Woman who endured stillbirth pleads with tech companies to cease baby ads

A woman who recently suffered a stillbirth penned an emotional letter to technology companies this week about how she still receives baby-related advertisements even after she shared on social media that her son had died. Gillian Brockell first shared her open letter to Facebook, Instagram, Experian and Twitter on the latter platform on Tuesday. It came … Continue reading “Woman who endured stillbirth pleads with tech companies to cease baby ads”

A woman who recently suffered a stillbirth penned an emotional letter to technology companies this week about how she still receives baby-related advertisements even after she shared on social media that her son had died.

Gillian Brockell first shared her open letter to Facebook, Instagram, Experian and Twitter on the latter platform on Tuesday. It came more than a week after an earlier post in which she revealed the sad update about her son.

Brockell, a video editor at The Washington Post, was at the hospital when she shared the post and was “in the process of delivering” her son, who she said would “be stillborn.”

Her note to tech companies was also posted on her employer’s website.

“I know you knew I was pregnant,” Brockell wrote before admitting to using hashtags and clicking on advertisements that were related to her pregnancy. The companies likely noticed the pictures and her post about her baby shower, as well as her Google searches pertaining to her being an expecting mother, she wrote.

“But didn’t you also see me googling ‘braxton hicks vs. preterm labor’ and ‘baby not moving’? Did you not see my three days of social media silence, uncommon for a high-frequency user like me? And then the announcement post with keywords like ‘heartbroken’ and ‘problem’ and ‘stillborn’ and the 200 teardrop emoticons from my friends?” Brockell asked. “Is that not something you could track?”

“And let me tell you what social media is like when you finally come home from the hospital with the emptiest arms in the world, after you and your husband have spent days sobbing in bed, and you pick up your phone for a few minutes of distraction before the next wail,” she wrote. “It’s exactly, crushingly, the same as it was when your baby was still alive. A Pea in the Pod. Motherhood Maternity. Latched Mama. Every damn Etsy tchotchke I was considering for the nursery.”

And despite hitting the “I don’t want to see this ad” option and relaying that the advertisements were “not relevant to me,” Brockell claimed that the companies’ algorithm determined that she had “given birth.”

It “assumes a happy result,” she continued, adding that she was then sent ads for items like strollers and nursing bras.

Experian, she said, urged her through a spam email to “’finish registering your baby’ with them.”

“Please, Tech Companies, I implore you: If your algorithms are smart enough to realize that I was pregnant, or that I’ve given birth, then surely they can be smart enough to realize that my baby died, and advertise to me accordingly — or maybe, just maybe, not at all,” she concluded.

In an addendum below her post, Brockell noted that Rob Goldman, Facebook’s Vice President of ads replied to her Twitter version of the letter.

“I am so sorry for your loss and your painful experience with our products,” Goldman wrote. “We have a setting available that can block ads about some topics people may find painful – including parenting. It still needs improvement, but please know that we’re working on it & welcome your feedback.”

Facebook and Instagram directed Fox News to the post upon request for comment.

“We cannot imagine the pain of those who have experienced this type of loss," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News. "We are continuously working on improving our advertising products to ensure they serve appropriate content to the people who use our services.”

An Experian spokesperson told Fox News that the company had contacted Brockell to apologize and share their "deepest condolences."

"While the email was not based on marketing data, we understand the inappropriate timing of the communication," Experian said.

Man whose wife died 6 days after giving birth now on mission to educate parents on maternal mortality

Tara Hansen was 29-years-old when she gave birth to her son Brandon. Her pregnancy had been a healthy one without any complications, according to her husband, Ryan Hansen.

“We made all the doctor's appointments, read all the books, did the classes, everything you expect to do during your first pregnancy,” Ryan told Fox News. “She gave birth and we had a healthy baby.”

But nearly 36-hours later, and now back at home, Tara started to experience flu-like symptoms, coupled with extreme exhaustion and fainting spells.

“She knew she didn't feel well. She knew her body shouldn't be as exhausted as she felt. She had pain in the delivery area and things of that nature and that kind of continued to the point where she just really knew that something was wrong and we needed to alert our physicians,” Hansen said.

Tara had contracted an infection and died six days after she gave birth.

She is one of the estimated 700 women who die in the U.S. from pregnancy or delivery complications a year.

Since his wife’s death, Hansen has created The Tara Hansen Foundation, an organization dedicated to the advancement of maternal health awareness.

60 percent of the maternal deaths in the U.S. are preventable.

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

“Having the realization that this wasn’t just her, just wasn’t our family, that this is an event that’s happening all across the country to different women in different places from different economic statuses. It’s alarming how many women die each year,” he said. “I wanted to do something to educate parents.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60 percent of the maternal deaths in the U.S. are preventable.

“Women in America back in 1990 had a better chance of surviving childbirth than her daughter does today,” Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, a physician and executive director for Merck for Mothers, a program that's run by the pharmaceutical company Merck to reduce the number of maternal mortalities throughout the world.

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Etiebet said there are several reasons why the U.S continues to see maternal death rates rise. One being that there is limited data on maternal deaths, so many people don’t recognize it as a problem.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. is the only highly-developed country where deaths due to pregnancy or childbirth are increasing.

“A second reason is because more and more women are actually pregnant at the same time that they have other chronic conditions, whether it be diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity all things that increase their risk for maternal death,” Etiebet said.

Etiebet also said that doctors often don’t listen to their patients' concerns as much as they should.

“As a community, we don’t listen to women, we don’t respond to what they’re telling us and don’t integrate their needs,” Etiebet said. “We’re going to miss the warning signs and our ability to take care of women appropriately and save their lives.”

Hansen can attest to the issue of patients perhaps being overlooked by some physicians.

“I do wonder if the routine nature and the frequency of childbirth that maybe we became complacent,” he said. “Drawing on my experience it felt like you’re here, you had your baby and now you have X amount of days here and you go home, but this is a major medical event and I think to some extent maybe that was forgotten.”

Tara Hansen passed away six days after giving birth to her first child, Brandon Ryan.

To help increase patient awareness, Hansen created an initiative called “Stop, Look, Listen” with Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, that he says will help educate parents and families to be better advocates for their own care.

“We ask physicians to stop and remove themselves from what they're doing and focus on me. I need them to look at the area at hand and I need them to listen to all of my concerns,” he said.

Fox News’ Dr. Manny Alvarez said any woman can have complications after the birth of baby. Here are three of the most common complications tied with maternal morbidity and the symptoms everyone preparing for a new baby should know:

Postpartum hemorrhage:

Postpartum hemorrhage, also known as PPH is when a woman develops heavy bleeding after giving birth. It typically occurs within 1 day of giving birth, but may happen up to 12 weeks after having a baby.

Symptoms can include: severe bleeding, decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and a decrease in the red blood cell count.

“If you're soaking your pad more than one every hour or if you have a blood clot larger than the size of an egg, that's a sign that you need to seek immediate medical attention,” Dr. Etiebet said.

Postpartum preeclampsia:

Postpartum preeclampsia is the combination of high blood pressure and signs that some of the organs, like her kidneys and liver may not be working correctly. It’s often associated with swelling in the feet, legs and hands. Other symptoms may include severe headaches, changes in vision and nausea or dizziness.

Most cases of postpartum preeclampsia develop within 48 hours of childbirth, but it can sometimes develop up to six weeks or later after childbirth, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Pulmonary embolism:

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the lungs. The blockage is normally caused by a blood clot that forms in the legs or lungs. Some studies suggest PE causes 20 percent of maternal deaths. Symptoms can include: shortness of breath, chest pain, cough and leg pain or swelling.

Lindsay Carlton is a Senior video producer and writer for Fox Digital Originals. Follow her on Twitter @LCCARLTON

Mom with cancer whose search for bone marrow donor went viral gives birth to twins

A California mother who was diagnosed with leukemia while pregnant with twins gave birth to a boy and girl on Thursday, named Rainy and Ryan. Susie Rabaca, whose search for a bone marrow donor went viral last month, is reported to be doing well, according to Fox LA.

Doctors had planned for the bone marrow transplant to occur shortly after the twins’ arrival, but it was not immediately clear if a date had been set.

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Rabaca’s plea for help inspired approximately 40,000 people to register with the National Marrow Donor Program after none of her family members were found to be a donor match.

The 36-year-old, who has three other children, said finding her match was “everything.”

“For me to find one and for it to be 10 out of 10 at that, is amazing,” she previously told ABC 7. “Nothing better in the world right now.”

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The Carson, Calif. woman said she wanted to find a donor so that she could live for her children. Due to her mixed heritage, finding a perfect donor match proved difficult.

“Only 3 percent of our registry is mixed ethnicity and so it can be really difficult to find a matching donor,” Julie Kornike, of BeTheMatch.org, previously told ABC 7. “The fact that we have identified a potential match for her is really exciting.”

Colorado dad welcomes baby girl, loses wife on same day

A Colorado father who welcomed his baby girl on the same day he lost his wife is receiving help from his Littleton community after a fundraiser was started on Facebook. Frederick Connie's wife, Keyvonne, wasn’t due to give birth until mid-January, but she started hemorrhaging at their home on Nov. 30, he told KDVR.

“I’m like, ‘Are you OK?’ And I see blood everywhere,” the new dad told the news outlet.

Connie is now learning to cope with the sudden death of his wife while also learning to be a new dad. (KDVR)

Doctors told Connie he had to choose between saving his wife and potentially losing their baby, or saving the baby and potentially losing his wife. He said he did what he believes his wife would’ve wanted him to do, and elected for Keyvonne to undergo an emergency C-section to save their baby.

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Angelique Keyvonne Connie, who was named after her mother and will be called “Pooder” for short, entered the world shortly before her mother’s health began to decline.

“Literally all of her insides just went all over the bed and the floor,” Connie told KDVR. “They tried [to save her] and her heart couldn’t take it. She died before they could even get her to the surgery.”

The Connies' baby is expected to spend several weeks in the hospital, and while the new dad is struggling with both learning how to cope with his wife’s sudden death and care for a newborn, members of the community have collected funds to help him pay unexpected costs.

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LeQuita Taylor, who owns Taylor Mortuary with her husband Michael, has offered funeral and cremation services to Connie at no cost, she told KDVR. Taylor said she felt moved to help after her own traumatic experience giving birth. A Facebook fundraiser has also raised over $21,000 for the family.

Connie’s daughter, who was born prematurely, is expected to spend several weeks in the hospital. (KDVR)

“I’m financially not OK,” he told KDVR. “This debt is like piling up and I have to bury my wife, my daughter coming into the world, it’s so high right now.”

Formerly conjoined twins head home after 7 surgeries

Twin sisters headed are home this weekend for the first time in separate car seats, seven months after they were born joined at the belly, with their liver and intestines fused together. Jesi and Remi Pitre, of Apopka, Fla., have undergone seven surgeries at Gainesville’s UF Shands Children’s Hospital since their birth.

“I’m terribly excited to have them home,” Andre Pitre, the girls’ father, told Fox 35 Orlando.

Pitre and his wife, Angi, both 34, discovered the girls were conjoined early into the pregnancy, but doctors couldn’t fully determine the complexity of their case until after their birth.

BABY BORN USING UTERUS TRANSPLANTED FROM DECEASED DONOR IN MEDICAL FIRST

“You don’t hear about the cases where the babies didn’t make it,” Pitre told the news outlet. “You don’t hear about the 50 percent of cases that don’t even make it to term.”

But Angi went into labor on Mother’s Day, and the girls were born with their arms wrapped around each other. Angi stayed in an apartment in Gainesville to be near the girls, while Pitre drove back and forth for work and to care for the couple’s two other children. A GoFundMe page was started to help cover expenses.

TODDLER WITH RARE BLOOD TYPE SPARKS WORLDWIDE SEARCH FOR DONOR

While they face another surgery next year, their parents are thankful for the progress they’ve made so far.

“They’re the polar opposite,” Pitre told the Orlando Sentinel. “Jesi will be our philosopher and Remi will be our Hannah Montana wannabe.”

Baby born using uterus transplanted from deceased donor in medical first

LONDON – Brazilian doctors are reporting the world's first baby born to a woman with a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor.

Eleven previous births have used a transplanted womb but from a living donor, usually a relative or friend.

Experts said using uteruses from women who have died could make more transplants possible. Ten previous attempts using deceased donors in the Czech Republic, Turkey and the U.S. have failed.

The baby girl was delivered last December by a woman born without a uterus because of a rare syndrome. The woman — a 32-year-old psychologist — was initially apprehensive about the transplant, said Dr. Dani Ejzenberg, the transplant team's lead doctor at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine.

TODDLER WITH RARE BLOOD TYPE SPARKS WORLDWIDE SEARCH FOR DONOR

"This was the most important thing in her life," he said. "Now she comes in to show us the baby and she is so happy,"

The woman became pregnant through in vitro fertilization seven months after the transplant. The donor was a 45-year-old woman who had three children and died of a stroke.

The recipient, who was not identified, gave birth by cesarean section. Doctors also removed the womb, partly so the woman would no longer have to take anti-rejection medicines. Nearly a year later, mother and baby are both healthy.

Two more transplants are planned as part of the Brazilian study. Details of the first case were published Tuesday in the medical journal Lancet.

Uterus transplantation was pioneered by Swedish doctor Mats Brannstrom, who has delivered eight children from women who got wombs from family members or friends. Two babies have been born at Baylor University Medical Center in Texas and one in Serbia, also from transplants from living donors.

In 2016, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic transplanted a uterus from a deceased donor, but it failed after an infection developed.

"The Brazilian group has proven that using deceased donors is a viable option," said the clinic's Dr. Tommaso Falcone, who was involved in the Ohio case. "It may give us a bigger supply of organs than we thought were possible."

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The Cleveland program is continuing to use deceased donors. Falcone said the fact that the transplant was successful after the uterus was preserved in ice for nearly eight hours demonstrated how resilient the uterus is. Doctors try to keep the time an organ is without blood flow to a minimum.

Other experts said the knowledge gained from such procedures might also solve some lingering mysteries about pregnancies.

"There are still lots of things we don't understand about pregnancies, like how embryos implant," said Dr. Cesar Diaz, who co-authored an accompanying commentary in the journal. "These transplants will help us understand implantation and every stage of pregnancy."

IVF kids may have higher risk of high blood pressure

Kids born through in vitro fertilization may be more likely to develop high blood pressure, a new study suggests.

Researchers found a higher average blood pressure among teens born through IVF than in children conceived naturally, according to a report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Moreover, teens born through IVF were more likely to have blood pressures high enough to be diagnosed with hypertension.

The researchers advise parents of children conceived with IVF to concentrate on other heart disease risk factors.

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"Eliminate additional cardiovascular risk factors, such as overweight, sedentary lifestyle and smoking," suggests coauthor Dr. Urs Scherrer of the University of Bern, Switzerland. Also, he recommends, get a 24-hour blood pressure reading when the children are between ages 16 and 20.

Scherrer and colleagues compared 54 teens conceived through IVF with 43 of their friends who had been conceived naturally. The teens' average age was 17.

In adults, a blood pressure above 120/80 is considered high. But in children and adolescents, a normal blood pressure depends on age and height. If a youngster has a higher blood pressure than 90% to 95% of other males or females his or her age and height, then the child may have high blood pressure.

The IVF teens had higher blood pressure, on average, than their friends (119/71 versus 115/69). Eight of the IVF teens were diagnosed with hypertension, compared to one in the control group.

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Five years earlier, researchers had checked blood pressures in both groups and found no difference between IVF teens and their friends. "Until adolescence there are no cardiovascular problems," Scherrer said by email.

The conditions under which IVF embryos develop may play a role, he suspects.

"There are numerous conditions which are not physiologic during the in vitro period – temperature, mechanical insults related to embryo handling, sub-optimal culture media, etc. – that the embryo needs to cope with in order to survive, (and these) may have altered the regulation of gene (expression)," Scherrer said.

While the new findings are very interesting, the study is small, said Dr. Alan Penzias, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at the Harvard Medical School and a fertility specialist at Boston IVF.

Findings of small studies are not always generalizable to the population at large, Penzias said by email.

And while the researchers may have mitigated a number of possible confounders by using the IVF children's friends as controls – the control group was probably the best match for socioeconomic background, for example – they didn't eliminate what might have been the biggest variable: history of infertility, Penzias said.

"Is the finding in this paper caused by the IVF procedure or is it caused by the infertility itself," Penzias asked.

Penzias points to a large 2012 study in the New England Journal of Medicine that found a higher risk of birth defects in babies born to couples with a history of infertility, regardless of whether the babies were conceived naturally or with IVF.

Still, Penzias said, "tracking the outcomes of medical intervention is prudent. Deciphering the mechanisms of disease to facilitate the design of treatments that improve the human condition is a worthy mission and is one that is universally endorsed."

IVF kids may have higher risk of high blood pressure

Kids born through in vitro fertilization may be more likely to develop high blood pressure, a new study suggests.

Researchers found a higher average blood pressure among teens born through IVF than in children conceived naturally, according to a report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Moreover, teens born through IVF were more likely to have blood pressures high enough to be diagnosed with hypertension.

The researchers advise parents of children conceived with IVF to concentrate on other heart disease risk factors.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYER RUPTURES SPLEEN DURING GAME

"Eliminate additional cardiovascular risk factors, such as overweight, sedentary lifestyle and smoking," suggests coauthor Dr. Urs Scherrer of the University of Bern, Switzerland. Also, he recommends, get a 24-hour blood pressure reading when the children are between ages 16 and 20.

Scherrer and colleagues compared 54 teens conceived through IVF with 43 of their friends who had been conceived naturally. The teens' average age was 17.

In adults, a blood pressure above 120/80 is considered high. But in children and adolescents, a normal blood pressure depends on age and height. If a youngster has a higher blood pressure than 90% to 95% of other males or females his or her age and height, then the child may have high blood pressure.

The IVF teens had higher blood pressure, on average, than their friends (119/71 versus 115/69). Eight of the IVF teens were diagnosed with hypertension, compared to one in the control group.

DETROIT WOMAN SAYS SELFIES ALERTED HER TO STROKE, SAVED LIFE

Five years earlier, researchers had checked blood pressures in both groups and found no difference between IVF teens and their friends. "Until adolescence there are no cardiovascular problems," Scherrer said by email.

The conditions under which IVF embryos develop may play a role, he suspects.

"There are numerous conditions which are not physiologic during the in vitro period – temperature, mechanical insults related to embryo handling, sub-optimal culture media, etc. – that the embryo needs to cope with in order to survive, (and these) may have altered the regulation of gene (expression)," Scherrer said.

While the new findings are very interesting, the study is small, said Dr. Alan Penzias, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at the Harvard Medical School and a fertility specialist at Boston IVF.

Findings of small studies are not always generalizable to the population at large, Penzias said by email.

And while the researchers may have mitigated a number of possible confounders by using the IVF children's friends as controls – the control group was probably the best match for socioeconomic background, for example – they didn't eliminate what might have been the biggest variable: history of infertility, Penzias said.

"Is the finding in this paper caused by the IVF procedure or is it caused by the infertility itself," Penzias asked.

Penzias points to a large 2012 study in the New England Journal of Medicine that found a higher risk of birth defects in babies born to couples with a history of infertility, regardless of whether the babies were conceived naturally or with IVF.

Still, Penzias said, "tracking the outcomes of medical intervention is prudent. Deciphering the mechanisms of disease to facilitate the design of treatments that improve the human condition is a worthy mission and is one that is universally endorsed."

IVF kids may have higher risk of high blood pressure

Kids born through in vitro fertilization may be more likely to develop high blood pressure, a new study suggests.

Researchers found a higher average blood pressure among teens born through IVF than in children conceived naturally, according to a report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Moreover, teens born through IVF were more likely to have blood pressures high enough to be diagnosed with hypertension.

The researchers advise parents of children conceived with IVF to concentrate on other heart disease risk factors.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYER RUPTURES SPLEEN DURING GAME

"Eliminate additional cardiovascular risk factors, such as overweight, sedentary lifestyle and smoking," suggests coauthor Dr. Urs Scherrer of the University of Bern, Switzerland. Also, he recommends, get a 24-hour blood pressure reading when the children are between ages 16 and 20.

Scherrer and colleagues compared 54 teens conceived through IVF with 43 of their friends who had been conceived naturally. The teens' average age was 17.

In adults, a blood pressure above 120/80 is considered high. But in children and adolescents, a normal blood pressure depends on age and height. If a youngster has a higher blood pressure than 90% to 95% of other males or females his or her age and height, then the child may have high blood pressure.

The IVF teens had higher blood pressure, on average, than their friends (119/71 versus 115/69). Eight of the IVF teens were diagnosed with hypertension, compared to one in the control group.

DETROIT WOMAN SAYS SELFIES ALERTED HER TO STROKE, SAVED LIFE

Five years earlier, researchers had checked blood pressures in both groups and found no difference between IVF teens and their friends. "Until adolescence there are no cardiovascular problems," Scherrer said by email.

The conditions under which IVF embryos develop may play a role, he suspects.

"There are numerous conditions which are not physiologic during the in vitro period – temperature, mechanical insults related to embryo handling, sub-optimal culture media, etc. – that the embryo needs to cope with in order to survive, (and these) may have altered the regulation of gene (expression)," Scherrer said.

While the new findings are very interesting, the study is small, said Dr. Alan Penzias, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at the Harvard Medical School and a fertility specialist at Boston IVF.

Findings of small studies are not always generalizable to the population at large, Penzias said by email.

And while the researchers may have mitigated a number of possible confounders by using the IVF children's friends as controls – the control group was probably the best match for socioeconomic background, for example – they didn't eliminate what might have been the biggest variable: history of infertility, Penzias said.

"Is the finding in this paper caused by the IVF procedure or is it caused by the infertility itself," Penzias asked.

Penzias points to a large 2012 study in the New England Journal of Medicine that found a higher risk of birth defects in babies born to couples with a history of infertility, regardless of whether the babies were conceived naturally or with IVF.

Still, Penzias said, "tracking the outcomes of medical intervention is prudent. Deciphering the mechanisms of disease to facilitate the design of treatments that improve the human condition is a worthy mission and is one that is universally endorsed."