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Your Baby

“Furry Pets” May Help Kids Avoid Some Allergies

2:00

You might think that having pets would be a nightmare if you have small children with a family history of allergies. A new study says that furry pets may actually help protect children against some allergies.

The infants’ mothers had a history of allergy, so the babies were at increased risk too, and it was once thought that pets might be a trigger for allergies in such children, the authors point out in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“Earlier it was thought that exposure to pets early in childhood was a risk factor for developing allergic disease,” said Dr. Merja Nermes of the University of Turku in Finland, who coauthored the research letter. “Later epidemiologic studies have given contradictory results and even suggested that early exposure to pets may be protective against allergies, though the mechanisms of this protective effect have remained elusive.”

Adding pet microbes to the infant intestinal biome may strengthen the immune system, she told Reuters Health by email.

The study team collected fecal samples from diapers when the babies were one month of age and these were tested for the DNA of two types of Bifidobacteria that are found specifically in animal guts: B. thermophilum and B. pseudolongum.

One third of infants from the pet-exposed group had animal-specific bifidobacteria in their fecal samples, compared to 14 percent of the comparison group. It’s not clear where the infants without furry pets at home acquired their gut bacteria, the authors write.

When the babies were six months old they had skin prick tests to assess allergies to cow’s milk, egg white, flours, cod, soybeans, birch, grasses, cat, dog, potato, banana and other allergens.

At six months of age, 19 infants had reactions to at least one of the allergens tested. None of these infants had B. thermophilum bacteria in their fecal samples.

Other studies have pointed out the connection between kids exposed to farm animals and household pets and building a better immune system.

“When infants and furry pets live in a close contact in the same household, transfer of microbiota between pets and infants occurs,” Nermes said. “For example, when a dog licks the infant´s face or hand, the pet-derived microbiota can end up via the mouth into the infant´s intestine.”

Human-specific Bifidobacteria have beneficial health effects, and animal-specific strains may also be beneficial, she said. It is still unclear, however, if exposure to these bacteria protects against allergies later in life, she said.

“Future research is needed to assess if these infants develop less atopic dermatitis, asthma or allergic rhinitis later,” she said.

Nermes also noted that she believes pediatricians should not discourage pregnant women or parents of infants from having pets in order to prevent allergies.

“If a family with a pregnant mother or an infant wants to have a pet, the family can be encouraged to have one, because the development of allergic disease cannot be prevented by avoiding pets,” she said.

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/10/us-health-allergy-pet-microbes-idUSKCN0RA2CK20150910

 

 

Parenting

Recall: Samsung Washing Machine –Top Can Detach

1:30

Washing machines are a necessity for growing families. If you own a Samsung top-loading washer, family members could be in danger of being injured if the top detaches during use.

About 2.8 million Samsung top-loading washing machines are being recalled after 733 reports of the washing machines experiencing excessive vibration or the top detaching from the washing machine chassis.  There are nine related reports of injuries, including a broken jaw, injured shoulder, and other impact or fall-related injuries.

This recall involves 34 models of Samsung top-load washing machines.  The washing machines have mid-controls or rear-controls. Model numbers and serial information can be found on two labels affixed to the back of the machine.. Consumers should check with Samsung to see if their washer is recalled.

A list of the models affected by this recall can be found online at www.Samsung.com and click on the recall notice at the top of the page for more information. You can also call 866-264-5636 from 8 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

If you own one of the recalled models, contact Samsung immediately to receive one of the following remedy options. Consumers can choose (1) a free in-home repair that includes reinforcement of the washer’s top and a free one-year extension of the manufacturer’s warranty; (2) a rebate to be applied towards the purchase of a new Samsung or other brand washing machine, along with free installation of the new unit and removal of old unit; or (3) a full refund for consumers who purchased their washing machine within the past 30 days of the recall announcement.

All known consumers will also receive a Home Label Kit that includes a control panel guide and additional safety instructions in the mail.

Until they have received and installed a Home Label Kit, consumers should only use the delicate or waterproof cycles when washing bedding, water-resistant and bulky items.  The lower spin speed in the delicate or waterproof cycles lessens the risk of the washing machine top unexpectedly detaching from the washing machine chassis.

The washing machines were sold at Best Buy, The Home Depot, Lowes, Sears and other home appliance stores nationwide from March 2011 to November 2016 for between $450 and $1,500.

Story source: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/Samsung-Recalls-Top-Load-Washing-Machines

  

 

 

Daily Dose

Happy Thanksgiving!

1:30 to read

This is the week that really kicks off the holiday season and for me it often begins with reflection.  I am often guilty of not appreciating the many blessings that I have, and rather focus on just getting through one day at a time. But as I reflect, I realize that I have so much to be grateful for and much of that gratitude is for my family.

When you are in the throes of parenting, I think it is sometimes hard to appreciate many of the blessings that we have as families. As parents we are anxious for the next stage, whether that is having a baby sleep through the night or wanting your child to talk, start school, begin to read, or finish their college applications. Parenting is so often about looking ahead rather than living in the moment.

It is sometimes hard to take a breath and sit on the floor and play with your baby, or let your elementary school child read you a book at bedtime, or enjoy editing your high school student’s next paper (why was that always a Sunday night at 9 pm event?).  But, from someone who has been there, sit back, take a breath, put down your electronics and appreciate whatever stage your child is in right now!  For this too shall pass...

Why not take a minute during Thanksgiving and ask each one of your children what they are thankful for, and write their answers down on a note card to file away to read years from now. It is fun to see their answers and how their gratitude changes with age....some of their answers are funny, others are quite thought provoking.

As our family grows, now with a granddaughter and a new daughter in law, I find myself trying to take my own advice. We are fortunate to be gathering together for Thanksgiving and I am going to “re-start” the tradition with their comments on paper... No more trying to remember what they said and no videos either. Just a note card that each of us will write on and a box to keep the cards in.  One day our adult children and their children can read all of these comments...and be thankful for family. 

Daily Dose

Making Memories

1.15 to read

I am seeing so many patients this summer for their routine check ups and it makes me realize how much I love the elementary school years!  All of the parenting years are great, but those years when your child is between the ages of 5 - 11 are especially precious! These are really the years that so many family memories are made. 

When I am seeing these children for their check-ups I always ask them what they’ve been doing over the summer.  Their faces light up as they talk about trips to see grandparents, or trips to the lake or special trips to the beach or the mountains. Whether the trip is just to the local pool or to far off places, these are the times that children love being with their family!!  The family pictures are always of smiling children (many with missing teeth) who are so happy to be posing with their Mom, Dad and siblings doing the many things that families do during the lazy days of summer...swimming, boating, digging sand castles, fishing, cooking out...any number of summer activities.  The pictures are always cute and the kids love being photographed.  Great Christmas card material! 

Now, fast forward to the “tween-teen” years.  There are the same trips to see grandparents or to the beach and some lucky children will get to travel to exotic places. But, in many cases the “kids” are being “forced” to gather for that special picture. It is almost like you have to pull those front teeth to get them to pose for a picture. There is suddenly “attitude” in the photo. Have you had that same experience?  How quickly our children change. 

The elementary school years are so great!! The kids are big enough to travel, enjoy the trip and to behave (usually).  The memories of being together with your children during a special summer trip and immortalizing it in photos is really a photo moment. (it is probably more like a digital moment these days)  Pure joy! 

You simply can’t take enough pictures of your children experiencing a new adventure, or time spent with a grandparent or heading out for camp.  These are the pictures that you will use one day for the high school yearbook page, or the graduation video or even the rehearsal dinner. Every family has these pictures and to remember the time together couldn’t be more special! 

So, go make memories with those 5-11 year olds. It doesn’t get better.... and yes those special times do continue, but they maybe a bit different as your children hit that next phase the tween/teen years.   

That’s’ your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Child

New Flu Vaccine for 2015-2016

1:45

Last year’s flu vaccine wasn’t as effective as previous vaccines, but this year’s vaccine should be a much better match according to Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

Typically, the vaccine is 50 to 60 percent effective, making your chances of getting the flu reduced by as much as 60 percent if you get a flu shot.

This year’s flu vaccine contains the H3N2 strain, Frieden said. Last year's vaccine was only 13 percent effective against the H3N2 strain. As a result, "more seniors were hospitalized for the flu than ever before."

What's more, 145 children died from the flu, Frieden said, adding that the actual number was "probably much higher since many flu deaths aren't reported."

About 50 percent of the American population gets vaccinated every flu season. That includes pregnant women. More people, including pregnant women, need to be vaccinated, Frieden said.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu shot every year.

Frieden said there's an adequate supply of flu vaccine this year. Companies are expected to make 170 million doses of vaccine, of which 40 million have already been distributed, he said.

People at risk of flu-related complications include young children, especially those younger than 2 years; people over 65; pregnant women; and people with chronic health problems, such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes, as well as those with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC.

Most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.

Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

The CDC encourages people to get a flu shot preferably by October. Those children aged 6 months through 8 years who need two doses of vaccine should receive the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least four weeks apart.

During this flu season:

•       Intramuscular (IM) vaccines will be available in both trivalent and quadrivalent formulations. (High dose vaccines, which are IM vaccines, will all be trivalent this season.)

•       For people who are 18 through 64 years old, a jet injector can be used for delivery of one particular trivalent flu vaccine.

•       Nasal spray vaccines will all be quadrivalent this season.

•       Intradermal vaccine will all be quadrivalent.

The quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

It’s hard to believe that we’re about to head into the flu season, particularly with so many states still experiencing summer like weather. But we are, and getting a flu shot early can help protect you and your family from a virus no one wants to get.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/no-embargo-this-year-s-flu-vaccine-better-match-703392.html

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2015-2016.htm

Daily Dose

Start a ‘Thanksgiving Box’ For Your Family

If you have young children start a Thanksgiving blessing box, what a wonderful way to make family memories.I was walking with my "five women walking group", a ritual that occurs most weekdays at 5:30 am. I am telling you we could solve many world problems! But I am digressing. We share many stories of our families, as our children have grown up together despite going to various schools. One most recent one was about "the blessing box". This was a 3x5 index card box that her family had. Every year she and her husband and their two daughters would write down a Thanksgiving blessing (with a little coaxing by Mom) something that they were each thankful for.

Every year the cards were read at Thanksgiving dinner and put away in the box until the following year. This tradition continued and the mother, in anticipation of Thanksgiving and her girls returning home from college, had just pulled out the blessing box. She recounted this to us this week during our walk. She also had us laughing out loud (LOL, as her girls would text) at some of the blessings that had been written over the years. We also laughed as she told us to guess which daughter had written which quotation (one wrote, " I am thankful for my cat" while the other wrote, "I am thankful for pink fingernail polish"). Of course, we knew who wrote what. The point of this story is if you have young children start the Thanksgiving blessing box, what a wonderful way to make family memories. I only wish someone had told me about this tradition 20 years ago rather than last week! That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow.

Parenting

Family Road Trip!

1:45

With gasoline prices at a reasonable level, many families may choose to skip the hassles of flying and opt for a road trip this summer.

While it may be true, “The best made plans of mice and men often go awry”, it’s still necessary to prepare as best you can for a family road trip; whether it’s to the Grand Canyon, the beach, the grandparents or all of the above.

Before the trip, make sure that the car is in good condition. Have it checked out by a mechanic and any trouble spots fixed. The tires should have plenty of tread and the recommended amount of air for highway travel.

Once you’re ready for the big trip, here are some suggestions to help make it a little less stressful and more fun.

Packing the car:

·      Pack an easily accessible small bag that contains clothes for the next day, an extra change of clothes (for spills), PJs, a toothbrush, and anything else you need for that day and night. It will be much easier to grab than trying to rummage through the big suitcase.

·      Take your toddler or young child’s blanket and pillow. This is extra important if your road trip includes an overnight stay. Kids like their own stuff, particularly at bedtime in a strange place.

·      Babies and toddlers drop, spill, and spit up. Keep a roll of paper towels and a box of wipes in the front seat for easy cleanups. Keep a garbage bag handy too.

The Ride:

Boredom is probably the biggest instigator of trouble for kids packed into a tight space. Prepare to fight boredom with a few tricks of your own.

·      Snacks. Although it only provides a short respite, any quiet time is appreciated. Go light on the sugar – too much can backfire. Choose fresh or dried fruit, whole grain muffins, popcorn, cheese sticks, milk etc. In other words, something healthy and age appropriate.

·      Portable DVD players. These can be a lifesaver. Load up on your children’s favorite movies and don’t forget the headsets if you have different aged kids. Eleven year-olds and three year-olds don’t typically share the same taste in movies and video games. New DVDs they haven’t already seen are a bonus. Let the kids pick out what they want to watch ahead of time. And, make sure you have an extra set of headsets; you know someone is either going to lose a pair or break a pair. That’s a given.

·      If there is more than one adult traveling – one of you can get in the backseat for a while. A little face-to-face contact, some patty-cake, and a few tickling games go a long way toward distracting a cranky baby or a bored toddler.

·      Make sure some favorite toys are within easy reach. You might add a new toy or two your little one hasn’t seen before. Remember etch-a-sketch? Tech savvy youngsters are coming up with some amazing etchings these days!

·      Don’t forget to plan for stops. You'll have to stop for feedings, diaper changes, and stretching breaks. You'll be much less stressed if you accept that it may take twice as long to get there as it did in your pre-kid days and plan accordingly. Pre-teens and teens are going to need to move around too. Besides, sitting for an extended length of time isn’t good for anyone.

Oh, and someone is going to need a potty break soon after the pre-arranged stop has happened. Be patient and pull over, it’s really a lot easier and less taxing than a yelling match about “why didn’t you go when we stopped 30 minutes ago?”

·      If your trip requires an overnight stay somewhere, think about booking a motel that has an indoor pool. It may cost a little more, but it's something to look forward to, and it will help your children sleep better. If they sleep better, you’ll probably sleep better too.

·      Don’t forget about books (or e-books) for the kids that like to read. Coloring books for the younger ones, and brush up on some travel games the whole family can join in on. Here are a few tried and true suggestions. I Spy (I spy with my little eye, something red.) The License Plate Game. Keep a list of all the different state license plates you see. The goal is to list as many states as possible- although Hawaii might be a real challenge anywhere but in Hawaii. The Memory Game. Start a story with one sentence. The next person has to say that sentence then add his or her own sentence to the story. The story can change pretty quickly as everyone tries to remember all the previous sentences and then come up with a new one.

While road trips can be a challenge, they are always an adventure and often become fond memories, as kids grow older.

Have fun this summer and don’t forget to take lots of pictures!

Story source: http://www.parents.com/fun/vacation/ideas/traveling-with-kids-ultimite-guide/

 

Daily Dose

Traveling With an Infant

A common concern among new parents traveling is "what do we need to take for the your-baby in case they get sick?"Today really marks the last few days of frenzy in my office before the Christmas holiday. School has been out for several days and now begins the familiar pilgrimage of family travel to be together for the holidays. Packing up the kids, pets, gifts etc can be daunting, but a common concern among new parents is "what do we need to take for the your-baby in case they get sick." The combination of air travel and the germs one is exposed to while sitting with 200 of your closest friends, combined with family gatherings with children of all ages, definitely promises to promote colds. But, that being said, unless you have a newborn, the holidays are about family and traditions, so a cold is worth it!

When taking a your-baby their first trip you should be prepared. That was not the case when we flew with our son to L.A. for his first Christmas. What did I know, I was a new doctor and mother and inexperienced in both. Of course we packed gifts (very important for a six-month-old), special toys, clothes for all types of weather etc. What I did not prepare for was illness. So at 2:00 a.m. on day three of the visit (airplane germs have incubated) the your-baby awakens crying and hot. That would be my assessment, as I have brought nothing to take a temp or treat a fever for that matter. Off we go to the 24-hour 7/11 store to buy a thermometer, Tylenol and Pedialyte. Over the course of the next three days he continues to run a fever so we end up in a random E.R. in order that he may be examined by a "real doctor" or at least one that is more prepared than I was. Of course, after sitting for hours and numerous tests he is pronounced to have a VIRUS and we are sent home with more Tylenol. He then develops a viral rash just in time for returning home. It was an epiphany as a mother and doctor. Be prepared! When packing for that first trip, I would recommend taking fewer clothes (your-baby clothes are easy to wash) and scale down with toys, but DO PACK: a thermometer, Tylenol and ibuprofen drops with appropriate dosing charts, a bulb syringe for nasal suction and saline nose drops. A good gift for grandparents to own is a cool mist humidifier if there are numerous young grandchildren visiting each year. Families, holidays and unfortunately viral infections often come together, but they are usually short lived and an inconvenience. Having your few medical items at hand makes it even easier to deal with, and I am now a believer in the adage, "if I take it I won't need it". That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow.

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Your Teen

Good Family Relationships Helps Teens Avoid Obesity

1:30

Two of the most valuable resources a teen can have are a stable family and a good relationship with their parents. Adolescents that have these two important components in their lives are more likely to develop healthy habits that may protect them from obesity, according to new study.

"A high level of family dysfunction may interfere with the development of healthful behaviors due to the families' limited ability to develop routines related to eating, sleep or activity behaviors, which can lead to excess weight gain," said the study's lead author, Jess Haines, of the University of Guelph in Ontario.

For the study, the researchers reviewed information on about 3,700 daughters and 2,600 sons, aged 14 to 24, in the United States.

About 80 percent reported having close and stable families. The findings showed that 60 percent of daughters and 50 percent of sons said they had a good relationship with their parents.

Researchers also found that teens with good family relationships are more likely to be more active and get enough sleep. Two factors, in addition to a healthy diet, that contributes to reasonable weight control.

The daughters in these families ate less fast food, and were less likely to be overweight or obese, the researchers discovered.

They also noted that fathers play an important role in helping their sons develop better choices that allow them to maintain a healthy weight.

"Much of the research examining the influence of parents has typically examined only the mother's influence or has combined information across parents," Haines said in a university news release.

"Our results underscore the importance of examining the influence fathers have on their children, and to develop strategies to help fathers support the development of healthy behaviors among their children," she said.

"It appears the father-son parent relationship has a stronger influence on sons than the mother-daughter relationship has on young women," said Haines.

As kids grow into adolescents, a tug of war between independence and parental control often develops. Research has shown that ongoing positive family relationships offer protective influences for teens against a range of risky behaviors. Sometimes it may feel like as our teens mature, family influence begins to wane - but that’s not the reality. This study points out how important a stable home life and good relationships are in helping teens develop a lifetime of healthy habits.

The study was published recently in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/family-health-news-749/parents-play-key-role-in-teens-health-712354.html

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