Newborn screening: racing against time

Grant will fund research in speeding up screening results for tiniest patients

newborn screeningNewborn screening is a complicated system in a race against time. And if we lose the race, children can die from these disorders. If we can find affordable ways to make the system of newborn screening run the race faster, we can help save lives. With the help of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and experts across the University in health services, engineering and health policy, my research team is working to find a way to help us run a faster race.

What is newborn screening? Well, shortly after birth, every baby in the US is tested for a variety of inherited diseases. If babies who have these diseases are not found and started on treatment, they can become seriously ill, and, in some cases, die. This process of testing and treating children at birth for inherited diseases is called newborn screening. It is a 50 year-old public health program that is conducted in every state across the US. Continue reading

5 things that may surprise you about Certified Nurse-Midwives

vvwh blog - midwife photoI’ve been a midwife for 10 years, and I love my job everyday – even when it’s exhausting and difficult. It’s an amazing experience to work together with women and their families through the transformative experience of welcoming a new family member and stepping into motherhood.

Midwives have been providing health care to women for centuries, but a lot has changed since the early days of midwifery. Today, certified nurse midwives are an important part of the healthcare delivery system, with rigorous certification standards. In fact, in 2012, midwives delivered 11.8% of all vaginal births in the U.S., and that number is on the rise!

Still, many misperceptions about midwifery exist. In honor of National Midwifery Week, which runs from Oct. 5 to 11, here are five things you may not know about certified nurse-midwives.  Continue reading

Saving My Babies: Our twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome story

Felix and Jack TheilWhen I first learned that I was pregnant with identical twins, I was six weeks into the pregnancy. My husband and I were informed shortly afterwards about the potential risks of developing twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). Our doctor told us approximately 10 to 15 percent of twins who share the same placenta develop TTTS. The risk was always there in the back of our minds, but we didn’t dwell on what might happen.

We were referred to the University of Michigan Maternal Fetal Medicine team for high-risk pregnancies. I just figured we were going to receive top-notch prenatal care! Then, at my 16-week check up, the doctor saw signs that TTTS may be developing and immediately sent us for a more in-depth ultrasound.

Continue reading

Baby’s here, and so are the “Baby Blues”

what moms should know about the baby bluesHaving a baby is one of the most joyous occasions of one’s life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t also come with emotional ups and downs. More than half of all new moms will experience postpartum “blues” about three to four days after delivery. Baby blues are caused by sleep deprivation and hormone fluctuations and typically pass in about one to two weeks.

To help cope with the baby blues, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Eating well helps, as does getting sleep. Try to sleep when the baby does. Limit well-meaning visitors who may be more of a burden than help for the first several weeks. If you had a c-section, realize that your baby blues may be exacerbated by the stress hormones released while your surgical site heals.

For the first few weeks after baby is born, focus on the fundamentals — eating well and sleeping (for both you and the baby). Spend time bonding with your baby and don’t worry if the house gets dirty or you haven’t showered for a day or two. By the time the baby is six weeks old, life will settle down a bit, and it will settle down even more so by the time he or she is four months old. That’s a relatively short time period to just focus on the fundamentals of caring for yourself and your baby.

Some women have more than the baby blues, they have post-partum depression. Continue reading

Immunizing mom (and baby): Vaccines while pregnant

Maternal immunicationsPregnant women want to do everything they can to help their baby be healthy. One of the best things you can do is get your recommended vaccines while pregnant. Vaccinations help protect pregnant women from illnesses like the flu and they help support the immune system of their unborn children.

Protect Mom

Pregnancy changes your immune system. It makes you more likely to get some illnesses and more likely to have severe symptoms. Having the flu during pregnancy can cause problems for your pregnancy, including affecting the growth of the baby, causing fetal distress, leading to an early delivery, and increasing the chance of a cesarean section. Anyone who is pregnant during flu season should get a flu shot as soon as they are available. Because we do not recommend live vaccines in pregnant women, we only use the flu shot, not the nasal flu mist.

Continue reading

The 2014 flu shot: What’s new and why get it now

vaccine imageNow is a great time to roll up your sleeve because the flu vaccine takes two weeks to kick in, says Elizabeth Jones, M.D., a family physician at the University of Michigan Health System’s Livonia Health Center. Everyone 6 months of age and older is encouraged to get their yearly flu vaccine, ideally in the fall.

More must-know flu season information

Needle-free season for kids. New this year, the nasal spray vaccine has become the preferred flu vaccine for healthy children ages 2-8. Studies suggest it may work better than a flu shot in younger children. But don’t delay getting vaccinated to find the nasal spray vaccine, Jones says.

A boost for seniors. Adults age 65 and older, there’s an alternative for you: a high-dose vaccine that new research shows is 24 percent more effective at preventing flu. As we age our immune system Continue reading