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Study: Vitamin D Supplements During Pregnancy Doesn’t Impact Infants Growth

Even in a population of women with vitamin D deficiency, supplementation of high-dose vitamin D from mid-pregnancy until birth and for 6 months postpartum shows no benefits on measures of fetal or infant growth compared with prenatal supplementation only, or placebo, according to a study of more than 1100 women and their infants.

“Vitamin D supplementation given to women during the latter half of pregnancy and in the postpartum period improved biochemical markers of vitamin D status and reduced the risk of vitamin D deficiency, as expected. However, even at higher than conventional doses, vitamin D supplementation did not have effects on infant growth up to 1 year of age,” first author Daniel Roth, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the departments of pediatrics and nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto, Ontario, told Medscape Medical News.

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Scientists Discover Pregnant Women Have an Immune System Clock

Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have completed the first-ever characterization of the meticulously timed immune system changes in women that occur during pregnancy.

The findings, which will be published Sept. 1 in Science Immunology, reveal that there is an immune clock of pregnancy and suggest it may help doctors predict preterm birth.

“Pregnancy is a unique immunological state. We found that the timing of immune system changes follows a precise and predictable pattern in normal pregnancy,” said the study’s senior author, Brice Gaudilliere, MD, PhD, assistant professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine.

Although physicians have long known that the expectant mother’s immune system adjusts to prevent her body from rejecting the fetus, no one had investigated the full scope of these changes, nor asked if their timing was tightly controlled. “Ultimately, we want to be able to ask, ‘Does your immune clock of pregnancy run too slow or too fast?'” said Gaudilliere.

The new research comes from the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University, which aims to understand why preterm births happen and how they could be prevented. Nearly 10 percent of U.S. infants are born prematurely, arriving three or more weeks early, but physicians lack a reliable way to predict premature deliveries.

“It’s really exciting that an immunological clock of pregnancy exists,” said the study’s lead author, Nima Aghaeepour, PhD, instructor in anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine. “Now that we have a reference for normal development of the immune system throughout pregnancy, we can use that as a baseline for future studies to understand when someone’s immune system is not adapting to pregnancy the way we would expect.”

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Reason for the Season: 5 Ways Parents Can Remove Materialism from Holidays for their Children

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During the holiday season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all of the materialism.

Children (and parents too) forget the reason for the season which is usually about giving, charity and togetherness moreso than about getting. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or some other holiday during the Winter months, it’s important to be able to bring it all back down to earth, and de-emphasize the commercialization of the Holidays.

That’s why we are happy to share the “Top 5 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Give and Receive in the Holiday Spirit” curated by the folks at Wear the Cape™, a brand that gives back and aims to restore the power of kindness and heroic character with cool, inspirational products and its non-profit the kidkind foundation.

With these tips, by the organization’s resident character education expert Philip Brown, PhD, who is a Fellow of the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, parents can know how to emphasize love over material things during the holiday season.

“We can all agree that the holidays can bring out the best in us and the worst in us,” said Dr. Brown. “As the big end-of-year holidays approach, it is common to get anxious about how much there is to do, whether we have enough gifts to make everyone happy, and if our celebration of family and religious traditions will go as we hope. Our motives may be the best, but execution can be daunting.”

Here are the tips:

1. Be intentional. Talk to children about giving and charity, how it makes us feel, and what values we are upholding. Whether the heart-to-heart is about giving money or time and energies, research shows that talking with children to help them understand the family and society values associated with giving is important.

2. Think beyond your family. Let children know they are part of a community and global citizenship. Ask who has served your family this past year and could use some recognition. Look at where there are people in need locally, nationally and internationally. Could a neighbor use a helping hand or the local food pantry some extra servers?

3. Involve your kids in decision-making. Include your children in discussions about to whom something should be given, whether it’s a toy, a dollar, a card, the offer of service or a good word. Simple and sweet can open the heart as much as big and fancy. Think of family and then extend outward. Involving kids in the process of selecting charities or persons to whom they want to give goes a long way toward building a generous spirit.

4. Gift outside the box – literally. Consider gifts of experiences rather than just material items. We remember and cherish good times together longer than almost any physical present.

5. Don’t overlook the art of receiving. You can help children build their character by learning how to receive gifts gracefully and with gratitude, which is as important as being a caring giver. The holidays are also about receiving. Receiving should be done with an open heart, remembering that the person giving the gift wants to please you and make you feel good.

According to Dr. Brown, dealing with disappointed expectations during the holidays provides an opportunity to support children’s learning process and emphasize that the holidays are about sharing time with loved ones, not about the size of the gifts. He recommends being present to each other, remembering that children ascertaining how to handle intense feelings is rarely a smooth course, and being tolerant of their mistakes, as you would want them to be of yours. “Emotional honesty goes a long way to healing the wounds of dashed expectations,” commented Dr. Brown.

And in fact, celebrating the spirit of giving all year long is one way to take away the expectations surrounding receiving, and lessen the streeses at the end of the year.

“Avoiding being swept up in societal pressures to dazzle our kids with exciting gifts in pretty packages is one of the biggest challenges for parents during the holiday season,” observed Leigh Ann Errico, CEO & Founder of Wear the Cape & the kidkind foundation. “Teaching children to appreciate non-material blessings all year round helps parents battle expectations for excess.”

Starting today, Wear the Cape is kicking off its #BetterThanPresents challenge and inviting people of all ages to post a short video on social media sharing what they want this holiday season that money can’t buy, then daring friends and family to do the same. Join in! Include the hashtag #BetterThanPresents when posting your video, and tag your friends and Wear the Cape’s Facebook page HERE

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