Obama Administration and Text4Baby join forces to connect pregnant women and children to health coverage and information


The Centers for Medicaid & Medicaid Services CMS announced today that it will partner with Text4Baby, a free national health texting service, to promote enrollment in both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program CHIP and provide pregnant women and new mothers free text messages on important health care issues.

The announcement is part of activities marking the anniversaries of both the signing of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 CHIPRA and the launch of Text4Baby, whose partners include Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, Voxiva, which provides the mobile health platforms, and a host of wireless carriers.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Available at: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/02/20120228c.html

Untreated prenatal maternal depression and the potential risks to offspring: a review


Research exploring the effects of prenatal maternal depression on a developing fetus and child is underrepresented in the literature. Empirical papers have typically focused on the effects of postpartum depression (after birth) instead of prepartum depression (before birth). Disparate empirical findings have produced ongoing debate regarding the effects of prenatal depression on a developing fetus and later in infancy and early childhood. Even more controversial is determining the role of antidepressant medication on offspring outcomes and whether research that does not include the proper control population (e.g., unmedicated depressed participants) can adequately address questions about risks and benefits of treatment during pregnancy. The current review systematically summarizes the literature focusing on unmedicated prenatal depression and offspring outcome and concludes that prepartum depression is highly prevalent, is associated with negative outcomes in offspring, and remains understudied.

Source: Archives of Women’s Mental Health, Volume 15, Number 1 – SpringerLink.

Available at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/h62gq3p373535187/

Foundations and First Impressions: The Initial Home Visit

February 29 from 2:00 – 3:30pm EST

Visiting a family in their home helps staff learn about, celebrate and support the people who are most important to the infant, toddler or baby-on-the-way. These visits also foster important staff-family relationships that nurture growth and positive outcomes. But families and staff may be unsure of what to expect in an initial home visit. In this audioconference, faculty will address the opportunities and potential challenges of the first home visit a staff member makes with a family, and offer strategies to help staff use that visit as a foundation for future services and support. Register by February 24, 2012.

Source: Early Head Start National Resource Center

Available at: http://www.ehsnrc.org/Activities/AudioConferences.htm

Strong Start Initiative Improving Maternal and Infant Health

On February 8, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the Strong Start initiative to reduce preterm births and improve outcomes for newborns and pregnant women.  This initiative brings together the activities of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Administration on Children and Families (ACF), Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of Health with the efforts of   outside groups devoted to the health of mothers and newborns including the March of Dimes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine, the American College of Nurse Midwives, Childbirth Connections, Leapfrog Group, the National Priorities Partners, convened by the National Quality Forum, and others.

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

Available at: http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/press/factsheet.asp?Counter=4264

Women with diabetes warned to take precautions when having a baby


Women who have diabetes are almost four times more likely to have a baby with a birth defect, research reveals.

One out of 13 mothers-to-be with either Type 1 or Type 2 of the disease on giving birth have a child with a major congenital abnormality as a direct result of their condition. Overall for such women, the risk of having a child with a birth defect of whatever kind is 7%, according to the journal Diabetologia. The risk of having a baby who has a birth defect is 2% in females without diabetes.

Researchers led by Ruth Bell from Newcastle University reached their conclusions after studying 401,149 single-baby pregnancies between 1996 and 2008 in the north of England, 1,677 of them pregnancies of diabetics.

Source: The Guardian

Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/feb/06/women-diabetes-pregnancy-childbirth

Parental Depression Resources – Head Start

Maternal depression affects millions of families in communities nationwide. As a response to this urgent public health problem, Project LAUNCH – Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health – has compiled a list of resources for the prevention and early intervention of parental depression. Head Start and Early Head Start health services, family services, and education staff are encouraged to explore this list to find appropriate resources on depression to share with families and partners.

Source: Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center

Available at: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/health/Mental%20Health/Resources%20&%20Support%20for%20Families/Parental%20Depression/ParentalDepressi.htm;a2FyaW5k

Mom-to-Be’s Mental State May Affect Child’s Development


A fetus is sensitive to, and can be affected by, the expectant mother’s mental state, a new study suggests.

University of California, Irvine, researchers recruited pregnant women and tested them for depression before and after they gave birth. The women’s babies were tested after birth to assess how well they were developing.

Consistency in the mother’s mental state appeared to be important to a baby’s well-being. Development was best in babies with mothers who were either depression-free or had depression before and after giving birth.

Source: US News and World Report

Available at: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2011/11/17/mom-to-bes-mental-state-may-affect-childs-development

Concerns Linger As New Down Syndrome Test Hits Market


In a move that’s been anticipated for years, a prenatal blood test to detect Down syndrome became available Monday in 20 major cities, the company behind the screening tool said.

The test, developed by California-based Sequenom, accurately identified Trisomy 21 — the most common form of Down syndrome — in 98.6 percent of cases, according to a study published Monday in the journal Genetics in Medicine. The research indicates that there is a false-positive rate of 0.2 percent.

Source: Disability Scoop

Available at: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2011/10/18/concerns-down-syndrome-test/14255/

Is It Folly to Take Folic Acid?


For mothers-to-be, doctors worldwide advise taking a folic acid supplement. That’s because pregnant women with a deficiency of this vitamin have an increased chance of giving birth to a baby with serious birth defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Yet a new mouse study shows that folic acid supplementation can itself sometimes increase the risk of birth defects or even cause the death of embryos. Experts caution, however, that the unexpected rodent results are too preliminary to require an immediate change in medical practices until more is known about how the vitamin influences development.

Source: ScienceNOW

Available at: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/09/questioning-folic-acids-fetal-be.html?ref=hp#.TnOYtJKP0Vs.email