Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

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.

Honoring parents with angel babies

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

yellow butterflyThe loss of a baby is heart wrenching.  As today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, I want to take a moment to honor those parents who have angel babies. Most people cannot even imagine being in their shoes for an instant, yet alone having to live a day-to-day existence without the baby they continue to love.

The loss of a baby touches so many people in profound and long lasting ways. No two individuals grieve in exactly the same manner. The mother may grieve differently from the father. Children who were expecting their sibling to come home from the hospital experience their own grief as well. Even grandparents and close friends may be deeply affected. The ripple effects from the loss of a baby are widely felt.

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 your grief. We also have bereavement materials available free of charge. Simply send a request to AskUs@marchofdimes.org and we will mail them out to you.

Please know that the March of Dimes is thinking of you today and every day.

Unexplained muscle weakness in children

Friday, October 10th, 2014

We have all heard of the children in Colorado who have been hospitalized with unexplained muscle weakness. It has so far affected 10 children with an illness involving the brain and spinal cord.  Let us be clear, we have been told the children have been tested and it is NOT polio. The CDC and the California Department of Health have been looking further into the cause of some cases of paralysis earlier this year. However, differences exist between the California and Colorado cases, including age of the patients, timing of cases, etc.  You may have also heard that some of the children in Colorado have had cold-like symptoms and have tested positive for Enterovirus D68; while others have not.  As the doctors, labs, various health departments and the CDC work on finding out why the children are sick, there are some things you can do:

• Be up to date on all recommended vaccinations, including polio, flu, measles and whooping cough. It is important that you and your children are vaccinated.
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom or changing a diaper.
• Avoid sick people.
• Clean and disinfect objects that have been touched by a sick person or by a visiting child.

One thing is key!  If your child is having problems walking, standing or develops sudden weakness in an arm or leg, contact a doctor right away.

According to the AAP, “Doctors and nurses who see patients with unexplained muscle weakness or paralysis in the arms or legs are testing them to see if they might have this sickness. They also are reporting information to their state or local health department.” The CDC will be issuing treatment guidelines in the next several weeks. The American Academy of Pediatrics is also monitoring cases of Enterovirus D68.

CDC features: Unexplained Paralysis Hospitalizes Children, 2014

AAP News: CDC continues investigation of neurologic illness: will issue guidelines, 2014

 

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!

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.

Saturday is Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Friday, September 26th, 2014

pillsEvery year hundreds of thousands of children take a trip to the hospital because they have taken medications they have found in their house and are way too easy for them to get their hands on. Often, old prescriptions are sitting around, forgotten, and these pose a risk to children who may find and ingest them.

Saturday, September 27th is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This effort, organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs.

Last April, Americans turned in 390 tons (over 780,000 pounds) of prescription drugs.  When those results are combined with what was collected in its eight previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 4.1 million pounds—more than 2,100 tons—of pills.

This event will be held throughout the country from 10am-2pm. You can locate a collection site near you here.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Monday, September 15th, 2014

family playing soccerThere are many things you can do at home to help your child lead an active, healthy life. September provides an opportunity to raise awareness and to get your family moving. Whether your child is at school or home, you can look for ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your entire family.

Small changes can make a huge impact. Try things like keeping TVs and computers out of your child’s bedroom or choosing a video game that encourages physical activity instead of one that allows him to sit on the couch. You can also encourage your child to be active by taking a family walk after dinner. Incorporating these small adjustments into your family’s daily routine can make a big difference in your child’s health and well-being.

Things you can do at home:

• Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables, limit foods high in fat and sugars, and prepare family meals at home instead of eating out.

• Serve your family water.

• Pack your child a well-balanced lunch for school.

• Limit computer/TV time to no more than one to two hours hours per day, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Less screen time means more play time.

• Try to keep your child on a sleep schedule; sleep loss can lead to fatigue and increased snacking.

• Look for events happening in your community that promote healthy eating or physical activity.

• Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns. Although they account for very few cases, certain metabolic disorders or hormonal imbalances can cause weight gain.

For more information on what you can do to decrease childhood obesity, visit here.

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.

Why vitamin K is important for your newborn

Friday, September 12th, 2014

YourBabyRightAfterBirth_rdax_50Your baby will receive a shot of vitamin K soon after he is born. The vitamin K shot protects your baby from developing a rare, serious bleeding problem that can affect newborns.

Babies are not able to make vitamin K on their own and they are born with very small amounts in their bodies. Vitamin K is a very important nutrient which is needed for blood clotting so that bleeding stops. We get vitamin K from food and it is also made by the healthy bacteria that live in the intestines.   However, when a baby is born, his intestinal tract does not have enough healthy bacteria to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is not easily transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy either. And although he can receive some vitamin K from breast milk, it is not enough.  It takes a while for your baby to start producing his own vitamin K. Therefore, receiving a shot of vitamin K immediately after birth helps your baby’s blood to coagulate and clot. This assists in protecting against possible abnormal bleeding in the body.

If a baby does not receive a vitamin K shot soon after birth, he may be at risk for a condition called Vitamin K deficiency bleeding or VKDB. This occurs when a baby does not have enough vitamin K and his blood cannot clot. Not getting enough vitamin K puts your baby at risk for bleeding into his intestines or even brain. Babies who do not receive the vitamin K shot after birth are actually at risk for VKDB until they are six months old.

What you need to know about enterovirus D68

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

child with coldRecently children in a number of states have become very sick with a severe respiratory illness. The cause of these infections, in many cases, has been found to be enterovirus D68. Enteroviruses are actually quite common. They are typically seen in the summer and fall and usually peak in mid-September, right as kids are heading back to school.

Most of the time people who are infected with enteroviruses do not even get sick. Or they may have mild symptoms, similar to the common cold. However the strain of enterovirus that is currently making the rounds seems to be causing more severe respiratory illness. Children are being admitted to hospitals and some are even ending up in intensive care units (ICUs).

Anyone can become infected with enterovirus D68. However, infants, children, and teenagers are most often at-risk because they have not been exposed to the virus before and have not built up immunity yet. Also children with asthma or a history of wheezing can be very vulnerable.

There is no specific treatment for enterovirus D68. Doctors treat and manage the symptoms. Since this is a virus, antibiotics are not effective. There are also no vaccines available that can prevent the infection. The best thing to do is to protect yourself and others from getting the virus in the first place. There are three things that you can do to protect yourself and your family from enterovirus D68:

• Make sure you are washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Monitor young children while they are washing their hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. This includes kissing, hugging, and sharing utensils.

• Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces that may be contaminated.

Colds and viruses are very common at this time of year. However, if your child has a cold and has difficulty breathing, begins wheezing, or her condition changes in any way, it is important to contact her health care provider right away. This is especially true for children with asthma and/or allergies.

The CDC will continue to monitor the situation closely and help those states with affected children. You can find updated information on their website.

September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month

Friday, September 5th, 2014

newborn-screening-picture1September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month. All babies in the United States get newborn screening. These tests look for rare but serious and mostly treatable health disorders. Babies with these disorders often look healthy. But unless the condition is diagnosed and treated early, a baby can develop lasting physical problems or intellectual disabilities, or may even die.

How is newborn screening done?

Newborn screening is done in 3 ways:
1. Most newborn screening is done with a blood test. 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.
2. For the hearing screening, your provider places a tiny, soft speaker in your baby’s ear to check how your baby responds to sound.
3. 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).

When is newborn screening done?
Your baby gets newborn screening before he leaves the hospital, when he’s 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 many health conditions should your baby be screened for?
Each state decides which tests are required. The March of Dimes would like to see all babies in all states screened for at least 31 health conditions. Many of these health conditions can be treated if found early.

Today all states require newborn screening for at least 26 health conditions. The District of Columbia and 42 states screen for 29 of the 31 recommended conditions. Some states require screening for up to 50 or more. You can find out which conditions your state screen for here.