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Your Child

Kid’s Allergies Linked to Depression and Anxiety

2:00

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 40 percent of U.S. children suffer from allergies. It is the third most common chronic disease in kids under the age of 18.

A new study suggests that children who have allergies at an early age are more likely to have problems with anxiety and depression than those that do not.

One reason may be that children with allergies tend to keep their troubles to themselves or  “internalize” them.

“I think the surprising finding for us was that allergic rhinitis has the strongest association with abnormal anxiety/depression/internalizing scores compared to other allergic diseases,” said lead author Dr. Maya K. Nanda of the division of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rhinitis is more commonly called “hay fever” and includes symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes.

The researchers studied 546 children who had skin tests and exams at age one, two, three, four and seven and whose parents completed behavioral assessments at age seven. They looked for signs of sneezing and itchy eyes, wheezing or skin inflammation related to allergies.

Parents answered 160 questions about their child’s behaviors and emotions, including how often they seemed worried, nervous, fearful, or sad.

Researchers found that the four-year–old children with hay fever symptoms or persistent wheezing tended to have higher depressive or anxiety scores than others at age seven.

The more allergies a child had, the higher the anxiety and depression scores.

“This study can't prove causation. It only describes a significant association between these disorders, however we have hypotheses on why these diseases are associated,” Nanda told Reuters Health by email.

Another reason for the association may be that children with allergic diseases may be at increased risk for abnormal internalizing scores due to an underlying biological mechanism, or because they modify their behavior in response to the allergies, she said.

Other studies support the idea that that a biologic mechanism involving allergy antibodies trigger production of other substances that affect the parts of the brain that control emotions.

In a 2005 study, Teodor T. Postolache, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the mood and anxiety program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that peaks of tree pollen increased with levels of suicide in women.

Postolache says allergic rhinitis is known to cause specialized cells in the nose to release cytokines, a kind of inflammatory protein. Animal and human studies alike suggest that cytokines can affect brain function, triggering sadness, malaise, poor concentration, and increased sleepiness.

The new study took race, gender and other factors into account, “so the strong association between allergic disease and internalizing disorder we found is definitely present,” Nanda said.

The severity of mental health symptoms varied in this study. Some children had anxiety and depression that needs treatment, while others were at risk and required monitoring, she said.

“We think this study calls for better screening by pediatricians, allergists, and parents of children with allergic disease,” Nanda said. “Too often in my clinic I see allergic children with clinical anxiety (or) depressive symptoms; however, they are receiving no care for these conditions.”

“We don't know how treatment for allergic diseases may effect or change the risk for internalizing disorders and we hope to study this in the future,” Nanda said.

Experts hope that if parents know that allergies may contribute to their child’s mood or behavior, they will be more likely to keep a closer eye on their child for signs of depression or anxiety and seek treatment if necessary.

The study was presented in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Sources: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-kids-allergies-depression-idUSKBN0UC1TW20151230

David Freeman, http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/allergies-depression

 

Your Child

New Flu Vaccine for 2015-2016

1:45

Last year’s flu vaccine wasn’t as effective as previous vaccines, but this year’s vaccine should be a much better match according to Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

Typically, the vaccine is 50 to 60 percent effective, making your chances of getting the flu reduced by as much as 60 percent if you get a flu shot.

This year’s flu vaccine contains the H3N2 strain, Frieden said. Last year's vaccine was only 13 percent effective against the H3N2 strain. As a result, "more seniors were hospitalized for the flu than ever before."

What's more, 145 children died from the flu, Frieden said, adding that the actual number was "probably much higher since many flu deaths aren't reported."

About 50 percent of the American population gets vaccinated every flu season. That includes pregnant women. More people, including pregnant women, need to be vaccinated, Frieden said.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu shot every year.

Frieden said there's an adequate supply of flu vaccine this year. Companies are expected to make 170 million doses of vaccine, of which 40 million have already been distributed, he said.

People at risk of flu-related complications include young children, especially those younger than 2 years; people over 65; pregnant women; and people with chronic health problems, such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes, as well as those with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC.

Most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.

Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

The CDC encourages people to get a flu shot preferably by October. Those children aged 6 months through 8 years who need two doses of vaccine should receive the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least four weeks apart.

During this flu season:

•       Intramuscular (IM) vaccines will be available in both trivalent and quadrivalent formulations. (High dose vaccines, which are IM vaccines, will all be trivalent this season.)

•       For people who are 18 through 64 years old, a jet injector can be used for delivery of one particular trivalent flu vaccine.

•       Nasal spray vaccines will all be quadrivalent this season.

•       Intradermal vaccine will all be quadrivalent.

The quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

It’s hard to believe that we’re about to head into the flu season, particularly with so many states still experiencing summer like weather. But we are, and getting a flu shot early can help protect you and your family from a virus no one wants to get.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/no-embargo-this-year-s-flu-vaccine-better-match-703392.html

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2015-2016.htm

Your Child

Mumps Cases on the Rise, 3rd Vaccine Dose May Be Needed

2:00

Mumps is a highly contagious disease that is on the rise.  Symptoms include uncomfortable swelling on one or both sides of the cheeks. These swollen salivary glands are the most characteristic sign of mumps, which is caused by a virus and usually spread through coughing. It occurs most often in children and teenagers 5 to 14 years old but anyone can catch the mumps virus at any age.

In addition to swelling, the region can become painful when touched or while chewing, especially when consuming foods that stimulate the release of salivary juices or drinking orange juice or other juices that are acidic. Other symptoms may include 

  • Fever lasting 3 to 5 days
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Weakness
  • A decrease in appetite
  • Swelling and pain in the joints (and in boys, of the testes)

In 1967, the mumps vaccination program started, and then in 1971, a three-vaccine dose called MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) was made available to the public. This had a dramatic impact on reducing the number of reported mumps cases. Unfortunately, mumps cases are on the rise once again.

The typical schedule for the MMR vaccine is:

  • First dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and
  • Second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.
  • Teens and adults should also be up to date on MMR vaccinations.

In areas where there is an outbreak, some physicians are recommending that children receive a third dose of the MMR vaccine. States such as Washington, Arkansas, and Missouri have seen a significant increase in mumps in 2016 and early 2017. In Texas, cases are at a 20-year high.

The MMR vaccine protects against currently circulating mumps strains, but the effectiveness of the vaccine may decrease over time. That’s one reason cases may be on the upsurge. Another reason may be that some areas have a higher number of unvaccinated children, allowing the disease to spread quickly throughout a population.

Outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated U.S. communities, particularly in close-contact settings. In recent years, outbreaks have occurred in schools, colleges, and camps. However, high vaccination coverage helps limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks.

A child with mumps will become contagious beginning a day or two before the swelling begins, and the contagious period will continue for about 5 days after the swelling has started. (It’s interesting to note that approximately one third of those infected with mumps do not show obvious swelling.) As a general guideline, keep your child with mumps away from school and child-care for 9 days after the gland swelling has begun.

If your child has the mumps, notify your doctor if your child’s condition becomes worse, especially if she develops abdominal pain, shows an unusual lack of energy, or (for boys) his testicles become painful.

Story sources: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/vaccine-preventable-diseases/Pages/Mumps.aspx

https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/outbreaks.html

 

Your Child

Kids: Safe Lawn Care

2:00

This is the time of year when kids are most likely to be playing in the yard. Daylight hours are longer and winter’s chill is fading fast or gone.  It’s also the time when insects and weeds make an appearance, demanding some type of control.

All pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are toxic on some level. Along with killing pests and weeds, they can also harm you, your children, your pets, and any wildlife on your lawn.

Researchers have noted that young children are especially at risk from pesticides. Their bodies and immune systems are still developing. They are also more likely to spend time outside on the lawn, playing or crawling and coming in contact with any pesticides used there.

As population growth and sub-division building increases, these chemicals have increased in usage.

 However, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides are not the only ways to have a welcoming lawn and insect control. If you must use some pesticides, you can help keep your family safe by using them with care, and only when needed.

Lawn care starts with the basics. When your lawn is healthy, there’s less of a chance for weeds and pests. Pests often mean that the soil is lacking nutrients. Without healthy soil, grass and other plants have a harder time growing and staying healthy. A soil test will tell you what the pH level is and whether your soil needs extra nutrients. Most grasses do best in a soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. If you find that your soil needs help or a pH adjustment, you can add nutrients as needed.

Compost is a healthier option for adding nutrients than many chemical fertilizers. Most lawns can use a good fertilizing at least once a year. You can top-dress with a quarter- to a half-inch of compost. Or look for fertilizer that's labeled "slow release" or "natural organic" fertilizer.

A soil test will tell you what the pH level is and whether your soil needs extra nutrients. Most grasses do best in a soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. If you find that your soil needs help or a pH adjustment, you can add nutrients as needed.

You can also do online research about what kind of grass grows best in your part of the country. County extension offices often have an abundance of material on grasses, flowers and tree types that your area is compatible with and need less watering.

Mowing can have a dramatic effect on lawns. By leaving your grass a little longer -- usually between 2 ½ and 3 ½ inches -- you can usually improve your lawn's health. This is because the leaves of longer grass have more access to sunlight, which helps the grass grow thicker and create deeper roots.

Longer grass is better for your soil, since it provides more shade and helps the soil retain moisture. It also makes it more difficult for weeds to grow.

When pests appear, many experts agree that integrated pest management (IPM) is the most effective and environmentally friendly way to control pests. Basically, this means using holistic ways to treat pests when possible, such as mowing your lawn higher to shade out weeds or planting more disease-resistant types of grasses or plants, and only using pesticides when needed.

Here are a few suggestions to try before you reach for the pesticide:

- Give nature a little time to work. Damaged parts of your lawn may bounce back over time. And most lawn and garden pests have natural enemies that will help control pests. For example, ladybugs and praying mantises eat other bugs while not damaging your lawn or garden.

- Pull out weeds using a long-handled weed puller. It's usually easier than by hand.

- Vinegar can also be used to kill weeds.

- Mulch garden beds to prevent weeds.

- Remove diseased plants so the problem doesn't spread.

If you do decide to use a pesticide, follow these guidelines to help keep your family safe:

- Make sure you know what kind of pest you're dealing with so you can choose the right type of pesticide. Your local extension agent or other local lawn expert can help you identify the problem. There are also organic lawn and pest care companies.

- Don't treat the whole lawn if it’s unnecessary. Use pesticides just where you have the problem.

- Read the label on the pesticide carefully and follow the instructions.

- Wear gloves, and long pants and sleeves while using the pesticide to protect your skin. Wash clothing separately before wearing them again.

- Keep children and pets away from the area for the time recommended on the label.

- If you hire a lawn care service, find one that uses an IPM approach to lawn care or uses organic or chemical-free processes.

Fleas and ticks are some of the most annoying pests during summer and can be difficult to control. 

Fleas and ticks prefer a moist environment. Overwatering is an invitation to these pests. One of the safest ways to treat your yard is the application of Diatomaceous Earth (often just called DE). Diatomaceous earth, which is available at garden centers, is crushed rock that contains the fossilized remains of diatoms, an alga. The hard-shelled alga grates against the fleas and kills them mechanically, not chemically. Don’t buy the DE that is intended for pools; it has been chemically treated and isn’t for use around pets. DE is easy to use by sprinkling areas in the yard where fleas are likely to congregate, such as your dog’s favorite hangouts. Wear a filter mask when spreading the fine powder and keep your dog inside while treating the yard.

Another natural way to treat your yard is by using beneficial nematodes, microscopic round worms that are safe for your family and your pets. Along with fleas, nematodes kill weevils, crane flies, grubs, corn borers, and other vegetable garden pests. The nematodes are microscopic so you won’t see them; you’ll purchase them on a small sponge that contains about one million live nematodes, enough for about 3,000 square feet of yard space.

After soaking the sponge in water, you’ll spray the yard with the mixture. You can purchase the nematodes as far in advance as about a week prior to the yard application; just keep the package in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Organic lawn care can be a little more laborious at the beginning, but as your soil becomes healthier– less and less time is needed to maintain it.

Having a safer lawn may mean that you learn to live with a weed or two. But even healthy lawns have a few weeds and pests. Knowing that your kids are safe when playing hide-and-seek or leapfrog should make any weeds that do pop up a little easier to tolerate.

Story sources: http://www.webmd.com/children/lawn-care#1

Paris Permenter, John Bigley http://www.petsafe.net/learn/10-ways-to-prevent-pests-naturally

 

Your Child

Young Girls Less Likely to See Women as “Really, Really Smart”

2:00

One of the surprise box office hits this year is “Hidden Figures.” It’s based on the true story of a team of female African-American mathematicians at NASA in the late 50s and early 60s that helped launch the first U.S. astronaut into space. The women were brilliant but faced enormous challenges for acceptance because of their race and gender.

According to a new study, you might could say that there are millions of "hidden figures" in who young girls and boys’ perceive as someone who is “really, really smart.”

Researchers wanted to try and figure out why women are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields. While most women make the decision to pursue these courses in high school or college, the scientists found that children develop a stereotype of which gender is naturally smarter early in life.

The study involved 400 children, aged 5 to 7 and included a story told by Lin Bian, a co-author and psychologist at the University of Illinois.

“There are lots of people at the place where I work, but there is one person who is really special. This person is really, really smart,” said Bian. “This person figures out how to do things quickly and comes up with answers much faster and better than anyone else. This person is really, really smart.”

She then showed them pictures of four adults—two men and two women—and asked them to guess which was the protagonist of the story. She also gave them two further tests: one in which they had to guess which adult in a pair was “really, really smart”, and another where they had to match attributes like “smart” or “nice” to pictures of unfamiliar men and women.

The results were revealing.  The 5 year-old boys and girls associated the “smart” person with their own gender. But among those aged 6 or 7, only the boys still held to that view. At an age when girls tend to outperform boys at school, and when children in general show large positive biases towards their own in-groups, the girls became less likely than boys to attribute brilliance to their own gender.

As the boys continued to believe in their own intelligence, the girls – on average – tended to see everyone on more equal terms.

Bian also found that the older girls were less interested in games that were meant for “really, really smart” children.

The stereotype that brilliance and genius are male traits is common among adults. In various surveys, men rate their intelligence more favorably than women, and in a recent study of biology undergraduates, men overrated the abilities of male students above equally talented and outspoken women.

Bian’s study suggests that the seeds of this bias are planted at a very early age. Even by the age of 6, boys and girls are already diverging in who they think is smart.

The findings could help illuminate the challenge schools face in combating gender stereotypes, even though girls often outperform boys in school. Girls drop out of high school at a lower rate than boys. Women are more likely than men to enroll in college, and they earn more college degrees each year than men.

Other games were played and social tests were given during the study with similar results. The 5 year-olds were equally interested in participating, but the 6 and 7 year-old girls were less interested in the ones that relied on “being smart.” Both genders were attracted to the games requiring persistence and hard work.

In today’s business and scientific world, more educators, policymakers and corporations are making an effort to include women in leadership roles, but breaking through the stereotypes developed at such a young age can hinder girls and women in those and other disciplines.

Children model what they see. If they are raised in an environment that diminishes young girls’ achievements but rewards young boys for the same achievements, it often sets up a life-long struggle for them to feel and accept their own self-value. 

Teachers also play an important role in encouraging all children to reach their highest achievement level.

Young girls, as well as young boys, should be recognized for their intelligence and encouraged to pursue science, technology, engineering and math studies – the rest of the world will benefit.

The research can't explain how these messages are getting to kids or how they could be changed, says Andrei Cimpian, a professor of psychology at New York University and an author of the study, He is planning a long-term study of young children that would measure environmental factors, including media exposure and parental beliefs. That would give a better idea of what factors predict the emergence of stereotypes, and what levers are available to change attitudes.

The study was published in the journal Science.

Story sources:  Ed Yong, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/01/six-year-old-girls-already-have-gendered-beliefs-about-intelligence/514340/

Katherine Hobson, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/01/26/511801423/young-girls-are-less-apt-to-think-women-are-really-really-smart

Nick Anderson, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/01/26/research-shows-young-girls-are-less-likely-to-think-of-women-as-really-really-smart/?utm_term=.fc30e9030500&wpisrc=nl_sb_smartbrief

 

Your Child

What Age Can Your Child Safely Cross the Street Unaccompanied?

1:45

Do you remember what age you were when you were finally allowed to cross the street by yourself? Me neither. A new study finds that crossing a busy street requires calculations that are typically too complex for kids under the age of 14 to master.

In simulated experiments, University of Iowa researchers found children lack the perceptual judgment and physical skills needed to consistently get across safely.

"Some people think younger children may be able to perform like adults when crossing the street," said study corresponding author Jodie Plumert, a professor of psychological and brain sciences.

"Our study shows that's not necessarily the case on busy roads where traffic doesn't stop," Plumert said in a university news release.

There are records that show how dangerous crossing a busy street can be for young ones.  In 2014, there were 8,000 injuries and 207 deaths involving motor vehicles and pedestrians aged 14 and younger in the United States, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis.

In this study, researchers used a realistic simulated setting to assess the ability of children ages 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14 years to cross one lane of a busy road.

The younger children consistently had difficulty crossing the street safely, with accident rates as high as 8 percent among 6-year-olds. Even 10-year-olds were struck 5 percent of the time, and 12-year-olds, 2 percent of the time, the findings showed. 

Only the 14-year-olds consistently crossed the street safely, according to the study authors.

Children have difficulty judging how faraway cars are from them as they look down the street- as well as how fast the car is moving.  The younger the child, the less his or her motor skills are developed, making a misjudgment more likely and a stumble or fall more of a possibility. Excitement or eagerness to get to the other side of the street can also affect their judgment.

"They get the pressure of not wanting to wait combined with these less-mature abilities," Plumert said. "And that's what makes it a risky situation."

Teach your children to be patient and encourage them to choose traffic gaps that are even larger than the gaps adults would choose for themselves, the researchers suggested.

Safekids.org offers these tips for teaching your child how to safely cross the road:

  1. Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across.
  2. Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers.
  3. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. 
  4. Make sure children under 14 cross the street with an adult.
  5. Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.

By age 12, kids are getting the hang of checking and judging distance and speeds – but their maturity level and eagerness to get to the other side still needs working on.

Every child is different and these results indicate an average. 

The study results were published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

Story source: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/child-safety-news-587/at-what-age-can-kids-safely-cross-the-street-721785.html

https://www.safekids.org/walkingsafelytips

Your Child

The Most Common Childhood Injuries

2:00

Like many folks, most of my injuries happened when I was a child. Kids - with their excess energy - like to run, climb, jump, hide, swim, dive, bike, rollerblade, skateboard, and fall from heights – to name just a few activities!

Hands, elbows, and knees are the places most likely to get hurt. You can treat minor bumps and bruises at home.

For cuts and scrapes, rinse the area under running water until it’s clean. You can use mild soap. Apply some antibiotic ointment and cover it with a bandage. Call the doctor if the cut is large, deep, or if the area becomes red and swollen, or you see pus -- these are signs of infection. 

For bruises, soothe the swelling with an ice pack wrapped in a wet cloth. If your kid has trouble walking or moving, or the swelling doesn’t go down, call the doctor.

A relatively new phenomenon in kids’ injuries is back and shoulder problems from carrying backpacks. If your child lugs around a backpack that’s too heavy or carries it on one shoulder, he or she can develop back, neck, and shoulder pain, along with posture problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids always use two shoulder straps, and backpacks shouldn’t weigh more than 10% to 20% of the child’s body weight. (You can use the bathroom scale: If your child weighs 80 pounds, the backpack should weigh between 8 and 16 pounds.)

What child doesn’t eventually pick up a splinter in the hand? It’s relatively easy fix if you can keep your child’s hand steady. Use a needle sterilized with rubbing alcohol to gently prick the skin over it, then pull it out with clean tweezers. If that doesn’t work, try touching the area with tape to see if that helps get it out. Once the splinter is removed, use an antibiotic ointment to help keep it from getting infected.

Various sports can cause strains and sprains in young athletes.  Baseball, soccer, gymnastics, football, tennis, even golf can lead to torn muscles, ligaments and tendons.

If it happens to your kid, they’ll need to rest the injured location.. Apply ice, wrap it snugly, and keep it raised. Over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help. Call the doctor if he or she can’t walk or move the injured area. It could be broken, and may need to be X-rayed.

Fractures are more serious. They can happen in a variety of ways. Skateboard, monkey bar and bicycle falls as well as many contacts sports can lead to broken bones. Breaks are most common in arms because it’s natural to throw your hands out to try to break a fall. The area will swell and be painful to press on or move. Call 911 if you can see the bone through the skin. If you suspect your child has broken a bone, take him or her to an ER.

Concussions are a hot topic and unfortunately, a fairly common injury. Kids in the U.S. have 1 million to 2 million sports and recreation-related head injuries each year. For children under 14, the top causes are cycling, football, baseball, basketball, and skateboards or scooters. If your child has taken a hit to the head, keep an eye on him. Symptoms of concussion usually show up right away, but not always. 

Call the doctor immediately if your child loses consciousness, appears dazed, or complains of blurry vision or a headache that won’t go away.

A busted mouth and broken teeth are painful, but not unique as a childhood injury. It’s probably a good thing we get two sets of teeth. Another common childhood injury is broken, chipped, and knocked-out teeth. Nearly 50% of kids will have some type of tooth accident during childhood. The reasons: trips, falls, sports, and, yes, fights. The front teeth take the brunt of it. 

Call the dentist if a tooth is broken, loose, or sensitive. If a baby tooth is completely knocked out, don’t try to place it back in the gums. But if it’s a permanent tooth, rinse it with clean water, put it back in the socket as fast as possible, and head to the dentist. It may save the tooth.

There are other injuries that childhood enthusiasm can produce, but these are some of the most common. Fortunately, most of us survive this chaotic time with bumps, bruises and maybe a few stiches. Anytime you’re uncertain about how severe your child’s injury may be; it’s best to have him or her checked out by a doctor.

Story source: http://www.webmd.com/children/ss/slideshow-kids-injuries

Your Child

Study: Bedtime Routine Offers Kids Many Benefits

1:45

If your child doesn’t have a nightly bedtime routine, he or she is missing out on a tremendous amount of health and behavioral benefits according to a new study. And you’re not alone.

A multinational study consisting of over 10,000 mothers from 14 counties reported that less than 50 percent of their infants, toddlers and preschoolers had a regular bedtime routine every night.

Researchers determined that the participant’s children who did have a regular bedtime routine benefitted on many levels. The study found that children with a consistent bedtime routine had better sleep outcomes, including earlier bedtimes, shorter amount of time in bed before falling asleep, reduced night waking, and increased sleep duration. Children with a bedtime routine every night slept for an average of more than an hour longer per night than children who never had a bedtime routine. Institution of a regular bedtime routine also was associated with decreased sleep problems and daytime behavior problems, as perceived by mothers.


“Creating a bedtime routine for a child is a simple step that every family can do,” said principal investigator and lead author Jodi Mindell, PhD, professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and associate director of the Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It can pay off to not only make bedtime easier, but also that a child is likely to sleep better throughout the entire night.”

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, positive bedtime routines involve the institution of a set sequence of pleasurable and calming activities preceding a child’s bedtime. The goal is to establish a behavioral chain leading up to sleep onset. Activities may include giving your child a soothing bath, brushing teeth and reading a bedtime story.

“It’s important that parents create a consistent sleep schedule, relaxing bedtime routine and soothing sleep environment to help their child achieve healthy sleep,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler.


Researchers found that consistency was an important factor in helping children sleep well

“For each additional night that a family is able to institute a bedtime routine, and the younger that the routine is started, the better their child is likely to sleep,” said Mindell. “It’s like other healthy practices:  Doing something just one day a week is good, doing it for three days a week is better, and doing it every day is best.”

Mothers participated in the study by completing a validated, online questionnaire that included specific questions about their child’s daytime and nighttime sleep patterns, bedtime routines and behavior. The questionnaire was translated into each language and back-translated to check for accuracy.

“The other surprising finding is that we found that this effect was universal,” said Mindell.  “It doesn’t matter if you are a parent of a young child in the United States, India, or China, having a bedtime routine makes a difference.”

Sleep deprivation is becoming an all too common problem with today’s children and adults. The earlier a good sleep routine can be established and practiced, the better for a child in the long run.

Study results are published in the May issue of the journal Sleep.

Source: http://www.healthcanal.com/disorders-conditions/sleep/63298-study-shows-that-children-sleep-better-when-they-have-a-nightly-bedtime-routine.html

Your Child

Yearly Flu Shot Could Stop Most Flu-Related Deaths in Kids

2:00

A simple yearly flu shot could prevent most flu-related deaths in children, according to a new study.

While the flu season is winding down, research shows that parents need to remember the benefits flu shots offer, when it rolls around again next fall.

Scientists found that about three-quarters of U.S. kids who died of flu complications between 2010 and 2014 were unvaccinated before they fell ill.

If all children got their yearly flu shot, 65 percent of those deaths could be prevented, the researchers estimated.

Experts said the findings support what health officials already recommend; adults and children age 6 months and up should be vaccinated ahead of every flu season.

It’s not a common occurrence, but children can die of the flu. When it does happen, "it's a tragedy," said Brendan Flannery, a researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who led the study.

"People often don't consider the flu to be very serious," Flannery said. "But it can be, and even children can die."

Healthy kids can become seriously ill and develop complications such as pneumonia. The risk is higher among children with certain medical conditions, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.

Flannery's team found that a flu shot could cut the risk of death among both healthy kids and those with "high-risk" medical conditions.

The findings are based on 358 children and teenagers who died of a flu infection that was confirmed by laboratory testing, over four flu seasons. Only one-quarter had been vaccinated -- though the rate was higher among kids with underlying medical conditions.

Of 153 children with high-risk conditions, 31 percent had gotten a flu shot.

The researchers then compared those kids with three large groups of U.S. children whose flu vaccination rates had been tracked. Overall, 48 percent of these children had been vaccinated for flu, the study found.

On average, the CDC team estimated, 65 percent of flu-related deaths could be prevented if all U.S. kids got their yearly flu shot. Among children with high-risk medical conditions, the vaccine could cut the risk of death in half.

While the flu vaccine isn’t foolproof, it typically reduces the risk of getting the flu or makes it less severe. The flu vaccine has to be reformulated each year, depending on the most dominant strain of virus.

"With an imperfect vaccine, we'll still see deaths from the flu," Flannery said. "But vaccination does reduce the risk."

Despite that, many U.S. children -- even those with high-risk medical conditions -- go unvaccinated.

One likely reason, Offit said, is that it's a yearly shot. That makes it inconvenient, he noted -- but also, to some people, "implies that it's not very good."

Flannery agreed that some people believe the flu shot does not work. To some extent, he said, that's due to uncertainty about what the flu is: Some people confuse it with the common cold, or even a stomach infection. If they fall ill with those infections after getting a flu shot, they think the vaccine didn't work.

The flu vaccine can help prevent hospitalizations, time off work for parents and a lot of misery for the kids, Flannery noted.

In addition, some parents worry about the vaccine's safety, particularly if their child has a chronic health condition.

But, Flannery stressed, "the vaccine is recommended for children with high-risk medical conditions because it is safe."

In the U.S., flu season usually runs between October and April.

The findings were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Amy Norton, https://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/most-u-s-kids-who-die-from-flu-are-unvaccinated-721195.html

 

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