Our National Ambassador meets Pres. Obama at the White House – visit highlights Zika

02
Jul
Posted by Barbara

Pres Obama w Nat'l Ambassador IsmaelMarch of Dimes National Ambassador Ismael Torres-Castrodad and his mother Isamari Castrodad, along with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Edward McCabe and Kelly Cook, Chief Marketing Officer of Kmart and mom of preemie triplets, met President Obama in the Oval Office.

The June 30th meeting with the President was warm and welcoming. The discussion highlight was the March of Dimes Zika advocacy and education efforts. The president emphasized how important this issue was to him and that he intends to do his utmost to ensure adequate resources are provided to combat Zika. President Obama discussed with Ismael and his mother the cases of Zika among their friends and acquaintances in Puerto Rico.

The President’s obvious passion and commitment on this issue made such an impression on Kelly Cook that she pledged on the spot to give $250,000 from Kmart to March of Dimes towards our Zika prevention efforts. Thank you Kelly and Kmart!!

After the visit, Ismael, his mother, and Kelly spoke to a reporter from the Washington Post, which resulted in this article on their visit.

The March of Dimes is petitioning lawmakers to fund Zika prevention efforts. You can sign our petition to tell your legislators to #ZAPzika now by committing resources to protect our families from Zika.

Learn about the Zika virus and how ONE mosquito bite may cause devastating birth defects.

Send your Zika questions to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Together, we can #ZAPZika.

 

 

Fireworks safety for the 4th of July

30
Jun
Posted by Sara

fireworks displayAs we head into the 4th of July weekend, many of us are excited to watch the fireworks. But setting off fireworks at home is not safe and in many states, it is not legal. Fireworks can cause burns, foreign objects entering the eye, and other serious injuries. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2013, eight people died and about 11,400 people required medical treatment after fireworks-related injuries.

For this reason, it is best to leave fireworks to the experts. There are many public fireworks displays that you and your family can enjoy. Here are some tips to help everyone have fun:

  • Keep a great distance from any fireworks launch sites. You can watch from an indoor location or your car windows if children become scared.
  • Fireworks displays can be upsetting for babies and for children with sensitive hearing. Learn how you can help your child enjoy a fireworks display without discomfort or a meltdown.
  • Sparklers are lots of fun, but they’re still dangerous for small children. Sparklers can heat up to 1,200 degrees! They should be handled only by adults or older children who know how to use them and understand they should not wave them in people’s faces.  Closely supervise anyone using sparklers. Or you can always use glow sticks as a fun alternative.
  • If you will be handling fireworks for any reason, use extreme caution. Keep children far away from you. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand and take the time to learn about fireworks safety.

With a little knowledge and planning, your whole family can enjoy the celebration. Happy Fourth of July!

Zika and mosquitoes – how to protect yourself

29
Jun
Posted by Sara

Zika mosquitoes infographic MOD

Be sure to check out our article for everything you need to know about the Zika virus and pregnancy. Learn what it is, how it spreads, signs and symptoms, how to avoid it, how it affects pregnant women and babies, and what you can do to be safe.

Questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Where in the world is Zika?

27
Jun
Posted by Lauren

mosquitoYou’ve probably heard a lot about the Zika virus on the news lately; it’s hard to keep track of the facts. Here is your one-stop-shop to find out where the virus is spreading.

Local transmission

Local mosquito-borne Zika virus (also referred to as local transmission) means that mosquitoes in an area are infected with the Zika virus and can transmit it to people.

Here is a complete listing of Zika affected areas with local mosquito-borne zika virus:

Americas:

  • Anguilla
  • Argentina
  • Aruba
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Bonaire
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Curacao
  • Dominica
 

  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Grenada
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Saint Barthélemy
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Martin
  • Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
  • Sint Eustatius
  • Sint Maarten
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Venezuela

Oceania/Pacific Islands

  • American Samoa
  • Fiji
  • Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia
  • Marshall Islands
  • New Caledonia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Tonga

 

Africa

  • Cape Verde

 

Although we have cases of people infected with the Zika virus within the continental U.S., we currently do not have any local transmission cases, meaning that no one in the continental U.S. has gotten the virus from a local mosquito.

Mosquitoes are not the only way the Zika virus can be transmitted. To learn about all the different ways and how to protect yourself visit our website.

 

Updated July 19, 2016.

 

Protect yourself from mosquitoes

24
Jun
Posted by Sara

Zika - bug sprayThe most common way for Zika to spread is through the bite of an infected mosquito. So the best way to protect yourself is to avoid mosquito bites. While Zika is currently not being transmitted in the US, it’s still a good idea to know how to keep you and your family safe.

Use insect repellant

The best way to protect yourself against mosquito bites is to use insect repellant. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a spray or lotion:

  • Use one that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All EPA-registered bug sprays and lotions are checked to make sure they’re safe and effective.
  • Use products that contain:
    • DEET
    • picaridin
    • oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Most repellants are safe to use on babies 2 months and older, but check with your baby’s health care provider.  Do not use oil of lemon eucalyptus on children 3 years or younger.
  • Do not wear insect repellant under clothes.
  • Put on sunscreen first before any bug spray.

If you’ve been in a Zika-affected area, use insect repellant for 3 weeks after you return, even if you do not feel sick. This will help to prevent Zika from spreading to others.

Wear the right clothing

  • Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks. Ankles and necks are especially vulnerable to mosquito bites so make sure they are protected.
  • If hiking or camping, wear permethrin-treated clothes. Do not use permethrin on skin.
  • If you are pregnant or trying to conceive and you work outside, talk to your employer about working inside. If that’s not possible, make sure your clothes protect and cover your skin.

Keep your environment safe

  • Take steps to keep mosquitoes outside and to prevent them from breeding.
  • Remove any standing water.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning.
  • Make sure that screens on doors or windows are intact and do not have any holes.
  • Use mosquito netting across the top of your baby’s stroller or crib to help keep your baby safe from mosquitoes. Keep the netting out of reach of your baby and make sure it doesn’t touch your baby’s face or body.

Learn more about Zika on our website. Questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

The Zika virus may stop brain development causing microcephaly and birth defects

22
Jun
Posted by Barbara

mosquito_3DWhen a woman is pregnant and is infected with the Zika virus, it may cross the placenta and may stop the development of a baby’s brain. Zika infection during pregnancy causes a birth defect called microcephaly as well as other brain problems known as “fetal brain disruption sequence.”

Microcephaly means small (micro) head (cephaly) – a baby’s head is smaller than the heads of babies of the same age and sex. Microcephaly does not always cause serious problems for a baby. But in certain cases, microcephaly can cause lasting consequences, such as intellectual and developmental disabilities. Babies born with microcephaly may have cerebral palsy, poor growth, face deformities, feeding problems, seizures, problems with hearing or vision, and hyperactivity. They may face life-threatening medical conditions. Microcephaly caused by the Zika virus may be severe and is extremely concerning.

There is no cure for microcephaly. Babies with microcephaly will need regular medical check-ups and follow up care. Many will need specialized treatment by doctors such as a neurologist, developmental and behavioral pediatrician, and rehabilitation specialists. Early intervention services for babies and toddlers as well as special education services for children ages 3 and older, may be essential in helping a child develop.

Fetal brain disruption sequence refers to the halting of the development of a baby’s brain as a result of being exposed to the Zika virus. This stop in development can result in a wide variety of health problems for the baby, which can be lifelong.

The Zika virus may also be linked to growth problems in the womb, miscarriage and stillbirth.

Vaccine progress

Currently, there are no FDA-approved vaccines to prevent Zika. But, the FDA (The US Food and Drug Administration) has approved the first Zika vaccine study in human volunteers, ahead of schedule. Clinical trials should begin in the next few weeks. Although this is great news, it could take years before a safe vaccine is available to the public.

How can you stay safe?

The Zika virus is real and dangerous. Until a vaccine is available, learn all you can about how to stay safe.

The March of Dimes maintains up-to-the-minute information and materials for women and families on our website and social media. All of our information is drawn from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and other trusted sources, and available in both English and Spanish. Learn more at:

marchofdimes.org/zika
nacersano.org/zika

Check out our Twitter handle @modhealthtalk for the latest Zika news and Twitter chats.

You can help us spread the word about the Zika virus by passing along our bilingual factsheet which tells you how to protect yourself and others from Zika.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Zika and pregnancy – 3 quick facts

20
Jun
Posted by Sara

Zika pregnancy infographic MOD

Be sure to check out our article for everythying you need to know about the Zika virus and pregnancy. Learn what it is, how it spreads, signs and symptoms, how to avoid it, how it affects pregnant women and babies, and what you can do to be safe.

Questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

A message from one NICU dad to another

18
Jun
Posted by Barbara

Special thanks to Jeff Bradbury, father of triplets born prematurely, for being our Father’s Day guest blogger.

Bradbury Family_rtcrTo All NICU Fathers on this very special day

Congratulations everyone. Happy Father’s Day. It’s still very unusual to say that phrase and remember that I am now included in the very special and very important group of people known as “Dad.” My father’s day like many of yours came early. Three and a half months early to be exact. I was told that my first father’s day would be in February and unexpectedly, it happened in early November. I actually celebrated my first Father’s Day 3 times with the arrival of my wonderful set of Triplets.

For three long months, my babies, otherwise known to the world as the @EduTriplets grew up in not one, but two NICU’s more than three hours apart from each other. If you are a father with one or more precious babies currently in the NICU I have three very important pieces of information for you.

TRUST

Trust in your NICU staff. Trust in your relationships with your family. Trust in your ability to keep your sanity while you are trying not to break out in tears every time the NICU door closes behind you as you leave to go back home. Trust that everything will be ok.

PREPARE

While nothing can fully prepare you for the moment your babies arrive, the fact that your babies arrive much earlier than expected completely throws your schedule off. For three months, both my wife and I had to work full time jobs, and also choose which NICU to visit at night. I remember leaving two of our babies one night and then driving to the local Babies R Us only to load up our brand new van (Triplet Mobile) with over $3,000 worth baby goods. Take the time to process everything while your baby is receiving the care they need by the amazing members of your NICU staff. When the day actually does come when you are allowed to bring your baby home, you won’t have the time to do the things you want to.

BE CREATIVE

I remember being shocked at the fact that my triplets were born in the middle of the second trimester. I remember being overwhelmed because they were not only living in separate hospitals, but separate states. I remember needing to vent but not knowing exactly what to do or where to do it. I decided to vent to my podcasting audience. I decided that when I was completely worn out from the heavy stress of the situation, the only thing I would be able to do is be creative. I know it’s hard to even imagine, but everyone needs to recharge their batteries in times of stress.

This year, I will be celebrating my 3rd Father’s Day. For the first time, my babies will be able to actually say the words “Happy Father’s Day.” I am very much looking forward to hearing it. I wish all fathers out there a very special Happy Father’s Day. You all deserve a gold star this year.Gold star

Jeffrey Bradbury is the father of the @EduTriplets who are now 31 months of age. He is the Coordinator of Technology Integration for Westwood Regional School District in New Jersey and the founder of the TeacherCast Educational Broadcasting Network. Find Jeff on Twitter @JeffBradbury and listen to his fabulous TED Talk! 

A man’s preconception health matters – come chat with us to learn why

15
Jun
Posted by Barbara

You're invited! #PCHchat on June 16Join the conversation on Twitter tomorrow, June 16th to learn why and how a man’s preconception health is important.

Use #PCHchat and join in at 1pm EST.

We’ll be joined by other organizations and professionals for what is sure to be a very lively chat.

Feel free to ask questions. Hope to see you then!

The NICU dad – Superman has nothing on him

15
Jun
Posted by Barbara

This post is dedicated to all dads, in honor of Father’s Day.

kangaroo-care-dadFatherhood is not supposed to start in a NICU.

When the birth of your baby is unexpectedly early or if your child has medical issues, you may find yourself coping with the stress of having your baby in the hospital. The anxiety and fear about your baby’s special health care needs can be overwhelming. Add to that the emotions your partner may be experiencing, coordinating work, NICU visits, and possibly other children, and you have one difficult situation.

But, a NICU dad is strong and resilient.

He spends time in the NICU holding his baby skin to skin (kangaroo care). He sings and talks to his baby.

He asks questions and makes decisions about his baby’s medical care.Parents in NICU w baby R

He is reassuring and comforting to the mother of his child, as she physically and emotionally heals from pregnancy and childbirth, and copes with fluctuating hormones.

A NICU dad runs pumped breastmilk to the freezer, washes bottles and encourages mom to pump if she can.

If there are other children at home, dad becomes the coordinator of the home front. He makes lunches, runs kids to school, helps with homework, and reassures the children that mom will be home soon. Dad takes care of pets, cleans, grocery shops and hopefully delegates tasks to family members and friends to help out.

Through it all, it can be hard for a dad to take care of himself. He needs sleep, good food and breaks to exercise and relax. It’s important that he takes the time to re-fuel so that he can be the best champion for his baby that he can be. Relying on friends and family to help may not come naturally at first, but a NICU dad soon learns that it takes an army to get everything done.

Although becdad-with-preemie2oming a dad in the NICU was not the original plan, every path to fatherhood is unique. It has its own rewards and lessons. March of Dimes recognizes every dad’s efforts and dedication. We know that every dad is making a difference in his baby’s life. Dads are important, appreciated and very much loved!

Do you have a NICU dad you’d like to honor? Please share your story with us.