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The Importance Of Diagnosing Birth Defects

Birth defects, particularly those of the blood vessels, account for the majority of infant deaths, especially after the first week of life. Congenital heart disease (CHD) — meaning defects of the heart – is responsible for one-third of deaths between birth and the first year of life. Therefore, the diagnosis of CHD is critical in order to plan life-saving treatments, such as the proper place for the delivery, the type of delivery, and its timing. If it’s known in advance that an unborn baby has a heart problem and is delivered in a hospital that provides special care, its survival and future health will increase dramatically.

Who’s at risk for having CHD and which expectant moms should have further evaluation? Families who have a history of CHD — especially mothers, fathers, and siblings — should receive genetic counseling. Multiple medical studies over the past fifteen years have demonstrated the significance of genetics as a main culprit of CHD. Parents of a child with CHD have a two percent to three percent chance of having another affected child. If a mother or father has CHD, a fetal cardiac echo (an ultrasound of the heart) is definitely warranted.

Because the treatment of CHD in many cases is surgical, there’s an increasing number of patients who have survived into adulthood and have ultimately become parents. Research has documented that 4.1 percent of their children will have CHD. Children with mothers who have CHD are at a greater risk of inheriting the disease than if they have fathers with CHD. Mothers with cyanotic heart disease — that is, blood that is without oxygen that bypasses the lungs and goes directly to the blood vessels — also have a greater risk of having a baby with CHD. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

Why Every Pregnant Woman Needs To Do A Background Check

The journey to a healthy pregnancy and delivery begins with the selection of a healthcare provider, and the challenge is to find the right one. This is the person who will be in charge of your pregnancy up until the time of the delivery, so it certainly is not a casual date. For the next 280 days your life and the life of your unborn child will be in this person’s hands. A background check is therefore in order.

One of the best ways to find the right healthcare provider is by word-of-mouth referral from neighbors, friends, or family members however please don’t stop there. Labor and delivery nurses are also a great source of referral because they have seen physicians and midwives under their most vulnerable and challenging moments.

Don’t feel intimidated about checking a provider’s credentials — this is public information. You can find out whether the provider’s medical license is current or expired. You’ll also be able to obtain information on whether the provider has ever been disciplined by the board for medical malpractice or unprofessional behavior or misconduct. Healthcare providers are not exempt from problems with alcoholism, drug addiction, professional incompetence, and unprofessional or unethical behaviors. Although less than five percent of healthcare providers have egregious problems, you want to make certain that your provider is not one of them. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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