Posts Tagged ‘ health ’

The AAP Says Medical Marijuana Is ONLY Okay For…

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Medical marijuanaLegalizing marijuana across the U.S. is still an ongoing debate, and the American Academy of Pedatrics continues to oppose using it for medical (and recreational) reasons. However, the AAP is updating their policy and making a new exception: supporting marijuana only for “compassionate use in children with debilitating or life-limiting diseases.”

No official studies have been published before on how marijuana (medical or recreational) affect children, but limited research on adults have shown that prolonged use can have negative affects on: memory, concentration, motor control, coordination, sound judgment, psychological health, and lung health.

But because research into the long-term pros and cons of marijuana use will take time, the AAP now recognizes that children with extreme cases of illness “may benefit from cannabinoids,” or the chemicals in marijuana that can help suppress pain and nausea.

However, “while cannabinoids may have potential as a therapy for a number of medical conditions, dispensing marijuana raises concerns regarding purity, dosing and formulation, all of which are of heightened importance in children,” says William P. Adelman, M.D., an author of the updated policy.

The AAP also included recommendations for protecting kids and teens who live in states that legalized marijuana, such as having federal and state governments focus more on the impact of marijuana on children, stricter rules on limiting marijuana access and marketing, and child-proof packaging.

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

Baby Care Basics: Surprising Reasons to Call the Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Surprising Reasons to Call the Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Surprising Reasons to Call the Doctor

Image: Medical marijuana via Shutterstock

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Must-Read Now: The AAP Updates Its Vaccine Schedule

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Vaccine calender scheduleThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released an updated vaccine schedule for babies and older kids.

The 2015 recommended childhood and adolescence immunization schedules comes at a time when the AAP is urging parents to vaccinate their kids against measles due to the current outbreak (which has increased to over 70 confirmed cases).

Changes to the vaccination schedule include new columns for:

  • giving babies traveling outside the U.S. a first dose of the MMR vaccine (for measles) between 6 and 11 months
  • giving kids the flu vaccine starting at age 2, with some kids needing double doses between ages 2 and 8
  • indicating double doses are no longer needed for kids ages 9 to 10

Footnotes included on the schedules have also been updated, including one about the meningococcal vaccine (for meningitis), which clarifies proper and safe dosing for high-risk babies.

The MMR vaccine update is important to note, as babies should only get two doses, the first between 12 and 15 months and the second between 4 and 6 years. But an exception is now being made for babies between 6 and 11 months who are traveling outside the country; they should be receiving three doses (the first before 12 months, the second between 12 and 15 months, the third about four weeks after the second dose).

For kids older than 12 months traveling outside the country, they should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, the first one between 12 and 15 months and the second one about four weeks later.

See the complete updates to the AAP vaccine schedules here.

The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

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: Calender with “vaccine” notation via Shutterstock

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Must-Know 2014 Pregnancy, Parenting, Health, and Safety News

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

child in childcare centerThere’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.”

Early Signs of Autism
Early Signs of Autism
Early Signs of Autism

Image of child in daycare: Shutterstock

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HIV Returns in 3-Year-Old Girl Once Thought Cured

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Red AIDS RibbonIn 2012, The New England Journal of Medicine published an article about a child known as “Mississippi Baby” who was reportedly cured of HIV. Unfortunately, more than two years later, doctors have discovered the nearly 4-year-old now has detectable levels of the infection again, according to USA Today.

Researchers were cautiously optimistic that this case would provide information that could help babies born with the virus, mostly in developing countries. More from USA Today:

“Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child’s care and the HIV/AIDS research community,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases, at the briefing.

The development “reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body,” Fauci said in a statement. “The NIH remains committed to moving forward with research on a cure for HIV infection.”

The girl is now back on anti-retroviral treatment after being taken off two years ago and will remain mostly for the duration of her life.

“Mississippi Baby” was born with the infection. Her mother did not receive any prenatal care, and when she went to the hospital to deliver, it was too late for the doctors to give Baby treatment before delivery. The day after she was born, doctors began administering medications. Mother and baby routinely received treatment for the next 18 months, but then they disappeared. Doctors feared the worst when they returned five months later, but instead Baby appeared to be HIV-free.

Fauci says that doctors had hoped that giving anti-retroviral drugs so early prevented the AIDS virus from hiding in her white blood cells, which can serve as “reservoirs” of infection. These reservoirs of hidden cells can cause the disease to come back if patients stop their medications.

Fauci said last year that the child’s case offered support to something scientists have long believed: that a cure is possible “if you can get somebody treated before the reservoir of virus forms in the body, and before the immune system has been damaged by months or years of viral replication.”

Click here for an easy worksheet to keep track of all your medical records.

Pregnancy Month by Month: Month 1
Pregnancy Month by Month: Month 1
Pregnancy Month by Month: Month 1

Image: Female hands holding red AIDS awareness ribbon via Shutterstock

 

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Flame Retardant Exposure During Pregnancy Linked to Lower IQs in Kids

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Pregnant Woman ChemicalsPregnant women should think twice before using flame-retardant items. According to a new study, children of women who used items with flame retardants were measured to have lower IQs and higher hyperactivity. More from ScienceDaily.com:

A new study involving Simon Fraser University researchers has found that prenatal exposure to flame retardants can be significantly linked to lower IQs and greater hyperactivity in five-year old children. The findings are published online today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The researchers found that a 10-fold increase in PBDE concentrations in early pregnancy, when the fetal brain is developing, was associated with a 4.5 IQ decrement, which is comparable with the impact of environmental lead exposure.

SFU health sciences professor Bruce Lanphear is part of the research team that measured the levels of flame retardants, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, (PBDEs) in 309 U.S. women at 16 weeks of pregnancy, and followed their children to the age of five.

Researchers say their results confirm earlier studies that found PBDEs, which are routinely found in pregnant women and children, may be developmental neurotoxicants.

PBDEs have been widely used as flame retardants in furniture, carpet padding, car seats and other consumer products over the past three decades. While most items containing PBDEs were removed voluntarily from the market a decade ago, some are still in commerce and others persist in the environment and human bodies. Nearly all homes and offices still contain some PBDEs.

“The results from this and other observational human studies support efforts to reduce Penta-BDE exposures, especially for pregnant women and young children,” says Lanphear. “Unfortunately, brominated flame retardants are persistent and North Americans are likely exposed to higher PBDE levels than people from other parts of the world. Because of this it is likely to take decades for the PBDE levels in our population to be reduced to current European or Asian levels.”

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) added two of three existing commercial PBDE formulas to the list of banned Persistent Organic Pollutants (PIPs) due to concerns over toxicity in wildlife and mammals in 2009. While PBDEs were voluntarily withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004, products manufactured before then may still contain PBDEs, which can continue to be released into the environment and accumulate via indoor dust.

The latest research highlights the need to reduce inadvertent exposure to PBDEs in the home and office environment (e.g., via dust), and in diet (e.g., via fish or meat products), to avert potential developmental neurotoxicity in pregnant women and young children.

Lanphear says additional research is needed to highlight the impact of PBDE exposure on the developing brain. He also notes that it is important to investigate related chemicals and other flame retardants used to replace PBDEs.

Household Chores During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Household Chores During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Household Chores During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?

Image: Pregnant woman in white and respirator holds belly isolated on white background via ShutterStock

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