Folic acid and a healthy pregnancy

October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month

 

Having a healthy baby means making sure you’re healthy, too. One of the most important things a woman can do to prevent serious birth defects is to get enough folic acid. It’s important to take folic acid before you get pregnant and during early pregnancy. Studies show women who get at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid before and during pregnancy reduce the risk of having a baby with neural tube defects (serious birth defects involving the incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord) by up to 70 percent. These defects happen during the first 28 days of pregnancy, usually before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. Only half of all pregnancies are planned – so any woman who could become pregnant should make sure she is taking enough folic acid every day.

What is folic acid? How much do you need?

Folic acid is a water soluble B vitamin found in green vegetables like spinach and asparagus as well as in orange juice and enriched cereals and breads. Water soluble means it does not stay in your body for very long, so it needs to be taken every day. For most women, eating the right foods isn’t enough. To get the recommended level, you probably need to take a vitamin.

During pregnancy you require more of all the vitamins and nutrients than you did before you became pregnant. Most nonprescription prenatal vitamins contain 500 to 800 mcg of folic acid. A prenatal vitamin shouldn’t replace eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, but it does ensure you’re getting the recommended amount of folic acid every day.

If you’ve already had a pregnancy that was affected by a neural tube defect, make sure you talk about it with your health care provider. You may need to increase your daily intake of folic acid before getting pregnant again to lower your risk of having another baby with the same defect.

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has a long history of caring for children with neural tube defects. There are programs available for your child with Spina Bifida and other special needs. For more information on these programs, visit chw.org.

Deb Walbergh, RN, BSN, is a graduate student in Nursing in the Spina Bifida Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Eating fresh and local: Children’s Hospital farmer’s market

Every Tuesday, Chris and Nancy Simon of Simon’s Gardens in Mukwonago, Wis., bring a truck loaded with fresh fruits and veggies to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. They set up tables and tents near the Children’s Hospital Clinics Building with sweet corn, musk melons, beets, potatoes, peppers and more, all picked earlier that day.

The farmer’s market is sponsored by Children’s Hospital and Health System’s Employee Health and Wellness team. It provides employees, as well as patients, their families and other employees at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, with easy access to farm-fresh produce.

Stop by the Children’s Hospital farmer’s market every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. through late September.

Check out this video to see more of the advantages of buying produce from local growers:

How Children’s Hospital helped my son lose weight and feel great

My son, Gaige, came home from school one day very sad because some kids kept telling him he had a big belly. My heart broke for my little 4 year old. At this young age, my son weighed 66.3 pounds and was 45 inches tall with a body mass index of 22.7. A normal BMI for kids my son’s age is 14.

As a mom, I truly believe we don’t see flaws in our children that others may see. I knew Gaige was bigger than most kids his age. I didn’t really see how much bigger he was. With a desire to fix the problem, I made an appointment …Continue reading →

Make healthy eating easier for Wisconsin kids

When it comes to healthy eating habits, not everyone makes the best choices every day. Sure, sneaking in an ice cream cone or fast food once in a while can’t hurt, but only if you remember to eat your vegetables, too.

Tomorrow, legislators are voting on important legislation that will make healthy eating habits easier for Wisconsin kids. The Farm to School program is a step in the right direction to reducing obesity and giving healthy options to our kids.

Why is this important and what does it do?

Farm-to-School programs provide locally grown food to schools. In addition to supporting local farmers, these programs get fresh fruits and vegetables to kids.

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The choice is yours – live healthy

Kohl's Healthy Kids:  It's Your Move is an exhibit at the Betty Brinn Children's Museum in Milwaukee.

It sounds simple, but talking to your kids about eating healthy works. A recent poll found that 82 percent of Milwaukee kids who talk with their families on a monthly basis about eating healthy eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more water. Overall, they’re more likely to eat healthy foods. I recommend following the tips to help foster your child’s healthy habits today.

Serve a variety of healthy foods. Eating a variety of healthy foods helps us get the nutrients our bodies need. Take your child to the grocery store to see the number of fruits and vegetables available. I often let my daughter pick out one or two I normally wouldn’t buy. Together, we create healthy snacks with our choices.

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Keep moving this winter

This February, use Olympic athletes as your motivation to move more.

Aerobic activity makes our hearts stronger and more efficient at pumping blood. Including year-round aerobic activity not only keeps our hearts healthy but our minds and bodies as well. Even during the cold winter months, it’s possible to exercise both indoors and outdoors.

As the temperatures continue to drop, it becomes less desirable to choose outdoor activities for exercise. With proper clothing, walking or running outside still is an option. Fun ways to stay active and get physical activity during the winter months include: …Continue reading →

Healthy eating = healthy bodies

Hi, I’m Captain Cough, one of the four Children’s Flu Fighters. First, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year as many of you head back to school and work this week. Second, I’d like to remind you that Children’s Flu Fighters (Missy Clean, Super Sneeze, the R & R Kid and I, Captain Cough) are working hard to protect your children and you from colds and flu. As we kick off 2010, I thought I would share some great advice our friend Jessica Balliet, RD, CD, a clinical dietitian at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin put together recently: …Continue reading →

Walk This Way

Walk This Way”… no, I’m not referring to the song by Aerosmith, although it is a great song! I’m talking about Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin Coalition’s Walk This Way program, which is part of  International Walk Your Child to School Day. The first Wednesday in October, boys, girls, their parents, teachers and others around the world make a special date to walk to school.

This program began back in the ‘90’s for several reasons: to encourage physical activity in children, to raise environmental concerns – and my primary focus – to raise an awareness about how “walkable” a community is.

On the local level, Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin’s program goes into schools providing classroom education about pedestrian safety. Information goes home asking parents and caregivers to walk with their children to school on this special day to help bring awareness to the community about pedestrian safety issues. Pedestrian injury is the second leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5-14. Six hundred kids die every year.

For more information about how to walk with a participating school on International Walk Your Child to School Day, Wednesday, Oct. 7, or to find out how to get your school involved for 2010, call (414) 390-2178 or e-mail Lisa Klindt Simpson atlklindtsimpson@chw.org.

Money-saving tips for gluten-free families

Anyone with celiac disease, a condition that prevents people from eating gluten – an ingredient found in wheat, barley and rye – knows that gluten-free products tend to cost more than non-gluten-free products. At Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, we care for many kids whose families need to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle for them – without breaking the bank. Here are some money-saving tips we share with families:

Remember, there are many regular foods that you CAN eat!
Not everything has to be the more expensive gluten-free specialty products. For example, in the regular cereal aisle, Rice Chex® now is a gluten-free product (check the labeling on the front of the box to be sure). Cornmeal, grits and Cream of Rice® are other gluten-free breakfast or snack options.
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Get your groove on

Video games are a popular part of American culture. Recently, video game systems have received a physical makeover. Instead of only exercising your thumbs, many games now encourage gamers of all ages to get up and get moving. Last year, a study at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse was undertaken to see if playing Wii™ Sports is physically beneficial (2008 July/August issue of ACE Fitness Matters).

The study concluded that playing Wii Sports burns approximately 70 percent of the calories burned if the sport actually was played. In addition, playing the game elicits approximately 50 percent of the maximum heart rate as compared to actually playing the sport. This study concluded that Wii games are much better for improving physical fitness than playing conventional video games and actually can improve health. Pretty cool! For those of you not familiar with these video games, here is some info on the most popular activity-focused ones:

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