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Your Baby

CDC Warning: Dangerous Germ Found in Powdered Infant Formula

2:00

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new warning about Cronobacter contamination in powdered infant formulas.

Because powdered infant formula is not sterile, it can sometimes contain Cronobacter — formerly known as Enterobacter sakazakii — a germ found naturally in the environment that can survive in very dry conditions, the CDC reports.

Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe blood infections or meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine. If infected, infants two months of age and younger, are most likely to develop the infection.

Infants born prematurely and those with weakened immune systems are also at increased risk for serious sickness from Cronobacter, the CDC warns.

In infants, the sickness generally starts with fever and usually includes poor feeding, crying or very low energy. Very young infants with these symptoms should be taken to a doctor.

In some outbreak investigations, Cronobacter was found in powdered infant formula that had been contaminated in the factory. In other cases, Cronobacter might have contaminated the powdered infant formula after it was opened at home or elsewhere during preparation, according to the CDC.

Because Cronobacter lives in the general environment, it’s likely there have been other sources of this rare sickness.

Using current methods, manufacturers report that it is not possible to get rid of all germs in powdered infant formula in the factory. Powdered infant formula can also be contaminated after the containers are opened. Very young infants, infants born prematurely, and infants whose bodies have trouble fighting off germs are at highest risk.

The CDC offers these tips on protecting your infant:

·      Breastfeed: Breastfeeding helps prevent many kinds of sicknesses among infants. Almost no cases of Cronobacter sickness have been reported among infants who were being exclusively breastfed.

·      If your baby gets formula, choose infant formula sold in liquid form, especially when your baby is a newborn or very young. Liquid formulations are made to be sterile and therefore should not contain Cronobacter germs.

·      If you use powdered infant formula, follow these steps:

1      Clean up before preparation

Wash your hands with soap and water.

Clean bottles in a dishwasher with hot water and a heated drying cycle, or scrub bottles in hot, soapy water and then sterilize them.

Clean work surfaces, such as countertops and sinks.

2      Prepare safely

Keep powdered formula lids and scoops clean and be careful about what they touch.

Close containers of infant formula or bottled water as soon as possible.

Use hot water (158 degrees F/70 degrees C and above) to make formula.

Carefully shake, rather than stirring, formula in the bottle.

Cool formula to ensure it is not too hot before feeding your baby by running the prepared, capped bottle under cool water or placing it into an ice bath, taking care to keep the cooling water from getting into the bottle or on the nipple.

3      Use up quickly or store safely

Use formula within two hours of preparation. If the baby does not finish the entire bottle of formula, throw away the unused formula.

If you do not plan to use the prepared formula right away, refrigerate it immediately and use it within 24 hours. Refrigeration slows the growth of germs and increases safety.

When in doubt, throw it out. If you can’t remember how long you have kept formula in the refrigerator, it is safer to throw it out than to feed it to your baby.

Story Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/04/125714/#.VyJvoat5ylA

 

Your Baby

Homemade or Commercial Baby Food- Which is Best?

1:45

A new study from the U.K. looked at homemade baby food versus commercial baby food bought in grocery stores. They both come up winners in some categories and losers in others.

The researchers wanted to assess how well homemade and commercially available readymade meals designed for infants and young children met age specific national dietary recommendations.

Once thought to be the ideal baby food, homemade meals turned out to be higher in calories and fat and more time-consuming to prepare, but less expensive and higher in nutrients and variety. Commercial baby food came in more convenient, lower in calories, total fats and salt but was more expensive and lacked variety. Sugar content was about the same in both foods.

Each option had upsides and downsides. For example, home-cooked food had higher nutritional content, but 50% of homemade meals also exceed calorie recommendations, and 37% exceeded the recommendations for calories from fat, reported a research team led by Sharon Carstairs, a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Only 7% of the commercial baby food evaluated exceeded calorie recommendations, and less than 1% exceeded recommendations for calories from fat, Carstairs and colleagues reported in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Researchers compared the store-bought meals with 408 recipes for home-cooked infant meals obtained from best-selling published cookbooks. The investigators entered the recipe ingredients into dietary analysis software to calculate the nutritional composition of the recipes per 100 grams.

A chief limitation of the study was that it only analyzed the recipes for homemade meals and did not take into account how these meals might be prepared in "real life."

"Parents may use cookbooks prescriptively or only as guidance, and thus the nutritional content of home-cooked recipes can vary greatly, and this can be augmented further by natural variations in the nutritional composition of raw ingredients," Carstairs and colleagues noted.

In addition, "the authors may have overestimated the values for salt within home-cooked recipes as it was often cited as optional; these results should thus be considered with caution."

The study reassures parents that it is okay to give homemade food to babies being weaned from breast milk or formula, Lauri Wright, PhD, of the University of South Florida College of Public Health and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told MedPage Today.

"This is an important study, because in the United States parents think they have to do the commercial foods. Parents are afraid their child will miss out on nutrients if they don't give the specialized baby food."

The greater variety offered by homemade food may result in healthier taste preferences later in life, Wright added. "We used to think that taste preference developed at age 4 or 5, but we now know that taste preferences develop with the introduction of these first solid foods."

The bottom line from this study is that both types of baby food are acceptable; each comes with its own pros and cons. Just like with any other meal, how your homemade baby food is prepared is the key to whether it’s going to be healthy or not for baby. Understanding the guidelines for nourishing infant food and knowing the nutritional values of the foods you use, can help you prepare a wholesome meal for baby. Commercial baby foods also offer convenience and lower calories and fats. A mix of both will probably suit most families very well.

Story source: Medpage Today staff, http://www.medpagetoday.com/pediatrics/generalpediatrics/59228

 

 

Your Baby

How Safe is Your Baby’s Teething Ring?

1:30

Millions of American babies suck on teething rings to ease the discomfort of emerging teeth. Many of those rings contain banned chemicals that can be hazardous to their health, according to new study.

Researchers in the United States, who tested five-dozen baby teething rings, found all of them contained bisphenol-A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Studies in animals have shown that endocrine disruptors interfere with hormones and cause developmental, reproductive and neurological harm, according to the study authors.

Labeling on the teething rings was deceptive, with most of the products characterized as BPA-free or non-toxic. All of them contained BPA, the study found. BPA is banned from children's drinking utensils in the United States and much of Europe.

BPA was not the only banned chemical found; the rings that were tested also contained parabens and the antimicrobial agents triclosan and triclocarban, which are also endocrine disruptors, the researchers said.

"The findings could be used to develop appropriate policies to protect infants from exposure to potentially toxic chemicals found in teethers," said study author Kurunthachalam Kannan and colleagues from the N.Y. State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center.

Because babies suck on teething rings, the presence of potentially harmful chemicals on the surface is concerning, the researchers said. The study authors said this is especially true since they found that BPA and other chemicals leached out of the rings into water.

The 59 teething rings analyzed were purchased online in the United States and tested for 26 potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals, the researchers said.

There are alternatives to teething rings. Frozen mini-bagels, wet washcloths, silicone toys and wooden spoons are just a few examples. Never leave your baby unattended with any of these alternatives. While they are very effective, you should make sure to keep an eye on your little one anytime they have something in their mouth.

The results of the study were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Story source: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/chemical-health-news-730/is-that-baby-teether-safe-717512.html

 

 

Your Baby

Never Leave a Child Unattended in a Car Seat, Swing or Bouncer

2:00

Placing an infant in a car seat, swing or bouncer as a substitute for a crib can be a fatal decision. These objects work fine when used properly for their intended purpose, but when a child is left unattended – they can quickly turn deadly according to a new study.

Using these devices as directed and not as substitutes for a crib would reduce the risk of death, according to lead author Dr. Erich K. Batra of Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“The overarching advice goes back to a more basic message of safe sleep,” Batra told Reuters Health. “In an infant, a safe sleep environment includes the ABCs: they sleep alone, not in bed between parents, on their backs, and in a crib or bassinet without any loose bedding.”

The study reviewed young children’s death in devices like car seats, swings and bouncers and found that most were due to suffocation by improper positioning or strangulation in straps.

The researchers reviewed the reports of 47 deaths of children under two years old that happened in car seats, bouncers, swings, strollers or slings and were recorded by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2004 and 2008.

The study used only reports submitted by consumers or manufacturers, so the number of deaths may actually be higher.

Most of the deaths occurred in car seats (31 of 47). Five happened in slings, four each in swings and bouncers and three in strollers.

About half of deaths in car seats were due to strangulation by the straps, while the other half were caused by suffocation due to positioning, the authors reported in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Strap strangulation usually happens when the restraints are not fastened as directed, Batra said. Whenever a child is in a car seat, the harness should be secured.

“If people leave an older infant or young toddler in a car seat and undo the straps thinking that it makes them more comfortable, that’s a significant hazard,” he said.

“A child properly secured in a car seat is in very little risk of danger,” he said.

However, many times the child falls asleep in the car seat and a parent or caregiver decides to bring the car seat, with baby still attached, into the home.

Dr. Shital N. Parikh, an orthopedic surgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, has studied the risk factors for injury in these devices in infants up to age one. He also found car seats to be the most common setting.

“The commonest mechanism of injury was infants falling from car seats when not used in the car, used in the home,” Parikh told Reuters Health. Often parents would bring the car seat in the house while the infant still slept, undo the straps and place it on an elevated surface, he said.

Even four-month-old babies are mobile enough to wiggle out of the top straps and fall, or topple the whole seat from an elevated surface, he said.

“These are very simple things, very basic things,” Parikh said. “The basic idea is that you use (the devices) for their intended purpose only. For infants, you should not use it to make them sleep or carry them around if it’s not intended for that.”

Batra notes that baby in slings need to be “visible and kissable,” as a sling may put baby’s head in a hazardous position.

It only takes four to five minutes for an unattended baby to suffocate in one of these devices.

“That is one of the things we need to draw attention to,” Batra said. Sometimes a few minutes unattended is all it takes.

“If your infant is sleeping and you’re not observing them, then they need to be in a safe sleeping environment,” adhering to the ABCs, he said.

While it may seem safe to leave a baby in a car seat, swing, sling or bouncer for a few minutes unattended, go ahead and place the child in his or her crib. It may wake them up if they are sleeping, but it’s much safer than allowing them to continue to sleep in a device that was never intended for that purpose.

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/29/us-car-seat-infant-safety-idUSKBN0NK21E20150429

Your Baby

Singing to Baby in the Womb Decreases Crying After Birth

2:00

There is no shortage of advice for mothers-to-be about what to do once baby arrives. But, there’s something you can do before baby is born to help bring a calmer child into the world. The key is singing to baby while he or she is still in utero, according to a new study.

Researchers divided about 170 pregnant women into two groups; one group sang lullabies in the months immediately before and after birth. The other group did not sing to their baby at all.

They found that babies from the singing group generally cried 18.5 per cent of the time compared to 28.2 per cent of the time in the group who were not sung to.

Meanwhile for those with colic - excessive or frequent crying where there is no ill health - the babies who had enjoyed prenatal lullabies tended to cry for about a quarter of the time.

How well moms and babies were able to bond was also measured after birth. Researchers used a scientific measurement called the Mother-to-Infant Bonding Scale while they also recorded hours of baby sleep, crying incidences and bouts of colic.

In the weeks following birth, the postnatal bonding measurement was a little higher among the singers - 1.96 against 1.28 on the scale.

The authors concluded that: "Mothers singing lullabies could improve maternal-infant bonding. It could also have positive effects on neonatal behavior and maternal stress.”

Babies cry for many reasons. It’s how they communicate hunger, pain, fear, the need to sleep and more.

The most common reason for crying is hunger. Once you recognize the signs of hunger, you can feed before they start. Some signs to watch for are lip smacking, fussiness, putting their hands to their mouths and pushing their heads into your hand or shoulder.

Colic (tummy troubles) is also a common cause of crying. This may come after feeding, so burping the baby is often helpful. If your baby has colic a lot be sure to talk to your pediatrician.

A dirty diaper will trigger crying. This is an easy one to control; check and change often.

Babies need a lot of sleep. Instead of nodding off easily, babies may fuss and cry – especially when they're overtired.

Creating a quiet and warm (but not too warm or hot) room helps, plus rocking baby will often soothe and send them to dreamland. Also, make sure that their clothing is soft. Scratchy blankets or clothes can irritate their tender skin.

And of course, babies cry when they don’t feel well. Discuss what symptoms to look for and the best way to take your little one’s temperature with your pediatrician.

Sometimes, baby just cry and we’re not really sure why, after all, they can’t tell us. They may just want to be held and cuddled. We all like that.

The research was undertaken by the University of Milan and published in the journal Women and Birth.

Story sources: Henry Bodkin, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/03/07/sing-bump-lullabies-babies-womb-decreases-crying/

https://www.babycenter.com/0_12-reasons-babies-cry-and-how-to-soothe-them_9790.bc

 

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, http://www.today.com/moms/why-it-may-be-ok-spit-clean-your-babys-binkie-6C9773378

Your Baby

1 Egg a Day Improves Growth in Babies

1:30

While not as common in the United States, an astounding number of children worldwide suffer from stunted growth; mainly due to malnutrition or disease. It is a serious problem that impacts about 162 million children under the age of 5.

A new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St Louis, suggests that just one egg daily may significantly increase growth and reduce stunting in children.

"Eggs have the potential to contribute to reduced growth stunting around the world. They are also a good source of nutrients for growth and development in young children," said Lora Iannotti, an author and researcher in the Washington University study.

Researchers gave eggs to 80 infants between six and nine months of age for one year. Another 84 weren’t given eggs and served as a control group. Compared to these controls, the egg-eating youngsters had a 47 percent lower prevalence of stunting, which is defined as being too short for one’s age. Their length-for-age measurement also shot up by a significant margin.

Why would a daily egg have such a dramatic effect? Eggs are often referred to as “the perfect food.” They contain all of the necessary amino acids, as well as choline, various growth factors and DHA, a polyunsaturated fatty acid important for the brain. All of these are necessary for proper growth and development, and the normal function of the body.

There has been some concern in the past, that eggs may raise an infant’s cholesterol level or induce an allergic reaction.  However, research has not shown these hypotheses not to be true. The food appears to be safe and healthy for infants, says Iannotti.

Eggs are easily available for parents and affordable as a food option. Lots of families are even experimenting with raising chickens for their eggs in communities across the country.

Iannotti believes this study shows that just one egg a day could have a dramatic impact, globally, on the number of children suffering from stunted growth.

The study was published in the June edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Story sources: Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters, http://www.newsweek.com/one-egg-day-boosts-growth-infants-621266

Neil Schoenherr, https://source.wustl.edu/2017/06/eggs-can-significantly-increase-growth-young-children/

Your Baby

Infant Ear Infections Declining

2:00

Ear infections in infants are very common and can be quite unsettling for parents. The good news is that ear infections among U.S. babies are declining according to a new study.

Researchers found that 46 percent of babies followed between 2008 and 2014 had a middle ear infection by the time they were 1 year old. While that percentage may seem high, it was lower when compared against U.S. studies from the 1980s and '90s, the researchers added. Back then, around 60 percent of babies had suffered an ear infection by their first birthday, the study authors said.

The decline is not surprising, according to lead researcher Dr. Tasnee Chonmaitree, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch, in Galveston.

"This is what we anticipated," she said.

That's in large part because of a vaccine that's been available in recent years: the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Chonmaitree said. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine protects against several strains of pneumococcal bacteria, which can cause serious diseases like pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections.

Those bacteria are also one of the major causes of children's middle ear infections, Chonmaitree said.

She added that flu shots, which are now recommended for children starting at 6 months, could be helping as well. Many times an ear infection will follow a viral infection such as the flu or a cold.

Vaccinations "could very well be one of the drivers" behind the decline in infant ear infections, agreed Dr. Joseph Bernstein, a pediatric otolaryngologist who wasn't involved in the study.

Other factors could be having a positive impact as well, such as rising rates of breast-feeding and a decrease in babies’ exposure to secondhand smoke.

"The data really do suggest that breast-feeding -- particularly exclusive breast-feeding in the first six months of life -- helps lower the risk of ear infections," said Bernstein, who is director of pediatric otolaryngology at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, in New York City.

There's also the fact that breast-fed babies are less likely to spend time drinking from a bottle while lying down, Bernstein noted. That position can make some infants more vulnerable to ear infections, he said.

The study findings were based on 367 babies followed during their first year of life. By the age of 3 months, 6 percent had been diagnosed with a middle ear infection; by the age of 12 months, that had risen 46 percent, researchers found.

Breast-fed babies had a lower ear infection risk, however. Those who'd been exclusively breast-fed for at least three months were 60 percent less likely to develop an ear infection in their first six months, the study showed.

But whether babies are breast-fed or not, they will benefit from routine vaccinations, Chonmaitree said. "Parents should make sure they're on schedule with the recommended vaccines," she said.

Parents can have a difficult time recognizing an ear infection in an infant or a child to young to tell them that their ear hurts.

Some symptoms to watch for are:

·      Tugging at the ear

·      Fever

·      Crying more than usual

·      Irritability

·      Child becomes more upset when lying down

·      Difficulty sleeping

·      Diminished appetite

·      Vomiting

·      Diarrhea

·      Pus or fluid draining from ear

Treatment for ear infections rarely requires medication, such as antibiotics, except when an infection is severe or in infants. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most children with middle ear infections get better without antibiotics, and doctors often recommend pain relievers -- like acetaminophen -- to start. But with babies, Bernstein said, antibiotics are often used right away.

The AAP recommends antibiotics for infants who are 6 months old or younger, and for older babies and toddlers who have moderate to severe ear pain.

The study was published online in the March edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Amy Norton, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160328/infant-ear-infections-becoming-less-common

Your Baby

Why Do Babies Eyes Change Color?

1:30

Close to the top of questions many parent’s have about their newborn is what color will my baby’s eyes be?

It’ll take a while before you actually know your baby’s true eye color. That’s because eye color is a genetic trait that depends on several factors. While your baby may have gray or blue eyes at birth, his or her eyes may eventually be brown, blue, green, hazel, gray, violet or even a combination of colors. 

Parents' genes can mix and match in many different ways. The influences from each parent aren't known until after the baby is born. Eye color traits also include grandparents. A brown-eyed mother and father can have a child with blue eyes if there are blue eyes in his or her genetic history.

The colored part of the eye is called the iris, which has pigmentation that determines our eye color.

Human eye color originates with three genes, two of which are well understood. These genes account for the most common colors — green, brown, and blue.

Most babies are born with blue or gray eyes that can darken in their first three years.

Iris color, just like hair and skin color, depends on a protein called melanin. We have specialized cells in our bodies called melanocytes whose job it is to go around secreting melanin where it’s needed, including in the iris. When your baby is born his eyes will be gray or blue since melanocytes respond to light and he has spent his whole life in the dark.

Over time, if melanocytes only secrete a little melanin, your baby will have blue eyes. If they secrete a bit more, his eyes will look green or hazel. When melanocytes get really busy, eyes look brown (the most common eye color), and in some cases they may appear very dark indeed. Because it takes about a year for melanocytes to finish their work it can be a dicey business calling eye color before the baby’s first birthday. The color change does slow down some after the first 6 months of life, but there can be plenty of change left at that point.

We used to think of brown being "dominant" and blue being "recessive." But modern science has shown that eye color is not at all that simple.

Children can have completely different eye colors than either of their parents. But if both parents have brown eyes, it's most likely that their children also will have brown eyes.

The darker colors tend to dominate, so brown typically wins out over green, and green tends to win out over blue.

Eye color is one of those interesting things that pique our curiosity, but no matter what color your baby’s eyes end up being; they’ll be beautiful because they belong to your special little one!

Story sources: David L Hill MD,FAAP,  https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Newborn-Eye-Color.aspx

Burt Dubow, OD, http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/eye-color.htm

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