Posts Tagged ‘ March of Dimes ’

Painkillers and Pregnancy: What Every Woman Needs to Know

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Opioid use and pregancyIf you’re of childbearing age and take perscription painkillers, you’re going to want to read this.

Today the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new analysis about women’s widespread use of prescription painkillers and the risk of birth defects.

It revealed that more than one-quarter of privately insured and one-third of Medicaid-enrolled women of childbearing age filled prescriptions for opioid-based painkillers between 2008 and 2012. And many women don’t know that these drugs—for instance the popular codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine—can double the risks for birth defects of the brain, spine, and heart, as well as for preterm birth. Plus, they can cause withdrawal symptoms for baby.

If you’re not TTC and think this doesn’t apply to you, consider that about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, according to the March of Dimes—so you could put a baby at risk before you even know you’re pregnant.

So what does the new analysis mean for women?

“If you’re using prescription painkillers, and you’re pregnant or thinking of having a baby, do not stop taking your medication, but speak with your doctor or healthcare provider right away. You may be able to switch to a safer alternative,” says Siobhan Dolan, M.D., a medical advisor to the March of Dimes.

The CDC has info about medications that are safer to take during pregnancy here.

Sign up for our pregnancy newsletters and keep up with the latest pregnancy news.

Alesandra Dubin is a new twin mom. She’s also a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Prescription Drugs During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Prescription Drugs During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Prescription Drugs During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?

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Good News: Folic Acid Prevents 1,300 Birth Defects Each Year!

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Prenatal vitamins folic acidAmong all the (sometimes scary) new scientific pregnancy findings we sort through every day, there’s a new one to report that’s nothing but good news.

According to new data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fortifying grain foods with the B vitamin folic acid has saved about 1,300 babies from being born with neutral tube defects—or serious problems in the brain and spine—each year since that program went into effect in 1998. Thanks to fortifying, the number of babies born in in this country with such issues has plunged 35 percent since that watershed year.

That said, about 3,000 pregnancies in the U.S. annually are still affected by neural tube defects. So want to make sure you’re getting enough of that folic acid good stuff? Here’s what to do, according to the March of Dimes’ recommendations:

  • Take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every single day. That goes for all women who are capable of having a baby. (Currently only about a third of all women are doing this as recommended.)
  • Once you’re pregnant, take a prenatal vitamin that contains at least 600 micrograms of folic acid.
  • Eat as many foods as possible that contain folate, which is the naturally occurring form of folic acid. Such foods include leafy green veggies, black beans, OJ, and lentils. Enriched cereals, breads, and pastas also contain the nutrient.
  • If you have had a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect, talk to your healthcare provider about starting a regimen of high-dose folic acid at least a month before you conceive, and all the way through your first trimester, per the C.D.C. guidelines.

Another heads up for Hispanic women in particular: The new research shows that this group is about 20 percent more likely to have a child with such a defect than causasian women, and the reason for that is likely dietary: Wheat flour is fortified with folic acid, but corn masa flour isn’t (although the March of Dimes and other groups are working to make the F.D.A. fortify that, too.)

Just one more (encouraging) reminder to take those prenatal vitamins and eat a healthy diet during pregnancy!

Sign up for our pregnancy newsletters and keep up with the latest pregnancy news.

Alesandra Dubin is a new twin mom. She’s also a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

How to Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Making a Healthy Dinner
How to Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Making a Healthy Dinner
How to Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Making a Healthy Dinner

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Preterm Births in the U.S. Hit a 17-Year Low! (But It’s Not All Good News)

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Because I carried multiples—and a major risk in such pregnancies is preterm delivery—early labor was very much on my mind this year. And that’s why today, I’m especially happy to report some real good news from the March of Dimes.

According to the org’s annual Premature Birth Report Card, the national preterm birth rate fell to 11.4 percent last year. That’s the lowest in 17 years—and the figure means we as a nation met the federal Healthy People 2020 goal seven years early. Hooray for us mamas!

More than 450,000 babies were born premature in 2013, compared to 2006′s figure of 542,893; that’s when the unfortunate stat peaked. The March of Dimes attributes the improvement to sustained interventions put in place by states, saving close to $12 billion in healthcare and other costs—given that medical expenses for the average premature infant are about $54,000 versus $4,000 for a healthy newborn baby.

Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death, by the way, and babies who survive after early delivery aren’t out of the woods, of course, with many suffering problems with breathing, jaundice, development, vision, and cerebral palsy.

So the reduction in premature births is a terrific thing. But unfortunately, the news isn’t all good. The U.S. still received a “C” grade on its report card because it missed the ambitious 9.6 percent goal set by the group.

“I’m proud to report that the national preterm birth rate fell for the seventh consecutive year [and was] the lowest in 17 years! We’re celebrating,” March of Dimes president Dr. Jennifer L. Howse told exclusively. “[But] we still have a long way to go before every baby gets a healthy starts in life.”

On the state level, 27 states and Puerto Rico saw their preterm birth rates improve between 2012 and 2013. Five states earned an “A,” including my home of California (woo hoo!), plus Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Vermont. Sadly, three states and Puerto Rico, received an “F.” See the full details of the report card here.

With its “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait Campaign”—including a fun bump-selfie PSA—the March of Dimes taken a creative approach to encouraging mamas-to-be to make it to 39 weeks unless an early delivery is medically necessary. And apparently it’s working! Let’s keep at it.

Pregnant? Estimate the big day with our due date calculator. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!

Labor & Delivery: Preterm Labor
Labor & Delivery: Preterm Labor
Labor & Delivery: Preterm Labor

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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Can Cute Baby Bump Selfies Send a Critical Health Message?

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

In the social media age, baby bump selfies reign as like-bait of the highest order. (Just ask celebrity fans of the format, like Tila Tequila.) It’s also a fun and proud way to document a burgeoning belly from announcement through delivery. (That’s me in the mirror, snapping a selfie ahead of my maternity shoot!)

In a new PSA, the March of Dimes is seizing on the popularity of the bump selfie trend to communicate its message about the importance of carrying pregnancies to full term whenever possible. The 30-second ad shows a slideshow of cute snaps women took of their profiles, from the early stages of barely-there bump to the large-and-in-charge last trimester—and then beyond, with a few shots at the end capturing new babies and moms together.

Meanwhile, a voiceover narrator says, “We understand your pregnancy is a beautiful thing and it gets more beautiful the longer you go. If your pregnancy is healthy, don’t schedule your delivery until 39 weeks. Or wait for labor to begin on its own. Healthy babies are worth the wait.”

The March of Dimes gathered the photos from among those taken by the 87,000 women who have downloaded the group’s CineMama app, which lets moms-to-be create a video diary of their pregnancies (and get health info too). CineMama is part of the March of Dimes “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” awareness and education campaign underscoring the value in going to full term whenever not medically necessary to deliver earlier.

The campaign aims to educate women that full-term pregnancy is healthy for baby’s brain development (a baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs only two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39 to 40 weeks, according to the group), and general overall health outcomes.

I’m loving the sweet, personal new PSA—and I learned something from watching it. How about you?

Pregnant? Estimate the big day with our due date calculator. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!

Pregnancy Month by Month:  Preparing for Labor
Pregnancy Month by Month:  Preparing for Labor
Pregnancy Month by Month: Preparing for Labor

Image courtesy of Alesandra Dubin

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Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Pregnancy Secrets And One Life-Saving Vaccine

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Sounds of PertussisSarah Michelle Gellar probably won’t be happy to hear this, but she will forever be Buffy Summers to me—no matter what amazing roles the Emmy-winning actress goes on to play (including her part as ad exec Sydney Roberts in the new CBS series, The Crazy Ones, opposite Robin Williams, which debuts this fall). I loved her as the girly lingo-slinging, kick-butt vampire slayer who was always there secretly saving the world, and looking awesome while doing it.

Now mom to Charlotte, 3, and Rocky, 8 months, Mrs. Freddie Prinze, Jr. is a superhero of another sort (don’t all mothers deserve that status?!), and, since she’s been through it twice, I knew she’d have some amazing pregnancy wisdom to share.

I sat down for a chat with Sarah—who was on the cover of Parents when she was five years old!—to chat about her favorite tips for moms-to-be, and found out about her new mission to save babies lives. Here’s what went down:

When you’re pregnant, you’re so worried that you’re going to do something wrong—not eat well enough, not exercise enough…
You know, with my first I actually went into labor during Pilates. I told my trainer, “I’m cranky today,” but it turned out I was in labor but didn’t realize it!

No way! Well, that’s a crazy story you can share with Charlotte one day! Some women love being pregnant; others just can’t wait to get it over with and have the baby. Which were you?
I loved being pregnant because there was a baby growing inside me. Were there some parts that weren’t so fun? Yes. No one likes morning sickness! But I like crackers and pasta, so it wasn’t so bad.

You already had a girl, so how did you react when the doctor told you that you were having a boy with Rocky?
Actually, it’s a funny story. I saw the sonogram before the doctor even came into the room, and I [saw the penis and] was like, “Oh, that’s a boy!” The tech was like, “Let’s wait for the doctor, but I think your hunch is right.”

I’m amazed you could make it out. I feel like most pregnant women have no idea what they’re looking at on sonograms.
I’ve always been able to look at the screen and say, “That’s the foot, that’s the head.” It’s a hidden talent. I am really good at it!

Which did you gain more pregnancy weight with: Charlotte or Rocky?
That’s an interesting question, because you don’t count the things the same way the second time around because you’re chasing a toddler. I wasn’t aware of how much weight I had gained or when I started showing with the second pregnancy.

You’re just too busy to, huh?
Yes, and I’m lucky because my kids are just one day apart (by three years) so at least with milestones I can remember when they happened because they’ll be the same age exactly at the same time.

You couldn’t plan that even if you tried!
No, you couldn’t. By the way, it makes birthday planning very difficult.

Was it easier being a clueless first-time mom, or a second-time mom with a toddler running around?
Ultimately it’s easier the second time because you know more. Kids are very fragile but they’re also very resilient. I don’t question myself in the same way now.

What’s your best advice for nervous moms-to-be?
Being pregnant, and then having a baby, is very overwhelming. But you need to learn to trust yourself and your instincts. The first time around I didn’t believe I could do it and I was really hard on myself. I wish I realized then, “You know what? I did a pretty good job.” But I’m not perfect. I still put diapers on backwards! I can’t tell you how many times a day I’m still like, “Wait a minute—what’s going on here? Oh, I put it on backwards!” Or snaps on onesies—why are they so hard? Each set of snaps should be color-coded so the red goes to the red, the blue to the blue, etc. The zippered onesies may seem easier but trust me the first time you zip your baby’s skin, you want to kill yourself. You have to just let it go, though. That happened to me, and you know what? My kids lived and they don’t even remember it.

How did you balance work, a toddler and being pregnant with a second?
It’s a juggling act. Anyone who says it doesn’t take a village is either lying or is totally kidding themselves. I’m fortunate that I have an incredibly supportive village and I have wonderful friends. Also there’s a lot of OCD scheduling with colored pens. Having a child is the best medicine for being a control freak because you can’t control everything. You just go along for the greatest ride of your life and enjoy every minute.

You first heard about how deadly Pertussis (whooping cough) is to infants while you were pregnant with Charlotte, right?
Yes, I had already had the Tdap (Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis) vaccine and booster because I had been traveling to underdeveloped countries overseas [for charity work], and then when I was pregnant my OB asked if I had had the vaccine and if I was up to date. She was the one who explained to me how extremely dangerous Pertussis is for infants. I thought it was something that everyone knew about. When I found out not everyone did, I wanted to be a part of the campaign to get the information out there so adults can help prevent their loved ones from suffering from it. I liken the vaccines to when you have a new baby and someone comes to visit you automatically ask them to use hand sanitizer. This is the same thing. It’s about keeping your children safe.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sarah aims to save lives as the spokesperson for the March of Dimes and Sanofi Pasteur campaign, Sounds of Pertussis. The goal is to educate adults about the deadly threat of whooping cough (Pertussis) amongst infants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that America is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of reported Pertussis cases in 50 years. With infants not being able to get vaccinated until they’re two months old, and with it sometimes taking up to three doses for them to be completely protected, babies are the most susceptible to Pertussis.

The good news is it is preventable. In 80 percent of the reported cases, the infants contracted it from a family member and in 50 percent of the cases, parents were the ones who exposed their babies to the disease. So if adults are vaccinated, and they keep up their booster shots as directed by a doctor, the chance of their children or other infant family members being hospitalized or dying from Pertussis is greatly decreased.

Pledge to get your Tdap vaccine and spread the word to your family members on the Sounds of Pertussis page on Facebook.

TELL US: Did your OB tell you to get your Tdap vaccine? Have you gotten it yet?

Image of Sarah Michelle Gellar courtesy of the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign.

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