Although we’re always learning new things, our brains grow the most before age 6, when they’re about 90 percent the size of an adult brain. In an effort to learn more about the growing postnatal brain, a team of researchers have mapped the brains of infants during their first three months of life.
“A better understanding of when and how neurodevelopmental disorders arise in the postnatal period may help assist in therapeutic development,” said Dr. Dominic Holland, first author of the study published in JAMA Neurology. “Early intervention during a period of high neuroplasticity could mitigate severity of the disorders in later years.”
Up until now, most doctors used measuring tape to measure babies’ skull sizes, but by creating a template of the actual brain regions and their size, doctors will be better able to see when things start to go wrong. Studies have shown that neurodevelopmental disorders, such as depression, anxiety and ADHD can arise from poor brain development. The child may then go on to have difficulty socializing, succeeding in school, and working in the real world later on.
Holland and his colleagues found that the brain grew the quickest right after birth, at an average rate of one percent each day. By the end of the third month, it had slowed to a growing rate of 0.4 percent each day. When it came to specific parts of the brain, they found that the cerebellum, where movement is controlled, nearly doubled in size over the study period. It was also the fastest growing area of the brain. The slowest growing area was the hippocampus, which is responsible for memories.
The research also proved once again that babies born preterm are at a higher risk of illness. Those born a week early had a brain that was “four to five percent smaller than expected for a full-term baby,” Holland said. “The brains of premature babies actually grow faster than those of term-born babies, but that’s because they’re effectively younger — and younger means faster growth.” Still, he noted that preterm babies’ brains were two percent smaller at the end of the study term.
The study was performed using MRI brain scans, which 87 healthy babies were given during their first week of life. Some of them followed up with subsequent brain scans at the end of the first month, then again at the end of three months. The researchers said that if future studies analyze a larger group of babies, creating a reference point for neurodevelopmental disorders will be possible.
The MOST family has much to be thankful for this year.
We are especially thankful for YOU who always supports MOST.
Have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for all you do for MOST!
We have all heard that total entertainment screen time (TV, computer, tablet, etc…) should be limited to less than 1 to 2 hours per day for children, and kids under age two should not be exposed at all. But that can be hard to do!
Here are 10 tips to help you stop wasting time on junk viewing and get the most out of TV.
- Expect to encounter resistance at first. After all, change is never easy. If yours is a household where the TV regularly blares for five, six or seven hours a day, wean the family gradually. Try cutting down by an hour a week or go cold turkey. The two-hour maximum includes time spent in front of any screen, including the computer and video games.
- Make TV viewing an active choice, as if you were picking a movie from the newspaper. “How about if we watch at seven-thirty?”
- Hide the remote! Eliminate channel surfing, which encourages passive viewing. When family members have to get up to change the channel, they may be more selective about the programs they watch. If nothing else, at least they’ll be getting some exercise.
- When the show you wanted to watch is over, turn off the set. Also, if the program you choose isn’t compelling enough to watch actively, it’s not worth keeping on as background noise.
- Make a household rule: no TV in your youngster’s bedroom. Although adolescents deserve their privacy, they hardly need another reason to isolate themselves from the rest of the family. Children should watch their favorite shows in a central area of the home. Even if you’re not sitting down with them, this allows for conversation when you’re passing through and enables you to keep closer tabs on what they’re watching.
- Whenever possible, videotape programs and watch them later. Fast-forwarding through commercials will shave ten minutes off every hour of TV viewing, not to mention help your youngster hold on to her allowance longer. (When watching TV in “real time,” mute the sound during the breaks.) Taping shows ahead of time also allows you to hit the PAUSE button when you want to make a point or have a family discussion about something you’ve just seen onscreen.
- Discourage repeated viewings of the same video. The graphic language, violence and sexual content of movies rated PG-13 and R can have a cumulative effect on a child if they’re watched over and over again.
- Harness the power of television in a positive way. For all its flaws, TV can be a valuable tool for learning and expanding one’s awareness of the world.
- Check the listings for programs that explore areas of interest to him.
- Use events in the news and subjects of fictitious programs as springboards for discussion.
- Encourage your youngster to broaden her horizons by watching programs that transport her to other times and places, or that expose her to different perspectives or philosophies.
- Make use of ratings systems to know whether or not a program or movie is appropriate for your child.
- Talk back to your TV – “Vote with Your Remote.” Many parents are rightfully perturbed about the seemingly endless stream of violence and sex in television programs and films, including those aimed at young people. We should be equally concerned about what they don’t show: namely, the real-life consequences of such actions. For example, 75 percent of the violent scenes on TV fail to show the perpetrator expressing remorse, or being criticized or penalized for his actions. Similarly, a study from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that over a one-week period, roughly 90 percent of the television programs containing sex scenes did not include a single reference to the risk of pregnancy or acquiring a sexually transmitted disease from unprotected sex.
- RSV Season Has Begun
- Prematurity Awareness Month
- International Multiple Birth Awareness Week
- Adopt A Family – starting soon!
- Stories from the Heart blog
You may remember a previous article about Rice University students who invented a portable CPAP machine that fit in a shoe box. Now Rice students have invented another low-cost tool for NICUs in developing countries.
The BreathAlert device, originally designed in 2012 by engineering students as their senior capstone project, will be evaluated and optimized to detect and correct episodes of apnea in low-resource settings where traditional vital-signs monitoring is not available.
The work is part of an ongoing collaboration with pediatricians at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, who identified the critical need for low-cost monitoring tools and have provided clinical guidance on the project, said Maria Oden, director of Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.
“Sixty seven percent of babies born before 32 weeks’ gestation suffer from apnea of prematurity, so that is well over a million babies a year, worldwide,” Oden said. “If a baby stops breathing in the developed world, an alarm immediately summons a nurse to intervene. That nurse will usually pat the baby vigorously to wake them up.
“In a busy ward where there might be 40 babies and one overworked nurse, this baby’s survival is really a game of chance. It relies on this nurse to observe the baby at the exact moment they stop breathing and intervene. BreathAlert was designed to detect and automatically intervene in cases of apnea.”
The low-cost device incorporates a stretch sensor that wraps around a child’s chest and a vibrator that activates if the child stops breathing for more than 15 seconds. They are currently testing how well it can detect breaths and apnea on breathing mannequins. They are also testing it on full-term infants in Houston hospitals to see if it can accurately detect breaths and if its vibration can stir sleeping babies.
Many parents assume that “discipline” refers to ways to carry out effective punishment. However, teaching discipline really means teaching self-control. In most cases, you will find that you have 3 choices when confronted with a particular behavior in your child: you can praise the behavior, deliberately ignore it, or punish your child for it. Of course, it is not always easy to decide whether a behavior deserves to be ignored or punished, and it is not always obvious when and how to provide praise.
Many parents using behavior therapy techniques rely on the following simple rules when interacting with their children:
- If you want to see a behavior continue, praise it.
- If you do not like a behavior but it is not dangerous or intolerable, ignore it.
- If you have to stop a behavior that is dangerous or intolerable (for instance, your child hitting a sibling to hurt her, not just to get your attention), punish it.
Consider how much more powerful and, in most cases, preferable positive reinforcement and ignoring are to punishment, even though in the heat of the moment this may go against your instincts or intuition. It may help to think about how much more likely you are to work hard when your supervisor at work recognizes and praises your efforts, and how poorly motivated and resentful you may feel if she frequently criticizes you. In the same way, your child is more likely to respond positively to your actions if you react positively to her, while a negative comment or response on your part is likely to lead to more negative behavior.
Giving Clear Commands
The first step in helping your child learn to follow rules, obey your commands, and otherwise manage her own behavior is to make sure that the commands you give her are clear. Adults are often accustomed to couching their commands in a variety of “softening” or ambiguous gestures and phrases. Many of us also tend to react too strongly or impulsively to behavior we consider unacceptable.
Establish good eye contact. You must fully engage your child’s attention by making good eye contact if she is going to hear and follow what you say. At first, you may find it helpful to touch a younger child’s arm or hold her hand before addressing her.
Clearly state the command. You can make commands clear to your child by first stating what behavior therapists call a terminating command—a simple, non-emotional statement of what you want your child to do (“You need to stop pushing your brother.”). If the behavior does not stop immediately, you can then follow up with a warning that includes the exact limit and the consequences (“If you push your brother one more time, you’ll be in time-out. If you stop immediately, the two of you can go on playing.”). When stating a command, keep your tone of voice firm and neutral. Refrain from yelling, or looking or sounding angry. It is especially important to monitor your body language because these nonverbal messages are so easy for parents to overlook. State the command as an instruction, not as a question (Not, “Would you please stop teasing your brother?” or “Stop teasing him, OK?” but “You need to stop teasing your brother.”).
If you are not sure your child heard the terminating command or warning, ask her to repeat it back to you. Then pay attention to whether she carries out your instructions and respond immediately to her behavior. If she responds as you have asked, respond positively with praise, thanks, a thumbs-up, a high five, or other acknowledgment that she has done well. If her response is not exactly what you had hoped for but is in the right direction, offer her immediate praise for the part of your command that she did carry out. If your child does not start to respond according to the limits you have set (“one more time” or “within the next two minutes”) invoke the consequences that you have already set, calmly narrating what is happening as you do so (“You did not stop pushing your brother, so you’ll have the five-minute time-out that we just talked about.”) Keep in mind that because you have given a warning and a terminating command and spelled out the consequences for complying or disobeying, if she does not follow your instructions you have not “put her in” the time-out—she has “chosen” the time-out for herself as an alternative to following your command. This is a key point. If you give your child a command, she doesn’t comply, and you immediately “put her” in time-out, you have skipped the step of her choosing whether to receive the positive or negative consequence. You have lost an opportunity to teach her self-control.
If you make a point of following through on the positive or negative consequences of each command, every time, you should soon find that you will not have to repeat your instructions over and over as you probably did before. Your ultimate goal will be to give a command only once for it to be obeyed. Parents often complain, “I have to say it eight times before she does it.” Children are thinking, “The first seven times are free! Then she gets angry and I finally have to do it.” Keep in mind that if you are going to try to follow up on each command you give, you will need to consider beforehand how important the command you are about to give is. Limiting the number of commands you give will make it easier for you to follow up on each and every one, thus increasing your chances of success.
This is National Teen Driver Safety Week. Here’s some good information from AAA.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. Teen drivers are involved in more crashes per mile driven than drivers of any other age group.
Parents play the biggest role in keeping their teens safe behind the wheel. Risky driving, traffic violations and crashes are lower among teens whose parents set limits on their driving privileges.
What better time than during Teen Driver Safety Week to establish a parent-teen driving agreement—having rules and restrictions written down in advance establishes driving as a privilege. Click HERE to download the AAA parent-teen agreement.
We encourage you to visit our teen website, Keys2Drive, for a full range of tools to help you and your teen throughout the learning-to-drive process. Get the information you need on driver education, GDL, insurance, risks and responsibilities, all in ONE place, TeenDriving.AAA.com.
National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
Especially in the month of October, we remember families that have experienced a loss of one or more of their precious children. In the United States, October 15 of each year is proclaimed as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Lighting a candle at 7pm for one hour, wherever you are, will create a wave of light around the world!
For more information, articles, resources, offer and receive support and to share memorials visit the MOST Memorial Page, and Bereavement and Loss links. There are MOST families that have lost one of their babies and others that have lost more than one, even all of them. If you would like to connect with others who have similar circumstances, please contact the MOST office at 631-859-1110, join us on the Family Support Forums, or email Info@MOSTonline.org.
Thinking of Halloween yet?
Halloween is celebrated by many families this month. There are many terrific photos in the MOST flickr gallery with some cute costume ideas. Perhaps you will see a family you know!
Check them out and PLEASE share your photos with us!
See more Halloween photos here.
Fire Prevention Month
If your children are elementary school age, most likely you will receive many papers and activities about Fire Prevention Month. However, if your children are younger, home-schooled, or in high school or beyond, here is some information, articles and activities you need to read. Then National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a free ebook and app available (geared to ages preK- 5th). On the same page are mazes, games, print outs and downloads about fire and fire safety. ABCteach also has some downloads and print outs on their Fire Safety Month page.
Free articles: Fire Exit Strategies: Plans for 2 or more children
National Teen Drive Safety Week Oct 19-25
Keeping our children safe is important for all ages, at home or on the road. Some teens need more guidance than others. Not sure what you need to do to help keep your teen safe behind the wheel? Set the rules, make a contract, enforce the consequences. (remind you of the toddler years?)
The five rules for every drive, can you name them? No Cell Phones, No Extra Passengers, No Speeding, No Alcohol, and Always Buckle-up.
Stories from the Heart Blog
Check out the recent articles posted on the MOST Stories from the Heart blog
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Today at 7:00 pm in all time zones, families around the United States will light candles in memory all of the precious babies who have been lost during pregnancy or in infancy. Too many families grieve in silence, sometimes never coming to terms with their loss.
If you or someone you know has suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss due to SIDS/SUID, prematurity or other cause, we hope you will join us in this national tribute to create awareness of these tragic infant deaths and provide support to those that are suffering.
More information can be found here.
One of the things premature babies are given in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) are pacifiers. Pacifiers stimulate and strengthen the babies’ sucking power, which is essential to correct feeding, which is necessary for the babies’ discharge.
A recent study looked at the effect of pacifiers that played recorded versions of lullabies sung by babies’ mothers. They found that babies’ sucking on the pacifiers that played recorded lullabies — the recordings stopped playing when they stopped sucking — led to faster learning of the proper way to feed. “A mother’s voice is a powerful auditory cue,” said study author Dr. Nathalie Maitre, a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine. “Babies know and love their mother’s voice. It has proven to be the perfect incentive to help motivate these babies.”
Maitre and her colleagues looked at 94 premature babies, all of whom were born between 34 and 36 weeks of gestation (about 40 weeks is full term), and were healthy except for being fed through a feeding tube. About half of the babies got the prerecorded pacifiers, which played either “Hush Little Baby” or “Snuggle Puppy,” for about 15 minutes each day. Whenever the babies sucked on the pacifiers, they heard their mothers singing.
Although the study only lasted about five days, the results were obvious. Babies who used the pacifiers were off the feeding tubes an average of a week earlier than those who had regular pacifiers. They also consumed more, drinking about two milliliters of fortified breast milk, compared to about one milliliter in the comparison group.
“Premature infants thrive in the home with earlier discharge, parents are relieved to have their babies home from the hospital as soon as possible, and medical costs are greatly reduced,” Jayne M. Standley, the inventor of the musical pacifier, called the PAL, told Reuters. “This study has implications to change NICU treatment for feeding problems of premature infants.”
In 2005, Janet found out that she was expecting quadruplets.
“We had such worry for the health of our unborn children and how we would survive once they were born. Our pregnancy was filled with continual medical issues for both me and some of our babies. During my numerous bed rest days of internet surfing, we happily discovered MOST. The guidance and support that fellow families of multiples gave us was immeasurable. We have no idea how we could have done it without them. Throughout our pregnancy and delivery, our seven months in the NICU, and the early infant years, it was especially important. At the time, the online forums were the way that we would all communicate, and I didn’t quite know how these busy moms found the time to answer our all questions. They genuinely cared. Fast forward a few years, and I became one of those moms, answering questions for newer families. We are so happy to have met Maureen, the staff, and all of the families at MOST. THANK YOU! We could NOT have thrived as well as we did without you.” – Janet
Please help MOST continue to help families like the Janet’s by making a donation online today. Or you may call the MOST office at 631-859-1110. We’d love to hear from you! Thank you.
Read more family stories on our blog.
Doctors and scientists have been trying for years to learn what causes preeclampsia, a common complication of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and a major cause of premature delivery and maternal and fetal deaths. A new study found that molecules that send detrimental signals are abundant in the placentas and umbilical cords of preeclampsia patients.
During pregnancy, the placenta functions like a trading post of sorts: Inside the pancake-shaped organ, maternal and fetal blood is trucked through, nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the developing fetus, and waste products are shipped out for disposal. All of that life-sustaining traffic requires a multitude of molecular signals, and the study zeroed in on the bad signals that may be involved in preeclampsia.
Researchers compared protein levels in samples from placentas and umbilical cords of 10 women who had experienced preeclampsia and 10 who had not. They found that proteins that signal both cell stress and cell death were significantly higher in samples taken from the women who had experienced preeclampsia. The researchers say that the increase in those factors could reduce nutrient transport and send bad signals to the maternal vascular system, which circulates blood. These circulating factors may also pass the placental barrier and affect the fetus.
In addition to analyzing which molecules were more pronounced in preeclampsia, the researchers looked at the effects of the syndrome on study participants’ babies. They found that the average hospital stay for preeclampsia babies was significantly longer: Those newborns stayed six days on average, while the babies born to mothers without preeclampsia stayed a little over three days on average.
Now that the molecular signal problems have been discovered, the focus will shift to finding ways to therapeutically block them one day to prevent preeclampsia.
Full story. Annals of Internal Medicine article Sept 2014 Low-Dose Aspirin Use for the Prevention of Morbidity and Mortality From Preeclampsia: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement
Most people know that smoking during pregnancy is a bad idea. The CDC warns that smoking during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of a miscarriage, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and certain birth defects like a cleft lip or palate, and premature birth.
New research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry in July, is adding “conduct disorders” to that list of health risks. Mothers who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to have children who had behavioral issues, the study found.
“The evidence is emerging that smoking in pregnancy and the frequency of smoking in pregnancy is correlated with developmental outcomes after (children) are born,” senior author Gordon Harold, professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Leicester in England, said.
The CDC estimates that 13 percent of women smoked during their last three months of pregnancy. A 2012 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed that an even higher amount, 21.8 percent of white women aged 15 to 44, smoked while pregnant. Black and Hispanic women’s rates lingered around 14.2 and 6.5 percent respectively.