Natural Pregnancy — Fetal Development & Safety

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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 washingtonpost.com "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 Reuters.uk: "..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." Physorg.com 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)

Those Miraculous Pregnancy Months 1

Pregnancy Months Learn what happens in this brief overview of the pregnancy months. Month One By the time you miss your period and find out that you are actually pregnant, a tiny embryo that will become your baby has formed and begins growing at an incredibly rapid rate. In fact, the embryo is now 10,000 times larger than a single fertilized egg. The placenta, baby's heart, spinal cord, and digestive system are all beginning to develop. Month Two By the end of this month, the embryo has grown to approximately 1 inch long. The heart is now functioning, and facial features are beginning to appear. While the embryo is moving, you will not feel anything for another couple of months. Month Three The embryo is officially called a fetus and measures almost 3 inches in length. His or her arms, legs, hands, and feet are fully formed. At this stage you can probably detect a heartbeat using a device called a Doppler. Month Four Growth continues rapidly, and your baby's gender is now determinable. While looking human in appearance at this point, your baby will still need much more time before he or she could survive outside of your body. Month Five At about 10 inches long, your baby is beginning to grow hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. He or she is also growing a type of fine hair called lanugo that will cover the body until it is shed shortly before or after birth. Month Six Fetal movement is becoming more and more pronounced as muscles strengthen. Eyelids begin to part and the eyes will open occasionally. Also, hearing has developed to the point of being able to hear sounds from outside of the womb. Month Seven The average seven-month-old fetus is 15 inches long and over two lbs. in weight. If born at this stage, your baby would be premature but would have a good chance of survival. Month Eight Growth is especially rapid this month, with tremendous development of the brain, lungs, and other organs. Your baby will most likely turn head down during this time to prepare for delivery. Month Nine Congratulations! Your baby is ready to be born. He or she likely weighs between 6 and 9 lbs and measure 18 to 22 inches in length. The lungs and other organs are completely mature and the skin is pink and smooth. Don't forget that most babies are not born on their exact due date and there is no benefit to rushing it. Anytime from the 38th to the 42nd week of pregnancy is optimal. Author: Julian Hall About the author: Julian Hall of GiftBabies.co.uk and The Baby Gifts Company - The Most Unique, Innovative Gift Ideas for Babies, Christening Gifts, Newborn Gifts, Personalized Gifts, Organic Clothing, Nappies, Blankets, New Baby Gifts Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/hennasooq/306640571/