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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

Parenting

Flour with Added Folic Acid Is Reducing Birth Defects

2:00

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is known to help prevent certain types of birth defects in newborns. In January 1998, the FDA added a requirement that folic acid be added to breads, cereals, and other products that use enriched flour. These fortified foods include most enriched breads, flours, corn meals, rice, noodles, macaroni, and other grain products.

Since then, a new report shows that serious birth defects have fallen 35 percent. While that is certainly wonderful news, a 2014 study found that as many as 25 percent of American women are still not receiving even the minimum amount of recommended folic acid from either their diet or through supplements.

Women who don't get enough folic acid have an elevated risk of giving birth to a child with conditions called neural tube defects, the best known of which is spina bifida, which often causes paralysis.

Health experts began recommending that women of childbearing age take folic acid in 1992 because studies showed that taking 400 micrograms a day could reduce spina bifida and related birth defects by up to 70%.

Doctors now recommend that women who are considering having children start taking folic acid before trying to get pregnant. Since some pregnancies are not necessarily planned, many doctors recommend that women of childbearing age take a daily multivitamin that contains folic acid.

The benefits of folic acid have been researched for quite some time and since food producers began adding folic acid to grains, that simple step has prevented more than 1,300 babies a year from being born with spina bifida or related conditions, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Authors of the new study found that Hispanic women are more likely to have a baby with spina bifida or a similar birth defect.

That's partly because the "masa harina" corn flour used in tortillas and other Hispanic foods isn't fortified with folic acid, the study says. The March of Dimes has petitioned the FDA to require that folic acid be added to corn flour. Adding folic acid to corn flour would prevent another 40 cases of spina bifida or related conditions each year, the report says.

"Even with fortification, there will be some women that do not get the recommended amount of folic acid every day," says Candice Burns Hoffmann, of the CDC's National Centers for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "We still have more work to do."

If you’re considering having a baby, talk to your doctor before becoming pregnant about the benefits of folic acid and how much you may need.

Sources: Liz Szabo, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/15/folic-acid-birth-defects/21784019/

http://www.spinabifidaassociation.org

Your Baby

Breastfeeding May Improve Infant’s Dental Development.

2:00

Infants that breastfeed exclusively or predominately for their first three to six months of life are less likely to develop any kind of dental misalignment later on according to a new study.

The researchers, led by Karen Peres at the University of Adelaide in Australia, tracked just over 1,300 children for five years, including how much they breast-fed at 3 months, 1 year and 2 years old.

The children were also monitored for pacifier use.  About forty percent used a pacifier daily for four years.

When the children were 5, the researchers determined which of them had various types of misaligned teeth or jaw conditions, including open bite, cross bite, overbite or a moderate to severe misalignment.

The risk of overbite was one-third lower for those who exclusively breast-fed for three to six months compared to those who didn't, the findings showed. If they breast-fed at least six months or more, the risk of overbite dropped by 44 percent.

Similarly, children who exclusively breast-fed for three months to six months were 41 percent less likely to have moderate to severe misalignment of the teeth. Breast-feeding six months or longer reduced their risk by 72 percent.

The reason breastfeeding might offer protection from dental misalignments is the way it works an infant’s jaws. Breastfeeding involves coordinated tongue and jaw movements that support the normal development of teeth and facial muscles.

Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, agrees that it’s the jaw movement.

"Breast-feeding requires the use of jaw muscles more so than bottle-feeding, so the mechanics of breast-feeding stimulate muscle tone in the jaw," Fisher said.

Open bite, overbite and moderate to severe misalignment were generally less common overall among the children who mostly or exclusively breast-fed. Children who mostly breast-fed but also used pacifiers, however, were slightly more likely to have one of these misalignment issues, the study found.

"Pacifiers are used for non-nutritive sucking but when overused, they can put pressure on the developing jaw and lead to more problems in older children with malocclusion [teeth/jaw misalignment]," Fisher said.

Parents oftentimes depend on the pacifier to help babies relax and self-soothe. The key is moderation of use.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents consider using a pacifier for an infant's first six months because pacifiers are associated with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

"Most infants need to suck for comfort or non-nutritive sucking," Fisher said. "Pacifiers can be helpful in the newborn period and even help reduce incidents of SIDS in infants who sleep with them."

Instead, parents should simply limit pacifier use, she said. In addition, pacifiers are not needed past the first six to 12 months, Fisher said, so parents can begin weaning after that time.

Like most studies, the results did not prove cause and effect, but an association.

The findings were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Tara Haelle, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20150615/breast-feeding-may-have-dental-benefits-study-suggests

Your Child

Kid’s Allergies Linked to Depression and Anxiety

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According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 40 percent of U.S. children suffer from allergies. It is the third most common chronic disease in kids under the age of 18.

A new study suggests that children who have allergies at an early age are more likely to have problems with anxiety and depression than those that do not.

One reason may be that children with allergies tend to keep their troubles to themselves or  “internalize” them.

“I think the surprising finding for us was that allergic rhinitis has the strongest association with abnormal anxiety/depression/internalizing scores compared to other allergic diseases,” said lead author Dr. Maya K. Nanda of the division of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rhinitis is more commonly called “hay fever” and includes symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes.

The researchers studied 546 children who had skin tests and exams at age one, two, three, four and seven and whose parents completed behavioral assessments at age seven. They looked for signs of sneezing and itchy eyes, wheezing or skin inflammation related to allergies.

Parents answered 160 questions about their child’s behaviors and emotions, including how often they seemed worried, nervous, fearful, or sad.

Researchers found that the four-year–old children with hay fever symptoms or persistent wheezing tended to have higher depressive or anxiety scores than others at age seven.

The more allergies a child had, the higher the anxiety and depression scores.

“This study can't prove causation. It only describes a significant association between these disorders, however we have hypotheses on why these diseases are associated,” Nanda told Reuters Health by email.

Another reason for the association may be that children with allergic diseases may be at increased risk for abnormal internalizing scores due to an underlying biological mechanism, or because they modify their behavior in response to the allergies, she said.

Other studies support the idea that that a biologic mechanism involving allergy antibodies trigger production of other substances that affect the parts of the brain that control emotions.

In a 2005 study, Teodor T. Postolache, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the mood and anxiety program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that peaks of tree pollen increased with levels of suicide in women.

Postolache says allergic rhinitis is known to cause specialized cells in the nose to release cytokines, a kind of inflammatory protein. Animal and human studies alike suggest that cytokines can affect brain function, triggering sadness, malaise, poor concentration, and increased sleepiness.

The new study took race, gender and other factors into account, “so the strong association between allergic disease and internalizing disorder we found is definitely present,” Nanda said.

The severity of mental health symptoms varied in this study. Some children had anxiety and depression that needs treatment, while others were at risk and required monitoring, she said.

“We think this study calls for better screening by pediatricians, allergists, and parents of children with allergic disease,” Nanda said. “Too often in my clinic I see allergic children with clinical anxiety (or) depressive symptoms; however, they are receiving no care for these conditions.”

“We don't know how treatment for allergic diseases may effect or change the risk for internalizing disorders and we hope to study this in the future,” Nanda said.

Experts hope that if parents know that allergies may contribute to their child’s mood or behavior, they will be more likely to keep a closer eye on their child for signs of depression or anxiety and seek treatment if necessary.

The study was presented in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Sources: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-kids-allergies-depression-idUSKBN0UC1TW20151230

David Freeman, http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/allergies-depression

 

Your Baby

No Link Found Between Induced Labor and Autism

1:30

In 2013, a study suggested there might be a link between induced labor using a medication such as oxytocin, and a higher risk of the baby developing autism.  New research out of Boston, Massachusetts says there is no connection between the two.

"These findings should provide reassurance to women who are about to give birth, that having their labor induced will not increase their child's risk of developing autism spectrum disorders," said senior researcher Dr. Brian Bateman. He's an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Induced labor is sometimes needed when a mother’s labor stalls or the infant is endangered. Because of the former study, many women have had concerns about labor induction and the risk of autism.

Bateman's team of American and Swedish researchers, led by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, decided to investigate the issue.

They used a database on all live births in Sweden from 1992 through 2005, and looked at child outcomes for more than 1 million births through 2013, to identify any children diagnosed with a neuropsychiatric condition.

They also identified all the children's brothers, sisters and cousins on their mother's side of the family. The health of the children's mothers was also taken into account.

Eleven percent of the inductions were due to health complications such as preeclampsia, diabetes or high blood pressure. Twenty-three percent were induced because of late deliveries (after 40 weeks of pregnancy).

Results showed that 2 percent of the babies in the study were later diagnosed with autism.

When just looking at unrelated children, the researchers did find a link between induced labor and a greater risk for an autism spectrum disorder. This association disappeared, however, once they also considered the women's other children who were not born from an induced labor.

"When we used close relatives, such as siblings or cousins, as the comparison group, we found no association between labor induction and autism risk," said study author Anna Sara Oberg, a research fellow in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School.

Explaining further, she said in a university news release, "many of the factors that could lead to both induction of labor and autism are completely or partially shared by siblings -- such as maternal characteristics or socioeconomic or genetic factors." Therefore, Oberg said, "previously observed associations could have been due to some of these familial factors, not the result of induction."

Other experts have agreed with the new study’s findings.

"Pregnant women have enough things to worry about," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"If a woman's doctor recommends that labor be induced, the expectant mother should not worry about an increased risk of the child having an autism spectrum disorder," Adesman said.

If you have concerns about a connection between labor induction and autism, speak to your OB/GYN to learn more. 

The study was published in  in the July 25th online edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/autism-news-51/induced-labor-won-t-raise-autism-risk-in-kids-study-suggests-713155.html

 

Your Baby

Mom and Baby Benefit by Skin-to-Skin Contact Right After Birth

1:30

Over the years, modern birth methods have changed how newborns and mothers interact with each other. Typically, the baby is cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket then given to the mother to hold. A new scientific review suggests that skin-to-skin contact is better for the mother and gives her infant a better start in life.

The review noted that women who had skin-to-skin contact with their naked babies soon after delivery were more likely to breastfeed longer and be breastfeeding months later than women who didn't have their babies placed on their skin right away.

"The more you can do to place the mother and baby together and disturb them as little possible during that first hour, the better off they’ll be," said lead author Elizabeth Moore, of the School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Researchers looked through medical literature and found 46 randomized controlled trials to include in their review. The trials included 3,850 women and their newborns from 21 countries. All babies were healthy and most were born at term.

"We compared those trials to usual care, and usual care was very different depending on the trial," said Moore. Trials from the 1970s may have separated mothers from their babies for hours. In more modern trials, babies might be swaddled in a blanket before being handed to the mother.

Moore and her team found evidence that babies who had received skin-to-skin contact were more likely to breastfeed successfully during their very first breastfeeding session, and they also tended to have higher blood glucose levels and stronger heart and lung function.

 “It’s just something that if at all possible should happen," Moore told Reuters Health.

Skin-to-skin contact should begin as soon as possible and last for at least 60 minutes, she said. The hour will give babies time to recover from the birthing experience, find the mother's nipple and latch on.

"It’s not something you can do in just 15 minutes," Moore said.

Not all physicians and hospitals are on board when it comes to immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth.

“I would recommend that a woman make sure she adds skin-to-skin to her birth plan," Moore said. "I think it’s a really good thing for a woman to put together a birth plan before she heads to the hospital and show it to her physicians or midwife."

What if your baby is premature or is delivered by cesarean? The researchers didn't find any benefits to initiating skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth versus after the baby had been examined and washed. They also failed to find any clear benefits to skin-to-skin contact that lasted longer than an hour.

"The evidence supports that early [skin-to-skin contact] should be normal practice for healthy newborns," the researchers wrote, "including those born by cesarean and babies born early at 35 weeks or more."

The review was published in the Cochrane Library in November. 

Story sources: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-birth-skin-idUSKBN13V2UZ

Kenza Moller, https://www.romper.com/p/why-skin-to-skin-contact-after-birth-could-be-beneficial-for-mothers-babies-alike-24423

 

Your Teen

Teens More Stressed Than Adults

2.00 to read

Teens are feeling more stressed than adults and it’s affecting every aspect of their lives according to the results from a new national survey.

The 2013 “Stress in America” survey involved responses from 1,950 adults and 1,018 teens. Teens reported that during the school year an average stress level of 5.8. That is way above 3.9, which is considered a normal level of stress. Even during the summer months, when the stress level typically decreases, teens averaged a 4.6 score. Ten was the highest score on the stress scale.  

Adults reported more stress as well with an average of 5.1 on the scale.

Teens reported that their main stressor was school, with one out of ten saying that stress led to lower grades. Money was the top reason given for stess among adults, followed by work and the economy.

Thirty-one percent of the teens reported feeling overwhelmed and thirty percent said they feel depressed or sad. Adolescent girls were more likely to feel down from stress than boys, which holds true in the adult population with more women reporting feeling depressed than men. 

 This is the first time the group has focused on teen stress. Other research has studied teen depression and other mental health concerns, but officials say this may be the most comprehensive national look at stress in teens to date. Despite anecdotal reports of high stress, researchers say stress itself in adolescents hasn't been studied broadly; global comparisons have focused on adult stress rather than teens.

Teens reported feeling irritable, angry, nervous, anxious and tired at around the same rate as adults. More than one-third of teens said they were exhausted due to the stress in their lives, and 25 percent skipped a meal because of the added pressure.

Teens seem to realize they are not doing enough to manage their stress with four out of 10 reporting that weren’t actively working towards finding positive ways to cope with their stress and thirteen percent saying that they didn’t do anything to help deal with the added pressure on their lives.

“It is alarming that the teen stress experience is so similar to that of adults. It is even more concerning that they seem to underestimate the potential impact that stress has on their physical and mental health,” APA CEO and executive vice president Norman B. Anderson said in a press release.  “In order to break this cycle of stress and unhealthy behaviors as a nation, we need to provide teens with better support and health education at school and home, at the community level and in their interactions with health care professionals.”

Like adults, stressed kids are not getting enough sleep, overeating, and not exercising.

“When spending time with teens, we can encourage them to exercise, eat well, get the sleep they need and seek support from health care professionals like psychologists to help them develop healthier coping mechanisms for stress sooner rather than later,” said Anderson.

How parents handle stress impacts how their children are able to handle stress. Family dinners together or time that is specifically set aside for family discussions provide a good opportunity to discuss what is going on in each others lives. Talk to your kids about your day and what events caused you stress, what you learned from them and how you handled them. Ask your child to be honest about the kinds of things that make them feel overwhelmed or stressed. It’s not a parent’s job to try and protect their children from everything that is unpleasant, but to teach them positive coping mechanisms so they can grow into healthy and happy adults.

Source: Michelle Castillo, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/stress-in-america-survey-reveals-teens-feel-more-pressure-than-adults/

Sharon Jayson, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/11/stress-teens-psychological/5266739/

Parenting

Blue Bell Creameries Recalls All of Its Products

1:30

Say it isn’t so! Yes, one of the country’s favorite ice cream brands is recalling all of its ice cream products due to possible contamination with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.

Until now, Blue Bell Creameries has been issuing gradual recalls of specific ice cream items. Monday, the company decided to recall all of its ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and all other frozen snacks.

Three people have died and five others have fallen ill from the bacteria that may have come from Blue Bell products, health officials have said.

Listeria is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Blue Bell made the decision to recall all of its products after analysis of some half-gallon containers of chocolate chip cookie-dough ice cream contained listeria.

"This means Blue Bell has now had several positive tests for Listeria in different places and plants," the company said in a written statement.

"At this point, we cannot say with certainty how Listeria was introduced to our facilities, and so we have taken this unprecedented step."

So far there have been five confirmed cases of listeria infections in Kansas and three in Texas.

According to their website notification about the recall, the company promises to sure all their products are safe before they go back on sale.

“We’re committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell CEO and president.

“We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream and we intend to fix this problem. We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right.”

Blue Bell says it is implementing a procedure called “test and hold” for all products made at all of its manufacturing facilities. This means that all products will be tested first and held for release to the market only after the tests show they are safe. The Broken Arrow facility will remain closed as Blue Bell continues to investigate.

Sources: http://cdn.bluebell.com/the_little_creamery/press_releases/all-product-recall

Holly Yan, http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/20/health/blue-bell-ice-cream-recall/

 

Your Toddler

Tricycles Cause Almost 9500 Injuries a Year

2:00

The brightly colored, tripled wheeled tyke-bikes may appear pretty harmless, but tricycles injuries send thousands of children to the hospital every year according to a new study.

Researchers found that lacerations were the most common type of injury kids suffered.  

But in an indication that some kids might need more or better quality protective gear, researchers also estimated that about 30 percent of injuries were to the head and another 8 percent involved the elbow, noted lead study author Sean Bandzar.

“Head injuries in particular are very common with any kind of moving toy and that’s why we recommend helmets, and based on our findings I would also encourage parents to have kids wear elbow pads,” said Bandzar, a researcher at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

Based on the 328 tricycle injuries reported by participating hospitals in 2012 and 2013, researchers estimated that there were about 9,340 injuries nationwide during the two-year study period.

The total included 2,767 injuries to the head and 767 at the elbow, as well as 1,880 accidents damaging the face, 954 hurting the mouth and 483 harming the lower arms, researchers estimated.

The study noted that on average, three year-olds were the typical age group injured and one to two-year olds, made-up slightly more than 50 percent of the cases.

Boys made up almost two-thirds of the cases.

With this age group, it came as no surprise that about 72 percent of the injures occurred at home.

There were a couple shortcomings of the study, the authors acknowledge in the journal Pediatrics, is that researchers lacked data on how accidents happened, whether kids wore helmets or other protective gear, what types of tricycles children rode and whether adults were present.

It’s also possible that the study didn’t have data on enough accidents to draw broad conclusions about tricycle injuries nationwide, said Dr. Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance and a professor of Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

“Tricycles are safe, especially if a few simple steps are taken to prevent injuries,” Smith, who wasn’t involved in the study, he told Rueters by email.

Children should always wear helmets any time they are on wheels above a hard surface – including tricycles, skateboards, scooters, skates and bicycles, Smith said. Tricycle riders in particular should only ride in areas separated from cars, and when parents can keep a close eye on them.

“Tricycles are somewhat riskier than other toys children use but that doesn’t mean they are highly risky toys,” said David Schwebel, a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

While Schwebel, who wasn’t involved in the study, echoed the need for parental supervision, he also stressed that tricycles can be good for kids.

“Tricycles are valuable tools to help children develop critical gross motor skills like balance, coordination and strength,” Schwebel said by email. “Any tricycle, when used carefully in a supervised situation, is likely to be a positive activity for children.”

Source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/14/us-health-children-tricycle-injuries-idUSKCN0RE1TQ20150914

 

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