Archive for November, 2008

Melamine Found In American Infant Formula

It has killed at least six babies in China. Probably more. It has made at least 300,000 sick. Melamine can cause kidney stones and even kidney failure, and now traces of the industrial chemical have been found in America’s most popular infant formula brands.

That’s the kind of story that makes a mommy’s blood run cold.

OK…breathe. This story is not China’s story. Yes, traces of a potentially toxic substance have been found in infant formula here, but not in anywhere near the amounts found in Chinese formula. Medical experts and the F.D.A hope to reassure you that if you’re using formula, it’s safe. I spoke to one of those medical experts today, and we’ll have more on that in a bit.

First, what in the world is melamine? Well, it’s a chemical found in plastics, industrial cleaners and many other things. The F.D.A. has much more on melamine here.

In China, The F.D.A. says infant formula manufacturers laced their products with melamine to hide that they were nutritionally deficient. The melamine made it appear the formula contained more protein than it did. Unfortunately, they put so much in that babies started to get sick. Babies died.

Baylor College of Medicine Pediatrician Sara Rizvi says that is nothing like what has happened here. In the U.S., Investigators found minute traces of melamine. The suspicion is it may have come from contact with melamine containing substances during the manufacturing process. No one really knows for sure. They’re trying to find out.

But Dr. Rizvi urges you not to panic. She has no reason to believe formula will make your baby sick. She says don’t change brands and don’t switch to something nutritionally inferior. Just use what’s been working for you and your baby, while paying attention to the news (and this website).

Listen To What Dr. Sara Rizvi Has To Say About Formula And Melamine

A note…traces of melamine have been found in samples from all three of the big infant formula manufacturers in America. They are Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Mead Johnson, makers of Similac, Good Start and Enfamil. They make 90% of all the formula produced here.

If you’re worried about this — or anything else related to your baby — Dr. Rizvi says to talk to your pediatrician. They want you to! That’s what they’re there for.

For everything you need to know about breastfeeding and bottle feeding, please listen to our Pea in the Podcasts on those subjects on the home page.


CPS: Sleeping With Parents Kills More Kids Than Drowning

That’s a headline of a recent article in the Houston Chronicle. It says…

At least 198 children died after a parent rolled over and accidentally smothered a child sleeping in bed with them between Sept. 1, 2007 and Oct. 31 (2008), according to statistics released by Texas Child Protective Services today.

Of those deaths, 170 occurred since Jan. 1 of this year compared to 78 child drowning deaths.

That’s some scary stuff, right? I do not like those numbers. I do not like them at all. They’re enough to make a mom who co-slept want to buy a wig and dark glasses and join the witness protection program. Good thing I don’t know any.

Um….sigh….oh, well…I might as well admit it…..

My name is Bonnie, and I co-slept with my infant.

First things first. I am not advocating co-sleeping or bed-sharing or any other term used to describe bringing an infant to bed with you!.

I am just sharing my experience.

When I was pregnant, I had a lot of big ideas about how my baby would sleep. We bought a big, beautiful crib, and — just in case — we got one of those little snuggle nest sleeper thingies for if she wouldn’t sleep in her crib sometimes. I had all my bases covered!

Then we brought her home.

From the first night, my girl wouldn’t sleep in her crib, she thought the snuggle nest was vile, and would only sleep in my arms. So that night, that’s how we slept, when we slept. My baby, in my arms, generally with a boob in her mouth (what can I say, this is a blog for mommies…I’ll be talking about my boobs sometimes). I did not know this is the way it would be for months, but there you go. That’s motherhood.

My baby was very colicky, and didn’t sleep much. I tried swaddling, I tried bouncers, I tried her stroller…I tried everything, short of Jack Daniels. She would only sleep in my arms.

So that’s what we did.

I found, when I slept with my infant next to me, I was constantly aware of her presence. I really didn’t move much at all with her in my bed. That was bad news for a mom in her thirties. Boy was I stiff every morning! But she was safe. I found it so easy to feed her in the middle of the night when she was right there, and my boobs were right there (we won’t mention the time I dozed off and she lost my nipple and I woke up with an infant sized hickey on my breast). However, when she was a couple of months old I decided to try a different kind of seat that would elevate her head slightly. I put that in her crib, and — with her reflux tamed — she started to sleep on her own.

But the fact remains, we co-slept, we co-slept carefully, and it worked for us.

Now, not only am I not advocating co-sleeping, but I will include a disclaimer I already put in another post on this blog.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says don’t co-sleep. No way. No how. It’s not safe. Period. It does, however, suggest your baby sleep in your room with you for a year, in a crib right next to your bed, if possible. But not in your bed. No way.

Are we clear? ;)

But I know many of us are going to bring our baby to bed with us at least once. Can it be done safely? Ever?

Many experts say yes.

Notre Dame has an entire Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory. It does advocate co-sleeping. It advocates for it quite persuasively here. It links to a pamphlet with advice on how to do it safely. There is just a ton of valuable information on co-sleeping — and co-sleeping safely — here.

Experts say don’t co-sleep if you’ve been drinking. Not even one. Don’t co-sleep if you’re taking any kind of medicine that would inhibit your ability to operate heavy machinery. Don’t co-sleep in a bed with a bunch of pillows and blankets. Don’t co-sleep with your baby between you and the wall…in fact, pull your bed away from the wall. Never co-sleep in a waterbed, a recliner, on a futon or a sofa. There are other things to think about, and here are some tips for safe co-sleeping, if you think you may do it, even once.

You could also arm yourself with one of those side-car “co-sleepers“. I’ve never tried one, and they’re pretty spendy, but many moms swear by them and they seem like the best of all worlds.

Back to the Texas CPS story. I would love to read more info about these numbers. I wonder if, in some cases, the “overlay” occurred because someone had had a drink, or a Benadryl, or was simply fatigued beyond all reason. Maybe they were co-sleeping in a recliner, or on a sofa, or in a bed pushed against a wall and covered with pillows. I don’t know. I’m not an expert. I’ll leave that to the folks at Notre Dame. But how simply awful. I cannot imagine being that mom or dad.

That’s why, as with any choice we make as parents, we have to arm ourselves with the best information we can find from the best sources we can find, and go from there. Particularly in a situation like this, when the stakes are so high, you know?

Now, I know this post is bound to stir up a little controversy, and again, I am not advocating co-sleeping!

I’m sharing my experience, as a regular mom, just like you.

Now where are those dark glasses?

***Update 4/09 – Here is an excellent example of how people can play with numbers to make it sound like they got a completely different result than they actually got.

For much more on the challenges — including sleep challenges — you may face in your baby’s first year, please listen to our Pea in the Podcast on Baby Boot Camp.


Your Stroller Choice May Impact Your Child's Development

According to a new study out of Dundee University’s School of Psychology, anyway. It suggests that if you put your baby in a stroller that is facing away from you, you are far less likely to talk to and interact with them. Developmental psychologist Suzanne Zeedyk led the study, and she says this can lead to developmental problems and anxiety in babies, meaning even bigger problems as they get older.

Wow. Hmmmm. That’s an awful lot to put on a mommy who is trying to decide what to put on her baby registry. Her stroller choice could ruin her baby’s life!

Well, not so fast. While I think there is something to this, it’s not as apocalyptic as the headline might imply.

We all know babies need interaction. They need to be touched and talked to and held and caressed. We may have lost just how important these things are to child development, or we wouldn’t be spending the amount of the most recent government bailout on infant DVDs and developmental toys when all your baby really needs is a good game of peek-a-boo, but I think we all know it’s important.

That’s where this study hangs its hat.

Zeedyk’s study included an experiment in which 20 babies were wheeled in strollers for a mile, spending half the trip facing their parents and the other half facing away. The research found that children not facing the person pushing them were significantly less likely to talk, laugh and interact with their parents (thank you, captain obvious). Those with their babies facing them talked to them much more. The study suggests those babies — in turn — were less likely to exhibit signs of stress.

I spoke with a developmental pediatrician at Baylor College of Medicine about this. Dr. Lane Strathearn led the study that discovered that when a mommy sees her baby smile, the reward centers of her brain light up. He thinks the finding from Zeedyk’s study is an interesting reminder that we need to interact with our babies, but he doesn’t think forward facing strollers are the end of the world. He says what’s important is the quality of the time we spend with our babies when they’re not in their strollers.

Listen to what Dr. Lane Strathearn has to say about strollers and development

OK, so bottom line? As you’ll hear in the interview, I tried very hard to find a stroller for my baby in which she would face me, but they all cost eleventy billion dollars. I don’t even have eleventy dollars, so I got her the kind everyone else in the world who is not Gwyneth Paltrow has, the kind that faces forward. I’m not a runner, or anything, so she didn’t spend enough time in the stroller to really get “stressed”, I tried to sling her as much as possible, and her out-of-stroller-time was jam packed with hands-on interaction (Remember, you can’t spoil and infant! Hold them all you want!), so I don’t think her forward facing stroller did any permanent damage.

Yours won’t either.

The end. ;)

PS…I also am not-a-hater of child development DVDs and toys. They have their place — like for the odd time when you remember you need to brush your teeth in the weeks after your baby comes, and you need them occupied — but they are not necessary for your baby to become the next Einstein. All your child needs for that is a lot of holding and talking and eye contact and a lot of off-key momma singing.

I think I hear the Nobel Prize Committee calling right now!

By the way, everything you need to know about baby gear can be found in this Pea in the Podcast. :)