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In Utero COVID Exposure Tied to Developmental Differences

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In Utero COVID Exposure Tied to Developmental Differences

COVID-19 in during pregnancy has been linked to a small but significant effect on infant neurodevelopment, suggests a small-scale analysis that points to the need for further study and monitoring during pregnancy.

The study included 24 pregnant women, half of whom had COVID-19 during pregnancy, and their offspring. It showed impairments at 6 weeks of age on the social interactive dimension of a neonatal assessment.

“Not all babies born to mothers infected with COVID show neurodevelopmental differences, but our data show that their risk is increased in comparison to those not exposed to COVID in the womb. We need a bigger study to confirm the exact extent of the difference,” said lead researcher Rosa Ayesa Arriola, PhD, Valdecilla Research Institute (IDIVAL), Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla, Santander, Spain, in a release.

The findings were presented at the virtual European Psychiatric Association (EPA) 2022 Congress.

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Differing Responses to Cuddling

Co-author Águeda Castro Quintas, PhD student, Network Centre for Biomedical Research in Mental Health, University of Barcelona, Spain, explained that the tests showed the children born to mothers who had COVID-19 during pregnancy reacted “slightly differently to being held, or cuddled.”

“We need to note that these are preliminary results, but this is part of a project following a larger sample of 100 mothers and their babies,” she added. The authors plan to compare their results with those from a similar study.

The group will also monitor infant language and motor development between 18 and 42 months of age.

“This is an ongoing project, and we are at an early stage,” Castro Quintas said. “We don’t know if these effects will result in any longer-term issues,” but longer-term observation “may help us understand this.”

“Of course, in babies who are so young, there are several things we just can’t measure, such as language skills or cognition,” added co-investigator Nerea San Martín González, Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Barcelona, Spain.

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While emphasizing the need for larger sample sizes, she said that “in the meantime, we need to stress the importance of medical monitoring to facilitate a healthy pregnancy.”

The researchers note that the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for the newborns of affected mothers remain “unknown.”

However, previous studies of other infections during pregnancy suggest that offspring could be “especially vulnerable”, as the pathophysiologic mechanisms of the infection, such as cytokine storms and microcoagulation, “could clearly compromise fetal neurodevelopment.”

To investigate further, they examined the neurodevelopment of infants born both immediately before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, from 2017 to 2021.

Twenty-one women who had COVID-19 during pregnancy were matched with 21 healthy controls. They were studied both during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, completing hormonal and other biochemical tests, salivary tests, movement assessments, and psychological questionnaires, adjusted for various factors.

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The team also administered the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioural Assessment Scale (NBAS) to the offspring at 6 weeks of age to evaluate neurologic, social, and behavioral aspects of function.

“We have been especially sensitive in how we have conducted these tests,” said Castro Quintas. “Each mother and baby were closely examined by clinicians with expert training in the field and in the tests.”

Among those offspring exposed to COVID-19 during pregnancy, there was a significant decrease in scores on the social interactive dimension of the NBAS, particularly if infection occurred before week 20 of gestation.

Other NBAS subscales were not associated with maternal COVID-19 during pregnancy.

More Research Needed

Commenting on the findings, Livio Provenzi, PhD, a psychologist and researcher in developmental psychobiology at the University of Pavia, Italy, noted there is a “great need” to study the direct and indirect effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on parents and their children.

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“Pregnancy is a period of life which shapes much of our subsequent development, and exposure to adversity in pregnancy can leave long-lasting biological footprints.”

Provenzi, who was not involved in the study, added in the release that the findings reinforce “evidence of epigenetic alterations in infants born from mothers exposed to pandemic-related stress during pregnancy.”

“It shows we need more large-scale, international research to allow us to understand the developmental effects of this health emergency and to deliver better quality of care to parents and infants.”

The study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Instituto de Salud Carlos III through the University of Barcelona multicenter project and the Government of Cantabria.

No relevant financial relationships declared.

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European Psychiatric Association (EPA) 2022 Congress. Abstract: The Impact of Maternal SARS-COV-2 Infection in Early Stages of Newborn Neurodevelopment: Preliminary Results in a Multicenter Spanish Study. Presented June 6, 2022.

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How to Feel Hopeful, Even When It’s Really, Really Hard

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How to Feel Hopeful, Even When It’s Really, Really Hard

And for those with mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, cultivating hope and resilience can be key to managing their symptoms, Dr. Tedeschi says. In depression, for instance, a persistent feeling of hopelessness is often a defining symptom. In the case of anxiety, fear is one of the driving factors. “In both cases, they’re drawing the conclusion that things are out of their control and things aren’t going to work,” Dr. Tedeschi says. Figuring out a way to become more hopeful, even—or especially—when life is difficult, is usually a necessary component of treatment.

Being hopeful can help you build resilience.

Putting in the work to be hopeful has other psychological benefits too. In particular, hope helps build resilience, which “is the ability to either recover quickly from events that are challenging, or traumatic, or a crisis or to be relatively unaffected by these events,” Dr. Tedeschi explains.

But resilience isn’t just being able to withstand a difficult situation. “It has to do with living a fuller life,” Lillian Comas-Diaz, PhD, a psychologist specializing in trauma recovery and multicultural issues, tells SELF. “Resilience is a way of coping with adversity and being able to get some knowledge from that adversity,” which might help you improve your coping mechanisms for the future.

From there, it’s easy to see how hope, optimism, and a generally more positive outlook might develop with resilience. It works like a feedback loop, Dr. Tedeschi says: “If you have success in managing these situations, you become more optimistic about how you’re going to do in the future,” he explains. And as you develop some optimism and hope, that might help you persist and manage in the face of the difficulties we all inevitably face.

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How to be hopeful when things feel hopeless

Here are a few tips from our experts:

If it’s really hard to feel hopeful right now, start by just acknowledging that.

Some people are just naturally optimistic, even in a situation like this. But, generally, resilience is something that’s learned—first through our experiences in childhood, potentially, and then later as we go through the inevitable challenges of life, Dr. Tedeschi says. So for those of us who maybe feel a little silly trying to look for a silver lining in, you know, these Unprecedented Times, trying to be hopeful just doesn’t feel genuine. And if it’s not authentic, it isn’t very helpful.

If you’re someone who finds it difficult or even feels silly trying to be optimistic right now, know that hope doesn’t necessarily mean thinking that everything will always be amazing. Being hopeful doesn’t have to be about looking for the bright side or deluding ourselves into thinking everything will be just fine, Dr. Comas-Diaz says. Hope is really just a (realistic) expectation that something good will happen—and that you have some control over it.

For some people, it might be difficult to be hopeful because they don’t have a source of hope they can immediately point to, Dr. Comas-Diaz says. In those cases, she will ask her patients to do an inventory, asking what sources of hope their friends, family, or larger culture draw upon and if the patient can “borrow” from that source as well. Think about, say, your mom or a close friend—what brings them hope? Can you share that with them or get some hope vicariously through them? Or is there a particular cause you’re really passionate about that you can draw some sense of optimism from?

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Gelato recalled in Ontario after testing find norovirus contamination of raspberries

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Gelato recalled in Ontario after testing find norovirus contamination of raspberries

Angelo’s Italian Market Inc. is recalling Gelato Artigianale al gusto di Raspberry Gelatois from the marketplace because of possible norovirus contamination of the raspberries used in this product.

This recall was triggered by Canadian Food Inspection Agency test results.

The recalled product has been sold at Angelo’s Italian Market Inc. in London, Ontario.

Recalled product:

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Brand Product Size UPC Codes
None Gelato Artigianale al gusto di Raspberry Gelato 1 L 0 000000 067430 None – Sold at Angelo’s Italian Market Inc., 755 Wonderland Road North, London, ON up to and including June 14, 2022

As of the posting of this recall, there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the location where they were purchased

About norovirus infections

People with norovirus illness usually develop symptoms of gastroenteritis within 24 to 48 hours, but symptoms can start as early as 12 hours after exposure. The virus can live on surfaces for long periods of time and survives freezing temperatures. It is highly contagious.

The illness often begins suddenly. Even after having the illness, you can still become reinfected by norovirus. The main symptoms of norovirus illness are diarrhea, vomiting (children usually experience more vomiting than adults), nausea, and stomach cramps.

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Other symptoms may include low-grade fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, and fatigue (a general sense of tiredness). Most people feel better within one or two days, with symptoms resolving on their own, and experience no long-term health effects.

As with any illness-causing diarrhea or vomiting, people who are ill should drink plenty of liquids to replace lost body fluids and prevent dehydration. In severe cases, patients may need to be hospitalized and given fluids intravenously.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

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10 Luxe Mattresses You Can Get Right on Amazon

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10 Luxe Mattresses You Can Get Right on Amazon

It should come as no surprise that Amazon, retail behemoth that it is, has a fantastic range of bedding available—in fact, some of the best mattresses on Amazon come from high-quality brands like Casper, Nectar, and Tuft & Needle. In other words, while you’re perusing early Amazon Prime Day deals on vacuums, furniture, outdoor gear, and wellness products, you can pick up a new mattress for yourself too—how’s that for one-stop shopping? Before you get to scrolling, here’s a quick rundown on what mattress type might suit your sleeping style and give you the best sleep you can get.

Mattresses for Side Sleepers

You should look for a medium-firm mattress that will prevent pressure points from building around your shoulders, hips, and knees (which can lead to back pain). All-foam or hybrid innerspring mattresses will work for you, as long as they provide contouring and support.

Mattresses for Stomach and Back Sleepers

These might be opposite sleep positions, but stomach sleepers can benefit from the same type of mattress as back sleepers: A firm bed that won’t let your lower back arch out of alignment. Again, a memory foam mattress can fit the bill as well as a hybrid mattress, but bear in mind that foam mattresses tend to be on the softer side (making uncomfortable sinkage a risk).

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Overall you want to find a mattress that provides pressure relief and, most of all, nightlong comfort. And Amazon has plenty of options to choose from. From beloved bed-in-a-box mattress brands to best-selling beds at affordable price points, we’ve highlighted our top Amazon mattress picks here. 

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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