Archive for the ‘Baby’ Category

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.

 

Poison Prevention: Tips for Parents

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Did you know that every year about 3 million people, mostly kids, eat or have contact with a poisonous substance? National Poison Prevention Week is observed from March 18 – 24, 2018 in an effort to raise awareness and help protect children from accidental poisoning. The American Academy of Pediatrics (also called AAP) has developed recommendations that parents and caregivers can follow to protect little ones from accidental poisoning.

Follow and share these recommendations with family, friends and caregivers to make sure they know what to do to help keep your children safe:

  •  Keep medications in their original packaging and in containers with safety caps. Store them away from children. Please note that the safety caps are designed to be child resistance, but that doesn’t mean they are fully child proof. Safely discard any unused or expired medications.
  • Store cleaning and laundry products (especially detergent packets), paints, windshield wiper fluid, antifreeze, kerosene, gasoline, lamp oil and pesticides in locked cabinets or containers. Keep them in their original packaging and out of sight and reach of children.
  • Install safety latches and make sure they automatically lock when you close a cabinet door. But keep in mind these devices can also malfunction or a child can defeat it. It is best to store poisonous products in a place that your child can’t reach or see.
  • When giving medication to your child never refer to it as “candy.” Always use a dosing device and double check the label to ensure proper dosage. A kitchen spoon is never a substitute for a dosing device. If you have questions about the dose of a medication, call your child’s health care provider.
  • Secure devices that may contain small buttons or coin batteries. They can be dangerous if ingested. For example, remote controls, key fobs (for cars), greeting cards, holiday ornaments, thermometers, musical children’s books, toys and many others.
  • Find out the names of all plants in your home and garden. If any of them are poisonous, remove them. Before buying a plant, find out if they are poisonous for children or your pets.
  • Ingestion or skin exposure of e-cigarette liquid (even just a small amount) can be fatal to a child. If you or anybody in your house uses them, make sure they are out of reach and sight of children. Some of them come in child resistant packaging, but that doesn’t mean they are child proof.
    • Be extra alert if you have visitors during a special event or holiday gathering. Many poisonings occur during busy times. Make sure drawers and cabinets that are usually locked stay that way. If you’re having company, consider hiring a babysitter or ask a family member to help you keep a close eye on your little one.

What can you do?

If you think your child may have been poisoned, stay calm but act fast. Call the toll-free Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222, which will connect you to a local poison center. Save this number on your phone or make a note of it in your house, near your house phone or your fridge. Do not wait to see if your child shows signs of poisoning. Even if you are not completely sure if your child has consumed a poisonous substance, make the call. It is best to have a poison expert on the other end of the line who can help you and tell you what to do.

Prescription opioids and breastfeeding

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Prescription opioids are medicines used to relieve pain your health care provider may prescribe if you’ve been injured or had surgery or dental work. Prescription opioids include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, and tramadol, among others. Prescription opioids are sometimes used to treat a cough or diarrhea.

Are there risks associated with taking prescription opioids?

Opioids have gotten a lot of attention in the United States because they are easy to get addicted to. Along with helping relieve pain, they also release chemicals in the brain that can make you feel calm and intensely happy (also called euphoria). Drug addiction is a brain condition that leads to using drugs, even if they’re harmful, because they affect self-control and your ability to stop using a drug. If you take prescription opioids during pregnancy, they can cause problems for your baby, such as premature birth and neonatal abstinence syndrome (also called NAS). NAS is when a baby is exposed to a drug in the womb before birth and goes through withdrawal from the drug after birth. Even if you use an opioid exactly like your health care provider tells you to, it still may cause NAS in your baby.

What can you do if you take a prescription opioid while breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is beneficial for you and your baby. It helps you bond with your baby and your breast milk helps build your baby’s immunity to protect her from infections. If your baby has NAS, breastfeeding may help make her withdrawal less severe so she needs less medicine and can leave the hospital sooner.

If you’re taking prescription opioids for pain relief with your provider’s supervision, you can breastfeed your baby depending on the medicine you take. Some can cause serious problems for your baby. Here are some things you can do:

  • Make sure your provider who prescribes the opioid knows you’re breastfeeding.
  • Take the medicine exactly as your provider tells you to.
  • Talk to your provider about switching to a safer pain reliever if you take codeine, hydrocodone, meperidine, oxycodone, or tramadol. Pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®) are safe to use when breastfeeding.
  • Talk to your provider about ways to avoid addiction to opioids.

For more information

If you have questions about exposures and medication use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, call MotherToBaby toll-free at 866-626-6847 or send a text to 855-999-3525. You may also visit their website at mothertobaby.org.

World Birth Defects Day 2018

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Every year, an estimated 8 million babies around the world are born with a serious birth defects. In the United States, that’s about 1 in 33 babies. Birth defects are common, costly, and critical. All communities are affected by birth defects. That is why, on March 3, March of Dimes is joining more than 100 organizations from around the world to observe the fourth annual World Birth Defects Day.

Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops or how the body functions. Birth defects are a major cause of child mortality, and those who survive, may face a lifetime of disability.

There are thousands of different birth defects. The most common and severe birth defects are heart defects, neural tube defects and Down syndrome. We don’t know all the reasons why birth defects occur. Some may be caused by the genes you inherit from your parents. Others may be caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to harmful chemicals. Some may be due to a combination of genes and the environment. In most cases, the causes are unknown.

While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are steps you can take to help you have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. One of those steps is to take a vitamin supplement with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid in it every day. Taking folic acid before and during the early weeks of pregnancy can help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defects. Even if you’re not trying to get pregnant soon, take a vitamin supplement with folic acid. Take a look at the video at the top of the page to learn more about folic acid.

Join us tomorrow to promote World Birth Defects Day and help raise awareness to help improve the health of all babies around the world.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Lend your voice! Register with your social media account and Thunderclap will post a one-time message on March 3rd. Sign up for the World Birth Defects Day Thunderclap campaign: http://po.st/WBDD18
  • Participate in the Buzzday on Twitter, March 3 by using the hashtag #WorldBDDay.

Learn more at: worldbirthdefectsday.org

What is a rare disease?

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

 

In the United States, any disease, disorder, illness or condition that affects less than 200,000 is considered a rare disease. Health conditions such as Tay-Sachs, ocular toxoplasmosis, fragile X syndrome, and ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) are just a few examples. However, the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD) says that there are more than 7,000 rare conditions that affect about 30 million people in the United States. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have a rare disease in the U.S. — more than half of them are children.

People who have a rare disease have many different needs, but since it can be difficult to make a correct diagnosis, getting the right treatment can be difficult. Rare diseases affect the lives of people in many ways, not only because they are sick, but because they do not know much about the disease, the diagnosis, the treatment or even what they can expect to happen with their health and quality of life over time.

Sadly, about 95% of rare diseases have no treatment and none of them have a cure. The truth is that the cause of the majority of these diseases is still unknown today, although some of them might be genetic. Knowing your family medical history and discussing it with your health care provider is always a good idea, especially if you plan on having a baby.

Today, February 28th, we help raise awareness on this important issue. Join us and NORD to raise awareness about rare diseases, the impact it has on the people affected by them, their families and the community. Visit rarediseases.org and rarediseaseday.us to learn more.

Congenital heart defects: how do you know if your baby has one?

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Nearly 1 in 100 babies (about 1 percent or 40,000 babies) is born with a heart defect in the United States each year. About 4,800 babies each year are born with critical congenital heart defects or CCHD.

CCHD is a group of the seven most severe congenital heart defects. Many heart defects don’t need treatment or can be fixed easily. But some, like CCHD, can cause serious health problems or death. Babies with CCHD need treatment within the first few hours, days or months of life.

Severe congenital heart defects usually are diagnosed during pregnancy or soon after birth. Less severe heart defects often aren’t diagnosed until children are older.

During pregnancy

Your provider may use a test called fetal echo to check your baby’s heart. This test makes a picture of your baby’s heart while still in the uterus (womb). You can have this test as early as 18 to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

You may need a fetal echo if:

• Your provider finds a possible problem, like your baby has an abnormal heart rhythm, during an ultrasound.
• You have a medical condition, like diabetes or lupus, that may play a role in congenital heart defects.
• You have a family history of congenital heart defects or heart disease.
• Your baby has a chromosomal condition, like Down syndrome, Turner syndrome or VCF.

After birth

Your baby may be tested for CCHD as part of newborn screening before he leaves the hospital after birth. Newborn screening checks for serious but rare conditions at birth. It includes blood, hearing and heart screening. All states require newborn screening, but they don’t all require screening for CCHD. Ask your provider if your state tests for CCHD. Or check for what your state covers.

Babies are screened for CCHD with a test called pulse oximetry (also called pulse ox). This test checks the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood using a sensor attached to his finger or foot.

After birth, signs and symptoms of heart defects can include:

• Fast breathing
• Gray or blue skin coloring
• Fatigue (feeling tired all of the time)
• Slow weight gain
• Swollen belly, legs or puffiness around the eyes
• Trouble breathing while feeding
• Sweating, especially while feeding
• Abnormal heart murmur (extra or abnormal sounds heard during a heartbeat)

If your baby shows any of these signs or symptoms, call her health care provider right away. Your baby’s provider can use additional tests to check for heart defects.

Take steps to prevent flu

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Flu activity increased again last week and the flu remains widespread throughout the United States. And according to CDC, flu activity is likely to remain elevated for several more weeks. So what can you do? Here are some steps that you can take to prevent the flu:

Get your flu shot!

  • It’s still not too late to get a flu shot. Everyone 6 months and older should get their flu shot every year.
  • CDC recommends that everyone, 6 months and older, get a flu shot, especially people who are at high risk of developing serious complications. This includes:
  • Children younger than 6 months are too young to be vaccinated but are still at high risk of serious flu complications. Make sure that you and anyone else who cares for your baby is vaccinated.
  • A flu shot may make your illness milder if you do get the flu. A flu shot can also reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.

Prevent the spread of germs.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Throw the tissue away after you’ve used it.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
  • If you’re sick, stay home and limit contact with others as much as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that can be contaminated with germs.

Take antivirals if they are prescribed.

  • If you get the flu, antiviral medications can make your flu milder and help you to feel better faster.
  • Antivirals can also help prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia.
  • Antivirals work best if you take them within 2 days of having symptoms.
  • If your baby is at high risk for flu, his provider may prescribe an antiviral as soon as he begins to have flu symptoms. All children younger than 5 are at high risk for flu, especially children younger than 2. Children who were born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or who have chronic health conditions, like asthma or sickle cell disease, also are at high risk.
  • In the U.S, there are two medicines approved for preventing or treating the flu in pregnant women, women who recently had a baby, and children.
    • Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu®). This can be used in children as young as 2 weeks.
    • Zanamivir (brand name Relenza®). This is approved for individuals older than 5. This medicine is a powder that you breathe in by mouth. It isn’t recommended for people with breathing problems, like asthma.

If you or your baby have any signs or symptoms of the flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, call your health care provider right away. Early treatment can help to prevent serious flu complications.

Worried about the flu?

Friday, January 19th, 2018

By now you’ve probably heard that flu activity is widespread throughout the United States. If you’re pregnant or have a baby, here’s some information that may help during this flu season.

Signs and symptoms of the flu

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

  • Cough or sore throat
  • Feeling very tired
  • Fever, chills, or body shakes
  • Headaches
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Not being hungry
  • Vomiting (throwing up) and diarrhea (more common in children)

Fever and most other symptoms can last a week or longer. Some people can be sick from the flu for a long time, including children, people older than 65, pregnant women and women who have recently had a baby.

Treating the flu

If you think you or anyone in your family may have the flu, call your health care provider right away. She may prescribe an antiviral medicine to prevent or treat the flu. Antivirals kill infections caused by viruses. They can make the flu milder and help you feel better faster. Antivirals also can help prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For flu, antivirals work best if you take them within 2 days of having symptoms.

If you’re pregnant and have a fever, call your provider as soon as possible and take acetaminophen.

If your baby has a fever, ask her provider if you can give her infant’s or children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Protect yourself and others from the flu

When you have the flu, you can spread it to others. Here’s what you can do to help prevent it from spreading:

  • Stay home when sick and limit contact with others.
  • Don’t kiss anyone.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your arm. Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before touching anyone. You also can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Use enough hand sanitizer so that it takes at least 15 seconds for your hands to dry.
  • Use hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to wash your dishes and utensils.
  • Don’t share your dishes, glasses, utensils or toothbrush.

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

No it’s not too late! You can still get a flu shot. Getting a flu shot is safe for most pregnant women and it can help prevent you from getting the flu. The flu shot may make your symptoms milder and prevent complications if you do get sick. You can get the shot from your health care provider or pharmacies. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find out where you can get the flu vaccine.