Pregnancy site launches first of its kind instant messaging chat feature in both Spanish and English

Pregnancy site launches first of its kind instant messaging chat feature in both Spanish and English -- When most women get pregnant, it's not long before they realize that their mothers and abuelas didn't tell them everything that happens to their bodies when pregnant.

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Sometimes the changes are so personal that moms-to-be are embarrassed to talk about them or the questions are so basic they don't want to look stupid. Aside from their doctors and pregnancy books, there just aren't that many reliable sources for pregnant women to turn to.

And for those pregnant women who only speak Spanish, the resources for them to get answers to their questions are even more limited -- but not anymore.

The California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health Information Line has launched a bilingual online immediate message chat feature, said to be the first of its kind. The new feature enables pregnant and breastfeeding women to sign on, type a question to an online counselor and get an immediate response. In those cases when the counselors are busy, women can send their questions via email.

Dr. Christina Chambers, associate professor of pediatrics at UCSD and program director of CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line, explained the new chat service launch was chosen to coincide with National Birth Defects Prevention Month, which is honored every year during the month of January. Nationally, some 160,000 babies are still being affected by birth defects each year.

The chat service will be monitored by several highly trained, bilingual (English/Spanish) CTIS counselors who specialize in answering questions regarding medications, environmental, chemical and illicit substances, as well as other exposures, during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Some of the most common questions pregnant women ask CTIS counselors include:

• "Can I color my hair during pregnancy?"

• "I have allergies, what can I take?"

• "Can I have a glass of wine with dinner?"

• "I'm trying to get pregnant, should I get a flu shot"

• "Do I have to quit taking my antidepressant now that I'm pregnant?"

As these questions illustrate, there is no stupid or embarrassing question.

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