birth defects

  1. Depression drugs can harm mother and baby

    Antipsychotics cause problems during pregnancy

    Just about every doctor recognizes that pregnant women shouldn't drink or smoke -- but many of those same doctors won't think twice about prescribing powerful drugs that can be even more harmful than cigarettes to mom and baby alike.

    I just don't get it.

    Now, a new study highlights the dangers of one common class of meds to both mom and her baby: Antipsychotic drugs can double the risk of gestational diabetes in pregnant women and increase the risk of problems with baby, including small size at birth and oversized heads.

    To be fair, some of those increases in risk shrank when researchers made some adjustments. But some -- including that increased head size -- didn't.

    And those aren't the only risks that come along with using antipsychotics during pregnancy.

    Last year, the FDA issued a warning that babies born to mothers who take these drugs can experience withdrawal symptoms as well as abnormal muscle movements.

    The feds say most of these problems disappear on their own, but it's hardly reassuring to a new parent who has to watch a baby shake with tremors, gasp for breath, and even have trouble feeding.

    But what's even more disturbing than the research we have is the research we don't -- because there's surprisingly little out there on what these drugs do to pregnant women and their children.

    Some docs will tell you that means the drugs haven't been proven unsafe, but that's exactly the attitude that's led to so much harm in medicine today.

    Instead of waiting for a drug to be proven unsafe, doctors need to make sure a drug is proven safe before they give it to a patient -- especially if that patient is pregnant.

    I strongly recommend depressed mothers and their doctors consider safe alternatives such as fish oil, B vitamins, and homeopathic remedies as a first line of therapy for depression.

  2. Learn which foods use genetically modified ingredients

    Give yourself the right to know

    You might think you know what you're eating, but you don't.

    Genetically modified ingredients have taken the food industry by storm, turning up everywhere and in everything in the space of just a few short years. And despite the considerable health and safety concerns over these ingredients, there are no requirements in the United States to list them.

    According to new numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 88 percent of all corn grown in the United States is now genetically engineered, along with 93 percent of all soybeans and even 94 percent of our cotton.

    Most people eat corn and soy in some form or another all day long -- and most of them have no idea what they're really eating. And it's not just these two staples.

    Fruits and vegetables have been "tweaked" to make them larger, brighter, longer lasting, and more appealing. And if these "frankenfoods" aren't bad enough, there are even "frankenfish" getting ready to head to the market soon.

    You'd think this widespread availability would mean GM ingredients have been tested in humans and proven safe. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong -- because there are literally no long-term studies on the safety of genetically modified foods in humans.

    In the limited studies we do have -- on animals, not people -- GM foods have been linked to fertility problems, immune system disorders, birth defects, and more.

    Some studies have also found changes in the gut, liver, kidney, and spleen.

    Even worse, the genetic modifications to some crops were made so they could withstand more and more powerful chemical pesticides and herbicides. That makes it easier for the factory farms -- just soak the fields and call it a day -- but it also means today's produce contain higher-than-ever levels of chemicals.

    In addition, some of my colleagues are very suspicious that GMO's are one of the main reasons food allergies and sensitivities in Americans are skyrocketing.

    That's why it's so important to eat organic foods (and I mean real organic foods, not foods with the meaningless "all-natural" label).

    But even that's no guarantee anymore.

    While organic rules don't allow for genetically modified ingredients, organic farmers are facing a growing threat of cross-contamination as seed from nearby GM fields begin to drift.

    Even more outrageously, the organic farmers could then be sued for not paying for the right to grow the GM crops they never wanted in their fields in the first place!

    For those reasons and more, I joined the "Right to Know" movement here in California. If you live in this state, you can sign up yourself -- and more importantly, vote for Proposition 37 this November.

    This proposition would require all food with genetically modified ingredients sold in our state to have labels indicating the presence of those ingredients -- a common-sense requirement already found in 50 countries, including the entire European Union and even China.

    If you don't live in California, see if you can find a similar movement in your home state -- or start one yourself. Tell your neighbors you just want one of the same basic rights given to people in China. That'll get their attention.

    Remember, knowledge isn't just power. It's health. And without this knowledge, your health could be in jeopardy.

2 Item(s)