Posts Tagged ‘ Premature Births ’

Take THIS to Reduce Your Risk of Preeclampsia

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

If you’re like I was when I was pregnant, I was reading everything about pregnancy that I could get my hands on. It was great to be informed, but at times I thought I’d drive myself crazy trying to self-diagnose what I was feeling after reading all of the various ways pregnancies can be complicated (for the record I developed gestational diabetes but otherwise had a healthy pregnancy, and a very healthy son).

One of the big baddies is preeclampsia, a condition usually occurring after 20 weeks of pregnancy and characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine, liver disease and blood-clotting abnormalities. Nearly seven million pregnant women suffer from it a year (including stars like Angelina Jolie, Faith Hill and Jennifer Lopez and rumor has it Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears had it too), and it’s the leading cause of death in pregnant women.

When a pregnant woman develops preeclampsia in the second trimester, her infant often must be delivered prematurely to avoid severe maternal complications, like stroke (similar to the eclampsia death on Downtown Abbey).

But there’s a silver lining to this Debbie Downer of a disease. To prevent the dangerous disorder, The U.S. Preventative Service Task Force is recommending 81 milligrams of low-dose aspirin daily—after 12 weeks of gestation—for pregnant women at high risk. Women are considered high risk if they’ve had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy, are expecting multiples, or if they have a history of diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease.

This recommendation follows other medical organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Heart Association , which have also advised that high-risk women use low-dose aspirin.

However, the task force also recommends that expectant women with multiple moderate-risk factors may also benefit from low-dose aspirin. These risks include obesity, a family history of preeclampsia, women older than 35, and African-American women.

Research shows that “low-dose aspirin every day lowers the risk of preeclampsia by 24 percent,” says Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, the co-vice chair of USPSTF. “And it lowers the risk of pre-term birth by 14 percent.”

As always, consult your doctor before taking any medicine—including over-the-counter drugs—while pregnant.

TELL US: Have you ever developed preeclampsia while pregnant? Share your story.

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Swelling During Pregnancy: When to Worry
Swelling During Pregnancy: When to Worry
Swelling During Pregnancy: When to Worry

Image of pregnant woman courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Big News On Diet Coke & Premature Births

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

When I was pregnant, I wasn’t allowed many vices. Of course I wasn’t drinking alcohol, and I don’t drink coffee anyway, and rarely have caffeine except through my made-up fifth food group, chocolate. Because I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, chocolate and any other sugary indulgences were out (as was white flour, which nixed most restaurant pastas, breads and pizzas). So, my special treat—one I don’t think I could have given up—was caffeine-free Diet Coke. That was and still is my drug of choice.

My doctor assured me aspartame found in Diet Coke was fine in moderation for pregnant women (limiting it in the same way you would coffee). But over the years there has been research—mostly in rats—that has linked diet sodas to everything from allergic reactions to cancer and even premature births. Not exactly soothing to hear!

So, I was pleased to read a study by the European Food Safety Authority (the equivalent of our FDA) has reiterated what we in the US have been told all along—that aspartame in Diet Coke is safe for consumption during pregnancy. [Note: one exception is moms-to-be who have a genetic disease called phenylketonuria, or PKU. These moms need to avoid aspartame completely because PKU prevents them from breaking down the phenylalanine.] Oh, and The National Cancer Institute says there’s no scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the United States cause cancer or birth defects. Phew!

According to an article in the Daily Mail, “concerns about artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, have centered on the fact that they contain methanol.Methanol is a nerve toxin, which can be metabolized in the body to form formic acid, which is another nerve toxin, as well as formaldehyde, which is the chemical used to preserve dead bodies.” Um, Diet Coke isn’t sounding so tasty right about now.

However, the EFSA panel pointed out that methanol is also found in fruits and vegetables that we eat on a daily basis. So as long as you’re not chugging the stuff 24/7, the main concern with artificial sweeteners and pregnancy seems to come down to nutrition. If you’re drinking a lot of diet sodas (or regular sodas for that matter), you may not be drinking enough water, milk, or juice—all of which have benefits for your developing baby.

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

TELL US: Are you still using artificial sweeteners during your pregnancy, or are you cutting it out of your diet just to be safe?

NEXT: Get the dish on all your pregnancy cravings here!

Image of pregnant woman 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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