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?
I have to be honest: I don’t know the answer to this when it comes to my own children.
More than 40 percent of homes with children have a gun–and it’s often kept unlocked or loaded or both–so it chills me to realize that it’s quite possible my daughter, who’s 5, has had a playdate in a home where there’s a gun. I’ve never asked any parent about this.
It’s a simple concept but feels intimidating, doesn’t it? It could be awkward to ask parents this question, especially if we don’t know them well, right? Maybe… but we need to get over it. Try these tactics to make the conversation go smoothly:
Ask about guns as part of a larger conversation about the playdate. Bring it up along with other things you’d normally discuss–like whether there are pets in the home, any allergies your child might have, whether you need to drop off a booster seat just in case, etc.
Let the facts do the talking. Tell the parent about the 40 percent stat, and mention that many of those guns are unlocked or loaded. Explain that you were so surprised to hear this, you realized that you need to start asking.
Try this script. It comes from our advisor Gary A. Smith, M.D., Dr. Ph.H., director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who offered it when we covered this topic in our July issue’s “Judy on Duty” column: “I have a question that I ask all parents when Kyle goes to a new family’s house. Do you have any guns in your home, and if you do, are they stored unloaded and locked with the ammunition locked in a separate location? Kyle is so curious and I worry that he wouldn’t recognize the potential danger if he came across a weapon.”
If you’ve already had this conversation with a parent, I’d really like to hear how it went. And if you have a gun in your home, tell us how you’d want another parent to broach the subject with you.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended today that toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats until age 2-a full year longer than the previous 1-year guideline. After 2, children should sit in booster seats until they are past 4’ 9”–usually around age 12–and children younger than 13 should always sit in the back seat, the two groups said.
The change was based on U.S. crash data from the past five years, which found that 1-year-olds are five times less likely to be injured in a crash if they are in a rear-facing car seat than if they are in a forward-facing seat. Children younger than 2 have relatively large heads and small necks, and in a front-facing car seat the force of a crash can jerk the child’s head, causing spinal cord injuries, MSNBC reports.
Had the new guidelines been in place over the past 15 years, as many as 1,000 children may have escaped injury in car crashes, according to MSNBC.
Parents of children in the 8-12 range are no doubt wondering how they will possible convince their kids to sit in boosted seats for even more time than they’d expected to.
Skin cancer, including the most serious condition known as melanoma, continues to increase in children and in female teens who visit tanning salons and are constantly exposed to ultraviolet radiation.
Along with wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, and appropriate clothing and hats, the new policy suggests children should limit and minimize outdoor activities during peak midday sun hours (10 am – 4 pm). Children 6 months and younger should be covered at all times and kept out of direct sunlight. The policy also urges support of a new legislation that will prohibit children under 18 from using tanning devices or going to tanning salons.
According to Thomas Rohrer, M.D., Secretary of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, “melanoma is the most common skin cancer in children. In addition, only six severe sunburns in a lifetime increase risk of melanoma by 50 percent. It is important that parents, teachers and physicians encourage sun avoidance and protection by monitoring their children’s moles and freckles for the ABCDEs—asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, diameter, and evolving; encourage children to wear at least 30 SPF sunscreen and reapply it every two to three hours spent outdoors…One study estimated a 78% drop in skin cancer risk if parents protect their children from significant sun exposure in the first 18 years of life.”
Children who freckle and burn easily because of fair skin and light eyes should be extra careful, as well as children with a family history of melanoma. Protecting your children from an early age will go a long way in preventing signs of skin cancer.
I bet a lot of you moms out there grew up babysitting, and started at an age that today would be considered frighteningly young. I had my first paid job when I was 9—and it was the real deal, feeding a 5-year-old dinner, putting her to bed, and hanging out for hours afterward. I had three younger sisters and was a generally responsible kid, but still—THE DAY I would ever hire a 9-year-old to watch my 5-year-old daughter! It’s laughable to me now.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with research on how well 11- to 13-year-old babysitters are able to handle emergencies. Virtually all of them—98%—know who to contact in the event of an intruder (anyone else scared for the kids in the care of the 2% who don’t?). Slightly fewer—96%—know who to call when a child is injured. Only 85% knew who to get in touch with when a child is poisoned.
The more worrisome stats were these: 40% of these sitters admitted to having left kids unattended, and 20% opened the door to strangers.
So all of this begs the question above: Would you hire an 11- to 13-year-old to babysit your child? Take our poll, and let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
A grape, hot dog, gumball, raw carrot—what do all these seemingly innocuous foods have in common? They’re just the right size to block a young child’s airway and choke her. Hot dogs cause the highest number of choking deaths of any food because the rubbery consistency helps them make an airtight seal. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released new recommendations for preventing choking injuries and deaths in kids, and is focusing on food risks. The AAP is calling for the FDA to create new regulations like warning labels on foods that pose a high choking risk and recalls of foods that are significant choking hazards. And they’re also suggesting that manufacturers redesign food products to eliminate choking risks. But there are steps you can take at home:
-Keep round or cylindrical foods away from kids under 4. They shouldn’t eat hard candy, nuts, popcorn, marshmallows, sausages, seeds, apples, or raw carrots.
-Cut hot dogs lengthwise before serving them and cut grapes into quarters.
-Don’t let kids run, play or lie down while they’re eating. Eating quickly and laughing can also cause a kid to choke.
-Don’t let your child throw food in the air and catch it in his mouth.