Thursday, October 30th, 2014
It can be tough to treat your young child’s nighttime cough. It’s dangerous for children under 1 to have honey, which is considered to be a natural cough remedy, and over-the-counter cough medications aren’t approved by the FDA for ages 2 and under. (The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend them for children 6 and younger.)
But a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics looked at agave nectar, a substance similar to honey, and studied how it helped children ages 2 months to 47 months compared to a placebo and compared to nothing. Researchers found, based on the parents’ feedback, that both therapies appeared to reduce cough symptoms significantly better than no treatment at all.
While several studies have shown that honey does improve how parents perceive their kids’ cough symptoms compared to a placebo, agave didn’t appear to make much of an impact, according to Deena Blanchard, M.D., a pediatrician at New York University Langone Medical Center, who didn’t participate in the study.
“We know honey is good for kids over 1 year, we know it works better than a placebo and cough syrup. But then what do we do for the kids under one year?” Dr. Blanchard asks. “An interesting followup study would be to only get kids who are 6 months to 1 year and test agave with them.”
Because the study was small (119 children), it would need to be replicated. A number of other factors that may have affected the study’s outcome: colds get better on their own anyway, parents often feel better when they go to the physician, and just about any liquid (even just water) can help to soothe a dry throat, Dr. Blanchard suggests.
And until more research is pulled together proving this study’s conclusions, David L. Hill, M.D., a pediatrician in Wilmington, North Carolina, said that in his practice he recommends children under age 1 take corn syrup as a means of relief. Of the study, he said: “I think the take-home for this may be that anything sweet is going to work.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that this study was funded by Zarbee’s, Inc., a company that sells agave nectar. (Of course, this potential conflict of interest is less noteworthy because the study concluded that agave isn’t better than a placebo.).
Does your infant have a cough? Decode his symptoms and consider some other all-natural cough and cold remedies here. And remember, if you have any questions, ask your healthcare provider about what’s best for your child.
Photo of coughing baby courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Along with the health benefits of home-cooked cuisine, a new study shows that family dinners may help teens cope with the effects of cyberbullying.
“One in five adolescents experience cyberbullying,” Frank Elgar of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University said in a press release. “Many adolescents use social media, and online harassment and abuse are difficult for parents and educators to monitor, so it is critical to identify protective factors for youths who are exposed to cyberbullying.”
According to research published in JAMA Pediatrics earlier this week, nearly 19 percent of the students involved in the study reported having experienced cyberbullying during the previous year. And while victims of cyberbullying have been shown to abuse drugs and alcohol as well as have an increased possibility of developing mental health problems, this study demonstrated that teens who were dealing with cyberbullying and who ate with their families on a regular basis benefited from the social support that goes hand in hand with dinner table conversation.
Of course, family dinners aren’t the only way you can help your child cope with cyberbullying. The research promotes any kind of family interaction, whether it’s eating breakfast together or talking on the drive in to school, can offer the support your child needs. And if you think your child is being cyberbullied follow our 18 tips to put a stop to cyberbullying.
And bring your family to the table with these family-friendly slow cooker recipes.
Photo of family at dinner courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Despite a spate of recent studies claiming a drop in the childhood obesity rate–especially one study that claimed a 43 percent drop in preschoolers with weight problems–new research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has found a sharp rise in the number of U.S. kids who are severely obese. More from CNN:
The researchers looked at data from more than 26,000 children age 2 to 19 in the United States who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that rates of overweight and obese children have been trending upward since 1999, with significant increases seen recently in the number of severely obese children.
Severe childhood obesity rates have more than doubled since 1999, according to the study. In 1999-2000, less than 1% of children fell into the Class 3 obesity category – meaning they had a body mass index 140% higher than their peers. In 2011-2012, 2.1% of children were in the same category. An additional 5.9% met the criteria for Class 2 obesity.
“I think there’s certain kids who are at greatest risk for obesity,” said lead study author Asheley Skinner, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “When you put them in an environment like this one… they’re more likely to gain a whole lot of weight. That’s part of what’s going on.”
The risks associated with that extra weight are scary.
Obese children are more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They’re also at risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and psychological problems due to poor self-esteem. Studies show that obese children and adolescents are likely to remain obese as adults.
A separate study published in the journal Pediatrics this week estimates an obese child will incur anywhere from $12,000 to $19,000 in additional medical costs throughout his or her lifetime compared to a normal weight child.
Image: Blocks spelling “Obese,” via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
A growing number of families are bed-sharing, or having their infants and young children sleep in bed with their parents, despite warnings from health experts that the practice increases the chances that a baby could die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, or entanglement. A new government-funded study shows that bed-sharing has doubled over the past 17 years. More from USA Today:
The increase was most notable among African-American infants, according to the study reported Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Overall, the percentage of nighttime caregivers who reported that an infant usually shared a bed rose from 7% in 1993 to 14% in 2010. Among black infants the proportion increased from 21% to 39%. Among white infants, it rose from 5% to 9%. Among Hispanic infants, it rose from 13% to 21%.
“The disparity in nighttime habits has increased in recent years,” said lead author Eve Colson of the Yale University School of Medicine in a statement. “Because African-American infants are already at increased risk for SIDS, this trend is a cause for concern.”
Advice from physicians could significantly reduce infant bed-sharing, also known as co-sleeping, for all families, finds the survey of nearly 20,000 caregivers conducted by researchers with the National Institutes of Health and others. Caregivers who perceived physicians’ attitude as against sharing a bed were about 34% less likely to report that the infant usually shared a bed than were caregivers who received no advice.
To reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related dangers, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies to sleep in the same room as the caregiver, but not in the same bed.
Image: Bed-sharing family, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, July 25th, 2013
A growing number of retail stores are offering pediatric care services, examining kids with minor health issues and saving parents a trip to the doctor’s office. A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics is taking a closer look at whether these retail clinics are as effective as they are convenient. More from Time.com:
Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis report that even families with well-established relationships with a pediatrician take advantage of pediatric retail clinics to take care of their children’s minor health issues, even if they are staffed with non-pediatric health care personnel.
Why? The researchers surveyed 1,484 parents from 19 Midwestern pediatric practices who said that they took their kids to the clinics out of convenience; 74% of the parents said they first considered going to their pediatrician, but 37% decided on the retail clinic because it had hours that conformed better with their schedules.
In a corresponding editorial, Dr. Edward Schor of the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children’s Health in Palo Alto, California wrote that such decisions may become more commonplace: “Retail-based clinics reflect systemic changes occurring within the health care industry to which pediatric practices must adapt.” Retail clinics, which are typically run by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are not only convenient, but cost patients about 30% to 40% less than office practices. Most of these clinics are located in retail pharmacy stores, while others are operated by hospitals or doctors’ groups.
The lower cost and increased convenience of the clinics are putting pediatricians on the defensive, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) formally opposes them as an appropriate venue for care of infants and children. AAP officials question the quality of care patients receive, stemming from the fact that children may see different practitioners at each visit.
Image: Mother and child at pharmacy, via Shutterstock
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