Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

Today is World Heart Day

Monday, September 29th, 2014

World Heart DayThis year the World Heart Federation is focusing on creating heart-healthy environments for you and your family. World Heart Day raises awareness of maintaining a healthy diet, limiting alcohol and tobacco use, and increasing physical activity.

World Heart Day is a good time to think about one of the most common birth defects – congenital heart defects. It affects 1 in 100 babies every year. These heart defects can affect the heart’s structure, how it works, or both.

Heart defects develop in the early weeks of pregnancy when the heart is forming. Severe congenital heart defects are usually diagnosed during pregnancy or soon after birth. Less severe heart defects often aren’t diagnosed until children are older.

What can you do?

We’re not sure what causes most heart defects, but things that may play a role include diabetes and obesity (being very overweight).

If you are trying to become pregnant or you are currently pregnant:

• Do not smoke

• Do not drink alcohol

• Talk to your provider about any medicine you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicine, herbal products and supplements

• Maintain a healthy diet and exercise 30 minutes a day if you can

• Go to all your prenatal visits

After birth your baby may be tested for critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) as part of newborn screening before he leaves the hospital. All states require newborn screening, but not all require screening for CCHD. You can ask your provider if your state tests for CCHD or click here to see what your state covers.

After birth, signs and symptoms of heart defects can include:

• Fast breathing

• Gray or blue skin coloring

• Fatigue (feeling tired all of the time)

• Slow weight gain

• Swollen belly, legs or puffiness around the eyes

• Trouble breathing while feeding

• Sweating, especially while feeding

• Abnormal heart murmur (extra or abnormal sounds heard during a heartbeat)

If you see any of these signs, call your baby’s health care provider right away. For more information about congenital heart defects visit our website.

If you have questions, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Click here to read more News Moms Need blog posts on: pregnancy, pre-pregnancy, infant and child care, help for your child with delays or disabilities, and other hot topics.

Pregnancy after weight loss surgery

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

scaleIn the last few years, weight loss surgery has become more common and the number of women in their childbearing years having this surgery is rising.  Some women may be considering surgery but wonder if they will still be able to have children.  The answer seems to be yes.

Studies suggest that pregnancy after weight loss surgery might be safer for both mother and baby than pregnancy complicated by obesity.

Weight loss surgery may help protect obese women and their babies from these health problems during pregnancy:
• Gestational diabetes
• High blood pressure
• Overly large babies
• Cesarean delivery

A recent study even suggests that moms who had gastric bypass surgery and then had children may actually pass on healthier genes.  Researchers compared children born to obese women to children born to mothers following weight loss surgery.  They found that the children born to mothers following the surgery are significantly less likely to be obese, and they appear to have healthier blood pressures, lipid profiles and metabolic function.

If you are thinking about weight loss surgery, make sure you talk to your health care provider.  Surgery is not for everyone and you need to understand the risks and benefits specific to you.

If you have already had weight loss surgery and are considering getting pregnant, here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Since you will lose weight rapidly right after surgery, avoid getting pregnant for 12-18 months after your operation. Rapid weight loss may deprive a fetus of the nutrients it needs to grow and be healthy.
• Talk to your health care provider before you get pregnant.
• Be aware of your need for vitamins and minerals. Weight loss operations can result in low levels of iron, folate, vitamin B12 and calcium. All of these are needed for a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women who have had weight loss surgery may need to take vitamin pills.
• Some women have a type of weight loss surgery that uses a gastric band. This band is used to make a small pouch for food in the upper part of the stomach. If you have a gastric band, speak to your surgeon, preferably before you get pregnant. The surgeon may need to adjust the band for pregnancy.

Although more research is needed, current studies suggest that women who have had weight loss surgery can still have children and having the surgery before pregnancy may be beneficial.

Diabetes Alert Day

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, is Diabetes Alert Day. It is designed to teach the public about the seriousness of diabetes, particularly when the disease is left undiagnosed or untreated.

Having gestational diabetes during pregnancy significantly increases a woman’s future chances of developing diabetes. About half will develop diabetes over the next 10 years. And the mom isn’t the only one at risk – her child of that pregnancy may be at an increased risk for developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.

Find out if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes by taking the Diabetes Risk Test and talking to your family about your family history of diabetes. If left undiagnosed or untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, amputation, and even death.

For more information and free resources, visit the NDEP Web site at YourDiabetesInfo.org.

We are proud to be partners in the Show Your Love national campaign designed to improve the health of women and babies by promoting preconception health and healthcare.

Are you watching your soda intake?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

drinking sodaThere has been an interesting debate in the media lately about New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to regulate the size of sugary soft drinks.  He says he is doing it for health reasons. Well, he is right that there is an enormous (all puns intended) portion of the population that is overweight in this country, and that’s a concern for everyone.

Obesity leads to significant health problems. Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can cause complications for you and your baby. The more overweight you are, the greater the chances for pregnancy complications. You can read about many of the problems (infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes…) here.

It’s important to get to a healthy weight before you conceive. This way you’re giving your baby the healthiest possible start. Before you have a baby, take the time to get fit, exercise and eat healthy.  Cutting out the empty calories that do you no good is a good idea. It will be interesting to watch what happens in New York. What do you think?

Mom’s weight and baby’s health

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Overweight and obesity during pregnancy can cause health problems for your baby. You know that it’s not great for your health, but it can affect your baby’s well being, too. While most babies of overweight and obese women are born healthy, problems can include:
• birth defects, including neural tube defects (NTDs) which are defects of the brain and spine
• preterm birth
• injury, like shoulder dystocia, during birth because the baby is large
• Death after birth
• Being obese during childhood

Dr. Patrick M. Catalano, a highly renowned obstetrician, professor and researcher has focused on nutrition and metabolic conditions before and during pregnancy and how those conditions affect a fetus’ growth and how much body fat it gains. His research has shown that infants born to obese mothers and mothers who have diabetes are heavier at birth and have a higher risk of developing metabolic disorders, including insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

Dr. Kathleen Maher Rasmussen and her students broke new ground in understanding the threat being overweight at conception has on successful breastfeeding.  We know that breast milk is the best food for babies during the first year of life. It helps them grow healthy and strong. Dr. Rasmussen’s work on over-nutrition found that there is delayed onset of milk secretion and shorter breastfeeding in women who were significantly overweight.

If a woman starts pregnancy at a healthy weight, it can not only lower the risk of preterm birth and birth defects, but can give her baby a healthier start that can have life-long benefits.

Lose the weight before pregnancy

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Advertisements abound these days for weight loss programs and quick fix diets. Did you eat all your favorite traditional treats over the holidays and have a cup or two of cheer? I certainly did and am now feeling like it’s time to behave – time to swap the cookies for carrots, the fruitcake for fruit.

For those of you thinking about pregnancy, it’s especially important to get your weight under control before you conceive. To know if you’re overweight or obese, find out your body mass index (BMI) before you get pregnant.  BMI is a calculation based on your weight and height.

If you’re overweight, your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9 before pregnancy. Two in 3 women (66 percent) of reproductive age (15 to 44 years) in the United States is overweight.  If you’re obese, your BMI is 30.0 or higher before pregnancy. About 1 in 4 women (25 percent) is obese.

If you’re overweight or obese, you’re more likely than pregnant women at a healthy weight to have certain medical problems during pregnancy. The more overweight you are, the higher are the risks for problems. These problems include:
• Infertility (not being able to get pregnant)
• miscarriage (when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy)
• stillbirth (when a baby dies in the womb before birth but after 20 weeks of pregnancy)
• high blood pressure and preeclampsia (a form of high blood pressure that only pregnant women get). It can cause serious problems for mom and baby.
• gestational diabetes
• complications during labor and birth, including having a really big baby (called large-for-gestational-age) or needing a cesarean section (c-section).

Some of these problems, like preeclampsia, can increase your chances of preterm birth, birth before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. This is too soon and can cause serious health problems for your baby. (We’ll talk about how mom’s weight issues can affect her baby’s health in tomorrow’s post.)

For those women who are severely overweight, some are turning to surgery. New studies suggest that weight-loss surgery may help protect obese women and their babies from gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, overly large babies and cesarean delivery during pregnancy.

So think about staying healthy and shedding those unwanted pounds before you get pregnant. Talk with your health care provider, find a plan that’s good for you and stick to it. You’ll have a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy when the time comes.

Amenorrhea – missed periods

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

There can be many reasons why a woman might not get her period. For women who are sexually active and in their 20s or 30s, pregnancy is the first thing that pops to mind. If you’re in your 40s or 50s, it could be the beginning of the transition leading to menopause, or perimenopause. Whatever the reason, it’s important to find out why.

Extreme exercise can be a cause. Did you know that between 5% and 25% of female athletes work out so hard that they stop getting their periods? This is called exercise-induced amenorrhea. I had two friends, both avid runners, who were unable to conceive while they were in training and running marathons. Their intense exercise altered the manufacturing and releasing of reproductive hormones involved in the menstrual cycle. While still remaining active, my friends had to significantly dial back their exercise routines before they were able to have children. But both of them went on to have kids.

Another substantial body stressor that can affect the operation of reproductive hormones is a severely changed eating pattern. Women with eating disorders like anorexia nervosa are greatly altering their hormonal balance by depriving their body of nutrition. This can shut down a normal reproductive cycle.

Women who breastfeed often do not see the return of a normal period for many months. If that happens to you, don’t feel like you’re home-free in the contraception department. This lack of a period does not necessarily mean you’re not ovulating and it is possible to get pregnant during this time.

Medical conditions like problems with your uterus, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)thyroid conditions or pituitary gland disorders, or problems with the hypothalamus can cause amenorrhea. Women who are extremely overweight or obese can lose their period.

If you miss your period for an extended period of time and aren’t sure why, check into it with your health care provider.

Folic acid in fortified grains

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

grainsOf the four million women who give birth in the US each year, some 3,000 babies are born with neural tube defects, which include certain birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid is a critical element needed for proper spinal cord development during the first three weeks of pregnancy. Because this is often before a woman even knows she’s pregnant, it’s important for women of child-bearing age to follow a healthy lifestyle and to include folic acid as part of their diet.

The Grain Foods Foundation has joined with the March of Dimes to remind all women of child-bearing age of the important role folic acid plays in preventing birth defects. Enriched breads – and many other grains such as rice, tortillas, pasta and cereal – are important sources of folic acid. 

• White flour is enriched with three major B vitamins (niacin, thiamin and riboflavin), as well as iron, and is fortified with the B vitamin folic acid.
• Enriched flour contains two times as much folic acid as its whole grain counterpart – making enriched grains the largest source of folic acid in the diets of most Americans. Whole grain products, with the exception of some breakfast cereals, are not fortified with folic acid.
• Since the FDA required fortification of enriched grains, the number of babies born in the U.S. with neural-tube birth defects has declined by 34 percent in non-Hispanic whites, and by 36 percent among Hispanics.

Grain foods are a delicious and nutrient-dense component of a healthy diet and have been shown to help with weight maintenance. In fact, people who consume a medium-to-high percentage of carbohydrates in their diet have a reduced risk for obesity. This is important for women of childbearing age as obese women who are pregnant have a significantly higher risk of needing a Cesarean section delivery, delivering too early, developing pre-eclampsia, and having an exceptionally large baby. They also face double the risk of stillbirth and neonatal death.

For a balanced diet, the USDA recommends at least six one-ounce servings of grains daily. Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal and even tortillas and pretzels are examples of grain foods.

Macrosomia

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

babyfaceMacrosomia is a term that describes an unusually large baby, weighing more than 9 pounds 15 ounces.  Aside from genetic factors (others in the family are really big), one of the main causes of macorsomia is poorly controlled diabetes during pregnancy.  Increased maternal plasma glucose levels, as well as insulin, stimulate the baby’s growth.  Pregnant women who are obese are at increased risk of having an overly large baby.  If a baby goes way past its due date, it may be overly large.  Interestingly, more male babies are macrosomic than girls, and if you have had one overly large baby you may be at increased risk of having another large baby in a future pregnancy.  I know a guy who is one of four boys, each of whom weighed over 14 pounds!  I kid you not.

With a really big baby, there is the chance of having a difficult birth.  The mother may experience perineal tearing, significant blood loss, and even damage to her tailbone.  The baby’s shoulder may get caught behind the mother’s pubic bone causing a dangerous situation and a threat to both the mother and baby, including possible infant death.
 
Some doctors will plan a cesarean delivery if a woman appears to be carrying a very large baby.  Unfortunately, late third trimester ultrasounds are not particularly accurate at measuring the baby’s size and many planned, cautionary cesarean deliveries turn out to be unnecessary.  It is always important to go over the risks and benefits to both mom and baby when discussing a planned cesarean delivery.

If you are planning for a baby in you future, now is the time to get your weight under control.  If you have diabetes, be sure to manage it carefully so that it is as controlled as possible during your pregnancy.  If you have recently had a very large baby and had gestational diabetes, make sure your doctor tests you for diabetes a few months after delivery.  Up to 20% of women who had gestational diabetes end up with postpartum diabetes and will need to manage it.

Why your weight matters

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

scaleIt’s important to get to a healthy weight before you become pregnant.  If a woman is overweight or obese before pregnancy, she may face special health risks when pregnant (high blood pressure, preeclampsia or eclampsia, diabetes, problems during childbirth). Babies born to overweight or obese mothers may face their own challenges, too (risk of being born prematurely, certain birth defects, needing care in a NICU, possible obesity in childhood). Ask your doc or health provider for help in losing weight and getting to a safe starting point.

If you watch our video, you’ll learn what you can do if you’re an overweight or obese mom to protect your own health and the health of your baby.  “Pregnancy: The Overweight or Obese Woman” is part of the March of Dimes Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby video series.