Archive for May, 2009

When to start brushing your baby’s teeth

Friday, May 15th, 2009

brush-teeth_thmAs soon as you little one’s first tooth appears, start a brushing routine with water. Later, when she is old enough to spit it out, introduce toothpaste.  The American Dental Association recommends that parents start a brushing routine when teeth first start to appear.  When you use toothpaste, make it a small (pea-sized) amount of a non-fluoride brand.  Toothpaste containing fluoride should not be used until your child is two years old, unless recommended by her dentist.  Fluoride mouth rinses should not be given to children under the age of six.  Flossing?  Start flossing as soon as two teeth start to touch each other.

So when should you actually take her to the dentist?  The ADA recommends that your baby be seen for her first dental visit within six months of the eruption of her first tooth and no later than her first birthday.  Sound early to you?  Well, the dentist will check the shape of your baby’s mouth, her teeth and gums, but also look for signs of damage caused by thumb sucking, decide if your tot might need fluoride supplementation earlier than age two, and then he’ll set a schedule for regular dental care and visits.  Starting healthy habits early will help protect her teeth for a lifetime.

Warning signs to stop exercise and call your doc

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

pregnant-exerciseSpring is here, it’s getting warmer so I’m wearing less.  After a winter of couch potatohood, I’m not really liking what I see in the mirror.  So I’m getting back into exercise in hopes of retrieving the real me, or a reasonable facsimile.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy pregnant women get at least 2 1/2 hours of aerobic exercise every week. This means that most pregnant women should try to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most, if not all, days. Examples of aerobic exercise are walking, swimming and dancing. Be sure to read up on exercise during pregnancy and double check with your health care provider before starting a routine.

Go for it and stay fit.  But, if you experience any of the following symptoms stop exercising and call you doctor right away.
• Bleeding from your vagina
• Difficult or labored breathing before you exercise
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Chest pains
• Muscle weakness
• Calf pain or swelling
• Preterm labor
• Decreased movement of the fetus
• Leakage of fluid from your vagina

When is your body ready to get pregnant?

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

You’ve thought carefully about having a baby and decided you’re ready. You stopped smoking and drinking alcohol. You’re eating a healthy diet and taking a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. You’ve visited your health care provider, and you’re putting money in your savings account each month. You’re ready to start trying to get pregnant.

A woman’s egg is fertile for only 12 to 24 hours after its release, ovulation.  Ovaries release an egg every month, about 14 days before the first day of a woman’s period.  A man’s sperm can live up to 72 hours after intercourse. So the best time to have sex if you’re trying to conceive is:
• A few days before ovulation
• The day of ovulation

The closer intercourse is to ovulation, the more likely it is you’ll get pregnant. You can track your ovulation using different methods.  And the more often you have sex, the more likely you are to get pregnant. But don’t get too anxious if it doesn’t happen right away.  On average, there is a 15-25% chance of conceiving each month.  Studies have shown that roughly half of couples trying to get pregnant conceive within four months, 75% of couples by six months, and 85% within a year.

Breastfeeding and pacifier usage – better than you think

Monday, May 11th, 2009

baby-with-pacifierFor many years there has been concern by some moms that using a pacifier would interfere with optimal breastfeeding.  A recent study by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that using a pacifier is just fine for breastfed infants.  There is no link to any interference with the best possibe breastfeeding experience, as long as breastfeeding is well established (three to four weeks) before a pacifier is introduced.

The researchers reviewed 29 studies from 12 countries that looked at pacifiers and breastfeeding.  There was no difference in the quality of the breastfeeding experience for the infant.  They did find that women whose babies used a pacifier seemed to stop breastfeeding earlier than other women, but it did not appear that the pacifiers were the reason.

An added benefit to pacifiers:   Over the past few years researchers have found evidence that babies who use pacifiers when they sleep may be less susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS. Because of this finding, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that pacifiers be used when babies are put down to sleep.  Regardless of the protection against SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend weaning children from pacifiers in the second six months of life to help prevent otitis media, an inflammation of the middle ear.

Speak Now for Kids: Medical care for children

Monday, May 11th, 2009

child-playing-doctorMedical care. Health insurance. We all worry about them.

Will we have the medical care and the insurance we need when someone in the family gets sick?

What about routine checkups? Can I afford the copay?

My kids deserve reliable, quality medical care. What can  I do to be sure they get it?

The March of Dimes is a national partner in the campaign “Speak Now for Kids in Health Reform.” More than 120 other organizations have also signed on.

As Congress debates health care reform, Speak Now for Kids will be there. We want to be sure kids get the the medical care they need. 

You can help. Go to the Speak Now for Kids Web site. Tell us about your experiences with children’s health insurance and medical care.

Add your voice to this important national discussion.

Insure Kids Now!

Friday, May 8th, 2009

kids-looking-at-turtleA new bill signed into law by President Obama makes millions of children eligible to receive health insurance.

If your kids do not have health insurance, they are likely to be eligible, even if you are working and even if you have applied in the past and were turned down.

Your state (and every state) has its own program, with its own eligibility rules.  In many states, uninsured children 18 years old and younger whose families earn up to $44,500 a year (for a family of four) are eligible for free or low-cost health insurance that pays for doctor visits, dental care, prescription meds, hospitalizations and more.

Go to your state’s program or make a free call to 1-877-KIDS-NOW.

TV and furniture tipovers: A hazard for baby

Friday, May 8th, 2009

big-screen-tvFurniture and TVs sometimes tip over and cause injuries. The number of these injuries is increasing. Our wonderful big-screen TVs that are so perfect for the Super Bowl are part of the problem. These are the findings of a new study published in the medical journal Clinical Pediatrics.

One out of four of these injuries occurs when children pull over or climb on furniture. For children under the age of 7, the main hazard is the television. Children may injure their heads or necks or break bones. Tthese injuries can be serious.

So what can we do?

  * Place the TV low to the ground and near the back of the stand.

  * Attach TVs and furniture to the wall with safety straps or brackets.

  * Buy furniture that has wide legs and a solid base.

  * Install drawer stops on chests that have drawers.

  * Place heavy items close to the floor on shelves.

  * Don’t put your child’s favorite toy or the remote control on top of furniture or the television. Small children love these items and will reach for them every time.

Do you know any tips that can help? Be safe, everybody.

Prenatal care video

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Pregnant but haven’t been to your health care provider yet? What goes on at a prenatal care visit?  Check out this video.

The risks of teen pregnancy

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

teenage-girl-2For so many women, pregnancy is a wonderful time: full of hope and excitement about a new baby. But for teens, pregnancy brings some  challenges.

Teen mothers and their babies face special health risks. Compared to other pregnant women, the teen mom is more likely to face complications. Examples:  premature labor, anemia and high blood pressure.

Babies born to teen moms are at increased risk of premature birth, low weight at birth, breathing problems, bleeding in the brain,  and vision problems.

Teen pregnancy also affects a young woman’s educational and job opportunities. Teen moms are less likely to graduate from high school than other teenagers. They are also more likely to live in poverty than women who wait to have a baby.

Today is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Teen birth rates in the United States are on the rise again after a steady decline between 1991 and 2005.

If you are a teen, please think carefully about getting pregnant. If you know a teen, help her understand why it’s usually best to delay pregnancy.

For more information, read the March of Dimes fact sheet.

Seasonal allergies -when to get tested for them

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

allergiesI live in New York State and this year spring is just outdoing itself – every flowering shrub, bulb, bush, blade of grass, flower, tree and elegant weed is struttin’ it’s stuff and tootin’ Mother Nature’s horn.  I mean it’s gorgeous outside!  And I can’t breathe.

Do you guys suffer the attack of the pollen monster?  I have allergies that bring me nasal congestion, itchy eyes, runny nose and post nasal drip.  I’ve never gotten tested for specific allergies, but on days like today, I’m rethinking that.  If you’re thinking of being tested for allergies but hope to become pregnant soon, either test before you become pregnant or wait until after you have your baby.  Allergy skin testing is not done during pregnancy because there is a small risk that anaphylaxis may occur. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can include hives, swelling of the tongue and throat, possibly loss of consciousness.  During pregnancy, a severe case of anaphylaxis might decrease blood and oxygen flowing to the uterus, possibly harming the fetus.

If you already are taking allergy shots, speak with your provider about the possibility of pregnancy.  Depending on your personal situations, your provider may choose to continue the shots full strength, dilute them to 50% or discontinue them.  It’s good to have a plan in place before you conceive.

So is it OK to take medication during this time?  Always ask your provider what’s safe for you before taking something.  As a general rule, nasal saline (salt water) is good for keeping your nasal passages moist and helping you blow away the nasties. Nasal steroids should be avoided unless prescribed by your provider.  Many antihistamines generally are considered safe to use.  Decongestants should be avoided during the first trimester due to a possible association with an intestinal defect in the fetus.  If you have a question about the safety of a medication during pregnancy or breastfeeding (OTC or Rx), contact OTIS, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists.