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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!