Category Archives: Newborn and Infant Health

A sick newborn, a loving family and a litany of wrenching choices


By Jenny Gold

SAN FRANCISCO — Anne and Omar Shamiyeh first learned something was wrong with one of their twins during their 18-week ultrasound.

The technician was like, well there’s no visualization of his stomach,” said Anne. “And I was like, how does our baby have no stomach?”

It turned out that the baby’s esophagus was not connected to his stomach. He also had a heart defect. At the very least, he was likely to face surgeries and a long stay in intensive care. He might have lifelong disabilities.

This was only the start of an eight-month ordeal for the Shamiyeh family. Continue reading


Pediatricians recommend individualized counseling for parents of extremely premature infants


Premature infant's tiny hand being held By Jenny Gold

For the tiniest infants — those born before 25 weeks in the womb — survival is never guaranteed, and those who make it may be left with severe disabilities.

These micro-preemies are born in what’s known as the “grey zone.”  Whether or not to resuscitate them depends on the decisions made by individual hospitals, doctors and parents. Decisions can vary greatly even among hospitals in the same area.

A new statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics aims to improve the way those decisions are made. The statement suggests that doctors individualize counseling for parents based on the particular baby’s chances of survival and the family’s goals for their child. Continue reading


Many new mothers report no physician advice on infant sleep position, breastfeeding


From the National Institutes of Health

Cute Baby Boy Isolated on WhiteMany new mothers do not receive advice from physicians on aspects of infant care such as sleep position, breastfeeding, immunization and pacifier use, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Infants should be placed to sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm sleep surface, such as in a mattress in a safety-approved cribExternal Web Site Policy, covered by a fitted sheet. Soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters and loose bedding should be kept out of the baby’s sleep area.

Health care practitioner groups have issued recommendations and guidelines on all these aspects of infant care, based on research which has found that certain practices can prevent disease and even save lives.

The study authors surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 new mothers, inquiring about infant care advice they received from doctors, nurses, family members and the news media.

More than 50 percent of mothers reported they received no advice on where their infants should sleep.

Roughly 20 percent of mothers said they did not receive advice from their doctors regarding current recommendations on breastfeeding or on placing infants to sleep on their backs — a practice long proven to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

More than 50 percent of mothers reported they received no advice on where their infants should sleep. Room-sharing with parents — but not bed-sharing — is the recommended practice for safe infant sleep.  Continue reading


Home visits by nurses for first-time mothers help reduce costs


Symphonie Dawson and her son Andrew.

By Michelle Andrews

Symphonie Dawson was 23 and studying to be a paralegal while working part-time for a temporary staffing agency when she learned that the reason she kept feeling sick was because she was pregnant.

Living with her mom and two siblings near Dallas, Dawson worried about what to expect during pregnancy and what giving birth would be like, not to mention how to juggle having a baby with being in school.

(Photo courtesy of Symphonie Dawson)

Continue reading


Whooping cough case up sharply in Washington state


There have been a total of 387 cases of whooping cough reported statewide so far this year, compared to 85 reported cases during the same time period last year, the Washington State Department of Health reports.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 8.45.51 AM

Newborns and infants, who cannot be immunized against the disease, are at greatest risk of serious complications. To date, 25 infants under one year of age were reported as having whooping cough and six of them were hospitalized. Of these hospitalized infants, five (83%) were three months of age or younger.

How to protect infants from whooping cough – CDC

Because the disease can make babies so sick, and they can catch it from anyone around them, they need protection. These are the three important ways you can help protect them with vaccines:

  • If you are pregnant, get vaccinated with the whooping cough vaccine in your third trimester.
  • Surround your baby with family members and caregivers who are up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine.
  • Make sure your baby gets all his doses of the whooping cough vaccine according to CDC’s recommended schedule.

Whooping cough fact sheet from the Department of Health

Continue reading


Narcotic Painkillers in Pregnancy Common, Harmful to Baby: Study – WebMD


Blue Pregnant BellyUse of prescription narcotic painkillers is common in pregnancy and increases the likelihood a baby will be born small or early, or go through painful drug withdrawal, a new study finds.

These prescription painkillers, also called opioids, include drugs such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (Oxycontin), codeine and morphine.

Nearly 30 percent of the Tennessee mothers-to-be in the new study used at least one of these drugs while pregnant, and the associated risks went up if they also smoked or took antidepressants.

via Narcotic Painkillers in Pregnancy Common, Harmful to Baby: Study – WebMD.


Seattle Children’s and Mayo Clinic team to slash genetic testing costs – Puget Sound Business Journal


Seattle Children's Whale LogoSeattle Children’s hospital and Mayo Medical Laboratories are creating a partnership to develop ways for children’s hospitals around the country to decrease costs and errors that come from unnecessary lab testing.

via Seattle Children’s and Mayo Clinic team to slash genetic testing costs – Puget Sound Business Journal.


Pregnant and uninsured? Don’t count on Obamacare


Blue Pregnant BellyBy Phil Galewitz

The Obama administration often touts the health benefits women have gained under the Affordable Care Act, including the option to sign up for coverage outside of open enrollment periods if they’re “having a baby.”

But advocates complain the special insurance enrollment period begins only after a birth. As a result, uninsured women who learn they are pregnant outside of the regular three-month open enrollment period, which this year ended Sunday, can get stuck paying thousands of dollars for prenatal care and a delivery — or worse, going without  care.

The special insurance enrollment period begins only after a birth.

The advocacy groups, including the March of Dimes, Planned Parenthood and Young Invincibles, are asking the administration to allow women to sign up whenever they become pregnant – a change opposed by the insurance industry. They say they’ve sought the change unsuccessfully for several years. Continue reading


Are vaccinations ‘Everybody’s Business’? – documentary and discussion


A community conversation sponsored by the Northwest Biomedical Research Association

Are Vaccinations ‘Everybody’s Business?’

Discussion of the locally-made documentary, “Everybody’s Business,” by Laura Green, which examines the small, tight-knit community of Vashon Island that has become a reluctant poster child for the growing debate around childhood vaccinations. This portrait of an island community digs beneath the surface to investigate the tensions between individual choices and collective responsibilities.

Tuesday night’s conversation will be facilitated by Dr. Doug Opel, Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

December 9, 2014
From 5:45pm to 7:45pm

Macao Chocolate+Coffee
415 Westlake Ave N.
Seattle, WA 98109


More than half of U.S. infants sleep with unsafe bedding


From the National Institutes of Health

NIH, CDC study shows unsafe infant bedding use still common, despite warnings

Alert IconNearly 55 percent of U.S. infants are placed to sleep with bedding that increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, despite recommendations against the practice, report researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other institutions.

Soft objects and loose bedding — such as thick blankets, quilts, and pillows — can obstruct an infant’s airway and pose a suffocation risk, according to the NIH’s Safe to Sleep campaign.

Soft bedding has also been shown to increase the risk of SIDS Infants should be placed to sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm sleep surface, such as in a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet. Soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters and loose bedding should be kept out of the baby’s sleep area.

Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation.”—Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D.

Based on responses from nearly 20,000 caregivers, the researchers reported that, although such potentially unsafe bedding use declined from 85.9 percent in 1993-1995, it still remained high, at 54.7 percent, in 2008-2010.

“Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation,” said the study’s first author, Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior scientist in the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health in Atlanta.  Continue reading


Enterovirus D-68 confirmed in two patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital


From Seattle Children’s Hospital

Parents strongly encouraged to take precautions, seek medical attention for troubled breathing, wheezing in babies, children, teens

EV68-infographicSEATTLE – Sept. 19, 2014 – Seattle Children’s Hospital announced today that two children have tested positive for Enterovirus D-68 (EV-D68).

The children, whose names were not released, have preexisting health conditions that exacerbated their condition but were stable enough to be discharged from the hospital earlier this week.

The presence of EV-D68 in the two children was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Thursday.

Results for three other children who were tested for EV-D68 were negative. Two of those children have been discharged; one is deceased.

No children in Washington or the United States have died of EV-D68 related illness. Continue reading


Immunization rates for Washington kids improve over last year


From the Washington State Department of Health

child wincing while be given a shot injectionImmunization rates for Washington toddlers have improved from last year, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Immunization Survey.

The survey says 71 percent of kids under three years old in Washington got a series of recommended vaccines in 2013.

The state’s rate for the same series of vaccines in 2012 was 65 percent.

Pertussis vaccination still low and concerning in light of recent epidemic

Although rates have improved, they’re still below the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80 percent, leaving many kids unprotected.

For all vaccines counted, rates increased across the board except for DTaP, the vaccine that prevents pertussis (whooping cough).

This is especially concerning because of our state’s whooping cough epidemic in 2012. Continue reading


Do teething babies need medicine on their gums? No


Baby drinks from bottleConsumer Update from the US Food and Drug Administration

There are more theories about teething and “treating” a baby’s sore gums than there are teeth in a child’s mouth.

One thing doctors and other health care professionals agree on is that teething is a normal part of childhood that can be treated without prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

Too often well-meaning parents, grandparents and caregivers want to soothe a teething baby by rubbing numbing medications on the tot’s gums, using potentially harmful drugs instead of safer, non-toxic alternatives.

That’s why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning parents that prescription drugs such as viscous lidocaine are not safe for treating teething in infants or young children, and that they have hurt some children who used those products. Continue reading


Moms, kids eat more (low mercury) fish – FDA says


Medieval woodcut of fish in a netFDA Consumer Update

If you’re pregnant, you’ve no doubt been given a list of foods to avoid—undercooked meat, soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, and alcohol, to name a few.

The good news is that there is a food you should have more of while pregnant and while breastfeeding: fish and shellfish.

The latest science shows that eating fish low in mercury during pregnancy and in early childhood can help with growth and neurodevelopment. It can also be good for your health. Continue reading