Fighting Preeclampsia, Raising Awareness

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Preeclampsia is a rapidly progressive disorder in pregnant women that is characterized by elevated blood pressure and protein in urine. Affecting both the pregnant mother and the growing, unborn child, it can occur during pregnancy and immediately after a woman gives birth.

Preeclampsia is a leading cause of premature birth. Each year, the disorder is to blame for about 76,000 maternal deaths and a half-million infant deaths worldwide. Doctors do not fully understand what causes preeclampsia, and the only cure for the condition begins with delivery. (more…)

What to Look for in Inpatient Rehab

SMH Rehab Pavilion

When life takes an unexpected turn due to a stroke, brain injury or other major illness or injury, the journey to recovery may require spending time in an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Searching out the inpatient rehab center that best matches a patient’s unique medical needs, treatment priorities and required of level of care can be daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start.

To help you navigate the selection process, we’ve put together a checklist of general questions that will help narrow down the list of candidates. If you can, schedule a tour of your top two or three picks before making your decision. (more…)

Can DNA Predict Your Cancer Risk?

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By Nicole Wood, SMH’s board-certified genetic counselor

Cancer is one of the most common diseases we face today. About one in every two men—and one in three women—will get some form of cancer over the course of their lives. That means most families are directly impacted by the disease in some way.

Has a family member of yours been diagnosed with cancer? Have you ever wondered, “What are the chances that I’ll get cancer?” How do you know whether cancer “runs in the family” or stems from other factors like aging, lifestyle or the environment?

Genetic testing can help answer these questions. Using saliva or a small blood sample, DNA tests can tell whether a person is predisposed for developing hereditary cancer or whether a patient’s particular cancer could be passed on to children. (more…)

At-home Genetic Tests Pros and Cons

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By Nicole Wood, SMH’s board-certified genetic counselor

You may have seen advertisements for at-home genetic tests on television or the Internet. These direct-to-consumer (DTC) kits, which have been on the market for a decade, have historically been frowned upon by both medical doctors and regulatory committees like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But last week, the FDA gave a private company the go-ahead to market DTC genetic test kits that claim to provide genetic-risk information for 10 hereditary health conditions, including Parkinson’s, Celiac and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

In the wake of the FDA’s approval, it’s important that potential buyers understand a little background about the DTC tests and how they differ from the genetic testing and counseling services that medical professionals can provide. (more…)

Give Your Kids a Jumpstart on Literacy

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It’s never too early to start reading to your baby. Many mothers will read to baby while he is still in her belly. When I had my first baby, a teacher friend of mine told me that reading to your child can promote a love of learning and was the best thing we could do to encourage a future good student. So I surrounded my children with books, and frequently took them to the library for story time. (They are all doing well in school so far, so maybe she was right!) (more…)