Family Team News

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Moving through pregnancy: tips to stay active

Moving, staying active and gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy can help keep you and your baby healthy. For most women, being active during pregnancy is a good thing. But you don’t need to head to the gym to increase activity. With a few daily changes to your routine, you’ll be moving more in no time.

Healthy pregnant women need at least 2½ hours of exercise each week which is about 30 minutes each day. This may sound like a lot, but don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all at once. Instead, get moving by doing a few minutes of activity throughout your day.
Here are some tips to help you reach your fitness goals:

  • Park farther away in the parking lot when you visit stores or go grocery shopping.
  • Set a timer on your phone to get up, stretch and walk around your house or office once every hour.
  • If you are watching TV, take the time to stretch out your arms and legs.
  • Walk and talk while you are on the phone, whether it be outside or around your house.
  • When walking around the office, grocery store or parking lot, walk the long way instead of taking shortcuts.
  • Plan fun outdoor weekend activities. Apple picking season is in full-swing – take a walk around the orchard while you pick some apples.
  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs.
  • Calling or emailing your co-worker at work? Get up and take a walk over to chat instead.
Tomorrow is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. The goal is “to encourage women to take control of their health; to learn the facts they need to make smart healthy choices, and to make time for regular physical activity.” By making small changes to your day, you can reach your fitness goals. Be on the lookout for events planned in your local area.

Read our article to understand why physical activity is good for most pregnant women and to learn which activities are safe.
Tags: exercise, fitness, National Women's Health and Fitness Day, physical activity, Pregnancy

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It’s time to get your flu shot…again!

Influenza (also called flu) is a serious disease. It’s more than just a runny nose and sore throat. The flu can make you very sick, and it can be especially harmful if you get it during and right after pregnancy. Flu season is fast approaching and it’s time to schedule your flu shot now.

Who needs a flu shot?

Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop full protection against the flu. Getting the flu vaccine is especially important for children over 6 months, children with special needs, pregnant women and other high-risk groups.

I got a flu shot last year, why do I need another one?

Flu viruses change every year, so just because you got a flu shot last year, doesn’t mean that you are protected this year. The flu shot is designed to protect against the flu viruses that are predicted to be the most common during the flu season. Also, immunity from vaccination decreases after a year. This is why everyone needs a flu vaccine every season.

Are flu shots safe for pregnant women?

YES! All women who are pregnant should get a flu shot. It is safe to get the flu shot during pregnancy and it will protect you and your baby from serious health problems during and after pregnancy. However, remember that if you’re pregnant, you should not get the flu mist. It’s not safe to use during pregnancy.

Why is the flu so harmful during pregnancy?

The flu can be dangerous during pregnancy because:

  • Pregnancy affects your immune system. During pregnancy your immune system doesn’t respond as effectively to viruses and illnesses. This means you are more likely to catch the flu.
  • You are more likely to have serious complications. Health complications from the flu, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, can be very serious and even deadly.
  • Pregnant women who get the flu are more likely to have preterm labor and premature birth (before 37 weeks).

Where can I get a flu shot?

You can get the vaccine from your health care provider. Many pharmacies and work places also offer it each fall. You can use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find where the flu vaccine is available in your area.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Leading Medical, Children’s and Women’s Health Groups Applaud House Passage of Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015

Bipartisan bill helps reduce number of newborns exposed to opioids, improve care for moms and babies
Washington, District of Columbia — Tuesday, September 08, 2015was sent.
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You've saved this pageIt's beenThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the March of Dimes commend the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the bipartisan Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 (H.R. 1462) today.

The bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Katherine Clark (D- Mass.) and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), takes proactive steps to help reduce the number of newborns born exposed to drugs, such as opioids, and to improve their care. Specifically, the bill directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to identify and make available recommendations for the prevention and treatment of prenatal opioid use disorders and diagnosis and treatment of NAS, evaluate and coordinate federal efforts to research and respond to NAS, and assist state health agencies with data collection.

Reports show the significant rise of opiate use and abuse has led to an alarming increase of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS refers to medical complications associated with drug withdrawal in newborns due to exposure to opioids or other drugs in utero. Babies born with NAS often need to be hospitalized for weeks, are difficult to console, and can suffer from seizures and other complications. There are no standardized guidelines for diagnosis and treatment for these newborns, and there is an urgent need for more research to optimize their health.

“Unprecedented numbers of U.S. newborns are suffering drug withdrawal after birth due to exposure to opioids in utero,” stated March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse. “Action is urgently needed to address the opioids crisis and its impact on infants. The March of Dimes commends the U.S. House of Representatives for passing this critically important legislation.”

“One infant is diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome each hour, so there could not be a more urgent time to protect children and families affected by substance use and abuse,” said AAP President Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP. “Pediatricians commend the House of Representatives for its swift bipartisan action to pass the Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015. This bill will provide help for our tiniest patients during this critical window of their development.”

“The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists applauds the House of Representatives for its bipartisan passage of the Protecting Our Infants Act as a major step toward addressing opioid use during pregnancy and giving women the care that is right for them,” said ACOG President, Mark S. DeFrancesco, MD. “The dangers of inappropriate drug and alcohol use at any time, especially during pregnancy, have long needed greater attention. Effective action must be taken to ensure a healthy outcome for both mother and baby while offering non-punitive, family-centered medical treatment.”

H.R. 1462 will now go to the U.S. Senate for consideration. An identical bill, S. 799, has been introduced in that chamber by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and has 19 additional bipartisan cosponsors. As organizations representing the nation’s pediatricians, obstetricians and gynecologists and members of the public who care about pregnant women and children, the AAP, ACOG and March of Dimes join together to support the legislation’s advancement.
About the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit or follow @AmerAcadPeds on Twitter and Facebook.

About the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization

About March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose volunteers and staff work to improve the health of infants and children by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education and advocacy.
For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites and To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What is a doula?

A doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides physical, emotional and informational support to a pregnant woman and her partner. A doula provides care for moms-to-be during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the postpartum period. She also helps women carry out their birth plans so that they have a positive childbirth and postpartum experience.  The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves.”

Many birth and postpartum doulas are trained and certified through DONA International, the oldest professional organization for doulas.

There are different kinds of doulas:

A birth doula understands the birthing process and the emotional needs of a woman in labor. If you are pregnant, a birth doula will help you develop a birth plan and assist in carrying out your plans during labor and delivery. Your relationship with your doula will start with one or more meetings during your pregnancy. Once you start your contractions, she will stay with you throughout your labor to provide physical comfort, emotional support and help as you make informed decisions.

A postpartum doula can provide you with education, companionship and support after your baby is born. She can assist with newborn care, meal preparation, light household tidying and can help your family adjust to your newest addition. She will also be able to offer evidence-based (scientifically proven) information on feeding, soothing, coping skills and emotional and physical recovery from your labor and delivery.

A bereavement doula is a newer form of support. Although DONA does not offer a bereavement doula training program, many doulas are able to find other programs in their communities and online to receive certification. A bereavement doula can provide assistance, support, resources and referrals to families who are experiencing the loss of their baby. A doula that provides bereavement support may be known by a different title, such as a Baby Loss Family Advisor. These professionals have been trained to help you navigate through the difficult days – from the moment you hear the news to preparing for the hospital experience and for when you return home.

Now that you know what a doula is, tune in next week to learn why you should consider hiring one.

Have questions? Text or email us at We are here to help.


Monday, September 21, 2015

The survival rates of extremely premature babies are improving

Advances in treatment options may be helping to increase survival rates and reduce the number of complications for extremely premature babies, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study looked at 34,636 infants born between 22-28 weeks over 20 years (1993-2012). The researchers found that the overall rate of survival for premature babies born between 22-28 weeks increased from 70% in 1993 to 79% in 2012.

According to the researchers, “Survival rates remained unchanged from1993 through 2008. After 2008, trends in survival varied by gestational age.”

  • For babies born at 23-weeks, the survival rate rose from 27% in 2009 to 33% in 2012.
  • For babies born at 24-weeks, the survival rate rose from 63% in 2009 to 65% in 2012.
  • There were smaller increases for babies born at 25 weeks and 27 weeks.
  • There was, however, no change reported for babies born at 22, 26, and 28 weeks.
The researchers also looked at how many babies survived extreme premature birth without developing major neonatal health problems. They found that the rate of survival without major complications increased approximately 2% per year for babies born between 25-28 weeks.  However, there was no change in survival without major complications for babies born between 22 to 24 weeks.

The authors of the study also observed changes in maternal and infant care which may have contributed to the increased survival rates. For instance, the use of corticosteroids prior to birth rose to 87% in 2012 (vs. 24% in 1993). Corticosteroids help to speed up your baby’s lung development. While most babies were put on a ventilator (a breathing machine that delivers warmed and humidified air to a baby’s lungs), continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) without ventilation increased from 7% in 2002 to 11% in 2012. And the rate of late-onset infection decreased for all gestational ages.

“For parents of babies born very early — 22-28 weeks — these data are showing improvements in outcome. We are gratified by the progress, but there is so much more that could be done if we could understand what causes premature labor and birth,” said Dr. Edward McCabe, Chief Medical Officer for The March of Dimes.

“Our focus is on preventing premature births and we are making excellent progress,” he said. “We have saved hundreds of thousands of babies from premature birth since the rate peaked in 2006.”

You can read more about our Prematurity Campaign and our Prematurity Research Centers on our website.

Questions? Email or text us at

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Newborn screening: a personal story

All babies in the United States get newborn screening before they leave the hospital. Newborn screening looks for rare but serious and mostly treatable health disorders. Babies with these disorders often look healthy. But if the condition is not diagnosed and treated early, a baby can develop lasting physical problems or intellectual disabilities, or may even die.

The federal Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (ACHDNC) recently voted to recommend adding X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD) to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP).  This recommendation now needs to go to the Secretary of Health and Human Services for her review and consideration.

X-ALD is a genetic disorder that occurs mostly in boys. In this disorder, the fatty covering (myelin) that insulates nerves in the brain and spinal cord is broken down. This reduces the ability of the nerves to relay information to the brain. X-ALD can cause serious and permanent disability or death.  The only effective treatment is early identification by newborn screening, and stem cell therapy (bone marrow or cord blood transplantation), sometimes along with other life-saving treatments.

X-ALD is due to a gene change, or mutation, on the X chromosome. The X and Y chromosomes are responsible for gender. Girls have two X chromosomes (XX). They inherit one from their mom and one from their dad. Boys have an X and a Y chromosome (XY). They inherit the X from their mom and the Y from their dad. Since boys have only one copy of the X chromosome, they will have only one copy of the X-ALD gene mutation, and they will develop X-ALD. Because girls have two copies of the X chromosome, they will only have one copy of the gene mutation (inherited from their mom). A single copy of the altered gene usually does not cause any symptoms of X-ALD. Although some girls can have health problems associated with the condition, they are often mild and usually appear at a later age.

X-ALD has not been officially added to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel. We will keep you updated. In the meantime, here is a very personal story about newborn screening and why it is so important:\

Monday, September 14, 2015

Northern Virginia March For Babies Family Team Thank You Ice Cream Social!

Please Join Us for Our March for Babies Thank You Ice Cream Social!
You are invited!  The March of Dimes and our Family Team Mentors (a group of mission families) invite all Northern Virginia family teams to Bull Run Regional Park on September 19th to meet each other and for children to play at the park. We will be at Pavilion 5 right next to the playground and have additional field games and activities for the kids to enjoy! (And of course: ICE CREAM!) This will be a wonderful time to meet families like you who are the heart of the March of Dimes mission. 

This event is a way for us to say thank you for your support and dedication to the March of Dimes and for a successful 2015 March for Babies! We will hand out plaques to our 2015 Top 3 family teams for both the Fairfax County walk and the Prince William County walk, and we will have paper certificates for all other family teams in attendance.

This is a come and go as you please event. Water, ice cream, toppings, and a few additional goodies will be provided, and kids are encouraged to attend! :-) All family team walkers are receiving this invitation, but please feel free to share with anyone you would like to bring with you. The more, the merrier!

We are so excited to see each of you and say thank you for a wonderful March for Babies season!  Please contact your March of Dimes staff person with any questions: Nicole Johnson at or 571-257-2314; Latoya Irvine at or 571-257-2323; Heather Kane at or 571-257-2311.

With Deepest Thanks,

March of Dimes; March of Dimes Family Team Mentors

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Vocabulary at age 2 may predict kindergarten success

The size of a child’s vocabulary at age two may predict how well he will do in kindergarten, according to a new study. The larger the oral vocabulary, the better prepared he will be for school.
The study looked at 8,500 children in the United States. The researchers found that:

  • preemies or babies with a very low birth weight, and babies whose mothers had health issues had smaller vocabularies.
  • children with parents who frequently interacted with their children and read to them on a regular basis had larger vocabularies.
  • girls tended to have a larger vocabulary than boys.
  • children from higher socioeconomic homes had larger vocabularies.
  • children with larger vocabularies at 24 months of age did better in reading and math and had fewer behavioral problems.

The researchers believe that interventions should be started early enough so that children who are at risk due to medical/health problems or socioeconomic disadvantages, have the time to develop and catch up. Interventions need to be targeted especially to toddlers who are living in disadvantaged homes.

Keep in mind that no two children develop exactly alike. Some are early bloomers while others are later bloomers. And one study cannot predict an individual child’s development.

What can you do?

The single most effective way to help your baby expand his vocabulary is to read to him. Start when your baby is born, and read every day. Reading aloud helps promote language skills – vocabulary, speech and later on, reading comprehension. See this post to learn just how important reading is for your baby and to learn where to get books. See the AAP’s article for tips on how to make it fun. And remember, the best parts about reading to your little one are the snuggles and cuddles that go along with it.

If your baby is showing signs of a developmental delay, speak with his health care provider, or contact your Early Intervention Program and ask for a free screening. If your child qualifies, he may receive personal, targeted intervention (such as speech therapy) to help him catch up.

Have questions? Text or email them to

The study appeared in the journal Child Development.

Learn how to help your child in our Delays and Disabilities series.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Shorter Women Have Shorter Pregnancies

March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center - Ohio Collaborative Investigates Mothers’ Height and Risk for Preterm Birth

White Plains, New York — Tuesday, August 18, 2015 saved this page

It's been addShorter mothers have shorter pregnancies, smaller babies, and higher risk for a preterm birth. New research has found that a mother’s height directly influences her risk for preterm birth.
Investigators at the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative looked at 3,485 Nordic women and their babies, and found that maternal height, which is determined by genetic factors, helped shape the fetal environment, influencing the length of pregnancy and frequency of prematurity. In contrast, birth length and birth weight are mainly influenced by transmitted genes.

Preterm birth is the number one killer of newborns in the United States and serious gaps exist between racial and ethnic groups. More than 450,000 babies are born too soon in the U.S. and the national preterm birth rate is worse than many other high-resource countries, the March of Dimes says. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm, and more than one million die due to complications of an early birth. Babies who survive an early birth face serious and lifelong health problems, including breathing problems, jaundice, vision loss, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.

“A major goal of the nationwide network of March of Dimes prematurity research centers is identifying genes that govern fetal growth and length of pregnancy. That a woman’s height influences gestational length, independent of the genes she passes on that determine fetal size, is a major finding by our research networks, and the first of what we expect to be many genetic contributions,” said Joe Leigh Simpson, MD, March of Dimes senior vice president for Research and Global Programs.

“The innovative, team-based model of our prematurity research centers is critical to understanding the unknown causes or preterm birth. This new finding adds one small piece toward solving the much larger puzzle of preterm birth,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

The March of Dimes is raising $75 million to support its five prematurity research centers. These unique, transdisciplinary centers bring together the brightest minds from many diverse disciplines -- geneticists, molecular biologists, epidemiologists, engineers, computer scientists, and others -- to work together to find answers to prevent premature birth. In addition to the Ohio Collaborative, the March of Dimes has established research centers at Stanford University School of Medicine in California, at the University of Pennsylvania, at Washington University in St. Louis, and at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Duke University.

“Our finding shows that a mother’s height has a direct impact on how long her pregnancy lasts,” said Louis Muglia, MD, PhD, the primary investigator of the Ohio Collaborative, and co-director of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. “The explanation for why this happens is unclear but could depend not only on unknown genes but also on woman’s lifetime of nutrition and her environment.”

The research paper, “Assessing the Causal Relationship of Maternal Height on Birth Size and Gestational Age at Birth: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis,” was published online Aug. 18 by PLoS Medicine.

About March of Dimes
The March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Breastfeeding and hair treatments

You’ve given birth to your little peanut, congrats! You may be thinking that now you can finally return to some of the activities you enjoyed before becoming pregnant. For example, you may have stopped dying your hair during pregnancy. The fall season is around the corner and a new cut and color may be in order, but if you’re breastfeeding now, is it safe to head to the salon?

Hair treatments include hair coloring, curling (permanents), bleaching and straightening agents. Low levels of hair dye can be absorbed through the skin after application, and the dye is excreted into the urine.
But, according to the experts at Mother to Baby, “There is no information on having hair treatments during breastfeeding. It is highly unlikely that a significant amount would enter the breast milk because so little enters the mom’s bloodstream. Many women receive hair treatments while breastfeeding, and there are no known reports of negative outcomes.”
Despite this good news, if you are still hesitant, you might consider highlights or streaks, as the dye is not placed directly on the scalp.

If you have any questions about breastfeeding, speak with a lactation consultant or email us at We are happy to help!