I’m Pregnant, what are my options?
We understand that your decisions in dealing with an unplanned pregnancy will not be easy. Our goal is to provide you as much information as possible so that you can choose the best option for you and most importantly, the best option for your baby. We are not here to sway you in any direction. Our job is to provide information and help support you as you make your decision, one that is best for you, your partner, and your baby. Consider the best decision for your child. Some options for you and your child’s father include:
- Closed Adoption
The decision you make when facing an unplanned pregnancy is one that will affect the rest of your life. An essential resource is the Pregnancy Options Workbook, also in Spanish. Remember that you do not have to go through this pregnancy alone. We are here to help and support you in your decision making process, no matter which option you choose in the end. Adoptions From The Heart offers options counseling. Regardless of your final decision, we are here to help.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
As a mother you have rights. It is important to learn about your rights in relation to the adoption process. Some mothers are hesitant at first about their option of adoption, but then come to the realization that they may not have the time or resources to raise the child. Remember you can choose to be involved in the adoption process.
Latest Pregnancy & Adoption Updates
By Heidi Gonzalez
October 21st, 2019 – Single Father Adopts Five Children
A man who has fostered more than 30 children and who has adopted a dozen, is adding five more to his family so that the five siblings don’t have to be separated. The man has fought to keep the kids, ages 1 – 4, together for more than two years and was thrilled when the adoption was finalized.
September 25th, 2019 – U.S. News Discusses Common Adoption Expenses And The Resources Available
Did you know that the average adoption can cost anywhere from $0 to $50,000? Expenses associated with adoption can include paying for a birth mother’s medical expenses, legal expenses, travel costs, home visits, and more. These costs vary widely from case to case. So how do individuals and families afford their adoptions?
There are many resources available, including but not limited to employer benefits, tax credits, grants, and loans. You can learn more about each expense and possible resources that might be right for your family in this U.S. News article.
June 24, 2019 – Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Continues To Rise
More pregnant women in the United States are using marijuana, with use rising particularly during the first trimester, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Using surveys of mothers-to-be, researchers in JAMA discovered a rise from 3.4% in 2002 to 7% in 2017 among pregnant women who said they had used marijuana during the past month. In the first trimester, marijuana use increased from 5.7% to 12.1%. Marijuana use appears to be most common in the first trimester. The numbers come from data on 4,400 pregnant women and 133,900 nonpregnant women between the ages of 12 and 144 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. A significant percentage of women are now using marijuana on a daily basis during pregnancy. Daily use increased from 0.9% to 3.4%, with daily use topping out during the first trimester at 5.3%. Researchers still aren’t sure how marijuana affects a growing fetus, but the risks could include developmental problems and low birth weight, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
May 28, 2019 – State Pregnancy Drinking Policies May Harm Child Health
No debate is more contentious than the one around drinking during pregnancy. While researchers agree that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause substantial harm to a developing child, there is little consensus about the effects of moderate or light drinking. Even so, many states (43) have instituted policies to discourage pregnant women from drinking anything, with some efforts even reaching to before a woman becomes pregnant. But new research suggests that many of these policies may be bad for both pregnant women and their children. In a new study published in PLOS One, researchers from the Public Health Institute and University of California San Francisco show how some state policies – including warning signs in bars and restaurants and defining drinking while pregnant as child abuse – lead to worse pregnancy outcomes, including low birth weight and premature birth. The researchers believe that many of these policies discourage women from seeking out prenatal scare.
April 18, 2019 – Even One Cigarette During Pregnancy Increases Risk Of Unexpected Child Death
New research suggests that smoking during pregnancy – even one cigarette – poses far greater dangers than once believed. In a new study from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, a team of doctors suggests that up to 22% of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) in United States children can be attributed to maternal smoking during pregnancy. The authors say that even one cigarette during pregnancy can double the risk of SUID. The study’s authors analyzed over 20 million births and 19,000 cases of SUID. Each cigarette smoked during pregnancy appears to increase the risk of unexpected child death. In mothers who smoked between 1 and 20 cigarettes, “each additional cigarette increased the chance of SUID by 0.07 times,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. Sudden unexpected infant death includes “sudden death syndrome, accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and other deaths of babies under 1 year old by an unknown cause.” Around 7% of women report smoking while pregnant.
March 22, 2018 – Michigan Ends Funding To Adoption Agencies That Discriminate Against LGBTQ Couples
The State of Michigan will end funding to adoption agencies that refuse service to same-sex couples and LGBTQ individuals. Under the terms of a new legal settlement negotiated by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will now follow binding non-discrimination policies when drafting polices for foster care and adoption agencies. The settlement calls for the department to enforce these non-discrimination provisions by ending contracts with adoption agencies that refuse service same-sex couples and LGBTQ individuals, or refer them to other service providers.
February 14, 2018 – Depression A Heavy Burden For Many New Moms
Up to 1 in 7 women will experience depression during pregnancy or the first year after birth. Now, help may be coming. New recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force advice pregnant women struggling with depression to seek out certain forms of counseling, which will now be covered by insurance – with no co-pays – under the Affordable Care Act. Perinatal depression affects somewhere between 180,000 and 800,000 American mothers each year, and it’s a serious condition, increasing the likelihood that a mother will become suicidal or cause harm to her infant. It also seems to increase the chances of a premature birth and low birth weight. Thankfully, the government task force found two promising therapies – cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy – that appear to reduce the incidence of perinatal depression, helping mothers build strong, supportive care environments for their children.
January 21, 2018 – Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules On Drug Use During Pregnancy
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has ruled that mothers who use illegal drugs during pregnancy cannot be considered child abusers under Pennsylvania’s child protection law. The high court’s opinion, issued on December 28, 2018, says the child protection law’s definition of “child” does not include fetuses and unborn children, and thus cannot cover instances in which pregnant women do something that could harm their child.
December 10, 2018 – Indiana Faces Delays In Processing Adoption Records
A new law in Indiana has unsealed approximately 37,000 adoption records, but local adoptees may have to wait longer to receive their birth certificates and other information. Under the weight of thousands of requests for adoption records, the Indiana Department of Health has lengthened the wait time for receiving the records, from 12 to 16 weeks to 20 to 22 weeks. Megan Wade-Taxter, a spokesperson for the Health Department, told RTV6 that the Department’s officials are bogged down in requests, including applications that were submitted prior to the new law taking effect. It’s difficult to fulfill each record request, Wade-Taxter says, because the verification process requires a search through paper records, as well as microfiche. Some adoptees and advocates have denounced the delays, but many are just happy that, when their adoption records do appear, they can begin to start the process of discovery.
November 27, 2018 – Oklahoma Enacts New Religious Right Of Refusal Adoption Law
Oklahoma’s legislature has enacted a controversial new adoption law to protect religiously-affiliated adoption agencies who choose to refuse service to LGBTQ adopters, according to KOCO. Modeled after similar legislation passed in states across the country, Oklahoma’s Senate Bill 1140 says that religious adoption agencies are not required to place children in homes if doing so would violate their religious or moral convictions. Lawmakers attempted to insert language in the bill that would cut off state funding to adoption agencies who discriminate against LGBTQ individuals and couples, but the bill was passed without those measures. Senate Bill 1140 went into effect on Thursday, October 31, 2018. LGBTQ campaigners have called the measure an open license to discriminate.
September 21, 2018 – High Gluten Diet Linked To Type 1 Diabetes In Newborn Children
For the first time, researchers in Denmark have found a link between a mother’s high-gluten diet during pregnancy and type 1 diabetes. In a study published in the British Medical Journal, scientists at Denmark’s Statens Serum Institut used a dataset composed of 63,529 pregnant women to discover associations between a mother’s diet and health complications in her child. Women who ate more gluten were more likely to deliver children with type 1 diabetes, according to ScienceDaily. Gluten is a term used to describe proteins found in many grains, including wheat, rye and barley. Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, both as a life-style choice and as a way to stem the side effects of celiac disease.
July 31, 2018 – Philadelphia Judge Rules Against Religious Adoption Agency In Discrimination Case
A federal judge in Philadelphia has ruled against Catholic Social Services, a religiously-affiliated adoption agency, saying the organization violated its contract with the City by refusing to serve same-sex couples looking to adopt, ThinkProgress reports. Philadelphia announced in May that it would end foster care placements at Catholic Social Services and Bethany Christian Services in light of an investigation that revealed both agencies denying service to gay couples.
Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance guarantees all of the Citizen’s treatment free of discrimination in their access of public services. Catholic Social Services admitted to discriminating against same-sex couples in two ways: refusing to certify them as foster parents regardless of their qualifications and refusing to perform home studies for gay couples seeking to become adoptive parents.
June 19, 2018 – Indiana Opens 52 Years Of Adoption Records
On July 1, 2018, adoptees in Indiana will be able to access their adoption and birth records, Indiana Public Media reports. Like several states (including New Jersey) before it, Indiana is opening its vast trove of records from its “closed” period of adoption. Adoptees will be able to apply for the release of records compiled between 1941 and 1993. The processing time for a request, according to a spokesperson for Indiana’s Department of Health, should be around 2 weeks. Birth parents will still have options to maintain their privacy.
May 16, 2018 – Oklahoma Governor Authorizes Controversial Religious “Right Of Refusal” Adoption Law
Oklahoma’s Governor, Mary Fallin, has signed into law a bill that will allow adoption and foster agencies, including organizations funded by taxpayer money, to turn away prospective adoptive parents on the basis of the “agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” Religious groups have hailed the legislation, CNN reports, arguing that the law’s protections could help attract more faith-based adoption services to the State. LGBTQ advocates, on the other hand, call Oklahoma’s SB1140 “discriminatory, anti-family, anti-child, and anti-First Amendment.”
January 4, 2018 – Mental Health Disorders Common During Pregnancy, Study Finds
Around 25% of women may experience mental health issues during pregnancy, according to a new study from King’s College London. Interviewing nearly 550 pregnant women, researchers at the UK university found that up to 11% of the patients were clinically depressed, 15% could be diagnosed with anxiety disorders, 2% had eating disorders and another 2% showed signs of an obsessive-compulsive disorder. “In clinical practice, maternity professionals need to identify whether or not a woman has any mental disorder,” the authors wrote, according to the Independent.
December 19, 2017 – Maternal Blood Sugar Linked To Infant Heart Defects
A new study from Stanford University suggests that increased levels of maternal blood sugar could raise the risk for congenital heart defects in children, USA Today says. Reviewing the medical records of nearly 20,000 mother-child pairs, the team found that, for every 10 milligram per deciliter increase in blood sugar, a child’s risk of being born with a heart defect grew by 8%. The study focused on women who had not previously been diagnosed with diabetes, who already live at an increased risk of delivering babies with congenital heart disease.
November 1, 2017 – NIH Launches Crowdsourced Pregnancy Research Project
The National Institutes of Health is crowdsourcing pregnancy research. The federal agency’s new site, PregSource, asks real pregnant women to submit their own experiences, describing the physical and emotional changes they’ve undergone after becoming pregnant. The point, according to researchers, is to encourage a broader group of women into contributing to medical science, with a specific focus on gaining a better understanding of the unique challenges faced by women who are usually left out of the research process.
October 24, 2017 – Welsh Adoption Agencies Face Sudden Rise In Child Referrals
A drastic increase in babies placed for adoption has left agencies in Wales desperate to locate prospective adoptive parents, the BBC reports. Several regions of the country have seen children referrals increase by nearly 70% over last year.
September 25, 2017 – ACOG Continues To Discourage Marijuana Use During Pregnancy
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists will continue to oppose the use of marijuana, both recreationally and as a treatment for morning sickness, in pregnant women, according to a new report from the leading association of birth specialists. While medical research on the topic is still scant, the group’s Committee on Obstetric Practice says that, due to a potential risk for impaired fetal development, “women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should be encouraged to discontinue marijuana use.” Recent studies cited by ACOG show that marijuana use during pregnancy may be associated with a “modestly” increased risk of stillbirth, as well as low birth weights. ACOG also notes that smoking marijuana could pose the same risks, to both developing children and mothers, as smoking tobacco.
August 23, 2017 – Postpartum Nurses Hold Troubling Misunderstandings About Maternal Death, Survey Finds
More American women die due to pregnancy-related complications than in any other developed nation. In fact, the United States is the only developed country in which postpartum maternal mortality rates have been rising over the last two decades. These troubling statistics are not new; public health researchers and journalists have been warning us about this tragic trend for years.
But a new nationwide survey shows that many postpartum nurses, the very medical professionals trained to promote maternal health after delivery, aren’t staying up to date. Published on August 15, 2017 in the American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing, the survey of 327 registered nurses found that only 24% of respondents could accurately identify the leading cause of maternal death: heart conditions. Only 15% of the nurses knew that maternal mortality rates were rising in the United States; an even greater proportion, 19%, believed that maternal deaths were actually falling.
July 21, 2017 – Toothpaste Pregnancy Test Is Nonsense, Experts Say
Search “toothpaste pregnancy test” on YouTube and you’ll find around 13,000 video results. The growing trend, one that medical experts say has no basis in reality, tells women to add a few drops of their urine to a bowl of white toothpaste. If you’re pregnant, tutorials say, the toothpaste will turn foamy and blue, a chemical reaction due to human chorionic gonadatrophin, a hormone that becomes elevated during pregnancy.
This scientific-sounding explanation is nonsense. As Stuart Gale, chief pharmacist at Oxford Online Pharmacy explained to HuffPost, naturally-occurring acids in urine can react with a chemical in toothpaste and begin to fizz. More acid equals more fizz, but that doesn’t have anything to do with pregnancy. Experts suggest that women who want to know whether or not they are pregnant turn instead to proven testing methods. Over-the-counter pregnancy tests are 99% accurate when used correctly.
June 15, 2017 – Women Who Sleep On Their Backs May Have Higher Risk Of Stillbirth
New research out of New Zealand suggests that women who sleep on their backs during the latter months of pregnancy may be nearly four times more likely to have a late stillbirth, according to the Daily Mail. Women who slept on their sides, on the other hand, actually had a lower rate of stillbirth.
Sleeping on your back, study lead author Dr. Lesley McCowan says, reduces the amount of blood pumped by the heart, which can lower the amount of oxygen delivered to a developing child. Given these physical effects, McCowan believes, it’s not surprising that one’s sleeping position could have an effect on fetal health.
May 12, 2017 – Opioid Epidemic Drives Rise In Hep C During Pregnancy
A shocking jump in the number of pregnant women diagnosed with hepatitis C has been linked to the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. Intravenous drug use is a primary risk factor for developing the virus, a blood-borne pathogen that leads to liver issues. In recent years, the rate of hepatitis C has tripled in the American population, the Centers for Disease Control says. Over the period between 2009 and 2014, infections diagnosed in pregnant women (often at childbirth) rose by 89%. The rise is particularly apparent in rural areas of Tennessee and West Virginia, where increases in opioid abuse have been most dramatic.
April 11, 2017 – HPV Vaccine Is Safe In Early Pregnancy, Study Finds
A new study from Copenhagen has found no apparent risks linked to the administration of the HPV vaccine during early pregnancy, easing concerns that the vaccine could increase the risk for certain birth defects and low birth weight infants. Danish researchers compared the health outcomes of 1,800 pregnancies exposed to vaccine with around 7,000 unexposed pregnancies, Medpage Today reports. The study’s result – no statistically-significant increase in adverse fetal events – lends support to a number of previous clinical trials with similar findings.
March 14, 2017 – Legal Protections For Pregnant Workers In Massachusetts Gain Ground
Legislators in Massachusetts have taken one step closer to expanding protections for pregnant workers, the Gloucester Times reports, but supporters of the proposed Pregnant Workers Fairness Act have had to make significant concessions to the measure’s opponents.
As currently drafted, the law would require employers to make accommodations for pregnant women, providing more frequent breaks, creating modified schedules and allowing women to request transfers out of hazardous or strenuous workplaces.
The bill has a long history in Massachusetts’ State Senate, but previous versions have languished before various House committees. Supporters, however, are hopeful after a new draft was crafted in collaboration with business leaders, represented primarily by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts. As part of the deal, advocates have agreed to give businesses an out; employers will no longer be forced to provide special accommodations if doing so would create “undue” financial burdens.
“There are many women who have to choose between staying employed and carrying a pregnancy,” says Joan Lovely, a State Representative from Salem and the bill’s lead sponsor. “We’re seeing discrimination and situations where pregnant women are being forced to leave a job.” Around 6,000 discrimination complaints are filed by pregnant workers every year on the state and federal level.
February 16, 2017 – Women Carrying Female Fetuses Experience Heightened Immune Response, Study Shows
Old wives’ tales often say that expectant parents can “feel” whether they’re carrying a male or female child, even before ultrasound confirmation. New research out of Ohio State University has provided some empirical support for this folk wisdom, finding that a baby’s biological sex can have significant impacts on the mother’s health.
The inter-disciplinary team studied 80 pregnant women, gauging their immune system responses after being exposed to bacteria. Women who were pregnant with female fetuses produced more of a white blood cell related to inflammation, which translated into an increased immune system response.
Now, researchers are wondering whether these results explain why many women report worse morning sickness when carrying their daughters than their sons. It’s also being considered as a solution to the puzzle of why women carrying female fetuses experience heightened symptoms of asthma.
Ultimately, the research suggests that mothers carrying female fetuses may face greater health concerns – at least where infections are concerned. But as Medical Daily notes, male fetuses are linked to riskier pregnancies overall, in part because males grow faster in the womb than females do, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
January 9, 2016 – Law Hopes To Protect Rights Of Pregnant College Students In New Jersey
A new law in New Jersey intends to expand the rights of pregnant college students, who often face pressure from academic institutions to withdraw from their studies. “
Too many women hear that it’s virtually impossible to go to school if they’re pregnant,” says Joann Downey, a member of the state’s General Assembly. “By accomomodating women as they prepare for motherhood and for a career,” Downey told the Asbury Park Press, “colleges and universities in New Jersey can ensure that pregnant students have equal opportunity on campus.”
The law will require that colleges provide pregnant students with reasonable accommodations, including make-up tests for pregnancy-related issues. It will also allow pregnant students to avoid potentially-hazardous materials, as would be present in a school’s science lab, without threatening their grades or attendance record.
December 2, 2016 – New Jersey Set To Unseal 300,000 Adoption Records By Year’s End
New Jersey’s Office of Vital Statistics and Registry is preparing to unseal the birth certificates of around 300,000 adopted people on January 1, 2017, according to NorthJersey.com. The change in public policy was authorized by a State law that Governor Chris Christie signed in 2014. A similar one will take effect in Pennsylvania at the end of 2017.
The move will allow adoptees to request documentation listing their place, time and date of birth, along with the names of their biological parents. Biological parents who wish to remain anonymous still have a little under one month to have their names redacted from the documents upon request. The final date to have one’s name removed from a birth certificate is December 31, 2016, but is not applicable to adoptions that were finalized on or after August 1, 2015.
Parents can also specify how much, if any, contact they would like to allow with their biological children, information that can be submitted at any time. Parents who choose no contact can supply the State’s Office of Vital Statistics and Registry with an updated medical history. To date, over 160 biological parents have asked to have their names redacted from birth certificates, Donna Leusner, spokesperson for the New Jersey Health Department says. 80 biological parents have provided their contact information, the vast majority consenting to be contacted directly by their biological children, rather than through an intermediary. Nearly 500 adoptees have filed applications to receive their birth certificates.
November 7, 2016 – Exercise, Even Elite Training, May Hold Serious Benefits During Pregnancy
Pregnant women have long been encouraged to exercise regularly, albeit at moderate exertion levels, to promote a healthy pregnancy. In the past, researchers have raised concerns that intense workout regimens could reduce cardiovascular output, decreasing blood flow to a developing baby and boosting the risks for miscarriage and low birth weight. A new analysis of currently-published data, though, has shown promising results for women, especially elite athletes, who would like to continue rigorous training while pregnant.
In a study commissioned by the International Olympic Committee, a team led by Canadian doctor Gregory Davies found that regular exercise, even at elite levels, didn’t raise the risk for a premature delivery or a low birth weight. Instead, routine physical activity appeared to shorten the first stage of labor for women and may even reduce the need for cesarean sections. Sedentary lifestyles, Davies told CBS News, are likely more risky than strenuous activity.
Certain activities should still be avoided, however. During the first three months of pregnancy, repetitive weight training appears to increase the risk of miscarriage and the researchers advise pregnant women to avoid that form of exercise. The risk for physical injuries should also be taken into account, Davies said, especially for athletes who hope to compete professionally while pregnant.
October 5, 2016 – US Maternal Mortality Rate Is Rising
“The US maternal mortality rate is moving in the wrong direction,” according to researchers at the University of Maryland, Boston University and Stanford. While the death rate among pregnant women has declined worldwide, it’s increased in the United States, growing by nearly 25% between 2000 and 2015.
Where pregnant women’s lives are concerned, the United States now ranks lower than Libya and Kazakhstan.
September 1, 2016 – Want A Smart Baby? Eat Fruit, Canadian Researchers Report
Need another reason to stock up on healthy eating options? Canadian researchers say that expectant mothers who eat more fruit could be increasing the intelligence of their children. Studying 688 children living in Edmonton, the scientists discovered that women who ate between six and seven servings of fruit per day gave birth to children who tested higher on a traditional IQ scale.
Kids who stay in the womb longer also tend to have higher IQs, researcher Francois Bolduc told Science Daily. Eating just one serving of fruit every day was equivalent to giving a baby one week longer inside her mother. Of course, this isn’t a reason to binge on fruits and juices. Bolduc is careful to note that overconsuming fruit can increase the risk of gestational diabetes and high birthweights.
August 4, 2016 – Free IUDs In Colorado Lower Unplanned Pregnancy Rate By 40%
After teens and poor women were offered free IUDs as part of a program in Colorado, unplanned pregnancies dropped by 40%. The area’s abortion rate decreased by 42%, according to the New York Times. Now a similar program is coming to Texas. Thanks to a $2 million donation to Planned Parenthood in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, local women will have access to free intrauterine devices, or IUDs, implantable birth control devices that are becoming increasingly popular among young women.
July 13, 2016 – Most Pregnancy Multi-Vitamins Are An Unfounded Marketing Ploy, UK Research Says
For years, doctors and government organizations have urged women to take a few crucial vitamins before and during their pregnancies. Most official agencies limit their recommendations to folic acid, which vastly decreases the risk of certain birth defects, and Vitamin D. But vitamin manufacturers go much further, heavily marketing a wide array of multi-vitamins to pregnant women. New research, published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, says there’s little evidence to support their claims.
Summing up his study’s results, lead author James Cave MD told reporters:
“We found no evidence to recommend that all pregnant women should prenatal multi-nutrient supplements beyond the nationally advised folic acid and vitamin D supplements.” Which are cheap, sold in generic versions, Cave points out – unlike most of the more-comprehensive multi-vitamins marketed for pregnancy. Beyond expensive, multi-vitamins can also be harmful. “A far better idea,” Cave says, “is ensuring your are eating plenty of fruit and vegetables [and] making sure you exercise.”
June 9, 2016 – Many Women Avoid Needed, & Safe, Drugs During Pregnancy, UK Researchers Say
A new study out of the UK suggests that many pregnant women avoid taking drugs, even ones that researchers believe are safe during pregnancy. Surveying 1,120 women in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the public health scientists found vast disparities in which conditions women were willing to treat through pharmaceutical medicines.
More than 63% of pregnant women who experienced heartburn turned to over-the-counter or prescription drugs, but only 9.5% of the women who experienced nausea did. The researchers were particularly worried about non-treatment of urinary tract infections, which can turn into kidney infections dangerous to both mother and child. Around 35% of the women who reported contracting a UTI did not seek treatment.
Of course, not all prescription or OTC meds are safe for pregnant women to take. That’s why study lead author Michael Twigg says women should always ask a health professional about the drugs they’re considering taking. His fear is that many people are harboring unfounded fears about drug use during pregnancy, and not seeking needed treatments as a result.
May 11, 2016 – Folic Acid May Increase Autism Risk, But Study Could Be Flawed
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found evidence that high amounts of folic acid, a form of Vitamin B universally recommended to pregnant women, may actually raise the risk of delivering children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The study has yet to be published, according to LiveScience, but the results will be presented at an autism research conference in Baltimore on May 13.
In her study, lead author Ramkripa Raghavan, a doctoral student focusing on maternal and child health, discovered that women with very high levels of folic acid in their blood were twice as likely to have had a child with an ASD.
It’s the culmination of more than 15 years of research. In 2001, Raghavan and her co-authors gave around 1,400 new moms a blood test within the first three days after delivery. The women and children, who came from a low-income, minority community in Boston, were then tracked for 15 years to see which kids were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Another vitamin, Vitamin B12, was linked to a three-fold increase in the risk for an ASD.
This may seem troubling, especially since women are often told to take folic acid during pregnancy because the vitamin appears to lower the risk of neural tube defects. But other scientists have urged caution, reports the UK-based newspaper the Independent.
Raghavan’s study hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet, so it may contain methodological flaws. Autism spectrum disorders, for that matter, are “somewhat subjective,” says cognitive development expert Chris Jarrold. Two experts can disagree on a diagnosis, and the rate of ASD in Raghavan’s study, more than 100 out of 1,391 children, is almost suspiciously high. Unless folic acid usage was also extremely high among the mothers, Jarrold says that we should view the new results with skepticism.
For her part, Raghavan doesn’t want to suggest that pregnant women should stop taking folic acid altogether. It could be case of “too much of a good thing,” she told the Independent. “We tell women to be sure to get folate early in pregnancy. What we need to figure out now is whether there should be additional recommendations about just what an optimal dose is throughout pregnancy.”
April 7, 2016 – Unintended Pregnancy Rate Slips Below 50%
A new study from the Guttmacher Institute, published March 3 in the New England Journal of Medicine, provides evidence that America’s unplanned pregnancy rate fell to a 30-year low between 2008 and 2011. Unintended pregnancies have always been surprisingly common in the United States, and far higher than other developed countries. In fact, until very recently, it was widely accepted that more than 50% of pregnancies in the US were unplanned. But researchers from Guttmacher, the country’s foremost reproductive health research organization, say just 45% of pregnancies in 2011 were unintended, compared to 51% in 2008. Moreover, those rates fell across the board, regardless of a woman’s marital status, income level, education level, ethnicity or race.
March 7, 2016 – How Do You Know If Young Men Will Stay With Their Children? Ask About Their Views On Sex.
Can you predict whether or not a young father will stick around to parent his child? Surprisingly, few studies have tried to tackle the issue of teen pregnancy from a father’s point of view. Most research focuses instead on the sexual behavior and beliefs of young women, but a group of researchers at Northwestern University recently broke that trend.
The researchers used interviews with more than 10,200 young men, conducted when they were teens, about their opinions on “risky sex,” birth control and pregnancy. Teens were asked how much they agreed with statements like:
- “If you had sexual intercourse, your friends would respect you more.”
- “It wouldn’t be all that bad if you got someone pregnant at this time in your life.”
- “Using birth control interferes with sexual enjoyment.”
Those questions were asked 14 years ago. This year, the Northwestern researchers checked up on each young man’s fatherhood status, and found strong correlations between the opinions they held during youth and whether or not they were still living with their children.
Teenage males who looked more “favorably” on pregnancy (saying it “wouldn’t be that bad if they got a young woman pregnant”) were 20% more likely to become “nonresident fathers,” living away from their children. Young men who said they were less concerned about having unprotected sex were 30% more likely to become nonresident fathers. Teens who understood how effective birth control is were 28% less likely to become nonresident fathers.
The research is especially important because it doesn’t just look at the connection between a young man’s opinion on sex and his likelihood of becoming a father, but whether or not he’ll remain a resident father, and continue living with his kids.
February 1, 2016 – Teen Pregnancy Has “Stronger” Effect On Women With “Brightest Socioeconomic Prospects”
Researchers have been debating the effect that becoming pregnant before the age of 18 has on a young woman’s life for decades.
One school of thought holds that dealing with the unavoidable stresses of pregnancy and parenting prevents many young mothers from earning as much money as they would be able to without children, and restricts their access to academic opportunities. Another theory takes as its starting point the fact that a majority of teen pregnancies can be found in communities already disadvantaged socioeconomically. Pregnancy doesn’t reduce a mother’s ability to earn more; it’s where she lives, and the resources that are or aren’t available to her that do. Yet another idea is that pregnancy actually helps some young women prioritize their goals, leading to more opportunities in the long-run.
A new study, conducted by sociologists at the University of Arizona, lends credence to all three of these theories. Whether pregnancy has a negative or positive effect on a woman’s educational progress and future earnings depends on the advantages she had before getting pregnant. The researchers looked at more than 3,600 young women, and their analysis confirmed the generally-accepted notion that young mothers have lower levels of education and total earnings than women who delay becoming pregnant.
But the impact of getting pregnant varies depending on a mother’s personal circumstances, like family expectations and household income. Women who were considered less likely to get pregnant (like those from high-income families in wealthy suburbs) lost out more, in terms of education and future earnings, than women from low-income backgrounds. Teen pregnancy isn’t an isolated issue, the researchers concluded, and it shouldn’t be treated as one.