Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
Hundreds of children in the Midwest have been hospitalized in the past month due to respiratory illnesses, Reuters reports.
A specific type of enterovirus that typically affects school-age children, called enterovirus 68 or EV-D68, seems to be the cause, and has led to more than 300 hospitalizations for respiratory-related illnesses in Kansas City, Missouri, alone since last month.
A dozen states are reportedly affected—including Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky—have since and have contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help in investigating this illness, USA Today reports.
Enteroviruses, which usually peak in September, often produce symptoms similar to the common cold (like coughing), but can also develop into more serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or wheezing. In addition, sometimes a rash can show up, CNN reports.
Transmission of this enterovirus is not fully understood, though it seems to be passed via close contact with another infected person, which is why schoolchildren are at a higher risk. The CDC recommends keeping in mind the following practices to prevent spreading it and other respiratory illnesses:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, which has been treating many of these patients, recommends the following advice if your child is exhibiting respiratory illness symptoms: ”If your child has fever not controlled by acetaminophen or ibuprofen or is not drinking, call your healthcare provider for advice. Seek care promptly if your child develops difficulty or labored breathing. If your child has asthma, follow your Asthma Action Plan. And if symptoms persist, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.”
Has your town or city been affected by this outbreak?
Photo of child in hospital courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen, the two most commonly used pain relievers for infants and children, have had some parents worried after recent research had suggested that the medications may increase the risk of a child developing asthma. A new study, presented at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society, says the association is a misreading of the data. More from The New York Times:
The study, presented on Monday at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society in Philadelphia, found that children suffering from respiratory infections — which often lead to asthma — are simply more likely to be given over-the-counter pain relievers. These underlying respiratory infections and the fevers they cause, not the use of pain relievers, are responsible for the increased asthma risk, the authors argue.
“That’s essentially what we think is happening here,” said Dr. Augusto Litonjua, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We showed that children who took acetaminophen and ibuprofen in the first year of life had higher risks of developing asthma later on. But when we accounted for their concomitant respiratory infections, the effects were no longer significant.”
For the study, Dr. Litonjua and his colleagues examined data on nearly 1,200 women and their young children. The women were recruited early in pregnancy and were subsequently followed after giving birth. The researchers looked at how frequently the women used drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, either for themselves or for their children. They investigated any diagnosis of asthma or wheezing symptoms, and they looked at respiratory infections, like pneumonia and bronchitis, that the children developed as infants and toddlers.
When they separated the children into groups, based on their exposure to analgesics in their first year of life, the researchers found that those with the highest exposure had a greater likelihood of developing asthma by age 7, a result consistent with earlier reports. But once they adjusted their findings to take into account the occurrence of very early respiratory infections, they found that the association between pain relievers and asthma diminished.
Much of the research linking pain relievers to asthma comes from observational studies, which are limited by a problem known as confounding by indication, in which the symptoms of an underlying disorder can be mistakenly considered a side effect of treatment.
Image: Infant receiving medicine, via Shutterstock
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Monday, May 6th, 2013
As many as one in 20 American kids are affected by either skin or respiratory allergies, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found. CNN.com has more:
Food allergy prevalence increased from 3.4% to 5.1% between 1997 and 2011, while skin allergy prevalence more than doubled in the same time period. That means 1 in every 20 children will develop a food allergy and 1 in every 8 children will have a skin allergy. According to the CDC, respiratory allergies are still the most common for children younger than 18.
The new report, which looked at data from the National Health Interview Survey, found that skin allergies decreased with age, while respiratory allergies increased as children got older.
Both food and respiratory allergies also increased with income level, meaning richer families had higher rates of childhood allergies. Hispanic children had lower rates than non-Hispanic white and black children in the survey. The report did not look into the potential reasons for this.
Scientists are still trying to figure out where allergies come from, and why they’re on the rise in the United States. Internal bacteria, genetics and environment may all play a role, says Dr. Edward Zoratti, head of the allergy and immunology division at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Image: Girl scratching her arm, 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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Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
Around 800,000 units of the Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, manufactured by Fisher-Price, Inc., is under a voluntary recall after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) discovered that mold can easily grow under the removable seat cushion in the sleeper. The product is a recliner that rocks from side to side. At least 600 reports of mold have been received by the CPSC, and 16 infants have been treated for respiratory illnesses that doctors associated with the mold.
From the CPSC’s release announcing the recall:
Mold can develop between the removable seat cushion and the hard plastic frame of the sleeper when it remains wet/moist or is infrequently cleaned, posing a risk of exposure to mold to infants sleeping in the product. The CPSC advises that mold has been associated with respiratory illnesses and other infections. Although mold is not present at the time of purchase, mold growth can occur after use of the product.
Consumers should immediately check for mold under the removable seat cushion. Dark brown, gray or black spots can indicate the presence of mold. If mold is found, consumers should immediately stop using the product. Consumers can contact Fisher-Price for cleaning instructions or further assistance. Cleaning and care instructions can also be found at www.service.mattel.com or by contacting the firm.
Consumer Contact: Fisher-Price; at (800) 432-5437, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or online at www.service.mattel.com for more information.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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