Archive for the ‘Planning for Baby’ Category

Why should men care about Zika?

Monday, July 25th, 2016

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

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

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.

The lowdown on insect repellants

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

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!

Monday, July 11th, 2016

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

Monday, July 11th, 2016

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.

 

How mosquitoes spread the Zika virus

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

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.

 

Our National Ambassador meets Pres. Obama at the White House – visit highlights Zika

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

Pres Obama w Nat'l Ambassador IsmaelMarch of Dimes National Ambassador Ismael Torres-Castrodad and his mother Isamari Castrodad, along with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Edward McCabe and Kelly Cook, Chief Marketing Officer of Kmart and mom of preemie triplets, met President Obama in the Oval Office.

The June 30th meeting with the President was warm and welcoming. The discussion highlight was the March of Dimes Zika advocacy and education efforts. The president emphasized how important this issue was to him and that he intends to do his utmost to ensure adequate resources are provided to combat Zika. President Obama discussed with Ismael and his mother the cases of Zika among their friends and acquaintances in Puerto Rico.

The President’s obvious passion and commitment on this issue made such an impression on Kelly Cook that she pledged on the spot to give $250,000 from Kmart to March of Dimes towards our Zika prevention efforts. Thank you Kelly and Kmart!!

After the visit, Ismael, his mother, and Kelly spoke to a reporter from the Washington Post, which resulted in this article on their visit.

The March of Dimes is petitioning lawmakers to fund Zika prevention efforts. You can sign our petition to tell your legislators to #ZAPzika now by committing resources to protect our families from Zika.

Learn about the Zika virus and how ONE mosquito bite may cause devastating birth defects.

Send your Zika questions to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Together, we can #ZAPZika.

 

 

Zika and mosquitoes – how to protect yourself

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Zika mosquitoes infographic MOD

Be sure to check out our article for everything you need to know about the Zika virus and pregnancy. Learn what it is, how it spreads, signs and symptoms, how to avoid it, how it affects pregnant women and babies, and what you can do to be safe.

Questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Protect yourself from mosquitoes

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Zika - bug sprayThe most common way for Zika to spread is through the bite of an infected mosquito. So the best way to protect yourself is to avoid mosquito bites. While Zika is currently not being transmitted in the US, it’s still a good idea to know how to keep you and your family safe.

Use insect repellant

The best way to protect yourself against mosquito bites is to use insect repellant. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a spray or lotion:

  • Use one that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All EPA-registered bug sprays and lotions are checked to make sure they’re safe and effective.
  • Use products that contain:
    • DEET
    • picaridin
    • oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Most repellants are safe to use on babies 2 months and older, but check with your baby’s health care provider.  Do not use oil of lemon eucalyptus on children 3 years or younger.
  • Do not wear insect repellant under clothes.
  • Put on sunscreen first before any bug spray.

If you’ve been in a Zika-affected area, use insect repellant for 3 weeks after you return, even if you do not feel sick. This will help to prevent Zika from spreading to others.

Wear the right clothing

  • Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks. Ankles and necks are especially vulnerable to mosquito bites so make sure they are protected.
  • If hiking or camping, wear permethrin-treated clothes. Do not use permethrin on skin.
  • If you are pregnant or trying to conceive and you work outside, talk to your employer about working inside. If that’s not possible, make sure your clothes protect and cover your skin.

Keep your environment safe

  • Take steps to keep mosquitoes outside and to prevent them from breeding.
  • Remove any standing water.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning.
  • Make sure that screens on doors or windows are intact and do not have any holes.
  • Use mosquito netting across the top of your baby’s stroller or crib to help keep your baby safe from mosquitoes. Keep the netting out of reach of your baby and make sure it doesn’t touch your baby’s face or body.

Learn more about Zika on our website. Questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

The Zika virus may stop brain development causing microcephaly and birth defects

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

mosquito_3DWhen a woman is pregnant and is infected with the Zika virus, it may cross the placenta and may stop the development of a baby’s brain. Zika infection during pregnancy causes a birth defect called microcephaly as well as other brain problems known as “fetal brain disruption sequence.”

Microcephaly means small (micro) head (cephaly) – a baby’s head is smaller than the heads of babies of the same age and sex. Microcephaly does not always cause serious problems for a baby. But in certain cases, microcephaly can cause lasting consequences, such as intellectual and developmental disabilities. Babies born with microcephaly may have cerebral palsy, poor growth, face deformities, feeding problems, seizures, problems with hearing or vision, and hyperactivity. They may face life-threatening medical conditions. Microcephaly caused by the Zika virus may be severe and is extremely concerning.

There is no cure for microcephaly. Babies with microcephaly will need regular medical check-ups and follow up care. Many will need specialized treatment by doctors such as a neurologist, developmental and behavioral pediatrician, and rehabilitation specialists. Early intervention services for babies and toddlers as well as special education services for children ages 3 and older, may be essential in helping a child develop.

Fetal brain disruption sequence refers to the halting of the development of a baby’s brain as a result of being exposed to the Zika virus. This stop in development can result in a wide variety of health problems for the baby, which can be lifelong.

The Zika virus may also be linked to growth problems in the womb, miscarriage and stillbirth.

Vaccine progress

Currently, there are no FDA-approved vaccines to prevent Zika. But, the FDA (The US Food and Drug Administration) has approved the first Zika vaccine study in human volunteers, ahead of schedule. Clinical trials should begin in the next few weeks. Although this is great news, it could take years before a safe vaccine is available to the public.

How can you stay safe?

The Zika virus is real and dangerous. Until a vaccine is available, learn all you can about how to stay safe.

The March of Dimes maintains up-to-the-minute information and materials for women and families on our website and social media. All of our information is drawn from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and other trusted sources, and available in both English and Spanish. Learn more at:

marchofdimes.org/zika
nacersano.org/zika

Check out our Twitter handle @modhealthtalk for the latest Zika news and Twitter chats.

You can help us spread the word about the Zika virus by passing along our bilingual factsheet which tells you how to protect yourself and others from Zika.

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