Family Planning and Pregnancy

Fertility and diet: Is there a connection?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Research continues to explore the connection between fertility and diet. There is some evidence that what you eat can help increase your chances of getting pregnant, but right now the specific advice is simple. If you’re trying to conceive, eat a basic healthy diet, take prenatal vitamins, and talk with your doctor for preconception advice.

Why we shouldn’t demonize formula feeding

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Doctors commonly encourage new mothers to choose breastfeeding over formula, but a new study shows the value of formula feeding as an add on to breastfeeding, and serves as a reminder that breastfeeding exclusively is not an option for some mothers.

Inducing labor: A way to avoid a cesarean?

Toni Golen, MD


A study comparing the health of babies delivered by induced labor with those delivered when labor occurred spontaneously also found that the chance of cesarean delivery was lower among the women whose labor was induced.

Access to safe, affordable birth control is a maternal health issue

When a pregnancy puts the life of the mother at risk, access to birth control is essential. As more women are experiencing medical complications from or with pregnancy or after giving birth, the issue is becoming even more important.

Using social media to help parents get vaccine questions answered

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Doctors want their patients to have access to accurate and helpful health information, and today that means online. Researchers found that expectant mothers who used a website that provided information about vaccines were more likely to get their babies vaccinated.

Why parents should save their baby’s cord blood — and give it away

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Because blood cells from a newborn baby’s umbilical cord can be used to treat or cure a variety of diseases, the American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging expectant parents to consider donating this blood to a public bank.

Flu shots during pregnancy

A recent small study linked the flu shot during pregnancy with an increased risk for miscarriage. However it did not establish that the flu shot causes miscarriage. Despite these results, pregnant women should be reassured that the benefits of getting a flu shot outweigh any potential risk.

Strong study shows no link between vasectomy and prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

In contrast to earlier research, a review of dozens of studies involving millions of men who had vasectomies found no proof that having a vasectomy increases a man’s risk of prostate cancer.

Have kids, live longer?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A study of Swedish people found an association between having children and living longer. That does not mean there is a direct, causal connection, but it’s still worth considering how these circumstances may in fact be related.

Postpartum depression: The worst kept secret

Postpartum depression carries an unfortunate stigma, as symptoms of depression affect nearly 20% of new mothers. Early detection is key to ensure the best health for not just women, but for their new infants and family members as well. Once diagnosed, there are several treatment options that can support new mothers during a time that can be both joyous and challenging.