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Most preemie babies grow into adulthood with no serious health complications, says new study

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With preterm births in the U.S. on the rise for the fourth year in a row, parents and healthcare providers are understandably most concerned with the immediate needs of premature babies. The days and nights in the NICU are so hard and parents are often worries about their baby's long-term health prospects—but there is really good news for preemie parents this week.

Your preemie baby is probably going to grow up to be just fine. A new study out of Sweden shows that a majority of people born prematurely from the 1970s through the 1990s survived to adulthood with no serious health complications.

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The new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), looked at data on babies born in Sweden from 1973-1997, 5.8% of whom were born preterm. Researchers then looked at the health stats of those people through 2015, when they were 18-43 years old. The study examined whether they had any diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, lung disease, and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Of the people who were born prematurely, 55% were alive in 2015 and had no serious physical or mental health issues. That's not much worse than the 63% of people who were born full-term.

"Our findings reflect the apparent resilience of preterm birth survivors in maintaining good health," the study's lead author, Dr. Casey Crump of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, told Reuters. "Despite increased risks of several chronic disorders, the majority can still have good overall health in adulthood."

Of course, premature birth has so many risks for infants—as the development of their lungs, eyes, digestive systems and more isn't complete by the time they're born. It is hard to be born early, but the odds of survival of premature babies has steadily gone up since the 1970s and the preemie babies who are now in their 30s and 40s are proof that today's little ones have a good chance of growing up into healthy, strong adults.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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The World Health Organization and other organizations agree that pregnant people have the right to have their partner or another companion present at their birth, but recently several New York hospitals barred partners from delivery wards. Pushback from the government forced them to reverse course—but a recent case has some hospitals tightening visitor policies without issuing outright bans.

A New York state father made headlines this week after he hid his coronavirus symptoms from hospital staff at the University of Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital so that he could be present for the birth of his child. When the mother started showing coronavirus symptoms shortly after giving birth, the father told hospital staff that he had been exposed and was symptomatic when he came to the hospital.

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"After the mother exhibited symptoms, and the OB team learned that the partner had been exposed to COVID-19 and was symptomatic, the patient was tested and all staff who had been in contact were informed of their possible exposure," a hospital spokesperson explained in a statement to media.

Thankfully, no staff members tested positive and the family has been sent home to quarantine, but the case highlighted the need for stricter screening of visitors. Before this case, the hospital asked visitors questions to confirm their health status. Now, they're checking temperatures at the door and every 12 hours for the duration of their visit.

"It was purely an honor system before," UR Medicine spokesman Chip Partner told The Democrat and Chronicle. "Now we're adding the temperature check."

"Our health care team understands how important it is to pregnant patients to have a support person with them during labor, and therefore, additional safeguards have been added to allow this to continue safely," the hospital's statement to media explains.

It continues: "We will continue to weigh all the medical evidence available to continue to make the best possible decision for all our patients, visitors and staff."

It would be heartbreaking for a parent to not be present at the birth of their child, but it would be even more heartbreaking if other babies contracted coronavirus. It is important that people be honest with medical care providers during this time of crisis.

News

Looking for more creative activities to keep littles entertained while isolating during the coronavirus outbreak? We hear you, mama. Quarantine life isn't easy, that's why we were thrilled to hear that the Library of Congress is collaborating with Captain Underpants and Dog Man author Dav Pilkey to create weekly video drawing lessons for kids.

Starting today, their website will include free videos and downloadable activities for kids to participate in. And, on Fridays at 8 am, viewers can enjoy Pelkey's reading sessions from his books on its website and social media feeds.

In a new video, Pilkey explains that he's stuck indoors just like his young fans are and is spending some time drawing his Little Petey the Cat character.

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"And one thing a lot of people don't know is that little Petey is actually based on my mom. My mom is one of the most optimistic, positive people I've ever met. Even when I was a kid and I was having a hard time at school she always had my back, and she always believed in me. Even sometimes when I didn't believe in myself. And little Petey is a lot like my mom. He's always looking on the bright side of life and I think that's an important thing to do, especially when times are tough," Pilkey says, before reminding kids to keep drawing, reading and doing good during the pandemic.

It's a message kids (and moms) need these days.

"The Library of Congress is delighted to join forces with our friend Dav Pilkey and the nimble team at Scholastic to bring you Dav Pilkey at Home," Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden told Publishers Weekly. "Our hope is to combine Dav's artistic gifts and charisma with the wealth of knowledge in our collections. We know that Dav's message of Do Good and the Library's message of Engage, Inspire, Inform are natural partners and will bring children, parents and teachers many happy and fruitful moments during this difficult time."

Each show will also feature tips from Pilkey for children to act out scenes from Dog Man books and for creating new characters of their own. This initiative truly comes as no surprise as Pilkey has made it his mission to promote literacy and creativity in children over the last two decades.

Be sure to tune in and if you need even more Pilkey, check out his other hilarious and heart-warming books.

News

Mothers carry an incredibly heavy mental load during the best of times and during this pandemic, we are facing unprecedented psychological challenges. And a new Pew Research Center survey found women are reporting higher rates of psychological distress right now, compared to men.

According to Pew, people financially affected by COVID-19 and those juggling childcare after school and day care closures are more likely to be psychologically impacted by this crisis. Women in America are both more likely to be living paycheck-to-paycheck and more likely to be responsible for children when schools close, so it makes sense that we are more distressed right now.

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But COVID-19 cannot be an excuse for society to abandon mothers—we will need to support each other in the coming months more than ever.

Marisa Young is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at McMaster University. According to Young, during the pandemic parents may "endure more than what might be psychologically manageable," even if they have the privilege of working from home. "During this outbreak, parents are suffering," Young writes for The Conversation.

She continues: "They are dealing with one of the most consequential impacts on the psychological health of the modern-day workforce: work-family conflict. This conflict has to do with the competing demands of paid work and family obligations. Additional workplace closures and social distancing practices will make it even harder for working parents over the next few months."

If you're not flourishing in this new world, mama, don't worry. No one is.

"The situation feels impossible for two-parent homes where both partners can work from home—and gets exponentially harder for single parents, kids with special needs, families experiencing homelessness, and parents who have to work outside of the home. Add financial worries, lack of proper technology for online distance learning, and logistical challenges like grocery shopping and managing outside time while social distancing, and it can feel downright paralyzing," Cheryl Wischhover writes for Vox.

It's not you, mama. It really is this hard

Single mom Devonne Moise of Charlotte, North Carolina was already struggling financially before the pandemic hit, and how she's trying to homeschool her children, she told Christina Bolling of the Charlotte Observer. "I just feel like, God, I'm trying," she told Boiling from the front porch of her home where her children were trying to do schoolwork but barriers like missing Chromebook cables and WIFi disconnection were slowing their progress.

"My kids say, 'Mom, as long as you stay positive, we'll know it's okay.' So I don't let them see me frustrated," she said. "But I'm just so tired." Moise said.

She's not just physically tired, she's emotionally spent. Extreme fatigue is a symptom of depression and psychologists say the pandemic is increasing our stress levels, anxiety, depression and panic attacks.

Even parents have panic attacks

According to Pew, almost 20% of U.S. adults say they've had a physical reaction to pandemic news in recent weeks, and this is especially true for people who are facing financial hardship. For many, these physical reactions come in the form of panic attacks.

Google's data shows that searches for "panic attack symptoms" are up 100% since the pandemic started and there has been a surge in calls to mental health hotlines.

If you are suffering from panic attacks know that you are not alone. "The piece that gets people going in a classic panic attack is often that they feel as though they can't breathe," Sheila Addison, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, tells Popular Science.

Addison recommends those in the midst of a panic attack attempt to slow their breathing, and focus on counting to four while inhaling, take a pause, and then exhale to four. Repeating that process doesn't instantly end a panic attack but it does diminish it, she explains.

Ask for help when you need it

If fear and panic attacks are taking over your life, ask for help, mama. In a piece for The Washington Post, single mom and writer Pooja Makhijani explained how her anxiety was exacerbated as COVID-19 cases in her home state of New Jersey skyrocketed. When she found herself panicking she reached out.

"I'm asking for help, which for now comes mostly in the form of phone calls for me and virtual play dates for my daughter," she writes.

"And I'm making myself available to others—as a resource for recipes or home schooling activities and as a listening ear to those whose challenges are different from mine. Being open and vulnerable has served me well in past difficult situations, and now while we are social distancing, I'm reaching into that well of giving often."

We mothers can support each other, but we must also demand companies, employers and lawmakers support us.

There are several well-researched ways companies can support workers' mental health if they are working remotely, and flexibility is a big one.

Government support for those who cannot work from home is important, too, and lawmakers may need to consider innovative ways to help America's stressed mothers. Dr. Eric J. Brandt, a National Clinician Scholar at the Yale University School of Medicine is calling on the government to expand SNAP and WIC to allow users to order groceries online using Instacart or other services.

But right now, even mothers who don't need SNAP or WIC are having difficulty ordering groceries online, something that is certainly contributing to mothers' psychological distress and the stress of delivery workers.

Bottom line: Mothers need support to keep working, support if they can't work, and support to feed their families during this challenging time. And when the curve flattens and we are able to leave our homes, affordable childcare and maternal mental health support will be key to rebuilding a post-pandemic America.

News

We've been hearing about more and more parents who have to be separated from their children due to exposure to the coronavirus—Andy Cohen, host of Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, being one of them. Last week we reported the news of Andy's separation from his 1-year-old son Ben due to his COVID-19 diagnosis, and today, we get to (happily!) report on their reunion.

Andy shared, "I've hosted reunions for years, but yesterday's was the best one yet," and melted all of our hearts instantly.

Andy Cohen’s Instagram profile post: “I’ve hosted reunions for years, but yesterday’s was the best one yet. ♥️”

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On his SiriusXM show Radio Andy he talked about how sweet it was saying he raced in to see his son after taping the show.

"I opened the door that leads me down the hallway and when I open that door, he knows that I'm coming, always. That's usually a sign, so he usually gets excited. And Theresa who's my superhuman baby nurse was like, 'Who's that? Is that your Daddy?' So I peeked my head around the corner and was standing there and he looked over and his eyes were just—you know he has such big wide eyes—he looked over and his mouth was just, wide open with delight is how I would describe it."

Cohen continued: "It was not like a movie reunion where he ran over or anything like that. He stayed there, but he was definitely delighted. And I didn't overdo it either cause I didn't wanna, ya know... I guess I did, actually, because I picked him up and started throwing him up in the air, so yeah, actually, I did overdo it and he was loving that."

We can't blame you for overdoing it, Andy. We'd be right there in the same enthusiastic boat as you.

Because being separated from our children is heartbreaking to even think about. Many healthcare workers are self-isolating right now for the greater good of their communities and families and when Cohen announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on March 20th, he thanked those selfless and heroic medical workers in his post. He also used his large platform to remind his followers of the importance in staying home. (Which we're grateful for.)

He told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb of TODAY, "I'm still kind of trying to social distance from him as much as I can even though the doctors say it's OK." We're with you, Andy—we understand your worry and we understand your happiness, too. We're glad you're feeling better, and we're so happy to see you two together again.

Watch What Happens Live (at home) is back, so we'll be checking in with you there.

News
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