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Pregnancy Health

  • Oreos are More Addictive than Drugs

    Did you ever find yourself opening a new package of Oreo Cookies just to find that you simply could not stop eatting them? One to two Oreos turned into 5-6 and then some and the desire to eat more just increased? Well turns out you are not alone and it turns out there is good scientific data out there to explain why.

    A new study by students at Connecticut College found that when rats ate Oreo cookies they activiated more neurons in the rats’ brain (in their pleasure centers) than hard addictive drugs such as cocaine or morphine.

    Neuroscience Professor Joseph Schroeder said in in a school press release, “Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do.” He continued, “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”

    Jamie Honohun, the student behind the research, said she was interested in exploring how foods with high fat and sugar content contritube to obesity that in prevalent in low-income communities. She concluded that the risk was higher because of there low price point.

    “Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat/high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability, said Jamie Honohun.

    I’m sure if they did a study on pregnant rats, they would probably find an even higher correlation to addiction to sugar cravings as many pregnant women do once they get past the throws of morning sickness.

    On a more comical note, the study did find that the Oreo lab rats would break open the cookie and “eat the middle first” much like we do.

  • Stay Away from BPA during Pregnancy

    As if we don’t have enough to be worried about during pregnancy, we now have new research to reinforce a suspected health danger, BPA. In pregnancy, exposure to high levels of the BPA chemical may increase risk of miscarriage based on findings from a recent study from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

    This study found that pregnant women who had the highest levels of bisphenol A, or BPA, in their blood were more likely to miscarry (by 80%) than pregnant women with low levels of BPA.

    BPA is commonly used in food packaging and it also used to line cans to prevent corrosion. Even more concerning it is found in plastic baby bottles as well as tableware and food storage containers.

    Researchers refer to BPA as a “hormone disrupting chemical” which links to reproductive problems including obesity, diabetes and neurodevelopmental delays. All the more reason to be more cautious with your exposure to BPA during pregnancy.

    The BPA chemical is currently banned in Canada and the European Union. The United States banned it from baby bottles and sippy cups last July 2010 but has rejected ban of the chemical altogether.

    Small levels of exposure to BPA are reported to be safe and the study has not confirmed causality of BPA exposure to miscarriage as there may be other risk factors involved. However the findings are convincing enough that pregnant women should be extra vigilant about BPA exposure.

    To be on the safe side, parents should discard plastic bottles and sippy cups acquired earlier than July 2012 as they were made before the BPA ban on these products. Be sure to throw out plastic bottles that have scratches as they may contain bacteria which increases the release of BPA. Also, limit your children’s exposure to BPA products including the plastic food storage containers with BPA that are used for children’s meals.

  • Is Seafood Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?

    Once you’re pregnant, everything you do in your life that affects your health needs to be examined closer to ensure the healthy development of your baby. Nutritional needs top the charts with increased attention to your diet which may be further complicated by morning sickness which, for some women, can last the entire nine months of pregnancy.

    It comes as no surprise that lean protein is an optimal source of nutrition for anyone’s diet, but especially an expecting mom. In terms of calories per portion, seafood such as fish, particularly of the salmon variety which packs in those important fatty acids with low calories per portion can be a great choice. However, many pregnant women steer clear from seafood altogether with all the news we hear about mercury levels being dangerously high and a risk for the health of a developing fetus.

    While some seafood may be best to avoid during pregnancy, it is not a great idea to cut out seafood altogether as they contain many nutrients that are vital to our baby’s health and development. As the saying goes don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. In the same notion don’t throw all the fish out of your diet with the worries of mercury and contamination, but do choose wisely. There are plenty of great seafood choices that are very beneficial to our developing fetus' health as well as our own.

    For starters, omega-3 fatty acids aid in brain development and provide high levels of lean protein. Fish can serve as a powerful weapon against birth defects when choosing the low mercury varieties such as salmon, sardines, haddock and cod. Seafood which is high in mercury which you should avoid during pregnancy include shark, king mackerel, swordfish and tilefish. In moderation, tuna is not a problem as long as you avoid the albacore and blufin varieties and limit your consumption to a few servings a month.

    It is also a good idea to steer clear of fish caught in contaminated lakes or rivers that can carry high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs which could travel to the placenta and affect the development of the fetus. So do be cautious when eating fish from local lakes and rivers.

    Raw shellfish and uncooked sushi are also seafood choices you should postpone during pregnancy. Also, make sure that cooked mussels, clams and oysters are actually cooked all the way through so that salmonella is not a threat. Pathogens such as salmonella are destroyed through cooking, otherwise they can cause severe food poisoning in pregnancy and may cross the placenta to the fetus as well.

    It is easy to be overwhelmed with all the mercury and food poisoning cautions and simply avoid seafood altogether during pregnancy, but this would be a disservice to your developing baby and yourself as there are so many benefits to safe seafood choices, such as salmon for dinner. Seafood during pregnancy can be a very healthy choice, just choose wisely and space out your seafood meals and portion sizes for moderation.

  • More Dangers To Smoking During Pregnancy

    If you were looking for new inspiration for better health habits during pregnancy, the latest research on smoking during pregnancy should give you plenty of motivation to quit that habit fast. A new study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry Oct 1st suggests there is an association between tobacco smoke exposure in the womb and bipolor disorder in those offspring once they are young adults.

    Researchers looked at 79 people with bipolor disorder and 654 people without the condition who were born between 1959 and 1966. People born to mothers who smoked while pregnant had twice the risk of developing bipolor disorder as young adults. Bipolor disorder is a mental illness which causes extreme mood swings. It’s symptoms are not usually noticeable until late teens to early adulthood.

    This is the first study to show this connection between smoking and mental illness. Earlier studies did show that smoking contributed to other health concerns in newborns and children including low birth weight and attention problems.

    We all know that smoking is bad for our health and bad for our babies health both inside and outside of the womb. We now know that it is also a concern for a child’s mental health as they mature into adulthood and beyond.

  • Sucking Your Child’s Pacifier Is Not A Bad Thing!

    Most parents have done this on the sly, but now you can do it openly, go ahead and suck that baby pacifier that fell to the ground before popping back into your baby’s mouth. Most feel guilty for not boiling the pacifer or trashing it. However, that parental instinct to just use your own spit is really the best thing you can do for your baby . A new study tells us that this practice will actually help reduce your baby’s chance of allergies later on.

    “It’s really an interesting study, because it supports the theory of the hygiene hypothesis,” said Dr. Samuel Friedlander, an allergy specialist at University Hospital in Cleveland. “It’s a theory that state that our world is too clean. The immune system is like an army, and if the army doesn’t have anything to fight – like germs – it fights allergens.”

    The study showed that toddlers were less likely to develop eczema and asthma if their parents were shared by their parent as the saliva on pacifiers appeared to help promote a bacterial diversity and stimulate the child’s immune system. In the same way, babies delivered vaginally benefitted from increased exposure to bacteria in the birth canal as newborns.

    Of course there are times when this practice can be detrimental to a child’s health, such as when a parent is sick, has a virus or cold sores. However for the healthy parent it appears sharing a little saliva on a pacifier or utensil may be helpful to your child’s immune system.

  • Breastfeeding Can Extend Your Life (New Research!)

    If you are wondering where to stand on the breastfeeding v. formula debate, some new research may make that decision a little clearer.

    A mass study published that past Wednesday in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that exclusively breastfeeding your baby for at least six months could cut your chance of dying from cancer and all other diseases by 17%. This includes an 8% reduction in dying by heart disease alone.

    Previous studies on breastfeeding have primarily looked at the affect on the baby or the short term health benefits to the mother, such as weight loss.

    "No previous study has investigated the association between breastfeeding and mortality in the mother," lead researcher Anne-Claire Vergnaud said. She added that "failure to breastfeed" related to an increase in premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and diabetes.

    The study also confirmed previous findings on health benefits to the baby from breastfeeding including less likelihood of adult obesity or even being overweight, which reduces risk for seven different types of cancer as well as diabetes.

    AICR Director of Research, Susan Higginbotham explains the connection between breastfeeding and longevity, "Physical changes in breast tissue that accompany milk production provide some protection as well." Since breast tissue cells are shed during lactation, the cancer risk is decreased. She adds, "Because cells have potential DNA damage get shed before they can spark the cancer process." Also, longer breastfeeding helps by reducing menstrual cycles and the lifetime exposure to hormones such as estrogen that can increase the risk of breast cancer.

    Only 16% of US women exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months and 36% breastfeed exclusively for three months, so many American women are clearly missing the health benefits for themselves and their babies that exclusive breastfeeding has to offer. 47% of women in the U.S. breastfeed the first six months while also supplementing with formula.

    Clearly the breast is best not only for your baby and for helping with your pregnancy weight loss, but also for your long-term health, reduced chance of cancer and overall longevity. That’s a powerful reason to breastfeed your baby!

  • Eat Your Protein When You Are Pregnant Or Nursing!

    We all know that foods Salmon that are packed with Omega 3s fatty Acids are a go-to for women of all ages. Salmon has the added benefit of mood stabilizing your hormones by boosting your serotonin levels in your brain which helps you to feel-good. Higher levels of this naturally occurring feel-good chemical can help ward off depression or baby blues. Salmon is easy to make and throw on a salad for a great and healthy left-over meal. Health experts recommend having salmon at least once a week for optimal benefits.

    What you might not know is that high protein foods like eggs and spinach are really important for you if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The Institute of Medicine recommends eating 425 mg of choline for all women, 450 mg if you are pregnant and 550 if you are breastfeeding. Both spinach and eggs with the yolk contain choline which is a nutrient that helps your baby’s brain develop.

    Spinach has the added nutritional benefit of folate which helps prevent birth defects. The National Institute of Health recommends women eat 600 mcg of folate when pregnant and 500 mcg when nursing. One half cup of spinach, or similar green, provides about 130 mcg of folate, so about one-third of what you need. You can make up the difference by taking a supplement recommended by your doctor. However, just cooking a daily spinach omelet can give you and your baby the nutritional boost you need each morning.

  • Looking For A Tasty Way To Add Vitamin D To Your Diet?

    New research has found that it is very important for pregnant women to get enough Vitamin D for their infant’s healthy development. When pregnant we need more than the recommended 200 milligrams supplement of Vitamin D.

    This quick and tasty omelet dish from Fit Pregnancy is an easy way to add both Vitamin D and protein to your healthy diet. Among the many great things that Vitamin D will do for your body it will also help your baby absorb bone building calcium and phosphorous.

    1⁄2 cup baby bok choy, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces

    1⁄2 cup mushrooms (any variety), wiped clean and sliced

    1 teaspoon sesame or other cooking oil

    2 eggs

    2 ounces canned cooked baby shrimp

    1. In a small pan, sauté bok choy and mushrooms in 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil for 2 to 4 minutes.

    2. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork.

    3. Preheat an 8-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Coat with a few spritzes of cooking spray.

    4. Add egg mixture and swirl around until pan is evenly coated.

    5. When eggs begin to set slightly, run spatula under cooked egg and tip pan to allow the uncooked egg to flow underneath. Keep doing this all the way around until center is set, about 2 minutes.

    6. Top half of the eggs with mushroom mixture and shrimp, then fold in half using the spatula. Cover and cook over low heat until omelet fluffs up, 30 to 40 seconds. Carefully slide omelet onto plate.

    Nutritional information per serving

    Per serving: 256 calories, 26 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate, 15.5 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 181 mg calcium, 3.6 mg iron, 88 mcg folate, 1 g fiber

  • Antidepressants Are Safe During Pregnancy, New Study Results

    We have all heard about the Baby Blues and the more serious Post Partum Depression, but many times depression during pregnancy goes untreated and under the radar. Depression anytime can be serious matter, but new research now shows that it is very important, and not harmful, for depressed expecting mothers to get treatment.

    Previous research showed that pregnant women who took SSRI antidepressants gave birth to smaller babies with hindered physical development. New research at Northwestern University showed that babies born to mothers who took SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy were the same height, weight and head circumference by the first year. The only different was infants were slightly shorter at birth, but the babies usually caught up to normal size in a few weeks.

    Untreated depressed mothers are at risk for their appetite, nutrition, prenatal care and increased alcohol and drug use. Depression in mothers is also associated with premature birth and low infant birth rate, which increases the baby’s risk of heart disease.

    The good news from this study is that pregnant women should not hesitate in seeking healthcare professionals to treat their depression and that antidepressants do not appear to pose the health risks once believed on developing infants.

  • 6 Tips For A Healthy Pregnancy

    1. Eat five or six well-balanced meals each day. This does not mean ice cream and chocolate all day, but healthy choices that don’t give you morning sickness. It’s actually recommended that you don’t let yourself go too long between meals to lesson morning sickness that can get worse on an empty stomach.

    2. Drink plenty of fluids -- at least eight to 10 glasses a day -- avoiding caffeine and artificial coloring.

    3. Don't drink alcohol or smoke (or expose yourself to second hand smoke)

    4. Exercise -- it's important to keep moving during pregnancy, just remember to use judgment in choosing your exercise and exertion level. Wear loose fitting comfortable clothing, avoid overheating, take plenty of breaks and stay hydrated. Exercise can help you sleep better and reduce stress.

    5. Wear comfortable, non-restricting shoes, particularly as you enter your third trimester and feet can accumulate fluid. Prop your feet up several times a day to reduce any swelling of the feet, legs, and ankles.

    6. Don't take over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies without first consulting your obstetrician or midwife.

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