Archive for the ‘Planning for Baby’ Category
Could Aspirin help prevent preeclampsia in some women? That’s what a panel of experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is suggesting in this month’s Annals of Internal Medicine. The panel reviewed research and evidence and found that low doses of Aspirin may help prevent preeclampsia in women who are at risk of developing the condition.
Preeclampsia is condition that happens when a pregnant woman has both high blood pressure and protein in her urine. With early and regular prenatal care, most women with preeclampsia can have healthy babies, but it can cause severe problems for moms. Without treatment, preeclampsia can cause kidney, liver and brain damage. It also may affect how the blood clots and cause serious bleeding problems.
No one knows what causes preeclampsia. But some women may be more likely than others to have preeclampsia. Some risks include:
• Having your first baby
• Having preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy
• Having a family history of preeclampsia
• Being pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets or more)
• Being older than 35
• Being overweight or obese
If you’re pregnant and at risk for preeclampsia, talk to your health provider. While the research may be promising, more needs to be done. In the meantime, don’t take any medicine during pregnancy without checking with your health provider first. Learn more about preeclampsia.
Hispanic women have babies at a greater rate each year than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States, making this population the fastest growing group. And now, Spanish-speaking women and families can easily find much-needed information on how to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby online at nacersano.org.
Nacersano.org, the March of Dimes Spanish-language site, offers valuable information on the specific health needs of the Hispanic community, including on the importance of folic acid, a B vitamin that helps prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs).
Babies born to Hispanic women are about 20 percent more likely to have a neural tube defect than non-Hispanic white women. While this disparity is not well understood, one reason may be that Hispanic women have a lower intake of folic acid. In the United States, wheat flour is fortified with folic acid, but corn masa flour is not.
The March of Dimes, through its educational print and online initiatives, is working to raise awareness about the need for folic acid among Hispanic women. All women of childbearing age, whether or not they’re planning to get pregnant, should take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, beginning before pregnancy and continuing into the early months of pregnancy. This is the best way to get the recommended amount of folic acid to prevent NTDs. Eating foods rich in folate (the natural form of folic acid) or fortified with folic acid is another way to consume this essential vitamin.
Visitors to nacersano.org can find dozens of recipes from various Latin America cultures that provide at least 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of folic acid. Users can also submit their own folic acid rich recipes to the site.
“It’s such an easy thing to make folic acid a part of your daily routine, and it can provide a major benefit to your future family,” says José F. Cordero, MD, MPH, dean of the School of Public Health University of Puerto Rico and a member of the March of Dimes national Board of Trustees. “About half of pregnancies are unplanned, so women should take folic acid daily to give your babies the healthiest start in life.”
Nacersano.org also features hundreds of health articles, ovulation and due date calculators, and educational videos to help Hispanic women and families be healthy before, during and after pregnancy.
Visitors can also ask questions about folic acid and nutrition, preconception, pregnancy and baby health. March of Dimes health experts provide personalized answers by email within 48 hours in Spanish and English. Visitors can also sign up to receive monthly free newsletters on preconception and pregnancy health, read and comment on the blog, and stay connected through various social media channels.
So, if you’re more comfortable with the Spanish language, “like” us on Facebook.com/nacersano and follow us on @nacersano and @nacersanobaby on Twitter.
The March of Dimes congratulates CVS Caremark for its historic decision to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in its pharmacies and stores nationwide. By becoming the first U.S. pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco, CVS Caremark has become a pioneer in improving the health of American women and children today and in the future. Tobacco is poisonous to women who smoke and to their unborn babies. Smoking during pregnancy contributes to miscarriage and premature birth, and we learned just last month from the U.S. Surgeon General that smoking is a proven cause of disfiguring oral clefts. We’re grateful to CVS Caremark for working to improve the health and the lives of mothers and babies.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for three or four months, keep trying. It may just take more time, even longer than you think it could. But, you may want to think about fertility treatment if you’re younger than 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for at least a year, or you’re 35 or older and have been trying to get pregnant for at least six months.
Here are some things you and your partner can do to find out if you need treatment:
• Talk to your health care provider about whether or not you need treatment.
• Learn about how things like smoking and weight affect fertility. It’s possible that you may be able to make changes in your life that will help you get pregnant without fertility treatment. Talk to your health care provider about what you can do on your own, without fertility treatment.
• Tell your health care provider about diseases and other health problems in your family.
• Keep a monthly diary of your periods. Write down the date you start and end your period each month. This will help you figure out when you ovulate.
• Have your partner get his sperm tested to make sure it’s healthy.
• Have a test to make sure your fallopian tubes are open and your uterus is a normal shape. (When your ovary releases an egg, it travels down the fallopian tube to your uterus.)
If you’ve tried various options and think it’s time to speak to a fertility specialist, read our information on when and how to find a fertility specialist and center. You’ll find information on risks and benefits, who pays for it, and more.
Dr. Siobhan Dolan discusses the safety of artificial sweeteners in the new March of Dimes book healthy mom, healthy baby.
Sugar substitutes such as acesulfame potassium, aspartame, saccharin, neotame, and sucralose are thought to be safe to eat in moderate amounts during pregnancy.
Saccharine may cause bladder cancer in rats when ingested in high doses, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says humans are not in danger. Saccharine does cross the placenta and can accumulate in your baby’s body, so its consumption during pregnancy is controversial. The most cautious choice is to avoid it.
Note: Women with a metabolic disorder known as phenylketonuria (PKU) should not have aspartame (sold as NutraSweet or Equal) because it contains an ingredient (phenylalanine) that their bodies cannot process.
You can read more about Dr. Dolan’s book, and even order a copy, at this link.
To dispel any uncertainty about the serious harm caused to babies and pregnant women by smoking, the first-ever comprehensive systematic review of all studies over the past 50 years has established clearly that maternal smoking causes a range of serious birth defects including heart defects, missing/deformed limbs, clubfoot, gastrointestinal disorders, and facial disorders (for example, of the eyes and cleft lip/palate).
Smoking during pregnancy is also a risk factor for premature birth, says Dr. Michael Katz, senior Vice President for Research and Global Programs of the March of Dimes. He says the March of Dimes urges all women planning a pregnancy or who are pregnant to quit smoking now to reduce their chance of having a baby born prematurely or with a serious birth defect. Babies who survive being born prematurely and at low birthweight are at risk of other serious health problems, Dr. Katz notes, including lifelong disabilities such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and learning problems. Smoking also can make it harder to get pregnant, and increases the risk of stillbirth.
About 20 percent of women in the United States reported smoking in 2009. Around the world, about 250 million women use tobacco every day and this number is increasing rapidly, according to data presented at the 2009 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Mumbai.
The new study, “Maternal smoking in pregnancy and birth defects: a systematic review based on 173,687 malformed cases and 11.7 million controls,” by a team led by Allan Hackshaw, Cancer Research UK & UCL Cancer Trials Centre, University College London, was published online January 17th in Human Reproduction Update from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
When women smoke during pregnancy, the unborn baby is exposed to dangerous chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar, Dr. Katz says. These chemicals can deprive the baby of oxygen needed for healthy growth and development.
During pregnancy, smoking can cause problems for a woman’s own health, including:
• Ectopic pregnancy
• Vaginal bleeding
• Placental abruption, in which the placenta peels away, partially or almost completely, from the uterine wall before delivery
• Placenta previa, a low-lying placenta that covers part or all of the opening of the uterus
Smoking is also known to cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, gum disease and eye diseases that can lead to blindness. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, there has never been a better time to quit.
You can read the Surgeon General’s report: The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress at this link.
In recognition of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, here are 10 things you need to know about birth defects from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.
1. Birth defects are common.
Birth defects affect 1 in 33 babies in the United States every year. For many babies born with a birth defect, there is no family history of the condition.
2. Birth defects are costly and can greatly affect the finances not only of the families involved, but of everyone.
In the United States, birth defects have accounted for over 139,000 hospital stays during a single year, resulting in $2.6 billion in hospital costs. Families and the government share the burden of these costs. Additional costs due to lost wages or occupational limitations can affect families as well.
3. Birth defects are critical conditions.
Birth defects can be very serious, even life-threatening. About 1 in every 5 deaths of babies before their first birthday is caused by birth defects in the United States. Babies with birth defects who survive their first year of life can have lifelong challenges, such as problems with infections, physical movement, learning, and speech.
4. Women should take folic acid during their teens and throughout their lives to help prevent birth defects.
Because half of all pregnancies in the United States are not planned, all women who can become pregnant should get 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, either by taking a vitamin each day or eating a healthy diet. Folic acid helps a baby’s brain and spine develop very early in the first month of pregnancy when a woman might not know she is pregnant.
5. Many birth defects are diagnosed after a baby leaves the hospital.
Many birth defects are not found immediately at birth, but most are found within the first year of life. A birth defect can affect how the body looks, how it works, or both. Some birth defects like cleft lip or spina bifida are easy to see. Others, like heart defects, are found using special tests, such as x-rays or echocardiography.
6. Birth defects can be diagnosed before birth.
Tests like an ultrasound and amniocentesis can detect some birth defects such as spina bifida, heart defects, or Down syndrome before a baby is born. Prenatal care and screening are important because early diagnosis allows families to make decisions and plan for the future.
7. Birth defects can be caused by many different things, not just genetics.
Most birth defects are thought to be caused by a complex mix of factors. These factors include our genes, our behaviors, and things in the environment. For some birth defects, we know the cause. But for most, we don’t. Use of cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs; taking certain medicines; and exposure to chemicals and infectious diseases during pregnancy have been linked to birth defects. Researchers are studying the role of these factors, as well as genetics, as causes of birth defects.
8. Some birth defects can be prevented.
A woman can take some important steps before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects. She can take folic acid; have regular medical checkups; make sure medical conditions, such as diabetes, are under control; have tests for infectious diseases and get necessary vaccinations; and not use cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs.
9. There is no guaranteed safe amount of alcohol or safe time to drink during pregnancy.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning which can last a lifetime. There is no known safe amount, no safe time, and no safe type of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. FASDs are 100% preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol while pregnant.
10. An unborn child is not always protected from the outside world.
The placenta, which attaches a baby to the mother, is not a strong barrier. When a mother uses cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs, or is exposed to infectious diseases, her baby is exposed also. Healthy habits like taking folic acid daily and eating nutritious foods can help ensure that a child has the best chance to be born healthy.
For more information: www.cdc.gov/birthdefects.
Written By: Cynthia A. Moore, M.D., Ph.D. Director
Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Yes. That makes sense. No, I’m not being funny. You don’t know what you don’t know.
This is why we have updated our website to include article libraries for each subject category or topic. We have hundreds of articles on our website, on topics such as pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, birth and after birth, health problems, caring for your baby, your baby’s health, complications, loss and grief, research, advocacy, and much more.
When you search our website and read an article, a box appears to the right of the text titled “In this topic” where you will find other articles related to your topic. At the bottom of the box you can click on “See all in library” where you will then see additional articles, common questions and special features, on your topic.
Once you see all of the titles in the library, you may realize that you need to know more about a topic. Simply click on it to read all about it. For example, here is our article library for Getting ready for pregnancy. Until you see all of the other topics in the article library, you may not know what you don’t know!
We hope this info helps you in your knowledge search and that you find it easy to navigate. We’d love to hear your comments!
January 5-11 is National Folic Acid Awareness Week. Are you getting enough folic acid each day?
Today’s guest post is from the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.
Folic acid is a B vitamin. If a woman consumes the recommended amount of folic acid before and during early pregnancy, it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain (known as anencephaly) and spine (known as spina bifida). Anencephaly is a serious birth defect in which parts of a baby’s brain and skull do not form correctly. Babies born with anencephaly cannot survive. Spina bifida is a serious birth defect in which a baby’s spine does not develop correctly, and can result in some severe physical disabilities. All women, but especially those who want to become pregnant, need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
Do I need folic acid?
Yes! Every woman needs to get enough folic acid each day, even if she does not plan to become pregnant. This is because our bodies make new cells every day—blood, skin, hair, nails and others. Folic acid is needed to make these new cells. Start a healthy habit today and get 400 mcg of folic acid every day.
Why can’t I wait until I’m pregnant to start taking folic acid?
Birth defects of the brain and spine (anencephaly and spina bifida) happen in the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman finds out she’s pregnant. Also, half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. These are two reasons why it is important for all women who can get pregnant to be sure to get 400 mcg of folic acid every day, even if they aren’t planning a pregnancy any time soon. By the time a woman realizes she’s pregnant, it might be too late to prevent these birth defects. Starting today is the best option!
How do I get folic acid?
An easy way to be sure you’re getting enough folic acid is to take a daily multivitamin with folic acid in it. Most multivitamins have all the folic acid you need. If you get an upset stomach from taking a multivitamin, try taking it with meals or just before bed. If you have trouble taking pills, you can try a multivitamin that is gummy or chewable. Also be sure to take it with a full glass of water.
Folic acid has been added to foods such as enriched breads, pastas, rice and cereals. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the food packaging. A serving of some cereals has 100% of the folic acid that you need each day.
In addition to getting 400 mcg of folic acid from supplements and fortified foods, you can eat a diet rich in folate. You can get food folate from beans, peas and lentils, oranges and orange juice, asparagus and broccoli, and dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, and mustard greens.
For More Information
CDC’s Folic Acid Homepage
Birth Defects COUNT
Spina Bifida Overview