We all know that cigarette smoking is a health hazard. In pregnancy, smoking spreads that hazard to the baby as well as the mom. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) provides us with the following information:
It is reported that 10% of women smoke during the last 3 months of pregnancy
50% of women who smoke before a pregnancy will quit during the pregnancy
50% of women who stopped smoking during a pregnancy will go back to smoking after their baby is born
Smoking increases the difficulty to become pregnant
Smoking increases the risk of spontaneous miscarriages
Smoking also increases the risk of a premature birth
This action increases nicotine and decreases oxygen to the developing fetus
The baby’s placenta may not work as well in mothers who smoke
Smoking increases the risk of certain birth defects, including cleft lip and cleft palate
If you smoke, please try to stop for your health and the health of your baby.
…..The business associated with the use of probiotics is huge around the world. It promises to use live and good bacteria to decrease/replace the bad bacteria that can build up in the colon. Probiotics are live bacteria that are mostly found in foods and supplements. They have the potential to provide beneficial health effects for the person ingesting the bacteria.
…..The human gastrointestinal tract, especially the colon, is populated by a large amount and assortment of bacteria, called the intestinal flora. This flora develops over the first two years of life and evolves over time based on health, diet, genetics, and many other factors. This good natural bacteria and added probiotics seem to work in a variety of ways:
Natural good bacteria and probiotics prevent the growth of bad bacteria by not allowing a place for it to grow and competing for the nutrients.
They lower the acidity of the intestine, creating an unwelcome environment for the bad bacteria.
They increase the production of mucin. Mucins are the proteins that bind to form the gel-like mucous, made by the epithelial cells that line the intestines. This produces a chemical barrier which limits the damage of inflammation.
…..You should open a discussion with your health care provider about the benefits of probiotics, especially the next time an antibiotic is needed. Antibiotics can affect the natural flora of the intestine so a probiotic review may be perfect.
About 5% of all women have a uterine fibroid and this is the most common of the noncancerous gynecological tumors. Since fibroids can increase risks during a pregnancy, the health care provider follows a pregnant woman with fibroids carefully.
One of the complications can be that the baby is in a position other than head-down near the time of delivery. This can affect the type of delivery advised. Other possible complications associated with fibroids and pregnancy can be pain, preterm delivery, premature rupture of the membranes, and other difficulties.
Because of the great hormonal changes during pregnancy, fibroids can shrink or grow at this time. The changes occur mostly in the first 3 months of the pregnancy. More pregnancy complications have been found when a fibroid is larger than 10 cm.
If you have fibroids and are pregnant, start early discussions with your health care providers about the risks to be concerned about and how is the best way to be followed during your pregnancy.
…..Over the past 50 years, more women are delaying childbirth for many reasons. Now obstetrical teams are seeing an increase in first births for women aged 40 to 44. Pregnancies can progress beautifully with these women but increased risks have been associated with later motherhood. Some of these risks include:
Abnormal fetal chromosomes
Diabetes during the pregnancy
High blood pressure before and during the pregnancy
Preterm labor and delivery
Increased chance of twins
…..The age of the father is also of concern here. Advanced paternal age is often thought of as being 40 or older at the time of conception. There are studies suggesting that advanced paternal age can be associated with a higher risk for autism spectrum disorders and some gene abnormalities.
…..If you or your partner is in this age group and are considering a pregnancy, begin a discussion with your health care provider. My next blog will continue on this topic.
I have always advised my patients that walking is a great exercise. A pair of sneakers and comfortable clothes is all you need to get started. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator has been another of my common suggestions, and as the colder weather quickly approaches, maybe we should consider starting a stair climbing program.
Most of us have access to stairs, either at home, work, or the mall. A great way to begin is climbing the stairs one at a time at your own pace, either holding on to the rail or keeping your hands free. You are using more muscles and burning more calories than walking. It is a vertical exercise, so it is good for muscle strengthening, cardiovascular work, and weight loss. Once you are up the stairs, you must come back down since the descent also has great benefits.
As always, do not start an exercise program unless you have discussed it with your health care provider. Stair climbing can be an easy addition to your exercise program and who knows where it will take you!
…..Many women who are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer are not aware of their risk. If you are at an increased risk, a pharmacologic preventive therapy (chemoprevention) is a consideration you should discuss with your health care provider. It has been reported that the agents used can reduce the risk by 50%.
…..The Gail Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool is one of the models that has been developed to quantify a women’s risk of developing breast cancer. By answering a series of questions about lifestyle, obstetric and gynecological history, and family history, a 5 year and lifetime risk can be calculated. If there is a moderate to high risk, lifestyle and pharmacologic interventions should be considered.
…..Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) and Raloxifene (Evista) are two agents that may be discussed to help in the reduction in breast cancer. There are risks and benefits to both medications, which need to be considered.
…..As October quickly comes to a close, the breast cancer awareness campaign will also come to an end. It is imperative that our fight against breast cancer should not be at the forefront of our minds only in October but be there day by day, all year long. All of us have someone close who has suffered with this cancer, so all of us must encourage the women in our lives to pursue proper breast health. Don’t hold back today; speak to someone dear to you about breast cancer and you may save a loved one’s life!