Only 4 percent of women give birth on their estimated delivery date. That’s because of the natural variation in how long it takes a baby to grow and because of our limited ability to predict due dates.
Medicine, it turns out, is surprisingly bad at measuring the precise age of a fetus or how far along a woman is into her pregnancy.
Having concrete information about a baby’s “gestational age” wouldn’t just help moms plan their pregnancies. It would also help doctors better determine whether a fetus is developing as it should, and what extra care may be needed for safer births. Doctors also have no way of accurately predicting whether a baby might arrive too early — a leading cause of infant death globally.
The first hours after a baby is welcomed into the world may have short- and long-term consequences. Evidence has shown that newborns who are placed skin to skin with their mothers immediately after birth have better respiratory, temperature, and glucose stability, and significantly less crying that stipulates less stress.
An illustration of a fetal lamb inside the “artificial womb” device, which mimics the conditions inside a pregnant animal.- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Scientists have created an “artificial womb” in the hopes of someday using the device to save babies born extremely prematurely.
So far the device has only been tested on fetal lambs. A study published Tuesday involving eight animals found the device appears effective at enabling very premature fetuses to develop normally for about a month.
“We’ve been extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model,” says Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who led the study published in the journal Nature Communications.
“They’ve had normal growth. They’ve had normal lung maturation. They’ve had normal brain maturation. They’ve had normal development in every way that we can measure it,” Flake says.
Flake says the group hopes to test the device on very premature human babies within three to five years.
“What we tried to do is develop a system that mimics the environment of the womb as closely as possible,” Flake says. “It’s basically an artificial womb.”
More and more research has said there are benefits to keeping the umbilical cord attached for several minutes after childbirth ― a practice known as “delayed cord clamping.” But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has held off from endorsing the practice, saying there was insufficient evidence to support it universally.
This week ACOG issued new guidelines changing its stance. In the first policy opinion on the topic issued since 2012, the group now recommends that doctors and midwives hold off on clamping all healthy newborns’ cords for at least 30 to 60 seconds.
“While there are various recommendations regarding optimal timing for delayed umbilical cord clamping, there has been increased evidence that shows that the practice in and of itself has clear health benefits for both [all] infants,” Dr. Maria Mascola, lead author of the new ACOG opinion, wrote in a press release. “And, in most cases, this does not interfere with early care, including drying and stimulating for the first breath and immediate skin-to-skin contact.”
(click link to read the entire article on HuffingtonPost.com)
If you’re questioning the rightness of your desire to pick up your baby when he cries, or lie beside him as he falls to sleep, read this.
“He’s got you wrapped around his little finger.” “She’ll never learn if you do whatever she demands.” “He needs to learn to self-settle.”
These are phrases every new parent is inundated with by well-meaning strangers. Despite the journey to becoming parents being one filled with much anticipation and joyful excitement, we live in a world that seemingly undervalues normal physiological behaviour in babies, and places way too much emphasis on the quest for them to be independent in their own entities. We are warned of creating “bad habits” with our children by being there for them when they need us, and we are chastised for wanting our babies in our beds near us at night time or for feeding overnight.
Every day in the United States, millions of expectant mothers take a prenatal vitamin on the advice of their doctor.
The counsel typically comes with physical health in mind: folic acid to help avoid fetal spinal cord problems; iodine to spur healthy brain development; calcium to be bound like molecular Legos into diminutive baby bones.
But what about a child’s future mental health? Questions about whether ADHD might arise a few years down the road or whether schizophrenia could crop up in young adulthood tend to be overshadowed by more immediate parental anxieties. As a friend with a newborn daughter recently fretted over lunch, “I’m just trying not to drop her!”
Yet much as pediatricians administer childhood vaccines to guard against future infections, some psychiatrists now are thinking about how to shift their treatment-centric discipline toward one that also deals in early prevention.
In 2013, University of Colorado psychiatrist Robert Freedman and colleagues recruited 100 healthy, pregnant women from greater Denver to study whether giving the B vitamin choline during pregnancy would enhance brain growth in the developing fetus.
Black Breastfeeding Week was created because for over 40 years there has been a gaping racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. The most recent CDC data show that 75% of white women have ever breastfed versus 58.9% of black women. The fact that racial disparity in initiation and even bigger one for duration has lingered for so long is reason enough to take 7 days to focus on the issue, but here are a few more:
1. The high black infant mortality rate: Black babies are dying at twice the rate (in some place, nearly triple) the rate of white babies. This is a fact. The high infant mortality rate among black infants is mostly to their being disproportionately born too small, too sick or too soon. These babies need the immunities and nutritional benefit of breast milk the most. According to the CDC, increased breastfeeding among black women could decrease infant mortality rates by as much as 50%. So when I say breastfeeding is a life or death matter, this is what I mean. And it is not up for debate or commenting. This is the only reason I have ever needed to do this work, but I will continue with the list anyway.