New podcast by Dr. Ziegler examines recurrent pregnancy loss

Recurrent miscarriage, also known as recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL), is defined as two or more consecutive miscarriages, a miscarriage being the spontaneous loss of a clinically recognized pregnancy before the 20th week. The good news, though, is that about two-thirds of women who have suffered RPL have a successful pregnancy in subsequent efforts.

In our latest podcast, William Ziegler, D.O., explains how a healthy lifestyle can help improve your odds: Getting moderate exercise, controlling weight, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol and caffeine intake may be beneficial in avoiding RPL.

Click here to listen.

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Fertility calculators? Don’t believe the app

Are you looking for a website or digital application to help you calculate your peak fertility? Don’t bother. A study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that such gadgets are often incorrect.

Researchers at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City tested 53 fertility calculators, but only four accurately predicted a hypothetical woman’s “precise fertile window.”

To calculate fertility, women typically use the date of their last menstrual period and the average length of their cycles. The researchers used the same date for the last menstrual period and an average menstrual cycle length of 28 days in 20 websites and 33 apps that were the top results in an online search. A woman’s “fertile window”—the best time to have sex—includes the day she ovulates and the five days before that. For a woman with a menstrual cycle of 28 days, that would be days 10 through 15.

Only one website and three apps came up with that fertile window. The others, said lead researcher Robert Setton, M.D., “were all over the place.” He added, “I’d recommend that consumers be cautious, and not completely rely on these sites and apps.”

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Triplets, quadruplets become less common

Since 1998, multiple births of three or more babies at once have fallen by more than 40 percent in the United States, and in seven states—including New Jersey—the rates declined by more than 50 percent, according to a recent government statistical analysis.

The falloff appears to be connected to changes in infertility treatments, which result in multiple births far less often now than they did in the 1980s and 1990s, experts said.

For the report, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, researchers examined birth statistics in 46 states and Washington, D.C., from 1998 to 2014. The researchers found that births of triplets, quadruplets or more babies fell 41 percent, from 7,625 in 1998, when such births peaked, to 4,526 in 2014, reaching a rate of one in every 880 births.

In seven states—Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Rhode Island—the rate of these births fell by at least half, the study findings showed.

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Dr. Martinez discusses PCOS in new podcast

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormone disorder in women and also a leading cause of infertility. According to WomensHealth.gov, 10 to 20 percent of women of childbearing age suffer from PCOS.

PCOS is also one of the most underdiagnosed diseases in the world, with less than 25 percent of women with PCOS being diagnosed. PCOS is characterized by seemingly unrelated symptoms and may include irregular or absent periods, lack of ovulation, weight gain, acne, excessive facial hair and infertility.

There is no cure for PCOS yet, but medications used to induce ovulation may help women with PCOS get pregnant. Alan Martinez, M.D., answers questions relating to PCOS in our latest podcast, which you can hear here.

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Do older moms make healthier kids?

Maybe so, a new study suggests. Although older women face higher risks of pregnancy complications and problems, their children seem to fare better in some ways over the long run, says the research, published in the journal Population and Development Review.

Using data on more than 1.5 million Swedish adults, researchers found that the children born to mothers who were in their late 30s or 40s tended to be taller, fitter and more educated than those born to younger moms.

A woman who gives birth in her 40s rather than her 20s faces higher risks of pregnancy complications and problems for her baby, including Down syndrome and autism.

But her child is also born 20 years later, said researcher Mikko Myrskyla, executive director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, in Rostock, Germany, and head of its Laboratory of Population Health.

“Over a period of 20 years, most developed countries have seen strong expansion of education, improvements in health and increases in height,” Myrskyla explained. The potential disadvantages of being born to an older mom, he said, may be more than offset by the advantages of being born in a later time period.

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Is social status harming fertility?

Yes, says a new study that links status competition with lower fertility rates.

“The areas were we see the greatest declines in fertility are areas with modern labor markets that have intense competition for jobs and an overwhelming diversity of consumer goods available to signal well-being and social status,” says senior author Paul Hooper, Ph.D., an anthropologist at Emory University. “The fact that many countries today have so much social inequality—which makes status competition more intense—may be an important part of the explanation.”

The study authors developed a mathematical model showing that their argument is plausible from a biological point of view. “Our model shows that as competition becomes more focused on social climbing, as opposed to just putting food on the table, people invest more in material goods and achieving social status, and that affects how many children they have,” Hooper says.

The study is featured in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B devoted to how evolutionary approaches can help solve the puzzle of why human fertility varies substantially.

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10 years of ‘painting the town pink’

Paint the Town Pink, a month-long event dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of annual mammography across Monmouth and Ocean counties, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. RSCNJ is a business participant in Paint the Town Pink, and we urge everyone to get involved throughout the month of May.

Paint the Town Pink is collaboration between Meridian Health and towns in its area to promote breast cancer prevention, detection and treatment and to raise funds to provide free screening mammography for uninsured and underserved women in the community.

Throughout May, women who visit Pink Partners—participating organizations—can pledge to have their annual mammogram and to contribute toward another woman’s mammogram through pink donation banks.

Please join us in helping our community Paint the Town Pink. Learn more at the organization’s Facebook page and website.

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A week just for women’s health

The 17th annual National Women’s Health Week, which kicked off on Mother’s Day, May 8, is celebrated through May 14, 2016. It’s an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. The goal is to empower women to make their health a priority. The week also serves as a time to help women understand what steps they can take to improve their health.

Check out the web site Womenshealth.gov to learn the steps you can take to improve your health at any age.

Then go to this page to find tools to help you spread the message about women’s health through social media outlets.

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First U.S. uterine transplant fails

This past February, the Cleveland Clinic reported that surgeons there had performed the nation’s first uterus transplant, an experimental procedure offering women without a womb the possibility of pregnancy. Sadly, the patient developed complications, and the transplanted organ was removed in March.

The Cleveland Clinic stated in April that, according to preliminary results, the complication was due to an infection caused by an organism that is commonly found in a woman’s reproductive system. “The infection appears to have compromised the blood supply to the uterus, causing the need for its removal,” the clinic reported. “There is an ongoing review of all the data and the team is modifying the protocol to reduce the chances of this complication occurring again in the future. The health of our patient is and has always been our primary concern.”

The patient, referred to as “Lindsey,” is doing well and recovering. “I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude towards all of my doctors,” she said. “They acted very quickly to ensure my health and safety. Unfortunately I did lose the uterus to complications. However, I am doing okay and appreciate all of your prayers and good thoughts.”

The study, which has been planned to include 10 women, is still ongoing, “with a commitment to the advancement of medical research to provide an additional option for women and their families,” the hospital says.

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Surviving childhood cancer: Good news, bad news

Women who survive childhood cancer after receiving chemotherapy stand a good chance of having children, but the chances seem less good for men, a new study in the journal Lancet Oncology finds.

More than 80 percent of children with cancer survive into adulthood, so their ability to have children is a major concern, the researchers noted. “We think these results will be encouraging for most women who were treated with chemotherapy in childhood,” said Eric Chow, M.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. “However, I think we, as pediatric oncologists, still need to do a better job discussing fertility and fertility preservation options with patients and families upfront before starting cancer treatment.”

“In particular, all boys diagnosed post-puberty should be encouraged to bank their sperm to maximize their reproductive options in the future,” he said in a journal news release.

The new study included nearly 11,000 men and women in the United States and Canada who had been diagnosed with the most common types of childhood cancer and had survived at least five years. They were compared with more than 3,900 siblings who had not been diagnosed with cancer. By age 45, 70 percent of female cancer survivors had become pregnant, compared with more than 80 percent of female siblings. By that age, 50 percent of male cancer survivors had fathered a child, compared with 80 percent of male siblings, the study found.

A journal editorial said the findings should help doctors provide more accurate information to patients about their individual risks.

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