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Another Possible Benefit From Birth We Didn't See Coming

Photograph by Twenty20

Anyone can have a stroke, even babies and children—it's the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S.

Also? It kills more women than men.

Women who are at high risk for strokes, or who have had one or more, are often told to avoid getting pregnant or carrying a birth to term. Moreover, medical experts have long warned that having lots of kids—four or more—can lead to early warning signs of heart disease, which is often the cause of strokes.

Despite what doctors had counseled, plenty of higher risk women when ahead and kept having babies. A new study shows they might not have been so crazy to do that. New data suggests that having more kids may actually benefit stroke victims during the recovery process.

(Recommended grain of salt: the data is based on studies of mice.)

According to Dr. Rodney Ritzel, "Mice that were pregnant and had given birth had less brain inflammation, smaller brain injuries, and recovered better after stroke, despite showing signs of increased cardiovascular risk."

So, does this mean that moms at risk for—or who have suffered from—strokes can safely give birth to, say, a whole bunch more kids in their lifetime? Not necessarily.

Not only does this shed a bit more light on the brain, but also on reproduction and women's health.

It can take anywhere from 6 months to a year of fully focused, intensive rehabilitative therapy for a person to get back on their feet following a stroke—if they are lucky. While some are stunned emotionally, others can become physically, sometimes permanently, paralyzed for life.

The study takes an interesting look into human biology and shows how reproduction can be an asset in recovery from a stroke. Not only does this shed a bit more light on the brain, but also on reproduction and women's health. It makes you wonder what other health benefits we are getting from pregnancy, especially for our brains, that we don't even realize.

Strokes are scary and unpredictable. It's important to recognize the warning signs and ask your doctor before trying to conceive, especially if you've suffered (or are at risk for) a stroke. I mean, just because the study was on mice, doesn't mean it can't happen to us.

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