Category Archives: Baby Health
Every week in New Jersey alone, 2,122 babies are born. However, 254 of them are born prematurely and about 176 will be born with low birth weight. 12 of these babies will not get to see their first birthday. In the United States, nearly half a million babies are born prematurely and more than 120,000 will be born with serious birth defects. Every year the March of Dimes helps raise funds for research and outreach programs for those babies who are affected.
As a national organization, the March of Dimes strives to prevent birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. The foundation raises funds for research, education, and advocacy all across the United States and has been doing so for 75 years.
If you are a parent of one or more of the 12,419 babies that were born prematurely in New Jersey this year, you will have benefited from the work of the March of Dimes. A family whose baby is in the NICU can know that their child will receive specialized care, thanks in part to the March of Dimes organization. Thanks to support from other companies, the March of Dimes is making progress in reducing the rate of premature birth.
The Middlesex County March for Babies hopes to help raise funds and awareness. The goal of the walkathon is to raise $100,000. The March for babies is held in 778 communities across the United States and involves more than 7 million people every year. It is a great event for a great cause. The Middlesex County March for Babies will be held on April 28th at Johnson Park, in Piscataway.
As your child starts to get older they will stop using breast milk and formula and start eating solid foods. Many parents are making their only baby food and freezing it to save money and give their kids more natural foods. However, jarring your won baby food in bulk can make the contents hard to figure out and when you made it will be impossible to remember. Creating chalkboard lids for the jars is a creative way to keep track of the contents and when you made them.
Making chalkboard lids for your baby food is great whether you made the food yourself or purchased them at the store. You might have multiple children and one may have a food allergy. By having the ability to write the contents on the lid you will never give your child the wrong food. If you bought the baby food at the store, the chalkboard lid will give you the ability to write when you opened it, so you will never feed your children old food. Here is how you make the chalkboard lids:
• Chalkboard Spray Paint
• Baby food glass jars and lids
• Chalk Ink food-safe non-toxic washable markers
• Double sided tape
• cardboard box
Step One: Cut one side of the cardboard box to make a three-sided spraying booth. Place double sided tape on the bottom of the box and place the lids on top – this will keep them from blowing around while being sprayed.
Step Two: Carefully spray fine coats of chalkboard spray paint, building up layers as you go. **Be sure to avoid spraying the inside of the lids if one should flip over.**
Step Three: Write on the lids using the chalk ink marker. Hand wash the lids using a damp cloth when you wish to write something new on them. Over time the lids can chip a bit. Re-spray them as needed.
The chalkboard lids will save you money, save the environment by recycling, and provide clear labels for all of your children’s food.
Although the direct association between sugar and hyperactivity has been debunked, another issue has arisen in recent years: Just how much sugar should a child receive? High levels of added sugar in a diet have been correlated with increased risks of obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, and breakfast cereals geared toward children, some of which are 56-percent sugar by weight, certainly don’t help.
A March 2012 piece from the May Clinic indicates that, while children consume less than they used to, 16 percent of their daily calories, on average, come from added sugars, including honey, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, and any other non-naturally occurring sugar products. Ideally, just five to 15 percent of a child’s diet should be from added sugars.
The Mayo Clinic further indicates that most of these calories are consumed at home – not in school, as programs like Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution get many to believe. In response, it ultimately comes down to the parents to determine how much sugar a child consumes. So, what should you consider?
Sugar Levels: Preschoolers should have no more than 170 calories per day, and 4 through 8 years olds no more than 130 calories per day.
Always Read Nutrition Labels: Because labels seldom have “sugar” and may have, instead, a product like “anhydrous dextrose” or “corn syrup solids” added, parents should check all labels for added sugars before buying.
Watch What They Eat: Also contrary to previous notions, sugar mostly comes from foods consumed, rather than beverages. In either case, opt for whole grains instead of white or starchy foods, and choose water and unflavored milk over juices and sodas. Additionally, check “healthy” seeming foods, such as yogurts, for high amounts of added sugar. Although sweets shouldn’t fully be cut from your children’s diet, limit treats and desserts down to just once a week.
Reported last week, a Mississippi baby born with HIV two years ago has been “functionally” cured. While the child has not been identified, he or she no longer displays signs of infection, despite not taking medications for a year. Although the child is not officially cured, if the baby remains healthy, he or she will be the second person in the world cured from the virus.
With the findings announced at the 2013 Conference on Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta, the study found that the child was diagnosed at birth, without the mother receiving prior prenatal care or HIV treatment. In 30 hours after birth, he or she was transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center for antiretroviral treatment, and eventually, doctors prescribed three aggressive drugs.
The child’s viral load, upon birth, was high but then decreased in the first month. Although he or she continued to receive care until 12 to 15 months of age, doctors lost touch with the mother; the child, as a result, was no longer on medication. At 23 weeks, however, the baby was examined again, and at the time, the viral loads were still undetectable.
Although a notable and likely rare case, this instance, the New York Times points out, is not as clear cut as HIV-infected to cure. Multiple factors must still be resolved. First, as the mother never received treatment in pregnancy, which can stop the spread of the virus to the child, researchers must prove the baby was born infected and that treatment didn’t simply block the child from absorbing the infection. Second, researchers must also find out that the treatment – far more aggressive than what is typically administered – didn’t simply produce exceptional results. Should both of these be determined, however, the treatment could end up being used globally.
- HIV has been cured in a child for the first time (io9.com)
- A Newborn May Be Cured of HIV. Is the End of AIDS Near? (healthland.time.com)
- EPIC WIN OF THE DAY: Baby Born With HIV…IS CURED! (allhiphop.com)
Low birth weights, often associated with premature babies, are a significant concern for parents. An international study published recently reveals that areas with higher concentrations of smog, or particulate pollution, are correlated with this risk.
Smog can originate from a vehicle, coal power plant, or similar source, but certain regions control and regulate it better than others. The published study involved analyzing data from 3 million births in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, with low birth weights constituting any child born under 5.5 pounds. Although there is no cause-and-effect relationship, the results found that children born in areas with higher concentrations of such pollution were more likely to have been underweight.
About the results, Tracey Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, stated: “What’s significant is that these are air-pollution levels to which practically everyone in the world is commonly exposed. These microscopic particles, which are smaller than the width of a human hair, are in the air that we all breathe.”
While the U.S. has tighter regulations regarding smog than other parts of the world, quickly-developing countries, such as China, do not have such standards in place. Also involved in the study, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Spain, stated about this concern: “From the perspective of world health, levels like this are obviously completely unsustainable.”
A long list of health concerns follow children born in this weight range. Although some end up healthy, others, early on, have greater risks of respiratory distress syndrome, intraventricular hemorrhage, patent ductus arteriosis, necrotizing enterocolitis, and retinopathy of prematurity. Later on, children that survive are prone to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Exposure to Smog in Early Pregnancy Linked to Complications (oddonion.com)
- Exposure to Smog in Early Pregnancy Linked to Complications (nlm.nih.gov)
- Exposure to pollution linked to low birth weight (ktrmurali.wordpress.com)
Last week, news of a Dolce & Gabbana baby perfume set the blogosphere on fire. Such a product’s uselessness, marketing techniques, and safety were called out, but in writing about it, Forbes indicated that this typically-European item is part of a luxury baby products trend, one that grew 8.6 percent from 2000 to ’12 and is predicted to increase an additional 7.6 percent by 2016. Additionally, the magazine pointed out, Dolce & Gabbana isn’t the first to make baby perfume; Johnson & Johnson, Bulgari, and Burberry already have such products.
What does this scent smell like? Honey, citrus, and musk. According to marketing copy, the combination is meant to replicate and enhance a baby’s natural smell: “How can babies smell even sweeter than they already do? That familiar smell associated with babies that melts our hearts will only be accentuated by this Dolce&Gabbana fragrance.”
What’s next? Baby cosmetics to enhance a child’s already-delicate features?
Forbes goes onto highlight the concerns associated with baby perfumes, including a U.S. loophole that does not require fragrance manufacturers to disclose all ingredients. In several cases, according to a 2010, chemical DEP – associated with developmental issues – has been found in perfumes and scented products.
Blog Fashionista, in investigating this phenomenon, interviewed Frederick Bouchardy, the founder of Joya Perfumes. While explaining such products have already been around for several years in Europe, Bouchardy went onto say that adult’s and children’s scents are similarly-designed and meant for bonding: “I think it’s supposed to be a shared experience–mom and child are meant to smell the same.”
The only difference, at least when it comes to European products, is the use of alcohol; baby perfumes typically do not add it as an ingredient. Additionally, Bouchardy pointed out, several baby products already have fragrances included.
Where do you stand on the issue of baby perfume? Is it unnecessary, something parents should be concerned about, or an issue that’s not such a big deal?
Flame retardants, added to polyurethane foam in mattresses, furniture, and even car seats, have previously come under fire in California before. However, as of February 8, state lawmakers revealed a plan to remove these toxic substances from such products.
Especially for sofas and crib mattresses, flame retardants added to foam eventually leach out, ending up in the dust of a home. Although both adults and children breathe them in, babies have a greater propensity of putting objects in their mouths. As the result of a 2011 study show, babies were found to have three times the level of fire retardant chemicals in their systems compared to adults.
In adults and children, PBDEs – the flame retardant chemicals – are associated with cancer, developmental issues, and fertility problems.
The proposed California legislation is predicted to go into effect later in 2013, but not after more testing. As the Chicago Tribune reported, upholstery, according to Technical Bulletin 117, must resist a hot cigarette. Furniture makers have since explained that toxic flame retardant chemicals not are necessary for this type of safety, and can design products that withstand the 12-second exposure time but not do contain PBDEs. About this, Arlene Blum, a University of California at Berkeley chemist, told the press: “Everybody will be healthier if we can have increased fire safety without toxic flame retardants.”
Parents aware of these hazards have sought out organic baby products. Especially as a young child is known to sleep for 70 percent of its life, a mattress, as well as any car seat or bassinet, is recommended to be as chemical-free as possible.
Naturepedic mattresses have been one of the alternatives in this regard. Without toxic fire retardants added, such mattresses are known to be made fully out of organic cotton, or rubber in some cases. Although more expensive, Naturepedic crib mattresses, with a dual-sided design, guard against infant accidents and last once a child grows older. All such products by this brand are Certified Organic.
- My Toxic Couch’s Days Are Numbered: New Furniture Flammability Standard Proposed. (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Cancer-linked chemical found in mattresses (upi.com)
- Calif to publish new flame retardant regulations (sacbee.com)
Even in a progressive country like the United States, postpartum depression carries a stigma – a mother doesn’t care and isn’t vigilant with her child and instead displays signs of mental weakness. But assumptions and distrust of mental health aside, postpartum depression occurs through all income strata, and not only does it influence a parent’s early bonding with a child, it also affect’s a child’s health as well, especially in low-income areas.
A Voice of America piece details the struggles of Ghanaian women with postpartum depression, which, as the article notes, is not identical to the “baby blues.” Because the parent is less able to take care of herself, the child ends up suffering in the process. The parent-child bond, however, isn’t the only negatively-impacted factor; instead, possible neglect spreads to a baby’s heath, resulting in growth and disease concerns. Beyond not taking care of herself and the child, a mother’s symptoms may be more extreme, such as suicidal thoughts in some cases.
As MarchofDimes.com points out, multiple factors point to a mother’s propensity for developing postpartum depression. These include having a child young (under 20 years of age); having a family history of mental illness; experiencing depression or other mood disorders in the past; going through stressful events; and hormonal changes resulting from pregnancy or a thyroid condition. The symptoms for the condition are many and can be read in detail here.
Putting aside the stigma, mothers are advised to seek treatment for the condition. Voices of America points out that counseling and psychiatric services are few in Ghana; however, the United States and other western nations have a greater pool of resources in this regards. Possible options, depending upon insurance, may include counseling or therapy, support groups, or medication.
The latest baby products to be recalled by the CPSC are baby seats from Fisher-Price. With the complaint and recall revealed on January 8, CPSC mentioned 800,000 seats purchased since September 2009 can possibly grow mold.
Since the seat came on the market, CPSC received 600 reports of mold on the Rock ‘N Play Infant Sleepers. Out of this amount, 16 children were treated for respiratory issues, such as coughing and hives.
Nevertheless, not all seats have developed mold, and parents are suggested to check under the cushions. As the CPSC pointed out in its report, mold may form between the cushions and the frame, particularly if the seat is wet or not cleaned regularly. Although other recalled products may have a replacement kit to order, parents have the option of contacting the manufacturer for cleaning instructions.
For parents looking for baby seats, keep in mind that the Rock ‘N Play Infant Sleepers are still in stores. Nevertheless, baby retailers often have several options for infant seats, be it for movement and activity, sleeping, or practice sitting up. From retailer Dada Baby Boutique, for instance, options for infant seats range from this Haba Airplane Swing to Moses baskets with stands.
Nevertheless, the Fisher-Price product is far from the only higher-profile baby seat to go through a recall over the past 12 months. As many parents can recall, Bumbo seats, a product designed to help children learn to sit up, has been called out by the CPSC on multiple occasions for fall hazards. Children have been able to slip out of the seats and fall; putting the seat on an elevated surface, such as a counter, table, or sofa, increases the chances of injuries.
- Recall Alert! Fisher-Price Pulls Rock ‘N Play Infant Sleepers (thebump.com)
- Recall: Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘N Play Sleepers (livingrichwithcoupons.com)
- Rock ‘N Play Infant Sleepers recalled due to mold concerns (wtkr.com)
Medical and scientific advances have led to increased infant survival, particularly in the Western world. But, as Reuters pointed out in a recent article, greater survival of premature babies means higher disability rates later on. Will nations, particularly the U.S. and U.K., have enough resources to support such a population?
Premature birth frequently leads to severe health complications, and with increasing survival of children born at and before 27 weeks, the British Medical Journal reported, the need for disability services could be greater in the future. Particularly, children born at this stage are at a larger risk for learning disabilities, lung problems, and cerebral palsy.
One study, of babies born between 22 and 26 weeks in 2006 and of those born between 22 and 25 weeks in 1995, showed that 44 percent of premature births were admitted to intensive care. Survival increased by 13 percent between the groups, except for children born before 24 weeks.
A second study produced similar results. The health of the children born in 2006 was observed three years later and compared with those born in 1995. For the children born in 2006, 11 percent more survived without disabilities. Nevertheless, children from this group were still found to have disabilities, particularly those who were born earlier.
As Reuters points out, premature births are increasing across Europe, with the U.K., the location of both studies, having a particularly high amount. The United States’ premature birth rate is on par with the U.K.’s. Nevertheless, all countries on both sides of the ocean, based on the results from these studies, should consider investing in better disability services for children and adults, especially if survival rates and correlating conditions continue to increase.
What’s your take on the Reuters piece? Is it a strong case for better social services and care?
- Premature baby survival rates on the rise but disability rates unchanged (itv.com)
- Premature baby study shows rise in survival rates (menmedia.co.uk)
- More premature babies surviving than ever (gulfnews.com)