Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

What do you need to know about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

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

Signs and symptoms of RSV

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

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

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

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

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

Call your baby’s health care provider right away if your baby:

  • Has a cough that gets worse, or she coughs up yellow, green or gray mucus
  • Has a fever higher than 100.4 F if your baby is younger than 2 months, higher than 101F if your baby is 3 to 6 months old or higher than 103F if your baby is older than 6 months
  • Looks dehydrated. This means your baby doesn’t have enough water in his body. Your baby may be dehydrated if he has fewer tears when crying or sunken eyes or if he urinates less frequently.
  • Isn’t hungry
  • Has a thick nasal discharge
  • Has trouble breathing or her mouth and fingernails look blue

Prevent the spread of RSV

You can help protect your baby from RSV by:

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

Babies who are at high risk of severe RSV may get medicine that helps prevent RSV from becoming severe. Your baby may get this medicine called palivizumab during the fall and winter months. The medicine doesn’t cure RSV, and it’s not used to treat children who already have severe RSV or to prevent mild RSV. If your baby is at high risk for severe RSV, talk to her provider about treating your baby with palivizumab.

Treatment for RSV

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

For more information about RSV and other health conditions, visit marchofdimes.org

How to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old. Here are some things you can do to help reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS.

How can you make sure your baby’s sleeping in a safe place?

  • Put your baby to sleep on his back on a flat, firm surface, like a crib mattress covered with a tightly fitted sheet. Use a safety-approved mattress and crib.
  • Visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to learn more about product safety standards or product recalls.
  • Put your baby to bed in his own crib or bassinet. Don’t bed-share. Share a room with your baby, but not the same bed. If you have multiples (twins, triplets or more), put each baby in his own bassinet or crib.
  • Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area. This includes blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys.
  • Don’t let your baby sleep in his carrier, sling, car seat or stroller.
  • Don’t put your baby to sleep on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress or other soft surface. Portable bed rails don’t always prevent a baby from rolling out of bed. Babies can get stuck in them and choke.
  • Remove any hanging window cords or electrical wires near where your baby sleeps. Babies can get tangled in them and choke.

How do you put your baby to sleep safely?

  • Place your baby on her back at all sleep times until she’s 1 year old – this includes naps and at night.
  • Don’t let your baby get too hot while she’s sleeping. Dress her in light sleep clothes. A blanket sleeper (a kind of clothing just for sleeping) can help keep your baby warm without covering his face or head. 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. Wait until your baby is 1 month old before using the pacifier, if you’re breastfeeding.

What else can you do to help reduce the risk of SIDS?

  • Breastfeed your baby. The longer you exclusively breastfeed your baby, the lower the risk of SIDS for your baby.
  • Don’t smoke during pregnancy. Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around your baby.

Learn more about how to help your baby sleep safely at: marchofdimes.org

March of Dimes resources for NICU parents

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Being a parent in the newborn intensive care unit (also called NICU) can bring a mix of emotions, like fear, loneliness and anxiety. It can leave you with so many questions and a longing for support and understanding. March of Dimes helps moms and families throughout the NICU journey, as well as through every stage of pregnancy. It’s what we do. We invite you to use our digital resources to get information, answers to your questions and useful tools. They also can connect you with women and families who have had similar pregnancy and NICU experiences.

March of Dimes Facebook Mentorship Program for NICU Grad Moms:

If you’ve recently brought your baby home from the NICU, we’ve launched a digital platform to pair you with a fellow NICU grad mom as a mentor. Our Facebook Mentorship Program connects you with a support system to help you balance self-care with taking care of your baby, find support from moms who know what you’re going through and get advice and content from a trusted source like March of Dimes. If you’re interested in participating as a mentee, visit our Facebook Mentorship Program.

March of Dimes My NICU Baby™ App:

My NICU Baby app provides answers, tools and support to help you focus on your baby during the NICU stay. Track your baby’s feedings and learn about NICU staff, policies, equipment and terminology. Designed by experts, the app can help you advocate for the best care for your baby. Available for free on the App Store and Google Play. Visit mynicubaby.org for more information.

Share Your Story®:

Share Your Story is a warm, supportive online community filled with families who have been touched by, inspired by or personally affected by the mission of March of Dimes. These families know what it means to face uncertainty and fear at a time when most people expect excitement and joy. The community is fueled by caring, helpful individuals who “get it” because they have been where you are now. Share Your Story offers understanding, healing, friendship and support. Join Share Your Story.

Why newborn screening is important

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Newborn screening tests check for rare but serious and mostly treatable conditions. Babies with these conditions often look healthy at birth. If a health condition is found early with newborn screening, it often can be treated. This may help avoid more serious health problems for your baby. Newborn screening includes blood, hearing and heart tests.

When is newborn screening done?

All babies in the United States get newborn screening before they leave the hospital, usually when they are 1 or 2 days old. If your baby is not born in a hospital, talk to her health care provider about getting newborn screening before she is 7 days old. Some states require that babies have newborn screening again, about 2 weeks later.

How is newborn screening done?

Newborn screening has three parts:

  1. Blood test. Your baby’s heel is pricked to get a few drops of blood. The blood is collected on a special paper and sent to a lab for testing. The lab then sends the results back to your baby’s health provider.
  2. Hearing screening. The provider places a tiny, soft speaker in your baby’s ear to check how your baby responds to sound.
  3. Heart screening. This test is called pulse oximetry. It checks the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood by using a sensor attached to his finger or foot. This test is used to screen babies for a heart condition called critical congenital heart disease (also called CCHD). CCHD is the most severe heart defects. Babies with CCHD need treatment within the first few hours, days or months of life. Without treatment, CCHD can be deadly.

What happens with the tests results?

Most newborn screening results are normal. If your baby’s results are normal, you won’t hear back about them. But you always can ask your baby’s provider for the results.

In rare cases when the screening results aren’t normal, you’ll get a phone call about 2 to 3 weeks after the testing. This call can come from someone at your state’s newborn screening program or from your baby’s health care provider. If you get a call about your baby’s results, don’t panic. Most of the time your baby simply needs more testing.

Your baby’s provider then recommends another kind of test, called a diagnostic test, to see if there is a health problem. If the diagnostic test results are normal, no more testing is needed. If the diagnostic test results are not normal, your provider can guide you about next steps for your baby.

How many health conditions should your baby be screened for?

March of Dimes would like to see all babies in all states screened for at least 34 health conditions. Many of these health conditions can be treated if found early. Each state decides which tests are required. You can find out which conditions your state screens for at babyfirsttest.org.

Learn more about newborn screening at: marchofdimes.org

Getting your other children ready for a visit to the NICU

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

If your baby is in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) and you have other children, you may wonder about how to get them ready to meet their new brother or sister. The truth is that the NICU can be overwhelming and maybe even a little scary for kids, especially the first time they go. But there are things you and your partner can do to prepare your children for a NICU visit:

  • Talk to your children about rules to follow in the NICU. For example, tell them that they’ll need to wash their hands in the NICU and whether or not they can hold the baby.  
  • Keep visits short. Some children may get bored while visiting, so try to keep visits to less than 30 minutes. Having another adult there can be helpful in case you want to stay with your baby after your other children leave.
  • Describe what they may see. Tell your children what the baby looks like, including how big or small she is. Show your children pictures or videos of the baby, her bed and medical equipment.
  • Explain what the NICU equipment does. The machines in the NICU may seem less scary if children know what some of them do.

Before bringing children to the NICU, ask staff about guidelines and policies. Some NICUs may not allow young children inside to help protect the babies from getting an infection. Other NICUs may ask to test children for illnesses before they’re allowed to visit. If your children are not allowed to visit, ask them to make drawings or photo albums to help them feel like they’re helping and loving their little brother or sister.

Visit marchofdimes.org to learn about resources that can help you and your family while your baby’s in the NICU. You can also visit shareyourstory.org, the March of Dimes online community for families to share experiences with prematurity, birth defects or loss.

Vaccines and your baby

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Vaccinations can help your baby have a healthy start in life. When your baby gets on-time vaccinations, he gets protection from serious diseases. Most babies can follow the vaccination schedule from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also called CDC). Ask your baby’s provider if this schedule is right for your baby. If your baby has a health condition, travels outside the U.S. or has contact with someone who has a disease, she may need a different schedule.

Because vaccines protect against diseases that aren’t common anymore, you may wonder why you need to vaccinate your baby. These diseases aren’t common in this country, but they still exist. For example, many cases of whooping cough and measles have occurred in the United States over the past few years. You can help protect your baby from serious diseases and their complications by making sure your baby gets all the vaccinations he needs.

Follow our vaccination schedule based on the CDC recommendations.

What you need to know:

  • Vaccines help protect your baby from harmful diseases and help prevent him from spreading diseases to others.
  • In the first 2 years of life, your baby gets several vaccines to protect her from 14 diseases, including whooping cough (also called pertussis) and measles.
  • Babies 6 months and older need the flu shot every season. Your baby gets two flu shots in his first year of life. He then gets one shot each year after.
  • Vaccines help your baby develop immunity. Immunity is protection from disease.
  • Vaccines are very safe. They are carefully tested and checked by scientists and healthcare professionals before anyone can get them.
  • Getting more than one shot at a time won’t harm your baby. Even as a newborn, your baby’s immune system can handle many shots at once.
  • All babies, including babies who spend time in the newborn intensive care unit (also called NICU), need vaccinations. Most premature and low-birthweight babies follow the same CDC vaccination schedule.

For more information about your baby’s vaccinations, visit marchofdimes.org

Breastfeeding: Common discomforts and what to do about them

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

Breast milk is the best food for your baby. Breast milk gives your baby important nutrients that help him grow healthy and strong. Do not feel discouraged if you have some discomforts when you first start breastfeeding. Many new moms have difficulties. However, with the right support and information, you will be able to breastfeed your baby.

Here are some common problems moms may have and what you can do about them:

“My baby won’t latch-on.”

When your baby’s latched on, her mouth is securely attached to your nipple for breastfeeding. To help your baby latch on, first, find a comfortable place to breastfeed your baby. It could be in a chair, on the couch or on your bed. Remove your clothes from the waist up and have your baby wear only his diaper. Lay your baby between your breasts so that your tummies are touching. Skin-to-skin contact is the best way to help your baby get comfortable and ready to latch-on. Here’s how to make sure your baby gets a good latch:

  • When your baby opens his mouth, bring him to your breast. Bring him to you — don’t lean into him.
  • Hold your baby close. Both his nose and chin should touch your breast. Don’t worry — he can breathe and eat at the same time. Your baby should have a good mouthful of your areola (the area around your nipple).
  • When your baby has a good latch, you will feel his tongue pull your breast deep into his mouth. If you feel his tongue at the tip of your nipple, it’s not a good latch.

“My nipples hurt.”

Many women feel nipple pain when they first start breastfeeding. If your nipples are cracked and sore, you may need to change the position you use to breastfeed. If you have nipple pain:

  • Make sure your baby is fully latched on. If she’s not latched on, remove her from your breast and try again.
  • After feeding, put some fresh breast milk on your nipples. Just like breast milk is good for your baby, it can help you too. Creams also may help. Ask your provider which kind to use.
  • Talk to your provider or lactation consultant if the pain doesn’t go away.

“My breast is swollen and feels hard.”

Your breasts swell as they fill up with milk. They may feel tender and sore. Most of the time the discomfort goes away once you start breastfeeding regularly. Here are some ways to help feel better:

  • Try not to miss or go a long time between feedings. Don’t skip night feedings.
  • Express a small amount of milk with a breast pump or by hand before breastfeeding.
  • Take a warm shower or put warm towels on your breasts. If your breasts hurt, put cold packs on them.
  • If your breasts stay swollen, tell your provider.

With patience and practice, you and your baby can be great at breastfeeding! Give yourself time to learn this new skill and trust yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may just need a little extra support to get started. Your health care provider, a lactation consultant, a breastfeeding peer counselor or a breastfeeding support group can help you. Find out more about how to get help with breastfeeding by visiting marchofdimes.org.

Breastfeeding counseling, breast pumps, and supplies are services covered by most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, at no extra cost to you. Learn more about recommended preventive services that are covered under the Affordable Care Act at Care Women Deserve.

 

Breastfeeding is good for mom and baby

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

In the United States, most new moms (about 80 percent) breastfeed their babies. About half of these moms breastfeed for at least 6 months. You may know that breastfeeding is best for your baby, but did you know that it’s good for you, too? Here’s why breastfeeding is good for both of you:

For your baby, breast milk:

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

For you, breastfeeding:

  • Increases the amount of a hormone in your body called oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the uterus to contract. These contractions help your uterus go back to the size it was before pregnancy. They also help you stop bleeding after giving birth.
  • Helps reduce stress. The hormones your body releases can help you relax and bond with your baby.
  • May help lower your risk for diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
  • Burns extra calories (up to 500 a day). This can help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight in a gradual and healthy way.

Recently, you may have heard in the news about the U.S. delegation’s opposition to a resolution for promoting breastfeeding at the World Health Assembly. March of Dimes released the following statement from President Stacey D. Stewart:

“March of Dimes is appalled to learn of the U.S. delegation’s opposition to a resolution for promoting breastfeeding, at the World Health Assembly this spring. As a leading U.S. health organization that also maintains official relations with the World Health Organization, we can attest to the global scientific consensus that breastmilk is the healthiest option for babies and young children. It is unconscionable that any government would seek to hinder access to the most basic nutrition for children around the globe by opposing the passage of such a resolution for improving the health and survival of babies globally.”

“March of Dimes calls on the Administration to immediately abandon their opposition to this resolution and instead to champion breastfeeding and access to breast milk for all infants and young children everywhere.”

Visit marchofdimes.org for more information.

Tips for bringing baby home from the NICU

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Bringing your baby home from the hospital after birth is a very exciting time. But if you had a premature birth or other pregnancy complications and your baby had to stay in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU), you may feel stressed or worried about taking your baby home. It’s normal to have lots of questions about life after the NICU. You may have questions like:

  • How do I get ready to take my baby home from the NICU?
  • What do I need to do if my baby needs medical equipment at home?
  • Is it OK to have visitors and family over when the baby comes home?
  • Can I take my baby outside for walks or with me to run errands?

Here’s what you can do to feel ready:

Talk to your baby’s health care provider and the NICU staff before leaving the hospital with your baby. This is especially important if your baby needs medicine. Write down all the medicine instructions and ask about how to store the medicine properly. Ask about basic baby care, safe sleep and how to use a car seat safely. And ask what the temperature in your home and your baby’s room should be.

If your baby needs medical equipment, learn how to use it while your baby is still in the NICU. Make sure the electricity in your home works with your baby’s equipment. If your baby needs more than one kind of equipment or if you live in an older home, you may need to check your electric system. If you rent your home, talk with your landlord about what you need.

Having friends and family over to meet your baby is fine, but limit the number of people who visit. Even though its summer, you and your baby can get the flu and other infections anytime of the year. Family and friends who are sick, have a fever or who may have been exposed to an illness should wait to visit your baby. Any adult who will have contact with your baby should get a pertussis vaccination (shot). Pertussis is also called whooping cough.

Going outside with your baby is OK, but stay away from crowded places like grocery stores. It’s fine to take your baby for walks outside or to visit friends or family.  But don’t take your baby to places like shopping malls and grocery stores. If you’re going outside, keep your baby cool in hot weather and protect yourselves from mosquitoes. Most bug sprays and lotions are safe to use on babies 2 months and older, but products with oil of lemon eucalyptus are not safe for children under the age of 3. Always read the spray or lotion label to make sure it’s safe for your baby. Put a mosquito netting across the top of your baby’s stroller when you’re outside. Make sure it doesn’t touch your baby’s face or body.

Vaccinations help protect us against serious diseases

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

April 21-28 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), a time to highlight the benefits and importance of immunizations. Vaccines are proven to be safe and effective. When your baby gets vaccinated, he receives protection against serious diseases, and the community is also protected from the spreading of infections to others.

What you need to know:

  • Immunizations help protect your baby’s health. In the first 2 years of life, your baby gets several vaccines to protect her from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases, including whooping cough (pertussis) and measles.
  • Vaccines help build immunity. Vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to help protect against diseases.
  • Vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals.
  • Getting more than one shot at a time won’t harm your baby. Your baby, even as a newborn, is exposed to many germs in the environment, his immune system can handle many shots at once.

Because vaccines protect against diseases that are not common anymore, you may wonder why you need to vaccinate your baby. These diseases are not common, but they still exist. When your baby receives a vaccine, you are protecting him from a serious disease and its complications, but you are also preventing the spread of these diseases.

Vaccines have protected many children from serious diseases for more than 50 years! And of course you would like to do everything possible to protect your baby. This includes making sure your baby’s vaccinations are up to date. This immunization schedule from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows each vaccine your baby needs up to 6 years. Make sure your baby doesn’t miss or skip any vaccines.

If you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your health care provider about what vaccines you may need. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you get pregnant. Vaccines are needed throughout different stages in your life, especially before and during pregnancy.