Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Here's the video I promised

Nicky showing off his ABC skills:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another reason HFCS must go!

Well, now HFCS has been found to be contaminated with mercury. Wonderful! Like the junk wasn't problemsome enough before?! Ok, I guess if avoiding diabetes and obesity weren't enough motivation for people to avoid this junk, maybe this will do it. And maybe, just maybe, the outcry will get the food companies to start taking it out of the myriads and myriads of food products its in right now. I can wish...

Anyway, check out the article on it on The Ethicurean.

And thanks, Chelsea, for sharing the article with me!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Breastfeeding protects against neglect

New research finds breastfeeding stops neglect
January 26th, 2009 in Medicine & Health / Research

( -- When a mother breastfeeds she is essentially protecting her child from herself, according to UQ researcher and developmental paediatrician, Dr Lane Strathearn.

By linking data from the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy - Australia's largest longitudinal study tracking mothers and their children - with reports of maltreatment recorded by the Department of Child Safety, Dr Strathearn found mothers who breastfed were less likely to neglect their children.

"Mothers who didn't breastfeed were almost four times more likely to be reported for maternal neglect than mothers who breastfed for four of more months," he said.

"For mothers who breastfed for less than four months, the risk was about 2.3 times."

In what is believed to be the first population study to provide statistics on the rate of child abuse in Australia, seven percent of children were identified as victims of maltreatment.

Of the 7223 children in the birth cohort, 512 were confirmed cases of maltreatment, with the mother identified as the perpetrator 60 percent of the time.

While it was impossible to conduct a randomised trial, Dr Strathearn said breastfeeding offered a realistic explanation.

"The difficulty with this research subject is that you can't randomly assign a woman to breastfeed her baby and another one not to, so there's always potential for bias," he said.

"But, these results make sense biologically because breastfeeding is associated with oxytocin release, and we know from animal studies that oxytocin is produced in the brain and helps activate areas of the brain that are involved in maternal care and behaviour.

"There are some other functional MRI studies which show how an intranasal dose of oxytocin actually affects how the brain responds to stressful or anxiety-provoking situations and increases trust in a dyadic exchange between two people.

"There are all these results from placebo-controlled trials which provide evidence that oxytocin does result in changes in social behaviour, and so I think this study fits in nicely with that other research."

While the biological function of oxytocin offered a logical explanation, Dr Strathearn said the physical bond created between the mother and baby during breastfeeding could also be a contributing factor.

"I think for a long time we've thought anyone can feed the baby as long as it's expressed breast milk," he said.

"But this is saying well hold on, it's not just the milk, it's that relationship that's important.

"Breastfeeding may simply promote that interpersonal bond between a mother and her baby - the physical touch, the holding, the eye-to-eye contact.

"It ensures that physical touch occurs in an attuned way, but I would imagine a similar result for any mother who has that same one-on-one contact while they're feeding on a regular basis."

The study will be published in the February issue of medical journal, Pediatrics.

Provided by University of Queensland

Studies link maternity leave with fewer C-sections and increased breastfeeding

Studies link maternity leave with fewer C-sections and increased breastfeeding

January 5th, 2009 in Medicine & Health / Health

Two new studies led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, suggest that taking maternity leave before and after the birth of a baby is a good investment in terms of health benefits for both mothers and newborns.

One study found that women who started their leave in the last month of pregnancy were less likely to have cesarean deliveries, while another found that new mothers were more likely to establish breastfeeding the longer they delayed their return to work.

Both papers were part of the Juggling Work and Life During Pregnancy study, funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and led by Sylvia Guendelman, professor of maternal and child health at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health. The research takes a rare look into whether taking maternity leave can affect health outcomes in the United States.

"In the public health field, we'd like to decrease the rate of C-sections (cesarean deliveries) and increase the rate of breastfeeding," said Guendelman. "C-sections are really a costly procedure, leading to extended hospital stays and increased risks of complications from surgery, as well as longer recovery times for the mother. For babies, it is known that breastfeeding protects them from infection and may decrease the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), allergies and obesity.

What we're trying to say here is that taking maternity leave may make good health sense, as well as good economic sense."

The study on the use of antenatal leave - time off before delivery with the expectation of returning to the employer after giving birth - and the rate of C-sections is the first examination of birth outcomes in U.S. working women, the researchers said. It will appear in the January/February print edition of the journal Women's Health Issues.

The researchers analyzed data from 447 women who worked full-time in the Southern California counties of Imperial, Orange and San Diego, comparing those who took leave after the 35th week of pregnancy with those who worked throughout the pregnancy to delivery. Only women who gave birth to single babies with no congenital abnormalities were included in the analysis. They adjusted for sociodemographic factors such as income, age and type of occupation, as well as for various health measures such as high blood pressure, body mass index, amount of self-reported stress and average number of hours of sleep at night.

Using a combination of post-delivery telephone interviews and prenatal and birth records, the researchers found that women who took leave before they gave birth were almost four times less likely to have a primary C-section as women who worked through to delivery.

The study authors pointed out that the United States falls behind most industrialized countries in its support for job-protected paid maternity leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides for only unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks surrounding the birth or adoption of a child.

The bulk of studies on leave-taking and health outcomes from other countries suggest that taking leave prior to birth can be beneficial. The authors point to a macroanalysis of 17 countries in Europe that linked failure to take such leave with low birthweight and infant mortality. Rates of pre-term delivery were lower among female factory workers in France if the women took antenatal leave, and a study conducted in several industrialized countries found that paid leave, but not unpaid leave, significantly decreased low birthweight rates.

According to the U.S. Census, among working women who had their first birth between 2001 and 2003, only 28 percent took leave from their jobs before giving birth while an additional 22 percent quit their jobs. Twenty-six percent of women took no leave before birth.

"We don't have a culture in the United States of taking rest before the birth of a child because there is an assumption that the real work comes after the baby is born," said Guendelman. "People forget that mothers need restoration before delivery. In other cultures, including Latino and Asian societies, women are really expected to rest in preparation for this major life event."

The authors added that financial need may also deter women from taking leave in the last month of pregnancy. Only five states - California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island - and the territory of Puerto Rico offer some form of paid pregnancy leave, and none offer full replacement of the woman's salary.

The study on maternity leave and breastfeeding is in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. Using data from 770 full-time working mothers in Southern California, researchers assessed whether maternity leave predicted breastfeeding establishment, defined in this study as breastfeeding for at least 30 days after delivery. Phone interviews were conducted 4.5 months, on average, after delivery.

In this study, women who had returned to work by the time of the interview took on average 10.3 weeks of maternity leave. Overall, 82 percent of mothers established breastfeeding within the first month after their babies were born. Among women who established breastfeeding, 65 percent were still breastfeeding at the time of the interview.

Researchers found that women who took less than six weeks of maternity leave had a four-fold greater risk of failure to establish breastfeeding compared with women who were still on maternity leave at the time of the interview. Women who took six to 12 weeks of maternity leave had a two-fold greater risk of failing to establish breastfeeding.

Having a managerial position or a job with autonomy and a flexible work schedule was linked with longer breastfeeding duration in the study. After 30 days, managers had a 40 percent lower chance of stopping breastfeeding, while those with an inflexible work schedule had a 50 percent higher chance of stopping.

Overall, the study found that returning to work within 12 weeks of delivery had a greater impact on breastfeeding establishment for women in non-managerial positions, with inflexible jobs or who reported high psychosocial distress, including serious arguments with a spouse or partner and unusual money problems.

"The findings suggest that if a woman postpones her return to work, she'll increase her chances of breastfeeding success, especially if she's got a job where she's on the clock and has less discretion with her time," said Guendelman. "Also, women who are in jobs where they have more authority may feel more empowered with how they use their time."

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be breastfed for at least the first year of life, and exclusively so for the first four to six months.
According to the AAP, increased breastfeeding has the potential for decreasing annual health costs in the U.S. by $3.6 billion and decreasing parental employee absenteeism, the environmental burden for disposal of formula cans and bottles, and energy demands for production and transport of formula.

The study authors noted that just having maternity leave benefits offered by an employer was not helpful in breastfeeding establishment unless the leave was actually used, indicating the importance of encouraging the use of maternity leave and making it economically feasible to take it.

"These new studies suggest that making it feasible for more working mothers to take maternity leave both before and after birth is a smart investment," said Guendelman.

Source: University of California - Berkeley

Too Funny! Wonder how this would go over here?

New Breastfeeding Campaign Turns Heads
Group introduces unique ad campaign
Updated 11:42 AM PST, Sun, Jan 25, 2009

A new campaign in Marin County has cutouts of breastfeeding women displayed in public spaces.

No it's not time to change your glasses. You really are seeing more women breastfeeding in public.

A new public awareness campaign will have cutouts of women breastfeeding in public places.
The woman standing by the mailbox has been breastfeeding for hours. Same with the lady sitting on the bench. They, and two of their friends, are going to be breastfeeding all over Marin County, Calif. in the coming weeks.

But if you look closely you might notice that looks can be deceiving.

A series of life-sized photographs of women breastfeeding their babies, cut-out and plastered on poster board, is all part of an eye-catching campaign to encourage and promote the acceptance of breastfeeding in public.

“Breastfeeding is recognized as the standard for infant feeding by all major health organizations,” said lactation consultant and coalition member Susan Martinelli. “Mother’s milk provides the best nutritional, immunological and emotional nurturance for the normal growth and development of babies. No manufactured formula offers anything close.”

The life-like cutouts of the “women and their babies will make their debut this week at The Village shopping center in Corte Madera, near a children’s play area.

Marin Breastfeeding Coalition, an advocacy group, has launched the campaign to raise breastfeeding awareness and support.

During a recent test run in San Rafael, the cutouts drew dozens of gawking eyes and confused second looks. Each cut-out figure is holding a card which reads, “When breastfeeding is accepted, it won’t be noticed.”

The Marin Breastfeeding Coalition said it would love for everyone to notice the campaign and to question why they were even paying so much attention to a breastfeeding mother in the first place.

The group wants the public to know that breastfeeding in public is perfectly acceptable and that it is actually protected by law.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Nicky is Blowing My Mind

With his alphabet skills! The kid has somehow learned all but 5 of 26 of his letters! And 3 of those 5 he just mixes up and sometimes gets right and the other two he just has a hard time saying. I am so surprised because we sing the alphabet song a bit but really, I have not been working on it with him at all.

You know how he learned them? I swear it was the little preschool computer my MIL bought him last Xmas. For the most part, he was just using it to copy Mom and Dad typing on their computers, but in the last few months he's figure out the Letters and Numbers function where he pushes a key and the computer says the letter and 2 words the begin with that letter. Nicky basically repeated what the computer said. Computer: "B.....butterfly......banjo..... Please press a button!" Nicky: "B!!!!!!" and then presses another button, and so it continues. Cute, but I didn't realize he was actually putting it all together and learning the letters! Between that and his Leap Frog alphabet magnets that he uses the same way, he taught himself the alphabet. He's walking around pointing out letters and naming them wherever he goes. Crazy!

It miffs me a bit that an electronic toy was a more efficient teacher for my child than I was but, really, it worked because Nicky was working at his own pace and because of his own interest. Completely self led learning. So cool!

I am so surprised since Nicky is still having so much trouble with pronunciation and his vocab is not that great, but both are getting so much better every single day now. He is really taking off:) And I feel like all I really need to do it get out of his way, LOL. I keep trying to explain to my impatient husband that so much of child development is preprogrammed and biological and each kid has his/her own pace. As parents, we need to follow their lead. They will show us what they are interested in and what they want to work on and what they are still struggling with and need more time to master. Each kid will have different skills they excel in and others they lag a bit behind on. The range of what is "normal" development is so wide and varies so much between each kid.

Nicky is also working on his numbers and shapes and colors. He's got counting 1 to 5 down now (up from 1 to 3) and tries to get to 10 but often gets fouled up in the order. He likes the concept of counting (1, 2, 3, 4, 5!!!!!!) more than identifying the written numbers themselves. His favorite color seems to be yellow right now and its the color he identifies correctly the most often, but he really doesn't have colors down yet. Shapes he's bit farther on. He identifies ovals and circles and stars and sometimes squares but has troubles with rectangles and triangles but part of that is not being able to pronounce those words. He really has trouble saying 3 syllable words. Same thing with 3 word sentences so I guess that makes sense. He usually shortens both to 2 words or 2 syllables. Now, if I break down the word and have him repeat each syllable, he can pronounce all 3 most of the time, but still can't put them together.

Like I said, though, he's making so much progress! He loves reading books, and he is really showing a love for learning and doing new things. Its so much fun! He loves the pull-apart board books on numbers, shapes, and colors that I bought a long time ago at Target in the dollar bins. You can't beat that! And they are small and fit in the diaper bag. Nice!

We've spent the last 2 weeks traveling and visiting family for the holidays and he is really thriving on all the social interaction. He's still a little social butterfly:) I have noticed a jump in his vocabulary just in the past week alone here at my parent's house (we're hanging out for a week here while I work on my dissertation). He's even been sitting up in his sleep and saying words or just talking in his sleep. Too funny!

Nicky really moves faster than I do. No surprise there, he's 2, right?! But really what I mean is that his personality is very social and active and he doesn't like to stick with one activity for too long before trying something new, even for a 2 year old. He also really likes to be out and about. This can be hard for his homebody mama. So, for the new year, I have resolved to get us out of the house on a more consistent basis and to get Nicky the social interaction he craves more often. I have no idea how I'm gonna juggle this with my dissertation work, but I'm gonna work on it because he clearly needs it. I know I could probably use more social interaction, too, since I really really miss all my friends down in KC and all the activities and get togethers Nicky and I had down there before me moved.

I'll have to get a video up of Nicky identifying his letters for you all to enjoy:)