Category: Health

Autism May Begin During the Second Trimester

Posted on Nov 21, 2014 by No Comments

Autism is on the rise. One in eight children has been diagnosed with some degree of it.

No one has been able to say exactly what causes autism spectrum disorders and that inability to figure out the source of the problem has caused all kinds of battles to rage. Do vaccines cause it? Is it genetics? Is it all of the toxins and pollutants we absorb every day?

New research suggests that autism starts with genes that don’t form properly in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, and therefore the biggest factor may indeed be genes.

Researchers have been studying the brain structure of children with autism who died. They’ve found that the differences between a child without autism and a child with autism were obvious on the genetic, as well as the physical, level.

The changes look like patches of cells that didn’t develop correctly deep in the brain. The depth of these abnormalities help researchers figure out when the problems started to occur.

They’ve learned a lot but there is still a lot they don’t know. Does something happen during pregnancy to trigger it? There is a need for more research.

Of course, researchers say that this proves that there is no connection between vaccines and autism. You’ll find lots of information on the other side of that argument as well.

It’s important to remember that this research is in beginning stages and there’s no telling how it’s going to change as time goes on. As always, do your research and come to your own conclusions about what’s best for your child.

photo credit: bengrey via photopin cc

November Is Prematurity Awareness Month

Posted on Nov 19, 2014 by No Comments

I just learned November is Prematurity Awareness Month with November 17 being World Prematurity Awareness Day.

I’m not big on the idea of having months set aside for causes because there are so many worthy causes that usually what happens is that the message ends up being lost with so many vying for attention.

For instance, November is also “Adopt a Senior Pet Month,” “National Adoption Month,” “National Family Caregivers Month,” and that just a few from a long list of worthy causes that claim November as their month.

They are all important, but really prematurity is worth talking about whether it is November or not because it remains the number one cause of newborn mortality in the United States.

Since this month is suppose to be about awareness, it’s important to note that 1 in 8 babies in the U.S. are born too early. In some cases it’s not preventable, but moms can reduce their risk of preterm birth by making some changes to their behavior.

For instance, moms-to-be should stop smoking and avoid the use of alcohol or drugs.

While that might seem like a no-brainer, taking care of yourself in general can help make a difference. This includes getting regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy, eating healthy, taking prenatal vitamins, and controlling diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

While these things all smack of common sense, in general staying healthy while pregnant can reduce the risk of a preterm birth. So that should be a mom-to-be’s goal

Prematurity Awareness Month is the brainchild of the March of Dimes. Their goal is to focus the nation’s attention on premature birth and to educate the public.

Be sure to visit their website to see how your state rates when it comes to premature births. They along with their partner organizations around the world are asking everyone to help spread the word on the serious problem of premature birth and what can be done to help prevent it.

Photo credits: wikimedia

Measles Making a Comeback in the U.S.

Posted on Nov 17, 2014 by 1 Comment

When I was growing up, I remember missing my cousin’s wedding because I had the measles. I grew up thinking of it as a childhood disease everyone eventually caught, and in this day of vaccinations, most of us don’t know how serious it can really be. I remember having the rash and not feeling well, but for me the overpowering memory is that I had to miss the wedding.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Back when I was a kid I didn’t realize it was a respiratory disease which spreads through coughing and sneezing. That’s because the thing that stood out to me was the rash.

The good news is that it is completely preventable with today’s vaccines. The bad news is that it’s making a comeback here in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), from January 1 to October 31 this year there have been 603 documented cases of measles which were spread out over 22 states. This is the highest number since 1994.

So what do you think is the cause behind this? Some want to point to the people who have decided not to vaccinate their children, but they’ve been around since 1994 so that is not likely the cause.

The real problem is that measles are still a real problem in many other countries. According to a recent paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 20 million people still get measles each year, and of those 145,700 died in 2013. So Americans traveling should be sure to update their vaccinations.

Too bad we can’t do the same with the influx of undocumented people coming into the country. With them come measles and other painful and fatal diseases we’ve had under control for decades. With high vaccination rates and infection control procedures in place, this disease can be kept in check here in the U.S.

Symptoms of measles itself are inconvenient and uncomfortable and include fever, runny nose, red eyes, sore throat, and of course the rash. The real problem is that about three out of 10 people who get measles develop complications which can include pneumonia, ear infections, or diarrhea.

The worst side effect of measles can be encephalitis which can lead to deafness, cognitive delays, and lasting neurological problems. These complications are more common in adults than young kids, but why risk it if you can vaccinate against it?

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New Safe Sex Recommendations for Teens

Posted on Nov 14, 2014 by No Comments

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has new recommendations for the way teens practice safe sex.

It’s just kind of sad to me that pediatric experts have to have recommendations for safe sex, and leads to the question of what that term really means. I use to think it meant ways to prevent STDs, but in this case what they are talking about is birth control to more effectively prevent teen pregnancy.

The AAP previously recommended birth control pills and condoms, but now suggests the use of IUDs and other long-term contraceptive devices instead.

These recommendations line up with the current recommendations made by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the reason behind them is that oral contraceptives have shown to be the least effective option for adolescents because they tend to not be consistent in taking them.

The problem is the cost. Birth control pills can cost anywhere from $15 to $50 a month while an IUD, which can provide birth control for up to 12 years, can range in cost from $500 to $1,000.

The IUD is the least expensive, long-term birth control option that is reversible and could cut pregnancy rates by almost 80 percent for sexually active teens.

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that educating teen girls about all forms of contraception and then providing them for free is the way to really curtail unwanted pregnancies.

I agree that would probably work, but it leads to the question of who will pay for free medical treatment. We already see how well that doesn’t work in our attempt to provide Affordable Care.

Statistics show that teen pregnancy has declined almost continuously for the last two decades with a 51 percent decline between 1990 and 2010. These numbers include live births as well as pregnancies terminated through abortion or miscarriage.

This improvement is attributed to an increased number of adolescents waiting to have sex as well as the increased use of contraceptives. That sounds like a sensible approach that’s working, doesn’t it?

Photo credits: wikimedia

One in 68 Kids Diagnosed with Autism

Posted on Nov 11, 2014 by 1 Comment

What causes autism is a debated issue. Some think it’s an environmental issue involving exposure to pollution, some household chemicals, and other environmental factors. Many also think it is directly linked to vaccinations.

I have friends in both camps, and I’ve thought it could be both. However, at this time no one can point to a specific, provable cause of what is now commonly known as autism spectrum disorders. What we do know is that currently one in 68 8-year-old children in the U.S. have an autism spectrum disorder! Those numbers really shine a light on how many kids and families are dealing with this, and makes one wonder why we don’t have definite answers to the cause.

It turns out that one new study that looks directly at the brain might provide some answers but also more questions.

Researchers studied brain samples of autistic children who died young, and they found differences on the genetic level and in the physical structure of the brain. They concluded that autism starts with disrupted genes that somehow interfere with brain development. That means it happens in the womb.

“The changes look like patches of arrested development deep in the brain.” — Eric Courchesne of the University of California, San Diego’s Autism Center of Excellence

Eric Courchesne told NBC News that there are “too many cells” and that the cells have not developed properly. “Brain cells are there but they haven’t changed into the kind of cell they are supposed to be. It’s a failure of early formation.”

These findings support the theory that genetic changes leading to autism occur in the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

While this highlights the genetics of autism, it still doesn’t tell us why it happens. However, IF it starts during pregnancy, then it couldn’t be linked to vaccinations. That doesn’t jive with much of the uncorroborated experiences recorded by parents and others.

I’m afraid we are still left with a ton of questions and looking for help. Autism Speaks is currently funding a similar study in South Carolina.

Photo credits: wikipedia

Could Diastis Recti Be the Reason for that Tummy Bulge?

Posted on Nov 10, 2014 by 1 Comment

One of the most troubling issues when it comes to getting back your body after baby is the tummy bulge. It can literally hang around for the rest of your life — especially if you’ve had more than one baby.

My baby is ten years old and I have dealt with that paunch since she was born even though I am a size 6/8. It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, maybe it does.

Diastis Recti is a separation of the abdominal muscle into right and left halves. The muscle wall just gets all stretched out right down the middle of your abdomen. It isn’t dangerous but it can cause backaches and, of course, that tummy. You’d think that just doing a lot of crunches would handle it but it actually just makes the problem worse.

One of the things that I did was to get an old fashioned, heavy duty corset. It helps me hold my stomach muscles together and gives them a chance to heal. I have been wearing mine for about two months and there’s a definite difference. It’s also nice because it does make my clothes look (and fit) better.

Don’t get a cheap, flimsy one if you decide to do this. It won’t work because there isn’t enough support.

One thing that you can do right away is to pull your stomach in and keep it tight as much as possible. Keeping it in it’s natural position (together) helps it to strengthen and heal.

There is some really good information about what it is and how to fix it on Daily Hiit.

photo credit: Stf.O via photopin cc

That Heartbreaking Parenting Moment When You Know…

Posted on Nov 5, 2014 by 1 Comment

There is always that heartbreaking parenting moment when you know that there has been a shift in the universe and the kids that you took care of and protected are increasingly close to doing the same for you.

The first time it happened to me was when I had to ask one of my children to get something for me off of the top shelf. I am in good shape but putting my knee on the counter and hoisting myself up to reach something on the top of the cabinet is getting to be a bit much. Plus, once I am up there I have to get down — an activity that holds its own perils.

Lately it has been more along the lines of my kids reminding me of appointments, asking me if I have remembered to eat, and things like that. It’s crazy.

I don’t want to go there. Not yet.

I remember the first time I was driving with my mom in the car and had to stop fast. You know what happened, right? My right arm snapped out to protect her from the dashboard. We looked at each other in horror. The damage had been done ripple in the universe was unstoppable. I was on my way to becoming the parent and she the child.

It crept up on us slowly but the last six months of her life she lived with me and I took care of her and dealt with her. She was childish and difficult those last few months and it was obvious who was doing the parenting.

I don’t look forward to those days but I suppose, to some extent at least, it is a natural progression. It gets easier to let others take on responsibilities that I would have fought to keep even five years ago.

Have you experienced this with a parent?

photo credit: TheArches via photopin cc

Link Round-up: Baby Shower Decorations, Turtle Pecan Pie, Games, and More

Posted on Nov 4, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has tips for decorating for a baby shower, a turtle pecan pie recipe, games, road trip snacks, and more.

Shaken Together Life taught us how to make a cinnamon orange air freshener.

Crystal & Co. shared tips for decorating for a baby shower.

Growing Up Gabel showed us how to make a turtle pecan pie.

link ru road trip snacks

Organized 31 shared some ideas for road trip snacks.

Living Montessori Now shared a calendar of November observances and activities.

The Domestic Life Stylist shared tips for finding reliable child care for date nights.

Growing Book by Book shared ideas for post office play time.

Photo credit: Shaken Together Life and Organized 31

Avoiding Unnecessary Cesarean Births

Posted on Nov 4, 2014 by No Comments

In the United States, one in three babies are born via cesarean section. Although a surgical delivery is sometimes the best option, many of these cesarean births are done simply for the convenience of the mother and/or doctor.

If you’ve never had one, a c-section can seem like a great way to avoid the prolonged pain of a vaginal delivery. But, it’s important to remember that a c-section is considered major abdominal surgery.

Fit Pregnancy says unnecessary c-sections can lead to chronic pelvic pain, wound infections, anesthetic complications, urgent hysterectomy, blood clots, and cardiac arrest for mothers.

Babies born by c-section are more likely to suffer from respiratory distress syndrome or pulmonary hypertension and be less likely to breastfeed successfully. C-sections might even place babies at a higher risk of suffering from asthma, type-1 diabetes, or food allergies later in life.

Childbirth Connection, a program of the National Partnership for Women & Families, outlines five guidelines for determining when a c-section is necessary in its recently released publication, New Cesarean Prevention Recommendations from Obstetric Leaders: What Pregnant Women Need to Know.

  1. Labor induction before the 41st week of pregnancy should only be done for medical reasons.
  2. Cesarean birth is not appropriate for most babies that are estimated to be large near the end of pregnancy. Estimates are often wrong and many large babies can be born vaginally. However, it may be appropriate if the baby is estimated to be near 11 pounds or if the baby is expected to be near 10 pounds and the mother has gestational diabetes.
  3. Cesarean is not appropriate when latent labor has gone on for more than 20 hours in first-time mothers or more than 14 hours in experienced mothers.
  4. A Cesarean birth is not needed if latent labor is slow but progressing.
  5. There is no fixed upper time limit for the pushing phase of labor.

Photo credit: Stock.chng