Flu Shot During Pregnancy Improves Perinatal Outcomes

During pregnancy, women need to take special care to avoid becoming ill. There are several reasons for this. The first is that a pregnant woman’s immune system is not as strong during pregnancy as it generally is; this helps to prevent the mother’s body from attacking the developing fetus. Unfortunately, however, the weakened immune system also means that pregnant mothers are more susceptible to pathogens that they’d otherwise fight off relatively easily. Increased susceptibility aside, there’s also the concern that some illnesses — influenza included — can impact the developing fetus. Finally, there’s the simple fact that many of the medications used to treat illnesses and their accompanying symptoms aren’t appropriate for pregnant women.

Pregnant woman and doctor with vaccine syringe

Regular Use of High-Heeled Shoes Changes Mechanics of Walking

High-heeled shoes are a fashion statement for many women. They define the calf muscle, make legs appear longer, and cause the buttocks to protrude slightly. While most women who wear high-heeled shoes know that they’re not the most supportive footwear option, a new study shows that they have a much more profound effect than previously thought. Published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, a recent study shows that high-heeled shoes change the mechanics of walking in a habitual user, even when the user is walking barefoot [1].

Walking in high heelsImage credit: Walking in high heels via Shutterstock

Q&A: Should I Take a Prenatal Vitamin Even If I’m Not Pregnant?

Question: I’ve heard that prenatal vitamins can help improve hair quality, balance hormones, prevent acne and make fingernails stronger. Should I consider taking them even though I’m not pregnant?

Prenatal vitaminsImage credit: Prenatal vitamins via Shutterstock

Folic Acid During Pregnancy Reduces Risk of Language Delay

While prevention of neural tube defect — birth defects of the brain and spinal cord — is perhaps the most widely known reason for taking folic acid before and during pregnancy, recent research brings additional benefits of prenatal folic acid supplementation to light. A study published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that use of folic acid supplements in early pregnancy significantly reduces the risk of severe language delay in children at 3 years of age [1].

Folic acid

A Look Back at 50 Years of Birth Control

Birth control pills are a very popular form of birth control and are currently used by almost 12 million women in the United States and more than 100 million women worldwide [1-2]. Typically referred to as “the pill”, oral contraception has an interesting history and has generated enormous social and cultural impact.

Subsequent to drug trials in the mid-1950’s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved birth control pills for contraceptive use in the U.S. in 1960. The first published case report of a blood clot and pulmonary embolism in a woman using birth control pills did not appear until November 1961 [3]. Between 1961 and 1963 there were 347 cases of thrombophlebitis (meaning vein inflammation related to a blood clot) in women using birth control pills for contraception that were reported to the manufacturer [4]. After almost 10 years of epidemiological studies, it was established that there is an increased risk of venous thrombosis (meaning a blood clot that forms in a vein) in oral contraceptive users and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack in oral contraceptive users who smoke or have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular or cerebrovascular risk factors.

Womens Health Zone recently posted an infographic surveying the changes that have resulted from the use of birth control pills. The infographic provides insight into statistics collected from PlannedParenthood.org on birth control over the last 50 years and is republished here on Highlight HEALTH below.

A look back at 50 years of birth controlCreative Commons License photo credit: Expedient InfoMedia


  1. Mosher et al. Use of contraception and use of family planning services in the United States: 1982-2002. Adv Data. 2004 Dec 10;(350):1-36.
    View Abstract
  2. Trussell, James (2007). “Contraceptive Efficacy”. in Hatcher, Robert A., et al.. Contraceptive Technology (19th rev. ed.). New York: Ardent Media.
  3. Jordan WM and Anand JK. Pulmonary embolism. Lancet. 1961 Nov 18;278(7212): 1146-7.
  4. Tyler ET. Oral contraception and venous thrombosis. JAMA. 1963 Jul 13;185(2):131-2.
    View Abstract