Don't Wait For Your Doctor To Say "Stop!" – and other news

by DavalosMcCormack on September 10, 2008

Everyone knows smoking is bad for them, and if they don’t then they really are not paying attention. Pregnant women above all should know that smoking is not only bad for them, it’s also really bad for their developing baby. So you might think that every pregnant woman’s doctor would advise her to stop. You might think that. But you’d be wrong.

That’s the finding from a new study in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers found that almost half of women in New Jersey who smoked kicked the habit before getting pregnant. But of those who kept on smoking, only 57 percent said their physician counseled them to quit, which means 43 percent of women didn’t get any advice or encouragement to stop smoking from their doctor.

That’s appalling. Smoking during pregnancy puts the woman at risk of having a premature baby or a low-birth weight child. It can lead to problems with the placenta that threaten both the baby and the mother’s life. It can also increase the risk of stillbirth or miscarriage.

In fact, the U.S. Public Health Service estimates that if every woman who smokes quit when she was pregnant there would be a 10 percent reduction in infant deaths in this country.

So the lesson is if you are doing something you know is putting your health at risk, don’t wait for a doctor to tell you to stop. They may never get around to it. You have to take responsibility for your own health and do whatever is necessary without waiting for a note from your doctor.

Eat Your Greens, and Reds, and Oranges

And once those babies are born healthy and strong you’ll obviously want to keep them that way. A new study about kids’ consumption of fruits and vegetables has some encouraging news about how you can do that.

The study, from researchers at the University of Maryland, found that a school-based intervention program can help encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables.

They looked at three different kinds of school-based intervention which involved variations of teachers using a tested curriculum in the classroom, and parental involvement. All three methods produced similar results.

Before the program 93 percent of the kids were not eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. After the intervention 60 percent of students increased their taste for fruits and veg, and 50 percent either maintained their higher-than-average intake or increased their intake.

It’s all a matter of making sure kids are exposed to a variety of produce so they can find something they like. It’s also a matter of getting the school, and the family involved so that this is not just a lesson in the classroom, but a way of life outside of school as well. And hopefully it’s a lesson the kids are bringing home with them. This is one homework assignment the parents can sink their teeth into and enjoy.

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