Family Team News

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Knowing your family health history may help your baby

Recently I had an appointment with a new healthcare provider and had to complete a health history form at my first visit. It was 3 pages long and took me about 20 minutes to do while in the waiting room. As I was sitting there, I realized that I didn’t know the answers to some of the questions, especially about my relatives.

Was this really that important?

In one word? Yes.

A family health history (FHH) form is a record of health conditions and treatments that you, your sisters, brothers, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents have had. It can help you figure out the medical problems that run in your family. Knowing your FHH may just save your life. It may also have a direct effect on your baby’s health.

How can a FHH form help your baby?

The FHH form will help your provider see if any of the conditions or diseases that run in your family will affect your baby. For example, premature birth can run in families. And, certain conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure put you at a higher risk to have a premature baby.

If you and your partner complete a FHH form and share it with your prenatal provider, you may learn about the health of your baby before she is born. The earlier in your pregnancy that your provider is aware of health conditions, the sooner your provider can decide on treatments for you.

It would be even better if you could complete and share this information with your provider before pregnancy, at a preconception checkup. This way, your provider can help you become as healthy as possible before pregnancy.

Use our FHH form

Here is a form that you can print out and complete.  Print one copy for yourself and one for your partner/spouse. We suggest you take it with you to family gatherings (Thanksgiving anyone?) and ask your relatives to help you fill in the blanks. You may very well find out information about diseases and conditions that run in your family and put you at risk. Early detection is often key in successfully managing a disease.

Knowing your risk for certain conditions and that your provider is on top of treatment options, should put your mind at rest. And, knowing you are doing your best to take care of your baby’s health should make you feel even better.

So, when you sit down to apple pie, start a conversation, and fill in your FHH form. The information you share with your family may make a positive difference in everyone’s lives.

Have questions? Text or email us at

Monday, November 23, 2015

Genetic Tests of Amniotic Fluid Could Help Guide Treatment of Preterm Births

Researchers funded in part by the March of Dimes report that they have identified a way to conduct genetic tests of amniotic fluid in pregnant women to better determine the medical needs of premature babies, it was reported today in the journal BMC Medical Genomics.

Critical development of vital organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs occurs during the final weeks of pregnancy, which should last at least 39 weeks, the March of Dimes says. Today’s finding is important because no test currently exists that can reliably measure the maturity of these organs before birth, the authors note.

Preterm birth is the leading killer of babies in the United States, and those who survive an early birth often face serious and sometimes lifelong health challenges, such as breathing problems, jaundice, developmental delays, vision loss, and cerebral palsy. Even babies born just a few weeks too soon have higher rates of death and disability than full-term babies. However, some medical conditions make it necessary for babies to be delivered before the full 39 weeks of pregnancy.

"This study demonstrates the feasibility of testing amniotic fluid to identify biomarkers for fetal organ maturation to better enable obstetricians to make delivery planning decisions for preterm births," said Beena Kamath-Rayne, MD, MPH, a lead author and researcher in the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "This will allow pediatricians and neonatologists to prepare for the various neonatal morbidities these preterm infants may face, and allow obstetricians to better weigh risks to the baby when making decisions about preterm delivery."

Researchers identified 257 genes that were expressed differently in late preterm fetuses (34-36 weeks) compared to those at full-term. Through additional analysis, the authors linked genes expressed differently in preterm babies to underdeveloped lungs, decreased lean body mass, and immature feeding patterns. The authors emphasize that additional research is needed beyond the current study, in part because of the small study sample.

Co-author Louis J. Muglia, MD, PhD, is the principal investigator of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center – Ohio Collaborative, composed of scientists from diverse disciplines: genetics, molecular biology, epidemiology, engineering, computer science and others. They are working together to find the unknown causes of premature birth and how to prevent it.

“The innovative, team-based model of the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Centers is critical to understanding the unknown causes of preterm birth. This new finding adds one small piece toward solving the much larger puzzle of preventing and treating preterm birth,” says Dr. Muglia.

In addition to the Ohio Collaborative, the March of Dimes has established four other Prematurity Research Centers nationwide: at Stanford University School of Medicine in California; University of Pennsylvania; Washington University in St. Louis; and University of Chicago-Northwestern University-Duke University.

“Systems biology evaluation of cell-free amniotic fluid transcriptome of term and preterm infants to detect fetal maturity” by Dr. Kamath-Rayne et al. was published online today by BMC Medical Genomics.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

380,000 babies born too soon in the U.S.

This year, the United States received a “C” on the March of Dimes 2015 Premature Birth Report Card. Although the overall rate of preterm birth dropped to 9.6% in 2014, 1 in 10 babies in the U.S. is born too soon. And despite the decline, the U.S. preterm birth rate continues to rank among the worst of high-income countries.

Four states received an “A” on the report card—Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Vermont. All of these states had a preterm birth rate of 8.1% or less. Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Puerto Rico all received an “F.” Their preterm birth rates were 11.5% or greater.

For the first time this year, in addition to grading states, the report card graded cities and counties around the nation. This additional analysis showed persistent racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities. According to the report card, Portland, Oregon has the best preterm birth rate at 7.2%, earning that city an “A” on the report card. However, Shreveport, Louisiana has the worst preterm birth rate and received an “F” for its 18.8% rate. Check out the grade for your state and the top 100 cities with the most births nationwide.

The March of Dimes has set a new goal to lower the national preterm birth rate to 8.1% by 2020 and to 5.5% by 2030. Reaching the 2020 goal of 8.1% will mean that 210,000 fewer babies will be born preterm and achieving the 2030 goal will mean 1.3 million fewer babies will be born preterm saving about $70 billion.

“This aggressive goal can be achieved by increasing best practices in preconception and pregnancy care, wider use of proven interventions such as progesterone and birth spacing, and funding discovery research through our research centers,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

Continued research to identify new medical advances to prevent preterm birth is necessary in order to reach the new goal. The March of Dimes supports a nationwide network of five cutting-edge, team-based research centers seeking to find the unknown causes of preterm birth and ways to prevent it.

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day (WPD) will be observed today (November 17) by the March of Dimes and partner organizations worldwide. Activities in honor of WPD are expected in about 100 countries. Join us for Twitter chats throughout the month and the 24-hour #worldprematurityday Buzzday today.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Caring for yourself as you care for your preemie

Getting through a pregnancy, having a baby in the NICU, and caring for a baby with special needs at home can take a physical and emotional toll on a woman’s health. This month is a good time to remember to take care of yourself, so that you are in top form to take care of your family. Not only is November Prematurity Awareness Month, it is also National Caregivers Month.

By nature, moms tend to be wired to care for their babies. The daily routine (which goes well into the night) seems to blend into the next day and week. The 24/7 job of being a mom can often feel like a blur. Have you ever asked yourself what day it was only to be surprised when you learned that it was only Tuesday? Weekends, in the sense that most people think of them – free time, sleeping late, etc. – don’t exist. In fact, a Saturday feels much like a Tuesday in the new-mom world. It consists of the same routine: feedings, diaper changes, and caring for the special needs of your preemie.

It is not surprising then, that many moms experience exhaustion and burnout. Who wouldn’t? Every human being needs rest. Constant stress coupled with loss of sleep is a recipe for a downward spiral.

Just as moms care for others, they must learn to care for themselves. Unless you were really good at doing this before your baby was born, it may take a bit of practice. Carving out bits of time to care for yourself should be top on your list. I like to call it using “snippets of time.” Here are some examples:

  • Got five minutes? Give your best friend a call. Just hearing her voice for a few minutes will give you a lift.
  • Ten minutes may not seem like a long time to you, but that is how long it takes to take a shower and feel refreshed. You don’t need to plan a long chunk of time to do that – seize it whenever you have someone you trust watching your baby.
  • Got 30 minutes alone? A walk or yoga video will help to create the energy you didn’t know you had. (Yes, exercise creates energy.)
  • Too tired to walk? Try a quick nap (best done when your baby is also sleeping). Even 15 minutes will feel like you have been turbo charged.
  • Schedule time with your spouse. Somehow, if it isn’t scheduled, it isn’t as likely to happen. If it is on the calendar, it is much more apt to become a reality. After all, if you went through the trouble to make sure someone you trust is watching your baby, then you will probably be sure you spend time together. But, again, it doesn’t have to be for hours. Even one hour out together will help to break up the 24/7 routine and give you a fresh perspective.

Somehow, your preemie caretaking will not seem so overwhelming when you get little breaks. Here are a few more ideas to help you.

How do you take care of yourself? Please share your tips.

Have questions?  Send them to

Tags: caretaker, caring for a preemie, stress, time management

Monday, November 9, 2015


An evening of culinary excellence
Signature Chefs Auction - Washington, D.C.

DATE: Tuesday, November 17, 2015  |  Time: 6:30 PM
LOCATION: Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. Hotel
ADDRESS: 1150 22nd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037

For more information please contact Nicole Dolan (571)-257-2307.

CAN'T JOIN US? Help fund the mission.


Chris Mullins, President and CEO of UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic, and Mark Lowham, Managing Partner of TTR Sotheby's International, cordially invite you to the March of Dimes 19th Annual Signature Chefs Gala of Washington, D.C. 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. What could be sweeter? The evening will also include auctions with unique dining, entertainment, travel and leisure packages.

Other Washington Notables include 2015 Honorary Chef Victon Albisu, chef/owner Del Campo and Taco Bamba, and 2015 Emcee Leon Harris, ABC7/WJLA-TV.

Photo Credit Greg Powers


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Is VBAC the right choice for you?

Vaginal birth after cesarean (or VBAC) is safe for many women and their babies. There may be some risks and not everyone is appropriate for a VBAC, so it is important to discuss your personal medical history with your health care provider.

Benefits of VBAC

The majority (60-80%) of women who attempt a VBAC are successful. The benefits of a VBAC include:

  • No need for surgery
  • Shorter recovery time than after a c-section
  • Lower risk of infection, blood, loss, or other complications related to a c-section.

Can I have a VBAC?

You may be able to have a VBAC if:

  • You had at least one vaginal birth prior to your c-section.
  • Your c-section was performed for a reason that is not a concern in the current pregnancy (for example, the baby was breech).
  • You had a low transverse incision. This means the cut was made from side-to-side on your lower abdomen. This is the most common kind of c-section incision.
  • You and your baby are healthy.
  • Your labor starts on its own, before your due date.

Who should not have a VBAC?

A VBAC may not be a safe choice if:

  • Your c-section was not done by a low transverse incision. Other types of c-section incisions aren’t safe for VBAC.
  • There are any problems with the placenta, such as placenta previa.
  • You have certain health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or genital herpes.
  • You are pregnant with multiples (twins or more).
  • You have had two or more c-sections but have never had a vaginal birth.
  • Your labor is induced.
  • You are past your due date.
  • Your baby is very large.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that providers should offer VBAC to all women with healthy pregnancies who are good candidates for VBAC and who don’t have any of the complications listed above.

But ACOG also says that providers should do VBACs only in hospitals and facilities that have certain emergency care services. These services may not be available everywhere, so some providers and hospitals may not offer VBAC.

If you think you may be a good candidate for a VBAC, make sure you talk to your health care provider. Together you can decide what the best choice is for you and your baby.

Have questions? Text or email us at

Monday, November 2, 2015

High Heels High Hopes- Ladies Night Out 2015

High Heels High Hopes- Ladies Night Out 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015
6:30 PM
Dove Pointe
1225 Mt. Hermon Road
Salisbury, MD 2180

Join us for a fun-filled evening celebrating local vendors, businesses and Delmarva’s women. Doors will open at 6:30 to lite fare, cash & carry shopping with our vendors, music, silent auction and back by popular demand our Holiday Wreath Auction! 

For sponsorship information and vendor opportunities, contact Wendy Jarrett at or (443)754-7042.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Physical therapy – can it help your preemie?

Many children born prematurely may need help catching up with developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling or walking. They may need assistance learning everyday activities such as dressing, too. Physical therapy – one type of habilitative service – may help. Habilitative services are those therapies that help a child develop new skills needed for everyday life.

October is National Physical Therapy Month. This is a great time to become aware of the benefits that physical therapy (PT) can offer your child, whether he was born prematurely or full term.

What does PT do?

Physical therapy can help your child increase strength and flexibility. It can also improve posture, balance, coordination and movement. PT usually focuses on large muscle groups, such as the legs, but it can also involve the entire body.

A physical therapist is a professional who has specific training in understanding the way a body works – especially muscle groups. She can assess your child and provide individualized therapy which will help him improve in the areas where he is weak. PTs are very creative in their approach to working with children. In fact, the therapy can be lots of fun, and most children look forward to their PT sessions.

Does insurance cover PT?
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), habilitative services must be covered by insurance. They are included in the ACA as Essential Health Benefits, which means they need to be covered under individual and small group health insurance plans. Check your state for specific details. For information on enrolling in your state’s marketplace for health insurance, go to or call 1-800-318-2596.

Early intervention may include PT at no cost to parents

If your child is under the age of three, he may be eligible for Early Intervention services, which is a federal program provided in every state. Physical therapy is one of many services available for eligible infants and toddlers if they qualify. Therapy is usually provided at no cost to parents.

If your child is age three or older, he may qualify for PT through your local school district as a Related Service. This post will tell you how to access it.

Bottom line

As with all delays or disabilities, it is important to seek help as early as possible. The sooner your child gets the help he needs, the sooner he can begin improving.

Have questions? Text or email


Monday, October 26, 2015


An evening of culinary excellence
Signature Chefs Auction, Baltimore

DATE: Monday, November 2, 2015  |  Time: 6:00 PM
LOCATION: Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel
ADDRESS: 700 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

Click here to purchase tickets.  For more information please contact Jennifer Tarr (410) 752-8152

Join us for the Signature Chefs Auction of Central Maryland. The event offers an evening of fine food, wine and fabulous auction items. You will be able to taste exquisite sample dishes of over 25 of the area's celebrated chefs all in one evening. The tasting and silent auction begin at 6:00 pm and the live auction will begin at 8:00 pm.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Navigating the Journey Through Childhood - A Parent/Provider Conference

Navigating the Journey Through Childhood - A Parent/Provider Conference

Sunday, November 8, 2015
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Location: INOVA Fairfax Physicians Conference Center (Conference rooms A-D and the auditorium)
3300 Gallows Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042

Registration includes: breakfast, lunch, access to all sessions, silent auction, and free parking!

Registration: $25

Register here:

Speaker's List: