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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Election Day: Guide to Safely In Person Voting Today

This election year is marked by unprecedented challenges. Beyond intense political discourse and concerns over election integrity is the ever-looming presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It can’t be avoided.

In the same way that the COVID-19 outbreak upended all aspects of our daily lives — from working in an office to going to school — how we vote has changed as well.

This has left voters with many questions about how best to cast their ballot on November 3, including how they can vote safely if they choose to do it in person.

First, assess the risks

Dr. Anne Monroe, MSPH, an associate research professor of epidemiology at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University, said that deciding to vote in person this fall — as with everything — bears consideration and weighing how much risk you’re assuming.

It boils down to your comfort level with assessing whether your local jurisdiction has put in place the needed precautions.

It also matters whether you personally feel you have been safe and haven’t been exposed to COVID-19 prior to voting, and what your comfort level is with entering a public space, Monroe told Healthline.

“Very few activities carry zero risk other than sitting at your home alone,” she said. “For everybody, it involves examining what their own health status is, what the status is of their community, what the transmission rate is, whether they have vulnerable individuals in their household, whether or not their children are back in school, or they have been going back out to their offices.”

“It bears a lot of questions to ask yourself,” Monroe added. “How do you stay healthy and how do you do everything you can to make sure your vote is counted? It’s a lot to balance and a lot to process.”

Assessing your personal risk ahead of time can help you feel more at ease with the decision you make.

Become familiar with your official polling place guidelines

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its guidelinesTrusted Source for election polling locations during COVID-19.

As with the recommendations for other public gathering spaces like restaurants and gyms, polling places are expected to regularly disinfect surfaces. They’re also expected to provide signs marking where voters should stand and walk to avoid crowding and maintain proper distancing.

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STUDY: Hispanic, Black Pregnant COVID Patients Higher Risk for Hospitalization

A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that pregnant women with COVID-19 are at increased risk for hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and mechanical ventilation but not death.

Researchers studied the disease surveillance data of 8,207 pregnant women infected with the novel coronavirus and 83,205 nonpregnant women aged 15 to 44 years from Jan 22 to Jun 7 to determine whether the immunologic and physiologic changes of pregnancy put them at risk for more severe outcomes.

About one third (31.5%) of pregnant women infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, had been hospitalized, versus 5.8% of their infected nonpregnant peers, but the researchers were unable to distinguish between hospitalization for coronavirus-related symptoms versus those for pregnancy-related procedures such as delivery.

After adjustment for age, underlying conditions, and race/ethnicity, pregnant women were 5.4 times more likely to be hospitalized, 1.5 times more likely to need intensive care, and 1.7 times more likely to require mechanical ventilation than nonpregnant women.

Sixteen of 8,207 pregnant women and 208 of 83,205 nonpregnant counterparts died of the novel coronavirus, or 0.2% for both groups.

Hispanic, black pregnant women more affected

When stratified by age, hospitalization, ICU admission, receipt of mechanical ventilation, and death were reported more often by women aged 35 to 44 years than by those aged 15 to 24 years, whether or not they were pregnant. When stratified by race/ethnicity, the rate of ICU admission for pregnant Asian women was 3.5%, compared with 1.5% in all pregnant women.

Overall, 97.1% of pregnant women and 96.9% of nonpregnant women reported COVID-19 symptoms. While both reported similar percentages of cough (more than 50%) and shortness of breath (30%), pregnant women were less likely to report headache, muscle aches, fever, chills, and diarrhea and more likely to have chronic lung disease, diabetes, and heart disease.

Among pregnant women, 46.2% were Hispanic, 23.0% were white, 22.1% were black, and 3.8% were Asian, versus 38.1%, 29.4%, 25.4%, and 3.2%, respectively, of their nonpregnant peers. “Although data on race/ethnicity were missing for 20% of pregnant women in this study, these findings suggest that pregnant women who are Hispanic and black might be disproportionately affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy,” the authors said.

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Coronavirus Outbreak: What Parents and Expecting Mom Should Know

boy with mask coronavirus

The newest coronavirus just took its first US victim as of this publication – a person near Seattle – and by now, parents and pregnant women, and many others are in panic mode.

The most recent reports indicate that over 84,100 people have been sickened with the virus and about 2,870 have died since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Although the virus was mainly in China, it has since spread to at least 56 nations including 62 confirmed cases in America.

On Tuesday, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the coronavirus would most likely spread to communities in the United States.

Watch this excellent explainer video from the CDC NOW!!!


“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, during a news media briefing. “We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare, in the expectation that this could be bad.”

As the New York Times recently reported:

Right now, the bulk of the cases in the United States are connected to the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship that was docked in Japan after it was revealed that some guests on board had tested positive for coronavirus. For those who have been diagnosed in the United States, most had traveled to China, although two cases occurred after contact with an infected person at home.

Two cases in California, one revealed on Wednesdayanother on Friday, had no known connection to previous cases, suggesting community spread.

The paper also did a great round up of advice and here are the critical excerpts that pertain to children and pregnant women who are the main focus of this site and I highlighted the points that jumped out to me in larger font and italics:

Should parents be worried?

The good news, Dr. Meissner said, is that cases in children have been very rare.

According to a report published in JAMA in February, most people infected with the coronavirus were between 49 and 56 years old.

“It appears that when kids do get it, they have much milder symptoms,” Dr. Meissner said.

It’s also important to keep things in perspective, Dr. Mulligan added. “Flu is killing a lot more Americans, including children,” he said. “There’s no doubt the influenza virus will cause many more illnesses, hospitalizations and even deaths than this coronavirus.”

[What parents should know about this season’s flu.]

What steps should parents take at this point?

You should take the same precautions you would take to protect your child from the common cold or flu.

“We know for sure that it spreads readily from person to person, akin to influenza,” Dr. Schaffner said of the new coronavirus. “We also now think it can spread from people who are infected with the virus, but not yet showing symptoms. We don’t know if this is a frequent occurrence, but it can happen.”

As always, encourage children to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can work in a pinch, but they’re generally not as effective as soap and water, added Dr. Meissner.)

Hands should be washed before children eat, after they use the bathroom, come inside from outdoors or touch something dirty like garbage. If you see someone coughing or sneezing, try to keep your kids as far away from them as possible.

“We believe that the respiratory secretions from coronaviruses can’t travel more than six feet,” Dr. Meissner explained.

Travel is also fine, Dr. Meissner added, but use common sense and caution.

For the most part, domestic trips and even most international ones are still OK (even with the isolated cases of potential community spread in California).

The C.D.C. has issued a Level 3 advisory (which means avoiding nonessential travel) for China and South Korea, and a Level 2 advisory (meaning older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing travel, and those who are going should practice enhanced precautions) if you’re traveling to Japan, Iran or Italy.

If you’re planning a cruise for spring break, the C.D.C. also urges you to avoid ones that travel to or from Asia.

If there is an outbreak in your town, Dr. Schaffner said you should practice what’s known as social distancing.

This means staying at home and binging on TV, rather than going out and about to movies, sports events and other activities. Schools may close, at least temporarily, and people who can work from home will be encouraged to do so.

For now, Dr. Schaffner said, if you and your kids still haven’t gotten a flu shot, get one.

“We’re talking so much about the coronavirus, but in the meantime, there have been 16,000 flu-related deaths this year in the United States, with 105 in children,” he stressed. “Parents are used to the flu, so they don’t worry as much about it. But taking steps to protect their children from it are much more important.”

I’m pregnant. Should I be concerned?

Yes, but no more than you would be about coming down with the flu.

During pregnancy, parts of your immune system are depressed, which makes you more susceptible to complications from viruses such as influenza and chickenpox, explained Dr. Steven Gordon, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. (Pregnant women, for example, are nearly 3.5 times more likely to end up in the hospital from the flu than women who aren’t expecting, according to a study published in June 2019 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.)

“It makes sense that a pregnant woman would be at higher risk of complications from this virus than a nonpregnant one,” he said. “But you also need to keep in mind that your risk in general of getting this disease is very, very low.”

Be safe out there!

CDC Warns Parents Of New Polio-Like Disease Eidemic

Federal health officials took the unusual step on Tuesday of warning the public about an increase in a mysterious and rare condition that mostly affects children and can cause paralysis.

So far this year, 127 confirmed or suspected cases of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a significant increase over 2017 and a worrying perpetuation of a disease for which there is little understanding.

Of the cases announced Tuesday, 62 have been confirmed in 22 states, according to Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the CDC. More than 90 percent of the confirmed cases have been in children 18 and younger, with the average age being 4 years old.

The surge has baffled health officials, who on Tuesday announced a change in the way the agency is counting cases. They also wanted to raise awareness about the condition so parents can seek medical care if their child develops symptoms, and so physicians can quickly relay reports of the potential illness to the CDC.

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The 8 Things You Can Do To Keep the Rest of Summer Safe

Summer is a great time to get out and have fun, but be mindful of the following safety tips:
  1.     Make sure your CPR and first Aid certifications are up-to-date. Accidents happen regardless of how many safety precautions you take. Being prepared to handle whatever may come up helps you stay calm during an emergency, take the correct action quickly, and keep injuries to a minimum. If your certifications have lapsed, contact your local Red Cross or American Heart Association to schedule a renewal class. Proper training can literally save a life.
  2.     One of the best ways to spend a summer afternoon is playing at the pool, lake, or ocean. But water can be deceptively dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 800 children drown. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 3, and the second-leading cause among kids under 15. Keeping a watchful eye on all children and staying within an arm’s reach of younger children is essential to keeping them safe at the pool, lake, or ocean. Don’t assume children who are strong swimmers are automatically safe around water. Every child can fall victim to a cramp, tiring, or an unseen undertow.
  3.     Staying hydrated is one of the most important safety precautions you can take during summertime. Instead of stocking up on juice and sports drinks, invest in a quality water filter and plenty of refillable water bottles. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that “water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents.” What about kids involved in summer sports? The AAP says, “Sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, but in most cases they are unnecessary on the sports field.” Making sure kids drink plenty of water throughout the day will keep them hydrated and ready to take on summertime fun.
  4.     Putting sunscreen on kids 6 months and older every time they go outside is a must. Applying sunscreen 30 minutes before children are in the sun ensures they have full protection. Teaching kids to spell BEENS will help you remember to cover often forgotten spots: Back of knees, Ears, Eye area, Neck, and Scalp. Reapplying sunscreen every two hours, more often if the kids are swimming or playing in the water, will help keep kids safe throughout the day.
  5.     Insects are an unavoidable part of summer and painful or itchy bites can quickly dampen any outdoor activity. Using a safe and effective bug repellant makes time spent outside a lot more enjoyable. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control recommend parents and caregivers use an insect repellant that contains 10% to 30% DEET on children 2 months and older. Combination sunscreen / insect repellent products shouldn’t be used because sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but insect repellent doesn’t.
  6.     Ticks are another troublesome part of summer. They can infect both children and adults with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause serious illness including Lyme disease. Even when using an insect repellant with DEET children can pick up ticks, especially when playing in areas where ticks thrive like the woods and grassy lawn areas. Doing a full body check for ticks each day is the best way to ensure your charges stay tick-free. Adding a daily tick patrol to the evening bath routine makes a routine check easy and fun to do. If you do find a tick, grasp it with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out.
  7.     Summer is the perfect opportunity for you and older children to enjoy a bike ride on local trails or through a favorite park. Making sure kids are wearing a quality correctly-fitting helmet is necessary to prevent injury in the case of an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, “A properly fitted bicycle helmet reduces the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent.” Helping kids personalize their helmets to reflect their own interests and hobbies is an easy way to get them excited about adding it to their safety routine.
  8.     Bikes aren’t the only thing that requires a helmet. Blades, scooters, and skateboards all pose their own risks. Knee and elbow pads are a smart idea for children of all skill levels. Pads should have a hard plastic shield, not interfere with movement, and fit snugly without cutting off circulation. For beginners, outfitting kids with additional gear such as wrist guards, gloves, and mouth guards will offer added protection and peace of mind.

Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade: A Message For Those Contemplating Suicide and Wanting to Help Others In Distress

Today, we learned of the passing of author, chef, cooking ambassador, storyteller and overall amazing person Anthony Bourdain to suicide. His death bookends a week when we got wind of the tragic passing of designer Kate Spade also to suicide.

Earlier this month, famed Swedish DJs Avicci also took his own life. They join the millions of other non famous people or lesser known who succumb to their inner turmoil, or the effects of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or other mental anguish and issues.

If there is one thing that can be learned from these deaths, it is that depression and mental illness have no one look.  Those suffering may wear a mask or normally or  a smile , while suffering silently.

Depression can be concealed, and can be happening to those near and dear to us, right under our noses.

You never know what demon or issues people are dealing with, so check in on your friends, family and neighbors once in a while.

Look for Warning Signs. Help Someone.

So it’s a good time to remind ourselves to reach out to those personally around us if we notice mood and behavior changes, letting their appearance go, dropping out of school or hobbies, avoiding friends, not sleeping well, or a big change in mood, reach out. Let them know someone cares and you are there for them.

If there has been a life altering episode, or another situation that leads to extreme emotional stress. Heed to warning signs that someone may be suffering with depression.

If  you have had suicidal thoughts, Please Stay.

If you are reading this, and you have had suicidal thoughts, and are dealing with so much sadness, loneliness or other anxiety that you feel you cannot cope any longer with the pain, please remember that “this too shall pass.”

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us,” Alexander Graham Bell famously said.

An unknown author quipped, “Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.”

It may be really hard to come to grip with the grande scheme of life and your perspective may be skewed right now because of how you are feeling, but trust me when I say, there is a light and hope and happiness waiting for you on earth.

Find someone to talk to and if you don’t feel you can open up with some there is always the National suicide prevention hotline  for US residents (Internationally for others) where you can get help and  guidance, and perhaps a referral to some place where you can get personal, confidential counseling at no cost too.

There is good and beauty everywhere.

Try to concentrate on the positive things about yourself and your life. Make plans this weekend to get away and have some fun. Splurge on a manicure or facial. Enjoy the weather and if it’s raining, check out some movies you’ve never seen. There are so many out there you haven’t watched.

You cannot end it all now. (smile)

Live for another day. Survive this.

For those who want to know how to help someone, here are some tips from the National Suicide Prevention organization for you to keep in mind.

Know the Risk Factors

Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re important to be aware of.

•Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders

•Alcohol and other substance use disorders


•Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies

•History of trauma or abuse

•Major physical illnesses

•Previous suicide attempt(s)

•Family history of suicide

•Job or financial loss

•Loss of relationship(s)

•Easy access to lethal means

•Local clusters of suicide

•Lack of social support and sense of isolation

•Stigma associated with asking for help

•Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment

•Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma

•Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

Know the Warning Signs

Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

CNN Reports:

When a high-profile person dies by suicide, the “celebrity-suicide effect” can lead to a rise in copycat deaths. In the four months after Robin William’s took his own life in 2014, there was a 10% increase — almost 2,000 additional suicides — recorded.

There is already a rise in suicide rates in the US, increasing more than 25% since 1999. Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in 2015, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide rates are also rising worldwide, with some one million people dying annually from suicide. The World Health Organization estimates a global suicide rate of one death every 40 seconds, which by 2020 they predict will increase to one every 20 seconds.If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, here are ways to help:

Call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It provides free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people in suicidal crisis or distress. You can learn more about its services here, including its guide on what to do if you see suicidal language on social media. You can also call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone about how you can help a person in crisis. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

For the TrevorLifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community, call 1-866-488-7386.

Text HOME to 741741 to have a confidential text conversation with a trained crisis counselor from Crisis Text Line. Counselors are available 24/7. You can learn more about how the texting service works here.

For online chat, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a confidential chat window, with counselors available 24/7.

Boys Town also provides counselors for youth-specific online chat at this link. It is available every Monday through Friday between 6 p.m. and midnight in the Central time zone.

Quit Feeding Your Child Pizza, ‘Kid Foods’ and Juice Pouches with this 6 Steps


According to the National Institutes of Health, on any given day one-third of children and 41 percent of teens eat from a fast-food restaurant. They also report that the restaurant meals often served to kids contain too many calories. The typical “kid food” being offered tends to usually include chicken nuggets, fries, macaroni and cheese, burgers, and pizza. The problem is that these meals often provide empty calories and don’t provide enough nutrition. They also keep the kids wanting the same types of foods at home, with parents often providing them. One expert, Doctor Yum, says it’s time to ditch the “kid food” and start giving kids better options.

“Most food is kid-friendly. Kids just need to learn how to eat it,” says Dr. Nimali Fernando, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based pediatrician who founded The Doctor Yum Project. “Kids who are taught healthy eating habits, which include eating a variety of healthy foods, will be far better off now and in the long run. They will be learning healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”

Here are 6 reasons to ditch the pizza and pouches and get your kids back to real food:

  • Kids can learn to eat real food. Most of us parents overestimate the amount of food children need. Therefore when a toddler takes two bites of their entree, parents may feel defeated instead of realizing they may have eaten enough. Parents then may be more likely to reach for those kid-friendly, addictive snacks (like crackers and gummy snacks) to fill their child’s belly.  It should be no surprise that grazing-style eating, where hunger does not fully develop, leads to a poor appetite at mealtime. Parents should continue to provide opportunities to practice eating healthy foods, and have realistic expectations for what their child should eat. With enough practice kids will get used to a healthy array of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Check with your pediatrician to see if your child is meeting expectations for growth to ensure his food intake is on track.
  • Restaurant kids meals are a waste of money. When eating out, say no to kid’s meals, which are usually variations on the same “kid-friendly” foods like pizza, chicken nuggets, and sweet drinks. Most of these menus have little to no vegetables or fruit. They may be belly fillers and provide calories but little added nutritional value for your dollar. Instead, order a healthy similarly priced appetizer and/or share your entree with your little one (restaurant meals are so oversized that chances are good that the serving is too big for you anyway). Alternatively, order a few entrees “family style” and ask the server to bring extra plates for whole family to sample. This encourages kids to be adventurous and get used to trying new foods.
  • Kid-friendly foods are misleading.  Recent studies of toddler foods show that many actually have more sugar and salt than what is recommended by experts. Food companies know that parents worry about nutrition, and know the buzzwords to attract those worried parents. It’s easy to make food choices based on the promise of “more protein” or “high in calcium.”  But reading the nutrition label (on the back of the box, not the front) will give you the big picture on whether a food is right for your child. Is there an abundance of additives and preservatives? Are the ingredients recognizable and safe? How much sugar is added? Think about the whole foods that might be used to get the same benefit (like a handful of nuts for protein instead of a protein bar).
  • Kids need real food to develop and thrive. While pizza and macaroni and cheese may fill a child’s belly, kids need fruits, vegetables and whole grains to provide the necessary, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (plant nutrients) for optimal growth and development.  Furthermore, an important part of a child’s development is their oral motor skills, those functions of the mouth (lips, tongue, teeth and palate) that allow for speech, safe feeding and swallowing. Many kid-friendly foods are soft and easy to eat and don’t encourage development of those skills. Relying too heavily on these foods (like soft chicken nuggets and pouches with soft purées) can allow kids to lag behind in oral motor development and may lead to picky eating.
  • You don’t have time to be a short order cook. Making two or three meals to satisfy everyone’s preferences is exhausting and can lead to cooking burnout. Teach kids to eat what you are eating to save time and money and to encourage the spirit of adventurous eating. This can be done from the earliest bites of solid food. Instead of relying on store-bought baby food exclusively, find ways to make your meals into healthy baby food. Check out the Doctor Yum Project’s kid-tested, pediatrician approved recipes on doctoryum.org. Many of them have a “baby food shortcut” which shows families how to adapt a family meal and make a meal for a baby along the way. Eating in this way from a young age can avoid that picky eater trap and lead to a path to adventurous eating for a lifetime.
  • Nutrition shouldn’t be hidden, so stop hiding the veggies.  Kids that are very hesitant eaters may be benefit from a few hidden vegetables as they gain confidence in food, but in general parents should try to help kids learn to love healthy foods without hiding them. While hidden veggies may help nutritionally, the kids may not gain an understanding that vegetables can be delicious, so they may still try to avoid them when they are visible. Get kids loving their veggies by leading by example, preparing them together, growing a garden, and visiting a farmers market where they can pick out a couple of things to try. The more variety they are exposed to and realize that they enjoy, the better the eating habits will be.

“If kids can get involved in the food process, from shopping to preparing it, and they can learn about why eating healthy is so important to them, they are more likely to do so,” adds Heidi DiEugenio, a director at the Doctor Yum Project. “This will help them avoid the obesity problems, chronic health issues, and they will have a better opportunity to live a healthier life throughout their adulthood.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy eating habits can help children maintain a healthy weight, as well as reduce their risks of such conditions as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, iron deficiency, dental cavities, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. An unhealthy diet, on the other hand, can lead to being overweight or obese, increase risks for certain types of cancer, and negatively affect overall health, cognitive development, and a child’s school performance.


National Premature Awareness Month: Things To Know


November is National Premature Awareness Month.

Sadly, there are 15 million babies are born prematurely each year – and complications from premature birth are the leading cause of death among children under 5, taking nearly 1 million lives annually.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, premature birth is the biggest contributor for infant death, with most preterm-related deaths occurring among babies who were born very preterm, before 32 weeks.

Premature (also known as preterm) birth refers to when a baby is born too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature birth is a concern because babies born too soon miss out on this valuable time to grow and develop.  Babies who survive may spend weeks or months hospitalized in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and may face lifelong problems such as

  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Breathing and respiratory problems
  • Visual problems including retinopathy of prematurity
  • Hearing loss
  • Feeding and digestive problems

Fortunately, the medical community is aware of precautions can be taken by adapting to these newborns’ unique physiological and developmental needs.


Dräger, a leader in neonatal care, suggests the following that can be done to encourage preemie development including

  • Noise: Better protect preemies from noise stress by controlling their exposure to harmful noise. Loud noise in the NICU can produce changes in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and oxygenation.
  • Light: Efforts must be made to better control disturbing light in the NICU. While infants in the NICU are exposed to constant light, studies have shown that bright light levels in the NICU may have negative results on the growth and development of preemies.
  • Cold/Heat: A preemie’s temperature must be kept stable at all times to better protect and prevent cold or heat stress.

“There is nothing more exciting than the birth of a newborn, but for families of babies born prematurely life’s first moments may be some of the hardest as they are forced into the NICU upon birth,” said Merouane Djerbal, Draeger Director of Marketing.  “At this time, nothing is more important than ensuring utmost care to the family’s new baby, and we can do this by creating an environment that caters to their unique developmental needs and understands just how sensitive a preemie’s senses are at this stage of life.”



Sadly, Zika claims Life of Texas Baby

mosquito zika

The Zika virus has claimed the life of a Texas baby,health officials reported Tuesday.

The baby, whose mother had traveled to Latin America during her pregnancy, died shortly after birth. The infant was born with microcephaly,  a condition in which a baby’s head is abnormally small and, in most cases, brain development is incomplete.

The baby was born in Harris County, which includes Houston. It’s the first Zika-related death in Texas.

Zika-related brain damage in fetuses “is one of the saddest congenital birth outcomes imaginable,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “The case highlights that ZIka is not just producing babies with small heads.  . . .We should expect many similar deaths, and also stillbirths.”

Fifteen babies in the U.S. have been born with Zika-related birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seven women have lost pregnancies due to Zika. Those numbers could grow. Nearly 1,000 pregnant women in the continental U.S. and territories have been infected with Zika.

Miami is battling a local Zika outbreak in the Wynwood neighborhood that has infected 21 people, according to the Florida Department of Health.

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REPORT: Tween Suicide Rate has Rippled since 1999

suicide prevention

The National Center for Health Statistics released an alarming study about Suicide on  Friday which revealed that the rate among girls ages 10 to 14 has tripled since 1999.

The number of girls who killed themselves rose to 150 in 2014 from 50 in 1999.

“This one certainly jumped out,” said Sally Curtin, a statistician at the center and an author of the report.

It’s starting but also to note that the suicide rate, generally, in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, in every age group except older adults.

Sadly, suicide is a problem for younger people in general.

The  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.

There really needs to be a comprehensive assessment as to why suicides have increased so much among tween girls.

We believe the advent of social media and its use as a tool for online bullying and the pressure for acceptance and “likes” may be determined to have something to do with it.

We’ll be on the look out for more data and research on this topic.

In the meantime, please visit Suicide Prevention Lifeline for clues or signs that someone you know is thinking of suicide. And if that person is you, please seek help and counseling.

Tomorrow is not promised to everyone, but it is a fact that there will be brighter days ahead and you need to live to see them.


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