Friday, January 21, 2011

The Story Behind Lucy's Pregnancy on I Love Lucy

In 1953, Lucy Ricardo gave birth to Little Ricky — and Lucille Ball to Desi Jr. on the same date. This was not a coincidence.

Although not the first TV pregnancy — it was the second — it was still a Big Deal (even though the show used the euphemism "expecting" throughout the real-time pregnancy.) The birth episode, "Lucy Goes to the Hospital," was planned to run the same day Ball gave birth via C-section. The stunt worked: the episode was the most-watched of its time, pulling down 71.7% of the American viewership.

 Watch the hilarious scene when Lucy's labor began:


DNA Fingerprinting May Help Missing Kids

Should DNA fingerprinting on newborn children be the law of the land?

This is the question for debate that many people are asking in light of the recent news story on Carlina White,  23, who was abducted from Harlem Hospital back in 1987 when she was just 19 days old. White was raised in Connecticut under the name Nejdra Nance, but she said she had long suspected that her kidnapper was not actually her mother.

Because of her suspicions, White set out to find her true identity and seek out her real birth parents, and finally, she was reunited with her mother Joy White this past week. DNA tests helped confirm her identity.

Here’s a picture of reality: Every 40 seconds, a child in the United States goes missing or is abducted. Most abductions are done by a family member. 

When police departments are investigating these crimes, they rely significantly not only on surveillance data, but also on DNA testing.

 There are many available customized kits for identification that parents can consider, including fingerprints, photographs, medical and dental records-- but the most important of all may be DNA.

DNA fingerprinting is the most accurate way to identify one human from another because it is very unlikely that any two people would have exact same DNA information. In case of an unimaginably terrible moment, this DNA might be able to help identify a child.

Ivanka Trump Is Pregnant

There's a baby on the way for Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.

The 29-year-old confirmed the happy news on Twitter this morning, writing, "I have been wanting to share some amazing news with you all for some time...I'm pregnant! Jared and I couldn't be more excited."

Ivanka, who appears as a judge on her dad Donald Trump's show The Apprentice as well as being a business success herself, talked in 2009 about motherhood, saying of her busy schedule, "When our time to have a family comes around, I know I will compromise."

Congratulations to them!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Want to Learn More About Cord Blood?

Did you know that three out of every four pregnant women consider themselves only "minimally informed" about their cord blood preservation options? Here's an important New Year's resolution we can make to turn that stat around: getting smarter about cord blood stem cells. Unlike some of the resolutions we make, following through on this one is pretty easy - the Cord Blood Education Center is an online program that informs expectant parents about cord blood stem cells.

The online center was created by Cord Blood Registry to help facilitate education for any expectant parent or health care provider.  To date, 20 states have passed laws that require or encourage healthcare providers to offer patients better information on cord blood stem cells. The Cord Blood Education Center pulls together current news and developments in health policy to support both healthcare providers and parents-to-be by providing a simple, easy to navigate resource to guide them through all of the options available for newborn cord blood stem cells.     

If you haven’t done so already, take a moment to explore the Cord Blood Education Center.


US surgeon general: Women face too many obstacles in breastfeeding

How long a new mother breast-feeds can boil down to hassles at work,  whether her doctor ever stressed how healthy it is, even whether Grandma approves.

The U.S. surgeon general is issuing a call to eliminate obstacles to breastfeeding - and working mothers may see the first steps: The new health care law requires that many employers start offering "reasonable" break times to pump milk and a private place to do it. No, the company bathroom no longer counts.

Breastfeeding benefits both baby and mother but it is not always easy. Three-quarters of U.S. mothers say they breast-feed during their baby's first days and weeks. But within six months, that drops to 43 per cent who are breastfeeding at least sometimes and just 13 per cent who follow recommendations that babies receive only breast milk during that first half-year of life.

"The hardest thing is to keep it up, because our society and our culture aren't there to support them," said Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. "They really shouldn't have to go it alone."

Research has long made clear the benefits of breastfeeding. Breast-fed babies suffer fewer illnesses such as diarrhea, earaches and pneumonia, because breast milk contains antibodies that help fend off infections. They're also less likely to develop asthma, or even to become fat later in childhood. Nursing mothers shed pregnancy pounds faster, and if they breast-feed long enough can decrease their risk of breast or ovarian cancer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says breast milk alone provides optimal nutrition for babies for about the first six months, the time when most babies begin solid foods, and that breast-feeding should continue to age 1.

By 2020, the government hopes to have 82 per cent of women start breastfeeding and raise to about a quarter those whose babies are exclusively breast-fed for about six months. Today, those rates are lowest for black babies, with 58 per cent starting out breast-fed and 8 per cent exclusively breast-fed for six months.

Mothers who cannot or choose not to breast-feed should not be made to feel guilty, Benjamin said. But for those who want to, her office took a closer look at the obstacles and found plenty.

Women whose own mothers and grandmothers didn't breast-feed lack support and even may face skepticism, said Benjamin. She urged education of family members, including dad, during prenatal visits — and noted that breast-feeding can save up to $1,500 in infant formula in the first year of life.

Doctors and hospitals should stress the benefits of breastfeeding, before and at delivery. Certified lactation consultants can help ensure women get help with such issues as how the baby latches on and how to ease breast discomfort, she said.

But a big focus is on employers, to make sure moms have the time and privacy to pump milk when they return to work.

"It makes economic sense for the company," Benjamin stressed. "Women miss less time at work when the babies are healthy, and there's retention of their good employees."

That is why AOL Inc. created what it calls "mothers' rooms" in its offices in 15 cities around the country. They are quiet nursing spots that come equipped with two different kinds of breast pumps so moms don't have to haul as much gear, and part of a broader program that also includes access to lactation consultants that serves about 100 families a year.

The investment paid off, said vice-president Gillian Pon: Since 2003, the company has seen a jump in employee breastfeeding and a drop in health claims for sick newborns.


Mother's Bone Marrow Could Cure Baby in the Womb

A stem cell cure that could treat potentially deadly blood diseases in babies while they are still in the womb has been developed by scientists.

In tests, researchers took bone marrow cells from a pregnant mother and injected them into the developing fetus.

The donor cells were accepted by the fetus's growing immune system without the need for any drugs.

The experiment - carried out on animals - is the first time that scientists have been able to successfully transplant a mother's stem cells into her offspring before birth.

The technique could one day be used to treat a range of genetic diseases which affect thousands of Britons - including sickle cell anaemia or 'bubble boy disease', the immune system disorder that leaves babies vulnerable to normally harmless infections.

Dr Tippi MacKenzie, who led the study at the University of California, San Francisco, said: "This research is really exciting because it offers us a straightforward, elegant solution that makes fetal stem cell transplantation a reachable goal."

Many genetic diseases can be diagnosed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Doctors say developing babies are ideal candidates for transplants because the risk of rejection is low and because they are less likely to need long term drugs to suppress their immune systems.

However, most past attempts to transplant blood stem cells into a child in the womb have failed.

The new study - which appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation - found that a mother's immune response prevents fetuses from accepting donor blood stem cells.

Up to 10 per cent of the fetus' blood cells came from the mother, it showed.
"As long as the transplanted stem cells are matched to the mother, it does not seem to matter if they are matched to the fetus," said co-author Dr Amar Nijagal.

The researchers now plan to see if the transplanted stem cells work in babies.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This Week's Celebrity Baby Bumps

Alicia Silverstone compliments her dark blue and black outfit with a light gray sweater, Jane Krakowski has a similar palette but rocks a pair of platform clogs, Natalie Portman's blooming bump was accentuated at the Golden Globes with a red bloom on her pink gown, she later glowed in a blue silk dress, Pink sticks to her tomboy roots in black cargoes and a green top, and Selma Blair looks adorable in a tiny white dress paired with cowboy boots.

Source Source Source

A second language gives toddlers an edge

Toddlers who learn a second language from infancy have an edge over their unilingual peers, according to a new study from Concordia University and York University in Canada and the Université de Provence in France.

As reported in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, the research team tested the understanding of English and French words among 24-month-olds to see if bilingual toddlers had acquired comparable vocabulary in each language.

"By 24 months, we found bilingual children had already acquired a vocabulary in each of their two languages and gained some experience in switching between English or French," says senior researcher Diane Poulin-Dubois, a psychology professor at Concordia University and associate director of the Centre for Research in Human Development. "We found the cognitive benefits of bilingualism come much earlier than reported in previous studies."

As part of the investigation, 63 toddlers were divided into groups of unilingual and bilingual infants. To assess levels of bilingualism, parents completed a language exposure interview and vocabulary checklists, while children completed five basic language and cognitive tests.

"Bilingual children outperformed their unilingual counterparts on tasks where they were distracted," says Dr. Poulin-Dubois. "The small bilingual advantage that we observed in our 24-month-old bilinguals is probably due to a combination of infants' experience listening to and using their two languages."

These new findings have practical implications for educators and parents, says Dr. Poulin-Dubois. "Exposing toddlers to a second language early in their development provides a bilingual advantage that enhances attention control."


A Parental Leave Debate in Britain

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced on Monday that the government was extending the amount of parental leave that fathers can take after the birth of a child. Under the current rules, dads in the UK get two weeks off work around the time their child's born, while mothers receive up to a year. By institutionalizing the idea that women should be the ones child-rearing and men should be the ones bread-winning, Clegg quite fairly deemed that "these rules patronize women and marginalize men."

In a first move to address the discrepancy, he announced that as of April 2011 changes to parental leave will allow fathers to take over the remainder of a woman's maternity leave after six months. If a family decides that mom should return to work after seven months, dad can take leave for the remaining five. If mom needs the whole year off, it's still hers for the taking. The new rules are meant to offer more choice, with room for families to decide the best course of action.

What's more, Clegg announced that the government was in "consultation" of further changes for 2015. New rules could include men being able to take over leave as early as six weeks after the baby was born and parents being able to alternate their time off in "chunks," rather than in long stretches. There is also talk of an incentive policy being implemented for fathers--a "use it or lose it" block of leave to be taken within a set time after the baby arrives--to encourage fathers to use the time off and overcome the stigma that still lingers over paternal leave.

And this announcement seems to have thrown small business owners into a panic.

David Frost, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce adamantly criticized the changes. "This is too difficult for small businesses to deal with, and could prevent them from taking on staff at a time when they are expected to create wealth and jobs," he said. "The rigid rules Nick Clegg refers to and plans to abolish are the very same rules needed by business to help them plan."

Daniel Barnett writes in the Guardian that the changes "will have a chilling impact on recruitment practice. Many employers shy away from hiring women of childbearing age. Clegg's proposals might see employers becoming wary of recruiting anyone in their 20s or 30s."

Apart from the ludicrousness of the suggestion that business owners would actually avoid hiring anyone who might possibly become a parent (which would mean all men as they can father children well into their 60s), the implication that it's preferable for employers to discriminate against women alone, rather than men and women, is exactly the sort of attitude that changes such as Clegg's are meant to remedy. (via Guardian)

Read more:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban Welcome a Daughter!

Surprising - and very happy - news from Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban: They're the proud parents of another baby girl!

Faith Margaret Kidman Urban was born via a surrogate on December 28 at Nashville's Centennial Women's Hospital.

The Oscar-winner and her musician husband shared the well-kept secret in the following statement:
Our family is truly blessed, and just so thankful, to have been given the gift of baby Faith Margaret. No words can adequately convey the incredible gratitude that we feel for everyone who was so supportive throughout this process, in particular our gestational carrier."
Faith joins the couple's daughter Sunday Rose, 2, as well as Isabella, 18, and Connor, 15, Nicole's kids from her previous marriage.

Congratulations to the family on the wonderful news!


Canada: Phthalates to be restricted in children's toys

The Canadian federal government said Tuesday it will place new restrictions on the use of six phthalates in children's toys and some child-care products.

Phthalates are chemicals used to make polyvinyl chloride - a type of plastic - flexible. They are also used to hold color and scents in certain products. Sometimes referred to as plasticizers, phthalates can be found in a wide range of consumer products, including perfumes, nail polish, vinyl floors, detergents, lubricants, food packaging, soap, paint, shampoo, toys, air fresheners and plastic bags.

There is no immediate health risk from the chemicals, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq told a news conference in Ottawa.

"But we are concerned about the long-term effects they could have on children when the soft vinyl is sucked or chewed — like a bib or a rubber duck for instance," Aglukkaq said. "Research shows that exposure to even low levels of certain phthalates can affect a child's development and behavior."

The regulations will help ensure that children’s toys and child-care articles imported, sold or advertised in Canada do not present a risk of phthalate exposure to young children, Aglukkaq added.

The new rules are an expansion of restrictions in Canada and follow similar moves in the United States. The European Union adopted more severe restrictions in 1999.

Some medical research has suggested phthalates may have feminizing properties in humans, while other research has said phthalates might be linked with abdominal obesity and insulin resistance in men.

The new restrictions will limit the allowable concentrations of DEHP, DBP and BBP to no more than 1,000 milligrams per kilogram in the soft vinyl of all children’s toys and child-care products. They will also restrict the permitted concentrations of DINP, DIDP and DNOP to no more than 1,000 mg/kg in the same products where children under four years old might put the soft vinyl in their mouths.

The new restrictions will come into force on June 10.

Rick Smith, the executive director of Environmental Defence Canada, applauded the Canadian government's latest move to bring the country's measures in line with the U.S. and European Union.

New Democrat Glenn Thibeault, the party's consumer protection critic, called on Ottawa to devote enough resources to protect children through proper monitoring and enforcement of the latest prohibition.

Since 2009, any children's product sold or distributed in California has not been able to contain more than one-tenth of one per cent of phthalates. The European Union has outlawed the use of DEHP, DBP and BBP in children's products. DINP, DNOP and DIDP are also banned in toys that children under the age of three might put in their mouths.


Mothers admit to parenting lies, survey says

Many mothers are under so much pressure to appear like perfect parents that they cover up how much television their children watch or what they cook their families, according to a survey.

Such "white lies" also extend to how much "quality time" mothers spend with their partner, website Netmums said its survey of 5,000 people suggested.

The parenting site said mothers often made each other feel "inadequate".

"Mums need to be more honest with each other," said Netmums' Siobhan Freegard.

Almost two-thirds of those surveyed said they had been less than honest with other mothers about how well they were coping and almost half covered up financial worries.

Almost a quarter of mothers admitted to downplaying how much television their children actually watched - and one in five "span a yarn" over how long they played with their children.

Ms Freegard, co-founder of the site, said there had been another example of a mother who was exhausted and went back to bed during the day, but explained her failure to answer the phone as being because her hands had been covered in flour while making cookies.

The need to keep up a good impression among other parents becomes even more important for mothers who are living far away from their own extended families, she said.

But the survey suggested that this fear of not being a perfect parent was not driven by images of celebrities in glossy magazines.

Instead the sense of inadequacy was caused by peer pressure from other mothers at the school gate or the nursery, the survey found, with more than nine out of 10 comparing themselves to other mothers.

One mother, known as Becky, who responded to the survey explained that it was difficult to be honest: "My friend was telling me about how she limited her son's access to the PlayStation and I agreed, telling her that I also limited my son to an hour a day, after homework.

"After I'd said it, I kicked myself for not telling the truth - I mean, it's no big deal. It's just very difficult to put your hands up and admit that you parent differently to your friends."

Parenting expert and sociologist Frank Furedi said that parents were under "profound pressures" from society. He said that a culture of parenting "incites parents to lie and to turn child-rearing into a performance."
He added that even with the best intentions, reports such as these increased the pressure on parents: "Parents are always being judged in one way or another - including by this report. The real solution is to lay off parents and publish less reports."

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos said that it was common for people to feel that they were being judged in a variety situations. She advised parents to avoid comparing themselves with others.

"You're in competition with no-one but yourself - all you can do is the best for you and your kid."