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Why DNA Testing Makes You a Better Parent

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Genetic testing is often looked upon with suspicion by parents-to-be. However, this stigma often shields parents from being able to benefit from the information that genetic testing provides. Genetic testing is a medical advance, and parents should educate themselves on and consider the value of the additional knowledge a genetic test can give their journey into parenthood.

DNA Testing

What is a genetic test?

A genetic test is any test that uses DNA to provide information about a person’s chromosomes or genetics. Genetic testing can be used for anything from detecting birth defects to determining identity; however, for pregnant women, DNA testing is usually used to determine chromosomal abnormalities in the pregnancy.

When many think of the types of genetic tests completed during a pregnancy, they think about highly invasive procedures such as an amniocentesis. However, there are less invasive and noninvasive prenatal DNA tests available to interested parents.

What are chromosomal abnormalities?

Chromosomes contain our genetic information and are passed from parents to children and throughout generations. To pass our genetic material, or DNA, on to our children, chromosomes replicate. When a chromosome is missing or doesn’t replicate properly, chromosomal abnormalities, often responsible for birth defects, form.

Some of the most common chromosomal abnormalities are trisomies. Trisomies occur when a chromosome doesn’t replicate properly, and produces 3 instead of 2 replications. Trisomies 21, 18, and 13 are the most common. Of these three, trisomy 21, which is responsible for Down syndrome, is the most common. Trisomy 18 is responsible for Edwards syndrome and trisomy 13 is responsible for Patau syndrome, and these trisomies result in much more devastating birth defects than trisomy 21 does.

Who should consider genetic testing?

Individuals experiencing at-risk pregnancies should have a prenatal DNA test. Women with at-risk pregnancies who should definitely seek out prenatal DNA testing are those who have a familial history of chromosomal abnormalities or those who are 35 years of age or older.

Because some chromosomal abnormalities are hereditary, it is highly important for couples with a family history of genetic abnormalities to have a prenatal DNA test. Women who are 35 years and older are also at a heightened risk for having a child with chromosomal abnormalities simply because as we age our genes are more likely to mutate. Although at-risk pregnancies are more likely to be recommended for prenatal DNA testing, all pregnancies can benefit from testing.

For many mothers-to-be, the stress of worrying about a child’s health can be enough to prompt her to have a prenatal DNA test. Additional and excessive stress can actually harm the health of your pregnancy. If you find yourself constantly worrying over your child’s health, consider gaining a peace of mind by having a genetic test completed.

How will genetic testing benefit my family?

A prenatal DNA test is a great way for a family to preemptively learn about the health of their child. Should a family learn that their child will have special needs before the child is born, parents can plan accordingly. They may seek out additional resources and support, take specialty parenting classes, and even establish a birthing environment more suited for their child’s needs. By knowing in advance, parents can choose to be less stressed and more successful, which ultimately allows their child to be more successful in spite of any disabilities.

Genetic testing empowers parents to be the best and most informed parents they can be. Learning to be a parent is already difficult and challenging. By knowing in advance about any additional needs a child may have, parents can create a safer and more loving home for their child.

Reducing the Risk of Radiation Damage

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Radiation poisoning is one of the most dangerous health risks people can face. Many people die from exposure to radiation if they don’t get treatment. Others end up developing cancer, anemia and other serious long-term health problems. You should be aware of the risks and take the steps to mitigate them.

Radiation Damage

Reducing Radiation Exposure

The best way to avoid suffering from radiation poisoning is limiting your exposure to it. Here are some things that you should be aware of.

Many people try to avoid using the Microwave because they are afraid of developing radiation poisoning. Microwaves actually using anodizing rays, which means they don’t cause radiation poisoning.

You should only be worried about radiation poisoning if you are directly exposed to it. You will be at risk of radiation poisoning if you are at the scene of a nuclear accident or are exposed to a device that creates a lot of radiation.

Avoiding Radiation Exposure

There are a couple of things that you can do to reduce your exposure to radiation. Here are some precautions that you should take.

Limit Time Near Radiation Centers

Limit the amount of time that you spend in areas near nuclear plants or storage facilities. These plants are usually well-designed to prevent radiation leakage, but they can’t do so 100% effectively. Residents living near facilities in Dounreay and Sellafield in the United Kingdom were found to have higher incidences of cancer than the rest of the population.

People living near most radiation facilities don’t have an increased risk of radiation exposure. However, the precautions some facilities take may not work as well, even if they comply with all necessary regulations. There could also be serious radiation leakages such as those experienced in Fukashima if there is a major accident. You will be safer if you don’t live too close to such facilities.

Take Precautions with Medical Tests

X-rays are valuable tools for doctors to diagnose medical problems. However, patients who receive them regularly are at risk of developing radiation poisoning. Fortunately, the FDA has released some guidelines to help reduce these risks:

  • Ask if a protective shield can be used. Most X-ray technicians will use a lead apron anyways, but you should be proactive if they don’t suggest one.
  • Be indifferent about receiving an x-ray. You don’t want to deny one that you really need. However, you also don’t want to ask for something that exposes you to unnecessary levels of radiation. It is best to only get an x-ray if your doctor feels that you could really benefit from one.
  • Keep track of the tests that you have received. You don’t want to get the same x-ray conducted because your medical providers aren’t in touch with each other. You will want to make sure that all your x-rays are recorded and the results are retained in your medical records. This will reduce the risk that you will need to repeat them and exposure yourself to more radiation.
  • Find out what technology is used for the tests. Some providers are starting to use new tools that reduce the radiation their x-ray machine emit. You will want to find out if your provider is using these tools.

There are a lot of ways to reduce the risk of radiation poisoning. You will want to do everything possible to reduce these risks.

Eating Yogurt May Help Fight Depression

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Recent polls from the CDC have found that about one in 10 adults suffer from depression.  Many patients need to take antidepressants to improve their mood. However, some people may be able to improve mild depression problems by changing their diet. Recent studies have shown that eating yogurt may be a good way to help people improve their mood.

Fight-Depression

Studies Show Yogurt Can Improve Mood Problems

Many health scientists have found that frozen yogurt can help treat depression and other mood problems. One of the most compelling studies was conducted by Dr. Emeran Mayer, a medical research professor at UCLA. Mayer’s study was published earlier this month.

Mayer and his team conducted MRI scans on the brains of thousands of volunteers. He analyzed relationships between brain structures and the bacteria in their guts. He said that people who had higher bacteria gut levels had better moods.

Mayer cautioned that the correlation doesn’t necessarily mean that higher bacteria levels will reduce symptoms of depression or other mood problems. However, it is something that deserves a closer look. Mayer is still skeptical of his study and suggests follow-up studies, but other studies have shown similar relationships.

Dr. Jonathan Wright also wrote about another study by his colleagues this past summer.  The study found women who ate probiotic rich yogurts had remarkable changes in their brain scans. This study was particularly compelling, because it showed that there may be a causal relationship between eating yogurt and reducing symptoms of depression. Mayer’s research didn’t establish such a relationship.

Of course, this study needs to be verified with follow-up research as well. However, Wright believes that the study is very compelling. He believes natural solutions are preferable in helping people overcome emotional problems and said changing diets and exercising more frequently can be more effective than using drugs. Depression sufferers may consider purchasing ingredients to make yogurt to get more probiotics in their system.

Choosing Yogurts to Fight Depression

This research is encouraging to many sufferers of depression. However, that doesn’t mean that people should expect eating any type of yogurt will help alleviate mood-related problems.

You should eat yogurt that has high levels of probiotics. Unfortunately, most yogurts in the store have never been tested for probiotic levels. People can make their own probiotic-rich frozen yogurts instead. Using fermented ingredients and ingredients from different cultures can help ensure they get the right levels. You have more flexibility with possible ingredients when you choose to make your own yogurt.  You will have higher levels of probiotics if you use fresh fruits and vegetables. Apples and kefir are particularly good sources of probiotics. You may also want to include ingredients rich in Vitamin E and other nutrients that may help alleviate mood problems.

Treating mood disorders without medication is generally preferable. You may want to eat more probiotic-rich yogurt if you are suffering from mild symptoms of depression. Of course, you may take medication if it is needed, but it is best to do so as a last resort.

10 Proven Ways to Make the Internet a Safer Place for Kids

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Protecting kids from the dangers of the Internet isn’t getting any easier. More devices mean more ways for kids to land themselves (or you) in a cyber minefield. The most sobering Internet statistic that’s been drummed up recently is that in 2014 alone 317 million new computer viruses and malware were launched. Cyberbullying is also becoming increasingly problematic, in large part because of electronic devices being misused.

Internet security is no easy task, but it’s a necessity in today’s connected world. Just as you teach your kids not to talk to strangers and lock your doors at night, precautions also have to be taken online.

kids-safety

Third Party Security Software

Despite the growing number of bugs and cyber criminals, there are security software programs that can protect against the bulk of it. There is also third party security software that provides additional features like monitoring Internet use and activity. Usually it’s well worth the investment and peace of mind.

Monitor Mobile Devices

With new ways to access the Internet flourishing, there are also new programs built specifically for mobile device security. Web Safety is one example of how free apps are being used to monitor user activity and improve safety. The app allows parents to see which websites their children have visited, how they are interacting with others online and where they are located in real time.

Browser Security Settings

Every browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.) provides some sort of customization for security features. This can be found in the settings section and adjusted to block both pop-ups and specific websites. Even if just one browser is currently being used, the settings of all browsers should be adjusted.

Operating System Security Settings

The operating system (Windows, iOS, etc.) should also have some sort of safety features that can be turned on and adjusted. These can also help block access to certain sites or help monitor computer use.

Don’t Forget About Online Gaming

Most of today’s gaming consoles are Internet connected, which means now your kids can be bullied and taken advantage of while playing their video games. Monitor your kids while in play and discuss the importance of not divulging personal information with other players.

Set Ground Rules for Downloading

Downloads are a common hiding spot for nasty viruses. Cyber criminals will send kids links prompting them to download a game or document that will unleash malware. For that reason it’s best to set ground rules that links and downloads are never to be opened from an unknown source.

Set Ground Rules for Joining

It’s also a good idea to set distinct parameters for what sites your kid can join and whether they can join new sites without your permission. This will help you keep track of their Internet activity.

Have a Heart-to-Heart With Teens About Social Repercussions

Teens get themselves in trouble on social media every day. One slip up is all it takes to limit job opportunities well into the future or create an image of themselves that they may not want out there years later. It’s also a common forum for cyber bullying. Kids have to be taught that how they behave on social media can have real world repercussions.

Password Protect Everything

They can be annoying, but passwords are still a necessity for Internet protection. Anytime you have the option to use one do so along with these password tips:

  • ·  Use a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols.
  • ·  Never use personal information like a birth date.
  • ·  Get a password manager like Dashlane 3 if you want to keep a record for reference.

Check Your Kid’s Credit Score Regularly

Seriously. There are creeps out there who use the identity of kids to scam, steal and swindle. They are perfectly content to drag your kid’s credit score through the mud if it means a few extra dollars in their pocket. For kids 14 and older you can request a copy of their credit report from TransUnion, Experian or Equifax. If a child is under 14 file a report with the agencies and the police.

Things You Need To Consider Before Having Plastic Surgery

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Plastic surgery can be a big step, and it can be anything from a full facelift to a little tummy tuck. Not only can it cost thousands and thousands of pounds; it’s altering your body surgically, so it’s important that you think about it properly before making any crazy decisions to have those Nicki Minaj style bum implants. Here are the things you need to consider before having plastic surgery:

Getting-Cosmetic-Surgery-Done

You Shouldn’t Always Listen To Google

Google isn’t always accurate when searching for a plastic surgeon online. Search engines use various algorithms to rank websites, so a website that you find at the top of Google may not necessarily be the best clinic. You need to really make an effort to search if plastic surgery is something you’re really considering.

Why Not Ask Your GP?

Your GP might have some recommendations for you, so you can go and speak to some consultants that he recommends. This could be a great place to start!

Have Plenty of Consultations

To really digest information and get an idea of what the different clinics suggest for you, you’ll want to have plenty of consultations – at least 3! The more appointments you make, the more information you’ll take in. You need to be totally clued up before making a decision as big as this. Book your first consultation with plasticsurgeonbirmingham.net. Take a notebook too so you don’t forget anything!

You Want to Choose a Surgeon, Not a Company

Don’t buy into fancy advertising or a company brand – at the end of the day, the surgeon is going to be performing your operation, so it’s that person you need to learn about. Most great surgeons have a CV they hand out to potential clients that lists their training, qualifications, and specialities. Once you’ve done that, you can then take a look at the quality care commission (a regulatory body for this industry), to make sure that they’re legit.

Don’t Go For The ‘Best Deal’

The ‘best deal’ or cheapest surgeon is never a good idea (unless you’ve considered everything else and it turns out that they happen to be the cheapest). A surgeon should never offer a potential patient discounts to encourage them to have the operation, as it is against their code of practice and extremely unethical. Surgery is serious, so if you really want it you should be willing to pay the price.

There Could Be Complications

Of course, no matter how skilled the surgeon is that you’ve chosen, there could be potential complications. A good success rate to have is 95%, and any surgeon that tries to tell you there won’t be any complications is lying to you. Walk away! The human body is extremely complex, so there’s always a chance of something going awry. If you’re serious about surgery, you need to be prepared for this. Try to get the statistics of the surgeon to see how many operations have had to be re-done.

Plastic surgery shouldn’t be taken lightly, and should only be used as a last resort if you’re very unhappy about an area of your body. Beware that some people can find it addictive, and can end up spending hundreds of thousands to only make themselves look fake, and probably much worse than they did before. Only have surgery if you have the right mindset and are prepared to deal with any risks and fees involved!

Understanding Hepatitis C and Its Causes

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Most people have heard of Hepatitis C, but 2.5 million people are unaware that they themselves have the disease.  Over 3.2 million Americans are infected with Hepatitis C, and yet, due to slow-moving and common symptoms, the conversation around this condition is mostly silent.

understanding-hepatitis-c

HVC 101

Hepatitis C or (HCV) is transmitted by blood-to-blood contact. The virus was first discovered in 1975 but was not fully identified until 1989. By that time, hepatitis C had become a global epidemic due to unknowingly tainted blood transfusions, medicinal and illegal drug injections, and hemodialysis. It’s estimated that 300 million people worldwide currently have Chronic HCV.

The Hepatitis C virus is a major cause of chronic liver disease all over the world. In the United States, about half of all cirrhosis cases are the result of chronic HCV infections. Chronic HCV is also responsible for most cases of hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) and many cases of liver failure. Nationally, there are approximately 12,000 deaths per year caused by HCV-related diseases, and scientists expect that number to increase considerably over the next 20 years.

Because this virus works very slowly and silently, most infected people have few or no symptoms as it progresses. Many don’t learn they have HCV until they attempt to donate blood, have elevated liver enzyme levels detected during a routine medical exam, or begin experiencing symptoms of liver disease. About 25% of those infected with HCV are able to clear the virus from their bodies without treatment although scientists are unsure why this happens. Most HCV infections result in chronic liver disease, and 5-20% lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.

High Risk Groups

Those at the highest risk for contracting HCV are anyone who had a blood transfusion before 1992, or those who use (or previously used) IV-drugs. There is also evidence of “low but present risk” of HCV infection from sharing the tools used for intranasal inhalation of cocaine (snorting), and from high-risk sexual activity with multiple partners.

A reliable screening method to detect HCV in blood products was implemented by 1992. Prior to this transfusions were the most common method of infection, and at the height of the epidemic, over 200,000 Americans were contracting HCV annually. After HCV screening was actualized, fewer than 1 in 2 million units of transfused blood contained the virus.

Currently, diagnosis with Chronic HCV is highest among “baby boomers,” or those born between 1945 and 1964. Most were infected in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and are beginning to recognize the symptoms caused by 30-40 years of virus progression. Scientists are predicting that liver problems related to HCV will rise in the next 10-20 years before declining as rapidly as they increased.

Diagnosis and Treatment

HCV is diagnosed through a series of blood tests that determine the amount of the virus in your system, called the viral load. These tests also detect the genotype or genetic makeup of the viral infection. There are 6 known genotypes of the hepatitis C virus, and each responds differently to treatment. Once HCV is confirmed, getting evaluated for liver disease is the next step, which often requires a liver biopsy. A specialist, either a gastroenterologist or hepatologist, will evaluate the severity of the disease and treatment options to consider.

Receiving a hepatitis C diagnosis does not always result in immediate treatment. If tests show only slight liver abnormalities or a low viral load, sometimes the physician will advise “watchful waiting” with regular, follow-up blood tests to monitor the ongoing condition. Depending on age, overall physical and emotional health, and other health concerns, certain lifestyle adjustments such as nutrition, alcohol and drug usage, and weight control can slow the disease progression.

The current standard treatment for HCV is a therapy that combines 2 drugs, pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Duration of treatment ranges from 24-48 weeks, depending on which genotype the patient exhibits. Roughly 50% of those with the most common genotype 1 HCV, and about 80% of people with 2 or 3 HCV are cured by this treatment. New drugs and treatments are continually being researched and produced, making the percentage rates of those cured continue to grow.

Side effects from hepatitis C treatment may be mild to severe, causing some patients to stop their medication. Successful treatment, though, requires the consistent amount of medication required for the prescribed length of time. As treatments continue to evolve, managing difficult side effects early, aggressively, and effectively will improve.

The central challenge of Hepatitis C is educating those who might be infected to get tested. Once patients know their condition, receiving treatment or making simple yet effective lifestyle changes can slow progression of this virus, or even cure it.

Get a Well Woman Check – You’ll be Glad You Did

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Being a woman can be tough at times and we don’t do as much as we should about looking after ourselves. With busy lives, demanding families and jobs, sometimes our health and general welfare can get overlooked. But if we just keep thrashing away, ignoring our physical and mental health, sooner or later things will start to hurt somewhere.

Get yourself booked in

So before you get to that rather desperate point, it is wise to make sure that everything is in order as far as your health is concerned. Get yourself booked in for a well woman check-up at your local doctor’s surgery and they will be able to put you through your paces. The healthier you feel the better able you are to cope with everything life throws at you.

well woman check

First of all the basics will be covered. This will include taking your blood pressure, testing cholesterol levels, urine and weight checks. If these checks highlight any problems you will be advised of the necessary steps to take.

There are many specific health issues that relate only to females so a well woman health check-up is a great idea. If you would rather see a female practitioner make this known at the surgery. Often well woman clinics are run by female health professionals, either nurses or doctors, and if it is important for you to see someone female, it can be arranged.

What is included in a well woman check?

A well woman check is the perfect time for you to discuss any gynaecological problems you may have been experiencing and the nurse or doctor may want to examine you or arrange for further tests. The menopause can present problems for many women and a well woman check is also a good time to raise these matters. HRT or other courses of treatment may be discussed with you to help ease any unpleasant symptoms.

A well woman check will include a breast examination to ensure all is well. Where lumps or thickened tissue is detected a mammography is likely to be recommended. This painless and simple scan will need to be scheduled at a clinic elsewhere.

Family planning is something that can be dealt with at a well woman clinic. IUDs can be fitted and advice can be issued on various forms of contraception (including emergency contraception.) For discreet and private information on options available and what may be best suited to your situation, ask the nurse or doctor in attendance.

Cervical smears are conducted as part of a well woman check-up and are considered important in the fight against cervical cancer. Rates of cervical cancer have fallen dramatically since this test was introduced as a regular date on the medical calendar. All sexually active women up to the age of 65 should be tested. This quick and painless test involves taking samples of cells from the cervix in order to analyse them for pre-cancerous cells. Cervical smear tests should be undertaken once every three years, most results come back normal but if they do indicate any changes in the cervical area, early detection is key.

As women age the chances of osteoporosis become increased. This disease effects the density of the bones and leads to them becoming weaker and more prone to fractures. Often the patient is unaware of the condition until a bone fracture occurs, usually caused by a minor fall. The bones most commonly effected by breaks are hip, spinal vertebrae and wrists. Discuss any concerns you may have about osteoporosis at the well woman clinic and they will be able to advise on diet, exercise and lifestyle changes you can make which will help. If your medical practitioner suspects you are at risk from osteoporosis they may refer you for a DXA Scan. This painless test measures the density of your bones and helps assess how much at risk from fractures you are.

The term ‘well woman’ is a catch all for medical check-ups that are specific to female well-being. Examinations may vary from place to place but the basics remain the same. Viewed as a regular MOT for the body, a well woman check should be an annual fixture on the calendar. If you have questions, doubts or worries about certain conditions that effect women, the well woman check is the perfect time to raise them.

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