Entries in Infants (37)


Fisher-Price Recalls 800K Infant Sleepers over Risk of Mold Exposure

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(WASHINGTON) -- Fisher-Price is recalling about 800,000 infant sleepers over concerns about mold buildup, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on Tuesday.

The recall affects Newborn Rock 'n Play Sleepers sold in stores and online since September 2009.

The CPSC said Fisher-Price has received 600 reports of mold on the recliner seats and some parents have reported illnesses linked to the product.

"Sixteen consumers have reported that their infants have been treated for respiratory issues, coughs and hives after sleeping in the product," the CPSC said in a press release.

Mold can develop under the sleeper's removable seat cushion if it is left wet or not cleaned frequently, warns the CPSC.  

Consumers who own the affected product are being asked to immediately check it for any mold.  If they spot any, they should cease use of the sleepers right away and contact Fisher-Price to find out how to remove the mold properly.

The recall does not affect Newborn Rock 'n Play Sleepers currently in stores.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Parents Can Let Sleepless Babies Cry It Out: Study

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly half of mothers with babies over six months of age report problems with their baby's sleep. This common problem not only leads to sleepless nights for parents, but it also doubles the risk that moms will suffer from feelings of depression.

Now, a new study released today in the journal Pediatrics suggests it is OK to let babies cry while trying to fall asleep -- a finding that may help settle a long-running debate among both parents and experts over whether allowing a baby to cry itself to sleep harms the child in the long run.

Australian researchers looked at 225 babies from seven months to 6 years of age to compare the difference between parents who were trained in sleep intervention techniques and those who were not. Specifically, researchers allowed parents in the sleep intervention group to choose one of two sleep training techniques to use with their baby. Parents who chose "controlled crying" responded to their infant's cry at increasing time intervals. Parents who chose "camping out," also called "adult fading," sat with their infant until they fell asleep, removing themselves earlier each night over three weeks.

Parents in the control group were not taught the sleep training techniques and instead provided their own routine care.

What the researchers found was that children and mothers in the sleep training group had improved sleep, and the mothers were less likely to experience depression and other emotional problems. These benefits lasted up to the time the babies turned 2.

Moreover, the study looked at various factors to determine whether harm was done to children in the sleep training group, including mental and behavioral health, sleep quality, stress, and relationship with their parents. They found no differences between children in the two groups, leading researchers to conclude that these sleep training techniques are safe to use.

"[P]arents can feel confident using, and health professionals can feel confident offering, behavioral techniques such as controlled comforting and camping out for managing infant sleep," the researchers write in the study.

Experts not involved with the study said the findings make sense.

"It's kind of like having the ability to get a rental car at the airport, but why would you get one if a limo shows up?" said Dr. Ari Brown, an Austin, Texas-based pediatrician and author of Baby 411. "The parent is the limo."

"While stressful for the infant, it almost certainly falls under the 'positive stress' heading," said Rahil D. Briggs, director of the Healthy Steps program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. "Positive stress creates growth in the child, in the form of coping skills and frustration tolerance that serve to be critically important throughout the life span."

But for parents, the message may be even more important.

"This study empowers parents to be active in shaping their infant's behavior to be consistent with appropriate developmental milestones," said Dr. John Walkup, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at NY-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hot Car Hazard: Parent Forgetfulness Can Be Deadly

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One hot summer day, Brandi Koskie strapped her 2-week old daughter Paisley into her rear-facing car seat and drove off to run some errands. As her daughter slept peacefully, Koskie parked, got out of the car, locked the door and walked away.

Fortunately she remembered within a minute that she had left her baby behind.

"I ran back, unbuckled her and held her. I was sobbing and shaking for probably 10 minutes afterwards," said Koskie, who is from Wichita, Kansas. "I kept thinking about how the worst might have happened."

Most parents think they could never make the mistake of leaving their baby in the car in sweltering heat. Yet according to the advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide, Koskie was right to be upset. The outcome can be tragic.

In the first week of August alone, according to another group, Kids and Cars, eight children across the United States died from heatstroke in hot vehicles; nearly 40 children die this way each year.

Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, happens when the body's thermostat is overwhelmed with heat. Safe Kids USA says children are at the greatest risk because their bodies heat up 3 to 5 times more quickly than an adult’s.

What sort of parent could be so negligent? Although often portrayed as monsters in the media and sometimes even charged with manslaughter or child abuse, Jeff Brown, an assistant clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says they are often otherwise loving and attentive parents who feel hassled, distracted and confused.

"It can happen so easily if someone is overwhelmed and hyper-focused on what they have to do. When you're trying to multitask and do too many things, the brain goes on overload. The responsibility of caring for your child just slips from your mind," he says.

One San Francisco University report that recorded 424 heat related deaths of children in 12 years found that slightly more than half occurred because the parent simply forgot the child was in the car.

Jeanne Cosgrove, the Sunrise Children's Hospital coordinator for the Safe Kids Coalition in Las Vegas, adds that kids are also more likely to be left behind when there is a change in routine and the other parent has responsibility for the child. "They go about their normal day not realizing the baby is still in the back seat," she says.

Rear-facing car seats may also be a contributing factor in parent's forgetfulness. While experts agree that a rear-facing seat increases a child's safety during a collision, the website Parent Central says, "the last time experts pushed a new campaign to put more children in rear-facing seats - in the 1990s, to cut the chances of being killed by air bags - the number of children who died in hot cars spiked."

Brown says some tricks that can help spaced out parents: Leave your purse or briefcase in the back seat so you have to retrieve it before leaving the car, play children's music on the radio as a reminder that your bundle of joy is along for the ride, and set your phone alarm with reminders that it's your day to babysit.

In some cases, parents believe it's OK if they run a quick errand and hustle back to the car. They don't want the hassle of unbuckling a seat belt and wrestling with a squirming child. But they may not realize how quickly the inside of a car can become an oven. Cosgrove says a car can heat up at a rate of more than two degrees a minute. And opening the windows does little good because much of the heat radiates off seats and dashboards.

While being in a hurry is understandable, experts agree that it's no excuse for negligence.

Richard Gallagher, an associate professor at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center, says he believes the solutions for time-strapped parents are obvious -- either leave your children at home or get them out of the car and bring them with you, even if you only plan on being gone for a few minutes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Google Search Results for Infant Sleep Safety Mostly Wrong

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Feeling lucky?  A new study shows you might need it if you're "googling" medical advice instead of asking your doctor.

In a study of 1,300 Google search results related to infant sleep safety, researchers found that only 43.5 percent of websites provided accurate information.  The rest were either inaccurate or irrelevant.

"It is important for health care providers to realize the extent to which parents may turn to the Internet for information about infant sleep safety and then act on that advice, regardless of the reliability of the source," said Dr. Rachel Moon, the pediatrician who led the research effort published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Moon, a Sudden Infant Death Syndrome researcher at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., used 13 search phrases related to infant sleep safety, including "infant sleep position," and "pacifier infant" to conduct her study.  Moon and her team analyzed the first 100 Google results for each phrase, and deemed them accurate if they matched up-to-date recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Moon's colleague, Brandi Joyner, told ABC News she regularly tells patients to double-check their online sources' validity before acting on the advice.  Joyner is a clinical research coordinator at Children's National Medical Center and health educator at the Children's National WIC clinic in Washington, D.C., where she tells women how to keep their children safe even at naptime and bedtime.

"If you want to turn to the Internet, make sure the website is ending in .gov or .org or .state," Joyner said.

The most accurate sites were from government organizations, which were accurate 80.1 percent of the time, according to the study.  Researchers found that the least accurate websites were blogs, which were only accurate 30.9 percent of the time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dogs, Cats May Help Kids Avoid Respiratory Illnesses

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Having dogs or cats during infancy may actually protect children from respiratory illnesses during the first year of life, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests.

Finnish researchers followed 397 children from the time their mothers were pregnant through age 1.  They found that those who were exposed to dogs at home had fewer respiratory illnesses or symptoms compared with children who didn't have dogs.  Children with dogs also had less-frequent ear infections and needed antibiotics less often than children never exposed to dogs.

Cats offered similar protective benefits, but to a lesser degree.

The findings, wrote the authors, suggest that early contact with dogs or cats may ramp up infants' immune systems.

"We speculate that animal contacts could help to mature the immunologic system, leading to more composed immunologic response and shorter duration of infections," they wrote.

The amount of time a dog spends inside the home also has an impact on children's respiratory health.  Children who live in houses where dogs are inside less than six hours a day are at lowest risk for respiratory problems.  The authors believe it could be because dogs that are inside track less dirt.  More exposure to dirt leads to more exposure to different types of bacteria, which can help strengthen the immune system.

Other studies also suggest that pets can lower children's risk of certain illnesses.  Research out of the University of California, San Francisco published in June found that dust in homes where there are dogs may protect children against respiratory syncytial virus, a common cause of potentially severe cold-like illnesses.

But the Finnish study didn't include parents with allergies to dogs or cats.  Parents with these allergies are more likely to have children with the same allergies, and having pets around very young children who are allergic may be unsafe.

"If an infant has an allergic predisposition, their reaction will be more pronounced than an older child's," said Dr. Nina Shapiro, director of pediatric otolaryngology at UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital, meaning that if an allergic infant is exposed to a dog or cat, it can potentially be dangerous.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FDA Approves Meningitis Vaccine for Infants

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday approved an infant vaccine that experts say will protect small children from two potentially fatal bacterial diseases.

Menhibrix, manufactured by the Belgium-based company GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, is said to prevent the potentially life-threatening Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib disease) and Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcal disease) from occurring in children who are particularly susceptible when under 2 years of age. The combination vaccine is to be administered to infants in four doses beginning as early as 6 weeks of age with the last dose being given as late as 18 months of age.  

The FDA says that without the vaccination, the Hib and meningococcal diseases are especially dangerous to children because their symptoms can be difficult to detect or distinguish from other common childhood illnesses. Additionally, Hib and meningococcal disease often progress quickly and can lead to long-term health conditions such as blindness, mental retardation or amputations.  The diseases can even be fatal in some cases.

These bacteria, the FDA says, can lead to sepsis once the bloodstream becomes infected.  Meningitis follows the bacteria's infection of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Common side effects of Menhibrix include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, irritability and fever, the FDA cautions.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Infants Learn to Avoid Drowning in Aggressive Program

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For nearly 50 years, behavioral scientist Harvey Barnett has pushed infants into swimming pools with the hopes that they'd rescue themselves.  The program, never fully embraced by pediatricians, aggressively teaches infants as young as six months survival swimming techniques.

Barnett founded Infant Swimming Resource in 1966 after his neighbor's 9-month-old son drowned.  To date, the program has nearly 1,000 documented cases of children using survival swimming techniques to save themselves from drowning.

YouTube has shown numerous cases of babies intentionally falling into pools, only to tactically kick their head above water, roll on their backs, and float up to safety. In some videos, parents purposely push their child in the water and watch them rescue themselves.

Drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  An estimated 19 percent of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools where lifeguards are present.

To be eligible for the class, infants must be able to sit up and roll over, since those are two techniques used, said Kim Moore, a certified Infant Swim Self Rescue instructor for nearly a decade. The children are taught to kick their head above water and roll on their backs to stay afloat, she said.

But the program, which has grown in popularity nationwide, has been slow to be accepted by major pediatrician organizations.

Before 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended against swimming lessons for children under age 4.

While the Academy has found some benefit to swimming lessons between ages 1 to 4 to prevent drowning, it has loosened but not eliminated its recommendation against infant and toddler swimming lessons.

"It must be stressed that even advanced swimming skills will not always prevent drowning and that swimming lessons must be considered only within the context of multilayered protection with effective pool barriers and constant, capable supervision," according to the 2010 AAP policy statement.

Evidence suggests that children ages 1 to 4 are less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming lessons, but the evidence has come from small studies and it's not clear exactly what type of techniques have been beneficial, said Dr. Mary Rvelyn O'Neil, a pediatrician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.

O'Neil said she warns parents against intense survival-like swimming lessons before age one.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Goldilocks Effect': How Babies Learn

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Not too simple and not too complicated: Babies focus their attention on situations that are "just right," according to a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Researchers from the University of Rochester coined this type of engagement the "Goldilocks effect." They proposed babies take in information that is not too predictable, but not too complicated by focusing on sights, sounds and movements.

In a study that included 72 7- and 8-month-old babies, researchers connected children to eye-tracking devices before they watched video animations of different items on a screen. A variety of objects were placed on the screen in different areas in several short trial periods. Researchers found that babies lost interest when the situation on the screen became boring -- meaning repetitive -- or too complicated.

When the babies looked away from the screen, the experiment ended for that item. Researchers noted that the babies quickly learned they were in control of the items they were watching and learned to keep their eyes on the screen if they wanted to watch more. The study showed that "infants are active seekers of information rather than passive recipients, and they, therefore, adjust how they attend to visual information by avoiding overly simple and overly complex events in their world," said Richard Aslin, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center and lead author of the study. "They seek information that is of intermediate complexity, presumably because that is the best way to learn from the environment."

The study helps elucidate the high level of cognitive processing that is occurring inside the brains of infants, said Rahil Briggs, director of Healthy Steps at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

"It reminds me of a concept called 'scaffolding,' or the need to, when teaching a child, meet them at their level and then stretch the material just beyond their current capacity, with support," Briggs said. "This helps children to feel enough mastery to stay engaged and not become bored, while striving for an attainable goal.

"It stands to reason that infants are processing information in a very similar way, and have a 'sweet spot,' within which information is new enough to be exciting, yet not so complicated as to overwhelm," Briggs added.

If information is beyond babies' ability to cognitively understand it, they will, as the authors indicate, most likely spend little time with it, said Paul Miller, associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University.

The authors pointed out that the findings could demonstrate why children like to be read the same story over and over again. Each time, they are understanding something new and different from the story, whether they are themes, emotions, fears or concerns. Such new understandings could demonstrate the emotional, psychological or developmental challenges characteristic of that stage of development.

To the everyday parent, these findings may help parents judge what babies want by observing whether they continue to look at, gurgle, vocalize, move their arms and legs, reach for, grasp or lose attention in different objects and situations, Miller said.

"Using the baby's natural attention span allows parents to match their play to what their baby needs," Miller added, "versus what the parent might want to do.

It also would allow them to realize "that they are doing too much or too little," Miller said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Infant Flesh Capsules Seized in S. Korea

ABC News(LONDON) -- The dried flesh of dead infants appears to be the not-so-secret ingredient in a health supplement that is reportedly being smuggled out of China.

The performance-enhancement pills, touted for increasing vitality and sex drive, have been found in the luggage of tourists and in international mail, according to South Korean authorities.

They said they had confiscated nearly 17,500 of the human flesh capsules since last August, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

South Korean authorities warned that the pills could be dangerous to human health.

"This is gross, as well as creepy," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who consults regularly with the Centers for Disease Control.

"We have no idea how this material is processed and under what circumstances," he said. "If it's not done in a hygienic fashion to make assurances infections are excluded, it could contain viruses as well as bacteria."

The dried human tissue may also not have been sterilized, according to Schaffner. "It's an extremely dubious for an operation like this with the potential for infection complications."

It is not known whether these pills made of human flesh have appeared in the United States.

Customs officials in South Korea are beefing up efforts to stop the alleged smuggling, apparently by ethnic Koreans living in northern Chinese cities.

Chinese folklore promotes the belief that a human fetus can cure disease and help with circulation and sexual performance.

Schaffner said the pills could transmit the drug-resistant bacteria MRSA that could be on the skin of a fetus. "If these fetuses went through the birth canal, they can quickly pick up bacteria," he said.

Because the birth canal is in close proximity to the rectum, other bacteria like e coli, salmonella and shigella could be present.

"We know that in China the occurrence of hepatitis B, the viral infection, is exceedingly high," said Schaffner. "That is also of concern."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Universal Heart Screening Recommended for Newborns

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- All newborns should undergo a standard screening for life-threatening heart defects, according to new recommendations published in the Lancet.

Researchers suggested that a pulse oximetry, a low-cost, non-invasive device that tests patients' blood oxygen levels, is more accurate at detecting such heart conditions than a standard clinical examination, and it should be used internationally as routine assessment in all newborns before they leave the hospital.

"The findings of this meta-analysis provide compelling evidence for introduction of pulse oximetry as a screening method in clinical practice," Dr. Shakila Thangaratinam, lead author of the study, wrote in a statement. "The sensitivity of the test is higher than present strategies based on antenatal screening and clinical examination, and the false-positive rate is very low, especially when done after 24 hours of birth."

The device showed an accuracy rate of 99.9 percent, and detected 76.5 percent of all congenital heart-defect cases and had a low false-positive rate of .14 percent. The findings were based on 13 studies that included nearly 230,000 newborn babies.

Congenital heart defects, or flaws in the structure of the heart and blood vessels, are the leading cause of death in newborns, but outcomes can drastically differ if the condition is found early and babies have corrective surgery quickly. The test is intended to detect critical congenital heart disease, not minor heart defects such as heart murmurs.

Since 2011, four states in the United States have passed laws that require newborns to undergo the basic test.

"I agree with the recommendations to use the low-cost screening test of pulse oximetry to help diagnose newborns with congenital heart disease," said Dr. Dennis Mello, director of pediatric cardiac surgery at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. "Pulse oximetry, however, will not detect all patients with congenital heart defects. The cost of pulse oximetry is low and its use could be easily implemented in clinical practice."

Each test averages about $5 to $7 per baby, said Dr. Thomas Anderson, a pediatric cardiologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who is a proponent of the screening.

Anderson helped to implement the screening for all babies born in the state of New Jersey, the first state to pass legislation mandating the test.

"Since it went into effect in August 2011, we've screened about 50,000 to 60,000 babies," said Anderson. "These babies are ready to go home and look healthy and nice and pink, but then they have this underlying condition and these are the babies that collapse or go into shock and potentially die, so detecting these babies right upon birth is certainly beneficial."

Since New Jersey enacted its legislation, Indiana, Maryland and Virginia have followed suit, Anderson said. Most other states have legislative proposals in the works.

Anderson said some experts argued that false-positives will cause unneeded stress for families and the tests will add extra costs to a health care system that has an already-strained budget. But Anderson argued that the detection of severe heart disease in a baby before leaving the hospital eliminates other extreme costs, like emergency room visits and expensive surgical repair.

While nearly all U.S. hospitals already have the need testing equipment, many around the world are stretched for resources. Anderson said it is worth investing in the inexpensive device because of the potential lives saved and high costs avoided.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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