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Women Can Help Prevent Pregnancy Complications

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- Pregnancy can be a wonderful and stressful
experience any time of the year, but during the summer months,
women should take extra steps to avoid complications, according
to obstetrician/gynecologists at Duke University Medical
Center.

According to Amy Murtha, M.D., assistant professor in the
Division of Maternal and Fetal Medicine in Duke's Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology, pregnant women should be careful not
to get too hot and should drink enough fluids to stay
hydrated.

"In the summer, women who don't drink enough can get dizzy,
light-headed and have headaches," Murtha said. "We generally
recommend that women drink between six to eight eight-ounce
glasses of juice or water each day to avoid any potential
problems. If they don't, they can put themselves at risk for
complications."

As the pregnancy progresses, women who get dehydrated may
increase their chances of experiencing pre-term contractions.
Pregnant women should also avoid extended exposure to the sun
during the summer, even though the warm weather is enticing,
Murtha said. Hours in the sun can lead to overheating that can
harm the fetus. Body temperature, taken under the arm, should
not exceed 101 degrees Fahrenheit, she said. Pregnant women
should also avoid hot tubs since they can cause the core body
temperature to rise quickly.

These precautions, however, do not mean that women should
forego exercise. During the first trimester, most exercise is
safe as long as women pay attention to their bodies and stop
when they get tired, Murtha said. But as the pregnancy
progresses, Murtha recommends women swim rather than run or
bike.

In addition to summertime precautions, women should take
other steps to keep their pregnancy healthy and minimize the
risk of birth defects. All vaccinations should be up-to-date to
avoid infections, including influenza and Hepatitis B vaccines,
Murtha said.

Women can also help prevent neural tube defects in their
babies by conscientiously taking prenatal vitamins daily. A 400
microgram per day dose of folic acid can guard against spina
bifida, congenital heart disease, spinal defects, miscarriage
and still birth.

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