Friday, July 31, 2009

Complimentary Online Access to Breastfeeding Medicine in August

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Provides Complimentary Online Access to Breastfeeding Medicine for the Month of August.

New Rochelle, NY—In Recognition of World Breastfeeding Week, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ( will provide free online access to Breastfeeding Medicine for the entire month of August. Breastfeeding Medicine, a MEDLINE journal and the official publication of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, is an international peer-reviewed medical journal providing physicians with the evidence-based information they need to further educate themselves, their hospital staff, and patients on all aspects of breastfeeding to ensure optimal care for both mother and infant. All published issues will be available free online at

“Breastfeeding has a major impact on healthcare outcomes and costs because the baby has fewer medical problems (such as ear infections, allergies, and obesity) as does the mother (such as lower incidence of breast and ovarian cancers). It gives me great pleasure to extend online access to everyone for the month of August,” said Mary Ann Liebert, President and CEO of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

“Breastfeeding Medicine focuses on the most authoritative and up-to-date clinical information, spanning both maternal and child health,” said Ruth Lawrence, MD, Editor-in-Chief and founding member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.

Breastfeeding Medicine publishes original scientific papers, reviews, and clinical case studies on a wide spectrum of topics in lactation medicine such as: epidemiology; physiological and psychological benefits of breastfeeding; breastfeeding recommendations and protocols; health consequences of artificial feeding; optimal nutrition for the breastfeeding mother; breastfeeding indications and contraindications; breastfeeding the premature or sick infant; breastfeeding in the chronically ill mother; management of the breastfeeding mother on medication; and much more.

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Journal of Women’s Health, Pediatric Asthma, Allergy, & Immunology, and Obesity Management. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 65 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available at


Pregnant Heidi Klum on Conan O'Brian

A cute, funny interview with pregnant Heidi Klum for your Friday viewing pleasure:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eating seafood while pregnant may boost mood

Eating omega-3-rich seafood may be a mood-lifter for women who are feeling depressed during pregnancy, suggests a study of British women.

In the study, Dr. Jean Golding, at the University of Bristol, and colleagues found an association between a low omega-3 fatty acid intake from seafood and an increased risk of high levels of depressive symptoms during pregnancy.

They report the finding in the latest issue of the journal Epidemiology.

The researchers studied 9960 pregnant women. At 32 weeks of pregnancy, the women completed a questionnaire that included questions about mood and the amount of seafood they ate weekly during 1991 and 1992 -- a period when seafood was the main source of omega-3 fatty acids in Britain.

Compared with pregnant women who ate 3 or more servings of seafood per week - the equivalent of more than 1.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids -- those who ate no seafood were about 50 percent more likely to report symptoms of depression at 32 weeks of pregnancy, the researchers found.

The association between low seafood intake and greater symptoms of depression remained strong even when Golding's team accounted for a variety of factors that might influence the results.

Depression during pregnancy is harmful for both mother and child, Golding and colleagues note in their report. Although common in western countries, depression appears to be virtually absent in countries where people eat a lot of fish.

The researchers call for further investigation into ties between seafood intake and depression in pregnancy, particularly in light of recommendations for pregnant women to limit some seafood consumption due to its mercury content.

"It's possible," they wrote, "that limiting intake in accordance with this advice could increase the risk of maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy."


Pregnant Women Will Be Included in H1N1 Flu Vaccine Trials

As predicted, pregnant women are, indeed, on the government's list of the first folks to be vaccinated against the H1N1 "swine flu" virus. The panel of experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended yesterday that the new vaccine be provided first to pregnant women and adults with compromised immune systems, who face a greater risk of complications, and others, like children and health-care workers, who are at higher risk of becoming infected, says Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Some 159 million people fall into these high-priority groups, and whether there will be enough vaccine for all of them when it first becomes available isn't known.

In the event that there are shortages, the panel also came up with a superhigh-priority list of those who should be vaccinated—some 41 million individuals. Once again, pregnant women are on this list. Just how many of them will rush out to get vaccinated, however, remains a mystery. Studies suggest that fewer than 15 percent of expectant moms currently get the seasonal flu vaccine, but more may be willing to get the H1N1 vaccine—and their doctors may push harder for them to have it—given the latest data showing that pregnant women infected with H1N1 are more likely to develop severe complications.

The trouble is, many pregnant women are extremely cautious about getting any shots or medicines because of the potentially harmful effects that these agents could have on a developing fetus. In fact, vaccines that contain live weakened viruses, like measles, aren't administered during pregnancy because of the possibility that they could cause a high fever in the woman—raising the risk of birth defects—or an infection in the fetus. The seasonal flu and H1N1 shots, however, contain dead viruses that don't pose either of these problems. Still, many experts agree, the H1N1 vaccine should be tested in pregnant women before it's licensed for use during pregnancy. (Studies have already established that seasonal flu vaccine is safe and effective to use at any stage of pregnancy.)

The National Institutes of Health is set to begin testing the vaccine in pregnant women in the next month or two. "We're still awaiting word from our institutional review board, so we don't yet know who will be included," says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Although he says there's no reason not to include pregnant women at the earliest stage of pregnancy, the review board could "out of an abundance of caution" limit the trials to women who are beyond the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Unfortunately, he adds, safety and efficacy data won't be available from those pregnant women trials when the vaccine initially becomes available in late October.

One question the trials may address is at what stage during pregnancy the vaccine should be given. Swine flu complications tend to be much worse when women get infected near the end of pregnancy as opposed to during the first 12 weeks. And there's always the possibility—no matter how remote—that something administered during those early weeks when a fetus's organs are still developing could cause birth defects.

By and large, there's no reason to think that the H1N1 vaccine will pose any problems for pregnant women since it's being produced in exactly the same fashion as the seasonal flu vaccine. What's more, Mark Steinhoff, director of the global health center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, adds, pregnant women who get vaccinated will probably also confer antibody protection to their newborns who are too young to be vaccinated themselves. This could prove lifesaving if H1N1 infections become extremely widespread or the virus mutates into a deadlier strain.

Pregnant women are also advised to get Tamiflu if they experience symptoms of swine flu like high fever, sore throat, and a cough. But some experts are concerned over the lack of research on the use of this drug in pregnant women infected with H1N1. "We are hugely concerned that we don't know what the right dose is for pregnant women," says Ruth Faden, director of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. "While it may be that the standard dose of Tamiflu is perfectly appropriate, it's at least possible that it's an insufficient dose for pregnant women at a given stage in pregnancy." That's because pregnant women's kidneys clear drugs faster from the body, which means that certain drugs may not enter the bloodstream at therapeutic levels. (This has been demonstrated with some antibiotics, but Tamiflu hasn't been tested in pregnant women.) "I think the message we should be getting out is that pregnant women should be vaccinated," she says, and that those who get infected and treated with Tamiflu should be studied in clinical trials to see if the drug is given at an effective dose. "This is a tough situation. I wish we weren't in it."


Gisele's Baby Bump Photoshopped Out

She may have strutted her baby bump down a Brazilian runway just a little over a month ago, but when it comes to her latest ad campaign, Gisele Bundchen’s bump is no where in sight. The supermodel, who is expecting her first baby with husband Tom Brady, shows off her famous body in just a barely-belted, classic London Fog trench coat for the brand’s fall ad campaign. But don’t expect to see a dramatic reveal of the supermodel’s swelling tummy. “Although Gisele was photographed while pregnant, most of the shots have been retouched to respect her privacy during this wonderful and personal time in her life,” Dari Marder Chief Marketing Officer, London Fog revealed in a press release. “Nobody is sexier or more beautiful than Gisele Bundchen in nothing but a London Fog trench coat, even with her visible baby bump,” adds Marder. Make that barely-visible. Gisele’s London Fog ads will debut in October fashion, lifestyle and entertainment magazines as well as on billboards and online.


Angie Everhart interview with Fit Pregnancy during her pregnancy

She’s graced the covers of Elle and Glamour magazines. She’s posed for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and Playboy. She’s acted in films such as Last Action Hero and Bare Witness, as well as television series including Celebrity Mole and The Ex-Wives Club. And now, supermodel Angie Everhart is taking on the role of a lifetime: motherhood. We spoke to her by phone during the 39th week of her pregnancy.

How are you feeling?
A: I’ve been feeling great. For the first three months, I had a lot of morning sickness, noon sickness, evening sickness, middle of the night sickness … but, since then I’ve had a breezy pregnancy. I’m very fortunate that I don’t have a 9-to-5 job, so I can work when I work, and have had a lot of free time to enjoy my pregnancy. In the first trimester, I took a lot of naps, and I’ve never been a nap-taker. I couldn’t help it—it was like having narcolepsy.

Q: I read that you were developing a reality TV series about your pregnancy called Angie Baby. Can you tell us about that?
A: I actually decided not to do it. I wanted to keep the pregnancy more private. I might do something afterward; but right now, it’s just more about me and my son together.

Q: You’re keeping the father’s identity private, and have said publicly that you’ll be raising the baby on your own. Can you tell us more about that?
A: I’m not really keeping the father’s identity private; it’s just that he’s not in the business, so he’s not anyone you would know. I think the father will be involved as much as he wants to be involved. I will be a single mom—I’m not going to marry him, and we’re not a couple. But, I’ll have a lot of friends and family helping. My friends are really great and my family is just beyond great. I’m lucky. I have outstanding parents who have really come through and are super excited about a new grandson. As they say, it takes a village to raise a kid.

Q: As a model, has being pregnant affected your body image?
A: That has been the hardest thing for me because, even as a model, my image of thin is a lot thinner than the average person’s image of thin. When I think of thin, I think of really thin—we used to have to starve ourselves to get up on the runway. As I got older, I wasn’t as skinny as I used to be, but I definitely have never been overweight. As the months went on and my breasts grew—I mean, you see them, and it’s like ‘Whoa!’—that has been the hardest part. Your body is so enormously different compared to what it is in everyday life. You have to just keep thinking: ‘I’m pregnant, I’m not fat. I’m pregnant, I’m not fat. (Although I feel fat.)’ I tell people I feel like a camel—I try to joke about it. I’m trying to keep it as light as I can.

Q: What’s your fitness routine been like throughout your pregnancy?
A: For the first five or six months, I worked out, but not as much as I normally do, because I’m pretty crazy when it comes to working out. In the last few months, I haven’t worked out at all—I took a vacation. I expected to go crazy without all the endorphins, but it’s not really bothered me. I’ve just been listening to my body. Plus, it’s too hard to move around right now. I can’t even put my own socks on.

Q: Do you plan to breastfeed?
A: I do. Right now, I have DDs, so this boy is going to have a boob fetish when he grows up. They’re DDs now, so I can’t even imagine what will happen when the milk comes in—do they even make bras that big? Seriously, I really want to breastfeed. I know it’s difficult in the beginning, but I’d like to try.

Q: You’re the fifth of six siblings. Would you like to have more kids some day?
If I’m blessed to have more kids, I will. But, I’m 39 years old, so I don’t know if it’ll happen. Women are having babies older and older, but right now, I’m just concentrating on the one I’ve got. I think if I do have another kid, it would be in more of an ideal situation where I’m in a relationship, rather than doing it on my own.

Q: What else are you working on right now?
A: I just did a commercial, some radio spots and print work for Palmer’s, specifically for their stretch mark product. It’s the first thing I bought when I found out I was pregnant. My mom gave me that advice—be sure you put a lot of moisturizer on your tummy so you don’t get stretch marks. I used the cream morning and night, and I haven’t gotten any stretch marks. It was great in the first trimester because there’s no fragrance in it to make you nauseous.

Q: How are you feeling about the impending labor and delivery?
A: Well, I have a very bad back, and have had back surgery, so my doctor told me that my back wouldn’t be able to handle the labor and pushing. So, I don’t really have the option of natural childbirth—I need to have a C-section. I’m just taking it as it is and going in for my scheduled date. I’m as prepared as I can be for not really knowing what to expect.

*Angie Everhart gave birth to her son, Kayden Bobby Everhart, on Friday, July 25th.


Woman forced into VBAC at home

In labour with her fourth pregnancy at her Pambula home, Rebecca Nelson’s irregular contractions had her thinking she had time for a shower before the ambulance arrived to take her to Bega Hospital.

That was until her waters broke.

When the ambulance arrived 20 minutes later, the 24-year-old and her new daughter Ruth were recovering in the family bathtub after sister-in-law Karen Nelson helped with the DIY home birth.

Rebecca’s husband Andrew stayed on the 000 line throughout the ordeal.

It was a frightening time with Rebecca at high risk of haemorrhage due to previous caesareans.

“I was thinking ‘what happens if something goes wrong?’” Rebecca said this week.

Rebecca had swatted up on emergency home births knowing the distance she would have had to travel to get to Bega Hospital.

She even did a first aid course with Karen the day before Ruth was born.

“I strongly suggest it for other women,” she said.

“It’s better to have information about it, than have it happen and not be prepared.

Within ten hours of making it to Bega Hospital, Rebecca chose to discharge herself.

“It’s not private. You’re meant to be bonding with your baby and it’s meant to be as relaxed as possible and a momentous occasion,” she said.

Rebecca was also concerned about sharing bathrooms with other patients.

“I felt like there was higher risk of infection.”

Rebecca thanked the Ambulance Service of New South Wales who were “just brilliant” and also the nurses who “do their best but are very stretched”.


Top baby bottle leached more chemicals

Now the good news: Cheaper alternative yields safer results than big-name brand, Health Canada finds.

A top brand of baby bottle leached more than double the amount of a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to breast and prostate cancer than a cheaper house brand, new Health Canada tests show.

The tests involved government scientists filling two polycarbonate bottles containing bisphenol A with boiling water and heating them for six days.

The study, uncovered during an Access to Information request, showed that the bottles, purchased from an Ottawa store, were not created equal.

It found that the concentration level of BPA, an estrogen-mimicking chemical, in the water in the Philips Avent's top-selling baby bottle, Avent Naturally, was 516 parts per billion (ppb).

In the Teddy's Choice bottle, manufactured by Loblaw Companies Ltd., it was 228 ppb.

The Avent bottles containing BPA are no longer sold in Canada. Loblaw Companies did not respond to a request about the status of its Teddy's Choice bottles.

Nevertheless, consumer advocates say parents should take note of the results because older, hand-me-down bottles are still in circulation in households, despite a pending ban of BPA in baby bottles.

Chantal Vallerand used Avent bottles for her three-year-old son when he was a baby. When her daughter was born last spring, she switched to glass bottles after Health Canada announced steps to ban BPA in plastic baby bottles.

Health Canada said "uncertainty" raised in some studies about the possible detrimental health effects on babies when exposed to "low levels" of the chemical warranted the ban.

The Health Canada study concluded the Avent bottles likely started out with a higher level of BPA residue.

"Because all bottles were under the same migration conditions, the differences between the migration levels are likely due to the different levels of residue BPA in the product," the report said.

A separate Health Canada study of undisclosed brands also found a similar range when researchers filled bottles with boiling water and let them sit at room temperature; the concentration levels of the hormone disrupter in the water ranged from 1.7 ppb to 4.1 ppb.

Philips Avent stopped selling baby products with BPA in Canada last summer in response to market pressures and the pending ban, expected to come into effect later this year.

The company made the switch in the United States in January.

A spokesman for Philips Canada declined to comment specifically on the test results, but the company maintains its entire line of bottles are "considered to be the best designed, best engineered in the world."


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jude Law Expecting Fourth Child

Jude Law’s spokesperson has released the following statement exclusively to Entertainment Weekly and

“Jude Law can confirm that, following a relationship last year, he has been advised that he is to be the father of a child due in the fall of this year. Mr. Law is no longer in a relationship with the individual concerned but he intends to be a fully supportive part of the child’s life. This is an entirely private matter and no other statements will be made.”

Law, 36, is currently single and has three children with his former wife, Sadie Frost. He will appear on Broadway in Hamlet, which opens in October, and will star opposite Robert Downey Jr. in the movie Sherlock Holmes, opening Dec. 25.


How to save your marriage from your kids

Many couples do exactly what Greg and I did, says Carol Ummel Lindquist, Ph.D., author of "Happily Married with Kids: It's Not Just a Fairy Tale" and a mom of two. We give plenty of attention to our children and not nearly enough to each other. And over time, that shift in focus can start to hurt even the most solid relationships.

"The irony is that a strong relationship with your partner is one of the best things you can do for your kids," Lindquist says. "You and your husband are modeling a good relationship, which sets your children up for better marriages themselves when they grow up."

Sounds ideal -- but tough. First of all, we're just more tired. Who's got the energy to be romantic after spending a day at the beck and call of a baby?

And then there's all that unabashed baby love. More than one doe-eyed mom I know has sheepishly admitted that, for a while, she loved her new baby more than her husband.

How can you keep a focus on your marriage when most of your time and energy is devoted to your kids? "Try to treat your relationship with your partner as the one that's most important in your life -- even more than the one with your children -- and the whole family will benefit from it," says John Rosemond, a family psychologist and author of "John Rosemond's New Parent Power."

Sounds harsh to put your baby second? Rosemond says he isn't suggesting that parents forget about their kids' needs, and he admits that there will be some natural relationship neglect during the first years of your child's life. But, he says, it's actually pretty easy for you to do small things that will convey to each other -- and to the kids -- how much you value your relationship.

Sure, you hug your kids and pet your dog every day. But do you greet your husband with the same enthusiasm? Once in a while, kiss and hug as if one of you is going away and you aren't going to see each other for a week.

You don't need a whole weekend away or even a regular "date night" to keep the spark alive. Dov and Chana Heller, both Beverly Hills-based marriage therapists and the parents of five, take short walks alone to catch up when they can.

Another option: Pair up to chauffeur the kids to daycare or pick them up from an activity, and use the kid-free portion of the commute or waiting time to chat.

"When my kids were young, everyone went to bed by eight-thirty every night, no exceptions," says Mary Anne Koski of Lake Oswego, Oregon. She and her husband, Kent, raised nine kids, and the only time they got to spend alone was at the end of the day.

Chore time can also be prime couple time. After putting their daughter to bed each night at 7:30, Jessica Boulris and her husband, Brad, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, turn off the TV and listen to music while they make lunches for the following day, iron clothes, or fold laundry.

There's an added benefit to this kind of couple time: "Because we're helping each other get stuff done, there's no resentment about who does more," says Jessica.

Ask yourself, "What did we used to have fun doing together?" Whether it's listening to live jazz or playing miniature golf, try it again.

Most of us have criticized our husbands for not feeding or dressing our kids exactly as we would do it. "But this can make dad feel more like a parenting aide than an equal partner," says Rosemond. And if he doesn't think you trust him to take care of your kids as well as you do, resentment can build.

Colleen Langenfeld of Monument, Colorado, and her husband actually prefer a "date night" at home, rather than out. They rent a movie, put their two boys to bed, and pop a few frozen dinners in the microwave so nobody has to cook.

If you can appreciate that the challenging times in your marriage are temporary, you're less likely to feel trapped. Feeling disconnected from your partner while your kids are little is going to happen -- and it doesn't mean that your marriage is on the rocks.

No matter how hard it may be at times, investing in your marriage now, while your children are young, is vitally important. "One of a child's greatest anxieties is the fear that her parents won't stay together," says Rosemond. "So what is a child's greatest comfort? Knowing that her parents' relationship is as strong as it can be."


Swine flu striking pregnant women hard

Pregnant women infected with the new H1N1 swine flu have a much higher risk of severe illness and death and should receive prompt treatment with antiviral drugs, U.S. government researchers said on Wednesday.

While pregnant woman have always had a higher risk of severe disease from influenza in general, the new H1N1 virus is taking an exceptionally heavy toll, the researchers said.

"We do see a fourfold increase in hospitalization rates among ill pregnant women compared to the general population," Dr. Denise Jamieson of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a telephone interview.

Jamieson said pregnant women who suspect they have influenza should call their doctors promptly. The CDC recommends pregnant women with influenza get antiviral drugs as soon as possible, within the first 48 hours to be most effective.

Dr. Keiji Fukuda of the World Health Organization said WHO has not yet decided on its policy on the use of antivirals for pregnant women with H1N1.

Jamieson said pregnant women need to be aware of the risks if they become ill, but they do not need to change the way they live because of the new H1N1 flu.

"We do not have evidence that pregnant women have increased susceptibility or are more likely to acquire influenza," Jamieson said.

"It's just that when they have influenza they are at increased risk of having severe disease," she said.


This Week's Celebrity Baby Bumps

Here are this week's sightings of Hollywood's expectant mothers. As usual, Sarah Michelle Gellar takes the cake for her maternity fashion sense with Heidi Klum setting the trends as well. Ellen Pompeo is calling for bigger scrubs - stat!, on the set of Grey's Anatomy. Kendra Wilkinson and Ashley Jensen are looking comfortable as their dogs get some time outdoors. Camila Alves is looking gorgeous, as always, showing off her cute little bump in a chic yellow and black ensemble as she and Matthew McConaughey watched the Tour de France.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

FDA reverses position on mercury fillings for pregnant women and children

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday silver-colored dental fillings that contain mercury are safe for patients, reversing an earlier caution against their use in certain patients, including pregnant women and children.

"While elemental mercury has been associated with adverse health effects at high exposures, the levels released by dental amalgam fillings are not high enough to cause harm in patients," the FDA said, citing an agency review of roughly 200 scientific studies.

Still, in final regulations issued as part of an earlier legal settlement, it said the fillings were now considered "moderate risk" devices and will include details about the risks and benefits of the products. They will also carry warnings against their use in patients with mercury allergies or in poorly ventilated areas.

Millions of Americans have such fillings to patch cavities in their teeth and the FDA said it does not recommend patients have them removed. The fillings, also known as amalgams, are a combination of other metals and mercury, which at certain levels has been linked to brain and kidney damage.

In 2006, Moms Against Mercury and three other groups sued the FDA to have mercury fillings removed from the U.S. market. Later that year, an FDA panel of outside experts said most people would not be harmed by them, but said the agency needed more information.

Mercury -- whether in dental, vaccines, fish or other products -- has generated a lot of controversy. Some consumer groups contend the fillings can trigger a range of health problems such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease.

But Susan Runner, acting director for the FDA division that oversees dental devices, said there was no "causal link" between amalgam fillings and health problems.

"The best available scientific evidence supports the conclusion that patients with dental amalgam fillings are not at risk," she told reporters on a conference call.

Over the past 20 years, the agency has received just 141 reports of problems in patients with the fillings, she added.

That conclusion counters a statement the agency made last June that the fillings may cause health problems in pregnant women, children and fetuses.

Amy Carson, president and co-founder of Moms Against Mercury, said she was disappointed in the FDA's reversal. Her group, along with several others, filed a new petition on Tuesday, again calling for a ban on mercury fillings, she added.


Swine flu vaccine: Pregnant women to the head of the line

Swine flu has been hitting pregnant women unusually hard, so they are likely to be among the first group advised to get a new swine flu shot this fall.

Pregnant women account for 6 percent of U.S. swine flu deaths since the pandemic began in April, even though they make up just 1 percent of the U.S. population.

On Wednesday a federal vaccine advisory panel is meeting to take up the question of who should be first to get swine flu shots when there aren't enough for everyone. At the top of the list are health care workers, who would be crucial to society during a bad pandemic.

But pregnant women may be near the top of the list because they have suffered and died from swine flu at disproportionately high rates.

"Are they more at risk for severe disease? That's the issue," and it appears they are, said Dr. Denise Jamieson, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pregnant women's risk from swine flu has been a raging topic in Europe, following the contentious suggestion this month by British and Swiss health officials that women should consider delaying pregnancy if they can.

Most health officials call that advice unwarranted — since pandemics can last more than one year — but have agreed that the health risks are significant. In a recent report, World Health Organization experts found that pregnant women appear to be "at increased risk for severe disease, potentially resulting in spontaneous abortion and/or death, especially during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy."

However, so far, WHO has not recommended that pregnant women get priority vaccinations.

Now doctors are waiting to see what's decided by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, whose guidance usually is accepted by the CDC and influences doctors and U.S. insurance coverage.

For more than a decade, the committee has recommended that pregnant women get vaccinated for seasonal flu, which is considered a serious threat even to pregnant women who are young and healthy. Pregnant women are unusually vulnerable — especially in the third trimester — due to changes in the lungs and immune system that make it harder for them to shake off respiratory infections, said Dr. Kevin Ault, an Emory University obstetrician.

CDC data indicate swine flu is at least as dangerous. Of 302 U.S. deaths attributed to swine flu to date, the CDC has detailed information on 266 of them. The agency has found that 15 of the 266 were pregnant women — or about 6 percent.

The first American with swine flu to die was a pregnant woman in Texas. Judy Trunnell, 33, died May 5 after slipping into a coma and giving birth to a healthy baby girl, delivered by Cesarean section.

Some infected pregnant women have other health problems. Trunnell, for example, also had asthma. But many of the pregnant women who died were considered relatively healthy, suggesting pregnancy itself is a significant risk, Jamieson said.

"I think the whole concept that this flu only affects pregnant women with underlying medical conditions is incorrect," Jamieson said.

Experts believe an effective vaccine would benefit not only a pregnant woman but also her unborn child.

Infants, whose immune systems are weak, should not get a flu shot until they are at least 6 months old. So whatever immunity they have is passed on to them by their mothers, doctors say.

The belief in the protective powers of a mother's vaccination on their unborn children was demonstrated in a study of women in Bangladesh published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine. It found that flu shots given to pregnant women reduced flu in infants by 63 percent.

Only about 15 percent of pregnant women get seasonal flu shots, experts noted, so it's not clear how many will get the new shot.

Some women avoid regular flu shots, worried about possible risks to the fetus, but studies have not shown any increased dangers from the shot.

Until recently, many obstetricians haven't offered them, choosing to avoid the expense of buying and storing vaccine and the hassle of trying to convince reluctant patients, said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University flu expert.

The United States expects to begin testing swine flu vaccines on some volunteers in August, and predicts 160 million doses may be ready by October.


NY Passes Breastfeeding Mothers’ Bill of Rights

New York state government finally got back to work and has passed a law to help encourage breastfeeding.

Interestingly enough, the same week, a mother was pushed into breastfeeding in a family restroom at a Brooklyn Ikea store.

The press release by Senator Malcolm A. Smith said the bill was passed because of the recognition that many women forgo the option of breastfeeding their child, despite the health and economic implications of using formula. Oftentimes, women who forgo breastfeeding are those who can least afford it—low-income women, whose child was often placed on formula shortly after birth, without their knowing.

Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) has worked for years on the legislation.

Here’s what this new bill includes:

  • * Before You Deliver: The right to information free from commercial interests, good information on the nutritional, medical and psychological benefits of breastfeeding; an explanation of some of the problems a mother may encounter, and how to avoid or solve them.
  • * In the Maternal Healthcare Facility: The mother’s right for her baby to stay with her after delivery to facilitate beginning breastfeeding immediately; to insist the baby not receive bottle feeding; to be informed about and refuse any drugs that may dry up breast milk; 24 hour access to the baby with the right to breastfeed at any time.
  • * When You Leave the Maternal Healthcare Facility: The right to refuse any gifts or take-home packets from the care facility that contain formula advertising or product samples; access to breastfeeding resources in one’s community.

Breastfeeding friend Senator Krueger said of the legislation:

It is time that we as a society stop being hung up on breasts — after all 51% of us have them evolutionarily engineered for feeding babies — and start doing what is right for the health and well-being of our newborns and moms.

And what about those mothers who already breastfeed, who know the benefits, but then come into contact with idiot employees at stores and restaurants (and even public pools)? New York, as most states, protects a mothers right to breastfeed in public. Let’s hope that some enlightenment occurs soon!


Breastfeeding Saves Lives In Emergency Situations

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is promoting World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, with the theme Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response.

In emergency situations, the safety net that breastfeeding provides to babies is crucial. Research shows that infants are the most vulnerable population in an emergency, and are more prone to getting diarrhea and other illnesses. Yet babies who are breastfed receive a safe, reliable food source that is full of anti-infective properties to protect them from disease.

"The cleanest, safest food for an infant is human milk because it is readily available. During a disaster, there may not be clean water to mix formula or sanitize bottles and nipples, or a means to preserve formula if there is no electricity," said Rosanne Smith, breastfeeding coordinator for the OSDH Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants receive only human milk (no formula, food or water) for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding and the addition of complimentary foods for up to one year or beyond.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that it is safe to continue breastfeeding if mother or baby has the flu, including the new influenza A H1N1 virus, since the infant would likely have been exposed to the virus before the mother?s symptoms appeared. Mothers make antibodies to fight diseases that they come into contact with, and pass along this immunity to their infants through their breastmilk. This is especially important in young babies when their immune system is still developing. If the mother is too sick to breastfeed, it is recommended that she pump her milk and have someone give the expressed milk to the baby.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Mayo researchers find anesthesia not harmful for babies during birth process

Mayo Clinic researchers have found that children exposed to anesthesia during Cesarean section are not at any higher risk for learning disabilities later in life than children not delivered by C-section. These findings are reported in the current issue of the journal Anesthesiology.

"We found that the incidence of learning disabilities was equal between children who were delivered vaginally and those who were delivered via C-section but with general anesthesia," says Juraj Sprung, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist who led the study. "It's reassuring that the anesthetics required for Cesarean delivery do not appear to cause long-term brain problems."

The study was conducted with data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project. Researchers analyzed the medical records of 5,320 children born between 1976 and 1982 to mothers living in Olmsted County. They compared birth records with scholastic achievement and IQ tests administered to the children later in life as part of their schooling.

The study builds on a previous project, reported in March, which found that children exposed to a single dose of anesthesia during the first three years of life had no increased risk for learning disabilities, but those exposed multiple times had an almost doubled risk for later identification of learning disabilities.

Prolonged exposure to anesthetics has been shown to cause brain abnormalities in young animals, which was the impetus behind these two studies. Scientists think that the brains of young animals and humans are more vulnerable to a variety of problems because they are undergoing rapid growth. The brain is forming vital connections between cells during this time.

Not only did the researchers find that the use of anesthesia during delivery was not harmful to the baby, they found that babies delivered by Cesarean using an epidural anesthetic (which numbs only the lower region of the body and does not involve the mother going to sleep) had a substantially reduced risk for learning disabilities later in life. "The risk was reduced by about 40 percent compared to children delivered vaginally and those delivered via Cesarean section but with general anesthesia," says Dr. Sprung.

Study co-author and Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist Randall Flick, M.D., cautions that because this study is preliminary, changes to medical practice should not be considered at this point. "What we've found is an association between two things," says Dr. Flick. "One is the way a child was delivered, either vaginally or under regional or general anesthesia. The other is a difference in the incidence of learning disabilities as the child attended school. It's important to recognize there may be many other factors that impact learning disabilities."

The team is investigating whether use of an epidural on a mother during natural labor has similar effects on the incidence of learning disabilities in children as a C-section with an epidural.


Father Gets a Taste of Pregnancy

After my wife had given birth to our second child, my editor at BabyTalk called me with an assignment: See what it's like to be pregnant by wearing an "empathy belly" -- a sort of pregnancy suit for men for one day.

Full of bravado, I insisted that I would also wear the belly at night, so that I'd have it on a full 24 hours.

That was before we learned that the makers of the empathy belly suggest wearing it no longer than three hours at a time. (Something to do with not wanting the husband to freak out by the instant changes, collapse, and suffocate, I believe.)

I borrowed my 33-pound empathy belly from the College of Nursing at the University of Cincinnati. It's not just a belly though: The contraption consists of two foam breasts; a rib belt designed to constrict the lungs and make it harder to breathe; two seven-pound lead balls inside the belly; a two-pound suspended weight that simulates a baby's kicking; and a weighted pouch that represents the baby's head on the woman's -- or in my case, man's -- bladder.

No 'big' deal

On Saturdays, I try to give my wife a break by taking our two girls -- Isabelle, 2, and Lorelei, 3 months -- to visit my parents. This day wasn't any different, save for the empathy belly in the trunk of the car (you're not allowed to drive while wearing it).

I thought it would be helpful to spend some time outside my own home wearing the belly to truly understand how a pregnant woman feels. But I also knew deep down that I'd probably conveniently forget to mention to my parents that I had brought it along.

Fortunately, my wife had sent over an e-mail reminding everyone. In another lucky break, my parents had a friend visiting, Debbie, who, along with my mom, was all too happy to help me put on the empathy belly. As soon as they strapped on the rib belt (giggling all the while), I felt frighteningly short of breath. And when I sat down on the sofa, I immediately felt an acutely uncomfortable sensation -- the bladder pouch.

"It's not so bad," I said, glancing at my mother and Debbie, who both seemed to be euphoric about my plight. But after the novelty wore off a little, the two launched into a conversation related to work.

I remained on the sofa, taking note that yes, I had some slight pressure on my bladder, and sure, I couldn't take deep, deep breaths, but this wasn't so tough. It's not like I feel that different than before, I thought, absently fondling my fake breasts. In front of my mom.

I yanked my hands away and tried to pry myself off of the sofa. Immediately, Isabelle asked me to pick her up. "Oh, jeez," I muttered, squatting down. The empathy belly instructions are adamant that you shouldn't bend down without squatting; I didn't want to test my luck.

As I lifted her, other than a brief puzzled glance, Isabelle didn't even seem to notice my misshapen body, which was a big relief. (After I accepted this assignment, I worried that when Isabelle grew up, she would have a foggy memory of her father with a pregnant belly, keeping a therapist employed for years.) My 2-year-old was just happy I was holding her -- which meant one of us was happy. After all, she's 31 freaking pounds.

"You seem kind of cranky," my mother said.

"It must be my hormones," I sighed. I looked at my watch. I had only been wearing the empathy belly for 15 minutes, and I knew I should go at least another hour or two. I didn't want to admit it to anybody, but, by this point, I wasn't enjoying my pregnancy at all.

I probably logged in about 90 more minutes, and three bathroom trips, until I'd had enough. When I arrived home with the girls, my wife was beaming. "Your father sent me the photos," she said. Cursed e-mail.

I wasn't mad at my dad for sending the photos. But I was mad at him for telling Susan that I had said, "Wearing this empathy belly is much more difficult than actually being pregnant." My wife quickly replied, "Tell Geoff that if he likes, he can try being pregnant for five minutes, and he will see how comfortable the empathy belly is." And then she reeled off a list of things that the empathy belly would never do, like "give you insomnia, give you hemorrhoids, and make you push a baby out of an opening the size of a lemon." She also took issue with the fact that I could take the empathy belly off at any time and leave it in a box.

The next day, my wife, daughters, and I went back to my parents' house for lunch, where the main course was my grandmother's fried chicken. Not two minutes into the visit, my wife was volunteering to help me put on the belly. Susan yanked the rib belt around my chest much tighter than my mother and her friend had.

If the experience was strange the day before, now it was surreal. My Uncle Joe was annoyed that I was sitting beside him, because I seemed to take up all of the space around me. My Uncle Larry just appeared amused. As did my brother, his girlfriend, my parents and my wife. At least my grandmother seemed supportive. Until, that is, after dinner, when she looked my way and offered a challenge: "I'll bet you can't tie your shoes." Et tu, Grammy?

I retreated upstairs with Isabelle for a while. At one point, I tried lying on my side, imagining what it might be like to sleep like that for an entire night. Honestly, I'm not sure how any woman does it.

Watching Isabelle play, I had some time to reflect on a lot of things, like how lonely pregnancy can feel. I mean, sure, you're a celebrity for a while -- Susan got a lot of attention from the family when she was pregnant, and I was getting a lot, in a different sort of way. But at the same time, if you're the only pregnant person in the room, and the only person who has to think about how to navigate across the room, well, there's a sense of solitude to the whole thing.

And helplessness. When Isabelle and I were going downstairs, she wanted me to carry her, but I was worried about tackling the stairs with my arms full of preschooler. I shouted for my father, who came to Isabelle's rescue while I retreated to the restroom for probably the fifth time since we had arrived.

But when I finished my business and reached down to zip my pants, my belly kept getting in the way. Grunting, I pulled and pulled, until I finally placed my fake stomach on the counter, bent my knees, and tried to pull. I wound up toppling into the bathtub. I stood, holding up my pants with one hand, gingerly descended the stairs, and snuck into my parents' den.

I tried putting my belly on my father's desk, which was a little higher than the bathroom counter. Still no luck. Sweat was dripping off of me now, and my forearms were aching -- all from trying to zip my pants.

After about five minutes of struggling, I gave in and called for Susan. This was a two-person job. "I don't know how you zipped your pants all those months," I said.

"Maternity pants don't come with zippers," she replied.

I waddled a mile in her moccasins, and I have to admit, I have a new respect for all pregnant women. I especially have to admire women who repeat the pregnancy experience.


Does Birth Order Matter?

Does birth order matter? It certainly seems to. A recent survey of 10,000 mothers by the British website NetMums, found that 77 percent believe being the oldest, or youngest, or somewhere in between, has a definite influence on a child’s personality and achievements.

They think the oldest is the most likely to achieve academically, but also most likely to be anxious and depressed. The youngest, in turn, is viewed as the most likely to be the happiest. The survey also found that women who were oldest children are likely to become more “demanding” mothers themselves, while those who were middle children are “more laid back” when it comes to parenting, and youngest children are most likely to lavish their children with praise.

The take away message is that parents should monitor themselves, and notice when they are treating the “baby” like a baby, or laying too much responsibility on the oldest, or ignoring the middle child completely. But mostly the question is a parlor game, since there is little one can do about their own birth order.