6 Foods That Decrease Inflammation

Foods that fight inflammation

Doctors are learning that one of the best ways to decrease inflammation in the body is not through a drug, but in foods.

As you may know, your immune system recognizes and attacks anything that is recognizes as a threat to your body (antigen).  This can be something natural or unnatural.  When it attacks, it involves inflammation.

However, sometimes inflammation lasts days, weeks, even years when the body is irritated with foods that are pesticide ridden or not nutritious.  This is when inflammation occurs, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That’s when inflammation is your enemy. Many major diseases that you hear about including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’ have been linked to chronic inflammation.

One of the most powerful tools to decrease inflammation does not come from a drug, but from the grocery store.  There have been many books and research showing that certain foods keep inflammation down in the body.  and now Dr. Frank Hu of Harvard states that “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects.”

Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness and disease.   Pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammation in your body and start the disease process.

So what foods inflame the body?  

  • The “bad” carbohydrates, such as white bread, pastries, pasta (anything the body metabolizes as sugar)
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages (again…sugar)
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • margarine, shortening, and lard

Inflammation-promoting foods

So, it should make sense that all of the foods that cause inflammation also are bad for us.

“Some of the foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation,” Dr. Hu says. “It’s not surprising, since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases.”

Unhealthy foods also lead to gaining weight as well so people that are obese are also highly inflammed.

Foods that decrease inflammation

Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods in your diet:

  • tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges. Highly acidic fruits like pineapple and mango should be eaten sparingly.

Anti-inflammation foods

On the flip side are foods and beverages that have been found to reduce the risk of inflammation, and with it, chronic disease, says Dr. Hu. He notes in particular fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols, which play a huge role in the prevention of disease.

Studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Coffee, which contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, may protect against inflammation, as well but make sure it is organic instead of sprayed with pesticides.

“A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving mood and overall quality of life,” Dr. Hu says.

I have to agree.  When I am eating my normal diet of salad, fruits, veggies and lean meats…my mood and energy levels are wonderful

References: Harvard Women’s Health Watch

10 Ways to Help with Insomnia

Insomnia is no fun.  Not getting enough sleep disturbs your concentration, slows down healing in the body and highly effects your mood.

Here are some suggestions for helping your get your Zs….

1. Take anything that is considered a stimulant out of your diet.  Coffee, teas, chocolate, sodas and energy drinks or powders.  If you need an energy drink for a workout, try and take them in the morning instead of later on in the day.

Unless you have Thyroid or Adrenal Fatigue, B vitamins are essential to the nervous system and low doses can interrupt your sleep.  Either eat foods high in vitamin B or take a natural supplement each day.  Also, get about 20 minutes of sun each day or take vitamin D.  Exercising at least 3 times per week should help as well.

There are several Herbal remedies for insomnia…

A. Tryptophan:  We require tryptophan in our body.  It is an amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin which help you sleep.  Tryptophan lengthens your sleep time and can also increase how alert you are after waking up.

B. Valerian Root: Best results are when used in a combination with melatonin or hops.  Recommended dosage is 400-500mg right before bed.

C. Melatonin: This is a hormone normally secreted by your pineal gland.  This will help you fall asleep.  Be careful though because nightmares may occur and you may be drowsy during the day.  Dosage range from 1 to 10mg.

D. Hops: This can improve sleep and helps in getting you to fall asleep.

E. Black Cohosh: This minimizes sleep interruptions and can decrease mood swings and your irritation levels.

F. Passion Flower: This helps to clear anxiety and relax the body.

G. Passion Flower: Takes care of anxiety and relaxes.

H. Ashwagandha: Blocks stress in the body and helps you relax.

I. Chamomile flower and leaf:  Decreases anxiety and can act like a sedative.

J. Skullcap: Helps with calmness and adaptability to stress.  It can also act like a sedative for pain and discomfort.

Getting outside and mediating can greatly help as well.  It helps reset your biological clock.  Having a sleep schedule works too.  If you go to bed at the same time each night, your body will get used to it and you will start to fall asleep easier.  Sleep is important, don’t take it for granted and try and decrease your caffeine intake.

63% of the US Population Seeks Out Alternative Medicine but Doesn’t Tell Their MDs

According to Natural News, the majority of the United States from 50 and up do not mention that they are using alternative medicines with their MDs.  The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine along with the AARP did a survey and found that most americans keep quiet about alternative and natural medicines that they are partaking in.

Many health experts state that letting your MD know about other methods is necessary to prevent any conflicts between anyone that may be using Alternative medicine along with over the counter and prescription drugs.

In a survey of 1,559 people age 50 and older, 63% have sought out alternative care.

Among that 63%, 69% did not discuss their use of with their MD. The most popular alternative methods are massage therapy or chiropractic manipulation, and herbal or dietary supplements. Other types used included hypnosis, acupuncture and naturopathy.

The most common reason responders said talking about seeing an alternative provider never happens with their MD is simply because doctors never ask. Other reasons include about 30% may not know they should tell their MD.  17% believed their MD would not understand the subject and 12% stated that they thought the MD would discourage the use of the alternative practitioner.

“The fact is, most American adults use some form of alternative medicine. Reasons are because it’s safer, less expensive and more effective than the normal MD “drugs-and-surgery approach,” said consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of numerous books on natural health. “One reason patients don’t discuss these therapies with their  MDs is, frankly, that many doctors are egotistical, closed to new ideas and even downright hostile when they learn that patients are educating themselves about health, nutrition and disease prevention. Doctors are being taken out of the loop because more and more people are seeing them as irrelevant to their health.”

Now as doctors we take an oath stating that we put our patient first and “do no harm.”  It is hard for me to figure out why MDs discourage patients from getting safe, natural care.  It may be because they are not well versed in what we do or that over the years older medical providers have said disparaging remarks.  In any case, patient should be offered every angle to get themselves well.

Chiropractic has a very high success rate, but in those cases where I can not help, I send them to someone who can.  Isn’t this what we are supposed to do as healthcare providers?  Hopefully everyone will start to recognize that every vocation has a place and learn how to use them.

References: http://www.naturalnews.com/021593_alternative_medicine_complementary.html

20 Herbs That Can Help With Cancer

As I am getting older, I am hearing about a lot of diseases that my friends and family have and cancer is mentioned a lot.  So, in doing some research I have found the following information that may help. Here are some herbs that can help boost immunity, help with chemotherapy and just make your treatment work that much better.

1. Astragalus (Huang Qi): This is an Eastern Medicine Herb that boosts the immune system.  It stimulates interferon that is produced in the body.  It also helps the immune system identify defective cells.  The Anderson Cancer Centre conducted a research study that showed taking Astragalus during Radiotherapy doubled survival times.

2. Berberis Family (Podophyllum peltanum): Research has shown that it can be strong against Ovarian Cancer.

3. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis): This has been shown to be effective against tumors (shrinking them).  Shown to be very effective with Sarcomas

4. Butchers Broom (Ruscus Aculeatus):  Tumor shrinking abilities and anti-oestrogenic (female hormone) abilities.  This is used for the treatment of breast cancer.

5. Cat’s Claw (Uncaria Tormentosa): A powerful immuno-stimulant.  It enhances phagocytosis which is when the white cell try and get rid of infections in the body.  Great when used with Astragalus, cur cumin and echinacea.  Research has shown that it can decrease tumor size, especially skin cancers.  It can also be helpful with side effects of chemo and radiotherapy.

6. Chaparral (Larrea mexicans): Boosts the immune system and can stop metastasis and reduce tumor size especially with breast cancer.   It is also an anti-oxidant and anti-microbial.

7. Curcumin (Turmeric): Has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects. Polyps and colon cancer can be shrunk and the blood supply which helps tumors grow can be decreased greatly with this herb.

8. Dang Shen Root (Codonopsis pilosula): This herb increases both white blood cell and red blood cell levels so it can be helpful with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

9. Echinacea: Enhances the immune System and is great for fighting off colds.  It has also been shown to help with brain tumors.

10. Feverfew:  More effective than the drug cytarabine in killing leukaemia cells.

11. Goldenseal: One cause of stomach cancer can be the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. This burrows into the mucous lining of the stomach to hide from gastric acids, and then causes irritation, acid reflux, ulcers and even cancer. Goldenseal paired with the mineral Bismuth, will kill Helicobacter pylori.

12. Milk Thistle: Known to be helpful to cleanse the liver but it is also helpful for protecting the liver during chemotherapy.

13. Pau D’ Arco: This is tree bark and an anti-cancer herb.  Strong anti-bacterial, anti-yeast and anti-microbal.  Immune strengthening abilities and seem to help in cases of blood and lymph cancers.

14. Red Clover: Helpful during Breast and prostate cancer treatment.  Active ingredient is Genistein which was called “the anti-Oestrogen” herb by Professor Powles of the Royal Marsden.

15. Sheep’s Sorrell: Used in Essiac (tea and supplement available in Canada) and other herbal remedies.  It is a cleanser and helps with tissue regeneration.  Some research has showed that it may normalize damage cells and tissue.  It can also be used for intestinal worms since it has been shown that they have no resistance to this herb.

16. Skull Cap (Scutellaria Barbata): Acts against many cancer types and especially lung, stomach and intestine cancer.

17.  Sutherlandia (Cancer Bush): This herb is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-fungal.  It does give a boost to the immune system and helps prevent necrosis or wasting of patients with cancer.

18. Thorowax/hares ear (bulpleurum scorzoneaefolium): Acts as a natural interferon and has been shown very useful with bone cancer.

19. Wheatgrass: On shot of wheatgrass can give 12 or more broccoli kilograms of chlorophyll.  It is a blood purifier and a liver and kidney cleanse.  After 2 weeks of daily use, blood and tissue oxygen increases as well as circulation.

20. Wormwood: Anti-malaria and anti-microbial/anti-yeast and is great with an anti-candida diet. Note: These are herbs and do have side effects and do sometimes conflict with pharmaceuticals.  Even so, the use herbs as a part of your integrative cancer-fighting program can be extremely helpful. They just might make a serious difference to your health. But please make sure you go to an expert medical herbalist for clear and informed advice.

Hip Pain, Do I Need a Hip Replacement?

Our hips are complex.  We have nerves, muscles, cartilage, tendons and ligaments all working in unison to help us move about, give us support, balance and stability. There are many people who have issues with their hips and have tried chiropractic before deciding to get a hip replacement and have found great improvement and have avoided surgery.

Chiropractic can be helpful in the treatment of acute and chronic joint conditions, as well as hip injuries.  After all, a hip is a joint!  We are experts regarding strains or sprains and overuse injuries, such as tendinitis and bursitis and postural issues. Some of the things we can significantly help with our care are:

* Discomfort       * inflammation         *Restoring and maintaining flexibility        *Increasing range of motion      *Strength, balance and stability in the joints and muscles

*alignment and function                    *reducing the risk of hip replacement and other joint surgeries

Our methods include but are not limited to: Adjustments to the spine and hip, soft tissue work, stretches, exercises, ergonomic and nutritional counseling.

Why Avoid Hip Replacement?

While hip replacement may seem like a quick and efficient solution to chronic hip problems or even getting a Cortizol shot seems quick and easy.   Both are more involved than many people may realize. After all, injecting yourself with a steroid is dangerous and is not recommended even by medical professionals to be done more than every 3 months.  Major surgery, and a full recovery from a joint replacement can take a year or longer, depending upon your health and fitness level.  Replacements have become very common and there are risks.

First, hip implants have a lifespan that ranges from 10 to 20 years. That means you will need another surgery to replace that artificial hip once it has reached the end of its lifespan.  If you are 40, that will mean probably 4 more procedures to keep you moving.  Also, failure of the joint can happen leading to another replacement much earlier than anticipated.

Revision procedures have become more common now because of the invention of metal hip replacements.  This was an attempt to make them last longer but some of these devices were poorly contrived leading to recalls and numerous complications.

Among the problems associated with these devices was “metallosis”.  This is a serious inflammatory condition that happens when there is shedding from the joint that is floating and causing friction leading to inflammation.  This can lead to severe pain, tissue damage and death, bone loss and failure of the implant to work properly.

It may be a good idea to think about natural solutions or non-invasive means before getting cut open and having a procedure done.  Remember, the surgeons are ready to do the replacement at any time, just make sure you have exhausted everything before doing so. There are usually several different things that you haven’t tried that will work.  Chiropractic has a great track record with joint work so give us a try first.  You may be surprised about the results!

Can Chiropractic help with Colds and Flus?

Well, lets take a look at how the body works.  Your body’s immune system has a defense mechanism that is designed to fight bacterial and viral infections and anything else that may make you sick. Our immune system is very strong but there are times it struggles when overwhelmed with stressors.

Medical interventions, especially antibiotics that were originally meant to save lives, are now often over prescribed and intervenes before the body has a chance to kick in its defense.  Because of this, microbes have now in some cases become resistant to antibiotics.   Remember, we are constantly receiving germs and it really is the body’s inability to fight germs that causes sickness.  This is why two people can be in the same germ infested room, identically touch and be around the same things, and only one of them gets sick. The difference is one person’s body has a strong immune system and the other does not.  So the approach shouldn’t be to develop stronger medications or vaccinations, it should be to strengthen the body’s immune system to fight off infections and diseases.  This can be done several ways, including eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water etc. But also through chiropractic adjustments that keep your nervous system functioning properly, and ironically, the same one that controls your immune system.

Research has shown that chiropractic adjustments can help boost the immune system by relieving stress on the nervous system which controls all systems of your body.

In a study done in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics it stated that after a chiropractic adjustment the body’s white blood cell count increases 48% within the following 24 to 48 hours. White blood cells are a part of the body’s immune system that helps fight against bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can cause disease in our bodies.

Another example is the chief of cancer prevention at New York’s Preventative Medicine Institute who found that people who received regular chiropractic care over a five-year period had a 200% greater immune competence than those who had not received chiropractic care. The chiropractic group showed a 400% greater immune competence than people with cancer and other serious diseases.

Chiropractic care for maintaining a strong immune system should be routine for everyone. Typically, we urge patients to get out of pain and then get on a maintenance program.  Most do not and struggle with frequent relapses and illnesses.  Remember, adjustments take stress out of the body and help your body regulate at an optimal level.  Who wouldn’t want that?

If you would like to live a healthier life, give us a call at our Redwood City Chiropractic Office, we can help!

Watching TV Can Be Hazardous To Your Health!

 

A study by researchers in Australia found that watching television may be hazardous to your health.

The report, published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, says that every hour of television, after the age of 25, shortens the viewer’s life expectancy by 22 minutes. Adults who watch six hours a day may be cutting almost five years off their lives.

If the data are confirmed and show “a causal association, TV viewing is a public health problem comparable in size to established behavioral risk factors,” the researchers wrote.

The big problem with television watching, the researchers say, is its sedentary nature. People do not tend to watch television while working out. They do it from the sofa and often times are eating when doing so.

The data were adjusted to reflect differences in the subjects’ age, waist circumference, alcohol intake and other factors.

Is there a difference with different programming? Is reality television more or less lethal than the news, for example? If I spend my time watching “Jersey Shore,” am I more likely to die of cancer or some other disease?

Some television Incites violence but so do other types of entertainment.  Example: Two British men were sentenced to four years in prison each after being found guilty of inciting violence via Facebook.  Facebook live has shown people killing and taping individuals overdose on Heroin without calling 911.

“We may wonder why Western leaders, on the one hand, tend to indiscriminately accuse other nations of monitoring, but on the other take for granted their steps to monitor and control the Internet,” Xinhua said. “For the benefit of the general public, proper Web monitoring is legitimate and necessary.”

We are guessing the British measures will stop short of the approach in China, where a Google search for, say, “Tiananmen Square protests” is likely to result in a so-called 404 error. Still, the sentences handed down to the would-be Facebook rioters suggest that a considered response is not the order of the day.

Reading a book, engaging in an activity is better for your health and gives you more of a sense of accomplishment.  Don’t waste your brain cells watching mindless television for hours on end.

References: In an article entitled: Hazards Lurk Between TV and Sofa by Eric Pfanner: Published in New York Times: August 21, 2011

What natural remedy works great for Cold Sores?

Ever have a canker sore? Here are a few natural ways to reduce pain and help heal your canker sore without synthetic medication or surgery:

  • Tannin
    Tannin is found in Black tea
  • Mouth wash
    Mix together 2 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, 2 teaspoonfuls of salt and 1 teaspoonful of baking soda and swirl it around your mouth for about 1 minute. Spit it out. Don’t swallow.
  • Aloe Vera
    Aloe Vera juice a few times a day will help make the sore less painful
  • Onion
    Apply a raw onion to the canker sore
  • Papaya
    Suck on some papaya
  • Plum Juice
    2 table spoons of plum juice and soak a cotton ball in the fluid. Compress it over your sore for a few minutes
  • Soda
    A cupful of warm soda and a pinch of salt
  • Grapefruit Seed
    Extract of grapefruit seed is a disinfectant and after a few applications, it should be gone!

Cold Sore diet suggestions

Here is advice for a Cold Sore Diet:

Avoid: Acidic and salty foods. Chocolates, peanuts, grains, peas, seeds, oatmeal and whole-wheat are high in arginine, These are restricted. Avoid tea and coffee.

Do Eat: A vitamin enriched diet. Your diet must include vitamin A, C, E, Zinc, and iron.  Garlic is highly recommended in your diet. Eat fresh food with high antioxidants  and high complex carbohydrates. Avoid processed food. Eat lots of fruits and green leafy vegetables.

This and other helpful information is all part our treatment plans.  We help with more than just pain, we help the whole body function optimally and help you do the things in life that you want to do.  Call our Redwood City Chiropractic office today! (650) 353-1133

What are the benefits of eating Beets?

This is a great article from Natural News regarding new information to help your liver by eating more beets: Why are beets so good for your liver?

The liver is an organ that removes toxins and other harmful substances from the body, allowing the body to function without experiencing the many illnesses and other harmful side effects that these toxins can cause. For this reason, it is crucial that individuals periodically detoxify their livers. One of the most common and effective natural liver detoxifiers is the beet. Beets have been used to fight liver toxins and to increase the overall level of health of individuals for many years, and they can be easily integrated into one`s diet to keep the liver working at an optimal level.

Beets are beneficial to one’s health for many reasons, as they are a high-antioxidant vegetable that contains a number of important substances, including: betaine, betalains, fiber, iron, betacyanin, folate, and betanin. Pectin, which is a fiber found in beets, can also help clean the toxins that have been removed from the liver, allowing them to be flushed out of the system instead of reabsorbed by the body.  Because of this property, many medical professionals encourage individuals to eat beets raw without juicing them, so that these fibers can be ingested as completely as possible. This is not difficult, as they can be baked, grated, or roasted as well as eaten alone or incorporated into other dishes.

However, beet juice can be highly beneficial, as it allows the betaine to stay intact. Betaine is the substance that encourages the liver cells to get rid of toxins. Additionally, betaine acts to defend the liver and bile ducts, which are important if the liver is to function properly. This particular substance is also said by some to decrease the risk of coronary and cerebral artery diseases, as it lowers inflammation in the body, allowing the many systems to work without interruption.

Additionally, beets have been linked to the healing of the liver, a decrease in homocysteine, an improvement in stomach acid production, prevention of the formation of free-radicals in LDL, and the prevention of lung, liver, skin, spleen, and colon cancer. Though these health benefits are not directly linked to the detoxification of the liver, they allow the body as a whole to work more efficiently. Because the systems of the body are all intertwined and rely upon one another to work properly, this indirectly affects the ability of the liver to rid itself of toxins and continue to work at an optimal level.

The recommended serving of beets varies depending upon the source, so the best way to go about integrating them into a diet is to start the day with beet juice instead of coffee, to add grated beets to salads and other dishes where appropriate, and to include a baked or roasted beet as a side dish with dinner as often as possible.

People who are looking for a natural way to improve the health of their liver and to enhance their overall vigor will quickly find that incorporating beets into their diet will allow them to function at a more efficient level. Because beets contain so many important substances, they will cause a marked improvement in both liver health and overall wellbeing.

Sources

http://www.thatsfit.ca/2010/05/02/l…

http://vegpeace.org/beets.html

http://altmedangel.com/liver.htm

http://www.naturalnews.com/033025_beets_liver_function.html

The pros and cons to C-Section

In the United States, C-section is almost becoming an epidemic.  In “the old days”, you local doctor would be on call and when the baby was arriving, he/she would meet you at the hospital or home.  Now, C-sections are scheduled for the convenience of the medical doctor or for other reasons.  Read below!

In her living room, Caroline Nagy introduces the newest member of her family — the 6-week-old infant in a striped onesie cradled in her arms. “This is Alex Joseph. He was born May 24th — my birthday,” she says.

Their shared birthday wasn’t entirely a coincidence. Two weeks before her due date, Nagy was swollen, and uncomfortable. So she asked her doctor for relief.

“I was just miserable. It was like uncomfortable to walk; I couldn’t sit on the floor and play; I felt like I was neglecting my first kid because I just couldn’t move and I couldn’t do anything,” says Nagy. “So I asked, ‘Is there any way I can speed this up and have a baby earlier?’ ”

For Jackie McGinty, it wasn’t discomfort but timing that caused her to schedule her daughter’s birth by C-section eight years ago. McGinty’s first child was delivered by C-section for medical reasons, and although this time around she had hoped to deliver naturally, she had just moved out of state and wanted her family nearby to help with the baby.

“My mom was coming out and she was only going to come out for a few weeks. I needed her to be there after the birth. … So having the option to schedule it was good for us,” says McGinty.

Harm In Planning Too Far Ahead?

Stories like these are common. Statistics show that from 1990 to 2006 the percentage of women who induced labor more than doubled, and nearly a third of women were having cesareans.

The increase wasn’t because of emergencies, says Jay Iams, a specialist in maternal fetal medicine at Ohio State University, but rather because women and doctors began scheduling deliveries for convenience — “convenience for the mother, for the family, for the physician,” says Iams. Sometimes, Iams says, it’s because patients say to themselves, ” ‘I want only my doctor to be there. I don’t want the person who’s on call.’ ”

Having a baby naturally requires lots of planning. But when it comes to the arrival date of your bundle of joy, experts now say that planning too far ahead can do more harm than good.

A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, but elective deliveries are often planned for two or three weeks earlier. And even though 37 weeks is also still considered full term, studies show that babies born even a few weeks too early are at greater risk for health problems than those who are born later. That has some doctors campaigning to curb the trend of scheduled labor and delivery.

Pediatrician Ed Donovan of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital says data collected over the past several decades show those babies have an increased risk of complications compared with waiting until the mother goes into labor spontaneously.

“It’s now really well-documented in national studies that the risk of the baby having to require intensive care in a neonatal intensive care unit — even the risk of infant death — is increased when the baby is born as little as two weeks before the due date,” says Donovan.

Organ Systems Maturing At Different Rates

The reasons for this are two-fold. First, without an ultrasound measurement in the first trimester, a woman’s due date could be as much as two weeks off, making the fetus 35 weeks instead of 37. And second, Donovan says the brain, heart, lungs, and immune system all mature at different rates — and some may need a little more time than others.

“Just because the lungs are mature doesn’t mean that the other organ systems are mature,” says Donovan. “A baby born three weeks early with mature lungs may not be ready to eat because the brain’s not fully developed.”

According to Donovan, doctors realized they simply weren’t very good at determining which babies were ready and which weren’t. And Iams says the large numbers of sick babies made many doctors begin to think differently about early deliveries.

braincard_custom.jpg

Courtesy of March of Dimes

A baby’s brain still has a lot of growing to do between 35 and 39 weeks in the womb.

“Thirty-seven weeks is term, but they became the most common occupants of neonatal intensive care nurseries,” says Iams. “And the pediatricians naturally said, ‘They could have waited.’ ”

Still, many women and even many obstetricians remained unaware of the risks because it didn’t fit with their experience.

“People see their friends having babies early, and sometimes women go into labor on their own at 37, 38 weeks — and that’s not unusual and those babies are fine,” says Jennifer Bailit, an obstetrician at Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland. “But those are babies that have told us that they’re coming and that they’re ready.”

Convincing Mothers It’s Worth The Wait

Bailit is part of an effort led by Iams and Donovan to reduce the number of scheduled deliveries before 39 weeks across the state of Ohio. Bailit says that she often has to explain to women the importance of those last few weeks — and that the discomfort is normal but something that needs to be endured for the sake of the baby.

“It’s tough to be pregnant, and sometimes when you’re in the moment it’s hard to keep the big picture in mind,” Bailit says. “When we guide people toward that kind of thinking it really helps them say, ‘I’m doing this for my baby; it’s worth it.’ ”

In addition to helping doctors like Bailit educate pregnant women, Iams and Donavan asked doctors at the 20 largest hospitals in the state to document a medical reason every time a woman was scheduled to deliver before 39 weeks. And much to their surprise, Iams says in under 15 months the rates of those deliveries dropped from 15 percent to under 5 percent. And more important, the number of babies admitted to neonatal intensive care also decreased.

And the idea is catching on across the country. The March of Dimes has taken what began in Ohio and a few other select states and extended it nationwide in a campaign it’s calling “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait.” Alan Fleischman of the March of Dimes says the rate of elective births in the hospitals the organization has surveyed is about 30 percent.

“Most hospital leaders don’t believe they have this problem until they actually measure it,” says Fleischman. “And when they do, they’re surprised.”

As in Ohio, their preliminary data show that in only a short period of time, even hospitals with very high rates of scheduled deliveries are able to reduce them to about 5 percent or less by making a few simple changes — and in turn, increase the likelihood of a healthy baby.

Although inductions at 39 weeks and beyond are considered safe, some doctors feel that unless there is a medical reason to deliver early, the best labor plan for women is an old-fashioned one: Hang in there and wait until labor starts on its own.

References: Gretchen Cuda Kroen, National Public Radio