Archive for the ‘ Must Read ’ 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

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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Scary News: Hundreds of Children Hospitalized for Respiratory Illnesses

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Child in hospital with respiratory illnessHundreds of children in the Midwest have been hospitalized in the past month due to respiratory illnesses, Reuters reports.

A specific type of enterovirus that typically affects school-age children, called enterovirus 68 or EV-D68, seems to be the cause, and has led to more than 300 hospitalizations for respiratory-related illnesses in Kansas City, Missouri, alone since last month.

A dozen states are reportedly affected—including Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky—have since and have contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help in investigating this illness, USA Today reports.

Enteroviruses, which usually peak in September, often produce symptoms similar to the common cold (like coughing), but can also develop into more serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or wheezing. In addition, sometimes a rash can show up, CNN reports.

Transmission of this enterovirus is not fully understood, though it seems to be passed via close contact with another infected person, which is why schoolchildren are at a higher risk. The CDC recommends keeping in mind the following practices to prevent spreading it and other respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick

Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, which has been treating many of these patients, recommends the following advice if your child is exhibiting respiratory illness symptoms: ”If your child has fever not controlled by acetaminophen or ibuprofen or is not drinking, call your healthcare provider for advice. Seek care promptly if your child develops difficulty or labored breathing. If your child has asthma, follow your Asthma Action Plan. And if symptoms persist, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.”

Has your town or city been affected by this outbreak?

Controlling and Treating Asthma Symptoms in Children
Controlling and Treating Asthma Symptoms in Children
Controlling and Treating Asthma Symptoms in Children

Photo of child in hospital courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Preemies and Brain Development: A New Study Says They Catch up by the Teen Years

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Babies who are born prematurely are monitored closely to track their development, especially their cognitive development, as they grow.  A new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics has found that most of these babies, by the time they are teens, are able to perform in cognitive tests as well as teens who were born at full term. The study found that the family and social environment a child is raised in is far more predictive than their gestational age at birth.

More from ScienceDaily on the study, which was conducted by Australian researchers:

“Every year, 10% of Australian babies are born preterm, and many studies have shown that these children often have cognitive difficulties in childhood,” says one of the lead authors of the study, Dr Julia Pitcher from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute.

“This new study has some positive news. We looked at the factors that determine cognitive abilities in early adolescence, and found that whether or not you were born preterm appears to play a relatively minor role. Of significantly more importance is the degree of social disadvantage you experienced in your early life after birth, although genetics is important,” Dr Pitcher says.

The study, conducted by Research Officer Dr Luke Schneider, assessed the cognitive abilities of 145 preterm and term-born young people now aged over 12. He also assessed data on social disadvantage at the time of birth and at the time of the cognitive assessment.

“The results of our study provide further proof that those born at term tend to have better cognitive abilities — such as working memory, brain processing efficiency and general intellectual ability. But the postnatal environment seems to be playing an important role in whether or not a preterm child is able to overcome that initial risk of reduced brain development,” Dr Schneider says.

Image: Preemie, via Shutterstock

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Include Kids with Disabilities in the Classroom for Language Benefits

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

A new study that followed 670 preschool-aged children in Ohio for a year is urging that integrating children with disabilities, who are enrolled in special education programs in school, into regular-ability classrooms may have a remarkable impact on the special needs’ kids language skills over the course of a school year.  Laura Justice, co-author of the study and professor of teaching and learning at The Ohio State University, says that the results should encourage schools who are considering inclusion models where children with disabilities are placed in the same classroom as peers who are developing normally.  More from Science Daily:

“Students with disabilities are the ones who are affected most by the language skills of the other children in their class,” Justice said.

“We found that children with disabilities get a big boost in their language scores over the course of a year when they can interact with other children who have good language skills.”

In fact, after one year of preschool, children with disabilities had language skills comparable to children without disabilities when surrounded by highly skilled peers in their classroom.

“The biggest problem comes when we have a classroom of children with disabilities with no highly skilled peers among them,” Justice said. “In that case, they have limited opportunity to improve their use of language.”

Justice added that highly-skilled children’s language abilities were not negatively affected by having the special needs children in their classrooms.

Image: Preschool letters and numbers, via Shutterstock

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