Monthly Archives: May 2009

Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines for Menopausal Hot Flashes

Approximately seventy percent of all women experience hot flashes and/or night sweats (also called vasomotor symptoms) during the menopause transition (Stearns et al. 2002).  Until recently, estrogen therapy was the treatment of choice for most women who sought treatment for hot flashes.  Since the results of the Women's Health Initiative in 2002 noted risks of prolonged use of hormone therapy in older postmenopausal women (Roussouw et al. 2002), many women pursue other treatments for their hot flashes, including over-the-counter complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs), including soy isoflavones, black cohosh, and omega-3 fatty acids.  However, there is limited evidence to support the use of these treatments for hot flashes to date.

Postpartum Depressive Symptoms Increase the Risk of Smoking Relapse

While many women who smoke successfully quit smoking during pregnancy, most of these women return to smoking within 12 months of delivery.  Several studies have suggested that certain factors may increase the risk of postpartum relapse, including unwanted pregnancy, multiparity, and stressful life events.  Two recent studies indicate that postpartum depressive symptoms may also increase the risk of smoking relapse after delivery.

Maternal Depression During Pregnancy May Lead to Infant Sleep Problems

About 15% of women suffer from depression during pregnancy, and many reports have suggested that depression during pregnancy may have negative effects on the fetus.   A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan indicates a link between depression during pregnancy and infant sleep problems.

Pregnancy May Lower Lamotrigine (Lamictal) Blood Levels

Women with bipolar disorder are at increased risk for recurrence of illness during pregnancy.  Therefore, many women with bipolar disorder elect to continue treatment with medications during pregnancy after weighing the risks and benefits of various treatment options with their physicians.  Lamotrigine (Lamictal) is an anticonvulsant used to treat bipolar disorder. While the safety data on this relatively new anticonvulsant in pregnancy is limited, pregnancy registry data suggests that lamotrigine may pose less of a risk to the developing fetus than with older anticonvulsants, such as valproate (Depakote). With lamotrigine emerging as an effective and relatively safe treatment for pregnant women with bipolar disorder, more attention is now being paid to the effects of pregnancy on lamotrigine levels.