Posts Tagged ‘ American Academy of Pediatrics ’

The American Academy of Pediatrics Releases New Policy on Reading to Kids During Infancy

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Mom reading book to babyFor the first time, the AAP has made an official stand on early literacy, releasing a new policy today that advocates reading aloud to children every day, beginning from birth. The new policy urges pediatricians and policy makers to ensure that books are available to all families, particularly those with low income.

In addition to the announcement, the AAP has also partnered with four organizations, the Clinton Foundation, Too Small to Fail, Scholastic, and Reach Out and Read, to implement the new policy. The AAP and Too Small to Fail are creating a toolkit to include guidelines for parents on the importance of reading from infancy, which will be distributed to 62,000 pediatricians in the AAP network. Scholastic is also donating 50,000 children’s books that Reach Out and Read will distribute to 20,000 medical providers.

The AAP recommends restricting TV time for kids under 2 in favor of interactive play, and reading books can certainly be a part of that. Speaking to the Huffington Post, Pamela High, M.D., the lead author on the AAP early literacy policy, recommends that parents focus on the 5 Rs of early education: read together, rhyme and play with words, set consistent routines, reward with praise, and develop a strong relationship.

Being exposed to books at a young age will also foster early education, help kids prepare for school later in life, and possibly reduce the educational gap between low- and high-income families. There are also several amazing benefits of reading out loud to babies — it strengthens bonding, increases language skills, improves vocabulary, boosts brain activity, and fine-tunes social and emotional recognition — all important things for baby’s development. So grab some board books and start shaping a little bookworm today!

Activity Tips: Mia Reads Book
Activity Tips: Mia Reads Book
Activity Tips: Mia Reads Book

Image: Mother and child reading a book via Shutterstock

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Gun Safety: The One Question You Must Ask

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Gun with chain and padlockBefore letting your kid go to a friend’s house for a playdate, you might check with the child’s parents about pets, TV, food allergies, and, of course, pickup time. But do you ever think to ask about whether they have guns in the house—and, if so, how they store them?

The thought probably never even crossed your mind. But it must. That’s why the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics) has established National ASK (“Asking Saves Kids”) Day this Saturday to raise awareness about the need to inquire about the presence of unlocked or loaded guns wherever your kids play.

Ashlyn Melton, a mom in Louisiana, wishes she had asked the parents of her son Noah’s friend that question. A gun owner herself, Melton took the safety precautions she expected all gun owners to do: She kept her firearms and ammunition separate and locked away, and she taught Noah, 13, about gun safety. Nonetheless, while on a playdate in December 2011, Noah was accidentally shot and killed by his friend, who playfully put a gun to Noah’s head (not realizing it was loaded) and pulled the trigger. “I didn’t ask how they kept their guns,” says Melton, whose son would have turned 16 this week. “I assumed, and now Noah’s not here.”

Her story is tragic, but unfortunately, the circumstances are not uncommon:
• One out of three homes with children in the U.S. has a gun.
• Nearly 1.7 million children live in homes with loaded, unlocked guns.
• Nine children and teens are shot every day in gun-related accidents.

In her interview with Parents, Melton says parents are often hesitant to bring up the subject of gun safety, especially if they live in an area where many neighbors own a firearm. “I want the stigma that, ‘I can’t ask them about guns—that’s personal’ to go away. It’s not personal. If my child is going to your house, I have the right to know.”

Jennie Lintz, director of public health and safety for the Brady Campaign, tells Parents there’s no need for this conversation to be awkward. In fact, 93% of respondents in a national survey said they would not be offended if another parent asked them about firearms. The Brady campaign offers suggestions for bringing up the subject seamlessly, like mentioning a gun-related incident in the news or a recent conversation you’ve had with your child about gun safety. Possessing firearms shouldn’t be a disqualifier for a playdate, provided the family keeps them locked, unloaded, and out of sight and reach of children, with ammunition kept separately in a safe.

Melton views her tragic personal loss as an opportunity to educate others about the importance of gun safety in the home. “Noah’s life ended in 8th grade, and his memory is still there,” she says. “I don’t want Noah’s memory. I want Noah. And I’m worried about the parents who don’t think to ask about gun safety. I was one of those parents.”

Image: Gun with chain and padlock (ShutterStock)

Joe Biden Answers Your Gun Safety Questions
Joe Biden Answers Your Gun Safety Questions
Joe Biden Answers Your Gun Safety Questions

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7 Things I Learned from Pediatricians

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

(How cute is the baby in this photo?!)

A few weeks ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics held its annual conference, this time in Orlando. Each year, roughly 8,000 doctors from around the United States (as well as other countries) attend this four-day meeting in order to share the latest research and help pediatricians manage their practices more effectively. Several reporters and editors go as well, myself included. I think of myself as a fly on the wall–it’s a phenomenal opportunity to learn about the issues that resonate most strongly with doctors and to hear firsthand what they encounter when they’re interacting with children and their parents. I come away with all kinds of story ideas, leads on experts, and blog fodder. I’ve got a steno book full of notes (yep, I’m old-school) that I’ll put to use all year, but in the meantime, here are some of the findings that jumped out at me.

1. Not enough kids are wearing bike helmets. In one study, only 11 percent of children involved in bike accidents had been wearing one.

2. Asthma often goes hand in hand with allergies. We report on this all the time, but the numbers are pretty startling: Between 60 and 80 percent of kids with asthma will also have allergic rhinitis.

3. Apps for babies may have a big drawback. Studies are underway looking at “poking” apps (such as ones where your little one pops bubbles on the screen); researchers suspect that they may cause kids to be behind later, when it’s time to grasp pencils. We’ll be following this for sure.

4. Every family should have two non-negotiable electronics-free zones. They are the dinner table (or wherever your family eats together), and your child’s bed. The doctor who led this talk said that banning electronics from the bedroom simply isn’t realistic anymore, but every parent ought to be able to keep them out of your child’s actual bed.

5. Melatonin may help kids sleep, but only to a point. In a session about alternative approaches to developmental disorders, the doctor said that melatonin can be helpful in making kids fall asleep faster, but it doesn’t necessarily make them sleep longer.

6. Tics are more common than you may think. Between 10 and 20 percent of school-age kids have them, and they typically appear in kids between the ages of 2 and 6. Luckily, they tend to go away, but if they persist for more than a year (which admittedly sounds like a long time), your pediatrician should refer you to a specialist.

7. Pot is addictive. (By the way, the session on marijuana was packed.) It’s a common misconception that you can’t become addicted to marijuana, but loads of research says otherwise. And when it comes to “medical marijuana,” we need to be careful, since no studies have included kids or adolescents. Speaking of older kids, more of them now smoke pot daily than they smoke tobacco, and that trend is expected to continue.

Use this handy quiz to decide whether your kid is too sick for school. Plus, find out which 12 sick kid symptoms you should never ignore.

Image: Pediatrician with baby via Shutterstock.

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Your Child’s Drawing Could Take You to Orlando!

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Get your kid thinking creatively for a good cause with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 9th Annual Children’s Art Contest. If your child submits a piece of original artwork depicting a world without tobacco and secondhand smoke, he or she could be invited to Orlando to present the masterpiece at the AAP’s National Conference & Exhibition, and receive $500 cash and up to $1,000 in travel expenses. Second-place winners receive $250, and all six winners’ schools will receive matching cash amounts. The contest is open to children in three groups: grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. To enter, children must send their artwork by August 30 to Children’s Art Contest, American Academy of Pediatrics, 141, Northwest Point Boulevard, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. (You can’t enter online, but you’ll find the complete rules, entry form, and consent form here.)

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