All posts by Meghan McGee

Finding Potential in Another Mother’s Breastmilk

In Canada, the primary cause of mortality in infancy and long-term disability in children is being born at very low birth weight (<1500g or <3.3lbs; Saigal & Doyle, 2008). If these infants are fed their mother’s milk in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) they experience fewer severe infections (Hylander, Strobino, & Dhanireddy, 1998; Patel et al., 2013), improved feeding tolerance (Schanler, Shulman, & Lau, 1999; Sisk, Lovelady, Gruber, Dillard, & O’Shea, 2008), lower colonization of pathogenic bacteria (Yoshioka, Iseki, & Fujita, 1983), and increased neurocognitive development (Anderson, Johnstone, & Remley, 1999). However, due to many reasons related to preterm birth, as many as 70% of mothers cannot provide a sufficient amount of breastmilk to meet the demands of these infants, therefore, a supplement is necessary (Callen & Pinelli, 2005). Currently in Canada, either pasteurized donor breastmilk (donor milk) or preterm formula is used as a supplement to mother’s milk.

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Coffee Does Not Cause Cancer, but Hot Drinks Might

Coffee drinkers can sip a little easier now that the World Health Organization has downgraded coffee’s cancer risk. Due to inadequate evidence and inconsistent findings, consumers no longer need to worry about their morning cup of Joe. In fact, drinking coffee may actually protect consumers from several chronic diseases.

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Obesity Begins in the Womb

If you were asked “how much weight should a woman gain during pregnancy?” you might posit a guess around 15 or 20 pounds. In reality, it’s not that simple. The amount depends on her pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI). As such, in 2009, The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released gestational weight gain recommendations for each BMI category (Table 1). These recommendations were published to promote adequate foetal growth and reduce the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes (Rasmussen & Yaktine, 2013). Total recommended weight gain during pregnancy ranges from 28-40 pounds for underweight women and 11-20 pounds for obese women (Rasmussen & Yaktine, 2013). However, many women are not meeting these guidelines and 58% of Canadian women are surpassing them (Ferraro et al., 2012). Currently, obesity is recognized as a global public health concern with no signs of slowing down (NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, 2016). Is gestational weight gain a contributing factor?

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The Zika Virus: A Global Public Health Emergency

In May 2015, the Zika virus infiltrated Brazil (Higgs, 2016). Since then, autochthonous transmission of the virus has been confirmed in 19 other countries in the Americas (Hennessey, 2016). By October 2015, almost 4,000 cases of microcephaly were identified; a sharp increase from the previous year, in which fewer than 150 cases were diagnosed in all of 2014 (Dyer, 2016b). Although a causal link between the Zika virus and microcephaly has not yet been established, the circumstantial evidence is alarmingly suggestive (Torjesen, 2016). With no vaccine or treatment available, concern over the spread and effects of the disease is rapidly increasing.

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