Posts Tagged ‘ breastfeeding ’

More Moms Shortening Maternity Leaves

Monday, September 30th, 2013

New moms are increasingly shortening their maternity leaves, citing financial and personal pressures as reasons for going back to work within weeks of giving birth.  Analysis of data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that as many as half of new mothers are shortening their leaves by half.  More from Today.com:

About two-thirds of U.S. women are employed during pregnancy and about 70 percent of them report taking some time off, according to most recent figures from the National Center for Health Statistics. The average maternity leave in the U.S. is about 10 weeks, but about half of new moms took at least five weeks, with about a quarter taking nine weeks or more, figures showed.

But a closer look shows that 16 percent of new moms took only one to four weeks away from work after the birth of a child — and 33 percent took no formal time off at all, returning to job duty almost immediately.

That means more women are coping with pregnancy-weary bodies, the demands of a newborn and the demands of a boss — all before the “Welcome, Baby” flowers have wilted on the bedside table.

Research has shown that shorter leaves can interfere with recommended breastfeeding duration and may contribute to higher rates of depression among new moms.

Image: Working mom, via Shutterstock

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Many Medications Safe While Breastfeeding, Pediatrician Panel Says

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) finds that breastfeeding women can safely use many medications without harming their infants.

Experts from the AAP Committee on Drugs also noted that some doctors give moms inaccurate advice that they must quit nursing or stop taking certain medicines to keep their babies safe. From Reuters:

“Sometimes people are told that, because physicians may be worried about the risks the drug may pose … and aren’t necessarily thinking about the potential benefit of breastfeeding,” Dr. Hari Cheryl Sachs, the lead author on the report, said.

That benefit includes a lower risk of ear infections, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sachs said properties of the drug itself, whether it’s being used on a long- or short-term basis and the age and health of the infant all affect how safe it is to use medication while breastfeeding.

“It’s hard to make a blanket recommendation on what drugs are fine for the mother, because it’s going to depend on multiple factors,” Sachs, from the Pediatric and Maternal Health Team in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told Reuters Health.

If breastfeeding women have questions about specific medications, Sachs recommends that they talk with their doctors and check LactMed, a website run by the National Institutes of Health. Again from Reuters:

[LactMed] includes the most up-to-date scientific knowledge on how much of a given drug is passed to an infant during breastfeeding, its effects on babies and possible alternatives to consider.

In its report, published Monday in Pediatrics, the committee focused on a few classes of drugs, including antidepressants, narcotics and smoking cessation aids.

Limited information is available on the long-term effects of antidepressants on babies, it wrote, and because the drugs take a long time to break down, levels could build up in infants’ bodies.

“Caution is advised” for certain powerful painkillers such as codeine and hydrocodone—but others including morphine are considered safer when used at the lowest possible dose and for the shortest possible time, pediatricians said.

Nicotine replacement therapy, especially gum and lozenges, is typically considered safe to use during breastfeeding, according to the committee. However the FDA discourages the use of stop-smoking drugs such as varenicline, marketed in the U.S. as Chantix, among women who breastfeed.

The risk of exposure to any drug for babies needs to be weighed against the drug’s importance for the mother as well as the benefits of breastfeeding, researchers noted.

Image: Prescription medication via Shutterstock

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Longer Breastfeeding Improves Brain Development

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The longer a mother breastfeeds, the more impact she has on her baby’s brain development, according to new research published in JAMA Pediatrics.  The New York Times has more on the study, which was conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School:

For each additional month a baby was breast-fed, verbal ability was higher at age 3, and verbal and nonverbal I.Q. scores were higher at age 7, the study concluded. The researchers accounted for factors like the mothers’ intelligence and employment, home environment and child care.

“One of the theories as to why breast-fed children tend to have better cognitive development is there are nutrients in breast milk that benefit the baby’s developing brain,” said Dr. Mandy Brown Belfort, a neonatologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study.

“Our results support policies that allow women to continue breast-feeding through a year of their child’s life to optimize brain development,” Dr. Belfort said.

Image: Breastfeeding mother, via Shutterstock

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Mom’s Personality Predicts Breast or Bottle Feeding Choices

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Personality traits, including a proclivity for anxiety or social extroversion, have been found to correlate with a mother’s choice to feed her baby by bottle or breast. LiveScience.com has more on the study, which was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing:

Dr. Amy Brown, who studies early nutrition at Swansea University in Wales, surveyed 602 mothers of infants ages 6 to 12 months, to see if personality traits were linked to breast-feeding rates. The women in the study ranged in age from 16 to 45 years old, and spanned a spectrum of income, education and professional achievement levels.

Brown found extroverted, conscientious and emotionally stable mothers were more likely to try breast-feeding. But being agreeable or open to new experiences made no difference, according to the findings published Tuesday (Aug. 6) in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

More than 80 percent of the women in the study tried to breast-feed, but less than half who tried were still breast-feeding six months later. And women who switched from breast to bottle tended to switch quickly. About 73 percent of the women who stopped breast-feeding did so within two weeks after giving birth.

Women who were conscientious — for example, detailed-oriented and punctual — were likely to start, but also likely to stop breast-feeding.

Mothers who kept breast-feeding during the first six months were more extroverted and less anxious than mothers who always bottle-fed or switched to the bottle. The effect was particularly strong within the first six weeks after birth.

Image: Mother bottle-feeding her baby, via Shutterstock

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Half of New Moms Breastfeed, CDC Says

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Half of American new mothers now breastfeed their newborns for the recommended period of at least six months, according to data analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  More from Today.com:

It’s a big increase from just 35 percent in 2000 and is good news for babies and moms alike, as breastfeeding boosts the immune system, may lower the risk of obesity and is even linked with higher intelligence.

“This is great news for the health of our nation because babies who are breastfed have lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections, diabetes and obesity, and mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that newborns get nothing but breastmilk until they are six months old. The AAP recommends that mothers continue to breastfeed, along with giving other food, after six months for at least a year or even longer “as mutually desired by mother and infant.”

Studies show that babies given nothing but breastmilk for the first four months of life have a 72 percent lower risk of severe pneumonia and other lower respiratory tract infections for their first year. If moms stop breastfeeding between four and six months, their babies have four times the risk of pneumonia compared to moms who breastfeed for a year or longer.

Breastmilk contains the nutrients that a newborn baby needs and also transfers disease-fighting antibodies from mother to baby – something that’s very important for the first few months before an infant can be vaccinated. There’s also a growing body of evidence that beneficial bacteria, and perhaps also viruses and fungi, from a mother’s milk and skin can affect her baby’s health.

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