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Your Child

Vaccines May Reduce the Risk of Strokes in Children

2:00

While strokes are not common in children, the risk of a child having a stroke increases when he or she has a cold or the flu. According to a new study, that child’s risk of having a stroke is reduced when he or she is fully vaccinated.

Based on 700 children across nine countries, researchers linked having had a recent illness like bronchitis, ear infection or "strep throat" to a six-fold rise in stroke risk. Having few or none of the routine childhood vaccinations was tied to a seven-fold rise in risk.

“We’re always trying to raise awareness that childhood stroke happens at all,” said lead author Dr. Heather J. Fullerton of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.

Stroke is more common in children who have other health risk factors as well, Fullerton told Reuters Health. Parents of children who have a chronic disease often worry if it is safe for their child to be vaccinated. The results from this study suggest that it is even more important for these families to make sure their child is current on all their vaccines.

Parents should also know infection prevention measures like hand washing and vaccines can help prevent stroke as well, Fullerton said.

From birth to age 19 years, the rate of strokes among youth in the U.S. is about five per 100,000 children. Up to 40 percent of kids who have a stroke will die from it, according to the American Stroke Association.

Fullerton and her coauthors used medical records and parental interviews for 355 children under age 18 who experienced a stroke and compared them to records and parental interviews for 354 children without stroke.

Half of the children with stroke were age seven or older.

In the stroke group, 18 percent of the children had contracted some kind of infection in the week before the stroke occurred, while three percent of children in the comparison group had an infection in the week before the study interview.

Stroke risk was only increased for a one-week period during infection.

 Infections a month earlier were not tied to stroke risk, according to the results in Neurology.

Infections, not cold medicines, were responsible for the strokes according to the analysis in this study.

“When you have an infection, the body mounts immune response,” which manifests as fever, aches and blood that clots more easily, Fullerton said.

In stroke, a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain.

“One can speculate that changes in the body as a result of infection may tip the balance in a child already at higher risk for stroke,” said Dr. Jose Biller, chair of neurology at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, who coauthored an editorial in the same issue of the journal.

“Parents should not be alarmed if their child has a cold that this will lead to stroke,” Biller told Reuters Health.

But it is important that parents be encouraged to continue with infection prevention procedures including regular pediatric vaccines, Biller said.

“Most physicians will agree that vaccines are among the safest medical products, they are rigorously tested and monitored,” he said. “They prevent thousands of illnesses and deaths in the U.S. each year.”

Infants with stroke generally present with seizures, while older infants and school age kids with stroke will have similar symptoms to an adult, including weakness on one side of the body, Fullerton said.

Kidshealth.org list these symptoms of stroke in a child.

Symptoms of stroke in an infant are:

·      Seizures in one area of the body, such as an arm or a leg.

·      Problems eating.

·      Trouble breathing or pauses in breathing (apnea).

·      Early preference for use of one hand over the other.

·      Developmental delays, such as rolling over and crawling later than usual.

Symptoms of stroke in kids and teens are:

·      Seizures.

·      Headaches, possibly with vomiting.

·      Sudden paralysis or weakness on one side of the body.

·      Language or speech delays or changes, such as slurring.

·      Trouble swallowing.

·      Vision problems, such as blurred or double vision.

·      Tendency to not use one of the arms or hands.

·      Tightness or restricted movement in the arms and legs.

·      Difficulty with schoolwork.

·      Memory loss.

·      Sudden mood or behavioral changes.

If your child experiences any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away, or call 911. Treatment for stroke can be given to reduce the severity, but needs to be administered as soon as possible.

Sources: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/30/us-health-stroke-child-infections-idUSKCN0RU2O320150930

http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/brain/strokes.html#

 

 

Your Child

Is Childhood Obesity Linked to Late Dinners?

1:30

For years, health experts have suggested that eating dinner later at night may contribute to weight gain. With so many families struggling with varied work schedules and after-school activities, researchers in London wanted to know if late dinners might be a contributing factor in childhood obesity.

Much to their surprise, they discovered no link between later supper times and children’s weight gain.

British researchers looked at data from more than 1,600 children, aged 4 to 18. They found that the risk of overweight or obesity was no higher among those who had meals between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. than among those who ate between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

"The findings of our study are surprising. We expected to find an association between eating later and being more likely to be overweight, but actually found that this was not the case. This may be due to the limited number of children consuming their evening meal after 8 p.m.," said study author Gerda Pot, visiting lecturer in the diabetes and nutritional sciences division at King's College London.

"'Alongside changes in dietary quality and levels of physical activity, meal timing is one of many possible factors that has been suggested as influencing the trends in weight gain seen in children in the U.K.," Pot said in a school news release.

"However, the significance of its role is under-researched. As this is one of the first studies investigating this link, it would be useful to repeat the analysis in other studies," she added.

Pol said that she and her team would continue researching other factors that may contribute to childhood obesity such as eating breakfast and different sleep habits.

Others have suggested that the most important factor in childhood obesity is not when a child eats, but what they eat and if they have gotten a sufficient amount of exercise during the day.

This study was recently published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Story source: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/obe...

Your Child

Why Kids Should Learn Handwriting

1:45

I think it’s fair to say that handwriting is becoming a lost art. Computers, tablets and phone keyboards have made actual writing with a pen and paper almost obsolete.

What was once an integral part of a child’s daily school lessons, today, gets about one-fourth the instruction time. What is surprising is that in the not too far future, some kids may never learn penmanship at all.

If keyboards become the most popular form of communication, is there really a need for printing and cursive skills? Yes, according to some educators. Not only will children lose the personal touch of handwriting but will they also lose the benefits learning penmanship offers the developing brain.

Putting pen to paper stimulates brain circuits involved with memory, attention, motor skills, and language in a way punching a keyboard doesn't.

"There is this assumption that we live in the computer age, and we don't need handwriting anymore. That's wrong," says Virginia Berninger, PhD, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington.

Indiana University psychologist Karin James, PhD, recently published a study looking at brain scans of preschoolers before and after they learned to produce letters, either by printing or typing. Before the lesson, the children couldn't decipher between a random shape and a letter, and their brains responded similarly to each. After they learned to hand-draw a letter, brain regions needed for reading lit up at the sight of the letter like they do in a literate adult. Learning to type a letter yielded no such change.

Other studies have shown that preschoolers that practice handwriting read better in elementary school.

Handwriting also requires concentration and teaches brain circuits responsible for motor coordination, vision, and memory to work together. "If in the future we were to take away teaching handwriting altogether, I worry there could be real negative impacts on children's development," James says.

Timed right, cursive also comes with some unique advantages. Berninger's research suggests kids who link their letters via cursive get a better handle on what those words look like and end up being better spellers, she says. Cursive also allows them to compose their thoughts faster than in block handwriting or via typing (at least until about seventh grade, when their brains become mature enough to manage two-handed typing quickly).

Berninger says parents can offer their children extra guidance with learning handwriting even before their child begins school and through their early years. Some children may learn these skills quicker and some may need a little more practice. But on an average:

Preschoolers can strengthen motor skills by playing with clay, stringing beads, working through mazes, and connecting dots with arrows to form letters.

From kindergarten through second grade, children should master block letters.

Third to fourth grade is when kids can begin and master cursive.

By fifth grade, children should continue to write by hand while being introduced to typing by touch (not just hunt and peck.)

As I’ve become more accustomed to using my computer or phone to communicate with others, I’ve noticed that my own handwriting skills are beginning to suffer. Cursive isn’t as fluid and readable as when I handwrote more often and my eye, hand and pen coordination isn’t near as comfortable as it used to be. 

I hope future generations will not lose the art of handwriting, not only because of the developmental benefits it offers, but because each person’s handwriting is unique to them.

Story source: Lisa Marshall, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/handwriting-matters-kids#1

Your Child

Backyard Bird Coops Increasing Salmonella Cases

1:30

Backyard chicken and duck coops have become a popular trend in cities around the country.  Many families like the idea of being able to walk out the backdoor and collect fresh eggs for meals. Plus, kids are drawn to the cute baby chicks and are often eager to make them the new family pet. That’s where things can get tricky.

Close contact with even the cleanest and healthiest-looking chicken can make you sick, and there's proof this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On Thursday, the CDC announced that it is working with states to investigate eight multistate outbreaks of salmonella connected to these kinds of backyard birds.

"A lot of people perceive a bird with salmonella will look sick, but that is really not the case," said Megin Nichols, a CDC veterinarian. The birds carry the bacteria on their feathers, on their feet and in their droppings.

At least 372 people were infected with salmonella from January 4th to May 3rd, 2017, according to the government agency. These cases were linked to pet ducks, chickens and geese. The CDC noted that this number was most likely less than the actual amount of cases. Typically, for every known infection, there are 29 other people who probably got sick.

Of the 372 cases, 36% were children. No one has died from the infection, but 71 of those infections were so bad the people had to be hospitalized.

The salmonella bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever.

The increase in cases set an all time high record in 2016, with 895 people getting sick after interacting with birds. By comparison, over the prior 26 years, there had been only 65 poultry-related outbreaks recorded.

If you’re considering participating in this trend or already have a chicken coop, be sure and make sure you and family members are aware of how to safely raise birds. The CDC offers some information to help you master a few best practices, and so does the US Department of Agriculture on its Biosecurity for Birds page. 

A few tips to lessen the chance of getting salmonella are:

- Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after you touch the birds or their equipment. Food and water bowls can be contaminated with the bacteria, too.

- Keep the birds outside so they don't track bacteria into your home.

- If you have kids, especially little ones under 5, watch how they interact with the animals. Children are particularly susceptible to the infection, as they often put their hands in their mouths. Be sure to teach them how to handle the animals.

- If you collet eggs, make sure they are cooked thoroughly before eating them.

Story source: Jen Christensen, http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/02/health/salmonella-chickens/index.html

 

Your Child

Are You Making Your Child More Anxious?

2.00 to read

When a child shows that he or she is anxious or in distress, a natural response is for a parent to want to remove whatever is causing the discomfort. However, according to a new study, it may not be the best reaction for your child in the long run.

Researchers call it the “protection trap.” Basically it means smothering children with too much attention or making the menace go away.

The research showed that certain parental coddling behaviors might actually boost anxiety in a child, although the study doesn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

"We found evidence that when parents try to help their anxious children they do a lot of things," said study co-author Armando Pina, an associate professor of child developmental psychology at Arizona State University. "Some of them are good, like promoting courage with warmth and kindness. Others are less helpful, like promoting avoidance by overprotecting, which many times leads to more anxiety."

Other experts have also weighed in on this topic.

"Left untreated, anxiety disorders in youth are associated with greater risk for other psychological problems such as depression and substance use problems," said Donna Pincus, director of research at the Child and Adolescent Fear and Anxiety Treatment Program at Boston University. Anxiety problems can also disrupt families and cause kids to perform worse in school, she added.

So what should a parent do or not do?

"When children are in distress or upset they need parental comfort, reassurance and extra love. This is good," said study lead author Lindsay Holly, a graduate student at Arizona State University. "Sometimes, however, parents end up providing excessive reassurance and doing things for the child, like making excuses for why a child who is anxious in social situations won't go to a birthday party or talking for the child by ordering at restaurants."

Here’s how the study was conducted.

Researchers examined the results of a survey of 70 kids aged 6 to 16 who were treated for anxiety and/or depression at a clinic. The kids were equally divided among boys and girls and among whites and Hispanic/Latinos.

The investigators found that some kids were more likely to have anxiety and depression symptoms if their parents reinforced or punished their anxiety through various approaches. Among the two ethnic groups, "the only difference was that Latino parents seemed to attend more frequently to their children's anxiety," Holly said.

Pina noted that previous research has indicated that a certain kind of therapy can help kids become less anxious and more resilient by teaching the importance of facing fears. One of the goals of the therapy is to teach parents how to promote courage in the kids through a combination of warmth and kindness, Pina said.

Some experts believe that by exposing children to anxious situations in a controlled, supportive environment, they can learn how to handle their anxiety better.

Holly suggests that parents encourage their children "to do brave things that are small and manageable." A child who's afraid of speaking in public, for instance, might be urged to answer a question about whether they want fries with their meal at a restaurant.

While every child is going to be anxious at one time or another, a more difficult situation is when children suffer from an anxiety disorder. That is a more serious problem where someone experiences fear, nervousness, and shyness so much so that they start to avoid places and activities.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. Anxiety disorder often shows up alongside other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and ADHD.

The good news is that with treatment and support, a child can learn how to successfully manage the symptoms and live a normal childhood.

The study conducted at Arizona State University, looked at typical child anxieties and how parent’s interactions either helped or prolonged the anxiousness.

The study was published recently in the journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development.

Sources: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/overprotective-parenting-could-worsen-kids-anxiety/

http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/childhood-anxiety-disorders

Your Child

Unnecessary X-Rays for Kids

1:45

Too many children are receiving unnecessary x-rays for symptoms such as vomiting, feeling ill and fainting says a new study from the Mayo Clinic.

"Chest X-rays can be a valuable exam when ordered for the correct indications. However, there are several indications where pediatric chest X-rays offer no benefit and likely should not be performed to decrease radiation dose and cost," said study author Dr. Ann Packard, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Researchers looked at the reasoning behind 637 chest x-rays given to children from newborns to 17 years- old between 2008 and 2014. They found that 88 percent of the x-rays given to children did not have an impact on treatment they receive.

What kinds of symptoms were children displaying when they were given an x-ray?  Kids and infants had chest pain, fainting, dizziness, cyclical vomiting, and a general feeling of being unwell or under distress (spells). Another problem stated was a condition called "postural orthostatic hypotension," in which blood pressure drops suddenly when a person stands up after sitting or lying down.

X-rays are often given when a physician suspects someone may have pneumonia or a bronchial infection.

Thirty-nine of the x-rays for chest pain were positive for pneumonia, bronchial inflammation, trauma or other conditions, according to the findings scheduled for presentation in Chicago Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. But chest X-rays had no effect on treatment for any of the children with fainting, postural orthostatic hypotension, dizziness, spells or cyclical vomiting.

Radiation in children is a concern. Many pediatricians and experts recommend limiting the exposure to radiation in children when possible. These procedures can also be expensive for families.

"This study addresses both of these issues, which is important not only for physicians but also for young patients and their parents," Packard noted in a society news release.

"I would like this research to help guide clinicians and deter them from ordering unnecessary exams which offer no clinical benefit to the patient," she added.

Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

If a doctor recommends x-rays for your child, be sure and ask specifically why they believe the x-ray is needed and what impact they believe it will have on your child’s treatment.

Possible broken bones need x-rays, trouble breathing could need an x-ray to look for infection or pneumonia. Your doctor may have a perfectly sound reason for ordering an x-ray, but you may want to know ahead of time exactly what it will tell your physician before agreeing.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20141203/many-kids-exposed-to-unneeded-x-rays-study-finds

Your Child

Asbestos Found in Children’s Crayons and Toys

2:00

Coloring with crayons has been an American tradition since the late 1800s.  Since that time, the wax crayon has been instrumental in teaching children how to draw and imagine the world in a rainbow of colors.

Although the words “non-toxic” appear on crayon boxes designated for children’s use, a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund says that asbestos fibers have been found in crayons and other toys sold in the United States.

The fibers were found in four brands of crayons and two children’s crime-scene toy fingerprint kits.

The contaminated crayons included Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crayons, Disney's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Jumbo Crayons and Saban's Power Rangers Super Megaforce Jumbo Crayons and ones by Amscan, according to the new report.

Asbestos was also found in two crime lab toys: EduScience's Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit, and Inside Intelligence's Secret Spy Kit.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that asbestos, which is composed of long, thin mineral fibers, once was common in insulation material.

Though tiny and invisible to the naked eye, airborne asbestos fibers are easily inhaled. With time, scarring, inflammation and breathing impairment can occur, as can lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lining of the lungs and abdomen, according to the NIH.

Asbestos is no longer widely used in manufacturing in the United States. It is banned in nearly all other developed nations, the research group said.

EWG hired an independent company, Scientific Analytical Institute from Greensboro, N.C., to conduct so-called transmission electron microscopy tests to look for asbestos. This is said to be the most sensitive and accurate method of testing available.

EWG said that a second independent lab reconfirmed the crayons and toys that tested positive.

"Just a couple of fibers can lodge in your lungs and be there forever," said Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Washington, D.C. based group. "And there's very clear evidence that asbestos leads to two forms of cancer, and thousands and thousands of Americans have been killed by fiber exposure."

Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Richard Lemen welcomed the report.

"These are important findings, because asbestos is being placed in children's products," said Lemen, now an adjunct professor with Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta.

"Even if the absolute risk is relatively low, children are more vulnerable to toxic material and carcinogens," he said. "And because they are so young they have a longer latency in which to develop these diseases, which are known to be diseases that develop over time."

The crayons were purchased between February and May of this year at two national chains -- Party City and Dollar Tree -- in a suburban county near San Francisco. The group said it ordered the two crime scene toys through Amazon.com and Toys"R"Us.com.

For analysis, 28 brands of crayons were tested and 21 toy fingerprint kits. All the products that tested positive were made in China.

A spokeswoman for Toys "R" Us, which distributes the EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit, responded to the report, saying customer safety is the company's highest priority.

"We require that every product we carry meets or exceeds all applicable state and federal laws, industry standards, codes and requirements. At this time, we are reviewing the referenced report, along with supplier test reports, to ensure full compliance to our strict safety standards," Kathleen Waugh, vice president of corporate communications, said in a statement.

The tests discovered the highest concentration of asbestos was found in the toy crime-scene fingerprint kits.

If your child is one of the millions that play with crayons or the crime lab kits, be sure to check the brand to make sure they are not one of the contaminated products or kits that tested positive for asbestos.

Source: Alan Mozes, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/lung-cancer-news-100/asbestos-found-in-kids-crayons-toy-crime-kits-701117.html

 

 

 

 

Your Child

Recall: Children’s Cough Syrup

1:30

Parents are being urged to check their medicine cabinets as two batches of generic children's cough syrup are removed from pharmacy shelves across the country. They have been recalled due to overdose risk.

The voluntary recall was initiated after it was discovered the dosage cups included in the box had incorrect markings, leading to fears that children may be given too much medication, according to a statement from the manufacturer.

The products in question are:

·      Children's guaifenesin grape liquid (100mg/5 mL)

·      Children's guaifenesin DM cherry liquid (100mg guaifenesin and 5mg dextromethorphan HBr/ 5 ml) sold in 4 oz. bottles

Each includes a small plastic cup.                  

The over-the-counter cough syrups are sold generically nationwide, under different brand names:

GUAIFENESIN GRAPE LIQ 4 OZ

·      H.E.B

·      CVS

GUAIFENESIN DM CHRY LIQ 4 OZ

·      Sunmark

•       Rite-Aid

•       Topcare

•       Kroger

•       GoodSense

•       Dollar General

•       Care One

•       CVS

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it is aware of the voluntary recall and urged consumers who bought the batches listed above "to discard the dosing device and product."

While there have been no reported overdoses related to the medication, the Perrigo Company said side effects of an overdose can include "hyperexcitability, rapid eye movements, changes in muscle reflexes, ataxia, dystonia, hallucinations, stupor and coma," adding that other effects have included "nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, irregular heartbeat, seizures, respiratory depression and death."

Source: Amy La Porte, http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/12/health/childrens-cough-syrup-recalled/

Your Child

Time for Back-To-School Routines

1:30

It’s almost THAT time.

Many school districts will begin filling up the classrooms with new and returning students on or about the fourth week of this month.

There’s plenty to do in preparation, including immunizations, loading up on school supplies, new clothes and getting back to regular bedtime hours.

Four weeks may seem like plenty of time to get all these things done, but as you know, deadlines have a way of slipping up on us.

One way to help the family avoid sudden school-morning-shock is to start implementing bedtime hours and routines before classes begin.

Experts agree that two weeks before school begins is a good time to start easing back into the new hours.  Find out what time your child needs to be at school and work backwards to come up with a bedtime that will give them plenty of sleep.  If your child has been staying up later during the summer, you might want to adjust their bedtime by 15 minutes, then a half hour until you get to the bedtime they will use during the school year.

The Sleep Foundation recommends that kids between 6-13 years old get 9 to 11 hours of sleep at night. Teenagers can do well with a little less sleep; between 8 to 10 hours. Preschoolers need the most sleep with about 10 to 13 hours.

Mealtimes are also important. With longer daylight hours during the summer, meals often get pushed back to accompany evening activities. Shifting family mealtimes to an earlier hour can help train everyone’s biological clock to start expecting school schedules instead of the lazy-hazy days of summer.

As parents, you can expect some resistance. It happens every year as a new school year begins. Stick with the changes and your child will adapt. Kids aren’t the only ones that find it difficult to let go of summer; know that you also may have a difficult time adjusting to earlier mealtimes and setting new routines. Patience is going to be the key word for everyone as summer break transitions into school semesters.

Experts often note that routines help everyone function better together. While kids may not like them, they do need them. Kids are more likely to feel safer and know what is expected of them when there are guidelines.

One thing you can count on is that your kids will be watching you to see how you handle change. Be a good role model.

One simple way to help get everything done before school starts is to make a list of what needs to be done and create a calendar for achieving those goals. Check with your school and find out which immunizations and school supplies are needed, clothing or uniform regulations and pre-registration dates. Most schools will have all the information you need online.

There’s still time to enjoy the summer break and slip in a family vacation – August is a popular month for getaways. But, right now is a good time to create a plan for the remainder of August, and to prepare for that first school bell ring!

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