Archive for Healthy pregnancy and women’s health
Folic Acid Supplementation and Prevention of Birth Defects
We’ve seen much research and opinion supporting folic acid in women of child bearing age to lower risk of neural tube defects. This article, however, looks for effective levels of supplementation for women with prior NTD births and suggest 4,000 micrograms. Considering that it took four decades just to get up to the 400-800 mcgs and this dose is 5 to 10 fold higher don’t expect this to hit the newsstand anytime soon.
Nutrition.org — Abstracts: Green 132 (8): 2356S
Pregnant Women and Nursing Mothers Should Avoid French Fries, Chips
Not that this should be any breaking news for anyone, but this article addresses acrylamide, a potentially toxic compound formed when certain foods are heated to high temps. This substance recently gained much press when it was found to be present in many commonly consumed foods (search prior Updates).
Jan 14, 2003 Pregnant women and nursing mothers should sharply limit, or even cease, consumption of French fries, potato chips or other foods that contain the cancer-causing chemical acrylamide, according to study released Tuesday by German researchers.The researchers said they issued the warning for pregnant women and nursing mothers because fetuses and newborn babies are particularly susceptible to the potential harmful effects of acrylamide. The results of the study were scheduled for nationwide broadcast Tuesday evening on a German television news program.The study leader Professor Fritz Soergel, of the Institute for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research in Nuremberg, said that acrylamide is highly water-soluble. Foetuses and infants are therefore at greater risk than are adults because of their generally higher body water levels. Furthermore, blood brain barriers in foetuses and newborn infants are not full developed.Acrylamide first received global attention in April 2002 when Swedish researchers reported finding the chemical in fried and oven baked foods, especially in potato chips and French fries. The findings were at first greeted with scepticism, but scientists in other nations have since produced similar results.High levels of acrylamide have been found to cause cancer in rodents. Last September the US Food and Drug Administration announced a plan to reduce or eliminate concentrations of acrylamide in potato and cereal products.In Germany in the last few months, the potential health threat from acrylamide has become a major national issue, with Professor Soergel gaining a reputation as an expert.Professor Soergel recommends that nursing mothers not eat potato chips, French fries or other potatoes fried in oil at temperatures over 180 degrees centigrade, at least until their infant reaches 2 months old. He believes pregnant woman should limit acrylamide consumption to no more than 20 micrograms per day, which he says would be the equivalent of about 10 grams of potato chips.In an interview with Reuters Health, Professor Soergel, described acrylamide as a neuro-toxic agent that he believes can cause cancer in humans. Professor Soergel said that he and two colleagues–Professor Rainer Weissenbacher, of the University of Munich, and Professor Edgar Schoemig, of the University of Cologne–conducted their study during the past 6 weeks.They used mass spectrometry to measure levels of acrylamide in the bodies of pregnant women and placentas after they delivered, and also evaluated nursing mothers and their breast milk.Professor Soergel said that tests showed anywhere from 10% to 50% of the acrylamide levels found in pregnant women was transferred via blood through the placenta to foetus.In breast milk, tests revealed up to 18.8 micrograms per litre of acrylamide, he said, adding that if a newborn baby drinks slightly over half a litre per day it would be consuming nearly 10 micrograms of acrylamide.Professor Soergel told Reuters Health that his team tested breast milk from only two nursing mothers and from the placentas of three women after they gave birth. However, he insisted that despite the small sample, the research team’s main findings–that acrylamide can pass from a woman to a foetus and to a newborn through breast mild–remain valid.He added that with a larger sample, researchers will be able to more accurately determine levels of acrylamide that can pass through the placenta or into breast milk.Professor Soergel emphasised that non-fried potatoes, such as baked or boiled, are extremely healthy and should not be avoided by pregnant woman or nursing mothers. Potatoes fried at temperatures “substantially lower,” about 140 degrees centigrade, would have very low levels of acrylamide and would therefore be safe to eat, he said.
Calcium, vitamin D, milk and hip fractures in postmenopausal women
Better not let the dairy industry hear about this one…milk did not lower fracture risk. I still believe that dairy products do us much more harm than good and always strongly recommend patients staying away from them. The milk industry’s promotion of “milk it does a body good” has been one of the great examples of how much money and advertising can do to create behaviors and beliefs, even if there is little or no support for them.
AJCN — Abstracts: Feskanich et al. 77 (2): 504
Increased insulin resistance in women with recurrent pregnancy loss
The treatment of infertility in today’s medical environment rarely addresses lifestyle factors that contribute to problems achieving and completing a full term pregnancy. In any couples having difficulty, insulin resistance should always be addressed as a primary intervention. Insulin resistance has been strongly linked with polycystic ovary disease, which is notorious for creating problems with ovulation and therefore conception.
Steroid and Cytokine Regulation of MMP Expression in Endometriosis
Cutting through the technical jargon, this article brings to light a potentially important factor for treatment of endometriosis. Progesterone is key here. Progesterone inhibits the ability of an enzyme, MMP, to establish endometriosis. This ability of progesterone can itself be inhibited by certain mechanisms. This study finds that the use of retinoic acid (vitamin A related compounds) and transforming growth factor beta (a cytokine controlling cell maturation) can restore progesterone’s protective ability. As added info, many women today, as a result of exposure to way too many exogenous estrogens, go through anovulatory cycles. Without the release of an ovum during a normal menstrual cycle, the body lacks that normal exposure to progesterone that is so needed for normal female reproductive function.
JCEM — Abstracts: Bruner-Tran et al. 87 (10): 4782
Exercise and Pregnancy: Can You Do Both?
Over the years, there has been considerable debate regarding the importance (and safety) of physical activity during pregnancy. Recently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published new guidelines for exercise during pregnancy and the period immediately after giving birth.
This article examines various recommendations related to exercise during pregnancy, but the authors’ conclusion sums it up best: “Pregnancy should not be a state of confinement, and pregnant women should be encouraged to continue and engage in physical activities. … Despite the fact that pregnancy is associated with profound anatomical and physiological changes, exercise has minimal risks and confirmed benefits for most women.”
As these guidelines emphasize, if you’re expecting a child, certain physical activities are safe and even beneficial; on the other hand, some activities may be dangerous. Before you begin any exercise program during pregnancy, talk to your doctor to ensure that you and your growing child stay as healthy as possible.
For more information on women’s health, visit http://www.chiroweb.com/find/tellmeabout/women.html. Reference:Artal R, O’Toole M. Guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2003;37:6-12.
Treatment of multiple sclerosis with the pregnancy hormone estriol
I’ll take this opportunity to freshen up on female hormones. The human produces three estrogens; estradiol, estrione and estriol. Estriol is generally considered the friendly hormone, and many regimens of natural HRT rely heavily upon estriol. In this study we see estriol as possibly being protective against MS. This study tried to figure out why MS symptoms seem to be reduced or in remission while a woman is pregnant (a condition where estiol levels are high) and found that estriol may be a factor.
C-section increases risk of hospital care in childhood for asthma, gastroenteritis
While these results may seem confusing at first, recall that a newborn’s first exposure to beneficial bacteria is through the vaginal vault during delivery (provided that the mother has not undergone antibiotic therapy anytime in the past that may have destroyed or upset local flora in the vaginal vault). This exposure sets in motion a series of processes that help the developing child’s immune system mature properly.
Reproductive hormonal dynamics in the perimenopause
This is an older article but one I had to throw in just to blow apart standard thinking. So many people (and physicians included0 believe that perimenopausal symptoms are a result of lack of estrogens. The treatment? More estrogen, of course (in the form of equine estrogens foreign to the human body). Unfortunately, the reality is that perimenopause is associated with elevated estrogens. The symptoms of perimenopause are from rapid changes in estrogen levels, not elevated estrogen. Blunt the peaks with progesterone cream (downregulates estrogen receptors and makes cells less sensitive to estrogen) and fill in the troughs with phytoestrogens and most of the symptoms and signs of perimenopause disappear…
JCEM — Abstracts: Santoro et al. 81 (4): 1495
Sinistrality-a side-effect of prenatal sonography
This is unquestionably one of the scarier articles I have come across in a long time. You need to fully understand that fetal ultrasonography is used extensively in Western medicine and that studies have never been done to determine safety. Couple that with the fact that ultrasonography rarely, if ever, changes the outcome of the pregnancy. So, used extensively despite lack of a safety profile, and apparently for no clinical reason. Well, here’s the shocker–this article suggests that this procedure does have an effect on the developing brain. HELLO!!! While this article looks at effects on handedness (an easy marker to look for), what other subtle neurological damage/changes are we inducing??????