Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

'The Other F Word': Jim Lindberg on punk rock fatherhood [LATimes]

Can Your Name Affect Your Personality? [ModernMom]

When Can You Add Spice to Baby Food? [Just the facts baby]

Mothers buy into freeze-frame parenting [LATimes]

Bones reveal 18th and 19th-century breastfeeding fads [NewScientist]

The 2011 Best Illustrated Children's Books [NYTimes]

The Next Nine Months: Postpartum Exercise Time Line [lilsugar]

"Autism can be an advantage in life," says scientist [DailyMail]

How to Reveal a Pregnancy Over Facebook Chat [thehairpin]

That Baby Really Does Roar Like a Lion [DiscoveryNews]

Breastfeeding Lowers Blood Pressure, Stabilizes Blood Sugar in Mothers

Women who were labeled high risk during pregnancy due to preeclampsia or gestational diabetes can gain valuable health benefits by breastfeeding. Two studies released this week have shown that breastfeeding lowers blood pressure and stabilizes blood sugar.

Women who develop preeclampsia during their pregnancies or who have a history of high blood pressure should consider breastfeeding for more than six months. Preeclampsia, characterized by high blood pressure, affects one in ten pregnancies. It can cause a handful of serious complications during pregnancy but it's detrimental effects don't stop there. Many studies have found long-term cardiovascular problems for women who experience the condition, including high-blood pressure. A new study found that breastfeeding could counteract that problem. Researchers looked at 56,000 new mothers and discovered that mothers who breastfed at least six months were less likely to experience high blood pressure over a fourteen-year period. The odds were 22 percent higher that a woman would develop high blood pressure if she did not breastfeed. Smoking habits, diet and exercise were taken into account when calculating results. However, the researchers could not rule out the possibility that factors such as stress or underlying health conditions that can make breastfeeding difficult were driving up blood pressure as well. 

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente in California are echoing the call for women to breastfeed due to it's stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels. Similar the preeclampsia, gestational diabetes during pregnancy can also can carry long-term effects for the mother. Women who develop the condition are more likely to develop diabetes down the road. Researchers found that women who breastfed with little or no formula supplementation had lower blood sugar levels six-nine weeks postpartum, even if they were obese. Women who exclusively or mostly breastfed also exhibited fewer signs of pre-diabetes. 

These recent studies add to a growing body of evidence revealing the positive health effects of breastfeeding for the mother, not just the baby. Breastfeeding has already been linked to lowered risks of developing postpartum depression, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. It can also aid in weigh loss, costs less than formula and can be easier because it requires less prep time than formula.

Why do you plan to breastfeed?

Breastfeeding tied to lower blood pressure risk [reuters]
Pre-eclampsia: a lifelong disorder [MJA]
Preeclampsia [PregnancyWeekly]
Long-term implications of gestational diabetes for the mother. [NIH]
Fully or Mostly Breastfeeding Women Have Lowest Blood Sugar Levels After a Gestational Diabetes Pregnancy [HealthCanal]
Why breastfeeding is important []

Thursday, November 03, 2011

August Babies Less Likely to Excel Academically

If you had your baby in August, you might want to consider holding them back from kindergarten for a year. The youngest children to enter grade school are the least likely to get a college education down the road and more likely to struggle academically, according to new research.

Researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reviewed the records of 48,500 children in England. They noticed that children born in August were 20% less likely to receive a college education and more likely to attend a vocational school. Teachers described 49% of August-born children to be "very ready" to start secondary school, whereas 63% of September children were described that way. At the age of seven, August-born children were more likely to be bullied than September children and felt less confident academically

A previous study by the group bolsters these results - the researchers discovered in 2007 that August babies did worse in school overall than their slightly older peers. Even when parents tried to read to the children more in an effort to help them catch up, the results remained the same.

The researchers believe there is a disadvantage for August-born children because they are inevitably the youngest in their class. Children that are a year younger than their classmates are more likely to fall behind academically and could continue to have trouble catching up throughout their school years.

Do you have an August-born baby?

When You Are Born Matters: The Impact of Date of Birth on Child Cognitive Outcomes in England [IFS]
August babies are less likely to go on to top universities, says study [TelegraphUK]

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Hugh Grant Welcomes Baby Girl [USWeekly]

Seeing Tantrums as Distress, Not Defiance [NYTimes]

Many Parents Experiencing Baby Name Remorse [CBS]

Pregnant Man Thomas Beatie Introduces Kids [People]

A Pain In The Wrist [FitPregnancy]

Breastfeeding Lowers Blood Sugar After Gestational Diabetes [HealthCanal]

The Pregnant Athlete: Effects on the Unborn Baby [Yahoo]

Mothers to risk arrest in "milk and cookies" event outside FDA [WashTimes]

Power Laboring Positions [FitPregnancy]

Toddler air travel: Surviving security and braving the pat-down [CNN]

J&J Boycotted Over Carcinogens in Baby Bath Products

The brand name Johnson & Johnson has become almost synonymous with baby bath products over the decades, but an international coalition of health and environmental groups is calling for their boycott. The boycott is specifically aimed at some of the company's bath products, which contain two chemicals that are known carcinogens.

The coalition of groups, including the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, has been urging Johnson & Johnson to remove harmful chemicals from their baby shampoo, most notably, the carcinogens dioxane and quarternium-15, a substance that releases formaldehyde. Private testing found unsafe levels of these chemicals in certain bath products, even though they were not listed as ingredients on the label. The company has responded to the request by saying they are gradually phasing out the chemicals, even though they stand by the safety of quarternium-15. However, phasing out the chemicals has been met with disdain because the company already sells the same products without the carcinogens in many countries - just not in the United States, Canada and a handful of other countries. Among the groups calling for the boycott are The Breast Cancer Fund, Environmental Working Group, Greenpeace, American Nurses Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Healthy Child, Healthy World. The products containing the chemicals are Johnson & Johnson's Baby Shampoo, Oatmeal Baby Wash, Moisture Care Baby Wash, and Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash. 

Do you use Johnson & Johnson bath products?

Baby's Tub Is Still Toxic [The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics]
Consumers lash out at Johnson & Johnson over harmful chemicals in baby shampoo [NYDailyNews]

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Researcher Says Co-Sleeping Prevents Stress on Baby's Heart

A recent study of the effects of co-sleeping is reigniting an age-old debate across the web. Dr. Nils Bergman suggests that an infant should sleep next to the mother for the first three years of life to reduce stress and promote a healthy heart. He argues that instances where babies are killed while co-sleeping had other factors involved and reveals the physiological benefits a child can receive through sleeping next to the mother.

Dr. Bergman is the creator of Kangaroo Mother Care, a program in the UK that fosters better health in infants through skin-to-skin contact with a caregiver. It is slightly different than Kangaroo Care in the US, which follows the same principle of skin-to-skin contact for better health outcomes but is usually only encouraged for preterm infants.

Dr. Bergman defends the practice of co-sleeping after studying the physiological effects of it in 16 infants. He discovered that babies hearts were stressed three times as much when slumbering in a cot as opposed to on the mother's chest. He also found a disruption in the brain's sleep cycles when babies were left to sleep in a cot. He repeats an argument heard from many advocates of co-sleeping: "When babies are smothered and suffer cot deaths, it is not because their mother is present. It is because of other things: toxic fumes, cigarettes, alcohol, big pillows and dangerous toys."

Many studies have shown benefits from co-sleeping for the baby and mother, but infant deaths (an average of 64 per year) from co-sleeping have made the practice highly debatable. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against bed-sharing, although quite a few physicians, most notably Dr. William Sears, believe it to be a healthy practice if done safely. You can read about safe co-sleeping habits here.

What are your thoughts on co-sleeping?

Babies 'should sleep in mother's bed until age three' [TelegraphUK]
Can Co-sleeping Work For Your Family? [MedicineNet]
Cosleeping and Your Baby [KidsHealth]

Monday, October 31, 2011

Negative Parenting Early on Leads to Aggressive Children

Remember that classmate in kindergarten that pushed you on the ground for no good reason? His parents might have seemed like really sweet people, despite their little hellion's actions, but it could've been their negative parenting while he was an infant that sparked the aggressive behavior. A new study challenges the idea that some children are born with aggressive tendencies that come out no matter how parents raise them.

Researchers from New York University spent 30 years following 260 mothers and their children in order to better understand how some children become more aggressive than others. The findings were surprising. One of the researchers said: "Before the study, we thought it was likely the combination of difficult infant temperament and negative parenting that put parent-child pairs most at risk for conflict in the toddler period. However, our findings suggest that it was negative parenting in early infancy that mattered most." Negative parenting was defined as handling the infants roughly and expressing negative emotions towards them. The children were followed from birth to first grade. Researchers observed the mothers' parenting styles for the first six months of the children's lives during feeding times and then used observations and parental reports throughout the toddler years. They later checked on the behavior of the children once they entered school by talking to their teachers. The researchers found a noticeable correlation between the negativity of the children's mothers and subsequent aggressive behavior. 

The researchers could not find a connection between the innate temperament of the babies and their later aggressive behavior. Being highly irritable or quick to switch moods in infancy was not an indicator of defiant and explosive behavior later on. 

The cycle of negative parenting leading to aggression in children starts early and is self-perpetuating. Toddlers who experienced negative parenting in infancy acted out more and the mother was likely to respond with more negativity in response. Some aggression and explosive behavior is normal in children younger than five, but by the time they reach that age their behaviorally tendencies are pretty much set. "Conduct problems around age 5 are probably one of the strongest predictors of anything that you care to predict for years to come, including depression, substance use, academic problems and peer rejection. They predict even aggression against one's romantic partner later in life," said Lorber. 

Do you try to parent without using negativity?

'Negative Parenting' Starts Aggressive Personalities Early [LiveScience]

Mama Never Told Me Review and Giveaway

Emily Van Do has released her second book that reveals all the strange things that people will say to new mothers. Mama Never Told Me.. is a beautifully illustrated record of the eye-brow raising commentary that Van Do received after the birth of her baby. It follows the release of her first book which took a humorous look at what people say to pregnant women.

"When are you due?" and "Just rub his gums with whiskey!" are only a couple of the strange but very common questions people ask new mothers. When family and friends are asking, it's easier to let it go, but the illustrations in the book reveal the unbelievable places where complete strangers will try to provide parenting advice. The advice-givers are not limited to those without children, who might just not understand. As Van Do's book reveals, the most inappropriate suggestions often come from other mothers. The book is a must-read for new parents that might want to brace themselves, relatives of new parents and anyone compelled to provide parenting advice to strangers. Although people often have the best intentions, these comments are anything but helpful and unfortunately, very common!

ParentingWeekly is giving away 15 copies of the newest of addition of Mama Never Told Me... We want to know what is the strangest thing that anyone has said to you during your pregnancy or since becoming a parent? Send your entries to, with the subject line "Mama Never Told Me." The contestants with the most hilarious, jaw-dropping entries will receive a free copy of the book and their comments will be anonymously posted along with the other winners at a future date. Please send your submissions before November 15th.

Mama Never Told Me [Website]