Tag Archive for 'baby health'

Folic Acid during Pregnancy may reduce Baby’s risk of Autism

Most of us have received the news flash that we should take our prenatal vitamins and in particular we should take our folic acid when we are pregnant. Folic acid is an important vitamin for helping prevent neural tube defects in babies. However, did you know that it may help reduce autism?

Now this is even more relatable a reason for most of us as autism is almost always in the news, seemingly on the rise or at least on the rise in terms of diagnosis and is surrounded by a shroud of mystery and debate over how a child can get it or be born with it.

A new study in Norway found a very strong correlation between a reduction in autism and women who took folic acid supplements four weeks before their pregnancy and through at least the 8th week of their pregnancy. Women who took Folic Acid daily during this time period saw a 40% reduction in autism in their children (when they were tested about 8 years later) as compared to the children of the pregnant women in the group who did not take folic acid for this time period. This is a huge reduction in autism!

Apparently timing does matter. The earlier you can start supplementing with folic acid prior to conception, the better. The study found that in terms of autism risk that the folic acid supplements did not seem to have any impact beyond the 22nd week of pregnancy. The crucial time interval was from four weeks before conception to eight weeks into the pregnancy.

Of course it does not hurt to continue on with folic acid throughout your pregnancy and who knows, maybe there’s further benefits or risk reductions that are yet to be uncovered from continuing with folic acid beyond the first trimester. However, what researchers have uncovered so far is enough evidence to start any woman even thinking about having a baby to be popping a folic acid supplement right away.

So what is folic acid? It is the B vitamin that helps with the construction and repair of DNA molecules which is the genetic code that controls all of the body’s cells, including the brain cells. It is especially important to take it early in pregnancy during the development of the baby’s spine and nervous system to prevent neural tube defects, including spina bifida. Doctors typically recommend that all women who are planning on getting pregnant to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily from a multivitamin and continue taking this amount throughout their early pregnancy.

Now with 1 out of 88 children diagnosed with autism we hope that this research will help us reduce the risk of childhood autism and increase awareness of our ability to potentially prevent this disability by supplementing with Folic Acid early in our pregnancy and even before. Knowledge is power so let’s empower ourselves and those we know with this scientific knowledge and preventative health measure of supplementing daily with Folic Acid if we are pregnant or hope to become pregnant. It’s an easy lifestyle adder that can reap benefits in our child’s health and well-being for a lifetime.

Our Breast Milk is Smarter than We Thought

Just when we think we know everything healthy and nutritious and miraculous there is to know about breastfeeding and our baby’s health, we find out something new. A new study just uncovered even more amazing news about the mother’s body, it’s uncanny knowledge and ability to know our baby’s gender and produce customized milk for our baby girl or baby boy. (We already know it produced milk for the exact age of our child, be it premature or full-term, or a toddler a year or more after birth if we still nurse).

Interestingly, a common theme in humans, monkeys and other mammals is that there are a variety of differences in the quantity and type of milk that is produced for our babies depending on their gender. Baby boys tend to get richer or denser milk which has more fat and protein in it, providing them with more energy while baby girls tend to get milk that is produced in greater quantities. (Didn’t we always say baby boys were pumped full of adrenaline and our baby girls calmly nursed forever?)

Last Friday this research was shared at the Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting. Although it is not clear why human mothers produce such different milk for their girl or boy babies, there is evidence that this customized milk is developed while the baby is still in utero. This does give mothers more reason to try and breastfeed our baby with our individualized formula which our body intelligently produces for our child.

“Mothers are producing different biological recipes for sons and daughters,” said Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University.

“While the food aspects of milk to some extent are replicated in formula, the immuno factors and medicine of milk are not and the hormonal signals are not,” Hende said.

As new research continues to uncover more interesting facts about mother’s breast milk, it is clear that breastfeeding is the optimal food choice for our baby. As we continue to learn more about our body’s ability to produce the ideal milk formula for our infant, we are encouraged about how this new scientific knowledge can also help other infants who are in need of specialized breast milk and who cannot get it from their mothers.

“Getting a better understanding of how milk is personalized for specific infants will also help hospitals find better matches for breast milk donated to help nourish sick and premature infants in neo natal units”, added Hinde.

It’s powerful knowledge to know that you are your baby’s best nutrition source and you are your baby’s perfect biological match, not only for giving birth but for continuing to feed, nourish and nurture your unique child.

If you are having trouble nursing, do not hesitate to ask for help. You can contact a lactation consultant or even a mother’s support group like La Leche League in your area to find the support that you need to help you nurse your baby successfully.

Selfies of Uber-fit Moms who show off bodies after Birth are Selfish

Personally I am tired of these moms coming out of anonymity to show off post baby ultra-fit bodies by posting selfies on Facebook while scantily clad to put the rest of us normal people to shame. Really, is there not any decorum and decency left? Of course I say “good to you” if you can find the time, means and let’s not kid ourselves, genes, to drop all your baby weight in mere days after giving birth and reveal something like a set of six pack abs. But in my opinion these photos reveal more about vanity than muscles.

However it does give me pause to wonder if they are forgetting about the baby or were more focused on their own body weight than a healthy pregnancy. If you are nursing postpartum, which is a fulltime job in itself, you should be consuming an additional 500 calories a day for a total of approximately 2500 calories a day to support milk production.

Many nursing women find that over time nursing does help them burn off a lot of the baby weight while continuing to eat a healthy 2500 calorie a day diet, particularly as the baby gets older and eats more. Personally I think nursing fulltime should be redefined as something of a contact or endurance sport as it does take a high level of skill, patience, strategy, quick reaction time and limitless energy to get it right. Of course the long-term benefits to your baby and to your own health are infinite and priceless (and yes it does save you money). However, any sort of weight drop from nursing is usually gradual and generally does not kick in for several months as the early day and weeks postpartum are really about revving up your milk supply and learning how to feed your baby successfully (and around the clock while trying to steal catnaps whenever possible and feel vaguely human).

So my message to the exhibitionists who are looking for instant fame and recognition through a viral Instagram or u-tube videos for their abnormal postpartum weight loss is, please keep it to yourself or between you and your husband. We may gawk at your photo and send encouraging messages, but really you are shaming the rest of us normal people with actual human bodies that do not react like yours.

Redirect the focus to your postpartum health and that of our baby and less on vanity. These early days with your new baby are a precious bonding experience which can set the tone for your relationship with your child for life. Savor them, expect them to be heartwarming as well as challenging steeped in sleep deprivation. Be sure to rely upon the kindness of friends and family who offer to help and cook a meal or watch the baby while you take a break or rest.

Remember to give yourself a pat on the back for successfully bearing a child, managing your life and body through 9 months of pregnancy and having the guts to care for a newborn who does not always follow an instruction manual and seeking to make that new baby a priority in your life in the days, months and years to come. That’s the important stuff, six pack abs can wait.

Exercise During Pregnacy to Make your Baby Smart!

As Holiday Season approaches many of us find ourselves munching on more cookies, eating more pie and indulging in bigger meals. It’s easy to do as the weather is cooler and you may be surrounded by friends and family and lots of yummy goodies. Although pregnancy is not a time to diet, it is perfectly ok and even recommended to exercise, especially when you need to offset some extra helpings of stuffing or pumpkin pie.

Not only is exercise good for maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight, it’s also good for your brain, nerves and self-esteem. More recently researchers are uncovering new benefits of exercise to the developing fetus. Two studies presented a few weeks ago at the Society of Neuroscience suggest that exercise during pregnancy gives unborn children a neurological advantage with “more mature and effective brain patterns.” Dave Ellemberg, a neuroscientists at the University of Montreal says active moms can give their kids “a kickstart even before they are born.” He continues, “What we found is that there’s this amazing transfer from what the mother does onto her child.”

What better motivation is there to exercise since not only are you improving your own body and mind during pregnancy but that of your unborn child’s at the same time. Another recent study performed at Dartmouth University found similar results with the potential for exercise to leave “long-lasting effects on the behavior and cognitive function of the offspring.”

Even as little as thirty minutes a day of moderate exercise can help with weight gain, mood and prepare mothers for labor, says Laura Riley, Director of labor and delivery and obstetrics and gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital. She continues, that pregnant women who exercise are more mobile throughout their pregnancy and report less aches and pains during pregnancy.

How much you exercise and the type of exercise you choose to do should depend on your fitness level. In general it is recommended that women should continue the exercise they already do and just adjust the level to their weight and abilities as the pregnancy progresses. Even just walking will do wonders for your body and your baby.

There are obvious safety precautions such as staying clear of contact sports or those that require advanced coordination, such as biking (maybe consider a stationary bike). Also steer clear of exercise that involves flat on the back positions that can cause back strain or cut off the blood flow. Also you should not do abdominal work since those muscles are stretched to support your baby.

Most importantly stay in tune with your body and take more frequent breaks. Also, be sure to hydrate more often as your body will need more liquids when you are pregnant. Finally be sure to be in close communication with your doctor on all exercise you pursue to make sure it is recommended and safe.

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.