Important for pregnant mothers to also see a pediatrician | Inquirer Opinion

Important for pregnant mothers to also see a pediatrician

/ 05:00 AM August 31, 2022

The standard of practice is for pediatricians to see a newborn until they are 18 years old. I suggest that they should now include one prenatal visit. Why?

New studies are coming out of the laboratories of cognitive psychologists that we can now advance language and cognitive development before 36 months old. Below are some of them that I can recommend to parents during the routine check-up of their child.

About 10 years before I retired, I scheduled pregnant moms to see me. Why? I read a report by Dr. Gustavo Roman, “Autism: transient in utero hypothyroxinemia related to maternal flavonoid ingestion during pregnancy and to other environmental antithyroid agents.”

Roman pointed out that excessive eating of cassava, cabbage, cauliflower, bamboo shoot, sweet potatoes, kale, rutabaga, kohlrabi, and other uncommon foods can lower the amount of thyroid hormone in the mother. When this hormone is low, language and cognitive delay result in children.


In the late 1990s, North America experienced the Great Ice Storm of 1998. It was a massive combination of a few successive smaller ice storms in January 1998 affecting eastern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Northern New York, and Maine.

About three million of the population of the areas affected lost power for up to 40 days. I was practicing in Bangor, Maine, during that great ice storm and we had no electricity for more than a week. We used a wood fireplace and gasoline heater to keep our house warm.

Dr. David Laplante and his group of researchers studied the effect of stress in Quebec province. In June of 1998, women in the ice storm areas completed a survey about their objective and subjective stress. And when their children were five and a half years old, they had another assessment of recent life events and psychological functioning.

The researchers found that prenatal exposure to moderate stress was associated with lower cognitive and language abilities.


Last August 2019, a report from the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics concluded that: “In this study, maternal exposure to higher levels of fluoride during pregnancy was associated with lower IQ scores in children aged 3 to 4 years. These findings indicate the possible need to reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy.”

This study was from Canada of children born between 2008 and 2012 where 41 percent lived in communities supplied with fluoridated municipal water. There were 601 mother-child pairs recruited from six major cities in Canada. The children were between ages 3 and 4 years old at testing.


Fluoride crosses the placenta and then to the fetal brain. In a study in China by Du Li of fetuses from the fifth to eighth weeks of gestation from areas with high and low fluoride in the water, the density of brain cells was lower in high fluoride communities. This study showed that chronic fluorosis in the fetus results in brain cell damage.

Where can pregnant mothers get a significant amount of fluoride in the Philippines? They can get it from black tea. Black tea sticks were found to have 0.95 to 1.45 mg/l, black tea granules have 0.7- to 2.44 mg/l, and black tea bags have 1.15 to 6.01 mg/l. The bags have a high content of fluoride because they have older tea leaves.

Elevated content of fluoride in groundwater was found in the coastal area of Cavite city, Noveleta, Bacoor, and Kawit. Fluoride is found also in insecticides, rodenticides, floor polishes, petroleum and aluminum industries, coal burning, glass itching, and timber preservatives.

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Who should tell pregnant mothers about these new findings? Pediatricians, family practitioners, and obstetricians should include such preventive advice during routine visits. They can help reduce the number of children with language delay and mild mental retardation.

Dr. Leonardo Leonidas,
[email protected]
TAGS: Mother, pregnancy

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