Your Baby

May Conception at Higher Risk for Premature Birth

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Is there ever really a perfect time to start a family? If you’re in the planning stage or wanting to grow your family you might want to rule out the month of May for conception. 

Why May you ask? According to a recent study, children conceived in the month of May have a 10% higher risk of being born premature.

The study authors believe that may be a function of the expectant mother's increased exposure to the seasonal flu during January and February, exactly when a baby conceived in May is nearing term.  

"We were surprised that the relationship between potential flu exposure and premature birth appears to be so evident in the data," said study author Janet Currie, director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. "There has been some recent work suggesting that flu can induce premature labor in women late in pregnancy, and our results appear to corroborate this."

Currie also added that if mothers-to-be received a flu shot they might not be at risk for premature labor due to flu infection.  While the study did provide an association between conception in the month of May and premature births, it did not prove a direct cause-and-effect.

To explore the potential impact of conception timing on infant health, the researchers analyzed data on roughly 647,000 mothers in the northeastern region of the United States. All the women had given birth to more than one child.

In addition to dates of birth and lengths of pregnancies, the data included information on maternal weight changes, race, education and smoking history.

The research team noted that by looking solely at the conception-to-birth experience of more than 1.4 million siblings (as opposed to non-related babies), they were able to compare apples to apples, and sidestep other complicating factors that might influence prematurity risk, such as a family's wealth or educational background.

The result: The authors identified a "sharp trough" in the length of pregnancies that began in May.

In addition to reviewing month-by-month conception records, researchers studied post-1997 influenza data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and found a correlation between May conceptions and a significant increase in flu exposure during the third trimester of those pregnancies.

If you’re thinking about conceiving in the summer months, the research team found that those babies tended to weigh little bit more at birth than babies conceived at other times of the year. In the world of newborn babies, even an ounce can make a positive difference in health.

"The birth weight results suggest that infants conceived during the summer have higher birth weight in part because mothers tend to gain more weight during pregnancy when they conceive in summer," Currie said. "It seems likely that this is because they have a better diet, though we cannot directly observe that in our data.”

"We cannot rule out other factors that might also be important for pregnancy outcomes," she said. "But we think the message of our paper is that parents should take steps to guard against known problems," suggesting that the most practical thing pregnant women can do is simply eat well and get a seasonal flu shot. "That would probably be a more sensible approach then trying to time conception to avoid May."

Too many mother’s-to-be avoid getting flu shots because they fear that the vaccine my cause their baby harm. Studies have shown that the vaccine is perfectly safe for pregnant women.

The take away from this study appears to be that if you’re planning on getting pregnant – make sure that you are protected from influenza infection by getting the flu vaccine.  If possible, you might want to avoid conceiving in the month of May, and if you want a little bigger baby- try for the summer months.

Source: Alan Mozes, http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20130708/month-of-conception-might-raise-...

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

Gum Disease Treatment Safe For Pregnant Women

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Dentist have also been concerned that by aggressively treating gum disease patients with teeth cleaning, bacteria could get into the pregnant woman’s bloodstream causing harm to the baby. But those fears are baseless, the new study shows.Pregnant women can safely be treated for gum infections without having to worry about their baby's health, according to a new study.

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Gum disease, caused by a bacterial infection that breaks down gum tissue and can cause tooth loss and serious health problems, is a particular problem during pregnancy. Hormonal changes appear to make a pregnant woman more susceptible to developing gum disease, yet the standard antibiotic-based therapy is not recommended because it stains the baby's teeth. Dentist have also been concerned that by aggressively treating gum disease patients with teeth cleaning, bacteria could get into the pregnant woman’s bloodstream causing harm to the baby. But those fears are baseless, the new study shows. "Women can be confident that it's not going to have clinically meaningful effects on their child's development," said Dr. Bryan Michalowicz, whose findings are published in the journal Pediatrics. Michalowicz, a dentist at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in Minneapolis, and his colleagues tested more than 400 two-year-olds, who'd been born to mothers with gum disease. Half the mothers had been treated with aggressive teeth cleaning, called scaling and planning, during pregnancy, while the rest had not. The researchers found the kids did just as well on language, motor and mental tests regardless of whether their mothers had been treated. On the other hand, treatment didn't seem to benefit the kids either. That was the researchers' original hypothesis, because earlier studies have linked gum disease to developmental delays. "We asked the question, does treatment of periodontal disease in pregnant women improve child development?" said Michalowicz. "We found it doesn't." The researchers did find a slight increase in toddlers' test scores when the mothers' gum disease improved. But the effect was so small it doesn't have any practical consequences, they say. Nonetheless, he said, "As a dentist I think that improving oral health is a goal in its own right." Bad oral health in pregnant women has long been suspected as a link to miscarriages. A 2010 study published by the British journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, reveals the case of a 35 year-old woman who had the common gum disease gingivitis. She delivered a stillborn baby at 39 weeks and doctors were able to trace the oral bacteria in the mother’s mouth to bacteria found in the baby’s bloodstream, lungs and stomach. Scientists believe that any disruption to the amniotic fluid, the liquid that surrounds an unborn baby, could pose a risk to both mother and baby making the infection from gum disease a real risk. Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, a dentist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who wasn't involved in the Minnesota School of Dentistry study, said it couldn't rule out that treatment might benefit the baby in some cases. "You need to have a higher risk population in order to draw a conclusion," she told Reuters Health. "I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that we should let periodontal disease run rampant in pregnant women." But, she added, women should try to maintain good oral health in the first place. "They need to use a soft toothbrush and floss the right way," wrapping the floss around the tooth, she said. "The first goal with almost all dental disease is prevention, prevention, prevention.” The following guidelines were developed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, in response to the growing concern surrounding oral health during pregnancy: - Oral Health Education - Counseling and early intervention by healthcare providers such as physicians, nurses, and dentists to provide expectant mothers with the tools and resources necessary to understand the importance of oral health care during pregnancy. - Oral Hygiene - Removing the bacterial plaque, which researchers have connected to preterm birth and low birth-weight babies, is essential. Using the correct brushing and flossing methods greatly increase the amount of plaque that is removed from the teeth and gums. - Fluoride - The American Dental Association recommends the use of toothpaste with fluoride by persons over the age of six. Echoing their sentiment, the AAP oral health guidelines advise the continued use of fluoridated toothpaste during pregnancy, and recommends the use of an over-the-counter alcohol-free fluoride rinse to help reduce the amount of plaque in the mouth. - Nutrition - Educating expectant mothers about proper diet and nutrition during pregnancy will limit unnecessary sugar intake and in turn, prevent plaque build up. Talk with your dentist or pediatrician. - Treating Existing Tooth Decay - Expectant mothers are encouraged to have existing tooth decay treated during their pregnancy, which experts believe is a completely safe practice during pregnancy. Restoring decayed teeth will help achieve oral health by removing the bacteria associated with tooth decay. - Transmission of Bacteria - Expectant mothers are discouraged from sharing food and utensils in order to prevent the transmission of the bacteria known to cause tooth decay. - Use of Xylitol Gum - Expectant mothers are encouraged to chew Xylitol gum (four times a day) as research suggests that chewing this gum may decrease the rate of tooth decay in children.

Your Baby

Bacteria May Be Connected to Colic

A bacterium normally found in the mouth, skin and intestines might play a role in the cause of colic in babies, a new study says. Researchers found the bacterium Klebsiella along with gut inflammation in the intestines of all babies in their study who had colic, a condition characterized by uncontrollable crying.

"We believe that the bacterium may be sparking an inflammatory reaction, causing the gut inflammation," Dr. J. Marc Rhoads, a pediatrics professor at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and the study's lead investigator, said. "Inflammation in the gut of colicky infants closely compared to levels in patients with inflammatory bowel disease." He said it is possible that colic could lead to other gastrointestinal conditions in later life, such as irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease. Colic, which causes an otherwise healthy your-baby to cry and scream often and for long periods without any noticeable reason, has no medically grounded treatment or known cause, although bottle-fed babies seem to get it more often than breast-fed infants research shows. The condition often disappears as suddenly as it presents itself. "Colic can be a dangerous situation for a your-baby," Rhoads said. "The parents' frustration over the crying can lead to maternal frustration, post-partum depression and even thoughts of harming the your-baby." The study, published online in the Journal of Pediatrics, included 36 babies, both breast- and bottle-fed. About half had colic. The researchers found that babies without colic had more types of bacteria in their intestines, a sign that certain types of bacteria are beneficial to people, Rhoads said. He said the researchers plan further study, involving adults as well as infants, on Klebsiella and on whether probiotics, a dietary supplement of so-called good bacteria, could control the gut inflammation in colicky babies.

Your Baby

Recall: All J & J Infant Tylenol

1.45 to read

Johnson & Johnson is recalling its entire U.S. supply of infant Tylenol Oral Suspension 1 oz. Grape, after parents complained about problems with its new dosing syringe.

The recall involves about 574,000 bottles of the grape –flavored liquid Tylenol for children younger than 2 years old.

Parents have reported that the Tylenol “SimpleMeasure™” dosing system is flawed and difficult to use. 

“SimpleMeasure™” includes a dosing syringe, which a parent or caregiver inserts into a protective cover, or “flow restrictor,” at the top of the bottle to measure the proper dose.  In some cases, the flow restrictor was pushed into the bottle when inserting the syringe. 

When parents inserted a syringe into the bottle, some accidentally pushed a protective cover inside.

To date, J&J has received 17 complaints, company spokeswoman Bonnie Jacobs said.

No serious side effects from the infant Tylenol have been reported.

A J & J spokesperson said the risk of such problems are "remote. "

The recall is from stores and wholesalers; consumers can still use the product provided that the protective cover at the top of the bottle remains in place, J&J said.

The recall does not affect Tylenol for children 2 years and older, for which J&J also introduced a new but different design.

The Tylenol liquid formula for infants will be off the shelves for an indefinite time.

"We are looking for various alternatives for the redesign," Jacobs said. "Once we have reviewed those options, we will set a timeline for the product to return." The product was manufactured to specifications, so the company is investigating why it was not performing as expected, Jacobs said.

The new syringe was developed in response to calls from drug safety advocates and the FDA to provide more precise dosing systems for liquid children's medications, after studies showed that over- and under-dosing were common with spoons and cups.

If the flow restrictor is pushed into the bottle, the parent or caregiver should not use the product.  Consumers can request a refund by visiting www.tylenol.com or contacting McNeil at 1-888-222-6036 (Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time; Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time).  Parents and caregivers with any health questions or concerns should contact their healthcare provider and visit  www.tylenol.com for additional information.

Sources: http://www.tylenol.com/page2.jhtml?id=tylenol/news/subp_tylenol_recall_8.inc ... http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46427423/ns/health-childrens_health/t/infant-tylenol-recalled-over-flaw-dosing-system/#.T0Eoz5gzJnY

Recalled Infant Tylenol

Your Baby

Does Your Baby Need Water?

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Since most of the country is sweltering with summer heat and temperatures well into the upper 90’s and even over 100 degrees, I guess I can understand parents’ concerns about giving their babies water. It seemed like a strange question to me when I first started hearing, “Dr. Sue, how much water does my baby need to drink every day?”  I know I am continuing to talk about staying hydrated during the heat wave, but we are really talking about those children and adults who are spending time outdoors, especially when involved in physical activity.

I have actually been telling parents with newborns that there is really no reason to take that sweet new baby outside for any length of time. I think it is too hot to enjoy being outside, and an infant doesn’t miss going to the playground like a 2 or 3 year old would.

But, when you have young children you have to get out (or go crazy inside everyday), so everyone just suffers through the heat. Remember to take your sunscreen and fluids and head out for an hour or two, in the morning or later afternoon if at all possible. These children need lots of water breaks, as do their parents and caregivers.

So, back to the water and baby question. Infants in the first 6 months are getting fed breast milk or formula which is made up of free water, so therefore a baby is staying hydrated by eating every  2 -3 hours. A baby doesn’t “need” water every day for any particular reason.

With that being said, it does not mean that your baby cannot have a bottle of water. This is especially true for a breast fed infant whose mother may have run out for an hour but is coming back to breast feed.  But what if the baby awakens or gets hungry 30 min or so prior to mother getting home.  This might be a good time to “stall” by giving the baby a bottle of water, rather than formula. In this case it is fine to use tap water (yes bottled water is not necessary, unless you have a well or something) in a bottle and see if the baby will even take it. Most babies don’t just gulp down 8 ounces of water!

If you are out in the heat with an infant, just remember to feed them every 2 – 3 hours and make sure they have nice drool in their mouths and wet diapers. If you are concerned about hydration take along a bottle of water for both you and your baby. You will probably need it more than your baby!

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Baby

Early Pacifier Use Linked to Shorter Breastfeeding

Mothers who want better success on breastfeeding their your-baby may want to hold off on giving their newborn a pacifier. That's the result of a new study by researchers in Denmark. Drs. Hanne Kronborg and Michael Vaeth of the University of Aarhus found that women who gave their your-baby a pacifier in the first few weeks of life were less likely to continue breastfeeding their babies.

Researchers had registered nurses specially trained in breastfeeding counseling visit nearly 600 mother-your-baby pairs. At the visit, the nurse observed the mother breastfeeding. After the first visit, which occurred an average of eight days after the babies left the hospital, half of the mothers were having difficulty breastfeeding, most frequently with positioning the your-baby or latching on. Correcting a mother's breastfeeding technique during the visit did not have any influence on duration of breastfeeding the researchers found. Nearly two-thirds of the women reported giving their your-baby a pacifier. Pacifier use was associated with a shorter duration of breastfeeding, independent of breastfeeding technique. Use of the pacifier "should be avoided in the first weeks after birth by mothers who want to breastfeed," the researchers concluded. The study was published in the March 2009 issue of the medical journal Birth.

Your Baby

Harmful Bacteria in Online Breast Milk

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Some moms who are not able to nurse their babies and don’t want to feed their newborn formula, may turn to the Internet for help.They are able to purchase breast milk online or receive it free from mothers who have an abundant supply. But is the human milk bought and sold online safe for babies?

Not according to Sarah A. Keim, a researcher at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Her team purchased and tested 101 samples of breast milk from milk sharing websites. They found that almost three quarters probably weren't safe for babies, especially preemies.

A rise in milk sharing websites and ads promoting the buying and selling of mother’s milk peeked the researchers interest and left them wondering whether the milk being sold or donated online was actually safe for infants. The milk typically sells for $1.00 to $3.00 an ounce.

For the new study, 495 inquiries were sent to milk sharing websites. 191 sellers never replied and 41 stopped corresponding after one reply, Keim wrote. Some 79 sellers agreed to send milk but never followed through and eight accepted payment but didn’t send the promised product.

Of the 101 samples analyzed, 72 were contaminated with bacteria and would not have met criteria for feeding without pasteurization set by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, or HMBANA.

HMBANA is a network of milk banks that are typically set up by hospitals or health care providers. Breast milk is distributed to preemies and babies with medical conditions. Because of low supply, the exchange requires a medical prescription. All donors are strictly screened and medically tested, and the milk is pasteurized to prevent contamination that could harm a baby, said Kim Updegrove, the president of HMBANA.  That causes some slight loss of nutrition, she acknowledges, but reduces risk.

“I don’t think that the general public understands human milk as a bodily fluid that can relay dangerous bacteria and viruses,” she said.

Breast milk can transmit healthy bacteria and immune system boosting agents as well as serious infections such as HIV or tuberculosis or drugs in the mother’s system.

Seventy-four percent of the study samples either had disease-causing bacteria like E. coli or harmful levels of bacteria such as Streptococci. Those risks, combined with the evidence of harmful bacteria, should make new moms think twice about buying milk from strangers, Updegrove said.

In about 20 percent of the samples, cytomegalovirus, or CMV, which can cause serious illness in premature or sick babies, was detected. The contamination was associated with poor milk collection, storage or shipping practices, the analysis showed.

The problem, Keim said, is that the milk samples exchanged contained not only healthful bacteria, which are necessary, but high levels of bacteria that could cause harm.

“The pathogenic bacteria, those are the ones that are the most concerning,” she said. All of the sharing sites urge women to collect, store and send milk in sanitary ways and to offer medical proof that the milk is safe. It's not clear, however, how many suppliers follow those instructions. 

“We were very surprised by our findings,” said Keim. “Besides bacterial contamination and viruses that could be in the milk, you could be exposing your infant to chemical contaminants, pharmaceuticals or drugs as well.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 77 percent of U.S. babies are breast fed at least once. Health officials routinely urge new mothers to breast feed exclusively for 6 months then continue while introducing other foods for a year.

Milk sharing website owners have responded to the study in various ways. Some milk sharing portals are looking at changing how they share milk, and others are enraged, claiming that even reporting the findings of the study is an attack on breastfeeding.

“A blatant attack on women attempting to feed their babies is cruel and you should feel ashamed of yourself for spreading misinformation,” Khadijah Cisse, a midwife who founded MilkShare, a portal for connecting women cited in the new research, said in an email to NBC News. “Anyone can type up any bit of lies they want and make claims. Breast milk is supposed to contain bacteria.”

Emma Kwansica, founder of Human Milk 4 Human Babies, says that the women who share milk in 130 communities in 52 countries aren’t strangers engaged in commerce.

“Peer-to-peer milk-sharing is really about families sharing at a hyper-local level. This study could not have been more opposite of what our moms are doing in the world today,” she said. “If there are babies getting sick from milk sharing, I would know. There are no sick babies.”

After being contacted by NBC News, representatives of OnlyTheBreast.com said they intend to halt informal breast milk exchanges and revamp their organization. 

"We have made the decision to transition away from offering breast milk classified ads and in the near future completely remove them," site founder Glenn Snow said in a statement.

Instead, officials said they are working to form a new milk bank program, Milk for Babies, that would partner with a laboratory to offer screened milk while still permitting donors to be reimbursed. 

"We are convinced that a more safety-centered approach must be taken to secure milk sharing," officials added.

Sources: JoNel Aleccia, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/75-percent-breast-milk-bought-online-contaminated-analysis-shows-8C11421794

Genevra Pittman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/21/us-usa-health-breast-milk-idUSBRE99K02B20131021

 

Your Baby

Recall: PeaPod and PeaPod Plus Travel Kits

1.45 to read

KidCo Inc. in cooperation with The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is voluntarily recalling 220,000 of its PeaPod and PeaPod Plus travel beds due to possible suffocation and entrapment risks for children.

Officials say infants and young children can roll off the edge of the inflatable air mattress and become entrapped between the mattress and fabric sides of the tent, and suffocate.

The CPSC says it is aware of one 5-month-old boy who died in December 2011 in New York City after he was found with his face pressed against the side-wall of a PeaPod travel tent bed. The cause of death was not determined.

The CPSC is also aware of six reports of children who have become entrapped or experienced physical distress in the product. Two of the six reports included infants who were found crying underneath the mattress when it had not been inserted into the zippered pocket in the bottom of the tent.

In addition, Health Canada says it received three reports of children rolling over and becoming trapped between the mattress and sides of the PeaPod travel bed.

Travel Beds Recalled

The KidCo PeaPod Travel Beds and PeaPod Plus Travel Beds are small, portable tents marketed for use by infants from birth to over age 3, depending on the model.

The tents have a zippered side for putting in and taking out the child and an inflatable air mattress that fits into a zippered pocket at the floor of the tent. The travel beds fold into a compact round shape and come with a fabric bag for storage and travel.

The following models and corresponding tent colors are included in the recall:

  • P100 Teal
  • P101 Red
  • P102 Lime
  • P103 Periwinkle
  • P104 Ocean
  • P201 Princess/Red
  • P202 Camouflage
  • P203 Quick Silver
  • P204 Sagebrush
  • P205 Cardinal
  • P900CS Green

You can find the model number on a small tag on the underside of the product.

The travel beds were sold nationwide between January 2005 and 2012 for between $70 and $100.

Owners of KidCo travel beds should stop using the tents immediately and contact KidCo to get a free repair kit on KidCo's web site or by calling toll-free at (855) 847-8600.

Libertyville, Ill.-based KidCo says the repair kit includes a thinner replacement mattress and braces to strengthen the sides of the tent. The kits will be mailed out starting in mid-December.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml13/13043.html

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20121116/childrens-peapod-travel-beds-recalled

PeaPod Plus travel bed

Peapod Travel Bed (red)

 PeaPod Travel Bed (green) with Inflatable Air Mattress

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