Global Women’s Health

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: It’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month

August 4th, 2014

nursing infantGreetings Mamas!!

August kicks off National Breastfeeding Awareness Month here in the US. Officially designated on August 6, 2011 by the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), the month of educational and promotional activities is designed to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding-physiologically for mamas, developmentally for babies, emotionally for both and economically for families.  Here is the full proclamation. Breastfeeding has been reported to have the following benefits. In Babies

  • Breast milk is widely acknowledged as the most complete form of nutrition for infants, with a range of benefits for infants’ health, growth, immunity and development. (Healthy People 2010, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Breast-fed children are more resistant to disease and infection early in life than formula-fed children. Many studies show that breastfeeding strengthens the immune system. During nursing, the mother passes antibodies to the child, which help the child resist diseases and help improve the normal immune response to certain vaccines. Breast-fed children are less likely to contract a number of diseases later in life, including juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and cancer before the age of 15
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese as adults
  • Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the likelihood of ear infections, and to prevent recurrent ear infections. Ear infections are a major reason that infants take multiple courses of antibiotics.
  • Researchers have observed a decrease in the probability of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in breast-fed infants.
  • Another apparent benefit from breastfeeding may be protection from allergies. Eczema, an allergic reaction, is significantly rarer in breast-fed babies. A review of 132 studies on allergy and breastfeeding concluded that breastfeeding appears to help protect children from developing allergies, and that the effect seems to be particularly strong among children whose parents have allergies.

In Mamas

  • Breastfeeding helps a woman to lose weight after birth.
  • Breastfeeding releases a hormone in the mother (oxytocin) that causes the uterus to return to its normal size more quickly.
  • When a woman gives birth and proceeds to nurse her baby, she protects herself from becoming pregnant again too soon, a form of birth control found to be 98 percent effective — more effective than a diaphragm or condom. Scientists believe this process prevents more births worldwide than all forms of contraception combined. In Africa, breastfeeding prevents an estimated average of four births per woman, and in Bangladesh it prevents an estimated average of 6.5 births per woman.
  • Breastfeeding appears to reduce the mother’s risk of developing osteoporosis in later years. Although mothers experience bone-mineral loss during breastfeeding, their mineral density is replenished and even increased after lactation.
  • Diabetic women improve their health by breastfeeding. Not only do nursing infants have increased protection from juvenile diabetes, the amount of insulin that the mother requires postpartum goes down.
  • Women who lactate for a total of two or more years reduce their chances of developing breast cancer by 24 percent.
  • Women who breastfeed their children have been shown to be less likely to develop uterine, endometrial or ovarian cancer.
  • The emotional health of the mother may be enhanced by the relationship she develops with her infant during breastfeeding, resulting in fewer feelings of anxiety and a stronger sense of connection with her baby. Breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce the incidence of post partum depression in mamas. (See our posts on Breastfeeding and Post Partum Depression!)

August 1-7, 2014 is also World Breastfeeding Week. Coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the theme for this year’s week of awareness is to impress upon everyone importance of increasing and sustaining the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is one of the methods advocated in the Millennium Development Goals, developed in 1990 by the United Nations and affiliated governments to help fight poverty and promote healthy and sustainable development in a comprehensive way by 2015.

wbw2014-objectives According to the WABA breastfeeding and the Millennium Develoment Goals are intricately linked, “The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are meant to be achieved by 2015 – next year! Although much progress has taken place, there is still a lot of “unfinished business”. Here are some examples: Poverty has gone down, but 1 in 8 people still go to bed hungry. Undernutrition affects about a quarter of all children globally. Overweight, the other form of malnutrition is becoming more common too. In the last 2 decades, child mortality has decreased by about 40%, but still almost 7 million children under five die each year, mainly from preventable diseases. As the overall rate of under-five mortality has declined, the proportion of neonatal deaths (during the first month of life) comprises an increasing proportion of all child deaths. Globally, maternal mortality has declined from 400 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 210 in 2010, but fewer than half of women deliver in baby-friendly maternities. By protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, YOU can contribute to each of the MDGs in a substantial way. Exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding are key interventions for improving child survival, potentially saving about 20% of children under five. Let’s review how the UN’s Scientific Committee on Nutrition illustrated how breastfeeding is linked to each of the Millennium Development Goals.” So breastfeeding can go a long way to not only benefitting the health of mamas and babies individually, but help reduce poverty, malnutrition and infant and child mortality globally. If you are considering breastfeeding and want more information, the links in this post are from some of the best resources globally, especially if you want to take on an advocacy role. If you want more specific personal information on breastfeeding, I suggest you contact your local La Leche League. These folks really know breastfeeding!! They offer a plethora of information on their website, have many books on breastfeeding available for purchase and do phone and often in person consultations. You can also check with your healthcare provider and local hospital for referrals to lactation consultants who can assist with breastfeeding.   Do you have more questions? Join Bedrest Coach Darline Turner for a one hour Q & A session during the Free Third Thursday Teleseminar, August 21, 2014, 1:00-2:00pm ET. She will field any and all questions relating to bedrest, pregnancy and post partum. You can join the conversation live or submit your questions up to 24 hours before via e-mail at info@mamasonbedrest.com. Join our interactive bed rest community on Facebook and chat with mamas globally on all things bed rest! Finally, Get your copy of the e-book From Mamas: The Essential Guide to Surviving Bedrest! This guide will help you not only survive bedrest, but THRIVE on bedrest! Order your copy now on Amazon.com   Other Resources: Natural Resources Defense Council 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child

Stepping into the Global Prenatal Initiative on Behalf of Mamas on Bedrest!

May 16th, 2014

Global Prenatal InitiativeGreetings Mamas!!

A few weeks ago (March 21st to be exact) I introduced you to the Global Prenatal Initiative. Well, things have been heating up since that post and I want to give you an update-mainly because I have jumped in with both feet and am involved with organizing the US Prenatal Education Association!

No one is more acutely aware of the shortcomings in US prenatal care than Mamas on Bedrest. While it is safe to say the we receive prenatal care, in many instances one would be loathe to say that it is patient centered, baby friendly or offering a compassionate start to our little ones. And while many of the interventions that Mamas on Bedrest endure are necessary, how they are administered and how Mamas on Bedrest are cared for are often lacking in the compassion and nurturing department.

The foundation principle of the Global Prenatal Initiative is,

“The time spent in the womb is the foundation for long-term health, emotional security, intelligence, creativity and much more for every human being. It is vital that the link between these early stages of human development, their long-term impact and the current global challenges be known.”

~ Julie Gerland, GPI Co-Founder and Director

Dr. Gerland and other members of the United Nations have been collaborating to improve maternity outcomes and have come to the very reasonable conclusion that to make any sort of appreciable impact on our cultural deficiencies and disparities, it is imperative that we focus on human development-namely improving birth outcomes and in turn, life expectancy and quality of life. Their major focuses are:

  1. Confronting family poverty
  2. Ensuring work-family balance
  3. Advancing social integration
  4. Inter-generational solidarity

This is all well and good, but what does this mean for Mamas on Bedrest exactly???

  1. It means empowering mamas about what they can do to feel safe, secure and healthy during pregnancy.
  2. It means empowering mamas to provide safe, secure environments for their babies to develop and grow-both in utero and externally. We have to remember, whatever mama is experiencing during her pregnancy, her baby is also experiencing. As much as possible, we want those experiences to be peaceful and to have positive impacts on baby’s growth and development.
  3. It means working with both parents in the pre-conception and prenatal periods to foster healthy relationships, ones in which as much as possible both parents stay connected (not necessarily married) and involved in the lifelong growth and development of the baby.

Mamas, We already know so much of this! We know what it’s like for our families to face financial challenges because we go on bed rest and are not paid while we are not working. We know what it’s like to lose a job because we go on bed rest! We know what it is like to have to choose to nurture our children on bed rest in lieu of pursuing a career. We know what it is like to try to navigate bed rest without the support of family. We could (wo)man these panels ourselves and give birds eye views of what life is like when we don’t have the resources necessary for a peaceful pregnancies. And while all of you are welcome to step up in support of the Global Prenatal Initiative, I am stepping in and stepping up on behalf of high risk pregnant women, the Mamas on Bedrest. Stepping into this community of global prenatal health workers, it is my intention to not only represent Mamas on Bedrest but to also be your eyes, your ears and most importantly-YOUR VOICE! This is the chance for our voices to be heard, for our stories to be told and for the management of high risk pregnancies to be evaluated and changed as necessary to suit the needs of Mamas on Bedrest. I am counting on you all to speak up! I am counting on you all to tell me exactly what you needed when you were on bed rest; what would have made bed rest bearable and more successful. In return, I will relay your thoughts and request to my colleagues in the association, as well as to the pertinent United Nations sub-committees on human growth, development and overall well being.

The time has come, Mamas! We have the chance to change the course of prenatal care and birth outcomes for generations to come! Most importantly, we have the chance to make much needed changes in the care of high risk pregnancy!