Posts Tagged ‘AAP’

Why reading aloud to your baby is so important

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

AA baby mom dad brother in NICU.jpg.resizedDid you know that reading to your baby helps promote language skills? Science has shown that reading to your baby helps build vocabulary, speech, and later reading comprehension, literacy and overall intelligence. Yet, less than half of children under the age of 5 are read to every day.

Reading aloud to your child is such an important aspect of language development that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidance on how to read to your child, including book suggestions for every age.

But what if your baby is in the NICU?

Even if your baby is in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), it is still incredibly valuable to read to him. The March of Dimes is partnering with Jack and Jill of America, Inc. to provide books to families who have a baby in a NICU. Parents are encouraged to choose books and read to their babies as often as they can.

In this resource, the AAP explains “Why it is never too early to read with your baby.” They say: “When parents talk, read, and sing with their babies and toddlers, connections are formed in their young brains. These connections build language, literacy, and social–emotional skills at an important time in a young child’s development. These activities strengthen the bond between parent and child.”

Why start reading today?

Today is World Read Aloud Day, a perfect time to start a new routine of reading to your child.

If you’re not sure what to read, you can ask your local librarian in the children’s room. You can also acquire books for a home library at second hand stores or even recycling stations. The “dump” in the town where I raised my kids has a book shed where you can drop off or pick up used books for free. And don’t forget, garage or yard sales are great places to get books for nickels. Having a mini-library at home has been shown to help children get off on the right academic foot.

But perhaps the best reason to read to your child is because it brings you together. The snuggles and cuddles, laughter and silliness that may result from reading a wonderful book, brings happiness to both parent and child.

Whether it is in the NICU or at home, reading aloud to your child is one of the most powerful things you will ever do. So grab a book, snuggle up, and enjoy!

 

See how your state is doing on childhood vaccination rates

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

baby vaccinationYou know that vaccines are very important. They protect your baby from serious childhood illnesses. Over the years vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives.

However, immunization rates across the United States vary. In order to show how vaccination rates differ among individual states, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has developed an interactive digital map that shows state immunization rates for vaccine-preventable diseases, including:

  • Flu: The best way to protect your baby from the flu is to make sure he gets a flu shot each year before flu season (October through May). Even though your baby’s more likely to get the flu during flu season, he can get it any time of year. The flu shot contains a vaccine that helps prevent your baby from getting the flu. Children older than 6 months can get the flu shot. Your baby gets two flu shots in his first year life. He then gets one shot each year after.
  • Varicella: This vaccine protects your child from chickenpox, an infection that spreads easily and causes itchy skin, rash and fever.
  • Diptheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP): Diptheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat and can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and even death. Tetanus (lockjaw) is a serious disease that causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. And pertussis (also called whooping cough) is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection that is dangerous for a baby.
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR): This vaccine protects your baby against measles, mumps and rubella (also called German measles). Measles is a disease that’s easily spread and may cause rash, cough and fever. Mumps may cause fever, headache and swollen glands. Rubella causes mild flu-like symptoms and a skin rash.
  • HPV (human papillomavirus): This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts. The infection also may lead to cervical cancer. The CDC recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine.

According to the AAP, “The map also highlights recent outbreaks of disease that have occurred in communities where pockets of low-immunization rates left the population vulnerable. While immunization rates have remained steady or increased for many vaccines over the past decade, recent studies show that unvaccinated children are often geographically clustered in communities. These pockets of under-immunization are at higher risk of disease and have been the source of disease outbreaks, as seen with the 2014 measles outbreak in California.”

Vaccines don’t just protect the person who receives them, but they also protect more vulnerable populations, such as infants and children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Check out the map to find out what the childhood vaccination rate is in your state and how it compares to others. And remember to make sure that you and your children are up to date on all your vaccinations!

Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Study finds parents make medication dosing mistakes

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

medicine syringe for kidsMore than 80 percent of 2,110 parents made dosing mistakes when measuring liquid medicine, a new Pediatrics study reveals. And, the majority of those mistakes were overdoses. The study was in the form of a lab experiment (so no children were harmed). Researchers found  that 4 times more errors occurred when a dosing cup was used instead of an oral syringe.

Manufacturers of liquid medication may have different kinds of cups, droppers, spoons or syringes to use to give your child his medicine. These various kinds of measuring items can be confusing and lead to accidentally using one that wasn’t intended for a particular medication.

What should you do?

  • Always use the oral syringe or dropper that comes with the medication. Do not use a syringe or dropper from a previous medication.
  • Measure calmly, carefully, and exactly.
  • Never use kitchen teaspoons because they are not intended for medication use. Kitchen spoons vary widely and can hold vastly different amounts of liquids.
  • The researchers in this study recommend using oral syringes instead of cups, especially if small doses (eg. for babies) are needed.

There is no doubt that having a sick baby or child is very stressful. When our kids are sick, we are worried and probably sleep deprived from being up with them at night. You can reduce the odds of making a medication mistake by using only the syringe or dropper that comes with the medicine bottle, or ask your pharmacist to help you select a syringe. Be sure you understand the label and the markings on the syringe.

Other tips

  • If you are giving a non-prescription medication (such as Tylenol or any over-the-counter medicine), be sure to give the dose that is based on your child’s weight, not his age. If in doubt, ask a doctor, nurse, physician assistant, pharmacist or other healthcare provider.
  • AAP has helpful dosage charts for acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).
  • Check out the AAP’s video guide on how to measure meds and read about useful medication tips.

Are you ready for your baby to come home?

Friday, September 13th, 2013

mom-with-newborn-in-hospitalIf your due date is around the corner, here is a to-do list to help you prepare for your baby’s arrival.

Child safety seat: Make sure your baby’s car seat is safe and correctly installed in your car before you go to the hospital.

Crib: Choose a crib with slats no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. Make sure the crib isn’t painted with lead or varnish. Don’t use bumper guards on cribs because they pose a suffocation risk.

Diapers: Plan on using about 70 diapers (disposable or cloth) a week.

Layette: You won’t need a full wardrobe. Here’s the basics to get you started:

• 6 to 8 T-shirts or onesies
• 6 to 8 sleepers
• 4 to 6 pairs of booties or socks
• 4 to 6 receiving blankets
• Washcloths and towels

Medical supplies: It’s good to have these items on hand, ahead of your baby’s arrival:

• Rectal digital thermometer (not a mercury thermometer) and lubricant (petroleum jelly). A rectal digital thermometer gives the best temperature reading for newborns.
• Non-aspirin liquid pain reliever (acetaminophen) for infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend any other type of pain reliever for infants up to 6 months old.
• Diaper rash ointment
• Rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs to clean the umbilical cord stump
• Saline drops to help relieve a stuffy nose
• Infant nail clippers
• Suction bulb for nose

Other supplies:

• A breast pump if you want to express your milk
• Formula and bottles if you plan to feed your baby formula

Choose a health care provider: It is also helpful to choose a health care provider for your baby, before you give birth. This way you have someone to go to for your baby’s first well check visit or if he is not feeling well.

A pediatrician is a health care provider who takes care of babies and children. To find a pediatrician in your area, go to the Web site of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A family physician is a health care provider who takes care of people of all ages. To find a family physician in your area, go to the Web site of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Delays, disabilities and the law

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

law-books-and-gavelWhether your child was a preemie or not, the good news is that our federal laws provide the means for your child to get help if he needs it. If your child needs early intervention, special education or related services he is not alone. More than 6 million children with delays or disabilities receive special education and related services in schools in the U.S. every year!

Children may need services for any number of reasons, including medical conditions related to prematurity. Children born preterm will often need extra help in a number of developmental areas. A recent 2012 study in Pediatrics noted that about 45% of children born with an extremely low birth weight were in special education programs at age 14 compared to about 10% of children born with a normal birth weight.

Know the language

Learning the lingo can be the hardest part of navigating the early intervention and special education system. You may feel as if you just got a new job but when you arrived at work on your first day, everyone was speaking a different language. You feel lost and often foolish asking basic questions, to which everyone already seems to know the answers. If your child has any kind of need, it is important that you know the language, or at least know the basics. Let’s start at the beginning.

What is IDEA?

IDEA is the federal law that governs how states provide early intervention and special education services. It is short for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This law has been revised several times since it was first passed in 1975.  It spells out what your child is eligible to receive and what your state is responsible to provide. It is also a bit vague sometimes, which may leave details and interpretations up to individual states  and local school districts. However, on the whole, it is the roadmap for you if your child needs services, and it is essential for you to know that it is there to support your child.  Most parents will never need to refer to the actual law (officially referred to as Public Law 108–446 which is very, very long), but in case you ever have trouble falling asleep at night, you can find it here.

What is FAPE?

Did you know that in the United States, every child is entitled to a free and appropriate public education? This is commonly referred to as FAPE. According to IDEA, FAPE “means special education and related services that—(a) Are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge…” and are provided along with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in an appropriate school setting (eg. preschool, elementary or secondary school). Learn more about IEPs in this post.

What is Special Education?

According to IDEA, special education is “specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability…” That is a powerful sentence – go back and read it again. Now, here is what it means…Special education can include an incredibly diverse set of services and is individualized to meet the needs of a specific child. This education might include specific classes, programs or services, such as tutoring, provide an aide or assistant, special adaptive or computer equipment, a different curricula, etc.  By the way, SPECIAL ED IS NOT A PLACE!  It is a specially designed instructional program, particular to your child’s needs, to enable your child to access the general curriculum at school. It can be put in place in your child’s classroom or anywhere else that is decided by the IEP team, as long as it is in the “least restrictive environment” or (LRE).  Wrightslaw has more information about the different options that may be included in the LRE.

What are Related Services?

Simply put, related services are all of the other services and/or therapies that a child may need. This may include (but is not limited to) speech and language, physical, occupational and recreational therapies, psychological counseling, guidance, social work, and transportation. Click here for details and examples of many related services. According to IDEA, in addition to special education, a child can receive “such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.”

What are Supplementary Aids and Services?

IDEA says supplementary aids and services are “aids, services, and other supports that are provided in regular education classes, other education-related settings, and in extracurricular and nonacademic settings, to enable children with disabilities to be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate…” NICHCY (now CPIR) helps to explain this part of the law. They say: “Speaking practically, supplementary aids and services can be accommodations and modifications to the curriculum under study or the manner in which that content is presented or a child’s progress is measured. But that’s not all they are or can be. Supplementary aids and services can also include direct services and supports to the child, as well as support and training for staff who work with that child. That’s why determining what supplementary aids and services are appropriate for a particular child must be done on an individual basis.”

Visit the CPIR website to see NICHCY’s long list of possible services  that may be included under the umbrella of supplementary aids and services.

Take a breath – don’t get overwhelmed

This post contains a lot of information. But, the important thing to remember is that there are laws in place to help your child. As a parent, it is important to know about them and become informed. (You wouldn’t drive a car without first learning the rules of the road…right?) But don’t get discouraged. No one learns all of this overnight. Be patient with yourself.

In my next post, I will give you a long list of common terms and diagnoses to help you learn more of the lingo. So stay tuned.

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

Note:  This post is part of the new weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child.  You can find all of the posts in the series, here.  As always, we welcome your comments and input.