Family Team News

Visit MDNCA Facebook Page to find pictures of March for Babies!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Formula switching- what you need to know

Moms may decide to change formula brands for a variety of different reasons. My friend recently told me she bought a new formula for her baby because she had a coupon for a different brand. Her baby was not able to digest the new formula as well as the old brand; she did not anticipate that changing formula brands would be a problem for her baby.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are thinking of switching formula brands.

First of all, there are several basic types of formula in your local grocery store:

• Cow’s milk-based formulas: Made of treated cow’s milk that has been changed to make it safe for infants.
• Hydrolyzed formulas: often called “predigested” meaning the protein content has already been broken down for easier digestion.
• Soy formulas: contain a protein (soy) and carbohydrate (either glucose or sucrose), which is different from milk-based formulas. Soy formulas do not contain cow’s milk.
• Specialized formulas – for infants with specific disorders or diseases. There are also formulas made specifically for premature babies. Often babies who are allergic to lactose (found in cow’s milk) or soy protein may need a specialized formula.

Formula can also be found in three different forms: Ready-to-feed liquid (which can be fed to your baby immediately), concentrated liquid or powder (which needs to be mixed with water before feeding). Be sure to learn the do’s and don’ts of bottle preparation and feeding.

Reasons to change formula

Some reasons to switch formulas are if your baby has a food allergy or needs more iron in her diet. Switching may also help your baby if she has diarrhea, is fussy or hard to soothe. Your baby’s doctor can determine if switching the formula may help, or if there is some other medical condition going on that is causing your baby’s distress. But, before switching your baby’s formula, speak with her pediatrician.

It is possible for a baby to have an allergic reaction to a formula. Reactions include:

• vomiting
• diarrhea
• abdominal pain
• rash
• hives (itchy, red bumps on the skin)

These, and other symptoms may be a sign to change formulas, or they may also be a sign of something unrelated to your baby’s formula. If the reaction is unrelated to the formula, changing formulas could make your baby’s symptoms worse. This is why it’s important to always talk to your baby’s health care provider before making any changes.

If your doctor gives you the OK to switch formulas, he will recommend a plan of action on how to introduce the new formula so that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Keep in mind

All formulas made in the U.S. are regulated by the Food and Drug administration and meet strict guidelines, but always check the expiration date on the formula packaging and don’t use damaged cans or bottles.

For more information see this blog post.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Avoid a tragedy – learn safe sleep strategies

Every so often, we hear a tragic story from a new parent. Last week, a three week old baby died of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). This post is in memory of that baby, and our hearts go out to the family.

It is important for parents and caregivers to know safe sleep strategies. Please help us get the word out: ALWAYS, put your baby to sleep on her back, in a crib without bumpers, blankets, stuffed toys or loose bedding.

Back to Sleep and Tummy to Play is an easy way to remember that all healthy babies should be put to sleep on their backs every time until their first birthday. Do not put your baby to sleep on her side, either. Most babies will roll over both ways by the end of the 7th month, but always start them out going to sleep on their backs. You can give your baby tummy time to help strengthen her back muscles when she is awake and you are watching her.

About 4,000 infants (less than one year of age) die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States, according to the CDC. SIDS is the leading cause of death in babies between 1 month and 1 year old. Most SIDS cases happen in babies between 2 and 4 months old. We don’t know what causes SIDS, but certain things can put babies at higher risk:

  • Bed sharing – do not sleep in the same bed as your baby. Sleeping in the same room is suggested, just not the same bed. Bed sharing is the biggest risk factor for SIDS in babies under 4 months of age.
  • Sofa or couch sleeping – do not let your baby sleep on the couch or soft surfaces, including pillows. Nearly 13 percent of infant sleeping deaths are sofa-related.
  • Wearing too many clothes or sleeping in a room that is too hot.
  • Sleeping on her tummy or side.

Read more about safe sleep, mom and baby care and other tips for reducing the risk of SIDS.

If you have questions about putting your baby to sleep, send them to or ask your baby’s health care provider.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby due to SIDS or an unknown reason, the Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center offers bereavement packets to families. Just email us with your mailing address and we will send one to you.

See other topics in the series on Delays and Disabilities- How to get help for your child, here.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why We Walk Wednesday! Natalie

In 1999, I became pregnant with my third child. After giving birth in December of 1998 to a baby boy, I was ecstatic to think I was expecting again. The pregnancy started out like the other two, but at 4 months, I felt an odd pressure that felt like I was about to give birth. We rushed to our doctor and shortly after being examined, I was told I had an "Incompetent cervix" and needed to have a procedure to sew my cervix closed. I was prescribed bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. Before doing the procedure, an amniocenteses was performed, and I found out that we would be expecting a baby girl. 

I remained very disciplined with my bed rest. However, at 20 weeks, my water broke. I was rushed to Georgetown hospital where the doctors said that if I was put in "Trendelenburg" -- basically positioned upside down -- that my amniotic fluid could replenish. I remained steadfast in my determination to deliver my daughter healthy. I stayed in Trendelenburg for 8 weeks. I had been experiencing leg pain in my left leg from week 21, which the doctors and nurses treated with pain medication  Unfortunately, the pain turned out to be a severe DVT (Deep vein thrombophlebitis) and after many attempts to hold off my labor with treatment of Heparin I was rushed into surgery.

On November 28, 1999, Natalie Elizabeth Simonson was born. She also died that day after fighting 8 long hours to survive. Her little lungs were not strong enough. I was never able to meet her, as I was in critical condition from losing so much blood. The surgery left me in ICU for 4 days. I believe it was God’s way of protecting me from the horrific loss of my baby girl.

If I were to go through the same today, because of the March of Dimes, research would have had me on preventive measures to avoid DVTs in women on bed rest. As well as the advances in premature deliveries and babies and their survival. It took me a long time to recover from the loss of my child. The pain for our family is something no one should have to experience. I chose to work with the March of Dimes to help our future generations have a better chance.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Newborn screening for Pompe disease

Early detection for Pompe disease through newborn screening will allow affected infants to receive prompt life-saving medical interventions. March of Dimes chapters across the country will be advocating for the addition of Pompe disease to newborn screening panels to ensure that all newborns can benefit from this potentially life-saving test.

The US Secretary of Health and Human Services recently added Pompe disease to the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. Pompe disease can be identified using the traditional newborn screening dried bloodspot and this early identification will lead to earlier treatment.

What is Pompe disease?

Pompe disease is a rare inherited disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness. It is due to changes in the gene that produces an enzyme called GAA. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down sugars. Infants and children with Pompe disease cannot produce GAA. Therefore sugars accumulate in the muscles, and this causes the muscles to get weaker and not work the way they should. This muscle weakness affects feeding, weight gain, movement, and even the heart. Pompe disease occurs in about 1 in 28,000 people in the U.S.

Infants with Pompe disease can seem healthy at first, but without early medical intervention, the disease will progress rapidly. Many children with Pompe disease do not survive past the first year of life. However, research has shown that early detection and treatment of Pompe disease can lead to better outcomes.

Treatments, including enzyme replacement therapy (ERT), can lead to a longer life and fewer disease complications. But for ERT to be most effective, it must be started before the onset of severe symptoms. Research suggests that the success rate of ERT for Pompe disease is higher if a newborn can receive treatment within the first three months of life.

The March of Dimes supports screening all newborns for conditions placed on the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. All the conditions included on the Uniform Screening Panel have shown that an affected infant benefits from early detection and treatment; there is a reliable screening test for the disorder; and early detection can be made from newborn bloodspots or other means.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why We Walk Wednesday! Layah Faith

Our little girl was about 3 pounds at birth. Now, she's a healthy 15 pounds. Not only has she caught up physically with a full term 5 month old, but she has caught up developmentally as well especially for her adjusted age to be only 3 months.  

It's amazing how she went from just 3 pounds to my 15 pound butterball. The March of Dimes is now my favorite charity, and I thank them for all they have done. I still wear my purple, March of Dimes bracelet. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Why We Walk Wednesday: The Gachot Family

During the blizzards of 2010, my water broke when I was 21 weeks pregnant with our daughter, Addie. After being rushed to the hospital, I was told that I had premature ruptures and would need to remain there on bed rest until she was born. Three weeks later, I was rushed into an emergency C-section. 

Addie was born on February 20, 2010, at 24 weeks gestation. She weighed 1 pound, 7 ounces and was 11 inches long. 

She was on a ventilator for 26 days. She had good and bad days but was still unable to breathe on her own. On the morning of July 29, we made the decision to take her off the ventilator after five long, hard months of fighting. Addie died in our arms at 2:45 am. 

Addie’s little brother Hudson was born on March 30, 2012, at 36 weeks and 6 days. I can contribute his almost full term delivery to the help of my weekly progesterone (or 17P) injections. We just welcomed another son, Crosby Jacques Gachot to the family on April 24, 2015. Mom and baby are doing well!!

The Gachots are the 2015 March for Babies Ambassador Family for Greater Baltimore. Their "Walking for Addie" team will walk on May 9 at Hunt Valley Towne Centre in memory of Addie and in honor of her little brothers Hudson and Crosby!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why We Walk Wednesday! Angels on Earth and in Heaven

This year, walking to raise money for the March of Dimes will be bittersweet for me. In previous years, it was a happy day where I got to remember how lucky I was that my now 4-year-old, Emily made it through the terrifying delivery at 26 weeks and overcoming her 86 days in the NICU. Now I am seeing the other side- the terrible side no mother should ever face in her life.

This year, we are also walking to remember our beautiful Anna, who was born on September 13 at 22 weeks -- too soon and too small to survive. Tom, Emily and I miss Anna everyday and wonder what she would be doing right now. We love her so much. Emily misses her little sister. We changed our team name to "Angels on Earth and in Heaven" to honor and remember both of our daughters.

We know the research developed by the March of Dimes was proven to save Emily's life. So, we continue to walk and support the March of Dimes so one day ALL babies will be born healthy and hope one day no mother has to feel the pain of loss.

Monday, April 27, 2015

We can’t do it without you

Volunteers have always been an invaluable part of the March of Dimes. From the very earliest days, volunteers have been full partners in the March of Dimes, working to raise funds, heighten awareness and implement critical programs to help support our mission.
In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the nation to help him find a cure for polio by contributing dimes for the cause and sending them directly to the White House. Within weeks, over 80,000 letters with dimes and dollars flooded the White House mailroom to the extent that official correspondence to the President was literally buried in an avalanche of donations, a total of 2,680,000 dimes or $268,000.
With the funds raised through this annual campaign, the March of Dimes financed much of the research that led to the development of the polio vaccine.  The March of Dimes then organized a massive field trial to prove its effectiveness in the largest peacetime mobilization of volunteers in the history of the United States. And 60 years ago, on April 12, 1955 Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was declared “safe, effective and potent.” This was a major milestone in the fight against polio.
Over the next few weeks March for Babies events will take place across the country. Approximately 3 million people will join their family, friends and colleagues in nearly 700 communities. These volunteers will walk to give hope to nearly half a million babies born too soon each year. The money raised supports programs in local communities that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies. And it funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten our babies. We’ve been walking since 1970 and have raised an incredible $2.3 billion to benefit all babies.
This week is National Volunteer Week and we want to take this moment to thank everyone who has contributed to help us achieve our goals. The efforts of our friends and volunteers are what make this organization strong. We are resolved to push even harder for research into the problems that threaten the health of babies.
To all of our volunteers past and present, from polio to prematurity, we offer our most sincere thanks.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why I Walk Wednesday: Lee West

Meet Lee, the 2015 March for Babies Ambassador for Maryland's Eastern Shore! Baby Lee was born in December of 2011. He was six weeks early weighing 4 pounds,14 ounces. Due to prematurity complications, he was airlifted to Children’s National Medical Center where he stayed for the next 12 weeks. He fought through multiple surgeries, procedures, even Sepsis. Thanks to the help of his amazing medical team and modern medicine, after spending 88 days in the NICU, Lee came home on February 8, 2012. 

Lee is now a very active 3-year-old. He is proud to call the scar on his abdomen his ‘battle wound!’ 

His sisters have never cut him any slack when it comes to sibling rivalry but are also very protective of their little brother. 

The West family invites you to come out and walk in Assateague on May 2 or find a walk near you at!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Baby’s genes may play a role in some premature births

Some babies seem to have a genetic predisposition to a higher risk of being born too soon. Changes in the baby’s DNA – not the mother’s – may be what triggers some early births.

In an exciting new study, researchers analyzed the number of copies of certain genes in the blood or saliva from hundreds of babies and their mothers. A gene is a part of your body’s cells that stores instructions for the way your body grows and works. What the scientists found may be somewhat surprising.  There was no link between the number of copies of the mother’s genes and the chances of a preterm baby. However, there was a two- to eleven-fold increase in premature births before 34 weeks of pregnancy when any of four genes were duplicated or seven genes were deleted in the babies born preterm, when compared to babies born full-term.

The researchers think that the differences in the number of copies of the genes may not be causing a preterm birth, but they may put a baby at a higher risk of infection or reacting to other harmful environmental factors that may trigger early labor and delivery.

“These findings may help explain what triggers early labor in some women even when they’ve done everything right during pregnancy and there’s no obvious cause for an early birth,” explained March of Dimes Chief Medical Officer Edward R. B. McCabe, MD, MPH. “The hope is that this finding may one day lead to a screening test to help identify which babies are at a higher risk of an early birth.”

Stay tuned for upcoming details. We will blog again when we have more information.