Archive for the ‘ Child Health ’ Category

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

More About Measles

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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5 Family Goals From Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Working families was a main focus in President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, with an emphasis on helping parents ease the financial struggles of raising kids.

Last night, the President shared the story of one couple, Rebekah and Ben Erler, who raised two sons through tough times. In sharing their story, President Obama said, “America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled.”

Rebekah and Ben’s story also became the foundation for the President to segue into other important family concerns, which included the following goals.

Goal: Affordable, High-Quality Child Care

For families like the Erlers who need (but can’t afford) outside help to care for their kids, the President promised to make “affordable, high-quality child care” more available. “It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us,” he said.

Goal: A New Tax Cut for Children

In order to make affordable child care a possibility, the President supported “lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.” As a step toward this direction, he proposed “a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.” He also proposed closing tax loopholes that allowed America’s one percent to evade paying taxes in order to “help more families pay for child care and send their kids to college.”

Goal: Paid Sick Leave and Paid Maternity Leave

Forty-three million people in the U.S. do not get paid sick leave, a shocking statistic that the President shared. “Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers,” he said. “And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.”

To implement paid sick leave and paid maternity leave, the President already started the ball rolling. Last week, he announced that federal employees would be getting up to six weeks of paid maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child, which he hoped to expand to more moms across America. And he’s supporting a new act that will give employees up to seven paid sick days in a year.

Goal: Free Community College

The 2013 and 2014 State of the Union addresses focused on providing universal pre-K to America, allowing kids to have free schooling before kindergarten. This year, the President focused more on higher education.

To ensure that kids have the opportunity to attend college without fear of debt, the President promised “to lower the cost of community college — to zero.” Because 40 percent of kids choose to attend community college, he saw value in showing kids “that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today.” In cutting costs, Obama hoped to reduce the burden of college loans, “so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.”

Goal: Online Privacy for Children

With the increase in cyberbullying and hacking, the President also made online privacy a priority, stating that no one should have the right to “invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids.” He promised to combat cyber threats and urged Congress “to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.” (Side note: This past week, Illinois passed a law that allowed schools and universities to request a student’s social media password.)

The President also conveyed some trademark words of hope, stressing that his goals would help “hardworking families make ends meet.” Ultimately, he said, “I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids.”

Read the full transcript of the 2015 State of the Union Address.

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: President Obama giving the 2015 State of the Union Address at the White House via the official White House Twitter account

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Why Recess HELPS Kids Eat Fruits and Veggies

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

School lunch trayIn recent years, some schools have been reducing recess hours — or eliminating it altogether, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics has advocated for schools to keep schoolyard play. Despite support from the AAP, some elementary schools (like these 23 schools in Florida) are still cutting back on playtime in favor of study time…to meet Common Core standards.

But a new study, published in Preventative Medicine, reveals two great reasons for schools to keep recess: Kids who have recess before lunch are more likely to eat (and finish!) fruits and veggies — which means they’re less likely to waste food.

Researchers studied seven elementary schools (grades 1-6) in Orem, Utah and focused on kids who enrolled in the federally-funded school lunch program (which requires that kids eat either a fruit or veggie). Of the seven schools, three had recess before lunch and four had recess after lunch. Over a few days in the spring and fall of 2011, the researchers measured the serving amount of fruits and vegetables that students threw away in the trash. The scientists recorded a total of 22,939 observations. HealthDay reports:

In the schools that held recess before lunch, students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables rose 54 percent. There also was a 45 percent increase in the number of students who ate at least one serving of fruits and vegetables.

Meanwhile, students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables decreased at the schools that still held recess after lunch.

“[W]e found that if recess is held before lunch, students come to lunch with healthy appetites and less urgency and are more likely to finish their fruits and vegetables,” said David Just, a co-author of the study. On the flip side, when recess is held after lunch, kids are more like to rush through eating (and waste more food) in order to play.

And according to a 2013 Harvard University study, students throw away around $1.2 billion in food every year. This is an astounding number, especially given America’s hunger crisis.

There are also other benefits of keeping recess; other studies have shown that recess promotes physical activity, creative and imaginative play, a readiness to learn, better social skills, and less bullying. Even though one mom has her doubts about having recess before lunch, all the combined factors still make up a good list of reasons why schools should keep recess.

Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?
Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?
Lunch Monitor: What Are Kids Throwing Away?

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: School lunch tray via Shutterstock

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