Archive for the ‘ Child Health ’ Category

Don’t Make This Medication Mistake! The AAP Clarifies Dosage Guidelines for Kids

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Liquid medicineOne of the most common medication mistakes parents make is measuring the incorrect amount of medicine. Thankfully, the latest dosage guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that parents should never use spoons (including teaspoons and tablespoons) as a measurement tool for children’s medicine.

Instead, cups or syringes labeled with clear metric measurements in milliliters (mL) are the only way to ensure that children consume the correct dose of medication.

The smallest error in measurement can be toxic to a young child. “Each year more than 70,000 children visit emergency departments as a result of unintentional medication overdoses,” states the AAP’s press release. “Sometimes a caregiver will misinterpret milliliters for teaspoons. Another common mistake is using the wrong kind of measuring device, resulting in a child receiving two or three times the recommended dose.”

Many over-the-counter medications cause confusion because labels recommend metric dosing, but measuring devices are also included that may be marked in teaspoons. Now, with the latest guidelines, “we are calling for a simple, universally recognized standard that will influence how doctors write prescriptions, how pharmacists dispense liquid medications and dosing cups, and how manufacturers print labels on their products,” said Ian Paul, MD, pediatrician and lead author of the AAP statement.

In order to decrease confusion and a child’s risk of potential overdoses, the AAP’s 2015 policy statement includes the following updates to increase accuracy:

  • Standard measurement language should be adopted, including mL as the only appropriate abbreviation for milliliters. Liquid medications should be dosed to the nearest 0.1, 0.5, or 1 mL.
  • The dose frequency should be clearly stated on the label. Common language like “daily” should be used rather than medical abbreviations like ‘qd’, which could be misinterpreted as ‘qid’ (which, in the past, has been a common way for doctors to describe dosing four times daily).
  • Pediatricians should always review mL-based doses with families when they are prescribed.
  • Dosing devices should not have extra markings that can be confusing; they should not be significantly larger than the dose described on the label, to avoid two-fold dosing errors.
  • Drug manufacturers should eliminate labeling, instructions, and dosing devices that contain units other than metric units.

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

How to Give Your Baby Medication
How to Give Your Baby Medication
How to Give Your Baby Medication

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Could Your Bad Habit Increase Your Kid’s Risk for Heart Disease?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Secondhand SmokeAlthough the amount of Americans who are exposed to secondhand smoke has decreased, numerous harmful effects still remain, and regular exposure to secondhand smoke affects children well into adulthood. In fact, new research found that children whose parents smoked are nearly twice as likely to have plaque buildup in their arteries as adults, leaving them at a much greater risk for heart disease and strokes.

Researchers evaluated children’s exposure to their parents’ smoke for three years by analyzing how much cotinine was found in their blood. The individuals were then revisited over a period of six more years to determine the levels of plaque accumulation in their carotid arteries. The study, which was published in the journal Circulation, concluded that adults who had been exposed to smoke during their childhood from one or two parents were 1.7 times as likely to have plaque buildup than adults whose parents didn’t smoke.

There was even a noticeable difference in plaque levels between adults who were and weren’t shielded from smoke. According to Health Day, “the risk was 1.6 times higher for those whose parents smoked but tried to limit the exposure, and was four times higher for those whose parents did not try to limit exposure.”

Also, new evidence by Durham University found that children can be affected by smoke even in the womb. Ultrasound scans showed that the fetuses of moms who smoked had a much higher rate of mouth movements than what was normally expected.

As a parent, the only way to ensure that your children will not suffer from the dangers of secondhand smoke is to simply not smoke. For parents trying to quit, reduce a child’s exposure by keeping a distance while smoking, and never smoke inside your home and car, says Costan Magnussen, a senior research fellow at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania in Australia.

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

When to Worry: Asthma
When to Worry: Asthma
When to Worry: Asthma

Image: Man holding cigarette via Shutterstock

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Is Your Parenting Style Creating Couch Potatoes?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Active ChildrenEvery mother or father has their own parenting style—each with its own pros and cons. But some parents who choose hyper-parenting (defined as “a child-rearing style in which parents are intensely involved in managing, scheduling, and enriching all aspects of their children’s lives”) may be raising kids who sit around too much.

A new study from Queen’s University in Ontario, has found a link between hyper-parents and their children being less physically active.

Children whose parents displayed extreme, attached parenting techniques (quite the opposite of free-range parenting!) ”spent less time outdoors, played fewer after-school sports, and were less likely to bike or walk to school, friends’ homes, parks and playgrounds than children with less-involved parents,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Researchers collected information from 724 parents with children between the ages of 7 and 12. Parents were given questionnaires to determine if their parenting style ranked within four categories of hyper-parenting: overprotective parents (aka. helicopter parents), overindulgent parents, overscheduled parents, and overly achievement-driven parents (aka. tiger moms). Approximately 40 percent of parents received high hyper-parenting scores, while only 6 percent had low scores.

Parents who received low to below-average hyper-parenting scores in all four categories had the most active kids. Although helicopter parenting was the most common style, it was not directly associated with physically active kids, but the other three styles were associated with fewer active kids. According to The Wall Street Journal, researchers concluded that “the difference between children in the low and high hyper-parenting groups was equivalent to about 20 physical-activity sessions a week.”

Less active children only fuels the ongoing issue of childhood obesity, so the more that is known about a child’s physical activity—or lack thereof—the better.

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 Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years

Image: Active children via Shutterstock

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How Depressed Dads Can Lead to Troubled Toddlers

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Sad boyIt has been proven that a mother’s depression has negative impacts on her children, but research was never done to provide information on whether or not a father’s depression has any effect—until now.

A recent study published online in the journal Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, has linked both mothers’ and fathers’ depression with troubling behaviors in children, in particular toddlers.

Researchers at Northwestern University gathered information from approximately 200 couples with 3-year-olds; the parents had all participated in a depression study at the time of their child’s birth. Each individual filled out a questionnaire that asked about “parental depression, their relationship with their partner, and their child’s internalizing behaviors (sadness, anxiety, jitteriness) and externalizing behaviors (acting out, hitting, lying),” reports Science Daily.

The study concluded that each parent’s level of depression impacted their child’s behaviors both internally and externally, and that paternal postnatal depression had a significant impact on toddler behavior. Depression affected children much more negatively than parental fighting because depressed parents were less likely to make eye contact, smile, bond, or engage with kids.

With this information, doctors may now begin to monitor both parents’ levels of depression—rather than only focusing on a mother’s potential for postpartum depression.

“Father’s emotions affect their children,” said Sheehan Fisher, the study’s lead author. “New fathers should be screened and treated for postpartum depression, just as we do for mothers.”

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

Postpartum Depression: What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression: What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression: What Is Postpartum Depression?

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Want to Know Your Child’s Potential Risk for Diseases — Years Before a Diagnosis?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

If given the choice, would you want to know about your child’s risk for hereditary diseases years before they surface?

A new advancement in technology, called whole genome sequencing, will now make that possible—and 58 percent of parents surveyed have already expressed interest in testing their children, according to a study conducted by the University of Michigan Health System.

Whole genome sequencing examines DNA using a small amount of blood or saliva in order to determine a risk of genetic disease, or to diagnose active diseases or their symptoms. The technology is currently being used for patients who have yet to be diagnosed but who are displaying symptoms.

The research, which appears in the journal Public Health Genomics, was conducted to gauge the population’s interest in using whole genome sequencing to discover their potential for certain genetic diseases (such as cancers or Alzheimer’s) in the future—and around 59 percent of the total population confirmed their interest while almost 62 percent showed interest for themselves, reports Science Daily. Also, nonparents who were planning to have their first child within the next five years were more interested in whole genome sequencing than current parents were.

As with the introduction of any new medical technology, there are always additional factors to consider. “While sequencing could reveal risk of a handful of rare and preventable diseases, authors note there is concern for how accurately the information would be interpreted and how useful it will actually be for patients,” notes Science Daily.

When it comes to testing children, some experts believe it should be delayed until the child is old enough to understand and participate in the decision themselves. Because a disease your child may be at risk for—but may not even end up having—could take years to emerge and certain cures may still be unavailable, early knowledge may not be beneficial. Instead of dwelling on an uncertain reality, making more healthful choices may be beneficial.

“We want our patients to be active participants in their health; however, the value of genome sequencing in helping individuals understand their disease risks is still controversial, especially for children,” said Daniel Dodson, the study’s lead author.

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

Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas
Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas
Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas

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