More U.S. children than previously thought may be suffering from neurological damage because their mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy, according to a new study in the journal JAMA. The disorders can cause cognitive, behavioral and physical problems that hurt children’s development and learning ability. The researchers evaluated about 3,000 children in the United States and interviewed many of their mothers. Based on their findings, they estimated conservatively that fetal alcohol spectrum disorders affect 1.1 to 5 percent of children, up to five times previous estimates.

Omega-3 supplements don’t help heart risk

Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, the oils abundant in fatty fish, are ineffective for the prevention of heart disease, a large review of randomized trials has found. The analysis in JAMA Cardiology pooled data from 10 randomized trials in people who had cardiovascular disease or were at high risk for it. The dose of omega-3s ranged from 226 to 1,800 milligrams a day. No matter how the researchers looked at the data, they could find no association of the supplements with lowered risk for death from heart disease, or with nonfatal heart attacks or other major cardiovascular events.

Stark warning for women with cancer

The American Heart Association issued a stark warning for women with breast cancer: Lifesaving therapies like chemotherapy and radiation can cause heart failure and other serious cardiac problems, sometimes years after treatment. The organization said patients and doctors shouldn’t avoid the treatments but instead take steps to prevent or minimize the cardiac risks. And it stressed that breast cancer survivors can improve their chances of a long, healthy life by exercising regularly and sticking to a healthy diet. The AHA noted that breast cancer survivors who are 65 and older and were treated for their cancer are more likely to die of cardiovascular problems than breast cancer.

News services