News Roundup February 10th

Folic Acid Supplementation Prevents Serious Neural Tube Birth Defects Each Year Neural tube defects (NTDs) are birth defects of the brain and spine. About 3,000 pregnancies in the U.S. still are affected by NTDs annually, but the number of babies born in the United States with these conditions has declined by 35 percent since 1998, according to new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in in its publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). This decline is attributed to the fortification of grain foods with the B vitamin folic acid, though any women still may not be getting enough folic acid. “All women capable of having a baby should be taking a multivitamin containing folic acid every day,” advises Siobhan M. Dolan, M.D., MPH, coauthor of the first March of Dimes book Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby: The Ultimate Pregnancy Guide. “It’s also good to eat foods that contain folate, the natural form of folic acid, including lentils, green leafy vegetables, black beans, and orange juice, as well as foods fortified with folic acid, such as bread and pasta, and enriched cereals.” Read about the study here.

Somewhere Around 8 weeks is When Babies “Get Rhythm”, or Begin to Tell Day From Night A new study published in the January issue of Archives of Disease in Childhood, Fetal & Neonatal Edition, suggests that while it wasn’t clear when newborns establish their own circadian rhythms, infants spent more time sleeping at night than during the day by nine months. The study was conducted in the UK over a period of one year by monitoring 35 healthy, full-term babies from 6 to 18 weeks of age, with a device called an actigraph. Read more here.

Parents Often Turn Car Seats to Face Forward Too Soon In March 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines for child passenger safety, extending the recommendation for rear-facing car seat use to a minimum of two years of age or until a child has outgrown the weight/height limits of their rear-facing seat. In the first national assessment of the age at which parents report making the transition from rear-facing to forward-facing car seats, researchers at the University of Michigan report  “Almost one-quarter of parents are turning their children before their first birthday… and few parents report waiting until that second birthday to make the turn,” says lead author Michelle L. Macy, M.D., M.S., of the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “We hope this research further encourages clinicians to spend time with their patients talking about the benefits of extending the use of a rear-facing car seat. It will be the kids that benefit, if their parents get the right information about how to use restraints and when to make transitions,” says Macy. Read more about it here.

Giving Toddlers Autonomy May Help Their Brains Develop In this recent study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, researchers suggest that there are significant benefits for toddlers when parents keeps their young child’s autonomy in mind and promote it during problem solving. Toddlers granted more autonomy showed better signs of “higher” thinking skills involving delayed gratification, juggling multiple concepts, etc. Read more about it here.

This News Roundup was compiled and co-authored by Jean Kurnik, MA.


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