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Thursday, January 17th, 2013
Yesterday we brought you flu advice for kids, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, we’re focusing on what pregnant women need to know, thanks to the March of Dimes. This post was written by Siobhan Dolan, M.D., M.P.H. Dr. Dolan is the author of the upcoming Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby: The Ultimate Pregnancy Guide, to be published on January 29 by HarperOne.
Flu is back in the headlines again. Epidemics, Emergencies, Shortages ……… the publicity can scare folks, especially pregnant women. Flu is taking its toll in 2013 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting widespread illness reported in 47 states and 20 pediatric deaths.
The concerns for pregnant women are real: Flu increases their risk for respiratory complications, preterm labor and delivery, and ICU admission. Newborns are also at an increased risk of severe illness and even death from the flu.
But the message for pregnant women is really clear: Prevention with a flu shot and early treatment of women with influenza-like illness is the best course of action. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), March of Dimes, and CDC all endorse this message, so women should not feel uncertain.
The March of Dimes web site has practical information for women here.
The Immunization for Women website from ACOG reinforces the message:
“All women who will be pregnant during influenza (flu) season (October through May) should receive the inactivated influenza vaccine. The live attenuated influenza vaccine is contraindicated for pregnant women. The influenza vaccine is safe for pregnant women and their unborn children as well as postpartum and breast feeding women and can be given during any trimester. Immunizing pregnant and postpartum women against seasonal influenza can protect the mother and may help her baby by preventing the spread of the flu from mother to child following delivery. The seasonal flu vaccine has been given safely to millions of pregnant women over the past 45 years.”
Women are listening, with 47 percent of pregnant women surveyed by CDC in early 2012 reporting getting their flu shot, up from less than 30 percent four years ago.
So go get your flu shot. And tell your pregnant sister-in-law or co-worker to get hers, too. Let’s help keep pregnant women and newborns out of the headlines by spreading the word.
Photo: Pregnant with a cold via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
This comes to us from our friends at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
As a parent, you always do everything you can to keep your family safe. With flu season starting early this year, have you taken the steps to protect yourself and your family from flu? Most of the country is now seeing high levels of flu activity, and this may continue for some time. Unfortunately, there is nothing that provides 100% protection against flu. However, flu vaccine is the single best way to protect against seasonal flu and is especially important for children younger than 5 and children of any age with other health complications such as asthma, neurological disease or immune deficiencies. Here are six important things parents should know:
1. A flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu. If anyone in your family hasn’t gotten a flu vaccine yet, go get vaccinated now! With very few exceptions, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated each year, and it’s especially important for people at high risk to get vaccinated. If your child has a high risk condition or an egg allergy, ask your doctor which vaccine is best. Also, flu vaccine may be a little harder to find now than it was in the fall, so you may need to contact more than one provider (pharmacy, health department, or doctor) to find available vaccine. The flu vaccine locator may be helpful to you in your search.
2. Flu vaccines cannot give you the flu. Flu vaccines cannot give you the flu because they are made from killed or weakened influenza viruses. Unfortunately, there are a couple reasons why it’s still possible to get the flu even if you were vaccinated. First, people may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period (roughly two weeks) it takes the body to build its immune response after vaccination. Second, there’s a possibility of catching a flu virus not included in the vaccine. And last, some people can get sick with a flu virus that’s in the vaccine even if they got vaccinated, partly due to health and age factors.
3. Stay away from sick people. Flu spreads mainly in the droplets of sick people who are coughing and sneezing, so have your family stay away from people who are sick as much as possible, and, if you are sick, stay away from people who are well. Both kids and parents should stay home during illness and for at least 24 hours after fever is gone unless medical care is needed. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
4. Ask your doctor about antiviral drugs. If your family does get sick with the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat the illness. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. If you or someone in your family has a high risk condition, antiviral drugs are especially important, and treatment should be started as soon as possible. A doctor will decide whether antiviral drugs are needed (you will need a prescription to get them), but you need to take the first step by asking the doctor about your illness.
5. “Everyday healthy habits” are still important. Make sure everyone in your family knows to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. And remember to wash hands with soap and water often. These last tips are good ones to live by during and outside of flu season and can help protect against the spread of other viruses too. Let’s all do our part to prevent the flu!
6. Know when to seek medical attention. Parents should seek medical attention if their child is not drinking enough fluids, if there is persistent or severe vomiting, if flu-like symptoms linger or improves and returns, if there is difficulty breathing, or other health conditions that are accompanied by flu symptoms, including a fever and/or cough. For infants, parents should watch for signs of inability to eat, trouble breathing, no tears when crying, and significantly fewer wet diapers than normal.
For more questions about influenza and ways to prevent it, visit: cdc.gov/flu or flu.gov.
Photo: Little girl is blowing her nose via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Cold and flu season is upon us, and this week’s spotlight on influenza vaccinations is a perfect reminder to take your child to the pediatrician for a flu vaccine (if you haven’t done so already). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2011-2012 flu vaccine will safeguard against three viruses: influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H2N2), and influenza B.
Getting the flu vaccine will protect your family and loved ones from worse symptoms. Read more about the importance of getting a flu vaccine below.
Here are more resources recommended by Shot of Prevention, a community blog that brings you the latest news and guidelines about immunizations, which recently hosted a conference call (sponsored by Every Child by Two and Families Fighting Flu) to raise awareness about flu vaccines.
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Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
Few Parents Recall Doctor Saying Child Overweight
Pediatricians are supposed to track if youngsters are putting on too many pounds — but a new study found less than a quarter of parents of overweight children recall the doctor ever saying there was a problem.
Study Finds How Child Abuse Changes the Brain
Children exposed to family violence show the same pattern of activity in their brains as soldiers exposed to combat, scientists said on Monday.
Flu Vaccination Rates Up, Especially Among Kids
Some 36.7% of children aged 6 months to 17 years had received a flu shot as of early November, an increase of 6.1 percentage points from the same time last year, according to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New Bill Alerts Parents to Teen Driving Habits
A new bill is headed to Florida’s house and senate aiming to increase safety by keeping parents in the know.
Teeth-Grinding Could Signal Sleep Problems
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Sleep-related bruxism is the official term for grinding your teeth during sleep. It occurs in approximately 14% to 17% of children, although these rates decrease with age.
Friday, November 11th, 2011
New Advice on Kids’ Cholesterol Tests
More children should be screened for high cholesterol before puberty, beyond those with a family history of problems, according to wide-ranging new guidelines expected from government-appointed experts who are trying to prevent heart disease later in life.
Tens of Thousands of Tots Die from Flu Each Year
Tens of thousands of young children die around the world each year of influenza-related respiratory illness, most of them in developing countries, according to a newly released study.
Can Fetus Sense Mother’s Psychological State? Study Suggests Yes
As a fetus grows, it’s constantly getting messages from its mother. It’s not just hearing her heartbeat and whatever music she might play to her belly; it also gets chemical signals through the placenta. A new study, which will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that this includes signals about the mother’s mental state.
Big Belly Before Pregnancy May Mean Extra-Big Baby
Women who have large waistlines before pregnancy may be more likely to have a larger-than-normal newborn than women who are trim around the middle, a new study suggests.
Can Placenta Pills Ward Off Postpartum Blues?
Some women swear eating their placenta has helped with their postpartum depression, but experts aren’t so sure.
Mom Rescues Daughter from Washing Machine
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The owner of a laundromat in Washington state says a quick-thinking mother smashed the glass and rescued her 5-year-old daughter after the girl somehow got trapped in the machine as it filled with water.
Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
Some Young Children May Need Only One Flu Shot This Year
Usually, children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years need to get two vaccines given four weeks apart. But experts are saying that some children who would normally need two flu vaccines, only need one dose this year, IF they got vaccinated last year.
Video Games Improve Adult ‘Lazy Eye,’ Study Suggests
Although amblyopia can be successfully treated in children by putting a patch over the “good eye” to force the brain to use the weaker “lazy eye,” few options are available for adults with this condition. But a recent study shows a 30% increase in visual acuity for adults who play video games.
One Sperm Donor, 150 Offspring
There is growing concern among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences of having so many children fathered by the same donors, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population.
At Elite New York Schools, Admissions Policies Are Evolving
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With an acceptance rate of 2.4% percent for incoming kindergarten students with no ties to the prestigious Trinity school, elite New York schools are beginning to change longstanding admissions practices as they try to balance institutional loyalty and a diverse student body.