1. Acetaminophen boosts ADHD risk

    Acetaminophen boosts ADHD risk

    When you're pregnant, you're not just eating for two. Everything you do is for two -- and that includes taking meds.

    But believe it or not, many of today's most commonly used drugs have never been fully tested for safety in pregnant women and their children, and that's as true for over-the-counter meds as it is for prescription drugs.

    And now, new research finds that one of the most commonly used over-the-counter meds of all could damage the brain of your baby.

    It's the painkiller acetaminophen, aka Tylenol (but it's also found in everything from cold meds to sleep aids) and the new study finds it can cross the placental barrier and harm the development of baby's brain in a way that could lead to ADHD later on.

    And by age 11, kids born to moms who took the drug while pregnant are 30 percent more likely to have ADHD and 37 percent more likely to have the most severe form of the condition than kids born to moms who didn't.

    The more mom-to-be takes the drug, the higher the risk -- and women who take it for 20 weeks or more during pregnancy have kids 50 percent more likely to suffer from ADHD later, according to the study of nearly 65,000 women.

    What's truly frightening here is that this drug is one of the most commonly used meds among pregnant women -- and it's long been assumed by the mainstream that it's safe.

    Clearly, acetaminophen is anything but.

    While I believe it's important for everyone to try nondrug options for pain first, it's especially critical for pregnant women.

    If you're expecting, start with treatments such as acupuncture as well as homeopathic remedies. Massage and heat treatments will also do the trick in many cases, but speak to your doctor before you try anything else, including herbal remedies, to make sure what you choose is safe for your baby.

    I realize that some of you reading this are planning for grandchildren or even great grandchildren rather than kids of your own, so please share this information with any woman in your life who's of childbearing age.

  2. Painkillers up miscarriage risk

    You wouldn't dream of pumping a newborn full of powerful painkillers like ibuprofen -- yet nearly a fifth of all pregnant women take these meds during pregnancy... and it's killing their unborn children.

    Some of the most common painkillers of all -- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen -- can dramatically boost the risk of miscarriage.

    Canadian researchers compared data on 4,705 women who suffered a miscarriage during the first five months of pregnancy to 45,050 women who did not, and found that those who took the painkillers had 2.4 times the risk.

    Putting that into stark real terms, a woman has a 15 percent risk of miscarriage right off the bat -- but if she's been popping these painkillers, that risk shoots up to 35 percent.

    And believe it or not, those numbers might be on the low side: The researchers used prescription drug records, not self-reported use, to figure out who had taken the painkillers.

    That leaves out the scores of women who take over-the-counter drugs -- because in Canada, as in the United States, both ibuprofen and naproxen are widely available.

    Other NSAIDs include rofecoxib, diclofenac and celecoxib -- but don't put too much effort into memorizing those names. Most of the drugs that have become a common part of the household medicine chest aren't nearly as safe as you've been led to believe, and that's especially true during pregnancy.

    On the other hand, you never needed those drugs in the first place -- and pregnancy is a great opportunity to wean yourself off them for good as you explore the safe and effective nondrug alternatives that have helped millions beat pain, even during pregnancy.

    One study a couple years back found that 81 percent of pregnant women who suffered from back pain got at least some relief from acupuncture -- versus 59 percent of women who got a sham treatment.

    The needles don't hurt -- in fact, you'll barely feel them.

    But if acupuncture's not for you, try a good rub: Not only is massage therapy proven to bring pain relief to pregnant women, but it also can have a powerful stimulating effect on the immune system.

    And that's something that can benefit mom and baby alike.

  3. What mom eats is what baby wants

    It's never too late to start good eating habits--and it's never too early, either. You might even want to start your own kids off when they're still in the womb-- because a new animal study suggests that our food preferences might be based on what mom ate when she was pregnant.
  4. Watch those pregnancy pounds

    Now we have a new set of guidelines for women when it comes to weight gain during pregnancy – necessary these days because many women are already overweight by the time they conceive, thanks to years of poor dieting advice from the mainstream.

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