Why Prenatal Care is Just as Important as Postnatal

One out of eight couples in the US have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining pregnancy, according to a 2008 study about women beyond reproductive health. The CDC currently estimates that one in every 45 American children has an autism spectrum disorder, suffers from ADHD and has anxiety or depressive disorders.  It appears that there is much we don’t understand about the connection between a mother and fetus, the condition of the womb, the placenta and umbilical cord as highways of information and filters of toxins and infections.

Research completed over the past 15 years has suggested, if not proven, that autism is an environmental disorder affecting the immune health of children.  It seems to me that we are exposing our children to poisons when their brains and nervous systems are growing rapidly, exposing them and their mothers to thousands of untested chemicals as well as those thought to be safe but actually may not. 

In a practice-based scenario like mine, I interview parents about when they first thought something was ‘off’ with their child.  Some report that the babies appeared fine until sometime in the second year of life, often following an illness or vaccination.  Others report that they felt something was wrong from day 1.  The moms who experienced high risk or stressful pregnancies, had illnesses, early labor or perinatal complications were made aware that their babies may have neurological impairment . I listen to these parents, take a complete family/immune history, environmental and dietary history and do a complete physical examination of their child at the same time observing them and their behaviors.  I look for the clues that may imply genetic triggers for problems along with the epigenetic ones such as exposure to environmental toxins at home or at work, medications taken, vaccines taken and any illnesses which may have occurred.

It seems that we should start with health and prevention prior to or at best at the outset of the pregnancy.  A prenatal consultation should include a complete history as described above.  Basic lab work in addition to the usual screening for certain infections should include MTHFR enzyme mutations, vitamin D and K levels, Folic Acid and vitamin B12 levels.  This information can help us determine the risk for a baby that may have problems.  A peek into the mitochondrial function of the mom to see whether she can detoxify, replicate genetic information, digest and absorb essential vitamins and minerals should be part of this process.  Levels of toxicants such as aluminum, a neurotoxic adjuvant found in many vaccines, fluoride, mercury, arsenic can be measured.  Once these labs are analyzed then proper medical recommendations can be made. 

To Prepare Your Body For Pregnancy, Be Aware of These 7 Factors:

1) Medications:  Avoid Acetaminophen (Tylenol) since it can disrupt the detoxification pathways.  Give only informed consent about prenatal flu vaccines, DTaP and others.  Learn about the amount of aluminum, formaldehyde and mercury that is contained in these vaccines.  Weigh the risk of taken the vaccines versus the benefit of preventing diseases that may not be major potential problems. 

2) Diet:  eat only whole foods.  Avoid processed, GMO, packaged foods with artificial coloring and flavors – unfortunately a large part of the American diet.  If you have MTHFR and elevated Folic Acid levels, you should be casein (cow’s milk protein) free. Drink filtered water, avoid soda.  Artificial sweeteners containing aspartame (NutraSweet) should never be used and is found in many processed foods and vegetables.  Nitrates, Methanol, fluoride found in smoked meats and fish, water, cookware, should all be avoided.  Whats left?? Dark green leafy vegetables for vitamins, fresh fruits, beans, berries, nori for Iodine, vitamin D3 supplement, fish oils derived from the smallest fish since they contain the least amount of mercury.

3) Prenatal Vitamins:  It’s very difficult to get all the nutrients, methyl folate, iodine, B-vitamins and minerals from diet alone.  Make sure that your prenatal vitamin contains enough methylfolate, not folate if you are MTHFR positive, vitamin D3 (at least 5000IU per day), Omega-3 supplement with DHA and iodine.  If your prenatal vitamin contains food dyes, stabilizers and artificial sweeteners, they may be making you sick. 

4) Exposure:  There are hundreds of chemicals known as PCB’s, PBDE’s, phthalates, pesticides and herbicides are endocrine disrupters.  The endocrine system is the system of hormones the directs the development of the baby’s reproductive system, the brain, thyroid and other glands.  Avoid flame retardant fabrics. Use natural insect repellants, avoid accumulating toxic exposure. Replace cleaning and laundry supplies with natural products.  Use natural fluoride free toothpastes.  Use aluminum free deodorants and avoid antiperspirants altogether. Read the ingredients so you can be aware of the what is in the foods you consume and the medications you take including your vitamins and supplements. Don’t be fooled by granola bars, lo-fat yogurts and vitamin waters – they are not health foods.  Dental amalgams composed of mercury and aluminum should be removed and replaced with composite resin or porcelain fillings prior to conception.  Don’t eat or drink anything that contains aspartame, chemical dyes, nonfood additives, mold inhibitors and aluminum.  If you are taking prescription medications make sure they are compounded “clean” by a reliable pharmacy.  This reduces the chance that your meds contain any artificial colors, flavors, corn syrup, aspartame or other chemicals.  If you must take medication, have a conversation with your doctor about the potential issues.  Many meds thought to be safe during pregnancy, especially antidepressants and certain vaccinations, may not be as safe as we had thought.  Try to minimize stress.  Question the amount of ultrasounds that are actually indicated for your pregnancy.  If you have ultrasound ask that the machine is set at the lowest possible exposure for the shortest amount of time.

5) Vaccines:  There is little factual evidence of long term effects of prenatal vaccines.  Pregnant women are not actually studied to see if they are safe or not.  Read the information contained in FDA inserts for vaccines.  Look for known side effects and read about the ‘inactive’ ingredients which are often ingredients that may be toxic.  When you give your ‘informed decision’ to consent to vaccination it should be just that, one based on factual information, not what is aired in TV commercials. Have antibody titers checked to see if you are immune to many of the diseases.  You may not need the vaccine after all. 

6) Detoxify – keep active and continue to do physical activity within the limitations of your pregnancy.  Sweat is a great way to detox.  So are daily bowel movements and regular urination.  Pay attention to these bodily functions since irregularities can be problematic for you and your fetus.

7) Plan your baby’s birth – Natural childbirth is best.  Nearly a third of babies are born via C-section in the US.  We have one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the industrialized world. Norway consistently found to have the healthiest moms and babies in the world has a very low C-section rate.  Of course, sometimes C-sections are medically indicated.  You should have this discussion with your obstetrician.  Learn about epidural anesthesia and its potential effect on the baby.