Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

Updated guidelines for water birth

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub of warm water.  A few weeks ago the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a joint committee opinion regarding laboring and delivering in water. In it they state that “Undergoing the early stages of labor in a birthing pool may offer some advantages to pregnant women. However, underwater delivery has no proven benefit to women or babies and may even pose a risk of serious health problems for the newborn.”

It is important to understand that the committee does make a distinction between laboring in water and delivering in water.  They acknowledge that there may be some benefits to being in the water during the early stages of labor. For women who have uncomplicated pregnancies, laboring in water may result in decreased pain, reduced use of anesthesia, and shorter labors. However there is no evidence that immersion in water during the first stage of labor otherwise improves perinatal outcomes. And being immersed in water during the first stage of labor should not prevent appropriate maternal and fetal monitoring.

However, the committee did express concerns about a woman actually delivering her baby in water. They found that “the safety and efficacy of immersion in water during the second stage of labor [delivery] have not been established, and immersion in water during the second stage of labor has not been associated with maternal or fetal benefit.”

After reviewing studies on water births they found a risk of severe complications in the newborn, including
•    maternal and neonatal infections, particularly with ruptured membranes;
•    difficulties in newborn temperature regulation;
•    umbilical cord rupture while the newborn infant is lifted or maneuvered through and from the underwater pool at delivery, which leads to serious hemorrhage and shock; and
•    respiratory distress that results from tub-water aspiration (drowning or near drowning).

While these complications of water birth may be rare, they are very serious. Until more thorough studies are done and the benefits of delivering in water to both mother and baby have been proven, both ACOG and AAP suggest that deliveries in water should be done in a research setting with mothers being fully informed about the potential risks and benefits.

Don’t delay with delays

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

learning to walkEvery 4 ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect. Many other babies experience delays or disabilities as they grow up. In fact, “as many as one in four children through the age of five are at risk for a developmental delay or disability,” according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.  The sooner a child is identified as having a condition that requires treatment, the sooner he may start receiving appropriate interventions and begin improving.  This sounds logical, right? Yet, many children with developmental challenges somehow don’t receive the help they need until much later.

When my daughter’s speech delay was evident, I asked her pediatrician “Should we wait a year and see if she grows out of it?” Thankfully, he said “Why would you wait?” His attitude was that if we started right away, there would be a chance that this small problem would not become a bigger problem later.  He was right.

If your child has a broken leg, would you wait to have it set? Of course not. If you did not intervene with the cast and crutches, your child would continue to suffer and perhaps get worse. The same is true with other types of disabilities or delays – early treatment is essential for improvement.

Good news: more help is here

The Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!  initiative was launched last week. It is a federal effort to encourage developmental and behavioral screening and support for children, families, and the providers who care for them. Yes, screening and intervention processes have been in place for years in the U.S. However, this initiative features a toolkit with an array of “research-based screening tools” to help pediatricians, parents, social workers, case workers, early care and education providers find help at the local level. The toolkit has resources to raise awareness about healthy development, recommended screening and follow-up practices. The Families page has info on developmental milestones, how to find services in your local area, tips and resources on positive parenting, and other helpful topics.

This initiative comes on the heels of the newly announced increase in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) rates. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data that indicate ASD rates have risen to 1 in 68 children aged 8 years (which is up from 1 in 88). The CDC says that most children with ASD are diagnosed after age 4, even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2.

What’s a solution?

Early diagnosis and early treatment.

As parents, you know your child best. If you have a suspicion that something is not right, don’t wait. Speak up and tell your child’s pediatrician. Learn about developmental milestones and see if your child is on track. If not, say something.

The Early Intervention program in the U.S. is here for babies and toddlers up to their third birthday. The Special Education program takes over for children ages 3 and older. The key is getting babies, toddlers and children identified as early as possible, and starting intervention. Find your local program for children up to their third birthday and request that your baby/child be screened for developmental delays or disabilities without a referral from a provider. And it is free to you. If your child is age 3 or older, request a screening from your child’s school.

Throughout my daughter’s childhood, I heard “Don’t wait” so many times – from doctors and specialists to special educators and therapists. As a result, we jumped on the therapy/intervention path right away, as each issue surfaced, and tackled each problem one by one (or often two by two). I am glad that I had the influence of professionals to prod and guide me along the way. The efforts certainly paid off for my child.

Bottom line

If you need to get help for your child, you now have more than enough resources to get going. The Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! initiative is there to set young children off on the right foot, and the Special Education program is there to continue to help kids up to age 21.  Hopefully, your child’s first steps will soon become leaps as you see him thrive. So, don’t delay with delays.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). As always, we welcome your comments and input – send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.com.

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.

Developmental milestones at 7 months

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Dr. Siobhan Dolan talks about baby’s developmental milestones at the age of seven months. Visit our website to watch more videos on developmental milestones at different ages.

Is your baby’s sleep machine on too loud?

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Sleeping babyWhen I was first pregnant with my baby girl, my boss at the time gave me a sleep sheep, a sleep machine that attaches to the crib and looks like a cute little sheep. I remember when I opened the box, she said, “Everyone says this is THE BEST thing to give new moms.” Boy, was she right! My sleep sheep is heaven-sent! I’m still using it for our second baby, who is really more of a toddler now. He knows that when the sheep is on, it’s time to sleep. And while my kids drift off to sleep, I can begin cleaning up the disaster area they left throughout the house without tiptoeing around and worrying that I’ll wake them.

If you use sleep machines for your babies, too, here’s something you want to hear. A study in this month’s Pediatrics journal found that using a sleep machine at high volume can damage your baby’s hearing. The researchers found the volume on some baby sleep machines can be too high for adults! The researchers recommend you place the sleep machine as far away as possible from your baby, never place or attach it to the crib and keep the volume low.

I’ve often wondered if our sleep machine is on too loud. Just to be on the safe side, I think I’ll be making some changes!

Learn more about safe sleep for your baby.

Vaccinate your little Superman

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

CDC Vaccinate your superman

Critical congenital heart disease, CCHD

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Critical congenital heart disease (also called CCHD) is a group of the seven most severe heart defects present at birth. They may affect the shape of a baby’s heart, the way it works, or both. Babies with CCHD need treatment within the first few hours, days or months of life. Without treatment, CCHD can be deadly.

About 4,800 babies in the U.S. each year are born with CCHD. These seven heart defects are part of CCHD: Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS); Pulmonary atresia (PA); Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF); Total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPV, or TAPVR); Transposition of the great arteries (TGA); Tricuspid atresia (TA); Truncus arteriosus.

February 7-14 is Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) Awareness Week. The March of Dimes is working to help identify and understand these defects through research. We also are advocating Congress to reauthorize the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act. To learn more about these CCHDs, several other types of congenital heart defects, possible causes and risk factors, and treatment options, read our article at this link.

Nearly 4 million Graco car seats recalled

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

This one’s a big recall that’ll affect millions of families – mine included! Graco® is recalling 3.7 million of its car seats. The problem is that the red button used to release a child from her car seat buckle can get stuck. Some parents said they had to cut the car seat straps because they couldn’t unbuckle their child from the car seat.

Graco says that when food or dried liquid gets into the buckle, it can make the release button stick, making it hard to unbuckle a child. While I haven’t had to resort to cutting the car seat straps, I have struggled with the seat buckle when trying to get my daughter out of her car seat from time to time. I’m glad to know it isn’t just me!

The recall affects Graco’s toddler convertible car seats and booster seats made between 2009 and 2013. The models include:

  • Cozy Cline
  • Comfort Sport
  • Classic Ride 50
  • My Ride 65
  • My Ride 70
  • My Ride 65 with Safety Surround
  • Size4Me 70
  • My Size 70
  • Head Wise 70
  • Smart Seat
  • Nautilus 3-in-1
  • Nautilus Elite
  • Argos

There are 7 other Graco car seat models that use the same buckling system, but they haven’t been included in the recall yet. However, the National Highway Safety Administration may recommend the company include those additional models in the recall. Check back with News Moms Need for updates on this recall.

In the meantime, parents can get a free replacement buckle by contacting Graco at consumerservices@gracobaby.com or call (800) 345-4109, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. EST.