Category Archives: Health

Contraceptive Dangers

Rising Concern Over Side Effects

WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Even as governments and family planning groups continue to push contraceptives, new evidence is coming forward on their dangerous side effects. In England, the minister for children, Margaret Hodge, declared that she was in favor of injectable contraceptives for schoolgirls, BBC reported Nov. 16.

“What is really interesting is this contraceptive injection,” she declared. “If people are having sex, you don’t want them to have babies at that age.”

Hodge’s enthusiasm for contraceptives flies in the face of scientific warnings. On Aug. 23 Reuters reported on research by a team from the University of North Carolina and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Women who use the injected contraceptive Depo-Provera have a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases, they concluded.

Charles Morrison, of Family Health International, said that more study is needed, but it is possible that Depo-Provera itself causes a susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases. “We did adjust for differences in condom use, differences in multiple partners, differences in the number of sexual coital acts,” he told Reuters.

Depo-Provera is also under scrutiny by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency has now stipulated that the drug must carry a special warning that prolonged use can cause significant loss of bone density, the Associated Press reported Nov. 17.

Shortly after the FDA announcement, another study confirmed the problem of bone loss due to Depo-Provera, Reuters reported Dec. 23. Researchers from the University of Iowa compared 178 women using the injectable with 145 women not using hormonal contraception.

Average bone density at the hip fell 2.8% one year after starting Depo-Provera and 5.8% after two years. Loss of bone density in the spine was similar. This compares to average bone loss of less than 0.9% among the control group.

Deadly side effects

Another contraceptive with troubling consequences is the so-called patch. Last April 4 the New York Post reported on the case of 18-year-old Zakiya Kennedy, who died as a result of blood clots, formed as a result of her patch contraceptive. She had switched from using birth-control pills to the patch about three weeks before her death.

The newspaper followed this up with a Sept. 19 report tying the Ortho Evra patch, the only kind marketed in the United States, to the deaths of at least 17 women in the past two years. The article added that scores of other women using the patch have suffered complications, including 21 “life-threatening” cases of blood clots and other ailments. The data came from FDA reports obtained by the newspaper.

The article added that the manufacturer claims the patch has been used by 4 million American women since it went on sale in 2002. A company spokesman commented that the illnesses and deaths are “consistent with the health risks” of the pill, which it says kills 0.3 to 1.9 women in every 100,000 users ages 15 to 29.

Concerns over the health risks of another contraceptive forced the FDA to step in a few days ago to correct a TV commercial. Reuters reported Dec. 30 that the FDA warned Barr Pharmaceuticals that its ads for Seasonale pills failed to mention the side effect of frequent and substantial bleeding.

The FDA warned the company that the commercial misleads consumers by excluding this information, to make the birth control pill seem safer. The warning came in a letter to the company released by the FDA on Dec. 29. In addition to the bleeding problems the pill’s label warns that other side effects can include blood clots, heart attack and stroke. But the commercials, observed the FDA, use “compelling visuals” and “fast-paced scene changes” along with other techniques that distract from warning information.

Good news proved false

One recent report at first seemed to disprove health worries over contraceptives. The British newspaper Guardian on Oct. 26 noted that some studies had concluded that the pill could help protect women from heart disease and strokes. Plus, another study of women in America concluded that the pill did not increase the risk of breast or cervical cancer.

These results were presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine conference in Philadelphia last October. The data came from the ongoing Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, which is tracking a group of more than 160,000 women.

The report in the Guardian was skeptical about the positive news. It noted that the WHI study had previously reported data linking hormone replacement treatment to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and strokes. The contraceptive pill and HRT are practically the same, the article noted.

The doubts proved to be prescient. On Nov. 27 the London-based Times reported that the WHI had subsequently rejected the findings drawn from its data and demanded a retraction.

Jacques Rossouw, acting director of the WHI, admitted to the Times that the study lacked credibility. “The researchers just looked at base-line data, which is very poor data,” he said. “That is why the findings are so bizarre. These kinds of results are just not credible.”

The Times followed this story up with another article, on Dec. 13, that warned of higher stroke risks for women who take the pill. Based on a study of more than 5,000 people, researchers from Canada, the United State and Spain have concluded that migraine sufferers who take the pill are up to eight times more likely to suffer a stroke than those not using it. The Times added that migraines affect an estimated 6 million people in Britain, with women being more susceptible to the problem.

So-called morning-after pills are also associated with health problems. A July 30 report by Medical News Today summarized the findings of a study published by Dr. Gene Rudd in the September issue of the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

Last July 22, Barr Laboratories reapplied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to receive approval for Plan B to be made available over-the-counter, after the FDA’s initial refusal. Rudd’s article contains data arguing that easing access to Plan B would place the health of many women at risk.

Rudd noted that nonprescription access to Plan B would keep many women out of doctors’ offices and away from appropriate, comprehensive care. Additionally, Plan B may encourage more risk-taking behaviors such as “unprotected” sex that increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Health concerns are not limited to contraceptives. The abortion pill RU-486 has been linked to a number of deaths. A well-known case is the 2003 death of Holly Patterson, an 18-year-old Californian who succumbed to septic shock after taking RU-486.

Holly’s father, Monty Patterson, said that the FDA should ban the abortion pill after a third death was being linked to its use, the Associated Press reported Nov. 16. That same day, the New York Times reported that the FDA has asked that the warning label on the RU-486 be strengthened.

In an opinion article published Nov. 19 in the New York Times, Donna Harrison, an obstetrician-gynecologist and member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, accused authorities of having given the green light to the abortion pill in 2000 due to political interference by the Clinton administration.

She explained that documents recently obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the Clinton administration “pushed to get RU-486 approved before the 2000 election despite the lack of reliable data demonstrating its safety.” That news may have come too late for at least a few RU-486 users.

Breast Milk or Cow’s Milk?

Breast-feeding is a must for all babies. We do an injustice to our children if we deprive them of this birth-right. Some even call this doing violence to the child as it tears him or her away from this bond.

Powder milk or cow’s milk can never come near mother’s milk.

Breast milk is God’s gift to us to be used generously for the child’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development to the fullest.

Breast-feeding rarely fails if we start right. Sadly this is where all the problems lie.

Not all doctors and nurses are knowledgeable about how to start a mother off well. So get in touch with a breastfeeding consultant or counsellor such as volunteers from Joyful Parenting sometime before delivery and make sure she is a phone call away when you start breastfeeding.

VERY IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER:

1. Suckle immediately

Give the baby to the mother to suckle immediately after the delivery while still in the delivery room. The doctor will only be too happy to keep you occupied while he tidies up below. The baby is not hungry and the little watery liquid that flows out – the colostrum – is very powerful stuff, containing antibodies and white cells which protect the baby from disease.

2. 100% breast-feeding – “No bottle feeds whatsoever please”

From the very beginning give the baby the breast every time he cries in hunger.

His sucking stimulates milk production in the breast.

The amount of milk produced depends on the appetite of the baby and the breast will know because of the eagerness and intensity with which the baby sucks.

But this will be interfered with if the baby is given bottle feeds for the 1st and 2nd days, as often happens in hospitals; breast-feeding is started only on the 2nd or 3rd day.

When this is done the baby gets so used to the rubber teat, which is made so easy to suck, that he rejects his mother’s nipple.

Another problem caused by the delay is that the mother’s breasts get painfully engorged with milk that has not been given a chance to flow. This painful engorgement of breasts has discouraged many mothers and made them give up.

For the first 6 months the baby does not need any supplement, not even water – simply mother’s milk 100%!

The following is extracted from the article “Breast-Feeding in Practice”, Oxford University Press, 1982, New York.

Postponing suckling is an unnatural practice, which we should avoid and discourage.

There is no reason why a healthy, full-term baby cannot be put to the breast immediately after birth. There is good evidence that this increases the success and duration of breastfeeding (Salariya, Easton, and Cater 1978). But although there are many reasons why a baby should suckle at this time, many supposedly ‘modern’ hospitals insist on a delay of 24 hours and even sometimes of two or three days before a baby is allowed to nurse. When we have asked why this should be, we have been given vague and conflicting answers, never a satisfactory one.

But now, however, progressive health workers recommend putting the newborn to the breast immediately after birth (WHO / UNICEF 1979). If possible, let the mother and child lie together for about an hour in a quiet room. They should both be naked, but covered together, and be able to hold, fondle, and suckle, and to bond. The father should also be there (Lozoff et al. 1977). In due time this practice will, we hope, become general. During the initial bonding ‘cuddle’ do not bother them, let the mother try for herself. She may prefer to continue just to try for herself for another feed or two.

3. Making a commitment!

You must make a very strong stand from the beginning as husband and wife if you want your breast-feeding to succeed.

Make it clear to your obstetrician that you want the above procedure to be carried out, otherwise he will assume that you are not interested in breast-feeding. He will be happy to give you the baby immediately after delivery. Ask him to give strict orders to the hospital staff, and you must also repeat the instructions to the staff yourselves and make sure that they are carried out, otherwise they will use the fastest way to keep your baby quiet in the nursery: just fill him with cow’s milk and he sleeps contentedly all the time.

No bottle feeds for my baby please. I want to feed him myself every time he is hungry.

You have a right to have the baby “room-in” with you.

Endometriosis… What’s that?

This problem is getting to be so common and may be the biggest cause of infertility in women. Our grandmothers married young and this problem was rare in their time.

But women are marrying later and because of this disease, they find it difficult to conceive.

This disease is caused by menstrual flow which sometimes flows through the Fallopian Tube into the abdominal cavity carrying with it endometrial cells which line the womb. These cells are like seedlings which take root all over the surrounding area and grow. Every month as the endometrial lining of the womb is growing and getting thicker, the seedlings in the abdomen also grow forming ‘cysts’.

When the endometrium is shed during menstruation, the endometrial cells outside the womb also bleed, but they bleed inwards and form dark red or ‘chocolate’ cysts. These cysts can be large and numerous, they can grow on the ovaries and choke them up or irritate the area and cause scarring and adhesions, distorting or blocking the Fallopian Tubes.

Symptoms of endometriosis:

  1. You may have painful periods, more intense or longer in duration than the 24 hours of usual menstrual pain.
  2. You may be having severe backaches with your periods or even at other times, and sometimes the sensation of wanting to pass motion all the time.
  3. You may be having difficulty getting pregnant.

Treatment for endometriosis:

  1. Get pregnant – because during pregnancy there is no menstruation and the cysts shrivel up. But the problem is that it is not easy to conceive!
  2. Surgery – a tedious process of looking for each cyst and removing it or having it burnt off (cautery).
  3. Medication – taking hormones for 6-9 months to create a condition similar to pregnancy and hope that the cysts shrivel up and die. The hormones have potential side-effects though.
  4. Wait for menopause at about 48 years of age for all hormonal activity to stop. This is for women who get endometriosis later in life even after having children. Our grandmothers did not have this condition because they had their children young and at more frequent intervals. They did not stop at one or two.

Getting Yourself Vaccinated Against German Measles (Rubella)

All women should be vaccinated against rubella before conceiving because this disease though mild for you, may have disastrous consequences for your baby if are pregnant.

IF YOU ARE NOT SURE WHETHER YOU HAD THE DISEASE OR THE VACCINATION BEFORE, GO AHEAD AND VACCINATE YOURSELF ANYWAY.

Re-vaccination gives extra protection. The blood test may cost more than the vaccine. And the 3-in-1 vaccine protects against mumps and measles as well.

For your peace of mind, we recommend getting vacccinated before the wedding and no later than 3 months before deciding to have a baby. There are reports that say it is safe for those who conceived within 3 months of vaccination, but there seems to be doubts in the minds of many medical professionals. And when the vaccine first came out many years ago, there was a fear among the medical profession that the vaccine may harm the baby during the first few months. However this has not been shown to be the case.

The problem is that the doctors are so casual about abortion that with the slightest doubt they will recommend abortion.

So please do not be trapped in this very unhappy situation where people are telling you that your baby may be damaged and you are tempted to abort.

Go for your Rubella vaccination IMMEDIATELY and forget about this problem. Please do not procrastinate.