Your Baby

Combination Vaccine Safe & Effective For Infants

A combination vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and flu, which is routinely used in Canada has been shown to be effective in a U.S. study.

A combination vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and flu, which is routinely used in Canada has been shown to be effective and well tolerated in a U.S. study. The randomized trial involving nearly 2,000 infants vaccinated at 2, 4 and 6 months of age was conducted to support U.S. licensure of the vaccine known as DTaP5-IPV-Hib. The vaccine incorporates diphtheria-tetanus-5-component acellular pertussis (DTaP5), inactivated poliovirus (IPV) and Haemophilius influenzae type B (Hib) vaccines.

In the study, the infants were vaccinated with either the DTaP5-IPV-Hib combination vaccine or with the DTaP5, IPV and Hib vaccines separately. Some babies in each group were also given a fourth dose of DTaP5-IPV-Hib or of the DTaP5 and Hib vaccines as toddlers. In the January 2009 journal Pediatrics, Dr. Fernando A. Guerra of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District in Texas and colleagues report that compared with licensed vaccines, the combined vaccine was equally effective and produced similar or fewer reactions at the injection site and throughout the body. "The current results are reassuring and consistent with safety surveillances data in Canada, where for the past decade, the combination vaccine has been the only DTaP-containing vaccine used among infants and toddlers," the researchers conclude.

Your Baby

Do Helmets Correct “Flat Head” Syndrome?

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The good news is that more parents are placing their babies are their back to sleep therefore reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  The risk of SIDS is much higher for babies who sleep on their side or stomach. These positions can put your baby’s face directly into the mattress or sleeping area causing them to suffocate.

One side effect from following this important habit for baby’s safety, is that the number of babies with what’s known as "flat head" syndrome has increased. 

One controversial treatment for treating flat head syndrome has been for the baby to wear a specially constructed helmet. These helmets are typically expensive.

A new study has looked at whether the helmets are actually effective and determined that they are about as good as letting the baby’s head naturally reshape. 

Researchers in the Netherlands looked at 84 babies who had moderate to severe flattening of the head. Starting when they were 6 months old, half of the babies wore a custom-made, rigid, closely fitting helmet for 23 hours a day over six months. The others received no treatment.

By the time the children were 2 years old, there was no significant difference in the degree of improvement in head shape between the two groups, nor in the number of them who made a full recovery to normal head shape -- 25.6 percent of those who wore helmets and 22.5 percent of those who did not, according to a journal news release.

Babies who wore the helmets also experienced side effects such as skin irritation (96%), an unpleasant smell (76%) and pain (33%). Cuddling with the baby was noted as being more difficult as well.

When the children reached 2 years of age, parents in both groups reported that they were generally satisfied with the shape of their child's head. Among parents whose babies wore helmets, the average satisfaction score was 4.6 out of 5, and among those whose babies had not received the treatment the score was 4.4 out of 5, the study found.

"Based on the effectiveness of helmet therapy, and the high prevalence of side effects and high costs, we discourage the use of a helmet as a standard treatment for healthy infants with moderate to severe skull deformation," concluded researcher Renske van Wijk, at the University of Twente, in Enschede, and colleagues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that the majority of flat head syndrome cases can be treated with physical therapy and other noninvasive measures.

The study was published in the online edition of BMJ.

If your baby’s head has become misshapen from lying on his or her back, talk with your family doctor or pediatrician about what therapies might be helpful as your little grows out of the infant stage.

It’s still very important to make sure your infant sleeps on his or her back.

Source: Robert Preidt,

Your Baby

Autism & Vaccine Study Details

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The investigation published in the British Medical Journal by Brian Deer lays out in detail, how the paper published in 1998 by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield, linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism was a deliberate fraud.A 1998 study, that linked the MMR vaccine to autism, has been found to be false. 

The investigation published in the British Medical Journal by Brian Deer lays out in detail, how the paper published in 1998 by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield, linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism was a deliberate fraud. According to the investigation, a law firm that hoped to sue the vaccine manufacturers hired Wakefield. The law firm wanted Wakefield to provide scientific evidence that vaccines caused autism. Wakefield received roughly $750,000 for his efforts. The conclusions in the research paper by Wakefield and colleagues, were renounced by 10 of its 13 authors, and in February of 2010 were retracted by the medical journal Lancet, where it was originally published. Still, the suggestion the MMR shot was connected to autism spooked parents worldwide and immunization rates for measles, mumps and rubella have never fully recovered. The analysis found that despite the claim in Wakefield's paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, that in fact, the children's medical records show that some clearly had symptoms of developmental problems long before getting their shots, BMJ says. Several had no autism diagnosis at all. This week, Wakefield continued to defend himself, calling the journalist "a hit man" during an interview with CNN. And some parents of autistic children and other advocates argue that the criticisms of Wakefield are actually attempts to close off research into the safety of vaccines. "A character assassination initiative against those who look for answers only serves to stunt medical progress for our children and perpetuate unnecessary public health risks," said Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association, in a prepared statement. But health officials counter that the science is settled and prolonging the debate is dangerous. Few studies have had such far-reaching and harmful effects, especially after being so thoroughly discredited, says William Schaffner, an infectious-disease expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Vaccination rates in England plummeted after Wakefield's news conference to promote his study. Measles outbreaks in the United Kingdom and Ireland hospitalized hundreds of people and killed four children, says Paul Offit, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Nearly 40% of American parents also have declined or delayed a vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many parents now have a vague distrust of vaccines — with little to no memory of diseases that terrified their grandparents, Schaffner says. Offit says it may take years to rebuild trust in vaccines. "It's very hard to un-scare people. You can do study after study, but people are far more compelled by their fears than by their reason." For Pediatrician Sue Hubbard's insight into the autism and vaccine report, check out her Daily Dose post at

Your Baby

RSV Season in Full Swing

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Every year, up to 80,000 babies are hospitalized nationwide and about 500 die due to RSV-related illnesses. The virus may produce permanent health conditions such as asthma and breathing disorders.During the next few months, parents are urged to watch for signs of a lung infection that could turn deadly or cause lifelong health problems in their infants.

From late fall until early spring is the peak season for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the leading cause of pneumonia and Bronchiolitis in infants. "Approximately 70 percent of children will contract RSV by the end of their first year," says Dr. Michael E. Speer, medical director of quality and outcomes management at Texas Children's Hospital and professor of pediatrics in the section of neonatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. "By the time a child is 2 years old, that number rises to 97 percent. In addition, the risk of re-infection between the ages of 1 and 2 years is 76 percent." Every year, up to 80,000 babies are hospitalized nationwide and about 500 die due to RSV-related illnesses. The virus may produce permanent health conditions such as asthma and breathing disorders. "RSV can be especially dangerous to at-risk babies," says Dr. Speer. "This population includes premature infants, children 2 years and younger with chronic lung disease and patients who take medications for heart conditions." Speer credits improved care, such as the use of prophylactic immunization, for a decrease in the volume of seriously ill babies and fatalities in the last few years. Although RSV has no cure, monthly injections of the preventive vaccine – a monoclonal antibody known as Synagis – may reduce the risk of hospitalization. "Even if a child gets RSV while on Synagis, it's worthwhile to continue the medication, because there is more than one strain of RSV," says Dr. Speer. What to Watch For Dr. Sue Hubbard, medical editor of says the signs of RSV initially, may resemble those of a cold, such as fever and runny nose. As the disease takes hold, symptoms may worsen. In younger children, especially infants and toddlers, RSV can affect their lungs, causing Bronchiolitis or pneumonia. These children can develop more severe symptoms after about 2 to 4 days of having regular cold symptoms and after their fever may have gone away, including: •       Irritability and poor feeding •       Lethargy •       Worsening cough •       Difficulty breathing, with retractions and nasal flaring •       Fast breathing •       Wheezing •       Hypoxemia (low oxygen levels), although cyanosis, is not common •       Apnea, although this is most common in infants under 6 weeks of age Be sure to call your pediatrician or seek other medical attention if your child's cold seems to be worsening and you think he is developing more Because RSV is spread easily through the respiratory tract, parents are urged to keep their babies away from any person with a cold or fever. Other precautionary advice to family members and caregivers includes washing hands thoroughly before handling the baby, avoiding crowded areas and never exposing the baby to tobacco smoke. RSV Facts RSV is the most common virus that occurs in babies. The leading cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in infants, RSV is especially dangerous to at-risk babies, including infants born prematurely, children with chronic lung disease and patients who take medication for heart conditions. The RSV season begins in late fall and extends through early spring. During this time, up to 80,000 infants are hospitalized nationwide and approximately 500 die from RSV-related illnesses. RSV is spread easily from person to person through respiratory tract secretions. Symptoms initially may resemble those of a cold, such as fever and runny nose. As the disease worsens, symptoms can include coughing, difficulty breathing, wheezing and rapid breathing. Although not a cure, monthly injections of the monoclonal antibody Synagis for high risk babies – a preventive vaccine – may reduce the risk of hospitalization.  This vaccine is very expensive. Do your homework and consult your pediatrician.

Your Baby

Baby Sling Warning

A consumer warning for parents who use sling carriers.The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning and is currently investigating 13 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers.

slingThe CPSC says these type of slings can pose a suffocation risk.  The commission is advising parents and caregivers who use these types of carriers (shown here) to be cautious when using them in babies under 4 months. The report said that many of the babies who died in slings were low-birth-weight twin, were born prematurely or had a cold.

Your Baby

IKEA Recalls 169,000 Crib Mattresses


Swedish furniture maker IKEA is recalling about 169,000 of their VYSSA crib mattress because of the risk that infants can become trapped between the mattress and the crib.

The firm has received two reports of infants becoming entrapped between the mattress and an end of the crib. The children were removed from the gap without injury.

The mattresses were sold exclusively at IKEA stores and online from August 2010 to May 2014 for about $100.00.

This recall involves IKEA VYSSA style crib mattresses with the following five model names:

·      VACKERT

·      VINKA


·      SLÖA

·      SLUMMER.

The involved mattresses were manufactured on May 4, 2014 or earlier. An identification label attached to the mattress cover has the date of manufacture in Month-DD-YYYY format and the VYSSA model name. A gap between the mattress and crib ends larger than two-finger width is an indication of the defective mattress.

Consumers should inspect the recalled mattress by making sure there is no gap larger than the width of two fingers between the ends of the crib and the mattress. If any gap is larger, customers should immediately stop using the recalled mattresses and return it to any IKEA store for an exchange or a full refund.

Consumers can contact IKEA toll-free at (888) 966-4532 anytime or online at and click on the recall link at the top of the page for more information.


Your Baby

Health Risks Rise if Too Thin, Heavy During Pregnancy

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Weight control can be problematic for some people at any stage of their life, but woman especially can have a tough time during pregnancy. Pregnancy can make you feel hungry nearly all the time, or send you running to the bathroom at the mere sight of food.

A new study carried out in Scotland looks at low and high body mass index (BMI) during pregnancy and the role it plays in the mother and child’s health as well as health care costs. They found that pregnant women who had too low or too high a BMI were at a higher risk for complications and additional hospitalization.

109,592 pregnant women were examined and classified in five categories based on their BMI. The classifications were:

- Underweight BMI < 18.5

- Normal BMI 18.5-24.9

- Overweight BMI 25-29.9

- Obese BMI 30-35

- Severely obese > 35

Researchers were able to show an association between higher BMIs and pregnancy complications. Severely obese pregnant women were 3 times more likely than normal-weight pregnant women to have high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Compared to normal-weight women, those in all other weight categories had more and longer hospitalizations after birth. The risk of hospitalization was 8 percent higher for underweight women, 16 percent higher for overweight women, 45 percent higher for obese women and 88 percent higher for severely obese women.

The study also found that women with high or low BMI had higher medical costs than normal-weight women.

Co-author of the study, Dr. Fiona Denison of Queens's Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh, said in a journal news release, "Longer-term benefits of reducing maternal obesity will show improvements, not only in the health outcomes of mothers and their babies, but the workload and cost to current maternity services."

What does a BMI tell you about your health? Some experts say that determining a person’s BMI is the most accurate way to define a person’s weight on their health. Other experts believe that body-fat percentage gives a more accurate account.

If you are considering starting a family, there are many websites that offer online BMI calculators so you can find out what your personal BMI currently is.

If you are pregnant, discuss your weight with your obstetrician or family doctor to see how much weight gain is healthy for you personally. A regular BMI calculation doesn’t apply to pregnant women. You are supposed to gain a certain amount of weight while pregnant. Every woman will be different depending on her pre-pregnancy weight and over-all health.

Other studies have found an association between obesity during pregnancy and a higher risk of fetal complications. Women with a body-mass index between 30 and 35 were 58 percent more likely than those at a healthy weight to deliver an extremely premature baby, a team of U.S. and Swedish researchers found after examining the medical and delivery records of 1,599, 551 Swedish moms. Pregnant women with a BMI between 35 and 40 were twice as likely as normal-weight moms to have an extremely premature baby, while those with BMIs of 40 or greater were nearly three times as likely to deliver an extremely premature baby. 

The most important take-away from this study is that women who want to become pregnant understand the importance of maintaining a healthy weight prior to conception and continue to maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy.


Linda Carroll,

Your Baby

Car Seats: It’s Not You – It’s the Car!

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The number one problem parents and caregivers face when trying to install a car seat is fighting the seat buckles and finding the safety latches. It can be a beat down and often times, the car seat ends up being incorrectly installed. When they can, parents will often install a car seat in each auto just so they don’t have to endure the installation process.

A new study reveals what many parents already know; many of the problems stem from the vehicle design. According to a new study by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit group financed by the insurance industry, many vehicle rear seat designs makes attaching a car seat very difficult.

“This is a long standing problem, and we think it’s time to fix it,” said Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research and one of the report’s authors, noting that installing a car seat is frequently not as simple as people may think

The study found that belt buckles or other seat hardware often got in the way of the connectors for car seats, or the connectors are buried so far in the seat, that they were often difficult to locate.

Another issue noted in a previous study was the “tether” that is designed to secure the top part of the forward-facing car seat in the event of a crash. Tethers are intended to help prevent child restraints from moving too far forward during crashes, which put children at risk of head or neck injuries

Using a tether “is essential,” said McCartt. Many parents do not understand how important it is, and may not think about using the tether when they move their child from a rear facing restraints to a forward one, she said. Seatbelts can also be used instead of a tether, but it is critical that they be in lock mode, so the belt is not freely moving, experts say.  

In 2003, a federal regulation went into effect that was designed to correct the attachment hardware difficulty. It’s called LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. But nearly a decade later, less than a quarter of the models surveyed had accomplished this, as many automakers are not paying attention to the key factors that make LATCH work, the report found.

During the research, conducted in conjunction with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, LATCH hardware and rear seat designs were scrutinized in a range of passenger vehicles that were marketed to families. But only 21 of the 98 top-selling 2010-11 model vehicles evaluated were found to have LATCH designs that are easy to use.

Researchers identified three factors associated with correct lower anchor use: depth, clearance and force.

- Depth: Lower anchors should be located no more than 3/4 inch deep in the seat bight and should be easy to see.

- Clearance: Nothing should obstruct access to the anchors. Safety belt buckles and other hardware plus the foam, cloth or leather material of the seats themselves shouldn't get in the way of attaching child seat connectors. There should be enough room around the anchors to approach them at an angle, as well as straight-on. This makes it easier to hook or snap on connectors and also tighten LATCH straps. In the study, a clearance angle of at least 54 degrees was associated with easier installation.

- Force: Parents should be able to install child restraints using less than 40 pounds of force. Some systems require lots of effort to properly attach child seat hardware with lower anchors, in part because they are deep in the seat bight or surrounded by interfering parts of the vehicle seat.

All three factors are related and are good predictors of how well people are able to correctly install child restraints. Vehicles meeting the criteria were 19 times as likely to have lower anchors used correctly by the volunteers compared with vehicles that don't meet any of the criteria.

"These are things that automakers can do to improve child restraint installations, and most of them aren't hard," McCartt says. "Lower anchors can be designed so they are easy to use."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s website ( lists the 2011 models that met all 3 easy –installation criteria. They are:

- Audi A4 Quattro

- Cadillac Escalade

- Chevrolet Equinox LT

- Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab

- Chevrolet Suburban LT

- Chevrolet Tahoe LS

- Chrysler Town & Country (2010)

- Dodge Caliber Mainstreet

- Dodge Grand Caravan Crew

- Dodge Ram 1500 crew cab

- Ford Escape XLT

- Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab

- GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab SLE

- Honda Pilot EX-L

- Kia Sedona LX

- Land Rover Range Rover Sport

- Mercedes-Benz C300

- Mercedes-Benz E350

- Mitsubishi Eclipse coupe GS

- Mitsubishi Lancer ES

- Toyota Tacoma extended cab

The 2011 models that did not meet any easy-installation criteria are:

- Buick Enclave CX

- Chevrolet Impala LT

- Dodge Avenger Express

- Ford Flex SEL

- Ford Taurus Limited

- Hyundai Sonata Limited

- Toyota Sienna XLE

Parents and caregivers want to do the right thing to protect their child when they are in the car. Let's hope auto manufacturers get the message and start doing what they are supposed to do to help protect our children as well. 


Your Baby

Baby's Sun Exposure Could Mean Cancer Later

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A new review says that skin changes due to sun exposure in babies may put them at risk of skin cancers such as melanoma in adulthood, noting that babies are more prone to the damaging effects of UV radiation to the skin cells.If too much sun is bad for adult's skin, can you imagine what it’s doing to a baby? According to a review in the July issue of Pediatrics, it could be setting a child up for melanoma or other skin cancers later in life.

Ultraviolet (UV)  rays are invisible rays produced by the sun.  UV radiation can suppress the immune system and damage skin cells - a process that may happen more quickly in babies than in adults, the authors note. Young skin is delicate and thinner. It produces less melanin, a skin protecting pigment. UV rays can reach the pigment producing melanin cells, called melanocytes, and damage them. Damage to those cells is a "precursor to melanoma," says Robin Gehris, M.D., the chief of pediatric dermatologic surgery at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "Infant skin may be even more prone to sun damage than we had thought, and that might be important later on for melanoma and other cancer risk," says Gehris, who was not involved in the new review. Sun exposure earlier in life, from infancy through adolescence, seems to be associated with different cell changes and an earlier diagnosis of melanoma than exposure in the adult years, the article points out. One study cited in the review has projected that 1 in 33 babies born today will develop melanoma during their lives, versus 1 in 1,500 babies born in 1935. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which publishes Pediatrics, advises parents to keep children 6 months or younger out of the sun completely. For older babies, the AAP recommends dressing infants in brimmed hats and sun-protective clothing, applying sunscreen to any small patches of exposed skin, and minimizing sun exposure during the midday hours, when the sun is at its hottest. What is melanoma? Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It is the leading cause of death from skin disease. Treatment for melanoma depends on what stage the cancer is when diagnosed. The cancerous skin cells and some normal tissue that surrounds the cancer will need to be surgically removed. How much normal tissue is removed depends mostly on how deep the melanoma has grown. If the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, these lymph nodes may also need to be removed. Treatment with interferon after surgery may be useful for these patients. For patients with melanoma that has spread beyond the skin and nearby lymph nodes to other organs, treatment is more difficult. At this point, melanoma is usually not curable. Treatment is usually directed at shrinking the tumor and improving symptoms. That’s why pediatricians, and other physicians, are so adamant about warning people of the dangers of too much sun.  Melanoma can cut short a promising life. For older babies, the AAP recommends dressing infants in brimmed hats and sun-protective clothing, applying sunscreen to any small patches of exposed skin, and minimizing sun exposure during the midday hours, when the sun is at its hottest. When out in the sun, use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater that protects against UVA and UVB rays. 
Be sure to apply enough sunscreen. Use about one ounce per sitting for a young adult, and reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.Use extra caution near water and sand (and even snow) as they reflect UV rays and may result in sunburn more quickly. To make sure that your child’s sunscreen hasn’t worn off, use one that is opaque. It won’t disappear into the skin. That way you can tell if your child’s skin is still protected. The next time either you or your child is going to be spending any time in the sun– don’t forget the sunscreen! It’s as important as anything else you take with you.


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