Natural Pregnancy — Birth defects


Alcohol & Fetal White Matter, Steroids and Prematurity & Fetal DNA Testing 1

Drinking While Pregnant Damages Fetal Brain White Matter We all know that drinking and pregnancy don't mix. We generally contend that a glass of wine with a meal is fine but getting buzzed or drinking heavily is a huge no- no. It is so dangerous that most doctors and health care professionals simply make a blanket statement to err on the side of caution and avoid all alcohol while pregnant. A study published online on Dec. 19 and in the March print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with altered white-matter integrity. According to the "The brain's white matter is made up of nerve bundles that transfer information between brain regions," study corresponding author Susanna L. Fryer, a researcher at San Diego State University's Center for Behavioral Teratology, said in a news release. "Optimal white-matter integrity is thought to support efficient cognition. So, the finding that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with altered white-matter integrity may help explain aspects of the cognitive and behavioral problems that individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) commonly face," she said. "The brains of individuals with FASDs showed evidence of altered nerve fiber integrity at a microstructural level, even though total brain size was statistically equivalent between alcohol-exposed and comparison participants," Fryer said. Women at risk for premature births only need one round of steroid shots, study finds. Thousands of women at high risk for preterm birth receive steroid shots which speed fetal blood vessel and lung development. This can help prevent breathing problems, brain bleeds and even newborn death. According to "..a study of 1,858 women in 20 countries, published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday, showed that additional injections every 14 days did not improve the health of the babies and actually resulted in smaller babies. 'The key findings from our study were that there was no benefit (from the repeated courses of injections) and therefore that repeated doses should not be used,' Dr. Kellie Murphy of the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, who led the study, said in a telephone interview." U.S. Government and Baylor in cahoots to test fetal DNA Baylor College of Medicine is offering a service to test fetal DNA for about 200 rare genetic syndromes, most involving mental retardation. There is no treatment for these conditions in utero and no treatment available after birth. The idea behind the screening then, is to allow the parents the option of terminating the pregnancy as 80-95% of expectant parents do when faced with a Down's Syndrome diagnosis in utero. The implications are heartbreaking and of course we at A Much Better Way are appalled that anyone could terminate a Down's baby because they are of course as important and wonderful as everyone else. In addition to the ethical, eugenics side of the coin, we have to wonder if why the U.S. Government would sponsor such a study? We believe it is in an effort to collect fetal DNA (not because they are suddenly concerned with the incidence of these 200 rare syndromes.) Perhaps the current DNA collection via newborn PKU testing is not working out for them.

Phthalates during Pregnancy Cause Genital Defects in Boys 5

Here is one more reason to watch what you put on your skin during pregnancy. A new animal study has found that phthalates during pregnancy increases the likelihood of a genital defect in baby boys. The genital defect, called hypospadias, occurs when the baby boy's urethra exits the underside of the penis. Doctors have seen a near 100% increase of this type of defect since the 1960s. Phthalates are also linked to undescended testicles, smaller penises and overall feminization of males. Phthalates are so dangerous because they either mimic or block our natural hormones and male fetuses are especially vulnerable. According to "Theodore Schettler, a physician and science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, an environmental advocacy group. 'There's a huge animal database showing how exposures to phthalates during development can have effects at levels hundreds of times lower than these needed to show any impact on an adult,' he said. Timing of the exposure matters, and the most harm may occur between the eighth and 15th weeks of pregnancy, when a fetus' sexual differentiation starts, he said.
Timing of the exposure matters, and the most harm may occur between the eighth and 15th weeks of pregnancy
'If my testosterone dropped by 20 or 30 percent for a couple of days, it wouldn't matter,' he said. 'But for a developing fetus, it could matter a whole lot if there was a substantial drop in testosterone.' Phthalates fall into a group of chemicals called endocrine disruptors because they either mimic or block the action of human hormones. Phthalates interfere with the synthesis of testosterone. Bisphenol A, another controversial chemical that is found in plastics, can mimic female hormones. Consumers' concerns about bisphenol A, which has been used for years to make plastics stiff, have prompted some producers and retailers to announce in recent months that they would stop using and selling it." Phthalates are found in nail polishes, hair sprays, perfumes, shampoos, deodorants, soft plastic toys and much more. There is no easy way to determine if your beauty or household product contains phthalates unless it clearly states "phthalate free". During pregnancy, the safer the better so if you wont put it in your mouth, don't put it on your skin. More resources: Not Too Pretty (PDF)

Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy 7

Author: Ryan The thyroid gland is located at middle part of the front of the neck. Hypothyroidism is underactive thyroid gland which means that the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormones. These hormones play an important role in body metabolism. Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy There are a number of ways that hypothyroidism can manifest during pregnancy. This includes; having Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, thyroid nodules or goiter, elevated TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone) etc. If you have had radioactive iodine (RAI) or any kind of surgery of the thyroid or are now receiving any kind of thyroid hormone replacement then you probably have hypothyroidism. If you suffer from hypothyroidism then you are lucky to become pregnant in the first place as is prevents egg production. Once pregnant, hypothyroidism can affect your pregnancy in many ways. You have a higher risk of miscarriage. You are also more likely to develop high blood pressure and premature delivery if the hypothyroidism if left untreated through the pregnancy. There are certain "red flag" symptoms that you should be on the lookout for such as: dullness, droopy eyelids, abnormal weight gain, constipation, muscle cramps, thickening of skin, swelling around neck etc. These changes are usually spotted during pregnancy during the normal course of prenatal care. Babies born to mothers who had untreated or partially treated hypothyroidism prenatally, may never reach their full intellectual potential. The study was published in 1999, New England Journal of Medicine stating, "Women with untreated thyroid deficiency during pregnancy are four times more likely to have children with lower I.Q. scores". If you are pregnant and diagnosed with hypothyroidism, it does not need to take the joy out of your pregnancy. Once hypothyroidism is diagnosed, the thyroid hormone replacement therapy is started by doctor. The dosage is an important factor during pregnancy and is decided by your specialist. The treatment is safe and also essential to mother and fetus. One should not stop the medications by any means as this may have irreversible consequences. For the baby, it is quite rare that your baby will "inherit" your hypothyroidism. Congenital hypothyroidism appears in one of 4 to 5 thousand infants. But be sure to have your thyroid treatment started as early as possible (like in first trimester) because untreated thyroid will not only affect the mother but will also impair the child's physical and mental development. After pregnancy, your doctor will probably advise you to continue the pills. As far as breastfeeding is concerned, trace amount of thyroid hormone medication are excreted in breast milk but if your thyroid is not functioning properly then you might not be able to breastfeed at all.In fact, you must be having proper thyroid functioning and normal level of thyroid hormone to ensure enough breast milk to baby. If you are pregnant and diagnosed with hypothyroidism them make sure to receive a nutritionally balanced diet with adequate iodine salt, iron, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Ryan is a publisher of Hypothyroidism causes, symptoms and treatment information Buy the book: The Thyroid Diet [affliate link] Image Source: Table Sale on Flickr

Vitamins During Pregnancy 1

vitamins during pregnancyPregnancy is a time of very unique nutritional needs: Begetting and nurturing of and giving birth to a new life is one of the most beautiful and meaningful experiences in the life of a woman. While pregnant a woman has to take care of her own body as well as she has to eat responsible so that the growing baby gets what it needs. There is just no alternative to a diet of healthy natural food, but even the best diet might need some support in form of specific vitamins during pregnancy. The prenatal care must include a balanced diet that has all the needed vitamins and minerals. Pregnancy Nutrition Fruits, vegetables, milk products and whole grain staples are extremely important to eat during a pregnancy. Craving for junk and fast food should be controlled for the sake of both the mother and the baby. For protein requirements one could look for lean red meat, poultry, fish and beans which are of low-fat content or if vegetarian consume eggs and tofu. Just make sure to keep all meat and dairy organic. Vitamin A Vitamin A is one of the more important vitamins needed during gestation and lactation. Vitamin A helps the process of cell differentiation and immunity building. Severe vitamin A deficiency can cause fetal death, night blindness, and congenital defects. Overdose of synthetic vitamin A intake can also result in serious health problems so its best to get your Vitamin A from food sources. A weekly supplementation of 2500 IU is safe during gestation. Beta carotene is safer as it is converted into vitamin A as much is needed. Vitamin A rich food like animal liver can be ingested occasionally and safely during pregnancy and lactation. Folic Acid Make sure that your supplement contains at least 800 to 1000 mcg of folic acid. Most breads and cereals are fortified with this essential acid which prevents neural tube defects such a spina bifida. If you were not taking a supplement while trying to conceive then please make sure to get adequate folic acid the second you suspect you may be pregnant. Vitamin D Vitamin D is important for strengthening of the bones of the fetus. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium from food. The great thing about Vitamin D is that you do not have to eat special food. Just get 10-15 minutes of sunshine a day (without sunglasses or sunscreen). You can also take a teaspoon of Cod Liver Oil a day during the winter months if you live in a northern region. Vitamin C A deficiency in Vitamin C can lead to osteoporosis in adults or fractures in the children.Vitamin C also helps absorb iron which is needed for the production of red blood cells in the blood. It is the dream of every mother is to give birth to a healthy child. The health of the child depends largely on the prenatal and postnatal care. During gestation the foundation of the child's future is laid in the mother's womb. The child's immunity, proper formation of vital organs like brain and heart depends on the health condition of the expectant mother. Deficiency or over dose of vitamins can cause serious congenital complications. Proper guidance from the family health provider or a specialized doctor is of great importance for a fetus to form in to a healthy baby. Author: Christoph Puetz About the author: Chris Puetz is a parent since April 2005. The experience of raising a little child is incredible. Chris is sharing the parenting knowledge and pregnancy advice. Image Source:

Risks Of Smoking During Pregnancy 1

Smoking During Pregnancy We have known that the effects of smoking during pregnancy endangers unborn children for decades. Smoking is often a part of your life, whether you smoke or not. It can be a detrimental factor in anyone's life but particularly for a developing fetus. Surveys show that many mothers smoke during their pregnancy. The mothers often believe that it does not affect their baby at all. Sometimes these are mothers that do not care for their unborn child, but more frequently they simply are not educated or aware of the great dangers smoking poses to their baby. They might quit if they knew that smoking is one of the major causes of infant deaths in the world today. Mothers who smoke while pregnant run a risk of ectopic pregnancy. This is especially true when the mother is a heavy smoker during the first trimester of her pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy happens when the embryo implants outside the uterus, often in the fallopian tubes. When ectopic pregnancy occurs, the pregnancy has to be terminated because this kind of pregnancy will never go to full term. This fetus will never survive outside of the uterus where a fetus gets all the nourishment and protection that it needs. Prolonging an ectopic pregnancy will also risk the mother's life. Smoking also increases the probability that the mother will develop complications with her placenta. Reports show that placental problems occur in about 1% of pregnancies. The most common problem is "placenta previa" where the placenta is connected very low in the uterus and partially or completely blocks the cervix which obstructs the birth canal and the baby must be delivered by C-section or both the mother and the babies lives are at risk. Another problem is the deterioration of fetal growth. Smoking during pregnancy results in low infant birth weight. For many years now, reports show that there had been significant difference between babies with smoking mothers than those who have non-smoking mothers. There is a correlation between low birth weight and certain conditions like cerebral palsy and mental retardation. They are also more likely to die of SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome. Babies born to smoking mothers are also at increased risk of developing asthma, behavioral problems or learning disabilities. The dangers from smoking mothers does not end at childbirth. This is especially true for babies who are breastfed by smoking mothers. Studies have revealed that nicotine can be passed on to the baby through breastfeeding. There had been experiments that proved the presence of nicotine in the babies system through urine testing. It later showed that higher percentage of nicotine was found on babies who breastfeed from smoking mothers. Most experts contend that the problem lies within the mother's urge to get back to smoking right after they gave birth. They say that it is safe now because the baby was born already. They insist that they stopped smoking during their pregnancy. Babies should be given the right to live a decent, normal, and healthy life. To all smoking mothers out there: please remember that there are many harmful effects of smoking during and after pregnancy. Give your baby the very best start by simply not smoking. Author: Tina Dean About the author: For more information about how to give up smoking please visit so that you and your child can have healthier lives. Image Source: