Thursday, January 28, 2010

Delivery mode not altered by pregnancy exercise

Women benefit from light-intensity resistance exercise during pregnancy and this type of physical activity is not apt to alter the way they deliver their baby, study findings hint.

Regular exercise during pregnancy offers overall health benefits, Dr. Ruben Barakat, at Universidad Politecnica de Madrid in Spain, and colleagues note in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. However, few investigations have focused on the effects of resistance-type exercise during pregnancy and whether this alters actual childbirth.

Therefore, they compared delivery outcomes after supervised toning and resistance exercises for shoulders, arms, pelvis, and legs, plus toning and mobilization of associated joints, in 80 women during mid to late pregnancy, compared with 80 non-exercising peers.

All of the women previously obtained less than 20 minutes of exercise on 3 or fewer days each week, a low level of exercise the "controls" maintained. By contrast, the exercise group participated in 3 weekly toning and resistance sessions of less than an hour each from pregnancy week 12 or 13 through delivery.

There were no adverse effects noted in the 72 exercising women or the 70 controls that completed the study.

And, in contrast to a previous report of increased vaginal delivery associated with regular exercise during pregnancy, Barakat's team found no differences in delivery mode between the groups.

Fifty-one exercisers delivered vaginally, another 10 had a delivery requiring instruments, and 11 had Cesarean, compared with 50, 9, and 11, respectively, in the non-exercisers.

The groups also similarly required epidural anesthesia and had similar average durations of complete dilation and delivery, and their newborns were similarly healthy.

"Women in the training group were rather pleased with the exercise training," Barakat and colleagues note in their report.

This finding, coupled with the exercisers desire to be physically active during future pregnancies, and the lack of exercise complications, supports the overall benefits of supervised, light-intensity exercise during pregnancy, they conclude.


Omega-3 Supplements Don't Reduce Risk of Preterm Birth

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are believed to have many health benefits, but the one thing they can't do is help women with a history of delivering their babies early carry their next child to full term, new research finds.

"The omega-3 did not add any benefit," said study author Dr. Margaret Harper, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC. The study appears in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Harper and her colleagues randomly assigned 852 pregnant women with a history of a preterm birth either to get a daily omega-3 supplement or a placebo beginning about week 16 to 22 and continuing through week 36 of gestation.

All women also received weekly intramuscular hormone injections of hydroxyprogesterone caproate, which has been shown to improve the chances of carrying a baby to term, Harper said.

Her team followed up to see which women delivered before 37 weeks. Full-term is defined as 37 weeks of completed gestation.

Delivery before 37 weeks occurred in 37.8 percent of those taking omega-3, and 41.6 percent of those in the placebo group, a small difference.

Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn death, the authors write in the report, and it is increasing in the United States. A woman who delivers one baby before term is more likely to deliver future babies early.

Harper's team decided to study the value of the omega-3 supplements after conflicting findings about the value of the supplements for women at high risk of premature delivery. For those at low-risk, she said, the findings seem to agree that omega-3 supplements don't further reduce the risk of preterm birth.

A recent large review of published studies found only one that showed benefit of the supplements in high-risk women, she said.

According to Harper, omega-3 fatty acids, when metabolized, are converted to much less potent biochemicals called prostaglandins, which make the uterus contract, than are omega-6 fatty acids -- also essential fatty acids but typically over-eaten in Western diets. Adding omega-3s to an omega-6-heavy diet, so the thinking went, might result in better chances of carrying the baby to term.

Omega-3 supplements, in other research, have been found to help heart health, to lower blood pressure and to reduce the risk of abnormal heartbeats.

But in Harper's study, she also noted that women getting omega-3 supplements were more likely to give birth to a baby with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). While 59 babies (13.9 percent) of those in the omega-3 group had RDS, only 35 (8.7 percent) of those in the placebo group did. In other words, the omega-3 mothers' babies were 1.6 times more likely to get RDS than infants born to mothers taking placebo. It's the first time such a finding has been reported in clinical trials, the authors wrote.

"While the study's results showed no difference, there is early evidence that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for fetal brain development, so women should still consider taking them, in conjunction with their doctor's advice, despite what seems to be little benefit for the reduction of spontaneous preterm birth."


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Prenatal Exposure to Flame-Retardant Compounds Affects Neurodevelopment of Young Children

Prenatal exposure to ambient levels of flame retardant compounds called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) is associated with adverse neurodevelopmental effects in young children, according to researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

The study is online in Environmental Health Perspectives and will be released in the April 2010 print issue.

PBDEs are endocrine-disrupting chemicals and widely used flame-retardant compounds that are applied to a broad array of textiles and consumer products, including mattresses, upholstery, building materials, and electronic equipment. Because the compounds are additives rather than chemically bound to consumer products, they can be released into the environment. Human exposure may occur through dietary ingestion or through inhalation of dust containing PBDEs.

The researchers found that children with higher concentrations of PBDEs in their umbilical cord blood at birth scored lower on tests of mental and physical development between the ages of one and six. Developmental effects were particularly evident at four years of age, when verbal and full IQ scores were reduced 5.5 to 8.0 points for those with the highest prenatal exposures.

"The neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal exposure to PBDEs have not previously been studied among children in North America, where levels are typically higher than in Europe or Asia," said Julie Herbstman, PhD, first author on the paper and a research scientist in Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health. "The findings are consistent with effects observed in animal studies and, if replicated in other North American populations, they could have important public health implications."

Frederica Perera, DrPh, professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School, CCCEH Director, and coauthor added, "These findings are of potential concern, because IQ is a predictor of future educational performance; and the observed reductions in IQ scores are in the range seen with low level lead exposure." This research underscores the need for preventive policies to reduce toxic exposures occurring in utero."

The investigators controlled for factors that have previously been linked to neurodevelopment in other studies, including ethnicity, mother's IQ, child's sex, gestational age at birth, maternal age, prenatal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, maternal education, material hardship, and breast feeding.

The study is part of a broader project examining the effects of chemicals released by the World Trade Center's destruction on pregnant women and their children. However, residential proximity to the World Trade Center site did not affect levels of PBDE exposure.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Herbal use common among pregnant women in U.S.

Roughly 1 in 10 pregnant women in the U.S. expose their unborn baby to herbal products, according to a new study.

This finding is potentially concerning, researchers say, given that data on the safety of herbal use during pregnancy is lacking. Furthermore, the prevalence of exposure was highest in the first 3 months of pregnancy, a critical period of development.

"If we assume that our study sample was representative of the 4.2 million births each year in the United States, our findings project that 9.4 percent, or potentially 395,000 U.S. births annually, will involve exposure to at least one herbal product during pregnancy," lead author Dr. Cheryl S. Broussard, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, told Reuters Health by email.

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, are based on data from 4,239 mothers in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study who delivered infants with no major birth defects from 1998 to 2004. The 10 study centers were located across the U.S.

Overall, 462 (10.9 percent) of the 4,239 mothers reported using herbal products in the 3 months before or at some point during pregnancy. The prevalence of herbal use anytime during pregnancy was 9.4 percent. The prevalence during pregnancy was highest (6.9 percent) during the first trimester.

Excluding the 86 mothers whose only use of herbs involved herbal teas, the prevalence of herb exposure before or during pregnancy was 8.9 percent.

The most commonly reported products used early in pregnancy were ginger, which has been shown to help ease morning sickness, without side effects to the unborn child, and ephedra, an herbal stimulant that was banned in the U.S. in 2004 after reports linked it to heart attacks, strokes and at least 155 deaths.

The products used most often throughout pregnancy were herbal teas and chamomile, which has also been shown to ease morning sickness.

Herb exposure was more prevalent in women older than 30 and with more than 12 years of education. Of the 10 states studied, Iowa had the lowest rate of herbal use (5.4 percent) and Utah had the highest (16.5 percent).

"The fact that use of herbal products was greatest during the first trimester raises concerns about fetal safety, because this is a critical period of fetal organ development," Broussard noted.

"Providers should inform patients that it would be prudent to err on the side of caution regarding use of herbal products just before and during pregnancy because little is known about their potential risks."


The world's SECOND pregnant man is due to give birth next month

A transgender couple have revealed they are expecting their first baby in a month's time.

Scott Moore - thought to be only the second 'pregnant man' to go public - is due to give birth to a boy in February, with husband Thomas by his side.

The couple were both born girls and have undergone surgery to transform their sex.

Scott, 30, who is legally married to Thomas because he still has a female birth certificate, says he is eagerly looking forward to giving birth.

They have decided to call the child 'Miles'.

‘We know some people will criticize us but we are blissfully happy and not ashamed,’ Scott said.

The couple, from California, already have two children - Gregg, 12, and Logan, 10 - who Thomas had with a previous female partner.

The case is similar to that of Thomas Beatie, from Oregon, who made headlines around the world in 2008 when he gave birth to a girl.

Scott, who started out in life as a girl named Jessica, first realized he wanted to be a man when he hit puberty aged 11.

‘When I told my family they thought I was crazy but they gradually realized I was serious and allowed me to start taking male hormones when I was 16 years old,’ he said.

His parents paid £4,600 for Scott to have his 36DDD chest removed. However, he could not afford the gender surgery, so still has female organs.

Thomas, who used to be called Laura, had a hysterectomy and gender reassignment surgery last year.

They met in 2005 at a support group meeting for transgender men but lost touch – but saw each other again in 2007.

‘We knew we had to be together,’ Scott said. ‘Two months later I gave up my job to live with Thomas and the boys.

‘Now they call me “dad two”.’The couple, who live in a four-bedroom house, decided in December 2008 to try for a baby.

Scott was inseminated with the sperm of a male friend and fell pregnant in June 2009.

‘We were so happy we did what all gay men do when they get excited - we went shopping,’ Thomas said.

The couple have dismissed concerns that Miles might be teased at school, saying they are confident they can deal with it.

‘We've been through it already,’ Thomas said.

‘My son Logan was bullied but now he just says to teasers: “You may have a problem with my two dads but I don't so you're not hurting me”.’

Scott plans to have a natural birth at their local hospital. Their doctor and obstetrician have told the medics at the local hospital.

‘We didn't want everyone to be shocked when a man turns up to give birth,’ Scott said.‘We found it very difficult to get a doctor and midwife at first. It was hard when people didn't want to treat me.

‘No pregnant person should be denied healthcare just because they are a man.’

Thomas said: ‘We want to show the world that trans-families can be healthy, loving and nurturing.’


A Natural Birth: Seamus's Story

My story starts back in 2006.
I have a history of miscarriage. I had two early losses before giving birth to Noah, but for some reason had thought it would not happen again.
We decided to start trying for another baby in December 2005, and got pregnant right away. However, this pregnancy sadly ended in a miscarriage at the end of January, a very traumatic loss.
Since this was my third loss, despite not being consecutive, I talked my GP into referring me to the hospital for further testing. I had a ton of blood taken for various different tests, however by the time my appointment came along to see the consultant to discuss my results I was already pregnant again, after suffering a chemical pregnancy the cycle before, it turned out this time the baby was going to stick. I had about 8 scans as they monitored my pregnancy very closely this time.
However, things were not to go completely smoothly, as at 16 weeks I consented to having the triple test done for Downs/Edwards syndrome/Spina Bifida, something I regret doing as I feel very strongly against abortion apart from in extreme medical circumstances. This test came back with an elevated risk for Downs Syndrome, at 1 in 200. (The risk for my age, 29, should have been 1 in 1000.) Due to my loss history I refused an amniocentesis. The risk for losing my baby was double the actual risk of it having Downs and I could not accept those odds. So I opted for a detailed scan instead. The scan showed no soft markers for Downs and confirmed what we already suspected was true, that I was carrying another little boy.
At 34 weeks, I had another scan which also showed no markers for Downs. The consultant tried to talk me into an amnio at that stage, which I refused, as I could see little point. She said,
Do you know what risk you are taking?
I felt that was completely ridiculous, as whatever abnormalities my child might have had, we would just deal with whatever came up. I would love my child no matter what and strongly believe that we got given what we can handle and no greater than that. My gut told me though that my child was healthy and I clung onto this.
We started to plan the delivery, our local hospital had recently upgraded their birthing pool so that mothers could actually give birth in it rather than just laboring in it and then getting out before the birth itself. I fully intended on using this pool, especially after researching it and finding out that a warm bath is the second most effective form of pain relief after an epidural!
I had an epidural with Noah’s birth which had not taken properly (just down one side) and I had some horrible side effects (nausea and shaking). I was determined not to have one this time.
A good family friend of ours, Joana, is a midwife and had delivered Noah, we had her on call whenever I went into labor, although she would need some assistance as this would be her first waterbirth.
At 39 weeks, 4 days, I woke up to mild contractions, timed them as coming every 10 minutes.
As the day wore on though, they did not intensify, or get any closer together. By the time Gary got home from work I was getting very frustrated and at that point not even bothered if they stopped, I just wanted SOMETHING to happen or let me get some rest. At 9 p.m., I decided to try and get some sleep so went to bed. It was difficult as I was woken with every contraction, but I was determined I would need some sleep if I was going to have any energy to deal with labor.
Somehow I managed to get to sleep and the next thing I knew, it was 1 a.m. and I awoke having a very intense contraction. I lay there timing them again, and noticed they were coming about 3 minutes apart and lasting about 50 seconds each. I woke DH and we both got up, rang the in-laws. I got dressed and headed over to the hospital. I rang Joana on the way over.
At this point my contrax were 3 min apart, but every now and again I would have an extra one in between; they were painful but manageable. When we got there they had the pool all ready for me and they checked me before I hopped in. Joana was shocked to find I was already 9cm dilated – so I had already gone through most of labour at home!
I got into the tub and as soon as I hit the water I hit transition and started to lose it. Seconds after, I felt a huge pop and my waters broke. (Great timing!) I managed to focus on the contractions, which were getting really intense.
About 10 mins after I started to feel the urge to push, my body just took over – this part always freaks me out, how the body just does things with no input.
With my last labor, the pushing had been very, very difficult, as I was on my back wired up to machines after having an epidural, and it took over 2 hours to get him out.
This time though, I was able to get right into a good position and let gravity help me. Still, I was nervous. I also tore badly last time and was worried about it happening again.
In the end though I just realized the faster I get him out the sooner the pain is over and just pushed along with my body. I knew he was coming soon. I could feel the infamous “ring of fire”.
Joana called the other midwife in. They got me to squat right in the center of the pool as low as I could and as he came out, they told me not to touch his head, as it might stimulate him to breathe. His head popped out and very soon after the rest of his body.
When they told me the time was right I brought him up to the surface and laid him on my chest. I remember thinking how soft his skin was and what a big boy! He didn’t even cry and soon pinked right up nicely.
Seamus weighed on at 8lbs, 4oz, born at 4.50am (45 minutes after reaching the hospital) on the 24th February 2007. Perfectly healthy.
Written by Claire Louise. Read more details of the story here.

Massage Reduces Depression in Pregnant Women

New research shows massage therapy reduced depression in pregnant women, and also reduced the incidence of massaged women's babies being born prematurely.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Touch Research Institutes, where pioneering research about massage has been conducted since 1992.

Pregnant women diagnosed with major depression were given 12 weeks of massage, twice per week, by their significant other. A control group did not receive massage, according to an abstract published on

The massage-therapy group versus the control group not only had reduced depression by the end of the massage-therapy period, they also had reduced depression and cortisol levels during the postpartum period.

The massaged women's newborns were also less likely to be born prematurely and low birthweight, pubmed noted, and they had lower cortisol levels and performed better on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment habituation, orientation and motor scales.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Newborns of Smokers Have Abnormal Blood Pressure

Babies of women who smoked during pregnancy have blood pressure problems at birth that persisted through the first year of life, a new study finds.

"What is of concern is that the problems are present at birth and get worse over time," said Gary Cohen, a senior research scientist in the department of women and child health at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and lead author of a report in the Jan. 25 online edition of Hypertension.

The study led by Cohen compared 19 infants of nonsmoking couples with 17 infants born to women who smoked an average of 15 cigarettes a day during pregnancy. At one week of age, the infants of nonsmoking mothers experienced a 2 percent increase in blood pressure when tilted upright, with a 10 percent increase at one year. The pattern for the children of smoking mothers was reversed: a 10 percent blood pressure increase at one week, a 4 percent increase at one year.

And the heart rate response to tilting of the children of mothers who smoked was abnormal and exaggerated, the report said.

It's not possible to say whether the abnormalities seen in the babies will lead to trouble later in life, Cohen said. But, he noted, "the extent of the condition at one year suggests that it is not going to disappear quickly."

The reason why exposure to tobacco in the womb affects blood pressure is not clear, Cohen said. A leading possibility is that "smoking might damage the structure and function of blood vessels," he said, mainly by damaging the endothelium, the delicate layer of cells that line the interior of blood vessels.

Whether that damage will persist is not known. "We're only up to 12 months at the moment," he said. "We plan to follow them."

The damage seen in the Karolinska study is similar to that observed in babies born to mothers whose pregnancies were marked by such abuses as drug use, said Barry M. Lester, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Brown Medical School, and director of the Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk.

"Early kinds of natal insults can cause reprogramming of brain circuitry," Lester explained. He has led studies of the long-term effects of cocaine and amphetamine use during pregnancy. Many women who take such drugs also smoke, Lester added.

"When we isolated tobacco effects, we showed that there are inborn neural effects of tobacco exposure similar to what we see in cocaine and methamphetamine abuse," he said.

Some research has connected such problems to overproduction of cortisol, a "stress hormone" that plays an important role in regulation of blood pressure and the immune system, Lester said. "Cortisol overexposure is one hypothesis," he said. "There is a lot of evidence showing that too much cortisol is damaging."

It is a reasonable hypothesis, Cohen said. Babies born preterm have problems with blood pressure that have been linked to overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands, he noted, "and there are some parallels between tobacco smoke exposure and preterm babies of the same age."

Whatever the mechanism of damage, treatment to eliminate the problems after birth does not seem possible, Cohen added.

"What we know from studies in older kids is that even if you remove them from an environment of exposure to tobacco smoke, it is unlikely you will get full restoration of normal function," he said. "The best intervention to solve these problems is prevention. Women who are pregnant need to avoid exposure to tobacco smoke in the air. Passive smoke exposure can be as bad as being an active smoker."


50 Foods Every Pregnant Woman Should Eat

The following foods ought to find their way into a pregnancy diet, even if some of them must be ingested in moderation or within certain parameters.

Kidney Beans

Mayo Clinic states that 1 cup of boiled kidney beans a day provides pregnant women with 5.2 out of the suggested 27 milligrams of iron. Dry, as opposed to canned or fresh, legumes typically nurture more efficient absorption – a tip which comes straight from the National Medical Library at the National Institute of Health.


Pregnant women should veer towards leaner cuts of beef, which provides valuable proteins and iron necessary for fetal development and healthy blood – among other benefits, of course. Mayo Clinic recommends 3 ounces of beef tenderloin (or equivalent a day, as it provides 3 milligrams of iron per serving.


Cereals, most especially those with added iron and calcium, provide pregnant women with a plethora of important nutrients. Based on statistics compiled by the USDA and expressed by the Mayo Clinic, ¾ of a cup of fortified cereal provides a whopping 18 milligrams of iron a day out of the recommended 27. One cup of cereal with extra calcium offers between 100 to 1,000 milligrams of the suggested 1,000 a day (1,300 for teenage pregnancies. In addition, ¾ of a cup also contains 400 micrograms of folic acid, and Mayo Clinic experts believe that 800 micrograms a day prior to conception, and 1,000 a day following it is the healthiest habit.

Dark Meat Turkey

Consuming 3.5 ounces of dark meat turkey provides 2.3 out of the recommended 27 milligrams of iron a day, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is also an excellent source of protein as well.


Pregnant women need around 71 grams of protein a day in order to facilitate fetal growth, and Mayo Clinic states that 3 ounces of chicken breast offers 27.6 grams of this necessary substance. Chicken also introduces valuable iron into a pregnant woman’s diet.


3 ounces of canned pink salmon (bones included provides mother and child alike with 181 milligrams of calcium out of Mayo Clinic’s suggested 1,000 a day (1,300 for teenagers. Purchasing boneless fish reduces the amount of calcium substantially. In addition, 3 ounces of salmon served any style offers 21.6 of the recommended 71 grams of protein a day. However, pregnant women are advised to stay away from uncooked or smoked salmon due to the associated potential health hazards.


While pregnant women must avoid raw or undercooked eggs due to the increased risk of salmonella, the cooked variety makes for an essential addition to their diets. 1 large hard-boiled egg a day involves 6.3 grams of protein out of the suggested 71 and, according to the National Medical Library at the National Institute of Health, also serves as an excellent source of iron. They particularly recommend the yolks.


As a citrus fruit, oranges serve as an amazing source of Vitamin C, which the National Medical Library at the National Institute of Health declares as one possible means of increasing iron absorption. Mayo Clinic also states that 1 small fruit involves 30 micrograms of folic acid. 6 ounces of fortified orange juice tacks on an additional 200 to 260 milligrams of calcium as well.


Like citrus fruits, the National Medical Library at the National Institute of Health claims that spinach and other leafy greens can help strengthen the body’s absorption of iron by up to 3 times the normal rate. ½ a cup of spinach plays host to 100 micrograms’ worth of folic acid, 3.2 milligrams of iron, and 120 milligrams of calcium.


Another excellent and indispensable source of calcium, 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt provide 415 milligrams of the nutrient essential to fortify bones, teeth, and the circulatory, nervous, and muscular systems. Should a fetus receive an insufficient amount of calcium from its mother, it will begin leeching off its mother’s skeleton instead – rendering her far more susceptible to potentially devastating cracks and breaks.


Mayo Clinic states that 4 boiled asparagus spears offer pregnant women 85 micrograms out of the recommended 1,000 (800 prior to conception of folic acid needed in a day.

Great Northern Beans

Dried beans stand as an excellent source of both folic acid and protein, with ½ a cup of the Great Northern variety containing 90 micrograms of the former.


For pregnant women on staunch vegetarian or vegan diets, tofu makes for a viable enough replacement when it comes to adding protein and magnesium. The various brands of Mori-Nu, for example, contain between 4 and 6 grams per 3 ounce serving. Tofu, fortunately, is a versatile enough ingredient to be enjoyed in a wide variety of ways.


Considered a heart-healthy hallmark of sensible eating, 1 400 milligram Chiquita Banana offers pregnant women 15% of the Food Guide Pyramid’s recommended daily amount of Vitamin C, 12% of fiber, and 20% of Vitamin B6. All of these nutrients help keep a mother and her unborn child healthy and strong throughout all three trimesters.

Brown Rice

National Medical Library at the National Institute of Health touts that pregnant women ought to ingest 350-400 milligrams of magnesium a day, and brown rice and other whole grains prove an excellent source. The USDA particularly praises them as a valuable conduit for folic acid as well.


According to the Almond Board of California, one ounce of almonds– or approximately 23 nuts – contains 6 grams of protein, 76 of magnesium, 3.5 of fiber, and 75 of calcium.


Not only do avocados contain 2% of the Food Pyramid’s recommended daily value of iron, 4% of the potassium, 8% of the folate, 4% of the fiber, and 4% of the Vitamin C, but the California Avocado Commission also praises its status as a “nutrient-booster.” Consuming an avocado helps the body facilitate the absorption of alpha and beta carotene and other fat-soluble nutrients


This popular super food has experienced something of a trendy resurgence lately, mostly due to its fantastic antioxidant properties. Men’s Fitness ran an article about the celebrated pomegranate, discussing how it contains 16% of the Vitamin C and 10% of the potassium needed in a day as well as 10 grams of fiber for every 1 cup.


According to Gary Ibsen’s Tomato Fest farm, these internationally enjoyed, antioxidant-laden fruits also come packed with Vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium – all nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy.


The California Walnut Commission celebrates these beloved tree nuts for their numerous healthful benefits. Pregnant women and their unborn children receive 4.6 grams of protein, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 0.9 milligrams of iron, 47 milligrams of magnesium, 0.9 milligrams of zinc, and 132 milligrams of potassium for every 30 grams of the actual edible part of the nut.

Swiss Chard

In addition to aiding the body in absorbing iron and other minerals, Swiss chard and its fellow leafy greens are also excellent sources of many nutrients necessary for healthy pregnancies. According to the University of Illinois, 1 cup of the chopped leaves hosts 3 grams of protein, 102 milligrams of calcium, 4 milligrams of iron, 960 grams of potassium, 32 milligrams of Vitamin C, and 15 micrograms of folate. It also contains 151 of the 320 milligrams of magnesium suggested by the University of Maryland Medical Center as the ideal daily intake for pregnant women. This dietary essential helps ensure normal organ formation and function.


University of Illinois handily provides information on all the health benefits related to apples. An amazing fruit for the pregnant and non-pregnant alike, a fresh, medium-sized, uncooked, and unpeeled apple provides 4 grams of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble fiber alike, 10 milligrams of calcium, .25 milligrams of iron, 8 milligrams of Vitamin C, and 4 micrograms of folate. Peeling the skin off robs the food of most of its Vitamin C, however, so pregnant women are advised to wash the apple as is before eating it to the core.


Carrots surge with beta carotene, with only a half-cup serving providing a body with 4 times more than the recommended daily intake. Beta carotene converts itself into Vitamin A upon digestion, and the National Institute of Health statistics posit that pregnant adult women need around 2,565 International Units a day, while pregnant teenagers should take in around 2,500. University of Illinois states that one ½ cup of cooked carrots provides a staggering 19, 152 IU of Vitamin A acquired through the metabolizing of beta carotene. This valuable nutrient helps stimulate cellular and brain growth in everyone – not only fetuses and infants.


Pregnant women need plenty of fiber and Vitamin C to keep themselves and their , and pears provide them with one juicy route of acquisition. According to Pear Bureau Northwest, 1 medium-sized pear provides consumers with 24% of the dietary fiber and 10% of the Vitamin C recommended for a non-pregnant individual’s daily intake.


Many people do not realize that strawberries actually contain more Vitamin C than citrus fruits. University of Illinois outlines their benefits to everyone – not only pregnant women. 1 cup of sliced fresh strawberries contains 44.84 IU of Vitamin A, 29.38 micrograms of folate, 44.82 milligrams of potassium, 16.60 milligrams of magnesium, 0.63 milligrams of iron, 23.24 milligrams of calcium, 3.81 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of protein, and a startling 94.12 milligrams of Vitamin C.


Another dark, leafy green, Kale is considered an excellent source of fiber, Vitamin A, calcium, and beta carotene – among others. All of these, however, are entirely necessary nutrients for pregnant women.


According to the USDA, ½ a cup of raw grapefruit – no matter the pulp color – contains 1066 IU of Vitamin A, 39.6 milligrams of Vitamin C, 9 milligrams of magnesium, 160 milligrams of potassium, and 14 milligrams of calcium. The Wheat Foods Council also praises grapefruit juice as a recommended source of folic acid, with 23 DFE per cup.


Broccoli contains 2.4 grams of dietary fiber, 2.3 grams of protein, 49 milligrams of Vitamin C, 53.3 nanograms of folic acid, and 89 milligrams of calcium – all nutrients necessary to stimulate fetal growth and keep a mother-to-be healthy throughout her pregnancy. All nutritional statistics courtesy of University of Illinois.


½ a cup of original, unflavored Quaker Oats without add-ins provide the pregnant and non-pregnant both with 15% of the dietary fiber, 5 grams of the protein, and 10% of the iron needed in a day. While allowances shift when a woman is with child, that still does not change the fact that oatmeal remains one of the better menu items for her to consider.


Also known as garbanzo beans and serving as one of the main ingredients of the popular hummus dip (which pregnant women may enjoy as a healthy snack, Purdue University considers chickpeas a great source of protein and dietary fiber, and Wheat Foods Council ranks it as one of the best sources of folic acid. Cooked chickpeas and pinto beans both provide between 140 and 145 DFE of folic acid per ½ cup.


According to the Wheat Foods Council, cooked okra provides 37 DFE of folic acid for pregnant women hoping to prevent birth defects. University of Illinois offers even more nutritional information on these valuable plants. In addition to the folic acid, okra also contains 2 grams of dietary fiber, 1.52 grams of protein, 460 IU of Vitamin A, 13.04 milligrams of Vitamin C, 50.4 milligrams of calcium, 256.6 milligrams of potassium, and 46 milligrams of magnesium as well.

Sunflower Seeds

½ a cup of dry-roasted sunflower seeds offer pregnant women 152 DFE of the folic acid (information courtesy of Wheat Foods Council necessary for a healthy, stable pregnancy. 1 ounce of Planter’s brand sunflower seed kernels contains 12% of the recommended daily value for dietary fiber, 4% of the calcium, and 10% of the iron. They also come laden with 23% of the total fat, and ought to be consumed in moderation as a result.


Wheat Foods Council places cooked lentils as offering 180 DFE per cup, making it the best source of folic acid for pregnant women. Beyond that, however, the USA Dry Peas, Lentils and Chickpeas (a resource validated by the USDA praises it as a viable meat replacement for women with both voluntary and involuntary dietary restrictions. ¼ of a cup of lentils also provides the pregnant with 8 grams of protein, 14% of the recommended daily allowance of iron as dictated by the Food Pyramid, and 2% of both the calcium and Vitamin C.


Pregnant women needing Vitamin C, manganese, and folic acid to help nurture their unborn child should consider pineapple as one possible route towards supplying these nutrients. Wheat Foods Council lists it as one of recommended sources of folic acid, with 23 DFE per cup of juice. And Maui Pineapple Company states that two slices of their fruit offers 100% of the Vitamin C needed in a day as well as significant amounts of manganese.

Portobello Mushrooms

Along with lentils, portobello mushrooms serve as a meat replacement for those with strict dietary restrictions or vegetarian or vegan diets. Prevention Magazine lists these hearty fungi as containing 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 778.03 milligrams of potassium, and 0.23 milligrams of manganese.

Read the rest of the list here.

Mothers with Celiac Disease Face a Higher Risk of Underweight and Early-term Births

Women with celiac disease face greater risks for adverse pregnancy outcomes. A team of researchers recently set out to examine the effects of treated and untreated maternal celiac disease on infant birthweight and preterm birth. Among their findings are that expectant mothers with celiac disease face a higher risk of underweight and early-term birth than those without celiac disease.

For their data, researchers used a population-based cohort study of all live births in Denmark between 1 January 1979 and 31 December 2004. During that period, 836,241 mothers gave birth to a total of 1,504,342 babies. Mothers with diagnosed celiac disease gave birth to 1105 of those babies, while 346 were born to women with undiagnosed celiac disease.

The team considered mothers with diagnosed celiac disease to be following a gluten free diet, and those with undiagnosed celiac disease to be on a gluten-inclusive diet. The team measured outcomes based on birthweight, small for gestational age, very small for gestational age and preterm birth. They then compared the results for the treated and untreated celiac disease mothers with those of a celiac-free reference group.

The research team found that mothers with untreated celiac disease gave birth to smaller babies [difference = –98 g (95% CI: –130, –67)], with a higher risk of SGA [OR = 1.31 (95% CI: 1.06, 1.63)], VSGA [OR = 1.54 (95% CI: 1.17, 2.03)] and early birth [OR = 1.33 (95% CI: 1.02, 1.72)] compared with women with no celiac disease.

The good news is that mothers with treated celiac disease showed no increased risk of reduced mean birthweight, or of delivering SGA and VSGA infants or preterm birth compared with mothers with no celiac disease.

From the results, the research team concluded that untreated maternal celiac disease increases the risk of low birthweight, SGA and VSGA, and preterm birth.

Diagnosis and treatment of maternal celiac disease with a gluten-free diet seems to return the birthweight and preterm birth rate to one comparable to women without celiac disease.