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BabyCentre - Glossary of childcare
Category: Health and Medicine > Pregnancy, babies
Date & country: 13/10/2007, UK
Words: 475

sickle cell anaemia
This form of anaemia is a chronic condition inherited from one or both parents which causes the red blood cells to assume a sickle shape. The condition is mainly found in Africa and the West Indies.

six-week check
Both mother and baby will have a thorough medical examination and check-up approximately six weeks after the birth to monitor their overall progress and ensure their good health.

skin disorders
Skin disorders cover a wide range, from rashes to psoriasis to birthmarks.

slapped cheek 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.

sleep apnoea
Short periods during sleep when breathing ceases.

sleep disorders
Sleep disorders occur when the state of reduced consciousness is disturbed. Disorders include sleep apnoea, night terrors, and sleepwalking in older children.

small for dates
This term refers to an infant who is small and of low birthweight, not because of being premature, but because of slow growth during the pregnancy.

Food, other than breast milk or formula, which is introduced to a baby at around four or six months of age.

special care baby unit
A unit in a hospital which provides specialised care to premature babies and babies with serious illnesses.

sperm bank
A sperm bank collects sperm from donors and freezes it ready for use by couples seeking artificial insemination.

A spermicide is a substance which kills sperm. Many couples use spermicidal condoms as part of their approach to birth control.

spina bifida
Spina bifida is a serious congenital condition. The abnormality occurs when the tube housing the central nervous system fails to close completely, which may give rise to severe disabilities.

spinal disorders
Spinal disorders relate to the column of vertebrae extending from the pelvis up to the head, or the nerves running up and down the spinal cord; they include spina bifida and scoliosis.

squat bar
A U-shaped bar which can be attached to a birthing bed if a labouring woman wants to squat when she's ready to push the baby out. Some birthing beds already have this feature attached.

stepping reflex
Newborns have a stepping reflex: they will lift one leg and then the other - taking what may seem to be steps - if they are held upright on a table or other flat surface and supported under the arms.

Sterilisation is the use of a variety of surgical methods to render a man or woman infertile, usually as a permanent form of contraception.

Sterility describes a permanent condition where a man or a woman is unable to have a baby.

Steroids are hormones, formed from cholesterol, which are produced by the adrenal glands. Synthetic steroids are used in a variety of therapies: to control respiratory problems, skin inflammation, ease joint inflammations, and to treat blood disorders.

If a fetus dies in utero before delivery, usually after the 24th week, it is called a stillbirth. The loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks of gestation is called a miscarriage.

stranger anxiety
Stranger anxiety may be marked in some babies, who develop a strong fear of strangers.

strep throat
This is an infection of the throat and tonsils by streptococcus bacteria. It is usually effectively treated with antibiotics.

stretch marks
These marks in the skin are caused by rapidly growing tissue. A common side effect of pregnancy, they are usually apparent on the breasts, abdomen, legs, and buttocks.

subzonal sperm insertion
SUZI may be carried out as part of a treatment cycle of in vitro fertilisation. Rather than being mixed together in a dish, a sperm is injected directly into the egg, just below the outer layer of the egg, the zona pellucida.

surrogate mother
A surrogate mother carries and gives birth to a baby for a couple who cannot have a baby themselves. She hands the baby over to the couple after the birth.

sweat test
In a sweat test, the amount of salt and chloride in a person's sweat are measured to determine cystic fibrosis.

symbiotic stage
This is a term sometimes used to describe the early, close relationship between a mother and a new baby.

An excessively fast heartbeat.

talipes equinovarus
Congenital talipes equinovarus is the most common form of club foot and describes a deformity of the foot and ankle present at birth. The condition results in one or both feet pointing down and inwards. It is much more common in boys. Club foot can be treated with physiotherapy, strapping, splinting or, in severe cases, surgery.

Tay-Sachs disease
This genetic disorder, where an individual lacks an essential enzyme which is needed to break down lipids, can result in severe abnormalities. It is common among Jews of Eastern European origin. A preconception test is often advised for high-risk parents to find out if they carry this recessive gene.

Tens, short for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is a method of pain relief consisting of a pack of electrode pads placed on the back. It discharges an electrical stimulus that interferes with the passage of pain signals to the brain and may help the body to produce endorphins, its own pain-killing hormones. The pack has a hand-held control which can be used to vary the strength of the stimulus.

This is a medication, with varying brand names, sometimes used to stop contractions in premature labour.

The testes form the pair of male sexual glands which produce sperm and testosterone.

Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease which is usually contracted through a deep puncture wound of the skin. The bacteria attack the nervous system and produce lockjaw. Tetanus can be prevented with a vaccine, part of the DTP vaccine for children.

This is the blocking of a vein with a blood clot, which can lead to inflammation.

Thrush is a fungus infection which can affect a baby's mouth and a woman's nipple during breastfeeding.

toilet training
Toilet training is the process of teaching a toddler to control urination and bowel movements. The readiness and ability to do so varies from child to child - generally ranging in age from two to four years.

tonic neck reflex
This reflex describes a baby's automatic response to turn his head to one side while stretching his arm and leg out to the same side.

The tonsils are organs in the back of the throat which act as filters for the lymphatic system. Once routinely removed if infected in young children, they are now left in place unless they are often infected.

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection carried by cats' faeces and uncooked meat. It may cause stillbirth or miscarriage if a woman contracts it for the first time during pregnancy. To reduce the risk of infection, pregnant women should avoid touching a cat's litter tray and always wash their hands thoroughly after handling meat.

A transducer is a device which emits sound waves and transmits them to a computer, resulting in an ultrasound image.

transitional object
A transitional object is any toy, stuffed animal, or blanket to which a child becomes attached and which he uses to comfort himself as he gradually makes the transition to self-comfort rather than being dependent upon his parents for comfort.

Triage is the process of separating out sick or injured people based on their need for medical treatment. In emergencies, staff need to decide which patients get treated first.

A trimester is a period of three months. Pregnancy consists of three trimesters.

trisomy 18
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.

tubal ligation
This is a permanent sterilisation procedure whereby a surgeon ties off a woman's Fallopian tubes in order to prevent conception.

TB is a highly contagious, bacterial disease which affects the lungs and other parts of the body. It can be treated with antibiotics.

This is a surgical procedure which helps to open blocked Fallopian tubes. The procedure can also be used to reverse a tubal ligation

In ultrasound procedures, high-frequency sound waves are used to create a moving image, or sonogram, on a television screen. Ultrasound images can be used to diagnose infertility and other medical problems. Often carried out at various stages of pregnancy, ultrasound scans can help to identify multiple fetuses and detect anomalies.

umbilical cord
The umbilical cord is the spongy, cord-like structure which connects a fetus to the placenta. It carries nourishment and removes waste via two arteries and a vein. The cord is cut after delivery, and when the cord stump falls off, the baby's belly button is revealed.

umbilical hernia
An umbilical hernia occurs when the abdominal wall is pushed out because of a weakness. It can be medically repaired in either a baby or a mother.

The uterus is the pear-shaped, hollow organ in a woman's abdomen where an embryo will implant and develop throughout pregnancy.

A vaccine is a preparation used to immunise a person against a specific disease.

The canal that leads from the outside world to the cervix (also called the birth canal).

vaginal birth
This term describes what happens when a baby is delivered vaginally.

vaginal birth after caesarean
This term is used when a woman who has previously delivered a baby by caesarean section has a vaginal delivery for a subsequent baby.

Chickenpox or varicella is a mild, highly contagious disease characterised by fever and itchy blisters all over the body. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is very common in children but can affect people of all ages.

varicella vaccine
Used in some countries but not routinely in the UK, this vaccine, developed for children, is estimated to be 70-90% effective. If given, it is given at the same time as the MMR vaccine - between 12 and 15 months.

varicose veins
These are abnormally swollen veins, usually on the legs. They are a common, often hereditary condition during pregnancy, and can be helped by wearing support stockings.

vas deferens
The vas deferens is one of two tubes through which sperm travel from the epididymis and combine with seminal fluid ready for ejaculation. A man's vasa deferentia (pl.) are severed in a vasectomy.

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure which will sterilise a man. The procedure cuts the vasa deferentia tubes, preventing sperm from being ejaculated. It is used by many couples as a permanent form of birth control.

A vasography is an infertility test done on a man to determine if his vasa deferentia are blocked. See vas deferens.

A vegan diet is one which excludes any animal products.

A vegetarian diet is one which excludes animal flesh but may include eggs and dairy products.

A ventilator is a device to help an individual breathe. It can also 'breathe for' a patient.

ventouse extraction
In a ventouse delivery, a suction cup attached to a machine is placed on the baby's head to assist the baby's passage through the birth canal.

vernix caseosa
The vernix is a greasy, white substance which covers a fetus in utero. It protects the fetus' skin.

very low birthweight
A very low-birthweight baby is one weighing under 3.3 pounds/1.5 kilograms at birth; these babies are at a higher risk of illness and death.

The term 'viable' describes a baby who is considered capable of living.

A virus is a contagious infection, such as a cold, which can't be treated with antibiotics. Immunisations against certain life-threatening viruses, such as polio and measles, are recommended for babies in the UK.

The vitamins are a group of complex chemical compounds which are vital for the normal functioning of the body. They are often taken in tablet form to supplement daily diets. Pregnant women who want to take a daily supplement to ensure proper nutrition need to check that their supplement contains the recommended dose of folic acid but does not contain Vitamin A. Ask your GP or pharmacist for advice.

whooping cough
Pertussis is a serious, bacterial infection which causes violent coughing. Babies can be protected from the illness through the routine DTP vaccine in the UK.

witch's milk
The milk sometimes produced by a newborn's breasts at birth. It is a hormonal condition which disappears after a few days.

A form of electromagnetic radiation, not visible to the human eye, or a photograph taken with x-rays.

Yellow body
Also called the corpus luteum. The yellow mass of cells that forms in the follicle of the ovary after the release of a mature egg. The yellow body plays a part ion the fertility cycle by secreting progesterone. The progesterone changes the mucus in the cervix so that it becomes impenetrable to sperm. It also acts on the lining of the uterus, which becomes thick and spongy, ready to receive a fertilised egg.

This is a medical term for a newly fertilised egg before it implants into the uterus.