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Top Five UMN Health Stories in 2014

2014 will be remembered for the largest, most complex outbreak of Ebola and our first experience fighting the disease within the United States. University of Minnesota infectious disease experts were frequently sought out as international teams mobilized to contain the deadly virus. But Ebola wasn’t the only significant health story in 2014.

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U of M research: Early elective deliveries make up nearly 4 percent of U.S. births

While the past several years have seen a decline in the rate of elective labor inductions and cesarean deliveries between 37 and 39 weeks gestation, early elective births are still happening nation-wide. Labor induction or cesarean delivery without medical reason before a baby is considered full-term at 39 weeks, or an “early elective delivery,” is associated with health problems for mothers and babies.

New University of Minnesota research published in this month’s edition of the journal Medical Care is the first of its kind to show who is having early elective deliveries, and whether these deliveries happen following labor induction or cesarean.

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Donating umbilical cord blood offers hope

Once routinely discarded as medical waste, today the stem-cell rich blood from childbirth found in both the placenta and umbilical cord is being used to treat an array of medical conditions.

In the past, patients in need of a transplant had little or no options for obtaining stem cells. Now, if the cord blood is a “match,” doctors can use the cells for people who need blood and marrow transplants, even those with rare human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types.

Donating cord blood is fairly simple option for parents and completely harmless to the mother and child…

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Epilepsy drug lamotrigine use in pregnancy: fewer doctor visits ahead?

For women with epilepsy, controlling health-threatening seizures is especially important during a pregnancy.

Taking the right dose of medicine can be key… and challenging.

As a baby grows, a pregnant woman’s body weight must also grow to support her baby. Consequently, a pregnant woman may require more medication to keep seizures at bay than she did pre-pregnancy. Pregnant women with epilepsy regularly visit the doctor to have blood drawn and adjust their antiepilepsy medicine dosage.

Now, new data analyses from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and Harvard Medical School find one fifth of pregnant women may someday be able to control seizures with fewer visits to the doctor.

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When science takes a U-turn: the peanut allergy edition

So…if you thought pregnancy + peanut butter = a child with a nut allergy, it turns out the math doesn’t quite add up. New research now suggests pregnant women who eat peanuts or tree nuts are actually less likely to give birth to children with nut allergies than women who avoid eating peanuts or tree nuts.

If it feels like another tree of conventional wisdom just fell in the internet’s dark forest of health information, we know. But scientific data can be hard to debate.

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U of M researcher: More women use alternative methods to induce labor

Women across America are frequently turning to nonmedical and alternative methods to induce labor and manage their pain during the childbirth process according to new research from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

The latest analysis is the first such study to review the use of both medical and nonmedical care during labor among women giving birth across the United States. Previously, clinicians and public health officials had little insight into the scope of use of alternative methods of labor induction and pain management; nor was the extent to which nonmedical methods are used in conjunction with medical means previously documented.

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