Why should men care about Zika?

25
Jul
Posted by Sara

couple with laptopWe have received a number of questions at AskUs@marchofdimes.org asking why men need to be concerned about Zika.

The quick answer is because Zika can be sexually transmitted.

Zika stays in a man’s semen for at least 2 weeks and maybe up to 10 weeks after getting infected. Semen contains sperm, which is what fertilizes an egg to get a woman pregnant. We don’t know how long Zika stays in a woman’s vaginal fluid or genital tract. If a man is infected with Zika and has sex with a pregnant woman, he can pass the virus to her and then it is possible for her to pass it to her unborn baby.

How can a man prevent a Zika infection?

  • Avoid travel to Zika-affected areas. Men whose partners may be pregnant or trying to conceive, should avoid travel to a Zika-affected area unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • Prevent mosquito bites. If a man does travel to a Zika-affected area, he should avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Continue to use insect repellant for at least 3 weeks after return, to help prevent Zika from spreading to others.
  • Use a condom. When he returns from his trip, it is important to use a condom every time he has sex to prevent passing Zika to his partner. The length of time that you should use condoms depends on your personal situation and concerns. Talk to your provider.

What if a man thinks he may have been infected with Zika?

  • Recognize the symptoms. Illness usually begin 2 to 7 days after you’ve been exposed to the virus. You can be sick with Zika for several days to a week. Signs and symptoms include:
    • Headache
    • Fever (You may or may not have a fever if you have Zika.)
    • Joint or muscle pain
    • Pink eye (also called conjunctivitis) or pain behind the eyes
    • Rash
    • Throwing up
  • Most people who have Zika don’t feel sick or have symptoms. If you think you may have Zika, talk to your health care provider. You can find out if you have Zika with a blood or urine test.
  • If you have Zika, or THINK you may have Zika, be careful not to infect your partner. Use condoms.

What can you do if you’re planning to get pregnant?

  • If a man has been tested for and has Zika, wait at least 6 months after his first sign or symptom of Zika before trying to get pregnant.
  • If a woman has been tested for and has Zika, wait at least 8 weeks from her first sign or symptom before trying to get pregnant.
  • If you or your partner may have Zika but neither of you have signs or symptoms and neither of you has been tested, wait at least 8 weeks from when you think you may have been exposed to Zika before trying to get pregnant.

The CDC recommends that you wait this long to be sure you and your partner aren’t infected with Zika when you try to get pregnant. Zika infection usually stays in your blood for a few days to a week, but it may stay in a man’s semen for up to 10 weeks after getting infected.

See our article for more details about the Zika virus, including how to stay safe.

Have questions? Send them to our Health Education Specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Flu protection for your baby for the first 8 weeks

22
Jul
Posted by Lauren

2014d037_0986A new study shows that not only will getting a flu shot during pregnancy protect yourself and your newborn against the flu after delivery, it will protect her for up to 2 months after birth.

Researchers looked at over 1,000 infants born to women who received a flu shot during their pregnancy to assess how well the vaccine worked. They found that the vaccine was most effective during the first eight weeks after birth at a rate of 85.6 percent.

Infants are at higher risk for getting the flu. Because the flu vaccine isn’t recommended for newborns, getting the vaccine during your pregnancy is the best way to protect your little one until she can receive her own vaccine at six months of age.

If you get the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications. And if your baby gets the flu after birth, it can make her seriously sick. But the flu vaccine is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age. Therefore, the best way to protect your baby after birth is to get a flu shot during pregnancy.

Have an older baby or child? Be sure to read our blog post that talks about getting your child a flu shot (not the nasal mist) this year.

Have questions? Our health education specialists are here to answer them. Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Here’s a tool to monitor your child’s physical development

20
Jul
Posted by Barbara

Baby with rubber duckyFrom sitting to crawling to standing, there is a wide range that is considered typical development for children at a given age. Parents often see other babies or children engaging in activities that seem advanced for their child of the same age, especially if their baby was born prematurely. Time to worry?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has an easy tool to help parents know what to do if they are wondering about their child’s physical development. This interactive tool will help you see if you should be concerned at any point, and if so, what to do about it.

Simply choose the activity you are worried about (holding his head up, rolling over, bringing things to his mouth, grabbing or holding toys, sitting up, standing up, walking, going up or down stairs, running) and it will take you to a page where you can see your child’s age and learn what is typical. It also tells you what to can do at that point.  For example, if you are concerned that your two month old can’t hold his head up, it advises “Before your next visit (with your provider), make sure your child is getting “tummy time” a few times a day when she’s awake and playful.”  It will also tell you when you should make an appointment with your child’s provider. Check it out!

Of course, a chat with your child’s health care provider is always suggested and could relieve you of lots of undue worry. But this tool is a real help when you are concerned and want a quick answer, even before you can make the appointment.

Parents, you know your child best. Here are a few tips on how to start the conversation with your child’s healthcare provider as well info on developmental milestones.

Have questions? Our health education specialists are here to answer them. Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Best Pregnancy Blog award – Yay!

18
Jul
Posted by Barbara

Healthline 2016 AwardAll of us at News Moms Need try to give our readers scientifically valid information in an easy-to-understand manner. We share pregnancy and baby tips that you can rely on as being backed by research.

So, when Healthline named News Moms Need as one of The 15 Best Pregnancy Blogs in 2016, we were delighted. Thank you Healthline!

We aim to keep our readers informed about the latest and greatest topics: getting pregnant, protecting yourself from Zika, dealing with pregnancy complications and premature birth, becoming a new mom and breastfeeding, caring for a child with special needs or birth defects, and coping with loss.

If there are topics you’d like to hear more about, please let us know. We love hearing from you! You can reach us on the blog or contact us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Thank you to Healthline for the honor, and thank you to our readers for your continued support.

 

CDC says: First female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus infection reported in NYC

15
Jul
Posted by Barbara

Important news from the CDC today:  “The New York City report of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus infection is the first documented case of sexual transmission of Zika from a woman to her sex partner and adds to the growing body of knowledge about the sexual transmission of Zika. All previously reported cases of sexually transmitted Zika virus infection have been spread from men to their sex partners.

CDC recommends that all pregnant women who have a sex partner who has traveled to or resides in an area with Zika use barrier methods every time they have sex or they should not have sex during the pregnancy. Although no cases of woman-to-woman Zika transmission have been reported, these recommendations now also apply to female sex partners of pregnant women.

CDC is currently updating recommendations for sexually active people in which the couple is not pregnant or concerned about pregnancy and for people who want to reduce personal risk of Zika infection through sex.”

You can see the CDC’s announcement here.

In our article, you can learn how to protect yourself from the Zika virus.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

The lowdown on insect repellants

13
Jul
Posted by Barbara

Zika - bug sprayProtecting yourself from mosquito bites is key in avoiding exposure to the Zika virus. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Use an insect repellant (bug spray or lotion) that is EPA registered.
  • Products containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol and IR3535, are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • If you use a product containing DEET, make sure it has at least 20% DEET, and always follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Most bug sprays and lotions are safe to use on babies 2 months and older. However, DO NOT USE PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN OIL OF LEMON EUCALPTUS OR PARA-MENTHANE-DIOL ON CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 3 YEARS OF AGE.
  • Do not put bug spray or lotion on under clothing.
  • If you are using sunscreen, too, put it on first, before you use bug spray or lotion.

If you have recently traveled to a Zika-affected area, use bug spray or lotion for 3 weeks after you get back. This way, if you are bitten by a mosquito, it will not become infected with the Zika virus and spread it to other people.

Learn ways to #ZAPzika in our article: how to stay safe, how it can affect a baby during pregnancy, and what to do if you think you may have been exposed.

Have questions?  Send them to our health education specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Speak up — Tell Congress no vacation until they pass Zika funding!

11
Jul
Posted by Barbara

CongressToday, we welcome guest blogger Cynthia Pellegrini, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs at the March of Dimes. She has worked in Congress and advocacy organizations for 23 years.

 

I’ve been working in and with the U.S. Congress for over 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.

Everyone in Congress recognizes the threat posed by the Zika virus. No one wants to see babies born with microcephaly – cases of small, underdeveloped heads and brains – or other birth defects. There is broad consensus that Zika is a real issue and must be addressed head-on.

And yet, Congress has managed to entangled itself in partisan politics so thoroughly that they are about to leave until after Labor Day without doing anything at all on Zika virus.

Back in February, the President sent a request to Congress for emergency funding to combat Zika. It’s not unusual for emergency funding to be requested when a major issue comes up unexpectedly in the middle of a fiscal year. Emergency funding is needed because all the other government funds are already allocated to other purposes, and there’s limited flexibility to move those funds around.

But this time, Congress reacted slowly. Over six weeks passed without any activity at all. Even once Congress did start to work on Zika virus, movement was slow and difficult. The House and Senate passed very different versions of a Zika package, and then had to spend weeks working out the differences. Memorial Day came and went, and the July Fourth.

Now there are only 4 days remaining before the scheduled Congressional recess and the political conventions. And there’s no sign of any break in the stalemate.

Please sign this petition and tell Congress that there’s nothing more important than the health of pregnant women and babies.

No pregnant women should have to worry every day that a single mosquito bite may change her child’s life forever. Congress shouldn’t leave for the summer until they have done their sworn duty to protect the American people. It’s wrong, it shouldn’t be tolerated and we need everyone – including you and all your friends! — to join together to tell them so.

Twitter chat with the White House & CDC about the Zika virus

11
Jul
Posted by Barbara

White HouseCDC_logo_electronic_color_name

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at noon EST, we will chat about the Zika virus with Amy Pope, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President at the National Security Council and Anne Schuchat, MD, Principal Deputy Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This is the time to tune in and ask your questions.

Are you wondering…

  • What are the symptoms of the Zika virus? How is it spread?
  • Can a mosquito really cause birth defects in babies?
  • Should you travel to a specific region? Where is Zika spreading?
  • What kind of mosquito protection is effective?
  • If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, what do you need to know? How can you protect yourself and your baby?

These are topics that will be discussed on the chat. Plus, you can submit your own questions, too. Just use #ZAPzika to join the conversation.

#ZAPzika meme 7-13-16

We hope to see you on the chat this Wednesday!

If you’ve got questions, send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

This year, get your child a flu shot, not the nasal mist

08
Jul
Posted by Sara

pediatrician and babyWhile many parents (and kids) prefer the nasal mist flu vaccine, evidence shows that the flu shot is the best way to protect your child from the flu this year.

Why should my child get the flu shot instead of the nasal mist?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is a panel of experts that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They looked at data from 2013 through 2016 and found that the nasal spray was less effective than the flu shot.

The flu nasal spray contains a live but weakened version of the flu virus. Typically, vaccines containing weakened viruses are more effective and cause a stronger immune response than vaccines with dead viruses (such as the flu shot). Initial data suggested that this was the case with the nasal spray. In 2014, the ACIP actually recommended the nasal spray over the flu shot for children.

However, during the 2015-2016 flu season, the nasal flu vaccine’s protection rate was only 3 percent. This means that no protective benefit could be measured. Its effectiveness in the previous two flu seasons was also low. In contrast, the flu shot was 63 percent effective among children aged 2 to 17 during the 2015-2016 flu season.

Get vaccinated against the flu every year

There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses expected to make people sick during the upcoming flu season. Protection from the vaccine only lasts about a year, so it’s important to get vaccinated every year.

While many parents (and kids) prefer the nasal mist, evidence shows that the flu shot is the best way to protect your child from the flu this year. The traditional flu shot is effective. Both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that everyone older than 6 months get the flu vaccine each year. It’s especially important for children younger than 5 to get the vaccine because they’re more likely to have serious health problems caused by the flu.

The flu shot is important for pregnant women too

Pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant also need their flu shot every year (the flu nasal spray was never recommended for use during pregnancy). If you get sick with the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications. The best way to protect yourself is to get the flu shot each year before flu season, which runs from about October through May. Even though you’re more likely to get the flu during flu season, you can get it any time of year.

The ACIP recommendation must be reviewed and approved by the CDC director before it becomes policy.

Questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

How mosquitoes spread the Zika virus

06
Jul
Posted by Barbara

Aedes aegypti mosquitoThe most common way the Zika virus spreads is through mosquito bites. Here are important facts to know about mosquitoes and Zika:

• The mosquitoes that spread Zika are called Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes live for about 2 to 3 weeks, indoors or outside.

• They’re called day biters because they bite most often during the day, but they also bite at night.

• These mosquitoes become infected with Zika when they bite someone who has the virus during the first week of infection.

• Three to five days after biting someone, the female lays her eggs. Mosquitoes from these eggs aren’t infected with Zika – they have to bite an infected person to become a Zika carrier.

These mosquitoes can lay their eggs in a bottle cap full of water! This is why getting rid of standing water in pet dishes, flower pots, bowls, bird baths, and other places is very important.

• The Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus live in various parts of the United States. Here is a map from the CDC of the best estimate of where these mosquitoes are or have been previously found.

HOWEVER, at the moment, there is no local transmission of Zika through mosquito bites in the United States. All cases of Zika in the U.S. have been the result of infection outside the country or through sexual transmission.

Then, why worry about mosquitoes?

Now that the warm weather here, it is expected that mosquitoes may bite infected individuals and then spread the virus. If a pregnant woman gets Zika, she can pass it to her baby.

Zika infection during pregnancy causes a birth defect called microcephaly, which has been linked to developmental delay, intellectual disabilities, seizures and other problems.

Zika infection during pregnancy also may be linked to:

• Miscarriage

• Stillbirth

• Other birth defects, including hearing loss and problems with the eyes

• Other severe brain defects.

Even among pregnant women with no symptoms of the virus, if they test positive for Zika, their babies may be harmed.

Bottom line

We don’t know the full impact of this virus on the long term development of babies and children.

We’re urging everyone to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Go to our websites to learn more about it:
www.marchofdimes.org/zika and www.nacersano.org/zika.

If you have any questions about the Zika virus, text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.