Zika Virus and Microcephaly if You’re Pregnant or Trying


News stories about the dangers of the Zika virus, especially for pregnant women or those trying to get pregnant, are becoming a daily occurrence.  There are now 30 confirmed cases of Zika here in the US and one confirmed case of it being spread by sexual transmission.  The Zika virus itself is not the greatest concern but rather the link to a dangerous condition called microcephaly.

So what is it and how dangerous is it to you?  Here are the most important facts about Zika and microcephaly if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant:

What is microcephaly?

The term refers to a rare neurological condition in which children have unusually small heads. In many cases it also means a baby’s brain is smaller and may not have developed properly.   There is a range of disorders associated with microcephaly.  About 10 percent of children are born with normal intelligence, and simply have a smaller head. At the other end are those who cannot talk or walk and need constant care. Then there are those in between who are high-functioning but have intellectual disabilities, difficulties with speech or coordination, or seizures. While there’s no treatment or way to reverse the condition, early intervention treatments — such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and other special needs therapy — have helped some children.

Have there been cases of microcephaly in the US before the Zika virus?

In the U.S., the birth defect is extremely rare and affects about two to 12 infants out of 10,000 live births, according to the CDC.

How does the Zika virus cause microcephaly?

Researchers are now studying the causal effect between Zika and microcephaly but in Brazil and French Polynesia doctors noticed an increase in microcephaly cases that they connected to an increase in Zika virus cases.  Until more is known, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:

  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bitesduring the trip.
  • Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Because specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are difficult to determine and likely to change over time, CDC will update this travel notice as information becomes available. Check CDC’s Zika Travel Information website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.

What are the symptoms of the Zika virus?

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.  The illness is usually mild and rarely requires hospitalization.

How is the Zika virus transmitted?  

Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.  Other mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.  Zika can also be spread through a blood transfusion and sexual contact with an infected person.

If a woman who is not pregnant is bitten by a mosquito and infected with Zika virus, will her future pregnancies be at risk?

The Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for only a few days to a week.  The virus will not cause infections in an infant that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood. There is currently no evidence that Zika virus infection poses a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.  A women contemplating pregnancy, who has recently recovered from Zika virus infection, should consult her healthcare provider after recovering.

If a woman who has traveled to an area with Zika virus transmission, should she wait to get pregnant?

The Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for only a few days to a week.  The virus will not cause infections in an infant that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood. There is currently no evidence that Zika virus infection poses a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.  A women contemplating pregnancy, who has recently travelled to an area with local Zika transmission, should consult her healthcare provider after returning.

It’s important to realize that while the Zika virus is headlines news there’s still a great deal that researchers don’t know.  If you or your partner has travelled recently to one of the countries where transmission of the virus is high it’s probably smart to wait for a few weeks to try and get pregnant.  And, if you’re pregnant and appear to have symptoms of the Zika virus call your healthcare provider immediately.





Bloomberg Trying to Restrict Baby Formula in NYC Hospitals

The movement towards restricted formula use in 27 New York hospitals has women across the nation angered. It seems that this is almost an insensitive infringement onto the rights women have to feed their newborns formula.

This initiative will keep formula locked up in storage at hospitals in order to better monitor its use and discontinue free infant formula being distributed at the time of discharge, disallow the display of formula promotional materials in hospitals, and ensure the greater implementation of regulations forbidding the use of formula on infants unless medically required.

While breast feeding babies is undoubtedly the healthiest choice, and should always be urged as the first choice, the fact of the matter is that sometimes it just is not physically possible to nurse.

In speaking with other moms and their experiences nursing, it is apparent that many people do, in fact, suffer from desperately yearning to nurse their babies but simply not being able to.

“I knew it was ‘best’ to breast feed so the guilt I felt when I gave up at two weeks was awful,” said one mom about her painful experience – where her nursing attempts were hours long because her son could not latch on. Come to find out, her pediatrician ended up recommending formula because of allergic reactions her baby was having to her breast milk.

Another mom reported the intense pressure she felt in the hospital to breast feed her twin boys upon their birth. “They had the nerve to tell me I was ruining my boys’ lives,” she says of the nurses, sharing that she had a high fever and infection following delivery.

Clearly, in situations like these when mothers have been educated on the benefits of breast feeding and actively attempt to nurse their babies only for it to prove impossible, the criticism from nurses and hospital workers does nothing but catalyze stress and guilt in these new moms.

With that said, what are your thoughts on NYC’s “Latch on NYC” initiative? What have your experiences been with breast feeding, and furthermore, how would you feel if the hospital you birthed your child in had these same rules?

I’ve been doing a series of TV segments the past several days on helicopter parenting but the subject always turns around to crib bumpers.  Yesterday the Maryland Department of Health held a press conference proposing the ban of crib bumpers due to the risk of strangulation, asphyxiation and even death.” 

While Maryland is the first state to propose such a ban, I’m sure many others will follow suit.  Of course the juvenile bedding companies will not be pleased with this. 

As a mother who lost her child to SIDS and a child safety advocate here’s my thought – crib bumpers do nothing to enhance the well-being of a baby and definitely could pose a risk so why use them?  The argument is that a baby could get her arm or leg stuck in the slat.  Even if this is the case – this isn’t going to kill them!

Nothing should be in a crib except a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet.  Get rid of blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and crib bumpers!

Did you know that over the past 20 years, through more than 20,000 transplants, cord blood stem cells have been proven effective in treating many life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia and other cancers and blood and immune disorders?  And, tremendous progress is being made in the research of using cord blood in exciting new areas like brain injury.

Many OB/GYNs tell patients that there is no need to bank cord blood if there is no history of a hereditary disease in the family – WRONG! Learn the real facts!

When: Thursday May 26th, 2011 from 9pm – 10pm EST

Where: On Twitter! Follow Me @safetymom and #CordBlood411

Why attend?  Learn possible life saving information for your baby.  Great prize giveaways including my new book “Honey, I Lost the Baby in the Produce Aisle, The Safety Mom’s Guide to Childproofing your Life” for all that RSVP and participate in the conversation.

RSVP – To be entered to win a prize, simply RSVP by posting a comment below including your Twitter handle.  We will pick the names of the winner(s) by using Random Number Generators against the confirmed list of RSVPs.  If your number is chosen and you post a comment during the party, you win!

Best books for babies has just come out with their annual list of the best books for infants through 18 months of age. A panel of librarians, child development experts, and academics reviews outstanding books, published in the United States each year, and judges them on elements such as clear, bright illustrations, age-appropriate subjects, and interactive capabilities.

What makes a “Best Book for Babies?” According to the selection committee, age appropriate subject matter with uncluttered illustrations weigh heavily in the making the top ten. Also, easy physical manipulation and durability are also qualities sought by the committee. Text, illustration and design for an infant audience as well as cultural authenticity combine to provide a rich listening and learning environment for the very youngest listener.

The committee once counted Fred Rogers among its critiquing members and today the company he began, The Fred Rogers Company, proudly supports Best Books for Babies along with The School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC)

Here is the “Best Books for Babies 2011.” All books were published in 2010 and are listed alphabetically along with comments from the selection committee. For more information visit www.bestbooksforbabies.org:

1. Baby Baby Baby! Marilyn Janovitz, Jabberwocky – A loving family catalogs all the fun things their smiling baby can do—from clapping and crawling to splashing in the tub and kissing good night.

2. Dancing Feet Lindsey Craig, Illustrated by Marc Brown, Knopf Books for Young Readers – Textured collage illustrations show a variety of animals stomping, creeping and clapping their way through this rhyming action tale.

3. Fiesta Babies Carmen Tafolla, Illustrated by Amy Cordova, Candlewick – Bold colors amplify the festive fun in this rhyming story about babies and toddlers enjoying a neighborhood celebration.

4. Hip Hop Catherine Hnatov, Star Bright Books – High contrast black and white images alternate with simple, brightly colored pictures of familiar animals, highlighting their typical sounds and movements.

5. I Like Fruit Lorena Siminovich, Templar – Unusual textures and vivid colors combine to create clear pictures of tasty treats in this sturdy board book.

6. One Pup’s Up Marsha Wilson Chall, Illustrated by Henry Cole, Margaret K. McElderry – Feisty puppies tumble and frolic across the pages of this charming picture book that features energetic, upbeat descriptions and enjoyable word play.

7. Pocketful of Posies Salley Mayor, Houghton Mifflin – Mavor uses intricate needlework to create whimsical, detailed illustrations for a wide variety of rhymes, making this an appealing collection for families even if they already own one (or more) Mother Goose collections.

8. Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy Denise Fleming, Henry Holt and Co. – Distinctive illustrations in warm, rich colors accompany rhythmic, repetitive words designed to lull listeners into sweet sleep.

9. Switching on the Moon Compiled by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters Illustrated by G. Brian Karas Candlewick – Perfect for sharing at bedtime, the beautifully illustrated poems in this collection are sure to become family favorites.

10. Tuck Me In! Dean Hacohen, Illustrated by Sherry Scharschmidt Candlewick Beach Lane Books – Young listeners can participate in this soothing bed-time ritual, turning decorated half-pages to cozily cover a cast of baby animals.

You have all the information on how to decorate the nursery.

You have read all the information and reviews on what gear to buy.

What info has your OB/GYN provided you regarding banking your baby’s cord blood?

Many OB/GYNs will tell their patients that unless there is a hereditary disease in the family, it is not necessary to bank their baby’s cord blood.

But, did you know that over the past 20 years, through more than 20,000 transplants, cord blood stem cells have been proven effective in treating many diseases. In fact, cord blood stem cells have been used to treat many life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia and other cancers and blood and immune disorders. And, tremendous progress is being made in the research of using cord blood in exciting new areas like brain injury.

Join us for this very important twitter party to discuss the benefits of cord blood banking.

When: Thursday, May 26th 9 – 10pm ET
Hosted by: @safetymom
Hashtag: #CordBlood411
Great information & prizes!

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a voluntary recall about 76,000 Arm’s Reach Concepts Infant Bed-Side Sleepers.

The CPSC and Arm’s Reach have received 10 reports of infants falling from the raised mattress into the bottom of the sleeper or becoming entrapped between the edge of the mattress and the side of the bed-side sleeper. No injuries have been reported.

To read the entire CPSC recall announcment, click here.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of Pampers® Natural Stages Pacifiers. The pacifiers fail to meet federal safety standards and pose a choking hazard to young children.

The pacifier comes in yellow, pink or blue colors and is made of silicone. Only “Stage 1” pacifiers are recalled. “Stage 1” and “Ortho” or “Bulb” are printed on the package. The recalled pacifiers have an oval-shaped mouth guard and “Pampers” molded on to the handle side of the mouth guard. The product comes two per package.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled pacifiers away from infants and contact Key Baby at (800) 447-1224 or visit the company’s web site at www.key-baby.com for instructions on returning the product for a full refund or $10 coupon toward the purchase of any Pampers® Natural Stages products.

To read the entire recall report from the CPSC, click here.