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Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Hub

Drug misuse in pregnancy

Comment:  Im currently in university and doing a essay on drug use in pregnancy. I was hoping you may be able to send me some statistics on this. Thank you very much. L. (UK)

Answer: Unfortunately national statistics for the UK are not available. This is an area that has bedevilled health statisticians because of the difficulty in collecting reliable data. You can certainly get reliable data on alcohol and smoking in pregnancy but for illicit drugs, things aren’t so straight-forward. There are many surveys done which give an idea on the extent but it is acknowledged by all that this is one problem that is under-reported. There is also the fact that there are so many different substances that are misused, to varying degrees and with some using more than one simultaneously. You may have better luck simply using your local hospital to source this information. If they collect these statistics, they will almost certainly be happy to help you. Whilst this may not be representative nationally, it may very well serve the purpose. If your assay is taking a global view, here is a rounded figure from the United States (hover for a larger image)

Ruptured membranes

Question:  Can you please explain to me a ruptured membrane during labour? What would be the cause? How serious is it? M.S. (UK)

Answer: Membrane rupture is simply the medical term for the breaking of waters. It is not a complication. When waters break by themselves that is termed ‘spontaneous rupture of membranes (SROM)’. When waters are broken deliberately by the midwife or doctor as is sometimes done on inducing labour or during labour itself, the term is ‘artificial rupture of membranes (ARM)’. It is a normal part of the labour process.

Prolonged pregnancy up to a year?

Question:  Are there pregnancies that last up to a year? What are the causes and chances of child survival. Thanks. S.B. (Kenya)

Answer: The probability of a pregnancy being prolonged up to a year and the baby surviving is so small that, it can safely be discounted.It is true that in the literature there is a story of one American woman named Beulah Hunter who is supposed to hold the record for the longest pregnancy ever. This is supposed to have lasted 375 days so, well over a year. However, this is from the 1930s and reliability of the report is extremely suspect. Many now believe that this woman would have indeed been pregnant, probably miscarried early on and proceeded to conceive again within a month or so thereby leading doctors to believe it was the same pregnancy, just abnormally prolonged. Remember, these were days when there was no ultrasound scanning.

The placenta, on which the fetus is wholly dependent, has got a strictly limited functional life-span. It is very difficult to see how it can support a fetus for 3 or 4 weeks beyond its natural life-span which is the 42 weeks of human gestation. I suppose this is something that will be very difficult to prove because intervention is always made whenever a pregnancy appears to be going beyond 42 weeks and certainly by 43 weeks, every baby will either have arrived spontaneously or been delivered otherwise. This is a subject we have covered in considerable detail here:

Vaginal ultrasound and hymen integrity

Question:  Does ultrasound break virginity to virgins if performed to their reproductive system? K. (USA)

Answer: The hymen is a band of tissue that can be broken relatively easily by anything inserted into the vaginal canal. The ultrasound probe (see image below) used to perform this test can indeed break the hymen. In many cases where the vaginal approach is required to get clearer details, if the woman is a virgin, she could be offered to have the ultrasound performed rectally whereby the probe is inserted in the back-passage.  This is, in fact, the approach used for children when this is deemed necessary.

This alternative approach, if acceptable to the woman, will give results which are just as good. However, in many cases, the vaginal approach for a pelvic ultrasound is not  absolutely necessary as the abdominal approach is sufficient to get all the required information and therefore the issue does not arise.

Termination of pregnancy

Question:  Am 4 -5 months pregnant and am from zambia,what's the best and quickest abortion pill to use? K. (Kuwait)

Answer: We do not offer that kind of advice as it has legal implications in different countries. I see from your IP address that you are in Kuwait. Abortion is probably illegal in that country. As for the ethical questions from your planned action, those are for you and your conscience to answer but you may find that, health-wise, at such an advanced stage, termination of pregnancy could put your life in peril unless done in a proper setting. I hope you make the right decision.