Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

Avoid mercury in skin care products

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

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

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

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

How do you know if your product contains mercury?

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

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

Why is mercury dangerous?

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

Where else is mercury found?

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Friday, July 15th, 2016

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

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

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

You can see the CDC’s announcement here.

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

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

 

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

Friday, July 8th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Get vaccinated against the flu every year

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

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

The flu shot is important for pregnant women too

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

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

Questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

How mosquitoes spread the Zika virus

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Aedes aegypti mosquitoThe most common way the Zika virus spreads is through mosquito bites. Here are important facts to know about mosquitoes and Zika:

• The mosquitoes that spread Zika are called Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes live for about 2 to 3 weeks, indoors or outside.

• They’re called day biters because they bite most often during the day, but they also bite at night.

• These mosquitoes become infected with Zika when they bite someone who has the virus during the first week of infection.

• Three to five days after biting someone, the female lays her eggs. Mosquitoes from these eggs aren’t infected with Zika – they have to bite an infected person to become a Zika carrier.

These mosquitoes can lay their eggs in a bottle cap full of water! This is why getting rid of standing water in pet dishes, flower pots, bowls, bird baths, and other places is very important.

• The Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus live in various parts of the United States. Here is a map from the CDC of the best estimate of where these mosquitoes are or have been previously found.

HOWEVER, at the moment, there is no local transmission of Zika through mosquito bites in the United States. All cases of Zika in the U.S. have been the result of infection outside the country or through sexual transmission.

Then, why worry about mosquitoes?

Now that the warm weather here, it is expected that mosquitoes may bite infected individuals and then spread the virus. If a pregnant woman gets Zika, she can pass it to her baby.

Zika infection during pregnancy causes a birth defect called microcephaly, which has been linked to developmental delay, intellectual disabilities, seizures and other problems.

Zika infection during pregnancy also may be linked to:

• Miscarriage

• Stillbirth

• Other birth defects, including hearing loss and problems with the eyes

• Other severe brain defects.

Even among pregnant women with no symptoms of the virus, if they test positive for Zika, their babies may be harmed.

Bottom line

We don’t know the full impact of this virus on the long term development of babies and children.

We’re urging everyone to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Go to our websites to learn more about it:
www.marchofdimes.org/zika and www.nacersano.org/zika.

If you have any questions about the Zika virus, text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Summer travel with baby

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Travel with babyThe warmer weather is here, which is a great time to plan a trip with the family. If you have a little one though, you need to plan ahead before hitting the road.

Here are some tips for safe traveling with your baby:

  • Check in with your baby’s health care provider before your trip to make sure she is healthy.
  • Most health insurance plans cover emergency medical care no matter where you are, but it’s best to check your policy to learn what exactly is covered.
  • Learn about medical care that’s available where you are going. Ask your baby’s health care provider for recommendations or visit the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers website for info.
  • Check the CDC’s website for travel advisories and safety tips while away from home.

Now that you have read up on some valuable safety and health information for your travels, it’s time to pack!

Remember to include these items in your baby’s bag:

  • Baby food and  supplies you need to feed your baby breast milk or formula, such as bottles and a breast pump. Bring extra food or formula in case of travel delays.
  • Changing pad, diapers and diaper ointment. Throw-away changing pads can make changing your baby’s diaper easier.
  • Extra baby clothes
  • Pacifier
  • Rattle, book or favorite toy
  • Wipes
  • Medication or special equipment if your child has special needs

Whether you are traveling by car, boat or plane, in-state or internationally, read our web article for more tips on how to get where you are going safely. If you have a child with special needs, this post will be helpful, too.

 

Fireworks safety for the 4th of July

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

fireworks displayAs we head into the 4th of July weekend, many of us are excited to watch the fireworks. But setting off fireworks at home is not safe and in many states, it is not legal. Fireworks can cause burns, foreign objects entering the eye, and other serious injuries. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2013, eight people died and about 11,400 people required medical treatment after fireworks-related injuries.

For this reason, it is best to leave fireworks to the experts. There are many public fireworks displays that you and your family can enjoy. Here are some tips to help everyone have fun:

  • Keep a great distance from any fireworks launch sites. You can watch from an indoor location or your car windows if children become scared.
  • Fireworks displays can be upsetting for babies and for children with sensitive hearing. Learn how you can help your child enjoy a fireworks display without discomfort or a meltdown.
  • Sparklers are lots of fun, but they’re still dangerous for small children. Sparklers can heat up to 1,200 degrees! They should be handled only by adults or older children who know how to use them and understand they should not wave them in people’s faces.  Closely supervise anyone using sparklers. Or you can always use glow sticks as a fun alternative.
  • If you will be handling fireworks for any reason, use extreme caution. Keep children far away from you. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand and take the time to learn about fireworks safety.

With a little knowledge and planning, your whole family can enjoy the celebration. Happy Fourth of July!

The NICU dad – Superman has nothing on him

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

This post is dedicated to all dads, in honor of Father’s Day.

kangaroo-care-dadFatherhood is not supposed to start in a NICU.

When the birth of your baby is unexpectedly early or if your child has medical issues, you may find yourself coping with the stress of having your baby in the hospital. The anxiety and fear about your baby’s special health care needs can be overwhelming. Add to that the emotions your partner may be experiencing, coordinating work, NICU visits, and possibly other children, and you have one difficult situation.

But, a NICU dad is strong and resilient.

He spends time in the NICU holding his baby skin to skin (kangaroo care). He sings and talks to his baby.

He asks questions and makes decisions about his baby’s medical care.Parents in NICU w baby R

He is reassuring and comforting to the mother of his child, as she physically and emotionally heals from pregnancy and childbirth, and copes with fluctuating hormones.

A NICU dad runs pumped breastmilk to the freezer, washes bottles and encourages mom to pump if she can.

If there are other children at home, dad becomes the coordinator of the home front. He makes lunches, runs kids to school, helps with homework, and reassures the children that mom will be home soon. Dad takes care of pets, cleans, grocery shops and hopefully delegates tasks to family members and friends to help out.

Through it all, it can be hard for a dad to take care of himself. He needs sleep, good food and breaks to exercise and relax. It’s important that he takes the time to re-fuel so that he can be the best champion for his baby that he can be. Relying on friends and family to help may not come naturally at first, but a NICU dad soon learns that it takes an army to get everything done.

Although becdad-with-preemie2oming a dad in the NICU was not the original plan, every path to fatherhood is unique. It has its own rewards and lessons. March of Dimes recognizes every dad’s efforts and dedication. We know that every dad is making a difference in his baby’s life. Dads are important, appreciated and very much loved!

Do you have a NICU dad you’d like to honor? Please share your story with us.

 

Sunscreen made simple

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

fun in the sunThe time has come again – to stand in front of the sunscreen aisle in search of the best bottle of protection for you and your family. The rows are filled with different brands, SPF numbers and descriptions – how are you supposed to find the best one? We’ve made it simple with our list of dos and don’ts.

Do:

  • Buy a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.
  • Only use products that have UVA and UVB protection, also called Broad Spectrum protection.
  • Apply sunscreen on dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every 2 hours. Choose a bottle that is “water resistant” (effective for up to 40 minutes in water) or “very water resistant” (effective for up to 80 minutes in water) if you are going swimming.
  • Apply sunscreen every day you are outside, but especially if you are near water or sand as your risk of sunburn increases due to the reflection of the sun.
  • Generously apply sunscreen to all skin that is not covered by clothing. One ounce, the size of a shot glass, is the amount needed to cover exposed areas of your body.
  • If you or your child has sensitive skin, use a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these products maintain their protection without being absorbed by the skin, causing less irritation.
  • For an extra layer of protection, wear a rash guard (a shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester worn in the water to protect against sun and rash).

Remember:

Don’t use products that combine bug repellant with sunscreen. You need to reapply sunscreen often, but you don’t need to apply bug spray as much – the combo from excess bug repellant could cause toxic exposure.

Don’t choose a product with retinyl palmitate, especially if you are pregnant. This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with birth defects.

Don’t use a sunscreen that has passed its expiration date. If your sunscreen does not have a date, write one on your bottle after purchasing. Sunscreens retain their original strength for three years.

For more information on how to select a sunscreen, visit here.

Have tips to keep you and your little one safe in the sun this summer? Share what has worked for you.

Have questions? text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Making vaccines easier for your child

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Mom calming crying babyIn recognition of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), March of Dimes is participating in a blog relay to discuss the critical role vaccines play in protecting children, families, and communities against vaccine-preventable diseases. NIIW is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can follow the NIIW conversation on social media using hashtag #NIIW.

Let’s face it – getting a shot is not a pleasant experience for you or your baby. But making sure your child receives her vaccines to stay healthy is so important! Vaccines allow children to become immune to a disease without actually getting sick from the disease. It is always better to prevent an illness than to treat it after it occurs.

Here are some tips to make getting vaccinations easier:

  • Provide comfort. Keep your baby cuddled in your lap and sing to her. Here are ways to hold your baby or young child while she receives her shot.
  • Bring her favorite toy, book or blanket.
  • Make eye contact with her and tell her everything will be okay.
  • Be honest with your child; tell her the she may feel a pinch, but the shot will keep her healthy.
  • After the shot, hug and praise your child. For your baby, swaddling, breastfeeding or a bottle may offer relief.
  • Before leaving the office, ask your provider to advise you about a non-aspirin pain reliever in case your child is uncomfortable after the shot.

Keep your baby on track

It is important to keep up-to-date with your child’s vaccinations. It may seem like your baby needs many shots, but remember, receiving multiple vaccines at one time does not overload her immune system. Several vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of what your baby is exposed to every day in her environment. And your baby needs more than one dose of certain vaccines because each one builds up her immunity. Here is a complete schedule of your baby’s vaccines along with answers to many of your questions.

Off track? Use this handy tool to help you get back on schedule.

For the top 5 reasons why vaccines are important to your child’s health, see this post. Still got questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Remember: CDC strongly recommends giving babies the recommended immunizations by age two as the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles. You can learn more by visiting the CDC website. Be sure to stop by the other #NIIW relay participants’ blogs to learn about the benefits of immunization– tomorrow’s post will be hosted by What to Expect.