Posts Tagged ‘ pregnancy complications ’

Pregnant? 3rd-Hand Smoke is a Danger to You & Baby

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

First-hand smoke is when you personally inhale smoke from a cigarette. Second-hand smoke is when you breathe in smoke from someone else. So what the heck is third-hand smoke? That’s all of the nasty second-hand smoke that gets stuck in clothing, furniture, drapes, and any other fabrics or on top of household objects that gets progressively more toxic over time.

So even if you are not around someone when they are smoking, if you live with a smoker; frequent a bar, club or restaurant that allows smoking; or ride in a smoker’s car or taxi, you are being exposed to dangerous toxins that are just as deadly as if you were smoking tobacco yourself, according to a new study conducted by scientists at the University of California-Riverside. The results came from studying the effects of third-hand smoke on mice, and the findings were shocking.

Significant liver and lung damage was found in those exposed to strong carcinogens. According to Science Daily, there is an increase in fatty liver disease, a precursor to cirrhosis and cancer, and a potential contributor to cardiovascular disease. Third-hand smoke can also lead to Type II Diabetes (even when the person is not obese), fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, as well as hyperactivity and a slower ability for wounds to heal.

Research has shown that children living with one or two adults who smoke in the home, where second- and third-hand is are present, are absent 40 percent more from school due to illness than children who do not live with smokers.

So now imagine how your unborn child—whose lungs, brain and nervous system is still forming—could be affected. The CDC advises that inhaling smoke can cause pregnancy complications (including placenta previa—where the placenta grows too close to the opening of the uterus), premature births, babies with low birth weights or birth defects, stillbirths, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). And if third-hand smoke is as dangerous as first-hand smoke, that means being in smoke-soaked areas can also affect your fertility, because those who inhale smoke have more difficulties getting pregnant. So for the sake of you and your baby, steer clear of cigarette smoke.

TELL US: Are you worried about third-hand smoke exposure?

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Smoking and Breastfeeding
Smoking and Breastfeeding
Smoking and Breastfeeding

Image of No Smoking Sign courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Pregnant Women in NZ Paid to Quit Smoking?!

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Happy New Year! You’ve probably already made your resolutions for the year, and maybe even broken a few (oops!)! Well, in New Zealand the government is trying to make sure that pregnant smokers keep their promise to quit their nasty nicotine habit, by giving out vouchers for up to $300 worth of groceries, baby products, phone credit, movie tickets and gas.

The rational side of me thinks it’s absurd that you would be rewarded for doing the right thing for your baby. After all, smoking during pregnancy contributes to higher rates of miscarriage, pre-term births, sudden infant death syndrome, and lifelong complications like asthma, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Why would you put your baby through all of that?

On the other hand, when I take the time to get off my soapbox, I realize nicotine is addictive, and when you’re addicted to something, your better judgment goes out the window. So why not give these addicted women an incentive to kick their habit if it means saving babies lives or saving them from lifelong complications?

About 13 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. smoke during pregnancy. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, if all pregnant women stopped smoking, there would be an estimated 10 percent reduction in infant deaths in this country. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage, and severe vaginal bleeding, and nearly doubles a woman’s risk of having a baby with low birth weight. Studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also suggest that smoking increases the risk of preterm delivery (before 37 weeks of gestation) by about 30 percent, and it increases the likelihood of certain birth defects, including a cleft lip and/or cleft palate. Babies of mothers who smoke are twice as likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as babies of nonsmokers.

Smoking also increases the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, and almost doubles a woman’s risk of developing placental complications, like placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta is attached too low in the uterus and covers part or all of the cervix; and placental abruption, in which the placenta separates from the uterine wall before delivery. Both can result in a delivery that jeopardizes the life of mother and baby.

The good news is that quitting smoking during the first trimester can greatly reduce the risk of having a baby with low birth weight— almost to that of a woman who doesn’t smoke. So there is reason to quit smoking even if you’ve already exposed your baby to nicotine. Do it for your little one, if not for yourself!

TELL US: Do you think there should be incentive-based government programs in the US, like in New Zealand, to encourage pregnant women to quit smoking?

Image of pregnant woman smoking courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Are Antihistamines Safe During Pregnancy? Maybe Not

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Taking antihistamines while pregnant could be harmful to babyWhen I found out I was pregnant it was like I was back in college and needed to cram for a big exam. I was reading every pregnancy-related blog, magazine or book I could get my hands on so I could be prepared for what I—and my body—was about to go through. At my doctor’s visits, I was the annoying kid in class who kept raising her hand to ask yet another question. What can I say? Even though I hate to admit it, I’m Type A.

The internet is both a blessing and a curse when you’re pregnant, because you can Google anything and everything at any hour of the day to get answers, but there is so much conflicting information out there that you end up driving yourself crazy with worry.

I went into my check-ups thinking I had all of this medical knowledge from the internet, but most of the time my OB told me not to believe anything I read online—especially when it came to medications and what was safe to take during pregnancy. (And even more importantly, what wasn’t safe during pregnancy!) She told me what I could and couldn’t take for cramps and headaches—acetaminophen was ok, but ibuprofen and naproxen weren’t—and seasonal allergies—she suggested I not take anything, though Benadryl and Claritin were widely considered acceptable online.

Now a new study published in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology conducted at UCLA with women who have hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a severe form of morning sickness shared by Kate Middleton, show that those who took antihistamines (which are contained in many over the counter cold remedies, decongestants, sleep aids, and even products designed to relieve morning sickness) are significantly more likely to have premature births, babies with low birth weight, breathing and feeding problems, infections or developmental issues. In the study, more than 50 percent of the HG patients who experienced the above problems took some form of antihistamines.

While the study only proves a link between adverse birth outcomes in women with HG, it begs the question: Are antihistamines safe during pregnancy for any woman—whether she suffers from HG or not? Is taking something to relieve a short-term cold or allergy problem worth putting your unborn child at risk? Trying to figure this out on your own will drive you nuts. Consult your doctor before taking any over the counter medication—regardless of what you read on the internet. Your baby’s health is worth the extra effort.

TELL US: Have you given up any medications while pregnant? 

Image of pills courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Could bed rest do more harm than good?

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Mariah Carey pregnancy bed restWe’ve heard the story a million times: A woman is going through pregnancy complications—especially if she’s having twins—and the doctor prescribes bed rest. When you’re retaining water, having hot flashes and are breathing so heavily that you could be mistaken for a crank caller, it sounds like a dream come true. It’s basically doctor-imposed relaxation. Cue the dream sequence of you at the spa for weeks on end. Not bad, right?

Reese Witherspoon was placed on bed rest with her third child, Tennessee; Marcia Cross missed the Golden Globes because of it when she was pregnant with her twins, Eden, and Savannah; Pilates devotee Julia Roberts had to give up her fitness classes in favor of bedside games of Scrabble with hubby Danny Moder when she was pregnant with twins Phinneaus and Hazel.

Singer and American Idol judge Mariah Carey had a super-complicated pregnancy with twins Monroe and Morocco—she developed gestational diabetes, then oedema, which is when fluid develops under your skin. It usually only happens in women’s feet and ankles, but Mariah’s condition started to spread up her body. All of that combined lead to several false labors and emergency trips to the hospital that she was finally placed on bed rest. “I had a really tough pregnancy,” Mariah told Barbara Walters on 20/20. “It was so bad that even the bed [rest] hurt.”

After years of it being the go-to answer for women with difficult pregnancies, a new study suggests that bed rest might be causing more harm than good. In a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, 40 percent of women who cut out activity had a premature baby, compared to 17 percent of women who didn’t scale back. Researchers say bed rest also increases the risk of blood clots, and bone and muscle loss.

While one study doesn’t prove absolutely conclusive, its findings do warrant a discussion with your doctor, if your physician suggests bed rest. At the end of the day, it’s important for you to trust your doctor’s expertise (all of those years of schooling and training mean something!), but you need to feel good about your decision as well. So it’s best to be as knowledgeable about the situation as you possibly can be. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Tell us: Have you ever been placed on bed rest? Do you think it was the right decision?

Image of Mariah Carey courtesy of Shutterstock.

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