The latest news in the world of pregnancy and parenting has revealed a link between second hand smoke, pregnancy and an increased risk of children developing meningococcal disease. A loss of oxygen whilst in the womb or during birth has been shown to greatly increase the risk of ADHD and may help doctors and researchers identify and treat children who are at greater risk of developing ADHD. A debate has been fueled by a United Nations proposal to ban a Mercury containing vaccine preservative called thimerosal.
Avoid second hand smoke at all costs
A study published in the BMC Journal of Public health found that pregnant women and new parents should avoid being exposed to second hand smoke as it doubles their baby or child’s risk of developing meningococcal disease, which has a mortality rate of 5% and sadly leaves many patients with some form of disability. Children born to mothers that smoke during pregnancy are 3 times more likely to develop the disease than children born into non-smoking households. Further research is required to determine the mechanism explaining how smoking leads to the development of invasive meningococcal disease however a clear relationship has been identified and second hand smoke should be avoided.
A link between loss of oxygen before or during birth and ADHD
Researchers from the Kaiser Permanente department in Southern California have analysed health records of close to 82,000 children. The results of the study show that children exposed to a loss of oxygen in the womb displayed a 16% greater risk of developing ADHD. In contrast children who had a loss of oxygen during birth displayed a 26% greater risk of developing this disorder. The results do not show a clear cause and effect relationship and further research in this area is required.
A vaccine preservative contains Mercury
The vaccine preservative thimerosal contains Mercury and the United Nations has proposed a ban on its use. There is currently much debate over whether this is a realistic proposal given that many developing countries rely on using multi-dose vials to prevent disease despite this form of vaccine containing thimerosal. More developed countries such as the United States are able to avoid the preservative by using single dose vials however this is not a viable option for developing countries where resources are limited and vaccination rates are already very low. The Mercury used in vaccines is called ethyl mercury which is not to be confused with methyl mercury which is known to effect the development of children’s brains when present in the environment. Consequently mixed opinions surround the toxicity of thimerosal. While it appears to be safe, there is something unsettling about the fact that it must be disposed of as hazardous waste due to its mercury content and it is being injected into children in developing countries?