Archive for the ‘Planning for Baby’ Category

Chickenpox, vaccinations and Angelina Jolie

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

VaccineAngelina Jolie coming down with chickenpox is a good reminder for all of us to keep our vaccinations up to date! Chickenpox, also called varicella, is caused by a virus. Its symptoms include an itchy rash, blisters and fever. And before the varicella vaccine, people usually got chickenpox during childhood. Now, most kids get the vaccine in the first few years of life.

As a kid, I remember getting chickenpox along with several others in my kindergarten class. And as itchy and uncomfortable as I was, I still didn’t get it as bad as my little sister did years later – in fact, she got it twice, but that’s rare! Come to think of it, my sister was slammed three times by the virus when she got shingles last year. That’s right – the virus that causes chickenpox can also cause shingles later in life.

For most of us who were “lucky” enough to catch chickenpox in childhood, we probably don’t have to worry about getting chickenpox in adulthood, like Mrs. Pitt. But if you’ve never had chickenpox or aren’t sure, talk to your provider about getting the varicella vaccine, especially if you’re thinking about getting pregnant. Having chickenpox during pregnancy may cause some babies to get congenital varicella syndrome, a group of birth defects. Not all vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy, so it’s best to get the varicella vaccine before getting pregnant.

In the meantime, here’s hoping Angelina has a speedy recovery!

Are you ready to have another baby?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

pregnant woman and toddlerEveryone has a different opinion about how far apart in age their children should be. Some people like to have their babies very close together, while others like a little more time between each child. But there may be more to consider than just personal preference. A recent study found that women who wait less than 18 months between pregnancies are more likely to give birth before 39 weeks.

The study found that mothers who had less time between pregnancies were more likely to give birth before 39 weeks when compared to women whose pregnancies were 18 months apart or more. Women with pregnancy intervals of less than 12 months were more than twice as likely to give birth prematurely (before 37 weeks) when compared to women whose pregnancies were at least 18 months apart.

“Short interpregnancy interval is a known risk factor for preterm birth, however, this new research shows that inadequate birth spacing is associated with shorter overall pregnancy duration” states  Emily DeFranco, Assistant Professor of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio and the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and co-author of the study. She adds: “This study has potential clinical impact on reducing the overall rate of preterm birth across the world through counselling women on the importance of adequate birth spacing, especially focusing on women known to be at inherently high risk for preterm birth.”

So if you are thinking about having another baby, make sure you schedule a preconception checkup with your health care provider.  The two of you can discuss any health concerns you may have as well as the time between your pregnancies.  Also, if you have had a premature baby in the past, make sure you discuss ways to reduce your risk of having another premature birth.

Holidays are a time for family

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Family at Thanksgiving dinnerAnd learning about family health history! I recently visited some relatives that I had not seen in years. After we caught up, they mentioned to me that colon cancer runs in that side of the family. This was news to me, as I did not know much about our family’s health history. At my next doctor’s appointment I told my doctor what I had learned from my relatives, and we made a plan on how to manage my health care going forward.

At Thanksgiving, you may be getting together with your family over a delicious turkey dinner. This is a great time to bring up your family’s health history. You may discover important information to keep in mind at your next doctor’s visit like I did.

On our website, we have a lot of helpful tips on how to talk to family and relatives, how to use the information they share, and what to do if some family members don’t want to talk about their health.  You can also use our Family Health History form to help you start a conversation with your family.

Knowing your family’s health history is helpful, especially if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. If you learn that your family has a health condition that gets passed from parent to child, you may want to see a genetic counselor. This is a person who is trained to help you understand how conditions run in families and how they can affect your health and your baby’s health.

Enjoy spending time with your family this Thanksgiving, and learn about each other’s health at the same time. You may discover a few new things that can help you make healthy decisions for your future.

Are you at risk for premature birth?

Friday, November 14th, 2014

preemie and momHave you had a premature baby in the past? Are you pregnant with twins or other multiples? Do you have problems with your cervix or uterus?  If so, you are more likely to give birth early.

We often get questions from women wondering whether they are at risk to have a premature baby. What makes some women give birth early? We don’t always know what causes preterm labor and premature birth. However, there are some things that we do know make it more likely. These things are called risk factors. Having a risk factor doesn’t mean that you will definitely have preterm labor or give birth early. But it may increase your chances.

These three risk factors make you most likely to have preterm labor and give birth early:
1. Prior premature birth: You’ve had a premature baby in the past.
2. Multiples: You’re pregnant with twins, triplets or more.
3. Cervical or uterine problems: Problems with the structure or function of your cervix or uterus.

Some other risk factors include:

Family history: This means someone in your family (like your mother, grandmother or sister) has had a premature baby. If you were born prematurely, you’re more likely than others to give birth early.

Weight: Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy or not gaining enough weight during pregnancy.

Maternal health conditions, including:
High blood pressure and preeclampsia
Diabetes
Thrombophilias (blood clotting disorders)
o Certain infections during pregnancy, like a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or other infections of the uterus, urinary tract or vagina.

Smoking: Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than babies born to nonsmokers to be born prematurely.

Stress: High levels of stress that continue for a long time may cause health problems.

Maternal age: Being younger than 17 or older than 35 makes you more likely than other women to give birth early.

Race/ethnicity: We don’t know why race plays a role in premature birth; researchers are working to learn more about it.   In the United States, black women are more likely to give birth early, followed by Native American and Hispanic moms.

These are just a few of the risk factors for preterm labor or premature birth. You can see a complete list on our website.

There are some things that ALL women can do to reduce their risk of preterm labor and premature birth:
• Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or take street drugs.
• Make sure you go to all your prenatal care appointments, even if you’re feeling fine. This allows your doctor to detect any problems early.
• Try to get to a healthy weight before your get pregnant. Once you are pregnant, ask your doctor how much weight you should gain.
• Make sure any chronic health conditions are being treated and are under control.
• Protect yourself from infections by washing your hands with soap and water. Know what foods to avoid during pregnancy. Have safe sex. Don’t touch cat feces (waste).
• Try to reduce stress. Make sure you ask for help from family and friends.
• Once you have had your baby, it is best to wait at least 18 to 23 months before getting pregnant again. And make sure you schedule a preconception checkup before your next pregnancy.

If you have concerns about whether you may be at risk for giving birth early, see your health care provider. With guidance and care, you will have a better chance of having a healthy pregnancy.

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

 

Diabetes and premature birth: know the facts

Monday, November 10th, 2014

speak to your health care providerDid you know that having diabetes during pregnancy is a risk factor for preterm labor and premature birth? Diabetes is a serious health concern, especially when left untreated or undiagnosed. November is prematurity awareness month and we want to make sure you’re aware of the risks diabetes can have on your pregnancy.

About 9 out of 100 women in the U.S. have diabetes – a condition in which your body has too much sugar (called glucose) in the blood. You can develop diabetes at any time in your life.

Some women also develop diabetes during pregnancy, which is called gestational diabetes. Four out of every 100 pregnant women (4 percent) develop this type of diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you give birth. But if you have it in one pregnancy, you’re more likely to have it in your next pregnancy. You’re also more likely to develop diabetes later in life.

Having diabetes or gestational diabetes can cause you to go into preterm labor, before 37 weeks gestation. Babies born this early can face serious health problems including long-term intellectual and developmental disabilities.

How can you find out if you have diabetes?

If you are not pregnant yet, speak with your health care provider about your concerns. He will ask you about your family health history, and evaluate your present health. He can give you a glucose tolerance test and measure your blood glucose levels to see if you have diabetes.

If you are pregnant already, you may get a glucose tolerance test at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, or earlier if your provider thinks you’re likely to develop gestational diabetes. You may have heard of other pregnant women having to drink an 8oz cup of a thick syrupy drink – this is part of the glucose tolerance test, along with measuring your blood glucose levels.

Who is at risk for developing gestational diabetes?

You may be more likely than other women to develop gestational diabetes if:

• You’re 30 years old or older.
• You’re overweight or you gained a lot of weight during pregnancy.
• You have a family history of diabetes. This means that one or more of your family members has diabetes.
• You’re African-American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic or Pacific Islander. These ethnic groups are more likely to have gestational diabetes than other groups.
• You had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
• In your last pregnancy, you gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 1/2 pounds or was stillborn.

What else can you do?

It’s important for you to take care of yourself, but especially if you have diabetes or a risk factor for gestational diabetes. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your health care provider about taking a glucose tolerance test. Getting diabetes under control could help prevent preterm labor and premature birth. Being active, eating healthy foods that are low in sugar and losing weight may help reduce your chances of developing diabetes later in life.

Learn more about managing pre-existing diabetes and gestational diabetes.  And, as always, visit your health care provider before and during pregnancy.

 

Prematurity awareness month: here’s what’s happening

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

prematurity awareness monthIt’s November, and everyone at March of Dimes is excited because it is Prematurity Awareness Month. We will be very busy getting the word out about the serious problems of preterm birth. There are ways that you can participate in helping us end prematurity.

Take a look at what we have in store:

November 17th is World Prematurity Day

Help raise awareness by wearing purple (the color of prematurity and the March of Dimes).

Twitter chats

Join in the conversation on one or all of the following chats:

November 5th – Chat on premature birth with Mom’s Rising. What is premature birth? Are you at risk? Is it ok to schedule your baby’s birth? What if you had a prior premature birth – will it happen again? What can you  do?  Ask questions and get answers on this chat at 2pm ET. Use #WellnessWed.

November 11th –  Have you or someone you know lost a baby due to prematurity or birth defects? The loss of a child is so unfair. Please join us as we share stories at 8pm ET. Use #losschat.

November 13th – Chat on Early Intervention (EI) services with the CDC, NCBDDD and CPIR. Many preemies are developmentally delayed or have disabilities. In fact, premature birth is the leading cause of lasting childhood disabilities. Early Intervention services can help your child improve. Learn how to access them and get your questions answered at 2pm ET. Use #ActEarlychat.

November 14th  – A 24 hour chat relay is happening all across the globe! The March of Dimes will be chatting about parenting in the NICU at 1pm ET. Join us at that time and tune in any other time during the day for the 24 hour chat relay. Use #worldprematurityday to watch or participate.

November 19th – Chat on Preemies with NICHD. One in 9 babies is born preterm. Learn who is at risk, what you can do to have a healthy baby, and what is being done to help end prematurity. Join us at 2pm ET and use #preemiechat.

November 20th – Chat on all things prematurity with Johnson & Johnson Global Health. Join us at 1pm ET and use #prematuritychat.

News Moms Need blog topics

We will be blogging throughout the month on topics related to prematurity including: NEC, diabetes, new research, “who’s who” in the NICU, and other important topics.

Facebook

“Like” and follow us on Facebook on the World Prematurity Day page and on the March of Dimes page.

These are just a few of the events we have on our calendar. Check back throughout the month for the most up-to-date prematurity news and information. We hope you join us and tell all your friends! With your help, we will get closer to achieving our mission of ending prematurity.

 

Did you get your pertussis vaccine?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Pertussis VaccinePertussis, also referred to as whooping cough, is a respiratory infection that is easily spread and very dangerous for a baby. Pertussis can cause severe and uncontrollable coughing and trouble breathing. Pertussis can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age. And, about half of those babies who get whooping cough are hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 17,325 cases of pertussis from January 1-August 16, 2014, which represents a 30% increase compared to this time period in 2013. The best way to protect your baby and yourself against pertussis is to get vaccinated.

If you are pregnant:

Pregnant women should get the pertussis vaccine. The vaccine is safe to get before, during or after pregnancy, but works best if you get it during your pregnancy to better protect your baby once he is born. Your body creates protective antibodies and passes some of them to your baby before birth, which provides short term protection after your baby is born.  Your baby won’t get the first of the 3 infant vaccinations until he is 2 months old, so your vaccination during pregnancy helps to protect him until he receives his vaccines. The pertussis vaccine is part of the Tdap vaccine (which also includes tetanus and diphtheria).

The CDC recommends women get the Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy. The best time to get the shot is between your 27th through 36th week of pregnancy.

The vaccine is also recommended for caregivers, close friends and relatives who spend time with your baby.

Click here for more information or speak with your prenatal health care provider.

Bottom line
Get vaccinated for pertussis  – it may save your baby’s life.

Test your flu knowledge – true or false?

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

got my flu shotYou can catch the flu from the flu shot.

FALSE.  The flu (influenza) shot is made up of inactivated (dead) flu virus. It does not contain any live influenza virus, so you can’t get the flu from the flu shot. Some people report soreness at the injection site while others report a headache, itching, fatigue, aches or fever, but these symptoms should go away within a day or two. The flu lasts much longer.

If you got the flu shot last year, you don’t need to get it again.

FALSE. You need a flu shot every year.  Flu viruses are always changing. Each year’s flu vaccine is made to protect from viruses that are most likely to cause disease that year. A flu shot protects you from three or four different flu types.

You can’t die from flu.

FALSE.  Each year, thousands of people in the United States die from flu, and many more are hospitalized. Children with special health care needs are especially vulnerable to complications from flu.

Flu can be spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact with someone who has flu.

TRUE. Sneezing and coughing spreads the flu. It is easy to catch flu if you are close to someone who has it.

Children have the highest risk of getting flu.

TRUE.  Anyone can get flu, but the risk of getting flu is highest among children.

The best way to avoid getting flu is to stay home.

FALSE. The best protection from flu and its complications is the flu shot. It protects you from getting it and helps to decrease the spread of flu.

The flu shot is better than the flu nasal spray.

TRUE and FALSE.  Only the flu shot is recommended for pregnant woman and individuals with certain health conditions (such as asthma, etc.).  Some individuals prefer the flu nasal spray (which contains a live but weakened version of the flu), but it is not recommended for pregnant women or certain individuals. Check with your health care provider before deciding if you or your child should get the nasal spray or the shot.

Once you get the flu shot, you are protected from flu immediately.

FALSE. After getting the flu shot, it takes about two weeks to develop protection from flu. Then, the protection lasts several months to a year.

Flu can make some people much sicker than others.

TRUE. Flu can make certain people seriously sick. They include young children, pregnant women, people age 65 and older, people with certain health conditions (eg. heart, lung or kidney disease), and people with a weakened immune system. Flu can be especially dangerous for children with developmental disabilities.

So, how did you do?  Hopefully, you will see that getting a flu shot is very important and you will get yours soon.  I got mine and a purple bandage!

October is here (and so are pumpkin spiced lattes)

Monday, October 6th, 2014

pumpkins and autumnPumpkin pie and pumpkin spiced lattes are two of my favorite autumn indulgences. But if you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, here’s what you need to know.

Caffeine during pregnancy

The March of Dimes recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant consume no more than 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day. This is the amount of caffeine in about one 12-ounce cup of coffee. If you are pregnant and craving a pumpkin spiced latte or beverage, you can find a variety of them. Many coffee houses display nutrition facts for their drinks. You can also request this info from their employees or visit their website (if they have one), which makes checking caffeine and sugar easier. At one coffee shop I visited, their pumpkin spiced latte had approximately 75 mg of caffeine in a 12 oz serving, which is fine for pregnant women. But it also contained 38 grams of sugar, which is a lot for one drink.

Keep in mind, during pregnancy, caffeine passes through the placenta and reaches your baby. For more information on caffeine and pregnancy, visit our website.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds are safe and nutritious to eat during pregnancy, not to mention delicious. Pumpkin seeds contain nutrients such as protein, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, iron and potassium. To learn different ways to prepare pumpkin seeds visit our blog post. Pumpkin and canned pumpkin puree are low calorie, nutritious foods. Pumpkin itself is a good source of fiber, iron, potassium and vitamin A and C. So if you decide to skip the pumpkin spiced latte, you can still enjoy other pumpkin treats.

If you have any questions about what foods or beverages are safe to consume during pregnancy, email us at askus@marchofdimes.org.

Today is World Heart Day

Monday, September 29th, 2014

World Heart DayThis year the World Heart Federation is focusing on creating heart-healthy environments for you and your family. World Heart Day raises awareness of maintaining a healthy diet, limiting alcohol and tobacco use, and increasing physical activity.

World Heart Day is a good time to think about one of the most common birth defects – congenital heart defects. It affects 1 in 100 babies every year. These heart defects can affect the heart’s structure, how it works, or both.

Heart defects develop in the early weeks of pregnancy when the heart is forming. Severe congenital heart defects are usually diagnosed during pregnancy or soon after birth. Less severe heart defects often aren’t diagnosed until children are older.

What can you do?

We’re not sure what causes most heart defects, but things that may play a role include diabetes and obesity (being very overweight).

If you are trying to become pregnant or you are currently pregnant:

• Do not smoke

• Do not drink alcohol

• Talk to your provider about any medicine you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicine, herbal products and supplements

• Maintain a healthy diet and exercise 30 minutes a day if you can

• Go to all your prenatal visits

After birth your baby may be tested for critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) as part of newborn screening before he leaves the hospital. All states require newborn screening, but not all require screening for CCHD. You can ask your provider if your state tests for CCHD or click here to see what your state covers.

After birth, signs and symptoms of heart defects can include:

• Fast breathing

• Gray or blue skin coloring

• Fatigue (feeling tired all of the time)

• Slow weight gain

• Swollen belly, legs or puffiness around the eyes

• Trouble breathing while feeding

• Sweating, especially while feeding

• Abnormal heart murmur (extra or abnormal sounds heard during a heartbeat)

If you see any of these signs, call your baby’s health care provider right away. For more information about congenital heart defects visit our website.

If you have questions, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Click here to read more News Moms Need blog posts on: pregnancy, pre-pregnancy, infant and child care, help for your child with delays or disabilities, and other hot topics.