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BabyCentre - Glossary of childcare
Category: Health and Medicine > Pregnancy, babies
Date & country: 13/10/2007, UK
Words: 477


diethylstilboestrol
Diethylstilboestrol (DES) is a synthetic form of oestrogen once given to women to prevent miscarriage. Its use was discontinued in the late 1960s when it was found to cause serious side effects, including cancer, infertility, and miscarriage.

digestive system disorders
A general term for all disorders of the digestive system, which processes food and eliminates waste.

dilatation
Dilation, or dilatation, is the gradual opening (dilating) of the cervix during labour. At around 10 cm the cervix is 'fully dilated'.

dilation
Dilation, or dilatation, is the gradual opening (dilating) of the cervix during labour. At around 10 cm the cervix is 'fully dilated'.

Doppler ultrasound
1. A technique used early in high-risk pregnancies to check the blood flow through the fetus's umbilical cord. 2. Pocket-sized handheld device which can be used to listen to the babies heartbeat during pregnancy.

doula
A doula is a person specially trained to help during labour and after the birth of a baby. A doula might help a new mother to breastfeed, or cook, clean, and care for older children.

Down's syndrome
The most common chromosomal abnormality, Down's syndrome causes mild to severe learning disabilities, as well as other physical problems such as heart defects.

DTP vaccine
The DTP immunisation protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). It is given as a series of three injections given at eight, 12 and 16 weeks.

DTP-Hib vaccine
The DTP-Hib immunisation protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib). It is given as a series of injections given at eight, 12 and 16 weeks.

due date
The due date or estimated date of delivery (EDD) is the date when a baby's birth is expected. It is set by a doctor or midwife and is usually based on the first day of a woman's last menstrual period. An ultrasound 'dating scan' may be used to give a more accurate estimate of the due date based on measurements of the baby's size.

Dutch cap
A cervical or Dutch cap is a birth control device (similar to a diaphragm, but smaller) which fits over a woman's cervix and keeps sperm from entering. It must be fitted by a doctor or nurse and checked yearly for a proper fit.

dystocia
This term means 'difficult childbirth', usually when labour is not progressing. Uterine dystocia happens when the contractions are not strong enough to deliver the baby. Shoulder dystocia happens when a baby's shoulders get stuck after the head has already been delivered.

eclampsia
Eclampsia is a rare but serious condition which affects women in late pregnancy. If pre-eclampsia is not treated, it can develop into eclampsia, which can cause convulsions and coma. It may require emergency delivery of the baby.

ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic occurs when a fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, usually in a Fallopian tube, but it can be anywhere in the abdominal cavity. There is not enough room for a baby to grow, so an ectopic must be surgically removed to prevent rupture and damage.

eczema
a condition characterised by dry, irritated skin

EDD
The due date or estimated date of delivery (EDD) is the date when a baby's birth is expected. It is set by a doctor or midwife and is usually based on the first day of a woman's last menstrual period. An ultrasound 'dating scan' may be used to give a more accurate estimate of the due date based on measurements of the baby's size.

Edward's syndrome
Edward's syndrome or trisomy 18 is a chromosomal abnormality, which is more severe and less common than Down's syndrome. Symptoms include severe learning disabilities and often numerous defects, such as cleft lip and palate, club foot, and malformation of internal organs.

effacement
This is the thinning and shortening (sometimes called 'ripening') of the cervix during early labour. During effacement, the cervix goes from more than an inch thick to paper thin.

EFM
An electronic fetal monitor (EFM) is a device used to monitor the progress and vital signs of a baby during labour. It records the baby's heartbeat and the woman's contractions.

egg
An egg or ovum is a female reproductive cell produced by the ovaries. After fertisation by a sperm (a male reproductive cell), the two cells fuse together to form a single cell, from which an embryo develops.

egg donation
The process by which a fertile woman donates her eggs, usually to help an infertile couple conceive a baby. The egg donor's ovaries are stimulated by drugs to produce extra eggs, which are then retrieved by surgery. The recipient of the eggs also receives hormones to prepare her body for the implantation of an embryo.

electronic fetal monitor
An electronic fetal monitor (EFM) is a device used to monitor the progress and vital signs of a baby during labour. It records the baby's heartbeat and the woman's contractions.

embryo
The medical term for a developing baby during the first ten weeks of pregnancy; after that, it is called a fetus.

embryo biopsy
Embryo biopsy, also known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, is an experimental test for genetic abnormalities in embryos before they are implanted using IVF (in vitro fertilisation).

embryo transfer
The process in any assisted conception treatment where an already fertilised egg is transferred into a woman's uterus to help her get pregnant.

encephalitis
An inflammation of the brain, most often caused by the herpes virus, but sometimes brought on by chickenpox, mumps, or measles. People with a mild case usually recover in two or three weeks; severe encephalitis is rare, but can cause brain damage or death.

endometriosis
The endometrium is the tissue which lines the uterus. Endometriosis is a disease where endometrial cells grow outside the uterus, most often on the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, or the exterior of the uterus. The condition can cause pain and damage, although some women have no symptoms at all, and is also associated with infertility.

endoscope
A medical instrument used to examine the inside of the body.

engagement
Engagement, also called lightening or dropping, is when the fetus descends into the pelvic cavity. In first-time mothers, this usually happens two to four weeks before delivery; babies of women who have already had children usually don't engage until labour begins.

engorgement
This term describes the breasts becoming full, swollen and tender, usually some time between two days and a week after birth, when a mother's milk comes in. The symptoms usually disappear in a few days.

ENT specialist
A doctor who specialises medically and surgically in ear, nose, and throat conditions.

epidural
A form of pain relief for labour in which anaesthetic is injected into the dural space around the spinal cord. An epidural numbs the lower body, decreasing or eliminating pain, and enabling the woman to save her strength for pushing. It can completely numb the lower body, however, so she may be unable to feel the contractions when it is time to push the baby out.

epilepsy
Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disorder in the UK. Abnormal electrical impulses in the brain cause seizures, which vary in severity from person to person. About 75% of people with epilepsy control the condition with medication. For more information, visit the National Society for Epilepsy website, www.epilepsynse.org.uk.

episiotomy
A surgical cut in the perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus), made to enlarge the vaginal opening and get the baby born more quickly, or to avoid a tear or laceration.

erythema infectiosum
Slapped cheek disease (erythema infectiosum) is also known as fifth disease because it was the last of five 'red rash' childhood diseases to be defined after scarlet fever, measles, rubella, and roseola. It is characterised by fever and red cheeks.

external cephalic version
External cephalic version (ECV) is a procedure in which a doctor, using ultrasound images as a guide, attempts to massage a breech baby into the more favourable 'head-down' position ready for birth.

failure to thrive
A term which refers to the slow growth and development of a baby, characterised by failure to gain weight, delayed development, unwillingness to interact, and gastrointestinal problems. Failure to thrive is almost always the result of inadequate nutrition.

fallopian tube
There are two fallopian tubes, one each side of the uterus, that lead from the area of the ovaries into the uterine cavity. When an ovary releases an egg, the nearest fallopian tube draws it in and transports it down to the uterus.

febrile convulsions
spontaneous contractions and relaxations of the muscles brought about by a high temperature

fertilisation
Conception or fertilisation is the moment when sperm and egg meet, join and form a single cell. It usually takes place in the Fallopian tubes. The fertilised egg then travels into the uterus, where it implants in the lining before developing into an embryo and then a fetus.

fertility specialist
An obstetrician/gynaecologist who specialises in treating people with fertility problems.

fetal alcohol syndrome
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) involves physical and mental birth defects caused by a baby's mother drinking large amounts of alcohol during pregnancy.

fetal distress
Signs of fetal distress - including slowed heartbeat or absence of fetal movement - are watched for throughout labour. If a fetus's life is believed to be in danger, usually because of lack of oxygen, the immediate delivery of the baby is called for.

fetal monitor
The device used to track a fetus's heartbeat and a woman's uterine contractions during labour.

fetal monitoring
Tracking the heartbeat of a fetus and a woman's uterine contractions during labour.

fetal presentation
This describes the position of the baby - such as feet down (breech) or head down (vertex) - inside a woman's uterus. About 96 per cent of babies present in the vertex position; some who initially present in breech position turn before delivery begins.

fetal-maternal exchange
The transfer of oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the baby and the transfer of waste from the baby to the mother.

fetoscopy
In this antenatal diagnostic procedure, a doctor inserts a laparoscope (a small viewing instrument) through a small incision in a pregnant woman's abdomen and uterine wall to look for any abnormalities in the fetus. The procedure carries a 5% risk of miscarriage or premature labour.

fetus
The name given to a growing baby after eight weeks of development; before eight weeks, the developing baby is called an embryo.

fever
Fever occurs when body temperature rises above its normal level - usually defined as 98.6 degrees F/37 degrees C, although this varies by individual and time of day. A fever is a sign of the immune system at work and usually indicates an infection.

fifth disease
Slapped cheek disease (erythema infectiosum) is also known as fifth disease because it was the last of five 'red rash' childhood diseases to be defined after scarlet fever, measles, rubella, and roseola. It is characterised by fever and red cheeks.

fine motor skills
The muscle control required to make small, precise movements, such as picking up a raisin or pushing a button.

folic acid
A B-complex vitamin which is essential for creating new blood cells, folic acid has been shown to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida (incomplete closure of the spine) and anencephaly (partially or completely missing brain). It is recommended that all women trying to conceive should take a supplement of folic acid; good natural sources include liver, beans, and leafy green vegetables.

follicle stimulating hormone
A hormone produced by the pituitary gland to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs.

follicles
Each month several of these small, egg-containing cavities develop on the ovary of an ovulating woman. Each cavity contains a single immature egg; ovulation occurs when a follicle (or sometimes more than one) ruptures and releases an egg.

fontanelle
Fontanelles are soft spots on a baby's head which, during birth, enable the soft bony plates of the skull to flex, allowing the head to pass through the birth canal. Fontanelles are usually completely hardened by a child's second birthday.

forceps delivery
A delivery in which a hinged, tong-like instrument (called a forceps) is used to ease the baby's head through the birth canal.

foreskin
The flap of skin which normally covers the head of the penis; it is removed when a baby is circumcised.

formula
An alternative to breast milk, the baby formulas used in bottle-feeding are usually milk-based but can also be made from soya products.

fraternal twins
Born at the same time but resulting from the fertilisation of two different eggs, fraternal twins are no more genetically similar than siblings; identical twins result from the division of one fertilised egg and are genetically identical.

full-term
A baby is considered full-term if born between 38 and 42 weeks' gestation.

fundal height
The distance between the top of a pregnant woman's uterus (called the fundus) to her pubic bone. It is measured to determine fetal age.

fundus
The upper, rounded portion of the uterus.

gamete intra-fallopian transfer
GIFT is an assisted conception treatment similar to IVF which involves removing eggs from a woman's ovaries, mixing them with sperm, and transferring them to the Fallopian tubes, allowing fertilisation to take place within the woman's body.

gene therapy
An experimental procedure to treat genetic disorders by inserting healthy genes into the body to replace damaged ones.

General Practitioner
A doctor who treats patients of all ages and either sex and can care for the whole family.

genetic counselling
This form of counselling helps prospective parents to evaluate their risks of having a child with congenital abnormalities, and to understand their options for testing and treatment.

genetic disorder
A disease or condition which originates in the genes.

genetic inheritance
The DNA that is passed from parents to children.

genetic screening
Any test used to find genetic abnormalities.

genitals
The external sex organs: the penis and testicles in a male and the labia in a female.

gestation
The period of time a baby is carried in the uterus; full-term gestation is between 38 and 42 weeks (counted from the first day of the last menstrual period).

gestational age
The age of the fetus while in the uterus, counted from the first day of the last menstrual period.

gestational diabetes mellitus
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes (when blood sugar levels become too high) which develops during pregnancy. It can be treated, and usually disappears after pregnancy.

glandular fever
A viral illness characterised by severe fatigue, swollen glands, sore throat, and fever.

glue ear
This is often the result of an ear infection, where fluid is left in the middle ear. It can lead to partial deafness. If it doesn't clear by itself, a child might be advised to have grommets fitted. These are tiny tubes which help to clear the fluid.

gluten-sensitive enteropathy
Coeliac disease or gluten-sensitive enteropathy is an inherited disease caused by an allergic reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. The immune system attacks the lining of the intestines in response to the allergy. This common disease, if left untreated, can leave the intestine unable to absorb essential nutrients and vitamins leading to anaemia, bone disease and, rarely, forms of cancer.

grasping reflex
This reflex is seen when a newborn baby grabs at an object, such as a finger, when it touches her hand. Her hold may be strong enough for you to pull her to a sitting position. The reflex lasts until a baby is three or four months old.

gravida
The medical term for a pregnant woman.

grommets
Grommets are tiny ventilation tubes which may be surgically inserted into the ear drum to relieve chronic ear infections, in an operation known as tympanotomy or tympanostomy.

gross motor skills
The ability to make movements which use the large muscles in the arms, legs, and torso - such as running and jumping.

guardian
An adult who has been given legal responsibility for a minor in place of the biological parents.

gynaecologist
A doctor who specialises in women's reproductive health.

haemolytic disease of the newborn
Also called Rhesus disease or erythroblastosis, haemolytic disease results when a woman who is Rh-negative (meaning she does not carry the Rhesus protein in her blood) has a fetus who is Rh-positive and her immune system makes antibodies against the fetus's blood. The disorder is treated with a compound which prevents the woman's immune system from making antibodies.

haemophilia
A genetic blood disorder, almost always in males, in which blood does not clot properly as a result of an enzyme deficiency.

haemorrhoid
Haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the anus. They are caused by increased blood volume and pressure from the uterus on the veins in the legs and pelvis, and are common during pregnancy. Constipation can also cause (or compound) the problem.

handedness
The preference for using one hand over the other. Most people are right-handed, about 10% are left-handed, and others, who don't favour a hand, are ambidextrous.

health visitor
A health visitor is a registered nurse with qualifications in obstetrics and midwifery, who visits new mothers and babies at home.

hepatitis B
A blood-borne virus (for which there is a vaccine) which primarily affects the liver and, like HIV, has few or no symptoms immediately after infection. It can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, and can cause cirrhosis, chronic active hepatitis, and liver cancer.

hepatitis B vaccine
The vaccine against hepatitis B, a virus which primarily affects the liver.

hernia
Most common in the abdominal wall, a hernia is a bulge of tissue caused by a weak area or tear in the muscle through which tissue protrudes. In babies, hernias are most common in boys or premature infants, and are treated with surgery.

Hib vaccine
A vaccine given to protect against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), a serious bacterial infection which causes ear and airway infections and is the leading cause of meningitis in children under two years of age.

high-risk babies
This term describes those babies who have a greater likelihood of developing an illness or dying within the first few months of life. High-risk babies include those born to mothers infected with HIV or to mothers who have a drug or alcohol dependency.

high-risk pregnancy
A pregnancy with a higher than normal risk of developing complications. Such pregnancies include those with multiple fetuses or Rhesus incompatibility, or when the mother has had problems with miscarriage, premature labour, or placenta praevia in earlier pregnancies.

hormone
A chemical messenger from one cell (or group of cells) to another. Hormones are produced to stimulate or slow down various body functions. The levels of some hormones increase ten-fold during pregnancy.

hot line
A telephone number providing direct access to a company or agency for information, advice, and referrals.

human chorionic gonadotrophin
This hormone is produced by the placenta and triggers the release of oestrogen and progesterone. As it is excreted in urine, hCG is used in testing to detect pregnancy.

human growth hormone
The hormone secreted by the pituitary gland which stimulates and regulates growth.

hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus is a relatively rare condition caused by swelling of the fluid-filled cavities in the brain (called ventricles). It is also called 'water on the brain' . It is sometimes the first sign of spina bifida or can be caused by a tumour or surgery to close an open spinal column.

hymen
A thin membrane which covers the opening of the vagina.