Over the past two decades, the rate of women dying either during pregnancy or soon after has more than doubled in Pennsylvania. This week, the governor signed a new law to try to reverse that trend.

The new law would establish a 'Maternal Mortality Review Committee'. It's an idea supporters say already has a history of success.

Herat, Afghanistan. - By midnight, Khurshid (35), already five months pregnant, was in serious trouble.

Bleeding heavily, she had passed out from severe pain at home, and her family had carried her unconscious body to the nearest, and only, health station in the remote and mountainous Chesht-e Sharif district of Afghanistan’s Herat Province.

“Her state shocked me, but I knew quickly that it was a miscarriage,” recalls Amena (22), the midwife on duty at the clinic, known locally as a Family Health House, that is supported by the Italian Agency for International Development and the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA.

Doctors define the “perinatal period” as running from before conception, through a woman’s pregnancy, all the way to a year post-partum. It’s a time when women go through many changes physically - and mentally. But for women who struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues - these changes not only can affect the mother, but the child as well.

Access to quality, whole foods and adequate nutrition is an integral part of not only a balanced diet but also a healthy and prosperous life. It is also a pivotal component of maternal and infant health. Unfortunately, food insecurity is a major problem in the United States; today, millions of Americans—a disproportionate share of whom are African American—live and work in geographic areas that lack affordable and nutritious food, and millions more lack the economic resources to afford adequate food in a given month. It is no coincidence that this problem is most prevalent among African American* families, who continue to experience racial and economic inequality disproportionate to that of any other group in the United States. Food insecurity is yet another way that systemic inequality manifests within many African Americans’ daily lives. It is also no coincidence that the policies and programs that support adequate nutrition among poor families are currently under threat.

Women who consume at least 200 mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy are more likely to have offspring with excess growth in infancy and overweight in childhood, and the risk rises with increasing caffeine intake, according to an analysis of a Norwegian pregnancy cohort.

“In utero exposure to caffeine has been related to an increased risk for overweight and higher body fat in childhood in two previous epidemiological studies,” Eleni Papadopoulou, of the division of infection control and environmental health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, Norway, and colleagues wrote. “However, the link between in utero caffeine exposure and excess growth in infancy is yet to be studied, even though excess infant growth is an established risk factor in the etiology of obesity and cardiometabolic disease.”


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