Fish oil during pregnancy may cut asthma risk in child

A new clinical trial suggests that women who take fish oil during their third trimester of pregnancy might cut their children’s risk of developing asthma by as much as one-third. The fish oil dose was high, with fatty acid levels that were 15 to 20 times more than the average American gets from food, but there were no significant side effects, according the research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Other research has suggested that fish oils DHA and EPA can make the airways less prone to inflammation. For the study, researchers in Denmark randomly assigned 736 pregnant women to take either fish oil capsules or a placebo every day during the third trimester. The placebo capsules contained olive oil. Children in the fish-oil group were about one-third less likely to develop asthma or persistent wheezing, a sign of asthma in very young children. By the age of 5, nearly 17 percent were diagnosed with either condition, versus almost one-quarter of children in the placebo group.

However, some children seemed to benefit more than others, depending on which mothers had the lowest DHA/EPA intake to begin with and which carried a gene variant that causes lower DHA/EPA levels in the blood. Also unknown is what the best point in pregnancy to start fish oil is, what is the optimal dose is, and whether the high dosage has any negative longer-term effects.

Talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement like fish oil.

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Pelvic inflammatory disease related to number of sexual partners

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an often symptomless infection of the reproductive system, poses long-term threats to fertility, including ectopic pregnancy, when an embryo implants in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. A new report has found that about 2.5 million American women have had PID, and women who had 10 or more male sex partners experienced the disease three times as often as women with a single partner.

The reason: most cases of are caused by the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) chlamydia and gonorrhea, researchers said. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most commonly reported STDs in the United States. About 1.5 million chlamydia and 400,000 gonorrhea infections were reported in 2015. These infections often don’t cause symptoms and may go undiagnosed and untreated, according to the study.

When symptoms do occur, they may include persistent abdominal pain, fever, abnormal vaginal discharge, or pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse. The good news, though, is that, “Pelvic inflammatory disease can be treated, as well as the STD that caused it,” said study author Kristen Kreisel, an epidemiologist with the Division of STD Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, she added, “the structural damage that occurs because of PID is often irreversible. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of it.”

To do that, work with your doctor to follow regular STD screening guidelines.

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Study finds obese men can impair couple’s fertility too

Couples in which both partners are obese may take from 55 to 59 percent longer to achieve pregnancy, compared to their normal weight counterparts, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health that appear in Human Reproduction.

“A lot of studies on fertility and body composition have focused on the female partner, but our findings underscore the importance of including both partners,” said Rajeshwari Sundaram, Ph.D., a senior investigator in the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “Our results also indicate that fertility specialists may want to consider couples’ body compositions when counseling patients.”

The authors concluded that couples’ obesity may reduce fertility chances and that fertility specialists may want to take couples’ weight status into account when counseling them about achieving pregnancy. In addition to the health benefits of a healthy weight for reducing risk of other diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, taking steps to lose weight may help reduce the time needed to conceive.

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Have a happy Valentine’s Day—but go easy on the chocolate

Valentine’s Day may be a great excuse to indulge your sweet tooth, but if you’re pregnant or nursing, don’t go overboard. Along with the empty sugar and calories, chocolate contains caffeine. Caffeine can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, and it can pass to your baby through your placenta and breast milk.

Studies are inconclusive as to whether caffeine is safe for a growing baby. The March of Dimes says that, “until we know more about how caffeine can affect pregnancy, it’s best to limit the amount you get to 200 milligrams each day. This is about the amount in 1½ 8-ounce cups of coffee or one 12-ounce cup of coffee.”

The good news is that it takes a lot of chocolate to reach 200 milligrams:

• Hot cocoa mix: 8 to 12 mg

• Dark chocolate: 30 mg

• Milk chocolate 11 mg

• Chocolate syrup: 3 mg

So take that into account, along with any coffee, tea or other caffeinated products you consume, when you dip into your box of bonbons on Valentine’s Day.

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Thanks for a great review

A patient of ours shares her experiences:

“I was referred to The Reproductive Science Center of NJ by my OBGYN. My husband and I knew at our consultation that we would be in good hands. We began our journey a couple months later and the experience was exactly what we had hoped for. Everyone who works there is professional and caring from the administration to the nurses and doctors. Every time I went in for an appointment I had a positive experience. I am lucky enough now to be 7 months pregnant!! I am so grateful for The Reproductive Science Center of NJ and their talented doctors. I have referred friends and family to them as well, knowing that they will be in good hands.”

Please visit our web site to read more reviews like this, by clicking here.

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Does day or month of delivery affect birth outcomes?

In a study to be presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting, in Houston, Texas, researchers found that “the weekend effect” does correlate with poorer delivery outcomes—but not enough to worry about. The “July effect” does not seem to exist at all.

The researchers analyzed more than 45 million pregnancies in the U.S. between 2004 and 2014 to determine if there are significant differences in maternal deaths and stillborn deliveries depending on the day they occurred. The study found a slightly increased risk of death among mothers who delivered over the weekend: about 21 per 100,000 deliveries, compared with about 15 per 100,000 during the week.

“The actual differences in the risk of death are extremely small, and the majority of women are going to be fine no matter when they deliver,” lead researcher Dr. Steven Clark, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told HealthDay. He said that women don’t need to think: “Oh gosh, I’m going into labor on Saturday, I’m going to die.”

His team of researchers also looked at months of the year including “July phenomenon,” the month of the year that is associated with an increased risk of medical errors and surgical complications that occurs in association with the time of year in which United States medical school graduates begin residencies. The researchers found no association between maternal-fetal mortality and July.

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“I would recommend RSCNJ to anyone!”

A new mom we helped writes:

“This is a little late as my son is now 8 months old, but better late than never right! Dr. Ziegler was phenomenal from beginning to end. Along with the rest of his staff we got through quite a few bumps and couldn’t have done it without them. The experience was always made as comfortable as this experience can be, which was so important to me because my battery level was low. I never thought I would be sitting here writing this and watching my baby boy sleeping like the angel he is. It was all worth everything. I would recommend Reproductive Science Center of NJ to anyone over and over! I actually have, and just may come back and try for baby number 2!”

We hope you do, and thanks for the kind words. You can read more reviews on our web site. 

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Podcast discusses the role of a gestational carrier

When a woman cannot carry a healthy pregnancy, she can turn to a gestational carrier. This surrogate who carries a pregnancy created from the egg and sperm of the parents.

The eggs (oocytes) of the biological mother are inseminated with sperm of her partner, fertilized, grown to embryos in a Petri dish and then placed into the gestational carrier in a process similar to IVF.

In our new podcast, Hina Ahmed, physician assistant, explains how the Reproductive Science Center of New Jersey will coordinate the care of the biological parents and gestational carrier for a couple wishing to have children. Listen to the podcast here.

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Are fish safe to eat when pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes—most fish, anyway, according to new guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The guidelines are intended to help women who are pregnant or may become pregnant – as well as breastfeeding mothers and parents of young children – make informed choices when it comes to fish that are low in mercury and therefore healthy and safe to eat.

The guidelines sort 62 types of fish and shellfish into three categories: “best choices” (eat two to three servings a week), “good choices” (eat one serving a week) and “fish to avoid.” The good news: Fish in the “best choices” category make up nearly 90 percent of fish eaten in the United States.

An FDA analysis found that 50 percent of pregnant women surveyed ate fewer than 2 ounces a week, far less than the amount recommended. Because the nutritional benefits of eating fish are important for growth and development during pregnancy and early childhood, the agencies are advising and promoting a minimum level of fish consumption for these groups. The advice recommends 2-3 servings of lower-mercury fish per week, or 8 to 12 ounces.

Choices lower in mercury include some of the most commonly eaten fish, such as shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod. The seven types of fish to avoid, because they typically have higher mercury levels, are tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico; shark; swordfish; orange roughy; bigeye tuna; marlin; and king mackerel.

“Fish are an important source of protein and other nutrients for young children and women who are or may become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. This advice clearly shows the great diversity of fish in the U.S. market that they can consume safely,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Stephen Ostroff, M.D. “This new, clear and concrete advice is an excellent tool for making safe and healthy choices when buying fish.”

To read more, go to this FDA web page.

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New podcast: Fertility preservation and elective egg freezing

Women who come for fertility treatment at the Reproductive Science Center of New Jersey can partake in several options of fertility preservation for women, including freezing eggs or embryos. This technology can give a woman the potential to conceive in the future should she be unable to become pregnant naturally.

In our latest podcast, Dr. William Ziegler explains the elective egg freezing process. Listen to it by clicking here. 

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