Posts Tagged ‘ newborns ’

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

 

 

 

 

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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.

Infants Can’t Advocate

Dana Baker Kaplin, First Candle, answers the question, “Why is it important to raise awareness about infant mortality?”

Infants and children are unique members of our society in many ways. The most significant distinction, in my view, is that they make up the only segment of our population that is completely unable to advocate for themselves.

On the other hand, many adults face considerable challenges such as loss of a job, divorce, or managing a chronic illness during their lifetime. In these instances, they must take action or advocate for themselves to make change occur.  Those with the capacity to advocate for themselves or on behalf of a particular cause are capable of improving or overcoming challenges. Infants do not have this capacity.

I believe that it is not only important that we raise awareness about infant mortality–it is our responsibility as conscientious and caring members of society.  How do we do this? By educating parents and providers, conducting research that may improve birth outcomes, informing legislators about the significance of infant mortality and the need for funding, involvement in public health education or in other ways.

Having worked in the maternal and child health field for many years, I know at times “addressing infant mortality” can be overwhelming because of such high infant mortality rates and the vast racial disparities that exist.  However, this September, in honor of Infant Mortality Awareness Month it is crucial that we all commit to some action that will raise awareness about the urgent need at address infant mortality in our own communities and beyond.

Learning to Count Dead Babies

Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, Director, Birthing Project USA: The Underground Railroad for New Life, answers, “Why do you feel it is important to raise awareness around infant mortality?”

DeAndre lived ten days, and in his birth, short life and death…he taught me that Infant Mortality Rate means “counting dead babies”.  During the last century, the US counted more dead babies than all the soldiers we lost in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. DeAndre also taught me that each life brings the gift of knowledge. If we pay attention, we can learn something. In his case, along with the reality of death, he taught me that even though he was another woman’s child…he was also my child and the child of every woman and man who have a sense of community and accountability to our ancestors and to our “yet to be born”.

As we remember the little ones who came and left us so quickly, I light a candle of remembrance that flickers with hope.  We do not have all the answers to keep them here as long as we would like but I believe that, as we raise awareness and take action by surrounding young parents with care, information, guidance and support, our babies have a better chance of being born as healthy as possible to parents who are prepared to love and care for them.

View our Pilgramadge  to BabyLand at Birthing Project USA You Tube Channel

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/BirthingProjectUSA

Let’s make sure more babies blow out their 1st candle

Phyllis George, NHSA Senior Program Manager, answers the question, “Why do you feel it is important to raise awareness around infant mortality?”

I learned early in life how devastating the effects of infant mortality can have on families. My parents are from Sierra Leone in west Africa, and many aunts and cousins growing up never got a chance to celebrate the 1st birthdays of their children. Over the years, the number of maternal and infant deaths has decreased, but Sierra Leone still has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Who would have thought that years later I would be working to help bring awareness to the issue in a nation where a woman does not have to walk for miles to receive prenatal care? It amazes me the wealth of resources that are available to people in the United States; yet we only rank 31st  in infant mortality rates among industrialized countries.

I believe that the main factor that contributes to the alarming infant mortality rates in the U.S. is lack of education and awareness about the issue. Other factors such as race and socio-economic status play a part, but many people, even those with a background in public health, are not aware of how to improve their chances of a successful pregnancy. I have yet to experience the privilege of being a mother, but if I wasn’t in the field of maternal and child health, would I know this information and ensure that my unborn child had the best start in life possible? Would I, after having my child, understand how to make sure that life flourishes beyond year one? I honestly do not know.

Health providers, community workers, churches, hair salons, friends, family members…these are the people that those who are most at risk of experiencing an infant death come in contact with on a regular basis. We all need to help in this fight and increase infant mortality awareness. Other countries should use us as an example and follow our lead on ensuring that the families in their communities are healthy. September is when we can begin to open up dialogue on this topic to families who do not know or congressmen who are not aware of the deplorable infant mortality rates in their cities, but let’s continue to spread the message throughout the year. Be the voice for the countless babies who did not live to blow out their first candle.

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.