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Friday, December 14th, 2012
By Amy Julia Becker
Even though I’m the mother of three small children, I’ve never been a huge fan of child safety regulations. I often roll my eyes at warnings on labels. I think back to my own childhood, when Fisher-Price Little People were shaped like cylinders instead of marshmallows, and we still managed to survive. I think back to my helmetless bike riding days. I often tell my kids that I believe in germs and dirt, by which I mean I bypass antibacterial hand wash, and I allow them to play with other kids who have the sniffles (though I avoid stomach bugs like the plague). I also allow them to take calculated risks that sometimes result in skinned knees and sometimes result in greater strength, balance, and flexibility.
So I read the recent Safe Kids Report on the effect of sequestration (aka the fiscal cliff) on children’s health and safety with some degree of skepticism. And yet, despite my own laissez faire parenting, this report convinced me that our current budget impasse could lead to arbitrary and senseless cuts to government programs because these programs are necessary, appropriate, and largely cost-effective for ensuring the health and safety of children across our nation.
According to the report, “Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 19,” and “programs with a direct programmatic relationship to child safety would be cut by $4,586,863,600 in the remaining months of FY 2013.” The report goes on to explain the effect of sequestration upon three government agencies, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (Injury Center), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Each of these agencies (among dozens of others with some responsibility for kids’ health and safety) will receive sweeping eleven percent cuts if Congress is unable to avoid the fiscal cliff.
The report includes a helpful infographic that relates some of the potential safety risks to children. These risks include a reduction in the oversight of imported and domestic toys and baby gear that, statistically speaking, could mean “4.2 million more dangerous products for kids left on market shelves.” Highway deaths for kids under 19 have decreased by a dramatic 29% in the past decade, due at least in part to the NHTSA’s efforts to support car safety.
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Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
The consumer products company Kimberly-Clark is recalling 1,400 boxes of Kotex tampons amid fears that the tampons could be contaminated with a potentially life-threatening bacteria.
The Food and Drug Administration published details of the recall, which applies to the Kotex Natural Balance* Security® Unscented Tampons Regular Absorbency:
The tampons were manufactured with a raw material contaminated with a bacterium, Enterobacter sakazakii, which may cause health risks, including vaginal infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), pelvic inflammatory disease or infections that can be life-threatening. Women with serious existing illnesses, cancer or immune-compromised conditions, such as HIV, are at increased risk. There is limited evidence of transfer between individuals with this bacterium.
If you are concerned your tampons may be among the recalled boxes, check the FDA website for a complete list of lot numbers and SKU codes. The Kotex website also has a list of stores that were most likely to carry the contaminated tampons.
(image via: http://www.kotex.com/)
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Thursday, September 15th, 2011
One hundred fifteen children under age 18 died from influenza between September 2010 and August 2011, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found, highlighting what the agency is calling the “vital” importance that children receive the flu vaccine each year.
“It’s vital that children get vaccinated,” Dr. Lyn Finelli, chief of the CDC’s Surveillance and Outbreak Response Team said in a statement. “We know the flu vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, especially not in children with high risk medical conditions. That’s why it’s essential that these two medical tools be fully utilized. Vaccinate first; then use influenza antiviral drugs as a second line of defense against the flu. Right now we aren’t fully using the medical tools at our disposal to prevent flu illnesses and deaths in children.”
This season’s influenza vaccine protects against three influenza viruses, the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. These are the same three flu virus strains that were circulating in 2010-2011 – just the eighth time since 1969 this phenomenon has occurred.
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Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has unveiled 9 new warning labels that will be required to appear on cigarette packages no later than September, 2012. The labels are designed to “help prevent children from smoking, encourage adults who do to quit, and ensure every American understands the dangers of smoking,” the US Department of Health and Human Services said in a release.
“Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and costs our economy nearly $200 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity,” the release says. Each warning is accompanied by a smoking cessation phone number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, placed directly on the cigarette packages in an attempt to inspire smokers to quit before they smoke even one more cigarette.
The labels are graphic and in some cases shocking, depicting lung and oral cancers, stroke victims, and a man breathing through a tracheotomy. The FDA has published all 9 cigarette warning labels here.
Two of the labels are directly aimed at raising awareness of the adverse affects of cigarettes on child health. One shows a baby near swirling cigarette smoke (depicted in this post) with a message that second-hand smoke allows carcinogens and other toxins into your child’s body. The other is a cartoon drawing of an ill newborn, illustrating how smoking during pregnancy increases the risks of miscarriage, stillborn or premature infants, infants with low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
(image via: http://www.fda.gov/)
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Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
The California medical board has revoked the license of Dr. Michael Kamrava, on the grounds that he committed “gross negligence” by transferring an excessive number of embryos during Nadya Suleman’s IVF procedure in 2009. Suleman, 35, is known as the “Octomom” because she gave birth to octuplets later that year.
The board considered two other cases in addition to Suleman’s, in one of which Kamrava transferred 7 embryos into a 48-year-old mother. “This is not a one-patient case or a two-patient case; it is a three patient case, and the established causes of discipline include repeated negligent acts (all three patients), gross negligence (two patients) and inadequate records (one patient),” the board said in its report, according to The Telegraph newspaper.
Do you think the medical board is right to revoke Dr. Kamrava’s medical license?
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