Makena is a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone and has
been used to prevent the onset of preterm labor since 2003. The drug was
recently given FDA-approval after years of being sold without it. Unfortunately, along with the approval came one drug company that tried to monopolize the right to produce the drug, causing a price
increase from $15-$20 per dose to $1,500. Thankfully, the outrage expressed by doctors and
consumers has prompted the FDA to ensure that cheaper doses of the drug are
The March of Dimes initially celebrated the news that the
only preterm drug on the market was finally FDA-approved and being produced by
a trustworthy company, which would mean more
consistent and reliable quality. However, the price hike sent the organization
reeling, since the drug itself is fairly cheap to produce. In fact, Makena has
been produced in small pharmacies for years and sold at $15-$20 per dose. For women who have given birth early in the
past, Makena can be used from the 16th week of pregnancy to prevent spontaneous preterm labor. If the drug costs $1,500
an injection, the standard treatment lasting 20 weeks would cost $30,000.
Apparently, upon FDA-approval, KV Pharmaceutical paid for
worldwide rights to sell the drug, a high-priced transaction that is probably
the reasoning behind the price hike. The company began sending cease and desist
letters to the pharmacies that produced the drug cheaply. Once the news broke
about the drug’s price increase, online pundits and medical professionals
shared their mutual anger. As a result, the FDA has publically declared that
small pharmacies can continue producing the drug at a cheaper price. KV will
still be making the drug as well and may be intent on keeping their high price
of $1,500 a dose.
The March of Dimes estimates that approximately 10,000 women a year could prevent spontaneous preterm labor by using
Most pregnant women are well aware of the dangers of smoking
while pregnant but new studies are also showing the negative consequences of
being around others who smoke. In most cases, the risks from being around
another smoker will be negligible, but for women who live with smokers, some
new house rules may be in order.
The effects of smoking during pregnancy are well-documented; preterm birth, ectopic pregnancy, and miscarriage
are just a few possible consequences. In addition, babies born to smokers have a heightened
risk for respiratory problems, heart defects, cancer and behavioral problems.
Nicotine gum and patches may be safe alternatives to quitting cigarettes cold
In the last two decades, the dangers of smoking have been
revealed at an incredible pace. Among the newly revealed risks are second-hand and third-hand smoke. Second-hand
smoke is the unfiltered, bluish-gray smoke coming from the end of the
cigarette. Third-hand smoke is the residue left on a person who has recently
smoked a cigarette. A recent study revealed that exposure to second-hand smoke from 10 or more cigarettes a day raises
the risk of birth defects and stillbirth. However, third-hand smoke is
particularly insidious because no matter what measures you take to remove the
smell of cigarettes from your person, the chemicals remain and babies absorb
them at a greater rate than adults. A study of smokers and their babies found
that babies who merely slept in the same room
with a smoker parent had three times the amount of nicotine in hair samples than
babies who slept in another room. Higher
levels of nicotine in babies have been linked to SIDS in previous studies.
For pregnant women and new mothers, quitting smoking is an obvious
choice but these recent studies reveal how important it may be for their
partner to quit too.
Does your partner
Pregnant women: Secondhand smoke can harm your unborn baby [CNN]
Smoking during Early Pregnancy May Put Baby's Heart at Risk
Babies who sleep with smoker parents exhibit high nicotine
Mothers who have struggled with breastfeeding
will be happy to hear the latest news: longer breastfeeding is linked to larger brains. The World Health Organization currently recommends breastfeeding for two years.
A study published this week, led by Professor Robert Burton
at Durham University, studied 128 groups of mammals including humans. The
researchers learned that the longer offspring gestated and spent time suckling,
the larger their brains would grow. For example, deer have brains six times
smaller than humans and their gestation period is seven months (instead of
nine) with six months of suckling.
This isn’t the first time that science has found a link
between breastfeeding and intelligence. A handful of studies have revealed slightly
higher IQ’s in breastfed children. A study published earlier this month
discovered that breastfed children did betteron tests in language, reading, writing and math into the adolescent
years. The newest study’s authors emphasize that their study does not make any
conclusions on what affect formula has on the size of the brain and doesn’t
reveal whether any component of breast milk is behind the growth.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 77 percent of
babies in the United States are breastfed initially but less than 50 percent of
babies are breastfed by the time they reach six months of age. Hopefully, these
new findings will encourage more mothers to continue breastfeeding for longer.
How long do you plan
Breastfeeding in the United States: Findings from the
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2006 [CDC]
Breastfeeding is linked to the size of the brain [Telegraph]
In 1992, the Back to Sleep campaign was launched to prevent
the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Almost 20 years later, the
rising number of babies with deformational plagiocephaly, otherwise known as "flat head syndrome," has aroused concern from pediatricians that always
putting babies on their back to sleep may have some undesirable consequences.
Deformational plagiocephaly occurs when continued pressure
is put on a baby’s head, leading to a flat spot. There is no known treatment
for the condition but some medical professionals argue that none is needed –
that it will work itself out over time. For severe cases, most pediatricians
recommend putting a helmet on the baby’s head. Helmets theoretically leave
enough space for the child’s head to continue forming even if they are lying
down, although there are no studies that support this conclusion. Not all
infants will develop deformational plagiocephaly and some are more prone to it,
such as babies born with torticollis, a condition affecting the newborn’s neck.
The bones of the skull are soft during the first year of a baby’s life and
start to harden around the one year mark, so resolving deformational
plagiocephaly is necessary before a baby’s first birthday. Studies are underway
to determine if flat head syndrome causes any neurological problems, but it’s
believed that the long-term effects are purely aesthetic.
To prevent flat heads, parents are now encouraged to
continue putting babies on their back to sleep, but advised to change the
positioning of the head once the baby is asleep. For example, if the baby has
lolled the head to the left while sleeping, the parent can simply shift the
position of the head to the right. Parents are
also encouraged to put babies on their tummies under supervision.
The Back to Sleep Campaign has been extremely effective,
lowering the rate of SIDS by 40 percent. However, deformational plagiocephaly
and a lack of tummy time are both unexpected side effects of the campaign. To
ensure your baby’s head and posture develop normally, regular supervised tummy
time is recommended.
Do you know anyone
with “flat head syndrome”?
Head Deformity Ignites Debate among Baby Experts [Fox
SIDS Rate: Decrease Seen, but More Can be Done [KidsGrowth]
Anyone who has had a colicky baby can attest to the great
lengths they have gone to in order to calm the constant crying. While colic has
no known long-term effects on a child's life, it provides a tot-sized nightmare
for many parents. The cause of colic is unknown and only experimental
treatments such as gripe water are thought to ease it. A new study however, suggests that vitamin B12 could be at the root of colic and encourages pregnant
women to consume higher amounts of the vitamin in order to avoid having a
Vitamin B12 is found in most prenatal supplements but it is
best absorbed in the body through consuming fish, meat and dairy. The vitamin
is known to be beneficial for the development of the brain and nervous system
in developing babies. The study, completed by researchers from Public Health
Service in the Netherlands, reveals a decreased incidence of colic in babies
whose mothers consumed adequate amounts of B12 in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Three thousand pregnant women
were involved in the study and asked to give blood for researchers to monitor
their B12 levels, and then newborns were observed after birth for the number
and length of times they cried. The babies of women who had the least amount of
B12 in their blood were eight times more prone to crying. Researchers
hypothesize that stunted growth of the nervous system could be to blame.
Despite the study’s findings, more research is needed and
medical professionals are worried that the results will lead women to add more
unhealthy fats in their diet, such as the saturated fat present in some steaks.
When searching for healthy B12 sources during pregnancy, stick to low-mercury
fish and lean meats. Milk, fortified cereal, tofu, sea vegetables and eggs
are also healthy ways to add more B12 to your diet. Pregnant women are advised
to get 2.6 micrograms of B12 in their diet each day – one serving of a cereal
fortified with 100% of the daily value of B12 provides 6 mcg; a four ounce
piece of salmon, snapper, trout, or beef tenderloin provides more than 2.6 mcg.
One egg provides 0.6 mcg and one cup of low-fat
yogurt provides 1.38 mcg.
Do you think you are
getting enough B12 during your pregnancy?
Want a calm baby? Increase intake of food rich in vitamin
Currently, there is no known treatment for traumatic brain
injury (TBI), a condition that approximately 1.7 million people sustain each year, but a new study reveals the potential for a
patient's own stem cells to significantly improve their neurological health.
The study, published in the March issues of Neurosurgery, reviewed the use of bone
marrow to treat pediatric traumatic brain injury. It is the first published trial using mononuclear cells (MNC’s), one’s own cells, to treat traumatic brain injury, and focused on children because they are
one of the most likely groups to experience TBIs. The goal of the trial was to
establish the safety of the experimental treatment, which it did; in addition,
researchers also reported other exciting results. Patients treated with their
own bone marrow stem cells showed preservation of brain structures as well as improvement
in cognitive functioning, processing speed, working memory (listening skills),
fine motor skills and declarative memory (verbal skills). No adverse events
Another study of the healing potential of cord blood stem cells was begun in early 2011. This FDA-regulated trial entails follow-on research on the use of
cord blood cells to treat traumatic brain injuries. The use of one’s own cells
to treat this kind of problem bypasses the risk of blood-borne disease
transfer, cell rejection, and graft vs. host disease.
Do you know anyone
who has suffered from a traumatic brain injury?
Study Published in Neurosurgery Demonstrates Safety of Stem
Cell Therapy for Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury [The
Stem Cell Source]
Ground-Breaking Clinical Trial Using Cord Blood to Treat
Brain Injuries [PWBlog]