Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Mom with a baby in one hand catches foul ball with the other [Daily Mail]

Marion Cotillard Gives Birth to a Son [People]

Christy Turlington Burns: Why I chose 'the middle way' when having my kids [Today]

Botox Mom Confesses To Hoax [Jezebel]

11 T-Shirts to Boast Your Breastfeeding Status [Babble]

Dietary Supplement Cuts Risk of Preeclampsia [medpage Today]

Home births up, driven by natural birth subculture [newsnet5]

Single Parenting Advice [Parenting]

GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies [Daily Mail]

Breastfeeding Prep: Top 10 Essential Accessories [Babble]

Correct Acetaminophen Dose Depends on Kids' Weight [WebMD]

Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Labor Induction [HealthNews]

Common Baby Products Expose Babies to Carcinogens

Highchairs, car seats, and nursing pillows are just a few of the baby products commonly made with polyurethane foam. According to new research, this foam contains carcinogenic flame retardants similar to the ones that were banned in children's clothing over 30 years ago. While flame retardants are helpful in the case of a fire in the home, the health effects since their introduction are largely unstudied and they are widely believed to cause cancer, infertility and neurological disorders.

Over a third of the 101 products tested contained chlorinated Tris (TDCP), a flame retardant that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has previously stated “is considered a probable human carcinogen, based on sufficient evidence in animal studies.” Although the research did not determine whether children absorbed chemicals such as TDCP, the report published in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology suggests that the level of exposure is higher than government recommendations. In addition, 79 of the products tested contained at least one type of brominated or chlorinated flame retardant, types that are most recently linked to health problems. Most of the products tested had enough flame retardants to constitute 3-5% of the products total weight. Fourteen of the products were found to contain TCEP, a chemical which has been labeled a cancer-causing agent by the state of California. Overall, flame retardants were commonly found in car seats, changing table pads, sleep positioners, portable mattresses, baby carriers, rocking chairs, high chairs, infant bathing mats/slings, nursing pillows and baby walkers.

Despite the dismal findings, these products still might not be posing a large health threat to children and more study is needed to determine how much is being absorbed. Gordon L. Nelson, a chemistry professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, says that the plastic covers on many of the products keep the chemicals in the foam from seeping out. He also points out that flame retardants have significantly decreased the numbers of deaths from fire.

California led the way in the use of flame retardants with the 1975 California standard, which requires that all polyurethane foam in upholstered furniture be unable to catch fire for at least 12 seconds when exposed to an open flame. Rather than manufacture products with varying levels of flame retardants, most companies simply comply with the California law across the board. Even though California exempted nursing pillows, baby carriers, and strollers from the California standard last year, flame retardants were discovered in nursing pillows and baby carriers during this study. The exemptions of children’s products from the flame resistance standards are helpful, but companies aren’t exactly clamoring to change their manufacturing processes.
The problem with flame retardants is that they are easily absorbed through the skin and tend to form a toxic dust in the home that is easily inhaled. High concentrations of flame retardants in the body have been linked with infertility, cancer and problems with neurological development. The CPSC has been working on the problem of flame retardants in upholstered furniture for 16 years. In the meantime, if companies could divulge which products contain flame retardants, it would allow parents to avoid exposing their children to possible carcinogens until legislation is passed.

Would you be more inclined to purchase products labeled “Flame retardant free?”

Chemical Suspected in Cancer Is in Baby Products [NYTimes]
Identification of Flame Retardants in Polyurethane Foam Collected from Baby Products [Environmental Science & Technology]
CPSC Staff Preliminary Risk Assessment of Flame Retardant (FR) Chemicals in Upholstered Furniture Foam [CPSC]
Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants: The San Antonio Statement [Environmental Health Perspectives]

Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Time Mom's Guide to Controversial Issues

As a first time mom, you may or may not be aware of the proverbial minefield that some parenting topics can be. It sounds dramatic, but getting caught in a verbal or online fight with another parent is something that can leave you feeling poorly for a long time afterwards. Even though you might need some tips or advice for your first go at parenthood, at the end of the day, the choice of what you consume during pregnancy, how you give birth and how you take care of your child is yours and your partner's. When talking to other parents about your choices, be aware that you might run into these potential arguments:

Vaccines – You can’t really mention vaccines around any parent without evoking a visceral reaction. The majority of parents feel that vaccination is an important part of a healthy community. Nevertheless, there is still a large faction of parents that are wary about giving their child so many shots or simply believe that vaccines aren’t worth the potential health risks. Whether you choose to vaccinate as advised bypediatricians, delay vaccinations or skip them altogether, talking to other parents about your choice could lead you to a very long argument (see Jenny McCarthy vs. Amanda Peet).

Giving birth with or without drugs – There are many reasons why mothers have strong feelings about the way women give birth. Many feel that having an all-natural birth is a challenge worth facing and oppose exposing their baby to any kind of drugs. For mothers who don’t go all-natural, the subject can be a sore one, especially if they were unable to have the birth that they envisioned. The important part of the equation is a healthy baby and a healthy mother. Each birth comes with a unique set of circumstances; C-sections, epidurals, inductions and other assists for giving birth are simply a means to the best outcome for the situation.

Breast milk vs. formula – For moms who are unable or decide not to breastfeed, the constant barrage of studies and people who exclaim “breast is best” can be nothing short of hurtful. On the other hand, breastfeeding moms also receive some negative feedback from older relatives who might not support breastfeeding or nursing in public. In the end, the right choice is the one that fits mom and baby best.

Circumcision – Many parents decide to circumcise their newborn boys and an increasing number choose not to. Parents do it for reasons of religion, health, and aesthetics. Many parents feel that it’s an unnecessary procedure. Whichever choice you make, leaving the state of your son’s genitalia out of conversation is probably a good idea.

SAHM vs. working moms – This debate is probably the most unfair of all because many mothers would like to stay home but are unable to. For some families, staying home is the practical and affordable thing to do. For other families, working is necessary and sometimes even preferred. Despite popular misconceptions, not all mothers want to stay home and mothers who do stay home still work hard. The most important thing is that children are receiving love and support from their parents and caregivers.

Many other parenting topics can draw ire too, such as pacifiers, co-sleeping and baby names. If you do decide to discuss these issues with other parents, try to keep an open mind and be aware that many people might vehemently disagree with your choices and oftentimes those people aren’t even parents themselves. In debates such as these, there is no black and white answer and the choices you make for your family might not be the right choices for another.

Have you run into any heated debates about your parenting choices?  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Face Development in the Womb [YouTube]

Pregnant women warned not to 'eat for two'[The Telegraph]

Scientists bid to cure babies’ blindness using cord blood [Belfast Telegraph]

10 Alternative Ways to Get Pregnant [Sonography Technician]

What happens when you let your children have it all their own way? [Daily Mail]

Newer Epilepsy Meds Less Likely to Cause Birth Defects [USNews]

7 Tips to Help Parents Sleep Through the Night [Babble]

Husband: What to expect when she's not expecting [CNN]

Antibiotic Use May Be Linked to Kids' Asthma Risk [WebMD]

Carla Bruni Is Pregnant, Says Father-in-Law [People]

How Do You Choose Your Baby’s Birth Day? [Babble]

The Facebook Like Inspires Baby Name [Mashable]

Joey McIntyre Expecting a Baby Girl! [Wonderwall]

Mojo: Jobs for Single Moms

Mojo, which stands for Moms and Jobs, is a revolutionary company hoping to solve a social issue. Darr and Tim Alley are the twin brothers who started Mojo, with the help of their sister Cara. Their clothing company specifically hires single moms, pays them over $10 an hour and provides free child care and health benefits. Employees begin at the bottom rung and are provided with career training to help them move up the ranks.

The company is already doing well and hopefully their business model will take off among other entrepreneurs. They’ve recently sold blankets to Dave Matthews Band, fleece jackets to companies such as Morgan Stanley and logo wear to colleges. They currently only have 23 employees but are hoping to expand to other cities and increase their workforce to 160 people. Oakland, Detroit and New Orleans are on the list of cities they hope to expand to.

You can buy Mojo items off their website. They sell basics like hats, mittens, blankets, and some nice jewelry as well. The proceeds directly benefit the single moms who work for the company by helping to provide free child care and providing them with a good wage. While the company is able to provide benefits for their workers, the price of their apparel is still affordable, for example, the Mojo jacket is only $35.99 and the Infinity scarf is only $15. The company is also currently selling necklaces, the proceeds from which are donated to displaced women and girls in Haiti and ovarian cancer research.

Are you a single mom looking for a job?

Helping single moms get their "MoJo" back [CBS News]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Office's Jenna Fischer is Pregnant!

Jenna Fischer (37) and her husband Lee Kirk (39) are expecting their first child together, a rep confirms. The couple began dating in January 2008 and tied the knot last July. The pregnancy comes after Jenna's character on The Office, Pam, had a baby on the show. Jenna had just become an aunt when her character was on maternity leave. She recently told Redbook of the experience:

"I already wanted kids, but even more so now. When Cecelia was 3 weeks old, Pam was on maternity leave, so I had a whole week off to spend with her. I took charge of the night feedings. It was so awesome: Every night at 9:30, I'd say, 'You guys go to sleep now.' I wanted CeCe all to myself. We really bonded."

It looks like Jenna got her wish! Congratulations to the happy couple!

Jenna Fischer: Totally Candid and Too Cute [Redbook]
Jenna Fischer Is Pregnant! [People]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Marital Conflict Leads to Sleep Issues in Toddlers

It's an ongoing debate among parents of whether it is better for parents to raise kids together, even if they are unhappy, rather than live separately but presumably happier. New research seems to point to the latter side of this argument. In a study of over 350 adopted infants, those with parents who were unhappy in their relationship were more likely to have sleep problems.

Researchers at Oregon State University in collaboration with seven other universities in the US discovered that nine month old babies whose parents experienced marital problems were more likely to experience sleep problems at 18 months of age, past the stage when most infants learn to sleep through the night. The sleep issues included trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Scientists used adopted children for the study to eliminate the possibility of genetic tendencies. They also looked to see if the sleep problems were the reason for marital conflict but did not find it to be true. Marital instability was gauged with survey questions including, “Has the thought of separating or getting a divorce crossed your mind?”

Research had previously found that children lacking sleep often experience low grades, inattention and behavioral problems. Anne Manning, a faculty member at OSU said of the findings, “Parents should be aware that stress in the marriage can potentially impact their child even at a very young age.” 
Do you have any children who experience sleep difficulties?

Marriage problems related to infants’ sleep difficulties [OSU]

Love Hormone Linked to Postpartum Depression

Oxytocin is making headlines again, as low levels of the substance commonly referred to as the "love hormone" have been linked to postpartum depression in mothers. Research has made the connection between oxytocin and depression before, so this new study just reinforces the idea and finally applies it to PPD.

Oxytocin is a hormone present in all human beings but it is more prevalent in women and plays a particularly important role in mothers. When women talk to each other, they frequently experience feelings of well-being attributed to oxytocin. Common triggers for the brain’s release of the hormone include orgasm, skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding. There is a large surge of the feel-good chemical when women are ready to give birth and it causes the onset of labor contractions (Pitocin is the synthetic form of the hormone and used to induce labor). The hormone has been implicated in the gradual “re-wiring” of a woman’s brain during and after pregnancy to actually help her think more like a mother.

Considering what we already know, many people will not find this new finding surprising. Nevertheless, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston recently discovered that women with low levels of oxytocin late in their pregnancy were more likely to experience postpartum depression. Although the results of the blood tests for oxytocin in the 73 participants were fairly clear, the researchers emphasize that low oxytocin levels may just be a contributing factor and not necessarily the cause of PPD. Since oxytocin is so easily influenced by life circumstances and interactions, the low level of the hormone and the incidence of PPD could be creating a vicious cycle. In addition, there is no evidence of whether adjusting oxytocin levels in women suffering from PPD could relieve their symptoms. However, simple acts such as engaging in skin-to-skin contact and talking with girlfriends can help elevate your mood even if it won’t cure you of depression completely.

Do you engage in acts such as skin-to-skin contact or talking to girlfriends that help to release oxytocin?

'Bonding hormone' linked to post-baby blues [ScienceNews]
Oxytocin [CSU]
UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women [anapsid]