Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

First Glimpse Of Natalie Portman's Son Aleph [CelebrityBabyScoop]

Etruscan image of woman giving birth found [The History Blog]

Doctors Reluctant to Treat Unvaccinated Children [Businessweek]

Babies mislabeled with GERD, doc warns [Today]

Exercise may not limit pregnancy weight gain [reuters]

Newborns Need to Be Near Their Mothers at Night [Fox News]

Is 'Choice' Less Accepted for Mothers? [NYTimes]

Mariska Hargitay Adopts Son Andrew Nicolas [People]

How one in ten parents suffer from baby name remorse [DailyMail]

What creates picky eaters: Pressure to eat [Today]

6 Boo-tastic Halloween Recipes from Weelicious [People]

AAP: Unstructured play better than screen-time for developing minds

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a long-awaited updated policy towards children watching television. The last policy was released over 10 years ago and urged parents to restrict the amount of time babies under the age of two watch television. Many studies since that time have revealed that TV is not beneficial for the developing minds of young children and could actually cause harm. This new policy tightens up those recommendations and highlights the benefits of unstructured play as an alternative.

Educational videos and TV shows targeting toddlers and babies have no benefits for developing minds and long hours of screen time could actually lead to language delays and attention problems. The AAP also points out that even when parents are watching their own TV shows and movies that it's taking away quality time that could be spent helping their children learn from play and other activities. Parents talk less when the TV is on and babies' brains thrive on hearing language in close interactions.

So, what does the AAP recommend instead of screen-time for the family? Simple interactions and unstructured play are the best for developing babies and toddlers. Instead of turning on the TV while making dinner, they recommend setting the child down on the floor with a safe toy for independent play. Independent play encourages babies to think creatively, problem solve and entertain themselves.

The recommendations come at time when the average 12-month-old spends an average of two hours a day of screen-time in some form, including devices such as iPads, which are included in the new policy. Before the age of two, babies simply don't understand what's happening on a screen - it just acts as a mesmerizing box of light. Once they reach the age of two, they are more capable of grasping images on a screen.

How much times does your child spend looking at a TV or a computer?

It’s Official: To Protect Baby’s Brain, Turn Off TV [Wired]
'Screen-Free' Play Best for Toddlers' Brains [HealthDay]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

French First Lady Carla Bruni Gave Birth

Carla Bruni (43) and Nicolas Sarkozy (56) have welcomed a baby girl to the world this week. The former model-musician gave birth on Wednesday in Paris to Giulia, who weighed in at 7 1/2 lbs. Giulia will be the first child ever born to a French presidential couple in office and is the first child for Bruni and Sarkozy.

The couple met in 2007 and were married in February 2008. Sarkozy has three children from a previous marriage - Pierre (25), Jean (23), and Louis (13). Bruni has one child from a previous marriage - Aurelian (10).

Bruni has already told the press that she will not be releasing photos of the baby. She said in a July interview of her discretion: "It's a source of great happiness for me, but after all, it's banal and the people [of France] have plenty of problems, so it would be inappropriate to talk about it."

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Carla Bruni Pregnant: French First Lady Officially Confirms Baby On The Way [HuffPo]
Nicolas and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Welcome a Daughter [People]

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Where Children Sleep [James Mollison]

Notes From a Dragon Mom [NYTimes]

March of the Penguins: An Arctic Chill Is Entering the Nursery This Season [lilsugar]

The Boob and The Purple Face [Babble]

5 DIY Costumes Made From a Cardboard Box [lilsugar]

How To Sell Shit To Single Moms [Jezebel]

8 Birth-Inspired Halloween Pumpkin Carvings [Babble]

Claims of dairy benefits to children questioned  [postcrescent]

Sesame Street's Hunger Crusade [The Daily Beast]

The rising cost of raising a child [CNN]

Viola Davis Adopts Daughter Genesis [People]

The Mystery of Preeclampsia Unfolds

The relationship between a pregnant mother and her growing baby is complicated and fascinating. There is still so much about pregnancy that remains a mystery, such as the development of common complications, most notably, preeclampsia. This week, researchers out of Yale University have released ground-breaking results of a recent study that could help advance the treatment and prevention of preeclampsia. The scientists observed in pregnant women an attack on the immune system by the developing baby, that if not successful can lead the mother's blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels.

"For such death and destruction to be a normal part of pregnancy is shocking," said Harvey Kliman, lead researcher behind the discovery of the strange mechanisms behind preeclampsia. Preeclampsia, a life-threatening condition, effects five percent of pregnancies and requires ending the pregnancy either through preterm labor or abortion. The cause of the condition has largely remained a mystery until now. This recent study built upon the understanding that during pregnancy the placenta, which is supplied by the father's DNA, releases cells that attack the mother's uterus in order to increase blood flow to the placenta, thereby increasing the flow of nutrients to the developing baby. The Yale researchers discovered that the mother releases white blood cells in response to the attack, at which point the placenta releases cells to act as decoys (called PP13's) for the mother's immune system to attack. The white blood cells are killed by the decoy cells. If the decoy cells are unable to distract and kill the white blood cells, the placenta never releases the extra nutrients that would come from the attack, so it sends a signal to the body to increase the blood pressure in order to compensate. It's through this cellular war that preeclampsia develops.

The findings will change the way that preeclampsia is diagnosed and treated. As it stands, preeclampsia can only be diagnosed through the detection of protein in a urine sample - at this point the condition has progressed considerably. These findings will help researchers find earlier markers for the condition and hopefully save the lives of women and babies around the world. As a side, the study also reveals an interesting warring picture between the placenta, uterus and fetus.

Have you been diagnosed with preeclampsia?

Study shows battle between mother and fetus [Yale Daily News]
Preeclampsia [PregnancyWeekly]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stressed Moms-to-be More Likely to Have Girls

In the ongoing search for all the effects of stress, researchers have found effects that will be of interest to women who are trying to conceive. The results of a recent study suggest that women who experience more stress while trying to conceive are more likely to have girl babies.

Scientists in the UK discovered in a study of approximately 338 women, that women undergoing stress while trying to conceive were 75% less likely to give birth to a son. The women were asked to keep a detailed personal journal about their lives, relationships and sex lives and were asked to complete questionnaires about their stress levels. On day six of each woman's monthly cycle, the researchers tested levels of the stress hormone cortisol and an adrenaline enzyme called alpha amylase. The data was collected over a period of six months or until the participants became pregnant. Of the participants, 207 became pregnant and gave birth to 58 boys and 72 girls. The women with the highest levels of cortisol were 75% less likely to have boys.

The release of cortisol is attributed to long-term, chronic stress often related to financial problems, relationship issues, ongoing pressure at work, major life changes, and being too busy. However, perception plays a key role in how much a person experiences chronic stress. In general, optimistic people with good social support networks tend to weather stress well. Fear of losing control or fear of taking action and a negative attitude can exacerbate stressful periods. The study authors said they don't know what the link between stress and the sex of conceived offspring is and that more research is needed to confirm their results. However, a study of babies conceived around the time of the 9/11 attacks in the US also found a link between stress and more baby girls.

Did you have a boy or a girl and how stressed were you while trying to conceive?

Girls' birth linked to stress level [Press Association]
Understanding Stress [Helpguide]
Want to Make Girl Babies? Get Stressed! [newser]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seafood From the Gulf Might Not be Safe during Pregnancy

Despite a government report stating that seafood fished out of the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill was safe to eat, one environmental group is calling the food unsafe for consumption by pregnant women and children. Cancer-causing compounds have been found in large amounts in samples of seafood from the Gulf.

The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) contends that the criteria used by the Food and Drug Administration for measuring the level of carcinogens in seafood is off by a factor of 10,000. They are using their recent report to encourage the FDA to reevaluate the stated safe level of hydrocarbon consumption among pregnant women and young children. The FDA, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services officials are standing by their initial statements that food currently fished out of designated areas of the gulf is safe to eat. "We put in an extensive program of sampling, at that time and since then, and the results have consistently been 100 to 1,000 times below our levels of concern," says Doug Karas of the FDA. An NRDC representative reports that the FDA calculated that 123,000 micrograms of napthalene (a component of coal tar, used in mothballs) per kilogram of shrimp was safe for consumption. NRDC believes that the acceptable level should be lower than 5.91 micrograms to safeguard pregnant women and young children from carcinogens. The group spent over a year searching for more information about the FDA's data used to deem the food safe for consumption under the Freedom of Information Act. They found that the EPA also tried to advise the FDA against setting such a high level as safe for consumption.

Naturally, many pundits are decrying the report as unnecessarily alarmist but the numbers still might convince people to avoid eating seafood from the Gulf.

Do you eat seafood from the Gulf?

Study: FDA seafood standards flawed [USAToday]
FDA Allowed Unsafe Seafood Onto Market After BP Oil Spill Disaster [Medical News Today]

Miscarriage Diagnosis Guidelines Questioned

There is nothing more painful than waiting for a miscarriage diagnosis from a doctor. Medical professionals routinely use an ultrasound in cases of bleeding during pregnancy to measure the size of the gestational sac in relation to the size of the fetus in order to determine if there is a miscarriage. The diagnosis can oftentimes require follow-up ultrasounds to further search for sac growth. A new report claims that this process is flawed and could lead to an incorrect diagnosis.

The most disturbing aspect of this recent report in the international journal of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology is the fact that many fetuses could have been mistakenly aborted due to these insufficient diagnostic techniques. The study authors say that the current criteria used when comparing the size of the gestational sac to the fetus is flawed, based on old, unreliable evidence. They were able to show that many healthy pregnancies could exhibit no sac growth in the seven-day period commonly used to determine a miscarriage. Tom Bourne, lead author of the study says, "Currently there is a risk that some women seeking reassurance with pain or bleeding in early pregnancy may be told they have had a miscarriage, and choose to undergo surgical or medical treatment when the pregnancy is in fact healthy." In addition, the study also found a 20% variation in measurements of the sac in the same pregnancy among different doctors, a problem that could lead to an incorrect diagnosis.

The findings will come as depressing news to women who've undergone dilation and curettage (D&C) after being diagnosed with a miscarriage, but could provide hopeful news to pregnant women waiting to learn if they've lost their babies. Study authors believe that this report will lead to tighter parameters for medical professionals diagnosing miscarriages going forward.

Miscarriage Diagnosis Guidelines Questioned [ScienceDaily]

Have you ever heard of an incorrect miscarriage diagnosis?