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Newborn Care Frequently Asked Questions - Page 2
By Michael Schoenwetter, M.D. and Loraine Stern, M.D.

Below are more frequently asked questions regarding newborn care:

Newborn Care Question
During pregnancy what foods should I avoid? I want to make sure my newborn is healthy.

Newborn Care Answer: Eating healthy during your pregnancy will get your newborn off to a great start. There are some foods, however, that should be avoided during pregnancy.

1) Alcohol - There is no level of alcohol that has been shown to be safe during pregnancy. Alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriages, stillbirths and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome—which can cause mental retardation, deformities, and heart problems in your newborn. There are some doctors who say that 1 drink during your 3rd trimester is okay, however, the safe choice would be to avoid alcohol altogether.

2) Caffeine - A study from 2008 suggested that 200 mg of caffeine per day can slow fetal growth. There is also some evidence that excessive caffeine can increase miscarriages and stillbirths. Most doctors would agree to limit caffeine to less than 200 mg per day, which is the equivalent of a 12 ounce coffee.

3) Herbal Tea - There is insufficient data on the effect of certain herbs found in some teas. Check with your heath care provider first.

4) Unwashed Fruit/Vegetables - Thoroughly wash all produce to decrease exposure to harmful bacteria. Avoid raw sprouts of any kind.

5) Unpasteurized Foods - Most soft cheeses- brie, feta, blue and certain Mexican cheeses are made with unpasteurized milk. Do not eat these types of cheeses unless clearly labeled “pasteurized” as unpasteurized products may expose you to harmful bacteria.

6) Undercooked Eggs, Meat and Chicken - Raw eggs may contain salmonella, a potentially harmful bacteria. Make sure to fully cook all meat and poultry before eating. Deli meats and hot dogs need to be thoroughly cooked as well to avoid listeria, a potentially harmful bacteria. These are probably best avoided.

7) Seafood High in Mercury - Seafood contains many beneficial nutrients, such as iron, Vitamin D and fatty acids for yourself as well as your newborn to be. Certain fish, however, have can have high levels of mercury and should be avoided. These are shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. The FDA recommends 12 ounces per week of other types of cooked fish. This can include up to 6 ounces per week of albacore tuna. Other fish that contain little mercury are shrimp, salmon, cod, and catfish.

Obviously, a healthy diet during pregnancy will start your unborn baby and newborn off toward a healthy life. Overall, a variety of foods is recommended, but be sure to avoid the foods mentioned here. Always check with your healthcare provider if questions about your diet arise.

Newborn Care Question
I have a 1 month old newborn and am concerned about the flu. What can I do?

Newborn Care Answer: As I am sure you know, we are experiencing a very severe influenza outbreak due to the H1N1 virus. The seasonal flu, which will come in the next few months, will make this flu season long and harsh. Infants are at high risk for developing complications from the flu, so it is appropriate to be concerned. Avoiding large crowds of people, especially children, will decrease your exposure to the flu virus. Of course, good hand washing is essential to decrease the spread of germs. The most important preventative step would be for all caregivers and household contacts to be protected against the flu by receiving both their H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines. This forms a protective "cocoon" around your infant.

Newborn Care Question
Ever since we had a new baby my 3 year old has become more aggressive, especially towards me. I have read this is normal, but for how long?

Newborn Care Answer: I always tell the parents in my practice that are in your situation that the older sibling's life is changing much more dramatically than the parent's lives. The child feels like some of his uniqueness has been taken away. I use the analogy of going from a rock star to a back-up singer. Hopefully, the change is not that dramatic, but the analogy gives you some insight into what your child is feeling. Also, a 3 year old does not have the coping skills to deal with such a change in his daily life and thus changes in his behavior can occur. I am not saying that you should not discipline your child if he acts up, just that he is going through a lot in his life, and very commonly a few months of behavior changes are seen until routine is established again.

Newborn Care Question
What is your opinion regarding cord blood banking for my newborn due next month?

Newborn Care Answer: You have heard the term stem cells. They have the potential to be transplanted to treat blood, immunological, metabolic and malignant disorders. The blood that remains in the umbilical cord of a newborn contains these multi-potential cells. Saving a newborn's cord blood has been offered to parents for several years, mostly through for-profit cord blood banks and promoted as "biological insurance" in case one of their children needs it. There is an initial cost as well as yearly maintenance fees to keep the blood available.

There is no accurate estimate of the probability of a child needing cord blood. Estimates range from 1 in a 1,000 to less than 1 in 200, 000. Cord blood is not always the answer. If the child whose blood is stored develops leukemia, for instance, his own cord blood cannot be used because his genes are programmed to develop leukemia. Only if there is a sibling or close relative whose cord blood is stored is there a chance cord blood might help.

Cord blood banking should be arranged long before labor begins. The team in the delivery room needs to collect it under the correct procedures. It may not be done in the case of a complicated delivery when the newborn and/or mother's well being is an issue. There are less risks of infection, such as hepatitis and HIV, in a newborn's blood compared with an adult's. Although, the newborn's cord blood is readily available and easier to transplant than adult cells, there can be complications. The American Academy of Pediatrics has published guidelines to be aware of when making this decision.

There are only a handful of non-profit cord blood banks, such as one established by the National Institutes of Health, for families with a close relative that has a possibly treatable condition. Be wary of claims made by companies promoting cord blood banking as medical insurance for everyone. Do your homework and talk to your pediatrician and any specialist that might be involved in the illness in your family before committing money and hope to banking your child's blood. Encourage the government to set up cord blood banks so that everyone can benefit and worried families are not exploited.

My current response when parents ask about banking a newborn's cord blood is that it makes sense only if you know there is some disease in your family that might be helped with cord blood. Otherwise, the investment would probably be better starting a bank account for your child's education.

Preventing Newborn Abductions
Although we hear about them on the news, the actual rate of newborn abductions is very small. However, there are ways to protect your newborn.

In the hospital - Most hospitals have an alarm system set up with an anklet for each newborn. When a newborn leaves a certain area, the alarm rings. Check with your hospital about this prior to your delivery.

  • Never allow any staff person to handle the newborn unless they have a photo identification that matches their face;

  • If you need to leave your newborn alone to shower or leave the room for any reason, have the nurses keep your newborn in the nursery;

At home there are certain precautions you should take at home with your newborn:

  • Do not put your home address on social network sites to announce the birth.

  • Do not put storks, balloons, etc outside to announce the newborn.

  • Do not open the door to any worker without verifying their identity - for example by calling the utility company they claim to be from.

When out and about, make sure to be vigilant with your surroundings. Here are important tips when traveling with your newborn:

  • At the gas station, if the baby is in the back seat, take your keys out of the ignition and keep them in your hand while filling up.

  • If you go into the minimart, TAKE YOUR NEWBORN WITH YOU. Yes, it's inconvenient, but the guy who hotwires your car probably didn't see the baby in the back.

Again, newborn abductions happen very infrequently but being extra careful is essential.
 


We hope these frequently asked questions are helpful and please check back as we will be adding more new information regarding newborn care.

Newborn Care FAQ's Page 1 * Newborn Care FAQ's Page 2 * Newborn Care FAQ's Page 3

Be sure to read our Newborn Safety Tips and Baby Proofing page for some important information.
Please email us at doc@newborncare101.com if you have other common newborn care questions.

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