Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

Vaccine during pregnancy protects your baby after birth

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Mom kissing her babyToday we welcome guest blogger Melissa Gambatese, MPH, Research Analyst in the Perinatal Data Center here at the March of Dimes. She offers an update on how a vaccine during pregnancy can keep your baby healthy when she is born.

 

When a new baby is born, we are so careful to protect her in every way. We wash our hands before holding her, tip toe past her room so as not to wake her, and swaddle her to keep her warm from the cold. However, one protection we may not think of is as simple and quick as a vaccination before she is even born.

Vaccines help protect us from diseases throughout life, from infancy to adulthood. But did you know that mothers can pass on the protection from some vaccines to their new baby before birth? The Tdap vaccine is one of them.

What is the Tdap vaccine?

The Tdap vaccine protects you from three diseases called tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Tetanus is caused by bacteria that attacks the nervous system. You can get tetanus through a break in your skin, like a cut or a splinter, but not from another person. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and diphtheria are highly contagious diseases caused by bacteria that are spread through coughing and sneezing.

Babies who get whooping cough can become very sick, and in rare cases, may die. The number of cases of whooping cough has been increasing since the 1980s. In 2012, more than 48,000 cases were reported. There is currently an outbreak in Washington state. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your new baby from getting the disease.

Who should get the Tdap vaccine?

Pregnant women

If you’re pregnant, you should get vaccinated during the 3rd trimester of your pregnancy. Get the vaccine every time you are pregnant, even if you’ve been vaccinated before. The protection from a previous vaccine can wear off over time, and a blood test cannot determine if you are still protected from a vaccine received earlier in your life.

Recently, the CDC published that, in 2011, only 55.7% of women in 16 states reported they received the Tdap vaccine before, during, or after their most recent pregnancy. Women who started prenatal care earlier were more likely to report they received the vaccine.

The Tdap vaccine is safe to receive during pregnancy; a recent study found that women who received the vaccine during pregnancy did not experience any increase in poor pregnancy outcomes than unvaccinated women. Talk to your health care provider-the best time to get the vaccine is during the 27th through 36th week of pregnancy. This ensures that you pass your protection on to your baby, which will help keep her safe until she is able to get her own pertussis vaccination at 2 months of age.

Brand new moms

If you did not get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, you should get the vaccine immediately after you give birth, before you leave the hospital or birthing center. It will take your body two weeks after receiving the vaccine to build up protection. You will then be less likely to pass whooping cough to your baby. New moms should get vaccinated even if you’ve been vaccinated before, because the protection from a previous vaccine wears off over time.

Relatives, close friends, and caregivers

Anyone who is around babies should get the Tdap vaccine, especially adults living in the same household as your baby. This includes grandparents, siblings, and other caregivers.

Whether you’re pregnant, a new mom, relative, close friend, or caregiver to a baby, talk to your health care provider about the Tdap vaccine. It’s just one more way we can protect our babies.

 

Summer safety

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

keeping-your-baby-safe-in-the-sun_rdax_50Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. If you are pregnant or have little ones at home, there are a lot of safety concerns to think about as the warmer weather approaches.

Food:

Keep these safety tips in mind when preparing foods that are frequently associated with food-borne illness:
• CLEAN: Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often. And wash fresh fruits and vegetables carefully.
• SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate!  When handling raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
• COOK: Cook to proper temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for details on cooking meats, poultry, eggs, leftovers, and casseroles. After you remove meat from a grill, oven, or other heat source, allow it to rest for the specified amount of time. During the rest time, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys harmful germs.
• CHILL: At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become sick. Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying

Sun:

Sunscreen is important for everyone! During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

And a baby’s skin is thin and burns much more easily than an older child’s skin. This is especially true for babies younger than 6 months.

Here’s how you can stay safe in the sun:
• Do your best to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If your baby is younger than 6 months, it is best to keep her in the shade and out of direct sunlight.
• Make sure that both of you wear a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that have 99 percent UV protection.
• Dress everyone in lightweight clothes that cover arms and legs.
• Wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. And reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours. If you are at the beach or the pool, reapply more frequently. Water and sand increase sun exposure due to the reflection of the sun off these surfaces.

Water:

Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old? And it’s the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under. Here are some tips for keeping your baby safe around the water:
• Never leave your child unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
• Avoid all distractions—including your cell phone! Young children need all of your attention when they are near or around water.
• Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices (life vests). For kids younger than 5 years old, choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support.
• Learn CPR. It is a great skill to know. You can usually find programs in your community.

Remember these summer safety tips and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Preparing homemade baby food safely

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Feeding baby homemade foodI was visiting my friend this past weekend while she was making her baby’s food for the week. Sweet potatoes and avocados were her son’s favorite. She’s a busy working mom and tries to make the food in bulk on the weekends to put in the freezer until she needs it. It seemed like she had her baby food making process perfected. Some parents buy baby food, others feed their babies homemade baby food. Some parents switch back and forth between the two. Whatever you decide, choose healthy foods and if you make your own baby food, learn how to safely prepare it.

Where to start

• The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfed babies get only breast milk for the first 6 months of life, but some babies may be ready for solid foods between 4 to 6 months. Look for cues to know when your baby is ready for solid foods.
• Give your baby one new food at a time and wait 2-3 days before starting another. Watch for allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash or vomiting.
• At each meal, your baby should be eating 4 ounces, or the amount of one small jar of baby food.
• Your baby’s diet can include: Breastmilk and/or formula, meats, cereal, veggies, fruits, eggs and fish.

Keep foods safe

• Make foods soft and easy to swallow; do not serve any food that requires chewing.
• Avoid added salt, sugar, fat, seasonings or preservatives.
• Read our blog post on feeding your baby organic vs. non-organic foods.
• Wash all fruits and veggies with water before you cook them – even those with a peel.
• Remove all pits, seeds and skin before use, as these may cause your baby to choke.
• Make sure all of your kitchen counters and food utensils are clean. Always wash your hands before handling foods and feeding your baby.

Do not feed your baby these foods

• Beets, turnips, green beans, squash, carrots and spinach. These foods may contain a high amount of nitrates, which are chemicals that can cause methemoglobinemia, a type of anemia in young babies.
• Honey, which may contain Clostridium botulinum spores, is not recommended for children under 1 year of age.
• Raw or partially cooked eggs, due to the risk of Salmonella.

Food preparation

• Cook all veggies and fruits thoroughly so your baby can digest them better. Some foods such as avocados, bananas, plums, ripe papaya, peaches and apricots don’t need to be cooked.
• Use fresh produce within a day or two of buying them to maintain vitamins and minerals. Or try frozen or canned vegetables and fruits. Make sure to read the label to avoid added sugar and salt.
• Use a blender or food processor or mash soft foods with a fork before serving.
• Reheat foods to body temperature. The AAP recommends that if microwaving is used, to stir the foods thoroughly to even out the temperature and taste test before serving to your child.

Do’s and don’ts

• Do steam, microwave, bake or broil as cooking methods for your baby’s food, but don’t boil or fry.
• Do save time by making more than just one meal.  Don’t use leftover food to make homemade baby food. For information on putting leftovers in the fridge and freezer, read our web article.
• Do give your baby single ingredient meals, whether home-made or store bought.
• Do throw out any leftovers from your baby’s dish. Saliva from your baby’s feeding spoon can spoil the food left on the dish or in the jar.
• If you have concerns about the foods your child is eating or you are wondering if he is gaining enough weight, DO contact your baby’s health care provider.

Have questions about preparing food for your baby? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Can your meds cause drug withdrawal in your baby?

Friday, May 15th, 2015

pillsNeonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a group of conditions a newborn can have if he’s exposed to addictive street or prescription drugs before birth. If you take drugs during pregnancy, they can pass through the placenta to your baby. After birth, the baby is still dependent on the drug, however, now that the drug is no longer available, the baby experiences drug withdrawal. Today, one of the most common causes of NAS is maternal use or abuse of opioids during pregnancy.

Using these drugs during pregnancy can cause NAS:

• Opioids, including the prescription medicines codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin®), morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®) and oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®). The street drug heroin also is an opioid.
• Barbiturates, like phennies, yellow jackets and Amytal®
• Benzodiazepines, like sleeping pills, Valium® and Xanax®

Signs and symptoms of NAS:

• Body shakes (tremors), seizures (convulsions), overactive reflexes (twitching) and tight muscle tone
• Fussiness, excessive crying or having a high-pitched cry
• Poor feeding, poor sucking or slow weight gain
• Breathing fast
• Fever, sweating or blotchy skin
• Trouble sleeping and yawning frequently
• Diarrhea or vomiting  (throwing up)
• Stuffy nose or sneezing

Signs and symptoms of NAS can be different for every baby. Symptoms may appear within a few minutes after birth or as much as two weeks later. NAS can last from 1 week to 6 months after birth.

Testing and treatment:

Your provider can see if your baby has NAS by testing his first bowel movement or urine. Your provider can also use what is called a neonatal abstinence scoring system which gives points for each NAS symptom depending on how severe it is. Treatment can include medicines to manage severe withdrawal symptoms, getting fluids through a needle into the vein, or giving higher-calorie baby formula to newborns that have trouble feeding or slow growth.

How can I prevent NAS?

If you’re pregnant and you use any of the drugs that can cause NAS, tell your health care provider right away. But don’t stop taking the drug without getting treatment from your provider first. Quitting suddenly (sometimes called cold turkey) can cause severe problems for your baby, including death.

If you’re addicted to opioids, medication-assisted treatment (also called MAT) during pregnancy can help your baby. NAS in babies may be easier to treat for babies whose moms get MAT during pregnancy. Medicines used in MAT include methadone and buprenorphine.

Even if you use a prescription drug exactly as your provider tells you to, it may cause NAS in your baby. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, talk to your provider about any drug or medicine you are taking.

Our website has more information on where you can find help.

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

Nurses are central to the March of Dimes mission

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

midwifeThere is no doubt about it – nurses are critical in the care of infants in the hospital. Premature babies are cared for in the NICU by nurses with advanced education. They care for babies with serious, often life threatening medical conditions. Many families have told us how impressed they have been by the expertise, compassion and professionalism of the NICU nursing staff who cared for their baby.

In addition to being the lifeline to parents who have very sick or premature babies, nurses also work hard to help women learn how to have a healthy pregnancy. They assist women as they labor and deliver and teach a new mom how to breastfeed.

The March of Dimes is grateful to our nurses as they are health care providers, educators, researchers, fundraisers, chapter volunteers and advisors. To support them in their work, we offer continuing education modules and nursing scholarships.

As this is National Nurses Week, it is a good time to pause and think about the work that nurses do every day. Even better, it is a great time to thank them.

The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. We recognize that our nurses are a big part of helping us achieve our goals. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Ice cream and listeria

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream® is recalling all of its ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches because the products may have listeria. Listeria is a kind of bacteria that can cause the food poisoning, listeriosis. This recall follows the Blue Bell ice cream recall from a couple weeks ago, also due to listeria.

You can get listeriosis and other kinds of food poisoning from harmful germs in something you eat or drink. Listeriosis can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache. Most healthy people don’t get sick from listeriosis. It mostly affects people with a weak immune system, including pregnant women, newborns, elderly people and people with health conditions, like diabetes or HIV. If you get listeriosis during pregnancy, it can cause serious and even life-threatening health problems for your growing baby.

If you have the recalled ice cream, throw it out. You also can return or exchange the recalled ice cream at the same store where you bought it. Contact Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at (614) 360-3905 or at jenis.com/recall if you have any questions.

For more information about this ice cream recall, visit the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website. Learn more about listeriosis and pregnancy.

When can your baby go home from the hospital?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

giving birthIf you just gave birth and are wondering when your baby will be discharged from the hospital, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just released guidelines for health care providers to use to decide when your baby can go home.

Careful consideration is given to the following factors:

  • The mother’s health and readiness to care for her child – Is she healthy? Does she have support at home?
  • The baby’s health – Has the baby successfully had at least two feedings in the hospital (either by breast or bottle)? Is the baby healthy?
  • The car seat – Do the parents have an appropriate one and do they know how to use it properly?
  • Life at home – Is the home safe for a baby? Are there illicit drugs, alcohol, a history of abuse, neglect or domestic violence in the home? Is there a history of mental illness in a parent?
  • Access to care – Does the mother have access to follow-up care for herself and her baby? Does she have transportation? Does she currently use or know of a clinic or doctor’s office where she and her baby can go for care?

The answers to these questions will help providers determine when a baby can be discharged from the hospital. The goal is to ensure that both mother and baby are cared for appropriately so that neither one will have issues that require going back into the hospital. By double checking on mom, baby, and home life ahead of time, the transition to home will be as safe and smooth as possible.

Preemies? Health problems?

Keep in mind that if your baby was born prematurely or with a medical condition, there will be additional considerations to review before your baby will be ready for discharge. Read our article on Leaving the NICU to learn more.

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

For posts on how to help your child with a delay or disability, view our Table of Contents.

 

 

How vaccines help

Friday, April 24th, 2015

get vaccinatedAmong children born between 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes. Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

April 18-25 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW). This is an annual observance to promote the benefits of immunizations and to improve the health of children two years old or younger. Since 1994, local and state health departments, national immunization partners, healthcare professionals, community leaders from across the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have worked together through NIIW to highlight the positive impact of vaccination on the lives of infants and children, and to call attention to immunization achievements.

What you need to know:

• Immunizations save lives. Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two, including whooping cough (pertussis) and measles.

• Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. And another study has just recently reaffirmed that there is no harmful association between children receiving the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) even among children already at higher risk for ASD.

• Babies and children in the U.S. still get vaccine preventable diseases. Why? Newborns are too young to receive vaccines and other people may not be able to get certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. Vaccination helps keep everyone safe by reducing the spread of disease.

Vaccines are usually covered by insurance. But if you or someone you know is unable to afford vaccines for their child, the Vaccines for Children program is available. This is a federally funded program that provides vaccines for children whose parents may not be able to afford them. You can learn more about the VFC program here, or ask your child’s health care provider.

In the first 2 years of life, your baby gets several vaccines to protect her. This schedule shows each vaccine your baby gets up to 6 years.

And if you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, you can learn more about vaccines and pregnancy here.

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

Drive safely, without distractions

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Safe drivingMost parents have mastered the ability to multitask. But, an estimated 1 in 4 car crashes involve a cell phone distraction on a handheld cell phone or hands-free device. You may be convinced it is easy to do two or three things while driving, but even when you think you are practicing safety precautions, such as using a hands-free device to talk on the phone, your safety is still at risk.

About 80% of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone, but this is not true, according to The National Safety Council. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are not safer because the brain is still distracted by the phone conversation. Drivers can miss seeing up to half of what’s going on around them, such as traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians. Even hands-free features on your dashboard can still distract you from the road.

Tips to stay safe

• Let it wait. Put your phone on silent and away in your purse, trunk or glove compartment before you start driving.
• If you need to make a phone call, text or read an email on your phone, pull over.
• Set a special ring tone for important incoming calls.
• Preset your navigation system or music playlists before driving.
• Make sure your little one is strapped into his car seat correctly and has what he needs before you settle into the driver’s seat.

Parents have a lot on their minds. By changing a few habits, you can avoid getting distracted while driving and even after you have stopped driving.

To avoid a tragedy of accidentally leaving your child in his car seat when you get out of the car, put your purse or work bag in the back seat next to your child’s car seat or under his feet. Having to go into the back seat will ensure that you see your sleeping baby before you leave your car. It could save your child’s life.

Beech-nut baby food recall

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015
Image Credit: Beech-Nut Nutrition®

–Photo credit: Beech-Nut®–

Beech-Nut Nutrition® is recalling some of its baby food products because they may have small pieces of glass in them.

The recall is for 4 oz. glass jars of Stage 2 Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Potato and Chicken. The recalled products have an expiration date of December 2016 and include product numbers 12395750815 through 12395750821. The recalled baby food was sold in stores nationwide.

If you have Beech-Nut baby food, check the jar and label to see if you have the recalled product. You can return or exchange the recalled baby food at the same store where you bought it. You also can call the Beech-Nut Consumer Hotline at (866) 674-4446.

Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture website or Beech-Nut website to learn more about the Beech-Nut baby food recall. Learn more about solid foods for your baby.