Seat check Saturday is Sept. 20

19
Sep
Posted by Sara

car-seat-2September 20 is National Seat Check Saturday. Certified technicians will perform car seat checks and installations at sites throughout the country. There will be car seat inspection sites throughout the country with trained and certified technicians performing car seat checks and installations.

Installing a car seat correctly may be one of the most frustrating aspects of parenthood. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of patience. And then, just as you are getting the hang of it, they outgrow one seat and have to move on to another! Of course, it is very important that your child travel in a car seat that is appropriate for her age, weight, and height and that it is installed in your car correctly. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old. Many times deaths and injuries can be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters, and seat belts.

Seat Check Saturday will give you the opportunity to get your car seat installed and inspected by trained technicians. Most inspections sites are free but do require an appointment. You can find a site near you here.

You can also take a look at this car seat check list to make sure your seat is installed correctly. And if you have had a premature baby, take the time to read these special tips.

Heavy backpacks hurt- how to lighten the load

17
Sep
Posted by Barbara

backpacks-150x150Pain and strain. Did you know heavy backpacks can be the cause of posture and back problems? Many children with special needs have musculoskeletal issues. A very heavy backpack may add additional challenges to an already sensitive child.

Yesterday, on my way to work, I noticed a group of kids headed for the bus stop. I could not help but observe their gigantic backpacks, full to the brim, and noticeably heavy. One little girl was struggling to stay upright as she shifted the weight of her backpack from left to right, in an effort to hurry along and catch her bus.

The daily carrying of heavy packs can cause muscle strain and pain, and may lead to back, shoulder or neck injuries. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has designated today as National School Backpack Awareness Day. They are holding events in different areas of the country. Even if you don’t make it to a backpack event, it is well worth your time to read AOTA’s tip sheet on Backpack Strategies for Parents and Students.

AOTA offers strategies on how to lighten the load, pack the backpack properly and wear it correctly. For instance, did you know that the pack should not weigh more than 10% of your child’s weight? (If your child weighs 80 pounds, the loaded pack should not weigh more than 8 pounds.) Also, you can make hoisting a pack easier by packing the heaviest items close to your child’s back. Using both shoulder straps is also key to minimizing injuries. Learn more helpful tips on their sheet.

So, help your child “pack it light and wear it right.” You could well avoid injuries and pain with a few simple changes.

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. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date.

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

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

15
Sep
Posted by Lauren

family playing soccerThere are many things you can do at home to help your child lead an active, healthy life. September provides an opportunity to raise awareness and to get your family moving. Whether your child is at school or home, you can look for ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your entire family.

Small changes can make a huge impact. Try things like keeping TVs and computers out of your child’s bedroom or choosing a video game that encourages physical activity instead of one that allows him to sit on the couch. You can also encourage your child to be active by taking a family walk after dinner. Incorporating these small adjustments into your family’s daily routine can make a big difference in your child’s health and well-being.

Things you can do at home:

• Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables, limit foods high in fat and sugars, and prepare family meals at home instead of eating out.

• Serve your family water.

• Pack your child a well-balanced lunch for school.

• Limit computer/TV time to no more than one to two hours hours per day, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Less screen time means more play time.

• Try to keep your child on a sleep schedule; sleep loss can lead to fatigue and increased snacking.

• Look for events happening in your community that promote healthy eating or physical activity.

• Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns. Although they account for very few cases, certain metabolic disorders or hormonal imbalances can cause weight gain.

For more information on what you can do to decrease childhood obesity, visit here.

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

Click here to read more News Moms Need blog posts on: pregnancy, pre-pregnancy, infant and child care, help for your child with delays or disabilities, and other hot topics.

Why vitamin K is important for your newborn

12
Sep
Posted by Sara

YourBabyRightAfterBirth_rdax_50Your baby will receive a shot of vitamin K soon after he is born. The vitamin K shot protects your baby from developing a rare, serious bleeding problem that can affect newborns.

Babies are not able to make vitamin K on their own and they are born with very small amounts in their bodies. Vitamin K is a very important nutrient which is needed for blood clotting so that bleeding stops. We get vitamin K from food and it is also made by the healthy bacteria that live in the intestines.   However, when a baby is born, his intestinal tract does not have enough healthy bacteria to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is not easily transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy either. And although he can receive some vitamin K from breast milk, it is not enough.  It takes a while for your baby to start producing his own vitamin K. Therefore, receiving a shot of vitamin K immediately after birth helps your baby’s blood to coagulate and clot. This assists in protecting against possible abnormal bleeding in the body.

If a baby does not receive a vitamin K shot soon after birth, he may be at risk for a condition called Vitamin K deficiency bleeding or VKDB. This occurs when a baby does not have enough vitamin K and his blood cannot clot. Not getting enough vitamin K puts your baby at risk for bleeding into his intestines or even brain. Babies who do not receive the vitamin K shot after birth are actually at risk for VKDB until they are six months old.

Table of contents for the delays and disabilities series

10
Sep
Posted by Barbara

If you are new to this series, or if you want to catch up on posts you may have missed, this is a good way to see all the posts in the series. They are grouped by topic to help you navigate your way.

Table of Contents

Why this blog series?
A new blog series is here

How to get early intervention and special education services
Babies and toddlers:

Understanding developmental milestones and delays
Preemies- adjusted age and delays
Early intervention for babies and toddlers
What is an IFSP?
Guest post from the CDC on early intervention
Don’t delay with delays
How does your state define developmental delay?

Kids ages 3 and older:

Turning 3 – the leap from early intervention to special ed
Early intervention and special ed for children ages 3 and older
What is an IEP?
What are related services?
IEP or 504 – that is the question!
IEP reviews in April
IEPs on TV
April is IEP month
What is Prior Written Notice or “PWN?”
IEPs and LREs – the nitty gritty
An easy way to find resources for kids with special needs
Summer programs for kids with special needs
Delays, disabilities and the law
Learning the lingo
Words and terms – a whole new world
Changing a program for a child with special needs
What is peer-reviewed research?
Keeping track of your child’s records

Pediatric medical specialties

What are pediatric specialties?
Finding pediatric specialists
What is a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician?
What is a child psychologist?

Therapies and Treatments

What is physical therapy or “PT”?
What is occupational therapy, or “OT”?
What is speech therapy?
What are hippotherapy and therapeutic riding (THR)?
What are recreation services?
Kids with challenges zoom on souped up kiddie cars

Sensory issues

Sensory difficulties in children
Everyday tips for dealing with sensory special kids
Help for sensory issues
Fireworks are not fun for kids with sensitive hearing
Sensory friendly malls

Understanding the diagnosis

Preemies and hearing loss
Did you hear me? What is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?
What are learning disabilities (LDS)?
LDs – What they ARE and are NOT
What is dyslexia?
What is dyscalculia?
What is dysgraphia?
What is dyspraxia?

Coping – day in and day out

Medication mistakes are common
It’s good – no, great – to read to your baby
Avoiding and handling tantrums
More resources for handling meltdowns
Positive reinforcement – the power of one M&M’s® candy
Positive reinforcement – fortune cookie advice

Flu can be serious for kids with special needs
Can sleep affect your child with special needs…or you?
A social skills tip for kids with special needs

Apps for math LD and other disabilities
There’s an app for that (for kids with learning challenges)

Getting through transitions, holidays, vacations and disasters

A transition tip
Bracing for the holidays
Holidays :) or :(
Adjusting to life after the holidays
Let it go! Let it go! Let it go! (an inspirational holiday poem)
Vacationing with your child with special needs
Accommodations help vacationers with special needs
Re-entry: life after vacation
Summer to September
From summer to school – the big transition
Back to school is hard on kids and PARENTS!
Shopping for toys for kids with special needs
Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs

Surviving and thriving – Your child with special needs, your other children, and YOU

Special moms need special care
Caring for the caretaker – put on your oxygen mask
Caring for the siblings of a child with special needs
Do siblings of children with disabilities need help?
Laughter helps your body, mind and mood
It’s a marathon, not a sprint

You can also see all of the blog posts by clicking on Help for Your Child under “Categories” on the menu. Scroll down to read the blog posts in reverse chronological order. If you have comments or questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We welcome your input!

What you need to know about enterovirus D68

09
Sep
Posted by Sara

child with coldRecently children in a number of states have become very sick with a severe respiratory illness. The cause of these infections, in many cases, has been found to be enterovirus D68. Enteroviruses are actually quite common. They are typically seen in the summer and fall and usually peak in mid-September, right as kids are heading back to school.

Most of the time people who are infected with enteroviruses do not even get sick. Or they may have mild symptoms, similar to the common cold. However the strain of enterovirus that is currently making the rounds seems to be causing more severe respiratory illness. Children are being admitted to hospitals and some are even ending up in intensive care units (ICUs).

Anyone can become infected with enterovirus D68. However, infants, children, and teenagers are most often at-risk because they have not been exposed to the virus before and have not built up immunity yet. Also children with asthma or a history of wheezing can be very vulnerable.

There is no specific treatment for enterovirus D68. Doctors treat and manage the symptoms. Since this is a virus, antibiotics are not effective. There are also no vaccines available that can prevent the infection. The best thing to do is to protect yourself and others from getting the virus in the first place. There are three things that you can do to protect yourself and your family from enterovirus D68:

• Make sure you are washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Monitor young children while they are washing their hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. This includes kissing, hugging, and sharing utensils.

• Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces that may be contaminated.

Colds and viruses are very common at this time of year. However, if your child has a cold and has difficulty breathing, begins wheezing, or her condition changes in any way, it is important to contact her health care provider right away. This is especially true for children with asthma and/or allergies.

The CDC will continue to monitor the situation closely and help those states with affected children. You can find updated information on their website.

International FASD awareness day is today

09
Sep
Posted by Lauren

FASD awareness dayFASDs or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, are a group of conditions that can happen to your baby when you drink alcohol during your pregnancy.

There is no known safe level of alcohol during pregnancy. When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, so does your baby. The alcohol in your blood quickly passes through the placenta and to your baby through the umbilical cord and can seriously harm your baby’s development, both mentally and physically.

Alcohol can also cause your baby to be born too soon or with certain birth defects of the heart, brain or other organs.  He can also be born at a low birthweight or have:

• Vision and hearing problems

• Intellectual disabilities

• Learning and behavior problems

• Sleeping and sucking problems

• Speech and language delays

The good news is that FASDs are 100% preventable. If you avoid alcohol during your pregnancy, your baby can’t have FASDs or any other health conditions caused by alcohol.

If you have been drinking alcohol during pregnancy, it is never too late to stop. Your baby’s brain is growing throughout pregnancy, so the sooner you stop drinking the safer it will be for you and your baby.

For more information about alcohol during pregnancy and how to stop, visit us here.

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

Click here to read more News Moms Need blog posts on: pregnancy, pre-pregnancy, infant and child care, help for your child with delays or disabilities, and other hot topics.

Morning sickness during pregnancy

08
Sep
Posted by Ivette

pregnant womanThe news of another royal baby on the way has caused a lot of excitement on both sides of the pond. But learning that the Duchess of Cambridge may once again be suffering from morning sickness in her second pregnancy makes me feel deeply for her. I had morning sickness in both of my pregnancies. I remember it being a lot harder to manage the second time around while working and caring for my first child.

Morning sickness is nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting that happens during pregnancy, usually in the first few months. It’s also called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy or NVP. Even though it’s called morning sickness, it can last all day and happen any time of day. Mild morning sickness doesn’t harm you or your baby. But if morning sickness becomes severe (called hyperemesis gravidarum), it can lead to weight loss and dehydration (not having enough water in your body). These problems can be harmful during pregnancy.

If you have mild morning sickness, there are some things you can do that may help you feel better, like:

• Keep snacks by your bed. Eat a few crackers before you get up in the morning to help settle your stomach.
Eat five or six small meals each day instead of three larger meals.
• Eat foods that are low in fat and easy to digest, like cereal, rice and bananas. Don’t eat spicy or fatty foods.
• Eat healthy snacks between meals. This helps keep your stomach from being empty and helps prevent feeling sick to your stomach. Try snacks that are high in protein, like milk or yogurt.
• Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
• Avoid smells that upset your stomach.
• Take your prenatal vitamin at night or with a snack. Sometimes vitamins can upset your stomach.

Talk to your health care provider if you have morning sickness. Your provider may prescribe a medicine to help relieve your nausea. It comes as a tablet that you take every day as long as you have symptoms.

If you have severe morning sickness, you may need treatment in a hospital with intravenous (IV) fluids. These are fluids that are given through a needle into a vein. Signs of severe morning sickness include:

• Vomiting more than 3 to 4 times a day
• Vomiting that makes you dizzy, lightheaded or dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include feeling thirsty, having a dry mouth, having a fast heart beat or making little to no urine.
• Losing more than 10 pounds in pregnancy

Read our article on morning sickness to learn more. Or watch our videos on mild morning sickness and severe morning sickness.

September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month

05
Sep
Posted by Sara

newborn-screening-picture1September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month. All babies in the United States get newborn screening. These tests look for rare but serious and mostly treatable health disorders. Babies with these disorders often look healthy. But unless the condition is diagnosed and treated early, a baby can develop lasting physical problems or intellectual disabilities, or may even die.

How is newborn screening done?

Newborn screening is done in 3 ways:
1. Most newborn screening is done with a blood test. Your baby’s provider pricks your baby’s heel to get a few drops of blood. The blood is collected on a special paper and sent to a lab for testing. The lab then sends the results back to your baby’s health provider.
2. For the hearing screening, your provider places a tiny, soft speaker in your baby’s ear to check how your baby responds to sound.
3. For heart screening, a test called pulse oximetry is used. This test checks the amount of oxygen in your baby’s blood by using a sensor attached to his finger or foot. This test is used to screen babies for a heart condition called critical congenital heart disease (CCHD).

When is newborn screening done?
Your baby gets newborn screening before he leaves the hospital, when he’s 1 or 2 days old. Some states require that babies have newborn screening again about 2 weeks later.

If your baby is not born in a hospital, talk to your baby’s provider about getting newborn screening before he is 7 days old.

How many health conditions should your baby be screened for?
Each state decides which tests are required. The March of Dimes would like to see all babies in all states screened for at least 31 health conditions. Many of these health conditions can be treated if found early.

Today all states require newborn screening for at least 26 health conditions. The District of Columbia and 42 states screen for 29 of the 31 recommended conditions. Some states require screening for up to 50 or more. You can find out which conditions your state screen for here.

Back to school is hard on kids and PARENTS!

03
Sep
Posted by Barbara

back to schoolIt is back-to-school time… for parents. Yes, I know your kids are the ones who go to school, but going back to school is a feat for parents, too.

First, you need to buy all the school supplies (if you have not misplaced the list), including the all too important backpack. Then, there are the school clothes, shoes, sneakers, boots, and sports equipment. If your child has special needs, you may have even more items to buy. Depending on the age of your child, there may be lockers to decorate and books to purchase. Shopping and gathering all these items is time consuming and expensive. The entire process can be exhausting and stressful. It is so important to try not to let all of these tasks get the better of you, and to keep the focus on your child in a positive way. If you are stressed out, your child will be, too.

Before your child starts school, there are fears of the unknown. The anxiety may keep your little one up at night. Then, once your child starts school, there is the huge adjustment that comes with getting used to a new teacher, new faces in the classroom and a new routine. Little things as simple as a different kind of chair, lights, sounds and smells may bother your child and cause upset. Getting yanked into a whole new environment can be incredibly unnerving to any child, but it is especially difficult for a child with special needs.

Adding to the overall stress of returning to school, is the challenge of figuring out what actually happens during the school day. One of my kids had a teacher who told parents “I will only believe half of what your child tells me about you, if you believe half of what your child tells you about school.” At first I found it somewhat alarming, but then I realized it reminded me of the game of telephone. The more a message gets passed on, the more the message changes.

As your child becomes acquainted with the new school routine, he may come home and tell you information that is slightly incorrect. Or, he may tell you absolutely nothing. (Often, just getting through a school day from beginning to end is a monumental feat for a child with special needs, and once home, the last thing he wants to do is talk about his day. Rather, quiet time is the preferred escape.) If you need to know specific information, consider emailing the teacher or the Class Parent because your child may be too overwhelmed to tell you the information you seek. And, if he does talk about his day, you may not get all the facts you need to answer your question.

If you think that you are the only parent who finds back-to-school tasks stressful and overwhelming at times, you are not alone. But, the important thing to remember is that as stressed as you are, your child is much more stressed. Try to keep a cheerful perspective and know that in time your child will adjust to the new routine, and so will you. With a little luck, you may both grow to love this new year, too.

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. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

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