Medical Monday: Weekly News Update in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Good Monday.

A new study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists suggested light meals during labor may be safe for most women. Ordinarily we would like to restrict intake to clear liquids nothing at all depending on the risk level of the woman. The main concern here is the risk of aspiration which means inhaling food particles from the stomach into the respiratory tract. Pregnant women are at increased risk for aspiration compared to non-pregnant women due to  the pressure from the baby and the relaxation of the esophageal muscles. Moreover, women are often nauseous during labor, increasing risk. The highest concern comes if the patient needs to go to cesarean section. In this instance she needs to be on her back with only a slight tilt, and this increases the risk of aspiration even further. It is unfortunate that the lay reporting makes it sound like we fear that women might aspirate during normal labor. Our concern is mostly having to do with the chance that they will go to cesarean section on a full stomach. 

Shots Blog on NPR covered this interesting tidbit: Babies and mothers exchange cells each others circulation during pregnancy labor and delivery, And they are maintained in circulation thereafter. These are believed to have implications for cancer and auto immune diseases that affect women. It is unclear whether these are beneficial, harmful, or both, depending on the circumstances. 

We know that when people have more testosterone in their system that they are more assertive or aggressive. But we are now finding is that the converse is also true. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, our testosterone levels rise in response to assertive behavior such as the use of power in a work situation. Study noted that this is especially true in women.

Did you know that tobacco use before pregnancy and in pregnancy is associated with cleft palette and congenital heart defects? The CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities performed a meta-analysis which indicated that 6% of oral clefts and 1.4% of non-syndromic heart defects are attributable to maternal smoking in the first trimester. 

Yet another study underscores the fact that drinking alcohol increases a woman's risk of breast cancer.

Got cold sores? Don’t feel bad. The World Health Organization estimates that half of the world’s population under 50 does too. 

Stay tuned for more news from the world of obstetrics and gynecology, Next week on Medical Monday.