Your Child

A Little Sugar and Higher Fat In School Lunches?

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Should sugar and fat be included in your child’s school lunch meal? In an effort to curb obesity in children, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has frequently urged parents and schools to restrict these 2 ingredients and find healthier substitutes.

In a new policy statement, the AAP is asking parents and schools to take a broader approach to kid’s nutrition. What the AAP would like to see instead of focusing on specific foods is the emphasis placed on the child’s overall diet. 

"A good diet is built on highly nutritious foods from each of the main food groups," said Robert Murray, M.D., FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, "Snacks, Sweetened Beverages, Added Sugars, and Schools," published in the latest journal of Pediatrics. "No ingredient should be banned. A small amount of sugar or fat is ok if it means a child is more likely to eat foods that are highly nutritious."

In the last 20 years, improvements have gradually been implemented in school lunch programs with more lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains replacing high fat meats and nutritionally deprived starches and sweets.

In that effort, national standards now limit the type of foods and drinks that are sold in schools.  As of 2014, 92 percent of school districts reported meeting U.S. Department of Agriculture school meal standards released in 2012.

While some parents and school boards have objected to the required changes, most schools have moved forward using creative culinary skills and producing healthier meals that taste good and in some cases, use locally grown vegetables and fruits.

Parents can always choose to pack a lunch at home for their child to take to school and many do. They know what foods their children are more likely to eat and they make an effort to provide a nutritional alternative to the school lunch. Sometimes however, parents pack high-calorie meals that are way over the daily sodium and fat recommendations for a child.   

The AAP believes there is an opportunity to help all parents or guardians make better choices for their child’s home-made lunches by offering a five-step approach in selecting food for packed lunches and social events:

•       Select a mix of foods from the five food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat dairy, and quality protein sources, including lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds and eggs).

•       Offer a variety of food experiences.

•       Avoid highly processed foods.

•       Use small amounts of sugar, salt, fats and oils with highly nutritious foods to enhance enjoyment and consumption.

•       Offer appropriate portions.

"Children, like adults, often want their own preferred flavors and textures during meals and snacks," Dr. Murray said. "It's no secret that brown sugar on oatmeal, or salad dressing with cut vegetables, can make these healthy foods more palatable to children, and increase their consumption. This is not a license to give kids anything they want; we just need to use sugar, fat and sodium strategically."

The Internet is full of websites that offer great recipes and suggestions for kid's healthy lunches. You can review the sites, check out the ingredients and decide which ones fit your lifestyle and time schedule.

A little added sugar or fat is not a problem as long as the child is getting a well-balanced meal. The key (as with everything) is moderation.

Source: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Recommends-Whole-Diet-Approach-to-Children's-Nutrition.aspx

Your Child

Exaggerated Praise May Backfire!

2.00 to read

In the last couple of decades, self-esteem has been a hot topic when it comes to kids. Entire school programs have been changed in order to boost student’s self-esteem. Trophies are given to children, not for actually excelling in a task, but for simply showing up, so that kid’s self-esteem won’t be damaged by having to endure a loss.  Children are constantly being told “good job” as well as receiving an enormous amount of praise for doing nothing more than being a typical kid.

There’s a lot of debate at the PTA and on the sports field over what “self-esteem” actually means. Self-esteem is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as (1) A confidence and satisfaction in oneself, (2) An exaggerated opinion of one’s own abilities. 

A new study says that parents of children with low self-esteem may want to pull back on the inflated praise because all the ego stroking may be doing more harm than good. Researchers found that children who have low self-esteem may actually achieve less when they receive too much praise.  The team said that children with high self-esteem who are constantly lauded thrive, but those with lower self-esteem tend to run away from new challenges.

“Inflated praise can backfire with those kids who seem to need it the most – kids with low self-esteem,” said Eddie Brummelman, lead author of the study that was published in the journal Psychological Science.

Researchers said that inflated praise was characterized as containing an additional descriptive adjective. An example might be a parent telling their child “You’re incredibly perfect at that task!” Phrases like “You are good at this” were considered simple praise, but parents who said, “You’re incredibly good at this” were placed in the inflated praise category.

The study included 114 parents, 88 percent of whom were mothers. The parents participated in the study with their child, and before the study began the researchers used a test to determine the child’s self-esteem.

Parents administered 12 math exercises to their child for the study, and afterwards they scored how well their child did on the tests. The sessions were videotaped, and the researchers used these recordings to count how many times the parents praised their child.

Researchers found that parents of children in the low self-esteem group gave their children twice as much inflated praise than parents of the high self-esteem children.

The most common embellished praise statements included “You answered very fast!” and “Super good!” and “Fantastic!” The most common non-inflated praise statements were “You’re good at this” and “Well done!”

The team noted that parents praised their child an average of about 6 times during the session, and about 25 percent of that praise was inflated. 

“Parents seemed to think that the children with low self-esteem needed to get extra praise to make them feel better,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State. “It’s understandable why adults would do that, but we found in another experiment that this inflated praise can backfire in these children.”

So far it sounds like parents were just eager to assure their child that they were more than capable of handling the tasks. It’s something that many parents do almost out of habit. So, does all that extra praise really help?

In another experiment, 240 children were asked to draw a famous Vincent van Gogh painting and then received praise in the form of a note from someone identified as a professional painter. After the child received the note they were told to draw copies of other pictures that they could choose from. The children were given the option to either choose from pictures that were easy to do, or they could choose to draw more difficult pictures.

The team found after the second experiment that children with low self-esteem were more likely to choose the easier pictures if they received inflated praise in the note. Children with higher self-esteem were more likely to choose the more difficult pictures if they received inflated praise. Brummelman said children with low self-esteem may have gone for the easier challenge because they worry about meeting those high standards and decided not to take on any new challenges.

The lesson may be that children with low self-esteem need praise (like all of us), but require more realistic and simple praise.  They may feel like the inflated praise puts too high an expectation on them, while the simpler praise feels more authentic.

“It goes against what many people may believe would be most helpful,” Bushman said. “But it really isn’t helpful to give inflated praise to children who already feel bad about themselves.”

Source: Lee Rannals,  http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1113038014/inflated-praise-not-beneficial-for-all-kids-010214/#pdGaJuceet6Y0ywu.99

Your Child

Music Improves Kids' Memory and Reading Skills

2.00 to read

Maybe Plato was right when he noted that music “…gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

A new study suggests that children who practice singing or learn an instrument are also more likely to improve in language and reading skills.

Previous research has shown a positive link between music and learning skills, but was mainly conducted on children in upper or middle class families. This new study looks at whether the same results apply to children living in impoverished and low socioeconomic neighborhoods. The present study included students from musical training programs in Chicago and Los Angeles public schools.

The findings support the idea that musical training can help any child not only benefit from the joy and discipline of musical training, but also the stimulation that the mind acquires through music.  This could prove particularly helpful to children living in difficult circumstances.

"Research has shown that there are differences in the brains of children raised in impoverished environments that affect their ability to learn," said Nina Kraus, PhD, a neurobiologist at the Northwestern University. "While more affluent students do better in school than children from lower income backgrounds, we are finding that musical training can alter the nervous system to create a better learner and help offset this academic gap."

How does music help a child learn better? According to researchers, musical training improves the brain's ability to process sounds. Children who learn music are better equipped to understand sounds in a noisy background. Improvements in neural networks also strengthen memory and learning skills.

For the study, scientists used two groups of children. One group was given music classes, while the other received Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps classes. Each group had comparable IQs at the beginning of the study.

The researchers recorded children's brain waves as they listened to repeated syllable against a soft background sound. The children were tested again after one year of music training/JROTC classes and again after a two-year study period. The team found that children's neural responses were strengthened after two years of music classes. The study shows that music training isn't a quick fix, but is a long-term approach to improve academic performance of children belonging to lower socioeconomic classes.

"We're spending millions of dollars on drugs to help kids focus and here we have a non-pharmacologic intervention that thousands of disadvantaged kids devote themselves to in their non-school hours-that works," Margaret Martin, founder of Harmony Project in Los Angeles, said in a news release. "Learning to make music appears to remodel our kids' brains in ways that facilitates and improves their ability to learn."

In other studies, music has also been shown to be effective in promoting better social behavior in teenage boys who have learning difficulties and poor social skills.

Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, many school districts have either cut back or completely eliminated music and arts programs. The loss of such a treasure in our school systems is tragic. Music not only “hath charms to soothe a savages beast,” but also to refresh and calm an anxious mind. It’s time we rethink the importance of music and the other arts programs in our schools. Fund them and bring them back – for all of our children’s sake.

The study was presented at the American Psychological Association's 122nd Annual Convention.

Source: Staff Reporter, http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/8472/20140809/music-training-improves-memory-reading-skills-children.htm

Your Child

Sleep: New Recommendations for Different Ages

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We all know how important a good night’s sleep is to being able to function well the next day. But how much sleep is really enough? How much we prefer is a personal choice, but how much we really need is now more concrete. 

After web analytics showed the vast popularity of the category, How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? on the National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) website, a panel of experts set about to reassure that the information provided there was the most accurate and up to date.

"Sleep duration was basically one of the most visited pages on the NSF website, and it wasn't really clear how those recommendations for the ranges had been arrived at," Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D., chair of the National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council, told The Huffington Post.

The National Sleep Foundation decided to look at its recommendations and see if they should make any adjustments. After analyzing more recent literature on the subject, they came to the conclusion that an updating was due.

The panel of six sleep-experts and 12 medical experts conducted a formal literature review. The panel focused on the body of research surrounding sleep duration in healthy human subjects that had been published in peer-reviewed journals between 2004 and 2014. From the 312 articles reviewed, the experts were able to fine-tune existing sleep duration recommendations as detailed below:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours (range narrowed from 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (range widened from 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (range widened from 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours (range widened from 11-13)
  • School-Age Children (6-13): 9-11 hours (range widened from 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours (range widened from 8.5-9.5)
  • Young Adults (18-25): 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours (no change)
  • Older Adults (65+): 7-8 hours (new age category)

“This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety,” Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation, said in a statement.

During sleep, your brain and body recharge. Lack of sleep can have short-term and long-term effects. Studies have shown that children and teens that do not get enough sleep have trouble concentrating in school, are more prone to drinking and drug use and are more likely to have behavioral issues. They are also more likely to suffer from depression.

Too little sleep can also affect growth and your child’s immune system – making it harder to fight off an illness.

For adults, if you’re able to function well on the amount of sleep you typically get, then that’s probably the right amount for you. However, for children, the NSF’s recommendations are a good resource for making sure your kids are getting enough sleep. If you find that your child is getting the recommended amount of sleep but is still groggy or lacks energy or focus during the day, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor to see if there may be something else that is causing these symptoms.

Sources: Sarah Klein, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/02/how-much-sleep-durations-changes_n_6581628.html

Your Child

40% of Children 3 to 11 Are Exposed to Secondhand Smoke

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The good news is that exposure to secondhand smoke dropped by half in the United States between 1999 and 2012. While more and more people are giving up the unhealthy habit, the amount of children being exposed to secondhand smoke is still significant – particularly in the African-American population. 

In a recent report, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 58 million American nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke.

In that group, the CDC suggests that 40 percent of children aged 3 to 11 are breathing in secondhand smoke and among black children, the number is much higher at 70 percent.

"Secondhand smoke can kill, and too many Americans -- and particularly too many children -- are still exposed to secondhand smoke," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said during a midday press conference.

Frieden, citing the U.S. Surgeon General, said, "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke." Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals including about 70 that can cause cancer, he added.

The connection of secondhand smoke and illnesses in children has been widely studied and reported. In infants and children, secondhand smoke has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections and asthma attacks.

In adult nonsmokers, passive smoke has been tied to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, according to Frieden.

Each year, secondhand smoke kills more than 41,000 Americans from lung cancer and heart disease, and causes 400 deaths from SIDS, Frieden said. "These deaths are entirely preventable," he added.

Susan Liss, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement: "The high level of child exposure to secondhand smoke also underscores the need for parents to take additional steps to protect children, such as ensuring that homes, cars and other places frequented by children are smoke-free. For parents who smoke, the best step to protect children is to quit smoking."

Smoking can become such a mindless habit that parents and caregivers forget that their children are breathing in the smoke they exhale. In nonsmoking homes, it can be difficult when friends or other family members want to light up when visiting. Asking people to either step outside or not smoke in the house has caused many a friends and family rift. But, standing your ground will protect your child from the influence of smoking and the polluted air that flows from a smoker.

Most restaurants, bars and workplaces have issued smoke-free policies but one's home and auto are open to personal choice. The number of U.S. households that are now smoke-free has increased in the past 20 years from 43 percent to 83 percent and that’s truly amazing considering our long love affair with cigarettes and cigars!

However, when 1 in 4 nonsmokers – including many children-are still being exposed, it’s going to take more parents, friends and family members to put down their cigarettes for good to finally stop children and adults from suffering the disastrous effects of breathing in secondhand smoke.

Source: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/58-million-americans-exposed-to-secondhand-smoke-cdc-696149.html

Your Child

Peanut Butter Recall

Two brands of Skippy peanut butter have been recalled due to potential salmonella contamination.Over the weekend, a pantry staple was recalled.  Unilever Company recalled two brands of reduced-fat Skippy peanut butter.

Routine tests by the company suggest that the products may be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Salmonella is a frequent cause of food poisoning and can cause severe infections. The specific brand recalls include 16.3-ounce plastic jars, are Skippy Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread and Skippy Reduced Fat Super Chunk Peanut Butter Spread. UPC codes for the recalled products are 048001006812 and 048001006782. Check the jar lid for best-if-used-by dates including:

  • MAY1612LR1
  • MAY1712LR1
  • MAY1812LR1
  • MAY1912LR1
  • MAY2012LR1
  • MAY2112LR1

The products were distributed in 16 states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Symptoms of salmonella infection may include are fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Consumers who have purchased the recalled products should immediately discard the product and contact the company for a replacement coupon at 800-453-3432.

Your Child

Brita Recalls Children’s Water Bottles

1:45 to read

Brita is recalling approximately 242,500 children's water filter bottles due to a possible laceration hazard.

The company said Tuesday that the lid of the hard-sided bottles can break into pieces with sharp points.

Brita has received 35 reports of lids breaking or cracking. No injuries have been reported.

The recalled bottles include a violet bottle with Dora the Explorer, a pink bottle with Hello Kitty, a blue bottle with SpongeBob Square Pants and a green bottle with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Each bottle has a Brita logo and white lid.

The bottles are 6 inches tall and hold 15 ounces of liquid. They have fold-up straws and filters that sit inside the straw below the lid.

The removable plastic wrap on the bottle at time of purchase has model number BB07. The following UPC codes were used:

  • 60258-35883 on the Dora the Explorer
  • 60258-35914 on the Hello Kitty
  • 60258-35880 on the SpongeBob Square Pants
  • 60258-35882 on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The bottles were priced between about $13 and $19. They were sold online at Amazon, Target and Drugstore.com. They were sold at stores including Alaska Housewares, Associated Food Stores, Bartell Drug, C Wholesale Grocers, Quidsi, Royal Ahold, Shopko, Target, US Navy Exchange and Walmart.

Consumers are advised to immediately stop using the bottles and to contact Brita for a postage-paid shipping package to return the bottles for a full refund. Brita can be reached at (800) 926-2065 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Individuals may also visit www.brita.com and click "Safety Recall" for more information.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/brita-recalling-childrens-water-bottles-25032799

Brita water bottle recall

Your Child

It’s Time to Register Your Child for Summer Camp!

1.45 to read

I know, you just got through the holidays and things are beginning to settle down and feel normal again. Guess what? If you’re planning on sending your child to summer camp- you better get busy.

Summer camp registration seems to starts earlier every year.  While the population growth of youngsters has remained pretty steady, the number of children wanting to attend either day camps or overnight camps is increasing. Summer camps fill up quickly and to meet the demand, camps are opening registration much sooner than in years gone by.

Early registration can also save you money. Many camps give a discount for parents who are willing to prepay early.  February looks to be a common open registration month, but some camps are offering online registration now. The most popular camps fill up quickly, so get your checkbook or credit card ready.

Many parents depend on day camps to help cover childcare during the summer months. The range of camps that are available is truly astonishing. I wish I had the choices kids have today when I was little. There are sports camps, science camps, special needs camps, cheerleader camps, arts camps, religious camps, health camps, adventure camps, academic camps – you get the point. If your child has a particular interest, there’s probably a camp that’s just right for him or her.

Not only do camps offer young children a variety of activities during the summer months, they can also offer your teen employment. With over 11 million children heading off to camp this summer, camps need employees. According to the American Camp Association, there are more than 12,000 day and resident camps in the U.S.  Those camps need temporary staff to help run them. If your teen is over 16 years of age, he or she may qualify.

The great thing about your teen working at a summer camp is they can apply at camp that suits their interests. Like music? Apply at a music camp! Summer camp jobs offer wonderful insight into others and while the work may be hard, it’s often very rewarding. Oh, and I forgot, they make their own money too.

Even though the temperatures are still dipping to freezing at night, if you’re planning on letting your child attend summer camp, you might want to start the research and registration now!

 

Your Child

What to Do If Your Child Is Choking

2.30 to read

It’s more common than you probably think. On average over 12,000 children a year, under the age of 14, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for food-related choking. That’s about 34 kids a day according to a new study.

The most common choking hazards appear to be hard candy, followed by other types of candy, then meat and bones. The study noted that most of the young patients were treated and released, but around 10 per cent were hospitalized.

"These numbers are high," said Dr. Gary Smith, who worked on the study at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

What's more, he added, "This is an underestimate. This doesn't include children who were treated in urgent care, by a primary care physician or who had a serious choking incident and were able to expel the food and never sought care."

The estimated 12,435 children ages 14 and younger that were treated for choking on food each year also doesn't include the average 57 pediatric food-choking deaths reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annually, the researchers noted.

Smith and his colleagues analyzed injury surveillance data covering 2001 through 2009.

They found that babies one year old and younger accounted for about 38 percent of all childhood ER visits for choking on food. Many of those infants choked on formula or breast milk.

Children who choked on hotdogs, nuts and seeds were the most likely to be hospitalized.

"We know that because hot dogs are the shape and size of a child's airway that they can completely block a child's airway," Smith told Reuters Health, noting that seeds and nuts are also difficult to swallow when children put a lot in their mouths at once.

Supervision is the most important choking prevention. Parents or guardians should make sure that a small child’s food is cut up into manageable bites that can be easily chewed and swallowed. An example might be grapes and raisins. A whole raisin is probably okay to be given to a toddler, but a grape should be sliced.

What should you do if your child is choking?

For children ages 1 to 12:

1. Assess the situation quickly.

If a child is suddenly unable to cry, cough, or speak, something is probably blocking her airway, and you'll need to help her get it out. She may make odd noises or no sound at all while opening her mouth. Her skin may turn bright red or blue.

If she's coughing or gagging, it means her airway is only partially blocked. If that's the case, encourage her to cough. Coughing is the most effective way to dislodge a blockage. If the child isn't able to cough up the object, ask someone to call 911 or the local emergency number as you begin back blows and chest thrusts. If you're alone with the child, give two minutes of care, then call 911.

On the other hand, if you suspect that the child's airway is closed because her throat has swollen shut, call 911 immediately. She may be having an allergic reaction to the food.

Call 911 immediately is your child is turning blue, unconscious or appears to be in severe distress.

2. Try to dislodge the object with back blows and abdominal thrusts.

If a child is conscious but can't cough, talk, or breathe, or is beginning to turn blue, stand or kneel slightly behind him. Provide support by placing one arm diagonally across his chest and lean him forward.
Firmly strike the child between the shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand. Each back blow should be a separate and distinct attempt to dislodge the obstruction.

Give five of these back blows.

Then do abdominal thrusts

Stand or kneel behind the child and wrap your arms around his waist.

Locate his belly button with one or two fingers. Make a fist with the other hand and place the thumb side against the middle of the child's abdomen, just above the navel and well below the lower tip of his breastbone.
Grab your fist with your other hand and give five quick, upward thrusts into the abdomen. Each abdominal thrust should be a separate and distinct attempt to dislodge the obstruction.

Repeat back blows and abdominal thrusts Continue alternating five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the object is forced out or the child starts to cough forcefully. If he's coughing, encourage him to cough up the object.

If the child becomes unconscious If a child who is choking on something becomes unconscious, you'll need to do what's called modified CPR. Here's how to do modified CPR on a child:

Place the child on his back on a firm, flat surface. Kneel beside his upper chest. Place the heel of one hand on his sternum (breastbone), at the center of his chest. Place your other hand directly on top of the first hand. Try to keep your fingers off the chest by interlacing them or holding them upward.

Perform 30 compressions by pushing the child's sternum down about 2 inches. Allow the chest to return to its normal position before starting the next compression.

Open the child's mouth and look for an object. If you see something, remove it with your fingers. Next, give him two rescue breaths. If the breaths don't go in (you don't see his chest rise), repeat the cycle of giving 30 compressions, checking for the object, and trying to give two rescue breaths until the object is removed, the child starts to breathe on his own, or help arrives.

A good rule of thumb for parents and guardians is to take a CPR class. Many hospitals and clinics also offer classes on what to do if your child is choking.

Sources: Genevra Pittman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/29/us-choking-food-idUSBRE96S04K20130729

http://www.babycenter.com/0_first-aid-for-choking-and-cpr-an-illustrated-guide-for-child_11241.bc

 

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