Delivery / Breastfeeding / Neonatal Issues

More Premature Babies Surviving at 23 Weeks, Study Finds

Over the past two decades, doctors have made significant progress in saving the earliest premature babies, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Between 1993 and 2012, the study found a “significant increase in survival” of infants born prematurely at 23, 24, 25 and 27 weeks. Rosemary Higgins, program scientist for the neonatal research network at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, explained in an interview: “Extremely pre-term babies born before the 28th week are now surviving in greater numbers.” Higgins pointed to advances in medical care as a reason for the increased survival rates of premature babies: Increased use of surfactant has offered better protection for the newborns’ lungs, and steroids given to mothers in the hours or days before a pre-term birth promote development of lungs, which normally don’t mature until 34 to 36 weeks of gestation. This is not the first study of its kind. A study released earlier this year by the New England Journal of Medicine found that babies born as early as 22 weeks may survive if they are properly treated. Unfortunately, while science is proving that infants at 23 weeks or even 22 weeks of gestation can survive outside the womb, it is still legal to abort such babies in many states, as they are not considered “viable” (able to survive outside the womb). While new evidence is showing that babies may be viable earlier than 24 weeks, the abortion industry continues to push aside such science in favor of “abortion rights.” Even so, The New York Times reports that viability is...

Smell of Newborn Babies is Addictive for Moms, University Study Finds

Mothers love the smell of their newborn babies and parents of little tots can often be spotted, for example, smelling their baby’s head. A new university study from Canada has more information to help explain this phenomenon. From the University of Montreal: What woman has not wanted to gobble up a baby placed in her arms, even if the baby is not hers? This reaction, which everyone has noticed or felt, could have biological underpinnings related to maternal functions. For the first time, an international team of researchers has found evidence of this phenomenon in the neural networks associated with reward. “The olfactory—thus non-verbal and non-visual—chemical signals for communication between mother and child are intense,” explains Johannes Frasnelli, a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychology. “What we have shown for the first time is that the odor of newborns, which is part of these signals, activates the neurological reward circuit in mothers. These circuits may especially be activated when you eat while being very hungry, but also in a craving addict receiving his drug. It is in fact the sating of desire.” For their experiment, the researchers presented two groups of 15 women with the odors of others’ newborns while the women were subjected to brain imaging tests. The first group was composed of women who had given birth 3-6 weeks prior to the experiment, and the other group consisted of women who had never given birth. All the women were non-smokers. The odours of the newborns were collected from their pajamas two days after birth. Although the women in both groups perceived...

Post Partum Depression (2011)

  Background: Postpartum depression is the onset of depression within the first three months or up to one year after childbirth. A woman who is suffering from postpartum depression may be limited in her ability to care for her newborn and handle her daily life. In rare cases, a severe form of postpartum depression called postpartum psychosis may develop within the first two weeks after delivery. It is associated with thoughts of suicide or harming the baby. Most cases of postpartum depression can be effectively treated when detected early. Symptoms: • feelings of sadness or emptiness • numbness • crying spells • social withdrawal • changes in sleep patterns • changes in eating habits • feelings of inadequacy • intense concern or apathy towards the baby • thoughts of suicide or harming the baby Risk Factors: • history of major depression • family history of mental illness • recent stressful life events • lack of support from family/friends • isolation • medical complications for mother or baby Status of Alabama Mothers (how common is it): During the three year period 2007-2009, 14.7 percent of Alabama mothers reported being always or almost always depressed since the birth of their baby 9.3 percent of Alabama mothers reported being diagnosed with depression by a doctor or healthcare provider. Trends over five year period: From 2008-2009, there was an increase in women reporting that they felt depressed always or almost always; however, the percentage of women who were actually diagnosed with depression decreased. This discrepancy suggests that health care providers may need additional training on depression screening and women need to be encouraged...

CDC: Low Rates of Breastfeeding Add $2.2 billion a Year to Medical Costs (2011)

CDC: Low Rates of Breastfeeding Add $2.2 billion a Year to Medical Costs  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Thomas R. Frieden: "Hospitals need to better support breastfeeding, as this is one of the most important things a mother can do for her newborn." Low rates of breastfeeding add $2.2 billion a year to medical costs. Babies who are fed formula and stop breastfeeding early have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and respiratory and ear infections, and tend to require more doctor visits, hospitalizations and prescriptions. Despite the acknowledged benefits of breastfeeding — including protecting against childhood obesity — many U.S. hospitals fare poorly when it comes to providing sufficient support and encouragement, according to a new report sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers found that only 14 percent of hospitals have written breastfeeding policies; nearly 80 percent of hospitals provided formula to babies when it was not medically necessary; and only one-third of hospitals accommodate “rooming in,” which offers mothers and newborns more opportunities to practice breastfeeding. “Those first few hours and days that a mom and her baby spend learning to breastfeed are critical,” said CDC director Thomas R. Frieden. “Hospitals need to better support breastfeeding, as this is one of the most important things a mother can do for her newborn.” “In the United States most women want to breastfeed, and most women start,” said Ursula Bauer, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “But without hospital support many women have a hard time continuing to breastfeed, and they stop early. It...

Breastfeeding Boom (8/2011)

BREASTFEEDING FACTS — The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies receive nothing but breast milk for about the first six months, and that breastfeeding continue for at least a year. — Babies who are fed formula early rather than breast milk have higher risks of obesity, diabetes, respiratory and ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, and tend to require more doctor visits. — Mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   Breastfeeding Boom Among Local Moms Breastfeeding of newborns has risen dramatically among mothers involved in a counseling initiative through the Mobile County [Alabama] Health Department. That’s good news, because breastfed infants typically suffer fewer health woes, and because these low-income mothers realize that they don’t need to buy expensive formula. In 2005, the Health Department began employing breastfeeding peer counselors to encourage the practice, said Elizabeth W. Smith, the local agency’s director of Nutrition Services and the Women, Infants and Children program. “Peer counselors are sharing how they were able to breastfeed successfully, sometimes without family support, how they were able to fit breastfeeding into returning to work and/or school,” she said. Also, Smith said, they’re “addressing myths regarding breastfeeding.” The number of breastfeeding mothers served through the Teen Center WIC program in Mobile has nearly doubled, Smith said. In 2005, about 23 percent of new mothers at the Eight Mile clinic chose to breastfeed, according to local data. In July 2011, that number was 41 percent. “Breastfeeding is one of our most underutilized ways to promote health,” said Dr. Catherine E. Palmier, chief medical officer...

Substance Found in Breast Milk Kills 40 Types of Cancer Cells (4/10)

Swedish researchers have discovered that a substance found in human breast milk has the ability to kill cancer cells, according to a study published in the PLoS One Journal. The substance known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells), was discovered years ago, but has just recently been tested on humans. In the trial conducted at Lund University in Sweden, patients suffering from bladder cancer were treated with HAMLET. After each treatment, the patients excreted dead cancer cells in their urine, healthy cells remaining intact. Previous laboratory experiments showed that HAMLET has the ability to kill 40 different types of cancer cells, but this was the first test conducted on humans. The next step will be to test the substance on skin cancer and brain tumors. The trial breakthrough increases the hopes that HAMLET will be developed into a cancer treatment medication in the future. [April 20, 2010, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,591289,00.html ] Click here to read Research Article from PLoS One — "HAMLET Interacts with Lipid Membranes and Perturbs Their Structure and Integrity" published 23 February 2010, http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0009384 Abstract Background Cell membrane interactions rely on lipid bilayer constituents and molecules inserted within the membrane, including specific receptors. HAMLET (human α-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells) is a tumoricidal complex of partially unfolded α-lactalbumin (HLA) and oleic acid that is internalized by tumor cells, suggesting that interactions with the phospholipid bilayer and/or specific receptors may be essential for the tumoricidal effect. This study examined whether HAMLET interacts with artificial membranes and alters membrane structure. Methodology/Principal Findings We show by surface plasmon resonance that HAMLET binds with high affinity to surface...

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The Physiology of Motherhood (2008)

PHYSIOLOGY OF MOTHERHOOD: Studies Show 'Natural High' in Brains of Mothers Looking at Their Babies Recent brain imaging studies conducted in The Human Neuro-imaging Laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas show that a mother is triggered physiologically by as little as a picture of her child. The brain images captured while 28 different first-time mothers looked at their infant showed that the brain's reward centers are activated by an increased blood flow, thus creating a "natural high" effect. These same areas are associated with thinking, movement, behavior and emotion. [17July08,  Jenna Murphy, Houston,...

Breast-Feeding, Not OCs, is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis (5/08)

BREAST-FEEDING, BUT NOT ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES, IS ASSOCIATED WITH A REDUCED RISK OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS New research at Malmö University Hospital has revealed that mothers who have more children and especially those who breastfeed their babies have a significantly lowered risk of arthritis later in life. Use of oral contraceptives, on the other hand, is of no benefit. The study, which was funded by Lund University, The Craaford Foundation and the Swedish Rheumatism Association, wanted to determine whether breast-feeding or the use of oral contraceptives (OC) could affect the future risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a community-based prospective cohort. Researcher Dr. Mitra Pikwer found that breastfeeding for more than a year reduced women's risk of rheumatoid arthritis 54% and breastfeeding for at least a month tended to reduce the risk 26 percent. Moreover, women who gave birth to more children tended to be at lower RA risk, with a 13% reduction for each child they had. Female hormones are thought to play a role in rheumatoid arthritis because the incidence is twice as high for women than men, the researchers said. While arthritis often improves during pregnancy, there was no evidence of benefits in RA from the use of oral contraceptives, which contain some of the same hormones that are elevated during pregnancy. From a community based health survey of 18,326 women, the analysis included 136 women with incident rheumatoid arthritis who were matched by age to 544 women (controls) in the study who did not have rheumatoid arthritis. Women who had breastfed their children for 13 months or more had an odds ratio of 0.46 for incident RA...

Breastfeeding / Separation May Affect Maternal Bond (2003)

AMOUNT OF BREASTFEEDING & SEPARATION LINKED TO LATER MATERNAL MALTREATMENT Breastfeeding and mother-infant contact appear to have a protective influence on subsequent child abuse and neglect, according to a  study presented in New Orleans [3 November 2003] at the American Academy of Pediatrics' National Conference and Exhibition. Lane Strathern, MBBS, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, performed a prospective study of 7,695 mothers and newborn infants from a public hospital over a period of 14 years. Analysis showed that the risk of maternal maltreatment increased with the length of separation but decreased with breastfeeding duration. Compared with infants breastfed for four or more months, non-breastfed infants were 4.5 times more likely to experience substantiated maltreatment. Infants separated from their mothers for more than 20 hours per week had an approximately three-fold increase in risk. Additional predictors of maternal maltreatment included unmarried cohabitation, single parent status, maternal anxiety, socioeconomic factors, and addictive behaviors during pregnancy. "A lot of people assume that it's the milk that is the key factor in breastfeeding benefits, but that may not be the case. It may be more the actual contingent interactions from day to day, hour to hour throughout the day between the mother and the baby that makes the difference." Dr. Strathern said. [Doctor's Guide, 11/7/03; Medwatch, CCL Family Foundations, March-April...

Full-Time Work Grows Less Attractive to Moms (97-07)

From 1997 to 2007: Full-Time Work Grows Less Attractive to Moms   Considering everything, what would be the ideal situation for you — working full-time, part-time, or not at all outside the home?                                                                                 — Working Mothers —                  — At-Home Mothers —                                         1997            2007           Change         1997           2007       Change                                      %            %          '97 to'07         %            %      '97 to '07 What's ideal for you? Full-time work                 32               21             -11             24           16           -8 Part-time work                48               60             +12             37           33           -4    Not working                    20               19               -1              39           48          +9 Don't know                     –                  –                                  –              3   # of Respondents         317               259                             140           153     Note: Based on mothers with children under age 18 [Pew Research Center; Network News, July-August...

Ecological Breastfeeding

The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding In speaking about natural child spacing, I frequently find myself referring to the Seven Standards that are essential during the first six months postpartum if the mother wants to experience breastfeeding infertility. The key to the natural child spacing aspect of breastfeeding is frequent and unrestricted nursing, and that is usually provided by the Seven Standards. The Seven Standards are easy to do when mom remains with her baby, and that is what ecological breastfeeding is all about — mother and baby being together. What are the Seven Standards that provide the frequent and unrestricted nursing? 1. Do exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. This means that your baby does not take any other liquids or solids. The only nourishment your baby receives is your milk from your breasts. 2. Pacify your baby at your breasts. This means that you pacify your baby at the breast for comfort or to meet his other emotional needs. This comfort nursing usually involves nursing the baby to sleep. 3. Don’t use bottles and pacifiers. These items take the place of what should be occurring at the breast during the first six months of life. It is possible to take care of a baby without a pacifier. I did it for four babies. I am not opposed to that rare situation where the pacifier calms a baby after all options have been tried. But it can soon become a habit. One mother who experienced an early return of menstruation meant to use the pacifier only once or twice for her extremely fussy baby. She soon found...

Breastfeeding Myths

1. Nursing mothers cannot breastfeed if they have had X-rays. Not true! Regular X-rays such as a chest X-ray or dental X-rays do not affect the milk or the baby and the mother may nurse without concern. Mammograms are harder to read when the mother is lactating but can be done, and the mother should not stop breastfeeding just to get this done. There are other ways of investigating a breast lump. Newer imaging methods such as CT scan and MRI scans are of no concern, even if contrast is used. And special X-rays using contrast media? As long as no radioactive isotope is used, there is no concern and the mother should not stop even for one feed. Herein are included studies such as intravenous pyelogram, lymphangiogram, venogram, arteriogram, myelogram, etc. What about studies using radioactive nucleotides (bone scans, lung scans, etc.)? The baby will get a little radioactive nucleotide. However, as we often do these very same tests on children, even small babies, and the potential loss of benefits if the mother stops breastfeeding are considerable, the mother should continue breastfeeding. The exception is the thyroid scan. This test must be avoided in breastfeeding mothers. There are many ways of evaluating the thyroid, and only very occasionally does a thyroid scan truly have to be done. Check first before taking the radioactive iodine — the test can wait until you know for sure. In many cases where the scan must be done, it can still be put off for several months. 2. Breastfeeding mothers’ milk can “dry up” just like that. Not true! Or if this can...

Voluntary C-Sections and Neonatal Mortality

A recent study of nearly six million births has found that the risk of death to newborns delivered by voluntary Caesarean section is much higher than previously believed. Researchers have found that the neonatal mortality rate for Caesarean delivery among low-risk women is 1.77 deaths per 1,000 live births, while the rate for vaginal delivery is 0.62 deaths per 1,000. Their findings were published in this month’s issue of Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care. The percentage of Caesarean births in the United States increased to 29.1 percent in 2004 from 20.7 percent in 1996, according to background information in the report. Mortality in Caesarean deliveries has consistently been about 1½ times that of vaginal delivery, but it had been assumed that the difference was due to the higher risk profile of mothers who undergo the operation. This study, according to the authors, is the first to examine the risk of Caesarean delivery among low-risk mothers who have no known medical reason for the operation. Congenital malformations were the leading cause of neonatal death regardless of the type of delivery. But the risk in first Caesarean deliveries persisted even when deaths from congenital malformation were excluded from the calculation. Intrauterine hypoxia – lack of oxygen – can be both a reason for performing a Caesarean section and a cause of death, but even eliminating those deaths left a neonatal mortality rate for Caesarean deliveries in the cases studied at more than twice that for vaginal births. “Neonatal deaths are rare for low-risk women – on the order of about one death per 1,000 live births – but even after we...

Average Age of Mothers at First Birth, 2002

The average age of mothers at first birth increased steadily during the preceding 30 years, to 25.1 years in 2002, an all-time high for the nation. In 2002, by state, the average age of mothers at first birth ranged from 23 years to 28 years. Mothers living in northeastern states were the oldest at first birth; mothers living in AR, LA, MS, NM, OK, & WY were the youngest.   http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr52/nvsr52_19acc.pdf National Vital Statistics System, annual file; 2003. Available at    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/births.htm...