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Your Baby

Mom’s Blood Pressure May Determine Sex of Baby

1:45

Parents-to-be have been looking for signs that predict the sex of their baby for thousands of years.  Carrying high? You’re having a girl! Is your baby bump round like a basketball? Congratulations, you’re having a boy! While these “old wives tales” have never been reliable, scientists can now make an educated guess at about four and half months, during pregnancy, with an ultrasound. Another test, amniocentesis, can be used to check the baby’s chromosomes. This tests is usually reserved for older mothers to identify possible genetic problems.

A new study from China, may offer another alternative for determining the sex of a pre-born baby  - tracking the mother’s blood pressure.

Researchers began their study in 2009, with just over 1,400 newly married women in Liuyang, China. All the women had the intention of becoming pregnant within 6 months.

Before becoming pregnant, all the women underwent full lab tests to record their blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels.

Once the women became pregnant, their health was tracked. All received routine obstetric care, including continual monitoring of blood pressure shifts, as well as the diagnosis of any complications throughout their pregnancies.

Ultimately, the study participants gave birth to 739 boys and 672 girls.

Researchers found that women who gave birth to boys had registered a higher pre-pregnancy systolic blood pressure (the upper number in a blood pressure reading) than women who gave birth to girls. Mothers of boys averaged about 113 mm Hg, versus mothers of girls who had an average near 110 mm Hg.

After making adjustments for maternal age, educational background, smoking history, obesity and blood labs, they found the blood pressure numbers still held up.

"The only thing that was related was blood pressure, but blood pressure was strongly related," said study co-author Ravi Retnakaran, M.D., an endocrinologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

The findings add another link in the mystery of what determines the sex of a fetus in utero; however, researchers say more studies are needed to prove a mother’s blood pressure determines the sex of her child.

"One of the things we don't want is for people to look at this and think, 'Oh, we can manipulate the blood pressure before pregnancy and thereby change the chances of having a boy or a girl.' We definitely are not saying that, because we are not showing cause and effect," Retnakaran said. "I think the way to look at this is that it may be telling us something very new about [our] physiology."

The study was published in the American Journal of Hypertension.

Story sources: Alan Mozes, http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20170112/could-moms-pre-pregnancy-blood-pressure-predict-babys-gender#1

Jessica Mattern, http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/womens-health/news/a57553/blood-pressure-sex-of-baby/

Your Baby

Having a Baby? Keep Your Pets!

1:00

In a world full of allergens, you might think that having pets around could only make things worse.  But according to a new study from Canada, families with dogs and cats may unwittingly be protecting their infant children from not only allergies but obesity as well.

University of Alberta epidemiologist Anita Kozyrskyj and a team of researchers analyzed more than 700 Canadian children. They found babies exposed to pets while in the womb or up to three months recorded an "abundance" of ruminococcus and oscillospira (both are bacteria found in the gut,) the latter of which is associated with leanness or lower body mass index, notes the study - published in the journal Microbiome.

Kozyrskyj said the two types of bacteria increased "twofold" when a pet was in the house. The team said the theory is that early exposure to bacteria — like that from a dog — creates a type of resistance.

Unborn babies can benefit from allergy resistance by being indirectly exposed through their mother’s womb. The microbes can pass from pet to mother to baby.

Even if a parent decides not to keep pets after the baby is born, if pets were in the house during the pregnancy, the infant may gain some benefit anyway.

The findings also suggest pet exposure could cut down the risk of group B strep, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said could cause blood infection, pneumonia and meningitis in newborns. Doctors treat against group B strep by giving mothers antibiotics during the delivery process.

Dogs were shown to offer higher levels of the beneficial microbes.

Story source: Sean Rossman, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/04/07/why-owning-pet-could-protect-your-baby-obesity-and-allergies/100162098/#

Your Baby

“Furry Pets” May Help Kids Avoid Some Allergies

2:00

You might think that having pets would be a nightmare if you have small children with a family history of allergies. A new study says that furry pets may actually help protect children against some allergies.

The infants’ mothers had a history of allergy, so the babies were at increased risk too, and it was once thought that pets might be a trigger for allergies in such children, the authors point out in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“Earlier it was thought that exposure to pets early in childhood was a risk factor for developing allergic disease,” said Dr. Merja Nermes of the University of Turku in Finland, who coauthored the research letter. “Later epidemiologic studies have given contradictory results and even suggested that early exposure to pets may be protective against allergies, though the mechanisms of this protective effect have remained elusive.”

Adding pet microbes to the infant intestinal biome may strengthen the immune system, she told Reuters Health by email.

The study team collected fecal samples from diapers when the babies were one month of age and these were tested for the DNA of two types of Bifidobacteria that are found specifically in animal guts: B. thermophilum and B. pseudolongum.

One third of infants from the pet-exposed group had animal-specific bifidobacteria in their fecal samples, compared to 14 percent of the comparison group. It’s not clear where the infants without furry pets at home acquired their gut bacteria, the authors write.

When the babies were six months old they had skin prick tests to assess allergies to cow’s milk, egg white, flours, cod, soybeans, birch, grasses, cat, dog, potato, banana and other allergens.

At six months of age, 19 infants had reactions to at least one of the allergens tested. None of these infants had B. thermophilum bacteria in their fecal samples.

Other studies have pointed out the connection between kids exposed to farm animals and household pets and building a better immune system.

“When infants and furry pets live in a close contact in the same household, transfer of microbiota between pets and infants occurs,” Nermes said. “For example, when a dog licks the infant´s face or hand, the pet-derived microbiota can end up via the mouth into the infant´s intestine.”

Human-specific Bifidobacteria have beneficial health effects, and animal-specific strains may also be beneficial, she said. It is still unclear, however, if exposure to these bacteria protects against allergies later in life, she said.

“Future research is needed to assess if these infants develop less atopic dermatitis, asthma or allergic rhinitis later,” she said.

Nermes also noted that she believes pediatricians should not discourage pregnant women or parents of infants from having pets in order to prevent allergies.

“If a family with a pregnant mother or an infant wants to have a pet, the family can be encouraged to have one, because the development of allergic disease cannot be prevented by avoiding pets,” she said.

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/10/us-health-allergy-pet-microbes-idUSKCN0RA2CK20150910

 

 

Your Baby

Pregnant? Exercise is Good For You!

2:00

For years, the prevailing thought has been – if you didn’t exercise before, during pregnancy wasn’t the time to start. That’s no longer the case says, Alejandro Lucia, a professor of exercise physiology at the European University of Madrid.

A group of researchers want women to know that when it comes to exercise, there is a strong consensus of benefit for both the mother and developing fetus.

"Within reason, with adequate cautions, it's important for [everyone] to get over this fear," said Lucia.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which updated its recommendations in 2015, women without major medical or obstetric complications should get at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise — enough to get you moving, while still being able to carry on a conversation — on most days of the week.

Lucia noted that evidence now suggests that starting an exercise program while pregnant can provide health benefits to both the mother and the growing fetus. Obviously, though, if you're new to exercise, take it slowly — you can work up to that 20 or 30 minutes.

The authors of the study say physical activity can prevent excessive weight gain, which can complicate the pregnancy and contribute to obesity. A review of existing research published in 2015 by the Cochrane Library found "high-quality evidence" that exercise during pregnancy can help prevent gaining too much weight, and may possibly lower the likelihood of a cesarean section, breathing problems in newborns, maternal hypertension and a baby that is significantly bigger than average. And of course, exercise promotes general cardiovascular and muscular health.

Other health problems can be helped such as chronic high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and women who are overweight or obese. Researchers say women with these conditions should be encouraged to exercise.

However, there are some health conditions in pregnancy where exercise should be avoided. According to the ACOG guidelines, women should avoid aerobic exercise if they have significant heart disease, persistent bleeding in the second or third trimester, severe anemia and risk of premature labor, among other conditions. And certain symptoms, such as contractions or dizziness during exercise, should be checked out quickly.

The bottom line is that women need to make a plan with their physician, taking into account their exercise history, their health, and the risk of pregnancy complications, says James Pivarnik, a professor of kinesiology and epidemiology at Michigan State University. He wasn't an author of the viewpoint but has conducted research on exercise and pregnancy.

Moderation is the goal during any exercise program. Long distance running and heavy weight lifting are not recommended. ACOG also recommends against contact sports, hot yoga, and exercises done in the supine position, i.e. lying face up, starting in the second trimester.

There are always exceptions to the rule, particularly with women who are highly trained athletes before they become pregnant. These women should still form plan with their OB/GYN on how much and what kinds of exercises are safe for them.

Among the general population and pregnant women specifically, people will respond differently to an exercise program. "But we know if you do the kind of things they're talking about here, the odds are your risk will be lower," says. Pivarnik.

Story source: Katherine Hobson, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/21/520951610/exercising-while-pregnant-is-almost-always-a-good-idea

Your Baby

FDA Warning: No Homeopathic Teething Tablets or Gels

1:45

Some babies have little to no symptoms during teething, while others experience quite a bit of pain for months. When teething pain occurs, infants may cry and be irritable until they find relief.

Homeopathic tablets and gels aimed at helping soothe babies’ pain may be dangerous for infants and toddlers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced in a statement. 

The FDA is investigating reports of seizures in infants and small children who were given homeopathic teething products, which may contain "natural" compounds but are not regulated as drugs by the FDA.

In addition, the FDA said in the statement that "consumers should seek medical care immediately if their child experiences seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating or agitation" after using homeopathic teething tablets and gels.

According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrated Health, homeopathy relies on two theories: “like cures like”—the notion that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people; and “law of minimum dose”—the notion that the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness.

The FDA said in the statement that the agency is not aware of any proven health benefit of using homeopathic teething tablets and gels.

In 2010, the FDA issued a safety alert about a homeopathic teething tablet that contained belladonna. Belladonna — also called deadly nightshade — is a poisonous plant that contains a chemical called atropine. At high levels, atropine can be deadly. In homeopathy, it is used to treat redness and inflammation.

At the time, the FDA found that the teething tablets contained inconsistent amounts of belladonna. The company that made the tablets, Hyland, subsequently recalled the product.

Hyland issued a statement and video in response to the current FDA warning against the use of homeopathic teething remedies.

"As you may have seen, on September 30, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration issued a surprise statement recommending that consumers discontinue use of homeopathic teething tablets and gels because they may pose a risk," Hyland's stated. "We are fully cooperating with FDA’s inquiry and we’re providing them with all the data we have. We also hope to learn from FDA what facts, if any, the Agency has based its action on."

Hyland also noted “The safety and effectiveness of Hyland’s natural homeopathic medicines is our top priority. That’s why we work with regulators to ensure that our products meet the highest standards. If we ever had reason to be concerned of that safety, we would act immediately."

"Teething can be managed without prescription or over-the-counter remedies," Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the FDA statement. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends teething rings or hard, unsweetened teething crackers. Do not use frozen teething toys because they can cause more discomfort by injuring a baby's mouth, the AAP advises.

Be sure and check with your pediatrician about teething pain relief if your little one is having a hard time getting through the teething process.

Story sources: Sara G. Miller, http://www.livescience.com/56352-fda-warning-homeopathic-teething-tablets.html

Michael Johnsen, http://www.drugstorenews.com/article/hylands-responds-fda-teething-tablet-warning

 

Your Baby

Eating Fish During Pregnancy Benefits Baby’s Brain Development

2:00

Can eating more fish during pregnancy help babies’ brains function better as they grow older? Yes, according to a new study from Spain. The researchers say that mothers who eat three substantial servings of fish – each week- during pregnancy may be giving their children an advantage as they mature.

Researchers followed nearly 2,000 mother-child pairs from the first trimester of pregnancy through the child’s fifth birthday and found improved brain function in the kids whose mothers ate the most fish while pregnant, compared to children of mothers who ate the least.

Even when women averaged 600 grams, or 21 ounces, of fish weekly during pregnancy, there was no sign that mercury or other pollutants associated with fish were having a negative effect that offset the apparent benefits.

“Seafood is known to be an important source of essential nutrients for brain development, but at the same time accumulates mercury from the environment, which is known to be neurotoxic,” lead author Jordi Julvez, of the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, said in an email to Reuters Health.

This important health concern prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to come up with a guideline for pregnant women in 2014. It encourages women to eat more fish during pregnancy, but limit the intake to no more than 12 ounces per week.

For this study, researchers analyzed data from the Spanish Childhood and Environment Project, a large population study that recruited women in their first trimester of pregnancy, in four provinces of Spain, between 2004 and 2008.

Julvez and colleagues focused on records of the women’s consumption of large fatty fish such as swordfish and albacore tuna, smaller fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies or salmon, and lean fish such as hake or sole, as well as shellfish and other seafood.

Women were tested for blood levels of vitamin D and iodine, and cord blood was tested after delivery to measure fetal exposure to mercury and PCB pollutants. At ages 14 months and five years, the children underwent tests of their cognitive abilities and Asperger Syndrome traits to assess their neuropsychological development.

On average, the women had consumed about 500 g, or three servings, of seafood per week while pregnant. But with every additional 10 g per week above that amount, children’s test scores improved, up to about 600 g. The link between higher maternal consumption and better brain development in children was especially apparent when kids were five.

The researchers also saw a consistent reduction in autism-spectrum traits with increased maternal fish consumption.

Mothers’ consumption of lean fish and large fatty fish appeared most strongly tied to children’s scores, and fish intake during the first trimester, compared to later in pregnancy, also had the strongest associations.

“I think that in general people should follow the current recommendations,” Julvez said. “Nevertheless this study pointed out that maybe some of them, particularly the American ones, should be less stringent.”

Julvez noted that there didn’t appear to be any additional benefit when women ate more than 21 ounces (about 595 g) of fish per week.

“I think it's really interesting, and it shed a lot more light on the benefits of eating fish during pregnancy,” said Dr. Ashley Roman, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

“I think what's interesting about this study compared to some data previously is that they better quantify the relationship between how much fish is consumed in a diet and then the benefits for the fetus and ultimately the child,” said Roman, who was not involved in the study.

Roman also noted that pregnant women should avoid certain fish such as tilefish, shark, swordfish and giant mackerel. These are larger fish with longer life spans that may accumulate more mercury in their tissue.

While fish may be a great source of protein and benefit brain development in utero, most experts agree that women should consult their obstetrician about what fish are safer to eat and how much they should eat during pregnancy.

The study was published online in the January edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology

Source: Shereen Lehman, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-pregnancy-fish-idUSKCN0UW1S4

 

 

 

Your Baby

Why Do Babies Eyes Change Color?

1:30

Close to the top of questions many parent’s have about their newborn is what color will my baby’s eyes be?

It’ll take a while before you actually know your baby’s true eye color. That’s because eye color is a genetic trait that depends on several factors. While your baby may have gray or blue eyes at birth, his or her eyes may eventually be brown, blue, green, hazel, gray, violet or even a combination of colors. 

Parents' genes can mix and match in many different ways. The influences from each parent aren't known until after the baby is born. Eye color traits also include grandparents. A brown-eyed mother and father can have a child with blue eyes if there are blue eyes in his or her genetic history.

The colored part of the eye is called the iris, which has pigmentation that determines our eye color.

Human eye color originates with three genes, two of which are well understood. These genes account for the most common colors — green, brown, and blue.

Most babies are born with blue or gray eyes that can darken in their first three years.

Iris color, just like hair and skin color, depends on a protein called melanin. We have specialized cells in our bodies called melanocytes whose job it is to go around secreting melanin where it’s needed, including in the iris. When your baby is born his eyes will be gray or blue since melanocytes respond to light and he has spent his whole life in the dark.

Over time, if melanocytes only secrete a little melanin, your baby will have blue eyes. If they secrete a bit more, his eyes will look green or hazel. When melanocytes get really busy, eyes look brown (the most common eye color), and in some cases they may appear very dark indeed. Because it takes about a year for melanocytes to finish their work it can be a dicey business calling eye color before the baby’s first birthday. The color change does slow down some after the first 6 months of life, but there can be plenty of change left at that point.

We used to think of brown being "dominant" and blue being "recessive." But modern science has shown that eye color is not at all that simple.

Children can have completely different eye colors than either of their parents. But if both parents have brown eyes, it's most likely that their children also will have brown eyes.

The darker colors tend to dominate, so brown typically wins out over green, and green tends to win out over blue.

Eye color is one of those interesting things that pique our curiosity, but no matter what color your baby’s eyes end up being; they’ll be beautiful because they belong to your special little one!

Story sources: David L Hill MD,FAAP,  https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Newborn-Eye-Color.aspx

Burt Dubow, OD, http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/eye-color.htm

Your Baby

Spit-Cleaning Your Infant’s Binky

1.45 to read

Have you ever sucked on your baby’s pacifier to clean it? Many parents have. Babies drop their binkies all the time and if you’re in a hurry or just figure a little spit-cleaning won’t hurt, you’re more likely to stick it in your own mouth and give it a quick once over.

A new study out of Sweden says the spit-cleaning technique may actually help your infant avoid eczema and asthma.

“It was surprising that the effect was so strong,” says pediatric allergist Dr. Bill Hesselmar of Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, lead author of the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The study involved 136 infants who used a pacifier in their first 6 months. 65 of the infants had parents that reported sucking the pacifier to clean it. In those children, both eczema and asthma were strongly reduced when they were examined at 18 months of age. At 36 months of age, the protective effect remained for eczema but not for asthma.

Scientists didn’t know why the sucking on the baby’s pacifier acted as a protector or whether it was filtering out germs. The technique didn’t have any impact on respiratory illness, meaning that the babies were not more likely to get a cold or the flu from their parents. Common sense would dictate that if you have a cold or the flu or any other contagious condition, then it’s not a good idea to suck on your baby’s binky. Otherwise, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

Why is sucking on your infant’s pacifier possibly helpful in preventing asthma or eczema in your child? Scientists hypothesize that tiny organisms in the saliva of the parents may be why. Parent’s saliva introduces gut micoflora that live in the digestive tract of the baby. “We know that if infants have diverse microflora in the gut, then children will have less allergy and less eczema,” says Hesselmar. “When parents suck on the pacifier, they are transferring microflora to the child.”

Many pediatricians and family doctors are concerned that children are being “excessively cleaned” into illness. With anti-bacterial soaps and swipes being used on everything, and kids not allowed to get dirty, their immune system isn’t getting the workout it needs to help fight off common illnesses. The bacterial microorganisms provided in the parent’s saliva might help stimulate the baby’s immune system.

“The most exciting result was the eczema,” says Christine Johnson, chair of the public health department at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital. “I’m a bit more skeptical about the asthma findings because asthma is hard to measure before a child is five or six years old.”

Hesselmar also urges moms to lick the baby’s pacifier if their child was delivered by C-section. Vaginal delivered babies receive quite a bit of microbes during delivery. C-section babies can be more prone to allergies. “If they are using a pacifier and those parents think it’s OK to suck on the pacifier, then yes, I would recommend it,” Hesselmar says.

Some parents may find the idea of picking up a pacifier that’s fallen on the floor and putting it in their mouth kind of disgusting. That’s fine, there’s no need to worry about it. If the idea doesn’t bother you, all the better says Hesselmar, “I haven’t heard of anyone getting ill from it,” he says. “There isn’t much bacteria on the floor.”

Source: Barbara Mantel, http://www.today.com/moms/why-it-may-be-ok-spit-clean-your-babys-binkie-6C9773378

Your Baby

Teething May Make Your Baby Fussy, But Not Sick

2:00

Parents sometimes have trouble distinguishing between whether their cranky baby is actually ill or is just getting his or her first teeth. Because a baby’s gums may be tender and swollen as their teeth come in, a slight rise in temperature can occur.  Other changes may happen as well such as fussiness and increased drooling. All- in –all, babies can be pretty miserable till those first teeth break through.

That said, teething does not cause a full-fledged fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or any other signs of illness according to a new review led by Dr. Michele Bolan, of the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Certain symptoms can be confusing for parents says Dr. Minu George, interim chief of general pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"I get questions about this on a daily basis," said George, who was not involved in the study.

When a baby’s temperature reaches 100.4 degrees F or higher, it becomes an actual fever, not just a slight increase in temperature.

"Fevers are not a bad thing," she pointed out. "They're part of the body's response to infection." But, George added, parents should be aware that a fever is likely related to an illness.

Of course, new parents are going to be somewhat edgy when it comes to caring for their infant. It’s a new world of responsibility that can seem overwhelming at times. 

Pediatricians and family doctors regularly answer questions about this topic with an explanation of how a typical teething experience presents.

Over the ages, other symptoms have been linked to teething that should never apply. They include sores or blisters around the mouth, appetite loss and diarrhea that does not go away quickly. Any of these symptoms warrant a call to your pediatrician.

Babies differ in age as to when their teeth begin to come in.  Typically, the fist tooth begins to erupt around 6 months of age. It can also be as early as 3 months and as late as 1 year of age. There really isn’t a set age for teething to begin, just an average.

Baby’s teeth usually erupt through the gums in a certain order:

·      The two bottom front teeth (central incisors)

·      The four upper front teeth (central and lateral incisors)

·      The two lower lateral incisors

·      The first molars

·      The four canines (located on either side next to the upper and lower lateral incisors)

·      The remaining molars on either side of the existing line of teeth

By age 3, most children have all 20 of their primary teeth.

As for helping babies get through the misery of teething, George advised against medication, including topical gels and products that are labeled "natural" or "homeopathic."

Instead, she said, babies can find relief by chewing on a cooled teething ring or wet washcloth, or eating cool foods.

The analysis was published in the February online edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Amy Norton, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20160218/teething-makes-babies-cranky-but-not-sick-review

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/tc/teething-topic-overview

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