How vaccines help

24
Apr
Posted by Sara

get vaccinatedAmong children born between 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes. Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

April 18-25 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW). This is an annual observance to promote the benefits of immunizations and to improve the health of children two years old or younger. Since 1994, local and state health departments, national immunization partners, healthcare professionals, community leaders from across the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have worked together through NIIW to highlight the positive impact of vaccination on the lives of infants and children, and to call attention to immunization achievements.

What you need to know:

• Immunizations save lives. Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two, including whooping cough (pertussis) and measles.

• Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. And another study has just recently reaffirmed that there is no harmful association between children receiving the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) even among children already at higher risk for ASD.

• Babies and children in the U.S. still get vaccine preventable diseases. Why? Newborns are too young to receive vaccines and other people may not be able to get certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. Vaccination helps keep everyone safe by reducing the spread of disease.

Vaccines are usually covered by insurance. But if you or someone you know is unable to afford vaccines for their child, the Vaccines for Children program is available. This is a federally funded program that provides vaccines for children whose parents may not be able to afford them. You can learn more about the VFC program here, or ask your child’s health care provider.

In the first 2 years of life, your baby gets several vaccines to protect her. This schedule shows each vaccine your baby gets up to 6 years.

And if you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, you can learn more about vaccines and pregnancy here.

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

Stop. Rest. Relax…Repeat.

22
Apr
Posted by Barbara

things to do I am not one who can easily relax. Usually, I need a brick wall in front of me to make me stop (or a cliff will do fine, too). Adrenaline runs through my veins. I am continually creating and updating my to-do lists (or as I call them, my must-do lists) and the I-don’t-have-time-to-relax attitude often overtakes me.

Now, I KNOW, that I need to relax, for the sake of good health and a clear mind. I KNOW I need sleep, a healthy diet and exercise. But, when the list of all that needs to be done is before my eyes, or in my hand, or on my phone, I have a very hard time turning away from it and shutting down my mind. Does this happen to anyone else out there?

As parents, we have the responsibility of providing for our children – financially, physically, emotionally and in every other way that they need. Parents of children with special needs face additional tasks to conquer, from appointments with specialists, to IEP meetings, to figuring out a system with continual twists, turns and dead ends. For pregnant women, stress related hormones may play a role in causing certain pregnancy complications. Unless we purposefully have a method or a way to shut off the engine and refuel it, we risk burn-out and ill health.

But, easier said than done.

A few years ago, I took up yoga, as I knew that it offered health benefits. Among the benefits is a curious thing called “mindfulness.” Now, I am a science geek at heart, so the touchy-feely aspect was not really something I gravitated toward. But, I gave it a try anyway. What is this thing called “mindfulness?”

Well, it is a way to help shut out the noise of everything around you (and even your own busy mind), and just…be. At first I was not able to just sit and “be.” Be what? I am a do-er. Not a be-er. But, I kept going to yoga class thinking that there must be something to this, and to just give it time.

relaxing at workEventually, (after about a year!) I got comfortable and even good at sitting down on my mat, crossing my legs, uttering OOOOOOOMMMMMMM a few times, and becoming “present in the moment.” My yoga instructor would say “you have nowhere to be, nothing to do, but to be here, present.” I would concentrate on my breathing (never did that before!), and work on blocking everything out of my mind (much harder than it sounds).

During class, I give myself permission to put the world on hold for an hour. My must-do list will be there when I am done, and my noisy world will return, but for this one hour I honor myself, I rest my mind, I invigorate my body, and I …..relax. What a concept!

When my son was in first grade, he received a writing assignment; the topic was “my favorite thing to do.” He wrote “My favorite thing to do….is to relax. I like to go home, lie on the couch, put my feet up and just watch a movie.” (His teacher was not too happy, as she expected to hear he liked to play a sport or build a Lego creation, but I found it enlightening.) His favorite thing, was letting go, relaxing….just “be”ing. Hmmmm. Kids GET this.

April is Stress Awareness Month, so, as you rush around, going from appointment to appointment, crossing off items on your must-do list, remember that you can only go so far without re-fueling. The stop-rest-relax portion of your day is as important as the go-go-go part. It does not have to be through yoga, but find something that helps you relax your body AND mind. Then, when you pick up and go again, you will be refreshed and able to handle whatever comes your way. Believe me, if I can do it, you can, too.

So, try this as your new mantra for today:  stop – rest – relax.

And tomorrow?

Repeat.

 

For more posts on how to help your child with a delay or disability, view our Table of Contents.

 

Drive safely, without distractions

20
Apr
Posted by Lauren

Safe drivingMost parents have mastered the ability to multitask. But, an estimated 1 in 4 car crashes involve a cell phone distraction on a handheld cell phone or hands-free device. You may be convinced it is easy to do two or three things while driving, but even when you think you are practicing safety precautions, such as using a hands-free device to talk on the phone, your safety is still at risk.

About 80% of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone, but this is not true, according to The National Safety Council. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are not safer because the brain is still distracted by the phone conversation. Drivers can miss seeing up to half of what’s going on around them, such as traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians. Even hands-free features on your dashboard can still distract you from the road.

Tips to stay safe

• Let it wait. Put your phone on silent and away in your purse, trunk or glove compartment before you start driving.
• If you need to make a phone call, text or read an email on your phone, pull over.
• Set a special ring tone for important incoming calls.
• Preset your navigation system or music playlists before driving.
• Make sure your little one is strapped into his car seat correctly and has what he needs before you settle into the driver’s seat.

Parents have a lot on their minds. By changing a few habits, you can avoid getting distracted while driving and even after you have stopped driving.

To avoid a tragedy of accidentally leaving your child in his car seat when you get out of the car, put your purse or work bag in the back seat next to your child’s car seat or under his feet. Having to go into the back seat will ensure that you see your sleeping baby before you leave your car. It could save your child’s life.

We can’t do it without you

17
Apr
Posted by Sara

Salk newspaperVolunteers have always been an invaluable part of the March of Dimes. From the very earliest days, volunteers have been full partners in the March of Dimes, working to raise funds, heighten awareness and implement critical programs to help support our mission.

In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the nation to help him find a cure for polio by contributing dimes for the cause and sending them directly to the White House. Within weeks, over 80,000 letters with dimes and dollars flooded the White House mailroom to the extent that official correspondence to the President was literally buried in an avalanche of donations, a total of 2,680,000 dimes or $268,000.

With the funds raised through this annual campaign, the March of Dimes financed much of the research that led to the development of the polio vaccine.  The March of Dimes then organized a massive field trial to prove its effectiveness in the largest peacetime mobilization of volunteers in the history of the United States. And 60 years ago, on April 12, 1955 Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was declared “safe, effective and potent.” This was a major milestone in the fight against polio.

Over the next few weeks March for Babies events will take place across the country. Approximately 3 million people will join their family, friends and colleagues in nearly 700 communities. These volunteers will walk to give hope to nearly half a million babies born too soon each year. The money raised supports programs in local communities that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies. And it funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten our babies. We’ve been walking since 1970 and have raised an incredible $2.3 billion to benefit all babies.

This week is National Volunteer Week and we want to take this moment to thank everyone who has contributed to help us achieve our goals. The efforts of our friends and volunteers are what make this organization strong. We are resolved to push even harder for research into the problems that threaten the health of babies.

To all of our volunteers past and present, from polio to prematurity, we offer our most sincere thanks.

Beech-nut baby food recall

15
Apr
Posted by Ivette
Image Credit: Beech-Nut Nutrition®

–Photo credit: Beech-Nut®–

Beech-Nut Nutrition® is recalling some of its baby food products because they may have small pieces of glass in them.

The recall is for 4 oz. glass jars of Stage 2 Beech-Nut Classics Sweet Potato and Chicken. The recalled products have an expiration date of December 2016 and include product numbers 12395750815 through 12395750821. The recalled baby food was sold in stores nationwide.

If you have Beech-Nut baby food, check the jar and label to see if you have the recalled product. You can return or exchange the recalled baby food at the same store where you bought it. You also can call the Beech-Nut Consumer Hotline at (866) 674-4446.

Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture website or Beech-Nut website to learn more about the Beech-Nut baby food recall. Learn more about solid foods for your baby.

Do you know your baby’s different cries?

15
Apr
Posted by Barbara

infant cryingYes…babies cry a lot; but, they cry for a reason. Your baby may be hungry, have a dirty diaper or he may not feel well. He may need to burp, have gas in his tummy, or simply need to be cuddled (which is a really good reason to cry). Crying is the only way your baby can tell you that he needs something. It is his language before he can speak.

Soon you will learn to recognize the differences in your baby’s cries. His cries will not all sound the same. The “I’m tired and need to go to sleep” cry will sound different from the “Ouch – my diaper rash hurts” cry. Likewise, the cries due to hunger will sound somewhat different from the cry when a stranger holds your baby. The more you pay attention to the slight variations in cries, the more you will learn to anticipate and react to your baby’s needs.

Do preemies cry more often than full term babies?

Some studies show that premature babies are more likely to be fussy than babies who are born full term. They may be harder to soothe, cry often, and have trouble eating and sleeping. If your baby is fussy, it may be comforting to know that you are not alone. Some babies who have been in the NICU have trouble getting used to the quiet of home. Your baby may sleep better with some background music or a low level of noise in your home.

Remember to never shake your baby when he cries—this can seriously hurt him. If you can’t soothe your baby or you think he cries way too much, talk to his health care provider. Babies can get sick very quickly and the sooner you seek medical attention, the quicker your baby will get better.

What if your baby cries constantly?

Your baby’s doctor can also tell you if he thinks your baby may have colic, which is intense crying lasting more than 3 hours a day. About 1 in 5 babies develop colic – usually between 1 and 4 months of age. They cry constantly, often extending or pulling up their legs or passing gas. Sometimes their tummies are enlarged with air and gas.

There’s no one cause of colic, but there are many different ways to ease your baby’s discomfort. One way is to walk him in a soft-sided baby carrier that you strap to the front of your body. You can also try laying him tummy-down across your knees and gently rubbing his back. The pressure against his tummy may relieve his discomfort.

Breastfeeding moms can ask their baby’s health care providers about a change in food choices or eliminating specific foods that may cause your baby discomfort. Keep in mind that colic usually disappears by 4 months of age, no matter what treatments you try.

Remember Mom

As important as it is to care for your baby, it is also important to care for yourself. Moms of babies who have colic or are very fussy are often sleep deprived. Enlist the help of your partner, relatives and friends, so that you can take time out to sleep, eat well and even go for a stress busting walk. The time you spend nourishing your body and mind will help give you the patience to deal with your crying baby.

For tips on how to soothe your crying baby, visit us.

For more posts on how to help your child with a delay or disability, view our Table of Contents.

 

Alcohol and breastfeeding

13
Apr
Posted by Lauren

Alcohol and BreastfeedingYou have waited many months and finally you have given birth to your beautiful baby! Now you want to celebrate with a glass of champagne, right? Don’t fill up your glass just yet. When you drink alcohol and then breastfeed your baby, she is exposed to a small amount of the alcohol you drink. Your baby eliminates the alcohol from her body at only half the rate you do. Therefore, it stays in your baby’s system, which is not good for her.

Don’t believe the myths

• It was once believed that drinking beer was a way to increase a mother’s milk supply, but that is not true. Research has shown that drinking beer does not increase your milk supply. In fact, drinking alcohol of any kind may decrease the amount of breastmilk your baby drinks. Alcohol can change the taste of your milk, which your baby may not like, and can result in your baby taking in less breastmilk.  Chronic drinking of alcohol may also reduce your milk production.

• Some people believe “pumping and dumping” (expressing breastmilk and then throwing it away instead of giving it to your baby) will get rid of the alcohol from your body quicker, but this is not true either. Pumping and dumping does not have any effect on how quickly alcohol leaves your body. However, if you miss a feeding session due to having had an alcoholic drink, then pumping and dumping will help you maintain your milk supply and avoid engorgement (when your breasts are swollen with milk to the point of hurting).

Bottom line

Avoid alcohol when you’re breastfeeding. However, if you have a drink, allow at least 2 hours per drink before your next breastfeeding or pumping session. This allows your body to have as much time as possible to process the alcohol out of your system before your baby’s next feeding. If you do drink alcohol, don’t have more than two drinks a week (one alcoholic drink is equal to a 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine or 1 ounce of hard liquor.)

You may also want to pump after your feedings when you have not had a drink. This way, you will have extra milk stored to feed your baby if you have been drinking when you need to breastfeed.

You also can pass street drugs, like heroin and cocaine, to your baby through breast milk. Tell your health care provider if you need help to quit using street drugs or drinking alcohol.

Reasons you may need a c-section

10
Apr
Posted by Sara

There are times when your health care provider may recommend a cesarean section (also called c-section). If there are problems with your pregnancy or during labor, you may need to have a c-section to keep you and your baby safe.

In this video of Dr. Siobhan Dolan discusses some of the medical reasons why a c-section may be necessary and what you can expect.

Helping babies with FASD

08
Apr
Posted by Barbara

baby in distress

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause your baby to have serious health conditions, called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Alcohol can also cause your baby to:

• Be born too soon (prematurely)
• Have birth defects (heart, brain and other organs)
• Have vision or hearing problems
• Be born at low birthweight
• Have intellectual disabilities
• Have learning disabilities
• Have sleeping and sucking problems
• Have speech and language delays
• Have behavioral problems

What can you do?

The earlier a child is diagnosed with FASD, the sooner interventions can begin, and the child can start making progress. Special services that can help a child with FASD include early intervention, special education, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other services. This blog series can help you learn how to access services for babies and toddlers or children ages 3 and older.

Not all babies born with FASD will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. According to Mother-to-Baby, “There are reports of withdrawal symptoms in infants whose mothers consumed alcohol near delivery. Symptoms included tremors, increased muscle tone, restlessness and excessive crying…Once your baby is born, it is also recommended you tell your pediatrician about your alcohol use during pregnancy. Your baby can be evaluated for effects of alcohol exposure. Services and support are available for children with alcohol related problems.”

Additional resources

The FASD Center for Excellence has information, including screening, diagnosing, intervention programs and resources.

The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) has a resource list and several fact sheets that may be very helpful to parents of children with FASD, such as FASD Identification.

March of Dimes’ role

In 1973, March of Dimes grantees were the first to link drinking alcohol in pregnancy with a specific pattern of birth defects and intellectual disabilities they called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Since then grantees have continued to study how alcohol harms the developing brain, and to discover better ways to prevent and treat FASDs in alcohol-exposed babies.

Here is more information, including resources on how to quit drinking alcohol. The good news is that FASD is entirely preventable by avoiding alcohol during pregnancy.

If you have questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. View other posts in the Delays and Disabilities: How to get help for your child series, here.

 

FASDs – what you need to know

06
Apr
Posted by Lauren

Alcohol Awareness MonthIt’s important to stop and think before you drink.

Many women who are pregnant or thinking about pregnancy know that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects, but it’s important to note that even light drinking may also harm your developing baby. No level of alcohol use during pregnancy has been proven safe – none. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders or FASDs, which include a wide range of physical and mental disabilities and lasting emotional and behavioral problems in a child.

What happens to your baby when you drink?

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, so does your baby. The same amount of alcohol that is in your blood is also in your baby’s blood. The alcohol in your blood quickly passes through the placenta and to your baby through the umbilical cord. Although your body is able to manage alcohol in your blood, your baby’s little body isn’t. Your liver works hard to break down the alcohol in your blood. But your baby’s liver is too small to do the same and alcohol can hurt your baby’s development.

That’s why alcohol is much more harmful to your baby than to you during pregnancy.

What should you do?

The good news is that FASDs can be completely avoided. If you had an occasional drink before knowing you were pregnant, chances are it probably won’t harm your baby. But it’s very important that you stop drinking alcohol as soon as you think you might be pregnant.

Also, be sure to get regular prenatal care and tell your health care provider about any concerns you may have.

Bottom line: There is no safe amount of alcohol a pregnant woman can consume. Even a small amount can harm your baby.

April is alcohol Awareness Month – help us get the word out. Stop and think before you drink.