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Thursday, October 25th, 2012
I was in New Orleans for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) annual conference this past weekend, where roughly 8,000 pediatricians convened to share the latest research and policies surrounding kids’ health. If you’ve been following the news (or our blogs) this week, you’ve probably already heard about some of the big stories to come out of the meeting, including research showing that boys are experiencing puberty at earlier ages and the AAP’s conclusion that there’s no evidence showing that organic food improves health or lowers risk of disease. Beyond that, these are among the takeaways that stuck with me:
1. In a presentation by one of our advisors, Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and author of the must-be-bookmarked blog Seattle Mama Doc, Dr. Swanson noted that that more and more parents are confusing experience for expertise. Though she didn’t single out this person, you can consider Jenny McCarthy a perfect example: Her experience with her son’s autism is clearly being confused by some as having an expertise in autism.
2. Another doctor spoke about the importance of a pediatrician getting a family history from patients. It’s not easy, since lots of families don’t necessarily know their health history. In fact, one study showed that only 1/3 of people have ever tried to gather and organize their family’s health history. Have you? It’s most helpful for docs to have info on three generations: yours, your parents’, and your grandparents’ (and, of course, your partner’s parents and grandparents).
3. Along those lines, it’s really important to let your pediatrician know if anyone in your family (or your partner’s family) has died suddenly, or if there’s a new family history of cancer. Your child’s doctor can use this information to consider recommending certain health screenings, either now or down the line.
4. Firearm safety was a big focus at this year’s meeting. Did you know that when you look at the rate of deaths in children up to age 14 in 23 high-income countries, 87% of them occur in the United States?
5. The AAP’s position has not changed: The safest home for a child is one without guns. The next-best option is a home where guns are stored safely (as in locked up), unloaded and separate from the ammunition.
6. Pediatricians are noticing a disturbing trend in the country, where they may find themselves limited by the kinds of information they can share with patients. One example is asking parents whether they have a gun in their home–and then talking to them about gun safety. You may remember the controversial Florida law that passed in 2011 restricting pediatricians from having this conversation. The law was determined to be unconstitutional and was overturned, but Florida’s governor is appealing it.
7. Sexual abuse was the subject of a crowded session. One doctor shared this stat: When a child decides to share that she has been abused, she’s more likely to tell a peer than anyone else. (Abused children tell their peers 53% of the time; an adult relative 32% of the time; a non-related adult 10% of the time, and school personnel 3% of the time. 2% of kids tell someone who falls into an “other” category.) This means, said the expert, that there’s an “underground railroad” of kids who know about other kids being abused. She made a point that we didn’t address in our recent story about sexual abuse: We have to teach our children that if a friend tells them that he’s been abused, they should try and help this friend tell an adult who can do something about it.
8. Several sessions dealt with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)–more than I can remember from past conferences. It’s encouraging to know that 70% of those children who experience trauma have no lasting symptoms. Of the 30% who do have lasting symptoms, though, half recover, and half have a chronic form of PTSD. So it’s important to make sure a child who has suffered a trauma–whether that’s abuse, a car accident, witnessing a violent episode, among other examples–gets help.
9. For everyone with a child who has a food allergy, or diabetes, or asthma, or a similar chronic disease: Emergency medical bracelets are always a good idea, especially if your child goes to a day care center or school. Your child’s usual caregiver or teacher may be very well aware of his condition and how to manage or treat it, but new caregivers or substitute teachers can definitely benefit from the info.
10. Last week, a report came out noting that three major health organizations around the world recommend that kids under 6 get three hours a day of physical activity instead of the one hour that’s currently suggested by groups like the AAP. For those of us who have a child younger than 6, this can feel daunting. (And by younger than 6 we’re not talking about, say, newborns–this guideline is meant for kids who are awake at least 12 hours each day.) But a professor who gave an interesting talk called “The Reluctant Athlete: How To Get the Sedentary Child Off the Sofa” put it into context. The one-hour recommendation is for “moderate to vigorous” activity–and that’s just hard for a young child to pull off–so changing it to three hours gives kids more time to be active. It works out to about 15 minutes per hour, which seems doable.
Image: Female pediatrician checking cute baby with stethoscope via Shutterstock.
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AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, asthma, diabetes, food allergy, gun safety, organic food, physical activity, PTSD, puberty, sexual abuse, trauma | Categories:
Babies, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News, Your Child
Thursday, July 5th, 2012
Help your athletic kids get healthy and fit in your own living room. Home Based Strength Training for Young Athletes is a new, first-of-its-kind DVD/flashcard set created by Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Dr. Metzl worked with the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop this special training program for kids ages 8-18.
Parents, coaches, and health educators can benefit from this DVD as kids become interested in and take more part in sports. Serious problems can occur if the body isn’t used to new exercise routines, so this 2-hour DVD offers easy step-by-step guidelines on how kids can strength train safely and prevent sports injuries.
Kids can also develop strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility without enrolling in expensive gym program, and learn the proper way to stretch before and recover after workouts. Flashcards within the DVD also offer instructions on how to exercise for specific sports at all player levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced). A related mobile app will be available in the near future.
Watch a video of Dr. Metzl lead young athletes in a routine that will develop upper body strength. And see a full list of DVD features on Amazon.com.
(On a related note, if your sports-loving kid gets a head injury, download the Concussion and Recognition Response app.)
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AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, athlete, athletic kids, child health, child safety, health, Health & Safety, kids safety, kids' sports, safety, Sports, sports injuries, sports safety | Categories:
Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Screen Time Higher Than Ever for Children
Children under 8 are spending more time than ever in front of screens, and an “app gap” is emerging between children in affluent and low-income households, a new study found.
President to Ease Student Loan Burden for Low-Income Graduates
An expansion of the income-based college-loan repayment program is expected on Wednesday, lowering monthly payments and allowing some loan consolidation.
Kids Behaving Badly? Blame It on Mom
All little kids can be aggressive, but those who remain explosive by the time they enter kindergarten have their mothers to blame, according to new research published Wednesday in the journal Child Development.
Soda-Drinking Teens More Violent
A study finds that teens who drank more than five cans of non-diet soda per day were significantly more likely to report behaving violently towards others, and more likely to report having carried a gun or knife in the past year, researchers said.
Older First-Time Moms Not at Higher Depression Risk
Women who have their first baby at an older age aren’t at greater risk of postpartum depression, according to a new report that contradicts earlier concerns.
Using Beads to Get Pregnant — or Prevent It
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A new study in the October issue of the Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care finds that a fertility-awareness-based method of family planning developed by researchers from the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) actually works so well for those women who have a pretty regular menstrual cycle that they continued to use it successfully for years.
Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
If you have a baby younger than 1 year of age, chances are that he or she is sleeping in a way that goes against the latest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). At the AAP’s national conference in Boston, which wraps up today, the Academy released their revised policy statement on safe sleeping and SIDS prevention.
Until babies are 1 year old, they should:
Be put to sleep on their back. Always, always, always. At some point, your baby will be able to roll from her back to her front and from her front to her back—and at that point, you can leave her in whatever position she ends up.
Sleep in the same room as—but not the same bed as—their parents. To keep a baby in your room until age 1 may seem… let’s say… difficult, but “these recommendations are most important in the first few months,” says pediatrician Rachel Moon, M.D, lead author of the new guidelines and chair of the AAP SIDS task force. Bedsharing is not recommended at any age, even if you’re using an actual cosleeping device that attaches to the side of your bed. “No bedsharing can be classified as safe,” says Dr. Moon, who adds that babies under 3 months are at a “very, very high risk” of suffocation.
Use a pacifier as often as possible. Pacifiers are associated with a decreased risk of SIDS, perhaps because it may position the tongue in a way that helps keep the airways open, Dr. Moon says. Pacifiers also tend to arouse babies as they sleep (I’ll say! Who else has experienced that sinking feeling every time their newborn’s pacifier popped out of her mouth and woke her up?!), and when babies are able to be easily woken, their risk of SIDS goes down.
Be breastfed. Lots of research backs up the positive connection between nursing and SIDS risk reduction.
Be fully immunized. There may be a protective effect here, too; evidence points to a 50 percent decrease in the risk of SIDS.
Not have anything in their cribs (or bassinets or Pack & Plays) except a tight-fitting sheet. No bumpers—not even the mesh kind. (Chicago now bans the sale of bumpers.) No stuffed animals. No pillows. No blankets. Nothing between the mattress and the sheet to make the surface softer. (“Soft does not equal safe,” says Dr. Moon. “Soft is bad.”) No elevating the head of the crib mattress by propping pillows underneath it, either, because babies can slide down to the bottom of the crib and end up in a position that obstructs their airway, or get wedged between the mattress and the side of the crib.
Not sleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, or sling for more than 60-90 minutes, and even then only under close supervision. Nothing but a crib, bassinet, or Pack & Play is recommended for extended periods of sleep. If your baby falls asleep in one of those other places, Dr. Moon recommends moving him as soon as is practical. Otherwise, they run the risk of sliding or slumping down and boosting the chance of suffocation.
Not sleep with the help of any products marketed as reducing the risk of SIDS. This goes for wedges, positioners, and home apnea monitors. “Parents believe that if a product is sold, it must be safe. They don’t always understand that these items don’t have to be tested or proven to work in order to be in stores,” says Dr. Moon.
She made an important point about why some parents don’t follow safe sleep recommendations. “Everybody thinks their baby is the exception to the rule,” she explains. “They’ll say ‘My baby has reflux.’ ‘My baby was premature.’ ‘My baby’s not a good sleeper.’” But she sees more than her share of infant deaths—at least one per month in her hometown of Washington, D.C. “We have to get the message out.”
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AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, Babies, bedsharing, cosleeping, crib bumpers, M.D., pacifiers, Rachel Moon, safe sleeping, SIDS | Categories:
Babies, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News
Monday, August 15th, 2011
As your child heads to school, make an appointment with the pediatrician to have her receive the necessary immunizations required by your state. Vaccines guard your child against illnesses and diseases that may be encountered outside the home. Parents.com consulted Dr. Daniel McGee of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI to find out what parents should know about immunizations.
Why are immunizations and vaccinations necessary and still important?
The illnesses that are included in the vaccines are real, not just something that occurred in grandma’s day. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been more 150 cases of measles in the United States this year, as well as thousands of cases of whooping cough. Measles outbreaks are occurring more frequently than in previous years.
What are some diseases easily preventable by vaccinations? How effective are vaccinations against these diseases?
Measles, chicken pox, whooping cough as well as certain types of pneumonia and meningitis are the most common vaccine preventable diseases. Immunized children who come down with an illness will usually have a less severe sickness.
Are there any vaccinations parents or adults should get to protect their family?
The only way to prevent whooping cough in children, particularly those under six months of age, is to make sure everyone who will come in contact with them is immunized. This is a concept known as “cocooning.” In fact, 75 percent of the time when an infant comes down with whooping cough, it comes from a parent, sibling, or grandparent.
As kids head to school, are there any new immunization protocols? What should parents be aware of?
Immunization schedules change each year. Although not a new shot, there is a new recommendation that adolescents receive a booster dose of the meningitis vaccine if they received their first dose before age 16. Every person aged 6 months and up should also receive the flu vaccine.
What are the vaccinations all schools require? What are the vaccinations children should always get?
This varies from state to state. The best thing to do is follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines which are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians. With the exception of the HPV vaccine, almost all of the shots recommended by the AAP are required for school.
More About Immunizations and Vaccinations
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AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, back to school, CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV vaccination, immunization, immunizations, measles, school, vaccination, vaccine, vaccines, whooping cough | Categories:
Health & Safety, Must Read, school, Your Child
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
Yesterday’s news about new recommendations for car seat safety and positioning sparked quite a vehement debate among our readers and Facebook followers. The new recommendations, issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, call for children to remain in rear-facing car seats until age two and in booster seats until they are 4’9’’, which would be around age 12.
Many of you voiced your opposition to the new guidelines, which are recommendations and not laws or regulations.
“What a headache,” Jen Shaffer wrote on the Parents magazine Facebook wall. “You know, prior to 1962 car seats didn’t exist…yet generations of babies somehow miraculously survived infancy.”
Others were more specific in their complaints, wondering whether your kids would even fit in rear-facing seats that long, or in boosters until they are in their tweens.
“There is no way my son is going to be rear facing until he is 2! My son now is 9.5months [and is] 32 inches and 23.5 lbs! He is already way too big for his current rear facing carseat. His legs are bunched. I am planning on getting a front facing within the next few weeks,” writes rydersmommy in a comment on GoodyBlog. (more…)
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Thursday, October 14th, 2010
One in five children meets criteria for a mental disorder across their lifetime, national U.S. study shows: Mental disorders in children are often difficult to identify due to the myriad of changes that occur during the normal course of maturation. For the first time, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health have reported on the prevalence data on a broad range of mental disorders in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents, which show that approximately one in five children in the U.S. meet the criteria for a mental disorder severe enough to disrupt their daily lives. [Science Daily]
AAP updates guidance to help families make positive media choices: Today, with the ubiquitous nature of media in multiple formats, the definition of media use has been expanded, and kids are now spending more than 7 hours per day on average using televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices for entertainment. The increasing availability of media, including access to inappropriate content that is not easily supervised, creates an urgent need for parents, pediatricians and educators to understand the various ways that media use affects children and teens. [Medical News Today]
Children’s health insurance coverage varies widely according to U of M researchers: Children’s health insurance coverage still varies significantly at both the state and national levels, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (SPH). In particular, researchers found gaps in coverage that vary across states by age, race/ethnicity and income. [Medical News Today]
Safe Kids USA launches new national initiative to reduce sports injuries in kids: Safe Kids USA has announced the launch of a new educational effort aimed at helping parents, coaches and athletes reduce the more than 3.5 million injuries that occur in youth sports every year in the United States.[i] The nationwide initiative is the latest focus area for Safe Kids USA and its 600 coalitions, which also works to prevent unintentional childhood injury in other areas including drowning, car accidents and poison prevention. [Medical News Today]
India home to 42% of world’s underweight children: “India is home to 42 percent of the world’s underweight children and 31 percent of its stunted children”, according to “2010 Global Hunger Index” report. [Medical News Today]
Nurses critical in assuring health needs of LGBTIQ youth: Five American teenagers, all bullied because they were gay, have committed suicide over the past few weeks. The deaths have caused a media storm and raised a critical question: Did the social or healthcare system fail these adolescents? “Absolutely,” says Concordia University Professor Deborah Dysart-Gale. “Bullying and such resulting suicides are avoidable. Healthcare workers have tools that can help queer teens – no one needs to die because of their sexual orientation.” [Medical News Today]
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2010 Global Hunger Index, AAP, bullying, health insurance, India, LGBTIQ, malnutrition, media, mental disorder, National Institute of Mental Health, Safe Kids USA, statistics, studies | Categories:
Behavior, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News, Your Child
Monday, May 24th, 2010
Pool season kicks off this weekend (yippee!) So it’s helpful to know that drowning prevention guidelines have been updated, and, to confirm the fears of the more germ-aware parents out there, some pools are pretty darn dirty.
Let’s get the gross stuff out of the way. Roughly 12 percent of public pools inspected in 2008 were immediately closed for serious code violations, according to a report released on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The biggest offenders were pools at child care facilities, followed by hotel/motel pools, and then ones at apartments/condos. The CDC recommends we all follow these rules:
- Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.
- Don’t swallow pool water (anyone have tips on how to stop little kids from doing that?! Share your secrets!).
- Bathe with soap and wash your children (especially their bottoms) before swimming.
- Wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
- Take your kids on frequent bathroom breaks and/or change diapers often.
- Change diapers in a designated diaper-changing area, not near the pool.
Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just updated their guidelines to prevent childhood drowning. The highlights:
- All pools should be completely surrounded by fences—even large, inflatable ones.
- Pool owners should install drain covers, safety vacuum-releases systems, and other devices to stop kids’ bodies and hair from getting entrapped in pool drains.
- There may be some benefit to children ages 1 to 4 learning to swim, so the AAP no longer advises against swimming lessons for kids in that age range. (They do not officially recommend it, however, and they have no evidence that infants under 12 months should take swim lessons.)
You’ll find more details on the AAP’s new statement here.
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