Hello? Is my baby OK?

HealthLeader – Hello? Is my baby OK?

Written by: Anissa Anderson Orr  |  Updated: November 03, 2011

Busy caring for her 11-week-old daughter and 3-year-old son, the last thing Danielle Williams needed was a sinus infection to slow her down. The Humble, Texas mother and former pediatric intensive care nurse considered over-the-counter decongestants for her killer allergies. But would the medicine affect her nursing baby? Would it lower her milk supply? “I was really hoping for some relief,” she says. “It was a challenge, trying to nurse a baby, while constantly needing to wash my hands.”

Laden with questions, she called the Texas TIPS Hotline (number below), a new service sponsored by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). They told her she could take the recommended dose of decongestants, and that they had not been linked to decreased milk supply. “I thought it was great just knowing there was a place you could call with your questions, and experts who can help you think,” Williams says.

Funded by a grant from the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Teratogen Information Pregnancy Service (TIPS) gives pregnant and nursing women advice from trained genetic counselors on what to do if they have been exposed to a teratogen—a substance that could be harmful to their baby. In the process, they hope to ease the minds of pregnant and nursing moms—a tall order when the everyday world is a potential minefield of substances to avoid.

“I think many times, the reassurance [from Texas TIPS] is going to be invaluable to people, because they are going to find out that the worries they had don’t pan out to be a problem in the fetus, or the nursing baby,” says Texas TIPS founder Hope Northrup, MD, professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Medical Genetics at UTHealth Medical School. “That will relieve moms from worry for the rest of their pregnancy, and help them enjoy their new baby.”

We asked Northrup and her staff of genetic counselors to weigh in on some of the most common worrisome scenarios for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and how to deal with them.