Diabetes and premature birth: know the facts

10
Nov
Posted by Lauren

speak to your health care providerDid you know that having diabetes during pregnancy is a risk factor for preterm labor and premature birth? Diabetes is a serious health concern, especially when left untreated or undiagnosed. November is prematurity awareness month and we want to make sure you’re aware of the risks diabetes can have on your pregnancy.

About 9 out of 100 women in the U.S. have diabetes – a condition in which your body has too much sugar (called glucose) in the blood. You can develop diabetes at any time in your life.

Some women also develop diabetes during pregnancy, which is called gestational diabetes. Four out of every 100 pregnant women (4 percent) develop this type of diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you give birth. But if you have it in one pregnancy, you’re more likely to have it in your next pregnancy. You’re also more likely to develop diabetes later in life.

Having diabetes or gestational diabetes can cause you to go into preterm labor, before 37 weeks gestation. Babies born this early can face serious health problems including long-term intellectual and developmental disabilities.

How can you find out if you have diabetes?

If you are not pregnant yet, speak with your health care provider about your concerns. He will ask you about your family health history, and evaluate your present health. He can give you a glucose tolerance test and measure your blood glucose levels to see if you have diabetes.

If you are pregnant already, you may get a glucose tolerance test at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, or earlier if your provider thinks you’re likely to develop gestational diabetes. You may have heard of other pregnant women having to drink an 8oz cup of a thick syrupy drink – this is part of the glucose tolerance test, along with measuring your blood glucose levels.

Who is at risk for developing gestational diabetes?

You may be more likely than other women to develop gestational diabetes if:

• You’re 30 years old or older.
• You’re overweight or you gained a lot of weight during pregnancy.
• You have a family history of diabetes. This means that one or more of your family members has diabetes.
• You’re African-American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic or Pacific Islander. These ethnic groups are more likely to have gestational diabetes than other groups.
• You had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
• In your last pregnancy, you gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 1/2 pounds or was stillborn.

What else can you do?

It’s important for you to take care of yourself, but especially if you have diabetes or a risk factor for gestational diabetes. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your health care provider about taking a glucose tolerance test. Getting diabetes under control could help prevent preterm labor and premature birth. Being active, eating healthy foods that are low in sugar and losing weight may help reduce your chances of developing diabetes later in life.

Learn more about managing pre-existing diabetes and gestational diabetes.  And, as always, visit your health care provider before and during pregnancy.

 

What grade did your state receive?

07
Nov
Posted by Sara

2014 report card map

This year we have some great news to report: the national premature birth rate fell to 11.4 percent in 2013 – the lowest in 17 years — meeting the federal Healthy People 2020 goal seven years early. Despite this progress though, the U.S. still received a “C” on the 7th annual March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card because it fell short of the more-challenging 9.6 percent target.

“Achieving the Healthy People 2020 goal is reason for celebration, but the U.S. still has one of the highest rates of preterm birth of any high resource country and we must change that,” said March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse. “We are investing in a network of five prematurity research centers to find solutions to this still too-common, costly, and serious problem.”

The March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card compares each state’s premature birth rate to the March of Dimes goal of 9.6 percent of all live births by 2020. On the 2014 Report Card, 27 states and Puerto Rico saw their premature birth rates improve between 2012 and 2013, earning better grades for five of them: Iowa, Virginia, Arkansas, Nevada and Oklahoma. Five states earned an “A,” including California, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Vermont. Twenty states earned a “B,” 20 states received a “C,” two states and the District of Columbia got a “D,” and only three states and Puerto Rico, received an “F” on the Report Card. Click here to see how your state your did.

The Report Card also tracks states’ progress toward lowering their premature birth rates by following three principle risk reduction strategies:
• 30 states and the District of Columbia reduced the percentage of uninsured women of childbearing age;
• 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico reduced the percentage of women of childbearing age who smoke;
• 30 states and Puerto Rico lowered the late preterm birth rate, babies born between 34 and 36 weeks gestation.

Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face serious and sometimes lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, jaundice, developmental delays, vision loss, and cerebral palsy. Even babies born just a few weeks too soon have higher rates of death and disability than full-term babies.

The March of Dimes is also calling for a nationwide effort to reduce U.S. premature births to 5.5 percent of all live births by 2030.  Seven other developed countries already have premature birth rates below 6 percent, and 15 have rates below 7 percent.  The U.S. rate of 11.4 percent in 2013 is one of the highest.  The U.S. ranked 37th out of 39 high resource countries in 2010.

“The United States spends more money per capita on health care than almost any other country in the world, and yet our premature birth rate and our infant mortality rate are among the highest.” says Dr. Howse.  “The U.S. should aspire to be among the best globally in preterm birth rates and give all our children a healthy beginning.”

Resilience. When struggles can be a good thing.

05
Nov
Posted by Barbara

woman looking at crystal ballWouldn’t you love to have a crystal ball that could show you what your child will be like when he is an adult? Would his disability define him? Would he overcome it to succeed and realize his dreams?

Last week I met several graduates of the school my daughter attended when she was a young girl. This school is specifically for children with diagnosed learning disabilities. Graduates returned to talk to parents of current students about life after school – their struggles and their triumphs. The audience was inspired by their resilience and impressed by what they overcame to be successful. Throughout the years, I have attended many programs like this one, and met countless other graduates. The positive messages that resonated from all of the graduates were that they learned valuable lessons from struggling with learning disabilities. Those lessons served them well, as they learned how to be resilient.

Resilience.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, resilience is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change; the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.” The ability to keep trying to succeed despite repeated failures exemplifies resilience. Getting back up after being knocked down – getting back on that horse – is resilience. The adults at this program told stories of struggles during childhood that brought tears to my eyes, but now their courage, confidence and sense of self was plainly evident. One panelist said he would not trade in his learning disability for anything. It taught him important lessons in his life; it made him stronger.

Resilience.

All the panelists mentioned that they initially did not know how to learn, study, or organize themselves due to their learning disabilities. They gradually acquired strategies and went on to be successful in high school, college and many even went to graduate schools. For example, there was a doctor, real estate developer and investment banker on the panel. They recounted their battles learning to read, write, count, add or divide. Yet when they went to high school and college, they had such good study habits and academic discipline that they did not struggle in ways that their peers did. One panelist recounted how her medical school classmate would “fall apart” when he got a “C” on an exam, while she knew enough to know that that one exam did not define her future; she would just pick up and keep on going.

Resilience.

This was the theme over and over again. Kids with learning disabilities work harder than those without disabilities to reach the same level of achievement. They learn early on that they may fail but if they keep on trying, they will also succeed. Often they need to be creative and use another road to get to their destination. They learn how to shift gears, ask for help, and advocate for themselves. This stick-to-it-ness helps them in all of their challenges or struggles later in life.

Resilience.

If your little one is struggling with disabilities now, know that there are many “success stories” out there. There are countless individuals who have learned to overcome their challenges and figure out a way to reach their potential. Your child may not go through the front door – but the side or back doors may still get him where he wants to be.

And, picking up a little resilience along the way will be the unexpected icing on the cake to help with the future hiccups of life.

 

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also see a Table of Contents of prior posts, here.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Prematurity awareness month: here’s what’s happening

04
Nov
Posted by Lauren

prematurity awareness monthIt’s November, and everyone at March of Dimes is excited because it is Prematurity Awareness Month. We will be very busy getting the word out about the serious problems of preterm birth. There are ways that you can participate in helping us end prematurity.

Take a look at what we have in store:

November 17th is World Prematurity Day

Help raise awareness by wearing purple (the color of prematurity and the March of Dimes).

Twitter chats

Join in the conversation on one or all of the following chats:

November 5th – Chat on premature birth with Mom’s Rising. What is premature birth? Are you at risk? Is it ok to schedule your baby’s birth? What if you had a prior premature birth – will it happen again? What can you  do?  Ask questions and get answers on this chat at 2pm ET. Use #WellnessWed.

November 11th –  Have you or someone you know lost a baby due to prematurity or birth defects? The loss of a child is so unfair. Please join us as we share stories at 8pm ET. Use #losschat.

November 13th – Chat on Early Intervention (EI) services with the CDC, NCBDDD and CPIR. Many preemies are developmentally delayed or have disabilities. In fact, premature birth is the leading cause of lasting childhood disabilities. Early Intervention services can help your child improve. Learn how to access them and get your questions answered at 2pm ET. Use #ActEarlychat.

November 14th  – A 24 hour chat relay is happening all across the globe! The March of Dimes will be chatting about parenting in the NICU at 1pm ET. Join us at that time and tune in any other time during the day for the 24 hour chat relay. Use #worldprematurityday to watch or participate.

November 19th – Chat on Preemies with NICHD. One in 9 babies is born preterm. Learn who is at risk, what you can do to have a healthy baby, and what is being done to help end prematurity. Join us at 2pm ET and use #preemiechat.

November 20th – Chat on all things prematurity with Johnson & Johnson Global Health. Join us at 1pm ET and use #prematuritychat.

News Moms Need blog topics

We will be blogging throughout the month on topics related to prematurity including: NEC, diabetes, new research, “who’s who” in the NICU, and other important topics.

Facebook

“Like” and follow us on Facebook on the World Prematurity Day page and on the March of Dimes page.

These are just a few of the events we have on our calendar. Check back throughout the month for the most up-to-date prematurity news and information. We hope you join us and tell all your friends! With your help, we will get closer to achieving our mission of ending prematurity.

 

Halloween safety

31
Oct
Posted by Sara

Happy HalloweenToday is Halloween and the little ghosts and goblins in my house woke up excited and ready for trick-or-treating. Everyone wants Halloween to be fun but it should also be safe. Here are some great tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

Costumes:
• Try to buy light-colored costumes. Make sure they fit appropriately and are not too long so your little one does not trip. Also, make sure young children choose appropriate shoes—no high heels!
• Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags so that drivers can see children more easily.
• Masks can interfere with vision. Instead try using make-up. Make sure hats or wigs do not drop below the line of sight. Also, do not allow children to wear decorative contact lenses. These can be very dangerous. Contact lenses should only be worn with a doctor’s prescription.
• Make sure all costumes and any accessories are flame resistant.
• Swords should not be too sharp or too long.
• Have flashlights for everyone.

Trick-or-treating:
• Young children should never go trick-or-treating by themselves. Make sure a parent or other adult accompanies them.
• Children should make sure they only go to houses with porch lights that are on and they should never go inside a house or car for a treat.
• On Halloween children are most often injured while they are out walking. To keep them safe, make sure they:
o Stay in a group at all times. Someone should have a cell phone in case of emergencies.
o Make sure costumes and trick-or-treat bags are visible (use reflective tape or carry glow sticks and flashlights).
o Use sidewalks if available and stay on streets that are well-lit.
o Never cut across yards or use alleys.
o Never cross the street between parked cars or dart out of driveways.
o People driving may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Make sure you stop and wait for all cars to pass.

Healthy ideas:
• Try getting your little ones to eat a healthy meal before they start trick-or-treating. This will help them avoid the urge to devour all their candy right away.
• You may want to have non-food items at your house for children with food allergies and sensitivities—or just as a fun alternative.
• It is best to wait until you are home to go through all of the candy. Throw away anything that appears expired or dangerous.
• Save some treats for later! And you may want to consider giving some away. Some dentist offices have Halloween candy buy-back programs. My children’s dentist is offering $3 per pound!

Make sure to go to AAP’s website for a lot more helpful information about making Halloween safe and fun for the whole family.

The special language of special needs

29
Oct
Posted by Barbara

kayak without a paddleIf you have a child with special needs, you have no doubt heard tons of words, initials or acronyms that you did not understand. You may have had to stop and ask for clarification or a definition. Or, even worse, you did not ask and were lost as the conversation zoomed on and you kept trying to make sense of it all.

The world of special needs, including delays, disabilities, early intervention and special education, has its own language. The sooner you familiarize yourself with the many acronyms, the easier it will be to navigate your child’s world and be an effective advocate. Without this info, it is like being in a boat (or a kayak) without a paddle.

Just to drive my point home, here is an analogy. Would you ever take an upper level language class without first taking the introductory course? Would you take Algebra II without first taking basic math? Would you take your driver’s test without looking at the manual first? You’d be lost (or at least I would be), and nothing would make sense to you. This is why you need to get the basics down, especially before you go into meetings that pertain to your baby or child’s intervention services.

Help is here

Here is my blog post with tons of acronyms to use as a cheat sheet. It is appropriately called Learning the Lingo.

Next, you can find many more on the CPIR website, where the NICHCY materials have migrated. Their Alphabet Soup has an exhaustive list of words with their meanings.

Lastly, Words and terms – a whole new world breaks out the terms pertaining to early intervention and then for special education.

So check them out, click on the highlighted terms to learn more, and print out the acronym sheet for your reference. You’ll be glad to have this info in one tidy place. Then, when the conversations turn to IFSPs or LREs, you will know exactly what everyone is talking about. Soon, you’ll be paddling upstream with confidence!

 

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also see a Table of Contents of prior posts, here.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Celebrating Jonas Salk, MD

27
Oct
Posted by Lauren

Jonas SalkTomorrow is Jonas Salk’s 100th birthday. Salk’s eldest son Peter Salk, MD, recently came to the March of Dimes National Office to speak about his father and The Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation. It was touching to hear the history and personal stories about Salk.

Peter recounted how his father had initially thought he would become a lawyer or congressman. But college chemistry set him in a new direction. While attending NYU Medical School, a microbiology class inspired him to begin his quest in vaccine research. Before long, he became one of the most famous researchers of the 20th century.

Jonas Salk, MD. was intrigued by the idea of creating a vaccine from inactivated versions of a virus. He first worked on an inactivated flu vaccine but he is most remembered for his pioneering work in creating a polio vaccine in the midst of the polio epidemic.

Basil O’Connor, President of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (now known as the March of Dimes) was intrigued by Salk’s research and decided to fund Salk’s efforts to develop the vaccine against infantile paralysis, also known as polio. In 1955, it was announced that the Salk vaccine was safe and effective against this disabling, sometimes fatal infection. Salk’s vaccine rapidly reduced polio infections by 97%. With the help of the Salk vaccine and later the Sabin oral vaccine, both developed with March of Dimes funding, polio infections have been eliminated from the United States for nearly 3 decades. Polio still occurs, however, in some developing countries.

Salk vaccineIn addition to being a preeminent physician and researcher, Salk had a philosophical side. One question Salk would ask is “Are we being good ancestors?”  It was the foundation on which he based his life, and his unending quest to help improve mankind. Peter ended the presentation with one of Jonas’ quotes: “Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” Jonas believed each person was responsible for making a difference in the world. By eradicating polio in the United States, Jonas Salk fulfilled his own dream.

You can learn more about Jonas Salk’s life and contributions by watching this historical footage reel.

The March of Dimes remembers, honors and celebrates Jonas Salk’s accomplishments as we continue our mission to improve the health of babies.

Safe sleep for babies

24
Oct
Posted by Sara

cropped sleeping babySafe sleep can help protect babies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related dangers, like suffocation (not being able to breathe). Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day, so it’s important to make sure that where and how they sleep are safe.

Here are some things you can do to help keep your baby safe when she sleeps:

Where to put your baby to sleep
• Put your baby to sleep on her back on a flat, firm surface—a crib is best. Use only the mattress made for your baby’s crib. The mattress should fit snugly in the crib so there are no spaces between the mattress and the crib frame.
• Keep crib bumpers, loose bedding, toys and other soft objects out of your baby’s crib. They put babies in danger of getting trapped, strangled or suffocating. This is important even as your baby gets older. A study recently published in Pediatrics showed that “rolling to prone [stomach], with objects in the sleep area, is the predominant risk factor for older infants.”
• Share your bedroom with your baby but not your bed. Co-sleeping means that babies and parents sleep together in the same bed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that babies should not co-sleep with their parents and studies have shown that bed-sharing is the biggest risk factor for SIDS in children under four months. Instead, put your baby to bed in her own crib and keep it close to your bed during the night. This will allow you keep an eye on your baby and to breastfeed her easily.
• Don’t put your baby to sleep on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress or other soft surface. “Of nearly 8,000 infant sleeping deaths in the United States, researchers found that about 12 percent were sofa-related. And nearly three-quarters of those infants were newborns.”

How to put your baby to sleep
• Put your baby to sleep on her back every time, until she’s 1 year old. It’s not safe for babies to sleep on their side or tummy. Most babies will roll over both ways by the end of the 7th month; but start them out on their backs.
• Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. Keep the room at a temperature that’s comfortable for you. If your baby is sweating or her chest feels hot, she may be overheated.
• Give your baby a pacifier for naps and at bedtime. Pacifiers may help protect against SIDS. Don’t hang the pacifier around your baby’s neck or attach the pacifier to your baby’s clothing or a stuffed animal.
• Don’t use products, such as special mattresses or wedges, that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. There is no evidence that they do.

Mom and baby care
• Feed your baby only breast milk for at least 6 months. Continue breastfeeding your baby until at least her first birthday.
• Don’t smoke and don’t let anyone smoke in your home or around your baby.
• Take your baby to all her well baby visits and make sure she gets her vaccinations on time.
• Give your baby tummy time every day. Tummy time helps your baby develop her neck, shoulder and arm muscles.

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

Halloween ideas for kids with food allergies or sensory challenges

22
Oct
Posted by Barbara

pumpkinWhen you hear the word “Halloween” do you think of candy? Chocolate? Fun costumes? For children with food allergies or sensory issues, Halloween can be a frustrating evening. The thrill of getting treats can quickly become a letdown if there is nothing that your child can eat. And, the thought of wearing a costume may be the last thing your sensory special child will want to do.

Non-foods gain in popularity

Years ago, in my neighborhood, we knew of a child on our street who had food allergies. As a result, some moms decided to have an assortment of other acceptable treats to give out, so that the child with food allergies could enjoy Halloween, too.

We offered the kids non-chocolate choices, such as bags of pretzels, crackers and pops. But, surprisingly, the most popular alternatives were non-food items. Crayons, tiny notepads, little cars, plastic jewelry, glow stick necklaces, stickers, and other inexpensive but fun playthings soon became an equally desired treat for many children. I was surprised to see kids who did not have food allergies choosing stickers instead of a chocolate treat. Their eyes lit up when they saw my bucket filled with non-candy gifts. The best part is that you can get most of these items at dollar stores or discount centers, so offering alternatives won’t be a costly venture. Just be careful that you do not get tiny toys, as they can be a choking hazard to small children.

My colleague here at the March of Dimes said that the “best” house for trick or treating in her neighborhood was the one where they gave out quarters instead of candy. She and her friends loved it, as they could buy whatever treat they wanted. (But again, be careful you don’t give coins to young children as they are liable to put them in their mouths.)

When you stop to think, it makes perfect sense to widen the net of Halloween treats. Food allergies are becoming more common, so offering non-food treats is a perfect way to keep Halloween safe and yet be tons of fun. Why not think about offering non-candy treats this year and start a whole new tradition? But watch out – you may well end up being the most popular house on the block for trick or treaters!

Can’t wear a costume?

Little Red Riding HoodIf your child has sensory issues and can’t fathom the idea of putting on a costume, don’t fret. Just yesterday, a little 2 year old in my neighborhood toddled by my front steps as I was sitting there enjoying the sunshine. Her mom told me that she is sad because her daughter refuses to even try on a costume. I suggested she create a “costume” out of her regular clothes. For instance, if she has a red dress or a red hoodie, she can carry a little basket and be Little Red Riding Hood. (True confessions – I did this for my daughter when she was about that age!) Here are more ideas on how to prepare your child with sensory challenges for Halloween.  Also, you can ask your child’s Occupational Therapist for specific ideas that can make him comfortable.

Just remember, the most important thing is that your child is comfortable and safe, and has fun on Halloween.

What tricks have you tried to help your little one have fun on Halloween? Please share.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also see a Table of Contents of prior posts, here.

If you have comments or questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We welcome your input!

Did you get your pertussis vaccine?

20
Oct
Posted by Lauren

Pertussis VaccinePertussis, also referred to as whooping cough, is a respiratory infection that is easily spread and very dangerous for a baby. Pertussis can cause severe and uncontrollable coughing and trouble breathing. Pertussis can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age. And, about half of those babies who get whooping cough are hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 17,325 cases of pertussis from January 1-August 16, 2014, which represents a 30% increase compared to this time period in 2013. The best way to protect your baby and yourself against pertussis is to get vaccinated.

If you are pregnant:

Pregnant women should get the pertussis vaccine. The vaccine is safe to get before, during or after pregnancy, but works best if you get it during your pregnancy to better protect your baby once he is born. Your body creates protective antibodies and passes some of them to your baby before birth, which provides short term protection after your baby is born.  Your baby won’t get the first of the 3 infant vaccinations until he is 2 months old, so your vaccination during pregnancy helps to protect him until he receives his vaccines. The pertussis vaccine is part of the Tdap vaccine (which also includes tetanus and diphtheria).

The CDC recommends women get the Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy. The best time to get the shot is between your 27th through 36th week of pregnancy.

The vaccine is also recommended for caregivers, close friends and relatives who spend time with your baby.

Click here for more information or speak with your prenatal health care provider.

Bottom line
Get vaccinated for pertussis  – it may save your baby’s life.