Sunday April 22, 2018

Lia, the Pregnancy Test You Can Flush

Born out of research conducted during their graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Lia’s creators say it’s the first flushable and biodegradable pregnancy test developed

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In addition to being better for the environment, a flushable test has major implications for women’s privacy.
In addition to being better for the environment, a flushable test has major implications for women’s privacy. Wikimedia Commons
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  • Lia works like traditional, over-the-counter pregnancy tests, detecting the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine
  • Lia breaks down like toilet paper and can be flushed in a standard-flow sewer or septic systems
  •  Lia will be available in the third quarter of 2018 and sell for between $7 and $8, comparable to pregnancy tests currently on the market

NEW YORK: Bethany Edwards and her co-workers spend a lot of time with pregnancy tests.

“We all peed on a lot of different things,” Edwards says, laughing. “So that’s been fun and interesting.”

Edwards is the co-founder and CEO of Lia Diagnostics. Together with co-founder Anna Simpson, Edwards and her team have created a new-and-improved pregnancy test called Lia.

Lia works like traditional, over-the-counter pregnancy tests, detecting the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine.

But unlike traditional tests, Lia is made of paper instead of plastic and is 100 percent biodegradable in 12 weeks, its creators say.

Also Read: Father’s stress linked to kids’ brain development

“We’re really bringing together a solution that is better for women but also better for the planet,” Edwards said.

Flushable, biodegradable

Born out of research conducted during their graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Lia’s creators say it’s the first flushable and biodegradable pregnancy test developed. The product recently obtained clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Lia breaks down like toilet paper and can be flushed in a standard-flow sewer or septic systems.

The safety of domestic violence victims can also be potentially threatened by the discovery of a disposed of the test. Wikimedia Commons
The safety of domestic violence victims can also be potentially threatened by the discovery of a disposed of the test. Wikimedia Commons

Creating a paper test that could hold up long enough to test urine samples but eventually disintegrate after flushing was a major challenge.

“We really had to develop our own coatings, proprietary coatings, to allow the paper and the materials that we’re using to hold up in use but also be able to break down quickly after you’re done,” Edwards said.

“It’s kind of a very counterintuitive sort of thing,” she added. “You want something that has rigidity and structure, but then after you’re done with it, doesn’t, and is able to become flimsy and separate in water.”

Also Read: Surgical Infections More Common in Low-Income Countries, Study Finds

Edwards demonstrated by wetting a Lia prototype under a faucet. In the section that tests urine samples, the water was absorbed, while along the outer edge, a water droplet remained intact.

The test eventually soaked up even more water, becoming pliable enough for its two paper layers to easily separate. Lia’s paper layers are crimped and held together by force, not glue, which helps it dissolve. Users can speed up the breakdown process by tearing the test in half, at notches near the centre.

In addition to being better for the environment, a flushable test has major implications for women’s privacy.

“We know that there’s sometimes fear around getting and obtaining a pregnancy test,” Edwards said. “Those extra efforts or having to ask somebody, the judgment in that is sometimes enough to have somebody not take a pregnancy test as soon as they should.”

“Lots of women tell their stories about hiding pregnancy tests in trash, trash cans, taking them in public restrooms, wrapping them in tinfoil and hiding them in other garbage cans. I mean, some extreme stories,” she added.

Lia breaks down like toilet paper and can be flushed in a standard-flow sewer or septic systems.
Lia breaks down like toilet paper and can be flushed in a standard-flow sewer or septic systems. Wikimedia Commons

Privacy concerns

Dr Meera Shah, a physician based in New York and a fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, spoke of teenage patients whose privacy was compromised when their parents discovered pregnancy tests in the trash. The safety of domestic violence victims can also be potentially threatened by the discovery of a disposed of the test.

“I’ve had patients tell me that their partners found their pregnancy test in the trash can, and that put them at risk for further abuse at home,” Shah said.

Also Read: Study: Partial Dose of Yellow Fever Vaccine Provides Protection

“I think that a discreet pregnancy test can empower women and empower people to be able to take a test without worrying about outside interference,” she said. “That has the potential to further engage them with the reproductive health care that they need after that.”

Cost factor

“Often times I hear that pregnancy tests can be expensive,” Shah said. “I tend to work with lower-income patients, patients who have poorer access to reproductive health care services, and so I think the cost can be a barrier.”

Lia will be available in the third quarter of 2018 and sell for between $7 and $8, comparable to pregnancy tests currently on the market. (VOA)

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Healing herbs for new moms

Sesame: Often considered as the most beneficial oil especially for its skin-firming properties

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Bhrami/Ayurvedic herbs. Wikimedia

New mothers who struggle with post-delivery weakness can find respite in natural ingredients which help heal the postpartum body, experts say.

Hema Divakar, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, says skin may be more sensitive during pregnancy owing to hormonal changes and this can sometimes trigger painful skin conditions.
“You should be careful about what you apply on your body, as it can affect the baby too. Thus, ensure to include the right skin care products in your regimen to prevent pregnancy-related skin problems,” said Divakar.

Ayurvedic herbs
Herbs are useful for new moms. Pixabay

Prathibha, Ayurveda expert at The Himalaya Drug Company, says Ayurveda recommends the use of herbs and oils that help protect and heal a mother’s body post pregnancy.

“This helps relieve stress and ensures a smooth start to motherhood. Including products in your daily routine which contain these essential ingredients will be soothing for a new mother,” she said.

She suggests a few herbs that help protect and heal a new mother’s body and make motherhood a happy and relaxing journey:

* Country mallow: Massaging your body leads to greater flexibility and tones the muscles, resulting in faster postpartum recovery. Country mallow is used as a primary ingredient in massage oils, which are used to strengthen muscles and repair dry skin.

Tulsi plant/Ayurvedic herbs. Pixabay

* Five-leaved chaste tree: This herb helps relieve pain and accelerates the process of healing wounds and rashes.

* Winter cherry: Also known as Ashvagandha, it rejuvenates the body and promotes physical and mental health. Winter Cherry works best in strengthening and firming the skin, while enhancing muscle and joint strength.

* Indian madder: It has antioxidant properties and helps clear the skin, free from blemishes. It also relieves skin-related issues and inflammation.

* Almond: Due to several hormonal changes during pregnancy, the skin becomes extremely sensitive and prone to dryness. Almond oil based products provide the necessary care to keep your skin nourished. Almond oil also contains Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and E, which ensure the skin is soft and supple.

Also Read: Benefits of Taking Vitamin E

* Aloe vera: Aloe vera contains antimicrobial and natural soothing properties that moisturize and help heal rashes. It soothes irritable skin conditions caused during pregnancy and acts as a remedy for stretch marks.

Gritkumari/Ayurvedic herb; Aloe Vera. Pixabay

* Natural zinc: Natural zinc is known to lock in moisture and have antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. It is helpful in treating rashes caused due to skin irritation and sweat.

* Sesame: Often considered as the most beneficial oil especially for its skin-firming properties, Sesame oil moisturises the skin and prevents infections. IANS