Saturday, August 9, 2014

Risk During Pregnancy

Children who suffer the most from environmental exposures are those yet unborn because they are the least capable of fending themselves from toxic exposures. As compared to the maternal dose of exposure, the developing baby is exposed to greater amounts of environmental chemicals per pound of body weight. Early exposure to neurotoxins like lead and mercury may result in lifelong developmental effects, permanently altering a child’s intelligence and/or their development.

Pregnant women and women of child-bearing age are particularly at risk of lead poisoning because lead ingested can cross the placenta and affect the unborn child. The developing baby in the womb when exposed to lead is at higher risk of being born prematurely and having low-weight at birth. The mother is at higher risk of a complicated pregnancy due to lead induced hypertension. The most devastating of these effects is the increased risk of spontaneous abortion.

Mercury accumulates in the environment and builds up in the tissue of fish and other species, including humans that eat them. Mercury affects the nervous system and is especially dangerous for pregnant women and children. Pregnant and breastfeeding women limit their intake of large fish due to higher levels of mercury contamination.

High-level prenatal exposure to mercury has been clearly associated with the development of mental retardation and cerebral palsy in infant. Lower level exposure may cause more subtle neurodevelopment deficits. Examples of problems that may arise are poor attention span and delayed language development; impaired memory and vision; problems processing information; and impaired fine motor coordination.

Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, can affect a child’s growth (resulting in low birth weight and intrauterine growth retardation—being born at or below 10th percentile for age in weeks); can shorten the gestation period leading to preterm births; and can cause congenital birth defects such as heart problems. It can also result in the loss of life. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the unexplained death of an infant while sleeping, and still births are widely recognized to be associated with outdoor air pollutant exposure in utero.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are mixtures of synthetic organic chemicals with the same basic chemical structure and similar physical properties ranging from oily liquids to waxy solids. Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications.  However, once released PCBs remain widespread in the environment for many years, and humans are exposed in multiple ways. Infants born to PCB poisoned mothers have shown numerous symptoms, including congenital birth defects, darkening of the skin and liver disease.

Babies exposed to high levels of PCBs during pregnancy may also have low birth weight, decreased intelligence, irritated eyes, behavioral problems, developmental delay and slowed growth.

Lower level exposure to PCBs in the prenatal period has been shown to have an effect on school performance, including decreased intelligence, memory and attention span.

1 in 10 women develop diabetes during pregnancy. This rate is probably underestimated if more sensitive tests are utilized. Gestational diabetes increases the risk of preeclampsia, childhood obesity, cesarean delivery. Your sugar control and interaction with our ADA accredited program can help you improve your pregnancy outcomes.

Gestational diabetes develops in women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood sugar during pregnancy. As with type 2 diabetes, obesity is a significant risk factor for gestational diabetes. The increased prevalence of gestational diabetes has closely paralleled the rise in obesity, according to background information in the study.

Gestational diabetes can have short- and long-term effects for both mother and baby. "Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes have more than a seven-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the five to 10 years after delivery. Children born to mothers with gestational diabetes are also more likely to develop pre-diabetes."

Preeclampsia is a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. Affecting at least 5-8% of all pregnancies, it is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.

Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation (in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters or middle to late pregnancy) and up to six weeks postpartum (after delivery), though in rare cases it can occur earlier than 20 weeks. Proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage preeclampsia. Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) and toxemia are outdated terms for preeclampsia. Globally, preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death.

Pregnancy is a confusing time. Your body is going through a lot of changes and it can be hard to tell what's normal and what's a red flag. Learning more about the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy can help you identify a problem early and ensure the best possible outcome.


Some characteristics of preeclampsia are signs that can be measured, but may not be apparent to you, such as high blood pressure. A symptom is something you may experience and recognize, such as a headache or loss of vision.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Swelling (Edema)
Nausea or Vomiting
Abdominal (stomach area) and/or Shoulder Pain
Lower back pain
Sudden Weight Gain
Changes in Vision
Shortness of breath, anxiety

High blood pressure (Hypertension):

High blood pressure during pregnancy is one of the biggest red flags that preeclampsia may be developing. And even if it's not a symptom of preeclampsia, it can still be a sign of a problem.

High blood pressure is traditionally defined as blood pressure of 140/90 or greater, measured on two separate occasions six hours apart. During pregnancy, a rise in the lower number (diastolic) of 15 degrees or more, or a rise in the upper number (systolic) of 30 degrees or more can also be a cause for concern.

The sole purpose of these blogs is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disease. If you have any serious, acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained doctor/health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic expert, call us or e mail.

Dr Unnati Chavda
(Promoting pregnancy wellness)


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