Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News


Celine Dion Shows Off Twins at Caesar's Palace [Celebrity Baby Scoop]

Rod Stewart Welcomes Son Aiden [People]

Delivering my son: 'Breath, baby, breath' [MSNBC]

FDA Warns Against Use of Asthma Drug to Prevent Preterm Labor [PR Newswire]

Cribs, Presumed Safe, Injure 26 Children Every Day [Time]

Girl with 12 Fingers, 14 Toes May Set New World Record [Jezebel]

How to Make Friends With Fellow Moms [ParentDish]

Babies Can Count at Just 18 Months Old [Daily Mail]

Researchers Link Dental Care to Preterm Birth

The link between dental health and preterm birth is not new, but a recent study revealed startling results that indicate the real importance of keeping teeth and gums healthy throughout pregnancy.

A team of researchers looked at a group of 200 women in the early stages of pregnancy who also had periodontal disease (an infection of the tissues that support the teeth). They separated the women into two groups; the first continued with their regular dental cleaning routine and the other was given an antimicrobial, alcohol-free mouthwash containing cetyl pyridinium chloride. None of the women had formal dental care during their pregnancies.

The researchers were shocked to discover that the group of women who rinsed with the mouthwash twice a day were two-thirds less likely to give birth prematurely as the group that did not use the mouthwash. They reported that 21.9 percent of the women in the group who went about their regular routine gave birth prematurely and only 6.1 percent of the women using the mouthwash. In addition, the babies from the mouthwash group were born later and with significantly higher birth weights.

"These results were so dramatic," said Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, leader of the research team. "There is a public health responsibility, in fact, to know what we found, to repeat it, to find out who should get it."

The study further underlines the importance of proper dental care during pregnancy. Hopefully, the findings will lead to an inexpensive way to reduce the number of preterm births globally. Currently, about 13 million babies a year are born prematurely.

Learn more about dental care during pregnancy here.

Have you been paying attention to your oral health during your pregnancy?

Mouthwash may help prevent preterm birth [CTV News]

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jessica Alba Expecting Second Child

Actress Jessica Alba announced on Facebook yesterday that she and her husband, Cash Warren, are expecting their second child! The 29-year-old actress and her producer husband (32) are already parents to 2-year-old daughter, Honor. She said on her Facebook wall:

"I thought I'd drop by to let you all in on some exciting news - Honor is going to be a Big Sister! Cash and I are thrilled and wanted to share the news directly with you so you didn't hear about it somewhere else. I appreciated all of the love and support you all gave me during my first pregnancy and will definitely appreciate it again this time around."

Jessica and Cash met on the set of The Fantastic Four, and were engaged three years later, after an unexpected pregnancy.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Delighted Jessica Alba reveals she’s expecting her second child [Daily Mail]

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mending Little Hearts

Affecting 8 out of every 1,000 newborns, or approximately 36,000 babies each year, congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect. In honor of Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Day, Jodi Lemacks, National Program Director for Mended Little Hearts, granted an interview with Cord Blood Registry, a United States accredited cord blood bank. These two companies have met at a crossroads in the advancement of treatment for congenital heart defects now that stem cells are widely considered the future in repairing heart cells.

According to Lemacks, “Fortunately, there’s a lot of promising research on the horizon, and there may be more that we don’t know about yet. In my opinion, a major breakthrough is as likely to come through stem cell research as it is anywhere else.“

Read Cord Blood Registry’s interview with Jodi Lemack

Do you have any experiences with congenital heart defects?

Mended Little Hearts [mendedlittlehearts.org]

Can Stem Cells Repair a Damaged Heart? [Stem Cell Information]

What are Congenital Heart Defects? [National Heart and Lung Institute]

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy Links


A Brief History of the Bump Watch [Jezebel]

Oregon man saves baby tossed from building [CNN]

Toledo Toddler is the New Face of Gerber [WTOL]

Considering Evolution and C-Sections [Hartford Courant]

Big recall of baby monitors after 2 deaths [Associated Press]

Greater Caution Urged for X-Ray in Pregnancy, Infants [US News]

Report Details Sabotage of Birth Control [NYTimes]

Grandma Gives Birth to her Grandchild [Time]

Christina Applegate Dishes on New Baby [People]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Laughing Gas Makes a Comeback for Use during Labor


There was a time, decades ago, when laughing gas was the most commonly used pain relief during labor. Today, only two hospitals in the United States continue to offer it, one in San Francisco and another in San Diego. However, recently more hospitals are calling for its use and equipment used for its dispersal is being put back on the market. Why the sudden resurgence?

Outside the United States, countries such as Canada and Great Britain still rely on nitrous oxide for pain relief during labor. Judith Bishop, a leader in bringing back the once popular gas, says that laughing gas was abandoned in the US for the high-tech epidural and other advanced forms of pain relief.

There are many benefits for women and health professionals to use laughing gas rather than an epidural during labor. Both the epidural and laughing gas are covered by insurance, but laughing gas is not as expensive as the epidural. Nitrous oxide can be used late in labor, unlike the epidural. It’s also easy to self-administer and takes effect fairly quickly (about 50 seconds after the first breath). Advocates say that it “takes the edge off,” rather than completely blocking the sensation of pain and once the gas mask is removed, the effects quickly wear off. Since the drug is eliminated from the body through the lungs, it does not build up in the body like pain relief medications that are processed through the liver. Another upside is that many of the co-interventions such as frequent blood pressure monitoring and electronic fetal monitoring that can inhibit the laboring mother’s movement, are not needed with nitrous oxide. However, there are side effects such as nausea and feelings of disorientation and confusion.

Nurses and advocates of nitrous oxide say it’s a good option for mothers who don’t want the strength of the epidural, are undecided or just need something to get through some of the more difficult periods during their labor.

Some hospitals are purchasing used equipment to start using nitrous oxide right away and newly manufactured equipment will become available in April, 2011. Laboring mothers may see the drug available as early as this summer.

The Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is currently reviewing its use compared to other common methods of pain relief. More research is needed on the drug’s possible effects on the baby.

Would you use laughing gas?

Laughing gas returning as option for laboring moms [AP]
Nitrous Oxide for Pain Relief in Labour [Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond]
Nitrous Oxide for Pain in Labor – Why Not in the United States? [Birth]

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saving Money with More Kids

If you're expecting your first child, the first year of your baby's life will probably cost around $11,000. If you're expecting your second child, it will cost roughly the same. But if you're having your third or fourth child, the annual cost is much less, according to author Laura Vanderkam.

Before having her third child and while writing a book about budgeting, Laura decided to parse the data to find out if the costs would be less or the same for her third child as they were for her first and second. She told the New York Times: “With any big project, there are startup costs.” After reviewing nationwide data, she found that the cost of a third or fourth grown child per year is about $2,880. College costs were not part of the equation.

“I think two things happen,” she explained. “One is that some costs get amortized over additional children (cribs, clothes, and food gets bought in bulk). Second, you change your expectations. You might bring two kids to Europe. You’d bring 4 kids to your nearest state or national park.“

For many parents, there are so many things we thought we needed the first time around that later proved to be unnecessary. Certainly, reusing equipment and clothing comes into play, as well as a changed attitude towards parenting overall. Plus, as kids grow up, they are able to help cut costs in other ways, like helping out with babysitting.

Do you have more than one child? Have you found that you’re paying less for the second or third child than you did for your first?

The Marginal Cost of Children [NYTimes]

Landmark Study: Prenatal Surgery Helpful for Spina Bifida

Thanks to increased doses of folic acid among pregnant women, the incidences of the birth defect known as spina bifida are down 30 percent. However, 1,500 babies are still born with the neural tube defect every year, caused when a hole in the neck allows a loop of the naked spinal cord to stick outside the body, causing paralysis and brain damage if not treated immediately. In a landmark study, doctors have discovered that surgery to correct the defect before birth can lead to a significantly improved quality of life.

The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine last week. According to researchers, out of 183 surgeries performed before the 25th weeks of pregnancy, 42 percent of those children were walking unaided by age three, compared with 21 percent of children who received surgery directly after birth.

Doctors are particularly pleased about one unique outcome of the surgery: eliminating the need for a shunt to release built-up fluid throughout the child’s life. A shunt needs to be surgically replaced several times over the course of a lifetime. Only 40 percent of the children who received prenatal surgery needed a shunt, compared with 80 percent of children in the postpartum surgery group.

Although the surgery was highly beneficial in terms of quality of life for the children involved, risks did present themselves. Four out of five of the babies operated on were born before 34 weeks, which caused some to experience respiratory distress syndrome. In addition, the surgery involves cutting into the uterus, which could lead to uterine rupture and requires that all the women undergoing the procedure deliver by C-section.

Doctors emphasize that the prenatal surgery is not a cure, but can help children lead an easier life. The best way to prevent spina bifida is to take 400 mg of folic acid a day during the earliest weeks of fetal development.

Have you had any experiences with spina bifida?

A Birth-Defect Breakthrough: Prenatal Spinal Surgery [NPR]