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Slow-growing babies catch up in their teens, why Britons can’t conceive and why size ‘does matter’

GPs can reassure parents of babies that are slow to put on weight, after a large UK study concludes that babies who are slow to gain weight in the first months of their lives generally catch up to their peers by age 13, reports the BBC.

Researchers, writing in the journal Pediatrics, warned against boosting the calorie intake of slow-growing babies as this may increase obesity. The researchers looked at data from 11,499 children who took part in a large study in Bristol in the 1990s, with the study showing that 507 who were slow to gain weight in the first eight weeks of life recovered fairly quickly and had almost caught up by the age of two years.

Another group of 480 children who were slow to gain between eight weeks and nine months continued to put on weight slowly until they were seven years, but then had a spurt and caught up by the age of 13.

The findings highlight the importance of monitoring a baby’s weight and height gain during the first few weeks and months, but not creating anxiety with parents of slow-growing babies, said study leader Prof Alan Emond from the University of Bristol.

‘In the past, a lot of parents have been caused a lot of unnecessary anxiety by health professionals and this is a positive and reassuring message.’

Meanwhile, Brits’ fertility issues means some parents should consider themselves lucky to even have a baby.

The Sun shouts out a warning that one in five couples spend over a year trying for a baby, according to a ‘shock’ new study.

And for some the struggle seriously affects their relationship — with seven per cent breaking up because of it.

Britain’s baby gloom is revealed in a survey of 2,000 men and women for This Morning’s Fertility Week, which starts on ITV1 today. The TV survey found that 18 per cent of couples spent over a year trying to get pregnant.

The figure is at odds with official statistics from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence — which states just in seven couples (14 per cent) suffer fertility problems. And 19 per cent said the pressure of trying for a baby negatively affected their relationship. The stress also damaged 22 per cent of people’s sex lives.

Of those struggling to conceive, 24 per cent told the survey they only realised they had fertility issues after spending more than 12 months trying unsuccessfully for a baby. A further 15 per cent sought tests from their GP — and five per cent went private. A quarter wanted more information freely available about fertility issues, while 19 per cent said there was not enough support for couples having trouble.

Eleven per cent of couples have experienced female fertility problems, while in seven per cent it has been the male. And 12 per cent of those quizzed admitted blaming their partner for difficulties conceiving. Most said they were aware that their lifestyle could affect their chances of having a baby, with 76 per cent saying they knew drinking and smoking was detrimental.

It comes as the age limit for IVF treatment for women on the NHS is raised from 39 to 42. Currently on the NHS, women between 40 and 42 are offered one round of IVF, while those under 40 can be offered three rounds.

Meanwhile, over at The Daily Mail, there is more bad bedroom news.

Scientists have uncovered a worrying trend in ‘shrinking’ male sex organs in otters - and warn it could start be affecting human men too. Research into the water mammal suggests that modern chemicals may be to blame for the alarming phenomenon of shrivelling organs.

Analysis by the Cardiff University Otter Project found a decrease in the size of penis bones in male otters along with other changes that gave ‘cause for concern’ about the size of sex organs. It questions if endocrine disrupting chemicals - also known as hormone disrupters - could be to blame.

And experts are warning the study could be behind similar problems in humans with increasing number of boys born with undescended testicles, sex organ malformation and reduced sperm counts.

Gwynne Lyons, director of the (CHEM) Trust, said the study showed it was time to end the complacency surrounding male reproductive health in humans as well as other species.

She said: ‘If we are to protect our wildlife, we need good information on the reproductive health of key species. These findings highlight that it is time to end the complacency about the effects of pollutants on male reproductive health. This is particularly as some of the effects reported in otters may be caused by the same EDCs that are suspected to contribute to the declining trends in men’s reproductive health and cause testicular cancer, undescended testes and low sperm count. In reality humans and wildlife are exposed to a cocktail of many chemicals every day and some may be adding up to cause problems.’

And your other half is unlikely to be buff also, even if they have a gym membership. The Telegraph reports that one in three gym-goers don’t break sweat during their ‘workout’ and a quarter spend more time relaxing in the sauna rather than exercising, a survey found.

Researchers found while millions of Brits love to declare ‘I’m off to the gym tonight’ on leaving the office, only half will actually complete a serious workout.

The other half ‘go through the motions’, usually because they are there to ogle the opposite sex, don’t know how to use the equipment or don’t want to sweat. The study also found for the 50 per cent of gym bunnies who don’t take the workout seriously, the majority of their time is spent chatting with friends and reading.

One in four even owned up to spending more time relaxing in the sauna or hot tub than the exercise machines. Additionally, one in ten said they like to ‘chill-out’ around the pool and watch music videos and one in 20 said they head to the gym to watch football on a big-screen TV.

The research by sports equipment firm Kettler,showed that more than half of the 2,000 gym goers polled said they don’t do extensive workouts and 29 per cent said they never break a sweat.

In fact nine per cent said they would be embarrassed if they did start to sweat.