Deficiency of Vitamin E in Pregnant Women
According to a study in The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, pregnant women who do not get enough Vitamin E may have children who are at a higher risk of suffering from asthma. The research reveals that the early life nutrient intake, both in the utero and post partum period, modifies the risk of developing childhood asthma. Postpartum period is the after delivery period. Utero period is the period when the baby is in mother’s womb. Women with the highest intake of Vitamin E has the lowest risk of developing asthma.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin. Vitamins are also stored in the liver. Drawing on the nutrient-rich blood in the hepatic portal vein, the liver collects and stores supplies of vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Asthma, disorder of the respiratory system in which the passages that enable air to pass into and out of the lungs periodically narrow, causing coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. This narrowing is typically temporary and reversible, but in severe attacks, asthma may result in death. Asthma most commonly refers to bronchial asthma, an inflammation of the airways, but the term is also used to refer to cardiac asthma, which develops when fluid builds up in the lungs as a complication of heart failure. This article focuses on bronchial asthma.
More than 14 million Americans suffer from asthma, with more than 4 million cases occurring in children under age 18. In the United States, asthma causes 5000 deaths each year. Asthma occurs in males and females of all ages, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic levels. For reasons not completely understood, asthma is generally more common in poor urban neighborhoods, in cold climates, and in industrialized countries.
Among all Americans, the prevalence of asthma increased more than 60 percent between 1982 and 1994, especially among children. Deaths from asthma increased more than 55 percent from 1979 to 1992. Scientists suspect that increased exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke, growing populations in polluted city centers, and new housing that is poorly ventilated contribute to the increase in asthma cases.
Asthma attacks are caused by airway hyperresponsiveness-that is, an overreaction of the bronchi and bronchioles to various environmental and physiological stimuli, known as triggers. The most common causes of asthma attacks are extremely small and lightweight particles transported through the air and inhaled into the lungs. When they enter the airways, these particles, known as environmental triggers, cause an inflammatory response in the airway walls, resulting in an asthma attack.
For some people the environmental triggers are allergens. Allergens are usually natural substances, such as plant pollen and mold spores, animal dander (tiny pieces of animal hair and skin), and fecal material from dust mites and cockroaches. Allergens produce an exaggerated response of the immune system in which a specific antibody, immunoglobulin E, initiates the inflammatory response. These same allergens may cause little or no reaction in nonallergic people
Pregnancy starts when a male’s sperm fertilizes a female’s ovum (egg), and the fertilized ovum implants in the lining of the uterus (see Fertilization; Reproductive System). Because pregnancy changes a woman’s normal hormone patterns, one of the first signs of pregnancy is a missed menstrual period (see Menstruation). Other symptoms include breast tenderness and swelling, fatigue, nausea or sensitivity to smells, increased frequency of urination, mood swings, and weight gain. Some women also experience cravings for unusual substances such as ice, clay, or cornstarch; this condition, called pica, can indicate a dietary deficiency in iron or other nutrients. By the 12th week of pregnancy many of these symptoms have subsided, but others appear. For example, a woman’s breasts usually increase in size, and her nipples darken. The most obvious symptom is weight gain; most physicians now recommend a gain of about 9 to 12 kg (about 22 to 26 lb) by the end of pregnancy.
The first few months of pregnancy are the most critical for the developing infant, because during this period the infant’s brain, arms, legs, and internal organs are formed. For this reason a pregnant woman should be especially careful about taking any kind of medication except on the advice of a physician who knows that she is pregnant. X rays should also be avoided, and pregnant women should avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.
Most women worry about the health of their unborn child, especially mothers over the age of 35, when genetic problems are more common. Safe, effective tests are available that can detect genetic disorders which cause mental retardation and other problems. The most common test is amniocentesis, and in about 95 percent of the cases tested the baby is found to be normal. Some doctors recommend that all pregnant women over the age of 35 have an amniocentesis test.
Although most pregnancies proceed normally, certain complications can develop. One rare but life-threatening complication is ectopic pregnancy, in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, in the abdomen, or in a Fallopian tube. Symptoms include sudden, intense pain in the lower abdomen about the seventh or eight week of pregnancy. If not promptly treated by surgical means, ectopic pregnancy can result in massive internal bleeding and possibly death.
About 15 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, most of which occur between the 4th and 12th weeks of pregnancy. A physician should be contacted immediately if a woman suspects that she is pregnant and then experiences severe abdominal cramping or vaginal bleeding.
Toxemia is another potentially serious complication of late pregnancy. Symptoms include high blood pressure; rapid, large weight gain, due to edema (swelling), of as much as 11 to 13 kg (25 to 30 lb) in a month; and protein in the urine. If untreated, toxemia can lead to seizures and coma and death of the infant. Once severe toxemia is diagnosed, the infant is usually delivered as soon as possible to protect both mother and child. The condition disappears with birth.
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