Thursday, July 22, 2010

Caffeine OK for Pregnant Women Once Again, Sort of

For all the women who avoided caffeine while they were pregnant or are doing so now, the news has changed yet again. It seems that some caffeine is ok, say new guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Moderate seems to be one cup or glass of coffee or caffeinated beverage per day.

Researchers looked at the risk of miscarriage in relation to caffeine intake and found no increased risk of miscarriage when women consumed one cup or glass of caffeinated drink per day. Of course, they were talking about regular sized cups and glasses, not mega-sized, and they were talking about regular coffee and drinks, not the super caffeinated "gives you wings" types of drinks.

This is good news though for women who really enjoy their coffee or tea. So much of what we do centers around the baby's health, understandably, but the warnings that women are given about the multitude of things they shouldn't do while pregnant can make you feel as if you're depriving yourself. Of course, unless you're addicted to coffee or tea, you don't *have* to have it, but sometimes sitting down to a nice cup of your favorite drink is just what you need to have.

So, there you have it. Right now, today, drinking a moderate amount of coffee while pregnant is ok. We'll see what research brings tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Friday Is "Is It Hot Enough for You?" Day

Some of you live in perpetually warm areas but some of us are in areas that are treated to heat only at certain times of the year. And as much as we treasure the warmer times, heat waves are something we can do without. One big reason for this is it gets so tiresome to hear "Hot enough for ya?" from just about everyone you meet. This is only rivaled by the winter greeting, "Cold enough for ya?" that we hear the other months of the year.

But seriously, heat and heat waves are nothing to joke about. In 2003, much of Europe was covered by a serious heat wave that killed over a thousand people in the Paris, France area alone.

Do you know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke? Would you know what to do if you recognized it?

When the human body gets too hot, it begins to sweat. This is a good, healthy reaction to heat. The thirst means we need fluid, and the tiredness means we need to slow down. These are all good signals that we should notice and take notice of. However, many of us don't and this is what causes problems.

Heat exhaustion is the mildest form of heat-related illness. Signs and symptoms include (from

At this point, the affected person needs to be taken out of the heated area and protected from the sun. An air conditioned environment is best but if you are outside, a shaded, protected area is better than nothing. If possible, the person needs to drink water or other non-alcoholic, non-caffeine fluids to start the rehydration process. If he or she is wearing heavy clothes, remove them as much as possible. Finally, a cool shower (NOT cold) or bath could be helpful as well.

Once the body stops sweating, that means we've entered the danger zone. The body can no longer try to regulate its temperature through the regular means, so it's shutting down to try ot protect itself. At this point, you've reached heat stroke. The frightening thing is that heat stroke can come on very quickly and suddenly, so monitoring heat exhaustion is vital. The signs and symptoms of heat stroke include (from

  • high body temperature,

  • the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin,

  • rapid pulse,

  • difficulty breathing,

  • strange behavior,

  • hallucinations,

  • confusion,

  • agitation,

  • disorientation,

  • seizure, and/or

  • coma.
People with heat stroke need immediate emergency medical help. While waiting for help, you can do the same things that are recommended for heat exhaustion.

Prevention is really the best solution. Don't over exert yourself while in the heat, be it inside or outside. Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic drinks, even if you don't feel thirsty. If you don't have air conditioning at home, try to go somewhere that does, like a mall or a movie. Doctors are saying that two hours of exposure to air conditioning helps your body cope overall with the oppressive heat.

Finally, don't forget to check up on the vulnerable, particularly the elderly and those who live alone. They may not be able to get help on their own.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

IVF to Be Paid by Quebec

If you are a couple struggling with infertility, are an in vitro fertilization candidate and you live in the province of Quebec in Canada, then you may feel like you've had some good luck come your way. The provincial government has decided that women will be allowed three tries at in vitro on the government's dollar - or in reality, the tax payers' dollar.

Is this a good idea? Some say yes, others say no.

Infertility is a difficult struggle for many couples. The amount of effort and money that goes into trying to conceive can be astronomical. Sometimes the tries are successful, resulting in a full-term pregnancy, sometimes they aren't.

The government says that this is a good use of the healthcare money. The birth rate is down in the province and we need repopulation so we can take care of others as they age. New blood, so to speak, is always needed so we have people growing up and becoming productive citizens. On the other hand, many who can't have children biologically end up adopting children who otherwise would have no family. A recent letter to the editor in the English Montreal daily pointed this out. The couple tried iIVFand was not successful. They are now the happy parents of adopted children. If theIVF had succeeded, those children may not have been adopted.

And what of the cost? The Quebec medicare system is bursting at the seams. Some people feel that they're not getting adequate care for life threatening and/or life changing health issues, often because of lack of funding. Many pregnant women can't find obstetricians, pediatricians are not taking new patients and finding a family doctor is getting close to impossible in some areas. By inviting women to have IVF on the provincial tab, we are causing an increased need for obstetricians, specifically those who work with infertility issues, nurses and obstetrical beds, pediatricians and family doctors for the babies, and so on. If we don't have enough to go around now, how can this be a good thing with even more babies?

There are those who argue that the medical system is for medical issues: if you're sick, you get treated. They say that IVF should not be included because infertility isn't an illness. Well, pregnancy isn't either, but it's covered by medicare. So, where do you draw the line?

So, for those women (and men) who have been trying to have children but can't - is this a good idea? Or should IVF remain the domain of private insurance or self-funding?

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm back and I promise to stay

To my regular readers, I'm sorry for the long absence. Much has happened that has kept me occupied and unable to update this blog. Since this blog is my way of staying in touch with people who are interested in health issues, I decided that I needed to make this a priority, so here I am.

There is so much going on in the health world that it takes time to sift through all the news that is emerging every day. It's amazing how much research is going on and what issues are being debated.

Right now, I'm doing a lot of work for Sepsis Alliance ( and we're supposed to be presenting our new website very soon. I hope you'll check it out because sepsis is a major problem in this world.

On the personal side, my shoulder - which I dislocated in December - is still causing me problems. It looks like surgery is the only option at this point. To say I'm looking forward to that would be an outright lie but, it sure would be nice to be pain-free and not have to worry if the shoulder is going to pop out of its joint.

So, onwards and forward. Let's get this blog popular again!