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Preterm birth is when a baby is born at less than 37 weeks' gestation. These babies are generally more ill and are less likely to survive than babies born at term. Preterm babies are also more likely to have some disability, and the earlier the baby is born the more likely they are to have problems. Even short‐term postponement of preterm birth can improve outcomes for babies, as this gives time for the mother to be given a steroid injection to help develop the baby's lungs prior to birth. Short‐term postponement of preterm birth may also give the chance to transfer the mother, if required, to somewhere where there is more expert care for the baby available.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: November 5, 2015

Pregnancy can be seen as a window of opportunity where women may seek treatment for their addictions out of concern for their unborn child. Worldwide estimates of alcohol usage report that a large proportion of women continue to drink during their pregnancy. Light alcohol consumption has not been associated with adverse effects on a woman's baby, while excessive consumption of alcohol has been shown to cause a number of birth defects as well as foetal alcohol syndrome. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is the most widely recognized cause of severe mental and developmental delay in the baby. Therefore pregnancy is an important point in time to treat women for their alcohol dependence. This review sought to find all trials which compared any psychosocial intervention to other treatment or no treatment for pregnant or postpartum women in alcohol treatment. No articles were found which fit our inclusion criteria; most trials assessed psychosocial interventions to reduce alcohol consumption in pregnant or reproductive age women, not pregnant or post‐partum women in alcohol treatment. We defined alcohol treatment as when the authors stated the women were in alcohol treatment or any validated psychosocial intervention for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Control trials need to be performed on this population of women to determine the most effective therapy for pregnant women seeking treatment for their alcohol dependence.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: July 16, 2008

Not enough information on home visiting in pregnancy and after the birth for women with an alcohol or drug problem.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: January 18, 2012

Programs offering additional support during pregnancy were not effective in reducing number of babies born too early and babies with low birthweights.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: June 16, 2010

Smoking, drinking excess alcohol, poor nutrition and other lifestyle factors can lead to poor outcomes for mothers and babies. The provision of routine health promotion (including advice and education and sometimes screening tests) before conception may encourage changes to improve health, and may be an opportunity to identify risk factors such as infection that can be treated before pregnancy begins. The review looks at randomised controlled trials examining routine health promotion before pregnancy to see whether it changes behaviour and leads to improved health for mothers and babies. Four trials with 2300 women provided information for the review. The health promotion offered to women in these studies ranged from very brief advice on a specific topic through to more general advice and education on health and lifestyle over several sessions. In only one study were women followed up through pregnancy and there was little evidence of any differences between groups, although the babies of women who had received the health promotion intervention had slightly lower birthweights. There was some evidence that health promotion interventions encourage women to have more healthy lifestyles, such as lower rates of binge drinking. Overall, there was little evidence on the effects of pre‐pregnancy health promotion on the health of mothers and babies, and more evidence is needed before its widespread implementation can be recommended.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: October 7, 2009

Ultrasound is a routine part of prenatal care offered to pregnant women in most countries with developed health services. It is used during prenatal care to help achieve a healthy mother and child. Pregnant women want reassurance and to check that all is normal by verifying fetal life and growth and to exclude fetal abnormalities. The parents are given immediate access to the images of the fetus, which may promote maternal attachment and positive attitudes toward health during the pregnancy. The obstetricians can identify high‐risk conditions including multiple pregnancy, abnormalities of amniotic fluid volume and the placenta, fetal anomalies and growth restriction. During high‐feedback ultrasound scans, women can see the screen and they receive detailed explanations of the images. In low‐feedback ultrasound scans, only the operator can see the screen and the women are told the results at the end of the scan. High feedback might reduce pregnancy anxiety but it can impact both ways, not only adding excessive stress on the pregnant women and their partners but also on the physicians, especially when there is the possibility of an abnormal finding. We carried out this systematic review to compare high feedback versus low feedback during prenatal ultrasound for reducing maternal anxiety and improving maternal health behaviour and other pregnancy outcomes.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: August 4, 2015

This review aims to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for relieving heartburn in pregnancy. Interventions include advice on diet, lifestyle modification, medications and complementary therapies.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: September 19, 2015

Pregnancy is a time of change, especially if it's your first. Parents-to-be may have feelings ranging from joy and hope to worries and anxiety: How will everything go? What will life with a baby be like?

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: March 22, 2018

Many women continue to consume alcohol when they are pregnant. Drinking seven or more standard drinks per week may be harmful, and can cause growth restrictions in babies; binge drinking and heavy alcohol consumption can lead to learning difficulties, behaviour problems and physical disabilities in children. Government policies acknowledge that the occasional drink is not likely to cause harm but that abstinence from alcohol in pregnancy eliminates any possible risks. Psychological and educational interventions (such as supportive counselling sessions and brief educational sessions) may help women to reduce their alcohol intake during pregnancy.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: April 15, 2009

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is common. Yet no safe level of alcohol consumption is known, with no conclusive evidence on any adverse effects on the unborn child with low levels of alcohol. During pregnancy, more than two units per day or more than four units per drinking session may increase the risk of miscarriage, reduce growth, and impair mental development of the baby. Foetal alcohol syndrome is evident as neurological abnormalities, mental retardation, varying degrees of psychosocial and behavioural problems and characteristic facial dysmorphology that are apparent in adolescents and adults. In some populations alcohol use during pregnancy leads to increased child abuse and neglect or compromised mother‐infant attachment and responsiveness. Mothers who consume alcohol are more likely to have post‐natal depression and are less likely to attend health facilities for education and medical treatment.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: July 8, 2009

Surgical site infections are the third most frequently reported hospital‐ acquired infection. Women who give birth by caesarean section are exposed to the possibility of infection from their own, and external or environmental, sources of infection. Preventing infection by properly preparing the skin before incision is thus a vital part of the overall care given to women prior to caesarean birth. An antiseptic is applied to remove or reduce bacteria. These antiseptics include iodine or povidone‐iodine, alcohol, chlorhexidine and parachlorometaxylenol and can be applied as liquids or powders, scrubs, paints, swabs or on impregnated drapes.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: September 17, 2014

Women can develop mental health problems during pregnancy or at childbirth and over the following year. These problems range from depression (both minor and major), anxiety disorders, post‐traumatic stress disorder to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and psychosis (puerperal psychosis). Life stresses such as bereavement, separation, unemployment, illness, moving house, migration, lack of social support networks, a past history of psychological or psychiatric disorders, history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, dysfunctional personality or coping styles and parenting behaviours can contribute to their onset. Obstetric factors such as timing and type of delivery and infant temperament can also play a role. Disorders may become chronic and carry over to future pregnancies. The mother’s mood during pregnancy and mental illness can impact on the development of the baby both during pregnancy and after birth. Assessing women for psychosocial risk factors and symptoms of distress during regular pregnancy checks gives the opportunity to link women with appropriate services.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: October 8, 2008

We reviewed the evidence about the effect of psychosocial interventions, such as contingency management (CM) and motivational interviewing based (MIB) techniques vs. usual care for pregnant women in outpatient illicit drug treatment programmes.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: April 2, 2015

Some women continue to use opiates when they are pregnant, yet heroin readily crosses the placenta. Opiate‐dependent women experience a six‐fold increase in maternal obstetric complications and give birth to low‐weight babies. The newborn may experience narcotic withdrawal (neonatal abstinence syndrome) and have development problems. There is also increased neonatal mortality and a 74‐fold increase in the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Maintenance treatment with methadone provides a steady concentration of opiate in the pregnant woman's blood and so prevents the adverse effects on the fetus of repeated withdrawals. Buprenorphine is also used. These treatments reduce illicit drug use, improve compliance with obstetric care and improve neonatal birth weight but they are still associated with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: December 23, 2013

Many costly and disabling conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer or diabetes are linked by common preventable risk factors like tobacco use, unhealthy nutrition, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use. However, prevention still plays a secondary role in many health systems as all too often, healthcare workers fail to seize interactions with patient as opportunities to inform them about health promotion and disease prevention strategies. This review examined whether mobile phone applications such as Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Message Service (MMS) can support and enhance primary preventive health interventions.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: December 12, 2012

In developing countries, most people with mental, neurological and substance‐abuse (MNS) disorders do not receive adequate care mainly because of a lack of mental health professionals. Non‐specialist health workers, but also other professionals with health roles, such as teachers, may therefore have an important role to play in delivering MNS health care.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: November 19, 2013

The umbilical cord connects the baby and mother during pregnancy. The cord is cut after birth. The cord stump then dries and falls off, generally within five to 15 days. Infection of the umbilical cord stump (omphalitis), caused by skin bacteria, is a significant cause of illness and death in newborn babies in developing countries. This review evaluated all studies that assessed antiseptics applied topically to the umbilical cord to determine if they reduce the risk of cord infection and death. Thirty‐four randomised controlled studies were included involving 69,338 babies. There were 22 different interventions studied. The most commonly studied antiseptics in the included studies were 70% alcohol, triple dye and chlorhexidine. Three studies were conducted in community settings in developing countries; the remainder were conducted in hospital settings, mostly in developed countries. Studies conducted in community settings were large and contributed about 78% of all the participants included in this review. Hospital‐based studies were small and had limitations.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: May 31, 2013

Edema (or "oedema") means swelling. The condition called edema arises when part of the body becomes swollen because fluid builds up in the tissue. It most commonly affects the arms and legs. That is called peripheral edema.

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: December 30, 2016

There’s a lot of advice out there about how to prevent colorectal cancer: The long list of recommendations includes more fiber, less meat, extra vitamins and even medication. But which of the most common claims are backed by scientific evidence? Healthy people can lower their risk of colorectal cancer by having colorectal cancer screening. Screening is typically done in people over the age of 50 and has been proven to lower the risk of colorectal cancer. They can also try to avoid getting colorectal cancer by following a healthier lifestyle. But what can be made of all of this advice, especially the tips on diet? Does eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and less red meat really help? And will taking extra vitamins make a difference?

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: April 5, 2018

Expert-reviewed information summary about factors that may increase the risk of developing breast cancer and about research aimed at the prevention of this disease.

PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet] - National Cancer Institute (US).

Version: March 29, 2018

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