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Saturday, October 1st, 2011
Think pink in October for breast cancer awareness. According to the CDC, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the U.S. We spoke to Julie Aigner Clark, founder of The Baby Einstein Company, mother of two kids, and 44-year-old breast cancer survivor about her tips for talking to kids about breast cancer. She recently published a picture book, “You Are the Best Medicine,” which helps kids understand what it means when a loved one has been dignosed with cancer. Proceeds for the book go to UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.
1- Your picture book, “You Are the Best Medicine,” shares tips for explaining cancer to children. What are some of the tips for moms to approach the topic with younger and older kids?
I don’t think kids younger than 5 need to know more than ”Mommy is sick and has to take medicine that makes her feel bad for awhile.” Here are my tips:
- Be honest but don’t explain too much. Think of it as talking to kids about sex. The older they get, the more you can go into the specifics.
- Let them know how much they can help just by loving you. Ask them to read to you, crawl into bed with you, and snuggle. Kids really are the best medicine!
- Tell them right away that they can’t “catch” cancer from you, no matter what. This seems obvious, but kids are quite literal. They’ve been told to stay away from sick people!
- Take them with you, once, to a chemo appointment. This takes the mystery out of what’s going on while you’re at the doctor. Explain the IV, the fluids, and the process to the degree that they’ll understand.
If kids do want to understand a little more about why or how a parent (or someone else they know) is sick, there are also excellent children’s books. One that explains cancer really well is “Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings” by Ellen McVicker, a fellow survivor. My own book shares how important love is to a parent going through treatment and focuses on the non-medical parts of the illness that kids can expect.
2- How did your own breast cancer experience with your daughters inspire you to develop these tips?
My kids were 6 and 9 the first time I was diagnosed; they were 11 and 13 the second time. I wish I’d been more open with them the second time around, when they were old enough to know that this is a life-threatening disease. I was trying to deal with the diagnosis myself, especially the stage 4 part. I was scared and sad, and I tried to protect my kids, but they knew. Our children understand us, and anxiety is a pretty powerful emotion to cover up. I did my best, but in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t tried to hide my fear.
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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
Thursday, January 6th, 2011
In 1998, a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield published a research paper suggestion autism in children was linked to the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine. The groundbreaking research was published in The Lancet, a medical journal specialzing in oncology, neurology, and infectious diseases.
While some medical professionals were skeptical of the research results and discredited it, some doctors and parents voiced their support for the research and became suspicious about other vaccines. Some moms, including celeb mom Jenny McCarthy, became pickier about vaccinations or stopped vaccinating their children completely.
Even though The Lancet retracted Dr. Wakefield’s research in early 2010, a recent editorial in the the British Medical Journal has publicly denounced Dr. Wakefield’s research as “fraudulent.” The editorial asserts that Dr. Wakefield “falsified data” and tampered with his research results to give the (MMR) vaccine bad publicity. At the time, Dr. Wakefield was involved in a lawsuit against the manufacturers of the (MMR) vaccine and would have gained money for winning–an obvious conflict of interest.
After the research was released in 1998, there was a sharp decrease in parents giving their children the (MMR) vaccine. Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 90% of children in the United States are vaccinated, mumps remain the second most common disease that can be easily vaccinated. Also, in 2008, reports for measles reached an all-time high since 1997, and about 90% of the kids with measles hadn’t been vaccinated.
Since Dr. Wakefield has been unable to reproduce his research results and there are no other conclusive studies, there is no proof that autism is linked to the (MMR) vaccine or other vaccines. However, the new information has lead parents to wonder if they should have vaccinated their children, while doctors are disturbed how one study prevented children from getting necessary medical attention.
More Health Content on Parents.com:
As a parent, do you believe autism is still linked to vaccinations ? Do you vaccinate your children and will you continue to do so? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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autism, CDC, centers, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, health, Health & Safety, Jenny McCarthy, measles, MMR vaccine, mumps, the lanc, vaccination, vaccinations, vaccine, vaccines | Categories:
GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News
Monday, November 15th, 2010
Pop quiz for you:
Which of these conditions are not helped by antibiotics?
D. Non-strep sore throats
The answer is: It’s a trick question—none of those ailments warrant antibiotics, because they’re all caused by viruses, and viruses don’t respond to antibiotics. In fact, if you take the drugs, not only will you feel no better, you’ll just set yourself up for possible failure later on, when you have an illness that really could be helped by the meds.
Antibiotic resistance is on its way to becoming one of the world’s biggest public health threats—it’s estimated that roughly half of antibiotics are unnecessarily prescribed—and this is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated November 15 to 21 its third annual “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week.”
The CDC breaks down the illnesses that benefit from antibiotics and the ones that don’t here. Even if you think you know this info already, it’s worth taking a peek to make sure you’ve got all the facts.
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antibiotic resistance, antibiotics, bronchitis, CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colds, flu, sore throat | Categories:
Babies, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News, Your Child, Your Life
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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Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
This is National Infant Immunization Week, commemorated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stress the importance of vaccinations. This year there’s a new component: the Protect Tomorrow campaign. The point of this campaign, launched by the American Academy of Pediatrics, is to remind parents of the diseases that once wreaked so much havoc in the lives of children—ones like mumps, measles, and diphtheria—which are all nearly eradicated, but could easily resurface in a big way if we don’t immunize our kids.
One of our advisors, pediatrician Alanna Levine, M.D., is a big supporter of Protect Tomorrow. “I feel especially connected to this project because my father suffered from polio as a child,” she told us. “His story of being 13 years old and sitting in a glass cubicle, watching the man next to him die, has had a huge impact on me, and I hope it will do the same for parents who have concerns about vaccinating their own children.”
We at Parents stay on top of the research on vaccines. We understand the fears mothers and fathers have. And we realize that all of the conflicting advice out there can be unnerving. But ultimately, we emphasize that all approved vaccines are safe for healthy children. To this end, we’re running a story in our May issue called “Vaccines: Getting to the Point.” It’s a thoroughly reported examination of the theories and myths that still abound on the topic, and it may put to rest a few of your own.
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AAP, Alanna Levine, CDC, diphtheria, immunizations, M.D., measles, mumps, National Infant Immunization Week, Protect Tomorrow, vaccines | Categories:
GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News
Friday, December 18th, 2009
Today the CDC released an eye-opening study you’ll be hearing a lot about: It says that approximately 1 percent of children in the U.S. have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is the result of data examining the number of 8-year-olds diagnosed with the disorder in 2002 and comparing it to the number in 2006. It represents an increase of 57 percent over those four years—and a leap of nearly 600 percent from two decades ago.
We asked Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., chief science officer of Autism Speaks, for her thoughts on the findings: “It’s a really important study because it validates the staggering increase in prevalence we’ve seen over the last four years.” Staggering, indeed: Whereas 20 years ago, it was believed that nearly 1 in 5,000 children had an ASD, the number today is more like 1 in 110. Breaking it down along gender lines, 1 in 70 boys are estimated to have an ASD; for girls, it’s 1 in 315. Why so many more boys than girls are affected is just one of the questions this study raises.
The biggest question, of course, is what’s behind the rise? For now, no one can say for sure. As Dr. Dawson put it, “We still have a very poor understanding of the causes of autism.” Yes, we have a better understanding of autism disorders now than we ever have, and therefore more children are diagnosed, and at younger ages. But that doesn’t fully account for the increase. Experts including Dr. Dawson say that environmental factors must be studied further, to understand how they interact with genetic susceptibilities. “This information is a call to action for the federal government to fund a large-scale study,” says Dr. Dawson.
Autism Speaks has an advocacy arm called Autism Votes, which tracks autism-related legislative efforts all across the country. It’s a good site to visit if you’re looking for a way to voice your support for more funding, more services, and more research. Want to talk to other moms of kids on the autism spectrum about this news? Join our group in the Parents.com Community.
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