Friday, January 28, 2011

Why Rich Parents Don't Matter

How much do the decisions of parents matter? Most parents believe that even the most mundane acts of parenting - from their choice of day care to their policy on video games - can profoundly influence the success of their children. Kids are like wet clay, in this view, and we are the sculptors.

Yet in tests measuring many traits, from intelligence to self-control, the power of the home environment pales in comparison to the power of genes and peer groups. We may think we're sculptors, but the clay is mostly set.

A new paper suggests that both metaphors can be true. Which one is relevant depends, it turns out, on the economic status of families.

For a paper in Psychological Science, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia looked at 750 pairs of American twins who were given a test of mental ability at the age of 10 months and then again at the age of 2. By studying the performance of identical versus fraternal twins, the scientists could tease out the relative importance of factors such as genetics and the home environment. Because the infants came from households across the socioeconomic spectrum, it also was possible to see how wealth influenced test scores.

When it came to the mental ability of 10-month-olds, the home environment was the key variable, across every socioeconomic class. But results for the 2-year-olds were dramatically different. In children from poorer households, the choices of parents still mattered. In fact, the researchers estimated that the home environment accounted for approximately 80% of the individual variance in mental ability among poor 2-year-olds. The effect of genetics was negligible.

The opposite pattern appeared in 2-year-olds from wealthy households. For these kids, genetics primarily determined performance, accounting for nearly 50% of all variation in mental ability. (The scientists made this conclusion based on the fact that identical twins performed much more similarly than fraternal twins.) The home environment was a distant second. For parents, the correlation appears to be clear: As wealth increases, the choices of adults play a much smaller role in determining the mental ability of their children.

Children from wealthy households get all the advantages that money can buy, from music lessons to SAT tutors. Although parents might fret over the details of such advantages—is it better to play the piano or the violin?—these details are mostly insignificant, subject to the law of diminishing returns. As the science blogger Razib Kahn notes, "When you remove the environmental variance, the genetic variance remains."

These results capture the stunning developmental inequalities that set in almost immediately, so that even the mental ability of 2-year-olds can be profoundly affected by the socio-economic status of their parents. As a result, their genetic potential is held back.

Though this latest study doesn't speculate about the causes of these class differences, previous research has focused on a panoply of factors, such as the variety of words directed toward the child (more variety leads to higher test scores), the number of books in the home and even the ratio of encouraging remarks to discouraging warnings. By the age of 3, children from wealthier households hear, on average, about 500,000 encouragements and 80,000 discouragements. The ratio is reversed in households on welfare.

Such statistics have led many researchers to highlight the importance of improving the early-childhood environments of poor children. Economists such as James Heckman, a Nobel laureate at the University of Chicago, have long advocated for increased investments in preschool education, but this latest study suggests that interventions need to begin even earlier. One possible model is the "Baby College" administered by the Harlem Children's Zone, which seeks to equip brand-new parents with better parenting skills.

Eliminating such inequalities in the early years of life would simply create a new kind of inequality, driven by genetics. But such a world would at least let more children come closer to their mental potential, unconstrained by the mistakes or impoverishment of their parents. The greatest luxury we can give our children, it turns out, is the luxury of being the type of parent that doesn't matter at all.


Mother to 12 twins

Gladys Bulinya is 35 years old and the mother of six sets of twins - a total of 12 children.

That in itself is something of a challenge, but Gladys lives in a part of Kenya where people think twins are cursed.

As a result, she has been rejected by her family and by the fathers of her children.

She now lives in a one roomed grass-thatched house and she and some of her children do odd jobs in order to feed the family.

Muliro Telewa from the BBC's Nairobi Bureau first bumped into Gladys at a traditional ceremony.

He says she stood out because of the desperate and insistent way she way she was asking for work.

She told him how when her first twins were born her family told her to leave them at the district hospital for adoption. They were eventually taken in by their paternal grandfather.

Gladys now lives with her remaining ten children.


Study: Fathers should concentrate on playing instead of care

 Psychologists have found that couples have a stronger, more supportive relationship when the father spends more time playing with their child and less time feeding or bathing them..

The findings suggest that traditional roles work best and that a man who insists on helping with the baby care actually undermines his wife's efforts.

Professor Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, at Ohio State University, co-author, said it was disappointing for people who believe mothers and fathers should share equally in the care of their children.

But she added that it shows that there is not just one way to share parenting duties.

"I don't think this means that for every family, a father being involved in caregiving is a bad thing," she said.

"You can certainly have a solid co-parenting relationship without sharing caregiving responsibilities equally."

Prof Schoppe-Sullivan and colleagues began with 112 couples who had a four-year-old child.

The couples first filled out questionnaires that asked how often they were involved in play activities with their children – such as giving them rides on their shoulders and backs – and how often they were involved in caregiving activities.

The researchers then observed the couple for 20 minutes while they helped their child in completing two tasks – drawing a picture of their family together and building a house out of a toy building set.

These tasks were designed to be slightly too difficult for preschool-age children and required the guidance of both parents, which gave the researchers the opportunity to detect how much the parents supported or undermined each other in their co-parenting.

The researchers looked for signs of supportive co-parenting, such as couples encouraging and co-operating with each other as they helped their child.

The team also looked for evidence of couples criticizing each other's parenting or trying to "outdo" each other.
One year later, the couples returned to the laboratory and took part in a similar observed activity with their child.

The results showed that, in general, when fathers played more with their child at the beginning of the study, the couple showed more supportive co-parenting one year later.

However, when fathers said they participated more in caregiving, the couples showed lower levels of supportive co-parenting one year later.

The findings in the study remained the same even when the researchers compared dual and single-income families, and when they took into account a wide variety of other demographic factors such as father's education and work hours, family income, family size and the length of the couple's relationship.

The results fit into her other work, which has found that mothers can act as "gatekeepers" to their children, either fostering or restricting how much fathers are involved in caring.

"There might be some ambivalence on the part of mothers in allowing fathers to participate in day-to-day child care," she said.

"But fathers might be ambivalent too, and may not be happy about shouldering more of the caregiving. That may contribute to less supportive co-parenting."

The study appears in the journal of Developmental Psychology.


Treating Metabolic Disorders with Cord Blood

Inherited metabolic disorders such as Hurler's Syndrome and Krabbe Disease are genetic conditions caused by enzyme defects that result in problems with the way the body processes metabolic substances.

Typically appearing in early childhood, these metabolic disorders affect different enzymes and cause varied types and degrees of organ and tissue damage. Although most of these disorders are rare, early diagnosis and treatment are important in order to prevent or reduce the development of serious damage, in particular, neurological damage.

The first stem cell transplant for an inherited metabolic disorder was conducted in 1980. Since then, stem cell transplantation has emerged as a long-term enzyme replacement treatment option for several metabolic disorders.

The transplants work by rebuilding a patient’s blood and immune cells with a donor’s healthy stem cells. The donor stem cells produce, secrete, and replace the missing enzyme caused by the genetic defect.

Although responses to the transplant can vary, the benefit can be a constant source of enzyme replacement over the course of the patient’s lifetime. Stem cells also have the unique ability to provide enzyme therapy across the blood brain barrier to the central nervous system where neurological damage may be prevented or possibly repaired.

Certain inherited metabolic syndromes are eligible for medical need-based programs, such as CBR’s Designated Treatment Program (SM), that provide free cord blood banking services for those with a family member diagnosed with a condition treatable by stem cell transplant. These programs are designed to increase access to cord blood and its many therapeutic advantages.

For more information on the Designated Treatment Program (SM) and eligibility requirements, visit


Thursday, January 27, 2011

10 Great Pregnancy Apps for iPhones

There are some wonderful pregnancy apps available now in the App Store. There are timeline apps, nutrition apps, paternity apps, and more.

Hello Baby Plus - Pregnancy Calendar

Just as your unborn baby is developing quickly, so is the Hello Baby App. This Plus version enables you to see a complete 360° view of your baby's development at simulated actual-size. You can also record your voice to hear what you may sound like to your baby in the womb. The app also allows you to share your baby’s developments with the whole family through email and Facebook.

Things you can do with Hello Baby Plus:

  • Double tap the baby to toggle between Actual-size View and Timeline View.
  • Enjoy a complete 360° view of a typical baby’s development on three exciting weeks of your pregnancy, weeks 6, 12, and 24.
  • Use the Womb Translator to record your voice to hear what you may sound like to your baby in the womb. 
  • Share a typical baby’s development week by week on Facebook or, now, through email.
  • Watch Pampers video series for a little parenting advice and a lot of laughs.


Pregnancy Food Guide

 This application will tell you about foods you should eat, how to plan your diet, which foods to avoid, and which food groups work best for you.

The application is divided into two parts; Pregnancy and Postpartum. Both parts start with planning and then they follow the food you eat and recommend foods to avoid. This application doesn't provide any recipes.


My Pregnancy Diary

Collect your thoughts, sensations, emotions, and your physical changes in your pregnancy diary. With the pregnancy diary app you can:

  • Know your gestational progress.
  • Record your activities, emotions, and important dates.
  • Add pictures to entries.
  • Read useful information weekly about your pregnancy.
  • Keep track of your physical changes.
  • Keep track of health care visits.
  • Search thousands of names to choose your favorite baby name.


Pregnant Dad

This is the best selling app for dads to be worldwide.

Besides essential information regarding the growth and development of the baby, you receive hints and tips for surviving as a man during these important 9 months. Sliced in 2-3 bits per week it has the right amount of information for men to follow.


Mini-atlas Pregnancy 

 The Mini-atlas Pregnancy is the perfect pocket tool for physicians. With just a few taps on the iPhone, doctors can use the app to effectively communicate with their patients, showing them illustrations to help explaining the stages, physiology and pathology of gestation. All the relevant aspects of the process are included in great detail. Whatever you’re looking for, the Mini-atlas Pregnancy App has an image for that.

Incredible features:

  • A huge database of detailed and labeled images related to pregnancy
  • Each illustration has explanation text beneath it
  • Zoom in with your fingers to any section of the picture
  • Easy search – just type part of the topic you’re looking for
  • Email any image or section of an image you need
  • Available in English or Spanish
  • Works in portrait or landscape mode
  • Available for iPhone, iPad and iPad touch


Milk Maid

The Milk Maid app was designed to help pumping moms manage their stash of breast milk.

  • Record pumping sessions and quickly see your inventory of fresh and frozen milk in multiple locations. (Home, work, daycare, etc. Want to add Grandma’s house? You can easily add custom locations.)
  • Milk Maid keeps track of individual bottles and bags by pumping date so that you can use the oldest milk first. You can combine milk from multiple pumping sessions or pour milk from one bottle into multiple bottles and freezer bags.
  • Record the bottles and bags used by you or your caregiver each day. Have a business trip? Milk Maid will calculate the average milk you used last week to help you estimate how long your stash will last.
  • Set an expiration period for each storage location and Milk Maid will track the expiration time of each bottle/bag in your stash. Browse the stash to see containers that are nearing expiration or expired.
  • Use Milk Maid’s optional features like the handy timer if your pump does not have one and the Left/Right feature to track each side separately.


MedCalc Pro (medical calculator)

MedCalc Pro is a medical calculator that gives you easy access to complicated medical formulas, scores, scales and classifications. Each entry has been individually designed and optimized for the iPhone screen. Running MedCalc Pro on an iPad reveals a user interface attuned to the much larger iPad screen.
The Pro version offers an exclusive patient management system which allows you to save and retrieve formula results, notes and images. Upon saving results, MedCalc remembers certain patient input like height, weight and a range of lab values. These values will be inserted on demand into subsequent formulas.


Sweet Baby

The next generation of baby books for the modern family. Preserve all your child’s precious memories in beautiful digital form with the first baby book designed specifically for iPad.
Sweet Baby captures video, photos and text of all your child’s landmark moments and collects them in a beautiful, and sharable virtual book. Pre-loaded pages and fill-in-the-blank questions make creating your baby book easy and fun, while original artwork make every baby book a beautiful collection of baby’s earliest memories.


From Here to Paternity by Andrew Cullen

When his partner Kate discovered she was pregnant, Andrew Cullen decided to write the kind of book that he wanted to read but couldn’t find anywhere, one that was truthful about the man’s experience. His pregnancy diary, candidly recording the significant little details as well as the dramatic moments, is an ideal companion for anyone thinking about becoming a father… or a mother. "Pregnancy" is a story that embraces all genres: it is a romance, a comedy, a thriller, a suspense tale, a travel book about the most amazing journey of your life. This unique chronicle is an honest, witty, touching account about what a man really thinks about becoming a dad.


Anne Geddes Beginnings HD

The Anne Geddes Beginnings HD iPad app is a visually rich tour of Anne’s captivating new book, Beginnings. Beginnings explores the parallels between ourselves and other miracles of nature, placing these complementary wonders side by side in an attempt to evoke a deeper appreciation of the simple yet deceptively complex beauty of our existence.



Three San Diego hospitals excel at helping moms to breastfeed

A new study shows three San Diego hospitals are among the best in California at encouraging mothers to breastfeed their newborns, which experts say is a key first step in raising a healthier baby.

Pomerado Hospital in Poway was eighth statewide, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla was 12th and Scripps Memorial Encinitas was 14th in posting the highest rates of mothers breastfeeding their babies without any supplemental formula while in the hospital, according to “One Hospital at a Time: Overcoming Barriers to Breastfeeding.”

Produced by the U.C. Davis Human Lactation Center and the California WIC Association, the study used 2009 data from the California Department of Public Health.

The study also showed that hospitals statewide that serve a larger proportion of low-income mothers had lower rates of “exclusive” breastfeeding (nursing without additional formula).

That held true in San Diego County, where the study looked at data from 11 hospitals and found the lowest rates of exclusive breastfeeding by mothers was at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista and Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

More than 90 percent of California mothers come into the hospital planning to breastfeed their baby, but far fewer leave nursing their newborn, according to the study. Experts say that successful breastfeeding requires a hospital actively supporting a mother and baby as they establish a pattern of nursing during the first 24 to 72 hours of the newborn’s life.

At Pomerado Hospital, 87 percent left still exclusively nursing, while at Tri-City the rate was 43 percent.
Marjorie Barr, a Board Certified Lactation Consultant at Pomerado, said the hospital has worked to create an environment that encourages breastfeeding.

California is part of an international effort started by the World Health Organization in 1991 to provide hospitals with a 10-step program designed to encourage mothers to nurse their babies.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative steps include: staff training; educating pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding; helping mothers start nursing within an hour after birth; keeping mother and baby together; and not offering other food, drink or pacifiers to the newborn unless medically needed.

In California, 34 hospitals have been certified in the Baby-Friendly program and many more are reworking their policies in order to qualify.

“We found there were several practices in the hospital that made it difficult for successful breastfeeding,” Barr said. “We’ve worked hard on changing this.”

The hospital now has a lactation counselor on staff at all times, healthy babies are never separated from the mother, and moms are encouraged to provide skin-to-skin contact with their newborn.

Studies show that left undisturbed, infants will begin nursing within 50 minutes, Barr said.

The Scripps Mercy Chula Vista maternal health director was unavailable Tuesday for an interview about the study. Her counterpart at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, Director of Maternal Child Health and registered nurse Reva Royal, said both hospitals have been changing policies to encourage breastfeeding.

The Hillcrest hospital’s most important initiative was to stop sending newborns to a nursery while the mother was tidied up and her vital signs checked after the birth.

“We told families it would be for an hour or two, but we discovered we actually were keeping them in the nursery for four to six hours,” Royal said. “Chula Vista is in the process of replicating that model” and eliminating a nursery stay.


Too Many Babies Being Delivered Early

At some U.S. hospitals, upwards of 40% of babies are born via elective early deliveries - that is, inducing labor or doing an early C-section before 39 weeks into the pregnancy for no medical reason.

These stats come courtesy of the Leapfrog Group - a coalition of health-benefit purchasers aiming to improve healthcare safety, quality and affordability - which today put out a new report calling on expectant moms to request the rates of early elective delivery from hospitals in their area.

The group, along with Childbirth Connection (a not-for-profit focused on maternity-care quality) and the March of Dimes is trying to educate women about the importance of those last few weeks of pregnancy for the baby’s development, and about the risks to both moms and babies if delivery is induced or scheduled early without a valid medical reason. Those might include a mother developing hypertension or her water breaking without labor beginning. Here’s Childbirth Connection’s review of the evidence on labor induction.

Leapfrog says early elective deliveries cost the U.S. health-care system almost $1 billion a year.

Some 773 hospitals voluntarily provided the group with information on early elective deliveries. Rates varied widely, even within a single community — rates in Boston ranged from almost zero to 27%, Leapfrog says. (The group’s target rate this year is 5%, down from 12% last year.)

“Some of these data will be quite disturbing,” said Leah Binder, Leapfrog’s CEO, on a phone call with reporters. “The hospitals that reported have at least committed themselves to transparency.” Many hospitals declined to report data.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Penelope Cruz & Javier Bardem Welcome A Son!

It seems congratulations are in order for Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem!

Though there's been no official word from the couple, several sources are reporting that they've welcomed a son. The Vicky Cristina Barecelona star is said to have given birth early today at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.

The Oscar-winners - he garnered another nomination today for his work in Biutiful - met on the set of the 1992 film Jamon, Jamon but didn't start dating until 2007. They tied the knot in a small ceremony in the Bahamas last July.

Javier confirmed the pregnancy news in September, saying, "It is true. I am very happy."

Congratulations to the beautiful couple!


Babies R Us 25% Off Coupon

Get a 25% off coupon for Babies R Us or Toys R Us when you trade in a used baby item starting this Friday,  Jan. 28, through Monday, Feb. 21, 2011. The items you can trade in for the 25% off coupon include any used cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play yards, high chairs or toddler beds.

The 25% off coupon is valid on new cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play yards, high chairs or toddler beds from select brands. (See below for the list of participating brands). The idea is that it is unsafe to buy used items such as car seats and cribs.

Brands eligible for the trade-in coupon discount include Babi Italia, Baby Caché, Baby Europa, Baby Trend, Bassett Baby Premiere, Bergamo, Britax, Carter's, Chicco, Combi, Contours by Kolcraft, Delta, Eddie Bauer, Evenflo, Graco, Jeep, Little Tikes, Safety 1st, S1 by Safety 1st, Signature Series by Graco, Sorelle, Step2 and Summer Infant.

Caveats: It's unclear how long the 25% off coupon is valid for, and whether it is limited to one item or an entire purchase. The trade in event is happening at both Babies R Us or Toys R Us.


Obesity linked to prolonged pregnancy

Maternal obesity is associated with longer gestation and an increased rate of induction of labor according to new research published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The authors say maternal obesity is a worldwide epidemic and can increase the risk of cesarean section, postpartum hemorrhage, maternal hypertension and gestational diabetes as well as fetal death. In the UK, they say it is now estimated that one in five women at antenatal booking is obese.

The study took place at the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust and looked at 29,224 deliveries over four years.

Researchers looked at the risk of delivery complications following induction of labor in obese pregnant women with prolonged pregnancies. A prolonged pregnancy is defined as delivery on or after 41 weeks plus three days gestation, i.e. 10 days beyond the estimated date of delivery.

Prolonged pregnancy was seen in 30% of obese women compared to 22.3% of normal weight women.

A total of 8, 497 women (29.1%) had their labors induced. 34.4% of obese women had induction of labor in comparison to 26.2% of normal weight women.

 A greater number of obese women (28.4%) had an induction resulting in cesarean section, compared to those induced and of normal weight (18.9%).

However, the authors say it is important to note that over 70% of obese pregnant women with prolonged pregnancy delivered vaginally, and the rates of labor and neonatal complications were comparable to normal weight women.

Management of prolonged pregnancies in obese women is often difficult as induction of labor is associated with a high risk of cesarean section and the possible complications that follow including infection, hemorrhage and thrombosis.

The clinician managing an obese woman with a prolonged pregnancy therefore faces the dilemma of whether to induce the woman and risk cesarean delivery, book an elective cesarean section (thereby reducing the increased risks associated with emergency cesarean section), or wait for spontaneous labor (so reducing the risk of cesarean section but increasing the risk of fetal death even with outpatient monitoring).

The researchers suggest that induction of labor in obese women with prolonged pregnancy is a safe management option and a reasonable way of avoiding cesarean section.


This Week's Celebrity Baby Bumps

Eva Herzigova shows her wild side in leopard print, Ivanka Trump is business chic in gray, Jewel poses in pink with no bump visible, Kate Hudson is cute in a creme dress and matching coat, Pink is casual but coordinated in black and white, and Selma Blair bumps it up in khaki's.
Source Source SourceSource

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A brief history of modern motherhood

Super Mom ruled the '80s. She was to motherhood what the Virginia Slims chick was to cigarettes. She could do it all, be it all and have it all, all at the same time. She retired at the end of the decade, weary, exhausted, suffering from water retention and plantar fasciitis from spiked heels.

Soccer Mom ruled the '90s. She lived in the 'burbs, drove the kids to games in a minivan, had a lawn chair permanently stashed in the cargo hold, took snacks for the team, told her littlest one that the score didn't matter (everyone is a winner!).

Soccer Mom was run out of town by Helicopter Mom. Helicopter Mom means business; she flies an AH-64 Apache, constantly hovering. "Call me when you get there! Call me when you leave!" She keeps a close eye on academics, is in frequent touch with the teacher, the teacher's aide, the principal, the school board and the superintendent.

Helicopter Mom morphs into Lawnmower Mom when her children leave home. She is a Dixie Chopper, cutting a wide swath with zero turn, mowing down every obstacle in her, theoretically independent, child's way. Lawnmower Mom even intervenes in her grown child's professional world regarding salary negotiations and promotions.

Free-range Mom is about children developing self-reliance. Free-range moms let their kids ride bikes, walk to the mailbox, and camp in the backyard.

Mama Grizzly hails straight from the pages of "Little House on the Prairie" - self-sufficient, a good shot, and not the least bit hesitant to butcher her own meat.

And now comes Tiger Mom, a breed of mothering that has been given voice by Amy Chua, Yale law professor and married mother of two, in her memoir, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." Chua disdains the soft, indulgent Western approach to parenting and idealizes the strict Asian way. Chua screams, threatens, ridicules and bullies to get what she wants, for the sake of the children, of course.

There is yet another group of mothers, but they lack voice, branding and a catchy label. They are quiet and without a network because they are busy being moms. They are the ones who believe motherhood is still best ordered by common sense, age-appropriate boundaries, reasonable expectations, and love.

Do you consider yourself to be a certain type of mother?


Some child hearing loss tied to virus in pregnancy

Hearing loss in a child may have links to a virus that mom got while she was pregnant, according to a new study.

In kids that had some degree of hearing loss, about 9 per cent also had cytomegalovirus (CMV) at birth, says a new study in the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

"(CMV) needs to be on the list of things we think about when we see a child with hearing loss," said Dr. Stephanie Misono, an ear, nose and throat fellow at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and lead author on the study.

CMV is a common virus that normally causes a harmless infection, although people with weakened immune systems can get sick from it. Infections can be avoided by washing your hands regularly especially after dealing with sick people and toddlers, who sometimes carry it, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

For women who are already infected when they become pregnant, the chances of passing it along to their children are quite small. It's women who pick it up while pregnant who have a higher chance, according to the study, but it's still quite unlikely that their babies will develop CMV-related hearing loss.

Up to one in 1,000 children have some kind of serious hearing loss, meaning that they can't hear ordinary conversation, according to the American Speech Language Hearing Association. About half of these cases are hereditary.

For parents that have no hearing loss, this helps to at least find out why this might have happened in their child, Misono said. However, there is no effective treatment or vaccine, and the study was not designed to determine whether CMV actually causes hearing loss.

Past studies showed a link between hearing loss and CMV, but there haven't been any that looked at kids with hearing loss and tried to determine if it came from a CMV infection.

Up to one in 25 women will get CMV while they're pregnant, which is when it's risky for the baby. It's been linked to several developmental issues in children, including mental retardation and cerebral palsy. Hearing loss is the most common problem.

If a woman gets CMV while she's pregnant, she has about a 33 per cent chance of passing it along to her baby, according to the CDC.

But about half of women have already had it by the time they get pregnant. There's less than a one per cent chance of passing it along to your unborn baby if this is the case, said Karen Fowler, who studies childhood infections at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and who did not work on this study.

This study looked at 354 kids 4 years and older who were tested for CMV at birth. All of these children had hearing loss, and 34 of them had CMV they had gotten from their mothers.

The degree of hearing loss varied from partial impairment in one ear to total deafness, but kids that had CMV at birth had more severe hearing loss than their CMV-negative peers. Also, a higher percentage of those with CMV had hearing loss in only one ear. Misono said it's unclear why this is.

Researchers don't know why being exposed to CMV in utero might cause hearing problems in kids later, but the virus could be doing some kind of damage, said Fowler. Babies who get CMV after they're born have no increased risk of hearing loss.


Quick Coping with Preterm Birth Leads to Better Bonding

Giving birth to a premature infant can bring on grief for a new mom similar to having a child with a chronic illness, according to researchers, but the faster a mother can overcome that grief, the better the chances of forging secure attachment between baby and mother.

According to Prachi E. Shah, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan C. S. Mott Children's Hospital, “Mothers with resolved grief following a preterm birth are three times as likely to have securely attached infants, compared with mothers with unresolved grief.”

Successfully getting over grief may require the mother to redirect her expectations and hopes for her child during uncertain circumstances, and mourn the “hoped-for child” as she still embraces the child she has, she said.

Shah is co-author of a a new study by the University of Michigan Health System and the University of Wisconsin that explored mothers’ feelings about premature infants. It suggests the mother’s ability to adapt after a preterm birth influences her baby’s future social-emotional development, and that maternal resolution of grief may be a subject pediatricians should explore during neonatal follow-up visits.

For the study, researchers observed 74 premature babies (born at 36 weeks or less) and their mothers, who were also part of a larger study of high-risk infants led by Julie Poehlmann, Ph.D., professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin.

The researchers wanted to determine whether a mother’s unresolved grief might affect the baby.  To do this, they factored in the following aspects: an evaluation of neonatal and socioeconomic risks when the baby was discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit; an analysis of maternal depression and verbal abilities, an interview that focused on the mother’s reaction to her preterm birth, parenting quality at 9 months; and mother-baby attachment at 16 months.

“When a baby is born prematurely, the developmental prognosis is often not known for many years – it evolves over time,” Shah said. “How the parent adapts to the birth of a preterm infant has implications for the infant’s attachment security, which can influence social-emotional development over time.”

Shah said grief resolution was not predicted by maternal age, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, depression, verbal ability, the child’s gender or race, whether it was a multiple birth, or length of hospitalization.

“Whether the infant was born very preterm versus slightly preterm, or whether the infant had many medical complications or was relatively healthy did not predict which mothers resolved their grief,” Shah says.

“Because mothers of healthy preterms were just as likely to have unresolved feelings of grief after preterm birth as mothers of sicker preterms, it suggests that the experience of trauma and grief following a preterm birth is very individual, and difficult to predict,” Shah said.

“The good news is that for mothers who are able to resolve their feelings of grief following a preterm birth, those infants are three times more likely to develop a secure attachment.  In addition, mothers who demonstrated more positive interactions with their infants were also more likely to have securely attached infants.”

The study appears in the January 17 online edition of the journal Pediatrics.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Survivors of childhood cancer 'should breastfeed'

Women who have survived cancer during childhood should breastfeed if they are able to, according to a new US study.

Researchers found that breastfeeding could help reduce the impact of lasting effects caused by cancer treatment.

Susan Ogg and colleagues from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, said women should be made aware of the benefits breastfeeding could have post-cancer.

They should also be told about healthy living recommendations, the researchers said.

Breastfeeding was found to have a positive influence on bone mineral density, metabolic syndrome risk factors, cardiovascular disease and secondary tumors.

"Women who have survived childhood cancer and are physically able to breastfeed, should be actively encouraged to do so to help protect them against the many lasting effects of cancer treatment," said Dr Ogg.

According to Cancer Research UK, childhood cancer is fairly rare - accounting for around 0.5 per cent of all types of the illness.

In the UK, around 1,500 youngsters aged under 15 are diagnosed with cancer every year.


Parking perks for pregnant women proposed in NYC

Pregnancy may soon have its privileges.
A City Councilman has a proposal that might turn the swollen feet, achy back and raging indigestion of a difficult pregnancy into a pretty sweet perk: free parking.
"New York is a tough place to get around," said Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn). "If you have a difficult pregnancy, it's even tougher. This should make it a little bit easier."
The councilman plans to introduce legislation next week that would grant special parking placards to pregnant women whose doctors say they have physical or mobility challenges.
The women could then park for free in no-parking or no-standing zones until 30 days after their expected due dates - a cushion of time for those whose deliveries come later than expected - or who need to recover from childbirth complications.
"If I'm on a train and a pregnant woman walks in, I stand up and offer her my seat," Greenfield said. "I consider this legislation to be the same thing - standing up on the City Council for women who have difficult pregnancies."
He decided to introduce the bill after watching his wife struggle through two tough pregnancies. It's similar to laws on the books in at least two states - Georgia and Oklahoma - according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Some women cheered the news as a welcome salve for the lumbering woes of late pregnancy. "Being eight or nine months pregnant is hard anyway, so this is a good benefit," said 29-year-old expectant mom Asma Lat of the upper West Side.
But critics warn that the bill could further entangle the city's mess of parking laws - or even contribute to discrimination against expectant mothers. "Parking privileges for women experiencing difficult pregnancies is a thoughtful idea," said Sonia Ossorio of the National Organization for Women in New York City. "But I don't want to see a short-term privilege like easy parking ... create an environment that further stigmatizes pregnancy."
Workplace discrimination against pregnant women is on the rise already, Ossorio said, and if women say they need special parking spots, it could feed the perception that they're weak. "A lot of bosses just don't think you'll be as dedicated, that you're as nimble or fast, mentally or physically," Ossorio said. "You see women's career paths completely take a wrong turn as a result of getting pregnant and becoming mothers."
Paul Steely White of the transit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives said the city already has too many special parking permits - and too many people abusing the system with fake placards and scams. "This would create another group entitled to park on curbs where there is no room already," White said. "Until we have effective enforcement, additional carveouts are only going to create more problems."
The bill would not grant pregnant women the right to park in handicapped spaces in parking lots or give them the right that people with permanent disabilities have to park all day without feeding the meter. "Pregnancy is not a disability," Greenfield said. "It's a temporary condition ... This is the city providing a common courtesy."

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How to Photograph Babies and Infants

Nothing makes a parent prouder than sharing pictures of their new child. If you have a little one in the house, get your camera ready and start sharing those cute baby pictures today. Here are some ideas to help you take better shots of your baby.
Stay Ready
You can never know when your baby will do something entertaining or do something for the first time. For that reason, you always need to have your camera nearby and ready to go. That means making sure you have plenty of film if you use a film camera and making sure your have enough room on your memory stick or card if you use digital. You will also want to make sure that you have enough battery life in your camera at all times. You can even put a disposable camera in the car or diaper bag for times that are just too cute to pass up.
Get Candid Shots
Some of the sweetest pictures of babies are candid shots. You can take memorable pictures of your baby taking a bottle, sleeping and smiling. Candid shots look much more relaxed and natural than posed shots and you will only feel frustrated trying to be posed shots anyway. Take pictures of every part of your baby, such as those fat little fingers or those tiny toes. Those are always sweet reminders of this young age. If you have a good zoom lens, you can often take great candid shots of your baby from a distance. These are great because your baby will never even know you are there.
Take Pictures in Black and White
You can get many adorable pictures of your baby taken in black and white or in sepia tones. Most digital cameras come with black and white and sepia settings, so take advantage. In addition, when you take black and white, you don't have to worry about what your baby is wearing, because everything looks good. 
Take Many Shots
You should take many shots of your baby doing the same thing. You may take twenty-five shots of your baby crawling for the first time, but only get two or three that are worth using. The more pictures you take, the more you have to choose from.
Do Something with Those Pictures
The last tip is to make sure you actually do something with your pictures after you take them. So many people leave undeveloped rolls of film sitting around for months or never print their digital pictures. Babies grow and change too fast. You should make it a point to print and share your pictures every week. In addition, if you use digital pictures, you should always make sure you back up your pictures onto a disk on a regular basis. You certainly do not want to lose these irreplaceable photos.