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Friday, October 4th, 2013
Flu season is approaching, but that won’t stop Tia Mowry. Parents chatted with her upon the launch of a new flu vaccine and she shared tips for dealing with a sick baby, having a different parenting style than her twin, Tamera, and she let us help her cement her upcoming Halloween plans!
P: What makes you so passionate about this health issue in particular?
TM: I’m a busy mom. I’m always on the go. I’m an entrepreneuer, I’m a wife, I’m a sister, I’m a working mom, but my family’s health is my number one priority and my health is my number one priority. To be honest with you I never realized the importance of the flu vaccination, but after really understanding how the flu can take a huge toll on the entire family—because we all know once a mom is down or sick it’s instant chaos—I realized that it was really important to make sure that flu vaccinations were a part of my family’s annual routine.
P: What would you say to the mom who is nervous about vaccinating her child?
TM: When we think about vaccinations, we think about needles. Needles aren’t, I don’t think, anyone’s best friend. That creates a sense of fear when it comes to vaccinations. One thing I love about FluMist Quadrivalent: it’s needle-free. You know you’re not going to have a crying child leave the pediatrician’s office, which is a plus. (Editor’s note: The flu mist is for children ages 2 and up.) The other thing is, it’s FDA-approved, and when I know things have been FDA-approved I feel ok about that. I want to protect my child in the best way that I possibly can.
P: When Cree does get sick, what are your non-medicine ways to help him feel better?
TM: The first thing that I do when my son gets sick is give him extra extra extra love and extra attention. Kids get scared. They don’t know what’s going on with their bodies and things are happening that doesn’t normally happen, they’re sneezing, they’re coughing and they get scared. Just to support them in a way that they feel comfortable, whether that’s letting them sleep with you, taking a nap with them, doing soft gentle things with them, I think is beneficial.
The other thing is: Vick’s has always been huge in my family. It just helps. I actually put Vicks on the bottom of his feet, it helps with coughs and it really really works. Instead of just applying it on the chest or the back, I apply it on his feet and put little socks over. Then I get a humidifier going and he’s fine.
P: Speaking of mom advice, you came out with your book of pregnancy tales and advice last year. What is the single most valuable piece of advice you want pregnant moms to know?
TM: The most difficult thing for me was worrying that everything would be okay. The best thing that I could say is “just relax.” I know it’s easier said than done and I’ve been through it already, but the more relaxed you are the better it will be for you and the baby. Don’t get on the internet and try to look at every wrong possible scenario that could happen. And sleep while you can. Everybody would tell me this, but I would not listen. Make sure you get as much sleep as you possibly can because when you become a mom—sleep, what? There is no such thing as sleep.
For moms in general, follow your instincts. I believe we have been born to do this, to be moms. We’re natural nurturers, so trust your instincts. Go at your own pace. I never realized how much judgment comes with certain parenting styles. Do what’s best for you and your family and that’s ok. If you are an attachment parent and you have the type of style, that’s fine. If you’re not, that’s fine. Don’t judge other moms. I think that’s the worst thing you can do to any mom and any child. Whether it’s breastfeeding, not breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping. Every parent has their own journey.
P: Your sister, Tamera, is also a new mom. Are your parenting styles similar or different?
TM: My sister and I have very different parenting styles. I’m definitely more of the attachment parent. I sleep with my son. I pay close attention to his emotional needs. If I could have breasfed until he was 2, I would have. I loved breastfeeding. That’s why we came out with Need Milky, because I was devastated that my milk dried up after three months. I’m not going to spank my child. I don’t believe in spanking. I was spanked as a child, so I have an interesting perspective about that. I do believe in setting boundaries. I think a child definitely has to understand their boundaries because when they go out in the real world not everything is going to go their way, but I don’t think that spanking is a form of discipline that works for everybody.
P: As twins and as co-stars you are so close, how do you deal with a clash about parenting styles?
TM: I’m going to be honest, that’s why I say “don’t be judgmental.” Sometimes I would think “Oh my gosh, are you judging me? Are you judging my parenting style? Do you think I’m not a good mom or a good parent because I’m co-sleeping with my child and you’re deciding not to?” We’ve realized that we have different lifestyles. There’s a reason why I do what I do. I work a lot. When I’m gone from my child, to then be able to sleep with him and to be able to feel his hand on my face and to hear him go “Muhmuh” in the middle of the night it melts my heart. Whereas, Tamera, she’s more at home so maybe she wants to have a little break. What helped us with that clash is not judging one another. We do what we do because it’s what’s best for our families, not that we believe one is the right way or the wrong way of parenting.
P: It’s interesting because obviously you came from the same family, but have very different interpretations of the events that you both experienced and how that translates to your sons.
TM: It shows how your children are watching. My sister’s way of parenting is very close to my mom’s way of parenting, whereas I’m like the free one. I’m the free bird. I like to try different approaches and have a mind of my own in a way. So I say, “Ok that worked for you, but I see it differently.” It’s interesting when you have your mom saying, “Honey, why does your 2-year-old still have a bottle.” And I say, “If he wants to have a bottle—this is what I mean by listening to him emotionally—he can have a bottle.” I know he’s not going to be 9 years old with a bottle, so if he wants to suck a bottle right now and that’s bringing him comfort, that’s fine. I trust my child in his development.
P: Speaking of age and developmental milestones, I know that Cree is 2. What is your favorite thing about this age?
TM: My favorite thing about this age is that I can now communicate with my child. I can kind of understand what he’s saying. There’s a lot of babbling. I love the way when I’m driving and we’ve been in the car for about an hour and he wants Mommy’s attention he says “hand, hand, hand” and I can reach back and give him my hand. I like the way I’m able to understand him more, he’s able to understand me more. I like the way he’s able to have his own point of view now or his own interests. He likes Curious George. He likes Thomas the Train. He was not too fond about the Chica show. That’s fine. I like that. Little bits of his personality are coming out.
P: Now that he’s vaccinated and there is no fear of going out and catching the flu, what is your favorite autumn and winter activities that you’re looking forward to sharing with Cree?
TM: My son loves being outside. He’s living up to his name, Cree, after a tribe of Native Americans who were warriors who would travel around the world. He always wants to go out and about. We love going to The Grove in L.A. For winter there is Santa Claus and there’s this big huge tree and he gets to meet Santa Claus, so that’s what I’m looking forward to. I also just got him a new wardrobe at Zara. I love ZaraKids. He’s looking like a little Jay-Z, he has on these puffy bubble jackets with these cool corduroy pants and boots. I can’t wait to dress him in fun fall clothes.
P: Speaking of dressing up, Halloween is upon us. Do you have a costume planned for him?
TM: I have to tell this story. I was working last year for Halloween, I was doing Baggage Claim. My husband took my son around the block for Halloween. My husband dressed as Mario and my son was dressed as a frog. It was so cute. For the other one he was a boxer—I had to get him more than one because it was his first Halloween. This year I think I want to be a Geisha with the whole makeup, but I don’t know what Cree could be.
P: Maybe a little sushi roll?
TM: Oh that’s such a good idea! That is so cute. And then what should my husband be? A samurai!
P: Will he go trick-or-treating with his cousin or is Tamera’s Aden too young?
TM: He will be dressed up and I think that will be great. I’m thinking about having a huge Halloween party at my house and having all cool punches and desserts and food that’s very Halloween-themed. That’s what I want to do.
P: I know that Instant Mom is coming up. Is your character’s mothering anything like what it is with Cree, or maybe when Cree gets older?
TM: I think where Stephanie Phillips’ parenting skills are right now is kind of like how I was when I first had Cree. When you’re a new mom, you’re a fish out of water. You don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s trial and error basically. You can read all these books and get advice, but you kind of have to go through the experience yourself. So it reminds me of that, when I was a new mom. People would say that I’m a fun mom and I’m a hot mama and Stephanie is that. She is a hot, fun mom. She definitely has not lost who she is and her essence as a woman now that she’s become a mom and that’s how I am. But I add a lot of my own personality to my character, that she is just a lot of fun but when it comes down to discipline she’s serious with the kids. She feels “I know I’m your mom and you want me to be your friend, but at the same time I’m the mom.” But for me, my goal is to be the best mom I can possibly be.
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Wednesday, July 17th, 2013
The following post is by Darshak Sanghavi, M.D., a contributing editor to Parents and author of A Map of the Child: A Pediatrician’s Tour of the Body.
Barbara Walters announced earlier this week that Jenny McCarthy will begin co-hosting The View this fall, taking one of the chairs vacated by Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Joy Behar. Walters said in a statement that McCarthy “brings us intelligence as well as warmth” and “can be serious and outrageous.”
This decision has outraged many pediatricians and public health experts. For years, McCarthy has been one of the most public faces of the deadly anti-vaccine movement. The notion that vaccines cause autism has been discredited thoroughly. The British doctor who first proposed a link 15 years ago was found to engage in “callous disregard,” his article was retracted as erroneous by the journal that published it, and almost every author of the work has distanced themselves from it. However, the belief in a vaccine-autism link has survived with religious fervor ever since.
McCarthy isn’t the only Hollywood type to spout anti-vaccine nonsense (Chuck Norris and Rob Schneider have joined the bandwagon), but McCarthy even scorns reports of children dying of vaccine-preventable illnesses as a necessary price for her advocacy. “I do believe, sadly, it’s going to take some disease coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe,” she blithely told Jeffrey Kluger of Time in 2009. (Only a month earlier, 1-month-old Dana McCaffery had died of whooping cough in an area with low vaccination rates in Australia. Over the past few years, vaccine-preventable illnesses and deaths have been tracked by jennymccarthybodycount.com.)
As Discover magazine points out, McCarthy’s concern about vaccine-related danger to brain cells is ironic, given she has no problem with getting regular cosmetic injections with the most potent neurotoxin known to mankind.
A spokesperson for The View said McCarthy would be free to discuss her anti-vaccine views on air. But why does any of this matter? After all, what parent gets their medical advice from The View?
The truth is that, for better or worse, celebrities have the power to influence people. In 2000, after her husband died of colon cancer, Today show host Katie Couric underwent an on-air screening colonoscopy, and nationally for about a year, colonoscopy rates suddenly jumped by 50 percent. Pop singer Kylie Minogue’s diagnosis of breast cancer led to a 20 percent jump in mammograms in Australia. When storylines about genetic testing for breast cancer appeared in Grey’s Anatomy and ER in 2006, viewers’ knowledge increased. Like it or not, celebrities have powerful effects on people’s health behavior and beliefs.
Still, one might argue: What is the harm in having McCarthy discuss her vaccine beliefs on The View? After all, people can hear all sides of the so-called “controversy” and make up their own minds. But as social scientists point out, repeating a claim–even if one’s trying to debunk it–only increases its apparent truthfulness. In other words, even if someone says a claim is wrong, hearing it over and over again makes people think it’s true. (A similar example concerns the untrue rumor that President Barack Obama is Muslim. The more it’s denied, the more some people tend to believe it.) That is the danger of giving McCarthy a platform to repeat her anti-vaccine claims to 3 million television viewers. No matter what the other hosts may say, a sizeable number of viewers will question and refuse vaccination for their children as a result.
It’s too bad that among the many intelligent, sassy, and provocative women the ABC could have chosen, they hired someone whose work has the potential to endanger children’s health. So for now, I’ll just hope that McCarthy keeps her erroneous vaccine beliefs to herself.
Image: Jenny McCarthy, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, January 24th, 2013
If your child is anything like mine, you probably dread vaccination day. When my then 3-year-old daughter wrapped her arms around me, and used every muscle in her little legs to push off of the examination table sending me flying backward into the hall, I have to admit, I deeply considered skipping the next round. But we pushed through them, and now at five, she’s replaced her fear of needles with a fear of large cotton swabs (a strep test — it’s a long story).
Although we’ve all witnessed a runaway kid or two at the pediatrician’s office, the truth behind this needle nightmare is that one in every 10 Americans has a fear needles, or trypanophobia. Digital health media company, Healthline, has called it an under-reported healthcare crisis. Fear of needles can cause a person to skip vaccinations, which puts everyone’s health at risk.
According to Healthline, needle phobia usually develops around age 4 or 5 with a traumatic immunization experience. And if you told your kid that it wasn’t going to hurt, you can bet his immunization experience was traumatic.
According to Healthline’s CEO West Shell, “The key to ending needle phobia is awareness, education, and action. Needle phobia must be addressed and it must be addressed on large public platforms. Fear of snakes or fear of public speaking doesn’t kill people, but fear of needles does.”
Healthline has recently launched a public health campaign to help put an end to needle phobia. Take the End Needle Phobia Pledge, and help prevent your children from developing needle phobia by telling them the truth: shots help to protect them and others from dangerous diseases, and they hurt – but only for a second.
You can also download the first ever app to help children overcome their fear of needles, Pablo the Pufferfish: Big Shots Game.
Our kids get about 30 shots before they turn 5. It’s time we take steps toward making it easier on all of us.
Image: Worried and Afraid Little Girl Receiving An Injection via Shutterstock
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GoodyBlog, Health & Safety
Friday, January 18th, 2013
This guest post comes from our advisor Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, the co-author of several books including Baby 411, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
This week, the respected Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report addressing the current childhood immunization schedule. After a thorough review of the scientific literature, the IOM found no major safety concerns with the recommended schedule. Specifically, they cited no relationship of vaccines to autism, attention deficit disorder, or learning disabilities.
Regardless of the landmark report, social media is busy chattering that the U.S. Vaccine Injury Compensation Program recently gave two children with autism monetary awards for their health conditions. As a pediatrician, does it change my opinion about vaccine safety? No. Let me explain why. (Warning: It’s kind of boring, but worth reading about!)
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely monitor vaccines through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Anyone (doctors, patients’ families, lawyers) may submit a VAERS form if a health issue arises at anytime after vaccination. Obviously, these reports do not prove that a vaccine causes a particular illness. The CDC and FDA review each report to see if there is a pattern of illness after vaccination. VAERS data is available to the public here. Independent of the federal government, six U.S. academic medical centers also evaluate for vaccine side effects. Additionally, the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a database maintained by several managed care groups across the country, monitors potential vaccine safety issues. Bottom line: There are several mechanisms in place to ensure that immunizations are safe.
However, like any medication, no vaccine is 100 percent effective or 100 percent risk-free. Rare, serious reactions can occur with vaccination. And if it happens, it’s devastating. But we take this small risk for the tremendous benefit of protection to ourselves and to others. As such, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) in 1988 to compensate those who potentially suffered a vaccine reaction. Those specific disorders are here.
At VICP, lawyers reviews patients’ records and determine whether to award monetary compensation. Yes, you read that correctly—attorneys are making the call here—not doctors, scientists, or vaccinologists. While the decisions from the “vaccine court” do not prove anything scientifically, VICP acts compassionately and does a reasonable job.
Since 1988, 100 million American babies have been born (99 percent of whom have received vaccines) and millions of older children and adults have also been vaccinated. With this huge number of vaccinated Americans, there have been less than 15,000 VICP claims filed. VICP has awarded compensation to 20 percent of those claimants. About one-third of all claims sought compensation for autism, and most claims occurred during the height of vaccine safety concerns in 2002-2004. VICP reviewed these claims collectively and found no substantial evidence linking vaccines and autism to provide compensation.
So then: What’s the story with the kids with autism who received financial compensation? Well, the children’s medical records are not publicly available so it is impossible to know, but they did not receive the awards for autism.
With a severe flu season and twenty children who have died, it’s important to look at the big picture. Most people get shots and endure nothing more than a sore arm.
With the scrutiny given to vaccines, we would know if there was a significant problem. As a pediatrician and a mom, I vaccinated my own kids to protect them. I wouldn’t do anything differently for yours.
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Babies, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News, Your Child
Monday, December 17th, 2012
The Nation Heads Back to School With New Worries About Safety
Officials and parents spent the weekend anxious about how to talk to students about Friday’s shooting and how best to discourage something like it from happening again. (via New York Times)
‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’: When Parents Are Afraid of Their Children
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting on Monday, one mother of a mentally ill boy stepped forward with an eloquent, wrenching cry for help that has echoed across the Web. In a blog post republished on the Blue Review titled “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” Liza Long writes about living in fear of the son she loves. (via Time)
A New Leash on Infections: Dog that Sniffs Out a Deadly Superbug
Dutch doctors are training beagles’ famously sensitive sense of smell to sniff out Clostridium difficile, stubborn bacteria that cause severe, hard-to-treat diarrhea and sometimes life-threatening colitis. Cases of C. difficile have reached historical highs in recent years, claiming 14,000 lives in the U.S. each year, primarily in hospital or long-term care settings. (via Time)
Brain Imaging Identifies Bipolar Disorder Risk in Adolescents
Researchers from the Black Dog Institute and University of NSW have used brain imaging technology to show that young people with a known genetic risk of bipolar but no clinical signs of the condition have clear and quantifiable differences in brain activity when compared to controls. (via ScienceDaily)
Genetic Defect in Sex Cells May Predispose to Childhood Leukemia
Researchers at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center and the University of Montreal have found a possible heredity mechanism that predisposes children to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of blood cancer in children. (via ScienceDaily)
Keep Thimerosal in Vaccines: Pediatricians
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A mercury-containing preservative should not be banned as an ingredient in vaccines, U.S. pediatricians said Monday, in a move that may be controversial. (via Reuters)
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Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Whooping Cough Vaccine Urged for Pregnant Women
The government’s vaccine advisory panel is urging every expectant mother to get a whooping cough vaccine, preferably in the last three months of pregnancy. (via New York Times)
Clinical Trial Attempts to Cure Autism with Cord Blood
Researchers recently announced the beginning of a FDA-approved clinical trial that uses umbilical cord blood stem cells to “cure” autism. (via Fox News)
Scientists Make Embryos with 2 Women, 1 Man
Scientists in Oregon have created embryos with genes from one man and two women, using a provocative technique that could someday be used to prevent babies from inheriting certain rare incurable diseases. (via ABC News)
Court’s Split Decision Provides Little Clarity on Surrogacy
The New Jersey Supreme Court is deadlocked over how to handle an infertile wife’s plea to be named the mother of the child that she and her husband are raising. (via NY Times)
Parents Tend to Downplay Kids’ Worries
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A new study has discovered parents consistently overestimate their children’s optimism and downplay their worries. (via PsychCentral)
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Vitamin D Doesn’t Actually Fight Off Colds, Study Says
Although vitamin D boosts the immune system, taking large doses of the nutrient does not appear to ward off colds, a new study from New Zealand says. (via My Health Daily News)
Docs Have Mixed Feelings on School Vaccinations
Colorado doctors mostly support local efforts to give kids their flu shots and other vaccines at school – but they also have misgivings, a new study shows. (via Reuters)
Birth Rate Down in US for 4th Year
U.S. births fell for the fourth year in a row, the government reported Wednesday, with experts calling it more proof that the weak economy has continued to dampen enthusiasm for having children. (via AP)
Children’s Bicycle Helmets Effective in Impact and Crush Tests, Study Suggests
Few bicyclists wear helmets regularly, and children are less inclined to wear helmets than adults: national estimates of helmet use among children range from only 15% to 25%. (via Science Daily)
U.S. Teen Drinking and Driving Rate Cut in Half in 20 Years
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The percentage of U.S. high school students who drink and drive has dropped by more than half in two decades, in part due to tougher laws against driving under the influence of alcohol, federal health officials said on Tuesday. (via Reuters)
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Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
‘Active’ Video Games Get Some Kids Off the Couch
Kids may spend too much time in front of the TV, but “active” video games are getting some of them on their feet and moving, according to a study out Monday. (via Reuters)
Baby Communication Gives Clues to Autism
A new study shows that measures of non-verbal communication in children, as young as eight months of age, predict autism symptoms that become evident by the third year of life. (via Science Daily)
Smoked Salmon Blamed for Salmonella Outbreak
Smoked salmon tainted with salmonella bacteria has sickened hundreds of people in the Netherlands and the United States, sparking a major recall, health authorities said Tuesday. (via AP)
HPV Vaccine Safe But Linked to Fainting and Skin Infections, Study Finds
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is generally safe, but may increase the risk of fainting and skin infections shortly after vaccination, a new study finds. (via My Health Daily News)
Pedestrian Accidents Are More Preventable for Young People
Trauma surgeons have identified two preventable reasons why young pedestrians are struck by motor vehicles — poor guardian supervision and distraction because of mobile device use. (via Science Daily)
Poor Sleep and Sleep Habits in Adolescence May Raise Health Risks
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Evidence now suggests that sleep problems during adolescence may negatively impact heart health. (via CNN)
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