Mamas on Bedrest: A Step Closer to “Curing” Pre-Eclampsia!

October 20th, 2014

IMG_3750 1x13Mamas, Exciting News!!

Researchers at the Center for Perinatal Research at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio have identified a Urine test that detects proteins in pregnant mamas’ urine that indicate pre-eclampsia. Pre-Eclampsia is one of the most common reasons mamas are prescribed bed rest, and one of the leading causes of preterm labor, prematurity and even death in mamas globally. This new finding is significant because this current research shows that pre-eclampsia, more specifically the proteins found in the urine of pregnant women with pre-eclampsia, are also associated with diseases of neurodegenerative diseases of aging such as Parkinson’s Disease, Mad Cow Disease and Alzheimers Disease.

Dr. Irina Buhimschi, director of the Center for Perinatal Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio and lead author of the paper. While Dr. Buhimschi admits that this is definitely a huge breakthrough in pre-eclampsia research, she admits that physicians and researchers are still no closer to knowing why some women develop pre-eclampsia and why others don’t. Pre-eclampsia is still responsible for some 75,000 deaths annually, mostly in poorer, developing nations. The proteins noted in mamas’ urine are now easily identified with a simple and inexpensive urine test called the Congo Red Dot Test. This simple test merely requires that clinicians place a small amount of urine on a test paper and if a large red dot develops, they know that the urine contains proteins indicative of pre-eclampsia.While we have reported on the Congo Red Dot test previously, a simple test like the Congo Red Dot test could really be a breakthough in treatment in these areas and significantly lower maternal mortality.

Brenda Torigiani's feet at 7 months.Pre-Eclampsia is diagnosed when a mama has high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Mamas will also often experience facial and extremity swelling. Left untreated, pre-eclampsia leads to dizziness, visual changes, seizures, stroke, swelling and weight gain, organ (kidney) failure and death. Pre-Eclampsia is a leading cause of preterm delivery, yet once the baby and placenta are delivered, mama’s symptoms resolve.

The connection between pre-eclampsia and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers has yet to be determined. Additionally, no one yet knows if women who develop pre-eclampsia are at greater risk for developing Alzheimers or Parkinson’s Diseases or have some sort of protection. These questions will definitely have to be answered in subsequent research. In the meantime, having a low technology, easy to perform and inexpensive test to screen for pre-eclampsia may well reduce the maternal mortality associated with it tremendously worldwide. Even here in the US, this low lost, low tech test, performed early, may enable obstetricians to begin treating women early with antihypertensive medications and ward off the more serious signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia. The next step-or perhaps leap-is that perhaps them mamas who have pre-eclampsia may not need to be placed on bed rest-so long as their blood pressures are stabilized on medications, they are no longer spilling proteins into their urine and they are not having any signs of seizure, stroke or organ failure. Finally, combining these findings with the Pluristem Technology, and yes, we may in fact be on the way to eradicating pre-eclampsia!!

Reference: MacLean’s Digital Magazine

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Mamas on Bedrest: Breastfeeding Cuts Breast Cancer Risks in Black Women

October 13th, 2014

Black Baby BreastfeedingHi Mamas,

We all know that “Breast is Best”! Yet in this country, many women are still unaware of the benefits of breastfeeding. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Black community where the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that only 62% of African American mothers initiated breastfeeding as of 2010 data. By 6 months, only 32% of those mothers were still breastfeeding. So while lactation consultants and others will continue to promote breastfeeding citing the benefits to the baby, there is now an equally significant reason to promote breastfeeding in African American Mamas: Breastfeeding likely protects African American women against Estrogen Receptor negative breast cancer.

Estrogen Receptor negative breast cancer is a very aggressive form of breast cancer and African American women are affected at a disproportionately higher rate than white women. While breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, this has previously only been shown in Estrogen Receptor positive cancers. According to this current study, African American women who have given birth had a 33% higher risk for ER-negative breast cancer than those who had never given birth, and a 37% higher risk for triple-negative breast cancer. However, breast-feeding lowered the risk for both ER-negative and triple-negative disease. Christine Ambrosone, PhD, chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York summarizes the findings this way:

“These data might partially explain why black women are disproportionately affected by ER-negative breast cancer; although they typically have more children than white women, they have a lower prevalence of lactation. In addition, for every age category in the United States, the incidence of triple-negative breast cancer is higher in black women than in non-Hispanic white women.”

Some researchers are skeptical of the findings, stating that it has yet to be determined that pregnancy is causative of Estrogen Receptor Negative Breast Cancer and breastfeeding reduces risk. However, Dr. Ambrose and her colleagues hold firm that their data suggest that pregnancy and childbirth might actually increase the incidence, but that breast-feeding might lower the risk.

Personally, I feel that since such a simple act could have such a significant outcome, it only makes sense to increase awareness and increase the emphasis among African American women to breastfeed. To date, there is no compelling reason for black women NOT to breastfeed. Now, with the known potential benefits to the baby and the ever emerging benefits to black mamas-now a potential protection against an aggressive form of breast cancer-breastfeeding is becoming more of a necessity than ever!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Mamas, please share this vital information with other (black) mamas you may know who are either on the fence about breastfeeding or who are against breastfeeding. This data is too important not to share! The potential costs are too great and the solution too simple and readily available. Thank you. Let me know how you fared in the comments section below.

References: 

Medscape OB/GYN and Women’s Health

Julie R. Palmer, Emma Viscidi, Melissa A. Troester, Chi-Chen Hong, Pepper Schedin, Traci N. Bethea, Elisa V. Bandera, Virginia Borges, Craig McKinnon, Christopher A. Haiman, Kathryn Lunetta, Laurence N. Kolonel, Lynn Rosenberg, Andrew F. Olshan and Christine B. Ambrosone. “Parity, Lactation, and Breast Cancer Subtypes in African American Women: Results from the AMBER Consortium” Journal of the National Cancer institute (2014) 106 (10): dju237

Mamas on Bedrest: PublicHealth.org’s Prenatal Care Guide

October 6th, 2014

Good Monday Morning, Mamas!

Today’s post is a review of the prenatal care guide published by PublicHealth.org. PublicHealth.org is an organization that works to provide the public information about a variety of health care issues. They research their topics and try to provide the most current data and additional, useful information for both consumers and researchers alike. They asked me to share with you their resource on prenatal care and so here is my review on the guide.

Now you may be reclined in your bed thinking, Darline, why the *&^( do I need a guide on prenatal care?? I’m already pregnant and on bedrest for heavens sake! Well, I decided to share this guide with you all because many of you will go on to have subsequent pregnancies after this one and it is critical that you prepare your self-physically and emotionally-for that pregnancy.

At first glance, I find that it has a decent overview of things to be on the look out for before, during and after pregnancy. They broke the guide down into

  • Provider options
  • Nutrition and lifestyle changes
  • First, Second and Third Trimester Changes
  • Newborn Care
  • Post partum care

However, this guide is more like a checklist of things to be on the lookout for, to talk with your provider about and some things that you can do for yourself than an actual, practical guide. While the information provided was useful, I personally didn’t feel like there was enough explanation or information provided for most of the topics listed.  And I feel many topics, very important tops, were omitted.

Now admittedly, I am a self professed data (and detail) head, so I more, “the meat of the matter”. But (for example) to list the recommendation for folic acid and not give even a brief explanation as to why folic acid is important (for the prevention of neural tube defects {holes along the spinal column} or Spina Bifida) I feel is incomplete information. I find it frustrating to have something mentioned, but no explantation given about it’s use or function. Much of the information provided is in this format. But providing a list without much explanation really isn’t very helpful.

Another example. They have a section, “What foods should Pregnant mothers avoid” and they gave a brief list of foods to avoid. But what about foods mothers should add or increase. like foods high in Calcium and iron? What about talking about eating several small meals a day to help ease nausea? There was no mention on this aspect of nutrition.

As a public health organization, I would have expected a discussion of taking the flu shot while pregnant, genetic testing and more on the prenatal tests already being done.

And the biggest negative for me: NO MENTION OF BED REST!!!

But this guide (to my understanding) is free and as such, isn’t an awful starting point for mamas to begin learning what to expect during their pregnancies. However, it really is just a starting point. I would highly recommend mamas who are serious about taking extremely good care of themselves through the prenatal period take a look at this guide, but them continue their research with books like, “What to Expect When Expecting” “Our Bodies Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth”, Henci Goer’s “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Childbirth”, “Optimal Care in Childbirth” and others provide (Like our blog!!) much more information so that mamas can make informed healthcare choices for themselves and their babies. 

So do take a look because I feel that there are never too many resources. However, know that as you read through this guide, you are likely going to have more questions and will need to seek out other, more complete resources, for answers.