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in brief

Halloween safety tips

Few events stir a child’s energy like heading out dressed up to go trick-or-treating on Halloween.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these safety guidelines for parents to consider when allowing children to trick-or-treat:

• A parent or responsible adult should always accompany children making Halloween rounds.

• If your older children head out alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time they should return home.

• Only go to homes with a porch light on. Never enter a home or car for a treat.

• Keep children in a group and let them know where they will go.

• Carry a cell phone for quick communication.

• Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.

• Never cut across yards or use alleys.

• Don’t assume the right of way, and that all cars will stop at an intersection or street crossing. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Depression danger

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Being depressed during pregnancy might be bad for the baby, a study suggests.

Expectant mothers with symptoms of severe depression are more than twice as likely to give birth prematurely as those with no signs of depression, according to a recent study, published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Premature births, even just a few weeks short of full term, can leave a baby at greater risk of infection, jaundice and longer hospitalizations.

Doctors don’t know whether depression itself causes early births, or whether some underlying problem might cause depression and prematurity.

Either way, they say, women need to be aware that depression in pregnancy is common, might affect the baby and can be treated.

“Having a healthy mood is an essential part of having a healthy pregnancy,” said Priya Batra, a Kaiser Permanente psychologist in Sacramento who specializes in women’s health. “We want people to know that this is part of what the medical system can offer you.”

That’s an especially important message, because sometimes it can seem like the whole world expects pregnant women to be thrilled.

The new study linking depression with premature births, from Kaiser Permanente’s division of research in Oakland, should help raise awareness, Batra said.

The study was based on surveys of hundreds of Kaiser Permanente patients in the San Francisco Bay Area during the early weeks of their pregnancies. Depressive symptoms were measured by a commonly used questionnaire, and nearly half the women had either significant or severe symptoms.

Nine percent of the women with the worst symptoms had premature babies, compared with 4 percent of the women with no symptoms. Just under 6 percent of those who fell in between gave birth early.

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