Happy Holidays from the March of Dimes

23
Dec
Posted by Barbara

Bing Crosby and Danny KayeDanny Kaye, Bing Crosby, “White Christmas” and…March of Dimes?  Read this post written by our archivist a couple of years ago, as we continue to give every baby a fighting chance for a healthy life. Happy Holidays everyone!

The March of Dimes has been helping families by focusing on improving the health of babies and children for 75 years.  We all aspire to provide the best care and comfort for our children.

Over half a century ago, when paralytic polio threatened our children, Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby projected a similar message to pitch for the March of Dimes. The photo above, with March of Dimes poster boy Delbert Dains, was taken on the stage set for the movie White Christmas, released in 1954. The song “White Christmas,” by Irving Berlin and which Crosby first popularized in 1942, remains the best-selling single of all time. That Bing Crosby was one of the three “ultra icons” of pop music (the others are Elvis Presley and the Beatles) is undoubtedly lost to most people today, but a person viewing this photo in 1954 might recognize a familiar set of associations typical of that era: a child disabled by contagious disease, the most popular singer of the age, and the nostalgic pull of the meaning of Christmas and the emotional security of home.

The March of Dimes message has evolved, just as our mission has evolved. Our fervent wish for “a fighting chance for every baby” is the bedrock from which all of our educational programs and scientific research are launched. From that perspective, and in the spirit of the season, we hope all the readers of News Moms Need will find that special place in the coming weeks “where tree tops glisten, and children listen…”

Happy Holidays from the March of Dimes.

Holiday cocktails and spirits

21
Dec
Posted by Lauren

Holiday mocktailTis the season for yummy eats and alcoholic drinks. I was at a holiday party this past weekend and as wine was being passed around I noticed my friend was opening her own bottle. “What’s that?” I asked. And she replied “sparkling cider! I’m pregnant, so I’m not drinking alcohol” and we both poured some into our wine glasses, and enjoyed the night with our non-alcoholic beverages.

If you are pregnant, you know you need to stay away from alcohol, but that doesn’t mean you need to miss the party. Don’t be afraid to bring your own cooler of drinks with you – your friends may be asking to have some of yours.

Not sure what to bring? Here is an idea that is festive and works with almost any of your favorite fruits:

  • Select a festive glass, such as a flute champagne or martini glass.
  • Choose your favorite garnish – lemon, lime, mint leaves, cherries, diced apples or oranges.
  • Add seltzer or club soda along with your favorite fruit juice.

For a really fun treat, freeze cranberry, orange or pomegranate juice in ice cube trays and add to your drink. Voila!

Looking for more ideas? Check out our alcohol free bodacious beverages!

Antidepressant use and the risk of ASD

18
Dec
Posted by Sara

medication bottlesA new study suggests that the use of antidepressants during pregnancy, specifically in the second and third trimesters, may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children.

While these findings help to add to our understanding of autism, it is important to recognize that this study does not prove that antidepressant use causes autism. It is difficult to determine whether the increased risk of ASD is the result of antidepressants or the result of the underlying depression.

Researchers looked at data from more than 145,000 births between 1998-2009. They found that when mothers took antidepressants during the second and third trimesters, the chance that the child would develop ASD was higher when compared to children whose mothers did not take antidepressants. Keep in mind that the overall risk of having a child with autism is 1%. This study suggests that the risk increases to 1.87% if a woman is taking certain antidepressants.

The increase was seen with a specific type of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medicines and include medications like citalopram (Celexa®), escitalopram (Lexapro®), fluoxetine (Prozac®), paroxetine (Paxil®) and sertraline (Zoloft®).

There are a number of causes of ASD but we don’t know all of them. More research is needed. However, there are some factors that we know increase the chance of ASD:

  • Having pregnancy complications. Some research shows that there may be a link between ASD and pregnancy complications that lead to low birthweight, premature birth or cesarean birth.
  • Taking certain prescription medicines, like valproic acid or thalidomide, during pregnancy. Taking these medicines during pregnancy has been linked with a higher risk of having a child with ASD.
  • Having an older parent. Babies born to older parents are more likely to have ASD.
  • Having genes linked to ASD. Researchers are studying a number of genes that may be linked to ASD. Children who have a brother or sister with ASD are more likely to have ASD themselves.
  • Having a genetic or chromosomal condition. ASD happens more often in children who also have certain genetic or chromosomal conditions, like fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis.

Important:  If you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant and are taking antidepressants, you should not stop taking them until you talk to your health care provider. Together you can look at the possible risks of these drugs on your baby as well as the risk of having your depression come back if you stop taking your medicine. Learn as much as you can about the medicines so you can make the best choice for you and your baby.

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

Pregnant? Have young kids? Learn how to stay safe during the holidays

16
Dec
Posted by Barbara

Holiday babyWith a little planning and a few tips, your holidays can be healthy, safe and bright.

Fireplaces

Roaring fires in your fireplace are a beautiful sight in the winter, especially during the holiday season. But, it is essential to take simple steps to ensure your home is safe.

Keep your fireplace curtains or door closed when the fire is lit and be sure the damper is open. After the fire dies down, wait until the ashes are completely cold before disposing them. It is best to place the ashes in a metal trash can to ensure that a smoldering ember does not cause another fire. Have you had your fireplace flue cleaned recently? If not, consider having it done, to help prevent smoking.

Live Christmas trees

Christmas trees are beautiful and fragrant, but should be kept far away from your fireplace or any burning candles. Be sure all electrical connections are in perfect working order, and water your tree daily so that it does not dry out and become tinder.

If you have asthma, or anyone in your family has allergies or breathing problems, a live tree may cause irritation to the airways. Check with your health care provider to see if a live tree will cause any difficulty. If so, an artificial tree is a great alternative.

Candles

No one loves the sight of flickering candles more than I do, but the risk of a candle tipping over and causing a fire is real. Since I switched to battery operated candles, I no longer worry about accidents. They look so realistic and create the same effect. Do yourself a favor and take one more worry off your mind by using battery operated candles, especially if you have curious toddlers or children at home.

In addition, sometimes scented candles cause allergic reactions in people with breathing problems. Look for unscented versions or use battery operated candles.

Got any tips for this holiday season? We’d love to hear them.

 

You’re pregnant, can you drink eggnog?

14
Dec
Posted by Lauren

eggnogThe answer is yes and no. It depends. Here’s the scoop:

Store-bought eggnog

Traditionally, eggnog was made with raw eggs, which is not good for pregnant women due to the health concerns of salmonella. Salmonella causes salmonellosis, a kind of food poisoning that can be dangerous during pregnancy . However, currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restricts the use of raw eggs to less than 1% in products.

  • If you’re buying eggnog at the store, be sure to check the ingredient label to ensure it is egg-free or contains less than 1% egg product.
  • Also it is important that your eggnog be pasteurized. Pasteurization is a heat process that destroys salmonella that might be in eggs.

Homemade eggnog

Many families make a batch of home-made (and alcohol-free!) eggnog as part of their holiday traditions, but homemade eggnog causes many cases of salmonella each year due to raw or undercooked eggs. If you’re going to make your own eggnog, here are some tips:

  • Use egg substitute products or pasteurized eggs.
  • If you are using pasteurized eggs, the FDA recommends starting with a cooked egg base to ensure your safety.
    • To make a cooked egg base, combine eggs and half the milk as indicated in the recipe. (Other ingredients, such as sugar may be added at this step.) Cook the mixture gently to a temperature of 160°F, stirring constantly. The cooking will destroy Salmonella, if present. At this temperature, the mixture will firmly coat a metal spoon. After cooking, chill the mixture before adding the rest of the milk and other ingredients.

You can keep your eggnog holiday traditions, but remember to read all the labels on eggnog containers or carefully prepare your homemade eggnog.

E-cigarettes and pregnancy

11
Dec
Posted by Sara

E-cigarettes from CDCElectronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes) look like regular cigarettes. But instead of lighting them, they run on batteries. They create a mist that you inhale, and they contain nicotine in a liquid form.

Are e-cigarettes safe to use during pregnancy?

We know that:

  • No amount of nicotine has been proven safe in pregnancy.
  • No studies have been done on the safety of e-cigarettes in pregnant women or on whether they help pregnant women stop smoking.
  • Use of other nicotine-containing products during pregnancy, such as smokeless tobacco, is associated with lower birth weight, increased stillbirth rates, and premature birth.

Liquid nicotine poisoning

Liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes is sold in small tubes that may be bright and colorful. They may have flavors, like cherry or bubble gum. All of these things may make them seem fun and appealing, especially to children. Liquid nicotine has powerful toxins and a small amount may be very harmful, even deadly. It can cause nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), vomiting, and eye irritation.

There have been many reports of people, especially children, being poisoned from coming into contact with liquid nicotine, either by accidentally drinking it or by spilling it and absorbing it through the skin. According to the CDC, e-cigarette exposure calls to poison centers increased from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014, and over half of those calls were regarding children ages 5 and under.

Regulation and research

E-cigarettes are not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), although this may change soon.

More research is needed to better understand the effects of e-cigarettes on women during pregnancy and their children. If you’re pregnant and using e-cigarettes or thinking about using e-cigarettes, talk to your provider.

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

A flu shot during pregnancy can protect you and your baby

10
Dec
Posted by Barbara

CDC- pregnant women and flu vaccineIn recognition of CDC’s National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), March of Dimes is participating in a blog relay with a “Focus on the Family” theme for NIVW. Each day, one of CDC’s Digital Ambassadors will leverage the holiday season to encourage their readers to focus on protecting the family. You can follow the NIVW conversation on Twitter using hashtag #NIVW2015.

Did you know that getting the flu shot during pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby?

The flu is a serious disease – it can be harmful, especially to pregnant women. Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely than women who don’t get it to have problems such as preterm labor and premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Fever caused by flu early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects and other problems in your baby.

When you are pregnant, your body lowers its defenses to germs. This happens so that your body accepts your growing baby. However, with a lowered immune system, you become more likely to get sick from viruses like the flu.

What should you do?

If you are pregnant, get a flu shot (not the flu mist). CDC says it’s safe to get during any stage of pregnancy. A flu shot protects you and your baby from serious health problems during and AFTER pregnancy.

How will it help your baby?

Getting the flu shot during pregnancy helps to protect your baby from flu even after he is born. As a mother, you pass on your immunity to your baby. Some studies have shown that vaccinating a pregnant woman can give her baby antibodies to protect against flu for six months after birth. This means that your baby is protected until he is old enough to receive his own vaccination, at 6 months of age.

Watch this video to learn about flu symptoms and how pregnant women can stay healthy.  If you have questions, talk to your prenatal health care provider or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Remember: CDC says an annual flu vaccination is the best protection against flu. Get your flu vaccine and encourage others to do the same by sharing your flu vaccination selfies on social media using the #VaxWithMe hashtag! Be sure to stop by the other NIVW relay participants’ blogs to learn about the benefits of flu vaccination– tomorrow’s post will be hosted by A Place for Mom and Healtheo360.

Holidays & your child with special needs- tips for the NICU, visiting Santa, dinners & traveling

09
Dec
Posted by Barbara

Parents in NICUFrom spending holidays in the NICU, finding developmentally appropriate toys, eating at Grandma’s house (without a meltdown!), to visiting Santa in a loud, bright mall, the holidays can be oh so hard for a child with special needs. Here is a walk down blog post memory lane to help you get through the next few weeks and even have some fun.

We wish you a stress-free, calm, smooth holiday season. If you have any tips that have worked for you, please share them! You can find more posts on parenting a child with special needs, here.

Questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

The holidays are here…

07
Dec
Posted by Lauren

pregnant woman in bedBesides the usual stress of pregnancy and getting ready for your baby, the holidays often add more pressure, which can take a toll on your health. Feeling stressed is common during pregnancy, but too much can make you have trouble sleeping, have headaches or lose your appetite. High levels of stress that continue for a long time may cause health problems like high blood pressure, which can increase the chances of having a premature baby.

December is a very busy time: there are friends and families to see, holiday gatherings to attend, meals to cook, and gifts to buy. So much to do! During this time, remember to take care of yourself: breathe deeply, relax and concentrate on your pregnancy.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep moving. Exercise can help reduce your stress and prevent pregnancy discomforts. If you are shopping for gifts, walk an extra loop around the mall before you head out to your car. Park further away in the parking lot (this way you can also avoid some of the traffic of shoppers trying to park close to the mall entrance).
  • Holidays are a time for delicious desserts and heavy meals. Before you sit down and indulge in your family dinner, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch earlier in the day.
  • Extra sleep is important during this time, but taking breaks is just as important. If you have some free time between wrapping gifts, put your feet up, read a book or magazine, or watch a favorite TV show. Even just a 15 minute break can help you relax before your next task.
  • Ask for help. Holidays are a time of giving, but also receiving. Accept help when a friend or family member offers and ask for help when you are feeling tired or overwhelmed.
  • Cut back on activities you don’t need to do. Instead of spending time making a holiday dessert, why not have your favorite bakery do it for you?

Holidays can be stressful, but remember to take time for yourself.

Have questions? Email AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Can you turn a breech baby?

04
Dec
Posted by Sara

DoctorPregnant_zps3ac96800You may have heard recently about a technique that can be used to “flip” a breech baby. This procedure is called external cephalic version (ECV) and is done by your prenatal care provider.

When is a baby breech?

As your due date approaches, your baby usually moves into a head down position. During a vaginal delivery, this means that the baby’s head comes out first. But in about 3-4% of full-term births, the baby doesn’t move into a head-down position. This is called a “breech presentation.” A breech baby can be positioned so that the baby’s bottom, feet, or both are facing down.

What is ECV?

Since it is best for your baby to be in a head down position for a vaginal delivery, if the baby is breech, a C-section may be medically indicated. To improve your chances of giving birth vaginally, your provider may decide to perform an external cephalic version. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) “external cephalic version (ECV) is an attempt to turn the baby so that he or she is head down.”

Your health care provider may attempt an ECV when you are between 36-38 weeks of pregnancy. He or she will apply firm pressure on the outside of your belly to try to get the baby to roll into a head-down position. Two people may be needed to do this and ultrasound may be used to help guide the turning.

When is ECV not safe?

An ECV will not be attempted if:

  • You are pregnant with more than one baby
  • There are concerns about the health of the baby
  • You have certain uterine or cervical problems
  • The placenta is in the wrong place or has detached from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption)

Can complications occur with ECV?

ECV typically takes place in the hospital in case complications arise.  The baby’s heart rate will be monitored both before and after the procedure.  Some problems that may occur with an ECV include:

ACOG states that over 50% of all ECV attempts are successful. However sometimes the baby moves back into a breech position. While ECV can be tried again, it gets more difficult as the baby gets bigger.

If your baby is in a breech position, talk to your health care provider. You can discuss if you are a candidate for ECV as well as what delivery options may be best for you.

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