Posts Tagged ‘Organization of Teratology Information Specialists’

Top preventable birth defects

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

January is National Birth Defects Prevention month.  We posted earlier on the importance of taking folic acid before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine.

The Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) is a group of highly trained professionals who are dedicated to providing accurate evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health care professionals about medications (prescription or over-the-counter), vaccines, chemical and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  They tell you whether a mother’s exposure to something might be harmful to her baby.

In honor of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, OTIS counselors are stepping up efforts to help educate the public. Counselors, who provide women answers to questions about specific exposures during pregnancy and lactation through a toll-free hotline, (866) 626-6847, and website,, have compiled a list of a few of the preventable causes of some of the most common birth defects.  Click on this link to read their information.

Seasonal allergies -when to get tested for them

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

allergiesI live in New York State and this year spring is just outdoing itself – every flowering shrub, bulb, bush, blade of grass, flower, tree and elegant weed is struttin’ it’s stuff and tootin’ Mother Nature’s horn.  I mean it’s gorgeous outside!  And I can’t breathe.

Do you guys suffer the attack of the pollen monster?  I have allergies that bring me nasal congestion, itchy eyes, runny nose and post nasal drip.  I’ve never gotten tested for specific allergies, but on days like today, I’m rethinking that.  If you’re thinking of being tested for allergies but hope to become pregnant soon, either test before you become pregnant or wait until after you have your baby.  Allergy skin testing is not done during pregnancy because there is a small risk that anaphylaxis may occur. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can include hives, swelling of the tongue and throat, possibly loss of consciousness.  During pregnancy, a severe case of anaphylaxis might decrease blood and oxygen flowing to the uterus, possibly harming the fetus.

If you already are taking allergy shots, speak with your provider about the possibility of pregnancy.  Depending on your personal situations, your provider may choose to continue the shots full strength, dilute them to 50% or discontinue them.  It’s good to have a plan in place before you conceive.

So is it OK to take medication during this time?  Always ask your provider what’s safe for you before taking something.  As a general rule, nasal saline (salt water) is good for keeping your nasal passages moist and helping you blow away the nasties. Nasal steroids should be avoided unless prescribed by your provider.  Many antihistamines generally are considered safe to use.  Decongestants should be avoided during the first trimester due to a possible association with an intestinal defect in the fetus.  If you have a question about the safety of a medication during pregnancy or breastfeeding (OTC or Rx), contact OTIS, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists.