Posts Tagged ‘ health ’

California May Ban Certain Vaccine Exemptions

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

doctor giving vaccineNow that there are more than 120 confirmed cases of measles—92 within the state of California—two California senators are working toward banning parents’ right to exempt their children from mandatory school vaccinations because of personal beliefs, reports Reuters.

These lawmakers are answering the pleas of many families—including that of Rhett Krawitt’s, a 6-year-old boy unable to receive vaccines for medical reasons—who want to keep their children healthy.

“The high number of unvaccinated students is jeopardizing public health not only in schools but in the broader community,” said state Senator Ben Allen, who is co-sponsoring the legislation with fellow Senator Richard Pan. “We need to take steps to keep our schools safe and our students healthy.”

If this legislation is passed, California will become the 33rd state to revoke parents’ right to not vaccinate their child.

For more related information on vaccines:

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

Image: Doctor vaccinating baby via Shutterstock

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Three IUDs and Implants Can Still Be Used Past End Dates

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Woman with IUDWomen who opt for intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants as birth control may be able to use the contraceptives longer — and with the same effectiveness — than the recommended end date, according to a new study.

The research, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, confirms that three types of hormonal IUDs and implants (Mirena, Implanon, and Nexplanon) can last a year longer than what is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

An IUD (like Mirena) is a small T-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted directly into the uterus for up to five years; implants (like Implanon and Nexplanon) are matchstick-sized plastic rods that are inserted into the arm for up to three years.

“Both implants and IUDs work by releasing small doses of a synthetic version of the female sex hormone progestin, which keeps ovaries from releasing eggs,” notes CBS News. “There’s only a certain amount of a progestin available in these devices, which is why the FDA sets an expiration date.”

By extending the lifetime of these devices, women and health care companies could save money, but manufacturers may be reluctant to endorse extensions that could cause them to sell fewer contraceptives.

Researchers followed 800 women between the ages of 18 and 45, which included 263 women with IUDs and 237 with implants. The women were examined for one year after their device expired. “There were no pregnancies in the implant group and only one pregnancy in the IUD group, a failure rate similar to that of hormonal IUDs within the approved five years of use,” reports Health Day.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her adorable baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

How to Take a CVS Pregnancy Test
How to Take a CVS Pregnancy Test
How to Take a CVS Pregnancy Test

Image: Woman holding IUD via Shutterstock

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Secondhand Smoke Decreasing, But Kids Are Still at Risk!

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

NoSmokingThe amount of Americans who are exposed to secondhand smoke has decreased by nearly half in the past 12 years, reports the CDC.

The decline— from 53 percent in 2000 to 25 percent in 2012—is due to many cities and states banning cigarettes in public areas, which has also led smoking to become increasingly less socially accepted.

But secondhand smoke is not entirely a thing of the past—1 in 4 nonsmokers (or 58 million Americans) are still being exposed to these harmful chemicals.

And even more alarming is this statistic: 2 in 5 children, between the ages of 3 and 11, are still exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts also estimate that secondhand smoke has caused more than 400 infants to die from SIDS each year.

“Children are often exposed to smoke in their homes, and the report speculated that the sluggish decline in exposure of children might have to do with the fact that the fall in the adult smoking rate has slowed,”  reports The New York Times.

Infants and children are dependent on others to keep them out of harm’s way, so avoid smoking and exposing them to secondhand smoke at all costs—especially if they suffer from asthma—and everyone will be healthier as a result.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Baby Care Basics: What is SIDS?
Baby Care Basics: What is SIDS?
Baby Care Basics: What is SIDS?

Image: NO Smoking via Shutterstock

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The Measles Outbreak: 8 Facts You Need to Know

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Measles sign

By Wendy Hunter, M.D.

As measles has spread to 14 states (and more than 100 people) already this year—and it’s only February—news reports only tell part of the story about vaccination and risks of exposure. Here’s what concerned parents need to know.

Measles is hard to diagnose early.

Just like a cold, early symptoms are fever, fatigue and loss of appetite; followed by cough and red, watery eyes. Only after about three days does the classic rash appear on the head and progresses down the body.

Measles is highly contagious.

Infectious measles droplets persist up to two hours after the infected person has left an area. And since the contagious period is long—from four days before a rash until four days after—a single infected person can contact hundreds of people.

Measles can cause serious complications.

Measles can lead to pneumonia or ear infections. Most kids recover easily, but in approximately every 1,000 cases, one person will suffer encephalitis (brain inflammation) that causes permanent brain damage; and two to three people will die.

The vaccine is safe.

The latest study, in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics, showed that the vaccine is safe. This goes for both forms of the vaccine available in the U.S.: measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR; and measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (chicken pox), or MMRV. Researchers tracked more than 600,000 1-year-olds over 12 years to confirm the vaccine’s safety.

The vaccine works.

Ninety-five percent of kids will develop immunity when they get their 12-month vaccination. The second dose before kindergarten (age 4-6) gives 99 percent immunity. By contrast, 90 percent of exposed, unvaccinated people will get sick. Immunity can disappear over time and 5 in 100 will lose their immunity by their late teens or adulthood.

The vaccine works even if your child gets it after being exposed to measles.

If your child is exposed and unvaccinated, or hasn’t gotten a booster shot, the vaccine protects when given within 72 hours of exposure.

Very young babies are already protected.

Until 6 months, babies are still protected by the antibodies received in Mom’s womb. But the antibodies will break down, and by 9 months, your baby becomes vulnerable.

Babies should now be vaccinated before international travel.

Because of increased risk, the AAP and CDC now recommends vaccinating 6- to 12-month-olds. However, the regular two-shot series after 12 months is still necessary to ensure long-lasting immunity. And a traveling toddler should get the booster shot early. Learn more about the AAP’s updated vaccine schedule here.

Wendy Hunter, M.D., is a pediatrician in the Emergency Department at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and the mom of two children. She’s the author of the Baby Science blog, where she explains the reasons behind weird kid behaviors and scary (but normal) baby symptoms.

More About Measles

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

Image: Measles sign via Shutterstock

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Should Schools Ban Unvaccinated Kids?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

forbid children signOne family’s story might give you a different and more personal perspective on a continually debated issue: vaccines.

For the past four and a half years, Carl Krawitt and his wife, Jodi, have had to do something that no parent ever wants to do—watch their 6-year-old son, Rhett, battle leukemia. And after finishing numerous rounds of chemotherapy treatment, doctors say Rhett is in remission.

But now another battle has begun— the battle to keep Rhett as healthy as possible, despite being unvaccinated. Rhett cannot be vaccinated until his immune system is strong enough, which could take months. And if Rhett contracts a disease, he is at a higher risk for complications and even death.

While Rhett can rely on the power of herd immunity, it’s not guaranteed when he lives in Marin County, California, which has the highest rate of children in the Bay Area who have been opted out of immunizations. In fact, Rhett’s elementary school has a 7 percent personal belief exemption rate, which is nearly three times more than the statewide average.

In light of the current measles’ outbreak on the west coast, Carl is speaking up for his son — by requesting that his elementary school bans all unvaccinated students, except for those who, like his son, cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. “It’s very emotional for me,” he told NPR. “If you choose not to immunize your own child and your own child dies because they get measles, OK, that’s your responsibility, that’s your choice. But if your child gets sick and gets my child sick and my child dies, then…your action has harmed my child.”

And Rhett is not alone in having a weakened immune system. According to oncologist Dr. Robert Goldsby, “there are hundreds of other kids in the Bay Area who are going through cancer therapy, and it’s not fair to them.”

However, at this time, Marin County doesn’t have any confirmed or suspected cases of measles, so no immediate action can be made without approval from county health officers. However, “if the outbreak progresses and we start seeing more and more cases, then this is a step we might want to consider,” said Matt Willis, Marin County’s health officer.

We want to hear from you—let us know what you think! Is Carl Krawitt’s request to ban students fair? Or do you think it goes too far?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

More About Measles

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

Image: Forbid children sign via Shutterstock

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