From undetected MTHFR genetic mutations to infections like Lyme bacteria, women have much to consider when planning to have a family. When I went to the US for treatments years ago part of the routine blood work included screening for the MTHFR genetic mutation. For treatments this information was valuable because it explained my inability to detox properly, led to coagulation testing (which I ended up having), and provided insight as to why I was deficient in some nutrients. I was focused on Lyme treatment but what I learned relates to any woman trying to conceive. Continue reading to discover what I have learned about common but little known reasons for miscarriage, infertility, and transmission of infections to babies.
It saddens me that so many Canadian women and physicians are not aware of this genetic mutation or the test for it. A pregnant woman with an undeteced MTHFR mutation is at risk for multiple miscarriages or infertility. It causes everything from blood clots to neural tube defects. The following explains:
The MTHFR mutation causes blood clots. My blood is coagulated as detected by a PTT test. I have to be on anticoagulant injections. I take two subcutaneous shots of Lovenox each day to “thin” my blood and prevent blood clots. This is key. Without doing this my red blood cells clump together and do not properly carry oxygen. In pregnancy, a woman with this problem could miscarry because not enough oxygen would find its way through the umbilical cord blood to the fetus. I have written posts previously about coagulation and Lovenox. Please refer to these for detailed information. But in the case of pregnancy it is imperative that pregnant women find someone who can test her PTT level and other panels for coagulation and possible blood clots. Doing a daily injection throughout the pregnancy can prevent miscarriage.
Also, a woman with the MTHFR mutation CANNOT rely on prenatal vitamins. The mutation does not allow the body to properly “process” folic acid and various B vitamins into the methylated, absorbable versions. An MTHFR mutation prevents the body from converting folic acid into l-methylfolate. You can ingest ten times the normal amount of folic acid and the fetus will still not be provided with the methylfolate it needs to survive. A woman can take something like Folapro, which is the active form of folate called L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, and other B vitamins in a form that are easily absorbed and “processed” by the body.
Finally, the MTHFR mutation elevates homocysteine, which is a contributing factor in pregnancy loss, infertility, and other serious concerns.
An experienced and highly educated naturopathic doctor will be able to help you test for this mutation and find the proper treatments and supplements to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Estrogen dominance does not always shows up on bloodwork. It was never detected on my routine blood work, and not even during appointments with female health specialists. However, it was clinically diagnosed that estrogen was likely most responsible for my wicked PMS. The answer was progesterone birth control. I naively did this because I thought it would help. However, increasing one hormone does not lower the others. Later I found a TCM doctor who found estrogen dominance evidence during a live blood analysis. She explained that environmental toxins were causing an increase in my estrogen levels. From the processed food I ate to the chemicals I breathed in to the plastic containers in which I packed my lunch, I wasn’t able to flush the xenoestrogens out of my body. This explained the crippling pain, insane bloating, and even deep, dark depression that hit once a month. The TCM doctor put me on a natural estrogen detox, to eat up the extra estrogen. Within three weeks I was well. A normal, uneventful period. Whew! And within two months, pregnant! Talk about surprises.
Infections cause fertility issues. In my case, nothing strikes fear like congenital Lyme disease. Lyme leads to miscarriage often. Other times, babies make it to term but are infected. Most of the children I have personally met with congenital Lyme seemed healthy at birth, but as time passed symptoms appeared. Everything from digestive unease to vision problems to slow growth to learning disabilities. If left untreated children will eventually become quite ill and the infections will suppress the immune system. By age five or six a child may have asthma, allergies, emotional problems, and pain. Usually the infections settle in the kidneys and spleen, as well as bone marrow. Bone pain from infection is often mistaken for growing pains in later years. I have read enough articles, watched enough documentaries, and met enough kids with Lyme to be highly aware. Below is a summary of what I have learned. If interested in having a family, female Lymies should read the works of Dr. Charles Ray Jones, Dr. Richard Horowitz, and Dr. Burrascano.
- Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme bacteria) and associated coinfections like Bartonella and Babesia, can be transmitted transplacentally to the fetus.
- Bb has been found in breast milk, despite what the CDC and other case studies by medical authorities report.
- If tested at birth (placenta and umbilical cord blood should be sent away for testing), parents can begin treating with a paediatric Lyme specialist. The sooner the better. In most cases an infant or toddler needs only six months of treatment to eradicate the disease. Left untreated, the child may grow up to become quite ill and disabled.
- To prevent transmission in utero, a combination of medications from varying antibiotic families is the key. Without treatment there is up to a 66% chance of transmission of infections to the fetus. With one antibiotic like amoxicillin or bicillin injections the risk of transmission is reduced to 25%. But with a combination of two or more antibiotics, the chance of congenital Lyme is reduced to just 5%.
- Some women remain on the antibiotic combination while breastfeeding. Others opt to use formula to prevent any chance of transmission of infections via breast milk.
- Antibiotics like penicillins, cephalosporins, and macrolides like Zithromax are considered safe in pregnancy (Zithromax does not readily cross the placenta, so it is more for the mother).
- Clindamycin IVs are effective in the second and third trimesters, especially when there are coinfections like Babesia.
- Cleocin (Clindamycin), Mepron (atovaquone), and Zithromax are a combination for prevention of Babesia during the third trimester.
- Imtramuscular injections of Bicillin LA are very effective, especially in women with severe morning sickness who cannot tolerate oral amoxicillin. The injections provide a stable dosage each week. Usually doctors prescribe 2.4 million units, divided between two shots, one in each hip, once a week. If taking amoxicillin, Lyme specialists recommend 1000mg TID.
- Rocephin IVs, especially during the first trimester when organs are developing, may prove to be a wise choice. It also reduces the risk of miscarriage by preventing early infection and complications due to Lyme.
- In a sense, Lyme in pregnancy can be likened to syphilis. If a pregnant woman suffers from the spirochetal bacteria syphilis, she is routinely tested and treated with intramuscular bicillin injections. Like syphilis, Lyme can cause miscarriage, low birth weight, or deformities.
The female body is complicated and complex. We are still discovering how it works and new means to improving female health. This above is just a crude outline of what I have learned, but perhaps it will point someone who is suffering in the right direction.