Pregnancy

breastfeeding
breastfeeding

Efforts to checkmate the rising cases of infant and child malnutrition across Nigeria are yet to achieve the goal.

Indicators reveal that although gradual progress is being made towards the goal, much remains to be done as indicators show that many Nigerian mothers are yet to understand the primary role of exclusive breastfeeding within the first six months of life in the bid to break the vicious cycle of malnutrition and poverty in the country.

According to the 2016- 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2016/17, MICS, Nigeria’s breastfeeding rate remains low overall with only 23.7 per cent of babies born in the country being breastfed exclusively.

It would be recalled that the World Health Organisation, WHO, and the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, recommend that infants should be breastfed within one hour of birth.

WHO and UNICEF also say infants should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life and be breastfed continuously for up to two years of age and beyond.

Based on the 2016/17 MICS, women in Northern Nigeria rank lowest in breastfeeding their children exclusively while women in the South-West zone lead in exclusive breastfeeding.

Health watchers are of the view that although the percentage of mothers exclusively breastfeeding their babies aged under six months, increased from 15.1 per cent to 23.7 per cent, it remains a major crack in the country’s efforts to stop malnutrition in children.

South-West leads

A further breakdown of the MICS showed that the South-West has the highest number of exclusively breastfed children with 43.9 per cent and 70.5 per cent predominantly breastfed while the North-West zone has the lowest number of children breastfed exclusively with only 18.5 per cent. About 56.6 per cent were predominantly breastfed.

The South-South zone followed with 27.2 per cent and 52.5 per cent exclusively and predominantly breastfed; South-East, 25.3 per cent and 47.8 per cent exclusively/predominantly breastfed; North-Central, 24.9 per cent and 45.8 per cent; North-East, 21.3 per cent and 50.4 per cent respectively.

The survey also found that out of the 60 per cent child deaths attributed directly and indirectly to undernutrition, two thirds of child deaths have been attributed to improper feeding during the first year of existence.

A comparative analysis of data from the MICS, conducted in 2007, 2011 and 2016/17, revealed that exclusive breastfeeding under six months has gradually improved consistently over the years in all states in the South- West zone and Edo State.

In a presentation entitled: The Situation of Children & Women in South-West States based on MICS data in the last 10 years (2007 – 2017), UNICEF’s Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, Specialist, Mr Niyi Olaleye, observed that exclusive breastfeeding is positively related with mother’s education, wealth status and is now practised more in urban areas.

According to Olaleye, data from the MICS showed that in the South- West zone, Ogun and Ondo states recorded the lowest rates over the years while Osun recorded the most improvement rising from 12.5 per cent in 2007, 40.7 per cent (2011) to 55.3 per cent (2016/17).

In the South-West zone, according to the 2016/17 MICS, the average rate of infants under six months old who are exclusively breastfed is 43.9 per cent, with the highest rate occurring in Lagos at 51.8 per cent, and lowest in Ondo at 23.5 per cent.

From the 2007 and 2011 MICS, average rates of infants under six months old exclusively breastfed were 17.1 per cent, and 27.0 per cent, respectively. Rates for Lagos were 20.0 per cent (2007) and 28.1 per cent (2011), while corresponding rates for Ondo were 14.3 per cent, (2007) and 8.6 per cent (2011).

Quoting the MICS, Olaleye said more women with a live birth in the last two years across the South- West zone are putting their last newborn to the breast within one hour of birth, especially in Ogun. He said early initiation of breastfeeding is practised more in Edo and improved consistently in Ondo.

WHO recommendation

According to the WHO, breastfeeding is vital to a child’s lifelong health and reduces costs for health facilities, families, and governments. Breastfeeding within the first hour of birth protects newborn babies from infections and saves lives.

WHO maintains that infants are at greater risk of death due to diarrhoea and other infections when they are only partially breastfed or not breastfed at all.

Breastfeeding also improves IQ, school readiness and attendance, and is associated with higher income in adult life. It also reduces the risk of breast cancer in the mother.

The world health body also found that breastfeeding all babies for the first two years would save the lives of more than 820,000 children under age five annually.

In the views of UNICEF Evaluation expert, Maureen Zubie-Okolo, during a media dialogue on MICS 5 2017 and Data- Driven Reporting, education is one of the most important tool in encouraging and promoting the campaign for 100 per cent attainment of exclusive breastfeeding by all mothers in Nigeria.

She said a key finding in the survey showed that 41.0 per cent of children under five in the country were exclusively breastfed by mothers who had attained one form of higher education or the other.

Zubie-Okolo said the survey found that 30.6 per centof the children were exclusively breastfed by mothers who completed their secondary school education, 20.8 per cent was attributed to mothers who only attended primary school, 16.9 per cent of the children were born to women who had non-formal education and 19.6 per cent were breastfed by mothers who had no access to any form of education.

She noted that a mother’s education has a great impact on the nutritional status of the child, as children born by mothers who were either unable to attain any form of education or only had access to lower education, were the ones mostly faced with issues of malnutrition.

“The survey proves that with more number of educated mothers in the country, the higher the chances of an increased percentage of children exclusively breastfed as a result of access to adequate information and a better understanding of the benefits of feeding a child with only breast milk within the first six months after birth.

She said exclusive breastfeeding is key to fighting child malnutrition as it is more resilient in fighting malnutrition.

What breastfeeding is

UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Mrs. Ada Ezeogu said breastfeeding simply means feeding of an infant or young child with breast milk rather than using infant formula or any other milk from baby bottle while exclusive breastfeeding means giving the baby only breast milk for the first six months of his life without water or any form of liquid.

Ezeogu regretted that achieving exclusive breastfeeding has remained a challenge in the country because of the practice of adding water to breastfeeding. “Most parents see breast like any other food that you eat and drink water at the end but the breast milk has enough water to meet the needs of the child. It contains all the nutrients that a child needs to grow and survive and, in fact, over 88 per cent of the breast milk is water. So you don’t need to add any water for the baby, otherwise, you will be taking the space of the nutrients from the milk in the baby’s stomach.”

She encouraged mothers to ensure that babies that are less than six months do not take water, adding that, “if you give water, the baby will not be able to get sufficient milk and nutrient requirements and he will be malnourished.

“In addition to water, breast milk contains nutrients such as protein, vitamins, iron, minerals and fats, etc. What stands breast milk out? Of the eight major preventive interventions for child development and survival, analysis showed that exclusive breastfeeding has the most impact.

Ezeogu who noted that breastfeeding alone could contribute 13 per cent reduction in child mortality, added that breastfeeding is at the very top of interventions for child survival.

“Babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives have lower risk of respiratory infection, urinary tract infections, ear infections (acute otitis media), fewer bouts of diarrhoea and sudden infant death syndrome. Sudden infant death is unexplainable death of children.

“Breastfeeding also protects the baby from chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes mellitus. Also, the breast milk contains antibodies that are transferred to the baby. The benefits are not only pronounced in childhood but also in adulthood. It has been proven that children that are exclusively breastfed has higher IQ than those not breastfed. The longer you breastfeed the child, the less chances of his suffering from depression and attention issues when he becomes an adult.”

Infertility in women above the age of forty can almost always be contributed to menopause, but if you’re in your twenties and thirties and struggling to conceive, there are a number of other causes.

Menopause can’t be ruled out. Premature menopause, while uncommon, does occur in certain women. This is usually genetic. If close family had premature menopause, that trait is likely to be passed along.

Premature menopause will have all the normal symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness. Women with premature menopause can no longer conceive with their own eggs, but can still have children using donor eggs. In cases like this, IVF can be used with a donor egg and sperm before being placed into the menopausal woman’s body. This will result in a normal pregnancy. Women interested in this procedure can visit a fertility clinic to learn more about IVF.

The most common cause of infertility is a condition known as anovulation. This means that the ovaries do not release any eggs. This condition is easily treated using ovulation inducing medicine and is often not a serious health concern. Roughly forty percent of infertile women have this condition.

Women who suffer from endometriosis will often suffer from terrible pain during their menstruation and the effects of this condition can lead to infertility as well. Many women aren’t diagnosed with endometriosis because they believe the pain they feel during their menstruation is normal. When left untreated, endometriosis can cause scar tissue and lesions to form outside the uterus, leading to a decrease in fertility and even more pain. It’s best to see a doctor as soon as possible to prevent damage, but most of the effects of endometriosis can be alleviated with surgery.

Another cause of infertility is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This is a hormone disorder that hinders the ability of the ovaries to release eggs. This disorder can be treated with medication, but studies have suggested that a healthy lifestyle can work just as well. Overweight women are prone to this disorder due to their unhealthy lifestyles and most fertility doctors would recommend a diet plan and regular exercise before they would resort to prescribing medication.

Another reason for this is the risks involved with being pregnant while overweight. The risks are numerous for mother and child in the case that a heavily overweight woman does manage to conceive.

Still not sure what might be the cause of your infertility? Visit a fertility clinic to be properly diagnosed. In many cases, the problem isn’t with your uterus, but with your partner’s sperm. Most infertility problems can be solved with IVF treatment (with your own egg or with a donor egg). There are treatments or medication available for each of the causes mentioned above and others that were not mentioned. The best way to know what steps you need to take is by talking to a medical health care professional. Don’t attempt to self-diagnose.

A lot of women suffer from midlife crisis. This is usually characterized with low libido and vaginal dryness. Problems like these can put sex on the backseat. It’s hardly surprising that most women lose their desire to have sex in the middle age. An excessively dry vagina can make intercourse extremely painful. Not just this, women going through this problem experience constant burning sensation in the vagina leaving them with little desire to have sex.

Lack of sex can eventually take a toll on your relationship. After all, your man needs to be satisfied sexually and if you are not able to do so, he might look for other alternatives.

Fortunately, it is possible to get rid of this problem naturally and safely.

Here are some simple ways to get rid of menopause or vaginal dryness:

1. Boost EstrogenEstrogen Production in Your Body

One of the main causes of vaginal dryness is a drop in the production of your female sex hormone estrogen. This is the hormone that keeps walls of your vagina thick and moist. A drop in its production post menopause makes vaginal walls thin dry.

Thus, by increasing estrogen production, you can get over this problem. One of the best ways to do so is with the help of foods that are known for their estrogen boosting effects. Soy and products are the best examples of such foods. Some of the others include flaxseed, sesame seeds, chickpeas, beans, peas etc.

Moreover, you must also include essential fats in your diet since your body needs such fats for the production of hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Olives, olive oil, and fish like tuna, salmon etc. are the best sources of such fats.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Dehydration can also cause your vagina to get dry. If you want to alleviate vaginal dryness and enhance natural lubrication, you must drink plenty of water so as to keep your body well hydrated. At the same time, avoid drinks that have caffeine in them since they can also result in dehydration.

3. Try a Natural Lubricating Gel

One of the best and most effective ways to make sex fun again without worrying about issues like low libido and menopause dryness is by using a natural lubricating gel.

With rates of successful conceptions dropping rapidly across the western world, and expensive IVF treatments becoming increasingly more common, there has never been a better time to empower women in taking control of their circumstances by ensuring that their bodies are vibrant and healthy while trying to conceive. Here are top 3 takeaways for improving your chances of falling pregnant.

1. Reduce Stress

Stress can be a major influencing factor when it comes to conception. In fact, if you’re struggling to fall pregnant, you may have already received advice along the lines of, “Just let yourself relax and it will happen.” As condescending as this may feel, there may actually be some truth to it.

The hypothalamus is the part of your brain that is responsible for regulating emotions, appetite and the hormones that cause your ovaries to release eggs. If you’re stressed, there’s a chance that your ovulation will occur later than it should; or not at all. Therefore, if you’re currently planning intimate moments based on your ovulation cycle, you may be missing that window of opportunity.

Negative stress isn’t the only type of stress that can affect ovulation; positive stress such as the stress associated with a wedding or planning a vacation can also result in a similar outcome. Naturally, these situations vary from woman to woman, with some finding that even a minor disruption in their routine can change their cycle, while others can experience high levels of stress without noticing any effect at all. While stress may impact the time at which you ovulate, it generally won’t diminish your overall chances of falling pregnant. If you know how to identify where you are in your cycle, there’s still a good chance of successful conception.

2. Increase Your Intake Of Good Fats

Worryingly, most supermarket shelves these days are littered with “97% Fat-Free” and “Reduced Fat” products which are the antithesis of a wholesome, natural fertility diet. Marketing and misinformation are the driving forces behind our society’s collective ignorance in this area, and yet good quality fats are one of the most fundamental factors in preparing your body for pregnancy. A Harvard University Nurses’ Health study found that the more low-fat products a woman consumed, the less likely she was to fall pregnant; while women who consumed full-fat foods increased their chances noticeably. In 2010, a similar Dutch study showed that women who consume a Mediterranean-style diet (naturally high in good quality fats) increase their chances of falling pregnant by up to 40%.

Good fats are essential in creating hormones that maintain the function of a female’s reproductive system. When women start consuming a low-fat diet, their estrogen levels drop which has the potential to severely disrupt their menstrual cycle.

As you might be aware, not all fats are created equal, and therefore it is important to select the right types of fats to incorporate into your diet. Avoid any processed fats and aim for products that are available in their natural state such as eggs, whole dairy products, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and carefully sourced fish products.

3. Eliminating Chemical Intake

Thanks to our species’ apparent desire to pollute whatever natural landscapes we enter, synthetic chemicals can be found in almost every environment – the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. Reducing your body’s intake of chemicals involves much more than just “going organic” or throwing out the aerosol deodorant; it’s a full-scale lifestyle change and one that can dramatically affect your chances of falling pregnant.

Let’s start with the obvious – eating organic food. If a woman is consuming fruits and veggies that are covered in pesticides, meat products that have been pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones, and heavily processed snack foods; their body is not going to be the pristine environment in which a new life should be nurtured. Eating local, organic produce and free range, grass fed meats is an excellent way to start reducing the amount of toxicity in your body in preparation for falling pregnant.

The water that you consume can also have a substantial impact on your wellbeing and the overall level of toxicity in your body. Most tap water in the U.S. contains chlorine, chloramine (the nastier version of chlorine) and fluoride – none of which are great for your health. Most bottled water, on the other hand, is full of BPA, an endocrine-disrupting chemical which is definitely not something you want infiltrating your reproductive system. The best option for clean water is either carefully sourced spring water in BPA-free bottles or a good quality filter for your tap.

The final stage of decreasing your chemical intake is to scrutinize the body care products, cleaning products, and other general household products that you’re using. Today, most of these products are a toxic cocktail of synthetic compounds which we have been told to rub into our skin and apply to our home environment without a second thought for the impact it might be having on our bodies. You can find natural alternatives to all of these products in most health food stores and online.

Trying to fall pregnant can be a nerve-racking experience for many couples and at the end of the day, you need to make choices that feel right for you. Being a parent is the most rewarding thing you will ever experience, so enjoy the journey and cherish every moment!

A gynaecologist at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, Dr Omuku Samuel, has said women at menopause can still bear children with the aid of Invitro- Fertilisation.

Samuel in Yenagoa on Wednesday explained that the oestrogen of such women that were lost could be regenerated medically to keep them healthy and strong to bear children again.

She said, “The IVF process is not difficult. It is normally carried out with the help of doctors.

The process is by joining the female and male sperms together; this can help the persons to have many kids as they want.

Menopause does not start suddenly, it occurs gradually and it can take up to five years before it can be noticed.

Menopause starts between the ages of 45 and 55 in a woman. Yes, there are some components that make the woman look younger like the oestrogen hormones.

Once a woman lacks such component, her breast and vagina become dry.

It is the oestrogen that maintains the woman’s private part; signs of menopause include waist and back pain, heat and hot flashes.

I am advising women with menopause not to lose hope because IVF can make them reproduce children again.”

Your choice of partner can affect your health in many ways, both positively and negatively. Anything from their exercise habits and working hours to their personality can have an impact on your well-being. We investigate the surprising ways that your significant other can affect your health.

Whether you are in a new relationship or a long-term one, newlyweds or celebrating your golden wedding anniversary, a same-sex couple or of the opposite sex, the time spent with your partner can influence your health outcomes.

Having a healthy relationship is not only rewarding, but it also significantly shapes our long-term health in a similar way to getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthfully, and not smoking. Studies have shown, time and time again, that people who are in satisfying relationships feel happier, have fewer problems with health, and live longer.

On the flip side, having unhealthy connections or a lack of social ties is linked to depression, cognitive decline, and an increased risk of premature death.

Here are some of the beneficial and detrimental effects that your relationship could have on your well-being.

Positive effects of a partner on health

Pain relief

woman in labor holding partner's hand
A partner’s touch has been found to relieve pain in women.

It is well known that people subconsciously synchronize their footsteps when they walk together or mirror a friend’s posture during a conversation.

Investigators from the University of Colorado, Boulder and the University of Haifa in Israel have now discovered that when heterosexual lovers touch when the woman is in pain, couples’ heart rates and respiratory patterns synchronize and the woman’s pain dissipates.

These findings add to a growing body of evidence on “interpersonal synchronization,” a phenomenon in which people begin to physiologically mirror those that they spend time with. “The more empathic the partner and the stronger the analgesic effect, the higher the synchronization between the two when they are touching,” explains lead author Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Help achieve healthy goals

Two heads are better than one when it comes to taking up healthy habits. Funded by Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, and the National Institute on Aging, scientists at University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom revealed that if you want to swap bad habits for good, then you would be more successful if your partner also makes those changes.

Among women who smoked, the researchers found that 50 percent succeeded in quitting smokingif their partner gave up at the same time, compared with 17 percent whose partners were non-smokers already, and just 8 percent whose partners smoked regularly.

“Unhealthy lifestyles are a leading cause of death from chronic disease worldwide,” says study author Prof. Jane Wardle, director of Cancer Research UK’s Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL. “The key lifestyle risks are smoking, excess weight, physical inactivity, poor diet, and alcohol consumption. Swapping bad habits for good ones can reduce the risk of disease, including cancer.”

Improve fitness

Echoing these findings, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, conducted research finding that improving your fitness could also improve the fitness of your spouse.

Couples were asked about their physical activity levels at two medical visits conducted around 6 years apart. On the first visit, if a wife met the recommended guidelines for physical activity, her husband was 70 percent more likely to also reach those targets at subsequent visits than those whose wives were less active.

Conversely, when a husband met recommended activity levels, his wife was 40 percent more likely to also achieve these levels at follow-up visits.

When it comes to physical fitness, the best peer pressure to get moving could be coming from the person who sits across from you at the breakfast table,” says co-author Laura Cobb, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “There’s an epidemic of people in this country who don’t get enough exercise, and we should harness the power of the couple to ensure people are getting a healthy amount of physical activity.”

Alter microbiome

man standing in the shower
Microbial exchange with your partner can occur simply from walking on the same bathroom floor.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada found that couples who live together influence the microbiome – that is, the community of bacteria and other microbes – on each other’s skin.

Commonalities between couples’ skin microbiome were strong enough that computer algorithms could detect couples that cohabit with an accuracy of 86 percent.

Skin regions that were the most similar between partners were on the couples’ feet. “In hindsight, it makes sense,” says Prof. Josh Neufeld, of the Faculty of Science in the Department of Biology at the University of Waterloo. “You shower and walk on the same floor barefoot. This process likely serves as a form of microbial exchange with your partner, and also with your home itself.”

Improve physical and mental health

While analyzing whether or not relationships are good for your health, David and John Gallacher, from Cardiff University in the U.K., confirmed that long-term, committed relationships are good for physical and psychological health, and that these benefits increase over time.

On average, individuals who are married live longer; women have better mental health when they are in committed relationships, while men have better physical health when in a committed relationship. The study authors say, “On balance it probably is worth making the effort.”

Decrease risk of health conditions

Studies have shown that partners can also affect each other’s risk and development of disease.

woman and man arguing
Persistent nagging from your partner could slow down diabetes progression.

For example, a study by Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing deduced that for men who are in an unhappy marriage, the development of diabetes is slower and treatment is more successful once they are diagnosed.

The researchers said that wives who continuously regulate their husband’s health behaviors and who are seen as annoying and provoking hostility and emotional distress in the husbands could explain this finding.

The study challenges the traditional assumption that negative marital quality is always detrimental to health,” says lead investigator Hui Liu, an associate professor of sociology at MSU. “It also encourages family scholars to distinguish different sources and types of marital quality. Sometimes, nagging is caring.”

Researchers from the University of Michigan have also determined that having an optimistic spouse predicted fewer chronic illnesses and better mobility over time.

A growing body of research shows that the people in our social networks can have a profound influence on our health and well-being,” says lead study author Eric Kim, a doctoral student in the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychology. “This is the first study to show that someone else’s optimism could be impacting your own health.”

In other research, people who are happily wed are more than three times as likely to be alive 15 years after coronary bypass surgery as their unmarried counterparts. Married people also are less likely to have cardiovascular problems than individuals who are single, divorced, or widowed.

Adverse effects of a partner on health

Intensify pain

In contrast to the research that showed a partner’s touch decreases pain, a study by King’s College London in the U.K. found that being in the company of your partner could make pain worse.

The researchers found that the more avoidant of closeness women were in their relationships, the more pain they experienced when given a laser pulse on their finger.

Research led by the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. also found a connection between partners and pain. The team found that partners of individuals with depression have an increased risk of experiencing chronic pain.

The researchers’ analysis showed that depression and chronic pain share common causes. Some of these causes are genetic while others stem from the environment shared by the partners.

Derail your diet

healthy eating plan
Dieting with your partner could end up derailing your weight loss plans.

Dieting with your partner may seem to be a good idea, but research has indicated that among romantic couples, the more successful one partner is at restricting their diet and eating more healthfully, the less confident the other partner becomes at controlling their food portions.

When people strive to reach a goal, being close (in this case, romantically) with someone who is successfully reaching the same goal can make the other partner less confident in their own efforts to reach the goal,” explains Jennifer Jill Harman, an associate professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Facilitate weight gain

Marriage has been positively correlated with weight gain among couples. For example, lead researcher Andrea L. Meltzer – an assistant professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX – and collaborators unveiled that newlyweds who are satisfied with their marriage are more likely to gain weight in the early years of marriage than those who are unsatisfied.

“On average, spouses who were more satisfied with their marriage were less likely to consider leaving their marriage, and they gained more weight over time,” states Prof. Meltzer. “In contrast, couples who were less satisfied in their relationship tended to gain less weight over time.

Other research by the University of Bath’s School of Management in the U.K. showed that marriage makes men gain weight and that fatherhood exacerbates the problem further.

Increase risk of health conditions

In contrast with research signalling that your significant other can decrease your risk of certain health conditions, other studies show the reverse.

For example, the McGill University Health Centre in Canada has suggested that if someone has type 2 diabetes, their partner has a 26 percent increased risk of also developing the condition.

While spouses are not related biologically, they share the same environment, social habits, and eating and exercising patterns – all of which are factors that alter the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“When we talk about family history of type 2 diabetes, we generally assume that the risk increase that clusters in families results from genetic factors. What our analyses demonstrate is that risk is shared by spouses,” says senior study author Kaberi Dasgupta, of the Research Institute at McGill University.

a couple sitting on the bed ignoring each other
Giving your spouse the silent treatment increases your risk of back pain and stiff muscles.

Furthermore, the way that you react to disagreements and argue with your partner could predict health problems later in life. The University of California, Berkeley, and Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, revealed that fits of rage during marital spats can predict cardiovascular problems, and shutting down and giving the silent treatment raises the risk of a bad back or stiff muscles.

“Conflict happens in every marriage, but people deal with it in different ways. Some of us explode with anger; some of us shut down,” says lead study author Claudia Haase, an assistant professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University. “Our study shows that these different emotional behaviours can predict the development of different health problems in the long run.”

Research has also indicated that individuals may unintentionally worsen their partner’s insomnia. Moreover, other research found that inflammation markers rise in tired partners who argue.

Additionally, in older adults, researchers learned that the frailer an individual – a condition that affects around 10 percent of those aged 65 and over – the more likely it is that they will become depressed. Equally, the more depressed an older person is, the frailer they will become.

What is more, people married to frail spouses had an increased risk of becoming frail themselves, and those married to a depressed partner were also more likely to become depressed.

And interestingly, health changes influenced by a romantic partner do not necessarily end when they pass away.

Kyle Bourassa, a psychology doctoral student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and colleagues found that couples’ qualities of life are linked even when one partner dies.

The people we care about continue to influence our quality of life even when they are gone. We found that a person’s quality of life is as interwoven with and dependent on their deceased spouse’s earlier quality of life as it is with a person they may see every day.

Kyle Bourassa

Bourassa says that even though we have lost the people we love, they remain with us. The research highlights how important relationships are for our health and well-being. However, he does say that the findings are cut both ways. “If a participant’s quality of life was low prior to his or her death, then this could take a negative toll on the partner’s later quality of life as well.”

If you have been unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for more than six months, before you embark on an invasive medical procedure and spend thousands of naira for assisted reproductive technology, ensure that your thyroid is functioning at its optimum.

Many women don’t realise that good thyroid function is necessary for fertility, the ability to conceive and to maintain a pregnancy.  A low or hyper-functioning thyroid gland can prevent you from achieving that much desired pregnancy. While there are many and varied reasons for infertility, suboptimal thyroid function may be that “missing link” – especially for those with no specific reproductive problems.

A full thyroid evaluation is essential and it should be done as soon as possible for any woman who wants to get pregnant, especially if she has any of the following:

The thyroid gland is located near the front of the throat, just below the voice box and just above the collar bones. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of the body’s metabolism, blood calcium levels, energy production, fat metabolism, oxygen utilisation, balance of other hormones and weight maintenance.

If the pituitary gland is the headmaster of all endocrine glands that produce all hormones, the thyroid gland is like the deputy headmaster.

Hormones involved with thyroid function include Thyroid-Releasing Hormone from the hypothalamus in the brain, which stimulates the pituitary gland at the base of the brain to release Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone. The latter in turn stimulates the thyroid gland to produce Thyroxine and Triiodothyronine.

Much of T4 is converted to T3 (the active form) in the liver. Thyroid hormones are synthesised from iodine and the amino acid Tyrosine (from protein), and the conversion to the active form is reliant on the trace mineral selenium.

Healthy thyroid function can be affected by exposure to environmental toxins – electromagnetic radiation, chemicals and pesticides, heavy metals like mercury, lead and fluoride.

Other factors that disrupt normal thyroid functions include genetic susceptibility, high levels of stress, nutrient deficiencies, eating the wrong type of food, auto-immune disorders, infections and other hormone imbalances, such as estrogen dominance and high prolactin levels.

How does hypothyroidism affect fertility?

Anovulatory cycles – In this case the person is having a menstrual cycle but not releasing an egg (ovulating).  This makes pregnancy impossible.

Luteal phase problems – A person with a short second half of the menstrual cycle who gets a fertilised egg after intercourse will discover that such fertilised egg cannot implant securely and ends up leaving the body at the same time that menstruation would occur (very early miscarriage) and is often mistaken as a regular period.

High prolactin levels – due to elevated levels of Thyroid-Releasing Hormone and low levels of Thyroxine resulting in irregular ovulation or no ovulation.

Other hormonal imbalances – reduced sex hormone binding globulin, estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, all of which interfere with proper reproductive hormone balance.

A new study supports the notion that thyroid disorders can cause significant reproductive problems for women.

The report’s authors believe that testing for thyroid disease should be considered for women who have fertility problems and repeated early pregnancy loss.

Hypothyroidism is also associated with an increased risk of polycystic ovarian disease, a condition that causes cysts on the ovaries and inhibits pregnancy.

The research, published in The Obstetrician and Gynecologist, found that 2.3 per cent of women with fertility problems had an overactive thyroid compared with 1.5 per cent of those in the general population. The condition is also linked with menstrual irregularity, the researchers said.

Abnormalities in thyroid function can have an adverse effect on reproductive health and result in reduced rates of conception, increased miscarriage risk and adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes,” said study co-author Amanda Jefferys in a news release.

She is a researcher from the Bristol Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Southmead Hospital in Bristol, England. We have noticed a strong link between hypo- and hyperthyroidism and infertility as well as adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes for over two decades.

Consequently, routine screening of the general population for thyroid dysfunction at the start of pregnancy and especially when seeking fertility treatment or struggling with miscarriage, it is highly recommended by experts.

The thyroid produces hormones that play key roles in growth and development. According to the British researchers, changes in thyroid function can have a major effect on reproductive function before, during and after conception.

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) affects about 0.5 per cent of women of reproductive age. In children and teens, the condition is associated with a delay in reaching sexual maturity, according to published reports.

In adult women, hypothyroidism is linked with menstrual problems and a lack of ovulation in some cases.

The researchers also noted that thyroid disease is associated with an increased risk of problems during pregnancy, including miscarriage, preeclampsia, poor fetal growth, premature birth and stillbirth.

The thyroid evaluation can be done in any good laboratory and then interpreted by a doctor or better still an endocrinologist. There are  also new techniques using bio-energetic testing to determine whether the thyroid gland is stressed or weak at the preclinical state before it becomes pathological.

Finally, a good diet with iodide salt and good multivitamin supplement can provide a protection for the thyroid function.

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Malaria in pregnancy should be considered a medical emergency as it does more harm to the fetus than envisaged, the Head, Case Management Branch, National Malaria Elimination Programme, Dr. Godson Ntadom has said.

He noted that while malaria parasites in non pregnant persons feed on nutrients from the red blood cell of its host, that of pregnant women prefers to stay in the placenta where it feeds on the nutrients meant to supply the fetus because of its richness, thereby starving the fetus to death.

Speaking during the NMEP, Health Communication Capacity Collaboration and Health Editors interactive section in Lagos recently, he said, “during the period the parasites are feeding on the nutrients coming into the placenta meant for the fetus, the woman will not feel the signs of malaria because technically the placenta is not part of her body. It is when the parasites are full and satisfied that they now move into the woman’s blood stream, and at which point, she will start noticing malaria symptoms.”

Ntadom said it was a medical emergency because the point the woman starts noticing malaria signs means the parasites have starved the fetus of its needed developmental nutrients and are satisfied with the placenta.

“By this time they will then move to the woman’s blood where she will start filling the symptoms of the disease. There is a high possibility that at this point the damage may have been done to the fetus. That is why it is a medical emergency to see if the situation can be remedied,” he added.

He said contrary to popular belief that anti-malaria drugs were not good for treating malaria in pregnancy, the medical expert said it was the parasites that kill the fetus and not the drugs.

“Often times, pregnant women start treating malaria when they start noticing malaria signs, but what most people don’t know is that before a pregnant woman start noticing the symptoms, the parasites must have done damage to the fetus through feeding on the placenta. It is when the parasite is done with the placenta (probably damaged the fetus) that the woman can start noticing signs,” Ntadom said.

Meanwhile, Ntadom has reiterated Federal Government’s earlier decision to ban the use of Chloroquine and mono-therapy drugs for the treatment of malaria in Nigeria.

He said the emphasis on the ban on Chloroquine and mono-therapy drugs were necessary as some persons still sell them to unsuspecting patients.

“Apart from mono-therapy injections which are used for treatment of severe malaria, its drugs and Chloroquine have long been banned by government. It is a criminal offense for any health personnel to sell them to patients,” he added.

In the same vein, he said Nigerians do not need medicines for the prevention of malaria, adding that only pregnant women and foreigners should be given such recommendations.

“The one presently recommended now is Malarone which is a combination of two medicines and it is for foreigners who probably would be staying in the country for a short time.

He said the citizens were free to visit NMEP website www.ncmp.gov.ng for informations on malaria in Nigeria.