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Posts tagged ‘Pregnant Women’

Smoking during pregnancy in England lowest on record

Women who smoke while pregnant could be damaging their babies hearts

The number of women smoking during pregnancy across England is down to 12%, the lowest recorded level, figures for 2013-2014 show.

But there were large regional differences, with 5% in London smoking up to nearly 21% in the North East.

Rates have fallen 16% since first measured in 2006-7, the Health and Social Care Information Centre said.

Smoking while pregnant can damage babies’ hearts and increase the risk of miscarriage and premature birth.

The government has set a target to reduce the rate to 11% or less women smoking at the time of delivery by 2015.

Still ‘way to go’

The report shows 39% of local health areas have met this target so far.

Alan Kingsley, chair at the HSCIC said it was “encouraging” to see the decline in numbers of pregnant women who smoked.

But he added: “There is still a little way to go to achieve the national ambition.

“Today’s figures highlight there is a still work to be done and it is fundamental that mothers-to-be are aware of the damaging effects smoking can have on their baby.”

NHS Blackpool had the highest rate, with 28% of pregnant women smoking.

Other areas with high smoking in pregnancy rates were South Devon, the Isle of Wight, Wiltshire and Lincolnshire.

Meanwhile, central London had the lowest rate of 2%.

Map showing rates of smoking in pregnancy, by CCG


via BBC News – Smoking during pregnancy in England lowest on record.

Pregnant women on junk food diets risk junk food addict babies

Yet another reason for pregnant women to follow a healthy diet? Researchers in Australia say women who eat a diet high in junk food risk giving birth to junk food addicts in the future. Photo courtesy: AFP RELAXNEWS/ Monkey Business Images/

(Relaxnews) – Pregnant women are being warned to drop the bag of potato chips and slice of pizza following the results of a new study suggesting that a fatty, sugary diet may make your child a junk food addict as well.

Published in the March issue of The FASEB Journal, researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia say their study provides further proof that pregnant women need to be particularly careful of their diet.

For their research, scientists studied pups born to two groups of female rats: the first was fed normal rat feed, while the other was fed a range of human junk foods during pregnancy and lactation.

After the pups were weaned, both groups of baby rats were given daily injections of an opioid receptor blocker.

Opioids are released upon consumption of high-fat and sugary foods.

In theory, blocking opioid signaling was supposed to reduce the rats’ intake of fat and sugar by preventing the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.

In their experiment, however, scientists found that the receptor blocker was less effective at reducing the fat and sugar intake in the pups whose mothers were fed junk food.

The suggestion? Babies born with a higher tolerance to junk food need to consume more junk foods to achieve the “feel good” response.

Meanwhile, another study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the best way for mothers to develop healthy eating habits in their kids — particularly in low-income households — is to empty the pantry of junk foods and lead by example rather than restricting their kids’ eating. Copyright (AFP RELAXNEWS), 2013.

mysinchew –

Border Agency ‘endangering pregnant women’s health’

UK Border Agency logo
The agency says a policy change means women are not moved within four weeks of their due date

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is endangering the health of some pregnant women seeking asylum and their babies by relocating them, a report has said.

The report by Maternity Action and the Refugee Council found examples of women moved against medical advice and too close to their due date.

Twenty women and 17 midwives involved in their care were interviewed.

A UKBA spokesman said the conclusions were drawn from a small sample, and ignored recent policy changes.

The study also found examples of:

  • Women being moved to new accommodation multiple times
  • Women being separated from the father of their baby
  • Women giving birth without a birth partner following a move

The report also points out that asylum-seeking women often have high-risk pregnancies, due to serious physical health conditions that can be related to having fled torture, sexual violence or female genital mutilation in their own countries.

Many suffer from serious mental health conditions, including severe depression, flashbacks and suicidal thoughts, the report added.

But UKBA relocations were separating women from specialist treatment and monitoring, it said, contrary to National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence guidance.

“It is high time the UKBA recognised asylum-seeking women as being a particularly vulnerable group with complex needs, and urgently ensure their policies reflect this,” said Maternity Action director Rosalind Bragg.

“Our society is failing these women and their babies,” said Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives.

Ms Warwick added: “If these women or their babies are not to suffer serious consequences we must offer them the chance of continuity of care throughout pregnancy and childbirth from a team who understand their needs.”

‘Resources wasted’

There were also examples of NHS resources being wasted when scans and tests were repeated following a relocation, the report said.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Wherever possible, women in the latter stages of pregnancy will not be moved”

SpokesmanUK Border Agency

Shan Nicholas, interim chief executive at the Refugee Council, said: “We work with pregnant women every day who have been ripped away from their families and healthcare, causing undue distress and health problems at what should be an exciting and positive time of their lives.

“The UKBA must stop sending pregnant women to live in new cities unless all risks have been considered and adequate healthcare arrangements have been made.”

The Refugee Council and Maternity Action are calling on the government to urgently review its policies to ensure the asylum system no longer puts women and their babies at risk.

A UKBA spokesman said: “We consider every case individually and, wherever possible, women in the latter stages of pregnancy will not be moved to a different area.

“Last year we introduced a revised pregnancy dispersal policy which includes a commitment to not move any pregnant woman during the four weeks before or after her due date.”

He said that asylum-seekers were only moved when it was “safe and practical to do so”, adding: “Those with severe or complex healthcare needs have their clinicians notified throughout the process.”


Coffee and cake lowers IVF success

cup of coffee

Pregnant women are advised to drink no more than a few cups of coffee a day

Regular trips to the coffee machine or having a diet packed with saturated fat have been linked to lower IVF success rates by fertility experts.

One study suggested heavy coffee drinking was as bad as smoking for IVF success rates.

Another showed saturated fats lowered the number of eggs that could be used in IVF, while a ‘Mediterranean diet’ boosted birth rates.

Experts say lifestyle affects both the chances of IVF and natural conception.

Dietary habits

Dr Ulrik Kesmodel, a consultant gynaecologist, presented data at the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) meeting in Turkey.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

This work reinforces the need for a good lifestyle for those trying to have a baby; eat and drink in moderation, and don’t smoke”

Richard Kennedy Secretary of the International Federation of Fertility Societies

It involved 3,959 women having IVF at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.

One in 20 women were drinking more than five cups of coffee a day. This group of women were half as likely to become pregnant as those who did not drink coffee.

The researchers said this was as damaging to the chances of a successful pregnancy as smoking.

Dr Kesmodel said: “It does seem reasonable, based on our results and the evidence we have about coffee consumption during pregnancy, that women should not drink more than five cups of coffee a day when having IVF.”

It is not known whether drinking tea or other caffeinated drinks would have the same effect.

Dr Kesmodel said: “The assumption is that caffeine is the culprit although we don’t really know. There are so many substances within coffee.”

The British Coffee Association said a there was no need to completely cut caffeine from the diet as there were “no harmful effects” with low levels of consumption.

Its executive director, Dr Euan Paul, said: “For pregnant women or those trying to conceive, an upper limit of 200mg of caffeine per day is perfectly safe.

“This is the equivalent of 2 to 3 cups of coffee.”

Harmful fats

A separate analysis by the Harvard School of Public Health, in the US, investigated how differences in 147 women’s diets affected IVF.

Diets high in saturated fats, such as those from butter, fatty meats and cheese, lowered the number of eggs a women produced for IVF.

Meanwhile a diet high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil and avocados, was associated with an increase in the live birth rate, although there were too few women in the study to say exactly how big the increase was.

The lead researcher Dr Jorge Chavarro said that women should consider adapting their diet anyway as it is already considered to be good for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

He said: “We know that these types of diets are generally healthy and from that perspective I think it makes total sense not only for women undergoing assisted reproduction, but anyone, to follow these kinds of diets.”

Richard Kennedy, the secretary of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, said that “many” lifestyle choices made it harder to conceive both naturally and through IVF.

He said: “This work reinforces the need for a good lifestyle for those trying to have a baby; eat and drink in moderation, and don’t smoke.”


Weight management ‘benefits’ for mother and baby

Pregnant woman eating salad
Pregnant women are already advised to eat healthily

Dieting in pregnancy is safe for women and does not carry risks for the baby, a review of research has suggested.

The British Medical Journal analysis looked at the findings from 44 previous studies involving more than 7,000 women.

The London-based team said following a healthy diet – and not eating for two – prevents excess weight gain and cuts the risk of complications.

But current guidelines do not advocate dieting or weight monitoring.

The advice from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), published in 2010, says: “Dieting during pregnancy is not recommended as it may harm the health of the unborn child.”

However women are advised to aim to reach a healthy weight before conceiving.

Babies’ weights ‘unaffected’

Half the UK population are either overweight or obese and the rates are rising.

And in Europe and the US, between 20% and 40% of women gain more than the recommended weight during pregnancy.

High weights are linked to complications such as pre-eclampsia, diabetes and high blood pressure as well as early delivery.

We should be careful to note that the researchers are not advising women to lose weight during pregnancy”

Dr Janine Stockdale, Royal College of Midwives

This review, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), compared diet, exercise or a combination of the two.

Dietary advice was based on limiting calorie intake, having a balanced diet and eating foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and pulses.

The researchers then examined how much weight women gained during their pregnancies and if there were complications.

While each approach reduced a woman’s weight gain, diet had the greatest effect with an average reduction of nearly 4kg (8.8lbs).

With exercise, the average reduction in weight gain was just 0.7kg (1.5lbs). A combination of diet and exercise led to an average reduction of 1kg (2.2lbs).

Women following a calorie-controlled diet were significantly less likely to develop each of the complications considered, but the researchers say those findings need to be repeated in larger studies.

Babies’ birth weights were not affected by dieting.

‘Simpler and easier’

Dr Shakila Thangaratinam, a consultant obstetrician at Queen Mary, University of London who led the study, said: “We are seeing more and more women who gain excess weight when they are pregnant and we know these women and their babies are at increased risk of complications.

“Weight control is difficult but this study shows that by carefully advising women on weight management methods, especially diet, we can reduce weight gain during pregnancy.

“It also shows that following a controlled diet has the potential to reduce the risk of a number of pregnancy complications.”

She added: “Women may be concerned that dieting during pregnancy could have a negative impact on their babies. This research is reassuring because it showed that dieting is safe and that the baby’s weight isn’t affected.”

But in a commentary in the journal, women’s health experts from St Thomas’ Hospital in London – including Lucilla Poston who helped develop the NICE guidance, said it would be “premature” for the current guidance, which only recommends women be weighed at their first pregnancy check-up, to change.

Dr Janine Stockdale, research fellow at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “We should be careful to note that the researchers are not advising women to lose weight during pregnancy; this is about managing excessive weight or weight gain.

“If a woman is on target to gain the right amount of weight during her pregnancy, then ‘dieting’ and ‘calorie-controlled dieting’ as we commonly understand these terms, is not for her.

“We need to reassure women that under the care of a midwife or other health professional, weight management is safe.”


Chemo safe for pregnant women

LONDON (AP) ― Researchers have encouraging news for women who find themselves in a very frightening situation: having cancer while pregnant. Studies suggest that these women can be treated almost the same as other cancer patients are, with minimal risk to the fetus.

Only about 1 in 1,000 pregnant women face this dilemma, but doctors fear that more will because the risk of cancer rises with age, and more women are delaying having children until they’re older.

Doctors have long worried about how to balance treating a pregnant woman with cancer and the need to protect her fetus from the effects of toxic cancer drugs and radiation treatments, and whether it is safe to continue a pregnancy in certain situations. A series of papers in the journals Lancet and Lancet Oncology published Friday make several key contributions:

― A Belgian-led study of 70 children in Europe exposed to chemotherapy while they were in the womb found they developed just as well as other children, according to tests on their hearts, IQ and general health. They were assessed at birth, 18 months, and every few years until age 18.


Caroline Swain poses for a photo with her sons Max (left), 10, and Luke, 9, at their home in Rayleigh, England. (AP)

― Chemotherapy after the first trimester is possible, using extra ultrasounds to ensure the baby is developing properly. Radiation therapy is best done in the first two trimesters, when the baby is small enough to be covered with a lead blanket, according to a review of previous studies, led by Belgian researchers.

― Ending the pregnancy doesn’t improve chances for the mother, the same study found.

― The type of cancer seems to matter: An Israeli analysis of past research suggested pregnant women with blood cancers might want to terminate an early pregnancy when chemotherapy can’t be delayed.

― Another review of previous studies by French and American researchers concluded doctors should aim to preserve pregnancy in women with cervical or ovarian cancers where possible.

“Many (doctors) aren’t keen to give chemotherapy to pregnant women and may even recommend termination,” said Dr. Frederic Amant of the Leuven Cancer Institute in Belgium, an author of two of the papers. “But treating a pregnant woman with cancer doesn’t have to be so different from treating a cancer patient who isn’t pregnant.”

Amant, who led the study of 70 children, said most of the children with cognitive problems were born premature, and that was probably the primary cause of their delayed development.

“Doctors will often err on the side of caution and deliver a baby early to avoid the effects of chemotherapy,” said Dr. Catherine Nelson-Piercy, an obstetric physician and spokeswoman for Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

“These data don’t say that chemotherapy is completely safe, but the baby is better off being in (the mother) as long as possible,” she said. Nelson-Piercy was not linked to the Lancet series and often works with pregnant women diagnosed with cancer or other illnesses.

Dr. Richard Theriault, a professor of medicine at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, said he hoped the papers would change how doctors treat pregnant cancer patients.

“Terminating a pregnancy is not always necessary,” said Theriault, who heads a program to treat pregnant women with cancer. He said a minority of pregnant women with cancer still get abortions.

He said the placenta seems to act as a kind of filter for chemotherapy drugs, restricting their effects on the fetus. “There’s the phenomenon of the bald mother who gives birth to a baby with a full head of hair,” he said. “It seems to suggest not as much gets to the baby as we thought.”

That was certainly Caroline Swain’s experience, who was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant with her second son. She had her left breast and many lymph nodes removed and had to wait until her fetus was 12 weeks old before starting chemotherapy.

“I was just so grateful it was possible to have treatment and keep my baby,” said Swain, 45, who lives near London. “I was scared that my child wouldn’t remember me if something happened to me.”

Her son Luke, now 9, weighed in at 7.4 pounds (3.35 kilograms) when he was born, only slightly lighter than his older brother Max a year earlier.

“We had celebrations all around when Luke came out absolutely fine,” Swain said of her and her husband Rowland’s relief at the birth. “Luke is no different from his brother,” she said. “They both love Legos and X-Box.”


Read More : The Korea Herald

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