Breastfeeding Benefits and Facts Every New or Expecting Mother Should Know

Photo of group of infants

If you’re a brand new mom or are getting ready to be one, you probably have a lot of questions about breastfeeding. You might be wondering whether breastfeeding or formula is the right way to go, or you’re simply wondering where you can find resources for breastfeeding near you. Fortunately, it’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, so we’re breaking it all down. Here’s what you need to know.

Breastfeeding Has so Many Benefits for Babies

Although great strides have been made to make infant formula as nutritious and healthful as possible over the past several decades, there’s no question in the medical community that breast milk provides the greatest benefit to babies and their mothers.

Here’s what Dr. Ruth Peterson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had to say about breastfeeding:

“It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition, with breast milk uniquely tailored to meet the health needs of a growing baby.”

Breast milk is such a good source of nutrients that breastfeeding has been found to reduce the risk of the following conditions among infants:

  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Ear and Respiratory Infections
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal Infections
  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis
  • Allergies
  • Eczema

It Also Benefits Mothers, Too

One lesser-known fact about breastfeeding is that it can also have potentially beneficial health benefits for nursing mothers. 

The American Institute for Cancer Research notes that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. And it’s also been linked to a reduced risk of the following conditions:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Breast Cancer

Studies have also shown that breastfeeding for at least three months can help women lose weight after giving birth. 

Only 25 Percent of Infants Are Breastfed According to Recommendations

While the case for breastfeeding is a strong one, the CDC estimates that just one in four infants are exclusively breastfed (i.e., breastfeeding without supplemental infant formula) through six months after birth — the time frame recommended by the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Although breastfeeding has grown in popularity significantly since the 1990s, it’s clear that many babies still aren’t being breastfed or aren’t being breastfed for long enough. This trend has especially affected black infants, whom the CDC says are 21% less likely to be breastfed at all.

Many Mothers Stop Breastfeeding for a Variety of Reasons

There’s no question that moms just want to do what’s best for their children and their family, so the reasons why they don’t start breastfeeding or don’t continue doing it for the recommended amount of time are important to understand.

It’s estimated that 60% of mothers stop breastfeeding before they planned to, and these are a few of the most common reasons why:

  • Issues with Lactation and Latching
  • Nutrition and Weight Concerns
  • Unsupportive Work Policies
  • Lack of Support from Family
  • Didn’t Feel Aligned with Cultural Norms

With these things in mind, it’s essential for communities and medical professionals to continue supporting mothers who breastfeed by breaking the stigma or making education a top priority for new moms. And, that’s why University of Maryland (UM) Charles Regional Medical Center regularly hosts breastfeeding support groups. These free support groups are facilitated by a lactation consultant who can answer nursing moms’ questions and concerns. Visit our classes and events calendar to find out when this group meets next.

Not Breastfeeding Can Be Costly

Beyond the added upfront costs of purchasing baby formula — which can be a very expensive experience in and of itself — choosing to feed your baby formula instead of breast milk can have even more costly long-term effects.

Because breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of so many conditions and ailments, it’s important to view breastfeeding as an investment in health rather than just a lifestyle choice. In fact, the CDC estimates that low breastfeeding rates can cost Americans over $3 billion per year as a result of indirect medical costs. Unfortunately, studies have shown that breastfeeding rates are actually lower among lower-income Americans, so these health costs may be disproportionately affecting those who can least afford them.

Resources for New and Expecting Moms in Southern Maryland

Deciding whether or not you want to breastfeed your child is a personal choice. New and expecting mothers should always talk with their doctor to learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding versus formula so they can make an informed decision about what’s best for them and their family.

If you’re still unsure about breastfeeding or simply want the perspective of a women’s health doctor, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at UM Charles Regional Medical Group – Women’s Health in La Plata, MD. Led by Dr. Erica Contreras and Dr. Katreena Settle, this practice is where you can get answers to your most pressing questions and care from women doctors who have a combined 22 years of experience.

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Why Cord Blood Banking is Something Expecting Parents Should Consider

Infant child sleeping

If you’re an expecting parent, you probably have a long to-do list of things that need to get done before the big day. But if you haven’t added “donating cord blood” to that list yet, here’s why you should consider it:

What is Cord Blood?

Cord blood is the blood that’s found in a newborn baby’s umbilical cord and placenta. This blood is a primary source of stem cells, which are the cells that are necessary for producing blood. 

Here’s a quick video that explains what cord blood is and how the stem cells found in cord blood can benefit patients in the case of a transplant: 

What Normally Happens to Cord Blood?

Although the potential of cord blood and its stem cells is incredible, this is still an emerging element of modern medicine. For that reason, the umbilical cord and placenta are often discarded as medical waste today rather than used for potentially lifesaving transplants.

How Does Saved Cord Blood Get Used?

The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation notes that about 70% of patients who need a stem cell transplant don’t have a matching donor in their own family. Fortunately, cord blood doesn’t have to be perfectly matched to help those dealing with ailments such as:

  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Sickle Cell
  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune Disorders

Although these cancers and disorders can often be treated by bone marrow transplants, cord blood donations can contain as much as 10 times more stem cells than bone marrow donations. In addition, stem cells from cord blood are less likely to be rejected than those from bone marrow.

Public vs. Private Cord Blood Banking

While the general concept of cord blood banking involves the preservation of cord blood, there are a few different types of cord blood banking:

Public cord blood banking doesn’t cost anything for the parents and is designed to make the potentially lifesaving cells available to anyone who needs them. Public cord blood banks collect, test, and preserve the cord blood until it is needed by a patient or patients.

Private cord blood banks do exist, too. Sometimes called “family banks,” these are designed to save cord blood exclusively for members of your family so that it can be used if there are any specific medical needs within the family. Unfortunately, private cord blood banking means that the cells are not made available to those outside of your family, so those who are in need will not be able to make use of those cells if they need a transplant. Moreover, private cord blood banks are usually expensive and, even if the cord blood comes from a family member, there’s only about a 25 percent chance that another family member’s body will even be able to receive the cells.

Cord Blood Donations at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center

Although we do not currently offer public cord banking here at the hospital, we encourage families to consider participating in one of many mail-in programs that you can learn more about here

Ultimately, your decision to take part in cord blood banking — public or private — is up to you and your family, and it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. If you’re considering cord blood banking, visit the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation’s website and be sure to talk to your doctor and/or your midwife to find out more and to answer any questions you may have. 

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For Women, Taking Care of Those You Love Starts with Taking Care of Yourself

Female doctor smiling at female patient

People are counting on you.

From your family and friends to your co-workers and just about everyone else, we know that the demands on your time and energy are very real. That’s the reality of women everywhere.

Most women don’t hesitate to make sure the ones they love are healthy and happy, planning healthy meals and scheduling doctor’s appointments when needed. Taking care of other people comes naturally.

Taking care of yourself? Well, for many women, that’s a little more difficult.

The good news is that you have plenty of resources right here in Southern Maryland that make it easy and convenient to prioritize your health. Because if you’re going to be there for the ones you love, you have to be there.

University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Group – Women’s Health, located in La Plata, offers a variety of services designed to keep you healthy and make regular checkups part of your routine.

Their experienced OB/GYNs offer obstetric, gynecological and well-woman care for all stages of life.

The comprehensive care at Women’s Health includes: 

  • Annual pelvic exams
  • Breast exams
  • Management of menopause symptoms
  • Urinary incontinence treatment
  • Minimally invasive surgery to treat uterine fibroids, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome

Part of your plan of care should also include annual mammograms once you reach age 40 –– or earlier if your family history suggests a higher risk of breast cancer. Advancements in technology mean that a quick visit to a place like UM Charles Regional Imaging can provide you with a crystal clear picture to confirm your health or identify any issues early on.

Available services include both screenings and diagnostic mammograms.

  • Screening mammograms help find unsuspected changes in your breast tissue
  • Diagnostic mammograms are performed if a change is identified in your breast tissue with a screening mammogram or if you have had a previous breast cancer diagnosis
  • 3-D mammography (breast tomosynthesis) produces three-dimensional images of the breast, leading to better cancer screening and detection.

Whether it’s a visit to Women’s Health or Imaging, an appointment is only a phone call away. It’s easier than ever to take care of yourself. 

So make the call. Make an appointment. And make your health a priority. Because the people you love are counting on you to be there to take care of them.

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5 Ways High Blood Pressure Can Affect Your Body

High Blood Pressure Measurement Photo

Did you know that one out of three adults in America has high blood pressure? And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that only about half of those nearly 75 million people have their blood pressure under control?

It’s true — high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) has become a serious medical problem in our country. And if you have high blood pressure, it’s far more serious than you might think.

While the most immediate, short-term damage done by high blood pressure might not be instantly apparent, this condition is one of the leading contributors to serious long-term health problems among Americans.

Your blood pressure is the force at which blood is being pushed against the walls of your arteries. Here are just a few ways your blood pressure can affect your body when it’s at a higher level than it should be:

It Can Damage Your Heart

The CDC notes that your heart often bears the brunt of the damage caused by high blood pressure. This is because, over time, high blood pressure can harden your arteries, which makes it more difficult for your body to get blood and oxygen to and from the heart. When that happens, these are just some of the potential outcomes:

It Can Increase Your Risk of Stroke

As we’ve previously discussed on our blog, stroke is a serious medical condition and one of the leading causes of death and long-term disability in Americans. Unfortunately, the reason why it’s so common in our country is because high blood pressure is, too.

The simple truth is this: Hypertension is the primary cause of stroke.

It Could Eventually Cause an Aneurysm

An aneurysm happens when a section of an artery’s walls are weakened and bulges. If the bulging gets too extreme, the artery can rupture and cause internal bleeding — a serious, life-threatening situation.

Though the exact causes of aneurysms are far from certain, high blood pressure has been linked to an increased risk of developing an aneurysm because of the long-term damage it can do to arteries.

It Can Lead to Kidney Failure

Sustained high blood pressure can lead to damaged blood vessels in the kidneys. Once damaged, the filtering process that occurs inside your kidneys, which helps your body rid itself of waste and toxins, becomes more difficult and less effective. Over time, this can lead to kidney disease and even kidney failure.

It Can Damage Your Eyes

One little known fact about high blood pressure is that it can have a significant impact on your eyes, specifically your retina.

The retina is found at the back of your eye, and high blood pressure can affect how well this tissue is able to function. This is because abnormal blood pressure can cause damage to the vessels in the retina — leading to double vision, dim vision, headaches, or even total vision loss.

Usually, this damage is done over time, but there are instances where very high blood pressure spikes can cause symptoms to appear suddenly. These situations are medical emergencies and should be treated as such if they ever happen to you or someone you know.

Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine website to learn more about how blood pressure levels can affect your eyesight.

High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that affects millions of Americans young and old. Unfortunately, many people with high blood pressure don’t know that they have it. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure levels checked regularly and get your blood pressure in check by practicing healthy living habits. Talk to your primary care provider to learn more about your blood pressure and how you can get on track to preventing high blood pressure.

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Our Top Tips for a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy

Pregnancy Checkup Photo

There’s a lot of information out there on how to give you and your baby the best headstart with a healthy pregnancy. We’ve narrowed down the noise to give you some important tips that you may not have heard before or, at least, ones that deserve a second look.

Tip #1: Eat Right

Such extensive focus is paid to what you CAN’T eat during pregnancy that it’s easy to overlook what you can! These foods aren’t just delicious — they provide essential nutrients that aid in your baby’s development.

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk or non-dairy drinks with added calcium and vitamin D
  • Protein from healthy sources, like beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood (8 to 12 ounces per week) and unsalted nuts and seeds

It can be helpful to keep a pregnancy food journal to keep track of your intake of these important goodies.

Tip #2: Monitor Your Weight Gain

According to the National Institute of Health, gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy helps your baby properly develop and grow to the right size. However, gaining too much weight (or not gaining enough) can have harmful effects on both you and your child. Use the chart below as a reference point, and talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your pregnancy weight gain.

Pre-Pregnancy Body Mass IndexHealthy Weight Gain
Less than 18.528 to 40 pounds
18.5 to 24.925 to 35 pounds
25 to 29.915 to 25 pounds
Greater than 3011 to 20 pounds

Tip #3: Prioritize Your Sleep

Expectant mothers need to remember that they’re not just eating for two, they’re sleeping for two as well. Thus, it’s important for them to get 7-8 hours a night, if possible. But, what about when sleeping gets less and less comfortable as pregnancy continues? Some simple ways to combat the strained sleep of the third trimester include:

  • Sleep on your left side and spend as little time as possible lying on your back. This allows for the best blood flow to the fetus and to your uterus and kidneys.
  • If you are experiencing leg cramps, you may want to avoid carbonated sodas and drinks
  • If you can’t sleep, don’t lie in bed forcing yourself to sleep. Get up and read a book, write in a journal, or take a warm bath.
  • If you get a cramp in your leg, straighten your leg and flex your foot upward. Try doing this before going to bed several times to help ward off future cramps.

Tip #4: Absolutely NO Alcohol, Tobacco or Drug Use

Recently, conflicting information has been circulating regarding whether or not some amount of alcohol, e-cigarettes, or the newly legalized medicinal marijuana is acceptable to consume during pregnancy. Despite this, it is still strongly encouraged to cease all alcohol and drug use during pregnancy. According to a 2019 report by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is most likely to occur in babies born to women who drink heavily throughout pregnancy. But alcohol-related problems can occur with lesser amounts of alcohol use. It is best not to drink at all while you are pregnant.” For medicinal marijuana usage, talk to your doctor to adjust your medication in preparation for your pregnancy.

If you are having trouble reducing your alcohol or drug consumption, talk to your trusted health professionals about your consumption habits.

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Don’t Miss Southern Maryland’s Premier Women’s Golf Tournament This June

2019 Southern Maryland Women's Golf Invitational Image

When it comes to golf courses in Southern Maryland, none are better than Swan Point Yacht and Country Club. And when it comes to annual golf events, there’s only one that is exclusively for women. We hope you’ll join us at both this June.

Date, Time and Location

The 2019 Southern Maryland Women’s Golf Invitational will take place on Wednesday, June 19, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Swan Point Yacht and Country Club in Issue, Maryland. Click here for directions to the course.

Event Details and Registration Information

Registrations are just $100 per person and can be purchased individually or as a foursome on our website. You can also use our printable registration form that can be mailed to the Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation Office.

For questions or to reserve your spot over the phone, please call (301) 609-4132.

Here’s everything we have planned for attendees:
  • Pre-tournament continental breakfast and putting contest
  • 18 holes of golf on the region’s premier course
  • Fun, interactive contests held throughout the day
  • Complimentary lunch and beverages on the course
  • Post-golf reception with awards for contest winners and top three teams

As always, proceeds from this great annual event benefit the Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation and its mission of making our community a better, healthier place to live.

Purchase Tickets

Sponsorship Opportunities

Want to get your business involved? This event provides fantastic opportunities for businesses and organizations to get exposure in front of a fun, energetic group of women — all in support of a great cause!

To learn more about sponsorship options available, visit our website or print out the sponsorship form today.

Become a sponsor

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3 Reasons Why We’re Raising Awareness for Minority Health Month

Minority Health Month 2019 Photo

We’re proud to support Minority Health Month this April as we shine a light on the importance of equal and accessible health care in Southern Maryland. Here are three reasons why this month means so much to us and those who count on us.

Some Diseases Affect People Disproportionately

While diseases such as cancer or the flu affect everyone regardless of who they are, there are certain diseases and ailments that affect a disproportionate number of minority groups in America.

Sickle cell disease is one such disease that affects minorities in America, especially among black people and African-Americans. African-Americans and Latino-Americans are also at higher risk for developing diabetes than other groups, too.

While there are numerous reasons why these groups are at greater risk for developing these diseases, more than anything, these facts serve as stark reminders that more work needs to be done to ensure that every member of the population is given the same chance to live a long, healthy life.

Health Disparities Can Be Caused by Multiple Factors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines health disparities as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health.” Ethnicity, race, gender, disability status, and socioeconomic factors can all play a role in this, and it’s important for communities to step up to help everyone live healthier.

Health disparities can come from:

  • Poverty
  • Environmental Threats
  • Poor Access to Health Care
  • Educational Differences

You can learn more about the various health differences that exist among the American population by visiting the official website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

Health Fairness is Important

At University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, we believe that no one should be put at a disadvantage in the health system, regardless of race, ethnicity, social status, age, or gender. By valuing health fairness, we value all people equally, and we work to ensure that every person in our community always has access to high-quality health care.

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Add Your Loved One’s Name to the Honor Roll of Women Before the May Deadline

CRMC Honor Roll of Women Photo

Whether you’re a family member who’s looking to recognize your mother, a husband memorializing your beloved wife, or a grandparent who’s celebrating the arrival of a new granddaughter, the Honor Roll of Women is the ideal opportunity to honor the special woman in your life.

Since 2009, the Honor Roll of Women has recognized the most important women in the lives of friends, families, and neighbors. Each name added to the Honor Roll is commemorated on the donor recognition located in the hospital’s atrium lobby.

Charitable contributions of just $1,000 to the CRMC Foundation support the Honor Roll of Women at UM Charles Regional Medical Center and ensure your loved one’s name will be added to the recognition wall. These generous gifts are essential to the hospital and enable us to meet the needs of every patient who seeks medical treatment in our region.

The Honor Roll of Women committee is already busy planning the reception to recognize the honorees whose names will be added to the list this year. Honorees receive a special card notifying them of the gift, and all donors and honorees are invited to celebrate the unveiling of the new class in late June. May 15 is the deadline to have the name of the special woman in your life included in this program.

Making Your Gift

For more information about how to make an Honor Roll gift for your loved one, email foundation@crmcfoundation.org or call (301) 609-4132 today.

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5 Important Reasons to Focus on Heart Health This Month

American Heart Month 2019

It’s always a good time to think about heart health, but American Heart Month is the ideal time to remind yourself and your family, friends, and community about the importance of living a heart-healthy life. Here’s why:

Heart Disease Can Happen at Any Age

Contrary to popular belief, heart disease is not exclusive to older adults. That’s because many of the risk factors that contribute to heart disease are now being found among younger Americans more often than ever before.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking. And with rising obesity and high-blood-pressure rates among those between the ages of 35 and 64, heart disease is something that everyone — not just older Americans — should be thinking about.

Heart Disease is the Leading Cause of Death in America

Perhaps the most sobering statistic about heart disease for Americans is this: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In fact, about 1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease — that’s roughly 610,000 people every year.

Heart health isn’t just a problem that’s specific to America, however. Around the world, nearly 18 million lives are claimed due to cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, every year. And that number is expected to rise to 23.6 million within the next decade.

Every 40 Seconds, Someone in America Has a Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the heart doesn’t receive enough blood flow. And in America, someone has a heart attack, on average, every 40 seconds.

Nearly half of all sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of a hospital, which means that it’s important for everyone to know the warning signs of heart attack. The National Heart Attack Alert Program highlights these as the major signs:

    • Chest Pain or Discomfort — Usually discomfort on the left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
    • Discomfort in Other Areas of the Upper Body — Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
    • Shortness of Breath — Can occur before or in conjunction with chest discomfort
    • Cold Sweat, Nausea, or Light-Headedness

If you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Remember, the longer you wait, the more damage may be done to the heart.

High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol Levels, and Diabetes Can Increase Your Risk

Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 U.S. adults already have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, and high blood pressure diagnoses among young people are on the rise as well.

Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are mostly defined by lifestyle choices, but there are some other factors, such as family history, age, race, or sex that are out of your control. In addition, diabetes has also been tied to an increased risk for heart disease.

You’re in Control of Your Lifestyle

The most important thing you and your family can take away from American Heart Month is that much of your risk for heart disease is in your control. Following healthy eating habits, living a physically active life, not smoking, checking your blood pressure regularly, and controlling stress levels are essential to limiting your risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.

If you have any questions about your individual level of risk for cardiovascular disease or want to learn more about how to manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes, be sure to talk to your primary care provider. In addition, we hope you’ll get involved by sharing this blog post or simply using the hashtag #HeartMonth throughout the month of February to help raise awareness for cardiovascular disease in your community!

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Dr. Eleanor Faherty is Now Accepting New Patients in Waldorf, MD

Advanced Breast Care in Southern Maryland. Dr. Eleanor Faherty.

The mission of the University of Maryland Medical System in Southern Maryland has always been to provide members of our community with essential health care services in nearby locations. We believe that everything from hospital services and surgical care to physical rehabilitation and primary care should be no more than just a short drive away. And now, we’re excited to announce that high-quality breast care is available closer to home than ever.

Eleanor Faherty, MD, FACS, combines advance techniques and a compassionate approach to provide greater outcomes for patients with breast health issues — all in a convenient Waldorf, MD, location.

About Dr. Faherty

A graduate of Albany Medical College and an Iraq War veteran, Dr. Eleanor Faherty has become one of Southern Maryland’s most respected and recognizable health care professionals. You can learn more about Dr. Faherty’s background, education, affiliations, and certifications on her profile on our website.

Specialities and Services

As one of the region’s foremost practitioners of breast care, Dr. Faherty specializes in a variety of services, including:

  • Breast Surgery
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Pre- and Post-Surgery Rehabilitation
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Supportive Care
  • Patient Education
  • Support Groups

Medical Insurance Options

Dr. Faherty’s practice proudly accepts most major insurance plans. Please contact your medical insurance provider to find out if your procedure qualifies for insurance coverage or financial assistance. You can also call (410) 328-7320 to find out what plans are accepted.

Office Location and Scheduling an Appointment

Dr. Faherty’s office is located at the address below (click here to get directions):

11340 Pembrooke Square, #203
Waldorf, MD 20603

Ready to learn more or schedule your appointment? Simply call (301) 609-6363 today.

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