Tag Archives: Babies

FOR MEN: The New Equality, Male Infertility

man and babyThe much maligned egg of a woman over 35. It’s been the target of criticism for so many years that most women can easily rattle off their chances of a having a down syndrome baby in relationship to their age. (1 in 2000 for a twenty-year-old, 1 in 100 for a forty-year-old.) But now the research lens is finally aimed at male fertility and viable sperm. Turns out, men need to consider their fertility window too.

In the last few decades there has been a huge increase in the numbers of older men fathering babies. In the 35-49 age group, in particular, there has been a 40% increase of new fathers. Delaying fatherhood to play the mating field may now have intergenerational consequences.

A US study,  published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Advancing age has differential effects on DNA change, chromatin integrity, gene mutations, and aneuplodies (chromosome abnormalities) in sperm” has shown that older men have higher chances of passing down genetic issues to their offspring. A French study backed up that finding, showing that infertility issues of men do indeed rise significantly after the age of 40.

Not only men who are waiting to have kids after the age of forty face fertility issues, but when they do successfully impregnate a woman, they have a higher chance of passing two specific gene disorders: schizophrenia and achondroplasia (commonly known as dwarfism.) The authors of the study,  Andrew Wyrobek from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Brenda Eskenazi from the University of California, School of Public Health, blamed the quality of a man’s sperm, which they say, quickly weakens after the age of 40.

Women who are holding out for an older, more successful man, might consider this. One study found that women, regardless of their age, who carry offspring of a man past forty. increase their risk of miscarriage.

Finally, one other US study gathered and examined ninety- seven samples of semen, all coming from men from the age range 22-80, who were not smokers. When looking over the samples, researchers found that the activeness and the movement of the sperm related with DNA fragmentation. The study concluded as well that not only do women have a biological clock, but so do men.

With research like this, suddenly the idea of being young enough to throw a ball with a child becomes less important than simply being young enough to father a healthy child.


FOR MOMS: Creating a Village From The Get Go

MDG : Maternal Health : group of women with babies sits outside a clinic in RwandaHumans are wired to bond. We don’t do well in isolation. Neither do new parents. Our hunter/gatherer ancestors had an instant village of people with a biological interest in a new baby — grannies, aunties, uncles, teenaged siblings, and parents. In fact, many anthropologists think that a preverbal infant’s need to decode this network of faces and voices was a big factor in the evolution of our intelligence.

However, with the mobility required for an efficient workforce in modern capitalism, most new parents live away from relatives. But the lack of a granny doesn’t mean you can’t create a village from the very beginning. It can help you and your baby. Isolation has been linked to postpartum depression in new mothers, and babies respond positively to consistent multiple care givers. (I used the word “consistent” on purpose. A revolving door of caregivers and strangers can create attachment problems and anxiety in small children.) Here are three ways that new or expectant mothers can begin to create a nurturing village:

1. Start before you give birth. Collect every email and phone number you can from that pregnancy yoga class, baby CPR training, or labor prep group. You’ll likely be giving birth within weeks of each other and will have an instant group to reach out to when you run into a new mother speed bump.

2. Go online. There are thousands of mommy bloggers and parenting websites (For education, my favorite is KidsInTheHouse.com) and plenty of them have chat groups and real world mom’s groups that meet right in your neighborhood. Don’t be shy. Reach out. I promise, there’s another new mother living very close to you who can help you carry your burden.

3. Create a mommy co-op. This is the single best way to bond with mom’s and find some time for yourself. Post notices at neighborhood playgrounds and on your online social networks and create a baby play group. A reasonable number would be five to eight parents. After, a few weeks, when everyone has gotten to know each other and the babies bond with the other mothers, have two moms leave for some free time each week. That’s your village creating free child care.

Here’s my video on the importance of a mommy village:

FOR PARENTS: The Dangers of Baby Sleep Overs

baby-standing-on-his-bed-and-cryingIn this age where marriage and parenthood are increasingly separated across the social classes, many American babies and toddlers spend at least one night a week sleeping at the home of a non-custodial parent.

While this may be convenient for fathers who want a relationship with their children and single mothers who need a break, new research on attachment shows that young children who sleep away from their primary caregiver have an insecure attachment style with their mothers.

Attachment is a critical aspect of personality development and mental health. Having a close, enduring, bond with at least one primary attachment figure creates a blue print for love that a child will carry into their adult romantic relationships. And the younger the child, the more susceptible they are to attachment injuries that could lead to anxiety, depression, and mistrust of relationships.

This new research from the University of Virginia and printed in the journal Marriage and Family Health, shines a light on the dangers of even single overnights. Sleeping away from a consistent, familiar environment and mom, can cause a baby or toddler to have feelings of insecurity and have an insecure attachment with their mother. It also opens up the debate about how family courts dole out child custody arrangements. In deference to fathers rights, if both unwed parents want to be involved in the lives of their child, courts are increasing dividing custody of younger and younger children between two homes. But this research demonstrates that babies and toddlers would be better off seeing their father during day time hours and returning to a consistent environment for the night time routine.

It is important for adults to put the psychological needs of children above the needs of parents. Sigh. Parenting isn’t ever convenient.

FOR PARENTS: You Can’t Fool A Baby!

9796156-mdInfants and toddles are little sponges, absorbing the interior worlds of the adults around them as their try to make sense of it all. In attempting to shelter small children from adult emotions, some parents try to hide their feelings and put on a happy face, even when their world feels out of control. Bad move.

As it turns out, babies have a sixth sense and see through faking adults very easily. As young as 18 months, babies know what feelings and reactions should go with which events. In fact trying to shield them from the truth, can confuse them rather than comfort them.

In a new study in Infancy: The Official Journal of the International Society on Infant Studies, researchers Sabrina Chiarella and Diane Poulin-Dubois were able to show that toddlers can tell when a person’s emotions make sense to a given situation. They accomplished this by hiring actors to create appropriate or misfired facial expressions in reaction to certain stimuli, say, a sad face in response to a new toy or a happy face in response to physical pain. By 18-months of age, the babies cleared showed confusion by checking back with the face often and not mirroring the emotion displayed.

The take away for parents? Don’t be afraid to show your true emotions, but do take the time to explain what’s going on to your child and always assure your child that everything is going to be okay. Babies can understand most of their home language by the age of ten months, even though they can’t talk themselves.

FOR PARENTS: Perfect Dads May Not Make Perfect Parents

New parenthood is stressful for both Moms and Dads. Life with a newborn consists of round-the-clock feedings and care, and is a lot like being in a Las Vegas casino. You lose awareness of night and day, your emotions vacillate between excitement and worry, and you can’t find the exit.

Now a new study shows that people who feel pressure to be perfect parents may actually undermine their own intentionsby adding a level of stress that can hurt their kids. And fathers in particular, if they are susceptible to a certain kind of pressure, do worse than mothers.

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