Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News



A Very Sweet Video-Chronicle of One Woman's Pregnancy [YouTube]

Gift-Giving Tips for Multiples [Ohdeedoh]

Pregnant Women Diagnosed with Diabetes Aren't Getting Follow-up Testing [kens5]

FYI: Breast Pumps Now Tax Deductible [The Washington Post]

Ultrasound? There's an App for That [LilSugar]

Pregnant Women Use Less Medication When Controlling Epidural [Time]

Postpartum Depression: What Partners Should do or Say [Postpartum Progress]

Tonya Harding is Expecting [ABC News]

A Decade of Stem Cell Treatments Prove Safety

Stem cell transplants may be new to many people, but their use has been developed over several decades. Information and news regarding stem cell transplants tends to focus on the experimental nature of them and questions their safety and effectiveness. These questions are common among parents who are considering banking their child's cord blood as well.

A new study in The New England Journal of Medicine dispels some of the misconceptions regarding stem cell transplants, namely their safety. Comparing the results of more than 2500 patients who received transplants between 1993 and 1997 against those who received transplants between 2003 and 2007, researchers concluded that the outcomes have improved significantly, with reductions in severe acute graft versus host diseases (GVHD) and other complications. The results are believed to be attributed to the use of peripheral blood (such as cord blood) over bone marrow, better drugs for GVHD and less toxic conditioning regimens.

In the same issue of the Journal is an editorial that highlights the progress of stem cell treatments for hematologic cancers over the last 40 years. It reports that “research on transplantation with the use of umbilical cord blood or cellular therapy without long-term engraftment is underway in attempts to improve overall outcomes.”

It seems that stems cells from cord blood are continuing to exceed expectations and prove to be safe and effective treatment for a variety of conditions.

Reduced Mortality after Allogeneic Hematopoietic-Cell Transplantation [The New England Journal of Medicine]

Study Touts Transplantation Advances of Past Decade [The Stem Cell Source]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Common Bug Killer Linked to Learning Disabilities

Most Americans have never heard of permethrin, even though the chemical is used in households regularly. In fact, ants, fleas, and other pests in the home are almost always killed using this chemical. In a recent study featured in the journal Pediatrics, the pregnant women taking part in the study were mostly using it to kill roaches. Now, researchers are advising pregnant women to avoid it altogether.

The study, led by Megan Horst of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, looked at pesticide exposure in 348 pregnant women by attaching an air monitor to their backs. The women and their children’s exposure were monitored over the course of three years. Children exposed to permethrin the most were three times more likely to experience mental delays and scored an average of four points lower on IQ tests. To put that number in perspective, Philip Landrigan, pediatrics professor and environmental health expert at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine says, “That’s about the same intelligence loss caused by lead.”

Landrigan also explained the probability of the study’s results: pyrethroid pesticides kill bugs by "being toxic to the developing brain.” The results are "very believable and should be taken seriously."

Follow-up studies are needed to confirm the results but researchers are still advising pregnant women to avoid exposure to household chemical-based pest killers as well as bug spray.

Do you use chemicals to kill pests in your home? 

Exposure to pesticides in womb linked to learning disabilities [USA Today]

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy Links



Meet Alanis Morissette’s Newborn Son [People]

Starting Solids Earlier Than 4 Months Linked to Obesity in Formula Fed Babies [Reuters]

Older Moms Appear to Have Larger Babies [Reuters]

Cynthia Nixon and Partner Welcome a Son [Reuters]

Most Newborns Not Screened for Most Common Birth Defect [PR Newswire]

Cribs, Crib Bumpers and Other Sleep Products Under Increased Scrutiny by Watchdog Groups [NYTimes]

A Boston Mom Gave Birth to a 13lb 2oz. Baby [WHDH]

Book Review: Food for Thoughtful Parenting

With experience comes wisdom and in hindsight, there are many things we wish we had tried as parents. The parenting book market is always growing, but what parent has time to read a few hundred pages as they chase a toddler around?

Nina Coslov and Tara Keppler decided to buck the parenting book trend by documenting their parenting wisdom in easy-to-read lists. The result is a book that is filled with interesting, helpful information that can be read in very little time and easily referenced.

These “12 must-have lists for new parents & young families,” provide a wealth of ideas for new and experienced parents. Two great tips they have for new mothers: “embrace a new rhythm” and “find your own way.” “Toys That Aren’t” provides a list of common household items that kids inevitably love to play with. “Out and About Adventures” transforms everyday experiences into adventures for little ones and gets parents out of the house; one “adventure” cited is a ride on public transportation.

In addition to all these wonderful tips that fit even the toughest situations, there are great ideas for games to play with kids. The authors provide energetic and laid back games to cover different moods and temperaments.

Food for Thoughtful Parenting is straight to the point and filled with helpful tips even the most experienced parent will be thrilled to learn. 

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Solicitors in the Maternity Ward

If you're in your home and a solicitor calls, you can put your number on the Do Not Call Registry. If you've just given birth and you don't want solicitors to bother you at the hospital. unfortunately, there's not much you can do. Disney is just the latest corporation that has signed on to solicit to parents of newborns in maternity wards across the United States.

Five hundred and eighty maternity wards in the US are now open for the company to market their new baby collection by giving a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit to new parents. A representative comes to the new mom’s bedside to extol on the latest bells and whistles of their product with a full demonstration. In May, the full gambit of Disney baby products will go on sale at Amazon.com, Target, and Nordstrom.

The move is not without controversy, especially after Disney was forced to admit that their line of Baby Einstein videos did not deliver smarter babies. Opponents of the practice are seeing this move as just one more way to create “lifelong customers” and many are disturbed by the lack of privacy provided by hospitals in maternity wards.

The company that is facilitating Disney’s entrance into maternity wards is called Our365, which sells bedside baby pictures to new parents. Fisher Price and Proctor and Gamble are also paying Our365 for access to maternity wards to market their products.

Were you marketed to in the maternity ward? Would you be open to solicitors marketing to you in the maternity ward?

Disney Looks to the Cradle to Expand Business [NYTImes]

Monday, February 07, 2011

Tax Tips for Parents

Brace yourself, tax season is getting started. New and expectant parents are surely wondering how their taxes will change now that they have a little one on board. With all the money we spend on our kids, it's a relief that the IRS gives us a few breaks. Here are some tax breaks that every parent should know about:
  • Adding a dependent to your tax return will only offer you a tax credit if you are below a certain income level (it’s about $55,000 a year if filing separately and $110,000 a year if filing jointly). If you have three or more dependents, then the credit will be higher. 
  •  If your employer offers a flexible spending plan (allowing you to set aside tax-free dollars) then you can allocate some of that income to childcare. Even if you don’t, though, all parents with children under the age of 13 may also receive a tax credit for their childcare expenses. 
  • Donate your child’s old clothes, toys and furniture and make sure you get a receipt. Donating these items to a charity like the Goodwill will allow you to make more deductions to your tax return. Use the Goodwill website to estimate the fair market value of your donations.
  • If you are self-employed, then you can deduct the costs of your health insurance, including coverage of any dependents under the age of 27. 
Single Parents
  •  Filing as “Head of the Household” will garner you additional savings if you have been unmarried as of the last day of the tax year and take care of your children at least 50% of the time. Be aware, though, that only one parent can file their taxes with a child listed as the dependent.

Have you found any other ways to save money on taxes as a parent?

Tax Tips for Parents [EHow]
Tax Breaks for Single Parents [About.com]
Ten Tax Tips for Parents [ABC12 News}
Claiming the Child Tax Credit [About.com]

A Race for Newborns

On February 25th, teams of runners will take part in a 202-mile relay race across the state of Arizona in the Ragnar del Sol relay race. Twenty-four of these runners will be raising money for the Newborn Possibilities Program, created to help advance clinical trials investigating the efficacy of using umbilical cord stem cells as medical treatment.

The Newborn Possibilities Fund provides money to non-profit organizations to financially assist families traveling for experimental stem cell treatments. Research suggests that stem cells derived from cord blood can be used to repair nerve and brain tissue and two clinical trials are underway in the United States to determine whether the cells can be used to treat cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injuries.

The twenty-four runners raising money for the Newborn Possibilities Program are all employees of Cord Blood Registry, the only cord blood bank being utilized in these experimental trials. Employee participation in the race has doubled from last year, when twelve runners were able to raise over $10,000 for the cause.

Donate to the fundraising effort and learn more about the Newborn Possibilities Program by visiting newbornpossiblities.com.

Keep up with the runners on CBR’s Facebook page.

A Journey of Two Hundred and Two Miles Begins With One Cause [The Stem Cell Source]