Category Archives: Pregnancy & Fertility

Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Marijuana Use While Pregnant Increases Health Risks in Child

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Pregnancy is a condition that should not be taken lightly. In fact, a recent study pointed out that the use of marijuana during childbirth posts a high risk on the baby’s health.

There are already various studies conducted regarding this issue, some of which have been evaluated to further reiterate the connection of the use of marijuana during pregnancy to low birth weight of newborn babies. In addition, according to research these babies are placed in the intensive care unit due to their delicate condition.

The breakthrough on the effectiveness of cannabis in the medical world has pushed many states and countries to work on its legalization. Study author Jayleen Gunn, who works as assistant research scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said in a news release that the public should understand the effect of cannabis to fetal health.

Moreover, the research of Gunn and her associates showed that there is a 77 percent probability of the newborn being underweight if the fetus is exposed to marijuana compared to infants born of parents who did not use marijuana during pregnancy.

Data gathered by scientists are confined in the context of the relationship concerning the use of marijuana during pregnancy and the health issues faced by the newborn. It does not directly single out marijuana as the cause of the problem.

Further studies need to be conducted regarding the link between cannabis and pregnancy to better understand its effect on the pregnant women and their newborns. There are many aspects not yet explored, such as the form and amount of marijuana taken, as well as the unhealthy practices of the mother while pregnant. Just like other regulated substances, the use of cannabis should be regulated and prohibited if it posts danger to one’s health.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Proper Pregnancy Spacing May Reduce Obesity in Older Kids

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Planning the age gap between your children may help them avoid obesity, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan.

The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, investigated a potential association between sibling age gaps and their obesity risk. Roughly 700 kids in the U.S. were monitored for weight profiles and their age gap with the next younger sibling, if any.

Results revealed that children who are 4 years old at the most when their next siblings get born have a lower risk of obesity. The association was most prominent for kids between age 3 and 4, with only 5 percent of this population becoming obese when then reach first grade. In contrast, 13 percent of children whose next younger siblings were born after they reached first grade were diagnosed with obesity.

The research team was surprised with the findings. “In the study… we did not have data that would help us understand the mechanism,” study author Dr. Julie Lumeng said in a news release. However, she points out one possible reason behind the link: more playing opportunities in the presence of similarly aged siblings. “Maybe you go to the park more… or maybe there is just more activity in the house,” Dr. Lumeng added. The association, although seemingly conclusive, was not a causality relationship — in short, the study doesn’t say that proper spacing between pregnancies will definitely cause a decrease in obesity risk in older kids.

Childhood obesity continues to be a global threat. In the U.S. alone, roughly one in every six kids are diagnosed with obesity.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Eating Fish While Pregnant Increases Child Obesity Risk

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fish health effect on pregnant women

Pregnant women who eat lots of fish may think that they’re improving the health of their babies, but a new study revealed that it might actually increase the child’s risk of obesity.

This was discovered by a team of researchers from the University of Crete in Greece, after conducting a study on roughly 26,000 expectant females residing in Europe and the U.S. The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, looked into the eating behavior of the women and the weights of their children from birth until age 6.

According to study results as reported in a news item, women who consumed fish more than thrice a week during their pregnancies gave birth to kids who grew faster going to age 2. This also led to an increase in obesity when the kids reach 4 to 6 years old.

The research team believes that part of the reason behind this relationship is the presence of organic pollutants in the fish, which could affect the hormonal processes in the body and increase obesity risk in the children. However, the researchers were quick to note that the link between fish consumption and childhood obesity is not a relationship of cause and effect.

The study proved to be in support of the recommendation by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that expectant women should eat only up to three servings of fish every week.


Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

CDC Reports Disturbing Numbers In Pre-Pregnancy Smoking

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Smoking has long been proven as a health hazard for pregnant women and the children that they bear. Despite the wide awareness campaign of the federal government, many women still disregard this health risk months before they become pregnant.

This was reported by the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after reviewing birth records in 2014. “We know that smoking is a problem for pregnancy, and we continue to see many women smoking,” said study co-author Dr. Edward McCabe, who works with the nonprofit group March of Dimes as chief medical officer and senior VP.

Results of the review, as reported in a news release, revealed that about 10 percent of females were found to smoke within a three-month period prior to their next pregnancy. Worse, only 25 percent of them quit smoking before the pregnancy. In addition, roughly 10 percent of women smoked cigarettes during the time that they were pregnant.

Study lead author Sally Curtin reminded the general public that there is plenty of research about the harmful effects of smoking on the child in the womb, some of which include low birth weight and preterm labor. “Smoking during pregnancy is double trouble,” Curtin said. Meanwhile, McCabe believes that women must be responsible for the health of their future children. “Part of planning a pregnancy, if you’re smoking, is to work on quitting,” McCabe mentioned.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Pregnant Women Who Eat Chocolate May Deliver Healthier Babies

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Expectant mothers might want to start eating chocolates in moderation to improve the development of their babies.

This seems to be the recommendation of a team of Canadian researchers who looked into the truth behind the effect of eating chocolate on pregnancy-related issues. The team, led by Emmanuel Bujold of the Université Laval Québec City, said that earlier studies revealed the increased risk of preeclampsia when pregnant women eat chocolate. Meanwhile, some other studies suggest the benefits of chocolate in ensuring a healthy pregnancy.

To investigate the topic, the researchers asked the participation of 129 women who were carrying a single child between the 11th and 14th week of gestation. The women were tested using the uterine artery Doppler pulsatility index, which identifies the blood flow in the uterus, placenta, and fetus during pregnancy. The respondents were divided into two groups: the first group was asked to eat 30 grams of chocolate with low flavanol levels, and the other was asked to eat high-flavanol chocolates. The indices were checked after 12 weeks, and monitoring was conducted up to the birth of their children.

Results showed that the uterine artery Doppler pulsatility of the mothers significantly improved from before the tests started. The findings were consistent, regardless of the amount of flavanol in the chocolates. “This study indicates that chocolate could have a positive impact on placenta and fetal growth and development and that chocolate’s effects are not solely and directly due to flavanol content,” said Bujold via a news item.

However, the researchers mentioned that their study did not include a group of pregnant women who did not eat chocolate. “We cannot speculate on the overall effect of chocolate on the risk of preeclampsia from our study results because we did not have a group of women who were not taking chocolate. However, previous epidemiological studies along with our results suggest that consumption of dark chocolate during pregnancy could help in the improvement of placental function and the reduction of preeclampsia.” Bujold added.

The study was recently presented in the Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine held in Atlanta.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Doing Exercise While Pregnant Lowers Risk of Hypertension and Big Babies

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Pregnancy may be a delicate situation for some women, but a recent study revealed that pregnant women who engage in exercise may reduce the risk of complications associated with childbearing.

According to a new study jointly conducted by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Western University, doing exercise while pregnant lowers the risk of high blood pressure in women. In addition, the physical activity also reduces the likelihood of having oversized infants, the condition of which is clinically called fetal macrosomia. “Those oversized babies are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases later in life, like obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and/or hypertension. We really want to try and prevent those big babies because they are at risk for health issues,” said study co-author Michelle Mottola in a news release.

To get the results that they needed, the proponents of the study tapped the participation of a random group of pregnant women who were asked to follow a specific exercise program during their respective pregnancies. Results showed that pregnant women who don’t engage in exercise have a threefold likelihood of developing high blood pressure, roughly 2.5 times more susceptible to give birth to oversized babies.

Mottola said that even the simplest and easiest of exercise routines can already do wonders to the health of the mother and the child. “Many people think that you have to go to the gym and sweat – and yes, that’s true for some people – but walking will also give you great aerobic benefit. It’s very important to be physically active during pregnancy. We suggest 10,000 steps a day. If you can walk 10,000 steps a day, that’s incredible,” Mottola added.


Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Autism Risk Increased By Antidepressant Drugs Taken By Pregnant Mothers

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Despite the numerous studies about autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the growing issue has been fairly misunderstood. However, researchers continue to study the condition further, including a recent study from the University of Montreal.

In the latest research led by Prof. Anick Bérard, it was discovered that pregnant women who take antidepressants increased the risk of autism in their children. The researchers based their findings on data from more than 145,000 birth records in Canada as part of the Quebec Pregnancy Cohort.

The people involved in the pregnancy cases were followed up by the researchers for 10 years. The records were cross-checked with antidepressant use, and the researchers identified at which trimester the women took the drugs and what specific drugs they took. “Amongst all the children in the study, we then identified which children had been diagnosed with a form of autism by looking at hospital records indicating diagnosed childhood autism, atypical autism, Asperger’s syndrome, or a pervasive developmental disorder. Finally, we looked for a statistical association between the two groups, and found a very significant one: an 87% increased risk,” Bérard said in a news release.

Results showed that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) heightened the risk of ASD in children, especially when their respective mothers took this specific class of antidepressants on the second or third trimester. Berard explained a possible reason for this: “Some classes of antidepressants work by inhibiting serotonin (SSRIs and some other antidepressant classes), which will have a negative impact on the ability of the brain to fully develop and adapt in utero.”

This study puts another angle on the ongoing debates regarding antidepressant use during pregnancy, especially since roughly 10 percent of pregnant women take antidepressants.


Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Higher Tax on Tobacco Products Reduces Risk of Infant Death

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Several studies have already confirmed the harmful effects of smoking on infant health during a woman’s pregnancy. A new study investigated through another angle, this time assessing the impact of tobacco taxation on infant mortality.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and the Vanderbilt University, looked into data from the Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) system of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 1999 and 2010.

Study lead author Dr. Stephen Patrick explained the team’s reason for focusing on a possible link between tobacco tax regulations and infant death. “Taxing cigarettes is known to help convince people to quit smoking, or not to start. This study helps physicians, public health officials and policymakers understand just how much benefit cigarette tax increases can have on infant health,” Patrick said in a news report.

Based on the results of the study, the research team was able to confirm that increasing taxation on tobacco products will result to a reduction in the number of cases of child death during pregnancy.

The team believes that the study will help push for higher tobacco taxes. “The US is doing worse than almost all other industrialized nations in infant deaths. The solution may lie in public health solutions that prevent infants from being born early in the first place – like cigarette taxes,” Patrick added.

Details of the study were published in the journal Pediatrics.


DNA & Paternity Pregnancy & Fertility

Teens Who Live with Rules More Likely to be Cautious About Sex

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Teenagers who live in households where they have set rules to follow and whose parents keep tabs on them may be more cautious about sex, a new analysis suggests.

Researchers from the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work combined and analyzed the results of 30 studies from around the world. The studies, completed from 1984 to 2014, analyzed the effects of parental activities on children’s behavior. Specifically, researchers looked at the effects of keeping tabs on teenagers and setting rules for them. The goal of the studies was to see whether the kids of more watchful parents were more likely to skip sexual activity — defined in different ways — or use birth control.

Kids whose parents set rules and who monitored them more by knowing what they were doing and who they were with,  had sexual intercourse later in life, the researchers found. Those whose parents monitored them were also more likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control.

“When kids are sexually active, it’s less about setting clear rules and more about having a better relationship and better communication,” said said report co-author Vincent Guilamo-Ramos. “Parents really matter, and they’re influential,”  .

The researchers cautioned that their study doesn’t definitively prove that making rules for teens and monitoring them more will cut down on sexual behavior, as other factors could have also played a role.

Statistics suggest that hundreds of thousands of U.S. teens become pregnant each year, and more than 75% of the pregnancies are unplanned. Sexually transmitted disease like HIV is another risk for teens and young adults. In fact, research shows that in 2012, people aged 20 to 24 had the highest rate of new infections with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.


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.