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Your Baby

Updated Safety Guidelines for Infant Sleeping

2:00

Elaborate beddings and plush accessories may look stylish and cute in a newborn nursery however, pediatricians know that these things should never be part of a baby’s sleeping environment. Getting new parents to understand why this type of bedding can be dangerous for babies is one of the reasons that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated and issued new safety guidelines.

Nineteen evidence-based recommendations aimed at protecting infants up to 1 year of age are featured in SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment, an AAP policy statement and technical report from the Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Safe sleep recommendations include placing infants on their backs to sleep; using a firm sleep surface; room sharing without bed sharing; avoiding exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs; breastfeeding; routine immunization; and using a pacifier.

Every year, about 3,500 infants die from sleep-related deaths. Soon after the “Back to Sleep” campaign debuted in 1994, the SIDS rate declined, but it has leveled off in recent years. Ninety percent of cases occur before an infant turns 6 months of age, with peak incidence between 1 and 4 months.

Most parents know the importance of placing babies on their backs to sleep; the focus now is on the total sleep environment.

“I think the back-to-sleep message has gotten out loud and clear,” said Rachel Y. Moon, M.D., FAAP, lead author of the statements and chair of the task force. “When you ask parents, almost every parent knows — whether they are doing it or not is a different thing. We have been less successful at getting people to not sleep with their babies … and much less successful in getting the soft bedding away from babies.”

The dangers of bed-sharing and soft bedding are two problems that Moon says are often misunderstood.

“For the soft bedding, everybody thinks if it’s soft, then it can’t hurt the baby. But soft bedding is actually really a problem because it’s so soft they sink into it. People will often use pillows to ‘cushion’ the babies, and babies sink into them. …That’s very dangerous.”

It’s similar with bed-sharing, she said. “Some parents also think if baby is right next to them, they can tell if there is a problem … and protect the baby,” Moon noted.

A simple ABC formula can help remind new parents and caregivers of safe sleeping actions.

Michael H. Goldstein, M.D., FAAP, a neonatologist and task force member, lays out the “ABCs”:

 A for the baby sleeping alone

for back sleeping

C for sleeping in an uncluttered crib (or play-yard or bassinet)

“Outside of these, one of the biggest things I would really like to see people take away from the updated recommendations is that no matter what, babies should never sleep on a couch, especially with another person,” Dr. Goldstein said. Babies can get wedged between the adult and the cushions.

Other messages in the guidelines deal with sleeping with an infant, swaddling, breastfeeding and pacifiers.

Breastfeeding, along with the use of a pacifier after breastfeeding is established, also is a key recommendation. “We don’t know if people realize that (by breastfeeding) you reduce the risk of SIDS about 50%,” Dr. Goldstein said.

Parents also are advised to be vigilant about environments out of the home. A study in the November issue of Pediatrics found out-of-home settings are more likely to have certain risk factors for sleep-related deaths, including level placement for sleep and location in a stroller or car seat instead of a crib or bassinet

One of the most important milestones for parents and caregivers is when baby sleeps through the night However, it’s normal and appropriate for newborns to wake up a couple of times during the night, especially if breastfeeding, said Dr. Goldstein. Babies will eventually sleep through the night, but not till their little bodies are ready.

Below are the 2016 infant sleep recommendations for parents, caregivers, researchers, pediatricians and media outlets:

1. Place infants on their back to sleep for every sleep period until they are 1 year old. This position does not increase the risk of choking and aspiration.

2. Use a firm sleep surface.

3. Breastfeeding is recommended.

4. Infants should sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year, but at least for the first six months.

5. Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the infant’s sleep area.

6. Consider offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.

7. Avoid smoke exposures during pregnancy and after birth.

8. Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.

9. Avoid overheating and head covering in infants.

10. Pregnant women should obtain regular prenatal care.

11. Infants should be immunized according to the recommended schedule.

12. Avoid using commercial devices that are inconsistent with safe sleep recommendations, such as wedges and positioners.

13. Don’t use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce SIDS risk. 

14. Supervised tummy time while the infant is awake can help development and minimize positional Plagiocephal (flat head syndrome).

15. There is no evidence to recommend swaddling to reduce the risk of SIDS.

16. Health care professionals and staff in newborn nurseries and neonatal intensive care units as well as child-care providers should endorse and model recommendations to reduce SIDS risk.

17. Media and manufacturers should follow safe sleep guidelines in messaging and advertising.

18. Continue the Safe to Sleep campaign, focusing on ways to further reduce sleep-related deaths.

19. Research and surveillance should continue on all risk factors.

Parents and caregivers can find more information about the “Safe to Sleep” program at: http://www.healthychildcare.org/pdf/sidsparentsafesleep.pdf

Story source: Alyson Sulaski Wyckoff, http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/10/24/SIDS102416

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

CDC Warning: Dangerous Germ Found in Powdered Infant Formula

2:00

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new warning about Cronobacter contamination in powdered infant formulas.

Because powdered infant formula is not sterile, it can sometimes contain Cronobacter — formerly known as Enterobacter sakazakii — a germ found naturally in the environment that can survive in very dry conditions, the CDC reports.

Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe blood infections or meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine. If infected, infants two months of age and younger, are most likely to develop the infection.

Infants born prematurely and those with weakened immune systems are also at increased risk for serious sickness from Cronobacter, the CDC warns.

In infants, the sickness generally starts with fever and usually includes poor feeding, crying or very low energy. Very young infants with these symptoms should be taken to a doctor.

In some outbreak investigations, Cronobacter was found in powdered infant formula that had been contaminated in the factory. In other cases, Cronobacter might have contaminated the powdered infant formula after it was opened at home or elsewhere during preparation, according to the CDC.

Because Cronobacter lives in the general environment, it’s likely there have been other sources of this rare sickness.

Using current methods, manufacturers report that it is not possible to get rid of all germs in powdered infant formula in the factory. Powdered infant formula can also be contaminated after the containers are opened. Very young infants, infants born prematurely, and infants whose bodies have trouble fighting off germs are at highest risk.

The CDC offers these tips on protecting your infant:

·      Breastfeed: Breastfeeding helps prevent many kinds of sicknesses among infants. Almost no cases of Cronobacter sickness have been reported among infants who were being exclusively breastfed.

·      If your baby gets formula, choose infant formula sold in liquid form, especially when your baby is a newborn or very young. Liquid formulations are made to be sterile and therefore should not contain Cronobacter germs.

·      If you use powdered infant formula, follow these steps:

1      Clean up before preparation

Wash your hands with soap and water.

Clean bottles in a dishwasher with hot water and a heated drying cycle, or scrub bottles in hot, soapy water and then sterilize them.

Clean work surfaces, such as countertops and sinks.

2      Prepare safely

Keep powdered formula lids and scoops clean and be careful about what they touch.

Close containers of infant formula or bottled water as soon as possible.

Use hot water (158 degrees F/70 degrees C and above) to make formula.

Carefully shake, rather than stirring, formula in the bottle.

Cool formula to ensure it is not too hot before feeding your baby by running the prepared, capped bottle under cool water or placing it into an ice bath, taking care to keep the cooling water from getting into the bottle or on the nipple.

3      Use up quickly or store safely

Use formula within two hours of preparation. If the baby does not finish the entire bottle of formula, throw away the unused formula.

If you do not plan to use the prepared formula right away, refrigerate it immediately and use it within 24 hours. Refrigeration slows the growth of germs and increases safety.

When in doubt, throw it out. If you can’t remember how long you have kept formula in the refrigerator, it is safer to throw it out than to feed it to your baby.

Story Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/04/125714/#.VyJvoat5ylA

 

Your Baby

Chubby Baby = Obese Child?

2.00 to read

“Look at those cute little rolls of fat and chubby cheeks.” “It’s just baby-fat, he’ll grow out of it.” Common comments when people see a chubby baby. But, what was once thought of as a well-fed and healthy infant might prove to be just the opposite.

Researchers say they’ve found a way to determine if a rapid growing baby will become obese later in life. A new study says that if your baby has passed two key milestones, on a doctor’s growth chart by the age of two, then he or she has double the risk of being obese by the age of 5.  Rapid growers were also more likely to be obese at age 10, and infants whose chart numbers climbed that much during their first 6 months faced the greatest risks.

Children who grew more slowly were less likely to be obese by the same age.

That kind of rapid growth should be a red flag to doctors, and a sign to parents that babies might be overfed or spending too much time in strollers and not enough crawling around, said pediatrician Dr. Elsie Taveras, the study's lead author and an obesity researcher at Harvard Medical School.

Contrary to the idea that chubby babies are the picture of health, the study bolsters evidence that "bigger is not better" in infants, she said.

In an online article on healthland.time.com Dr. Michelle Lampl, director of Emory University's Center for the Study of Human Health, expressed concerns.

“It’s a bad idea that could backfire in the long run,” said Lampl.

"It reads like a very handy rule and sounds like it would be very useful _ and that's my concern," Lampl said. The guide would be easy to use to justify feeding infants less and to unfairly label them as fat. It could also prompt feeding patterns that could lead to obesity later, she said.

Lampl noted that many infants studied crossed at least two key points on growth charts; yet only 12 percent were obese at age 5 and slightly more at age 10. Nationally, about 10 percent of preschool-aged children are obese, versus about 19 percent of those aged 6 to 11.

Taveras said the rapid growth shown in the study should be used to raise awareness and not to put babies on a diet.

The study involved 45,000 infants and children younger than age 11 who had routine growth measurements during doctor checkups in the Boston area from 1980 through 2008.

Growth charts help pediatricians plot weight, length in babies and height in older kids in relation to other children their same age and sex. Pediatricians sometimes combine an infant's measures to calculate weight-for-length _ the equivalent of body-mass index, or BMI, a height-to-weight ratio used in older children and adults.

The charts are organized into percentiles. For example, infants at the 75th percentile for weight are heavier than 75 percent of their peers.

An infant whose weight-for-length jumped from the 19th percentile at 1 month to the 77th at 6 months crossed three major percentiles _ the 25th, 50th and 75th _ and would be at risk for obesity later in childhood, the authors said.

Larger infants were most at risk for obesity later on, but even smaller babies whose growth crossed at least two percentiles were at greater risk than those who grew more slowly.

About 40 percent of infants crossed at least two percentiles by age 6 months. An analysis of more than one-third of the study children found that 64 percent grew that rapidly by age 2.

Dr. Joanna Lewis, a pediatrician at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., said she supports the idea that infancy is not too young to start thinking about obesity.

Still, she emphasized that rapid growth in infancy doesn't mean babies are doomed to become obese. "It's not a life sentence," and there are steps parents can take to keep their babies at a healthy weight without restrictive diets, she said.

Lewis said many of her patients are large babies whose parents feed them juice or solid food despite guidelines recommending nothing but breast milk or formula in the first six months.

"The study reinforces what we try to tell parents already: Delay starting solids and don't put juice in a bottle," Lewis said.

Your Baby

“Furry Pets” May Help Kids Avoid Some Allergies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Your Baby

Longer Breast-Feeding Time, Less Childhood Obesity

2:00

A new study looks at the duration of breast-feeding and babies who are high risk for obesity, as they get older. Researchers found that the longer mothers breast –fed these higher risk babies, the less likely the babies were to become overweight later.

"Breast-feeding for longer durations appears to have a protective effect against the early signs of overweight and obesity," said lead researcher Stacy Carling, a doctoral candidate in nutrition at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.

Carling and her colleagues followed 595 children from birth to the age of 2. They tracked the children's weight and length over this time, and compared individual children's growth trajectories to how long the children breast-fed.

Which children are considered at high risk for extra weight gain? Researchers found that babies whose mothers were overweight or obese, mothers with lower education levels and mothers who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to have overweight children. Almost 59 percent of the children at risk for being overweight had mothers with one or more of these characteristics, compared to about 43 percent of the children not at risk for excessive weight gain.

Higher-risk babies who breast-fed for less than two months were more than twice as likely to gain extra weight than those who breast-fed for at least four months.

Although the study didn’t prove that longer breast-feeding actually reduced risk for obesity, it did provide several reasons why the link between the two may exist.

"Breast-feeding an infant may allow proper development of hunger and satiety signals, as well as help prevent some of the behaviors that lead to overweight and obesity," Carling said.

"Breast-feeding, especially on demand, versus on schedule, allows an infant to feed when he or she is hungry, thereby fostering an early development of appetite control," she said. "When a baby breast-feeds, she can control how much milk she gets and how often, naturally responding to internal signals of hunger and satiation."

The study did not include information on whether the babies were exclusively breast-fed or how often they were getting milk at the breast versus from a bottle, but the time required to reduce obesity risk was not long.

"The difference of two months of breast-feeding may be enough to reap some benefit," Carling said.

There are many reasons mothers choose to breast-feed for shorter periods, and some mothers are not able to breast-feed at all. For mothers that choose to breast-feed, Carling believes they need to be supported on many levels.

"Ultimately, increasing breast-feeding rates in the United States means increasing knowledge and support at a variety of levels from institutional to interpersonal," Carling said. "Our study recognizes the benefit of longer duration breast-feeding in a specific population and, hopefully, this and other studies will lead to more customized breast-feeding promotion in those populations at higher risk for overweight and obesity."

The findings were published in the January print issue of Pediatrics, and funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Source: Tara Haelle, http://consumer.healthday.com/women-s-health-information-34/breast-feeding-news-82/breast-feeding-for-longer-may-protect-infants-at-risk-for-obesity-694218.html

Your Baby

Tdap Vaccine Protects Mother and Newborn

1:45

A new study shows that the Tdap vaccine, (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), is safe for pregnant women and their unborn child.

The vaccine does not appear to cause birth defects or any other major health problems for a developing fetus, according to a review of more than 324,000 live births between 2007 and 2013.

"We basically showed there is no association between receiving the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy and these congenital [birth] defects, including microcephaly," said lead researcher Dr. Malini DeSilva. She is a clinical investigator for HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis.

Controversy over vaccines has caused some pregnant women to worry about possible side effects. The study is part of ongoing efforts to monitor the safety of vaccines, DeSilva said. Her center is part of the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a collaborative project led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that includes health care organizations across the nation.

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a bacterial infection that gets into your nose and throat. Whooping cough is dangerous in babies, especially ones younger than 6 months old. In severe cases, they may need to go to an ER. Babies with whooping cough may not make the typical whooping sound or even cough, but might gasp for air instead.

Babies can't receive the vaccine that protects against these diseases until they are 2 months old, DeSilva said. Until they do, they have a high risk of contracting whooping cough.

"In between the time they're born and their 2 months' visit, they don't really have any protective antibodies other than what has passed through the placenta," DeSilva said. "There have been some studies that show there is an increased chance of passing these antibodies when the mother gets this vaccine."

The researchers found that maternal Tdap inoculation wasn't significantly associated with increased risk for any major birth defects in vaccinations occurring at less than 14 weeks' gestation, between 27 and 36 weeks' gestation, or during any week of pregnancy.

Dr. Amesh Adalja is a senior associate with the University of Pittsburgh's UPMC Center for Health Security. He said, "This study illustrates the safety of maternal Tdap vaccination and the lack of an association with any birth defects." Adalja was not involved with the new report.

"Vaccination of pregnant women with this vaccine is an important aspect of protecting neonates from pertussis, a potentially fatal condition," Adalja added. "This study should reassure physicians and patients and hopefully increase vaccination rates in pregnancy."

The Tdap vaccine has been recommended for unvaccinated pregnant women since 2010 in California, and since 2011 across the United States, researchers said in background information.

The study was published Nov. 1 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pertussis is very contagious and is particularly dangerous for infants. With the cold season underway, the Tdap vaccine is highly recommended for pregnant women as well as the general public.

Story sources: Dennis Thompson, https://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/vaccine-news-689/common-vaccine-is-safe-for-mother-baby-in-pregnancy-716379.html

Renee A. Alli, MD, http://www.webmd.com/children/guide/whooping-cough-symptoms-treatment#1

Your Baby

Benefits of Waiting to Clamp the Umbilical Cord

2:00

Could waiting just three minutes before clamping the umbilical cord after childbirth make a difference in your child’s motor and social skills? According to a new Swedish study, children of mothers that delay cord clamping, reap the benefits later in life – especially for boys.

Delaying cord clamping is already known to benefit babies by increasing iron levels in their blood for the first few months of life, researchers write in the most recent edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

“There is quite a lot of brain development just after birth,” said lead author Dr. Ola Andersson of Uppsala University in Sweden. “Iron is needed for that process.”

For the study, researchers followed up on 263 Swedish children born at full term to healthy mothers about four years earlier.

As newborns, the children had been part of a larger study in which a total of 382 babies were randomly assigned to either early cord clamping (within 10 seconds of birth) or late cord clamping (at least three minutes after birth).

Four years later, the children were similarly intelligent regardless of when their cords had been clamped, but there were some notable differences.

“When you just meet a child, you wouldn’t see or notice any differences,” Andersson told Reuters Health. “But we could see the differences in fine motor function.”

The children were tested for IQ, motor skills and behavior. Parents also reported on their children’s communication, problem solving and social skills.

Results of the study showed that overall brain development and behavior scores were similar for both groups, and there was no significant difference in IQ scores.

However, more children in the delayed cord clamping group had a mature pencil grip on the fine motor skills test and better skills on some social aspects compared to those whose cords were clamped early.

Researchers found that boys benefitted much more than girls.

Iron deficiency is much more common among male infants than among females, Andersson said.

“Girls have higher iron stores when they are born,” he said.

Delaying cord clamping by three minutes allows an extra 3.5 ounces of blood to transfuse to the baby, which is equivalent to a half a gallon of blood for an adult, Andersson said.

“There’s a lot of iron in that volume,” he said. “Even three minutes can have quite a lot of effect on the iron in the blood in the body for a long time after birth.”

The new study provides evidence of benefit for full-term babies in a developed country where nutritional deficiency is extremely rare, Andersson said.

“When a baby transitions from inside the womb to outside the womb, if you think about what nature does, it is not to clamp the cord immediately,” said Dr. Heike Rabe of the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and University Hospitals in the UK.

Why do doctors traditionally clamp the cord quickly? About 60 years ago, doctors began clamping the cord almost immediately because it was thought that it would reduce the risk of hemorrhage for the mother. Doctors now know that is not the case.

Even though the scientific understanding behind cord clamping has changed, it’s still difficult for some doctors to change how they’ve always done things.  Today, parents can have more say in how their baby is born and whom they choose to deliver their child.

Parents-to-be should discuss their wishes with their OB/GYN or family doctor ahead of time and weigh the pros and cons of delaying cord clamping for their particular birthing process.

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/26/us-gynecology-pediatrics-cord-neurodevel-idUSKBN0OB2ET20150526

 

 

Your Baby

Moms-to-be Need Folic Acid

1.45 to read

One of the best ways to have a healthy baby is to take good care of your own health.  Folic acid has been shown to help prevent certain birth defects, but now a new study suggests when a woman takes it in the first two months of pregnancy; her child may be less likely to have severe language delays.

Folic acid is a B vitamin (B9) found mostly in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, orange juice, and enriched grains.  It’s also available as a supplement.

American companies often add folic acid to their grains to help make sure that pregnant women are getting enough of the B vitamin.

“We don’t think people should change their behavior based on these findings,” said Dr. Ezra Susser from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York, who worked on the study.

“But it does add weight to the public health recommendation to take folic acid early in pregnancy,” he told Reuters Health.

And, he added, it shows that “what you do during pregnancy… is not only important for birth but also for subsequent development".

The study took place in Norway, where 40,000 women – a few months into their pregnancy- were surveyed on what supplements they were taking in the four weeks before they got pregnant and eight weeks after conception.

When their children were three years old, Susser and his colleagues asked the same women about their kids’ language skills, including how many words they could string together in a phrase.

Toddlers who could only say one word at a time or who had “unintelligible utterances” were considered to have severe language delay. In total, about one in 200 kids fit into that category.

Four out of 1,000 kids born to women who took folic acid alone or combined with other vitamins had severe language delays. That compared to nine out of 1,000 kids whose moms didn’t take folic acid before and during early pregnancy.

The pattern remained after Susser’s team took into account other factors that were linked to both folic acid supplementation and language skills, such as a mom’s weight and education, and whether or not she was married.

The study can’t prove that folic acid, itself, prevents language delay, they wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But Susser said the vitamin is known to affect the growth of neurons and could influence how proteins are made from certain genes.

“The recommendation worldwide is that women should be on folate (folic acid) supplements through all their reproductive years,” Susser said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all women of childbearing age — and especially those who are planning a pregnancy — consume about 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid every day. Adequate folic acid intake is very important before conception and at least 3 months afterward to potentially reduce the risk of having a fetus with a neural tube defect.

You can boost your intake by looking for breakfast cereals, breads, pastas, and rice containing 100% of the recommended daily folic acid allowance. But for most women, eating fortified foods isn’t enough. To reach the recommended daily level, you’ll probably need a vitamin supplement.

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