Pinterest Bars Vaccination Searches in Move to Control the Conversation

Published in The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Edition, on February 27, 2019, by Robert McMillan and Daniela Hernandez:  Original Article

Pinterest has stopped returning results for searches related to vaccinations, a drastic step the social-media company said is aimed at curbing the spread of misinformation but one that demonstrates the power of tech companies to censor discussion of hot-button issues.

Most shared images on Pinterest relating to vaccination cautioned against it, contradicting established medical guidelines and research showing that vaccines are safe, Pinterest said. The image-searching platform tried to remove the antivaccination content, a Pinterest spokeswoman said, but has been unable to remove it completely.

Pinterest described the search ban—which the company hasn’t previously publicly discussed but which went into effect late last year—as a temporary but necessary measure until it can develop better strategies to sift through what it calls “polluted” content. The company made a similar decision last year to block searches for dubious cancer therapies.

Users can still pin vaccine-related images to their online boards, which could lead to suggestions for similar content, but the posts no longer show up in searches. “It’s better not to serve those results than to lead people down what is like a recommendation rabbit hole,” said Ifeoma Ozoma, Pinterest’s public policy and social manager. The technology industry is grappling with the thorny issue of how and when to take responsibility for information on its platforms. Companies including Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. have begun to police hate speech, violence, terrorism-recruitment campaigns and sexual harassment on their services, shutting down millions of accounts. But those actions have sparked counter-complaints about everything from political bias and censorship to a lack of transparency in the process.

“There’s a secretive process with no real appeal where people are making extremely difficult subjective calls that have to do with politics, culture and religion,” said Jennifer Granick, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. “This example shows why it is dangerous. If I want to find good information about vaccines, I can’t find it.”

The aggressive move by Pinterest marks another change in the way large tech companies are trying to handle the responsibility of monitoring the flow of information.

“Until recently, social-media companies have drawn a line in the sand saying they’re not arbiters of truth; that they are passive purveyors of information,” said Samuel Woolley, a researcher who studies social-media disinformation at the Institute for the Future think tank.

“There’s been pressure on them for a long time to respond to this because the reality of this is the spread of misinformation— especially around vaccines— leads to extremely bad consequences, including death,” he said.

Last week, Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) wrote to Google and Facebook, expressing his concern that the tech giants’ algorithms were recommending messages that would discourage parents from vaccinating their children.

In response, Facebook said Friday that it was considering changes to the way its algorithm recommends health-related information, including demoting or ceasing recommendations of antivaccine material. Over the past few years Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., has introduced measures to improve the quality of its health-related search results, such as “knowledge panels” that pop up with authoritative information on searches for medical conditions. These panels are sourced from places such as the Mayo Clinic and are reviewed by medical professionals.

YouTube said it is working with experts to provide more context, including information panels, in its search results, and the company has pledged to improve its search and recommendations when it comes to medical content.

Misinformation about health-related issues can be particularly pernicious because it can affect people’s well-being, physicians said. In Washington state’s Clark County, a measles outbreak this winter has infected 62 people, most of them unvaccinated children. Dr. Alan Melnick, the county’s public-health director, said “the onslaught of fairly sophisticated but nonsense messages on social media” has contributed to the problem. Amid the outbreak, the county’s Facebook page was littered with comments falsely claiming that vaccinated children could spread the disease to others and links to a YouTube video falsely claiming a link between autism and the vaccine used to fight measles, mumps, and rubella, he said.

Pinterest also has begun to block certain cancer-related searches, content and accounts related to dubious cancer therapies, which are another source of misinformation, according to the company. A Pinterest spokeswoman said the company is working on new ways of keeping misleading content out of its recommendations engine.

In December, Pinterest blocked multiple accounts that promote what it determined to be false cancer treatments or that linked to third-party websites selling supplements or other merchandise that haven’t been scientifically vetted, according to the company.

Its decision came following a collaboration with social-media intelligence firm Storyful, which identified cancer as “one of those areas where there is more misinformation than not,” Ms. Ozoma said. Storyful is owned by News Corp, The Wall Street Journal’s parent company. Storyful confirmed the collaboration and said its assessment of cancer-related misinformation was ongoing.

Pinterest trains and uses human reviewers to make determinations about whether or not shared images on the site, called pins, violate its health-misinformation guidelines. Pinterest has felt blowback from users who feel that the removal of these posts is an overreach, Ms. Ozoma said.

Kevin Malone, 58 years old, who gets medical information from podcasts and Facebook, among other sources, said he would “hate to see [social media] totally censored.” In the past, traditional doctors haven’t been able to treat his ailments well, including infections and a heart condition, he said. Through friends and social media, he’s found therapies that work for him, he said. “I think it’s a disservice to the population who like me want to be proactive and want this knowledge,” said Mr. Malone, a physical therapist from Ocean Shores, Wash.


Groundbreaking CMS study shows better outcomes and lower costs at birth centers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services study confirms what we have experienced in our practice for many years, but on a national scale – that women who get their care at birth centers experience better outcomes, on average. – Ann McCarthy, CNM, MSN, Clinical Director of The Midwife Center, 01/30/2019

The results of a recent groundbreaking study are in: birth centers are coming out on top!

According to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) study, Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns, individuals with Medicaid who received prenatal care in birth centers like The Midwife Center experienced better birth outcomes compared to the rest of the nation, on average.

Why this study is important

Right now, the U.S. maternity care system is failing our mothers and newborns. We spend more on healthcare than any other country, yet women and newborns experience significant disparities associated with race, poverty, and access to quality care.

  • One in ten births is premature, and Black babies have a higher risk of prematurity
  • Maternity care is one of our nation’s largest healthcare expenditures
  • Preterm birth alone costs over $26 billion per year

Key stats

Researchers collected data on individuals receiving care within enhanced prenatal care models.* The study looked at 8,806 individuals enrolled in Strong Start Birth Centers.**

  • All had Medicaid
  • 10% had a previous preterm birth
  • 33% exhibited symptoms of depression, anxiety, or both

Individuals enrolled in Strong Start Birth Centers experienced better health outcomes, on average, compared to the rest of the nation:

Primary c-section rate is for first baby only (Osterman, 2014). Other US numbers are from 2016 (Martin, 2018). Total c-section rate includes repeat c-sections.

What’s next?

As midwives and birth center professionals, the study confirmed what we already knew – that birth center clients experience better outcomes, and the maternity care system as a whole experiences lower costs. We are thrilled to see this confirmed by the CMS study. We hope that policymakers at the state and national level will work to improve health outcomes by expanding access to birth center care.

We at The Midwife Center were honored to play a significant role in the study. Due to the success of the study, we have continued to provide information and resource counseling to our clients in addition to new and expanded services like behavioral health and wellness.

More information:

– CMS’s “Findings at a glance” (PDF)

– Full findings at

– Original Blog by Ann McCarthy, CNM, MSN

The Politicization of Motherhood

Conservatives cheer and liberals jeer New York psychoanalyst Erica Komisar’s book on the science of early childhood development.

Motherhood used to be as American as apple pie. Nowadays it can be as antagonistic as American politics. Ask Erica Komisar.

Ms. Komisar, 53, is a Jewish psychoanalyst who lives and practices on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. If that biographical thumbnail leads you to stereotype her as a political liberal, you’re right. But she tells me she has become “a bit of a pariah” on the left because of the book she published this year, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters.”

Christian radio stations “interviewed me and loved me,” she says. She went on “Fox & Friends,” and “the host was like, your book is the best thing since the invention of the refrigerator.” But “I couldn’t get on NPR,” and “I was rejected wholesale—particularly in New York—by the liberal press.” She did appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” but seconds before the camera went live, she says, the interviewer told her: “I don’t believe in the premise of your book at all. I don’t like your book.”

The premise of Ms. Komisar’s book—backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics—is that “mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. “Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,” Ms. Komisar says. She cites the view of one neuroscientist, Nim Tottenham of Columbia University, “that babies are born without a central nervous system” and “mothers are the central nervous system to babies,” especially for the first nine months after birth.

What does that mean? “Every time a mother comforts a baby in distress, she’s actually regulating that baby’s emotions from the outside in. After three years, the baby internalizes that ability to regulate their emotions, but not until then.” For that reason, mothers “need to be there as much as possible, both physically and emotionally, for children in the first 1,000 days.”

The regulatory mechanism is oxytocin, a neurotransmitter popularly known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin, Ms. Komisar explains, “is a buffer against stress.” Mothers produce it when they give birth, breastfeed or otherwise nurture their children. “The more oxytocin the mother produces, the more she produces it in the baby” by communicating via eye contact, touch and gentle talk. The baby’s brain in turn develops oxytocin receptors, which allow for self-regulation at a later age.

Women produce more oxytocin than men do, which answers the obvious question of why fathers aren’t as well-suited as mothers for this sort of “sensitive, empathetic nurturing.” People “want to feel that men and women are fungible,” observes Ms. Komisar—but they aren’t, at least not when it comes to parental roles. Fathers produce a “different nurturing hormone” known as vasopressin, “what we call the protective, aggressive hormone.”

Whereas a mother of a crying baby will “lean into the pain and say, ‘Oh, honey!’ ” a father is more apt to tell the child: “C’mon, you’re OK. Brush yourself off; let’s go back to play.” Children, especially boys, need that paternal nurturing to learn to control their aggression and become self-sufficient. But during the first stages of childhood, motherly love is more vital.

Ms. Komisar’s interest in early childhood development grew out of her three decades’ experience treating families, first as a clinical social worker and later as an analyst. “What I was seeing was an increase in children being diagnosed with ADHD and an increase in aggression in children, particularly in little boys, and an increase in depression in little girls.” More youngsters were also being diagnosed with “social disorders” whose symptoms resembled those of autism—“having difficulty relating to other children, having difficulty with empathy.”

As Ms. Komisar “started to put the pieces together,” she found that “the absence of mothers in children’s lives on a daily basis was what I saw to be one of the triggers for these mental disorders.” She began to devour the scientific literature and found that it reinforced her intuition. Her interest became a preoccupation: “My husband would say I was a one-note Charlie,” she recalls. “I would come home and I would rant and I would say, ‘Oh my God, I’m seeing these things. I’ve got to write a book about it.’ ”

That was 12 years ago. She followed her own advice and held off working on the book because her own young children, two sons and a daughter, still needed her to be “emotionally and physically present.”

She uses that experience as a rejoinder to critics who accuse her of trying to limit women’s choices. “You can do everything in life,” she says, “but you can’t do it all at the same time.” Another example is Nita Lowey, a 15-term U.S. representative from New York’s northern suburbs: “She started her career when she was in her 40s, and she said to me she wished she’d waited longer. She said her youngest was 9.”

Ms. Lowey is a liberal Democrat, but she was born in 1937 and thus may have more traditional inclinations than women of the baby boom and later generations. Ms. Komisar tells of hosting a charity gathering for millennials at her apartment. One young woman “asked me what my book was about. I told her, and she got so angry. She almost had fire coming out of her eyes, she was so angry at my message. She said, ‘You are going to set women back 50 years.’ I said, ‘Gosh, I wouldn’t want to do that.’ ”

Male attitudes have changed as well, Ms. Komisar says: “A lot of young men, particularly millennials, have been raised to believe that it’s even-steven; that women are to bring in as much money, and they’re always going to work.” Young women “make promises to their partners, these young men: ‘I’m going to work forever, I’m going to make as much money as you; maybe I’ll make more than you.’ It’s almost like a testosterone kind of competition.”

The needs of children get lost in all this—and Ms. Komisar hears repeatedly that the hostility to her message is born of guilt. When she was shopping for a literary agent, she tells me, “a number of the agents said, ‘No, we couldn’t touch that. That would make women feel guilty.’ ” Another time she was rejected for a speaking gig at a health conference. She quotes the head of the host institution as telling her: “You are going to make women feel badly. How dare you?”

In Ms. Komisar’s view, guilt isn’t necessarily bad. “My best patient is a patient who comes to me feeling guilty,” she says. “Women who feel guilty—it’s a ‘signal’ feeling, that something’s wrong, that they’re in conflict. If they go talk to a therapist or deal with the conflict head-on, they often make different choices and better choices.”

That’s “better,” not “perfect,” and Ms. Komisar is at pains to emphasize that “mothering is not about perfection.” She acknowledges, too, that staying at home isn’t right for all new mothers: Some lack the wherewithal to take time off work; some are depressed or distracted and “not really emotionally present.” When the mother can’t be there, Ms. Komisar says, the best alternative is a “single surrogate caregiver,” optimally a relative.

“The thing I dislike the most is day care,” she says. “It’s really not appropriate for children under the age of 3,” because it is “overstimulating” given their neurological undevelopment. She cites the “Strange Situation experiments,” devised in 1969 by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth, a pioneer of attachment theory: “A mother and the baby are on the floor playing. The mother gets up and leaves the baby in the room alone. The baby has a separation-anxiety response. A stranger walks in; the baby has a stressed reaction to the stranger.”

Researchers sample the infant’s saliva and test it for cortisol, a hormone associated with stress (and inversely correlated with oxytocin). In a series of such experiments in which Ms. Komisar herself participated, “the levels were so high in the babies that the anticipation was that it would . . . in the end, cause disorders and problems.” In a more recent variant of the experiment, scientists use functional magnetic resonance imaging to look directly at the brain of an infant reacting to photos of the mother and of a stranger.

You can see why tradition-minded conservatives welcome Ms. Komisar so warmly. Think about how they are stereotyped—as backward, superstitious, hostile to science. She shows that science validates what they know as common sense.

But although she returns their affection, she doesn’t share their distaste for contemporary mores. “We don’t want the ’50s to come back,” she tells me. “Women had children who didn’t want to have children. Women didn’t have other choices than having children, and women were ostracized if they didn’t have children. And women were ostracized if they went out into the world and worked.”

“What we do want,” she says, “is to be a child-centric society.” To that end, she offers a proposal many conservatives will find uncongenial: a government mandate that employers provide generous maternity benefits. “All mothers and babies should have the right to be together in the first year,” Ms. Komisar says. That means maternity leave at full pay, “and then the flexibility to be together as much as possible for the next two years—meaning mothers should have the ability to work flexibly and part-time.”

Ms. Komisar sounds very much like a liberal when she observes of the U.S. that “we’re the only civilized country that doesn’t have a maternity-leave policy.” I ask what she thinks of Ivanka Trump’s proposal to mandate six weeks’ paid leave for primary caregivers, regardless of sex. “It’s a start,” Ms. Komisar says. “It is not enough. Babies are just waking up from birth after six weeks, and even at three months they are incredibly vulnerable and not necessarily bonded with their mothers.”

But if most conservatives find Ms. Komisar’s solution too coercive or expensive, most liberals won’t even acknowledge the problem. “If we defend the idea that mothers are not necessary,” she asks, “what chance do we have to get a maternity-leave policy?” As important as her insights into child development are, her policy proposal seems destined for the political orphanage.

Mr. Taranto is the Journal’s editorial features editor.

Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding: Is It Safe?

By The Recovery Village’s Recovery Blog;

Link to original blog: Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding: Is It Safe?

There is a great deal of evidence regarding the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant, but the risks of drinking while breastfeeding aren’t as clearly defined. Doctors and other professionals have differing opinions on the issue, with some claiming breastfeeding alcohol to a baby is dangerous only if large amounts are consumed. Others argue that alcohol and breastfeeding simply don’t mix and that no amount of alcohol is safe for a baby. If you’re currently nursing, it’s important to be aware of the possible risks associated with drinking alcohol.

What Are the Dangers of Breastfeeding Alcohol to a Baby?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, studies indicate that there are many health benefits to breastfeeding for infants, including a reduced risk of asthma, allergies and type 2 diabetes. However, the Academy advises against habitually drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. One of the reasons is that this substance passes through breast milk, just as any other beverage or food that the mother consumes. Alcohol moves through breast milk at the same rate that it moves through the blood; the more that’s consumed, the longer it takes to clear from the bloodstream and breast milk.

In general, drinking alcohol in large amounts can be dangerous for anyone, but the following are some of the potential risks associated with drinking in excess while breastfeeding:Impaired motor development for the infant

        • •Impaired motor development for the infant
        • •Changes in sleep pattern for the infant
        • •Decreased milk production
        • •A reduction in consumed breast milk (20% less), since alcohol can change the taste of the milk
        • •Weakness in the infant
        • •Increased risk for pseudo-Cushing syndrome (see below)

Pseudo-Cushing syndrome (PCS) is a condition comparable to Cushing’s syndrome (a condition caused by excessive cortisol in the body), which is often characterized by weight gain, among other symptoms. According to an article from The Journal of Pediatrics, a 4-month-old breastfed infant developed pseudo-Cushing syndrome because of the mother’s chronic and heavy alcohol consumption (50 cans of beer weekly, in addition to other alcoholic beverages).  As a result of the syndrome, the infant had a diminished length, a bloated appearance and excessive weight gain while breastfeeding. These symptoms, fortunately, disappeared after the mother stopped drinking alcohol.

Alcohol and Breastfeeding Myths

Before making a decision about whether you’ll choose to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, it’s important to separate the myths from the facts. The following are some disproven myths:

Myth: Drinking alcohol will increase milk production

Fact: Although this a common belief, the opposite is true; drinking alcohol while breastfeeding can actually decrease milk production.

Myth: “Pumping and dumping” will remove the alcohol from breast milk.

Fact: Pumping and dumping breast milk does nothing to remove alcohol content from it. It’s typically done only to relieve discomfort from engorgement.

Myth: Alcohol helps with milk letdown.

Fact: This is another popular belief of nursing mothers, but drinking alcohol while breastfeeding does nothing to improve milk letdown.

Is It Ever Safe to Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

The answer to this question depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the amount of time that passes between the last drink and the time breastfeeding or pumping begins. With that in mind, yes, it can be safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, but only if a small amount is consumed and only after it has completely cleared from the breast milk.

The type of alcohol, the amount consumed and the mother’s body weight determine how long it takes for alcohol to clear from the bloodstream and breast milk. Typically, blood alcohol content peaks about 30–60 minutes after consumption, but it may take several hours for it to be eliminated from the body. In fact, it could take up to three hours for a 120-pound woman to eliminate one serving of beer or wine from her body, according to La Leche League. It could take four times longer for the same woman to eliminate a drink with a high alcohol content, like vodka, from her body.

If you plan to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, it’s best to take the following precautions to prevent breastfeeding alcohol to your infant (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Health Service):

•Drink alcohol only immediately after nursing or pumping, instead of before.

•Allow at least two hours per drink (12-ounce beer, 4-ounce glass of wine or one ounce of hard liquor) before breastfeeding or pumping to allow the alcohol to clear from your system.

•Drink no more than two units of alcohol once or twice a week while breastfeeding.

If you’re struggling with an alcohol-related disorder, or any other substance use disorder, The Recovery Village® can help. Call today to speak with an intake coordinator to kick-start the healing process.

Pediatricians Say No Fruit Juice in Child’s First Year

The nation’s top pediatricians are advising parents to stop giving fruit juice to children in the first year of life, saying the drink is not as healthful as many parents think.

In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics had advised parents to avoid 100 percent fruit juice for babies younger than 6 months. On Monday, the group toughened its stance against juice, recommending that the drink be banned entirely from a baby’s diet during the first year. The concern is that juice offers no nutritional benefits early in life, and can take the place of what babies really need: breast milk or formula and their protein, fat and minerals like calcium, the group said.

This is the first time the pediatricians’ group has updated its guidelines on fruit juice since 2001.

“I think this is a fantastic recommendation for infants, and it’s long overdue,” said Dr. Elsie M. Taveras, chief of the division of general pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, who was not involved in the new report. “Parents feel their infants need fruit juices, but that’s a misconception.”

The new recommendations may surprise parents who thought 100 percent fruit juice was healthy for babies, or nutritionally equivalent to fruit itself.

But whole fruit typically has more fiber than fruit juice and is less likely to cause dental decay, said Dr. Steven Abrams, a lead author of the new report and the chairman of pediatrics at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.

Whole fruit is “less of a pure sugar intake,” Dr. Abrams said. “We want kids to learn how to eat fresh foods. If you assume fruit juice is equal to fruit, then you’re not getting that message.”

Dr. Man Wai Ng, the dentist in chief at Boston Children’s Hospital, applauded the ban on juice for infants and took a hard-line stance for preschoolers and older children. “One hundred percent fruit juice should be offered only on special occasions, especially for kids who are at high-risk for tooth decay,” she said.

Four ounces of apple juice has no fiber, 60 calories and 13 grams of sugar. By comparison, a half cup of apple slices has 1.5 grams of fiber, 30 calories and 5.5 grams of sugar. The fiber in a piece of fruit also increases fullness.

In terms of sugar and calories, store-bought juice is similar to soda. For instance, four ounces of lemon-lime soda has 12.6 grams of sugar and 46 calories, both slightly less than apple juice.

The new report, published online in the journal Pediatrics, also advised restricting fruit juice to four ounces daily for 1- to 3-year-olds, and six ounces a day for 4- to 6-year-olds. The 2001 guidelines gave parents more wiggle room to decide if four or six ounces daily was appropriate for preschoolers. By contrast, the advice for 4- to 6-year-olds stayed the same.

The latest report curbed the maximum daily intake for older children, aged 6 to 18. It used to be 12 ounces; now only eight ounces are advised.

There is not a convincing link between obesity and children drinking modest amounts of fruit juice. Still, the report said, juice “has no essential role in healthy, balanced diets of children.”

In a statement, Cathy Dunn, a spokeswoman for Gerber, said the company is supportive of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ new advice for infants, and plans to update its website to reposition “all Gerber juices for the toddler milestone, which is 12 months or older.”

Stephanie Meyering, a spokeswoman for the Juice Products Association, a trade group, said that while “juice is not necessary for children under age 1,” real fruit juice “is a nutritious complement to whole fruit in a balanced diet” for toddlers and older children.

Some manufacturers, like Gerber, make juice for infants, marketing it as a way to add vitamin C and flavor variety to a baby’s diet.

But Dr. Abrams said, “You want to be careful about saying ‘Drink juice for vitamins’ because they can be added to anything.”

Another concern is that juice can be a gateway drink of sorts, Dr. Taveras said, adding, “We have studies that show infants who drink more juice in that early life period are more likely to go on to drink soda and sugar-containing beverages.”

Currently, the federal government’s advice on healthful eating, called the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, does not weigh in on juice for very young children. The guidelines, which are compiled by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments, make recommendations only for ages 2 and older. The guidelines count a cup of 100 percent fruit juice the same as a serving of fruit, but urge that at least half of the recommended amount should come from actual fruit.

It is unclear if the next U.S.D.A. guidance will forbid juice for infants. But the very young will be included for the first time in the 2020 guidelines, according to Brooke Hardison, a department spokeswoman.

Some federal assistance programs have already restricted juice for very young children. Since 2009, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, has stopped listing juice as an acceptable purchase on the checks given to new mothers and babies in their first year. A WIC check, voucher or electronic benefit transfer card specifies which foods in what quantities can be bought at stores, so once a baby becomes a toddler, 100 percent fruit juice can be purchased.

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies — a private nonprofit — called for the “omission of fruit juice of any type before the age of 1 year” in federally supported day care centers.

More than 4.2 million children, including those in Head Start, take part in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. By October, child care centers and day care homes will be prohibited from providing fruit juice to infants as part of a reimbursable meal through that program.

Unhappy relationships may lead to excessive crying in infants
While colic is common among infants, researchers remain unclear on what causes the condition. A new study suggests that a mother’s relationship happiness and level of social support might play a role.
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) found that infants of mothers who reported low relationship happiness were more likely to have colic than infants of mothers who reported happier relationships.Furthermore, the team found that mothers who reported receiving greater social support from their partners, friends, or family were less likely to have a baby with colic.The findings were recently published in the journal Child: Care, Health and DevelopmentColic is a condition characterized by fussiness and excessive, inconsolable crying for more than 3 hours per day, 3 days per week, for more than 3 weeks. Babies with colic often cry at the same time each day, and most crying episodes occur in the late afternoon or evening.According to the American Pregnancy Association, around 20 to 25 percent of babies experience colic, and the condition normally reaches a peak at 6 to 8 weeks of age.

The causes of colic are unknown, though intestinal gas, overfeeding, an immature nervous system, and lactose intoleranceare believed to be some of the possible triggers.

Now, senior study author Kristen Kjerulff, professor of public health sciences at Penn State, and colleagues suggest that low relationship happiness and social support among mothers may put their infants at risk of colic.

Kjerulff and team reached their findings by assessing the data of 3,006 women aged between 18 and 35 years who were a part of Penn State’s First Baby Study. All women had given birth to their first child between January 2009 and April 2011.

As part of the study, mothers were required to report how happy they were with their partner, how much social support they received from their partner, and the level of social support they received from family members and friends.

Around 11.6 percent of new mothers reported that their infant had colic.

‘Love makes a difference’

The researchers found that the happier mothers were in their relationship during and after pregnancy, the less likely they were to have an infant with colic. This finding remained even after accounting for postpartum depression.

Additionally, the risk of colic was lower for infants of mothers who reported greater social support from their partners. In particular, the team found that the more partners helped with infant care, and the greater a partners’ love and affection for the baby, the lower their infant’s colic risk.

Mothers who reporting receiving greater social support from family and friends also had infants with lower risk of colic.

The researchers were interested to find that the lowest risk of colic was found among infants of single mothers. While this finding was deemed statistically insignificant, the team points out that single mothers reported having higher levels of general social support, which may contribute to lower colic risk for infants.

“If you don’t have a partner you can still have lots of social support, lots of love, and lots of happy relationships, and all of that’s going to be better for the baby,” says Kjerulff. “Love makes a difference.”

In future research, the team plans to assess whether parental relationships and social support affect the risk of health complications related to infant colic, such as food allergies.

In the meantime, the researchers believe that their findings indicate that fathers play a significant role in their children’s risk of colic.

Please click this hyperlink for the original article: Unhappy relationships and crying babies

Yoga Makes Period Cramps Feel Better
Date: May 02, 2017
Source: TIME Health.

A painful period can make you want to curl up in a ball, but head to the mat instead. Yoga may provide relief from common menstrual complaints like cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), according to a new review of studies published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

The review analyzed the findings of 15 studies that looked at how a regular yoga practice affects a woman’s experience of cramps, PMS, polycystic ovary syndrome (which can cause missed or infrequent periods) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe form of PMS that involves serious mood-related symptoms as well as physical ones.

All of the studies found that yoga was linked to reduced severity of symptoms and pain relief in women suffering from these conditions. Some also found reductions in bloating and breast tenderness, more regularity in women’s cycles, better moods and more relaxation and concentration.

Yoga appears to relieve both physical and mental symptoms. “The authors of these studies suggest that yoga works on the autonomic stress response and also on how pain is experienced and interpreted, perhaps by stimulating the release of the body’s natural painkillers,” says review author Jennifer Oates, a lecturer in mental health nursing at King’s College London.

The studies in the review included a different types of yoga practices and intensities, although most involved daily or every-other-day sessions. Further research is needed to determine exactly which yoga practices are best for menstrual health, says Oates, and whether they can provide long-term benefits.

She also says that future studies should look at yoga practices “that are a bit more typical of the average busy woman, maybe one or two classes a week.” She hopes to follow up her review with a case-controlled study of a twice-weekly practice with a standardized sequence of poses, such as Ashtanga yoga.

But even based on her current findings, she recommends that healthy women with menstrual distress give yoga a try. Most of the studies asked women to practice throughout their cycles (rather than just during their period), and measured results over several weeks or months. “I would recommend attending more than one class before deciding it did or didn’t work,” she says.

She also suggests that beginners start with a gentle Hatha-style class before branching out to explore other types. Classes that incorporate breathing and relaxation techniques, in addition to a focus on postures, may also be beneficial for period pain and mood symptoms, she says.

Finally, Oates says that many yoga textbooks and teachers advise women to refrain from inverted postures, such as headstand or shoulder stand, during their periods. None of the studies she looked at addressed this concern, but “in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I would say listen to your teachers and tradition,” she says. “There are plenty of other postures and practices that are more comfortable to do during those few days.

Please click this hyperlink for the original article: Yoga helps period cramps

US pregnant women falling short of omega-3 intake recommendations

By Stephen Daniells+


Many pregnant women in the US are consuming significantly lower EPA and DHA omega-3s than recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to a new analysis. 

DHA and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) play critical roles for growth and development, with recent analyses indicating significant reductions in early preterm birtha reduced risk of asthma in the children, and improved attention in children.

Data presented at the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting in Chicago this week by Dr Susan Mitmesser, Sr Director of Nutrition and Scientific Affairs at The Nature’s Bounty Co, indicated that the mean intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from foods alone were 30 and 59 mg per day, respectively.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015–2020) recommend the consumption of approximately 250mg EPA and DHA per day for the general population; while pregnant and lactating women are recommended to consume at least 8 and up to 12 ounces in order to obtain nutrients (specifically DHA) for improved infant health.

“These results suggested that many pregnant women consume less EPA and DHA from foods than the DGA recommendation,” wrote Dr Mitmesser and Dr Jamie Zhang in The FASEB Journal. “Increasing seafood consumption or considering EPA and DHA supplementation during this very important life stage may be an effective compliment if food intakes cannot be met.”

Study details

Drs Mitmesser and Zhang analyzed data from 805 pregnant women captured by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) cycles 2001–2006. Sixty percent of the women were non-Hispanic White, 21% were non-Hispanic Black, and 19% were Mexican American.

Preliminary results showed that the mean intakes of EPA and DHA from foods alone were 30 and 59 mg per day, respectively.

Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at Experimental Biology 2017 Dr Mitmesser said: “The novelty of this study is that there was no intake data for pregnant women over 14 years of the NHANES data. We found that pregnant women were not reaching the recommendations. They were not even close. And over 14 years, there has only been a 12 mg increase in EPA and DHA intakes. That’s pitiful.

“There is a need for filling the gap, and women need to know where to get their omega-3s, why they are important, and how to fill the gap because you cannot get it all from the diet.”

Please click this hyperlink for the original article:  US Pregnant Women & Omega-3’s

Breathe: The Home Birth Documentary

“Breathe” documents ten women and their exciting journey through the home birth process. We hear the women’s stories and meet their midwives, who teach us about the safety of birthing at home for low-risk pregnancies.

Birth is not a competition. There is no right and wrong way to give birth. Women who give birth at home are no more brave than any other women. This documentary presents the home births as a way to show what birth can be without interventions. It explores the following questions: What would we be capable of doing if we let go of fear? If we trusted our bodies? If we focused on more than just the pain?

“Breathe” seeks to break down stereotypes of those who chose to give birth at home by presenting the stories of women who come from diverse backgrounds. Japan, Russia, and Spain are some of the birth cities of the women in the documentary.

This is the only documentary that shows ten raw, real home births. We want to invite women to research and get information to learn about their choices when giving birth. While not every woman will choose a home birth, every woman has a right to make evidence-based decisions regarding the birth of their baby.

Morning sickness linked to lower risk of pregnancy loss


Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy were associated with a substantially reduced risk of pregnancy loss in a prospective preconception cohort of almost 800 pregnant women.

Although there has long been the suggestion that nausea is a sign of a healthy pregnancy, the evidence supporting this idea has been limited.

“Much of the published literature reports on studies that enrolled women after a clinically recognized pregnancy, thereby failing to include women with early pregnancy losses or relying on participant recall of nausea and/or loss,” wrote Stefanie N. Hinkle, PhD, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md., and her colleagues.

In this study, the researchers examined data from 797 women with one or two prior pregnancy losses and a current pregnancy confirmed by an HCG pregnancy test. They all were enrolled in a randomized clinical trial on the effects of aspirin on gestation and reproduction (JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Sep 26. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5641).

Participants kept a daily record of nausea and vomiting symptoms for gestational weeks 2-8 and then monthly after that. At week 12, 86% of the women reported nausea and 35% reported nausea with vomiting at least once a week in the previous 4 weeks.

Overall, women with nausea and vomiting in any given week had a 75% lower risk of pregnancy loss during that week (hazard ratio, 0.25), while those with only nausea had a 50% reduction in pregnancy loss (HR, 0.50), compared with women with neither symptom.

For women who had a peri-implantation pregnancy loss, the researchers found a similar association but it did not reach statistical significance. The hazard ratio was 0.59 for women who had nausea only and 0.51 for women who experienced nausea with vomiting.

Among women who did not experience a peri-implantation pregnancy loss, nausea only and nausea with vomiting were associated with a 66% (HR, 0.44) and 80% (HR, 0.20) reduction in risk for pregnancy loss, respectively, compared with women with neither symptom. These reductions in risk were similar when the analysis was limited to first-trimester pregnancy loss and persisted even after accounting for lifestyle and fetal factors, such as number of prior pregnancy losses, body-mass index, fetal karyotype, and multiple fetal gestations.

“These findings overcome prior analytic and design limitations and represent the most definitive data available, to our knowledge, indicating the protective association of nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy on the risk for pregnancy loss and thus may provide reassurance to women experiencing these difficult symptoms in pregnancy,” researchers wrote.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health. The researchers reported having no financial disclosures.

For the original article, please click this hyperlink: Morning sickness linked to lower risk of pregnancy loss

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