Friday, April 30, 2010

A shot in the dark


Fears are mounting over flu vaccinations for young children


With the recent reports of young children suffering adverse reactions after receiving the seasonal flu shot, I thought I’d do a bit of research into what’s really going on.
When it appears “vaccinations have gone wrong” it adds fuel to the fire of anti-vaccinators, and puts fear in the hearts of parents.
At the time of writing this column, 251 children in the past month in Western Australia had fevers after getting the seasonal flu vaccine. At least 55 were taken to hospital suffering fits, fevers and vomiting. This week we also learned that a two-year-old girl died in Brisbane the day after she, and her twin sister, had the flu shot in early April. So far this year in Queensland 15 children aged five and under have experienced adverse reactions to the vaccine. And a child in Darwin has been admitted to hospital with fever and convulsions following vaccination. There have been no similar reported cases in other states.
On April 23, a national vaccination ban was enforced for children under five. Health authorities across the country are on alert. Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jim Bishop, has ordered a review of hospital records to understand and determine the scope of the problem.
The maker of the vaccine, CSL, has stopped distributing children’s doses, and samples from WA are being tested for abnormalities.
It is too early to know whether the batch was contaminated or a virus was already circulating which, when combined with the vaccination, resulted in convulsions.
So what exactly is in this year’s seasonal flu vaccine?

Friday, April 23, 2010

When the baby blues won't go away


If you don’t feel the way you expected to after having a baby, you could be showing signs of postnatal depression

Imagine being told at your 20 week ultrasound that you are expecting a baby boy.
Then imagine that after giving birth you are told instead that you have a girl.
Baby is healthy, you’re healthy, so who cares if they got it wrong.
But for one mother, this “change of plan” sent her into a very different mindspace.
She believes that it was the trigger for her postnatal depression.
She said that she knew something was seriously wrong when she was sitting by an open fireplace with her baby.
Something in her said: “What if I put the baby in the fire?”
A frightening scenario that thankfully never became reality because her husband then took her to a doctor for help. Postnatal depression (PND) affects almost 16 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men in Australia and it is caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tame the temper within your child


Anger management needs to start from an early age, and the best role model is you
I’ll be the first to admit that since having a child, I’ve sometimes turned into the “angry mummy”.
When you’re faced with one parenting challenge after the next, and a good dose of sleep deprivation, it’s hardly surprising that many mothers are feeling the pressure and occasionally crack.
I always feel guilt if my daughter sees me with my cranky face on, and worry about how it will affect her upbringing.
But just as children need to learn to share their toys, show compassion for others, kindness and good manners, it’s also important that they learn how to control their emotions including the bad ones.
As I type, my daughter is throwing a tantrum. Only a few minutes ago, she was playing happily with her Barbie dolls, but is now screaming at them because, she says: “I can’t get her shoes on.”
These little fits of rage are common these days as she has become quite independent yet faces daily frustrations when she cannot do everything she wants to do.
Anger is a natural emotion, but problems occur when anger leads to inappropriate actions or behaviour.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Wear your baby the right way


For centuries parents have carried their babies in a sling, but recent infant deaths has led parents to question this beneficial parenting tool
You may have seen in the news lately about a recall of millions of baby slings around the world, including around 8000 in Australia.
US manufacturer Infantino advised parents to stop using its SlingRider and Wendy Bellissimo slings “for infants younger than four months of age due to risk of suffocation”.
Tragically, these slings were linked to the deaths of three infants last year.
This recall follows a warning by health and safety authorities that all baby slings pose a safety risk if used incorrectly.
However, baby wearing is not a new trend made popular by celebrities.
Women have been carrying their babies for centuries, and the influx of sling designs has led to confusion among parents.
When done properly, carrying a baby in a soft baby carrier can be safer than carrying a baby in your arms.
“Contrary to what we have been taught to believe, research shows that babies who are held and carried all the time and get their need for touch well-met in their first year, do not become clingy and overly dependent,” says parent educator Pam Leo.
The benefits of baby wearing are extensive.
Research indicates that babies held in a sling cry 43 per cent less durin the day and 51 per cent less at night.
Owner of Babes in Arms, Anita Lincoln-Lomax, says through the presence of their mother’s rhythms, babies feel safe and secure.
“During the early stage of life, the familiarity of a mother’s breathing, warmth and heartbeat is comforting and calming for the newborn,” she says.
“Through holding a baby close by way of a sling or baby carrier, the transition from womb to outside world is far more gentle.”
As well as the emotional benefits for the baby, there are also practical benefits for the parent.