What babies see

2 weeksHave you ever wondered what the world looks like to an infant, or even to a 6-month old?

An ophthalmologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and a bunch of scientists and engineers at REBIScan have developed an app called BabySee that lets you see the world through the eyes of a baby, aged from a few days to a year. Simply point your camera at something, and use the slider to choose the age of the baby (increments of one week for the first three months, then of one month until one year of age). Continue reading

Breastfeeding: let’s talk more about mom’s health

A couple of days ago, I listened to a TEDMED 2014 talk by Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, director of the Women’s Health Services Research Unit at the University of Pittsburgh. The point of her talk was to raise awareness about the fact that breastfeeding may be a good thing for the long-term health of mothers and that adequate support should be more widespread (be it support at time of delivery in hospitals or longer maternity leaves). Continue reading

Epigenetics, media, and worrying pregnant women

fetusDon’t do this. Don’t do that. Eat this. Eat that.
No, I’m not ordering a kid about. Just telling a pregnant woman how she should behave.

No one is denying that a healthy lifestyle is important during pregnancy, but it sometimes feel as if too much emphasis is placed on a woman’s individual influence on her future baby’s health. In a comment published in Nature this week, Sarah Richardson, associate professor at Harvard University, and colleagues express their concern about how “careless discussions of epigenetic research on how early life affects health across generations could harm women”. Continue reading

Childcaring changes a father’s brain activity pattern

Among the editors’ picks of yesterday’s Science issue was a paper published in PNAS and entitled “Father’s brain is sensitive to childcare experiences”. Brain imaging is not my area of expertise, so in such a case, I would usually just read the paper’s abstract (which sums up what was done in the study and what was found), and move on. This time however, I also looked at the metrics linked to the paper (how much the study was relayed in newspapers, blogs, social networks, etc.).

I expected that such a topic would have been picked up by many news outlets. It turns out that it had not (at least not yet), but there were a few tweets about the study that bothered me. One of them said something to the point that hands-on childcaring could rewire a father’s brain the same way a pregnancy did a mother’s brain. Continue reading

Sudden infant death syndrome and brainstem abnormalities

Many aspects of our lives are more or less governed by fashions, and parenting is no exception. From the rather dry mode of parenting of our grandparents (Babies fed and changed? Then let them cry themselves to sleep) to some of the extremes of the “attachment parenting” of today, parenting styles have varied together with recommendations of the medical community, traditions, innovations and social trends. In some cases, different school of thoughts may coexist: pacifier or no pacifier, baby in recliner next to parent or in a wrap carrier on parent, etc. In others, change should be readily embraced as a crucial step to improve babies’ health and safety. A baby’s sleep position belongs to the latter category. Continue reading

Baby vs smartphone

It’s not unusual for me to sit on a bench in a park for a half hour and see a dozen mothers pass by pushing their babies and toddlers in strollers (I live in a very family-friendly neighborhood). What has struck me recently is that most of these mothers push the stroller idly, meanwhile talking on the phone, silently texting or simply web-browsing. To be fair, some of them also push the stroller while running – and as a rather poor jogger, I’m impressed. But regarding the “smartphone-wired” mothers, I could not help but wonder: aside from the immediate danger of hitting a tree or missing a step, is such a parental behavior possibly affecting the child? Continue reading