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January 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Black to Life, Health

By Dr. Annette Mayes

Happy New Year!

Dr. Annette Mayes

Happy New Year! This month is special not only because we are ringing in 2013, but also because January marks “Birth Defects Prevention Month” and “Cervical Cancer Screening Month.”

For any woman that is expecting a baby, it is always important to take certain precautions to ensure their babies will be born healthy. For example, spina bifida and anencephaly are the two most common types of neural tube defects. Many studies have shown that if the mother of an unborn child has sufficient amounts of folic acid and B vitamins in her diet prior to and during pregnancy, the incidence of these conditions can be reduced.

I know that celebrations of the new year bring lots of joy in many ways, but it is strongly recommended that women protect their unborn children from fetal alcohol syndrome by completely abstaining from alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Some of my top tips for preventing birth defects include, but are not limited to: taking a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day; eating a healthy diet with folate-rich foods and foods that have been fortified with folic acid; avoiding alcohol; and scheduling pre-pregnancy health checkups.

Cervical Cancer Screening Month also reminds us of the importance of regular Pap smear exams, which can detect the early signs of the third-most common type of cancer.

Cervical cancer — which starts in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that opens at the top of the vagina — usually develops very slowly. The leading preventative measures are Pap smears performed by your gynecologist. A woman’s sexual habits and patterns can increase her risk for cervical cancer. Having sex at an early age — along with having multiple sexual partners who participate in high-risk sexual activities — can increase women’s chances to be diagnosed with the human papilloma virus that can lead to cervical cancer.

Early cervical cancer usually has no symptoms, but symptoms that may occur include:

• Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause.
• Continuous vaginal discharge, which may be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody or foul-smelling.
• Periods that become heavier and last longer than usual.

For your health and that of your unborn child, it is important to remember that you are in the prevention driver’s seat. For information about examinations, please contact the Las Vegas All Women’s Care offices at (702) 522-9640, or visit us at 700 Shadow Lane No. 165 (1st floor) in Las Vegas.


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