You shouldn’t need more data on the dangers of smoking, but here’s some anyway. A study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research finds that smoking around your toddler may be just as harmful to your child as smoking during pregnancy.
Canadian researchers found that by age 10, children exposed to secondhand smoke as toddlers tended to have wider waists and a higher body mass index (a calculation of body fat) than children not exposed to the smoke. This excess weight develops just when it could have serious long-term consequences. “Early childhood exposure to secondhand smoke could be influencing endocrine [hormone] imbalances and altering neurodevelopmental functioning at this critical period in … development, thus damaging vital systems which undergo important postnatal growth and development until middle childhood,” the researchers said.
Household smoke could negatively influence children’s immune, neurodevelopmental and cardiovascular processes. These systems are more vulnerable than those of adults to the toxic effects of secondhand smoke, they say, and they conclude that public health programs should educate parents on the importance of eliminating young children’s exposure to secondhand smoke.
If someone in your home smokes, help him or her to quit.
Is exercise good for pregnant women? A report from Spanish researchers offers new evidence that the answer is yes. Looking at the experience of more than 2,800 women, they found that exercise reduced the risk of developing gestational diabetes and also helped limit weight gain.
The report, a review of 13 previous studies that was published in BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, looked at what happened when the women participated in exercise programs. “The moderate levels of exercise used in these studies had significantly positive effects on health and were found to be safe for both mother and baby,” said lead author Gema Sanabria-Martinez of Virgen de la Luz Hospital in Cuenca, Spain.
Women who exercised throughout pregnancy reduced their risk of gestational diabetes by 36 percent, the investigators found. The benefits were strongest among women who combined toning, strength, flexibility and aerobic exercise. Women who exercised during pregnancy were about two pounds lighter than women who didn’t.
“This careful analysis of previous studies shows a beneficial effect of exercise on healthy pregnant women who ordinarily did little or no exercise,” said journal deputy editor-in-chief Mike Marsh. “It may influence recommendations for exercise in pregnancy in such women.”
We recently posted a report that delaying cutting the umbilical cord may improve a child’s development. A new study adds evidence for the importance of not only waiting to cut the cord, but also using a technique to increase the flow of blood from the umbilical cord into the infant’s circulatory system before cutting.
The technique, called “cord milking,” improves blood pressure and red blood-cell levels in preterm infants delivered by cesarean section, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published online in Pediatrics.
Cord milking consists of encircling the cord with thumb and forefingers, gently squeezing and slowly pushing the blood through the cord to the infant’s abdomen. For infants delivered by cesarean, cord milking appears to offer benefits over the standard practice of waiting 45 to 60 seconds before clamping and then cutting the umbilical cord. These benefits, which include greater blood flow to and from the heart, higher red blood- cell level and higher blood pressure, were seen only in the infants delivered by cesarean. Among a smaller number of vaginal births, the researchers found no difference in blood volume between infants undergoing cord milking and those undergoing delayed cord clamping.
In 2012, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended a 30- to 60-second delay before clamping the umbilical cord in all preterm deliveries. It is thought that this allows sufficient time for blood from the umbilical cord to fill the blood vessels in the infant’s lungs. The organization has not made a recommendation on when to clamp the umbilical cord in term births, so physicians typically use their best judgment on the timing of cord clamping in term infants.
This post has a bit of a yuck factor, so stop here if you are easily grossed out.
You may have heard that Kardashian and some other famous new moms chose to eat their placenta after giving birth, for a variety of supposed health benefits. This practice may be trendy among some celebrimoms, but it’s not recommended—in fact, it may carry unknown risks to mothers and infants, according to researchers from Northwestern University.
The researchers reviewed 10 previously published studies and found no data to support the notion that eating the placenta—whether raw, cooked or in pill form—protects against postpartum depression, reduces pain after childbirth, increases a woman’s energy, helps with lactation, improves mother-child bonding, replenishes iron in the body or improves skin elasticity. And there are no studies looking into the risks associated with eating the placenta, which acts as a filter to absorb toxins and pollutants.
“There are no regulations as to how the placenta is stored and prepared, and the dosing is inconsistent,” the researchers said. “Women really don’t know what they are ingesting.”
The review was published in the journal Archives of Women’s Mental Health.
The legalized use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes is spreading throughout the country, but it still poses health risks. That’s why the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently recommended that doctors discourage pregnant women from using marijuana. Pot’s active ingredients can have on negative impact on a child’s brain development, according to the new guidelines.
“When you look at the evidence, it leads us to exercise caution in marijuana use during pregnancy,” said Jeffrey Ecker, M.D., chair of AGOG’s committee on obstetric practice. “For women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, we would encourage them to discontinue using marijuana.”
According to the new report, past studies have found that children exposed to marijuana in the womb have lower scores on tests of visual problem-solving, visual and motor coordination and visual analysis, along with decreased attention span and behavioral problems, compared with kids not exposed to pot.
ACOG says that marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug during pregnancy, with roughly half of female marijuana users continuing to use during pregnancy. The new recommendations, published in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, suggest that doctors counsel women to not use marijuana during pregnancy or breast-feeding, and to share with their patients the potential risks associated with pot.
Lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue, mostly strikes women in their 20s or 30s—during their peak childbearing years. Typically, these women were told that becoming pregnant was unsafe. But new research shows that when the disease is well controlled, women usually have healthy pregnancies and babies.
The study, published in the June 23 online edition of Annals of Internal Medicine, was conducted at eight U.S. and one Canadian medical center and is the largest one on pregnancy outcomes for women with lupus. It followed 385 pregnant women with lupus and found that 81 percent gave birth to a full-term, normal-weight baby.
That’s not to say it’s easy for women with lupus. Overall, 19 percent of the study participants had an “adverse outcome,” such as stillbirth, preterm delivery or an underweight baby. But the risk varied depending on several factors, such as using blood pressure medications or having antibodies called lupus anticoagulants, which can cause blood clots.
Most women did not have lupus flare-ups during pregnancy, but those who did faced a higher complication risk. And African American and Hispanic women had higher risks—27 percent and 21 percent, respectively—for some type of pregnancy complication.
Previously, doctors were concerned that pregnancy would cause a woman’s symptoms to flare up and that the baby would be at risk. This study, though, finds that if you plan ahead and control your symptoms well, your odds of having a healthy pregnancy and baby are great.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) cause a wide range of health problems, among them infertility, but also irregular menstrual cycles, obesity, diabetes and depression. A review of medical literature, however, has found that women with PCOS can manage some of these symptoms by changes in lifestyle combined with taking the drug metformin.
The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction Update, involved 608 participants aged 12–39 across nine studies. They were given dietary behavior education and access to fitness centers alone or with placebo, and compared to those given metformin hydrochloride with a change in lifestyle.
When lifestyle changes were combined with metformin, which has long been used to treat diabetes by controlling blood sugar and helping with weight management, subjects lost more weight, had a lower body mass index (BMI) and showed improved menstruation.
“The key take-home messages are that while lifestyle management is the first and most important step in the management of PCOS, the addition of metformin to lifestyle modification appears to provide additional advantages in improving BMI and menstrual cyclicity in the medium term,” the authors state.
If your baby is born prematurely, you may feel helpless. But you can help—enormously. Recent research proves it.
One study, published in the Journal of Perinatology, found that an intervention to teach mothers of preterm infants how to interact with their babies results in better weight gain and growth for the infants. Another, published in Advances in Neonatal Care, revealed that a major component of the same intervention helps infants develop the muscle control to bottle-feed more successfully.
The intervention is called H-HOPE, for Hospital to Home Transition—Optimizing Premature Infant’s Environment. In it, mothers are taught to recognize and respond to their infant’s hunger cues, which are subtler than those of full-term babies. They were also taught how to give such social and physical stimulation as soothing talk and gentle massages to encourage neurological development.
The researchers trained about half of 183 mothers and their preterm infants, born from the 29th through the 34th week of pregnancy, in the H-HOPE intervention. Those mothers were visited by a nurse-community health advocate team twice while in the hospital to teach them the intervention, and twice at home after their infants had been discharged. Infants who received the H-HOPE intervention weighed more and grew more rapidly in length, especially during the last five days of their hospital stay, on average, than those who didn’t.
If your child is born prematurely, be sure to talk to your neonatal intensive care team about helping your child thrive.
Researchers in China noticed that babies born around the 2008 Beijing Olympics tended to weigh more at birth than those born in the years before and after the games. They wanted to find out why, and the reason may be as clear as air: The Chinese government aggressively reduced air pollution levels during the Olympics.
Air pollution can lead to inflammation in mothers, altered function of the placenta and fewer nutrients reaching unborn babies, all of which can affect a baby’s growth, the researchers state. “The results of this study demonstrate a clear association between changes in air pollutant concentrations and birth weight,” said study author David Rich, an epidemiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “These findings not only illustrate one of the many significant health consequences of pollution, but also demonstrate that this phenomenon can be reversed.”
The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, examines what happened when the Chinese government restricted the use of cars and trucks, closed factories, slowed construction projects and even seeded clouds to trigger rainfall leading up to the games, and then withdrew these restrictions and initiatives after the competition ended.
During the restriction period, air quality improved in many ways—for example, there was a 48 percent drop in carbon monoxide levels. Data from more than 83,000 full-term births in Beijing found that those born around the Olympics were about eight ounces heavier than those born one year earlier or one year later. “While Beijing’s pollution is particularly noteworthy, many of the world’s other cities face similar air quality problems,” study co-author Junfeng Zhang of Duke Global Health Institute and Duke Kunshan University said in the news release. “This study shows that pollution controls—even short-term ones—can have positive public health benefits.”
“How much does infertility treatment cost?”
“Are there treatments that can help my husband, who has a low sperm count?”
“I had a pregnancy termination in college. Will that affect my fertility?”
“How old is too old to have a baby?”
These are just some of the questions that women and their partners have about fertility care and treatment. If you have such questions, we are here to answer.
As a first step, please check out the “Frequently Asked Questions” page on our web site. You may also contact us for a free consultation.
Don’t be confused—get the answers you need to start your fertility journey today.