In our current political climate/looming potential apocalypse, it can be hard to envision bringing new life into this world. But life must go on, right? At least we have Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech to keep us feeling optimistic about the future of our world.
With that in mind, we hope all the babies born in god-awful 2018 will grow up to see a much brighter, kinder, more peaceful future. If you are currently with child or planning to get knocked up this year, there are some new developments and info every preggo should know in 2018. So check out our handy guide ahead — and pass the red wine, because it just might aid in your baby-making (and also because Trump). We’ll drink to that.
Some good news: If you signed up for health care under the Affordable Care Act in 2017, even if Obamacare is repealed, you’ll still be covered for 2018. That also means you’ll be able to get a breast pump for free if you need it — and that you shouldn’t have to pay for services for children, such as autism screenings and vaccines.
Also add vitamins to that list. There’s a lot of interest in new information concerning autism, and recently released findings from The Journal of the American Medical Association indicate that taking multivitamins and folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy may actually lower autism risks. “The results of this study are quite significant,” Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University tells us. “We have known for many years — over 25 — that supplementation with folic acid before the time of conception significantly reduces the chance of a baby being born with congenital abnormalities such as spina bifida — a condition in which the space around the spinal cord is open — leaving many of these children with significant neurological impairments, including, basically, paralysis of their legs.”
While vitamins are a go, you and your partner may want to avoid painkillers. Ibuprofen has been linked to male infertility according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. New research indicates that women are affected as well. Painkillers taken during pregnancy (specifically acetaminophen, the most widely used painkiller in the world) may actually affect the fertility of unborn babies. In a study from the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, researchers found that the number of eggs produced was reduced when ovaries were exposed to acetaminophen. Males saw a reduction in fertility as well, though it was not as pronounced.
And while painkillers may be more dangerous that previous thought, one thing might be safer than you think: sushi. Parents reports that doctors are easing up on raw fish — as long as you choose something low in mercury. And while you're at it, reduce the risk of parasites by choosing farmed fish. There might even be a bonus to that sashimi. Research from the University of Bristol and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, indicates that pregnant women who eat fish regularly have less anxiety.
It can feel like we're discovering new dangers every day, but don't stress. This year is also bringing its fair share of good news. I mean, for one thing, sushi! And for another thing, a silver lining has been discovered regarding the archnemesis of pregnant women everywhere: morning sickness. Turns out that obnoxious nausea actually indicates a healthier pregnancy according to a review published in The Journal of Molecular Endocrinology via EurekAlert!. That old wives’ tale was correct after all. So rest easy while you’re puking, Mom. At least you have one less thing to worry about.
For those looking to expand their families, more good news: A new study from Washington University in St. Louis has determined that red wine aids conception. Yep. Of course, alcohol is still not quite recommended during pregnancy — but to get pregnant? Sure! The study found that women who drank more than five glasses of red wine per month got pregnant more easily thanks to a higher number of eggs in their ovaries. This could be due to resveratrol, an antioxidant found in wine. However, the jury is still out on this one, so consult your own doctor before you make that trip to BevMo!
In addition to all that wine, there are other things you can eat and drink to improve your chances of conceiving. USA Today reports that many experts (and the U.S. News and World Report) recommend “the fertility diet” for those trying to get pregnant. Nurses’ Health Study has a 10-step plan for improving fertility, and the fertility diet is based on this reproductive research. The diet — which is high in fruits and vegetables, full-fat dairy, protein-rich foods, beans, whole grains and healthy fats — is said to boost ovulation.
Once you are pregnant, there are things you can do promote your unborn child’s intelligence. For instance, taking choline. Researchers from Cornell University found that this nutrient may be more important for baby brain health than once thought. In a study, 13 women in their third trimesters consumed 480 milligrams per day of choline. Another 13 ladies took 930 milligrams per day. The group who ingested more choline eventually had babies who scored higher on tests measuring how quickly they could process information. So be sure to add choline-rich foods (think salmon, eggs and almonds) to your shopping lists, preggos.
Speaking of anxiety, the Zika virus is still a threat, and the CDC recommends steering clear of affected regions. (See our recommendations for a Zika-free babymoon here.) If you’re infected during pregnancy (through mosquitos or sex), the virus can cause birth defects, and there is currently no medicine or vaccine for Zika.
Reuters has recently reported on a few other dangers to avoid while pregnant. For one thing, smoking while pregnant has been linked to an increased rate of ADHD in children (but you already knew that's a no-no — even for a Kardashian).
Next, radiation exposure — from devices like smartphones — has been linked to increased rates of miscarriage. In fact, pregnant women with the highest level of radiation exposure had triple the miscarriage rates according to a study from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, reports Reuters.
Air pollution — another thing we already know is bad — has also recently been tied to birth defects, and traffic pollution to low birth weight. So… avoid those if possible. Of course, it’s not always easy to escape pollutants, but you can take steps to ensure a cleaner, safer, more kid-friendly home.
And a note for those who are not planning to conceive: Watch out, because the Trump administration is trying to restrict birth control access these days. According to Reuters, a judge has blocked the proposed moral exemption rule, which would allow employers to deny contraceptive coverage — for now.
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