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  • Sophia and Aiden lead Top 100 Baby Names of 2010

    .. Please step down, Isabella. Sophia is taking your place as the most popular girl's name of 2010.

    Congratulations, Aiden. You've held onto the number-one boy's spot for the sixth year in a row.

    Welcome to the pack, Liam and Abigail. You're now officially a part of the coveted top 10.

    BabyCenter released its list of the Top 100 Baby Names of 2010 today. The online parenting and pregnancy destination compiled some 350,000 baby names and combined those that sound the same but have different spellings (such as Sophia and Sofia) to create a true measure of popularity.

    Top 10 Girls’ Names of 2010

    1.Sophia
    2.Isabella
    3.Olivia
    4.Emma
    5.Chloe
    6.Ava
    7.Lily
    8.Madison
    9.Addison
    10.Abigail

    Top 10 Boys’ Names of 2010

    1.Aiden
    2.Jacob
    3.Jackson
    4.Ethan
    5.Jayden
    6.Noah
    7.Logan
    8.Caden
    9.Lucas
    10.Liam

    What's influencing baby-naming parents? Parents turned to pop culture, politics, a bygone era, and the ever-popular Old Testament for inspiration. Here's a look at the Hottest Baby Name Trends of 2010:

    •Glee's cheerleader queen Quinn may be mean, but her name is certainly popular, jumping up in the ratings a whopping 60 percent. Finn, Jenna, and Lea are also singing a happy tune.

    •The critically acclaimed drama Mad Men has struck a nerve with the American public. Dishy Don (as in Draper) inched up the charts, and his ex-wife is bringing the cool back to Betty. The silver-haired fox Roger rose 21 percent, while his wife, Jane, also gained popularity.

    •The names of the moms on MTV's reality show 16 and Pregnant are also popular: Maci, Farrah, and Katelynn are up by 60, 51, and 7 percent, respectively.

    •Sarah Palin's daughters' names – Bristol, Willow, and Piper – are climbing the ladder, but the name Sarah is actually in decline.

    •The golden age of film (think 1930 to 1959) played a starring role in this year's list. Audrey, Ava, Scarlett, Evelyn, Vivien, and Greta all got rave reviews.

    •Parents are reaching back for names…way, way back to the Old Testament. Jacob has made the BabyCenter top ten for the past ten years, while Levi, Caleb, Elijah, and Jeremiah are rising in the charts. For more about the hottest trends see BabyCenter’s Baby Names Special Report of 2010.

    What about names below the top ten? Some are flying up the list, while others are spiraling downward.

    •Newcomers who broke into the top 100 include Annabelle (69), Stella (72), Nora (83), Jeremiah (90), Hudson (96), and Ryder (97).

    •Ellie, who leapfrogged 26 spots to come in at number 61, is a rising star.

    •So is Charlotte, who was bumped up 20 to number 38.

    •And then there's Grayson, who enjoyed a 25-spot jump to land at number 66.

    •Some names lost a lot of ground. Brooke shot down 23 spots to number 82, while Hayden tumbled 20 spots to number 91.

    •Ashley and Brendan exited the top 100 entirely.

    What's up for next year? BabyCenter uses a top-secret algorithm to unearth the names that are likely to become even more popular in 2011.

    •Of the top 100 girls' names from 2010, it looks like Layla, Lila, Evelyn, Charlotte, Lucy, Ellie, Aaliyah, Bella, Claire, and Aubrey will continue to rise in 2011.

    •Of the top 100 boys' names from 2010, BabyCenter predicts that Eli, Colton, Grayson, Wyatt, Henry, Mason, Landon, Charlie, Max, and Chase will gain momentum in 2011.

    And what about names that haven't even broken into the top 100? Who will be next year's newcomers?

    •Among the less popular names now moving up the girls' list are Isla, Adalyn, Giuliana, Olive, Kinsley, Evangeline, Paisley, Vivienne, Maci, and Kinley.

    •And although Bentley, Kellan, Kingston, Aarav, Ryker, Beckett, Colt, Paxton, Jax, and Lincoln are well below the top 100 on the boys' list, they're all fast climbers.

  • Pregnancy-related deaths rise in the U.S. -- But still rare for a woman to die from birth complications

    By Amy Norton of Reuters

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – While it remains rare for a woman in the U.S. to die from pregnancy complications, the national rate of pregnancy-related deaths appears to be on the upswing, a new government study finds.

    Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that between 1998 and 2005, the rate of pregnancy-related deaths was 14.5 per 100,000 live births. And while that rate is low, it is higher than what has been seen in the past few decades.

    The researchers caution that the extent to which the rise reflects a true elevation in women's risk of dying is unclear. Recent changes in how causes of death are officially reported by states to the federal government may be at least partially responsible for the findings.

    However, it is also possible that part of the increase is "real." According to the new data, deaths from chronic medical conditions that are exacerbated by pregnancy, including heart disease, appear to account for a growing number of pregnancy-related deaths.

    In contrast, deaths from actual obstetric complications -- namely, hemorrhaging and pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders -- are declining.

    The absolute risk of a U.S. woman dying from pregnancy-related problems is still "very small," lead researcher Dr. Cynthia J. Berg, of the CDC's division of reproductive health, said in an interview.

    But, she added, the new findings do underscore the importance of women "making sure they are in the best possible health before pregnancy."

    All women, Berg said, should try to have a pre-pregnancy visit with their ob-gyn and, if needed, get their weight and any chronic medical conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes, under control before becoming pregnant.

    For their study, Berg and her colleagues looked at data on 4,693 pregnancy-related deaths reported to the CDC between 1998 and 2005. Pregnancy-related death was any death occurring during or within one year of pregnancy that was attributed to a pregnancy complication.

    The researchers estimate that for that eight-year period, the national rate of pregnancy-related death was 14.5 for every 100,000 live births.

    In contrast, in 1979, there were just under 11 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the U.S. -- a rate that fell to as far as 7.4 per 100,000 in 1986, before beginning a gradual increase.

    In addition, the racial gap that has long been seen in pregnancy-related deaths shows no signs of narrowing. Between 1998 and 2005, the death rate among black women was 37.5 per 100,000 live births, versus 10.2 per 100,000 among white women and 13.4 per 100,000 for all other racial groups combined.

    The reasons for the upward trend in the overall rate of pregnancy-related deaths are not certain, and more studies are needed to tease apart the contributing factors, Berg said.

    One factor, according to the researchers, could be two technical changes in how causes of death are officially reported. In 1999, the U.S. adopted an updated system for coding causes of death -- one that allowed more deaths to be classified as "maternal."
    Then in 2003, the standard death certificate was revised to include a "pregnancy checkbox," which increased the number of deaths that could be linked, in timing, to pregnancy.

    However, recent years have seen not only a change in the rate of pregnancy-related deaths, but in the specific causes.

    Berg explained that the proportion of deaths from "direct causes" -- obstetrical complications like hemorrhaging -- is going down, while the proportion attributed to indirect causes -- that is, medical conditions worsened by pregnancy -- is increasing.

    Hemorrhaging, for example, accounted for just under 30 percent of pregnancy-related deaths between 1987 and 1990, but only 12 percent between 1998 and 2005. High blood pressure disorders (mainly pre-eclampsia and eclampsia) also accounted for about 12 percent of deaths in 1998-2005 -- down from around 18 percent in 1987-1990.

    On the other hand, there was a sharp increase in the proportion of deaths attributed to heart problems. In the most recent time period, just over 12 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were attributed to "cardiovascular conditions," while just under 12 percent were attributed to cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart.

    In 1987-1990, only about five percent of deaths were linked to cardiomyopathy, and a smaller percentage to cardiovascular conditions.

    This study cannot weed out the precise reasons for these patterns. But Berg pointed out that "our population is changing."

    More women of childbearing age today are obese or have chronic health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes than in years past. So that could help explain the shifting pattern in the causes of pregnancy-related deaths, according to Berg.

    The bottom line for women, she said, is that while the odds of dying from pregnancy-related problems remains quite low, it is important to go into pregnancy in the best possible health.

    The CDC has information on pre-pregnancy health.

    SOURCE: http://link.reuters.com/vah38q Obstetrics & Gynecology, December 2010.

  • Tip of the Day: Pregnancy-friendly Caesar salad

    This delicious article from JILL REED at the OC Register

    I didn’t have too many cravings when I was pregnant with Ben.

    I mostly craved salsa. Which was fine until heartburn set in during the third trimester. Then even oatmeal was painful.

    But I also had a pretty consistent craving for Caesar salad. Of course, the traditional preparation with raw eggs was out of the question. And anytime I asked about it at a restaurant they said that they did indeed use raw eggs.

    So I decided to experiment a bit using mayonnaise. Because of how it is processed, store-bought mayo is OK to eat if you are expecting.

    I had great success. And, even though I am not pregnant anymore, I still use this recipe because it is easy and it keeps well for a few days in the fridge.

    I do use anchovies in this. I know some people are not really fond of those funny little fish. I like the layer of flavor they add to a Caesar, and they get pulverized when this dressing is blended. But if they are not your thing, just leave ‘em out.

    By the way, anchovies are low in mercury and high in all sorts of other good stuff. Anchovies are OK in moderation for pregnant women.

    Pregnancy-friendly Caesar salad
    (makes 6-8 servings, depending on how large of a salad you like)

    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use light mayo and it works great)
    4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    Freshly ground pepper
    1 1/2 pounds romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
    Your favorite croutons
    1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Directions:

    1. In a food processor (I use my mini processor for such a small batch) or a blender, combine the mayonnaise, anchovies, lemon juice, garlic and mustard and blend until smooth. With the processor on, slowly pour in the olive oil and blend until smooth and combined. Season the dressing with pepper to taste.

    2. In a large bowl, toss the romaine with the croutons. Add the dressing and toss. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the salad, toss again and serve right away.

    3. Leftover dressing will keep in the fridge for a few days. Just give it a quick whisk before you use it.

  • BREASTFEEDING exposes babies to a variety of flavours

    This article from Australia.

    BREASTFEEDING exposes babies to a variety of flavours, making them more accepting of different foods as they grow

    CSIRO research psychologist Dr Nadia Corsini said studies showed breastfeeding provided infants with a greater variety of tastes compared with formula, which was beneficial when weaning them on to solid foods.

    "Exposure to flavours takes place in utero and via breastfeeding, where the baby is exposed to flavours in mother's diet," she said.

    "A lot of people might not realise this is one of benefits of breastfeeding, the exposure to different flavours.

    "Research suggests children with exposure to different flavours are more accepting of different foods as they grow older to those who didn't have exposure."

    According to a European study of 147 mothers and their infants, both breastfeeding and daily changes in vegetables offered early in weaning increased the child's acceptance of new foods for at least up to two months.

    Dr Corsini said breastfeeding versus formula was a sensitive issue, but mothers shouldn't feel they are disadvantaging their child if they do not breastfeed.

    "Even though these processes exist it doesn't mean you can't change or influence your children's acceptance of different foods after that stage," she said.

    "That's why it's important to offer children a wide variety of healthy foods early in life. It is such an important influence on the variety in their diet later."

    Gordana Hopping, 33, is breastfeeding her five-month-old daughter Filipa and mindful of eating well.

    "I'm staying away from soft drinks and sugary foods," she said. "I have a healthy diet so Filipa is too."

    The Advertiser and Sunday Mail Healthy Eating project continues this week, encouraging children to learn more about balanced diets and cooking nutritious meals.

    Students can collect daily panels featuring the different food groups as well as recipes courtesy of the CSIRO.

  • Alaska Airlines Agrees to Reimburse Couple in Diaper Dispute

    by Fran Golden at AOL Travel News

    Alaska Airlines has agreed to reimburse a Canadian couple after they were bumped from a flight in an incident that started with a smelly diaper, and that the carrier calls "rare."

    Colleen Roberge and Dan Blais had just gotten married in Las Vegas and were on their way home to Edmonton, Alberta. But when they were about to board the plane their baby son had an explosive dirty diaper.

    Roberge tells CTV Edmonton she left the gate to change the baby's diaper, leaving her husband behind to explain the situation. But when she returned she was told her ticket had been given to another passenger on standby.

    The couple was not allowed to board the flight, and Roberge says a customer service agent even told her she should have boarded the plane before changing the soiled diaper.

    After being bumped, the couple was left with the option of spending up to two days on standby for another Alaska Airlines flight or paying about $1,000 for tickets home that day on another airline. The couple chose the latter, and got home on WestJet.

    The upset couple blogged about the incident, and Alaska Airlines left a comment explaining its stance. "Reservations are subject to cancellation if customers aren't ready at the gate within specified times," the carrier says. "If we accommodate people who arrive late, we risk arriving at the destination late."

    But the carrier now says it will pay for the couple's flight home.

    "It goes to show that one employee's actions doesn't always represent the whole company and it seems Alaska Airlines didn't thoroughly understand exactly what happened at the gate that day," Roberge and Blais say on their blog.

  • The Lucky One

    By Jenny Feldon, blog post at Pregnancy.com

    35 weeks. It seems almost impossible that this much time has gone by since I first saw that pink plus sign on a white plastic stick. Holiday decorations are already in store windows; by Christmas I could have a weeks-old infant cradled in my arms. Sometimes I look back and think “How did I get here? And how did it happen so fast?”

    Along with my rapidly approaching due date, there’s another date permanently engraved on my mind. A day on the calendar that was supposed to mark the same kind of joy for one of my dearest friends that my own due date promises for me. But that date is empty now, a blank spot where there used to be a big red exclamation point. Because I am the lucky one, the one who gets to keep her miracle. And my friend—an amazing woman, a phenomenal mother—is grieving not one, but two pregnancies she’s lost in the same 35 weeks I’ve been happily, uneventfully pregnant.

    It’s at her recommendation—and with her blessing—that I write this very difficult post. Miscarriage is a very common, very real part of many women’s journeys toward motherhood. I’m particularly inspired by Project Pregnancy blogger Lexi Walters Wright, whose beautifully written, brave posts remind me how incredibly fortunate I am—how fortunate every mom is—to have a healthy child growing up before my eyes, and even luckier to have rolled the dice and conceived a second time. But remembering how lucky I am is not enough to provide support to my friend, to help her through her grief without being a living, breathing reminder of her pain. What do you say when you desperately want to ease a friend’s pain—but can only make things worse?

    We met when our babies were just a few months old, and it was instant friend karma. Our daughters are less than two weeks apart, and we’ve tackled every challenge of new motherhood together, from breastfeeding to pureeing broccoli to those first trips down the big kid slide. We made stay-at-home mommyhood into an adventure, with coffee playdates, music classes and field trips to the aquarium. She has parented my daughter almost as much as I have; she is one of the reasons my long months with J out of town have been bearable.

    Around the same time, we decided it was time for #2. My friend had lost a pregnancy before her daughter C was born, and was considerably more cautious—and anxious—about the conception process than I was. Still, we bought ovulation sticks together, peed on pregnancy tests together, and looked at each other wide-eyed with shock and joy when we realized we’d both hit the jackpot—and were expecting our #2s just two days apart.

    I had complications early in this pregnancy I hadn’t experienced with E. Bleeding started around 6 weeks, and I would sit in the bathroom, terrified and alone, wondering what was happening. She was my sounding board, my reassuring voice. When she also started first trimester bleeding, I blithely assured her everything would be fine. Wasn’t she just being overly neurotic because she’d had a miscarriage before C? If she was allowed to reassure me, I was allowed to poo-poo her fears too. Or so I thought.

    Just before our 12-week milestones, my friend’s ultrasound showed no heartbeat. In an email more concerned with my feelings than her own, she broke the news, letting me know she and her husband were drowning their tears in sake and sushi, and were focused on being grateful for the gorgeous, smart toddler they had at home. They were optimistic about trying again. Typically brave, typically cheerful. Heartbreakingly honest.

    I cried for hours. Why her? Why not me? Suddenly, irrevocably, my joy and her pain were inextricably woven. And there was nothing I could say, no help or soothing words I could offer her, that could excuse the fact that I was still pregnant and she was not. I desperately wanted to trade places. At least if it were my pain, I could deal with it, be in control of it. But to watch someone so close to me suffer and not be able to a single thing to help—it was intolerable.

    Selfishly, I was grieving a little bit for me, too. I wanted to take this journey with one of my dearest friends. Everything was supposed to work out perfectly. I’d envisioned joint baby showers and shuffling down the hospital hallway with my IV pole to have the world’s first post-partum slumber party—just her, me, and our newborns. Our #2s should have had birthday parties together, gone to the DMV together to get their driver’s licenses. All those silly, selfish dreams were shattered. I wanted to be unequivocally elated and excited about the new life inside me. Instead I felt sad, lost, and so, so guilty.

    My friend is one of the strongest and bravest people I know. But no amount of bravery can take away her pain, and I hate that my own healthy pregnancy is a constant reminder of what she should have had—twice, now, since I conceived #2. Our conversations have become an elaborate dance, with her asking me about the pregnancy to prove she’s OK with it, and me trying everything to avoid the topic entirely so as not to cause her any more sorrow. If I could make my growing belly disappear in her presence, I would. I do my best to pretend there’s nothing more important going on in my life than preschool and potty training, because those subjects are things we can still share. But despite our best efforts, the chasm between us grows ever wider. It‘s the exact distance between the baby that is, and the baby that is no longer.

    Is there ever a right thing to say to a friend or loved one that has suffered this kind of loss? Can women who haven’t had fertility problems ever say the right thing to a woman who has? Even with the best of intentions, every word out of my mouth is potentially the most wrong thing I could say. I can’t understand what it feels like. I can’t make any of it better. And what I am doing—growing bigger and more pregnant by the minute—is, in some ways, the worst thing of all.

    I know how genuinely happy my friend is for me, and how much she hates that I feel guilty when I should be celebrating this upcoming new life. I believe with my whole heart that she will have another child, one as healthy and precocious and absolutely perfect as her sweet daughter C. She is an incredible friend, a loving wife, an amazing mother. She doesn’t deserve the sorrow she’s been dealt (who does?) but she’ll triumph anyway, because that’s who she is. She inspires me every day.

    And so do all the other women who have struggled with the pain and loss of infertility and miscarriage. To all of you out there who have suffered like my sweet friend: Is there anything us “lucky ones” can do, or say, to support you the way we so desperately want to? Or at the very least, minimize the damage our happily pregnant selves can inflict on still-raw wounds? Nothing can take away the pain of loss, and in many ways that chasm will always exist. But I’d love to hear advice on what to do, what not to say, and how to bridge the gap that inevitably grows between women whose paths have turned away from each other.

  • Jumbo Ultrasound Shows Zoo's Baby Elephant

    George the elephant now weighs 640 lbs. Pic: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

    George the elephant now weighs 640 lbs. Pic: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

    An incredible ultrasound image of a baby elephant in utero has been released by ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

    Incredibly his trunk is already visible.

    The Zoo used 3D ultrasound scanners to monitor the health and well-being of mum and baby.

    Now six months old, George weighs around 840 lbs and is part of the herd of Asian elephants at the Zoo in Dunstable.

    His keepers say he loves to play in the seven-acre paddock with his big sister Donna.

  • Why the health of pregnant women matters to us all

    By Annie Murphy Paul,author of "Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives."

    "Pregnant Is the New Sexy," read the T-shirt a friend gave me when I was a few weeks away from my due date. With my swollen ankles and waddling walk, I wasn't so sure - but it's hard to deny that pregnancy has become rather chic. Glossy magazines flaunt actresses' and models' rounded, half-clad bellies on their covers. Inside they chronicle celebrities' pregnancies in breathless detail, from the first "bump" sighting to the second-trimester weight gain to the baby-gear shopping spree. And now comes the news that "What to Expect When You're Expecting" - the advice bible that has sold more than 14 million copies - will be made into a feature film.

    There's something wrong with this picture. Even as Americans fuel a rapidly growing pregnancy industry of designer maternity jeans and artsy pregnancy portraits, we're ignoring the real news about these nine months. An emerging science known as the developmental origins of health and disease - DOHaD for short - is revealing that the conditions we encounter in the womb can have a lifelong impact on our health and well-being, affecting everything from our appetite and metabolism to our susceptibility to disease to our intelligence and temperament.

    The more we learn about these effects, the clearer it becomes that investing in maternal health would return larger and longer-lasting dividends than almost any other comparable public health investment. But as a nation, we're heading in exactly the opposite direction, spending more and more of our limited resources on the later stages of life instead of where they can make the most difference: at the very beginning.

    Take obesity. Many anti-obesity initiatives concentrate on changing adults' behavior, trying to persuade us to eat less and exercise more. But research shows that these efforts have limited effectiveness. A recent analysis of U.S. obesity-prevention campaigns, conducted by Olaf Werder of the University of New Mexico, concluded that their "overall impact on obesity has been negligible."

    Even public health programs aimed at school-age children come too late: Almost a third of American children over age 2are already overweight or obese, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Clearly, the conditions that contribute to obesity must begin exerting their influence very early in children's lives - as early as their time in the womb.

    DOHaD research shows that the intrauterine environment of a woman who is significantly overweight when she conceives - or who puts on excessive weight during pregnancy - affects the developing fetus in ways that make it more likely to become overweight itself one day. Scientists are still figuring out exactly why this happens, but it appears that prenatal experience may alter the functioning of organs such as the heart and the pancreas, may shift the proportion of lean and fat body mass, and may influence the brain circuits that regulate appetite and metabolism.

    In a cleverly designed study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2009, researchers compared children born to the same mothers before and after they'd had successful anti-obesity surgery. Children born after their mothers' surgery weighed less at birth and were three times less likely to become severely obese than their older brothers and sisters. Weight-loss surgery isn't for everyone, of course. Still, what if before conceiving, overweight women were routinely counseled by their doctors about the effects of their weight on future offspring? And what if women who were gaining weight too rapidly in pregnancy were offered more help in controlling it?

    The results might look something like those found in studies of diabetes treatment during pregnancy. Research shows that the children of diabetic women are more likely than others to develop diabetes - in one recent study, seven times more likely. Like obesity, diabetes has a strong genetic component, but scientists are also beginning to focus on the effects of a diabetic intrauterine environment. For example, a long-running study of the Pima Indians of Arizona, who have one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world, concluded that exposure to the disease while in the womb was responsible for about 40 percent of the diabetes cases studied.

    A pregnant woman's diabetes can also affect the odds that her child will become obese. In a study of almost 10,000 mother-child pairs, researchers from the Center for Health Research at Kaiser Permanente Northwest found that women who developed diabetes during pregnancy and were not treated had children who were twice as likely to become obese as the children of women without that illness. Pregnant women whose diabetes was treated with insulin, however, had children with no additional risk of obesity. Simply by controlling their mothers' blood sugar during pregnancy, in other words, the expected doubling of these children's obesity risk was completely reversed.

    Even the mental health of a pregnant woman can have a long-term impact on her offspring. A 2008 study by researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center in California found that women with even mild symptoms of depression are 60 percent more likely to deliver early than other women; those who are severely depressed have double the risk of premature birth. The babies of depressed women are also more likely to have low birth weight, to be irritable and to have trouble sleeping.

    Of course, these complications may come about in part because many depressed women don't take good care of themselves: They may eat poorly, smoke or drink alcohol, or fail to get prenatal care. But depression itself may shift the biochemical balance in a woman's body in a fateful manner. For one thing, the stress hormone cortisol, which is often elevated in people with depression, may cross the placenta, directly affecting fetal development, and it may also affect a pregnant woman's blood vessels, reducing the oxygen and nutrients that reach the fetus.

    The case seems pretty clear: We should make a nationwide effort to ensure that every obstetrician checks every pregnant patient's mental state, along with her weight and blood pressure. Women who show signs of depression should be offered therapy or, in cases that warrant it, carefully administered antidepressant medication.

    Adult behavior can be difficult to change, as we know from the general ineffectiveness of anti-obesity campaigns. But pregnant women are a special case: They're usually highly motivated, they're typically in regular contact with health-care providers, and they have to keep up their efforts for only nine months. Pregnancy therefore offers a singular opportunity to improve lives for decades to come, via interventions that cost little compared with the enormous price tags for obesity, diabetes, low birth weight and premature delivery.

    So why isn't this critical window one of our top health-care priorities?

    Part of the reason may simply be our preference for quick fixes and for dealing with only those problems that exist in the here and now. It can be hard to wrap our heads around the notion that a woman's diet or mental state today will have a serious effect on her children's health many years out. But there's a less obvious reason that resistance to maternal health initiatives might crop up among the liberal-leaning individuals who typically support public health initiatives and women's health-care issues: abortion politics.

    Caring for the fetus, protecting the fetus from harm - to abortion rights advocates, such measures sound like the steps antiabortion forces have taken to try to establish a fetus's rights. What's the difference between controlling a diabetic pregnant woman's blood sugar and, say, charging a pregnant woman who uses drugs with child abuse? Between telling an obese pregnant woman that her weight may predispose her child to obesity and requiring a woman to look at an ultrasound of her fetus before proceeding with an abortion?

    The crucial difference lies in the intent behind the intervention and in the way it's carried out. Help in achieving a healthy pregnancy must be offered to pregnant women, not forced upon them. And the aim behind such efforts must be to foster the health and well-being of the woman and her fetus, not to score political points.

    Ultimately, research on the developmental origins of health and disease should lead us to a new perspective on pregnancy, one that's not about coercing or controlling women - nor about ogling or fetishizing them - but about helping them, and their future children, be as healthy and as happy as they can be.

  • Painkillers in Pregnancy Linked to Male Infertility

    Study Suggests Even Tylenol During Pregnancy May Affect Male Testes

    By Daniel J. DeNoon of WebMD Health News

    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    Common over-the-counter painkillers taken during pregnancy may be to blame for a global rise in male infertility.

    Even acetaminophen (Tylenol) may put a developing boy's future reproductive health at risk, suggest findings from a study of some 2,300 Danish and Finnish women by Henrik Leffers, MD, PhD, of Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues.

    The researchers suggest that acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, and other NSAID painkillers act as hormonal "endocrine disruptors" and interfere with normal male sexual development. Chemicals in the environment, such as phthalates, act as endocrine disruptors and have in the past been blamed for harmful effects on human sexual development.

    "A single [acetaminophen] tablet (500 milligrams) contains more endocrine disruptor potency than the combined exposure to the ten most prevalent of the currently known environmental endocrine disruptors during the whole pregnancy," Leffers says in a news release.

    Despite the strong language, the researchers note that their findings are based on a small number of boys whose testicles were late to descend -- a risk factor for poor future semen quality. While they note that more study is needed, they stress the urgency of such studies.

    "Although we should be cautious about any over-extrapolation or overstatement ... the use of these compounds is, at present, the best suggestion for an exposure that can affect a large proportion of the human population," Leffers says.

    The Leffers study is based on questionnaires from the mothers of 834 Danish boys and 1,463 Finnish boys, and on interviews with the mothers of 491Danish boys (285 of whom also were among those who filled out the questionnaires). All of the boys were examined for signs of undescended testicles (congenital cryptorchidism).

    In the end, the researchers identified only 42 boys with signs of undescended testicles. Over 64% of these boys were born to mothers who took painkillers during pregnancy.

    Women who took more than one kind of mild painkiller were more than seven times more likely to have a boy with signs of undescended testicles.

    It appeared that painkillers taken during the second trimester of pregnancy were particularly risky -- increasing risk of congenital cryptorchidism by 2.3-fold.

    Nevertheless, these risks are based on very small numbers of affected boys. The vast majority of boys born to women who reported painkiller use did not have any sign of undescended testicles.

    Leffers and colleagues will continue to follow up on the boys through sexual maturity.

    Leffers' team also performed rat studies showing that acetaminophen and NSAID painkillers can affect sexual maturation.

    The Leffers study appears in the advance online edition of the journal Human Reproduction.

  • 10 quirky facts about kissing

    By Laura Schaefer, author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time.

    Think you know a thing or two about kissing? You probably do. But the facts below are so off the beaten path, we’ll bet you don’t know them all — and they could come in handy. Not only could they provide some steamy “Did you know…?” small talk, but they’ll help you see all the benefits a satisfying liplock can bring into your life. Happy smooching!

    1. Two out of every three couples turn their heads to the right when they kiss.

    2. A simple peck uses two muscles; a passionate kiss, on the other hand, uses all 34 muscles in your face. Now that’s a rigorous workout!

    3. Like fingerprints or snowflakes, no two lip impressions are alike.

    4. Kissing is good for what ails you. Research shows that the act of smooching improves our skin, helps circulation, prevents tooth decay, and can even relieve headaches.

    5. The average person spends 336 hours of his or her life kissing.

    6. Ever wonder how an “X” came to represent a kiss? Starting in the Middle Ages, people who could not read used an X as a signature. They would kiss this mark as a sign of sincerity. Eventually, the X came to represent the kiss itself.

    7. Talk about a rush! Kissing releases the same neurotransmitters in our brains as parachuting, bungee jumping, and running.

    8. The average woman kisses 29 men before she gets married.

    9. Men who kiss their partners before leaving for work average higher incomes than those who don’t.

    10. The longest kiss in movie history was between Jane Wyman and Regis Tommey in the 1941 film, You’re in the Army Now. It lasted 3 minutes and 5 seconds. So if you’ve beaten that record, it’s time to celebrate!

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