Meet Sophie Mou!

Sophie Mou, SFDPH Performance Improvement SpecialistMeet Sophie Mou, the latest addition to the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Family Planning and Preconception Health Program team, for which she will be working as a Performance Improvement Specialist.

A Bay Area native, I am thrilled to work with the SFDPH, both to help improve health care services for under-served populations and to learn from the diverse group of professionals who are all invested in the state of health care here in San Francisco. Most of all, I am looking forward to understanding how the different stakeholders in health care contribute to the overall system. I am immensely excited to meet everyone!

I am a recent graduate of Cornell University, where my four years were defined greatly by my global health minor, through which I learned about public health matters on an international scale. My experience shadowing physicians in peri-urban Peru and my role as a research assistant within Cornell’s Division of Nutrition have given me a taste of the problems that health care entities face with regards to the dissemination of information and resource allocation. This past June, as a result of the work I had been doing, I presented a poster on the mental health status of HIV and TB patients in northern Uganda at the University of Rochester’s first annual Global Health Symposium.


Weekly Round-Up: Women’s Health News 8.2.13

Our top story this week involves the number of young people who report experiencing dating violence – more than 1/3 of U.S. teens and young adults, according to a new study from the Center for Innovative Public Health Research in San Clemente, California.

one in three youth have experienced dating violenceSurvey Finds that 1 in 3 Young Americans Has Suffered Dating Violence
More than one-third of U.S. teens and young adults say they’ve suffered abuse during dating and about one-third say they’ve been perpetrators of abuse, new research finds. About one-quarter say they’ve been both an abuser and a victim.  These are the results of a new survey conducted by researcher, Michele Ybarra at the Center for Innovative Public Health Research.  She and her colleagues surveyed 1,058 young people, ages14 to 20. Intimate partner violence is associated with poor school performance, poor self-esteem, depression and thoughts of suicide.  It also increases the risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections through reproductive coercion (partner messing with your birth control or pressuring you to get pregnant or have unprotected sex).

plastic water bottles are among the products that contain BPATrying to Get Pregnant?  Avoid BPA, a Chemical in Plastics
A Harvard study reported this week that Bisphenol-A, or BPA, a common chemical in plastics, may hurt fertility. BPA, which is often found in products like water bottles  and food storage containers, has previously been in the headlines  due to concerns  over its long-term safety.  However, this is the first study to look at how it harms human ova (eggs), the female sex cell.  Researchers fround that exposure to BPA caused  a decrease in the percentage of eggs that matured, an increase in the percentage of eggs that degenerated,  and an increase in the number of eggs  that went through spontaneous activation —  when an egg acts like it’s been fertilized,  but it hasn’t been.  To learn more about the study, click here.

don't get a tattoo over a mole or birth mark as this may make it harder to detect a beginning skin cancerTattoos Can Hide Malignant Melanomas, Experts Say
While not exactly reproductive health news, enough of us on the Go Folic! staff have tattoes that we wanted to share this study. Our most important take-away? When choosing where to put a tattoe, avoid moles and birthmarks – the ink in tattoes can make it difficult to see changes that could be a sign of skin cancer. Read the whole study here.

Weekly Round-Up: Women’s Health News

This week’s stories include vitamin news, conception timing, new resources on HPV, as well as new tools for doing health promotion online.  Read on!

conceiving in the month of may, if you live in the northern hemisphere, may increase your risk of having a premie - one possible reason to get a flu shot before you get pregnantGetting Pregnant in May Might Raise Odds of Premature Birth Due to Flu Exposure, Another Reason to Get a Flu Shot!

Giving birth prematurely (early) can have many repercussions for a baby’s health, including breathing, heart and brain problems. A new study found that children conceived during the month of May faced a 10% greater risk for premature birth compared to babies conceived at other times of the year.  Researchers believe that the reason could be that expectant mothers are more likely to be exposed to the flu close to the time they are about to give birth, another reason to get a flu shot if you are thinking about getting pregnant.  Click here to read more.

What is HPV?  New Information Page from the CDC

Genital human  papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted  infection (STI). There are more than 40 types of HPV. HPV can cause serious  health problems, including genital warts and certain cancers. Click here to see the CDC’s newly updated information page about HPV.

new research from uc berkeley looks at sunshine, vitamin d and bone strength and qualityVitamin D and Bone Health

We build our bones when we’re young (up to age 26). Then, as we get older, they get weaker and more fragile. Now a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley has shown that this bone-aging process can be significantly accelerated through deficiency of vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin. Click here to learn more. has a newly updated social media toolkit pageNew Media Toolkit for Health Promotion

As a part of its technical assistance and training efforts, provides resources on how to use new media. These tools aren’t just for those working in the field of AIDS/HIV prevention – they are valuable for anyone working to promote health.  The agency recently updated its “New Media Tools” webpage to make it easier to locate and use these resources.  For more, see this post on the blog.

Before Pregnancy Multivitamins May Mean Fewer Premies!

pregnancy test is positiveIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that taking a multivitamin with folic acid before you get pregant can reduce your future babies risk of being born with a neural tube defect (NTDs are serious problems with the brain or spine).  According to a new Danish study, just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it could lower your risk of preterm labor, too!

The Study

Poor nutrition is thought to play a role in pregnancy complications, such as preterm births and poor growth rates within the womb. The researchers asked 36,000 pregnant Danish womenabout their diet, weight and vitamin use.

Among those who said they had taken multivitamins at least eight out of the 12 weeks before conception, there were 4.3 percent preterm births (before 37 weeks). For those who didn’t take the supplements, the number was 5.3 percent. The vitamin-popping women were also less likely to have a smaller-than-normal baby.

While not conclusive, study findings are similar to those of a similar 2010 study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.  In this study, women who took folic acid at least 1 year before getting pregnant had a greatly reduced risk for having a premie.

Great news for women thinking of getting pregnant!

In California, 1 in 12 babies are born too early. Babies born before 37 weeks are not yet fully developed. Some babies who are born too early don’t live. Those who do survive often have serious life-long problems like blindness, deafness, lung problems, heart problems, liver problems, retardation, learning disabilities, difficulty eating, anemia, and cerebral palsy.

Some nutritionists recommend that pregnant women or women who are thinking of becoming pregnant not take mega-doses of certain vitamins.  However, it’s hard to eat right all of the time.  If you’re planning to get pregnant, eating right + taking a good daily multi with 100% of the RDA for all major vitamins (vs. mega-doses) can give you added insurance that you’re doing everything you can for your future baby’s health.  

San Francisco Women – Get Your Free Vitamins!

If you are a woman between the ages of 14-50 and live in San Francisco, you can get a year’s supply of FREE multivitamins from the SF Dept. of Public Health.  Click here to find out how.  And to get the most out of your vitamins, read our recent post on this topic.

Welcoming Nawz Zahir

Nawz Zahir

Nawz Zahir will be helping Go Folic! expand its services to encompass more preconception and women's wellness care.

Go Folic! welcomes Nawz Zahir.  An MPH Intern from Columbia University, Nawz will be conducting an assessment with our SFDPH clinics to determine how we can best broaden the program to encompass other aspects of women’s wellness and preconception health care. 

Nawz Zahir is a master’s candidate at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in the department of Population and Family Health. Her current focus is in Reproductive and Family Health. Nawz currently holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Sciences with an emphasis in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine.

For two years, prior to beginning her graduate career, Nawz served as the sole Program Coordinator of the Physical Education Program for an award-winning nonprofit organization. She developed and implemented a sustainable physical education program for over 600 first through fifth grade students at Kennedy Elementary, an elementary school located in a low-income area of California.

In addition, she held monthly Parent Health & Nutrition Seminars for the parents of the community and weekly Nutrition Lessons for third through fifth grade students.

Nawz hopes that her graduate degree will strengthen her commitment to being a contributing citizen to her immediate community and for future outreach, both nationally and globally.

Welcome, Nawz!