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Your Baby

Does Your Unborn Baby Hear You?

2.00 to read

More than twenty years ago I remember reading that fetuses can learn to recognize their mothers and father’s voices and then respond to those voices as newborns. I thought… well maybe… but it seemed to me that voices from outside of the womb would sound muffled from inside. Of course, I don’t remember my in utero experience so I don’t really know how words sound.

Over the years though, scientists have continued to examine how and what babies learn before they are born.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland have determined that fetuses not only hear and recognize voices but they can become familiar with different words and different pitches used when saying those words.

The study involved 33 moms-to-be, and examined their babies after birth. While pregnant, 17 mothers listened at a loud volume to a CD with (2), four-minute sequences of the made-up words “tatata” or “tatota.” The words were said with several different pitches. The moms-to-be listened to the recordings beginning at 29 weeks of pregnancy -about 7 months along- until birth. They heard them around 50 to 71 times.

Following birth, researchers tested the babies for normal hearing and then performed an electroencephalograph (EEG) brain scan to see if the newborns would respond to the made-up words and different pitches. And sure enough, the brain scans showed increased activity from the babies who had been listening to the CD in utero when the words were played to them after birth. Not only did they respond to the words, but also seemed to recognize the different pitches used when they heard them.  

The babies born to the mothers who had not listened to the CDs while pregnant showed little reaction to the words or pitches.

 “We have known that fetuses can learn certain sounds from their environment during pregnancy,” Eino Partanen, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper, said via email.

“We can now very easily assess the effects of fetal learning on a very detailed level—like in our study, [we] look at the learning effects to very small changes in the middle of a word.”

Some experts believe the finding shows that not only can a third-trimester fetus hear and recognize voices; he or she can also detect subtle changes and process complex information.

“Interestingly, this prenatal exposure also helped the newborns to detect changes which they were not exposed to: the infants who have received additional prenatal stimulation could also detect loudness changes in pseudo words but the unexposed infants could not,” Partanen says.

“However, both groups did have responses to vowel changes (which are very common in Finnish, and which newborns have been many time previously been shown to be capable of).”

You may be wondering why is it even important that scientists know if fetuses can recognize voices or words.  Partanen says because sounds heard in utero may shape the developing human brain in ways that affect speech and language development after birth.

“The better we know how the fetus’ brain works, the more we’ll know about early development of language,” Partanen says. “If we know better how language develops very early, we may one day be able to develop very early interventions [for babies with abnormal development].” 

An abstract for the Finnish study is published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website.

Does talking and singing to your baby before it’s born actually stimulate his or her brain activity and increase language learning? Some experts say definitely yes, others say it has no impact. But really, most moms and dads enjoy baby bump bonding whether it’s productive or not. And who knows, maybe your pre-born hears you loud and clear. 

Source: Meghan Holohan, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/unborn-babies-are-hearing-you-loud-clear-8C11005474

Your Baby

Acetaminophen Ranks Highest in Infants’ Accidental Poisonings

2:00

Infants are just as susceptible to accidental poisonings as toddlers and older children, according to a new study. Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) was the most common medication error for infants. Some of the other products associated with accidental poisonings may surprise you.

The researchers look at data from all poison control center calls in a national database from 2004 to 2013 that related to babies younger than 6 months old.

Acetaminophen was the most reported medication mistake followed by H2-blockers (for acid reflux), gastrointestinal medications, combination cough / cold products, antibiotics and ibuprofen (such as Motrin or Advil).

The most common non-medication exposures were diaper care and rash products, plants and creams, lotions and make-up, the investigators found.

"I was surprised with the large number of exposures even in this young age group," said lead author Dr. A. Min Kang, a medical toxicology fellow at Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix in Arizona.

"Pediatricians typically do not begin poison prevention education until about 6 months of age, since the traditional hazard we think about is the exploratory ingestion -- that is when kids begin to explore their environment and get into things they are not supposed to," Kang added.

The research team found that there were more than 270,000 exposures reported during the decade of data, 97 percent of which were unintentional. However, over 37 percent were related to medication mistakes.

Acetaminophen was involved in more than 22,000 medication exposures and nearly 5,000 general exposures. This high rate reflects its frequent use because it's recommended instead of ibuprofen for infants, Kang pointed out.

"The concern with too much acetaminophen is liver failure although, luckily, young children are considered to be somewhat less likely to experience this than an adult because the metabolism is a little different," Kang said.

The current rate of acetaminophen mistakes may actually be lower notes Dr. Michael Cater, a pediatrician with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, because infant drops are now standardized across manufacturers.

The number of ibuprofen exposures, however, surprised Cater since ibuprofen isn't recommended for those under 6 months old.

"Also surprising was the number of ethanol poisonings," likely from parents leaving empty glasses or bottles of alcohol around, he said. "Low-lying plants, some of which are toxic, are a source of concern, and this was a bit of a surprise to me."

Diaper creams and lotions likely top the list because they're easily reachable by infants when left on the diaper-changing areas, Cater added.

The AAP has a policy statement recommending that all liquid medications use metric units for dosing and that they include administration devices, such as syringes, to reduce the chance of an overdose.

Perhaps doctors should offer poison prevention education to caregivers earlier, even starting when a baby leaves the hospital, Kang suggested.

The poison control hotline phone number- 1-800-222-1222 – should also be posted in the home and programmed into parents and caregiver’s cell phones Kang said.

The findings were published online in the January edition of the journal Pediatrics, and in the February print edition.

Source: Tara Haelle, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160113/acetaminophen-tops-list-of-accidental-infant-poisonings

Your Baby

Delayed Cord Clamping May Improve Infant’s Health

2:00

According to a new study, delaying umbilical cord cutting by 2 minutes after birth may result in better development in a newborn’s first days of life.

When to cut the umbilical cord has been debated and changed over a long period of time. Before studies began in the mid-1950s, cord clamping within 1 minute of birth was defined as "early clamping," and "late clamping" was defined as more than 5 minutes after birth. And the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have stated, "the ideal timing for umbilical cord clamping has yet to be established."

To provide further evidence in the debate of early versus late cord clamping, researchers led by Professor Julio José Ochoa Herrera of the University of Granada, assessed newborn outcomes for infants born to 64 healthy pregnant women to determine the impact of clamping timing on oxidative stress and the inflammatory signal produced during delivery.

All of these women had a normal pregnancy and spontaneous vaginal delivery. However, half of the women's newborns had their umbilical cord cut 10 seconds after delivery and half had it cut after 2 minutes.

Results showed that with late cord clamping there was an increase in antioxidant volume and moderation of inflammatory effects in newborns.

Other studies have shown that delaying clamping allows more time for blood to move from the placenta through the cord, improving iron and hemoglobin levels in newborns.

If delaying cord clamping is beneficial for newborns, then why do many doctors perform a quick cut? Apparently there are several reasons.

According to ACOG, a previous series of studies into blood volume changes after birth concluded that in healthy term infants, more than 90% of blood volume was attained within the first few breaths he or she took after birth.

As a result of these findings, as well as a lack of other recommendations regarding optimal timing, the amount of time between birth and umbilical cord clamping was widely shortened; in most cases, cord clamping occurs within 15-20 seconds after birth.

The World Health Organization (WHO) believes waiting longer is better. WHO supports late cord clamping (1-3 minutes) because it "allows blood flow between the placenta and neonate to continue, which may improve iron status in the infant for up to 6 months after birth."

ACOG states on their website that “Concerns exist regarding universally adopting delayed umbilical cord clamping. Delay in umbilical cord clamping may jeopardize timely resuscitation efforts, if needed, especially in preterm infants. However, because the placenta continues to perform gas exchange after delivery, sick and preterm infants are likely to benefit most from additional blood volume derived from a delay in umbilical cord clamping.”

WHO states clearly that that early cord clamping - less than 1 minute after birth - is not advised unless the newborn is asphyxiated and needs to be moved for resuscitation.

Simply holding a wet, crying and wiggling baby for 2 minutes may also prove difficult for physicians whose hands are gloved. The better option may be to place the baby on the mother’s stomach, wait the 2 minutes and then cut the cord.

More and more studies are finding that in certain circumstances, waiting a couple of minutes longer to cut the umbilical cord may be best for baby.

According to this study, there’s really no reason why newborns from a normal pregnancy and vaginal delivery should not be allowed at least 2 minutes before the cord is clamped after birth.

Mothers and fathers-to-be should discuss cord cutting timing with their doctor before the baby is born. If your preference is to allow more time before cutting the cord when your baby arrives, let your physician know ahead of time.  He or she can then advise you on when early clamping may be necessary and when it can wait a couple of extra minutes.

Scientists from the University of Granada and the San Cecilio Clinical Hospital in Spain conducted the research. The results were published in the journal Pediatrics. Source: Marie Ellis, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287041.php

http://www.acog.org

Your Baby

Babies May Never Outgrow Their Native Language

1:30

How early are babies able to learn their native language? According to a new study from South Korea, as early as the first few months of life.

The study takes an interesting look at the impression that language makes on newborns and whether babies actually retain any birth language ability even if they are adopted and grow up in a different country.

For this study, adults that were adopted from South Korea as babies by Dutch-speaking families were asked to pronounce Korean consonants after a short training course.

Researchers found that the now Dutch-speaking adults exceeded expectations at Korean pronunciation when retrained after losing their birth language.

The two languages have little in common. Korean consonants are unlike those spoken in Dutch.

The participants were compared with a group of adults who had not been exposed to the Korean language as children and then rated by native Korean speakers.

Both groups performed to the same level before training, but after training the international adoptees exceeded expectations.

There was no difference between children who were adopted under six months of age - before they could speak - and those who were adopted after 17 months, when they had learned to talk.

Because of the young ages of the adopted children, researchers suggested the language knowledge retained is more abstract in nature, rather than dependent on experience.

Dr Jiyoun Choi of Hanyang University in Seoul led the research.

The study is the first to show that early experiences of adopted children in their birth language, continues to give them an advantage decades later, even if they think it is forgotten, she said.

Other studies suggest that babies may learn their natural language as early as in the womb. Typically, babies begin uttering vowel sounds at about 6 weeks, but won’t be able to make words - associated with meanings - until around 12 to 16 months of age.  How early a child learns to speak is dependent on factors such as, how much parents, siblings or relatives interact and talk to them, along with good hearing and health.

''Please remember that [the] language learning process occurs very early in life, and useful language knowledge is laid down in the very early months of life as our study suggests,'' Choi said.

''Try to talk to your babies as much as possible because they are absorbing and digesting what you are saying.''

Talking to and positive interaction with your baby not only helps him or her learn language quicker, but also builds a foundation for feeling safe and valued as a unique and important member of the family. 

Story source: Helen Briggs, http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38653906

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

Infants That “Resettle” Sleep Better and Longer

2:00

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

Recall: Tommee Tippee Electric Bottle and Food Warmers Due to Fire Hazard

1:30

Mayborn USA is recalling about 255,000 Tommee Tippee electric bottle and food warmers because they could overheat and catch fire, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

This recall involves Tommee Tippee® Closer to Nature® electric bottle and food warmers, sold separately or as an accessory with the Complete Starter Kit or the All in One Newborn Set. The bottle and food warmer is white with a gray adjustable control dial located next to the on/off light. Tommee Tippee is stamped in gray on the front of the unit. It measures about 5 inches high, 5 ½ inches wide and 5 inches long. Bottle and food warmers included on this recall have “Min” or “0” stamped on the left-hand side of the control dial and have the UL logo and a six alpha-numeric batch code that begins with a number and ends with “GY” stamped on the underside. Consumers should visit www.tommeetippee.us/bottle-warmer to complete the free replacement registration form.

The firm has received six reports of bottle and food warmers overheating, melting, smoking and catching on fire; which resulted in $16,000 in property damage.

Consumers should immediately unplug and stop using the recalled bottle and food warmers and contact Mayborn for free replacement warmers.  

The product was sold at merchandise stores including Baby Depot, Baby Heaven, Bealls Outlet, BuyBuy Baby, CVS, Giant, Ideal Baby and Kids, Kohl’s, Marco Baby, Marshalls, Meijer, Ross Stores, Sam’s Club, Target, TJ Maxx, Toys R Us, Walgreens and Wal-Mart nationwide and online at Amazon.com, Diapers.com, Drugstore.com and Quidsi.com from July 2011 through April 2016 for about $21 for the individual bottle and food warmer and about $120 for the starter kit or newborn set.

Consumers can contact Mayborn online at www.tommeetippee.us and click on the recall button at the bottom of home page or toll-free at 844-340-3420 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Saturday for more information.

This Mayborn recall follows another recent recall from the company. In May 2016, over 3 million Tommee Tippee Sippee Spill-Proof Cups were recalled due to the possibility of mold build-up in the removable, one-piece white valve.

Mayborn USA had received 3,066 reports of mold in the removable, one-piece, opaque valve of the Sippee cups, including 68 reports of children experiencing diarrhea, vomiting or other symptoms associated with drinking from a cup with mold in the valve.

Story sources: https://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/Tommee-Tippee-Electric-Bottle-and-Food-Warmers-Recalled-by-Mayborn-USA/

http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/Tommee-Tippee-Sippee-Cups-Recalled-by-Mayborn-USA/

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

Recall: Infant Bathtubs Due to Drowning and Impact Injury

1:30

This recall involves 86,000 Summer Infant Lil’ Luxuries Whirlpool, Bubbling Spa & Shower with fabric slings.

Fabric slings on the recalled infant bathtubs can detach from the tub, posing a risk of impact injury and drowning.

CPSC and Summer Infant have received reports of 91 incidents of the sling detaching, including 11 reports of infants who received a bump to the head.

The infant bathtub is a battery-operated whirlpool bath with motorized jets intended for use with children from birth to 2 years. The product contains a fabric sling on a plastic frame onto which the infant is placed for bathing. The fabric sling on the recalled bathtubs does not have a white plastic attachment clip to hold the headrest area of the fabric sling to the plastic frame.

Recalled bathtubs have item numbers 18840, 18850, 18863, and 18873 and were sold between October 2012 and October 2013 with date codes starting with 1210, 1211, 1212, 1301, 1302, 1303, 1304, 1305, 1306, 1307, and 1308, which stand for the two-digit year followed by the two-digit month, on the fabric sling.

Consumers should immediately stop using the fabric sling in the recalled product and contact Summer Infant for a replacement fabric sling with a white plastic attachment clip. Consumers can contact Summer Infant toll free at 844-612-4254 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET on Friday, or online at www.summerinfant.com and click on “Safety Alerts & Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

The recalled items were sold at Toys R Us/Babies R Us and other juvenile product specialty stores nationwide from October 2012 through October 2013 for about $60. CPSC and Summer Infant warn consumers that these tubs could have been and could continue to be sold on the secondhand market.

 

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