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Your Child

Lawn Mower Safety Rules Haven’t Prevented Kid's Injuries

2:00

Spring, summer and fall are the times of year when you are most likely to hear the monotonous hum of mower blades echoing throughout neighborhoods.

It’s often the first job a young boy or girl acquires to earn a little extra money, but lawn mowing can come with high risk of injuries when kids and parents don’t follow some simple guidelines.

Despite recommendations presented by AAP, the incidence of lawn mower-related injuries in children has remained unchanged over the last two to three decades.

From 2004-’13, an average of 9,351 youths ages 20 years and younger suffered lawn mower-related injuries each year, according to a review of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

About one-third of the wounds occurred in children younger than 12. Two age groups sustained the most injuries, 3 years old and 16 years old and predominately male.

Areas of the body most commonly injured involved hand/fingers ((30%), lower extremity (17%) and face/eye (14%). Amputations and fractures combined accounted for 12.5% of injuries and were more likely to require hospitalization.

Although the incidence of injuries caused by ride-on mowers was 2.5 times higher than those caused by walk-behind mowers, the type of mower was not specified in over 70% of cases, making a true determination of relative risk nearly impossible.   

While fractures and amputations are the most dramatic injuries, they certainly are not the only ones reported. An analysis of NEISS data from 1990-2004 showed the majority of lawn mower injuries were cuts, other soft-tissue injuries and burns.

Also reported in the study were foreign body injuries. It’s hard to imagine, but the rotation of the blades on a typical 26-inch riding lawn mower is similar to the energy required to fire a bullet through the engine block of an automobile, according to the authors. The force certainly is enough to impale objects into a child’s body, even from a good distance away.  

The AAP warns that kids and parents should be aware of the precautions one should take before and during mowing to keep everyone safer.

Here are some mower-safety tips from the AAP:

•       Before learning how to mow the lawn, your child should show the maturity, good judgment, strength and coordination that the job requires. Kids should be at least 12 years of age to operate a walk-behind power mower or hand mower safely and 16 years of age to operate a riding lawn mower safely.

•       Children should be supervised until you are sure he or she can handle the job alone.

•       Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles, close-fitting clothes, safety goggles or glasses with side shields, and hearing protection.

•       Watch for objects that could be picked up and thrown by the mower blades, as well as hidden dangers. Tall grass can hide objects, holes or bumps. Use caution when approaching corners, trees or anything that might block your view.

•       If the mower strikes an object, stop, turn the mower off, and inspect the mower. If it is damaged, do not use it until it has been repaired.

•       Do not pull the mower backwards or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.

•       Use extra caution when mowing a slope.

•       When a walk-behind mower is used, mow across the face of slopes, not up and down, to avoid slipping under the mower and into the blades.

•       With a riding mower, mow up and down slopes, not across, to avoid tipping over.

•       Keep in mind that lawn trimmers also can throw objects at high speed.

•       Remain aware of where children are and do not allow them near the area where you are working. Children tend to be attracted to mowers in use.

Stop the engine and allow it to cool before refueling. Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before:

•       Crossing gravel paths, roads or other areas

•       Removing the grass catcher

•       Unclogging the discharge chute

•       Walking away from the mower

Some of the most heartbreaking accidents occur when small children – even infants- are allowed to “ride along” while their parents or grandparents are using a riding mower or small tractor.  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics show that each year, 800 children are run over by riding mowers or small tractors and more than 600 of those incidents result in amputation; 75 people are killed, and 20,000 injured; one in five deaths involves a child. For children under age 10, major limb loss is most commonly caused by lawn mowers. Never allow a child on a lawn mower or small tractor while you’re using it.

Mowing can be fun, a good source of income for adolescents and a help to families; so make sure to give an ounce of prevention to avoid having to receive a pound of cure.  

Story sources: http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/08/11/LawnMowers081116

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Lawnmower-Safety.aspx

Your Child

The Debate: Homework or No Homework?

1:45

Does homework improve a student’s academic achievement or does it interfere with family time and create a negative learning experience? That’s part of the debate that is currently going on over whether homework is a good or bad thing for students.

Brandy Young, a second grade teacher in Godley, Texas, recently made the news when a letter she gave to her student’s parents, went viral on social media.

Young said that she was dropping homework from her curriculum for the new school year.

"Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance," Young wrote. "Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early."

That made a lot of Young’s students very happy.

According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), homework has had a fluid history.

“Throughout the first few decades of the 20th century, educators commonly believed that homework helped create disciplined minds. By 1940, growing concern that homework interfered with other home activities sparked a reaction against it. This trend was reversed in the late 1950s when the Soviets' launch of Sputnik led to concern that U.S. education lacked rigor; schools viewed more rigorous homework as a partial solution to the problem. By 1980, the trend had reversed again, with some learning theorists claiming that homework could be detrimental to students' mental health. Since then, impassioned arguments for and against homework have continued to proliferate.”

The case for homework involves several studies noting that student’s academic achievements improve when they are given meaningful homework and they complete assignments. A number of synthesis studies have been conducted on homework, spanning a broad range of approaches and levels of selectivity.  One such account, known as The Cooper Study, included more than 100 firsthand research reports, and the Cooper, Robinson, and Patall (2006) study included about 50 empirical research reports. Conclusions from their studies stated,  “With only rare exceptions, the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant. Therefore, we think it would not be imprudent, based on the evidence in hand, to conclude that doing homework causes improved academic achievement.”

The case against homework also cites several studies that suggest homework doesn’t improve students’ learning but instead overvalues work to the detriment of personal and familial wellbeing.

Some no-homework activists say that extended school hours work better for helping students learn and retain knowledge.

Several popular books have been written taking the no-homework stand; one is The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn. 

If homework needs to be assigned, Kohn suggest teachers should make sure that the assignments are beneficial, ideally involving students in activities appropriate for the home, such as performing an experiment in the kitchen, cooking, doing crossword puzzles with the family, watching good TV shows, or reading. Kohn also urged teachers to involve students in deciding what homework, and how much, they should do. One idea is that family participatory homework exercises can help students learn practical applications with school subjects and receive more bonding time in the process.

Many education experts believe homework provides valuable tools for student learning but also agree that meaningful homework should always be the goal and not assigned as a matter of policy.

Research has also shown that while students are typically assigned homework from Kindergarten to 12th grade, there has been no specific consensus on the benefits of homework at the early elementary grade levels, however, older students do improve their grades with homework.

Many parents are still uncertain about how they feel about homework. Some will tell you that their child has far too much assigned during the week and over the weekends, but they are not quite ready to chuck homework altogether. 

It’s an interesting debate that will continue to garner attention.

Whether you believe homework is necessary for better learning or is an obstacle to student achievement, one thing both sides can agree on is that parental involvement is the key ingredient to a happier and more prepared student.

Story source: Robert J. Marzano and Debra J. Pickering,

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar07/vol64/num06/The-Case-For-and-Against-Homework.aspx

 

 

Your Child

Healthy Diet Improves Reading Skills

1:00

Good nutrition not only improves your child’s physical condition but may also advance his or her reading abilities, according to a new Finnish study.

Researchers in Finland found students' reading skills improved more between first grade and third grade if they didn't eat a lot of sugary foods or red meat, and if their diet consisted mainly of vegetables, berries and other fruits, as well as fish, whole grains and unsaturated fats.

The study involved 161 students between the ages of 6 and 8 (first through 3rd grade). Researchers reviewed the children's diets and their reading ability using food diaries and standardized reading tests.

The study showed that a healthier diet was associated with better reading skills by third grade, regardless of how well the students could read in first grade, the researchers said.

"Another significant observation is that the associations of diet quality with reading skills were also independent of many confounding factors, such as socioeconomic status, physical activity, body adiposity [fat] and physical fitness," study author Eero Haapala said in a University of Eastern Finland news release. He is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyvaskyla.

As with most studies, the research did not prove cause and effect, but an association between the foods the students ate and their reading skills.

The study's authors noted that parents, schools, governments and corporations all have an opportunity to enhance academic performance in schools by making healthy foods more available to children.

The study was published recently in the European Journal of Nutrition.

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/food-and-nutrition-news-316/healthy-diet-may-boost-children-s-reading-skills-714811.html

 

 

Your Child

Hand Sanitizers Poisoning Young Children

2:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Child

McDonald’s Recalls Kid's “Step-iT” Wristbands Due to Burns, Skin Irritations

1:30

About 29 million of McDonald’s “Step-iT” activity wristbands have been recalled in the U.S. due to skin irritations or burns to children.

The recall involves “Step-iT” activity wristbands, which come in two styles—“Activity Counter” and a motion-activated “Light-up Band.” The Activity Counter comes in translucent plastic orange, blue or green and features a digital screen that tracks a child’s steps or other movement. The Light-up Band comes in translucent plastic red, purple, or orange and blinks light with the child’s movement. Both styles of activity wristbands have a square face with the words “STEP-iT” printed on them and a button to depress and activate the wristband. The back of the square face contains the etched words “Made for McDonald’s.” 

The company has received more than 70 reports of incidents, including seven reports of blisters, after wearing the wristbands.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled wristbands from children and return them to any McDonald’s for a free replacement toy and either a yogurt tube or bag of apple slices.

The wristbands were distributed exclusively by McDonald’s restaurants nationwide, from August 9, 2016 to August 17, 2016 with Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals. 

Consumers can contact McDonald’s at 800-244-6227 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT daily, or online at www.mcdonalds.com and click on “Safety Recall” for more information. 

You can see all the models recalled on http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2016/McDonalds-Recalls-Step-iT-Activity-Wristbands/

Your Child

Laser Pointers and Vision Loss

1:45

Laser pointers were once found primarily in schools, certain industries, entertainment venues and scientific labs. Today they are easily available over the Internet and have garnered the attention of kids and teens that use them as toys. They’ve also become a social media phenomenon as videos of people using them to tease or play with cats rack up likes and shares.

Low powered laser pointers have been considered basically safe for children to play with as long as warnings to avoid pointing the laser at someone’s head or eyes were followed. When operated unsafely, or without certain controls, the highly concentrated light from lasers—even those in toys—can be dangerous, causing serious eye injuries and even blindness. And not just to the person using a laser, but to anyone within range of the laser beam.

Typically, laser light injuries are not painful. Eye injuries may go unnoticed for days and even weeks, but could be permanent.

Some examples of laser toys are:

•       Lasers mounted on toy guns that can be used for "aiming;"

•       Spinning tops that project laser beams while they spin;

•       Hand-held lasers used during play as "light-sabers;" and

•       Lasers intended for entertainment that create optical effects in an open room.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), laser pointers fall into 4 classifications. The classifications categorize lasers according to their ability to produce damage in exposed people, from class 1 (no hazard during normal use) to class 4 (severe hazard for eyes and skin). There are two classification systems, the "old system" used before 2002, and the "revised system" being phased in since 2002.

Researchers recently documented 4 boys who suffered severe eye damage from a laser pointer. The authors report described two 12-year-olds, one nine-year-old and one 16-year-old who came to a medical center with central vision loss and "blind spots" within hours to days after looking into or playing with a green or red laser pointer.

In one case, the boy looked at the reflection of a laser pointer in a mirror. Two others simply pointed the lasers at themselves, and the fourth was engaged in a "laser war" with a friend.

"Long-term outcomes for these patients will be pretty mild vision loss," said senior author Dr. David R. P. Almeida of VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"Males may horse around with things more, or we just happened to have boys in our series," Almeida told Reuters Health by phone. Injuries could be just as likely for girls.

He advises parents to be careful about where they buy laser pointers, as some retailers may not list the power rating or may list it incorrectly, and to limit use for kids under 14.

Retinal tissue in the back of the eye leads to the brain, and it has no ability to regenerate after tissue loss, Almeida said.

"One patient developed bleeding and needed an injection in the eye," which can be particularly unpleasant for children, he said.

Kids may use laser pointers as long as they avoid improper use, Almeida said.

"Unsupervised use of these laser pointer devices among children should be discouraged, and there is a need for legislation to limit these devices in the pediatric population," he and his coauthors write.

There's no doubt that these products can open up a world of imagination - dragon slayer, cosmic explorer, super pirate, the list goes on. Handled correctly they can provide hours of fun - mishandled, hours in the emergency room. If your child has a laser pointer or toy, make sure he or she knows the rules and understands why being careful about where it is pointed is so important. 

Story sources: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/09/06/laser-pointers-can-cause-irreversible-vision-loss-for-kids.html

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm363908.htm

 

 

Your Child

Testing Your Child for Hearing Problems

1:30

Hearing well is critical to a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development.  When hearing problems are diagnosed early, most are treatable. So it’s important to have your little one’s hearing tested, ideally by the time your baby is 3 months old.

Hearing loss is more common that you’d probably expect. It affects about 1 to 3 babies out of every 1,000.

Although many things can lead to hearing loss, about half the time, no cause is found.

Hearing loss can occur if a child:

•       Was born prematurely

•       Stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

•       Had newborn jaundice with bilirubin level high enough to require a blood transfusion

•       Was given medications that can lead to hearing loss

•       Has family members with childhood hearing loss

•       Had certain complications at birth

•       Had many ear infections

•       Had infections such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus

•       Was exposed to very loud sounds or noises, even briefly

When should your child be evaluated for hearing loss? Newborns should have a hearing screening before being discharged from the hospital. Every state and territory in the U.S. has a program called Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI). The program identifies every child with permanent hearing loss before 3 months of age, and provides intervention services before 6 months of age. If your baby doesn't have this screening, or was born at home or a birthing center, it's important to have a hearing screening within the first 3 weeks of life.

If your newborn doesn't pass the initial hearing screening, it's important to get a retest within 3 months so treatment can begin right away. Treatment for hearing loss can be the most effective if it's started before a child is 6 months old.

Children who seem to have normal hearing should continue to have their hearing evaluated at regular doctor’s appointments from ages 4 to 10 years of age.

If your child seems to have trouble hearing, if speech development seems abnormal, or if your child's speech is difficult to understand, talk with your doctor.

Even if your newborn passes the hearing screening, continue to watch for signs that hearing is normal. Some hearing milestones your child should reach in the first year of life:

•       Most newborn infants startle or "jump" to sudden loud noises.

•       By 3 months, a baby usually recognizes a parent's voice.

•       By 6 months, a baby can usually turn his or her eyes or head toward a sound.

•       By 12 months, a baby can usually imitate some sounds and produce a few words, such as "Mama" or "bye-bye."

As your baby grows into a toddler, signs of a hearing loss may include:

•       Limited, poor, or no speech

•       Frequently inattentive

•       Difficulty learning

•       Seems to need higher TV volume

•       Fails to respond to conversation-level speech or answers inappropriately to speech

•       Fails to respond to his or her name or easily frustrated when there's a lot of background noise 

There are several ways your child’s hearing can be tested depending on his or her age, development and health.

During behavioral tests, an audiologist carefully watches a child respond to sounds like calibrated speech (speech that is played with a particular volume and intensity) and pure tones. A pure tone is a sound with a very specific pitch (frequency), like a note on a keyboard.

An audiologist may know an infant or toddler is responding by his or her eye movements or head turns. A preschooler may move a game piece in response to a sound, and a grade-schooler may raise a hand. Children can respond to speech with activities like identifying a picture of a word or repeating words softly.

Doctors can also examine a child for hearing loss by looking at how well his or her ear, nerves and brain are functioning.

If a hearing problem is suspected, a pediatric audiologist specializing in testing and helping kids with hearing loss can be contacted. They work closely with doctors, teachers, and speech/language pathologists.

Audiologists have a lot of specialized training. They have a Masters or Doctorate degree in audiology, have performed internships, and are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CCC-A) or are Fellows of the American Academy of Audiology (F-AAA).

Children with certain types of hearing loss have several options for treatment. They may be helped with surgery or hearing aids. The most common type of hearing loss involves outer hair cells that do not work properly. Hearing aids can make sounds louder and overcome this problem.

A cochlear implant is a surgical treatment for hearing loss; this device doesn't cure hearing loss, but is a device that gets placed into the inner ear to send sound directly to the hearing nerve. It can help children with profound hearing loss who do not benefit from hearing aids.

Making sure that your child is hearing well is one of the first steps you can take to helping him or her do well socially, academically and developmentally.

Story source: Thierry Morlet, PhD, Rupal Christine Gupta, MD,

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/hear.html

 

Your Child

Dog Bites and Young Children

1:30

Most young kids can read a dog well enough to know if it is angry or scared, but they may be confused over whether to approach one or not, according to a new British study.

While young children often knew an angry dog was trouble, they were just as likely to approach a frightened dog as a happy one.

Co-author of the study, Sarah Rose, of Staffordshire University, and her team examined hospital statistics of children in the U.K. bitten by a dog.

"This study explored whether the explanation is that they are unable to accurately recognize a dog's emotions when approaching one," she said in a news release from the British Psychological Society.

The researchers asked two groups of kids to look at images and brief videos of dogs. The first group was 57 children between the ages of 4 and 5. The second group included 61 children, ages 6 to 7. Some of the videos and images showed dogs that appeared to be angry or frightened.

The researchers then asked the children to describe the apparent emotion of the dog and say whether they'd be willing to play with the dog.

The researchers found that children were able to recognize happy, angry and frightened dogs to a greater degree than chance would suggest.

They were most attuned to angry dogs, but less successful at recognizing happy or frightened dogs. They didn't seem to understand that they shouldn't approach a frightened dog.

Dog bites are a problem in the United States as well. They are the second most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms from 9 activities common among children such as sports, skateboarding and All-terrain vehicles.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates half of all children 12 years-of-age and under have been bitten by a dog. In many cases, teasing or an unintentional provocation, such as approaching a dog while it's eating or sleeping, can lead to a dog bite or even worse, an attack.  The vast majority of dog bites are from a dog that the child is acquainted with - his or her own, a neighbor's, or a friend's dog.  Seventy nine percent of fatal dog attacks are on children.

"Young children are relatively good at accurately identifying the emotion that a dog is displaying," Rose said. "However, children's understanding of safety around dogs is lacking, as they only demonstrated caution about approaching angry dogs. They appeared to be unaware that there might be problems approaching frightened dogs. This finding should help inform dog bite prevention campaigns."

Studies have shown that even a single dog bite prevention lesson incorporated into a regular school day has been shown to dramatically reduce high-risk behaviors toward unfamiliar dogs in both very young (kindergarten) and middle school children.

Most children learn about dogs and other animals from their home environment. Parents can go the extra step in helping to prevent dog-related injuries by teaching their children that scared dogs are similar to angry dogs in how they react to being approached.

Young children, particularly toddlers, should never be left unsupervised around a dog- even a family pet.

Story sources: Randy Dotinga, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/misc-kid-s-health-news-435/young-kids-unaware-of-the-risks-of-approaching-scared-dogs-714883.html

http://www.safetyarounddogs.org/statistics.html

 

 

Your Child

Sports Variety Recommended to Avoid Overuse Injuries

1:45

Kids who participate in a variety of sports are more likely to benefit from lifelong physical activity according to a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Researchers also noted that children, who specialize in a single sport at a younger age, are at a higher risk for overuse injuries from training as well as increased stress and burnout.

In its report, “Sports Specialization and Intensive Training in Young Athletes, “the AAP reviewed patterns of youth sports and found the culture has changed dramatically over the past 40 years.

"More kids are participating in adult-led organized sports today, and sometimes the goals of the parents and coaches may be different than the young athletes," said lead author Joel S. Brenner, MD, FAAP, past chairperson of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness.

"Some are aiming for college scholarships or a professional athletic career, but those opportunities are rare," Dr. Brenner said. "Children who play multiple sports, who diversify their play, are more likely to enjoy physical activity throughout their lives and more successful in achieving their athletic goals."

The AAP suggests that kids participate in several sports and delay specializing in one particular sport until late adolescence.  The academy also advocates banning the practice of ranking athletes nationally and recruiting for college before they reach their late high school years.

About 60 million children age 6-18 participate in organized sports annually, according to the 2008 National Council of Youth Sports. Of those, about 27 percent participated in only one sport, the council found. Increasingly, children specialize in one sport early and play year-round, often on multiple teams. By age 7, some participate in select or travel leagues that are independent of school-sponsored programs.

About 70 percent of children drop out of organized sports by age 13, research shows.

While there are a variety of reasons why kids may choose to drop out of sports, Brenner believes stress may play a role.

"One reason could be pressure to perform better and lack of enjoyment due to a variety of reasons, including a lack of playing time," Dr. Brenner said.

During the recent Olympic games in Rio, sports such as figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics and diving gained international attention and praise. There is no doubt that these remarkable athletes have been training diligently since they were children. While few will achieve the kinds of success these athletes have, it hasn’t stopped them from trying.

Youth athletes often begin their competitive sports careers as early as age seven, with some youth participating in organized sports activities as early as age four, if not sooner. With an estimated 25 million scholastic, and another 20 million organized community-based youth programs in the United States, the opportunity for injury is enormous.

That is not to say that children should avoid sports, in fact, physical activity is necessary for normal growth and good health. However, when young children specialize in one particular sport and the activity level becomes too intense or too excessive in a short time period, tissue breakdown and injury can occur.

These overuse injuries used to be seen frequently in adult recreational athletes, but are now being seen in children. The single biggest factor contributing to the dramatic increase in overuse injuries in young athletes is the focus on more intense, repetitive and specialized training at much younger ages.

The AAP has these recommendations for young athletes and their parents:

•       Delay sports specialization until at least age 15-16 to minimize risks of overuse injury.

•       Encourage participation in multiple sports.

•       If a young athlete has decided to specialize in a single sport, a pediatrician should discuss the child's goals to determine whether they are appropriate and realistic.

•       Parents are encouraged to monitor the training and coaching environment of "elite" youth sports programs.

•       Encourage a young athlete to take off at least three months during the year, in increments of one month, from their particular sport. They can still remain active in other activities during this time.

•       Young athletes should take one to two days off per week to decrease chances of injury.

"The ultimate goal of sports is for kids to have fun and learn lifelong physical activity skills," Dr. Brenner said. "We want kids to have more time for deliberate play, where they can just go out and play with their friends and have fun."

The AAP report was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Story sources: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/AAP-Clinical-Report-Young-Children-Risk-Injury-in-Single-Sport-Specialization.aspx

http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/kids-sports-injuries-numbers-are-impressive

 

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