Friday, January 07, 2011

30 Rock's Jane Krakowski Is Pregnant!

Time to prep the 30 Rock nursery - Jane Krakowski is having a baby!

A rep for the actress confirms that the 42-year-old Tony winner, who announced her engagement to British-born clothing designer Robert Godley last January, is expecting her first child.

"Both soon-to-be first-time parents could not be happier," the rep tells The actress showed off her baby bump in a black one-piece while vacationing in the Caribbean with Godley on Thursday.


Miranda Kerr Is Reportedly In Labor

It looks as though congratulations may be in order for Orlando Bloom and wife Miranda Kerr! According to reports this morning (January 7), the 27-year-old model has gone into labor in Los Angeles.

A family member tells Australia's The Daily Telegraph: "We did get a text on Boxing Day saying she had gone into labor but it was false alarm but I can confirm she did go into labor early this morning.”

Recently, Miranda said that motherhood has always been a desire for her:
"I've always been open about wanting to be a mother one day, and I've always thought Orlando would be a great dad."
The star couple, who have been linked since late 2007, wed secretly in July 2010 just a month after announcing their engagement.

Congrats to Miranda and Orlando!

Update: A new report states that Miranda Kerr and husband Orlando Bloom welcomed their son on Thursday (January 6) at a Los Angeles, Calif. area hospital.


A Look at "Practice Babies"

From 1919 to 1969, college home economics programs around the country had so-called practice houses or practice apartments where young women learned the domestic arts: cooking, cleaning, running a household.

The college students learned mothering skills by caring for "practice babies" - infants lent by local orphanages to live at the school.

Lisa Grunwald researched the practice and used it as the premise for her novel The Irresistible Henry House. She says she discovered this use for orphan babies while working on an anthology of letters written by American women when she found a snapshot of "the most beguiling baby with this roguish grin." She learned he had been a practice baby at Cornell University.

"He had been cared for by about a dozen women who took turns being his practice mother," Grunwald told NPR's Michele Norris.

By the 1950s, there were 40 or 50 colleges and universities throughout the country who had this program in place, or something very similar, Grunwald says.

The baby Grunwald came across was named Bobby Domecon, short for "domestic economics." All of the babies at Cornell took the last name Domecon, and all of the practice babies at Illinois State University had the last name North or South, depending on the building they were raised in.

Grunwald says the babies would come from the orphanage as young as possible, and the mothers would take rotations caring for them. The rotations depended on the college — sometimes one mother would have a baby a week at a time or 10 days at a time. In others, a mother would put the baby down for a nap, and another student would be there when it woke up. But it was always on a very careful schedule.

"When I first read about this, I thought it was sort of weird and a little bit creepy," Grunwald says. "But, in fact, at the times in which this took place, everything was considered a possible opportunity for a scientific approach, and child care was no exception. The practice houses really embraced the idea that you could learn mothering the same way you learned cooking or learned chemistry — everything was learnable, and systems were really important."

Many of the babies arrived at the universities suffering from malnutrition, and they were quickly plumped with good health after their stint in those programs.

Grunwald says she found little evidence of controversy around the practice, with the exception of a 1954 Time magazine article, where the Illinois state child welfare division found out a child was being raised on campus this way and was extremely disturbed by it.

Grunwald also wanted to find out the long-term effects on someone who is raised this way. She says she talked with various experts and psychiatrists.

"They told me about attachment disorder," Grunwald says. "If a child doesn't form one really tight bond in the first years of life, it sometimes happens that he or she can develop attachment disorder."

But there was no evidence, because the babies weren't followed and studied as they grew up.

"It was really the reason I wanted to write it as fiction because the alternative didn't seem very viable," Grunwald says. "They were returned to their orphanages and they were adopted in due course, the way most children were adopted, which was, at the time, very anonymously.

"While there is some evidence that some parents really wanted a Domecon baby — because he or she had been raised by scientific methods — there doesn't seem to have been any way of tracking them or following them. There was never a study done, there were never even records kept."


Breast Milk Improves Physical Condition of Future Adolescents

Breast feeding new born babies has lots of advantages in the short and in the long-term for babies. A study has confirmed the recently discovered benefits, which had not been researched until now. Adolescents who are breast fed at birth have stronger leg muscles than those who received artificial milk.

Enrique García Artero, the principal author of the study and researcher at the University of Granada pointed out that, "Our objective was to analyze the relationship between the duration of breastfeeding babies and their physical condition in adolescence." "The results suggest further beneficial effects..."

The authors asked the parents of 2,567 adolescents about the type of feeding their children received at birth and the time this lasted. The adolescents also carried out physical tests in order to evaluate several abilities such as aerobic capacities and their muscular strength.

The paper, which was published in the Journal of Nutrition, shows that the adolescents who were breastfed as babies had stronger leg muscles than those who were not breastfed. Moreover, muscular leg strength was greater in those who had been breastfed for a longer period of time.

This type of feeding (exclusively or in combination with other types of food) is associated with a better performance in horizontal jumping by boys and girls regardless of morphological factors such as fat mass, height of the adolescent or the amount of muscle.

Adolescents who were breastfed from three to five months, or for more than six months had half the risk of low performance in the jump exercise when compared with those who had never been breastfed.

García Artero stressed that, "Until now, no studies have examined the association between breastfeeding and future muscular aptitude."


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Medical Journal Says Autism Study Was a 'Fraud'

An influential but now-discredited study that provoked fears around the world that childhood vaccinations caused autism was based largely on falsified data, according to an article and editorial published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal.

The article, by journalist Brian Deer, found that important details of the cases of each of 12 children reported in the original study either misrepresented or altered the actual experiences of the children, the journal said. "In no single case could the medical records be fully reconciled with the descriptions, diagnoses, or histories published in the journal," the editorial said. It called the study "an elaborate fraud."

The original article, by British doctor Andrew Wakefield and other researchers, was published in the highly regarded journal The Lancet in 1998. The study concluded that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine—a mainstay of public-health disease prevention efforts around the world—was linked to autism and gastrointestinal disorders.

The findings provoked a still-raging debate over vaccine safety and they prompted thousands of parents to forgo shots for their children. Measles outbreaks were subsequently reported in several Western countries. Several epidemiological studies conducted since the Wakefield paper by public-health authorities haven't found any link between the vaccines and autism.

The Lancet withdrew the article in January of last year after concluding that "several elements" of the paper were incorrect. But the journal didn't describe any of the discrepancies as fraud. A British regulator stripped Dr. Wakefield of his medical license last May, citing "serious professional misconduct" in the way he handled the research.

Speaking on CNN Wednesday night, Dr. Wakefield defended his research. "The study is not a lie. The findings that we made have been replicated in five countries around the world," he said.

The editorial in the British Medical Journal noted that Dr. Wakefield "has refused to join 10 of his co-authors in retracting" the paper's conclusions.

In the article, Mr. Deer reported interviewing parents of the children included in the Wakefield study and finding important discrepancies between their recollections and medical records and what was reported in the Lancet. In one case, for instance, symptoms of autism and bowel problems appeared well before a child was vaccinated.

In another case, a parent whose child was purportedly included in the study found none of the descriptive detail resembled the child's experience.

Despite the Lancet retraction and other challenges to the original paper, "damage to public health continues," the British Medical Journal's editorial said, fueled "by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers and the medical professions." The journal said "hundreds of thousands" of British children remain unprotected even as efforts continue "to restore parents' trust in the vaccine."


(Arguably) The 12 Most Ridiculous Baby Trends of Today

Who hasn't chuckled at strange things done by parents – or been a parent that did something others thought was ridiculous? Everyone has their opinion on babies, and there are so many different healthy parenting styles that families can adopt. But then, there are some things that really go over the top. Here, we examine 12 of the craziest baby trends out there today.
  1. Baby gender cakes: Sparked by the Duggars on the Today Show, some parents-to-be are now asking bakers to get in on the big reveal, creating cakes that are either blue or pink on the inside with white icing outside. Together, parents and family members cut into the cake to find out the gender of their baby. Some even choose to throw a party for the occasion.
  2. Over the top luxury toys: Nothing is too good for your baby, right? Well then, a $17,000 diamond pacifier should fit the bill. Just don’t forget to use a pacifier clip, because you wouldn’t want to lose this one!
  3. Infant diets: Babies with fat rolls are cute and cuddly, but some parents are so afraid of childhood obesity that they put their children on a diet. Most of the time, extra weight is good for young children, and babies shouldn’t be put on a diet unless the recommendation comes from their pediatrician.
  4. Denim diapers: Diapers used to be waste receptacles, but now, they can be fashionable. Huggies recently introduced a new line of diapers made to look like denim pants, so your little one can wear jeans, too.
  5. Diaper free: It’s a major breakthrough for some parents, but for most, it’s just a lot of work. Young children are being taught to go without diapers and give their parents or caregivers signals that they are ready to go to the bathroom. This practice can be started as early as birth, but it’s only for the truly committed.
  6. Scary baby shower cakes: Whether explicit or just plain creepy, the next baby shower you attend may be graced with a scary cake. Some are shaped like babies or bellies, and others depict moms giving birth. What we’d really like to know is – who actually eats these?
  7. The wee block: Some parents learn how to master little boy diaper changes, and some run out and buy a product that may be more trouble than it’s worth. If you find yourself changing a little boy’s diaper, simply open the diaper to expose him to air, then put it down again for a moment to let him pee before moving on to a new diaper.
  8. Fake babies: Some childless women are adopting baby dolls. They insist that they feel like mothers with these dolls that are made to look and feel like real babies, even taking them out to the park and throwing birthday parties for them.
  9. Baby toupees: There’s no word on whether any parents have actually embraced this trend or not, but baby toupees are ridiculously entertaining. Parents can choose from a variety of different wigs to top off their babies in style for special occasions or everyday looks.
  10. Extreme postpartum diets: Popular with celebrities, extreme diets are a crazy way to get back your pre-baby shape. Restrictive diets like raw broccoli for lunch and dinner are a dangerous way to lose weight, and can stop milk production if you’re trying to breastfeed.
  11. Baby pumps: Before they can walk, some little girls are wearing trendy pink pumps. Designed for the amusement of adults, this footwear is just plain wrong. Or hilarious, depending on how you look at it.
  12. Personal training: Kids as young as 3 can work with personal trainers to lose weight and work out. However, doctors warn that children can’t work out the same way as adults. Additionally, playtime with physical activity is an important bonding experience for parents and babies, so parents should try to give their little ones a workout instead of sending them to a trainer.

Ground-Breaking Clinical Trial Using Cord Blood to Treat Brain Injuries

2011 kicks off with some exciting news for cord blood stem cell research - The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has officially launched an FDA-regulated trial looking at cord blood stem cells in the treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The study is being performed in partnership with Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, UTHealth's major children's teaching hospital.

Led by Dr. Charles Cox, professor and chief of Pediatric Trauma at the UTHealth Medical School, the study will enroll 10 children ages 18 months to 17 years who have suffered a TBI within 6-18 months of their injury and who also have access to their own cord blood stem cells at Cord Blood Registry.  Read more about the trial here.

 “This is the first trial authorized by the FDA to evaluate the use of autologous cord blood stem cells as a medical intervention to potentially treat TBI,” says Dr. Cox, who also directs the Pediatric Trauma Program at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Until recently, medical experts believed the brain had limited capacity to recover from severe trauma or injury.  As a result, treatment protocols focus on stabilizing patients to minimize damage and manage symptoms of the injury.  This Phase I trial will evaluate the safety of the use of cord blood stem cells to help recover and repair damage in the brain. 

Cord Blood Registry (CBR) is partnering with a growing number of clinical researchers focusing on the use of a child’s own cord blood stem cells to help treat pediatric brain injury.  To ensure consistency in cord blood stem cell processing, storage and release for infusion, both UTHealth, together with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and the Georgia Health Sciences University, home of the Medical College of Georgia, have named CBR as their cord blood bank partner in their FDA-authorized protocols.  This makes CBR the only family cord blood bank able to link its clients as potential clinical trial participants with researchers conducting these studies.

Visit the CBR Center for Regenerative Medicine to learn more about these partnerships.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

This Week's Celebrity Baby Bumps

Natalie Portman totes her pup through the airport, Penelope Cruz is weather-ready in camel and black, and Pink is adorable in red with a black and white panda hat.

Brother and sister born from two different wombs

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

They are calling them the "twiblings" - a baby brother and sister born just days apart from different wombs.

It's far from the traditional family, but 14-month-old Violet and Kieran are the much-loved children of Melanie Thernstrom and Michael Callahan.

The toddlers were born from Michael's sperm, an anonymous donor egg, and two surrogates who carried the babies.

The American couple's search for a family began after Melanie's sixth IVF treatment failed and adoption prospects were poor because of their ages.

Like thousands of other couples struggling with fertility they finally settled on 'third party' reproduction.

They wanted twins and got in touch with Melissa Fowler, a 30-year-old mother-of-two, and mother-of -three Fie McWilliams, 34, who both live in Oregon.

They agreed to carry a child each after an anonymous donor supplied the eggs.

Fie, who gave birth to Violet five days after Keiran said: "I had three relatively easy pregnancies with my own children and it was just a very special time in my life. I thought i'd be able to help somebody else be a mother, somebody else be a father."

How to Find Out About the Latest Product Recalls

When there's a massive recall, everyone hears about it, but many recalls don't make the news. However, since small children are famous for finding ways to make toys and even seemingly-harmless household objects dangerous, parents need to know about recalls.

So, how do you stay informed? You can always check out the latest recalls at ParentingWeekly, or visit, where you'll find the most recent recalls ordered by major federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You also can sign up with each agency to receive an e-mail whenever there's a recall.

The CPSC is the group that issues the most recalls for children's products. On its site, you can search by recall date, product type (crib, stroller, sippy cup) and company or country in which it was made. Click on a recall and you'll be directed to more information, such as a press release that includes company contact information.

The CPSC also has a recall hotline. Call 800-638-2772 to get more information about a recall, to find out how to get a product that's been recalled, fixed or how to return it.

Want to report a product that you think is especially dangerous? You can use the CPSC hotline or go online to report an injury or unsafe product.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Watch Out for Newborns Not Covered by Insurance

 Many expectant parents are pretty savvy these days about making sure that their obstetrician and the hospital where they plan to have their baby are in their health insurance network. Using an out-of-network provider would almost certainly mean higher out-of-pocket costs.

However, fewer parents-to-be realize that they may be in for a nasty surprise if their baby is premature or for some other reason needs special care immediately after birth: The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) personnel at their in-network hospital may be out of network.

"Some hospitals do contract with other clinical provider groups to run their NICUs," says Marie Watteau, director of media relations at the American Hospital Association. The companies that staff the NICUs may accept the same insurance carriers as the hospital, or they may not.

"When selecting a hospital, pregnant women should verify that all hospital care, including NICU care and physician services, are in network," says Watteau.

Nathan and Sonji Wilkes thought they had covered all the insurance bases before the birth of their son, Thomas, seven years ago. Their obstetrician and the hospital near their Englewood, Colo., home were all in network. They checked with the health insurer that provided their coverage to estimate their out-of-pocket costs. The expected total: $400.

Thomas's birth was uneventful. But when hospital personnel circumcised him, he wouldn't stop bleeding. He was given a diagnosis of hemophilia, treated and placed in the hospital's NICU, where he received treatment to stop the bleeding and remained under observation for a day.

 A few weeks later, the Wilkeses got a $50,000 bill for Thomas's NICU stay. They learned that the unit, located on the same floor as the regular nursery and delivery rooms, was staffed by a company under contract to the hospital, and the company didn't accept the family's insurance plan. "We just thought it was part of the hospital," says Nathan Wilkes. "We had no idea that it was even an option that the NICU could be in a different network."

Heather Ablondi's water broke at 25 weeks, and she delivered her daughter, Abigail, about 21/2 weeks later. The doctors at Inova Fairfax Hospital, near the family's home in Sterling, told her that it was unlikely her daughter would survive. Abigail weighed just 2 pounds, 9 ounces, her lungs were immature and she had sepsis.

Abigail pulled through and is now 4 years old. But she spent the first three months of her life in the NICU and accumulated $750,000 in bills. Shortly after her birth, the hospital billing department gave Ablondi the bad news that their insurance plan might not cover all the NICU expenses because the staff was out of network. "All of this stuff you're trying to juggle while you have a sick child," she says.

Kimberly Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Inova Health System, declined to comment on the Ablondi case, saying she couldn't discuss specific patients because of privacy laws. In general, she said, most health plans in the Washington area that contract with Inova also cover the neonatology staffs. But she advised patients to consult with their health plans ahead of time to confirm if the charges would be covered.

An astute social worker alerted the family to one possible way to address the billing problem: Abigail might qualify for Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income or disabled patients. Under federal rules, if Abigail met certain weight and other medical criteria, she could be deemed disabled under the Supplemental Security Insurance program and thus be eligible for Medicaid. Babies weighing less than 1,200 grams (about 2 pounds, 10 ounces) are considered disabled; Abigail weighed 1,162 grams.

People generally must meet income guidelines to qualify for Medicaid. But "while the child is in the institution, the child's income alone is what's looked at for Medicaid purposes," says Mary Kahn, a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Once she went home, Abigail was no longer eligible for Medicaid because her parents' income was taken into consideration.

The family's insurance policy covered the baby's NICU stay at the out-of-network rate of 60 percent, and Medicaid took care of nearly all the rest. Including their deductible and other out-of-pocket charges, Ablondi estimates the family paid $24,000 for Abigail's birth.

Her advice: Don't take no for an answer. Initially, the insurer refused to pay any of the NICU bills. Eventually they paid their share. Things weren't much different at the local Medicaid office, says Ablondi. The first person said Abigail couldn't qualify because of the family's income. Eventually, Ablondi talked to a supervisor who, she says, was also clueless. "But she did her research and called me back." Abigail got the coverage she needed.


Hospital ban on birth photography irks parents

Laurie Shifler, pregnant with her eighth child, assumed that family members would again be able to film her giving birth, but hospital officials said no.

In November, Meritus Medical Center implemented a policy prohibiting video, film and still photography of deliveries until five minutes after birth. The change is intended to protect patient privacy and reduce potential staff distractions, said Jody Bishop, administrative director of the department that includes the hospital's birthing center.

"Five minutes after the birth, if everybody's well and the physician approves, they can go ahead and start videotaping and taking pictures," Bishop told The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

But Shifler and husband Michael, of Cascade, say they'd like to capture the entire delivery.

"You can't get back those first moments," Mrs. Shifler said. "There's no redo."

Meritus spokeswoman Mary Rizk said Monday that the policy is in line with those at regional medical centers in Baltimore, Annapolis and western Maryland.

"The intent is for the physicians and midwives and staff to be able to focus on the delivery itself and on the safety of the mom and baby," Rizk said.

Officials at hospitals in nearby Martinsburg, W.Va., and Waynesboro and Chambersburg, Pa., said they allow delivery room cameras.

American Hospital Association spokesman Matt Fenwick said the group doesn't track the number of hospitals that allow delivery photography. He said such decisions are up to individual hospitals.

Rachel Seeger, a spokeswoman for the U.S. office of Civil Rights, said birth photography by a family member or friend doesn't violate privacy laws, but that some hospitals prohibit the practice out of a fear of lawsuits.

Frederick Memorial Hospital in nearby Frederick, Md., implemented a similar ban on delivery room cameras in 2001 after a doctor had to push a photographer aside to assist with a difficult delivery. The hospital reversed the policy after several women's groups gathered about 200 signatures protesting it.


Jason Schwartzman Welcomes a Daughter

Congratulations to Bored to Death star Jason Schwartzman and wife, fashion designer Brady Cunningham!

The couple welcomed a daughter, Marlowe Rivers Schwartzman, on Saturday, December 4 in Los Angeles, PEOPLE reports.

"I'm lucky I found a woman that I love and that's amazing," Schwartzman, 30, recently said. "I'm having a family and I feel very happy. I try to be a good father-to-be. I try to treat my wife well [so she can] enjoy these months.”

The couple wed in July 2009.


Monday, January 03, 2011

Eat greens to have girls

Mothers who eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and rice are more likely to have baby girls, according to a new study that could help parents choose the sex of their children. 

The Dutch study asked 32 women who already had boys to try a special "little girl diet" high in calcium and magnesium. This meant eating foods like goat's cheese salad, vegetable stew and rice pudding. Foods like potatoes and bananas, which have high levels of potassium, that is believed to lead to boys, were restricted.

The result of the five-year project was that 26 women had girls and only six gave birth to boys.

The women were also asked to try and conceive at a certain time in the ovulation cycle. 

But the researchers believe that the diet of the women was the strongest factor in achieving 80 per cent girls.

Old wives’ tales already advise women to eat certain foods such as spinach, nuts and broccoli in order to have girls

It is thought that levels of minerals in the blood affect the unfertilized egg, making it more receptive to female chromosomes.

Gender Consult, the Dutch consultantcy that led the research with Delft and Maastricht Universities, is now going to conduct the same experiment with women who have girls and want to have a little boy. 

Annet Norlander, a biologist at the centre, said the results of the studies could help people to influence the sex of their child in future.

Smoking tied to miscarriage risk

A new study may offer women one more reason to kick the smoking habit before becoming pregnant: a potentially reduced risk of early miscarriage.

In a study of nearly 1,300 Japanese women with a past pregnancy, researchers found that those who smoked heavily early in pregnancy were more than twice as likely as non-smokers to suffer a miscarriage in the first trimester.

There are many reasons for women to quit smoking before becoming pregnant. The habit has been linked to increased risks of stillbirth, preterm delivery and low birthweight. But studies so far have come to conflicting conclusions as to whether smoking might contribute to miscarriage risk.

These latest findings, reported in the journal Human Reproduction, support a connection.

For the study, researchers led by Dr. Sachiko Baba of Osaka University reviewed the records of 430 women who'd suffered a first-trimester miscarriage. They compared each woman with two others the same age who had given birth that same year.

Overall, the researchers found, women who smoked heavily during pregnancy -- at least 20 cigarettes per day -- were more than twice as likely as the non-smokers to have a miscarriage.

Seven percent (32) of the 430 women who suffered a miscarriage smoked that amount, versus four percent (36) of the 860 women who delivered a baby.

Previous research has led to estimates that up to eight percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage between six and eight weeks after the woman's last period, but after 10 weeks that rate drops to two percent.

Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester and experts believe that the majority of those are caused by random genetic abnormalities that cannot be prevented. However, certain lifestyle habits have been linked to a relatively increased risk of miscarriage -- including heavy drinking, drug use and, in some studies, smoking.

The current findings do not prove that smoking, itself, was the reason for the increased miscarriage risk seen in the study group. But the researchers were able to account for several other factors, including the women's reported drinking habits and histories of past miscarriages. And the smoking-miscarriage link remained.


Baby Born at 11:11 on 1/1/11

Her parents are hoping she'll be one lucky baby.

For Rose Gretton was born at 11:11 on 1/1/11.

Incredibly, she was also one of 11 babies born on the first day of 2011 at Burton's Queen's Hospital.

Her mother Kacey, a training consultant from Midway, Derbyshire, said: "With her being born at 11:11am on the first of the first, 2011, she's got all the ones. My mother and I thought that was a lovely coincidence."

Her husband Neil, 31, a graphic designer, said that baby Rose, the couple's first child together, had been a blessing after a difficult birth.

Mrs Gretton, 24, had to undergo an emergency cesarean section after being in hospital for three days.

The couple, who married three months ago, said Rose has been a welcome surprise. She weighed in at 8lbs 3oz.

Queen's Hospital midwife Sam Collins said: "We had 11 deliveries in total, which was a very busy day for us. We do not normally have so many."