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Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy’

The flu shot’s available–should I get it?

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 by:

It’s a question I’ve been pondering a lot lately. And to be honest, I still haven’t decided. I’ve never gotten the flu shot, or given one to my children before–why should H1N1 be any different?

For one, H1N1 preys on children and young adults–most severe forms of the flu target the sick and elderly. Since April 2009, 76 children have died of H1N1 (including 19 last week). Sure, 36,000 people die of the flu each year, but 76 children in just six months of non-flu season is abnormally high.

I’m also thinking of getting pregnant again, which makes me question whether I should get the shot. The immune system is compromised during pregnancy, putting the expecting population more at risk. During the first four months of the outbreak, 100 pregnant Americans were hospitalized and 28 died. The further along the pregnancy, the higher the risks to mom and baby. In the third trimester the fetus pushes against the thoracic cage, decreasing lung capacity and increasing respiratory risk.

Since the H1N1 vaccination is available starting this week, why take the risk? Shouldn’t I just get the shot? To help weigh my options I made a pro/con list:

Against: The multi-dose vial contains thimerosal (a form of mercury), used as a preservative to prevent contamination.

For: A can of tuna contains more mercury than the H1N1 shot.

Against: Has the H1N1 vaccination really been tested sufficiently?

For: Experts say yes. In fact, even more so because it has already been widely used during the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season. During China’s flu season just four of the first 39,000 people to receive the vaccination experienced muscle cramps and headaches as side effects.

Against: Canadian shots contain adjuvants, which increase the potency–and the uncertainty–of vaccination safety.

For: American shots are adjuvant-free and pregnant Canadians can get adjuvant-free shots.

Against: My kids and I may be exposed to flus other than H1N1 and get sick anyways.

For: At least we’ll be H1N1 safe.

My decision? I remain undecided but am leaning more heavily towards getting the H1N1 vaccination.

Are Anti-Depressants Safe during Pregnancy?

Monday, June 8th, 2009 by:

As if there wasn’t enough for moms-to-be to worry about, now we can’t even get depressed. Or, if we do feel down, we can’t do anything about it.

Until recently doctors advised that it was okay for pregnant women to take drugs such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft to help ease depression. But a flurry of recent reports are challenging the safety of antidepressants for unborn babies. Most famously, three independent studies have found that Paxil can triple a baby’s risk of developing a heart defect. The risk is still less than one in 500, but if you’re that one mother the effects can be devastating.

Studies have also found that Paxil and other anti-depressant drugs can increase the risk of miscarriage and the chance that your baby will be born prematurely. Most doctors now warn that pregnant women should avoid Paxil and most anti-depressant drugs throughout their pregnancy except for extreme cases. If you suffer from depression, and are planning to have a baby, you should speak with your doctor about alternatives before trying to conceive.

Soak Up The Sun

Friday, April 17th, 2009 by:

I love the sun. I love the way it feels beating down on my face, the way it heats up my body after an especially frigid winter, and I love the way it makes me look. After a recent afternoon walk I was bombarded with: “You look so healthy.” And “Did you just get a facial?” How could something so good be bad?

Yes, we get it. Too much sun increases our skin cancer risk. There’s no need to report on anymore bad news. Which is why I was so excited to hear of a new UK study that found that women who soak up the sun during their last trimester of pregnancy can increase their unborn child’s bone density.

The connection is presumably explained by vitamin D, which is synthesized in the skin after sun exposure and plays a key role in bone health. It’s possible that a mother’s vitamin D levels late in pregnancy have lasting effects on her child’s later bone development. Bring on the rays! (In moderation of course.)

Spit and Tell

Thursday, April 9th, 2009 by:

When I first became pregnant, I couldn’t get enough information about my expanding bump. Books, online advice, chats with other moms–I did it all. I also discovered 23andme, an online personal genomics company. For $399, and a 2.5-milliliter vile of spit, the company decodes a part of your DNA and lets you know if you are more or less likely than the general population to get a host of ailments ranging from breast cancer to Parkinson’s disease. It also traces your lineage further back than any family tree ever could, and offers lots of relevant information for moms-to-be–such as whether breastfeeding will increase your child’s IQ (yes, this is genetically determined). Now, 23andme has launched an online pregnancy community.

The founding members include 14 of the top online mommy bloggers. 23andme’s pregnancy community provides the ideal forum to chat with moms about information learned through 23andme, as well as more general pregnancy chatter. You never know what you might find out.

“In my third pregnancy I had the genetic marker for down’s syndrome,” says 23andme pregnancy community founding member and author of Motherhood Uncensored Kristen Chase. “Through a blog community I was alerted to the fact that one in three Asian Women have that genetic marker [and it means nothing].” Chase’s ancestory on 23andme was strongly Asian. “If I’d have known this fact before, it may have saved me a lot of stress and extra tests,” says Chase.

If you can’t afford the $399 to take the test, Chase encourages you to join up for the 23andme pregnancy community and take their pregnancy surveys–which you can do for free. “It’s such a unique way of gathering information and a way to help others in the future.”

Planning a C-section? It may pay to wait.

Saturday, February 21st, 2009 by:

I wish this had been published before I scheduled my C-section at 38 weeks. Although the outcome may not have been any different (my son was in NICU for 11 days for respiratory distress), there’s a chance that waiting an extra week to deliver could have nixed my baby’s NICU stay.

Thirty-seven weeks is considered a full-term pregnancy. But if you need to schedule a planned cesearean section delivery, new information has found it’s best to way until your baby is at least 39 gestational weeks of age.

A study published in the The New England Journal of Medicine tracked almost 25,000 repeat and singleton C-sections. Compared to births at 39 weeks, births at 37 and 38 weeks were associated with an increased risk of adverse respiratory outcomes, mechanical ventilation, newborn sepsis, hypoglycemia, and admission to the neonatal unit. Your risk increased by a factor of 1.8 to 4.2 for births at 37 weeks and 1.3 to 2.1 for births at 38 weeks.