As many of you will be aware from the media there is currently a health alert for pregnant women in relation to the Zika virus. The Zika virus infection is a mild febrile viral illness associated with a possible rash, headache and joint aches. The virus is transmitted by a specific type of mosquito. Incubation phase is usually 3-12 days & symptoms improve within 7 days. There is currently no antiviral treatment for the Zika Virus.

Aedes aegypti is the mosquito that carries the virus it is also the vector for Dengue Fever & Malaria. It is found in Central and South America, the Caribbean, tropical Africa, South East Asia, Pacific Islands & other subtropical areas including North Queensland and some parts of Central Queensland.

Many will have not heard of the virus before although it is not a new virus having been first discovered in monkeys in the Zika Forest in Uganda, in the 1940’s. The outbreaks in the past have been small and infrequent and thought not to have caused harm. In 2015 an outbreak of the virus in Brazil that affected over 1 million people has resulted in scientists making possible links with Zika and developmental malformations in foetus’s.


Pregnant women or those planning pregnancy are advised where possible to postpone travel to affected areas.


If travelling to possible affected areas, precautions are needed day & night.

  • Long sleeved shirts & pants
  • Insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin (safe to use by pregnant & or breastfeeding women  & on infants older than 2 months)
  • If you use sunscreen as well, apply sunscreen first followed by repellent.
  • Bed Nets
  • Stay & sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms

**Remember after rain to check around your property and garden & empty any water in vessels to discourage the mosquito population in your own environment multiplying!

Further information can be found via the following links.


http:// www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/mosquito.aspx




Healthy Eating Guidelines for Life & Pregnancy

The Australian Dietary Guidelines updated their recommendations a year or so ago. Many of you who might have been familiar with the “Healthy Food Pyramid or Healthy Food Circle” may not have seen the change to these diagrams and their associated information.

Visually it hasn’t changed but the content inside has been updated to reflect current recommendations. There are now 5 layers in the pyramid or divisions of the pie (circle). This diagrammatic representation is by no means new and has been in existence for 30 years. In 2012 a survey revealed that the average Australian was getting over a third of their daily energy requirements from junk food.

The evidence is mounting that many are confused about food types and the nutritional levels of food and this has lead to the change in the food “pyramid” guidelines for the first time in 15 years. Food fads & diets are very topical and there are not many days that these aren’t being discussed in the media. Add to this the large number of reality programs on TV & cooking programs and it is no wonder people are feeling overwhelmed.

Over the next few weeks I plan to break down the Pyramid and explain it at each level including food amount  and provide additional dietary requirements for pregnancy where it is recommended.

Reference -http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/news/2015/05/new-look-healthy-eating-pyramid-help-tackle-nutrition-confusion


World Breastfeeding Week

As this week nears its end I thought I would bring to your attention that it is World Breastfeeding Week. The WBW campaign commenced 23 years ago. The theme this year is “Working Women & Breastfeeding”, Over the last two decades there have been ongoing campaigns to improve conditions including  maternity payments, questioning of marketing practices by milk supplement companies  and encouraging  more work places to be mother-friendly. The focus for 2015 is for global action to occur to support the working women’s rights to breastfeed.

The 2015 Slogan is “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s make it work”.

The Objectives of WBW 2015 are:

  1. Galvanise multi-dimensional support from all sectors to enable women everywhere to work and breastfeed.
  2. Promote actions by employers to become Family/Parent/Baby and Mother-Friendly, and to actively facilitate and support employed women to continue breastfeeding.
  3. Inform people about the latest in global Maternity Protection entitlements, and raise awareness of the need to strengthen related national legislation and implementation
  4. Strengthen, facilitate and showcase supportive practices that enable women working in the informal sector to breastfeed
  5. Promote actions by employers to become Family/Parent/Baby and Mother-Friendly, and to actively facilitate and support employed women to continue breastfeeding.

Many countries around the world have been actively involved in promoting WBW 2015 this week. In Australia the Australian Breastfeeding Association(ABA) launched its “Friendly Workplace Program “. Their aim is to encourage all employers to provide clean, safe & friendly environments where women can express or feed their infants at work. Education of fellow employees is also key to the success of such programs.  In Australia 96% of women initiate breastfeeding but by 5 months of age there are only 15 % still exclusively breastfeeding.  In Guanzhou,China this week there was a “Flash Mob” of breastfeeding mothers  with their family supports standing around them at Canton Tower! Their aim was to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding and encourage the government to provide breastfeeding rooms in the cities so that women would feel more comfortable to breastfeed away from their home environment. Breastfeeding rates in China are very low with only 16% of the population  breastfeeding  in the first 6 months.

Are you or someone you know returning to work soon? Is the employer struggling with what they need to do to make the workplace a more supportive environment for women breastfeeding and or expressing?  The ABA can help, they have a resource pack that will guide your employer and help them achieve this goal. They also have great fact sheets that will help you start the conversation!

Supporting women in the workplace makes good business sense. The benefits include less absenteeism, reduced recruitment costs and improved retention rates.

“ Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s make it work”.