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22Mar/11Off

Radiation and Pregnancy

Radiation and Pregnancy

People panic about radiation. Physician stated that organs begin to form in fetus between 2 to 7 weeks of pregnancy; 8 to 15 weeks of pregnancy is the early formation of the fetus. These stages are most vulnerable to effects of radiation. However,  radiation must reach 100 to 200 millisieverts  (mSv) to cause fetal malformations.

If a pregnant women is affected by 50 to 500 millisieverts (mSv) of radiation during these two stages,  central nervous system will be affected and the main organs of the fetus will be developed abnormally. Growth may slow down and lead to severe mental retardation. If affected by over 500 millisieverts (mSv), it will increase the chances of miscarriage. If the fetus has reached 26 to 38 weeks, the rate of stillbirth or dead of premature newborn may increase significantly.

The child may have cancer when grown up regardless of the degree of radiation exposure; especially leukemia, the risk of the child having leukemia increase by 12% for every 1,000 mSv of radiation. The average IQ will also drop from 25 to 31 points; the child may be 3 to 4% shorter than the average height by the age of 18.

However, 1,000 mSv of radiation would mean going though X-ray procedures continuously for a couple of hundred times, therefore, when living in a  environment with an acceptable level of radiation, pregnant women do not need to be overly worried.

28Feb/11Off

Is saving cord blood a waste of money?

Is saving cord blood a waste of money?

Ever since the concept of  cord blood stem cell therapy appears, it has been packaged by the cord blood banking business industry as "the way" to treat a variety of of serious diseases. Therefore,  many parents are willing to pay to save their child's cord blood as an additional health coverage for their newborn.  However, a well-known stem cells scientist questioned the efficacy of cord blood and stated that it may have been exaggerated. He urged parents to think seriously before making a decision to save cord blood to avoid a waste of money.

Agence France-Presse reported that Irving Weissman, the director of   California Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute of Stanford University, had stated, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, that cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells. It is  just enough to maintain the blood of a young child. Cord blood hematopoietic stem cells  can also derive stromal cells (Mesenchymal cells), its ability is limited to  create scars, bone, and adipose tissue, but not to the extend of producing brain, blood, heart and skeletal muscle (skeletal muscle), as some had stated. Weissman also criticized that some cord blood banks charge a lot of money for umbilical cord blood storage, claiming that cord blood stem cells can be used to treat serious illness; without mentioning the fact that medical expenses can be costly when it comes to stem cell transplant and treatment, which may not be something every family can afford. In addition, some countries have public cord blood bank. Cord blood is collected through donation. Cord blood is available to the public to those in need. Therefore, the cost- effectiveness of saving cord blood is  something parents should consider. U.S. National Institutes of Health had estimated the need for a newborn to use his/her own cord blood is 1 to 20,000.

Cord blood not enough to treat leukemia during adulthood.

Other research data have shown that leukemia patients that were successfully treated with cord blood transplant were  mostly children under the weight of 40 kilograms.  This is due to the fact that hematopoietic stem cells contained in cord blood are just enough to treat a child. Therefore, if someone is diagnosed in adulthood,  save cord blood is usually not enough.

27Feb/11Off

Lead Poisoning on Children

Lead Poisoning on Children

Lead is a harmful substance. Even if it is only 0.001 micrograms of lead, it can do a lot of damage to your health.  Lead poisoning comes from everywhere: cigarettes, paint, ceramics, prints, vehicle exhaust, cosmetics, canned food and beverages, lead water pipes.  Those who work in a seriously polluted environment including printing, metallurgy, casting, transportation, paint, plastic, rubber, petroleum, pharmaceutical are at higher risk of lead poisoning.

How does lead poisoning impact our health?

Lead may go into our body via the respiratory tract, skin and digestive tract. Some of which are being release from our body through feces, hair, and sweat, and part of it has been accumulated in the bone marrow and liver, resulting in organ metabolic disorders, headache, dizziness, constipation, neurasthenia, anemia, artery atherosclerosis, hepatitis and other symptoms.

Many lead poisoning are caused by long term exposure to lead (occupational lead poisoning). Symptoms include metallic taste in the mouth, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, high blood pressure, and oliguria. A more common situation of lead poisoning are caused by environmental pollution.  Symptoms include headache, insomnia, memory loss, joint pain, fatigue, irritability, and indigestion.

Lead poisoning impacts children more seriously because:

Children have higher metabolism than adults, hence, faster in inhalation of toxic substances.  For example, the adult gastrointestinal tract absorption of lead is about 5-15%, while children are up to 25%.

Children's respiratory and nervous systems are not fully developed, therefore they are more vulnerable than adults. If children consume the same amount of toxic substances, it’s going to impact them more heavily than adults.  The lighter the child’s weight, the worse it could be.

Children tend to have the habit of sucking, for example, the outer layer of a pencil and lead containers, therefore they are more likely to be in  direct contact with toxic substances, which leads to a higher chances of lead poisoning.

The impact of lead on children:

Lead may cause a series of physiological and biochemical reactions that affected by the calcium level.

Excessive amount of lead may delay or stop the growth and development of processes and systems such as hemoglobin synthesis and vitamin D activation system.

Excessive amount of lead may also interfere with neuroendocrine function, such as inhibiting the secretion of adrenal cortex hormones.