Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Group B strep infection

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Between 35-37 weeks of your pregnancy your prenatal care provider will test you for Group B strep. Group B streptococcus (also called Group B strep or GBS) is a common type of bacteria that can cause infection.

Many people carry Group B strep—in fact about 25% of pregnant women are carriers.  GBS bacteria naturally live in the intestines and the urinary and genital tracts. It is not known how GBS is transmitted in adults but you can’t get it from food, water, or things you touch. An adult can’t catch it from another person or from having sex, either.  Most people do not even know they are carriers since adults usually show no signs or symptoms related to GBS.

GBS, however, can be passed to your newborn during labor and delivery and it can make your baby very sick. Babies with a GBS infection may have one or more of these illnesses:

• Meningitis, an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain

• Pneumonia, a lung infection

• Sepsis, a blood infection

According to the CDC, in the US, group B strep is the leading cause of meningitis and sepsis in a newborn’s first week of life.

There are two kinds of GBS infections:

1. Early-onset GBS: Signs like fever, trouble breathing and drowsiness start during the first 7 days of life, usually on the first day. Early-onset GBS can cause pneumonia, sepsis or meningitis. About half of all GBS infections in newborns are early-onset.

2. Late-onset GBS: Signs like coughing or congestion, trouble eating, fever, drowsiness or seizures usually start when your baby is between 7 days and 3 months old. Late-onset GBS can cause sepsis or meningitis.

The good news is that early-onset GBS infection in newborns can be prevented by a simple test. During your third trimester, your provider will take a swab of the vagina and rectum. Results are available in a day or so. This test will need to be done in each pregnancy.

If you do have GBS, then your provider will give you an antibiotic through an IV (medicine given through a tube directly into your bloodstream) during labor and delivery. Usually this is penicillin (if you are allergic to penicillin, there are other options available). Any pregnant woman who had a baby with group B strep disease in the past, or who has had a bladder (urinary tract) infection during this pregnancy caused by group B strep should also receive antibiotics during labor.

Unfortunately late-onset GBS cannot be prevented with IV antibiotics. Late-onset GBS may be due to the mother passing the bacteria to her newborn, but it may also come from another source, which is often unknown.

Treatment for babies infected with either early-onset GBS or late-onset GBS is antibiotics through an IV.

Currently researchers are testing vaccines that will help to prevent GBS infections in both mothers and their babies.

If you have any questions about this topic or other pregnancy and newborn health issues, please email the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center at askus@marchofdimes.org.

Scleroderma and pregnancy

Friday, June 27th, 2014

June is National Scleroderma Awareness Month. Scleroderma is a group of diseases that result in the abnormal growth of connective tissue. Connective tissue is tissue that supports your skin and internal organs, like your kidneys, lungs and heart. Scleroderma is a chronic condition meaning that it lasts for a long time and can affect many aspects of your life.

If you have scleroderma, your body makes too much of a connective tissue protein called collagen. When too much collagen builds up in your body, it causes your skin and connective tissues to get hard or thick. Scleroderma can lead to pain and swelling in your muscles and joints. There are two main kinds of scleroderma: localized and systemic. Both can be mild to severe, with periods of remission (wellness) and flares (illness).

Localized scleroderma only affects certain parts of your body, like your skin, skin tissues and sometimes muscles. Localized scleroderma doesn’t harm major organs and often gets better or goes away over time without treatment. But sometimes it can be severe and cause lasting skin changes.

Systemic scleroderma can affect the whole body, including your skin, tissues, blood vessels and major organs, like your heart, lungs and kidneys.

If you have scleroderma and you’re thinking about getting pregnant,  you should schedule a preconception checkup with your health care provider. If you have localized scleroderma, it may not affect your pregnancy at all. But systemic scleroderma can cause problems with your heart, lungs or kidneys. These complications are most likely to appear during the first three years of scleroderma symptoms, and can cause health difficulties for you and your baby during pregnancy. For this reason, it’s best not to get pregnant during the first three years of symptoms.

If you have systemic scleroderma, you may be more likely than other pregnant women to have:

• Preeclampsia and other kinds of high blood pressure,

• Poor growth in your baby,

• Premature birth,

• Cesarean birth (C-section).

Right now, there is no specific treatment that stops the body from making too much collagen. However, doctors use several types of medication to control the symptoms. But not all of these are safe to use during pregnancy. Some can cause birth defects if a woman takes them while she is pregnant. That is why it is so important to discuss your condition with your doctor before pregnancy.

During pregnancy a woman with scleroderma may be treated by multiple doctors, including a rheumatologist as well as a high-risk obstetrician. Depending on her individual symptoms, a pregnant woman may need to see a few other providers to treat specific complications. Fortunately though, with today’s medical care, many women with scleroderma can have successful pregnancies.

Eat fish during pregnancy

Monday, June 16th, 2014

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to make healthy food choices. This is especially true when it comes to fish. Fish are a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that can be good for your baby’s health.

The Food and Drug administration (FDA) is changing their guidelines for eating fish during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, the FDA now suggests you eat at least 8 and up to 12 ounces a week of fish that are low in mercury. This includes fish like shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, canned light tuna, tilapia and cod. It’s OK to eat up to 6 ounces a week of albacore (white) tuna.

However, FDA still says to avoid eating raw fish, like sushi, as well as fish that can be high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. And always check with your local health department before you eat any fish you catch yourself.

The new recommendations on eating fish during pregnancy are open for public comment. Share your thoughts! Learn more about eating healthy and foods to avoid or limit during pregnancy.

What you need to know about CMV

Friday, June 13th, 2014

washing handsJune is National Congenital CMV Awareness Month. It is important that all women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant know about CMV.

What is CMV?

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common viral infection that most of us get at some point in our lives, frequently during childhood. It is usually harmless and does not cause any symptoms. But if a woman becomes infected with CMV for the first time, while she is pregnant, she can pass the virus to her baby. This can lead to serious illness, lasting disabilities or even death.

Why is CMV a concern during pregnancy?

CMV is the most common congenital (present at birth) infection in the United States. Fortunately, most babies born with CMV never have symptoms or problems caused by the infection.

However, some babies born with CMV develop one or more conditions during the first few years of life, such as hearing loss, vision loss, learning disabilities, and intellectual disabilities.

A woman who contracts CMV for the first time during pregnancy has about a 1-in-3 chance of passing the virus on to her fetus. She can pass CMV on to her baby at any stage of pregnancy. However, studies suggest that babies are more likely to develop serious complications when their mother is infected in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

How do you get CMV?

You can get CMV by coming into contact with bodily fluid from a person who carries the virus. You may be more likely than other people to get CMV if you have young children at home, work with young children, or work in health care. Most people with CMV have no signs or symptoms, so if you’re a health care or child care worker talk to your doctor about getting tested for CMV before pregnancy to see if you’ve already been exposed to the virus.

How can you prevent CMV?

You can help prevent CMV infection by doing the following:

• Wash your hands well, especially after being in contact with children and body fluids. Wash your hands after changing diapers, wiping noses and picking up toys.

• Carefully throw away used diapers and tissues.

• Don’t kiss young children on the mouth or cheek.

• Don’t share food, glasses, cups, forks or other utensils with young children or with anyone who may have CMV.

Is the March of Dimes conducting research on CMV?

Yes! March of Dimes grantees and other researchers are developing and testing vaccines that may help protect babies against CMV. Recent March of Dimes grantees have been studying how this virus multiplies and spreads in the unborn baby, in order to develop effective drugs that can help prevent disabilities in infected babies.

Sunscreen safety for pregnant women

Friday, June 6th, 2014

mom and child in sunSummer is here! Sunscreen is important whenever you are outside, especially if you are pregnant. During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

There are two types of rays that can cause skin damage. These are ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation (UVA and UVB). Both of these can cause premature aging and skin cancer however UVB rays are what cause sunburn. It is important to choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB. But, choosing the right sunscreen to slather on can be confusing.

Here are tips on choosing the right sunscreen for you:

•    Avoid retinyl palmitate This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with a risk of birth defects.
•    Choose sunscreen with a sun protected factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
•    Only use products that have UVA and UVB protection – also called Broad Spectrum protection
•    Use a water resistant sunscreen if you intend to go swimming
•    Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating (even if you use water resistant sunscreen).
•    Limit your time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun rays are most intense.

Combination products

To fend off those pesky mosquitoes, there are also combination sunscreen products that include bug spray. These can be  great two-for-one products, but combination sunscreens may be more hazardous that you thought. A combination product has the possibility of toxic exposure, due to overdosing on the bug repellant. It’s safe to apply the combination lotion first, but when it’s time to reapply, skip the combination and just use sunscreen.

Read our post for specific tips on how to keep your baby safe in the sun.

Have fun outside this summer, but wear your hat, sunglasses, stay well hydrated and remember your sunscreen!

How preeclampsia affects your baby

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

preemieLast week we reviewed the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia. Today we’ll talk about how preeclampsia can affect your baby.

If you have preeclampsia, your health care provider can help you manage most health complications through regular prenatal care.

Treatment for preeclampsia depends on how severe your preeclampsia is and how far along you are in your pregnancy. Even if you have mild preeclampsia, you need treatment to make sure it doesn’t get worse.

Treatment for mild preeclampsia may include seeing your prenatal care provider more frequently for tests to make sure you and your baby are doing well. You may be able to stay at home and just be monitored.

More severe preeclampsia may require you to be admitted to the hospital or for you to be induced before your due date.

The high blood pressure that is a part of preeclampsia can narrow blood vessels in the uterus (womb) and placenta. The placenta supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. If the blood vessels in the placenta are narrow, your baby may not get enough oxygen and nutrients, causing him to grow slowly. This can lead to a low birthweight baby, a baby who weighs less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.

In many cases the only treatment for preeclampsia is the birth of your baby. This may result in your baby being born prematurely, or before 37 weeks of pregnancy.  Although the thought of having a premature baby can be frightening, it is important to remember that most babies of moms with severe preeclampsia before 34 weeks of pregnancy do better in a NICU than if they stay in the uterus.

Premature babies and low birthweight babies may have more health problems and need to stay in the NICU longer than babies born full-term. The earlier in pregnancy a baby is born, the more likely he is to have health problems. Some babies may have complications that can affect them their whole lives. But thanks to advances in medical care, even babies born very prematurely are more likely to survive today than ever before.

Reminder – Tweet chat today on Preeclampsia

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Many women have never heard of preeclampsia or know how it can affect a pregnant woman and her baby. Tune in later to chat with us and our guest, the Preeclampsia Foundation. Join us and learn more about this dangerous condition and some of its warning signs.  Learn how it can affect your baby. If you have battled with preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome, share your experience, tell us what helped you get through it, and what advice you have for other pregnant women.

Join us on Twitter later today at 1 – 2 pm EST.  Be sure to use #PreAM14 to participate and see the full conversation.

Twitter chat on preeclampsia- how it affects you and your baby

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

texting2Ever wonder why your provider takes your blood pressure and has you pee in a cup at every prenatal visit?  Ever heard of preeclampsia? It is a serious complication of pregnancy that can affect you and your baby. If you are worried about it or have had it, join us tomorrow for our pregnancy chat on Preeclampsia.  We are glad to partner with the Preeclampsia Foundation.

It’s on Twitter tomorrow, May 29th at 1pm ET.  Just follow # PreAM14. Jump into the conversation at any time to ask questions or tell us your experience. We hope to see you then!

Memorial Day weekend food safety

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Grill2Memorial Day weekend is here and it is the unofficial start of summer–hooray! This weekend many of us will be going to cook-outs. Although these can be lots of fun, if you are pregnant, it is very important to make sure that you take the appropriate precautions.

Keep these safety tips in mind when preparing foods that are frequently associated with food-borne illness:

• CLEAN: Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often. And wash fresh fruits and vegetables carefully.

• SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate!  When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.

• COOK: Cook to proper temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for details on cooking meats, poultry, eggs, leftovers, and casseroles. Internal temperatures should be 145°F for whole meats, 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry. After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.

• CHILL: At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become sick. So, refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying

Hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken need to be cooked thoroughly. And make sure that any pasta or potato salads, especially those with mayonnaise, are kept cold and out of the sun. During meal times, while food is being served and eaten, keep it hot (at 140˚F or above). After meals are over, refrigerate leftovers quickly and don’t keep them out for too long (within 1 hour during the summer).

Remember that although food poisoning is miserable for anyone, it poses special risks to pregnant women and their unborn babies because pregnancy affects your immune system. Your immune system is your body’s way of protecting itself from illnesses and diseases. But when you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Your body knows that pregnancy is OK and that it shouldn’t reject your baby. So, your body naturally lowers the immune system’s ability to protect you and respond to illnesses so that it can welcome your growing baby. A lowered immune system means you’re more susceptible to illnesses, including those bacteria that cause food poisoning.

Enjoy your Memorial Day but just make sure you take the appropriate precautions at all of those backyard cookouts so that you have a fun and safe weekend. And of course, we want to say thank you to all the many men and women and their families who have given so much to keep our country safe and secure. It is important for us to recognize their dedication and sacrifice Memorial Day and everyday.

Upcoming chats

Monday, May 19th, 2014

woman-on-laptopJoin us on Twitter for two exciting chats that we have coming up very soon.

About 1 out of every 8 women have postpartum depression after delivery. It is not your fault.  On Wednesday, May 21 at 2pm ET we will be joining MomsRising, for their #WellnessWed chat. This week they will be discussing postpartum care and depression. This is an important topic for all new moms and pregnant women as well, so you can learn what to expect after your baby is born. Joining us will be the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Katherine Stone, a blogger with the BlogHer network, and Kaiser Permanente.

And on Thursday, May 29 at 1pm ET we will be a guest in a #PreAm14 chat on how preeclampsia affects your baby with the Preeclampsia Foundation. Learn more about this dangerous condition and some of its warning signs. If you have battled with preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome, share your experience, tell us what helped you get through it, what advice you have for other pregnant women.

We hope to see you at both chats!