Archive for May, 2011

Sounds of pertussis

Friday, May 13th, 2011

sick-child-2Pertussis, whooping cough, is on the rise. It can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. But after 1–2 weeks, severe coughing can begin.

Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until there is no more air in the lungs and you’re forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. In infants, the cough can be slight or not even there. But Pertussis is most severe for little ones. More than half of babies under the age of one year who get the disease must be hospitalized. About 1 in 5 infants with pertussis get pneumonia, and about 1 in 100 will have convulsions. In rare cases (1 in 100), pertussis can be deadly, especially in infants.

People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while they’re around others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by parents, older brothers and sisters, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. (My 34 year old daughter actually had it last November!) Vaccination wears off, so it’s not safe to assume that the vaccine you received when you were young will protect you today.

The Sounds of Pertussis Campaign launched Race to Blanket America, an effort to blanket the country with pertussis education and encourage adults to get vaccinated against pertussis. The centerpiece of the Race to Blanket America is the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt, which symbolizes how those closest to babies can help create a “cocoon” — a blanket of protection — around the tiniest members of their family by getting an adult and adolescent tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccination. Learn more and talk with your provider about getting your booster.

Infant drops discontinued

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Johnson & Johnson and other makers of cold and fever medications said yesterday that they will discontinue infant drops of medicines containing acetaminophen in an effort to avoid confusion that can lead to dangerous overdoses. Currently, these products come in different strengths with differently marked droppers offered by various manufacturers.  Since these products may not be the same strength, this creates the possibility of accidentally giving your baby the wrong dosage. (For example: the dropper from Product A may be totally inappropriate for use with Product B.)

Acetaminophen is a fever reducer and pain reliever widely used in over-the-counter products such as Tylenol. While generally safe when used as directed, acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S. and overdoses send more than 50,000 people to emergency rooms each year.

The industry association for over-the-counter medicine companies, Consumer Healthcare Products Association, said its members (J&J, Novartis, Procter & Gamble and makers of generic cold medicines) will begin phasing out the liquid drops later this year. Companies will then manufacture and sell only a single formula for all children under the age of 12. Future infant or child acetaminophen medications will be produced from this single formula making it much safer to guarantee appropriate dosing.

J&J stated that during the transition phase, “There may be a time period when more than one concentration of infants’ acetaminophen products will be available in stores, and parents and caregivers might have both in their medicine cabinets. Caregivers should always read and follow the dosing directions on the package they are using.”

As always, anyone caring for children should contact the child’s healthcare provider if there is any question regarding appropriate dosing.

It’s National Nurses Week

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

nursesEvery year, National Nurses Week focuses attention on the diverse ways America’s 3.1 million registered nurses work to save lives and to improve the health of millions of individuals. Think of all the many ways nurses have helped you and your family.

Traditionally, National Nurses Week is devoted to highlighting the many ways in which registered nurses, who comprise the largest health care profession, are working to improve health care. From bedside nursing in hospitals and long-term care facilities to the halls of research institutions, state legislatures, and Congress, the depth and breadth of the nursing profession is meeting the expanding health care needs of American society. 

March of Dimes recognizes that nurses play a critical role in achieving our mission. Thank you for all you do to help women have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

Premature birth gene

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Scientists in the US and Finland say they have discovered a gene linked to premature birth. Investigators from Vanderbilt University (including a March of Dimes grantee), Washington University and the University of Helsinki report that variations in the gene for the follicle stimulating hormone receptor (FSHR) may increase a woman’s risk for delivering her baby prematurely.

The researchers believe there must have been evolutionary pressure to “adapt and shift the time of birth” to produce a smaller baby to ease delivery. A large head and a narrow pelvis are uniquely human traits. The report, published in PLoS Genetics, discusses evidence that gestation length has decreased throughout the evolution that leads to modern humans, and that human gestation is shorter than predicted compared to other primates.

To find genes that have changed to regulate birth timing, the researchers used comparative genomics to identify a set of “human accelerated genes” – genes that were most altered in humans compared to six other animals. They screened 150 of these accelerated genes in Finnish mothers and found that certain variations in the FSHR gene were more frequent in mothers who had experienced preterm birth. The same variations may also be associated with preterm births in African Americans.

Professor Louis Muglia, from the department of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University, is a co-author of this research and a March of Dimes grantee. Dr. Muglia said, “Ideally we’d like to predict which women are at greatest risk for having pre-term birth and be able to prevent it. That would really have an impact on infant mortality and the long-term complications of being born prematurely.” Here’s hoping future research reveals more soon.

Helping tornado victims in AL

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

tuscaloosa-familiesThe March of Dimes has mobilized its network of volunteers and sponsors to help pregnant women and families with infants cope with the aftermath of Alabama tornados, in coordination with Farmers Insurance.
 
On site at Home Depot in Tuscaloosa, AL, the Farmers Response Vehicle and March of Dimes Mom & Baby Mobile Health Center are distributing maternity clothes, diapers, wipes and other essentials for pregnant women and infants donated to the March of Dimes specifically for emergency assistance to all residents.
 
“The resources we have been able to gather to take care of some of the most vulnerable in our community are the little bit of silver lining in the cloud of this terrible situation,” says Jane Massey, March of Dimes executive vice-president and chief operating officer. “Their needs have brought out the best in people who have responded generously and I want to thank Kmart for their contributions of maternity and infant supplies.”

The March of Dimes has brochures addressed specifically to help pregnant women and anyone caring for a newborn during an emergency. The March of Dimes Web site www.marchofdimes.com also has timely and relevant information about food, water, breastfeeding and infant formula, and stress. Farmers Insurance is generously helping to distribute these brochures to families in need.

The brochures and Web site also list the symptoms of both preterm and normal labor.  Stress, a risk factor for preterm labor, is increased during an emergency. It’s vital that all pregnant women in affected areas in Alabama know to seek medical care immediately if they have any of the symptoms of labor.

If you would like to help in the efforts to support pregnant women and families with infants in Alabama, please contact the March of Dimes Alabama chapter.

How to find a midwife

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

A certified nurse-midwife is a registered nurse with advanced, specialized training and experience in taking care of pregnant women and delivering babies. Certified nurse-midwives are licensed to provide care before, during and after delivery.

The American College of Nurse Midwives has great information about midwifery on their web site. You will see that they are primary health care providers to women throughout the lifespan. They perform physical exams, prescribe meds including contraception, order lab tests, provide prenatal care, gynecological care, labor and birth care, as well as health education and counseling to women of all ages.

If you are interested in talking to a midwife, the Find a Midwife practice locator is a web-based service that allows you to find midwifery practices in your area. It also supplies you with basic contact information like practice name, address, phone number, e-mail address, web site and a map of the area. Check it out.

The pain of preeclampsia

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Our guest post today is a personal story from Meredith Drews of the Preeclampsia Foundation.

I am the mother of four—but I only get to kiss two of my children goodnight.  I have two boys, Thomas and Henry, and two daughters, Bridget and Elsie.  Thomas is five, plays t-ball, gymnastics and thinks Justin Beiber is cool.  Henry is two, adores his big brother, loves Mickey Mouse and is talking like crazy.  Bridget and Elsie died an hour after they were both born. They should be three years old.

It was my second pregnancy and we were shocked with spontaneous twins.  Once the surprise wore off, we adjusted to the idea and to the never-ending question: “Do twins run in your family?”
 
My twenty week ultrasound came and went… in this time we’d learned the twins were both girls; we’d just picked out names, the excitement was building, the reality settling in.  Two weeks or so after my “grand” ultrasound I went back to my OB for a check-up.  We did growth checks at each appointment and the girls’ heads had grown in two weeks, but not their stomachs.  My doctor was concerned and sent me home on bedrest for two weeks. I never made it that far.

A little more than a week later I called my doctor at 5 am in the morning.  I asked to come in and she said absolutely. I wasn’t swelling.  I thought maybe I had “floaters” in my eyes.  My urine was dark. I had bruising on my legs.  I’d had a nose bleed a few days earlier that I had trouble stopping.  There was no pain under my right ribcage, but I had had a pain in my right shoulder for nearly a week.

I knew preeclampsia could be a concern because of the visual disturbances.  My blood pressure was higher. I was spilling protein in my urine. My doctor sent me to the hospital, where things went from bad to horrific.  I was told I would be in the hospital at least a week. Then my doctor and MFM delivered the bad news: I had preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome (which I had NEVER heard of).  I needed to deliver right away.  If we chose to deliver cesarean, it would give the girls the best shot, but be very risky to me (with low platelets I could bleed to death), or, I could deliver vaginally and not attempt to save my daughters.

I had to call my husband over the phone with this news and we agreed the best thing to do would be to deliver vaginally, not risk all three of us and leave behind our son without his mother.  Every kick I felt inside me was gut-wrenching, knowing these little babies I’d tried so hard to keep safe were dying.  Unable to have an epidural, I felt every push of labor, heard all the crying in the room from doctors and nurses and my husband.  We heard a deafening silence from our baby girls.

We held our daughters in our arms as they died.

I couldn’t believe this had happened to me.  I still can’t.  I recovered in the hospital another five days and went home to my computer, searching for information and found the Preeclampsia Foundation.  I found information and support which helped me stay informed through my third pregnancy, just three months after we lost our girls.  In time, I have found a place and means to give meaning to my daughters’ one hour of life through the volunteer work I do.
 
I will never understand why this had to happen, but I someday hope to know what happened to cause my body to betray me like that.  I want to know how it happened and how others can prevent it.  Really… I want my baby girls back… but I’m very blessed to have my own health and my sweet, perfect two little boys—both born completely preeclampsia-free.

You can join us for a live chat about preeclampsia on May 11th at 2 PM EST. You’ll find us, and our guests from the Preeclampsia Foundation, on Twitter at #pregnancychat.

Pregnant flash mob for MOD

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

 

I love this!!! Thanks so much to those who thought this up and orchestrated it, to all the pregnant dancers and the dynomite dad-to-be. You guys are fantastic!

Thank you for walking with us!

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

marching-feetThis past weekend there were hundreds of March for Babies events across the United States. We are incredibly grateful to all of the thousands of individuals and family teams who laced up their sneakers and walked, strolled, ran or danced down the road to help raise funds so that one day, every baby will be born healthy.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!