Weekly health rail, with items on a baby's sleep patterns, tips on winterizing your workout, and how the Internet boosts seniors' brains.
Most parents know good rest is as vital as good nutrition for the health of their newborns -- even if they can only dream about getting a good night's sleep themselves.
Women's health nurse practitioner and author Barbara Dehn offers a few tips to help mothers get through the restless newborn nights and ease into a better bedtime routine.
"On average, an infant can sleep a total of 16 to 18 hours over the course of a 24-hour period," Dehn says. "During this time, a baby's body is growing and developing at rapid speed, while adjusting to a natural sleep cycle. Parents can help support their baby's natural sleep patterns with a few simple changes to their routine."
Dehn suggests you support your baby's natural sleep patterns with these few tips:
"One of the first things I always tell new moms is to lose the guilt," she says.
It's inevitable for new parents to feel nervous, unsure and often guilty when caring for their infant - especially when it comes to sleep. Moms and dads should go with their gut feeling on all fronts and follow their infant's lead. If your newborn tends to fall asleep in his swing or rocker, go with it. Not allowing yourself to feel guilty during the first few months will only help your baby acclimate to a schedule. Typically, confidence and a bit of relaxation will follow.
Establish a feeding schedule
Moms can maintain their baby's natural sleep patterns and overall health with a proper feeding schedule. By establishing both day and night feeding routines that follow your infant's natural hunger cues, you are helping your baby receive the nourishment that will support growth and development.
Turn the TV off
"I'm often telling new moms to turn off the TV," Dehn says.
Feeding time is often a good opportunity for mom to kick up her feet and unwind. Use this time to connect with your baby and avoid your regular relaxation routine like flipping on the TV. The light and noise can distract your newborn and interrupt his or her eating.
Be flexible with baths
Bath time does not always need to take place before bedtime. Some infants are extremely agitated from a bath, regardless of the calming scents, soft sounds and soothing touch you use. If you notice your baby is relaxed and calm without a bath before bedtime, go with it.
Changing the bath-time routine can make the overall experience more enjoyable for both mom and baby. This can also help your newborn develop daytime and nighttime routines.
Keep safety top of mind. As a new parent, keeping your newborn safe and healthy is extremely important. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts recommend that caregivers place babies on their backs to sleep -- for naps and at nights. Placing an infant on his back to sleep is the most important step to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in a natural and effective way.
New study: Doctors show less respect for obese patients
A new study suggests doctors have less respect for their obese patients than they do for patients of normal weight.
In a group of 238 patients, each 10-unit increase in body mass index was associated with a 14 percent higher prevalence of low patient respect. A person whose BMI is 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight; a BMI over 30 is considered obese.
Previous studies have shown that when physicians respect their patients, patients get more information from their doctors. Some patients who don’t feel respected may avoid the health care system altogether, surveys and focus groups have shown.
Researchers say the study shows physicians need to be educated that obesity bias and discrimination exist.
-- Johns Hopkins
Did You Know?
More than half the hospitalizations from H1N1 flu reported by 27 states from Sept. 1 to Oct. 10th were people age 24 and younger. – flu.gov
Health Tip: Winterize your workout
As the days get shorter and we lose the need for tanks, shorts and bikinis, workout motivation can run cold. Prepare for winter workouts with these tips:
- Find a buddy: Trekking through the snow to the gym won’t be so bad if you have a friend to do it with. Arrange for a carpool to pick you up at certain times each day, and share stories while walking or running.
- Take it outside before bringing it inside: The temps may have plummeted, but the fresh air and sunshine are still good for you. Just remember to bundle up with light layers.
- Try something new: Maybe you’ve always wanted to try the Zumba class or felt like hiring a personal trainer. Winter months are the perfect time to try a new activity to keep you motivated and moving.
- Change your routine: Mix things up by adding free weights or spending more time on the elliptical cross-trainer.
-- Life Fitness, www.lifefitness.com
Number to Know: 2.6 hours
The median time patients spend in the emergency department, according to National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2006 Emergency Department Summary.
Children’s Health: New evidence of importance of car seats
A new study offers updated evidence that children ages 4 to 8 who are restrained in the rear seat of a car in a belt-positioning booster seat are 45 percent less likely to be injured in a crash compared with children using a seat belt alone.
The study at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Injury Research and Prevention examined more than 7,000 children ages 4 to 8 involved in real-world crashes between 1998 and 2007.
Researchers attribute the sharp increase in booster seat use among older children, in part, to many states passing upgrades to their child restraint laws that require booster seats for children older than age 4.
-- The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Senior Health: Internet use boosts the brain
UCLA scientists have found that middle-aged and older adults with little Internet experience were able to trigger key centers in the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning after just one week of surfing the Web.
The findings suggest that Internet training can stimulate neural activation patterns and could potentially enhance brain function and cognition in older adults.
As the brain ages, a number of structural and functional changes occur, including atrophy, reductions in cell activity and increases in deposits of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, which can impact cognitive function.
GateHouse News Service