Monthly Archives: April 2017
Preeclampsia is a medical condition that appears only during pregnancy. It’s characteristics may be quite distinct. However, if the condition is mild, it is important to be familiar with all common symptoms and contact the doctor in a timely manner. There is also a connection between surrogacy and preeclampsia. Further we will additionally discuss what can intended parents do to make their parenthood journey less complicated.
What is preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a complication that may appear only during pregnancy. It will usually start after 20 weeks of gestation. It is important to diagnose preeclampsia and treat it on time. Otherwise, the condition can lead to fatal consequences for baby and a mother.
The most common symptoms of preeclampsia are high blood pressure (more than 140/90 mmHg) and protein in the urine (proteinuria).
High blood pressure solely does not necessarily indicate preeclampsia. For example, gestational hypertension is a condition of having high blood pressure during pregnancy, but without extra protein in urine or problems with any other organs. However, there are cases when gestational hypertension ultimately develops to preeclampsia.
When the condition is more severe, symptoms can be accompanied with:
- severe headaches
- abdominal pains
- blurred vision or sensitivity to light
- shortness of breath
- seldom urination
Swollen hands and legs can sometimes characterize preeclampsia.
Fatigue, dizziness and nausea may also be signs of preeclampsia and in order not to confuse them with the symptoms of pregnancy, it is essential that pregnant females attend prenatal checkups regularly.
On the appointment, doctor will check blood pressure, make urine and blood tests. Usually doctors will check kidneys, because preeclampsia can affect them too. Ultrasound may be needed to make sure that baby is growing as supposed.
We already know that during pregnancy, baby gets oxygen and food through placenta. Preeclampsia can prevent placenta from getting enough blood. Insufficient blood flow to placenta means that baby will get less nutrients and oxygen finally resulting in premature birth. Preeclampsia can also be the reason of placental abruption(placenta separating from the uterus) finally resulting in a stillbirth. Preterm labour is also a common occurrence when having preeclampsia.
There are no known causes of preeclampsia. However, several factors have been identified to be potentially risky:
- Having experienced preeclampsia during previous pregnancies
- Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Being pregnant with multiple babies (ex: twins, triplets…)
- Being pregnant for the first time
- Babies from different partner on second or further pregnancies
- Having body mass index (BMI) 30 or higher, referred to as obesity
- History of chronic high blood pressure, kidney diseases , blood clotting before pregnancy.
- Age (younger than 20 or older than 40)
- Genetic factors (sister or mother had preeclampsia)
Preeclampsia is not only a threat to a baby. In future moms, it can cause complications including :
- fluid in the lungs
- heart failure of cardiovascular disease
- problems in kidneys, liver or even eyes. If severe, preeclampsia can seriously affect other organs.
Complications may also include:
Hemolysis (HELLP) which is a more complicated and severe form of preeclampsia and can cause fatal consequences for mother and a baby. HELLP causes the disruption of red blood cells, erythrocytes. Hemolysis is a threat for other organ systems.
If preeclampsia is accompanied by seizure, then the condition develops to eclampsia. Because of its severnes, independant from the stage of pregnancy, the delivery becomes unavoidable.
Treatment and consequences
If the symptoms are mild and the baby is not yet developed sufficiently, doctor may advise a bed rest, consumption of plenty of water as well as food rich in proteins. Medicines to lower blood pressure may be prescribed. Regular prenatal checkups are required to control the course of pregnancy. With the help of ultrasounds, doctor will have to check the heartbeat of a baby. Steroid injections are sometimes used to accelerate the development of baby’s lungs.
Actually, the only cure to preeclampsia is the delivery. Doctor may have to induce the labour, even if mother is not close to term. When preeclampsia is severe and fetus is on the early stage of development, parents and doctor might have to discuss fatal consequences that could be caused by keeping the fetus.
Of course, it is better to be as close to due date as possible. For example after 37 weeks of gestation, when the baby is usually developed enough, delivery is the only option to keep preeclampsia from getting worse. In this case, usually both, mother and baby do just fine.
Surrogacy and Preeclampsia
Professional surrogacy agencies control the health of a surrogate mother regularly. Basically one of the main things intended parents should ensure is that their agency is going to screen the surrogate frequently. It is important that parents are always updated with the information about health of a surrogate and their baby.
Experienced agencies and clinics are already familiar and have experienced patients with most of the pregnancy complications. While some of the conditions are easier to control and manipulate than preeclampsia, the agency will not hesitate to explain their approach to this health condition and share best practices from their experience.
Remember, that the desired results are not always achieved on the first try. In fact, a lot of good things come after times of struggle and failure. There is certainly quite a high possibility to make everything work out just fine, however, it’s important to have a solid, stable and well thought backup plan(s). Same applies for surrogacy agencies and at some point, this is what intended parents should care about in the beginning too.
A certain part of the society still doubts the ability of same-sex couples to be successful parents. To prove the prejudices wrong, a lot of great movies and books have been created to depict the reality. Some of them are a hilarious representation of different situations, another part, on the other hand, gives information and suggestions based on real experiences and surveys.
Movies we have chosen describe stories in a very interesting way. Very entertaining and enchanting to watch, while questioning the beliefs present in the part of the society.
Modern family (Mitch and Cam)
Modern family is a popular American TV series. While picturing the family life in a very delightful way, one can not ignore how honestly the episodes capture the reality and struggles every family faces at some moment. Heroes Mitch and Cam are two gay males living in a committed relationship. Gradually, they decide to experience the joy of parenthood and give their love and affection to the baby.
Mitch and Cam indeed become very caring and attentive parents.
You can watch the moments with Cam and Mitch here.
The new normal
Movie tells a story of Bryan and David, a loving gay couple deciding they are ready for parenthood. Accompanied with humour, the story describes their journey to finding a surrogate mother and emotional expectations of a positive pregnancy test.
You can watch the movie trailer here.
Breakfast with Scot
When Tom and Ben first realize that they have to become parents to Scot, it comes out as an unexpected surprise. Not yet being sure whether the couple wants to raise a kid, they gradually find themselves very involved and responsible for a 6 year old kid.
You can watch the movie trailer here.
Patrik, age 1.5
Finally a Swedish, same-sex couple has the opportunity to adopt a child. However, because of a mistake, instead of 1.5 year old little Patrick, they happen to adopt a 15 year old boy. The situation gets strained when Patrick, who is not a child at all, happens to be a delinquent teenager, with homophobic views. On their tough journey on cohabitation, all three heroes manage to learn a lot from each other.
You can watch the movie trailer here.
Love Makes a Family: Portraits of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Parents and Their Families
The book consists of interviews and photographs of LGBT parents who share own and their children’s stories. They speak about the struggles with society’s pressure (concerning their orientation or ethnicity background) and their observations of what actually matters to have a family full of respect and love.
You can read more details & buy the book here.
Gay Dads: A Celebration of Fatherhood
The book tells about 25 different gay parents who describe their hard way to successful parenthood. “Gay dads” is a proof that a huge number of children are raised in loving families, where they are either born or adopted by gay parents.
You can read more details & buy the book here.
Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle
Parenthood recommendations and research-based profound overview of same-sex couples: their relationships, ways they settle down as families and obstacles they face as couples during parenting. The results of the research are represented both : quantitatively and qualitatively.
You can read more details & buy the book here.
Back in the previous centuries, tuberculosis was one of the leading infections responsible for death of thousands and thousands of people. Nowadays, recovery can take a long time and the infection is usually cured with the help of antibiotics. It is possible to get infected during pregnancy and pregnant females who have discovered they have tuberculosis, should consider getting treatment as soon as possible. Further we will discuss the relationship between tuberculosis and pregnancy, symptoms, consequences and action plan in different situations.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious infection that is caused by the bacteria called “mycobacterium tuberculosis”. Mostly, TB attacks lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body, for example : bones, brain, spine and kidneys.
Infected person may have tuberculosis in two forms, active or latent.
Latent tuberculosis means that the immune system is able to block the germs(microbes) from spreading. Latent TB is not infectious and does not cause any symptoms. However, the bacteria is present and the infection may once get activated. Medicines can diminish the probability of activation.
Active tuberculosis, on the other hand, is contagious. The microbes are multiplying, spreading and causing symptoms.
As latent TB doesn’t cause symptoms, it is only possible to identify the infection through medical tests. Active TB , however, has somewhat distinctive symptoms including :
- A long-lasting cough (21 days or more)
- Cough that brings up phlegm, sometimes bloody.
- Pains in the chest
- Loss of appetite and weight
- Constant fatigue
- Fever and night sweats
Tuberculosis can be transmitted like flu or cold. Microbes can be spread when an infected person speaks, sneezes, coughs, laughs and so on. However, the infection is not easy to catch. A healthy immune system has the ability to fight and even kill the bacteria. It’s also not likely to get infected after having a brief contact with the infected person. The microbes grow relatively slowly and a frequent/long contact is required to catch the TB.
Smoking is proved to greatly increase the risk of getting Tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis and Pregnancy
After introduction to common symptoms of tuberculosis, it is not hard to notice a coincidence with the ones of pregnancy(change in appetite, nausea, fatigue). For that reason , sometimes the only noticeable symptom of TB during pregnancy can be coughing accompanied by the phlegm.
After noticing any of the symptoms, doctors will usually advice to do the phlegm, blood or skin tests. Chest x-ray may also be needed. Mendel-mantoux test, also known as tuberculin sensitivity test is another way to screen for the TB bacteria. A small injection in the skin followed by a swelling in the area is a sign of existence of TB bacteria. The swelling may appear throughout 2-3 days after the injection and it’s presence, doesn’t necessarily indicate the active form of tuberculosis.
Parents should not fear of the tests, as if not identified on time, tuberculosis has the potential to be very harmful for a baby. The consequences may include:
- Premature birth
- Preterm labour
- Baby getting infected with TB (If TB is active and mother has not started treatment yet, there is a chance that baby gets infected during labor. Doctors will make the test after the baby is born.)
The treatment includes antibiotics and can kill the infection if are taken regularly, according to doctor’s prescription. Majority of medicines are safe for both, mother and baby. The treatment may last up to 9 months, until the bacteria is finally killed. However, unfortunately, there are cases when tuberculosis is resistant to medicines(drug-resistant TB) and treating it can be more difficult.
Pregnant females should combine doctor’s treatment with the lifestyle that will make their immune system stronger. Eating healthy food and getting as much fresh air as possible, play an important role in the recovery.
Tuberculosis and Surrogacy
Of course the surrogacy agency and clinic will screen a surrogate mother on tuberculosis. However, it is possible that surrogate mother catches the infection during pregnancy – just like any other pregnant female. It is important that the surrogacy agency is not only monitoring the pregnancy, but has the ability to act operatively in similar situations. If surrogate gets infected, the agency should act accordingly and promptly to perform the steps that are needed to eliminate the issue. Surrogate mother should receive immediate treatment, get checked regularly and be controlled to lead the lifestyle that will increase the chance of a successful pregnancy to maximum.
Intended parents may want to get informed about surrogacy agency’s action plan in similar situations before the beginning of the program.
Parents have to stay positive. Despite the fact that tuberculosis is not a desired condition, especially while expecting a baby, it is better to be aware of it and receive treatment in a timely manner. There is always a way to make the situation better, especially with the disease that is proven to be treatable.
Rubella is a viral infection usually identified by a red rash. Everyone is familiar with rubella and it is a common practice to vaccinate children to prevent it. While some people have merely any symptoms, the infection may appear more severe for others. Rubella is not common during pregnancy, but if identified, is likely to be a threat for a baby.
Future parents also have to act attentively when they need to use a surrogate mother. Normally surrogacy agency will collect all of the medical data from clinic that is essential to proceed with the program. However, intended parents should still have the information – the more they know, the better.
What is rubella?
Rubella is also known as German measles. Mostly the infection is recognized by its characteristic red rash. The virus is infectious and is passed from a person to person by sneezing or coughing. Rubella may also be passed on during a direct contact with an infected person.
As already mentioned, in most countries it is a common practice to vaccinate children in order to prevent rubella. For that reason, the infection is nearly eliminated in some regions. However, people still get infected and sometimes transmit the disease without even knowing they have it. This happens because the symptoms are usually revealed after 2 or maybe even 3 weeks after the exposure to the infection. After the symptoms have disappeared, the person may still be contagious for about 2 weeks.
Signs are usually so mild that they stay unnoticeable. If noticed, the symptoms are likely to disappear in 2 to 3 days. The infection is sometimes referred to as three day measles.
If present, the symptoms include :
- Inflamed or red eyes
- Swollen lymph nodes around head and neck, also behind the ears
- Pink-red rash that consists of small spots. The rash starts on the face and spreads down to the body.
- Cold like symptoms – headache, running nose, cough
- Aching joints – especially in adults
- Muscle pain
Rubella and surrogacy
Congenital rubella syndrome
If a female gets infected by rubella during pregnancy, the virus may be transmitted to the baby through the bloodstream. The infection is especially dangerous for the fetus throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. However, it may cause difficulties on the later stages of gestation as well. Congenital rubella syndrome is when the virus is passed on to the fetus and is considered to be a threat for a baby. Congenital rubella syndrome may cause :
Or health issues in a baby :
- Heart problems
- Poorly functioning organs
- Growth or mental retardation
What to do?
Good news is that once having a rubella virus is usually a guarantee that a person is immune to it. If surrogate has experienced german measles, it’s already a reasonable purpose for intended parents not to be worried. However, everything should be double checked.
Usually, when females plan pregnancy, they should test their immunity to rubella in advance and vaccinate at least a month before conceiving. Of course same applies to surrogate mothers. Intended parents should make sure that their surrogate has done the tests that confirm her immunity. Surrogacy agency and clinic will normally inform their patients about medical condition of a surrogate mother.
Not surprisingly, every future parent wants their egg donor to be as healthy as possible. The are a lot of cases in egg donation, when donor’s health condition is satisfactory for the procedure but doctors suddenly cancel them from the program. One of the reasons could be the discovery of a health condition, which may or not be connected with donation. Herpes is in the list of viruses that sometimes cause uncertainty and may be the reason behind egg donors not being able to enroll in the program.
What is actually the connection between herpes and egg donation?
What is herpes?
Everyone has heard of herpes. The medical name for the infection is herpes simplex virus (HSV). Virus itself, exists in two types : HSV-1, so-called oral herpes and HSV-2, responsible for genital herpes. Genitals and mouth area are the most common parts of the body, where herpes may appear. HSV-1 stays in the base of the neck area causing outbreaks and cold sores on mouth or face. On the other hand, HSV-2 stays around the spinal cord in the lower back and outbreaks in the genital area.
Herpes is contagious, which means that it is transmitted from one person to another. While HSV-1 is transmitted via kissing, HSV-2 infection is spread during sexual intercourse. Herpes is a very commonly spread virus. According to studies, majority of people are not aware of their infection because their symptoms are very mild or not present at all. When we talk about egg donation, genital herpes (HSV-2 virus) is relevant.
Herpes virus stays dormant in the ganglia. Ganglia is a cluster of nerve cells that come from different parts of the body. Herpes virus doesn’t change it’s location – it stays in the nerve ganglia and doesn’t spread through the body.
What we know : Herpes simplex is virus that lives in the nerve ganglia and doesn’t spread in the other parts of the body. Based on its type and accordingly location(neck or lower back), virus may cause outbreaks on mouth or genital area. Outbreaks normally occur when the immune system of a person is weakened.
The truth about the infection and egg donation is the following :
- Herpes Simplex is a virus living latently in the nerve cells and it is not transmitted on eggs.
- Doctor will need to make sure is that the egg donor does not have any flare-ups during the procedure.
The clinic may have special restrictions and may not be willing to confirm donors with herpes. However, this only makes sense when the donor is experiencing regular outbreaks that are present during the retrieval procedure too. This could also mean that egg donor’s immune system is somewhat weakened and cancelling her from the program could seem reasonable at some point.
Parents do not need to be worried if their egg donor has HSV and is not experiencing recurrence. If she is meeting all of the medical requirements as well as parents’ expectations, there is no need to worry and lose a potentially successful outcome.