Two studies out of the University of California, Berkeley, suggest that maternity leave makes economic sense in addition to improving health outcomes for mothers and babies. The findings were part of the “Juggling Work and Life During Pregnancy” study, funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and led by Sylvia Guendelman, professor of maternal and child health at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. The studies found that women who took antenatal leave (leave before the birth of their child) were four times less likely to have a C-section than women who worked up until delivery. The researchers also found that women who took longer maternity leaves after the birth of their child were much more likely to be successful at breast feeding even after returning to work. Both increased breast feeding and decreased C-sections save in health care costs. To read more about the research, click here.
Study Finds Calming Effect of Maternal Holding and Walking
A new research study led by Dr. Kumi Kuroda, who investigates social behavior at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Saitama, Japan supports the idea that holding a crying infant can help soothe them. Furthermore the researchers discovered that carrying the baby while walking was more calming to the infant than if the mother sat and held the baby. When the mother picked up and carried the baby while walking, the baby stopped crying, became noticeably calmer with a slower heart rate. While the infant may be crying for specific reason such as hunger, carrying the infant may give the caregiver time to determine the cause of the fussiness and help to keep the caregiver from being frustrated with the crying. Click to read article in the Huffington Post.
Music Supports Development of Premature Infants
A study led by Beth Israel Medical Center in New York found that music can help premature infants by slowing their heartbeats, calming their breathing, improving sucking behaviors, promoting states of quiet alertness and aiding in sleep. Babies receiving music therapy may leave the hospital sooner. In the study 272 premature infants had sessions with two instruments: a gato box (a wooden drum) and an ocean disc (a cylinder containing metal beads), singing and no music. According to Joanne Loewy, the study’s leader and the director of Beth Israel’s Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, the instruments and lullaby singing style were intended to copy sounds of the womb. Parents were asked to choose a favorite song which was then adapted by the therapists to slow it down if necessary. Both instruments and the singing slowed the infant’s heart rate. Singing aided in producing a quiet alert state, the ocean disc instrument generated the best sleep and the gato box improved sucking behavior. The music also lowered parents’ stress. Recorded music works also, but live music is better because it can be modified to meet changes in the infant’s state. Click to read the NY Times Article.
This News Roundup was compiled and co-authored by Karen Burch, M.A.