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Texas partnership enhances education, study investigates birth defects


Jean Brender, RN

The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing in Bryan and the South Texas College ADN program in McAllen recently announced a partnership that will help STC students to advance their nursing education. “I have no doubt that this partnership will enhance education and help address our shortage of nurses across the South Texas region, and I’m proud to support these groups in their new venture,” Texas Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-20, said in a news release.

The agreement will allow STC students who complete the ADN program to enter TAMHSC and pursue a BSN without the need to repeat successfully completed courses. “Obtaining an associate degree for our nursing graduates is only the beginning,” said Melba Trevino, MEd, interim division dean for nursing/allied health, STC, in a news release. “Our goal is to instill a desire in them to achieve higher levels of education.”

Interested students will be enrolled in TAMHSC-College of Nursing’s online RN-to-BSN program, which allows nurses to continue working while completing their bachelor’s degrees.

In other news, researchers from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health incorporated data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study to assess joint exposures of nitrosatable drugs and vitamin C during the first trimester and their relation to birth defects such as limb deficiencies, oral cleft defects and congenital heart defects. Findings from the Texas A&M study suggest that higher nitrate intake from drinking water sources among pregnant mothers might be associated with some types of defects in babies, according to a news release. With data from the NBDP Study, researchers linked addresses of 3,300 case-mothers (who delivered babies with major birth defects) and 1,121 control-mothers (who delivered babies without major birth defects) from Iowa and Texas sites to public water supplies and nitrate measurements.

“What we found is that women who gave birth to babies with some types of birth defects tended to consume higher amounts of nitrate from drinking water on a daily basis than women who gave birth to babies without major birth defects,” study author Jean Brender, RN, PhD, associate dean for research and professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, said in the release. Daily intake of nitrate from drinking water was estimated from nitrate content in drinking water sources and from reported amounts of water consumed during the first trimester.

The study found that mothers of babies with spina bifida were twice as likely as mothers of babies without major birth defects to ingest 5 mg or more of nitrate daily from drinking water versus less than 0.91 mg and mothers of babies with limb deficiencies, cleft palate and cleft lip were, respectively, 1.8, 1.9 and 1.8 times more likely than mothers of babies without major birth defects to ingest 5.42 mg or more of nitrate daily versus 1 mg or less of nitrate.

More information about the study is online at


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