Archive for the ‘Mommy’ Category

Egg safety

Friday, April 18th, 2014

egg huntEaster egg hunts are fun for kids of all ages. With a little caution, you can make sure your family stays safe from Salmonella and other food poisoning illnesses caused by eating contaminated eggs.  If you don’t celebrate Easter, this info on egg safety will still come in handy, especially with summer picnics around the corner.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an estimated 142,000 illnesses each year are caused by consuming eggs contaminated with Salmonella. The FDA has put regulations in place to help prevent contamination of eggs on the farm and during shipping and storage. But consumers play a key role in preventing illness associated with eggs. In fact, the most effective way to prevent egg-related illness is by knowing how to buy, store, handle and cook eggs — or foods that contain them — safely.

Follow these safe handling tips to help protect yourself and your family, courtesy of the FDA:

When buying eggs

•    Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case.
•    Open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.
•    Refrigerate promptly.

Store raw eggs in their original carton and use them within 3 weeks for best quality.

Rules for eating hard boiled eggs

•    Cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, and egg-containing foods, should not sit out for more than 2 hours. Within 2 hours either reheat or refrigerate.
•    Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within 1 week after cooking. Cooked eggs for a picnic should be packed in an insulated cooler with enough ice or frozen gel packs to keep them cold.
•    Don’t put the cooler in the trunk — carry it in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of the car.
•    If taking cooked eggs to work or school, pack them with a small frozen gel pack or a frozen juice box.

If you enjoy making egg salad, deviled eggs or other delicious egg dishes, here are more egg safety tips, for you.

A safe egg hunt

All these “rules” got your head spinning? For a worry-free egg hunt, either hide the eggs an hour or two before the hunt and put them in the refrigerator right after the hunt, or better yet, use plastic decorative eggs if you are going to keep them out overnight or after the hunt. You can keep the decorated hard-boiled eggs in the fridge until ready to eat or adorn your table.

Time for sunshine and flowers… and bugs

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

flowersPesticides are chemicals used to kill or keep away insects and rodents. You can use some pesticides in your home. Others are for use only outside or on crops. With the warmer weather finally upon us, we get to enjoy flowers blooming, grass growing, and all those pests that also enjoy the springtime weather. So is it a good idea to use pesticides to get rid of these critters?

In her book, Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby, Dr. Siobhan Dolan states that “We don’t know for sure what effect pesticides have on an unborn baby. In some studies, high-level exposure appears to increase risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birthweight, birth defects, and learning problems. Although pesticide use is regulated by the federal government, there is a lack of agreement over pesticides’ safety.”

If you are pregnant, it makes sense to avoid pesticides whenever possible.

If you need pest or rodent control in your home:
• Try to use traps, like mousetraps,  instead of pesticides. Be careful not to set traps in places where children can get to them. Stay away from rodents and have someone else empty the trap.
• Have someone else put the pesticide in your home. Ask them to follow the directions on the product label.
• Put food, dishes and utensils away before using the pesticide.
• If you need to use it, have someone open the windows to air out your home and wash off all surfaces where food is made after using the pesticide

If you use pesticides outside your home:
• Close all the windows and turn off the air conditioning. This helps keep pesticides in the air from coming into the home.
• Wear rubber gloves when gardening to avoid touching pesticides.
• And as tempting as it might be, try to avoid walking barefoot in the grass.

In certain areas, you may need to consider using an insect repellant. Insect repellants are products you put on your skin or clothes to help keep insects, like mosquitoes and ticks, away. This helps prevent insect bites.

Many insect repellants contain DEET (diethyltoluamide).  According to Dr. Dolan, “Recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control don’t tell pregnant women to avoid DEET. But it’s reasonable to stay away from it if you possibly can, unless you’re in a situation in which using it makes more sense than not using it. For example, if you’re camping in an area that’s crawling with ticks or buzzing with mosquitoes, applying insect repellent makes a lot of sense. In that situation, the risk of getting Lyme disease or West Nile virus, which can be harmful to you and your baby, outweighs any theoretical risk that might be posed by the insect repellent.”

You also can prevent bites by staying indoors in the early morning or late afternoon when mosquitoes are most likely to bite. Wearing long pants and long sleeves when going outdoors helps, too.

C-sections, scheduling births and why healthy babies are worth the wait

Friday, April 4th, 2014

We’ve written a lot of posts about labor and, that if your pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to wait for labor to begin on its own. We’re glad that more moms know that having a healthy baby is worth the wait. But sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder – not just for moms-to-be, but for everyone.

Both of my babies were late, especially my son. (He’s a true mama’s boy and I sometimes get the feeling that he would climb back in if he could!) I remember all of the frustration and discomfort I felt as I reached and went past my due date. But as uncomfortable as those last weeks were, it was a small sacrifice to make for my baby’s health.

If there are no medical reasons for either you or your baby to have a c-section or schedule your baby’s birth, then it’s best to wait for labor to begin on its own. And unless you have a medical reason for having a c-section, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth.

A c-section is major surgery that takes longer to recover from than a vaginal birth. And you’re more likely to have complications from a c-section than from a vaginal birth. A c-section can cause problems for your baby, too. Babies born by c-section may have more breathing and other medical problems than babies born by vaginal birth.

All this is to say that if your pregnancy is healthy and you’re thinking about scheduling your baby’s birth, consider the risks. And even though those last weeks can be very uncomfortable, your baby’s health is worth the wait.

Nacersano.org, our Spanish-language site

Monday, March 31st, 2014

nacersano homepage

Hispanic women have babies at a greater rate each year than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States, making this population the fastest growing group. And now, Spanish-speaking women and families can easily find much-needed information on how to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby online at nacersano.org.

Nacersano.org, the March of Dimes Spanish-language site, offers valuable information on the specific health needs of the Hispanic community, including on the importance of folic acid, a B vitamin that helps prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (NTDs).

Babies born to Hispanic women are about 20 percent more likely to have a neural tube defect than non-Hispanic white women. While this disparity is not well understood, one reason may be that Hispanic women have a lower intake of folic acid. In the United States, wheat flour is fortified with folic acid, but corn masa flour is not.

The March of Dimes, through its educational print and online initiatives, is working to raise awareness about the need for folic acid among Hispanic women. All women of childbearing age, whether or not they’re planning to get pregnant, should take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, beginning before pregnancy and continuing into the early months of pregnancy. This is the best way to get the recommended amount of folic acid to prevent NTDs. Eating foods rich in folate (the natural form of folic acid) or fortified with folic acid is another way to consume this essential vitamin.

Visitors to nacersano.org can find dozens of recipes from various Latin America cultures that provide at least 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of folic acid. Users can also submit their own folic acid rich recipes to the site.

“It’s such an easy thing to make folic acid a part of your daily routine, and it can provide a major benefit to your future family,” says José F. Cordero, MD, MPH, dean of the School of Public Health University of Puerto Rico and a member of the March of Dimes national Board of Trustees. “About half of pregnancies are unplanned, so women should take folic acid daily to give your babies the healthiest start in life.”

Nacersano.org also features hundreds of health articles, ovulation and due date calculators, and educational videos to help Hispanic women and families be healthy before, during and after pregnancy.

Visitors can also ask questions about folic acid and nutrition, preconception, pregnancy and baby health. March of Dimes health experts provide personalized answers by email within 48 hours in Spanish and English. Visitors can also sign up to receive monthly free newsletters on preconception and pregnancy health, read and comment on the blog, and stay connected through various social media channels.

So, if you’re more comfortable with the Spanish language, “like” us on Facebook.com/nacersano and follow us on @nacersano and @nacersanobaby on Twitter.

E-cigarettes, liquid nicotine and poisoning

Friday, March 28th, 2014

E-cigarettes from CDCMany things in this day and age have gone digital – even smoking. The latest trend is the fast-growing use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. They look like regular cigarettes, but can be used more than once because they use rechargeable batteries. E-cigarettes have nicotine that comes as a liquid and can be refilled. Nicotine is a harmful drug that is found in cigarettes.

There’s been many reports of people, especially children, being poisoned from being in contact with liquid nicotine, either by accidentally drinking it or by spilling it and absorbing it through the skin. Liquid nicotine has powerful toxins and a small amount may be very harmful, even deadly. Liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes is sold in small vials that may be bright and colorful. Sometimes, liquid nicotine may have added flavors, like cherry or bubble gum. All of these things can make it appealing to children and may lead to accidental poisoning.

There isn’t enough research to know if e-cigarettes are safe. If you use e-cigarettes, be sure to keep them and any items used with e-cigarettes, like liquid nicotine, away from children. Store them in a secure place to keep everyone safe.

Home Visiting Program

Friday, March 14th, 2014

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) is designed to support at-risk families during pregnancy and early childhood. Home visiting family support programs match parents with trained providers, such as nurses or parent educators. These providers then visit the family at home one to two times a month from the time a mother is pregnant through the first few years of the child’s life.

We all know that children do not come with instruction manuals so these home visits can be invaluable to vulnerable families that may not have access to outside support or lack experience or knowledge of basic parenting skills.  The providers help the families access the information and resources that can support the physical and emotional health of babies and entire families. During their time in the program, the parents receive support and information about how children grow and learn. They are taught about providing a safe and enriching environment for their children.

The program is federally funded and locally administered and has been shown to reduce health care costs, reduce need for remedial education, and increase family self-sufficiency.  Here is why, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts:

Reduced health care costs

• Mothers who participated in the Nurse-Family Partnership in Pennsylvania were 26 percent more likely to quit smoking while pregnant.

• A home visiting program in North Carolina, Durham Connects, has been shown to pay for itself by the time a baby is 3 months old, through reductions in use of government medical assistance.

• Children who have strong bonds with their parents have better lifelong emotional health and a lower risk of later problems, including alcoholism, eating disorders, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.

Reduced need for remedial education

• In first grade, children who participated in Healthy Families New York were nearly twice as likely as other at-risk children to be able to follow directions, complete work on time, or work cooperatively with others—the foundational skills needed for a lifetime of learning.

• Parents that participated in Parents as Teachers were more likely to read aloud, tell stories, say nursery rhymes, and sing with their children. These activities are key to successful brain development and lifetime language skills.

Increased self-sufficiency

• Mothers who participated in Healthy Families Arizona were found to be five times more likely than other similar mothers to be enrolled in an education or a job training program.

• Mothers who have more years of formal education have higher family income, are more likely to be married, and have better-educated spouses. They work more but do not spend less time breastfeeding, reading to their children, or taking them on outings.

• Children of better-educated mothers also do better in math and reading at ages 7 and 8. Better-educated mothers are more likely to invest in their children through books, providing musical instruments, special lessons, or the availability of a computer.

To learn more, click on this link. Contact your congressman if you wish to support renewing funding for the MIECHV program.

New nutrition labels may be coming

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

When I’m grocery shopping, I often find myself looking at the nutrition labels on food packages and trying to make sense of all the information I’m reading. Once I’m home, I end up trying to figure out if the serving size on the label is the actual size of the serving I have on my plate. Thankfully, it looks like things might get a little easier when it comes to eating healthy.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing changes to nutrition labels to make it easier for you to know exactly what and how much it is you’re eating. Some of these changes include more emphasis on total calories, added sugars and nutrients such as Vitamin D and potassium. The FDA may also be changing serving sizes to some foods so the nutrition label more accurately shows what most people usually eat. Who drinks half of that 16oz bottled iced tea?

Below is an image of a nutrition label as they are now (on the left), and an image of the new label. What do you think? The FDA says the new label is open to the public for comment for the next 90 days. Share your thoughts!Nutrition labels

Exploring Grandma’s purse

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Grandma's purseMy purse, or pocketbook, holds everything I need, from a hairbrush to my driver’s license, cash, credit cards, a few random crayons and scrap paper, and the medications I need to take. Whereas I thought I was quite clever to carry the crayons and paper, it didn’t occur to me that by doing so I was enticing my grandchild to delve into my bag. Moms, this applies to you, too.

Curiosity is a good thing. It helps us venture forth, stretch our limits, learn new things. But in this case, it might have been deadly. I get headaches and take some meds that could be very dangerous to babies if swallowed like the candy they look like. Do you? Child-proof caps seem more like they are adult-proof to me. Fortunately, our little tike grabbed the bottle in my bag and shook it like a rattle rather than tried to open it. I saw this in less than 30 seconds and substituted a toy for the pills, but it certainly got my attention.

Suggestion: Go through your purse and make sure you know exactly what’s in there. Do you carry a small Swiss Army knife, a sharp nail file, keys you’d rather not get lost? Remove any dangerous items and meds (including over-the-counter pain relievers), but if you need to keep some, try this. Hang your purse on the same hanger as your coat. Carry a separate bag with crayons, paper, finger food, toys, a book or two… that your children or grandchildren can be safe with and delight in exploring.

Heart to heart

Friday, February 14th, 2014

heartsTo all our volunteers and friends across the country, we offer our heartfelt thanks for your support.  Whether the loved ones in your family have healthy hearts or are struggling with a congenital heart defect, we are wishing you strength, good health and the joy of sharing love with others.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Changing your baby’s diapers

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Changing your baby’s diaper can be a tricky part of newborn care. But with practice, moms and dads can become pros in no time.

First, before opening that dirty diaper door, collect your supplies:
• A sturdy flat surface, like a changing table, bureau top, or even the bed
• A clean diaper
• Baby wipes or a soft washcloth moistened with warm water
• Diaper rash ointment

Here’s how to change your baby’s diaper:
1. Place your baby on a changing surface (never leave her unattended for even a second) and unfasten her diaper.

2. Hold your baby’s ankles with one hand. Lift her legs and bottom and remove her dirty diaper with your other hand.

3. If there’s a big mess, use the front, clean part of the diaper to wipe her bottom from front to back.

4. Use diaper wipes or plain water on a soft cloth to gently clean your baby’s genitals and bottom. Take extra care with creases and folds in your baby’s skin. For baby girls, always wipe from front to back to avoid infection.

5. Pat dry. Apply diaper rash ointment if your baby has a diaper rash. Don’t use talcum powder because it can irritate your baby’s lungs.

6. Slide a clean diaper under your baby. If you’re using a disposable diaper, be sure the sticky tabs to fasten the diaper are behind the baby.

7. Fasten the diaper on both sides of your baby. For a disposable diaper, press the sticky tabs to the front of the diaper.

8. Tuck the new diaper below your baby’s umbilical cord until it heals. Make sure the diaper doesn’t bunch up between her legs.

9. To prevent accidents, make sure there aren’t any diaper openings around her hips.

How do you diaper your baby boy after a circumcision?

The diapering steps above are good for all babies. But if your baby boy is circumcised:
• For the first few days, put a new bandage on the penis each time you change your baby’s diaper.
• Use petroleum jelly on the penis or on the part of the diaper or bandage that touches the penis. This helps prevent the diaper or bandage from sticking to or rubbing against the penis.