Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

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.

Vaccinating on time is important for disease protection

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Special thanks to the CDC for sharing this post with us.

baby vaccinationParents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them from 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.

“The recommended immunization schedule is designed to offer protection early in life,” said Dr. Candice Robinson, a pediatrician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “when babies are vulnerable and before it’s likely they will be exposed to diseases.”

Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.

Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years of life may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended.

Dr. Robinson cautions against parents delaying vaccination. “There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.”

When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough.

In 2014, 667 people in the United States were reported as having measles; this is highest number of measles cases since the disease was eliminated from the United States in 2000. Staying on track with the immunization schedule ensures that children have the best protection against diseases like this by age 2.

Parents who are concerned about the number of shots given at one time can reduce the number given at a visit by using the flexibility built into the recommended immunization schedule. For example, the third dose of hepatitis B vaccine can be given at 6 through 18 months of age. Parents can work with their child’s healthcare professional to have their child get this dose at any time during that age range.

“I make sure my kids are vaccinated on time,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician at CDC. “Getting children all the vaccines they need by age 2 is one of the best things parents can do to help keep their children safe and healthy.”

If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, talk with your child’s health care provider.

You can also visit our website for more information.

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

 

How to establish your milk supply while your preemie is in the NICU

Monday, August 8th, 2016

kangaroo-care-23If your baby is in the NICU, you may not be able to breastfeed the way you imagined. But providing your preemie with your breast milk will give her the best start in life.

Here are some tips to help establish your milk supply:

Ask for support

Seek out the help of a Lactation Consultant. She is a person with special training to help women breastfeed. A Lactation Consultant will be the best person to assist you with your breastfeeding goals. Your partner, friends and family are also there to support you during this important time.

Pump or express your milk early

Your milk is designed to meet your baby’s needs, so even though your baby was born early, the milk you make in the early days has a higher amount of antibodies to help her fight off infection. If your preemie is too small, sick or has birth defects that prevent her from breastfeeding, pump or hand express your milk as soon as possible. Your Lactation Consultant will be able to help you find the pump that works best for you. Ask your consultant if the milk you pump can be given to your baby in the NICU.

Spend time with your baby

If your baby’s nurse says it is OK, practice skin-to-skin or kangaroo care with your preemie. Not only is this beneficial for your baby, but having her so close will help you make more breast milk. Pumping or expressing your milk right after holding your baby skin-to-skin, or just smelling your baby’s scent, is an effective way to increase your supply as well.

Keep track & increase supply

Massage your breasts before and during your pumping session to maximize your output and improve the flow of your milk. Keep track of your pumping sessions with a log or notebook. This will help you remember how often you pump and how much milk you express. New moms get very tired – a log will help you remember when you last pumped. If you have questions or concerns, speak with your consultant and discuss your pumping log.

Where’s my milk?

After you give birth, you will start to see drops of colostrum, which is incredibly beneficial for your baby. In the beginning you may find it is easier to express your colostrum by hand into a spoon to feed directly to your baby. If you pump, these drops may get stuck in your breast pump parts. Have your consultant show you the best technique. Keep in mind, if you pump, you may not see any milk during your first few pumping sessions – do not be discouraged. Keep at it and ask your consultant for help and support.

Remember to avoid smoking, caffeine and alcohol. Speak with your health care provider about any medications you may be taking to be sure they are safe to take while breastfeeding.

Bottom line:

Stay positive. A pump can’t replace a warm baby at your breast, but any breast milk you supply your baby will help him get stronger and healthier each day. And soon he will be out of the NICU and in your arms!

Infant rice cereal and arsenic

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Feeding baby homemade foodRice cereal is often a staple of an infant’s diet. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that relative to their weight, people consume the most rice at 8 months of age. The FDA recently proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion for the amount of arsenic that can be present in infant rice cereal.

How does arsenic get into rice?

Arsenic is a metal. Small amounts of arsenic are normally found in water, soil, and air. Arsenic gets into rice because as the rice grows, it absorbs the arsenic from the environment. While arsenic is found in other crops, rice tends to absorb arsenic more easily because of how it is grown.

What problems can exposure to arsenic cause?

According to the FDA, exposure to arsenic “may result in a child’s decreased performance on certain developmental tests that measure learning.” If a pregnant woman is exposed to high levels of arsenic, it can cause problems like miscarriage and birth defects.

How can you limit your baby’s exposure to arsenic?

The FDA tested 76 samples of infant rice cereals on the market and found that nearly half of them — 47 percent — already meet the proposed limit. Moreover, most of the samples tested — 78 percent — were either at or below 110 parts per billion.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), here are some ways that you can reduce your baby’s exposure to arsenic:

  • Breastfeed. It’s best to feed your baby only breast milk for at least 6 months. Once you start to offer solid foods, breast milk is still the best food for your baby during the first year of life.
  • Feed your baby different types of iron-fortified cereals. While some rice cereal is OK, you can offer other options as well, including oat, barely, and multigrain. Rice cereal does not need to be the first cereal you offer your baby. Just make sure to watch for allergic reactions whenever you introduce a new food.
  • Limit fruit juices. The AAP has recommended limiting intake of all sweet drinks, including juice.
  • Avoid brown rice syrup. Brown rice syrup is often used as a sweetener in processed foods.
  • Drink cow’s milk and do not substitute with rice milk. Dairy-sensitive children can be given other sources of calcium. Talk to your baby’s provider about the best choice.

What if I’m pregnant?

Pregnant woman should eat a varied diet with an assortment of grains, such as wheat, oats, and barely, as well.  Some studies also suggest that cooking rice in excess water (from six to 10 parts water to one part rice), and draining the excess water, can reduce from 40 to 60 percent of the inorganic arsenic content, depending on the type of rice — although this method may also remove some key nutrients.

Both the AAP and FDA encourage people of all ages to eat a varied and well-balanced diet. Rice and infant rice cereal can be a part of that diet, but they should not be the main source of nutrients.

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

Colostrum: why every drop counts

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

mom breastfeeding newbornI’ve heard many new moms say they “have no milk” after giving birth and are worried their baby won’t be able to feed. The good news is women have drops of colostrum after they give birth for several days until they start to see their milk come in. You may even see these drops during pregnancy; this is normal.

What is colostrum?

In the first few days after giving birth, your breasts will make a thick, yellowish form of breast milk. This liquid has nutrients and antibodies that your baby needs in the first few days of life before your breasts start to make milk.

Why is it yellow?

This is because colostrum has a higher concentration of protein and antibodies to help protect your baby in her new environment. Think of colostrum as your baby’s first vaccine.

Is it enough?

For healthy, full-term babies, your colostrum is the right amount of food in the early days. At one day old, your baby’s stomach is the size of a marble (5-7 ml), so she is not able to handle a larger amount of milk. Colostrum is easily digested and will help her pass meconium (early stools) which aids in getting rid of excess bilirubin to help prevent jaundice.

The small drops of colostrum you see in the days after birth are important for your baby, especially if she was born prematurely. So as you are bonding with your new arrival and getting acquainted with each other, know your colostrum is providing her with the best start.

Avoid mercury in skin care products

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

rubbing-nosesMost pregnant women know to avoid mercury from certain fish as it could harm a developing baby. But did you know that some skin care products contain mercury? Mercury may be found in skin creams, lotions and certain soaps. It is also found in some skin-lightening creams made outside of the U.S.

According to the FDA, “Some people – including pregnant women, nursing babies and young children – are especially vulnerable to mercury toxicity…Babies may be particularly sensitive to the harm mercury can cause to their developing brains and nervous systems. Newborns who nurse are vulnerable because mercury is passed into breast milk.”

FDA senior medical advisor Arthur Simone, M.D. says “Your family might breathe mercury vapors released from these products. Your children might touch washcloths or towels that are contaminated with mercury. It could be as simple as touching someone’s cheek or face.”

How do you know if your product contains mercury?

Check the list of ingredients, and do not use the product if any of these words are listed: “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury.”

The FDA further warns that if there is no product label or list of ingredients, do not use it. They say “Federal law requires that ingredients be listed on the label of any cosmetic or nonprescription drug, so do not use a product that doesn’t have a label.”

Why is mercury dangerous?

Mercury is a metal which can damage many parts of your body, including your lungs, kidneys and nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves). It also can cause hearing and vision problems. How serious the damage is depends on how much mercury you’re exposed to. Babies exposed to mercury in the womb can have brain damage and hearing and vision problems.

Where else is mercury found?

You can be exposed to mercury through your skin (lotions or creams), the air (by breathing it) and eating or drinking food or water that contains mercury. See our article for more details about where mercury may be found and ways to stay safe.

Have questions? Text or email our health education specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Here’s a tool to monitor your child’s physical development

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Baby with rubber duckyFrom sitting to crawling to standing, there is a wide range that is considered typical development for children at a given age. Parents often see other babies or children engaging in activities that seem advanced for their child of the same age, especially if their baby was born prematurely. Time to worry?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has an easy tool to help parents know what to do if they are wondering about their child’s physical development. This interactive tool will help you see if you should be concerned at any point, and if so, what to do about it.

Simply choose the activity you are worried about (holding his head up, rolling over, bringing things to his mouth, grabbing or holding toys, sitting up, standing up, walking, going up or down stairs, running) and it will take you to a page where you can see your child’s age and learn what is typical. It also tells you what to can do at that point.  For example, if you are concerned that your two month old can’t hold his head up, it advises “Before your next visit (with your provider), make sure your child is getting “tummy time” a few times a day when she’s awake and playful.”  It will also tell you when you should make an appointment with your child’s provider. Check it out!

Of course, a chat with your child’s health care provider is always suggested and could relieve you of lots of undue worry. But this tool is a real help when you are concerned and want a quick answer, even before you can make the appointment.

Parents, you know your child best. Here are a few tips on how to start the conversation with your child’s healthcare provider as well info on developmental milestones.

Have questions? Our health education specialists are here to answer them. Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

CDC says: First female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus infection reported in NYC

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Important news from the CDC today:  “The New York City report of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus infection is the first documented case of sexual transmission of Zika from a woman to her sex partner and adds to the growing body of knowledge about the sexual transmission of Zika. All previously reported cases of sexually transmitted Zika virus infection have been spread from men to their sex partners.

CDC recommends that all pregnant women who have a sex partner who has traveled to or resides in an area with Zika use barrier methods every time they have sex or they should not have sex during the pregnancy. Although no cases of woman-to-woman Zika transmission have been reported, these recommendations now also apply to female sex partners of pregnant women.

CDC is currently updating recommendations for sexually active people in which the couple is not pregnant or concerned about pregnancy and for people who want to reduce personal risk of Zika infection through sex.”

You can see the CDC’s announcement here.

In our article, you can learn how to protect yourself from the Zika virus.

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

 

This year, get your child a flu shot, not the nasal mist

Friday, July 8th, 2016

pediatrician and babyWhile many parents (and kids) prefer the nasal mist flu vaccine, evidence shows that the flu shot is the best way to protect your child from the flu this year.

Why should my child get the flu shot instead of the nasal mist?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is a panel of experts that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They looked at data from 2013 through 2016 and found that the nasal spray was less effective than the flu shot.

The flu nasal spray contains a live but weakened version of the flu virus. Typically, vaccines containing weakened viruses are more effective and cause a stronger immune response than vaccines with dead viruses (such as the flu shot). Initial data suggested that this was the case with the nasal spray. In 2014, the ACIP actually recommended the nasal spray over the flu shot for children.

However, during the 2015-2016 flu season, the nasal flu vaccine’s protection rate was only 3 percent. This means that no protective benefit could be measured. Its effectiveness in the previous two flu seasons was also low. In contrast, the flu shot was 63 percent effective among children aged 2 to 17 during the 2015-2016 flu season.

Get vaccinated against the flu every year

There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses expected to make people sick during the upcoming flu season. Protection from the vaccine only lasts about a year, so it’s important to get vaccinated every year.

While many parents (and kids) prefer the nasal mist, evidence shows that the flu shot is the best way to protect your child from the flu this year. The traditional flu shot is effective. Both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that everyone older than 6 months get the flu vaccine each year. It’s especially important for children younger than 5 to get the vaccine because they’re more likely to have serious health problems caused by the flu.

The flu shot is important for pregnant women too

Pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant also need their flu shot every year (the flu nasal spray was never recommended for use during pregnancy). If you get sick with the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications. The best way to protect yourself is to get the flu shot each year before flu season, which runs from about October through May. Even though you’re more likely to get the flu during flu season, you can get it any time of year.

The ACIP recommendation must be reviewed and approved by the CDC director before it becomes policy.

Questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.