Archives for January 2011

Pregnant Women Should Avoid “Silver” Dental Fillings

If you’ve been to the dentist to have a cavity filled, you may (or may not!) have been offered a choice between the silver filling (also known as dental amalgam) or bone-colored resin (more attractive, as it blends in with the color of your teeth). Although slightly  more expensive, added uncertainty about the safety of the mercury-based silver fillings should be enough for pregnant women to choose the resin filling.

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feature image: Top News

Recently, a U.S. advisory panel declared that it wants the FDA to look at the latest data and reassess its guidance after the agency last year declared the fillings safe.  Mercury has been linked to neurological damage at high exposure levels and makes up about 50% of a metal filling.  “Vulnerable people” such as children and pregnant/nursing women should be especially wary.

Some dentists and trade groups cite data showing that the fillings pose no harm once set in a patient’s tooth.  Other dentists testify that mercury is too risky and that they no longer use such fillings. Dozens of patients also detailed how their health deteriorated after getting amalgams and urged the panel to push FDA to reverse course and initiate strong warnings, especially for children and pregnant or nursing women.

The Environmental Protection Agency lists mercury as a neurotoxin. It can interfere with brain development and cognitive and motor skills. In addition, groups such as Moms Against Mercury and Consumers for Dental Choice say mercury fillings may trigger health problems, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • brain damage
  • kidney damage
  • migraines
  • multiple sclerosis
  • irritability (erethism)

Short of banning amalgams altogether, patients should at the very least be warned about the dangers of these metal fillings and offered a choice. Amalgams have already been banned in some European countries.

Read more: Rueters, World Dental.org

Postpartum Danger Signs to Watch For

The weeks after your baby is born are full of wonder and worry. You may feel all sorts of conflicting emotions and uncomfortable physical sensations. Most of these physical and mental states are all within normal range, but sometimes there are complications. Call your health care provider right away if you experience any of these warning signs:

  • Depression: You feel extreme sadness or despair,  have delusions or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
  • Bleeding: Your bleeding isn’t tapering off, continues to be bright red after the first four days, resumes after slowing down, contains clots bigger than a quarter, or has a foul odor.
  • Fever: You develop a fever, even a slight one. A low-grade fever may be something benign, but it can also be a sign of a serious infection, so play it safe and call.
  • Stomach pain: You have severe or persistent pain anywhere in your abdomen or pelvis, or  afterpains that get worse instead of better.
  • C-section pain: You have worsening pain or soreness that persists beyond the first few weeks, or redness, swelling, or discharge at the site of your c-section incision.
  • Vaginal pain: You have severe or worsening pain in your vagina or perineum, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, or swelling or discharge from the site of an episiotomy or a tear.
  • Breast pain: You have pain or tenderness in one area of the breast that’s not relieved by warm soaks and nursing. Or you have swelling or redness in one area, possibly accompanied by flu-like symptoms or fever.
  • Abnormal urination: You have pain or burning when urinating; you have the urge to pee frequently but not a lot comes out; your urine is dark and scanty or bloody; or you have any combination of these symptoms. (Stinging after the urine comes out and hits a bruised or torn area normal.)
  • Leg pain: You have severe or persistent pain or tenderness and warmth in one area of your leg, or one leg is more swollen than the other.
  • Headaches: You have severe or persistent headaches.
  • Vision problems: You have double vision, blurring or dimming of vision, or flashing spots or lights.
  • Vomiting: You have severe or persistent vomiting.
  • Tenderness from IV: The site of your IV insertion becomes painful, tender, or inflamed.

When to call 911 (or local emergency number) instead:

  • You have shortness of breath or chest pain, or are coughing up blood.
  • You’re bleeding profusely.
  • You’re showing signs of shock, including light-headedness, weakness, rapid heartbeat or palpitations, rapid or shallow breathing, clammy skin, restlessness or confusion.

For more Postpartum information, visit Baby Center

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Baby Products That Will Make You Laugh

Baby Gizmo’s 2011 Annual Survey of the Most Ridiculous Baby Products is sure to be very educational… and entertaining. From creepy to silly to just plain ridiculous, you will find yourself gasping, “Is this for real?”

There are disembodied hands that you can position around your baby to cradle him while he’s asleep. There’s a nasal aspirator where you actually suck the snot out of baby’s nose yourself. There are high heels for baby and headbands with bangs: “for the girl who has everything except hair.” And changing diapers can be challenging with active babies, I know. So you’ll want something to wrap around their little bodies so they just can’t wriggle away.

My personal favorite: The potty mitts. Not only can you be a paranoid germaphobe, but now you can demonstrate to your little germaphobe-in-training exactly how it all begins. Potty mitts take sanitary bathroom habits to the next level!

We’re not saying that some of these products won’t come in handy. What are you do to with a baby in a changing room, if you don’t have the Babykeeper Basic to hang him up over the side of the wall?  My Pee Pee Bottle– great for long car trips. And for parents who just keep loosing their kids, the Toddler Tracker is invaluable.

Take a look, you won’t believe your eyes! Baby Gizmo’s Most Ridiculous Baby Products 2011

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Learning from Tragedy: Babies and Cough Meds

You may have heard about about the tragic death of 4-month old Daniel Richadson. A healthy baby with a cough, his aunt, who was babysitting, gave him some over-the-counter cough medicine (namely Robitussin) to try and sooth him. The baby stopped breathing and died shortly afterward.

If there’s anything good that can come of this awful accident, it should be to make parents and caretakers aware of the effects of medication they give their small children. As of 2007, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned parents not to give over-the-counter cold medicine to children younger than 2 without first asking a doctor.

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image: Drug Free Homes

The CDC further states: “Cough and cold medicines do not cure the common cold. Although cough and cold medicines may be used to treat the symptoms of the common cold in older children, they should not be used in children less than 4 years old. Too much cough and cold medicine can cause serious harm or even deaths in children.”

Parents should also be aware of the dangers of unnecessary antibiotic use. The CDC warns: “Antibiotics can kill bacteria but not viruses. Most colds, coughs, flu, sore throats, and runny noses are caused by viruses. Taking antibiotics for viral infections will not cure viral infections, keep others from catching the illness, or help your child feel better. Although antibiotics are good drugs for certain types of infections, they… cause they most emergency visits for adverse drug events.”

Tips for Parents from the CDC

  • Don’t give children medicine that is packaged for adults unless told to told so by a physician.
  • Don’t use cough and cold products for children under 4 unless told to do so by a physician.
  • Read all information on the package label and follow directions. Don’t give a child medicine more often or in greater amounts than the package says!
  • Use only the measuring device that is included with the prduct. A kitchen spoon is not a good measuring device for giving medicine to children.
  • If a measuring device is not included with the product, purchase one at a pharmacy or ask the pharmacist for one.
  • Check the active ingredients in the prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Make sure you do not give your child two medicines that have the same active ingredient. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you don’t understand the instructions or how to use the dosing device, do not use the medicine. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor of you have questions or are confused.
  • Do not ask for antibiotics when a doctor says they are not needed.
  • If you child is prescribed an antibiotic, make sure s/he takes all the medicine as prescribed, even if they feel better. Do not save antibiotic medicine “for later.”
So what can you do to help a baby or young child find relief from a cold, cough, runny nose, and congestion?
Dr. Sear’s Natural Treatments for Coughs, Runny Nose, and Congestion:
  • Steam cleaning. Give your child steam, steam, and more steam. For infants and young children, turn the bathroom into a steam room with the door closed and the shower on full hot. Sit in there for 10 or 15 minutes. For older children, use a facial steamer or pot of hot water (carefully!). The steam will help loosen the nose and chest congestion, and help your child cough it up or blow it out. Do this steam cleaning every morning and before bed, as well as during the day if possible.
  • Clap the chest and back. While you sit in the bathroom steaming, clap on your child’s chest and back (where the lungs are) firmly (harder than burping) with an open hand. This helps shake the mucus loose so your child can cough it up better.
  • Sleep upright. If possible, allow your child to sleep in a slightly upright position. This allows for easier breathing during sleep.
  • Nose hose. For older children, it is crucial to have them blow their nose several times during a steam cleaning, as well as frequently throughout the day. Getting out all the junk will help prevent this from turning into a bacterial infection. An alternative to steaming is to use nasal decongestant spray to loosen up the nasal congestion before blowing it out. For infants too young to blow their nose, you can suction them out using a blue rubber bulb syringe.
  • Hot steam vaporizer. Use a hot steam vaporizer in the bedroom at night (not a cool mist humidifier). This warm, humid environment can help keep noses and chests clear at night. Be sure to air the room out well during the day because mold can start to grow in the room due to the warmth and humidity.
  • Eucalyptus and lavender oil. Add only one drop of each of these to a facial steamer, pot of hot water or some vaporizers. They can help clear up the congestion faster.
  • Vapor rubs on the chest. Occasionally, these can cause wheezing because the vapors may be too strong for some children, but overall they will work well. It is safe to try, but do observe your child to make sure it doesn’t cause wheezing.
  • Drink twice as much liquid. This will help to thin secretions and prevent dehydration.

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