Saturday, March 24, 2012

Let fate decide

Choosing the sex of your baby stirs up many ethical questions
Imagine you are about to have your third child. You’ve already got two daughters, and are really hoping for a son.
Would you consider finding out the sex of your child in the early weeks so that you could abort the pregnancy if the fetus is another girl?
While the majority of Australians say no, for some families the answer is yes.
Sex selection is the attempt to control the sex of your children to achieve a desired gender.
It can be accomplished in several ways, both pre- and post-implantation of an embryo, and it is often called “family balancing”.
While there are a number of unproved methods of gender selection, such as sperm sorting and the timing of intercourse, the most common method is preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in which embryos are created outside the womb and can then be tested for genetic disorders and gender. This is the only method which has 100 per cent accuracy.
In Australia, it is illegal to use this technology for sex selection purposes other than for medical reasons. 
The use of PGD in this country is allowed only in cases where parents suffer serious genetic diseases that can be passed to children of one gender.
However, this means that dozens of Australians travel to Thailand and the US each year and spend thousands of dollars to choose the sex of their children.
A study undertaken in 2010 by the University of Melbourne found that 69 per cent of people surveyed disapproved the use of IVF for sex selection, with the disapproval rate increasing to 80 per cent for sex-selective abortions.
Headed by Dr Rebecca Kippen, the study analysed responses from more than 2500 people.
“Opposition to these technologies was grounded in three major concerns: the potential for distorted sex ratios; that sex selection can be an expression of gender bias; and a concern about ‘designer infants’ being created, when parents should be happy with a healthy baby,” she said.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ticking clock

When is the right age to have a baby?
A friend of mine turned 43 this week and her words to me that day have inspired this week’s column.
She said: “I don’t feel 43 because my kids make me feel young. I feel as young as any other mother who has young kids.”
I’m several years younger than her, but we both felt the same: kids do make you feel young.
But this made me wonder, what is the right age to have children?
Statistically for most women it is between the ages of 25 to 34.
Surveys around the world have shown that most women in their mid to late 20s feel like they are ready to take on a new role as they are more likely to have established themselves in their career and financially.
This completely rules out the ticking biological clock which is supposed to start ringing in the teenage years when we are the most fertile and less likely to miscarriage.
But the clock doesn’t stop ringing until we conceive, so for many women, hitting the snooze button until we are financially comfortable with a career is the preferred option.
What we do know about our bodies tells us a lot about our biological clocks.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Reason to quit

If you’re struggling to quit smoking, take a look at your kids and consider their health and wellbeing
We all know that smoking kills, but there’s a lot you probably don’t know about what smoking does to children.
First of all, smoking while pregnant presents huge risks to both the mother and the unborn baby.
There’s an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, placental complications such as placenta previa, placental abruption, stillbirth, miscarriage and severe bleeding.
Smoking slows down fetal growth, nearly doubles a woman’s risk of having a baby with low birth weight, increases the risk of premature birth, birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate.
Even after your baby is born, there is an increased risk of SIDS, learning disabilities, asthma, ear infections, tonsillitis, respiratory illnesses and behavioural problems.
Nursing mothers who smoke pass harmful chemicals through their breastmilk to their babies and on rare occasions cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke which in itself contains more than 4000 chemicals.
Since children are still physically developing, they have higher breathing rates than adults and have little control over their indoor environments.
Children exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke run the greatest risk of experiencing damaging health effects.
Exposure to secondhand smoke decreases lung efficiency and impairs lung function, increases the severity of asthma, aggravates sinusitis, rhinitis, cystic fibrosis and chronic respiratory problems. 
Even more shocking is the research that found nicotine in the blood system and urine of children whose parents smoke.
As well as the physical health effects smoking can have on children, there are also enormous psychological effects at work.

Taming toddler tastebuds

How you can shape your child’s eating habits right from their first mouthful
This week my eldest child turned six years old and I felt a little nostalgic, but also very proud.
I felt like I had reached another milestone – that we had survived the baby and toddler years, and now have an independent child under our roof.
Sure, I’ve still got a very long way to go in parenting years, especially when I look at my confident and happy six-year-old and then to my very dependent and clingy toddler.
One of the big differences I see between them is at the dinner table. 
I’ve learned a lot about what to feed my eldest daughter, but I’m still somewhat figuring out the little one who loves nothing more than to scream black and blue for a banana but as soon as it is peeled, wants nothing to do with it.
So, if you have a toddler or you are just starting solids with your little one, here’s some great tips I have found to help you along the way.
First of all, if your child isn’t eating, you have to determine if there are any other reasons why.
Have they been ill, tired, attention-seeking or teething? Even a runny nose picked up at playgroup can affect their eating.
There are many factors that can be an influence, including their growth pattern. Children’s needs vary depending on their growth rate and level of physical activity.
Three things to remember are that children will eat when they are hungry, no healthy child has ever starved to death from refusing food, and no single food is essential to a child’s diet – substitutes for refused food can be easily found.