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CU Anschutz study reveals exercise is more critical than diet to maintain weight loss

Exercise

A new study from the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus revealed physical activity does more to maintain substantial weight loss than diet.

The study, published in the March issue of Obesity, was selected as the Editor’s Choice article.

Danielle Ostendorf, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center
Danielle Ostendorf, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center

“This study addresses the difficult question of why so many people struggle to keep weight off over a long period. By providing evidence that a group of successful weight-loss maintainers engages in high levels of physical activity to prevent weight regain – rather than chronically restricting their energy intake – is a step forward to clarifying the relationship between exercise and weight-loss maintenance,” said Danielle Ostendorf, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.

The findings reveal that successful weight-loss maintainers rely on physical activity to remain in energy balance (rather than chronic restriction of dietary intake) to avoid weight regain. In the study, successful weight-loss maintainers are individuals who maintain a reduced body weight of 30 pounds or more for over a year.

Key findings include:

  • The total calories burned (and consumed) each day by weight-loss maintainers was significantly higher (300 kcal/day) compared with that in individuals with normal body weight controls but was not significantly different from that in the individuals with overweight/obesity.
  • Notably, of the total calories burned, the amount burned in physical activity by weight-loss maintainers was significantly higher (180 kcal/day) compared with that in both individuals of normal body weight and individuals with overweight/obesity. Despite the higher energy cost of moving a larger body mass incurred by individuals with overweight/obesity, weight-loss maintainers were burning more energy in physical activity, suggesting they were moving more.
  • This is supported by the fact that the weight-loss maintainer group also demonstrated significantly higher levels of steps per day (12,000 steps per day) compared to participants at a normal body weight (9,000 steps per day) and participants with overweight/obesity (6,500 steps per day).

“Our findings suggest that this group of successful weight-loss maintainers are consuming a similar number of calories per day as individuals with overweight and obesity but appear to avoid weight regain by compensating for this with high levels of physical activity,” said Victoria A. Catenacci, MD, a weight management physician and researcher at CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

Victoria A. Catenacci, MD, a weight management physician and researcher at CU Anschutz Medical Campus
Victoria A. Catenacci, MD, a weight management physician and researcher at CU Anschutz Medical Campus

The study looked at successful weight-loss maintainers compared to two other groups: controls with normal body weight (Body Mass Index (BMI) similar to the current BMI of the weight-loss maintainers); and controls with overweight/obesity (whose current BMI was similar to the pre-weight-loss BMI of the maintainers).  The weight-loss maintainers had a body weight of around 150 pounds, which was similar to the normal weight controls, while the controls with overweight and obesity had a body weight of around 213 pounds.

This study is one of the few to measure total daily energy expenditure in weight-reduced individuals using the gold standard doubly labeled water method.  This method allows researchers to precisely determine an individual’s energy expenditure through collecting urine samples over one to two weeks after people are given a dose of doubly labeled water. Doubly labeled water is water in which both the hydrogen and the oxygen atoms have been replaced (i.e. labeled) with an uncommon isotope of these elements for tracing purposes.

The measure of total daily energy expenditure from doubly labeled water also provides an estimate of energy intake when people are weight stable, as they were in this study. Prior studies used questionnaires or diet diaries to measure energy intake, which have significant limitations.

The researchers also measured each individual’s resting metabolic rate in order to understand how much of the total daily energy expenditure is from energy expended at rest versus energy expended during physical activity. Prior studies used self-reported measures or activity monitors to measure physical activity, which are techniques that cannot provide the same accuracy.

The findings are consistent with results from the longitudinal study of “The Biggest Loser” contestants, where physical activity energy expenditure was strongly correlated with weight loss and weight gain after six years.

 

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Remembering a Legacy, Inspiring the Future

Appreciation at the CU School of Dental Medicine Scholarship Luncheon

“With creativity and vision, you too can have an incredible impact on the dental medicine profession,” said guest speaker and benefactor Estelle Meskin at the annual CU School of Dental Medicine scholarship luncheon.

The Meskin Family and Sarah Crepps (DDS ’19)

Held on March 8, the event celebrated the impact of scholarships for aspiring dentists and honored benefactors who generously contribute to dental scholarships.

Meskin spoke about the inspiration behind the Lawrence H. Meskin, DDS, MS, MPH, PhD, Scholarship, which was named after her late husband in honor of his legacy and important contributions to dental medicine. Dr. Meskin was the former dean at the CU School of Dental Medicine from 1981 to 1987. He was a renowned dental educator, research and clinician, with a passion for using evidence-based research to improve dental care.

Dr. Meskin’s legacy is carried forward through the Meskin Scholarship, and through scholarship recipients, like Sarah Crepps, DDS ‘19, who go on to become dental leaders. Sarah was one of the many scholarship recipients celebrated at the luncheon last month. It is the innovative approach to dental care that drew her to the profession.

Veronica Pryor, DDS ’22

“We are changing practice in ways other people have not – all to save and improve lives. Whether that is bringing antidotes and therapies to market, taking care of solutions for our combat soldiers with our military research or just taking care of patients.”

 

Dental students Veronica Pryor and Jaryn Dupree, DDS ‘22, were also recognized at the luncheon. Veronica, a first-generation college student, knew she wanted to be a dentist when she was five years old. She said, “When I visited my dentist’s office, I loved seeing the before and after images on the wall, and photo albums of mission trips completed around the world. I saw how dentists could make an impact on many lives, and it inspired me to want to do the same.”

Jaryn Dupree, DDS ’22

Jaryn grew up in an economically disadvantaged community in Pueblo, and credits access to education and philanthropic support to his success in pursuing a career as a dentist. “Thanks to incredibly generous benefactors, I can focus on further developing my career as a dentist without worrying about the financial burden of an education,” he said.

Dr. Denise Kassebaum, dean, expressed appreciation on behalf of the CU School of Dental Medicine for all that a strong community of benefactors makes possible for students like Sarah, Veronica and Jaryn.

Dean Denise Kassebaum

“We’re grateful for the generous support toward the careers of dental students. These bright young minds are dedicating themselves to person-centered care, and are on their way to becoming the next leaders in dental medicine,” she said.

It’s private support from benefactors like Estelle and the Meskin family that helps ensure student success at the CU School of Dental Medicine. Scholarships help the school compete for the best and brightest students from around the country and around the world, and give those students the resources they need to make the most of their education and leave CU prepared to transform lives.

 

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CU Anschutz at the forefront of breakthroughs in Down syndrome research

Down Syndrome Day

Colorado is a world leader in studying Down syndrome — with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus at the epicenter — and the galvanized research is spurring discoveries about Alzheimer’s disease, leukemia and autoimmune disorders that affect the broader population.

More than 150 people attended the annual World Down Syndrome Day celebration at the Colorado State Capitol on March 21, including Gov. Jared Polis and Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera. The speakers, including Joaquin Espinosa, PhD, executive director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, highlighted gains made in extending and improving the lives of people with Down syndrome.

Colorado is the national and global leader in Down syndrome research, thanks to the cooperative effort of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (based in Cherry Creek), the Crnic Institute, the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center, the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado — all based within the CU School of Medicine —  and the recently opened Adult Clinic for Down Syndrome at Denver Health.

“It’s just incredible to have collaboration with these many affiliates in one state all working together, and working very closely,” said Patricia Winders, PT, senior physical therapist at the Sie Center for Down Syndrome. “It’s what brought me here in 2007. This has really been built by Michelle (Sie Whitten, president and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation), Tom (Whitten) and by Anna and John Sie since before 2007. We’re very fortunate to have this here.”

Megan Bomgaars
Megan Bomgaars, who gained fame in the A&E TV show “Born This Way” and is now a successful entrepreneur, speaks about living without limits at World Down Syndrome Day.

The Sie Center, established in 2010, currently serves more than 1,500 unique patients from 27 states and 10 countries.

Longer, better lives

The incidence of people with Down syndrome is increasing, with live births now at one in 691 compared to one in 1,000 in 2002. Their lifespan has more than doubled to 60 years, from 28 years in the 1980s. People with Down syndrome are highly predisposed to certain diseases — including Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disorders — and protected from other diseases, including solid-tumor cancers and heart attacks, which combined account for 60 percent of the deaths in the United States.

Joaquin Espinosa
Joaquin Espinosa, PhD, executive director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, greets a family at the World Down Syndrome Day celebration at the State Capitol.

Joining the celebration, as he does every year, was Huntington Potter, PhD, director of Alzheimer’s Disease Programs at the Crnic Institute, director of the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and professor and vice chair of basic research.

Potter said every person with Down syndrome has the brain pathology of Alzheimer’s disease by age 30 or 40, and the majority of them will have dementia by age 50 or 60. “They’re at very high risk, and studying Alzheimer’s disease in people with Down syndrome will help us understand Alzheimer’s disease in the rest of the population,” Potter said. “So, there’s a dual benefit to everybody involved working with people with Down syndrome.”

The event celebrated how people with the condition are important members of society — holding jobs, getting married, going to college.

‘Don’t limit me’

Megan Bomgaars, who gained fame on the A&E TV show “Born This Way” and is now a successful entrepreneur, spoke about living a no-holds-barred life with Down syndrome. “We are powerful people in the world. We are passionate. Let your life motto be, ‘Don’t limit me.’’’

Researchers in Colorado are doing important work that “will change the health outcomes for people with Down syndrome,” Bomgaars said. “Our super-smart scientists are showing the world that people with Down syndrome are beautiful and brilliant, so don’t ever forget your sparkle.”

Martha Keele, senior director of events and government affairs for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, said Down syndrome has, since 2001, been one of the least-funded genetic conditions by the National Institutes for Health, but that is changing thanks to the work of the foundation and efforts by the multi-pronged team in Colorado. She noted that the Crnic Institute is up to over 200 scientists doing research that will lead to personalized treatments and ever-improved quality of life for people with Down syndrome.

WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY

The date, March 21, signifies the fact that people with Down syndrome are born with three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the typical two.

Espinosa said the mission of the Crnic Institute is to improve the lives of all people with Down syndrome and advance biomedical research. The institute takes an integrated approach — from basic science all the way through to the testing of new diagnostics and therapeutic strategies in clinical trials.

“People with Down syndrome are truly a gift for science,” he said. “By studying them not only are we going to help them, but also help all humankind by understanding how the extra chromosome acts on these other medical conditions.”

Photos by Matt Kaskavitch, Office of Communications.

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Stroke risk declines in the US and Colorado

Stroke risk

Marcelo Perraillon, PhD, assistant professor at the Colorado School of Public Health
Marcelo Perraillon, PhD, assistant professor at the Colorado School of Public Health

A research team with a faculty member from the Colorado School of Public Health at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus has found that stroke risk has dropped in both black and white older adults. The study analyzed 25 years of Medicare hospitalizations due to stroke.

The study publishes today in the April issue of Medical Care.

The findings are important because black Americans have shown consistently to be at a higher risk of strokes. This study reveals hospitalization rates have decreased in both races; however, black patients had a greater reduction in mortality. Though, black men and women continue to be at higher risk for stroke than white patients.

“Our findings show encouraging declines in stroke hospitalizations and mortality in older adults most likely due to smoking reductions and the increasing use of medications that control risk factors. However, the study also sheds light on critical unresolved disparities in the risk of stroke among minorities,” said Marcelo Perraillon, PhD, assistant professor at the Colorado School of Public Health.

Colorado Stroke Trends

In Colorado, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death, a relatively lower stroke incidence than the average in the US. However, race and income disparities are a concern for incidence and mortality rates on both a local and national level. Similar to national trends, poorer counties in Colorado, as well as black and Hispanic residents, have higher stroke risks and mortality rates.

New Study Finds a Decline Over 25 Years

Using Medicare data from 1988 to 2013, the researchers on this study analyzed trends in hospitalization and mortality after an initial stroke in black or white men and women aged 65 or older. The study included more than 1 million hospitalizations for ischemic stroke, caused by blockage or narrowing of the brain blood vessels; and nearly 150,000 hospitalizations for hemorrhagic stroke, caused by bleeding into or around the brain.

Over the 25-year study period, hospitalizations for stroke decreased for both black and white patients. Adjusted for age, ischemic stroke risk decreased from 1,185 to 551 per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries among black men and from 932 to 407 per 100,000 among white men. Risk fell from 1,222 to 641 per 100,000 for black women and from 892 to 466 per 100,000 for white women.

Mortality after ischemic stroke also fell, with greater reductions in black patients. Risk of death within 30 days after ischemic stroke decreased from approximately 16 to 8 percent in black men and from 16 to 12 percent in white men. Ischemic stroke mortality declined from about 14 to 9 percent in black women versus 16 to 15 percent in white women.

Although the study can’t show a causal relationship, the reductions in stroke hospitalization and mortality were accompanied by declines in key risk factors: particularly smoking, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. The improvements in stroke outcomes occurred despite the worsening US epidemic of diabetes and obesity.

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Sleep problems during pregnancy affect glucose, may increase risk of childhood obesity

Sleep apnea

A study conducted by Sarah Farabi, PhD, RN, while she was a post-doctoral fellow working with Teri Hernandez, PhD, at the University of Colorado College of Nursing and School of Medicine in 2018 found that mild sleep apnea changed sugar levels during pregnancy and was connected to infant growth patterns related to increased risk of obesity.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the study included 18 women who did not have gestational diabetes and a body mass index of 30-40 kg/m2 during their third trimester – making them at higher risk for sleep apnea. Twelve of the 18 participants were diagnosed with sleep apnea. “They were very surprised by the diagnosis. Often unrecognized, obstructive sleep apnea worsens over the course of a pregnancy and is associated with poorer perinatal outcomes like gestational diabetes and bigger babies,” said Farabi.

Sarah Farabi, PhD, RN, former postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado College of Nursing
Sarah Farabi, PhD, RN, a former post-doctoral fellow at the University of Colorado College of Nursing

According to Farabi, “In this study, the more severe the mother’s sleep apnea, the more likely she was to have higher blood sugar throughout the day and night. The data indicate that improving sleep habits, as well as screening for and potentially treating sleep apnea may help improve maternal infant outcomes in this high-risk population.” Unlike other studies, the sleep patterns and glucose were directly measured using personal monitoring devices instead of relying on self-report, making the data much stronger in the story they tell.

“We showed that mild undiagnosed sleep apnea is related to higher glucose patterns during pregnancy, even in women who do not have gestational diabetes. By addressing sleep apnea with overweight women during pregnancy, we might be able to improve mother’s sugar levels and insulin resistance, as well as the potential for fetal overgrowth and childhood obesity,” said Farabi. The combination of improved sleep and nutrition patterns may improve maternal and fetal outcomes.

Study participants were monitored at home with a WatchPAT wrist device and finger probe for three consecutive nights. The WatchPAT detects oxygen saturation levels and external movement. During the three days, they also had their diet provided by the Colorado Clinical and Translational Science Bionutrition Core, and wore a monitor that measured glucose every 5 minutes. Two weeks after delivery, a non-invasive test called a PEAPOD measured the baby’s body composition via air displacement.

Currently, Farabi is an assistant professor at Goldfarb School of Nursing.

Guest Contributor: Dana Brandorff, College of Nursing

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Study: Most Catholic hospitals don’t advertise religious restrictions

Website advertisement

In a survey of Catholic hospitals throughout the country, researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus found many did not advertise their religious affiliation and the majority did not explain how that affiliation results in health care restrictions.

The research letter was published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Maryam Guiahi, MD, associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, analyzed the websites of all hospitals listed in the Catholic Health Association of the United States’ Health Care Directory.

Study reveals 79 percent reported Catholic identity

Out of 646 hospitals examined, 507 or 79 percent reported their Catholic identity. The other 21 percent did not explicitly disclose it on their website. More concerning, only 28 percent specified how their religious affiliation might influence patient care.

Maryam Guiahi, MD, associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine
Maryam Guiahi, MD, associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine

“Patients need to know if they are going to a Catholic hospital and if that is going to affect the care they receive,” Guiahi said. “They may realize that a Catholic hospital might not provide abortions, but many do not realize that preventative services like contraceptives and tubal ligations are also restricted.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expects hospitals affiliated with the Catholic Church to abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. These directives interpret medical care based on the church’s moral teachings and limit aspects of reproductive and end-of-life-care.

One in five do not report their identity

“A basic cornerstone of medical ethics is to support patient autonomy,” said Guiahi. “One way to do this is to be transparent. It was surprising to find that one in five of these Catholic hospitals do not even report their identity and that the vast majority do not explain to patients what being Catholic means.”

Guiahi said hospitals may avoid transparency about restrictions to avoid losing patients.

“This means that many patients may waste their time at Catholic facilities when they encounter restrictions to common health services,” she said.

At the same time, some Catholic hospitals that openly cite the directives may actually provide restricted services using workarounds.

For example, rather than say they are giving a patient an intrauterine device for birth control, they might say it is being placed for heavy menstrual bleeding.

“There appears to be a lot of variability across Catholic sites in terms of what they provide and whether or not they use workarounds, which compounds health care consumer confusion,” explained Guiahi.  “Websites provide an opportunity to inform consumers about which services are provided and which ones are restricted and can thereby avoid conflicts in care.”

Ultimately, she said, greater transparency about religious affiliation and care restrictions may allow patients to make informed choices.

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Gender-based salary gap persists among academic emergency medicine physicians

Emergency doc

Although overall salaries for emergency physicians have increased over the past four years, and despite a call to end gender disparities in salary, men still make 18 percent more than women, and a $12,000 gender salary gap remains essentially unchanged. That is the finding of a study to be published in a March 2019 special issue of Academic Emergency Medicine (AEM) titled: “Influence of Gender on the Profession of Emergency Medicine.”

In what is likely the first study that evaluates this trend over such a long time period and considers both traditional academic and academic-community salaries by gender, researchers found that the salary disparity is greatest among more senior faculty, that is, associate and full professors.

The lead author of the study is Jennifer L. Wiler, MD, MBA, executive vice chair and associate professor of the department of

emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and executive medical director and cofounder, UCHealth CARE Innovation Center.

Conscious and unconscious biases

According to Wiler, et al., the reasons for salary disparities by gender are unclear and unexplained, but may include the

Jennifer Wiler, MD, MBA, executive vice chair and associate professor of the department of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine
Jennifer Wiler, MD, MBA, executive vice chair and associate professor of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine

presence of conscious and unconscious biases or initial recruitment negotiation skills despite the medical specialization. They recommend that deliberate strategies be developed to train academic emergency medicine employers how to prevent gender bias with regards to salary. Further, as more women enter the field and are promoted, they suggest that conscientious chairs prioritize pay parity as one way to change this persistent trend.

Dr. Esther Choo, MD, MPH, guest editor for the special issue of AEM, discussed the findings of the study in an AEM podcast, She Works Hard for the Money – Time’s Up in Healthcare.

Dr. Choo, an emergency physician and researcher, is also an associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University. She is a nationally-recognized expert in gender bias in medicine and a founding member of the nonprofit Time’s Up Healthcare, whose aim is to tackle discrimination, harassment, and inequality across the health care industry.

Also commenting on the study was Kathleen Clem, MD, senior vice president for AdventHealth, and professor of emergency medicine, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida:

A radical salary adjustment needed

“Shining a bright light on a verified academic emergency medicine gender salary gap is a powerful step to create change. This inclusive study follows a long-term trend and thus provides motivation for institutions to look deeply into their salary practices and insure pay parity going forward.”

“Dr. Wiler and collaborators demonstrate concerning, gender-based differences in compensation that are not explained by measured factors that would reasonably be expected to influence pay. This work sheds a bright light on patterns that have persisted in darkness and, hopefully, this is a step towards both the identification of the underlying causes of these disparities in compensation and working together towards their elimination,” added Roger J. Lewis, MD, PhD, professor and chair, department of emergency medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Gail D’Onofrio, MD, professor and chair in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and physician-in-chief of emergency services at Yale-New Haven Hospital concluded:

“Assuming that salary equity will right itself over time without definitive action is magical thinking. A radical one-time salary adjustment based on rank, position and years of service, followed by ongoing vigilance, is needed. We have run out of excuses.”

This press release first appeared on EurekaAlerts from The Society for Academic Medicine.

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Expectant mothers can prevent fetal brain problems caused by the flu

Pregnant women studied

Choline, an essential B vitamin nutrient, can prevent fetal brain developmental problems that often occur after prenatal maternal infections such as colds and influenza (flu).

The study, published today in The Journal of Pediatrics, is led by members of the University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. The findings are critical because viruses, such as the flu, in pregnant women, have been linked with fetal brain problems and mental illness like Attention Deficit Disorder and Schizophrenia later in life.

“Mothers want to give their babies the best possible start in life. Colds and flu are often unavoidable, even if the mother has had a flu shot. But colds and flu during pregnancy double the risk of future mental illnesses. More and more information show that choline helps the baby’s brain develop properly,” said Robert Freedman, MD, professor of psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine. “We found that higher levels of choline prevent fetal brain problems from developing, even when the mother is infected. Choline supplements in pregnancy can have a lifelong benefit for the infant.”

Robert Freedman, MD, professor of psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine
Robert Freedman, MD, professor of psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine

The study was conducted at the University of Colorado and Denver Health Medical Center’s Prenatal Clinic, with prenatal assessments of maternal infection, C-Reactive Protein (CRP, a marker of maternal inflammation) and the mothers’ choline levels. The baby’s brain development before birth was assessed by measuring the baby’s brain waves soon after birth. The harmful effects of maternal infections were seen in a reduction of the normal inhibition, also known as response inhibition, of newborns’ brain waves to repeated sounds. Simply put, response inhibition is the ability to cease or delay an action and to be able to reflect rather than display impulsive behavior.

  • Newborns’ response inhibition decreased by 27 percent when mothers had an infection, such as a cold or flu, during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
  • This effect was prevented if the mother had higher choline levels in the first 16 weeks.

Parents completed reports of their child’s behavior when the child was one year of age.

  • Children whose mothers were infected, and had lower choline levels, had significantly decreased ability to pay attention, play quietly and cuddle with their parents. These effects did not occur if the mother had higher choline levels.
  • These characteristics are summarized in a scale of Self Regulation, which was reduced 28 percent in children of women with infection and lower choline levels. Higher choline levels improved Self Regulation in the children of women with infection to normal levels.
  • Five of 53 children whose mothers had an infection (9.4 percent) had Regulation levels in the lowest fifth percentile of a normal sample, compared to one of 83 children of mothers without an infection. This effect did not occur if their mothers had choline levels greater than 7 micromolar during gestation. This level was achieved by only 25 percent of the women, despite encouragement to eat foods with more choline in their diet.

The body creates some choline on its own and it is also naturally present in certain foods, including liver, red meat and eggs. However, up to 75 percent of pregnant women consume less choline during pregnancy than recommended (450 mg of choline per day). Additionally, little or no amounts are present in prenatal vitamins. Supplements, available without a prescription and now recommended by the American Medical Association, can help mothers make sure they have high choline levels that their babies need.

This study was conceived and initiated by the late Randal G. Ross.

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CU Anschutz 360: Tzu Phang talks data science, favorite food and book he’s reading

Tzu Phang at CU Anschutz

Tzu Phang, PhD, is an associate professor in the CU School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health. Better known as Tzu by his students, he teaches and demystifies data science. Outside of the classroom, he advises scientists across campus in designing and analyzing datasets. He also hosts a bi-weekly bioinformatics journal club every other Friday.

You can learn more about Phang and his work with the biocomputing unit for the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine on his website, Tzuinformatics.

CU Anschutz Today caught up with Phang for a candid, rapid-fire interview to reveal the glamorous side of data science, as well as share his favorite food, day of the week and the book he’s currently reading, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree.” Also, find out why his favorite day of the week is Friday.

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In honor of World Kidney Day, celebrate with an ode

kidney poem

Use your head. Go with your gut. Trust your heart.

There are plenty of colloquial phrases like these, but unfortunately there isn’t a similar phrase for the kidneys. Especially considering the important role they play in filtering blood and removing toxins from the body, and several other key functions, there truly should be.

The closest the kidneys get is to be used as a synonym for disposition or temperament. As Falstaff puts it in “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” “a man of my kidney.” Or as T.S. Eliot’s speaker laments the loss of their youth in “A Cooking Egg,” saying they will meet “heroes of that kidney” in the afterlife, describing poet and scholar Sir Philip Sidney and Roman general Coriolanus.

Others may only view of kidneys as a dish that should be served with fava beans and a decent chianti.

While there is a dearth of pro-kidney colloquialisms, there is yesterday’s World Kidney Day, a global tribute to the importance of maintaining good health for this oft-overlooked organ.

One in 10 globally is affected by kidney disease. Try and keep yours healthy with a few simple steps such as: a healthy diet and food intake, monitoring blood sugar and blood pressure, avoiding smoking, exercise, and regular check ins with your physician.

To help celebrate the kidneys, an anonymous poet known only by a pen name of “Dr. Euro Lodgy” submitted this “Ode to the Kidneys:”

Ode to kidneys

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