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Your Child

Back-to-School Wellness Checkup

2:00

A new school year is coming up fast and now is the time to make sure your child has a wellness physical.

If you take care of school-aged children, you know that’s just one reason to schedule a back-to-school physical. Your school district will have specific guidelines; for some, the annual physical is mandatory. Most districts also need proof of up-to-date immunizations before your child can enter certain grades.

Setting aside time for a general health checkup will allow the doctor to thoroughly assess your child’s physical and psycho-social development, and provide an opportunity to answer your questions. Check your health insurance for well visits to make sure you’re covered. You can also see what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for a wellness physical at https://www.aap.org/en-us/Pages/Default.aspx.

What can you expect from a back-to-school checkup?

The physical aspect of the exam should include an assessment of:

  • Spinal alignment to rule out scoliosis.
  • Eyes, ears, nose, skin, and mouth for any abnormalities that may need follow-up
  • Fine and gross motor development
  • Height and weight
  • Blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reflexes

Children at risk for lead poisoning or tuberculosis may be screened for those issues, and kids who are overweight or with a family history of high cholesterol may have their cholesterol checked.

Sexually active teenagers should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases, and girls should have a pelvic exam. Your doctor should also talk to older children about what to expect as their bodies begin to change at puberty.

While your at the doctor’s office, have them look at your child’s immunization records to make sure everything is up to date. If not, see if your child can get the necessary vaccines.

Sometimes, a psychological and behavioral exam, based on the child’s age, is included. The doctor should ask questions about school performance, including achievements or difficulties, and also about friendships and socialization.

Expect that your doctor may also talk about injury prevention, such as requiring your child to wear a bike helmet and protective gear when playing sports; safely storing firearms in your home; and making wise health decisions regarding drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

Before visiting the pediatrician:

  • Make a list of the questions you want to ask. It’s easy to forget some of your questions once you’re in the office.
  • Remind your doctor if your child is homeschooled so they will include vision and hearing screenings in the visit (these are typically done at school).
  • Request age-appropriate nutrition counseling if you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes, or obesity or weight issues.
  • Direct your young athlete’s exam toward sports issues, such as training, nutrition, and exercise, and ask about signs of overuse injuries.
  • Maintain a regular schedule of well visits so your child will develop a trusting relationship with your pediatrician. This will enhance continuity of care, and the doctor will be able to assess conditions more readily because they’ll have a well-established baseline of information about your child.

Many schools will begin classes by late August or early September. Now’s the time to make sure your little one is all set to go!

Story source: Lynda Shrager, http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/lynda-shrager-the-organized-caregiver/5-tips-for-a-successful-back-to-school-checkup/

Your Child

Lice Is Going Around

How to treat lice.I keep hearing that there are lice out there! Lice are a part of childhood, albeit the gross part, but it really has nothing to do with where you live or go to school or how often your kids take their baths, its about hair.

Lice are obligate human parasites and require a human scalp to live, they can only live off the host for 6 -25 hours.  Lice most commonly infect children between the ages of 3 – 12 years and there estimated to be between 6 – 12 million cases of lice in children per year. So, if your child has lice, you are not alone!  Transmission of the louse is most commonly from close personal contact especially head to head.

Lice do not have wings so they are not flying around a classroom or on the playground.  The most recent issue with lice is that they are becoming resistant to the over the counter products like Rid and Ni, which have been the gold standard for years. These are still used for first line treatment, as well as removing the nits (egg casings) from the hair with a nit comb. It is often easiest to do this with a dark towel or sheet draped over your child’s shoulders so that you can see the nits as they are coming off of the hair shaft.  It is very hard to see nits in light hair.   Nix and Rid do not kill the eggs, so it is recommended that a second application be used in a week to 10 days. Once you have treated your child appropriately they may return to school, there are no longer “no nit policies”. If you notice that your child still has lice after a couple of days despite appropriate over the counter treatment, call your doctor. Don’t try to smother the lice with mayo, olive oil, Vaseline  or a shower cap, as lice don’t have lungs, so this does not work!  Never think about applying  kerosene to the child’s  hair or even shaving their heads. There are some newer treatments available. I have had success using Ovide, which is only available by prescription in the United States (but is an OTC product in the UK, in case you are traveling).  Another new product, Ulesfia, is also available. It is made of benzyl alcohol and inhibits the louse respiratory spiracles (no lungs remember) and thereby does result in asphyxiation of the louse. The only problem with this product is that it takes quite a few bottles to cover a child with a thick head of hair, and this may make it cost prohibitive. Another product that is being used in Canada (again if you are wanting to pick up some lice treatment while away) is Resultz which is isopropyl myristate, and it is in phase 3 trials in the US.  Other products such as Bactrim and Ivermectin have been used “of label” with some success. At time parent’s are willing to travel to Canada to find “the cure” as they become so frustrated with re-occuring lice problems. Remind your children not to share combs, bows, hats etc with their friends.  Lastly, some people advocate treating all household contacts (even without symptoms of itchy head) to eliminate an outbreak within a family. Now, stop scratching your head.  We'll chat again tomorrow!

Your Child

What is a “Growth Plate” Fracture?

1:45

If you’ve ever taken your child to the ER for a broken bone, you may have heard the doctor mention the possibility of a growth plate fracture. What are growth plates? They are areas of soft tissue at the ends of your child's long bones. They are found in many places, including the thigh, forearm, and hand. 

Only children have growth plates because they are still developing. Once your child stops growing, the plates turn into bone. This typically happens around age 20.

Because the growth plates are soft, they're easily injured. When that happens it's called a "growth plate fracture."

These kinds of injuries usually heal easily, however, there can be complications if they are not treated correctly or the injury is severe.

Some complications can produce what is called “growth arrest.” That is when the injury causes his or her bone to stop growing. A child may end up with one leg or arm shorter than the other.

Your child's likely to get crooked legs or one leg shorter than the other if his growth plates were damaged at his knee. That's because there are a lot of nerves and blood vessels in that area that can be hurt along with the growth plate.

Sometimes, a growth plate fracture can also cause the bone to grow more, but this has the same result: One limb ends up longer than the other.

A less common problem is when a ridge develops along the fracture line. This can also interfere with the bone's growth or cause it to curve.

If the bone is sticking out of the skin, there's also a chance of infection, which can damage the growth plate even more.

Younger children are more likely to get complications because their bones still have a lot of growing to do. But one benefit is that younger bones tend to heal better.

There are treatments for growth plate injuries. If the fracture isn’t severe and the bone is still lined up correctly, your child's doctor might just put on a cast, splint, or brace. Your child won't be able to move his limb that way, which gives the growth plate time and space to heal.

What if the bones are not lined up correctly? Your child’s doctor will have to get them back in alignment by what is called “reduction.” Sometimes a doctor can line the bones back up by hand and sometimes it requires surgery.

If by hand, the doctor moves the bones back in line with his hands and not by cutting the skin. This is called "manipulation" and can be done in the emergency room or an operating room. Your child will get pain medication so he doesn't feel anything.

If your child needs surgery, It gets a little more complicated and takes anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple of months to heal. During surgery, the doctor cuts into the skin, puts the bones back in line, and puts in screws, wires, rods, pins, or metal plates to hold the pieces together. Your child will have to wear a cast until the bones heal.

If a ridge forms at the fracture line, your child's doctor may recommend surgery to remove the ridge. He can then pad the area with fat or another material to keep it from growing back.

Most of the time, kids get back to normal after a growth plate fracture without any lasting effects. One exception is if the growth plate is crushed. When that happens, the bone will almost always grow differently.

Once the injury has healed, your doctor may suggest exercises to strengthen the injured area.

Some children may need a second surgery called reconstructive surgery if the injury is serious enough.

If your child suffers a growth plate injury, he or she should have follow-up appointments for at least a year.  Once your doctor gives the OK, your child will be able to get back to the kinds of activities he or she enjoys.

Story source: Hansa D. Bhargava, MD, http://www.webmd.com/children/child-bone-fracture-16/growth-plate-fracture

 

Your Child

Exercise: Reducing Depression - Behavioral Problems in Kids

2:00

Two new studies examined whether kids that have serious behavioral disorders or who may be at a higher risk for depression might benefit from exercise. The results showed positive outcomes for both sets of children participating in the studies.

For one study, researchers focused on children and teenagers with conditions that included autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.

They looked at whether structured exercise during the school day -- in the form of stationary "cybercycles" -- could help ease students' behavioral issues in the classroom. Cybercycles are stationary bikes equipped with virtual reality exercising games.

Over a period of seven weeks, the study found it did. Kids were about one-third to 50 percent less likely to act out in class, compared to a seven-week period when they took standard gym classes.

Lead researcher, April Bowling, said the results were meaningful.

"On days that the students biked, they were less likely to be taken out of the classroom for unacceptable behavior," said Bowling, who is now an assistant professor of health sciences at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass.

"That's important for their learning, and for their relationships with their teachers and other kids in class," she said.

The study was done at a school that enrolls kids with behavioral health disorders, many of whom also have learning disabilities. Their usual gym classes focused mainly on skill building, with only short bursts of aerobic activity at most, according to the researchers.

For seven weeks, 103 students used the stationary bikes during their usual gym class -- twice a week, for 30 to 40 minutes. Their classroom behavior was tracked and compared with a seven-week period without the bikes, when they had gym class as usual.

Overall, the study found, the students were better able to control their behavior in the classroom during the stationary-bike trial.

Another recent study from Norway, adds more evidence to the benefits of exercise in children. Researchers from Norwegian University of Science and Technology measured activity levels in 800 six year olds who were asked about their exercise habits and any depressive symptoms. Follow ups were recorded at 8 and 10 years of age. Overall, children who exercised more, at a moderate to vigorous intensity, showed fewer depressive symptoms years later.

While the researchers noted that exercise alone isn’t a cure for depression, it has been shown to alleviate some depression symptoms.

“I think that physicians, parents and policy makers should facilitate physical activity among children,” says Tonje Zahl, the study’s lead author. “The focus should be on physical activity not just for the here and now benefits, such as improving blood pressure, heart rate and other physical benefits, but for the mental health benefits over the long term,” she says. All children should be targeted for this, she adds.

Experts say there are several theories as to why exercise may help kids control their behaviors. Bowling suggests that exercise may redirect the brain away from worrying.

Another theory is that exercise affects neurotransmitters -- chemical messengers in the brain that help regulate mood and behavior.

Bowling notes that it’s unfortunate that many schools are focusing so much on academics that they are cutting out gym and recess.

"If we really want our kids to do well, they need more movement during the school day, not less", she said

If children are unable to get the exercise they need at school, there’s always active playtime, walking and sports after school that can help provide some of the same benefits.

Both studies were published in the online journal, Pediatrics.

Story source: Amy Norton, http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/news/20170109/exercise-an-antidote-for-behavioral-issues-in-students#1

Alice Park, http://time.com/4624768/exercise-depression-kids/

 

 

Your Child

Kids and Caffeine

2.00 to read

While sipping on a coffee-laced Frappuccino, I’m reading about a current study on caffeine and kids. It made me think about my own dependence on caffeine and when it started. For as long as I can remember, my parents would drink several cups of coffee in the morning before going to work, and even as late as right before they retired for the night.  I suspect my mother had a cup while I was busy being born.

I can’t remember exactly when I joined the family coffee drinking ritual, but I know I was pretty young.  Fall and winter demanded hot steaming cups of coffee and iced coffee helped cool the torturous Texas summers. Spring was a combination of both. Sometimes I think that by now, there’s probably coffee bean residue percolating in my blood stream. 

I kind of wish that I’d never started drinking coffee, because it’s the caffeine I really crave- not necessarily the taste of the brew.  When I’ve tried to quit, my body and mind rebels with headaches and bad attitudes. Which brings me back to the study on kids and caffeine.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that children and teens are now getting less caffeine from soda, but more from caffeine-heavy energy drinks and coffee.

"You might expect that caffeine intake decreased, since so much of the caffeine kids drink comes from soda," said the study's lead author, Amy Branum, a statistician at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. "But what we saw is that these decreases in soda were offset by increases in coffee and energy drinks."

Not too long ago, energy drinks were just a fad, something that was more likely to give you the shakes than boost your energy level. That was before they were tweaked and bottled or canned in fruity flavors, sugary beverages and clever advertising. Once kids (and adults) got a taste of the “new and improved” tasty stimulates, the caffeinated beverages began to become a part of every day life – at least Monday through Friday when school and work beckoned.

"In a very short time, they have gone from basically contributing nothing to 6 percent of total caffeine intake," Branum said.

“Energy drinks have more caffeine than soda,. That's their claim to fame," she said. "That's what they're marketed for."

So, what effect does excessive caffeine intake have on our kids? Scientists are not sure yet. There are concerns and a lot of questions about the possible adverse consequences for kids who are still developing.  Caffeine addiction, obesity from sugar heavy beverages, high blood pressure, rapid heart beats and anxiety are some of the side –effects researchers are exploring. 

Using data from the 1999 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Branum's team estimated that 73 percent of American children consume some level of caffeine each day.

Although much of their caffeine still comes from soda, the proportion has decreased from 62 percent to 38 percent. At the same time, the amount of caffeine kids get from coffee rose from 10 percent in 2000 to 24 percent in 2010, the researchers found.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents and in general, caffeine-containing beverages, including soda, should be avoided. The AAP suggests that children should drink water or moderate amounts of juice instead.

The genie is probably out of the preverbal bottle as far as some adolescents and college-aged kids are concerned.  Although, if they are more aware of the possible health risks associated with excessive caffeinated beverages, they may decide to look at healthier energy producing sources such as exercise, meditation and more rest.

Where parents can have the most influence is with their younger children.  Refraining from purchasing caffeinated products (there’s even “energy” gum) and keeping them out of the home is a good first step.

And by all means, avoid introducing your kids to coffee at a young age. It might seem kind of cute, but twenty years down the road, they may wish you hadn’t slid that first cup of java their way.

The report was published in the February edition of the online journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Steven Reinberg,  http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20140210/energy-drinks-coffee-increasing-sources-of-caffeine-for-kids-cdc-says

www.aap.org

Your Child

Could More Dietary Fiber Reduce Food Allergies?

2:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Child

Powerful Narcotic Approved for Children

1:45

OxyContin is a powerful narcotic that is typically prescribed for adults who are in moderate to severe pain. It’s an opioid, similar to heroin that is the long-released formula of oxycodone. It can be highly addictive and is tightly regulated as a prescription.  For people who suffer from chronic or severe pain it is a potent drug that offers temporary relief.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved limited use of OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old. Children with moderate pain are sometimes prescribed smaller doses of morphine or non-opioid drugs. Fentanyl patches (Duragesic) , a synthetic opioid analgesic, is prescribed for severe pain relief to children.

Dr. Sharon Hertz, director of new anesthesia, analgesia and addiction products for the FDA, said studies by Purdue Pharma of Stamford, Connecticut, which manufactures the drug, "supported a new pediatric indication for OxyContin in patients 11 to 16 years old and provided prescribers with helpful information about the use of OxyContin in pediatric patients."

Because of OxyContin’s highly addictive properties, it is popular among addicts and drug dealers. Five years ago, Purdue reformulated the drug to make it more difficult for patients or users to crush the pills for a quick high.

Hertz noted that the FDA was putting strict limits on the use of OxyContin in children.  Unlike adults, children must already have shown that they can handle the drug by tolerating a minimum dose equal to 20 milligrams of oxycodone for five consecutive days, she said.

"We are always concerned about the safety of our children, particularly when they are ill and require medications and when they are in pain," she said. "OxyContin is not intended to be the first opioid drug used in pediatric patients, but the data show that changing from another opioid drug to OxyContin is safe if done properly."

 Parents, understandably, are concerned about giving their child such strong medications. Addiction and overdose are the two main worries parents specifically express when faced with the possibility of their child being put on these types of drugs. However, when children are given opioids to relieve pain, they are not seeking the "high" associated with the medication, they are given the medication in safe, consistent and controlled amounts. Generally, children look forward to reducing or stopping the medication as this indicates improvement in their pain control.

If children develop a physical dependence over several weeks, easing off the medication gradually as the pain diminishes can prevent withdrawal symptoms. Physical dependence should not be confused with addiction.

Overdose is extremely rare in children taking opioids for pain relief. If overdose does occur, it can be treated with an antidote called naloxone.

Children as well as adults sometimes need a strong drug to ease or stop severe pain associated with disease or surgery. The approval of limited OxyContin use for children gives them the benefits of pain relief when overseen and provided by the physicians in charge of their care.

Sources: M. Alex Johnson, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/fda-approves-oxycontin-children-young-11-n409621

Michael Jeavons, MD, http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/en/resourcecentres/pain/treatment/pages/opioids-safety-and-side-effects.aspx

 

Your Child

Good Sleep Habits Help Kids Succeed in School

1:30

If you’ve ever been sleep deprived, you know how difficult it can be to focus and get through the demands of the day.

So it’s not surprising that a new study says that children, who have good sleeping habits by the age of five, do better when they start school.

However, what may surprise you is that according to the National Sleep Foundation, a 2004 poll revealed that 69 percent of children 10 and under experience some type of sleep problem such as insomnia, nightmares, restless legs syndrome, sleep terrors, sleepwalking and sleep apnea.

For this study, researchers reviewed the sleep behavior of nearly 2,900 children in Australia from birth until they were 6 or 7. They found that one-third had mounting sleep problems in their first five years that put them at added risk for attention disorders and emotional and behavioral problems in school.

"The overwhelming finding is it's vital to get children's sleep behaviors right by the time they turn five," researcher Kate Williams said in a Queensland University of Technology news release. Williams is on the faculty in its School of Early Childhood.

For many families, today’s social and home environment is a roller coaster ride; creating solid routines, winding down and focusing on good sleep habits has almost become a lost art.

Williams and her team found that children with increasing sleep problems in early childhood were apt to be more hyperactive and to have more emotional outbursts in the classroom.

"If these sleep issues aren't resolved by the time children are 5 years old, then they are at risk of poorer adjustment to school," she noted.

There are lots of online tips for helping children develop good sleeping habits. These are usually in every list:

·      No video games, TV or electronic gadgets for at least an hour before bed.

·      Set a bedtime and stick to it that allows for plenty of sleep.

·      Follow a routine – brush teeth, wash hands and face and settle in for sleep. Reading a book to your little one can help relax them.

·      Make sure their room is dark and cool when it’s time for light’s out.. If your child needs a night light, place it in the hallway or bathroom and leave the door ajar. Turn it off once they are asleep.

·      Avoid giving your child candy or food right before bedtime. Certain foods can be stimulating and creating the habit of eating before bed or during the night is a hard one to break.

·      Make sure your child is comfortable. Pajamas should not restrict movement. Blankets shouldn’t be so heavy as to cause them to be hot or too warm.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/education-news-745/children-sleep-school-qut-release-batch-2570-708848.html

https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep

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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Do antacids work for babies?

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