Posts Tagged ‘fetal development’

Intestinal malrotation

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

intestines1Intestinal malrotation is a developmental defect in a fetus’s intestinal tract. It occurs in roughly 1 in every 500 live births. While more boys show symptoms in the first month of life, both boys and girls are affected equally.

The problem arises at approximately the tenth week of gestation. Normally at this time, the intestine that has been developing outside the body near the base of the umbilical cord moves into the abdominal cavity.  As it moves into the abdomen it makes two rotations and is then fixed into its normal permanent position – the small bowel in the middle of the abdomen and the colon (large intestine) flanking it on both sides and across the top. This normal positioning doesn’t happen with malrotation.

With malrotation, the entire colon is positioned on the left side of the abdomen while the small intestine is on the right. The cecum (beginning of the colon) and appendix are unattached or may be incorrectly attached by bands to the duodenum (beginning of the small intestine) which can cause a blockage. Since the intestines are not properly anchored, they may twist and cut off their own blood supply, a condition known as volvulus. This is serious and can end in the loss of most of the intestine or even death.

Malrotation of the intestine usually is not evident until the intestine becomes twisted or blocked and symptoms occur. In some patients twisting and blockage do not happen and symptoms never occur, while in other patients symptoms can manifest themselves at any time. Symptoms can include greenish-yellow vomit (from bile, a digestive fluid), abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, rapid heart rate, shock, rapid breathing, or blood in a bowel movement. If you should ever see these symptoms in an infant, call the healthcare provider immediately as he will want to examine the baby. Various blood tests and diagnostic imaging (x-rays, ultrasound, etc.) may be taken to check for blockages or twisting. If they are found, surgery to correct the situation will be performed. If the blood supply to the region is compromised, it may be necessary to perform follow-up surgery to remove any permanently damaged intestine.

There usually are no long-term problems when surgery occurs before permanent damage to the intestine sets in. If large portions of damaged intestine are removed, long-term digestive problems such as the ability to absorb nutrients and liquids can be severely compromised. Nutrition may need to be obtained through long-term IV solutions.

The March of Dimes has funded nearly one million dollars in research involving intestinal malrotation and the mechanism of intestinal coiling. Hopefully, one day we will discover what causes the development to go awry and how it can be prevented in the future.

How your baby grows – month 2

Monday, September 5th, 2011


Your baby:

By the end of the second month, your baby is about an inch long and still weighs less that 1/3 ounce. Your baby’s major body organs, like the brain, heart and lungs, are forming. The placenta is working. The placenta grows in your uterus and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Your baby’s ears, ankles, wrists, fingers and toes are formed. Eyelids form and grow but are sealed shut.

Your body:

Your breasts may till be sore and are getting bigger. Your nipples and the area around them begin to get dark. You have to go to the bathroom more often because your uterus is growing and pressing on your bladder. You may still have morning sickness. You may feel tired and need to rest more often. Your body is busy making more blood.

Chat on pregnancy body basics

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

textingYou’re swelling, you’re shrinking, you’re puking or eating everything that doesn’t eat you first… What’s normal, what’s not and what can you do about it?

Join us on Twitter, Wednesday August 24th at 1:00 PM EDT for our next #pregnancychat on pregnancy body basics. Share your experiences with heartburn, weight gain, sleeping issues or the amazement of feeling your baby move for the first time. Share what worked for you or ask questions. Health education specialists will be here to help give you answers.

3-D and 4-D ultrasound

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

In 3-D ultrasound, sound waves are scanned across the abdomen to offer three dimensional images that are similar to photographs. 3-D ultrasound images help provide a clearer picture of the baby’s development and can detect facial abnormalities, such as cleft lip or palate, or the extent of a neural tube defect, like spina bifida.

You may have heard of 4-D ultrasound, which is a combination of 3-D still images viewed over time. The result is “live action” images of your developing baby.  It is not available everywhere and is used to take a more in depth view of an image seen in a previous ultrasound. As with other types of ultrasound, it is helpful in analyzing the baby’s age and development. It can detect structural problems with the uterus, placental placement or abnormalities, abnormal bleeding, ectopic pregnancy, fibroids and ovarian tumors. Many high-risk pregnancy centers have this sophisticated, higher resolution technology.

4-D sounds really cool, but it’s important to note that non-medical use of ultrasound during pregnancy should be avoided… no home videos for the sake of sharing your good news. Commercial sites, often unsupervised by physicians, may offer really fun looking “keepsake” fetal images to parents. Be aware, however, that the persons performing these ultrasounds may not have adequate training and may give a woman inaccurate or even harmful information.  So, if you’re really curious, speak with your provider about ultrasound options available to you.

Brain development: the last few weeks

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

brainIf your pregnancy is healthy, it’s best if your baby is born at 40 weeks.  Here’s why:
• A baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs only 2/3 of what it will weigh at 40 weeks.
• In the last 6 weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s brain adds connections needed for balance, coordination, learning and social functioning.  During this time, the size of your baby’s brain almost doubles.
• Babies born early have more learning and behavior problems in childhood than babies born at 40 weeks.
• Babies born early are more likely to have feeding problems because they can’t coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing as well as full-term babies.
• Babies born early are likely to have breathing problems, like apnea.  Apnea is when a baby stops breathing.
• Babies born early are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  SIDS is when a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly, often during sleep.

So if all’s well with your pregnancy, but you’re anxious to get it over with (got that “I’m so done with this” feeling), have a little more patience and hang in there.  A few weeks can make a huge difference.

Cell phones – bad for baby?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

cell-phonePeriodically we hear concern about the impact that radiation from cell phones may have on our health. There are a few conflicting studies and the bottom line is we don’t know much.

A study from Denmark published in 2008 showed an association between prenatal and (to a lesser extent) postnatal exposure to cell phones and behavioral problems in children aged 7 years.  The percentage of children with related behavioral problems, though, was small.

And now a recently released study in Spain showed only small differences in the neurodevelopment scores of children exposed to cell phones while still in the womb. The babies exposed to cell phones had higher mental development scores and lower psychomotor development scores (muscular activity associated with mental thought).  The conclusion of this study is that there is not much evidence that a pregnant woman using her cell phone will have a negative effect on the early nervous system development of her baby.

So, it remains unclear whether there is any adverse effect of prenatal exposure to cell phones on fetal development and children’s behavior. With the rapidly increasing use of cell phones in adults and even young children, it is important for additional studies to determine the possible effects of cell phone use. Studies need to examine the higher exposures received by the child’s brain compared with the adult brain; and the vulnerability of the developing central nervous system into the teen years.

In the meantime, pregnant women can limit their cell phone use and parents can limit their children’s cell phone use as well as avoid talking on a cell phone when a child is around until more studies can be done.