Our views on the news


At Tommy's we're often called upon to comment on pregnancy-related issues in the media, such as premature births, pre-eclampsia or stillbirths. With our research background and close connections to a range of health professionals, we are uniquely placed to provide objective, credible information to the media. Below are some of the more recent pregnancy-related topics covered in the press, along with our opinions and comments.
 
 

New NICE guidelines published on care after a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy

 
Women should be able to expect a more sensitive and continuous service when they experience a miscarriage, including round-the-clock availability of care.
 
 
 
Date: 12 December 2012.
 
What we say...

Jacqui Clinton, Health Campaigns Director for baby charity Tommy’s, says:
 
“Losing a baby at any stage in your pregnancy is extremely distressing, and we hear too often - through the phone calls our own support midwives receive - of the silent heartbreak that women endure when they have a miscarriage or suffer an ectopic pregnancy.  No matter how early on your experience, the loss of a baby can feel like a bereavement. We therefore welcome these guidelines, and any initiatives, to provide the best possible care and support for women and their babies.”
 

More babies survive premature birth, but serious health problems unchanged

 
Research published on bmj.com today suggests that although more babies survived shortly after extreme preterm birth in England in 2006 compared with 1995, the number with major conditions on leaving hospital remained largely unchanged.
 
 
Date: 5 December 2012.
 
What we say...

Jane Brewin, Chief Executive of Tommy’s, says:
 
“Although it is good to see that survival rates of babies born at 22-25 weeks are increasing, this study highlights that we still face the huge challenge of reducing the long term health problems that these extremely premature babies face – and so to really tackle this, we now need to focus on finding out why preterm birth happens. That’s why Tommy’s goal is to develop effective screening tests and treatments so we can prevent premature birth from happening in the first place.”
 

Pregnant women should not 'eat for two'

 
New research has found that eating too much and gaining too much weight during pregnancy can put women at greater risk of suffering complications.
 
 
Date: 18 May 2012.
 
What we say...

Jane Brewin, Chief Executive at Tommy's, says:

“As part of our work to educate women on the best lifestyle choices during pregnancy, we welcome this study and believe that there is growing evidence to re-evaluate current guidelines for weight management during pregnancy. For women who start pregnancy overweight, we must encourage and support them to adopt healthier eating habits while pregnant – it’s never too late to do so, and will help ensure they have the best pregnancy outcome possible.”
 

Amanda Holden falls ill after giving birth to new baby, Hollie Rose

After giving birth to a healthy baby girl with an emergency caesarean section, Amanda subsequently became critically ill for three days. She is now on the mend and recovering in hospital.

Date: 26 January 2012.
 
Read the story here
 
What we say...

Annette Briley, Consultant, Midwife and Clinical Trials Manager for Tommy's says:

“Pregnancy, labour and delivery can be complicated for many different reason and Amanda's experiences will resonate with many women for whom having a baby is not straightforward. It is really important that anyone who is concerned about their health, or that of their baby in pregnancy, does exactly as Amanda did and refers themselves to the doctors and midwives looking after them.Pregnancy can be a very worrying time for those that have complications: parents-to-be can always contact the Tommy's information line which is manned by midwives who are very happy to help with queries regarding pregnancy health and pregnancy complications.”To speak to a midwife contact Tommy's freephone PregnancyLine on 0800 0147 800 [Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm] or visit www.tommys.org
 

Are bottle-fed babies more 'content' than their breast-fed counterparts?

Research from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge claims that breast-fed babies are harder to handle than bottle-fed babies - they cry more, laugh less and have more challenging temperments.

Date: 11 January 2012.
 
Read the story here
What we say...
Annette Briley, Research Midwife for baby charity Tommy's, says:
"Breast milk remains the ideal food for babies, and especially in the early stages babies can appear less settled and more demanding than their bottle-fed counterparts. The advantages of breastfeeding are well documented in terms of both short and long term health consequences for mother and child, but no one should expect it to be "easy", especially in the initial stages.
"If this research helps women realise that they may face difficulties, and that babies do get upset and frustrated at times – they could be teething, or just feeling under the weather - and that this is normal then maybe more women will be better prepared for the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding! It may also help those around the new mum and baby to realise she will need their help and support to persevere. All babies have times when they are tetchy and difficult regardless of the way they are fed,"
 

Premature birth affects children's behaviour

Babies born moderately premature (between 32 and 35 weeks) are more likely than their full-term peers to have behavioural and/or emotional problems when assessed at the age of 4.

Date: 6 December 2011.
 
 
What we say...
Professor Andrew Shennan, Consultant Obstetrician for baby charity Tommy's, says:
"It is increasingly appreciated that babies born even a few weeks early can have long term behavioural issues, even in to adulthood, so this data confirms previous findings. Most preterm related problems actually come from these later preterm births, as although less serious, they are far more common than very early births. Therefore the moderately preterm group remains very important and research needs to consider identifying and treating women even after 32 weeks gestation."
 

Levels of caffeine shown to vary hugely between coffee shops. How does this affect pregnant women?

Researchers at Glasgow University have shown that the levels of caffeine can vary hugely between coffee shops - with one shop's beverages containing six times more caffeine than an others.

During pregnancy, women are recommended to not exceed 200mg of caffeine daily - as much as you'd get from 2 standard cups of coffee.
 
Date: 1 December 2011.
 
 
 
 
What we say...
Jo Birtwhistle, PregnancyLine midwife for Tommy's, says:
"Like the FSA, we recommend pregnant women drink no more than 200mg a day, which is equivalent to about two mugs of instant coffee or two mugs of tea. If anyone is worried that they are drinking or have been consuming too much, then try not to be alarmed, as long as you can reduce your intake to the recommended daily allowance or cut it out altogether then this will be beneficial to your pregnancy. If you enjoy a cup of coffee, try and drink decaffeinated coffee or drinks as a substitute. It is also good to be aware that caffeine is found in chocolate, energy drinks and cola, so it is important to include all the caffeine that you are consuming so that it does not exceed the daily recommended allowance. If you are unsure or need more advice about caffeine intake in pregnancy then contact your midwife or GP for further support and information."

Misdiagnosis of miscarriage

 
A series of papers in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggest that current guidelines for diagnosing a miscarriage are not infallible, and encourage a repeat scan, 10 days after the first, to double-check the diagnosis.
 
Date: 14 October 2011
 
What we say...

Jane Norman, Director of the Tommy's centre for maternal and fetal health in Edinburgh, says:
"These papers by Bourne and colleagues provide very helpful information on the ultrasound measurements that should be used to diagnose miscarriage. The information has been obtained from scans of over 1000 women presenting to early pregnancy units.
"In women in early pregnancy, it can often be difficult to confidently distinguish a very early ongoing pregnancy from a miscarriage. Most UK units will adhere to guidelines from the Royal College of Obstetricians (RCOG) on the management of early pregnancy loss in order to make this diagnosis (www.rcog.org.uk). These new data show that following the current RCOG guidelines will give the correct diagnosis in the vast majority of women.
"They also suggest however that, of the 183 women who were found to have an early ongoing pregnancy, one would have been wrongly classified as having a miscarriage according to the current guidelines. These data now provide some robust evidence on which to draw up new guidelines for diagnosis in this very important clinical condition."

Mumsnet launch Miscarriage Care Campaign
Date: 10th October 2011
Today, the influential website mumsnet.com launch their Miscarriage Care Campaign, which addresses care post-miscarriage on 5 fronts:
1. Supportive staff
2. Access to scanning

3. Safe and appropriate places for treatment

4. Good information and effective treatment

5. Joined-up care
 
What we say...

Jane Brewin, Tommy's CEO says:
"Once again Mumsnet have highlighted the distress felt by so many mums when they suffer a miscarriage; sadly 1 in 4 mums will miscarry at some point during pregnancy and Tommy's thinks this is unacceptably high.
"More research is needed to understand what goes wrong and to treat those affected and very high standards of care delivered by many health professionals needs to be consistently applied across the UK".

Ibuprofen link to increased risk of miscarriage
Date: 7th September 2011
Taking ibuprofen in pregnancy shown to 'double risk' of miscarriage.
 
 
What we say...

Professor Andrew Shennan, consultant obstetrician for Tommy's, said:
"We've known for a while that ibuprofen is not a drug which is recommended in pregnancy, as it can affect pregnancy-related processes, but this is the first time we've seen robust evidence to suggest that it more than doubles the risk of early miscarriage"
"If women need to take a form of ibuprofen during pregnancy, they should discuss with their doctor first. And if pregnant women have taken it in the past it's important not to panic as there may be other factors in this trial which may have led these women to miscarry."

Technique developed which reveals pregnancies most likely to end in miscarriage
Date: 6th July 2011
Threatened miscarriages occur in 20% of all pregnancies, with 20% of these going on to miscarry. A combination of 6 factors (including levels of progesterone, and amount of bleeding) were used to predict the outcome in 94% of women whose pregnancies continuted, and in 77% women who miscarried.
 
 
What we say...

Professor Andrew Shennan, consultant obstetrician for Tommy's, said:
"Losing a baby at any stage is very distressing and we welcome any additional research which hopes to give women an accurate prognosis for the future, or hope of giving birth to a healthy baby.
"In the UK, at least 1 in 4 women who get pregnant will experience a miscarriage, so any steps towards an accurate prediction is very welcome.
"This research is valuable in terms of predicting whom might be at risk, but much more research is still needed to actually establish interventions and prevent miscarriages from happening in the first place".

Sleeping position linked to stillbirth rate
Date: 15 June 2011
Women who sleep on their left side the night before giving birth had a lower rate of stillbirth.
Researchers found that the risk of stillbirth among women who slept on their left was 1.96 per 1,000 births, and that among women who slept on their right sides or their back was 3.93 per 1,000 births.
For a more in-depth discussion of the information, click here.
 
 
What we say...

Dr. Alexander Haezell, clinical lecturer in obstetrics at the University of Manchester and part of Tommy's research team said:

"In the UK, stillbirth affects in 1 in 200 births, over 4,000 per year. Despite its frequency, up to 20% of stillbirths are unexplained. More research is needed to understand stillbirth in order that the rate can be reduced.
"Studies that link lifestyle factors with stillbirth are interesting. This study suggests that mothers sleeping on their left are less likely to have a stillbirth than those sleeping on their backs or on their right hand side.
"This study does have some drawbacks, it asked women up to 25 days after their stillbirth or live birth about their sleeping position, raising the possibility of recall bias. It did not look at the causes of stillbirths. As a result, it is far too early to say whether we should encourage mothers to sleep on their left and more in depth studies are needed to confirm this study’s findings and to understand why sleeping on the left might reduce stillbirths."
 

Dietary supplements may help prevent pre-eclampsia
Date: 20 May 2011
Taking the amino acid, L-arginine and antioxidant vitamins together may help ward off pre-eclampsia
30% women in the placebo group developedp pre-eclampsia, compared with just 13% in the group where both supplements were taken.
 
 
What we say...

Andrew Shennan, consultant Obstetrician for Tommy's, said:

"There are established scientific reasons why L-arginine and antioxidents reduce the occurance of pre-eclampsia. Previous studies, testing each supplement individually have shown little effect, so it is exciting that in combination they seem to have such a profound effect on preventing pre-eclampsia.

However, it is unusual that so many people in the control group developed pre-eclampsia - 30% is an unusually high rate of incidence of the disease so I would be interested to see if the effects of the study could be replicated elsewhere."
 

Obese mums-to-be to be given anti-obesity drugs to prevent oversized babies
Date: 12 May 2011
In a trail monitoring over 400 women, Metaformin to be given to obese mums-to-be to prevent their babies growing too large and reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia.
Trial hopes to demonstrate reduced incidence of pre-eclampsia and decreased need for caesarean sections.
Tommy's part-funds this trial, as part of it's on-going work into alleviating the negative effects of obesity in pregnancy.
 

Kelly Brook loses her baby
Date: 09 May 2011
Kelly loses her baby daughter at around five months pregnant
Our thoughts and condolences are with her, Thom and their families.
 
 
What we say...

Annette Briley, Research Midwife for Tommy's, said:

"Losing a baby in pregnancy is incredibly sad, whenever it happens.

Approximately one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, with the majority happening in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Sadly, however, a loss at Kelly's stage is not uncommon - women can lose babies right up until their due-date.

There are many reasons this could happen, but for many people, we'll never find an explanation - which is why more reseach is needed. Women go through a range of emotions after losing a baby. It's a time when Kelly will need love and support from all those close to her."
 

Model developed which can be used to trial drugs to stop premature contractions of the uterus
Date: 04 May 2011
Model developed which demonstrates how the uterus reacts to various conditons.
This model can be used for future studies which investigate premature contractions of the uterus, and pre-term labour. This study was funded in part by Tommy's.
 

Formula reveals the likelihood of developing pre-eclampsia
Date: 30 April 2011
Researchers have developed a model which allows them to predict the liklihood of otherwise-healthy first-time mums developing pre-eclampsia.
This study was funded in part by Tommy's.
 
what we say...
 
Andrew Shennan, Consultant Obstetrician for Tommy's, says:

"Pre-eclampsia remains a major cause of illness and death for both mother and baby, and so this model is an exciting step towards predicting risk of the condition in healthy, first-time mums. However there are still many questions regarding its exact cause which we are working to answer."

Amanda Kershaw, PregnancyLine midwife for Tommy's, says:

"Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy-related disorder which may occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Signs of pre-eclampsia are usually high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Even if there is no protein in the urine, other symptoms which may indicate the condition are vomitting, headaches, blurred or altered vision, upper abdominal pain and swelling of the face, wrists or ankles. These symptoms should never be ignored - although each can have other causes - and anyone experiencing all of these should seek medical advice, either from their midwife or GP. As many as one in ten pregnancies are affected by pre-eclampsia, which can be very dangerous for mother and baby if left untreated."
 

One of the genes controling pre-eclampsia discovered
Date: 23 March 2011
Researchers have identified a mutation which increases the liklihood of developing pre-eclampsia.
 
what we say...
 
 
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology for Tommy's said:
"Any improved understanding of the mechanisms of pre-eclampsia is very welcome, as it is a disease that affects arround 10% of women, and can be very dangerous to mother and baby.

It is well-established that genetic factors contribute to the liklihood of developing pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. However, it is unclear specfically which genes are playing a part, as different genes relate to the different risk-factors for the condition.

In this study, one of the genes has been identified, however it is clearly not the only contributing factor, as most of the women who developed pre-eclampsia still did not have this genetic mutation."
 

NHS Consultant argues that babies born at 23 weeks should not be revived
Date: 09 March 2011
Doctor argues her point in BBC2 documentary '23 Week Babies: The Price of Life'
She suggests that reviving such a premature baby is prolonging their agony, and that the resources can be better used elsewhere.
 
what we say...
 
Jane Brewin, CEO of Tommy's, says:
"It's been reported that the NHS spends around £10 million each year on resuscitating babies born early at 23 weeks and keeping them alive on incubators and ventilators. Following research funded by Tommy’s, where we evaluated the economic cost of prematurity, we found that the total additional cost of prematurity each year is £1 billion. So £10 million is actually a fraction of the total cost implication, and most of this cost is associated with looking after those born moderately pre-term (between 30 and 36 weeks) because they form the biggest group out of all of those born prematurely. So if we are to tackle the costs of prematurity then we should be focussing attention on those born moderately pre-term. Tommy’s believes that we need to focus more attention on developing effective screening tests to find out who is most at risk so we can prevent premature birth from happening in the first place - much of our current research is devoted to creating an accurate screening test to identify women at risk, and we are focusing on strategies to prevent or delay early labour.

We need to very carefully consider the parents of those babies born prematurely - it is a clearly a devastating experience for parents. Currently, after advice from doctors, parents have the final say on what attempts should be made to care for their babies - should this right be removed, the psychological effect could be exceedingly damaging and many parents might feel compelled to take legal action to protect their child’s right to life. We therefore believe that parents should decide on what happens to their child with the advice and support of health professionals who are best placed to offer expert help and support."
 

Baby who died before birth now a healthy nine-month-old
Date: 03 March 2011
Ella Anderson died just before being born, but was brought back to life after 25 minutes.
Thanks to a 'pioneering' cooling treatment, Ella suffered no brain damage.
 
what we say...
 
Jane Brewin, CEO of Tommy's, says:
"It's wonderful to hear about techniques such as cooling treatment being used with such incredible success to prevent another family from joining the 4,000 who are affected by stillbirth each year in the UK.

At Tommy's, we also believe in the need for more research into preventing parents from being put in these terrifying situations in the first place."
 

New guidelines for clinicians released on managing reduced fetal movements
Date: 25 February 2011
New advice for clinicians on the management of women experiencing reduced fetal movement during pregnancy have been published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
 
A significant or sudden reduction of fetal movement is an important clinical sign. Reduced fetal movement usually doesn't indicate a problem with the pregnancy but can sometimes be an important warning sign that the fetus is not recieving enough oxygen from the placenta. If a woman is worried, she should contact her maternity unit.
 
what we say...
Jacqui Clinton, Health Campaigns Manager for Tommy's, says:

"More than 3,000 families’ lives are devastated every year in the UK by stillbirth. This new guidance is an important step in detecting those women who need specialist care and may urgently need their babies delivered to save their lives. Tommy’s is pleased to be funding a Stillbirth Research Programme in Manchester which will be building on these guidelines through improving screening of stillbirth and identifying babies most at risk. By improving this process we will also be able to provide reassurance to women who are less at risk of having a stillborn baby."
 

Pregnant women considered "high risk" for Swine Flu and Seasonal Flu
Date: 23 December 2010
Seasonal flu vaccine strongly recommended to women in all stages of pregnancy
High risk groups, including pregnant women, are encouraged to have the seasonal flu vaccine which protects agains H1N1 (swine flu) and two other flu strains. Pregnant women and their babies are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill, should they contract the virus.
If you've any concerns or queries, contact a PregnancyLine midwife on 0800 0147 800, or info@tommys.org
 
what we say...
 
Joanne Taylor, PregnancyLine midwife for Tommy's, says:
 
The dangers of influenza in its various forms (including swine flu) tend to be underestimated. Whilst it can be a mild illness, it can also be very serious, and it's especially risky for pregnant women and their babies, increasing their risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth, stillbirth and neonatal death.
The seasonal flu vaccination is the best way to ward agains H1N1 and also protects against two other flu strains. It's safe during all stages of pregnancy and may even help to protect your baby during the first few months of his or her life. We strongly recommend that all pregnant women get the vaccine from their GP, and if you do experience flu-like symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.
 

Singer Lily Allen loses baby
Date: 02 November 2010
Our thoughts are with Lily Allen and Sam Cooper, who have lost their baby at 6 months.
Lily was expecting her first child with Sam. The singer also experienced a miscarriage two years ago.
 
what we say...
 
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology for Tommy’s, commented:
"The death of a baby at any stage in pregnancy is extremely difficult.
Most people don't realise just how common pregnancy problems - such as miscarriage - are despite the fact that 1 in 4 pregnant women will miscarry. Regrettably it's not always possible to give an accurate answer as to why its happened, and it's clear that more research is needed to understand the causes of miscarriage to help more mums have healthy pregnancies."
 

Blood pressure breakthrough holds real hope for treatment of pre-eclampsia
Date: 07 Oct 2010
Scientists have discovered a mechanism which raises blood pressure in pre-eclampsia, a condition which affects up to 7% pregnancies and threatens the health and survival of both mother and baby.
The findings are likely to have significant implications for the treatment of pre-eclampsia.
 
what we say...
 
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology for Tommy’s, commented:
"This particular work is another step towards determining the mechanisms of pre-eclampsia, to help target the issue. However, there are still many questions regarding its exact cause, which we are working to answer."
 

New study finds 'light drinking' during pregnancy poses no risk
Date: 06 Oct 2010
Children born to mums who drank up to 1-2 drinks per week or on occasion were not at increased risk of clinically relevant behavioural or cognitive problems, compared with those born to mums who abstained.
When pregnant women drink alcohol, it passes through the placenta and reaches the baby. Heavy drinking is linked to an increased risk of problems including foetal alcohol syndrome.
 
what we say...

Jane Brewin, Tommy's CEO, commented:
"This study backs up what we already know - that drinking a lot of alcohol is harmful to the development of the baby and can lead to brain damage and behavioural problems."

“What we don't know for sure is how much alcohol you can drink before harm is caused to the baby. While it may be true that the odd small glass of wine probably won't cause much harm, with the confusion still surrounding alcohol units and measures, we maintain that the simplist message is "no alcohol means no risk". However, we absolutely support mums' right to decide how much alcohol they drink, and they should be given the evidence they need to make this decision."
 

Vulnerable pregnant women 'missing out'
Date: 22 Sept 2010
Tommy's responds to new NICE guidelines: Pregnancy and Complex Social Factors
New Nice guidelines, released today, reveals that many of the most vulnerable women, including those who are homeless, misuse drugs, are under 20 years old or don't speak English, are the least likely to use ante-natal services. Nice calls for the re-organisation of anti-natal services and for them to be more welcoming and flexible.
 
what we say...
Jane Brewin, Tommy's CEO, commented:
“Women with complex needs have a deplorably high risk of experiencing pregnancy problems.

“Any barrier that prevents a pregnant woman from getting the care that both she and her baby need, be it substance misuse, being a teenager, not speaking English, domestic abuse, homelessness or anything else, poses a preventable risk to both mum and baby. Making maternity services both accessible and able to meet the often complex needs of these women is vital in mitigating these circumstances and helping their babies be born healthy.”
 

High stress 'delays' pregnancy
Date: 12 Aug 2010
A study has shown that high stress levels may reduce a woman's chance of getting pregnant.
Increased alpha-amylase, a marker for the stress hormone adrenaline, was associated with a decreased likelihood of conception during the fertile days of the month. This study was the first to find that a biological measure of stress affects a woman's chance of conceiving.
 
what we say...
Joanne Taylor, Tommy's midwife said:
"Stress does affect people in different ways, and therefore may affect some women's chances of trying to conceive. There are a number of ways in which women can prepare themselves for a healthy pregnancy - maintaining a healthy diet, taking folic acid supplements and keeping stress levels to a minimum is a good start."
 

Obesity 'epidemic' in pregnant mums
Date: 28 July 2010
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has released guidelines: Weight management before, during and after pregnancy
Women should be encouraged to achieve a healthy weight before they become pregnant and advised that there is no need to 'eat for two' when pregnant.
 
what we say...
 
Jane Brewin, Tommy’s CEO, said:
"The number of pregnant women who are overweight and obese is rising at an alarming rate in the UK and we know that, during pregnancy, obesity increases the risks of health complications for the mother and poses long-term health risks for the baby. A set of guidelines to ensure all women receive optimal care and support is a step in the right direction, as mitigating the impact of obesity on mums and their babies is one of our most important health challenges."
 

Expectant mothers to be given smoking breath tests: Health watchdog tells midwives to challenge all pregnant women
Date: 24 June 2010
All pregnant women are to be put under pressure to take a breath test to check if they are telling the truth about smoking.
Midwives will be told to 'encourage' mothers-to-be to have the carbon monoxide tests at their very first antenatal appointment.
 
what we say...
Jane Brewin, Tommy’s CEO, said:
"The sooner women who are pregnant can give up smoking, the better. Every baby deserves the best start in life and those born to smokers tend be smaller and weaker than other infants. However, it’s important pregnant women feel supported if they make the decision to quit, and are aware of the stop smoking services available to them."
 

 
Gestational age at delivery has relationship with the risk of special educational needs
Date: 9 June 2010
New research shows that babies born at 37 weeks gestation are 1.16 times more likely to have special educational needs (for example autism, dyslexia, deafness, poor vision) than those born at 40 weeks, and even a baby born at 39 weeks has a slightly higher risk of having either a learning or a physical difficulty.
what we say...
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology for Tommy’s, commented:
"The relationship between early birth and later problems in life, such as special educational needs is well established. The earlier the birth, the greater the risk, but as later preterm births are far more common, they still provide a significant proportion of all individuals with problems. However the cause of early birth may contribute to the risk, eg a sick baby may need to be delivered early or die. We do not know if changing the date of delivery in elective cases would reduce risk, as there are other risks to the mother and baby in doing this. This highlights the need for more research into pregnancy complications such as prematurity."
 
 

Mums-to-be think mother knows best
Date: 14 May 2010

Some pregnant women place their mums' advice over that of medical professionals
Research shows that pregnant and post-natal women do not follow medical advice without question and are more likely to adopt practices their mothers and grandmothers carried out during their pregnancies.
what we say...
Jane Brewin, Tommy’s CEO, commented:
'It's about striking a balance: we think it is sensible to take some advice on board such as eating a healthy, balanced diet, taking regular exercise and abstaining from smoking and drinking alcohol. But it's also about enjoying being pregnant and the eager anticipation of having a new addition to the family - it's only natural to want to talk about the significant changes that happen to a woman's body and how she feels; mums and close friends often have first-hand experience and tips that are helpful. However, we always stress that if any mum-to-be is worried about anything during their pregnancy, they should seek medical advice without delay."
 

£20 steroid treatments allows woman to have healthy pregnancy after 18 miscarriages
 
Date: 19 February 2010

Miracle mother Angie Baker has baby after 18 miscarriages and £20 pills
Angie Baker has given birth to a healthy baby daughter after 13 years of miscarriage pain after pioneering treatment that cost just £20.

The 33-year-old, who has 18 miscarriages while trying to start a family, calls ten-week-old daughter Raiya her ‘little miracle’.

Ms Baker said: ‘I never gave up. I was desperate for a baby so I persevered. It seems like a dream and I still have to pinch myself. She’s perfect in every way.’
what we say...
Jane Brewin, Tommy’s CEO, commented:
"Most people don’t realise just how common pregnancy problems are and how much it devastates parents lives – it’s clear that more research is needed to understand how best to help mums-to-be who experience recurrent miscarriages, but this work gives us hope that we are making progress towards making pregnancy and childbirth safer for all."
 
 

Predicting and preventing premature births
Date: 19 June 2009

Survival rates for premature babies have improved over the past 30 years but predicting or preventing premature births remains difficult.
On Monday 22 June at 1100 BST BBC Radio 4 will air 'A moment too soon'. Andrew Shennan, Tommy's Professors of Obstetrics, and Jane Norman from Tommy's Centre for Reproductive Biology in Edinburgh are interviewed.
what we say...
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology for Tommy’s, commented:
'It's (preterm birth) a massive impact on the national health service, not only immediately as the little babies need intensive care, but also longer term because some of the babies will have disabilities that will need the health service in later life."

 

Research suggests music nurtures premature babies

Date: 27 May 2009

Hospitals that play music to premature babies help them grow and thrive, research suggests.
The team at the University of Alberta in Canada showed that benefits include calmer infants and parents as well as faster weight gain and shorter hospital stays.
The study appears in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
what we say...
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology for Tommy’s, commented:
'Pre-term births have recently increased over the past years and remain a huge problem in the UK, sometimes resulting in many long-term health problems for the child in later life, including cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, chronic lung disease, learning and behavioural difficulties.
'The preliminary evidence that music played to pre-term babies may have positive effects for behaviour and pain is very interesting and should be taken into consideration. Although more research is still needed in this area, the study shows that there may be simple and cost-effective ways to provide health benefits to pre-term births.'

 

Research links baby resuscitation to IQ

Date: 21 April 2009
Children resuscitated at birth are more likely to have a low IQ by the age of eight, even if they appear healthy as babies, research has suggested.
The study compared babies who were resuscitated at birth - some needing further care, but others not - with those who had a problem-free delivery.
It suggests even mild problems around delivery may be enough to cause subtle damage to the brain.
The study, by Bristol's Southmead Hospital, appears in the Lancet.
what we say...
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology for Tommy’s commented:
'Results of the study show that the rates of maternal infection were significantly higher in the groups with low IQ. These babies were also significantly smaller in size at birth. Infection is more common in early birth and therefore more research is needed to ascertain what level of association there is between premature birth and infection, and whether more can be done to reduce these risk factors in the first instance.'

 

Research suggests link between pollution and low birthweight babies

Date: 10 April 2009
Exposure to traffic pollution could affect the development of babies in the womb, US researchers have warned.
They found the higher a mother's level of exposure in early and late pregnancy, the more likely it was that the baby would not grow properly.
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, looked at 336,000 babies born in New Jersey between 1999 and 2003
UK experts said much more detailed research into a link was needed.
what we say...
Dr Rebecca Reynolds for Tommy’s commented:
'Further investigation needs to be conducted to establish how comparable these findings are to the pollution levels in the UK.
The risk of pregnancy complications such as delivering a low birth weight baby or placental abruption can be exacerbated by a whole range of factors. It is important women focus on the tangible behaviour changes which can help reduce some of these risks, such as eating a healthy diet, giving up smoking and cutting out alcohol.'

 

Soap stars suffer tragic loss after their baby is born prematurely

Date: 13 February 2009
The baby son of Coronation Street actress Kym Marsh and Hollyoaks actor Jamie Lomas has died after being born 18 weeks early.
Archie Jay Lomas was delivered at Trafford General Hospital in Manchester on Wednesday night, but died moments later.
Marsh, 32, who was four months' pregnant, had been admitted on Monday afternoon where doctors spent three days trying to prevent the baby's early arrival.
The mother of two, who plays barmaid Michelle Connor in the ITV1 soap, said in a statement: "Archie is our beautiful angel and we will miss him so much. Thank you all for your support."
what we say...
Jane Brewin, Chief Executive of Tommy’s commented:
'All of us at Tommy’s are deeply saddened to hear of the loss suffered by Kym Marsh and Jamie Lomas this week, our heartfelt sympathies go out to them both at this incredibly difficult time.'

 

New study suggests binge drinking during the first trimester could increase the risk of premature birth

Date: 21 January 2009
Doctors say women who drink heavily early in a pregnancy - possibly before they know they are pregnant - may be raising the risk of premature delivery.
A study of 4,719 Australian women found almost an 80% higher risk for women who drank heavily in the first third of pregnancy, then stopped.
what we say...
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics for Tommy’s commented:
“More research needs to be done to ascertain the true extent of the risk posed by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. This is a controversial area with many conflicting results and recommendations about what is deemed a ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption.
Whilst these results suggest that high levels of alcohol consumption do increase the risk of preterm delivery or SGA, it must be taken into consideration that there is widespread misunderstanding about what constitutes a small amount, i.e. 1-2 units of alcohol, so many women choose to drink no alcohol as this means no risk.

 

Research suggests 'third hand smoking' can pose a danger in pregnancy

Date: 6 January 2009
Many people are unaware that even smoking away from babies or pregnant women presents a risk, according to US research.
Poisons in cigarette smoke can linger on fabrics or hair, but a survey of 1,500 households found that fewer than half of smokers knew this.
Only a quarter had strict rules about not smoking in the house, according to the report in the journal Pediatrics.
UK baby charity Tommy's said it was vital that pregnant women were alerted.
what we say...
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics for Tommy’s commented:
'This research presents some significant implications, particularly for pregnant women who may have stopped smoking but are in contact with others who continue to do so, ie partner, family or friends.
It is vital that women are made aware of the possible risks associated with third hand smoke, and alert those around them of the impact it could potentially have on the health of their unborn baby.
The chemicals in cigarettes are known to significantly increase the risk of serious pregnancy complications. Due to reduced oxygen levels in the blood, the developing fetus is in turn deprived of oxygen and other toxic effects - this can result in: miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and birth defects, as well as putting babies at an increased risk of low birthweight, cot death and developing bronchitis or asthma.'

 

Comment on report linking exercise during pregnancy and Pre-Eclampsia

Date: 18 December 2008
A recent report by Danish and Norwegian scientists has highlighted an increased risk of the life-threatening pregnancy condition pre-eclampsia amongst expectant women who exercise.
what we say...
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics for Tommy’s, stresses that this report should not lead pregnant women to change their exercise habits:
“It is widely known that there are numerous benefits associated with exercise during pregnancy. Moderate exercise will not only reduce any aches and pains you may get whilst pregnant, it will also give you more energy.

Despite what this report has found, there is actually a considerably higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia if you are obese. We are continuously carrying out research into what causes pre-eclampsia and more needs to be understood before women start altering their exercise regimes.

The message remains, up to 30 minutes of exercise during pregnancy is a great way for pregnant women to remain healthy.”

 

Comment on pre-pregnancy stress and premature birth

Date: 6 December 2008
 
Women stressed BEFORE pregnancy 'are more likely to have a premature baby'
A new study by Tommy’s has revealed that exposure to stress caused by severe life events in the six months prior to pregnancy, can significantly increase the risk of preterm and very preterm birth.

The research, carried out by A.S Khashan et al at Tommy's Manchester Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre, University of Manchester, aimed to ascertain the effect of exposure to a severe life event. This was in the six moths prior to conception as well as the first, and second trimesters of their pregnancy, and the impact this had on the risk of preterm delivery.
A severe life event was defined as death or serious illness in close relatives.
 
what we say...
Professor Philip Baker, for Tommy's, the baby charity commented,
'Until now the majority of research has focused on the impact of stress during pregnancy, yet these results suggest that the impact could be greater in the period preceding conception.
'Premature labour is a huge problem in this country with around 50,000 babies being born prematurely each year in the UK, putting children at risk of long term health problems such as chronic lung disease, learning difficulties and blindness. It is vital that we continue to investigate the causes of premature birth, so we can give every baby the best chance of being born healthy.'

Overweight Pregnancy Study

Date: 21 November 2008
 
Study into pregnancy weight gain which poses serious health risks for children later in life.
Tommy's baby charity highlights a US study showing women who gain more than 40 pounds (18kg) during pregnancy almost double the risk of delivering an overweight baby as those who gain less.

With such a great deal of attention focused on the diets of young children and the promotion of healthy eating habits, this study further supports the idea of fetal programming whereby weight gain is actually being passed on in the womb.

Whilst it is already known that expectant mothers with gestational diabetes have an increased chance of giving birth to large children, this study identifies a strong occurrence of large children being born to mothers that are outside of this group.
what we say...
Professor Jane Norman, from Tommy's Edinburgh Research Centre at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh commented:
'This study is further evidence of the dangers of being overweight or gaining a large amount of weight during pregnancy.
'With around 25% of women overweight or obese during pregnancy, this can begin a worrying domino effect leading to serious health problems for children later in life.
'Heavy babies are more likely to have a difficult birth, and are more likely to face numerous health problems when they grow older, including becoming obese and developing diabetes.
'With the support from Tommy’s we are working to understand how this happens, and develop treatments that will prevent excessive weight gain being passed on to the baby and causing harm.'
Jane Brewin, Chief Executive of Tommy's commented about the study:
"The results of this study emphasise how important it is to eat a balanced, healthy diet throughout pregnancy. There is confusion amongst women about what they should and shouldn’t eat but help is available either from your midwife or order a free healthy pregnancy guide on-line from www.tommys.org.
We have to get the message across to women that they can positively improve their chances of having a healthy baby by really understanding and eating a nutritionally balanced diet. We also want to point out that the occasional treat is definitely not going to harm your baby and we don’t want women to worry or go on crash diets (which can be dangerous in pregnancy), but it’s never too late to change simple things like reducing saturated fat and sugar in the diet.
The other side to eating is obviously exercise; we really encourage women to take gentle exercise every day and particularly recommend walking and swimming. There is emerging evidence that this is beneficial to the health of the baby. Not only does it help to burn calories but it also helps improve stamina in preparation for labour. The old adage of eating for two is misleading, a woman should eat a normal amount just for herself, and the baby will take what it needs from the mother. It is a really good idea to supplement the diet with folic acid, especially during the first 3 months of pregnancy."

Comment on NHS premature birth rates

Date: 7 November 2008
 
There has been a dramatic rise in the number of babies being born prematurely in England
Tommy's baby charity highlights NHS figures showing 8.6% of babies were born early in 2006/7, after remaining around 7% for the previous 15 years.
It said the increase equated to an extra 10,554 premature births. Babies born early are at increased risk of dying or developing sertious problems.
 
Experts said the rise was partly due to more older - and younger - mothers.
 
what we say...
Dr Rebecca Jones from Tommy’s Manchester Research Centre at St Mary’s General Hospital commented:
“It is hard to tell from the figures whether the increase is due to spontaneous births, when the woman goes into labour early, or whether it is due to medically-induced premature delivery.
Potential reasons for the increase may be more mothers having babies at a young or late age, more multiple pregnancies because of IVF, changes in smoking rates, or changes in the general health of the population.
This is a worrying increase and it highlights the need for more research in this area, to understand the reasons for premature birth and develop new treatments. Tommy’s are doing research to try to understand the very early processes involved in preterm labour. Most drugs that are used to stop premature labour try to stop contractions. We believe that this intervention may be too late, and this is why it is not always successful.
If we can identify the processes that occur before contractions start, we may be able to design new treatments to prevent premature labour in women that are at high risk.”

Anti smoking charity releases new recommendations to combat smoking

Date: 7 October 2008
 
Anti-smoking charity ASH have released a report announcing that treating smokers costs the NHS in England £2.7bn a year, compared with £1.7bn a decade ago.
ASH says the cost would have risen to over £3bn had action to curb smoking not seen numbers fall from 12 million to nine million.
 
The report includes 44 new proposals to combat smoking, including some specifically targeted at pregnant women. The government is consulting on next steps in tobacco control and regulation.
 
what we say...
Jane Brewin, Chief Executive for Tommy's commented:
"Tommy’s would like to offer its wholehearted support for the recommendations released this week by anti-smoking charity ASH, to address the issue of smoking during pregnancy:
  • Establish a programme of cotinine testing among pregnant women in order to accurately measure smoking prevalence in this group
  • Include basic skills in stop smoking advice in the undergraduate training and professional development of all health professionals
  • Develop and evaluate new services and incentives to support the efforts of pregnant smokers to quit
Recent figures show that as many as 17% of pregnant women (120,000 of 700,000 expectant mothers) continue to smoke cigarettes during their pregnancy. >In the UK there are approximately 240,000 mothers who have smoked prior to being pregnant or during pregnancy. That is a quarter of all pregnancies that happen in the UK every year. The potential impact this can have on the number of pregnancy complications experienced each year is huge.
The associated risks to the development and survival of the baby are well established. Due to reduced oxygen levels in the blood the developing fetus is in turn deprived of oxygen. This can result in: miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and birth defects. Babies are also at risk of low birthweight, cot death and developing bronchitis or asthma.
Tommy’s is currently working in partnership with the Department of Health, >to increase smoking cessation amongst pregnant women, therby improving the health of the unborn child and their life chances.
We are encouraged by the positive steps that are being made by organisations such as ASH. Smoking is a significant issue in pregnancy health, and we are confident that these innovative actions will help to make a real difference."

Women confused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy message

Publication: Daily Mirror
Date: 22 September 2008
A new survey by Tommy's reports that women are still confused by how much they should or shouldn't be drinking during pregnancy, as well as the effects alcohol may have on their unborn baby.
The survey of 1303 women revealed that:
  • 1 in 7 are confused by how much alcohol, if any, they can drink during pregnancy
  • 1 in 10 women do not believe that drinking alcohol during pregnancy causes as much damage as is reported
  • 1 in 10 women do not fully understand what 1 unit of alcohol is
  • 1 in 100 women continue to drink alcohol during pregnancy but do not tell others about it
  • 1 in 500 believe that binge drinking occassionally will cause less damage to their baby than occasionally drinking small amounts of alcohol
    what we say...
    Professor of Obstetrics for Tommy's, commented:
    "With young women in particular who are used to binge drinking, there is a need for better education. We don't want to be a nanny state but at the same time women need to be well informed."
    "These findings are worrying because if women don't want to admit to others they are drinking, they might not admit to themselves how much they are drinking. Drinking too much can cause serious neurological as well as behavioural problems for the child."

    Women warned that diet in pregnancy may affect child's health

    Date: 1 July 2008
    Mothers who eat a junk-food diet in pregnancy may seriously damage the long-term health of their child, according to research published today.
    The study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, was carried out on rats, but scientists say they have every reason to believe that human babies may suffer as much harm as the offspring of rodents from exposure in the womb to high levels of fats, sugar and salt.
    Last year the same team, from the Royal Veterinary College, London, published work showing that rats fed a diet of junk food were likely to have overweight babies that had a preference for junk food.
    The new study, published today in the Journal of Physiology, finds that the bad effects are lasting. Even when the baby rats have been weaned off junk food and on to a normal diet, they are likely to grow up fatter than normal and with a raised risk of heart disease and diabetes.

    Read the full story
    what we say...
    Jane Brewin, Chief Executive for Tommy's commented:
    "This new research supports an increasingly compelling argument that obese pregnancies could further compound the occurrence of obesity in future generations by ‘pre-programming' the baby in the womb.
    As it stands in the UK, obesity has already reached epidemic levels and the government is estimating that by 2020 around a third of adults will be obese.
    Obesity poses one of the biggest threats to maternal and fetal health today, making this an important issue which urgently needs to be addressed.
    Tommy's new Edinburgh research centre is devoted to tackling this problem head on, but more work needs to be done to support pregnant women. It is essential that both pregnant women, and women trying to have a baby, are provided with practical information to help them maintain a healthy balanced diet."

    Antenatal blues 'hit development'

    Date: 27 June 2008
    Women who are depressed during pregnancy can have babies who develop more slowly than their peers, a UK study suggests.
    Postnatal depression is known to cause this, but the researchers say antenatal depression can have its own impact.
    Writing in the BJOG journal, they said it could mean a third greater chance of cognitive or behavioural problems.
    The study looked at the records of 11,098 women and their children who gave birth in 1991 and 1992.
    They assessed the level of depression shown by women during pregnancy, then looked for a relationship between this and any developmental problems in their children.
    Women with persistent depression during pregnancy were 50% more likely to have children with diagnosed problems.

    Read the full story
    What we say...
    Annette Briley, Research Midwife for Tommy's, the baby charity commented,
    "Understanding the impact that ante-natal depression can have on both mother and baby, is becoming increasingly important. Recent survey evidence has suggestested that up to 34% of pregnant women feel depressed, and this is a significant risk factor for postnatal depression.
    Depression can produce a similar bodily reaction to stress, which evidence has already suggested can lead to an adverse outcome in pregnancy.
    It is vital that more research is carried out in this area, so that women recieve appropriate care and support to ensure they remain well and their babies have the best chance of being born healthy."

    Is hair colouring safe during pregnancy?

    Midwife Annette Briley addresses concerns about a possible miscarriage risk associated with using hair dye

    Publication: Daily Mirror
    Date: 5 June 2008
    The Mirror reports on a small Dutch study, which found hairdressers had a slightly higher risk of miscarriage than clothing salespeople, investigating the possibility that hair dye may have a contributing factor.

    What we say...
    Tommy's Midwife Annette Briley commented, "There's no real evidence dying your hair can damage your baby, so if you've just dyed your hair and then found out you're pregnant, you shouldn't be worried."
    "On the other hand, it's a good idea to minimise any contact you have with chemicals during early pregnancy, so avoid colouring your in the first 12 weeks"

    Pregnancy stress 'almost doubles risk of stillbirth'

    Date: 29 May 2008
    Stressed mothers-to-be are at almost double the risk of stillbirth, says new research reported in the Daily Mail.
    A study of almost 20,000 women revealed that those who were stressed, anxious or lacked self esteem in the last weeks of their pregnancy, were more likely to suffer a stillbirth.
    It is thought that rising levels of hormones in the mother result in the developing baby being deprived of oxygen.
    What we say...
    Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics for Tommy's, the baby charity commented, "Although the effect is likely to be small, if the baby has any other problems, stress could tip the balance."
    The next step, he said, is to reduce stress in pregnant women and see if that reduces the number of stillbirths.

    Alarming rate of British Asian women suffering stillbirths

    Publication: Asian Times
    Date: 16 May 2008
    Campaigners are demanding radical changes in maternity care in order to stop the alarming rate of British Asian women suffering stillbirths.
    A recent study revealed that Asian women were twice as likely to have a stillbirth or have their baby die within the first month of life, compared with their white counterparts.
    Overall, the stillbirth rate in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland was 5.3 per 1000 births in 2006, compared with 5.4 in 2000, according to data from The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) study.
    Campaign groups want better training for midwives and more education on the causes of stillbirths, which include obesity and poverty, to prevent more tragedies.
    What we say...
    Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics for Tommy's, the baby charity commented,
    "The cause of many stillbirths often goes unexplained. We do know however that there are some conditions which are more common amongst women who deliver stillborn babies - specifically gestational diabetes, diabetes and obstetric cholestasis.
    These illnesses are seen to be more prevalent amongst Asian women, which may explain why there is an increased risk of stillbirth for women in this group. There is a positive message to be taken from this in that these conditions are highly treatable. Therefore it is crucial that women attend all of their midwife appointments, to ensure that any problems that arise can be treated quickly, and thus reduce the risk of stillbirth."


    Stillbirth rate not coming down

 
The BBC reported on a new study released by The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), which suggests the number of stillbirths in the UK remains stubbornly high.

The report pinpointed factors such as social deprivation, a mothers age and also obesity, as increasing the risk of a stillborn.
In 2006 the stillbirth rate in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was 5.3 per 1,000 total births, compared to 5.4 per 1,000 in 2000.
 
 
What we say...
Jane Brewin, chief executive for Tommy's, the baby charity, said: "These new figures confirm that more research is desperately needed into finding the causes of stillbirth, so that more babies lives can be saved through developing preventative measures.
"Obesity in pregnancy is a significant problem in this country and has massive implications for both mother and baby. It carries an increased risk of major pregnancy complications including miscarriage, pre-term birth and stillbirth."
She said Tommy's has just opened a pioneering new research centre focusing jointly on the causes and consequences of obesity in pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes

 
Professor Shennan sheds light on the condition currently suffered by Angelina Jolie

Publication: new!
Date: 14 April 2008
new! magazine reported on the pregnancy condition gestational diabetes, which Hollywood star Angelina Jolie is thought to be currently suffering from.
What we say...
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics for Tommy's helps explain the condition and its causes.
"Gestational diabetes, which is caused by high blood sugar during pregnancy, is easily manageable. Avoid foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, " he advises. "Starchy foods are to be avoided, too."
Women with gestational diabetes are monitored closely to ensure the baby doesn't digest too much sugar in the womb.
"Excess sugar may lead to the baby growing too big," explains Professor Shennan. "Then there's the danger that the baby could be in trauma at birth."
In extreme cases, women may have to have insulin injections. Around 50 per cent of women who have gestational diabetes develop diabetes later in life. Because there are no obvious symptoms, Professor Shennan urges all pregnant women to attend antenatal appointments.
"It's important to have regular urine checks while pregnant.", he says

Stress in pregnancy

 
Stress leaves 'lasting legacy' in pregnancy

Date: 30 March 2008
This article discusses the high levels of stress experienced by today's expectant mothers, leading to a rise in the levels of cortisol in their bloodstream. Whilst the placenta would generally limit an unborn baby's exposure to this stress hormone, particularly high levels or a badly functioning placenta can lead to effects to the baby.
It follows the experience of one mother who, whilst pregnant with her third child, felt obliged to retain her role as childminder to other children up to 38 weeks of her pregnancy. She blames the accompanying stress with her son's deafness and fractious nature once born.
A survey conducted by Tommy's for Pregnancy Health Month last year showed that 90% of 1,100 women suffered stress in pregnancy with money troubles the chief concern. Many worried about developing post-natal depression, and that they might not love their baby.
What we say...
Andrew Shennan, professor of obstetrics for Tommy's said: "It is vital that we reassure pregnant women that it is OK to feel confused and uncertain during pregnancy."

Alcohol and pregnancy

 
Pregnant women should not drink alcohol during first three months, says NICE

Date: 26 March 2008
The Times covered the story surrounding the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's (NICE) change of message regarding the level of alochol acceptable for pregnant women.
Whilst NICE had previously stated that a glass of wine everyday during pregnancy was fine, they have now said that women should not drink any alcohol during the first three months of pregnany, and should thereafter drink no more than a small amount of wine one or two days a week.

Click here for the full article.
What we say...
At Tommy's we advise that 'No alcohol means no risk'.
Sharon Simms, Tommy's midwife commented:
"The consumption of alcohol in pregnancy remains a contentious issue. The new guidelines from NICE suggest that women can drink up to 1-2 units of alcohol once or twice a week after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Alcohol though, should be avoided if a woman is trying to conceive or is in her first 3 months of pregnancy as there may be an increased risk of miscarriage."
"There is still much confusion what actually constitutes 1-2 units of alcohol. 1-2 units of alcohol equates to a half of ordinary strength lager or a small glass of wine, although the measures that are served in bars, restaurants or at home are often much larger than this, so many people often consume far more than they realise. For peace of mind the simplest message still remains no alcohol means no risk."

Long-term risk of premature birth

 
Babies born prematurely may suffer the health consequences all the way through to adulthood, a major study suggests.

Date: 26 March 2008
This article focussed on the analysis conducted by Norwegian and US researchers, studying the long-term consequences of being born prematurely (before 37 weeks). The study looked at 60,354 premature births occurring in the last few decades.
Risks found to be present to people born prematurely included infant death and a reduced chance of having babies later in life. Children born too early were also less likely to finish secondary school.

Click here for the full article
What we say...
Tommy's CEO, Jane Brewin, said the findings highlighted that "premature birth is a bigger problem than people think".
"These findings support the argument for further research to be done into finding the causes of premature birth, so that more babies can be given the best chance of being born healthy."

 

Risk associated with overweight mothers

Alert as overweight mothers give birth to ‘alarmingly’ heavy babies

Publication: The Herald
The UK's obesity crisis has led to major concerns regarding overweight and obese women during pregnancy and the effects their weight has on their babies. Scotland has a particularly high level of obesity, leading to Scottish mothers giving birth to "overweight" babies.
Tommy's new Edinburgh research centre, based at The Royal Infirmary, will focus it's efforts on studying maternal obesity and it's effects to both mother and baby.

Find out more about our new Edinburgh research centre.
What we say...
Tommy's CEO, Jane Brewin, said: "In the UK nearly 50% of women attending antenatal bookings are obese or overweight and obesity in pregnancy causes an increased risk of spontaneous miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death rates.
"Emerging evidence also suggests that maternal obesity has long-term consequences for the fetus, including childhood obesity.
"With the healthcare costs of obesity set to top £4.5bn in the next three years, obesity is now a top priority on the government agenda and has been identified as a key area for research."

Is caffeine linked to miscarriage?

 
US study suggests two coffees a day doubles risk of miscarriage

Publication: The Guardian
Date: 21 January 2008
The Guardian reported on a study which advised women to cut out caffeine during the first three months of pregnancy, to help reduce their risk of having a miscarriage.
The US study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found pregnant women who consumed two or more mugs of coffee a day were twice as likely to miscarry than those who abstained from caffeine completely.
The study of 1,063 pregnant women showed that those who had at least 200mg of caffeine each day had a 25% risk of miscarriage compared with a 12% risk for women who avoided all caffeine, including in tea, soft drinks and chocolate.
To read the full article visit.
Read the full story here
What we say...
Andrew Shennan, Professor of Obstetrics for Tommy's commented,
"This is not the first report of its kind into the possible effects that consuming caffeine during pregnancy can have. This is a contentious issue as the effect of caffeine maybe related to other factors that also are more or less common in coffee drinkers. It maybe that women who drink coffee also do other things that increase risk, and there are many factors that this study will not be able to take account of.
Other recent studies, even larger then this suggest no relationship between coffee and caffeine and miscarriage risk. As with most things in pregnancy, moderation is important and two or less cups of coffee per day would seem sensible, or an equivalent amount. I do not believe women should abstain from caffeine altogether, although some may choose to, and this would guarantee no harm related to caffeine."

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