November, 2011 browsing by month


Baby’s tastebuds mirror Mom’s food choices?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

You’ve probably heard the claim that exposing a baby in the womb to Mozart will increase his or her IQ. Despite the hype, the research doesn’t support major leaps in smarts (but, if nothing else, it might improve your child’s musical taste, later on).

Now, there’s some evidence showing that you may be able to shape a yet-to-be-born child’s taste in food.

“The flavor and odors of what mothers eat show up in the amniotic fluid, which is swallowed by the fetus, and in breast milk. There is evidence that fetal taste buds are mature in utero by 13 to 15 weeks, with taste receptor cells appearing at 16 weeks, according to researchers.

“’With flavor learning, you can train a baby’s palate with repetitive exposure,” said Kim Trout, director of the nurse midwifery/women’s health nurse practitioner program at Georgetown University.

“Trout recently co-authored a paper that reviews the evidence on prenatal flavor learning and its implications for controlling childhood obesity and diabetes, among the country’s most pressing health problems…”


Although I’m just as skeptical of this claim as I am about the one for baby-and-Mozart, I see real benefit in giving this a try, whether it makes your baby want broccoli or not. That’s because, in my practice, I see too many women gaining too much weight during pregnancy, which can not only cause complications for mother and baby, but can be almost impossible to shed once your baby is born.

So, bring on the Brussels sprouts, and eschew the Twinkies. Pass by the apple pie and bite into a nice juicy apple instead. Whether it does a thing to change your baby’s mind about what tastes good later in life, it will do a world of good for you both right now.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH

My memoir’s getting lots of media attention: good news and bad news

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Yes, that’s me on the cover Living, the Jersey Shore magazine, and there’s a lovely, long, detailed article inside, that talks in-depth about my latest memoir, Something to Prove, as well as my first memoir, The Ditchdigger’s Daughters.

I’m thrilled to have gotten the coverage, especially now, when I learned, in a roundabout way, that the publisher of Something to Prove is getting out of the trade (consumer) book business.

Erik Sherman of CBS News wrote all about that, and how it affects Something to Prove, so I won’t say more. But I hope to have news for you of a paperback and ebook of Something to Prove soon. Stay tuned.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH

Should you be worried about the blot clot risk with newer birth control pills?

Monday, November 21st, 2011

You might have read the news that YAZ and Yasmin, two newer birth control pills, are riskier to take than older contraceptives due to higher potential for blood clot formation.

But it’s important to put this into perspective. No matter what birth control pill you use, blood clots are a possibility, if an uncommon one. What you might not know is that blood clots are even more common in pregnancy. Fortunately, the vast majority of the millions of women who get pregnant and give birth each year don’t suffer blood clots. Just as millions of women take birth control pills with no such side effects.

So, is there a unique problem with YAZ? Yes, but not the one identified in the headlines. The problem is in the marketing.

YAZ was promoted to women as a pill for bloating and acne in addition to its contraceptive effects. While that might be a good marketing strategy, it’s not a good medical one. Contraceptives are for birth control, and the best one for you, based on your medical history, might have nothing to do with acne. People shouldn’t pick their birth control the way they pick their toothpaste—on the basis of consumer advertising. You should consult your doctor who will look at your history and decide what form of contraception meets your needs. If your family has a history of strokes, blood clots, or thrombophlebitis (a blood clot that causes swelling in a vein), your doctor will almost certainly order advanced testing due to the possibility that any birth control pill—YAZ, Yasmin, or older medicines—might be inappropriate for your condition.

But if your doctor has already determined that YAZ or Yasmin is a safe bet, and you’re on one of these now? Keep taking it unless your doctor says otherwise. The alternative could be unintended pregnancy. And pregnancy, ironically enough, is more likely to cause a blood clot than your birth control pills.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH