News in Digest: Nicotine, nightwatch and nasty nibbles

How smoking substitutes, shift duties and supermarket snacks are doing their best to derail our childhoods

For a long time, pregnant women have known they need to be careful. No heavy lifting, no drinking or smoking, and no raw eggs are common warnings, along with don’t, whatever you do, date a man with German measles.

And this past fortnight has served up a number of new caveats – some perhaps obvious, others not so – along with a tip-off about some nasty snacks aimed at kids.

No nicotine = no worries
Using a nicotine substitute such as chewing gum or vaping can be just as damaging as smoking, according to the University of Copenhagen.

Its study of mice found that nicotine will reduce the flow of blood through the placenta leading to the brain of the foetus being deprived of oxygen.

This can cause conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, depression and addictive tendencies later in life. The researchers insist the only safe method, therefore, is ‘cold turkey’.

No daylight = danger zone
Working night shifts is also perilous for pregnant women, according to a study carried out at the occupational and environmental medicines clinics at Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg hospitals.

Working two or more night shifts a week increases the risk of a miscarriage by 30 percent, according to data taken from 22,477 pregnant women who mostly worked in healthcare.

It is believed the main cause is the nightshift workers’ failure to produce much melatonin – a hormone mainly generated by daylight. The women are most at risk during the first 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Kiks to leave kids in bits
Survive all that, and the supermarkets will do their best to get you, as worrying levels of the chemical acrylamide have been found in products aimed at children, according to tests carried out by the Forbrugerrådet consumer council.

The chemical tends to form in starchy food products when they are overcooked or burnt (like toast and French fries), and it is thought to be carcinogenic.

Out of 29 products tested, six contained levels exceeding EU recommendations. Among the products were Bornholm Rugkiks, Ella’s Kitchen Vanilla + Banana Baby Biscuits, and All-in-one Rodfrugt-kiks.

Burnt human flesh
In other healthcare news, a study of Danish operating theatres has revealed that personnel are exposed to toxic smoke and particles from burnt human flesh.

Most surgery tends to use electronic instruments that cut through tissue by burning it, and this generates smoke and carcinogenic particles. Although personnel wear masks, it seems that they are not finely-woven enough to filter out all the toxic particles.

The smoke can contain more than 80 toxic chemicals, so being in an operating theatre for a whole day is the equivalent of smoking 25-30 cigarettes. And the risk of contracting respiratory disorders is also doubled.

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