Archive for the ‘Nutrition & Exercise’ Category

Can Folate Prevent Neural Tube Defects in Your Baby?

Monday, October 12th, 2009


What are Neural Tube Defects?

Defects of the brain and spinal cord are referred to as neural tube defects. The most common defects are spina bifida, where the spinal column does not close, and anencephaly with failure of brain development. This occurs in 1/1000 pregnancies or approximately 3000 births per year.

Neural tube defect incidence can vary by region in the United States. The highest incidence occurs in the southeast portion of the country.

Is There a Way to Prevent NTD?

Investigators in many studies have shown that multivitamins containing folic acid can reduce the risk of NTD. Supplementation with folic acid can reduce the risk of NTD by 70% in women with no prior history of NTD and 50% in women that have had 1 previous pregnancy with NTD. However, not all NTD are related to folic acid but rather some may be related to genetic, immune factors, diabetes, or obesity.

What Foods are Good Sources of Folate?

Bread/rolls/crackers and other enriched grain products,legumes, leafy vegetables, liver, breakfast cereal, fruits and juices are all good sources of natural folate. Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate (vitamin B9) that is found in the multivitamins. Women of childbearing age should consume 400 mcg to 800 mcg of folic acid before conception and throughout the pregnancy. Women with a prior history of NTD should consume 4 mg daily. Generally, enriched grain products contain approximately 140 mcg folic acid per 100 g flour.

Overall, it has been found that less than 10% of women meet the daily requirement of 400 mcg of folate per day. Women on low carbohydrate diets and those with malabsorption syndromes are at increased risk of folate deficiency. In addition, certain medications prevent absorption of folate such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers,cimetidine, Bactrim (septra), and certain anti-seizure medications such as phenobarbital, phenytoin, tegretol ,primidone, and valproic acid.

The availability of folate from natural sources varies depending upon the food source and the way that the food is cooked. Therefore, supplementation is used in pregnancy to increase the availability of this vitamin. The body is unable to synthesize this vitamin and depends upon ingestion. Being a water soluble vitamin, excess amounts get excreted in the urine and excess consumption presents no known risks.

What is the Mechanism by which Folate Reduces NTD?

The mechanism of action of folate reducing neural tube defects is unknown. Some cases are independent and some are part of a syndrome of multiple other genetic anomalies. NTDs tend to occur more frequently in women that have a family history and also in couples that have had a previous child with this disorder.

The first 25 days of gestation are particularly important for ingestion of this vitamin since neural tube closure occurs from day 18 to day 26 of gestation. Therefore, preconception ingestion with adequate amounts of folate that the body stores is very important since the critical time for neural tube closure is so early.

Is Folate Important for Other Reasons in Pregnancy?

Folate is important for DNA synthesis, cell division, and amino acid metabolism. Folate is critical in the metabolism and reduction of homocysteine in the body which prevents cardiovascular disease. Folic acid is also believed to reduce the risk of cleft palate and other genitourinary anomalies.


Obstetricians and other health care providers of women in the reproductive age range should counsel their patients on the importance of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy. First prenatal visits commonly occur after closure of the neural tube so folic acid consumption should begin before conception and continue especially in the early stages of pregnancy. Proper counseling is especially critical in those patients with a previous history of NTD or a family history since recurrence risk is higher.

Beaute de Maman Morning Sickness Supplement

Beaute de Maman Morning Sickness Supplement

Beauté de Maman recognizes the importance of folate supplementation during pregnancy. Often women having severe nausea and vomiting in the first trimester of pregnancy can be at greater risk of folate deficiency. In addition to providing supplementation of folate through prenatal vitamins, controlling the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy with the Beauté de Maman’s natural dietary herbal supplement can help prevent having a deficiency in this important vitamin. The Beauté product contains ginger and Vitamin B6 as a first line natural remedy as per the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology guidelines.

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Newborn Obesity Diminished With Exercise

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Fetal obesity, commonly known as macrosomia isHealthy Preganancy defined as fetal weight above 4,000 grams or 8 pounds 8 ounces. There is an increasing trend worldwide towards heavier birth weights. Birth weight is an important predictor of morbidity, infant survival, later childhood size, heart disease and diabetes in later life.


A recent study published from Norway by Obstetrics and Gynecology authored by Owe in the October 2009 issue has shown a direct relationship between exercising during pregnancy and prevention of excessive weight gain in newborns. Reduction of birth weight by regular exercise can be as great as 23–28%. The study followed 36,869 pregnant women prospectively till at least 37 Pregnant woman with swimming goggles in a poolweeks gestation. A history of diabetes and smoking did not effect the results. Women giving birth to their first baby who performed a high level of exercise were less likely to have overweight newborns. Women with previous children were more likely to have heavier babies but exercise on a regular basis still prevented macrosomia. Exercise performed before conception appeared to have no effect on birth weight but women who exercised before becoming pregnant were more likely to continue exercising during their pregnancy.

The mechanism behind the control of birth weight through exercise may involve glucose levels which are lowered with moderate physical activity in both diabetic and non-diabetic pregnancies.

In conclusion, obstetricians should strongly encourage pregnant women to exercise throughout their pregnancies. Recent trends have shown a decrease trend towards exercising in pregnancy—both in frequency and intensity, especially as the pregnancy progresses. Exercises also tend to shift from weight bearing to non weight bearing activities as one gets further along in the pregnancy. This study serves to emphasize the importance of continuing aerobic exercise during pregnancy to avoid many of the complications that occur to both mother and fetus from large babies. The maternal complications include lacerations, hemorrhage, increased possibility of cesarian sections, shoulder dystocia and other types of trauma associated with the delivery of large babies.

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Omega 3: Essential For Mother and Baby

Monday, September 21st, 2009

breastfeeding babyRecent studies demonstrate the important role of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. PUFAs are a specific type of dietary fat essential for the fetus as well as the pregnant mother. In the fetus PUFAs are important in growth and development of brain function and development of the retina. In the mother these fatty acids are associated with regulation of immune and blood clotting functions as well as blood pressure. PUFA deficiency is associated with a higher risk of preterm labor. Requirements for PUFA in pregnancy are difficult to satisfy by diet alone. Fatty fish, the most abundant source of PUFA, can only be consumed in small amounts by the pregnancy woman due to mercury and PCB contamination. Supplements are therefore essential to maintain proper supply. The dose of PUFA is discussed.

What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

Omega 3 fatty acids (PUFAs) are specific types of dietary fatty fat, not provided by the body, essential for optimal health of the pregnant mother and also essential for growth and development of the fetus. There are various kinds of fatty acids that we can ingest.(cholesterol, saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids) The poly and mono unsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature and are healthier substitutes for saturated fats. Oils high in monounsaturated fats include peanut, canola, olive and avocado. Oils high in polyunsaturated fats include fish oil, fax, sunflower seed and safflower oil.

Why are Omega 3 Fatty Acids important?

The importance of Omega 3 Fatty acids in pregnancy and postpartum period for mother and developing fetus has been clearly established.

A. Fetus and Newborn :
Omega 3 Fatty Acids are important in the developing fetus and newborn infant. One of the long chain PUFAs, DHA, plays an essential role in both the brain and retinal development of the developing fetus. Numerous studies have demonstrated that lower levels of omega 3 fatty acids can lead to learning disability, attention deficit disorder, lower IQ, and impaired cognitive development. Other studies show that giving a dietary source of DHA increases visual acuity and enhances scores on motor skills and language development . Supplementation of the maternal diet with omega 3 fatty acids has also been shown to prevent the development of allergic and other immune mediated diseases in infancy.

B. Mother:
Omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in maintaining a normal pregnancy. Inadequate supply can lead to premature labor, premature rupture of the fetal membranes, and consequently prematurity and low birth weight. A well-publicized study included pregnant women from 19 different European hospitals using 6 independent randomized controlled trials comparing fish oil supplementation to olive oil supplementation. Premature births were reduced by 40–50% with an increase of the length of pregnancy by 4 days and babies weighing 100 grams when mothers were given 920 mg of DHA and 1.3 gm of EPA per day .

Other benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids include:

  • Reduction in the rate of depression, bipolar disease, and other mood disorders in the pregnant woman.
  • Reduction in the incidence of gestational diabetes in susceptible individuals.
  • Prevention of heart disease, hypertension as well as clotting and immunological disorders.

Are Omega 3 Fatty Acids important in the postpartum period?

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are important to the newborn and the developing infant. At birth the brain is not fully developed and requires the same building blocks as it did during fetal development. Providing the proper supplements is important and often overlooked.

Breast milk could potentially be a good source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. However, it has been shown that DHA concentrations in human milk have decreased by 50% in the last 15 years possibly due to changed dietary habits. Bottle fed babies are even more likely to suffer a deficit in DHA in their diet.
This makes DHA supplementation extremely important also in the postpartum period. During lactation, the mothers body will lose 70–80 mg of DHA per day to breast milk, which is in addition to the mother’s own body requirements. More research continues to be published within ongoing trials to determine the beneficial aspects of omega 3 supplementation. There is no evidence to date of any harm in supplementation.

What are the dietary sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

The major dietary sources of long chain PUFAs in pregnancy include:

  • Fatty fish: salmon, herring, sardines, shellfish, cod, and flounder
  • Poultry, and eggs.

Current recommendations by The Connecticut Department of Public Health limit the consumption of fish by pregnant women due to the risk of mercury and PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) contamination. These substances are neurotoxins and therefore detrimental to the developing fetus. They have been associated with birth defects, blindness, and the destruction of nerve cells.
Vegetarian diets are low in Omega 3 Fatty Acids as these are generally absent from plant food.

How much Omega 3 Fatty Acids does the pregnant woman need?

The requirements for Omega 3 Fatty Acids increase throughout pregnancy. The International Society for the Study Of Fatty Acids and Lipids recommends the following amounts:

  • Alpha linolenic acid (one of the precursors for the omega 3 fatty acids): 2.22 grams.
  • Combined EPA (another important omega 3 fatty acid) and DHA: 650 mg.
  • DHA: at least 300 mg.

How can the pregnant woman ingest the proper amount of Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

Attempting to obtain the recommended dose of EPA and DHA through diet alone is impossible. It would necessitate a four-fold increase in fish consumption, which is highly unlikely in the U.S.
Several Canadian studies have demonstrated that woman rarely achieve the requirements by diet alone. Most vitamin supplements are either lacking or provide a low dose of omega 3 fatty acids.
Supplements are clearly the best way in guarantee an adequate omega 3 fatty acid intake during pregnancy. Women should insure that the supplements they are prescribed contained the recommended dose of this important substance.


  1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are essential for the developing fetus and the pregnant woman.
  2. The proper dose is impossible to obtain through diet alone.
  3. Supplementation is therefore essential.
  4. Women should carefully check that the supplements they are prescribed are adequate.

Beaute de Maman Nipple Gel With Omega 3

de Maman, LLC has recognized the importance of unsaturated fatty acids as a healthier substitute in the diet, both in polyunsaturated and in monounsaturated categories. We have therefore designed a new breast-feeding gel to soothe sore, cracked nipples in the nursing mother in the hopes of encouraging women to continue breast-feeding comfortably and helping to prevent mastitis. Previous nipple gels contain LANOLIN, a cholesterol containing compound derived from wool grazing animals that consume pesticides. Beauté de Maman has gone one step further by developing a gel with a castor oil base which is a monounsaturated fatty acid, a much healthier substitute for the newborn child. This gel is clear, non-greasy, easy to apply and appears to be superior to other products currently available. It has anti-inflammatory properties to help soothe the nursing mother and also promotes uterine contractions which aids in the prevention of blood loss postpartum.

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Vitamin D Deficiency and Pregnancy

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a central role in calcium and phosphorous metabolism, which is critical for bone formation and maintenance.

Why is Vitamin D important?


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Fish Consumption in Pregnancy—Is It Good Or Bad?

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Tuna swimming in the sea.

Much confusion exists between the health benefits of eating fish during pregnancy versus the contamination acquired from toxins found in fish. So, what recommendations should we give to pregnant women?

The Benefits:

Eating fish during pregnancy is due to the presence of omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

These compounds have been shown to: (more…)

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Exercise and Preconception

Sunday, June 14th, 2009


by Michele Brown, MD, FACOG and Kristi Cristello, BS, MEd

Joseph Pilates, creator of the popular fitness program, said “Physical fitness is the first prerequisite of happiness.” The same can be said for pregnancy A healthy well nourished and fit body and a sound mind are best prepared to tackle the stresses of pregnancy. Preparing your body for pregnancy will not only it increase your odds of becoming pregnant, it will also promote a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy and a favorable outcome.

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Artificial sweeteners in pregnancy — Are they safe?

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Artificial sweeteners are food additives that are used as sugar substitutes. They are used in over 1500 food products such as soft drinks, candy, and desserts. Pregnant women, in an effort to avoid sugar, often turn to these sweeteners. The fact that they are so ubiquitous makes the question of their safety to mother and baby all the more relevant.

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The information provided in these articles and on this website is intended for educational and informational purposes only.
This information should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your medical professional,
and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
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