Medical Updates for Moms and Babies

Single-Family Room NICUs Benefit Babies

Most of us do not have access to a single-family room (SFR) style NICU. But a recent study in Pediatrics certainly makes it seem worth advocating for! The study reveals significant benefits for infants in NICUs with single-family rooms compared to infants in shared, open-bay arrangements. The SFR babies weighed more at discharge, gained weight more rapidly, required fewer medical procedures, had increased attention, and had less stress, lethargy and pain. According to the study’s lead author, the privacy, lighting, and having nurses who work one-on-one with the mothers in the SFR facility made for a more relaxed environment. Further, he explains, “there’s more maternal involvement than in the open bay and more maternal involvement leads to better behavioral and medical outcomes.”

Routine Bed Rest No Longer Advocated    Please check with your doctor. Many perinatogists for HOM pregnancies DO advise bed rest.

Were you on bed rest during your pregnancy? It has long been recommended for a number of potential complications, such as preterm contractions, short cervix, preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, placenta previa, and multiple gestation. The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recently released a new guideline that recommends against the routine use of bed rest in pregnancy. The recent guideline references the results of several studies that did not find an improvement in maternal or neonatal outcomes with the use of activity restriction, but did find an increase in maternal morbidity. The guideline cites numerous side effects of restricted activity including loss of muscle and bone mass, cardiovascular capacity, and an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

Thanks to our friends at the National Premature Infant Health Coalition for passing along this information!

Device-free Dinners Important for Child Development

Are you constantly checking your phone for messages during dinner? A new study finds that mothers’ use of cellphones and other devices during meals was tied with 20 percent fewer verbal and 39 percent fewer nonverbal interactions with their children.

“This study documents what we clearly see to be true — that is, that everyone is connected to an electronic interface way too much and ignoring real-time human relations,” said Dr. Ron Marino, associate chair of pediatrics at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

“Children must have the emotional physical and verbal presence of a loving caretaker,” he added. “When a mother is distracted by electronic media, the opportunities to develop language and social cognition are diminished or lost.”

Raising Multiples eNews February 2015

  •  Children’s Dental Health Month
  •  More Adopt a Family Thank You Notes
  •  Stories from the Heart Blog

triplets in fancy valentines

Children’s Dental Health Month

 

Managing the cost of medical care for multiples is often difficult. Luckily, February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Dental Association.

Through the Give Kids A Smile program (which is available year-round, but highlighted during February), families can access quality dental care at little or no cost. To find a program in your state and to see if you qualify, visit Give Kids A Smile.

The ADA also has some cute activity sheets for kids available to download (in English or Spanish) that might help make a first visit to the dentist less scary. (scroll to bottom of page. Available in English and Spanish)

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Adopt-a-Family Update

THANK YOU   to the individuals, families, groups, and organizations that donated money, clothing, toys and gifts for our multiple birth families.

Two more notes we received from families that were in the Adopt A Family program this past year.  Over the next few months, we will share more.

  • Yesterday I received a wonderful package from a MOST angel. I can’t put into words how much I appreciated the surprise. I had to go to the post office to pick up the package (I wasn’t home when they tried to deliver it). I got in the car and opened the package – I am sure a few people thought I was a little crazy when they walked past my car. Most people don’t cry and smile at the same time.    Happy Holidays
  • Dear Friends,Thank you so much for the Wal-Mart gift cards. We were shocked to receive this example of generosity. This past year has been a struggle and this gift certainly does help at the right time. We have no idea where this initiated, but please send our most sincere gratitude. We are humbled & overjoyed.   With Christ’s Blessings    Thank you again

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Stories from the Heart Blog   

Check out the recent articles posted on the MOST Stories from the Heart blog. Feel free to share, pin or link your favorites through Twitter, Facebook, by email, or using your favorite social networking site with family members, friends and professionals. Each post has an easy-to-use ‘Share’ button at the bottom. The most recent titles include:

Have an idea for an article you’d like to read about? Have an article to share? Please let us know.  Here are some helpful links associated with the MOST blog:

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More Parents Report Children's Disabilities

Parents are reporting their children’s disabilities more now than a decade ago, according to a study published online in Pediatrics. Analysis of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) records found that reports of physical disabilities have declined and neurodevelopmental or mental health disability reports have increased. Also of note, the increase in reports is largely attributed to “socially advantaged” families. Read the full report. Thanks to our friends at National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition for passing this along.

Adolescence: Multiple Madness?

BY: Elizabeth A. Pector, MD     Dr Pector is a board certified family physician in Naperville, IL and a member of the MOST Advisory Board. Her letters and articles have been published in medical journals and lay publications. She is married, and is the mother of David, born in 1991, and twins Jared and Bryan, delivered in 1997 the day after Bryan’s death from a cord accident. She has spoken on bereavement and special needs in multiples to local and national audiences, and remains interested in issues facing multiple-birth families including parent stress, prematurity, special needs, and cultural beliefs about multiple births.

Adolescence is a challenging time. Physical, mental and social development occurs at a whirlwind pace. Helping two or more children together through this transition to adulthood is both gratifying and mystifying to parents. Fortunately, most multiples have no greater trouble than singletons in navigating adolescence, and some find it easier. Twin studies in Finland revealed that twins smoked less, drank less alcohol and were more physically active than singletons, so teen twins may actually be healthier than their peers! (Ed. Note: It would be nice if this is true for higher-order multiples as well but such studies have not been done yet.)

Continue reading Adolescence: Multiple Madness?

New Test Allows Parents to Assess Delays in Preemies

University of Reading researchers have designed an easy to use test to detect delayed learning in premature babies. ERIC – the Early Report by Infant Caregivers – can be conducted at home by parents or caregivers using simple household objects like clothes pins, bowls, and small toys.

ERIC can be downloaded from the internet and takes about an hour to complete, but it can be done over the course of a week. Parents can take a break at any time and resume later to get the best out of their baby.

Dr. Graham Schafer, the project leader, said, “In our study ERIC identified well over 90% of the cases of delay. And crucially, if ERIC says your child is not delayed, there is over a 99% chance that is correct. So ERIC is a very reliable tool which clinicians can give to worried parents, or to anyone looking after an at-risk child. A ‘positive’ ERIC could then result in the child undergoing a Bayley.”

Bayley refers to the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, an assessment currently used in many clinics. ERIC can be used anytime between 10 – 24 months; Bayley is used at fixed points, like 24 months.

ERIC information and download.

Find more developmental information and guidelines on our website.

MOST eNews Jan 2015 Raising Multiples

  • Raising Multiples ….Our New Name
  • Adopt a Family Thank You Notes
  •  Stories from the Heart Blog

 

 

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR We hope you have a wonderful 2015. Full of love, laughter, and joy.

Raising Multiples.....Our new name!

  Maureen Boyle has been with MOST since its start in 1987. She serves as the Executive Director and has talked to countless parents, many doctors and professionals, and has participated in     quite a few media events.  Maureen shares her thoughts about the new name and logo.

   Have you seen this?   What do you think?     I LOVE it!      MOST (Mothers of Supertwins) is updating, growing and changing to continue to meet the needs of families RAISING MULTIPLES.

Introducing our new name, Raising Multiples (a MOST Community); and our new logo, a quilted heart. Both represent a beautiful balance between ingenuity, hard work, skill and perseverance in light of obvious adversity which has grown into something solid, sustainable and still after almost 30 years simple and grassroots rich in tradition and able to adapt.

The quilt reminds me of the networking that is so important for expectant and all parents of multiples to do in order to learn how to better meet the unique needs of our families. This quilted heart we call a MOST community makes me think that; not just as an organization but also in each of our families, there is room enough for ALL. We are all so very, very different from each other and all still very much connected & a part of something so truly unique and beautiful and so much bigger than any one piece.  We each have something important, genuine and unique to offer each other and to share within our MOST community- RAISING MULTIPLES.

Often when we speak with expectant parents they are concerned that they will just not be able to love each of their children as much as each may need. I hear this especially from parents who have one older child. They know already the deep unconditional love they have for their firstborn and are so afraid that they will just not be able to bond as deeply with each of their unborn babies. Just like with this quilt, we see that there is truly room enough for all to grow. Each has something important, genuine and unique to share and it is our responsibility as parents to help them; and each of our family members, to discover what this may be and to cherish each other for this quality that only they can share. Each of our parts; the obviously beautiful, the perfect human flaws, the seemingly broken yet perfectly shaped piece. Each of which makes our own family quilt unique and perfect in its own way. The quilt is stronger and bigger and richer because of each of the pieces. Our love for each of our children is just as deep and interestingly so different from the other.  A parent’s heart has room enough for all. It grows exponentially as needed.

What may have looked like a mismatched, blemished, odd or worn out item when seen  as a single piece has been changed into something truly beautiful, albeit possibly too colorful for some but completely perfect for those who are able to see it as a whole.  Each family quilt is a work of art, a masterpiece and when joined together, through MOST we become something even more interesting, unusual and perfectly awesome. We are stronger because we are part of this patchwork and our connections run deep regardless of the different paths we may have taken to get to this place.

A quilt makes me think of something that is filled with so many, many stories each important and worth not only saving but also savoring and sharing. Each piece was once something else and has now become a part of something so much bigger. It is filled with tradition and longevity (much like MOST!) Our families are the heart of MOST and what they share in support of each other is what brings us together and so much bigger than any one person.

And now we are changing to Raising Multiples. This  community of families is here to advocate for quality prenatal care, promote healthy deliveries, and supply information to all multiple birth families in order to support successful parenting through every phase of their children’s development. 

Tips for Sharing Your Values with Your Teenagers

Thanks to our friends at HealthyChildren.org for these guidelines!

Today, teenagers are bombarded with conflicting, ever-shifting standards of ethics and morality, at the very time they’re in the process of formulating a system of beliefs. This is not only confusing for them but troubling for their parents because they can no longer rely on society to reinforce the values they teach at home.

Previous generations depended upon a complex matrix of people and institutions to uphold the community’s moral codes. Extended family members, neighbors, religious and civic organizations, and schools expanded a parent’s sphere of influence beyond the home. What’s more, most mothers and fathers felt they could depend on other parents and adults in the community to back them up, to adhere to the same basic values and rules of conduct for their children. In many cases, that safety net has been stretched thin, a consequence of the high divorce rate, longer work weeks and other societal changes that have taken place over the last several decades. Continue reading Tips for Sharing Your Values with Your Teenagers

MOST eNews December 2014

Continue reading MOST eNews December 2014

Baby Brain Maps - Key to Diagnosing Disorders?

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.

Full story.

Happy Thanksgiving

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!

Ten Tips for Quality TV Viewing

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Make TV viewing an active choice, as if you were picking a movie from the newspaper. “How about if we watch at seven-thirty?”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Make use of ratings systems to know whether or not a program or movie is appropriate for your child.
  10. 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.

Full story

MOST eNews November 2014

  • RSV Season Has Begun
  • Prematurity Awareness Month
  • International Multiple Birth Awareness Week
  • Adopt A Family – starting soon!
  • Stories from the Heart blog

Rice 360° Receives Grant to Develop Device for Infants at Risk from Apnea

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.

Full story.