Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Your Baby

“Furry Pets” May Help Kids Avoid Some Allergies


You might think that having pets would be a nightmare if you have small children with a family history of allergies. A new study says that furry pets may actually help protect children against some allergies.

The infants’ mothers had a history of allergy, so the babies were at increased risk too, and it was once thought that pets might be a trigger for allergies in such children, the authors point out in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“Earlier it was thought that exposure to pets early in childhood was a risk factor for developing allergic disease,” said Dr. Merja Nermes of the University of Turku in Finland, who coauthored the research letter. “Later epidemiologic studies have given contradictory results and even suggested that early exposure to pets may be protective against allergies, though the mechanisms of this protective effect have remained elusive.”

Adding pet microbes to the infant intestinal biome may strengthen the immune system, she told Reuters Health by email.

The study team collected fecal samples from diapers when the babies were one month of age and these were tested for the DNA of two types of Bifidobacteria that are found specifically in animal guts: B. thermophilum and B. pseudolongum.

One third of infants from the pet-exposed group had animal-specific bifidobacteria in their fecal samples, compared to 14 percent of the comparison group. It’s not clear where the infants without furry pets at home acquired their gut bacteria, the authors write.

When the babies were six months old they had skin prick tests to assess allergies to cow’s milk, egg white, flours, cod, soybeans, birch, grasses, cat, dog, potato, banana and other allergens.

At six months of age, 19 infants had reactions to at least one of the allergens tested. None of these infants had B. thermophilum bacteria in their fecal samples.

Other studies have pointed out the connection between kids exposed to farm animals and household pets and building a better immune system.

“When infants and furry pets live in a close contact in the same household, transfer of microbiota between pets and infants occurs,” Nermes said. “For example, when a dog licks the infant´s face or hand, the pet-derived microbiota can end up via the mouth into the infant´s intestine.”

Human-specific Bifidobacteria have beneficial health effects, and animal-specific strains may also be beneficial, she said. It is still unclear, however, if exposure to these bacteria protects against allergies later in life, she said.

“Future research is needed to assess if these infants develop less atopic dermatitis, asthma or allergic rhinitis later,” she said.

Nermes also noted that she believes pediatricians should not discourage pregnant women or parents of infants from having pets in order to prevent allergies.

“If a family with a pregnant mother or an infant wants to have a pet, the family can be encouraged to have one, because the development of allergic disease cannot be prevented by avoiding pets,” she said.

Source: Kathryn Doyle,



Your Baby

Spit-Cleaning Your Infant’s Binky

1.45 to read

Have you ever sucked on your baby’s pacifier to clean it? Many parents have. Babies drop their binkies all the time and if you’re in a hurry or just figure a little spit-cleaning won’t hurt, you’re more likely to stick it in your own mouth and give it a quick once over.

A new study out of Sweden says the spit-cleaning technique may actually help your infant avoid eczema and asthma.

“It was surprising that the effect was so strong,” says pediatric allergist Dr. Bill Hesselmar of Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, lead author of the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The study involved 136 infants who used a pacifier in their first 6 months. 65 of the infants had parents that reported sucking the pacifier to clean it. In those children, both eczema and asthma were strongly reduced when they were examined at 18 months of age. At 36 months of age, the protective effect remained for eczema but not for asthma.

Scientists didn’t know why the sucking on the baby’s pacifier acted as a protector or whether it was filtering out germs. The technique didn’t have any impact on respiratory illness, meaning that the babies were not more likely to get a cold or the flu from their parents. Common sense would dictate that if you have a cold or the flu or any other contagious condition, then it’s not a good idea to suck on your baby’s binky. Otherwise, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

Why is sucking on your infant’s pacifier possibly helpful in preventing asthma or eczema in your child? Scientists hypothesize that tiny organisms in the saliva of the parents may be why. Parent’s saliva introduces gut micoflora that live in the digestive tract of the baby. “We know that if infants have diverse microflora in the gut, then children will have less allergy and less eczema,” says Hesselmar. “When parents suck on the pacifier, they are transferring microflora to the child.”

Many pediatricians and family doctors are concerned that children are being “excessively cleaned” into illness. With anti-bacterial soaps and swipes being used on everything, and kids not allowed to get dirty, their immune system isn’t getting the workout it needs to help fight off common illnesses. The bacterial microorganisms provided in the parent’s saliva might help stimulate the baby’s immune system.

“The most exciting result was the eczema,” says Christine Johnson, chair of the public health department at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital. “I’m a bit more skeptical about the asthma findings because asthma is hard to measure before a child is five or six years old.”

Hesselmar also urges moms to lick the baby’s pacifier if their child was delivered by C-section. Vaginal delivered babies receive quite a bit of microbes during delivery. C-section babies can be more prone to allergies. “If they are using a pacifier and those parents think it’s OK to suck on the pacifier, then yes, I would recommend it,” Hesselmar says.

Some parents may find the idea of picking up a pacifier that’s fallen on the floor and putting it in their mouth kind of disgusting. That’s fine, there’s no need to worry about it. If the idea doesn’t bother you, all the better says Hesselmar, “I haven’t heard of anyone getting ill from it,” he says. “There isn’t much bacteria on the floor.”

Source: Barbara Mantel,

Your Baby

Formula-Fed Babies: How Much and How Often?


There are many reasons a mother may choose to use formula instead of breast milk when feeding her newborn. There are also times when mothers decide to switch from nursing to formula, as their baby gets a little older.  Whether you’re breastfeeding or giving formula, it’s generally recommended that babies be fed when they seem hungry.

What kind of schedule and how much formula do formula-fed babies need? It all depends on the baby. While each infant’s appetite and needs may be a little different – there are general rules of thumb that can be helpful for moms to know.

According to, after the first few days, your formula-fed newborn will take from 2 to 3 ounces (60–90 ml) of formula per feeding and will eat every three to four hours on average during his or her first few weeks.

Occasionally, you may have a sleeper who seems to like visiting dreamland longer than most babies. If during the first month your baby sleeps longer than four or five hours, wake him or her up and offer a bottle.

By the end of his or her first month, they’ll usually be up to at least 4 ounces (120 ml) per feeding, with a fairly predictable schedule of feedings about every four hours.

By six months, your baby will typically consume 6 to 8 ounces (180–240 ml) at each of four or five feedings in twenty-four hours.

Since babies can’t communicate with words, parents have to learn how to read the signs and signals baby uses to express wants.

How do you know your baby is hungry? Here are signs baby may be ready to eat:

•       Moving their heads from side to side

•       Opening their mouths

•       Sticking out their tongues

•       Placing their hands, fingers, and fists to their mouths

•       Puckering their lips as if to suck

•       Nuzzling against their mothers' breasts

•       Showing the rooting reflex (when a baby moves its mouth in the direction of something that's stroking or touching its cheek)

•       Crying

The crying signal can be confusing for parents. It doesn’t always mean the same thing. Crying is also a last resort when baby is hungry. Your baby should be fed before he or she gets so hungry that they get upset and cry. That’s why guidelines are helpful when starting out.

Most babies are satisfied with 3 to 4 ounces (90–120 ml) per feeding during the first month and increase that amount by 1 ounce (30 ml) per month until they reach a maximum of about 7 to 8 ounces (210–240 ml). If your baby consistently seems to want more or less than this, discuss it with your pediatrician. Your baby should drink no more than 32 ounces (960 ml) of formula in 24 hours. Some babies have higher needs for sucking and may just want to suck on a pacifier after feeding.

Eventually, baby will develop a time schedule of his or her own. As you become more familiar with your baby’s signals and sleep patterns, you’ll be able to design a feeding schedule tailored to your infant’s needs.

Between two and four months of age (or when the baby weighs more than 12 pounds [5.4 kg]), most formula-fed babies no longer need a middle-of-the night feeding, because they’re consuming more during the day and their sleeping patterns have become more regular (although this varies considerably from baby to baby). Their stomach capacity has increased, too, which means they may go longer between daytime feedings—occasionally up to four or five hours at a time. If your baby still seems to feed very frequently or consume larger amounts, try distracting him with play or with a pacifier. Sometimes patterns of obesity begin during infancy, so it is important not to overfeed your baby.

The most important thing to remember is that there is no “one schedule and formula amount fits all” when it comes to babies and their needs.

No one can tell you exactly how often or how much your baby boy or girl needs to be fed, but good communication with your pediatrician and learning how to read your baby’s body language will go a long way in keeping baby’s feedings on track.

Story sources:


Your Baby

Online Breast Milk May Be Cow’s Milk Instead


There are many reasons that someone may want to purchase breast milk online; but typically it’s because mothers cannot produce enough or any breast milk themselves.

A new study published in Pediatrics, found that more than 10 percent of samples of breast milk bought online contained cow’s milk in significant quantities.

That can be a real problem for infants that cannot tolerate cow’s milk.

Researchers anonymously bought 102 samples from sites that use classified advertising to connect milk buyers with sellers. The sites are generally not involved in the transactions beyond helping make the initial connection.

They isolated mitochondrial DNA from the samples by polymerase chain reaction, the same technique used for forensic and medical purposes. Every sample contained human DNA, but 11 of them contained cow’s milk, 10 of them at levels higher than 10 percent.

“This was high enough to rule out minor or accidental contamination,” said the lead author, Sarah A. Keim, a principal investigator at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “This is deliberate adulteration no matter how you look at it.”

Children under one-year-old should not be fed cow’s milk according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.) Cow’s milk contains nutrients that are too high for a baby’s system such as protein, sodium and potassium. If breast milk is not available, infant formulas are a good substitute.

“In a previous study, we found that a fifth of these people were online because their infants were having trouble tolerating cow’s milk. Additionally, it is clearly not recommended for infants under 12 months to be on cow’s milk.” said Keim.

Much of online breast milk is unregulated and may contain bacteria, but there are certified milk-banks that are regulated and safe.

Source: Nicholas Bakalar,



Your Baby

Gap Between Pregnancies Linked to Autism


Does it make a difference how long a woman waits between pregnancies in the health of her newborn?  According to a new large study, the closer the pregnancies, the higher the risk that her child will have autism or other neurodevelopmental disabilities.

"Based on the current best available evidence, it appears that the ideal inter-pregnancy interval -- the time elapsed between the birth of the immediate older sibling and the conception of the younger sibling -- is 2 to 5 years, in order to reduce the risk of autism," said study author Dr. Agustin Conde-Agudelo. He is a researcher at the World Health Organization Collaborating Center in Human Reproduction at the University of Valle in Cali, Colombia.

Researchers looked at existing studies involving more than 1.1 million children and also found that waiting too long between pregnancies (5 years or more) could raise the odds of autism.

The reasons for the link between short pregnancy spacing and autism are not known noted Conde-Agudelo. He said that scientists believe nutrition and other factors may play a role.

The study doesn’t prove that either long or short intervals between pregnancies actually causes autism, just that there seems to be an association between the two.

Conde-Agudelo and his team reviewed seven large studies reporting a link between short birth spacing and autism. The investigators found that children born to women with less than 12 months between pregnancies were nearly twice as likely to develop autism as children born to women with three years or longer between pregnancies.

Three of those studies also reported a significant link between long pregnancy spacing and autism, especially for two milder types, which were formerly called Asperger's syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder.

Meanwhile, the findings also suggested that shorter pregnancy spacing was associated with an increased risk of developmental delays and cerebral palsy, which can affect body movement, muscle coordination and balance.

Conde-Agudelo and other researchers conjectured that the mother’s depleted levels of folic acid between closely spaced pregnancies might play a role in the rise of autism risk.

The B vitamin folic acid is necessary for proper brain and spinal cord development in fetuses, and women are typically advised to take folic acid supplements during pregnancy.

As for longer pregnancy intervals also potentially linked to autism, Conde-Agudelo said it's been hypothesized that related factors such as infertility, unintended pregnancy and maternal inflammation levels may affect autism possibility.

Most neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, are thought to be caused by a complex mix of factors. These include genetics, environment, parental health and behaviors during pregnancy, and complications during birth, the researchers said in background notes.

The study was published in the April online edition of the journal Pediatrics, and will appear in the May print issue.

Story source: Maureen Salamon,

Your Baby

Half of U.S. Parents Using Unsafe Bedding for Infants


Parents are getting better about using loose bedding and leaving soft objects in their baby’s bed, but about half of U.S. infants are still sleeping with potentially hazardous bedding according to a new study.

Blankets, quilts and pillows can obstruct an infant’s airway and pose a suffocation risk according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  This type of bedding is a recognized risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The researchers investigated bedding use from 1993 to 2010 from the National Infant Sleep Position study.

They found that from 1993 to 2010, bedding use declined, but remained a common practice. The rate of bedding use averaged nearly 86 percent in 1993-1995, and declined to 55 percent in 2008-2010. Prevalence was highest for infants of teen mothers (83.5 percent) and lowest for infants born at term (55.6 percent). Researchers also found that bedding use was highest among infants who were sleeping in adult beds, placed to sleep on their sides, or shared a sleep surface.

AAP recommends that the best place for a baby to sleep is in the same room as his or her parents and always in a crib, not in the same bed. The crib should be free from toys, soft bedding, blankets, and pillows.

Other safe sleep practices are:

•       Place your baby on a firm mattress, covered by a fitted sheet that meets current safety standards. For more about crib safety standards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site at

•       Place the crib in an area that is always smoke-free.

•       Don’t place babies to sleep on adult beds, chairs, sofas, waterbeds, pillows, or cushions.

•       Toys and other soft bedding, including fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, and wedges should not be placed in the crib with the baby. Loose bedding, such as sheets and blankets, should not be used as these items can impair the infant’s ability to breathe if they are close to his face. Sleep clothing, such as sleepers, sleep sacks, and wearable blankets are better alternatives to blankets.

•       Place babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. Side sleeping is not as safe as back sleeping and is not advised. Babies sleep comfortably on their backs, and no special equipment or extra money is needed.

•       “Tummy time” is playtime when infants are awake and placed on their tummies while someone is watching them. Have tummy time to allow babies to develop normally.

•       Remove mobiles when your baby is able to sit up.

Study authors conclude that while the numbers have improved significantly, infants are still being put to bed in an unsafe sleeping environment; about half still sleep with blankets, quilts, pillows, and other hazardous items.

It’s not unusual that many parents may not be aware of the dangers of blankets, pillows and quilts in a baby’s bed. Lots of people were raised with all these items in the bed, but that was also before scientists began to understand SIDS better and the possible causes. True, many babies did fine before these alerts and safety suggestions became more popular but a lot of children also died – we just didn’t know why.  Parents today are able to access better infant safety information than their own parents.

The study, “Trends in Infant Bedding Use: National Infant Sleep Position Study 1993-2010” was published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.


Your Baby

A Kinder, Gentler C-Section Birth


When it comes to having a baby, whether a woman delivers vaginally or by cesarean section, the one thing they have in common is the desire parents have to hold their newborn.

Many women who have had a cesarean section will tell you that the surgical procedure left them feeling like they missed the pivotal moment in giving birth; the physical connection between mother and child.

Oftentimes, the baby is whisked away moments after birth leaving the mother without her newborn.

While C-sections have leveled off in the last couple of years, they are still up 500% since 1970. The reasons for cesarean delivery have changed dramatically from ancient to modern times.

The origins of the cesarean birth are somewhat clouded in mystery, but according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “… the initial purpose was essentially to retrieve the infant from a dead or dying mother; this was conducted either in the rather vain hope of saving the baby's life, or as commonly required by religious edicts, so the infant might be buried separately from the mother. Above all it was a measure of last resort, and the operation was not intended to preserve the mother's life. It was not until the nineteenth century that such a possibility really came within the grasp of the medical profession.”

These days C-sections are performed for a variety of reasons. In most cases, doctors perform cesarean sections when problems arise either for the mother or baby or both during birth. However, there are also times when possible health issues are known ahead of time and a C-section can be scheduled to prevent complications.

For the most part, the procedure hasn’t changed much since it began being used in modern times.

During a planned traditional C-section, the woman is given medications to dry the secretions in her mouth, her lower abdomen is washed with an antiseptic solution and possibly shaved. She is given an anesthetic and a screen is placed in front of her face to keep the surgical field sterile – blocking her view of the delivery. She may or may not be able to hold her baby immediately after birth.

A new approach to C-section deliveries may offer some families an option they never dreamed possible.

Doctors and nurses at the Center for Labor and Birth at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have developed new procedures to make the C-section more family-centered. Dr. William Camann, Director of Obstetric Anesthesiology, explained that the goal of the family-centered cesarean, or “gentle-C,” is to make the delivery as natural as possible.

For example, Dr. Camann realized that by using both clear and solid sterile drapes, obstetricians could switch the solid drape for the clear one just before delivery and allow mom to see her baby being born.

“We also allow mom a free arm and place the EKG leads on her back so that she is able to hold, interact, and provide skin-to-skin contact with her baby in the moments following the birth,” said Camann, who teamed up with BWH registered nurse Kathy Trainor, to make this option available to patients and their families.

Skin-to-skin touch isn’t just an emotional fulfillment for the mother, research has shown that normal term newborns that are placed skin-to-skin with their mothers immediately after birth do better physically and psychologically as well.

“Allowing mom and baby to bond as quickly as possible after the delivery makes for a better transition for the baby, including better temperature and heart rate regulation, increased attachment and parental bonding and more successful rates of breast feeding,” Trainor said.

With the updated procedure, dads can also hold and touch their newborn. 

Camann acknowledges that changes in the traditional cesarean section require some readjusting from the hospital medical staff.

“It requires (doctors and nurses) to just think a little bit differently than the way they have usually done things,” Camann said. “Once they see this, they usually realize it’s really not that difficult.”

Nationwide, the procedure is starting to take hold as more hospitals begin offering the "gentle-C".

Camann says that the procedure isn’t recommended for every C-section birth. He also emphasizes that it’s not in any way meant to promote more C-sections.

 “We would all like to do fewer C-sections. But there are women who need a C-section for various medical reasons and if you do need a cesarean, we want to make this a better experience,” he said.


A. Pawlowski,

Your Baby

Beech-Nut Recalls Baby Food Due to Pieces of Glass


The Beech-Nut Nutrition Company has issued a voluntary recall of 1,920 pounds of baby food due to possible contamination with small pieces of glass.

The company is recalling “Stage 2 Beech-Nut Classics sweet potato and chicken” baby food in 4 -ounce glass jars.  The baby food was made on Dec. 12, 2014, and the recall applies to food expiring December 2016.

A customer reported that they found a small piece of glass in their baby food and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that an oral injury, from use of the product, was also conveyed.

“Outside of this single report, we have no indication that any other jar of our Classics Stage 2 Sweet Potato & Chicken is affected, but as a company of parents and families we are acting with an abundance of caution,” the company said in a statement posted to its website. “The quality and safety of our products is our number one priority. We know we have not met the expectations of parents who rely on Beech-Nut for quality nutrition for their babies and toddlers in this case, and for that we apologize.”

The recalled baby food contains the product numbers “12395750815” through “12395750821.” It also contains the inspection code “P-68A.”

Consumers who have purchased the baby food can return it to the store where it was purchased for a refund. You can also call Beech-Nut at (866) 674-4446 with any concerns or for a full refund.

More recall information is located on the Beech-Nut website at

Consumers should not use the product and if you suspect your baby has eaten the baby-food, Beech-Nut recommends parents should consult with their pediatrician or family physician. 

Your Baby

Recall: More Than 217,000 Instep and Schwinn Jogging Strollers


Pacific Cycle is working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in a recall involving more than 217,000 Instep and Schwinn swivel wheel jogging strollers.

This recall includes single and double occupant swivel wheel jogging strollers that have a quick release mechanism for removing and re-attaching the front wheel. Instep Safari, Instep Grand Safari, Instep Flight, Schwinn Turismo and Schwinn Discover Single and Double Occupant Swivel jogging strollers with the following model numbers are affected. These models come in a variety of colors. The model number is located on the inside of the metal frame above the rear right wheel.

Instep Safari



Instep Grand Safari


Instep Safari



Instep Grand Safari


Instep Flight 





















































































Instep Flight


— Double

Schwinn Turismo



Schwinn Turismo



Schwinn Discover



Schwinn Discover























The front wheel can become loose and detach, posing crash and fall hazards.

The firm has received 132 reports of the front wheel becoming loose or unstable, resulting in 215 injuries, including head injuries, sprains, lacerations, bumps, bruises, and abrasions.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled jogging strollers and contact Pacific Cycle to obtain a repair kit to secure the front wheel. The repair kit includes a replacement mechanism for securing the front wheel that uses a traditional screw on/off method of attachment instead of the quick release lever method of attachment shipped with the product, as well as new warning labels. Consumers should not return the jogging strollers to retailers where purchased. A repair video is available at

These models were sold at small retailers nationwide and online at,,, and other online retailers from January 2010 through June 2016 for between $130 and $350.

To see photos of the strollers, click on the website below. 

Story source:





Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.



Keeping it fun for kids with food allergies during Halloween.

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.


Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.