Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

311′s Nick Hexum Delivers Daughter Maxine [People]

Handwriting Could Make Your Kids Smarter [HealthKey]

Democrats beat back further cuts to food aid [AP]

Syphilis testing could dramatically cut baby deaths [Reuters]

Japan plans to move pregnant women from far-flung radiation hotspots [Reuters]

Can You Really Decide Your Baby's Sex Naturally? [SFGate]

Father's Day Gifts Kids Can Make [Parents]

Josh and Anna Duggar Welcome a Baby Boy [People]

Crayons and Markers Your Kids Can Actually Eat! [lilsugar]

5 things moms can do to help dads [momaha]

Sleep position may affect stillbirth risk [Reuters]

Natalie Portman Gave Birth

It's being reported that award-winning actress Natalie Portman (30) has given birth to a baby boy! However, no other details have been released at this time. It's possible that we won't hear an announcement of the child's name until a circumcision ceremony takes place eight days after birth, as is the Jewish custom for baby boys.  

The father of the child is ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied. The couple met on set while filming Black Swan. They announced their engagement in December.

Congratulations to the talented couple!

Benjamin Millepied, Natalie Portman Welcome Son [People]
Birth and the First Month of Life [Judiasm 101]

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cuts to WIC on the Horizon?

Participants in the Federal government's Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC) might find less assistance in the near future. The House is currently debating over budget cuts that could result in $650 million less for WIC.

WIC grants states funding in order to provide supplemental foods, nutritional information, and health care referrals for low-income mothers and mothers-to-be. Pregnant and breastfeeding women often utilize the program’s discounts on whole foods such as vegetables and dairy products at grocery stores. New mothers can utilize WIC’s helpful nutrition classes and formula is provided to babies in need.

House republicans want to cut $650 million from the WIC program, a move they claim will not affect the number of people able to receive these services, adding that other services similar to WIC are available for those in need. However, Betsey Clarke, the WIC program director in Minnesota refutes the claim and says people will be turned away without the necessary funding. Over nine million people relied on WIC services in 2010. Liberal Democrats are saying that approximately 200,000 people could be turned away if food prices rise as expected.

Do you use WIC?

House Debates Funding Cuts For Food Safety, Nutrition Programs [MPR]
U.S. House debates cuts to domestic nutrition programs  [MPR]
House to boost veterans' programs, cut food aid [Seattle PI]
Women, Infants and Children [USDA]

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Gavin Newsom announces birth of second child [CaliforniaBeat]

24 Hour Fitness Offers Dad Weekend of Free Workouts [BusinessWire]

Pampers Suit Ends With Token Payment to Parents [ConsumerAffairs]

Incredible coincidence as triplets give birth to baby boys within days [Daily Mail]

The Most Infertile State in Nation [The Stir]

Babies Prefer Picasso [Miller-McCune]

Guide to 'safe' roughhousing [CanadianPress]

Five Tips for Separated or Military Dads to Stay Connected [PRWeb]

Dads and Babies Flash Mob [PRWeb]

What Babies Can Teach Us About Being Happy [HuffPo]

Sexism against fathers [Boston]

Samuel L. Jackson Reading "Go the **** to Sleep" [Jezebel]

Last minute Father's Day gift ideas [BoingBoing]

Babies Exposed to Pets in First Year May Cut Allergy Risk

An 18-year-long study has concluded with good news for pet-owning parents. Babies exposed to pets within the first year of life appear to be less likely to develop allergies to the animals.

Researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit studied 566 boys and girls from birth until age 18 in order to look for a connection between lifelong pet exposure and allergies. The families involved completed annual surveys divulging the status of their pet ownership. Then the children were tested for allergies when they reached age 18. The children who were exposed to dogs and cats in the first year of life were about half as likely to develop allergies to the particular animal they came in contact with. Exposure during any other time of their life seemed to have no protective effect.  

Ganesha Wegienka, Ph.D. said of the results: “Dirt is good. Your immune system, if it's busy with exposures early on, stays away from the allergic immune profile.”

Do you have any pets?

Pets May Reduce Children's Allergy Risk [WebMD]
Living with pets may protect infants from allergies [CNN]

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Newly Wed Lily Allen is Pregnant Again

UK singer Lily Allen (26) was married to Sam Cooper (32) this past Sunday, where the couple shared the news that they are expecting their first child! Lily sported a tiny bump under her long, lace wedding gown and was glowing with joy. She and Sam have been together since 2009 and were engaged last Christmas.

The wonderful news follows months of heartbreak following the loss of her pregnancy last November, at six months along.

Congratulations to the overjoyed newlyweds!

Lily Allen ties the knot... as it emerges she's  PREGNANT  [Daily Mail]

Monday, June 13, 2011

Genetically Modified Crops, Round-up and Birth Defects

Two studies have brought the dangers of genetically engineered crops into the spotlight. The primary dispenser of genetically engineered seeds, Monsanto, has been accused of hiding study results that revealed an increase in birth defects due to exposure to their primary herbicide called Round-up (chemical name glyphosate). Monsanto's genetically modified crops are also under fire because a toxin inserted into them for pest control has now been found in the bodies of babies whose mothers consumed genetically modified food.

To clarify, genetically modified crops are not the cleverly cross-bred plants of centuries past. Genetically modified organisms, GMOs, are engineered at the molecular level in a lab. The most common GMO’s are conventionally grown corn, soy and cotton in the United States. When GM foods are engineered as seeds, they are typically manufactured to resist an herbicide which would otherwise kill the plant and they are inserted with a toxin called Bt toxin so that pests will be killed upon eating the plant, enabling the plant to require less chemical spray. These practices are receiving strong scrutiny due to the results of an independent Canadian study and a review of studies by doctors and researchers from around the world.

A group of independent doctors from the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Canada recently found Bt toxin in 24 out of 30 cord blood samples taken from newborns. They took blood samples from 30 pregnant women and found Bt toxin in 28 out of 30 mothers. The researchers believe that the toxin is entering the bloodstream through the consumption of meat, dairy and eggs of farm animals fed GM corn. Monsanto has previously stated that the toxin breaks down in the digestive system, a claim which this study directly refutes. The harm that could come from consuming Bt toxin is unknown, but it is suspected to possibly induce miscarriage, cause allergies and cancer.

In addition to the dangers of Bt toxin, GM foods also carry the herbicide Round-up, which is being implicated in causing birth defects by a group of researchers and doctors. The publication called “Round up and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?” was released by Earth Open Source. In 52 pages, the review of information concludes that Monsanto knew of the increased incidence of birth defects from low doses of glyphosate since 1993 and deliberately misled the public to believe otherwise. The group is calling for an immediate review of independent research on glyphosate.

These recent findings are particularly significant for pregnant women. GM foods are not required to be labeled and conventionally raised animals are generally raised on a GM food diet. The only way to avoid consuming GM foods is to buy organic. However, the cost of organic food is not practical for many families. Sticking to organic meat and dairy is a good way to avoid consuming toxins used in GM foods, but skipping processed foods is even better. Up to 70% of processed foods in the supermarket contain GM foods. In fact, it’s likely that any product (not organic) that contains soy, corn and canola or cottonseed oils is made from GM ingredients.

Do you try to avoid GM foods?

GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies [Daily Mail]
Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark? [Scribd]
Are Biotech Foods Safe to Eat? [WebMD]

US HUD Cracks Down on Discrimination against Pregnant Borrowers

 The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has taken note of lenders that are discriminating against women on maternity leave. A case in Washington State brought the unfair practice to light and many more cases are now coming forward.

A ten-month investigation into the case of 33-year-old Elizabeth Budde was undertaken by HUD in response to a lender denying her a loan based on her email auto-reply, which indicated that she was on maternity leave. Budde had a stellar credit score and was receiving full salary while on leave. However, the lender claimed she did not have a reliable source of income for three years because she wasn’t currently on the job. She eventually had to get her employer to write a letter to the lender but not without alerting HUD.

Because of the Fair Housing Act, lenders are not allowed to ask a borrower whether she is pregnant. The act also provides protection against lending discrimination based on sex, race and disability. As a result of the investigation, Cornerstone Management Company has provided monetary relief to Budde, has changed company policy, and is providing $750,000 to any other borrowers who were discriminated against in the past two years.

Others have come forward across the country with similar stories. HUD most recently charged Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation for denying mortgages to mothers until they returned to work from maternity leave. Similar cases are continuing to surface and HUD is continuing its investigations.

Have you been turned down for a loan because you were on maternity leave?

Need  a Mortgage? Don’t Get Pregnant. [NYTimes]
Ending Pregnancy-Related Lending Discrimination Is a Priority for HUD and America's Families [HuffPo]