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Monday, January 26th, 2015
Does your baby cry uncontrollably when getting a vaccination shot at the doctor’s office? Turns out it’s not merely a melodramatic meltdown. Researchers at the University College London have discovered that a baby’s brain actually registers pain during vaccination shots, reports ScienceDaily.
A small sample size of 15 babies (1 month to 12 months) were studied. Each baby was given an EEG test, where harmless electrodes were placed on the scalp to measure brain activity, and also recorded on film while being given routine vaccinations.
Scientists then compared how each baby’s brain reacted to the shots to their physical pain responses, such as crying, distorted facial expressions, and movement.
All babies experienced pain, but results indicated that younger babies (1- to 2-month-olds) had higher “spikes” in brain activities upon skin contact with needles, versus 12-month-olds. The younger babies’ pain was given a rating system of 8 out of 10.
This initial research provides evidence that more pain-free vaccination (like the rotavirus vaccine, which is given orally) should be created in the near-future to provide better care for babies and also make doctor’s visits less stressful for everyone.
Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. 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
Photo: Crying baby with mom at doctor’s office via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 20th, 2014
We parents are pretty magical. We can change a dirty diaper in a pitch-dark room; juggle bag upon toy-filled bag while pushing the stroller with one hand; and decipher our kid’s babble like no one else on earth. In fact, even our mere presence can be powerful, especially when our baby is in pain.
Now, this isn’t necessarily a new idea. Any parent of a cruising kiddo knows how just one kiss from you can take the sting out a bad fall. Studies have also found that when a parent or caregiver is present during a painful procedure, the child appears to feel less pain. But Regina Sullivan, a neurologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, and pain expert Gordon Barr, of the University of Pennsylvania, wanted to see whether a mom’s presence during a painful procedure actually affected the way her baby’s brain functioned, the Washington Post reported.
To figure that out, they gave infant rats mild electric shocks; some had their moms nearby, others didn’t. The researchers then examined what happened in the portion of the baby rats’ brains where fear is processed. “We found that the pattern of gene expression was very different in the two conditions,” Barr told the Post. “Many of the genes that were changing because the mother was present are later related to brain development. … We know that having the mother is not innocuous, it is a major shaper.”
But one caveat before we throw ourselves a well-deserved ticker tape parade: Researchers still don’t know the long-term effects of your being present while your baby undergoes repeated painful procedures (like the infant rats did). Sullivan said evidence from studies involving animals shows that it could make the brain more susceptible to psychiatric disorders. ”I don’t think the infants can tell the difference” where the pain is coming from, she pointed out.
“These procedures being done on an infant may be very beneficial in that moment in time,” Barr added. “We do want to reduce the pain, but we need to think about what are the long-term consequences.”
Which makes perfect sense, of course. In the meantime, though, I’ll keep kissing my son’s boo-boos, sitting beside him while the dentist counts his teeth, holding him close during vaccinations—and offering whatever comfort I can.
Is it a belly ache or something more serious? Consult our Baby Symptom Checker to see if a call to the doctor is in order. And don’t forget to like All About Babies on Facebook to keep up with the latest baby news!
Parent holding baby’s hand courtesy of Shutterstock
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Friday, August 8th, 2014
There are some things no new parent wants to be without when baby arrives. (See: lots of diapers, a mountain of wipes, and some onesies.) But for some moms- and dads-to-be, that must-have list now includes vaccinations — not just for themselves, but for anyone who will come in contact with baby.
The trend, called “infant cocooning,” may sound like the stuff of extreme parents, but down-to-earth, normal couples are also making sure Grandma is up to date on her diphtheria, influenza and pertussis shots before she can hold the baby, reports CBS’ New York affiliate. And this is music to the ears of the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics, who recommend the practice because it help prevent infants from being exposed to infectious diseases.
Among the potpourri of vaccinations out there, the AAP recommends people get vaccinated against pertussis, or whooping cough. That’s because the respiratory tract infection is on the rise in the United States, and most babies have to wait until they’re 2 months old before receiving the vaccination, CBS reports. Plus, “a baby under 6 months of age is more likely to be hospitalized or die from whooping cough infection as opposed to a 2-year-old or 12-year-old who gets ill and has a bad cough,” says pediatrician (and Parents advisor) Dr. Ari Brown.
While some people think asking family, friends, and caregivers to undergo a round of shots before meeting baby is overkill, I’m siding with the experts on this one. After I brought home my newborn son, I stationed vats of hand sanitizer all around my home and nudged visitors toward them the second they took off their coats. And yes, my husband and I also asked our families to make sure they were up to date on their vaccinations before they came over to meet our son. We had no idea it was called “infant cocooning,” though — to us, it was just plain common sense.
Tell us: Would you ask your family, friends and caregivers to get vaccinated before they’re allowed to hold your newborn?
Should you worry about baby’s sniffles? Consult our Baby Symptom Checker to see if a call to the pediatrician is in order. And be sure to like All About Babies on Facebook to keep up with the latest baby news!
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Image of vaccination courtesy of Shutterstock
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