Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Teenagers with asthma have better oversight of their care from parents and doctors than young adults in their early 20s, so teens’ care is more consistent, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. More from Boston.com:
Parents of teens with asthma can remind them to take medications, fill their prescriptions, and make appointments with pediatricians who probably know the child well. But a few years later, when the young adult has left home for college or to live independently, that oversight is gone — and their care can suffer.
Twenty-nine percent of young adults with asthma received treatment at an emergency room during the previous year, compared with 19 percent of younger teenagers with the condition, according to an analysis of national survey data collected between 1999 and 2009. Losing health insurance coverage is a major — but not the only — factor in this declining care, the study found.
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The research, led by Dr. Kao-Ping Chua of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, suggests that many young people wait for a medical crisis rather than seeking preventive care from primary care doctors they may not know well.
Image: Teenager using inhaler, via Shutterstock
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
American-born children have a higher risk of developing allergies to foods or airborne particles like pollen or dust, a new study has found. Though researchers have not identified a definitive reason for the findings, The New York Times reports that the risk is elevated across a number of variables:
After adjusting for age, race, sex, ethnicity and other variables, the scientists found that children born outside the United States were 48 percent less likely to suffer from allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, hay fever and food allergies. The researchers reported their findings in an online article Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
Children with American-born parents had higher rates of allergies than children with foreign-born parents, and having two foreign-born parents reduced the risk for allergy even more than having one.
Just living in the United States appeared to increase the risk — foreign-born children who lived in the United States for 10 years or more were more than three times as likely to have allergies as those who lived here for two years or less.
Image: Child with hay fever, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Teenagers should avoid the “cinnamon challenge,” a popular prank that challenges kids to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon in 60 seconds without having any water. That’s the warning from a group of doctors who published their opinion in the journal Pediatrics this week. At least 30 kids and teens were hospitalized last year, as NBC News reports:
[Doctors say] the spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs, the report said.
Published online Monday in Pediatrics, the report said at least 30 teens nationwide needed medical attention after taking the “challenge” last year.
The number of poison control center calls about teens doing the prank “has increased dramatically,” from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
“People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at greater risk of having this result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing,” according to an alert posted on the association’s website.
Thousands of YouTube videos depict kids attempting the stunt, resulting in an “orange burst of dragon breath” spewing out of their mouths and sometimes hysterical laughter from friends watching, said report co-author Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, a pediatrics professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Cinnamon is made from tree bark and contains cellulose fibers that don’t easily break down. Animal research suggests that when cinnamon gets into the lungs, it can cause scarring, Lipshultz said.
Dr. Stephen Pont, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and an Austin, Texas pediatrician, said the report is “a call to arms to parents and doctors to be aware of things like the cinnamon challenge” and to pay attention to what their kids are viewing online.
Image: Cinnamon, via Shutterstock
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Friday, March 8th, 2013
Kraft Foods’ iconic macaroni and cheese is a favorite among kids, but its cheesy yellow color comes from food dyes that could be harmful to children’s health. That’s the claim made by a Change.org petition that has collected more than 50,000 signatures in an attempt to convince Kraft to refrain from using artificial food dyes Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 in their products.
Two North Carolina food bloggers, Vani Hari and Lisa Leake, started the petition after learning that a number of countries ban the chemical dyes, or require foods containing them to have a warning label. The Center for Public Interest has conducted research linking the dyes with conditions from migraine headaches to asthma.
“If an American company can take the time and expense to reformulate a safer food product for countries overseas, then I believe Americans deserve the same treatment,” said Leake, a mother of two girls and creator of the “100 Days of Real Food” website. “It’s rather shocking that we are still being fed ingredients, which are no longer used – and in some cases banned – elsewhere.”
In Europe, foods that contain Yellow #5 are required to carry a warning label. The chemical has been completely banned in Norway and Austria. In the United Kingdom, Kraft’s “Cheesey Pasta,” the British version of the American Macaroni and Cheese product, doesn’t contain artificial food dyes.
“After suffering some serious health issues, I became incredibly passionate about understanding what is in food – how it is grown, what chemicals are used in its production, and what eating food does or doesn’t do for the body,” said Hari, a popular food activist writer who has been featured in the New York Times and is a regular contributor to NBC’s Charlotte Today. “I knew I needed to do something.”
Image: Macaroni and cheese, via Shutterstock
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Monday, March 4th, 2013
Exposure to the chemical bisphenol A, which is found in some plastics, food cans, and a number of other consumer products, has been linked with a higher risk of childhood asthma, a new study conducted by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health has found. More from CNN:
A child’s chances of suffering with asthma were increased if BPA was detected in their urine samples at ages 3, 5 and 7. In addition, when BPA was measured in urine at age 3, the chances of wheezing by ages 5 and 6 were increased. Same thing for 7-year-olds: BPA meant later problems with wheezing.
An exception to the findings occurred among children with BPA measured in their urine at 5 years of age; those children did not have problems with wheezing during follow-ups one or two years later.
“What is important is that we were seeing the association at routine low doses of exposure,” said Dr. Kathleen Donohue, the lead study author.
One anomalous finding in the study, published Friday in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: If BPA was detected in a mother’s urine during her third trimester of pregnancy, there was less likelihood that her child would have breathing problems at age five – the opposite of what researchers expected.
Government agencies consider BPA to be a product of concern, but have stopped short of banning it in all consumer products. Last year, the FDA banned BPA from all baby bottles and sippy cups.
Image: Child with asthma, via Shutterstock
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