Category: Health

Napping Makes Your Baby Smarter

Posted on Jan 28, 2015 by 1 Comment

I always thought of naps as a break for moms. A time to regroup, a chance to catch up on things, or even a time to sit down and have a cup of coffee without someone tugging on my pant leg saying, “Mommy, mommy….”

Now a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that naps actually play an important role in the child’s development and ability to remember new skills!

While sleep is often linked to benefits in adults, until now it hasn’t been clear what, if any,  benefits it offers to babies. Findings conclude that napping actually helps preschoolers learn.

The research was based on two experiments that included a total of 216 babies who ranged in age from 6 months to 12 months old. The babies were taught how to take mittens off animal puppets. Then one group took a nap and the other did not. Babies were tested either four or 24 hours later to see if they remembered what they had learned.

They found the babies who had taken naps, after learning, remembered what they learned, especially after 24 hours. The evidence offered by these results suggests that an extended nap of 30 minutes or more, within 4 hour hours of learning, helps 6-12 month old babies to “retain their memories for new behaviors across a 4- and 24-hour delay.”

So next time you go to put your baby down for a nap and they fuss about it, remember it is for their own good. It’s more than a break for you, too. It’s helping them formulate long-term memories.

And if you think you might want to lie down for a nap for your own long-term memory, never mind. While naps do have a number of benefits for adults, we don’t need to nap in order to retain new things we’ve learned. But it will help you re-energize.

Photo credits: Jousha Blout

Link Round-up: Detox Water, Organization, DIY Projects, and More

Posted on Jan 20, 2015 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has detox water, linen closet organization hacks, DIYs, and more.

I Heart Naptime showed us how to make green enchilada soup in the slow cooker.

Confessions of an Overworked Mom shared a recipe for apple cinnamon detox water.

Glenrose Square taught us how to turn an old basket into a centerpiece.

link ru linen closet hacks
Seven Thirty Three shared some linen closet organization hacks.

Sunshine and Hurricanes shared the how-to behind a simple 15-minute Valentine’s Day wreath.

Design, Dining, and Diapers showed us how to create a mud room in the garage.

The Happy Housie shared five easy ways to warm up your space for winter.

Photo credit: I Heart Naptime and Seven Thirty Three

Mom Fired for Pumping Breast Milk at Work

Posted on Jan 19, 2015 by 1 Comment

It is stunning enough how many people want to act like breastfeeding is an unnatural and disgusting act, but now one Colorado mom was actually fired for pumping her breast milk while she was at work.

For moms who want to breastfeed but have a baby who won’t suckle, or who have to return to work when their maternity leave is over, this is what they have to do.

The woman who lost her job, Ashley Provino, worked for Big League Haircuts in Denver and has filed a federal lawsuit in which she claims that the owner of the business, Kyle Reed, “adamantly refused” her request to take breaks so she could pump every four hours.

Regular pumping is necessary to keep the milk supply coming in. But Reed told her that the whole concept was “gross” and refused to grant her permission for the regular breaks to pump milk for her infant son. Instead, he cut Provino’s hours until she never worked for more than four hours at any given time and then he finally fired her.

At this time Reed says the accusations are untrue. In fact he says it’s total fiction, and that “She has dollar signs in her eyes and thinks she’s going to win a million dollars,” but another complaint pertaining to the case filed by lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado has an additional worker saying she experienced a similar situation with Reed.

In an ACLU statement, cooperating attorney Paula Greisen said, “Discrimination against breastfeeding mothers in the workplace is not only illegal, it is also bad for Colorado families and businesses, because it forces women out of the workplace.”

Many medical experts recommend breastfeeding as the healthiest option for the first six months. Ashley Provino had a hard time getting her son to suckle, but she was committed to offering him the benefits of breast milk. So she turned to the pump, and ran headlong into another one of those people with a distorted view of what breastfeeding is. Sometimes I think the world has turned upside down when it comes to common sense.

For now, notices have been posted at the shop informing employees about workplace laws, along with training for workers on the issue, and the creation of a private area for nursing mothers.

Thankfully Provino took steps that will pave the way for other mom’s so they don’t have to experience the stress and inconvenience she suffered just to feed her baby.

Photo credits: wikipedia

Antibiotics Cautions and Your Child

Posted on Jan 16, 2015 by No Comments

When my kids were young, it amazed me how many other parents I knew would call the doctor and get antibiotics when their kids had a cold.

I’m not a doctor, but I know the cold is a virus and that antibiotics don’t make it go away. Over time, antibiotics have been over prescribed and now experts are talking about “antibiotic resistance” and even fear that a “post-antibiotic era” could be in our future.

One woman I knew experienced this first-hand about 10 years ago. Her 12-year-old son had a bacterial sinus infection, but he had taken so many antibiotics throughout his childhood, that the meds they prescribed didn’t touch his sinus infection.

They tried for months to get it under control, and to make the long story short, the infection spread and endangered his brain. Doctors had to do surgery to get it under control.

Antibiotic resistance is more common in the developed world, but it is now found in countries like India, too. Right now, that country is facing a superbug epidemic and they are having trouble getting it under control.

To put it in perspective, more than 58,000 infants died last year in India after being born with bacterial infections which were resistant to most antibiotics.

No one wants their child to be sick, but remember that antibiotics do nothing for viruses. And using antibiotics when they are not needed, can actually cause trouble later when they are needed.

Antibiotics usually don’t work against common ailments like colds, flu, bronchitis, or sinus infections (unless is it a bacterial sinus infection). Even ear infections are often the result of a virus, and in that case doctors can only offer treatment of the symptoms like a pain reliever to reduce pain and fever.

Many sore throats don’t require antibiotics either. Strep throat is an exception because it is a bacterial infection and requires antibiotics, but your child should have a test to confirm that it is strep.

When my kids were younger, parents would ask for antibiotics and doctors would prescribe them. Now it is time for parents to ask, do my kids really need antibiotics?

Photo credits: TheGreenAppleHome

Study Shows Nail Polish Can Lower IQ in Unborn

Posted on Jan 15, 2015 by No Comments

Many of us enjoy pampering ourselves with a manicure. It’s fun just to relax and have someone else take care of us, and when we walk out with those shiny, colorful nails we feel pretty.

Now a study shows that the chemicals found in nail polish as well as other cosmetics, called phthalates, may potentially be hazardous to the unborn.

The study which was conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and published in the online journal PLOS ONE linked use of nail polish during pregnancy to lower IQ in children.

Preliminary results showed the unborn children exposed to elevated levels of two common chemicals used around the home, di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), had IQ scores more than six points lower, at age 7, than other kids who were exposed to lower levels.

When I read the results I wondered exactly how much exposure was required to reach “elevated levels.”

For this study, researchers studied the mothers-to-be’s urine to measure levels of four phthalates. Then when the children were born and reached age 7, the researches tested their IQs. Results “showed significant decrements in IQ associated with two specific phthalates.”

The moms with levels in the top 25 percent had children with IQs up to 6-8 times lower than children born to women who were in the lowest 25 percent of exposure to phthalates. That’s a big difference. In fact it was substantial enough that it even took the researchers by surprise.

While these chemicals are found in nail polishes, they are not the only culprit. These chemical compounds are used to keep products flexible.

Along with nail polish they are used in making cosmetics like soap, shampoo, perfume, hair spray, as well as plastic toys, shower curtains, wallpaper, plastic wrap, etc. They are listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

More research is needed to understand exactly how the phthalates are connected to the impact on IQ. Speculation is that phthalates may function like endocrine disrupters to the mother’s thyroid hormone which is necessary in the development of a child’s brain.

At this time, the authors of the study say, “These findings are important to inform policy makers of the potentially harmful effects of this class of chemicals.”

Photo credits: LaFemme5278

Breastfeeding Could Save Millions in Healthcare Costs

Posted on Jan 14, 2015 by 2 Comments

We live in times when many in our culture lean toward thinking of breastfeeding as something immodest or even disgusting. That mindset isn’t just here, but also thriving across the pond.

In fact, I just read an article regarding the Princess Michael of Kent calling it the “dreadful practice of breastfeeding” and that her nanny said it was “disgusting.” Yet, UK researches say that if more women breastfed for at least the first four months that healthcare cost savings could be significant, not to mention beneficial to both mother and baby.

Subhash Pokhrel, a health economist at Brunel University in London who led the study said, “Studies show that there is often an unsympathetic public attitude to breastfeeding outside of the home, an acceptance of formula feeding as a normal and safe way to feed babies, and a lack of expertise and experience of breastfeeding among health service staff.”

Results of this recent study point out several health benefits for both mother and baby along with the financial savings that could be realized when it comes to breastfeeding.

To start, previous studies have shown stomach, respiratory, and eye problems being more common in bottle-fed babies, and this study suggests that if 75 percent of the babies in British neonatal units were breastfed (rather than the current 25 percent) it could save the country’s healthcare system the equivalent of $9.6 million on a serious intestinal problem called necrotizing enterocolitis, which affect premature babies.

The benefits of breastfeeding don’t just affect childhood health, either. They reach into the future and include the estimated lifetime costs of treating maternal breast cancer which adds up to another $1.5 billion.

The study suggests that increasing breastfeeding rates from 7 to 21 percent at four months could save $3.14 million per year in hospitalizations and $471,250 in general practitioner costs for ear infections.

And by doubling the number of mothers who breastfed for 7 to 18 months, the researchers calculated that the UK would save $49 million in maternal breast cancer costs.

With all this crunching of numbers in the UK, I can’t help but think of Kate Middleton’s example. She breastfed Prince George and now is expecting her second baby. If she breastfeeds again, the popular royal may encourage others to do the same.

Statistics show the number of women who breastfeed in the UK has increased over the last 20 years from 62 percent to 81 percent, but only half of them breastfeed after the six week mark.

Photo credits: Thomas Widman

What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer During Pregnancy

Posted on Jan 9, 2015 by 1 Comment

When it comes to breast cancer, our biggest risk factor is being a woman. We can’t do anything about that risk factor, but some risk factors are preventable.

One of those that some people aren’t aware of is related to how old we are when we become a mom for the first time. Those of advanced maternal age have an increased risk for breast cancer because there’s a greater chance cancer cells are present and the increased risk is because there’s a chance such cells will respond to the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy.

So what is advanced maternal age for a first time mom? You probably won’t believe it. It’s 30 or older. Research has shown that having your first child by age 24 or younger can actually reduce your lifetime breast cancer risk.

The reason behind this is that two-thirds of breast cancers are estrogen positive which means they grow during pregnancy. The longer we wait to have our first baby, the higher chance we run of having cancer cells present that will respond to the existing gestational estrogen boost present during pregnancy.

It’s not that pregnancy after 30 causes cancer, it’s more like it excites cancer cells already present…if they are present.

With that said, it is important to note that breast cancer during pregnancy is rare. And while breast cancer during pregnancy may grow quickly, it is treatable if detected early. The thing that makes this a little tricky is that our breasts change so much during pregnancy that it is easy to dismiss a lump as part of that change.

Treatment options will depend on varying factors from the size of the tumor, its location, whether or not the cancer has spread, and how far along you are in the pregnancy.

Even during pregnancy you should continue your breast self-exam to stay tuned in to the changes your body is going through. The breasts become denser, but if you are concerned with something you find it is important to talk to your doctor about it.

Photo credits: mahalie stackpole

Autism Risk 23 Percent Higher in C-section Babies

Posted on Jan 2, 2015 by 1 Comment

Last year a study linked autism to induced labor. That study reported a 35% increased risk for boys born through induction and augmented labor.

Now a new study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry says that babies born via C-section run a 23% higher risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Before you panic, it’s important to add that no definitive connection has been established between the two. Instead, the results lead to another theory. It suggests that because elective C-sections are scheduled weeks before the mother’s actual due date, it deprives the baby of the last few weeks of brain development.

Another guess is that C-section babies are not exposed to the same gut flora as babies who are born vaginally and that this difference may factor in a child’s psychological development. In the meantime, what’s an expectant mom supposed to do?

Experts are saying there is no need to panic and I agree, because while the study suggests there is a link, it really isn’t clear what that link is. In other words, at this point, there really isn’t anything conclusive for us to base our decisions on.

I’m not saying it should be dismissed without further research, however the findings are incomplete and more research is needed.

If this latest study concerns you, go to your OBGYN and discuss your birthing options. If your doctor is talking about caesarian section, ask for more information. While the number of C-section deliveries is high these days, new guidelines were put in place in March 2014 to prevent unnecessary procedures.

A C-section can be a life-saving procedure for both the mom and the baby, and there are many reasons why it might be recommended. However, if your situation doesn’t include one of these reasons, it’s time to revisit your options and let your doctor know your concerns.

Photo credits: wikipedia

Do You Know If Your Kids Are Overweight?

Posted on Dec 31, 2014 by No Comments

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend. We chit-chatted about life and the conversation turned to what we were eating and how we try to make healthier choices and avoid overeating.

This friend is the parent of two teens, and she admitted she is angry with herself for letting her daughter get so overweight. The 15-year-old should weigh about 125 pounds but is tipping the scale at 200 pounds. My friend looked at me and said, “How did I let this happen?”

The thing is, I’ve seen it happening. When she was 20 pounds overweight, her mother noticed, but she didn’t want to make a big deal out of it for fear she would develop an eating disorder. At the time, she said it wasn’t so bad. The thing is that the weight kept coming on.

Recently when clothes shopping, my friend came against the hard realization that her daughter’s waist was now the largest in the house, even surpassing her father who needs to lose some weight. The really sad thing is my friend is not alone.

Study Shows Parents Unaware of Unhealthy Weight in Kids

A recent study took a look at parents between 1988 and 2010 and how many of them correctly identified whether or not their children were overweight or obese. The results show that during that time, parent’s awareness of a problem gradually dropped.

Little by little, parents no longer correctly identified when their child crossed over to an unhealthy weight. Therein is the real problem. It’s not just a self-esteem or appearance issue. It becomes a health issue.

“They are at significantly increased risk of a number of diseases as they grow older, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and cancer.” — Senior author Dr. Jian Zhang of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro

In this study, the parents had been asked if their child was overweight, underweight, just about the right weight, or they didn’t know. Could you answer that question?

My friend’s daughter is no longer just overweight. She has crossed into the obese category and as a teen, she’s not happy about it. The weight gain started when she was about 11, and it isn’t due to a medical problem. It’s related to food choices and quantity.

The study shows that from 1988 to 1994 78% of the parents of an overweight boy and 61% percent of parents with an overweight daughter thought their child was about the right weight. By 2005 to 2010 those percentages rose to 83% for sons and 78% for daughters.

That lack of awareness is also found in the kids themselves, and often overweight adults don’t see themselves as overweight either.

The thought is that parents who perceive their kids’ weight more realistically will be more ready to make the healthy changes necessary to help change their child’s behavior, but many don’t trust in growth charts or classify their child as “big boned” to make and excuse for the extra weight.

If that’s the case, maybe we should go to the jiggle test. Have the child jump up and down and if their belly jiggles there’s a good chance they are overweight.

Truthfully, if you aren’t sure whether or not your child is overweight or obese, talk to you doctor. It’s more than a matter of opinion, and their health isn’t something you want to mess around with.

Photo credits: wikimedia.org