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Birth Control Archive

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Studies question ban on alcohol during pregnancy

Published June 21, 2012

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy has been taboo for some time, largely because drinking too much can cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Because no one has been able to identify a clear threshold for “safe” drinking during pregnancy, doctors tell women to steer away from alcohol entirely. A series of five studies from Denmark published in BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that “low” (1-4 drinks per week) to “moderate” (5-8 drinks per week) alcohol consumption in early pregnancy did not harm the neuropsychological development of children evaluated at age five. Drinking more appears to be a different story. In one of the studies, five-year-olds whose mothers consumed higher levels of alcohol (9 or more drinks per week) during pregnancy were significantly more likely to have lower attention spans. The authors of the study do not argue that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is wise or to be encouraged. In fact, most doctors will continue to advise pregnant women not to drink alcohol. is there a middle ground? Perhaps. Deciding to have a sip (or glass) of champagne at a special occasion during pregnancy may not be an unreasonable or unsafe choice–one that each woman has to make for herself, ideally after talking with her obstetrician or midwife about this issue.

Study elucidates health risks for DES daughters

Updated December 1, 2011

The synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) was widely prescribed in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s to prevent miscarriage and premature delivery. Its dangers were first revealed in the early 1970s, when Harvard-affiliated researchers linked the drug to a rare cancer of the vagina and cervix in the daughters of women who took DES while pregnant. In 1971, the FDA issued a warning against its use by pregnant women, but five to 10 million pregnant women and their babies had already been exposed. In the following decades, many other health problems were discovered among DES daughters. A report from the DES Follow-up Study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine (Oct. 6, 2011), documents the health risks for these women.

The study. In 1992, researchers contacted women who had participated in one of three studies of DES daughters undertaken in the 1970s. They recruited 4,653 women who had been exposed to DES in utero for a follow-up study, along with a control group of 1,927 women who had not been exposed. Using questionnaires, phone interviews, and medical records, the researchers assessed the cumulative risk for 12 health problems linked to DES exposure in earlier studies.

Do chronic diseases have their origins in the womb?

Published October 22, 2011

Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis and other common chronic diseases are often blamed on genes, pollution, or the wear and tear caused by personal choices like a poor diet, smoking, or too little exercise. An intriguing hypothesis is that these and other conditions stem from a developing baby’s environment, mainly the womb and the placenta. During the first thousand days of development, from conception to age 2, the body’s tissues, organs, and systems are exquisitely sensitive to conditions in their environment during various windows of time. A lack of nutrients or an overabundance of them during these windows, so the thinking goes, programs a child’s development and sets the stage for health or disease.

Vitamins and dietary supplements

Updated June 1, 2009
Your daily diet should be the best source of the vitamins and minerals you need, but not always. Dr. Howard LeWine explains when vitamins and dietary supplements can be a benficial addition to your diet.

Do you need to gain weight to get pregnant?

Updated June 1, 2009
If you're a lean woman having difficulty getting pregnant, you may have heard that you need to gain weight to get pregnant. Dr. Jorge Chavarro explains if this is true and what's actually ideal to achieve your pregnancy goal.

Understanding an ultrasound report

Updated June 1, 2009
Your first ultrasound can be very exciting — and perplexing. If you need help understanding what will happen or guidance interpreting your ultrasound report, Dr. Peter Doubilet is here to give you a quick tour of the process.

Pregnancy after 35

Updated June 1, 2009
It is true that a woman's risk of having a child with Down's syndrome increases after she turns 35. Dr. Peter Doubilet explains the test to screen for this and other chromosomal issues. Watch to learn more.

Does the pill decrease your libido?

Updated June 1, 2009
The birth control pill, like any other pill, is a medication that brings with it the potential for side effects. For instance, it may decrease your libido. So what can you do? Dr. Teri Greco has some recommendations.

What can I do to increase my chances of conceiving?

Updated June 1, 2009
Dr. Jorge Chavarro answers the question, "What can I do to increase my chances of conceiving?" Watch to find out what foods can help you to achieve your pregnancy goals.

The morning after pill: Options after unprotected sex

Updated June 1, 2009
There are options after unprotected sex. Dr. Richard Zane explains the concerns and the choices. Watch now.

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