I haven’t written much here about pregnancy and childbirth, mostly because it is not something I’ve had experience with. However, it is obviously a women’s health issue, so here is a summary of the topic from the past few months.
Pregnancy and Diet
The International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that eating too much fish during pregnancy is dangerous because of the mercury levels. This isn’t new, but this most recent study was in women in Taiwan. Methylmercury – the form of mercury usually found in fish – can pass through the placenta and then to the fetus. Fish with higher levels of mercury like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish and are not recommended for pregnant women according to the FDA. Tilapia and shrimp has lower levels of mercury and are safer.
Diabetes and Pregnancy
The November issue of the Journal of Pediatrics includes research showing that babies whose mothers had diabetes while pregnant and needed to be treated with insulin had immature sucking abilities, possibly due to a less mature nervous system, than women whose diabetes was managed with diet.
Increasing levels of hemoglobin A1C early in pregnancy is associated with a poor outcome, although it was not as useful to predict the outcome of any individual pregnancy. The American Diabetes Association recommends the level of A1C to be 7.0 or lower. Research was in the journal Diabetes Care.
Many women of Mexican descent tend to have babies with high infant birth weights. This can be explained in part by the weight of the mother before and during pregnancy. This weight gain is sometimes associated with blood sugar levels that are excessive and abnormal according to the American Journal of Public Health.
On the other hand, a paper published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology indicates that women with a BMI less than 18.5 before pregnancy have a 72% higher chance of having a first trimester miscarriage. A higher intake of fresh fruits and vegetables can help as can taking vitamins especially those with folic acid or iron. Women in the study who had morning sickness were nearly 70% less likely to have a miscarriage.
Related to the above stories an article in Diabetes Care presents evidence that women who have given birth to 5 or more kids have a greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes later in life. The study looked at data from 7000 African-American and Caucasian women. It is not known if the effect is due to biology or lifestyle, but is independent from obesity and socioeconomic status.
Women with type 1 diabetes that keep their blood sugar under control have a lower chance of developing preeclampsia – published in BJOG.
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