Posts Tagged ‘ Premature Birth ’

Pregnancy Tests Coming to a Bar Near You?

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

In January, I posted about how England had come up with a plan to curb Fetal Alcohol Syndrome by selling pregnancy tests in pub bathrooms—with the thought being that given the opportunity, a woman who thought she might be pregnant would take the pregnancy test before she went ahead with a night of boozing, and therefore could prevent causing alcohol-related disorders in her future baby if she was in fact pregnant. Now, a senator in Alaska is wanting to take things one step further by using taxpayer’s money to supply free pregnancy tests in bathrooms of all the bars and restaurants in his state.

Republican senator Pete Kelly from Fairbanks got the idea after getting involved with an organization called Empowering Hope, whose mission is to eliminate Fetal Alcohol Syndrome from Alaska.

According to Alaska Dispatch, senator Kelly explained that “the pregnancy test assumes the best of us. If you know (you’re pregnant), you’ll make the right decision.” When asked about whether he’d also thought about making condoms readily available, he said no, because the message the state would be sending would be different. Instead of encouraging people to make a good decision, he said free condoms send the message, “’Here, use this, because you are not going to control yourself.’”

I don’t agree with that philosophy AT ALL. If your goal is protect unborn children from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I think if you’re going to give out pregnancy tests, why not give out condoms that could potentially prevent women who are drinking from getting pregnant in the first place?

Drinking while pregnant is a huge issue, and one worth talking about again and again because it’s been proven that drinking during pregnancy can cause miscarriages, premature births, and fetal alcohol syndrome, which can lead to low birth weights, birth defects and learning and behavioral disorders.

A respected study from 2012 shows that as little as two drinks a week in the first trimester can increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage. Of course, you might be thinking, “I had a few drinks before I found out I was pregnant and everything is still fine with my baby,” but once you know, why risk anything bad happening to your baby over the craving for a glass of wine? I know I can wait the nine months!

I’m sure people will have a lot to say about whether these pregnancy tests should be government funded (is that what you’d want your tax money going towards?), but I’m not opposed to pregnancy tests being accessible in bars. As I mentioned in my last post on the topic, having these tests in public bathrooms will probably contribute to even longer bathroom lines. (Is that faint line really a line? Let me do it again! You know what I’m talking about!) But I think having to hold it a little longer is worth it if it means someone finds out they’re pregnant and chooses not to drink that night. Don’t you?

Wondering if you’re pregnant? Answer a few questions and find if you might be.

TELL US: Should pregnancy tests in bars be government-funded? Would you take a pregnancy test in a bar? Why or why not?

Alcohol During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Alcohol During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Alcohol During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?

Image of pregnancy test courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Women Who Drink While Pregnant Could be Healthier?

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

While everyone seems to be on the same page that binge drinking is definitely not a good idea while pregnant (it can lead to a miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects or developmental disabilities), some people have questioned whether or not light drinking is okay. The latest on that bandwagon is a new study out of Denmark claims that women who consume small amounts of alcohol while pregnant are actually healthier in many ways than women who don’t. The study is a bit problematic, but first, let’s go over the data.

Researchers examined more than 63,000 pregnant Danish women and found that those who admitted to being light drinkers during their pregnancies were more likely to exercise; have a body mass index in the normal range; eat more fish; and drink less soda compared to those who abstained from drinking. That’s all fine and good (we love healthy moms!) but what does this have to do with the baby’s health? A respected study from 2012 shows that as little as two drinks a week in the first trimester can increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage. In my book, the risk of losing your baby entirely is far worse than the risk of a slightly higher body mass index!

In another study, researchers looked at 1,600 children in Denmark, considering the ability of the 5-year-olds to pay attention. The researchers found no negative effects on children whose mothers reported drinking up to eight drinks per week. But again, this data only focuses on the children who were born from those mothers who drank–those who survived the pregnancy. It’s harsh to say, but true that they couldn’t exactly survey those who didn’t make it through until labor day.

The truth is that differences between individual women, such as genetic or metabolic differences, likely influence the effect of alcohol on a fetus. Whereas some research has suggested that drinking does not harm babies, according to an article in Live Science, researchers say “nothing causes problems in 100 percent of exposed babies.” Because of that, most pediatricians and health organizations recommend pregnant women avoid alcohol entirely, as there’s no sure way to determine how any one child might be affected.

I feel like this debate could go on a lifetime. While most doctors across the board say not to drink while you’re pregnant (and Parents as a whole advises against it since any data saying it’s “safe” just isn’t strong enough), I’ve had friends whose doctors have prescribed a half glass of red wine when they’ve had constant Braxton Hicks contractions late in their pregnancy. The theory? The wine will relax them and therefore the muscles in the uterus, causing the annoying (not really painful) contractions to stop. Plus, there’s thinking that alcohol is less dangerous in the third trimester than in the first half of the pregnancy.

Even though this study, and a brash new book now say there is no evidence drinking just a little while pregnant will harm your baby, I’m too much of a scaredy cat (which actually might be a good thing during pregnancy!) that I’d never take the risk. To think that something could go wrong with a child of mine over a drink that I really didn’t need, would be too much guilt for me to bear. But like everything else in life, it’s an individual decision, and one a woman needs to make for herself after being fully informed.

TELL US: Do you think it’s ok to drink while pregnant? Have you been? Would you judge a woman if you saw her drinking a glass of wine at dinner?

NEXT: Pregnant or know someone who is? Make that baby shower easy with our free party planner!

Image of pregnant woman with wine courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Pregnancy Miracle Foods? Maybe!

Monday, October 7th, 2013

When you’re pregnant, a big chunk of your time is consumed with thoughts of food. Pregnancy food cravings are intense (sweet, salty, spicy, sour—and sometimes you want all four of them at once!). Then there’s the list of things you should and shouldn’t eat when you’re expecting that can really start to freak you out—especially if you’re a first-time mama who wants to make sure she’s doing everything right. But it’s hard to know exactly what to do when there are always new studies coming out that debunk everything you’ve read in the past (the latest is that eating fish while pregnant probably isn’t a huge mercury risk after all).

Well now a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition says that eating garlic in the early stages of pregnancy reduces the risk of premature birth by 30 percent, and eating raisins and other dried fruits towards the end of pregnancy also contributes to women having full-term births. The researchers at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital studied 20,000 pregnant women’s diets to come to these conclusions about foods that help prevent premature births.

But you have to take these findings with a grain of salt because the researchers say that more studies on the subject are necessary before they encourage all pregnant women to change their dietary habits since at this point they’re not sure why garlic and dried fruits would have any effect on a woman’s gestational length. So no need to buy the possible super foods in bulk just yet, but if you already like eating garlic and dried fruit there’s certainly no harm in beefing up your intake, don’t you think?

TELL US: In light of these findings, will you add garlic and dried fruits to your pregnancy diet?

 Image of pregnant woman eating courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Everyone’s Having Twins (& It’s Not Just IVF!)

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Fertility infertility twinsI’m sure I’m not alone in noticing there’s a major twin trend happening right now. I have three friends who’ve all given birth to twins within the last year, and stars like Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, and Angelina Jolie’s twins are paparazzi favorites. We as a society just can’t seem to get enough of twins. Why? It’s simple. Because there’s twice as much to love!

The double baby boom has been a long time coming. Between 1980 and 2009, the rate of multiple births increased by 76 percent. As of 2012, about one in 30 babies born in the United States is a twin. Two-thirds of the increase is likely due to the growing use of IVF. The remainder is mainly attributed to a rise in the average age women give birth. Older women are more likely to produce more than one egg in a cycle, and 35 percent of births in 2009 were to women over age 30, up from 20 percent in 1980 (This age-induced increase applies only to fraternal twins, though; the rate of identical twin births does not change with the age of the mother).

Due to IVF, many moms-to-be are faced with the question: How many fertilized eggs do I want implanted in my uterus? One is the safest for both mom and baby, but many couples who’ve suffered with infertility are afraid to rely on a single egg per try. Aside from it being a costly process (usually around $10-15k per cycle), the thinking is the more embryos the higher chance of pregnancy. But according to Dr. Amos Grunebaum, a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist at Weill Cornell, having multiple embryos implanted during IVF doesn’t necessarily increase your chances of pregnancy, it simply increases your chances of being pregnant with multiples.

In fact, when a woman carries more than one fetus, it’s less likely that she’ll be able to carry that pregnancy to term. Dr. Grunebaum thinks mothers should ask for only one embryo to be implanted because of the health risks involved with having multiples for both the babies and the moms (In some European countries it’s actually illegal for docs to implant more than one embryo because of the risks it poses to the mother’s health).

About 60 percent of twins are born prematurely (at an average of 35 weeks). More than half of twins are born at less than 5.5 pounds. Low birthweight babies—especially those born before 32 weeks and/or weighing less than 3.5 pounds—are at an increased risk for breathing, vision, hearing and heart problems.

Mothers expecting twins are in danger too. They are more than twice as likely to develop preeclampsia, a mix of high blood pressure, protein in the urine and general swelling that can be dangerous for both mom and baby. Gestational diabetes—which can cause the baby to be larger—is also common, and can increase risks of injury to mom and baby during vaginal births, and can lead to poor feeding, jaundice, breathing problems and seizures in infants. And, finally, women due with twins are more likely to need a cesarean section, which is a more evasive birth with a higher chance of hemorrhaging during and after delivery, and requires a longer period of recovery.

The stress of twins is not over once they’re born, either. Two babies at the same time means more feedings, diaper changes, and temper tantrums. More clothes, gear and childcare, which can add up to be very pricy. But it also means twice the smiles, hugs and giggles too. While the moms of twins I know love having twins, they’ll be the first to tell you it’s an awful lot of hard work—that goes far beyond picking out perfectly coordinated outfits. So think twice before you decide to implant yourself with more than one egg. You might not be ready for what you’re wishing for.

TELL US: Would you want twins? If you have them, how are you dealing with double the work, double the pleasure?

Image of twins courtesy of Shutterstock.

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When to Get Pregnant: Are Certain Months Better?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

when to get pregnantAs if getting pregnant wasn’t already enough of a struggle for some women, we’re also worried about when to get pregnant. New research claims that there is a best time to get pregnant, because data shows the month you conceive may make a difference in the health of your baby. According to findings, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, getting pregnant in spring raises your chances of having a baby born prematurely, but if you hold off on getting pregnant till summer you are likely to have a baby with a healthier birth weight.

Within the study, they collected data on 1.4 million births to nearly 650,000 moms in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Then they looked at children who were born at different times of year but from the same moms, so socioeconomic status or environmental variables couldn’t influence the findings.

The study found that when babies are conceived in May, they are 10 percent more likely to be born prematurely (before 37 weeks of gestation). Premature birth is usually linked to lower birth weight, and a number of other complications including underdeveloped lungs, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Pneumonia, Anemia, infections and Jaundice (amongst others) that may continue to cause health problems throughout their lives.

In contrast, summertime conceptions end up translating to healthier birth weights by 8-9 grams, or the equivalent of .2-.3 oz. It doesn’t seem like a huge impact to me, but researchers clearly think this makes a big difference in the future health of children. The study doesn’t seem to make any conclusions for baby’s conceived in the fall or winter, when my son came into being, so I’ll just assume he’s perfect as is (what I’ve been saying all along!).

While this study seems a little odd—we all know happy, healthy people born throughout the year, right?—if it might actually make a difference, is it worth trying to conceive in the summer just to be safe?

TELL US: Will this study affect when you try to get pregnant?

Image of baby courtesy of Shutterstock.

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