Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Robbie Williams To Be A Dad [CelebrityBabyScoop]

Two pregnancies won't stop Keli Smith from making Olympic push [SI]

Wean, baby, wean: The pressure to rest the breast [Today]

Kimberly Van Der Beek's Blog: I'm Now a Mom of Two! [People]

When Do Babies Stop Being So Darned Cute? Age 4 1/2, Scientists Say [Time]

Fewer Baby Boys Born In Hard Times, Study Shows [HuffPo]

Birth Mother Pain -- The Only Way Out is Through It: 7 Steps to Liberation [HuffPo]

Starting Early, and Young [NYTimes]

Bottled water may boost kids' tooth decay, dentists say [MSNBC]

In-Vitro Babies' Citizenship in Question

Despite the increasing number of people undergoing fertility treatments, the legal waters surrounding them are still incredibly murky. Stories of surrogate mothers keeping the fully developed baby even though it was another woman's embryo, or allowing sperm donors to establish paternity are just a couple of examples of the complex issues still being debated in the global conversation. The newest debate surrounds babies born in-vitro. You would think that if the mother is an American citizen, she should have no trouble claiming citizenship for her children. However, it seems the citizenship of your egg and sperm donor might be more important, the way the law currently stands.

Chicagoan Ellie Levi gave birth to her children overseas and went to the local embassy in Tel Aviv to apply for citizenship for her children. The immigration officer asked whether she had undergone fertility treatments to have her children, to which she answered "yes." The officer then told her that they would need proof that one of the donors was an American citizen. As a mother who was pregnant with and gave birth to her children, she was humiliated by this unforeseen hurdle. Regulations and privacy practices at most fertility clinics make learning the identity of donors at best difficult and many times impossible.

To make the situation worse, if she had been born a citizen of another country and simply gave birth to her children on American soil, they would be considered citizens. In fact, even if American parents adopt a baby from overseas, their new addition is eligible to become a citizen. In Levi's situation, the law states that a biological link to an American citizen must be established if a child is born overseas and wishes to obtain US citizenship.

Levi's situation isn't uncommon. Many women with dual citizenship in the United States and Israel travel to Israel for fertility treatments because it's free there. One Israel lawyer says that immigration officials are purposely asking single, older women with babies if they've had fertility treatments - a practice she says is profiling. Michele Koven Wolgel says: "There is an established process for U.S. parents who want to transfer citizenship to their adopted children, but no such avenue exists for parents whose children, conceived with someone else's eggs or sperm, emerged from their wombs."

Kristen Williamson, of the Federation for Immigration Reform explains the reasoning for the law: "The law exists for a very good reason: to avoid having people claim that other people's kids are their own for purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship."

Obviously, the law needs some type of change to include babies born to American citizens through fertility treatments. In the meantime, it seems that if you want your children born through IVF to have US citizenship you need to give birth on American soil.

Have you ever had to obtain citizenship for your child?

In vitro babies denied U.S. citizenship [USAToday]

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Breastfeeding Leads to Less Picky Eaters, Less Cancer in High-risk Mothers

Recent studies are further illuminating the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies. Some parents may be excited to learn that babies who are breastfed may grow up to be less picky eaters. Also, researchers discovered yet another link between breastfeeding mothers and a lower risk of developing cancer.

Researchers from the University of Illinois found evidence that babies who are elusively breastfed for the first six months of life are less likely to become picky eaters when they grow into preschoolers. Over 100 mothers took part in the study of the effects of a newborn's diet on later pickiness. Babies exclusively breastfed for six months were 81% less likely to reject foods as preschoolers, no matter how the food was prepared. Researchers believe this difference from formula feeders can be attributed to the varying taste of breast milk due to the mother's diet, exposing breastfed infants to a wider variety of flavors. In addition, researchers also discovered that babies fed solid foods before six months of age were twice as likely to reject foods as preschoolers. The researchers attribute this finding to the idea that introducing a food too early could lead to digestive issues, causing the child to reject the food when offered it again.

If you have a strong breast cancer history in your family, some recent findings might bolster your desire to breastfeed for at least a year. It was already known that among the average population, breastfeeding for a year reduces the risk of breast cancer by 4.3%. However, this new study found that women carrying the BRCA1 gene, which some describe as a "ticking time bomb" to developing cancer, were 32% less likely to develop cancer if they breastfed for at least one year. No effect was found among women carrying the BRCA2 gene. In addition, if the women carrying the BRCA1 gene breastfed for at least two years, their risk of cancer was cut in half. Almost 6,000 women were recruited for the study, some of which had already developed cancer.

These studies simply add more reasons to a very long list for women to breastfeed. Past studies have found that breastfed babies have a reduced risk of developing asthma, Type 2 diabetes and of becoming obese. Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancers, and postpartum depression.

How many total months of your life have you breastfed?

Breast-fed babies may have diet advantage [stltoday]
Breastfeeding for a year cuts cancer risk by a third: research [TelegraphUK]
Why breastfeeding is important []
Image: Allegory of Charity by Jacques Blanchard

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Alicia Silverstone: Cradling and Nursing Bear Blu [CelebrityBabyScoop]

What Not to Do: Awesomely Awkward Pregnancy Photos [iVillage]

"Mom, I'm Fat:" One Mother's Inspired Response to Her 7 Yr. Old [RachelSimmons]

Baby Girl on the Way for Mike Eli [People]

The Brain on Love [NYTimes]

Pregnant and on Prozac? Watch out for high blood pressure [GlobeandMail]

Beth Littleford Welcomes Daughter Halcyon Juna [People]

Jewel to Debut First Children's Book [People]

10 Tips For Photographing Your Baby in the Hospital [lilsugar]

...Lies They Tell You in the Cult of Hypnobirthing [Jezebel]

Alicia Silverstone Feeds Her Son with Her Mouth [Jezebel]

Child's Weight Loss Story in Vogue Ignites Debate

Approximately 30% of children in the United States are considered overweight and the number is rising. Parents of children who are overweight are left wondering how to approach the issue, something particularly difficult if parents are struggling with their own weight as well. Diet books, weight loss programs, exercise incentives - many options have been put on the table for parents of overweight children but there is still no consensus on how to help a child lose weight without creating some sort of permanent fixation on food, calories and weight loss. One mother has put this debate in the national spotlight by sharing her story in Vogue magazine, where she details the often extreme measures she went to in order to help her seven-year-old daughter lose weight.

Dara-Lynn Weiss is receiving quite a bit of backlash after telling her and her daughter's story. Six-year-old Bea came home from school crying one day after being called "fat" by a male classmate. The incident sent the mother in search of ways to help her daughter lose weight. She enlisted the help of a diet called Red Light, Green Light, a diet program for kids similar to weight watchers. Weiss admits that she had trouble approaching the issue because she had been through a variety of methods in attempting to manage her own weight in the past, including the use of appetite suppressants and laxatives. She describes vigilantly cutting Bea's calorie consumption through some methods that critics say are emotionally abusive. She says:
"I once reproachfully deprived Bea of her dinner after learning that her observation of French Heritage Day at school involved nearly 800 calories of Brie, filet mignon, baguette, and chocolate. I stopped letting her enjoy Pizza Fridays when she admitted to adding a corn salad as a side dish one week. I dressed down a Starbucks barista when he professed ignorance of the nutrition content of the kids' hot chocolate whose calories are listed as "120-210" on the menu board: Well, which is it? When he couldn't provide an answer, I dramatically grabbed the drink out of my daughter's hands, poured it into the garbage, and stormed out. 
I cringe when I recall the many times I had it out with Bea over a snack given to her by a friend's parent or caregiver … rather than direct my irritation at the grown-up, I often derided Bea for not refusing the inappropriate snack. And there have been many awkward moments at parties, when Bea has wanted to eat, say, both cookies and cake, and I've engaged in a heated public discussion about why she can't."
Nevertheless, Bea did lose 16 lbs by the deadline of the Vogue article, one year after she began the diet. She was rewarded for her hard work with new dresses but her experience is described as "bittersweet":
"For Bea, the achievement is bittersweet. When I ask her if she likes how she looks now, if she's proud of what she's accomplished, she says yes...Even so, the person she used to be still weighs on her. Tears of pain fill her eyes as she reflects on her yearlong journey. "That's still me," she says of her former self. "I'm not a different person just because I lost sixteen pounds." I protest that, indeed, she is different. At this moment, that fat girl is a thing of the past. A tear rolls down her beautiful cheek, past the glued-in feather. "Just because it's in the past," she says, "doesn't mean it didn't happen."
 Many pundits are outraged at Weiss's tactics and note that there is no mention of increasing her daughter's physical activity, only of cutting back on food. The author of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right, Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, has responded to calls about the girl's story with some dismay at the way her trademark diet is being portrayed here. She disagreed with Weiss's publically embarrassing her child and says, "The program has to be run by the child. and the truth is that making a child feel bad only causes problems. It's not going to help with weight loss, and it's definitely not going to help the child emotionally." The diet plan asks the parent and child team to come up with a code word to use in order to address diet concerns in a public setting.

Regardless of how Weiss has handled her child's extra pounds (which, by the way, she will soon be writing a book about), her story naturally leads parents of overweight children to ask what is the best way to help their child lose weight without causing any kind of trauma or dysfunctional relationship with food? Considering the constantly changing health crazes of adults in the United States, the answer for children is even less clear. It's unfortunate that our nationwide obsession with weight has inevitably led to even the youngest children becoming fixated on staying thin. However, leading children by example to follow healthy eating and exercise habits in addition to cultivating acceptance of a body that is healthy rather than skinny are the first steps in approaching the issue.

Have you struggled with creating a diet and/or exercise plan for your overweight child? 

Mom Puts 7-Year-Old on a Diet in the Worst Vogue Article Ever [Jezebel]
Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right [Dr. Dolgoff]
Putting 7-year-old on a diet: Responsible, or reprehensible? [Today]
 A Mom’s Reaction to Vogue’s Story About a ‘Fat’ 7-Year-Old Girl [NYMag]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Standards for Moms Historically Set Too High

Guilt is about as ubiquitous to motherhood as wonderment is to toddlers. It's no secret that no matter what choices you make as a mother someone, somewhere will disapprove and might feel the need to try to "correct" you. As a mother, you are constantly under pressure to conform to different parenting ideologies that seem to change with the wind. No matter how many mistakes it might feel like you're making, it might provide some comfort to know that these impossibly high standards set for mothers have been unattainable for over 50 years.

A researcher at the University of Warwick reveals that for over 50 years the tone of parenting manuals has been matter-of-fact, spelling out dire consequences if mothers did not follow their advice. Dr. Angela Davis completed 160 interviews with women of all ages from different backgrounds in order to gauge their experiences as mothers. They were asked about the advice they received from the parenting experts of their time through popular parenting manuals. Authors included were Frederick Truby King, John Bowlby, Donald Winnicott, Benjamin Spock, Penelope Leach and Gina Ford. Davis discovered that the advice delivered to mothers from the 1940s to today has changed many times but the tone has not. The advice has always been presented as the final word on raising children and warns of extreme consequences if not followed.

Davis completed the research for her new book, Modern Motherhood: Women and Family in England, 1945-2000. Her conclusion echoes the thoughts of many parents: "More than 50 years on and experts still cannot agree on the best way to approach motherhood, and all this conflicting advice just leaves women feeling confused and disillusioned."

Have you felt guilty due to the advice given in a parenting manual?

Research shows 50 years of motherhood manuals set standards too high for new mums [Warwick]

Monday, March 26, 2012

Featured Babies of the Week

Every week we feature the best baby photos sent to us through our Babies of the Week contest. We receive photos from parents from all over the world. Here are a few of our favorites:

Rhyder Serey was born in July, 2011 and loves the piano. Anytime his aunt plays he screeches with joy and bounces his legs to the beat. His proud mom says: "Ever since birth he has been able to hold his head up like a big boy and is so strong! He warms his grandma's heart and everyone else's too!"

Carson Murray was born in March of last year and is a big fan of the LSU Tigers. 

Greyson Bradford is the most amazing thing that's every happened to his dad. Dad says: "Just the joy in Greyson’s eyes when I walk in the door and smile at him makes everything worthwhile. Greyson is having some ear infection problems and will be getting tubes next week, but through it all he has remained the happiest child I have ever came across. Greyson loves clapping his hands, listening to himself sing and crawling as fast as he can."

Jeremiah was born last June and is mommy's miracle. Mom says: "I came up with the name Jeremiah while reading the bible looking for guidance and to keep faith that this would be a successful pregnancy. I came upon a verse in Jeremiah about knowing my child before he was even in my womb and immediately I said if it's a boy, Jeremiah would be his name. He has the most beautiful loving eyes and a heart melting smile with those dimples."

Zoe Ryne was born in January, 2011. Mom says: "She is special in so many ways but best of all she is the happiest baby, she smiles and laughs constantly and brings sunshine to our days!"

Thanks to all the parents who sent us their pictures. You can see the rest of the featured photos on the front page of BabyWeekly. To enter your baby picture for the Baby of the Week contest, please click here. Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, it may take many months before your baby's photo is featured.

Fetal Development - Week 20 (Video)

Your baby is now about 6.5 inches crown to rump (about 10 inches head to heel) and weighs approximately 10 ounces.

He or she is now big enough that you may be able to tell when he or she is awake or asleep based on the level of activity. You can also see a lot of movement in the ultrasound image. Looking at ultrasound images of other babies can help you figure out what you're looking at when you see your baby's image.