Is Fido’s flea collar safe?

According to a California study, nearly half of all pregnant women live with pets.  In of itself, having furry loved ones around is not a problem, but what about the use of flea treatments or flea collars?  Of course you can find lots of information regarding feline’s litter boxes and pregnancy, but very little has been made known about whether or not Fido’s flea collar poses a problem.

The best route is to inform your OB/GYN if you are using a specific flea control product so you can be advised as to the specifics of their safety.  Even better is to eliminate the flea products that are potentially categorized in the “high toxic” category in  favor of treatments that contain “boric acid.”  This pesticide is about as harmful as table salt, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  What makes boric acid even more attractive is that these types can be sprinkled onto carpets and other textile surfaces.  The ingredient works to dehydrate the annoying bouncy pests and their eggs, leaving Fido and you pest-free and healthy!

U.S. to Ban Drop-Side Cribs

Pottery Barn Recalled Crib

Pottery Barn Recalled Crib

Heads up, mommies and mommies-to-be! After 153 baby deaths in the past four years, and 9 million drop-side crib recalls over the last five, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted to ban them. This move was inspired by today’s recall of 82,000 Pottery Barn Kids cribs after seven babies were hurt when the drop sides detached or otherwise malfunctioned.

Even if you don’t have a drop-side crib, lots of daycares have them, as well as hotel chains, so this ban is important to note. If you have a drop-side crib, contact the crib’s manufacturer for more info.

Life After Miscarriage: Getting Ready to Try Again

It’s day 3 without caffeine. I’m getting a head start on cutting out the two cups of coffee. I’d rather have withdrawal symptoms now than when I’m pregnant.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ll do differently next time. Cutting out all caffeine is one thing. There are too many conflicting studies out there. Some say that less than 200 milligrams of caffeine is fine. Others say that any caffeine at all causes in increased risk for miscarriage. I’d rather not take any chances.

I’ve also started to take my prenatal vitamins like I was taking my birth control: religiously, not at the same time every day, and with a swig of beer occasionally.

Next time I’m pregnant, I won’t take any baths. Maybe the bath water was too hot. And I won’t go to spinning class. Maybe my heart rate was too high at one point.

Looking at this list, I should probably just start on bed rest the second I test positive. I can’t be too careful can I?

I’ll probably always wonder if I did something to cause the miscarriage. How could I not? Sure, I’ve read all the literature and I’ve heard my doctor say it too: “Most miscarriages that occur before 12 weeks are the result of a chromosomal abnormality and cannot be prevented.” Blah. Blah. Blah.

It would be so much easier to deal with if I could just pinpoint the cause. I’d know not to do “it” again and I’d feel so much better about my sense of control. It would be so much better to hear the doctor say: “Yeah. It was the coffee. Don’t do that again.” Then I would know! And I could control it. But how the heck can I control a chromosomal abnormality?

This pregnancy thing is such a crap shoot. And frankly, with what I know now, I can’t believe there are so many people in the world.

What’s that rash?

As a new parent, you may be extra cautious about what comes next to your baby’s skin.  But even giving your baby the best care possible may not be able to prevent a rash on your little one’s soft skin.  We’ve outlined four of the top infant skin ailments to help you determine what to look for and how to treat it.

 Eczema:  Eczema can appear anywhere on a body but usually doesn’t show up before 3-4 months.  It will usually show up in dry, patchy areas but it can, in worse cases, look like windburn (think red with possible oozing and pus.)  For mild cases, wash the skin with a gentle, fragrance free cleaner and then use generous amounts of moisturizer.  For ongoing or worsening cases, seek a doctor’s advice.

 Prickly Heat: When your little one gets overheated or is exposed to prolonged heat, tiny red bumps that appear on the face, neck, back or bottom.  As temperatures rise, keep your baby’s clothing loose and cool; the rash should fade within 30 minutes of being in a cooler environment.

 Seborrhea: Often known as cradle-cap when its located on the baby’s scalp and eyebrows; but this rash can also appear on the neck, ears, cheeks and chest.  Seborrhea is most common for babies under 6 months of age.  Although no one knows what causes it, there are two easy methods for getting rid of the problem.  Rub a small amount of olive oil on the area to loosen the dry scales or skin then gently brush them off with a baby brush or you can wash the affected area with a small amount of anti-dandruff shampoo.

 Contact Dermatitis: This rash will look like red bumps at the contact site and may itch.  The rash is simply a skin reaction to something your baby came into contact with such as soaps, detergents or even grass.  If the rash looks dry, apply a moisturizer to the area.  If the itching is causing discomfort to baby, talk with your doctor about a hydrocortisone cream.

Exercises to Prepare For Labor

If you are like most women, chances are that by your third trimester, you have lost that honeymoon feeling that enveloped you most of your middle months.  With your growing belly, swollen limbs and a lackluster supply of energy, what’s a mom to do for exercising?   As with any exercise program, it is essential to consult with your medical practioner prior to beginning.  Once you have the green light, here are a few exercises to try at home or at the gym which will help keep you in shape but help your body prepare for delivery.

Exercise #1: Side to Side lunges.

Why we love them: lunges really open up a pregnant woman’s hips and pelvic area, creating a wider cavity for baby to navigate through during the birthing process.  This move also provides stretching for the leg and back muscles.  Place your legs farther than hip’s width apart and hold the back of a chair or table to keep steady.  Sway from side to side, deepening the leg bend gradually (but never more than 90 degrees.)  Think of the movement as really exaggerated slow dancing from junior high!  Train up to 30 lunges on each side.

Exercise #2: Wall crouches.

Why we love them: similar to the side lunges, wall crouches help open up the pelvic cavity as well.  This is an extremely great exercise to perform the last couple of weeks and is especially helpful in preparing the pelvic floor.  For moms to be who have back complications, this exercise is heaven for the back!  Slide down a wall until your crouched down a the bottom.  Try to get your knees pointed slightly outwards like a ballerina plie, keeping your feet flat to the floor.  (Try to think of how young children can crouch on the ground to examine a bug; that is the crouch you are going for!)  Hold for up to five minutes.

Questions After Miscarriage: Where Do I Find Support?

Between social mediums like Facebook and Twitter and websites like Craigslist and MeetUp, connecting with people who have similar interests and experiences has never been easier. Don’t believe me? Head on over to Meetup.com and try this experiment. Search for “working moms.” There are more than 3000 groups worldwide that meet under that topic. Now try “stay at home moms.” More than 4000 groups meeting!

Try this same experiment with “pregnancy loss” and you’ll likely receive the same message I did: “Sorry, no matches found for ‘pregnancy loss’ within 100 miles of your zip code.” Well I’ll be darned.

Not having luck with finding local support groups, I decided to head to a bookstore to look for books about coping with pregnancy loss.

The woman at the service desk in Barnes and Noble looked nice enough and I thought I could trust her with my secret so I said, “I’m looking for books about miscarriage.” I waited for her to grimace or flinch under the weight of that awful word. I had imagined her look of pity. Instead, I got nothing. I might as well have asked her where I could find the dictionary section.

She led me to the back, far corner of the bookstore. I followed her thinking, “How appropriate. A corner where I can browse through my tears for the perfect book on how to cope with the loss of my unborn child.”

The section also had books about other taboo subjects like menopause and anxiety. We were able to find exactly one book. One. “Really?” I asked. “There’s no other section? Maybe near the family planning area?” She offered to go check the inventory while I stood there and scoured the shelf thinking maybe she missed it.

For all of the information on conception and pregnancy, there is a fraction of information available on the topic of miscarriage. A search for pregnancy books on Amazon yielded nearly 24,000 results. A search for miscarriage books yielded 901.

The woman came back and said, “I can order one for you.” I declined.

At home I logged into my local library website, something I was avoiding because I have overdue fines from the prenatal yoga DVDs I checked out and was late returning. The library carried a small selection of books (more than I thought they would considering it’s not a well-funded or large library). “Oh good,” I thought, clicking on the first title.

“Due on May 13,” flashed on the screen.

“What? Whaaaat?” I clicked on the next title. “Due on May 13.” The third title: “Due on May 13.”

The library had 3 books and they were checked out! There was a woman, somewhere in my locality, who had checked out these books. Where is she? Who is she? Will she be my friend?

Desperate for a connection, to hear from other women who have been through this experience, I continue to search for local support groups and to lurk on online pregnancy loss boards. I have what seems like thousands of questions. When? What did you do? How long did you? What did your doctor say? What were your HCG levels? How long did it take you to? How did you? Who did you? What did she say? What about?

I don’t know where I’ll find my answers, or my comfort for that matter. It just seems that I shouldn’t have to look so hard.

Vitamin D Deficiency

I have been doing a lot of reading about Vitamin D lately, and was shocked to find deficiency is thought to be pandemic. I was also surprised to find Vitamin D is more than just your garden variety vitamin. It works more like a hormone, which has many implications for your pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes, Pre-Eclampsia, C-sections…most of those pregnancy complications we are working so hard to avoid *may* be linked – in some cases – to Vitamin D deficiency.

I’ve recently added it to my regimen, and I’m not even pregnant! My daughter is getting a little extra, too!
Don’t wait -talk to your doctor as soon as possible about this and see what they say. In the meantime, a little bottle of d3 might be worth the investment.

Some natural sources of Vitamin D include:

  • Fatty fishes, such as  salmon, Sardines, Tuna, and Fish liver oils
  • Whole eggs
  • Mushrooms

Visit MayoClinic.com for more information about Vitamin D deficiency.

How Will The Health Care Bill Affect My Pregnancy?

The recent passing of the health care bill has been big news this week. While there are those who are thrilled with the news and those who are less than excited, one thing remains true – in form or another, this bill will have an affect on every person in some form or another. However, it can be hard to cut through all of the excess and figure out the hard facts.

A question many pregnant women are facing today is:

How will the health care bill affect my pregnancy?

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, has been quoted saying that the bill features help for women’s health care issues: “It’s personal for women. After we pass this bill, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing medical condition.”

Immediate Effects For Women:

  • Insurance companies will no longer be able to charge higher premiums on the basis of gender.
  • All health plans will also now be required to cover maternity and newborn care, as well as pediatric services expanded to include dental and vision care.
  • Medicaid will expand services to pregnant women and new mothers, offering more family planning services, home visiting programs and postpartum education and support.
  • Working moms will also get a boost, as employers will be required to offer breaks and space for nursing mothers to pump breast milk.

Read more about how the health care bill affects women at Forbes.com.

Check out The Washington Post for a calculator to find out how the health bill will affect your health care costs.

3 of 5 Brand-Name Sunblocks Don’t Protect The Skin From Sun Damage Sufficiently

One of our favorite sites, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), has recently released a study about the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of major sunscreens. This is a must-read before you head to the pool or beach with your kids.

Basically, sunscreens are improving but three of five brand-name products either don’t protect the skin from sun damage sufficiently, contain hazardous chemicals, or both.

“I’d give the industry a C minus,” says Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president for research. “They have moved from a D to a C-minus in my book.” Overall, however, she says the industry is “not doing enough to protect consumers from UVA radiation.”

This year’s report is the third annual from EWG, which investigated 1,572 sunscreens, lip balms, and daily moisturizers with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, typically the minimum recommended. To type in your brand and see how it rates visit: http://www.ewg.org/cosmetics/report/sunscreen09

Among the failings of the sunscreen products and industry, according to EWG:
-Only 5% of products overall met their criteria for safety and sunscreen effectiveness — and that includes blocking UVA and UVB, maintaining stability, and having no or few ingredients with health hazards.
-Product claims are overstated, promising such things as “all day” protection.
-Many spray and powder products contain tiny “nano-scale” ingredients that could be absorbed more easily in the lungs and cause problems.

After digging around their site a bit we found our favorite brand, the California Baby Stick Sunblock, has one of the highest ratings for coverage and safety. You can find their products at Target.

Scientists from EWG developed a “best” list for sunscreens, lip balms, and moisturizers (the full list is here):

On the 10 best sunscreens list (many sold online):
Soleo Organics Sunscreen Organic chemical-free sunscreen, SPF 30+
Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30
UV Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
Mexitan Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40
California Baby Sunscreen Lotion No Fragrance, SPF 30+
Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+
Kabana Skin Care Green Screen Organic Sunscreen, SPF 22, Skin Tone Tinted
Obagi Nu-Derm Physical UV Block, SPF 32
Elta MD UV Physical, SPF 41.

On the top 10 lip balm list:
Fallene cotz LipCotz, Ultra High Sun Protection, SPF 45
Jane Iredale LipDrink, SPF 15
Badger Lip Balm, SPF 15
Caribbean Blue-natural basics Lip Shield, SPF 15
Shady Day Shady Kiss Lip Balm, SPF 30
Bare Escentuals Lip Guard, SPF 15
Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Lip Butter, SPF 15, Pure Vanilla, SPF 15
Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm Lemon & Chamomile, SPF 25
Rx Suncare Lip Balm Sunblock, SPF 45
Crabtree & Evelyn Naturals Protective Lip Balm, SPF 8, Cocoa butter & Cardamom

And the top 10 SPF moisturizers, according to EWG:
Keys Soap Solar Rx Cosmetic Moisturizing sunblock, SPF 30
Marie Veronique Organics Crème de Jour Tinted, SPF 30,no nanoparticles
Devita International Daily Solar Protective Moisturizer 30
SanRe Organic Skinfood Supple Sunshine, Organic Rosemary and Lavender Day Creme (Dry to Normal), SPF 30
Lotus Moon Sage Sun Protective Crème, SPF 25
Institut Dermed Sun Protective Cream Oil Free, Untinted, SPF 28
N.V. Perricone M.D., Targeted Care Solar Protection Face with DMAE, SPF 26
Sue Devitt Promarine Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 30, Capri
Sun Science Organic Daily Wear, SPF 30
Karen’s Botanical Lovely Lavender Cream, SPF 15

Among the 339 sunscreens not recommended are:
Coppertone NutraShield, Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock, SPF 30
Huggies Little Swimmers Sunscreen, Moisturizing Blue Melon Splash
Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas: Complete Block Spray, SPF 26
CVS Sport Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30

And don’t forget to use ENOUGH of the product! Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15-30 minutes BEFORE going outdoors. When using sunscreen, be sure to apply it to all exposed areas and pay particular attention to the face, ears, hands and arms. Coat the skin liberally and rub it in thoroughly – most people apply only 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly. Don’t forget that lips get sunburned too, so apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Sunscreens should be re-applied at least every two hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily. Even so-called “water-resistant” sunscreens may lose their effectiveness after 40 minutes in the water. Sunscreens rub off as well as wash off, so if you’ve towel-dried, reapply sunscreen for continued protection.

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.