Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Furgee the chug teaches baby Roen to crawl [YouTube]

Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath? [NYTimes]

Bright children should start school at six, says academic [TheTelegraph]

"Won't Back Down" Trailer [CelebrityGossip]

Many Parents of Kids With Autism Don't Put Faith in Pediatricians [Yahoo]

Schizophrenia Risk In Kids Associated With Mothers' Gluten Antibodies [MNT]

Empowering the Body to Fix Its Parts [ScientificAmerican]

Naturally Increasing Breastmilk Production

Many breastfeeding women will discover at one time or another that they aren't producing enough milk, which can be attributed to a variety of causes including not breastfeeding often enough, stress, fatigue, lifestyle choices, medications, herbs and insufficient latching. Here we troubleshoot the possible causes and provide natural solutions.  

Physically increasing production follows the rules of supply and demand. The more your baby demands, the more your breasts will produce. This might not always go according to plan for other reasons, so don’t feel bad if it doesn't work for you. In general, a newborn should be latching on as soon as she or he is born and then every 1-4 hours. Even if you aren't producing enough milk right away, the sucking of your baby will still send the signal to your breasts to produce more milk. An empty breast will produce more milk than a semi-full one so prolong feedings on each breast. This practice also ensures your baby receives the creamy hind milk which has the highest concentration of fat. Using a breast pump between feedings can help increase your supply as well.

If you’re nursing every 1-4 hours but you’re not producing enough milk then it is time to look more closely at what’s being put into your body. Smoking cigarettes can easily deplete the supply of breast milk. If you’re a smoker try to cut down or quit completely. Dehydration can also cause a reduction in breast milk production. Look at any medications you're taking, including birth control and make sure they are not affecting your supply. Birth control has been found to cause supply issues in some cases. It might be beneficial to practice natural family planning until you are ready to wean or try using the “mini pill” by talking to your doctor. Some women claim that certain foods help increase breast milk production like oatmeal, alfalfa or brewer’s yeast (in supplement form), however these claims have not been scientifically proven.

Herbs might be causing you to not produce enough milk and there are other herbs you can take to help increase your supply. Avoid ingesting ephedra, aloe vera rind, comfrey, coltsfoot, buckthorn, black cohosh, sage, mint, parsley, wintergreen, cascara sagrada, rhubarb, senna, uva ursi, licorice, kava kava, and dong quai . If you are ingesting any of these herbs, it would be wise to stop until your child is no longer breastfeeding. The herbs that can help improve your supply are fennel, fenugreek, cinnamon, dill, garlic, nettles, raspberry leaf, goat’s rue, milk thistle, blessed thistle and spirulina. Fenugreek in particular has been heralded in helping to increase supply and it's effects can be felt 72 hours after taking it. However, asthmatic mothers might be agitated by this herb and some women have experienced unpleasant side-effects such as diarrhea from fenugreek. Tea is sold in stores with some of these herbs as ingredients, be sure to read the ingredients of any herbal tea carefully before purchasing. If you don’t know what something is, don’t buy it until you know. Tea can also be made using crushed fennel seeds and hot water. Consult your doctor before taking any herbs.

A mother will discover that breast milk production is just like anything in life - the healthier she is, the easier it will be. A healthy lifestyle includes a diet in whole foods, light exercise, rest and relaxation. Light exercise relieves stress and leaves the mother feeling much happier. Walking, hiking, yoga and aerobics are all examples of light exercise. Most new mothers probably aren’t getting enough rest. If possible, try to find someone to watch the baby while you get some much-needed shut-eye. Relaxation includes removing stressors from your life. Obviously, not all stressors will just magically go away but there are some that we learn to live with that can done away with at any moment. Write down all your stressors every day for a week and find out what’s always nagging at you. If there are bills that need to paid, make a sure-fire plan to pay them. A messy house can stress you out more than you realize, set some time aside for the whole family to help clean or hire a maid if you are able. Whatever stressor is nagging you, if you can’t fix it right now, make a plan to fix it in the future. If you are stressing because of your insufficient breast milk supply, stop right there, your stress only makes it worse. For the stressors that are here to stay, engaging in a 5-30 minute meditation or deep breathing exercise will help to promote calm and clear-thinking. 

Be aware of tight clothing or pressure placed on the breasts. Prolonged pressure on the breasts can reduce supply. So if you are sleeping on your stomach, wearing a sling that puts pressure on your breast, or wearing a bra that is very tight, make adjustments as needed.

If after looking over your feeding frequency, medications, herbs and stress you still aren’t producing enough milk, it would be wise to contact a lactation consultant. La Leche League is a wonderful organization with a plethora of resources and a network of consultants that are dedicated to helping women breastfeed. 

Have you experienced any supply issues?

How often should I nurse my baby? [lll]
Re: What is fenugreek? How can it help me make milk? [breastfeeding]
Tips to Increase Your Milk Supply [breastfeedingbasics]
Breast Milk Production [SutterHealth]
How Breasts Make Milk [drugs]
Breastfeeding - medicines and drugs [cyh]
Exercise and Breastfeeding [kellymom]

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Grant Enables Children to Receive Ground-breaking Treatment for Hearing Loss

Many animals can recover from hearing loss through their own devices, but humans are one of the few that are unable to regenerate important components of the ear canal. Without the ability to heal after losing what is one of the most important senses for everyday living, humans have been clamoring to discover a way to reverse hearing loss. One particularly promising avenue has been the use of stem cells and thanks to the Newborn Possibilities Program, children who may have never had a chance to receive treatment for hearing loss are being provided with an opportunity that could change their life forever. 

The Memorial Hermann Foundation in Houston, Texas is participating in the first ever FDA-regulated trial using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood to help regenerate the tiny hairs found in the inner ear that are essential for hearing. The ten children between the ages of six weeks and 18 months that are participating in the study are suffering from sensorineural hearing loss, acquired after birth. The only reason they are able to participate is because their parents banked their umbilical cord blood when they were born, but that alone doesn't guarantee their ability to take part. The Newborn Possibilities Program (NPP) was created by Cord Blood Registry to provide funding for families to travel to clinical trials experimenting with the use of stem cells to heal conditions such as traumatic brain injury and hearing loss. Thanks to their generous contribution, these 10 families will be able to repeatedly travel to Houston so their children will have a chance to repair their hearing.

"This study is exciting because it might offer a non-surgical option for some children with profound loss. What's more, this is the first treatment with the potential to restore hearing," says Linda Baumgartner, MS, CCC-SLP, Auditory-Verbal Therapist, and a co-investigator for the study. "Currently, the only treatment options for sensorineural hearing loss are hearing aids or cochlear implants. We hope that this study will open avenues to additional treatment options for hearing loss in children," says Dr. Samer Fakhi, Principal Investigator of the study. Once the children are infused with their own cord blood, follow up testing will be completed one month, six  months and one year after treatment. Animal studies suggest that stem cells could provide the key to reversing hearing loss. 

Are you planning to bank your child's cord blood?

Newborn Possibilities Fund Awards Grant to Memorial Hermann Foundation to Support Groundbreaking Pediatric Research [PRNewswire]

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Coolest Parents Ever Recreate Beastie Boys "Sabotage" Video [theFrisky]

India offers 24-hour daycare service [MSNBC]

10 procedures to think twice about during your pregnancy [ConsumerReports]

Simon Helberg & Jocelyn Towne Welcome First Child: Adeline [CelebrityBabyScoop]

Introducing Your Child To Someone Special [parenting]

Alex Meraz & Wife Welcome Baby No. 2: Talus Alexander [CelebrityBabyScoop]

In Mensa or not, this tot proves she's still a tot [MSNBC]

Baby Instincts (Part 1)

While other animals are up walking around shortly after they are born, newborn babies can only coo and cry. Nevertheless, don't be fooled by their apparent helplessness, because a baby's cry can reach up to 97 decimals (equivalent to a pneumatic drill)! Scientists are finding that that's not the only skill your baby is naturally born with: babies can read emotions in faces and music and feel complex emotions of their own. They naturally dance to the beat and remember sounds from the womb. It makes you wonder what else we don’t know about babies or what babies might already know about us.

It’s possible that babies start learning to communicate in the womb. A study of pregnant women who read Dr. Seuss, found their babies preferred the same book after being born. The study had the newborns choose a non-nutritive sucking device that triggered a particular audio. They always chose the audio reading of the same Dr. Seuss story they were read in the womb. Another bi-product of hearing sounds in the womb is a preference for women's voices, particularly the mother’s. If a man and woman both talk at the same time out of view of a newborn, researchers have found that the newborn will always turn to look at the female.

Babies are born sensitive to the emotions of others through observing facial expressions. A study called the “visual cliff” put babies on a sheet of glass that was elevated on two tiers, creating a visual mirage of a cliff in the middle. The mothers were asked to coax the babies over the visual cliff towards a toy. When mothers exhibited fear, their infants wouldn’t crawl over the cliff and when mothers showed joy, they were able to coax their infants over the cliff about two-thirds of the time. Apparently, sometimes babies also instinctively sense a possible fall. Another study of babies interacting with their mothers, in which the mothers acted normal then suddenly became emotionless, eventually caused the babies to be distressed. The mother’s indifferent face caused some babies to try to get their mother’s attention and finally led to indifference in certain infants.

Babies react to emotions even in music. Babies at approximately three months of age don’t seem to be able to differentiate between sad and happy music but by five to seven months a study revealed that they prefer happy music over sad. The study had babies stare at a picture while they played music and when the baby looked away, the music would stop. They notably stared longer for the happy music. Babies also have a strong sense of rhythm. They are born able to keep track of complex rhythms, ones that as adults we may not be able to keep up with unless culturally exposed to them. In a study of babies listening to Balkan music, they were able to pick up errors that adults were not able to. By one year of age, however, they become less flexible with their sense of rhythm.

A baby’s complexity is not limited to a sense of rhythm - they also feel complex emotions like jealousy. By about three months of age, you might notice your baby striving to get your attention. A study found out what happens when researchers spoke with mothers while purposely excluding the baby. Some babies became agitated, kicking their legs and screaming if no attention was given. They also smiled less and turned away. When mothers showed love to another infant, most babies became very distressed. When mothers interacted with researchers three out of 24 babies became upset, but when it was with another baby, 13 out of 24 babies became upset.

It's incredible to realize how emotionally sensitive an infant really is, but we can use this understanding to better care for our babies. Perhaps the music you listened to while pregnant is just what the baby needs to feel calm, and maybe for a little Mozart in the making, you need to expose the child to complex rhythms earl on. Maybe the reason the baby is upset is because someone else is sad or because you are giving more attention to someone else. Whatever the case, these findings are bringing us closer and closer to finding out what we already knew: babies are amazing!

Were you surprised to see any of these traits in your baby?

The Baby Lab [TheNewAmericaFoundation]
Programme 1 - Born to Survive [BBC]
Babies can recognise emotion in faces [AskBaby]
Infants distinguish sad music [AskBaby]
Western Babies Got Rhythm, but They Unlearn It, Study Says [NationalGeographic]
Babies Use Rhythms to Adapt to Their Culture, Study Hints [NationalGeographic]
Babies 'show jealousy' by three months [AskBaby]
Development of Prosocial Behavior and Empathy In the Hand that Rocks the Cradle [WCF]
The Competence of Babies [theAtlantic]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Babies Who Learn Music Gain Important Skills

What's the best age to start learning music? 5 years-old? 10? 15? A new study reveals that the best age to start learning music is before a child even turns one. Obviously, a child is not going to become Mozart by the age of two, but a new study reveals that babies who learn to play music gain some invaluable benefits.

Researchers from Ontario's McMaster University recruited a group of one-year-olds and their parents to study music together for six months. They were split into two groups - one played with toys while listening to music and the other learned to play instruments and sing songs. Researchers found that babies who actually studied playing music developed more sophisticated reactions to music they listened to, which wasn't surprising. However, the interactive group also developed better communication skills, smiled more, were easier to soothe and remained more calm when faced with unfamiliar situations.

Studies have found similar benefits for adults who study instruments and playing music, however, this study is the first to look at babies learning to play music. Listening to music has calming benefits but actually playing music seems to provide many cognitive benefits for babies and adults.

Does your baby like to sing or play instruments?

Music benefits babies' brains [TorontoSun]

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky Welcome a Girl!

Avengers star Chris Hemsworth and actress Elsa Pataky have welcomed their first child to the world! India Rose arrived on May 11th in London. The first-time dad says of the baby's name: "We love the country and love the name."

The couple were married in 2010.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

What do you think of the name India Rose?

Chris Hemsworth & Elsa Pataky Welcome First Child: India [CelebrityBabyScoop]

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:

Sean was born in May, 2011. Mom says, "He is special in so many ways but to name a few he is happy nearly all day long! He likes to read books with Mommy and loves to practice talking with Daddy. He is the happiest baby even in the middle of the night! He always smiles first thing in the morning and has already learned how to give kisses!"

Shelby Genevieve was born in February, 2011, weighing 5 lbs., 10 oz. Mom says, "My daughter is special because she is my angel. She is 7 months old now and is feeding herself (with a little help from mom). She loves talking and meeting new people. She loves the outdoors, it's her favorite place to be."

Shazia was born last July. Mom says she always smiles, even if she's in pain, she smiles as she cries. Mom also says: "I don’t know how express it but she is my butterfly."

Alexander is six weeks old in this picture. Mom says, "He is special because he was born at 34 weeks and spent 4 weeks in the NICU. I was hospitalized for 2 weeks before he was born. They induced me because he was not growing well inside of me. Alexander has mild IUGR. He is in the 25th percentile for his adjusted age and is doing very well. He was born 3 lbs 10 oz and is now 7 lbs 9 oz! He likes to eat! The really special part about his story is that I was told I had gestational diabetes. I questioned the results and was tested 2 more times both negative. My doctor told me to keep the apt for the growth sonogram just in case. It was this sonogram(would not have been done routinely) that found the issue with blood flow and my placenta that may have saved his life."

Londynn was born in October. Mom says, "What makes my daughter special to me and my family is that she was born on her great grandmother's birthday. She is the only person in the entire family to share a birthday with my grandmother. My grandfather passed away early this year and did not have the opportunity to meet my newest family addition. While pregnant I said that if she were born on my grandmother's birthday that meant my grandfather was watching over us. Well, she was, so I believe he is watching over us making her extra special."
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.