Your Child

Young Baseball Pitchers Playing With Pain

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It’s that glorious time of year when pitchers pitch; batters swing and outfielders reach out to catch a fast and furious white leather-bound ball. Yep, it’s baseball season!

While the pros start their 162 game regular season, school teams and Little Leagues are suiting up and hitting the fields as well.

Although typically in good physical shape, professional players are not immune to injuries – just ask the Texas Rangers.

Kids on the other hand, play long and sometimes double games at tournaments on the weekends. Many of these kids are weekend warriors that love the game, but aren’t always in the best physical condition.

According to a pair of recent studies, young baseball pitchers are playing with arm and shoulder pain because they feel pressured by their parents or coaches. Playing through the pain may lead to injuries that won’t heal.

"Kids are playing harder and longer in more leagues than ever before," said Dr. Paul Saluan, director of pediatric and adolescent sports medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "Kids also are not getting enough rest in between episodes of pitching, which may lead to insufficient time to heal smaller stress injuries. Over time, these smaller injuries add up."

Kids explained why they kept playing even though they were in pain.  "Players who experience pain often felt their parents and coaches were frustrated with them," said Dr. Christopher Ahmad, professor of orthopedic surgery at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

"Throwing with pain is a signal that injury is occurring," added Ahmad, who is the New York Yankees' head team physician.

In Ahmad's study, he and his colleagues surveyed 203 healthy players, aged 8 to 18. Just under one-quarter of them had experienced a prior overuse injury, they found.

Almost half of the players -- 46 percent -- said they had been encouraged to continue playing with arm pain, and 30 percent said their arm pain sometimes made playing less fun.

Those most likely to report being encouraged to play despite pain had a previous overuse injury. They were also more likely to report feeling arm pain while throwing and to experience arm fatigue during games or practice.

The second study looked at whether parents were monitoring their child’s pitch count during a game. Sixty parents of baseball pitchers were surveyed and just over half of the parents were not aware of safe pitching guidelines and did not actively monitor their child's pitch count.

The most important aspects of safe pitching guidelines are a maximum number of recommended throws based on a child's age and the number of days of rest needed between throwing stints, said Saluan.

"The focus has been on creating a better athlete who can throw harder, faster and more accurately than ever before," Saluan said. "Injury prevention has taken a back seat."

One in five parents did not know how many pitches their child threw in a typical game, but 64 percent recalled that their child had experienced pain in the upper extremities because of pitching, the survey found. For one-third of the pitchers, the pain required a medical evaluation.

"Kids who continue to pitch through pain end up with significant injuries that may have lifelong consequences," Saluan said. "Younger pitchers who are still growing are much more vulnerable than adults to sustain an injury to the growth plates around the shoulder and elbow.”

Injuries to the growth plates usually heal with rest, Ahmad said. But he noted that more young pitchers are also damaging their ulnar collateral ligament, an important ligament in the elbow.

"Unfortunately, these injuries do not always heal and often require surgery," he said.

Most of the injuries are caused when kids are playing too many games, specializing in one aspect of the game, using poor pitching mechanics and throwing too hard.

In the pitching study, half the young pitchers threw in at least two leagues at a time, one-quarter pitched more than nine months of the year, and just over half participated in extra showcase situations.

"We have fallen into the trap of 'too much too soon,'" said Saluan. "This has resulted in a rise in injury rates in kids whose bodies are not prepared to handle the stresses that are encountered."

If you’re unsure of how to monitor your child’s pitching, the Major League Baseball website has a “Pitch Smart” guidelines page for young and adolescent pitchers listed at the end of this article.

The studies were presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' annual meeting in Las Vegas. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Sources: Tara Haelle, http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/baseball-or-softball-health-news-240/young-pitchers-often-pressured-to-play-despite-pain-study-says-697197.html

http://m.mlb.com/pitchsmart/pitching-guidelines

Your Child

Are Overindulgent Parents Raising Narcissistic Kids?

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The authors of a new study say their research demonstrates that narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others. In contrast, high self-esteem in children is cultivated by parental warmth: parents expressing affection and appreciation toward their child.

"It comes pretty naturally," said senior study author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University. "Most parents think their children are special, and deserve better treatment. But when our children receive special treatment, they become narcissistic and come to believe they deserve more and are superior to others."

On the opposite end of the scale, researchers found that children raised in an atmosphere of simple parental warmth were more likely to have an appropriate level of self-esteem, but not narcissism.

"It's good to be a warm parent and a loving parent, but it's not OK to treat your children as if they are better than others," Bushman concluded. "Everyone we meet is better than us at something, and the fact that we're all human beings makes us equally valuable."

In the study, researchers evaluated 565 children aged 7 to 11 from middle-class neighborhoods in the Netherlands, along with their parents.

Parents and children answered a series of questions designed to assess a child's narcissism and self-esteem, as well as a parent's warmth and overvaluation of their child. Researchers administered the questionnaires four times over a period of 18 months.

The research team found that parents who overvalued their children -- reflected in statements such as "my child is more special than other children" -- did end up with children who were overly convinced of their own importance.

"I honestly believe one of the most dangerous beliefs that a person can have is that they are [more] superior than others," Bushman said. "When people think they are superior to others, they behave very badly. It's much better to treat everybody like we are all part of the human family, and are all worthy of respect."

The study did not prove that parents who idolize their children cause their child to be narcissistic; it only showed a link between the two.

Bushman believes that children should earn their rewards and not simply be given them.

"In America, we have it all backward. We assume if we boost our child's self-esteem, they'll behave well. We assume self-esteem is the panacea for every ill," he said. "Rather than boost self-esteem and hope our kids act well, we should wait for good behavior and then give them a pat on the back for that."

James Garbarino, senior faculty fellow at the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago, warned that parents who treat their children as though they walk on water are setting them up to sink like stones later in life.

"It's a good investment to temper narcissism, because otherwise you are setting your kids up for a big fall later in life," Garbarino said. "Eventually, life shows you that you're not that special. You've heard the saying, 'Time heals all wounds?' In this case, 'Time wounds all heels.' "

What is narcissism? Narcissism is an obsession with one’s self and an exaggerated sense of entitlement. A narcissistic personality seeks attention constantly and considers themselves better than others. When they feel humiliated, they can lash out aggressively or even violently. They set unrealistic goals and often take advantage of others to achieve those goals.

An appropriate amount of self-esteem comes and goes in cycles. It’s a child’s sense of worth and belonging. Family, friends, failure, skills and accomplishments play a large role in the building and re-building of self-esteem. A child is better able to achieve a healthy dose of self-esteem when parents offer realistic support and respect in their child’s struggles. Self-esteem can also come from helping others.

As parents, most of us believe that our children are indeed special – that’s a normal parental outlook. This study however, looks at the type of parent that believes his or her child is not only special (in their eyes) but should also be seated far above all others. The kind of parenting that teaches a child that everything they desire should be given to them even at the risk of hurting others. 

The study was published in the March online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 Sources: Dennis Thompson, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20150309/overindulgent-parents-may-breed-narcissistic-children

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/narcissistic-personality-disorder

Your Child

Can DHA Improve Your Child’s Reading Skills?

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Children whose reading test scores place them in the bottom 20% of their elementary class may benefit from supplements of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, according to a new controlled trial. 

Researchers at Oxford University’s Center for Evidence-Based Intervention studied 362 (7- to 9-year-old) children who had placed in the bottom third of their class in reading scores. For 16 weeks, the children were given either a placebo or 600 mg of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The DHA was extracted from algae, which are the original source of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.

Researched then tracked any changes in improvements based on a popular British reading skills test and followed up by asking parents and teachers to rate changes in the children’s behavior, including attention and restlessness. 

Over the 16-week trial, the children receiving placebos progressed in their reading skills as expected. But those students who received DHA and had scored in the bottom 20% of readers at the start of the study advanced by nearly an extra month, while those in the bottom 10% gained nearly two extra months of progress. Students whose reading skills were less impaired — those whose scores had placed them at the highest end of the bottom third — did not see extra improvements with DHA.

Parents of the kids who received DHA also rated their children as more attentive and less restless, as compared with those who got placebo. However, teachers did not report improvement in the children’s behavior.

Other studies have shown that kids with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), who were given omega-3 supplements, showed improved behavior. Lead author of the current trial, Alexandra Richardson, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Center notes: “What’s new here is that we’re showing a benefit outside of a clinical population in healthy children, albeit with reading difficulties, and we showed a meaningful improvement.”

DHA is an essential nutrient, which cannot be manufactured by the body, and is used by virtually all cells. It is especially important for vision and brain function, particularly during early development. “DHA is critical for vision and it’s possible that improvements in visual perception might allow children to read better, but it all remains speculative,” says Richardson.

“We focused specifically on reading here,” notes Paul Montgomery, a co-author of the paper and professor of psychosocial interventions at Oxford, explaining that the effects of poor reading in school-age children can be lifelong, contributing to everything from unemployment to the risk of criminal activity down the line. “If reading is not mastered at that stage, how that rattles through and affects children’s life chances later on is profound.”

Not everyone agrees that the statistical analysis used in the study was sufficient. Charles Hulme, professor of psychology at University College London, who was not associated with the new research, expressed some concerns. He called the overall design “good,” but he thinks that the way the data analysis was done may have overstated the effects of DHA. “For children like this, with relatively severe reading problems, [the change seen] is of little, if any, educational significance,” he says, adding, “I think this trial is too brief — only 16 weeks — to have a realistic chance of finding effects on reading, even if they exist.”

Richardson agrees that follow-up research is needed. “We’re the first to say this needs replication,” she says, noting that her group is already working on a larger study that targets only the children with the very lowest reading scores. “We’d like to think it should be taken up by others as well.”

Experts say the best way to make sure that your child is getting enough omega-3s is to improve their diet. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, halibut and tuna  are good sources of DHA and EPA. Fish tacos are an excellent way to add omega-3s to the household menu as well as tuna sandwiches. Many other foods are now fortified with DHA such as yogurt, milk, soymilk, granola bars, bread, pasta, margarine, orange juice, cereal, peanut butter and even eggs. Nuts are also an excellent source.

Whether DHA can help improve your child’s reading skills is not known for sure. But the health benefits of adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet are well researched. 

Supplements are also a good choice for children who have certain food allergies. While there is little danger from getting too many omega-3s in a typical diet, they do have anti-clotting actions and could be dangerous for people with blood clotting disorders or those taking anti-clotting medication.

Talk with your pediatrician or family doctor if you have any concerns about adding DHA to your child’s diet.

The Oxford research was published in the journal PLOS One. It was funded by DSM Nutritional Products, which made the supplement used in the study but was not involved in the data analysis.

Source: http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/07/omega-3s-as-study-aid-dha-may-help-lowest-scoring-readers-improve/#ixzz26ee6yHB3

Your Child

Kids Not Sleeping Well? Could Be the Electronics in the Bedroom!

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If you’re concerned that your child is not getting enough sleep, here’s one way to help him or her rest better and longer. Remove the television and other small electronics from your child’s bedroom.

According to a new study, children who sleep with televisions or other small-screened devices – such as smartphones and tablets – in their bedrooms, spend less time sleeping than children without those devices in their rooms.

“While more studies are needed to confirm our results, we know that too much screen time is bad for children’s health in multiple ways,” said Jennifer Falbe, the study’s lead author from the University of California, Berkley.

Other studies have linked having a televisions in a child’s bedroom to poorer sleep, but there hasn’t been much research into the impact of smaller electronic devices in children’s bedrooms and sleep.

For the new study, Falbe and colleagues used data from 2,048 fourth- and seventh-graders enrolled in an obesity study in Massachusetts. Researchers found that kids with TVs in their rooms slept about 18 minutes less than kids without TVs in their rooms.  When they looked at the effect of sleeping next to small screens, the time spent not sleeping increased to 21 minutes. Less sleep is often tied to other issues including obesity and academic performance.

The children that slept next to small screens also reported feeling as if they didn’t get enough sleep during the night.

Not surprisingly, researchers noted that watching TV and playing video games before bedtime, including those on a computer, was also linked to less sleep.

There are a number of reasons why televisions and small-screened electronics may result in worse sleep, such as the bright light of screens before bed, sounds and alerts and more sedentary activity to name a few

“Parents can keep screen media out of the child’s bedroom, limit total screen time and set a screen time curfew,” Falbe said.

A recent study revealed that reading e-readers, instead of paper books, before bed can actually make you more alert than sleepy. The electronic light appears to shift the body’s circadian rhythms delaying the production of the hormone melatonin.

So it’s no surprise that television, computer, tablet or smartphone light could do the same thing. Watching TV or participating on smaller screen activity also stimulates the brain instead of sending the signal to relax and fall to sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under two avoid screens altogether and that parents establish a “screen-free” zone in the home. Results from this study strongly suggest that one of the screen-free zones be in your child’s bedroom.

Source: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/05/us-electronics-pediatrics-sleep-idUSKBN0KE1SI20150105

Your Child

Unnecessary X-Rays for Kids

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Too many children are receiving unnecessary x-rays for symptoms such as vomiting, feeling ill and fainting says a new study from the Mayo Clinic.

"Chest X-rays can be a valuable exam when ordered for the correct indications. However, there are several indications where pediatric chest X-rays offer no benefit and likely should not be performed to decrease radiation dose and cost," said study author Dr. Ann Packard, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Researchers looked at the reasoning behind 637 chest x-rays given to children from newborns to 17 years- old between 2008 and 2014. They found that 88 percent of the x-rays given to children did not have an impact on treatment they receive.

What kinds of symptoms were children displaying when they were given an x-ray?  Kids and infants had chest pain, fainting, dizziness, cyclical vomiting, and a general feeling of being unwell or under distress (spells). Another problem stated was a condition called "postural orthostatic hypotension," in which blood pressure drops suddenly when a person stands up after sitting or lying down.

X-rays are often given when a physician suspects someone may have pneumonia or a bronchial infection.

Thirty-nine of the x-rays for chest pain were positive for pneumonia, bronchial inflammation, trauma or other conditions, according to the findings scheduled for presentation in Chicago Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. But chest X-rays had no effect on treatment for any of the children with fainting, postural orthostatic hypotension, dizziness, spells or cyclical vomiting.

Radiation in children is a concern. Many pediatricians and experts recommend limiting the exposure to radiation in children when possible. These procedures can also be expensive for families.

"This study addresses both of these issues, which is important not only for physicians but also for young patients and their parents," Packard noted in a society news release.

"I would like this research to help guide clinicians and deter them from ordering unnecessary exams which offer no clinical benefit to the patient," she added.

Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

If a doctor recommends x-rays for your child, be sure and ask specifically why they believe the x-ray is needed and what impact they believe it will have on your child’s treatment.

Possible broken bones need x-rays, trouble breathing could need an x-ray to look for infection or pneumonia. Your doctor may have a perfectly sound reason for ordering an x-ray, but you may want to know ahead of time exactly what it will tell your physician before agreeing.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20141203/many-kids-exposed-to-unneeded-x-rays-study-finds

Your Child

Could More Dietary Fiber Reduce Food Allergies?

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In the never–ending search for an answer as to why more Americans – from children to adults- are experiencing food allergies, several new studies suggest that the culprit could be too little fiber in our diets.  

According to the non-profit organization, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), 15 million Americans have food allergies. That’s a 50 percent increase from 1997 to 2011. About 90 percent of people with food allergies are allergic to one of eight types of foods; peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, eggs, milk, shellfish and fish. 

So, what is going on that so many people are suffering from food allergies, particularly children? That’s what researchers around the world are trying to find out.  Many studies are beginning to suggest that it’s not just one thing but a combination of factors.

A lack of dietary fiber in the diet may be one of those factors. The notion is based on the idea that bacteria in the gut have the enzymes needed to digest dietary fiber, and when these bacteria break down fiber, they produce substances that help to prevent an allergic response to foods, said Charles Mackay, an immunologist at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

So far, the research related to this idea has been done mainly in mice, and dietary factors are unlikely to be the sole explanation for why allergy rates have skyrocketed, researchers say. But if the results were to be replicated in human studies, they would suggest that promoting the growth of good gut bacteria could be one way to protect against, and possibly even reverse, certain allergies, researchers say.

The modern western diet, high in fat, sugar and refined carbs seems to produce a different kind of bacteria in the gut that may be liked to food allergies.  Fiber such as beans, whole grains, nuts, berries, vegetables and brown rice promote the growth of a class of bacteria called Clostridia, which break down fiber and are some of the biggest producers of byproducts called short-chain fatty acids.

In a 2011 study in the journal Nature, researchers found that these short-chain fatty acids normally prevent gut cells from becoming too permeable, and letting food particles, bacteria or other problematic compounds move into the blood.

An overabundance of antibiotic use may also be contributing to food allergies. Not only are people being over-prescribed, we may also be getting extra doses in some of our foods.

Antibiotics, which are widely used in agriculture and for treating ear infections in babies and toddlers, kill the bacteria in the gut. So the combination of antibiotics and low-fiber diets may be a "double whammy," that predisposes people to allergic responses, notes said Cathryn Nagler, a food allergy researcher at the University of Chicago.

The new findings also suggest a way to prevent, or possibly even reverse some allergies. For instance, allergy treatments could use probiotics that recolonize the gut with healthy forms of Clostridia, Nagler said.

In fact, in a small study published in January in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, showed that children with peanut allergies who received probiotics were able to eat the nut without having an allergic reaction, and their tolerance to peanuts persisted even after the treatment.

Many factors may contribute to the rise in food allergies, said Dr. Robert Wood, director of pediatric allergy and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore. Epidemiological studies have found that having pets, going to day care, having a sibling, being born vaginally and even washing dishes by hand can affect the risk of allergies.

As more and more research is being conducted on food allergies, a bigger picture is starting to emerge about possible causes. Pediatricians and family physicians are keeping a close eye on the new findings to better help their patients. Some of those findings are changing the way physicians are treating food allergies.

For years, doctors told parents of children at a high risk of developing allergies to wait until the children were 3 years old before giving them peanuts or other allergy-inducing foods, Wood said.

"We really thought we knew what we were doing, and it turns out it was 100 percent wrong," Wood said.

If your child suffers from food allergies, you might want to talk to your pediatrician or family doctor about adding more dietary fiber or probiotics to your child’s diet. However, it’s not recommended that you “experiment” on your own because some children’s health problems can be made worse from probiotic use or too much fiber. Be sure and check with your doctor first.

Sources: Tia Ghose, http://www.livescience.com/50046-fiber-reduce-allergies.html

http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats

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

Back to School Immunizations

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Parents and kids are officially in the back-to-school mode as they make the rounds searching for new clothes, shoes and supplies. One requirement that often gets pushed to the back of the list is immunizations. They’re not near as exciting as shopping for new dresses, tops and pants but much more important.

All states require that children be vaccinated against certain contagious diseases before they enroll in school, although there are exemptions for medical reasons. Some states also have exemptions in place for religious or philosophical reasons.

The point of vaccinations is to protect children, teachers and the general public from preventable contagious diseases. Schools provide the perfect environment – whether it’s kindergarten or college- for the spread of illnesses. Once a disease or virus, such as measles or the flu, gets hold of the school population it can rapidly spread throughout a family and community.

Immunizations help keep the most vulnerable members of the population from becoming infected.

All 50 states have school immunization laws, although the types of vaccinations may differ from state to state. Every state has a website and/or contact number where parents can obtain the immunization list.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (TSHS) has a list of the minimum 2014-2015 vaccine requirements and doses for students grades K-12 on its website at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize.

The minimum requirements are: 

  • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal
  • Hepatitis A

You will also find a list of vaccine requirements for child-care facilities.

Texas colleges require that students show proof that they have received an initial meningococcal vaccination or a booster dose during the five-year period prior to enrolling. There are also exemptions to those rules listed on the website http://collegevaccinerequirements.com/requirements.php.

As most of us know, vaccines aren’t always 100 percent effective in disease prevention, but they help can make the symptoms less severe. Vaccines have reduced the number of infections from vaccine-preventable disease overall, by more than 90 percent.

Many parents worry about the safety and possible side effects of vaccinating their child. The American Academy of Pediatrics addresses many of these questions on its website http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/safety.html. Ingredients, Autism and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) are some of the topics covered for parents who may have concerns about these issues.

Doors open for the new school year in less than a month and parents who wait till the last minute to take their children to get immunized will most certainly face long lines and wait times. You’ll be doing yourself and your child a favor by beating the rush and making your appointment now.

Sources: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize

http://collegevaccinerequirements.com/requirements.php

http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/safety.html

Your Child

When Are Kids Ready to Stay Home Alone?

2.00 to read

There will come a time when your child is going to want to stay home alone whether it’s after school (or during school breaks), on the weekend or when mom and dad need to run errands or go on a much deserved date night.

How do you know when your child is ready to stay home alone? A lot depends on your child and their ability to take home-alone responsibility seriously.

Child experts generally agree that children should be at least eleven or twelve years old before parents consider leaving them without supervision, but there are other factors to consider as well. Is the neighborhood mostly a safe one? Are there neighbors that are around that can lend a hand during an emergency? Does your child know what to do if a stranger comes to the door or calls? Is your child generally responsible with such tasks as homework, chores, and day-to-day decisions?

Kids who are allowed to stay by them selves should be able to handle the following routine tasks:

  • Knows how to properly answer the telephone. Kids should never disclose to an unfamiliar voice that they are alone. An appropriate response would be: “My mom’s not able to come to the phone right now; can I take your number and have her get back to you?”
  • Knows what to do and who to call in the event of a fire, a medical crisis, a suspicious stranger at the door or other emergency. Teach your child the correct way to respond to each of these situations. Make sure emergency phone numbers are placed in easy to find areas such as on the refrigerator and by the phone. If your child uses a cell phone, have emergency numbers ready in “favorites” or together in a group contact page titled emergency. Go over all exits (including windows- make sure they can be opened quickly) in the house and be sure they know at least two escape routes from the home.
  • Knows where to find the first-aid supplies and how to handle basic
first aid (or whom to call) for cuts, scrapes, nosebleeds, minor burns and so on.
  • Knows where the breaker box is in the house and how to switch on and off an electrical circuit breaker or replace a fuse.
  • Knows where to find the shutoff valves on all toilets and sinks, as
well as the main water valve, in the event of a leak or overflowing toilet.
  • Knows how to put out a cooking fire. Keep baking soda, flour or a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Kids should be taught to never to throw water on a grease fire.
  • Knows how to contact you in an emergency.
  • Knows the names of his or her pediatrician or family doctor and the preferred family hospital.

Some of these ideas may seem like overkill for kids who may be staying by them selves for only a couple of hours, but knowing any of the undertakings listed above is helpful even when the whole family is home.

Before your child is allowed to go-it-alone for a bit, make sure they understand the rules and what you expect of them. Create a “contract” so there is no confusion or misunderstandings and have them read it and sign it. Contracts also work well when kids are learning to drive or when they get their first cell phone. It’s simply rules set in writing that outline expectations – as well as consequences when the rules are broken.

A few things to consider covering when setting rules are:

  • Is he/she allowed to have friends over? How many? Same-sex friends only?
  • Under what circumstances is he/she to answer the door? Or are they not to open the door at all?
  • Which activities are off-limits? For example, if your home is wired for cable television, are there channels he/she is prohibited from watching? (Parents who are not home in the afternoon might want to investigate purchasing parental-control tools for TVs and for computers linked to the Internet. Though by no means infallible, the “V-chip” and Web filters do enable you to choose the types of programming that come into your home).
  • Is he/she expected to complete her homework and/or certain chores before you get home? Try your best to contact your child while you are away, even if it’s only a brief conversation to find out how his or her day went. Kids should always be able to reach you or another responsible adult, either by phone, e-mail, text or pager.

As for parents, turn about is fair play. If you’re not going to be home when you say you are, let your child know and give them a time when they can expect you. While they may act all grown up because they have the run of the house, studies have shown that kids who are by them selves, even for short periods of time, can become anxious and overwhelmed especially if anything out of the ordinary happens.

These days there are plenty of temptations from the Internet, television programs, peers and social media that can get even a “good” kid in trouble, but that doesn’t mean they should be kept in a bubble. Children need to experience greater doses of independence as they get older, but they need to know the rules.

Summertime is when a lot of kids are going to experience being unsupervised for one reason or another. If your child is itching to go it alone, consider the above outline and how he or she typically handles responsibilities. You may decide it’s time to give it a try, or you may feel that they’re just not ready yet. Either way, you’ve given it serious consideration and know the time when they will have that opportunity is probably drawing near.

Source: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Is-Your-Child-Ready-To-Stay-Home-Alone.aspx

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