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Palmwine is harmful to nursing mother and breast-feeding child | Managing fever blisters

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  • Palmwine is harmful to nursing mother and breast-feeding child
  • Managing fever blisters
Rotimi Adesanya

Palmwine is harmful to nursing mother and breast-feeding child
Written by Rotimi Adesanya - Nigeria. 
Blog site: 

My pastor‘s wife sought advice from me, regarding the choice of hospital for her pregnant sister in-law who was due for child birth. The latter had returned from her base in another West African country, where she had been receiving ante natal care, to be delivered of her baby.

I suggested a few hospitals to her, based on their location, competence of the medical staff and convenience. Eventually the patient was successfully delivered of a baby girl with normal weight. Both mother and child were fine.
On my way to congratulate her and to see the baby girl, who was doing well at the time, I met my pastor’s wife at the reception and noticed she was worried. The following conversation ensued between us:

Me: Congrats Ma, where have you been?
Pastor’s wife: Doctor, I’ve been out all day in search of palm wine for the new mum.
Me: Palm wine! Palm what!
Pastor’s wife: The nurse asked me to get some for the new mum so that she could lactate.
Me: No ma, you need to hold on. You don’t need to get it and your sister in-law doesn’t need palm wine either.
Pastor’s wife: But the nurse asked us to get it. Anyway, thank God. And thank you.
Later I approached the nurse who directed that palm wine be given to the nursing mother. I asked if she knew that palm wine contained up to six per cent alcohol and it could affect the baby if consumed through breast milk.

The nurse admitted that palm wine was not prescribed by the doctor. She said that although the act of giving a nursing mother palm wine to boost lactation was not a medically proved treatment, it was a cultural practice that never failed to work.

Medical explanation

Naturally palm wine is a low-alcoholic drink and its alcoholic content is as little as three per cent. But fermented palm wine has the potential to breed as high 12 per cent alcoholic content.

When palm wine is consumed by a nursing mum, it passes into the breast milk.
It is on record that there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption while breastfeeding.
Mothers should avoid alcohol in the first month of childbirth till breastfeeding is well established lest it impedes the milk flow.

It takes about two hours for the average woman to clear a unit of alcohol from her system. Therefore, it takes four hours to clear two units of alcohol and so on, as the case may be.
Effect of alcoholic drinks on nursing mothers
Using alcohol may make a nursing mum to fall into a deep sleep, which can be dangerous to the baby.

Mums who are going to drink alcoholic beverages are strongly advised not to put their babies in their cots rather than lying next to them on the bed.
They may not wake up for the baby’s next feed, if the baby becomes distressed. They are to make ‘safety plans’ by allowing a responsible adult to take care of the baby.
Palm wine is used by some mums as post natal beverage. This is dangerous to health because the level of alcohol in breast milk remains close to the one in the mother’s bloodstream.
Alcohol will be at the highest level between 30 and 60 minutes after consumption or 90 minutes if drinking with a meal.

It takes two hours for a unit of alcohol (a small glass of wine, or half a pint of beer) to leave a mother’s blood.

Effect of alcoholic beverages on breastfeeding infants

While large amounts of alcohol in breast milk can have a sedative effect on babies, it is more likely to make them agitated and disrupt their sleep patterns.
When a nursing mother takes it, it gets into the breast milk and the baby sleeps and nobody is suckling anything. Soon, the mother starts complaining that she is not lactating enough.
Alcohol inhibits a mother’s let-down (the release of milk to the nipple). Studies have shown that babies take around 20 per cent less milk if there’s alcohol present. So, they will need to feed more often.

Some infants have been known to go on ‘nursing strike’, probably because of the altered taste of alcohol in the milk.
In conclusion, drinking palm wine by breastfeeding mums is counterproductive because it is proved scientifically that palm wine does not make the breast flow. It reduces the flow, contrary to perceived increase by traditions.
The act of palmwine drinking by new mums is a myth, with no scientific basis or benefit. Most importantly, it is a HARMFUL PRACTICE.

Managing fever blisters
Written by Rotimi Adesanya - Nigeria. 

Blog site: 

A middle aged man had come for treatment in the hospital. He had multiple sores on his lips. The sores were giving him tingling and painful sensations. He said it was a symptom of malaria, that whenever sores appeared, he treated malaria (self medication) and he would be free of the sores.

Contrary to popular belief, cold sore or fever blisters is not a symptom or sign of malaria or typhoid fever. However, such recurrent sores are triggered by stress, illness, fever, menstrual periods, surgery and low immunity.

Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are a common viral infection. They are tiny, fluid-filled blisters on and around the lips.

After the blisters break, a crust forms over the resulting sore. Cold sores usually heal in two to four weeks without leaving a scar.
The World Health Organisation published a study recently, noting that two-thirds of the world’s population under 50 has the highly infectious herpes virus that causes cold sores around the mouth.

Cold sores are caused by a herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), closely related to the one that causes genital herpes, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).
Both of these viruses can affect the mouth or genitals and can be spread by oral sex. Cold sores are contagious even if the sores are not available.
Other names for cold sores caused by HSV-1 are oral herpes, mouth herpes and herpes simplex labialis.

Herpes is also a very common sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by one of two different viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Once herpes has been contracted, it remains in the body for life.

While HSV-1 is more often found in the oral area, it can be contracted genitally as well and, in the same vein, HSV-2 is primarily found in the genital area, but can be contracted orally.
When someone has an outbreak of sores, they are most contagious and therefore at the highest risk of transmitting the virus. However, even when someone does not have any symptoms, it is still possible to pass the virus.

Tingling, itching, or burning, sores; one or more painful, fluid-filled blisters may appear. Blisters break open and often ooze fluid and form a crust, before healing.
For oral herpes (HSV-1), most blisters appear on the lips or around the mouth. Sometimes blisters form on the face or on the tongue.

Although these are the most common places to find oral herpes, the sores can appear anywhere on the skin.
Genital herpes (HSV-2): Sores typically occur on the penis, vagina, buttocks or anus. Women can have sores inside the vagina. Like oral herpes, these sores can also appear anywhere on the skin.

Flu-like symptoms: Fever, muscle aches, or swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck (oral herpes) or groin (genital herpes) are possible.
Problems urinating: People (most often women) with genital herpes may have trouble urinating or have a burning feeling while urinating.
Eye infection (herpes keratitis): Sometimes the herpes simplex virus can spread to one or both eyes. If this happens, one can have pain, light sensitivity, discharge, and a gritty feeling in the eye.

Without prompt treatment, scarring of the eye may result. Scarring can lead to a cloudy vision and even loss of vision.

When there is a warning sign of an outbreak, people are to refrain from sexual contacts. Warning signs may include a burning, itching or tingling feeling.
It is advisable not to have vaginal, anal, or oral sex — even with a condom. Wait until seven days after the sore heals.

Use condoms between outbreaks to reduce the risk of transmission. Also, use herpes treatments. The risk of transmission can be greatly reduced if the partner with herpes takes a small daily dose of anti-herpes medication.

There are medications that can help speed up the healing of sores and prevent them from returning. Such medicines, when taken on a daily basis, can decrease recurrence frequency to about once per year. And if a recurrence does occur, it is generally milder and lasts for a shorter time.

I will be concluding this piece with genital herpes, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) since this is also of serious public health importance.

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