Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Meet Jewel and Ty Murray's Son, Kase Townes [People]

10 Gifts For Vegan Babies [lilsugar]

Glenn Howerton Welcomes First Child: Miles Robert [CelebrityBabyScoop]

January Jones Gives Birth To Baby Boy [HuffPo]

Probiotics tied to lower risk of pregnancy problem [Reuters]

13 Celebrity Moms Who Have Hidden Their Pregnancy On TV [Babble]

Child Discipline: Consequences and Effective Parenting [Technorati]

The Impact of Fathers on Daughters' Self Esteem [HuffPo]

Conjoined twins see each other after being separated [DailyMail]

More Young Women Perplexed By Mothers Trying To Have It All [TheGrindstone]

New Comedy for Parents: Up All Night

The season premiere of "Up All Night," with Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph and Will Arnette aired on Wednesday to mixed reviews. However, any parent who watches this show will surely have a few laughs at the familiar situations. The new parents argue about who stayed up the most at night and work to curb their swearing. They learn the hard way that their partying days are past and about the frightening people at the supermarket that just want to gawk at their newborn.

What makes the show work is the incredible cast. All the actors are renowned for their comedic timing, but they also happen to be raising young babies right now in their real lives. All the actors have mentioned in interviews how much the TV show is mirroring their real lives at this time. Christina Applegate welcomed her baby in January, Maya Rudolph gave birth in July and Will Arnette welcomed his second child in August 2010.

You can view the full premiere here, on the NBC website.

What do you think of the show?

Up All Night [NBC]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Study: Teaching Babies to Concentrate

It seems like an impossible idea: a focused baby? However, scientists found that when babies were taught how to concentrate early on, they were better at focusing on learning new skills later.

Researchers from the University of London worked with 42 11-month-old babies in an effort to study mental plasticity. “The older you get, the less plastic your brain is,” study author Sam Wass said. “If you start putting in alterations while the foundation’s being built, it’s easier than doing it after the house is finished.” Half of the babies were engaged in a computer program that taught concentration and the other half watched television. After 15 days, the babies who were taught how to concentrate were better able to focus on what was currently going on, such as interacting with a parent and to ignore distractions, such as puppets. The study authors have concluded that teaching babies how to concentrate could be an invaluable practice that lends itself to learning any number of new skills.

For parents at home, teaching your baby to concentrate can seem like a daunting task, but researchers recommend completing a puzzle as practice. Babies look to parents to see what is worth paying attention to, so an exercise in focusing on one puzzle with your baby could help you both hone an ability to concentrate. Despite using a computer program and television for the study, the authors do not recommend either device for young children.

Do you spend time concentrating on one task with your baby?

Want to Excel? Concentrate, Baby [ABCNews]

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Pregnancy Expands a Vision [WSJ]

WikiLeaks cable: US lobbied vs breastfeeding in the Philippines [ABS-CBN]

Parents could be barred from knowing the sex of their unborn baby [TelegraphUK]

Why I Was A Surrogate Mother [Babble]

DHS: New airport security policy for children [CBS]

A Child’s Nap Is More Complicated Than It Looks [NYTimes]

Loving Your Daughter Doesn’t Make You a Pedophile [The Good Men Project]

Study links flame retardants and low birth weight [ConsumerReports]

Beautiful Birth Story Photography [Babble]

Surrogate not legally a baby’s mother, judge rules [NationalPost]

10 Pieces Of Parenting Advice [HuffPo]

10 parenting etiquette dilemmas, solved [MNN]

Fathers Wired to Care for Babies Too

It's not only mothers that are essentially "re-wired" in order to better care for their children. Researchers have confirmed suspicions that men's bodies undergo biological changes upon bringing a baby home that enable them to become better fathers.

Scientists at Northwestern University have discovered lower levels of testosterone in fathers, a long-held suspicion based on previous animal studies. Testosterone boosts behaviors necessary for men to compete with other males, which becomes less necessary when a man has found a mate and produced offspring. The study authors proved their hypothesis by testing the levels of testosterone in a large group of men, some of whom became fathers, over a period of time. The study authors also debunked the theory that maybe men with lower levels of the hormone were simply more likely to become fathers in the first place. Co-author of the study, Lee Gettler said: “On the contrary, the men who started with high testosterone were more likely to become fathers, but once they did, their testosterone went down substantially. Our findings suggest that this is especially true for fathers who become the most involved with child care.”

It’s believed that lower testosterone levels allow for more nurturing behaviors necessary in caregivers. Lower levels of the hormone are also linked to better health as men age, which could explain why married men with children tend to have better health in the long term than their single counterparts.

Did the father in your family become more nurturing once the baby came home?

Fathers Wired to Provide Offspring Care; Study Confirms That Testosterone Drops Steeply After Baby Arrives [ScienceDaily]

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September is Sickle-Cell Awareness Month

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), sickle cell anemia affects 70,000-100,000 people in the United States and approximately two million people carry the genes to pass it on to their children. It is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States, affecting mostly people of African American and Mediterranean descent. Since 1983, September has marked the observance of this debilitating disease.

Approximately one in twelve African Americans carry the gene for sickle cell anemia, also known as the number one killer of college football players. In fact, in 2010 the NCAA made it mandatory for universities to offer sickle-cell testing to all student athletes. People born with sickle cell are born with Hemoglobin SA, a gene that allows the production of normal red blood cells and also blood cells that are warped in shape. Someone carrying the disease may not show any symptoms until their body is put under physical stress such as from long distance running, at which point their blood cells can change shape, allowing them to attack muscle tissue, block oxygen flow and cause organ failure.

Once sickle cell disease is diagnosed, it can be properly managed throughout a person’s lifetime. It has also been cured through chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. Umbilical cord blood transplants have successfully cured the disease in many cases. Joseph Davis Jr. was only two-years-old when he was diagnosed and his parents were told that he many not live through his teenage years. The family searched for a cord blood donor without any luck – which is an unfortunate problem that many African Americans face due to a lack of donations from minority populations. Luckily, Joseph’s parents gave birth to another son that was born without sickle cell and his new little brother, Isaac, was able to provide the necessary cord blood that successfully cured his disease. The family was able to bank the second child’s cord blood through Cord Blood Registry’s Designated Treatment Program, which covers the cost of banking a child’s stem cells if they're being used to treat an older sibling with a disease able to be cured through the use of cord blood.

Sickle-Cell Awareness month is an excellent reminder to parents of African descent to donate their cord blood to an accredited cord blood bank and for parents to have their children tested for the disease, particularly if they are going to take part in athletics. In addition, every parent should be aware of this deadly, but curable disease.

Do you know anyone with sickle cell disease?

 Spread the Word – September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month [The Stem Cell Source]
“My Brother Saved My Life” [The Stem Cell Source]
September is National Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month [WIFR]
Wolf Pack football: Pack keeps extra close eye on players with sickle cell trait [RGJ]
Cord Blood Donations From Minorities Needed [PWBlog]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bilingual Babies' Brains Stay Flexible Longer

More and more parents are working on teaching their newborns two languages at once. Previous studies have found that bilingual babies were better able to focus and complete language tasks than their unilingual counterparts. Plus, bilingual babies find it easier to learn new languages later on in life and may have a cognitive advantage. A new study of brain activity in babies sheds light on what makes bilingual babies different.

Researchers recently compared babies raised in bilingual homes and compared them to babies raised in homes where only one language was spoken. They found that the babies in bilingual homes remained mentally flexible to learning languages between 10 to 12 months of age, whereas the unilingual babies were only flexible to learning new languages until six to nine months of age. Co-author of the study, Patricia Kuhl, said of the study: "The bilingual brain is fascinating because it reflects humans' abilities for flexible thinking -- bilingual babies learn that objects and events in the world have two names, and flexibly switch between these labels, giving the brain lots of good exercise."

It's becoming more widely believed that bilingual babies might get a boost in intelligence. Bilingual babies might not be speaking in full sentences as soon as the rest of the babies on the block, but it seems staying open to two languages under the age of one might give them a cognitive boost down the road. 

Bilingual Homes Help Babies Exercise Their Brain: Study [USNews]
A second language gives toddlers an edge [PWBlog]
Growing up Bilingual [BrainSkills]

Fun Maternity Tops from MommyLoves

For most expectant moms, there comes a time early in your pregnancy when your body doesn't resemble its normal state anymore, but doesn't reflect your pregnancy either. At this point, you just want to walk around with a sign that says: "I'm not fat, I'm pregnant." With MommyLoves couture tees you can forget about buying some poster board and stick with a cute, flattering maternity shirt that lets everyone know what your belly is really saying.

“Life’s a bump… and then you deliver!,” “kickin’,” and “Don’t touch…It kicks!,” are just a few of the funny slogans found on MommyLoves maternity shirts. Not only are these tops funny and purposeful, they come in flattering cuts, colors and are very affordable. MommyLoves also sells some great stuff for the rest of the family-to-be. Funny T-shirts, diaper bags and hats are a cute way to help the dad-to-be get ready for fatherhood. Grandparents will love the T-shirts with slogans just for them such as: “What Happens at Grandma’s Stays at Grandma’s.” Also available are affordable push presents, pregnancy journals, belly cast kits, prenatal skin products and chic diaper bags for moms. We especially loved their Kickin’ Couture maternity shirt, the “Now Brewing House Blend” coffee-lovers maternity shirt, and the My Little Pumpkins maternity shirt. For dads, the Dads University Diaper Expert (DUDE)  and The Bump Made Me Do It shirts make great gifts.  

Maternity&Style will be giving away a red Love Bump Maternity Top on their Facebook in the near future. Make sure you are fan before the giveaway begins.