Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

Infant mortality. These two words should never go together.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

emotional couple sittingInfancy 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.

 

Study finds parents make medication dosing mistakes

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

medicine syringe for kidsMore 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.

Other tips

  • 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.

FDA bans antibacterial soaps and body washes

Monday, September 12th, 2016

HandwashingFrequent 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.

What all caregivers need to know about safe sleep for babies

Friday, September 9th, 2016

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.

Give them tomorrow

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Give them tomorrowToday is an important one here at the March of Dimes.

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.

 

We're in this together

 

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.

Breastfeeding after a natural disaster

Monday, September 5th, 2016

breastfeedingBaton 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.

Preemies need vaccines, too

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Special thanks to the CDC for sharing this post with us in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month.

NICU babyHaving a premature baby can be stressful, and as a parent of a preemie, you may have many questions about keeping your baby healthy. One of those questions may be about whether or not you should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) recommended immunization schedule for your baby, or if you need to adjust vaccine timing based on your baby’s early arrival.

The CDC and pediatricians agree that preterm babies, regardless of their birth weight and size, receive most vaccines according to their chronological age (the time since delivery). In fact, vaccinating as early as possible is important, because according to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, preterm babies don’t get as many maternal antibodies through the placenta as full term babies do. This means they are more vulnerable to diseases during their first months of life. The recommended immunization schedule protects against 14 of these diseases, which can be very serious for babies.

Vaccines are safe for preemies, but like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. The most common side effects are mild (such as redness where the shot was given) and go away within a few days. The side effects associated with vaccines are similar in preterm and full term babies.

There is one exception to following the recommended schedule — the hepatitis B vaccine, which is typically given at birth. This vaccine might not work as well in preterm babies weighing less than 70.5 ounces (2,000 grams). If a baby weighs less than 70.5 ounces and the mother is not infected with hepatitis B, the baby should receive the first hepatitis B dose one month after birth. If the mother is infected or her status is unknown, the baby should receive the vaccine at birth, but it should not be counted as part of the three-dose hepatitis B vaccine series. Then one month after birth, the baby should begin the full three-dose series.

The rotavirus vaccine may also be given differently to preterm babies. Babies usually get the first dose of the vaccine at 8 weeks, although vaccine is licensed for use as early as 6 weeks of age. CDC recommends that if a baby 6 weeks or older has been in the hospital since birth, the rotavirus vaccine should not be given until discharge.

Preemies are vulnerable to diseases and serious infections. Vaccinating according to the recommended schedule is one of the best ways to keep them healthy. For more information, talk to your child’s doctor or visit CDC’s vaccine website for parents.

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

 

Breastfeeding and your diet

Monday, August 29th, 2016

mom breastfeedingWe received a question from a new mom asking if there are certain things she should eat while breastfeeding. Or more importantly, are there things she should avoid? The answer is that most likely, your milk will be just what your baby needs, even if your diet isn’t perfect. But eating healthy foods is still important in order to take care of yourself and your new baby.

The dietary restrictions you had during your pregnancy will not apply while you are breastfeeding. But you will still need to limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine and foods containing mercury.

What about allergies?

Most breastfed babies do not have allergic reactions to their mom’s milk. However, the proteins from foods such as cow’s milk and peanuts do pass through breast milk so if your family has a history of food allergies, you may want to discuss this with your Lactation Consultant. If you have a family history of food allergies, be sure to watch your baby for any allergic reactions such as green, mucus-like stools with signs of blood.

So what should you eat? The La Leche League International has these great ideas:

  • A well-balanced diet – choose meals with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, milk products and proteins (eg. lean meats, fish and eggs)
  • High-calorie foods – breastfeeding burns calories, so add in peanut or nut butters, olive or canola oils, whole-milk cheeses and yogurts
  • Easy to handle meals – with your baby in one arm you may find yourself only having one hand available to use for feeding yourself. Simple finger food types of meals will be easier to manage.
  • Large recipes – make or ask your family and friends to provide large dishes or casseroles so you can freeze leftovers.

Bottom line:

By breastfeeding you are providing your baby with the best start. And by maintaining a healthy diet you will be better able to take care of yourself, as you tend to your new bundle. if you have questions about your diet while breastfeeding, reach out to a Lactation Consultant.

Babies and bug spray

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

CDC's insect repellent application on kidsYou’ve heard about the Zika virus in certain parts of the United States, Puerto Rico and other countries, such as Brazil. One of the ways to combat Zika is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Babies and children need protection, too, but certain precautions should be taken.

 

Here are the CDC’s guidelines:

  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
  • Always follow instructions (on the label) when applying insect repellent to children.
  • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
    • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.

What about “natural” or non-EPA registered repellants?

We do not know the effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural repellents.

  • To protect yourself against diseases like chikungunya, dengue, and Zika, CDC and EPA recommend using an EPA-registered insect repellent.
  • Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. The EPA’s search tool can help you find the one that is best for you or your child, depending on different factors.

Other things you can do:

  • You can protect your baby or child from insect bites by dressing him in pants and shirts with long sleeves, shoes and socks.
  • Cover the crib, bassinet or stroller with mosquito netting.
  • Take steps to reduce mosquitoes inside and outside of your home by using screens or staying indoors where there is air conditioning.
  • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, (kiddie) pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers more tips on using repellents safely.

They also note that the following products are not effective repellents:

  • Wristbands soaked in chemical repellents
  • Garlic or vitamin B1 taken by mouth
  • Ultrasonic devices that give off sound waves designed to keep insects away
  • Bird or bat houses
  • Backyard bug zappers (Insects may actually be attracted to your yard).

 Remember:

  • Always follow the product label instructions.
  • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
  • Permethrin should not be applied to skin – apply it to your child’s clothing only.

See our article on Zika for more information on how to keep your family safe.

Questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Buying breast milk online – is it safe?

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Amy-Hair-MD-PFWToday we welcome guest blogger Amy Hair, MD, neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Hair specializes in neonatal nutrition.

Online shopping, in many cases, seems to be the way to go; it’s faster, cheaper and more convenient for the consumer than visiting the store. But, a study published in the May 2015 issue of Pediatrics shows convenience isn’t always best, especially when it comes to your infant’s health.

There are many reasons a mother may turn to purchasing breast milk. In the case of a premature birth, mothers may not be producing enough breast milk. In addition to lower production due to an early birth, the stress and shock that a mother feels after giving birth pre-term can be exacerbated by the requirements of expressing breast milk at all hours of the day and night. In many of these cases, a mother may think to buy breast milk online.

Online human milk donation and sharing has become more popular in recent years with an estimated 13,000 advertisements popping up annually on popular seller sites. Some mothers turn to the internet to obtain breast milk because purchasing it from milk banks can be expensive. Prices often range from three to five dollars an ounce, leading some people to refer to the commodity as “liquid gold.” Although many sellers may be posting and donating altruistically, not everyone has the purest of intentions, as proven by this new study.

Researchers tested 102 samples from donor milk advertised online and found that 1 in 10 samples were contaminated with cow’s milk. Of the 11 total samples which contained bovine DNA, 10 had enough contamination to be considered non-accidental. This contamination poses a large and dangerous risk to infants who may have an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk. Additionally, the researchers found that nearly all of the bags of milk they purchased online arrived without meeting the correct temperature requirements for breast milk and that 75 percent of the samples had high levels of bacterial contamination or detectable levels of disease-causing pathogens, such as Salmonella and E. coli, which would make the milk unsafe for infant consumption.

Unlike milk bank systems that follow the criteria set by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), online sharing systems do not usually include the rigorous screening and pasteurization required by HMBANA banks. Without proof of regulated and monitored screening, the risks and dangers in receiving contaminated and sometimes infected human breast milk are present.

The bottom line is that when you purchase breast milk online, you don’t know if the milk you are receiving is safe. The risks of inadequate screening and pasteurization include viral and bacterial infection and remind us about the reality that some potentially-transmitted viruses and diseases are asymptomatic. Talk to your infant’s pediatrician about if you have any questions and you are not able to produce enough milk to feed your baby. You can also consult lactation support organizations for advice. Though we often hear “breast is best,” it is safer to supplement your baby’s nutrition with formula than unscreened donor milk.

Since January 2009, all infants at Texas Children’s Hospital weighing less than 3 pounds are fed specially tested, processed and pasteurized donor breast milk if their mothers are unable to provide enough of their own breast milk. As a result of this initiative, we had a large drop in our incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a devastating intestinal disorder, from the national average of 12% down to just 2-3%.

Whether your child is a patient in Texas Children’s NICU, a premature infant at another hospital or a healthy baby, try to take advantage of lactation support services in your area. The importance of mother’s milk to the health and development of newborn babies is priceless.