News Roundup December 30th

African American Mother kissing young infant fshutterstock_72019543Inadequate Pregnancy Weight Gain Increases Risk of Infant Mortality
According to a recent study out of the University of Maryland School of Public Health, not gaining enough weight during pregnancy can put babies at risk. Researchers examined the relationship between the mother’s body mass index, gestational weight gain before and during pregnancy, and infant mortality rates. They found that, except for in the heaviest women, too little weight gain during pregnancy increases the risk for infant mortality in the first year.
About 25 percent of the 159,000 women in the study gained an inadequate amount of weight, while another 41 percent gained too much. Mothers who were below ideal weight pre-pregnancy and gained too little weight during pregnancy had six times the normal rate of infant mortality. For women who were overweight before pregnancy, inadequate pregnancy weight gain was associated with two times the risk of infant mortality. Only babies born to obese mothers were protected from the effects of inadequate weight gain during pregnancy. The study confirms that only about one third of U.S. women gain the amount of weight recommended by the Institute of Medicine for their body size. Read more about this study here.


Postnatal Home Visiting: Shown to Reduce Infant Emergency Care Visits 

A new Duke University study shows that even a few nurse visits to newborn babies’ homes can save lots of money due to a decrease in infant emergency care. The study looked at the results of a program called “Durham Connects” that provides visits by nurses to the homes of newborns. The infants served by the program had 50 percent less emergency hospital care. This is a significant cost savings considering the average investment was only $700 per child and emergency care can cost thousands of dollars. For every dollar spent on nurse home visiting for newborns, three dollars were saved in healthcare costs. This meant the program paid for itself within the infant’s first six months of life.

The Durham Connects program showed preventative benefits (from a few visits from nurses who then connect patients to other community services) extended to the privately insured, those with no insurance and low income families.  “For a relatively small investment early in a child’s life, the reward is significant”, say study authors Kenneth Dodge, director of Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy, and Ben Goodman, a Duke research scientist. “Babies don’t come with instruction manuals, and we like to think of the Durham Connects program as maybe being that instruction manual,” Goodman said. Read more about the study here.


Lactation Consultation Increases Breastfeeding Rates Among Women Who Usually Resist

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found in two separate trials that meetings with a lactation consultant encourages women typically resistant to breastfeeding to do so, at least for a few months, which is long enough to reap some of the important health benefits. The large majority of the women enrolled in the two trials were mothers who are known to have some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding.  In both trials when the women were regularly encouraged, given instruction and support for breastfeeding they were more than four times as likely to exclusively breastfeed their infant at one month and nearly three times more likely to do so at three months, compared with the control group.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months, followed by continued breastfeeding for one year or longer as other foods are introduced. However, fewer than 75 percent of U.S. babies are breastfed at all and fewer than half are still being breastfed at six months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Health benefits of breastfeeding can include lower obesity rates, reduced incidence of ear infections and stomach illness and, for mothers, a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and pre-menopausal breast cancer.  Read more about this study here.


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