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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

Your Baby

Recall: Toys R Us Pacifier Clips Due to Choking Hazard

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The recall involves about 53,000 Babies ‘R’ Us pacifier clips sold in an assortment of six colors and character designs, including a red monster, blue monster, monkey, giraffe, owl with one eye closed, and an owl with both eyes open.

The pacifier clip’s spring mechanism can break and release small parts, posing a choking hazard.

The pacifier clips have a circular plastic cover affixed to a metal spring clip and a fabric strip with snaps at the other end. The recalled pacifier clip assortment has model number 5F6237F and “®2014 Geoffrey, LLC” engraved on the back to the plastic cover.

The firm has received two reports of pacifier clips breaking, however, no injuries have been reported at this time.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled pacifier clips from babies and return the product to Babies ‘R’ Us or Toys ‘R’ Us for a refund.

The clips were sold at Babies ‘R’ Us  and Toys ’R’ Us stores nationwide from February 2015 through April 2016 for about $4.

Consumers can contact Toys ‘R’ Us at 800-869-7787 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or online at www.toysrus.com and click on Product Recalls for more information.

Your Baby

Does Your Baby Spit Up A Lot?

1:30

About half of infants spit up on a regular basis, and usually it’s not an indication that there’s a medical problem. More than likely, your little one has either more food in his or her tummy than it can hold or they have taken in too much air with the breast milk or formula. 

Watching their newborn spit up frequently can be kind of scary for new parents but experts agree that for the most part, there’s nothing to worry about- it’s normal.

"Seventy percent of infants under 3 months will spit up three times a day, and it's even perfectly normal for them to be spitting up as often as 10 or 12 times," says William Byrne, MD, chief of pediatric gastroenterology at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, in Portland, Oregon.

The most common reason is that the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, which opens and closes to let food into the stomach, is still very weak at this age -- so it's easy for stomach contents to escape and come back up. Your baby is most likely to spit up after a feeding, but this can also happen when she cries or coughs forcefully.

By 6 months babies have mostly outgrown spitting up especially when they start eating more solid foods and sitting up.

There are things you can do to help reduce baby’s spitting up. Start by making sure you’re not overfeeding your baby. If breastfeeding, check to see if your infant is latched on correctly so that less air goes down with the milk.

If she's formula-fed, consider using a product that reduces bottle-induced gas, such as a bottle with liners that collapse as your baby sucks. If your baby is 4 months or older and your pediatrician approves, you can try thickening the formula to help it sit better in his stomach (mix in a tablespoon of rice cereal for every 4 ounces of formula).

Keep your baby in an upright position and as still as possible for at least 30 minutes following each feeding so that the food can travel out of the stomach and into the small intestine.

You can reduce spitting up by burping your baby after every 1 to 2 ounces or 5 to 10 minutes of feeding. If you don’t get a burp within a few minutes, then baby probably just doesn’t need to burp.

There are times when spitting up can indicate that there is a medical problem. It’s normal for infants to experience gastroesophageal reflux (GER), usually referred to as reflux. However, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD is different. GERD is a more serious condition that can cause a baby a lot of pain. If your baby won't eat, isn't gaining weight, is extremely irritable, suffers from forceful projectile vomiting, or develops respiratory problems from aspirating food, he may have GERD.

If your baby is having symptoms of GERD take him or her to your pediatrician for a true diagnosis. Your doctor will be able to recommend the correct treatment.

If your newborn is spitting up frequently, don’t panic- it’s normal. Just keep those washcloths and burping pads handy to protect your clothing!

Sources: Parents Magazine, http://www.parents.com/baby/feeding/problems/spit-up-faqs/

http://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/food-and-nutrition-news-316/when-babies-spit-up-don-t-panic-696541.html

http://www.babycenter.com/0_why-babies-spit-up_1765.bc?page=1

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

“Furry Pets” May Help Kids Avoid Some Allergies

2:00

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, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/10/us-health-allergy-pet-microbes-idUSKCN0RA2CK20150910

 

 

Parenting

Why Do U.S. Birth Rates Continue to Drop?

2:00

An interesting look at the U.S. birth rate was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week. In a nut shell, the U.S. birth rate remains at an all-time low, women are waiting longer to have children, teenagers having kids is at a historic low, C-sections are on the decline as well as preterm births, fewer unmarried women are having babies but the birth rate for twins is up by 2 percent.

Let’s look at the breakdown on these noteworthy findings.

While the U.S. birth rate remained at an all-time low in 2013, some experts expect that trend to change as the economy improves.

"By 2016 and 2017, I think we'll start seeing a real comeback," said Dr. Aaron Caughey, chair of obstetrics and gynecology for Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. "While the economy is doing better, you're still going to see a lag effect of about a year, and 2014 is the first year our economy really started to feel like it's getting back to normal."

More than 3.9 millions babies were born in 2013 and while that sounds like a lot, it’s down a little less than 1 percent from the year before.

Along with fewer births, there’s also been a decline in the general fertility rate - by about 1 percent- for women ages 15 to 44, reaching another record all-time low.

Women are waiting longer to start a family. Some experts believe that the economy may be having an impact on that statistic as well. The average age of first motherhood rose to 26 from 25.8 in 2013. Not a huge increase, but an indicator that younger women have a lot going on in their lives and want to wait a little longer before having their first child.

"You had people right out of college having a much harder time getting a first job, and so you're going to see a lot more delay among those people with their first child," Caughey said.

Birth rates for women in their 20s declined to record lows in 2013, but rose for women in their 30s and late 40s. The rate for women in their early 40s was unchanged.

"If you look at the birth rates across age, for women in their 20s, the decline over these births may not be births forgone so much as births delayed," said report co-author Brady Hamilton, a statistician/demographer with the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

Teens seem to be getting the message that having a child is something they need to think long and hard about. The good news is that the teenage birth rate is at an all-time low. Rates fell for teens in nearly all-ethnic groups by about 10 percent from 2012.

"It is just an absolutely remarkable trend," Hamilton said. "We are reaching record lows, and it's really quite amazing."

What is causing the sharp decline is still up for debate, but Hamilton believes that newer policies and programs may be educating teens better about the dangers to their health and life goals if they become pregnant at too young an age. More access to birth control may also be having an impact.

The jump in twin birth rates by 2 percent is an area for concern for many experts in the health field. 

"Twins have worse outcomes, and we really hope over the next few years we'll be able to see a reduction in that rate," Caughey said. "We really want to encourage people to be more engaged when they are considering fertility treatments, to reduce the risk of any multiple births,"

Twins births may be on the way up, but the triplet and multiple birth rate dropped another 4 percent in 2013.

The CDC’s report also noted these other changes:

•       Preterm birth rate (before 37 weeks) declined in 2013 to 11.39 percent, continuing a steady decrease since 2006. Caughey chalked this up to a drop in late-preterm deliveries.

•       Cesarean delivery rate, which had been stable at 32.8 percent for 2010 through 2012, declined to 32.7 percent of all U.S. births in 2013. "The C-section rate has leveled off at a rate that's too high," Caughey said. "We feel there's a real need for the C-section rate to decline even more."

•       Birth rate for unmarried women fell for the fifth consecutive year, to 44.3 per 1,000 unmarried women ages 15 to 44 in 2013. The rate was 1 percent lower in 2013 than the year before.

Whether it’s the economy, college debt, better education for teens or lower fertility rates, the U.S. birth rate is going down.  If the economy continues to improve over the next couple of years, it’ll be interesting to see if this baby decline changes to a baby boom.

Source: Dennis Thompson, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20150115/us-birth-rate-continues-decline-cdc-reports

Your Baby

“Hard” Tap Water and Eczema in Infants

1:30

Previous studies have noted an association between “hard” tap water and eczema in schoolchildren, but a new study out of the U.K. suggests it may be linked to eczema in babies as well.

Water described as “hard” contains a high degree of minerals - specifically calcium, magnesium and manganese. It’s not considered hazardous, but it comes with a variety of unpleasant effects such as soap scum in sinks and bathtubs, spots on dishes and shower glass, clogged pipes from buildup and clothes that are left dingy after washing.

By some accounts, 85% of U.S. households have hard water.

If your child has eczema, then you know that it is a chronic condition marked by itchiness and rashes. It typically starts at about 6 months old and can last into adulthood.

The study included 1,300 3-month old infants from across the United Kingdom. Researchers checked hardness -- the water's mineral content -- and chlorine levels in the water supply where the babies lived.

Babies who lived in areas with hard water were up to 87% more likely to have eczema, the study found.

"Our study builds on growing evidence of a link between exposure to hard water and the risk of developing eczema in childhood," said lead author Dr. Carsten Flohr, from the Institute of Dermatology at King's College London.

One way to change the composition of hard water is by adding a water softener system to your household

There are several types of systems including salt-based Ion exchange softeners, salt-free softeners, dual tank and magnetic water softeners plus others.

While the other studies focused on school aged children, this is the first to look at the connection with eczema, hard water and babies, the researchers said.

The study wasn't designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship, so further research is needed to learn more about this apparent link, Flohr added.

"We are about to launch a feasibility trial to assess whether installing a water softener in the homes of high-risk children around the time of birth may reduce the risk of eczema and whether reducing chlorine levels brings any additional benefits," Flohr said in a college news release.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_159150.html

http://extoxnet.orst.edu/faqs/safedrink/hard.htm

 

 

Daily Dose

Infant Food Recommendations May Be On The Way

A new year has begun and with that there often come changes, one of which may be in how infants are introduced to solid foods.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that infants be fed breast milk or formula exclusively before beginning solid foods between four and six months of age it is typically recommended that infants begin spoon feedings with an iron fortified cereal, such as rice cereal. After a baby has “learned” how to eat cereal from a spoon, other foods are started typically beginning with vegetables, followed by fruits and then meats. For many years I was taught that women who exclusively breast fed their infants for the first six months of life might be able to prevent allergic disease in their children. This was especially recommended for mothers who had a strong family history of allergies. Many pregnant and nursing mothers also restricted their dietary intake of peanuts, shellfish and other foods in hope that this too might help reduce allergies in their offspring. For many years it was recommended that children also be restricted from eating peanuts in hopes of preventing peanut allergies that were suddenly on the rise. What we did find is that we reduced the incidence of choking episodes from peanut aspiration, but peanut allergies continued to rise and I have no idea what children were eating for lunch seeing that my own children were raised on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (cut in triangles I might add). Those recommendations changed several years ago, although many mothers still balk when I recommend peanut butter for their toddlers. Now, a study out of Finland, published in the December issue of Pediatrics Online, showed that the late introduction of solid foods is associated with an increased risk for allergic sensitization to foods and inhalant allergies in children at five years of age. Scientific evidence for delaying food introduction now seems to be pointing in the opposite direction. This study actually showed that by delaying the introduction of eggs, milk and cereal children were at increased risk for developing atopic dermatitis (eczema). The late introduction of fish and potatoes (go figure that one) led to more inhalant allergies. This was determined by drawing IgE levels in children at 5 years of age. So, there will be a lot of new studies being done to try and reproduce the Finnish data. New recommendations about infant feeding are already forthcoming from the AAP and should be published in February. In the meantime, I would not worry about introducing foods to your baby after five to six months of age as long as they are pureed and easy to swallow. You can still wait several days between starting new foods, but no need to be as limiting. There are many foods that we eat including numerous fruits and vegetables that may be pureed in a Cuisinart or blender or even mashed with a fork that are not offered in typical baby food jars. Why not feed your baby black eyed peas (remember we all need good luck), or avocado or mashed potatoes when you are fixing these foods for yourself. The broader the palate as an infant may encourage less picky eating later on. Stay tuned for more on this subject. That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Baby

Study: Fracking Linked to Babies Low Birth Weight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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