Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

The NICU–what you need to know

Friday, November 21st, 2014

in-the-NICU_jpg_rdax_50Having a baby admitted to the NICU can be frightening and confusing. There is a lot of information to learn and understand very quickly. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious. But understanding what is going on and knowing what to expect can help lessen anxiety and make you feel more confident about being a parent in the NICU. We have many resources available online that can help you.

As you probably learned very quickly, the NICU is a busy place. The babies need 24-hour care from a number of different medical professional. Here’s a list of NICU staff and what they do. Some or all of these people may be part of the NICU team at your hospital.

There are a number of conditions that babies may develop while they are in the NICU. It is important to know that every baby is different, and your little one may not have any of these complications or may have only one or two. However, here you can read an overview of some common conditions that may be treated in the NICU. If you have more specific questions about a certain medical condition, please email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org and we will do our best to get you the information you need.

One of the most intimidating factors of the NICU can be seeing all the different machines that are hooked up to your baby. Here is a guide to some of the common equipment you see in the NICU. Once you understand the purpose of the machines, what they are doing, and how they are helping your baby, you may feel a little more comfortable. You can also read our post about understanding your preemie’s cues, to help you better understand her expressions and reactions.

You have probably already realized that there are many tests your baby will have while she is in the NICU. Blood draws, ultrasounds, eye exams, and weight checks…there is a lot to keep track of during her stay. These tests help diagnose any problems and help determine how they should be treated. They also help to monitor your baby’s progress. If you have any questions about what tests are being done, or the results of any testing, make sure you talk to your baby’s doctor or NICU nurse.

Our NICU Family Support Program offers comfort and materials to NICU families during their baby’s stay. The March of Dimes currently partners with over 120 hospitals in the US. You can ask the head nurse of your NICU whether your hospital is a NICU Family Support Partner.

Finally, one of the most important resources that you can access is Share Your Story.  Reaching out to other parents who understand exactly what you are going through can be very helpful. Giving and receiving comfort, support, and advice can help you to stay positive during your baby’s time in the NICU.

Nearly 5 million Graco strollers recalled

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Parents – here’s another big recall you want to pay attention to. Graco® is recalling nearly 5 million of its strollers because of a problem with the side hinges used to fold the strollers. The hinges may cause harm to children’s hands and fingers, in some cases even cutting fingers off.

The recall includes 11 Graco stroller models made between August 2000 and September 2014 and sold in retail stores nationwide as well as Canada and Mexico. The models include:
• Aspen
• Breeze
• Capri
• Cirrus
• Glider
• Kite
• Literider
• Sierra
• Solara
• Sterling
• TravelMate

If you have any of the recalled strollers, please contact Graco for a free repair kit at www.gracobaby.com or call (800) 345-4109, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. EST. In the meantime, please take great caution when folding and unfolding the stroller. Be sure the hinges are firmly locked before placing your child in the stroller.

For more information about the Graco stroller recall, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website.

Understanding preemie cues

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

preemie handFor parents, seeing your little one in the hospital, hooked up to tubes and machines can be scary and overwhelming. We want the best for our children, and it can be unbearable to wonder if your baby is in pain or uncomfortable. Worrying comes naturally, especially when your baby can’t talk and tell you how she is doing. But did you know that babies have certain expressions and behaviors or “cues” that can tell you a lot about how she is feeling? By observing your preemie, she will give you signals that tell you if she is happy, sleepy, in pain, or ready to interact with you.

Learn your baby’s behaviors

Here are a few cues that may help you understand your baby better:

• Happy and content – A calm baby will have relaxed arms, legs and face, stable breathing, an even skin color, and may look around.

• Stressed – Her fingers may splay out wide, she will frown or grimace. Her breathing may increase and her skin become blotchy or pale. She may arch her back or neck, cry and even suddenly become limp or fall asleep.

• Self-soothing – Your baby will try to soothe herself by sucking on her fingers, grasping something (like your finger or a blanket), put her hands on her face or clasp her hands together.

Your preemie’s cues will tell you what she needs. For example, if your baby is stressed, she may be getting too much stimulation. The stimulation can come from too much sound, light or even the combination of being touched AND spoken to at the same time. According to authors Linden, Paroli and Doron in Preemies – the Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, 2nd Edition, “a premature baby is less able to shut out stimuli and to calm herself down after being disturbed.”

What can you do?

Ask the NICU nurse how to comfort your baby. For example, if your baby arches her back, hold back or change your touch. See whether she calms when you cup her head and feet with your hands.

If your baby turns toward you, offer her eye contact or a gentle voice — or both. If she turns away when you talk but toward you when you sing, she’s showing a preference for that kind of voice. Keep in mind that some preemies can only process one stimulus at a time. She may like and respond to touch but not touch in combination with your voice.

Your premature baby’s cues will change as she gets older. As you get to know your baby, you will be amazed at how well you interpret her movements and expressions, and understand how she is feeling or what she wants.

By knowing infant cues, you can learn how to connect with your baby, and respond to her needs. Hopefully, knowing how your baby is feeling will help you to relax and not worry so much.

Source: Preemies- The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, 2nd Edition, by Linden, Paroli and Doron, 2010.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view the Table of Contents of prior posts.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Time to chat about World Prematurity Day

Friday, November 14th, 2014

globeCome one…come all tweeters for the #WorldPrematurityDay 24-hour Twitter Relay beginning on November 13 at 7 PM EDT and ending November 14 at 8 PM EDT.  Join 28 global partners and friends from around the world, including member organizations from our World Prematurity Network, to commemorate World Prematurity Day and drive awareness to the issue of preterm birth.

The March of Dimes will tweet about preterm birth @modhealthtalk by hosting an hour on November 14 at 1 PM EDT on “Parenting in the NICU.”  Please join us, retweet, offer your tweets about your activities for #WorldPrematurityDay and help us surpass this year’s goal of reaching over 30 million people on Twitter!

Diabetes and premature birth: know the facts

Monday, November 10th, 2014

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

About 9 out of 10 women in the U.S. have diabetes – a condition in which your body has too much sugar (called glucose) in the blood. You can develop diabetes at any time in your life.

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

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

How can you find out if you have diabetes?

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

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

Who is at risk for developing gestational diabetes?

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

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

What else can you do?

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

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

 

Safe sleep for babies

Friday, October 24th, 2014

cropped sleeping babySafe sleep can help protect babies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related dangers, like suffocation (not being able to breathe). Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day, so it’s important to make sure that where and how they sleep are safe.

Here are some things you can do to help keep your baby safe when she sleeps:

Where to put your baby to sleep
• Put your baby to sleep on her back on a flat, firm surface—a crib is best. Use only the mattress made for your baby’s crib. The mattress should fit snugly in the crib so there are no spaces between the mattress and the crib frame.
• Keep crib bumpers, loose bedding, toys and other soft objects out of your baby’s crib. They put babies in danger of getting trapped, strangled or suffocating. This is important even as your baby gets older. A study recently published in Pediatrics showed that “rolling to prone [stomach], with objects in the sleep area, is the predominant risk factor for older infants.”
• Share your bedroom with your baby but not your bed. Co-sleeping means that babies and parents sleep together in the same bed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that babies should not co-sleep with their parents and studies have shown that bed-sharing is the biggest risk factor for SIDS in children under four months. Instead, put your baby to bed in her own crib and keep it close to your bed during the night. This will allow you keep an eye on your baby and to breastfeed her easily.
• Don’t put your baby to sleep on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress or other soft surface. “Of nearly 8,000 infant sleeping deaths in the United States, researchers found that about 12 percent were sofa-related. And nearly three-quarters of those infants were newborns.”

How to put your baby to sleep
• Put your baby to sleep on her back every time, until she’s 1 year old. It’s not safe for babies to sleep on their side or tummy. Most babies will roll over both ways by the end of the 7th month; but start them out on their backs.
• Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. Keep the room at a temperature that’s comfortable for you. If your baby is sweating or her chest feels hot, she may be overheated.
• Give your baby a pacifier for naps and at bedtime. Pacifiers may help protect against SIDS. Don’t hang the pacifier around your baby’s neck or attach the pacifier to your baby’s clothing or a stuffed animal.
• Don’t use products, such as special mattresses or wedges, that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. There is no evidence that they do.

Mom and baby care
• Feed your baby only breast milk for at least 6 months. Continue breastfeeding your baby until at least her first birthday.
• Don’t smoke and don’t let anyone smoke in your home or around your baby.
• Take your baby to all her well baby visits and make sure she gets her vaccinations on time.
• Give your baby tummy time every day. Tummy time helps your baby develop her neck, shoulder and arm muscles.

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

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!