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Scheme to stop pregnant mother smoking shows positive results

Pregnant women in parts of Kent are among the most likely in the country - to smoke all the way through their pregnancy.

One in five women in Thanet and the coastal areas of Dover, Folkestone and Deal - continue to smoke despite expecting a baby.

But a new home visit scheme to help them to stop has been hailed such a success it will be rolled out across the county.

'Home doppler' ban petition: Top tips for mums-to-be on monitoring baby

There have been warnings today advising pregnant women not to use over-the-counter doppler devices to monitor their baby's health by themselves at home. The charity Kicks Count delivered a 12,000 signature petition to Downing Street today calling for a ban on selling them for at-home-use.

They say the 'home dopplers' give pregnant women a false sense of security, and that dopplers should only be used by trained medical staff who know how to interpret the data. One mother-to-be who delayed contacting her midwife told us her story and why she supports a ban. See Sam Holder's report here.

ITV Meridian presenter Sangeeta Bhabra spoke to Midwife Anna Nella, from the charity Tommy's which funds research into pregnancy problems and provides pregnancy health information for parents. Tommy's has also provided a dedicated page online with tips and advice for parents-to-be on monitoring reduced baby movements.

There is a wide range of 'home dopplers' on the market, many with warnings to users saying they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis


Mother urges 'home doppler' ban after losing baby

  • Watch Sam Holder speak with Vicki McNelly

A mother from Reading, who's baby was stillborn, is urging the government to ban the sale of 'home dopplers'.

The devices can be used to listen to the heartbeat of an unborn child.

Vicki McNelly delayed going to a midwife when she used a 'doppler' and heard sounds, believing her baby was alright.

Manufacturers of the devices say they are novelty items and shouldn't be used for medical or diagnostic reasons.

Vicki has joined Surrey charity 'Kicks Count' who are campaigning for the home devices to be banned, as they say it can create a false sense of security for pregnant women.

Pregnant women still facing discrimination at work

Pregnant women and new mums are still being discriminated against in the work place, a government report has highlighted.

Shocking figures from the Women and Equalities Committee, chaired by Basingstoke MP Maria Miller reveal that, since 2005, fifty four thousand women have been either dismissed, forced to take redundancy or treated badly at work. Charlotte Wilkins has been looking at the issue.

Leaving it later in life to start a new family

Video. More and more women are leaving it later in life to start a family. Now almost a third of all births in the South in 2012 were women aged 35 and over. That's despite fertility in women decreasing with age.

The figures have backed up the findings of a report by the Royal College of Midwives into the state of maternity services.

Charlotte Wilkins spoke to Kirsti Nicole Hadley, Cathy Warwick from the Royal College of Midwives, Claire Hughes-Jones from Brighton Mums and Jane Skelton from Sussex Downs Fertility Centre.

The freezing process in this video is a demonstration.

You can visit the Brighton Mums website by clicking here and Momma Loves, which is run by Kirsti Nicole by clicking here.


Children have strong muscles if mothers have Vitamin D

Researchers at the University of Southampton have discovered that more vitamin D during pregnancy gives children stronger muscles.

Low vitamin D status has been linked to reduced muscle strength in adults and children, but little is known about how variation in a mother’s status during pregnancy affects her child.

Vitamin D levels were measured in 678 mothers in the later stages of pregnancy. When the children were four years old, grip strength and muscle mass were measured. Results showed that the higher the levels of vitamin D in the mother, the higher the grip strength of the child.

Lead researcher Dr Nicholas Harvey, Senior Lecturer at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton said, “These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health.

"Muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures."

Children are more likely to have stronger muscles if their mothers had more Vitamin D Credit: Press Association

Mothers who eat more salmon could lower antibody levels

Eating salmon can affect breastmilk Credit: PA

Mothers who eat more salmon before giving birth boost levels of a vital nutrient in their breast milk, but could lower levels of disease-fighting antibodies they pass on while feeding their baby, researchers have found.

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon, are crucial during early childhood when they are needed for optimal growth and development. They help the growth of a baby's brain and eyes, and may also help the development of healthy blood vessels, heart, and immune system.

As a result, pregnant women are encouraged to eat one or two servings a week of certain kinds of oily fish known to provide high levels of omega-3.

However, very little is known about the influence of eating oily fish during pregnancy on the omega-3 fatty acid content of the mother's milk, and on immune substances, such as the antibodies passed from mother to baby during breastfeeding.

The protection against infection that this provides to vulnerable newborns is one of the reasons why breastfeeding is strongly recommended by health professionals in the first months after birth.

A European consortium of researchers, led by the University of Southampton and the University of Reading, collaboratively conducted a dietary intervention study in which pregnant women were randomly assigned to eat their normal diet, or one high in salmon.

Researchers found that those mothers that had eaten salmon during the latter stages of their pregnancy increased the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in milk during the first month after birth.

But it also lowered levels of secretory immunoglobulin-A (sIgA) - an important antibody that helps protect the newborn against infection.