Do you follow your doctor’s orders? According to a new study, many new moms may be feeding their babies solid foods too soon – and sometimes they’re just following their doctors’ advice. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should not begin consuming solids until they are at least six months old. But a newly released study in Pediatrics found that almost all of the new mothers surveyed (almost 93%) introduced solid food before six months, and half of these women said it was because their pediatrician told them it was time to introduce solid food. Click here for the full story on NBC News Vitals.
Several Affordable Care Act provisions that have "remained under the public's radar" are women's health-related, according to a Kaiser Health Newslist of 10 little-known elements of the law. The following is from the Daily Women's Health Policy Report from the National Partnership for Women and Families.
One such provision reauthorizes funding through 2014 to states for sex education programs that teach students that abstinence is "the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems."
Another provision calls on the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct a study on the causes and effects of postpartum depression. The law also authorized $3 million in 2010 and more funds as needed in 2011 and 2012 to support services for women at risk of postpartum depression.
The health reform law also requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide women who are breastfeeding with a private location to pump and "reasonable break time" to do so.
Another section in the law requires CDC to carry out an educational campaign targeted at young women about "the occurrence of breast cancer and the general and specific risk factors in women who may be at high risk for breast cancer based on familial, racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds such as Ashkenazi Jewish populations" (Schultz/Torres, Kaiser Health News, 7/12).
Babies are not able to metabolize or excrete caffeine very well, so a breastfeeding mother's consumption of caffeine may lead to caffeine accumulation and symptoms such as wakefulness and irritability, according to an interview with expert Ruth Lawrence, MD, published in Journal of Caffeine Research. The interview is available on the Journal of Caffeine Research website.
Caffeine is found in a wide range of products in addition to coffee, tea, and chocolate, including soft drinks, sports drinks, and some over-the-counter medications. In a provocative discussion with Dr. Ruth Lawrence, Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Jack E. James, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Caffeine Research, asks a variety of probing questions. Is there a safe level of caffeine intake while breastfeeding? Are there potential long-term effects of caffeine exposure on development and intellect? Can a baby whose mother consumed caffeine during pregnancy experience withdrawal if she then abstains from caffeine while breastfeeding? Dr. Lawrence bases her responses on the scientific and medical evidence related to caffeine exposure in breastfed babies, and distinguishes between what is and what is not well understood in this developing field of study.
"Usually a mother, particularly if she is breastfeeding, is cautioned to limit her caffeine intake," says Dr. Lawrence, who is Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal Breastfeeding Medicine. After giving birth, mothers "should consume all things in moderation and try to avoid the excesses that might really add up to a lot of caffeine."
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News. "Breastfeeding And Caffeine Consumption." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 23 Feb. 2012. Web.
5 Mar. 2012. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/241990.php>
The U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin today issued a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding outlining steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breast feed their babies. While 75% of U.S. babies start out breast feeding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, only 13 % are are exclusively breastfed at the end of six month. The rates are particularly low among African-American infants.
Many mothers who attempt to breastfeed say several factors impede their efforts, such as a lack of support at home, lack of information on breastfeeding from health care clinicians, a lack of time and privacy to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace, and an inability to connect with other breastfeeding mothers in the community.
Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia. Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop asthma, and those who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese. Mothers themselves who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers according to the Call to Action.
A study published in Pediatrics estimated that the nation would save $13 billion per year in health care and other costs if 90% of U.S. babies were exclusively breastfed for six months. Dr. Benjamin added that, by providing accommodations for nursing mothers, employers can reduce their company's health care costs and lower their absenteeism and turnover rates.
On a personal note, I just got back from Brazil and noticed the number of women that were casually nursing their babies in public---at the beach, in airports and even in restaurants. The U.S. has not quite reached this level of acceptance and, hopefully, this initiative by the surgeon general will help move us forward. Having a female surgeon general may make the difference! Check out the Call to Action, it has a lot of excellent resources!