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Babies in the UK, Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands Cry More

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Some things, like cute babies, are pretty much universal. Others, like the amount of time they keep their parents up at night, may not be. New research published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that rates of crying and colic were higher in the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands than they were in the United States, Germany, Denmark, and Japan.

The word “colic” doesn’t refer to any pediatric medical issue in particular; it’s essentially doctor shorthand for “we do not know why your baby is crying so much.” We don’t know what causes colic or how to make it go away. We just know that colicky babies cry—a lot—and that it almost always passes after a few months.

Those few months can feel like a very long time for new parents.

To better understand what goes on during that time, a team of researchers in London compiled data from colic studies on about 8700 babies in eight countries. They compared the incidence of colic and crying, as well as the ages of the wailing infants and how long each child’s issues lasted.

On average, they found, parents dealt with two hours of crying per day in their babies’ first two weeks of life. That number rose until about week six, maxing out at two hours and 15 minutes, then gradually declined. By the time infants were 12 weeks old, they were crying about an hour and 10 minutes per night.

But these are overall averages; the results actually showed significant differences between countries. British, Canadian, Italian, and Dutch babies had more colic than those in Germany, Denmark, and Japan. American babies were somewhere in the middle.

"There are large but normal variations” in the amount of time babies spend crying, lead author Dieter Wolke said in a statement. “We may learn more from looking at cultures where there is less crying and whether this may be due to parenting or other factors relating to pregnancy experiences or genetics.”

Because each country’s babies are different, Wolke says his team’s chart “will help health professionals to reassure parents whether a baby is crying within the normal expected range in the first three months or shows excessive crying which may require further evaluation and extra support for the parents."

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History
The Doctor Who Modernized Royal Births—in the 1970s
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When Prince William eventually ascends to the English throne, he’ll be the first British monarch ever born in a hospital. And he has a man named George Pinker to thank for that.

Royal births have always been fraught affairs due to the thorny issues of birthright and succession. Throughout history, English royal women were expected to give birth in rooms filled with spectators and witnesses—in part to avoid a pretender to the throne being switched with the royal baby at birth.

That made childbirth a grueling ceremony for queens, many of whom had to give birth to stillborn or dying children in the company of scores of strangers. In 1688, after 11 tragic attempts to produce an heir to James II’s throne, Mary of Modena gave birth in front of an audience of 67 people. (It was even worse for Marie Antoinette, who gave birth in 1778 in front of so many people the onlookers nearly crushed her.) And even after births became more private affairs, archbishops and officials attended them as late as 1936.

Of course, doctors have long been part of that crowd. The royal household—the group of support staff that helps royals at their various residences—has included physicians for hundreds of years, who have often been called upon to perform various gynecological duties for royal women. They have frequently been dispatched to serve other family members, too, especially those giving birth to important heirs.

Even when hospitals became popular places for childbirth at the turn of the last century, English royals continued having kids at home in their palaces, castles, and houses. Elizabeth II was delivered via Caesarean section in 1926 at her grandmother’s house in London. When she became queen, her royal surgeon gynecologists recommended she deliver her children at home, bringing in equipment to turn the space into a maternity ward.

Yet it was one of her gynecologists, John Peel, who ended up changing his tune on delivering children in hospitals, and in the 1970s he published an influential report that recommended all women do so. When he stepped down in 1973, the queen’s new royal gynecologist, George Pinker, insisted the royals get in line, too.

Pinker was different from his predecessors. For one, he skipped out on a potential career in opera to practice medicine. He had been offered a contract with an opera company, but when asked to choose between music and medicine, the choice was clear. Instead, he stayed involved with music—becoming assistant concert director at the Reading Symphony Orchestra and vice president of the London Choral Society—while maintaining his medical career.

He was also the youngest doctor ever to practice as royal surgeon gynecologist—just 48 when he was appointed. He supported controversial medical advances like in vitro fertilization. And he insisted that his patients’ welfare—not tradition—dictate royal births.

“It is very important for mothers to accept modern medical assistance and not to feel guilty if they need epidural or a Caesarean,” he told an interviewer. Pinker recommended that pregnant women lead as normal a life as possible—no easy task for royals whose every move was spied on and picked apart by the public. In fact, the doctor being anywhere near the queen or her family, even when he was not there to treat a pregnant woman, was seen as a sign that a royal was pregnant.

When Princess Diana delivered her first son, it was at a royal room in a hospital. “Most people marveled at the decision to have the royal baby in such surroundings rather than Buckingham Palace,” wrote The Guardian’s Penny Chorlton. Turns out the surroundings were pretty plush anyway: Diana delivered in her very own wing of the hospital.

Pinker served as the queen’s royal gynecologist for 17 years, delivering nine royal babies in all, including Prince William and Prince Harry. All were born at hospitals. So were William’s two children—under supervision of the royal gynecologist, of course.

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What the First Year of Life Looks Like Through the Eyes of a Baby
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A baby's vision undergoes a series of significant developments during its first year of life, and these developments have been visually replicated, month by month, in a recent video from Tech Insider.

The unfortunate news for any parent who has ever felt like their newborn was gazing into their eyes: Until the third month, babies can't actually identify facial features, which include eyes and mouths. Also, they can't focus their eyes on any subject more than 10 inches from their face for the first three months.

At the 6-month mark, babies are finally able to construct a 3D view of the world—something that later comes in handy at 9 months, when their eye-hand coordination is finally developed enough to grab hold of objects.

Though humans' eyes aren't fully developed until age 2, babies do have a leg up on adults in one area: A 2016 study found that babies between the ages of 3 and 4 months old can see slight differences in images caused by changes in illumination, while adults cannot.

Watch the video from Tech Insider below:

[h/t: Tech Insider]

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