Two Great Posts in One

Kangaroo Care (snuggling a premature infant skin-to-skin 24/7) has been a topic I’ve meant to research and write about. But this post has an article which sums it up nicely. Why reinvent the wheel? — just go and read it.

Also on that post (the first half of it), it talks about another topic related to premature infants that I’d never thought of before: additives, including alcohol, dyes and sweeteners, being given to premature infants at amounts much higher than they should receive for their weight. The article urges that medicines given to premies be manufactured in forms that are free from unnecessary additives. I guess I assumed that most medications would be given through an IV; but it makes sense that if a premature infant needs a medication that is available in oral form, that it would be given it. Unfortunately, a lot of these medicines contain too much of bad things, including alcohol, red dye and aspartame. Can anyone explain why a medication given to a child of, say, less than a year old need to include dye? The purpose of the dye is to make it look tasty and palatable, and I don’t think infants really care that much; even if older infants do, premies likely never even see the medicine coming, so certainly don’t need for it to look pretty. Sweetness is an acquired taste, to a certain degree. While the human tongue is attuned to sweetness, medicines don’t have to be sweet (a spoonful of sugar, à la Mary Poppins) to make it go down — especially babies too tiny to fight nasty-flavored medicines going into their mouths. May not be pleasant for the wee babes, but they really can’t struggle too much, the way a child of even six months can. Besides, things are overly sweetened these days — and I say that as someone with a very developed sweet tooth! (I’ve recently given up sugar, and am surprised at how sickeningly sweet my kids’ jam is on their PB&J; I never used to notice it.) Even if these babies can taste well, and should be given stuff that is palatable, it doesn’t have to be as sweet as it is made in order for them not to dislike it. And don’t even get me started on alcohol for infants! Here we have pregnant women who risk society’s wrath if they ever take so much as a sip of an alcoholic beverage while pregnant, yet these babies (who should still be gestating but were born too early) are getting alcohol straight from their medicine, not even diluted via the mother’s blood-alcohol content. Kinda makes ya think, hmm?

So, if you are pregnant now, or know someone who is, or are planning on having more children in the future, go read this article, because there is always the possibility that you will have a premature baby (even if you think you won’t because you’re so healthy or you’ve never had a problem before, you could be involved in a car wreck and have the placenta dislodged — rare possibility, but still there — so still read it). Many hospitals may be unfamiliar with kangaroo care, and tell you instead that the babies need to be left alone so that they reduce the risk of infection. That is a consideration, but one to counterbalance against all the benefits of kangaroo care laid out in the article. At least read the article and discuss it with your care-givers. And nurses may also not even think about all the additives they are giving your baby along with the medication. You can help educate them, and perhaps save your baby from some negative effects of, say, alcohol poisoning.

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