Healthy Women Make Healthy Babies!
I have been a RN (in the fields of newborn care, labor and delivery, clinical nutrition, childbirth education, and pediatrics) for 32 years. Additionally, and most relevant to this article, is the fact that I had the great privilege of coordinating the Defeat Autism Now! Conferences for 10 years. As a result of my interaction with hundreds of parents of children with health and developmental problems, I am convinced that the more a woman does prior to conceiving to maximize her health, the less likely she will be to experience problems with fertility as well as complications associated with pregnancy, labor & birth. Of equal significance is the fact that if a woman minimizes her exposure to toxins and maximizes her nutrition before and during her pregnancy, she may greatly decrease the chances that her offspring will develop health, behavioral and or developmental problems.
No one has all the answers as to why so many of our children are being diagnosed with autism, allergies, ADHD, childhood cancers, diabetes, asthma etc. Better diagnosis some say (I can’t accept that one). Possibly an environmental factor? (getting warmer). Certainly the increase in the number of vaccines must play a role (absolutely). The problem is, while the researchers figure out all the answers, more and more children are negatively impacted by these conditions. So when moms of affected children want to get pregnant with another child, or women who have never conceived before ask: what can be done to increase the chances of having a healthy baby, I believe there are common sense, practical and effective strategies for shifting the odds in favor of a very positive outcome.
First: the present state of affairs: Did you know that the CDC has reported that I out of every 6 children born in this country have either a neurological, behavioral or developmental problem? Dr. Kate Thomsen, MD, MPH (Assistant Clinical Professor at UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in NJ) reported at a recent Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet (www.SOKHOP.com) children’s health conference that: “According to the CDC 31% of pregnancies are complicated by maternal health issues, 11% of women who are pregnant smoke, 10% drink alcohol, 69% don’t take enough folate (folic acid), 31% are obese, and 12% of all babies are born prematurely” (which greatly increases their risk of developing health and or neurological problems). At the same conference, Dr. Doris Rapp, MD (a board certified environmental medical specialist, allergist, and author of Our Toxic World, A Wake Up Call) told the audience that according to The National Research Council in Washington, 7% of all couples are now sterile, 50% of all pregnancies end in a stillborn, miscarriage, birth defects or a chronic health problem and finally, in spite of all our medical advances, 7 out of every 1000 US newborns die (which ranks us 27th out of 28 for infant mortality.) I don’t know about you, but I find these statistics startling, more than a little scary, and completely unacceptable.
We all know that the days and weeks immediately following conception are crucial for the development of the fetus. A poor diet, tobacco use, environmental toxins, alcohol, drugs etc. all pose a threat to (what every woman hopes for), a healthy baby. What we don’t often discuss with our physicians or friends (and yet it may be of equal, if not greater significance) is the importance of the health of the mother prior to becoming pregnant. I believe, in order to minimize the complications associated with pregnancy and birth as well as enhance the chances of having a healthy child, a woman should be in an optimal state prior to conceiving. This is why for years I have half jokingly told my daughter, step-daughters and daughters- in- law:”give me your body for one year prior to getting pregnant, and I may be able to save you from the heartache and stress that so many parents of sick or disabled children know only too well”
What do I mean when I say “give me your body for a year prior to conceiving?” Obviously, I’m not a body snatcher and I can’t imagine any of these daughters moving back home for that long a time. What I am suggesting is this: let’s get a good health history and do an assessment of your nutritional status. We also might test for heavy metal toxicity and check to see if there is a yeast (Candida) overgrowth. If there is a history of migraines, fatigue, depression, yeast infections, PMS, acne, constipation etc., we could address those symptoms by implementing a naturally based, nutritional approach that may include a detoxification program. The goal for my daughters (and now my clients) is to get them healthy prior to getting pregnant, so they can increase the likelihood of having a great uncomplicated pregnancy, labor, birth and baby!
Before I get into the specifics of what can be done to ensure an optimal outcome for mom and baby, let me explain a bit about what has changed in our world in the past 60 or so years that may be contributing to the rise in the health problems we are seeing in our children. Around the mid 1940s, exhausted from World War ll, parents of the baby boomers began demanding products that were “convenient.” As a result, many industries began creating items that were derived from plastics and other synthetic materials. The use of both pesticides and prescription drugs escalated, chemicals in cleaning and personal care products increased and processed convenience food became the rage. Industry and technology answered the call of the culture by creating better living through better chemistry. In the 1950s, the 1st generation of children exposed to these chemicals was born (I was one of them!). As we now know, many of these chemicals created for this modern/convenient lifestyle ‘bioaccumulate” or build up in our bodies. Presently, the EPA tells us there are over 80,000 chemicals in our air, water and food and 2.2 billion pounds of chemicals are sprayed on our crops annually. The average American home contains 3-10 gallons of hazardous materials and 85% of the chemicals that are registered have never been tested for their impact on the human body
To read this full article (too long for the blog) with the entire list of suggestions for getting healthy before you get pregnant, go to my website at www.SOKHOP.com. (Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet) The article is a pdf listed on the left side of the home page. Healthy Women, Make Healthy Babies or try
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
On January 4th in the Journal of Pediatrics two papers were published by a team of GI specialists. They were entitled: Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs (Autism Spectrum Disorders) A Consensus Report,and Recommendations for Evaluation and Treatment of Common Gastrointestinal Problems in Children With ASDs. The titles may sound a bit boring, but the significance and impact of these papers is monumental! You see, for years, many parents of children with autism were telling their doctors, "my child has horrible diarrhea, or they are severely constipated or they seem to be in pain." Additionally, these non-verbal kids often had unusual behaviors like biting themselves or aggression or waking up in the middle of the night screaming. Doctors, (not really understanding the medical or physical problems that often accompany an autism diagnosis) would say, "oh they have diarrhea or constipation because they are autistic. Or, they seem like they are in pain because they are autistic." I know what you are thinking....that just doesn't make sense. But it is true (as reported by hundreds if not thousands of parents.) Now, as a result of these new reports, pediatricians are instructed to no longer chalk up unusual behavior or bowel symptoms to the diagnosis of autism, but rather they are encouraged to investigate the underlying causes and treat the child's discomfort, pain, or GI disease. I know it seems like doctors should have listened to the parents long before this and it shouldn't have taken 27 investigators reviewing all the literature and publishing a consensus report in the Journal of Pediatrics to get pediatricians and others in the medical profession to wake up and take the necessary steps to address these conditions. But it did. I for one would like to celebrate this victory on behalf of the many parents who were told there was nothing that could be done, and for the children who had to suffer through their discomfort. Finally, the conclusion has been drawn that children with autism often do have medical disorders including GI diseases and that these maladies (abdominal pain, chronic constipation, diarrhea,and gastroesophageal reflux)can be at the route of unusual behavior. These two papers represent a long overdue acknowledgement of what parents had been telling doctors for years. Now I pray for the next miracle or breakthrough.... a similar paper will appear in a prestigious medical journal stating (what many of us already know) and that is: when a child with autism's physical discomfort and medical conditions are addressed and they begin to feel better....., lo and behold, they show improvement in other areas such as: cognition, speech, attention, behavior. The Defeat Autism Now! organization has been saying this for years. But you wait and see, mainstream docs are going to get this any day now!