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Your Baby

Pets and Kids = Healthy Combo

1:45 to read

Lots of couples think if they’re expecting a baby, they’ll have to get rid of their pets because of dander, dirt and hair. Actually a new study shows that kids and pets are a healthy combo.

According to a recent study from Finland, kids who grew up with dogs or cats tended to have fewer respiratory infections during their first year.

Researchers followed 397 children from pregnancy through their first year of life, and found that those living with dogs developed 31 percent fewer respiratory tract symptoms or infections, 44 percent fewer ear infections and received 29 percent fewer antibiotic prescriptions.

Cats also proved to be beneficial buddies although not as dramatically as dogs. Infants living with cats were still less likely to need antibiotics, but only by 2 percent. Researchers offered an opinion on why that might be.

“We speculated that maybe the dogs somehow can bring dirt or soil inside the house, and then the immune system is strengthened, or maybe it’s something about the animals themselves," said study researcher Dr. Eija Bergroth, a pediatrician at the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland.

The link between pets and fewer infections held even when researchers took into account factors known to affect infants’ infection rates – such as breast-feeding and number of siblings. Still, the researchers acknowledged that couldn't account for all such factors, and noted that they found a correlation, not a cause-and-effect relationship.

Of the 397 children participating in the study, 35 percent lived in homes with dogs, and 24 percent lived with cats. The scientists also included pet contact outside the home.

"According to our results, there’s no reason to be afraid of animal contact, or to avoid them," Bergroth said. While many people preparing to have a child attempt to create an extremely hygienic environment, Bergroth said, the results show this may not be the best choice, because the immune system is not challenged. 

This train of thought ties into previous studies that have shown that kids who live in a “too –clean” environment have more colds, infections, allergies and asthma than kids who live on farms or play outside a lot. The study’s findings could imply that a pet offers an environment that challenges a young child’s immune system and helps it grow stronger.

Bergroth said she hopes the research will stop people from thinking that if "they’re having children, they should get rid of animals."

Bergroth emphasized that the children studied lived in rural or suburban areas, so the study results may not translate to urban children. But she also said that urban pets may not track in the same dirt.

Of course there are lots of other reasons that you might want to share your home with a pet, but it’s nice to know that your dog or cat (or both!) could also help your child’s immune system develop into a germ-fighting machine.

Source: http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/2814-pets-infants-health.html

Your Baby

Safer Baby Cribs

1.45 to read

New rules by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are established to keep your baby safer while sleeping in their crib.Babies spend most of their time sleeping, and the safest place to drift off into dreamland should be their crib.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to approve new mandatory standards for full-size and non-full-size baby cribs as mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). The federal crib standards had not been updated in nearly 30 years and these new rules are expected to usher in a safer generation of cribs. Once they become effective, the mandatory crib standards will: (1) stop the manufacture and sale of dangerous, traditional drop-side cribs; (2) make mattress supports stronger; (3) make crib hardware more durable; and (4) make safety testing more rigorous. CPSC has recalled more than 11 million dangerous cribs since 2007. Detaching drop-side rails were associated with at least 32 infant suffocation and strangulation deaths since 2000. Additional deaths have occurred due to faulty or defective hardware. These new standards aim to prevent these tragedies and keep children safe in their cribs. Effective June- 2011, cribs manufactured, sold, or leased in the United States must comply with the new federal standards. Effective 24 months after the rule is published, child care facilities, such as family child care homes and infant Head Start centers, and places of public accommodation, such as hotels and motels, must have compliant cribs in their facilities. The full-size and non-full-size crib standards adopted the current ASTM International voluntary standards with additional technical modifications. The rule will be among the toughest in the world, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenebaum said. Tenenbaum has made crib safety one of the biggest priorities at the CPSC in her 18-month tenure. Her “safe sleep” initiative is broader than the crib rule, encouraging parents to place sleeping infants on their backs and warning about the risk of suffocation from soft bedding. The regulations approved today will result in cribs with tighter fittings and more durable sides and mattress supports. Tougher tests will be used to simulate wear over time. A trio of child-care industry groups -- the National Head Start Association , the National Association for Family Child Care and the Early Care and Education Consortium -- puts the price tag for replacing cribs at $600 million. “Parents and caregivers should have peace of mind that when they leave their baby in a crib that their baby will be safe,” said Rachel Weintraub, product safety director for the Consumer Federation of America. “For too long, that has not been the case.” The need for the tougher testing was evident for years before Congress acted, said Nancy Cowles, executive director of Chicago-based “Kids in Danger”, an advocacy group. Aside from the drop-side design, other kinds of hardware failures have resulted in fatalities, she said. Cribs made under the new rule will be much safer than existing models, even ones that have been repaired through recalls, Cowles said. “There’s going to be a huge difference in how sturdy these cribs are,” she said.

Your Baby

Acetaminophen May Raise Asthma Risk

A new study shows infants who have been given acetaminophen may have a higher risk of developing asthma and eczema by the time they are six or seven.A new study out shows that infants who have been given the common pain reliever acetaminophen may have a higher risk of developing asthma and eczema by the time they are six or seven. The study of over 200-thousand children in 31 countries, published in the journal Lancet, found that acetaminophen use in the first year of life was associated with a 46 percent higher risk of asthma by the time the children were six or seven compared to those never exposed to the drug.

Medium use of acetaminophen in the past 12 months increased asthma risk by 61 percent, which high dosages of once a month or more in the past year raised the risk by three times. The study defined medium use as once per year or more but less than once a month. "Acetaminophen can reduce antioxidant levels and ...that can give oxidative stress in the lungs and cause asthma," says one of the researchers, Richard Beasley with the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand. Researchers emphasize that acetaminophen should remain the preferred drug to relieve pain and fever in children because one of the alternatives, aspirin, is linked to the risk of Reye's Syndrome, a rare but serious complication in children. "The findings do lend support to the current guidelines of the World Health Organization, which recommend that acetaminophen should not be used routinely, but should be reserved for children with a high fever" the researchers wrote.

Your Baby

Does Your Unborn Baby Hear You?

2.00 to read

More than twenty years ago I remember reading that fetuses can learn to recognize their mothers and father’s voices and then respond to those voices as newborns. I thought… well maybe… but it seemed to me that voices from outside of the womb would sound muffled from inside. Of course, I don’t remember my in utero experience so I don’t really know how words sound.

Over the years though, scientists have continued to examine how and what babies learn before they are born.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland have determined that fetuses not only hear and recognize voices but they can become familiar with different words and different pitches used when saying those words.

The study involved 33 moms-to-be, and examined their babies after birth. While pregnant, 17 mothers listened at a loud volume to a CD with (2), four-minute sequences of the made-up words “tatata” or “tatota.” The words were said with several different pitches. The moms-to-be listened to the recordings beginning at 29 weeks of pregnancy -about 7 months along- until birth. They heard them around 50 to 71 times.

Following birth, researchers tested the babies for normal hearing and then performed an electroencephalograph (EEG) brain scan to see if the newborns would respond to the made-up words and different pitches. And sure enough, the brain scans showed increased activity from the babies who had been listening to the CD in utero when the words were played to them after birth. Not only did they respond to the words, but also seemed to recognize the different pitches used when they heard them.  

The babies born to the mothers who had not listened to the CDs while pregnant showed little reaction to the words or pitches.

 “We have known that fetuses can learn certain sounds from their environment during pregnancy,” Eino Partanen, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper, said via email.

“We can now very easily assess the effects of fetal learning on a very detailed level—like in our study, [we] look at the learning effects to very small changes in the middle of a word.”

Some experts believe the finding shows that not only can a third-trimester fetus hear and recognize voices; he or she can also detect subtle changes and process complex information.

“Interestingly, this prenatal exposure also helped the newborns to detect changes which they were not exposed to: the infants who have received additional prenatal stimulation could also detect loudness changes in pseudo words but the unexposed infants could not,” Partanen says.

“However, both groups did have responses to vowel changes (which are very common in Finnish, and which newborns have been many time previously been shown to be capable of).”

You may be wondering why is it even important that scientists know if fetuses can recognize voices or words.  Partanen says because sounds heard in utero may shape the developing human brain in ways that affect speech and language development after birth.

“The better we know how the fetus’ brain works, the more we’ll know about early development of language,” Partanen says. “If we know better how language develops very early, we may one day be able to develop very early interventions [for babies with abnormal development].” 

An abstract for the Finnish study is published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website.

Does talking and singing to your baby before it’s born actually stimulate his or her brain activity and increase language learning? Some experts say definitely yes, others say it has no impact. But really, most moms and dads enjoy baby bump bonding whether it’s productive or not. And who knows, maybe your pre-born hears you loud and clear. 

Source: Meghan Holohan, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/unborn-babies-are-hearing-you-loud-clear-8C11005474

Your Baby

Beech-Nut Recalls Baby Food Due to Pieces of Glass

1:00

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

Controversial Time Magazine Cover

1:45 to read

You’ve probably either seen or heard about the current Time magazine cover with the photograph of a mother breastfeeding her 3 year-old son.  It’s definitely stirring up a lot of debate.  Some people think the photo is inappropriate. Some are “grossed out.” Other folks are wondering how the child will deal with the sudden- and thanks to the Internet- eternal notoriety. Then there’s the debate over breast milk versus formula.

Most of the comments I have read are by women with the occasional man wondering if years of breastfeeding are ruining the mother’s breast. Images certainly can spur a myriad of reactions.

The actual article that the photo is supposed to represent is about attachment parenting. Attachment parenting has come into vogue through the writings of Dr. Bill Sears and his wife Martha. Their book, The Baby Book, was published in 1992, and promotes extended breast-feeding, co-sleeping and “baby wearing,” in which infants are physically attached to their parents by slings. But a lot of people are having a hard time getting pass the cover to read the article.

Another debate the photo has inspired is "how old is too old" for a child to breastfeed?

Personally I think that’s a parent’s choice. I’ve known mothers who breastfed till their child was 3, others who breastfed from 6 months to a year, and others who didn’t breastfeed at all. All the children are doing well.

Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby. Not every mom can or wants to breastfeed her child, but there are plenty of good reasons to give it a try.

Breast milk contains all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, and it is easily digested. Also, breast milk contains antibodies that help protect infants from a wide variety of infectious diseases, including diarrhea. Studies suggest that breastfed babies are less likely to develop certain medical problems, including diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, and allergies. Breastfeeding may also decrease the chances that the child will become overweight or obese.

Those are all very good reasons for mothers to breastfeed their children.

There are times however, when breastfeeding isn’t recommended. Sometimes a mother's health can interfere with her ability to breastfeed. For example, a mother undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, or a mom who is infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the virus that causes AIDS) should not breastfeed.

If you have a medical condition or take any medications on a regular basis, you should check with your doctor before breastfeeding. Mothers with inverted nipples can have a difficult time breastfeeding.

How long should you breastfeed? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

Is the Time magazine cover making a positive or negative statement about breastfeeding, or is it just a clever way to get publicity and sell magazines? I think we know the answer to that.

Sources: http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/feeding/feednewborn.html

http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/index.htm

Your Baby

Frequent Feedings May Make Babies Fat

Mothers who fail to notice signs that their babies are full tend to overfeed them, resulting in excess weight gain when the infants are between six months and a year old a new study says. Researchers from Rutgers University looked at 96 low-income black and Hispanic mothers who formula-fed their babies. The mothers recorded information about their babies' feedings and researchers visited the mothers when the infants were three, six and 12 months old to observe feedings and to weigh the babies.

The study then looked at a number of possible variables linked to infant weight gain and found that the number of feedings a day at six months approached significance in predicting weight gain from six to 12 months. It also found that mothers who were less sensitive to signals that their babies were full had infants who gained more weight. "More frequent feedings, particularly with formula, are an easy culprit on which to assign blame," the researchers wrote. But a mother's "unwillingness to slow the pace of feedings or terminate the feeding when the infant shows satiation cues may be overriding the infant's ability to self-regulate its intake," they said. The researchers said that changing a mother's feeding habits could be extremely challenging. "Feeding an infant is a primal behavior, and to suggest to a new mother that she is feeding her infant too often, too much or, worse yet, is not very good at reading her infant's signals would require an extremely skilled nurse or social worker," they said. "Giving counsel after watching a mother feed her infant might be seen as threatening or, at the very least, meddling, and just pointing it out could be construed as an accusation of 'poor mothering.'"

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Your Baby

Higher ADHD Risks Linked to Premature Births

2:00

The risk that a child will have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is relatively low among the general population. However, a new study suggests that the more premature a baby is when born; the risk for ADHD increases significantly.

Finnish researchers led by Dr. Minna Sucksdorff of the University of Turku compared more than 10,000 children with ADHD against more than 38,000 children without ADHD but similar in terms of gender, birth date and place of birth.

The researchers used birth medical records to see how far along in the pregnancy the mother was when the child was born. They also looked at whether the children were underweight or overweight for what is expected at that gestational age.

The study results showed that the risk of ADHD increased for each week earlier that a child was born. A full-term pregnancy is considered to be 40 weeks.

The odds of children with ADHD were 10 times greater when they were born during the 23rd to 24th week of pregnancy. Children born between the 27th and 33rd week of pregnancy were twice as likely to have ADHD compared to those without ADHD.

Other factors that affect gestational age and ADHD were also taken in account such as the mother’s age and whether she smoked or used drugs or alcohol. After these considerations, the findings remained the same.

In regards to birth weight, researchers found that infants born at very low or very high weight percentages were also at a higher risk for ADHD.

These findings imply that the pathways in the fetal brain may develop differently in children who are not adequately nourished, or are over-nourished, in the womb, or once a child is delivered prematurely, said Dr. Glen Elliott, chief psychiatrist and medical director of Children's Health Council in Palo Alto, Calif.

However, he added, this type of study cannot show that premature birth or growth rate in the womb actually causes ADHD. Symptoms of the common brain disorder include inattention, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity, which can affect a child's ability to learn and make friends.

Most early cesarean births happen because a mother and / or her infant are in distress and surgery is needed to protect one or the other or both of their health. Planned cesareans are typically scheduled close to the original due date and are unlikely to be associated to ADHD risk. However, the findings may give doctors something to consider when making a decision about cesarean birth.

"Since both gestational weight and gestational age have marked effects, clinicians may face difficult choices if a fetus is not thriving in the womb at an early gestational age," Elliott said. "Does one deliver the child early to enhance nutrition or delay to minimize the effects of premature delivery?"

The risk is still low overall that a child will have ADHD, and these findings are based on a child's relative risk of having the condition compared to others, Elliott added. The study suggests that the chance for ADHD appears to be greatest among the very premature babies.

The findings were published in the August 24th online edition of  the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Tara Haelle, http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20150824/adhd-risk-rises-for-each-week-a-preemie-is-born-early

Your Baby

Babies Seem to Sense Who Is Boss

1.45 to read

These reactions suggest people are either born with -- or develop at a very early age -- some understanding about social dominance and how it relates to comparative size, an association found in human and animal cultures alike.Is “Might makes right” a natural belief system? New research seems to suggest that even infants believe that during a conflict, the bigger opponent wins the battle.

Scientists from Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted five experiments on 144 infants ranging from 8 months to 16 months old, gauging their reactions to videos of interactions between cartoon figures of various sizes. When a larger figure yielded to a smaller one -- an unexpected outcome -- the babies watched much longer, an average of 20 seconds compared to 12 seconds, study author Lotte Thomsen said. Previous studies indicated that infants tend to watch something longer when it surprises them. These reactions suggest people are either born with -- or develop at a very early age -- some understanding about social dominance and how it relates to comparative size, an association found in human and animal cultures alike, Thomsen said. "To us, this is one of many studies that suggests that babies come into the world with a quite sophisticated set of basic conceptual building blocks that they use to make sense of the world and learn about it," said Thomsen, a research fellow in Harvard's department of psychology and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Copenhagen. "Learning this is crucial to get along in the social world humans create together and -- ultimately -- crucial for surviving and prospering and having healthy offspring," she added. "So, it would be possible for evolution to pre-program us in ways that help us discover the kinds of social relationships that surround us." The study is reported in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Science. The videos used in the research depicted a large and small block with eyes and a mouth bouncing across a stage in opposite directions. Infants watched the two blocks meet in the middle, impeding one another's progress. They then saw either the large or the small block bow and step aside, deferring to the other. The babies' reactions indicated that 8-month-olds failed to grasp the significance of the larger block deferring to the smaller one, the study said. But those aged 10 months to 16 months consistently demonstrated surprise at depictions of the larger yielding to the smaller, suggesting this conceptual understanding develops between 8 and 10 months of age. Thomsen noted that the animal world is rife with examples of size-related dominance, such as birds and cats that puff up to look physically larger to adversaries, or dogs that prostrate themselves to demonstrate submission. "Bigger animals tend to be more dominant, and being dominant and having priority to get the lion's share of resources may make each individual even bigger," Thomsen said. "Interestingly, it also goes together in human languages and cultural practices. We speak and think about a 'big' leader . . . or the 'little' man on the street that is getting 'stepped on.' We also prostrate or bow to show respect to gods and superiors." George Hollich, an infant researcher and an associate professor of developmental psychology at Purdue University, said the new study adds to the understanding of infants by suggesting they may be aware of social rank based on size alone. Does this mean babies feel their larger parent is dominant? "It means they might start out with that bias," Hollich said. "I think they're sort of learning this somewhere in their environment. If the smaller parent is always in charge, they'll see that after awhile."

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