Having a Baby After 35: Information and Associated Risks

Source: Having a Baby After 35: Information and Associated Risks – Medical News Today

Pregnancy later in life, after the age of 35, is becoming increasingly common. Women are delaying childbearing for a variety of personal and professional reasons. However, are there health implications in delaying pregnancy?

As women age, it can become more of a challenge to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy. Fertility begins to decrease during the ages of 32 and 37, with a more rapid decline after 37.1

Women are born with a certain amount of eggs. As they age, the quantity and quality of eggs begin to decline, particularly during the third decade of life.1,2

Additionally, conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids that may have a negative impact on the ability to conceive become more common with increasing age.1

While it becomes harder to conceive with increasing age, there are also a number of risks occurring with pregnancy that can affect the health of both the mother and baby. In this article, we will examine these risks, as well as look at a number of tips for having a healthy baby later in life.

Risks of pregnancy later in life

Becoming pregnant over the age of 35 can increase the risk of pregnancy complications for both mother and baby. As women age, the risk of them developing high blood pressure (hypertension) or diabetes (including gestational diabetes) either before or during pregnancy increases. These conditions can have a negative effect on pregnancy.1,2

A pregnant woman holding her back.
Women who become pregnant later in life are at an increased risk of hypertension and gestational diabetes.

Continue reading

What should I expect during labor?

Source: Labor: What are the Stages of Labor? – Medical News Today

You may think that knowing when you are in labor is obvious, but for many women, it may not be so simple.

At times, women may experience symptoms of false labor, including Braxton Hicks contractions (also known as practice contractions) which, although similar to real contractions, are not labor.

Determining what is real labor and false can be accomplished by clocking contractions, timing how long each contraction lasts for and how long it takes from the start of one contraction to the next.

If you are having Braxton Hicks contractions, they will be irregular and go away in time. They may resolve with walking, lying down or through other changes in activity, but true contractions and labor will not resolve and will increase in intensity.

This MNT Knowledge Center article will look at the three stages of labor and how you can tell that labor is about to begin. The article will also examine rapid and prolonged labor, when to go to a hospital and what forms of pain relief are available during labor.

Signs of labor

Pregnant woman's belly is being examined by doctors.
The onset of labor can be signified by cervical changes that are present on physical examination.

Continue reading

What is Toxoplasmosis?

Source: Toxoplasmosis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment – Medical News Today

The disease toxoplasmosis is caused by an infection with a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. In the US alone, more than 60 million people may harbor the infection.

Toxoplasmosis often causes flu-like symptoms, although it can lead to more serious complications such as encephalitis and developmental impairments.

Pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of developing serious health complications with toxoplasmosis.

You will also see introductions at the end of some sections to any recent developments that have been covered by MNT‘s news stories. Also look out for links to information about related conditions.

A pregnant lady with a cat.
Toxoplasmosis can be contracted congenitally and through contact with cat feces.

Continue reading

Sex After Pregnancy: When Can I Resume Intercourse?

Source: Sex After Pregnancy: When Can I Resume Intercourse? – Medical News Today

Most mothers will agree that the last thing on their mind after having a baby is sex. However, this is not often the case with their partner! On the other hand, some women may be ready to resume sexual intercourse shortly after having a baby. But when is the right time to resume sexual intercourse?

In general, it is recommended that sexual intercourse is avoided for the first 4-6 weeks following a vaginal or cesarean (C-section) delivery; however, it is important to speak with your health care provider before resuming sex.

A woman is staring out of a window with a mug.
Multiple factors can influence when a woman is ready to resume sexual intercourse following pregnancy.

Most often, especially in cases of a C-section, perineal tear or episiotomy, it is recommended to wait until after you are seen for your 6-week postpartum visit for the green light from a health care provider to resume sexual activity. Continue reading

Stillbirth risk could be halved with seasonal flu shot during pregnancy

Source: Stillbirth risk could be halved with seasonal flu shot during pregnancy – Medical News Today

Expectant mothers who receive the seasonal flu vaccine may be at significantly lower risk for stillbirth than those who are not vaccinated. This is the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
[A pregnant women with her hands on her belly]
Expectant mothers who received the seasonal flu shot were found to be at 51% lower stillbirth risk than those who were not vaccinated.

In the US, around 1% of all pregnancies are affected by stillbirth, and around 24,000 babies are stillborn every year.

While the causes of many stillbirths are unclear, birth defects, genetic problems, issues with the placenta or umbilical cord and certain medical conditions in the mother can play a role.

Expectant mothers who are over the age of 35, smoke during pregnancy, obese, have experienced a previous pregnancy loss or who have had multiple pregnancies are also at greater risk for stillbirth. Continue reading

1 in 10 Women Suffer From Postpartum Depression

Source: Mayo Clinic News Network

You’ve waited nine months, and your new baby finally has arrived. But a few weeks later, instead of feeling joy and contentment, you experience anxiety, sadness, episodes of crying and guilt. You may be suffering from postpartum depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 1 out of every 10 women will have some degree of postpartum depression, which is different from and more severe than the “baby blues.”

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, reporter Vivien Williams talks to family medicine specialist Dr. Summer Allen about ways to handle postpartum depression.

10 Common Labor Complications

Source: 10 Common Labor Complications – Medical News Today

Most often, the labor and birth process is uncomplicated. However, there are times in which complications arise that may require immediate attention. Complications can occur during any part of the labor process.

Common complications of labor include:1-3

  1. Failure to progress
  2. Fetal distress
  3. Perinatal asphyxia
  4. Shoulder dystocia
  5. Excessive bleeding
  6. Malposition
  7. Placenta previa
  8. Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD)
  9. Uterine rupture
  10. Rapid labor.

In this Medical News Today Knowledge Center article, we examine each of the above 10 complications of labor, including some information on how they can be caused, treated or prevented.

1. Failure to progress

Labor may be described as prolonged or having failed to progress when it lasts for an abnormally long period of time. For first time mothers, failure to progress is described as labor lasting over 20 hours, whereas in mothers who have previously given birth, it is described as labor lasting more than 14 hours.4

A woman in labor with doctor and partner.
Labor typically lasts for 6-18 hours. In some cases, however, it can last for over 20 hours.

Prolonged labor can occur in any phase of labor; however, it is most concerning during the active phase.4 Continue reading

A little alcohol in pregnancy puts future generations at risk

Source: A little alcohol in pregnancy puts future generations at risk – Medical News Today

Even a small dose of alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of alcoholism in the next three generations, according to a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
[pregnant woman with wine]
Drinking during pregnancy can have a lifelong impact on offspring.

Previous studies have shown that alcohol use and related disorders pose a significant threat to global health. Exposure to moderate amounts of alcohol in utero or during early life puts humans at greater risk for alcohol abuse in adolescence and adulthood.

Factors affecting teen drinking habits are varied and complex. They include the desire to engage in risk-taking and rebellious behavior, as well as the wish to impress and to sustain popularity among peers. Continue reading

You should eat fish during pregnancy

Source: Fish and pregnancy: mercury exposure outweighed by beneficial effects – Medical News Today

Among its myriad of health benefits, fish contains nutrients that are important for developing fetuses, which is why pregnant women are advised to eat two or three servings of fish each week. However, concerns over the detrimental effects of mercury – found in nearly all fish – have given pregnant women a reason to be cautious. Now, a new study suggests the negative effects of ingesting low levels of mercury through fish are outweighed by the beneficial effects for newborns.
Fish on cutting board
Although nearly all fish contain mercury, a new study finds that the benefits of consuming fish during pregnancy outweigh the effects of mercury exposure for newborns.

The study, led by Kim Yolton, PhD, from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, is published in the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology.

According to the researchers, previous studies examining the effect of low-level gestational mercury exposure from fish intake on neurobehavioral outcomes of newborns have been limited. Continue reading

What Is Microcephaly?

Source: What Is Microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a rare nervous system disorder that causes a baby’s head to be small and not fully developed. The child’s brain stops growing as it should. This can happen while the baby is still in the mother’s womb or within the first few years of birth.

How Does a Baby Get Microcephaly?

Your doctor may not be able to tell you why this happened to your baby. In most cases, the exact cause is unknown.

It can be brought on by:

A problem with your genes (congenital microcephaly)
Something in your environment (acquired microcephaly)

Congenital microcephaly is passed down through families. It’s caused by defects in genes linked to early brain development. Microcephaly is often seen in children with Down syndrome and genetic disorders.

Acquired microcephaly means the child’s brain came into contact with something that harmed its growth and development. Continue reading

Depression Screening During, Post-Pregnancy Urged

Source: Depression Screening During, Post-Pregnancy Urged

All U.S. adults, including pregnant and postpartum women, should be screened for depression by their family doctor, the nation’s leading preventive medicine panel recommends.

Further, doctors need to follow through and get treatment for anyone who tests positive for depression, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded in an update of its depression screening guidelines. Continue reading

On Paper, Italy Allows Abortions, but Few Doctors Will Perform Them

Source: On Paper, Italy Allows Abortions, but Few Doctors Will Perform Them – The New York Times

ASCOLI PICENO, Italy — After Benedetta, 35, found out 11 weeks into her pregnancy that the baby she wanted “with all myself” had extremely serious genetic problems, she made a painful decision, and asked her longtime gynecologist for an abortion.

Her doctor’s refusal — she said she was a conscientious objector to Italy’s law that makes abortion legal up to 90 days — set off a desperate scramble to find a doctor who would help her. Continue reading

Zika virus, causing underdeveloped brains in newborns, could spread rapidly

Source: Zika virus could spread rapidly in the Americas – Medical News Today

Zika – a mosquito-borne virus linked to the birth of babies with small heads and underdeveloped brains in Brazil – has the potential to spread rapidly within the Americas. This spread could reach parts of the US, says an international team of researchers.
Globe with stethoscopeBy mapping the destinations of airline travelers and combining that with disease transmission and climate data, researchers show how infections can quickly spread around the world.

Zika virus is transmitted by the same Aedes mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya. Typically, it causes mild illness and a rash, but reports from Brazil suggest it may be causing birth defects in newborn babies of women who have had Zika.

The virus is native to parts of Africa and Asia, but it is now spreading locally outside of its native regions in people who have not traveled abroad. There is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for the virus.

In a research letter in The Lancet, a team of experts who track the spread of infectious diseases says:

“The presence of Aedes mosquitoes across Latin America, coupled with suitable climatic conditions, have triggered a Zika virus epidemic in Brazil, currently estimated at 440,000-1,300,000 cases.” Continue reading

Mother’s education impacts child’s health from birth

Source: Mother’s education impacts child’s health from birth – Medical News Today

Babies born to mothers who did not finish high school, possibly due to socioeconomic stress, are more likely to be born with decreased chromosome protection, according to research published in the Journal of Perinatology.
[young mother and baby]
Babies whose mothers did not finish high school may have additional health risks.

The ends of chromosomes are capped and protected by molecules called telomeres. Telomeres have been likened to the “plastic tips of shoelaces,” and are repeating units of DNA at the ends of chromosomes. Continue reading

Children’s blood bears evidence of mom’s smoking in pregnancy

Source: Children’s blood bears evidence of mom’s smoking in pregnancy – Medical News Today

fetusExposure to tobacco smoke toxins while in the womb can linger in the body and potentially affect children’s health years after they are born.
The study shows that an epigenetic memory of the mother’s smoking during pregnancy can remain in the child’s blood as long as 5 years after birth.

This was the finding of a study led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, and published in the journal Environmental Research.

The researchers suggest further investigation may well reveal similar findings about prenatal exposure to other toxins – including less obvious ones such as chemicals in plastics or contaminants in drinking water. Continue reading

Dads get baby blues, too

Source: Dads get baby blues, too – Medical News Today

Fathers are nearly as likely to experience anxiety around the arrival of a new baby as mothers, according to research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
[father and baby]
Men, too, are prone to anxiety and depression around the birth of a baby.

Results from previous studies vary, but some suggest that over 20% of parents suffer from anxiety or depression.

The causes of anxiety and depression around the arrival of a new baby are poorly understood. Continue reading

Most Women Do Not Gain Appropriate Weight During Pregnancy

Source: Most Women Do Not Gain Appropriate Weight During Pregnancy — Physician’s First Watch

More than two-thirds of pregnant women in the U.S. either gain too much or too little weight during pregnancy, according to a study in MMWR.

Using data from birth certificates and the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System for full-term singletons born in 2012 or 2013, researchers calculated mothers’ prepregnancy body mass index and weight gained during pregnancy.

The Institute of Medicine recommends a gain of 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy for underweight women, 25 to 35 pounds for normal-weight women, 15 to 25 pounds for overweight women, and 11 to 20 pounds for obese women. Based on these recommendations, weight gained was considered appropriate in 32% of pregnancies, inadequate in 20%, and excessive in 48%. Women who were overweight or obese before pregnancy had the highest prevalence of excessive gain, whereas those who were underweight before pregnancy had the highest prevalence of inadequate gain.

The authors recommend interventions to promote appropriate weight gain, including calculating BMI at first prenatal visit and counseling on diet and physical activity.

Depression and diabetes linked to sedentary pregnancy

Source: Depression and diabetes linked to sedentary pregnancy – Medical News Today

Women suffering from depression during their second trimester are more likely to spend longer amounts of time sitting down. A new study shows that this sedentary behavior increases the likelihood of increased weight gain and gestational diabetes.
Sitting for long periods of time[Pregnant woman sitting] when pregnant could increase the risk of maternal diabetes.

The ethics of running clinical trials on pregnant women where the control group is considered likely to have a negative health impact are, understandably, not considered ethical.

As such, information regarding the amount of physical effort a pregnant woman should undertake during pregnancy is sparse. Continue reading

Just an Ordinary Miscarriage

Source: Just an Ordinary Miscarriage – The New York Times

“It’ll be a breeze,” my husband predicted when I showed him the positive results of the home pregnancy test.

My obstetrician said, “We have to be cautious until the end of the first trimester — until it’s ‘glued in.’ ”

There was a chapter in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” ominously titled “When Things Go Wrong.” I was avoiding reading that section, yet I knew — even though nobody really talked about miscarriage, the way people never used to discuss cancer. Continue reading

Daily aspirin could increase chance of pregnancy

Source: Daily aspirin could increase chance of pregnancy – Medical News Today

Taking low-dose aspirin daily could help women become pregnant, particularly those who have previously miscarried. This is according to new research presented today at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD.
[A woman taking an aspirin]

Researchers from the University of Utah and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) suggest that taking just 81 mg of aspirin daily may boost a woman’s likelihood of conception by reducing systemic inflammation, improving the environment in which an embryo grows.

Aspirin is a salicylate drug commonly used to reduce fever, inflammation and relieve minor aches and pains. It is also increasingly used as an anti-platelet medication to reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke among individuals at high risk. Continue reading

IVF breakthrough: novel DNA test could more than double success rates

Source: IVF breakthrough: novel DNA test could more than double success rates – Medical News Today

In the US, the majority of women undergoing in vitro fertilization have a success rate of 20-35%. Now, researchers have created a test that they say could boost success rates to as much as 80%.
[IVF]Researchers say the new test could lead to IVF success rates of 70-80%.

The test, called MitoGrade, works by measuring the levels of abnormal mitochondrial DNA present in embryos, allowing doctors to determine which embryos are most viable for a successful pregnancy.

Mitochondria are structures found within cells that are responsible for generating the energy cells need to function. Each mitochondrion contains small amounts of DNA, known as mitochondrial DNA. Continue reading

AAP: No Safe Level of Alcohol Consumption in Pregnancy

“There is no known absolutely safe quantity, frequency, type, or timing of alcohol consumption during pregnancy,” according to a new clinical report on fetal alcohol syndrome from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Get the full article on NEJM website here.

Source: AAP: No Safe Level of Alcohol Consumption in Pregnancy — Physician’s First Watch

It’s Scientifically Better to Be Born in Summer

Source: It’s Scientifically Better to Be Born in Summer in Health News curated by Newser.com

There’s more reason to be jealous of summer babies than all those birthday parties by the pool: They may be healthier adults, according to a new study. University of Cambridge scientists surveyed roughly 500,000 Britons aged 40 to 69 for their birth dates, height, weight, and the age at which females had their first period, reports the Times, per the Australian. People born in June, July, and August were heavier at birth and about 1/8 of an inch taller in adulthood than those born in December, January, and February, while women born in summer had their first menstrual cycle weeks after those born in winter; like heavier birth weight, later puberty tends to positively impact health in later life, per a press release. Continue reading