Posts Tagged ‘ health ’

Should Kids With Lice Be Allowed in Schools?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

It’s never a pleasant topic to discuss, but we need to talk about head lice.

When I was young, I caught the tiny pests from another kid at daycare. I wasn’t particularly close with this girl, so I’m confident that we weren’t sharing hats or rubbing our heads together, but somehow, I ended up with lice anyway. This was years ago now, but my mom still shudders when she thinks about it. Because naturally, my sister caught them too, and my poor mother was forced to spend hours washing and combing out our long hair. And it wasn’t easy for me either—she bagged up all my stuffed animals for two weeks! (Experts have since determined that those grueling days without my plush friends weren’t necessary, as lice can’t survive without human blood. So even worse, my suffering was all for nothing!) Needless to say, the head lice era was a dark time in my family’s history.

I was interested to hear that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just updated their guidelines, saying that kids with lice should not be banned from school. Instead, the child should finish out the school day, be treated and then return to class the next day. Experts are reminding parents that lice are not a serious health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene—just a nuisance that can be dealt with.

I’m feeling a little conflicted about this. On one hand, I obviously trust that the experts know what they’re talking about, and I don’t necessarily believe that a child should be banned from school until every last bug is gone. But what if someone had forced that kid from my daycare to stay home? My whole family would have been a whole lot happier, I can tell you that much. Sure, lice won’t ruin your life—but they will be a massive pain to your family while they’re kicking around. (“Nuisance” is way too gentle of a word in my mind.) It seems to me that keeping your child out of school until you’ve gotten things under control is a reasonable request. Let’s just hope that no matter what the school policy is, parents will use common sense about when a child should stay home, much like with colds or other mild illnesses.

Tell us what you think: should kids with lice be allowed in school?

How to Identify and Treat Lice
How to Identify and Treat Lice
How to Identify and Treat Lice

Image courtesy of Shutterstock 

Chrisanne Grise is an editorial assistant at Parents. Follow her on Twitter @xanne.

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Should Schools Be Allowed to Have Bake Sales?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

I’m a big fan of recent efforts to improve school lunch nutrition over the last few years. After all, about one in three American kids are considered overweight or obese (and even those who aren’t may still be enjoying too much junk food!) So I applaud everyone—whether it be Michelle Obama or a mom who packs healthy lunches for her children each day—who is focusing on this important issue.

That said, I can’t help but feel that the recent bake sale debate going on in Virginia is taking this issue a little too far. Long story short, students are no longer able to hold bake sales with homemade goodies to raise money for field trips, uniforms, and whatever else they need. That’s because new federal guidelines require that all food sold while school is in session must meet certain nutritional standards. And of course, the kids don’t want to pay for “gross” healthy food; a parent volunteer at Brooke Point High School told The Washington Post, “Since we’ve gone to the ‘smart snacks,’ sales have dropped by more than half. The kids just don’t want it.” Some lawmakers in Virginia are displeased about the situation, so they’re currently trying to come up with a bill that offers some exceptions to the rules.

Ultimately, I think we need to teach children the importance of moderation, rather than blocking them from ever enjoying an occasional brownie at a bake sale. My own mother is a health teacher who loves to bake, so she taught me to exercise, eat wholesome food, and also to indulge once in a while with a reasonable portion of a delicious dessert. By outlawing sugary or fatty foods outright, we risk making them more enticing to kids—who may find a way to eat them when adults aren’t looking, anyway. (See our earlier post from a nutritionist who lets her kids drink soda—she nails it.)

That’s not to say that I think kids in Virginia schools (or anywhere else) should be allowed constant access to homemade goods. If the lawmakers do pass an exception, I hope it allows just a few of these tasty fundraisers throughout the year, not an unlimited amount. After all, treats are often also available at birthday parties, club meetings, soccer games, and so on. But an occasional bake sale won’t destroy healthy eating habits—but it will teach kids important lessons about business, independence, and moderation. Those are lessons we can all support.

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

Chrisanne Grise is an editorial assistant at Parents. She’s an avid runner, mainly to counteract her uncontrollable sweet tooth. Follow her on Twitter @xanne.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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One Mom’s Christmas Wish for Her Daughter With Rare Disorders

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

This is a guest post from Nicole Burns D’Angelo, whose daughter, Ella, has rare brain and intestinal disorders. She’s been treated at the two top children’s hospitals in the country—The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Boston Children’s Hospital. I first learned of her story because some friends posted on her Facebook site, Team Ella. Nicole’s Christmas wish is to spread Ella’s story so that families with children also facing the same challenges can connect. 

I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in April 2012. Our joy soon became fear. Ella wasn’t able to eat. We rushed her to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where many test were performed. Ella wasn’t thriving and we needed answers. After countless test we finally received the news that Ella had an extremely rare brain disorder called Congenital Bilateral Perisylvian Syndrome or CBPS. A brain disorder so rare our likelihood of meeting someone else with the same disorder were very slim. CBPS consist of feeding difficulty, partial paralysis of the facial and throat muscles as well as hard to control epilepsy. There’s no cure. It was all so hard to understand we just kept asking why. It didn’t end there.Soon following Ella’s brain diagnosis, her intestines stopped functioning properly. There we were back again having test after test. Ella was diagnosed with Enteric Neuropathy, a disorder that effects the nerves in her entire intestinal tract. Ella is surviving off of TPN (IV nutrition) which she receives through a central line in her chest. IV nutrition can only help her for so long. It can not be a long-term plan. IV nutrition can affect major organs one being the liver causing failure. We spend a lot of time at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, but we make the most of every moment. Ella is the happiest 2 -year-old despite her struggles. She faces everything with a smile.

The holidays are here, and we hoping for a Christmas miracle. The miracle of a cure, a promising treatment, or even a family we can talk to who are facing our same battle. Our Christmas wish is to spread her story. We want other parents to know they are not alone, never give up, and always have hope!

How to Make an Angel Christmas Ornament
How to Make an Angel Christmas Ornament
How to Make an Angel Christmas Ornament

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New Superheroes That Gain Powers From…Vegetables?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons and a wife, and he is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is also writing a parenting humor book. He posts twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here.  He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

Speaking for myself (and likely 99% of the parents reading), getting children to willingly eat vegetables without bribery, blackmail, or an embarrassing combination of the two is a challenge, to say the least. It often feels like I’m trying to set one of my single friends up on a date. And the second they lay eyes on each other, there’s a palpable feeling of, “You’re single for a reason.” But the truly gifted salespeople are the ones who can get that friend (or kid) to move past that initial phase of reluctance, to take the plunge, set aside preconceived notions and just go for it. The gifted ones are able to convince children that vegetables are somehow “cool” and establish them as something children should clamor for! You’re one of those truly gifted salespeople, right? Yes, me neither. So let’s hear about someone who’s trying a different approach…

Through colorful characters Colby Carrot, Erica Eggplant, and Brian Broccoli, Super Sprowtz is an up-and-coming children’s multimedia program with one mission: get kids to associate veggies with superpowers. And to teach children at a young age that there’s more to life than chicken fingers and gummy snacks. Think “Muppets” meets “Popeye.” I don’t know about you, but seeing Popeye guzzle that can of spinach was the one and only reason I had interest in greens as a kid.

Premiering tomorrow (Thanksgiving) via YouTube at 12 pm ET on the biggest eating day of the year in America, the Sprowtz have already confirmed celebrity guests Shaquille O’Neal, New York Yankee CC Sabathia, and White House chef Sam Kass. The show will include singing, cooking, and, if the reel I saw was any indication, even some beat-boxing.

They’ve also received the support of a very special (first) lady you might recognize, who stopped by during s recent tour…

To see what Colby Carrot and crew have in store, check out their intro video below about their purpose and mission statement of these super-powered Sprowtz. It involves walking vegetables, so be warned.

Clearly, we all want our children to ultimately live healthy lifestyles, and that starts with the food they put into their bodies. And although there are no certainties with kids (mine change their minds 25 times a minute), one thing we know is that, children are more likely to listen if a superhero is doing the talking. Here’s hoping the next orange stick our children put in their mouths is a carrot instead of a Cheese Doodle. I know it’s something I’d love to see for my own sons.

Tune in tomorrow at 12 pm ET to Super Sprowtz RAW! The Super Sprowtz will air a new episode every Thursday starting Thanksgiving.


Thanks for reading. You can follow Joe DeProspero on Twitter by clicking here or email him at

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Vaccines. Autism. Are We Done With This Yet?

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D., who is a pediatrician at 411 Pediatrics, in Austin, Texas, the author of Baby 411, and a mom of two.

It has been 16 long years since the shot heard round the world. I’m not talking about the Revolutionary War, but the Modern Vaccine War. It all started with a press conference held in London on February 26, 1998.

Researchers convened the press to discuss the findings of a newly published case report in The Lancet on a handful of children with gut problems and autism. It turned into a worldwide panic attack about the combination Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine possibly causing autism. Despite the fact that their report proved nothing of the sort (and has never been validated by later studies), the researchers chose to vilify the combination vaccine and advise that the three vaccines should not be given together.

As we know now, the Lancet case report had no scientific merit. What makes good science? When various independent researchers set up well-conducted studies and they all find the same results.

(Forget about the fact that the researchers on that Lancet report were paid six-figure sums to publish the study, the lead researcher lost his license to practice medicine in the U.K., and the report was permanently retracted from the journal. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction!)

My point is simple and I bring it up today because there is yet another “controversy” swirling around social media about vaccines and autism.

Here’s the rub: A biochemical engineer dad with a child who has autism reviewed data from a 2004 study conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After looking at the raw data, he determined that African American males have a greater risk of autism if they receive the combination MMR vaccine before age 3. (The CDC did not include some of this data in the published study because they did not have the complete data on race for all study participants and including it in the report might have led to erroneous conclusions.) He was alerted to this “hidden data” by a CDC researcher, Dr. William Thompson.

(Forget about the fact that this well-meaning gentleman is not an epidemiologist or a statistician and believes that his own child developed autism from vaccines. Although Dr. Thompson actually publicly agrees on the need for transparency in all research, he does not feel parents should “avoid vaccinating children of any race.”)

As you can imagine, this has brought the anti-vaccinationists, denialists, and conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork. While it certainly makes for provocative YouTube videos comparing the vaccination program to the Holocaust, let’s go back to my simple point.

What makes good science? Independent researchers study the same hypothesis and draw the same conclusions. The study in question came out in 2004, and was certainly not the only or definitive study done on the safety of the MMR vaccine. Believe me, the MMR vaccine has been studied repeatedly by researchers all over the world since the Modern Vaccine War began in 1998. Good science shows there is no association between the MMR vaccine and autism. Period.

The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

Image via Shutterstock

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