Study: Pregnancy Spacing Tied to Autism Risk
Closely spaced pregnancies may raise the risk of autism, suggests new research published in Pediatrics. Babies born within a year of a sibling were three times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than those born after three years or more; children born less than two years after an older sibling had nearly twice the risk. That's based on an analysis of more than 66,000 second-born children in California. Researchers calculated the amount of time between the birth of the first sibling and conception of the second, and combined that information with autism diagnosis records. "We've identified a really robust association," lead author Peter Bearman told ABC News. However, the study does not prove that short gaps between pregnancies cause autism in the second sibling, he warned. Although the reason for the association is unclear, one theory is that closely spaced pregnancies deplete mothers of important nutrients like iron and folate, which may affect the second child's development.
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2011 Fitness Trends: What's In, What's Out
Fitness is always in, but the hunt for a magic way to achieve a healthy heart or a taut butt or abs with the most gain and the least pain never ends. As it does annually, the American College of Sports Medicine has surveyed more than 2,000 fitness professionals in Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, and North and South America to identify health and fitness trends for the coming year.
Wellness coaching, for example, is in, U.S. News reports. One-on-one coaching is relatively new, but experts think it has staying power. A wellness coach typically charges $75 to $100 an hour to work with you not only on fitness but also on nutrition, weight management, and stress reduction. The goal is to guide clients towards a more healthful lifestyle, sometimes designing exercise programs or detailed meal plans. And they're advice-givers to clients who are trying to quit smoking or overcome a weight-loss obstacle. "A wellness coach might get a call from a client who's sitting at a restaurant, saying, 'I'm torn between the leg of lamb and the roast beef, which one should I get?'" says Walt Thompson, the survey's lead researcher and a professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University. "People are realizing they need someone to coach them through a more healthy way of life." [Read more: 2011 Fitness Trends: What's In, What's Out.]
Think More Protein, Fewer Carbs to Maintain Weight Loss
It's a sad, well-worn fact that 90 percent of folks who lose weight fail to keep the pounds off. That abysmal success rate has left nutritionists scrambling to figure out how to help dieters maintain their weight loss without feeling like they have to stay on a "diet" in perpetuity, U.S. News reports. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine may provide a template for post-dieters to follow. It turns out, those who fill their plates with more protein and fewer processed carbohydrates—not all carbs are created equal—are better able to maintain their weight loss than those who eat a similar number of calories but shun protein for pasta, bagels, and bread. Processed carbs, often packed with sugar and white flour, fall into the category of high-glycemic index foods because they cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which promotes the storage of body fat. "The results indicate that even a modest increase in dietary protein or a modest reduction in glycemic-index values was sufficient to minimize weight regain and promote further weight loss in obese patients after a successful weight-loss diet," write the Danish study authors.
The study included nearly 800 overweight volunteers who lost an average of 23 pounds by following a low-calorie diet and were then randomly assigned to one of several eating plans in an effort to prevent weight regain over six months. Weight regain was less in those assigned to eat higher amounts of protein and "low-glycemic index" carbohydrates like high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains compared to those who were told to eat less protein and more high-glycemic index foods like white rice, French fries, and sugary cereal. Those who ate more protein also were more likely to continue losing weight than those who ate mostly carbohydrates, even the unprocessed ones. [Read more: Think More Protein, Fewer Carbs to Maintain Weight Loss.]
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