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Best time to conceive due to less stress, low pollution: Health experts

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Representative image.
Representative image. Source : IANS

 Leading gynaecologists and infertility experts across NCR-Delhi have opined that amid the coronavirus pandemic, a host of factors are at play that are advantageous to the couples eager to start a family.

They said remote working is the “best time to conceive” as the couples are now getting enough of a comfortable environment to plan their future, besides facing less stress without the earlier long commuting hours and striking a balance in professional and personal lives.

Dr Akta Bajaj, Senior Consultant-Obstetrics and Gynaecology at New Delhi’s Ujala Cygnus Healthcare Services, said that she has been witnessing a surge in pregnant patients in the last couple of months in her hospital OPDs. The doctor said that these patients were mostly those who faced problems earlier in conceiving because of immense stress.

“Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, mostly couples are confined to the comfort of their homes, experiencing low stress and spending more time together. They are utilising this time for family planning. In our hospital too, we have been seeing a lot of couples who earlier had trouble conceiving, but have conceived in the last three-four months,” Dr Bajaj added.

Dr Manpreet Sodhi, Consultant-Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Paras Hospitals in Gurugram, explained why couples experienced infertility in the pre-COVID times. “If we see the pre-coronavirus times, the couples had no work-life balance… quality time needed to plan pregnancy was not there. So, it was seen that most couples could not plan a baby at the right time because of the tremendous work pressure.”

She added: “Nowadays, they are getting time to strike a balance between work and life as they are mostly at home; so it is a good time for those who were planning a baby for a long time. They can try and conceive at this point of time,” said Dr Sodhi.

Apart from remote working, without the stress of daily commuting, the couples are more relaxed than normal times. Remote working also gives a chance to exercise together — it has been seen that having a ‘buddy’ motivates people better to take up an exercise as a routine.

This model is also very helpful for stress-relieving activities like yoga and meditation. This, in turn, is good for the health of both the partners. It is important to limit work hours from spilling over and affect non-working hours.

New couples can use that time to know each other better – getting at ease with each other is very important for the parents-to-be, said Dr Amita Shah, Senior Consultant and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Columbia Asia Hospital in Palam Vihar.

Dr Sandeep Chadha, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida, felt that this is the ideal time for those wishing to conceive because air quality is at its best. Since there is hardly any pollutant in the air, it is safe for both the mother and her child, he pointed out.

“Women are in a more comfortable environment as they are working from home. When a woman is expecting and gets such a comfortable environment, it is good for her health. Sometimes facing the computer screen for a long time makes them nauseated. They are more relaxed at home and can eat small meals in between. Even other family members are there to take care of her. There is nothing to be frightened about if you are expecting during the pandemic times because coronavirus does not get transmitted to the baby easily. Pregnant women just need to adhere to all COVID-19 guidelines because their immunity levels are low,” said Dr Chadha.

Dr Parul Katiyar, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF, New Delhi, pointed out that since people are eating nutritious diets and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to keep the COVID-19 infection at bay, they are conceiving naturally.

“Staying at home has reduced the intake of junk food and increased intake of quality and home-cooked food and diet, which plays a vital role in fertility. Since most couples are staying and working together, they manage to have a better bonding, which is good not just for interpersonal relationships but also makes it easier for the man to take good care of his wife if she conceives.”

She added: “Mostly, women are concerned about rest and undergoing regular check-ups in case they conceive. They often tend to think that they will not be able to take adequate rest because of the usual hectic lifestyle. Since they are working from home, these factors are eliminated because of the flexible duty hours while working from home,” said Dr Katiyar.

Dr Gauri Agarwal, IVF and Infertility Specialist, and founder of Seeds of Innocence and Genestrings Lab, said she is recommending to married couples to conceive at this point in time because everybody is at home, and the harmony between the couples is much better than before. Even the IVF centres have subsidised their rates because of the prevalent economic slowdown.

“Because of the low economy, the IVF centres are quoting lesser rates for tests to help interested couples. And it’s a great time to enjoy pregnancy also, as the couples can spend most of their time together and stay calm. Speaking of the stress among the couples from the working class, due to various reasons like salary reductions, increased workload, and sitting at home, it is still better than before. We think the equation between the couples is better, as told by most of those who came for tests,” Dr Agarwal added.

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Health

Even mild fatty liver disease may up death risk: Study

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Liver
Liver

In a major study, researchers have found an increased risk of death in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis.

The study, published in the journal Gut, show that mortality increases with disease severity, but even mild fatty liver disease is linked to higher mortality.

Small clinical studies have demonstrated that among patients with NAFLD, advanced liver fibrosis is the most important histological predictor of mortality, but until now, population-level data have been missing from cohorts with liver histology.

“This is the first nationwide cohort study with detailed liver histology data to confirm that NAFLD contributes to an increased risk of all-cause mortality,” said study first author Tracey G Simon from the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is often caused by obesity and affects nearly 25 per cent of the US and European adults. It represents the most common cause of chronic liver disease in Western countries.

For the current results, the research team matched 10,568 individuals with biopsy-confirmed NAFLD to general population controls through Sweden’s comprehensive, nationwide registers.

They found that all stages of NAFLD were associated with excess mortality risk, even early stages of disease.

This risk was driven primarily by deaths from extra-hepatic cancer and cirrhosis, while the risks of cardiovascular mortality or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) mortality were relatively modest.

Patients with NAFLD had a 93 per cent increased risk of all-cause mortality, but the numbers varied with disease severity.

The risk increased progressively from the mildest form of NAFLD (simple steatosis), to non-fibrotic steatohepatitis (NASH), to non-cirrhotic fibrosis and to severe NAFLD with liver cirrhosis.

These findings should be used to develop more targeted interventions designed to reduce mortality, in patients with NAFLD,” Simon said.

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Herd immunity is dangerous and flawed approach: Lancet

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The Truth Behind Herd Immunity. (Photo Courtesy: Pixabay)
The Truth Behind Herd Immunity. (Photo Courtesy: Pixabay)

The idea of using herd immunity approach to manage Covid-19 — by allowing immunity to develop in low-risk populations while protecting the most vulnerable — is “a dangerous fallacy unsupported by the scientific evidence”, say a new letter signed by 80 international researchers.

According to the open letter published in the journal The Lancet, the experts stated that it is critical to act decisively and urgently.

The authors acknowledge that ongoing restrictions have understandably led to widespread demoralisation and diminishing trust among the public and that in the face of the second wave of infection there is renewed interest in so-called natural herd immunity approaches.

They stressed that any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for Covid-19 is flawed.

They explained that uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant ill-health and death across the whole population – with real-world evidence from many countries showing that it is not possible to restrict uncontrolled outbreaks to certain sections of society, and it is practically impossible to isolate large swathes of the population.

Instead, they said that special efforts to protect the most vulnerable are essential, but must go hand-in-hand with multi-pronged population-level strategies.

They also stated that there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 after natural infection, and warned that this waning immunity as a result of natural infection would not end the Covid-19 but instead result in repeated waves of transmission over several years.

They said that this could place vulnerable populations at risk for the indefinite future, as natural infection-based herd immunity strategies would result in recurrent epidemics, as seen with many infectious diseases before mass vaccination.

Instead, the authors call for the suppression of the virus until the population can be vaccinated.

The authors also warn that natural infection-based herd immunity approaches risk impacting the workforce as a whole and overwhelming the ability of healthcare systems to provide acute and routine care.

They noted that “we still do not understand who might suffer from ‘long Covid’, and that herd immunity approaches place an unacceptable burden on healthcare workers, many of whom have died from Covid-19.

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Health

Eating disorders may lead to body dysmorphia: Study

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Overeating
Overeating

Researchers have found that people with eating disorders are 12 times more likely to be preoccupied with perceived flaws in their physical appearance than those without.

According to the researchers, body dysmorphia can result in anxiety, stress and reduced quality of life.

“While sufferers of eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, share similar traits to those with body dysmorphia, research into any correlation between the two is sparse,” said study author Mike Trott from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK.

“Healthcare professionals working with people with body dysmorphia should screen them for eating disorders regularly, as this research shows a strong correlation between the two,” Trott added.

For the study, published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders, the research team surveyed more than 1,600 health club members recruited via social media.

They found the number of people with body dysmorphic disorder – a mental condition marked by obsession with perceived flaws in appearance which are not noticed by others – was 12 times higher among people with suspected eating disorders.

Around 30 per cent of participants had indicated eating disorders, and the researchers noted that 76 per cent of those people also suffered from body dysmorphia.

The paper also found no significant associations between body dysmorphia, sexuality and social media use, although there was association with gender, with women being more likely to show symptoms of body dysmorphia.

“This study provides more evidence of the complex relationship that exists between body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders,” the researchers wrote.

“Furthermore, it is recommended that people working with body dysmorphia should screen for eating disorders due to the high morbidity associated with eating disorders,” they noted.

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Health

Hookah bars banned in Chandigarh

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Hookah
Hookah

The Chandigarh administration on Tuesday imposed a ban on hookah bars, saying they lead to transmission of coronavirus.

An order issued by District Magistrate Mandip Singh Brar said that it has been made to appear that hookah bars are operational in Chandigarh in a clandestine way and they are serving flavoured hookahs, including tobacco molasses containing nicotine, which is highly injurious to health.

Any person violating the order shall be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.

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Health

Kasturba Hospital doctors to go on strike over unpaid salaries

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Chennai: Doctors of government hospitals in Tamil Nadu go on indefinite strike demanding pay parity, in Chennai on Oct 25, 2019. Around 17,000 doctors went on strike affecting thousands of patients in both out- and in- patients department in government hospitals across the state. Besides pay parity with their counterparts in the central government, the doctors are also demanding non-reduction of the number of doctors and time-bound promotion to be implemented. (Photo: IANS)
Chennai: Doctors of government hospitals in Tamil Nadu go on indefinite strike demanding pay parity, in Chennai on Oct 25, 2019. Around 17,000 doctors went on strike affecting thousands of patients in both out- and in- patients department in government hospitals across the state. Besides pay parity with their counterparts in the central government, the doctors are also demanding non-reduction of the number of doctors and time-bound promotion to be implemented. (Photo: IANS)

The Resident Doctors Association of North Delhi Municipal Corporation-run Kasturba Hospital has decided to go on strike from Wednesday for a week over non-payment of salaries and threatened to resign if salaries are not disbursed.

In a letter to the Medical Superintendent, RDA President Sunil Kumar Prasad wrote, “This is for the information that all the resident doctors are going on a total strike for tomorrow onwards due to non-payment of resident doctors’ salaries since July 2020.”

The association added, “We would like to inform you that we will be on strike for the next 7 days or till our all the salaries will be credited. After 20.02.2020, all residents will give mass resignation. Kindly take this letter under consideration since tomorrow onwards all the emergency services will be stopped.”

This came after another civic body-run Hindu Rao Hospital withdrew from work on Sunday after the administration failed to meet the deadline for releasing their salaries. More than 200 resident doctors and 300 nursing staff are on an indefinite strike since October 5.

Both hospitals fall under the jurisdiction of the BJP-led North Delhi Municipal Corporation.

A political slugfest is currently on between Mayor of North MCD, Jai Prakash, and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government over the delay in payment of salaries.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had recently hit out at the BJP for its failure in paying salaries to hospital staff, urging them to hand over the health units to the Delhi government if it is not able to meet the demands. The Mayor, on the other hand, called them out for playing politics on the sensitive issue while keeping the public in the dark.

Speaking to IANS, Kasturba Hospital’s RDA President said that they have been getting irregular salaries from the last four years, but the situation became serious during the Coronavirus pandemic. “The matter has now become a mere political football,” said Dr. Sunil Kumar Prasad.

He added, “If MCD does not have money, they must arrange it from the Centre or Delhi government. Besides this, the hospital should be handed-over to the Delhi government if MCD is not able to pay off the salaries.”

Dr. Prasad rued that crores which were spent to give respect to the corona warriors should have been utilized to pay off their salaries. “We work and salary is our basic right. I also request the government to bring in the salary protection act,” he further said.

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Health

Maternal blood test may predict birth complications: Study

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How to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy
How to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy

A blood test commonly used to detect foetal genetic abnormalities may help predict complications associated with pregnancy before symptoms develop, say researchers, including one of Indian-origin.

The study, published in the journal Epigenetics, links certain cell-free DNA signatures to adverse outcomes in pregnancy, including ischemic placental disease and gestational diabetes.

The findings are the first to show that genetic material shed from the placenta into the mother’s blood (circulating cell-free nucleic acids) during the first trimester of pregnancy could potentially be used to predict these potentially serious complications.

Although the analysis of genetic material in the mother’s blood has been used to screen for genetic abnormalities in a pregnancy, this is the first time these specific methods have been used as a way of a more accurate prediction.

“Our research points to a promising approach that could improve outcomes for mothers and their babies using existing technologies,” said study lead author Sherin Devaskar from the University of California, Los Angeles in the US.

“If confirmed in larger studies, cell-free DNA blood tests may help identify issues in the placenta as an indicator of a healthy mother and foetus,” Devaskar added.

For the study, the researchers followed a diverse group of pregnant women between February 2017 and January 2019, testing their blood periodically throughout gestation.

By the end of the study, 160 participants had given birth, with 102 maternal and 25 cord plasma samples were taken along the way.

They found that during the first-to-early second trimester, placenta-specific DNA increased among those women who went on to develop gestational diabetes.

They also identified several differentially expressed genes and were able to create a model with a predictive value for adverse pregnancy outcomes.

“The novelty of this research is being able to break down a mother’s DNA and be able to hone in on the health of the placenta – something that researchers have never been able to do before,” said Devaskar.

“This research warrants application of automated methodologies in multi-centre trials to improve future testing and screening for all women,” she noted.

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