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Vol. LXVII, No. 17
August 14, 2015
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Digest

Many New Moms Report No Physician Advice On Infant Sleep Position, Breastfeeding

Infants should be placed to sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm sleep surface, such as on a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet. Soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters and loose bedding should be kept out of the baby’s sleep area.

Infants should be placed to sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm sleep surface, such as on a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet. Soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters and loose bedding should be kept out of the baby’s sleep area.

Photo: Safe to Sleep Campaign

Many new mothers do not receive advice from physicians on aspects of infant care such as sleep position, breastfeeding, immunization and pacifier use, according to a study funded by NIH.

Health care practitioner groups have issued recommendations and guidelines on all these aspects of infant care, based on research that has found that certain practices can prevent disease and even save lives.

The study authors surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 new mothers, inquiring about infant care advice they received from doctors, nurses, family members and the news media.

Roughly 20 percent of mothers said they did not receive advice from their doctors regarding current recommendations on breastfeeding or on placing infants to sleep on their backs—a practice long proven to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. More than 50 percent of mothers reported they received no advice on where their infants should sleep. Room-sharing with parents—but not bed-sharing—is the recommended practice for safe infant sleep.

The study appeared in Pediatrics and was conducted by researchers at Boston Medical Center, Boston University and Yale University.

Gene Variant Linked to Compulsive Drinking

Carrying a gene variant that affects the release of a specific brain protein may put one at greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, according to the results of a recent animal study. The study, published in Biological Psychiatry, was funded by NIAAA.

Scientists found that mice carrying the Met68BDNF gene variant, which reduces the release of brain-derived neurotrophic (BDNF) factor, would consume excessive amounts of alcohol, despite negative consequences. BDNF plays a role in the survival of existing neurons and the growth of new neurons and synapses, the junctures through which cell-to-cell communication occurs. The human form of this gene variant, Met66BDNF, leads to a reduction in the normal function of BDNF in the brain and is associated with several psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and depression.

In an animal study reported earlier this year, NIAAA-supported scientists found that adolescent binge drinking was linked to lower levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor; these changes persisted into adulthood.

“Genetic factors play a role in determining who develops alcohol problems,” said Dr. George Koob, NIAAA director. “By understanding the genetic underpinnings of alcohol use disorder, we will be better able to develop targeted treatment and prevention strategies.”

Alcohol use disorder affects about 16.6 million adults in the United States. Knowing whether patients carry a gene that results in decreased BDNF function could help in tailoring alcohol prevention and treatment strategies in the future.

HIV Control Through Treatment Durably Prevents Heterosexual Transmission of Virus

Antiretroviral treatment that consistently suppresses HIV is highly effective at preventing sexual transmission of the virus in heterosexual couples where one person is HIV-infected and the other is not, investigators reported at the 8th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment & Prevention in Vancouver. The finding comes from the decade-long HPTN 052 clinical trial funded primarily by NIAID and conducted by the NIH-funded HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).

In 2011, HPTN 052 study investigators reported a breakthrough: Starting HIV treatment early, when the immune system is relatively healthy, reduced the risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an uninfected partner by 96 percent over 18 months. Based on additional data gathered since 2011, the recent finding unequivocally demonstrates the enduring power of HIV-controlling antiretroviral therapy to greatly reduce sexual transmission of the virus.

“The study now makes crystal clear that when an HIV-infected person takes antiretroviral therapy that keeps the virus suppressed, the treatment is highly effective at preventing sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected heterosexual partner,” said NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci. “For heterosexuals who can achieve and maintain viral suppression, the risk to their partners is exceedingly low.”


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