In this week’s roundup of health news, we’ll look at whether you need to do anything differently about your choice of bread, the place your baby sleeps, and your attitude toward mosquitoes on your holiday.
Bread vs Bread
The Story: The study compared people’s response to eating two different kinds of bread. One was a white bread, and the other was whole wheat sourdough. That means there are two differences in the bread: Whether it was whole wheat or white, and whether it included the vinegary taste that comes from the yeast in a sourdough starter.
We normally expect whole-wheat bread to be lower glycemic load than white bread, meaning it doesn’t cause as big a spike in blood sugar after you eat it. This study found that participants’ blood glucose response was the same, on average, on a steady diet of either type of bread
The researchers have one other thing they want you to know: Some people did better on the white bread, and others on the whole wheat. They think it isn’t statistical noise, but an actual personalised response. They would think that, though: The fine print at the bottom of the study says that two of the authors are “paid scientific consultants for DayTwo Inc“, a personalised nutrition service.
The Take-Away: Don’t change up your sandwiches just yet. If your gut bacteria are programming you to digest one type of bread better than another, it will take a whole lot more research to confirm it. Or as NHS Choices put it: “There are many reasons why you might choose wholemeal bread over white bread, and results from a week-long study in 20 people aren’t going to change all of those.”
Where Do You Want This Crib?
The Headline: Babies Sleep Better in Their Own Rooms After Four Months
The Story: The American Academy of Pediatrics has been telling us that babies should sleep in a parent’s room (but not the parent’s bed) for the first six to 12 months of their life. This reduces SIDS rates, they say.
A new study asked some parents to move their child to their eventual sleeping place (typically in another room) around three months. The babies who slept in their own room at four months got more sleep at night, and slept for longer stretches at a time.
The Take-Away: So should you move your child early so they get more sleep, or keep them with you to maybe slightly decrease the risk of SIDS? There isn’t a clear answer, especially because the risk of SIDS is so very small for older babies. (The NPR story linked above does a great job of considering both viewpoints.)
One interesting point: Even though half of the families in the study were supposed to move their baby to another room before four months, both halves had the same number of babies who actually did end up moving. So if your kid’s sleeping arrangement didn’t end up the way you planned, you’re in good company.
Zika Is Still Scary
The Story: The CDC reported what happened in 2016 with pregnant women in the US who were tested for Zika, turned up positive, and subsequently had a baby.
Overall, five per cent had a baby with birth defects; but among people who tested positive for Zika in the first trimester of pregnancy, that rate was 15 per cent. Earlier studies in South America had suggested the rate of birth defects could be even higher, so this is a little bit of good news, sort of.
The Take-Away: If you are pregnant, or might be pregnant, don’t get Zika. (If you are a man who has sex with somebody who could get pregnant, it’s also best if you don’t get Zika, and use a condom just in case.) We don’t have any way to prevent birth defects if you do get the virus, and a five (or 15!) per cent risk is still pretty scary. Travel warnings aren’t going away; check with the CDC about which countries are considered Zika risks before you book your holiday. And if you must go, or if you live in a place where Zika is circulating, use an effective mosquito repellent and other measures (long sleeves, window screens) to keep the bugs at bay.