To Your Health
December, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 12)
Drugs to Avoid
Certain drugs are known to complicate pregnancy, birth and the health of your child. For example, epileptic seizure drugs such as Dilantin or phenobarbital create four times the usual risk of producing a baby with heart defects, and antibiotics such as ampicillin or tetracycline may cause heart malformations. Additionally, aspirin has been linked with fetal deformities, bleeding and complications during delivery, and acne drugs such as Accutane reportedly can cause birth defects.
Supplements to Buy
Another key element in fetal development is proper blood flow through the placenta. As we age, our skin and blood vessels become less flexible due to the imbalance between matrix proteins, collagen and elastin. That's why women over age 40 may have a slightly higher incidence of birth defects than younger mothers, and older fathers are linked to more frequent miscarriages and spontaneous abortions. Taking 1,000 mg of the amino acid peptide carnosine per day can reverse the effect of glycation (where glucose binds with proteins to damage tissue elasticity) and increase the flexibility of blood vessels, which will result in reducing high blood pressure. Also, 100 mg of coenzyme Q10 per day can improve tissue oxygenation. Ginkgo biloba is known for its use in improving concentration and blood flow to the brain, but 100 mg three times a day also can improve peripheral blood circulation to the uterus.
One surefire way to optimize fetal development is to provide the basic building blocks of neurological tissue: omega-3 fatty acids. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases birth weight and lowers complications of pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia, preterm delivery and gestational hypertension. However, results were inconclusive in terms of the infants' cognitive development. One word of caution: Both ginkgo biloba and omega-3 fatty acids have blood-thinning qualities, so they can be contraindicated for people on blood thinners or aspirin.
The best advice for couples who are planning a family is to take excellent care of themselves. Couples should get plenty of exercise, at least eight hours of sleep each night and quality supplements to improve their health, which in turn, offers their children the best chance at a strong mind and healthy body. Although DVDs, CDs and modern toys may stimulate your baby's brain, nothing can replace the neurobiological components of a healthy mind. Any way you look at it, boosting your child's IQ starts with caring for yourself. Ask your doctor if you are doing everything you can to create a bright future for your baby.
Bill Reddy was an aerospace engineer before becoming a licensed acupuncturist with practices in Annandale and Alexandria, Va. He is a board member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.