DiversityNursing Blog

Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping May Benefit Children Years Later

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 12:22 PM

TARA HAELLE

www.npr.org 

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A couple of extra minutes attached to the umbilical cord at birth may translate into a small boost in neurodevelopment several years later, a study suggests.

Children whose cords were cut more than three minutes after birth had slightly higher social skills and fine motor skills than those whose cords were cut within 10 seconds. The results showed no differences in IQ.

"There is growing evidence from a number of studies that all infants, those born at term and those born early, benefit from receiving extra blood from the placenta at birth," said Dr. Heike Rabe, a neonatologist at Brighton & Sussex Medical School in the United Kingdom. Rabe's editorial accompanied the study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Delaying the clamping of the cord allows more blood to transfer from the placenta to the infant, sometimes increasing the infant's blood volume by up to a third. The iron in the blood increases infants' iron storage, and iron is essential for healthy brain development.

"The extra blood at birth helps the baby to cope better with the transition from life in the womb, where everything is provided for them by the placenta and the mother, to the outside world," Rabe said. "Their lungs get more blood so that the exchange of oxygen into the blood can take place smoothly."

Past studies have shown higher levels of iron and other positive effects later in infancy among babies whose cords were clamped after several minutes, but few studies have looked at results past infancy.

In this study, researchers randomly assigned half of 263 healthy Swedish full-term newborns to have their cords clamped more than three minutes after birth. The other half were clamped less than 10 seconds after birth.

Four years later, the children underwent a series of assessments for IQ, motor skills, social skills, problem-solving, communication skills and behavior. Those with delayed cord clamping showed modestly higher scores in social skills and fine motor skills. When separated by sex, only the boys showed statistically significant improvement.

"We don't know exactly why, but speculate that girls receive extra protection through higher estrogen levels whilst being in the womb," Rabe said. "The results in term infants are consistent with those of follow-up in preterm infants."

Delayed cord clamping has garnered more attention in the past few years for its potential benefits to the newborn. Until recently, clinicians believed early clamping reduced the risk of hemorrhaging in the mother, but research hasn't borne that out.

Much of the research has focused on preterm infants, who appear to benefit most from delayed cord clamping, Rabe said. Preemies who have delayed cord clamping tend to have better blood pressure in the days immediately after birth, need fewer drugs to support blood pressure, need fewer blood transfusions, have less bleeding into the brain and have a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, a life-threatening bowel injury, she said.

This study is among the few looking at healthy, full-term infants in a country high in resources, as opposed to developing countries where iron deficiency may be more likely.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has not yet endorsed the practice, citing insufficient evidence for full-term infants. The World Health Organization recommends delayed cord clamping of not less than one minute.

It is unclear whether the practice could harm infants' health. Some studies have found a higher risk of jaundice, a buildup of bilirubin in the blood from the breakdown of red blood cells. Jaundice is treated with blue light therapy and rarely has serious complications.

Another potential risk is a condition called polycythemia, a very high red blood cell count, said Dr. Scott Lorch, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and director of the Center for Perinatal and Pediatric Health Disparities Research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"Polycythemia can have medical consequences for the infant, including blood clots, respiratory distress and even strokes in the worst-case scenario," Lorch said. Some studies have found higher levels of red blood cells in babies with delayed cord clamping, but there were no complications.

Lorch also pointed out that this study involved a mostly homogenous population in a country outside the U.S.

"We should see whether similar effects are seen in higher-risk populations, such as the low socioeconomic population, racial and ethnic minorities and those at higher risk for neurodevelopmental delay," Lorch said.

So far, studies on delayed cord clamping have excluded infants born in distress, such as those with breathing difficulties or other problems. But Rabe said these infants may actually benefit most from the practice.

These babies often need more blood volume to help with blood pressure, breathing and circulation problems, Rabe said. "Also, the placental blood is rich with stem cells, which could help to repair any brain damage the baby might have suffered during a difficult birth," she added. "Milking of the cord would be the easiest way to get the extra blood into the baby quickly in an emergency situation."

Topics: WHO, birth, newborn, childhood, health, nurses, doctors, hospital, patient, umbilical cord, children's health, childbirth, cognitive development

Elisabeth Bing Dies at 100; ‘Mother of Lamaze’ Changed How Babies Enter World

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, May 18, 2015 @ 11:18 AM

By KAREN BARROW

www.nytimes.com 

17BING1 obit blog427 resized 600Elisabeth Bing, who helped lead a natural childbirth movement that revolutionized how babies were born in the United States, died on Friday at her home in Manhattan. She was 100.

Her death was confirmed by her son, Peter.

Ms. Bing taught women and their spouses to make informed childbirth choices for more than 50 years. (“We don’t call it natural childbirth, but educated childbirth,” she once said.)

She began her crusade at a time when hospital rooms were often cold and impersonal, women in labor were heavily sedated and men were expected to remain in the waiting room, pacing.

Ms. Bing pushed for change. She worked directly with obstetricians, introducing them to the so-called natural childbirth methods developed by Dr. Fernand Lamaze, which incorporated relaxation techniques in lieu of anesthesia and enabled a mother to see her child coming into the world.

Along with Marjorie Karmel, Ms. Bing helped found Lamaze International, a nonprofit educational organization.

She became known as “the mother of Lamaze,” championing the technique in her book “Six Practical Lessons for an Easier Childbirth” (1967) and on the lecture and television talk-show circuits.

Today, Lamaze and other natural childbirth methods are commonplace in delivery rooms, and Lamaze classes, with their emphasis on breathing techniques, are attended by an estimated quarter of all mothers-to-be in the United States and their spouses each year.

For years Ms. Bing led classes in hospitals and in a studio in her apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where she kept a collection of pre-Columbian and later Native American fertility figurines.

Ms. Bing preferred the term “prepared childbirth” to “natural childbirth” because, she said, her goal was not to eschew drugs altogether but to empower women to make informed decisions. Her mantra was “Awake and alert,” and she saw such a birth as a transformative event in a woman’s life.

“It’s an experience that never leaves you,” she told The New York Times in 2000. “It needs absolute concentration; it takes up your whole being. And you learn to use your body correctly in a situation of stress.”

There was one secret she seldom shared, however: Her own experience giving birth to her son, Peter, was decidedly unnatural. As Randi Hutter Epstein reported in her book “Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth From the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank” (2010), she continually asked her doctor, “Is my baby all right? Is my baby all right,” until the doctor said he could not concentrate with her chatter and gave her laughing gas and an epidural.

“I got everything I raged against,” Ms. Bing told Ms. Epstein. “I had the works.”

Elisabeth Dorothea Koenigsberger was born in a suburb of Berlin on July 8, 1914. Her parents, of Jewish descent, had converted to Protestantism years before her birth, but the family nevertheless felt the virulent anti-Semitism sweeping Germany before World War II. She was kicked out of a university two days into her freshman year, and two of her brothers — a historian and an architect — could not find work because of their Jewish background, she told The Journal of Perinatal Education in 2000.

After Ms. Bing’s father died in 1932, the family left the country; most members settled in England, while one sister moved to Illinois. In London, Ms. Bing studied to become a physical therapist and began work at a hospital. Mostly she helped patients with paralysis, multiple sclerosis and broken bones, but every morning she also visited the maternity ward, to give massages to new mothers and help them exercise. At the time, women were not allowed out of bed for as many as 10 days after giving birth.

She became interested in natural childbirth in 1942 when a patient handed her Dr. Grantly Dick-Read’s influential book “Revelation of Childbirth,” published that year (and later titled “Childbirth Without Fear”). Dick-Read proposed that pain during childbirth was caused by fear, and that a woman could avoid anesthesia by following a series of relaxation techniques aimed at reducing that fear.

Ms. Bing became intrigued and hoped to train with Dick-Read in the north of England, but with the war on and travel all but impossible, she began her own independent study. She read as much as she could and observed obstetricians and their patients — heavily anesthetized women who, she saw, had little control over the birth of their children.

“What I saw I disliked intensely,” she said in her interview with the perinatal journal. “I thought there must be better ways.”

Ms. Bing, who drove an ambulance during the war, began pursuing her interest in natural childbirth after 1949, when she moved to Jacksonville, Ill., to be with her sister, who had recently married. There, while working with handicapped children, Ms. Bing met an obstetrician who, she discovered, knew very little about natural childbirth. Resolving to champion the techniques, she began approaching obstetricians and having them send patients to her for one-on-one classes.

Ms. Bing had planned to return to England in about a year and was on her way back when she stopped in New York to visit friends. There she met Fred Max Bing, an exporter’s agent, and decided to stay. The two were married in 1951.

Besides her son, Ms. Bing is survived by a granddaughter. Her husband died in 1984.

In New York, Ms. Bing again started giving private childbirth education classes. They caught the attention of Dr. Alan Guttmacher, the chief of obstetrics at Mount Sinai Hospital, which had opened its first maternity ward in 1951. He asked her to teach a formal class there.

In her search for other childbirth alternatives, Ms. Bing began to learn about the psychoprophylactic method developed in the mid-1950s by Lamaze, a French obstetrician. Lamaze refined Dick-Read’s approach by incorporating breathing exercises he had observed in the Soviet Union, where anesthesia was a luxury poor women in labor could scarcely afford.

In 1960, Ms. Bing, by then a clinical assistant professor at New York Medical College, and Ms. Karmel founded the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics, known today as Lamaze International.

Ms. Karmel, an American, had become a natural-childbirth crusader after seeking out Lamaze in Paris to help her deliver her first child, and her best-selling book, “Thank You, Dr. Lamaze” (1959), largely introduced the method to Americans and drew Ms. Bing’s attention.

(In the late 1950s, Ms. Bing had persuaded Ms. Karmel to smuggle into the United States an explicit French educational film, “Naissance,” depicting a woman giving natural birth. When New York City hospitals and the 92nd Street Y refused to show it in prenatal classes — they considered it obscene — the two women held a private screening at Ms. Karmel’s home on the Upper East Side. Ms. Karmel died of breast cancer in 1964.

At the heart of the methods the women promoted was the idea of family teamwork, with the father helping the mother by coaching her in responding to her contractions with breathing exercises and massaging her back, and being present during the delivery.

But in her book, Ms. Bing cautioned, “You certainly must not feel any guilt or sense of failure if you require some medication, or if you experience discomfort or pain.”

Some obstetricians were skeptical of the methods and thought Ms. Bing, not being a physician, was ill qualified to be instructing patients. But the natural-childbirth movement found a receptive public. Women coming of age in the 1960s embraced the idea of taking a more active role in childbirth and wanted fathers to participate more as well.

“It was a tremendous cultural revolution that changed obstetrics entirely,” Ms. Bing said in an interview in 1988.

Ms. Bing was modest about her role in the movement. “It wasn’t really a movement by Lamaze or Read or me,” she told the Disney-owned website Family.com. “It was a consumer movement. The time was ripe. The public doubted everything their parents had done.”

But she rejoiced in the outcome. “We are not being tied down anymore,” she said in 2000. “We’re not lying flat on our backs with our legs in the air, shaved like a baby. You can give birth in any position you like. The father, or anybody else, can be there. We fought for years on end for that. And now it’s commonplace. We’ve got it all.”

Lamaze, himself, did not acknowledge Ms. Bing, never responding to her requests for an interview even though she had made his name part of the American vernacular. During their only meeting, at a lunch in New York, he directed all his comments to a male obstetrician at the table.

“I’ve never thought of myself as someone with a legacy of any kind,” Ms. Bing said in an interview at an Upper West Side cafe. “I hope I have made women aware that they have choices, they can get to know their body and trust their body.”

“If my ideas supported feminist ideas,” she continued, “well, that’s all right. But I’ve never been politically active.”

Topics: birth, newborn, health, baby, pregnant, pregnancy, nurse, medical, hospital, patient, treatment, doctor, babies, Elisabeth Bing, lamaze

Preterm Birth Alters Brain Connections Linked To Cognitive Functioning, Study finds

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, May 05, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

Written by Honor Whiteman

www.medicalnewstoday.com 

preterm baby resized 600Infants born preterm are known to be at greater risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. Now, a new study by researchers from King's College London in the UK brings us closer to understanding why - premature birth reduces connectivity in brain regions linked to cognitive functioning.

First author Dr. Hilary Toulmin, of the Centre for the Developing Brain at King's College, and colleagues publish their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Preterm birth - defined as the birth of an infant before 37 weeks gestation - affected more than 450,000 babies in the US in 2012.

It is a leading cause of neurological disability among children in the US. Babies born preterm are at higher risk of cerebral palsy, autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), among other intellectual and developmental conditions.

For their study, Dr. Toulmin and colleagues set out to gain a better understanding of the brain connectivity among babies born preterm in an attempt to uncover clues as to why preterm babies are more likely to develop neurodevelopmental problems.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze the connectivity between two specific brain regions - the thalamus and the cortex - among 66 infants. Of these, 47 were born prior to 33 weeks gestation and 19 were born at full term - between 37 and 42 weeks gestation.

The team says they focused on the connectivity between the thalamus and the cortex because these are the brain connections that develop quickly during preterm infants' care in neonatal units.

Preemies showed reduced connectivity in brain area linked to higher cognitive functioning

Among the babies born at full term, the researchers found the connectivity between the thalamus and the cortex was very similar to that of adults, which the researchers say supports previous findings that infants are born with mature brain connections.

Among the preterm infants, however, the team identified reduced connectivity between areas of the thalamus and areas of the cortex associated with higher cognitive function. This may explain why preterm babies are at greater risk of neurodevelopmental problems later in childhood, say the researchers.

What is more, brain scans of the preterm infants revealed increased connectivity between the thalamus and an area of the primary sensory cortex that plays a role in processing signals from the face, lips, jaw, tongue and throat.

Preterm infants' earlier exposure to breastfeeding and bottle feeding may explain this finding, according to the team.

The team says the earlier a preterm baby was born, the more pronounced the differences were in brain connectivity.

Overall, the team believes their findings bring us a step closer to understanding why infants born preterm are at higher risk of neurodevelopmental problems.

Senior author Prof. David Edwards, also of the Centre for the Developing Brain at King's College, says modern science has allowed the team to assess brain connectivity among preterm infants - something he says would have been "inconceivable" only a few years ago.

"We are now able to observe brain development in babies as they grow, and this is likely to produce remarkable benefits for medicine," he adds.

Dr. Toulmin says the next steps from this research will be to gain a better understanding of how their findings are associated with learning and developmental problems among preterm children as they get older.

Topics: birth, newborn, health, healthcare, brain, nurses, doctors, medical, hospital, treatment, NICU, health studies, preterm birth, cognitive functioning

Fertility Clinic Courts Controversy With Treatment That Recharges Eggs

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 02:36 PM

ROB STEIN

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Melissa and her husband started trying to have a baby right after they got married. But nothing was happening. So they went to a fertility clinic and tried round after round of everything the doctors had to offer. Nothing worked.

"They basically told me, 'You know, you have no chance of getting pregnant,' " says Melissa, who asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her privacy.

But Melissa, 30, who lives in Ontario, Canada, didn't give up. She switched clinics and kept trying. She got pregnant once, but that ended in a miscarriage.

"You just feel like your body's letting you down. And you don't know why and you don't know what you can do to fix that," she says. "It's just devastating."

Melissa thought it was hopeless. Then her doctor called again. This time he asked if she'd be interested in trying something new. She and her husband hesitated at first.

"We eventually decided that we should give it one last shot," she says.

Her doctor is Dr. Robert Casper, the reproductive endocrinologist who runs the Toronto Center for Advanced Reproductive Technology. He has started to offer women a fertility treatment that's not available in the United States, at least not yet. The technique was named Augment by the company that developed it, and its aim is to help women who have been unable to get pregnant because their eggs aren't as fresh as they once were.

Casper likens these eggs to a flashlight that just needs new batteries.

"Like a flashlight sitting on a shelf in a closet for 38 years, there really isn't anything wrong with the flashlight," he says. "But it doesn't work when you try to turn it on because the batteries have run down. And we think that's very similar to what's happening physiologically in women as they get into their 30s."

In human eggs, as in all cells, the tiny structures that work like batteries are called mitochondria. Augment is designed to replace that lost energy, using fresh mitochondria from immature egg cells that have been extracted from the same woman's ovaries.

"The idea was to get mitochondria from these cells to try to, sort of, replace the batteries in these eggs," Casper says.

Here's how it works. A woman trying to get pregnant goes through a surgical procedure to remove a small piece of her ovary, so that doctors can extract mitochondria from the immature egg cells. In a separate procedure, doctors remove some of the woman's mature eggs from her ovaries. They then inject the young mitochondria into the eggs in the lab, along with sperm from the woman's partner; except for adding mitochondria to the mix, the process is the same one that's followed with standard in vitro fertilization. The resulting embryo can then be transferred into her womb.

The extracted mitochondria "look exactly like egg mitochondria," Casper says. "And they're young. They haven't been subjected to mutations and other problems."

So they should have enough power to create a healthy embryo, he says — at least in theory. The company that developed the procedure, OvaScience Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., has reported no births from the procedure so far. The technique adds about $25,000 to the cost of a typical IVF cycle.

OvaScience hopes to eventually bring the technique to infertile couples in the United States. But the Food and Drug Administration has blocked that effort — pending proof that the technique works and is safe. Meanwhile, the firm is already offering the technology in other countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey — and in Canada, at Casper's Toronto clinic.

"We're pretty excited about it," Casper says.

Not everyone in Canada is excited about it. Endocrinologist Neal Mahutte, who heads the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society, notes that no one knows whether the technique works. And he has many other questions.

"It's a very promising, very novel technique," he says. "It may one day be shown to be of tremendous benefit. But when you amp up the energy in the egg, how much do we really know about the safety of what will follow?"

"Is there a chance that the increased energy source could contribute later to birth defects?" Mahutte wonders. "Or to disorders such as diabetes? Or to problems like cancer? We certainly hope that it would not. But nobody knows at this point."

He and some other experts say it's unethical to offer the procedure to women before those questions have been answered.

"There are processes that are set up to ensure that products which are offered for clinical use in humans have undergone rigorous testing for safety and efficacy, based on well-established scientific and ethical testing criteria," says Ubaka Ogbogu, a bioethicist and health law expert at the University of Alberta. "To circumvent this process is to use humans as guinea pigs for a product that may have serious safety concerns or problems."

Casper defends his decision to offer his patients the treatment, saying a New Jersey fertility clinic briefly tried something similar more than 15 years ago; in that case, he says, the resulting babies seemed fine, and there have been no reports of problems since. In addition, Casper says he has done a fair amount of research on mitochondria.

"I think there's very little chance that there would be any pathological or abnormal results," he says. "So I feel pretty confident this is not going to do any harm."

Casper's first patient to try the technique — Melissa — says she's comfortable relying on the doctor's judgment.

"I think there's always risk with doing any sort of procedure," Melissa says. "IVF — I mean, there was lots of controversy and risk when that first came out. For me, and from what I've discussed with my doctor, I don't see it being a big risk to us."

And she's thrilled by the outcome so far: She's pregnant with twins.

"You know, I couldn't believe it," she says. "I still don't believe it a lot of the time. There are no words for it — it's incredible. We're very excited."

Casper says 60 women have signed up for Augment at his clinic. He has treated 20 of the women, producing eight pregnancies, he says. The first births — Melissa's twins — are due in August.

Source: www.npr.org

Topics: birth, clinic, health, healthcare, pregnancy, nurse, medical, hospital, treatment, doctor, fertility, eggs

The Gentle Cesarean: More Like A Birth Than An Operation

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 02:25 PM

JENNIFER SCHMIDT

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There are many reasons women need cesareans. Sometimes the situation is truly life-threatening. But often the problem is that labor simply isn't progressing. That was the case for Valerie Echo Duckett, 35, who lives in Columbus, Ohio. After receiving an epidural for pain, Duckett's contractions stopped. By late evening she was told she'd need a C-section to deliver her son, Avery. Duckett says she has vague memories of being wheeled into the operating room, strapped down and shaking from cold.

"They were covering me up with warm blankets,"she says. "I kind of slept in and out of it." Her only memory of meeting her newborn son for the first time was from some pictures her husband took.

This is the experience many women have. The cesarean section is the most common surgery in America — about 1 in 3 babies is delivered this way. But for many women, being told they need a C-section is unpleasant news. Duckett says she felt like she missed out on a pivotal moment in her pregnancy.

"It took me a long time even to be able to say that I gave birth to Avery," she says. "I felt like I didn't earn the right to say I gave birth to him, like it was taken from me somehow, like I hadn't done what I was supposed to do."

Duckett's reaction to her C-section is unfortunately a common one, says Betsey Snow, head of Family and Child Services at Anne Arundel Medical Center, a community hospital in Annapolis, Md.

"I hear a lot of moms say, 'I'm disappointed I had to have a C-section.' A lot of women felt like they failed because they couldn't do a vaginal delivery," says Snow.

Now some hospitals are offering small but significant changes to the procedure to make it seem more like a birth than major surgery.

In a typical C-section, a closed curtain shields the sterile operating field. Mothers don't see the procedure and their babies are immediately whisked away for pediatric care — a separation that can last for close to half an hour. Kristen Caminiti, of Crofton, Md., knows this routine well. Her first two sons were born by traditional cesarean. She was happy with their births because, she says, it was all she knew. Then, just a few weeks into her third pregnancy, Caminiti, who is 33, saw a post on Facebook about family-centered cesarean techniques catching on in England.

"I clicked on the link and thought, 'I want that,' " she says.

The techniques are relatively easy and the main goals simple: Let moms see their babies being born if they want and put newborns immediately on the mother's chest for skin-to-skin contact. This helps stimulate bonding and breast feeding. Caminiti asked her obstetrician, Dr. Marcus Penn, if he'd allow her to have this kind of birth. He said yes.

When Caminiti told Penn what she wanted, his first thought was it wouldn't be that difficult to do. "I didn't see anything that would be terribly out of the norm," he says. "It would be different from the way we usually do it, but nothing terrible that anyone would say we shouldn't try that."

Family-centered cesareans are a relatively new idea in the U.S., and many doctors and hospitals have no experience with them. Penn and the staff at Anne Arundel Medical Center quickly realized the procedure would require some changes, including adding a nurse and bringing the neonatal team into the operating room.

And there were a bunch of little adjustments, such as moving the EKG monitors from their usual location on top of the mother's chest to her side. This allows the delivery team to place the newborn baby immediately on the mother's chest. In addition, Penn says, the mother's hands were not strapped down and the intravenous line was put in her nondominant hand so she could hold the baby.

At the beginning of October, Caminiti underwent her C-section. She was alert, her head was up and the drape lowered so she could watch the delivery of her son, Connor. Caminiti's husband, Matt, recorded the event. After Connor was out, with umbilical cord still attached, he was placed right on Caminiti's chest.

"It was the most amazing and grace-filled experience to finally have that moment of having my baby be placed on my chest," Caminiti says. "He was screaming and then I remember that when I started to talk to him he stopped. It was awesome."

And the baby stayed with her for the rest of the procedure.

Changes like this can make a big difference, says Dr. William Camann, the director of obstetric anesthesiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and one of the pioneers of the procedure in the U.S. At Brigham and Women's, their version of the family-centered cesarean is called the gentle cesarean. Moms who opt for it can view the birth through a clear plastic drape, and immediate skin-to-skin contact follows.

Camann says the gentle C-section is not a replacement for a vaginal birth; it's just a way to improve the surgical experience. "No one is trying to advocate for C-sections. We really don't want to increase the cesarean rate, we just want to make it better for those who have to have it," he says.

So why has the procedure been slow to catch on? Hospitals aren't charging more for it — so cost doesn't seem to be a major factor. What's lacking are clinical studies. Without hard scientific data on outcomes and other concerns like infection control, many hospitals may be wary of changing their routines. Betsey Snow of Anne Arundel Medical Center says the family-centered C-section represents a cultural shift, and her hospital is helping break new ground by adopting it.

"It is the first time we have really done anything innovative or creative with changing the C-section procedure in years," she says.

Kristen Caminiti says her hope is that these innovations become routine. She says she'd like nothing more than to know that other women having C-sections are able to have the same amazing experience she had.

Source: www.npr.org

Topics: mother, delivery, birth, c-section, operation, gentle cesarean, nursing, health, baby, nurses, doctors, health care, hospital

Rare Birth: Baby Born Completely Encased In Amniotic Sac

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Feb 25, 2015 @ 11:22 AM

Ben Brumfield

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We all know that every baby is special, but Silas Philips pulled off a rare feat right out of the womb.

Days before he's scheduled to leave the hospital, he's already gone viral on social media because he was born 'en caul.'

Silas was completely encased in his amniotic sac, said Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in a Facebook post. That's so rare, that even doctors delivering babies hardly see it. So Silas' doctor snapped a photo with his cell phone.

It looked like the baby was trapped in a big water bubble.

"Even though it's a cliche -- we caught our breath," neonatologist William Binder told CNN affiliate KCAL. "It really felt like a moment of awe." 

Then Binder got to work helping Silas to breathe - and giving him special care, because Silas was born three months before his due date via Caesarean section.

Later, Silas' grandmother showed the cell phone photo to his mother, Chelsea Philips.

"It was definitely like a clear film, where you could definitely make out his head and his hair," Philips told the affiliate. Silas was curled up in fetal position inside.

What is 'en caul'

 The amniotic sac is an opaque bubble that covers all babies in the womb from right after conception. As the baby grows, it fills with fluid, including the baby's urine. 

The sac cushions the baby from bumps and jostles during mom's daily ups and downs.

Normally, during a birth, it breaks, and the fluid rushes out, which is where the term 'breaking water' comes from.

But sometimes, the sac can get stuck around part of the baby, according to Dr. Amos Grunebaum, an obstetrician and gynecologist, who publishes a website on birth and baby care. 

It can, for example, get stuck on the baby's head, which makes it look like its wearing a glass space helmet. That's also where the term caul comes from -- it derives from Latin words that refer to a helmet.

Such amniotic sac helmet births are rare enough, but to have the entire baby inside the sac, or 'en caul,' occurs in less than one in 80,000 births, Cedars-Sinai said.

When Philips heard how rare her Baby's birth was, she was flabbergasted. "I was like, oh my gosh, Silas, you're a little special baby," she told KCAL.

It's particularly surprising in a C-section, because the scalpel usually pierces the amniotic sac.

The doctors must have missed Silas's.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: delivery, birth, c-section, baby, nurse, nurses, doctors, hospital, en caul, new born, labor, amniotic sac, gynecologist

UK Lawmakers Approve '3-parent babies' Law

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Feb 04, 2015 @ 11:47 AM

By Laura Smith-Spark

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Lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of a law that sets the stage for the United Kingdom to be the first country in the world to allow a pioneering in vitro fertilization technique using DNA from three people.

The technique could prevent mitochondrial diseases but also raises significant ethical issues.

The measure was passed in the House of Commons, 382 to 128, Speaker John Bercow said.

A further vote must be held in the UK's upper house, the House of Lords, before the measure can become law.

Passage of the law is opposed by Catholic and Anglican church leaders, in part because the process involves the destruction of an embryo.

One in 6,500 babies in the United Kingdom are thought to develop a serious mitochondrial disorder, which can lead to health issues such as heart and liver disease, respiratory problems, blindness and muscular dystrophy.

Problems with mitochondria, the "powerhouse" cells of the body, are inherited from the mother, so the proposed IVF treatment would mean an affected woman could have a baby without passing on mitochondrial disease.

But the cutting-edge IVF technique, which involves transferring nuclear genetic material from a mother's egg or embryo into a donor egg or embryo that's had its nuclear DNA removed, raises ethical questions.

The new embryo will contain nuclear DNA from the intended father and mother, as well as healthy mitochondrial DNA from the donor embryo -- effectively creating a "three-parent" baby.

The amount of donor DNA in the mitochondria will, however, be much less than the parental DNA in the nucleus, which determines the baby's characteristics.

 

Called an ethical watershed

 

The Church of England's national adviser on medical issues, the Rev. Dr. Brendan McCarthy, described the step as representing an ethical watershed and said more research and wider debate were needed.

"We accept in certain circumstances that embryo research is permissible as long as it is undertaken to alleviate human suffering and embryos are treated with respect. We have great sympathy for families affected by mitochondrial disease and are not opposed in principle to mitochondrial replacement," he said.

"Our view, however, remains that we believe that the law should not be changed until there has been further scientific study and informed debate into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondrial replacement therapy."

Bishop John Sherrington, in a statement posted online by the Catholic Church in England and Wales, urged lawmakers not to rush into taking such a serious step.

"It seems extraordinary that a licence should be sought for a radical new technique affecting future generations without first conducting a clinical trial," he said. "There are also serious ethical objections to this procedure which involves the destruction of human embryos as part of the process."

The California-based Center for Genetics and Society, in an open letter to UK lawmakers last month, said that although the proposed goal was noble, "the techniques will in fact put women and children at risk for severe complications, divert resources from promising alternatives and treatments, and set a policy precedent that experimentation on future generations is an acceptable biomedical/fertility development."

 

Incurable diseases

 

A team at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research, led by professor Doug Turnbull and based at Newcastle University in northern England, has been leading the research into the pioneering IVF technique.

The center points out that mitochondrial diseases cannot be cured and that in many families, several people are affected.

A Wellcome Trust fact sheet states that "nuclear DNA is not altered, and so mitochondrial donation will not affect the child's appearance, personality or any other features that make a person unique -- it will simply allow the mitochondria to function normally and the child to be free of mitochondrial DNA disease.

"The healthy mitochondria will also be passed on to any children of women born using the technique."

According to the latest estimates from the research team, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, almost 2,500 women of childbearing age in the UK are at risk of transmitting mitochondrial disease to their children, while in the United States, the number is more than 12,400.

This equates to an average of 152 births per year in the UK, and 778 births per year in the United States, the team said. 

In a Newcastle University news release, Turnbull said his team's findings had considerable implications for other countries considering the technique. Allowing it would give "women who carry these mutations greater reproductive choice," he said.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: laws, ethical, parents, birth, lawmakers, 3 parent babies, DNA, embryo, health issues, IVF, health, healthcare, disease, babies

Laughing Gas Now Becoming Popular Option for Women Giving Birth

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jan 26, 2015 @ 12:51 PM

By AVIANNE TAN

ht midwife nitrous oxide demonstration jc 150122 16x9 992 resized 600

A Minneapolis mom who wanted a natural birth was more than 13 hours into labor when she felt she wasn't going to make it without something to take the edge off the pain. But rather than asking for an epidural or narcotics, she begged for laughing gas.

"It immediately took my fear away and helped calm me down, though I could still feel the pain," Megan Goodoien, who gave birth at the Minnesota Birthing Center this month, told ABC News today. "I didn't laugh because the labor was so intense, but I everything suddenly felt doable just when I thought I couldn't make it anymore. It's definitely a mental thing."

Though nitrous oxide has long been used in European countries and Canada, the gas is now making a resurgence in the U.S., according to medical experts.

The gas, once popular in the U.S., was sidelined after the advent of the epidural in the 1930's, midwife Kerry Dixon told ABC News, noting she believes epidurals took over because they were more profitable. Dixon did not treat Goodoien but works at the Minnesota Birthing Center.

"The average cost for a woman opting for nitrous oxide is less than a $100, while an epidural can run up to $3,000 because of extra anesthesia fees," Dixon said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved new nitrous oxide equipment for delivery room use in 2011, which could also explain the resurgence, Dixon told ABC News.

"Maybe 10 years ago, less than five or 10 hospitals used it [for women in labor]," Dr. William Camann, director of obstetric anesthetics at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told ABC News. "Now, probably several hundred. It’s really exploded. Many more hospitals are expressing interest."

He added the gas popular in dentists' offices has an "extraordinary safety record" in delivery rooms outside the U.S. But more studies are needed to confirm its safety, other doctors say.

Laughing gas works differently than an epidural or narcotic in that it targets pain more on a mental level than physical, experts said.

"It's a relatively mild pain reliever that causes immediate feelings of relaxation and helps relieve anxiety," Camman said. "It makes you better able to cope with whatever pain you’re having."

But gas can also change awareness, said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a senior medical contributor for ABC News and practicing OB/GYN.

"In delivering over 1,500 babies, I had never used it nor has anyone asked for [nitrous oxide]," Ashton told ABC News. "[M]ost moms want to be totally aware when they are in labor."

Mothers who have opted for nitrous oxide like that it's self-administered by the patient, who has total control over if and when it's used.

A Nashville mother said she opted for the gas during labor only after she found herself too tense to push.

"I instantly felt relaxed," Shauna Zurawski told ABC News. "Before, I was so tense. I was fighting against the contractions, which definitely wasn't good. But after the laughing gas, my body was able to do what it was supposed to. It was so neat."

Both Goodoien and Zurawski said they put a nitrous oxide machine's mouthpiece over their mouth and nose and inhaled about 30 seconds before their next contraction to get the maximum effect.

Another advantage is that the chemical gets out of your system shortly after stopping inhalation.

"With my first child, I had an epidural, I was numb for so long after the delivery and it took a while to get back to normal," Zurawski said. "But with the nitrous oxide, I was walking around and taking pictures almost right after."

Both Goodoien and Zurawski said they didn't experience any adverse side effects.

Nitrous oxide's possible side effects are usually just minor nuisances such as nausea, dizziness or drowsiness, medical experts told ABC News.

Patients can also choose to stop or get an epidural at any time if they find they don't want the laughing gas.

It's still early to tell how popular this new option will get, but in countries like New Zealand, about 70 percent of women in labor choose to use laughing gas, Dixon said.

"When I was working in New Zealand, I told one of my patients, [laughing gas] wasn't really used in the U.S. and you know what she said?" Dixon asked. "'I thought they have everything in America!'"

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

Topics: physician, women, birth, laughing gas, nitrous oxide, pregnant, nurse, nurses, doctors, hospital

Delayed cord clamping results in better immediate newborn outcomes

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Dec 17, 2014 @ 11:35 AM

mother and newborn resized 600

At birth, a newborn baby is still attached to its mother through the umbilical cord, which is either cut very early - within the first 60 seconds - or later, with some women opting to wait until after the cord has stopped pulsating. Though the right timing for cutting the cord - also referred to as clamping - is widely debated, a new study suggests delaying cord clamping by 2 minutes results in better development for the newborn during the first days of life.

What do you think about it? Do you think the 2 minutes makes a difference? Perhaps you can share a personal and/or professional experience about this.

The research, carried out by scientists from the University of Granada and the San Cecilio Clinical Hospital in Spain, is published in the journal Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the reason that cord clamping timing is so controversial is that a previous series of studies into blood volume changes after birth concluded that in healthy term infants, more than 90% of blood volume was attained within the first few breaths he or she took after birth.

As a result of these findings, as well as a lack of other recommendations regarding optimal timing, the amount of time between birth and umbilical cord clamping was widely shortened; in most cases, cord clamping occurs within 15-20 seconds after birth.

However, before these studies, in the mid-1950s, cord clamping within 1 minute of birth was defined as "early clamping," and "late clamping" was defined as more than 5 minutes after birth. And the ACOG have stated that "the ideal timing for umbilical cord clamping has yet to be established."

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) advocate for late cord clamping (between 1-3 minutes after birth), as it "allows blood flow between the placenta and neonate to continue, which may improve iron status in the infant for up to 6 months after birth."

Waiting 2 minutes increased antioxidant capacity

To provide further evidence in the debate of early versus late cord clamping, the researchers from this latest study, led by Prof. Julio José Ochoa Herrera of the University of Granada, assessed newborn outcomes for infants born to 64 healthy pregnant women to determine the impact of clamping timing on oxidative stress and the inflammatory signal produced during delivery.

All of these women had a normal pregnancy and spontaneous vaginal delivery. However, half of the women's newborns had their umbilical cord cut 10 seconds after delivery and half had it cut after 2 minutes.

Results revealed beneficial effects of late cord clamping; there was an increase in antioxidant capacity and moderation of inflammatory effects in the newborns.

Commenting further, Prof. Ochoa says:


"Our study demonstrates that late clamping of the umbilical cord has a beneficial effect upon the antioxidant capacity and reduces the inflammatory signal induced during labor, which could improve the development of the newborn during his or her first days of life."

He adds that umbilical cord clamping is one of the most frequent surgical interventions practiced in humans, with proof of the practice dating back centuries. 

Early clamping 'not advised unless newborn needs resuscitation'

With evidence of benefits for delayed cord clamping, however, why are most newborns separated from the placenta within 15-20 seconds after birth? According to the ACOG, there are concerns over universally adopting delayed clamping because it could "jeopardize timely resuscitation efforts, if needed, especially in preterm infants."

"However," the organization states, "because the placenta continues to perform gas exchange after delivery, sick and preterm infants are likely to benefit most from additional blood volume derived from a delay in umbilical cord clamping."

There are also other concerns regarding delayed cord clamping, including an increased potential for "excessive placental transfusion, which can lead to neonatal polycythemia" - an abnormally high level of red blood cells. This is especially of concern in the presence of risk factors including maternal diabetes, intrauterine grown restriction and high altitude.

Another concern stated by the ACOG is that delayed umbilical cord clamping "may be technically difficult in some circumstances."

Still, the WHO say late cord clamping is recommended for all births, and the improved iron status associated with it "may be particularly relevant for infants living in low-resource settings with reduced access to iron-rich foods."

The organization clearly states that early cord clamping - less than 1 minute after birth - is not advised unless the newborn is asphyxiated and needs to be moved for resuscitation.

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Topics: studies, WHO, birth, health, healthcare, nurses, medicine, physicians, hospitals, newborns, babies, cord clamping, umbilical cord, AAP

Nearly 1 in 3 U.S. Babies Delivered by C-Section, Study Finds

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Oct 24, 2014 @ 02:19 PM

By Robert Preidt

pregnancy784Cesarean delivery was the most common inpatient surgery in the United States in 2011 and was used in nearly one-third of all deliveries, research shows.

The new study found that 1.3 million babies were delivered by cesarean section in 2011. The findings also revealed wide variations in C-section rates at hospitals across the United States, but the reasons for such differences are unclear.

"We found that the variability in hospital cesarean rates was not driven by differences in maternal diagnoses or pregnancy complexity. This means there was significantly higher variation in hospital rates than would be expected based on women's health conditions," lead author Katy Kozhimannil, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, said in a university news release.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 1,300 hospitals in 46 states. They found that the overall rate of C-section was about 33 percent. Between hospitals, however, that rate ranged between 19 and 48 percent, according to the study.

For women who'd never previously had a C-section, the overall C-section rate was 22 percent. Depending on the hospital, that rate ranged between 11 percent and 36 percent, the researchers said.

C-section rates ranged from 8 percent to 32 percent among lower-risk women and from 56 percent to 92 percent among higher-risk women, according to the study published Oct. 21 in the journal PLoS Medicine.

The findings highlight the roles that hospitals' policies, practices and culture may have in influencing C-section rates, the study authors concluded.

"Women deserve evidence-based, consistent, high-quality maternity care, regardless of the hospital where they give birth, and these results indicate that we have a long way to go toward reaching this goal in the U.S.," Kozhimannil said in the news release.

Source: www.nlm.nih.gov

Topics: studies, delivery, birth, c-section, cesarean, women's health, healthcare, pregnancy, health care, hospitals

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