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Be Well

Predicting newborns’ childhood obesity risk

Researchers have created a formula and online calculator they say can predict whether a newborn is at risk of becoming obese during childhood. The formula takes into account the baby’s weight, the parents’ weight, the number of people in the household, the working status of the mother, and her smoking habits during pregnancy.

Researchers from the Imperial College in London and Harvard University created the formula by looking at data from a study of nearly 4,000 children born in Finland in 1986. Those who had the highest risk of obesity, based on these measures, were most likely to become overweight or obese during their childhood and into their teen years.

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The researchers found that using a simple set of known physical risk factors for obesity could more accurately predict the likelihood of a baby becoming obese than a test of genetic markers associated with obesity. They confirmed the accuracy of the formula by using information from similar studies conducted in Italy and the United States.

BOTTOM LINE: A formula using a combination of traditional risk factors for obesity may accurately predict at birth the likelihood a baby will become obese.

CAUTIONS: It’s unclear whether preventing one or more of the physical factors used in the predictive tool could prevent obesity.

WHERE TO FIND IT: PLOS ONE,
Nov. 28

Steroids for back pain may increase bone loss

Postmenopausal women who receive steroid injections for back pain were six times more likely to suffer bone loss in the hip than those who did not receive the epidural injections, a new study found.

Physicians at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit looked at 28 women ages 65 and older who were treated for back pain between 2007 and 2010 with injectable Kenalog-80. The women were diagnosed with lumbar stenosis, which is characterized by a narrowing of the spinal canal. The women were given a bone density test before steroid treatment, and then reevaluated every three and six months.

The researchers found detectable bone loss in women after only one injection. The risk of bone loss increased six-fold six months after multiple steroid injections compared with a similar group of women who were not treated with injections.

Physicians who prescribe multiple steroid injections for back pain should counter the potential effects by implementing bone building supplements in the women’s diet, the authors wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Postmenopausal women who receive steroid injections for back pain may be more likely to experience bone loss than those who do not receive injections.

CAUTIONS: Because of the small number of study participants, the results may not apply to a wider group of women.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Spine, Dec. 1.


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