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Daily Dose

SIDS Risks

1.30 to read

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is every parent’s worst nightmare. From the time a family has their new baby until that child is 1 year of age, SIDS is of a concern. 

Most new parents in 2012 know about the Back to Sleep campaign (BTS), which was recommended by the AAP in 1994. After  the recommendation for newborn’s sleep position was changed from prone (tummy) to supine (back) the incidence of SIDS in the U.S. showed a sharp decline (more than 50%) over the first 10 year period. Unfortunately, the overall SIDS rate has plateaued since that time, and SIDS is still the leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S. 

A study in the April 2012 issue of the journal Pediatrics looked at risk factors for SIDS. Parents need to know that greatest risk for SIDS is during the first 12 months of life (the so named “Critical” development period). There are also both intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors for SIDS as well. All of these factors contribute to the vulnerability for SIDS. 

The peak incidence for SIDS is still between 2-4 months of a baby’s life. (postnatal age). The intrinsic risk factors for SIDS include, male gender, prematurity, genetic differences (now being found called polymorphisms) and a child’s prenatal exposure to cigarettes and/or alcohol. Extrinsic risk factors include tummy or side sleep position, bed sharing, over bundling, soft bedding and a child’s face being covered.  In this study 99% of SIDS infants had at least 1 risk factor, and 57% had at least 2 extrinsic and 1 intrinsic risk factors. Only 5% of the SIDS victims studied had no extrinsic risk. I think this is important for all parents to know! 

So what can parent’s do to lower the risk of SIDS for their baby?  Well, while you cannot change the peak incidence of SIDS between 2-4 months of a baby’s life there is a lot you can do! 

Looking at intrinsic factors:  gender is a 50-50 deal and seeing that I have 3 sons, I don’t know a lot about gender selection, so will not even touch that topic. But, you can prevent prenatal cigarette and alcohol exposure, and every pregnant mother (and father due to second had smoke issues) should eliminate smoking. That sounds easy enough. 

Prematurity may be lessened when a mother is healthy prior to her pregnancy and continues to do as much as possible during her pregnancy to ensure a full term birth. Basically maintaining a healthy diet, getting good prenatal care and listening to your doctor will help to prevent many pre-term births. 

Extrinsic factors are the easiest to change. While prone sleep positioning is a large risk factor for SIDS, there is now evidence that some other risks may appear in conjunction with sleep position.  Putting a baby on their side where they may roll to their tummies may be one issue.  Leaving soft objects or blanket in the crib may be another. Bed sharing is also not advised. 

So, the so-called “triple risk factors” for SIDS may be important information in providing risk reduction strategies for parents and caregivers. Any change that may lessen the risk of SIDS is meaningful and beneficial and will help new parents sleep a bit better as well!  I also did not see any mention of video cameras in the room as a reduction in risk, just saying..... 

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

Parenting

Any Benefits From Eating Your Own Placenta?

2:00

Here’s a medical study I never thought I’d read –“Are there health benefits associated with eating your own placenta after giving birth”?

Well…no, according to a research team from Northwestern University in Chicago. In fact, there may be a few health risks associated with ingesting placenta.

As I read the study’s findings, I began to wonder; who thought this was a good idea in the first place?

It turns out that throughout history there have been some cultures in which women ate the placenta after giving birth. It’s called placentophagy.

Some animals are known to also eat their afterbirth.

Apparently its’ also become the thing among a few celebrity mothers. While some believe that fresh placenta provides the most benefits, others elect to make a smoothie or have it dried, processed and made into pills.

However, the question still remains – is there any real benefit from eating placenta whether it’s raw, processed, made into a smoothie or pill, grilled or baked?

Scientists from Northwestern University pored over accumulated research that has been done on the topic.  The bottom line is that they could not find any evidence that there are any health benefits to placentophagy and that there may be unknown risks to mothers and their infants.

"Our sense is that women choosing placentophagy, who may otherwise be very careful about what they are putting into their bodies during pregnancy and nursing, are willing to ingest something without evidence of its benefits and, more importantly, of its potential risks to themselves and their nursing infants," study lead author and psychologist Cynthia Coyle said in a Northwestern news release.

In the study, Coyle's team reviewed data from 10 published studies. They found no data to support that eating the placenta -- either raw, cooked or in pill form -- protects against postpartum depression, reduces pain after childbirth, increases a woman's energy, helps with lactation, improves mother-child bonding, replenishes iron in the body, or improves skin elasticity. All touted as reasons many of the celebrity moms chose to give it a try.

The researchers also said that there are no studies examining the risks associated with eating the placenta, which acts as a filter to absorb and protect fetuses from toxins and pollutants.

Coyle noted that "there are no regulations as to how the placenta is stored and prepared, and the dosing is inconsistent. Women really don't know what they are ingesting."

If placentophagy appeals to you, be sure and check with your hospital or birthing center first. Many hospitals dispose of the placenta as bio-hazardous waste along with the other medical waste that occurs during birth (needles, blood, gloves etc.). You’ll most likely have to make arrangements ahead of time or find a more accommodating provider.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20150604/new-moms-gain-no-benefit-from-eating-placenta-studies-show

Your Teen

AAP: Raise the Smoking Age to 21 for Tobacco, e-Cigarettes

2:00

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes raised to 21 across the United States. In new policy recommendations, the AAP released a statement urging more than two- dozen tough regulations to help reduce youth smoking and addiction to nicotine.

Nicotine is considered physically and psychologically addictive, with some experts claiming that it is as additive and hard to kick as heroin and other hard narcotics.

The AAP also calls for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finally regulate e-cigarettes the same way it regulates other tobacco products. The FDA has issued a proposed rule that would extend the agency’s tobacco authority to cover additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes.

"Most adolescents don't use just one nicotine product but will commonly use or experiment with several," said Dr. Harold Farber, lead author of two of the statements and a pediatric pulmonologist at Texas Children's Hospital. "Research to date shows that adolescents who experiment with e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes are much more likely to go on to become regular cigarette smokers and less likely to stop cigarette smoking."

Currently, only Hawaii and about 90 cities and communities in several other states have a law requiring a minimum age of 21 to purchase tobacco products, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"As the brain matures, the ability to make decisions with important health consequences should likewise improve," said Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. "Thus, slightly older young adults may choose to forgo tobacco products," suggested Fisher, who was not involved with the new policy recommendations.

Not only would the AAP like to see e-cigarettes regulated, but also their candy-like flavors and menthol eliminated.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  more adolescents used e-cigarettes than any other tobacco product in 2014.

In addition to calling for FDA control of e-cigarettes, the AAP recommended that smoke-free laws expand to include e-cigarettes. The group recommends that use of any tobacco or nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, be banned in all workplaces, schools, dormitories, bars, restaurants, health care facilities, sidewalks, parks, recreational and sports facilities, entertainment venues and multi-unit housing.

"The jury on e-cigarettes remains out, but it is clear that carcinogens and potentially harmful substances are nonetheless present in this alternate nicotine delivery system," said Dr. Jack Jacoub, director of thoracic oncology at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center's MemorialCare Cancer Institute in Fountain Valley, Calif.

Other policy recommendations include a ban on Internet sales of e-cigarettes, a tax on e-cigarettes at the same rate as traditional cigarettes and a requirement for adult ratings on any entertainment depicting e-cigarette use.

The AAP also recommended banning advertising of tobacco products and e-cigarettes in all media, including television, radio, print, billboards, signs and online, and in stores where children and teens might see them..

Another concern is the number of young children who have suffered nicotine poisoning from accidently ingesting liquid nicotine. Poison control centers receive more than 200 calls per month for accidental ingestion of nicotine for e-cigarettes, the AAP noted, and one toddler died last year from swallowing some. The APP recommends child-resistant packaging for these products.

"Toddlers and young children love to explore new things and to put things in their mouths, so it is imperative that packaging and childproofing be done to enhance the safety of their environments," Fisher said. "This is analogous to having childproof caps on pill bottles."

The new policies were presented Monday at the group's national conference and published online simultaneously in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Tara Haelle, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/misc-tobacco-health-news-666/raise-smoking-age-to-21-u-s-pediatricians-group-urges-704535.html

Your Child

2 Doses of Chickenpox Vaccine Almost 100 Percent Effective

2:00

Chickenpox is one of the most common childhood illnesses. It is a viral infection caused by the Varicella zoster virus and produces a painful, itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters.

It occurs most often in early spring and late winter and is highly contagious. Typically, chickenpox occurs in kids between 6 and 10 years of age.

A new study shows that among schoolchildren, two doses of the chickenpox vaccine is more effective than one.

Giving the first dose at age 1 and the second dose at ages 4 to 6 is nearly 100 percent effective in preventing the once common childhood disease, researchers have found.

"A second dose of varicella [chickenpox] vaccine provides school-aged children with better protection against the chickenpox virus, compared to one dose alone or no vaccination," said lead researcher Dana Perella, of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Two doses of the vaccine protected against the moderate to severe chickenpox infections that can lead to complications and hospitalizations, she said.

Before routine chickenpox vaccination began in 1995, virtually all children were infected at some point, sometimes with serious complications. About 11,000 children were hospitalized each year for chickenpox, and 100 died annually from the disease, according to the CDC.

One-dose vaccination greatly reduced incidence of chickenpox, but outbreaks continued to be reported in schools where many kids had been vaccinated. That led the CDC in 2006 to recommend a second vaccine dose.

To evaluate effectiveness of the double- dose regimen, Perella and colleagues collected data on 125 children with chickenpox in Philadelphia and northern Los Angeles and compared them with 408 kids who had not had the disease.

They found that two doses of the vaccine was slightly more than 97 percent effective in protecting kids from chickenpox.

"With improved protection provided by two-dose varicella vaccination compared with one-dose only, continued decreases in the occurrence of chickenpox, including more severe infections and hospitalizations, are expected as more children routinely receive dose two between the ages of 4 and 6 years," Perella said.

For children with weakened immune systems that cannot take the vaccine, having their classmates and playmates protected by the vaccine helps protect them against the viral infection.

School vaccine requirements should include two-dose varicella vaccination, Perella said.

"In addition, 'catch-up' varicella vaccination is also important," she said. This applies to anyone over 6 who haven’t had a second vaccine dose, especially if they could be exposed to chickenpox or shingles - a painful condition in older people caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus, she said.

Most healthy children who get chickenpox do not have serious complications from the illness. But there are cases when chickenpox has caused hospitalization, serious complications and even death.

A child may be at greater risk for complications if he or she:

·      Has a weakened immune system

·      Is under 1 year of age

·      Suffers from eczema

·      Takes a medication called salicylate

·      Was born prematurely

The report was published online March 14 and will appear in the April print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Story sources: Steven Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160314/two-dose-chickenpox-shot-gets-the-job-done-study-shows

http://www.parents.com/health/vaccines/chicken-pox/chickenpox-facts/

Your Baby

Preparing for Twins or Triplets

1:45

The number of U.S. parents expecting twins and triplets has reached an all-time high according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple births make up a small portion of births in general, but since 1980, multiples numbers have been on the rise.

The number of twins born in the U.S. has increased the most. Along with twice the cuteness comes twice the workload. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers parents of multiples some handy preparation tips:

Keep in mind that "multiples" are often born early and tend to be smaller than the average newborn. The AAP says parents may need to visit with their pediatrician more often than usual and reach out for help with feeding concerns or strategies.

And then there are the diapers- lots and lots of diapers! Go ahead and start purchasing your diapers ahead of time. The more you have stocked away before your little ones are born, the less worries you’ll have about running out when you need them most. Also, you’ll be able to gage about how many you’ll need when you start shopping again.

Having multiples also means fitting more safety seats into the car, more clothing, more food and possibly even a larger home! Check out how well your home is going to work for a larger family and plan accordingly.

One of the most important things for parents to consider is making sure that each child has their own identity. Multiples may share everything, but they are individuals and should be raised as such, the AAP advises. Identical twins, in particular, may seem like a duo, and parents might be tempted to give them the same things and the same amount of attention. But even genetically identical children have different personalities, thoughts and emotions. The AAP urges parents to acknowledge and support their differences to help them become happy and secure individuals.

If you have other children, remember they need special attention too. It’s easy to overlook the older kids when the new kids on the block are demanding so much attention.

As multiples grow, they may form exclusive bonds and may even communicate in a way only they can understand. Sometimes, they become unwilling to seek out other friendships. Giving multiples some time apart can help them develop friendships and ensure that other siblings aren't left out, the academy says.

And efforts to encourage multiples to spend time apart should start early to head off resistance. Most elementary schools place multiples in separate classes, the news release noted. Parents who are concerned about preventing separation anxiety can turn to their pediatrician for advice.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Multiples demand a lot of attention. If your budget allows, hire someone to clean the house a few days a week. Grandparents, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters may be willing to pitch in and give you some much needed down time or date time.  Don’t forget about your friends – while you may think it’s too much of an imposition, they may love being able to spend some quality time with your children – then turn them back over to you!

Take turns getting up at night for feedings and changings. Giving your spouse a few hours of uninterrupted sleep will do wonders for your relationship.

There’s a lot to prepare for when multiples are involved but the rewards are great. It may feel a little overwhelming at first, but eventually you will figure out a routine that works for everyone.

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/women-s-health-information-34/birth-health-news-61/having-twins-or-triplets-what-you-need-to-know-before-they-arrive-715653.html

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/12/11/twins-triplets-and-more-more-u-s-births-are-multiples-than-ever-before/

Your Child

More Myths About the Measles Vaccine

2:00

As measles cases continue to climb, people are taking notice. Public health officials as well as a growing list of politicians are asking parents to make sure that their child or children get the MMR vaccine.

While support is growing to have all children immunized against the highly contagious disease, anti-vaccination groups are also speaking out through media outlets, emails, social media and blogs.

In the 1990s, a now discredited study linked the MMR vaccine to autism. Parents reacted with fear throughout world and began opting out of getting their children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.

Since that time, dozens of medical studies have been conducted and found no connection between the vaccine and autism. The doctor, Andrew Wakefield, was stripped of his license and the British Medical Journal called his research “fraudulent.”

That hasn’t stopped people from continuing to quote his discredited findings.

With so much attention being given to measles these days, new myths have popped up from people who continue to spread fear about the MMR vaccine.

Two myths in particular are making the rounds:

1. The vaccine doesn’t work because it protects against a different strain.

The first concern, which has been posted on anti-vaccination blogs, is that the vaccine protects against an “A” type of measles virus, while the kind that’s making everyone sick is a “B”-type virus. Therefore, the vaccine doesn’t protect against the kind of measles that’s making everyone sick.

It’s true that are different strains of the measles virus, but it doesn’t act like the flu virus – where different strains can overpower a particular vaccine. Each measles virus is given a letter and a number, for example B3 or D4. They refer to the genetic fingerprint of the virus. Since 1990, 19 different strains, or fingerprints, have been identified, according to the CDC, and scientists use these fingerprints to link infections during an outbreak.

However, the measles virus doesn’t change as much as the flu virus. Once the current vaccine and boosters are in the body’s system – the vaccine protects against all strains of measles.

2. It’s vaccinated people who are spreading measles, not those that are unvaccinated.

The thought behind this myth is that the measles shot, which contains a weakened but live form of the virus, can give people infections that allow them to pass on the disease to others.

It’s an interesting twist according to William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

“The vaccine virus, can, on occasion, spread to others,” Schaffner says. “That gives them protection. It doesn’t give them disease.”

But, he says, to be clear: "On occasion" means the possibility is so remote that it’s highly unlikely.

If that were to happen, Schaffner says, it would actually be a good thing because the person who “caught” the vaccine virus would get the protection, but not the illness. Most likely, they wouldn’t even know it occurred. Other experts say this is more theory than anything else.

Some parents believe measles is a somewhat minor disease that may cause a short period of illness and doesn’t have any long-term effects. There are even groups that have “measles parties” so their children can build a “natural” immunity.

Measles can be fatal to children, adults with suppressed immune systems and the elderly – that’s a very long-term side effect. It can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and require intensive care in the hospital. Complications from measles can cause permanent hearing loss. Measles is not something you want to mess with. Medical experts agree that parents need to get the real facts and have their children vaccinated. 

Source: Brenda Goodman MA, http://www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/news/20150210/measles-vaccine-myths

Your Child

Does Birth Order Impact Children’s IQ or Personality?

2:00

In 1982, “The Birth Order Book” by psychologist, Dr. Kevin Leman, was published and quickly became a best seller. The premise was that there are four personality types based on a person’s birth order. Since then, other authors have written extensively about whether one’s birth order has a lasting effect on our personalities, IQ, successes or failures in life and other physical, emotional or psychological traits.

Now, a large study from the University of Illinois says there may be a slight benefit to being the first born in a family, but the difference is miniscule and offers no real advantage or disadvantage in how a person’s life plays out.

Psychology professor Brent Roberts, along with former postdoctoral researcher Rodica Damian, conducted an analysis of 377,000 high school-age students to test the assumption.

The researchers found that first-born children do tend to have a slightly higher IQ and often display differing personality traits than their siblings later, but the differences are so small between the first- born and the later-born that they really have no significant impact on their lives.

Their analysis determined first-borns had a one-point IQ advantage over their following siblings, statistically significant in scientific terms but meaningless in suggesting any practical effects on a person's life.

Previous studies have been conducted on the same topic, but most had a small sample size – that’s why Roberts believes this study is noteworthy.

"This is a conspicuously large sample size," he says.  "It's the biggest in history looking at birth order and personality."

Looking at personality differences, the study found first-borns tended to be slightly more extroverted, conscientious, agreeable and less anxious that later-borns, but that those differences were on a scale of 0.02, or "infinitesimally small," Roberts notes.

Statistical differences can be more or less valuable depending on what is being examined.

"In some cases, if a drug saves 10 out of 10,000 lives, for example, small [statistical] effects can be profound," Roberts said. However, he noted, when it comes to personality traits a 0.02 difference is so small as to be invisible, something that wouldn't be apparent to the naked eye.

"You're not going to be able to sit two people down next to each other and see the differences between them," he says. "It's not noticeable by anybody."

Damien, who is now a now a professor of psychology at the University of Houston, says she and Roberts controlled for factors that might skew results, including a family's economic level, the number of siblings and their relative ages.

Whether a child’s birth order has any effect on his or her personality or IQ is still somewhat controversial among child psychologists and psychiatrists.  Some believe it has its place in child rearing and others think it is simply pop culture. Most would probably agree however, that a child’s later personality and IQ are typically based on more complicated factors than whether they were the first, middle, last or only child in the family.

The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

Source: Jim Algar,  http://www.techtimes.com/articles/69519/20150716/birth-order-has-no-effect-on-iq-or-personality-massive-study-finds.htm

 

 

Your Teen

FDA Proposes Ban on Tanning Beds for Minors

1:30

When warm summer days give way to cold gray skies, tanning beds can become the go-to alternative for a continuous tan. A 2014 study found that 59% of college students and 17% of teens use indoor tanning beds and a 2011 study reported that 32% of 12th graders had used a tanning bed.

Researchers have also found that people who use tanning devices before age 20 were twice as likely to develop a form of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma by age 50, than those who had never used a tanning bed. Tanning beds are known to contribute to other skin cancers as well, including melanoma, the deadliest form of the disease.

Several studies from Europe have suggested that the radiation from a tanning bed can be up to 15 times more intense than the radiation from the midday sun.

After years of studies, the U.S. Food And Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing a ban on tanning beds for people under the age of 18, along with new preventive measures that reduce the risks from tanning to adults.

Using tanning beds at a young age can be particularly harmful, according to a statement from the FDA. The effects of UV radiation exposure add up over a lifetime, so exposure in children and teenagers puts them at greater risk for skin and eye damage later in life, according to the statement.

How many minors are using tanning beds? According to a 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Study, about 1.6 million adolescents.

The "action is intended to help protect young people from a known and preventable cause of skin cancer and other harms," Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the acting FDA commissioner, said in the statement.

The American Academy of Pediatrics responded to the FDA's proposal with a statement of support.

"The FDA's action today is part of ensuring a safe environment for every child and adolescent, and sends a loud and clear message: Tanning beds are dangerous and should not be used by anyone under age 18," said the academy. "Pediatricians welcome FDA's action and will continue to urge parents and our young patients to protect their skin from ultraviolet radiation and to avoid tanning beds altogether."

In addition to restricting minors, the FDA is proposing that before a person's first tanning bed session and every six months thereafter, they sign a "risk acknowledge certification" that states they have been informed of the health risks that may result from indoor tanning. The hope is that people will think twice about using a tanning bed of they are reminded and have to sign off on the health dangers.

The FDA is also proposing a second rule that would require sunlamp manufacturers and tanning facilities take extra steps to improve the overall safety of the devices. Some of the proposed measures would include making warnings more prominent on the devices, requiring an emergency off switch or "panic button" and improving eye safety equipment, according to the statement.

"The FDA understands that some adults may continue to use [tanning beds]," Ostroff said in the statement. "These proposed rules are meant to help adults make their decisions based on truthful information," he said.

The new proposed rules are available for public comment for 90 days. The rules were recommended on December 21, 2015.  To comment you can log onto http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm350790.htm#Proposed

Source: Sara G. Miller, http://www.livescience.com/53159-fda-proposes-tanning-bed-restrictions.html

 

 

 

 

Parenting

Winter at Home: Managing Dry Indoor Heat

1:45

Once winter starts settling in, the home furnaces are cranked on, followed by itchy skin, upset sinuses and cracked lips. What fun.

It’s also when the home is sealed tight, trying to prevent heat loss.

While some areas of the country are still experiencing warmer weather, many are feeling the effects of old man winter.

Dry winter air leeches moisture, leaving your family’s skin as dry and cracked as a salt flat and sinuses as parched as the Sahara in summer. Adults and kids may wake up with a bit of a bloody nose as well.

You also start noticing static electricity while brushing your hair or petting the family pet.  Clothes start acting funny as well, sticking to you like saran wrap. It’s literally shocking.

Here are a few tips to help you combat dry indoor air, preserve the moisture in your family’s skin and nasal passages, and avoid pet-induced static shocks this winter.

In the winter, the cold air that seeps into your home from the outside has a lower humidity -- meaning that it carries very little moisture. You crank up the heat inside your house, which adds warmth but doesn't increase the amount of moisture in the air.

Because wintertime humidity is so low, what little moisture that is around is quickly sucked up into the air. Moisture also evaporates from your body, leaving your skin, nose, and throat parched.

One way to combat all this dry air is using a humidifier. Running a humidifier in your home will add moisture to dry, heated air. The moist air will help keep your skin, mouth,  and nose lubricated, and helps prevent those nasty static shocks. Your goal is to aim for a comfortable home humidity level of between 30% and 50%. Don't crank up the humidifier higher than that, though, or you could develop another problem – mold, fungi, dust mites,  and other tiny critters. Make sure to keep your humidifier clean so that it doesn't send dust and germs spewing into your house.

Sinuses often take a beating during the winter. Cold, dry air pulls moisture from your mouth, and nose, leaving your nasal passages dried out and your throat dry. Dry nostrils are more likely to crack and give you a nosebleed.

Why do kids and adults get sick more often during the winter months? Because your nose needs gooey mucus to trap viruses and other icky invaders before they can get you sick, dry nostrils can also make you more vulnerable to colds, sinus infections, and the flu. That's especially a problem in winter, when bacteria and viruses can tend to linger longer in the dry air after someone coughs or sneezes.

When you turn up the thermostat in your home, your heating system kicks up clouds of dust, pollen, and other allergens that can inflame your sinuses. Cold, dry air plus those allergens can also irritate your airways. For some kids with asthma, cold and dry air can lead to a narrowing of breathing passages and trigger an attack.

One way to help add moisture back is by keeping hydrated. Keep your skin and mouth moist by drinking water throughout the day. Don’t like water? Try putting in a little tea or juice to add flavor. It’s a little easier to drink more water in the summer, because …well… you’re sweating more, triggering a thirst attack. It takes a little more effort in the winter to keep hydrated but the pay-off is just as valuable.

You may also find yours or little ones fingers developing cracks and dealing with dry itchy skin in the winter because cold air sucks out the skin’s moisture. While it’s tempting, taking hot showers can worsen dry, itchy skin by removing the natural layer of oil that preserves and protects the skin's moisture. Something we seem to have plenty of in the summer.

To help your skin out, shorten your shower time. Make sure that your child’s bath water or shower is warm, but not hot and he or she is using a gentle soap. Fifteen minutes should be the maximum time spent in the shower and even shorter if you’re clean sooner.

Alas, don’t forget to put a moisturizer on your child or have some available for your older kids. A thick oil-based moisturizer is best. The oil in the product will lock moisture into the skin and keep it from drying out. Moisturizers come in different forms, but ointments will provide the most protection for dry skin.  Make sure to apply moisturizing sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 to exposed skin before going outside. Also apply a lip balm or petroleum jelly to protect against chapped lips. Help keep the nasal passageways moist by using saltwater (saline) drops or rubbing a little petroleum jelly into each nostril gently with a cotton swab.

There are some advantages to winter – you can dress in layers (you can only take so much off in the summer), walking is easier than when you’re dripping sweat and snow covered trees have a certain mystique and beauty to them. Other than that, winter is pretty brutal to our skin and nasal passages- but we can fight back by keeping hydrated, using creams to soften our skin and adding more moisture to the air while we hunker down; cozy and warm with our family indoors.

Story source: Lisa Bernstein, MD, http://www.webmd.com/women/home-health-and-safety-9/dry-indoor-air?page=2

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