Posts Tagged ‘cholesterol’

Gallbladder issues during pregnancy

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Pregnancy brings enough discomforts without gallbladder issues, but some of us get hit with severe pain from gallstones and inflammation.  Women are twice as likely to have gallstones as men (aren’t we lucky?) and much of that has to do with pregnancy hormones.  Elevated hormones during pregnancy cause the gallbladder to function more slowly, less efficiently.

The gallbladder stores and releases bile, a substance produced in the liver. Bile is used to help digest fats in the small intestine.  Bile contains cholesterol and other matter and when it sits in the gallbladder for extended periods hard, solid nuggets can form – gallstones.  These can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball.  The stones can block the flow of bile causing symptoms ranging from indigestion to serious pain. 

Excess weight gain during pregnancy can increase cholesterol content in bile and can contribute to the formation or growth of gallstones.  Although there is no way to completely prevent gallstones, maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy can help lower your risk. Also helpful is eating a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber with plenty of fresh veggies, fruits and whole grains.  Regular exercise helps, too.

Symptoms of a gallbladder attack include intense, continuous abdominal pain that lasts for hours, nausea, vomiting.  An ultrasound (instead of the usual x-ray) will be used to make a diagnosis.  Treatment during pregnancy may include surgery to remove the gallbladder.  Sounds scary, but this is safe for both mom and baby, especially during the second trimester.  Gallbladder attacks in the third trimester can be managed with a strict diet and pain medication followed by surgery several weeks after delivery if needed.

The good news is that most pregnancies are not affected by gallbladder attacks, but should this happen to you, don’t panic and call your provider.

Low fat milk for some babies

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Low fat milk may be appropriate for some children between 12 months and 2 years of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Examples:

  • * Babies who are overweight or obese
  • * Babies with a family history of obesity, high cholesterol, or cardiovascular disease

Before giving your child any low fat milk products, talk to your child’s health care provider.

To learn about your family medical history, go to the March of Dimes Web site.

Your child’s healthy heart

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Research has shown that high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity are related to heart disease. Genetics also play a role. To help prevent heart disease, it’s important to identify people at risk as soon as possible.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children should be screened for cholesterol between the ages of 2 and 10 if they:

  • * Have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease
  • * Are overweight or obese or have a family history of these conditions
  • * Have a family history of high blood pressure or diabetes

To be screened, a child has a blood test.

A healthy diet and physical activity are especially important for anyone at increased risk of heart disease. If screening shows that your child is at risk, his or her health care provider will help you choose healthy foods and exercise for him.