Your Child

Reducing the Spread of Enterovirus-D68 in Children

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While the first case of Ebola in the U.S. has captured the headlines, another virus that is actually having an impact on our kids, is picking up steam across the country.

43 states and the District of Columbia have reported over 500 confirmed cases of Enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68).

The virus was first isolated in1962 in California and had been considered a rather rare virus with only small pockets of cases reported regularly to the CDC since 1987. However, this year the number of cases is increasing rapidly

There has been one confirmed death from the virus: a four year-old boy from New Jersey. Four other deaths have been linked to EV-D68, but it’s still unclear whether the children actually died from the virus or whether there was an underlying condition that caused their death.

One thing the experts agree on is that the number of cases this year is higher and more severe than in other years. Health officials are also trying to determine if the virus is associated with cases of muscle weakness or paralysis that have struck 10 children in the Denver area. Similar cases have been reported in Massachusetts, Michigan and Missouri.

Infants, children and teenagers are the most likely to become infected with the enterovirus. It’s spread like any other virus; an infected person sneezes, coughs or touches a surface.

Doctors want parents to know that children with asthma or breathing problems are at risk for the more severe symptoms from EV-D68.

"Children with pre-existing lung conditions, such as asthma, appear to be at the greatest risk for severe symptoms from this virus. Most EV-D68 infected children recover without serious illness," Dr. Albert Rizzo, senior medical advisor at the American Lung Association, said in a news release.

Most children will recover from EV-D68 just as they would from any other cold-related virus, but there are symptoms- that if present- need immediate attention.

"It is important for parents to understand that children with this infection who have asthma or a history of wheezing episodes are at higher risk for increased symptoms of shortness of breath and wheezing and are more likely to need specific treatment to address this problem. This means quick contact with their pediatrician or family doctor and even a trip to the emergency room, or a call to 911 is appropriate if respiratory distress is present," Rizzo advised.

At this time there is no vaccine for EV-D68, but there are actions that adults and children can take to help prevent infection. They are:

·      Washing hands often with soap and water, for 20 seconds each time.

·      Not touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

·      Avoiding contact such as kissing, hugging or sharing eating utensils or cups and glasses with people who are sick.

·      Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

You can also check with your child’s school or daycare center about what actions are being taken to help prevent the spread of colds and viruses.

Earlier in the virus season, there was not as much concern about EV-D68 in the medical community because it was considered a rare virus that would likely be contained, just like in past years. However, this year is proving to be different than expected and doctors are now warning parents to keep a closer eye on their children’s symptoms if they are sick, especially if any breathing difficulties arise. It’s much better to get checked out as far as this virus is concerned.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/asthma-news-47/experts-give-advice-on-respiratory-virus-that-has-struck-kids-across-the-u-s-692372.html

http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/EV-D68.html

Your Child

Antibiotics Often Prescribed When Not Needed

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By now, most parents understand that antibiotics are not effective for viral infections, only for illnesses caused by bacteria.

However, that hasn’t deterred many physicians from over-prescribing antibiotics for children with ear and throat infections.

More than 11 million antibiotic prescriptions written each year for children and teens may be unnecessary, according to researchers from University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital. This excess antibiotic use not only fails to eradicate children's viral illnesses, researchers said, but also supports the dangerous evolution of bacteria toward antibiotic resistance.

"I think it's well-known that we prescribers overprescribe antibiotics, and our intent was to put a number on how often we're doing that," said study author Dr. Matthew Kronman, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Seattle Children's Hospital.

"But as we found out, there's really been no change in this [situation] over the last decade," added Kronman. "And we don't have easily available tools in the real-world setting to discriminate between infections caused by bacteria or viruses."

 Doctors have limited resources when it comes to differentiating between bacterial or viral infections. Physicians can use the rapid step test to determine if the streptococcus bacteria is the cause of a child’s sore throat, but that is about it for immediate diagnostic tools.

Most colds are virus related and one of the first symptoms will be a sore or scratchy throat. It will typically go away after the first day or so and other cold symptoms will continue. Strep throat is often more severe and persistent.

A virus often causes ear infection as well. Many doctors treat ear infections as though they are bacterial to be on the safe side and avoid serious middle ear infections.

To determine antibiotic prescribing rates, Kronman and his colleagues analyzed a group of English-language studies published between 2000 and 2011 and data on children 18 and younger who were examined in outpatient clinics.

Based on the prevalence of bacteria in ear and throat infections and the introduction of a pneumococcal vaccine that prevents many bacterial infections, the researchers estimated that about 27 percent of U.S. children with infections of the ear, sinus area, throat or upper respiratory tract had illnesses caused by bacteria.

But antibiotics were prescribed for nearly 57 percent of doctors' visits for these infections, the study found.

Kronan hopes that the study’s results will encourage the development of more diagnostic tools and will spur doctors to think more critically about prescribing antibiotics unless clearly needed.

Previous research has shown that parents often pressure their doctor to prescribe an antibiotic to treat their child’s ear or sore throat symptoms. However, when parents are given other suggestions on how to alleviate the symptoms they have been much more receptive than when their doctor just flat out says he won’t prescribe antibiotics.

Many physicians and researchers are concerned that the amount of antibiotics being prescribed these days is setting us all up for future problems when dealing with bacterial infections. Bacteria are adaptable and mutate over time becoming less responsive to antibiotics. When possible, it’s much healthier in the long run to treat your child’s symptoms with simpler therapies. Ask your physican ways you can make your little one more comfortable until the symptoms pass. 

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Maureen Salamon, http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/antibiotics-news-30/antibiotics-prescribed-twice-as-often-as-needed-in-children-study-says-691686.html

Your Child

Vaccine Proves Effective Against “Superbugs”

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A new study takes a deeper look at the benefits of the pneumococcal vaccine for children. The vaccine helps children avoid the suffering and danger of ear infections, meningitis and pneumonia.

The vaccine was first used in children in 2010. In this study, researchers found that not only are vaccinated children experiencing fewer infections, but they may also be protected from antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”

Since the vaccine has been in use, it has been associated with a 62 percent reduction of drug-resistant infections of bacterial pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections for children under 5.

"The vaccine is an important tool against antibiotic resistance," said lead researcher Sara Tomczyk, an epidemic intelligence service officer in the Respiratory Diseases Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Along with appropriate antibiotic use, it is part of the solution to protecting ourselves against the growing threat of antibiotic resistance," she added.

As more and more adults and children overuse antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria become especially worrisome. Traditional drugs used to treat infections begin to have little effect on the bacteria. These “superbugs” can produce uncontrollable infection that can lead to death.

The good news is that the pneumococcal vaccine may have lessened the danger. According to Tomczyk, more than 4,400 cases of antibiotic-resistant, invasive pneumococcal disease were prevented between 2010 and 2013.

"Not only does this vaccine prevent pneumococcal infection, which means fewer antibiotics are prescribed, but it also prevents antibiotic-resistant infections," she added.

Although we’re not at 100 percent compliance, 85 percent of U.S. children are receiving the vaccine. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is given in four doses, at 2, 4 and 6 months of age and at 12 through 15 months.

Tomczyk said the vaccine has been so effective that the U.S. government's Healthy People 2020 goal of reducing bacteria-resistant pneumococcal disease from 9.3 to 6 cases per 100,000 children was achieved nine years early and has since dropped to 3.5 cases per 100,000.

The vaccine is not only recommended for children, but adults as well. One dose is recommended for all adults 65 and older, followed by a dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine six to 12 months later.

There are more than 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine protects against 13 of the most common severe pneumococcal infections among children, while the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria, including those most likely to cause serious disease, which is why both are recommended for older adults.

Dr. Adriana Cadilla, a pediatrician at Miami Children's Hospital, said, "It's wonderful news that we have proof that the vaccine works as well as it does."

It has clearly reduced antibiotic-resistant pneumococcal disease, she added. "It seems to be doing a great job. It is something parents should make sure their children have."

The pneumococcal vaccine is currently recommended for all children age 5 and younger. Pneumococcal bacteria can cause ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis. It is the most common vaccine-preventable bacterial cause of death, the researchers noted.

Source: Steven Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/news/20141010/common-childhood-vaccine-cuts-superbug-infection-study?

Your Child

Caregiving Tasks Are Too Much for Young Children

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It’s not uncommon for children of aging parents to feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caregiving. Studies have shown that the “sandwich generation” – adults trying to raise a family while caring for their parents – is just about stretched to their limits dealing with stress and economic struggles.

While adults may be having a hard time figuring out how to juggle all the demands on their time and resources, a new study looks at the impact on children who have had to take on a similar role as a caregiver.

An astounding 1.3 million American children and teens are caring for family members with physical or mental illness or substance abuse problems, and these children are at risk for poor health and school failure themselves according to the study.

This "hidden population" of young caregivers suffers physical and emotional stress due to their caregiving duties, wrote study author Dr. Julia Belkowitz, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

For this study, Belkowitz and her team studied youth caregivers in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Interestingly, the group of children mirrored the adult population of caregivers, with more females carrying the load than males. The average age was 12 years old, with 63 percent being girls and 37 percent boys.

When surveyed, the children reported that they spent an average of two hours each school day and four hours each weekend day doing caregiver tasks at home. Their family members said the children spent less than that amount of time caregiving. They estimated the children spent 1.5 hours a day on weekdays and 2.75 hours a day on weekends doing caregiver tasks.

The children’s tasks included helping family members with getting around, eating, dressing, bathing, using the toilet, and continence care. The youth caregivers also kept the family members company and offered emotional support, gave medications, translated during medical visits, handled medical equipment at home, cleaned the house and did grocery shopping.

"This study is an important step toward raising awareness about the issue of caregiving youth," Belkowitz said.

She and her colleagues worked on the study with the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY).

"Today in the U.S., there are many more than the 1.3 million children identified in 2005 who face the challenges of juggling adult-sized responsibilities of caring for ill, injured, aging or disabled family members while trying to keep up at school," Connie Siskowski, founder and president of AACY, said in the news release.

For many families, asking young children to help with caregiving may seem like the only option. This is particularly true for single parent families with no relatives nearby or two parent families that each have demanding or time consuming jobs. However, young caregivers pay a high price when asked to take over adult responsibilities. They may take extra time off from school, feel tired or overly stressed and not take the time to be with friends in an environment where they can just be kids or teens.

Parents needing caregiver help should look to other resources for assistance. While a parent might be reluctant to ask for help – fearing that certain services might try to interfere - it might be the only way to make life easier for you and your family.

The website www.aacy.org offers this advice: “If you want advice that is guaranteed to be private, use an anonymous telephone helpline or search for advice on the internet. Remember, most services and organizations that help people will only consider breaking confidentiality if they think it is the only way to keep someone safe. The Data Protection Act says that they must keep your personal information private unless you give them permission to share it or there is a very good reason for sharing it, such as keeping someone safe from harm.

If you have a disability, illness or substance misuse problem, you may be able to get an assessment of your needs from a social worker. An assessment is not a test of whether you are a good parent or not, it is a way of finding out what you and your family need to stay well. During an assessment, a social worker or sometimes a health worker will talk to you in private about your health problem and what help you need.”

This study was presented recently at an American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in San Diego. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/senior-citizen-information-31/caregiving-news-728/young-caregivers-at-risk-for-failing-in-school-study-shows-692430.html

http://www.aacy.org

Your Child

More “Little League Shoulder and Elbow” Injuries Showing Up

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Professional pitchers and catchers aren't the only ones that end up on the sidelines due to injuries during baseball season. Young players across the country are just as susceptible to shoulder and elbow injuries, in fact it’s known as Little League Shoulder.

Little League shoulder happens when an athlete throws too often or repeatedly throws the wrong way and hurts his shoulder. In younger athletes, growth plates—soft places toward the end of the bone that cause it to grow—are prone to injury, and can get irritated with too much use. Usually, the arm may be tender and sore, and it will hurt to throw. 

A new study out of Boston, Massachusetts, says Little League Shoulder is on the rise. 

"It's certainly being seen with more frequency," said study author Dr. Benton Heyworth, an instructor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, and a practitioner in the division of sports medicine at Boston Children's Hospital. "And that's likely due to trends in youth sports in general.

"In the case of baseball, that means more year-round pitching without the appropriate period of rest between, and more pitching at higher velocities. Which means that although 'USA Baseball' and 'Little League Baseball' outline clear pitch-count limits, what we're seeing are very straightforward overuse injuries that come from kids simply pitching too much," Heyworth added.

Little League Shoulder is usually found in young baseball players, but can show up in other sports such as gymnastics and tennis.

To gain more insight into Little League shoulder, the investigators analyzed the experience of 95 patients with the condition aged 8 to 17 (the average age was 13).

All were treated at a single pediatric care facility between 1999 and 2013, and nearly all (97 percent) were baseball players. Of those, 86 percent were pitchers, 8 percent were catchers, and 7 percent played other positions.

Three percent of the group were tennis players. Just two out of the 95 were female, according to the study.

In addition to the main issue of shoulder pain, 13 percent of the patients also complained of elbow pain, while 10 percent said they suffered from shoulder weakness and/or fatigue. Nearly as many (8 percent) said they experienced mechanical difficulties with shoulder movement.

Children that developed reduced range of motion issues had a three-times greater risk of re-injury within six to 12 months following their return to sports, the findings showed.

The best treatment for Little League Shoulder is rest – the hardest thing for an athlete to do. Physical therapy is also recommended before a young athlete gets back to his or her sport. Also, when it comes to baseball, many physical therapists suggest the player play different positions to help continue the healing process.

Coaches and parents can help kids recognize they may have an injury by checking to see if players are exhibiting abnormal movements while fielding, throwing or batting. Athletes are more likely to try and play through a flare-up, especially when they feel better after a little rest. But, repeated injury can cause a more serious condition to develop leading to a season ending diagnosis or worse.

The Little League Organization has specific protocols that are supposed to be followed by all leagues and coaches.

Regular season rules state that “the manager must remove the pitcher when said pitcher reaches the limit for his/her age group as noted below, but the pitcher may remain in the game at another position.”

League Age and pitches rules are:

  • 1 7-18 years-old - 105 pitches per day
  • 13 -16 years-old - 95 pitches per day
  • 11 -12 years-old - 85 pitches per day
  • 9-10 years-old - 75 pitches per day
  • 7-8 years-old - 50 pitches per day

Playing baseball is about as American as (insert your favorite pie here) and as a team sport it’s one of the best. Just keep an eye on your star athlete to make sure he or she doesn’t overdue it. Little League shoulder and elbow pain can take the fun out of  “Let’s Play Ball!”

The study’s findings were recently presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's annual meeting in Seattle.

Sources: Alan Moses, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/kids-ailments-health-news-434/new-study-gains-insight-on-little-league-shoulder-689833.html

http://www.childrenshospital.org/health-topics/conditions/little-league-shoulder

Your Child

The Virus That Is Making Lots of Kids Sick

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You may have heard about a fast-spreading virus that is sending children to emergency rooms around the country. It’s called enterovirus D68 or EV-D68 and was first discovered in 1962 in California.

Until now, the virus has been typically contained to small clusters around the U.S. But that is changing rapidly. Currently, most of the cases have been diagnosed in the Midwest and parts of the South. Because the virus is spreading quickly from area to area, it has gained the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This is the first time it’s caused such widespread misery, and it seems to be particularly hard on the lungs.

What are the symptoms of EV-D68? Most viral infections start out with a fever, cough and runny nose, but D68 doesn’t seem to follow that classic pattern, says Mary Anne Jackson, MD She's the division director of infectious disease at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO, the hospital where the first cases were identified.

“Only 25% to 30% of our kids have fever, so the vast majority don’t,” Jackson says. Instead, kids with D68 infections have cough and trouble breathing, sometimes with wheezing.

They act like they have asthma, even if they don’t have a history of it, she says. “They’re just not moving air.”

Who is at the greatest risk? Recent cases have been in children ages 6 months to 16 years, with most hovering around ages 4 and 5, the CDC says.

Usually the enterovirus strikes between July through October, so we are still in the virus season.

Many kids will experience milder symptoms, but children with a history of breathing problems can be hit particularly hard.

Two-thirds of those hospitalized at Children’s Mercy had a history of asthma or wheezing, Jackson says.

“We made sure that primary care providers are in touch with their patients with asthma, so those have an active asthma plan and know what to do if they get into trouble,” she says.

What treatments are available for EV-D68? Antibiotics don’t work because it is a virus and not bacteria. There is no vaccine available at this time or antiviral medication for treatment. It is treated with supportive care.

“The main thing is giving supplemental oxygen to the children who need it,” says Andi Shane, MD. medical director of hospital epidemiology and associate director of pediatric infectious disease at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. 

Children may also get medications, such as albuterol, which help relax and open the air passages of the lungs.

Those with the most critical cases have needed ventilators to help them breathe.

Most children who get EV-D68 will have a milder course of disease that tender loving care; rest and plenty of fluids will work as treatment.

However, it’s time to head to the doctor’s office or emergency room “if there’s any rapid breathing, and that means breathing more than once per second consistently over the span of an hour. Or if there’s any labored breathing,” says Roya Samuels, MD. She's a pediatrician at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Labored breathing, says Samuels, means kids are using smaller muscles around the chest wall to help move air in and out of their lungs.

“If you see the skin pulling in between the ribs or above the collarbone, or if there’s any wheezing, those are clear signs that a child needs to be evaluated,” she says.

You catch it basically like to catch any other virus. The enterovirus is pretty hardy and can live on surfaces for hours and as long as a day, depending on temperature and humidity.

The virus can be found in saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum, according to the CDC.

Touching a contaminated surface and then rubbing your nose or eyes is the usual way someone catches it. You can also get it from close person-to-person contact.

Protect yourself with good hand-washing habits. Tell kids to cover their mouth with a tissue when they cough. If no tissue is handy, teach them to cough into the crook of their elbow or upper sleeve instead of their hand.

The good news is that common disinfectants and detergents will kill enteroviruses. Cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched by everyone in the household is important to help keep the virus from spreading. For children, be sure to include toys, cups and doorknobs. While sick children are gaining most of the media attention, adults can also catch EV-D68. 

The virus may be spreading farther than currently known because it is not always tested for when a child enters the hospital or clinic for help.

Again, many children will only experience milder symptoms and will not need to be hospitalized, but if your child exhibits symptoms that include trouble breathing; take them to a doctor immediately.

Source: Brenda Goodman, MA and Hansa D. Bhargava, MD, http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20140909/enterovirus-d68-parents

Your Child

Are You Making Your Child More Anxious?

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When a child shows that he or she is anxious or in distress, a natural response is for a parent to want to remove whatever is causing the discomfort. However, according to a new study, it may not be the best reaction for your child in the long run.

Researchers call it the “protection trap.” Basically it means smothering children with too much attention or making the menace go away.

The research showed that certain parental coddling behaviors might actually boost anxiety in a child, although the study doesn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

"We found evidence that when parents try to help their anxious children they do a lot of things," said study co-author Armando Pina, an associate professor of child developmental psychology at Arizona State University. "Some of them are good, like promoting courage with warmth and kindness. Others are less helpful, like promoting avoidance by overprotecting, which many times leads to more anxiety."

Other experts have also weighed in on this topic.

"Left untreated, anxiety disorders in youth are associated with greater risk for other psychological problems such as depression and substance use problems," said Donna Pincus, director of research at the Child and Adolescent Fear and Anxiety Treatment Program at Boston University. Anxiety problems can also disrupt families and cause kids to perform worse in school, she added.

So what should a parent do or not do?

"When children are in distress or upset they need parental comfort, reassurance and extra love. This is good," said study lead author Lindsay Holly, a graduate student at Arizona State University. "Sometimes, however, parents end up providing excessive reassurance and doing things for the child, like making excuses for why a child who is anxious in social situations won't go to a birthday party or talking for the child by ordering at restaurants."

Here’s how the study was conducted.

Researchers examined the results of a survey of 70 kids aged 6 to 16 who were treated for anxiety and/or depression at a clinic. The kids were equally divided among boys and girls and among whites and Hispanic/Latinos.

The investigators found that some kids were more likely to have anxiety and depression symptoms if their parents reinforced or punished their anxiety through various approaches. Among the two ethnic groups, "the only difference was that Latino parents seemed to attend more frequently to their children's anxiety," Holly said.

Pina noted that previous research has indicated that a certain kind of therapy can help kids become less anxious and more resilient by teaching the importance of facing fears. One of the goals of the therapy is to teach parents how to promote courage in the kids through a combination of warmth and kindness, Pina said.

Some experts believe that by exposing children to anxious situations in a controlled, supportive environment, they can learn how to handle their anxiety better.

Holly suggests that parents encourage their children "to do brave things that are small and manageable." A child who's afraid of speaking in public, for instance, might be urged to answer a question about whether they want fries with their meal at a restaurant.

While every child is going to be anxious at one time or another, a more difficult situation is when children suffer from an anxiety disorder. That is a more serious problem where someone experiences fear, nervousness, and shyness so much so that they start to avoid places and activities.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. Anxiety disorder often shows up alongside other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and ADHD.

The good news is that with treatment and support, a child can learn how to successfully manage the symptoms and live a normal childhood.

The study conducted at Arizona State University, looked at typical child anxieties and how parent’s interactions either helped or prolonged the anxiousness.

The study was published recently in the journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development.

Sources: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/overprotective-parenting-could-worsen-kids-anxiety/

http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/childhood-anxiety-disorders

Your Child

Bullying Tied to Suicide Thoughts and Attempts

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The emotional pain of being bullied can lead some kids to think about killing themselves and others to follow through with actually attempting suicide. Sadly, far too many young kids and adolescents have succeeded in ending their lives because of the hurtful actions, mean words and cyber aggression of others.

Some people may assume that bullying is just a part of growing up and relatively harmless, but a new analysis of previously published studies on bullying, found that school children who are bullied are more than twice as likely to think about killing themselves and to attempt suicide as children who are not bullied.

Researchers also found that cyber-bullying, such as harassment over the Internet, was more closely linked to suicidal thoughts than in-person bullying.

"We found that suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides are significantly related to bullying, a highly prevalent behavior among adolescents," Mitch van Geel told Reuters Health in an email.

Van Geel is the study's lead author from the Institute of Education and Child Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

He said it's estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of children and teens are involved in bullying as the perpetrator, victim or both.

Studies have discovered links between bullying and suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, but there are still a lot of questions left that need answering.

Cyber-bullying is a relatively new phenomenon, in research and analysis time, so fewer studies have been completed. 

For this latest analysis, published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found 34 studies that examined bullying and suicidal thoughts among 284,375 participants between nine and 21 years old.

They also found nine studies that examined the relationship between bullying and suicide attempts among 70,102 participants of the same age.

Overall, participants who were bullied were more than twice as likely to think about killing themselves. They were also about two and a half times more likely to attempt killing themselves.

In one study included in the analysis, researchers found that about 3 percent of students from New York State who were not bullied thought about or attempted suicide. That compared to 11 percent of students who were frequently bullied.

The extra risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts tied to bullying was similar among participants of different age groups and among boys and girls.

In the handful of studies on cyber-bullying, researchers found that those victims were more likely to have suicidal thoughts than kids who experienced traditional face-to-face bullying.

"At this point, this is speculative and more research is definitely needed on cyber-bullying," van Geel wrote.

It could be, however, that cyber-bullying victims feel belittled in front of a wider audience and may relive the attacks because they are stored on the Internet, he added.

Some experts have cautioned that the studies included in the analysis don’t prove a causal connection between being bullied and suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts among the participants. As one noted researcher explained, it could be, for example, that kids who attempt or think about suicide are more likely to be bullied.

Many schools have implemented no-bullying policies and programs to help children who are targets of bullying have a voice and a safe place to talk and receive counseling.

Those steps have helped bring attention to the problem of bullying in some schools. However, it may take a change in adolescent attitude and societal pressure to make bullying lose its power.

"There are now meta-analyses that demonstrate that bullying is related to depression, psychosomatic problems and even suicide attempts, and thus we should conclude that bullying is definitely not harmless," said van Geel.  

Source: Andrew M. Seaman,  http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/10/us-bullying-among-kids-idUSBREA291JS20140310

Your Child

Sports Video Games May Help Kids Lose Weight

1.45 to read

Video games are often blamed for an increase in childhood obesity, but a new study suggests that certain types of games may actually assist kids in losing weight. Sports video games that require kids to actively participate may actually offer obese or overweight kids a new tool to help drop those extra pounds. 

The 16 - week study, sponsored by United Health Group, showed that overweight kids who expended energy by playing bowling, soccer or track and field video games, compared to those that simply followed a weight loss program, lost more than two and half times their Body Mass Index (BMI). That’s a pretty remarkable loss.

The study was based on a trial weight loss program that the United Health Group launched in 2011. The program is called Join for Me.

Join for Me borrows from the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program, conducted by the National Institutes of Health. It demonstrated that healthy eating and regular exercise along with counseling were more effective than medication at preventing diabetes. The success of that study led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch a similar 16-week program for adults in partnership with the YMCA and UnitedHealth. “Why not use the same winning formula?” says Deneen Vojta, a pediatrician in charge of clinical affairs at UnitedHealth, and a principal investigator on the JOIN for ME study.

Voita and other researchers decided to add sports video games to the weight loss program, hoping it would prod kids, ages 8 to 12, to increase their activity. Of the 75 kids in the program, 34 were given Microsoft’s Xbox 360 consoles and received two games, Kinnect Adventures and Kinnect Sorts.

Notably, children did not receive instructions on how long to use the games. Although Vojta doesn’t know whether the kids exercised the whole time in front of a screen, that group registered an additional 7.4 minutes a day in moderate to vigorous activity, which could translate into a yearly loss of four pounds of fat.

Although the results were impressive, two drawbacks remain; the games and console are expensive and kids often get bored with and tend to stop playing them after awhile.

Vojta is considering offering JOIN for ME online, which could lower costs, and make it more widely available. “No one believes that gaming 
is going to solve obesity,” she says.  “It’s a signal for the health care and gaming industries that although passive screen time contributed to obesity, it could contribute to a solution.”

These kinds of sports games are not a quick fix for kids who typically do not get much exercise, eat a diet high in calories and fat and are overweight or obese. However, entertaining video games that require active physical participation might be a good additional tool to help overweight children slim down. 

Source: Zina Moukheiber, http://www.forbes.com/sites/zinamoukheiber/2014/03/03/unitedhealth-study-shows-sports-video-games-help-children-lose-weight/

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Why your kids need to drink milk.