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Folate in Pregnancy

by Maxine
Posted July 23 2010 01:30pm
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Experts have found that mothers who have adequate levels of folic acid in their bodies may be less likely to give birth to children with neural tube defects (NTDs). As well, folate may also help in preventing a number of other health problems that can be experienced during pregnancy, including anemia, birth defects, and complications such as preeclampsia and spontaneous abortion. After the birth of a child, folate may also help a mother’s body get ready sooner for another pregnancy.

Although it occurs naturally in food, a typical woman of childbearing age gets just 0.2 mg of folic acid through diet alone. Because many pregnancies are unplanned and NTDs occur very early in a pregnancy—often before a woman knows she’s pregnant—experts recommend that all women of childbearing age take in between 0.4 mg and 1.0 mg of folic acid every day. And women who suffer from epilepsy and diabetes or who have a family history of NTDs should take in more, as much as 5.0mg daily. After giving birth, many women appear to suffer folate deficiency for as long as 6 months; these women, in particular, should think about supplementation. However, always consult your doctor before starting folate supplements. Folic acid levels that are too high can possibly lead to an increased risk of multiple births, neurological disorders, and breast cancer.

With a little preventative action, such as storing food in the fridge in tightly covered containers and cooking in small amounts of water for as little time as possible, folic acid can be preserved in the foods we eat. 

Excellent sources of folate include: 

Cooked fava, kidney, roman, soy and white beans, lima beans, chickpeas and lentils, spinach, asparagus, orange juice, canned pineapple juice, peanuts, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, romaine lettuce, enriched pasta and bagels made with enriched flour.

Good sources of folate include: 

Cooked corn, sprouted mung beans, broccoli, green peas, brussel sprouts, beets, oranges, melons, avocado, eggs, walnuts, cashews and English muffins made with enriched flour.

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Why should I be concerned if I am pregnant and have a cat?

by Maxine
Posted July 26 2010 08:47pm
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Most cats, even if they are an indoor cat, have been exposed to a parasite that can cause a condition called Toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite called toxoplasma gondii. People may get this disease by accidentally swallowing cat feces, eating contaminated foods, i.e., meat or water, or using cooking utensils that have become contaminated. In pregnant women or people with a poor immune system it may cause a flu-like illness, or not. You can have this condition and not know it.

  • If this disease develops while a woman is pregnant it can cause severe harm to her baby’s development. If you have a cat, the best way to avoid toxoplasmosis is to: Wash your hands after handling your cat every time, because the parasite may linger on the fur.
  • Avoid the kitty litter – let someone else look after the litter box, if this is not possible then wear rubber gloves and wash your hands well immediately after changing the litter.
  • Clean your kitty litter daily as it takes several days for the parasite to become infectious.

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Prenatal Dental Care

by Guest
Posted August 9 2010 10:55am
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Everyone knows that it’s important to take good care of your teeth. But, good dental hygiene is even more important for during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your changing hormone levels and possible morning sickness can affect her teeth and gums. If not given adequate care and attention, poor dental health can affect not only you, but also your baby.

The following guidelines will limit the dental problems you might have during your pregnancy.

  • Brush and floss regularly; this means brushing after each meal or snack with a small pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once a day.
  • Regular visits to the dentist should also be a part of good dental care. The second trimester (3 to 6 months) is usually the best time to receive routine care, although dental x-rays should be postponed until after your baby is born.
  • If experiencing morning sickness, always rinse your mouth out with water or a mouth rinse after vomiting, but wait 30 minutes before brushing. The stomach acids from vomiting combined with brushing may erode your tooth enamel.

Do you know the meaning of the word “gingivitis”? Gingivitis is a mild form of gum (periodontal) disease affecting 9 out of every 10 Canadians at some time in their lives, and about half of all pregnant women. Signs include red, swollen and bleeding gums. Left untreated, gingivitis can result in more advanced gum disease, which might cause you to lose teeth and have permanent gum damage.

The good news – gingivitis is reversible. All it takes is a little time and effort. By brushing and flossing correctly and, if necessary, receiving a scaling and cleaning from a hygienist, you can get her dental health back on track.

You’ve learned how gingivitis can directly affect you, but do you realize that it can also affect your unborn baby? This is true. Recent studies showed that expectant mothers with gingivitis during pregnancy are more likely to have preterm low birth weight babies. Another study showed that expectant moms with gum disease who received a scaling and cleaning had significantly fewer preterm babies than those with gum disease who were not treated.

There are other very important reasons for expectant moms to pay close attention to their dental health as well. During the first trimester (more so than later in pregnancy), the bacteria caused by the plaque on your teeth can move through the blood to the placenta and interact with hormones that can trigger premature labour. Be aware that periodontal disease may also contribute to high blood pressure during pregnancy. This is known as preeclampsia.

Below is a list of associations that can be of help.

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Smoking & Pregnancy

by Guest
Posted August 1 2010 02:41pm
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Now that you're pregnant, taking care of yourselves has never been more important. It's especially important to avoid or give up smoking, alcohol and other harmful drugs. Not only can they affect your health, but also your unborn baby's health and development.

Read on to learn about the many harmful effects of smoking, drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. We've also included a few important tips to help you cut down or quit their use.

If you smoke while you're pregnant, you're harming your health and that of your baby. The nicotine found in cigarettes narrows your blood vessels, making it harder for oxygen-carrying blood to get through to your baby's developing organs. Carbon monoxide, a compound in smoke, also reduces the amount of oxygen carried by the blood to your baby. As a result, smoking can cause the following problems during pregnancy:

  • Miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death
  • Placental problems and bleeding
  • Poor growth of the baby
  • Preterm birth

If you continue smoking during your pregnancy, it's possible for your baby to be born too soon or smaller than average. It's also possible for your baby to die or have health problems, learning disorders, visual problems, respiratory illnesses and cerebral palsy. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke in the home or workplace, your baby may also be at risk for these problems as well.

If you would like to quit smoking, here are some helpful tips to get you started. You can:

  • Quit, even if it's late in your pregnancy. Quitting or decreasing even late in pregnancy can improve birth weight.
  • Call your local health department, community centre or healthcare provider for further information about programs in your area.
  • Attend a stop smoking program.
  • Line up people to support you in trying to achieve your goal. Starting to smoke again is always a danger, and is more likely without good support.
  • Strongly encourage your other family members to stop smoking around you.

Remember that smoking is an addiction that is difficult to overcome. It may take you several attempts before you succeed. People who try to quit require a great deal of support.

Here are some more tips on how you can quit smoking

Acknowledgement
Adapted with permission from 'Prevention of Low Birth Weight in Canada: Literature Review and Strategies,' 2nd edition (1998), Best Start Resource Centre.

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