Prenatal Genetic Testing

Hi all! My name is Katherine Brown and I am the summer intern here NHSA. I have an interest in the genetic field, specifically with the prenatal aspect and advocating for prenatal screening/testing, which all relate to what we promote and advocate here at NHSA.Katherine headshot2

Most of the projects being implemented at NHSA revolve around building educational skills to be healthy before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and in between pregnancies. These interventions are vital considering the U.S. statistics on infant mortality rates are nothing to brag about. In fact, according to Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers report, every year twice the numbers of babies die on their first day alive than all 27 European Union nation combined. And get this: 1 million more babies are born there compared to the U.S! This is why NHSA supports the Federal Healthy Start Initiative and developed Celebrate day 366…Every Baby Deserves a Chance, and why prenatal screenings/testing need to be promoted to increase the chance of celebrating Day 366!

Genomic medicine has grown tremendously within the last couples of years. Prenatal testing can detect your baby’s health and growth before it is even born. Prenatal testing also tests how the mother is during throughout pregnancy. It is a win-win situation for both! We now have tests, mentioned in the March of Dimes article posted below, that can tell early within your pregnancy (within the first trimester) if your child may have any genetic conditions like Down syndrome, heart defects, birth defects, or cystic fibrosis. It is extremely important to continue prenatal testing throughout the pregnancy to understand how you and the baby are growing. For example sometimes mothers will acquire gestational diabetes during second trimester and prenatal screening can detect that. During your third trimester most screenings will test for group B strep that a mother can acquire and then pass down to her baby. It is also important to know your own family history of disease or what your specific ethnicity may be more prone to, i.e. cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia, before planning to have a child. Make a list of all cancers, genetic disorders, mental illnesses, etc. shown to have affected your family tree and take it to a genetic counselor that will take time to talk with you and discuss options for conceiving the healthiest child possible.

The importance of having all of these factors detected before giving birth is that prevention or treatment can start immediately which means a longer and better quality of life for your child.

If you would like more information on genetic counseling or prenatal testing, please check out the links below.

  1. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/prenatal-tests.aspx

 

  1. http://www.genome.gov/Pages/Health/PatientsPublicInfo/GeneticTestingWhatItMeansForYourHealth.pdf

 

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/prenataltesting.html

 

 

 

 

Breastfeeding support: Fathers needed

The role of the expectant father and the significance of paternal impact on maternal and child health are often overlooked.  We know that men play a vital role in pregnancy and child birth, and research has shown that a father’s involvement has a positive impact on a child’s emotional and psychological state, educational development, and school readiness, as well as increased ability to socialize and build good relationships. In contrast, research suggests that the lack of father involvement can have long- term negative effects on children.

Fathers play a significant role to mothers and infants during breastfeeding, most especially in the first few weeks, when lack of sleep and hormonal changes can sometimes make new mothers waver in their determination to breastfeed. The father can head-off discouragement, deflect negative comments from friends and relatives, help calm a fussy baby, and bring the new mother food and drinks while she is breastfeeding. Most importantly the baby’s father can remind the new mother that breastfeeding is one of the most important things she can do to get their baby off to a good start in life. Babies need a lot of physical contact, and when not breastfeeding, a father’s loving arms are a wonderful place for his baby to be.

What can dad do to support nursing mothers?  Some recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) for fathers:

  1. Helping around the house reduces stress for your partner and make sure she gets enough rest.
  2. “Burp” the baby after feeding – Dad’s chest is great for this!
  3. Care for the baby in ways other than feeding (baths, diaper changes, walks).

For more information about Where Dads Matter or to get involved with a workgroup contact the NHSA Office at info@nationalhealthystart.org and more information about World Breastfeeding Week by WHO at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/meetings/2013/world_breastfeeding_week/en/.

Alice Wang is the NHSA Summer Intern with us from Hong Kong, China.

Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7

World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7 and this year’s theme is Breastfeeding support: close to mothers. It is time to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding to not only families but also the whole community.

For those who are not familiar with it, breastfeeding is the feeding of an infant or young child with breast milk directly from female human breasts (i.e., via lactation) rather than using infant formula from a baby bottle or other container. Breastfeeding is so much than a meal. Breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein needed for a baby’s growth and development.

There are many reasons why breast-feeding is best for you and your baby. According to one article from BabyCentre, breastfeeding benefits babies and moms.

For Baby:

  • Breast milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months.WorldBreastfeedingWeek
  • It’s easy to digest.
  • It protects from infections.
  • Your baby is never allergic to your breast milk.
  • It gives comfort and security to your baby.
  • It helps the brain to grow.

For Mom:

  • It lets you feel close to your baby.
  • It helps you lose weight.
  • It helps your uterus return to normal with less bleeding.
  • You don’t have to wash bottles.
  • You don’t have to buy formula.
  • Fewer doctor visits.
  • It lowers risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

It is our duty and responsibility to provide babies with a good start in life by ensuring breastfeeding.

For more information about World Breastfeeding Week 2013, please visit worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

In addition, you can learn more information and programs about breastfeeding in the United States at breastfeedingusa.org.

 

 Alice Wang is the NHSA Summer Intern with us from Hong Kong, China.

International Summer Intern

Hello, I’m Alice. I am a summer intern here at National Healthy Start Association (NHSA) from Jun 10th to Aug 10th. I come from China, and this is my first time to abroad. I soon realized it’s not so easy to be so far away from home and when you don’t have friends to enjoy life with, it’s simply horrible! Fortunately, the colleagues in NHSA are very nice and friendly, and I feel just like having another family :) –It really helps with being less homesick!

The work of my internship is not difficult. Although it seems to be simple, it still requires being patient and thoughtful to recognize handwriting and review news. I try my best to do my work well and I hope I can learn more from this internship.

Before coming to Washington D.C., I thought it was a bustling city just like Hong Kong. However, I changed my mind after living there for one week. I think it is a livable and comfortable city as you can see a lot of people drink coffee, chat, and enjoy sunshine after work. Work is just work, after working time, it’s time to enjoy life and have fun. However, the situation in Hong Kong is very different. Hong Kong is a crowded city, and the majority of people look in a hurry and seem to have a lot of work to do all the time. I prefer the life style of Washington D.C. and I hope I can enjoy a cup of coffee and chat with friends one day here.

Celebrating Healthy Babies

Louisville Metro Healthy Start has added a new event for recognition of the families served by having its First Birthday Party on momandbabyApril 24, 2013. Healthy Start recognizes that often families do not remain in the program following the child’s first birthday.  For this reason Louisville Metro Healthy Start took the opportunity to provide health education message on early childhood development during a celebratory birthday party reception.  Graduation ceremonies are held at or near the child’s second birthday.

“I’m a first time mother…young so, it’s hard,” said 20-year-old Briana Stoner, Keimarieon’s mother, who is due to give birth to her second child May 19. ”In the last year, they helped me a whole lot with playpens and utensils that I didn’t have at home that I couldn’t purchase when I didn’t have money.”

LaDasha Downs, a mother of three, said the program helped her get Pampers for her 1-year-old baby, D’zarion Downs.

“It made a whole lot of difference, because some of them days I wouldn’t have had any Pampers, and Healthy Start provided me with Pampers,” said Downs, 30. “It helped me over until I was able to purchase them on my own.”

Celebrating healthy babies, Courier Journal

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Turning Up the Volume On Infant Mortality: Every Baby Matters!

Lisa Matthews is the MomsFirst Project Director and Secretary for the NHSA Board of Directors.

Despite the allocation of substantial resources and the hard work of many dedicated public health workers and medical clinicians engaged in a wide variety of private and public efforts, Ohio’s infant mortality numbers have remained essentially stagnant for more than a decade.  Based on the urgent need to address Ohio’s infant death challenge in a new way, with new resolve and new levels of state and community-wide cooperation, on November 28, 2012 the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality held its first Infant Mortality Summit, titled Turning Up the Volume On Infant Mortality: Every Baby Matters! 

The summit featured nationally recognized plenary speakers in the fields of health, medicine, and community organization:  Ted Wymyslo, M.D. Director, Ohio Department of Health; Arthur James, M.D., Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology, The Ohio State University; Michael C. Lu, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., Administrator, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Mario Drummonds, M.S., L.C.S.W., M.B.A., CEO and Executive Director, Northern Manhattan Perinatal Project; and Magda Peck, Sc.D., Founding Dean and Professor, Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The many breakout sessions, roundtable discussions, displays and posters sandwiched between and around plenary sessions represented a broad menu of topics geared largely to what works to improve the health of our moms and babies.  Both of Ohio’s Healthy Start Project, Caring For Two and MomsFirst, were invited to share their expertise on Effective Care Coordination Strategies, Preconception Planning including the importance of reproductive life planning, and Perinatal Depression.

Ohio’s Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality is a growing group made up of a wide variety of individuals and organizations across Ohio united with a single purpose:  to prevent infant mortality and disparities.  The collaborative includes some of Ohio’s most knowledgeable, experienced, and respected professionals in a variety of disciplines impacting maternal and infant health and representing many influential organizations addressing infant mortality by combining proven, universal best practices and knowledge with unique community-level solutions.

This summit was supported by the March of Dimes Ohio Chapter, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Ohio Section, the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Ohio Better Birth Outcomes, Columbus Public Health Caring for Two Program, and the Ohio Department of Health.

The Volume on Infant Mortality was turned up really loud in Ohio with the hopes of breaking out of the public health and clinical boundaries to effect change in the social determinants of health that so profoundly affect infant mortality.  Another Summit was promised to take place in two years to reflect on the progress Ohio makes to ensure more of its babies grow up to be healthy, productive citizens.

Video recordings of all plenary presentations and audio recordings of 11 of the breakout sessions from the November 28, 2012 Infant Mortality Summit are now online.  Accompanying PowerPoint slides are included.  Access these presentations on the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality Website at http://bit.ly/imsummitpresentations

Prematurity Awareness and Men

Ken Scarborough is the volunteer coordinator for the NHSA Male Involvement Initiative and Male Involvement Coordinator at REACHUP, Inc.

November is recognized as Prematurity Awareness Month by the March of Dimes and the rest of the nation. This is a particularly important issue for Healthy Start and our work. Often times what he can do during this month gets lost in educating her.

According to an article written by Jasmine Jafferali in the Examiner dated November 1, 2012, there are 8 ways to reduce the risk for premature birth.  This article will identify 5 of the 8 ways and then provide ways that he can help and/or support:

Don’t Smoke. Her smoking and his smoking are detrimental during the pregnancy. When she finds it difficult to stop, he can either model stopping or support and encourage her as she attempts to stop.

Get your teeth checked early. Providing him this information on the importance of good dental care allows him to raise the question to her, schedule an appointment for her and join her on the visit.

Exercise. Her exercising can help to reduce preeclampsia and gestational diabetes; both have shown to increase the risk for pre-term labor.  This is often a natural behavior or a welcome activity for men.  He can partner with her to either continue to exercise throughout the pregnancy or to begin if she is currently not exercising.  This can also serve to build and growth their relationship.

Stay hydrated.  Water is best.  He can encourage her to drink lots of water during the pregnancy, while staying away from other drinks like those containing lots of sugar or alcohol.  As he seeks to meet her dietary urges, he can provide alternatives in cases where needed.  He too can pledge to stop himself.

Don’t slack off in the third trimester.  He can be there to encourage her to continue to eat healthy, drink plenty of water and eat protein rich and high in vitamin C foods.  His presence reassures a level of commitment into the future.

Supporting and modeling these five things can be instrumental in validating the importance of his role in also helping to reduce Prematurity.  If he is on board, we can really have an even more Thankful attitude during November because there will be less of a need to focus on Prematurity Awareness. Let’s Get His Attention and increase his Awareness also!

http://examiner.com/article/8-ways-to-reduce-your-risk-for-premature-birth.

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