New heart guidelines to stop newborn defects
American Heart Association estimates that out of 1,000 births, nine babies will
have some form of congenital
disorder. Congenital cardiovascular defects are the most common birth defects.
Keeping in line with the above statement, the American Heart Association
released new recommendations to help women reduce the risk of giving birth to
heart defects. These recommendations are as follows:
first recommendation is that prospective mothers should see their doctor and
be checked for
rubella (German or three-day measles) and influenza.
considered risky for women with diabetes because of the increased risk of
stillbirth and birth defects in their babies. However, with good
preconceptional care and careful monitoring of their blood sugar, most women
with preexisting diabetes can look forward to healthy pregnancies and
healthy babies. It is also strongly recommended that if your pregnancy is
planned, have a blood test to determine if you are immune to rubella before
you start trying to conceive. Although rubella is not dangerous for you, it
can have very serious implications for your unborn baby if the infection is
contracted during pregnancy (the risk being highest in the first three
months). Rubella can cause heart and brain defects, deafness and
in your unborn baby. Recent study has shown that prenatal exposure to
influenza may increase the risk for development of schizophrenia years
later. The risk of schizophrenia was increased threefold when influenza
occurred during the first half of pregnancy; however when influenza occurred
during the second half of pregnancy, no increased risk was observed.
second recommendation is for women to take a daily multivitamin containing
400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid or a
folic acid supplement.
Folic acid can protect against heart defects as well as its better-known
role in protecting against spinal cord defects and women should take it
before conception. Many foods are also fortified with folic acid.
Pregnant women should avoid people with the flu or other illnesses that
can cause fevers. Any fever-related illness during the first trimester of
pregnancy may carry a two-fold higher risk of offspring with heart defects.
Review all medication use with your doctor even if it is
over-the-counter. The problem caused by
medicines taken by the mother is that they can cross the placenta and
enter the baby's bloodstream. This is because the medicine particles are
small enough to cross the placental barrier along with the
nutrients needed for
the baby's development. The effect any medicine has on the developing baby
depends on the medicine itself and the trimester of pregnancy the medicine
is taken in.
Aspirin and other drugs containing salicylate are not recommended throughout
pregnancy, especially during the last three months, except under a doctor's
supervision. Acetylsalicylate, a common ingredient in many OTC painkillers,
may prolong pregnancy and cause excessive bleeding before and after
delivery. Another drug that can cause severe birth defects is Accutane, or
isotretinoin. Accutane, a derivative of vitamin A, is a powerful
prescription drug that can clear severe cystic
acne, but can
cause birth defects (such as heart defects, small jaw, cleft palate, and
skull and facial disfigurements) in about 1 out of every 4 exposed fetuses.
Accutane can also cause miscarriages.