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Health briefs: New dads typically gain weight, study finds

First-time fathers, you might want to carve out some time for the gym.

A Northwestern University study that tracked more than 10,000 men from early adolescence into their 30s has found new dads typically gain 3.5 to 4.5 pounds.

Men who lived in the same household as their newborn added on an average of about a pound more than those who didn’t, the researchers found.

“You have new responsibilities when you have your kids and may not have time to take care of yourself the way you once did in terms of exercise,” says Dr. Craig Garfield, an associate professor of pediatrics and medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who was the lead author of the study, published in the American Journal of Men’s Health

Garfield says new dads also sometimes change their pre-baby eating habits.

“We all know dads who clean their kids’ plates after every meal,” says Garfield, who says his own weakness is finishing his kids’ leftover cheese pizza.

Garfield previously found that new dads are more likely to be depressed in the first few years after a child’s birth. And other research has shown that men also typically gain weight after getting married.

Dr. Craig Garfield

Dr. Craig Garfield

All of that puts them at greater risk for developing health problems including heart disease and diabetes.

“We now realize the transition to fatherhood is an important developmental life stage for men’s health,” Garfield says, “where so many things change in a man’s life. Now, the medical field needs to think about how can we help these men of child-rearing age who often don’t come to the doctor’s office for themselves.”

Staff report


Drug shown to fight side-effects of kidney treatment

Drugs used to treat people with chronic kidney disease who also have diabetes can cause potassium levels in the blood to rise to dangerous levels.

Now, a yearlong study by University of Chicago researchers has shown that an investigational drug called patiromer can combat that potentially life-threatening side-effect.

Dr. George Bakris, director of the U. of C. Comprehensive Hypertension Center, calls the finding, which was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “a significant advance, a huge deal. It affects everyone with stage 4 or 5 chronic kidney disease — almost 1 million people in the United States.”

Bakris says the only alternative drug is “difficult to take, poorly tolerated and unpredictable. Most patients won’t take it.”

Dr. George Bakris

Dr. George Bakris

The study involved more than 300 patients with elevated blood potassium — a condition called hyperkalemia. It found that the drug patiromer, taken orally, brought potassium levels in the blood back to normal within a month and kept them there for the duration of the one-year study. Potassium levels began to rise within three days after patients were taken off the medication, and the potentially life-threatening condition returns within two months.

Patients given the drug would have to take it indefinitely.

Staff report