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Your Baby

“Furry Pets” May Help Kids Avoid Some Allergies


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Kathryn Doyle,



Your Baby

Why Do Babies Eyes Change Color?


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,

Burt Dubow, OD,

Your Baby

FDA Warning: No Homeopathic Teething Tablets or Gels


Some babies have little to no symptoms during teething, while others experience quite a bit of pain for months. When teething pain occurs, infants may cry and be irritable until they find relief.

Homeopathic tablets and gels aimed at helping soothe babies’ pain may be dangerous for infants and toddlers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced in a statement. 

The FDA is investigating reports of seizures in infants and small children who were given homeopathic teething products, which may contain "natural" compounds but are not regulated as drugs by the FDA.

In addition, the FDA said in the statement that "consumers should seek medical care immediately if their child experiences seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating or agitation" after using homeopathic teething tablets and gels.

According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrated Health, homeopathy relies on two theories: “like cures like”—the notion that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people; and “law of minimum dose”—the notion that the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness.

The FDA said in the statement that the agency is not aware of any proven health benefit of using homeopathic teething tablets and gels.

In 2010, the FDA issued a safety alert about a homeopathic teething tablet that contained belladonna. Belladonna — also called deadly nightshade — is a poisonous plant that contains a chemical called atropine. At high levels, atropine can be deadly. In homeopathy, it is used to treat redness and inflammation.

At the time, the FDA found that the teething tablets contained inconsistent amounts of belladonna. The company that made the tablets, Hyland, subsequently recalled the product.

Hyland issued a statement and video in response to the current FDA warning against the use of homeopathic teething remedies.

"As you may have seen, on September 30, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration issued a surprise statement recommending that consumers discontinue use of homeopathic teething tablets and gels because they may pose a risk," Hyland's stated. "We are fully cooperating with FDA’s inquiry and we’re providing them with all the data we have. We also hope to learn from FDA what facts, if any, the Agency has based its action on."

Hyland also noted “The safety and effectiveness of Hyland’s natural homeopathic medicines is our top priority. That’s why we work with regulators to ensure that our products meet the highest standards. If we ever had reason to be concerned of that safety, we would act immediately."

"Teething can be managed without prescription or over-the-counter remedies," Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the FDA statement. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends teething rings or hard, unsweetened teething crackers. Do not use frozen teething toys because they can cause more discomfort by injuring a baby's mouth, the AAP advises.

Be sure and check with your pediatrician about teething pain relief if your little one is having a hard time getting through the teething process.

Story sources: Sara G. Miller,

Michael Johnsen,


Your Baby

Recall: Toys R Us Pacifier Clips Due to Choking Hazard


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 and click on Product Recalls for more information.

Your Baby

Babies Shouldn’t Be Given OTC Cold Medicines


When a baby is sick with a cold, the first reaction for many parents is to want to give their infant something to make him or her feel better. It’s a natural response; no parent likes to see their little one feeling bad. But turning to the medicine cabinet or making a trip to the pharmacy isn’t going to help your baby get better any quicker and could be dangerous says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine should not be given to children younger than 2 because they could cause serious and potentially deadly side effects, the agency warned.

Children often get more colds than adults, and parents might want to give them pain relievers, decongestants and other medicines, but that would be a mistake. The FDA says the best medicine is simple rest and care.

"A cold is self-limited, and patients will get better on their own in a week or two without any need for medications. For older children, some OTC medicines can help relieve the symptoms -- but won't change the natural course of the cold or make it go away faster," Dr. Amy Taylor, a medical officer in FDA's Division of Pediatric and Maternal Health, said in the news release.

A virus is what typically brings on a cold, but people often ask their physician or pediatrician (for their children) for antibiotics to treat them. Antibiotics are only useful for treating bacterial infections.

Colds are usually accompanied by coughing which can actually be useful to the body.

"Coughs help the body clear the mucus out of the airway and protect the lungs; so you don't want to suppress all coughs," Taylor said.

"Coughs help the body clear the mucus out of the airway and protect the lungs; so you don't want to suppress all coughs," she said.

Fever helps the body fight off an infection and does not always need to be treated. But if your child is uncomfortable because of fever or other symptoms of a cold, there are alternatives to cough and cold medicine to help them feel more comfortable. Taylor says they include the following actions:

·      Using a clean cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier in a small area near the child’s bed may help moisten the air and decrease the drying of the nasal passages and throat.

·      For infants with a stuffy nose, use saline or salt water drops/spray to moisten the nasal passages and loosen the mucus. Then clean the nose with a bulb syringe.

Non-drug treatments to ease coughs in children with colds include giving them plenty of fluids, especially warm drinks to soothe the throat.

While most children with colds do not need to see a doctor, Taylor said parents should call the doctor if they see any of these symptoms:

·      A fever in an infant aged 2 months or younger, or a fever of 102 Fahrenheit or higher at any age.

·       Signs of breathing problems, including nostrils widening with each breath, wheezing, fast breathing or the ribs showing with each breath.

·      Blue lips, ear pain, not eating or drinking, signs of dehydration.

·      Excessive crankiness or sleepiness, a cough that lasts for more than three weeks, or worsening condition.

·      A persistent cough may signal a more serious condition such as bronchitis or asthma.

"You have to know your child," Taylor said. "With small infants, fever is a major concern, and you need medical advice. If you are worried about your child's symptoms, at any age, call your pediatrician for advice."

The FDA voluntarily removed cough and cold products for children under two years old from the market because of on-going safety concerns discussed in 2007.  These safety concerns revealed that there were many reports of harm, and even death, to children who used these products.  These reports of harm occurred when the child received too medication such as in cases as accidental ingestion, unintentional overdose, or after a medication dosing error.  In those reports of harm that lead to a child’s death, most of those children were under two years of age.  

Since infant formulations of cough and cold products were voluntarily removed from the market years ago, parents who currently give these products to their infants (less than 2 years of age) may be using cough and cold products designed for older children and modifying the doses, for instance by giving half the recommended amount to the infant than what is recommended for an older child.  This can be especially dangerous as dosing adjustments cannot safely be made this way and could add to the existing risk of giving these products to young children.

Colds can be tough on children and adults and this is certainly the time of year when we all are more susceptible to getting one. Fluids and plenty of rest, plus sanitizing the area around the sick person and not sharing objects like silverware and drinking cups is the best treatment for colds. And of course the most important cold remedy for baby is mommy and daddy’s love and tender touch. 

Source: Robert Preidt,

Daily Dose

Why Babies Get "Goop" In Their Eyes

1:15 to read

If you have recently had a baby you may already know about “clogged tear ducts”. This is also named nasal lacrimal duct obstruction and is fairly common in newborn infants in the first weeks to months of life.

A baby’ s tear duct, the tiny little hole in the inner corner of the eye, is very small and narrow and may often get obstructed. If that is the case the tears that an infant makes gets backed up and may form a thickened “goopy” discharge in the eye. At times when this occurs the baby’s eye will seem to be “glued” shut as the goop gets in the eyelashes and almost seems to cement those little eyes shut. Occasionally the eye will look a little puffy due to the debris in the eye. The best thing to do for this problem is to use a warm compress or cotton ball dampened with warm water to wipe the eyelashes and remove the discharge from the eye.

Once the “goop” is removed and your baby opens their eye, look at the whites (conjuctiva) of the eye. The conjunctiva should not appear to be red or inflamed. The goop will re-accumulate over time, but the eye itself should continue to look clear. Babies with clogged tear ducts do not appear to be ill and continue to eat well. The only problem should be the goopy eye. In order to help open the clogged duct you can try to massage the inner lower corner of the baby’s eye (beneath the tear duct itself), several times a day. Gently apply pressure to the area and do this several times a day. The eye “goop” always seems to be worse after the baby has been sleeping. It is also not uncommon for one eye to clear up only to have the other eye develop “goop”.  Most of these obstructions resolve on its own by four to six months of age. If the tear duct continues to be obstructed, talk to your pediatrician about a possible referral to the pediatric ophthalmologist.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Baby

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


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

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

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

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

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

Other safe sleep practices are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Your Baby

Should You Let Your Baby Cry Itself to Sleep?


As any parent of an infant will tell you- sleep is a precious thing. So, what’s the best way to get your baby to sleep through the night? There are many ways to help baby drop off to dreamland, but two of the most common had researchers wondering if there might be long-term harm resulting from these techniques.

Turns out, they was nothing to worry about.

The study tested two methods; graduated extinction and bedtime fading.

Graduated extinction is more commonly known as controlled-crying or letting baby cry his or herself to sleep while learning how to self-soothe without parental involvement

Bedtime fading is keeping baby awake longer to help them drop of more quickly.

Researchers discovered that both techniques work and neither had any long-term negative effects.

The graduated extinction approach also showed babies waking up fewer times during the night.

Parents worry about the controlled-crying method, in particular, according to study leader Michael Gradisar, a clinical psychologist at Flinders University, in Adelaide, Australia.

With that technique, parents resist the urge to immediately respond to their baby’s nighttime cries, so he or she can learn to self-soothe. Some parents worry that will damage their baby emotionally, and possibly cause "attachment" problems or other issues in the long run, Gradisar explained.

But, he said, his team found no evidence that was the case.

For the study, the researchers randomly assigned parents of 43 babies to one of three groups: one that started practicing controlled crying; one that took up bedtime fading; and a third, "control" group that was just given information on healthy sleep.

The babies ranged in age from 6 months to 16 months. All had a "sleep problem," according to their parents.

Parents in the controlled-crying group were given a basic plan: When their baby woke up crying during the night, they had to wait a couple of minutes before responding. They could then go comfort, but not pick up, the baby.

Over time, parents gradually let their baby cry for longer periods before responding.

Bedtime fading is a "gentler" approach, according to Gradisar: The aim is to help babies fall asleep more quickly by putting them down later.

Parents in that study group were told to delay their baby's bedtime for a few nights -- to 7:15 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., for instance. If the baby was still having trouble falling asleep, bedtime could be pushed back another 15 minutes.

After three months, the researchers found, babies in both sleep-training groups were falling asleep faster when their parents put them down -- between 10 and 13 minutes faster, on average. On the other hand, there was little change in the control group.

A year after the study's start, children in the three groups had similar rates of behavioral and emotional issues. They were also similar in their "attachment" to their parents -- which was gauged during standard tests at the research center.

Experts say that infants are usually able to sleep longer through the night, as they get a little older. By the age of 6 months, 80 percent of infants sleep all night. By 9 months, about 90 percent do.

If your baby doesn’t seem to be able to sleep through the night by those ages, contact your pediatrician to see if your little one may have a problem that needs checking out.

Story source: Amy Norton,


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,


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