Short course

Some studies have suggested that working the night shift may raise a pregnant woman's risks of preterm delivery or having an underweight baby.

Written by Reuters | Published: August 27, 2011 12:35 am

Shift work may have little impact on pregnancy

Some studies have suggested that working the night shift may raise a pregnant woman’s risks of preterm delivery or having an underweight baby,but a review says that if those effects exist,they are likely to be small.

After looking at 23 studies involving thousands of women,researchers led by Matteo Bonzini of the University of Insubria in Italy found that overall,shift work was not strongly linked to the risk of preterm delivery versus a standard nine-to-five job.

Women working night or rotating shifts did have a slightly higher chance of having a baby who was small for gestational age,but the evidence was not strong enough to make “confident conclusions”,the researchers reported in the journal BJOG.

“On balance,the evidence currently available about the investigated birth outcomes does not make a compelling case for mandatory restrictions on shift-working in pregnancy.”

“In the meantime,we suggest that it would be prudent,insofar as job circumstances allow,to permit pregnant women who wish to do so to reduce their exposure to shift and night working,” they wrote.

Ovarian cysts may not lead to cancer

Finding ovarian cysts on an ultrasound scan isn’t a cancer sentence for women who are middle-aged and older,a new UK screening study suggests. Women with so-called “inclusion cysts” weren’t at higher risk for ovarian cancer or,for that matter,breast or endometrial tumours,researchers found. The results add to evidence challenging the long-held belief that such cysts,which are sacs filled with fluid or other soft tissue,would trigger cancer. But it will take longer follow-up “to definitively confirm these findings,” Dr Usha Menon,of the University College London,and colleagues caution in a report in the journal BJOG.

According to the American Cancer Society,about 1 in 71 women get ovarian cancer at some point,with half of the cases occurring after age 60. Data for the new study came from the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening,which includes more than 2,00,000 women aged 50 to 74 years. About half of those are getting ultrasound screening exams at regular intervals. In the first year,screening identified 1,234 women with inclusion cysts,and 22,914 with normal ovaries,according to the report.

After an average of six years,four women with cysts — or about five in 1,000 — and 32 with normal ovaries — about one in 1,000 — had developed ovarian cancer. Although that suggests increased risk,statistical tests showed that could easily have been due to chance.

More evidence links pesticides,diabetes

People with relatively high levels of certain pesticides in their blood may have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes — particularly if they are overweight,a new study suggests.

The study,reported in the journal Diabetes Care,is not the first to link chemical pollutants to diabetes. A number of studies have found a connection between diabetes risk and exposure to older pesticides known as organochlorines,PCBs and other chemicals that fall into the category of “persistent organic pollutants.”

For the study,Airaksinen’s team measured blood levels of several persistent organic pollutants in about 2,000 older adults. Just over 15 percent had type 2 diabetes. The risk was higher,the researchers found,among people with the highest levels of organochlorine pesticides. Those with levels in the top 10 per cent were about twice as likely to have diabetes as their counterparts in the bottom 10 per cent. But the link appeared to be limited to people who were overweight. That,the researchers write,suggests that the pollutants and body fat “may have a synergistic effect on the risk of type 2 diabetes”.

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