Friday, October 16, 2009

Ear Acupuncture Curbs Back Pain in Pregnant Women

A special acupuncture technique can help ease lower back and pelvic pain in pregnant women, new research shows.

In a study, women who had pressure needles held in place with tape at three acupuncture points in their ears for one week, were more likely to experience significant reductions in lower back and pelvic pain than those who had the needles placed at three "sham" points or women in a control group who didn't get real or fake acupuncture.

Pregnant women often suffer from pain in the lower back and pelvis -- and this can set the stage for chronic pain later on, Dr. Shu-Ming Wang of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut and colleagues note in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Ear acupuncture might offer a drug-free way to help ease pain in these women, Wang and colleagues say.

They randomly assigned 159 women in the 25th to 38th week of pregnancy to receive real acupuncture, acupuncture delivered to points that would theoretically not affect pain in the pelvic or lower back area, and a control group.

Every woman was also instructed to use self-care as needed, including resting, taking acetaminophen, and applying warm and cold compresses.

All of the 152 women who completed the two-week study reported some degree of pain reduction and improvement in their ability to function.

A 30 percent or greater reduction in pain was reported by 81 percent of women in the acupuncture group, 59 percent of women in the sham acupuncture group and 47 percent of women in the control group. The difference between the sham and control groups wasn't statistically significant.

Thirty-seven percent of women in the acupuncture group were pain-free after a week of acupuncture, compared to 22 percent in the sham group and 9 percent of the control group. Improvements in function were significantly greater among women who had real acupuncture compared to those who got the fake version or received no treatment.

But the pain relief didn't persist for some; a week after the end of acupuncture treatment, 68 percent of those who received the real thing still had a 30 percent or greater reduction in pain compared to the beginning of treatment, while 32 percent in the sham acupuncture group and 18 percent of the control group sustained this level of pain reduction. There was no significant difference among the groups in the percentage remaining free of pain two weeks into the study.

The only side effect was temporary tenderness in the ear area, reported by one woman in the acupuncture group and three in the sham acupuncture group.

The treatment is inexpensive, the researchers note, at a cost of $17 to $20 for a pack of 100 needles, and it takes about three minutes for the needles to be put in place if an experienced person is doing the job.


The Monetary Benefits of Having Kids

Historically, the nation's birthrate has risen and fallen with the economy, plunging to record lows during the Great Depression , booming in the post-World War II years, then dipping again during the stagflation-battered early 1970s.

Tiffany Seigler of Evanston, Ill., understands that uncertainty. "Even though we want them, we just can't afford to have kids," she says. "I hope we can someday, but right now, I just don't think we can."

Research isn't exactly reassuring. The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, says a second child born in 2008 will cost middle-income parents $221,190 -- and that doesn't include college.

But some experts say we might be looking at the numbers from the wrong angle -- that the cost of a child is calculated unfairly unless it also factors in how much a child saves parents.

"This report is only providing one piece of the financial puzzle," says Clint A. Costa, a certified public accountant in Chicago. "It's not balanced with things like the tax credits and deductions parents might be eligible for."

No one's suggesting you have a baby just to save on taxes, but Costa says things such as child care credits, dependent exemptions and child tax credits should be considered when prospective parents run the numbers. Taken together, they can knock about a third off the cost of raising a child.

Here's a rough breakdown of some numbers Costa says should be considered before hitting the snooze button on your biological clock:

Dependency exemption. Over the next 17 years, parents of a child born in 2009 can deduct at least $3,500 a year from their income, assuming the exemption remains unchanged. But it's likely to rise; Costa projects an average of $4,500 a year. If the parents are in the 25% tax bracket, that's a savings of $19,125. State exemptions vary, but even a $1,250 child exemption in a state with a 5% income tax rate would be worth $1,063 over 17 years.

Total savings: $20,188.

Child tax credit. The $1,000 child credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes owed. Over a child's first 17 years, that's $17,000 saved. Local child tax credits also vary by state. New Yorkers, for example, can claim up to $333 a year.

Total savings: $22,661 (federal plus average state credit based on New York).

Child and dependent care credits. Although many conditions apply, in general, most child care expenses qualify for an annual $600 per child federal credit until a child reaches age 13. This adds up to $7,800. States also cut parents a break. According to the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, the average state credit (.pdf file) is $454 a year. That's $5,902 for 13 years. You can see what your state offers here.

Total savings: $13,702.

College savings plans. To help offset some college expenses, parents can open a 529 savings account for their child. The savings grow tax-free. Our middle-income couple in the 25% bracket tucking away $2,500 a year will enjoy a $12,750 tax savings by the time their child graduates from high school, assuming the investment returns 6.4% a year.

Total savings: $12,750.

Specialty credits. Parents in the North Star State may be able to claim an education credit for as much as 75% of what they spend on school supplies and other education-related expenses for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Those in Illinois can claim up to a $500 tax credit. And Iowans may be able to claim a credit of up to $250 for tuition and textbooks through graduation.

Total savings: $5,200 (based on an average state credit).

While any one family may not be able to take full advantage of all those savings, Costa says that at least $61,776 needs to be lopped of the $221,190 estimate. On top of that, parents should be able to deduct some portion of the $17,250 in health care expenses the Agriculture Department report warns them to expect.

Are parents really poorer?

While those who opt out of the diaper brigade don't have to budget for baby clothes and textbooks, that doesn't mean they've got greater earning potential.

The U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey 2007 (.xls file) found that parents tend to earn more than childless adults. Fathers are 13% more likely to earn $50,000 to $74,999, and 17% more likely to earn $100,000 or more than their kid-free counterparts, while mothers were 10% more likely to make $50,000 to $74,999 (though less likely to make more than $100,000) than women without kids, according to the report.

The surprising disparity in paychecks, analysts say, is usually the result of parental obligations. "Parents are driven to earn because they've got more than their own mouth to feed," says Michael Kay, a CPA, a certified financial planner and the president of Financial Focus in Livingston, N.J.

Kay says there are also significant differences in the ways parents and childless couples approach money. "Childless couples tend to act as if there is less pressure. They are focused on themselves, while couples with children think more about the what-ifs: What if their children or grandchildren need their financial assistance? What kind of legacy should they leave?"

And that, he says, often translates to thriftiness and prudent nest-egg building. "Parents doing proper planning tend to be better savers because they have to be," says Kay.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maternity and Health Insurance Disparities

Is the fact that women experience discrimination in regards to health insurance coverage even debatable at this point? It is critical that health reform discussions address the health issues that disproportionately affect women in this country. Whether we're discussing a public option or more equitable private coverage, women's health must be front and center. The Service Employees International Union has done extensive research, promoted actions and continues to raise awareness around these issues so special gratitude is due to SEIU for the facts and figures below.

Did you know?

  • Only 14 states require insurance companies to cover maternity care.
  • Only 12% of individual insurance plans include comprehensive maternity coverage.
  • Insurance companies can consider prior cesarean sections as a "pre-existing condition" and deny a woman coverage for childbirth. Additionally, in Florida for example, women who have had C-sections are charged 25% more in premiums if they want to retain their health insurance coverage of birth.
  • In Illinois, according to a Chicago Sun-Times article on 6/26/07, a woman's emergency C-section (much to her physician's consternation) was denied coverage by BlueCross BlueShield.
  • For that matter, pregnancy itself is often considered a "pre-existing condition" by insurance company, therefore it's a reason to deny coverage. According to a 2008 study conducted by the National Women's Law Center, "The vast majority of individuals market health policies that NWLC found do not cover maternity care at all. Even if a woman is not currently pregnant, it is unlikely that an insurer will provide or even offer maternity benefits as part of her regular insurance policy."
  • Victim of domestic violence? As the SEIU flyer says, in eight states and Washington DC it is legal for insurance companies to deny health coverage to victims of domestic violence. In fact, when the vote to ensure coverage for individuals in this situation came to the floor of the Senate in 2006 (through a proposed bill by Washington state Senator Patty Murray), ten Republicans voted against it, killing the bill.
  • In 2007, Senate Republicans voted to override regulations requiring insurance companies to cover mammograms in more than 20 states. The year prior, ten Republicans voted against requiring insurance companies to cover mammograms.

For the above reasons and so many more, advocates, bloggers and activists have come together to create an awareness campaign, "I Am Not A Pre-Existing Condition" and demanded stronger reform on these issues.

Read more at:

What to Look for in a Prenatal Vitamin

For the health of you and your baby, your doctor will suggest taking prenatal vitamins during pregnancy to make up for nutritional deficiencies in your diet. During pregnancy, your need for certain nutrients such as folic acid, calcium, and iron increases and may not be met by a well-balanced diet. Always consult your doctor about the type of prenatal vitamin and proper dosage appropriate for you and never take more than the recommended amount.

Taking more than the recommended amount of vitamins can jeopardize your baby's health so be sure to keep track of your daily intake. Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration has no set guidelines for what goes into the prenatal vitamins, meaning it's your responsibility to research what is in the vitamins you're taking and decide what's best for you.

Important Vitamins and Minerals

Folic Acid

Folic Acid can reduce the risk of spina bifida which can cause paralysis and mental retardation in your baby. Doctors suggest you begin taking approximately 600 mcg of folic acid each day as soon as you find out you're pregnant. Natural sources of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and citrus fruits.


When you're pregnant, your body generates more blood and, as a result, your iron stores are spread thin. Iron supplements help you and your baby's blood carry more oxygen. During pregnancy, your iron requirement doubles to approximately 27 mg (milligrams) of iron per day.


Calcium prevents your bones from losing density as your baby draws on your stores of the mineral for its own bones and teeth development. However, the amount of calcium you need during pregnancy remains the same: 1000 mg a day.


This mineral helps regulate blood pressure, nerve impulses, and muscle contractions.

Vitamin A

This vitamin is important for cell growth, healthy mucous membranes, and helps your baby resist infections. Vitamin A is also essential for postpartum tissue repair.

Pantothenic Acid

If you are lacking this vitamin during pregnancy your baby's growth may be slowed. Pantothenic acid is responsible for growth, appetite regulation, digestion, healing wounds, and also helps prevent stretch marks.

If any of your doctor recommended supplements or prenatal vitamins cause nausea, ask him or her to prescribe a different prenatal vitamin with a lower dosage. If you have a difficult time swallowing them, try a smaller pill or one with a slick coating to help it go down easier.


The Frightening Story of a Pregnant Mom who Survived Swine Flu

Karin McHugh almost lost her life and that of her unborn child to swine flu.

McHugh, her husband Brian, daughter Emily and baby Liam appeared on "Good Morning America" today to share their shocking story just two weeks after McHugh returned home from the hospital.

"I'm very fortunate," she told "GMA" co-anchor Robin Roberts. "My outcome is a miracle."

McHugh was 29 years old, and 38 weeks into her pregnancy when she developed a cough in July.

"It started on a Tuesday," she recalled. "It just started with a cough; I had been wheezing."

The possibility that she might have the H1N1 virus never occurred to the Collingswood, N.J., woman.

I don't even think I've ever had the flu," she said. "I called my OBGYN to see what I could take. She said to see my family practitioner."

McHugh was initially diagnosed with bronchitis and given an inhaler, but five days later, she started running a fever. By Saturday she "couldn't even get out of bed."

"I told my husband, you have to take me to the hospital," she said. "Something's not right."

"She definitely knew that something was definitely wrong," her husband Brian McHugh said. "I felt naïve to the fact that anything this serious could happen."

When X-rays showed McHugh had fluid in her lungs, doctors thought she had pneumonia and placed her on a respirator.

It didn't help, and she was tested for H1N1. McHugh had to undergo an emergency C-section, and remained in a medically induced coma for seven weeks after delivering a healthy baby boy.

"She was as sick as anyone could be," Scott Halpern, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania said.

McHugh was placed on a heart-lung bypass machine, but despite doctors' best efforts to keep her stable, she twice suffered cardiac arrest.

McHugh met her son, Liam, for the first time when he was nearly 2 months old.

"The child almost certainly would have died had the C-section not been performed because there was not nearly enough oxygen to support Karin, let alone support the child," Halpern added.

Brian McHugh was torn between relief over his healthy newborn son and fear for his wife.

"Once I knew Liam was ok then I just focused all my attention on Karin," he said.

Officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that through late August, about 100 pregnant women in the United States required hospitalization in the intensive care unit for infection with the new strain of the H1N1 virus. Of these women, 28 so far had died due to complications directly associated with the virus.

Despite sobering warnings from the CDC that pregnant women are seven times as likely to be hospitalized with H1N1 and four times as likely to die from it, some women -- with the advice of their doctors -- are choosing not to get the vaccine because they fear its potential effects on their unborn babies.

"If I had heard a story like this when I was expecting I definitely would have gotten the vaccine if it was available," McHugh said.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Babies Love "Single Ladies"

Kanye West called it "one of the best videos of all time" at last month's MTV Video Music Awards. Turns out he's not the only tantrum thrower who feels that way. Toddlers can't get enough of Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" video.

Tributes by diaper-clad babies continue to multiply on YouTube, a year after the release of the singer's female-independence anthem. A two-minute video of a 13-month-old boy leaning against a coffee table as he bounces and kicks along to Beyoncé, who looms before him on a wide-screen TV, recently passed 2.8 million views. (The boy couldn't even walk at the time, according to his father Chester Elliott, who has since started a website called See it here:

"The song is very Teletubbies," says Tony-nominated musician Kenny Mellman. "If you listen to it, there is very little music. It's all drum and Beyoncé's voice." Kara Shall, communications director of Baby Loves Disco, agrees. "Young children love songs with good rhythm and repetition, and 'Single Ladies' certainly has both," says Shall, whose company once a month in 21 cities turns bars into child-proof discos. (She also notes that her own children, ages 5 and 2, are big fans of the Beyoncé song.)

Like some rogue Baby Einstein offering, the black-and-white "Single Ladies" video provides visual and aural stimulation well suited for the under-2 crowd. Babies love high-contrast colors, steady beats and smiling women's faces. "Single Ladies" has all of these things.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled about the "Single Babies" phenomenon.

"What putting babies in front of this video does is deprive them of hands-on creative play, which is the foundation of learning," says Dr. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and author of The Case for Make Believe. "Babies aren't asking to be put in front of these videos. They're not congregating in front of the watercooler to talk about Beyoncé. They don't get anything from the video that they couldn't gain from parents who play music around the house."

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends no screen time for children under age 2, whether that's on TV or a computer.

But parents find it hard to argue with a three-minute diversion that both they and their children can enjoy dancing along to. JaQuel Knight, who choreographed the video, says he is thrilled about babies' reaction to the video. "It is absolutely heartwarming and most definitely places a smile on my face," he says, "to see our piece of art touching those at such a young age, even those who can't walk."

So far, it looks like this guy has the best moves:

Happy hump day!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

E-ZPass Reduces Preemies, Low Birth Weight

Not only has E-ZPass shortened commutes, it might be making babies healthier too.

Mothers who lived near a toll plaza with an E-ZPass had fewer instances of premature births and low birth-weight babies, according to a new study.

Babies born near toll plazas were more likely to be healthy after E-ZPass lanes were installed and helped reduce traffic congestion.

Janet Currie and Reed Walker of Columbia University’s Department of Economics compared mothers that lived within three kilometers of a toll plaza with those that lived within three kilometers of a major highway (but not near a toll plaza) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

By reducing congestion and emissions through the E-ZPass system, premature births dropped 10.8% and instances of low birth weight declined 11.8% for mothers within two kilometers of the toll plaza.

For those who lived three kilometers from the plaza, prematurity and low birth weight fell 7.3% and 8.4%, respectively.

The conclusions are of particular interest, the researchers say, because low birth weight has been linked to health problems in the future and lower educational attainment. But it also shows the effects of a system like E-ZPass that has an inherent value to consumers – reduced travel time – as well as peripheral benefits, such as reduced emissions and health benefits.

Previous estimates showed that E-ZPass, an electronic toll system that reads a tag mounted on the windshield without forcing the vehicle to stop, reduced traffic congestion by more than 85% in some plazas within its first year. Other studies revealed it may have cut harmful emissions by up to 50%.

But the E-ZPass study took that research a step further by trying to determine traffic congestion’s health effects.

The researchers used Vital Statistics Natality records, which cover all births in a state, from Pennsylvania for 1997 to 2002 and for New Jersey from 1994 to 2003. They then compared the change in the number of premature and low birth weight babies born to mothers near toll plazas with those born to mothers who were not near toll plazas before and after the E-ZPass.

With roughly 26% of homes located near congested areas, Currie and Walker concluded that “…nationwide reductions in prenatal exposure to traffic congestion could reduce preterm births by as many as 10,800 annually, a reduction that can be valued at $557 million per year,” the study states. “Since we have focused on only one of the possible health effects of traffic congestion, albeit an important one, the total health benefits of reducing pollution due to traffic congestion are likely to be much greater.”


Probiotics during Pregnancy can Reduce Risk of Eczema

Treating pregnant mothers, and then their infants, with select strains of probiotics -- bacteria present naturally in the body and sometimes added to food or dietary supplements to boost immune function -- may help prevent a skin condition known as eczema in children with a family history of allergies, particularly during the first 3 months of life, Dutch researchers report.

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition thought to be related to allergies. Researchers gave more than 150 pregnant women with a family history of allergic diseases either a mixture of three probiotic bacteria or a placebo - inactive pill - during the last six weeks of pregnancy. They also gave the same treatment to the women's children for 12 months.

Neither the women nor their doctors knew whether they were receiving the probiotics or inactive pills.

They were able to follow up with 102 of the children born to the mothers who took part in the study. During the first 3 months of life, the parents of six in 50 of the subjects who received probiotics reported eczema in their children, compared to 15 or 52 of the placebo group, according to a report of the study in the journal Allergy.

Although the rate of eczema in the two groups became more similar, there was still some benefit after for up to two years.

Put another way, it would be necessary to treat approximately 6 mothers and children to prevent one case of eczema at the age of three months and 12 months, and closer to 7 children at two years.

One of the paper's 9 authors is employed by Winclove Bio Industries B.V., Amsterdam, which manufactures the probiotic supplements used in the study.


America's Largest Baby Shower for Military Moms

Operation Top Knot, a project of Soldier's Angels, threw a baby shower for 32 pregnant military ladies in Las Vegas this week. They received handmade baby gifts of blankets, hats, and booties and celebrated the special occasion with cake, chocolate, games and of course, each other. The event was deemed America's largest military baby shower.

Soldier's Angels team Operation Top Knot is a nationwide network of individuals who use their talents to support infants and expectant mothers of military families. Dedicated volunteers knit, crochet, sew, quilt, and design blankets, baby clothes and other homemade gifts. They also assemble and deliver or ship gift baskets for mother and child. Additionally, they help deployed fathers celebrate by sending them "It's a Boy!" or "It's a Girl!" bubblegum cigars.

This giant baby shower is a new endeavor for many members of the Top Knot team, says local leader Jody Shervanick. "So often Top Knot volunteers never meet the people they are supporting, so the opportunity to experience a personal touch through this giant baby shower is very exciting," she notes. Shervanick is proud to support Las Vegas military families this way. "New motherhood is challenging enough under ideal circumstances, so being able to support and lift up these mothers while their partners are deployed is just fantastic. It helps ensure moms have what they need, and reassures deployed dads that their loved ones are cared for so that they can focus on their mission."

Source Source

U.S. parents respond quickly to trendy baby names

Researchers have long known that when it comes to baby names, what's "in" keeps getting more popular.

But new research by psychologists suggests that parents in the USA seem to prefer baby names that have recently risen in popularity, rather than those that have been popular for a while and may be on the way out.

The study, which researchers say is "relevant to understanding how people's everyday decisions are influenced by aggregate cultural processes," appears online today in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science. It is based on 127 years of data from the Social Security Administration.

Researchers Todd Gureckis, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University, and Robert Goldstone, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University-Bloomington, analyzed the probability that a name would go up or down from one year to the next, based on its previous popularity. Between 1880 to 1905, they found, names tended to fluctuate from one year to the next, going up one year, then down. But between 1981 and 2006, names moved more consistently in one direction, and seemed to have a "momentum," that pushed changes in popularity in the same direction year after year.

The authors likened this momentum to the stock market: "Parents in the United States are increasingly sensitive to the change in frequency of a name in recent time, such that names that are gaining in popularity are seen as more desirable than those that have fallen in popularity in the recent past," the authors note.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Pregnant Mother's Cancer Can Pass to Fetus

Over the past century doctors have suspected that cancers can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, but a genetically confirmed case reported this week from Japan suggests the phenomenon is real.

Mother-to-fetus transmission still likely rare, experts say, since the placenta acts as a barrier to cells from the mother, and the fetal immune system would reject and destroy cancer cells.

"Some 30 times reported in the past, mother and infant have appeared to share the same cancer, usually leukemia or melanoma," noted lead researcher Dr. Shuki Mizutani of the department of pediatrics at Tokyo Medical and Dental University.

"The suspicion has been that the cancer may have developed in the pregnant woman but then spread to the baby in the womb. There has however been no clear genetic evidence to support this interpretation, which was shown unambiguously by our study for the first time," Mizutani said.

The report is published in the Oct. 12 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For the report, Mizutani's team studied the case of a 28 year-old Japanese woman who developed leukemia after giving birth. At 11 months, her baby girl developed the same type of leukemia.

A genetic analysis found that both mother and daughter had an identical match for a mutated cancer gene called BCR-ABL1. However, this mutation had not been inherited in the child's DNA, which suggested that the cancer cells had developed independently in both the mother and her fetus.

Using genetic "fingerprinting," the researchers found that the cancer cells had developed in the mother and were transmitted to her baby in utero.

In addition, Mizutani's team found that these cancer cells had destroyed an area of the infant's DNA that is normally able to distinguish between the infant's and mother's cells.

Based on this finding, the researchers believe cancer cells from the mother crossed the placenta and succeeded in implanting themselves into the fetus, unrecognized by the developing immune system.

The finding isn't all that surprising, one expert said.

"People have believed that this has been the case for some time. This is really crossing the Ts dotting the Is and showing that that's really the case," said William H. Chambers, scientific program director at the American Cancer Society.

He stressed that this type of transmission remains a rare occurrence. "I don't think people are going to decide that there are a whole lot more of these cancers," he said. "It's pretty rare that someone is going to find out they have a disease like this during or after pregnancy."

Mizutani agreed, but said precautions can still be taken.

"Malignant tumors are estimated to develop in one case of 1,000 pregnancies," Mizutani said. "The frequency of developing leukemia is estimated to be 1 in 75,000 to 100,000 pregnancies. Thus, although it might be rare, babies born in pregnant women who develop cancer during pregnancy should be placed under careful observation."


Where can pregnant women get the flu shot?

Only about one in seven pregnant women gets a flu shot each winter.

While federal health officials are working hard to raise that number this year, repeated swine flu warnings won't automatically overcome a key obstacle: Many obstetricians don't vaccinate. And not only are many women reluctant to go hunting for flu shots elsewhere, historically some pharmacists and other providers have been wary of vaccinating them.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has no count of how many OBs offer flu vaccine. It's still considered a minority although recent surveys suggest many more may be starting this year, especially in large cities.

An extra complication: Each state's health department ultimately will decide who gets to offer the H1N1 vaccine, aiming for locations that vaccinate the most people. Those decisions haven't been made public yet. Even if your OB requested swine flu shots, he or she may not get any, at least from initial shipments.

So the CDC and ACOG are urging obstetricians to partner with a nearby site — a hospital or drugstore, for example — to guarantee their patients a flu-shot source, a message the government will reiterate Tuesday in a swine flu training seminar for obstetricians nationwide.

The large Walgreen's drugstore chain told states that if picked as an H1N1 shot site, it might put get-vaccinated-here signs next to the pregnancy tests, or print vaccine reminders for people who bought prenatal vitamins.

And Louisiana this month lifted its requirement that pharmacists vaccinate by prescription only, making it easier for everyone to get a drugstore flu shot.

Why don't more OBs vaccinate? Largely it's the expense and hassle, but it's not part of routine obstetrician training, says Dr. Stanley Gall of the University of Louisville, an OB and longtime vaccine provider. That's changing as more stock a different vaccine — against the virus that causes cervical cancer — and decide they might as well offer flu vaccine, too.

Because so few pregnant women even have another doctor, "the OB office should be a one-stop shop," he says.