Health Check

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    Now that cold season is upon us, poor mothers everywhere are suffering along with their little ones. Moms cringe with every cough, feeling helpless as their bundles of energy are reduced to sniffling, cranky couch potatoes. And because they are mothers, they feel the pain twice; once for their child and once for themselves. Of course, they also get to feel joy twice, and that’s what makes all the tough times disappear.

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    Your child will likely be taking a lot of tests in his or her life, many of which cause them (the SATs) and you (driver's license!) a lot of angst. But the first test your baby will ever take is the Apgar test, which he or she will "take" about a minute after being born. The test and resulting score, developed by Virginia Apgar, an obstetric anesthesiologist during the mid-1900s, are used worldwide as a quick, easy, and reliable way to gauge a newborn's health. And the good news is your baby is likely to pass with flying colors, so it's nothing you as a new mom should stress out about. And it won't hurt your baby one bit.

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    Pregnant moms battling depression ... take a deep breath. According to a new Massachusetts General Hospital study, the increased autism risk associated with antidepressant use is likely due to the depression, not the drugs. Hopefully, that will give you a sigh of relief. 

    That said, the same study found that exposure to antidepressants in the womb is linked with much higher rates of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in kids. We're talking an 80 percent increased risk of ADHD if mom takes antidepressants while pregnant.

    Those findings are jarring, yes. Definitely worth filing it away in your mind. But don't panic just yet. 

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    It hits you like a freight train. An awful smell that seems to be coming from the general direction of your child. Welcome to the next phase of growing up: developing body odor. You're about to go from buying bubble bath to buying deodorant for your child, and it all happens in the blink of an eye. 

    So is your kid normal? Can they possibly be ready for deodorant when they just learned to tie their shoes yesterday (or so it seems)?

    Well ... yes!

    Typically, body odor can begin to develop as early as 7 years old in girls, 9 years old in boys, as the body hits puberty. Suddenly, your child is beginning to sweat more and sweat specifically from what are called the "apocrine sweat glands," glands in the armpit and groin region.

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    While most moms know their kids should drink milk, many are torn about which type. Odds are you fed your baby whole milk, only as your little tyke shot up into toddlerhood, you may have considered making the switch to skim, 1%, or 2%. After all, we're in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic. Once kids have graduated beyond the chunky baby phase, whole milk seems like a gratuitous amount of fat and calories that could lead kids down an unhealthy path.

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    We know how often we should be taking our children for their checkups, tests, and immunizations. But what about our own health? How often do we need to get a physical, a pap smear, a tetanus shot?

    Sometimes it's easy to let our own health care slide when we're so busy juggling our kids' doctor's appointments. We're here to help you, moms!

    We've gathered all that info for you so you have a checklist of your own of sort. It's everything you need to know about which checkups and tests to get done, when -- all in one place!

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    If you're trying for a baby, you've probably hit your local pharmacy for a prenatal vitamin. Most OB/GYNs will tell women to start taking these supplements as many as one to three months before they're even pregnant! But which one do you choose? And are they even necessary?

    "I do believe in a high-quality prenatal vitamin for every woman trying to build her family," says reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Josh Hurwitz with Reproductive Endocrinology at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut. The fact of the matter is that, try as we might, most of us don't get all of the essential nutrients out of our everyday diets, let alone all of the must-haves for a healthy pregnancy, so it's best to take a supplement.

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    Finally, your kids are sleeping through the night. They're even going to bed at a reasonable hour and staying there too! And then it happens. Your child wakes up crying out loud and grabbing their legs. Growing pains: they're not just an '80s TV sitcom. And contrary to popular opinion, they have nothing to do with growth spurts.

    "The term 'growing pain' is a bit of a misnomer," says pediatrician Dr. Carol Wilkinson, medical director of Kinsights, an advice sharing network for parents. "Studies have shown that they are not associated with periods of rapid growth."

    Instead, these aches in the muscles can simply be signs that your child's muscles are sore from playing hard on the playground or something deeper -- a stress or big social change that can lower their pain tolerance and make it hard to sleep.

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    We know one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of HIV is to wear a condom during sex. But for many too many women around the world, getting a man to use protection before sex is nigh unto impossible. Now there may be a new way for these women to shield themselves: Tampons that deliver anti-HIV medication. If it works, it could put prevention into the hands of women and save millions of lives.

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    Most of us know of the many health and economic reasons to breastfeed for mothers and babies. We are told regularly that “breast is best,” and although there continues to be debate about the degree that not breastfeeding results in health problems for an individual dyad in a Western society, we acknowledge that whether one does it or not, breastfeeding is definitely a healthy choice. However, most mothers who continue to breastfeed beyond a year, especially those who continue to nurse at night, face backlash from an unexpected source: the dentist.

    Many families face a dentist who is adamant that they give up breastfeeding or give up night feeds due to the higher risk of cavities despite the other benefits to the families that breastfeeding may confer. What are parents to do? Give up breastfeeding or accept the risk? Or can families have their breast milk and drink it too?

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