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Your Child

Are Some Kid’s Behavioral Issues Really Medical Problems?



If a child has a cold, rash or any other number of other physical problems, just about every parent is willing to take them to the doctor for treatment. But parents typically don’t seek medical treatment when their child’s anxiety; depression, tantrums or inability to organize their homework are beyond the norm according to a new poll.

A recent University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health finds that many parents of children age 5-17 don’t discuss behavioral or emotional issues that could be signs of potential health problems with their doctors.

According to the poll, more than 60 percent of parents definitely would talk to the doctor if their child was extremely sad for more than a month, only half would discuss temper tantrums that seemed worse than peers or if their child seemed more worried or anxious than normal. Just 37 percent would tell the doctor if their child had trouble organizing homework.

Almost half of the parents polled said they didn’t see these types of behavioral issues as medical problems. Another 40 percent said they prefer to handle the problems themselves and 30 percent said they would rather talk to someone other than a doctor.

“Behavioral health and emotional health are closely tied to a child’s physical health, well-being and development, but our findings suggest that we are often missing the boat in catching issues early,” says Sarah J. Clark, M.P.H., associate director of the National Poll on Children’s Health and associate research scientist in the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics.

“Many children experience challenges with behavior, emotions or learning. The key is for parents to recognize their children’s behavior patterns and share that information with the doctor. Unfortunately, our findings suggest that parents don’t understand their role in supporting their children’s behavioral health.”

Behavioral health problems, also known as mental health problems, affect boys and girls of all ages and can have an impact on their learning, social interactions and physical health.

Some behavioral and emotional issues are short lived and mild – typical childhood behaviors and responses.  However, some behaviors can be signs of long-term problems such as depression, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, mood and behavior disorders or substance abuse. All of these are medical issues that can and should be addressed by physicians or pediatric medical therapists.

“Some behavioral and emotional changes are just part of a child’s natural growth and development and just part of growing up,” Clark says. “However, health care providers rely on parents to describe how children act in their regular, day-to-day lives outside of the doctor’s office in order to identify situations or behaviors that may be signs of larger problems. This conversation between doctors and parents is an essential step that allows providers to assess the severity of the problem, offer parents guidance on strategies to deal with certain behaviors and help families get treatment if needed.”

Many children need help dealing with school stresses such as homework, test anxiety, bullying or peer pressure. Other kids can benefit from an objective third party to help sort out their feelings about family issues, particularly if there is a major transition going on such as divorce, a move or a serious illness. These significant events can trigger behavioral problems that can be addressed and worked through with a therapist.

Sometimes unseen medical issues can be tied to over-anxiousness, depression or ADHD that can be diagnosed and treated successfully under a physician’s care.

If a parent suspects that their child is withdrawing from the family or experiencing panic attacks or prolonged sadness, it’s a good idea to make sure your child has a complete physical and to discuss their symptoms with your pediatrician or family doctor.

The poll was part of a household survey conducted exclusively for GfK Custom Research for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Methods used were typical for previous published studies. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect population figures from the Census Bureau and do not represent the opinions of the University of Michigan, the University of Michigan Health System, or the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

Sources: University of Michigan Health System,


An Apple A Day Could Make You Sick


While having an apple a day is normally considered a healthy food choice, federal investigators have confirmed that there is a correlation between a California apple processing plant and a strain of listeria bacteria responsible for killing seven people and making more than 30 others very sick.

An earlier warning by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked consumers not to eat any pre-packaged, commercially produced caramel apples, including those with other toppings such as nuts, chocolate or sprinkles, until the source of the outbreak was pinpointed. Most of the people infected by listeria fell ill after eating pre-packaged apples.

Reuters reports that tests performed by Food and Drug Administration investigators on samples from the Bidart Bros. processing plant and apples the company supplied to retailers found a connection between the produce and two strains of Listeria monocytogenes responsible for the deadly listeria outbreak.

Bidart Bros., the company supplying the Granny Smith and Gala apples, has issued a voluntary recall of all shipments of the apples – caramel coated or not- still available in the marketplace. The last shipment was made on December 2.

The company advises that consumers should not eat the Granny Smith and Gala apples.  Affected apples can be sold under the brand names “Big B” and “Granny’s Best,” but could also be sold under other brand names or with no brand at all.

Consumers who are buying or have recently purchased Granny Smith or Gala apples should ask their retailers if Bidart Bros. supplied the apples, the company says.

Three other companies – Happy Apples, California Snack Foods and Merb’s Candies – have each announced recalls of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples since news of the contamination began in late December.

Listeria is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems.

According to the Mayo clinic website, symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea.  If listeria spreads into the nervous system, symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion or change on alertness, loss of balance and convulsions.

During pregnancy, a listeria infection is likely to cause only mild signs and symptoms in the mother. The consequences for the baby, however, may be devastating. The baby may die unexpectedly before birth or experience a life-threatening infection within the first few days after birth.

If you have consumed any food that has been recalled or connected with listeria, pay close attention to any possible signs or symptoms. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above – contact your doctor.

Sources: Victoria Cavaliere,

Ashlee Kieler,

Your Baby

Obese During Pregnancy Linked to Obesity in Offspring


Not every time, but often, you’ll see obese couples and their kids are either obese or on the threshold of obesity. While adults have the power and the life experience to understand the health issues associated with obesity, their children – depending on their age- are reliant on on their parents making healthy choices for them.  

 Is generational obesity inherited or a case of families making poor choices where food and exercise are concerned – or both?

Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine wondered if children born to obese moms might be predisposed to being obese due to their womb environment.

The team of scientists analyzed stem cells taken from the umbilical cords of babies born to normal weight and obese mothers. In the lab, they coaxed these stem cells to develop into muscle and fat. The resulting cells from obese mothers had 30% more fat than those from normal weight mothers, suggesting that these babies’ cells were more likely to accumulate fat.

No cause and effect was established, but the scientists noted that further research was needed. “The next step is to follow these offspring to see if there is a lasting change into adulthood,” says the lead presenter, Kristen Boyle, in a statement.

She and her colleagues are already studying the cells to see whether they use and store energy any differently from those obtained from normal-weight mothers, and whether those changes result in metabolic differences such as inflammation or insulin resistance, which can precede heart disease and diabetes.

Other studies have found a high correlation between parents’ Body Mass Index (BMI) numbers and their children ‘s BMI, particularly between mothers and their kids. Further, the BMI of grandmother’s and their grandchildren is also high.

What is a healthy weight gain for a pregnant woman? It depends on how much you weigh before getting pregnant.

The guidelines for pregnancy weight gain are issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM); most recently in May 2009. Here are the most current recommendations:

•       If your pre-pregnancy weight was in the healthy range for your height (a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9), you should gain between 25 and 35 pounds, gaining 1 to 5 pounds in the first trimester and about 1 pound per week for the rest of your pregnancy for the optimal growth of your baby.

•       If you were underweight or your height at conception (a BMI below 18.5), you should gain 28 to 40 pounds.

•       If you were overweight for your height (a BMI of 25 to 29.9), you should gain 15 to 25 pounds. If you were obese (a BMI of 30 or higher), you should gain between 11 and 20 pounds.

•       If you're having twins, you should gain 37 to 54 pounds if you started at a healthy weight, 31 to 50 pounds if you were overweight, and 25 to 42 pounds if you were obese.

These recent findings point out again, how important it is for pregnant women to consider the possible long - term health affects on their unborn offspring when making decisions about their own health.

The report was presented in May to the American Diabetes Association.

Sources: Alice Park,


Your Child

Powerful Narcotic Approved for Children


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,

Michael Jeavons, MD,


Your Baby

Preventing Peanut Allergies with Peanuts


As the number of U.S. children with peanut allergies continues to grow, researchers are looking for ways to help these youngsters overcome or manage their allergy better.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now endorsing a recommendation that infants at high risk of peanut allergies be given foods containing peanuts before their first birthday.

How can you tell if your infant might be at risk for developing a peanut allergy?  Children are considered at high risk if they've had a previous allergic reaction to eggs or experienced a severe eczema skin rash. Allergy tests are recommended before exposing at-risk infants to peanut-containing foods.

An earlier published allergy study found that exposure to peanuts in infancy seemed to help build tolerance -- contrary to conventional thinking that peanuts should be avoided until children are older.

Here’s how the study was conducted.  Researchers in Britain followed 640 babies, 4 months to 11 months old, who were considered at high risk of developing peanut allergies. One group avoided peanuts; the others ate a small amount of peanut protein or peanut butter every week. After five years, the group that ate peanut products had 81 percent fewer peanut allergies than the group that didn't.

"There is now scientific evidence," the AAP says, "that health care providers should recommend introducing peanut-containing products into the diets of 'high-risk' infants early on in life (between 4 and 11 months of age) in countries where peanut allergy is prevalent because delaying the introduction of peanut can be associated with an increased risk of peanut allergy."

The advice comes in a consensus statement that the American Academy of Pediatrics helped prepare and endorsed in June along with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and major allergy groups from Canada, Europe, Japan and elsewhere. The recommendations are meant to serve as interim guidance until more extensive guidelines can be prepared for release next year, the consensus statement said.

While getting the exact percentage of children with peanut allergies is difficult, peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that four out of ten children suffer from a food allergy. It also notes that hospitalizations resulting from severe attacks have been increasing.

Severe cases can cause an allergic child to experience anaphylactic shock, a potentially life-threatening reaction that disrupts breathing and causes a precipitous drop in blood pressure.

Parents who are interested in the idea of treating peanut allergies with peanuts should not attempt to do this themselves. Children, particularly infants, should only be treated under the care of their pediatrician or pediatric allergist.

The AAP’s recommendation on treating peanut allergies with small doses of peanut protein will be published in the August 31 edition of the journal Pediatrics.


Your Child

Recall: MZB Children’s Watches Due to Rash, Chemical Burns


They are cute, keep time and appeal to children who want to own a watch. But, these watches have a defect that can expose children to serious skin irritations including chemical burns.

Nearly two million MZB Children’s “Light Up” Watches have been recalled because the case-back of the watch can detach and expose the interior to water posing a risk of skin irritation, redness, rashes or chemical burns.

This recall involves 303 styles of “Light Up” watches that are identified by style number. A complete list of the serial numbers is listed on the firm’s website The watches have a flexible plastic wristband sold in multiple colors including pink, pink with white snowflakes, green, blue and navy blue. “MZB” and the style number are printed on the case-back of the watches.

The firm has received 11 reports of skin irritations or chemical burns. Six of these consumers have required medical treatment.

The watches were sold at Kmart, Kohl’s, Walmart and other retailers nationwide from October 2012 through June 2015 for between $5 and $20.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled watches away from children and contact MZB for a refund.

MZB can be reached by calling their toll free number at (888) 770-7085 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at and click on Product Safety Notice tab at the top of the homepage for more information.


Your Child

Antibiotics Used in Livestock Affects Children’s Health


The use of antibiotics in food-producing animals has led to a greater risk of life-threatening infections in young children and dramatically reduced medicine’s ability to treat those infections according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Dr. Jerome A. Paulson, FAAP, the lead author and the AAP’s immediate past chair of the executive committee of the Council on Environmental Health, wrote in the introduction: “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most serious threats to public health globally, and threatens our ability to treat infectious diseases.”

More than 2 million people in the United States become ill with antimicrobial-resistant infections each year, resulting in more than 23,000 deaths, Paulson told Healthline.

In 2013, there were more than 19,000 infections involving young children, according to the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, a system operated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that covers 15 percent of the U.S. population. Those infections caused 4,200 hospitalizations and 80 deaths.

The highest incidence rate in this group was for children younger than 5, Paulson said.

“Life-threatening infections are extremely unusual in otherwise healthy children,” he said. “Most life-threatening infections occur in children with other medical problems. That said, healthy children can get pneumonia, from the pneumococcal bacteria, which may be life-threatening. And they can get infections with E. coli 0157, which they may get from contaminated meat, and that can be life-threatening.” 

Consumer Reports notes that approximately 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used by the meat and poultry industry to make animals grow faster or to prevent disease in crowded and unsanitary conditions.

 “These non-therapeutic uses contribute to resistance and create new health dangers for people, and often render antibiotics ineffective when doctors need them to treat infections in humans,” said Paulson, who is also a professor emeritus of pediatrics and of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University’s School of Medicine.

"Children can be exposed to multiple-drug resistant bacteria, which are extremely difficult to treat if they cause an infection, through contact with animals given antibiotics and through consuming the meat of those animals," Paulson said.

"Like humans, farm animals should receive appropriate antibiotics for bacterial infections,” he added. “However, the indiscriminate use of antibiotics without a prescription or the input of a veterinarian puts the health of children at risk.”

Paulson suggests that parents purchase meat and poultry that has not been raised using antimicrobial agents.

The report authors note that many antimicrobial agents used in food animals are the same as or similar to those used in human medicine.

“Unlike in human medicine,” they wrote, “antibiotic agents in food animals may often be used without a prescription or any veterinary oversight.”

“This issue is a danger to adults and children,” Paulson said. “The American Academy of Pediatrics, of course, only has the expertise to weigh in on the situation as it relates to children. The AAP has published this technical report to bring attention to the problem.” 

Paulson also noted that physicians should be judicious in prescribing antibiotics.

“Antibiotics should never be prescribed for colds, for upper-respiratory tract infections unless they are known to be bacterial in nature, or for other ill-defined purposes. Veterinarians should control the use of antimicrobial agents in animals, and such agents should not be added to feed or water to promote growth.”

To avoid meats and poultry laced with antibiotics, parents can look for certain labels on the poultry or meats they buy. The website,, offers several lables consumers can check out.  

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) verifies that foods containing the certified USDA Organic label come from animals that have never been given antibiotics.

Food Alliance also verifies that their animals are not given sub-therapeutic antibiotics. Look for food products that have the FA label.

American Grassfed label also guarantees that the animal was never given antibiotics.

The report was published in the November 16, 2015 journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Patrick Keeffe,

Gretel H. Schueller,


Your Child

Recall: Children’s Cough Syrup


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:


·      H.E.B

·      CVS


·      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,

Your Baby

Preventing Peanut Allergies in High-Risk Children


New research suggests that, under clinical supervision, children that are at a high risk for developing a peanut allergy can build a lasting tolerance to the legume.

Children that participated in the new study were fed peanuts for years as part of a supervised clinical trial. Now, the researchers are reporting that those youngsters maintained their tolerance for at least a year, even if they didn't keep eating peanuts.

"The therapy persisted, and after 12 months of avoidance there was no increase in the rates of peanut allergy. They maintained their ability to tolerate peanuts, even though they hadn't been eating it," said Dr. Sherry Farzan, an allergist with Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. Farzan wasn't involved in the research.

This suggests that the immune system "learns" that peanut is not a threat to the body, and kids won't have to keep eating peanuts for the rest of their lives to maintain their tolerance, said Dr. Scott Sicherer. He's a pediatric allergy specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Sicherer also wasn't part of the current study.

This study is an extension of the groundbreaking LEAP (Learning Early about Peanut Allergy) clinical trial. Last year, that trial found that feeding peanuts to at-risk babies for 60 months reduced their risk of developing a peanut allergy. The study determined an infant's risk of peanut allergy using an allergy skin test.

Before the original LEAP study results, physicians told parents to avoid exposing their child to allergic foods until they were older and their immune system were more developed.

But the LEAP trial found that exposing at-risk kids to peanuts regularly beginning in infancy actually prevented peanut allergies by the time they reached age 5, Sicherer said. Eating peanuts lowered the rate of peanut allergy by 80 percent in the now-preschoolers, according to the study authors.

"For this high-risk group, waiting longer and longer to eat peanut isn't good," Sicherer said. "It's better to get it into your diet as soon as possible."

Both Farzan and Sicherer warned that this type of preventive strategy should only be given under a doctor’s supervision.

And, this prevention therapy is only for kids at risk of peanut allergy, not for kids who already have developed the allergy, Sicherer warned.

"If you have someone who already had a peanut allergy and gave them peanuts, then they'd get sick and maybe end up in an emergency room," he said.

After the initial study, researchers wanted to know if the children who were successful at building a tolerance to peanuts would have to eat them regularly for the rest of their lives.

To answer this question, the researchers followed more than 500 of the original 640 children for a one-year period of peanut avoidance. Half of this group included previous peanut consumers. The other half had always avoided peanuts.


After 12 months of peanut avoidance, only 5 percent of the original peanut consumers were found to be allergic, compared to 19 percent of the original peanut avoiders, the findings showed.

"This study offers reassurance that eating peanut-containing foods as part of a normal diet -- with occasional periods of time without peanut -- will be a safe practice for most children following successful tolerance therapy," said Dr. Gerald Nepom. He is director of the Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), the consortium behind the LEAP trial.

"The immune system appears to remember and sustain its tolerant state, even without continuous regular exposure to peanuts," he added in an ITN news release.

Farzan said there appears to be a "critical period" between 4 and 11 months where "we can push the immune system around a little."

Farzan and Sicherer both said that by the time kids reach age 5, the immune system appears to have accepted that peanuts aren't a danger to the body.

"After following this pattern, it may not be that important anymore, at least after age 5, to worry if someone isn't keeping up," Sicherer said. "It may not be necessary to keep up with such consistent ingestion."

According to the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health, food allergies affect between 2 and 10 percent of U.S. children. Peanut allergy is considered the most fatal food allergy. 

The LEAP study, and now with the results from its extended research, may offer a new generation of children a chance at preventing this problematic allergy altogether.

Story source: HealthDay reporter Dennis Thompson,



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Struggling with feeding your kids healthy (er) meals. Rule of thumb: don't stress over it!


Struggling with feeding your kids healthy (er) meals. Rule of thumb: don't stress over it!

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