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March 7, 2011

Stay Away From Secondhand Smoke

Filed under: General Information, Info for Dads — Tags: , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 9:00 am

Secondhand smoke is damaging to your unborn child, according to a new article in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics that pools the results of 19 other studies on the subject. The authors concluded that babies of nonsmoking moms who are exposed to secondhand smoke were at greater risk for stillbirth and a range of birth defects.

The researchers noted that it’s unclear whether active smoking by the father could damage genes in his sperm and affect the child, too.

If you live with a smoker, ask them to stop, for your benefit and for your child’s.

November 19, 2009

Folic Acid: Good For You and Your Baby

Filed under: Nutrition During Pregnancy — Tags: , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 5:34 pm

I was watching TV yesterday when I saw a segment about the possible link between folic acid and cancer. Negative stories about folic acid concern me because I think they can be confusing to women who are constantly being told they need folic acid every day during their childbearing years.  Folic acid is vital for preventing certain birth defects that occur within the first month of pregnancy, and it is also necessary for the entire eight months of pregnancy after that. Mom needs folic acid for a healthy heart, too.

A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association is the source of research suggesting a link between folic acid and cancer. I’ve read the study and its results have no bearing on how much folic acid women who are capable of having a child should take every day. The levels of folic acid - 800 micrograms -given to people in the study was nearly double the suggested amounts for adults in the US. In addition, the effects of  folic acid take by itself was not studied, as folic acid was always taken in combination with high doses of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, or both. That makes it  impossible to directly relate taking folic acid to cancer risk.

Here’s what you should know: Women who are not pregnant or nursing need 400 micrograms of folic acid a day - about the amount found in your garden variety, over-the-counter multivitamin.  You need 6oo micrograms daily once pregnancy occurs, and 500 micrograms daily when nursing. Since many common grain products made in the US are fortified with folic acid, you’ll easily reach your prepregnancy and pregnancy goals by taking a multivitamin and eating a balanced diet that includes fortified bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.

Remember, there’s no need to go overboard on any vitamin.  When you’re dealing with the health of a developing child, just because a little is good does not mean a lot is better.

Bottom line: Keep taking folic acid, for you and your baby’s health.

September 14, 2009

Choline: Multivitamins Don’t Have Enough

Filed under: General Information, Nutrition During Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 10:39 am

Do you know what choline is? Most people do not, including women who may be pregnant, will become pregnant, or are nursing a child.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, choline happens to be very important during pregnancy and nursing, and women in this vulnerable population are coming up short for choline: only 14% of pregnant American women get enough choline in their diets.

Here’s why choline is critical. Choline helps to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) that form very early in pregnancy, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant. During pregnancy, choline fosters brain development. Because choline is part of all cells, it is necessary to support growth during pregnancy and infancy; nursing mothers need more choline than pregnant women.

Mom and dad require choline, too. Choline helps to head off heart disease and breast cancer, and it’s necessary for muscle and liver health.

Prescription and over-the-counter prenatal pills, and multivitamins, do not contain enough choline to meet your needs.  Nonpregnant women require 425 milligrams of choline daily; pregnant women need 450 milligrams; and nursing women, and men over the age of 13 should consume 550 milligrams of choline every day.

The great thing about choline is that it’s found in a wide variety of foods you probably have in your kitchen right now. Foods rich in protein, including eggs, pork, beef, and salmon, have the most choline. Plant foods provide less, but it is possible to get enough choline from a vegetarian eating plan that is careful to include an array of foods.

Meet your choline needs by including choline-rich foods every day as part of a balanced diet.  Here’s a chart of the choline content of some favorite foods, adapted from Expect the Best, to help:

• Egg, 1 large*, cooked any way: 125 milligrams

• Ground beef, 3 ounces, cooked : 83 milligrams

• Pork tenderloin, 3 ounces, cooked: 76 milligrams

• Salmon, 3 ounces, cooked: 65 milligrams

• Chicken, 3 ounces, cooked: 65 milligrams

• Navy beans or kidney beans, 1 cup, cooked: 45 milligrams

• Milk, 1% low fat, 1 cup: 45 milligrams

• Broccoli or cauliflower, 1 1/4 cups, cooked: 40 milligrams

* All of the choline is found in the egg yolk.

To learn more about choline, visit www.cholineinfo.org.