Health Check

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    Allergy season is upon us, my friends. Are you ready? It's time to gather your allergy survival kit. We asked our fellow sufferers what must-have remedies they keep on hand every year -- besides the obvious boxes and boxes of the softest tissues you can find. Oh, and the big guns: Steroid nasal spray and allergy shots. Yikes! We're talking about soothers you can get without a prescription and keep in a basket on your desk, in your bedside table drawer, and in your glove compartment.

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    When you've made up your mind that you want to start trying to conceive, it can be tricky knowing exactly when you should be doing it. Over-the-counter ovulation tests can help, but you may even have better (and less expensive) success taking cues from your  body by following the ovulation method (or Billings method). The idea is that the better a woman can recognize her body's own sign of fertility -- cervical mucus -- the better she can identify her most fertile (and infertile) days.

    There are four different phases of discharge, with the first being the most fertile. By knowing what all four look like, you'll be more likely to recognize your most fertile cervical mucus (and know when to have sex for best results).

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    Whether you consider yourself a "crunchy," natural, tree-huggin' mama or not, every mom wants to know that the personal care products she's buying for her baby are as safe as they are effective. But unfortunately, labels like "natural," "vegan," "eco-friendly," "organic" get thrown around a lot without much regulation. It can be maddeningly difficult for even the savviest parent to distinguish between green-washed marketing and what's actually non-toxic.

    Thankfully, looking for key ingredients and language can help. Here, your ultimate guide to steering clear of sneaky chemicals to get the cleanest, greenest, and safest products out there ...

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    From the minute they find out they're pregnant, women are inundated with a laundry list of warnings about potential hazards and dangers that could befall them or their baby. Among them now more than ever: A trillion red flags related to what we're doing or might accidentally do to cause kids' autism, from taking antidepressants to having kids at "advanced maternal and paternal age." Needless to say, having to juggle and weigh out all the potential culprits can be terribly stressful! Thankfully, a new statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) should put our minds at ease about at least one thing!

    In the new issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the ACOG notes that there is no connection between inducing labor in childbirth and autism.

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    Ever notice that you've just gotten a baby into a routine when everything changes? Welcome to parenthood, where nothing stays the same for more than a minute (OK, maybe two!). That includes your baby's eating routine.

    You've just got breastfeeding or bottle-feeding down to a science, and now it's time to start baby on solid foods. But when do you actually start baby on solids? And what should they eat? Is it fruits before veggies? Veggies before fruits? And what is this cereal everyone is talking about?

    Your answer is here!

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    Moms may be rethinking their birth plans after hearing about a new study out of Argentina, published in The Lancet. It found newborns held immediately after birth have benefits we haven't even been considering. While expectant moms have most likely heard how skin-to-skin contact with their infant immediately following the birth bolsters bonding and a plethora of physical boons for baby, the latest research shows it could also boost the use of delayed cord clamping and potentially reduce the number of infants with iron deficiency.

    Current guidelines suggest that the baby be held at the level of the mother's placenta (which can be awkward and uncomfortable for the person holding the newborn) before the umbilical cord is clamped. But the new study found that the baby can be held at the mother's stomach or chest and still get similar amounts of blood transferred from the placenta.

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    As if pregnant women weren't already inundated with advice to "not do this" and "definitely do that!" Now a study suggests that women who gain more or less weight than recommended during pregnancy end up giving birth to kids with an increased risk of childhood obesity. Pregnancy weight gain recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggest that, depending on your BMI, you should gain anywhere from 11-20 (if you're technically "obese") to 28-40 pounds (if you're "underweight"). Women who are "normal" weight should gain 25-35, while women who are "overweight" 15-25. (Recommendations differ if you're carrying twins.)

    But how many moms-to-be actually gain the perfect number of pounds during pregnancy?

    While it's far from scientific, we had to wonder what moms have noticed themselves about their pregnancy weight gain (or lack thereof) affecting their child's weight. Here's what they shared ... 

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    Poor Rob Kardashian. A report has come out saying he has checked into rehab. While the rest of the family seems to be moving on to more exciting phases of their lives, he seems stuck. His enormous weight gain is no secret, and it's embarrassed him so much that it's questionable if he'll even attend Kim's wedding in a month or blow it off like he did the family trips to Greece and Thailand. But Rob has purportedly decided that he needs more than a strict diet. Star magazine claims that Rob has checked himself into rehab for "trauma and addiction" issues.

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    It seems like every month, a new study points to a possible cause of autism. This week, research published in the online issue of Pediatrics out of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health notes that boys with autism were three times more likely to have been exposed to SSRI antidepressants (like Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, etc.) in the womb than typically developing children. The study also found that boys whose mothers took SSRIs during pregnancy were also more likely to have developmental delays.

    To hear these conclusions is initally unnerving to say the least, considering how moms who face depression during pregnancy were already feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place.

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    Some things you can never truly understand unless you actually experience it. The top of that list? Childbirth and motherhood. Also pretty high, as far as I'm concerned, is eczema. If you've spent your life with perfectly smooth skin on your body, it's hard to get what one of those horrid flare-ups is really like. If you have it, you know what I mean. Here are 5 things only an eczema sufferer could truly understand.

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