By Patricia Treble - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - 0 Comments
That everything Kate, duchess of Cambridge, wears is an instant retail hit has been such a long-proved commercial reality that it’s got its own moniker, the “Kate effect.”
Now the fairy dust that rubs off on everything Kate touches is doing more than just boost corporate profits. It’s benefitting charities as well.Organizations lucky to have her as a patron report big increases in interest.
By Anne Kingston - Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 8:00 PM - 0 Comments
Class-action suit puts a spotlight on the rising use of SSRIs among expectant mothers
Last December, the Supreme Court of British Columbia set a bold precedent: it green-lit the first class action suit in Canada alleging that an antidepressant taken by a woman during pregnancy caused a birth defect in her child. Faith Gibson of Surrey, B.C., named “representative plaintiff,” had been prescribed Paxil, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), in December 2002. Her daughter, Meah Bartram, was born in September 2005 with a hole in her heart. The defect was repaired months later, but Meah remains a “sickly” child, prone to infection. Two weeks after her birth, Health Canada and Paxil’s manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline Inc. (GSK), issued an advisory stating that paroxetine (Paxil’s generic name) taken in the first trimester may pose “an increased risk” of cardiovascular defects.
Gibson’s lawyers allege GSK knew or should have known about the risks and that it failed to apprise Gibson or her physicians. Gibson had asked her doctor if she should go off the drug during pregnancy; she was told it was “100 per cent safe.” More than two dozen women have applied to be screened for class membership since December, says Vancouver lawyer David Rosenberg, who is representing Gibson.
GSK has appealed the decision to register the case as a class action; it contends it acted appropriately in its clinical trials, as well as in the safety monitoring and marketing of Paxil, updating pregnancy information as data became available, spokeswoman Michelle Smolenaars Hunter told Maclean’s.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 3:25 PM - 0 Comments
So after weeks of being consigned to the bargain basement of possible royal baby names, Alexandra has surged in recent days from 10:1 odds to a 2:1 favourite. (Even “Barack” makes an appearance, at 200:1, mind you.)
Well, way back in December–when the pregnancy was initially announced–everyone was plumping for Elizabeth, or possibly Diana.
Here was the list from Ladbrokes, the betting agency:
Yet, within hours of the news that Kate was in hospital with acute morning sickness, I’d created a list of my favourite names for the future monarch—five for a girl and the same number for a boy, along with my reasonings. The first choice? Alexandra (Philip was my top pick for a boy).
While no one is going to know who’s right and who’s wrong until the baby is born—Kate recently said it’s due mid-July—it’s kinda nice to think the world is coming around to my way of thinking. At least in Britain’s gambling shops.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, March 8, 2013 at 5:04 PM - 0 Comments
Did Kate spill the beans that she’s expecting a daughter? For all those not following the kerfuffle, a recap. During a visit earlier this week to Grimsby earlier, Kate was handed a teddy and thanked the lady for the gift.
A woman who overheard the exchange told reporters that Kate said, “Thank you, I will take that for my d…” Speculation flew that Kate meant “daughter,” accidently revealing that she was carrying the future queen regnant. Then, as people examined video of the incident frame by frame, doubts set in. Did she mean “dog”—her young cocker spaniel Lupo—but stopped because it would be rude to say she was going to use the gift as a canine chew toy?
Now the Daily Mail claims to have have the definitive answer to the vexing question—and a video taken of the exchange that the London tabloid says backs up their claim. Here’s their money paragraph:
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
Colby Cosh on the Constitutional problem of a female heir
Is there perhaps a silent prayer sweeping stealthily across the ranks of Canada’s constitutional experts? “Please, Lord, let the duchess of Cambridge be delivered of a fine, healthy heir. And if you could see to it, let it be a boy. Or, if it’s a girl, make sure she only has younger sisters.”
When St. James’s Palace announced on Dec. 3 that the wife of HRH Prince William was great with child, the machinery of the Commonwealth was ready. The heads of government in the Queen’s various realms had, in October 2011, already agreed to a co-ordinated change in their statutes that will allow the Prince’s children to succeed in order of seniority, irrespective of sex. The necessary changes to British law, which affect acts as far back as 1351, are ready for parliamentary approval and scheduled to go through as early as possible in the new year, with the Canadian ones to follow. There is nary a whisper of dissent from any quarter. Continue…
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 2:56 PM - 0 Comments
With the global population ballooning to seven billion, Science-ish wonders whether journalists around the world are in on a conspiracy to lower birth rates by scaring would-be parents with crazy stories about pregnancy risks. Consider the headlines this week: We learned that “depression in pregnancy can slow a child’s development” and that a mother’s fish and mercury intake is linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity-disorder behaviours in her kids.
This isn’t just the result of a slow news week. Science-ish has been tracking the health stories targeted at expectant parents over the last year, and they have ranged from the silly to the farcical, and always with a dash of fear mongering.
Last September, the BBC reported that eating low-fat yogurt—not the Greek, or half-fat types—during pregnancy may induce asthma and hay fever in children. The Guardian reported on a study that linked a mother’s sleeping position to stillbirths, recommending specifically that she sleep on her left side or else risk having one. Would moms be able to sleep at all after that chilling report? Fox News wrote: “Mother’s hypertension during pregnancy may affect child’s IQ later in life” and that “Women who get pregnant while dieting increase babies’ obesity risk.” And there was no shortage of reporting on the scary chemicals in our environment that can harm wee ones, even before conception. A telling headline from Mother Nature Network: “BPA exposure linked to abnormal egg development.”
By Patricia Treble - Friday, May 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM - 0 Comments
Leah McLaren just landed on the front page of the Spectator with a tale of how the Queen nearly got an earful from her in response to a regally innocuous and unmistakably British “How do you do?” at a Buckingham Palace reception. The Canadian London correspondent had just found out she was pregnant and had to restrain herself from crossing the “Too Much Information” line with Her Maj.
On the way home she burst into tears.
“I wasn’t crying because of the baby — in fact I was delighted to be pregnant — I was crying because I was having a child with a Englishman who was firmly committed to England. And that meant I could never go home.”
And with this, McLaren has come full circle. For ten years ago, she made waves with another Spectator piece, one tellingly titled: “The tragic ineptitude of the English male.” Back then, she now writes:
“I concluded as a result that most British males were borderline alcoholic, fearful of women, socially and emotionally retarded and, because of the archaic boarding school system (I confined my dating to a small west London sample), probably repressed homosexuals as well.”
By Gustavo Vieira - Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Our semi-regular roundup of findings from the world of academia
British Columbia: Cougars in Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island have stunned researchers, who found the wildcats have been eating seals. Analysis of their scat showed their meals also included river otters and sea lions. Although they’re strong swimmers, there’s little chance the cougars braved the surf to go fishing: likely, they preyed on young or sick animals near the shoreline.
Alberta: Researchers at the University of Calgary have found that bad moods can spike cortisone levels in pregnant women, which in turn can affect fetal development, since cortisone plays an important role in the formation of children’s lungs and brains during gestation.
Ontario: The debate over spanking as punishment is never-ending. New research bolsters those seeking a ban: spanked children tend to become aggressive adults, and they’re more likely to use drugs and alcohol, according to a study co-authored by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. The study also found that spanking children can lead to depression and anxiety.
Quebec: Kids won’t ask for fast food if they don’t see it on TV, according to a study of Quebec households by UBC researchers. Junk food purchases were down 13 per cent in Quebec, which bans fast food commercials during children’s programming, the study found. Quebec, researchers noted, has Canada’s lowest childhood obesity rates.
Nunavut: Killer whales eat anything they can catch, according to Inuit hunters, who have dubbed them “wolves of the sea.” And with melting sea ice attracting more and more orcas to the Arctic, local hunters fear they’ll have to compete for food with the fearsome predators, according to new research by the University of Manitoba. The whales often tear into narwhal and “play soccer” with their parts, hunters report, and they’ve seen bowhead whales “rammed” to death by a group of much smaller killer whales.
By Alex Ballingall - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 2 Comments
Our semi-regular roundup of findings from the world of academia
British Columbia: Researchers have determined that it’s harder for gay couples and single parents to get an apartment in Vancouver. Gay couples are 25 per cent more likely to be rejected by landlords than heterosexual couples, while single moms and dads are 15 per cent more likely to be rejected than married couples with children, according to a study by University of British Columbia sociologist Nathanael Lauster.
Alberta: University of Alberta researchers have found evidence that “brain wiring”—the development of paths in the brain caused by learning—continues well into young adulthood. New social experiences and post-secondary education were cited for continued brain development after the bursts of childhood and adolescence.
Ontario: It’s true: in spring, a young man’s (and woman’s) fancy turns to thoughts of love. A Queen’s University study has found teenagers are more likely than adults to conceive during the month of March. Citing spring break as the likely reason, co-author Mary Anne Jamieson suggests schools conduct sexual health blitzes before letting students loose for holiday frivolity.
By Kate Fillion - Monday, September 26, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 10 Comments
Dr. Aaron Caughey on labour and how epidurals changed childbirth
Dr. Aaron Caughey is the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon Health and Sciences University, director of its Center for Women’s Health, and a researcher with an interest in diabetes in pregnancy. He recently addressed the pushing question at the Birth World Congress in Chicago.
Q: What attracted you to obstetrics?
A: I’m a labour-floor junkie. As a third-year medical student doing an obstetrics rotation, it was immediate for me, like a crush. The process of birth, the intensity of the experience, the potential for it to be many people’s best days mixed with a small percentage of people’s worst days, and the challenge of how to make the outcomes better—it’s extremely compelling.
Q: Let’s start with a brief refresher course on labour.
By Danielle Bochove - Friday, August 26, 2011 at 11:30 AM - 174 Comments
Home births may need less intervention and cause fewer injuries for mom. But they may be riskier for babies.
Jon Barrett is accustomed to dealing with anxious mothers-to-be. As chief of maternal-fetal medicine at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, one of the main concerns he hears from patients involves unnecessary medical interventions during delivery.
He acknowledges that the rate of Caesarian sections and episiotomies is far too high in Canadian hospitals. “A healthy young woman, coming into this hospital now for delivery, has almost a 40 per cent chance of having some sort of intervention that is not desired.” But he’s more unnerved by what that phenomenon appears to be triggering: a surge in demand for home births.
In Ontario, midwives performed 2,360 home births in fiscal 2008, an increase of 23 per cent in just five years. There are no national home birth statistics but the percentage of non-hospital births more than tripled in Canada between 1991 and 2007 (the latest year for which statistics are available), although they remain well under two per cent of total births. That rate is typical of much of Western Europe and the U.S.; the notable exception is the Netherlands, where roughly a third of women give birth at home.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
Test analyzes fetal DNA in mother’s blood
A simple blood test can determine a baby’s sex as early as seven weeks into the pregnancy, according to findings in The Journal of the American Medical Association reported by The New York Times. This test analyzes fetal DNA in the mother’s blood and can pinpoint sex much earlier than other options, including ultrasound. It’s also non-invasive. These tests have been available at drugstores and online for a few years but they haven’t been too popular, partly because of uncertainty over how accurate they were. But European doctors now routinely use these tests.
By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM - 5 Comments
How sex selection of babies has led to a huge surplus of men and why that’s bad for all of us
FLUENT IN CHINESE and Spanish, Mara Hvistendahl is a Beijing-based correspondent for Science magazine and a former journalism professor at Fudan University in Shanghai. She is the author of Unnatural Selection, about how and why rampant sex-selective abortion in Asia is skewing the entire world’s gender balance.
Q: The natural sex ratio at birth, resulting in equal numbers of men and women, is 105 males to 100 females. But in Asia, that ratio has been skewed for a generation, and demographers calculate there are now over 163 million women “missing” from the continent’s population. Which countries have been most affected?
A: The areas most affected are eastern China and northwest India—the most developed parts of those nations—as well as South Korea, Taiwan and northern Vietnam. The important thing is that it’s beginning to appear in other parts of India and China.
By Leah McLaren - Monday, June 6, 2011 at 9:05 AM - 0 Comments
Will Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s pregnancy help her embattled husband?
Last week, at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, supermodel-turned-wife of the French president, greeted her fellow first wives in what was quite obviously a white maternity smock.
After exchanging air kisses with such lesser-known political spouses as Svetlana Medvedev, wife of the Russian president, Geertrui Van Rompuy-Windels, wife of the European Council president, and our very own Laureen Harper, Ms. Bruni-Sarkozy and her lady friends posed for an obligatory photo op. As the cameras zoomed in on her burgeoning baby bump (a.k.a. the worst-kept secret in Europe), Bruni smiled coyly and motioned to her belly. “Sooner or later it’s gonna come out,” she said—an observation that is as correct on a political level as it is a biological fact.
Earlier this year, Nicolas Sarkozy’s approval ratings slumped to an all-time low, with the worst polls showing that a scant 21 per cent of the country approved of his leadership. Then-unconfirmed rumours that his 43-year-old wife was pregnant (apparently with twins via IVF treatment, if you believe the tabloids) did not initially seem to give him much bounce in the polls. But with the surprise career implosion of former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn (who until recently was widely touted as Sarkozy’s top political rival), the French president’s prospects for re-election in 2012 are looking somewhat brighter.
By Jane Switzer - Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
An unlikely gang of criminals is exploiting China’s leniency towards pregnant women
A month-long sting by Chinese police nabbed an unlikely group of criminals: a band of pregnant thieves. Dubbed the “Big Belly Gang,” the decade-old maternal crime ring is allegedly responsible for the majority of the 3,000 cases of in-store thefts reported at shopping malls in the city of Hangzhou last year. Operating in groups of five, three non-pregnant women would distract staff while two pregnant women stole goods from the store, or money and valuables from other shoppers. While their stay-at-home husbands watched their children, the group met each day at the local school’s gates to divide their loot, splitting it 60-40 between the non-pregnant members of the gang and those stealing for two.
The gang exploited China’s leniency toward pregnant women and new mothers, who can plead a “special situation” and be released almost immediately (the gang’s boldest member was arrested and released 47 times). Relying on anonymous tips and help from informants, police moved in and captured all 47 members of the ring, 22 of whom were pregnant and also bulging with loot at the time of arrest. Police have recovered about 1.5 million yuan worth of goods stolen by the gang, but say it’s just a fraction of the group’s haul.
By Julia McKinnell - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 4 Comments
A man who’s lived through it has advice for men whose wives can’t get pregnant
For six years, L.A. comedy writer Mark Sedaka and his wife, Samantha, tried to have a baby. ” ‘Unexplained infertility’ is all we were ever told,” he writes in a new book for men called What He Can Expect When She’s Not Expecting: How to Support Your Wife, Save Your Marriage and Conquer Infertility. “More often than not,” he explains,”we poor schlubs are left to fend for ourselves—not quite sure when to chime in, when to keep quiet, when to take action, and when to lay low.”
As for what to expect first, he warns men about “a little thing called procreation sex. In other words, the planned mandatory acts of copulation that will be required as your wife charts her monthly cycle.” Expect all spontaneity to disappear from your sex life, he writes. “You’re pretty much going to know a day in advance that you will be having sex tomorrow. Not might be. Will be. It’s gonna sound pretty much like when she asks you to take out the garbage for the umpteenth time.” All you can do, he tells men, is to calmly explain to her that “you don’t mind being told when you’re going to have sex as much as you mind being told 30 times.”
Ask her not to lie about it, either, he writes: “Now that you’ve made her self-conscious about the whole procreation sex thing, she’ll probably avoid the subject altogether and opt instead for the old, ‘I’m so horny tonight’ routine. Do they think we’re that dumb?”
By Cathy Gulli - Monday, September 27, 2010 at 12:57 PM - 0 Comments
Doctors and their female patients of child-bearing age need to start talking about alcohol consumption
Until now, a doctor wouldn’t usually ask a woman having a routine pap smear how many drinks she enjoyed that week. But new national guidelines recommend that alcohol consumption become a regular topic of conversation between female patients of child-bearing age and their physicians. “We’re not here to moralize or be pejorative,” says Dr. Vyta Senikas, associate executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, and a co-author of the report. “This is a question of awareness and harm reduction.”
The guidelines, published in the August edition of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Canada, recommend that doctors ask women who are or could become pregnant about their drinking habits, and record that information in their charts. Previous guidelines focused on diagnosing cases of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which affects as many as three in every 1,000 births, and results in neurological and behavioural problems.
By Dr. Elaine Chin - Friday, August 14, 2009 at 2:50 PM - 5 Comments
Dr. Elaine Chin answers your health questions
It seems there’s a lot of conflicting advice about whether pregnant women should eat fish, or avoid it due to concerns over high mercury levels. What do you think?
The concern is real. Pregnant women should not eat fish that are high in mercury. It is also good to rotate and eat different types of fish in your diet.
1. Which fish in this “Watch Out list” contains the highest mercury levels?
b. King Mackerel
2. Of the fish listed here, which have the highest concentrations of Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
(Answers are at the bottom of the page)
What is the “stress hormone” cortisol, and how does it affect our bodies?
Cortisol is your “stress response hormone.” Your body secretes it in response to physical or emotional stress. It prepares your body to meet physical or emotional challenges by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure and level of alertness. It helps us defend against an “attack.” While cortisol is a survival hormone, chronic stress creates a high level of this ‘fight or flight’ hormone, which causes undesirable mental and physical effects. It engenders survival instincts–quick decisions based on minimal analysis. Sharp strategic thinking ability is impaired. Caffeine is a major stimulator of cortisol secretion. Too much caffeine might make you more alert but not a smarter thinker! Insulin–secreted in response to cortisol–causes sugars (from ingested carbohydrates) to move out of our blood stream and stored in the form of fat–increasing overall body fat and weight. As blood sugar levels decline, ‘brain fog’ ensues.
Send your questions for Dr. Elaine Chin, chief medical officer of the Scienta Health Group, to firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, find out how healthy you are by doing this quiz:
1. Tilefish – the highest – 1.45 parts per million mercury concentration
Shark – next highest – 0.99 parts per million
Swordfish – 0.98 parts per million
King Mackerel – least of this group – 0.73 parts per million mercury concentration
Tuna, fresh – not the worst! – 0.383 parts per million; canned chunk light tuna 0.118
2. Herring – the highest – 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids per 1 oz! (1:1)
Salmon – the wild variety – close 2nd – 1 gram per 2 oz (1:2)
Sardines – also high – 1 gram per 2 to 3 oz (1:2.5)
Trout (freshwater) – 1 gram per 3 to 4 oz (1:3.5)
Pollock –least of this group – 1 gram per 6.5 oz (1:6.5)
By Cathy Gulli - Monday, July 20, 2009 at 9:40 AM - 7 Comments
One out of 2,500 women doesn’t know she’s pregnant
It was early in the morning when Kimberlie Bunch woke up with excruciating stomach cramps and nausea. As the aching in her right side got worse, she worried that her appendix might burst. When Bunch’s boyfriend came home from work, he found her writhing in agony, surrounded by unexplained blood splatters. They rushed to the ER, where the nurse asked if Bunch was pregnant. The answer was an unequivocal no: Bunch was using birth control, had irregular periods, and hadn’t gained weight.
But within minutes, a doctor told Bunch that she was in labour. “At that point I thought I was dreaming,” recalled Bunch on an episode of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, a paranoia-inducing TV show documenting women who experience a condition called “denial of pregnancy.” Unlike concealment of pregnancy, which occurs when a woman hides the fact that she’s expecting, denial of pregnancy happens when she is unaware of being pregnant. After Bunch gave birth, she was dumbfounded. “You’re taught all these things that you should expect when you’re pregnant, like morning sickness and weird cravings,” she said, “but I never had any of that.” Continue…
By Julia McKinnell - Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 3:40 PM - 1 Comment
Four women form a group dedicated to allowing each of them to realize a dream
When graphic designer Amy Mead dreamed of having a baby, she took an eccentric step. She joined forces with a group of women. It wasn’t a pregnancy group. Each woman had a different goal but all shared the belief that a group’s collective energy has more power than any one individual’s. If anything, it was a support group for desires.
At the time, Mead was 38 and worried she’d blown her chances of getting pregnant by waiting too long. “There’s strength in numbers. I was thinking along those lines,” she said recently from her home in Florida, now that she’s a mom, and now that her group has just published a book. Three years ago, the women hardly knew each other, now all four are the joint authors of The Group: An Amazing Way to Achieve Success, Happiness and Extraordinary Relationships. Tiffany Kaharick is a massage therapist. Rebecca Carswell is a hypnotherapist and professional speaker. Mirja Heide runs a computer training company. They all live in Florida. “We just began with the idea of: how can we achieve more?” says Heide. “We sat around a table discussing very openly what we wanted to get out of the group,” remembers Mead.
By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 4:24 PM - 3 Comments
Alyson Hannigan is pregnant, news that (as the link implies) makes it very likely that her character will become pregnant too. Her character is at the point where it would be plausible and a good source of story ideas for her to have a baby.
There are two options regarding a TV actor’s pregnancy: write the pregnancy into the show, or try to hide it. Both have their problems. When you hide it, you get those Seinfeld episodes where Julia Louis-Dreyfus spent all her scenes behind the counter in Jerry’s apartment, or those Cheers shows with Shelley Long behind the bar for 23 minutes. But unless a character has already been set up as wanting to have a baby, writing the pregnancy into the show often feels awkward and ridiculous — like Cybill Shepherd’s pregnancy on Moonlighting, or various pregnancies on Friends. CSI: NY is doing a whole elaborate pregnancy story that may or may not turn out something like that. And whether or not the pregnancy scenario is plausible, something worse is always on its way: once she has the baby, the show is stuck with that baby for a long time (unless they want to engage in SORAS, and that’s no longer fashionable in prime time). The child is always forgotten as the character gets back to doing what she was doing before, and we wonder why she’s not spending any time with her kid.
See here for more examples of real-life pregnancies and how they’re dealt with in the TV world.