A Focus on Mental Health in Pregnancy

Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth, with 13% of childbearing parents affected in the first year after giving birth [1]. Most do not receive treatment for postpartum mood disorders.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for postpartum depression include stressful life events and a history of mood disorders, in addition to other known factors related to depression [1]. African-American and Hispanic women experience postpartum depressive more often than white women. Transgender men and other gender nonconforming people have difficulty finding high quality healthcare in pregnancy, which increases their risk of mental health distress [2].

Solutions

Postpartum depression is rarely treated. Studies have shown that women are unsure of how to treat depression during and after pregnancy [3]. Raising awareness with physicians and promoting collaboration between medical, psychiatric, and other wellness professionals is an great way to help patients work through that confusion.

Recent research has looked at potential solutions to pregnancy-related mental health disorders:

  • Postpartum Support International provides resources to mothers in English and Spanish as well as trainings for healthcare professionals.
  • Dr. Katherine Wisner of Northwestern University recently published a study showing that a telephone-based depression care management system, connecting patients to their doctors and information regarding other resources, lessened symptoms of mood disorders [4].
  • Drs. Hoffkling, Obedin-Maliver, and Sevelius published guidelines for physicians caring for gender nonconforming patients around pregnancy [2].

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a helpful questionnaire available here if you believe you may be experiencing depression.

 

References:

1.         Wisner, K.L., B.L. Parry, and C.M. Piontek, Clinical practice. Postpartum depression. N Engl J Med, 2002. 347(3): p. 194-9.

2.         Hoffkling, A., J. Obedin-Maliver, and J. Sevelius, From erasure to opportunity: a qualitative study of the experiences of transgender men around pregnancy and recommendations for providers. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 2017. 17(Suppl 2): p. 332.

3.         Battle, C.L., et al., Perinatal antidepressant use: understanding women's preferences and concerns. J Psychiatr Pract, 2013. 19(6): p. 443-53.

4.         Wisner, K.L., et al., Telephone-Based Depression Care Management for Postpartum Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Psychiatry, 2017. 78(9): p. 1369-1375.

 

WHRI Welcomes High School Students For Career Visit

Earlier this month,  the Women’s Health Research Institute welcomed 25 high school students from across the Chicagoland area to Northwestern University for a field trip focused on careers in biomedical research. The visit was organized in collaboration with the Step Up Women’s Network, a non-profit organization which hosts after-school programs designed to empower young women to be college-bound and career-focused.

As part of Step Up’s Pathways to Professions series, the students learned about the various career paths in biomedical research including research scientist, clinical study coordinator, veterinary technician, histologist, and research administrator. The students also had an opportunity to participate in hands-on laboratory activities and tour NU’s Center for Advanced Microscopy. At the end of the day, the students enjoyed lunch and a roundtable discussion with several NU students, faculty, and staff.

This event was sponsored by the Women’s Health Science Program which supports young women from underserved communities with who are considering careers in science and medicine and prepares them with valuable knowledge and skills to successfully become the next generation of women science leaders.

For more information about WHSP, including our upcoming summer program, click here.

For more information about Step Up Women's Network, click here.

Leadership Council Member Receives Honor for Women in Science and Medicine

WHRI Leadership Council Member, Dr. Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman was awarded the Paula H. Stern Award for Outstanding Women in Science and Medicine. This award was established by the Department of Pharmacology in conjunction with the Women's Faculty Organization to recognize female faculty members who have made a significant contribution to the their field of research and who serve as outstanding role models and mentors.

Dr. Ramsey-Goldman is the Solovy Arthritis Research Society Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of the Clinical Research Unit. Her work focuses on the study of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other autoimmune conditions. An advocate for women's health, Dr. Ramsey-Goldman's research has explored the impact of SLE on the development of cardiovascular disease in women as well the treatment of autoimmune conditions during pregnancy.

Dr. Ramsey-Goldman is the second recipient of the Paula H. Stern Award. The inaugural honor went to Dr. Amy Paller, another prominent member of the WHRI Leadership Council and champion for women's health.

Congratulations to Dr. Ramsey-Goldman!

The WHRI Honors Black Maternal Health Week, April 11-17

By Alexa Karczmar

Maternal health in the U.S. has been on the decline for the past forty years. The Department of Health and Human Services has reported that maternal mortality has been on the rise for the last three years, and in the 2014 Trends in Maternal Mortality report, the American maternal mortality rate (MMR) had more than doubled in the preceding 13 years [1].The same report demonstrated that the MMR of the U.S. had the highest level of annual increase in maternal death in all of the countries they had studied.

This crisis disproportionately affects Black women, who are more than four times more likely to die in childbirth than White women [2]. Black women face higher rates of poverty than White women and are less likely to be insured [3]. They have higher rates of chronic health conditions that are considered risk factors in maternal death, including heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes [4]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited chronic health conditions as a major risk factor for maternal mortality and suspect in its rates of increase, and the impact of these diseases on Black women are likely exacerbated by their underrepresentation in clinical trials.

Per the Black Mamas Matter Toolkit, Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) is a week intended to:

  • Increase attention to the state of Black maternal health in the US;
  • Amplify the voices of Black mamas, women, families, and stakeholders;
  • Serve as a national platform for Black-women led entities and efforts on maternal; health, birth justice, and reproductive justice; and
  • Enhance community organizing on Black maternal health.

This month, our blog posts and newsletters will further highlight maternal health, sex-inclusive research, and potential solutions in healthcare policy and practice.

You can learn more about BMHW and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance by following them on Twitter @BlkMamasMatter and visiting their website at blackmamamasmatter.org.

References:

1.         Unicef, Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2013. 2014.

2.         Creanga, A.A., et al., Maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States: where are we now? Journal of Women's Health, 2014. 23(1): p. 3-9.

3.         Stephens, J., S. Artiga, and J. Paradise, Health coverage and care in the south in 2014 and beyond. 2014: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

4.         Robbins, C., et al., Disparities in Preconception Health Indicators - Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2013-2015, and Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2013-2014. MMWR Surveill Summ, 2018. 67(1): p. 1-16.

 

Driving Discovery: Women Who Shaped How We Do Science- Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin was a brilliant English chemist and x Ray crystallographer who’s work led to the discovery as well as important inferences about deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA. X-Ray crystallography is a fascinating technique that is employed to determine and obtain a three-dimensional molecular structures from a crystal [1]. The crystal is exposed to a x-ray beam which diffracts into specific patterns and is then processed [1]. X-Ray crystallography is a favored method to determine the structure of proteins and biological macromolecules [1].    

Franklin, born in London, studied physical chemistry during her undergraduate career at Newnham College, one of the two women’s colleges at Cambridge University. After receiving her BA, she held a graduate fellowship for a year then transitioned to work at the British Coal Utilization Research Association [2]. Here she studied carbon and graphite microstructures, providing the basis of her doctorate in physical chemistry back at Cambridge University. During her doctorate, she began studying what is now known as DNA. Franklin was responsible for a large portion of the research, discovery and understanding of DNA. Yet much controversy surrounded the discovery of DNA as Franklin did not get the credit or respect she originally deserved due to the political climate of women in stem. She later moved to a different lab to study the tobacco mosaic virus as well as the polio virus before her death from ovarian cancer in 1956 [2].

Rosalind Franklin will forever be remembered as her work gave us crucial clues and information about the structure of DNA! Her brilliant research also led to our understanding of RNA, coals and carbons, and viruses.   

Read more here!

References:

1. Smyth MS, Martin JHJ. x Ray crystallography. Molecular Pathology. 2000;53(1):8-14.

2. https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/retrieve/Narrative/KR/p-nid/183

Driving Discovery: Women Who Shaped How We Do Science- Virginia Apgar

This month we are celebrating Women’s History Month! We wanted to dedicate this blog post to Virginia Apgar (1909-1974). Virginia Apgar was an American physician best known for the “Apgar Score”. The score measures the physical conditions of a new born infant [1]. The score is obtained by adding points between (0, 1, or 2) for the infants color and pigmentation, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone and respiration [2]. This is taken immediately after birth and again for 5 minute intervals for up to 20 minutes. The best possible outcomes and highest score is a 10, based on adding up all 5 sections. Anything below that could be problematic. This score is still used today and is a great way to understand and record fetal to neonatal transition.

Read more about her here!

 

Stepping away from Women in STEM, check out the remarkable New York Times (NYT) series titled “Overlooked”. It focuses on the many famous women who did not have their obituaries mentioned in the New York Times. This month, NYT is shedding a light on these amazing women.  

  

References:

  1. Apgar V, Holiday DA, James LS, Weisbrot IM, Berrien C. Evaluation of the newborn infant: second report. JAMA 1958;168:1985–88. [PubMed
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association. Textbook of Neonatal Resuscitation. 6th edition. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association; 2011. 

 

Recap from Dr. Jonathan Silverberg Monthly Forum Talk: Contact Dermatitis Common Irritants

For our February monthly forum, Dr. Jonathan Silverberg presented a lovely lecture on atopic and contact dermatitits. Dr. Silverberg has presented us with the list of common irritantsthat he discussed in his talk.

Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition caused by skin exposure to irritants or allergens. Contact dermatitis can present in many different forms, though most commonly it presents with red, itchy, scaly rash. There are myriad ingredients in personal care products that commonly cause contact dermatitis. Some of the more common culprits include:

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Decyl glucoside
  • Colophonium
  • Formaldehyde
  • Quaternium-15
  • Para-tertiarybutyl-phenol (PTBP) formaldehyde
  • Fragrances (e.g. balsam of peru, cinnamic aldehyde, fragrance mix I, fragrance mix I, Myroxylon pereirae, and hydroxyisohexyl-3-cyclohexenecarboxaldehyde)
  • Compositae mix
  • Sesquiterpine lactone mix
  • Isothiazolinones, including methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Lanolin
  • Paraphenylenediamine

Join us and become part of a supportive community for Chicago women in Academia and STEM!!

Join us and become part of a supportive community for Chicago women in Academia and STEM!!

 

NUPF would like to invite you to a special event that focuses on addressing inequalities facing women in STEM and academia, building a community to promote gender equity, and identifying solutions for the prioritization of work and lifestyle. This event is for everyone, students, postdocs, staff and faculty from Northwestern and other institutions whatever your gender identity is!


REASONS TO PARTICIPATE:
  • Discuss the unique challenges facing women in STEM at Northwestern and nation-wide.
  • Build a community of local women in STEM and academia to promote gender equity through varied interactive sessions. 
  • Get to know ways to improve your work/life balance (maternity leave, parental support, child care, elder care, etc).
  • Find out how to address inequalities at the workplace (sexual harassment, discriminitation, wages discrepancies).
  • Learn from the life lessons and successful stories of our guest speakers who are leaders in their respective fields. 
  • Cultivate leadership skills and mentor-mentee relationships with the invited speakers. 
  • Learn about the missions of our partner organizations and upcoming local events at our exhibitors' booths. 

AGENDA:

12:00 pm: Opening address. 12:05-12:30 pm: Northwestern University benefits-specific information session.

12:30-1:00 pm: Lunch (Food/drinks provided).

1 pm-1:45 pm: "How to address inequalities faced by women in STEM and Academia", Geri R. Donenberg,  PhDVice Chair of Research Dept of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science, UIC. 2:00-2:45 pm: Keynote presentation, Dr. Carol Tamminga M.D.Professor & Chairman, Dept Psychiatry, UT Southwestern. 2:45-3:30 pm: Talks by women leaders in STEM. Participating speakers:
  • Vicky Kalogera, PhD, Linzer Distinguished University Professor in Physics and Astronomy, Northwestern University and Director of CIERA, Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics.
  • Jennifer Cole, PhD, Assistant Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Associate Director of Northwestern Center for Engineering Education Research.
  • Nancy Schwarz, PhDDepartment of Pediatrics, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago, Director, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center.

3:30-3:45 pm: Coffee break.

3:45-4:15 pm: Talk, Teresa Woodruff, PhD, Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education,The Graduate School, Northwestern University.

4:15-5:15 pm: Panel discussion on women's leadership in STEM with previous speakers. 

5:15-7:00 pm: Networking event (Appetizers/drinks served).

 

Attendees will be able to directly interact with the speakers and discuss mentoring in a small group setting during the round-table networking reception.

WHEN:
March 15th 2018, 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm 

WHERE:
Conference room L South,
Prentice Women’s Hospital, 250 E Superior St

 FOR MORE INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION, CLICK ON THIS LINK:

https://womeninstemacademiainitiative.eventbrite.com​​​

New Moms Can Help Others through Umbilical Cord Blood Donations

New Moms Can Help Others through Umbilical Cord Blood Donations

By Madison Lyleroehr

The role of a mother’s umbilical cord is typically complete at the end of birth. However, the blood located in the umbilical cord has been found to contain a wealth of stem cells, which are extremely valuable because of their regenerative properties. The presence of these stem cells has enabled the use of umbilical cord blood (UCB) donations in treating an increasing range of diseases, including some rare genetic conditions.

Not only can UCB stem cells be used in a variety of treatments, but collecting them is much less difficult than other sources of stem cells, such as bone marrow. Because the umbilical cord is generally expelled during the birth process, UCB collection is non-invasive, does not interfere with the birthing process, or pose additional risks to the mother or baby during birth. Furthermore, because the population of women having babies is so diverse, the collection of UCB increases the potential number of matches for patients in need of stem cell donations.

For expectant families who are interested in exploring UCB donation, various options are available. First, mothers can choose to bank their own cord blood in case close family members, such as the babies from whom the UCB was donated or their siblings, are diagnosed with a condition that can be helped by the stem cells. This option generally includes fees for processing and storage. Another option is to donate the blood publically to help others who may find themselves in need of a stem cell treatment. Families who are considering either option should begin the conversation early enough in pregnancy to have the time to consider all options and research the collection option they choose.

For more information on UCB donation, go to https://bethematch.org/support-the-cause/donate-cord-blood/.

Additional sources:

Butler, Madelyn. “Best practices: umbilical cord blood and tissue preservation: tips for patient counseling.” OB GYN News, Aug. 2017, p. 7.

Martin, Paul L., et al. “Umbilical cord blood: a guide for primary care physicians.” American Family Physician, 15 Sept. 2011, p. 661+.

 

Women’s History Month: Scientists and Scholars

This March, the Women’s Health Research Institute is celebrating Women’s History Month by paying tribute to the women who have shaped the fields and science and medicine. Through a series of blog posts, we will highlight female scientists, physicians, and scholars who have furthered our understanding of health and disease.

Below we’ve compiled just a few local and national resources which support and promote women in science and medicine.

Professional Societies

Northwestern University Organizations

K-12 Students

Other Resources:

https://www.beyondcurie.com/

 

Webcast of the Workshop on Women's Mental Health Across the Life Course through a Sex-Gender Lens

March 7, 2018
Webcast of the Workshop on Women's Mental Health Across the Life Course through a Sex-Gender Lens
   #WomensMentalHealth

8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Register for the webcast | Agenda

Join the Committee on Population on March 7 for a webcast on a workshop that will explore how environmental, sociocultural, behavioral, and biological factors affect women's mental health across the life course and across different racial/ethnic groups.

The workshop will include sessions on: 

  • life course framing, population patterns, measurement, and methods;
  • psychological and structural factors in women’s mental health;
  • mental health over adolescence, mid-life, and later life;
  • mental health care and policy; and
  • an agenda for advancing women’s mental health over the life course.
Please feel free to share the webcast information with your colleagues. If you have questions about the event, please contact Mary Ghitelman.
   This event is made possible with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health.

 

  More Information about the workshop

 

Copyright © 2018 National Academy of Sciences, All rights reserved. 

Register for an All Day Chicago Women In Academia and STEM Event


Join us and become part of a supportive community for Chicago women in Academia and STEM!!
  NUPF would like to invite you to a special event that focuses on addressing inequalities facing women in STEM and academia, building a community to promote gender equity, and identifying solutions for the prioritization of work and lifestyle. This event is for everyone, students, postdocs, staff and faculty from Northwestern and other institutions whatever your gender identity is!


REASONS TO PARTICIPATE:
  • Discuss the unique challenges facing women in STEM at Northwestern and nation-wide.
  • Build a community of local women in STEM and academia to promote gender equity through varied interactive sessions. 
  • Get to know ways to improve your work/life balance (maternity leave, parental support, child care, elder care, etc).
  • Find out how to address inequalities at the workplace (sexual harassment, discriminitation, wages discrepancies).
  • Learn from the life lessons and successful stories of our guest speakers who are leaders in their respective fields. 
  • Cultivate leadership skills and mentor-mentee relationships with the invited speakers. 
  • Learn about the missions of our partner organizations and upcoming local events at our exhibitors' booths.
  AGENDA:   12:00 pm: Opening address. 12:05-12:30 pm: Northwestern University benefits-specific information session. 12:30-1:00 pm: Lunch (Food/drinks provided). 1 pm-1:45 pm: "How to address inequalities faced by women in STEM and Academia", Geri R. Donenberg,  PhDVice Chair of Research Dept of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science, UIC. 2:00-2:45 pm: Keynote presentation, Dr. Carol Tamminga M.D.Professor & Chairman, Dept Psychiatry, UT Southwestern. 2:45-3:30 pm: Talks by women leaders in STEM. Participating speakers:
  • Vicky Kalogera, PhD, Linzer Distinguished University Professor in Physics and Astronomy, Northwestern University and Director of CIERA, Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics.
  • Jennifer Cole, PhD, Assistant Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Associate Director of Northwestern Center for Engineering Education Research.
  • Nancy Schwarz, PhDDepartment of Pediatrics, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago, Director, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center.

3:30-3:45 pm: Coffee break. 3:45-4:15 pm: Talk, Teresa Woodruff, PhD, Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education,The Graduate School, Northwestern University. 4:15-5:15 pm: Panel discussion on women's leadership in STEM with previous speakers.  5:15-7:00 pm: Networking event (Appetizers/drinks served).   Attendees will be able to directly interact with the speakers and discuss mentoring in a small group setting during the round-table networking reception.

WHEN:
March 15th 2018, 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm 

WHERE:
Conference room L South,
Prentice Women’s Hospital, 250 E Superior St   FOR MORE INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION, CLICK ON THIS LINK:   https://womeninstemacademiainitiative.eventbrite.com

Knowing Your Numbers: Women’s Heart Health

From phone numbers and addresses to loved one’s birthdays, we are very good at keeping track of certain numbers. However, the American Heart Association recommends adding a few more to that list in order to keep track of your heart health!

Total and HDL Cholesterol

Cholesterols are fat-like molecules that are found throughout our body. They are used as building blocks for hormones and important structural components to our cells. They are transported through our blood stream by two types of proteins: high density lipoproteins (HLD) and low density lipoproteins (LDL). Build-up of LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol contributes to atherosclerosis or plaque forming in the arteries, whereas HDL or “good” cholesterol carries cholesterol back to the liver where it is broken down and removed from the body. A blood test can determine your total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol numbers. You should discuss these numbers with your doctor to see how they impact your personal heart health.  

To learn more about cholesterol, click here!  

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a measurement which tells us how much force is being exerted on our blood vessels with every heartbeat. It is typically recorded as two numbers: The systolic and diastolic blood pressures. This accounts for the force when the heart is contracting (in systole) or relaxing (in diastole). Normal blood pressure for adults is defined as a systolic pressure of less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic pressure of less than 80 mmHg. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can be a significant risk factor for heart disease, so it’s important to know your blood pressure and discuss it with your doctor.

To learn more about blood pressure, click here!

Blood Sugar

Blood sugar refers to the amount of glucose, a type of sugar molecular, which is found in our blood. It is the major source of energy for our cells, so it is critical that our blood sugar remain within a certain range. Health problems can occur when blood sugar becomes too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Normal fasting blood sugar levels should be between 70 – 100 mg/dL. People with high blood sugar who are pre-diabetic or diabetic are at greater risk for developing heart disease compared to those with normal blood sugar levels. Fasting blood sugar levels can be determined by a simple blood test taken at your doctor’s office.

To learn more about blood sugar, click here!

 

Body Mass Index    

Being overweight or obese can also increase the risk of developing heart disease. Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of body fat which can be used to help you and your healthcare providers determine if you need to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a BMI calculator tool you can use along with additional resources for weight management. 

The Underrepresented Sex in Breast Cancer

Here at the Women’s Health Research Institute, we strive for sex-inclusive research in hopes of adding more women and female cells to all scientific equations. In order to improve women’s health, we must focus and raise awareness of sex differences in all facets of basic science, clinical and translational research. While we want to add more women to the forefront of scientific research, we know that in order for all of us to succeed we must focus on health for both women and men!

 

When we think of breast cancer, we often think of female cells or women being diagnosed and treated. There is often a disconnect in terms of males being diagnosed with breast cancer. This disconnect or confusion about males developing breast cancer could be due to the fact that less than 1% of all breast cancer is observed in males.  Women and men both have breast cells and tissue but only females develop milk-producing breasts. The likelihood of a man’s breast tissue developing cancer is one in a thousand! Due to this rare occurrence, we do not often hear the narratives of men, like this one, who have undergone breast cancer diagnoses and treatment.

Breast cancer is not the only disease that is higher in women compared to men. Autoimmune diseases in general, disproportionately impact woman compared to men specifically diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. That said, men who do have autoimmune disease often have more acute symptoms

 

Since there are these big differences in the development of diseases in biologically born males and females, it’s extremely important to think about all sides of the equation when researching or treating a disease!

Sex-inclusive science and medicine is the best way to improve the health of all of us!!

 

 

Check out these sources:

Male Breast Cancer Coalition

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Sex-Specific Cardiovascular Risk

One key aspect to maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle is being aware of your individual cardiovascular risk factors. We know that men and women who are overweight, have high blood pressure, smoke, are diabetic, or have increased cholesterol are more likely to develop heart disease. However, there are several cardiovascular risk factors which apply only to women. Below, we take a closer look at several female-specific risk factors:

Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy

Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy related such as gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia only affect 5-10% of pregnant women, but they may increase a woman’s risk of developing heart disease later in life. According to a recent study published in the journal Hypertension, women who experienced high blood pressure during pregnancy were more likely to develop high blood pressure later in life and have a higher cardiovascular disease risk profile than women whose blood pressure remained normal throughout pregnancy [1].

The authors suggest that women who experience hypertensive disorders of pregnancy be counseled on how to recognize and reduce other modifiable risk factors.

 Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a condition which occurs during pregnancy and hinders the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. While it normally resolves after pregnancy, it may leave women with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A study which examined over 8,000 women found that those who experienced gestational diabetes during pregnancy were more likely to have low HDL or “good” cholesterol and higher levels to triglycerides – both factors which can contribute to heart disease [2]. This provides yet another example of how pregnancy-related conditions may impact heart health later in life.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder which affects women of reproductive age. In addition to causing reproductive issues such as irregular periods or infertility, women with PCOS may experience other health issues such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or metabolic syndrome. Together, these conditions can increase a woman’s risk of developing heart disease.

Menopause

Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life cycle which is characterized by the loss of menstrual cycles and a decrease in estrogen levels.  Post-menopausal women face a greater risk of heart disease compared to pre-menopausal women due to age and the loss of estrogen. This increased risk also extends to young women who experience premature menopause or have had their ovaries removed for surgical reasons. Even though estrogen is considered “heart-protective,” the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend that patients use hormone replacement therapy to prevent cardiovascular disease [3].

For a review on sex-specific cardiovascular risk factors, we recommend:

“Sex differences in cardiovascular risk factors and disease prevention.”

Appelman et al., Atherosclerosis. 2015; 241 (1): 211-218.

 

References:

1. Tooher et al., Hypertension. 2017; 70: 798-803.

2. Shostrom et al., Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2017; 8: 144.

3. ACOG Committee on Gynecologic Practice, 2013. No. 565. 

 

Highlighting the Work of Poonam Muttreja and Her Organization: Population Foundation of India

 

 

The Women's Health Research Institute would like to highlight the work of Poonam Muttreja and her organization, Population Foundation of India (PFI). PFI is a national non-governmental organization (NGO) that centers its work on policy, advocacy and research on population, health and development issues throughout India. PFI’s work has empowered women, men and their families through numerous projects that contributes to health and well-being for all, while their work also leads to numerous positive outcomes for women. PFI uses a multipronged advocacy and communication strategy, including entertainment-based mass media programmes, online digital campaigns, and outreach amongst communities.

PFI’s position is unique as they work with the Indian government at both the national and state levels, with other NGOs and throughout urban and rural communities where they deploy successful programs leading to beneficial social and behavior change.

 

 

 Poonam Muttreja is the Executive Director of PFI and has over 35 years of experience in promoting women’s rights, rural livelihoods, public advocacy, communications and behavior change.  She conceived and promoted the popular Indian television serial, Mai Kuch bhi kar sakti hoon-I, a woman, can do anything. Poonam has been a member of the Family Planning 2020 Reference Group, which is a global movement that supports the rights of women and girls around the globe to empower them to decide for themselves whether, when and how many children they may want to have. She is currently a civil society representative from India for the FP 2020 country engagement group. Before joining PFI, Poonam worked with the McArthur Foundation as India Country director where she was responsible for the Foundation’s grants in India that focused on population and development issues. Early on in her career, she founded organizations in the area of social justice (SRUTI), craft (DASTKAR) and programing on leadership (Founder Director of the Ashoka Foundation in India) specifically focusing in the field of women’s health. She serves on the board of several non-governmental organizations. In addition to Poonam’s numerous and impressive efforts in social justice outreach and development, she has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

Connecting through global NGOs enabling women to do better and be healthier is an important part of our mission here at the Women's Health Research Institute.