Dr. Kecia Gaither Cautions Mothers on Fables and Facts with Babies, Bottles and Booze

NEW YORK, Feb. 07, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Bringing a child into the world can be a scary endeavor and getting the health facts straight about what to consume or avoid during pregnancy and after the baby is born can be overwhelming. Contradicting health headlines and commentary-filled social media feeds bombard expectant mothers with fears and concerns they may have never considered. Double board-certified physician in OB-GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine, Dr. Kecia Gaither, cautions mothers on fables and facts when it comes to these critical issues on babies, bottles and booze:

Fable: A Little Wine is Fine
Fact: Have a Mocktail Instead
Prenatal exposure to alcohol is the leading preventable cause of birth defects in the United States and several negative effects of alcohol regarding babies are grouped together under the term fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). There is no type or amount of alcohol that is safe to consume when it comes FASDs, which can result in small head size, short stature, clumsiness, hyperactivity, poor attention span, delayed speech and language, learning disabilities, low IQ, visual defects or hearing defects, as well as heart, kidney or bone defects. Any woman who becomes pregnant, or is pregnant, should avoid alcohol completely.  The important thing to remember is that during pregnancy, alcohol can move across the placenta, and is toxic to the developing fetus. In large amounts, it can cause serious damage. Whereas with breastfeeding, the alcohol does not transfer straight into the breast milk. Erring on the side of caution is best when considering alcohol consumption while breastfeeding. A baby’s brain is developing rapidly in the first year of life so it’s advisable to provide the best opportunity possible for high-functioning development and stay as pure as feasible while breastfeeding.

Fable: Breast Is Best
Fact: Formula is Fine (and carrageenan is vital)
Yes, as the familiar mantra goes, “breast is best,” but it’s not the only nutritious option for baby, and new mothers should not fret if they have to supplement with formula or use it exclusively. Especially single mothers, who may not have much support for infant care, should not be concerned that they are providing a subpar nutrition plan to their child. Another scare tactic used against mothers regarding formula is that it contains an ingredient called carrageenan that food-fear mongers claim is not safe.  This could not be further from the truth. Carrageenan is a naturally occurring ingredient that is extracted from edible red seaweed and used in infant formula to make sure vital nutrients remain mixed throughout the formula and do not settle to the bottom. This is especially important for babies who are fussy and may not drink an entire bottle in one feeding. Not only is carrageenan vital in infant formula, it’s used in many food products we eat daily, including chocolate milk, ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, coffee beverages, creamers, salad dressings, soy and almond milk, various organic and plant-based foods, plus it’s in the nori (seaweed) that wraps your favorite sushi. In fact, carrageenan is what gives seaweed its structure. Not only has the FDA reviewed the scientific research on carrageenan’s safety, so have many respected scientists whom have concluded, and detailed the reasons why, carrageenan is safe, while noting misleading and flawed information that continues to circulate. Current human clinical research suggests carrageenan may play a role in lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation and fighting colds and viruses. The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations World Health Organization, the WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, have all confirmed carrageenan’s safety. Further, carrageenan-containing seaweeds are sustainably harvested and responsible for employing 75,000 family seaweed farmers in developing economies around the world; which is another good reason to feel good about feeding your baby infant formula.

Gaither is Director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health+Hospitals/Lincoln. As a perinatal consultant and women’s health expert, Gaither’s expertise is grounded in both research and her professional experience in caring for women with diabetes, HIV and obesity in pregnancy. This Black History Month, The Harlem Fine Arts Show has selected Gaither as a hero and leader in their annual salute to African Americans in Medicine. She will be honored on Feb. 15, at the Historic Riverside Church in New York. Tickets can be purchased at: http://www.hfas.org or call 646-851-7595. Celebrate with Gaither at this event or engage with her @KeciaGaitherMD or https://keciagaither.com.



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