hanan El Marroun, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, write. The study was published online June 15 in Biological Psychiatry.

Antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy: Folic acid could help to prevent autism

If pregnant women take antiepileptic drugs, the child can develop autistic traits. The administration of folic acid preparations appears to be a suitable means of preventing this serious side-effect. This finding is suggested by a Norwegian study presented at the Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in Copenhagen. Having a sufficiently high level of folic acid is especially important for pregnant women who have to take antiepileptic drugs. Dr Marte Helene Bjørk from the University of Bergen in Norway had this to say on the subject at the Second Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Copenhagen: “Suitable nutritional supplements could substantially contribute to protecting the child from a possible side-effect of antiepileptic drugs, namely from autism.”...

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