The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has published a scientific paper on flying during pregancy and concludes that there is no significant risk associated with air travel during pregnancy. Concerns of labour being triggered by air travel appear to be unfounded, as is fear of harm caused by radiation emitted from security scanners. Radiation levels in security equipment are so low as not to pose a risk.
During high altitude flight, the body undergoes physiological change and the levels of oxygen on aircraft are lower than when on the ground. Neither of these have an impact on a baby's development during pregnancy.
There is an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) to all air passengers but that risk remains the same for pregnant women. Pregnant women may also feel more uncomfortable than usual in the cramped conditions of a flight but that poses no health risk to their baby.
Although flying won't trigger an early labour, there is always a chance that women flying close to their due date may naturally fall into labour. That, and the higher chance of other obstetric emergencies occurring in the weeks preceding birth, lead the author of the research to suggest that the general policy of airlines not to carry passengers who are pregnant from 37 weeks gestation is sensible. Furthermore, women with increased risk of preterm labour, perhaps because of multiple births or other complications, should avoid air travel from 32 weeks onwards.
The research was carried out by Professor Ian Greer of the University of Liverpool and is published as an RCOG Scientific Impact Paper. Visit RCOG's website to read more about this study.
If women eat low fat yoghurt during pregnancy they could be putting their unborn child at risk. Recent reports have suggested that babies born of women who ate low fat yoghurt during pregnancy are more likely to develop asthma and hayfever (allergic rhinitis).
The findings were presented at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress. They were looking at whether fatty acids found in some dairy products could protect against the development of allergic diseases in children.
70,000 Danish women and their eating habits were analysed and then they were followed and tested until the children were seven years old. The researchers assessed milk and dairy intake during pregnancy and monitored the occurance of asthma and hayfever in the children.
Results demonstrated that milk intake during pregnancy was not associated with increased risk of developing asthma. In fact, it actively protected against asthma development.
What did show up was the fact that women who ate low-fat yoghurt with fruit once a day were 1.6-times more likely to have children who developed asthma by age 7. These findings are compared to those women who reported no intake during their pregnancy.
The reasoning behind the findings suggest that non-fat related nutrients in yoghurt could in fact contribute to increasing the risk.
Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have discovered that drinking during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth by three times. There have always been conflicting messages about how much or even whether women should or should not drink when they are expecting a baby, and this new research attempted to clarify the conflicting messages.
A staggering 60,000 women were questioned, all of which who were between 10 and 12 weeks pregnant. The results they gave were then tallied up and studied once they had had their babies. Those who drank more than 20 units a week were considered to be heavy drink drinkers, and it seems, they were more likely to have premature babies.
A fifth of the women said that they never drank and 71% claimed to be occasional drinkers (that's 0-5 units a week). However, some women could have been misreported or under-estimating their drinking habits. >10% of the pregnant women drank a moderate amount of alcohol (which is 6-20 units a week). These women were more likely to smoke, be in work and to have private health care compared to those who never drank.
Approximately 2 in 1000 admitted to being heavy drinkers (which means they drank more than 20 units per week). The babies born to these women we more prone to very premature birth and all the problems premature babies have.
The best advice is to avoid alcohol all together just to be sure!
A chemical present in some toothpastes and soaps has been linked with brain damage to babies in the womb. Scientists fear that pregnant women who are exposed to particularly high levels of the chemical triclosan, may be putting their babies at risk.
The findings suggest triclosan could disrupt blood flow to the uterus thus starving a baby’s brain of the oxygen it needs to develop properly. Urgent investigations into the dangers to unborn babies have been called for. Triclosan is a powerful anti-bacterial chemical that was developed nearly 50 years ago. It is often used in toothpastes, deodorants and liquid soaps as well as washing-up liquid and anti-bacterial chopping boards.
Latest studies on sheep showed it interferes with an enzyme that allows the hormone oestrogen to circulate in the womb which helps keep open the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood to the foetus. If there is too little, this artery narrows and oxygen supplies are depleted. In the UK, the chemical’s use is covered by the EU Cosmetics Directive, which says it is safe to use to the maximum content of 0.3 per cent. GlaxoSmithKline has phased out triclosan in its Aquafresh and Sensodyne toothpaste. It is still used in Colgate Total.
Despite assurances, it has been suggested that pregnant women avoid triclosan... just to be sure.
Denise Van Outen says that since having baby Betsy last May, her feet have grown from a size 5 to size 6 and she has had to give away all her designer shoes as they simply don't fit any more!
Apparently this is not unusual for pregnant women to experience a change in the size of their feet once the baby is born. Up to 75% of women experience some change in shoe size. For most it's a half size bigger, but for some its a whole shoe size, so new foot wear is essential.
The phenomenon can be the result of edema, the way in which a mother's body retains fluid while they are pregnant. For most women, the fluids are released gradually over time, and their regular size returns within a couple of weeks. When it comes to feet it can actually be that the feet are just flatter, rather than larger. This is down to the hormone relaxing which occurs during pregnancy in order to expand the body while the baby is growing, allowing the baby to be accommodated within the hips and ribcage...essentially it is so the baby fits in (and can get out!) of the mother's body!
A tearful Holly Willoughby blamed her pregnancy and hormones for bursting into tears on This Morning a few days ago when she was presented with a huge, gorgeous, pink rose-covered cake and birthday balloons live on air. In front of millions of views on BBC’s morning programme, she simply couldn’t hold back the tears when co-presenter Philip Schofield wished her Happy Birthday.
Why should this happen? Why do normally sane and level-headed ladies suddenly burst into tears at the most unexpected moments just because they are pregnant?
Part of the reason is that soaring levels of pregnancy hormones are present in the body when a woman is expecting a baby. There are so many changes going on that you can’t even see or necessarily understand and this can effect the chances of crying or feeling particularly emotional.
What do to:
- Let it out! Don’t be embarrassed or hard on yourself! You are pregnant and its is a side effect!
- Chat to a friend or family member and talk about it.
- Try to have a rest and try some relaxation techniques to help with the emotions.
Suffering from morning sickness could indicate that your baby is going to have a high IQ, so research in Canada has discovered. Scientists looked at a sample of 120 mothers who had phoned a special helpline for women who felt particularly ill or nauseous during pregnancy. It was entitled the NVP (Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy) helpline.
Specialists in the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto concluded that babies born to women with symptoms of nausea tended to have babies with a higher IQ than those who did not experience nausea.
Tests were carried out on children aged between 3 and 7 that included numeracy and verbal fluency. The findings suggest that those whose mothers had experienced morning sickness during pregnancy did better in the tests!
The achievements of those babies whose mothers had not had nausea were found to achieve lower results.
The research leader, Dr Gideon Koen reiterated it did not suggest mental retardation by any means, it just suggested a slightly higher IQ.
For many women, morning sickness can be dreadfully debilitating and indeed embarrassing. It is supposed to be only a symptom during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy - this is often not the case and it continues throughout the pregnancy. And, it is known as morning sickness, but for so many it is not confined to the mornings at all!
So, for all those women who endure the horrors of morning (or evening or daytime) sickness, these findings are a small consolation!
New, and slightly worrying research, suggests that having a healthy diet containinging plenty of fibre has a detrimental effect on your chances of having a baby. This is something women trying for a baby will be horrified to hear.
Wholemeal bread, brown pasta and brown rice when eaten in large quantities seem to effect the hormone levels of women and therefore may impact on fertility levels. The more wholemeal food women ate, the lower the levels of vital hormones that influence the reproduction process.
The research was carried out in America, using a sample of 250 women of childbearing age, over a two year period. They made two important discoveries when looking at the women and their fibre intake:
- Hormone levels were less in those with a high fibre diet
- There was an increase in something called anovulation (which is when a women goes through her menstrual cycle but her ovaries fail to release an egg)
Anovulation is known to occur when hormone levels drop due to anxiety, stress or extreme exercise.
This is the first time that a healthy diet has been deemed to impact on a person in a negative way. Serious claims!
Should you eat nuts during pregnancy? Recent advice has changed again and now the answer is yes, you can!
Until recently pregnany and breast-feeding women were advised to avoid peanuts in order to reduce the risk of their child developing a penut allergy. However, in August 2009 the British Government revised their advice and now states that there is no clear link between eating peanuts and childhood peanut allergies. This refers only to peanuts – also known as monkey nuts and ground nuts – and does not affect other foods which may trigger allergic reactions such as wheat, dairy products or other varieties of nut.
Further research has been commissioned to improve how and under what conditions the allergies develop. We wait to hear the results of the latest tests, but in the meantime, it seems advice says you can choose to do so, as long as its part of a healthy, balanced diet and you're not allergic to peanuts yourself!
In America peanuts are not deterred during pregnancy, instead they are encouraged as a good source of protein. And in Australia the Department of Health says there's no evidence of your baby developing a peanut allergy if you eat peanuts when pregnant or breast feeding.
So, if you fancy some peanut butter or want to nibble a few nuts at a party then governments, all over the world, say you can!