Posts Tagged ‘ infant immunization ’

National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Coleen Boyle, PhD, MS Hyg, is the director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  NCBDDD’s mission is to promote the health of babies, children and adults and enhance the potential for full, productive living.

Each year, we at CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) join many organizations in recognizing January as National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Our state-based tracking system shows that birth defects affect one in 33 babies and are a leading cause of infant death in the United States.  More than 5,000 infants die each year because of birth defects. For me and my colleagues at NCBDDD, those numbers aren’t just numbers. They represent real babies and families and underscore our activities to promote the health of babies, children and adults and enhance the potential for full, productive living.

Every day, NCBDDD’s National Birth Defects Prevention Study teaches us about exposures or other factors during pregnancy that might raise or lower the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. Through this important work, we’ve learned that women who take certain medications, are obese, have uncontrolled diabetes, smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol during pregnancy increase their risk of having a baby born with a birth defect. We are turning this science into action, but we cannot do this alone.

This month and throughout the year, we invite you to draw attention to the ways we know a woman can increase her chance of having a healthy baby—before she becomes pregnant: take folic acid; have regular medical checkups; make sure medical conditions, such as diabetes, are under control; talk to a health care provider about medication use; have tests for infectious diseases and get necessary vaccinations; and do not use cigarettes, alcohol, or other drugs.  It’s important to remember that many birth defects happen very early during pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant, so planning a pregnancy is key and can help make a difference.

Like many of you, we are working toward a day when every child is born with the best health possible. We encourage you to use our birth defects prevention resources to help us do that: www.cdc.gov/birthdefects.

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Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding week in celebrated every year from August 1 to 7. This year, more than 170 countries are celebrating this great event with the theme Talk to me! Breastfeeding – a 3D Experience which emphasizes the importance of communication. When we look at the breastfeeding support, not only should we see it in the two dimensions of time (from pre-pregnancy to weaning) and place (the home, community, health care system, etc), but also in the third dimension of communication at various levels and between various sectors. That is what “3D” means.

Breastfeeding is regarded as a good way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need and protect them from illness. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.

Although breastfeeding has been increasing in popularity in many countries in the Americas, much remains to be done to optimize breastfeeding practices. In most countries of the Americas, fewer than half of babies begin breastfeeding within the first hour of life. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is low, ranging from 8% to 64% of babies in different countries of Latin America.

To promote the advantage of breastfeeding, all of us can use our most powerful tool — COMMUNICATION — to tell others why breastfeeding matters. By enhancing the perception and knowledge about breastfeeding and bringing the dialogue to life, we can make this year’s World Breastfeeding Week celebration a true 3D experience: an opportunity for outreach, an investment in a healthy future, and ultimately, a unifying lens through which to see the world.

For more information, please visit http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

Influenza and Pregnancy: After 2009 H1N1

Contributed by: Sonja A. Rasmussen, MD, MS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

Pregnant women have long been known to be at increased risk for severe illness from influenza.  For this reason, flu shots have been recommended for pregnant women by key professional groups for many years.  However, before the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, vaccination rates among pregnant women were low, the lowest of any of the adult groups for whom influenza vaccination was recommended.

We are now well into the first influenza season following the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.  However, we entered this flu season armed with considerably more knowledge about influenza and pregnant women than we ever had before.  The focus on influenza and pregnancy that occurred during the 2009-2010 flu season led to unprecedented collaborations between CDC and its partners in maternal and child health.  These collaborations resulted in research to better understand influenza during pregnancy.   We now know that pregnant women with influenza who are otherwise healthy can become severely ill and die, even in the 21st century.  We also now know that early treatment can prevent severe illness and death. Pregnant women with 2009 H1N1 who were treated early with antiviral medications were less likely to require admission to an intensive care unit and less likely to die.  And we have more data to show that getting a flu shot during pregnancy can protect infants from influenza for up to 6 months after birth. These babies are at high risk of complications from influenza, but the flu shot is not recommended for them because it doesn’t work well – their immune systems are too immature to respond appropriately.

Equally as important, we know more about what motivates pregnant women to get the flu shot.  Surveys conducted by CDC colleagues have shown that health care providers’ recommendations are powerful:  pregnant women whose health care providers recommended flu vaccination are much more likely to receive flu shots.  Based on this research, messages targeting pregnant women and their health care providers were developed, and these messages were disseminated in new ways – moving beyond the brochure to social media, videos, and posters.  And the great news is that these efforts paid off — recent data suggest that influenza vaccination coverage among pregnant women was higher last year than ever before.  Data from 10 states participating in the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) showed vaccination coverage during the 2009-2010 flu season for pregnant women was 50.7% for seasonal influenza and 46.6% for 2009 H1N1.  This compares to 11.3% of pregnant women receiving the seasonal flu shot during the 2008-2009 season, according to data from the National Health Interview Survey.

But how do we build on this success, now that the media attention has faded?  As professionals who care about the health of mothers and babies, we need to continue to work together to do the research and to develop and disseminate messages that work. I’d like to thank you for your continued partnership – together our efforts are making a difference in the lives of mothers and babies!

My CDC colleagues have developed influenza communications materials that target pregnant women:

  • Posters to promote flu vaccination for clinics and patient rooms:

Print posters yourself:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/pregnant/preg.pdf (English)

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/pregnant/preg_esp.pdf (Spanish)

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/pregnant/flu_pregnancy_poster_508.pdf (English)

Or order from the warehouse http://wwwn.cdc.gov/pubs/ncird.aspx (scroll down to Flu Materials/Pregnant Women)

  • Patient-friendly educational DVD movie and PSA for your waiting room:

You can preview the movie or send patients to this link: http://www.cdc.gov/CDCTV/ProtectBaby/

Order from the warehouse http://wwwn.cdc.gov/pubs/ncird.aspx (scroll down to Flu Materials/Pregnant Women)

  • Podcasts for pregnant women:

Pregnant Women: Know the Signs and Symptoms of Flu http://www2c.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp?f=4062255

Pregnant Women Need a Flu Shot   http://www2c.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp?f=4061727

Additional information about flu and pregnancy can be found below:

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

National Infant Immunization Week

April 24 to May 1 is National Infant Immunization Week. The Centers for Disease Control has a website page devoted to the promotion of this week, as well as useful information on events and activities.

Outstanding progress has been made in immunization rates for children younger than two years old. Immunization coverage rates in the United States for vaccines routinely recommended for infants and young children remain at or near record highs. For example, rates for measles, rubella, and three doses of Hib and Hep B are greater than 90 percent. However, there is still much work to be done.

Over one million children in the United States are not adequately immunized and each day nearly 12,000 children are born and each in need of protection from diseases. Thousands of lives are in jeopardy from vaccine-preventable diseases, and hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on the care of disease stricken children whose illnesses could have been avoided. National and community organizations and health departments can play an important role in ensuring that all our children are appropriately immunized by the age of two. Healthcare providers need to actively communicate with parents and caregivers about immunization, especially when improvements in vaccines result in changes to the immunization schedule.

Parents and caregivers need to know that their children can and will be protected against many childhood diseases. During National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) and Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA), efforts are made in hundreds of communities around the United States and throughout the Western Hemisphere to increase awareness of the importance of immunization and to achieve immunization goals.

Learn more on the CDC’s website for National Infant Immunization Week.