Friday, August 27, 2010

Meconium reveals mom's smoking habits

Scientists have found that the first stools that a baby passes after being born can actually be used to determine how much their mother smoked, or if she was exposed to tobacco smoke during pregnancy.

Meconium is a dark and tarry stool passed by a baby during the first few days after birth.

Researchers measured tobacco smoke metabolites in meconium samples from 337 babies, finding that they correlated well with reported smoke exposure and other markers of tobacco smoke exposure.

Joe Braun, from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, USA, worked with a team of researchers to carry out the study.

"Prenatal active and secondhand tobacco smoke exposure is a prevalent environmental exposure that is associated with adverse infant and childhood health outcomes. Biomarkers of exposure, like serum and meconium tobacco smoke metabolites, are useful to enhance the measurement of tobacco smoke exposure, which is often under-reported," he said.

The researchers found that tobacco smoke metabolites in meconium reflected the duration and intensity of gestational exposure to tobacco smoke.

Concentrations were higher and almost universally detected among infants born to active smokers compared to women with secondhand or no exposure.

Speaking about further applications of this research, Braun said, "Although meconium was not superior to serum as a biomarker of tobacco smoke exposure, it may be useful to estimate gestational exposure to other environmental toxicants that exhibit more variability during pregnancy, especially non-persistent compounds like bisphenol A and phthalates".


Scandal-Plagued Celebrity Midwife Strikes Back In Court

Celebrity midwife Cara Muhlhahn-made famous by Ricki Lake's documentary The Business Of Being Born-is suing New York magazine for $1 million for libel. This comes as Muhlhahn fields her own malpractice lawsuit, after a stillborn birth.

Muhlhahn, who is based in New York, is alleging that Andrew Goldman's March 2009 New York piece, "Extreme Birth," "contained statements that were fabricated or based on unverified sources," stemming from "actual malice," and that it "set forth statements so inherently improbably that only a reckless person would have published them." Last week, New York filed a motion to dismiss the claim, saying that Muhlhahn "mistakes, as defamation, divergent opinion in medical controversy... She also disregards that she has admitted many of those alleged 'facts' in her own voice, recorded or written."

Muhlhahn, the author of Labor Of Love, is one of the most visible proponents of midwife-assisted home birth. The charismatic Muhlhahn became a star after she was featured in The Business Of Being Born in 2008, which mainstreamed the long-simmering debate over conventional medicine's practices around childbearing and made the case for midwives. After the movie, Muhlhahn told New York's Andrew Goldman, she saw herself as having a "Moses responsibility" to spread the word about home births.

But Goldman's piece raised serious questions about Muhlhahn's approach to the riskiest pregnancies and deliveries. Goldman noted that she "regularly does vaginal births after C-section at home and has even home-delivered the riskiest births, breeches, and twins," which is outside generally accepted practice for midwives performing home births. He pointed out that Muhlhahn chose not to have a practice agreement with a physician for emergency backup, but led her patients to believe that she had a relationship with St. Vincent's Hospital. He quoted unnamed medical professionals at that hospital (since closed) that said that Muhlhahn would "dump" her patients there and that they were often "train wrecks." The story also featured the experience of one patient, Sandra Garcia, whose 72-hour labor proceeded with misjudgments of her level of dilation and the fact that she had a "back labor," with the baby facing her belly. Garcia wound up in the hospital with a C-section, an apparent infection, and her baby in Neonatal Intensive Care for five days.

It's these parts of the piece in particular that Muhlhahn calls out in her case against New York, with a list of "facts" she calls false — quoted verbatim from the story, but without further indication of how or why they are allegedly false. In its response, New York asks for either a dismissal or a summary judgment against Muhlhahn, and provides transcripts showing that she herself said, either in her conversations with Goldman or elsewhere, all of the statements alleged to be false.

As for that other lawsuit, the one filed against Muhlhahn: A week after Goldman's piece came out, Muhlhahn patients Catherine and Ricardo's baby was stillborn after three days of labor. In October, they charged Muhlhahn and two associates with being "grossly negligent" by not referring her to a doctor sooner and lacking a practice agreement with one in accordance with state law. (A few weeks ago, that law was repealed, and midwives can now practice independently in New York State, without practice agreements.) Goldman had written about a case Muhlhahn settled in 2003 involving a partially paralyzed baby the plaintiff said Muhlhahn should have known was too big to be delivered vaginally.

The MacKenzies' loss was the subject of this emotional Today show segment last year.

WARNING: This video contains some highly emotional and controversial content.

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'Sex parties' reveal baby's gender

We called it a sex party. But it's not what you think.

My wife Sheryl and I never hesitated on whether we wanted to find out the sex of our baby. But we also knew we didn't want the news to come at our doctor's office.

The thought of celebrating the news at a sterile medical building made her stomach turn. And that's never a good thing when you're pregnant.

So she came up with an elaborate, creative plan to discover the news about the baby at our own home — surrounded by some of our closest friends. Here's how it worked:

We went to the doctor for the 20-week checkup, which is typically when the ultrasound technician is able to determine the baby's gender. The techs are used to handling requests from nervous parents who don't want to know the gender of the baby, but we surprised her a bit.

After she probed my wife's belly, checked the baby's vital signs and made sure all its toes and fingers were accounted for, she told us to look away. That's when she printed a picture of the baby's privates and wrote the gender on it for good measure. Then she tucked it away in a sealed envelope.

Almost as soon as she handed us the envelope, we were both tempted to break the seal to see if we were having a Little Boy Blue or Little Girl Blue. I kept trying to snatch the envelope away as we grabbed a quick bite to discuss which of our family members most wanted a boy and which most wanted a girl.

Luckily, though, I didn't have to resist long.

That night my wife gave the envelope to one of her best friends, Jaime, for safe keeping. Jaime kept it by her side until she drove to a local grocery store the next day and handed it to the baker along with a strange request: Take a look at the picture and bake a cake with blue icing inside if it's a boy and pink icing inside if it's a girl.

At first, I was a bit uncomfortable with the whole idea. It seemed strange sharing such an intimate moment with our closest friends, and even weirder that the baker knew our baby's gender before we did.

Then we figured if we had to find out the baby's sex, we might as well try to share it with many of them at once. And we also thought it would be a nice way to put some of our friends at ease, since we're among the first in our circle to have a baby.

Our guests started coming over that Saturday night around 7, and two shoes greeted them in our foyer. We asked them to write their names on a slip of paper and tuck it into my giant loafer if they think it's a boy and Sheryl's slender stiletto if they think it's a girl. One lucky winner would take home a prize — a gag gift of baby oil brought by one of the guests.

Over the next few hours, about 50 friends gorged on a dozen pizzas and guzzled down some beer until it was time for dessert. Then we all gathered in our kitchen in front of the massive sheet cake, giving our guests a brief reminder of the import of the moment.

Anticipation mounted as we eyed the icing. We slowly cut into a cake, separating a piece.

I looked. Sheryl looked. I wasn't quite sure. I checked again. She checked again.

Cheers echoed through the house as we saw the pink icing.

It's a girl!


Treating Mild Pregnancy-Related Diabetes Is Good for Mom, Baby

Women who develop a mild case of gestational diabetes during pregnancy tend to have fewer complications and healthier babies if the diabetes is treated according to the first large-scale randomized trial in the U.S. to address whether such treatment leads to health benefits for mother and child.

As many as 14% of pregnant women in the U.S., or about 200,000 women annually, develop gestational diabetes. This pregnancy-related diabetes can cause the fetus to grow too rapidly, and the excess weight can make delivery difficult and lead to complications. What’s more, gestational diabetes increases the risk of preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening rise in blood pressure in the mother.

However, the benefits of treating gestational diabetes are somewhat controversial; although most obstetricians screen and treat pregnant women for blood-sugar abnormalities, the 2008 guidelines of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has said there is not enough strong evidence for or against screening and treating gestational diabetes.

“Almost all obstetricians do screen for gestational diabetes, but some of them have not been particularly aggressive about treating milder cases, reserving aggressive treatment for people with higher blood-glucose results,” says lead study author Mark Landon, MD, of Ohio State University Medical Center, in Columbus. “For them, this study serves as notice that aggressive treatment with diet alone is useful for even mild gestational diabetes cases.”

Gestational diabetes can be treated with dietary restrictions, the oral drug metformin, or insulin injections. Dr. Landon says that, unfortunately, some women diagnosed with the condition are not even given a real meal plan to follow; instead they are simply advised to watch their sugar intake.

In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 958 women diagnosed with mild gestational diabetes between 24 and 31 weeks of pregnancy were divided into two groups; half were treated for diabetes, half were not. Women were considered to have mild gestational diabetes if they had an abnormal result after taking an oral glucose-tolerance test (a test in which women drink a sugary liquid and blood sugar is measured at regular intervals), but their fasting glucose level (a test in which blood sugar is measured after fasting) was below 95 milligrams per deciliter. Many doctors treat gestational diabetes only if it is more severe, generally considered to be 95 milligrams per deciliter or higher.

The new research, a partnership of 14 different institutions, showed that women were half as likely to have larger-than-normal babies if they were treated. For example, 14% of women who weren’t treated had a baby that weighed more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces, compared with only 6% who were treated.

The newborns also had fewer cases of shoulder dystocia (1.5% with treatment vs. 4% without treatment), a potential emergency in which the birthing process stalls due to entrapment of the infant’s shoulders—a problem that’s more likely if a newborn is larger-than-normal. Women who were treated had fewer cases of high blood pressure or preeclampsia (8.6% vs. 13.6%) and were less likely to need a cesarean section (about 27% vs. 33.8%) than women who were not.

Most women in the U.S. are screened for gestational diabetes between 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy but may be tested even earlier if they are very obese, have a strong family history of the condition, or if they had gestational diabetes or gave birth to a large baby during previous pregnancies. If a one-hour oral glucose test is positive for elevated blood sugar, then women generally undergo a similar three-hour test in order to be diagnosed.

Although gestational diabetes usually goes away after a woman gives birth, women who have the condition are 50% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes within the next 20 years. For that reason, the American Diabetes Association recommends occasional blood-sugar testing, a healthy diet, and regular exercise even after childbirth.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Baby Brought Back to Life by Mother's Love

An Australian mother has told how her touch brought her 'dead' baby back to life.

Doctors gave tiny Jamie Ogg no chance of survival when he was born prematurely at 27 weeks weighing just 2lb. His twin sister Emily had survived but after battling for 20 minutes to get him to breathe Jamie was declared dead. He was then handed to his mother Kate so she and her partner David could grieve and say their goodbyes.

But after two hours of being spoken to, touched cuddled and held by his mother he miraculously began showing signs of life. Then after being given breast milk on his mother's finger, he began breathing regularly.

Kate, who gave birth after a three-hour labour in March, has spoken of how vital 'skin-on-skin' care can be for a sick baby, or 'kangaroo touch' as it is known in Australia. 'Skin-on-skin' care is when the child is laid on the mother.

Normally, premature babies are sent to intensive care and she was only given her son to hold because he was thought to have died.

Telling how the drama unfolded at a hospital in Sydney, she said: "The doctor asked me after the birth had we chosen a name for our son. I said, 'Jamie', and he turned around with my son already wrapped up and said, 'We've lost Jamie, he didn't make it, sorry.' It was the worse feeling I've ever felt. I unwrapped Jamie from his blanket. He was very limp. His little arms and legs were just falling down away from his body. I took my gown off and arranged him on my chest with his head over my arm and just held him. He wasn't moving at all and we just started talking to him. We told him what his name was and that he had a sister. We told him the things we wanted to do with him throughout his life."

"Jamie occasionally gasped for air, which doctors said was a reflex action. After just five minutes I felt him move as if he were startled, then he started gasping more and more regularly. I thought, 'Oh my God, what's going on?' A short time later he opened his eyes. It was a miracle.

"I told my mum, who was there, that he was still alive. Then he held out his hand and grabbed my finger. He opened his eyes and moved his head from side to side."

"She said they passed on a message to their doctor insisting Jamie was showing signs of life, but he sent back a midwife with the reply that they were just natural reflexes and that there was no possible way he could still be alive."

Kate then said to her husband, "What if he lives?" She added: "I was like, 'We could be the luckiest parents in the world.'"

"I gave Jamie some breast milk on my finger, he took it and started regular breathing."

"At that point the doctor came back. He got a stethoscope, listened to Jamie's chest and just kept shaking his head. He said, 'I don't believe it, I don't believe it.'"

David, speaking to the Australian TV show Today Tonight, said: "Luckily, I've got a very strong, very smart wife. She instinctively did what she did. If she hadn't have done that, then Jamie probably wouldn't be here."

The doctor who delivered Jamie refused to be interviewed for the TV show.


Introducing Salmon Baby Food

Here's an idea for parents: try giving your toddler a generous helping of pureed salmon for dinner tonight. Here's another idea: make it a point to have a dinner No. 2 on hand after your baby throws dinner No. 1 at your head.

If there's one hard rule of childhood, it's that kids don't like fish. Yes, they'll scarf down tuna salad and fish sticks, but even Mrs. Paul would tell you that doesn't count. However, Susan Brewer, a professor of food science at the University of Illinois, is convinced that babies' growing bodies — particularly their growing brains — need fish, and she's developed just the baby food that she thinks could pass their taste (and tolerance) test.

There are a lot of reasons all people are encouraged to eat fish at least twice a week, not the least being that it's low in fat and calories. Just as important, it's also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for brain and nerve development and help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. For adults, the biggest benefits are the cardiovascular ones, but for babies, the brain is still very much a work in progress, and omega-3s — particularly a type called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — are critical. A baby's brain, says Brewer, is 50% DHA, but a baby's liver is not good at synthesizing enough of it.

"If small children are going to get enough DHA," she says, "they're going to have to ingest it in their food."

Salmon, Brewer decided, is one of the best possible ways to provide it. Not only is the fish especially high in omega-3s, it's also mild tasting, which is part of what drives its global popularity so far up (and also, unfortunately, is pushing its wild populations so far down). Brewer developed a baby food that uses wild salmon caught late in the fish's life, a time when its flesh has begun to soften. She also adds salmon bonemeal and roe to her mix, which boosts nutrient level.

O.K., that sounds nasty, but when the raw ingredients are processed into baby food, the result is a product that, Brewer says, tastes more like salmon and cream-cheese dip than plain salmon. Parents (if not yet babies themselves) seem to agree. In one recent focus group, 81% of 107 parents said they liked the product and that they'd feed it to their babies.

Brewer believes that introducing fish early will help nurture not just babies' brains, but their palates too. One reason so many Americans have an aversion to fish is that it was not made part of their diets when their tastes were developing. Fish-based baby food already sells well in Asia, Italy and the U.K., in part because those countries include fish early and often in a child's life. One downside, of course, is sticker shock: wild salmon is pricey stuff even for adult connoisseurs; for babies, it might simply seem too extravagant. For now, however, Brewer is focusing on taste and nutrition; economies of scale may come later.


Study: Antivirals in the First Trimester Appear Safe

Taking certain antiviral medications for herpes infections during the first three months of pregnancy does not increase a child's risk of major birth defects, researchers report in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The antiviral drugs acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are often prescribed to treat herpes viral infections, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV). More than one in five pregnant women have antibodies in their blood to HSV, indicating a past or present infection.

Herpes antiviral medications are also used to treat herpes zoster infections, commonly known as shingles.

Until now, information about the safety of these antivirals during pregnancy has been limited. The medications are listed as category B by the FDA. Category B means adequate studies on pregnant women are lacking but animal studies have shown the medicine is safe during pregnancy, or human studies showed it was safe during pregnancy but animal studies offered conflicting evidence.

The new study suggests that pregnant women may be able to take some of these drugs without fear of harming their developing baby, at least during the first trimester. Researchers in Copenhagen, Denmark, looked at live birth records from more than 800,000 infants between January 1996 to September 2008, noting the link between acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir use in the first trimester of pregnancy and major birth defects. Participants had no medical history of chromosome or genetic problems or viral infections at birth. The study team also adjusted for other factors known to influence outcome.

“Our study, to our knowledge the largest of its kind, found no significant association between first-trimester exposure to antiherpetic antiviral drugs and major birth defects," the study authors write in the journal report. "Acyclovir is the most extensively documented antiviral and should therefore be the drug of choice in early pregnancy."

The study authors warn that their analysis regarding famciclovir was based on a small number of pregnancies and should "not be viewed as evidence of safety of this drug." Data on valacyclovir also remains insufficient, they say. The team encourages continued research to study the link between these medications and miscarriage and preterm labor, and their safety during breastfeeding.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Study: Babies Remember Stress and Anticipate More

They may have barely mastered sitting up by themselves.

But six-month-old babies become stressed out when they don't get the attention they feel they deserve.

Levels of the stress hormone cortisol soar when they are ignored by their mother, and even a day later they are worried about the same thing happening again.

A baby who is deprived of its mother's love for just two minutes is anxious about being ignored again the next day, a study found.

To investigate whether six-month-olds are capable of anticipating trouble, the Canadian researchers invited 30 mothers and babies into their laboratory and divided them into two groups.

Babies were placed in car seats and their mothers played with them and talked to them as normal.

The play was then interspersed with two-minute periods in which the mother simply stared over her child's head, keeping her face free of emotion.

The next day, she took her child back to the laboratory. Levels of cortisol were measured several times on both days. Amounts of cortisol shot up when the babies were ignored.

They then fell off, before rising again when the youngsters were taken back into the laboratory, despite them not being ignored on the second day.

A second group of babies went through the same process, but without being ignored at any time, and their hormone levels barely changed.

The findings suggest that being taken back into the laboratory led the youngsters who had been ignored to anticipate there being more trouble ahead, the journal Biology Letters reports.

Researcher Dr David Haley, of the University of Toronto, said: 'The results suggest that human infants have the capacity to produce an anticipatory stress response that is based on expectations about how their parents will treat them in a specific context.'


More Pregnant Women are Drinking

Donna is four months pregnant - and she started drinking one month ago. She's totally unapologetic about this.

"My therapist recommended wine [for stress]," says Donna, 32, a Brooklyn mother of two. Her midwife also recommended wine, she says, after her first trimester.

"I've had two glasses in the last nine days," she says cheerfully.

Still, not everyone is supportive of her choice. "My boyfriend is not happy about it," she says. "My aunt said I shouldn’t do it." And Donna, who isn’t ashamed of her drinking, is still so worried about the stigma she doesn’t want her last name to appear in this article.

Drinking while pregnant is perhaps the last big taboo for moms-to-be. Much like breastfeeding and co-sleeping.

But in New York, a growing number of pregnant women are saying, “Bottoms up!”

Tired of the zero-tolerance hysteria — no alcohol, soft cheeses, fish or hair dye — that treats pregnancy like an affliction, they’re embracing a European attitude and indulging in the occasional glass of vino.

“The truth is, if you look at who’s born with fetal alcohol syndrome, their mothers were alcoholics — not one drink a week” women, says Dr. Randi Hutter Epstein, a mom of four and the author of “Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth From the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank.”

“I feel strongly that all of our anti-alcohol messages are just targeting the wrong audience,” she says, meaning healthy moms without dependence problems.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises “no amount of alcohol consumption can be considered safe during pregnancy.” Still, research has found that light drinking is reasonably safe. A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology last year found that children whose moms had “one to two” drinks per week during pregnancy were at no more risk of cognitive deficits than those who had zero alcohol.

Furthermore, a French study published in 2008 found that more than 50 percent of French women drank alcohol at least once while pregnant. The same study, which appeared in a May 2008 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, found that only 12 percent of American women did.

During her first pregnancy, April Peveteaux, a 38-year-old Brooklynite, was nervous about drinking: “There was still that fear in the back of my mind that I could do something to hurt the baby.” However, “I was four months pregnant when I got married,” says the writer at and now a mother of two. “I thought, ‘I’m definitely having a glass of Champagne at my wedding.’ ”

During her honeymoon in Ireland, she learned about cultural differences regarding pregnancy and drinking while flipping through parenting books that advised no more than two drinks . . . per day. “I was laughing,” she says. “But it taught me a big lesson: I’m going to relax.”

Other expectant moms, such as Donna, are quietly being given the go-ahead by medical experts. Stephanie Korenman’s doctor prescribed alcohol after her amniocentesis test, telling her to “go home and drink a glass of wine,” because it calmed down painful uterine contractions that can result from the procedure. “Of course I was nervous, but it was my third kid,” said Korenman, 38, a Manhattan attorney. She says she was less hyper-vigilant than the first time around — plus, she did her own research to make sure it was safe. “I’m Orthodox [Jewish], so on Friday nights, I’d have just a little bit of wine — like half a shot glass,” she says. “Although I do know people who would say, ‘Not even that.’ ”

Dr. Epstein’s own doctor, by contrast, wasn’t concerned about the occasional sip. “My doctor said, ‘Go about your life and don’t worry about wine or anything,’” says Epstein, recalling her first pregnancy 10 years ago. On a trip to France while she was expecting, “We’d go out to dinner, and the waitress would show me the wine list, and I’d say, ‘I’m pregnant,’ ” says Epstein. “And she’d say, ‘Congrats, what kind of wine do you want?’

For Peveteaux, the freedom to relax with her husband and have a beer was important for her mental well-being.

“It made me feel more like a person,” she says, “rather than just a vessel.”


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Thinking on C-section Antibiotics

In order to minimize the risk of infection in mothers, women giving birth to babies by cesarean section should routinely receive antibiotics an hour before the surgery, according to a new recommendation issued Monday by a national doctor group.

Currently, women who undergo cesareans often receive antibiotics as a precaution against infection to the abdomen and uterus - but usually only after the delivery, when the umbilical cord is clamped, because of concern for the baby's safety.

Some pediatricians worry that antibiotics administered to the mother will reach the newborn and suppress the baby's blood bacterial count, potentially masking a serious infection in the baby unrelated to the cesarean section.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists examined several large, recent studies that administered antibiotics to mothers before and after cesarean deliveries. The group concluded there was no evidence of greater risk to the babies when mothers received antibiotics before surgery. Yet there was an increased benefit for the mothers in receiving the antibiotics before surgery.

"Our hope is that by bringing some review and consensus to this, we can get people to shift practice," said William Barth, one of the authors of the recommendation and chief of maternal-fetal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Some 8% to 10% of women who have a scheduled caesarean will acquire an infection, as will about 30% of women who have a caesarean delivery after labor has begun, because of greater exposure of the inside of the uterus to bacteria from the vagina, according to Dr. Barth. Infection affects only 3% of women who deliver vaginally.

In newborns, the prevalence rates for sepsis, a potentially fatal bacterial blood infection that the baby gets during or after delivery, is estimated at less than 1% of live births.

While the maternal antibiotic appears to neither help nor hinder a newborn's chances of getting sepsis, doctors have worried that in babies who have the bacterial infection, antibiotics administered to the mother before the c-section will suppress bacteria in the babies' blood test, resulting in a failure to detect the sepsis infection.

Concerns about masking babies' infections are largely theoretical, says Carol Baker, a professor of pediatrics, molecular microbiology and immunology at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, and a member of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society. While the antibiotic does cross over from the mother to the baby through the placenta, and while it could mask the blood culture, there are usually other clinical signs that a baby is sick. And pediatricians can always choose to treat a baby for infection anyway, Dr. Baker adds.

Antibiotic resistance isn't an issue, because in most cases the mother is administered only one dose of antibiotic, which doesn't represent enough time for bacteria to develop resistance, says Dr. Baker, who wasn't involved with the study. She is "completely comfortable" with the new recommendation, she says.


UK PM David Cameron's wife gives birth to baby girl

British Prime Minister David Cameron's wife Samantha has given birth to a baby girl.

"Both the baby - who was born weighing 6lbs 1oz (2.7 kg) - and Mrs Cameron are doing very well," a statement from the prime minister's Downing Street office said.

The last British prime minister to have a baby in office was former Labor leader Tony Blair, whose wife Cherie gave birth to their fourth child, Leo, in May 2000. Leo Blair was the first child born to a serving British prime minister for 150 years.

The Camerons' baby, who has not yet been named, was born at midday Tuesday, a few weeks earlier than expected, while the couple were on holiday in Cornwall, southwest England.

Center-right Conservative leader Cameron, 43, has led a coalition government since the election in May. Samantha Cameron, 39, announced shortly after the poll she would step down as creative director of luxury goods retailer Smythson.

The couple have two other children, Nancy and Arthur, born in 2004 and 2006 respectively. Their eldest son, Ivan, died in February last year aged six. He had suffered from cerebral palsy and severe epilepsy.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Two Running Stars Train While Pregnant

Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliffe are best known for their dominance on the roads: Radcliffe, the indomitable Brit who has won the ING New York City Marathon three times in the past six years, and Goucher, the gutsy American who has shown amazing strength in every event from the mile to the marathon. But these days, the women have something even more remarkable in common than course records and top-of-the-podium performances: They are both pregnant and due on the same day in September. And this shared experience has shifted their relationship from competitors to the closest of friends-the pair even trained together earlier in their pregnancies in Goucher’s home base of Portland, OR. New York Runner recently sat down with Radcliffe and Goucher, their bodies still lithe and toned despite their basketball-size bellies, and talked about the excitement of the months ahead—and beyond.

NYR: Paula, you set the bar extremely high when you ran through your pregnancy with Isla and then won the ING New York City Marathon just 10 months later. Are you following the same game plan this time around?

PR: Every pregnancy is different, so I can’t say for sure whether I’ll be able to do the same exact plan this time. I’d like to keep running for as long as I can, but if I can’t, I’ll make adjustments. Last time I do think I came back a little too soon and aggravated an injury that had been developing, which led to a sacral stress fracture. So I’ll have to wait and see how I feel.

NYR: How have you tweaked your training during pregnancy?

KG: It’s funny, because originally I thought I’d keep up the same workouts, just with slower times. But I soon realized that this was just not going to happen. I really had to lessen the intensity of my workouts. So instead of doing eight times one mile on the track, we’ll do 200-meter repeats. Or I’ll do mile repeats on an Alter-G treadmill [which minimizes gravitational forces by suspending the runner in a harness]. Everything is scaled back.

PR: Mileage-wise, I’ve cut back by about 50 percent, and I’m still doing basic core workouts and lifting weights. It’s just about getting out there and doing something, about staying fit and staying sane. I’m not trying to hit times.

NYR: Kara, are you in agreement with Paula about pace, or are you still trying to maintain specific paces in your workouts?

KG: To be honest, pace doesn’t matter. One day, I did a six-mile tempo run at 4:55 [per mile] on the Alter-G. The next day, I did an eight-mile run at 7:30 pace. I can’t get hung up on that, since it varies so much day to day.

NYR: Doctors generally advise women not to exceed a heart rate of 150 beats per minute during pregnancy. Is this something you’re very mindful of when you’re running?

KG: Definitely. Paula’s first bit of advice to me was that I had to really pay attention to my heat rate monitor. We were doing a track workout once, and we actually walked between our intervals to slow down our heart rates. Never, in all of the years I’ve been running, have I done that before!

NYR: What else has surprised you about pregnancy?

KG: Mostly how tired I am. Some days, even if I just go out for an easy run, I’ll be completely exhausted.

PR: That’s so true. No matter how hard we train, and no matter how many marathons we’ve run, nothing compares to pregnancy. And that was really surprising to find out. That’s why it was so nice to have Kara to train with, especially in the first trimester when we were really feeling that exhaustion. We were able to get each other out of the house even when we really didn’t feel like it.

NYR: Seeing that you both are at the height of your careers, did you have any anxiety about taking time off to have a baby?

KG: My husband [2000 U.S. Olympian Adam Goucher] and I got married in 2001, and he wanted a baby right away. But for a while, I worried about missing out on big races or having to take a break from the sport. Finally, after last year’s World Championships, we knew it was the right time. There was no anxiety anymore. I knew it was time and I felt completely comfortable with it.

PR: Obviously, there is a lot of planning involved when you’re a professional runner who is starting up or expanding your family. Still, there’s never going to be a perfect time, and we just went with the timing that felt right to us. My whole thing is that I didn’t want to be an old mum—I didn’t want to wait until I was retired from running to have kids. I also never saw pregnancy and being a mum as the end of my career; I never saw that the desire to run hard would die in me just because I have a child. So for me, being pregnant and giving birth is a sacrifice you make, but it’s so worth it that it doesn’t even feel like a sacrifice. Being a mum makes me fulfilled, and I feel like if I am happy and balanced in my life, I will run better.

NYR: You’re obviously both committed to continuing at a high level post-baby. What’s your plan for returning to racing?

KG: I have a perfect scenario in my head—where I don’t have any setbacks and I can start running right away—but I’m not committed to it. At first, I thought I’d be able to come back for a spring marathon, but of course that means I’d have to do a half-marathon five weeks out, and I don’t know if I’d be ready for it. I know for sure that I will keep running. Running is who I am, and even if I’m tired and sleep-deprived, I am going to be out there.

PR: I’m not setting any big goals. I started training again 12 days after Isla, which may happen again, but may not. Because of my rough experience with having Isla [she underwent a grueling 27-hour labor], I am a candidate for a C-Section, so that could throw everything off a bit if I can’t run for six weeks. What I learned from having Isla is that it’s really important to listen to my body and heed any warning signs of injury. I’ll just take it day by day, and I’ll know when I’m ready to race.

Two days after this interview, Paula Radcliffe ran the NYRR New York Mini 10K in a relaxed 44 minutes, talking with other racers and encouraging them on the hills. When she had about 50 meters to go, her daughter, Isla, and Kara Goucher joined her from the side of the road, and the three crossed the finish line together.


Catherine Bell Welcomes A Son

Congratulations to Army Wives star Catherine Bell and husband Adam Beason - People is reporting that the couple welcomed their second child, son Ronan Bell, on Saturday (August 21) in Charleston, South Carolina.

Baby Ronan arrived at 8:29 a.m., weighed in at 7 lbs., 7 oz. and is 19 3/4 inches long.

No doubt big sister Gemma, 7, is excited about the new arrival. "She has been asking for a sibling for a long time," Catherine said back in February. "I'll be sure to remind her of that when it's time to change his diapers."


Older, pregnant and smart

Christina Applegate is doing it. So is Alanis Morissette. Kelly Preston and Celine Dion, too. They're all having babies after age 35.

If you're pregnant and at a similar age, there's good news.

"The majority of women over age 35 have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies," said Jim Link, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Partners in Women's Health in Louisville. "There's really not any preset age that's unsafe for any one patient to become pregnant."

But there are some things to think about.

"Pregnancy is a one-year project -- three months to get tuned up and then nine months to do the pregnancy," said Stanley A. Gall, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at the University of Louisville.

"Consider what kind of health you're in," Gall said. "It becomes important to maintain good health because healthy moms are more likely to have healthy babies."

Schedule a pre-pregnancy visit. Some physicians recommend visiting an OB/GYN before getting pregnant. The doctor can review your medical history and "determine what things, potentially, besides age, are going to be risk factors for that pregnancy," Link said.

The doctor is likely to consider such things as, "Are your vaccinations up to date? Are you in a good body-mass-index range? Is your blood pressure normal? Is your renal function good?" said Link. Some things can be addressed "prior to conceiving and make your life a whole lot easier, not to mention the baby's," he said.

Follow your doctor's instructions. Your doctor probably will want you to take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid a day to reduce the chance of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, and to take steps to get troublesome medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, under control. You also might be asked to change medications.

Be aware of medical conditions that can affect older mom.

"When women conceive over the age of 40, there's a greater incidence of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and other medical complications," said Steven Nakajima, director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Louisville. "It's a taxing effort on your body."

Women older than 35 have a higher chance of having a child with Down syndrome than women who are younger.

Here is some specific advice for older women:

Watch your weight. Older women who are heavy tend to have problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma during pregnancy, said Stanley A. Gall, a professor at the University of Louisville.

Genetic counseling. This can help determine the risk of passing down an inherited disease. It also may provide clues to couples who've experienced recurrent miscarriages. And it can give some couples "peace of mind," said Jim Link, an obstetrician/gynecologist with Partners in Women's Health in Louisville.

Make smart choices. "It's never too late to make positive health changes," such as "stopping smoking, minimizing your stress, trying to get a regular amount of cardiovascular exercise on board, really rounding out your nutrition -- doing away with fast food, minimizing the processed foods, minimizing the high-sugar foods, minimizing your caffeine intake," Link said. "There's a lot of nutritional things that you can do."