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Entries in Pregnancy (146)

Friday
Jul062012

Fertility Drugs' Link to Breast Cancer Hinges on Pregnancy, Study Says

Comstock/Thinkstock(BETHESDA, Md.) -- Do fertility drugs affect a woman's risk of developing breast cancer? A new study suggests that the risk hinges on whether they actually help a woman get pregnant.

Scientists have been concerned about the effects of fertility drugs in recent years, citing a possible relationship between the hormones altered by the drugs and those implicated in breast cancer. Studies attempting to pinpoint the link between fertility drugs and cancer risk have varied widely in their conclusions. Some have found a reduction in cancer risk, some an increased risk. Others found no connection at all.

But researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that although the drugs seem to reduce breast cancer risk in young women, the risk goes up when they get pregnant.

Researchers studied pairs of sisters, in total following more than 1,400 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50 and more than 1,600 of their sisters who had never had breast cancer. Of these women, 288 reported using ovulation-stimulating fertility drugs, clomiphene citrate and follicle-stimulating hormone, at some point; 141 women reported a pregnancy lasting 10 weeks or more after taking the drugs.

The study found that women who took the drugs and did not get pregnant had a slightly lower risk of developing breast cancer before age 50. Those who took the drugs and reported a pregnancy lasting 10 weeks or more had a slightly increased risk, but that risk was little different than the risk of women who never took fertility drugs at all.

The study was published Friday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and funded in part by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Clarice Weinberg, one of the study's authors and the head of biostatistics at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said those findings suggest that a stimulated pregnancy may be enough to undo the reduction in risk possibly conferred by ovulation-stimulating drugs. But she does not suggest that women should steer clear of fertility drugs for fear of developing breast cancer.

"I don't see the results as any cause for alarm. But everyone needs to manage their risk and be careful," she said.

Dr. Marcelle Cedars, a professor of reproductive endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, said the findings are actually encouraging to women who want to take fertility drugs.

"Even in the group at an increased risk after their pregnancy, their risk was not higher than the general public," said Cedars, who was not involved in the study. "If you use fertility drugs, you're not increasing your risk."

The study looked specifically at ovulation-stimulating drugs, which kick a woman's ovaries into hyper-ovulation, causing her body to produce more eggs that could potentially be fertilized. The additional eggs also increase the levels of estrogen in a woman's body, a hormone that has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

In women who have higher levels of eggs and hormones but no pregnancy, the hormone levels eventually fall back down when the woman's body figures out she's not pregnant. But in women who do get pregnant, the multiple eggs keep producing hormones. Weinberg and her colleagues suggest that those higher hormone levels may act on breast tissue that naturally changes during the course of pregnancy.

But Louise Brinton, chief of hormonal reproductive epidemiology at NCI, cited another possible explanation for the findings. Most of the women taking fertility drugs were taking clomiphene, a first-line treatment for infertility. Clomiphene is in the same drug family as the chemotherapy agent tamoxifen, which might explain why some women taking it appeared to have a reduced risk of breast cancer.

Also, pregnant women, especially those who are age 30 and older, are at an increased risk of breast cancer for a few years after they give birth, whether or not they have taken fertility drugs.

"You would expect to see that women with recent pregnancies would be at increased risk," said Brinton, who was not invovled in NIH study. "Then you start to see that risk turn into lifetime protection relative to women who have never had a pregnancy."

Weinberg said future research on fertility drugs and breast cancer should consider the role that pregnancy plays in affecting younger women's risk for developing the disease.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul022012

Louisiana Woman Awakens After Giving Birth with Blood Clot in Brain

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- Tommy Scott came home from work on May 22 to find his wife Amber, who was nearly 38 weeks pregnant, lying immobile on the bed.

“She was conscious, but she was -- it’s hard to describe -- one eye was open and she was breathing heavily, but she couldn’t talk,” Tommy said.

Doctors at Slidell Memorial Hospital near New Orleans found that Amber Scott had a blood clot in her brain.  Amber underwent an emergency Caesarean section, delivering a healthy girl, Adeline, at 8:42 p.m.  Surgery to remove the blood clot immediately followed and was finished just after midnight.

Amber, a 29-year-old audiologist, was transferred to West Jefferson Medical Center on May 24 to undergo further treatment. She spent the next two weeks in a minimally conscious state. She was sometimes responsive to her environment and would try to move her arms spontaneously, said Dr. Andrea Toomer, one of her rehabilitation physicians.

On Friday, Amber was moved to the rehab unit to begin an extensive recovery process. “She has to start from scratch, like an infant. The main thing is they want her to feel at home, teach her how to get dressed again, teach her how to feed the baby, hold the baby,” Tommy said.

Holding Adeline was a milestone Amber reached Sunday, the first time she could see her baby, more than a month after giving birth to her.

“In physical therapy, they’ve been teaching her different facial expressions, like smiling, which looks kind of like a smirk right now. First thing when she saw Adeline, she had that smirk on her face,” Tommy said.

“By the time she leaves our rehab unit in three or four weeks, we think she’ll need minimal assistance to do her daily activities, doing maybe 75 percent of them herself. That’s in the short term. I think she’ll continue to improve beyond that,” Dr. Toomer said.

Tommy Scott said he knows they have a long road ahead of them but feels very hopeful.

“Compared to where we were a month ago, we didn’t know if she was going to survive. Now she’s in therapy and we’re talking about getting her home.”

Tommy feels especially grateful for the amount of support they’ve received.

“Of course we have our friends and family, but people we’ve never met across the country are contacting us.  I got a call from a lady in Miami who said she had gone through something very similar to Amber -- she had a brain clot while pregnant -- and wanted me to know that she and her baby were both fine now.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun292012

Real Moms on the Realities of Losing the Baby Weight

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Earlier this month, a group of moms gave birth to a radical idea. Instead of focusing on the perhaps unrealistic pressures celebrities set to lose the baby weight, they decided to embrace their bodies to try to change the face of post-baby body expectations.

Heidi Klum hit the Victoria's Secret runway in next to nothing just six weeks after giving birth. Fellow angel, Alessandra Ambrosio, basically bared it all a mere 12 weeks after delivering her bundle of joy. And who could forget Kourtney Kardashian posing for covers of magazines rocking a red-hot bikini just three months after becoming mother to baby boy, Mason.

"I think it's great that they can get their body back, because they have the time," mother Katie Schunk said. "They're being paid to look good, but we're all working mommies. Jessica Alba was back to her pre-baby weight in like four weeks. At four weeks I was up every three hours and not able to function."

Marie Schweitzer agreed, "We love them all. We're all celebrity worshipers. But at the same time, that's them maybe two months after having a baby, and this," she said while pointing to herself up and down, "a year and four months after having a baby."

So instead of scrutinizing photos of themselves, the women of CTWorkingMoms.com decided to embrace their bodies and bare it all, showing the world what "real women's" bodies look like post-baby.

"We have this amazing moment of having a child, and then right after, most women hate their bodies," said Schunk.

Michelle Noehren, mother and creator of CTWorkingMoms.com, affirmed, "You do an amazing thing by carrying a human being in your bodies and giving birth. We should be proud of our bodies."

But what they didn't realize was that while they were fearlessly flaunting their figures for the camera, these moms were really on an even bigger mission with a message for all women.

"If we could reach one woman and get her to maybe not feel so bad about herself, I think that's exactly what we wanted to do," Schunk said.

Even the photographer of the shoot, Jean Molodetz of I View Photography, was tearing up watching the mothers frolick in the backyard.

"Watching them embrace the spirit of the message, it was great," Molodetz explained.

They thought they were just taking pictures for fun, but the reaction they felt when they started shooting wasn't anything any of them were expecting.

Another mother on the shoot, Mary Grace Peak, said, "It was such a release, because trying to balance work and family and home -- to actually run around someone's yard half naked was very liberating and fun. It was great to kind of forget that I was a mom just for a minute and just remember who I am as a woman."

Dena Fleno also posed for the camera. She explained, "It was the togetherness, and that's what we want to get across to women. Get together with your girlfriends and do something like this because you will be changed after you do it. It is so important."

Noehren's husband tells her every day that she's beautiful. But still, "it's hard to believe it yourself even though you hear it, and doing something like this really does help," she explained.

Schunk's husband thought it was an amazing idea for the women to do the shoot, also. "He's the first person to say that women are our own worst critic. Men don't judge us as much as we judge ourselves, and it was nice to see us embrace ourselves and feel beautiful for a while," she said.

Fleno has a daughter and hopes she'll learn from this experience to embrace and accept whatever body she has at any given moment. "She might have a different one than she had in high school when she's a mom. But that's who she is now and she's got to embrace it and accept it and just love yourself. And this helped. It really did. I've never felt more beautiful than I did that night. I have this joy inside now from that night that's never going to go away now," she explained.

These women really want all moms to feel good about themselves. They're encouraging everyone who has carried a child to head to CTWorkingMoms.com to upload your own fearless photos to the website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun212012

Arizona Woman Delivers Own Baby in Car

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(GILBERT, Ariz.) -- Taylor and Michael Hale were less than a mile from the hospital, but baby Chloe couldn’t wait. The new mom delivered her own baby in the car on the way to the Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert, Ariz.

In the time it took her husband to call 911 from the car, Taylor Hale had delivered the baby.

“The baby’s out!” she exclaimed as her husband spoke to the 911 operator.

She estimated less than five minutes had passed between the time she left her house and when she gave birth.

“I said to the dispatch, ‘The head’s out,’ and he said, ‘Pull over,’” Michael Hale told ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV.  “In the time it took for me to stop and pull over, I look over and my wife is holding our baby.”

“I was in the front seat and I just put my legs up and I pushed her out while we were driving,” Taylor Hale said.

After a few long seconds of silence, the parents were relieved to hear their baby crying.

“Congratulations, dad,” the operator said.

Susan Gordon, public relations director at Banner Gateway Medical Center, said that both mother and daughter are healthy and doing fine.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun202012

Moderate Drinking While Pregnant May Not Be Harmful

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy may not have any damaging developmental effects on children five years later, according to new research published Tuesday.

But, the authors stressed, pregnant women should still err on the side of caution and avoid alcohol altogether, since no safe level of alcohol consumption has been established.

In a series of five studies, Danish researchers statistically evaluated how different levels of drinking during pregnancy affected the 5-year-old children of 1,628 women.  They compared women who drank zero, one to four, five to eight, and more than nine drinks per week while they were pregnant and assessed their children's IQ, attention span and their capacity for what are known as executive functions, which include organization and planning.

Children whose mothers reported having one to four or five to eight drinks per week while pregnant did not perform any worse on tests measuring IQ and executive functions.  Binge drinking, which meant having five or more drinks in one sitting, also did not have any significant negative effect on children five years later.

Drinking more than nine drinks per week, however, was linked to 5-year-olds' lower attention span.

In the study, the researchers defined a drink as having 12 grams of pure alcohol.  In the U.S., a drink is considered to have 14 grams of pure alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite the findings, the authors wrote that "the most conservative advice for women is not to drink alcohol during pregnancy" since there may still be adverse effects their research didn't uncover.

And in the U.S., government health agencies advocate total abstinence for expectant mothers, said Dr. Kimberly Fortner, assistant professor of maternal and fetal medicine at Vanderbilt University.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun082012

New Fetus Testing Shows Promise, Raises Ethical Questions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new breakthrough by genome scientists at the University of Washington could be a boon to parents of unborn babies in less than five years.

Ultimately, this would allow doctors to test the fetus for up to 3,500 genetic disorders and possibly replace the more invasive amniocentesis that tests for abnormalities in the unborn.

The researchers came upon the new method by mapping the entire genome of a fetus, which involved taking blood samples of a woman who was 18 weeks pregnant and saliva from her partner to map the fetus’s DNA.

After repeating the process with another couple, the University of Washington scientists were able to reconstruct the fetus' genetic code with 98 percent accuracy.

Jacob Kitzman, lead author of the study, said the new procedure can diagnose spina bifida and Down syndrome, the most common genetic disorders in the U.S. It's also believed to be safer than amniocentesis, which carries a certain degree of risk to the life of the unborn.

At the moment, the test is too expensive for widespread use and there are also ethical questions to be considered.

On this issue, Marcy Darnovsky with the public interest group Center for Genetics and Society says, "Researchers and doctors and genetics counselors have an important role to play in how these tests are used and then as a broader society it's really important that we start thinking about these questions."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun082012

Preterm Birth: A Public Health Crisis?

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Roughly 12 percent of American babies are born before 37 weeks gestation, a new study found, landing the U.S. in sixth place behind India, Nigeria and Pakistan when it comes to preterm births.

"Urgent attention is needed to better understand and reduce these rates of preterm birth," the study authors wrote in their report, published Thursday in The Lancet.

More than half of babies born at 25 weeks or sooner survive in the U.S., thanks to cutting edge care.  But it costs the country upward of $26.2 billion a year, or $51,600 per preterm infant, according to an editorial accompanying the study.

"The economic burden from preterm birth is, of course, of less importance than human suffering, but is far from insignificant," wrote Dr. Nils-Halvdan Morken of the University of Bergen and Haukeland University Hospital.  "Preterm birth not only results in economic burdens due to initial neonatal treatment, but also in substantial costs to health services after discharge from the neonatal unit, culminating in an immense burden on health, education, and social services, and on affected families."

Babies born at 27 weeks or sooner are 10 times more likely to have intellectual disabilities and 80 times more likely to have cerebral palsy, according to Morken.

"Clearly, the implications go far beyond the immediate obstetric and neonatal outcomes and profoundly affect the everyday lives of affected infants, adolescents, men, and women," he wrote.

But some preterm births are spontaneous and impossible to avoid.  Others are provider initiated, meaning a doctor decides it's best for both mom and baby.

"In some cases, the baby needs to come out.  It would be worse for them to stay in," Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, division chief of general obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.  "The medical team needs to weigh the risks and the benefits."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun072012

New Baby Genome Mapping to Detect Disorders in the Womb?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- A new, noninvasive procedure may one day allow women to test their unborn babies for more than 3,500 genetic disorders. It could perhaps replace amniocentesis, in which a probe is inserted through a woman’s abdomen, extracting a small amount of amniotic fluid to test for abnormalities in the fetus.

Scientists at the University of Washington took blood samples of a woman who was 18 weeks pregnant, and saliva from her partner to map the fetus’s DNA. The method was then repeated in another couple.

They then reconstructed the genetic code of the unborn baby, then tested the accuracy of the results by using umbilical cord blood after the baby was born.

“The primary significance of this is that…it may broaden the availability of genetic screening to more patients, while at the same time screening for much larger panels of disorders than can currently be detected,” said Jacob Kitzman, lead author of the study.

The new procedure can test for, among thousands of diseases, spina bifida and Down syndrome, the most common genetic disorders in the U.S., and is safer than amniocentesis.

“This is an incredible breakthrough with huge ethical implications,” said Art Caplan, a professor of medical ethics at University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.

Caplan said today’s amniocentesis testing was relatively “crude,” and new advances would allow more people to obtain reliable genetic information about their children.

Miscarriage is the primary risk of amniocentesis -- the uterus can become infected, the water can break or there’s premature labor.  The risk of miscarriage ranges from one in 400 to one in 200.

About 200,000 amniocentesis procedures are performed every year in the U.S., according to the Mayo Clinic, but “with accurate testing that poses no risk, this new form of genetic testing is likely to be offered to every women and family who is pregnant if the cost is low,” said Caplan.

While researchers said they don’t believe these findings will have an impact on genetic test in a clinical setting in the immediate future, they hope follow-up work will bring technical and methodological improvements that will allow for an easier-to-apply, more accurate and less costly version of the test.

When the time comes for the procedure to be used in a clinical setting though, Kitzman said clinicians would face the challenge of interpreting these results and communicating them with expectant parents -- both the results themselves and the uncertainties that come with them.

While these advances will help better understand risk factors for illness, Caplan predicted “they will be among the most controversial forms of testing ever to appear in medicine as the debate over abortion and disabilities both shift to whole genome genetic testing.”

While the ethical questions that have always surrounded prenatal testing will not disappear with the new procedure, Kitzman said the “noninvasive tests may provide some advantage by posing less potential risk to the fetus.”

"In my experience, full information for parents permits ethical decisions for a family,” said Dr. F. Sessions Cole, professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis. "A longer term ethical issue concerning the ability to predict disease development in later childhood or adulthood from fetal DNA will also need to be addressed. Hopefully, this new information will prompt development of nutritional, pharmacologic, behavioral, environmental, and other strategies to reduce genetic disease risk.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May182012

Obese and Pregnant: Dieting Safe for Mom, Baby

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- At a time when women are "eating for two," dieting can safely lower the health risks of obesity during pregnancy, according to a new study.

British researchers reviewed data from 44 trials involving 7,278 women to determine the safety and effectiveness of weight management programs during pregnancy.  Not only did the moms-to-be gain less weight, they also lowered their risk of dangerous complications.

"Dietary interventions were most effective in reducing complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and preterm delivery," the researchers wrote in their report, published Thursday in BMJ.

Babies benefited, too, as they were less likely to get stuck in the birth canal despite no difference in birth weight.

"There is no evidence that the interventions evaluated in our review or recommended in current clinical practice are associated with adverse maternal or fetal outcomes," the authors wrote.

Nearly half of U.S. women who are of child-bearing age are obese, according to a 2009 study in the Maternal and Child Health Journal.

The growing problem prompted Obese & Expecting, a TLC documentary that followed four obese women through complicated pregnancies and painful deliveries.  A scene from the special shows doctors struggling to give one woman an epidural through the fat in her back.

After several tries, the team gave up, deciding instead to give the woman a general anesthetic and a C-section.

"Going to sleep carries significant risks, even for a slim pregnant woman," said Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.  "And the risk goes up significantly in a woman who's overweight."

Obesity also compromises prenatal care, according to Greenfield.

"It's harder to provide excellent care to someone who's obese because a lot of things we do are not as accurate," said Greenfield, explaining how ultrasounds and other tests to gauge the baby's growth can be skewed by the mother's fat.  "It's also harder to feel the position of the baby."

The extra fat, and the fact that obesity can cause irregular periods, also means women might not immediately realize they're pregnant.

"If you don't know you're pregnant, you might not avoid things that are toxic, like alcohol, smoking and certain medications," said Greenfield, adding that prenatal vitamins are also important.  "And a lot of what we do in prenatal care depends on knowing exactly how far along a woman is.  If you don't have a sense of gestational age, it's harder to provide the right care."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May172012

'Obese & Expecting': Weight Ups Risks for Mom, Baby

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One more worry in the country's obesity crisis: a new documentary highlights the perils of extra pounds during pregnancy.

The TLC special, Obese & Expecting, follows four obese women through complicated pregnancies and painful deliveries that put mom and baby at risk.

"We know that obesity during pregnancy increases the risk of diabetes and preeclampsia," said Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. "And when the mom is big, the baby can be big, raising the risk of birth injury and C-section."

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A scene from the documentary shows doctors struggling to give one woman an epidural through the fat in her back.

"We spent 45 minutes attempting to put the spinal in," said Dr. Charles Hux, a New Jersey OB/GYN featured in the documentary. "With so many layers of fat, it's difficult to be certain that the needle went into the exact space it should go in."

After several tries, the team gave up, deciding instead to give the woman a general anesthetic and a C-section.

"Going to sleep carries significant risks, even for a slim pregnant woman," said Greenfield, calling the decision a last resort. "And the risk goes up significantly in a woman who's overweight."

Studies suggest nearly half of U.S. women who are of child-bearing age are obese, a problem that weighs heavily on doctors.

"It's harder to provide excellent care to someone who's obese because a lot of things we do are not as accurate," said Greenfield, explaining how ultrasounds and other tests to gauge the baby's growth can be skewed by the mother's fat. "It's also harder to feel the position of the baby."

That fat, and the fact that obesity can cause irregular periods, also means women might not realize they're pregnant.

"If you don't know you're pregnant, you might not avoid things that are toxic, like alcohol, smoking and certain medications," said Greenfield, adding that prenatal vitamins are also important. "And a lot of what we do in prenatal care depends on knowing exactly how far along a woman is. If you don't have a sense of gestational age, it's harder to provide the right care."

Obesity has also forced hospitals to adapt, adding delivery tables that can be made wider and hold up to 600 pounds, Greenfield said.

"The old tables only went up to 450 pounds," she said. "That's just not realistic anymore."

Weight gain during pregnancy is normal. But obese women should gain no more than 15 pounds, roughly half the amount recommended for women of normal weight.

"For someone with bad eating habits, that's going to be really hard," said Greenfield, describing how pregnancy cravings and the "eating for two" mentality can conspire to pack on the pounds. "Lifestyle change is always hard. But during pregnancy, I think women are more motivated to do it for themselves and their baby."

Obese & Expecting premiered Thursday night at 9 p.m. on TLC.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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