News Forum: in brief

At-a-glance summaries of the latest research

Smoking in pregnancy and child development
Researchers investigating the effect of smoking during pregnancy on motor control and co-ordination in offspring analysed 13,207 children born in 1958, who were part of the National Child Development Study. The authors found that heavy smoking during pregnancy was significantly associated with the time it took for a child aged 11 years to pick up 20 matches and with their ability to copy designs. This was particularly noticeable in boys. The researchers conclude that smoking during pregnancy subtly reduces motor competence in offspring.
Larsson M, Montgomery SM. J Epidemiol Community Health doi: 10.1136/jech.2008.085241

Genetic risk factor for osteoporosis
Many genetic factors are involved in the development of osteoporosis. Researchers at the University of Barcelona have discovered that the single nucleotide polymorphism Ala222Val in the MTHFR gene is associated with osteoporotic vertebral fractures in women. They analysed three polymorphisms in 944 postmenopausal women with data on bone mineral density (BMD), lumbar spine, fractures and femoral neck BMD. They found a significant association between vertebral fractures and the MTHFR polymorphism (OR 2.27). This finding could make it possible for women at risk of fractures to take preventive measures. Agueda L, Urreiziti R, Bustamante M et al. Calc Tiss Int 2010; 87: 14-24. doi: 10.1007/s00223-010-9361-4

Treatment of advanced ovarian cancer
The standard of care for patients with advanced ovarian cancer is primary surgery followed by platinum-based chemotherapy. Researchers compared this with neoadjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy followed by surgery in 632 patients with stage III or IV ovarian cancer. They found that the strongest predictor of overall survival was complete resection of disease before or after chemotherapy. The incidence of postoperative adverse effects and mortality was higher in patients treated with surgery followed by chemotherapy. The HR for death in the neoadjuvant chemotherapy group compared with the standard treatment group was 0.98, showing that this treatment method was not inferior to standard treatment.
Vergote I, Trope CG, Amant F et al. N Engl J Med 2010; 363: 943-53

Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint pain
Glucosamine and chondroitin are taken by many patients with painful joints. However, a recent meta-analysis of 10 RCTs in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip found that glucosamine and chondroitin, either alone or in combination, did not reduce joint pain or affect width of joint space compared with placebo in these patients.
Wandal S, Juni P, Tendal B et al. BMJ 2010; 341: c4675

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