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Alcohol, energy drinks associated with poor brain function in babies, heart problems, seizures, death


A new study has confirmed drinking alcohol at any point in pregnancy leads to poorer brain function in babies. Researchers at the University of Bristol compared 23 published studies on drinking during pregnancy and found evidence it can also lead to lower birth weight.

The findings backed up UK Chief Medical Officer guidelines not to drink during any trimester. Scientists compared children from the same families whose mothers cut down or increased their alcohol consumption between pregnancies.

They also used randomised control trials instead of the traditional ‘observational’ approach where participants are already exposed to the risk factor and do not intervene to change who is or isn’t exposed. All the studies included in the review tried to compare like-with-like groups of people, who were only different in terms of exposure to alcohol during pregnancy.

The study fell short of being able to establish what level of alcohol leads to brain damage. Study lead Dr. Luisa Zuccolo, from the University of Bristol, said: “The body of evidence for the harm that alcohol can do to children before they are born is growing, and our review is the first to look at the full range of studies on the issue.

“This is unlikely to be a fluke result, as we took into account a variety of approaches and results.“Our work confirms the current scientific consensus: that consuming alcohol during pregnancy can affect one’s child’s cognitive abilities later in life, including their education. It might also lead to lower birth weight.
“Our study reinforces the UK Chief Medical Officers’ guideline: DRYMESTER is the only safe approach.

“This message is more important than ever, given recent research which shows the alcohol industry promoting confusing information about the real health implications of drinking during pregnancy.”The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council.

Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jenny Harries added: “If you are pregnant or you are planning to become pregnant, national guidelines recommend the safest approach is to not drink at all, to keep the risk to your baby to a minimum.“We have been clear with the alcohol industry that we expect these guidelines to be reflected on the labelling of all alcoholic products.

“Public Health England, the British National Health Service (NHS) and local authorities continue to reinforce this advice through public health messaging.”The paper, Evidence of detrimental effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on offspring birth weight and neurodevelopment from a systematic review of quasi experimental studies, is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Also, experts have warned that million of people are at risk of heart problems, seizures and death from consuming energy drinks.New research has found that energy drink consumption is rising – with the figure doubling in the past decade to more than 11.5 billion litres globally.And experts at Flinders University in Australia, in a study reported by Sun UK, said this could trigger “adverse effects” in people ranging from heart palpitations to death.

They said: “While an occasional energy drink is not problematic, it has been reported that some individuals consume four or more energy drinks a day.“Excessive intake can lead to the development of intolerance and serious withdrawal symptoms upon cessation.”

They added: “Reported adverse effects range in severity from headaches to heart palpitations, renal failure, seizures, and in rare cases death.”The researchers also pointed out that were well as damaging physical health; energy drinks can also have a detrimental impact on mental health.“Side-effects of excessive intake of the high caffeine drinks, with other stimulants taurine, guarana and ginseng, can lead to a range of negative physical and mental health consequences, including anxiety, depression, or even stress Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse,” they explained.

Their warning comes after Flinders University researchers examined decision-making biases in purchasing energy drinks.They analysed more than 200 consumers of energy drinks, such as Red Bull, V and Monster, between 18 and 25.

Researchers gave the study volunteers, many of them university students, training on how to reduce their energy drink consumption.Speaking about the research, Mind, Body and Cognition research leader Professor of Psychology Eva Kemps, said: “By giving participants some simple techniques, we examined whether they were prepared to moderate their bias toward choosing energy drinks over soft drinks and more healthy options, and perhaps reduce consumption before they become addicted.”

The researchers found that the participants needed tor retrain themselves to reduce cravings for energy drinks – due to the “powerful marketing” by energy drink brands.The findings echo past studies, which have warned young people to steer clear of the drinks.

What is an abnormal heart rhythm and how can it cause sudden cardiac death? An abnormal heart rhythm – also called an arrhythmia – means your heart is beating too fast, too slow, or with an irregular pattern. Your heart has an electrical system that tells it when to beat and pump blood around your body.

If there is a problem with this system you may experience an abnormal heart rhythm.There are many different types of abnormal heart rhythm. What type you have depends on where in your heart the electrical impulse starts, and if it causes your heart to beat too fast, or too slowly.

The most common abnormal rhythm is atrial fibrillation, an irregular, or fast heart rhythm. Other abnormal heart rhythms include: fast heart rhythms such as supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), sinus tachycardia (ST) and ventricular tachycardia (VT) are known as tachycardias and are faster than 90 beats per minute; bradycardias such as heart block are slow abnormal heart rhythms, when your heart beat is 60 beats per minute or below; atrial flutter is typically a very fast, irregular heart rhythm; tachybrady syndrome (sick sinus syndrome) includes periods of very fast or slow heart beats; and ventricular fibrillation (VF), is an abnormal heart rhythm that’s so fast a pulse cannot be identified and is an emergency situation.

According to the Heart Rhythm Alliance, ventricular tachycardia (VT) can cause sudden cardiac arrest – a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating due to a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system.There is rarely a warning and the patient always loses consciousness, they say.

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