Recent declines in the provision of prenatal care by family physicians and the integration of midwives into the Canadian health care system have led to a shift in the pattern of prenatal care provision; however it is unknown if this also impacts use of other health services during pregnancy. This study aimed to assess the impact of the type of prenatal care provider on the self-reported use of ancillary services during pregnancy.
Data for this study was obtained from the All Our Babies study, a community-based prospective cohort study of women’s experiences during pregnancy and the post-partum period. Chi-square tests and logistic regression were used to assess the association between type of prenatal care provider and use of ancillary health services in pregnancy.
During pregnancy, 85.8% of women reported accessing ancillary health services. Compared to women who received prenatal care from a family physician, women who saw a midwife were less likely to call a nurse telephone advice line (OR = 0.30, 95% CI: 0.18-0.50) and visit the emergency department (OR = 0.47, 95% CI: 0.24-0.89), but were more likely receive chiropractic care (OR = 4.07, 95% CI: 2.49-6.67). Women who received their prenatal care from an obstetrician were more likely to visit a walk-in clinic (OR = 1.51, 95% CI: 1.11-2.05) than those who were cared for by a family physician.
Prenatal care is a complex entity and referral pathways between care providers and services are not always clear. This can lead to the provision of fragmented care and create opportunities for errors and loss of information. All types of care providers have a role in addressing the full range of health needs that pregnant women experience.
Physician practice patterns; Pregnancy; Health services research
This study sought to understand the central meaning of the experience of group prenatal care for physicians who were involved in providing CenteringPregnancy through a maternity clinic in Calgary, Canada.
The study followed the phenomenological qualitative tradition. Three physicians involved in group prenatal care participated in a one-on-one interview between November and December 2009. Two physicians participated in verification sessions. Interviews followed an open ended general guide and were audio recorded and transcribed. The purpose of the analysis was to identify meaning themes and the core meaning experienced by the physicians.
Six themes emerged: (1) having a greater exchange of information, (2) getting to knowing, (3) seeing women get to know and support each other, (4) sharing ownership of care, (5) having more time, and (6) experiencing enjoyment and satisfaction in providing care. These themes contributed to the core meaning for physicians of “providing richer care.”
Physicians perceived providing better care and a better professional experience through CenteringPregnancy compared to their experience of individual prenatal care. Thus, CenteringPregnancy could improve work place satisfaction, increase retention of providers in maternity care, and improve health care for women.
The prospective cohort study design is ideal for examining diseases of public health importance, as its inherent temporal nature renders it advantageous for studying early life influences on health outcomes and research questions of aetiological significance. This paper will describe the development and characteristics of the All Our Babies (AOB) study, a prospective pregnancy cohort in Calgary, Alberta, Canada designed to examine determinants of maternal, infant, and child outcomes and identify barriers and facilitators in health care utilization.
Women were recruited from health care offices, communities, and through Calgary Laboratory Services before 25 weeks gestation from May 2008 to December 2010. Participants completed two questionnaires during pregnancy, a third at 4 months postpartum, and are currently being followed-up with questionnaires at 12, 24, and 36 months. Data was collected on pregnancy history, demographics, lifestyle, health care utilization, physical and mental health, parenting, and child developmental outcomes and milestones. In addition, biological/serological and genetic markers can be extracted from collected maternal and cord blood samples.
A total of 4011 pregnant women were eligible for recruitment into the AOB study. Of this, 3388 women completed at least one survey. The majority of participants were less than 35 years of age, Caucasian, Canadian born, married or in a common-law relationship, well-educated, and reported household incomes above the Calgary median. Women who discontinued after the first survey (n=123) were typically younger, non-Caucasian, foreign-born, had lower education and household income levels, were less likely to be married or in a common-law relationship, and had poor psychosocial health in early pregnancy. In general, AOB participants reflect the pregnant and parenting population at local and provincial levels, and perinatal indicators from the study are comparable to perinatal surveillance data.
The extensive and rich data collected in the AOB cohort provides the opportunity to answer complex questions about the relationships between biology, early experiences, and developmental outcomes. This cohort will contribute to the understanding of the biologic mechanisms and social/environmental pathways underlying associations between early and later life outcomes, gene-environment interactions, and developmental trajectories among children.
There is significant evidence to support the importance of prenatal care in preventing adverse outcomes such as preterm birth and low infant birth weight. Previous studies have indicated that the benefits of prenatal care are not evenly distributed throughout the social strata. In addition, emerging evidence suggests that among particular populations, rates of preterm birth are unchanged or increasing. This suggests that an alternate care model is necessary, one that seeks to addresses some of the myriad of social factors that also contribute to adverse birth outcomes. In previous studies, the group prenatal care model CenteringPregnancy® had been shown to reduce adverse birth outcomes, but to date, no comparison had been made with a model that included prenatal education. This study sought to investigate whether any significant difference remained within the comparison groups when both models accounted for social factors.
This analysis was based on survey data collected from a prospective cohort of pregnant women through the All Our Babies Study in Calgary, Alberta.
At baseline, there were significant differences between the comparison groups in their psychosocial health, with the women in the CenteringPregnancy® group scoring higher levels of depressive symptoms, stress and anxiety. At four months postpartum, the differences between the groups were no longer significant. Conclusions: These results suggest that CenteringPregnancy® can recruit and retain a demographically vulnerable group of women with a constellation of risk factors for poor pregnancy and birth outcomes, including poverty, language barriers and poor mental health. Post program, the rates of stress, anxiety and depression were similar to other women with more social and financial advantage. These findings suggest that CenteringPregnancy® may be a community based care strategy that contributes to improved mental health, knowledge, and behaviours to optimize outcomes for mothers and children.
Maternal report of events that occur during labour and delivery are used extensively in epidemiological research; however, the validity of these data are rarely confirmed. This study aimed to validate maternal self-report of events that occurred in labour and delivery with data found in electronic health records in a Canadian setting.
Data from the All Our Babies study, a prospective community-based cohort of women’s experiences during pregnancy, were linked to electronic health records to assess the validity of maternal recall at four months post-partum of events that occurred during labour and delivery. Sensitivity, specificity and kappa scores were calculated. Results were stratified by maternal age, gravidity and educational attainment.
Maternal recall at four months post-partum was excellent for infant characteristics (gender, birth weight, gestational age, multiple births) and variables related to labour and delivery (mode of delivery, epidural, labour induction) (sensitivity and specificity >85%). Women who had completed a university degree had significantly better recall of labour induction and use of an epidural.
Maternal recall of infant characteristics and events that occurred during labour and delivery is excellent at four months post-partum and is a valid source of information for research purposes.
Postpartum depression is a serious problem for women and their offspring. Micronutrient supplements are recommended for pregnant women because of their documented protective effects for the offspring, but their potential beneficial effects on maternal mental health are unknown. This study investigated the association between prenatal micronutrient supplementation and the risk for symptoms of postpartum depression in a longitudinal pregnancy cohort from the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) study.
Participants came from a cohort of the first 600 APrON women. Supplemental nutrient intake and symptoms of depression (measured with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)) were collected at each trimester and 12 weeks postpartum.
Of the 475 participants who completed the EPDS at least twice in pregnancy and at 12 weeks postpartum, 416 (88%) scored <10 and 59 (12%) scored ≥10, where an EPDS ≥10 is considered to be “at least probable minor depression”. Mean nutrient intakes from supplements were higher in women with lower EPDS scores, particularly selenium (p = 0.0015) and omega-3s (p = 0.01). Bivariate analyses showed that several demographic and social/lifestyle variables were associated with EPDS ≥10: not having been born in Canada (p = 0.01), greater number of chronic conditions (p = 0.05), greater number of stressful life events during this pregnancy (p = 0.02), and lower prenatal and postnatal support (p = 0.0043 and p = 0.0001, respectively). Adjusting for covariates and nutrients known to be associated with postpartum depression, logistic regression showed that having a prenatal EPDS ≥ 10 increased the odds of postpartum depressive symptoms (second and third trimester OR = 3.29, 95% CI = 1.55 - 7.01, p = 0.004 and OR = 4.26, 95% CI = 2.05 - 8.85, p < 0.0001, respectively), while prenatal supplemental selenium (per 10 mcg, OR = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.74 - 0.78, p = 0.0019) and postnatal social support (OR = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.78 - 0.97, p = 0.0015) were protective.
Multiple factors, including supplementary selenium intake, are associated with the risk of postpartum depressive symptoms. Future research on dietary supplementation in pregnancy with special attention to selenium intake is warranted.
Postpartum depression; Dietary supplements; Selenium; Omega-3
Research has shown that exposure to interpersonal violence is associated with poorer mental health outcomes. Understanding the impact of interpersonal violence on mental health in the early postpartum period has important implications for parenting, child development, and delivery of health services. The objective of the present study was to determine the impact of interpersonal violence on depression, anxiety, stress, and parenting morale in the early postpartum.
Women participating in a community-based prospective cohort study (n = 1319) completed questionnaires prior to 25 weeks gestation, between 34–36 weeks gestation, and at 4 months postpartum. Women were asked about current and past abuse at the late pregnancy data collection time point. Postpartum depression, anxiety, stress, and parenting morale were assessed at 4 months postpartum using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the Spielberger State Anxiety Index, the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale, and the Parenting Morale Index, respectively. The relationship between interpersonal violence and postpartum psychosocial health status was examined using Chi-square analysis (p < 0.05) and multivariable logistic regression.
Approximately 30% of women reported one or more experience of interpersonal violence. Sixteen percent of women reported exposure to child maltreatment, 12% reported intimate partner violence, and 12% reported other abuse. Multivariable logistic regression analysis found that a history of child maltreatment had an independent effect on depression in the postpartum, while both child maltreatment and intimate partner violence were associated with low parenting morale. Interpersonal violence did not have an independent effect on anxiety or stress in the postpartum.
The most robust relationships were seen for the influence of child maltreatment on postpartum depression and low parenting morale. By identifying women at risk for depression and low parenting morale, screening and treatment in the prenatal period could have far-reaching effects on postpartum mental health thus benefiting new mothers and their families in the long term.
Interpersonal violence; Pregnancy cohort; Postpartum mental health; Parenting morale
Advanced maternal age (AMA) is associated with several adverse pregnancy outcomes, hence these pregnancies are considered to be “high risk.” A review of the empirical literature suggests that it is not clear how women of AMA evaluate their pregnancy risk. This study aimed to address this gap by exploring the risk perception of pregnant women of AMA.
A qualitative descriptive study was undertaken to obtain a rich and detailed source of explanatory data regarding perceived pregnancy risk of 15 women of AMA. The sample was recruited from a variety of settings in Winnipeg, Canada. In-depth interviews were conducted with nulliparous women aged 35 years or older, in their third trimester, and with singleton pregnancies. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim, and content analysis was used to identify themes and categories.
Four main themes emerged: definition of pregnancy risk, factors influencing risk perception, risk alleviation strategies, and risk communication with health professionals.
Several factors may influence women's perception of pregnancy risk including medical risk, psychological elements, characteristics of the risk, stage of pregnancy, and health care provider’s opinion. Understanding these influential factors may help health professionals who care for pregnant women of AMA to gain insight into their perspectives on pregnancy risk and improve the effectiveness of risk communication strategies with this group.
Advanced maternal age; Risk perception; Qualitative study
Much attention has been given to the adequacy of prenatal care use in promoting healthy outcomes for women and their infants. Adequacy of use takes into account the timing of initiation of prenatal care and the number of visits. However, there is emerging evidence that the quality of prenatal care may be more important than adequacy of use. The purpose of our study was to explore women's and care providers' perspectives of quality prenatal care to inform the development of items for a new instrument, the Quality of Prenatal Care Questionnaire. We report on the derivation of themes resulting from this first step of questionnaire development.
A qualitative descriptive approach was used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 40 pregnant women and 40 prenatal care providers recruited from five urban centres across Canada. Data were analyzed using inductive open and then pattern coding. The final step of analysis used a deductive approach to assign the emergent themes to broader categories reflective of the study's conceptual framework.
The three main categories informed by Donabedian's model of quality health care were structure of care, clinical care processes, and interpersonal care processes. Structure of care themes included access, physical setting, and staff and care provider characteristics. Themes under clinical care processes were health promotion and illness prevention, screening and assessment, information sharing, continuity of care, non-medicalization of pregnancy, and women-centredness. Interpersonal care processes themes were respectful attitude, emotional support, approachable interaction style, and taking time. A recurrent theme woven throughout the data reflected the importance of a meaningful relationship between a woman and her prenatal care provider that was characterized by trust.
While certain aspects of structure of care were identified as being key dimensions of quality prenatal care, clinical and interpersonal care processes emerged as being most essential to quality care. These processes are important as they have a role in mitigating adverse outcomes, promoting involvement of women in their own care, and keeping women engaged in care. The findings suggest key considerations for the planning, delivery, and evaluation of prenatal care. Most notably, care should be woman-centred and embrace shared decision making as an essential element.
Pregnant women in Canada have traditionally received prenatal care individually from their physicians, with some women attending prenatal education classes. Group prenatal care is a departure from these practices providing a forum for women to experience medical care and child birth education simultaneously and in a group setting. Although other qualitative studies have described the experience of group prenatal care, this is the first which sought to understand the central meaning or core of the experience. The purpose of this study was to understand the central meaning of the experience of group prenatal care for women who participated in CenteringPregnancy through a maternity clinic in Calgary, Canada.
The study used a phenomenological approach. Twelve women participated postpartum in a one-on-one interview and/or a group validation session between June 2009 and July 2010.
Six themes emerged: (1) "getting more in one place at one time"; (2) "feeling supported"; (3) "learning and gaining meaningful information"; (4) "not feeling alone in the experience"; (5) "connecting"; and (6) "actively participating and taking on ownership of care". These themes contributed to the core phenomenon of women "getting more than they realized they needed". The active sharing among those in the group allowed women to have both their known and subconscious needs met.
Women's experience of group prenatal care reflected strong elements of social support in that women had different types of needs met and felt supported. The findings also broadened the understanding of some aspects of social support beyond current theories. In a contemporary North American society, the results of this study indicate that women gain from group prenatal care in terms of empowerment, efficiency, social support and education in ways not routinely available through individual care. This model of care could play a key role in addressing women's needs and improving health outcomes.
Canada; Prenatal care; Pregnant women; Women's health; Social support
Over the past 10 years, there has been a significant increase in the use of assisted reproductive technologies in Canada, however, little is known about the overall prevalence of infertility in the population. The purpose of the present study was to estimate the prevalence of current infertility in Canada according to three definitions of the risk of conception.
Data from the infertility component of the 2009–2010 Canadian Community Health Survey were analyzed for married and common-law couples with a female partner aged 18–44. The three definitions of the risk of conception were derived sequentially starting with birth control use in the previous 12 months, adding reported sexual intercourse in the previous 12 months, then pregnancy intent. Prevalence and odds ratios of current infertility were estimated by selected characteristics.
Estimates of the prevalence of current infertility ranged from 11.5% (95% CI 10.2, 12.9) to 15.7% (95% CI 14.2, 17.4). Each estimate represented an increase in current infertility prevalence in Canada when compared with previous national estimates. Couples with lower parity (0 or 1 child) had significantly higher odds of experiencing current infertility when the female partner was aged 35–44 years versus 18–34 years. Lower odds of experiencing current infertility were observed for multiparous couples regardless of age group of the female partner, when compared with nulliparous couples.
The present study suggests that the prevalence of current infertility has increased since the last time it was measured in Canada, and is associated with the age of the female partner and parity.
prevalence; infertility; epidemiology; risk factors
High rates of antenatal depression and preterm birth have been reported in Pakistan. Self reported maternal stress and depression have been associated with preterm birth; however findings are inconsistent. Cortisol is a biological marker of stress and depression, and its measurement may assist in understanding the influence of self reported maternal stress and depression on preterm birth.
In a prospective cohort study pregnant women between 28 to 30 weeks of gestation from the Aga Khan Hospital for Women and Children completed the A-Z Stress Scale and the Centre for Epidemiology Studies Depression Scale to assess stress and depression respectively, and had a blood cortisol level drawn. Women were followed up after delivery to determine birth outcomes. Correlation coefficients and Wilcoxon rank sum test was used to assess relationship between preterm birth, stress, depression and cortisol. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the key factors predictive of preterm birth.
132 pregnant women participated of whom 125 pregnant women had both questionnaire and cortisol level data and an additional seven had questionnaire data only. Almost 20% of pregnant women (19·7%, 95% CI 13·3-27·5) experienced a high level of stress and nearly twice as many (40·9%, 95% CI 32·4-49·8%) experienced depressive symptoms. The median of cortisol level was 27·40 ug/dl (IQR 22·5-34·2). The preterm birth rate was 11·4% (95% CI 6·5-18). There was no relationship between cortisol values and stress scale or depression. There was a significant positive relationship between maternal depression and stress. Preterm birth was associated with higher parity, past delivery of a male infant, and higher levels of paternal education. Insufficient numbers of preterm births were available to warrant the development of a multivariable logistic regression model.
Preterm birth was associated with higher parity, past delivery of a male infant, and higher levels of paternal education. There was no relationship between stress, and depression, cortisol and preterm birth. There were high rates of stress and depression among this sample suggesting that there are missed opportunities to address mental health needs in the prenatal period. Improved methods of measurement are required to better understand the psychobiological basis of preterm birth.
Modern diets have been suggested to increase systemic acid load and net acid excretion. In response, alkaline diets and products are marketed to avoid or counteract this acid, help the body regulate its pH to prevent and cure disease. The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate causal relationships between dietary acid load and osteoporosis using Hill's criteria.
Systematic review and meta-analysis. We systematically searched published literature for randomized intervention trials, prospective cohort studies, and meta-analyses of the acid-ash or acid-base diet hypothesis with bone-related outcomes, in which the diet acid load was altered, or an alkaline diet or alkaline salts were provided, to healthy human adults. Cellular mechanism studies were also systematically examined.
Fifty-five of 238 studies met the inclusion criteria: 22 randomized interventions, 2 meta-analyses, and 11 prospective observational studies of bone health outcomes including: urine calcium excretion, calcium balance or retention, changes of bone mineral density, or fractures, among healthy adults in which acid and/or alkaline intakes were manipulated or observed through foods or supplements; and 19 in vitro cell studies which examined the hypothesized mechanism. Urine calcium excretion rates were consistent with osteoporosis development; however calcium balance studies did not demonstrate loss of whole body calcium with higher net acid excretion. Several weaknesses regarding the acid-ash hypothesis were uncovered: No intervention studies provided direct evidence of osteoporosis progression (fragility fractures, or bone strength as measured using biopsy). The supporting prospective cohort studies were not controlled regarding important osteoporosis risk factors including: weight loss during follow-up, family history of osteoporosis, baseline bone mineral density, and estrogen status. No study revealed a biologic mechanism functioning at physiological pH. Finally, randomized studies did not provide evidence for an adverse role of phosphate, milk, and grain foods in osteoporosis.
A causal association between dietary acid load and osteoporotic bone disease is not supported by evidence and there is no evidence that an alkaline diet is protective of bone health.
Preterm birth is the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality. Risk factors for preterm birth include a personal or familial history of preterm delivery, ethnicity and low socioeconomic status yet the ability to predict preterm delivery before the onset of preterm labour evades clinical practice. Evidence suggests that genetics may play a role in the multi-factorial pathophysiology of preterm birth. The All Our Babies Study is an on-going community based longitudinal cohort study that was designed to establish a cohort of women to investigate how a women's genetics and environment contribute to the pathophysiology of preterm birth. Specifically this study will examine the predictive potential of maternal leukocytes for predicting preterm birth in non-labouring women through the examination of gene expression profiles and gene-environment interactions.
Collaborations have been established between clinical lab services, the provincial health service provider and researchers to create an interdisciplinary study design for the All Our Babies Study. A birth cohort of 2000 women has been established to address this research question. Women provide informed consent for blood sample collection, linkage to medical records and complete questionnaires related to prenatal health, service utilization, social support, emotional and physical health, demographics, and breast and infant feeding. Maternal blood samples are collected in PAXgene™ RNA tubes between 18-22 and 28-32 weeks gestation for transcriptomic analyses.
The All Our Babies Study is an example of how investment in clinical-academic-community partnerships can improve research efficiency and accelerate the recruitment and data collection phases of a study. Establishing these partnerships during the study design phase and maintaining these relationships through the duration of the study provides the unique opportunity to investigate the multi-causal factors of preterm birth. The overall All Our Babies Study results can potentially lead to healthier pregnancies, mothers, infants and children.
The development of preschool children of Aboriginal heritage is jeopardized by the inter-generational transmission of risk that has created, and continues to create, social disadvantage. Early intervention programs are intended to mitigate the impact of social disadvantage. Yet, evidence of the effectiveness of these programs for children of Aboriginal heritage is limited. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a two-generation, multi-cultural preschool program on 45 children of Aboriginal heritage and their caregivers. We used a single-group, pretest (program intake)/posttest (program exit) design with follow-up when the children were 7 years old. We used an observational measure of child receptive language (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test–III) and caregiver-reported measures of child development (Nipissing District Developmental Screen), risk for child maltreatment (Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory; AAPI), parenting stress (Parenting Stress Index; PSI), self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale; RSE), and life skills (Community Life Skills scale; CLS). Using paired t-tests we found statistically significant increases in child receptive language scores between intake and exit, and repeated-measures ANOVA showed that these improvements were maintained up to age 7 years. For caregivers, Pearson’s correlations demonstrated that risk for child maltreatment, parenting stress, self-esteem, and life skills were stable over time. Results of this study suggest that children of Aboriginal heritage can benefit from participation in a two-generation, multi-cultural preschool program. Their caregivers may have received greater benefit if issues of intergenerational transmission of the negative influences of residential schools were addressed as part of programming.
Aboriginal; Preschool children; Parents; Intervention studies; Poverty
The acid-ash hypothesis, the alkaline diet, and related products are marketed to the general public. Websites, lay literature, and direct mail marketing encourage people to measure their urine pH to assess their health status and their risk of osteoporosis.
The objectives of this study were to determine whether 1) low urine pH, or 2) acid excretion in urine [sulfate + chloride + 1.8x phosphate + organic acids] minus [sodium + potassium + 2x calcium + 2x magnesium mEq] in fasting morning urine predict: a) fragility fractures; and b) five-year change of bone mineral density (BMD) in adults.
Design: Cohort study: the prospective population-based Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine associations between acid excretion (urine pH and urine acid excretion) in fasting morning with the incidence of fractures (6804 person years). Multiple linear regression was used to examine associations between acid excretion with changes in BMD over 5-years at three sites: lumbar spine, femoral neck, and total hip (n = 651). Potential confounders controlled included: age, gender, family history of osteoporosis, physical activity, smoking, calcium intake, vitamin D status, estrogen status, medications, renal function, urine creatinine, body mass index, and change of body mass index.
There were no associations between either urine pH or acid excretion and either the incidence of fractures or change of BMD after adjustment for confounders.
Urine pH and urine acid excretion do not predict osteoporosis risk.
Parental knowledge of child development has been associated with more effective parenting strategies and better child outcomes. However, little is known about what adults who interact with children under the age of 14 years know about child development.
Between September 2007 and March 2008, computer assisted telephone interviews were completed with 1443 randomly selected adults. Adults were eligible if they had interacted with a child less than 14 years of age in the past six months and lived in Alberta, Canada.
Sixty three percent of respondents answered two (or more) out of four questions on physical development correctly. Fifteen percent of respondents answered two (or more) out of three questions on cognitive development correctly. Seven percent of respondents answered three (or more) out of five questions on social development correctly. Two percent of respondents answered three (or more) out of five questions on emotional development correctly. Parents and females were better able to identify physical developmental milestones compared to non-parents and males. 81% of adults correctly responded that a child's experience in the first year of life has an important impact on later school performance, 70% correctly responded that a child's ability to learn is not set from birth, 50% of adults correctly responded that children learn more from hearing someone speak than from television, and 45% recognized that parents' emotional closeness with a baby influences later achievement. Parents were most likely to use doctors/paediatricians, books, and nurses as resources. Among parents, there was no relationship between knowledge and parenting morale.
The majority of adults were unable to correctly answer questions related to when children under six years of age typically achieve developmental milestones. Knowledge of physical development exceeded knowledge about cognitive, emotional and social development. Adults were aware of the importance of positive experiences in influencing children's development. Strategies to improve awareness of developmental milestones combined with information on how to support optimal development may improve child development outcomes. Given that parents seek information about child development from health care providers there is an opportunity to ensure that providers are well informed about child development.
Children at highest risk of developmental problems benefit from early identification and intervention. Investigating factors affecting child development at the time of transition to school may reveal opportunities to tailor early intervention programs for the greatest effectiveness, social benefit and economic gain. The primary objective of this study was to identify child and maternal factors associated with children who screened at risk of developmental problems at school entry.
An existing cohort of 791 mothers who had been followed since early pregnancy was mailed a questionnaire when the children were aged four to six years. The questionnaire included a screening tool for developmental problems, an assessment of the child's social competence, health care utilization and referrals, and maternal factors, including physical health, mental health, social support, parenting morale and sense of competence, and parenting support/resources.
Of the 491 mothers (62%) who responded, 15% had children who were screened at high risk of developmental problems. Based on a logistic regression model, independent predictors of screening at high risk for developmental problems at age 5 were male gender (OR: 2.3; 95% CI: 1.3, 4.1), maternal history of abuse at pregnancy (OR: 2.4; 95% CI: 1.3, 4.4), and poor parenting morale when the child was 3 years old (OR: 3.9; 95% CI: 2.1, 7.3). A child with all of these risk factors had a 35% predicted probability of screening at high risk of developmental problems, which was reduced to 13% if maternal factors were favourable.
Risk factors for developmental problems at school entry are related to maternal well being and history of abuse, which can be identified in the prenatal period or when children are preschool age.
The acid-ash hypothesis posits that increased excretion of "acidic" ions derived from the diet, such as phosphate, contributes to net acidic ion excretion, urine calcium excretion, demineralization of bone, and osteoporosis. The public is advised by various media to follow an alkaline diet to lower their acidic ion intakes. The objectives of this meta-analysis were to quantify the contribution of phosphate to bone loss in healthy adult subjects; specifically, a) to assess the effect of supplemental dietary phosphate on urine calcium, calcium balance, and markers of bone metabolism; and to assess whether these affects are altered by the b) level of calcium intake, c) the degree of protonation of the phosphate.
Literature was identified through computerized searches regarding phosphate with surrogate and/or direct markers of bone health, and was assessed for methodological quality. Multiple linear regression analyses, weighted for sample size, were used to combine the study results. Tests of interaction included stratification by calcium intake and degree of protonation of the phosphate supplement.
Twelve studies including 30 intervention arms manipulated 269 subjects' phosphate intakes. Three studies reported net acid excretion. All of the meta-analyses demonstrated significant decreases in urine calcium excretion in response to phosphate supplements whether the calcium intake was high or low, regardless of the degree of protonation of the phosphate supplement. None of the meta-analyses revealed lower calcium balance in response to increased phosphate intakes, whether the calcium intake was high or low, or the composition of the phosphate supplement.
All of the findings from this meta-analysis were contrary to the acid ash hypothesis. Higher phosphate intakes were associated with decreased urine calcium and increased calcium retention. This meta-analysis did not find evidence that phosphate intake contributes to demineralization of bone or to bone calcium excretion in the urine. Dietary advice that dairy products, meats, and grains are detrimental to bone health due to "acidic" phosphate content needs reassessment. There is no evidence that higher phosphate intakes are detrimental to bone health.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is one of the most common preventable causes of developmental disability and is currently one of the most pressing public health concerns in Canada. FASD refers to the range of physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities that an individual may acquire as a result of maternal alcohol consumption. Prenatal exposure to alcohol leads to numerous primary and secondary disabilities in affected children, which can result in poor long-term outcomes. The present paper reviews previous research on the neurobehavioural outcomes of children with FASD, particularly in terms of behavioural, mental health and adaptive outcomes. The role of risk and protective factors on these outcomes and the impact of FASD on the family are also examined. Finally, future directions and implications regarding outcomes research among children with FASD, particularly within a Canadian context, are discussed.
Children; Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; Neurobehavioural; Outcome
Undetected and untreated developmental problems can have a significant economic and social impact on society. Intervention to ameliorate potential developmental problems requires early identification of children at risk of future learning and behaviour difficulties. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of risk for developmental problems among preschool children born to medically low risk women and identify factors that influence outcomes.
Mothers who had participated in a prenatal trial were followed up three years post partum to answer a telephone questionnaire. Questions were related to child health and development, child care, medical care, mother's lifestyle, well-being, and parenting style. The main outcome measure was risk for developmental problems using the Parents' Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS).
Of 791 children, 11% were screened by the PEDS to be at high risk for developmental problems at age three. Of these, 43% had previously been referred for assessment. Children most likely to have been referred were those born preterm. Risk factors for delay included: male gender, history of ear infections, a low income environment, and a mother with poor emotional health and a history of abuse. A child with these risk factors was predicted to have a 53% chance of screening at high risk for developmental problems. This predicted probability was reduced to 19% if the child had a mother with good emotional health and no history of abuse.
Over 10% of children were identified as high risk for developmental problems by the screening, and more than half of those had not received a specialist referral. Risk factors for problems included prenatal and perinatal maternal and child factors. Assessment of maternal health and effective screening of child development may increase detection of children at high risk who would benefit from early intervention.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN64070727
Challenges to retention in prenatal care seem to exist under both universal systems of care, as in Canada, and non-universal systems of care, as in the United States. However, among populations being served by a system of publicly funded health care, the barriers are less well understood and universal uptake of prenatal services has not been realized. Determining the characteristics of women who dropped out of a prenatal care randomized controlled trial can help identify those who may need alternate retention and service approaches.
In this study, pregnant women were randomized to: a) current standard of care; b) 'a' plus nursing support; or c) 'b' plus a paraprofessional home visitor. 16% of 2,015 women did not complete all three telephone interviews (197 dropped out and 124 became unreachable). Responders were compared to non-responders on demographics, lifestyle, psychosocial factors, and life events using chi-squared tests. Logistic regression models were constructed using stepwise logistic regression to determine the probability of not completing the prenatal program.
Completion rates did not differ by intervention. In comparison to responders, non-responders were more likely to be younger, less educated, have lower incomes, smoke, have low social support, have a history of depression, and have separated or divorced parents (all p < 0.05). Unreachable women were more likely to be single, use drugs, report distress and adverse life events (all p < 0.05). Non-Caucasian women were more likely to drop out (p = 0.002). Logistic regression modeling indicated that independent key risk factors for dropping out were: less than high school education, separated or divorced parents, lower social support, and being non-Caucasian. Pregnant women who were single/separated/divorced, less than 25 years old, had less than high school education, earned less than $40,000 in annual household income, and/or smoked had greater odds of becoming unreachable at some point during pregnancy and not completing the study.
Women at risk due to lifestyle and challenging circumstances were difficult to retain in a prenatal care study, regardless of the intervention. For women with complex health, lifestyle and social issues, lack of retention may reflect incongruence between their needs and the program.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN64070727
Purpose: To compare outcomes in patients with unexplained infertility undergoing conventional in vitro fertilization (IVF) versus intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Methods: Sixty women with unexplained infertility in a Canadian tertiary-level clinic were randomized to IVF or ICSI. Subjects underwent downregulation with gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist prior to initiation of recombinant human follicle-stimulating hormone. The primary outcome measure was fertilization rate. Secondary outcomes included implantation rate, embryo quality, clinical pregnancy rate, and live birth rate.
Results: There was no statistically significant difference in fertilization rate (77.2% IVF vs. 82.4% ICSI), implantation rate (38.2% IVF vs. 44.4% ICSI), clinical pregnancy rate (50% in each group), or live birth rate (46.7% IVF vs. 50% ICSI). There were two cases of failed fertilization in the IVF group. There was no significant difference in embryo quality between groups.
Conclusions: There were no differences in clinical outcomes associated with IVF versus ICSI in the treatment of unexplained infertility.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection; in vitro fertilization; unexplained infertility
By the time women find out they are pregnant and see a family physician, they
might have already consumed alcohol during the pregnancy and affected the
development of their fetuses. How can family physicians better prevent
exposure to alcohol during pregnancy?
Women of childbearing age should be counseled about the risks associated with
alcohol consumption during pregnancy before they become
pregnant. Diagnosing children who have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders can
help identify birth mothers who are at risk of other alcohol-exposed
pregnancies and who need support to change their behaviour.