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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

Mom and Baby Benefit by Skin-to-Skin Contact Right After Birth

1:30

Over the years, modern birth methods have changed how newborns and mothers interact with each other. Typically, the baby is cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket then given to the mother to hold. A new scientific review suggests that skin-to-skin contact is better for the mother and gives her infant a better start in life.

The review noted that women who had skin-to-skin contact with their naked babies soon after delivery were more likely to breastfeed longer and be breastfeeding months later than women who didn't have their babies placed on their skin right away.

"The more you can do to place the mother and baby together and disturb them as little possible during that first hour, the better off they’ll be," said lead author Elizabeth Moore, of the School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Researchers looked through medical literature and found 46 randomized controlled trials to include in their review. The trials included 3,850 women and their newborns from 21 countries. All babies were healthy and most were born at term.

"We compared those trials to usual care, and usual care was very different depending on the trial," said Moore. Trials from the 1970s may have separated mothers from their babies for hours. In more modern trials, babies might be swaddled in a blanket before being handed to the mother.

Moore and her team found evidence that babies who had received skin-to-skin contact were more likely to breastfeed successfully during their very first breastfeeding session, and they also tended to have higher blood glucose levels and stronger heart and lung function.

 “It’s just something that if at all possible should happen," Moore told Reuters Health.

Skin-to-skin contact should begin as soon as possible and last for at least 60 minutes, she said. The hour will give babies time to recover from the birthing experience, find the mother's nipple and latch on.

"It’s not something you can do in just 15 minutes," Moore said.

Not all physicians and hospitals are on board when it comes to immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth.

“I would recommend that a woman make sure she adds skin-to-skin to her birth plan," Moore said. "I think it’s a really good thing for a woman to put together a birth plan before she heads to the hospital and show it to her physicians or midwife."

What if your baby is premature or is delivered by cesarean? The researchers didn't find any benefits to initiating skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth versus after the baby had been examined and washed. They also failed to find any clear benefits to skin-to-skin contact that lasted longer than an hour.

"The evidence supports that early [skin-to-skin contact] should be normal practice for healthy newborns," the researchers wrote, "including those born by cesarean and babies born early at 35 weeks or more."

The review was published in the Cochrane Library in November. 

Story sources: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-birth-skin-idUSKBN13V2UZ

Kenza Moller, https://www.romper.com/p/why-skin-to-skin-contact-after-birth-could-be-beneficial-for-mothers-babies-alike-24423

 

Your Baby

Babies in 3D Virtual Reality

1:45

3D imaging of fetuses has been around for a while, but the images are typically static and lacking in depth. That may change however, with a new virtual reality technique that can be rotated 360 degrees, according to a team of researchers from Brazil.

The researchers said that they hope that these enhanced fetal models are the next step in not only allowing parents to visualize their future children, but also in helping researchers to better understand fetal anatomy.

In their research, the researchers were able to use the technique to visualize and make 3D models of 25 fetuses. There were two cases in which the technique didn't work In those, the levels of amniotic fluid were too low for the researchers to get images of the fetus that were high enough in their resolution to make the 3D model, Werner told Live Science.

But in the cases where the technique worked, "we found these images more real, and the possibility that we can see in 360 degrees presents us with a greater interaction with the exam," said study co-author Dr. Heron Werner Jr., who is from a company called Clinical Diagnostic Imaging that is based in Rio de Janeiro. Heron and his colleagues recently presented the technique at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

The technique involves creating a 3D model of the fetus using MRI and ultrasound, or a combination of the two. A pregnant woman would undergo an imaging exam similar to a regular obstetric ultrasound or MRI. Next, the researchers would use frames of these images, in sequence, to begin to make a 3D model of the fetus, the researchers said.

The most exciting part is that the parents would then be able to view the final image - which can include the inside of the womb, the umbilical cord and the placenta along with the fetus — through a virtual reality device like a headset.

Werner and his team used a virtual reality headset in their research. They found that women could not only experience what it would look like if they were flying through and around their fetus by merely looking around, but also they could hear the fetal heartbeat, by way of the ultrasound.

Another benefit of this new technology is in its ability to allow medical professionals new options for evaluating the health and development of a fetus, the researchers said.

For example, the researchers said, a doctor could zoom through the entire length of a fetus’s airway to look for masses that could block it and to better determine delivery options.

What once seemed like science fiction is well on its way to being a part of everyday science.

Story source: Taylor Kubota, http://www.livescience.com/57221-vrtual-reality-shows-unborn-babies-in-3d.html

 

Your Baby

Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Reduce Baby’s Asthma Risk

2:00

A Danish study’s results suggests pregnant women that take a fish oil supplement during the final 3 months of pregnancy may reduce their baby’s risk of developing asthma or persistent wheezing.

The study involved 736 pregnant women, in their third trimester. Half the women took a placebo containing olive oil and the other group was given 2.4 grams of fish oil. The women took the supplements until one week after birth.

Among children whose mothers took fish-oil capsules, 16.9 percent had asthma by age 3, compared with 23.7 percent whose mothers were given placebos. The difference, nearly 7 percentage points, translates to a risk reduction of about 31 percent.

In the study, the researchers noted that they are not ready to recommend that pregnant women routinely take fish oil. Although the results of the study were positive, several experts have noted that more research needs to be done before higher doses of fish oil supplements are recommended over eating more fish.

Researchers found no adverse effects in the mothers or babies, the doses were high, 2.4 grams per day is 15 to 20 times what most Americans consume from foods.

One in five young children are affected by asthma and wheezing disorders. In recent decades, the rate has more than doubled in Western countries. Previous research has shown that those conditions are more prevalent among babies whose mothers have low levels of fish oil in their bodies. The new large-scale test, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, is the first to see if supplements can actually lower the risk.

Before doctors can make any recommendations, the study should be replicated, and fish oil should be tested earlier in pregnancy and at different doses, Dr. Hans Bisgaard, the leading author of the study, said in an email to the New York Times. He is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Copenhagen and the head of research at the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood, an independent research unit.

Dr. Bisgaard said it was not possible to tell from the study whether pregnant women could benefit from simply eating more fish. Pregnant women are generally advised to limit their consumption of certain types of fish like swordfish and tuna because they contain mercury. But many other types are considered safe, especially smaller fish like sardines that are not at the top of the food chain and therefore not likely to accumulate mercury and other contaminants from eating other fish.

“It is possible that a lower dose would have sufficed," the Bisgaard team said.

The supplements didn't seem to affect the odds of a baby or toddler developing the skin condition eczema, or an allergy such as a reaction to milk or egg products, or a severe asthma attack.

An editorial in the same journal by an expert who was not part of the study praised the research, saying it was well designed and carefully performed. The author of that editorial, Dr. Christopher E. Ramsden, from the National Institutes of Health, said the findings would help doctors develop a “precision medicine” approach in which fish-oil treatment could be tailored to women who are most likely to benefit.

If the findings are confirmed in other populations, doctors could test to see who would mostly likely benefit from fish oil supplements. "The health care system is currently not geared for such," Bisgaard said. "But clearly this would be the future."

If you are considering taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy, be sure and check with your OB/GYN for a recommended dose.

All fish oils are not the same. Some brands of fish oil are of higher quality than others. A reputable fish oil manufacturer should be able to provide documentation of third-party lab results that show the purity levels of their fish oil, down to the particles per trillion level. Also, if the supplements smell or taste fishy, they shouldn’t. High quality fish oil supplements don’t. Avoid fish oils that have really strong or artificial flavors added to them because they are most likely trying to hide the fishy flavor of rancid oil.

Story sources: Denise Grady, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/health/fish-oil-asthma-pregnancy.html?WT.mc_id=SmartBriefs-Newsletter&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=smartbriefsnl

Gene Emery, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-asthma-fish-oil-idUSKBN14H1T3

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/omega-3-fish-oil/

 

Your Baby

How Safe is Your Baby’s Teething Ring?

1:30

Millions of American babies suck on teething rings to ease the discomfort of emerging teeth. Many of those rings contain banned chemicals that can be hazardous to their health, according to new study.

Researchers in the United States, who tested five-dozen baby teething rings, found all of them contained bisphenol-A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Studies in animals have shown that endocrine disruptors interfere with hormones and cause developmental, reproductive and neurological harm, according to the study authors.

Labeling on the teething rings was deceptive, with most of the products characterized as BPA-free or non-toxic. All of them contained BPA, the study found. BPA is banned from children's drinking utensils in the United States and much of Europe.

BPA was not the only banned chemical found; the rings that were tested also contained parabens and the antimicrobial agents triclosan and triclocarban, which are also endocrine disruptors, the researchers said.

"The findings could be used to develop appropriate policies to protect infants from exposure to potentially toxic chemicals found in teethers," said study author Kurunthachalam Kannan and colleagues from the N.Y. State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center.

Because babies suck on teething rings, the presence of potentially harmful chemicals on the surface is concerning, the researchers said. The study authors said this is especially true since they found that BPA and other chemicals leached out of the rings into water.

The 59 teething rings analyzed were purchased online in the United States and tested for 26 potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals, the researchers said.

There are alternatives to teething rings. Frozen mini-bagels, wet washcloths, silicone toys and wooden spoons are just a few examples. Never leave your baby unattended with any of these alternatives. While they are very effective, you should make sure to keep an eye on your little one anytime they have something in their mouth.

The results of the study were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Story source: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/chemical-health-news-730/is-that-baby-teether-safe-717512.html

 

 

Your Baby

Recall: Otteroo Baby Floats Due to Drowning Risks

1:00

Babies and young children can drown in less than 2 inches of water.  That’s why it is  vital that parents and caregivers never leave a baby or young child unattended while they are near or in water.

When bathing their infant, parents will sometimes attach a bath float to their child to help keep his or her head above water. While the float may offer some assistance, critics warn that the device can give parents a false sense of security that their child is protected from drowning.

Otteroo Corporation makes inflatable baby floats that are specifically designed for babies 8 weeks and up.

The company is recalling about 3000 units of their inflatable Baby Floats after receiving 54 reports of broken seems on the product. No injuries have been reported.

The Otteroo Inflatable Baby Float is an inflatable round ring made of clear and blue plastic material. It has two air chambers that fasten around a baby’s neck with a white buckle. The floats have a chin rest, two handles and two circular openings on the back of the ring to allow the device to expand as the child grows with age. There are three colorful balls that move freely around inside the ring.  The name “Otteroo” is imprinted on the top of the float in large, orange letters with an Otter logo.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled inflatable baby floats and contact the firm to receive a free replacement.

The floats were sold online at Otteroo.com and Amazon.com and Zulily.com from January 2014 through July 2014 for about $35.

Consumers can contact Otteroo Corporation at (415) 236-5388 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online www.otteroo.com and click on “Safety” at the bottom of the page for more information.

According to their website, Otteroo is offering a free replacement for those who purchased the product manufactured in 2014 (NO: 002013001).

Sources: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/Recall-Alerts/2015/Otteroo-Corp-Recalls-Inflatable-Baby-Floats/

http://otteroo.com/pages/safety-info

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

Recall: Infant Bathtubs Due to Drowning and Impact Injury

1:30

This recall involves 86,000 Summer Infant Lil’ Luxuries Whirlpool, Bubbling Spa & Shower with fabric slings.

Fabric slings on the recalled infant bathtubs can detach from the tub, posing a risk of impact injury and drowning.

CPSC and Summer Infant have received reports of 91 incidents of the sling detaching, including 11 reports of infants who received a bump to the head.

The infant bathtub is a battery-operated whirlpool bath with motorized jets intended for use with children from birth to 2 years. The product contains a fabric sling on a plastic frame onto which the infant is placed for bathing. The fabric sling on the recalled bathtubs does not have a white plastic attachment clip to hold the headrest area of the fabric sling to the plastic frame.

Recalled bathtubs have item numbers 18840, 18850, 18863, and 18873 and were sold between October 2012 and October 2013 with date codes starting with 1210, 1211, 1212, 1301, 1302, 1303, 1304, 1305, 1306, 1307, and 1308, which stand for the two-digit year followed by the two-digit month, on the fabric sling.

Consumers should immediately stop using the fabric sling in the recalled product and contact Summer Infant for a replacement fabric sling with a white plastic attachment clip. Consumers can contact Summer Infant toll free at 844-612-4254 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET on Friday, or online at www.summerinfant.com and click on “Safety Alerts & Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

The recalled items were sold at Toys R Us/Babies R Us and other juvenile product specialty stores nationwide from October 2012 through October 2013 for about $60. CPSC and Summer Infant warn consumers that these tubs could have been and could continue to be sold on the secondhand market.

 

Your Baby

Homemade or Commercial Baby Food- Which is Best?

1:45

A new study from the U.K. looked at homemade baby food versus commercial baby food bought in grocery stores. They both come up winners in some categories and losers in others.

The researchers wanted to assess how well homemade and commercially available readymade meals designed for infants and young children met age specific national dietary recommendations.

Once thought to be the ideal baby food, homemade meals turned out to be higher in calories and fat and more time-consuming to prepare, but less expensive and higher in nutrients and variety. Commercial baby food came in more convenient, lower in calories, total fats and salt but was more expensive and lacked variety. Sugar content was about the same in both foods.

Each option had upsides and downsides. For example, home-cooked food had higher nutritional content, but 50% of homemade meals also exceed calorie recommendations, and 37% exceeded the recommendations for calories from fat, reported a research team led by Sharon Carstairs, a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Only 7% of the commercial baby food evaluated exceeded calorie recommendations, and less than 1% exceeded recommendations for calories from fat, Carstairs and colleagues reported in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Researchers compared the store-bought meals with 408 recipes for home-cooked infant meals obtained from best-selling published cookbooks. The investigators entered the recipe ingredients into dietary analysis software to calculate the nutritional composition of the recipes per 100 grams.

A chief limitation of the study was that it only analyzed the recipes for homemade meals and did not take into account how these meals might be prepared in "real life."

"Parents may use cookbooks prescriptively or only as guidance, and thus the nutritional content of home-cooked recipes can vary greatly, and this can be augmented further by natural variations in the nutritional composition of raw ingredients," Carstairs and colleagues noted.

In addition, "the authors may have overestimated the values for salt within home-cooked recipes as it was often cited as optional; these results should thus be considered with caution."

The study reassures parents that it is okay to give homemade food to babies being weaned from breast milk or formula, Lauri Wright, PhD, of the University of South Florida College of Public Health and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told MedPage Today.

"This is an important study, because in the United States parents think they have to do the commercial foods. Parents are afraid their child will miss out on nutrients if they don't give the specialized baby food."

The greater variety offered by homemade food may result in healthier taste preferences later in life, Wright added. "We used to think that taste preference developed at age 4 or 5, but we now know that taste preferences develop with the introduction of these first solid foods."

The bottom line from this study is that both types of baby food are acceptable; each comes with its own pros and cons. Just like with any other meal, how your homemade baby food is prepared is the key to whether it’s going to be healthy or not for baby. Understanding the guidelines for nourishing infant food and knowing the nutritional values of the foods you use, can help you prepare a wholesome meal for baby. Commercial baby foods also offer convenience and lower calories and fats. A mix of both will probably suit most families very well.

Story source: Medpage Today staff, http://www.medpagetoday.com/pediatrics/generalpediatrics/59228

 

 

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