Entries in Prenatal (4)


Prenatal Vitamins a Must for Kate Middleton

Samir Hussein/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- All pregnant women should take a prenatal vitamin, but it’s particularly important for someone like Kate Middleton, who has struggled to keep food down.

“Prenatals help to cover any areas of a mommy-to-be’s diet where she may not be eating important nutrients that are needed for baby’s development,” said pharmacist Sarah G. Khan of

Khan said a good prenatal pill should contain three big nutrients: folic acid, iron, and DHA/EPA.  She also recommended that all pregnant women take an additional calcium and vitamin D supplement because the fetus steals calcium from the mom to construct its skeleton.

A new JAMA report also highlighted the importance of prenatal folic acid. 

Using data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, researchers found that mothers who took folic acid four weeks before and eight weeks after pregnancy had a 40 percent reduced risk of giving birth to a child with autism.  That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that folic acid taken during pregnancy will result in fewer autism cases.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Safer Down Syndrome Test Hits Market Monday

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Starting Monday, moms-to-be can opt for a safer prenatal test for Down syndrome -- a genetic condition marked by mental retardation and early death that affects one in 691 babies.

MaterniT21, developed by San Diego-based biotech company Sequenom, can detect fetal DNA in the mother’s blood as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. That DNA reveals whether the fetus has the extra copy of chromosome 21 that causes Down syndrome.

Current prenatal tests, which require a sample of either amniotic fluid or placenta, are more invasive and carry a small risk of fetal injury or miscarriage.

“We believe that the MaterniT21 [test] will provide physicians and their patients with critical new information to help them make better informed decisions about the patients’ healthcare and pregnancies,” Sequenom CEO Harry Hixson Jr. said in a statement.

In a Sequenom-sponsored study, MaterniT21 spotted 209 of 212 Down syndrome cases -- a feat researchers say would save lives.

“This method can substantially reduce the need for invasive diagnostic procedures and attendant procedure-related fetal losses,” the study authors wrote in a report published Monday in the journal Genetics in Medicine.

But some experts worry the safer test could lead to more screening and more terminated pregnancies.

“The number of American women who will have to grapple with this information prenatally will substantially increase,” Dr. Brian G. Skotko of the Down syndrome program at Children’s Hospital Boston told The New York Times.

While MaterniT21 correctly identified 98.6 percent of Down syndrome cases, it incorrectly identified three of 1,471 normal fetuses as having the disorder, earning it a false positive rate of 0.2 percent. The existing tests -- amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling -- have a false positive rate of up to five percent.

The risk of Down syndrome increases with maternal age, rising from one in 1,250 for a 25-year-old to roughly one in 100 for a 40-year-old. Sequenom said it developed the test for the estimated 750,000 high-risk pregnancies in the U.S. each year.

Like similar tests used to determine unborn babies’ sex or paternity, MaterniT21 has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Folic Acid in Pregnancy Cuts Risk of Language Delay

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OSLO, Norway) -- Taking extra folic acid in the weeks leading up to and just following getting pregnant could reduce the risk of the child having severe language delay, according to new research from Norway.

The study tracked the use of folic acid supplements and other supplements in nearly 40,000 expectant women and their children and found that those women who took folic acid in the four weeks prior to and eight weeks after conception had children who were about half as likely to experience severe language delay at age 3.  Toddlers who could only speak in one word or unintelligible utterance were rated as having severe language delay.

Folic acid, also known as folate, is a type of vitamin B found in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans, and liver.  Folic acid is an essential vitamin the body needs for proper functioning, particularly during the first few weeks of life.

Folic acid is known to be an important prenatal nutrient and has been tied to reduced birth defects and a lowered risk of premature birth when taken by expectant mother.  This study is the first to suggest that this nutrient is specifically related to severe language delay.

“If in future research this relationship were shown to be causal, it would have important implications for understanding the biological processes underlying disrupted neurodevelopment, for the prevention of neurodevelopmental disorders, and for policies of folic acid supplementation for women of reproductive age,” study author Christine Roth of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, writes.

The study was published Tuesday in the October issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fetal and Birth-Related Complications May Be Linked to Autism

Photodisc/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Pooling the results of 40 previously published studies, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have identified conditions in the womb and just after birth that may be linked to autism.

After examining more than 60 prenatal and neonatal risk factors, they found that more than 15 were associated with an increased risk of autism.  Among them were: umbilical-cord complications, fetal distress, birth injury, maternal hemorrhage, low birth weight, congenital malformations, feeding difficulties, neonatal anemia, and a low 5-minute Apgar score.

The authors of the study, published Monday in Pediatrics, concluded that “there is insufficient evidence to implicate any one perinatal or neonatal factor in autism etiology, although there is some evidence to suggest that exposure to a broad class of conditions reflecting general compromises to perinatal and neonatal health may increase the risk.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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