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Flu shots for pregnant women should top every expectant mom’s to-do list, researchers say

Moms-to-be are always encouraged to get the flu shot for their health and the health of their baby. But what happens if you already got a flu shot months or a year ago? Would a new shot even do any good? New research says yes, flu shots for pregnant women—even those who recently got one—have major benefits for them and babies before they can receive their own vaccinations.


“As soon as we know you are pregnant, you should get a flu shot. The sooner the better,” said study co-author Dr. Octavio Ramilo, chief of the infectious diseases division at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, in a new WebMD report.

This is because not only is influenza more serious among pregnant women, but the flu shot also serves to protect babies for months after their births.

In a press release this week, co-author Lisa Christian, associate professor and researcher from Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, explained they wanted to get to the bottom of the myth that pregnant women who had gotten a flu shot in the past year don’t need another.

“We launched this study to not only track how prior vaccination affects immune responses in expectant mothers,” she said. “But also to see whether it affects how well antibodies against the flu are transferred from the mother to the baby.”

Previous studies suggested the flu shot was the best way to protect moms and babies—but they also showed people who get a flu shot annually will gradually have lower antibody responses. That made experts wonder whether the infants of moms who got the flu shot every year we're getting enough of those flu fighting antibodies.

Thanks to the new study, we now have more evidence that pregnant women should make getting a flu shot one of their top priorities.

Christian’s team gave the shot to 141 pregnant women. Ninety-one of the women had received a flu shot in the previous year and 50 of them had not. For the moms, the results echoed those found in previous studies of adults: The women who’d had the shot the year before did have weakened antibody responses. But it was a different story for the babies.

“The good news is that we found that the benefits of maternal vaccination for the baby were not affected by prior vaccination in the mothers,” said Christian, whose team tested blood from babies’ umbilical cords. That is especially important as babies can’t get their own shots until they’re six months old, the antibodies we pass down are incredibly important.

In other words, expectant mothers who believed the flu shot wasn’t beneficial enough to justify getting one for their sakes should still get one for their baby’s health.

In many communities, flu shots are available by late August or September and take two weeks to reach full efficacy. As flu season lasts through spring and the effectiveness of the flu vaccine may wear off for people with lower immune systems, talk to your health care provider about whether you should get a booster shot later in the year.

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The bottle warmer has long been a point of contention for new mamas. Hotly debated as a must-have or superfluous baby registry choice, standard models generally leave new moms underwhelmed at best.

It was time for something better.

Meet the Algoflame Milk Warmer, a digital warming wand that heats beverages to the perfect temperature―at home and on the go. And like any modern mama's best friend, the Algoflame solves a number of problems you might not have even known you needed solved.

As with so many genius gadgets, this one is designed by two parents who saw a serious need. It's currently a Kickstarter raising money for production next year, but here are 10 unexpected ways this brilliant device lends a hand―and reasons why you should consider supporting its launch.

1. It's portable.

Every seasoned mama knows that mealtime can happen anywhere. And since you're unlikely to carry a clunky traditional milk warmer in your diaper bag, the Algoflame is your answer. The super-light design goes anywhere without weighing down your diaper bag.

2. It's battery operated.

No outlets necessary. Simply charge the built-in battery before heading out, and you're ready for whatever (and wherever) your schedule takes you. (Plus, when you contribute to the Kickstarter you can request an additional backup battery for those days when your errands take all.day.long.)

3. It's compact.

Even at home, traditional bottle warmers can be an eyesore on the countertop. Skip the bulky model for Algoflame's streamlined design. The warmer is about nine inches long and one inch wide, which means you can tuck it in a drawer out of sight when not in use.

4. It's waterproof.

No one likes taking apart bottle warmers to clean all the pieces. Algoflame's waterproof casing can be easily and quickly cleaned with dish soap and water―and then dried just as quickly so you're ready to use it again.

5. It has precise temperature control.

Your wrist is not a thermometer―why are you still using it to test your baby's milk temperature? Algoflame lets you control heating to the optimal temperature for breastmilk or formula to ensure your baby's food is safe.

6. It's fool-proof.

The LED display helps you know when the milk is ready, even in those bleary-eyed early morning hours. When the right temperature is reached, the wand's display glows green. Too hot, and it turns red (with a range of colors in between to help you determine how hot the liquid is). Now that's something even sleep-deprived parents can handle.

7. It's adaptable.

Sized to fit most bottles and cups on the market, you never have to worry about whether or not your bottles will fit into your warmer again.

8. It's multipurpose.

If you're a mom, chances are your cup of coffee is cold somewhere right now. The Algoflame has you covered, mama! Simply pop the wand into your mug to reheat your own beverage no matter where you are.

9. You can operate it with one hand.

From getting the milk warmer out to heating your baby's beverage, the entire wand is easy to activate with one hand―because you know you're holding a fussing baby in the other!

10. It's safe.

Besides being made from materials that comply with the FDA food contact safety standard, Algoflame boasts a double safety system thanks to its specially designed storage case. When put away in the case, the built-in magnetic safe lock turns the milk warmer to power-off protection mode so it won't activate accidentally. Additionally, the warmer's "idle-free design" prevents the heater from being accidentally activated out of the case.

To get involved and help bring the Algoflame Milk Warmer to new mamas everywhere, support the brand's Kickstarter campaign here.

This article is sponsored by Algoflame Milk Warmer. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Christmas Eve is a rare birthday, and it's a fitting birthday for a baby girl who was a gift to her own family, and those of other sick babies.

When Krysta Davis was four months pregnant with her daughter, Rylei Arcadia Lovett, Krysta and her husband Dereck got some heartbreaking news. Baby Rylei had Anencephaly. Her brain was underdeveloped to a fatal degree. Doctors gave Krysta the option of having Rylei then, in her second trimester, or carrying her to term so that her tiny organs could be donated to babies who needed them.

"If I wasn't able to bring my baby home, at least others could bring theirs home," Davis told ABC affiliate News Channel 9.

As heartbroken as she was, Krysta carried her baby girl for five more months, giving her body time to grow the organs that would be such an amazing gift to families who were in a kind of pain the Lovetts know all too well.

Doctors told the couple that Rylei would probably live for about 30 minutes after birth, but Rylei held on for an entire week. "There's no way to describe how amazing it felt. When you go to thinking you'll only have 30 minutes with your child and you get an entire week," Davis told News Channel 9.

For that week, Rylei got all the cuddles and skin-to-skin contact a baby could ask for. "I wouldn't trade this week for anything in the whole wide world," she wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to Rylei's memory, adding that she was so proud of her daughter and the fight she put up.



Rylei was then taken for surgery, and although some of her organs were no longer viable due to oxygen loss, some very important ones were.

"They said her heart valves will go toward saving two other babies and the lungs will be sent off for research to see what else can be learned about Anencephaly from them," Krysta wrote.

Krysta and Dereck only got to hold onto their baby for a week. It's not fair and that pain is unimaginable. But now, two other families will get to hold their babies for a lot longer. It can't take away Krysta's pain, but it does make her happy to know that somewhere, another mama is holding a little piece of Rylei.

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If you have Gymbucks, you should spend them soon, because children's clothing retailer Gymboree is closing stores nationwide, the Wall Street Journal reports. All 900 of the Gymboree stores, including the Janie and Jack and Crazy 8 stores, are reportedly set to close as the company faces bankruptcy.

In some American malls those three stores make up the bulk of kid-specific clothing retailers, so the closures could be a major hit to local malls and shoppers. According to CNBC, Gymboree is trying to sell off the higher-end Janie and Jack brand, which operates 139 stores nationwide.

This isn't the first time Gymboree has closed stores or faced bankruptcy. It filed for bankruptcy back in June of 2017. At the time it had 1,280 stores, and it closed some 375.

For a time, it looked like Gymboree was bouncing back from those closures, but this week's news proves otherwise.

Gymboree has yet to make a public announcement, but parents are already mourning the retailer's demise comments on its Facebook page.

"My daughter is a Gymboree girl! Don't know where we're going to get reasonably priced girly clothes and accessories now," one mom writes.

"So sad. My son and daughter wear almost all Gymboree clothes," says another.

For Gymboree fans, the consolation prize may come in the form of markdowns in the coming weeks, so keep your eye on your local Gymboree, mama.

It's important to note that Gymboree Play & Music classes are no longer part of the Gymboree Group, having been sold off in 2016.

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It sounds too good to be true: Free, universal preschool for 3 and 4-year-old kids. For working parents, and those who wish they could go back to work (or even just go to the grocery store alone) the idea seems like a beautiful, if unrealistic, dream.

Except that some places—including America's capital city—have figured out how to make universal preschool a reality. In Washington, D.C., 90% of 4-year-olds and 70% of 3-year-olds attended a full-day preschool program for free, according to the Center for American Progress.

Preschool for everyone. For free.

Those two years of no-cost, high-quality preschool have a huge impact on families.

First, the preschoolers are reaping the benefits of preschool. High-quality, center-based care has a ton of benefits, but surprisingly, they're not academic. A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found children who attended high-quality center-based care for at least one year had lower rates of emotional, conduct, relationship and attention problems later in life than kids who were watched by a family member or babysitter. These benefits last longer than any temporary boost the kids get in academics.

The second benefit is economic. The incredibly expensive cost of childcare is a huge barrier to paid work for many parents who simply wouldn't be able to afford day care. When D.C. tore down this barrier, the city's maternal work force participation rate increased by more than 10%.

Universal preschool for 3 and 4 year olds has been proven to be doable and beneficial for families and the wider community.

So why isn't America moving toward universal preschool?

Well, for one thing, money.

The ways in which states and school districts fund preschool programs vary across America.

Funding for preschool programs can come from the federal, state and local governments, and even the private sector, but the ratios depend on the state you're in.

Basically, universal preschool programs have to be championed at the state level, and different states have wildly different ideas about how important preschool is, who should have access and how to fund it.

Some states fund preschool programs with gambling revenue. Others have funneled money from tobacco settlements into educating 4-year-olds. Utah famously made a bet with Goldman Sachs to fund preschool for kids from low-income homes.

The U.S. Constitution puts the responsibility of education on the states, but state constitutions vary. Some explicitly protect the rights of preschoolers to public education, while others (looking at you, Idaho) are arguably more open to interpretation on this issue.

D.C and several other states include preschool or "voluntary prekindergarten" funding in their education funding formula, a model that research suggests is the best, most stable was to fund these programs. In the 2016-17 school year, D.C. spent $16,996 in state funding per child, as overseen by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. The national average? Just $5,008.

But where do those thousands of dollars come from? Federal funding typically makes up a very small piece of the pie for K-12 funding, usually under 10%. The next biggest chunk of funding is from the state but and local governments make up the bulk of funding for K-12 education in America. So if universal preschool is part of a K-12 funding model, taxpayers are paying for it.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, 18 states got federal Preschool Development Grants in 2017, while seven states didn't invest any state money in preschool at all.

As Steve Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research told NPR, "The growing inequality between states that have moved ahead and invested in quality preschool programs and states that have done nothing is really stark."

In the Dakotas, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and New Hampshire, state dollars don't go to preschool programs (Montana just recently got its pilot program up and running).

But in Florida, voluntary prekindergarten has been free for all 4 year old children for years, and Georgia also boasts a long-standing free-to-all prekindergarten program. It's the same story in Oklahoma, where 74% of four-year-olds attend school.

Vermont, California and Wisconsin also offer Pre-K programs, and West Virginia, Alabama, New York, Michigan and Rhode Island have all increased pre-K enrollment rates in recent years. So too have Mississippi and New Jersey.

But pre-K isn't always universal preschool

What sets such state programs apart from D.C.'s universal preschool programs is that in some states, not every child will qualify for enrollment, making the preschool not "universal." And, pre-K is often just for 4-year-olds. Eighty-six percent of kids in state-funded preschool programs are 4 years old, but there are plenty of 3 year olds who are ready for preschool.

There's another layer here too that makes D.C.'s system so enviable: In D.C., preschools must offer at least 6.5 hours of care per day, but in many states pre-K is just a half-day program. In some states pre-kindergarteners might be in school for only a few hours a week. There are few jobs parents can work within that small window of time.

Still, economists estimate the potential benefits of such pre-K programs are several times greater than the costs, not because parents are getting back to work, but because of lower societal costs (like lower spending on the criminal justice system and social support programs) and greater future earning potential for pre-K graduates.

If the economic returns of one year of half day pre-K is good, then imagine what a full day of care for two years could do if expanded nationwide.

Universal preschool in other nations

It's not surprising that many other countries have already figured out what D.C. did and implemented it on a wider scale.

Since 2000 all British 4-year-olds have access to part-time preschool, and the plan was extended to 3-year-old children in 2005. No surprise, maternal workforce participation rates went up there, too.

In Norway, almost all preschoolers go to free preschool and the practice is regarded as a citizen's right after 30 years of steadily increasing enrollment.

France has it. Finland has it. Spain has it. Mexico has it. China is aiming for it, with a goal of getting 85% of 3 to 6 year old kids into preschool by 2020.

Closer to home, the Canadian province of Québec has something that's not quite universal preschool (the demand is too high to get all the kids into the high-quality center-based care), but rather a steeply subsidized childcare program that saw women's workforce participation go from 74% to about 87% over a couple decades, CBC reports.

The rest of Canada is still waiting for relief from sky-high day care costs and so, of course, is America. But the blueprint for it is right there in the capital city of the United States.

Universal preschool has made D.C. a better place for families, and it's time to make it truly universal for all Americans.

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Three was not enough for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Mom and dad to North, Saint and Chicago are expecting again.

The story broke earlier this month, but this week Kim appeared on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" and confirmed everything People and E! have been attributing to inside Kardashian sources.

Host Andy Cohen, a father-to-be himself, asked Kim to confirm if the leaked sex of the baby was also accurate.

    "It's a boy," Kim told him, revealing that she's the accidental source of the leak. "It's out there. I got drunk at our Christmas Eve party, and I told some people, but I can't remember who I told."

    Like Chicago, this baby will be born via surrogate, and Kim says he's due quite soon.

    Kim has previously talked about how the decision to grow her family through gestational surrogacy was a hard one, but the only one that made sense for her after two difficult pregnancies.

    "Anyone that says or thinks it is just the easy way out is just completely wrong. I think it is so much harder to go through it this way, because you are not really in control," she told Entertainment Tonight when expecting Chicago.

    "Obviously you pick someone that you completely trust and that you have a good bond and relationship with, but it is still … knowing that I was able to carry my first two babies and not my baby now, it's hard for me," she explained at the time.

    One of six kids herself, it's not surprising that Kim wants a large family (considering how close she is with her siblings) and, according to Kim, Kanye's been campaigning for more children for a while.

    "Kanye wants to have more, though. He's been harassing me," Kardashian said on a 2018 episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. "He wants like seven. He's like stuck on seven."

    Four is still pretty far from seven, but maybe Kanye and Kim will compromise a bit on family size. Kim has previously said four children would be her limit.

    [Update: This post was originally published on January 2, 2019. It was updated when Kardashian confirmed the news.]

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