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Parenting

Backyard Chickens and Salmonella Bacteria

1:45

Chicken coops are springing up in backyards around the country. People are into raising chickens for fresh eggs and some are even developing close bonds with their feathered producers.  Unfortunately, many of the new chicken owners don’t have any experience with safely handling and keeping fowl.

While fresh eggs from the backyard may make breakfast more satisfying, there’s also a downside to raising chickens; salmonella bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says eight ongoing outbreaks of salmonella are linked to backyard chickens. These outbreaks have sickened 611 people, including 195 children under the age of 5, across 45 states since Jan. 4. Because most cases go unreported, the actual number of illnesses may be as high as 10,000, according to the CDC.

“Direct contact with chicks, chickens, ducklings, ducks, geese, and turkeys or contact with their environment can make people sick with salmonella infections,” says Megin Nichols, DVM, a veterinarian with the CDC. “Poultry can have salmonella in their droppings and on their feathers, feet, and beak, even though they appear healthy and clean.”

Salmonella can make you very ill. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever. If you’re basically healthy, you’ll most likely get better without treatment.  However, children under the age of 5, adults over 65, people with chronic illnesses, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women have a higher risk of severe salmonella infections.

Experts say salmonella cases are increasing. The CDC says the 2016 outbreaks "involve the largest number of sick people linked to live poultry that we've seen."

The CDC is trying to pinpoint what types of contact caused the most illnesses in the recent outbreaks. In the past, baby chicks have been the source. Keeping baby chicks in the house, snuggling them, and kissing them are no-nos.

Experts say since you can’t be sure that your flock does not harbor salmonella, you should treat it as if it does.

Salmonella is part of chicken and other live poultry’s gut bacteria.  They shed it in droppings as well as onto their feathers and feet. It’s going to be anywhere you keep your birds.

Washing your hands is one of the top ways experts suggest to protect yourself.

After you handle live poultry, feed live poultry, or touch its backyard coop or living space, wash your hands vigorously for 20 seconds or more with soap and water, then dry them with a clean towel. Have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer handy in case you can’t get to a sink right away, says Elizabeth Scott, PhD, co-director of the Center for Hygiene and Health at Simmons College in Boston.

“If possible, wash your hands outdoors, not at the kitchen sink,” Scott says. “You do not want to be rinsing salmonella off your hands and into the kitchen sink, and you don’t want to use the kitchen sponge or dishrag either. The salmonella can proliferate in both.”

You should also clean any feeding dishes or other equipment outside. Do not bring them indoors.

Experts also offer these tips to prevent infection:

Wear proper clothes: Pick out clothing and a pair of boots or shoes that you will wear only when tending your flock, advises Scott, who grew up on a farm. Keep it outside. After cleaning your coop, separately wash the clothes you wore in your machine’s hot water cycle. (Wash yourself as well! A hot shower will do the trick.)

Set barriers: Chickens and other live poultry belong in the yard, not in the house, and especially not in the kitchen or any room where you store, prepare, and serve food, Scott says.

Says Nichols: “The poultry have their area, you have your area, and you keep it that way. That will definitely help prevent infection.”

Supervise your children: Children under the age of 5 should not have any direct contact with live poultry, Nichols says. Their immune systems cannot protect them enough from infection. Also, they are much more likely to put their fingers in their mouths.

Keep a close eye on older children to be sure that they don’t put their fingers in their mouths and that they wash their hands thoroughly after handling poultry.

No kissing: Don’t let a baby chick’s cuteness fool you into thinking it’s free of disease, Scott warns. “It’s better not to kiss them.”

Handle eggs properly: When you collect your flock’s eggs, which you should do at least once a day, rinse them in water that’s warmer than the eggs themselves. The warm water causes the shell to expand slightly, which helps push dirt out of pores on the shell. Don’t let them sit in the water. Use a detergent made for egg washing if your eggs are dirty. Dry them and store large side up in the refrigerator.

When you’re ready to eat, make sure to cook your eggs thoroughly. “The salmonella bacteria are actually in the yolk,” Scott says. “That’s why we shouldn’t eat raw or undercooked eggs.”

Story source: Matt McMillen, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/food-poisoning/20160719/backyard-chicken-salmonella

Parenting

Why Moms-To-Be Might Want to Hire a Doula

2:00

Ever heard of a doula?  You’re not alone if the answer is no.  The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “ a woman who serves.”

According to DONA International, a doula is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

A recent study found that women with doula care had 22% lower odds of giving birth prematurely, and were less likely to have a C-section. (Among the women with doulas, 20.4% gave birth via cesarean, compared to 34.2% of women without doulas.)

For pregnant women, doulas can offer emotional and physical support throughout the pregnancy and labor; either in a hospital setting or at home.  There are also doulas that are certified to help mothers postpartum.

While many people may not have heard of doulas, they are beginning to gain some recognition.  TIME Magazine recently published an article on the 4 reasons why moms-to-be should consider hiring one.  The author spoke with Jada Shapiro, founder of the doula referral service, Birth Day Presence, in New York City.

1. They provide extra care and support:

Although every doula has a unique approach, their main role is to care for the mom-to-be. 

“Doulas offer continuous support to women both during pregnancy and after childbirth,” Shapiro explains.

“In a way, we are trying to recreate what was typical in old-world communities when women were surrounded by a vast support system of female friends and relatives during pregnancy.”

And while doulas are not medical professionals, they possess a wealth of knowledge about pregnancy and childbirth that can be extremely helpful for expectant moms.

“We work closely with our clients to de-mystify pregnancy terminology and help women interpret their options,” says Shapiro. 

That said, one of the most common misconceptions about doulas is that they interfere with a woman’s obstetrician. Shapiro says it’s important to note that this is not the case. “Doulas complement the care a woman receives from her doctor,” she says. “We don’t get in the way of medical decisions.”

She also adds that while many people believe you can only work with a doula if you want a medicine-free birth, this is also untrue: Women with all kinds of birth plans can find it helpful to consult a doula during their pregnancy.

2. They can assist with pain management:

Moms-to-be are well aware of the stories of pain during labor and delivery as well as the growing physical un-comfortableness that comes with being pregnant.

“Doulas are well-trained in physical comfort and can offer a wide range of pain relief techniques and tools,” says Shapiro, including acupressure, hydrotherapy, birthing balls, massage, and suggesting position changes during labor. Doulas can also help moms relax with soothing imagery, music, and breathing exercises.

This individualized level of care can help moms feel a little calmer during one of the most physically and emotionally challenging days of their lives. “I believe that many mothers just feel generally more cared for and less alone during the experience of childbirth with the help of a doula,” Shapiro says.

 

3.They provide support to both moms and their partners:

“Something I hear from many of my clients is that they can’t believe how intimate their childbirth experience was, even with a doula there,” says Shapiro.

She adds that because childbirth can be such an overwhelming experience for families, having the support of a third party can be just as useful for partners as it is for moms-to-be: 

“Doulas can help recall important information from midwife or doctor appointments, lend a helping hand if mom needs a massage, or just generally absorb some of the stress from the partner,” she says. “In this way, a doula can allow partners to be fully present in the experience.”

4. They’re there for you on the big day:

“Doulas are typically on-call 24/7 during a client’s ‘due window’ of 36 to 42 weeks,” says Shapiro.

When a woman goes into labor, her doula will be available for physical and emotional support both while she’s laboring at home as well as accompanying her to the hospital.

And in addition to the aforementioned relaxation and pain relief techniques, doulas know a lot about childbirth (Shapiro, for example, has attended “more than 350” births in her 13 years as a professional doula).

“During labor, doulas might suggest alternate positions; encourage different non-medical techniques to potentially help speed up dilation, such as walking around; and just generally act as a sounding board for difficult medical decisions,” she says.

If you’re interested in learning more about doulas, you can check out the DONA International website at www.dona.org. It has information on where you can find a certified doula and how the process works.

Sources: Kathleen Mulpeter, http://news.health.com/2016/01/28/what-is-a-doula-4-reasons-pregnant-women-might-want-one/

Parenting

Parental Suicide Attempts Linked to Increase Risks in Kids

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Currently, there’s a recharged debate on whether suicide should ever be considered an acceptable option for someone. Some people say that it is never acceptable. Others believe that there are times when suicide is a valid option depending on the circumstances of the person’s life.

Whatever your personal belief, suicide happens; and when it does it often leaves a messy trail of depression and heartbroken sadness with those left behind.

Studies have shown that suicide can run in families, but few studies have looked at the pathways by which suicidal behavior is transmitted in families.  Those studies suggest that families, who have a history of mood disorders such as clinical depression and bipolar disorder, have an increase in suicide attempts and suicide.

A new study looked at what other factors could also be instrumental in family-related suicide attempts. It found that a suicide attempt by a parent increases the odds nearly 5-fold that a child of that parent will also attempt to take their own life.

But exactly why that happens still needs more exploration say researchers involved in the latest study.

"What that really means is that there is still part of this (family) transmission that we haven't figured out," said Dr. David Brent, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Brent and a team of coauthors followed the children of parents with mood disorders for nearly six years.  The study included 701 offspring  (ages 10 to 50) of 334 people with mood disorders, 191 of whom had also made a suicide attempt.

Researchers found that of the 701 children, 44 (6.3 percent) had attempted suicide before the study and 29 (4.1 percent) attempted suicide during the study follow-up.

Brent and his colleagues write in JAMA Psychiatry that parental history of a suicide attempt conveys a nearly five-fold increased odd of suicide attempt in children at risk for mood disorder, even after adjusting for the familial transmission of mood disorder.

The good news, according to Brent, is that there are treatments for mood disorders and impulsive aggression that may help some people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 million American adults report having made a suicide attempt within the last year.

The CDC also says that among young people ages 15 to 24, there are 100 to 200 suicide attempts for every one completed suicide.

Brent said that the children of people with a history of suicide attempts should not be excessively concerned about the study's finding of increased risk to them. "It's still extremely rare," he said.

"I think it's just a wakeup call," Brent said. "Just like if you have a family history of breast cancer or colon cancer. You'd be vigilant of that."

Children’s suicide attempts and suicide are always a serious matter. These days there are a variety of reasons why adolescents and young adults consider suicide; everything from being bullied to losing a first love. This research specifically looks at children that have mood disorders and suicide attempts within the core family.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), more than 90% of people who take their own lives have an underlying mental disorder at the time of their death. Many times, that disorder was never identified.

The disorders most often associated with suicide are depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Substance abuse, either on its own or in combination with another mental disorder, can also be a factor when someone takes their own life.

Their website, https://www.afsp.org, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org, both offer excellent background articles and resources for families who are experiencing this situation.

Sources: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/31/us-suicide-parent-children-risk-idUSKBN0K917E20141231

http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2048844

Parenting

Recall: Window Shades Due to Strangulation Risk

1:30

Window shades can help make a nursery darker when baby needs to sleep and filter the sun when it’s time to brighten the room. But if the shade is too close to the crib, it can also pose a real risk of strangulation.

Blinds To Go is recalling about 200,000 window shades because the shade’s chain or cord loop can slip out of the hold-down device, posing a strangulation hazard for small children.

The recalled custom-made shades have a hold-down device for the cord that is a clear, P-shaped plastic hook. The cord or chain loop of the window shades clips into the device. The hook is screwed to the side of the wall or window during installation. It was shipped with the Blinds To Go custom-made roller shades with Sidewinders; Smartlift pleated and cellular shades; Panel Tracks shades and Serenity shades.

So far, no injuries have been reported.

Consumers can contact the company to order a free retrofit kit that includes a new hold down device and instructions on how to replace the recalled part. Customers also can bring the window shades to a local showroom to have the new device fitted on the shades.

The shades were sold exclusively at Blinds To Go showrooms and online at their website from January 2009 to November 2014 for between $60 and $770.

Consumers can call Blinds To Go customer service at (800) 254-6377 from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, or visit www.blindstogo.com and click on “Child Safety Update” under Customer Service at the bottom of the page for more information.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Blinds-To-Go-Recalls-Window-Shades/

Parenting

Laughing Gas to Ease Labor Pains?

2:00

Like many Americans, you may think laughing gas (Nitrous Oxide) is something that is only used in a dentist’s office to ease the fear of dental work.  But if you live outside the U.S., you’re more likely to associate the pain reducing gas with childbirth.

A recent U.S. survey based on interviews with a representative sample of nearly 1,600 women who gave birth in American hospitals in 2005, showed that only about 1% of American women used nitrous oxide for pain relief during labor, as compared to 69 % of British women and 70% of New Zealanders.

However, U.S. doctors say that these figures may already be starting to shift in favor of using laughing gas in the delivery room.

Laughing gas used to be given to women during delivery quite often - but was replaced in the 1930s by the epidural for controlling pain. Today in the delivery room, epidurals are used almost exclusively for medically- induced pain relief.

In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration approved new laughing gas equipment to be used in American delivery rooms, and this resulted in a resurgence of use in America.

"Maybe 10 years ago, less than five or 10 hospitals used it [for women in labor]," Dr. William Camann, director of obstetric anesthetics at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told ABC News. "Now, probably several hundred. It’s really exploded. Many more hospitals are expressing interest."

Why should a woman consider using laughing gas during labor?  There are actually quite a few pros.

Laughing gas is regarded as a less extreme pain relief option during labor, when compared to the traditional epidural. It’s recommended for women who opt for a natural delivery but simply need a bit of help along the way.

"It's a relatively mild pain reliever that causes immediate feelings of relaxation and helps relieve anxiety," Camman explained. "It makes you better able to cope with whatever pain you’re having."

According to an article published in the journal Birth, “Although nitrous oxide provides much less complete pain relief than an epidural, it is enough for many women. It is eliminated through the lungs rather than the liver, and so does not accumulate in the mother’s or baby’s body. Unlike opioids, it does not depress respiration.”  

Another advantage is the cost. Nitrous oxide is a lot less expensive than an epidural. The average cost for a woman choosing laughing gas during labor may be less than a $100, compared to an epidural, which may run as high as $3,000 according to some experts.

One of the biggest complaints for women who undergo an epidural is the numbness they experience far after labor. It can take sometimes hours for women to regain complete sensation in the lower half of their body, but with laughing gas the effects wear off nearly as soon as inhalation ceases.

There are cons associated with laughing gas as well. It doesn’t completely alleviate the pain and many women feel it just isn’t strong enough. It can also cause some disorientation and a change in awareness.

Laughing gas is also known to have side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness. Although these are not experienced by all women who use the gas for pain relief, for those that do, it can blemish the birthing experience.

Ultimately, the choice whether or not to use laughing gas is completely up to the mom’s comfort level. She can also opt to have an epidural if she finds she does not like the effects of the gas or feels that it is not providing enough relief from the pain. Unfortunately, at this point many hospitals in America do not even offer laughing gas as an option, but perhaps due to this recent surge in popularity more delivery rooms will become stocked with the pain relief option in time. 

Having gone through the birthing experience myself, I vote for as many safe pain-relieving options as possible!

Sources: Dana Dovey, http://www.medicaldaily.com/laughing-gas-pain-relief-when-giving-birth-becoming-popular-option-among-new-moms-319180

Judith P. Rooks, CNM, MPH, MS http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1523-536X.2006.00150.x/full

Parenting

Happy July 4th!

1:30

This July Fourth marks 240 years since the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and a new nation was formed. It’s one of the biggest and most commemorative holidays of the year. For many American families, the day will be celebrated with friends, flags, good food, parades, music, reunions, water play, fireworks displays and numerous other festive activities.

It’s a great day for patriotic fun with family and friends, but don’t forget about safety and the pets.

Food preparation, sun exposure, water activity, fireworks and our precious pets all require extra attention on this very special holiday!

Drink plenty of water and limit alcohol consumption- especially if children need looking after.

Protect against food poisoning by following these simple rules:

•       Clean: Make sure you clean all surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water.

•       Separate: When grilling, use separate plates and utensils for raw meat and cooked meat and ready-to-eat foods (like raw vegetables) to avoid cross-contamination.

•       Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer. That’s the only way to know it’s a safe temperature. Remember, burgers should be cooked to 160°F.

•        Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly if not consuming after cooking. You shouldn’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours (or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90° F), so if you’re away from home, make sure you bring a cooler to store those leftovers.

Lots of families will be enjoying water activities at the beach or lake on July Fourth. Make sure your family plays it safe by:

•       Making sure the children – and even adults – always have a life jacket on when in the water or on a motorized water vehicle (boat, jet ski, etc.)

•       Never letting your children swim alone. An adult should always be present and paying attention.

•       Always stepping feet first into shallow water and never try to dive.

•       Reviewing safe boating practices.

•       Always having a phone handy should an emergency arise.

•       Knowing your limits when it comes to water.

Daylight hours are longer during the summer and the sun’s rays can be intense. If possible, limit your exposure to the sun between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn, so make sure they have plenty of sunscreen on. And once again, make sure you and the kids are drinking plenty of water! Watch for signs of heat stroke – rapid, weak pulse, fast, slow breathing, and hot, red skin.

Fireworks and the Fourth of July go hand-in-hand. The best way to protect the family from fireworks injuries is by attending a sponsored and controlled city or community fireworks event. Leave the explosions to the experts and enjoy the nighttime display!

If your city or county allows personal fireworks and you plan on having a few at the house, make sure safety is your first priority.

Fireworks can be dangerous, so in order to prevent injuries and deaths that are related to fireworks, here are a few firework safety tips to follow this Fourth of July:

·      Children should never be allowed to ignite or play with fireworks.

·      An adult should always be supervising firework activity.

·     A fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of water should always be on hand in the event of a mishap or fire.

·     No one should ever try to pick up or re-ignite a firework that did not ignite properly or fully the first time around.

·     Fireworks should only be lit one at a time and the person lighting them should immediately move away from the firework after lighting it.

And don’t forget about the four-legged family members! Pets don’t associate fireworks with celebrations and most are terrified of the loud explosions and whistles they produce.  Board or keep your pets indoors.

Make sure that lighter fluid and matches are out of your pet’s reach. While it’s tempting to feed your pets left over scraps, keep them on their regular diet. Keep citronella candles, insect coils and tiki torch oil products out of reach. These products can be poisonous to pets. And make sure that your pets have identification tags on them in case they escape. Having your pet chipped is inexpensive and provides a good way for owners to be tracked down in the event that a pet does run away.

July Fourth is a true American tradition. Here’s to having a fun and safe celebration!

Story sources: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/fourth-july-safety-tips

http://www.armymwr.com/july4th-safety.aspx

http://blogs.usda.gov/2012/07/02/four-food-safety-tips-for-the-fourth-how-to-protect-your-family-from-a-surprising-july-4th-danger/

 

 

Parenting

Energy Drinks and Hyperactivity in Kids

2:00

A new study suggests that energy drinks may contribute to hyperactivity and inattention in middle-school students.

Researchers looked at 1,600 students in an urban school district in Connecticut where the average age was 12 years old. They found that children who drank energy drinks were 66 percent more likely to be at risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms, according to the study in the current issue of the journal Academic Pediatrics.

Not only did the drinks contain caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant, but were also packed with sugar. The study also took into account other sugar-sweetened drinks consumed by the students.

"As the total number of sugar-sweetened beverages increased, so too did risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms among our middle-school students. Importantly, it appears that energy drinks are driving this association," study leader Jeannette Ickovics, a professor in the School of Public Health, said in a Yale news release.

"Our results support the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that parents should limit consumption of sweetened beverages and that children should not consume any energy drinks," she added.

The students in this study drank an average of two sugary drinks a day. The number of daily sugary drinks ranged from none to as many as seven or more such drinks. Some sugar-sweetened beverages and energy drinks contain up to 40 grams of sugar each. Depending on how old they are, children should only have about 21 to 33 grams of sugar a day, according to the researchers.

On an average, boys tended to drink more energy drinks than girls.

Along with the hyperactivity and inattention in school, researchers were concerned about the risk of obesity for children that consume these types of drinks.

Lots of kids and even some parents confuse sports drinks and energy drinks – thinking that they are the same thing. They are not.

Energy drinks contain substances not found in sports drinks that act as stimulants, such as caffeine, guarana and taurine. Caffeine – by far the most popular stimulant – has been linked to a number of harmful health effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.

As soda sales slip, energy drinks have increased nearly 7 percent creating a $9.7 billion dollar industry according to Bloomberg. Concerns have been raised that some energy drink manufacturers are marketing energy drinks directly at kids.

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) that deals specifically with children’s health issues, has emphatically stated that energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/energy-drinks-tied-to-low-attention-and-hyper-behavior-in-middle-schoolers-study-696275.html

http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Kids-Should-Not-Consume-Energy-Drinks,-and-Rarely-Need-Sports-Drinks,-Says-AAP.aspx

Parenting

Breast Feeding

1:30 to read

I recently read an editorial in The New York Times entitled “Overselling Breast Feeding”. It was written by Courtney Jung who is a professor of political science at the University of Toronto.  It was quite interesting to me as she stated “the moral fervor surrounding breast feeding continues unabated, with a steady stream of advocacy and education campaigns”.  The WHO (World Health Organization) developed “ten steps to successful breast feeding” in hopes of increasing breast feeding initiation and duration around the world. Hospitals have been designated “Baby-Friendly”  (aren’t they all supposed to be?)  if they adhere to these steps as well. But the United States has done well with breast feeding rates as 79% of mothers initiate breast feeding.

Most, if not all of the new mothers I make rounds on are proponents of breast feeding. They have read the books, gone to classes and are determined to be successful at breast feeding. But, in my experience over the last several years, I have actually seen more and more new mothers becoming over-wrought and wary of breast feeding fueled by the “rules” that they are being required to follow. With that being said, having someone “tell you that you must breast feed your baby in the first hour after birth”, and that “your baby must remain in your room 24 hours a day“, and that they “may not have a pacifier”, “and should “breast feed on demand” is actually anxiety promoting and leaves many a new mother exhausted and tearful within a day or two of having a baby. 

While breast feeding is “natural” it also requires some practice and the only practice is really “on the job” training.  Some babies just latch on quickly and are pros immediately, but not all babies will become proficient at breast feeding in the first day or two. The mothers are told to “let the baby nurse on demand” and some mothers have had their babies at the breast for hours on end and are exhausted, with sore and bleeding nipples. I have walked in to too many hospital rooms with a mother in tears and a fretful baby, and a “helpless” new father.  Some feel as if “they are failures” as mothers before they even are discharged, and at the same time are having serious doubts about continuing to breast feed.  They are sure that their baby will catch serious illnesses and have a lower IQ if they don’t breast feed, but how can they maintain this constant breast feeding and no sleep and never put a pacifier in their baby’s mouth??? Is there only one way to be successful at breast feeding?

I loved breast feeding but it was a long time ago and we were instructed by caring nurses “to just go home and put the baby to the breast every 2-3 hours”. While that may not have been the best education has the pendulum swung too far?  Will giving the baby one bottle when a mother is having postpartum anxiety and sleeplessness really harm the baby?  Should a mother have to sign an order allowing her baby to have a pacifier??   While guidelines for breast feeding are helpful should they be so rigid that a mother “gives up” on breast-feeding because she can’t follow 10 steps in the first 24-48 hours?   

The New York Times article was quite interesting and I had to agree with many of the author’s  points. Supporting a woman’s choice to breast feed is admirable and “policy changes promoting maternity leave, and flexibility” are definitely needed to encourage women to continue to breast feed. But as she states “is all of this breast feeding advocacy crossing the line?”   A mother should choose to breast feed because she wants to, and that does not mean if her baby does not breast feed in the first hour that she will never bond with her baby or be successful at breast feeding.  Some woman are unable to breast feed for a multitude of reasons and that decision should not label her as a “bad mother”.  Again, breast feeding, like a woman’s breast, is not “one size fits all”. 

 

Parenting

The Magic of Music

2:00

“Where words fail, music speaks,” wrote Danish author, Hans Christian Anderson and he was so right. Music is the universe’s official language where old and young share its beauty and complexity.

Alzheimer’s patients have been known to respond with joy and excitement when played their favorite music after being non-responsive to other stimulus.

Children jump in rhythm and clap their hands when they hear the sounds of instruments playing. Hundreds of YouTube videos show how quickly tears can turn to smiles and giggles as the first notes of Disney’s  “Let It Go” spring forth. 

Is there really anyone who isn’t deeply affected by music?

Research has shown that particpating in music benefits children when learning other subjects and offers kids a variety of skills they can use throughout their life. 

“A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.

Can particpation in music make a child smarter? There’s a difference of opinion about that. However, it’s safe to say that it takes an assortment of specific skills to sing or play an instrument or do both simultaneously.

For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles, says Kenneth Guilmartin, cofounder of Music Together, an early childhood music development program for infants through kindergarteners that involves parents or caregivers in the classes.

“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” Guilmartin says.

Children have learned how to sing and speak in other languages by listening to cross-culture songs. I even picked up a little French from the Beatles’ “Michelle” when I was a child. “Michelle, ma belle, Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble,Tres bien ensemble.”(These are words which go together well, together well.)

According to the Children’s Music Workshop, the effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.

Research indicates the brain of a musician, even a young one, works differently than that of a non-musician. “There’s some good neuroscience research that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people not in music training. When you’re a musician and you’re playing an instrument, you have to be using more of your brain,” says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches a specialized music curriculum for children aged two months to nine years.

Playing music makes your brain work harder, but what about just listening to music? While some studies have noted that learning to play music can enhance your brain, listening to music just makes you feel good. But really, isn’t that wonderful too?

Music enriches your life. It’s captivating and has the power to make you smile or cry. Most of all, it’s universal.

Introducing children to music at a young age opens the door to new adventures. Whether it’s classical or hip-hop, country or rock, bluegrass or blues, jazz or Dixieland, African rhythms or Mongolian throat-singing; borders and politics may separate people, but nations and communities will share their music.

“There is a massive benefit from being musical that we don’t understand, but it’s individual. Music is for music’s sake,” Rasmussen says. “The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you have a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music,” he adds. “Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.”

Yes, music is the official language of the universe and a beautiful gift to share with our children.

Source: Laura Lewis Brown, http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-benefits-of-music-education

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