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.


Food poisoning may be caused by salmonella. The most likely sources of salmonella are poultry products. Vulnerable groups such as babies, children, pregnant women, the frail and the elderly should avoid foods containing raw egg (mousses, home-made mayonnaise etc) and any eggs given should be well cooked. Always wash hands after handling raw meat or poultry and make sure that raw foods are stored separately from ready-to-eat foods.

For more information on salmonella, food poisoning and keeping food safe visit:

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This is a highly contagious, very itchy skin infestation, often appearing between the fingers, on the wrists, genitals and armpits. It is caused by a mite which burrows into the skin to lay eggs. It is generally treated with an insecticide applied to the whole body - and all those who have been in close contact with the sufferer should also be treated.

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Scarlet Fever

This is a severe throat infection (also referred to as scarlatina), sometimes seen in childhood, caused by a strain of streptococcal bacteria. Symptoms include sore throat, fever, headaches, vomiting. A rash may appear and the surface of the tongue may become red and swollen. A doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics.

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Seat Belts

If you are pregnant, seat belts should go above and below the bump, not over it!

To download your free copy of the government publication "Buckle up for Baby and You" click here.

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Separation Anxiety

Towards the end of their first year of life, babies often start to fear being separated from their parents. This is a perfectly normal stage and will pass.

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Sex During And After Pregnancy

During a normal pregnancy you can continue to have sex throughout the pregnancy. If you are having any problems with your pregnancy, or have a history of miscarriages, ask your doctor or midwife for advice.

After the birth sex may be the last thing on your mind! You can begin to have sex again when you, and your partner, feel it is the right time both emotionally and physically. Some women prefer to wait until after their six-week postnatal check, others go for it sooner. Many couples seem to resume their sex life somewhere between one and three months after the birth, although there is also a minority who wait longer. There are no set rules.

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Some women experience a small show of jelly like mucus, which is often a sign that labour is about to start (although not necessarily straight away). It can have blood stained streaks through it. The show comes from the plug of mucus sealing the neck of the cervix becoming dislodged, ready for the birth.

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Sibling Rivalry

The competition that often exists between brothers and sisters. For more information, top tips and advice visit Parentline Plus:

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SIDS - Cot Death

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 that 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: To download the Department of Health leaflet ?reduce the risk of cot death, click here.

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Slapped Cheek Disease

Also known as Fifth disease or Parvovirus, this is an infectious disease that mainly affects children and causes a rash that starts on the cheeks - hence the name. Speak to your doctor if you come into contact with slapped cheek disease and you are pregnant, since this infection can be harmful to the baby. Immunity can be checked with a blood test (around 60% of women are immune) - although most babies of pregnant women infected with slapped cheek disease are not affected.

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Smoking is harmful during pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage, low-birth weight, premature birth and even stillbirth. It can also result in health and developmental problems for your baby, including a higher risk of cot death.

For help and information on giving up smoking, visit NHS Stop Smoking Services: or contact the NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline - 0800 169 9 169 (open daily from 12 noon to 9.00 p.m.)

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Soft Spot

Also known as the ?fontanelle?, this is the name for either one of two membrane-covered areas on a baby?s skull. The most obvious one is on top of the baby?s head (the anterior fontanelle). This will gradually disappear over the course of the first 18 months as the baby grows and the bones of the skull move closer together. A sunken fontanelle can indicate dehydration.

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Spina Bifida

This is a type of neural tube defect which occurs when the bones, usually at the bottom of the spine, do not join properly. As a result, when a baby is born, part of the spinal cord is exposed which causes varying degrees of nerve damage. Antenatal blood tests measure the levels of AFP (Alpha-fetoprotein) - high levels are associated with spina bifida - and 90 per cent of cases are picked up during ultrasound scans.

Taking folic acid during early pregnancy reduces the risk of spina bifida. Click here for foods that will also help increase folic acid levels.

The Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (ASBAH) can provide more information, advice and support - visit

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Spotting during pregnancy is when a small amount of vaginal bleeding similar to, but lighter than, a period. It can vary in colour from red to brown. Spotting can be quite common during the first three months of pregnancy.

It's not usually serious, but it's always best to take any bleeding seriously and call your doctor, midwife or hospital straight away for advice. You may need a vaginal examination or an ultrasound to rule out any complications and to make sure that you and your baby are fine.

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Newborn babies often have a squint in the first few weeks of life. If it persists beyond three months, ask to be referred to an eye specialist. It is important that it is treated as soon as possible, especially if there is a family history.

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It is recommended that, all equipment used for bottle feeding should be sterilised before use. This includes bottles, teats and breast pumps. Dummies should also be sterilised throughout the first year. Equipment should be thoroughly cleaned in hot soapy water before sterilising - either by steam, microwave or cold water sterilising methods. Equipment used for preparing and feeding your baby are the weaning stage, e.g. bowls, spoons, chopping boards, do not need to be sterilised but should be thoroughly cleaned with hot soapy water both before and after feeding.

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Sticky Eye

Babies are very prone to sticky eye. To clean the eyes:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly
  • Using a small piece of cotton gauze dampened in cool, boiled water, gently wipe baby?s eye from the outside corner to the inside corner (near the nose)
  • Wipe once, then discard the cotton gauze, and repeat the process using a fresh piece
  • Resist the urge to scrub or pick!

If the sticky eye persists or gets worse, consult your doctor.

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Do not use tweezers to remove bee or wasp stings, but scrape them out if possible with the edge of a card (such as a credit card) or a blunt knife. If a child is stung in the mouth or throat, seek medical help immediately as swelling may obstruct breathing. Give ice to suck to help reduce swelling.

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If you have an episiotomy (or a tear) during labour, you will probably have some stitches. The midwife will keep a check on them and stitches usually dissolve by themselves in 10-14 days. If you remain uncomfortable after this or have any swelling, tenderness or discharge, see your doctor - sometimes small pieces of stitch can remain longer and cause irritation or infection.

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This is a small abscess at the base of an eyelash, causing swelling and discomfort. It usually clears up by itself, but check with your pharmacist or doctor if it persists.

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Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

See Cot Death (SIDS)

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Sun Protection

It is advised that babies under 6 months should be kept out of the sun and that infants should be indoors or in the shade in the hottest part of the day. Babies and children can burn even on a cloudy day.

Suncream for babies and children has never been easier to find in the shops - make sure you use it! You can also find beach gear such as sunhats and special beach suits that protect against sunburn. If your child does suffer sunburn, apply soothing lotion such as aloe vera or calamine. Consult your doctor if the sunburn is severe.

During pregnancy, skin may be more sensitive to sunlight. Take care to use a high-factor sunscreen and avoid staying in the sun for long periods. On hot days, it is important to drink additional fluids, particularly water.

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Sure Start

Sure Start is a government programme aimed at giving the best start in life for every child and increasing the availability of child care, particularly for those on low incomes.

Find out more about Sure Start.

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Very young babies can feel more secure if they are firmly wrapped. If you wrap your baby, use a cotton cellular blanket or a cotton sheet - a woollen shawl or blanket may make them too hot and it is important to avoid this. Using a triangular shape, lay the baby on the cotton blanket or sheet with his or her head above the long side of the triangle. Wrap one side over the baby's arm and body and tuck it in beneath them, then wrap the other side over the other arm and tuck it beneath the baby.

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If a pregnant woman is overdue, she may be offered a membrane sweep by her midwife or doctor. While making an internal examination, he or she will 'sweep' a finger around the neck of the womb, which may help to increase the chance of labour starting.

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Swimming - For Baby

Take your baby swimming - some health professionals recommend waiting until babies have had their immunisations, but others (including the Department of Health?s publication ?Birth to five?) say there?s no need to wait. Request a copy or download individual sections of the Department of Health Birth to five: 2007 edition'.

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Swimming - Pregnancy

Swimming is great exercise during pregnancy since the water supports the weight of the baby. For information on exercising safely during pregnancy click here.

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Swollen Glands

Lymph nodes (also referred to as glands) are part of our immune systems. Swollen glands are a sign that we are fighting an infection and appear as swollen, tender lumps in the neck, armpits or groin. Sore throats often make the glands in the neck swollen.

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