Your Baby

Meningococcal Disease Vaccine Approved For Infants

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Meningococcal disease can cause death or severe brain damage in infants and young children. The U.S. Food and Drug Association has now approved a vaccine against the disease for children as young as 9 months old.

Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, says neisseria meningitidis is a leading cause of meningitis in young children -- it progresses rapidly and can cause death within hours although early symptoms are often difficult to distinguish from influenza and other common illnesses. Even with appropriate antibiotics and intensive care, between 10 percent and 15 percent of people who develop the disease die and another 10 percent to 20 percent suffer complications such as brain damage or hearing loss, Midthun says. The safety of Menactra in children as young as 9 months was evaluated in four clinical studies in which more than 3,700 participants received the vaccine. Injection-site tenderness and irritability are the most  common adverse events reported in the youngest study participants. Occurrence of fever was comparable to other vaccines routinely recommended for young children, Midthun says. Menactra, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc., was originally approved January 2005 for use in those ages 11-55 years and was approved in October 2007 for children age 2 and older. Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. People sometimes refer to it as spinal meningitis. Meningitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Knowing whether meningitis is caused by a virus or bacterium is important because the severity of illness and the treatment differ depending on the cause. Viral meningitis is generally less severe and clears up without specific treatment. But bacterial meningitis can be quite severe and may result in brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disabilities. For bacterial meningitis, it is also important to know which type of bacteria is causing the meningitis because antibiotics can prevent some types from spreading and infecting other people. Common symptoms of meningitis in anyone over the age of 2 are high fever, headache, and stiff neck. These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take 1 to 2 days. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion, and sleepiness. In newborns and small infants, the classic symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to detect. Infants with meningitis may appear slow or inactive, have vomiting, be irritable, or be feeding poorly. As the disease progresses, patients of any age may have seizures. Early diagnosis and treatment are very important. If symptoms occur, the patient should see a doctor immediately. The diagnosis is usually made by growing bacteria from a sample of spinal fluid. The spinal fluid is obtained by performing a spinal tap, in which a needle is inserted into an area in the lower back where fluid in the spinal canal can be collected. Identification of the type of bacteria responsible is important for selection of correct antibiotics. The bacteria can mainly be spread from person to person through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions. This can occur through coughing, kissing, and sneezing. Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as things like the common cold or the flu. Also, the bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. However, sometimes the bacteria that cause meningitis have spread to other people who have had close or prolonged contact with a patient with meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis (also called meningococcal meningitis) or Hib. People in the same household or daycare center, or anyone with direct contact with a patient's oral secretions (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend) would be considered at increased risk of getting the infection. People who qualify as close contacts of a person with meningitis caused by N. meningitidis should receive antibiotics to prevent them from getting the disease.

Your Baby

Breastfeeding Could Save 1.3 Million Lives

Teaching new mothers how to breastfeed could save 1.3 million children's lives every year, but many women get no help and give up trying.Teaching new mothers how to breastfeed could save 1.3 million children's lives every year, but many women get no help and give up trying, said the World Health Organization. Less than 40 percent of mothers worldwide breastfeed their infants exclusively in the first six months, as recommended by the WHO. But many abandon it because they don't know how to get their your-baby to latch on properly or suffer pain and discomfort.

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"When it comes to doing it practically, they don't have the practical support," said WHO expert Constanza Vallenas. This is a problem in both rich and poor countries, she said, calling for more assistance in hospitals, health clinics and communities for new mothers who need information and help. The WHO recommends that babies start breastfeeding within one hour of their birth, and ingest only breast milk for the first six months, avoiding water and other drinks and foods. This can give children vital nutrients and strengthen their immune system to fight diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. Formula milk does not provide the same immunity and local water can be contaminated or unsafe in many parts of the world. Raising to 90 percent the global breastfeeding rate for infants to six months would save an estimated 13 percent of the 10 million under-age-five deaths a year, Vallenas said. In a statement released to mark World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said it was also important that mothers in disaster zones be given the support they need to continue or restart breastfeeding. "During emergencies, unsolicited or uncontrolled donations of breast milk substitutes may undermine breastfeeding and should be avoided," Chan said, arguing abandoning breastfeeding could put vulnerable child lives at extra risk. "The focus should be on active protection and support of breastfeeding."

Your Baby

Beech-Nut Recalls Baby Food Due to Pieces of Glass

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The Beech-Nut Nutrition Company has issued a voluntary recall of 1,920 pounds of baby food due to possible contamination with small pieces of glass.

The company is recalling “Stage 2 Beech-Nut Classics sweet potato and chicken” baby food in 4 -ounce glass jars.  The baby food was made on Dec. 12, 2014, and the recall applies to food expiring December 2016.

A customer reported that they found a small piece of glass in their baby food and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that an oral injury, from use of the product, was also conveyed.

“Outside of this single report, we have no indication that any other jar of our Classics Stage 2 Sweet Potato & Chicken is affected, but as a company of parents and families we are acting with an abundance of caution,” the company said in a statement posted to its website. “The quality and safety of our products is our number one priority. We know we have not met the expectations of parents who rely on Beech-Nut for quality nutrition for their babies and toddlers in this case, and for that we apologize.”

The recalled baby food contains the product numbers “12395750815” through “12395750821.” It also contains the inspection code “P-68A.”

Consumers who have purchased the baby food can return it to the store where it was purchased for a refund. You can also call Beech-Nut at (866) 674-4446 with any concerns or for a full refund.

More recall information is located on the Beech-Nut website at  http://www.beechnut.com/recall.

Consumers should not use the product and if you suspect your baby has eaten the baby-food, Beech-Nut recommends parents should consult with their pediatrician or family physician. 

Your Baby

Teething Toy Recalled Due to Choking Hazard

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Infantino, the maker of the Go Gaga Squeeze and Teethe Coco the Monkey teething toy, has issued a recall on the teething product.  It’s the tail of the toy that can pose a choking hazard to a small child.

The squeaking toy is made of soft orange rubber and is shaped like a monkey. The toy measures 4.5 inches tall by 5 inches long and is intended for ages newborn and up. “Infantino” is marked on the back toward the rear and model number 206-647 is marked on the inside of the rear left leg

The firm has received seven reports of infants choking or gagging on the monkey’s tail. No injuries have been reported.

The toy was sold exclusively at Target stores nationwide and online from December 2012 through January 2014 for about $13.

Consumers can contact Infantino toll-free at (888) 808-3111 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online at www.infantino.com and click on Recall Information on the home page.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled products away from infants and may contact Infantino if they’d like to receive a free replacement toy.

Infantino teething toy recall

Infantino recall teething toy

Your Baby

Starting Babies on Allergy Related Foods Early

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In a recent KidsDr.com website article, Pediatrician, Sue Hubbard, writes about “Food Myths  & Your Baby.”  Dr. Hubbard emphasizes the need to introduce a variety of foods to children when they start eating solid foods. The myths relate to a nonexistent “forbidden” foods list parents should avoid in order to prevent their child from having an allergic reaction. 

New recommendations, from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), support Dr. Hubbard’s encouragement of including foods such as wheat, milk, eggs, fruits, nuts and shellfish in your child’s diet.

In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued guidelines that suggested children should put off having milk until age 1, eggs until age 2 and peanuts, shellfish and nuts until age 3. However, in 2008 the AAP revised those guidelines citing little evidence that delays prevented the development of food allergies. It didn’t say when and how to introduce such foods though.

The AAAAI’s recommendations address those concerns by suggesting foods that are considered highly allergic be slowly introduced –in small amounts- after first foods such as cereals, fruits and vegetables have been eaten and tolerated. Babies can be introduced to the more allergic type foods as long as they are prepared correctly. Foods should be mushy and easy for an infant to eat or in the case of eggs and fruits cut into very small pieces.

"There's been more studies that find that if you introduce them early it may actually prevent food allergy," said David Fleischer, co-author of the article and a pediatric allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver. "We need to get the message out now to pediatricians, primary-care physicians and specialists that these allergenic foods can be introduced early."

The theory behind introducing foods, that are considered the most likely to cause an allergic reaction, early and in small doses is that children may actually be able to build up immunity to them. If introduction is delayed, their immune systems may treat them as foreign substances and attack them, resulting in an allergy.

Dr. Fleischer believes more study results are needed before there is any conclusive evidence that early introduction actually prevents allergies. There are several trials currently under way and the highly anticipated results should be available next year.

Lots of children suffer from food allergies. In the U.S. approximately 6 million children or 8% have one or more food allergies. They also seem to be on the rise and experts are not sure why. One possible explanation from some experts is that westernized countries have become more hygienic. Children don't have the same exposure to germs, which affects the development of the immune system.

Vitamin D may also play a role. In a study out this week in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers took blood samples from more than 5,000 babies and found that those with low vitamin D levels were three times more likely to have a food allergy.

The new recommendations from the AAAAI committee say an allergist should be consulted in cases when an infant has eczema that is difficult to control, or an existing food allergy. For children who have a sibling with a peanut allergy—and have a 7% greater risk of a peanut allergy—parents may request an evaluation but the risks of introducing peanut at home in infancy are low, the recommendations noted.

Food allergies can cause severe reactions and should never be taken lightly. If you are interested in introducing highly allergic food into your child’s diet – to give your child’s immune system a boost- talk with your pediatrician about his or hers recommended method.

Sources: http://www.kidsdr.com/daily-dose/food-myths-your-baby

Sumathi Reddy, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324662404578334423524696016.html

Your Baby

New Moms Are Overspending on Baby Products.

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According to a new study, moms are feeling tremendous pressure to purchase expensive and soon –to –be outgrown brand name clothing for their infants. Moms are also overspending on formula because they tend to choose a name brand over a store brand.

Researchers found that mothers are cutting back in nearly every other area of their lives so they can buy brand names.

The “Brand” New Mom study of more than 1,900 moms, conducted by Kelton Research, found that today’s new mom often makes decisions based on guilt rather than practicality, even when it is clearly proven that a high-profile brand offers no clear benefits over other far less expensive options.

Why do they do it?

The study found one major reason is the confusing and anxiety-producing advertising and promotional messages that are everywhere.  New moms are particularly vulnerable. Their hormones are still adjusting, they are doing their best to take care of a newborn that wakes up all night, and many moms are scared of making a decision that might actually harm their baby. They are the perfect targets for creative advertising agencies. Who doesn’t want “the best” for their baby?

58 percent of expectant first-time moms admit they are consumed by thoughts about what products they need to buy their babies every day, and nearly 37 percent of moms express overall guilt about not being able to afford a specific baby product.

The economy is also adding to mom’s stress load.

- 59 % said they are worried about their personal financial situation.

- 53% confess that thoughts about their baby product budget plague them on a daily basis.

Moms may be stressing, but they are still overspending on name brand products. Three-quarters of moms surveyed have recently cut back on dining out, clothing for themselves, and entertainment. Only 13 percent have taken the same savings measures for their impending or new baby.

This study found that 85 percent of moms are far more tuned into ads related to babies or pregnancy than those with any other subject matter, and this increased attention to advertising can produce emotional stress. When it comes to this constant bombardment of baby-related advertising: 23% feel overwhelmed. 20 % feel anxious. 20% feel confused. And 35% of experienced moms admit that because of advertising they spent more than they had originally planned when their first child was a baby.

“This study sheds light on what moms are going through from both an emotional and economic standpoint,” said Sandra Gordon, national baby products expert and author of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products, 10th edition. “Moms are so intent on absorbing as much baby-related information as possible, and making the right purchasing decisions, that it can be easy to overlook inexpensive options that are just as safe and effective for their baby.”

More than half of moms are much more likely to buy store brands for household products, but don’t feel comfortable substituting store bands when it comes to their baby.

Less than 25% said they were open to buying store brand formula.

Baby formula is one of those products that some moms really struggle with. 43% say they feel guilty for using formula instead of breastfeeding their infant - which may be one of the reasons moms are willing to overspend on brand name formula. The other reason may be they just don’t trust that store brands are as good for their baby.

“These numbers are very consistent with what I see in my practice, and a clear indication of the challenges today’s mom faces with regard to the barrage of advertising messages she regularly sees,” said Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “We know that when it comes to taking care of babies, breastfeeding is considered the gold standard. The reality, however, is that 80 percent of moms will use formula at some point, and it is not something they should feel guilty about. Also, they certainly don’t need to buy the most expensive formula just to alleviate that guilt.”

The study found that 68% of moms believed that the more expensive the formula the better the quality. 49% of new first-time moms believe name brand formulas offer more nutrition.

Is either one of these beliefs true? No.
The key, Dr. Trachtenberg said, is to educate moms with the facts on formula and provide them with all of their options, rather than making a decision based on which brand is the most heavily advertised and may be the highest priced.

“According to the Infant Formula Act, all infant formulas manufactured in the United States must contain the same key nutrients and adhere to the same quality and safety guidelines. This survey found that less than a quarter of the moms were willing to buy store brand formulas, which indicates that there is a significant knowledge gap. Far too many families are spending twice as much as they need to for infant formula, just to get a brand that is advertised,” said Dr. Trachtenberg. “Just like generic prescription medications have changed the healthcare landscape by proving more expensive does not mean better, store brand formulas can play a huge role in helping parents take the best possible care of their babies, as well as their budgets.”

New moms have a lot on their plate, as well as new dads.  Both are experiencing a life changing series of moments that revolve around a totally dependent infant. That’s actually the good news. Overspending on baby products is not going to ease the stress, and it’s not going to be better for baby. Don’t worry you’ll get the hang of parenting. For now you can spend less on clothing, diapers and formula and give yourself and your budget a break.

Source: http://media.prnewswire.com/en/jsp/latest.jsp?resourceid=4966025&access=EH

Your Baby

Folic Acid Study and Healthy Newborns

Folic acid, sometimes called folate, is a B vitamin (B9) found mostly in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, orange juice, and enriched grains. Repeated studies have shown that women who get 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) daily prior to conception and during early pregnancy reduce the risk that their baby will be born with a serious neural tube defect by up to 70%.Making sure that you get enough folic acid, during pregnancy, is one of the most important things you can do to help prevent birth defects.

Groundbreaking work by a team of UK scientists has identified, for the first time, a link between changes in the DNA of newborn babies, folic acid supplementation during pregnancy, and birth weight. This state-of-the-art 'epigenetic' study, from scientists funded by the World Cancer Research Fund, showed that the levels of a critical metabolite of folic acid, homocysteine, in the blood of newborn babies is linked to modifications of their DNA in key genes and that such modifications might be used to predict birth weight. Supplementation with the vitamin, folic acid during pregnancy is known to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain and spinal cord) such as spina bifida. It also protects against low birth weight, which has numerous short- and long-term consequences. It has been suggested that folic acid, though its metabolism to chemicals such as homocysteine, might secure these clinical effects via DNA methylation. The Fetal Epigenomics Group, led by Professor William Farrell, Professor of Human Genomics, Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine at the University of Keele,  examined the relationship between folic acid supplementation and its metabolites on DNA methylation in human blood from the umbilical cord, using a state-of-the-art 'microarray' techniques which simultaneously examines methylation at over 27,000 sites in the DNA. Professor Farrell said: "It has been known for many years that folic acid supplementation is essential for women during pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and low birth weight delivery. However, we had little idea as to how this worked. This study is the first to suggest that methylation of particular genes in the baby's DNA may be the key to unlocking the secret of the action of folic acid. " "Now we have identified which genes might be the link between folic acid and birth weight, we have opened the door to research that may allow doctors to predict the likelihood of low birth weight with greater certainty. Furthermore, it sheds light on the underlying causes of low birth weight and offers the potential to intervene earlier to prevent poor pregnancy outcomes such as premature delivery and pregnancy loss." Folic acid, sometimes called folate, is a B vitamin (B9) found mostly in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, orange juice, and enriched grains. Repeated studies have shown that women who get 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) daily prior to conception and during early pregnancy reduce the risk that their baby will be born with a serious neural tube defect by up to 70%.

Your Baby

Prenatal Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Lead to Asthma

Exposure to traffic pollution in the womb may cause genetic changes that increase a child's risk of developing asthma say U.S. researchers. The researchers studied the umbilical cord blood from New York City children and found evidence of a possible biomarker, which is an alteration in the gene ACSL3 which is associated with prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAH is created as byproducts of incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels such as gasoline.

PAH levels are high in heavy-traffic areas and exposure to PAHs has been linked to such diseases as cancer and childhood asthma. The findings are published in the February 16, 2009 issue of PLoS One. They offer a potential clue for predicting environmentally-related asthma in children, particularly to those born to mothers who live in high-traffic areas said the researchers. "Understanding early predictors of asthma is an important area of investigation because they represent potential clinical targets for intervention," study co-author Dr. Rachel Miller, director of the asthma project at Mailman's Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, said in a news release.

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Your Baby

Newborn Safety Tips

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If you’re expecting, you may have already begun decorating your baby’s room with a crib, rocking chair, mobile and changing table. While it’s tempting to fill your newborn’s crib with stuffed animals, blankets, pillows or toys - bare is the safest route to go.

The Consumer Protection and Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends removing pillows, quilts, comforters or cushions from your baby’s crib, bassinet or play yard.

Many times cribs are handed down from friends and family members. It’s a good idea to give a second hand crib a thorough inspection. Always use a crib that meets current CPSC standards. Newer standards have stringent requirements for various parts of the crib, such as mattress supports, slats, and hardware.

CPSC offers a three minute video on their website outlining safe sleep tips for infants. You can watch the video at http://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/Multimedia/?vid=61784.

A few of the tips included in the video are:

  • Never place your crib up against a window with blinds. A window can create a fall hazard and blind cords can cause strangulation.
  • To prevent suffocation, remove pillows and thick quilts. A baby’s face can become pressed into these items and stop the flow of air into his or her lungs. 
  • Make sure there are no gaps larger than two fingers between the sides of the crib and the mattress.
  • Make sure your crib has a firm mattress and fits tightly into the crib on all four sides.
  • Do not use cribs older than 10 years or broken or modified cribs. Infants can strangle to death if their bodies pass through gaps between loose components or broken slats while their heads remain entrapped.

Many new parents worry about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  There can be numerous contributors to the cause of SIDS, but in 1992 doctors discovered the key reason was stomach sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched the “Back to Sleep” campaign to educate parents on the dangers of placing their baby on their stomach or side to sleep.  

  • Place your baby on his or her back to help prevent suffocation. Baby’s placed on their side tend to roll over onto their stomach – pressing their face into the mattress.
  • Never place your baby on top of pillows or comforters.
  • Never fall asleep with your baby in bed with you. A parent who is sleeping may unknowingly roll over on their infant and cause their baby to suffocate.
  • Overheating is a known cause of SIDS. Make sure your infant is not over-wrapped or dressed in clothing that is too heavy for the temperature in the room. Your baby may be too hot if you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash or rapid breathing.
  • Place your baby’s crib in a cigarette smoke-free room.
  • Don’t place your baby on a chair, sofa, waterbed or an adult mattress to sleep alone.

A large number of cribs are recalled due to faulty parts. Often these cribs are imported. Make sure your crib hasn’t been recalled by checking the CPSC website. Parents and caregivers can sign up to receive emails on recalls pertaining to infants and children at cpsc.gov, keepingbabiessafe.org, or aap.org.

To keep your baby warm, dress him or her in footed pajamas. If your baby needs more warmth, use a baby “sleeping bag.” Infant sleeping bags remove the need for blankets and can help prevent baby from rolling onto his tummy during sleep. They can be used from birth for babies who don't like being wrapped. Or they can be used from the time when baby resists wrapping or becomes too old for it (usually around 4 months or as soon as he can roll onto his tummy).

Look for sleeping bags that have a fitted neck, armholes or sleeves and no hood.

In warmer months, a lightweight footed-sleeper is good or a “Onesie,” a one-piece shirt that snaps over a diaper.  

Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor if you have any questions about caring for your infant. It’s a new experience for parents and you don’t receive a baby manual when you leave the hospital. Doctors have heard any question you may have, so there are no silly or stupid questions when it comes to your baby’s safety!

Sources; http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx

http://www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/cribs/

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