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Monday, October 30, 2017


The Truth About Vitamin A Safety in Prenatal Vitamins
By Dr Dean Raffelock

The most common question that pregnant women ask me is "My obstetrician says that it is very dangerous for me to take vitamin A while I'm pregnant. As an expert in nutrition, what is your opinion?"
No doubt, there is a lot of fear and confusion on this topic. So let's get right down to the truth of the matter. As usual, the truth is to be found in the middle of two opposite points of view. One point of view is that pregnant women should avoid taking any vitamin A. The other point of view is that pregnant women do not need to be concerned at all with their vitamin A consumption because the risks are minimal.


So let's clarify the issue so you can make the most informed choice for yourself and your baby:
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In 1995, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine published a study that showed strong evidence that approximately 1.7% of pregnant women in the U.S. consuming greater than 10,000 International Units (IUs) of vitamin A (retinol) per day during the first 7 weeks of their pregnancy gave birth to children afflicted with some form of birth defect. This was one out of every 57 women.
This created a wave of fear in obstetricians and their pregnant patients that continues to this day.
The good news about this study is that it alerted doctors to strongly caution their pregnant patients that consuming over 10,000 IUs of vitamin A per day for the first 7 weeks of her pregnancy can be risky. To my way of thinking this should also hold true for women of childbearing age who are actively trying to become pregnant. Women who are given very high dosages of vitamin A for acne treatments should avoid becoming pregnant until their blood levels of vitamin A are well within the normal range.
The bad news about the effects the NEJM vitamin A study is that it made far too many obstetricians and obstetrical nurses overly cautious, even paranoid, about women taking anyform of vitamin A, even supplements containing beta-carotene. Obviously no pregnant woman wants to put her developing baby at risk, so when their obstetrician tells them to avoid taking all vitamin A they listen.
The other side of the truth is that developing babies need somevitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency can cause fetal and infant growth retardation. It is well known that plant scientists have been trying to perfect modified strains of rice to contain beta-carotene (orange in color) for third world countries. Why? To help prevent the large amount of infants born blind every year because their mother's bodies did not have enough vitamin A to donate an adequate amount to their developing eyes!
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 250,000 and 500,000 children are born blind every year. WHO also estimates that 13.8 million children have some degree of visual loss related to vitamin A deficiency.
Carotenes and carotenoids are natural pigments that give colored fruits and vegetables their bright colors. Carrots are a good example because their orange color is reflective of an abundance of carotenoids and carotenes. There are over 600 carotenoids/carotenes and less than 50 seem to be able to be converted into vitamin A. This conversion is essential, however, because the human vision is dependent upon these pigments.
The conversion of carotenes to vitamin A depends upon a number of factors including adequate zinc, vitamin C, protein status, bile salts, pancreatic enzymes and optimal thyroid gland health. So women with inadequate levels of these necessary co-factors have more difficulty converting high pigment foods into vitamin A.
One International Unit (IU) of vitamin A (retinol) does not equal one IU of beta-carotene because only between 40%-60% of beta-carotene is absorbed and converted into vitamin A. Also, the absorption of beta-carotene is self-limiting. This means that beyond a healthy level, the more you take the less you absorb. Beta-carotene taken in supplement form absorbs better than beta-carotene from foods. Betacarotene is safe and necessary.
On average, a healthy daily intake of vitamin A for pregnant women is approx. 4000 IUs. This means that if you have been told by your obstetrician to avoid taking all vitamin A and you are receiving less than about 8000 IUs of carotenes from your prenatal vitamin and your diet combined, there is increased risk that your child may suffer some degree of visual loss or growth retardation. The risk of pregnant women receiving too little vitamin A is just as unacceptable as too much vitamin A.
As previously stated, the truth tends to be found right in the middle of the two opposite points of view. Too much vitamin A brings a small but significant risk of birth defects. Too little vitamin A brings a risk of visual loss or growth retardation.
So what do you do when you become pregnant?
Here are some guidelines:
(1) To be on the safe side, it is best to avoid prenatal vitamins that contain any of the retinol form of vitamin A.
(2) Try to make sure that your daily intake of vitamin A does not exceed 6000 IUs during the first 2 months of your pregnancy.
(3) Avoid eating foods very high in the retinol form of vitamin A on a daily basis, especially beef liver (43,900 IUs/3.5 oz serving) and calves liver (22,500 IUs/3.5 oz. serving).
(4) Make sure that your prenatal vitamin contains at least 3500 IUs of betacarotene.
(5) Try to obtain 4000-5000 IUs of carotenes and carotenoids from your diet. You can do this by eating lots of colored vegetables like carrots and green leafy vegetables.
(6) Eat brightly colored fruits.
(7) If you cannot eat enough colored vegetables, find a good tasting vegetable powder that can provide you with 4000-5000 IUs of these essential precursors to vitamin A.
(8) Do your best to take this middle ground and try not to worry.

Dr. Dean Raffelock is the lead author of A NATURAL GUIDE TO PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM HEALTH published by Avery in 2003. He is a holistic doctor who has been in private since 1977 and practices in Boulder, Colorado. He has earned four board certifications including clinical nutrition, acupuncture, chiropractic, and applied kinesiology and continues to teach research-based clinical nutrition for numerous medical organizations. Dr. Raffelock is Vice President of Research and Development for the makers of After Baby Boost- the first and only clinically tested comprehensive postnatal nutrient system and Before Baby Boost the first and only comprehensive 3 bottle prenatal nutrient system. He is also President of Sound Formulations, LLC a consulting company that formulates and manufactures premium quality nutritional products for nutriceutical companies. He may be reached at,
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Compromised immune system in pregnancy can make you susceptible to the flu

I know there has been some worry about getting the flu vaccine in pregnancy, but the actual flu may be problematic as well.  Flu season is right around the corner so this information could be timely for pregnant women.
 Pregnant women are thought to have a somewhat compromised immune system which is the body's way of protecting the pregnancy.  This is so your own immune system doesn't attach the embryo thinking it's a foreign intruder.


In pregnancy, the flu may affect a fetus and their brain
This article is scary because it talks about flu in pregnancy and even though it was done in monkeys,
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it may show us how flu could affect a human fetus and their brain.

THE brains of monkeys whose mothers had flu while pregnant resemble those of people with schizophrenia. The finding backs up studies in people that suggest flu in mothers-to-be affects the brain of the developing fetus.

Previous research had found that the children of women who caught flu while pregnant are more likely to develop schizophrenia later in life. To investigate further, Sarah Short and Chris Coe at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, infected 12 pregnant rhesus monkeys with mild flu.

Their 19 offspring seemed to develop normally. Yet MRI scans of the 1-year-old juveniles - equivalent in age to a 5 to 7-year-old human child - revealed that their brains had features similar to those seen in people with schizophrenia, including less grey matter in the cortex and enlarged ventricles. Monkeys whose mothers had not had flu did not have these features (Biological Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.11.026).

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Sunday, October 22, 2017


Cramping In Pregnancy Can Be Triggered By Hormones and Changes In Uterus

I had mild cramping on and off throughout my pregnancy.  I was surprised how common it is to feel some minor muscle tightening when you're pregnant
See also: for more on preventing pregnancy complications and miscarriage
 It's a little scary and of course, you don't want to be taking medications (unless approved by your doctor). So why do you get them, and what can you do? This article from Terry Edwards explains more:

Cramps During Early Pregnancy - Tips To Help Reduce The Pain

By Terry Edwards

Cramps during early pregnancy are something that happens to many women. Your body is changing and getting ready for your baby to grow.
Many women will experience mild cramps during the first few weeks of pregnancy. In fact, a lot of
women think that they are getting ready to start their periods because they feel cramping. This article will teach how why you cramp in early pregnancy and when to call your doctor.
Your uterus consists mainly of muscle and other surrounding tissues that enable it to expand during pregnancy and to contract when it's time for childbirth. These actions are triggered by hormones.

  • Some women may feel light cramping when the fertilized egg implants itself into the uterine wall. This can take place as early as six to eight days after fertilization. You may experience some light bleeding or "spotting" when the egg implants itself.

  • Another reason for cramping in early pregnancy is that hormones have triggered your uterus to expand to get ready for the growing baby. These cramps may be uncomfortable and feel a lot like period cramps. This is perfectly normal as long as they don't become severe and are accompanied by heavy bleeding. Cramps are most likely to occur after sexual activity or when your bladder is full.

  • The round ligaments support your uterus. As your uterus grows the round ligaments must expand to support it. This may cause a feeling of cramping or a dull ache in your lower abdomen. It should go away with rest. However, if the cramping becomes severe and is accompanied by heavy bleeding, fever, or any other unusual symptoms, contacts your doctor right away.
There are ways to treat cramps during early pregnancy. A good way to relieve cramping is by applying heat. A heating pad to the lower abdomen works wonder for cramps but be careful to not get it too hot. You may take acetaminophen for pain relief if needed. Sometimes this will help take the edge off of the cramps. But ibuprofen or other NSAIDS should not be taken during pregnancy. Never take any drugs unless it is allowed by your doctor.
Take care of yourself by getting plenty of rest and eating right. The changing hormones in your body can slow down digestion and make you constipated, which can cause abdominal pain. If you feel that you may be constipated, increase your fiber and water intake.
Finally, another way to help relieve cramps in pregnancy is to abstain from sex. Sex does not hurt you or the baby but may increase the cramping and cause some spotting. The combination of cramping and spotting can make you think that you are having a miscarriage.
Cramps during early pregnancy are quite common. Cramps should be mild and never unbearable. However, if they become severe or are more prevalent on one side and are accompanied by any other unusual symptoms, let your doctor know right away.
All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Reprint Rights: You may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active and do not edit the article in any way.
You're pregnant? Congratulations! You can find out more about Cramps During Early Pregnancy [] as well as what to expect each week of your pregnancy by visiting: []

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Pregnancy Over 40, Watch Out for Fetal Hormone Exposure

The following article goes along with a my previous post on how environmental exposure to estrogens or estrogen-like chemicals can hurt your baby.
 Even the estrogen in birth control pills can be harmful (some women get pregnant even when on the pill). Read more:

Pregnant women could be unwittingly exposing their unborn children to harmful amounts of the hormone oestrogen. Researchers have demonstrated that tiny quantities of this hormone, found in birth-control pills and some plastics, can cause serious deformities in male mouse fetuses.

"There should be a much higher level of concern," says Frederick vom Saal, a biologist at the University of Missouri, Columbia, who headed the study.

Oestrogenic drugs have long been known to cause problems. Since the 1990s, the work of vom Saal
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and others has revealed links between these drugs and sperm production, sex reversal in amphibians, early onset of puberty and a variety of behavioural changes.


Not all of the evidence is confined to lab studies. For example, many women prescribed an anti-miscarriage oestrogenic drug called diethylstilbestrol in the 1950s gave birth to babies who later developed genital abnormalities.

“There should be a much higher level of concern. ”
Frederick vom Saal
University of Missouri, Columbia
Vom Saal wanted to study the impact of common oestrogens on fetal development. These chemicals include bisphenol A, an artificial compound with oestrogenic properties that is used in the hard plastic lining of tin cans. When tins are exposed to high temperatures, this chemical may leach into food.
The team also looked at the oestrogenic component of birth-control pills, called ethinyl estradiol. About 3% of the 60 million women in the United States and Europe on birth control are estimated to become unintentionally pregnant while taking these drugs.


Monday, October 16, 2017


Nausea and Vomiting In Pregnancy

I get nauseated just thinking about how sick I was my first three months of pregnancy. I keep hearing how morning sickness is a good thing even though it doesn't feel that way.
See also: for more on pregnancy and fertility over 40 and preventing miscarriage
 This article talks about the evolutionary connection with pregnancy nausea:

From the article:

The idea is that a pregnant woman afflicted with nausea and vomiting will be unlikely to eat certain
foods that may be damaging to her fetus when its major organ systems are developing. Organ development takes place during the first three months of pregnancy, which is when morning sickness is most prominent. ''There is an obvious -- indeed striking -- correspondence between the sensitive periods in embryonic organogenesis and the peak occurrence of N.V.P.,'' the scientists wrote.

At this time, too, the Cornell biologists noted, a pregnant woman's immune system is naturally suppressed to keep her from rejecting the fetus as a foreign tissue. But immune suppression renders her more susceptible to food-borne parasites and microorganisms and the toxins they produce, so N.V.P. would protect her, too. 


Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Chinese Pregnancy Calendar

Guest Post By Apurva Shree

Parents-to-be adopt many methods to determine whether the unborn baby is a boy or a girl. The Chinese pregnancy calendar is an often used method to know about the gender of the new life in the mother's womb.
The Chinese pregnancy calendar is an ancient way for predicting the gender of the unborn child. It is also known as a "Chinese conception chart," or the "Chinese Conception Calendar. It is believed that
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this ancient method is highly accurate, although no clinical studies verify these claims.
History - Chinese Pregnancy Calendar
This chart is an ancient Chinese secret. A Chinese scientist developed this calendar, 700 years ago. According to a legend, the Chinese pregnancy calendar is capable of predicting the baby's gender based on two variables: the baby's month of conception and the mother's age.
This chart was kept in a royal tomb, near the city of Peking in China in ancient times. Now this original Chinese chart is on display at the Beijing Institute of Science. Many people, especially the Chinese, believe that the original Chinese pregnancy calendar is almost 100% accurate.


How it Works?
According to studies, the Chinese pregnancy calendar has been found to be 97% effective in predicting a baby's gender. This accuracy is credited to the use of Chinese lunar calendar.

The Chinese pregnancy calendar is dependent on the lunar calendar. It is based on the month a baby is conceived and not the birth month. The second factor is the mother's age at the time of conception, adding 9 months to her age to adjust the lunar calendar.
The conceived month from January to December is listed on the top row of the Chinese pregnancy chart, and the left column of the chart represents the mother's age during the conception. You need to follow the steps given below to get the most accurate result from the Chinese pregnancy calendar.
1. Note down your age at the time of conception.
2. Add 9 months to the age to adjust to the lunar calendar.
3. Also note down the month when the baby was conceived.
4. Now simply search for the conceived month across the top portion of the chart and the age on the left side of the chart.
5. Lastly, follow these two coordinates to the spot where they intersect, and that will show you either a box containing "B" for boy, or "G" for girl.
In comparison to the Chinese pregnancy calendar, the ultrasound during the 7th or 8th month of the pregnancy is a more reliable method to know the gender of the child. In fact an ultrasound is use to monitor the pregnancy development week by week development right from conception till child birth.
Whether it is a boy or a girl, what does it matter? What matters is that you have fun guessing the gender of your unborn child using the Chinese calendar. All along use a pregnancy journal to record your pregnancy development week by week.

Chinese pregnancy calendar is used to determine the gender of the unborn child. The pregnancy journal that records the pregnancy development week by week is a more important paper that the Chinese calendar. The pregnancy week by week has to progress smoothly. It does not matter whether it is a boy or a girl, it should be a healthy baby.
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Sunday, October 08, 2017


Prenatal Vitamins - Answers to Eight Frequently Asked Questions

Guest Post By Dawn K. Smith

Although they can never replace healthy eating habits, prenatal vitamins are essential for the pregnant woman.
Below are the answers to eight frequently asked questions asked by women concerning prenatal vitamins.
1). Q: How soon should I start taking pre natal vitamins?
A:. If at all possible, it's best to begin three months before you even start trying to become pregnant because the egg begins to mature approximately three months before it is released. Proper nutrition is critical during this early stage.
2). Q: Which pre natal vitamins are the most important to take?
A: Research has shown that Folic Acid, Calcium, and Iron are the most essential.
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3). Q: Are all the different varieties similar?
A. No. Even though prescription vitamins are regulated by the FDA they are not required to include certain nutrients.
4). Q: Is it okay to take organic or over-the-counter brands?
A). Yes, but make sure they have a USP seal or NSF certification. These organizations monitor the quality of supplements.
5). Q: Should I take any supplements in addition to pre natal vitamins?
A: Most prenatal vitamins don't contain enough calcium so you will probably want to supplement that.


6). Q: I read somewhere that Iodine is important. Will I need to supplement that also?
A: It shouldn't be necessary, but always check with your physician before making any decisions.
7). Q: Should Vegetarian's take additional supplements?
A: Strict Vegetarian's don't consume enough protein, which comes from meat, therefore are usually lacking in B12, iron, zinc, and omega3 fatty-acids such as DHA. They need to make sure their prenatal vitamins include these in the ingredients.
8). Q: What should I do if I get morning sickness and can't hold my pre natal vitamins down?
A: Try taking them at night before bed so you can sleep through any nausea symptoms.
Important nutrients for pregnant women include RDA, Calcium-1000mg, DHA-200 mg, Folic Acid-600 mcg, Iodine-220 mcg, Iron-27 mg, Vitamin B4-1.9 mg, Vitamin B12-2.6 mcg, Vitamin C-80 mg, Vitamin D-200 IU, Vitamin E-15 mg, Zinc-11 mg.
Although they can never replace healthy eating habits, prenatal vitamins are essential for the pregnant woman.
Choose the best prenatal vitamins for your future baby. Read my comprehensive prenatal vitamins reviews
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Friday, October 06, 2017


I have been asked to share the following information with my blog readers, if this applies to you, and you are interested, the contact information is listed below:

(must have a due date falling between December 2017 and March 2018.) 

We are looking for compelling stories about the unforgettable experience of becoming first-time parents.

- Was your pregnancy exciting but unexpected?

- Are you expecting MULTIPLES for the first time?

- Do you major life changes happening while going through your pregnancy?

Let us document your experience as you first become a parent. 

To be considered or to nominate a couple send an email and write: "PREGNANCY" in the subject line to with the following info:

Tell us a little bit about your life and pregnancy:
*INCLUDE 3 photos of yourself and your partner/co-parent.

Monday, October 02, 2017


Pregnancy Complications, Sleep and Snoring

Snoring can be a very annoying problem for everyone involved. If you're the snorer, your sleep may be disrupted resulting in sleep deprivation and all it's associated problems.
See my site for more articles on pregnancy over 40 at
 If you're the bed partner of a snorer...well...need I say more? However, according to the article below, snoring isn't just an annoyance, it could cause or be an indicator of some serious problems - especially in pregnancy. Read more:

Snoring is quite common in pregnancy, and investigators in Sweden studied more than 500 pregnant women to see what effect snoring had on their health. Earlier studies have linked snoring with hypertension in middle-aged women, but according to Karl Franklin, MD, FCCP, and colleagues at the Umea University Hospital in Sweden, no one has investigated whether snoring is associated with
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hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Snoring is a sign of increased upper airway resistance and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and is known to be associated with arterial hypertension and coronary artery disease (CAD). 


Investigators looked into the snoring-related occurrence of preeclampsia, a toxemia of pregnancy characterized by hypertension, proteinuria (excessive serum proteins), and edema (a buildup of fluids in body tissues), as well as daytime sleepiness, and infant outcome. The study included a questionnaire that women filled out on the day of their delivery with the involvement of their husband or partner. It also included analyzing Apgar scores which reflect the infants heart rate, respiratory effect, muscle tone, reflex irritability, and color, all measured shortly after birth. Snoring increased during pregnancy. By the third trimester, 24 percent of the women reported that they had begun snoring or increased their level of snoring. 


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