Is it an allergy or a cold?

06
May
Posted by Barbara

blowing a child's noseWhen cold symptoms last more than a week or two, or develop about the same time every year, it may be due to an allergy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, (AAP). Typical cold symptoms accompanied by an itchy throat, eyes, ears, mouth or skin are usually signs of an allergy. Other allergy symptoms may include coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing, as well as rashes, hives and an upset stomach.

I know that allergies are no fun. Runny nose, itchy eyes, feeling like a marshmallow has invaded my head – these are a few of the annoying things that plague me at this time every year. In my case, I know I am allergic to pollen, grass and trees. Going outside can be a challenge (especially if I insist on breathing). Carrying a tissue pack everywhere I go is an absolute MUST for me. I have learned to live with my allergies and can tell the difference between when my symptoms are due to an allergy or a cold.

When your child has any of these symptoms, how do you know if it is a cold or an allergy?

To know for sure if it is an allergy or not, let your child’s pediatrician determine the cause of the symptoms. He may be able to tell in just one visit, or he may recommend that you take your child to a pediatric allergist (a doctor with advanced training in allergy and asthma). To make the most of your visit, try keeping a diary of your child’s symptoms, along with factors such as where you were (eg. a home with a cat or outside on the grass). Also, keep track of issues such as lack of concentration or attention. The more information you can give your child’s health care provider, the easier it will be to determine if your child’s symptoms are due to an allergy or not.

If it is an allergy, the doctor may recommend medications that can make your child more comfortable. Usually, some lifestyle changes can help, too.

What can help keep allergies at bay?

The AAP suggests:
• if your child is allergic to pollen, keep him indoors in the early morning when pollen levels are at their highest
• bathe your pet frequently to keep him from spreading pollen around your home
• keep windows closed, especially at night, and run your air conditioner to help remove allergens
• do not let your pet sleep in your child’s bedroom.

In addition, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has a section on their website that guides you through allergy symptoms, types, and treatments. It includes info on managing allergies at home, school, and the importance of knowing triggers.

What happens if allergies are severe?

In some cases, a child may have an allergy severe enough to warrant carrying an EpiPen, a pen-like inject-able needle that provides epinephrine (a hormone) to halt an allergic reaction. In other cases, allergy shots (immunotherapy) may be suggested, to gradually desensitize your child to the allergen, and lessen symptoms. Your child’s health care provider will be able to evaluate him and make specific recommendations.

Allergies can affect your child’s life in a negative way, so early and continued monitoring of his symptoms by you and his health care provider will help to give him the best outcome possible.

See other topics on how to help your child, here.

 

Preeclampsia can lead to premature birth

04
May
Posted by Lauren

preeclampsia, headachePreeclampsia affects one in every 12 pregnancies. It is the cause of 15 percent (about 1 in 8) of premature births in the United States. Women with preeclampsia are more likely than women who don’t have preeclampsia to have preterm labor and delivery. Even with treatment, a pregnant woman with preeclampsia may need to give birth early to avoid serious problems for her and her baby.

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure and signs that some of her organs, like her kidneys and liver, may not be working properly. This condition can happen after the 20th week of pregnancy or right after birth. Preeclampsia can be a serious medical condition. Without medical treatment, preeclampsia can cause kidney, liver and brain damage. It can also cause serious bleeding problems. In rare cases, preeclampsia can become a life-threatening condition called eclampsia that includes seizures. Eclampsia sometimes can lead to coma and even death.

Know the signs and symptoms:

• Severe headaches
• Vision problems, like blurriness, flashing lights, or being sensitive to light
• Pain in the upper right belly area
• Nausea or vomiting
• Dizziness
• Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
• Swelling in the legs, hands, and face

If you have any of these signs or symptoms, contact your prenatal care provider right away.

Preeclampsia can develop gradually, or have a sudden onset, flaring up in a matter of hours. You can also have mild preeclampsia without symptoms. It’s important that you go to all of your prenatal care visits so your provider will measure your blood pressure and check your urine for protein.

How is preeclampsia treated?

The cure for preeclampsia is the birth of your baby. Treatment during pregnancy depends on how severe your preeclampsia is and how far along you are in your pregnancy. Even if you have mild preeclampsia, you need treatment to make sure it doesn’t get worse. Treatments may include medications to lower blood pressure, corticosteroids or anticonvulsant medications to prevent a seizure.  If not treated, preeclampsia can cause complications during pregnancy and result in premature birth.

What causes preeclampsia?

We don’t know what causes preeclampsia, but you may be more likely than other women to have preeclampsia if you:

• are pregnant for the first time
• had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy. The earlier in pregnancy you had preeclampsia, the higher your risk is to have it again in another pregnancy.
• have a family history of preeclampsia.
• have high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, a thrombophilia, or lupus.
• are pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets or more).
• had in vitro fertilization (IVF) – a method used to help women get pregnant.
• have poorly controlled asthma.
• are older than 40.
• are obese.

If your provider thinks you’re at high risk of having preeclampsia, he may want to treat you with low-dose aspirin to help prevent it. Talk to your provider to see if treatment with aspirin is right for you.

 

Why can’t I get pregnant?

01
May
Posted by Sara

womann reading HPTOne of the most common questions we get in the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center is about conception. Women want to know when they will get pregnant and why it is taking longer than they thought it would. Often they wonder if something may be wrong and they should seek out a reproductive specialist.

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for 3 to 4 months, don’t panic, and keep trying. The good news is that most couples will conceive on their own, although it may take longer than expected. Nearly 9 out of 10 couples who try to get pregnant do so within one year.

But if you have been trying to get pregnant for over a year or longer than six months if you are over 35, then you may want to talk to your health care provider. Infertility means that the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction is impaired. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 8 couples of childbearing age have difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term.

There are many possible causes of infertility. If your provider does refer you to a specialist, it is important to know that both you and your partner will most likely need to undergo testing. Infertility affects men and women equally. And 25% of infertile couples have more than one factor that contributes to their infertility.

Some lifestyle factors that contribute to infertility are a woman’s weight and whether she or her partner smoke. Women who weigh too much or too little can have difficulty conceiving. Getting to a healthy weight and maintaining it may help to reverse some infertility.

Smoking also reduces fertility for both men and women.  According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), up to 13% of female infertility is caused by cigarette smoking and women who smoke have an increased risk of miscarriage.

The majority of couples (85-90%) who experience infertility can be treated with surgery or medications. Only a small percentage of couples (less than 3%) will need to undergo advanced procedures, such as in vitro fertilization, to conceive.

Insurance coverage for infertility treatments varies from company to company and state to state. Because treatment can be very costly, be sure to learn more about the costs and your insurance coverage while you are still thinking about treatment options.

If you are concerned about your ability to get pregnant, make sure you talk to your provider. She can guide you and help you determine what the next step is for you and your partner.

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Ice cream and listeria

30
Apr
Posted by Ivette

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream® is recalling all of its ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches because the products may have listeria. Listeria is a kind of bacteria that can cause the food poisoning, listeriosis. This recall follows the Blue Bell ice cream recall from a couple weeks ago, also due to listeria.

You can get listeriosis and other kinds of food poisoning from harmful germs in something you eat or drink. Listeriosis can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache. Most healthy people don’t get sick from listeriosis. It mostly affects people with a weak immune system, including pregnant women, newborns, elderly people and people with health conditions, like diabetes or HIV. If you get listeriosis during pregnancy, it can cause serious and even life-threatening health problems for your growing baby.

If you have the recalled ice cream, throw it out. You also can return or exchange the recalled ice cream at the same store where you bought it. Contact Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at (614) 360-3905 or at jenis.com/recall if you have any questions.

For more information about this ice cream recall, visit the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website. Learn more about listeriosis and pregnancy.

When can your baby go home from the hospital?

29
Apr
Posted by Barbara

giving birthIf you just gave birth and are wondering when your baby will be discharged from the hospital, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just released guidelines for health care providers to use to decide when your baby can go home.

Careful consideration is given to the following factors:

  • The mother’s health and readiness to care for her child – Is she healthy? Does she have support at home?
  • The baby’s health – Has the baby successfully had at least two feedings in the hospital (either by breast or bottle)? Is the baby healthy?
  • The car seat – Do the parents have an appropriate one and do they know how to use it properly?
  • Life at home – Is the home safe for a baby? Are there illicit drugs, alcohol, a history of abuse, neglect or domestic violence in the home? Is there a history of mental illness in a parent?
  • Access to care – Does the mother have access to follow-up care for herself and her baby? Does she have transportation? Does she currently use or know of a clinic or doctor’s office where she and her baby can go for care?

The answers to these questions will help providers determine when a baby can be discharged from the hospital. The goal is to ensure that both mother and baby are cared for appropriately so that neither one will have issues that require going back into the hospital. By double checking on mom, baby, and home life ahead of time, the transition to home will be as safe and smooth as possible.

Preemies? Health problems?

Keep in mind that if your baby was born prematurely or with a medical condition, there will be additional considerations to review before your baby will be ready for discharge. Read our article on Leaving the NICU to learn more.

Questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

For posts on how to help your child with a delay or disability, view our Table of Contents.

 

 

Your top STD questions answered

27
Apr
Posted by Lauren

get tested for STDs1. What is an STD?

A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is an infection that you can get from having sex with someone who is infected. About 19 million people get an STD each year in the US. Some common STDs are genital wartsgenital herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hepatitis B.

2. What’s the big deal?

STDs can cause problems if you are trying to get pregnant. If you are already pregnant, STDs can be harmful to you and your baby. Your baby can get infected while passing through the birth canal during labor and delivery. Some STDs can cross the placenta and infect your baby in the womb. Having an STD can complicate your pregnancy and have serious effects on your baby, which may be seen at birth or may not be discovered until months or years later.

3. How do you know if you have an STD?

Many people with an STD don’t know they’re infected because some STDs have no symptoms. If you are not yet pregnant, ask your provider to test you. Most problems during pregnancy and in your developing baby can be prevented be receiving testing and treatment and going to all of your prenatal care appointments.

4. How will an STD affect your unborn baby?

STDs may cause problems during pregnancy, including premature birth,  premature rupture of the membranes (PROM), ectopic pregnancy, birth defectsmiscarriage or stillbirth.

5. How can you protect yourself and your baby?

Whether you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk to your health care provider about getting tested for STDs. If you find out you have an STD, get treatment right away. Receiving treatment can help protect you and your baby during pregnancy and birth.

You can also receive certain vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine, which can help protect against genital warts. You can get the HPV vaccine up until age 26.

The best way to prevent yourself from getting an STD is by not having sex; however if you do, have sex with only one partner who doesn’t have sex with others. Use a condom if you’re not sure if your partner has an STD or ask your partner to get tested and treated for STDs.

How vaccines help

24
Apr
Posted by Sara

get vaccinatedAmong children born between 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes. Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

April 18-25 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW). This is an annual observance to promote the benefits of immunizations and to improve the health of children two years old or younger. Since 1994, local and state health departments, national immunization partners, healthcare professionals, community leaders from across the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have worked together through NIIW to highlight the positive impact of vaccination on the lives of infants and children, and to call attention to immunization achievements.

What you need to know:

• Immunizations save lives. Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two, including whooping cough (pertussis) and measles.

• Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. And another study has just recently reaffirmed that there is no harmful association between children receiving the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) even among children already at higher risk for ASD.

• Babies and children in the U.S. still get vaccine preventable diseases. Why? Newborns are too young to receive vaccines and other people may not be able to get certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. Vaccination helps keep everyone safe by reducing the spread of disease.

Vaccines are usually covered by insurance. But if you or someone you know is unable to afford vaccines for their child, the Vaccines for Children program is available. This is a federally funded program that provides vaccines for children whose parents may not be able to afford them. You can learn more about the VFC program here, or ask your child’s health care provider.

In the first 2 years of life, your baby gets several vaccines to protect her. This schedule shows each vaccine your baby gets up to 6 years.

And if you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, you can learn more about vaccines and pregnancy here.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Stop. Rest. Relax…Repeat.

22
Apr
Posted by Barbara

things to do I am not one who can easily relax. Usually, I need a brick wall in front of me to make me stop (or a cliff will do fine, too). Adrenaline runs through my veins. I am continually creating and updating my to-do lists (or as I call them, my must-do lists) and the I-don’t-have-time-to-relax attitude often overtakes me.

Now, I KNOW, that I need to relax, for the sake of good health and a clear mind. I KNOW I need sleep, a healthy diet and exercise. But, when the list of all that needs to be done is before my eyes, or in my hand, or on my phone, I have a very hard time turning away from it and shutting down my mind. Does this happen to anyone else out there?

As parents, we have the responsibility of providing for our children – financially, physically, emotionally and in every other way that they need. Parents of children with special needs face additional tasks to conquer, from appointments with specialists, to IEP meetings, to figuring out a system with continual twists, turns and dead ends. For pregnant women, stress related hormones may play a role in causing certain pregnancy complications. Unless we purposefully have a method or a way to shut off the engine and refuel it, we risk burn-out and ill health.

But, easier said than done.

A few years ago, I took up yoga, as I knew that it offered health benefits. Among the benefits is a curious thing called “mindfulness.” Now, I am a science geek at heart, so the touchy-feely aspect was not really something I gravitated toward. But, I gave it a try anyway. What is this thing called “mindfulness?”

Well, it is a way to help shut out the noise of everything around you (and even your own busy mind), and just…be. At first I was not able to just sit and “be.” Be what? I am a do-er. Not a be-er. But, I kept going to yoga class thinking that there must be something to this, and to just give it time.

relaxing at workEventually, (after about a year!) I got comfortable and even good at sitting down on my mat, crossing my legs, uttering OOOOOOOMMMMMMM a few times, and becoming “present in the moment.” My yoga instructor would say “you have nowhere to be, nothing to do, but to be here, present.” I would concentrate on my breathing (never did that before!), and work on blocking everything out of my mind (much harder than it sounds).

During class, I give myself permission to put the world on hold for an hour. My must-do list will be there when I am done, and my noisy world will return, but for this one hour I honor myself, I rest my mind, I invigorate my body, and I …..relax. What a concept!

When my son was in first grade, he received a writing assignment; the topic was “my favorite thing to do.” He wrote “My favorite thing to do….is to relax. I like to go home, lie on the couch, put my feet up and just watch a movie.” (His teacher was not too happy, as she expected to hear he liked to play a sport or build a Lego creation, but I found it enlightening.) His favorite thing, was letting go, relaxing….just “be”ing. Hmmmm. Kids GET this.

April is Stress Awareness Month, so, as you rush around, going from appointment to appointment, crossing off items on your must-do list, remember that you can only go so far without re-fueling. The stop-rest-relax portion of your day is as important as the go-go-go part. It does not have to be through yoga, but find something that helps you relax your body AND mind. Then, when you pick up and go again, you will be refreshed and able to handle whatever comes your way. Believe me, if I can do it, you can, too.

So, try this as your new mantra for today:  stop – rest – relax.

And tomorrow?

Repeat.

 

For more posts on how to help your child with a delay or disability, view our Table of Contents.

 

Drive safely, without distractions

20
Apr
Posted by Lauren

Safe drivingMost parents have mastered the ability to multitask. But, an estimated 1 in 4 car crashes involve a cell phone distraction on a handheld cell phone or hands-free device. You may be convinced it is easy to do two or three things while driving, but even when you think you are practicing safety precautions, such as using a hands-free device to talk on the phone, your safety is still at risk.

About 80% of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone, but this is not true, according to The National Safety Council. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are not safer because the brain is still distracted by the phone conversation. Drivers can miss seeing up to half of what’s going on around them, such as traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians. Even hands-free features on your dashboard can still distract you from the road.

Tips to stay safe

• Let it wait. Put your phone on silent and away in your purse, trunk or glove compartment before you start driving.
• If you need to make a phone call, text or read an email on your phone, pull over.
• Set a special ring tone for important incoming calls.
• Preset your navigation system or music playlists before driving.
• Make sure your little one is strapped into his car seat correctly and has what he needs before you settle into the driver’s seat.

Parents have a lot on their minds. By changing a few habits, you can avoid getting distracted while driving and even after you have stopped driving.

To avoid a tragedy of accidentally leaving your child in his car seat when you get out of the car, put your purse or work bag in the back seat next to your child’s car seat or under his feet. Having to go into the back seat will ensure that you see your sleeping baby before you leave your car. It could save your child’s life.

We can’t do it without you

17
Apr
Posted by Sara

Salk newspaperVolunteers have always been an invaluable part of the March of Dimes. From the very earliest days, volunteers have been full partners in the March of Dimes, working to raise funds, heighten awareness and implement critical programs to help support our mission.

In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the nation to help him find a cure for polio by contributing dimes for the cause and sending them directly to the White House. Within weeks, over 80,000 letters with dimes and dollars flooded the White House mailroom to the extent that official correspondence to the President was literally buried in an avalanche of donations, a total of 2,680,000 dimes or $268,000.

With the funds raised through this annual campaign, the March of Dimes financed much of the research that led to the development of the polio vaccine.  The March of Dimes then organized a massive field trial to prove its effectiveness in the largest peacetime mobilization of volunteers in the history of the United States. And 60 years ago, on April 12, 1955 Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was declared “safe, effective and potent.” This was a major milestone in the fight against polio.

Over the next few weeks March for Babies events will take place across the country. Approximately 3 million people will join their family, friends and colleagues in nearly 700 communities. These volunteers will walk to give hope to nearly half a million babies born too soon each year. The money raised supports programs in local communities that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies. And it funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten our babies. We’ve been walking since 1970 and have raised an incredible $2.3 billion to benefit all babies.

This week is National Volunteer Week and we want to take this moment to thank everyone who has contributed to help us achieve our goals. The efforts of our friends and volunteers are what make this organization strong. We are resolved to push even harder for research into the problems that threaten the health of babies.

To all of our volunteers past and present, from polio to prematurity, we offer our most sincere thanks.