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Monday, December 22nd, 2014
There’s a lot to keep up on when you’re a parent (or parent-to-be), whether you’re in that exhausted-and-expecting stage, the exhausted-because-you-have-a-newborn stage, or exhausted because you’re chasing around your active kiddos. So in case you missed it, here are some of the most noteworthy and news-worthy pregnancy, parenting, health, and safety stories we covered in 2014:
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 became law
Good news from Washington (yes, really!): Thanks to the signing of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, young kids in child care will now be safer. As Parents deputy editor Diane Debrovner wrote last month, “The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal grant program that provides child-care assistance to low-income families. The new law affects child-care centers and individuals who care for children with the support of federal funding, but all children in child care are likely to benefit from the new higher standards.”
The government took a stand on circumcision
Few topics are more hot-button that the decision parents of boys must make regarding circumcision. But earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weighed in on the issue in a draft of guidelines, saying that medical evidence showed the procedure can reduce the risk of HIV, STDs, UTIs, and even some types of cancer. The CDC says circumcision should be covered by health insurers, but still doesn’t go so far as to flat-out recommend it to parents.
Too many babies are sleeping with unsafe bedding
A shocking study published in the January 2015 issue of Pediatrics looked at infant bedding use from 1993–2010 and found that more than half of babies fell asleep with potentially hazardous bedding. Another finding: Teen moms were most likely to use soft bedding, altough, as we noted, “the study also found a link between use of bedding and mothers who were younger in general, a minority, or not college educated.”
We’re making car-seat mistakes from the get-go
Is there a parent among us who hasn’t fretted about the car seat being installed correctly? Well, as it turns out, we’re right to be worried. A study presented in October at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 93 percent of parents make at least one major mistake (such as a too-loose harness, a too-low retainer clip, or using the wrong harness slot) before they’ve even driven away from the hospital. And in almost 70 percent of cases, there were mistakes with both the installation of the seat and how baby was positioned in it.
Enterovirus D86, ebola, and flu were—and remain—causes of concern
Three different health threats caught our attention this year: enterovirus D68, which by October had more than 650 confirmed cases, ebola, and influenza. And while, sadly, both enterovirus D68 and ebola caused a loss of life, it’s the flu that causes the most harm, killing an estimated 30,000 Americans each year and causing the hospitalization of roughly 20,000 kids under the age of 5.
The EEOC updated its rules regarding discrimination and pregnancy
Unfortunately, accusations of pregnancy discrimination seemed to abound in 2014, from the Supreme Court’s hearing of Peggy Young’s case to the woman who claims she was fired for needing to take pee breaks. But one bit of good news: for the first time in more than three decades, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new, tougher rules regarding pregnancy discrimination and “related issues” (think breastfeeding and parental leave.) As we reported, one thing the EEOC made clear is that “adjustments may need to be made for pregnant workers—including providing the option of light duty.” Furthermore, employers can’t force a pregnant employee to take a leave of absence when she’s capable of continuing to work.
Yet another study disputed a vaccines-autism link
As we reported last summer, a study published in the August issue of Pediatrics reviewed “a large body of scientific findings and concluded that parents should be reassured about vaccines’ safety.” The study found no causal relationship between vaccines and autism.
Scientists may have discovered the cause of 40% of pre-term births
In October, we reportde that scientists at Queen Mary University in London “identified the chemical chain of events that they believe causes the preterm premature rupture of the fetal membrane (PPROM)—the condition that accounts for 40 percent of all preterm births.” The findings were published in the journal Placenta. Next up—we hope: a treatment that would actually repair the membrane.
The pre-term birth rate in the U.S. is way down
In Novermber, the March of Dimes released its annual Premature Birth Report Card, which revealed that the pre-term birth rate in the United States fell to 11.4 percent—a 17-year low. Good news, to be sure, but the organization stressed that there’s still work to be done to ensure more babies are born healthy, and at term. To that end the U.S. received a “C” grade on the report because it missed the group’s stated goal of a 9.6 percent preterm birth rate.
The autism rate was lowered to 1 in 68
In March came a shocking new estimate from a CDC report that 1 in 68 kids are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The previous estimate, made two years ago, put the prevalence at 1 in 88. As our Red-Hot Parenting blogger Richard Rende, PhD., wrote, “The estimated prevalence of ASD has gone up tremendously in the last decade, and it is assumed that improved recognition and diagnosis is the primary factor. The implication here is that we have underestimated the true rate of ASD and as such the new data suggest an urgency in mobilizing resources to understand the causes and accelerate the delivery of interventions.”
Image of child in daycare: Shutterstock
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Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
Millions of products were recalled this year, so it is important to stay on top of what your family owns. Learn about the biggest recalls of 2014 that directly affect babies and children. This year, car seats made up nearly half of our top 10 list, which also includes mass-market items such as a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy and a popular Walmart doll. If you have any one of these products, be sure to click on the link provided and follow the guidelines for return or repair. Sign up for our recall newsletter so you are alerted when something is recalled that could affect your family.
10. Combi Child Restraints
Date: January 3, 2014
Company/Brand: Combi USA, Inc.
The danger: The harness webbing fails to meet minimum breaking strength requirements. In the event of a crash, a child may not be remain adequately secured, increasing the risk of injury.
Sold at: Nationwide
9. H&M Girls’ Leggings
Date: May 15, 2014
Company/Brand: H&M Hennes & Mauritz L.P.
The danger: A metal part on the belt can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. There has been one report of a choking incident in the United Kingdom, but no reports of consumer incidents or injuries related to the use of these products in the U.S.
Sold at: H&M stores nationwide and online at HM.com from August 2012 to April 2014 for between $3 and $15.
8. Vera Bradley Bear Ring Rattles and Bunny Toys
Date: March 19, 2014
Company/Brand: Vera Bradley Designs Inc.
The danger: The pom-pom tail can detach from the body of the bear rattle and the bunny, posing a choking hazard to young children. Vera Bradley has received two reports that the pom-pom tail detached from the product. No injuries have been reported.
Sold at: Nationwide from September 2012 to January 2014.
7. My Sweet Love/My Sweet Baby Cuddle Care Baby Doll
Date: March 25, 2014
Company/Brand: Tak Ngai Electronic Toys Co., LTD
The danger: The circuit board in the chest of the doll can overheat, causing the surface of the doll to get hot, posing a burn hazard to the consumer. Walmart has received 12 reports of incidents, including two reports of burns or blisters to the thumb.
Sold at: Walmart stores nationwide from August 2012 through March 2014 for $20.
6. Brita Children’s Water Bottle
Date: August 19, 2014
Company/Brand: BRITA LP of Oakland, Calif.
The danger: The lid can break into pieces with sharp points, posing a laceration hazard. There have been 35 reports of lids breaking or cracking. No injuries have been reported.
Sold at: Alaska Housewares, Associated Food Stores, Bartell Drug, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Quidsi, Royal Ahold, Shopko, Target, US Navy Exchange, Walmart Stores, and online at Amazon.com, Drugstore.com and Target.com. Hello Kitty bottles were sold from February 2014 through July 2014. Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob Square Pants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bottles were sold from June 2013 through July 2014. The bottles sold for about $13 to $19.
5. Evenflo Child Seat Buckles
Date: April 4, 2014
Company/Brand: Evenflo Company
The danger: The buckle may become stuck in a latched position, making it difficult to remove a child from the seat. This could prove critical to a child’s safety in the case of an emergency. No injuries have been reported.
Sold at: Nationwide.
4. Graco Rear-Facing Child Restraints
Date: June 30, 2014
Company/Brand: Graco Children’s Products
The danger: The defect involves difficulty in unlatching the harness buckle. In some cases, the buckle becomes stuck in a latched condition so that it cannot be opened by depressing the buckle’s release button. It may be difficult to remove the child from the restraint, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a vehicle crash, fire, or other emergency, in which a prompt exit from the vehicle is required.
Sold at: Nationwide.
3. Hello Kitty Birthday Lollipop Whistles
Date: November 10, 2014
Company/Brand: McDonald’s Corp., of Oakbrook, Ill.
The danger: Components inside of the whistle can detach, posing choking and aspiration hazards to young children. McDonald’s has received two reports of children who coughed out pieces of the whistle that they had sucked into their mouths, including one child who received medical attention.
Sold at: McDonald’s restaurants nationwide from October 2014 through the first week of November 2014 with Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals.
2. Graco Toddler and Booster Child Restraints
Date: February 10, 2014
Company/Brand: Graco Children’s Products
The danger: There has been difficulty in unlatching the harness buckle. In some cases, the buckle becomes stuck in a latched condition so that it cannot be opened by depressing the buckle’s release button. It may be difficult to remove the child from the restraint, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a vehicle crash, fire, or other emergency, in which a prompt exit from the vehicle is required. There have been no injuries reported.
Sold at: Nationwide.
1. Graco Strollers
Date: November 20, 2014
Company/Brand: Graco Children’s Products
The danger: The folding hinge on the sides of the stroller can pinch a child’s finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard. Graco has received 11 reports of finger injuries including six reports of fingertip amputation, four reports of partial-fingertip amputation and one finger laceration.
Sold at: Target, Toys R Us, Walmart and other retail stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, Walmart.com and other online retailers for about $40-70 for the stroller and about $140-170 for the Travel System
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Monday, November 10th, 2014
If you use laundry detergent pods, you’ve probably noticed how the brightly colored and shiny packages resemble a fun candy or juice rather than a potentially dangerous cleaning product.
This similarity has presented a “serious poisoning risk” to thousands of children around the country, according to a recent study published in Pediatrics.
Using information from the National Poison Data System, researchers found that more than 17,000 children under the age of 6 were exposed to the pods, mostly through ingestion, between 2012 and 2013. (That adds up to about one child every hour, Dr. Marcel J. Casavant, a study author and the medical director of the poison center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, told The New York Times!) Kids younger 3 years old made up more than 70 percent of that total, and more than 750 children had to be hospitalized due to their exposure.
The pods have been on the market since 2012 and their sales numbers have skyrocketed due to their toss-and-go convenience, The Wall Street Journal reports. But some experts are concerned that the pods are more toxic than regular detergent due to their highly concentrated formula, the WSJ reports:
Doctors told the Journal last year that the concentrated nature of the product heightened the risks to children who come into contact with them. Plus, they are encased in a water-soluble film and tend to burst when bitten into, shooting their contents down children’s throats. The doctors were also concerned that the formulation of the products could make them more dangerous. Some have pointed to a higher amount of surfactants in the laundry capsules relative to regular detergent as a possible cause. Surfactants are compounds like soap that help oil and dirt dissolve in water.
Children have sampled regular laundry detergent over the years without much incident, since they usually were turned off by the taste before they could ingest enough to cause problems, poison-control experts have said.
While some detergent manufacturers have made efforts to make their packaging more child-resistant, Dr. Michael Gray of the Abrahamson Pediatric Eye Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center told Reuters that the best thing for parents of young children to do is use traditional laundry detergent.
Laundry detergent pods are just one of many surprising safety hazards that can be found in your home. Take the time to review our list of 10 other hidden home dangers here.
Photo of laundry detergent pods courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Friday, October 17th, 2014
Teal is the new black (or, actually, orange) when it comes trick-or-treating this season.
As the official color of food allergy awareness, the Teal Pumpkin Project was started to let moms and dads know that if they see a teal pumpkin on someone’s doorstep while trick-or-treating that the house will give out small toys instead of candy to kids with food allergies.
Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) picked up on the campaign this year after an allergy group in Tennessee came up with the idea last Halloween season, ABC News reports.
Instead of candy, FARE recommends giving out small items like mini slinkies, spider rings, Halloween-themed erasers or vampire fangs as fun, safe alternatives to kids with food allergies.
“We just want people to know that we’re not asking people to stop giving out candy,” one mom, Tyffani Tucker, told ABC. “We are asking them to give kids with food allergies another option so they have something they can look forward to on Halloween too.”
And if you don’t have a pumpkin at your house but want to support the cause and give out small toys along with your typical candy selection, you can download and print off a picture of a teal pumpkin to hang in a window or on a door here.
Still want your little one to have a special treat on Halloween? Take a look at the best snacks for kids with food allergies.
Photos courtesy of FARE
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Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
A bill that will help to make early childhood care safer and more affordable for low-income families passed in the U.S. House on Monday, Politico reports.
The bill, known as the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG) will require certification to guarantee that health and safety standards are being followed and includes policies like:
- improved background checks for care providers
- training for care providers in first-aid and CPR
- using safe sleeping practices to prevent sudden infant death syndrome
- training care providers on working with children with disabilities
While these are practices we would hope that a daycare center is already enacting, this law will require state certification and annual inspections, among other qualifications. The CCDBG was originally created 24 years ago and has only been updated once since then, in 1996, according to the Children’s Defense Fund. Re-introduced to Congress in 2013, it was passed by both Republican and Democrat supporters in the Senate in March in a 96-2 vote. An amended version of this bill passed on Monday in the House and next up, the Senate will vote again. If it passes it will go on to President Obama for his approval, according to ChildCare Aware.
This bill also seeks to make this care more affordable. The Children’s Defense Fund reports that the annual price tag on early childhood care for young children and infants costs more than attending in-state public college in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
“Whether going to work or school, a lot of parents have to decide who will care for their children and worry if they’ve made the right decision,” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation will strengthen this important program to give working moms and dads greater access to quality, affordable child care.”
Are you thinking about putting your child in daycare? Make sure to ask these questions before you commit.
Photo of three children courtesy of Shutterstock.
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