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Defending life
from conception to natural death


HIV-positive teenager has caesarean to protect baby girl

9 August 2005

A 15-year-old girl with HIV had her baby by caesarean section to avoid passing on the disease to the child.

The unnamed girl, in Wales, discovered she had the condition during pre-natal testing, and doctors took other steps to avoid transmission. She is being advised not to breastfeed. In three months it will be known if the baby is HIV-positive but tests to date are encouraging.

Medical staff are describing HIV as treatable. They also say that detection during pregnancy helps them reduce the likelihood of transmission. [Daily Mail, 8 August; Guardian, 9 August]

Other stories:

The Family Planning Association is reportedly today launching a campaign to liberalise abortion law in Ireland. A 14-point policy is expected to be announced. More than 6,000 women went from the Irish Republic to England for abortion last year. [UTV, 9 August]

A state-supported hospital in Shropshire, England, is expected to offer prenatal scans specifically to find out babies' gender for which £50 ($90) will be charged. There will continue to be two free scans for mothers. [BBC, 5 August]

Scientists have encouraged tissue from the amnion, part of the placenta, to develop into several types of cell. The cells carry the Oct 4 and nanog genes which have only been detected in embryonic material. Researchers at Pittsburgh university say the presence of the genes mean the cells are pluripotent. It is nevertheless still unclear whether the placental cells are actually stem cells. [Reuters, 9 August] Work on properly-obtained placental tissue is ethical, unlike human embryo research.

Research suggests that women with celiac disease, an intolerance of gluten, could have babies who do not develop properly in the womb. Scientists at Örebro university hospital, Sweden, suggest that eating a gluten-free diet for one or two years before conceiving could mitigate the problem. [Reuters, 8 August]

Moderate exercise is being advocated for overweight expectant mothers. A study of 132 such women who were less than 20 weeks pregnant found that mild aerobic activity made them fitter. It is suggested that greater maternal fitness reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension and preterm delivery. The work, reported on in Obstetrics & Gynecology, was by Rio Grande do Sul federal university, Brazil. [Medical News Today, 7 August]

Breastfeeding is not just good for babies' nutrition but also lowers mothers' stress, according to research at Douglas hospital research center, Quebec province, Canada. 25 bottle-feeding mothers were found to have more stress hormone when put under pressure than 25 women who breastfed. [Medical News Today, 6 August]

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