Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

What is reflux?

Friday, November 10th, 2017

All babies spit up at times. But if your baby spits up more than usual, she may have gastroesophageal reflux or simply reflux. Reflux is common among premature babies. Most babies outgrow it after a few months.

What happens when your baby has reflux?

  1. Food first passes through the mouth and the esophagus into the stomach. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth and the stomach.
  2. Once the food is in the stomach, it comes back up the esophagus and out of the mouth.
  3. Most babies with reflux are less bothered by it than their parents. They grow and develop normally.

What can you do?

With time, reflux usually goes away on its own. However, there are some changes you can make to how you feed and position your baby that may help:

  • Hold your baby upright during feeding.
  • Try smaller, more frequent feedings.
  • Burp your baby often, especially if you are feeding her with a bottle.
  • Try a different nipple on your baby’s bottle so she swallows less air.
  • Ask your baby’s provider if you can thicken expressed breast milk or formula with a small amount of rice cereal.
  • Keep your baby still after feeding.
  • Raise the head of your baby’s bed 30 degrees or so.

If changes to how you feed and position your baby don’t seem to help, talk to your baby’s provider to see if medication may be an option.

When should you call your baby’s health care provider?

Some babies may have other problems digesting food. Call your baby’s health care provider if she has any of these symptoms:

  • The spit-up is bright yellow or green.
  • There is a large amount of spit-up.
  • Your baby arches his back or cries during feeding.
  • Your baby vomits with great force (projectile vomiting).
  • Your baby refuses to eat or is irritable after feeding.

Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

October is RSV Awareness Month

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Almost all babies get it before the age of 2. Your baby can get RSV at any time of year, but it’s most common from November to April.

Symptoms of RSV

For most healthy children, the symptoms of RSV are similar to those of a cold and can last about two weeks. They can include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sluggish or being inactive
  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing

Some babies have a high risk of getting severe RSV. This includes babies who were born premature, have lung problems, heart problems or other chronic illnesses. Severe RSV may lead to other serious infections, like:

  • Bronchiolitis, an infection that causes swelling in the smallest air passages in the lungs
  • Pneumonia, an infection in one or both lungs

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age.

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your baby’s health care provider right away:

  • Cough that gets worse or she coughs up yellow, green or gray mucus
  • High fever. High fever is a temperature greater than 100.4 F in babies younger than 2 months, 101 F in babies aged 3 to 6 months or 103 F in babies older than 6 months.
  • Looks dehydrated
  • Loss of appetite
  • Thick nasal discharge
  • Trouble breathing or mouth and fingernails look blue

Prevent the spread of RSV

You can help protect your baby from RSV by:

  • Keeping her away from people who are sneezing or coughing
  • Making sure everyone who touches the baby has clean hands
  • Keeping your baby away from crowds of people
  • Not allowing anyone to smoke near your baby

Treatment for RSV

There is no specific treatment for RSV. If your baby has RSV, you can help to relieve the symptoms by making sure she drinks lots of fluids, using a rubber suction bulb to help clear mucus from her nose, and using a cool-mist humidifier. If your baby has a fever, talk to her health provider about using acetaminophen.

Babies who are at high risk from severe RSV may benefit from medication that helps prevent RSV from becoming severe. This medication is called palivizumab. It is given in monthly injections during the fall and winter months. However, this medication does not prevent infection with RSV and it does not help cure or treat children who already have severe RSV. If your baby is a high risk for severe RSV, talk to her provider about whether palivizumab may be an option.

Have any questions? Email or text us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Breastfeeding basics

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Today’s post is from Nancy Hurst, director of Women’s Support Services at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, who will be discussing #Breastfeeding101 with us on Twitter on September 28, 2017 at 1pm EST / 12pm CST.

Here is a brief preview of the breastfeeding insight she will be providing in our #Breastfeeding101 chat.

As a board certified lactation consultant at Texas Children’s Hospital, I have heard it all! No breastfeeding experience looks the same and moms, whether it’s their first or last child, generally have many questions. Here is a look at what to expect:

The first few hours:

It’s important for new moms, when they are able, to attempt breastfeeding as quickly as possible after their baby is born. It is in this first round of feeding that babies get colostrum, a valuable, immune-boosting fluid.

While most babies are eager to latch onto their mother’s nipple, some infants need a little help the first few times. Moms, if your baby isn’t latching right away, don’t worry! It will happen.

You can help encourage latching by giving your newborn the best opportunity with extended skin-to-skin contact. This contact helps your baby relax and, eventually, you will begin to see signs that he or she is ready to feed. These signs can include: light fussing, increased alertness or changes in facial expression, rooting (opening their mouth and searching to suck on contact).

Positioning the baby is also key. Mothers should make sure to hold the baby in a position that has them facing your breast with your nipple near their mouth. Once you see a wide, open mouth, pull your baby in close and they are likely to latch on.

The first few days:

In the first few days, many moms may wonder if their baby is getting enough milk.

Remember the old saying, “What goes in, must come out?” The easiest way to figure out if your newborn is getting enough milk is to keep count of their wet and poopy diapers each day. If you have a smartphone, there are many apps that can help track this.

In the first few days of life, the number of diapers should equal about how many days old your baby is. Then, by the end of the first week, moms can expect at least six wet diapers and several poopy ones a day that are yellow and seedy.

Some moms may find themselves unable to breastfeed. In these cases, I cannot stress enough how valuable your support team is! This includes your obstetrician, pediatrician, lactation consultant, hospital staff, and your friends and family.

If a mom finds herself unable to breastfeed for any reason, there are now more resources than ever to still provide breastmilk to babies, such as pasteurized donor milk from a milk bank.

My one note of caution for moms turning to donor breast milk is to use only donor milk. Without thorough screenings of both the donor mother and the milk, you may be exposing your newborn to risks such as bacteria or viruses.

The first few weeks:

After the first few weeks, moms may begin to plan their return to work – this is where pumping comes in!

I routinely recommend that mothers wait to introduce a bottle for four to six weeks until breastfeeding is well established. Ideally, moms would have another person introduce the bottle to get baby used to food coming from someone else.

In order to get the best results, moms should aim to start pumping right after the first morning feeding.

Finally, I recommend the following three pieces of advice to breastfeeding moms:

  1. Be informed. Learn about the importance of establishing milk production and the health benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and mother.
  2. Build your support network. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from any and all resources available to you.
  3. Have confidence in yourself and your body! Use this time to enjoy this special relationship with your baby. Remember that it is not unusual to feel some discomfort. You can always turn to your lactation consultant for advice and to answer your questions.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What is newborn screening?

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Newborn screening looks for rare but serious and mostly treatable conditions. Babies with these conditions often look healthy at birth, but if the disorder is not diagnosed and treated early, a baby may develop serious health problems. Newborn screening identifies babies with these conditions so they can get the treatment that they need. Newborn screening includes blood, hearing and heart tests.

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 her provider about getting newborn screening before she is 7 days old.

What happens if your baby is in the NICU?

Babies in the NICU may require a special process for newborn screening. If your baby is born prematurely, at a low birthweight, or needs special care in the NICU, it’s possible that some of the treatments and procedures she’s receiving may affect newborn screening results. Often, babies born early will require more than one newborn screening blood draw to make sure that the results are accurate. Talk to your baby’s NICU team if you have questions about newborn screening.

How is newborn screening done?

Newborn screening is done in 3 ways:

  1. Your baby’s baby’s heel is pricked 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, the 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). 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.

When will you get the results?

In most cases after your baby has had newborn screening, you won’t hear any more about them. Most newborn screening results are normal and if that is the case, families are not contacted. But you can always ask your baby’s health care provider for the results.

In rare cases when the screening results are out-of-range, you will receive a phone call about 2-3 weeks following the screening. This call can come from either the state newborn screening program or your baby’s health care provider and it usually means that your baby simply needs more testing.

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. You can find out which conditions your state screen for here.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Preparing for a natural disaster

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

As Hurricane Irma makes its way to the Florida area, residents are preparing for the worst. Natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes or hurricanes can cause extreme stress and affect your everyday life. If you’re pregnant or have a baby at home, being prepared for a disaster can help you cope.

Here’s some ways you can prepare:

  • If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider. Make a plan together about what to do in case of a disaster, especially if you’ve had pregnancy complications or you’re close to your due date. If your baby is in the NICU, ask about the hospital’s plan.
  • Follow local and state evacuation instructions. If you do evacuate to a shelter, make sure to let staff there know if you are pregnant.
  • Tell your providers where you plan to go if you’re evacuated and how to contact you.
  • Write down important phone numbers and get copies of important medical records for you, your partner and children.

Pack a “disaster bag” of supplies that may be helpful if you need to leave your home. Here’s what you can put in your bag:

  • Clothes and medicine for you and your family. Make sure everyone has comfortable shoes.
  • Diapers, toys, pacifiers, blankets and a carrier or portable crib for your baby.
  • Food, snacks and bottles water. If your baby eats formula or baby food, pack those items. Include chlorine or iodine tablets to treat water from a faucet.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Batteries & flashlights
  • Prenatal vitamins
  • If you’re breastfeeding, a manual pump and clean bottles

Being pregnant during and after a hurricane can be very hard on your body.  Rest when you can, drink plenty of clean water, and make sure you eat throughout the day. Go to your regular prenatal care appointments as soon as it is safe for you to do so. If you cannot get to your regular health care provider, ask the shelter or local hospital where you can go for care.

Following a disaster, some women may experience preterm labor. Make sure you know the signs of preterm labor. 

  • Change in your vaginal discharge (watery, mucus or bloody) or more vaginal discharge than usual
  • Pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, like your baby is pushing down
  • Constant low, dull backache
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
  • Regular or frequent contractions that make your belly tighten like a fist. The contractions may or may not be painful.
  • Your water breaks

Contact your provider, go to a hospital , or tell someone at the shelter if you have ANY signs or symptoms. Even if you have just one sign or symptom, it is important to contact a health care provider. Getting help quickly is the best thing you can do.

Learn more about how to prepare and cope with a natural disaster.

Breastfeeding is beneficial for moms and babies

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

In the United States, most new moms (about 80%) breastfeed their babies. And about half of these moms breastfeed for at least 6 months. You may know that breastfeeding is best for your baby, but did you know that you can benefit as well? Here is some information about why breastfeeding is good for both you and your baby.

For your baby, breast milk:

  • Has the right amount of protein, sugar, fat and most vitamins to help your baby grow and develop.
  • Contains antibodies that help protect your baby. In general, breastfed babies have fewer health problems than babies who aren’t breastfed.
  • Has fatty acids, like DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), that may help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. It also may lower the chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Is easy for your baby to digest. A breastfed baby may have less gas and belly pain than a baby who is given formula.
  • Changes as your baby grows, so he gets exactly what he needs at the right time. For the first few days after your baby is born, your breasts make colostrum. This is a thick, yellowish form of breast milk. Colostrum has nutrients and antibodies that your baby needs in the first few days of life. In 3-4 days the colostrum will gradually change to breast milk.

For you, breastfeeding:

  • Increases the amount of a hormone in your body called oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the uterus to contract. These contractions help your uterus to go back to the size it was before pregnancy and help you to stop bleeding.
  • Helps to reduce stress. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “anti-stress” hormone. It is associated with a decrease in blood pressure and cortisol levels (the hormone released in response to stress). Oxytocin also increases relaxation, sleepiness, blood flow, digestion and healing. Studies have shown that moms who breastfeed have a lower response to stress and pain.
  • Burns extra calories (up to 500 a day). This can help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight in a gradual and healthy way.

Want more information about breastfeeding? Check out Breastfeeding 101.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Fact vs. fiction: the truth about vaccines

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Vaccines are important. They help protect your baby from serious childhood diseases and help keep children healthy. Vaccines work by helping children become immune to a disease without actually getting sick. However, there are still a lot of misconceptions about vaccines. So, to debunk some common myths, here are the facts:

Myth: Spacing out vaccines is better for my baby.

Truth: There are no known benefits to following a delayed vaccination schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) childhood immunization schedule is the ONLY vaccination schedule for children that has been studied and tested for safety and effectiveness.

The CDC immunization schedule is based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This is a group of medical and public health experts that make recommendations about what vaccines should be given and when these vaccines should be given based on a number of factors, including when the vaccine is expected to produce the strongest immune response.

The CDC immunization schedule is designed to help protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they are exposed to serious and often life-threatening diseases. Children are immunized early because they are susceptible to diseases at a young age, and the consequences of these diseases can be devastating.

Myth: Too many vaccines will overwhelm my baby’s immune system.

Truth: A baby’s immune system fights off thousands of germs every day. Vaccines are made with weakened or killed viruses. But, they look enough like the live virus to make your baby’s body react and produce antibodies.  This allows your baby to become immune to the disease without first getting sick.

According to the CDC, “Even if babies receive several vaccinations in one day, vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of the antigens [parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to go to work] that they encounter every day in their environment. Vaccines provide your child with the antibodies they need to fight off the serious illnesses for which they have been vaccinated.”

Myth: Vaccines cause autism.

Truth: Vaccinations do not cause autism. Studies have shown and continue to show no association between vaccines and autism. Some people are concerned that thimerosal, a chemical that contains a form of mercury and is used in some vaccines, causes autism. Research has shown that thimerosal in vaccines does not cause autism. In 2001, thimerosal was removed from nearly all vaccines as a precautionary measure. Today, certain types of flu vaccines contain small amounts of thimerosal to help prevent contamination. You can ask for a thimerosal-free flu vaccine if you want. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about thimerosal in vaccines.

Myth: Vaccines are not necessary because the diseases are no longer found in the United States.

Truth: It is largely due to the success of vaccines that many of the vaccine-preventable diseases are no longer seen in the US. However, some diseases, like pertussis (whooping cough) and chickenpox, are still common.

If people stopped vaccinating, it is likely that we would start to see more and more cases of vaccine-preventable diseases. Also, some of the diseases that are not seen in the US still exist in many other countries. If a child who is not vaccinated comes into contact with someone who has a vaccine-preventable disease, the unvaccinated child can become very sick and possibly spread the disease throughout the community.

Myth: My child is sick, so she can’t be vaccinated.

Truth: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “a child with a minor illness such as low-grade fever (<100.4°F), an ear infection, cough, a runny nose, or mild diarrhea can safely be immunized.”

There are children with certain health conditions that may not be able to be vaccinated or who may need to get vaccinated later. In order for these children to be protected, other people need to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of contagious conditions throughout a community. Vaccinating your baby helps protect her as well as those around her.

Over the years, vaccines have helped to prevent countless cases of disease and save millions of lives. Make sure your baby gets vaccinated. This schedule shows every vaccine recommended for your baby up to 6 years of age. It also shows how many doses your child should receive of each vaccine and when the vaccines are needed.

 

This post is brought to you in partnership with Sanofi Pasteur, a global immunization leader. To learn more about our work together, please visit marchofdimes.org/Sanofi-Pasteur.

The March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands or products.

Breastfeeding and support: two peas in a pod

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

sg_breastfeeding1You may have heard that breastfeeding is natural. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. That’s why breastfeeding women need support. Support can come in many different forms and from different people. Studies show that with a supportive partner, women breastfeed longer and feel more confident about their ability to breastfeed. Whether you are a partner, friend, or family member, there are many things you can do to help support mom while she breastfeeds her little one.

How can you provide support?

  • If mom is experiencing a breastfeeding problem, offer to research the issue online to see if you can learn about solutions to relieve any discomfort.
  • Does mom need to schedule a visit with a Lactation Consultant or her health care provider? Find one in your area and offer to bring the phone, a notebook and pen and the phone numbers to her.
  • Be available to greet guests, run errands or bring mom items she may need such as water, snacks or pillows.
  • Before feedings, bring baby to mom and soothe her until mom is ready to feed. After feedings, offer to burp her.
  • Offer to cuddle baby with skin-to-skin, bathe, or read to her while mom relaxes.

Let the breastfeeding mom in your life know you are there to support her and help give her baby the best start.

Read about other helpful tips in our Breastfeeding 101 series.

Fever and your baby

Monday, July 17th, 2017

mother with sick babyWhen your baby has a fever, it can be very frightening. Here is some information that can help you better understand why your baby has a fever and what you can do to help him.

What is a fever?

A fever is a body temperature that is higher than normal. Your child’s temperature will vary with age, activity, and even the time of day. Babies have a higher temperature than older children. And everyone’s temperature is highest between late afternoon and early evening and lowest between midnight and early morning.

A normal temperature can be anywhere from 97.5°F (36.4°C) and 99.5°F (37.5°C). Most health care providers consider a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C) as a sign of a fever.

What causes a fever?

A fever is important in helping your baby or child fight an infection. If your baby has an illness of some kind, his body temperature will increase. This increase in body temperature signals certain other defenses, such as white blood cells, to work and start attacking the infection. A fever will make your baby feel uncomfortable, increase his need for fluids, and make him breathe faster and his heart beat faster.

How can I treat my baby’s fever?

First, it is important to get an accurate temperature. Feeling your baby’s forehead will not give you a precise measurement—you need to use a thermometer to get the best information. For a baby, a rectal thermometer is the most accurate way to measure temperature.

It isn’t always necessary to see your health care provider when your child has a fever. Here are some things that can help:

  • Acetaminophen (Tyleno®l) or ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®) will usually bring down your baby’s temperature. But make sure you give the correct dose.
  • Do not overdress your child. Alcohol bath, ice packs, etc. are NOT recommended and should not be used.
  • Make sure your baby gets a lot of fluids to help prevent dehydration. Signs of dehydration include crying without tears, a dry mouth, and fewer wet diapers.

When should I call my baby’s provider?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you should call your child’s health care provider right away if he has a fever and:

  • Is younger than 3 months (12 weeks) and has a temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher. Call even if you baby doesn’t seem sick. Babies this young can get sick very quickly.
  • Fever rises above 104°F (40°C) repeatedly for a child of any age.
  • Looks very ill, is unusually drowsy, or is very fussy.
  • Has been in a very hot place, such as an overheated car.
  • Has other symptoms, such as a stiff neck, severe headache, severe sore throat, severe ear pain, an unexplained rash, or repeated vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Has signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth, sunken soft spot or significantly fewer wet diapers and is not able to take in fluids.
  • Has immune system problems, such as sickle cell disease or cancer, or is taking medications, such as steroids.
  • Has had a seizure.

Also call your child’s doctor if:

  • The fever persists for more than 24 hours in a child younger than 2 years.
  • The fever persists for more than 3 days (72 hours) in a child 2 years of age or older.
  • Your child still “acts sick” once his fever is brought down.
  • Your child seems to be getting worse.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

What are cleft lip and cleft palate?

Friday, July 7th, 2017

cleft lipCleft lip and cleft palate occur when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form completely during pregnancy. A cleft lip is an opening in a baby’s upper lip. Cleft palate occurs when a baby’s palate (the roof of the mouth) has an opening in it. About 2,650 babies are born with a cleft palate and 4,440 babies are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate each year in the United States.

What causes cleft lip and cleft palate?

Cleft lip and palate happen very early in pregnancy. Your baby’s lips form between 4 and 7 weeks of pregnancy, and the palate forms between 6 and 9 weeks of pregnancy. Oral clefts don’t have to happen together—a baby can have one without the other.

We’re not sure what causes cleft lip and cleft palate. They may be caused by a combination of factors, like genes and things in your environment, such as medicines you may take. Some risk factors include:

  • Smoking.
  • Diabetes. If you have diabetes before pregnancy, you have an increased risk of having a baby with a cleft lip with or without cleft palate, compared to women who do not have diabetes.
  • Taking certain medicines. If you have epilepsy and take anti-seizure medicines (like topiramate or valproic acid) during the first trimester, you’re more likely to have a baby with cleft lip (with or without cleft palate) than women who don’t take these medicines.

How are cleft lip and cleft palate treated?

In most cases, surgery is needed. Each baby is unique, but surgery to repair cleft lip usually is done at 10 to 12 weeks of age. Surgery for cleft palate is done between 9 and 18 months of age. Children who have a cleft lip or palate may need services such as speech therapy and special dental care as they get older.

Can cleft lip and cleft palate be prevented?

These conditions cannot always be prevented. But here are some things you can do to reduce the chance of your baby having a cleft:

  • Take folic acid. Before pregnancy, take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid in it every day. During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin with 600 micrograms of folic acid in it every day.
  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Get a preconception checkup.
  • Get to a healthy weight before pregnancy and talk to your provider about gaining a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy.
  • Talk to your provider to make sure any medicine you take is safe during pregnancy. Don’t stop taking any medicine without talking to your provider first.
  • Get early and regular prenatal care.
  • Protect yourself from infections. Make sure all your vaccinations are up to date, especially for rubella. Wash your hands often.

You can learn more about cleft lip and cleft palate on our website.

Have questions? Send them AskUs@marchofdimes.org.