Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Your Child

5 Fitness and Health APPS for Kids This Summer

2:00

Want to be more productive, creative, improve your gaming skills, write the next great best seller, explore new recipes or edit photos in your phone? There’s an app for that! If you can imagine it- there’s probably software designed for that very purpose.

There are numerous health apps out there, and many adults swear that they are getting and staying healthier by using them. But, what about apps dedicated to children’s health and fitness?

Here’s are five from the list of apps that have been reviewed and found a good fit for kids by commonsensemedia.org. The website provides a list of apps accompanied by reviews, appropriate age group, ease of play, violence, sex, consumerism and privacy & security ratings.

1.     Weight Loss for Kids and Teens by Kurbo Health - Age group -10 +

Weight Loss for Kids and Teens by Kurbo Health is a health app that helps kids age 8 to 18 track food choices, exercise minutes, and personal goals. The app and its related Kurbo coaching system are based on the Traffic Light Diet System developed at Stanford University. It categorizes food into green, yellow, and red choices to help kids learn to choose healthy options more often, without totally restricting any foods. There's also an exercise log, a goal-setting and weight-tracking tool, health-education games, and videos explaining each concept. Although the app is free, more personalized help is available through the Kurbo program's website, which includes live coaches. An Android version is scheduled for release soon.

2.     Zombies, Run! Age group – Age group 16-18

ZOMBIES, RUN! Runners become "Runner 5" in a post-apocalyptic community running from zombies and collecting supplies for survival. The story unfolds in episodes interspersed with the runner's own music playlist. Seasons one through three are included with the purchase, and additional episodes can be purchased in-app. Players can use the supplies they collect during their runs to build up their base and continue the fun after their runs.

3.     Stop, Breathe & Think – Age group 10 +

Stop, Breathe & Think is an app that encourages kids to learn the three skills in its title. Kids will stop and take stock of their thoughts and feelings; they'll breathe through guided meditations; and they'll think with increased kindness and compassion for the world around them. It's a great tool for developing positive habits of mind for kids and adults.

4.     LiVe – Age group 10+

LiVe is a fitness and nutrition app geared toward teens and tweens. Based on "8 Healthy Habits," the app encourages kids to set nutrition goals (such as eating a certain number of fruits and veggies and limiting sugary drinks), get more physical activity, eat meals with their families, and keep a positive attitude about food and body image. The easy, fun teen-centric graphics, solid (yet brief) information, and simple trackers give tweens and teens concrete ways to set these goals and track their progress.

5.     FitFu- Age group 13 +

FitFu is a combination of several other "Fu" fitness apps that teaches teens basic exercises, tracks their progress, and shares the information with friends. Because your device must move with your body, this app may encourage you to buy a strap or armband and is not intended for use on the iPad. There are 13 exercises included, such as lunges, pull-ups, and crunches. For each exercise, you hold or strap your device onto your body, and the accelerometer counts your reps. When finished, you can share your workouts with friends via email or Facebook or by connecting with friends who also have the app. Setting up a profile requires an email address or Facebook. You are not able to track exercises that are not included in the app. FitFu users must be 13 or older according to FitFu's terms of service.

The list above offers just a few of the apps parents can check out but there are other websites that also offer kid’s health apps and information.  Take a few moments and investigate and see what is out there; you may find some that fit your child better.

With school out and kids ready to enjoy the summer, parents can point them towards apps that can actually encourage moving, health and fitness in a fun and engaging way.

And of course, the kidsdr.com not only keeps you up on all the latest pediatric medical studies and news, but also provides in-depth discussions on kids health with pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard, videos, parenting q&a and safety recalls related to children’s products. You can also download the kidsdr app for quick and easy access to information - and it's free! 

Source: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/reviews/category/app/genre/health-fitness-65

http://www.kidsdr.com

 

Your Child

How Much Pizza is Too Much?

2:00

Just about everyone loves pizza. These days, there are enough specialty toppings to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. So, it’s understandable that people don’t like to hear or read anything negative about America’s favorite fast food.

 But… and where pizza is concerned, there is always a but… kids that consume too much pizza – notice I said too much not any- are not only more likely to pack on the extra pounds, but consume more fat and sodium than is recommended for healthy diets.

Researchers behind a new study from the Health Policy Center at the Institute of Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), examined dietary recall data from children and adolescents aged 2-19 who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2010.

During those years, children between the ages of 2 and 11 took in fewer calories from pizza by 25 percent. Among teenagers, who actually ate more pizza than the younger group, there was also a decline in intake calories from pizza.  Good news so far.

However, looking at the calorie intake from pizza during 2009 to 2010, pizza made up 22% of the total calorie intake among children and 26% of adolescents' calorie intake on the days when it was eaten.

The younger children took in an additional 84 calories, 3 g of saturated fat and 134 mg of sodium on days that they ate pizza, compared with pizza-free days.

For adolescents the count was substantially higher. Pizza days meant an extra 230 calories, 5 g of saturated fat and 484 mg of sodium - 24% and 21% of their recommended daily intake. Not so good news.

Pizza as a snack between meals had the biggest impact on the children’s diet. Children took in an extra 202 calories and teens an extra 365 calories in addition to their regular meals. Ouch.

It’s really no surprise that kids (and adults) rarely eat less of other foods during pizza snack days to compensate for the extra calories, fat and sodium – we just usually don’t.

Researchers also noted that calorie intake from school cafeterias was about the same on pizza days as it was on non-pizza days. They believe the reason for that is that most school cafeteria food is similarly high in calories. In 2015, that may be changing with new school food policies. Let’s hope so anyway.

Pizza in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad food choice-depending on where it comes from. Homemade pizza can be lower in calories, fat and sodium. You get to decide what kind of crust is used and can substitute lower fat and sodium ingredients to build your own healthier meal. Plus, it taste good!

Because of its huge influence on the diet of American youths, the authors suggest that pizza should be specifically addressed as part of nutritional counseling.

"Curbing pizza consumption alone isn't enough to significantly reduce the adverse dietary effects of pizza. It's a very common and convenient food, so improving the nutritional content of pizza, in addition to reducing the amount of pizza eaten, could help lessen its negative nutritional impact." Said lead author Lisa Powell, who is professor of health policy and administration in the UIC School of Public Health.

Typical fast-food pizza is packed with sodium, fat and calories. This study simply points out that it’s easy to overload on it because it’s convenient and not very expensive. But, it can have a devastating affect on kid’s health when not eaten sensibly. The extra fat, salt and calories add up to more weight, higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure and diabetes. Not anything you really want for your kids or yourself.

The study was recently published in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: David McNamee, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288252.php

Your Child

CDC, White House Urge Measles Vaccinations

2:00

In 2002, when measles were essentially declared eliminated in the U.S., scientists didn’t expect parents would begin to opt out of the MMH vaccinations for their children during the next 5 years. The vaccine is safe and effective, so who wouldn’t want their child protected from a painful and potentially fatal disease?

Turns out that there are American parents who fear vaccines and children who visit from other countries where the vaccine is not available, widely distributed or required for travel.  Measles hasn’t been eliminated around the world and has reared its ugly head again the states.

So far, more than 90 people have been diagnosed in California and the disease has spread to 13 other states including Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington as well as Mexico.

According to public health officials, the current outbreak has been linked to 58 cases that began when an infected person from outside the United States visited Disneyland in Anaheim between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said a traveler could still easily bring in the disease from abroad.

"This is a wake-up call to make sure we keep measles from getting a foothold in our country," she said.

The measles vaccine is part of a grouping of vaccines known as MMH (measles, mumps and rubella.) These diseases spread from person to person through the air. They are highly contagious. You can easily catch them by being around someone who is already infected, but not showing symptoms.

The MMH vaccine can protect children (and adults) from all three of these diseases.

There are valid medical reasons why some people should not receive the vaccine that include:

·      Anyone who has had life-threatening allergic reaction the antibiotic neomycin or any other component of the MMH vaccine.

·      People who are sick at the time the vaccine is scheduled. They should wait till they recover before getting the vaccine.

·      Pregnant women should not get the vaccine until after giving birth. Women should avoid getting pregnant for 4 weeks after vaccination with the MMR vaccine.

·      People with compromised immune systems .You should tell your doctor if you have or are being treated for or with:

o   HIV/AIDS

o   Steroids

o   Cancer

o   A low platelet count

o   Have received another vaccine within the past 4 weeks

o   A transfusion or received other blood products.

The outbreak has renewed debate over the so-called anti-vaccination movement in which fears about potential side effects of vaccines, fueled by now-debunked theories suggesting a link to autism, have led a small minority of parents to refuse to allow their children to be inoculated.

Schuchat called it "frustrating" that some Americans had opted out of the vaccine for non-medical reasons, saying it was crucial that they be given good information about the safety and reliability of inoculations.

There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within a few weeks. But in poor and malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia and even death.

The White House said on Friday that parents should be “listening to our public health officials,” who urge vaccinations against measles, as it emerged the disease has now infected more than 100 people in the U.S.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama thinks parents should ultimately make their own decision whether or not to vaccinate their children, Reuters reports, but added that the science clearly points to vaccinating.

“People should evaluate this for themselves with a bias toward good science and toward the advice of our public health professionals,” said Earnest.

Measles is preventable. We live in a country where the MMH vaccine is affordable and easy to get. We’re fortunate that way.

Children should get 2 doses of MMH vaccine. The first dose when they 12-15 months of age and the second dose 4-6 years of age. Some infants younger than 12 months can receive a dose if they are travelling outside the United States. Children between 1 and 12 years of age can get a "combination" vaccine called MMRV, which contains both MMR and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines.

If you have any concerns about the MMH vaccine, talk with your pediatrician or family doctor about its safety and effectiveness. If you received the MMH vaccine when you were a child, you might want to consider a booster shot.

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mmr.html

Dan Whitcomb, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/30/us-usa-measles-disneyland-idUSKBN0L302120150130

Mandy Oaklander, http://time.com/3691079/measles-vaccinations-white-house/

Your Child

Kids: Mouthguards For All Contact Sports

1:45

Youth sports participation has grown steadily over the years and so have injuries. The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety reports dental injuries as the most common type of face and mouth injury kids experience in sports related accidents.

A new report issued by dental experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says that mouthguards should be included in safety gear for all contact sports.  

Sports-related dental injuries send more than 600,000 people to the emergency room every year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Most of these injuries involve the front teeth, but the tongue and cheeks can also be hurt while playing sports, the UAB team said.

The best way to protect the mouth and teeth during sports is to wear a mouthguard, says Dr. Ken Tilashalski, associate dean for academic affairs at the UAB School of Dentistry. Mouthguards have been shown to reduce the risk of sports-related dental injury by 60 times, he said.

"Wearing a mouthguard reduces the chances of tooth fractures, tooth dislocations and soft tissue cuts," Tilashalski said in a university news release. "The guards also protect against jaw fractures and concussions by absorbing the energy of a traumatic blow to the chin."

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends wearing custom mouthguards for the following sports: acrobats, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. Other experts include baseball and softball infielders on that list. They further recommend the mouthguard to be worn during all practices and competition.

There are basically three types of mouthguards to choose from:

·      Stock: These are preformed and ready to wear, but they may not fit well inside the mouth.

·      Boil and bite: These may be customized and molded to the mouth by softening in boiling water before biting down.

·      Custom-made: A dentist tailor-makes these mouthguards to fit an individual's mouth. These mouthguards provide the best fit and the highest level of protection.

"For my kids, I have chosen to use custom mouthguards as they fit and feel better, do not interfere with speech, and are essentially invisible," Tilashalski said. "Mouthguards need to be replaced as they wear down, and athletes in the tooth-forming years will have to have these replaced more often as the mouth grows and the teeth change."

These mouthguards vary in price and comfort, yet all provide some protection. According to the ADA, the most effective mouthguard should be comfortable, resistant to tearing, and resilient. A mouthguard should fit properly, be durable, easily cleaned, and not restrict speech or breathing.

After each use, rinse your mouthguard and store it in a hard container to prevent the buildup of germs, Tilashalski said. Players should also avoid chewing on their mouthguard to extend its life.

It is important to remember damaged teeth do not grow back. Protect your child’s teeth by making sure he or she wears a mouthguard during practice, competition or just out having fun in a sport where falls are common such as biking, skating and skateboarding.

Story sources: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/dental-and-oral-information-9/misc-dental-problem-news-174/mouthguards-key-defense-against-sports-related-injuries-716284.html

http://www.nationwidechildrens.org

Your Child

More Kids Suffering ACL Injuries

2:00

Kids involved in sports like soccer, basketball and football are increasing their odds of damaging their knees, according to a new study.

A common knee injury — an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear — has steadily increased among 6- to 18-year-olds in the United States, rising more than 2 percent a year over the last two decades, researchers report.

These injuries peak in high school, said lead researcher Dr. Nicholas Beck, an orthopedic surgery resident at the University of Minnesota. Girls have a higher rate of ACL injuries, Beck added.

Sports like soccer and basketball often require the child to pivot or cut back and forth, putting stress on their ACL and risking a tear.  Contact sports like football can further increase the risk. But ACL tears can occur in tennis and volleyball, too.

The study didn’t look at why the injuries are on the rise, but co-author, Dr. Marc Tompkins, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Minnesota, has a theory.

“One potential cause is the year-round sports specialization that is occurring in kids at an earlier age,” Tompkins said.

Instead of playing a variety of sports and using different muscle groups, many kids are focusing on just one sport creating muscle fatigue and an increase for injury, Tompkins explained.

“Another potential cause is that children as athletes play with more intensity and force than 20 years ago, which may put the body at increased risk of injury,” he added.

The numbers of girls experiencing ACL tears are rising because their sports participation numbers are up.

Beck hopes this study will increase awareness of ACL tears in young athletes and promote interest in prevention programs or developing athletic participation guidelines.

The anterior cruciate ligament sits in the center of the front of the knee. It’s one of the ligaments that holds the knee bones together. When it tears, the ligament splits into two, causing knee instability, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

“ACL injuries are serious in the short term because they generally require six months’ to a year’s worth of hard recovery work before going back to sports. And even then it often takes longer to get back to pre-injury function,” Tompkins said.

“ACL injuries are serious in the long term, too, because we know that even if they recover well with or without surgery, the risk of developing arthritis in the injured knee is higher than before the injury,” he added.

Some sports medicine specialist say there are ways to reduce injuries among young athletes, by having coaches teach good running techniques that promote improved function and agility.

Children participating in sports can also benefit from flexibility and stretching programs.

The researchers found that girls of all ages experienced a significant increase in the incidence of ACL tears over 20 years. In boys, however, only those aged 15 to 16 showed such an increase.

The report was published online journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Steven Reinberg, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/acl-tears-on-the-rise-among-kids-especially-girls/

Your Child

Back-To-School Immunizations

2:30

Is your child up-to-date on his or her immunizations for the new school year?

Each state has its own set of immunization requirements, but there are a few that are found in nearly all states. Make sure you know which are required for your child’s school.

The typical list includes:

DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis)

·      Most children have five dosages by the time they start school, including one after their fourth birthday

·      Remember that children also need a tetanus booster when they are around 11 to 12 years old

·      The Tdap vaccine (Boostrix or Adacel) is recommended for teens and adults to protect them from pertussis in 2006 and replaces the previous Td vaccine that only worked against tetanus and diphtheria

MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)

·      Two doses of MMR are usually required by school entry. In the past, the second dose was given when a child was either 4 to 6 years old or 12 years old. Now, it is usually given earlier, but some older children may not have gotten two doses yet.

·      Having two doses of MMR is important in this age of measles outbreaks.

IVP (Polio)

·      Most children have four or five dosages by the time they start school, including one after their fourth birthday.

Varivax (Varicella, or the Chickenpox vaccine)

·      Your older child will need the chickenpox shot if he has not already had chickenpox in the past. Most toddlers young receive it when they are 12 to 18 months old. Although younger children used to be given just one dose, it is now required that kids get a chickenpox booster shot when they are 4 to 6 years old. Older kids should get their booster at their next well child visit or as soon as they can so that they don't get chickenpox.

Hepatitis B

·      A series of three shots that is now started in infancy. Older children are usually caught up by 12 years of age if they haven't received this vaccine yet.

Hepatitis A

·      A set of two shots for children over 12 months years of age. All infants and toddlers are now getting this shot as a part of the routine childhood immunization schedule, but there is currently no plan for routine catch-up immunization of all unimmunized 2- to 18-year-old children, unless they live in a high-risk area with an existing hepatitis A immunization program or if the kids are themselves high risk. Kids are high risk for example, if they travel to developing countries, abuse drugs, have clotting-factor disorders, or chronic liver disease, etc.

·      Hepatitis A vaccine is required to attend preschool in many parts of the United States.

Hib

·      While required for school entry, children do not usually receive this shot after they are five years of age, so children who have missed this shot don't usually need to get caught up before school starts if they are older than 5 years old.

Prevnar

·      A vaccine that can help to prevent infections by the pneumococcal bacteria, which is a common cause of blood infections, meningitis and ear infections in children.

·      Prevnar is typically given between the ages of two months and five years, and isn't approved for older kids, so your older child wouldn't need this shot if he didn't get it when he was younger. It is often required to attend preschool though.

·      A newer version of Prevnar, which can provide coverage against 13 strains of the pneumococcal bacteria, is approved and replaces the older version (Prevnar 7) in 2010, which means that many older children in preschool may need another dose of Prevnar 13, even if they finished the Prevnar 7 series.

·      Another version of this vaccine is available for certain older high-risk children though, including kids with immune system problems, although that wouldn't be required for school.

Meningococcal vaccine

·      Menactra and Menveo, the newest versions of the meningococcal vaccine, is now recommended for children who are 11 to 12 years old, with a booster dose when they are 15 to 18 years old.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all school age children stay up-to-date on all their immunizations.

As well as the vaccines recommended above, AAP includes a few others in its 2016 list. They include:

Influenza

·      Administer influenza vaccine annually to all children beginning at age 6 months. For most healthy, non-pregnant persons aged 2 through 49 years, either LAIV or IIV may be used. However, LAIV should NOT be administered to some persons, including 1) persons who have experienced severe allergic reactions to LAIV, any of its components, or to a previous dose of any other influenza vaccine; 2) children 2 through 17 years receiving aspirin or aspirin-containing products; 3) persons who are allergic to eggs; 4) pregnant women; 5) immunosuppressed persons; 6) children 2 through 4 years of age with asthma or who had wheezing in the past 12 months; or 7) persons who have taken influenza antiviral medications in the previous 48 hours.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

·      Administer a 3-dose series of HPV vaccine on a schedule of 0, 1-2, and 6 months to all adolescents aged 11 through 12 years. 9vHPV, 4vHPV or 2vHPV may be used for females, and only 9vHPV or 4vHPV may be used for males.

·      The vaccine series may be started at age 9 years,

·      Administer the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first dose (minimum interval of 4 weeks), administer the third dose 16 weeks after the second dose (minimum interval of 12 weeks) and 24 weeks after the first dose.

·      Administer HPV vaccine beginning at age 9 years to children and youth with any history of sexual abuse or assault who have not initiated or completed the 3-dose series.

Many states have added an “opt out” choice for parents on some vaccines but not all. For the health and safety of all children, the AAP recommends that parents follow each state’s immunizations requirements and not opt out unless there is a medical necessity.

Story sources: Vincent Iannelli, MD, https://www.verywell.com/school-immunization-requirements-2633240

http://redbook.solutions.aap.org/selfserve/ssPage.aspx?SelfServeContentId=Immunization_Schedules

 

 

Your Child

Hand Sanitizers Poisoning Young Children

2:00

Poison control centers across America have been seeing an increase in calls about children who are getting very sick from drinking hand sanitizers. Poison control officials are warning parents and school officials about this dangerous trend involving small children, basically getting drunk, on hand sanitizer.

“A doctor called us about a week and a half ago about two cases he saw the same day at the ER,” says Gaylord Lopez, PharmD, director of the Georgia Poison Center. “It was a 5- and a 6-year-old.”

The first patient, a 6-year-old girl, was picked up after school stumbling and slurring her words. She’d also fallen and hit her head. Her mother drove her straight to the ER, where doctors found out she’d eaten two to three squirts of strawberry-scented hand sanitizer from a big container sitting on her teacher’s desk.

Her blood alcohol level was 1.79, almost twice what would be considered the legal limit in an adult.

The second case was a 5-year-old boy, who came in with a blood alcohol level of 2.0. The culprit was hand sanitizer.

Lopez checked the national data and saw these cases were part of an unrecognized trend. In 2010, U.S. poison centers got more than 3,600 calls about kids under age 12 eating hand sanitizers. By 2013, that number had swelled to more than 16,000 calls.

“That’s a 400 percent increase,” Lopez says. “I was surprised more than anyone.”

Many of the hand sanitizer bottles come in bright colors and the sanitizer itself smells like bubble gum and other tasty treats such as lemonade and vanilla. All aromas a child might mistake for the real thing.

The big problem with these products are that they can be anywhere from 40 to 95 percent alcohol.

Drinking even just little bit can make kids intoxicated. It’s like drinking a shot or two of hard liquor.

“You and I don’t have any problem sending our kids with hand sanitizer in their backpacks. But what if I told you that was twice as potent as vodka. That’s like a parent sending a bottle of whiskey or rum to school,” Lopez says.

Alcohol poisoning can cause a child’s heart rate, blood pressure and breathing to slow. They may stagger, seem sleepy and vomit. Their blood sugar can drop rapidly leading to seizures and coma.

Lopez says hand sanitizers are often included in the list of school supplies parents should send to school. He says many adults he’s talked to don’t realize that hand sanitizers contain so much alcohol, or they don’t realize that it’s the kind of alcohol that can cause intoxication.

“I wanted to get the word out. Parents should be aware. Teachers should be aware.”

If you have hand sanitizer at home, keep it out of the reach of young children. If you send hand sanitizer with your child to school- especially during the flu and cold season- use the wipes instead.

You can learn more about hand sanitizer poisoning by calling the American Association of Poison Control Center for free advice at 1-800-222-1222.

If you suspect your child may have ingested sanitizer and is showing any of the above symptoms, take your child to the hospital immediately.

Source: Brenda Goodman, MA, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20150915/hand-sanitizers-poisoning-kids

Your Child

Obesity Related Heart Disease Found in Children as Young as 8

2:00

All you have to do is look around, wherever children are gathered, to see that there are far too many kids that are overweight in this country.  And sadly, some of these children may already be developing heart disease according to a new study.

The study reports that obese children as young as 8 years of age, are beginning to show signs of heart abnormalities.

"It is both surprising and alarming to us that even the youngest obese children in our study who were 8 years old had evidence of heart disease," said study lead author Linyuan Jing, a postdoctoral fellow with Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa.

"Ultimately, we hope that the effects we see in the hearts of these children are reversible," Jing added. "However, it is possible that there could be permanent damage."

Researchers conducted MRI scans of 40 children between 8 and 16 years old. Half of the participants were obese; the other half was of normal weight for their age and height.

They found that the obese children had an average of 27 percent more muscle mass in the left ventricle region their heart, and 12 percent thicker heart muscle overall. Both are considered indicators of heart disease, Jing said.

Among 40 percent of the obese children, scans showed thickened heart muscle had already translated into a reduced ability to pump blood. The children with this reduced heart capacity were considered to be at “high risk” for adult cardiac strain and heart disease.

"This should be further motivation for parents to help children lead a healthy lifestyle," Jing said.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, called the findings "alarming."

Some of the obese children in the study were struggling with health complications often associated with excess weight, including asthma, high blood pressure and depression, the researchers said. But none displayed customary warning signs of heart disease such as fatigue, dizziness or shortness of breath, Jing said.

The study did not include kids with diabetes or those that were too large to fit inside the MRI scanning machine. Jing noted that the study might actually underestimate how many children are suffering from heart related problems associated with obesity.

Jing said it’s up to parents to help their children maintain a healthy weight. They should buy healthy foods instead of cheap fast food and fruit juice, "which is high in sugar but low in fiber," she said.

She also recommended that parents limit TV, computer and video game time and encourage more physical outdoor activities.

Childhood obesity isn’t just an American problem; it’s a global problem as well.  The World Heart Federation says that one in 10 school-aged children worldwide are estimated to be overweight. However, in the USA, the number of overweight children has doubled and the number of overweight adolescents has tripled since 1980.

The researchers believe that schools can play a role in helping families understand the health problems associated with obesity.

“…Schools and communities need to do a better job at educating both the parents and children about the health risks of overweight and obesity," said Jing.

Fonarow agreed adding, "Substantially increased efforts are needed to prevent and treat childhood obesity."

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Fla.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Source: Alan Mozes, http://consumer.healthday.com/cardiovascular-health-information-20/misc-stroke-related-heart-news-360/obese-kids-as-young-as-8-show-heart-disease-signs-705099.html

 

 

 

Your Child

It’s Official; CDC Says Flu is Epidemic

2:00

The flu has reached epidemic levels in the United States, with 15 children dead so far this season, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported at the end of December 2014.

Every year, the U.S. reaches a point where the number of flu cases enters the epidemic stage.  There’s no way to tell right now if this year’s flu season will end up being more or less severe than previous ones. Those statistics won’t be available till later in the year.

No state will be spared this season with more flu cases and deaths’ increasing in the next few weeks says Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in CDC's influenza division. "We are in the middle of flu season," Jhung said. "It's a safe bet that we are going to see flu activity continue to increase for a few more weeks. We are going to see every state in the country affected by flu."

The number of children’s deaths from flu changes every year. The latest victim may be a 17 year-old-girl in Minnesota. She was diagnosed with the flu and sent home to recover. Shanna Zwanziger had the flu for about a week before she died says her family. Her mother said Shanna was given the choice of whether to get the vaccine or not, and she chose not to.

The South, Midwest and Western states have been especially hard hit this flu season. At least six children have died in Tennessee and four in Minnesota, according to published reports.

The predominant flu strain this season is the H3N2 virus, the CDC says. This virus is not well matched to this year's flu vaccine, but what part this mismatch is playing in flu deaths isn't known, Jhung said.

The CDC acknowledges that that this year’s flu vaccine is not a good match for the most dominant strain of the virus. That’s because there’s not just one type of flu and the virus can mutate. This year’s vaccine was created before one of the viruses mutated. However, experts say that getting this year’s vaccine can still help protect you and can help make symptoms less severe if you get the flu.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot. It's not too late to get vaccinated, Jhung said. More than one type of flu is circulating, and the vaccine protects against at least three strains of circulating virus, he added.

"If you encounter one of those viruses where there is a very good match, then you will be well-protected," he said. "Even if there isn't a great match, the vaccine still provides protection against the virus that's circulating."

Many people get the flu and recover at home. They spend anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks feeling very bad and then start to feel better. But others face life-threatening complications – such as pneumonia- according to the CDC.

Jhung says parents should always take the flu seriously, and get medical help if their child is very sick.

Warning signs might include a cough that disrupts sleep, a fever that doesn't come down with treatment, or increased shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

There are treatments for the flu such as Tamiflu and Relenza. "Those work best when they are given very quickly. So if you do have signs and symptoms of flu, reach out to a health care provider and get evaluated," Jhung said.

The flu season moves into its later stage in January and February, with different flu types taking the lead. It’s not too late to get your family the flu shot. They are still available at physician’s offices as well as at many pharmacies and health care centers.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/flu-now-epidemic-in-u-s-with-15-child-deaths-reported-695066.html

Liz Neporent, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/years-subpar-flu-shot-save-life/story?id=27898830

Pages

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

When parents head back into the dating scene.

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.