California May Outlaw Personal and Religious Beliefs as Valid Vaccination Exemption

Vaccine in vial

UPDATE: The California senate passed the bill on June 29th—it is now awaiting approval from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Although the California measles outbreak is no longer making daily headlines, the government has still been working diligently to prevent an outbreak like this from ever happening again.

Yesterday, the California House successfully approved a proposal—46 to 30—that would deem a family’s personal and religious beliefs as an illegal reason to exempt children from mandatory school vaccinations. If the Senate approves the proposal’s amendments it will advance to Gov. Jerry Brown in order to gain final approval.

If made into law, California would be the 33rd state to outlaw families from opting out of mandatory vaccines due to their belief system. The only exception to the law would happen when the State Department of Public Health deemed a medical exemption appropriate.

“California parents will be forced to give their children more than 40 doses of 10 federally recommended vaccines or homeschool unless they can find a doctor to write a medical exemption that doctors deny to 99.99 percent of children under federal guidelines,” said one oppositional group, Californians for Vaccine Choice.

Aside from traditional homeschooling, parents who decide against vaccination could also participate in multifamily homeschool programs or use public school’s independent study option.

“Children, pregnant women, seniors and people with cancer, organ transplants and other conditions are counting on us to make sure science prevails,” said California Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician who co-introduced the proposal.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn.

The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

Image: Vaccine vial via Shutterstock

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Kids With Good Memories May Be Better Liars: Study

Crossed fingersNew research from the University of Sheffield has found that children with good verbal memory skills tend to be better at covering up their lies.

Researchers analyzed the verbal deception skills of children between the ages of six and seven by prompting entrapment questions after they had been caught on hidden camera sneaking peeks at trivia game answers.

Good liars responded with lies during both entrapment question responses, while bad liars lied once or not at all. The research, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, found that kids who were considered good liars yielded better results in verbal memory tests for both processing and recall than bad liars.

By having a stronger verbal memory, it’s easier for children to keep track of more information and stick with their story, whether or not it’s actually true.

“While parents are usually not too proud when their kids lie, they can at least be pleased to discover that when their children are lying well, it means their children are becoming better at thinking and have good memory skills,” said Elena Hoicka, M.D., from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology in a press release.

That’s certainly a positive way to look at it!

Related: The Truth About Lying

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

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Dealing with Defiant Behavior
Dealing with Defiant Behavior
Dealing with Defiant Behavior

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Are Your Children Drinking Enough Water?

Boy drinking waterWe all know that drinking water is essential (if a bit boring!). But according to new research by Harvard University, many children and adolescents in the United States aren’t hydrated enough—and many report not consuming plain old H2O at all.

The study, which appears in the American Journal of Public Health, analyzed data from more than 4,000 young individuals, between the ages of 6 and 19, who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Researchers found that more than half of the participants weren’t hydrated enough. Dehydration was found to be 76 percent more likely in boys than in girls. Additionally, non-Hispanic blacks were 34 percent more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be inadequately hydrated.

“If we can focus on helping children drink more water—a low-cost, no-calorie beverage—we can improve their hydration status, which may allow many children to feel better throughout the day and do better in school,” said Steven Gortmaker, the study’s senior author, in a news release.

For parents who are struggling to get their children to drink plain water, experts suggest cold water over room-temperature, and infusing the water with fruit or veggies to make it more appealing.

Related: Are You Making These Mistake With Summertime Drinks?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

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New Study Says ‘Sesame Street’ Helps Kids Learn (and Confirms Every Parent’s Secret Hope)

Children watching tvSesame Street debuted in 1969—and ever since then, the program that makes education entertaining has reached millions of little kids. But just how successful is the show in educating children?

A new study from the University of Maryland found that children who were exposed to the show did better in school. The team of researchers examined the educational outcomes of preschool children who watched Sesame Street when it first debuted. The group of children who had access to the show were more positively impacted throughout the course of elementary school than children who were not. Additionally, those who watched the show were more likely to stay on track academically, and the largest benefits were seen in children from economically disadvantaged communities.

“Our analysis suggests that Sesame Street may be the biggest and most affordable early childhood intervention out there, at a cost of a just few dollars per child per year, with benefits that can last several years,” said Phillip B. Levine, one of the study’s authors, in a press release.

While the AAP’s guidelines and many experts suggest that parents should limit—and discourage entirely for kids under the age of two—screen-time, this study provides evidence that at least one television program really can deliver positive benefits.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

How to Prepare Your Child For Preschool
How to Prepare Your Child For Preschool
How to Prepare Your Child For Preschool

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Do You Know How to Boost Your Baby’s Motor Skills?

When you go to the store and pick out a new toy for your baby, do you consider how it will benefit her development? And have you ever considered how items that are already in your home, like your coffee table or couch, can help improve your infant’s motor skills?

According to new research, many parents don’t know just how much toys and household items aid in the development of their baby’s motor skills. But a simple questionnaire could help change that.

In order to encourage parents to look at toys and everyday objects differently, researchers at the University of Texas Arlington developed the Affordances in the Home Environment for Motor Development-Infant Scale (AHEMD-IS) to help caregivers analyze the items children are exposed to. The AHEMD-IS questionnaire focuses specifically on infants between the ages of 3 and 18 months, and its questions evaluate physical space in the home, variety of stimulation, and the presence of both gross- and fine-motor toys.

“When parents buy toys, they’re rarely thinking ‘I wonder if this is going to be great for my child’s fine or gross motor skills,’ but if they look at each AHEMD-IS question and each separation of the question, they can choose to buy toys that are different or that offer different opportunities for their infants,” researcher Priscila Caçola, an assistant professor of kinesiology in the UT Arlington College of Nursing and Health Innovation, said in a press release.

Recently, experts examined questionnaire responses from the parents of more than 400 infants over the course of five years, and found that AHEMD-IS is, in fact, a reliable tool for both parents and professionals to use in order to promote motor skill development. So take a look—and see if it spurs any new ideas for you and your baby!

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Playing With Baby: Baby Toys
Playing With Baby: Baby Toys
Playing With Baby: Baby Toys

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