Low Birth Weight

Mamas on Bedrest: Could Taking Vitamin D have Prevented My Pregnancy Problems?

February 21st, 2014

TGIF Mamas!!!

I presented the Teleseminar yesterday, “Do You or Don’t You Need Vitamin D”, and I have to say that I was blown away by all that I learned in researching the topic.  The role of Vitamin D in overall health is still under investigation, but what I found in my research to be the general consensus is this:

  • ks15435wVitamin D is important in that is aids in the intestinal absorption of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, phosphate and zinc.
  • Vitamin D does not appear to “cure” anything, but in “adequate levels” in the blood, it seems to augment many bodily systems and functions so as to help ward off disease
  • Vitamin D levels need to be at the recommended levels all the time and before illness begins to be of most benefit.
  • Adequate Vitamin D levels definitely improve bone health in conjunction with adequate calcium levels.
  • Adequate Vitamin D levels in Pregnancy seem to prevent pre-eclampsia and preterm labor. Low levels are associated with Gestational Diabetes, Pre-eclampsia and Low birth weight in infants.
  • Most vitamins on the market don’t contain enough Vitamin D, including most prenatal vitamins. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults take 2000IU-4000IU Vitamin Daily. Most vitamins contain 600IU
  • The Institute of Medicine and the March of Dimes both recommend that pregnant women take 4000IU of Vitamin D Daily
  • Target blood levels are 50 nmol/l according to the Institute of Medicine. However, the International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that individuals with risk factors for osteoporosis aim for blood levels around 75nmol/l.
  • Dark-skinned people are more likely to be Vitamin D deficient because the melanin in our skin does not allow in the sun rays needed to convert cholesterol to Vitamin D in the body. Dark Skinned people should take a Vitamin D supplement because as on researcher said, “Black and brown people are urged to take Vitamin D supplements. There is very little potential risk for harm and the potential benefits are significant.”

 

I first had my Vitamin D level checked in 2009 when I was feeling awful and my doctor was trying to figure out why I was so tired and listless. At that time, my Vitamin D level was 23 nmol/l, well below the recommended 50 nmol/l. I have been taking Vitamin D ever since and now have a level of 53 nmol/l, down from my last year’s check up of 59 nmol/l.  And I have to admit, I have been feeling good and some days, “I just didn’t get around to taking my vitamins”. Well, the dip in my Vitamin D level and learning all of this research has made a believer out of me!

This whole debate really got me thinking. I don’t know how long I had been Vitamin D deficient, but according to what I have read, it may be for most of my life given that I am a dark-skinned black woman born and raised in Massachusetts. As it relates to pregnancy, I wonder if my low Vitamin D levels have anything to do with me developing uterine fibroids? One of the effects of low vitamin D in pregnant women is preterm labor which seems to be due to uterine irritability and/or placental inflammation. Well, fibroids certainly were irritating my uterus! Lost a pregnancy before having them out. Then got pregnant with my daughter and had some spotting, “cramping” (which I now know was preterm contractions) and ended up delivering her at 36 weeks and 6 days at 5 lbs 3 oz (low birth weight). If I had started taking Vitamin D at age 29 when I was first diagnosed with fibroids, would I have had the problems with my uterus/fibroids? Would I have had the miscarriage? Would my daughter have been born early and small?

I know that there are far too many variables to even make this a plausible argument. Likewise, my daughter is now 11 and I had a healthy term baby after her (well, actually after a second miscarriage!). So would Vitamin D have made a difference? I’ll never know. But it’s like the researcher alluded, Taking Vitamin D would not have hurt me and most likely would have helped me. I can’t take back what happened as I was childbearing, but I can and will regularly take 4000 IU Vitamin D daily to keep my immune system working “happily” (there is some talk that a happy immune system is “immune” to developing cancer!), to keep my bones strong and to lower my risk of falls, to ward off autoimmune diseases and to help stave off Diabetes.

Mamas, I am sure that many of you are unsure of whether or not to take vitamin D supplements. Discuss these findings with your doctor or a nutritionist. The evidence is mounting that taking Vitamin D supplements is a good thing for most people. Find out if its a good thing for you! There isn’t much if any risk of injury or harm, and yet taking Vitamin D can do much to improve your overall health. Investigate this for yourself!

I am working on the recording and will make it available soon.  If you have questions or comments about Vitamin D, ask me in the comments section below. I have compiled a lot of information and a great resource for Vitamin D supplements and will gladly share!

 

Mamas on Bedrest: Using Technology to Improve Birth Outcomes

February 5th, 2014

It’s Video Wednesday!!! Today we’re talking about using technology to improve birth outcomes.

Advances in technology are making it easier and easier for medical professionals to connect with patients and eachother.  In this vlog I cite a study done via the University of Arkansas which shows that telemedicine, where one physician shares his case with other physicians via technology and receives input and expertise, is improving health outcomes. While most of us are on board with our smart phones, tablets, laptops and pc’s, the health care industry is lagging behind and just coming up to speed with electronic medical records, electronic communications with patients and now, telemedicine.  But even as the US healthcare system scampers to catch up, the benefits of technology in medicine are already glaringly apparent and will continue to shape how health care is delivered in this country.

Mamas on Bedrest: November is Prematurity Awareness Month

November 6th, 2013

November is Prematurity Awareness month.

In this video blog, Bedrest Coach Darline Turner highlights the importance of this campaign initiated by the March of Dimes to raise awareness of and to reduce preterm labor and premature births. The March of Dimes does an excellent job of presenting the statistics regarding prematurity and offering some solutions to slow and reverse the occurence of preterm births. Darline highlights these statistics but also emphasizes the need for increased support and compassion towards women who have high risk pregnancies. As any Mama on Bedrest can tell you, there is not any sort of regular support for high risk pregnant women and when a mama is put on bed rest, life comes to a grinding halt and there are few if any resources available to help a mama and her family keep life on track. This is where Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond is striving to make a difference; to alleviate the logistical as well as the emotional fall out that occurs when a mama is placed on bed rest with a supportive community and educational tools and resources. So while it is crucial that we all are aware of and understand the largeness of the prematurity issue, its also important not to forget that in the midst of the numbers and research going towards alleviating the causes of preterm labor and prematurity, we cannot forget the human side-the necessary care and compassion that must be bestowed upon mamas and their families.