Brace yourself. It’s going to be a hot weekend with temperatures in the 90s Friday and Saturday, before cooling off after late night showers on Saturday. Sunday will be beautiful with highs in the upper 70s.
Plan your family fun accordingly. Here’s what’s on our calendar:
Wildflower Center. Sprouts. Hands-on preschool program. 10 a.m. Friday. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org
Thinkery. Tinkering Tots: Mini Music Makers! 9:45 a.m. Fridays for 2-year-olds; 10:45 a.m. Fridays for 3-year-olds through May 26. $20 a class. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
Texas Museum of Science & Technology. Star Party. Look at the stars. 8 p.m. Fridays. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park. txmost.org
“JJ’s Arcade.” Zach Theater and Teatro Vivo present this play about a boy who builds an arcade out of leftover cardboard. For ages 7 and up. 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday with sign-language-interpretion and sensory-friendly performance. $13-$15. Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St. zachtheatre.org
“Never Grow Up: A Disney Art Show.” Mondo Gallery presents this show. Opening reception, 3-10 p.m. Friday. “Mondo Clubhouse” Kids Party, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. Mondo Gallery, 4115 Guadalupe St. MondoTees.com.
Thinkery.Get Pumped! For ages 4 and up. Learn about the circulatory system. 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 3:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
Hill Country Science Mill. Fossil Day. The Science Mill opens its fossil dig site and welcomes two giant African Spurred Tortoises. Noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Hill Country Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org
Pecan Street Brass. 4 p.m. Sunday, Recycled Reads Bookstore.
This week’s “Speechless” on ABC featured a guest role for Austin’s Zach Anner. Anner, you might remember, won an Oprah Winfrey OWN contest to create his own show, a travel show called “Rollin’ with Zach.”
Recently, Anner has been at BookPeople celebrating the paperback release of his autobiography “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed.”
In “Speechless,” Anner’s character gives mom Maya hope that one day JJ will be able to drive a car when she sees Anner’s character driving a car. Both Anner and JJ (Micah Fowler) have cerebral palsy.
What we love about “Speechless” is that it is about real people. It doesn’t try to sugarcoat life as a child in a wheelchair or life raising a child in a wheelchair. The struggles that JJ faces are the same struggles that all teens face, just slightly different. In this episode, JJ wants to be able to be independent and rolls away from Maya after she tries to do everything for him.
Anner’s character gives JJ good advice: Find a space to be independent. He regretted that he let his mom do everything for him because she would, rather than figuring out how to do things himself. It made for a harder transition to independence.
On Monday, 13-year-old Rome Henderson walked into her middle school for the first time since December. It was a milestone that seemed impossible at the end of 2016.
Rome was admitted into Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas on Dec. 11. She was having chest pains and difficulty breathing. She was nauseated and didn’t want to eat.
“I had never had anything like this before,” she says.
Doctors realized that the left ventricle of her heart was giving out. Fluid was now in her lungs. She would need a heart transplant, something her parents had known was a possibility her whole life.
By Christmas Eve, Rome was transported to Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, one of only two hospitals in Texas that do pediatric heart transplants.
She was put on a Impella left ventricular assist device that did the work her heart could no longer do. The device is FDA approved in adults for use for three days or less, not for children, but Dr. David Sutcliffe, Rome’s post-transplant cardiologist, says all the machines they use in pediatrics are used as exceptions to the FDA approval.
By Dec. 26, Rome was on the heart transplant list. “We needed a miracle,” mother Robyn Henderson says. “They needed a heart. They would do everything they could do to prolong her life, to keep her going.”
They needed Rome to be saved for the second time by an organ donor. April is National Donate Life Month. Donate Life America estimates that 118,000 people are waiting for an organ donation. Another person is added to that list every 10 minutes and 22 people a day die waiting for a donation. A person who agrees to donate organs, eyes and tissues can save up to 75 lives. One of them could be a girl like Rome.
Another chance at life
Robyn Henderson knew at her daughter’s first ultrasound that something was wrong with Rome’s heart. There was a hole in it and a narrowing. Rome would need heart surgery as soon as she was born.
Rome’s first surgery was when she was a day old. Her next surgery was when she was 6 months old, when a donor valve from the tissue bank was inserted and her heart was reconstructed.
Robyn Henderson says she always knew that that wouldn’t be a forever fix, that eventually Rome would need a heart transplant.
For more than a decade, Rome’s heart worked, and by taking medicine, she was able to do everything other kids do. Doctors had told Robyn Henderson to make sure that Rome drank a lot of water and sat down if she got tired, but that was all the instructions.
In December things changed, and they were headed Dallas.
“I was scared,” Rome says. Heart failure was something she had always been told might happen and now it was happening. Once she was on the Impella, Rome was kept unconscious.
As Rome’s heart was being kept alive, her parents were being updated with her progress. By Dec. 31, they were told that her right ventricle, the one that had been healthy, was now giving out because the Impella was now doing the work of the heart instead of the heart doing its own work. Rome was running out of time.
On New Year’s Day, the hospital called her parents to come in for a meeting. When they were walking toward the meeting, Robyn Henderson remembers her husband, Devon, saying, “I don’t know if I can take much more.” She told him to stay positive. What if they were calling to say they had a heart? “What if it’s not like the movies and it’s not very dramatic?” she remembers telling him.
She was right. They were told they had a heart, “We were just amazed,” she says. “It couldn’t have come at a better time. We were smiling. We were jumping around. It was crazy.”
“It was the perfect heart for her,” Sutcliffe says.
The United Network for Organ Sharing manages the national organ transplant list for the federal government and sets the priority. Patients who are at the highest risk for death move higher on the list and receive priority when an organ becomes available that is a good match for them.
Patients Rome’s age and size typically spend three months waiting for a heart transplant, Sutcliffe says. Waiting only a week was another miracle.
Rome really doesn’t remember much about the days after her transplant. She says it took her about two months to fully understand that she had had a heart transplant. “I was confused as to what happened,” she says. “I was trying to get everything together in my head.”
It didn’t really hurt, though, she says. She did have trouble accepting it and didn’t want to look at the scars, both the new ones left by where the chest tubes were in and the ones from the actual transplant, and the one that still remain from when she was a baby.
Robyn Henderson says she noticed the difference in her daughter immediately after the surgery. Her coloring was different. The purple tint that had been on her limps and the dark coloring under her eyes were gone. Rome’s new heart was giving the blood better circulation.
Every day, doctors and nurses pushed Rome to do more and more. “As a mother, I want to keep her in a bubble, but they pushed her every day and she got stronger,” Robyn says.
The three months in the hospital went by quickly.
“It blows me away,” Robyn Henderson says. “I felt like every day was an improvement than the day before.”
They came home to Austin April 2.
Now, Rome is able to do everything she was able to do before, just with anti-rejection medicine keeping her and her new heart getting along.
Not a permanent fix
Sutcliffe says he tells his patients a heart transplant will last 10 years. Sometimes, though, patients will get to 20 or 30 years, he says.
Some people experience acute rejection, which means their body has an incident of shutting down as it tries to get rid of the new organ. Even if they don’t experience that, they do experience chronic rejection, which doctors are trying to constantly prevent.
Sutcliffe says in Dallas, they’ve had patients who have had two, three and four transplants.
“We try not to think about things like that,” Robyn Henderson says, but if rejection were to happen, there is some comfort in knowing it’s possible to get another transplant.
Henderson says many people in her family are now organ donors. She’s been one since Rome was a baby, the first time they needed a donor.
They know nothing about the person who gave Rome her heart. In a year, Rome and her family can write a letter to that family and seek information. “We want to show our appreciation and really thank them,” Robyn Henderson says. Even Rome wonders about that person. Was it a man or a woman? How old were they? How did they die?
“You have a part of someone that’s a part of you now,” Robyn Henderson says. “You want to tell them thank you.”
Rome doesn’t dwell on this transplant or talk about needing another transplant. She talks about wanting to be president when she grows up. She’s good at reading and writing. She’s started looking at which colleges are good, she says, but has not settled on a major. She has time. Thanks to her new heart.
How to be an organ donor
You can sign up online at donatelifetexas.org/register. Make sure you notify your family members, especially those who would be making medical decisions for you if you were incapacitated.
The Big Baby Bash & Family Jam. Find information on everything from prenatal to preschool. Test out the latest baby gear and network with parents. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 6. Free. Northwest Hills Methodist Church, 7050 Village Center Drive. thebigbabybash.com
CelebrASIA Austin Asian Pacific American Food & Heritage Festival. See cultural performances, taste different foods and enjoy kids activities. This year it’s the year of the mango with mango-themed foods and activities. Free, food for purchase. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 6. Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road www.austintexas.gov/aarc
Disney on Ice: Dream Big. Tinkerbell takes you on a tour of some of Disney’s favorite characters. 7:30 p.m. May 10-13, 11:30 p.m. May 13, 3:30 p.m. May 13, 1 p.m. May 14. $12.75-$47.75. H-E-B Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park. hebcenter.com
KUTX Live at Mueller.Spare the Rock brings together family-friendly music. This month it’s Yes Ma’am Brass Band. 7 p.m. May 12. Free. Lake Park Amphitheater.
Maker Faire Austin. See artists and scientists and crafters make things and make some things with them. $9-$30. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 13-14. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. austin.makerfaire.com
Geology and Fossil Hunt.Shoal Creek Conservancy and Austin Science & Nature Center team together for this event. Seider Springs Park, 1380 W. 34th St.
Faerie month at Zilker Botanical Garden: Faerie Landscape Workshop. Learn how to make a garden suitable for a fairy. $5, plus $25 kit. 9 a.m. or noon May 7. Woodland Faerie Trail. See fairy houses on this trail. May 27-June 30. Free with admission. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road. zilkergarden.org
Fairytale Tea Party. Dress as a princess and play games and make crafts. 10 a.m. May 20. Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane. 512-339-0016.
Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre. See 30 rescued pets put on a show with juggler Gregory Popovich. 7 p.m. May 6. $20-$33. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org.
“Playing Possum: A Trickster Tale from Mexico.” Pollyanna Theater presents folktale. 11:30 a.m. May 12, 15, 18-19; 2 p.m. May 13-14, 20-21; and 9:30 a.m. May 15, 18-19. $10-$14. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org
Thinkery. Little Thinkers Club: Art Start: Upcycle! 9:45 a.m. Wednesdays for 1-year-olds, 10:45 a.m. Wednesdays for 2-year-olds through May 24. $20 per class. Tinkering Tots: Mini Music Makers! 9:45 a.m. Fridays for 2-year-olds; 10:45 a.m. Fridays for 3-year-olds through May 26. $20 a class. Namaste and Play. It’s yoga, art and movement all together. 9:45 a.m. May 29 for 1-year-olds, 10:45 a.m. May 29 for 2-year-olds, 11:45 a.m. May 29 for 3-year-olds. $20. Baby Bloomers. For infant to 3. Learn about spring all month long. 9 a.m. Mondays and Saturdays. Special guests throughout the month. $5. Decoding DNA. For 4 and up. 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 3:15 p.m. May 6-7, May 20-21. $8. Programmable Possibilities. For ages 4 and up. 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 a.m. May 13-14, May 26-29. $8. Mechanical Wonders. For ages 8 up. 3:15 p.m. May 13-14, May 26-29. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org
Contemporary Austin. Families Create: Recycled Robots. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. May 13.Free. Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St. thecontemporaryaustin.org
Hill Country Science Mill. Girl Scout Day. Learning labs and badge earning possibilities. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 6. Home School Day. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 10. Hill Country Science Mill, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City. sciencemill.org
Texas Museum of Science & Technology. Wee-Searchers for children 5 and younger. Learn about science through song, play and stories. 9 a.m. May 10 and May 24. Star Party. Look at the stars. 8 p.m. Fridays. Texas Museum of Science & Technology, 1220 Toro Grande Drive, Cedar Park. txmost.org
Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. Family Day. Mother’s Day with a Kimono Fashion Show hosted by the Japan America Society of Greater Austin. 10-4 p.m. May 14. Free. Kids Kraft Art ′Zines. 9 a.m. May 13 kindergarten through second grade; 11 a.m. May 13 third through fifth grade. $15. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, 605 Robert E. Lee Road. umlaufsculpture.org
Family Day. The Art & Geometry of Sebastián’s Transformables. Fold paper in art inspired by Sebastián. 1-4 p.m. May 14. Free. Mexic-Arte, 419 Congress Ave. Mexic-ArteMuseum.org
Wildflower Center. Sprouts. Hands-on preschool program. 10 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. Nature Play Hour. Play in the Family Garden. 11 a.m. Saturdays. Garden Bug Trackers. Learn how to track bugs as a family. Noon May 25. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org
Toybrary Austin. Gardening Class. 10:45 a.m. Tuesdays. Free. Drop-in Music Class. 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesdays. $7. Mayday celebration. 10:30 a.m. May 4. Galaxy on a Canvas art class. 10:30 a.m. May 7. $10. Clay bowls and magnets. 10:30 a.m. May 13. $10. Meet Abby Cadabby from “Sesame Street.” 10:30 a.m. May 18. Sugar Cookie Decorating with La Patisserie. 10:30 a.m. May 25. Family Night Out with Staci Gray. 5:30 p.m. May 27. $10 per child. Toybrary Austin, 7817 Rockwood Lane, Suite 101. toybraryaustin.com
Movies in the Park: “A League of their Own.” 8:30 p.m. May 4, Northwest District Park. “Aladdin” in Spanish. 8:45 p.m. May 18, Dove Springs District Park. austinparks.org.
PBS Kids at the Alamo Drafthouse. “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” 11 a.m. May 20-21, Lakeline. 10:35 a.m. May 20-21, Slaughter Lane.drafthouse.com
BookPeople events.Michael Fry: “How to be a Supervillain.” 7 p.m. May 7. Lemony Snicket and Lisa Brown: “Goldfish Ghost.” 6 p.m. May 4. Elizabeth Wein “The Pearl Thief.” 7 p.m. May 5. “Caroline Leech and Jennifer Park. “Wait for Me” and “The Shadows We Know by Heart.” 2 p.m. May 6. Fierce Reads tour with Scott Westerfeld, Erin Beaty, Taran Matharu and Kristen Orlando. 7 p.m. May 15. Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip. See what’s new with crafts and giveaways. 10 a.m. May 21. Story times: New Releases, 10:30 a.m. May 2, I Can Read, 10:30 a.m. May 3; I Love Mom, 11:30 May 6; Dragons Love Tacos 2, 10:30 a.m. May 9; Ms. Staci, 10:30 a.m. May 10; Blanton Museum of Art, 11:30 a.m. May 13; Armstrong Community Music School, 10:30 a.m. May 16; Tiny Tails Petting Zoo, 10:30 a.m. May 17; Eat What You Want Day, 11;30 a.m. May 20; Fantasy World, 10:30 a.m. May 23; Princesses and Pirates, 10:30 a.m. May 24; Shapes, 11:30 a.m. May 27; Best Friends Forever, 10:30 a.m. May 30, Modern First Library, 10:30 a.m. May 31. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com
Barnes & Noble Events: Austin Summer Musical takes over story time, 11 a.m. May 10, Arboretum; Amy Jackson reads “Cassandra and the Night Sky,” 11 a.m. May 13, Arboretum. Saturday story times 11 a.m. at all locations: “Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel,” May 6; Mother’s Day Story time, May 13; “Lee Ree,” May 20; “Pete the Cat and the Cool Cat Boogie, May 27.
At the library
Art Workshops: Shaping Spaces. 4 p.m. May 5, Southeast Branch; 4 p.m. May 12, Southeast Branch.
Saturday Family Movie: “Sing,” 2 p.m. May 6, Windsor Park Branch. “Jason Bourne,” 2 p.m. May 13, University Hills Branch.
Crafternoon. 3:30 p.m. May 1; 4 p.m. May 11, Twin Oaks Branch; 3:30 p.m. May 16, Howson Branch; 4 p.m. May 16, Cepeda Branch; 3 p.m. May 17, Carver Branch; 3 p.m. May 23, Terrazas Branch; 4 p.m. May 23, Windsor Park Branch, 3 p.m. May 30, Terrazas Branch.
The Contemporary Austin Presents: Preschool Art Hour. 11 a.m. May 2, Old Quarry Branch; 3:30 p.m. May 4, Milwood Branch.
Sew Happy. 5 p.m. May 2, Manchaca Road Branch.
Music & Movement. 11 a.m. May 5, Milwood Branch; 11;30 a.m. May 10, Manchaca Road Branch; 3:30 p.m. May 15, Manchaca Road Branch.
Storybook Dance Making. 2 p.m. May 7, Recycled Reads Book Store.
Family Movie Night: “Storks.” 6:30 p.m. May 9, Twin Oaks Branch; 5:30 p.m. May 31, Carver Branch.
NBTween Book Club: “Ghosts.” 4 p.m. May 10, Howson Branch; “Belly Up,” 6 p.m. May 17, Yarborough Branch; “Some Kind of Courage,” 6 p.m. May 18, Twin Oaks Branch; “Sunny Side Up,” 6 p.m. May 31, Spicewood Springs Branch.
Teen Manga Book Club. 5:30 p.m. May 11, Little Walnut Creek Branch.
Teen Book Club: “The Amulet of Samarkand.” 7 p.m. May 11, Yarborough Branch; “Six of Crows,” 6:30 p.m. May 16, Howson Branch; “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks,” 6:30 p.m. May 18, Spicewood Springs Branch.
Friday Movie Matinee: “Pete’s Dragon.” 3 p.m. May 12, Old Quarry Branch.
Family Craft Night. 6 p.m. May 17, Howson Branch.
Día de los niños: Family Literacy Celebration. 11 a.m. May 20, Ruiz Branch.
Echo and the Bats concert. 11 a.m. May 23, Little Walnut Creek Branch.
T(w)een STEAM Lab. 3 p.m. May 24, Carver Branch.
Open Mic Night. 1 p.m. May 27, Carver Branch.
Share Your Stories. 3:30 p.m. May 28, Recycled Reads Bookstore.
It’s a big, longtime question: Are the side effects that come with artificial sweetners in diet sodas worth saving the calories?
A new study published in Stroke looked at 2,888 people in Framingham, Mass.,, who were are part of a study that originally began in 1971. It compared dietary intake and incidents of stroke and dementia and found those who drank diet drinks were almost three times at higher risk for stroke or dementia compared with those who drank less than one a week.
The Framingham Heart Study, also noted that those who drank diet drinks also consumed more calories. Past research has shown that the sweetners trick the brain into believing it’s getting something sweet and then it wants more sweet things.
“While we have some research that suggests the negative toll diet beverages can have on our health, this high-quality observational study points to a strong correlation found between artificially sweetened beverages and an increased risk of stroke and dementia,” said Dr. Jefferson T. Miley of Seton Brain & Spine Institute in a press release.
“It’s important to be thoughtful about what you are eating and drinking, considering both potential benefits and possible health risks,” Miley said. The study was not designed to prove cause and effect, but the findings are still worth taking note, he said.
Drinking soda with real sugar isn’t the answer either. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily added sugars to no more than nine teaspoons for men or six teaspoons for women.
Instead doctors recommend you drink unsweetened tea, water or fruit-infused water or low-fat milk.
This advice came into my inbox, and as a mom who has managed to get one kid through braces and is just starting a second round of braces with the second kid, I thought it was some good advice. Especially No. 1, which is often something parents wonder.
Dr. Karson Kupiec, an orthodontist at Kupiec Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry, in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., tells us what moms should know before their child gets braces:
Age. Many people are unsure when a child should see an orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist no later than the age of seven.
Straightness. Even children who have straight teeth should still be evaluated by an orthodontist. There may be a problem with their teeth that can be detected by the doctor. Early treatment helps to guide proper jaw growth, correct harmful habits, and help guide teeth, and even shape one’s face.
Cost. With an average cost for metal braces being around $5,000-$7,500, many parents may feel they can’t afford the treatment. However, some orthodontist offices offer payment plans, making it worthwhile to check into what options are available. There are various types of braces available, so discuss them with the orthodontist to determine the best one for your child and invest in their future smile.
Clean Teeth. If your child’s teeth aren’t sufficiently clean before getting braces, your orthodontist will have to clean them with a polishing paste so that the braces can properly be cemented to your teeth. If possible, schedule a regular professional cleaning appointment with your dentist a few days before you get your new braces so the teeth will be plaque-free prior to your braces appointment. Then, brushing with a high fluoride toothpaste — along with flossing and gargling mouthwash before your appointment — can help make you feel more confident and will speed things along with the orthodontist.
Expect discomfort. Getting braces is going to create some discomfort, especially once your child first gets them. They can cause sores in the mouth. To help, choose soft foods, such as soup, pasta and bananas for the few days following getting braces. If there is still a high level of discomfort after a few days and it doesn’t go away with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, call the orthodontist.
Regular care. Talk to your orthodontist about proper care of your braces. You’ll need to brush regularly and use a Waterpik to flush out the food particles that can get caught between braces and teeth; you should also avoid sticky foods. With proper care and by seeing your orthodontist regularly for checkups, you can keep your teeth healthy while your braces are in place.
Foods. There are some foods that should be avoided when having braces because they tend to get caught. These include chewy foods, crunchy foods, sticky foods, and hard foods. Specific foods to avoid include sticky peanut butter, popcorn, caramel, taffy, and gum. Also, things you have to bite into, such as an apple or corn on the cob.
Choosing a doctor. Opt for an orthodontist, since they are specialists in straightening teeth and have had two to three years of additional training beyond dental school. Meet with the doctor to determine whether or not it will be a good fit for your family.
I’ll also add when meeting with the doctor, ask these questions:
Where should the doctor be located? Do you want a doctor that is close to home or close to school? This especially matters if you have a child going to a school not close to your home.
What are the hours? What are the doctor’s hours, specifically after and before school? How available are those after school or before school appointments? Realize your going to be pulling your child out of school a lot during and after treatment if your orthodontist can only do treatments during the school day. I’ve often said that the orthodontist that is open nights and weekends would make a killing.
What happens in an emergency? Can they get you in that day or are you going to have to wait weeks with wires poking at you?
What is the treatment plan? How many stages, how long will the stages be, what type of braces, will any surgeries be needed, what will the post-braces treatment plan be — all things you should discuss before starting.
What is the payment plan? Will your insurance cover anything (usually it’s your medical insurance not your dental)? Will your doctor take monthly payments? What are the fees for things like a broken bracket, a lost retainer? What if you miss an appointment?
What is the staff turnover like? If your orthodontist is always having to train staff, you might not want that staff training in your mouth.
Do you feel comfortable and does your kid feel comfortable? You’re going to be spending a lot of time there. Do you feel welcomed or do you want to run screaming from the building?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, that’s an organization that makes recommendations on the standards of medical care, has issued its final recommendations for the screening of preeclampsia. It’s published in the May issue of the Journal of American Medical Association. Preeclampsia is high blood pressure that happens after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It occurs in about 4 percent of pregnancies and can lead to these horrible things:
For the mom:
For the baby:
Low birth weight
It’s the second leading cause of maternal death in pregnancy and because of that, doctors often recommend an early delivery often by cesarean section.
The problem with preeclampsia is it’s unpredictable for who will get it and who won’t. Yes, there’s some genetic history and risk factors, but sometimes it seems to happen in women who were otherwise healthy before they got pregnant.
The task force looked at different kinds of tests it could recommend that would detect preeclampsia. Specifically, it looked at urine stick tests looking for protein and regular high blood pressure screenings.
What it found is that the urine test was not a good predictor, but the high blood pressure screenings were the best we have.
That ALL pregnant women have their blood pressure taken each time they are at the doctor’s office. And it tells doctors how to do the blood pressure test so as not to get a false positive.
That women who have been identified as at risk because of past experience or genetic history or another factor be given a low dose of aspirin (81 mg) daily after the first trimester.
It also recommends that if the blood pressure is found to be high at the doctor’s office, women test their blood pressure outside of the office to make sure it’s not “white coat syndrome.”
The recommendations are consistent with the 1996 recommendations, which also recommended that all women be screened.
The hope is that doctors will eventually have a better screening method and a better way to predict who is at risk.
It now recommends that those drugs not be given to children younger than 12 and not be taken by breastfeeding mothers to avoid injury to their baby. The new restriction further strengthens the 2013 restriction warning against the used of codeine following the removal of tonsils or adenoids in people younger than 18. The drugs are now approved for adults only.
The FDA added these step, according to its statement.
FDA’s strongest warning, called a Contraindication, to the drug labels of codeine and tramadol alerting that codeine should not be used to treat pain or cough and tramadol should not be used to treat pain in children younger than 12 years.
A new Contraindication to the tramadol label warning against its use in children younger than 18 years to treat pain after surgery to remove the tonsils and/or adenoids.
A new Warning to the drug labels of codeine and tramadol to recommend against their use in adolescents between 12 and 18 years who are obese or have conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea or severe lung disease, which may increase the risk of serious breathing problems.
A strengthened Warning to mothers that breastfeeding is not recommended when taking codeine or tramadol medicines due to the risk of serious adverse reactions in breastfed infants. These can include excess sleepiness, difficulty breastfeeding, or serious breathing problems that could result in death.
Codeine and tramadol are also in a lot of prescription drugs including:
Butalbital, Acetaminopen, Caffeine, and Codeine phosphate
Fiorinal with codeine
Soma Compound with codeine
Tylenol with codeine
Generic products containing tramadol
Promethazine with codeine (cough)
Prometh VC with codeine (cough)
Tuxarin ER (cough)
“This is great news and long overdue,” said Dr. Sujit Iyer, assistant medical director of emergency at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas in a press release. “The FDA making its strongest warning will hopefully curb doctors from prescribing these medicines in the outpatient setting.”
Iyer says the risks from these drugs include:
Decreased gag reflex
All of which could lead a child to stop breathing and die.
“The simple fact is we’ve known for a long time that most coughs in children are due to something infectious,” Iyer said. “Trying to suppress the cough with these medicines provides no clear benefit in children, and a very high risk of harm.”
So, why is it OK in adults, but not children?
“The trouble with codeine and tramadol is some kids are rapid metabolizers and can end up with toxic levels of the drug in their system,” said Dr. Scott Brandt in a press release. He’s assistant chief of anesthesia at Dell Children’s, which has protocols on what pain medicines can and should be prescribed safely following an operation.
“There are much safer options like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, or for more severe pain, hydrocodone or oxycodone,” Brandt said.
The warning does not include the over-the-counter medications with codeine in it, though Iyer still recommends acetaminophen and ibuprofen for pain.
And for cough, he recommends:
Drinking plenty of fluids.
A teaspoon of honey if a child is older than 12 months.
Using cool mist humidifier.
Using nasal saline and a bulb syringe for congestion.
“These over-the-counter cough meds have little proven benefit in kids. So in my house, my kids actually aren’t getting cough syrup until they’re 12,” Iyer said.
Of course if your child has these symptoms, see a doctor:
a cough while turning blue around the lips or face
a prolonged breathing pause, a barky cough
cough with chest pain
using the muscles between the ribs or above the collarbone excessively
Babies are expensive and many expecting parents worry about how they will pay for diapers, day care and more.
But that worry over finances could have a harmful affect on your baby. Researchers at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that there is a link between anxiety over financial stress and babies being born at lower birth weights.
“To gauge their level of financial strain, we asked pregnant women questions about how difficult it would be to live on their annual household income in the coming weeks as it related to things like medical care, housing situations and other expenses related to having a baby,” said Amanda Mitchell, lead author of the study and researcher at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “We found that the more stress a woman reported, the greater the likelihood that she would have a baby of low birth weight.”
Researchers also found that the level of financial strain was not dependent on income. “We found that high stress levels were present across all income levels,” said Lisa Christian, principal investigator of the study. “What that means is that it wasn’t just how much money someone had available that was driving this effect. It was actually the perception of her ability to meet her expenses.”
Why does birth weight matter? Children who are born with lower birth weights have longterm health problems such as heart disease, obesity, respiratory problems and digestive issues.
The researchers recommend that moms find ways to cope with their financial stress and be put in touch with resources to help them create a budget plan.