March 7, 2012

What you pass on to your child

Posted by maithili at 5:55 PM
Darlings, this is a new section started at Darlings of Venus. Like they say- Educate a woman and you educate a family, this section has been started to educated us about health. As nurturers, it is important that we are equipped with the correct knowledge about medicines, healthcare and nutrition. This is a small step towards the same. 
We are thankful for Dr Roshan who has agreed to share his knowledge here at Darlings of Venus. He will be posting regularly on this section. Thank you Dr Roshan for sparing your precious time for this work.

“What you pass on to your child”
Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan

In the early 50s, a drug was introduced into the market that provided pain relief, a calming of the senses and even treated headaches, coughs, colds and insomnia. As if that weren't enough, it even stopped morning sickness in pregnant women. Heck, the only thing it didn't do was tap dance and clean the dishes. In short, it was a miracle drug. It was called thalidomide. And it was available over the counter at pharmacies without even a prescription.

Everyone wants to be a good parent. They want people to 'like' their kid's Facebook pictures, like his playful giggles and sleeping faces. They want to teach their kid everything that is good in life and pass on all the wealth of information that they've learned ( and probably ignored when their own parents tried to teach it to them ). But the fact is that this isn't the first thing you pass on to your child. Infact, the first thing you pass on to your child may be the thing that defines who he is for the rest of his life. And not in the way you want it to be.

In today's day and age, we are blessed that we all have information literally in the palm of our hands. I bet half of you are probably reading this article from a smart phone. But back then, in the 50s, you relied on the information that was given to you. In the 50s, nobody believed that the drugs taken by a mother could reach the child. Thalidomide changed that.

Of all the mothers who took the drug back then, an overwhelming majority of the mothers gave birth to children with birth defects and deformities , including the rare 'genetic' disorder called phocomelia (Google it if you want pictures, I ain't placing any in this post ). Of these deformed children, only 50 % survived the first month, which was actually a blessing in disguise. You see, the children who survived were born with miniature arms and were blind, deaf and had heart conditions and even missing lungs in some cases.
In 5 short years, the miracle drug had killed over 10,000 new born children world wide.

More than half of all pregnancies are unplanned for. That is normal. It's one of the biggest joys of family life and shouldn't be scheduled based on a clock or an astrological chart. But in today's day and age, where medicinal drugs, smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs are all considered the norm, the things you take into your system when you don't know you're pregnant may itself cause irreparable damage to your unborn child. The first trimester ( 1st 12 weeks ) is considered the period of organogenesis - when your child's organs start developing. These are key months as infections, illnesses or medications during this period can cause permanent damage to the newborn child. I've personally lost count of the number of women I've seen crying as I've had to provide anaesthesia for removing a lost fetus.

So what about women who are on medication ( asthmatics, diabetics, hypertensives, epileptics, cancer patients ) before the pregnancy, who get exposed to environmental factors ( x-rays, ct scans, women on oral contraceptives ) or need medicines during the pregnancy ( infections, severe nausea and vomiting ) - what about them ?
Well, the simple fact is that not all drugs are harmful to your newborn child. Infact, in the case of hypertensives and diabetics, it maybe essential to take for the mothers to take their medications as stable values can prevent abnormalities to the child and mother. Some of the strongest drugs are extremely safe and effective to the child you nurture within you. Some of the most common medications you have in your cabinet right now may destroy this new life.

Know your medications. The most commonly quoted body in this regard is the Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) which categorised drugs based on their safety during pregnancy as A,B,C,D and X - where A was safe and drugs marked X had a high risk of fetal damage. Thanks to the work of the FDA and corresponding bodies worldwide, most of the key drugs used on a daily basis and now mapped under these categories. Use their results effectively.

In the Mahabharata, the knowledge of how to enter the Chakravyuh battle formation was passed on to Abhimanyu as his father told it to his mother while Abhimanyu was still in her womb. It's considered the first documented evidence of 'passing on to the child'. ( It's probably also the youngestdocumented case of a child listening to his parents talking, but that's beside the point.) As you all go through the joys and vagaries of pregnancy, I'm sure you'll each have your own eccentricities : maybe it will be playing Carpenters and Michael Learns to Rock continuously so that your kid grows up a romantic, maybe it will be teaching her the joy of mascara at an early age so that she becomes a beauty pageant winner, maybe it will be throwing mango seeds left handed so that he will be a Zaheer Khan, maybe you will be inspired by this article and read IIT entrance books aloud while you're pregnant hoping for the next genius in the family ( after you, of course ).
But before all this, you have an obligation to your child. To keep him safe within you while he's still a part of your body. Above all else, that will define the rest of his life.

Don't hesitate to seek out a doctor for help regarding any queries related to the medications or recreational additives you take and how they can affect you once you're pregnant and the alternatives/options available to you. It isn’t enough anymore to seek the age old advice on whether or not to eat tamarind or papaya during pregnancy. Remember, ignorance is bliss is a swell dialogue.
But no child in this day and age deserves to die/ be born malformed because of it.

Author’s note : I’m really thankful to Maithili for giving me the chance to be the guest blogger at
Darlings of Venus. While I hardly ever blog on medical topics in my own blog, I felt perhaps I’d be of more use here as a doctor who blogs than the inverse ( a blogger who docs ? ) Anyway, I hope the blog was helpful to you all and I’d be more than glad to answer any questions you have.

Entries from other healthcare professionals accepted under this section. If you are not a professional but would want to write something about health or nutrition or share an article, please contact us at


Smita on March 8, 2012 at 2:34 PM said...

Nice post maithili and nice to know we will be having such informative posts in future also.

But is it really possible that whatever a woman do in her pregnancy is transferred to her child in womb? Like if she reads good religious books, remains calm, or loves all then the baby born would also be likewise?

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan on March 8, 2012 at 5:37 PM said...

while we do wish the child hears what we say in the womb, there really aren't any definitive studies to prove it, Smita. Children born with certain characteristics are usually chalked down to the behaviour of one/either of the parents in general, not necessarily the 9 months in the womb.
"Passing on" refers here to the more literal "passing on of drugs and medicines" from mom to child.

Viya ;) on March 8, 2012 at 9:04 PM said...

Wow! that was a very informative post.. i din't know medicines could have such extreme reactions ..
I wonder what my mum did to pass on the 'over hyper energy' to me.. :P :P .. but on a serious note, Thank you so much Dr.Roshan for such an informative post :) on March 9, 2012 at 12:42 AM said...

too good ,very informative post .. thanks for sharing.

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan on March 9, 2012 at 6:40 PM said...

Viya, Harman Singh... thanks. Glad you felt it was informative. There was a lot of medical jargon edited out to make it readable to normal readers too.

Unknown on March 16, 2015 at 11:14 AM said...

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