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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

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

“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

 

 

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

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

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

Should You Let Your Baby Cry Itself to Sleep?

1:30

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, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20160524/what-really-works-to-help-baby-sleep

 

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

Benefits of Waiting to Clamp the Umbilical Cord

2:00

Could waiting just three minutes before clamping the umbilical cord after childbirth make a difference in your child’s motor and social skills? According to a new Swedish study, children of mothers that delay cord clamping, reap the benefits later in life – especially for boys.

Delaying cord clamping is already known to benefit babies by increasing iron levels in their blood for the first few months of life, researchers write in the most recent edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

“There is quite a lot of brain development just after birth,” said lead author Dr. Ola Andersson of Uppsala University in Sweden. “Iron is needed for that process.”

For the study, researchers followed up on 263 Swedish children born at full term to healthy mothers about four years earlier.

As newborns, the children had been part of a larger study in which a total of 382 babies were randomly assigned to either early cord clamping (within 10 seconds of birth) or late cord clamping (at least three minutes after birth).

Four years later, the children were similarly intelligent regardless of when their cords had been clamped, but there were some notable differences.

“When you just meet a child, you wouldn’t see or notice any differences,” Andersson told Reuters Health. “But we could see the differences in fine motor function.”

The children were tested for IQ, motor skills and behavior. Parents also reported on their children’s communication, problem solving and social skills.

Results of the study showed that overall brain development and behavior scores were similar for both groups, and there was no significant difference in IQ scores.

However, more children in the delayed cord clamping group had a mature pencil grip on the fine motor skills test and better skills on some social aspects compared to those whose cords were clamped early.

Researchers found that boys benefitted much more than girls.

Iron deficiency is much more common among male infants than among females, Andersson said.

“Girls have higher iron stores when they are born,” he said.

Delaying cord clamping by three minutes allows an extra 3.5 ounces of blood to transfuse to the baby, which is equivalent to a half a gallon of blood for an adult, Andersson said.

“There’s a lot of iron in that volume,” he said. “Even three minutes can have quite a lot of effect on the iron in the blood in the body for a long time after birth.”

The new study provides evidence of benefit for full-term babies in a developed country where nutritional deficiency is extremely rare, Andersson said.

“When a baby transitions from inside the womb to outside the womb, if you think about what nature does, it is not to clamp the cord immediately,” said Dr. Heike Rabe of the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and University Hospitals in the UK.

Why do doctors traditionally clamp the cord quickly? About 60 years ago, doctors began clamping the cord almost immediately because it was thought that it would reduce the risk of hemorrhage for the mother. Doctors now know that is not the case.

Even though the scientific understanding behind cord clamping has changed, it’s still difficult for some doctors to change how they’ve always done things.  Today, parents can have more say in how their baby is born and whom they choose to deliver their child.

Parents-to-be should discuss their wishes with their OB/GYN or family doctor ahead of time and weigh the pros and cons of delaying cord clamping for their particular birthing process.

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/26/us-gynecology-pediatrics-cord-neurodevel-idUSKBN0OB2ET20150526

 

 

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