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News: Water safety, iron in pregnancy and supporting kids with disabilities

swimkids_featSo, what’s making news in the world of pregnancy and parenting this week?

How can YOU help enhance water safety skills among all Aussie kids? Are hopeful mums-to-be putting too much pressure on themselves? How can parents of children with a disability access free parenting support? Why should more pregnant women by screened for iron deficiency? Which new therapy reduces premature babies’ chances of developing cerebral palsy? And how does a parent’s view of ‘risky’ behaviour impact the amount of physical activity their child engages in?

Read on to find out …

Survey calls for YOUR view on swimming and water safety

AUSTSWIM and Royal Life Saving wants your view on children’s swimming and water safety skills. Their survey will enhance their understanding of swimming and water safety programs for children aged 5–14 years old.

Each parent’s comments will contribute to research being conducted on drowning prevention in Australia. The outcomes will enhance the swimming and water safety skills of all Australian children.

Please help by filling out the survey at

Survey participants will go into the draw to win one of 50 Hoyts double movie passes or one of two UNCLE TOBYS hampers worth $100.

Hopeful parents no longer staying mum on baby plans

Aussie women are twice as likely as their Baby Boomer counterparts to tell friends and family that they’re trying to conceive, according to a recent survey.

The survey, conducted by fertility expert brand Clearblue, showed that 67 per cent of respondents aged 25-44 would tell family and friends when they were trying to conceive but only 29 per cent of Baby Boomers (aged 50-64) would have when they were younger.

But experts have warned that by sharing their plans hopeful mums could be putting additional pressure on themselves at an already stressful period in their lives.

Head and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UNSW and Clearblue Advisor, Professor William Ledger says people are more used to sharing personal information thanks to social media and reality TV.

“Well-meaning questions can become hurtful if conception does not occur quickly and the pressure builds up month after month,” he says. “It’s probably good advice to keep quiet until a pregnancy is confirmed, at least outside the close family circle.”

Parents of children with disability twice as stressed

Queensland parents of children with a disability endure twice as much stress and worry as parents of typically developing children, according to the My Say survey.

The University of Queensland (UQ), The University of Sydney and Monash University survey found 70 per cent of Queensland parents of children with disabilities reported feeling stressed and worried.

This compares to just 32 per cent of parents of typically developing children who reported feeling stressed and worried in a 2011 International Parenting Survey.

The My Say survey is part of a project called Stepping Stones Triple P which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children with disabilities by providing free parenting support and free professional training.

Parents and caregivers of children with a disability are being asked to fill out the survey – which closes for Qld parents and carers at the end of May before being rolled out to Victoria and NSW. Visit:

Australians lead way in iron deficiency in pregnancy research

Australian researchers are part of a world-first study into the treatment of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia in pregnancy.

University of Adelaide clinical senior lecturer and Lyell McEwin Hospital anaesthetist Dr Bernd Froessler say iron deficiency is more common in pregnant women than previously thought and undiagnosed in most.

“There is plenty of evidence showing iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia has a very negative impact on a woman and her developing foetus with a higher risk of mothers needing a blood transfusion during birth, premature birth, babies born smaller and often underdeveloped as well as the future development of the child,” Dr Froessler said.

“The importance of screening is not well understood and often underestimated; checks for iron deficiency should be initiated by obstetricians from the very first appointment.

“After birth the baby itself is likely to suffer from iron deficiency causing developmental delays, immune issues and a higher susceptibility to infections. We are hoping that by treating iron deficiency in the mother, we can benefit both her and the child.”

1 in 4 hospitals fail to implement cerebral palsy prevention therapy

A new study has identified that 1 in 4 of hospitals with neonatal intensive care units have not yet implemented new guidelines recommending the administration of antenatal magnesium sulphate to mothers in early labour (22-30 weeks), a therapy which reduces premature babies’ chances of developing cerebral palsy.

Results of the WISH Study (Working to Improve Survival and Health for babies born very preterm) have been revealed at the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand 17th Annual Congress in Adelaide.

Uptake of the magnesium sulphate guidelines increased in hospitals in 2012, due to action from Cerebral Palsy Alliance and the University of Adelaide. The therapy, given to women prior to preterm birth, has the potential to save the lives of, or minimise cerebral palsy risks in, up to 150 babies each year in Australia and New Zealand.

But still some hospitals with neonatal intensive care units are not yet implementing the guideline systematically, and in those that do, some eligible mothers are still not receiving this treatment.

Fear of ‘risky behaviour’ impacts playground activity

Altering parents’ and teachers’ view on what is “risky” play behaviour can increase children’s physical activity according to a University of Sydney study.

The Sydney Playground Project shows simple, low-cost, additions to a playground can increase physical activity during break times.

But parental and teachers’ concerns for safety – and being sued – remain a concern.

Led investigator Professor Anita Bundy says the trial may have helped reverse parents and teachers’ perception of what constitutes risky play by helping them understand what can motivate and encourage children to be active.

Twelve Australian primary schools participated in the project which simultaneously focused on the school children aged between five-to-seven years, their parents and their teachers.

The first phase of the project involved a 13-week intervention program where new objects such as cardboard boxes, old car tyres, colourful fabrics, and Styrofoam and milk crates were introduced into schoolyards, giving children opportunities for creative, outdoor play.

“What we found was these simple objects coupled with an education program for parents and teachers significantly increased the children’s activity levels,” says Professor Bundy.

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