Your Baby

Fussy Baby: Walking or Rocking Most Calming?

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When your baby cries should you pick him or her up and walk or find a good rocking chair and rock back and forth? A new study from Japan says that infants respond best when mom (or any caregiver) picks them up and walks around.

Researchers said that the babies’ rapidly beating hearts also slowed down, proving that they felt calmer.

"Infants become calm and relaxed when they are carried by their mother” said study researcher Dr. Kumi Kuroda, who investigates social behavior at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Saitama, Japan. Interestingly, the study also observed the same response in baby mice.

For the study, researchers monitored the responses of 12 healthy infants ages 1 month to 6 months. The scientists wanted to discover the most effective way for mothers to calm a crying baby over a 30-second period — simply holding the baby or carrying the infant while walking.

Results showed that infants carried by walking mothers were the most relaxed and soothed compared to babies whose mothers sat in a chair and held them. As a mother stood up with her cradled her baby and started to walk, scientists observed an automatic change in the baby’s behavior.  

These results held even after the researchers took into account other factors, such as the child's age and sex, and the mother's age and walking speed.

Kuroda said she was surprised by the strength of the calming effect. Researchers noted that the rhythm of walking might be more effective in soothing infants than any other rhythmic motion, including rocking.

Babies cry for a variety of reasons. If an infant is hungry or in pain, they’ll most likely start crying again when they are laid back down. But sometimes a baby just feels a little anxious or unsure about their environment and will relax when held close and comforted. Kuroda acknowledged carrying might not completely stop the crying, but it may prevent parents from becoming frustrated by a crying infant.

The findings may also have implications for the parenting technique of letting babies cry in order to help them learn how to “soothe themselves”.

"Our study suggests why some babies do not respond well to the 'cry-it-out' parenting method," Kuroda said.

Babies crying during separation and maternal carrying are both built-in mechanisms for infant survival. These behaviors have been hard-wired for millions of years. "Changing these reactions would be possible as infants are flexible, but it may take time," she said.

While the study looked at a baby’s response to its mother, Kudro said the calming effect was not specific to moms. Dads, grandparents and caregivers were able to provide the same calming effect by carrying the baby and walking

Many moms and dads instinctively know to pick up a baby that’s crying, hold them close, pace around while gently patting baby on the back. This study just points out that if your baby is really upset, walking about may have a faster calming effect than rocking or sitting in a chair.  Plus it adds more evidence that simply ignoring a baby while he or she cries isn’t going to teach them how to soothe themselves. We all need a hug and a gentle pat on the back when we’re upset. Babies need it maybe even a little more.

The study was published online in the journal Current Biology.

Source: Carl Nierenberg, http://www.today.com/moms/carry-study-finds-its-good-

Your Baby

Obese During Pregnancy Linked to Obesity in Offspring

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Not every time, but often, you’ll see obese couples and their kids are either obese or on the threshold of obesity. While adults have the power and the life experience to understand the health issues associated with obesity, their children – depending on their age- are reliant on on their parents making healthy choices for them.  

 Is generational obesity inherited or a case of families making poor choices where food and exercise are concerned – or both?

Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine wondered if children born to obese moms might be predisposed to being obese due to their womb environment.

The team of scientists analyzed stem cells taken from the umbilical cords of babies born to normal weight and obese mothers. In the lab, they coaxed these stem cells to develop into muscle and fat. The resulting cells from obese mothers had 30% more fat than those from normal weight mothers, suggesting that these babies’ cells were more likely to accumulate fat.

No cause and effect was established, but the scientists noted that further research was needed. “The next step is to follow these offspring to see if there is a lasting change into adulthood,” says the lead presenter, Kristen Boyle, in a statement.

She and her colleagues are already studying the cells to see whether they use and store energy any differently from those obtained from normal-weight mothers, and whether those changes result in metabolic differences such as inflammation or insulin resistance, which can precede heart disease and diabetes.

Other studies have found a high correlation between parents’ Body Mass Index (BMI) numbers and their children ‘s BMI, particularly between mothers and their kids. Further, the BMI of grandmother’s and their grandchildren is also high.

What is a healthy weight gain for a pregnant woman? It depends on how much you weigh before getting pregnant.

The guidelines for pregnancy weight gain are issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM); most recently in May 2009. Here are the most current recommendations:

•       If your pre-pregnancy weight was in the healthy range for your height (a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9), you should gain between 25 and 35 pounds, gaining 1 to 5 pounds in the first trimester and about 1 pound per week for the rest of your pregnancy for the optimal growth of your baby.

•       If you were underweight or your height at conception (a BMI below 18.5), you should gain 28 to 40 pounds.

•       If you were overweight for your height (a BMI of 25 to 29.9), you should gain 15 to 25 pounds. If you were obese (a BMI of 30 or higher), you should gain between 11 and 20 pounds.

•       If you're having twins, you should gain 37 to 54 pounds if you started at a healthy weight, 31 to 50 pounds if you were overweight, and 25 to 42 pounds if you were obese.

These recent findings point out again, how important it is for pregnant women to consider the possible long - term health affects on their unborn offspring when making decisions about their own health.

The report was presented in May to the American Diabetes Association.

Sources: Alice Park, http://time.com/3906135/obese-moms-wire-kids-obesity-during-pregnancy/

http://www.babycenter.com/0_pregnancy-weight-gain-what-to-expect_1466.bc

 

Your Baby

Infants That “Resettle” Sleep Better and Longer

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Does this sound familiar?

You finally get your baby to fall asleep and shuffle off to bed yourself. Just as you’re drifting into a deep sleep (say about 45 minutes after you’ve laid down), you hear the cries of your little one. She’s awake and letting the world know it.

The dilemma becomes, do you get up and rock her back to sleep or let her “cry it out” and see if she’ll go back to sleep on her own?

According to a new study, infants who know how to “resettle” after waking up are more likely to sleep through the night.

When a baby “resettles” or self-settles, they have learned how to make themselves fall back asleep without the help of a parent or guardian. While many parents just can’t bear to listen to their baby cry, others find that with patience and a few changes to their baby’s sleep routine, resettling takes effect and their infant is able to fall back to sleep quicker and sleep longer without assistance.

For this study, British researchers made overnight infrared video recordings of just over 100 infants when they were 5 weeks and 3 months old.

The videos were analyzed to determine changes in sleep and waking during this age span, a time when parents hope their baby will start sleeping more at night, while crying less.  “Infants are capable of resettling themselves back to sleep by three months of age,” according to the study by Ian St James-Roberts and colleagues of the University of London. “Both autonomous resettling and prolonged sleeping are involved in ‘sleeping through the night’ at an early age.”

The “clearest developmental progression” between video recordings was an increase in length of sleeps: from a little over 2 hours at 5 weeks to 3.5 hours at 3 months. Only about 10% of infants slept continuously for 5 hours or more at 5 weeks, compared to 45% at 3 months.

At both ages, about one-fourth of the infants awoke and resettled themselves at least once during the night. These infants were able to get back to sleep with little to no crying or fussing.

“Self-resettling at 5 weeks predicted prolonged sleeping at 3 months,” the researchers write. Sixty-seven percent of infants who resettled in the first recording slept continuously for at least 5 hours in the second recording, compared to 38% who didn’t resettle.

The 3-month-old babies were more likely to suck on their fingers and hands than the 5 week old infants. Sucking seemed to be a self-regulatory strategy that helped them fall back to or maintain sleep.

When a baby wakes up and cries throughout the night, parents are the ones that end up exhausted. Letting your infant learn how to resettle make take a little extra effort at the beginning, but can reap the reward of more sleep in the long run.

Letting your baby learn how to resettle doesn’t mean they are not attended to when there is a need, such as when they need changing, hungry or are ill.

Babycenter.com has a good article on how to teach your baby to soothe him or herself to sleep. The link is provided below.

The video study was published in the June edition of the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Sources: http://www.sleepreviewmag.com/article/babies-can-resettle-likely-sleep-night/

http://www.babycenter.com/404_how-do-i-teach-my-baby-to-soothe-himself-to-sleep_1272921.bc

 

 

Your Baby

Babies Can Tell the Difference and Sameness of Objects

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How old are we when we begin to learn to tell when objects are alike or different?  Scientists involved in a new study say that with a little training, babies as young as seven months can discern whether objects are similar or not.

Previous studies have shown that toddlers have this ability, but researchers at Northwestern University, wanted to see if children could actually determine the difference at an even earlier age.  The scientists were the first to discover that infants can actually make this remarkable determination – long before they have the language skills to express abstract ideas.

“This suggests that a skill key to human intelligence is present very early in human development, and that language skills are not necessary for learning abstract relations,” said study author, Alissa Ferry, a brain development researcher.

To accomplish this, the scientists started out to see if seven--month-old infants could comprehend sameness and difference between two objects by showing them either two Elmo dolls or an Elmo doll and a toy camel until their observation time ran out.

They then had the infants look longer at pairs that were either the “same” or “different,” including test pairs composed of new items. The team saw infants who had learned the “same” relation looked longer at test pairs showing the “different” relation and vice versa. The team said this indicates the infants had figured out the abstract relation and recognized when the relation changed.

“We found that infants are capable of learning these relations,” Ferry said. “Additionally, infants exhibit the same patterns of learning as older children and adults — relational learning benefits from seeing multiple examples of the relation and is impeded when attention is drawn to the individual objects composing the relation.”

The researchers also believe that because the infants could learn the difference and the sameness of objects before they could speak, that this is a separate skill that humans need and develop early in their existence.

“The infants in our study were able to form an abstract same or different relation after seeing only 6-9 examples,” said study author Dedre Gentner, a professor of psychology at Northwestern. “It appears that relational learning is something that humans, even very young humans, are much better at than other primates.”

Source: Brett Smith, http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1113398144/infants-can-compare-and-contrast-objects-study-052715/

 

 

Your Baby

Benefits of Waiting to Clamp the Umbilical Cord

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Could waiting just three minutes before clamping the umbilical cord after childbirth make a difference in your child’s motor and social skills? According to a new Swedish study, children of mothers that delay cord clamping, reap the benefits later in life – especially for boys.

Delaying cord clamping is already known to benefit babies by increasing iron levels in their blood for the first few months of life, researchers write in the most recent edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

“There is quite a lot of brain development just after birth,” said lead author Dr. Ola Andersson of Uppsala University in Sweden. “Iron is needed for that process.”

For the study, researchers followed up on 263 Swedish children born at full term to healthy mothers about four years earlier.

As newborns, the children had been part of a larger study in which a total of 382 babies were randomly assigned to either early cord clamping (within 10 seconds of birth) or late cord clamping (at least three minutes after birth).

Four years later, the children were similarly intelligent regardless of when their cords had been clamped, but there were some notable differences.

“When you just meet a child, you wouldn’t see or notice any differences,” Andersson told Reuters Health. “But we could see the differences in fine motor function.”

The children were tested for IQ, motor skills and behavior. Parents also reported on their children’s communication, problem solving and social skills.

Results of the study showed that overall brain development and behavior scores were similar for both groups, and there was no significant difference in IQ scores.

However, more children in the delayed cord clamping group had a mature pencil grip on the fine motor skills test and better skills on some social aspects compared to those whose cords were clamped early.

Researchers found that boys benefitted much more than girls.

Iron deficiency is much more common among male infants than among females, Andersson said.

“Girls have higher iron stores when they are born,” he said.

Delaying cord clamping by three minutes allows an extra 3.5 ounces of blood to transfuse to the baby, which is equivalent to a half a gallon of blood for an adult, Andersson said.

“There’s a lot of iron in that volume,” he said. “Even three minutes can have quite a lot of effect on the iron in the blood in the body for a long time after birth.”

The new study provides evidence of benefit for full-term babies in a developed country where nutritional deficiency is extremely rare, Andersson said.

“When a baby transitions from inside the womb to outside the womb, if you think about what nature does, it is not to clamp the cord immediately,” said Dr. Heike Rabe of the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and University Hospitals in the UK.

Why do doctors traditionally clamp the cord quickly? About 60 years ago, doctors began clamping the cord almost immediately because it was thought that it would reduce the risk of hemorrhage for the mother. Doctors now know that is not the case.

Even though the scientific understanding behind cord clamping has changed, it’s still difficult for some doctors to change how they’ve always done things.  Today, parents can have more say in how their baby is born and whom they choose to deliver their child.

Parents-to-be should discuss their wishes with their OB/GYN or family doctor ahead of time and weigh the pros and cons of delaying cord clamping for their particular birthing process.

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/26/us-gynecology-pediatrics-cord-neurodevel-idUSKBN0OB2ET20150526

 

 

Your Baby

Study: Fracking Linked to Babies Low Birth Weight

High volume fracturing, also known as fracking, has increased in production all through the United States. The process allows access to large amounts of natural gas trapped in shale deposits by utilizing natural gas wells.

These types of wells were once more likely to be found in rural settings but are now increasingly located in and near populated neighborhoods.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has found a link between mothers who live close to high volume fracking wells and an increased risk of having a lower birth weight baby.

Researchers analyzed the birth records of more than 15,400 babies born in Pennsylvania's Washington, Westmoreland and Butler counties between 2007 and 2010.

Women who lived close to a high number of natural gas fracking sites were 34 percent more likely to have babies who were "small for gestational age" than mothers who did not live close to a large number of such wells, the study found.

Small for gestational age means a baby is smaller than normal based on the number of weeks the baby has been in the womb, according to the March of Dimes.

The findings held true even after other factors were accounted for such as whether the mother smoked, her race, age, education and prenatal care. Also taken into account was whether she had previous children and the baby’s gender.

Like other cities around the country, the number of fracking sites in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale has increased substantially in the last few years. In 2007 there were 44 wells; by 2010, more than 2,800.

"Our work is a first for our region and supports previous research linking unconventional gas development and adverse health outcomes," study co-author Bruce Pitt, chair of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, said in a university news release.

"These findings cannot be ignored. There is a clear need for studies in larger populations with better estimates of exposure and more in-depth medical records," he added.

The main concerns around fracking sites are the air and noise pollution and waste fluids.

"Developing fetuses are particularly sensitive to the effects of environmental pollutants. We know that fine particulate air pollution, exposure to heavy metals and benzene, and maternal stress all are associated with lower birth weight," Pitt said.

While the study provides an association between fracking and lower weight babies, it does not prove that living close to a high concentration of natural gas fracking sites causes lower birth weights. Researchers said that they believe the study’s findings warrant further investigations.

The study was published online in the June edition of the journal PLOS One.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/environment-health-news-233/fracking-linked-to-low-birth-weight-babies-700018.html

Your Baby

Bacteria May Be Connected to Colic

A bacterium normally found in the mouth, skin and intestines might play a role in the cause of colic in babies, a new study says. Researchers found the bacterium Klebsiella along with gut inflammation in the intestines of all babies in their study who had colic, a condition characterized by uncontrollable crying.

"We believe that the bacterium may be sparking an inflammatory reaction, causing the gut inflammation," Dr. J. Marc Rhoads, a pediatrics professor at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and the study's lead investigator, said. "Inflammation in the gut of colicky infants closely compared to levels in patients with inflammatory bowel disease." He said it is possible that colic could lead to other gastrointestinal conditions in later life, such as irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease. Colic, which causes an otherwise healthy your-baby to cry and scream often and for long periods without any noticeable reason, has no medically grounded treatment or known cause, although bottle-fed babies seem to get it more often than breast-fed infants research shows. The condition often disappears as suddenly as it presents itself. "Colic can be a dangerous situation for a your-baby," Rhoads said. "The parents' frustration over the crying can lead to maternal frustration, post-partum depression and even thoughts of harming the your-baby." The study, published online in the Journal of Pediatrics, included 36 babies, both breast- and bottle-fed. About half had colic. The researchers found that babies without colic had more types of bacteria in their intestines, a sign that certain types of bacteria are beneficial to people, Rhoads said. He said the researchers plan further study, involving adults as well as infants, on Klebsiella and on whether probiotics, a dietary supplement of so-called good bacteria, could control the gut inflammation in colicky babies.

Your Baby

Radiation In Milk: Should Parents Worry?

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The radiation found is more than 5,000 times smaller than the level that would require any action from the FDA. “These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days, and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children,” the agency said. One of the most nutritional supplements children, particularly babies and toddlers, receive almost daily is milk. Since news of the Japanese nuclear power plant explosions, some parents are asking – how safe is the milk I give my child?

According to the EPA, the FDA, and scientists who study radiation, the risk of dangerous radiation levels in the nation’s milk supply is small. Recent reports from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration say that very low levels of radiation have turned up in milk samples on the West coast. Traces of radioactive Iodine-131 were found in milk in California and Washington state. Federal and state authorities are monitoring for contamination as the nuclear crisis continues to unfold in Japan. The radiation found is more than 5,000 times smaller than the level that would require any action from the FDA. “These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days, and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children,” the  agency said. Robert Henkin, professor emeritus of radiology at Loyola University’s Strich School of Medicine, agrees that the levels detected are nothing to be concerned about at this time. Henkin told National Public Radio’s Health Blog Shots "We are exposed to tons of natural radiation, the amount is a fraction of our yearly background exposure.” Even tainted Japanese milk, one sample of which reportedly had over 1,500 becquerels per liter (50,000 times the amount found in Washington), would only be dangerous if you drank 58,000 glasses. People are often exposed to low levels of radiation through common occurrences such as smoking, flying in airplanes, dental x-rays, mammograms and exposure to natural radiation from the soil. Though radioactive material spreading from the Japanese power plant reached the West Coast days ago, radiation levels detected so far are well below normal exposure. Also,  because iodine -131 has a short half-life of  8 days- this level is likely to rapidly decrease. Levels of iodine 131 entering the air can be very diluted, but if the iodine is deposited on grass eaten by cows, the cows will re-concentrate it in their milk by a factor of 1,000. This is mainly a concern with fresh milk, not for dairy products that are stored before consumption. Milk provides calcium for strong bones and teeth, and according to medical research, milk can improve the intake of minerals and vitamins. A glassful of milk contains vitamin A & B for good eyesight and increasing red blood cell count, carbohydrates for  energy, potassium for proper nerve function, magnesium for muscular function, phosphorous for energy release, protein for body repair and growth. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents begin low fat milk after age two years. Before that age, toddlers should be either breastfeeding or drinking whole milk, but after age two you can start giving a child 2%, 1%, or skim milk. And of course they should be either breastfeeding or drinking an iron fortified infant formula before age 12 months.

Your Baby

Starting Baby on Solid Foods

Your goal over the next few months is to introduce a wide variety of foods. If your baby doesn't seem to like a particular food, reintroduce it at later meals. It can take quite a few tries before kids warm up to certain foods.Starting baby on solid foods can be an exciting and perplexing time for parents. What foods should I start with? How much? How often?

The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends gradually introducing solid foods when a baby is about 6 months old. Your pediatrician, however, may recommend starting as early as 4 months depending on your baby's readiness and nutritional needs. Be sure to check with your pediatrician before starting any solid foods. Is your baby ready? Breast milk or formula is the only food your newborn needs. Within four to six months, however, your baby will begin to develop the coordination to move solid food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing. At the same time, your baby's head control will improve and he or she will learn to sit with support — essential skills for eating solid foods. If you're not sure whether your baby is ready, ask yourself these questions: •       Can your baby hold his or her head in a steady, upright position? •       Can your baby sit with support? •       Is your baby interested in what you're eating? If you answer yes to these questions and you have the OK from your baby's doctor or dietitian, you can begin supplementing your baby's liquid diet. What Foods to Start With. Continue feeding your baby breast milk or formula as usual. Then: •       Start with baby cereal. Mix 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal with 4 to 5 tablespoons (60 to 75 milliliters) of breast milk or formula. Many parents start with rice cereal. Even if the cereal barely thickens the liquid, resist the temptation to serve it from a bottle. Instead, help your baby sit upright and offer the cereal with a small spoon once or twice a day. Once your baby gets the hang of swallowing runny cereal, mix it with less liquid. For variety, you might offer single-grain oatmeal or barley cereals. Your baby may take a little while to "learn" how to eat solids. During these months you'll still be providing the usual feedings of breast milk or formula, so don't be concerned if your baby refuses certain foods at first or doesn't seem interested. It may just take some time. Do not add cereal to your baby's bottle unless your doctor instructs you to do so, as this can cause babies to become overweight and doesn't help the baby learn how to eat solid foods •       Add pureed meat, vegetables and fruits. Once your baby masters cereal, gradually introduce pureed meat, vegetables and fruits. Offer single-ingredient foods at first, and wait three to five days between each new food. If your baby has a reaction to a particular food — such as diarrhea, a rash or vomiting — you'll know the culprit. •       Offer finely chopped finger foods. By ages 8 months to 10 months, most babies can handle small portions of finely chopped finger foods, such as soft fruits, well-cooked pasta, cheese, graham crackers and ground meat. As your baby approaches his or her first birthday, mashed or chopped versions of whatever the rest of the family is eating will become your baby's main fare. Continue to offer breast milk or formula with and between meals. Foods to Avoid for Now. Some foods are generally withheld until later. Do not give eggs, cow's milk, citrus fruits and juices, and honey until after a baby's first birthday. Eggs (especially the whites) may cause an allergic reaction, especially if given too early. Citrus is highly acidic and can cause painful diaper rashes for a baby. Honey may contain certain spores that, while harmless to adults, can cause botulism in babies. Regular cow's milk does not have the nutrition that infants need. Fish and seafood, peanuts and peanut butter, and tree nuts are also considered allergenic for infants, and shouldn't be given until after the child is 2 or 3 years old, depending on whether the child is at higher risk for developing food allergies. A child is at higher risk for food allergies if one or more close family members have allergies or allergy-related conditions, like food allergies, eczema, or asthma. Introducing Juice. Juice can be given after 6 months of age, which is also a good age to introduce your baby to a cup. Buy one with large handles and a lid (a "sippy cup"), and teach your baby how to maneuver and drink from it. You might need to try a few different cups to find one that works for your child. Use water at first to avoid messy clean-ups. Serve only 100% fruit juice, not juice drinks or powdered drink mixes. Do not give juice in a bottle and remember to limit the amount of juice your baby drinks to less than 4 total ounces (120 ml) a day. Too much juice adds extra calories without the nutrition of breast milk or formula. Drinking too much juice can contribute to obesity can cause diarrhea. Infants usually like fruits and sweeter vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, but don't neglect other vegetables. Your goal over the next few months is to introduce a wide variety of foods. If your baby doesn't seem to like a particular food, reintroduce it at later meals. It can take quite a few tries before kids warm up to certain foods.

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