Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

Respiratory Therapists help babies and families breathe easier

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

help-breathingIf your baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), it can be nerve wracking to see him hooked up to machines, especially if he is having difficulty breathing. This is when a respiratory therapist (RT) can help.

“If a baby needs respiratory support, parents should not be afraid. We give them only what they need” says Ana Anthony, a respiratory therapist at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., one of the finest children’s hospitals in the nation.  Ana notes that “Every day may be a different challenge. The babies will go through ups and downs – the body is very complex. Our goal is to have the baby breathe on his own.”

It’s Respiratory Care Week, a time to recognize the respiratory care profession and to raise awareness for improving lung health. According to the American Association for Respiratory Care, “Respiratory therapists provide the hands-on care that helps people recover from a wide range of medical conditions.”

Respiratory therapists work in a variety of settings including a hospital NICU. Babies born too early run the risk of having breathing problems because their lungs may not be fully developed. Other babies might have breathing issues because of an infection or birth defect.

Due to numerous medical breakthroughs, more and more babies who need treatment for breathing problems or disorders benefit from respiratory therapy. In fact, neonatal respiratory therapy has become its own medical sub-specialty. A neonatal-pediatric RT is trained to use complex medical equipment to care for the smallest babies with mild to severe breathing challenges. They visit their patients daily, as often as needed.

You may have been introduced to your baby’s respiratory therapist if you have a baby in the NICU. A respiratory therapist would have evaluated your baby’s breathing soon after your baby arrived. The RT looks to see if your baby is breathing too fast, if the breaths are shallow, or if your baby is struggling to breathe. Then, together with the NICU healthcare team of doctors, nurses and other specialists, the RT develops a care plan to help your baby.

Respiratory therapists are rigorously trained, first earning a college degree and then specific certifications. For example, Ana holds several credentials: a BSRC (bachelor’s degree in respiratory care), RRT-NPS, (registered respiratory therapist with a neonatal pediatrics specialty), AEC (asthma education certification) and ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation). If these titles sound impressive, it’s because they are! RTs are put through intense education and hands-on training and stay current with breakthroughs or changes in the field by obtaining different certifications.

Ana Anthony speaks for all RTs when she says “We love what we do and strive to have the best outcome possible for all our patients.”


You can learn more about respiratory issues that preemies may face, in our article. Did your baby receive care from a respiratory therapist? Tell us about your experience.

Have questions? Text or email

Note:  This post is part of the series “Delays and Disabilities: How to get help for your child.


Two vaccines that every grandparent needs

Monday, October 24th, 2016

grandma and babyInfants are at risk of serious complications from both whooping cough and the flu. Grandparents, caregivers, and anyone who is going to be in contact with your baby should be up to date on their vaccinations for these two illnesses.


With rare exception, the CDC recommends that ALL people, 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine. Flu viruses change every year, so just because you got a flu shot last year, doesn’t mean that you are protected this year. The flu shot is designed to protect against the flu viruses that are predicted to be the most common during the flu season. Also, immunity from vaccination decreases after a year. This is why everyone needs a flu vaccine every season.

It is especially important that people who will be around children younger than 6 months get the flu shot. Children under 6 months cannot get the flu vaccine and they have the highest risk for being hospitalized from flu compared to children of other ages. When your baby is 6 months old, she can get her own flu vaccine.

Whooping cough

Whooping cough (or pertussis) is a very contagious disease that can be deadly for babies. It is spread from person to person, usually by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. In most cases of whooping cough, someone in the baby’s family is the source of infection. It is possible for an adult to have whooping cough and not even know it.

Whooping cough can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening complications in babies, especially within the first 6 months of life. Many babies with whooping cough don’t cough at all. They stop breathing and turn blue. About half of babies who get whooping cough end up in the hospital.

Your baby can’t get her first whooping cough vaccine until she is 2 months old. And while most adults were vaccinated as children, or they may have even had whooping cough, protection unfortunately wears off over time. That is why it is especially important for pregnant women, dads, and ANYONE else who will be in close contact with your baby, including grandparents, to make sure that their whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine is current.

Cocooning your baby

Grandparents and other visitors to your newborn should get the Tdap and flu vaccines at least 2 weeks before meeting your baby. This strategy of surrounding babies with people who are protected against a disease, such as whooping cough or flu, is called “cocooning.” A single Tdap shot is recommended for any adult (19 or older) who plan on having contact with your baby. If they already received their Tdap vaccine as an adult, they do not need to be vaccinated again. (However, pregnant women need to be vaccinated with Tdap during each pregnancy.)  And of course, everyone older than 6 months, should get their flu shot before spending time with your baby.

REMEMBER: Making sure that the people who will be in close contact with your baby are immunized is NOT a substitute for staying up to date with the childhood vaccination schedule. But it will help to your baby somewhat protected until she is old enough to get her own vaccines.

Have questions? Text or email us at

Grieve and connect during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness dayThe loss of a baby is one of the most painful things that can happen to a family. If your baby died during pregnancy, in the first days of life, or even as a toddler, you and your family may need help to understand what happened. You may need support to find ways to deal with your grief and ease your pain.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month – a time to pause and remember all angel babies. It is also SIDS Awareness Month (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

It is important to know that parents and families are not alone in their grief. Connecting with others going through the same or a similar situation can help you process your grief. We invite all families to share and connect in our online community Share Your Story. The families in our community know what you are going through and can offer support during this devastating time and in the days ahead.

We provide resources that may help you understand what happened and how to deal with the daily pain of your loss. We encourage you to visit our website if you are looking for resources for families that have lost a baby, ways to remember your baby, or other resources.

If you would like to receive our free bereavement materials, email us at with your mailing address.

The March of Dimes is so very sorry for your loss. We are here for you.


Infant loss affects the tiniest family members

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Loss affects entire families every day, in many different ways. In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day tomorrow, here is the heartfelt story of a family who lost their precious daughter Madeline, due to complications from prematurity.

We welcome guest blogger Heather as she shares the ripple effects of losing Maddie, as seen through the eyes of one of her children.

Maddie“Mom, we were counting our family members in school today.” The Kindergarteners have been doing a lot of exercises where they “find numbers” in the world, like counting steps, trees, etc.

“That’s fun. Do any of your classmates come from big families?”

“Yep! I didn’t know exactly how many to count. There’s four of us, but five if you count Rigby (our sweet dog). Six if Maddie hadn’t died.”

– – –

In our house, we don’t make a big deal about Madeline. We talk about her when she comes up naturally, which means sometimes we discuss her multiple times a day, and sometimes we’ll go several days without mentioning her.

I, however, say her name every day, even if it’s just to myself. I wonder what she’d be like, who her friends would be, which classroom she’d be in. I think about her without even thinking about it. Missing her has become one of my body’s automatic functions, like breathing.

Protecting myself has become automatic, too. I rarely bring her up with strangers anymore. I know many loss moms never hesitate to mention all of their children when given the chance, but I don’t. Basic questions like, “Oh, do you have other kids?” don’t hurt me the way they used to. I don’t feel like I am denying her when I don’t mention her. Instead, I am saving myself the agony of having to answer additional questions, having to relive it, having to watch a person I don’t know process this complicated answer to their simple question. I know about her, the people who love us know about her, and our future friends will one day know about her, too.

Of course, the people who surround Annabel at school every day aren’t strangers, not anymore. But this is her domain, so I follow her lead. Her drawings are of the four of us and Rigby. She said that one time she mentioned she had an older sister, but her friends were confused. I explained to her why they might be confused, and I reminded her that she only has to say what she is comfortable with – it’s okay to talk about her sister, and it’s okay not to.

“I told my teacher four or five or six, and I counted everyone for her.”

“…and what did she say?”

“She said all of my answers were right!”

Maddie’s story

After 28 weeks and 6 days of an extremely rocky gestation, Madeline Alice was born on November 11, 2007. She weighed three pounds one ounce, and was 15 3/4 inches long. Because she was over 11 weeks premature, she was rushed to a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She spent 68 long days there until the wonderful January afternoon we brought her home.

Maddie’s prematurity left her lungs scarred, but her amazing happiness remained unscathed. She lit up the lives of everyone she met (and countless more she didn’t) with her bright eyes, infectious laugh, and gigantic grin.

On April 6th, Maddie came down with a severe respiratory infection. She left the world suddenly and unexpectedly April 7, 2009.

We miss her with every fiber of our being.

News Moms Need thanks Heather for giving us a glimpse into how deeply the effects of loss are felt, and how it affects every family member for a lifetime. You can read more about Heather and her family here.

New baby = new mom fatigue

Monday, October 10th, 2016

mother calming crying babyYou’ve just given birth and brought your baby home – now you can relax right? Not really.

Once you bring your new baby home, new parents (especially moms) are often overwhelmed and exhausted. Between the feedings, sleepless nights and extra responsibilities you will find you’re very tired. You may find it hard to balance the responsibilities of your new baby, your family and your home. So will you have any relaxation time? Not for a while.

Take comfort in knowing you’re not alone and your feelings are normal. Here are some tips to get through your new mom fatigue.

Get rest

Now that you know relaxation is out the door, you can still catch up on some much needed rest. Start by napping when your baby does, even if it’s a quick one. If your baby’s breathing, cooing or restlessness keep you awake, place her in her own room to sleep. Remember you and your baby are top priority and rest is important – if you need to limit your visitors and put off your household responsibilities, do it.

Eat well and keep moving

Staying active can actually help give you more energy during the day. You may already find yourself constantly going up and down your stairs while grabbing a clean diaper or washing a bottle, but if you want to start physical activity, be sure to get your provider’s OK. If the weather is nice, taking your baby for a walk is a great place to start becoming active.

Eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water will also help your energy level. And be sure to limit your intake of caffeine and sugar packed beverages.

Accept help

This is an exciting time and your friends and family can’t wait to meet your new baby. When they come to visit and offer a helping hand, accept their offer. Suggest they wash some dishes, get you a plate of food or simply hold your baby while you take a shower. Working with your partner to divvy out responsibilities or feedings can also help. If you are breastfeeding, have your partner bring the baby to you and burp her after the feeding.

Caring for a new baby is a wonderful time, but when you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted remember that the newborn days won’t last long. Accept or ask for help when you need it. Soon you’ll be able to better manage your time and your energy to enjoy your new bundle.

Do you have a newborn at home? Share your tips. Have questions? Email or text

A properly installed car seat can save your child’s life – here are tips every parent needs to know

Friday, October 7th, 2016

baby in rear facing car seatWe’d like to thank Gloria Del Castillo, child passenger safety expert at Cincinnati Children’s, for this guest post.

Did you know that an alarming three out of four car seats are not installed properly? It’s shocking, but it’s true.

For some people, car seats aren’t always the easiest things to figure out – from choosing the right one to making sure the straps are tight enough. But in some situations, a properly installed seat can mean the difference between life and death in a crash.

We must do better for our children. That’s why Buckle Up for Life, a national car seat education program, teaches parents, caregivers and children about the proper use of car seats and provides free seats to families in need who participate in the program.

Below are some simple yet critical tips from Buckle Up for Life to keep in mind when you’re getting ready to hit the road with your children.

• After you’ve buckled your child into their seat, pinch the car seat strap near their shoulders. If you can pinch a wrinkle in the fabric, tighten the strap until it is snug. You can see a video of this tip at this link. Then grab the car seat at the bottom where it is attached to the car and tug from side to side and front to back. If the seat moves more than an inch in either direction, tighten it.

• As colder weather approaches, remember to remove your children’s coats before securing them in their car seat. A coat can prevent the harness from fitting correctly. It also could compress in a crash, compromising the seat’s ability to protect your child.

• Although it might be convenient to use a hand-me-down car seat, it’s best to purchase a new seat. A seat’s ability to protect your child may be compromised if it has been through a crash. Also, plastic can degrade over time.

• Accessories that didn’t come with the car seat likely have not been crash-tested and could be dangerous in a crash. This includes mirrors and sun shades.

• According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should remain in rear-facing car seats until age two, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat.

For more resources including the car seat installation videos and where to locate car seat inspection stations or child passenger safety technicians in your community, please visit

Gloria Del Castillo is a child passenger safety expert at Cincinnati Children’s. She is a specialist of community engagement for Buckle Up for Life, the national safety initiative from Cincinnati Children’s and Toyota. Gloria is a child educator, trauma specialist, program developer, published author, Hispanic advocate and vigilant mother.

March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands or products.

Infant mortality. These two words should never go together.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

emotional couple sittingInfancy should mark the beginning of life, not the end. Even though the rates of infant deaths are at an all-time low, far too many babies still die before their first birthday. For this reason, September is Infant Mortality Awareness Month – a time for us to share the sad fact that babies still die in infancy, and to help spread the word about how to fix this problem.

In 2013, in the United States, 23,446 infants died before reaching their first birthday, which is an infant mortality rate of 6.0 per 1,000 live births. Or, put another way, on an average day in the U.S., 64 babies die before reaching their first birthday.

What causes infant death? Can it be prevented?

“Preterm birth, or being born too early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), is the biggest contributor to infant death,” according to the CDC. In 2013, about one third (36%) of infant deaths were due to preterm-related causes. Among non-Hispanic black infants, the rate of preterm-related death is three times higher than those of non-Hispanic white infants.

Other causes of infant mortality include low birth weight, birth defects, pregnancy complications for the mother, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), and unintentional injuries (accidents). Although the rate of infant deaths in the U.S. has declined by almost 12% since 2003, the death of any infant is still one too many.

Having a healthy pregnancy may increase the chance of having a healthy baby.

A woman can help reduce her risk of giving birth early by getting a preconception checkup, staying at a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol and street drugs during pregnancy. Spacing pregnancies at least 18 months apart and getting early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy are also key parts of a healthy pregnancy.

It’s part of our mission

The March of Dimes is committed to preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. It is our hope that through continued research, we will have a positive impact on the lives of all babies so that fewer families will ever know the pain of losing a child.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby, we hope that our online community, Share Your Story, will be a place of comfort and support to you. There, you will find other parents who have walked in your shoes and can relate to you in ways that other people cannot. Log on to “talk” with other parents who will understand.

Even in the year 2016, “the U.S. has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the industrialized world,” according to NICHQ, the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality.

The March of Dimes is working hard to make this fact history.

Have questions? Send them to our Health Education Specialists at


Study finds parents make medication dosing mistakes

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

medicine syringe for kidsMore than 80 percent of 2,110 parents made dosing mistakes when measuring liquid medicine, a new Pediatrics study reveals. And, the majority of those mistakes were overdoses. The study was in the form of a lab experiment (so no children were harmed). Researchers found  that 4 times more errors occurred when a dosing cup was used instead of an oral syringe.

Manufacturers of liquid medication may have different kinds of cups, droppers, spoons or syringes to use to give your child his medicine. These various kinds of measuring items can be confusing and lead to accidentally using one that wasn’t intended for a particular medication.

What should you do?

  • Always use the oral syringe or dropper that comes with the medication. Do not use a syringe or dropper from a previous medication.
  • Measure calmly, carefully, and exactly.
  • Never use kitchen teaspoons because they are not intended for medication use. Kitchen spoons vary widely and can hold vastly different amounts of liquids.
  • The researchers in this study recommend using oral syringes instead of cups, especially if small doses (eg. for babies) are needed.

There is no doubt that having a sick baby or child is very stressful. When our kids are sick, we are worried and probably sleep deprived from being up with them at night. You can reduce the odds of making a medication mistake by using only the syringe or dropper that comes with the medicine bottle, or ask your pharmacist to help you select a syringe. Be sure you understand the label and the markings on the syringe.

Other tips

  • If you are giving a non-prescription medication (such as Tylenol or any over-the-counter medicine), be sure to give the dose that is based on your child’s weight, not his age. If in doubt, ask a doctor, nurse, physician assistant, pharmacist or other healthcare provider.
  • AAP has helpful dosage charts for acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).
  • Check out the AAP’s video guide on how to measure meds and read about useful medication tips.

FDA bans antibacterial soaps and body washes

Monday, September 12th, 2016

HandwashingFrequent and thorough hand washing is still the best way to ward off germs and to prevent the spread of infections. There is no need to buy antibacterial soaps; regular bar or liquid soap will do the job just fine. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned antibacterial soap products containing certain chemicals.

What makes soap antibacterial?

Antibacterial soaps, also called antimicrobial or antiseptic soaps, contain different ingredients than plain soap. Antibacterial soaps contain one or more of 19 specific active ingredients with the most common ingredients being triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps). These products will have ‘antibacterial’ on the label.

Why the ban?

The FDA asked manufacturers to research and provide evidence that antibacterial soap ingredients, including triclosan and triclocarban, were safe for daily use over a long period of time. The manufacturers failed to prove their safety. Animal studies on triclosan show that this ingredient alters the way some hormones work in the body and raises concerns on its effect on humans. There is also concern that this ingredient contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. There is not enough research to know how triclocarban affects humans.

The FDA’s new rule applies to all consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes that are used with water. Manufacturers have one year to comply with the FDA’s new rule.

The ban does not include hand sanitizers, hand wipes or antibacterial soaps used in health care settings. The FDA says “Health care antiseptics are being evaluated separately from consumer antiseptics because they have different proposed use settings and target populations, and the risks for infection in the different settings varies.” More scientific research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of certain over the counter hand sanitizers.

What all caregivers need to know about safe sleep for babies

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Sleep is important for your baby’s health. It is also important to make sure that your baby’s sleeping environment is safe. Safe sleep can help protect your baby from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other dangers.

While you may know about how to create a safe sleep environment, other people caring for your baby may not. Grandparents, babysitters, and anyone else who may take care of your baby should be made aware of the importance of safe sleep.

Here is a short video that reviews the basics of safe sleep for caregivers, courtesy of the NIH’s Safe to Sleep® campaign:

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