Archive for April, 2009

The New Swine Flu: JUST WASH YOUR HANDS!

The new flu virus that’s going around sounds very scary: spreading from animals to humans and then humans to humans directly, for the first time! News outlets are talking about it nonstop. What’s a parent or pregnanct woman to do? Stay home? Let’s turn to Dr. Jay Gordon, one of the leading pediatricians in the world, to hear what he has to say on the subject:

Just wash your hands.

Every year, hundreds of viruses pass through the pediatric and adult community. Many of the bugs are disruptive and keep kids out of school and adults away from work. Some of the viruses have unique signs and symptoms, but most just cause amorphous aches, sneezing, coughing or intestinal upset.
Influenza viruses, especially new ones, trigger more news stories and can be made to seem much more frightening and dangerous than they really are. Government agencies and media don’t supply statistical context and make it sound like you’ve got a “fifty-fifty” chance of contracting this new virus. They then make it sound like a lot of people who get this influenza end up in the hospital and may die. Statistically, nothing could be further from the truth: The chance that the new virus is really dangerous is small. The chance that you’ll get it is much, much smaller, and the possibility that you or a family member will be harmed by the virus is so slim that the news should be on page twenty, not page one.

Swine Flu is a virus for which there is no vaccine, no threat to your family and there are undoubtedly tens of thousands of harmless undiagnosed cases throughout the world. The news stories are probably taking a hundred questionable respiratory deaths in Mexico and guessing.

There actually is a very, very small chance that this virus could cause severe illness and whenever this occurs hospitalization and even fatalities are reported. The likelihood of a pandemic is miniscule, but newspapers, governments agencies and the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals do their best work and make their biggest sales when people are scared.

Tamiflu is recommended for treatment and prevention of this influenza virus. The company which gets the drug’s royalties (Gilead) has as a major stockholder–previously Chairman–one Donald Rumsfeld.

Local pharmacies are already running low on Tamiflu. Connect these dots:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/governmentFilingsNews/idUKN2445216420090424
http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/tamiflu.asp
http://money.cnn.com/2005/10/31/news/newsmakers/fortune_rumsfeld/
http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSTRE53O17O20090425
http://www.nasdaq.com/aspx/stock-market-news-story.aspx?storyid=200904251215dowjonesdjonline000319&title=who-says-initial-findings-show-swine-flu-responds-to-tamiflu

The usual boring admonitions apply: wash your hands, stay well-rested and well-hydrated. You do not need to buy Tamiflu. It is an effective antiviral drug but has possible side effects.
http://health.howstuffworks.com/health-illness/treatment/medicine/medications/tamiflu-psych.htm

Best,
Jay
JNG, MD FAAP
http://www.drjaygordon.com

Thank you Dr. Jay for some common sense advice! Hope everybody stays safe and healthy during this latest flu outbreak.

VBAC Is the New Black! Why VBAC Is Making a Comeback

One of the mommies featured in our Pea in the Podcast on VBACs is pregnant again! Yay! Kim’s story of her succesful vaginal birth after a c section is inspiring, and here’s hoping she has another successful VBAC.

If you’re interested in trying for a VBAC, the International Cesarean Awareness Network website is loaded with information for you, including a checklist that will get you started.

But of course the first place you should go is to Pea in the Podcast to hear Kim’s story. I would be proud of her even if she hadn’t been one of my best friends since second grade! :)

To be clear, if Kim has another c-section, that would not be the end of the world. I will be just as proud of her. Having a healthy baby is the most important thing, no matter how they’re delivered! Sometimes a c-section is necessary. That’s how my girl got here!

If you’re pregnant for the first time, VBAC is not one of the millions of things you will have to consider before your baby’s birthday. However, you may want to prepare yourself for the possibility that you might have a c-section, no matter what you’ve planned (I planned a peaceful natural childbirth, in dim room with soft music and liberal use of the birthing suite’s jacuzzi tub). To familiarize yourself with what would happen should you end up giving birth to your baby with the help of a surgeon, please check out our Pea in the Podcast on cesarean sections.

-Bonnie

You Are What Your Mother Eats!

New research has surfaced that you are what your mother ate back when she was pregnant with you, suggesting that diet is a vital part of a healthy pregnancy and life for your little one.
In this research report, scientists from the University of Utah show that rat fetuses receiving poor nutrition in the womb become genetically primed to be born into an environment lacking proper nutrition. They were also at higher risk for a host of health problems throughout their lives, such as diabetes, growth retardation, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and neurodevelopmental delays, among others.
Yes, the study was done on rats but the genes and cellular mechanisms involved are the same as those in humans.
According to Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “The jury’s in and, yes, expectant moms really are eating for two. This study shows not only that we need to address problems such as preeclampsia during pregnancy, but also that prenatal care is far more important than anyone could have imagined a decade ago.”
So, take these 9 (10) months seriously and eat well! It will pay off in spades for your baby and yourself.
Listen to our show all about how you can eat well. Guests include:
  • Dr. Michael Broder wrote the book The Panic Free Pregnancy. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Dr. Laurie Moyer-Mileur is a nutritionist and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah. She is also the Director of the Center for Pediatric Nutrition Research
  • Cynthea Denise is a Prenatal Yoga Instructor and a Registered Nurse in Oakland, California

Testing Your Thyroid Can Be Important During Pregnancy

The New York Times came out with an acrticle today about the risks associated with thyroid malfunctions during pregnancy. the gland makes hormones that govern metabolism, helping to regulate body weight, heart rate and a host of other factors.

Your thyroid is the gland that makes hormones that control your metabolism, helping to regulate body weight, heart rate and a host of other factors. During pregnancy, having an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) may lead to miscarriage, premature birth and pre-eclampsia — and in the case of hypothyroidism, impaired intelligence in the child.

Thyroid porblems can easily go undetected so doctors are debating whether a universal thyroid function test should be standard procedure for a pregnant woman.

Currently, the American Thyroid Association does not suggest a universal thyroid function test for pregnant women however they are holding a symposium this Thursday and Friday in Washington to discuss the most recent research.

According to the New York Times, symptoms of a wayward thyroid can be subtle, and pregnancy can mask them. Fatigue, weight gain and dry skin — all typical in pregnant women — can also result from hypothyroidism, said Dr. Alex Stagnaro-Green, an endocrinologist at Touro University College of Medicine in Hackensack, N.J.

The opposite condition, hyperthyroidism, affects roughly 2 in 1,000 pregnancies. But again, its symptoms — poor sleep, weight loss and nervousness after childbirth — could result from other postpartum conditions.

Hypothyroidism, which usually arises from underlying autoimmune disease, is the more frequent and worrisome concern. As many as 10 to 20 percent of reproductive-age women test positive for antibodies that attack the thyroid gland and may eventually destroy it. Their risk of miscarriage is doubled.

Three to five out of 1,000 women of childbearing age suffer from overt hypothyroidism, in which thyroid hormone, or T4, is low and T.S.H. is abnormally high. But the most common thyroid dysfunction is subclinical hypothyroidism, in which T4 is normal but T.S.H. is slightly elevated. That condition affects 2 to 3 percent of women but often goes undiagnosed when it causes no obvious symptoms.

Hypothyroidism may harm fetal brain development. Ten years ago, researchers in Maine analyzed blood samples from 25,216 pregnant women and identified 62 with hypothyroidism. Their children, by then 7 to 9 years old, were given intelligence tests. Nineteen percent of the children born to women with an untreated underactive thyroid had an I.Q. of 85 or lower, compared with 5 percent of those whose mothers had a healthy thyroid. “At about 85 or below, that’s where you begin to have trouble in school and in life in general,” said Dr. James E. Haddow, a pediatrician at Brown University who was an author of the study. But if mothers had their hypothyroidism treated, their children’s intelligence was not impaired.

Introducing Solid Foods? Forget the Rice Cereal!

You have heard it from your mommy friends, and you may hear it from your pediatrician, but not everyone thinks that when your baby is finally ready for solids, it has to be rice cereal. The conventional wisdom behind that common advice is it’s easily digested and unlikely to sensitize your baby to allergens. These are good things!

Rice cereal is also controversial, particularly if your family has a history of diabetes, and it’s never a good idea if your baby is less than four months old. It’s even controversial if your baby has reflux (scroll to page three).

But some research and pediatricians are suggesting that your baby has many other, much more tempting options available for its first solid meal! This is the very provocative lede to this article…

Ditch the rice cereal and mashed peas, and make way for enchiladas, curry and even – gasp! – hot peppers.

The deal is this, according to those who are smarter than I am…the closer your baby is to six months old, the less likely they are to become sensitized to allergens in what they eat. So the allergy concern addressed by rice cereal becomes moot. Their digestive system is also more mature, so the ease with which a baby can digest rice cereal also becomes irrelevant.

We started solids at about 5 1/2 months with sweet potatoes. Mmmmmmmm….

So how do you know when your baby is ready for solids? Here are some things to look for….

The infant should be able to do the following:

1. Sit with support

2. Have good head and neck control

3. Push up with straight elbows from lying face down

4. Show readiness for varied textures of supplemental foods by placing their hands or toys in their mouth

5. Lean forward and open the mouth when interested in food, and lean back and turn away when uninterested in the food or not hungry

6. Additional skills are necessary before an infant should be allowed to progress to eating finger foods

7. By eight to 10 months, infants begin to have the skills necessary to eat finger foods independently (can sit independently, grasp and release food, chew food (even without teeth), and swallow)

8. By 12 months, fine motor skills improve, allowing the child to grasp pieces of food between two fingers

Also, if you try to feed your baby and they push the food out of their mouth with their tongue, you should hold off for a little while. That’s called the “tongue thrust” reflex, and means they are not quite ready for solids.

When your baby reaches these milestones, and you and your pediatrician have decided on an appropriate first food, it’s time to get out the camera! Those pictures and videos of your baby’s confusion and then possibly delight will be priceless! Yes, it’ll be messy, but that’s part of the charm. Just make sure you put plastic down on the floor lol. You’ll thank me later. :)

BTW!

Don’t forget to check our blog archives. We’ve got great info there for you on things like how a fan may prevent SIDS (scroll to the second post), bed-sharing with your baby, and whether your baby’s birth can be orgasmic. Have fun poking around! I promise our archives aren’t too dusty. ;)
-Bonnie

Choosing Childcare For Your Baby

It’s one of the most excruciating moments many of you will face as a new mother…the day you drop your too-tiny-to-be-away-from-you-for-a-whole-day baby off at daycare, and you return to work. I’m not gonna lie to you. It’s hard. But it can be made marginally easier if you feel really comfortable with the childcare you have chosen.

But how do you choose it? Good question.

Sandy Renick, a Certified Family Life Educator and the Program Project Manager of the Campus Children’s Initiative at the University of North Texas, has a lot of excellent advice. This interview is a little long, but this is an important decision and there’s a lot to consider. Oh, and please forgive the PBS kids in the background lol. I do this blog from home, where I keep a three year old!

Listen to Sandy Renick’s advice on how to choose the best childcare for your family here:

Renick suggests you can make the transition easier for yourself, and your baby, by starting slowly, a couple of weeks before you go to work. You can begin by leaving your baby with the childcare provider you have selected for an hour or two, and then a little longer, and then a little longer, as you prepare yourself for that first full day away. It’s still not going to be fun, but it will not be so sudden.By the way, Renick suggests word of mouth recommendations for infant care are probably the best sources for finding quality care. She says ask neighbors, fellow church members, co-workers, or maybe members of a mother’s support group. She also says your Human Resources Department at work may have a list of providers you can look over.

Renick adds that the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies and Child Care Aware are great resources. Child Care Aware also has more information that may help you pick the best childcare situation for your family here.

About accreditation…Renick says the National Association for the Education of Young Children is the most widely known and has been the forerunner in childcare accreditation. There is much more on accreditation at the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs‘ website.For much more on how to get the most out of the amount of maternity leave you can afford to take, please listen to this Pea in the Podcast, Working While Pregnant.

We tweet! Why not follow us? Pea in the Podcast is now on Twitter!

-Bonnie

The AAP Recommends Rear Facing ‘Til Two

Research has long suggested that it is safest to keep your child rear-facing in their carseat for as long as possible, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics has officially recommended doing so until they are at least two years old. Yay!

The fact of the matter is that in most crashes, if their carseat is forward facing, a baby’s head will snap forward. Before they’re two, their neck muscles simply aren’t strong enough to withstand that kind of force in a violent crash.

The result can be a broken neck.

Toddlers younger than two years old are 75% less likely to die or experience serious injury when rear facing.

Many parents turn their children early because their legs grow longer than the seat. Don’t worry, little ones are generally perfectly comfortable back there with their legs crossed. Some say their child is miserable, so they have to turn them. Try bringing along a box of novel toys or other neat little distractions for your roadtrips. Perhaps some music they really like, too. But please don’t turn them before they’re strong enough.

My daughter was more than two years old before I turned her. I’m so thankful I made that choice, even though we never crashed. Because what if we had? And what if it broke her neck?

What if?

For more on carseat safety, head on over to the AAP’s Car Safety Seats: A Guide for Families 2009.

Drive safely! :)

-Bonnie

The Search For Stem Cells Leads To Your Breasts

Yep, your breasts. Look at that pretty picture for a second. Those are cells in human milk. The stem cells are red and blue, and the adult cells are green.

Amazing!

Not only does that have implications for ongoing research into stem cells and how they might assist in treating several debilitating diseases, but it’s further evidence that human milk is superfood for babies!

Dr. Mark Cregan at the University of Western Australia, who made this discovery, says this demonstrates to him how a new mother’s mammary glands take over from the placenta to provide the development guidance to ensure a baby’s genetic destiny is fulfilled.

Cregan goes on to say…

“(Human milk) is setting the baby up for the perfect development. We already know that babies who are breastfed have an IQ advantage and that there’s a raft of other health benefits. Researchers also believe that the protective effects of being breast fed continue well into adult life.”

That’s pretty exciting, even for someone like me who had supply problems and combo fed (both human milk and cow’s milk formula). Every drop I nursed and pumped mattered! Yay!

For more on how to get ready to nurse your baby, please listen to this Pea in the Podcast:
Breastfeeding: Tips, Hints And Advice To Make It Work For You

AND! Your boobs aren’t the only source of potent stem cells surrounding maternity. Your baby’s umbilical cord blood is a rich source of the stuff!

More info in this Pea in the Podcast:
Cord Blood Banking: What It Is And Do You Need It?

-Bonnie