Archive for the ‘ Must Read ’ Category

Stem Cell Breakthrough Means Biological Babies for Same-Sex Couples

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Couple ChildDesigner babies? Three-parent babies? Here’s what’s next: two-dad (or mom) babies from stem cells.

A team of scientists have reached an incredible breakthrough—they have successfully created identical human egg and sperm cells from the stem cells of human skin, regardless of gender.

This new technique can be used as IVF treatments to solve fertility problems for couples, especially same-sex couples. “While this breakthrough could help men and women who have been rendered infertile by disease, gay groups have also expressed hope that this project will eventually lead to the creation of children made from same-sex parents,” reports Medical Daily.

In addition, the technique can solve certain age-related diseases, or epigenetic mutations, because cells that form sperm and eggs cells do not contain these mutations.

The use of stem cells to create egg and sperm cells builds on a previous study that was published by lead researcher Dr. Azim Surani and his team last year, when they converted mice skin cells into germ cells (a step toward egg and sperm cells). And it’s likely that the procedure may be introduced within two years—although moral and ethical arguments will undoubtedly be raised.

This news comes right on the heels of Britain’s decision to allow the three-parent baby IVF technique, making Britain the first official country to do so in the world. The first baby using the technique — also know as mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) — will be born in 2016.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn

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

Image: Couple with child via Shutterstock

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Could Ditching Your Dishwasher Lead to Fewer Allergies for Kids?

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

cleaning dishesFor the past few years, researchers around the world have dedicated their studies to find out why so many childhood allergies are on the rise.

A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that there may actually be a positive link between handwashed dishes and decreased children’s allergies.

The study, published in the journal of Pediatrics, focused on more than 1,000 children between the ages of 7 and 8. In addition to determining if a parent washed dishes by hand or with a dishwasher, researchers noted if children ate fermented foods, and consumed foods that were purchased directly from farms (such as eggs, meat, and unpasteurized milk). Researchers then analyzed each child’s development of asthma, eczema, and hay fever.

“Ultimately, the researchers found that children raised in households where dishes were always washed by hand had half the rate of allergies,” reports the The New York Times. In fact, 38 percent of children who ate from dishwashed plates had a history of eczema, compared to only 23 percent of children who ate from handwashed plates. “They also discovered that this relationship was amplified if the children also ate fermented foods or if the families bought food directly from local farms.”

The correlation between handwashed dishes and fewer allergies is likely due to an idea known as “hygiene hypothesis,” which argues that children who live in germ- and bacteria-free environments develop more allergies because a tolerance is never built up.

The AAP study also notes, “Dishwashing by hand might, however, be associated with different lifestyle and socioeconomic factors that could act as cofounders, explaining the lower prevalence of allergy seen in children whose parents use hand dishwashing.” Meaning that how children are raised (including their family backgrounds, economic households, etc.) may play a role in how dishes are washed. And further research is needed to confirm if there is a definite cause and effect relationship between these findings.

Read more about the dishwashing and allergy study on AAP.org.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn

Baby Care Basics: Allergies
Baby Care Basics: Allergies
Baby Care Basics: Allergies

Image: Daughter helping with dishes via Shutterstock

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Here’s Why a Doctor Denied a Baby Healthcare

Friday, February 20th, 2015

stuffed puppyChoosing the right pediatrician to care for your newborn can be nerve-racking for any parent who wants to make sure they pick a nurturing and thorough doctor.

Like many parents, one couple in Michigan interviewed a number of pediatricians before the birth of their daughter, Bay. Months before she was born, Krista and Jami Contreras decided on Dr. Vesna Roi, and six days after birth, they arrived at the doctor’s office for Bay’s first appointment.

But much to their surprise, the parents were turned away for one reason: they are a lesbian couple.

After spending time in “much prayer,” Dr. Roi concluded that she would not be the best fit for Bay. Another doctor at the practice actually delivered the unexpected news. He offered to take Bay on as his patient, but that did not make the situation any less shocking for the Contreras.

I was completely dumbfounded,” said Krista, Bay’s biological mother. “We just looked at each other and said, ‘Did we hear that correctly?’” Jami, put it more simply and accurately when she said, “You’re discriminating against a baby? It’s just wrong.”

Months later, Dr. Roi sent a handwritten letter to the parents. The letter did not directly state that she made her decision based on their sexual orientation, but she did explain that she did not judge the couple’s “free choice.”

Krista and Jami did not immediately reach out to the media about their experience, but they finally chose to speak out so that others are aware that instances like this still happen.

Although Dr. Roi’s actions may be discriminatory, they are not illegal. “Currently, 22 states have laws that prohibit doctors from discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation. Michigan is not one of these states,” reports USA Today. Also, there is currently no federal law protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination.

This is not the first time a child has been refused something because of a parent’s sexual orientation. Just last month, Brian Copeland and Greg Bullard’s visit with a private preschool was canceled once the administration learned that they were a married couple raising children.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Your First Prenatal Visit and Tests
Your First Prenatal Visit and Tests
Your First Prenatal Visit and Tests

Image: Stuffed puppy with stethoscope via Shutterstock

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Body Image Issues Begin as Early as Age 5

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

girl looking in mirrorIt’s well known that many Americans, especially women, dislike their bodies. Much of the blame for this problem is placed on the media for airbrushing models and celebrities into unrealistic, typically unattainable beauties — and on society for glorifying these retouched versions of people.

We usually assume that the battle with negative self-image begins when adolescents hit puberty, but a new report from Common Sense Media suggests that these issues are beginning even earlier than that. Although the report is not comprehensive, information was compiled from numerous body image studies to determine what influences a child’s attitudes and behaviors, and at what age.

Researchers discovered that children begin to express concerns about their bodies as young as age 5. And at this young age, parents usually play a role in influencing their kids — as Common Sense Media notes, “you are your child’s first teacher,” meaning that kids can still pick up on subtle but negative body image message you give (even if you’re not harshly criticizing your body).

Even though body image research is often focused on girls, boys are influenced, too. According to the report, one-third of boys (and more than half of girls) between the ages of 6 and 8 believe an ideal body is thinner than their current body size. And 1 in 4 kids have already tried dieting by age 7. And get this—while a Barbie-like physique is knowingly unattainable, the measurements of male action figures surpass the measurements of even the largest bodybuilders!

To counteract the negative body image, Common Sense suggests that you talk openly about appreciating your body, steer clear of commenting on others’ appearances, and participate in healthy habits for your well-being (and not just to look better in the dress you’re wearing soon!).

“A lot of the negative body image comes from internal views of oneself, and when you can really shift that conversation from how someone looks to how someone feels, then kids can really start to think about what their choices are, and how they have control over how they feel, and that brings positive self-esteem and self-awareness,” says Seeta Pai, vice president of research for Common Sense Media and author of the report.

Also: Read these tips on how to talk to your kids about body image.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Image: Girl looking in mirror via Shutterstock

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Three IUDs and Implants Can Still Be Used Past End Dates

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Woman with IUDWomen who opt for intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants as birth control may be able to use the contraceptives longer — and with the same effectiveness — than the recommended end date, according to a new study.

The research, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, confirms that three types of hormonal IUDs and implants (Mirena, Implanon, and Nexplanon) can last a year longer than what is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

An IUD (like Mirena) is a small T-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted directly into the uterus for up to five years; implants (like Implanon and Nexplanon) are matchstick-sized plastic rods that are inserted into the arm for up to three years.

“Both implants and IUDs work by releasing small doses of a synthetic version of the female sex hormone progestin, which keeps ovaries from releasing eggs,” notes CBS News. “There’s only a certain amount of a progestin available in these devices, which is why the FDA sets an expiration date.”

By extending the lifetime of these devices, women and health care companies could save money, but manufacturers may be reluctant to endorse extensions that could cause them to sell fewer contraceptives.

Researchers followed 800 women between the ages of 18 and 45, which included 263 women with IUDs and 237 with implants. The women were examined for one year after their device expired. “There were no pregnancies in the implant group and only one pregnancy in the IUD group, a failure rate similar to that of hormonal IUDs within the approved five years of use,” reports Health Day.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her adorable baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

How to Take a CVS Pregnancy Test
How to Take a CVS Pregnancy Test
How to Take a CVS Pregnancy Test

Image: Woman holding IUD via Shutterstock

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