Archive for the ‘ Child Health ’ Category

Is a Cure for Peanut Allergies in Sight?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

peanut allergiesSome hopeful news for parents of kids with peanut allergies: A new Australian study found that a daily dose of peanut protein taken with a probiotic was successful in treating nut allergies in children.

Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Hospital Institute in Melbourne, Australia gave 60 kids with peanut allergies a probiotic along with a small dose of peanut protein, or a placebo. Researchers reported that over 80 percent of the children who received the probiotic with gradually increasing amounts of peanut protein—a technique known as oral immunotherapy—were able to tolerate nuts at the end of the study. And even more surprising: the kids were able to include them in their diet without adverse reactions two to five weeks after the treatment ended.

So what does this mean for children suffering from mild to life-threatening peanut allergies right now? “This is a wonderful, small study that holds a lot of exciting avenues for future research and applications, but we can’t necessary take these results and run with them just yet,” says David Stukus, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. “The biggest drawbacks are that it’s a small study and only tests kids’ reactions to peanuts a few weeks after the conclusion of the study, so we don’t know what would happen if they ate nuts a few months or years down the road.”

Dr. Stukus also cautions that, as in all other studies with oral immunotherapy for food allergies, there was a very high rate of allergic reactions in patients who underwent the therapy. “Almost 50 percent of these kids had some sort of reaction, including anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening—this is not a safe procedure to do on your own. It requires supervision from a physician or a team of medical professions, and can only be done under the right circumstances.” So if your child has a peanut allergy, speak to your allergist about how this development might help your family down the road.

Maria-Nicole Marino is an Assistant Editor at Parents who covers kids’ health. She’s a proud Syracuse University alum with a not-so-secret love of kickboxing. Her cubicle currently houses two yoga balls and a bike. #healtheditorproblems

Food Allergies: Helping Your Child Cope
Food Allergies: Helping Your Child Cope
Food Allergies: Helping Your Child Cope

Image: Peanuts via Shutterstock

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Must-Read Now: The AAP Updates Its Vaccine Schedule

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Vaccine calender scheduleThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released an updated vaccine schedule for babies and older kids.

The 2015 recommended childhood and adolescence immunization schedules comes at a time when the AAP is urging parents to vaccinate their kids against measles due to the current outbreak (which has increased to over 70 confirmed cases).

Changes to the vaccination schedule include new columns for:

  • giving babies traveling outside the U.S. a first dose of the MMR vaccine (for measles) between 6 and 11 months
  • giving kids the flu vaccine starting at age 2, with some kids needing double doses between ages 2 and 8
  • indicating double doses are no longer needed for kids ages 9 to 10

Footnotes included on the schedules have also been updated, including one about the meningococcal vaccine (for meningitis), which clarifies proper and safe dosing for high-risk babies.

The MMR vaccine update is important to note, as babies should only get two doses, the first between 12 and 15 months and the second between 4 and 6 years. But an exception is now being made for babies between 6 and 11 months who are traveling outside the country; they should be receiving three doses (the first before 12 months, the second between 12 and 15 months, the third about four weeks after the second dose).

For kids older than 12 months traveling outside the country, they should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, the first one between 12 and 15 months and the second one about four weeks later.

See the complete updates to the AAP vaccine schedules here.

The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

Image: Calender with “vaccine” notation via Shutterstock

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Vaccinate Your Kids Against Measles NOW, Says the AAP

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Vaccine

As a result of the recent measles outbreak at Disneyland in California, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a statement to urge parents to vaccinate their kids.

“Vaccines are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children from very real diseases that exist in our world,”  says Errol R. Alden, MD, AAP executive director/CEO. “The measles vaccine is safe and effective.” Just two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) are more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles.

Getting the MMR vaccine sooner rather than later — even if you don’t live in California — is important. “The measles virus is one of the most contagious viruses in humans,” says Yvonne Maldonado, MD, vice chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. Measles spread rapidly in communities that have not been vaccinated, and those who are infected can also spread the virus up to four days before symptoms appear. Symptoms include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red watery eyes.

Fifteen years ago the United States declared that measles was officially eliminated from the country — meaning that quick detection and response to outbreaks, and an effective vaccination program eradicated the highly contagious disease from our country.

But now there are at least 70 confirmed cases of measles that have affected at least six states, including Utah, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, according to USA Today. To put that in perspective—California itself typically sees between four and 60 measles cases in an entire year.

So why are all of these people becoming infected with a disease that is no longer native to the US?

Some experts believe one reason is that an increasing number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kids because they may still have mistaken fears about childhood vaccines, or they are not afraid of a diseases they have never encountered. Parents are even able to obtain exemption from school immunization requirements based on their personal or religious beliefs. According to the Los Angeles Times “vaccine refusals” have increased from 1.5 percent in 2007 to 3.1 percent in 2013 in California alone.

Because babies cannot receive the MMR vaccine before turning 12 months, they are the most vulnerable and at risk for illness and death. But the more vaccinated a community is, the more it can protect infants as well as those who have not been vaccinated.

Learn more about the MMR vaccine here. And make sure to download our free vaccine schedule for babies/toddlers and for preschoolers/big kids.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

Image: Child being vaccinated via Shutterstock

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ANOTHER Reason to Avoid BPA During Pregnancy

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

PregnantBellyNew research suggests that prenatal exposure to bisphenol A, or BPA, may cause your child to develop health issues, like diabetes and heart disease, later in life. BPA is an hormone-disrupting chemical used to manufacture plastics, such as plastic bottles, metal cans, and even cash register receipts.

The study, which was published in the journal Endocrinology, reveals that exposure to the chemical can potentially cause a type of oxidative stress, called nitrosative stress, in the mother and unborn baby. Oxidative stress occurs when the body cannot neutralize free radicals (or highly-reactive chemicals) quickly enough to correct an imbalance.

Data was collected from 24 pregnant women to measure the effect of BPA exposure. During the first trimester, blood was drawn to evaluate the women’s BPA levels. Then the women were divided into two groups—those with low levels of BPA and those with high levels. After the babies were delivered, blood from the umbilical cords was tested to conclude how much chemical byproduct was created.

“The blood analysis revealed that the human mothers exposed to higher levels of BPA, and their infants, showed signs of oxidative stress caused by overexposure to nitric oxide-derived free radicals,” reports ScienceDaily.com. There were large amounts of chemical byproducts in the blood.

The FDA states that BPA is not harmful at the current levels that it occurs in our foods, but many studies provide evidence to dispute this claim. A recent study noted the dangers of prenatal exposure to phthalates, another chemical found in plastics. All in all, it’s better to be safe, and expecting moms should limit their exposure to the chemical until there is firm scientific consensus about BPA’s affects.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Pregnancy Myths: What Should You Believe?
Pregnancy Myths: What Should You Believe?
Pregnancy Myths: What Should You Believe?

Image: Pregnant Woman via Shuttershock

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And the #1 Healthiest City Is…

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Aerial view of BostonBetterDoctor.com revealed their top 25 rankings for the healthiest cities in the U.S., and Boston is ranked #1.

The site referred to the American Fitness Index and evaluated various cities based on three criteria:

  • physical fitness (including exercise rates, eating habits, health problems, number of recreational parks)
  • the percentage of highly-rated doctors
  • the number of residents with health insurance coverage

Cities were then assigned a point system out of 100. Their survey results revealed Boston as having the most percentage of residents with health insurance coverage. Minneapolis and Washtingon, DC (also once rated as the happiest city in America) trailed not far behind in Boston.

  1. Boston, MA (74.5)
  2. Minneapolis, MN (73.6)
  3. Washington, DC (72.6)
  4. San Francisco, CA (66.4)
  5. Hartford, CT (62.7)
  6. Pittsburgh, PA (60.1)
  7. San Jose, CA (58.6)
  8. Salt Lake City, UT (58.5)
  9. Seattle, WA (57.7)
  10.  Cincinnati, OH (57.6)
  11. Portland, OR (56.7)
  12. Denver, CO (56.6)
  13. Sacramento, CA (56.6)
  14. Atlanta, GA (55.9)
  15. San Diego, CA (55.3)
  16. Baltimore, MD (55.0)
  17. St. Louis, MO (54.7)
  18. Austin, TX (53.9)
  19. Raleigh, NC (52.7)
  20. Providence, RI (51.3)
  21. Buffalo, NY (50.3)
  22. Richmond, VA (48.6)
  23. Chicago, IL (48.4)
  24. New York, NY (47.7)
  25. Philadelphia, PA (44.0)

On the flip side, the least healthiest cities in the U.S. were ranked below, with Memphis, Oklahoma, and Louisville leading the pack.

  1. Memphis, TN (15.8)
  2. Oklahoma City, OK (24.1)
  3. Louisville, KY (26.3)
  4. San Antonio, TX (27.3)
  5. Nashville, TN (29.0)
  6. Indianapolis, IN (29.5)
  7. Las Vegas, NV (29.8)
  8. New Orleans, LA (30.8)
  9. Los Angeles, CA (32.7)
  10. Jacksonville, FL (34.6)
  11. Detroit, MI (34.7)
  12. Riverside, CA (35.1)
  13. Phoenix, AZ (35.6)
  14. Orlando, FL (36.7)
  15. Tampa, FL (38.2)
  16. Miami, FL (38.3)
  17. Columbus, OH (38.5)
  18. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX (38.9)
  19. Houston, TX (40.0)
  20. Kansas City, MO (40.0)
  21. Charlotte, NC (40.1)
  22. Birmingham, AL (42.2)
  23. Cleveland, OH (42.5)
  24. Virginia Beach, VA (42.9)
  25. Milwaukee, WI (43.4)

This isn’t the first time Boston has been ranked as the #1 healthiest city in America. Another recent survey by NerdWallet, which examined the healthiest metropolitan areas, also gave Boston accolades. But the second- and third-place cities went to San Franciso and Portland. However, Memphis was also ranked as the least healthiest city (yikes!).

How did your city fare in the rankings?

Read the full BetterDoctor.com healthiest city ranking results here.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

Image: Aerial view of Boston via Shutterstock

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