Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Victoria Beckham Shares a Photo of David and Baby Harper [People]

Sam Trammell Welcomes Twin Boys [People]

FBI's first app helps parents report missing children [CNN]

Federal study explores childbearing by era [WashingtonTimes]

The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy [NYTimes]

Autism, ADHD Share Genetic Similarities [Fox News]

High levels of toxic PBDE found in pregnant California women [LATimes]

MRSA More Common in Children Who Use Antibiotics [ThirdAge]

Ultrasound Diagnosis of Fetal Macrosomia Found Inaccurate [Family Practice News]

Intelligence is Largely Genetic

Your child's ability to think and problem-solve is a complex structure of small genetic components, scientists have discovered. Researchers recently learned that intelligence is approximately 50% genetic and the intricacy of its makeup is not controlled by just one or two genes.

Despite the feeling that you are building your child’s intelligence from scratch, a person’s intelligence is largely based on their parent's genes. Researchers studying intelligence at the University of Edinburgh reviewed the DNA of over 3,500 individuals and compared it with intelligence tests. They measured intelligence using two categories, fluid intelligence (on-the-spot thinking) and vocabulary, otherwise known as crystallized intelligence. After analyzing 500,000 genes in the subjects’ chromosomal makeup, scientists discovered that intelligence is far more complex than typically imagined. The differences in the subject’s fluid intelligence were estimated to be 51% due to genetic variances and 40% in crystallized intelligence. Team lead Ian Deary says of the finding: “It has been getting clearer and clearer that any genetic contribution to traits on which people differ - like height and weight - comes about from large numbers of gene differences, each with very small effects.”

The findings may sound obvious to many, but they reveal some interesting concepts. For one, this complex mix of genes that were discovered and that work together in minute ways to comprise a person’s intelligence could not be easily planned or replicated through advanced reproductive technologies. It means that the possibility of a perfect genetically-engineered baby is less of a possibility in the near future; a morally-questionable idea which pundits have regularly warned against with each technological advance. Plus, while genetics had a large effect on the differences among the subjects, approximately half of intelligence couldn’t be attributed to genetics, which leaves the environment a person is exposed to as a strong factor. The findings still bolster the fact that even in situations where a child has less than ideal parents in the intelligence department, they still have a fair chance of being intelligent if raised in a stable, loving home.

Does your child’s intelligence seem to come out of nowhere at times?

  Intelligence Gene: How Your Parents Determine Half Your Fate [IBTimes]
Intelligence is in the genes, researchers report [LATimes]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blood Test Can Reveal Baby's Sex at Seven Weeks

Using an ultrasound, a technician can sometimes see whether a baby is a boy or a girl around 11 weeks, but not with any guaranteed accuracy. Most expectant parents wait until weeks 18-22 to have an ultrasound where they find out the sex of their unborn child and at this point the results are usually very accurate. Scientists have discovered that the baby’s sex could be discovered as early as seven weeks with accuracy using a DNA blood test. The finding is exciting for expectant parents but is courting some controversy as well.

Researchers at the Mother-Infant Research Institute at Tufts University in Boston found that they could predict a child’s sex with 95% accuracy at seven weeks gestation using a DNA blood test from the mother. They emphasize that the test they reviewed is not the same as the early gender tests available on the market. The researchers reviewed 57 published studies, which included over 6,000 pregnancies and discovered that DNA blood tests for gender used in the studies were 95% accurate by seven weeks and by 22 weeks the results were perfect.

The finding holds particular significance for cases of sex-specific disorders. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is one such condition that causes women to be born with masculine features on their genitalia. The scientists believe that early intervention could allow them to stop the condition from fully developing. Some expectant parents would also be able to learn early-on whether their child will become a carrier of a Y-linked or X-linked genetic disorder just by learning the sex. In conditions that inevitably lead to early death or an extremely poor quality of life, they could choose to abort the child early.

Nevertheless, the fact that the sex of the child could be learned so early in pregnancy worries many that some expectant parents will abort children because they would rather have a girl or a boy. The idea is not unfounded since many cultures decidedly prefer one sex over the other and many parents become attached to the idea of having a girl or a boy, particularly in situations where they already have all girls or all boys. The blood test that can provide early results for expectant parents is not currently offered but could be at some point in the future. 

Would you prefer to find out the sex of your child in the first trimester of your pregnancy?

Boy or Girl? Fetal DNA Tests Often Spot On [WebMD]

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Jimmy Kimmel Takes Jessica Alba to Birthing Class [YouTube]

Essence Atkins Is Pregnant [People]

Why Toilet Training Can Trip Up Parents and Doctors [NPR]

The (Less Obvious) Benefits of Having Kids [Babble]

Bleeding in Pregnancy, What I Didn’t Know… [Babble]

Women Attempt To Set World Breastfeeding Record [Jezebel]

10 Pictures to Take on Baby's First Day [lilsugar]

Indoor mold poses key asthma risk for babies [CNN]

Indian woman with two wombs gives birth to two boys [Daily Mail]

Successful Breastfeeding Can Begin in Pregnancy [Babble]

Developing Taste in the Womb

They say "you are what you eat" and recent research reveals that so is your baby. In fact, the foods that you eat during pregnancy not only reach the baby through your interconnected bloodstream, but they also change the flavor of the amniotic fluid that your baby swallows. New findings of how babies develop a sense of taste in the womb provide pregnant women with more motivation to eat healthy foods.

Scientists have discovered that the foods pregnant women consume can be detected in samples of their amniotic fluid. All the pregnant women who participated in a recent study were 21 weeks along. Researchers believe the baby's tastes are being programmed for life during this time. Testers smelled amniotic fluid samples and were able to detect anise, mint, garlic, carrot, and vanilla after the pregnant women  consumed these foods. Taste is 90 percent smell so it’s assumed that babies taste the foods in the fluid as well. Babies reacted favorably to the foods that they were exposed to in the womb when researchers completed further testing. For example, one group of pregnant women was advised to drink a glass of carrot juice every day. Their babies were later given two types of cereal – one contained carrots. The babies favored the carrot-laden cereal; they ate more and made less negative faces while consuming it.

What you eat is probably flavoring your breast milk too. Julie Mennella, a taste researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center decided to pursue the hypothesis that flavors would appear in amniotic fluid after learning that farmers found that cow’s milk changed flavor depending on the diet of the cows.

Mennella says that the finding makes evolutionary sense because the baby is being prepared for what types of foods will be available after birth through the pregnant mother’s diet. However, she acknowledges that babies might still make faces while eating foods they’ve been exposed to. Other researchers suggest that although the foundation for a person’s tastes may be laid in the womb, that they are reinforced and altered throughout childhood.

Does your baby prefer foods you consumed while pregnant?

Baby's Palate And Food Memories Shaped Before Birth [NPR]

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Ethan Hawke and Wife Welcome a Daughter

Actor Ethan Hawke (40) and his wife Ryan welcomed a daughter to the world two weeks ago, People reports.  They named the newest addition Indiana. She is the fourth child for the actor. He has two older children with ex-wife Uma Thurman, Maya (13) and Levon (9). He and Ryan are parents to three-year-old Clementine Jane. They were married in June 2008.

Hawke said in 2006 that fatherhood is: “the greatest pleasure in my life. It's the only role that, if I fail, I will consider my life a failure.”

Congratulations to the happy family!

Ethan Hawke Welcomes Daughter Indiana [People]

Monday, August 08, 2011

Good Parenting Depends on Personality

If one of your children is out-of-control and the other is almost completely self-sufficient, you might find that changing your parenting approach for each child will yield better results. A new study challenges the way kids with different personalities are guided through childhood and suggests that parenting should match a child's personality.

Over 200 moms in Seattle took part in a study that lasted three years, in which researchers observed their parenting. The researchers measured levels of anxiety and depression in children each time they visited the families and made note of each child’s personality and each mother’s parenting style. They essentially split the parenting styles into two types: laissez faire or authoritarian. The children were observed for their level of self-control in addition to their general emotional state. Researchers found that when parents matched their parenting style to the child’s individual personality, the children had lower levels of anxiety and depression.

The findings will ring true to many parents. The researchers noted that children who lacked self-control seemed to thrive when provided with more structure and discipline. Conversely, children who seemed to do well independently had lower levels of anxiety and depression when mothers were more hands-off. Study co-author, Liliana Lengua said for parents to observe their children:  “Can they stop themselves from doing things on an impulse? Can they power through things they don’t want to do?” If the answers are ‘yes,’ then the child might do better with a laissez-faire approach. The study authors believe that the take-away message is that parents should tailor their parenting to each child, rather than use just one approach for all their children.

Do you parent each child differently?

Child a handful? Laid-back parenting can make matters worse [MSNBC]

Making Baby Food with Baby Brezza

Homemade baby food can seem like a hassle to prepare and clean up after, but you know that it's the only way you can ensure your baby gets the healthiest diet you can provide. Baby Brezza is an all-in-one steamer and blender that makes homemade baby food simple, leaves few dishes to be cleaned by hand and can be used long after you baby grows out of pureed foods.

 The Baby Brezza cooks foods and purees them in one push of a button. It is incredibly simple – just fill the water basin, place chunks of fruits or vegetables into the blender, close the lid, push the “steam+puree” button, and walk away. It’s impossible to do it wrong because the Baby Brezza beeps if anything is set improperly. Once the puree is finished you can serve it up, place the small blender in the fridge for later or freeze what you’ve made. The machine’s pieces are BPA free and dishwasher safe, so you can feel confident storing food in it and no hand-washing is required.

If you have a Baby Brezza, you don’t need a blender or a steamer for those small side-dishes or single servings. The machine can be used as just a blender or a steamer. The blades on the blender are unusual, with small round holes dotting each blade, which leads to faster and more thorough blending than your typical blender. It is perfect for making a smoothie for one-two people or whipping up some salad dressing quickly. You can also make vegetable sauces for kid’s meals – providing them with extra servings of all those healthy vegetables they push aside. Baby Brezza is the type of machine that can save you time and money and will leave you feeling good about what your child is eating. Plus, once that little one heads off the college, it is the perfect starter kitchen utensil to send along with them.

This product was given to me to review.

Do you make your own baby food?