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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unexplained muscle weakness in children

 

We have all heard of the children in Colorado who have been hospitalized with unexplained muscle weakness. It has so far affected 10 children with an illness involving the brain and spinal cord.  Let us be clear, we have been told the children have been tested and it is NOT polio. The CDC and the California Department of Health have been looking further into the cause of some cases of paralysis earlier this year. However, differences exist between the California and Colorado cases, including age of the patients, timing of cases, etc.  You may have also heard that some of the children in Colorado have had cold-like symptoms and have tested positive for Enterovirus D68; while others have not.  As the doctors, labs, various health departments and the CDC work on finding out why the children are sick, there are some things you can do:
• Be up to date on all recommended vaccinations, including polio, flu, measles and whooping cough. It is important that you and your children are vaccinated.
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom or changing a diaper.
• Avoid sick people.
• Clean and disinfect objects that have been touched by a sick person or by a visiting child.
One thing is key!  If your child is having problems walking, standing or develops sudden weakness in an arm or leg, contact a doctor right away.
According to the AAP, “Doctors and nurses who see patients with unexplained muscle weakness or paralysis in the arms or legs are testing them to see if they might have this sickness. They also are reporting information to their state or local health department.” The CDC will be issuing treatment guidelines in the next several weeks. The American Academy of Pediatrics is also monitoring cases of Enterovirus D68.
CDC features: Unexplained Paralysis Hospitalizes Children, 2014
AAP News: CDC continues investigation of neurologic illness: will issue guidelines, 2014

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween ideas for kids with food allergies or sensory challenges

When you hear the word “Halloween” do you think of candy? Chocolate? Fun costumes? For children with food allergies or sensory issues, Halloween can be a frustrating evening. The thrill of getting treats can quickly become a letdown if there is nothing that your child can eat. And, the thought of wearing a costume may be the last thing your sensory special child will want to do.

Non-foods gain in popularity

Years ago, in my neighborhood, we knew of a child on our street who had food allergies. As a result, some moms decided to have an assortment of other acceptable treats to give out, so that the child with food allergies could enjoy Halloween, too.

We offered the kids non-chocolate choices, such as bags of pretzels, crackers and pops. But, surprisingly, the most popular alternatives were non-food items. Crayons, tiny notepads, little cars, plastic jewelry, glow stick necklaces, stickers, and other inexpensive but fun playthings soon became an equally desired treat for many children. I was surprised to see kids who did not have food allergies choosing stickers instead of a chocolate treat. Their eyes lit up when they saw my bucket filled with non-candy gifts. The best part is that you can get most of these items at dollar stores or discount centers, so offering alternatives won’t be a costly venture. Just be careful that you do not get tiny toys, as they can be a choking hazard to small children.

My colleague here at the March of Dimes said that the “best” house for trick or treating in her neighborhood was the one where they gave out quarters instead of candy. She and her friends loved it, as they could buy whatever treat they wanted. (But again, be careful you don’t give coins to young children as they are liable to put them in their mouths.)

When you stop to think, it makes perfect sense to widen the net of Halloween treats. Food allergies are becoming more common, so offering non-food treats is a perfect way to keep Halloween safe and yet be tons of fun. Why not think about offering non-candy treats this year and start a whole new tradition? But watch out – you may well end up being the most popular house on the block for trick or treaters!

Can’t wear a costume?

If your child has sensory issues and can’t fathom the idea of putting on a costume, don’t fret. Just yesterday, a little 2 year old in my neighborhood toddled by my front steps as I was sitting there enjoying the sunshine. Her mom told me that she is sad because her daughter refuses to even try on a costume. I suggested she create a “costume” out of her regular clothes. For instance, if she has a red dress or a red hoodie, she can carry a little basket and be Little Red Riding Hood. (True confessions – I did this for my daughter when she was about that age!) Here are more ideas on how to prepare your child with sensory challenges for Halloween.  Also, you can ask your child’s Occupational Therapist for specific ideas that can make him comfortable.

Just remember, the most important thing is that your child is comfortable and safe, and has fun on Halloween.

What tricks have you tried to help your little one have fun on Halloween? Please share.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also see a Table of Contents of prior posts, here.

If you have comments or questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We welcome your input!


 

 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Honoring parents with angel babies

The loss of a baby is heart wrenching.  As today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, I want to take a moment to honor those parents who have angel babies. Most people cannot even imagine being in their shoes for an instant, yet alone having to live a day-to-day existence without the baby they continue to love.

The loss of a baby touches so many people in profound and long lasting ways. No two individuals grieve in exactly the same manner. The mother may grieve differently from the father. Children who were expecting their sibling to come home from the hospital experience their own grief as well. Even grandparents and close friends may be deeply affected. The ripple effects from the loss of a baby are widely felt.

The March of Dimes is committed to preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. It is our hope that through continued research, we will have a positive impact on the lives of all babies so that fewer families will ever know the pain of losing a child.

If you or someone you know has lost a baby, we hope that our online community, Share Your Story will be a place of comfort and support to you. There, you will find other parents who have walked in your shoes and can relate to you in ways that other people cannot. Log on to “talk” with other parents who will understand your grief. We also have bereavement materials available free of charge. Simply send a request to AskUs@marchofdimes.org and we will mail them out to you.

Please know that the March of Dimes is thinking of you today and every day.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 9:00 am and is filed under Baby, Help for your child, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Flu is dangerous for certain people

You’ve all heard it: get your flu shot. It is on our blog, website, and we just finished a twitter chat with the CDC, FDA, AAP, doctors, and other notable organizations. Everyone agrees that getting the flu shot is the single best form of protection from flu.

Is it really that important?

Yes. Flu can be life-threatening. Certain groups of people are at higher risk of serious complications from flu:

• Children younger than 5 years of age and especially kids younger than 2 years old.

• Children of any age with long-term health conditions including developmental disabilities. See this post to learn which high risk conditions are included.

• Children of any age with neurologic conditions. Some children with neurologic conditions may have trouble with muscle function, lung function or difficulty coughing, swallowing, or clearing fluids from their airways. These problems can make flu symptoms worse. Learn more here.

• Pregnant women. They are at high risk of having serious health complications from flu which include miscarriage, preterm labor, premature birth or having a low-birthweight baby. In some cases, flu during pregnancy can even be deadly. By getting a flu shot during pregnancy, your baby will be protected up until six months of age.

•  Adults older than age 65 (attention grandparents!).

When should you talk to your provider?

According to the CDC, you should seek advice from your provider before getting a flu shot if you are allergic to eggs, have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), have had a prior severe reaction to the flu shot or to an ingredient in the shot, or are not feeling well.

Bottom line- get your flu shot

Read my post Test your flu knowledge – true or false? to learn the truth about flu.  Knowledge is powerful.

If you have questions, speak with your health care provider or visit flu.gov .


Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date.

If you have comments or questions, please send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We welcome your input!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

March of Dimes’ researchers hard at work


Did you know that in 2014, the March of Dimes invested about $25 million in research to defeat premature birth and other health problems? Scientific research has been a main focus of the March of Dimes since it was founded 75 years ago. March of Dimes-funded researchers created the first safe and effective vaccines for epidemic polio, and we haven’t stopped trying to improve the health of all babies since then.

The March of Dimes has pioneered genetic research, promoted the B vitamin folic acid to prevent birth defects, fought for lifesaving newborn screening tests– and so much more. Here are some recent examples of our work:

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) causes birth defects in 8,000 babies each year. Pregnant women can pass the virus on to their baby before or during birth. The March of Dimes is funding research on protecting against CMV in women of childbearing age, thereby protecting babies.
  • Novel gene therapy: Scientists have long been seeking to develop gene therapy. However, they have run into a number of obstacles. A recent March of Dimes grantee is attempting to find a new way around these obstacles. He is using a novel form of gene therapy called “gene editing.” Instead of replacing the faulty gene, this new technology attempts to find and fix the mutation (change) in the gene.

In 2003, the March of Dimes launched the Prematurity Campaign to help families have full-term, healthy babies. We now have two Prematurity Research Centers –Stanford University and the Ohio Collaborative. These transdicsiplinary centers recognize that preterm birth is a complex disorder with many contributing factors. At both centers, scientists are coming together to examine the problem of preterm birth from many angles. Some highlights of ongoing research include:

  • Progesterone signaling in pregnancy maintenance and preterm birth: Progesterone is a key pregnancy hormone. It is thought to play a role in preventing contractions until term, but we don’t know how it does this. Progesterone treatment is one of the few available treatments to help prevent repeat singleton preterm delivery in women who have already had a premature birth. However, we do not know why progesterone treatment works in some women but not others. A better understanding of the exact role progesterone plays in maintaining pregnancy may lead to new ways to prevent or treat preterm labor.
  • Microbiome and preterm birth: The microbiome refers to the bacteria and other microbes that live inside our bodies. Recent genetic technologies (DNA sequencing) have identified many new organisms, most of which don’t harm our health. Scientists are analyzing changes in the microbiome in samples from term and preterm pregnancies. The goal is to find out if specific microbes or changes in the microbiome may contribute to premature birth. This information could lead to better ways to predict and prevent premature birth.

The March of Dimes expects to open two additional Prematurity Research Centers in the near future.  You can read more about our infant health, birth defects, and prematurity research on our website.  The March of Dimes continues to do all it can to give every baby a healthy start in life.

 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Health and safety while at work

Working during pregnancy may have some challenges. It can be difficult to stay safe and comfortable at the workplace, manage your pregnancy symptoms all while tackling your work schedule and duties. Lots of women work long hours at physically demanding jobs. Others may be very sedentary, working at a desk looking at a computer screen for most of the day.  Here are some tips to help make your day safer and easier.

If you work on a computer or sit at a desk for most of the day, comfort is key. To avoid wrist and hand discomforts, neck and shoulder pains, backaches and eye strains, follow these tips:

• Take short breaks often and walk around your office or building.

• Adjust your chair, keyboard and other office equipment to be more comfortable.

• Use a small pillow or cushion for lower back support.

• Keep your feet elevated by using a footrest.

• Be sure to use the correct hand and arm positions for typing.

• Use a non-reflective glass screen cover on your computer monitor.

• Adjust the computer monitor for brightness and contrast to a setting that is comfortable for your eyes.

If you need to lift something, follow these tips:

• Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

• Bend at your knees, but keep your back straight and rear end tucked in.

• Use your arms and legs. Lift with your arms (not back) and push up with your legs.

• When possible, lower the weight of the item (for example, break up the contents of one box into two or three smaller boxes).

Standing for long periods of time can also be cause for concern. That’s because blood can collect in your legs, which may lead to dizziness, fatigue and back pain. When standing:

• Place one foot on a small foot rest or box.

• Switch feet on the foot rest often throughout the day.

• Wear comfortable shoes.

It’s important that the work environment around you is safe for you and baby. If you have concerns, speak with your health care provider and your supervisor at work.


Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Click here to read more News Moms Need blog posts on: pregnancy, pre-pregnancy, infant and child care, help for your child with delays or disabilities, and other hot topics.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why vitamin K is important for your newborn

Your baby will receive a shot of vitamin K soon after he is born. The vitamin K shot protects your baby from developing a rare, serious bleeding problem that can affect newborns.

Babies are not able to make vitamin K on their own and they are born with very small amounts in their bodies. Vitamin K is a very important nutrient which is needed for blood clotting so that bleeding stops. We get vitamin K from food and it is also made by the healthy bacteria that live in the intestines.   However, when a baby is born, his intestinal tract does not have enough healthy bacteria to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is not easily transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy either. And although he can receive some vitamin K from breast milk, it is not enough.  It takes a while for your baby to start producing his own vitamin K. Therefore, receiving a shot of vitamin K immediately after birth helps your baby’s blood to coagulate and clot. This assists in protecting against possible abnormal bleeding in the body.

If a baby does not receive a vitamin K shot soon after birth, he may be at risk for a condition called Vitamin K deficiency bleeding or VKDB. This occurs when a baby does not have enough vitamin K and his blood cannot clot. Not getting enough vitamin K puts your baby at risk for bleeding into his intestines or even brain. Babies who do not receive the vitamin K shot after birth are actually at risk for VKDB until they are six months old.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Signature Chefs Gala of Washington, D.C. 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Time: 6:30 PM
Registration Time: 6:00 PM
The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. Hotel
1150 22nd Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037


Mark Lowham, Managing Partner of TTR Sotheby’s International, cordially invites you to the March of Dimes 18th Annual Signature Chefs Gala. Presented by Dixon Hughes Goodman, LLP and TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, Signature Chefs is one of D.C.’s premier social events highlighting the city’s culinary masters brought together for an elegant evening of wine, cocktails and dining. You or your company can join approximately 500 affluent society members and business professionals as they support our mission while enjoying over 40 of the area’s celebrated chefs, mixologists, bartenders and vintners (listed below). What could be sweeter? The evening will also include auctions with unique dining, entertainment, travel and leisure packages. All proceeds benefit the March of Dimes, raising awareness for its mission and vital revenue to help prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Participating Chefs: Mike Isabella, 2014 Honorary Chef, chef/owner of G, Graffiato, Kapnos and Kapnos Taverna; Chef Wes Morton, Art & Soul; Chef Geoff Tracy, Chef Geoff's, Chef Geoff's Downtown, Chef Geoff's Tysons Corner, LIA'S, and Chef Geoff's Rockville; Chef Victor Albisu, Del Campo; Chef Dean Gold, DINO's Grotto - In Shaw; Chef Michael Harr, Food Wine & Co.;           Chef Max Albano, Good Stuff Eatery; Chef Jamie Leeds, Hank's Oyster Bar, Chef Michael Abt, Le Diplomate; Chef Matthew Adler, Osteria MoriniRappahannock River Oysters; Chef Javier Romero, Taberna Del Alabardero; Chef  Lonnie Zoeller, Vinoteca; Chef Devin Bozkaya, Westend Bistro.

Participating Bartenders & Mixologists: Jo-Jo Valenzuela, DC Craft Bartenders Guild; Jamie MacBain, Bourbon Steak; Ben Wiley, Cafe St. Ex; Christine Kim, Tico; Paul Taylor, Rhodeside Grill; Aaron Joseph, Wit and Wisdom; Glendon Hartley, Cava Mezze; Rico Wisner, Graffiato


For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Elizabeth Thomas at (571) 257-2300.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Keeping your child’s eyes safe


Did you know that August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety month? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “nine out of ten eye injuries are preventable, and almost half occur around the home.” Here are some safety guidelines from AAP to help prevent eye injuries:
• Make sure that any chemicals, such as detergents and cleaning fluids, are kept out of reach of children.
• Take a look at your children’s toys and watch out for sharp parts, especially for very young children.
• Teach your children how to hold scissors and pencils properly when they are young. That way as they get older, they will maintain these good habits.
• Looking directly into the sun can cause severe eye damage. And make sure that they never look directly at an eclipse of the sun.
• If you are working around the house with tools, either your child should not be in the area, or she should wear safety goggles.
• Keep your child away from power lawn mowers. These can launch rocks or other objects, making them dangerous projectiles.
• If your child is playing sports, make sure she is wearing eye protection that is appropriate for the sport.
• Children should be kept far away if you are lighting fires. And your child should NEVER be near fireworks of any kind.

Typically if dust or other small particles get in the eye, tears will actually clean the eye and wash them out. However, if a more serious eye injury occurs, make sure you call your pediatrician or go to the emergency room right away. For more information, you can read our previous post about healthy eye care for your baby and child.

If you have questions, feel free to email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Click here to read more News Moms Need blog posts on: pregnancy, pre-pregnancy, infant and child care, help for your child with delays or disabilities, and other hot topics.