What Moms-to-Be Should Know About Prenatal Genetic Testing When a woman finds out she is pregnant, doctors appointments and a barrage of information comes quickly. This includes early decisions about prenatal genetic testing. The optional tests, which can help detect the risk of abnormalities, can supply important information before a baby’s birth. Most genetic testing comes in the form of a simple blood draw which can provided a large amount of information about the baby. Although the results can help families make informed decisions, the tests aren’t perfect. Blood-based screening tests cannot always say with certainty that a baby is affected, a deficit that can be difficult to handle during pregnancy. This is why it is a good idea to talk about any type of genetic testing before a baby is conceived. Some of those discussions are easier to have outside the context of pregnancy. But a lot of couples should consider talking about what they would do if the results are positive. Screening Options There are two blood-based methods to screen for chromosome abnormalities in pregnancy. These options includes:
- First-trimester screening: This test has two parts: bloodwork looking at hormones in a mother’s blood and an ultrasound. The ultrasound is used to measure the back of the baby’s neck. extra fluid on the neck can be a sign of Down’s syndrome, heart defects or other complications. This information is used to provide an overall risk assessment. The test will detect about 93 percent of Down’s syndrome cases with a 5 percent false positive rate. It also screens for other chromosome abnormalities and can sometimes detect pregnancies at high risk for complications such as poor growth later in pregnancy.
- Cell-free DNA screening: DNA fragments from the placenta that are in a pregnant mother’s blood can be used to try to identify pregnancies at higher risk for chromosome abnormalities.
- Chorionic villus sampling: Placenta tissue is extracted via the cervix (a similar approach to a Pap smear) or by using a needle inserted through the mother’s abdomen into the uterus. It is performed between the 10th and 13th weeks of pregnancy. Parents who want a confirmation sooner often choose this option.
- Amniocentesis: In this test, a needle is inserted through the abdomen to extract fluid surrounding the baby (the needle doesn’t touch the baby). The amniotic fluid contains fetal cells that can be used for diagnostic testing. It is performed 15 weeks into the pregnancy or later.
Serious Symptoms That Shouldn’t Be Ignored A serious health issue can strike at any time. Serious symptoms can occur. And in many cases, a fast reaction can make a big impact on outcomes. Whether it’s a heart attack, stroke, or other serious illness, the following symptoms are those you should never ignore. Pain in the chest Heavy, crushing pain in your mid-chest, especially accompanied by nausea, sweating or shortness of breath, you may be having a heart attack and should seek medical help immediately. Pain can take all different forms. It could be sharp, comes and goes, is steady, isn’t too severe but seems odd. If chest pain strikes in the middle of the night, don’t try to ride it out and don’t worry about inconveniencing anyone. You know your body, so any pain that seems unusual and severe deserves a trip to the emergency room. Difficulty breathing If you’re short of breath, drawing a breath without getting any benefit from the air, or having trouble breathing, seek medical attention. Asthma, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia and chronic lung disease may all be at fault. Pain in the abdomen An unusual pain in the abdominal area, or anywhere below the ribs and above the hips, should be checked out. Of special concern are pains that are severe, new or accompanied by nausea, vomiting and fever. Because there are a number of organs in the abdomen, there are various causes of pain that could include kidney stones, gallstones, tumors, and/or complications of undiagnosed pregnancies. Stroke symptoms Stroke symptoms can come in many forms, but if you have a hard time talking, controlling or moving limbs, or experience face weakness or drooping, you may be having a stroke. Seek help immediately. The sooner doctors have a chance to diagnose and intervene, the better the outcome. Pain in the head If you have a serious, sudden headache, especially with fever, confusion, faintness or loss of consciousness, head for the emergency room. A stroke or very high blood pressure could be the culprit of these symptoms. With any medical concern, do not hesitate, see a doctor immediately. It’s better to overreact and over respond and be reassured, then to underreact and under-respond and miss the boat on a chance to intervene meaningfully.
Tips for keeping your student athlete injury free. Your student athlete's sports, are in full force and coaches are working to keep them safe. Whether you have a student-athlete on the basketball or the volleyball court or even cheerleading, safety during high school sports is an important topic. Here are some common injuries they treat, and ways to address similar injuries in your athlete should something happen away from school: Hydration-related injuries Dehydration is common health threats for athletes, especially if activities take place outside. Making sure your athlete stays properly hydrated throughout the entire day leading up to, during and after the practice or event. Dislocated joints Athletic trainers see dislocated fingers, shoulders, kneecaps and shoulder separations, among others. In these situations this injury is often splint the body part to stabilize it while calling the athlete’s parent or guardian to take them to the hospital for further X-rays and treatment. You probably won’t have a splint at home should your child injure a bone or joint, but try to have your child keep the injured location as immobile as possible until you can get them to the hospital. Concussions Concussions tend to be seen more in contact sports such as football, hockey and wrestling, but can also be seen in sports such as cheerleading, basketball and soccer. The evaluation process for concussions should be easy for certified athletic trainers, but sometimes it becomes difficult when injured athletes don’t want to admit their symptoms because they want to continue playing. If coaches suspect an individual is displaying concussion-like symptoms, you’ll want to make sure her or she receives a physician evaluation. Sprains, tears and contusions The most common injury in student-athletes is ankle sprains. Ligament sprains, muscle strains and bone contusions, or bruising of bones, are also seen in almost every sport. Parents should try to immobilize the injury as quickly as possible and can also put an ice pack on the injury to reduce swelling, pain and bruising. If there is an obvious bone deformity, get them to a hospital or physician that can evaluate the situation, and then make sure your athlete rests to let the injury properly heal. On or off the court, keep your student athlete healthy by knowing the signs and symptoms of each and if you have questions, call your doctor.
Do sleep disorders cause heartburn? Ever tried to going to sleep when you have heartburn? Or visa versa? Sometimes discomfort within the gut is what hurts our ability to get deep, restful sleep. Researchers are also learning that the process can occur in reverse and sleep disorders are believed to trigger the stomach, too. It’s hard to sleep when your heartburn is acting up. But, researchers have discovered that poor sleep quality also heightens the likelihood of gut issues. The discovery’s potential impact is significant. Sleep disorders affect an estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans, according to a 2006 federal report. And gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, impacts about 20 percent of the country’s population. Which is why researchers are studying these impacts. Neither sleep disorders nor GERD should be ignored. GERD, creates chronic acid injury to the esophagus. That may cause a change in the esophageal tissue, a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. A Barrett’s diagnosis means you could have a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer. Poor or insufficient sleep can negatively affect a person’s weight, heart health, mood and memory, among other things. For GERD, a combination of diet and lifestyle changes is typically the first order of business, followed by medication. Changing your routine also can help prompt better sleep. By studying this correlation, researchers are hoping to improve the lives of many and improve both their gut health and sleep habits.
Water. It’s vital to our existence. We all know it is important, and we all know we should be doing it. But do we know why? For starters, did you know water makes up 90 percent of brain weight? It also makes up 60 percent of your body weight. Adequate hydration is essential for your body to function. If that isn’t enough to convince you to drink more, here are five fantastic reasons water is important to your health:
- It helps weight loss. Water helps you feel full longer, without adding any additional calories. Drinking it or eating foods with a high water content can be a big help in managing your weight
- It aids in digestion. It aids in constipation and other abdominal issues, especially those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. It helps to move the digestive process along and through the system.
- It boots energy. It delivers important nutrients to all of our cells, especially muscle cells, postponing muscle fatigue
- It hydrates skin. Forget expensive creams and cure-alls, water is the best defense against aging and wrinkles in the skin.
- It detoxifies. Moves toxins through your system faster, and optimizes kidney function. Inadequate hydration means inadequate kidney function.