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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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Breastfeeding your baby in the NICU can be challenging


Most babies, even those born very premature can learn to breastfeed. Breast milk provides many health benefits for all newborns, but especially for premature or sick babies in the NICU. Feeding a preemie may be much different than what you had planned. If you must pump, you may feel disappointed that you are not able to feed your warm baby on your breast. But, providing breast milk for your preemie is something special and beneficial that you can give him.
Here are tips to help you breastfeed your preemie while in the NICU.
If your baby is unable to feed or latch:
• Start pumping as soon as you can to establish your milk supply. Ask a nurse for a pump and assistance.
• If your preemie is tube feeding, your baby’s nurse can show you how to give your baby his feedings.
• Pump frequently, every 2 to 2-1/2 hours around the clock for a couple of days and nights (or 8 to 12 times during the day, so you can catch some sleep at night).
• Practice skin to skin or kangaroo care if your nurse says it is ok. Both are beneficial, even if your baby is connected to machines and tubes.
If your baby is able to suckle:
• Ask to feed him in a quiet, darkened room, away from the beeping machines and bright lights.
• Many mothers find the cross cradle position very helpful for feedings. Start with kangaroo care. Then position the baby across your lap, turned in towards you, chest to chest. Use a pillow to bring him to the level of your breast if you need to.
• Preemies need many opportunities at the breast to develop feeding skills regardless of gestational age. This requires practice and patience.
• You may need increased support to breastfeed your preemie. Look for support from your nurses, the hospital’s lactation consultant, friends or family.
Not every tip will work for every mom. Try to find the feeding methods and solutions that work best for you and your preemie. More information on how to feed your baby in the NICU can be found here.
If you have questions about how to feed your baby, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.
 

 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Vaccines and your baby

In the first 2 years of life, your baby gets several vaccines to protect her. Most parents dread watching their baby get these shots. But rest assured, vaccinations (also called immunizations) can be more painful for you than for her! She may be uncomfortable for a minute, but these important shots help protect her from some serious childhood diseases like polio, chickenpox, measles, mumps and the flu.

All children should be vaccinated for their own health and so they don’t spread infections to others. This schedule shows each vaccine your baby gets up to 6 years. It also shows how many doses she gets of each vaccine and when she gets them.

How do vaccines work?
Tiny organisms (like viruses and bacteria) can attack your body and cause infections that make you sick. When you get an infection, your body makes special disease-fighting substances called antibodies to fight the organism. In many cases, once your body has made antibodies against an organism, you become immune to the infection it causes. Immune means you are protected against getting an infection. If you’re immune to an infection, it means you can’t get the infection.

Vaccines usually contain a small amount or piece of the organism that causes an infection. The organisms used in vaccines are generally weakened or killed so they won’t make you sick. The vaccine causes your body to make antibodies against the organism. This allows you to become immune to an infection without getting sick first.

Some vaccines have a live but weakened organism. These are called live-virus vaccines. While live-virus vaccines are usually safe for most babies and adults, they’re not generally recommended for pregnant women.

All childhood vaccines are given in two or more doses. Your baby needs more than one dose because each one builds up her immunity to that particular disease. A second or third dose is needed to fully protect her. These doses work best if they’re spread out over time.

Are vaccines safe for my baby?
Vaccines are one of the best ways to avoid serious diseases caused by some viruses or bacteria. For vaccines to be most successful, everyone needs to get them.

Most babies don’t have side effects from vaccines. If they do, they usually aren’t serious. Some vaccines may cause a low fever, a rash or soreness at the spot where the shot was given. Although your baby may seem like he’s getting sick after a vaccination, these reactions are good signs that his immune system is working and learning to fight off infections.

Your baby should get vaccinations and boosters regularly, all the way through age 18. (Adults need vaccinations, too. You can read more about adult vaccinations before, during or after pregnancy, here.) If you have any questions about vaccinations, ask your baby’s health care provider for more information.