Folic acid’s key role is to make new cells by helping produce genetic material, DNA and RNA. That’s why folic acid is so important during periods of rapid cell growth, like pregnancy. Folate also acts in red blood cells and might protect against developing heart disease and breast cancer.
Insufficient levels of folic acid can be a reason of many serious health issues such as high risk of cervical, colon, brain, and lung cancer. That’s why it is recommended for women of childbearing age consume at least 400 mcg of folate daily. Pregnant women or those who are planning to become pregnant should have up to 600 mcg each day.
A team of researchers from Italy has developed a prenatal screening method that could predict what hand will mostly use a baby after birth. This method uses 4-dimensional ultrasonography to map and characterize fetuses’ hand movements.
For the study, the scientists recruited 29 women pregnant with one baby and monitored the fetuses at weeks 14, 18, and 22. They revealed that approximately at week 18, the fetuses had well-established hand dominance. Afterwards, the researchers tracked the children for about 9 years, and their results were quite good, the method’s accuracy was 89–100%.
The researchers conclude: “Our method for reliably assessing handedness prenatally may help to catch ‘early’ neurological problems and to counteract child development disparity signaled by handedness.”
A new research from the UK has discovered a link between the higher risk of stillbirth and a common sleep position adding to the growing body of evidence that mothers to be should try sleeping on side during the last trimester.
For the research, a team of scientists interviewed 1024 women from 41 maternity hospitals across the UK and found that 291 of them had a stillbirth late in pregnancy.
Lead study author Alexander Heazell, an obstetrician at Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre, University of Manchester, says: “Stillbirth is devastating, with long-lasting effects on bereaved parents. Parents want to know why their baby has died, whether it might happen again if they try for another baby and what they can do to avoid further stillbirth. We believe that identifying, and avoiding, risk factors that are strongly associated with stillbirth will reduce the number of babies who are stillborn.”
A new study led by Dr. Hui Chen from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, suggests that smoking during pregnancy can be a risk factor for cerebral palsy in offspring.
A team of researchers achieved their results by studying mice born to mothers that had been exposed to cigarette smoke before and during pregnancy. In the course of the study, the scientists tested motor skills of the mouse pups and discovered that they demonstrated movement issues similar to those that arise in cerebral palsy.
Dr. Hui Chen says: “However, the message for the public is if you want a healthy baby, you need to stop smoking long before you plan for the pregnancy.”
A new study from the University of California, San Francisco, finds that women with sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea, are at higher risk of preterm birth.
For the study, the scientists analyzed the data they received from 2,265 women diagnosed with a sleep disorder during pregnancy. Some participants matched the study criteria with the same risk factors for early birth like high blood pressure, smoking during pregnancy, or having a previous premature birth. Having analyzed the received data, the scientists came to the conclusion that pregnant women with sleep disorders were 14.6% more likely to give birth before 37 weeks of gestation.
Senior author of the study Aric Pather, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry, says: “The women who had a diagnosis of a sleep disorder recorded in their medical record most likely had more severe presentations. It’s likely that the prevalence would be much higher if more women were screened for sleep disorders during pregnancy.”