The First-Ever World Birth Defects Day

birth defectsCleft palate. Spina Bifida. Down syndrome. Heart defects. There’s a host of congenital or hereditary birth defects that could affect your growing fetus, and they’re all scary for parents-to-be to even consider.

We hold our breath during blood tests and ultrasounds, hoping that our baby is developing normally. We don’t relax until we get the thumbs up from our doctor. But the truth is, birth defects are hardly rare. Each year, almost 8 million babies around the world are born with one, including 1 in every 33 newborns in the U.S., according to the CDC. In some cases, the conditions are manageable; in others, they can be fatal.

Which is why 12 organizations across the globe have banded together to found the first World Birth Defects Day, which is on March 3. All day long, these groups, including the March of Dimes and the CDC, will spread the word about these health conditions, the care and treatment options, the prevention programs available, and (hopefully) effect change on a policy level.

Though some high-profile names are attached to the initiative, it’s a total grassroots effort—the more parents who take to social media speak out about their experience with birth defects, the better. And getting involved is as simple as hopping online during your baby’s next nap. Share your personal stories, post some statistics, or even point people to resources so they can educate themselves. Whatever your contribution is, just be sure to use the hashtag #WorldBDDay.

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Baby Care Basics: When a Baby Has a Birth Defect
Baby Care Basics: When a Baby Has a Birth Defect
Baby Care Basics: When a Baby Has a Birth Defect

Image of newborn courtesy of Shutterstock

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The Talk’s Sara Gilbert Gives Birth to a Boy!

Sara Gilbert and Linda PerrySara Gilbert gave birth on Saturday, February 28, to a boy named Rhodes Emilio, confirms People. This is her first baby with musician-wife Linda Perry.

Gilbert also has two children from a previous relationship, son Levi, 10, and daughter, Sawyer, 7.

The exciting baby announcement was shared on The Talk today by Julie Chen. “Our very own Sara and her wife Linda are the proud parents of a new baby boy and both mother and child are doing well,” Chen said. She later tweeted a congrats to the new moms:

a Huge congratulations to @THEsaragilbert and her new baby boy … so happy for you and @RealLindaPerry!

— Julie Chen (@JulieChen) March 2, 2015

Gilbert first announced her pregnancy in September, also on The Talk. When sharing her news, Gilbert said, “I feel good, I feel really good….”

Congratulations to Sara and Linda!

Check out other celebrities who welcomed babies in 2015!

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea.

Horoscope for a Pisces Baby
Horoscope for a Pisces Baby
Horoscope for a Pisces Baby

Photo of Sara Gilbert and Linda Perry via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

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Preemie Who Received a Heart Transplant Is Still a Fighter

Baby Oliver who received a heart transplantA heart transplant surgery is no easy feat, especially one operated on a six-day-old baby who was also born seven weeks premature.

This was the case of Oliver Hope, a preemie born with a major heart defect (dilated cardiomyopathy) at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona.

Before his birth, Oliver’s parents were told about his unusually large heart (the left ventricle was seven times larger than the normal size), and also warned that he had a 58 percent chance of survival. If the baby wasn’t stillborn, a few things still had to align to improve his chances of survival, which included being able to receive a successful heart transplant.

So when Caylyn Otto’s water broke seven weeks before the due date in January, she was terrified about losing her baby. At the hospital, Oliver was born blue in the face, and he struggled to breathe.

But Oliver was a fighter; once he received a breathing tube, he started recovering in the NICU and was placed on a heart transplant list within four days. Two days later, a perfect match was found, and Oliver was immediately prepped for surgery; doctors spent 10 hours giving him a new heart.

And his happy, relieved parents were finally able to hold him for the first time after a few days.

Almost two months have passed since Oliver’s surgery and continued recovery in the NICU, where doctors monitored his heart to see if his body would reject it. All signs are pointing to a strong recovery, which will be fortified by medication for the rest of his life. And now, baby Oliver is finally headed home, as his parents shared on a Facebook page they created, Oliver’s Journey.

“He’s absolutely a miracle baby,” his mom told Yahoo! Parenting. And speaking to CBS News, his dad, Chris Crawford, shared, “To go from, ‘You’re gonna lose him, you’re gonna have a stillbirth,’ to ‘Here, hold your son, here, give your son a kiss, and we’re gonna take him and make him better,’ it was just whoa.”

The hospital believes Oliver is the youngest patient to receive a heart transplant in history. Looking back on the surgery, Christopher Lindblade, M.D., Oliver’s pediatric cardiologist said, “It still kind of gives me chills.”

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea.

Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies
Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies
Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies

Photo of baby Oliver courtesy of the Oliver’s Journey Facebook page

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Two Strong Women Gave Birth, at 51 Years Old!

These two amazing moms might live in different cities, but they have one thing in common: they both gave birth over 50!

Tracey Kahn, a single mom and publicist in New York City, recently welcomed her second child (and second daughter) at the age of 51. Both her newborn, Eloise Becket, and her 2-year-old, Scarlet, were conceived via in vitro fertilization with anonymous sperm and eggs from the same donors, making them biological sisters.

Although Kahn wanted to have kids earlier in life, she didn’t let time or age stop her. “I get responses like, ‘OMG you’re so old, why would you do that?’,” Kahn told People. “I tell them that I’m in good health and just decided to fulfill my dream of having kids, whether I was married or not. It’s all about how you raise them.”

As for Rosalind Aguirre of Hartford, Connecticut, she also gave birth to her second child at 51 — but decades after giving birth to her first child, David, at the age of 17. For years, since her mid-30s, Aguirre wanted a second child, but it became difficult to conceive naturally. Although she considered IVF treatments, they were too expensive in the U.S.

To fulfill her desire of having another child, Aguirre and her husband returned to their birth country, Peru, to pursue more affordable IVF treatments. Doctors were able to fertilize her own eggs (which were still viable) with her husband’s sperm. Within weeks, Aguirre discovered she was pregnant, and baby Katherine was born earlier this week.

Plenty of celeb moms (including Halle Berry and Laura Linney) have also given birth later in life, but usually in their late 40s. Sophie B. Hawkins (best known for her radio hit, “As I Lay Me Down”) will be one of the few to give birth in her 50s. To do so, the singer underwent IVF, using eggs she froze during her 30s (a procedure that can cost in the five figures) and donated sperm. She’s expected to give birth in July to her second child, who will join 6-year-old big brother Dashiell.

According to TODAY, research from the CDC states that “births by women ages 50 to 54 is still a small number” even though “it rose by more than 165 percent from 255… in 2000 to 677 in 2013, most through IVF.” Despite the costs of IVF and egg freezing, this trend is continuing as it becomes safer for healthy, older women to give birth in safer conditions. However, medical issues such as preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, diabetes, and preterm deliveries are still potential risks.

For both Kahn and Aguirre, though, the long process and journey to their second births was worth it — they are the happiest they have ever been.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea.

Trying to Conceive: 5 Common Fertility Mistakes
Trying to Conceive: 5 Common Fertility Mistakes
Trying to Conceive: 5 Common Fertility Mistakes

Photo of in vitro fertilization process via Shutterstock

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Cheaper Diapers for Baby? Maybe in These 2 States

diaper bills A friend of mine is pregnant with her first child, and as I was going through her registry, I remembered how broke my husband and I felt by the time our own baby arrived. Even with two incomes, a tightly edited registry list, and friends and family’s help, we still dropped a lot of money on preparing for our little one. And—shocker—the hemorrhaging of money didn’t stop once he arrived. There were hospital bills (so, so many hospital bills), a bunch of stuff we didn’t realize we’d need until we brought him home and, of course, lots and lots of diapers.

Hands down they ate up the biggest chunk of our monthly baby budget. And since not using them wasn’t an option, I looked for ways to trim costs where I could. We signed up for automatic shipments; we bought in bulk; we returned superfluous gifts and used store credit; we happily accepted unused leftovers from friends.

So when I read about some lawmakers’ efforts to make diapers more affordable for parents in their states, I all but stood up and started clapping. As Elissa Strauss details in her column for The Week, there are two new bills on the docket that could put some much-needed cash back in parents’ pockets. In Connecticut, Bill 06595 would exempt diaper purchases from the state’s 6.35 percent sales tax and save the average family there $300 a year. In Illinois, the current proposal is to lower the sales tax on diapers and wipes from 6.25 percent to 1 percent, which is the same as you’d pay for essentials like food and medicine. Moms and dads in Illinois wouldn’t save a bundle—maybe around $45 a year—but hey, every little bit counts, especially for those of us taking unpaid leave, juggling multiple jobs, or caring for other children.

Now, is lowered sales tax as awesome as, say, Finland’s baby starter box or Sweden’s luxuriously long paid leave? Not by a long shot. But these two bills are a step in the right direction and, hopefully, just the nudge other states need to make this very essential baby item a little more affordable for parents.

Tell us: How do you save on baby supplies, especially diapers and wipes? Share your tips in the comments below.

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget

Image of baby in diaper courtesy of Shutterstock

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