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New robot can help treat rare birth defect that affects the food pipe of babies

Scientists have created a robot, which can be implanted into a baby’s body to treat a rare birth defect that affects the food pipe. The prototype robotic implant, developed by the researchers at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital in the US, encourages tissue growth in babies. The robot is a small device which is attached to the oesophagus by two rings. An incorporated motor then stimulates the cells by gently pulling the tissue. Using two types of sensors – one to measure the tension in the tissue and…

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The secret to male birth control may lie in this poisonous herb extract

A plant extract, traditionally used by African warriors as a heart-stopping poison on their arrows, may be used to develop birth control pill for men, a study in mice suggests. Women have many options for oral contraceptives that are safe, effective and reversible, but despite decades of research, men have none. Two types of African plants make the poisonous compound called ouabain. Mammals also produce it in their bodies, though at lower levels that are thought to help control blood pressure; doctors sometimes prescribe small doses of the compound to…

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Would-be moms, beware: Smoking e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects

Smoking e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause facial defects in the babies, a study warns. The findings suggested that e-cigarettes pose health risks despite being widely considered a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Researchers exposed frog embryos and samples of mammalian neural crest cells to saline infused with e-cigarette vapour. Frogs, like other vertebrates, are similar to humans embryonically, said Amanda Dickinson, from the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in the US. “This means that if a chemical perturbs a frog embryo, it’s likely to do the same thing to a human…

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Marmite could prevent miscarriages and birth defects, study shows

Love it or hate it, it turns out that marmite is actually pretty good for our health. Earlier this year we reported that the salty breakfast staple has been shown to boost brain function, and now it seems that it may also be beneficial for pregnant women and their unborn babies, too. A 12-year Australian study has concluded that marmite can reduce the risk of miscarriage and birth defects, as the high levels of vitamin B3 it contains work to treat molecular deficiencies in pregnant women. The research Scientists used genetic sequencing on…

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Antibiotics may up birth defects in newborns

Beware would-be-mothers as a study has recently found that certain antibiotics during pregnancy may increase risk of major birth defects in your newborn. The findings indicated that amoxicillin, cephalosporins and nitrofurantoin were not associated with birth defects. Although the absolute risks for birth defects were small, physicians should consider prescribing other antibiotics when treating patients with infections during pregnancy. Senior author Anick Berard said that infections during pregnancy are frequent and should be treated. Berard added that the study highlights safer options for treatment of infections, more specifically urinary tract infections or…

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Epilepsy drugs may increase birth defect risk

Exposure to certain anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) during pregnancy may put women at higher risk of having a child with a malformation, or birth defect, says a study. The study based on systematic review of 50 published studies found that exposure in the womb to the anti-epileptic drug sodium valproate was associated with a 10 per cent chance of the child having a significant birth defect and this rose as the dose of the drug increased. The types of birth defect that were increased were skeletal and limb defects, cardiac defects,…

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