How Should I Interpret New Pregnancy Studies?

Posted by | April 14, 2019 | Because You Asked | No Comments

Are New Pregnancy Research Studies Reliable?

Possibly, but don’t believe everything you read. Pregnant women should never take action based on pregnancy studies they may read about online. After all, the online world is filled with misinformation which, unfortunately, may sound just as authoritative as truly reliable advice found on the Web. (Other media such as print publications or TV can be just as unreliable.) It’s wise to take everything with a grain of salt, except the information and advice you get from your physician. As your instinct likely tells you, only a trained medical professional, familiar with the specifics of your health history and overall condition, should advise you. If you should still have doubts after a discussion your doctor, get a second (informed and in-person) medical opinion.

How Should a Pregnant Woman to React When Reading Studies Done on Animals (or humans) That Seem to Contradict Common Consensus?

It can be scary out there in the world of sensational media coverage and over-the-top headlines. Do not follow any advice that stems from medical research studies without discussing it with your gynecologist. If you’re wondering whether a study with a trial population translates to your situation—you are right to wonder. So don’t take chances with anything you read or hear that may tell that you something is good or bad for pregnant women. Don’t stop or start any medication, diet or any activity based on studies–unless you have checked with your doctor.

Is There a Way to Determine Which Pregnancy Research Studies Are Credible? How Does a Pregnant Woman Know What to Believe?

  • It’s likely that credible original (not second hand) sources are believable, such as .edu or .org sites or medical journals–but it’s still not guaranteed that these facts are correct.
  • Even correct medical facts and research may not fit your particular situation.
  • Study results that you hear/read may be incorrectly interpreted by the reader (yourself or a well-meaning friend).
  • Research findings may be incorrectly explained or interpreted by a second hand source, even if it’s a major media outlet with a good reputation. It’s common for media outlets to make factual errors in their rush to be first out with “news” reports.
  • Some people purport to be experts and are not. Online sources in particular (and sometimes major media sources) are hard to vet.
  • Even exact quotes from recognized experts can be taken out of context, making them misleading or incorrect.

How Can I Understand Medical Research Studies About Pregnancy and Maternal Health?

It’s completely understandable that a mother-to-be would seek out and be interested in pregnancy research studies that they read or view in the media or online. Let these bits of information, no matter how credible they may seem, be starting points to discussions with your physician. Certainly, don’t let any publication frighten you and cause unhealthy stress. If the topic is urgent, just call your doctor to check out the information or discuss it with him or her on your next pre-natal visit.

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Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”