The lowdown on insect repellants

13
Jul
Posted by Barbara

Zika - bug sprayProtecting yourself from mosquito bites is key in avoiding exposure to the Zika virus. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Use an insect repellant (bug spray or lotion) that is EPA registered.
  • Products containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol and IR3535, are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • If you use a product containing DEET, make sure it has at least 20% DEET, and always follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Most bug sprays and lotions are safe to use on babies 2 months and older. However, DO NOT USE PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN OIL OF LEMON EUCALPTUS OR PARA-MENTHANE-DIOL ON CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 3 YEARS OF AGE.
  • Do not put bug spray or lotion on under clothing.
  • If you are using sunscreen, too, put it on first, before you use bug spray or lotion.

If you have recently traveled to a Zika-affected area, use bug spray or lotion for 3 weeks after you get back. This way, if you are bitten by a mosquito, it will not become infected with the Zika virus and spread it to other people.

Learn ways to #ZAPzika in our article: how to stay safe, how it can affect a baby during pregnancy, and what to do if you think you may have been exposed.

Have questions?  Send them to our health education specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Speak up — Tell Congress no vacation until they pass Zika funding!

11
Jul
Posted by Barbara

CongressToday, we welcome guest blogger Cynthia Pellegrini, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs at the March of Dimes. She has worked in Congress and advocacy organizations for 23 years.

 

I’ve been working in and with the U.S. Congress for over 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.

Everyone in Congress recognizes the threat posed by the Zika virus. No one wants to see babies born with microcephaly – cases of small, underdeveloped heads and brains – or other birth defects. There is broad consensus that Zika is a real issue and must be addressed head-on.

And yet, Congress has managed to entangled itself in partisan politics so thoroughly that they are about to leave until after Labor Day without doing anything at all on Zika virus.

Back in February, the President sent a request to Congress for emergency funding to combat Zika. It’s not unusual for emergency funding to be requested when a major issue comes up unexpectedly in the middle of a fiscal year. Emergency funding is needed because all the other government funds are already allocated to other purposes, and there’s limited flexibility to move those funds around.

But this time, Congress reacted slowly. Over six weeks passed without any activity at all. Even once Congress did start to work on Zika virus, movement was slow and difficult. The House and Senate passed very different versions of a Zika package, and then had to spend weeks working out the differences. Memorial Day came and went, and the July Fourth.

Now there are only 4 days remaining before the scheduled Congressional recess and the political conventions. And there’s no sign of any break in the stalemate.

Please sign this petition and tell Congress that there’s nothing more important than the health of pregnant women and babies.

No pregnant women should have to worry every day that a single mosquito bite may change her child’s life forever. Congress shouldn’t leave for the summer until they have done their sworn duty to protect the American people. It’s wrong, it shouldn’t be tolerated and we need everyone – including you and all your friends! — to join together to tell them so.

Twitter chat with the White House & CDC about the Zika virus

11
Jul
Posted by Barbara

White HouseCDC_logo_electronic_color_name

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at noon EST, we will chat about the Zika virus with Amy Pope, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President at the National Security Council and Anne Schuchat, MD, Principal Deputy Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This is the time to tune in and ask your questions.

Are you wondering…

  • What are the symptoms of the Zika virus? How is it spread?
  • Can a mosquito really cause birth defects in babies?
  • Should you travel to a specific region? Where is Zika spreading?
  • What kind of mosquito protection is effective?
  • If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, what do you need to know? How can you protect yourself and your baby?

These are topics that will be discussed on the chat. Plus, you can submit your own questions, too. Just use #ZAPzika to join the conversation.

#ZAPzika meme 7-13-16

We hope to see you on the chat this Wednesday!

If you’ve got questions, send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

This year, get your child a flu shot, not the nasal mist

08
Jul
Posted by Sara

pediatrician and babyWhile many parents (and kids) prefer the nasal mist flu vaccine, evidence shows that the flu shot is the best way to protect your child from the flu this year.

Why should my child get the flu shot instead of the nasal mist?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is a panel of experts that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They looked at data from 2013 through 2016 and found that the nasal spray was less effective than the flu shot.

The flu nasal spray contains a live but weakened version of the flu virus. Typically, vaccines containing weakened viruses are more effective and cause a stronger immune response than vaccines with dead viruses (such as the flu shot). Initial data suggested that this was the case with the nasal spray. In 2014, the ACIP actually recommended the nasal spray over the flu shot for children.

However, during the 2015-2016 flu season, the nasal flu vaccine’s protection rate was only 3 percent. This means that no protective benefit could be measured. Its effectiveness in the previous two flu seasons was also low. In contrast, the flu shot was 63 percent effective among children aged 2 to 17 during the 2015-2016 flu season.

Get vaccinated against the flu every year

There are many different flu viruses, and they’re always changing. Each year a new flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses expected to make people sick during the upcoming flu season. Protection from the vaccine only lasts about a year, so it’s important to get vaccinated every year.

While many parents (and kids) prefer the nasal mist, evidence shows that the flu shot is the best way to protect your child from the flu this year. The traditional flu shot is effective. Both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that everyone older than 6 months get the flu vaccine each year. It’s especially important for children younger than 5 to get the vaccine because they’re more likely to have serious health problems caused by the flu.

The flu shot is important for pregnant women too

Pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant also need their flu shot every year (the flu nasal spray was never recommended for use during pregnancy). If you get sick with the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications. The best way to protect yourself is to get the flu shot each year before flu season, which runs from about October through May. Even though you’re more likely to get the flu during flu season, you can get it any time of year.

The ACIP recommendation must be reviewed and approved by the CDC director before it becomes policy.

Questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

How mosquitoes spread the Zika virus

06
Jul
Posted by Barbara

Aedes aegypti mosquitoThe most common way the Zika virus spreads is through mosquito bites. Here are important facts to know about mosquitoes and Zika:

• The mosquitoes that spread Zika are called Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes live for about 2 to 3 weeks, indoors or outside.

• They’re called day biters because they bite most often during the day, but they also bite at night.

• These mosquitoes become infected with Zika when they bite someone who has the virus during the first week of infection.

• Three to five days after biting someone, the female lays her eggs. Mosquitoes from these eggs aren’t infected with Zika – they have to bite an infected person to become a Zika carrier.

These mosquitoes can lay their eggs in a bottle cap full of water! This is why getting rid of standing water in pet dishes, flower pots, bowls, bird baths, and other places is very important.

• The Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus live in various parts of the United States. Here is a map from the CDC of the best estimate of where these mosquitoes are or have been previously found.

Recently, there have been cases of local transmission of Zika in Florida.It is expected that mosquitoes may bite infected individuals and then spread the virus. If a pregnant woman gets Zika, she can pass it to her baby.

Zika infection during pregnancy causes a birth defect called microcephaly, which has been linked to developmental delay, intellectual disabilities, seizures and other problems.

Zika infection during pregnancy also may be linked to:

• Miscarriage

• Stillbirth

• Other birth defects, including hearing loss and problems with the eyes

• Other severe brain defects.

Even among pregnant women with no symptoms of the virus, if they test positive for Zika, their babies may be harmed.

Bottom line

We don’t know the full impact of this virus on the long term development of babies and children.

We’re urging everyone to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Go to our websites to learn more about it:
www.marchofdimes.org/zika and www.nacersano.org/zika.

If you have any questions about the Zika virus, text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Updated: 8/11/2016

 

Summer travel with baby

05
Jul
Posted by Lauren

Travel with babyThe warmer weather is here, which is a great time to plan a trip with the family. If you have a little one though, you need to plan ahead before hitting the road.

Here are some tips for safe traveling with your baby:

  • Check in with your baby’s health care provider before your trip to make sure she is healthy.
  • Most health insurance plans cover emergency medical care no matter where you are, but it’s best to check your policy to learn what exactly is covered.
  • Learn about medical care that’s available where you are going. Ask your baby’s health care provider for recommendations or visit the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers website for info.
  • Check the CDC’s website for travel advisories and safety tips while away from home.

Now that you have read up on some valuable safety and health information for your travels, it’s time to pack!

Remember to include these items in your baby’s bag:

  • Baby food and  supplies you need to feed your baby breast milk or formula, such as bottles and a breast pump. Bring extra food or formula in case of travel delays.
  • Changing pad, diapers and diaper ointment. Throw-away changing pads can make changing your baby’s diaper easier.
  • Extra baby clothes
  • Pacifier
  • Rattle, book or favorite toy
  • Wipes
  • Medication or special equipment if your child has special needs

Whether you are traveling by car, boat or plane, in-state or internationally, read our web article for more tips on how to get where you are going safely. If you have a child with special needs, this post will be helpful, too.

 

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:

U.S. States:

  • Wynwood, a neighborhood in Miami, FL

 

Americas:

  • Anguilla
  • Antigua
  • Argentina
  • Aruba
  • Barbados
  • Barbuda
  • 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
  • Saba
  • Saint Barthélemy
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Martin
  • Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
  • Sint Eustatius
  • Sint Maarten
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Turks & Cacos
  • 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

 
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 August 10, 2016.