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It is a mother's responsibility to protect and nourish the fetus in her womb. A mother would go places for giving her baby a healthy life. The embryo growing inside the mother's womb gets its nourishment from her blood through the placenta. It is a cord which connects the embryo with the naval of the fetus, and as such whatever the mother consumes get passed on to the baby, including unhealthy and toxic substances. Women often avoid flu medications during pregnancy in order to prevent any possibility of harming the baby's health. However, a recent study conducted on 700,000 women found that unborn children suffer no harm when their mothers take flu medication during pregnancy.

Author of the research said that it was the largest study ever to assess the potential risks of taking oseltamivir or zanamivir - the two main drugs to combat serious flu infections during pregnancy. The team studied almost 6,000 pregnant women in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and France who were prescribed oseltamivir or zanamivir between 2008 and 2010, with nearly 700,000 who were not.

The team found "no increased risks of adverse outcomes" from one group to the next, taking into account factors such as age, smoking and the use of other medicines. These included low birth weight, preterm birth, stillbirth or birth defects. Surprisingly, the team found that children, whose mothers had been prescribed Tamiflu or Relenza, drugs known as neuraminidase inhibitors, were less likely to be underweight.

The research team said that influenza flares every winter, putting millions of pregnant women at risk of severe illness during seasons with an aggressive virus strain. "Despite limited knowledge on their safety and effectiveness during pregnancy," said pharmacists recommending the use of flu drugs.

he study was published in The BMJ medical journal. The team added that there were shortcomings in the study, including that they did not assess risks to the child before 22 weeks of pregnancy, and did not know whether women prescribed the drugs had actually taken them or not.

Stress is the root cause of many health issues. We have heard it time and time again from health experts, yet we don't pay much heed and continue living our hectic lives carrying out errands and chasing deadlines. It's not okay to keep going non-stop without taking break and letting your mind and body relax. Stress can cause anxiety and lead to various other ailments such as depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, heart disease, etc. And it doesn't just stop there. According to a new study done by the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, pre-pregnancy stress can lead to eczema in newborns.
Pregnancy is a beautiful phase but there are many precautions that the to-be-mother should take in order to ensure the healthy development of her child. The study is first of its kind to link preconception maternal stress to the risk of atopic eczema in the child. Eczema is a condition which is defined as inflammation of the skin, leading to rashes, itchiness and even blisters.

The researchers believe the findings support the concept that eczema partly originates as a baby develops in the womb and could reveal ways of reducing the risk of the skin condition. They assessed the stress levels of women before pregnancy and around 3,000 babies at six and 12 months for eczema.

"We know that maternal stress can release certain hormones that can have an effect on the baby's immune response, leading to an increased risk in conditions like eczema," said Dr Sarah El-Heis, the study's lead researcher.

"More than one in six women of the mothers in the Southampton Women's Survey reported that stress affected their health quite a lot or extremely - our analyses showed that their infants had a 20 percent higher likelihood of developing atopic eczema at age 12 months when compared with the remainder of the study cohort," added Dr El-Heis.

The whole phase of pregnancy makes a woman witness various hormonal changes, and along with it different symptoms. Some of the common changes include hair fall, postpartum depression, hot flashes, etc. According to a new study done by Johns Hopkins University in Maryland in the US, pregnant women having lower levels of an anti-anxiety hormone in their second trimester had an increased chance of developing postpartum depression. The study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, a woman with an allopregnanolone hormone level of about 3.75 nanograms per milli-liter had a 33 per cent likelihood of developing the disorder.
While a woman having 7.5 nanograms per milli-liter had a 1.5 per cent chance of developing postpartum depression. For every additional nanogram per milli-liter increase in allopregnanolone, the risk of developing postpartum depression dropped by 63 per cent, the researchers said.

Further, the risk was particularly high in women already diagnosed with mood disorders, such as major depression or bipolar disorder.

"Many earlier studies haven't shown postpartum depression to be tied to actual levels of pregnancy hormones, but rather to an individual's vulnerability to fluctuations in these hormones and they didn't identify any concrete way to tell whether a woman would develop postpartum depression," said Lauren M. Osborne, Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, US.

"Every woman has high levels of certain hormones, including allopregnanolone, at the end of pregnancy, so we decided to look earlier in the pregnancy to see if we could tease apart small differences in hormone levels that might more accurately predict postpartum depression later," Osborne added.

For the study, the team included 60 pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 45, all who had been previously diagnosed with a mood disorder.

Using the blood samples, the researchers measured the blood levels of progesterone and allopregnanolone, a by-product made from the breakdown of progesterone and known for its calming, anti-anxiety effects.

No relationship was found between progesterone levels in the second or third trimesters and the likelihood of developing postpartum depression. However, a link between postpartum depression and diminished levels of allopregnanolone levels in the second trimester was observed.

Antibiotics are commonly prescribed during pregnancy but it is very important to be aware of the possible dangers it has and also the side effects it can cause. The increasing use of antibiotics has become quite controversial. Antibiotics are powerful drugs that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. Therefore, they are also known as anti-bacterials and are often prescribed for minor infections like cold, flu, cough and sore throat. But, in the recent years, there has been a lot of talk about the side effects of popping antibiotics regularly, especially for children and pregnant women. According to a new study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, taking certain antibiotic drugs may increase the risk of miscarriage by 60% to 100%.

The study that was conducted by researchers at the Universite de Montreal in Canada warns women who take antibiotics during the early stages of pregnancy. The team studies data from about 9000 cases miscarriage including women between the ages of 15 to 45. It was seen that many common antibiotics such as macrolides, quinolones, tetracyclines, sulfonamides and metronidazole had a strong link with the increased risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy. Interestingly, a certain class of antibiotic drugs that are commonly used during pregnancy were not found to be harmful. For instance, antibiotics like erythromycin and nitrofurantoin that are often used to treat urinary tract infections in pregnant women were not associated with the risk of miscarriage.

According to the researchers, the risk is small and only pertains to the consumption of antibiotics during early pregnancy. Infections are common during pregnancy and although, in some cases antibiotics can actually help decrease the risk of premature birth or low birth weight, certain antibiotics have been found to increase the risk of spontaneous abortion as per this new study. The study also took into consideration facts like women who miscarried were more likely to be older, living alone, and may have had multiple health issues and infections while analyzing the results. Therefore, you should always avoid self-medication and consult your doctor before you decide to take any pill.

One may assume that pregnancy is a phase where much attention is given to a woman to safeguard her, but a recent study reveals some shocking data in contrast to the belief. According to the research data by Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in the US, pregnant women are twice as likely to be a victim of an assault-related trauma than an accident-related trauma like car accidents or falls, compared to women who are not pregnant. These assault-related injuries, moreover, often lead to death. On the dark side, there are large incidences of violence that occur across the globe, putting the lives of pregnant women in danger.

"The striking results of our study suggest that widespread screening for violence and trauma during pregnancy may provide an opportunity to identify women at risk for death during pregnancy," said lead study author Neha Deshpande from the university. The findings point to an opportunity for intervention to safeguard pregnant women.

About the Study

According to the study, pregnant trauma victims, on an average, suffered less severe injuries than their non-pregnant counterparts. However, despite less severe injuries, pregnant women were nearly twice as likely to be dead when they arrived at the hospital, or die in the hospital. In particular, assault-related trauma was about three times more deadly than accident-related trauma.

For their analysis, the researchers used data from the Pennsylvania Trauma Outcomes Study database, a comprehensive and validated registry which includes records of admissions to all accredited trauma centres in the state. The analysis focused on admissions from 2005 through 2015, and included nearly 45,000 cases of trauma among victims who were defined as women of childbearing age (14-49).

The data also revealed that nearly one in five pregnant women reported a psychiatric illness or arrived at the hospital following a suicide attempt.

"Since the typical definition of maternal deaths includes only those directly caused or impacted by pregnancy, it does not include accidental or incidental causes of death, making it difficult to accurately gauge the burden of trauma-related deaths on maternal mortality," said senior author Corrina Oxford, Assistant Professor at Perelman School of Medicine. "However, evidence presented in our study suggests this is a pervasive issue that requires further attention to ensure these women, and their babies, are being properly cared for," added Oxford.

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists' (ACOG) annual clinical and scientific meeting in San Diego on Sunday.

Dr. Piyush  Jain
Dr. Piyush Jain
MS - Allopathy, Ophthalmologist Pediatric Ophthalmologist, 5 yrs, Pune
Dr. Anuja Lathi
Dr. Anuja Lathi
MBBS, Dermatologist, 13 yrs, Pune
Dr. Hitesh Karnavat
Dr. Hitesh Karnavat
BAMS, Ayurveda Infertility Specialist, 12 yrs, Pune
Dr. Sushant Bagule
Dr. Sushant Bagule
BAMS, Pune
Dr. Sadashiv K. Deshpande
Dr. Sadashiv K. Deshpande
BHMS, Homeopath, 40 yrs, Pune