National Birth Defects Prevention Month

The focus this year during January, National Birth Defects Prevention Month, is on the judicious use of medicines before, during and after pregnancy.

That goes for prescription and over-the counter drugs, as well as herbal remedies and dietary supplements.

Perhaps two-thirds of women use some kind of medication during pregnancy, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. Yet many of the effects of these drugs are poorly understood.

Pregnant women are often excluded from drug trials because of concerns for their unborn babies. As a result, we often know little about how drugs will affect fetuses.

Birth defects affect about 3 percent of babies born in the United States and cause more than 20 percent of infant deaths, according to the CDC.

Twins born in two different years

Talk about your scheduled C-section. A Machesney Park, Ill., couple went out of their way last weekend to have their twins born in two different years.

Ashley Fansler, 23, and Brendan Lewis, 24, welcomed daughter Madisen Carin Lewis at 11:59 p.m. on New Year's Eve. Aiden Everette Lewis was born a minute later, at 12 a.m. on New Year's Day.

The twins were born by Cesarean section at Rockford Memorial Hospital in Rockford, Ill.

The couple and their doctors purposefully timed the scheduled C-section so the babies could have separate birthdays. Fansler's due date was Jan. 28 but doctors reportedly were concerned about complications.

"We decided to do it that way [bridging the new year] and everything worked out,” Lewis told Matt Williams of the Rockford Register Star. “They said they would do it if there was no complications or anything. Everything was safety first.”

Check out footage of the parents and the newborns here:

Birth photographer is back on Facebook


That's what Laura Eckert, a Shueyville, Ia., photographer, wrote today on the Facebook page for her New Creation birth photography business.

Facebook had disabled the page last month because it displayed photos taken during and just after childbirth. Earlier today, though, officials of the social media website apologized to Eckert and restored her company's page.

Eckert, 33, told the Associated Press she was shocked when Facebook notified her before Christmas that they had removed inappropriate photos from her page. Eckert said she had cropped all the photos on the New Creation page so they would meet Facebook's guidelines.

When she tried to log on to find out which photos were gone, Eckert discovered the account had been disabled.

A number of Eckert's supporters put together another Facebook page called "Restore Laura Eckert's account."

The photographer emailed Facebook repeatedly, asking for an explanation and reinstatement, but  the company did not respond until KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids aired a story about the dispute, she said.

"It's funny it happened after the media got involved," Eckert said. "I sent many polite e-mails asking for information over the course of the last few weeks and got no response. None."

Eckert said she believed the pictures that brought her page down were from a water birth last spring.

Facebook objected to some of the photos when she first posted them because they contained nudity, Eckert said. She then removed some photos and edited others to eliminate any sight of nipples or genitalia, with Facebook's standards in mind.

But then last month, all three of her Facebook pages, including the New Creation one, were gone.

"We make an occasional mistake. This is an example," said Facebook spokesman Simon Axten.

Eckert said she intends to continue to post birth photos on her Facebook page.

"I see the miraculousness of it," she told the AP. "Maybe that clouds my judgment a little bit."

First baby born in the United States in 2011

Little Peter Gabriel Imson, born 18 seconds after midnight on Jan. 1 at Guam Memorial Hospital in Tamuning, Guam, has staked his claim to be the first baby born in the United States in 2011.

Guam, the largest of the Mariana Is., is a U.S. territory in Micronesia, in the western Pacific Ocean, and is officially the first place in the United States a new day touches — in this case, the first day of a new year.

Imson weighed in at six pounds 13 ounces. His mom is Cathy Narciso of Dededo, a nurse at the hospital. Peter is her first baby.