Thursday, December 12th, 2013
A team of NBC News investigative reporters were able to enter a number of New York City-area schools without being stopped or asked for identification, exposing what they are saying are some gaps in school security measures that are particularly troubling as the one-year anniversary of the terrible school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut nears. More from NBC News:
Today Show National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen was able to enter one New Jersey school without giving a name. Unescorted, he went looking for the main office, per school policy. As he looked, he walked past several classrooms with kids, stopping at one to ask a teacher for directions. No one asked who he was, or what he was doing there. For two minutes, he walked through the halls, and was only stopped once he arrived at the office.
The school’s PTA told NBC the findings were a “wake-up” call.
“This is incredibly problematic,” said safety consultant Sal Lifrieri, a former director of security at the New York City Office of Emergency Management, after watching the video. “Something like this, two minutes of not being challenged, it’s just too much harm you could have caused if you really had intent.”
At the other four schools he visited, however, he was asked for identification and kept away from children and classrooms.
He was buzzed in after identifying himself at one school, and was escorted straight to the principal’s office. At another, a guard intercepted him outside the building and asked for identification.
But in New York City, Jonathan Vigliotti of WNBC was able to walk in to seven out of 10 schools without being challenged. “I had a harder time getting into my friend’s apartment building,” said Vigliotti.
At one school he was able to bypass the metal detector, roam the hallways, and enter a gym full of kids. Approached later, the guard at the metal detector was surprised to learn Vigliotti hadn’t signed in. “Wow,” said the guard. “I thought you were a teacher.”
The New York City Police Department, which trains public school guards, said it would investigate after it was contacted by NBC.
Image: School security cameras, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
A woman who sews sock monkey toys for a living ran into a surprising obstacle while trying to board a flight at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport this week–TSA officials confiscated a two-inch toy pistol that’s an accessory for one of the boys. More from NBC News:
Phyllis May of Redmond, Wash., was travelling from St. Louis on Dec. 3 when she noticed a TSA agent inspecting one of her carry-on bags, according to NBC affiliate King 5.
May sells the dolls and had several sock monkeys and sewing supplies in the bag. One of the monkeys, named “Rooster Monkburn,” after John Wayne’s character “Rooster Cogburn” in the movie “True Grit,” is a cowboy with a two-inch long pistol.
“She said ‘This is a gun,’” May told King 5. “I said ‘No, it’s not a gun, it’s a prop for my monkey.’”
“She said ‘If I held it up to your neck, you wouldn’t know if it was real or not,’ and I said ‘Really?’” May said.
May told King 5 the TSA agent took the monkey’s gun and informed May she was supposed to call the police.
“Rooster Monkburn has been disarmed so I’m sure everyone on the plane was safe,” she told King 5. “I understand she was doing her job, but at some point doesn’t common sense prevail?”
King 5 reported that the agent did not call police and May was able to keep her sewing supplies and other dolls and board the plane.
In a statement, the TSA defended its action, citing its longstanding policy of prohibiting any replicas of firearms from being allowed onto airplanes.
Image: Sock monkey, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
More than 9,400 children are treated each year in U.S. emergency rooms after suffering injuries in their highchairs, most often from falling out of poorly secured chairs, according to a new study published by the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The numbers represent a significant rise in the number of highchair-related injuries–a 22 percent jump between the years 2003 and 2010. More from US News:
Despite the fact that millions of defective highchairs have been recalled in recent years, researchers at the hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Policy found that the number of children under the age of 3 who were treated in emergency departments between 2003 and 2010 increased by 22 percent. On average, one child each hour was treated for such an injury, according to the study, published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.
“Families may not think about the dangers associated with the use of high chairs,” said Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research, in a statement. “High chairs are typically used in kitchens and dining areas, so when a child falls from the elevated height of the high chair, he is often falling head first onto a hard surface such as tile or wood flooring with considerable force.
Most often, the children seen were treated for closed head injuries, which include concussions and internal head injuries. More than one-third of the children injured (37 percent) were treated for closed head injuries.
Not only were closed head injuries the most common injury associated with highchairs, but they were also the type that saw the greatest increase between 2003 and 2010 – up nearly 90 percent, from 2,558 in 2003 to 4,789 in 2010.
Additionally, 33 percent were treated for bumps and bruises, and 19 percent were treated for cuts associated with falls from highchairs. Overall, 93 percent of the injuries involved a fall from a highchair or booster seat.
When information was available for what children were doing just before a fall from a highchair or booster seat, two-thirds of them were climbing or standing in the chair, which suggests that the chair’s safety restraints were either not being used or were ineffective.
Parents are urged to make sure their children are properly strapped into their high chairs and booster seats. If you are concerned about the safety of your highchairs, check the Parents.com Recall Finder, sign up for our Recall Alerts email, or check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website to see whether your model has been recalled.
Watch this video for more tips on keeping your baby safe in his high chair:
Prevent High Chair Injuries: How to Keep Your Child Safe
Plus: Find a broad selection of high chairs at Shop Parents.
Image: Baby in highchair, via Shutterstock
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child safety, concussions, CPSC, head injuries, high chairs, highchairs, recalls, Safety | Categories:
Child Health, Must Read, Product Recalls, Safety
Monday, November 25th, 2013
Pregnant women who take Tylenol or over-the-counter pain-relieving medications that contain acetaminophen may be putting their babies at higher risk of developing language issues or behavioral problems, a new study conducted in Norway has found. More from NBC News:
The new study is the first to look at young children whose mothers took Tylenol while pregnant.
“Our findings suggest that (acetaminophen) might not be as harmless as we think,” Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen said. She led the study at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Oslo in Norway.
She and her co-authors studied 48,000 Norwegian children whose mothers answered survey questions about their medication use at weeks 17 and 30 of pregnancy, and again six months after giving birth.
Mothers filled out a follow-up questionnaire about their child’s developmental milestones three years later.
Close to 4 percent of women took Tylenol for at least 28 days total during pregnancy.
Their children seemed to have poorer motor skills than kids whose mothers had taken the drug fewer times or not at all. Tylenol-exposed kids also tended to start walking later, have poorer communication and language skills and more behavior problems.
It’s difficult to define risks for pregnant women and their children, since rigorous tests and controlled studies of drug exposure aren’t ethical, Brandlistuen said. All researchers can do is closely observe women in the real world.
But this study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, involved a large number of women, and researchers also looked for any link to ibuprofen, a pain-relief alternative without acetaminophen.
They found no development problems tied to ibuprofen.
“Long-term use of (acetaminophen) increased the risk of behavior problems by 70 percent at age three,” Brandlistuen said. “That is considerable.”
Heavy users most often reported taking the drug for five to seven days in a row a few times during pregnancy, she said.
Image: Pregnant woman taking medication, via Shuttestock
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Thursday, November 21st, 2013
More than 200,000 toy dolls shipped to the United States from China for the holiday gift-giving season were seized by U.S. authorities because the dolls were found to contain phthalates, a toxic chemical that has been linked to premature births, among other health risks. More from CNN.com:
The toys contained high levels of phthalates, which are chemical plasticizers used to make materials softer and more pliable, authorities said. Congress has banned the chemical in children’s toys.
The U.S. Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center began targeting the shipments in April because they threatened children’s safety, authorities said.
“Using advanced technology to track certain shipments before they reach our shores is helping CPSC better protect America’s consumers,” Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement.
U.S. authorities didn’t identify the manufacturer of the toys Tuesday.
A total of 10 shipments valued at almost $500,000 were seized at the ports of Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles; Norfolk, Virginia; Memphis, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; Portland, Oregon; and Savannah, Georgia, authorities said.
Tenenbaum said her agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have been targeting dangerous imports at several major ports through the use of a risk management system. Those efforts resulted in the seizure of more than 1.1 million unsafe products last fiscal year, authorities said. At the same time, the system also allows “for faster processing of compliant products,” she said.
Image: Toy doll, via Shutterstock
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