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What is Microcephaly + What’s the Link to Zika?

By February 1, 2016 1 Comment


With the increasing news coverage of Zika and it’s reported link to the birth defect microcephaly we’ve received a number of reader questions about microcephaly and what it actually means for children born with the condition.  We reached out to infectious disease specialist, Dr. Judy Stone, to answer some of your questions.

What does microcephaly actually mean (Is the brain small, does it stop growing at a certain stage, is part of the brain missing)?
Microcephaly literally means an abnormally small head. Both the skull and brain are abnormally small with microcephaly, and X-ray studies often show abnormal calcified areas in the brain and lack of normal development.

Is Zika the only way a baby can be born with microcephaly or are there other risk factors?
Microcephaly has been associated with many infections as well as genetic abnormalities, malnutrition, or exposure to certain toxins. It already happens very rarely in the U.S. due to the level of nutrition and prenatal care most women receive (although even with good nutrition and proper prenatal care, microcephaly can still occur due to certain genetic factors or infections). Even in Brazil, the “epidemic” of this birth defect is thought to be <1%. Some researchers think that some of the sudden apparent increase reflects changes in reporting rather than new illnesses. It’s also important to know that the link right now is just correlated with Zika, there hasn’t yet been a cause and effect relationship proven, but it’s enough to raise alarm bells.

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Categories: Ages + Stages, Chronic Illnesses + Conditions, Disability + Disability Advocacy, Infectious Disease + Vaccines, Newborns + Infants

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section (VBAC) + Repeat C-Sections: Myths vs Reality, Part Three

By and January 28, 2016 No Comments

Interview with Dr. Jean-Giles Tchabo

In my last two posts (which you can read here and here), I talked about my experience approaching the delivery of my second child, after having an emergency c-section for my first. My OB/Gyn, Dr. Jean-Giles Tchabo was someone I found who encouraged vaginal deliveries after cesarean sections (VBACs) as an option for women in my situation, so I interviewed him for answers to common questions about VBACs.

In the first post we dispelled some of the myths of VBACs, and in the second we delved deeper into the topic with a series of reader questions around policies, and health issues. In this post, we turn our focus to issues and science involved in e
mergency c-sections.

What is the difference in terms of procedure and experience between an emergency c-section and a repeat c-section?

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Categories: Pregnancy, Birth + Family Planning, Science 101 + Mythbusting

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section (VBAC) + Repeat C-Sections: Myths vs Reality, Part One

By and January 26, 2016 1 Comment

Interview with Dr. Jean-Giles Tchabo 

When I was in labor with my first baby, my regular OB had to leave and I was terrified. I trusted my OB and didn’t know this new doctor that was coming on rotation, and I didn’t want a random doctor making medical decisions that could mean life or death for my baby and I.

The hospital staff reassured me that the physician coming on rotation, Dr. Jean-Giles Tchabo, was “the best,” and had trained every doctor at the hospital. If I wanted a vaginal delivery, they said, this doctor was the one who was going to make sure I got it. I thought they were trying to placate me until my husband confirmed it by looking him up online on his phone.

But what we want and what is medically essential are sometimes different things. As I’ve written before,  I ended up needing an emergency c-section and it was a fairly traumatic experience. However, I’ve reviewed my medical files and I’m confident that Dr. Tchabo’s decision was in the best interests of myself and my son.

For my recent pregnancy with my daughter, I followed Dr. Tchabo to his own practice, and found that they encourage vaginal deliveries after cesarean section (VBAC), which something that not all practice or hospitals allow. So prior to my delivery, I decided to sit down with him and ask some questions about VBACs and repeat c-sections. Here’s what he had to say:

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Categories: Pregnancy, Birth + Family Planning, Science 101 + Mythbusting

On Pregnancy #2: Editor-in-Chief Leslie Waghorn talks C-Sections, Wives’ Tales, and Being Pregnant in Public

By and November 17, 2015 No Comments

Julia interviewed Leslie just before she delivered baby #2, Maggie, on Monday (you can see pictures of the little beauty on our blog here – a big congrats to the Waghorn family!). At the time, she was full term, absolutely feeling it, and had had some time to reflect back on how this pregnancy has been for her, compared to her first pregnancy with her son, Jack.

Julia Bennett : So, Leslie. Let’s talk about being pregnant with bebeh #2 – First up! Word on the street is that you’re very, very pregnant. How very pregnant is very very pregnant? And how are you feeling right now?

Leslie Waghorn: Haha!  I am VERY pregnant.  Super pregnant if you will!  I’m 39 weeks and some odd days.

Julia: We may have heard some stories about how it’s attracting some attention in public. What’s that all about?

Leslie at 38 weeks - with a not-quite-complete "torpedo belly"

Leslie at 38 weeks – with a not-quite-full-term “torpedo belly”

Leslie:  It’s usually in the form of stares of disbelief.  Lots of people are commenting about how I look and what that means for me and the baby.  Apparently my stomach now looks like a torpedo which some people associate with having a boy.  When I tell people it’s not a boy (based on the ultrasounds and genetic tests) they generally get defensive. But I find the comments more amusing at this point than insulting, and  I’m shocked at what people say to pregnant women.  Even before I had my first baby my response to seeing a pregnant woman was to usually ask if they knew the sex, how far along they were and to wish them luck.  But I’m still shocked at how much my body seems to be a public commodity. I mean, if I wasn’t pregnant would you have any right to comment on my body?  Would you feel comfortable doing it if I wasn’t pregnant?  But because I have a giant belly it somehow makes it OK.

Julia:  That sounds frustrating. Does it happen nearly every time you’re out?

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Categories: Pregnancy, Birth + Family Planning