Meet Dr. Christine Bixby

CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Christine Bixby, a neonatologist. She completed a fellowship in neonatology, as well as her residency and an internship in pediatrics at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. She attended medical school at University of California, Davis. Dr. Bixby is the president of the Orange County Breastfeeding Coalition. Currently the medical director of lactation services at CHOC, she has been on staff at CHOC for nine years.

Dr. Christine Bixby
Meet Dr. Christine Bixby, a neonatologist at CHOC Children’s

Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: Newborn and premature care, and breastfeeding and breast milk use in extremely low birth weight infants.

Q: Are you involved in any current research?

A: Breast milk handling, breast milk use in low birth weight infants, breast milk and feeding in entire Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) population.

Q: What are some new programs or developments within your specialty?
A: Through CHOC’s NICU initiative, the increased number of private rooms will help further facilitate family involvement in infants’ care and allow for a better transition to the family for breastfeeding. It will allow them to be as close to their baby as possible.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: Prematurity and respiratory distress in newborn.

Q: What would you most like patients and families to know about you or your division at CHOC?
A: We focus on involving families in an infant’s care and help them navigate their NICU stay to make sure they’re comfortable with their baby’s care, and understand what’s happening on behalf of their child. I want them to rest assured there really are so many people working tirelessly on behalf of their baby across so many disciplines.

Q:  What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: We’re trying to continually push the envelope of providing better and better care from both a technical standpoint and also from a supporting families standpoint.

Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: My father experienced a serious injury at age two, and only survived it because of the great medical care he received. Once I was older I got the chance to see what medicine was really about, and I realized it’s about using critical thinking skills to get people through a challenging time, both medically and emotionally.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A:  I’d be a park ranger because my father was a park ranger. I love being outside and spending quiet time in nature.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: I love spending time with my children and family, crocheting, inline skating, hiking and camping

Q: What have you learned from your patients?
A: I’ve learned the incredible strength of babies. We underestimate them as a society, but a sick baby is often stronger than a sick adult. I’m continually impressed by my patients’ families and the way they handle challenging diagnoses. They are put into a difficult position, but they process the information and move forward and are wonderful advocates for their children.

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World Breastfeeding Week is Aug. 1-7

CHOC Children's Clinical Nutrition and Lacation ServicesBy Joanne DeMarchi, MA, RD, IBCLC, lactation consultant at CHOC Children’s

In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), below are some helpful guidelines for working moms who wish to breastfeed.

WBW is celebrated every year in more than 170 countries. Its purpose is to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It also encourages government agencies, professional health organizations and advocates to work together to promote awareness of the many benefits of breastfeeding. This year’s theme, “Breastfeeding and Work – Let’s Make it Work!” revisits the 1993 WBW campaign on the Mother-Friendly Workplace Intitiative. Much has been achieved in 22 years of global action supporting women in combining breastfeeding and work.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding after birth and continuing until a baby is at least six months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while a baby continues to be breastfeed for one year or beyond.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Breastfeeding Report Card – United States 2012, exclusive breastfeeding rates in California are 21.7 percent. Although these rates are improving every year, supporting breastfeeding mothers who return to work is key to increasing these numbers. Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to use these strategies:

  1. Buy or rent a double electric breast pump before returning to work. Breast pumps are a covered benefit under most insurance plans. Choosing a high-quality electric pump is particularly important for working moms.
  2. Utilize professional support to solve breastfeeding issues. Most birth hospitals offer lactation consultations. WIC and La Leche League support groups are available in most communities. Kellymom.com posts helpful evidence-based information for breastfeeding moms.
  3. When moms return to work, they can utilize a pump room at their worksite. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide “reasonable break time and a place” for an employee to express breast milk.
  4. Breastfeeding may lower health care costs, fosters better employee retention rates, and boosts productivity and loyalty to employers.
  5. The USDA provides a variety of breastfeeding resources at http://wicworks.nal.usda.gov/breastfeeding.

 Learn more about CHOC Children’s Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services.

Related articles:

  • Meet Dr. Christine Bixby
    CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Christine Bixby, a neonatologist. She completed a fellowship in neonatology, as well as her ...
  • Thank You, Nursing Mothers!
    Another group of people I am extremely grateful for are the community’s nursing mothers, who can also help the babies receiving care at CHOC. Under CHOC’s breast milk donation service, women ...
  • Benefits of Breastfeeding
    “Breast milk is the ideal food for babies. It has the vitamins, protein and fat that a baby needs to grow. It’s easy to digest, contains antibodies that help the ...

 

Thank You, Nursing Mothers!

Another group of people I am extremely grateful for are the community’s nursing mothers, who can also help the babiesCHOC_Breast_Milk_bank receiving care at CHOC.

Under CHOC’s breast milk donation service, women can donate their extra breast milk in the name of CHOC to help premature and sick babies.

Oftentimes, women who give birth prematurely have difficulty nursing, so donations help ensure infants in CHOC’s neonatal intensive care unit have access to breast milk. This is an excellent way for women with extra milk to help ensure babies have bright futures.

The program allows women to pump milk at home, freeze it and send it to a third-party company for processing and safety testing. After it’s pasteurized and standardized, the milk gets sent to CHOC.

On behalf of CHOC physicians and nurses, I thank the mothers who help care for the hospital’s tiniest patients in their own special way.

Learn more about how you can contribute to CHOC’s breast milk donation program.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Mother_Breast_feedingBREAST MILK BENEFITS FOR MOM AND BABY
“Breast milk is the ideal food for babies. It has the vitamins, protein and fat that a baby needs to grow. It’s easy to digest, contains antibodies that help the baby fight off illnesses and lowers the baby’s risk for having asthma, allergies and becoming obese,” says Dr. Bixby, CHOC’s medical director of lactation services. Babies exclusively breastfed for the first six months also tend to have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and diarrhea, Dr. Bixby says. Plus, breastfeeding helps mom and baby bond. The American
Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the World Health Organization all strongly recommend breastfeeding. And, it’s free!

BENEFITS OF DONOR MILK
In the case where a mom can’t produce or sustain her own milk supply, for whatever reason, donor human milk is an excellent alternative to a mother’s breast milk or formula, says Dr. Bixby. “Donor milk isn’t as good as the mother’s own milk but it’s way better than formula, especially for preterm babies or those with gastrointestinal or digestive issues that make it harder for the baby to digest food. Breast milk is designed to help move the gut better. It is a limited resource so at CHOC, we mostly use donor milk for preterm babies under 32 weeks old and also at times for some of our surgical patients.”

LACTATION SERVICES AT CHOC
CHOC’s Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services department seeks to be a helpful source of nutrition and lactation information for patients, their families and the community. Individualized, family-centered and culturally sensitive lactation care is part of CHOC’s interdisciplinary approach to healthcare and wellness. CHOC has board-certified lactation consultants on hand to help patients who are breastfeeding or receiving donor breast milk. For information about inpatient lactation services at CHOC, call (714) 509-8455.

FAST FACTS

  • Percentage of infants in California who were breastfed in 2013: 91.6
  • Percentage of infants nationwide breastfed at 6 months (infants born in 2010) – up from 35% of infants born in 2000: 49%

View the full feature on Babies and Breastfeeding

Dr. Bixby
Dr. Christine Bixby
CHOC Neonatologist

PHYSICIAN FOCUS: DR. CHRISTINE E. BIXBY

Dr. Bixby is CHOC’s medical director of lactation services. Dr. Bixby completed her fellowship in neonatology at Harbor UCLA Medical Center and also completed her residency and internship training in pediatrics at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. She completed a fellowship in neonatology in a joint program between CHOC and Harbor UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Bixby specializes in caring for premature infants and is involved in research studies focusing on issues related to breast milk, establishing a milk supply and using breast milk for premature babies.

Dr. Bixby’s philosophy of care: “My philosophy of care is to bring in the parents and family as part of the healthcare team and making sure they are educated and  comfortable with the care we are giving their children.”

EDUCATION:
University of California, Davis, School of Medicine

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS:
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine

More about Dr. Christine Bixby

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on July 7, 2014, and was written by Amy Bentley.

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Nutrition for Breastfeeding Moms

Nursing mothers are providing their babies with nutrients to help ensure their growth – but what about mom’s diet?

In the latest CHOC Radio podcast, CHOC Children’s clinical dietitians Sue Freck and Gina O’Toole address many questions that breastfeeding moms may have about their own nutrition.

Listen in to hear the dietitians, who both work in CHOC’s neonatal intensive care unit, discuss how many extra calories a nursing mother should eat, what foods to be mindful about, and much more.