Health Buzz: Flu Shot In Pregnancy Protects Newborn Babies

Condom use lowest among adults over 40; ADHD, depression, and suicide: how to keep children safe.


Flu Vaccine During Pregnancy Protects Moms and Babies

While flu shots protect pregnant women, they also protect their newborn babies, new research suggests. Babies whose mothers were vaccinated during pregnancy had a 41 percent lower risk of developing a flu infection and a 39 percent lower risk of hospitalization from flu or respiratory illness, compared to babies whose mothers were not vaccinated, according to a study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Babies under 6 months, who cannot get flu shots, typically are at a lower risk of flu-like illnesses than those 6 to 12 months old, because they're protected by their mother's natural antibodies transmitted through breast milk. But during severe flu seasons—like last year's swine flu pandemic—the youngest babies were more likely to be hospitalized and die from flu than the older babies, The Los Angeles Times reports. "Although influenza vaccination is recommended for pregnant women to reduce their risk of influenza complications, these findings provide support for the added benefit of protecting infants from influenza virus infection up to six months," wrote study author Angelia Eick.

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  • Condom Use Lowest...Among Adults Over 40?

    Maybe it's time teens gave their parents—and grandparents—a sex talk. Condom use declines with age, new research suggests, and adolescents are more likely than any other age group to engage in safe sex, U.S. News reports. It is adults over 40 who seem to have the strongest aversion to condoms, according to a large study whose first round of findings were published Monday in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

    "When we talk about sex and sexual health, we often focus on young people," says New York-based sexologist Logan Levkoff, who was not involved in the study. "Teens are so often portrayed as being irresponsible and promiscuous, even though that's not the case. One of the trickle-down effects is this perception by older adults that they don't need to use condoms, that sexually transmitted infections are for young people. But sexual health has to be ongoing."

    Pregnancy may be less of an issue in middle age and beyond, but condom use is not just about pregnancy, say the researchers who spearheaded the study. It's also about sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, another term for sexually transmitted diseases. STIs are no respecter of age. Yet more than 90 percent of men over 50 didn't use a condom when they last had sex with a date or casual acquaintance, and 70 percent didn't do so when they had sex with a stranger. Among women over 50, a majority also report having sex without a condom. By contrast, 70 to 80 percent of teens say they used a condom during their last sexual encounter. All age groups were more likely to use condoms with casual partners than in monogamous relationships. [Read more: Condom Use Lowest...Among Adults Over 40?]

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    • ADHD, Depression, and Suicide: How Parents Can Keep Children Safe

      Children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at an early age may be at greater risk of becoming depressed or suicidal as teenagers than children who don't have ADHD. That's not the kind of news any parent wants to hear, but ADHD experts say there's no reason to presume the worst will happen to your child, writes U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute.

      "ADHD in young children is not something to be ignored," says Benjamin Lahey, an author of the study, which appeared in Archives of General Psychiatry, and a professor of epidemiology, psychiatry, and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago. But he is concerned parents will hear about this new correlation and panic. Instead, he hopes the news will prompt parents to get advice from a mental health professional.

      Earlier studies have found that children diagnosed with ADHD in childhood are more likely to have behavior problems as teens, and are more likely to be injured accidentally. This new study looked at 125 children in Chicago and Pittsburgh who were diagnosed with ADHD between the ages of 4 and 7, and 123 children of the same age range who did not have an ADHD diagnosis. When those children were re-evaluated between the ages of 9 and 18, the ADHD children were three times as likely to have made a suicide attempt by age 18 (18.4 percent compared to 5.7 percent), and four times as likely to be diagnosed with depression. The risk of suicide attempts and depression increased if the child had other mental health problems, like anxiety, or if the child's mother was depressed. Girls were at greater risk than boys for both depression and suicide attempts. [Read more: ADHD, Depression, and Suicide: How Parents Can Keep Children Safe.]