Your Baby

New Guidelines for Newborn Genetic Screenings

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Certain medical conditions can be present at birth but not easily identifiable. Metabolic or inherited disorders can impede a child’s normal physical and or mental development in lots of different ways. Without even knowing that they are carriers, parents can pass on the genes that produce these types of disorders. That’s where genetic screening of newborns comes in. With a simple blood test doctors can tell if the newborn has a condition that may eventually cause the child problems. Some of these disorders, if treated early, can be managed.

The federal government has not set any national standards, but many states have mandatory newborn screening programs. Parents can opt out of genetic testing if they want. Parents should discuss genetic screening with their pediatrician or child’s doctor so they can weigh the pros and cons.

Many states screen for more than 30 disorders and the screenings are often covered in the delivery and hospital charges. If a parent wants expanded testing on their newborn, they may have to pay an extra cost but it may be worth it to their baby.

To help guide states and parents determine what criteria should be used for genetic screening, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics just offered new guidelines.

The new guidelines say that all newborns should be tested for the genetic diseases that are included in their state's newborn screening panel, but anything beyond that is up to parents and the decision must be made in the child's best interest.

The recommendations distinguish between genetic testing for childhood onset conditions versus those for adult onset conditions.

"There is an important role for counseling before and after genetic screening," added policy author Dr. Lainie Friedman Ross, a pediatrician and ethicist at the University of Chicago. "The focus should be on education of families, counseling them and helping them make decisions that focus on the child's best interest."

Testing for disease in the presence of symptoms is another area addressed by the new recommendations. "Clearly, if a child has symptoms, we need a diagnosis to help the family make clinical decisions that are in the child's best interest. This is important even when the disease has no current therapies," Friedman Ross added.

She also said that the results should be explained to the child when they reach the appropriate age.

New technology offers direct-to-consumer genetic screening tests, but the authors caution parents about using these products because of a lack of oversight and results are open to interpretation.

Some experts agree that being forewarned is being forearmed, but are not fans of the direst-to-consumer genetic tests.

"We highly discourage these even on adults, and particularly on children, because there is nobody there to provide counseling and interpretation," says Dr. Joyce Fox, a medical genetics doctor at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. “These can also be very costly, and are likely not covered by insurance." Fox says.

Parents should educate themselves about genetic screening before the baby is born.  Most babies are born healthy and glide right through the genetic screening. But there are cases when the genetic testing panel reveals serious conditions such as PKU or Sickle Cell Anemia. 

If a baby’s screening results are negative, it means the tests did not show any signs of the conditions in the screening. On the other hand, if there are any positive results, it means there are signs of one or more of the conditions included in the screening,

A positive result does not always mean that the baby has the condition. It does mean though, that further testing is needed to make a final determination.

Early treatment for some of the conditions screened for can prevent serious future complications; so don’t delay if more tests are needed.

Pediatricians and geneticists say they approve of the new guidelines. The guidelines were published online in the journal Pediatrics.



Sources: Denise Mann,

Your Baby

Babies Shouldn’t Be Given OTC Cold Medicines


When a baby is sick with a cold, the first reaction for many parents is to want to give their infant something to make him or her feel better. It’s a natural response; no parent likes to see their little one feeling bad. But turning to the medicine cabinet or making a trip to the pharmacy isn’t going to help your baby get better any quicker and could be dangerous says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine should not be given to children younger than 2 because they could cause serious and potentially deadly side effects, the agency warned.

Children often get more colds than adults, and parents might want to give them pain relievers, decongestants and other medicines, but that would be a mistake. The FDA says the best medicine is simple rest and care.

"A cold is self-limited, and patients will get better on their own in a week or two without any need for medications. For older children, some OTC medicines can help relieve the symptoms -- but won't change the natural course of the cold or make it go away faster," Dr. Amy Taylor, a medical officer in FDA's Division of Pediatric and Maternal Health, said in the news release.

A virus is what typically brings on a cold, but people often ask their physician or pediatrician (for their children) for antibiotics to treat them. Antibiotics are only useful for treating bacterial infections.

Colds are usually accompanied by coughing which can actually be useful to the body.

"Coughs help the body clear the mucus out of the airway and protect the lungs; so you don't want to suppress all coughs," Taylor said.

"Coughs help the body clear the mucus out of the airway and protect the lungs; so you don't want to suppress all coughs," she said.

Fever helps the body fight off an infection and does not always need to be treated. But if your child is uncomfortable because of fever or other symptoms of a cold, there are alternatives to cough and cold medicine to help them feel more comfortable. Taylor says they include the following actions:

·      Using a clean cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier in a small area near the child’s bed may help moisten the air and decrease the drying of the nasal passages and throat.

·      For infants with a stuffy nose, use saline or salt water drops/spray to moisten the nasal passages and loosen the mucus. Then clean the nose with a bulb syringe.

Non-drug treatments to ease coughs in children with colds include giving them plenty of fluids, especially warm drinks to soothe the throat.

While most children with colds do not need to see a doctor, Taylor said parents should call the doctor if they see any of these symptoms:

·      A fever in an infant aged 2 months or younger, or a fever of 102 Fahrenheit or higher at any age.

·       Signs of breathing problems, including nostrils widening with each breath, wheezing, fast breathing or the ribs showing with each breath.

·      Blue lips, ear pain, not eating or drinking, signs of dehydration.

·      Excessive crankiness or sleepiness, a cough that lasts for more than three weeks, or worsening condition.

·      A persistent cough may signal a more serious condition such as bronchitis or asthma.

"You have to know your child," Taylor said. "With small infants, fever is a major concern, and you need medical advice. If you are worried about your child's symptoms, at any age, call your pediatrician for advice."

The FDA voluntarily removed cough and cold products for children under two years old from the market because of on-going safety concerns discussed in 2007.  These safety concerns revealed that there were many reports of harm, and even death, to children who used these products.  These reports of harm occurred when the child received too medication such as in cases as accidental ingestion, unintentional overdose, or after a medication dosing error.  In those reports of harm that lead to a child’s death, most of those children were under two years of age.  

Since infant formulations of cough and cold products were voluntarily removed from the market years ago, parents who currently give these products to their infants (less than 2 years of age) may be using cough and cold products designed for older children and modifying the doses, for instance by giving half the recommended amount to the infant than what is recommended for an older child.  This can be especially dangerous as dosing adjustments cannot safely be made this way and could add to the existing risk of giving these products to young children.

Colds can be tough on children and adults and this is certainly the time of year when we all are more susceptible to getting one. Fluids and plenty of rest, plus sanitizing the area around the sick person and not sharing objects like silverware and drinking cups is the best treatment for colds. And of course the most important cold remedy for baby is mommy and daddy’s love and tender touch. 

Source: Robert Preidt,

Your Baby

Lower IQ Scores Linked to Prenatal Pollution

For the first time, researchers have linked air pollution exposure before birth with lower IQ scores in childhood, bolstering evidence that smog may harm the developing brain. The results are from a study of 249 children of New York City women who wore backpack air monitors for 48 hours during the last few months of pregnancy. They lived in mostly low-income neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. They had varying levels of exposure to typical kinds of urban air pollution, mostly from car, bus and truck exhaust. The study appears in the August 2009 issue of Pediatrics.

At age five, before starting school, the children were given IQ tests. Those exposed to the most pollution before birth scored on average four to five points lower than children with less exposure. The study’s lead author, Frederica Perera, director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health says it is a big enough difference that it could affect children’s performance in school. However, Dr. Michael Msall, a University of Chicago pediatrician not involved in the research, said the study doesn't mean that children living in congested cities "aren't going to learn to read and write and spell." It does suggest that you don't have to live right next door to a belching factory to face pollution health risks, and that there may be more dangers from typical urban air pollution than previously thought, he said. "We are learning more and more about low-dose exposure and how things we take for granted may not be a free ride," he said. While future research is needed to confirm the new results, the findings suggest exposure to air pollution before birth could have the same harmful effects on the developing brain as exposure to lead, said Patrick Breysse, an environmental health specialist at Johns Hopkins' school of public health. And along with other environmental harms and disadvantages low-income children are exposed to, it could help explain why they often do worse academically than children from wealthier families, Breysse said. "It's a profound observation," he said. "This paper is going to open a lot of eyes." The researchers said they plan to continuing monitoring and testing the children to learn whether school performance is affected and if there are any additional long-term effects.

Your Baby

Alert! Children's Cold And Allergy Medicine Recalled

Popular over-the-counter medicine recall including Children's Tylenol and Children's MotrinParents take note: a voluntary recall has been issued for more than 40 over-the-counter medicines for children.  The drugs include Tylenol and Motrin.  Reason for the recall?  They may not meet quality standards.

McNeil Consumer Healthcare issued a statement saying “this recall is not being undertaken on the basis of adverse medical events, however, as a precautionary measure, parents and caregivers should not administer these products to their children.” The brand affected by the recall include: Tylenol Infants’ Drops, Children’s Tylenol Suspensions, Children’s Tylenol Plus Suspensions Motrin Infant Drops, Children's Motrin Suspensions, Children's Zyrtec Liquids in bottles and Children's Benadryl Allergy Liquids in bottles. For more information you can go to McNeil's product recall website.

Your Baby

Diapers and Baby’s Walking Ability

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Just about all western babies wear diapers. I’m pretty sure we all know that, but what you may not know is that the bigger the diaper the more difficult it may be for baby to walk.

Scientists compared the gait of 60 babies who wore either a thin diaper, a thicker cloth diaper or no diaper at all. Half of the babies were 19 month-old more experienced walkers, and half were 13 month-old beginners.

When the 13 month-olds walked naked only 10 fell, but when they wore cloth diapers – 21 fell. When the babies wore the thinner disposable diapers, 17 fell.

The more experienced walkers, the 19 month-olds, were able to maneuver better. Among the babies who went naked or wore the thinner disposable diapers only four fell. Once they switched to the fuller cloth diapers, 8 fell. Both of the age groups took wider and shorter steps when wearing diapers as opposed to walking naked.

The study cannot predict if wearing diapers has any long-term impact, but it does suggests that giving baby a break from diaper wearing might speed up walking development.

Of course, that leaves a rather big problem… what to do about the mess that your baby makes when left to wander the house au naturel. By the way, fresh air on the hiney is also good to cut back on diaper rash, so if you’re inclined to give it a try – you might wait till after your baby has a bowel movement or has urinated and then let him or her walk a bit without a diaper.

I remember when my child was between one and two years old and learning to walk – it was an exercise in futility trying to keep clothes on her because she loved toddling around naked. She rarely had diaper rash and learned to walk pretty quickly. Of course, diapers are necessary and she wore her fair share, but when we had some time to relax and hang out together – off the diapers came. While I kept a close eye on her in case an “accident” should occur (actually there were only a few), she smiled, giggled and toddled around butt-naked while exploring her home.

The research was published in the journal of Developmental Science in September of 2012.

Source: Christie Nicholson,

Your Baby

Spit-Cleaning Your Infant’s Binky

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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,

Your Baby

Talking With Baby May Help Prevent ADHD

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A new study from Scotland suggests that the more you talk to and interact with your baby, the less likely it is that your child will develop ADHD later in life.

Researchers believe they have discovered a link between a lack of communication between a mother and her baby and a risk that the child will develop emotional problems and behavioral disorders as the child matures.

Scientists analyzed hundreds of videos of mothers interacting with their year-old babies.  Study co-author Dr Clare Allely, a psychologist at Glasgow University's Institute Of Health And Wellbeing, said: "We used 180 videos for this study of mothers interacting with their 12-month-old infants – of which 120 were controls and 60 were of the children who were later diagnosed with disorders at seven years old."

They found that for every decrease of five vocalizations per minute by the mother the odds of the child developing ADHD by the age of seven increased by 44%. Vocalizations included everything from simple sounds to words.

Researchers said the findings did not mean that if you don’t talk to your baby all the time that he or she will develop psychological and psychiatric problems. Instead they suggest that active parenting may offer a protective effect against these kinds of conditions.

Philip Wilson, study co-author and professor of primary care and rural health at the University of Aberdeen, said there are several theories on why the link may exist. "We have got the possibility that active parenting and active communication by the parents may have a protective effect against the development of problems with attention and conduct," he said.

"The other main hypothesis is to do with genetics. We know people who themselves have ADHD or conduct problems tend to be more under-active and communicate less later on in life. So the second possible explanation is that it may be the mothers themselves have ADHD and have become underactive and passed on the genetic vulnerability to the children."

Wilson also gave his own personal hypothesis. "My hunch is that it is somewhere in between the two and it has probably got both things. The child probably has to have some genetic vulnerability to these conditions on the one hand – but on the other hand more engaged and active parenting might be protective."

Wilson says he believes the study is the first to compare early parental communication and the development of disorders using examples from the general public.

The study is being published in the journal Research In Developmental Disabilities.

While the researchers in this study suggests that there may be a link between how much a parents communicates with their baby and ADHD or psychological / psychiatric problems, parents shouldn’t feel guilty or worry if they have a busy day and can’t communicate as much as they want.

Experts in child development do agree that the more positive and loving interaction parents, and caregivers, can give to the baby, the better. A baby’s mind is developing at a remarkable rate during the first 3 years of life; enjoy your time with your little one and talk to him or her as much as you realistically can throughout the day.


Your Baby

Carter’s Recalls Infant Clothing

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One of the leading brands of baby clothes, gifts and accessories has issued a recall for one of its popular products. Carter’s is voluntarily recalling approximately 218,000 Sleep N’ Play one-piece zippered footed garments because the zipper-pull on certain styles of the garments could detach from the slider, which could pose a choking hazard to young children.

This recall involves eight styles of one-piece, footed cotton clothing for infants made by Carter’s. They have a zipper from the foot to the neck and were sold in sizes newborn, 3, 6 and 9 months. Baby B’gosh®, Child of Mine® made by Carter’s or Just One You® made by Carter’s is printed on the fabric inside the neck area. The style number is printed on a side seam label.


Style Number


Baby B’gosh


Yellow with white quarter moons and gray and white stars print.





Child of Mine


Baseball-style, white with blue stripes, yellow accents and  “Little Brother” printed on the chest.




Just One You


White background with navy stripes and green neck binding. Sold as a 2-pack with:





Light blue with a nautical and green crabs print and “Captain Cutie”on the left chest.




White with a pink cupcake print. Sold as 2-pack with:




Pink with small polka dots and a bunny ballerinaon the left chest.




White with green stripes and an elephant and duck on the left chest.

Sold as 2-pack with:




White with a gray elephant, gray bear, green frog and yellow duck print.


No incidents have been reported.

The clothing was sold at OshKosh B’gosh, Walmart and Target nationwide from December 2012 through January 2013 for between $7 and $20.  Baby B’gosh sleepwear was also sold online at  

Consumers should immediately take the recalled clothing away from infants and return it to Carter’s for a full refund.



Your Baby

More Moms Breastfeeding 6 Months and Longer

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More moms are breastfeeding for at least six months and many are breastfeeding up to a year according to a new report issued by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

Almost half of U.S. moms in 2010 breastfed their babies for six months, up from 35 percent in 2000, a U.S. health official said.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said the percent of babies breastfeeding at 12 months also increased from 16 percent to 27 percent during that same time period. The data also showed babies who started breastfeeding increased from 71 percent in 2000 to 77 percent in 2010.

"This is great news for the health of our nation because babies who are breastfed have lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections, diabetes and obesity, while mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers," Frieden said in a statement.

"Also, breastfeeding lowers healthcare costs. Researchers have calculated that $2.2 billion in yearly medical costs could be saved if breastfeeding recommendations were met. It is critical that we continue working to improve hospital, community and workplace support for breastfeeding mothers and babies and realize these cost savings."

More hospitals are also making it possible for newborns and their mothers to spend more time together. Newborns that stay in the room with their mother at least 23 hours per day increased from about 30 percent in 2007 to 37 percent in 2011.

Breastfeeding rates have been on the rise, increasing from about 71 percent to 77 percent during the last decade. Breast milk is easier for babies to digest and helps protect against disease.  Breast-fed babies have lower rates of respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 diabetes, childhood leukemia and a type of skin rash known as atopic dermatitis. Decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has also been observed. Recent studies have also shown that babies who are breast-fed may possibly receive a boost in intelligence.

How long moms tend to breastfeed differs across the nation. 

Idaho was the state with the most breast-feeding moms, with about 91.8 percent of new mothers breast-feeding at some point. California, Oregon, Colorado and New Hampshire rounded out the top five.

At the six-month marker, the top states for breast-feeding mothers were Idaho, California, Oregon, Hawaii and Utah. By one year, Utah, Idaho, California, Hawaii and Vermont moms held the top spots.

The states with the lowest rate of breast-feeding was Mississippi, where only 50.5 percent of new mothers breast-fed at any point and time, just 19.7 percent were breast-feeding at six months, and barely 9.1 percent of moms made it to 1 year.


Michelle Castillo,


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Many parents asking if their child should receive MMR ahead of schedule to prevent measles.