Morning Sickness: On the Job All Day Long

Mr. Dad: My girlfriend is about a month pregnant—her second baby but my first. I’m concerned because she’s nauseated and vomiting all day long. She calls it “morning sickness” and says she had the same thing with her first baby and that it’s normal. But doesn’t the name imply that the problems should be limited to the morning? Either way, what can I do to help?

A: Given that your girlfriend has been through this before and says it’s normal, take her word for it. As the pregnancy develops you’ll have plenty of other things to worry about, so let this one go.

The name “morning sickness” is a little catchier—but less accurate—than “all day long sickness,. As you’ve noticed, the heartburn, queasiness and throwing up are by no means limited to the actual morning. Between half and 85% of pregnant women get morning sickness but no one’s quite sure what causes it. Some researchers believe that it’s the pregnant woman’s reaction to changing hormone levels, in particular human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced by the placenta and is the same stuff that’s picked up by home pregnancy kits. Many women with morning sickness also have food aversions, especially to eggs, fish, meat, and poultry—all of which can go bad quickly and may carry disease. That has led a number of researchers, including Samuel Flaxman, Margie Profet, and Paul Sherman to speculate that morning sickness is the body’s way of protecting the baby-to-be from food-borne substances that could cause a miscarriage or birth defects.

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Pregnant Athletes + Hilarious Lessons in Parenting

Brandi Dion and Steven Dion, coauthors of The Pregnant Athlete.
How to stay in your best shape ever before, during, and after pregnancy.
Issues: How to gauge your limits as your pregnancy progresses; eating well to support pregnancy and fuel your workouts; common myths and misconceptions about pregnancy; finding the best workout for you.

Johanna Stein, author of How Not to Calm a Baby on a Plane.
Hilarious, real-life lessons in parenting.
Issues: Going to war against the color pink; calming your child on a plane with a barfbag puppet–that someone else had used; your first emergency room visit; the most embarrassing and satisfying moments of parenthood; why to never play a practical joke in a hospital delivery room.

Overcoming Infertility + Fighting Stereotypes of Girlhood

Jennifer Hanin, author of What to Do When You Can’t Get Pregnant.
Options for couples facing fertility issues.
Issues: Advances in natural products for women; new supplements, medications, and treatment protocols; the latest in egg freezing, vitrification, gender selection, and genetic testing.

Melissa Atkins Wardy, author of Redefining Girly.
Topic: How parents can fight the stereotyping and sexualizing of girlhood
Issues: How to redefine girly in your home; getting friends and family on board; navigating kids’ play; how to avoid stereotyping girls and boys; saying no to sexed-up toys and too-sexy-too-soon parties.

American Academy of Pediatrics Advises Pregnant Women and Children Not to Consume Raw Milk Products

Raw milk and milk products from cows, goats, and sheep can transmit life-threatening bacterial infections, yet sales are still legal in at least 30 states. In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises pregnant women, infants and children to consume only pasteurized milk, cheese and other milk products, and supports a ban on the sale of raw milk in the U.S.

The policy statement, “Consumption of Raw or Unpasteurized Milk and Milk Products by Pregnant Women and Children,” published in the January 2014 Pediatrics (released online Dec. 16), reviews evidence of the risks of consuming unpasteurized milk and milk products in the U.S., especially among pregnant women, infants, and children.

“Given the progress we have made in prevention, there is no reason to risk consuming raw milk in this day and age,” said Jatinder Bhatia, MD, FAAP, a co-author of the policy statement. “Consumption of raw milk products is especially risky for pregnant women, infants, immunocompromised individuals, and the elderly, and the evidence overwhelmingly establishes the benefits of pasteurization on food safety.”

Efforts to limit the sale of raw milk products have been opposed by people who claim there are health benefits from natural factors in milk that are inactivated by pasteurization. However, the benefits of these natural elements have not been clearly demonstrated in scientific research. Numerous data show pasteurized milk provides the same nutritional benefits as raw milk, without the risk of deadly infections including Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Brucella and E. coli.

“Consumption of raw milk or milk products can result in severe and life-threatening illnesses such as miscarriage and stillbirths in pregnant women, and meningitis and blood-borne infections in both young infants and pregnant women,” said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, FAAP, the lead author of the policy statement. “Before pasteurization of milk began in the United States in the 1920s, consumption of raw dairy products accounted for a significant proportion of foodborne illnesses among Americans, and resulted in hundreds of outbreaks of tuberculosis and other serious infections.”

Today, an estimated 1 percent to 3 percent of all dairy products consumed in the U.S. are not pasteurized. From 1998 to 2009, consumption of raw milk products in the U.S. resulted in 1,837 illnesses, 195 hospitalizations, 93 illness outbreaks, and two deaths. The risks involved with infections due to consuming raw milk are particularly high for pregnant women and their fetuses, as well as for young children.

“Raw milk poses a significant health risk, since the process of obtaining fresh milk from cows and goats can be fraught with risks of contamination both while milking the animals and during storage,” said Mary Glodé, MD, FAAP, a co-author of the policy statement. “Pasteurized milk and milk products are extraordinarily healthy, nutritious and safe for children. We are fortunate to have pasteurized products easily available for our entire population.”

The AAP supports the position of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other national and international associations in endorsing the consumption of only pasteurized milk and milk products for pregnant women, infants, and children. The AAP also endorses a ban on the sale of raw or unpasteurized milk or milk products in the U.S., including certain raw milk cheeses. Pediatricians are encouraged to advocate for more restrictive laws regarding the sale and distribution of raw milk and raw dairy products.

Pregnant? No Need to Panic. Really

pregnancy myths

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m pregnant and it seems that the more my husband and I read, the more confusing the whole thing gets. One “expert” says that I should stay away from any alcohol. Another says it’s okay. One says sushi could be deadly, someone else says it’s not. One says I should be careful not to put on too much weight, while another says it’s more dangerous to put on too little. And this goes on and on. Do you have any suggestions for how to filter out the myths from reality?

A: The amount of pregnancy-related information out there is staggering. And, as you’ve discovered, everyone seems to have an opinion on what’s good, bad, healthy, or dangerous. Unfortunately, as you’ve also discovered, it’s really hard to figure out who’s right and who’s completely full of it. Fortunately, there are a few resources that can help.
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Wondering Why Asthma Rates Are So High? Might Be Your Grandma’s Fault

Ever heard of epigenetics? If not, don’t worry–most people haven’t. Broadly speaking, the field of epigenetics maintains that something that happens to you during your lifespan might be passed on to your offspring–and, more importantly, to your grandkids. [Read more…]