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Your Baby

Babies Can Tell the Difference and Sameness of Objects

1:45

How old are we when we begin to learn to tell when objects are alike or different?  Scientists involved in a new study say that with a little training, babies as young as seven months can discern whether objects are similar or not.

Previous studies have shown that toddlers have this ability, but researchers at Northwestern University, wanted to see if children could actually determine the difference at an even earlier age.  The scientists were the first to discover that infants can actually make this remarkable determination – long before they have the language skills to express abstract ideas.

“This suggests that a skill key to human intelligence is present very early in human development, and that language skills are not necessary for learning abstract relations,” said study author, Alissa Ferry, a brain development researcher.

To accomplish this, the scientists started out to see if seven--month-old infants could comprehend sameness and difference between two objects by showing them either two Elmo dolls or an Elmo doll and a toy camel until their observation time ran out.

They then had the infants look longer at pairs that were either the “same” or “different,” including test pairs composed of new items. The team saw infants who had learned the “same” relation looked longer at test pairs showing the “different” relation and vice versa. The team said this indicates the infants had figured out the abstract relation and recognized when the relation changed.

“We found that infants are capable of learning these relations,” Ferry said. “Additionally, infants exhibit the same patterns of learning as older children and adults — relational learning benefits from seeing multiple examples of the relation and is impeded when attention is drawn to the individual objects composing the relation.”

The researchers also believe that because the infants could learn the difference and the sameness of objects before they could speak, that this is a separate skill that humans need and develop early in their existence.

“The infants in our study were able to form an abstract same or different relation after seeing only 6-9 examples,” said study author Dedre Gentner, a professor of psychology at Northwestern. “It appears that relational learning is something that humans, even very young humans, are much better at than other primates.”

Source: Brett Smith, http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1113398144/infants-can-compare-and-contrast-objects-study-052715/

 

 

Your Baby

“Hard” Tap Water and Eczema in Infants

1:30

Previous studies have noted an association between “hard” tap water and eczema in schoolchildren, but a new study out of the U.K. suggests it may be linked to eczema in babies as well.

Water described as “hard” contains a high degree of minerals - specifically calcium, magnesium and manganese. It’s not considered hazardous, but it comes with a variety of unpleasant effects such as soap scum in sinks and bathtubs, spots on dishes and shower glass, clogged pipes from buildup and clothes that are left dingy after washing.

By some accounts, 85% of U.S. households have hard water.

If your child has eczema, then you know that it is a chronic condition marked by itchiness and rashes. It typically starts at about 6 months old and can last into adulthood.

The study included 1,300 3-month old infants from across the United Kingdom. Researchers checked hardness -- the water's mineral content -- and chlorine levels in the water supply where the babies lived.

Babies who lived in areas with hard water were up to 87% more likely to have eczema, the study found.

"Our study builds on growing evidence of a link between exposure to hard water and the risk of developing eczema in childhood," said lead author Dr. Carsten Flohr, from the Institute of Dermatology at King's College London.

One way to change the composition of hard water is by adding a water softener system to your household

There are several types of systems including salt-based Ion exchange softeners, salt-free softeners, dual tank and magnetic water softeners plus others.

While the other studies focused on school aged children, this is the first to look at the connection with eczema, hard water and babies, the researchers said.

The study wasn't designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship, so further research is needed to learn more about this apparent link, Flohr added.

"We are about to launch a feasibility trial to assess whether installing a water softener in the homes of high-risk children around the time of birth may reduce the risk of eczema and whether reducing chlorine levels brings any additional benefits," Flohr said in a college news release.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_159150.html

http://extoxnet.orst.edu/faqs/safedrink/hard.htm

 

 

Your Baby

Is Your Baby Safer Sleeping in a Box?

2:00

Is your baby safer sleeping in a box instead of a crib? Some parents think so and are ditching the traditional infant crib for a specially made cardboard box.

The Baby Box Co., is a Los-Angeles based business that is partnering with hospitals across the U.S. to give away free “baby boxes” to new parents.

The parents also receive a 15- minute educational video about safe sleeping habits for infants. Also included in the box are infant clothing, a mattress, a fitted sheet plus $150 worth of baby necessities.

While relatively novel in the U.S., the baby-box isn’t a new idea.  It’s modeled after a program in Finland that began more than 70 years ago. Baby boxes are aimed at curbing infant mortality rates by promoting safe sleeping practices for newborns.

New Jersey adopted the first statewide baby box program; distributing a total of 105,000 boxes. And now, Ohio has joined up, along with hospitals in Philadelphia and San Antonio, Texas.

Proponents of baby boxes say the combination of educational tools and free resources will bring America's infant mortality rate closer to those found in wealthy Nordic countries.

The goal of the Baby Box program is to bring the rate of children dying from Sudden Infant Death syndrome (SIDS) down. SIDS is usually attributed to sleep-related accidents such as strangulation, suffocation or entrapment. In 2015, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported about 3,700 infants died from SIDS.

The U.S. saw a drastic decline in its infant mortality rate since 1994, when the CDC launched its "Back to Sleep" campaign urging parents to have their infants sleep on their backs rather than stomachs, but disadvantaged groups still tend to be affected by SIDS more than others.

In Finland, Baby Boxes have had a dramatic impact on infant mortality since the program was launched in 1949. In the 1930s, the country's infant mortality rate was 65 deaths per 1,000 infants. Beginning in 1949, that number has shrunk to 3.5 deaths per 1,000 births— a decrease that's credited in part to baby boxes. Comparatively, the United States had an infant mortality rate of about 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births in 2016.

One University of Chicago study found that primarily lower socioeconomic groups drive the higher infant mortality rate in the U.S. after the mother and child leave the hospital. Contributing factors may include health coverage insurance and the mother’s amount of education.

What else can be done to curb infant mortality rates?

Some experts argue that policies geared toward enhanced post neonatal care for mothers of low socioeconomic status would be most effective in combating the U.S. infant mortality rate.

Universal home nurse visits, available in a number of European countries such as Finland and Austria, are one option. A provision of the Affordable Care Act offers money for a number of similar programs, such as the Nurse Family Partnership founded in 1977 in New York.

The program, which sought to rein in infant deaths in the U.S., provides low-income, first-time mothers with registered nurses who visit their homes to provide assistance and child health education for mothers.

According to the Baby Box Co. website, Baby Boxes are not only available through some hospitals, but also direct to consumer.

Story source: Avalon Zoppo, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/hospitals-u-s-give-away-free-baby-boxes-curb-infant-n732421

http://www.babyboxco.com

Your Baby

No Link Between Vaccines and Autism

1.30 to read

A new study slated to appear in the Journal of Pediatrics, says that there is no association between the amount of vaccines a young child receives and autism. Some parents have worried that there may be a link and have opted out of having their child vaccinated or reduced the number of vaccines recommended.

The percentage of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased by 72% since 2007. Some experts believe that changes in the diagnostic criteria may account for some of the increase as well as better screening tools and rating scales.

According to a statement released from the journal, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Abt Associates analyzed data from children with and without ASD.

Researchers examined each child's cumulative exposure to antigens, the substances in vaccines that cause the body's immune system to produce antibodies to fight disease, and the maximum number of antigens each child received in a single day of vaccination, the journal's statement said.

The antigen totals were the same for children with and without ASD, researchers found.

Scientists believe genetics play a fundamental role in the risk for a child developing autism (80-90%), but recent studies also suggests that the father’s age at the time of conception may also be a contributor by increasing risks for genetic mistakes in the sperm that could be passed along to offspring.

Parents have worried about a link between vaccines and autism for decades despite the growing body of scientific evidence disproving such an association.

Source: Luciana Lopez, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/29/us-usa-health-autism-idUSBRE92S0GO20130329

Your Baby

Babies Shouldn’t Be Given OTC Cold Medicines

2:00

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, http://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/common-cold-news-142/steer-clear-of-cold-meds-for-babies-fda-advises-693878.html

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/SpecialFeatures/ucm263948.htm

Your Baby

Special Baby Formulas Don’t Prevent Asthma, Allergies

2:00

Parents that have a baby at risk or allergies, asthma or type-1 Diabetes sometimes turn to hydrolyzed milk formulas in hopes of lowering their infant’s risk of developing these problems.

A new review of the data on hydrolyzed formulas finds that there is no evidence that they actually protect children from these types of autoimmune disorders.

"We found no consistent evidence to support a protective role for partially or extensively hydrolyzed formula," concluded a team led by Robert Boyle of Imperial College London in England.

"Our findings conflict with current international guidelines, in which hydrolyzed formula is widely recommended for young formula-fed infants with a family history of allergic disease," the study authors added.

In the study, Boyle's team looked at data from 37 studies that together included more than 19,000 participants and were conducted between 1946 and 2015.

The investigators found that infants who received hydrolyzed cow's milk formula did not have a lower risk of asthma, allergies (such as eczema, hay fever, food allergies) or type 1 diabetes compared to those who received human breast milk or a standard cow's milk formula.

The researchers also found no evidence to support an FDA-approved claim that a partially hydrolyzed formula could reduce the risk of the skin disorder eczema, or another conclusion that hydrolyzed formula could prevent an allergy to cow's milk.

Other experts in the United States said that the finding casts doubt on the usefulness of these kinds of specialized products.

"Allergies and autoimmune diseases [such as asthma, and type 1 diabetes] are on the rise and it would be nice if we did have a clear route to preventing them," said Dr. Ron Marino, associate chair of pediatrics at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

"Unfortunately, despite U.S. Food and Drug Administration support [for hydrolyzed formula], the data are not compelling," he said.

Dr. Punita Ponda is assistant chief of allergy and immunology at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. She stressed that when it comes to infant feeding, breast milk is by far the healthiest option.

However, "current mainstream guidelines for infant formula do recommend that parents consider using hypoallergenic formula if a close family member -- like an older brother or sister -- has a food allergy," she said. That was based on prior studies supporting some kind of protective effect, Ponda said.

Protein hydrolysate formulas were first introduced in the 1940s for babies who could not tolerate the milk protein in cow’s milk.

Protein hydrolyzed formulas are formulas composed of proteins that are partially broken down or “hydrolyzed.” They are also called hydrolysates.

There are two broad categories of protein hydrolysates:

•       Partially hydrolyzed formulas (pHF)

•       Extensively hydrolyzed formulas (eHF)

Both partially and extensively hydrolyzed protein formulas are based on casein or whey, which are proteins found in milk.  

Hydrolyzed formulas have had the protein chains broken down into shorter and more easy-to -digest chains. The more extensively hydrolyzed the formula, the fewer potentially allergenic compounds remain.

Hydrolyzed formulas are also more expensive than regular cow’s milk formulas and often harder to find.

The researchers review was published March 08, 2016 in the BMJ.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20160308/special-infant-formulas-dont-shield-against-asthma-allergies-study

Victoria Groce, http://foodallergies.about.com/od/adultfoodallergies/p/hypoallergenic.htm

 

Your Baby

Study: Fracking Linked to Babies Low Birth Weight

High volume fracturing, also known as fracking, has increased in production all through the United States. The process allows access to large amounts of natural gas trapped in shale deposits by utilizing natural gas wells.

These types of wells were once more likely to be found in rural settings but are now increasingly located in and near populated neighborhoods.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has found a link between mothers who live close to high volume fracking wells and an increased risk of having a lower birth weight baby.

Researchers analyzed the birth records of more than 15,400 babies born in Pennsylvania's Washington, Westmoreland and Butler counties between 2007 and 2010.

Women who lived close to a high number of natural gas fracking sites were 34 percent more likely to have babies who were "small for gestational age" than mothers who did not live close to a large number of such wells, the study found.

Small for gestational age means a baby is smaller than normal based on the number of weeks the baby has been in the womb, according to the March of Dimes.

The findings held true even after other factors were accounted for such as whether the mother smoked, her race, age, education and prenatal care. Also taken into account was whether she had previous children and the baby’s gender.

Like other cities around the country, the number of fracking sites in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale has increased substantially in the last few years. In 2007 there were 44 wells; by 2010, more than 2,800.

"Our work is a first for our region and supports previous research linking unconventional gas development and adverse health outcomes," study co-author Bruce Pitt, chair of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, said in a university news release.

"These findings cannot be ignored. There is a clear need for studies in larger populations with better estimates of exposure and more in-depth medical records," he added.

The main concerns around fracking sites are the air and noise pollution and waste fluids.

"Developing fetuses are particularly sensitive to the effects of environmental pollutants. We know that fine particulate air pollution, exposure to heavy metals and benzene, and maternal stress all are associated with lower birth weight," Pitt said.

While the study provides an association between fracking and lower weight babies, it does not prove that living close to a high concentration of natural gas fracking sites causes lower birth weights. Researchers said that they believe the study’s findings warrant further investigations.

The study was published online in the June edition of the journal PLOS One.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/environment-health-news-233/fracking-linked-to-low-birth-weight-babies-700018.html

Your Baby

BPA Consumed During Pregnancy Linked to Obesity in Kids

1:45

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities and used primarily in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

You’ll find polycarbonate plastics in some plastic water bottles, food storage containers and plastic tableware. Epoxy resins are used in lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes.

The primary source of exposure to BPA for many people is through food and beverages.

Why should you be concerned about Bisphenol A?

BPA is thought to act as an endocrine disruptor--a compound that mimics or disrupts hormones produced by the human body. Previous research has linked BPA to asthma, ADHD, depression, anxiety and early puberty in girls. It has also been linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease in adults.

A new study has also found a possible link between BPA and child obesity.

Researchers at Columbia University found that children of women exposed to BPA during pregnancy were likely to have more body fat by age seven. Increased body fat has been linked to a higher risk of obesity.

"This study provides evidence that prenatal exposure to BPA may contribute to developmental origins of obesity as determined by measures of body fat in children as opposed to the traditional indicator of body mass index, which only considers height and weight,” lead author of the study. Lori Hoepner, DrPH, said in a press release.

Dr. Hoepner and her colleagues studied 369 maternal-child pairs from pregnancy through early childhood.

The researchers collected urine samples during the last three months of pregnancy.

Urine samples were also collected from the children at ages three and five. The children's heights and weights were measured at age five and age seven.

At age seven the researchers also measured waist circumference and fat mass.

The researchers found 94 percent of the women had BPA in their urine--an indication that they had been exposed to the chemical.

Dr. Hoepner and colleagues found that children who had been exposed to BPA in the womb had a higher body fat mass. Even though the children might have been within the normal ranges for height and weight, they had a greater percentage of fat than would be normal at that age.

The researchers found a strong association between BPA, fat mass and waist circumference in girls. They also found that childhood exposure to BPA was not associated with fat mass, indicating that the prenatal exposure was the problem.

Some studies indicate that infants and children may be the most vulnerable to the effects of BPA. This new study also suggests that pregnant women might want to avoid BPA products.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offers these tips for reducing BPA exposure:

•       Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures. Use glass or ceramics for microwaving foods.

•       Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.

•       Reduce your use of canned foods. Choose glass or other safe packaging or fresh or frozen foods when possible.

•       Opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.

•       Use baby bottles that are BPA free. 

The study was published in the May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

Story sources: Beth Greenwood, http://www.dailyrxnews.com/prenatal-exposure-bpa-was-associated-increased-fat-mass-children-columbia-university-study-found

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/

 

Your Baby

Antibiotics Not Effective for Mild Eczema in Kids

2:00

As many as 10 percent of all infants have some form of eczema, a condition that usually develops between the ages of 2 and 6 months, and almost always before the age of 5 years old. Kids with eczema usually develop itchy, dry, red skin with small bumps on their cheeks, forehead or scalp. The rash may spread to the arms and legs and the trunk, and red, crusted, or open lesions may appear on any area affected.

They also may have circular, slightly raised, itchy, and scaly rashes in the bends of the elbows, behind the knees, or on the backs of the wrists and ankles.

Eczema is not contagious, so there's no need to keep a baby or child who has it away from siblings, other kids, or anyone else.

Antibiotics are often prescribed as a treatment, but a new study says that they are not effective for milder cases in children.

"This is a good example of a common situation in medicine," said Dr. Michael Grosso. "A particular intervention 'makes sense,' becomes common practice -- and often becomes the so-called 'standard of care' -- only to be proved ineffective when the therapy is subjected to scientific investigation."

Eczema is an immunological condition affecting both children and adults.

Dr. Craig Osleeb explained, "Children with eczema have an overabundance of the bacteria normally found on skin." He is a pediatric allergist at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

"The excessive colonization of bacteria can exacerbate symptoms by causing infection and/or triggering inflammation," Osleeb said. So, "antibiotics have often been used to quell eczema exacerbations."

Doctors are concerned that, over time, bacteria can develop a resistance to antibiotics, opening the door for dangerous drug-resistant “superbug” infections. While once a very popular treatment, doctors are now leaning towards reducing the number of antibiotic prescriptions to treat certain cases.

The new study, led by Nick Francis of Cardiff University in Wales, included 113 children with non-severe, infected eczema who were randomly selected to join one of three groups.

The children received either an antibiotic pill plus a "dummy" placebo cream; a placebo pill and an antibiotic cream; or placebo pill plus placebo cream (the "control" group).

After watching outcomes for two weeks, four weeks and then three months, the British team found no significant differences between the three groups in terms of easing of eczema symptoms.

Researchers found that the children with non-severe eczema, given the antibiotics either in a pill or a cream, did not benefit from the treatment. The study authors added that such use might even promote antibiotic resistance or additional skin sensitization.

Francis and his team noted that the study focused only on kids with a milder form of eczema, so the results may not apply to children with more infected eczema.

Osleeb agreed. For children battling milder eczema outbreaks, "corticosteroid creams alone will suffice," he said, but "this study does not eliminate the potential role of antibiotics in more moderate to severe eczema exacerbations."

Diagnosing eczema can be challenging because each child has a unique combination of symptoms, which can vary in severity. Treatments can consist of topical corticosteroid creams, antihistamines and in some instances, ultraviolet light under the supervision of a dermatologist.

Some children will outgrow eczema and some may continue to have symptoms during their teens and into adulthood.

If you suspect your baby or young child may have eczema, have your child seen by your pediatrician for diagnosis and treatment options.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/diseases-and-conditions-information-37/eczema-news-618/skip-the-antibiotics-for-mild-eczema-in-kids-720482.html

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/eczema-atopic-dermatitis.html#

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