Epidurals: Not so Horrible After All?

I like to do things naturally, really. I like natural food, natural medicine, natural cleansers, natural births. But epidurals… well I really like epidurals. I’ve given birth three times and gladly taken the epidural each time. And every time I hear something about how awful it is to subject your body and your baby to the pain-numbing pleasure of an epidural… well, I just kind of ignore it.

So I’m rather pleased to read The Truth about epidurals by ,which relates that “concerns voiced by natural birthers are exaggerated.” And that’s a relief, because I’ve been really concerned that I was missing out on something, as I dozed through my contractions.

Ms. Moyer enumerates some of the main concerns that have been voiced about epidurals:

  • Epidurals and other pain-relieving drugs contribute to the over-medicalization of motherhood. They argue that such treatments create a snowball effect, necessitating additional interventions and intrusions: IVs, synthetic oxytocin to speed up the labor process, catheters, blood pressure monitors, and electronic fetal monitors.
  • Epidurals make it more difficult for women to push when it comes time to deliver.
  • Epidurals lengthen labor.
  • Epidurals’ numbing effects on pelvic muscles increases the risk of cesarean section, a surgery entailing a long recovery, risk for post-op infection or hernia, and future pregnancy complications.
  • Epidurals prevent newborns from suckling properly, which could impair nursing success.

After examining the available research, Ms. Moyer cuts down these popularly held beliefs. Epidurals today (which are different than those administered 20 years ago) do not impede a woman’s ability to push. Epidurals have been associated with c-sections, but not as a direct cause. One study showed that women with epidurals did, in fact, dilate more slowly and take longer to deliver, but they were no more likely to undergo C-sections than women who did not have drugs. You can read her article for a complete review of studies and findings.

So now I’ll throw in my personal experience for what it’s worth! My first birth was induced at 42 weeks. I took the epidural, pushed for about 5 minutes, and delivered a lovely, healthy baby who had no trouble nursing. My next two births were also aided by an epidural, and again I had no trouble pushing them out, and they also breastfed without any apparent side-effects. No C-sections, thank God, and no post-delivery complications. It is definitely possible that the epidurals lengthened my labor, but if you can’t feel the pain, does a little extra time matter?

I have great respect for women who birth naturally without any drugs at all. I still envy them a tiny bit. I kind of want to know what that feels like. But I’ll probably take an epidural again if given the choice.

feature image: Womenshealth.gov

Summer Pregnancy Health: Water, Water, Water

Long periods of time in the sun and heat can take a toll on anyone, but pregnant women should be extra vigilant about drinking enough water. Don’t run the risk of dehydration this summer… read on!

Why We Need Water

A woman’s body is made up of about 55% water, and a newborn baby’s body is about 75% water! Water is a vital part of many bodily functions: it  flushes waste products from the cells, aids in liver and kidney function, regulates body temperature, protects joints and organs, and generates healthy skin. Because blood is made mostly of water, it’s especially important to drink a lot during pregnancy, as mom’s blood volume increases significantly.

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image credit

What Happens When You’re Dehydrated

When your body starts running low on fluids, you may experience fatigue, constipation, blood clots, preterm labor, and, in severe cases, miscarriage. It is also dangerous because it can compromise your baby’s nourishment. Proper hydration is important for producing adequate breast milk, too.

Signs of Dehydration

Sweating in the summer is one way your body cools itself off, but it can cause you to lose a significant amount of water. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Dry mouth and thirst
  • Cool or pale skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rising pulse
  • Feeling dizzy, weak, or lightheaded
  • Bad headache that doesn’t improve with acetaminophen
  • Abdominal cramping lasting 15 minutes or more
  • Fever of 102 degrees F. or higher
  • Feeling confused or disoriented

If you experience any of these symptoms, stop immediately to rest in a cool place and drink water. If the symptoms don’t subside within 30 minutes, call your doctor. You may need to be put on an IV to rehydrate yourself.

How Much Should I Drink?

To prevent dehydration, you should try to drink at least 8-12 eight-ounce glasses of non-caffeinated fluids every day. Caffeine can actually dehydrate you. Fruits and vegetables count too, since they contain substantial amounts of water. You may not always feel thirsty, but try to drink at regular intervals throughout the day anyway.  If it’s very hot or you are exercising, increase your water intake. Your urine should be light yellow, and you should need to go to the bathroom a few times a day.

Is Baby Oil Safe for Your Little One?

I never gave a second thought to the safety of baby oil… after all, if it’s called “baby oil” it must be fine to use on babies… right? Not quite.  Baby oil is generally just straight mineral oil, plus some fragrance. And mineral oil is made from refined petroleum (as in, the stuff you put in your car). Instead of soothing and moisturizing baby’s sensitive skin, it will actually dry out skin and clog pores. And that’s just the beginning of the potential hazards.

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Watch what you put on your skin!

Remember, whatever you put on your skin is absorbed and circulated throughout your body. Infants, whose brains and nervous systems are not fully developed, are particularly vulnerable to substances absorbed by the skin. Dr. Mercola is fond of saying, “Don’t put anything on your body that you wouldn’t eat if you had to…”  When we eat something harmful, at least there are enzymes in our saliva and digestive systems to break it down and flush it out. But when something harmful permeates our skin, there is not much to stop it from entering the bloodstream and accumulating in delicate organs.

To make mineral oil, crude petroleum is heated in order to remove the gasoline and kerosene. Then hydrocarbons are removed by using sulfuric acid, applying absorbents, and washing with solvents.

It doesn’t sound pretty, but is it really that bad to dab a bit on after the bath?

The problems with Baby Oil (Mineral Oil)

  • Mineral oils can can cause sensitivity reactions over time, in the form of headaches, arthritis and diabetes.
  • Mineral oils interferes with the absorption of nutrients in your body.
  • Mineral oil dissolves the skin’s natural oils, thereby increasing water loss (dehydration) from the skin.
  • Mineral oil may increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight and has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer.

There was even a segment on Oprah about a baby who died from ingesting baby oil. He inhaled some of it, which became trapped in his lungs, killing him. (Note to caretakers: Even seemingly harmless toiletry items can be dangerous. Keep everything out of children’s reach!)

So what should I use instead?

Safe alternatives to baby oil would be: all natural, edible, unscented, unflavored fruit or vegetable oils that you’d cook or bake with. Some great all-natural moisturizers are pure emu oil, and pure coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and safflower oil. You can also find many organic skin oils and lotions these days.

Moisturize from the inside out by staying hydrated. Drinking lots of plain old water is a great way to keep your skin soft and supple. Baby’s skin usually doesn’t need that must moisturizing in the first place. If his skin seems dry or irritated, check into the soaps, detergents, creams, and diapers you are using first– he may be having a reaction to something else.

Be careful what YOU use, too!

Many body oils, cosmetics, and moisturizers that adults use are based on mineral oils as well. Be aware of what you put on your breasts, which can pass through your breastmilk to your baby.

Read more here.

Pregnant Women Should Avoid “Silver” Dental Fillings

If you’ve been to the dentist to have a cavity filled, you may (or may not!) have been offered a choice between the silver filling (also known as dental amalgam) or bone-colored resin (more attractive, as it blends in with the color of your teeth). Although slightly  more expensive, added uncertainty about the safety of the mercury-based silver fillings should be enough for pregnant women to choose the resin filling.

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feature image: Top News

Recently, a U.S. advisory panel declared that it wants the FDA to look at the latest data and reassess its guidance after the agency last year declared the fillings safe.  Mercury has been linked to neurological damage at high exposure levels and makes up about 50% of a metal filling.  “Vulnerable people” such as children and pregnant/nursing women should be especially wary.

Some dentists and trade groups cite data showing that the fillings pose no harm once set in a patient’s tooth.  Other dentists testify that mercury is too risky and that they no longer use such fillings. Dozens of patients also detailed how their health deteriorated after getting amalgams and urged the panel to push FDA to reverse course and initiate strong warnings, especially for children and pregnant or nursing women.

The Environmental Protection Agency lists mercury as a neurotoxin. It can interfere with brain development and cognitive and motor skills. In addition, groups such as Moms Against Mercury and Consumers for Dental Choice say mercury fillings may trigger health problems, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • brain damage
  • kidney damage
  • migraines
  • multiple sclerosis
  • irritability (erethism)

Short of banning amalgams altogether, patients should at the very least be warned about the dangers of these metal fillings and offered a choice. Amalgams have already been banned in some European countries.

Read more: Rueters, World Dental.org

Do you REALLY want to know what’s in your baby’s formula?

Oils, sugars, genetically modified organisms, aluminum, silicone, cadmium, MSG, Bisphenol-A… are you slightly horrified yet? What Everyone Needs To Know About Infant Formula Ingredients states, “This information is not readily available unless you work hard to seek it out, but I think that once you know it’s important to share it so others may benefit. I chose to write this for any parent who may be unaware of the full implications of formula feeding. Education is power and everyone deserves the ability to make an informed choice.”

Instant baby formula has saved lives. But to say that it is “just as good as” breast milk is very misleading. As scientist try to replicate breast milk as closely as possible, they are creating a substance that is increasingly more complex and questionable.  Because baby formula is categorized as “food” and not under “pharmaceuticals,” the FDA does not monitor the so-called “safe” ingredients that are added to it.

Some of these questionable ingredients include lactose, fructose, glucose, maltodextrose, carbohydrate (corn maltodextrin, modified corn starch ,corn syrup solids), protein (whey, casein, soy protein isolate), fat (soy oil, coconut oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, palm or olein oil) which are usually sourced from GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Lots of sugar– in order to modify cow milk the protein and mineral content must be reduced and the carbohydrate content must be increased, which is done by adding sugars.

More unappetizing stuff: The DHA in infant formula is extracted from fermented microalgae, Cryptecoiunium cohnii, and ARA is extracted from soil fungus, Mortierelle alpina. These are new to the food chain,l therefor the long term effects of these ingredients are not known. The way they get this stuff (using hexane, a petroleum-refining by-product- a known neurotoxin and air pollutant) is concerning, too.

You might also find a mix of aluminum, silicone, cadmium, MSG, phytoestrogens, GMO soybeans, phosphate, phthalates and Bisphenol-A in your baby’s formula. And even the water used as the base can pose a hazard- even in developed countries.  Chlorine by-products, arsenic, solvents, insecticides and weed killers are common. Formula-fed babies are up to 25 times more likely to die of  diarrhea than breast-fed babies.

You can read more about this at Breastfeeding Moms Unite.

Also of interest is Dr. Mercola’s statement: Soy formula is FAR worse than conventional formula. He says that the estrogens in soy can irreversibly harm your baby’s sexual development and reproductive health. Infants fed soy formula receive a level of estrogen equivalent to five birth control pills every day! In addition, soy formula has up to 80 times higher manganese than is found in human breast milk, which can lead to brain damage in infants, and altered behaviors in adolescence.  So please, do not ever feed your baby soy formula, and warn others who are pregnant or who you know are considering using formula over breastfeeding. The next best alternative to breast milk is to make a healthy homemade infant formula. There may be others, but here is one recipe for homemade formula created by the Weston Price Foundation, which I believe is sound.

The War on Drop-Side Cribs

A parent’s worse nightmare might be putting the baby down for a nap, and returning to find him… dead. This happened to the parents of 6-month-old Bobby Cirigliano, in 2004. But we’re not talking about SIDS or crib death… The tragedy of this story involves the side rail on his drop-side crib, which slid off the tracks, trapped his head and neck between the mattress and the malfunctioning side rail, suffocating him.

Surprisingly, there have been at least 32 other infants and toddlers killed by their drop-side cribs since 2000.  These babies were suffocated or strangled in these cribs, which have a side that moves up and down, allowing parents to lift children from the cribs more easily. Drop-sides have been around for decades, but only now are people beginning to question their safety.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission  regulates crib safety, and its chairman, Inez Tenenbaum, has pledged to make fixed-side cribs mandatory. It could take many months before becoming effective.  Big retailers such as Babies R Us and Wal-Mart have removed drop-side cribs from their sale floors. And now Congress is getting involved.

“There’s a great urgency here. We have to make sure that no parent is unaware that drop-side cribs could kill their children,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in an Associated Press interview.  She wants to accelerate efforts for a ban, and plans to introduce legislation this week to outlaw the manufacture, sale and resale of all drop-side cribs. She also wants them banned from day-care centers and hotels, and she wants to educate parents who are using them.

“There still are thousands and thousands of children who are sleeping every night in drop-side cribs and we need to protect them,” said Gillibrand.

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents over 90 percent of the crib industry, insists that drop-side cribs are safe w hen assembled and used properly.  But more than 7 million of these cribs have been recalled in the past five years, often because screws, safety pegs or plastic tracking for the rail can come loose or break. When the hardware malfunctions, the drop-side rail can detach partially from the crib, creating a space where a baby can get caught and suffocate or strangle.

Some people, such as Z Recommends, question the motives behind the banning of these cribs, saying there may be more to it than meets the eye. Why not issue mandated quality improvements on the design of drop-side cribs (for example: metal instead of plastic hardware, which tends to break), rather than an outright ban?  Fixed-sided cribs, even those with shorter legs (as some suggest would become the norm for cribs) will make it very difficult for tall parents, parents with bad backs, pregnant women, or older parents and caregivers to place their babies in the crib.

As one commenter puts it, “Can we put a man on the moon and not make a safe drop-side crib?”

If you are using a drop-side crib, be sure you have assembled it and are using it properly.  Check to make sure the model hasn’t been recalled. You may want to consider getting a new crib, or at least anchoring the movable side so there’s no danger of it malfunctioning.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

News source: Associated Press

Photo by valentinapowers, shared via Flickr.

Pregnant Women Step up the Pace!

You may have heard the advice that “gentle” exercise is good for your pregnancy, but that strenuous sports and activities should be avoided. This may not actually be the case, as I recently read here.  In fact, vigorous exercise appears to be quite safe during pregnancy, and has additional benefits for your baby too!

Benefits of Vigorous Exercise

The book “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy” by James F. Clapp M.D. cites over 20 years of research into the pregnancies of competitive athletes. Dr. Clapp found that exercising at a fairly high level throughout your pregnancy, including full weight bearing exercises, is safe and actually has many positive effects. Some of theses outcomes are obvious, such as reduced maternal weight gain and fat accumulation,  and improving your mood, energy levels, and muscle tone. But some are more surprising, including:

  • reduced pregnancy-related symptoms
  • Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
  • May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
  • good placental growth
  • fewer big babies
  • increased chance of delivering close to due date
  • shorter and less complicated labors
  • more rapid recover after delivery.

Changes in Your Body

Your body is changing in many ways during pregnancy. You should be aware of these, as they will affect the way you move and exercise.

  • Joints: Pregnancy hormones cause the ligaments supporting your joints to relax. This puts them at increased risk of injury, so you should avoid jerky, bouncy, or high-impact motions.
  • Balance: The extra weight you’re carrying causes your center of gravity to shift. It also puts stress on your joints and muscles, specifically those in the pelvis and lower back. This puts you at risk of back pain, loss of balance, and falls.
  • Heart Rate:  Growing a baby is hard work, and your body is working extra hard to deal with the weight gain and other changes.  Exercise directs oxygen and blood flow to the muscles being worked, and thus away from other parts of your body. It’s important not to overdo it if you begin to feel short of breath, faint, or exhausted.

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What’s Safe and What to Avoid

This may come as news to your Grandma, who has probably told you to stop carrying the groceries into your house, and to lie down and put your feet up. But there are, of course limits to how much your pregnant body can handle.  The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends walking, swimming, cycling, and aerobics.  Other activities, such as running, racket sports, and strength training are good if you’re body is already accustomed to these exercises.

Activites that should be avoided during pregnancy include:

  • Downhill snow skiing: Your changing center of gravity can throw off your balance and cause falls and sever injuries. High altitudes with less oxygen may not be the best idea, either.
  • Contact sports can result in injuries to you and your baby as well.
  • Scuba diving: The water pressure can put your baby at risk for decompression sickness.
  • Excessive weight lifting.
  • Yoga poses that have you lying on your back or hanging upside down.
  • Activities that increase your chance of falling and injuring yourself, such as horseback riding, water skiing, and gymnastics.
  • Standing still for long periods of time should be avoided.

If you haven’t been exercising much before you became pregnant, start slowly and carefully. It’s a good idea to consult your doctor about what types of exercise are best.  You should also expect that physical exertion will become more difficult during the last trimester, and respond accordingly. Always incorporate a warm-up and cool-down stage for 5-10 minutes each.

Things to Watch Out For

Women with the following conditions will be advised against exercising during pregnancy:

  • Risk factors for preterm labor
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Premature rupture of membranes

The ACOG recommends the following guidelines for a safe and healthy exercise program:

  • After the first trimester of pregnancy, avoid doing any exercises on your back.
  • Avoid brisk exercise in hot, humid weather or when you have a fever.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that will help you to remain cool.
  • Wear a bra that fits well and gives lots of support to help protect your breasts.
  • Drink plenty of water to help keep you from overheating and dehydrating.
  • Make sure you consume the daily extra calories you need during pregnancy.

Stop exercising and call your doctor if you get any of these symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Uterine contractions
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

Bottom Line: It’s good news for pregnant sports lovers and exercise enthusiasts! Exercise during pregnancy can help prepare you for labor and childbirth, in addition to staying fit and feeling good. And exercising afterward can help you get back into shape.  So put on those running shoes, get out your tennis balls and rackets, or head to the gym or nearest hiking trail. If there’s something you loved doing before pregnancy, chances are you may be able to continue in almost the same way that you always have!

feature image from Hello Beautiful

The Dangers of Immediate Cord Clamping

In many hospitals, the umbilical cord is routinely cut and clamped just seconds after the baby is born. But could this carefree clamping be causing damage to your newborn baby? Research today is increasingly revealing that clamping the umbilical cord prematurely robs your baby of much-needed blood and oxygen.

In the womb, a baby’s lungs are filled with fluid, and it receives oxygen through the umbilical cord. When the infant is born, the placenta and cord continue to pulse, delivering a burst of blood volume to the infant’s system. This blood is needed to help the the lungs of the newborn to expand.  According to this startling article, Are Doctors Causing Infant Brain Damage by Clamping the Umbilical Cord Prematurely?


Without the burst of blood from the placenta, the infant suffers a drop in blood pressure as its lungs fail to open as they should, creating a chain reaction of effects that can include brain damage and lung damage. Immediate cord clamping can cause hypotension, hypovolemia and infant anemia, resulting in cognitive deficits. Some have even theorized that the rise in autism could be linked at least in part to early cord clamping.

Image of umbilical cord at birth

image from Mayo Clinic

Interestingly, the umbilical cord, if left intact, actually “clamps” itself in as little as five minutes. Wikipedia explains that shortly after birth, the reduction in temperature starts a physiological process which causes the Wharton’s jelly (that’s what the cord is made of) to swell and collapse the blood vessels within. This, in effect, creates a natural clamp, halting the flow of blood.

According to Dr. Mercola, the time between between birth and natural clamping, allows blood to flow from the placenta through the baby’s lungs. The natural process protects the baby’s brain by providing a continuous oxygen supply until the lungs are functioning well. While most full-term babies have enough blood to establish lung function and prevent brain damage, the early clamping can still leave them weak, pale, and gasping for air. For premature babies, the process can be even more devastating.

Immediate cord clamping could possibly be linked to:

  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Respiratory distress
  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Anemia
  • Brain injury
  • Learning disorders
  • Behavioral disorders

On the flip side, G. M. Morley asserts that “the child which is delivered without the use of a cord clamp receives a full placental transfusion with enough iron to prevent anemia for the firs year of life… this is only a reflection of how much of the infant’s blood volume was left clamped in its placenta. ” (Read more here.)

Today there is no consensus about the optimal time to clamp the umbilical cord after birth. But I think it’s interesting to note the observations of Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin’s grandfather) from 200 years ago:

“Another thing very injurious to the child, is the tying and cutting of the navel string too soon; which should always be left till the child has not only repeatedly breathed but till all pulsation in the cord ceases.

As otherwise the child is much weaker than it ought to be, a portion of the blood being left in the placenta, which ought to have been in the child.”

Moving forward, this 1963 Time article suggests that there are sound reasons for a slowdown in cutting the umbilical cord. It is based on a study by a group of pediatricians from the University of California:

The California pediatricians base their theory on a study of 129 infants. Among 41 whose umbilical cords were clamped before they took their second breath, 21 showed moderate to severe respiratory distress. In another group of 52 infants whose umbilicals had been clamped some time after the second breath, only six suffered the same symptoms. The condition of the infants who retained their umbilical cords longest was by far the best.

Given the overwhelming research about the potential harms of early cord clamping, both the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) have dropped the practice from their guidelines. (Mercola) But it is still widely done in the United States and other developed countries, which I find hard to understand.

Pregnant? Think Twice about H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine

U.S. health authorities have made pregnant women one of the highest priority groups for getting the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, but is it actually safe for pregnant women and their babies? This is the question asked by Organic Health Adviser, and the answer may shock you. Miscarriage reports from pregnant women who have taken the H1N1 swine flu vaccine are starting to pour in from all over the nation.  Although many doctors, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, are urging their pregnant patients to be vaccinated, the package insert for the swine flu vaccines actually says that the safety of these vaccines for pregnant women has not been established.

If you want to read the stories of real women who got the H1N1 swine flu vaccine and then miscarried shortly afterward, click on this Baby Center June 2010 birth club message board. You can also read the article on the About.com Miscarriage/Pregnancy Loss blog, “Some Pregnant Women Fearful of H1N1 Vaccine.” See the comments that follow. Also, see the article and comments in the Organic Health Adviser.

Vaccines have been linked to other disorders and diseases, such as autism, multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders, although the research is often inconclusive. So the big question is, is there really a link between the vaccine and miscarriage, or are these stories mere coincidences? I am not able to pass judgement, but the fact that the vaccine is closely followed by miscarriage time after time makes the situation very frightening. Dr. Mercola agrees: “Perhaps some of the 20 women on one of the blogs would have miscarried anyway, but when a number of women have healthy, uneventful pregnancies up until they’re injected with a vaccine, and then suddenly miscarry, it most certainly warrants investigation!”

On the flip side, the Star Tribune points out that scientists have noticed a pattern: A disproportionate number of expectant mothers have been hospitalized with the flu. So far, pregnant women, who make up 1 percent of the population, have accounted for 6 percent of H1N1 deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.  According to doctors, pregnant women have weaker immune systems and the flu not only endangers their lives, but increases the risks of miscarriage and birth defects as well.  A counter-argument is examined at Swine Flu Alert — Shocking Vaccine Miscarriage Horror Stories, from Mercola.com.

For those who choose not to be vaccinated, there are ways of building your immune system naturally, to ward off the possibility of catching the swine flu (or any other type of flu).  This includes getting adequate levels of Vitamin D (whether through sunlight or supplements), exercise regularly, get enough sleep, address emotional stress, wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your mouth and nose with unclean hands.

Whether or not to be vaccinated is a decision that no one can or should make for you.  However, we hope that you will make an educated decision on this topic, for yourself and your family, after weighing all the risks and benefits. Whatever your decision, the public should be aware that any time you take a pharmaceutical drug or vaccine of any kind, you need to report any and all side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). You can do this through your doctor– you should ask to get a copy of the report to make sure it was done– or you can report it yourself via the VAERS web site.

New Study Confirms Link between Smoking and SIDS

If you are planning to get pregnant, or already are pregnant, you know that one of the most important things you can do for your child is to quit smoking. For a while now, doctors have been warning that smoking during pregnancy is likely to increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). But now, a new study provides the most direct evidence yet.

The new study, reported on by Science Daily, appears in the first issue for June of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, a publication of the American Thoracic Society.

“Our results provide some of the most direct evidence to date suggesting that prenatal cigarette smoke exposure can contribute to the destabilizing effects of hypoxia [inadequate oxygenation of the blood] and thermal stress on neonatal breathing,” said Dr. Hasan.

That the effects of second-hand cigarette smoke are damaging is well known. But according to this study, the effects were much more pronounced when a fetus was exposed to cigarette smoked prenatally.

“Our results show that prenatal cigarette smoke exposure compounds the risk by increasing the likelihood of gasp-like respiration and prolonging the time that it takes for neonates to return to normal breathing following hypoxia,” said Dr. Hasan. “These observations provide important evidence of how prenatal cigarette smoke exposure, hypoxic episodes and hyperthermia might place infants at higher risk for SIDS and further support efforts to foster prenatal smoking cessation programs.”

To read the details of this study, please refer to Science Daily: Smoking During Pregnancy Increases Risk of SIDS.

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