Posts Tagged ‘ premature births ’

Parents of Preemies Experience More Stress Years Later

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Stressed motherParents of premature babies worry more about about their child’s development, and this can translate into long-term stress.

According to new research, parents of preterm children (born at least seven weeks early) felt greater stress when their kids began misbehaving later in life than parents of full-term children.

Researchers measured (pre-term and full-term) children’s behaviors and intelligence levels at 7-years-old, and used questionnaires to determine parents’ stress levels. “After accounting for child behavior problems, IQ, gender, and the parents’ coping styles, the study found that parents were more likely to be stressed if their child acted out,” reports Reuters. The stress was especially evident when parents of preemies didn’t discipline their kids, especially if they were girls.

A difference in coping methods was also found — while preterm parents tended to use avoidance, parents of full-term children were more likely to use constructive-problem solving methods. Not surprisingly, the study pointed out that parents who were given support to deal with parenting challenges were less likely be overwhelmed.

The authors did note their uncertainty about whether a child behavior issues caused the stress, or if it was a result of bad behavior. Also according to Reuters, “mothers of children who act out already have higher stress levels and may play and interact with their children less than mothers whose kids behave…Having a preemie with medical complications may just make those interactions worse.”

Mark Linden, the study’s first author, suggests support groups, telephone help lines, or regular visits to the family general practitioner as resources to help parents find the best way to cope. Whatever the cause of parental stress may be, one thing’s for certain: it will likely have a negative effect on children unless addressed right away.

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

Image: Stressed mother via Shutterstock

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Baby Delivered Inside Amniotic Sac Will Soon Go Home

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Amniotic BabyNot all births—especially premature births—are created equal. But in early December, a baby boy who was born 26 weeks premature amazed everyone.

The doctors at Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles delivered Silas Johnson via C-section, and—much to their surprise—he was still fully encased in his mother’s amniotic sac. This is called an en caul birth and only happens once in every 80,000 births. This type of birth is so rare because, even in C-sections, “doctors frequently pierce through the sac as they make their incision to remove the baby,” reports Time.

In some cases, an amniotic sac may be intentionally left intact to protect a premature baby during delivery, but the doctors at Cedars-Sinai had not planned for this outcome.

“It was a moment that really did, even though it’s a cliché: we caught our breath. It really felt like a moment of awe,” said William Binder, M.D., who delivered the baby. “This was really a moment that will stick in my memory for some time.” He even took a moment to snap a photo of Johnson perfectly curled up in the fetal position.

A baby born en caul will continue to receive oxygen through the placenta, but only for a short amount of time, so doctors (or a midwife) need to puncture the sac soon after birth.

Johnson is doing well and is set to head home in less than a month.

Check out more real-life birth stories!

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: Choosing the Right Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor

Image: Screenshot of baby Silas courtesy of a CNN video

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The Number-One Cause of Death in Young Kids Is…

Monday, November 17th, 2014

March of Dimes World Prematurity DayJust in time for World Prematurity Day, the March of Dimes has released some shocking news: Complications from premature birth are now the leading cause of death in young children worldwide, according to new findings published in The Lancet—and it’s not just an “other countries” problem: Out of 162 high-resource countries, the United States ranks a dismal 141st when it comes to child deaths due to preterm birth.

According to a March of Dimes press release:

Of the estimated 6.3 million deaths of children under the age of five in 2013, complications from preterm births accounted for nearly 1.1 million deaths, according to new findings published in The Lancet by a research team coordinated by Robert Black, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, together with World Health Organization and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

And in the U.S., specifically, 28.1 percent of deaths of children under 5 years old—that translates to 8,100—come from direct complications related to preterm birth.

While these stats may sound scary, the news isn’t all bad. ““The success we’ve seen in the ongoing fight against infectious diseases demonstrates that we can also be successful if we invest in prevention and care for preterm birth,” said the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s Joy Lawn, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the research team and a long-term advisor to Save the Children.

Many of the causes for preterm birth are still a mystery to doctors, but to combat this the March of Dimes has invested $75 million as part of its Campaign to End Premature Birth. This money has gone toward creating three new collaborative research centers across the country devoted exclusively to understanding premature birth. Just today, March of Dimes announced plans to open a fourth, at the University of Pennsylvania.

“These centers are really providing a novel, trans-disciplinary approach to preterm birth because it’s such a complex issue,” Diane Ashton, M.D., deputy medical director of the March of Dimes and an ob-gyn in New York City, told Parents.com.

Environmental exposure, access to medical care, and genetic predilection all play some role in preterm birth, Dr. Asthon said, and researchers at these centers will focus in on these areas.

Education is key, as well. “Prematurity is such an important contributor to infant death, not only in the U.S., but globally,” Dr. Ashton said. “By raising awareness it allows us to pull together resources that are necessary.”

If you’ve had a preemie, this news is especially troubling, we know. But new research shows that most preemies can catch up to their full term peers in cognitive testing by the time they are teenagers. A study published in The Journal of Pediatrics in July found that the family and social environment that a child is raised in plays a much bigger role in cognitive development than gestational age.

In the meantime, there are known steps mothers can take to prevent this condition, such as getting prenatal care early and getting chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure under control as much as possible.

The bottom line: “There is a lot more we can do,” Dr. Ashton said. ”We’re definitely going in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.”

Want to help out? Check out your state’s March of Dimes Facebook page for more information on donating and getting involved.

Did you experience a preterm birth? You can share your own story on this March of Dimes interactive map.

Labor & Delivery: Preterm Labor
Labor & Delivery: Preterm Labor
Labor & Delivery: Preterm Labor

Photo courtesy of the March of Dimes.

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Preemies and Brain Development: A New Study Says They Catch up by the Teen Years

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Babies who are born prematurely are monitored closely to track their development, especially their cognitive development, as they grow.  A new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics has found that most of these babies, by the time they are teens, are able to perform in cognitive tests as well as teens who were born at full term. The study found that the family and social environment a child is raised in is far more predictive than their gestational age at birth.

More from ScienceDaily on the study, which was conducted by Australian researchers:

“Every year, 10% of Australian babies are born preterm, and many studies have shown that these children often have cognitive difficulties in childhood,” says one of the lead authors of the study, Dr Julia Pitcher from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute.

“This new study has some positive news. We looked at the factors that determine cognitive abilities in early adolescence, and found that whether or not you were born preterm appears to play a relatively minor role. Of significantly more importance is the degree of social disadvantage you experienced in your early life after birth, although genetics is important,” Dr Pitcher says.

The study, conducted by Research Officer Dr Luke Schneider, assessed the cognitive abilities of 145 preterm and term-born young people now aged over 12. He also assessed data on social disadvantage at the time of birth and at the time of the cognitive assessment.

“The results of our study provide further proof that those born at term tend to have better cognitive abilities — such as working memory, brain processing efficiency and general intellectual ability. But the postnatal environment seems to be playing an important role in whether or not a preterm child is able to overcome that initial risk of reduced brain development,” Dr Schneider says.

Image: Preemie, via Shutterstock

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Early, Induced Labor Rate Falling in U.S.

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

The number of women who are having labor medically induced before their due dates is on the decline, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–good news for the health of babies who may face risks if born prematurely.  The rate of premature Cesarean sections is also falling, the CDC found.  More from US News:

Rates of induced labor declined across the board since 2006 for expectant mothers at 35 to 38 weeks of gestation, with the greatest decline at 38 weeks, researchers with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) found.

This is good news for the health of these babies, who can face serious health problems when delivered preterm, said Dr. Edward McCabe, chief medical officer for the March of Dimes.

Babies born early are 1.5 to two times more likely to die during their first year of life, compared to babies delivered following a full term of 39 weeks or more, he said.

“There’s this feeling that we’ve done so well with our premature babies, we’ve been seduced by the advances and think it’s safe to induce delivery early,” McCabe said. “We’ve ignored the fact that there are significant risks of illness and death in late preterm and early term babies.”

The largest decline in induced labor occurred for early term births at 37 to 38 weeks, which fell 12 percent between 2006 and 2012, the CDC reports. Late preterm births at 34 to 36 weeks of gestation declined by 4 percent.

This decrease comes at a time when medical societies are raising concerns about unnecessary early deliveries.

The rate of induced labor more than doubled between 1990 and 2010, from nearly 10 percent of births to just under 24 percent. While some of these induced births were needed to preserve the life of mother and child, many also occurred to better fit the birth into the busy schedules of the parents or the doctor, McCabe said.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn’t recommend induced deliveries prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy without a clear medical reason.

Image: Woman in delivery room, via Shutterstock

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