I often get emails from pregnant women, their partners or family members asking some variation of this question: “Do I need to worry about this?” Sometimes “this” is first trimester discharge, or low abdominal cramping, or second trimester spotting.
I was listening recently to an episode of Fresh Air on NPR in which the show's host, Terry Gross, interviewed journalist Elisabeth Rosenthal on the high price of healthcare, and in which the two women spent quite a lot of time discussing US childbirth costs.
Genetic testing made headlines last week when Angelina Jolie announced her double mastectomies. Knowing she carried a gene that dramatically increased her odds for developing cancer, she chose to remove both breasts preventatively. Would she definitely have gotten cancer if she hadn’t had surgery? No. Does her surgery guarantee she won’t get it? No. What does this have to do with pregnancy? Plenty.
In just four more weeks, I’ll already be halfway through my pregnancy. I can’t believe it. I mentioned in an earlier blog that time seemed to be going pretty slowly, and in a way, it still feels that way (waiting for the belly to pop!). But realistically, it is going by just as fast as everyone said it would.
Located in your neck, the thyroid gland produces hormones that affect metabolism, breathing, heart and nervous system functions, body temperature and more. During your pregnancy, your baby is entirely dependent on receiving thyroid hormone—which plays a large role in fetal brain and nervous system development—from you for the first trimester.
A couple in Portland, OR just won a wrongful birth lawsuit because their genetic testing was flawed and they delivered a daughter (now 4-years-old) with Down’s syndrome. Mom was just shy of 35-years-old when she got pregnant so they opted for genetic testing. When test results determined their fetus was normal they continued with their pregnancy and delivered a healthy newborn baby girl. Healthy, that is, exc
Last spring, as the tsunami-damaged reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began leaking radioactive particles, that nation’s pregnant women ran for the hills—or at least for faraway cities like Osaka. Moms-to-be in the U.S. are safely distant from fallout or food contamination, but what about X-rays and their high-energy ionizing radiation that damages DNA? Or the low-energy microwave radiation from cellphones and Wi-Fi? Here are some guidelines for a safer pregnancy:
Prenatal testing can be a multi-edged sword. Usually, test results are reassuring, which puts expectant parents’ minds at ease. But some people argue that because birth defects are rare, these tests in most cases cause undue stress; others argue that they allow people to create “designer” children. Then there are the parents who discover very real, sometimes dire, problems with their babies and face the decision of whether to keep or terminate a pregnancy.
Experts agree that both hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) and hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) are a threat to pregnancy. However, they differ in whether all pregnant women should be screened for these disorders. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says you don’t need to be tested unless you have symptoms or a history of thyroid disease. Others argue that because screening is relatively inexpensive and simple—and has such a potentially profound effect—all pregnant women should be screened.
Starting with the drugstore kit that confirms you’re expecting, you’ll undergo scores of screenings, urinalyses, ultrasounds and other tests during pregnancy. Yet few expectant women undergo thyroid testing, a fact that disturbs some experts. When moms-to-be with thyroid problems go untreated, they’re more likely to have pregnancy complications, and their children may be at risk for decreased IQ.