Posts Tagged ‘infant’

Gift ideas for the new mom

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

newbornYour friend recently had a baby and, not surprisingly, is exhausted. As much as she may want to be “super mom,” especially during the holidays, no woman can be everything to everyone. So do her a huge favor and offer a gift of help.  It won’t cost a dime and could mean the world to her.
     • Help with household chores. You can do the dishes, do a load of laundry, do her grocery shopping, or simply hold the baby while your friend takes a shower.
     • Offer to babysit at different times. Instead of going out, your friend may want to stay in the comfort of her own home and take a much needed nap. She may sleep longer and deeper knowing a trusted friend is taking care of the baby.
     • Prepare a few meals. It’s hard enough to take care of feeding a baby every couple of hours, let alone feeding yourself and your partner. Connect with some mutual friends or family members and make a series of meals that can be put in the freezer. Then they can be popped into the oven or microwave whenever needed.

Caring for a new baby can be a wonderful time in a woman’s life. But when you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted it’s hard to remember that the newborn days won’t last all that long. Helping your friend get through the first few weeks at home will make her better able to manage her time and energy and enjoy these first precious moments in her child’s life.

Flu can be serious for kids with special needs

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

flu-shots-signIt is very important that children with special needs get a flu shot. They are especially at risk for serious complications that can be life threatening, if they get the flu.

Which children are most at risk?

Children younger than 5 years of age and children of any age with a long-term health condition are at high risk of complications from flu. High risk conditions include:

• Developmental disabilities (including a moderate to severe developmental delay)
• Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, such as disorders of the brain and spinal cord, cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury.
• Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
• Asthma
• Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
• Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
• Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
• Kidney disorders
• Liver disorders
• Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
• Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
• Children who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy.

Children in the high risk group are more likely to stay sick longer and have a more severe case of the flu, than children who are not in the high risk group. In fact, of all children who died from complications from the flu in 2009, nearly two thirds had a neurologic disorder.

A recent study  shows that many children with neurological disabilities did not receive a flu shot during the 2011-2012 flu season. The Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) urge health care providers and parents to vaccinate children against the flu, especially if they are in the high risk group.

Flu shot or nasal spray?

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine. But, children with neurologic conditions and kids under the age of 2 should ONLY get the flu shot and NOT the nasal spray vaccine.

There are special vaccination instructions for children ages 6 months through 8 years. Ask your child’s health care provider or see the CDC’s recommendations.

What about babies under 6 months?

If your baby is under 6 months of age, he is too young to receive the flu vaccine. So, be sure that everyone in your household and those who come in contact with your baby is vaccinated against the flu to help keep your baby healthy.  Check out our website to learn ways to protect your infant.

Get yourself vaccinated – for your child’s sake

If your child has a chronic condition, it is even more important that you and all of your child’s caregivers receive the flu vaccine. You need to be at your best to be able to care for your child. If you are pregnant, it is also very important and recommended that you get a flu vaccine.

What if your child still gets the flu?

If your child gets the flu, be sure that he sees his health care provider as soon as he becomes ill. Treatment with antiviral drugs within 48 hours is recommended, to reduce the chance of becoming seriously ill.  Know the symptoms of flu:  fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

Bottom line

Each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu complications. No one likes getting the flu.  But, it is vitally important that children with special needs get the flu shot. For them, getting the flu can be especially severe. So, talk to your child’s health care provider about getting your child immunized now.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 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.

How does your state define developmental delay?

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

tired-toddlerFor children under the age of 3, your state’s early intervention system can provide services for a developmental delay. But all states do not define “developmental delay” the same way.

To find your state’s definition for babies and toddlers, visit NECTAC (the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center). They have a chart of each state with their Level of Developmental Delay Required for Eligibility. (You should know that diagnosed physical or mental conditions with a “high probability of resulting in developmental delay,” commonly referred to as “established conditions,” is also an eligibility category, but it is not listed in this chart.)

Alternatively, you can ask your local school or early intervention program to tell you the definition of “developmental delay” that’s used in your area.

Where can you find more info?

• The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, known as NICHCY, has been the go-to organization for all things pertaining to early intervention and special education. Although they lost their funding and closed their doors, their materials have been incorporated into the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) website.  I suggest that you visit the CPIR site to find tons of useful information you may need for your child’s future.  For example, to learn more about developmental delays, getting a developmental screening and evaluation, connecting with other parents, and finding out about other resources, see their page on developmental delays.

• If you have a baby or toddler and suspect that her development is not on track, learn more about developmental milestones.  Always discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician. In addition, you can contact your state’s coordinator of early intervention services directly and request an evaluation.

• If you have a child age 3 or older, see this blog post to learn how to initiate services and visit CPIR to understand the definition of developmental delay for kids 3+ as defined in the law.

• Connect with your PTI – Every state has a Parent Training and Information Center, known as the PTI. Some states have several. If you are looking to connect with state and local resources, or have questions about services and parent rights, talk to your PTI. Find the PTI for your state here. One of the “Type of State Organization” choices in the dropdown menu includes “Organizations for Parents.” Click that option, then your state. The PTI will be listed in your results.

Bottom line

There are many resources in place to help your child if she needs them. It is always better to be proactive then reactive. Don’t delay with delays.

Note: This post is part of the series on Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. See the Table of Contents 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.

 

Updated October 2015.

Shaken baby syndrome

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Taking care of a fussy baby, or a baby who cries and cannot be consoled, is very, very stressful. Sometimes, usually out of frustration, a caregiver will shake the baby forcefully, in an attempt to make him stop crying. Never shake a baby because his tiny, fragile brain may be damaged.

It takes only a few seconds of shaking to cause irreversible brain damage in an infant. Further damage can occur if the shaking ends with the baby hitting something, like a wall or mattress. When a baby is shaken to the point where his brain is damaged, it is called shaken baby syndrome (SBS) or shaken impact syndrome.

SBS is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States. The average age of the victims is between 3 and 8 months. In most cases, the person who injures the baby is a young male in his early 20s. He often is the baby’s father or the mother’s boyfriend.

When a baby is shaken forcefully, the brain strikes the inside of the skull. This causes blood vessels and nerves to burst and the brain tissue to tear. Afterwards, the brain swells, causing more pressure and more damage. About half the babies who have SBS die.
Children who survive may suffer:
• Partial or total blindness
• Hearing loss
• Seizures
• Developmental delays
• Learning problems
• Paralysis
• Intellectual disabilities

In mild cases, the baby may appear normal after the shaking. But over time, he may develop one or more of the problems listed above. Often a problem is first noticed when the child goes to school and has trouble learning or behaving.

SBC can be totally prevented, especially when parents recognize when they are frustrated and get help to reduce stress.

If your baby won’t stop crying, our article Crying and Fussiness provides helpful tips.

Helping your baby sleep

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

New moms and dads can find it hard to get used to a baby’s sleeping habits. And baby can find it difficult to get into a routine. In this video, Dr. Siobhan Dolan visits a new mom to give her tips on how to put her newborn to sleep and how much sleep to expect he will need. See if it helps you.

How do I know if my baby is constipated?

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Your baby’s bowel moments depend on her age and eating habits. Every baby is different. Some babies have a bowel movement right after each feeding. Others have it only once a day.

In the first week of life, newborns should produce some stool at least once a day. If your baby is not, let her health care provider know. You want to be sure all systems are functioning normally. After a week or two her system will shift into a pattern that works well for her. It is not uncommon for a breastfed baby (3 to 6 weeks of age) to pass stools every few days or only once a week. Formula fed babies, however, should pass stools at least once a day.

If your baby is having irregular bowel movements but her stools are soft (no firmer than peanut butter), this isn’t a sign of constipation. But if your baby’s stools are firm, she seems fussy or cries when having a bowel movement, she might be constipated. At any age, if the stools are large, hard and dry and hurt to pass, or if you see blood on or in the stool, talk to your baby’s health care provider. He may recommend giving her small amounts of water or prune juice.

In toddlers and older children, aside from increasing the amount of water they drink, you may need to add more high-fiber foods to their diet – foods like apricots, prunes, plums, peas, beans, broccoli and whole-grain cereals and breads. Back off foods that can tend to bind you up like bananas, white rice and plain white bread.

Tackling infant mortality through innovative health education

Friday, September 14th, 2012

PrintToday’s post is written by Sarah Ingersoll, Text4baby Campaign Director, National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition

September marks National Infant Mortality Awareness Month and while millions of families prepare their children for a new school year, this is also a time to reflect on the thousands of families who have lost a child far too soon. The infant mortality rate (6 in 1,000 live births) in the U.S. is one of the highest among developed nations and rates are much higher within the African-American community, regardless of income, educational level, or location. More than twice as many African-American babies die compared to their White counterparts during the first year of life, statistics that reflect a true health crisis in our country.

We know that providing mothers with the best possible information and access to care can help. This is where text4baby comes in. Text4baby is the nation’s first free text messaging service for pregnant women and mothers of infants under age one. Moms receive three text messages every week, timed to their due date or baby’s birth date, throughout pregnancy and up to baby’s first birthday. Moms get information on labor signs and symptoms, developmental milestones, breastfeeding, car seat and sleep safety, and many other topics. To sign up, textBABYto511411.

In honoring Infant Mortality Awareness Month and striving to empower more moms with text4baby, those who sign up between September 1 and September 30 will be entered to win a year’s supply of baby products courtesy of the program’s Founding Sponsor, Johnson & Johnson. Sign up now and be sure to share with your friends and loved ones!

Learn more at http://text4baby.org/. Follow up on Facebook and twitter (@mytext4baby)!

What is eczema?

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Eczema is a long-term skin condition that involves red, scaly, itchy patches and sometimes blisters. Eczema isn’t really one thing – it’s actually a number of different skin conditions in which the skin is red and irritated. The most common cause of eczema is atopic dermatitis, sometimes called infantile eczema, although it occurs in older children as well as infants.

Children who get eczema usually are overly sensitive to allergens in their environment such as pollens, molds, dust, animal dander, and certain foods. They often have a family history of allergies. Although eczema may not be caused by allergies, their hypersensitive skin reacts when exposed to an irritant.

The most common place for eczema to first show on an infant is on the cheeks or forehead. From there it may spread to behind the ears and down the neck. The skin can have tiny blisters or look dry and scaly, almost as if there were a salty crust to it. As a baby ages, the most common places to find eczema are creases in the elbows and behind the knees.
 
Eczema is a chronic disease. You can prevent some types of eczema by avoiding irritants, stress, and the things you are allergic to. Use soap as little as possible because of its drying effect on the skin. Keep bath water warm, not hot. The most important thing to do to help the skin irritation is to apply a plain skin moisturizer (no alcohol, fragrances or dyes) several times a day. Your pharmacist can recommend a good one.

In older babies and children who are eating a variety of solid foods and have severe eczema, a health care provider may want to experiment by eliminating foods and tracking reactions. (You shouldn’t withhold foods on your own, however, without coordinating this first with your child’s provider.) For very rough, raw patches, a mild hydrocortisone cream may be prescribed. Sometimes an antihistamine is helpful in reducing the itchiness.

If you’re having trouble getting your child’s eczema under control, take a look at this interactive Eczema Health Check.

For photos of eczema and more information, click on this link.

Virginia Apgar and prematurity

Monday, July 16th, 2012

virginia-apgar21The Apgar Score is well-known, even to those with only passing familiarity of hospital delivery rooms and birthing centers. Yet to summarize Virginia Apgar’s entire career in the scoring system that measures a baby’s heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, reflexes, and color is much like trying to scale Mount Everest from one’s backyard. True, the Apgar Score is a standard clinical procedure that protects the lives of babies, but how does it fit in with Dr. Apgar’s other achievements?

Virginia Apgar, MD (1909-1974) was an obstetrical anesthesiologist who joined the March of Dimes to expand her outreach as an advocate for mothers and babies. She became a pivotal figure in helping to redirect our mission to birth defects prevention in the 1960s. In fact, she was the first medical leader at the March of Dimes to recognize prematurity as a serious problem that demanded a strengthened focus on the importance of early prenatal care.

At a time when fetal monitors were not yet invented and babies were given scant attention after delivery, Dr. Apgar questioned how best to evaluate the newborn infant to improve health and survival rates. With years of experience observing the effects of anesthesia on mother and child, she created a simple five-point scoring method designed to focus attention on the newborn to check its vital signs. Later, at the March of Dimes, she initiated a program for rubella immunization and insisted on making genetic history and pregnancy history a routine part of medical record-keeping on the pregnant mother. And, she always believed it a primary responsibility to remove the stigma of birth defects in her educational outreach.

In 1960, less than a year after joining the March of Dimes, Dr. Apgar participated in a prematurity prevention symposium in Pittsburgh. Thereafter, she continued to educate both the medical and lay communities about prematurity as she brought the problem to the forefront of her work to prevent birth defects. The Apgar Score, as the first clinical method to recognize the newborn as a patient, stimulated research in the prevention of birth defects, but Dr. Apgar’s larger achievement included a holistic perspective on pregnancy and infant health that did not fail to recognize the problem of premature birth. One could easily say that Virginia Apgar was the “founder” of prematurity as an essential part of the March of Dimes mission.

Virginia Apgar was an irrepressible and charismatic champion for babies whose wit and lively personality captivated everyone she encountered in her constant quest for improvements to infant health. She was a caring, enthusiastic physician with super-abundant energy, and she was always ready to explain to anyone who would listen why it is so important “to be good to your baby before it is born.”

Newborn care: sleeping tips

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

In this video, Dr. Siobhan Dolan visits a new mom to give her tips on how to put her newborn to sleep.