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Your Baby

Study: Preemies Do Well in School

1:45

Parents of premature babies often worry how their child will do academically later in life. A new study may ease their minds.

Researchers followed more than 1.3 million premature babies born in Florida and found that two-thirds of those born at only 23 or 24 weeks were ready for kindergarten on time, and almost 2 percent of those infants later achieved gifted status in school.

Though extremely premature babies often scored low on standardized tests, preterm infants born 25 weeks or later performed only slightly lower than full-term infants. For babies born after 28 weeks, the differences in test scores were negligible.

"We know a lot about the medical and clinical outcomes [of premature babies] and we know some about short-term educational outcomes, but what we didn't know is how the babies do once they get further out into elementary school and middle school," the study's first author Dr. Craig Garfield, associate professor of pediatrics and of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told CBS News.

The babies were born in Florida from 1992 to 2002 with gestational ages of 23 to 41 weeks who later entered Florida public schools between 1995 and 2012. The scope of the study included a diverse group of children with varied backgrounds and economic status.

The study did not include additional research possibly connected to the children’s development such as medical issues related to premature birth, or information about factors that may have helped these children perform well in school, such as their biological makeup or if they got extra support from family or school programs.

"This is a really large group of children," Garfield said. "A lot of studies are done in a select group, but the population in this study is really all the babies that were born and lived up to one year in Florida and we were able to follow them through the education system to eighth grade."

Senior author David Figlio, director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, acknowledges concerns that very premature infants (those born between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy) tend to score well below their full-term peers on standardized tests. However, he said he believes "the glass is more than half-full."

"Most infants born at 23 to 24 weeks still demonstrate a high degree of cognitive functioning at the start of kindergarten and throughout school," he said in a statement.

The study is good news for parents already consumed with uncertainty about the future of their premature infant – something they need during a very difficult time.

Story source: Ashley Welch, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/premature-babies-preemies-catch-up-in-school-study/

Your Baby

Longer Breast-Feeding Time, Less Childhood Obesity

2:00

A new study looks at the duration of breast-feeding and babies who are high risk for obesity, as they get older. Researchers found that the longer mothers breast –fed these higher risk babies, the less likely the babies were to become overweight later.

"Breast-feeding for longer durations appears to have a protective effect against the early signs of overweight and obesity," said lead researcher Stacy Carling, a doctoral candidate in nutrition at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.

Carling and her colleagues followed 595 children from birth to the age of 2. They tracked the children's weight and length over this time, and compared individual children's growth trajectories to how long the children breast-fed.

Which children are considered at high risk for extra weight gain? Researchers found that babies whose mothers were overweight or obese, mothers with lower education levels and mothers who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to have overweight children. Almost 59 percent of the children at risk for being overweight had mothers with one or more of these characteristics, compared to about 43 percent of the children not at risk for excessive weight gain.

Higher-risk babies who breast-fed for less than two months were more than twice as likely to gain extra weight than those who breast-fed for at least four months.

Although the study didn’t prove that longer breast-feeding actually reduced risk for obesity, it did provide several reasons why the link between the two may exist.

"Breast-feeding an infant may allow proper development of hunger and satiety signals, as well as help prevent some of the behaviors that lead to overweight and obesity," Carling said.

"Breast-feeding, especially on demand, versus on schedule, allows an infant to feed when he or she is hungry, thereby fostering an early development of appetite control," she said. "When a baby breast-feeds, she can control how much milk she gets and how often, naturally responding to internal signals of hunger and satiation."

The study did not include information on whether the babies were exclusively breast-fed or how often they were getting milk at the breast versus from a bottle, but the time required to reduce obesity risk was not long.

"The difference of two months of breast-feeding may be enough to reap some benefit," Carling said.

There are many reasons mothers choose to breast-feed for shorter periods, and some mothers are not able to breast-feed at all. For mothers that choose to breast-feed, Carling believes they need to be supported on many levels.

"Ultimately, increasing breast-feeding rates in the United States means increasing knowledge and support at a variety of levels from institutional to interpersonal," Carling said. "Our study recognizes the benefit of longer duration breast-feeding in a specific population and, hopefully, this and other studies will lead to more customized breast-feeding promotion in those populations at higher risk for overweight and obesity."

The findings were published in the January print issue of Pediatrics, and funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Source: Tara Haelle, http://consumer.healthday.com/women-s-health-information-34/breast-feeding-news-82/breast-feeding-for-longer-may-protect-infants-at-risk-for-obesity-694218.html

Your Baby

Mom’s Blood Pressure May Determine Sex of Baby

1:45

Parents-to-be have been looking for signs that predict the sex of their baby for thousands of years.  Carrying high? You’re having a girl! Is your baby bump round like a basketball? Congratulations, you’re having a boy! While these “old wives tales” have never been reliable, scientists can now make an educated guess at about four and half months, during pregnancy, with an ultrasound. Another test, amniocentesis, can be used to check the baby’s chromosomes. This tests is usually reserved for older mothers to identify possible genetic problems.

A new study from China, may offer another alternative for determining the sex of a pre-born baby  - tracking the mother’s blood pressure.

Researchers began their study in 2009, with just over 1,400 newly married women in Liuyang, China. All the women had the intention of becoming pregnant within 6 months.

Before becoming pregnant, all the women underwent full lab tests to record their blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels.

Once the women became pregnant, their health was tracked. All received routine obstetric care, including continual monitoring of blood pressure shifts, as well as the diagnosis of any complications throughout their pregnancies.

Ultimately, the study participants gave birth to 739 boys and 672 girls.

Researchers found that women who gave birth to boys had registered a higher pre-pregnancy systolic blood pressure (the upper number in a blood pressure reading) than women who gave birth to girls. Mothers of boys averaged about 113 mm Hg, versus mothers of girls who had an average near 110 mm Hg.

After making adjustments for maternal age, educational background, smoking history, obesity and blood labs, they found the blood pressure numbers still held up.

"The only thing that was related was blood pressure, but blood pressure was strongly related," said study co-author Ravi Retnakaran, M.D., an endocrinologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

The findings add another link in the mystery of what determines the sex of a fetus in utero; however, researchers say more studies are needed to prove a mother’s blood pressure determines the sex of her child.

"One of the things we don't want is for people to look at this and think, 'Oh, we can manipulate the blood pressure before pregnancy and thereby change the chances of having a boy or a girl.' We definitely are not saying that, because we are not showing cause and effect," Retnakaran said. "I think the way to look at this is that it may be telling us something very new about [our] physiology."

The study was published in the American Journal of Hypertension.

Story sources: Alan Mozes, http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20170112/could-moms-pre-pregnancy-blood-pressure-predict-babys-gender#1

Jessica Mattern, http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/womens-health/news/a57553/blood-pressure-sex-of-baby/

Your Baby

Toxic Chemicals Found in Baby Foods

2:00

Most parents naturally assume that store-bought baby foods and formulas are well regulated and safe for their babies to consume. That may not be the case says a recent study released by the Clean Label Project. In fact, many of these products may contain high-levels of toxins, researchers said.

For the study, Clean Label Project, a non-profit which advocates for transparent labeling of products, looked at the top-selling formulas and baby food as well as emerging national brands based on Nielsen data. Of about 530 products that the researchers tested, 65 percent were found positive for arsenic, 58 percent for cadmium, 36 percent for lead, and 10 percent for acrylamide.

The highest toxin level found was arsenic. It is associated with cardiovascular conditions, developmental defects, diabetes, neurotoxicity, skin lesions, and even cancer, was present in nearly 80 percent of infant formulas. Rice-based baby food such as snack puffs, tend to have the highest levels of arsenic.

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic in infant rice cereal, but isn't enforcing that limit. Rice often absorbs arsenic from contaminated soil as it grows in the environment.

"It is important for consumers to understand that some contaminants, such as heavy metals like lead or arsenic, are in the environment and cannot simply be removed from food," said Peter Cassell, a FDA spokesperson.

BPA was also found, although many companies now advertise as PBA free. Sixty-percent were found positive for the industrial chemical bisphenol A.

Lead, known for its’ devastating impact on children’s health, was found in 36 percent of the products. Low levels of lead in children's blood have been connected to lower IQs, slowed growth, behavioral problems, hearing issues and anemia, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Gerber, Mead Johnson (Enfamil), Plum Organics all released statements following the study assuring customers their products adhere to strict safety standards. Gerber said its foods "meet or exceed U.S. government standards for quality and safety." Mead Johnson said it specifically monitors the presence of many materials, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, BPA and acrylamide to ensure "safety and high quality." Plum, who also stressed products are "completely safe," said over the past year, it's created "new, more robust guidelines for contaminants in our products" and is in the process of implementing those rules.

Jaclyn Bowen, executive director of Clean Label Project, said, "The baby industry needs to do a better job in protecting America’s most vulnerable population,"

The researchers found that mainstream brands, which include Enfamil, Gerber, Plum Organics, and Sprout, were among the worst offenders that scored two out of five in the report on toxic metals.

A more in-depth review of the study can be found on http://www.cleanlabelproject.org/product-ratings/infant-formula-baby-food/

Story sources: Ashley May, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/10/25/these-baby-foods-and-formulas-tested-positive-arsenic-lead-and-bpa-new-study/794291001/

Allan Adamson, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/214847/20171025/baby-food-and-infant-formulas-tested-positive-for-arsenic-lead-and-other-toxic-chemicals.htm

Your Baby

Pregnancy: Too Much, Too Little Weight Gain Adds to Health Risks

2:30

If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, starting your pregnancy at a normal weight is best for baby and you, according to new study.

The study found that too much or even too little weight, increases an expectant mom's risk for severe illnesses and death. 

"Not only for baby's sake, but also for your own sake, have a healthy diet and get regular exercise before pregnancy," said study lead author Dr. Sarka Lisonkova. She's an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia and the Children's and Women's Health Centre in Vancouver. 

"It's never too late, even if you're already pregnant," Lisonkova said, adding that weight gain during pregnancy can also increase the risk for severe illnesses and even death in expectant mothers.

The study was large, including information on three-quarter of a million women. The average age of the women was 28 years old.

The researchers found that the more a woman weighed, the more likely she was to have a severe illness or to die during pregnancy. Underweight women also had an increased risk for these outcomes. Severe illness included such conditions as eclampsia (convulsions or coma brought on by high blood pressure), sudden kidney failure, sepsis, hemorrhage and respiratory problems.

While the results sound scary, the risk to any one particular woman is low. For instance, the study found that, compared with normal-weight pregnant women, there were about 25 more cases of either severe illness or death for every 10,000 pregnant women if the woman was obese.

"The chance that any one woman dies in pregnancy is about 1 in 6,000 in the United States," said Dr. Aaron Caughey, who chairs the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland

However, what's especially concerning about this study's findings, he said, is that more and more women are entering pregnancy obese or super-obese. With higher levels of obesity, "there's an incredibly high inflammatory state that increases the risk of rare outcomes, like thromboembolism," a blood clot, Caughey said.

He said that underweight women likely had a chronic illness that increased their risk. 

Both Caughey and Lisonkova said that ideally, women should be at a normal weight before getting pregnant. If a woman isn't at her ideal weight, pregnancy is a good time to start focusing on things such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, they said. 

Pregnancy can be a "focusing event for affecting behavior change in women," Caughey said, because once pregnant, a woman often focuses on doing what she can to have a healthy baby.

"Pregnancy is a great time to think about diet and exercise, especially because women often drive health behaviors in the family, so there's no time like the present to make healthy changes," he said. 

Lisonkova also emphasized the importance of good prenatal care. "Clinicians can catch signs of potential complications earlier with regular checkups," she said. 

A woman will naturally gain weight while pregnant and that’s as it should be, but if you begin a pregnancy overweight it’s more difficult to keep the weight gain within the normal range. It’s healthier for mom and baby to begin a pregnancy at or close to a normal weight.

The study was published in the November edition of Journal of the American Medical Association.

Story source: Serena Gordon, https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/overweight-and-underweight-health-news-516/weighing-too-much-or-too-little-when-pregnant-can-be-risky-728505.html

 

 

Your Baby

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

2:00

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 http://www.cpsc.gov.

•       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.

Source: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/News/Pages/Study-Shows-One-Half-of-US-Infants-Sleep-in-Potentially-Hazardous-Bedding.aspx

Your Baby

Happier Mom - Less Colicky Baby?

1:30

There’s an old saying that husbands have used many times, “happy wife, happy life.” Now it seems there may be a new saying about to trend, “happy mom, less colicky baby.” It doesn’t have the rhyme or snappy cadence, but it may be true none the less, according to recent research.

In a new study of 3,000 mothers, relationship happiness, a solid support system and an involved partner were found to protect against colic -- defined as crying or fussiness three or more hours a day.

"Maybe the baby cries less if the mom and dad are happier," or mothers in happy relationships may not view their baby's crying negatively and may not report it as colic, suggested study senior author Kristen Kjerulff of Penn State College of Medicine. 

Having a supportive partner and receiving support from friends and family were also associated with a lower risk of colic, according to the study.

The participants were ages 18 to 35 years old and gave birth at 75 hospitals in Pennsylvania between January 2009 and April 2011. Nearly 12 percent of the mothers said their infants were colicky.

However, the happier a woman said she was with her relationship with her partner during and after pregnancy, the lower the risk of colic in her infant. This was true even among women with postpartum depression and among those whose partner was not their baby's biological father, the study reported.

Interestingly, the research showed that babies of single mothers had the lowest rate of colic. The single women reported having higher levels of general social support.

"If you don't have a partner, you can still have lots of social support, lots of love and lots of happy relationships, and all of that's going to be better for the baby," said Kjerulff, a professor of public health sciences.

Other research has linked increased colic in babies with a mother’s anxiety and lack of support during pregnancy, as well as post partum depression.

The study does not prove a causal relationship between happier mothers and less colicky babies, but an association between the two.

The study results were published recently in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development.

Story source: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/colic-health-news-139/happy-mom-means-less-colicky-baby-722007.html

Your Baby

Recall: 86,000 Osprey Poco Child Backpack Carriers

1:30

Osprey Child Safety Products is recalling 82,000 Poco child carriers after receiving reports that children have fallen from the seats.

Osprey has received four reports of children falling through the carrier leg openings, resulting in one report of a skull fracture and one report of scratches to the head.

This recall involves all models of Poco, Poco Plus and Poco Premium child backpack carriers manufactured between January 2012 and December 2014.  The nylon child carriers were sold in three colors: “Romper Red,” “Koala Grey,” and “Bouncing Blue.” They have a metal frame and a gray padded child’s seat inside. The production date is stamped on a black label sewn into the interior of the large lower zippered compartment on the back of the carrier.

Recalled carriers have a production date code of S12SBPR1, S12SBPR1B, S12SBPR2, S12SBPR3, S12SBPR4, F12SBPR1, F12SBPR2, S13SB IPO, S13SBPR1, S13SBPR2, S13SBPR3, S13SBPR4, F13SBPR1, F13SBPR2, F13SBPR3, S14SBPR1, S14SBPR2, S14SBPR3, S14SBPR4, S14SBPR5. “Osprey” is printed on the fabric above the kickstand. The model name is printed on the back at the bottom.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled carriers and contact Osprey for a free Seat Pad Insert for use along with the existing safety straps to secure the child in the carrier. Consumers who previously received and installed the free Seat Pad Insert in their carriers are not required to take further action.

The child carriers were sold at REI and specialty outdoor stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com from January 2012 to December 2015 for between $200 and $300. 

Consumers can contact Osprey, toll-free ,at 866-951-5197 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT Monday through Friday, email at pocoseatpad@ospreypacks.com or online at www.ospreypacks.com and click on “Poco Safety Notices” on the navigation bar at the top right hand corner of the page for more information.

Story source: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/osprey-recalls-child-backpack-carriers#

Your Baby

Updated Safety Guidelines for Infant Sleeping

2:00

Elaborate beddings and plush accessories may look stylish and cute in a newborn nursery however, pediatricians know that these things should never be part of a baby’s sleeping environment. Getting new parents to understand why this type of bedding can be dangerous for babies is one of the reasons that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated and issued new safety guidelines.

Nineteen evidence-based recommendations aimed at protecting infants up to 1 year of age are featured in SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment, an AAP policy statement and technical report from the Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Safe sleep recommendations include placing infants on their backs to sleep; using a firm sleep surface; room sharing without bed sharing; avoiding exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs; breastfeeding; routine immunization; and using a pacifier.

Every year, about 3,500 infants die from sleep-related deaths. Soon after the “Back to Sleep” campaign debuted in 1994, the SIDS rate declined, but it has leveled off in recent years. Ninety percent of cases occur before an infant turns 6 months of age, with peak incidence between 1 and 4 months.

Most parents know the importance of placing babies on their backs to sleep; the focus now is on the total sleep environment.

“I think the back-to-sleep message has gotten out loud and clear,” said Rachel Y. Moon, M.D., FAAP, lead author of the statements and chair of the task force. “When you ask parents, almost every parent knows — whether they are doing it or not is a different thing. We have been less successful at getting people to not sleep with their babies … and much less successful in getting the soft bedding away from babies.”

The dangers of bed-sharing and soft bedding are two problems that Moon says are often misunderstood.

“For the soft bedding, everybody thinks if it’s soft, then it can’t hurt the baby. But soft bedding is actually really a problem because it’s so soft they sink into it. People will often use pillows to ‘cushion’ the babies, and babies sink into them. …That’s very dangerous.”

It’s similar with bed-sharing, she said. “Some parents also think if baby is right next to them, they can tell if there is a problem … and protect the baby,” Moon noted.

A simple ABC formula can help remind new parents and caregivers of safe sleeping actions.

Michael H. Goldstein, M.D., FAAP, a neonatologist and task force member, lays out the “ABCs”:

 A for the baby sleeping alone

for back sleeping

C for sleeping in an uncluttered crib (or play-yard or bassinet)

“Outside of these, one of the biggest things I would really like to see people take away from the updated recommendations is that no matter what, babies should never sleep on a couch, especially with another person,” Dr. Goldstein said. Babies can get wedged between the adult and the cushions.

Other messages in the guidelines deal with sleeping with an infant, swaddling, breastfeeding and pacifiers.

Breastfeeding, along with the use of a pacifier after breastfeeding is established, also is a key recommendation. “We don’t know if people realize that (by breastfeeding) you reduce the risk of SIDS about 50%,” Dr. Goldstein said.

Parents also are advised to be vigilant about environments out of the home. A study in the November issue of Pediatrics found out-of-home settings are more likely to have certain risk factors for sleep-related deaths, including level placement for sleep and location in a stroller or car seat instead of a crib or bassinet

One of the most important milestones for parents and caregivers is when baby sleeps through the night However, it’s normal and appropriate for newborns to wake up a couple of times during the night, especially if breastfeeding, said Dr. Goldstein. Babies will eventually sleep through the night, but not till their little bodies are ready.

Below are the 2016 infant sleep recommendations for parents, caregivers, researchers, pediatricians and media outlets:

1. Place infants on their back to sleep for every sleep period until they are 1 year old. This position does not increase the risk of choking and aspiration.

2. Use a firm sleep surface.

3. Breastfeeding is recommended.

4. Infants should sleep in the parents’ room, close to the parents’ bed but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year, but at least for the first six months.

5. Keep soft objects and loose bedding out of the infant’s sleep area.

6. Consider offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.

7. Avoid smoke exposures during pregnancy and after birth.

8. Avoid alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth.

9. Avoid overheating and head covering in infants.

10. Pregnant women should obtain regular prenatal care.

11. Infants should be immunized according to the recommended schedule.

12. Avoid using commercial devices that are inconsistent with safe sleep recommendations, such as wedges and positioners.

13. Don’t use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce SIDS risk. 

14. Supervised tummy time while the infant is awake can help development and minimize positional Plagiocephal (flat head syndrome).

15. There is no evidence to recommend swaddling to reduce the risk of SIDS.

16. Health care professionals and staff in newborn nurseries and neonatal intensive care units as well as child-care providers should endorse and model recommendations to reduce SIDS risk.

17. Media and manufacturers should follow safe sleep guidelines in messaging and advertising.

18. Continue the Safe to Sleep campaign, focusing on ways to further reduce sleep-related deaths.

19. Research and surveillance should continue on all risk factors.

Parents and caregivers can find more information about the “Safe to Sleep” program at: http://www.healthychildcare.org/pdf/sidsparentsafesleep.pdf

Story source: Alyson Sulaski Wyckoff, http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/10/24/SIDS102416

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