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Your Child

Helping Children Cope With Frightening News Events

2:30

Gone are the days when most Americans got their news from 3 or 4 sources around the evening dinner hour. Today, thousands of news reports (some real, some fake) instantly flood our phones, computers, TVs and radios, sometimes with real time graphic images.

While some news events may be difficult for even adults to comprehend (with all our life experience and knowledge about current affairs), children don’t have that advantage when they hear and see things that feel threatening to their safety and family stability.

The Journal of American Medical Association, (JAMA) Pediatrics, has published a free online patient’s page dedicated to How to Talk to Your Children About Tragedies in the News.

The amount of information available on current events is almost instant. Sometimes parents don’t have a chance to screen what their children see and hear, so it’s important to know how to talk with your children about what they are experiencing.

The JAMA article is broken down into different age groups. Your approach should differ depending on your child’s age and ability to understand complicated situations.

A good place to start in discussing a tragic event is by asking what your child has already heard. After you listen carefully, you can ask what questions they have. It is important to be honest about what happened and to focus on the basics. It is not necessary to share every detail, and it is important to avoid speculating about what might happen next. Listen closely to your child for misinformation or underlying fears. Remind your child that you are there for him or her and will keep them safe. A key underlying message for parents to convey is, “It is ok if this bothers you; we are here to support each other.”

For very young children, news events can be frightening because they don’t understand context. Children may wonder; is this going to happen to us? Is this happening in our neighborhood? Are my friends ok? Are we next? News media coverage can include graphic images and sounds. It is best to share information with children by discussing it rather than showing the media coverage. Young children may have more questions about whether they are truly safe and may need help separating fantasy from reality. Some children may become clingy or regress in behavior such as wetting the bed or sucking their thumbs. It is important to be patient and to support your child if he or she reacts in this way. Do not ignore your child’s fears or brush them off. Realize that children see the world from a different perspective.

For older children and teenagers, it may be more difficult to avoid exposure to these events in the news. Kids on social media outlets often see stories and videos on their phones while at school or out with friends.- before you have a chance to preview the news. When there is a concerning news event and you have the opportunity, try to preview it before showing it to them so that you know what to expect and what key points to discuss. Then watch it together. Older children and teenagers may want more information about the tragedy and the recovery efforts. They may have opinions about the causes as well as suggestions to prevent future tragedies or a desire to help those in need. Listen to what they say and validate their concerns. If they’ve already seen something tragic, again, ask them what they think about it and talk about their concerns and what they see as a next step in coping.

Other ways you can help your child manage unsettling news are:

  • Be a calm presence. It is okay for children to see adults be sad or cry, but consider excusing yourself if you experience intense emotions.
  • Reassure your child of his or her safety. Consider reviewing your family’s plans for responding to an emergency.
  • Maintain the routine. To give your child a sense of normalcy, keep up your family’s usual dinner, homework, and bedtime routine.
  • Spend extra time together. This can foster your child’s sense of security. Encourage your child to express his or her feelings.
  • When possible, do something to help. Consider ways that you and your family can help survivors and their families.

Like adults, some children may have difficulty with events for a variety of unexpected reasons. Think back to 9-11. How many of us were prepared to watch the towers collapse and the horror and anguish of the families that were missing relatives and friends in the buildings? How we feared that there was a possibility that our country was under attack. It was one of the most devastating events our country has ever experienced in the modern age of instant media information.

Time has helped us put that day in perspective, but the repeated showing of the planes flying into the towers gave many Americans PSTD symptoms. It was almost too much to comprehend. Remember that when your child is scared or anxious about a current event. Help them realize that tragedies do happen, but we can and most often, do survive.

Some signs that a child is not coping well include sleep problems, physical complaints such as feeling tired, having a headache or stomachache, or just feeling unwell. Changes in behavior may include regressive behavior such as acting more immature or being less patient, and mental health concerns like sadness or heightened depression or anxiety. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a child is reacting in a typical way to a tragic event or if there is something else going on.

Talk with your child’s pediatrician if you are concerned about your child’s reaction.

These are uncertain times. Everyone seems to be a bit on edge, wondering when the next shoe will drop. Have a plan on how to talk to your youngster about current events. Most of all have patience and be a good example of calmness and reassurance; that no matter what happens, you have their best interests at heart.

Story source: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2646851

 

Your Child

Early Treatment For Dyslexia

1.45

If your child has dyslexia, he or she is not alone.  Dyslexia is a reading disorder that happens when the brain doesn’t properly recognize and process certain symbols. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, spelling, and writing difficulty and about 70%-80% of all people with poor reading skills are likely to be dyslexic.

The good news is that dyslexia is treatable. Students who receive specialized education often thrive. Most dyslexics are of average or above average intelligence and just need to be taught in a different manner. In fact, many individuals that have dyslexia also show extraordinary skills in other areas to compensate for the difficulties in reading and spelling.

A new study from Italy found that the learning disability might be linked to problems with children’s visual attention. Researchers said their findings could lead to earlier diagnosis and new treatments for those with the condition.

"Visual attention deficits are surprisingly way more predictive of future reading disorders than are language abilities at the pre-reading stage," Andrea Facoetti, of the University of Padua, said in a journal news release.

Researchers followed children in Italy for three years beginning when they were in kindergarten and just starting to learn to read. They continued their study till the children were in second grade. The scientists analyzed the children’s visual spatial attention, or their ability to distinguish between what is relevant and what is irrelevant, by asking them to identify certain symbols while they were being distracted. The children were also given tests on syllable identification, verbal short-term memory and rapid color naming.

The study found that children who had problems with visual attention also had trouble reading, the researchers said.

"This is a radical change to the theoretical framework explaining dyslexia," Facoetti said. "It forces us to rewrite what is known about the disorder and to change rehabilitation treatments in order to reduce its impact."

The study's authors stated that simple visual-attention tasks would help identify children at risk for dyslexia early on. "Because recent studies show that specific pre-reading programs can improve reading abilities, children at risk for dyslexia could be treated with preventive remediation programs of visual spatial attention before they learn to read," the researchers said in the news release.

The study was published online in the journal Current Biology.

Children with dyslexia who are not diagnosed early may grow frustrated and show signs of depression and low self –esteem. MedicineNet.com has an excellent review of dyslexia with causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

Sources: http://news.yahoo.com/study-suggests-treating-dyslexia-kids-learn-read-160311968.html

http://www.medicinenet.com/dyslexia/article.htm

Your Child

Young Baseball Pitchers Playing With Pain

2:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Child

Your Kindergartener’s First Day at School

2:00

Whether it’s your little one’s first time, or your child is a seasoned pro, the first day of school brings both excitement and apprehension. It’s not only kids who are slightly hyperventilating… parents are too. Why? Because school is a big deal!

Let’s start with Kindergarten. It doesn’t get much cuter than to see the excitement on a kindergartner’s face on the first day of school.  Between experiencing a certain amount of separation anxiety and their first taste of independence, these little ones are spinning in multiple directions. That’s one reason mom or dad needs to keep their cool - you can cry in the car on the way home.

Some schools offer parents and children a “get to know your school” pre-school visit. If you and your child have the opportunity to visit the school in advance – take it!

The more familiar your child is with the school, the better at calming his or her anxieties on the first day. It’s also good for mom and dad to be acquainted with the teacher and the lay out of the school before your little one starts class.

On the big day, try and arrive a little early. Introduce yourself and your child to the teacher.

Help your little one get the lay of the land. Show him where the bathroom is and explain that they can go anytime they need to- but they will need to ask the teacher first. Also mention that sometimes accidents happen, and that teachers know this. Some schools will ask parents to bring an extra set of underwear and clothing to be kept in the child’s locker for such occasions.

Lunchtime is going to be an unfamiliar experience for these first-timers. You can ease their fears by taking them to the school cafeteria and letting them know that their teacher will tell them when it’s time for lunch. Explain how some children will bring their lunch from home, and some will get their lunch from the cafeteria line. Let them know that they will get to sit with the other children in their class.

Another tip to help your child understand how lunchtime will work is by taking her to a cafeteria-style restaurant before the school year begins. Explain how once they start school, lunchtime will be kind of like eating at a cafeteria. It can also be a good time to talk about healthy food choices.

If you’re going to pack a lunch for your child, begin a couple of weeks before school starts and practice the routine. You can get their input on what kinds of foods they might like and experiment with some healthy choices to see which ones they like the best.

You can also explain that there may be a naptime during the day. They don’t have to actually go to sleep, but they may get a chance to lie down on a cot and rest.

Let your child know that either you or another caregiver will pick them up from school at a certain time. If your child rides the bus, explain the process and how the adults will make sure they are kept safe.

Also, have a backup plan in case someone is going to be late or cannot pick your child up. Give the school a list of people you will allow to pick up your child when you can’t make it.

When it’s time to say goodbye, smile, wave and encourage your child to have a great day. The more relaxed you are, the less threatened your child will feel. Some children get very clingy and start crying – it’s a natural first-day-at-school- reaction to unfamiliar surroundings and circumstances. This may go on for a week or so. Teachers are pros at helping parents say good-bye. Enlist their help. Also know that some kids head off to class without even looking back. It's not a reflection on you- it's just that some personalities are always excited about a new adventure. 

As the school year progresses there will be lots of conversations about school and all the changes it brings. Remember to stay positive and give easy to understand information that correlates to your child’s age.

Stay informed on how your child is doing at school. You may want to set up a meeting with his or her teacher on a regular basis.

Once you’ve said good-bye and you’re out of the school building -go ahead and fall apart. It’s natural for parents to have some of the same emotions that their child is having. Your little one is growing up and has just passed an important milestone in life. You have too.

Source: Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/14244318/ns/today-back_to_school/t/tips-calm-your-childs-first-day-jitters/#.TlPNHHO1lvE

Your Child

Healthier Choices for Students in School Lunch Lines

1:30

School lunches have changed over the years and in many school cafeterias, food options are healthier than ever before, according to a new study.

Elementary school cafeterias are offering more vegetables, fresh fruit, salad bars, whole grains and more healthy pizzas, while the availability of high-fat milks, fried potatoes and regular pizza has decreased, researchers report.

"School food service programs have worked hard to improve the nutritional quality of school lunches, and largely have been very successful," said lead researcher Lindsey Turner, director of the Initiative for Healthy Schools at Boise State University, in Idaho.

Although in some schools food choices are improving, that’s not the case everywhere. Turner noted that more work needs to be done to make sure every student has the same healthy choices in the lunch line.

In the study of more than 4,600 elementary schools that are part of the U.S. National School Lunch Program, researchers found that school lunches improved significantly between 2006-2007 and 2013-2014.

Despite improvements in food choices, disparities were still found. For example, schools in the West were more likely to offer salad bars than schools in the Northeast, Midwest or South, the researchers found.

Schools with a majority of black or Hispanic children were less likely to offer fresh fruit than schools with a preponderance of white students.

Also, schools in poor areas were less likely to offer salads regularly.

Over the course of the study, Midwestern schools slightly reduced offering pre-made salads in favor of salad bars, but Southern schools were more likely to offer pre-made salads and less likely to have salad bars, the researchers found.

On the other side of offering healthier foods is choosing to eat those foods. Just because there are better food options available, doesn’t mean that kids will eat them. One expert noted that it takes time and effort for kids to change their eating habits. It not only has to look good, it has to taste good.

"It is not only important to improve the quality of school lunches but to make these foods attractive, tasty, easily seen and accessible," said Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center, in New York City.

Studies have found that putting fresh fruit in a nice bowl, in a conveniently located, well-lit area in the school cafeteria increased sales of fruit by 102 percent, she noted.

"A brightly lit, hot-and-cold salad bar filled with colorful fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts, mushroom and spinach pizza, and veggie tacos center-stage in the lunchroom would be very attractive to students and staff alike," Heller said.

This approach works well at home, too, she added.

"Kids are more likely to grab healthy foods like cut-up melon, carrots, peppers, edamame and hummus when they are upfront and easy to grab in the fridge," Heller said.

The study was published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Story source: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/food-and-nutrition-news-316/america-s-school-lunches-getting-healthier-study-709097.html

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

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

 

Your Child

Pre-teen Cholesterol Check-Up

1.45 to read

Do you know your child’s cholesterol level? Unless you have a family history of high cholesterol, getting your child’s checked probably hasn’t been high on your list of medical exams.

A panel of experts appointed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, are recommending that children be tested for high cholesterol by age eleven. They also recommend that children who are overweight, be screened every 2 years for diabetes.

Major medical groups already suggest children, with a family history of high cholesterol or diabetes, be screened early. Children without a family history of heart disease or diabetes have traditionally not been screened until their later years. Times have changed though and because of the childhood obesity epidemic many kids are developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes at a much younger age.

Fats build up in the heart arteries in the first and second decade of life but usually don't start hardening the arteries until people are in their 20s and 30s, said one of the guideline panel members, Dr. Elaine Urbina, director of preventive cardiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

"If we screen at age 20, it may be already too late," she said. "To me it's not controversial at all. We should have been doing this for years."

An alarming statistic shows how destructive childhood obesity has become. Autopsy studies show that children already have signs of heart disease, long before they show symptoms. By the fourth grade, 10 percent to 13 percent of U.S. children have high cholesterol, defined as a score of 200 or more.

According to the National Cholesterol Education Program's Expert Panel on Blood Cholesterol in Children and Adolescents, the acceptable level for total cholesterol in kids 2 to 19 years old is less than 170 mg/dL. Their LDL cholesterol should be less than 110 mg/dL, HDL levels should be 35 mg/dL or greater, but preferably over 60, and triglycerides should be 150 mg/dL or less.

Doctors recommend screening between ages 9 and 11 because cholesterol dips during puberty and rises later. They also advise testing again later, between ages 17 and 21.

The rise in Type 2 diabetes, in children, has also increased in the last decade. It is hard to detect type 2 diabetes in children, because it can go undiagnosed for a long time; children may have no symptoms or mild symptoms; and because blood tests are needed for diagnosis. That’s why early screening is so important.

The guidelines also say doctors should:

  • Take yearly blood pressure measurements for children starting at age 3.
  • Start routine anti-smoking advice when kids are ages 5 to 9, and counsel parents of infants not to smoke in the home.
  • Review infants' family history of obesity and start tracking body mass index, or BMI, a measure of obesity, at age 2.

There has been some controversy over doctors using terms like overweight and obese when talking with parents and children about their weight. The panel suggests that these are medically correct terms and should be used so that parents and children understand the importance of the problem.

Children whose BMI is in the 85th to 95th percentile should be called overweight, not "at risk for overweight," and kids whose BMI is in the 95th percentile or higher should be called obese, not "overweight; even kids as young as age 2, the panel said.

"Some might feel that 'obese' is an unacceptable term for children and parents," so doctors should "use descriptive terminology that is appropriate for each child and family," the guidelines recommend.

They were released online by the journal Pediatrics.

Your Child

Playing With Food May Help Picky Eaters

2:00

If your child is a picky eater, encouraging them to play with their food may help them overcome the reluctance to try new foods according to a new study.

Researchers in the United Kingdom asked a group of 70 children – ages 2 to 5 – to play with mushy, slimy food while their parents observed, watching to see if kids would happily use their hands to search for a toy soldier buried at the bottom of a bowl of mashed potatoes or jelly. Children who wouldn't use their hands were offered a spoon.

Parents and researchers each rated how happy the kids were to get their hands dirty on a scale of one to five, with a higher number indicating more enjoyment. Children could get a total score as high as 20, a tally of the scores from researchers and parents for play with both the mashed potatoes and the jelly.

Researchers also gave parents a questionnaire to assess children's so-called tactile sensitivity, quizzing them about things like whether kids disliked going barefoot in the sand and grass or avoided getting messy.

The study found that kids who liked playing with their food were less likely to have food neophobia (the fear of trying something new) or tactile sensitivity.

"Although this is just an association, the implication is that getting children to play with messy substances may help their food acceptance," lead study author Helen Coulthard, a psychology researcher at De Montfort University in Leicester, U.K., told Reuters Health by email.

Previous research has linked food neophobia to limited fruit and vegetable consumption. Courtland and her team wanted to see if they could establish a link between touching food and tasting unfamiliar foods.

Courtland suggested that parents of picky eaters begin introducing new foods to their child by creating “food art.” Food art is making pictures or images with different foods on a plate.  The first step is letting your child make a picture or design by arranging various colored foods on the plate.  Don’t pressure them to taste their creation, but wait till they are ready to give it a try. Make it a game and eventually begin encouraging them to taste what they have created. Start small and expand to larger food groups and pictures.

Offering as much variety as possible from a young age also helps children experience lots of textures and flavors, which may minimize their fear of unfamiliar foods.

You’re probably going to have to join in on the taste experimentation to show how good these food pictures taste! You might also take a picture of your child with their creation on your phone and then show it to them – to make it a little more fun.

It’s fairly normal for kids to go through a period of refusing to try new foods, though most kids will grow out of this phase by the time they start school. However, there are some children that carry new food aversion on into adulthood. It isn't necessarily harmful as long as the children maintain a healthy weight for their height, pediatricians say.

But over time, neophobia can make it very difficult to enjoy social engagements. Parents that have a hard time trying or enjoying new foods themselves too often pass that trait onto their own children.  Most of the time it’s just a phase that kids go through and finding creative ways to help them work through it eliminates the problem.

Source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/19/us-food-fears-children-idUSKBN0O41MD20150519

 

 

 

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