Childhood Vaccination Rates Dropped During the Pandemic: It’s Time for a Collective Catch-up

Thank you to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for sponsoring this post.

Many parents I know (myself included) feel that they dropped the ball in some way during the pandemic. My babies turned teen/tweens during this period, and it’s just wild to think of all the changes that occurred while mostly cocooned inside the confines of our home. Dialing back on their relaxed screen time privileges (along with other surviving-lockdown-accommodations) is still a work in progress (to say the least!). Although I’m a big believer in giving ourselves some grace as parents while we continue to juggle numerous responsibilities during challenging times, it’s imperative to shed light on the important (and concerning) stuff, including the fact that routine childhood immunization rates dropped during the pandemic. 

It’s time for a collective catch-up. 

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report documented a substantial decrease in routine pediatric vaccine doses administered from March to May last year, during a period when a significant amount of childhood health checkups were missed. What’s most concerning is that the gap in childhood immunizations (including measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (DTaP), and human papillomavirus (HPV) immunizations) from the early period of the pandemic remains. 

As parents, we protect our children and babies every single day – from the research that went into that very first car seat – to sports helmets, seatbelts, and so much more. One of the best ways to protect and keep our kids safe is by keeping up with their immunizations. Vaccines are an effective, proven way to keep children healthy and safe. And missing routine vaccinations can leave our babies and children vulnerable to severe and once eradicated diseases, such as measles and smallpox, while putting the most vulnerable people in our communities at risk. 

So, what can we do? Call your pediatrician.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), pediatricians want to address parents’ questions and concerns during a year unlike any other. Consulting this trusted source (and not Google or Facebook!) is the best way to protect children against some pretty severe but preventable diseases. 

Keep in mind that medical offices have innovated ways to make visits even safer, including robust disinfecting and cleaning practices, providing different locations or time slots for well vs. sick children, as well as offering telehealth appointments. Pediatricians’ offices are indeed safe to visit, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If your kid missed a vaccine appointment, they most likely missed out on other health check-ups, including developmental screenings and necessary care that occurs during physical exams. 

As a busy working mom, I can certainly commiserate with those long laundry lists. It’s important to remember that a visit to your pediatrician’s office is a check-or-two off that to-do-list. 

I recently had the chance to meet with a few AAP team members and I appreciate the way in which Dr. Whitney Casares, AAP spokesperson and author describes the mechanism of vaccines:

“Vaccines work as a partner with your child’s immune system. The vaccine teaches your immune system how to recognize a bacteria or a virus, and then it is your own immune system that actually builds up your body’s protection. After the vaccine does its work, it is broken down by your body and it’s gone. The vaccine does not stay in your body, but rather it’s your own immune system that is now stronger. And that’s what makes your immune system able to protect your body against something like measles or the flu if it encounters it later on.”

“This is also why most side effects happen in the first few days or weeks, and there’s rarely longer-term problems, because the vaccine is not in the body any more after it has delivered those instructions to the immune system.”

“Side effects usually happen in the first few days, like a low fever or sore arm, and are signs the vaccine is working and your immune system is becoming stronger – kind of like how you may feel sore after a workout.”

Also, check out these solid tips for easing fear of shots, along with helpful language in encouraging kids to feel more in control. View the most up-to-date immunization schedules to ensure that your kid is on track and #CallYourPediatrician to play catch-up if needed. For more information, visit this plethora of info from the AAP, and remember that immunizations, one of the greatest success stories of public health and modern medicine, are the best way to protect our kids, communities, and loved ones from outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. 

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I Tried P.volve. It Made Me Reconsidering The Way I Workout

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Thank you to P.volve for sponsoring this post.

A great workout has been one of the tools in my self-help arsenal since my teen years. I feel my best with consistent visits to the gym. Functional fitness methods have been buzzing around the city for years. I’ve been curious about P.volve since seeing their adds on the subway and recently took a class at the new P.volve Soho flagship NYC studio.

P.vovle is a low-impact, functional movement fitness method that merges functional science, physical therapy, and small hip-opening movements to sculpt hard-to-reach body areas while eliminating bulk. It’s in no way a grueling workout that makes it impossible to walk down subway steps the next day. Through a series of smooth and effective small micro-movements, along with P.vovle’s proprietary fitness products (including the p.ball),hard-to-reach muscles are activated. Unlike traditional weights, the p.ball (which straps onto the top of your legs) targets the upper and inner thighs and the inner-glutes to create long, lean muscles.

P.volve’s new Soho flagship studio is bright, beautiful and thoughtfully designed to motivate. Aside from all the perks that come from working out with friends or strangers riding on collective energy, proper instruction is helpful when trying anything new. During class, I moved into a booty squat (I suppose out of habit), when P.volve’s movement was more like a subtle knee bend. No worries, because a P.vovle instructor hightailed it to my improper form, directing me into the micro-movement with her quick corrections. Inside the studio, I found myself present in closely watching the instructor’s technique since many of the movements were unlike any class I’ve taken prior. For example, rotating the hip slightly inward (in a pidgeon-toed position) is definitely not in my usual workout repertoire. The studio experience and expert instruction made me all the more comfortable with the small, smooth, controlled movements before beginning the journey of streaming workouts at home.

A P.vovle class left me energized and determined to add P.vovle to my workout rotation. It’s been a while since something made me reconsider the efficiency of time devoted to lifting (somewhat heavy), pounding the treadmill, and plowing through a spinning class. P.volve’s approach certainly changes things up.

Ready to try P.Volve? Take advantage of these great offers:

  • Register for a 15-day free trial HERE with code PVOLVEMOM (expires: 11/8) 
  • Get 15% off of 1st product purchase HERE with code PVOLVEMOM  (Code auto-populates discount in cart. Discount code expires on 11/8 ).

All images via Lauren Kara Photography. Big thank you to Brianne at Stroller In the City for event hosting.

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On Family Meditation with Headspace

This post is sponsored by Headspace. Start a daily meditation practice by scrolling to the bottom of the post for a discount code. 

Summer is a powerful time. Magic happens within waves amongst salt water’s healing powers.

As a parent, summer can also sometimes feel like a strange dichotomy of being present in the readily-available peace found in the ocean – while fighting frustration on the days when sibling bickering sets in. According to a recent parenting survey by Momtrends Media, 40% of parents find the summer months to be the most stressful, followed by back-to-school season and the holidays.

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I always welcome opportunities to better myself and when a partnership with the meditation app Headspace came my way it truly felt serendipitous. I tried other meditation programs in the past but eventually couldn’t stick to their many commitments. Headspace was different; within just a few minutes a day, I found myself calmer, more alive, and well aware of the fact that I’m in charge of my responses to the world around me. Headspace never made me feel judged – often reminding me that there is “no good or bad way to meditate”. This app has given me a tool to introduce meditation to my kids (they especially love the animations) with a specific section just for them. We now have a family meditation practice that is beautifully simple to stick with.

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Thanks to Momtrends Media, I had the chance to meet the Headspace team at a lovely lunch event that they hosted in NYC. When I was introduced to co-founder Andy Puddicombe, and voice-of-all-things Headspace, I found myself gushing “but I feel like you’re my friend!” while restraining my arms behind my back before they could unfurl around him in an awkwardly tight hug. If you’re familiar with the app, Andy’s soothing British-accented voice, along with a collection of animations, quotes, and secular, simple meditations – make meditation a part my day that I look forward to and crave.

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Before leading us all in a guided meditation, Andy spoke of his decade of training as a Buddhist Monk. Along with his business partner, Rich Pierson, the duo sought out to improve the health and happiness around the world with the creation of Headspace – the first meditation app on the Market in 2012. Headspace now reaches over 30 million people every year!

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A few things that Andy said really stuck with me:

I love how Andy spoke of mediation as a vehicle to increase compassion, gratitude, and empathy for the world around us. Pulling from his time in the monastery, he spoke of meditation as a means to not just better yourself, but also make a difference in your families and communities while putting something valuable back into the world.

Andy spoke of focusing on the breath to destress. Headspace makes this so simple even for children – with prompts to invite their favorite stuffed animal or toy to join them and rest on their bellies while breathing.

He also asked us to keep a gratitude journal specifically about family. I adore this idea. While we already have a gratitude practice in place in our home – focusing on what I’m grateful for within my children is a beautiful thing.

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As a mother, a person who lives with migraine, and as someone who comes from a public health background – it’s hard to adequately capture how grateful I am to be introduced to something so helpful.  Headspace is wonderful to gift to a friend or family member suffering an acute loss or trauma (there is a grief pack within the brave section) and even coping with cancer and pain management packs within the health session. There are single meditations for things like losing my temper and panicking – along with falling back to sleep, creative writing, difficult conversations, fear of flying and so much more.

I hope you’ll join me in this meditation journey because I want everyone to have headspace! Get 40% of your Headspace subscription for the year (which you’ll need to have full access to the app) with this code:

https://www.headspace.com/buy/checkout/summary?voucherCode=MARINOBAMBINOS

Register and enter the promo code here by July 4th:

Once you log into the app on your phone, it will automatically connect to the subscription you just activated.

Event photos 4-6 via Momtrends. 

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Not One Type: A Closer Look At Breast Cancer

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Thank you to Genentech for sponsoring this post.

 According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 236,968 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States in 2014, and (not counting some types of skin cancer) breast cancer in the U.S. is the most common cause of cancer in women – across all races and ethnicities. It is also the leading cause of death from cancer, among Latina women. Like so many others I know, breast cancer has impacted my family profoundly and the trajectory of my loved ones. That’s why it’s important for me to join in sharing the Not One Type campaign, merging messages from a trifecta of champions – Genentech, Living Beyond Breast Cancer and ThirdLove.

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I recently joined New Yorkers in exploring the Not One Type Studio – a SoHo pop-up experience, encouraging women and their loved ones to take a closer look at breast cancer. Upon stepping into the ThirdLove Studio, women curious about bra shopping were visually halted by ThirdLove’s bra installation – challenging prevalent breast cancer misconceptions – with uniformed rows of suspended bras that were only one size, and only one color. Just like ThirdLove creates uniquely tailored bras to a women’s specific size, shape and color preference – Not One Type is sharing information about the ways in which breast cancer is a very complex and not-one-size-fits-all disease.

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The Not One Type website explains how breast cancer is classified into different types – determined by the unique characteristics of each tumor, including subtype, lymph node status and stage, among other criteria. Understanding the uniqueness of each diagnosis helps to empower women and their loved ones to engage in helpful conversations and make more informed treatment decisions with their providers.

I know first-hand that family and friends often step in as patient advocates – and according to Not One Type, women facing the early stages of breast cancer rely on three or more people to help them process treatment options. An incredibly valuable tool on the Not One Type website is a checklist of questions to help women facing this diagnosis and their supporters be as well-informed as possible in conversations with doctors.

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In addition to all of the visual messaging, a lovely tribute wall, “boobie pins” in all shapes and sizes, and ThirdLove discount cards – the campaign’s spokeswomen Giuliana Rancic was on hand leading the discussion with women currently living with breast cancer as well as drawing from her personal experience.  According to Giuliana “understanding your unique diagnosis is critical to receiving the right treatment for you. And it’s not just important for those diagnosed to know about the different types, but for those who love them.”

Armed with new-to-me facts and insight, I’m grateful that I can now help better support a loved one. Have a look around notonetype.org, I’m sure you’ll learn something too.

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A Healthy Green Smoothie for Saint Patrick’s Day

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Check out our yummy healthy green smoothie recipe to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with the kids! Thanks to our partner Maple Hill – America’s original 100% grass-fed dairy producers for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Over the years, my kids have shown me that it’s the little things commemorating the special dates and holidays that mean the most to them. Their excitement over a simple banner on the mantle, handmade decorations or a themed recipe will always make me incredibly happy. That said, I was in great need of upping my game for Saint Patrick’s Day this year – ever since my son came home from school last March wanting to know why he’d been deprived of setting “leprechaun traps” in our home. While I may not ever be the leprechaun-trap-making kind of mom, I can make a mean kiddo-approved green smoothie. And if I can get kale, spinach, Maple Hill Organic Grass-Fed Yogurt and more into my kiddos before they’re out the door for school in the morning – than that’s a win for us all!

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Smoothies are a breeze, especially when you’re looking for something easy and healthy. And our Saint Patrick’s Day smoothie recipe is catered to please the kiddos:

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One of the best things about adding greens to smoothies is that they don’t add a lot of flavor. The combination of banana, frozen mango and pineapple help to add just enough sweetness to make my kids gulp away. Although we also make this smoothie with Maple Hill’s Organic Milk – the Maple Hill’s Organic Whole Milk Yogurt gives this specific recipe a deliciously creamy texture and taste. Not only are Maple Hill’s products grass-fed, but they’re certified USDA and PCO organic, and GMO-free.  You’ll taste the difference as soon as you try Maple Hill.

Along with all the vitamins and nutrients from the organic greens and fruits – I’m happy that my kids are getting solid protein and more from Maple Hill Yogurt. Maple Hill’s products are 100% grass-fed – and milk from grass-fed cows (versus those that consume a grain-based diet) is higher in essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat – with a whole host of great health benefits known to reduce inflammation in the body and more. Their grass-fed milk has double the omega-3 fat content as conventional milk. It’s always the right choice for my family.

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If your kiddos happen to be resistant to drinking their greens in any way, make sure to give this smoothie a fun name.

I’m pretty sure that Leprechaun anything will do!

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A New Alternative For an Opioid-Free Painkiller

This post is sponsored by Pacira via SheKnows Media.

I recently had the honor of joining SheKnows media at the BlogHer 18 Health Conference in New York City’s beautiful Tribeca.  I’ve made a conscious effort to tuck away and pull from the powerful words spoken by the organizers of The Women’s March, Chelsea Clinton, the journalists from The New York Times who exposed Harvey Weinstein and more inspirational women. I heard from women who are fighting and overcoming various health battles, breaking down stigmas and creating greater awareness of often misunderstood health conditions. We also had the chance to connect with companies creating cutting-edge responses to some of the most complex and pressing problems of our time.

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According to the CDC, on average, 115 Americans die every single day from an opioid overdose – and in 2016, an estimated 3 million surgery patients became long-term opioid users.  Did you know that women are prescribed twice as many opioid prescriptions as men? Surgery has become an inadvertent gateway to opioid addiction with nearly 1 in 15 patients becoming drug-dependent following surgery. Bottles of unused opioid prescriptions are sitting idle in medicine cabinets. A recent report found that 13 percent of middle-aged women use opioids three to six months post-operation, placing them at significant risk for dependence and misuse.  In addition, middle-aged women are most at risk of death from opioid overdose, with women ages 40-59 getting opioid prescriptions more than any other group.

As a former public health researcher with a background in addiction research and harm-reduction, having an intimate look into Pacira’s surgeon-lead panel at BlogHer 18 Health was promising – because there are safe and effective non-opioid options available.  Pacira hopes to encourage patients and patient advocates to be empowered and proactive with providers when facing surgery.

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EXPAREL®, a drug developed by Pacira is a long-acting (non-opioid) numbing medication injected during surgery to control pain while limiting the need for opioids following surgery. One of the Pacira panel speakers, Dr. Gregory Greco, a board-certified plastic surgeon, explained how administering EXPAREL during surgery eliminates the need for starting opioid pain relief in the recovery room – because pain management via EXPAREL can last for days. This often eliminates or completely reduces prescriptions of opioids for post-surgical pain management.

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All of the speakers, including a plastic surgeon, oral surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon, along with the team running Pacira’s information booth at BlogHer18 Health, spoke of the need to be proactive and informed patients or patient-advocates in surgery consults. With the volume of opioids being prescribed post-surgery, it’s crucial to ask important questions about non-opioid options and post-surgical pain management.

According to the CDC, the number of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010. And so many of us have seen the resulting devastating effects of this epidemic.  We can only hope that others will follow in Pacira’s footsteps with a commitment to reduce prescriptions, exposure, dependence, and deaths due to opioids.

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