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Your Child

Should More Kids Have Their Tonsils Removed?

2:00

Two new medical reviews suggest that more kids could benefit from having their tonsils removed if tonsillectomy guidelines were less stringent.

Currently, surgery qualifications require that a child must have many recurring throat infections within a short span of time or severe sleep disturbances, said Dr. Sivakumar Chinnadurai, a co-author of the reviews.

An evaluation of current medical evidence suggests more kids would receive significant short-term improvement in their daily life if the guidelines were relaxed, said Chinnadurai, a pediatric otolaryngologist with Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Chinnadural and his team found that children, who underwent a tonsillectomy even when they did not meet the guidelines, experienced nearly half as many sore throats. They also missed fewer days of school and were less likely to need extra medical care.

The benefits seemed to apply only to the first couple of years following surgery. By the third year, there was no clear benefit in terms of the number of sore throats, said Chinnadural. The benefits after the first couple of years following surgery, however, were impressive.

"The decision about whether those children should have tonsillectomy for that temporary benefit is really tied to what those children need or what they're suffering with," Chinnadurai said. Kids who miss a lot of school or need frequent trips to the doctor due to sore throats could benefit from the surgery, he said.

There's an even clearer benefit for kids whose sleep is disturbed due to inflamed tonsils, Chinnadurai said.

"In a child with a diagnosis of sleep apnea, we can see a benefit in sleep-related quality of life," he said. The kids get better sleep, and thus exhibit better everyday behavior and pay more attention in school.

Better sleep in children with sleep apnea can improve many aspects of their daily

lives.

Guidelines say a tonsillectomy to treat throat infections is justified if a child had seven or more sore throats during the previous year; five or more sore throats two years running, or three or more sore throats for three years in a row, according to the background notes.

The researchers decided to review whether the throat infection guidelines are too stringent, ruling out patients who potentially could benefit but don't meet the high threshold of recurring infections, Chinnadurai said.

There aren't strong guidelines regarding the use of tonsillectomy to treat sleep disorders, so the doctors reviewed the evidence to see whether the surgery outperformed so-called watchful waiting -- monitoring the situation.

The study results showed "there may be new evidence that supports expanding the criteria and opening up the procedure to more individuals," said Dr. Alyssa Hackett, an otolaryngologist with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

"In the right child with the right indications, these are really wonderful procedures that can be life-changing for both the child and the family," said Hackett, who wasn't involved with the new research.

Although the findings were positive, Chinnadural and Hackett both warned against automatically choosing a tonsillectomy when a child has a sore throat.

"Though a tonsillectomy is low-risk, it is not risk-free, and those risks need to be weighed against the benefits for each individual child," Chinnadurai said.

"We're talking about a child who has significant sleep-related issues," Hackett said. "We don't want people to say my child snores, they need to have their tonsils out. That's not what this study says at all."

Parents should discuss the risks and benefits of a tonsillectomy with their pediatrician if they are concerned about the amount of sore throats their child has, or if sleep apnea is diagnosed.

The two reports were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Dennis Thompson, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/tonsillitis-news-669/should-more-kids-have-their-tonsils-out-718738.html

Your Child

Young Kids Overdosing on Dietary Supplements

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It’s no surprised that the majority of American adults now take one or more dietary supplement daily. During the last decade, many households have switched from a simple multivitamin to more specific supplements for different dietary needs. It’s become a billion dollar industry even though many scientific studies have shown mixed results on the effectiveness of supplements on a person’s health.

What may surprise you though is the number of children that are accidently overdosing on dietary supplements found in the home. Children under the age of 6 are the most affected.

A typical scenario might play out like this.  A curious toddler opens a bottle of melatonin found on the kitchen counter, and accidentally overdoses on a supplement typically used by adults to help with sleep.

In that case, the doctor who treats the child may only have to deal with a very tired 3-year- old, but it might have been a far more serious scenario if a different dietary supplement, such as the energy product ephedra or the male enhancement herb yohimbe, had been swallowed.

"We see it all the time," said Dr. Barbara Pena, research director of the emergency medicine department at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami.

From 2005 through 2012, the annual rate of accidental exposures to dietary supplements rose in the United States by nearly 50 percent, and 70 percent of those exposures involved young children.

"The biggest increase [in accidental overdoses] was in children under 6. It got our attention," said study author Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus. Ninety-seven percent of the time, the children swallowed the supplements while at home, the study found.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements, so there is no guarantee that the ingredients listed have been tested or that they are what they claim to be. The FDA can only take action if the supplements are shown to cause harm.

During the 13 years of the study, Spiller's team also found an increase from 2000 to 2002, when the rates of calls to U.S. poison control centers involving supplements rose 46 percent each year. From 2002 to 2005, the researchers found the rates of calls declined. Spiller suspects that is because the FDA banned ephedra in 2004, after supplements containing it had been linked with adverse heart events and deaths.

Overall, only about 4.5 percent of the cases in the study had serious medical outcomes. During the 13-year period tracked, 34 deaths were attributed to supplement exposure, Spiller said.

The supplements most often associated with the greatest toxicity were ephedra (ma huang,) yohimbe (found in male enhancement supplements and other products) and energy drinks and drugs.

Ephedra is now banned, but yohimbe is not. Nearly 30 percent of yohimbe exposure calls in the study resulted in moderate or major harm. Yohimbe can cause heartbeat rhythm changes, kidney failure, seizures, heart attack and death, the researchers noted.

Often, children find the supplements on a kitchen counter, Spiller said. Parents and others may equate dietary supplements with being natural, and therefore safe. Parents usually don't keep track of how many pills are left in a supplement bottle, he said, making it more difficult to tell poison control staff how many pills were taken in an accidental exposure.

Adolescents are also susceptible to overdosing on energy products loaded with caffeine and other ingredients that can cause abnormal heart rhythms or even a heart attack. 

Both Spiller and Pena suggest that parents and caregivers treat supplements the same way they do prescriptions or O-T-C drugs.  Keep all supplements in a locked cabinet or on a high closed shelf if young children are in the house or likely to visit.

Supplements are especially scary, Pena noted, because it's not always possible to know the potency of the product.

The study was published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology.

Story source: Kathleen Doheny, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20170725/us-kids-overdosing-on-dietary-supplements#1

Your Child

Be an Involved Parent

2.00 to read

Millions of kids are back in school. For some it will be the start of a long educational journey, while others have already been in the system and are moving up to the next grade. Parents expect their children’s teachers to educate their kids, supervise their safety and keep them abreast of any changes or concerns they may see in their child’s behavior. Fair enough.

But what obligations should a parent have to their child’s education and school life? Many send their kids off to school and that’s that. Studies have shown and common sense tells you that the more involved a parent is with a child’s education at home and in school; the better a child learns and progresses.

Research has shown that children of involved parents are absent less frequently, behave better, make better grades from pre-school through high school and go farther in school.

They are often more socially mature and have a better sense of who they are.

The benefits don’t stop at school. A home environment that encourages learning is more important than parents' income, education level, or cultural background. By actively participating in their child's education at home and in school, parents send some critical messages to their child; they're demonstrating their interest in his/her activities and reinforcing the idea that school is valuable.

Not every parent has a lot of time they can spend with their child. The reality is that there are many single parent families. There are children who are being raised by a relative and children who are in foster care. Some schools are working on developing and implementing more flexible schedules that offer working parents options to spend extra time with their kids.

The National Education Association recommends some specific ways for parents to become more involved in their child's education.

At home:

- Read to your child. Reading aloud is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child's chance of reading success

- Discuss the books and stories you read to your child

- Help your child organize his/her time

- Limit television viewing on school nights

- Talk to your child regularly about what's going on in school

- Check homework every night

Other tips for helping your child succeed in school come from teachers themselves.

- Teach your child to be prepared. No more excuses for late or not turned in homework

- Reinforce the importance of your child’s education. Whether you have a college degree, a high school education or dropped out let your child know that they are expected to complete school and continue with their education by either going to college or a trade school.

- Discuss newsworthy current events, and what is going on in your neighborhood, religious institution or pop culture. Listen to your child’s opinions with an open mind. Share your daily experiences in age appropriate language. The earlier a child feels an integral part of the family, the more they learn to value family, friends and others. Education includes a social awareness. 

- Go directly to the teacher of you have questions about your child’s progress or lack their of in school. Establish a good relationship with all your child’s teachers. Know their names and what they expect form your child. Let them know what you expect of them.

- Don’t try to get your child out of detention. Allow your child to accept the consequences of their behavior. Too many parents make excuses for their children’s bad behavior instead of facing it head on. Bailing your child out takes away their ability to learn responsibility. It can become an ugly habit and deprive your child of the maturity he or she will need to handle difficult situations. We all know there will be plenty of difficult times in everybody's lives. 

- Implement a consistent homework routine that focuses on relearning the day’s lessons.

- Respond to your school’s email and phone calls. Your child’s teacher is busy also and they wouldn’t be contacting you unless it was important. If you have concerns don’t wait to be contacted, be the one to reach out first.

- Volunteer. If at all possible volunteer to help with school or sports events. Showing your child that you are invested in them is the best way to teach them about unconditional love and sacrifice. Just knowing you care enough to give up some of your own precious time for them teaches them the true meaning of “I’ll always be there for you.”

When parents contribute effort and time, they have the opportunity to interact with teachers, administrators, and other parents. They can learn first-hand about the daily activities and the social culture of the school, both of which help them understand what their child's life is like.

Not every parent can be available for every school meeting or event. If you can’t make it, see if another family member or a close friend can be there in your place. For the 9 to 10 months that a child is in school – that is their world. Be a part of it, you’ll be glad you did and even if you get a little push back from your child, they’ll remember how much you cared when they're older and have kids of their own.

Sources: Anita Gurian PhD, http://www.aboutourkids.org/articles/involved_parents_hidden_resource_in_their_children039s_education

Pete Mason,  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pete-mason/advice-from-teachers-to-p_b_3819530.html

Your Child

Using Metric Units for Children’s Medicine

2:00

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says parents should give their children medicines using metric units instead of teaspoons or tablespoons to avoid overdoses. 

Tens of thousands of kids wind up in emergency rooms after unintentional medicine overdoses each year, and the cause is often badly labeled containers or unclear directions, said Dr. Ian Paul, a pediatrician at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Children's Hospital and lead author of new metric dosing guidelines from the AAP.

"Even though we know metric units are safer and more accurate, too many healthcare providers are still writing that prescription using spoon-based dosing," said Paul. "Some parents use household spoons to administer it, which can lead to dangerous mistakes.”

Paul says it’s just too easy to give the wrong dose using a spoon; sometimes a parent may accidently use a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon. To avoid errors associated with common kitchen spoons, the guidelines urge that liquid medicines being taken by mouth should be dosed using milliliters (abbreviated as "mL").

Also, prescriptions should include so-called leading zeros, such as 0.5 for a half mL dose, and exclude so-called trailing zeroes, such as 0.50, to reduce the potential for parents to misunderstand the dosing.

The AAP has been pushing for more accurate dosing of children's medicines since the 1970s. The new guidelines are the most extensive call for metric dosing to date and are intended to reach drug manufacturers, retailers, pharmacists, prescribers and caregivers.

"For this to be effective, we need not just the parents and families to make the switch to metric, we need providers and pharmacists too," said Paul.

Ideally, the drugs should be dispensed with syringes that have a flow meter because that's the most accurate way to measure liquid, said Robert Poole, director of the pharmacy at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

Parents can put the syringe in the side of the child’s mouth and release the medicine slowly. “It's easier for the child to swallow and you know the dose you get into the child is accurate," said Poole, who wasn't an author of the guidelines. "Those little cups that come with the medicine should really only be used to pour out liquid that you then draw into an oral syringe."

In addition, electronic health records should make it impossible for non-metric doses to be prescribed by clinicians or processed at pharmacies, the guidelines suggest.

Parents of very sick children often struggle keeping up with the medicines, dosages and timing required after their child returns home from the hospital. Using metric units instead of spoonfuls helps parents can get a clearer picture of how much medicine they are actually giving their child.

Among prescription drugs, narcotics present the biggest overdose dangers, said Dr. Brian Smith, a pediatrician at Duke University who wasn't involved in writing the AAP guidelines. He also expresses concerns about over-the-counter drugs, particularly acetaminophen (Tylenol), because overdoses can lead to liver failure. It's also dangerous to give children a wide variety of nonprescription drugs at the same time, because they might accidentally get more than one medicine with the same ingredient, leading to unintended overdoses.

"Kids do get overdosed; it happens in the hospital with all of these safeguards in place and it happens at home," said Smith. "Kids come to the emergency room with unintentional overdoses and they get sick and some kids die. Anything we do to reduce errors by making the dosing clearer will save lives."

Many American parents are not very familiar with the metric system, so they should talk to their pediatrician or family doctor and review dosing instructions and how to use metric labeled syringes or cups. While this system may be a new way of doing things for several of us, it also provides a more reliable way of avoiding overdoses

Source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/30/us-kids-medicines-dosing-idUSKBN0MQ09K20150330

 

Your Child

Super-Lice Resistant to OTC Treatment

1:45

Well, this certainly isn’t good news.

The American Chemical Society recently reported a new study shows that certain lice in at least 25 states are now resistant to over-the-counter (OTC) treatments.

Study author Kyong S. Yoon, PhD, assistant professor in the Biological Sciences and Environmental Sciences Program at Southern Illinois University, has been researching lice since 2000. His research is still ongoing, but what he’s found so far in 109 samples from 30 states is startling: the vast majority of lice now carry genes that are super-resistant to the OTC treatment used against them.

Permethrin, part of the pyrethroid class of insecticides, is the active ingredient in some OTC treatments. Certain lice have developed a trio of mutations that make it resistant to the pyrethroids. What happens is you end up with a new kind of super-lice that doesn’t respond to typical treatment any longer.

“It’s a really, really serious problem right now in the U.S.,” Yoon says.

Six million to 12 million U.S. children are infested with head lice every year, "with parents spending about $350 million dollars annually on permethrin-laced over-the-counter and prescription treatments," Yoon said. Lice infestations occur in rich neighborhoods as well as poor ones.

Currently, there are 25 states, including Arizona, California, the Carolinas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia where lice have what Yoon calls "knock-down resistant mutations". This involves a triple whammy of genetic alterations that render them immune to OTC permethrin treatments.

Lice in four states, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Oregon, have developed partial resistance, the researchers found.

Michigan's lice have no resistance as yet. Why that is remains unclear.

Fortunately, there are prescription medications that still work in treating lice. They are more expensive than over-the-counter formulas and do not contain permethrin. These prescriptions may contain benzyl alcohol, ivermectin, malathion and spinosad; all powerful agents or insecticides. Lindane shampoo is another alternative for difficult-to-treat cases.

If your child has head lice and OTC medicines haven’t worked, you can check with your pediatrician or family doctor for a prescription treatment. 

Sources: Mandy Oaklander, http://time.com/4000857/lice-treatment/

Alan Mozes, http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2015/08/18/head-lice-now-resistant-to-common-meds-in-25-states

 

Your Child

Antibiotic Resistance Rising in Kids with Urinary Tract Infections

2:00

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) affect about 3 percent of children in the United States each year and account for more than 1 million visits to a pediatrician.

The most common cause of a UTI is the bacterium E.coli, which normally lives in the large intestine and are present in a child’s stool. The bacterium enters the urethra and travels up the urinary tract causing an infection. Typical ways for an infection to occur is when a child’s bottom isn’t properly wiped or the bladder doesn’t completely empty.

Problems with the structure or function of the urinary tract commonly contribute to UTIs in infants and young children.

UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics but a new scientific review warns that many kids are failing to respond to antibiotic treatment.

The reason, according to the researchers, is drug resistance following years of over-prescribing and misusing antibiotics.

"Antimicrobial resistance is an internationally recognized threat to health," noted study author Ashley Bryce, a doctoral fellow at the Center for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol in the U.K.

The threat is of particular concern among the younger patients, the authors said, especially because UTIs are the most common form of pediatric bacterial infections.

Young children are more vulnerable to complications including kidney scarring and kidney failure, so they require prompt, appropriate treatment, added Bryce and co-author Ceire Costelloe. Costelloe is a fellow in Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance at Imperial College London, also in the U.K.

"Bacterial infections resistant to antibiotics can limit the availability of effective treatment options," ultimately doubling a patient's risk of death, they noted.

The study team reviewed 58 prior investigations conducted in 26 countries that collectively looked at more than 77,000 E. coli samples.

Researchers found that in wealthier countries, such as the U.S., 53 percent of pediatric UTI cases were found to be resistant to amoxicillin, one of the most commonly prescribed primary care antibiotics. Other antibiotics such as trimethoprim and co-amoxiclav (Augmentin) were also found to be non-effective with a quarter of young patients resistant and 8 percent resistant respectively.

In poorer developing countries, resistance was even higher at 80 percent, 60 percent respectively and more than a quarter of the patients were resistant to ciprofloxacin (Cipro), and 17 percent to nitrofurantoin (Macrobid)).

The study team said they couldn’t give a definitive reason about cause and effect but said the problem in wealthier countries probably relates to primary care doctors' routine and excessive prescription of antibiotics to children.

In poorer nations, "one possible explanation is the availability of antibiotics over the counter," they said, making the medications too easy to access and abuse.

"If left unaddressed, antibiotic resistance could re-create a world in which invasive surgeries are impossible and people routinely die from simple bacterial infections," they added.

In an accompanying editorial, Grant Russell, head of the School of Primary Health Care at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said the only surprise was the extent of the resistance and how many first-line antibiotics were likely to be ineffective.

If current trends persist, he warned, it could lead to a serious situation in which relatively cheap and easy-to-administer oral antibiotics will no longer be of practical benefit to young UTI patients. The result would be a greater reliance on much more costly intravenous medications.

The problem of antibiotic resistance for bacterial infections has been on the minds of scientist for some time now.  Cases are increasing at an unprecedented rate causing alarm and a call for more public education and due diligence on the part of physicians that prescribes antibiotics.

Story source: Alan Mozes, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160316/antibiotic-resistance-common-in-kids-urinary-tract-infections

 

 

Your Child

Testing Your Child for Hearing Problems

1:30

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

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

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

Hearing loss can occur if a child:

•       Was born prematurely

•       Stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

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

•       Was given medications that can lead to hearing loss

•       Has family members with childhood hearing loss

•       Had certain complications at birth

•       Had many ear infections

•       Had infections such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•       Limited, poor, or no speech

•       Frequently inattentive

•       Difficulty learning

•       Seems to need higher TV volume

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Your Child

Childhood Obesity; It’s a Family Affair

2.00 to read

Although there seems to be non-stop discussion about the influence modern day society has on our children, one fact remains the same. Parents and caregivers have the biggest impact on a child’s life. When it comes to helping obese children lose weight and lead healthier lives, it’s parents who decide what food is purchased, and how much activity a child gets. If parents are not available, then a caregiver makes those importance decisions.

For an obese child to have a real chance at losing weight and living a healthier life, parents, caregivers and other family members should be involved in treatment programs designed to help their children.

The American Heart Association released a scientific statement today on the role of parents, families and caregivers in the treatment of obese kids.

"In many cases, the adults in a family may be the most effective change agents to help obese children attain and maintain a healthier weight," Myles Faith, an associate professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in an American Heart Association (AHA) news release.

"To do so, the adults may need to modify their own behavior and try some research-based strategies," added Faith, who is the chair of the writing group that published an AHA scientific statement in the Jan. 23 issue of Circulation.

But let’s be honest…. old habits are hard to break. That’s why the more people you have working together the more likely you’ll be successful in making the changes you want.  Most families dealing with obesity really want to help family members lose weight  – they often just need a better game plan to help guide them.

One of the most important messages to parents is that they need to lead by example. It is entirely unrealistic for children to change their food and physical activity behaviors on their own. Too often, during the week, family meals consist of high calorie-high / high-fat fast foods. Then the weekend is an all-you-can-eat buffet style breakfast and dinner.

Lack of exercise only adds to the difficulty in dropping unhealthy pounds.

Technology has gotten a lot of the blame for keeping kids in chairs or on couches, but it can also be beneficial. Computers and smart phones may be beneficial in self-monitoring and goal setting for children and their parents. Games such as “Dance Dance Revolution” along with “Wii Fit” and a host of others get kids and even adults up and moving.  In lieu of blaming technology for being a culprit, perhaps viewing it as an opportunity to reach children and teens in the medium they understand may be the best way to communicate healthful behaviors.

Faith adds “Teaching families to identify how many calories they take in from food, and burn during exercise, is a core component to most family treatment programs that have been studied.  Parents and children become more ‘calorie-literate’ in a sense, so they better understand how many calories are in a burger vs. apple vs. water bottle. This knowledge sets the stage for behavior change, and can be an eye opener for many parents.”

Faith and his colleagues identified a number of strategies that have been linked to better outcomes, including:

  • Working together as a family to identify specific behaviors that need to be changed.
  •  Setting clearly defined goals -- such as limiting TV viewing to no more than two hours per day -- and monitoring progress.
  •  Creating a home environment that encourages healthier choices, such as having fruit in the house instead of high-calorie desserts or snacks.
  •  Making sure parents commend children when they make progress, and don't criticize them if they do backslide. Instead, helping children identify ways to make different decisions if they're faced with the same kind of situation again.
  •  Never using food as a punishment or reward.
  •  Keeping track of progress toward goals.

"While these strategies were implemented by health care professionals in a treatment program, the psychological principles on which they are based provide sound guidance for families of obese children as well," Faith said.

A healthy life starts in infancy. For too many years, people just didn’t know much about the nutritional aspect of eating. You’re hungry-you eat. But now, there is an abundance of information, millions of studies that have been conducted, and a food’s calorie, fat, carbohydrate and sodium count is on every label or at your fingertips on the computer. The result of not paying attention to what we put in our mouths is having a devastating impact on families’ lives.

There are many ways to get up-to-date on your child's health. Pediatricians can be critical in the education of parents and caregivers in the optimum feeding and physical activity behaviors for raising healthy children.  Daycare centers, WIC and even grandparents can play a positive role in influencing health outcomes in children.

Denial and ignorance will not make obesity go away. Overweight and obese children seldom outgrow it and they carry that weight-and all its health consequences-into adulthood. Make health a priority for the entire family, and with education, support and good planning everyone will benefit now and for generations to come.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about childhood obesity and treatment at http://news.yahoo.com/parents-may-hold-key-treating-kids-obesity-2104138...

Sources: http://news.yahoo.com/parents-may-hold-key-treating-kids-obesity-2104138...http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/01/24/aha-childhood-obesity-needs-to-...

Your Child

Bullied Kids at Risk for Health problems as Adults

2:00

Being teased or humiliated by fellow classmates in school was once just a part of growing up for many kids. No one took it very seriously and children were basically told to either deal with it or physically fight back.

That began to change when bullying tactics changed from one-on-one painful snubs or pushing in the hallways to shaming and hateful social media taunts. All of a sudden everyone was in on the game and there was no where to hide or seek refuge from the never-ending onslaught of mean spirited and sometimes violent threats to a child’s very existence.

Bullying had reached a new stage of hurtfulness and too often the coping mechanism from children who were bullied was and still is suicide. Schools, parents and peers began to take notice and implement strategies to stop the bullying – at least in public environments.

Some of these strategies have been very effective and kids, as well as parents, are much more aware of the dangers that can come from bullying. However, there is always someone who thinks that they have a right to humiliate someone else. While it is more a reflection of the insecurity and abnormal personality of the person doing the bullying, the recipient still feels the pain and harbors the emotional damage to their self-value.

A new study looks at the possible future health hazards for children who have been bullied. Their findings reveal that adults who were bullied in childhood may be at an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

"Our research has already shown a link between childhood bullying and risk of mental health disorders in children, adolescents and adults, but this study is the first to widen the spectrum of adverse outcomes to include risks for cardiovascular disease at mid-life," said senior study author Louise Arseneault. She is a professor from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London.

"Evidently, being bullied in childhood does get under your skin," she said in a college news release.

The long-term study involved analyzed data from more than 7,100 people.  Participants in the study included all the children from England, Scotland and Wales that were born during one week in 1958. Their parents provided information on whether the participants were bullied at ages 7 and 11.

By age 45, more than one-quarter of women who were occasionally or frequently bullied during childhood were obese, compared to 19 percent of those who never experienced bullying, the study found. Both men and women who were bullied during childhood were more likely to be overweight.

Compared to those who weren't bullied, men and women who were bullied had higher levels of blood inflammation, putting them at increased risk for heart attack and age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, according to the researchers.

Like most studies, results didn’t show an actual cause and effect relationship, only an association or link between being bullied and future health risks.

"Bullying is a part of growing up for many children from all social groups," Arseneault said. "While many important school programs focus on preventing bullying behaviors, we tend to neglect the victims and their suffering. Our study implies that early interventions in support of the bullied children could not only limit psychological distress but also reduce physical health problems in adulthood."

Andrea Danese, a study co-author, pointed out that obesity and high blood inflammation can lead to potentially life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Taking steps to prevent these conditions is important, Danese said in the news release.

"The effects of being bullied in childhood on the risk for developing poor health later in life are relatively small compared to other factors," Danese added. "However, because obesity and bullying are quite common these days, tackling these effects may have a real impact."

Counseling coupled with family support for children who have been or are being bullied can offer tremendous value to helping a child disconnect with the hurtful words and actions of others. No one likes to be made fun of or taunted for some slight “imperfection”, but those kinds of things can linger in the mind and wear on one’s self-value. The sooner they are dealt with and put in their true perspective, the quicker one can let them go.

The study was published May 20 in the journal Psychological Medicine.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/bullying-health-news-718/bullying-heart-disease-psych-med-kcl-release-batch-1756-699576.html

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