To learn more about Zika, including how to stay safe, see our web article.
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, don’t travel to a Zika-affected area. Dr. Siobhan Dolan, Medical Advisor to the March of Dimes, explains why in this short video. Be sure to check CDC’s travel alerts for updates. If you must travel, talk to your health care provider before you travel and learn how to protect yourself from Zika.
Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.
Infancy should mark the beginning of life, not the end. Even though the rates of infant deaths are at an all-time low, far too many babies still die before their first birthday. For this reason, September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month – a time for us to share the sad fact that babies still die in infancy, and to help spread the word about how to fix this problem.
In 2013, in the United States, 23,446 infants died before reaching their first birthday, which is an infant mortality rate of 6.0 per 1,000 live births. Or, put another way, on an average day in the U.S., 64 babies die before reaching their first birthday.
What causes infant death? Can it be prevented?
“Preterm birth, or being born too early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), is the biggest contributor to infant death,” according to the CDC. In 2013, about one third (36%) of infant deaths were due to preterm-related causes. Among non-Hispanic black infants, the rate of preterm-related death is three times higher than those of non-Hispanic white infants.
Other causes of infant mortality include low birth weight, birth defects, pregnancy complications for the mother, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), and unintentional injuries (accidents). Although the rate of infant deaths in the U.S. has declined by almost 12% since 2003, the death of any infant is still one too many.
Having a healthy pregnancy may increase the chance of having a healthy baby.
A woman can help reduce her risk of giving birth early by getting a preconception checkup, staying at a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol and street drugs during pregnancy. Spacing pregnancies at least 18 months apart and getting early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy are also key parts of a healthy pregnancy.
It’s part of our mission
The March of Dimes is committed to preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. It is our hope that through continued research, we will have a positive impact on the lives of all babies so that fewer families will ever know the pain of losing a child.
If you or someone you know has lost a baby, we hope that our online community, Share Your Story, will be a place of comfort and support to you. There, you will find other parents who have walked in your shoes and can relate to you in ways that other people cannot. Log on to “talk” with other parents who will understand.
Even in the year 2016, “the U.S. has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the industrialized world,” according to NICHQ, the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality.
The March of Dimes is working hard to make this fact history.
Have questions? Send them to our Health Education Specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.
Newborn screening looks for rare but serious and mostly treatable health disorders. Babies with these disorders often look healthy, but if the condition is not diagnosed and treated early, a baby can develop lasting physical problems or intellectual disabilities, or may even die.
When is newborn screening done?
All babies in the United States get newborn screening before they leave the hospital, when they are 1 or 2 days old. Some states require that babies have newborn screening again, about 2 weeks later.
If your baby is not born in a hospital, talk to your baby’s provider about getting newborn screening before he is 7 days old.
How is newborn screening done?
Newborn screening is done in 3 ways:
- Your baby’s provider pricks your baby’s heel to get a few drops of blood. The blood is collected on a special paper and sent to a lab for testing. The lab then sends the results back to your baby’s health provider.
- For the hearing screening, your provider places a tiny, soft speaker in your baby’s ear to check how your baby responds to sound.
- For heart screening, a test called pulse oximetry is used. This test checks the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood by using a sensor attached to his finger or foot. This test is used to screen babies for a heart condition called critical congenital heart disease (CCHD). CCHDs are the most severe heart defects. Babies with CCHD need treatment within the first few hours, days or months of life. Without treatment, CCHD can be deadly.
How many health conditions should your baby be screened for?
The March of Dimes would like to see all babies in all states screened for at least 34 health conditions. Many of these health conditions can be treated if found early. Each state decides which tests are required. For example, all states require newborn screening, but they don’t all require screening for CCHD. You can find out which conditions your state screen for here.
Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.
Today, Dr. Frieden received the March of Dimes President’s Leadership Award for serving as a champion in the fight against Zika. This award is given to acknowledge very high levels of achievement in preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Dr. Frieden is receiving it for his outstanding leadership in combatting Zika and raising public awareness of its threat to newborn health.
The March of Dimes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been working together for many years to protect moms, babies and families from diseases and to promote good health. Since the Zika outbreak, March of Dimes and CDC have joined forces to spread the word about the devastating impact of this virus on pregnant women and babies.
Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, Director of the CDC, is at the helm focusing national and global attention on this virus. Zika can cause microcephaly and other brain problems, and is linked to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Dr. Howse, President of March of Dimes says “We’re giving Dr. Frieden this award to show our gratitude for his dedication to preventing Zika virus infection during this epidemic. His decisive actions and strong voice for protecting women and families from serious birth defects caused by Zika are at the heart of our mission.”
Thank you Dr. Frieden. Together we will continue educating the public on how they can protect themselves from Zika.
To learn more about the Zika virus – where it is in the world, its impact on pregnant women and babies, and what you can do to stay safe – visit marchofdimes.org/zika.
If you have questions, send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We’re here to help.
More than 80 percent of 2,110 parents made dosing mistakes when measuring liquid medicine, a new Pediatrics study reveals. And, the majority of those mistakes were overdoses. The study was in the form of a lab experiment (so no children were harmed). Researchers found that 4 times more errors occurred when a dosing cup was used instead of an oral syringe.
Manufacturers of liquid medication may have different kinds of cups, droppers, spoons or syringes to use to give your child his medicine. These various kinds of measuring items can be confusing and lead to accidentally using one that wasn’t intended for a particular medication.
What should you do?
- Always use the oral syringe or dropper that comes with the medication. Do not use a syringe or dropper from a previous medication.
- Measure calmly, carefully, and exactly.
- Never use kitchen teaspoons because they are not intended for medication use. Kitchen spoons vary widely and can hold vastly different amounts of liquids.
- The researchers in this study recommend using oral syringes instead of cups, especially if small doses (eg. for babies) are needed.
There is no doubt that having a sick baby or child is very stressful. When our kids are sick, we are worried and probably sleep deprived from being up with them at night. You can reduce the odds of making a medication mistake by using only the syringe or dropper that comes with the medicine bottle, or ask your pharmacist to help you select a syringe. Be sure you understand the label and the markings on the syringe.
- If you are giving a non-prescription medication (such as Tylenol or any over-the-counter medicine), be sure to give the dose that is based on your child’s weight, not his age. If in doubt, ask a doctor, nurse, physician assistant, pharmacist or other healthcare provider.
- AAP has helpful dosage charts for acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).
- Check out the AAP’s video guide on how to measure meds and read about useful medication tips.
Frequent and thorough hand washing is still the best way to ward off germs and to prevent the spread of infections. There is no need to buy antibacterial soaps; regular bar or liquid soap will do the job just fine. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned antibacterial soap products containing certain chemicals.
What makes soap antibacterial?
Antibacterial soaps, also called antimicrobial or antiseptic soaps, contain different ingredients than plain soap. Antibacterial soaps contain one or more of 19 specific active ingredients with the most common ingredients being triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps). These products will have ‘antibacterial’ on the label.
Why the ban?
The FDA asked manufacturers to research and provide evidence that antibacterial soap ingredients, including triclosan and triclocarban, were safe for daily use over a long period of time. The manufacturers failed to prove their safety. Animal studies on triclosan show that this ingredient alters the way some hormones work in the body and raises concerns on its effect on humans. There is also concern that this ingredient contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. There is not enough research to know how triclocarban affects humans.
The FDA’s new rule applies to all consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes that are used with water. Manufacturers have one year to comply with the FDA’s new rule.
The ban does not include hand sanitizers, hand wipes or antibacterial soaps used in health care settings. The FDA says “Health care antiseptics are being evaluated separately from consumer antiseptics because they have different proposed use settings and target populations, and the risks for infection in the different settings varies.” More scientific research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of certain over the counter hand sanitizers.
Sleep is important for your baby’s health. It is also important to make sure that your baby’s sleeping environment is safe. Safe sleep can help protect your baby from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other dangers.
While you may know about how to create a safe sleep environment, other people caring for your baby may not. Grandparents, babysitters, and anyone else who may take care of your baby should be made aware of the importance of safe sleep.
Here is a short video that reviews the basics of safe sleep for caregivers, courtesy of the NIH’s Safe to Sleep® campaign:
Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.
Today we launch our new campaign, Give them tomorrow, to raise awareness and funds to fight birth defects and premature birth, the #1 killer of babies in the United States.
This campaign is different. You have the opportunity to help give a fighting chance for every baby by:
- sending a message of hope to a family of a baby in the NICU (newborn intensive care unit), which the March of Dimes will hand-deliver.
- sharing your baby’s first milestones at #babysfirst with our social community.
- engaging with us on World Prematurity Day, November 17th to raise awareness and learn about the cutting edge prematurity research that saves babies’ lives.
We have set a goal to generate 380,000 actions to save babies’ lives, to symbolize the 380,000 babies born too soon each year in the U.S. That’s 1 in 10 babies born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). This rate is higher than most other high-resource nations.
Even babies born just a few weeks too soon can face serious health challenges and are at risk for lifelong disabilities including breathing problems, vision loss, cerebral palsy, developmental delays and intellectual disabilities. The problem of prematurity involves babies being born too soon and often with birth defects and complications that affect them for life — that’s if they make it through the first critical days and weeks. There are so many challenges for these babies and their families from day one that tomorrow is a dream.
Give them tomorrow is supported by our corporate partners who are committed to saving babies’ lives. Partners in 2016 include Mud Pie, Philips Avent, Famous Footwear, ALEX AND ANI, ALDI, Bon-Ton, and Anthem Foundation.
Won’t you join us today as we make a difference in the lives of all babies?
Together we can give them tomorrow by doing something today.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. For the latest resources and health information, visit marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
Baton Rouge, LA recently experienced severe flooding in what has been called the worst US natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Every year nearly 850,000 people in the US are affected by a natural disaster. When a disaster strikes, power can go out, water supplies can become contaminated and food supplies may become limited. But continuing to breastfeed can give your baby protection against illnesses, which is especially important following a natural disaster.
How does breastfeeding help your baby?
- Protects her from the contaminated water supply
- Protects against illnesses such as diarrhea
- Helps comfort and soothe
- Reduces stress for both mom and baby
- Your breast milk is ready when your baby needs it
Is my milk safe?
According to the experts at Mother To Baby, substances enter breast milk in very small amounts, so they are not likely to harm a breastfeeding baby. The benefits you are providing your baby through your breast milk usually outweigh risk from an exposure.
Some infections are common after a natural disaster, such as West Nile virus, hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus. Most of the time, mothers who have an infection can continue to breastfeed. However if you notice anything different about the way you are feeling, or you are concerned, reach out to your health care provider. If you need medication, be sure to ask your provider if your prescription is safe to take while breastfeeding. For more information about breastfeeding after a natural disaster, please see Mother-to-Baby’s fact sheet.
Can I feed my baby formula?
If you need to feed your baby formula, use single serving ready-to-feed formula, if possible. Ready-to-feed formula does not need to be mixed with water so you won’t run the risk of contamination. It also does not need to be refrigerated, so you do not need to worry about electricity. Be sure to discard unused formula from an unfinished bottle after one hour of feeding. If you need to use powdered or concentrated formula, mix it with bottled water. If neither option is available, use boiled water. Just be sure you do not use water treated with iodine or chlorine tablets to prepare your baby’s formula unless you do not have bottled water and cannot boil your water.
How to breastfeed after a disaster
Feed your baby when she is hungry or expressing feeding cues. Keep in mind, breastfeeding is not only for nutrition; your baby may also nurse for comfort. And it’s good for you too – nursing will allow the release of hormones which can help reduce your stress.