No new mom worth her salt is without a smartphone in the days after baby is born. After all, those cute newborn pictures aren’t going to take themselves! But a new app designed by physicians and engineers at the University of Washington may just give parents another reason to keep their cells close by.
Bilicam is designed to detect jaundice in infants using a smartphone’s camera and flash and a special card that calibrates for various lighting conditions and skin tones. After downloading the app, parents place the card on baby’s belly and then snap a picture of the skin and card together. Data from the photo goes to the cloud, where it’s then analyzed by algorithms. Results are sent to your smartphone. (Start to finish the whole thing takes just a few minutes.) Using that information, your doctor can figure out whether your baby needs a blood test or can skip the needle prick altogether.
Now, I’ve seen a lot of high-tech advances for baby (hello, smart diaper), but what I think is pretty incredible about this app is that it targets a very common condition in newborns. Jaundice happens when the body can’t efficiently rid itself of the chemical bilirubin, and the skin and eyes turn yellow. Sometimes you can spot it, but other times you can’t. (My son had it for a couple of days right after being born, and I never saw a hint of discoloration.) And although it’s a fairly normal condition, if left untreated, jaundice can cause serious complications, like brain damage.
As James Taylor, a UW professor of pediatrics and medical director of the newborn nursery at UW Medical Center, pointed out, babies are discharged from the hospital “before bilirubin levels reach their peak. This smartphone test is really for babies in the first few days after they go home. A parent or health care provider can get an accurate picture of bilirubin to bridge the gap after leaving the hospital.”
But don’t go searching for Bilicam in the app store just yet — it’s still in development. According to UW, the app could be available to doctors within a year and be suitable for at-home use by parents within two years, pending FDA approval.
Tell us: Did your baby have jaundice? How early was it diagnosed and how long was the treatment?
The stats are a real eye-opener: 79 percent of white babies born in 2010 were breastfed from birth, compared with 62 percent of black babies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By six months, 52 percent of white babies were still nursing, compared with 36 percent of black babies, reports the BBC.
As reported in the Huffington Post, the CDC examined 2,643 hospitals across the country and found that ones in zip codes with more than 12.2 percent black residents were dropping the ball when it came to breastfeeding education and support. In some cases, the disparity is particularly striking. Compared to hospitals in zip codes with fewer black residents, these facilities were less likely to help new moms breastfeed within an hour of baby’s birth (46 percent compared with 59.9 percent). They were also more lax on limiting infants’ meals to breast milk (13.1 percent compared with 25.8 percent), and were less prone to letting infants spend the majority of their hospital stay in the same room as mom, which helps promote breastfeeding (27.7 compared with 39.4 percent).
And make no mistake — those early days with baby are a perfect time for moms to learn best practices when it comes to nursing. “Hospital practices during that childbirth period have a major impact on whether a mother is able to start and continue breastfeeding,” said Jennifer Lind, the lead researcher on the CDC study. “So it’s very important that hospitals support mothers in their breastfeeding decisions and follow the recommended policies that have been proven to support breastfeeding.”
Still, experts point out, a supportive hospital environment can only go so far. Breastfeeding moms need continued support from their community after they’ve been discharged and especially if they return to work — two areas some say are lacking. (Kimberly Seals Allers, who organized Black Breastfeeding Week this week, told the Huffington Post that people wondered whether her baby was getting enough food from exclusive breastfeeding, and some told her that nursing “is for poor people.”).
Which makes high-profile events like Black Breastfeeding Week all the more important. For its part, the CDC and the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality are conducting a three-year project focused on raising breastfeeding rates at 89 hospitals in low-income areas. And it’s money well spent. After all, every mother should be given all the facts and all the support she needs before deciding whether to breastfeed.
Tell us: What kind of breastfeeding education did you receive after delivering your baby?
Pull out the pink — it’s a girl for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees! The baby was born Monday night and weighed a healthy 7 pounds, 7 ounces. This is the first girl for Brees and his wife, Brittany. The couple also have three boys: Baylen, Bowen, and Callen.
Although the family is holding off on releasing the baby’s name until the birth certificate is inked, that doesn’t mean the proud dad is staying mum about his little girl. He tweeted the birth announcement and has already posted two photos, including a sweet selfie taken in the hospital (right). “It melted my heart to watch her being born last night,” Brees told reporters after practice on Tuesday. “I got to take the snap, so to speak, and catch her on the way out. That’s a memory I will have forever.” (Side note: Good thing he’s got good hands!)
Now with a much-anticipated little girl in the family, Brees said he and Brittany are probably done expanding their brood. According to NOLA.com, three boys and one girl were what the couple originally wanted.
One of the most frightening moments of motherhood happened when my son was about 20 hours old.
A woman came into my hospital room to give him a bath. It was around midnight, which even in my bleary-eyed state struck me as an odd time to clean an infant. I remembered a nurse told me to always check the badges of people coming into my room — the implication being that even with a staffed-up security team, interlopers could sneak in the hospital. So I eyeballed the woman’s badge in my near-dark room and it looked official enough.
Until a few seconds later, when all of a sudden it didn’t. And she was already gone with my baby in hand. Even though the front desk assured me the woman was in fact a night nurse, I couldn’t sit still until he was back in my arms. It was one of the worst 20-minute waits of my life.
So when I read about a California woman who waltzed into a maternity ward wearing scrubs and carrying fake babies, my heart dropped into my stomach. As ABC News reports, Tonya Whitney said she brought the dolls — called “reborns” because they look an awful lot like a newborn — to Mercy Medical Center in Merced, Calif., in the hopes of selling them to administrators for training or therapeutic purposes. She entered through the ER and a nurse there told her to go straight up to the maternity ward.
Thankfully, a security guard stopped Whitney and her stash of faux babies from entering and took a picture of her. (It appeared on a flyer later posted around the hospital warning staffers about her.) Police were called, and Whitney was charged with trespassing, though she swears her intentions were good. “I, in no way, tried impersonating a nurse,” she told the ABC affiliate in Fresno, and attributed her very nurse-like attire to a recent weight gain. She also said, “I, in no way, ever thought or tried to steal a baby.”
Still, officials were understandably troubled. Turns out, she’s tried this before. ”We are concerned because she did show up at the ER and attempted to get into the maternity ward not once but twice so that concerns us; we’re afraid for the potentiality of abduction,” Merced Police Capt. Tom Trindad told KFSN-TV. And it doesn’t help Whitney’s case that she and her husband were fawning over the dolls as if they were real. “They hold them and hug them and change their diapers,” Mercy Medical Center hospital spokesman Robert McLaughlin told ABC News. “It’s very odd.”
I’m just relieved that security guards were on point that day and police are taking Whitney’s unauthorized visit seriously. After all, a new mom’s focus should be on bonding with baby and maybe even getting a little sleep before going home — not worrying about whether someone is trying to snatch their infant out from under them.
Tell us: If you delivered at a hospital, did you worry about security at all?
In the video below, Wilde is seen next to a (rather large!) green bucket filled with a milky white liquid. She says, “I hope it’s okay. Couldn’t find any water, so I’m gonna use breast milk. Took me all night to make this!” Then she lifts the entire bucket and pours the ice-cold milk on herself!
Some commentators have already noted that Wilde’s breast milk reveal is most likely a joke — and she even published the explanation tweet below.
Oh wait some of you thought that was really breast milk? Oh dear. Uh thank you? But my boobs aren’t that generous. Haha.
Whew. We’re relieved! August is also Breastfeeding Awareness Month, so we’re glad Wilde didn’t just waste several gallons of precious breast milk that some moms would be desperate to have! Wilde probably used soy or almond milk, as she is a vegan (who only ditched her diet temporarily during pregnancy).