Baby babbling linked to hearing ability

The reason why the amount of vocalisations often differ between hearing and deaf infants is that vocalisations are primarily motivated by their ability to hear their own babbling, the findings showed.

The researchers also found that cochlear implants can help infants with profound hearing loss to correct their hearing. Cochlear implants are small electronic devices embedded into the bone behind the ear that replace some functions of the damaged inner ear.

“Hearing is a critical aspect of infants’ motivation to make early sounds,” said researcher Mary Fagan, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri in the US. This study shows babies are interested in speech-like sounds and that they increase their babbling when they can hear,” said Fagan.

Fagan studied the vocalisations of 27 hearing infants and 16 infants with profound hearing loss who were candidates for cochlear implants. She found that infants with profound hearing loss vocalised significantly less than hearing infants. However, when the infants with profound hearing loss received cochlear implants, the infants’ vocalisations increased to the same levels as their hearing peers within four months of receiving the implants.

“After the infants received their cochlear implants, the significant difference in overall vocalisation quantity was no longer evident,” Fagan said. “These findings support the importance of early hearing screenings and early cochlear implantation,” Fagan noted.

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

Source: the health site

Oh Baby: Giving Birth 10 Times May Reduce Mom’s Cancer Risk

Women who give birth to 10 or more children may have a reduced risk of cancer, a new study from Finland suggests. Researchers examined cancer risk in nearly 5,000 Finish women who gave birth at least 10 times before 2010.

Over a three-decade period, there were 656 cases of cancer in these women, about 200 fewer cases than would be expected based on cancer rates in the general Finnish population, the study found.

In fact, the rate of new cancer cases was 24 percent lower among women who delivered 10 or more babies compared to those in the general population, the researchers said.
This overall reduction in cancer risk came mainly from decreased rates of breast cancer and gynecological cancers, including ovarian and endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterus lining). For these cancers, the rate of new cancer cases was about 50 percent lower in women with 10 or more deliveries, compared to the general population.

The researchers aren’t sure whether the findings apply to women who have just one, two or three children, but plan to conduct another study to find out, said study researcher Dr. Juha Tapanainen, of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Helsinki University Central Hospital.
Pregnancy and cancer risk

In the study, women who had 10 or more babies were about five years younger when they gave birth to their first child, compared to average Finnish women. It’s known that becoming pregnant at a young age helps protect against breast cancer, Tapanainen said.
Women who give birth before age 20 have about half the risk of breast cancer as those who give birth for the first time after age 30, according to the National Institutes of Health. Some researchers hypothesize that this is because pregnancy speeds up the process of breast cell maturation, and that mature cells are more resistant to cancer, Tapanainen said. So, women who have children at younger ages develop mature, cancer-resistant breast cells sooner.

Previous studies have also found that giving birth to at least five children reduces the risk of breast cancer. This may be because pregnancy halts the menstrual cycle, so the breast cells of women who have many pregnancies are exposed to less estrogen, according to the American Cancer Society. (Exposure to estrogen is thought to increase the risk of breast cancer.)

The halting of ovulation, and the hormone changes that period in life causes, may also play a role in the reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.
Many women in the new study who had 10 or more children were members of the Laestadian movement, which is part of the Lutheran Church in Finland, the researchers said. Women in this group are similar to average Finnish women in terms of their lifestyle, but their religion prohibits the use of contraceptives.

Studies on the effect of hormonal contraceptives on cancer risk have been inconclusive, but some studies suggest that the contraceptives reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. Thus, it’s possible that if Laestadian women in the study also took contraceptives, and still had multiple pregnancies, it would even further reduce their risk of these cancers, Tapanainen said.

Risks of many pregnancies

The study further linked having 10 babies with a reduced risk of basal cell skin cancer, and an increased risk of thyroid cancer. But the researchers don’t know the reason for this link.

Researchers noted that women who are able to have 10 or more children are likely healthier than women in the general population. But this factor alone is unlikely to explain the link between having 10 babies and the reduced risk of these cancers, Tapanainen said.

In general, the findings suggest that having more children doesn’t result in an increased occurrence of cancer, Tapanainen said. The protective effect is seen after five births, and is even greater with 10 births, Tapanainen said.
Despite the reduced risk of cancer, giving birth to five or more children does come with its own dangers, increasing the risk of pregnancy complications, such as premature birth and hemorrhaging after delivery.

Source: Yahoo news

Nine-month-old baby may have been cured of HIV

A 9-month-old baby who was born in California with the HIV virus that leads to AIDS may have been cured as a result of treatments that doctors began just four hours after her birth, medical researchers said on Wednesday.

That child is the second case, following an earlier instance in Mississippi, in which doctors may have brought HIV in a newborn into remission by administering antiretroviral drugs in the first hours of life, said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a pediatrics specialist with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, at a medical conference in Boston.

“The child … has become HIV-negative,” Persaud said, referring to the 9-month-old baby born outside Los Angeles, who is being treated at Miller Children’s Hospital. The child’s identify was not disclosed.

That child is still receiving a three-drug cocktail of anti-AIDS treatments, while the child born in Mississippi, now 3-1/2 years old, ceased receiving antiretroviral treatments two years ago.

Both children were born of mothers infected with HIV, which wipes out the body’s immune system and causes AIDS.

Speaking at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Persaud credited the early use of antiretroviral therapies with improving the children’s health but warned that more research must be done.

“Really the only way we can prove that we have accomplished remission in these kids is by taking them off treatment and that’s not without risk,” Persaud said. “This is a call to action for us to mobilize and be able to learn from these cases.”

The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, surfaced more than 30 years ago and now infects more than 34 million people worldwide. Prevention measures, including condoms, have helped check its spread and antiretroviral drugs can now control the disease for decades, meaning it is no longer a death sentence.

Source: Reuters


5 reasons why crying is actually good for your baby!

Often you don’t know why your little one is in tears and disturbed to the core. But the good thing about crying is that baby’s indication about his needs and mother’s instincts work together. ‘It’s through crying that a newborn expresses his needs while the mother responds, this also helps in the mother baby bonding,’ says Dr Geetanjali Shah, consultant pediatrician attached to Ashwini Hospital, Mumbai. A crying baby needs soothing and we all know that. But while you whack your brains how to calm your baby know that it’s a healthy sign indicating his overall well-being. Wondering how?

Importance of first cry: This is the sound you had been waiting to hear all the while. It not only marks your baby’s arrival but blows trumpets for you as you enter a new phase of life. ‘This helps the baby to breathe in and the lungs to open up to take in air. Though many parents believe that crying would every time help the lungs to grow stronger but it’s only the first cry that does the trick. Other times look for signs that are distressing the baby,’ says Dr Shah. When your baby breaks into his first cry you know that all is well within and you can sigh in relief.

Helps in communicating: In the absence of crying, you would never be able to know what your baby needs. ‘Crying can be because of various reasons and in varied pitches. Each pitch indicates the level of discomfort or attention needed. Over the period of time each mother learns to read between the cries,’ says Dr Shah. So when your baby cries look for the obvious, is he hungry, needs a diaper change, feeling hot or cold, needs comforting or is crying for attention. ‘Only his cries will tell you that you need to check on his well-being as it serves to be a medium of communication, a kind of language for the baby,’ explains Dr Shah.

Helps in psychological well-being: When you are taking care of or soothing your baby it gives out a message to him that he is not alone. ‘Many adults would advice to ignore a crying baby in order to discipline them, but newborns need more attention than discipline in the initial months of life. This helps the baby to feel secure and safe; a child growing in such care and love develops into a better individual than the one who is not. A baby ignored every time would land being quiet and this would pose a challenge for the baby’s physiological well-being. In fact unusually quite babies can be psychologically disturbed within,’ cautions Dr Shah.

Helps to stretch muscle: If you take a closer look at a crying baby, you would see the many muscles, the limbs or the entire body that’s been twisted and turned while the child whines. Gosh, that’s an exercise in itself! ’But it’s not like babies do not stretch themselves often. So be sure that the cry is not due to any medical reason or colic. Do not leave a child crying for too long,’ says Dr Shah.

Helps shed excess emotional baggage: Now this isn’t surprise that tears are a way of shedding the excess emotional baggage even for babies. Know when they have tantrums and you chose to not obey your little master, the obvious thing for him to do is break into a cry. Don’t panic, this allowing of emotions to come out is also good. ‘Listen to your baby while he cries and explains his needs or desire, especially the toddlers, and then talk it out and distract them. This works to break the tantrum and balance the emotions as well,’ says Dr Shah.

Source: Health India


Baby steps to saving lives


Each year, one in 10 babies around the world will be born prematurely and over a million of those will die. But could measuring the size of a baby’s feet help save lives?

In the final weeks of pregnancy, the idea of going into early labour might not seem like such a bad thing.

But giving birth prematurely – officially classed as before 37 weeks gestation – can lead to long-term health effects.

Depending on quite how early the baby is born, infants can either be completely unaffected or left with permanent disability and learning difficulties.

The issue of prematurity is particularly pronounced in South Asian and Sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for over 80% of the deaths caused by pre-term birth complications.

In rural Tanzania, for example, about one in every 30 premature babies won’t make it past four weeks.

However, most of those lives could be saved with simple advice for mothers.

And that advice, says an international group of researchers, could start with just a footprint.

Foot chart with side rule

The larger foot on the yellow card represents a full term baby’s foot size. If a newborn’s feet are smaller than th

Sizing upe small foot on the card, the baby is probably premature and the advice is to take the baby to hospital immediately. Side rule added for scale.

Most mothers in high-income countries will give birth surrounded by medical equipment or with the support of a highly-skilled midwife.

This means that any problems, such as a low birth-weight or the mother’s waters breaking early, can be dealt with immediately.

In contrast, around 40% of women giving birth in low-income countries will do so without the help of a trained medical professional.

And due to inaccurate dating of pregnancy, many of those women will have no way of telling if their baby is too early or too small.

However, measuring the baby’s footprint could be used as a simple proxy for birth weight.

“There’s this grey area when the baby is between around 2.4kg (5lbs 5oz) and 2.1kg (4lbs 10oz) when the baby is more vulnerable to infection and other issues,” says Dr Joanna Schellenberg of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“But when a baby is born at home, there is no way of weighing them,” she told the BBC.
The BBC’s Tulanana Bohela has been to see the project in action
To help solve the problem, Schellenberg and her colleagues at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania have implemented a strategy called Mtunze Mtoto Mchanga – which means “protect the newborn baby”.

It includes using a picture of two footprints on a piece of laminated card and a local volunteer placing the baby’s foot against the images.

If the baby has feet smaller than the smallest foot, around 67mm, then the mother is advised to take the baby to hospital immediately. If it measures in between the big and the small image, then the mother is told about the extra care she needs to provide to increase the baby’s chances of survival.

Although the card is fairly accurate for five days after birth, it should be used it to identify small babies in their first two days of life, which is when they’re most at risk of dying without specialist care.

Mariam Ulaya is one of the volunteers at Namayakata shuleni village and visits the women before and after the birth.

“If I’ve measured the child’s footprint and seen that the child is smaller than usual, then I instruct them to carry the child skin-to-skin so that the child can share and feel the mother’s warmth,” says Ulaya.

“I also carry a small doll with me called Opendo. I use the doll to illustrate the proper way to breastfeed the child.”

‘It has helped my child to survive’
Such advice may seem simple but can really be the difference between life and death.

A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) says that of the 15 million premature births globally each year, more than 80% will occur between 32 and 37 weeks’ gestation.

Risks factors for premature birth

There is no clear cause of premature birth and there tend to be many different risk factors involved.
These include infections of the genital and urinary tract, pre-eclampsia, problems with the placenta and gestational diabetes.
Obesity is another major risk factor for premature birth.

Fetal fibronectin is a protein which can be used as a reliable indicator of preterm birth. It normally appears around 22 weeks and then again at the end of pregnancy. If it appears between these dates, early labour often follows.
Research also suggests that low levels of the hormone progesterone in the saliva could also help spot women at risk of sudden premature labour.

Most of these babies will survive if given extra warmth through skin-to-skin contact and very regular breastfeeding to help fight off infection.

In fact, the report states that an estimated 75% of deaths in preterm infants can be prevented in this way – without the cost and emotional upset of intensive care.

Salima Ahmad is 25 and has three children who live with her in Namahyakata dinduma village, Tanzania. Her youngest son, Alhaji, was born prematurely.

“I was a little bit shocked because many premature babies end up dying but I was also happy because I had a live baby,” says Salima.

Although Alhaji was born at the local hospital, Salima was given advice and support by volunteers from Mtunze Mtoto Mchanga about how to care for him once she got home.

“Carrying skin-to-skin was good but difficult in the beginning. But when the volunteer was visiting me and encouraging me, I could see myself managing it slowly. It is good, it has helped my child to survive,” she says.

Salima also feels that understanding more about premature birth helps mothers like herself to deal with it properly.

“It helps a lot for the mother not to be surprised when having a premature birth. It is useful to know in advance as you get good knowledge on how to handle the premature. Myself, I do thank the volunteer who talked about it when I was pregnant and she even taught me how to carry skin to skin.”

Source: BBC