Archive for June, 2010

Preterm Birth Survey

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Did you discuss preterm birth with your doctor?

new survey reveals that expectant moms and doctors are not talking about: preterm birth.

Even though one in every eight babies is born too soon in our country, the subject rarely comes up during prenatal visits. It’s understandable, doctors don’t want to cause mom unnecessary distress. But it’s also a missed opportunity. If more women knew about their risk factors and things they could do to protect their growing babies, some preterm births could actually be avoided.

The March of Dimes, BabyCenter and Ther-Rx Corporation, who collaborated on the survey, encourage moms and doctors to start talking about preterm birth and preterm birth prevention.

How about you, did you and your doctor discuss your risk factors for preterm birth?

Kellogg’s cereals recalled

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recalling nearly 28 million boxes of Kellogg’s® brand cereals. The cereals being recalled are Apple Jacks®, Corn Pops®, Froot Loops® and Honey Smacks®. The FDA received reports that the package liners in these cereals have an unusual smell affecting the flavor of the cereals. Some people reported having temporary nausea or diarrhea.

The cereals were sold at stores nationwide between March and June of this year. If you have any of the cereals mentioned above, take a look at the Better If Used Before Date on the box. Only cereal boxes with the letters “KN” appearing after the Better If Used Before Date are being recalled.

While it’s unlikely for people to get seriously ill, the FDA recommends that consumers stop eating these cereals and contact the Kellogg’s Consumer Response Center at 888-801-4163 for a new box of cereal.  Visit the FDA Web site for more information. Learn more about food safety.

Underweight and infertile

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

We as a nation seem to be getting fatter by the minute.  We’re always reading about obesity and the problems it causes, of which there are many.  But some women, whether because they pay too much attention to the fashion police or they have too much stress or other issues in their lives, are really, really thin.  Some women are just tiny, but some have an eating disorder that makes and keeps them thin.  Anorexia and bulimia are two eating disorders that wreak havoc with your body.

Anorexia nervosa is a disorder making a person incapable of maintaining a minimum body weight considered healthy for a person’s height and age.  Intense fear of gaining weight causes severe dieting and/or excessive exercising.  Bulimia is a similar disorder but often consists of binge eating and then vomiting, perhaps combined with laxative use, to prevent weight gain.  Among other health issues, both of these conditions can cause infertility.

Women need to have a certain amount of body fat in order to menstruate, conceive and carry a baby.  If a woman’s body fat reserves drop too low, her body starts to protect itself and she may stop menstruating, since this is a process that is not vital to her survival.  This can prevent her from conceiving.  (A bulimic woman may actually carry a little more weight and therefore may continue to menstruate.  But the process of binge eating and vomiting may be too harsh on her body to sustain a pregnancy if one is conceived.)

And women aren’t the only ones with eating problems that can affect pregnancy. Men who are anorexic (oh yeah, we’re not the only ones) and have a very low body fat ratio may have a significant drop in sperm production, also hampering the ability to conceive.

If you are hoping to conceive but haven’t been able to yet, consider analyzing your body weight and eating patterns.  Look at it from different perspectives.  If either you or your partner is particularly thin, consider altering your diet and gaining some weight.  Talk with your provider about how to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Snacks for your troops

Monday, June 28th, 2010

fruitAre your kids home and running around? Do you keep hearing “I’m hungry!” in between bursts of energy?

Sometimes kids aren’t really hungry, they’re bored.  Many children and adults eat when they’re bored, one of the contributors to our overweight society. Sometimes it’s tempting for us to just cave in and give Junior that cookie (been there), but try not to.  If breakfast or lunch was only an hour ago, getting your tike interested in a project (coloring, building with blocks, making a fort under a table, splashing in the yard in a pot of water…) can divert his attention away from food.  It’s important to help kids manage their hunger.  Avoid letting them pick and nibble throughout the day because it can set them up for overeating when they’re older.

But then there are times when they really are hungry and they need to refuel.  Scheduling snacks can be helpful for you and for them.  Here’s a link to some good information about smart, fun, creative and healthy snacking.

Cleft lip and cleft palate: what it is and what can be done

Friday, June 25th, 2010

What do King Tutankhamun, Peyton Manning, Tom Brokaw, Jesse Jackson, and Stacy Keach all have in common?  It is an interesting group, isn’t it?  The one thing they all share is that they were all born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or even both.  About 4,200 babies are born each year in the United States with cleft lip/palate.  A cleft occurs when either the lip or the palate (or both) does not close completely.  These birth defects occur very early in gestation—the lip usually closes by about 5-6 weeks after conception and the palate is formed by 7 weeks.

How does this happen?  Well for the most part, we are not quite sure.  Most likely a number of genes and environmental factors play a role.  Some studies have shown that folic acid may help prevent oral-facial clefts—yet another good reason to make sure you take that 400mcg of folic acid before and during your early pregnancy!  We also know that some ethnic groups have a higher rate of clefts.  Cleft lip and palate occurs more frequently in certain Native American groups and Asians than it does in Caucasians.  It is least common in African Americans.  Isolated cleft palate, however, occurs less often (2,600 babies each year) and among all ethnic groups equally.

Babies born with clefts share a few common problems.  The first is feeding.  Although isolated cleft lip usually doesn’t disrupt feeding, a cleft palate definitely can.  An opening in the roof of the mouth is going to make it difficult for a baby to really be able to suck milk through a small opening efficiently.  Some may have problems with gagging, choking, or milk coming out of their nose.  There are specially made bottles that can help with these issues.  Breastfeeding is still strongly encouraged.  Although nursing can be very difficult, a mom can pump and use the special bottle to feed the baby.

Babies with clefts can also have speech problems, dental issues, and more frequent ear infections.  That is why most children born with clefts are seen by a team of specialists that includes a pediatrician, a dentist, an ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist), and a speech-language specialist, an audiologist (hearing specialist) and a genetic counselor.  That team can help with any issues that may arise.

Surgery is used to repair cleft lip and cleft palate but the timing depends on the type of repair needed.  Cleft lip is frequently repaired by about 3 months of age and cleft palate between 6-18 months of age.  Sometimes children will need additional surgeries as they grow.  The March of Dimes has spent $6.9 million  in the past ten years trying to figure out why clefts happen and how to prevent them.  For more information you can check out the Cleft Palate Association.  If you have any specific questions feel free to email us.

Whooping cough epidemic in California

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

California is facing the most serious outbreak of whooping cough in 50 years. Five infants have died of the disease since the first of the year, and over 900 people have gotten sick.

Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health, stated, “Whooping cough is now an epidemic in California. Children should be vaccinated against the disease, and parents, family members and caregivers of infants need a booster shot.”

This is a reminder to all of us to have our children vaccinated and to keep our own immunizations up to date. Stay healthy, everyone!

Wait… check your weight!

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

on-the-scalesWe have posted before on the importance of getting your weight under control before you get pregnant.  It helps you and your baby in so many ways.  And it’s also important to gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy.

I just came across a great podcast from the National Academies of Science called Weight Gain During Pregnancy: How Much Is Too Much? It’s really very good and worth listening to if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy.  Check it out.

More cribs recalled, again

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

We’ve posted about cribs being recalled several times in the last few months (post 1, post 2, post 3). This time, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is recalling over 2 million cribs, both drop side and fixed side, made by 7 different companies. These cribs pose a safety risk to your baby such as falling, getting stuck or suffocating. The cribs being recalled were sold between 2000 and 2009 and were made by the following companies:

• Child Craft (now know as Foundations Worldwide): 866-614-0557 or cribsafetyinfo.com
• Delta Enterprise Corp.: 877-342-3418 or cribrecallcenter.com
• Evenflo: 800-356-2229 or safety.evenflo.com
• Jardine Enterprises: 800-295-1980 or jdservice.biz/Safety-Notices
• Million Dollar Baby: 888-673-6488 or themdbfamily.com/safety
• Simmons Juvenile Products Inc. (SJP): 877-342-3439 or cribrecallcenter.com

If you have a crib made by any of these companies, contact the company for a free repair kit. In the meantime, the CPSC asks that these cribs not be used until you receive the free repair kit. Visit the CPSC Web site for more information. Learn more about buying a safe crib for your baby.

Gulf oil spill and pregnant women

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Through all of the worsening news of  the spill and the photos of birds, turtles and even bugs soaked with oil, there has been a nagging worry about contaminents.  When I started to hear about hazmat suits and fishermen complaining of health concerns, my thoughts went to what about all the pregnant women living and breathing down on the gulf?

Now, the CDC has come out with an information page addressing many of the concerns for pregnant women.  It addresses the air quality, smell, burning oil, dispersants, safety of the drinking water as well as fish and seafood.  If you  are living in a gulf state or know someone who is, please read this and pass it along.

Genital herpes and pregnancy

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause serious health problems in infected newborns. Approximately 45 million Americans have genital herpes. Up to 1 million new cases occur each year, including about 1,200 to 1,500 in newborns.

While most women with genital herpes have healthy babies, a small number pass the virus on to their babies during labor and delivery. For this reason, it is especially important for pregnant women to recognize the symptoms of genital herpes and to seek immediate medical treatment if they think they could be infected. Pregnant women should tell their health care provider if they have had herpes in the past, so the provider can take any necessary steps to protect their babies from the infection.

Herpes is caused by herpes simplex viruses (HSVs), which are similar to the viruses that cause chickenpox and shingles. After the initial infection, HSVs can hide within nerve cells, where the body’s immune system cannot reach them. Then, under the right conditions, the viruses can launch new attacks.

Women who acquire genital herpes for the first time near the time of delivery have a 30 to 50 percent chance of passing the infection on to their babies during a vaginal delivery, whether or not they have symptoms. The risk is so high because a newly infected pregnant woman has not yet produced disease-fighting antibodies that could help protect her baby during delivery. Studies suggest that about 2 percent of pregnant women acquire herpes for the first time during pregnancy.

Women who have had herpes before pregnancy and have a flare-up or silent infection at the time of vaginal delivery have only about a 3 percent chance of infecting their babies. Sometimes, what appears to be a first, severe episode of herpes during pregnancy actually can be a flare-up of an old silent infection. These women have a low risk of infecting their babies. Blood tests sometimes can help determine whether a woman has a new infection or a recurrence of an old one.

If a pregnant woman has a history of genital herpes, her health care provider examines her carefully for any signs of infection when she goes into labor. When a woman has an active infection (primary or recurrent) at the time of delivery, her baby usually can be protected from infection by a cesarean delivery. A vaginal delivery is safe for most women with recurrent herpes as long as they don’t have signs of infection at delivery.

To learn more about signs and symptoms, health issues of the newborn and ways to try to prevent herpes transmission, read our fact sheet on genital herpes and pregnancy.