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Disney enters maternity wards

From Kristen Gerencher’s, Health Matters

As if there aren’t enough people coming in and out of your hospital room in the hours and days after you’ve just given birth, add one more from the corporate world this time. The New York Times has a story on how the Walt Disney Co. is sending representatives into more than 550 hospital maternity wards through May to hand-deliver a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a kind of Onesie, to new mothers in connection with a photo company that offers bedside pictures. In a bid to extend its brand and enter the lucrative newborn market, Disney is apparently asking new moms to sign up for email alerts from its new baby-product venture as well.

It’s hard to turn down free things, and some moms may like the bodysuits and appreciate the email offers that arrive after they sign up for the alerts. But there is something creepy about making such a sales pitch to customers who are first and foremost patients. They’re trying to heal from wounds sustained in childbirth and at the same time negotiate a constant stream of visits from relatives, nurses and a host of specialists that attend to them and their newborns at regular intervals. Allow me to state the obvious: They’re also learning to breastfeed in many cases — some for the first time — and that is often a sensitive time. Most new moms are sleep-deprived and yet filled with the adrenaline rush that comes from having a baby. In other words, they’re often too overwhelmed to be their own best advocates.

I only speak for myself, but if a Disney rep would have arrived shortly after my daughter’s birth, both Disney and the hospital would have gotten an earful: Disney for arriving uninvited and the hospital for failing to protect my privacy, not to mention my time. There are plenty of opportunities to grab new moms’ attention and discretionary income after they leave the hospital. Dropping by while they’re still being cocooned and when their babies’ umbilical cords are still freshly severed doesn’t sound like a winning strategy to

Babies just over a year old are able to understand words just like adults, find researchers.

Babies just over a year old are able to understand words just like adults, find researchers.

In a new study, specialized MRI and MEG imaging tests that look at the brain were used to see how babies respond to spoken words. Scientists from University of California, San Diego found they process words and not just sounds, much like adults, and in the same area of the brain as grown-ups.

Scientists used non-invasive MEG and MRI tests to view brain activity in 12 to 18 months old. MEG (magnetoencephalography) is a type of test that measures weak magnetic fields generated by electrical activity in the neurons of the brain. .

Co-leader of the study, Katherine E. Travis, of the Department of Neurosciences and the Multimodal Imaging Laboratory, all at UC San Diego explains, “Babies are using the same brain mechanisms as adults to access the meaning of words from what is thought to be a mental ‘database’ of meanings, a database which is continually being updated right into adulthood.” .

There have been several theories about how babies process language, one being that the brain evolves from infancy to adulthood, but begins with a primitive form of learning. Adults with frontotemporal lesions in the brain have difficulty processing language leading to speculation about language processing, but for infants, that part of the brain doesn’t seem critical. .

One theory is that the difference between adults and babies is that a different area of the brain engages in infancy for language development – specifically, the right hemisphere and inferior frontal regions that become less dominant as babies mature, but the theory lacks evidence. .

One way to observe how language is processed with the imaging techniques used by the scientists in the current study, which allowed the researchers to observe areas of the brain activated when a baby hears words. The scientists found out that babies understand the meaning of words, before they speak. .

The researchers exposed the babies to sounds, pictures and words in the study. Some of the words were paired with acoustic sounds with no associative meaning. In the second part of the study, words were spoken and either matched or mismatched to pictures to see if babies really do understand the meaning of words. .

Brain activity on the scans showed that babies knew the difference between words that did not match the pictures. The same brain response occurred in the babies as in adults, in the same left frontotemporal areas. The researchers confirmed the response was the same in adults shown pictures that did not match words. .

When the scientists showed pictures of a ball for instance, and spoke the word, the same area of the brain used by adults was activated, showing babies do understand language and that they can process words. .

Eric Halgren, PhD, professor of radiology in the School of Medicine says, “Our study shows that the neural machinery used by adults to understand words is already functional when words are first being learned. This basic process seems to embody the process whereby words are understood, as well as the context for learning new words.”

The findings show babies do understand words and process language just like adults. The scientists say their research results mean infants could be screened for language disabilities and autism at an early age. .

Pregnant Women Lie About Smoking

This article by By NICHOLAS BAKALAR of the NY Times

When pregnant women are asked if they smoke, almost a quarter of the smokers deny they have the habit. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted from 1999 to 2006, researchers writing online in The American Journal of Epidemiology report that 13 percent of 994 pregnant women, and almost 30 percent of 3,203 nonpregnant women of reproductive age, were active smokers. (Rates among these women, 20 to 44 years old, are higher than rates for the general population of women.)

Among pregnant smokers, 23 percent reported that they did not smoke, despite high blood levels of cotinine, a biological indicator of tobacco exposure, that showed they did. More than 9 percent of the nonpregnant smokers also lied about it.

The authors acknowledge that cotinine levels can be increased by secondhand smoke, and that the exact blood level of cotinine that indicates smoking in pregnant women is not known. But pregnant women metabolize cotinine faster than nonpregnant women, so their smoking rate may actually have been underestimated.

The lead author, Patricia M. Dietz, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the deceit probably stemmed from embarrassment. “Smoking has been stigmatized,” she said. “They feel reluctant to be chastised.” But concealing the addiction is not the answer, she said — quitting is. And, she added, “it’s never too late to quit.”

Teen Birthrate Hits Record Low

By Rob Stein, Washington Post Staff Writer

The rate at which U.S. women are having babies continued to fall between 2008 and 2009, federal officials reported Tuesday, pushing the teen birthrate to a record low and prompting a debate about whether the drop was caused by the recession, an increased focus on encouraging abstinence, more adolescents using birth control or a combination of those factors.

The birthrate among U.S. girls ages 15 to 19 fell from 41.5 to 39.1 births per 1,000 teens – a 6 percent drop to the lowest rate in the nearly 70 years the federal government has been collecting reliable data, according to a preliminary analysis of the latest statistics.

“The decline in teen births is really quite amazing,” said Brady E. Hamilton of the National Center for Health Statistics, who helped perform the analysis.

The decrease marked the second year in a row that the birthrate among teens fell, meaning it has dropped for 16 out of the past 18 years. The 8 percent two-year decline strengthens hopes that an alarming 5 percent increase over the preceding two years was an aberration.

“Just in time for the holidays, a steep decline in teen birth has been announced,” said Sarah Brown of the Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies. “We now are, thankfully, back on track.”

The reason for the record low remains unclear, but some experts attributed it to the recession, noting that the overall fertility rate as well as the total number of births in the United States fell a second straight year in 2009 as well.

“I would not have guessed that teenagers would be most responsive to the economic downturn, but maybe we need to revise our stereotypes,” said Samuel Preston, a professor of demography at the University of Pennsylvania.

Brown and others agreed:

“When money is very tight, all of us think harder about taking risks, expanding our families, taking on new responsibilities,” Brown said. “Now, I know that teens may not be as savvy about money as those in their 20s and 30s – they probably don’t stress over 401 (k)s like the rest of us – but many teens live with financially stressed adults, and they see neighbors and older friends losing jobs and even losing houses. So they, too, feel the squeeze and may be reacting to it by being more prudent. . . . Maybe part of tightening our belts includes keeping our zippers closed, too!”

That fits with research released in the spring by the Pew Research Center, which found that states hit hardest by the recession experienced the biggest drops in births.

“Our evidence definitely suggested there was a link between the economic circumstances and what was going on with fertility,” said Gretchen Livingston, a Pew senior researcher. “I suspect that’s what we’re seeing with these lower numbers. This fits with the historical picture as well.”

Others suggested that the intense concern about the 2005 to 2007 increases and the attention it generated–including Bristol Palin’s campaign against teen pregnancy, MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” series and Washington’s birth control-vs-abstinence debate – may have gotten through to teens. Some data, for example, indicate that use of birth-control pills and other forms of contraception among teen girls is increasing.

“Although the data are preliminary, it looks like improved contraceptive use is again driving the decline in teen birthrates,” said John Santelli of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

The general fertility rate fell from 68.6 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 44 to 66.7 in 2009, and the total number of births fell from 4,247,694 to 4,131,019, That direction appears to be continuing into 2010, according to early statistics collected between January and June. The overall drop pushed the fertility rate to about 2.01, a 4 percent decrease from 2008.

That is the largest decline since 1973, and it put the total fertility rate below the level needed to sustain the size of the population for the second year after being above the replacement rate in 2006 and 2007 for the first time in 35 years.

The birthrate for women in their early 20s fell 7 percent, which is the largest decline for this age group since 1973, according to the report. The rates also fell for women in their late 20s and 30s, although it continued to increase for women in their early 40s.

The rise in teen pregnancies had triggered an intense debate about whether increased funding for sex-education programs that focus on encouraging abstinence may be playing a role. As a result, proponents of abstinence education welcomed the new data, saying they exonerated their approach.

“These trends show that the risk-avoidance message of abstinence has ‘sticking power’ for young people,” said Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association. “This latest evidence shows that teen behaviors increasingly mirror the skills they are taught in a successful abstinence education program.”

Huber and others noted that the Obama administration has significantly reduced funding for abstinence-focused programs.

“With a change in policy away from abstinence education, we may expect to see a reversal of the teen pregnancy birthrate in the years to come,” said Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council.

But critics of abstinence programs, who argue that the approach does not work, attributed the drop to the recession.

“We certainly don’t want recession to be the most effective form of birth control in the U.S.,” said James Wagoner of Advocates for Youth. “We still need structural reforms in sex education, contraceptive access and pragmatic public policies to ensure a long-term decline in the teen birthrate – during good economic times as well as bad.”

The Obama administration has launched a $110 million teen pregnancy prevention effort that will support a range of programs, including those that teach about the risks of specific sexual activities and the benefits of contraception and others that focus primarily on encouraging teens to delay sex.

New guidance on vitamin D recommends midday sunshine

New health advice recommends short spells in the sun – without suncream and in the middle of the day.

Seven organisations have issued joint advice on vitamin D, which the body gets from natural sunlight.

The nutrient keeps bones strong, and protects against conditions like osteoporosis.

The guidance was drawn up because it is thought fears about skin cancer have made people too cautious about being in the sun.

Cancer Research UK and the National Osteoporosis Society are among the bodies which agree that “little and frequent” spells in summer sunshine several times a week can benefit your health.

The experts now say it is fine to go outside in strong sun in the middle of the day, as long as you cover up or apply sunscreen before your skin goes red.

‘Too negative’

A good diet and sensible sun exposure will be adequate for most people to minimise their cancer risk.”

End Quote Professor Peter Johnson Cancer Research UK

Professor Rona Mackie, from the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “Total sun protection with high factor suncream on all the time is not ideal, in terms of vitamin D levels.

“Even Australia has changed its policy on this. They’re now producing charts showing parts of Australia where sun protection may not be required during some parts of the year.

“Some of the messages about sun exposure have been too negative. UK summer sunshine isn’t desperately strong. We don’t have many days in the year when it is very intense.

“What’s changed is that we’re now saying that exposure of 10 to 15 minutes to the UK summer sun, without suncream, several times a week is probably a safe balance between adequate vitamin D levels and any risk of skin cancer.”

Official government advice already recommends vitamin D supplements for pregnant women and children aged under five.

But the experts who wrote the joint statement say mothers often are not made aware of this recommendation. They suggest women consult their GP.

Winter levels of vitamin D can be helped by a break in the tropical sun – or by eating oily fish, liver and fortified margarine.

‘Complex area’

Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, Professor Peter Johnson, said: “A good diet and sensible sun exposure will be adequate for the great majority of the UK population to minimise their cancer risk.

“The area of vitamin D and cancer is complex.

“There’s some evidence, which is strongest in bowel cancer, that low levels of vitamin D in the blood correlate with the risk of developing cancer.

“But that doesn’t mean those low levels cause bowel cancer.

“We think overall that low levels of vitamin D are unlikely to be major contributors to the chances of developing cancer in the UK population.”

The joint statement also highlighted questions about vitamin D that warrant further research.

These include finding out the optimal levels of vitamin D, and more detail about the role of dietary sources and supplements.

Researchers find new source of immune cells during pregnancy

This article makes for a bit harder reading but none-the-less is still interesting.

UCSF researchers have shown for the first time that the human fetal immune system arises from an entirely different source than the adult immune system, and is more likely to tolerate than fight foreign substances in its environment.

The finding could lead to a better understanding of how newborns respond to both infections and vaccines, and may explain such conundrums as why many infants of HIV-positive mothers are not infected with the disease before birth, the researchers said.

It also could help scientists better understand how childhood allergies develop, as well as how to manage adult organ transplants, the researchers said. The findings are described in the Dec. 17 issue of Science.

Until now, the fetal and infant immune system had been thought to be simply an immature form of the adult system, one that responds differently because of a lack of exposure to immune threats from the environment. The new research has unveiled an entirely different immune system in the fetus at mid-term that is derived from a completely different set of stem cells than the adult system.

“In the fetus, we found that there is an immune system whose job it is to teach the fetus to be tolerant of everything it sees, including its mother and its own organs,” said Joseph M. McCune, MD, PhD, a professor in the UCSF Division of Experimental Medicine who is a co-senior author on the paper. “After birth, a new immune system arises from a different stem cell that instead has the job of fighting everything foreign.”

The team previously had discovered that fetal immune systems are highly tolerant of cells foreign to their own bodies and hypothesized that this prevented fetuses from rejecting their mothers’ cells during pregnancy and from rejecting their own organs as they develop.

The adult immune system, by contrast, is programmed to attack anything it considers “other,” which allows the body to fight off infection, but also causes it to reject transplanted organs.

“The adult immune system’s typical role is to see something foreign and to respond by attacking and getting rid of it. The fetal system was thought in the past to fail to ‘see’ those threats, because it didn’t respond to them,” said Jeff E. Mold, first author on the paper and a postdoctoral fellow in the McCune laboratory. “What we found is that these fetal immune cells are highly prone to ‘seeing’ something foreign, but instead of attacking it, they allow the fetus to tolerate it.”

The previous studies attributed this tolerance at least in part to the extremely high percentage of “regulatory T cells”– those cells that provoke a tolerant response – in the fetal immune system. At mid-term, fetuses have roughly three times the frequency of regulatory T cells as newborns or adults, the research found.

The team set out to assess whether fetal immune cells were more likely to become regulatory T cells. They purified so-called naïve T cells – new cells never exposed to environmental assault – from mid-term fetuses and adults, and then exposed them to foreign cells. In a normal adult immune system, that would provoke an immune attack response.

They found that 70 percent of the fetal cells were activated by that exposure, compared to only 10 percent of the adult cells, refuting the notion that fetal cells don’t recognize outsiders. But of those cells that responded, twice as many of the fetal cells turned into regulatory T cells, showing that these cells are both more sensitive to stimulation and more likely to respond with tolerance, Mold said.

Researchers then sorted the cells by gene expression, expecting to see similar expression of genes in the two cell groups. In fact, they were vastly different, with thousands of genes diverging from the two cell lines. When they used blood-producing stem cells to generate new cell lines from the two groups, the same divergence occurred.

“We realized they there are in fact two blood-producing stem cells, one in the fetus that gives rise to T cells that are tolerant and another in the adult that produces T cells that attack,” Mold said.

Why that occurs, and why the immune system appears to switch over to the adult version sometime in the third trimester, remains unknown, McCune said. Further studies will attempt to determine precisely when that occurs and why, as well as whether infants are born with a range of proportions of fetal and adult immune systems – information that could change the way we vaccinate newborns or treat them for such diseases as HIV.

Sophia and Aiden lead Top 100 Baby Names of 2010

.. Please step down, Isabella. Sophia is taking your place as the most popular girl’s name of 2010.

Congratulations, Aiden. You’ve held onto the number-one boy’s spot for the sixth year in a row.

Welcome to the pack, Liam and Abigail. You’re now officially a part of the coveted top 10.

BabyCenter released its list of the Top 100 Baby Names of 2010 today. The online parenting and pregnancy destination compiled some 350,000 baby names and combined those that sound the same but have different spellings (such as Sophia and Sofia) to create a true measure of popularity.

Top 10 Girls’ Names of 2010

1.Sophia
2.Isabella
3.Olivia
4.Emma
5.Chloe
6.Ava
7.Lily
8.Madison
9.Addison
10.Abigail

Top 10 Boys’ Names of 2010

1.Aiden
2.Jacob
3.Jackson
4.Ethan
5.Jayden
6.Noah
7.Logan
8.Caden
9.Lucas
10.Liam

What’s influencing baby-naming parents? Parents turned to pop culture, politics, a bygone era, and the ever-popular Old Testament for inspiration. Here’s a look at the Hottest Baby Name Trends of 2010:

•Glee’s cheerleader queen Quinn may be mean, but her name is certainly popular, jumping up in the ratings a whopping 60 percent. Finn, Jenna, and Lea are also singing a happy tune.

•The critically acclaimed drama Mad Men has struck a nerve with the American public. Dishy Don (as in Draper) inched up the charts, and his ex-wife is bringing the cool back to Betty. The silver-haired fox Roger rose 21 percent, while his wife, Jane, also gained popularity.

•The names of the moms on MTV’s reality show 16 and Pregnant are also popular: Maci, Farrah, and Katelynn are up by 60, 51, and 7 percent, respectively.

•Sarah Palin’s daughters’ names – Bristol, Willow, and Piper – are climbing the ladder, but the name Sarah is actually in decline.

•The golden age of film (think 1930 to 1959) played a starring role in this year’s list. Audrey, Ava, Scarlett, Evelyn, Vivien, and Greta all got rave reviews.

•Parents are reaching back for names…way, way back to the Old Testament. Jacob has made the BabyCenter top ten for the past ten years, while Levi, Caleb, Elijah, and Jeremiah are rising in the charts. For more about the hottest trends see BabyCenter’s Baby Names Special Report of 2010.

What about names below the top ten? Some are flying up the list, while others are spiraling downward.

•Newcomers who broke into the top 100 include Annabelle (69), Stella (72), Nora (83), Jeremiah (90), Hudson (96), and Ryder (97).

•Ellie, who leapfrogged 26 spots to come in at number 61, is a rising star.

•So is Charlotte, who was bumped up 20 to number 38.

•And then there’s Grayson, who enjoyed a 25-spot jump to land at number 66.

•Some names lost a lot of ground. Brooke shot down 23 spots to number 82, while Hayden tumbled 20 spots to number 91.

•Ashley and Brendan exited the top 100 entirely.

What’s up for next year? BabyCenter uses a top-secret algorithm to unearth the names that are likely to become even more popular in 2011.

•Of the top 100 girls’ names from 2010, it looks like Layla, Lila, Evelyn, Charlotte, Lucy, Ellie, Aaliyah, Bella, Claire, and Aubrey will continue to rise in 2011.

•Of the top 100 boys’ names from 2010, BabyCenter predicts that Eli, Colton, Grayson, Wyatt, Henry, Mason, Landon, Charlie, Max, and Chase will gain momentum in 2011.

And what about names that haven’t even broken into the top 100? Who will be next year’s newcomers?

•Among the less popular names now moving up the girls’ list are Isla, Adalyn, Giuliana, Olive, Kinsley, Evangeline, Paisley, Vivienne, Maci, and Kinley.

•And although Bentley, Kellan, Kingston, Aarav, Ryker, Beckett, Colt, Paxton, Jax, and Lincoln are well below the top 100 on the boys’ list, they’re all fast climbers.

Pregnancy-related deaths rise in the U.S. — But still rare for a woman to die from birth complications

By Amy Norton of Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – While it remains rare for a woman in the U.S. to die from pregnancy complications, the national rate of pregnancy-related deaths appears to be on the upswing, a new government study finds.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that between 1998 and 2005, the rate of pregnancy-related deaths was 14.5 per 100,000 live births. And while that rate is low, it is higher than what has been seen in the past few decades.

The researchers caution that the extent to which the rise reflects a true elevation in women’s risk of dying is unclear. Recent changes in how causes of death are officially reported by states to the federal government may be at least partially responsible for the findings.

However, it is also possible that part of the increase is “real.” According to the new data, deaths from chronic medical conditions that are exacerbated by pregnancy, including heart disease, appear to account for a growing number of pregnancy-related deaths.

In contrast, deaths from actual obstetric complications — namely, hemorrhaging and pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders — are declining.

The absolute risk of a U.S. woman dying from pregnancy-related problems is still “very small,” lead researcher Dr. Cynthia J. Berg, of the CDC’s division of reproductive health, said in an interview.

But, she added, the new findings do underscore the importance of women “making sure they are in the best possible health before pregnancy.”

All women, Berg said, should try to have a pre-pregnancy visit with their ob-gyn and, if needed, get their weight and any chronic medical conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes, under control before becoming pregnant.

For their study, Berg and her colleagues looked at data on 4,693 pregnancy-related deaths reported to the CDC between 1998 and 2005. Pregnancy-related death was any death occurring during or within one year of pregnancy that was attributed to a pregnancy complication.

The researchers estimate that for that eight-year period, the national rate of pregnancy-related death was 14.5 for every 100,000 live births.

In contrast, in 1979, there were just under 11 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the U.S. — a rate that fell to as far as 7.4 per 100,000 in 1986, before beginning a gradual increase.

In addition, the racial gap that has long been seen in pregnancy-related deaths shows no signs of narrowing. Between 1998 and 2005, the death rate among black women was 37.5 per 100,000 live births, versus 10.2 per 100,000 among white women and 13.4 per 100,000 for all other racial groups combined.

The reasons for the upward trend in the overall rate of pregnancy-related deaths are not certain, and more studies are needed to tease apart the contributing factors, Berg said.

One factor, according to the researchers, could be two technical changes in how causes of death are officially reported. In 1999, the U.S. adopted an updated system for coding causes of death — one that allowed more deaths to be classified as “maternal.”
Then in 2003, the standard death certificate was revised to include a “pregnancy checkbox,” which increased the number of deaths that could be linked, in timing, to pregnancy.

However, recent years have seen not only a change in the rate of pregnancy-related deaths, but in the specific causes.

Berg explained that the proportion of deaths from “direct causes” — obstetrical complications like hemorrhaging — is going down, while the proportion attributed to indirect causes — that is, medical conditions worsened by pregnancy — is increasing.

Hemorrhaging, for example, accounted for just under 30 percent of pregnancy-related deaths between 1987 and 1990, but only 12 percent between 1998 and 2005. High blood pressure disorders (mainly pre-eclampsia and eclampsia) also accounted for about 12 percent of deaths in 1998-2005 — down from around 18 percent in 1987-1990.

On the other hand, there was a sharp increase in the proportion of deaths attributed to heart problems. In the most recent time period, just over 12 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were attributed to “cardiovascular conditions,” while just under 12 percent were attributed to cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart.

In 1987-1990, only about five percent of deaths were linked to cardiomyopathy, and a smaller percentage to cardiovascular conditions.

This study cannot weed out the precise reasons for these patterns. But Berg pointed out that “our population is changing.”

More women of childbearing age today are obese or have chronic health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes than in years past. So that could help explain the shifting pattern in the causes of pregnancy-related deaths, according to Berg.

The bottom line for women, she said, is that while the odds of dying from pregnancy-related problems remains quite low, it is important to go into pregnancy in the best possible health.

The CDC has information on pre-pregnancy health.

SOURCE: http://link.reuters.com/vah38q Obstetrics & Gynecology, December 2010.

Tip of the Day: Pregnancy-friendly Caesar salad

This delicious article from JILL REED at the OC Register

I didn’t have too many cravings when I was pregnant with Ben.

I mostly craved salsa. Which was fine until heartburn set in during the third trimester. Then even oatmeal was painful.

But I also had a pretty consistent craving for Caesar salad. Of course, the traditional preparation with raw eggs was out of the question. And anytime I asked about it at a restaurant they said that they did indeed use raw eggs.

So I decided to experiment a bit using mayonnaise. Because of how it is processed, store-bought mayo is OK to eat if you are expecting.

I had great success. And, even though I am not pregnant anymore, I still use this recipe because it is easy and it keeps well for a few days in the fridge.

I do use anchovies in this. I know some people are not really fond of those funny little fish. I like the layer of flavor they add to a Caesar, and they get pulverized when this dressing is blended. But if they are not your thing, just leave ‘em out.

By the way, anchovies are low in mercury and high in all sorts of other good stuff. Anchovies are OK in moderation for pregnant women.

Pregnancy-friendly Caesar salad
(makes 6-8 servings, depending on how large of a salad you like)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use light mayo and it works great)
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
Your favorite croutons
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. In a food processor (I use my mini processor for such a small batch) or a blender, combine the mayonnaise, anchovies, lemon juice, garlic and mustard and blend until smooth. With the processor on, slowly pour in the olive oil and blend until smooth and combined. Season the dressing with pepper to taste.

2. In a large bowl, toss the romaine with the croutons. Add the dressing and toss. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the salad, toss again and serve right away.

3. Leftover dressing will keep in the fridge for a few days. Just give it a quick whisk before you use it.

BREASTFEEDING exposes babies to a variety of flavours

This article from Australia.

BREASTFEEDING exposes babies to a variety of flavours, making them more accepting of different foods as they grow

CSIRO research psychologist Dr Nadia Corsini said studies showed breastfeeding provided infants with a greater variety of tastes compared with formula, which was beneficial when weaning them on to solid foods.

“Exposure to flavours takes place in utero and via breastfeeding, where the baby is exposed to flavours in mother’s diet,” she said.

“A lot of people might not realise this is one of benefits of breastfeeding, the exposure to different flavours.

“Research suggests children with exposure to different flavours are more accepting of different foods as they grow older to those who didn’t have exposure.”

According to a European study of 147 mothers and their infants, both breastfeeding and daily changes in vegetables offered early in weaning increased the child’s acceptance of new foods for at least up to two months.

Dr Corsini said breastfeeding versus formula was a sensitive issue, but mothers shouldn’t feel they are disadvantaging their child if they do not breastfeed.

“Even though these processes exist it doesn’t mean you can’t change or influence your children’s acceptance of different foods after that stage,” she said.

“That’s why it’s important to offer children a wide variety of healthy foods early in life. It is such an important influence on the variety in their diet later.”

Gordana Hopping, 33, is breastfeeding her five-month-old daughter Filipa and mindful of eating well.

“I’m staying away from soft drinks and sugary foods,” she said. “I have a healthy diet so Filipa is too.”

The Advertiser and Sunday Mail Healthy Eating project continues this week, encouraging children to learn more about balanced diets and cooking nutritious meals.

Students can collect daily panels featuring the different food groups as well as recipes courtesy of the CSIRO.