Your Baby

Fussy Baby: Walking or Rocking Most Calming?

2.00 to read

When your baby cries should you pick him or her up and walk or find a good rocking chair and rock back and forth? A new study from Japan says that infants respond best when mom (or any caregiver) picks them up and walks around.

Researchers said that the babies’ rapidly beating hearts also slowed down, proving that they felt calmer.

"Infants become calm and relaxed when they are carried by their mother” said study researcher Dr. Kumi Kuroda, who investigates social behavior at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Saitama, Japan. Interestingly, the study also observed the same response in baby mice.

For the study, researchers monitored the responses of 12 healthy infants ages 1 month to 6 months. The scientists wanted to discover the most effective way for mothers to calm a crying baby over a 30-second period — simply holding the baby or carrying the infant while walking.

Results showed that infants carried by walking mothers were the most relaxed and soothed compared to babies whose mothers sat in a chair and held them. As a mother stood up with her cradled her baby and started to walk, scientists observed an automatic change in the baby’s behavior.  

These results held even after the researchers took into account other factors, such as the child's age and sex, and the mother's age and walking speed.

Kuroda said she was surprised by the strength of the calming effect. Researchers noted that the rhythm of walking might be more effective in soothing infants than any other rhythmic motion, including rocking.

Babies cry for a variety of reasons. If an infant is hungry or in pain, they’ll most likely start crying again when they are laid back down. But sometimes a baby just feels a little anxious or unsure about their environment and will relax when held close and comforted. Kuroda acknowledged carrying might not completely stop the crying, but it may prevent parents from becoming frustrated by a crying infant.

The findings may also have implications for the parenting technique of letting babies cry in order to help them learn how to “soothe themselves”.

"Our study suggests why some babies do not respond well to the 'cry-it-out' parenting method," Kuroda said.

Babies crying during separation and maternal carrying are both built-in mechanisms for infant survival. These behaviors have been hard-wired for millions of years. "Changing these reactions would be possible as infants are flexible, but it may take time," she said.

While the study looked at a baby’s response to its mother, Kudro said the calming effect was not specific to moms. Dads, grandparents and caregivers were able to provide the same calming effect by carrying the baby and walking

Many moms and dads instinctively know to pick up a baby that’s crying, hold them close, pace around while gently patting baby on the back. This study just points out that if your baby is really upset, walking about may have a faster calming effect than rocking or sitting in a chair.  Plus it adds more evidence that simply ignoring a baby while he or she cries isn’t going to teach them how to soothe themselves. We all need a hug and a gentle pat on the back when we’re upset. Babies need it maybe even a little more.

The study was published online in the journal Current Biology.

Source: Carl Nierenberg, http://www.today.com/moms/carry-study-finds-its-good-

Your Baby

Never Leave a Child Unattended in a Car Seat, Swing or Bouncer

2:00

Placing an infant in a car seat, swing or bouncer as a substitute for a crib can be a fatal decision. These objects work fine when used properly for their intended purpose, but when a child is left unattended – they can quickly turn deadly according to a new study.

Using these devices as directed and not as substitutes for a crib would reduce the risk of death, according to lead author Dr. Erich K. Batra of Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“The overarching advice goes back to a more basic message of safe sleep,” Batra told Reuters Health. “In an infant, a safe sleep environment includes the ABCs: they sleep alone, not in bed between parents, on their backs, and in a crib or bassinet without any loose bedding.”

The study reviewed young children’s death in devices like car seats, swings and bouncers and found that most were due to suffocation by improper positioning or strangulation in straps.

The researchers reviewed the reports of 47 deaths of children under two years old that happened in car seats, bouncers, swings, strollers or slings and were recorded by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2004 and 2008.

The study used only reports submitted by consumers or manufacturers, so the number of deaths may actually be higher.

Most of the deaths occurred in car seats (31 of 47). Five happened in slings, four each in swings and bouncers and three in strollers.

About half of deaths in car seats were due to strangulation by the straps, while the other half were caused by suffocation due to positioning, the authors reported in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Strap strangulation usually happens when the restraints are not fastened as directed, Batra said. Whenever a child is in a car seat, the harness should be secured.

“If people leave an older infant or young toddler in a car seat and undo the straps thinking that it makes them more comfortable, that’s a significant hazard,” he said.

“A child properly secured in a car seat is in very little risk of danger,” he said.

However, many times the child falls asleep in the car seat and a parent or caregiver decides to bring the car seat, with baby still attached, into the home.

Dr. Shital N. Parikh, an orthopedic surgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, has studied the risk factors for injury in these devices in infants up to age one. He also found car seats to be the most common setting.

“The commonest mechanism of injury was infants falling from car seats when not used in the car, used in the home,” Parikh told Reuters Health. Often parents would bring the car seat in the house while the infant still slept, undo the straps and place it on an elevated surface, he said.

Even four-month-old babies are mobile enough to wiggle out of the top straps and fall, or topple the whole seat from an elevated surface, he said.

“These are very simple things, very basic things,” Parikh said. “The basic idea is that you use (the devices) for their intended purpose only. For infants, you should not use it to make them sleep or carry them around if it’s not intended for that.”

Batra notes that baby in slings need to be “visible and kissable,” as a sling may put baby’s head in a hazardous position.

It only takes four to five minutes for an unattended baby to suffocate in one of these devices.

“That is one of the things we need to draw attention to,” Batra said. Sometimes a few minutes unattended is all it takes.

“If your infant is sleeping and you’re not observing them, then they need to be in a safe sleeping environment,” adhering to the ABCs, he said.

While it may seem safe to leave a baby in a car seat, swing, sling or bouncer for a few minutes unattended, go ahead and place the child in his or her crib. It may wake them up if they are sleeping, but it’s much safer than allowing them to continue to sleep in a device that was never intended for that purpose.

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/29/us-car-seat-infant-safety-idUSKBN0NK21E20150429

Your Baby

Kids of Obese Mothers at Higher Risk for Autism, ADHD

1:45

A new study points out another reason that obesity and pregnancy can be a bad combination not only for the mother but for her future child as well.

Researchers found that six-year-olds whose mothers were severely obese before pregnancy are more likely to have developmental or emotional problems than kids of healthy-weight mothers.

The lead author of the study, Heejoo Jo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and her team reviewed data on 1,311 mother-child pairs collected between 2005 and 2012, including the mothers’ body mass index (BMI, a height-to-weight ratio) before pregnancy and their reports of the children’s psychosocial difficulties at age six.

The researchers also incorporated the children’s developmental diagnoses and receipt of special needs services.

Kids of moms who were severely obese, with a BMI greater than 35, were twice as likely to have emotional symptoms, problems with peers and total psychosocial difficulties compared to kids of moms who had a healthy BMI, between 18.5 and 25.

Their children were three times as likely to have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and more than four time as likely to have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as reported in the journal Pediatrics.

Previous studies have shown a connection with autism and maternal diabetes and obesity.

Researchers took into account pregnancy weight gain, gestational diabetes, breastfeeding duration, postpartum depression and infant birth weight. None of these explained the apparent association.

“We already do know that obesity is related to health problems during pregnancy and throughout the lifetime,” Jo said. “I think this adds to that by suggesting that not only does severe obesity affect a woman’s health but the health of her future children.”

This study could not analyze the mechanism linking severe obesity and later risk for developmental problems, Jo noted.

“One theory that we could not look at and needs further research was some small studies have linked maternal obesity to increased inflammation, which might affect fetal brain development,” she told Reuters Health by phone.

While it sounds cliché because we’ve heard it so much; obesity in America has reached epidemic status. Almost 30 percent of Americans are obese and the prevalence of maternal obesity has risen rapidly in the last two decades.

In the USA, approximately 64% of women of reproductive age are overweight and 35% obese.

Women’s health specialists recommend that obese women considering pregnancy lose weight before they conceive to help reduce health risks for themselves as well as their child.

The Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for developmental delay or disability at nine, 18 and 24 or 30 months of age.

Health experts strongly suggest that women who were obese or severely obese when they became pregnant make sure that their children receive these developmental screenings.

Sources: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/28/us-obese-pregnancy-adhd-kids-idUSKBN0NJ2FC20150428

James R. O'Reilly, Rebecca M. Reynolds, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/776504

Your Baby

Danger! Lidocaine and Teething Babies

2.00 to read

If you’ve ever received a prescription for lidocaine, you might be tempted to try it on your teething baby to ease the pain. Lidocaine solution is sometimes used to reduce a child’s gag reflex during dental procedures and to treat mouth and throat ulcers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to parents about using a lidocaine solution as a pain reliever on babies’ gums, saying it can lead to death and serious injuries in infants and toddlers.

"When too much viscous lidocaine is given to infants and young children or they accidentally swallow too much, it can result in seizures, severe brain injury, and problems with the heart," the statement said.

Overdoses or accidental swallowing have led to infants and children being hospitalized or dying, the FDA said.

While the number is not high, some parents or caregivers have tried it as a gum pain reliever during teething. There have been 22 reports this year of serious complications, including deaths, in children ages 5 months to 3 to 5 years who were given lidocaine or accidently swallowed it.

The agency will require a boxed warning on the label for prescription oral viscous lidocaine 2 percent solution to highlight that it should not be used for teething pain, the FDA said in a statement.

Instead of lidocaine, the FDA urges parents to follow the American Academy of Pediatricians' (AAP) recommendations for treating teething pain. They call for using a teething ring, or gently massaging the child's gums with your finger.

Other products containing benzocaine are sometimes used for oral pain relief. The FDA recommends against using these products for children under 2 years of age except under a physician’s supervision. Like viscous lidocaine, benzocaine is a local anesthetic.

The AAP offers these tips for helping your child through the discomfort of teething.

  • Give her firm objects to chew on—teething rings or hard, unsweetened teething crackers. Frozen teething toys should not be used; extreme cold can injure your baby’s mouth and cause more discomfort.
  • If your baby is clearly uncomfortable, talk to your pediatrician about a possible course of action. Your pediatrician may suggest that you give a small dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

The first thing a parent wants to do when they see their baby in pain is to find a way to relieve the discomfort. Teething is one of those times that can be trying for everyone involved. Babies can start teething as early as 3 months.

Pain relievers that are used on a baby’s gums aren’t typically very helpful; a teething baby drools so much that the medication is quickly washed away. In addition, pediatricians warn that such medications can numb the back of the throat and interfere with your baby’s ability to swallow.

Rubbing your baby’s gums or providing a safe teething ring can help ease your infant’s pain until those pesky teeth break through and the gums heal.

Sources: Ian Simpson, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/26/us-usa-fda-teething-idUSKBN0F129120140626

http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/teething-tooth-care/Pages/Teething-Pain.aspx

Your Baby

Delayed Cord Clamping May Improve Infant’s Health

2:00

According to a new study, delaying umbilical cord cutting by 2 minutes after birth may result in better development in a newborn’s first days of life.

When to cut the umbilical cord has been debated and changed over a long period of time. Before studies began in the mid-1950s, cord clamping within 1 minute of birth was defined as "early clamping," and "late clamping" was defined as more than 5 minutes after birth. And the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have stated, "the ideal timing for umbilical cord clamping has yet to be established."

To provide further evidence in the debate of early versus late cord clamping, researchers led by Professor Julio José Ochoa Herrera of the University of Granada, assessed newborn outcomes for infants born to 64 healthy pregnant women to determine the impact of clamping timing on oxidative stress and the inflammatory signal produced during delivery.

All of these women had a normal pregnancy and spontaneous vaginal delivery. However, half of the women's newborns had their umbilical cord cut 10 seconds after delivery and half had it cut after 2 minutes.

Results showed that with late cord clamping there was an increase in antioxidant volume and moderation of inflammatory effects in newborns.

Other studies have shown that delaying clamping allows more time for blood to move from the placenta through the cord, improving iron and hemoglobin levels in newborns.

If delaying cord clamping is beneficial for newborns, then why do many doctors perform a quick cut? Apparently there are several reasons.

According to ACOG, a previous series of studies into blood volume changes after birth concluded that in healthy term infants, more than 90% of blood volume was attained within the first few breaths he or she took after birth.

As a result of these findings, as well as a lack of other recommendations regarding optimal timing, the amount of time between birth and umbilical cord clamping was widely shortened; in most cases, cord clamping occurs within 15-20 seconds after birth.

The World Health Organization (WHO) believes waiting longer is better. WHO supports late cord clamping (1-3 minutes) because it "allows blood flow between the placenta and neonate to continue, which may improve iron status in the infant for up to 6 months after birth."

ACOG states on their website that “Concerns exist regarding universally adopting delayed umbilical cord clamping. Delay in umbilical cord clamping may jeopardize timely resuscitation efforts, if needed, especially in preterm infants. However, because the placenta continues to perform gas exchange after delivery, sick and preterm infants are likely to benefit most from additional blood volume derived from a delay in umbilical cord clamping.”

WHO states clearly that that early cord clamping - less than 1 minute after birth - is not advised unless the newborn is asphyxiated and needs to be moved for resuscitation.

Simply holding a wet, crying and wiggling baby for 2 minutes may also prove difficult for physicians whose hands are gloved. The better option may be to place the baby on the mother’s stomach, wait the 2 minutes and then cut the cord.

More and more studies are finding that in certain circumstances, waiting a couple of minutes longer to cut the umbilical cord may be best for baby.

According to this study, there’s really no reason why newborns from a normal pregnancy and vaginal delivery should not be allowed at least 2 minutes before the cord is clamped after birth.

Mothers and fathers-to-be should discuss cord cutting timing with their doctor before the baby is born. If your preference is to allow more time before cutting the cord when your baby arrives, let your physician know ahead of time.  He or she can then advise you on when early clamping may be necessary and when it can wait a couple of extra minutes.

Scientists from the University of Granada and the San Cecilio Clinical Hospital in Spain conducted the research. The results were published in the journal Pediatrics. Source: Marie Ellis, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287041.php

http://www.acog.org

Your Baby

Half of U.S. Parents Using Unsafe Bedding for Infants

2:00

Parents are getting better about using loose bedding and leaving soft objects in their baby’s bed, but about half of U.S. infants are still sleeping with potentially hazardous bedding according to a new study.

Blankets, quilts and pillows can obstruct an infant’s airway and pose a suffocation risk according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  This type of bedding is a recognized risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The researchers investigated bedding use from 1993 to 2010 from the National Infant Sleep Position study.

They found that from 1993 to 2010, bedding use declined, but remained a common practice. The rate of bedding use averaged nearly 86 percent in 1993-1995, and declined to 55 percent in 2008-2010. Prevalence was highest for infants of teen mothers (83.5 percent) and lowest for infants born at term (55.6 percent). Researchers also found that bedding use was highest among infants who were sleeping in adult beds, placed to sleep on their sides, or shared a sleep surface.

AAP recommends that the best place for a baby to sleep is in the same room as his or her parents and always in a crib, not in the same bed. The crib should be free from toys, soft bedding, blankets, and pillows.

Other safe sleep practices are:

•       Place your baby on a firm mattress, covered by a fitted sheet that meets current safety standards. For more about crib safety standards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site at http://www.cpsc.gov.

•       Place the crib in an area that is always smoke-free.

•       Don’t place babies to sleep on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, pillows, or cushions.

•       Toys and other soft bedding, including fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and wedges should not be placed in the crib with the baby. Loose bedding, such as sheets and blankets, should not be used as these items can impair the infant’s ability to breathe if they are close to his face. Sleep clothing, such as sleepers, sleep sacks, and wearable blankets are better alternatives to blankets.

•       Place babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. Side sleeping is not as safe as back sleeping and is not advised. Babies sleep comfortably on their backs, and no special equipment or extra money is needed.

•       “Tummy time” is playtime when infants are awake and placed on their tummies while someone is watching them. Have tummy time to allow babies to develop normally.

•       Remove mobiles when your baby is able to sit up.

Study authors conclude that while the numbers have improved significantly, infants are still being put to bed in an unsafe sleeping environment; about half still sleep with blankets, quilts, pillows, and other hazardous items.

It’s not unusual that many parents may not be aware of the dangers of blankets, pillows and quilts in a baby’s bed. Lots of people were raised with all these items in the bed, but that was also before scientists began to understand SIDS better and the possible causes. True, many babies did fine before these alerts and safety suggestions became more popular but a lot of children also died – we just didn’t know why.  Parents today are able to access better infant safety information than their own parents.

The study, “Trends in Infant Bedding Use: National Infant Sleep Position Study 1993-2010” was published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Source: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/News/Pages/Study-Shows-One-Half-of-US-Infants-Sleep-in-Potentially-Hazardous-Bedding.aspx

Your Baby

Social Networks Influence Kid’s Vaccinations

2.00 to read

A new study looks at what influences parents to either have or not have their infants vaccinated. Researchers reported that parents make decisions about whether to vaccinate fully, vaccinate over a period of time or not vaccinate their children at all largely based on social networks.

Emily K. Brunson, PhD, MPH, from Texas State University in San Marcos, presented the results of her survey in an article in the online journal Pediatrics. Dr. Brunson surveyed United States–born, first-time parents who had children aged 18 months or younger and resided in King County, Washington. A total of 126 participants conformed to vaccination recommendations and 70 did not. The 70 other parents forged their own paths: 28 delayed vaccines, 37 partially vaccinated and five didn’t vaccinate at all.

The two groups were described as “conformers” and “non-conformers”. 95% of both groups said they get their advice from people that they go to for information. The non-conformers were also significantly more inclined to use “source networks” (sources people go to for information and advice such as books, pamphlets, research articles and the Internet).

The current study connects immunization decision-making with the pressure to conform to group opinion. It also looks at whether parents are more likely to choose a social group that reflects their own beliefs and actions, or let the social group dictate their beliefs and actions. Dr. Brunson's data suggest that the social groups dictate the decisions.

Parents who did not conform to the recommended Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) schedule had a higher percentage of people in their social networks that recommended not conforming to the vaccine schedule.

Conformers were more likely to get their information from family, friends and healthcare providers.

“Parents’ people networks matter a ton,” says Brunson, now an assistant professor of anthropology at Texas State University. “Having those conversations with your sister, with your parent, with your friends matter a lot more than we thought.”

On an average, 59% of non-conformers reported that their sources – many of which persist in promoting a widely debunked association between vaccines and autism- recommend ignoring the CDC’s guidelines for vaccinations as compared to only 20% of conformer’s sources.

The actual number of “zero dosers” has stayed at less than 2%, but the numbers of parents who don’t trust that vaccines will actually do what they are told they will do is growing. This frustrates many pediatricians who have seen first hand or know about the deadly consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases. Some parents are deciding for themselves which vaccines they feel are necessary and then developing their own vaccine schedule by spacing out shots over a series of years, which experts argue only extends the time their kids are susceptible to disease or capable of passing it on to others.

Vaccines have been widely studied and current research has shown that multiple vaccinations do not pose a hazard to young children. Some of the older vaccines exposed toddlers to more antigens than newly formulated vaccines do.

Scientists noted that public-health officials should consider the importance of social networks when getting out the message that childhood immunizations are important for children’s health. It may be time, they say, to extend their reach beyond doctors and start paying attention to other people who influence parents’ vaccination decisions, namely friends and family whom moms and dads list as part of their “social network.” “If we want to improve vaccination rates, communication needs to be directed to the public at large,” says Brunson.

Preliminary data on Immunity Community’s effectiveness look promising: last year, one Montessori-preschool pilot site raised its immunization rate from 60% to 80%. The CDC is keeping tabs on the results and could bring it to other states as a potential national model, albeit one rooted at the local level. “For people to be passionate and credible and persuasive about this, they have to be local community members,” says Kris Sheedy of the CDC’s immunization-services division. “We know that birds of a feather flock together, so it’s a good thing to make vaccinating parents more visible.”

As the battle rages on about the safety and necessity of infant vaccines, too many children are not receiving the recommended doses. Doctors and public health officials are going to have to be more clear and aggressive in getting information to the general public on the facts surrounding immunizations.

Sources: Bonnie Rochman, http://healthland.time.com/2013/04/15/how-social-networks-influence-a-parents-decision-to-vaccinate/#ixzz2QZyv47qZ

Larry C. Pullen, PhD., http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/782558

Your Baby

From Breast to Bottle; An Adventure

2:00 to read

Ah yes, I remember breastfeeding my baby.

As a young and somewhat naïve mother, it was like stepping onto foreign soil. A place I’d never visited before.

For me, the most unexpected part of this ancient ritual was how painful it was at first.  I’d heard about the bonding it would bring, the day and night hours required and how if I ate certain foods before feeding, my baby could end up with a bad bout of gas.

However, no one mentioned that it was going to hurt like crazy until my nipples “toughened up,” (as my doctor was fond of saying) or how my breasts would become milk waterfalls cascading through my blouse while grocery shopping. Eventually, I got the hang of it and it began to feel like a natural extension of being a mom.

When it came time to transition to bottle-feeding, I actually felt a little sad about letting go of what had become a special time with my baby girl. Her fuzzy little head resting against my breast and her curious eyes watching my every expression as she ate.  We had a lot of one-sided conversations with me telling her about my day and her sucking, burping and falling asleep.

Alas though, one cannot breastfeed forever. So I began again with learning how to keep my baby well nourished while trying to figure out how much formula to give her and how to warm a bottle without scalding us both.

I breastfed for about 5 months – give or take a few weeks. Making the changeover left me feeling a little guilty. My little one seemed to really dislike the replacement bottle, so we did it in stages. I also added breast milk to the bottle at first so she would recognize the taste. It was not a smooth transition.

We ultimately came to an agreement that she would drink from the bottle if I would rock her and sing to her and make funny faces. Another caveat was we’d have to do it in short spurts of time – she would refuse-then accept, refuse-accept. I think it was so that she could feel like she had a little control over the whole unsettling situation. Agreed.

Shortly after we started working on the bottle arrangement, my pediatrician suggested that adding small amounts of solid foods to her diet might also be helpful in weaning her off the breasts.

My first response to this perfectly sane idea was... “What real foods? Biscuits and gravy? Scrambled eggs and toast? Shouldn’t I put these foods in a blender or something? I don’t think she can eat them straight-up.”

“Uh, no” she responded calmly. “Let’s start with a small amount of baby cereal.”

And so, a new tradition began. Here’s how it went.

Make a little baby cereal. Put it on a tiny little spoon and attempt to delicately get it in her tightly shut mouth.

Taste the baby cereal (to make sure it is not too hot, not too cold.)

Stir cereal and try again to get the itty-bitty spoon into her itty-bitty securely shut mouth.

Lead by example.

“Watch mommy. This is really good cereal. Mmmm – I think this is the best cereal I’ve ever eaten.” Actually it’s not bad.

Stick finger in cereal and rub on baby’s squeezed tight-as-a drum, never to be opened mouth.

Switch to a much larger spoon and start scooping.

“You’re missing out on some amazing cereal, sweetie. Yum, yum, yum.”

Repeat as necessary.

“Oh look… it’s all gone. Good job!”

It took awhile to finally make the switch from breast to bottle. It was quite an experience for both of us. Two important goals were eventually accomplished; my sweet baby survived and flourished and my breasts’ finally quit hurting.

If you’re breastfeeding, someday you’ll introduce a bottle, sippy-cup or spoon to your child. Expect a battle, it’s ok. Keep a grip on patience and humor. You’ll need them both.

Warm compresses can ease the discomfort of sore breasts and gradually nursing or pumping less will signal your body to stop producing copious amounts of milk.

I’d recommend keeping a small towel in your purse (speaking from experience.) You might also want to stash an extra shirt in the car – and a bra -just sayin.

And you know what? You can ask for help. Have daddy or grandparents, other family members or good friends hold the bottle and make funny faces. Sometimes it actually helps to have someone without your familiar breasts, smell and voice take part in introducing the bottle to your baby.

Every mother who has breastfed has her own stories to tell when it came time to wean her infant. You’ll have yours and most likely you’ll smile and say softly – Ah yes, I remember breastfeeding (and baby cereal). 

Your Baby

Should Women Eat Fish While Pregnant?

2.00 to read

Fish are high in several beneficial nutrients, including some that are related to healthy brain development. But several organizations, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recommend that women who are pregnant limit the amount of fish they eat.

The reason is that most fish and shellfish contain low-levels of methylmercury.

Almost all people have at least trace amounts of methylmercury in their tissues, reflecting the organic compound’s widespread presence in the environment. Fetuses, infants and children are the most vulnerable to the possible adverse effects of mercury exposure.

One of the major concerns of the medical community and mothers-to-be is the possibility of a link between eating fish that contains mercury, and their child developing autism.  

A new study addresses that concern and says that children exposed to low levels of mercury in the womb because their mothers ate large amounts of fish, don’t appear to be at an increased risk for autism.

The new findings from more than 30 years of research in the Republic of Seychelles -- a group of islands in the western Indian Ocean -- found no such link, the study authors said.

"This study shows no evidence of a correlation between low level mercury exposure and autism spectrum-like behaviors among children whose mothers ate, on average, up to 12 meals of fish each week during pregnancy," study lead author Edwin van Wijngaarden, associate professor in the public health sciences department at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, said in a medical center news release.

"These findings contribute to the growing body of literature that suggest that exposure to the chemical does not play an important role in the onset of these behaviors," he added.

One autism expert added a note of caution, however.

"The study found no link between high mercury levels and later autism spectrum disorder behaviors. However, this should not be taken to mean that high levels of mercury are safe to ingest," said Alycia Hallday, senior director of environmental and clinical science at the advocacy group Autism Speaks.

"Other studies comparing this [Seychelles] cohort to those in other parts of the world indicate that this cohort may be spared from many adverse effects because it is consumed with nutrient-rich ocean fish," she explained.

For the study, the researchers initially determined the level of prenatal mercury exposure by analyzing the mothers' hair samples. Then the researchers used two questionnaires -- one given to parents, the other to the children's teachers -- to see if the children showed signs of autism spectrum-like behaviors. The tests included questions on language skills, communication skills and repetitive behaviors. While the tests don't give a definitive diagnosis, they are used widely in the United States as an initial screening tool and may indicate the need for additional testing, the researchers said.

The study also noted the concerns of and limitations recommended by the FDA and other organizations.

"This study shows no consistent association in children with mothers with mercury levels that were six to 10 times higher than those found in the U.S. and Europe. This is a sentinel population and if (the association between low-level mercury exposure and autism) does not exist here than it probably does not exist," Philip Davidson, principal investigator of the Seychelles Child Development Study and professor emeritus in pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in the news release.

The finding lends support to an emerging belief that the good may outweigh the possible bad when it comes to eating fish during pregnancy. Specifically, if the mercury did not harm brain development at the levels of exposure experienced by the children in this study, then the benefits of the nutrients in fish may counteract or surpass the potential negative effects of mercury, the study authors said.

So, which fish have “low” or “high” mercury content? The American Pregnancy Association provides this list on their website.

Highest Mercury

AVOID

  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Tilefish
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Mackerel (king)
  • Tuna (bigeye, Ahi)

High Mercury

Eat no more than three 6-oz servings per month

  • Sea Bass (Chilean)
  • Bluefish
  • Grouper
  • Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf)
  • Tuna (canned, white albacore) See tuna chart below
  • Tuna (Yellow fin)

Lower Mercury

Eat no more than six 6-oz servings per month

  • Bass (Striped, Black)
  • Carp
  • Cod (Alaskan)
  • Croaker (White Pacific)
  • Halibut ( Pacific and Atlantic) Jacksmelt ( Silverside)
  • Lobster
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Monkfish
  • Perch (freshwater)
  • Sablefish
  • Skate
  • Snapper
  • Sea Trout (Weakfish)
  • Tuna (canned, chunk light)
  • Tuna (Skipjack)

Lowest Mercury

Enjoy two 6-oz servings per week

  • Anchovies
  • Butterfish
  • Catfish
  • Clam
  • Crab (Domestic)
  • Crawfish/crayfish
  • Croaker
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Hake
  • Herring
  • Mackerel (N Atlantic, Chub)
  • Mullet
  • Oysters
  • Perch (ocean)
  • Plaice
  • Salmon (Canned, Fresh)
  • Sardines
  • Scallops
  • Shad (American)
  • Shrimp
  • Sole
  • Squid (Calamari)
  • Tilapia
  • Trout (freshwater)
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting

The study was published online July 23 in the journal Epidemiology

Sources: http://consumer.healthday.com/pregnancy-information-29/pregnancy-news-543/breaking-brief-7-23-mercury-autism-epidemiology-urmc-release-678533.html

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/fishmercury.htm

http://www.epa.gov/hg/effects.htm

Pages

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Why you should never use a kitchen spoon to measure medicine.