Posts Tagged ‘risk’

World BD day gets word out globally

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Sick babyThe twitter-sphere was all aglow yesterday for the first-ever World Birth Defects Day. In fact, 6,154,146 people were reached worldwide! Yup. It’s not a typo.

Twelve leading global organizations including the March of Dimes, along with scores of other foundations, hospitals, health care providers, government agencies, parents and individuals with birth defects took to Twitter to raise awareness. People in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, and individuals from all over the United States participated. As the day progressed, #worldbdday tweets continually popped up on my computer screen. In case you missed it, here is a snapshot of important messages.

Birth defects are surprisingly common

Did you know that every 4 ½ minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the US?

In the US, about 1 in 5 babies die before their 1st birthday due to birth defects.

Birth defects affect 1 in 33 infants worldwide.

More than 8 million babies worldwide are born each year with a serious birth defect.

There are thousands of different birth defects, and about 70% of the causes are unknown.

The most common birth defects are heart defects, neural tube defects and Down syndrome.

In the US, a baby is born with a congenital heart defect every 15 minutes.

More than 300,000 major birth defects of the brain and spine occur worldwide each year.

Many birth defects are discovered after the baby leaves the hospital or within the 1st year of life.

More than 3.3 million children under 5 years of age die from birth defects each year.

Babies who survive & live with birth defects are at an increased risk for long-term disabilities & lifelong challenges.

Early intervention services may help babies w/ BDs; get your child help by starting early.

Birth defects are costly. Financial and emotional costs of birth defects take a toll on families and communities worldwide.

Learn how to decrease your risk of having a baby with birth defects

Taking folic acid before & early in pregnancy can help to reduce the risk for BDs of the brain & spine.

Smoking during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of certain BDs. It’s never too late to quit.

We can’t prevent all birth defects. We CAN prevent FASD! (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders)

FASDs are 100% preventable.

Alcohol can cause your baby to have BDs (heart, brain & other organs). Don’t drink if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.

Being overweight before pregnancy can increase the risk for some birth defects.

Not all BDs are preventable, but women can take steps toward a healthy pregnancy.

Make a PACT: plan ahead, avoid harmful substances, choose a healthy lifestyle, and talk to your doctor.

Raise awareness

Awareness of birth defects & the importance of care for children with these lifelong conditions is key.

The mission of the March of Dimes is to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

March of Dimes has invested more than $50 million in birth defects research in the last 5 years.

Genetics has long been a main theme of March of Dimes research.

MOD grantees have discovered genes that cause or contribute to a number of common birth defects, including fragile X syndrome, cleft lip and palate, and heart defects.

These discoveries pave the way for treatments and preventions for these birth defects.


For more information, email See other topics in the series on Delays and Disabilities- How to get help for your child, here.

Possible link between antidepressants and miscarriage

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

depression-2Researchers from Canada have reported a possible connection between miscarriage and antidepressant drugs. The Canadian Medical Association Journal reported the results of their study on Monday.

But the study was preliminary; more research needs to be done before we know for sure if there is a connection. Also, it’s possible that depression itself, not the medications used to treat it, may increase the risk of miscarriage.

A women who is pregnant and has depression should talk with her health care provider about the risks and benefits of taking medications. The illness itself increases the chances of pregnany complications. So the woman and her provider must carefully consider whether she should or should not take antidepressant drugs. For more information, read the March of Dimes article Depression During Pregnancy.

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine disagrees with CPSC about carrier slings

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) disagrees with the recent statement from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about the suffocation risks posed by baby slings. According to ABM, ring slings, which carry infants in an upright position snug against the parent’s chest, protect the baby’s airway. The organization criticizes CPSC for its “blanket warning about all types of carrier slings.”

ABM also disagrees with CPSC’s advice on how to carry a baby safely. CPSC recommends positioning the infant so that the baby’s head is facing up and clear of the sling and the parent’s body. ABM says this position can be risky for a premature infant because it would not support his neck.

Dr. Arthur Eidelman of ABM recommends this position:

* Baby’s face sideways with cheek against the chest

* Baby’s head slightly extended

* Baby’s body, shoulders and face snug so that the baby can’t move

The ABM Web site has the organization’s full statement about the CPSC warning. ABM is a global organization of physicians dedicated to the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding.

If you are using a sling to carry your baby or are interested in using one, please talk to your child’s health care provider about what is best for your baby.

Warning about sling carriers for babies: Suffocation risk

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Slings have become really popular. You get to hold your baby really close, and baby seems to love them, too. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning about how slings can pose a suffocation risk. There are two types of risks.

Risk 1: In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because their neck muscles are weak. The sling’s fabric can press against the baby’s nose and mouth and block his breathing. If this happens, the baby can suffocate within a minute or two.

Risk 2: If the sling keeps the baby in a curled position, her chin can bend toward her chest. This too can lead to suffocation.

Without enough oxygen, the baby won’t be able to cry for help.

The risk seems to be the greatest for low birthweight babies, babies born prematurely, and babies born with breathing problems. Parents of these babies should ask their baby’s health care provider about whether to use a sling.

If you do use a sling for your baby, keep these safety tips in mind. Be sure the baby’s face isn’t covered and that you can see it at all times. If you nurse your baby in a sling, change the baby’s position after feeding so his head is facing up and is clear of the sling and your body. Check your baby often when she’s in the sling.

Update: The Academy for Breastfeeding Medicine disagrees with CPSC’s recommendation. Go to the March 22 post for more info.

Toys and choking risks: Be careful with balloons

Friday, February 26th, 2010

balloonsEverybody has a favorite toy while growing up. For me, It was a life-sized baby doll. She went with me everywhere! We were real buddies.

We all want kids to have fun toys, educational toys, safe toys, toys that they will remember with love.

We also know that kids sometimes choke on parts or pieces of toys. What can a parent do to lessen this risk? The American Academy of Pediatrics just released a new policy statement that can help.

Did you know? Plastic balloons are one of the most hazardous toys for children. When swallowed, uninflated balloons or pieces of broken balloons can seal the child’s airway so he can’t breathe.

Other toy hazards are small objects that are round or cylindrical, like marbles. Watch out for any toy with small parts that are loose or that could come loose. Small, curious fingers love to pick them up and pop them right into the mouth. Also be aware of toys that belong to older children. Sometimes we focus on the baby’s toys and forget about the other toys and objects in the house. It helps to remember that your child’s airway is smaller than yours.

Do  you have any suggestions on how to reduce choking hazards in your house?

Depression during pregnancy: Acupuncture may help

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

depressionAs many as 1 out of 5 women have depression while they’re pregnant. If you’re pregnant, depression can threaten your health and the health of your baby. The good news: Several different types of treatment, including counseling and medication, can help.

A new study has found that acupuncture may help pregnant women who suffer from major depression, the most serious form of the illness. The study was very small; only 150 women participated. So more research needs to be done to confirm the findings.

For information about the symptoms of depression, see the March of Dimes article. If you think you may have depression, talk to your health care provider right away. Discuss with him or her the various treatments that are available. But don’t start acupuncture or any treatment without first checking with your prenatal care provider.

Hot dogs, serious choking risk for kids

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

hot-dog-2It’s a common thing to do. Take a hot dog and slice it up into small pieces for toddlers to eat. Usually, the little ones can easily pick up the pieces with their small fingers and put them into their mouths.

But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), hot dogs are the food most commonly linked to fatal choking among children. Because they are cylindrical or circular in shape, hot dogs and those cut-up pieces can wedge tightly into the child’s airway, blocking it completely.

And there’s another problem. When you squeeze a hot dog, it compresses and then expands when you let go. So the hot dog piece works like a plug or a cork in the child’s airway.

Today the AAP issued a new policy statement on choking hazards and children. Other foods besides hot dogs can also be risky. They include hard candy, peanuts and other nuts, seeds, whole grapes, raw carrots, apples, popcorn, chunks of peanut butter, marshmallows and chewing gum. Whenever you give your baby solid food, be sure the pieces are very small and that he has swallowed what was in his mouth before.

For more, read the March of Dimes article Starting Your Baby on Solid Foods. On Friday, I’ll write about the choking hazards of coins and toys. Stay tuned.

Fertility pills increase chances of twins and more

Friday, January 15th, 2010

twinsMost of us know the story of Nadya Suleman. She’s the woman in California who had high-tech fertility treatments and wound up having eight babies.

Such sophisticated treatments increase the chances of multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets or more). They also can lead to health problems for mom and babies.

Did you know that fertility pills also increase the risk of mutiples?

If a woman is having trouble getting pregnant, doctors often begin fertility treatment by giving her a prescription for pills. These pills help her body release eggs (ovulate). Some of the names of these types of pills are Clomid, Serophene and clomiphene.

These pills are used much more commonly than high-tech fertility procedures. They probably play a major role in the serious problem of premature birth in the United States. Multiple pregnancy can be riskier for a woman and her babies than a pregnancy with only one baby.

If you are thinking about fertility treatment or are already taking the pills, talk to your doctor to learn more about their risks and benefits.

New study: Herbal products during pregnancy

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Have you taken any herbal products during your pregnancy? Are you tempted to do so? A new national study has found that about 1 out of every 10 women takes some type of herbal product while pregnant.

In the study, ginger was one of the most commonly reported products taken early in pregnancy (probably for nausea). Among some women, herbal teas, including chamomile, were popular throughout pregnancy.

It’s good to remember that there can be safety issues with herbal products. In many cases, we don’t know if they work or if they’re safe for women during pregnancy. Also, manufacturing standards for herbals are weak so they can sometimes contain dangerous ingredients.

The best rule of thumb is to ask your health care provider before taking any herbal product while you’re pregnant.

To learn more, read the March of Dimes article about drugs and herbals during pregnancy. The new study “Herbal Use Before and During Pregnancy” was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Molly and Betsy cribs recalled

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)  has announced the recall of Molly and Betsy cribs made by LaJobi, Inc. The cribs have cut-outs in the end panels that can allow young children to get their heads trapped. This poses a strangulation risk.

This recall was first announced in 2001, but some of the cribs remain in use. For more information, visit the CPSC Web site.