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Avoiding 21st-Century Hazards While You’re Pregnant

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“Can you hear me now?” When actor Paul Marcarelli uttered that phrase – over and over and over again – in a mobile phone company ad, we’re pretty sure he never thought the question should be directed at pregnant women and their fetuses. But that’s what researchers from Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in New York City wondered about. So they tracked 28 obstetrics and gynecology residents, all of whom were in their third trimester and carried beepers or cellphones near their fetus’s head.

Preliminary findings, presented at the 2015 American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meeting, were that a cellphone’s ringing, beeping and buzzing startle a fetus and disrupt its sleep patterns. (The researchers pointed out that studies of pregnant women who live near airports have found that aviation noise also startles fetuses.)

Over time, around 60 percent of the fetuses toned down their reaction to the cellphones, even as the researchers made the noise more frequent, but that doesn’t mean the sounds don’t continue to change normal fetal behavior. The scientists’ advice to pregnant women: Keep cellphones as far away from your belly and the fetus’s head as possible.

Another finding from the same meeting: While pregnant, e-cigs are NOT safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes, according to researchers from the University of Maryland. The nicotine they (usually) contain alters brain development in a growing embryo, and some e-cigs contain heavy metals that can be harmful. Even the American Vaping Association says pregnant women shouldn’t vape.

 

© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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