Posts Tagged ‘infant health’

Thirdhand smoke is dangerous

Monday, July 7th, 2014

child on floorThirdhand smoke, the residue left behind in a room where someone has smoked, is harmful to your child.

You have heard how smoking can negatively affect your pregnancy by causing birth defects and nearly doubling your risk for preterm birth. You may also know about the harmful effects of secondhand smoke on your health and that of your children.

What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the residual chemicals and nicotine left on surfaces by tobacco smoke. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that a few days or weeks after a cigarette is smoked, particles remain on all types of surfaces. Thirdhand smoke can be found anywhere – on the walls, carpets, bedding, seats of a car, your clothing, and even in your child’s skin and hair. Long after someone has stopped smoking, thirdhand smoke is present. Infants and children can inhale, ingest and touch things that result in exposure to these highly toxic particles.

Thirdhand smoke can be just as harmful as secondhand smoke and can lead to significant health risks. The AAP says that children exposed to smoke are at increased risk for multiple serious health effects including asthma, respiratory infections, decreased lung growth, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The residue left from smoking builds up over time. Airing out rooms or opening windows will not get rid of the residue. In addition, confining smoking to only one area of the home or outside will not prevent your child from being exposed to thirdhand smoke.

There are ways you can limit or prevent thirdhand smoke. AAP recommends:

• Hire only non-smoking babysitters and caregivers.

• If smokers visit your home, store their belongings out of your child’s reach.

• Never smoke in your child’s presence or in areas where they spend time, including your home and car.

• If you smoke, try to quit. Speak with your child’s pediatrician or your own health care provider to learn about resources and support.

The only way to fully protect against thirdhand smoke is to create a smoke-free environment. For more information on how to quit smoking, visit


Teach grandparents about pertussis

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

crying-babyThe Sounds of Pertussis ® Campaign’s new online resource Grandparents’ Corner is here! Check out this customized resource developed in part by leading Grandparent Expert Dr. Arthur Kornhaber to help grandparents learn more about the important role they play in helping to keep their families happy, healthy and protected from pertussis.

Pertussis leads to coughing and choking that can last for several weeks. Babies who catch pertussis can get very sick, and some may die. Most deaths from pertussis happen in babies less than 4 months old. If your parents or in-laws are helping to care for your children, they need to know how to help protect them from pertussis.

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.”