Category Archives: Pregnancy & Fertility

Medical Marijuana Pregnancy & Fertility

Is Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Harmful?

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One of the questions regarding marijuana is its safety for the person taking it. The impact of the controversial drug is especially important in people who are experiencing special health conditions, one of which is pregnancy.

The question: Is marijuana safe for women who are pregnant?

In a news statement a few weeks ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) said that cannabis use may increase the risk of pregnancy and childbirth complications such as low birth weight or premature delivery. Because of this, the organization recommended proper labeling on medical and recreational marijuana, such as the following — “Warning: Marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding poses potential harms.”

However, according to Forbes contributor on drug topics Jacob Sullum, other larger studies say that marijuana use has no adverse effect on the pregnant mother or the child. In his recent article, Sullum cited a statement from National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) deputy director Paul Armentano that “other studies with much larger samples in the U.K., Australia, and the Netherlands likewise have found no evidence of fetal harm from marijuana exposure.” There may be other factors that need to be considered, such as the mother’s age and her smoking habits.

Studies on marijuana — particularly on its medicinal use — are still being conducted, and it might be premature to conclude the affirmative or negative at this point in time.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Depression Linked To Chain of Health Concerns for Pregnant Women

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pregnant women depression sedentary lifestyle gestational diabetes

Some of the health risks involved in a woman’s pregnancy include gestational diabetes and excessive weight gain. Although these health concerns may be traced to many factors, a recent study indicates that one possible cause is depression.

Researchers from the University of Warwick in the UK discovered a possible link between depression during the second trimester of pregnancy and sedentary lifestyle, which could lead to pregnancy-related health issues. The study followed more than 1,200 expectant mothers who were asked about their physical activity and emotional state. The study proponents also noted the women’s health data, as reported in a news item.

Results of the study showed that women who experienced bouts of depression became more sedentary in their daily activity. This was also linked to a greater weight gain when they reached the second trimester. In addition, women who had minimal to no physical activity were linked to a higher risk of gestational diabetes.

Study lead author Nithya Sukumar stressed the importance of their study on the health of pregnant women. “Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of birth complications for the mother and baby and so it is important we minimize this risk by reducing the time that pregnant women spend sitting down,” Sukumar said.

Sedentary behavior has long been linked to various health risks, some of which include obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.


Pregnancy & Fertility

More Pregnant Women Gaining Excess Weight, Says Study

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pregnant women excess weight

Pregnancy is a sensitive health condition for both mother and child, and so the results of a recent study should raise concern for women who are conceiving.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via a news release, at least half of pregnant women in the country are gaining more than their recommended weights. The study, conducted by a team of CDC researchers including epidemiologist Andrea Sharma, also confirmed that only 32 percent of expectant mothers were able to maintain their weights as prescribed by their respective doctors.

“A large proportion of women enter pregnancy not at a healthy weight,” said Sharma. One of the possible reasons behind the phenomenon is a misconception in terms of the nutritional requirements of a pregnant woman. “Eating for two shouldn’t translate to eating without limits… It should translate to eating twice as healthy,” the epidemiologist said.

The study was based on data from 41 states on pregnant women in 2013, as well as pregnancy risk data recorded in 2012. Details of the study were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the health agency.

The research team emphasized the importance of proper diet especially in women who are carrying a child. “The amount of extra calories needed during pregnancy [per day] is relatively small… It’s only about an additional 340 to 450 calories in the second and third trimester only. An apple, a cup of yogurt, a handful of almonds might be about 350 calories,” Sharma added.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Childbirth and Breastfeeding Linked To Lower Death Risk in Women

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Ladies, listen up: Your chances of dying from cancer and other leading causes of death may be lower if you have either given birth or engage in breastfeeding.

This was revealed through a study by researchers from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London in England, via a news report. The study was carried out with close to 323,000 European women who were monitored for about 13 years. The participants were followed up in terms of their health and death.

Out of more than 4.4 percent who died within the study period, women who gave birth were found to have a lower risk of dying from cancer. The statistic improved further for those who had more two or more children, as compared to whose who had only one child. In terms of cardiovascular diseases, the likelihood of death from such a disease was lower for women who either gave birth or engaged in breastfeeding. In addition, those who delivered a baby at age 26 to 30 were found to have the lowest likelihood of death, compared to any other age group.

Study co-author Melissa Merritt attributes the link to the natural hormonal changes in a woman’s body whenever she carries a baby in her womb or breastfeeds her child. However, because the connection of childbirth and breastfeeding to lower death risk is not a cause-and-effect relationship, the researchers recommend further studies to determine the impact of reproductive factors on long-term health.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Smoking While Pregnant Increases Asthma Risk of Grandchildren

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grandmother smoking while pregnant

Previous studies have emphasized the adverse effects of smoking while pregnant on the health of children, but a new study goes further — by two generations.

A Swedish study discovered that a woman who smokes while she is pregnant may increase the risk of asthma on her grandchildren (i.e. the child of her child). This study is the first of its kind to investigate the effects of smoking two generations after. “We found that smoking in previous generations can influence the risk of asthma in subsequent generations,” said study co-author Dr. Caroline Lodge in a news release.

The researchers conducted a survey on close to 45,000 grandmothers whose names are listed in the Swedish Registry between 1982 and 1986. Meanwhile, the study also checked for use of asthma treatment and medication in more than 66,000 grandchildren. Results showed that kids had up to 22 percent higher risk of developing asthma if their grandmothers smoked during pregnancy. The data was applicable even though the children’s respective mothers did not engage in cigarette smoking.

The study proponents believe that smoking changes the genetic makeup of offspring, which may be carried over to subsequent generations.

The number of asthma cases has escalated quickly in the last 50 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affecting 6.8 million children in the U.S. alone.



Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility Real Drug Stories

Use of HIV Drug by Pregnant Women Linked to Lower Bone Mass in Newborns

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pregnant diet

A drug used to reduce the transmission of HIV between a mother and fetus may have caused babies to develop lower bone mineral content than babies whose mothers used different drugs to treat their HIV and prevent it from transferring to their unborn children, according to a National Institutes of Health study.

After testing 143 babies, researchers found that pregnant women who received the drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate in their third trimester of pregnancy gave birth to babies whose bone mineral content was 12% lower than that of babies who were not exposed to the drug in the uterus.

This is significant because proper mineral content helps strengthen normal bones.

“At this point, we can say that those who care for pregnant women with HIV and their children should be aware that prescribing tenofovir to pregnant women could be a concern for their infants’ bones,” said George K. Siberry, M.D., the first author of the study and medical officer with NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Although the study authors described the results as concerning, they did not recommend drastic changes for pregnant women using tenofovir, as the drug has proved successful as part of drug regimens that treat HIV in pregnant women, and often is used to prevent HIV transmission to babies. The researchers say their is a need for additional studies to understand bone health and development among children born to women who took tenofovir during their pregnancies.

“Families should keep in close touch with their physicians to monitor their child’s bone development,” Siberry added.

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Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Research on South Asians Reveal Diabetes Risk As Early As Birth

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According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity, people of South Asian descent are already at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes starting from the time they were born.

The findings form part of the South Asian Birth Cohort study (START), which was conducted by a team of researchers on pregnant Canadian women. The study showed that gestational diabetes and uncontrolled weight gain in pregnant women exposed babies to a high likelihood of developing diabetes, but race and ethnicity may have an additional risk factor. “South Asian pregnant women should be considered high risk for gestational diabetes and routinely screened in pregnancy,” said principal study investigator Sonia Anand in a news item. Anand works at McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

The cohort study looked into about 800 pregnant women in Canada — more particularly in Hamilton and Peel Region. Some of the women were of South Asian descent, while the rest were Caucasian.

Babies born of South Asian mothers were found to be smaller than Caucasians, but their average waist circumference was bigger. “The increase we observed in fat tissue is clearly influenced by South Asian ethnicity, the mother’s body fat and high blood sugar levels,” Anand said.

The researchers believe that by minimizing factors related to gestational diabetes and weight gain, mothers can help prevent development of diabetes in their children.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Study Reveals Increased Teen Abortion Rate After Previous Pregnancy

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teen pregnancy

A comprehensive study in the U.K. revealed a startling discovery: 23 percent of teenagers who had undergone abortion were reported to have been pregnant at least once in the past.

The research was based on national abortion data from the Office of National Statistics and the Department of Health spanning 21 years (1992 to 2013). This was the first time that a potential link between teen pregnancy and teen abortion was investigated. “Our results clearly demonstrate that young women who become pregnant can be considered a high-risk group for subsequent, unplanned, mistimed, or unwanted pregnancies, emphasising the importance of embedding preventative actions and behaviours among this group after a birth or abortion,” said study lead author Lisa McDaid in a news release.

McDaid, who works at the School of Health Sciences, said that although teen pregnancy rates are slowly dipping, it’s important to determine the factors behind unwanted pregnancies. “This information will help to guide more targeted interventions to continue the downward trend in pregnancy and to monitor the effectiveness of current sexual health priorities on reducing conceptions and unwanted pregnancies among this age group,” McDaid added.

The researchers emphasize the importance of understanding female teens who decide to have an abortion. “The continuing high proportion of teenagers who have an abortion following one or more previous pregnancies highlights the complexity of these young women’s lives and we need to recognise that the circumstances of each pregnancy may be very different,” McDaid further stated.

Details of the study were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.


Addiction Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Women Quit Smoking During Pregnancy, But Return After Childbirth

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woman smoking pregnant

A team of researchers from the U.K.’s University of East Anglia discovered that pregnant mothers who stopped smoking tend to return to their unhealthy habit after giving birth.

The study, published in the journal Addiction, revealed that 75 percent of pregnant women who decided to stop smoking took it up again within six months after childbirth. In addition, up to 90 percent of these women returned to smoking within a year after delivering the child.

The research team led by Dr. Caitlin Notley said in a news release that 45 percent of expectant mothers are able to immediately kick the habit due to many factors, including preservation of the baby’s health, natural opposition to cigarette smoke due to biological changes, and the pressures of society. However, many of them return to smoking because of the following reasons:

  • Misconception. Most women think that smoking after giving birth won’t harm the baby.
  • Stress. Due to the pressures of parenthood, some mothers relapse to pick up a cigarette.
  • Withdrawal. Some women feel that their bodies are experiencing withdrawal symptoms caused by not having smoked for a while.

Some women, meanwhile, understood the potential effect of cigarette smoking on breast milk. As a result, a number of them decided to wean their babies earlier so that they could start smoking again.

The study investigated the cases of more than 1,000 women in the U.S. and Canada across 16 studies to evaluate the tendency to smoke again after pregnancy.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Pregnant Women Don’t Need To ‘Eat For Two’, Says Study

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pregnant diet

The common misconception that pregnant mothers need to eat more to supply for the child’s development has been debunked by a recent study.

According to a group of international researchers, the digestive system of the mother adjusts to the presence of the baby, allowing for increased absorption of energy even with the same amount of food intake.

The study, published in the eLife journal, investigated the fruit fly as a model for human anatomy. Study co-author Dr. Jake Jacobson of the Clinical Sciences Centre of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in London explained that the biology inside the body of a fruit fly is similar to humans. “Many of the fly genes that we studied exist in humans. Flies also utilize and store fat like we do, and their metabolism is controlled by similar hormones,” Jacobson said in a news release. Results of the study may also explain the reason why many women find it difficult to get rid of excess weight after pregnancy.

Through the study, a newly discovered hormone — called “juvenile hormone” — commands the digestive system to prepare for the growth of an additional human being in the mother’s body. This particular hormone was found to alter the metabolism of fat in the body. “This research points to a new scientific explanation why eating for two during pregnancy is not necessary, and may even be harmful, as a growing body of evidence indicates that a mother’s diet can impact a child’s propensity to be obese in later life,” said MRC population and systems medicine chief Dr. Joe McNamara.