Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

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.

Do you know your baby’s different cries?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

infant cryingYes…babies cry a lot; but, they cry for a reason. Your baby may be hungry, have a dirty diaper or he may not feel well. He may need to burp, have gas in his tummy, or simply need to be cuddled (which is a really good reason to cry). Crying is the only way your baby can tell you that he needs something. It is his language before he can speak.

Soon you will learn to recognize the differences in your baby’s cries. His cries will not all sound the same. The “I’m tired and need to go to sleep” cry will sound different from the “Ouch – my diaper rash hurts” cry. Likewise, the cries due to hunger will sound somewhat different from the cry when a stranger holds your baby. The more you pay attention to the slight variations in cries, the more you will learn to anticipate and react to your baby’s needs.

Do preemies cry more often than full term babies?

Some studies show that premature babies are more likely to be fussy than babies who are born full term. They may be harder to soothe, cry often, and have trouble eating and sleeping. If your baby is fussy, it may be comforting to know that you are not alone. Some babies who have been in the NICU have trouble getting used to the quiet of home. Your baby may sleep better with some background music or a low level of noise in your home.

Remember to never shake your baby when he cries—this can seriously hurt him. If you can’t soothe your baby or you think he cries way too much, talk to his health care provider. Babies can get sick very quickly and the sooner you seek medical attention, the quicker your baby will get better.

What if your baby cries constantly?

Your baby’s doctor can also tell you if he thinks your baby may have colic, which is intense crying lasting more than 3 hours a day. About 1 in 5 babies develop colic – usually between 1 and 4 months of age. They cry constantly, often extending or pulling up their legs or passing gas. Sometimes their tummies are enlarged with air and gas.

There’s no one cause of colic, but there are many different ways to ease your baby’s discomfort. One way is to walk him in a soft-sided baby carrier that you strap to the front of your body. You can also try laying him tummy-down across your knees and gently rubbing his back. The pressure against his tummy may relieve his discomfort.

Breastfeeding moms can ask their baby’s health care providers about a change in food choices or eliminating specific foods that may cause your baby discomfort. Keep in mind that colic usually disappears by 4 months of age, no matter what treatments you try.

Remember Mom

As important as it is to care for your baby, it is also important to care for yourself. Moms of babies who have colic or are very fussy are often sleep deprived. Enlist the help of your partner, relatives and friends, so that you can take time out to sleep, eat well and even go for a stress busting walk. The time you spend nourishing your body and mind will help give you the patience to deal with your crying baby.

For tips on how to soothe your crying baby, visit us.

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

 

Alcohol and breastfeeding

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Alcohol and BreastfeedingYou have waited many months and finally you have given birth to your beautiful baby! Now you want to celebrate with a glass of champagne, right? Don’t fill up your glass just yet. When you drink alcohol and then breastfeed your baby, she is exposed to a small amount of the alcohol you drink. Your baby eliminates the alcohol from her body at only half the rate you do. Therefore, it stays in your baby’s system, which is not good for her.

Don’t believe the myths

• It was once believed that drinking beer was a way to increase a mother’s milk supply, but that is not true. Research has shown that drinking beer does not increase your milk supply. In fact, drinking alcohol of any kind may decrease the amount of breastmilk your baby drinks. Alcohol can change the taste of your milk, which your baby may not like, and can result in your baby taking in less breastmilk.  Chronic drinking of alcohol may also reduce your milk production.

• Some people believe “pumping and dumping” (expressing breastmilk and then throwing it away instead of giving it to your baby) will get rid of the alcohol from your body quicker, but this is not true either. Pumping and dumping does not have any effect on how quickly alcohol leaves your body. However, if you miss a feeding session due to having had an alcoholic drink, then pumping and dumping will help you maintain your milk supply and avoid engorgement (when your breasts are swollen with milk to the point of hurting).

Bottom line

Avoid alcohol when you’re breastfeeding. However, if you have a drink, allow at least 2 hours per drink before your next breastfeeding or pumping session. This allows your body to have as much time as possible to process the alcohol out of your system before your baby’s next feeding. If you do drink alcohol, don’t have more than two drinks a week (one alcoholic drink is equal to a 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine or 1 ounce of hard liquor.)

You may also want to pump after your feedings when you have not had a drink. This way, you will have extra milk stored to feed your baby if you have been drinking when you need to breastfeed.

You also can pass street drugs, like heroin and cocaine, to your baby through breast milk. Tell your health care provider if you need help to quit using street drugs or drinking alcohol.

Formula switching- what you need to know

Friday, March 27th, 2015

bottle-feedingMoms may decide to change formula brands for a variety of different reasons. My friend recently told me she bought a new formula for her baby because she had a coupon for a different brand. Her baby was not able to digest the new formula as well as the old brand; she did not anticipate that changing formula brands would be a problem for her baby.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are thinking of switching formula brands.

First of all, there are several basic types of formula in your local grocery store:

• Cow’s milk-based formulas: Made of treated cow’s milk that has been changed to make it safe for infants.
• Hydrolyzed formulas: often called “predigested” meaning the protein content has already been broken down for easier digestion.
• Soy formulas: contain a protein (soy) and carbohydrate (either glucose or sucrose), which is different from milk-based formulas. Soy formulas do not contain cow’s milk.
• Specialized formulas – for infants with specific disorders or diseases. There are also formulas made specifically for premature babies. Often babies who are allergic to lactose (found in cow’s milk) or soy protein may need a specialized formula.

Formula can also be found in three different forms: Ready-to-feed liquid (which can be fed to your baby immediately), concentrated liquid or powder (which needs to be mixed with water before feeding). Be sure to learn the do’s and don’ts of bottle preparation and feeding.

Reasons to change formula

Some reasons to switch formulas are if your baby has a food allergy or needs more iron in her diet. Switching may also help your baby if she has diarrhea, is fussy or hard to soothe. Your baby’s doctor can determine if switching the formula may help, or if there is some other medical condition going on that is causing your baby’s distress. But, before switching your baby’s formula, speak with her pediatrician.

It is possible for a baby to have an allergic reaction to a formula. Reactions include:

• vomiting
• diarrhea
• abdominal pain
• rash
• hives (itchy, red bumps on the skin)

These, and other symptoms may be a sign to change formulas, or they may also be a sign of something unrelated to your baby’s formula. If the reaction is unrelated to the formula, changing formulas could make your baby’s symptoms worse. This is why it’s important to always talk to your baby’s health care provider before making any changes.

If your doctor gives you the OK to switch formulas, he will recommend a plan of action on how to introduce the new formula so that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Keep in mind

All formulas made in the U.S. are regulated by the Food and Drug administration and meet strict guidelines, but always check the expiration date on the formula packaging and don’t use damaged cans or bottles.

For more information see this blog post.

Avoid a tragedy – learn safe sleep strategies

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

cropped sleeping babyEvery so often, we hear a tragic story from a new parent. Last week, a three week old baby died of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). This post is in memory of that baby, and our hearts go out to the family.

It is important for parents and caregivers to know safe sleep strategies. Please help us get the word out: ALWAYS, put your baby to sleep on her back, in a crib without bumpers, blankets, stuffed toys or loose bedding.

Back to Sleep and Tummy to Play is an easy way to remember that all healthy babies should be put to sleep on their backs every time until their first birthday. Do not put your baby to sleep on her side, either. Most babies will roll over both ways by the end of the 7th month, but always start them out going to sleep on their backs. You can give your baby tummy time to help strengthen her back muscles when she is awake and you are watching her.

About 4,000 infants (less than one year of age) die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States, according to the CDC. SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies between 1 month and 1 year old. Most SIDS cases happen in babies between 2 and 4 months old. We don’t know what causes SIDS, but certain things can put babies at higher risk:

  • Bed sharing – do not sleep in the same bed as your baby. Sleeping in the same room is suggested, just not the same bed. Bed sharing is the biggest risk factor for SIDS in babies under 4 months of age.
  • Sofa or couch sleeping – do not let your baby sleep on the couch or soft surfaces, including pillows. Nearly 13 percent of infant sleeping deaths are sofa-related.
  • Wearing too many clothes or sleeping in a room that is too hot.
  • Sleeping on her tummy or side.

Read more about safe sleep, mom and baby care and other tips for reducing the risk of SIDS.

If you have questions about putting your baby to sleep, send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org or ask your baby’s health care provider.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby due to SIDS or an unknown reason, the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center offers bereavement packets to families. Just email us with your mailing address and we will send one to you.

See other topics in the series on Delays and Disabilities- How to get help for your child, here.

Newborn screening for Pompe disease

Friday, March 20th, 2015

newborn-screening-picture1Early detection for Pompe disease through newborn screening will allow affected infants to receive prompt life-saving medical interventions. March of Dimes chapters across the country will be advocating for the addition of Pompe disease to newborn screening panels to ensure that all newborns can benefit from this potentially life-saving test.

The US Secretary of Health and Human Services recently added Pompe disease to the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. Pompe disease can be identified using the traditional newborn screening dried bloodspot and this early identification will lead to earlier treatment.

What is Pompe disease?

Pompe disease is a rare inherited disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness. It is due to changes in the gene that produces an enzyme called GAA. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down sugars. Infants and children with Pompe disease cannot produce GAA. Therefore sugars accumulate in the muscles, and this causes the muscles to get weaker and not work the way they should. This muscle weakness affects feeding, weight gain, movement, and even the heart. Pompe disease occurs in about 1 in 28,000 people in the U.S.

Infants with Pompe disease can seem healthy at first, but without early medical intervention, the disease will progress rapidly. Many children with Pompe disease do not survive past the first year of life. However, research has shown that early detection and treatment of Pompe disease can lead to better outcomes.

Treatments, including enzyme replacement therapy (ERT), can lead to a longer life and fewer disease complications. But for ERT to be most effective, it must be started before the onset of severe symptoms. Research suggests that the success rate of ERT for Pompe disease is higher if a newborn can receive treatment within the first three months of life.

The March of Dimes supports screening all newborns for conditions placed on the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. All the conditions included on the Uniform Screening Panel have shown that an affected infant benefits from early detection and treatment; there is a reliable screening test for the disorder; and early detection can be made from newborn bloodspots or other means.

Steps to take if your child is accidentally poisoned

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Poison prevention weekGrowing up my brother was a sneaky toddler who was always climbing and crawling all around the house. One story I always remembered hearing was how he used a chair to climb up on the counter and into a cabinet to grab a vitamin bottle while my mom was changing my sister’s diaper. The chewable, pink candy-tasting vitamins enticed him so much, he started eating handfuls. It wasn’t until he threw them up hours later that my parents realized what had happened and rushed him to the hospital.

Even when you take precautions to keep potentially dangerous items out of your little one’s reach, accidents happen. It’s important to be prepared.

Steps to take

If your child is unconscious or has trouble breathing, call 9-1-1.

If you think your child may have been poisoned, stay calm and call the toll-free Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222, which connects you to a local poison center. Do not wait for signs of poisoning before calling the Poison Help Line. Even if you are not sure if your child has consumed chemicals, medicine or household items, make the call. A poison expert will be on the other end of the line to assist you.

More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to poison control centers across the country. More than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home and the majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than six years old. Put the poison help line number in your cell phone and read through this emergency checklist to be prepared if a possible poisoning ever happens.

How to keep your child safe

Medication bottles with easy-open lids can be opened by a toddler in less than a minute. It’s important that you child-proof your home and always remember to lock up medications and cleaning supply bottles.

 

What is trisomy?

Friday, March 6th, 2015

chromosomes1Trisomy is a condition in which individuals are born with an extra copy of a specific chromosome in most or all of their cells. This means that they have three copies of a given chromosome in each cell rather than the typical number, which is two.

Chromosomes are the structures in cells that contain genes. Each person normally has 23 pairs of chromosomes, or 46 in all. An individual inherits one chromosome from the mother’s egg and one from the father’s sperm. When an egg and sperm join together, they normally form a fertilized egg with 46 chromosomes.

Sometimes something goes wrong before fertilization. A developing egg or sperm cell may divide incorrectly, causing that egg or sperm to have an extra chromosome. When this cell joins with a normal egg or sperm cell, the resulting embryo has 47 chromosomes instead of 46.

There are a variety of health conditions that may be associated with trisomy. Common physical problems for individuals with a trisomy include heart defects, vision or hearing problems, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Although trisomy can occur with any chromosome, there are three conditions that are most often associated with an extra chromosome. They are:

  • Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome: Down syndrome is one of the most common birth defects. In the US, about 6,000 babies (or 1 in 700) are born with Down syndrome each year. Most affected individuals have intellectual disabilities within the mild to moderate range. Although health conditions such as heart defects and vision and hearing problems are associated, most of these can be treated, and life expectancy is now about 60 years
  • Trisomy 18 is also called Edward syndrome. Trisomy 18 occurs in about 1 in 5,000 live births each year. Affected individuals may have heart defects, significant intellectual and developmental delay, and other life-threatening medical problems.
  • Trisomy 13, also known as Patau syndrome, occurs in about 1 in 10,000 to 16,000 live births each year worldwide. Individuals with trisomy 13 often have heart defects, brain or spinal cord abnormalities, severe intellectual and developmental disabilities, and multiple physical problems in many parts of the body.

It is important to understand that every individual with a trisomy is unique and not all of them will have the same symptoms. The problems depend on which chromosome is duplicated and how much of the extra chromosome is present.

March of Dimes grantees are studying basic biological processes of development to better understand the process of early cell division and how a trisomy may occur. In the past five years, the March of Dimes has invested $5,274,554 in trisomy research.