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HiPP's A-Z of pregnancy & child health

The A-Z contains information on many aspects of pregnancy
and child health. It is arranged alphabetically so you can find what you are looking for with ease. If you are at all concerned about your health or your child’s health, please consult your health professional.

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Caesarean Section

A caesarean section may be planned ('elective caesarean') or carried out as an emergency procedure (if, for example, the baby is in distress or if the mother's blood pressure is too high). An elective caesarean usually takes place around 39 weeks and is often carried out using an epidural anaesthetic.

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Caffeine in Pregnancy

Pregnant women are advised to limit their intake of caffeine to no more than 300mg per day (and recent research has suggested this limit should be 200mg). This is because high levels of caffeine can lead to low birthweight or even miscarriage. Caffeine occurs naturally in foods and drinks such as chocolate, tea and coffee, and is also contained in some soft drinks and 'energy' drinks.

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Car Seats

You must by law use a special car seat for your baby when in the car. Rear facing car seats provide a greater protection for the baby’s head, neck and spine, so the baby should not go in the front facing car seat until they have reached the manufacturers recommended age and weight. It is far safer to have the car seat in the back of the car rather than the front (this applies to both rear facing and front facing car seats).

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

During pregnancy, an increase in fluid can cause swelling around the channel of the nerves in the wrist (the carpal tunnel), resulting in tingling, pain and numbness in the hands. The symptoms can appear at any time but most commonly begin in the fifth and sixth month of pregnancy. For most women it is only mild and temporary.

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Cerebral Palsy

A disorder that results, in most cases, from damage to the developing brain before, during or just after birth, or in early childhood. The condition has different symptoms depending upon the area of the brain affected and the extent of the damage and cerebral palsy may not therefore be recognised at first. A baby with this condition may be floppy, have difficulties in feeding, and be late in sitting up unsupported. Although it cannot be cured, much can be done to help children with cerebral palsy by a specialist team of health professionals.

Visit Scope for more information: www.scope.org.uk.

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Chickenpox (Varicella)

Chickenpox is a common, infectious childhood disease. Usually mild in children, it is more serious in adults. Chickenpox starts with a rash and slight fever. The rash develops two to three weeks after infection. The small, red itchy spots soon become fluid-filled blisters. The blisters then dry up and scab over. Scratching the blisters may lead to infection and scarring. Chickenpox is highly infectious from about two days before the rash appears infectious until all the spots are dry and crusted over. An attack usually gives immunity for life, but the virus remains dormant in the body and can reappear as shingles later in life.

Most pregnant women (around 95%) will have had the disease and already be immune. Pregnant women who have never had the disease (or who are unsure if they have had it), however, should try to avoid children with chickenpox, since the disease can be serious in pregnancy. If they are exposed, they should contact their GP, midwife or obstetrician at once. A blood test will establish if they are immune.

A doctor should also be consulted if a breastfeeding mother who has never had chickenpox comes into contact with the virus, or if a newborn baby (under 4 weeks old) is exposed to the disease.

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Babies and children can usually cough and clear the obstruction - if they can cry or talk afterwards, they can breathe. If they cannot clear the obstruction themselves, help them in the following way:

Babies under 12 months

  • Hold the baby face down along your arm with their legs either side of your arm and their head below the level of the chest.
  • Give up to 5 blows between the baby’s shoulder blades with the flat of your fingers - checking each time to see if the obstruction has cleared.

What if this doesn't work?

Turn the baby over (face up, but again with the head below the level of the chest) and use your first two fingers to give up to 5 sharp thrusts on the chest, checking between each thrust.

Keep repeating these two procedures until the obstruction clears. If it doesn’t work, keep trying and ask someone to dial 999.

Toddlers and children over 12 months

  • Look in the baby or child’s mouth, and if the object can be seen remove it carefully. But do not try to reach blindly into the back of the throat
  • Put the baby or child over your lap, face down - or bend them forwards - so that the head is lower than the chest
  • Give up to 5 blows between the shoulder blades with the flat of your hand - checking each time to see if the obstruction has cleared.

What if this doesn't work?

If this doesn’t work, kneel behind the (standing) child and put both arms around them. Make a fist with one hand and place it just above the belly button, with your thumb facing inwards. Grasp your fist with the other hand and thrust inwards and upwards. Do this up to 5 times, checking each time to see if the obstruction has cleared. (These are known as abdominal thrusts and should not be performed on young babies).

Repeat these two procedures until the obstruction clears. If it doesn’t work, keep trying and ask someone to dial 999.

Has the baby/child loss consciousness?

If the baby or child loses consciousness, and you know how to do it, carry out CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, also known as mouth-to-mouth) at a rate of 5 rescue breaths then 30 compressions.

See ‘First Aid’ for information about first aid courses.

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Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

This is a diagnostic test carried out during the 10th-12th week of pregnancy (earlier than an amniocentesis). A small sample of tissue is taken for analysis from the outer edge of the placenta. It may be offered if you have a family history of genetic disorders, or if you have previously had an affected child.

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This procedure involves surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis. It may be carried out for religious or cultural reasons or may be medically required.

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Cleft Lip/Palate

Present at birth, a cleft lip is a vertical split in the upper lip. It may only be small or may extend up to the nose. A cleft palate means there is a gap in the palate - the roof of the mouth - which may be open to the nasal cavity behind. Both cleft lip/palate are usually repaired surgically.

For more advice and information visit the Cleft Lip and Palate Association: www.clapa.com.

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Clicky Hips (Developmental Hip Dysplasia)

Babies are examined after birth to check whether they have ‘clicky hips’. This is a disorder where the head of the thigh bone does not fit properly into the socket. This condition more commonly affects girls and may be apparent in one or both hips. Treatment consists of splints worn for about 3 months until the condition corrects itself - the baby will be splinted into a frog-like position.

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Cold Sores

Caused by the herpes simplex virus, which lies dormant most of the time, cold sores periodically appear around the lips. Regular treatments such as Zovirax are not recommended during pregnancy, and so a pregnant woman suffering from a cold sore should contact their doctor or a pharmacist for treatment advice.

If a baby/child develops a cold sore, advice should be sought from a doctor or pharmacist on how to treat this. Try to prevent a baby/child who has a cold sore from touching their eyes as this can spread the virus and cause a serious eye infection. Contact a doctor if a sore develops on or around the eye area

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Caused by viruses, these infections often occur frequently during infancy and childhood, as babies and children build up their immunity. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice on helping to soothe symptoms.

Colds/flu can sometimes lead to a secondary infection such as tonsillitis, ear infections, conjunctivitis and bronchiolitis. If the cold causes difficulties feeding, an infant may also become dehydrated.

If the mucus is more watery and accompanied by an itchy nose/sneezing or watery/itchy eyes then the child may be suffering from hay fever.

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Many babies have crying sessions at particular times in the day - often in the early evening. We don’t know why, but it’s very difficult to cope with - and it can go on for hours.

Sometimes, especially in babies around 3 months, the crying is thought to be associated with colic - a kind of stomach cramp that comes in waves. Babies may scream and pull up their legs and they cannot be comforted. A doctor or pharmacist should be able to give advice on treatments for colic.

If you think your baby may have colic, keep a record of when and for how long your baby cries and consult your health visitor or doctor.

CRY-SIS is a support organisation for families having difficulty in coping with a constantly crying baby: www.cry-sis.org.uk.

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Constipation - In Babies

Every baby will have a different pattern of bowel movements. It is possible, however, for some babies to experience constipation, particularly if they are being bottle fed. The most common cause of constipation in babies is dehydration.

If the baby is being bottle fed it is important to make sure that feeds are prepared correctly and it may be necessary to offer cooled boiled water between feeds.

Babies being breastfed are less likely to become constipated and stools tend to be softer and more frequent than those of formula-fed babies. If they do become constipated, however, try to offer more feeds (making sure that you drink plenty of fluids as well).

For babies who have started weaning and who are constipated, try offering cool boiled water, or a little diluted fruit or prune juice in a beaker (diluted one part fruit juice to ten parts cool, boiled water), stewed prunes, or other stewed fruit.

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Constipation - In Pregnancy

This can be a common problem. Drink plenty of fluids, and eat extra fibre - wholegrain breakfast cereals and bread and lots of fruit and vegetables.

Visit www.eatwell.gov.uk for more information about healthy eating during pregnancy.

Exercise also helps - for information on exercising safely during pregnancy click here.

If the problem persists discuss this with your GP.

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Convulsions (or fits) can occur in young children and are frequently caused by a high fever or rapid rise in temperature (febrile convulsions). The area of the brain that controls body temperature does not fully develop until a child is around 4.

If your child has a convulsion, stay with them to make sure they come to no harm. They will usually go straight to sleep afterwards. Put them in the recovery position, on their side, and call the doctor or ambulance.

If your baby suffers from febrile convulsions and starts to run a high temperature, try to cool them down by removing extra clothes and bedding. Offer extra fluids (breastmilk, if breastfeeding, or cool, boiled water). Infant paracetamol or ibuprofen liquid preparations may also be given, but it is important that you follow the instructions on the pack. Check with a health professional for further information.

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Cot Death (SIDS)

Most cot deaths (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) occur in babies under six months. We do not know exactly why they happen, but some theories suggest that affected babies may have problems with regulation of breathing, or temperature control.

To reduce the risk of cot death:

  • Do not smoke during or after pregnancy - and do not allow others to smoke around the baby
  • ‘Back to sleep’ - put baby on his or her back to sleep, with feet at the bottom of the cot or pram (‘Feet to Foot’)
  • Do not cover baby’s head (or use a hat) when they are asleep
  • Avoid overheating the baby. Keep baby’s room at a temperature of around 18°C (bedroom temperature)
  • Avoid excess bedding (bedding for babies). Do not use duvets, quilts or pillows for babies under 1 year old
  • Check their tummy (not hands or feet) to make sure they are not too hot
  • Do not put the cot next to a radiator, and place the cot out of direct sunlight making sure that it is not within reach of any kind of cord e.g. light or curtain pull
  • It is ideal to have a new mattress for each new baby. However, if this is not possible check that the mattress is undamaged and that it is thoroughly clean before re-using.
  • Don’t share a bed with your baby - particularly if you or your partner have been drinking, are very tired (or taking medication that causes drowsiness), if either of you smoke, or if the baby was premature or low birthweight
  • Current advice is for babies to sleep in a cot in their parents’ room for the first six months
  • Do not fall asleep with your baby on the sofa - it is not safe. Always put them back in their cot to sleep.
  • Settling your baby to sleep (day and night) with a dummy can reduce the risk of cot death, even if the dummy falls out while your baby is asleep.(If breastfeeding, do not begin to give a dummy until your baby is one month old to ensure breastfeeding is well established.) Don't force your baby to take a dummy if he or she doesn't want it and never coat the dummy in anything sweet.
  • If your baby is unwell, seek medical advice.

The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths can provide more information, advice and support on cot death (SIDS) visit: www.fsid.org.uk.

You can download the Department of Health leaflet ‘reduce the risk of cot death by clicking here.

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Most babies and children suffer from coughs and colds which will clear up without treatment. If you are concerned about your baby’s cough, ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice. More information on coughs can also be found in the following sections: bronchiolitis and asthma.

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Cows' Milk

Cows’ milk should not be given as a main drink until babies are at least 12 months, although small quantities may be used from 6 months of age in preparing baby foods. Cows’ milk used in preparing baby foods, or given to babies over 12 months, should be whole, full-fat milk (and you may prefer to choose organic milk for better nutritional content and taste). Semi-skimmed milk is not recommended for children under 2 years of age, and skimmed milk is not recommended under 5 years of age.

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Cracked/Sore Nipples

Some mums find their nipples become sore or cracked when they start breastfeeding. To help avoid this, it is important to ensure that your baby is correctly positioned and has 'latched on' well (it's a good idea to seek advice from your midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding counsellor). Check your baby is taking the whole of the nipple and surrounding area well in when feeding. Leave your nipples exposed to dry naturally if possible after feeding. Special nipple cream can also help to prevent soreness; ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

If you do become sore, you may need to give that breast a rest from feeding for 24 hours (or try using a nipple shield). Traditional remedies include putting a cabbage leaf over your nipple inside your bra. If resting the breast it is important to continue to express your breast milk, either by hand or with a pump, otherwise you may develop mastitis.

Visit The Breastfeeding Network for more advice information and support: www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk.

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Cradle Cap

This is very common in babies, has nothing to do with cleanliness or hygiene and it is not contagious. Cradle cap usually appears within the first 3 months of life, and generally clears up by the time the child is 2 years old. Thick yellowish scales cover parts of baby’s scalp.

Cradle cap requires no specific treatment and will eventually clear up on its own. if you wish, however, you can obtain special cradle cap shampoo, but perhaps the most effective treatment is to smooth some baby oil or olive oil on baby’s scalp, leave it for some hours or overnight to soften the scales and loosen them, and then wash it off with baby shampoo. Do not pick at the cradle cap or it may become infected. talk to your health visitor or doctor if you are concerned.

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Cramp In Pregnancy

This can be common in legs or feet in the latter part of pregnancy. Firm massage can help, and flexing of the foot. Acupuncture may also relieve cramp in pregnancy.

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Croup is quite common in babies and young children. It usually starts with cold-type symptoms. The airway from the throat to the lungs then becomes inflamed and restricted, causing noisy breathing and a harsh, barking cough. If your child has croup, and is distressed, sit them upright on your lap. This will provide comfort and reassurance and help to stop them crying, which makes symptoms worse. Coughing may be eased by steamy conditions, e.g. sit in a steamy bathroom with the child, or sit in the kitchen while a pan of water is boiling. Make sure nobody smokes around your child as smoke may irritate their airway. If your child has a high temperature, medicines such as infant paracetamol will help to lower it (follow the instructions on the pack). Occasionally croup may cause severe breathing difficulties - in this case seek medical assistance.

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Toddlers and children often fall over and suffer from cuts and grazes. Just clean the graze with warm water and gauze pads, pat dry, and use a dressing or plaster if necessary.

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Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

Cystic fibrosis is a serious genetic disorder whose main feature is the secretion of sticky viscous mucus - not only in the nose, throat and airways, but also in the intestines. Highly specialised treatment for CF - drugs, physiotherapy, special diet - improves quality and length of life.

Visit the Cystic Fibrosis Trust for more information: http://www.cftrust.org.uk/

Newborns are routinely tested for CF at about 7 days - as part of the newborn blood spot screening or 'heel prick' test. Click here for further information.

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Have you got a question?

If you want more advice, please ask a question or visit our forum.

Otherwise, please get in touch with the HiPP Baby Club.