Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Jason Bateman and Wife Welcome Baby No. 2: Maple Sylvie [CelebrityBabyScoop]

The Feel-Great Workout [FitPregnancy]

Is Paula Patton Pregnant? [CelebrityBabyScoop]

A Dad's Guide to Sex After Pregnancy and Childbirth [Parenting]

How to Give a Baby CPR [Parents]

Pets Enhance Pregnancy [FitPregnancy]

Working pregnant women face rampant discrimination: agency [reuters]

Exposure to cigarette smoke affects female fertility [ABCNews]

Low Vitamin D in Pregnancy Linked to Language Problems in Children [WebMD]

Arsenic in Rice Poses Problem for Babies and Pregnant Women

Bad news for parents of formula-fed babies and moms-to-be: the high arsenic content of rice is causing the harmful chemical to show up in the bodies of babies and expectant mothers. The culprit isn't just that side of rice on your plate either, it's all rice-based products, including brown rice syrup - a common ingredient found in organic foods and baby formula.

Try as you might, avoiding arsenic is no easy task, but luckily it leaves the body fairly quickly. However, repeated exposure has been linked to cancer and diabetes and while adults might be able to handle the chemical load without too many problems, babies are less likely to be able. The news of arsenic found in organic baby formulas is disconcerting to say the least. Researchers from Dartmouth University tested 27 different formulas for arsenic content and found that the two which listed organic brown rice syrup as an ingredient contained the highest levels of arsenic. In fact, levels were 20 times higher than the other formulas tested. Federal standards allow 10 ppb (parts per billion) in drinking water. The milk-based formula with high levels had 8.6 ppb and the soy-based formula had levels at 21.4 ppb, the researchers did not reveal which products they tested. 

The researchers also found much higher levels of arsenic in organic cereal bars containing rice products. Of the 29 cereal bars tested, there was a range of 23 - 128 ppb per bar, which health advocates are less concerned about because it's mostly adults and older children eating cereal bars. However, there should be concern for pregnant women eating the bars. Coincidentally, another study was released this week that found pregnant women who consumed a serving of rice each day had levels of arsenic in their system that sometimes exceeded the federal safety limit for water (10 ppb).  

It might seem like it's easiest to just avoid rice altogether, but rice ingredients are in a large number of products and brown rice comes with a host of health benefits, particularly for pregnant women. The studies highlight the need for the government to set safety limits for arsenic in food, not just water. Rice grown in the southern United States is particularly high in arsenic because cotton growers used to spray arsenic-based pesticides on the crops, causing it to build up in the soil. There's no way of knowing where the rice came from that was used to create the organic brown rice syrup in your cereal bar, which might convince you to avoid the ingredient for the time being. Rice from other countries, particularly India, China, and Europe is known to have lower levels of the harmful chemical. 

Is there a lot of rice in your diet?

Photo Credit: Rasbak

High arsenic levels found in organic foods, baby formula [Today]
 Rice consumption linked to higher arsenic levels in pregnant women [EnvironmentalHealthNews]
Brown rice [WHFoods]

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mothers Consumed with Buying Needless Baby Items

The safest car seat on the market? Check. The best crib for the nursery? Check. The most expensive formula on the shelf? Wait, do we really need to spend that much? Now that you're on the road to parenthood, you get to learn about all the items on the market tailored specifically for your baby. Parents-to-be often spend thousands preparing for the newest addition to their family, even though much of what they buy is unnecessary. A new study finds that 58% of pregnant women are consumed with thoughts of what to buy next. 

The survey of 2000 expectant and new mothers conducted by the Kelton research firm found some troubling statistics. Mothers surveyed were concerned about their financial situation but still felt pressure to buy brand-name baby products. In fact, two-thirds of the respondents reported cutting back on dining out, clothing expenses and entertainment out of fear for their financial situation without trying to save on baby products. One in four mothers surveyed reported feeling guilty if they didn't buy specific products. The study reveals advertising to be the primary source of the mentality found in so many new mothers. Mothers in the survey admitted to a barrage of emotions due to baby product advertising including confusion, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. Even 35% of experienced moms surveyed admitted to spending more than they intended to because of advertising. Sandra Gordon, of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products notes: "Moms are so intent on absorbing as much baby-related information as possible, and making the right purchasing decisions, that it can be easy to overlook inexpensive options that are just as safe and effective for their baby."

Another interesting aspect of the study was discovered in regards to purchasing formula. Almost half of first-time moms reported feeling guilty for formula feeding over breastfeeding, leading researchers to conclude that they were buying brand name formula in response to their feelings. There was a prevailing belief among the mothers that more expensive formulas were of better quality and have more nutritional value, even though federal law dictates that all formulas must have the same nutritional content and be of equal quality. 

Based on the survey results, it seems that many new mothers believe that spending more on products for their baby is important for raising a healthy child. Realistically, the quality of time spent with babies is more important than buying the most expensive formula or the best baby sling on the market. 

Do you spend more than you intended to on baby products?


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Joy Williams of The Civil Wars Is Pregnant [People]

Woman Induces Labor So Her Dying Husband Can Meet His Baby [Jezebel]

Coalition finds BPA in baby food, launches effort to curb chemical's use [BDN]

Controlling parents more likely to have delinquent children [Fosters]

Screening Children for Cholesterol [NYTimes]

PO'd Parents Petition Against Cut To Amazon 'Mom' Benefits [paidContent]

Plan to close USDA day-care center upsets parents [WashPo]

Kids have been sleep-deprived for more than 100 years: study [LATimes]

What science says about working moms, and what the heart says [LATimes]

Post-natal depression: Fathers Reaching Out aims to help men [BBC]

Working Mothers: Better Workers but Paid Less

There's a common misconception in the workplace that mothers are inevitably taking more time off and less capable of focusing on their work than their childless peers. New research has put the focus on working moms, revealing that they don't take more time off than their co-workers yet they're getting paid less overall. Bloggers and advocates across the web have been discussing this disconnect and providing great insight into the misconceptions.

Working mothers are generally seen by many co-workers as uncommitted to their jobs - pulled mentally and physically to their children, hypothetically causing their work to suffer. Victoria Pynchon at Forbes notes: "Had I chosen the far more difficult path of combining career with motherhood, I would have been forced to work in a more focused manner, to organize myself and my working teams better, and to get my work done between, say, 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. instead of between 10 a.m. and one in the morning." Other employers echo this sentiment and prefer hiring mothers because they generally work faster, are better multi-taskers and have a sense of responsibility. Plus, the experience of motherhood enhances their management skills overall. Recent research also reveals that the number of absences due to illness, injury, or medical problems is actually twice to three times as high as the days taken for maternity leave, child care problems and other family and personal obligations.

Despite what many employers could see as a boon to the workplace, working mothers are paid up to 14% less than their childless peers, according to a recent study. Women already make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes and adding motherhood to her resume could drive that number down even further. Kate Krause of the Unversity of New Mexico and lead author of the study explains, "I can explain some of that gap by voluntary steps that women might take. I might take a less demanding job if it gives me more time with my children in exchange for a lower wage. Or, in anticipation of having children, I might get less college education because why get it if I'm going to stay home with the kids?" In addition, when women have been out of the workforce for any period of time, they seem to shortchange themselves - feeling as though their qualifications aren't as valuable because they took a couple years off. Of course, the issue of discrimination is also largely at play despite laws designed to prevent it. Some employers will simply offer mothers less work and less opportunities to really prove themselves. Perhaps a new element to this debate are the penalties for working part-time. Working only a few hours less than someone who is working full time makes you ineligible for benefits, paid days-off and certain workplace protections.

The debate just sheds more light on the fact that the United States seems unwilling to provide support to mothers. Mandating paid parental leave, subsidizing child care and encouraging businesses to provide benefits to part-time workers would go a long way towards helping mothers manage the so-called "work-life balance."

How has your career changed since becoming a mother?

The Wage Gap Between Moms, Other Working Women [NPR]
Why Working Mothers Make Us Angry [Forbes]
Working Mothers Pose Fewer Burdens For Employers Than Their Co-Workers [Forbes]

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Six-Month-Olds Understand Meaning of Words

At six months old, babies are often babbling incessantly but don't speak a lick of English yet. Even though babies might not be able to utter an intelligible word until they're around one-year-old, researchers have discovered that they still understand some of the words being spoken.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recruited 33 babies aged six to nine months and 50 kids aged 10-20 months and had them sit on their mother's laps in front of a computer screen. The babies were connected to an eye-tracking device as they were shown images on the screen. The mothers would say sentences to the babies that included the name of an object on the screen. Researchers were surprised to find that even six-month-old babies would stare at the correct object named by their mothers, dispelling the concept that babies don't pick up on the names of objects until nine months. The recognition of the objects was significantly sharpened in the 14-month-olds.

"Our guess is that a special human desire for social connection, on the part of parents and their infants, is an important component of early word learning," said Elika Bergelson, a graduate student involved in the study. The finding further reiterates the important of face-to-face interaction with infants. Parents who took part in the study were surprised to see that infants knew any other words besides "mommy," "daddy," and other words commonly emphasized to them. Infants correctly identified "hair," "nose," and "banana."

Do you find that your infant seems to recognize words you don't say everyday?

Babies catch words early [ScienceNews]
Photo Credit: Elika Bergenson

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jason Lee and Wife Expecting Baby No. 3

Actor Jason Lee (41) and his wife Ceren are expecting their third child together! A rep. for the My Name is Earl star confirmed the news: "I am happy to confirm that Jason Lee and his wife Ceren are expecting a son in June."

The newest addition will join the couple's daughter Casper (3 1/2) and Pilot Inspektor (8), Jason's son from a previous relationship. The couple were married in June 2008.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Baby No. 3 On The Way For Jason Lee [CelebrityBabyScoop]
Photo Credit: sagindie

Fetal Development - Week 8 (Video)

An ultrasound done at this stage will show your baby's fluttering heartbeat! He or she is between 0.56 and 0.8 inches from crown to rump, or about the size of a grape. Its liver is churning out large amounts of red blood cells, and will continue to until bone marrow forms and takes over this function.

Week eight marks the beginning of a very busy developmental stage: your baby's face continues to change as the ears, eyes and the tip of the nose appear; the intestines start to form in the umbilical cord; and its teeth begin to develop under the gums.