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Your Baby

Choosing the Safest Fish to Eat During Pregnancy

2:00

As a parent or an expectant mom, you may have travelled down the same path as many others- searching for the healthiest diet for your family or soon-to-be newborn.

Fish is one of the foods that rank high on the healthy food chart. It’s frequently referred to as a “brain food” because of its brain-boosting nutrients, particularly omega-3 fatty acid. Certain fish are an excellent choice while others may contain high levels of mercury; a known toxin than can harm a developing child.

Mercury is a common seafood pollutant. This neurotoxic chemical can harm a baby’s developing brain in utero, even at very low levels of exposure.

Seas are increasingly polluted by toxic chemicals from 2 major sources: small gold mines and coal fired power plants, according to a recent report by Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF.)

Mercury in a mother’s body can be transferred to her fetus during pregnancy, exposing the developing fetus to the potent neurotoxin.

The report states that millions of women of childbearing age who eat mercury -contaminated fish have enough of the toxic chemicals in their bodies to harm a developing child. “55% of the global sample of women measured more than 0.58ppm of mercury, a level associated with the onset of fetal neurological damage.” This is the finding of a new, first of its kind report on mercury levels in women of childbearing age in 25 countries by HBBF partner, IPEN: the International POPs Elimination Network

While these findings may make you wonder if any fish are safe to eat, many health experts recommend that women who are pregnant should not give up eating fish out of fear of mercury toxins, but should focus on eating fish found to be very low in mercury. These include: wild Alaska salmon, sardines from the Pacific, farmed mussels, farmed rainbow trout, and Atlantic mackerel (not trawled).  

High mercury risk fish to avoid include shark, swordfish, orange roughy. bigeye tuna, king mackerel and marlin.

The FDA and the EPA joined forces this year and released new guidelines on fish consumption for pregnant women or those who might become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers and parents of young children. To governmental agencies created a chart to help these consumers more easily understand the types of fish to select. The agencies have an easy-to-use reference chart that sorts 62 types of fish into three categories:

  • “Best choices” (eat two to three servings a week)
  • “Good choices” (eat one serving a week)
  • “Fish to avoid”

Fish in the “best choices” category make up nearly 90 percent of fish eaten in the United States. The chart can be found online at https://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm393070.htm

The HBBF report also includes a warning about canned tuna. Limit your intake of canned tuna. While tuna is higher in Omega 3s and nutrients than most fish, the mercury levels can vary in individual tuna. Light canned tuna is recommended over white tuna; however, HBBF notes in their report that scientists found that for both types, the potential harm to a baby’s brain exceeds the fish nutrients’ brain-boosting assets.

One tip to remember is that larger fish tend to absorb more mercury than smaller types of fish. Fish should not be eliminated from any family’s diet; the benefits far outweigh the dangers. However, it’s important to choose fish that are known to be lower in mercury for a healthier outcome.

Story sources:  Charlotte Brody, RN, http://blog.hbbf.org/toxic-mercury-and-your-babys-ability-to-learn/

https://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm393070.htm

 

Daily Dose

Cord Blood Banking

1:30 to read

Expectant parents (including my own children) often ask me about banking their newborns cord blood. They see a lot of information about “cord blood banking” in their obstetricians offices, on the internet and comments on their social media sites.

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics just released updated guidelines on “cord blood banking for potential future transplantations”.  The AAP (as well as most professional societies in both the U.S. and Europe) is in favor of public cord blood banking systems. 

 

There are definitely important differences between public and private cord blood banks. Public cord blood banks are non profit and serve the needs of the general public, while private cord blood banks are for the use of an infant or family member who may have a serious disease.  Public banks do not charge parents a fee for storing cord blood, while private cord blood banks typically charge several thousand dollars for the initial banking followed by annual fees. 

 

Accreditation of cord blood banks is extremely important and public cord blood banks are held to better quality control than private banks. The process of collecting, processing and utilizing cord blood cells for possible transplantation to an infant or child with malignancies, metabolic disorders or immune deficiencies is arduous and should be supervised by regulatory agencies. At this point private cord banks do not all have to follow the same regulations and there is nothing to ensure that all cord blood banks comply. 

 

Many parents are also under the false assumption that their child’s stem cells harvested from the cord blood might be used if their child develops childhood leukemia. In fact, scientists have found that those stem cells already contain pre-malignant leukemic cells and would not prevent a reoccurrence of leukemia. In other words, those stem cells would not be used for transplantation, but rather another donor’s stem cells would be used for your child if they developed leukemia. 

 

Lastly, the chance that an infant’s cord blood stem cells will be utilized for transplantation to help another child is 30 times greater in the public cord blood banking system than from a private cord blood bank.

 

The pediatric hematologists and oncologists (doctors who take care of children with blood diseases and malignancies) I know do not recommend private cord blood banks and have had their own children’s cord blood donated to public cord blood banks. This is also the recommendation I gave to my own children.

 

So if you are having a baby and are getting asked if you want to participate in cord blood banking, I would skip the private companies and donate to the public cord blood bank where your child’s stem cells might help save another child’s life. 

 

Your Child

Will 60% of U.S. Children be Obese by Age 35?

2:00

As many as six in ten U.S. children could be obese by the time they are 35 years old. That sobering news comes from a study conducted by "Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study" (CHOICES).

The numbers are a result of data entered into a computer. The investigators first combined height and weight data from five studies involving about 41,500 children and adults. The computer then generated a representative sample of 1 million "virtual" children up to the age of 19, living in the year 2016. The model then predicted how obesity rates would unfold until all the virtual children turned 35.

The model indicated that being overweight or obese early in life bumped up the risk for being obese later in life. In addition, the more overweight or obese someone was as a child, the greater the person's chance of being obese by age 35.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 20 percent of American children between the ages of 6 and 19 years of age are currently obese. That reflects a tripling of the number since the 1970s.

The study’s lead author, Zachary Ward, a doctoral candidate in health policy with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health's Center for Health Decision Science, in Boston, noted that the results were not unexpected.

"It should not be surprising that we are heading in this direction. We are already approaching this level of adult obesity for certain subgroups [and] areas of the country." Ward said.

Still, Ward expressed some surprise at how strongly being obese at a very young age predicted obesity decades down the road. 

"For example, we found that three out of four 2-year-olds with obesity will still have obesity at age 35," he said. "For 2-year-olds with severe obesity, that number is four out five."

Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, was also not surprised at the findings.

"Trends show obesity occurring earlier in adulthood, and [the] current level of childhood obesity suggests that the trend will continue," said Sandon, who was not involved with the analysis. 

Because "obesity is difficult to reverse at any age," she said, prevention is key. Parents should not rely solely on public school nutrition and activity programs to do the job.

Earlier studies have suggested that obesity in children may begin in the womb if the mother is obese when she becomes pregnant, and develops gestational diabetes. This combination can produce a large child at birth. Studies have shown that babies born with higher amounts of fat at birth tend to continue having more body fat in childhood and on into adulthood.

Experts recommend that overweight women that are considering becoming pregnant, first lose the extra weight and be tested for type2 diabetes. If they are found to have type2 diabetes before they're pregnant, they should be treated beforehand; this will help their pregnancy and prevent complications.

Sandon also notes that there are other things parents can do to help insure a healthier child. "Concerned parents can make efforts to prepare and provide healthier foods at home, plan regular scheduled mealtimes, limit screen time, encourage participation in sports, encourage participation in active leisure time activities instead of more sedentary activities and, most of all, set an example by being active, having a healthy relationship with their own food choices and having regular mealtimes as well."

The study by Ward and his colleagues appears in the November issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Story sources: Alan Mozes, https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20171129/60-percent-of-us-kids-could-be-obese-by-age-35#1

Lucilla Poston, Professor, https://www.news-medical.net/news/20170111/Childhood-obesity-starts-in-the-womb.aspx

 

 

Your Baby

First U.S. Baby Born After Uterus Transplant!

2:30

An amazing event that could give hope to women who have been told they could never have a child because their uterus is nonfunctioning, unfolded recently in Dallas, Texas.

For the first time in the United States, a woman who was born without a uterus gave birth to a baby. The landmark birth took place at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, a part of Baylor Scott & White.

In an exclusive report by TIME, the details and background of this major undertaking are revealed.

The birth took place at Baylor — the first birth in the hospital’s ongoing uterus transplant clinical trial. Women who participate in the trial have what’s called absolute uterine factor infertility (AUI), which means their uterus is nonfunctioning or nonexistent. Most of the women in the trial have a condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome — and have lived their entire lives under the assumption that they would never be able to be pregnant or give birth to a baby. The procedure could also work for women with other medical issues, such as certain cancers.

The women in the clinical trial are transplanted with a uterus from either a living or deceased donor. The woman who gave birth received her transplant from Taylor Siler, a registered nurse in the Dallas area, who was a so-called “altruistic” living donor: a stranger who volunteered to donate her uterus to a woman without one. So far, Baylor says they’ve had over 70 women express interest in donating their uterus.

Baylor will complete a total of 10 uterus transplants as part of its first trial. So far the hospital has completed eight. At least three have failed. The hospital has confirmed to TIME that there is another woman in the trial who is pregnant, using a living donor uterus.

Baylor’s uterus transplant program is one of a handful to launch in the United States in recent years, and it’s the first to use both living and deceased donors. Successful uterus transplants from live donors have taken place in Sweden — a medical team at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg pioneered the first uterus transplant trial that resulted in eight births. This birth at Baylor is the first to replicate that success.

“We do transplants all day long,” says Dr. Giuliano Testa, the leader of the uterus transplant clinical trial at Baylor, and surgical chief of abdominal transplant for Baylor Annette C. and Harold C. Simmons Transplant Institute. “This is not the same thing. I totally underestimated what this type of transplant does for these women. What I’ve learned emotionally, I do not have the words to describe.”

The recipients in the clinical trial are between the ages of 20 to 35, and the donors must be between ages 30 to 60. “When you donate a kidney, you do it to help someone live longer and get off dialysis,” says Dr. Testa. “For these women, they are donating an experience.”

Once the women in the trial are transplanted with the uterus, they wait to recover and achieve menstruation, usually about four weeks from transplant. Women whose transplant is successful can then attempt in vitro fertilization (IVF). (The women in the trial have functioning ovaries that are not attached to their wombs, which is why IVF is required to get pregnant.)

Although the successful transplant and birth may give hope to many women, it comes at a steep cost. Uterus transplants are expensive, with some estimates putting the cost at up to $500,000. Like other infertility treatments, it’s very rare that an insurance company would cover the procedure, which is largely viewed as elective. Baylor covered the cost of the first 10 transplants in the clinical trial, but the medical team is now seeking funding—largely through donations from institutions and private donors—in order to continue. The team says many more transplants need to be done before it could be provided as a standard treatment. “The reality is that it’s going to be very difficult for many women to afford this,” says Testa.

Baylor says they do not view uterus transplants as a replacement for other approaches like adoption or surrogacy, but as another option for women and their partners.

Baylor will continue to follow the health of the baby as part of the study. The goal is for the birth to mark the beginning of a new field of infertility treatment research, rather than be an outlier.

For the complete exclusive TIME story you can click on http://time.com/5044565/exclusive-first-u-s-baby-born-after-a-uterus-transplant/

 

 

Your Baby

Pregnancy: Too Much, Too Little Weight Gain Adds to Health Risks

2:30

If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, starting your pregnancy at a normal weight is best for baby and you, according to new study.

The study found that too much or even too little weight, increases an expectant mom's risk for severe illnesses and death. 

"Not only for baby's sake, but also for your own sake, have a healthy diet and get regular exercise before pregnancy," said study lead author Dr. Sarka Lisonkova. She's an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia and the Children's and Women's Health Centre in Vancouver. 

"It's never too late, even if you're already pregnant," Lisonkova said, adding that weight gain during pregnancy can also increase the risk for severe illnesses and even death in expectant mothers.

The study was large, including information on three-quarter of a million women. The average age of the women was 28 years old.

The researchers found that the more a woman weighed, the more likely she was to have a severe illness or to die during pregnancy. Underweight women also had an increased risk for these outcomes. Severe illness included such conditions as eclampsia (convulsions or coma brought on by high blood pressure), sudden kidney failure, sepsis, hemorrhage and respiratory problems.

While the results sound scary, the risk to any one particular woman is low. For instance, the study found that, compared with normal-weight pregnant women, there were about 25 more cases of either severe illness or death for every 10,000 pregnant women if the woman was obese.

"The chance that any one woman dies in pregnancy is about 1 in 6,000 in the United States," said Dr. Aaron Caughey, who chairs the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland

However, what's especially concerning about this study's findings, he said, is that more and more women are entering pregnancy obese or super-obese. With higher levels of obesity, "there's an incredibly high inflammatory state that increases the risk of rare outcomes, like thromboembolism," a blood clot, Caughey said.

He said that underweight women likely had a chronic illness that increased their risk. 

Both Caughey and Lisonkova said that ideally, women should be at a normal weight before getting pregnant. If a woman isn't at her ideal weight, pregnancy is a good time to start focusing on things such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, they said. 

Pregnancy can be a "focusing event for affecting behavior change in women," Caughey said, because once pregnant, a woman often focuses on doing what she can to have a healthy baby.

"Pregnancy is a great time to think about diet and exercise, especially because women often drive health behaviors in the family, so there's no time like the present to make healthy changes," he said. 

Lisonkova also emphasized the importance of good prenatal care. "Clinicians can catch signs of potential complications earlier with regular checkups," she said. 

A woman will naturally gain weight while pregnant and that’s as it should be, but if you begin a pregnancy overweight it’s more difficult to keep the weight gain within the normal range. It’s healthier for mom and baby to begin a pregnancy at or close to a normal weight.

The study was published in the November edition of Journal of the American Medical Association.

Story source: Serena Gordon, https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/overweight-and-underweight-health-news-516/weighing-too-much-or-too-little-when-pregnant-can-be-risky-728505.html

 

 

Your Baby

Can More Fruit Consumed During Pregnancy Raise Baby’s IQ?

1:30

The USDA recommends that women consume 2 cups of fruit daily. This can include fruits that are fresh, canned, dried or frozen, as well as 100-percent fruit juice.

Fruit not only contains important vitamins, minerals and fiber but may also provide benefits for the children of moms-to-be who consume more fruit during pregnancy.

According to a new study from Alberta, Canada, the children of mothers that consumed higher levels of fruit during pregnancy, had better cognitive development by the time they were one-year-old.

Researchers said the effects of eating more fruit on test scores were significant.

"It's quite a substantial difference," Dr. Piush Mandhane, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta, said in a press release.  "We know that the longer a child is in the womb, the further they develop -- and having one more serving of fruit per day in a mother's diet provides her baby with the same benefit as being born a whole week later."

For the study, researchers analyzed data on 688 one-year-old children collected as part of the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study, and considered the amount of fruit their mothers consumed during pregnancy, gestational age at birth, parental lifestyle factors, including income and education, and cognitive tests given to the children.

Two-thirds of the population falls between 85 and 115 on the traditional IQ scale, with the average at about 100. The researchers found if pregnant mothers ate six or seven servings of fruit or fruit juice per day, their children scored six or seven points higher on IQ tests at one year old. There was no improvement in learning when only the babies were fed fruit.

The researchers noted that future studies will explore longer-term benefits of increased fruit consumption during pregnancy beyond one year of life, as well as whether higher intake of fruit affects development of other parts of the brain.

"We found that one of the biggest predictors of cognitive development was how much fruit moms consumed during pregnancy. The more fruit moms had, the higher their child's cognitive development," Mandhane said.

Experts recommend that pregnant women eat a variety of foods throughout the day to make sure they and their baby get the nutrients they need. A balanced diet contains fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, protein and dairy. Doctors often prescribe prenatal vitamins just in case a mom-to-be isn’t able to get all the nutrients she needs by diet alone.

While fruit is important to one’s overall diet, pregnant women should consult with their OB/GYN about their intake if they are diabetic or susceptible to gestational diabetes.

The study was published in the online edition of EBioMedicine,

Story source: Stephen Feller, http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2016/05/26/Eating-fruit-while-pregnant-helps-babys-cognitive-development-study-says/3311464273928/?spt=sec&or=hn

Your Baby

Exercising During Pregnancy

2:00

If you’re pregnant, you may be wondering if you should start or continue exercising. The answer is a resounding, yes!

Regular exercise throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy, improve your posture and help decrease common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue.

There is even evidence that physical activity may help prevent gestational diabetes, relieve stress and build more stamina needed for labor and delivery.

All of these benefits are good things.

If you were physically active before your pregnancy, there’s no need to stop. However, don’t try to exercise at your former level; instead, do what's most comfortable for you now. Low impact aerobics are encouraged versus high impact.

Check with your obstetrician for guidance if you are a competitive athlete, you may need specialized monitoring.

What if you have never been into exercise, should you start now that you are pregnant?  Absolutely!

You can safely begin an exercise program during pregnancy after consulting with your health care provider, but do not try a new, strenuous activity. Walking is considered safe to initiate when pregnant.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day on most if not all days of the week, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication.

While exercise is great for most moms-to-be, there are some women who should not exercise during pregnancy. They are women with medical problems such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. If you have one of these conditions, check with your OB/GYN about your options and follow his or her recommendations.

Exercise may also be harmful if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as:

           ·      Bleeding or spotting

           ·      Low placenta

           ·      Threatened or recurrent miscarriage

           ·      Previous premature births or history of early labor

           ·      Weak cervix

Talk with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Your health care provider can also give you personal exercise guidelines, based on your medical history.

Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy as long as you don’t overdo it.

The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, step or elliptical machines, and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth.

What about jogging, tennis and racquetball? All these activities require balance and coordination– which may change as you progress during your pregnancy.  If you’re healthy and have discussed these sports with your OB/GYN, go ahead and enjoy, but in moderation.

There are certain exercises that can be harmful during pregnancy. What exercises should be avoided? They are:

·      Holding your breath during any activity.

·      Activities where falling is likely (such as skiing and horseback riding).

·      Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball, and volleyball.

·      Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma such as activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction.

·      Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, or running.

·      Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches.

·      Bouncing while stretching.

·      Waist-twisting movements while standing.

·      Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity.

              ·      Exercise in hot, humid weather.

Stretching exercises can help make the muscles limber and warm, which can be helpful during pregnancy.

Kegal exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus and bowels. By strengthening these muscles during your pregnancy, you can develop the ability to relax and control the muscles in preparation for labor and birth.

Tailor exercises strengthen the pelvic, hip, and thigh muscles and can help relieve low back pain.

Many health providers have DVDs, websites or exercise pamphlets with instructions and examples available for their pregnant patients. There are also classes with instructors trained in leading exercise programs specifically for pregnant women.

What should a pregnancy program consist of?

A total fitness program should strengthen and condition your muscles. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and never exercise to the point of exhaustion.

Exercising during pregnancy has many advantages, but there are warning signals you should look out for. Stop exercising immediately and contact your health provider is you:

             ·      Feel chest pain.

             ·      Have abdominal pain, pelvic pain, or persistent contractions.

             ·      Have a headache.

             ·      Notice an absence or decrease in fetal movement.

             ·      Feel faint, dizzy, nauseous, or light-headed.

             ·      Feel cold or clammy.

            ·      Have vaginal bleeding.

            ·      Have a sudden gush of fluid from the vagina, or a trickle of fluid that leaks steadily.

            ·      Notice an irregular or rapid heartbeat.

           ·      Have sudden swelling in your ankles, hands, face, or calf pain.

           ·      Are short of breath.

           ·      Have difficulty walking.

           ·      Have muscle weakness.

The big question many women have after delivery is – when can I start working off these extra pounds? It’s best to start fitness routines gradually and follow your health provider’s recommendations. Too often, women who have just given birth are inundated with images of celebrities who look as though they have dropped 50 pounds and returned to their former sleek selves within weeks after delivery. However they accomplish this (think spandex & a personal trainer that works you relentlessly), it’s not necessary or even healthy to try to capture your former body immediately.

Most women can safely perform a low-impact activity one to two weeks after a vaginal birth (or three to four weeks after a cesarean birth). Do about half of your normal floor exercises and don't try to overdo it.

Exercising during pregnancy is not a “one routine fits all” kind of thing. You can strengthen your muscles and reap the benefits of exercise while pregnant, just do it under the guidance of your health provider. He or she knows your limits, your medical history and will be able to help you achieve the best results.

Story source:

Traci C. Johnson, MD, http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/exercise-during-pregnancy.

 

 

Your Baby

High-Sugar Intake During Mom’s Pregnancy May Double Child’s Risk of Asthma

2:00

It’s no secret that moms-to-be often develop a sweet tooth during pregnancy, but new information suggests high-sugar foods and drinks may double their child’s risk for developing asthma and allergies later in life.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London used data gathered from nearly 9,000 mother-child pairs in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, an ongoing research project that tracks the health of families with children born between April 1, 1991, and December 31, 1992.

During the study, the participating pregnant women were asked about their weekly intake of certain foods and specific food items including sugar, coffee and tea. Their responses were used to calculate their intake of added sugar.

The researchers only saw weak evidence to suggest a link between women’s added sugar intake and their children’s chances of developing asthma overall. But when they looked specifically at allergic asthma—in which an asthma diagnosis is accompanied by a positive skin test for allergens—the link was much stronger. Children whose moms were in the top fifth for added sugar during pregnancy were twice as likely to have allergic asthma when compared to children whose moms were in the bottom fifth.

Children of mothers with the high-sugar diets were 38% more likely to test positive for an allergen and 73% more likely to test positive for more than one allergen, compared to those kids whose moms stayed away from added sugar.

"The dramatic 'epidemic' of asthma and allergies in the West in the last 50 years is still largely unexplained -- one potential culprit is a change in diet," said Annabelle Bedard, lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at Queen Mary's Centre for Primary Care and Public Health Blizard Institute. "Intake of free sugar and high fructose corn syrup has increased substantially over this period."

As with most studies, a cause and effect was not established, only an association. The study’s authors believe that the association is strong enough to warrant further investigation.

Lead researcher Professor Seif Shaheen  said: "We cannot say on the basis of these observations that a high intake of sugar by mothers in pregnancy is definitely causing allergy and allergic asthma in their offspring.

"However, given the extremely high consumption of sugar in the West, we will certainly be investigating this hypothesis further with some urgency.”

There are many health reasons why pregnant women should limit their intake of high-calorie and sugary foods and drinks. This research suggests that it may be prudent for the health of their unborn child as well.

Story sources: Susan Scutti, http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/05/health/sugar-pregnancy-child-allergy-asthma-study/index.html

 Henry Bodkin, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/07/06/high-sugar-intake-pregnancy-linked-double-risk-child-asthma/

Daily Dose

The Flu Vaccine For Moms-To-Be

I have the opportunity to see (not treat) a lot of pregnant women in my practice and they have been asking me my opinion about flu vaccine during pregnancy.

They were inquiring about both seasonal flu vaccine and H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine. The statistics surrounding pregnancy, influenza and secondary infections or other complications have been documented for several years. Retrospective studies done in the late 1990s showed that healthy pregnant women were more likely to have complications from influenza and had higher death rates than expected. This was especially noted in women in the last trimester of their pregnancies. Due to these studies the CDC and ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) recommended that all pregnant women receive seasonal influenza vaccine. Despite these recommendations, more than 50 percent of OB’s recently surveyed do not routinely recommend flu vaccine and do not provide vaccine in their offices. I see many expectant mothers who are totally surprised when I ask them if they have received a flu vaccine from their OB. In fact only 1 in 7 pregnant women are being vaccinated. This may be partially due to the fact that OB’s have not routinely been vaccine providers, as we pediatricians have been, and are now becoming more aware about universal recommendations for flu vaccine in pregnancy and are ordering vaccine for their patients to receive during routine obstetrical visits. Flu vaccine is safe throughout pregnancy. This year is especially significant in that the H1N1 (swine) flu has also caused serious complications and deaths in pregnant women. The data shows that a disproportionate number of the deaths seen from swine flu (about 6 percent) were in pregnant women. Pregnant women are four times more likely to be hospitalized than other flu sufferers. This may be due physiological changes in lung function during pregnancy, as well as to differences in immune function. Regardless of the reasons, pregnancy in and of itself puts a woman at increased risk of serious complications, hospitalization and even death. Pregnancy is typically a time that we see the “the glow of pregnancy”, not complications or even death from having the flu. As an added benefit of vaccination, the antibodies that a pregnant woman will produce after vaccination will then be transported across the placenta to help protect the newborn. Passive transport of maternal antibodies may be the best protection for a newborn in the first two months of life. This is especially important for those infants being born during the height of the flu season. As you know we cannot give an infant flu vaccine until they are six months of age. With both H1N1 influenza currently circulating throughout the U.S. and seasonal flu yet to come, now is the time to make sure that you are vaccinated, especially if you are pregnant. Lastly, pregnant women should not receive live –attenuated flu vaccine (Flu-mist), but should receive the injectable flu vaccine for both seasonal flu and H1N1. You may receive both flu vaccines on the same day.  It is equally important for the father of the baby to be immunized against both types of flu to minimize the newborn’s risk of exposure as well. The best protection for a newborn is vaccination of those who will be caring for the infant during the flu season!! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon.

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Should you bank your baby's blood cord?

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