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Baby Talk Copyright 2014 The Valley News & The Herald-Journal February 2014




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orning sickness is a condition many pregnant women must face. It is generally one of the first symptoms of pregnancy and can begin as early as six weeks after conception, lasting until the end of the first trimester. Despite its name, morning sickness is not reserved for early in the day but can occur in the morning, afternoon and/or evening. The American Pregnancy Association says more than half of all pregnant women experience the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness. Nausea is associated with the increasing levels of hormones in the body. Many doctors are happy when women report morning sickness because it is an indication that the placenta in the womb is developing well. Eating smaller meals and nibbling on bland crackers before rising from bed can alleviate some symptoms of morning sickness. Try to remain hydrated, especially if you are plagued with bouts of vomiting. Sipping water or even flat ginger ale throughout the day may settle the stomach. If morning sickness becomes severe and results in considerable weight loss, consult your doctor.

Simple facts about pregnancy Women who have just learned they’re pregnant are about to embark on a whirlwind adventure. When that adventure culminates with the birth of a child, the family dynamic as you know it will change dramatically. Women who are entering into pregnancy for the first time typically have a long list of questions concerning what to expect in the weeks and months ahead. Fear, anxiety and uncertainty about which pains and pangs are normal and which are not are common. Pregnancy is a learning experience for the mother and all involved, and many falsehoods surround pregnancy and add to feelings of insecurity. Debunking some of the more common myths surrounding pregnancy can provide some peace of mind to expecting mothers and their families. Skip that coffee? Many of the prevailing pregnancy myths tell pregnant women what they shouldn’t do in order to keep their fetuses healthy and safe. It is well known that alcohol and cigarette smoke can have adverse effects on a developing baby, but what about that morning cup of joe? It is always good to err on the side of caution, but assuming everything is toxic to the child may have you walking on eggshells. Many doctors agree that drinking less than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day is safe and will not risk a preterm birth or contribute to low fetal birth weight. Pay attention to teeth Health exams and blood tests are routine for pregnant women, and new mothers may think they have everything covered with regard to their health. But one thing pregnant women seldom give much thought is dental health. During pregnancy, increased acidity in the mouth increases the risk of tooth decay. So can vomiting associated with morning sickness. The Mayo Clinic advises that high levels of progesterone and estrogen can affect the bones and

2 ◆ Baby Talk - The Valley News (2/12) & Herald-Journal (2/13)

ligaments that support the teeth, causing teeth to loosen. Hormonal changes can also lead to bleeding gums and gingivitis. Although dental health may not come up in routine prenatal exams, it is important to stay current with dental appointments during a pregnancy. Super smell In addition to physical body changes, pregnant women may notice that their sense of smell has improved. Scientists hypothesize that this improved sense of smell helps keep pregnant women from eating small levels of toxins that may not be dangerous to an adult but could potentially prove harmful to a small child. Whether this is true or not, strong odors can complicate feelings of sickness. This is something to anticipate while pregnant. Morning sickness Not every pregnant woman will experience morning sickness, and the name is a bit of a misnomer. According to, about 75 percent of all pregnant women experience the unfortunate side effect of morning sickness during the beginning of their pregnancy. These feelings of nausea and uneasiness may not be reserved for the morning, either. They can occur at any time of the day. In many cases, as the pregnancy progresses and hormones level out, symptoms of morning sickness abate. Growing feet and more A woman’s stomach is not the only thing that will grow during her pregnancy. Pregnant women often witness their bra and shoe sizes increase during a pregnancy. Hormones ready the breasts for lactation, causing swelling of the mammary glands and increased blood flow to the breasts. The medical advisory board of says it’s common to go up one or two cup sizes, especially when a see FACTS, Page 11


Probiotics beneficial for both mother and baby


ccording to recent studies, the use of probiotics by pregnant and nursing mothers can be beneficial for both mothers and their infants. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that help support the natural balance of microorganisms in the body. They inhibit the grown of harmful bacteria, promote good digestion, can bolster the immune system and also help to resist infection. “Probiotics are microorganisms that provide several health benefits, which is why taking them on a regular basis has so many advantages,” explained dietitian and nutritionist Annie Jolicoeur. “They have a beneficial effect on the mother’s intestinal flora as well as on the infant’s developing flora. “A multi-strain probiotic supplement, such as Probaclac, can significantly reduce a woman’s risk of suffering from gestational diabetes,” she added. “Furthermore, it has been proven that probiotics can improve blood sugar levels.” Here is an overview of the results of several studies done to determine the benefits of probiotics. n Pregnant women who take probiotics are less susceptible to preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure along with an abnormal amount of protein in the urine. Women who have high blood pressure have a higher risk of miscarriage and preterm delivery of a low birth weight or stillborn baby.

n Taking probiotics while pregnant can help fight yeast infections. n Probiotic supplements taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding promote the development of the child’s immune system. n Newborns whose mothers take probiotics while breastfeeding may be less susceptible to lactose intolerance. n Probiotic supplements taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can reduce the incidence of infantile atopic dermatitis, or eczema. Furthermore, we know that infantile eczema is often associated with asthma and other types of allergies. n Taking probiotics while breastfeeding also can reduce the risk of diarrhea. n Probiotics also can help reduce the incidence of infant allergies, according to the results of a recent study presented at the February 2013 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The results showed that children born to mothers who consumed probiotic lactobacilli during pregnancy had a 7 percent reduced risk for eczema at six months of age and a 12 percent reduced risk for hay fever at 18 to 36 months.

Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly. This allows doctors to treat them early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others. Doctors also can talk to pregnant women about things they can do to give their unborn child the best prognosis for a healthy delivery. When it comes to being pregnant, it’s never too early to see a physician, said Shenandoah Medical Center’s OB/ GYN Dr. Scott King. “We want to see them at the earliest opportunity,” said King. “It’s an absolute miracle that we have healthy individuals when one thinks about all the many pitfalls that can happen with an embryo along the way. That’s why we want to see them early, it gives us the opportunity to look for with early ultrasound to identify those that might need specialized prenatal care and helps us identify risk factors throughout the pregnancy, such as blood clotting disorders, high blood pressure, or epilepsy.” During an initial visit, your physician will more than likely ask you about your health history, including diseases, operation, and prior pregnancies; family’s health history; check your weight, check your blood pressure; check your height; take blood work and urine for lab work; and conduct a physical exam, including a pelvic exam; calculate your due date; and answer any questions you may have. As the appointments continue over the nine months, the prenatal visit will include checking your weight, blood pressure; measuring your abdomen to check the baby’s growth; and checking the baby’s heart rate. Additionally, with prenatal care you will have some routine tests done such as blood work to check for anemia, your blood type, as well as other tests based on your age, personal or family health history and ethnic background. Research has shown babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. “Our goal here is to provide the kind of care we would want for our own families,” said King. “We can’t go back in time to fix things that could have been fixed if you had come in earlier; and so that’s why you need to come in as soon as possible.”

Baby Talk - The Valley News (2/12) & Herald-Journal (2/13) ◆ 3



CHOOSING A DAY CARE PROVIDER 4 ◆ Baby Talk - The Valley News (2/12) & Herald-Journal (2/13)

xpectant parents have several important decisions to make, but one that working families cannot afford to forget is arranging daycare services. “My suggestion to parents is that as soon as they find out they are expecting they need to start looking for daycare,” Julie Streitenberger, director of Grandma’s House Day Care in Clarinda, said. Although there are several home providers as well as centers like Grandma’s House Day Care and Noah’s Ark Preschool in the Clarinda area, Streitenberger said securing a spot for a newborn can be challenging. “We currently have a waiting list for our baby room,” she said. Therefore, Streitenberger said parents can utilize either the Iowa Department of Human Services website or the Iowa Childcare Resource and Referral website to compile a list of area daycare providers they may want to visit and interview. Once a list of possible providers has been compiled, parents will want to visit the home or center and speak to the provider to determine what setting will be the best fit for their child. While the hours the center or home provider is available and the cost are factors, parents need to also research the cleanliness of the location as well as the atmosphere the child will be placed in and the educational opportunities that may exist. When inquiring about daycare services provided by an individual, parents should ask for at least three references from the parents of past and current children whom the individual has provided care. The references should be for people not related to the provider and include addresses and telephone numbers. A reliable and trustworthy childcare provider will be more than willing to provide references. Meanwhile, when considering a commercial daycare center, it is important to look for many of the same qualities a home daycare environment would provide. “Go to the center or home for a visit and hang out in the room your child will be in so you can get a feel of how things go through the day,” Streitenberger said. During that visit Streitenberger said parents should pay particular attention to the cleanliness of the home or center. This includes viewing the play areas, the nap areas, the locations where children eat their meals and snacks and the bathroom facilities. Also observe how the provider or staff interacts with the children and the atmosphere that is created for the children being cared for. Parents will also want to inquire about the teaching materials used at the facility. A home daycare provider or commercial facility that offers organized lessons and activities will better serve the children. They will learn lessons that will help advance their knowledge as well as improve their social skills. This will provide them with greater confidence when they enter school. In order to make the best decision, parents must be willing to continue asking questions until they get the answers they are seeking. If parents do not care for the personality of the daycare provider or have any doubts whatsoever about the condition of the home or facility, politely thank them for allowing a visit and look elsewhere. Finally, after choosing a daycare center, if parents ever suspect their child is not being properly cared for, they should remove them from the facility immediately. Parental instincts are a great tool in the decision making process when finding and choosing a daycare provider.


That’s why there’s life insurance


Life can take unexpected, unpredictable turns. Toward the amusing. The annoying. And, unfortunately, even the tragic. So every day, you take little steps to TM improve the odds that good things will happen and to guard against the bad. You wear seatbelts. You lock your doors when you leave home. You buy life insurance for the same kind of reason — to protect your family financially. It ensures that your loved ones will have the kind of lifestyle and opportunities you always hoped they’d have, even if Life can take unexpected, unpredictable turns. Toward the amusing. The annoying. And, unfortunately, even you’re not here. Will your family be the tragic. So every day, you take little steps to improve the odds that good things will happen and to guard OK when life happens?


That’s why there’s life insurance



against the bad. You wear seatbelts. You lock your doors when you leave home. You buy life insurance for


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How to Set Up a

Baby’s Nursery BABY IS ON THE WAY... TIME TO SET UP THE NURSERY 6 ◆ Baby Talk - The Valley News (2/12) & Herald-Journal (2/13)



xpecting parents eagerly anticipate the arrival of their new bundle of joy. After nine months of waiting to see what he or she looks like and wanting to cuddle their newborn, the baby’s arrival is a momentous event. As most people know, for such a little person, babies seemingly need a ton of gear and other items. One thing the baby will eventually need is a nursery to call home. Although newborns do spend the first few months of their lives often tucked in at night in a bassinet or co-sleeper cradle in mom’s bedroom, chances are the infant will nap or gradually spend increasing amounts of time in his or her own room. Outfitting the nursery with the essentials can mean comfort and convenience. To some parents, every baby product out there is a nesee NURSERY, Page 8

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Continued from Page 6

cessity. But in reality, there are maybe a handful of things to put into the nursery -- at least for the time being -- to adequately provide for the baby. “Make sure you always have clear floors and stairways. You are going to carry the baby around, and your arms may be full and you don’t see the floor. You don’t want to stumble,” said Carol Bellairs, a family support worker for Southwest Iowa Families in Clarinda. The agency assists families in various ways. Crib At some point in the near future, baby will be doing most of his or her sleeping exclusively in the crib. Although that can seem like a far-off goal now that your little one prefers to sleep in your arms while watching late-night television, after a few months junior will become comfortable with his or her room and may even enjoy the security the crib provides. Before selecting a crib, be sure to check for certain recalls and ensure the brand and model are not on the list. For a current list of recalled cribs, go online to The crib should be sturdy and meet guidelines for minimum spacing between spindles. Older, hand-me-down cribs are not recommended. Although drop-side cribs may offer ease of placing baby inside, some of these types of cribs have been recalled in the past for faulty railings that trap the infant. A stationary sided crib is another choice. “Drop-down cribs are not safe anymore. I hear people say, ‘I grew up with this or that and we are fine,’ but there have been deaths. That is why standards change,” said Bellairs. The operation assists families in various ways. What is in the crib is important, too. Bellairs said blankets, soft toys and bumper pads may create a hazard for the infant. “Especially watch blankets. Consider using pillow cases. Put the child in and it goes up to child’s armpits. There is room for the child to move but it doesn’t create a safety hazard,” she said. Position the crib away from items that can be pulled into the crib by curious hands. Try to keep it away from windows for draft reasons and also to avoid window-fall accidents. Cribs should be free of breathing obstructions, like

stuffed animals or puffy side bumpers to reduce the risk of SIDS. Changing table Most parents prefer a convenient changing table that also stores diapers and toiletries. Although it may not always be possible to travel to the nursery for every diaper change, you can still equip the nursery with a table or another sturdy place to change your infant. Some dressers double as changing tables in their design. A small loveseat or a guest bed in the nursery can also be a place to change the baby and provide a comfortable place to rest when he or she is waking up in the middle of the night. It is important never to leave a baby unattended on any surface because you never know the moment when he or she will learn to roll over or move enough to fall off of the changing surface. Safety devices Although infants are too young to get into much trouble, babies eventually become very active and curious. Take the time now to babyproof the nursery. Select window coverings that cannot be pulled down or do not feature cords that can present a strangulation hazard. All outlets should be blocked with a safety plug or some sort of cover to deter little fingers from seeking them out. Secure cords to lamps and other electronic devices in cord keepers. Latches for drawers, closets and other doors can deter baby from getting into places that can be dangerous. Door knob covers enable adults to open doors but are too tricky for toddlers to figure out. Clarinda Grandma’s House Daycare director Julie Streitenberger said some safety devices may be overlooked when preparing the home. “There are items that prevent small fingers from being pinched in doors,” she said. “There are spring-activated devices that keep the door open enough to prevent the pinch, but with adult strength, the door can still be closed with the device still attached. Streitenberger reminded parents to consider toilet lid locks to prevent toddlers from getting curious. There are also attachments to water faucets for bathrooms and kitchens to prevent hot water from injuring the child. “You may want to consider the temperature setting on your hot water heater,” she said. “Grandma’s House is required to have a setting no higher than 120 degrees.” Knowing the hot water heater provides for the appliances, she suggested parents contact a plumber to discuss

8 ◆ Baby Talk - The Valley News (2/12) & Herald-Journal (2/13)

how a lower hot water temperature could effect performance of the dishwasher. When selecting furniture, look for items with rounded corners, which are safer should a child fall into the furniture. And use a latch to secure top-heavy dressers or armoires to the wall so they cannot fall on a child. Mental stimulation Young children are constantly exploring the world around them. At a very young age their vision is still developing, so large, bold visuals can help stimulate visual comprehension. Some parents opt to have vivid wall murals painted in the nursery. But bold, framed artwork or photos can also draw the eye of your little one and keep him or her engaged. Research indicates that listening to music can help stimulate the brain and may even benefit a child’s intellect. Music can also be soothing to a baby, especially one alone in his or her nursery. You can consider a small radio or CD/ mp3 player in the room to create a more soothing atmosphere. Ceiling fan New studies have determined that a ceiling fan can help reduce the risk of SIDS. One study out of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., found that the risk of SIDS was reduced by 72 percent among babies who slept in a room with a ceiling fan. The theory is that the fan circulates air and prevents the rebreathing of expelled carbon dioxide by the infant. In addition to possibly making a room safer, a ceiling fan can help maintain a comfortable room temperature. You may also want to purchase a baby monitor to be able to keep tabs on your baby when you’re out of his or her room. Bellairs said families that have pets before the newborn arrives may change the dynamics. Bellairs suggested families expose the infant to the pet for the response. Some pets, specifically dogs, have not shown any negative changes in behavior when around infants. “You still need to do that with caution,” she said. Many expecting parents are excited about the prospect of designing and filling the nursery with items that reflect their styles and desires. Although there are many baby things from which to choose, in reality the nursery needs only a few basics at the onset. Eventually, you can add personalized effects as you learn the interests of the child and sort through gifts from family and friends.


It’s always important to take a daily vitamin, but never more so than when a woman is pregnant, or even considering becoming pregnant. Shenandoah Medical Center’s ob/gyn Dr. Scott King taking vitamins before your pregnant, and while pregnant can greatly reduce the risk of health problems with your baby. In particular, King said Folic Acid is a key component to decrease the risk of having a child with brain or spine defects, the most common being spina befida. Having Folic Acid in your system during the early stages of pregnancy can reduce the risk of brain and spinal defects by 50 percent. However, it’s important that the Folic Acid is available for the baby to utilize in the very early stages of pregnancy, as neural tube defects develop within the first 28 days after conception and continue over the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Foods that contain Folic Acid are green leafy vegetables, beans, citrus fruits and nuts. . Pregnant women also often become deficient in iron, which help carry oxygen to the baby, as well as calcium, which the baby will use for its bone growth. “There are also reasonable evidence today the Vitamin B12 has similar protective effects as Folic Acid does in terms of open spinal cord defects,” King said. “Vitamin B12 is also essential for proper brain development of these infants before and after they are born.” If vitamins make you ill, King recommends taking them with food, or possibly switching to children’s chewable.



Men Can Pitch In During Pregnancy

he days of yore when men took a hands-off approach to pregnancy are largely a thing of the past. Men now play a more active role during their partners’ pregnancies, helping in a variety of ways along the way to the day when the bundles of joy finally arrive. Though veteran fathers might know what to expect and how to help, a first-time father may know little about how he can help make the next several months of his partner’s life as easy as possible. The following are a handful of tips for expectant fathers who want to take an active role in their partners’ pregnancies. n Accompany your partner on prenatal visits. Pregnant women will make several prenatal visits to their doctors along the way to becoming a mother. Accompanying your partner on these visits will illustrate your own excitement about becoming a parent, and you might want to be there for certain milestones, such as the doctor showing you the results of an ultrasound where you may or may not decide to learn the sex of your child. Your presence on such visits will be appreciated as the pregnancy progresses and your partner finds it more and more difficult to get around on her own. n Do your homework. Women often read up about pregnancy so they can understand what is going on with their bodies while they are with child. Do your own homework so you can better understand what your partner is going through. Gaining a better understanding of the physical and emotional changes taking place might help make you a more attentive and patient partner, which will make the pregnancy easier on everyone involved. n Attend classes with your partner. If your partner wants to attend classes to learn about childbirth, accompany her to such classes as much as possible. Similar to accompanying your partner to the doctor’s office for prenatal visits, going to class with her will make the pregnancy seem like more of a team effort, which can make things less stressful on her. n Clean the house. Pregnant women should avoid exposure to household cleaning products, including cleansers and insecticides. Such products can harm your unborn child, so take over the cleaning responsibilities throughout the pregnancy. n Reduce your partner’s stress. Stress is potentially harmful for anyone, and pregnant women are no exception. Stress will only make the pregnancy more difficult and might prove harmful to mother and child alike. Take steps to make your partner’s life less stressful during her pregnancy, encouraging her to participate in relaxation exercises and taking on more of the household responsibilities as her pregnancy progresses and her mobility becomes more and more restricted. n Alter your diet along with your partner. Your partner will likely be on a restricted diet during her pregnancy. Pregnant women, for example, should never consume any alcohol. In addition, the American Pregnancy Association advises that women should avoid fish with mercury, smoked seafood, deli meat, soft cheeses, raw eggs, and raw meat during a pregnancy. Make these sacrifices easier by avoiding these foods and beverages around your partner or cutting them from your diet entirely during the pregnancy. This furthers the notion that your partner isn’t going it alone during the pregnancy, which can make it that much easier for both of you. Pregnancy can be an exciting and difficult time for expecting parents. Men can make things easier on their partners by taking steps to reassure them that the pregnancy is a team effort. Editorial provided by

Baby Talk - The Valley News (2/12) & Herald-Journal (2/13) ◆ 9

Opting out of



hildhood vaccinations are issued to help prevent children from getting sick by building their immunity to diseases that were once prolific. But in the wake of confusing information regarding the safety of vaccinations, particularly the concern that some may be linked to the onset of autism, more and more parents are opting out of having their children vaccinated -- sometimes with unfortunate consequences. Many diseases that are effectively prevented by simple vaccines have cropped up once

10 ◆ Baby Talk - The Valley News (2/12) & Herald-Journal (2/13)

more. This can be attributed to children simply not getting fully vaccinated. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert regarding Haemophilus influenza type b, commonly referred to as Hib. Five children in Minnesota contracted the disease, three of whom who were not vaccinated. The CDC also reported that there were 17 outbreaks and 222 cases of measles reported in 2011. A disease that was essentially wiped out in North America is now showing up again and the numbers are rising. Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious disease specialist, said that in 2011 the United States had the highest number of measles cases of any country in the last 15 years. Although it is likely that most of the cases were contracted outside of the country, kids who haven’t been vaccinated are highly susceptible to measles onset as a result, potentially leading to a greater number of outbreaks in the United States and Canada. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly infectious respiratory disease that was once considered eradicated but has also made resurgence. Various states across the country have reported many whopping cough outbreaks, to the point that it has been labeled an epidemic once more. Health officials in Washington State have said that the number of outbreaks from spring 2012 are the highest since the 1940s. While whooping cough is usually not fatal among older children and young adults, it can be very dangerous for infants. “There have been outbreaks of whooping cough, or pertusis, locally as we as nationally and children have died from it, which is rather unusual circumstance,” said Shenandoah Medical Center’s ob/gyn Dr. Scott King. “We believe this is due to a lack of childhood vaccinations.” Nearly 80 percent of parents are uncomfortable about having their children vaccinated, according to a survey analyzed by researchers at the CDC. Pain from the needle itself and uncertainty about the safety of vaccines is leading many parents to forego shots or delay certain vaccinations until their children are older. It is estimated that roughly 8 percent of American children are now not getting regular vaccinations or doing alternate schedules, and 2 percent are not getting shots at all. The correlation that childhood vaccines may bring the onset of autism is a specific reason why some parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children. However, Dr. King said the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the CDC states there is no evidence that relates the two. “The problem is the age in which you can actually diagnose autism is the age you start vaccinations and so that’s what makes it appear on the surface to be a cause,” said King. Some parents would like to have their children vaccinated but have postponed routine visits due to unemployment and subsequent loss of health insurance. Some areas have even fell victim to budget cuts that have led to shortages of necessary vaccines. Most health professionals agree that vaccinations are important to the well being of the child and the community, providing the safest way to prevent certain diseases or reduce their severity. There are several recommended vaccinations that children should receive: • DtaP: Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis • Hepatitis A • Hepatitis B • Hib • Influenza • MMR: Measles, mumps and rubella • Pneumococcal • Polio • Varicella: Chickenpox Smallpox “Here in our country we really do not appreciate the damage that is caused by a lack of vaccinations, as much as in third-world countries where they don’t have them,” King said. “Our grandparents grew up in a time where they were signs on people’s houses that read ‘Quarantine’ regarding Scarlet Fever, Polio, Small Pox or Whooping Cough.” It has even been recommended that adults receive a booster of Whooping Cough vaccine, including women that are pregnant. However, parents who have any concerns about vaccinations should speak to a physician to weigh the pros and cons of each vaccination. Editorial provided by


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a woman is pregnant for the first time. The breasts also may feel itchy as the skin stretches, and stretch marks can form on the breast skin. The feet also can grow while pregnant. Ligaments loosen to help with the birthing process, and this can affect ligaments in

other areas of the body, including the feet. Feet may flatten and stretch out on the sides from added weight, and the resulting loosening of ligaments can cause a change in shoe size. Other little-known pregnancy facts Here are some additional facts and tidbits culled from the millions of births that take place every year. n Tuesday is the most popular day for babies to arrive. It could be in part to the grow-

ing number of planned cesarean deliveries. Saturdays are the slowest day for births. n More babies are born during the warm months than in the winter. n In 1970, the average age for a firsttime mother in the United States was 21. By 2012, that figure had changed to between 25 and 29. n Baby boys tend to outnumber baby girls. This number has remained steady for the last 60 years.

n The average woman’s uterus expands up to five hundred times its normal size during pregnancy. Pregnancy can be a miracle and scary at the same time. Getting the facts helps reduce some of the fear and anxiety many expecting women feel during a pregnancy.

Make wellness checks a habit throughout childhood By JOHN VAN NOSTRAND Staff Writer

It’s become common, and may be more than expected, for parents of newborns and young children to use health care at the obvious times. But health-care providers are hoping those parents will make wellness checks as part of their children’s routines as much as soccer games and piano lessons. “We encourage well-child visits in older kids,� said Dr. Autumn Morales, a pediatrician at Clarinda Regional Health Center. “People remember to schedule those visits for babies and when they are due for shots. But it seems like after the child turns 2, they don’t come in until it’s time to get ready for school or when they are really sick,� she said. “Kids should get a wellness check every year until they are 18.� Even if the child has a significant illness, that should be a trigger for the parents to have the child see the doctor on a regular basis. “Sometimes an illness is a good time to remind parents to have their children has an annual check-up,� Morales said. “There may be some doctors who say something

like, ‘Oh, by the way your child hasn’t had a check-up in two years. It’s a backdoor-way to do it, but you can find a way to get them in the door.� Having annual checkups brings more at-

tention to the child’s complete health, rather than just what was the concern the last time they saw a doctor. During a well-child visit, the doctor examines the child to find out whether he or she is growing appropriately. The doctor will ask questions about the things the child is doing, such as talking and walking. The doctor will also give the child needed immunizations. Schedule routine checkups for your child. Talk to the doctor about when to make these appointments. “I’m sure 99 percent of the well-child visits will go well, but you can find some problems like the heart murmur you haven’t heard before,� Morales said. When a child visits a doctor because of a sudden or intense illness, the doctor will probably spend a vast majority of the visit on the symptoms related to the illness. “We need time to talk about growth, development and risk factors,� Morales said. Another thing Morales said for parents to consider is to know when those symptoms are serious enough to need a doctor for further treatment. “I think one of the biggest obstacles in pediatrics is the demand for antibiotics when they are not appropriate,� she said. “That is

common when kids have colds and viral illnesses. Some parents will say they think the child needs the antibiotic, when really they only need a few days to get over it. Parents see runny noses and pulled ears and think antibiotics are needed.� According to, a cold is a viral infection. More than 200 different viruses can cause a cold, but the rhinovirus is most common. Because colds are viral infections, antibiotics, which treat bacterial infections, are not helpful. Except in newborns, colds in healthy children are not dangerous. Colds usually go away in four to 10 days without any unique treatment. Because of the great number of viruses that can cause colds and because new cold viruses develop, children never build up resistance against all cold viruses. Those more complicated health issues are the leading reasons why some doctors only see children a few times during childhood. “We miss a group of little kids until they are 4 or 5 and are getting ready for school. Then we won’t see them until sports physicals for school,� Morales said. “We take good health for granted.�

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