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Dec 02, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- UNTREATED ASTHMA MAY HARM FEMALE FETUS

Researchers have found asthmatic mothers-to-be may be risking their unborn daughters' growth if they fail to get proper treatment. The study of 138 pregnant women with the respiratory disorder showed the female fetus was at particular risk for retarded growth if the mother-to-be was not treated with inhaled glucocorticoids. The investigators examined the effects of asthma on the endocrine and immune relationships among mother, placenta and fetus. They found the female fetuses of women with untreated asthma failed to grow as much as did babies of treated women or of women with no asthma. The investigators found use of glucocorticoids to control asthma inflammation by women with mild asthma led to female birth weight corresponding to that of babies of women with no asthma. The study appears in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.


Sleep studies on 20,000 babies at 10 Belgian hospitals indicate infants who fail to fully arouse may be at increased risk of sudden infant death. The investigators compared the arousal processes of six female and 10 male infants monitored several weeks before they died of SIDS and compared them with 16 normal infants. The investigators said in healthy infants signs of arousal such as sighs, startles and thrashing limb movements precede full arousal. They said full arousal includes arousal in the brain's cerebral cortex. They pointed out the future SIDS babies had fewer cortical arousals between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. when most SIDS events occur. They said cortical arousal permits the baby to respond against life-threatening conditions by, for example, moving away from bedding that obstructs the baby's airways when he is sleeping face down. The study is published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.


A 10-year study shows women who smoke are twice as likely as male smokers to develop lung cancer, no matter how much they smoke or their age. Researchers told the 89th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America they do not know why this gender difference exists. The researchers used computed tomography to study of 2,968 men and women older than 39, with some history of cigarette smoking. They wanted to determine which risk indicators -- age, gender, number of years smoking -- when combined with the size and texture of lung nodules found on CT scans had an effect on the probability of developing lung cancer. They found gender to be such a risk factor. "We also found that the more you smoke -- and as you age -- the greater the chances of developing lung cancer," said Dr. Claudia Henschke, professor of radiology and division chief of chest imaging at New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center in New York City. "There is as of yet no clear consensus why women are at increased risk."


Annual computed tomography screening can detect early lung cancer in smokers and reduce death rates, studies suggest. "More than 80 percent of the diagnosed lung cancers we found in initial and annual repeat CT screenings were Stage I -- the most curable form of lung cancer," said Dr. Claudia Henschke, principal investigator and professor of radiology and division chief of chest imaging at New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center in New York City. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death; more people will die of lung cancer than of breast, colon and prostate cancers combined, the American Cancer Society says. Lung cancer has no early warning signs, and a tumor may be the size of an apple by the time it is detected, often because of symptoms like shortness of breath, hoarseness, coughing up blood and unexplained weight loss, Henschke said.


(Editors: For more information about ASTMA, contact Cathy Carlomagno at (212) 315-6442 or For INFANT, contact Cathy Carlomagno at (212) 315-6442 or For SMOKING, Maureen Morley at (630) 590-7754 or For CT, Maureen Morley at (630) 590-7754 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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