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Your Baby

No Link Between Vaccines and Autism

1.30 to read

A new study slated to appear in the Journal of Pediatrics, says that there is no association between the amount of vaccines a young child receives and autism. Some parents have worried that there may be a link and have opted out of having their child vaccinated or reduced the number of vaccines recommended.

The percentage of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased by 72% since 2007. Some experts believe that changes in the diagnostic criteria may account for some of the increase as well as better screening tools and rating scales.

According to a statement released from the journal, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Abt Associates analyzed data from children with and without ASD.

Researchers examined each child's cumulative exposure to antigens, the substances in vaccines that cause the body's immune system to produce antibodies to fight disease, and the maximum number of antigens each child received in a single day of vaccination, the journal's statement said.

The antigen totals were the same for children with and without ASD, researchers found.

Scientists believe genetics play a fundamental role in the risk for a child developing autism (80-90%), but recent studies also suggests that the father’s age at the time of conception may also be a contributor by increasing risks for genetic mistakes in the sperm that could be passed along to offspring.

Parents have worried about a link between vaccines and autism for decades despite the growing body of scientific evidence disproving such an association.

Source: Luciana Lopez,

Your Teen

Teen Athletes Leading the Nation in Tommy John Surgeries


Teen athletes accounted for more than half of the Tommy John surgeries performed in the U.S. from 2007 to 2011 according to a new study. The surgery is actually an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLR) graft procedure in which the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. Tommy John was the first Major League baseball pitcher to have the surgery and the nickname has now become common use.

 “Our results showed that 15- to 19-year-olds accounted for 56.7 percent of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction (UCLR) or Tommy John surgeries performed in the US between 2007 to 2011," said lead study author Brandon Erickson, MD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, in a press release. "This is a significant increase over time with an average increase of 9.12 percent per year.”

Once a player has the surgery, he or she needs a good 12 to 15 months of recovery time before they are able to return to a high level of sport activity. Oftentimes, a second surgery may be required as the athlete continues to strain the ligament.

Baseball pitchers are the athletes that most often require the surgery because of the way they pitch; overhanded instead of underhanded. Many believe that the problems start in the teenage years with players who throw harder than ever and don't ever take a month off.

Dr. Erickson and his team looked at a private insurance database to identify patients who received UCLR surgeries throughout the US.

About 4 out of every 100,000 patients who had surgery between 2007 and 2011 had a UCLR surgery. These patients were overwhelmingly male, with 32 percent coming from the 15- to 17-year-old age group and 22 percent coming from the 20- to 24-year-old age group.

These surgeries grew at a rate of 4.2 percent each year between 2007 and 2011. And more than half were performed in the southern region of the US.

Another reason many teen athletes are susceptible to injury is that they play only one sport and play year-round, never giving their immature bodies enough time to rest and repair.

According to Dr. Erickson, more attention should be given to prevention because overuse injuries tend to occur in intensive training and high-performance games.

"The research numbers suggest that more young athletes believe that having an UCLR procedure performed earlier in their career may lead to the big leagues or a scholarship, even though only 1 in 200 kids who play high school baseball will make it to the MLB," Dr. Erickson said. "This paradigm shift needs to be evaluated further to help prevent overuse injuries in kids from the beginning of the season when most issues arise."

Some teens simply play through the pain without considering the possible long-term physical problems that could quickly end the career they worked so hard to attain. It’s up to the adults in their lives to watch over and give them the guidance they need to stay healthy. Parents and coaches need to make sure that their kids and students are following the safety rules established by the sport associations and organizations.

This study was presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's annual meeting. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer- reviewed.

Source: Beth Greenwood,





Your Baby

Exercising During Pregnancy


If you’re pregnant, you may be wondering if you should start or continue exercising. The answer is a resounding, yes!

Regular exercise throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy, improve your posture and help decrease common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue.

There is even evidence that physical activity may help prevent gestational diabetes, relieve stress and build more stamina needed for labor and delivery.

All of these benefits are good things.

If you were physically active before your pregnancy, there’s no need to stop. However, don’t try to exercise at your former level; instead, do what's most comfortable for you now. Low impact aerobics are encouraged versus high impact.

Check with your obstetrician for guidance if you are a competitive athlete, you may need specialized monitoring.

What if you have never been into exercise, should you start now that you are pregnant?  Absolutely!

You can safely begin an exercise program during pregnancy after consulting with your health care provider, but do not try a new, strenuous activity. Walking is considered safe to initiate when pregnant.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day on most if not all days of the week, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication.

While exercise is great for most moms-to-be, there are some women who should not exercise during pregnancy. They are women with medical problems such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. If you have one of these conditions, check with your OB/GYN about your options and follow his or her recommendations.

Exercise may also be harmful if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as:

           ·      Bleeding or spotting

           ·      Low placenta

           ·      Threatened or recurrent miscarriage

           ·      Previous premature births or history of early labor

           ·      Weak cervix

Talk with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Your health care provider can also give you personal exercise guidelines, based on your medical history.

Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy as long as you don’t overdo it.

The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, step or elliptical machines, and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth.

What about jogging, tennis and racquetball? All these activities require balance and coordination– which may change as you progress during your pregnancy.  If you’re healthy and have discussed these sports with your OB/GYN, go ahead and enjoy, but in moderation.

There are certain exercises that can be harmful during pregnancy. What exercises should be avoided? They are:

·      Holding your breath during any activity.

·      Activities where falling is likely (such as skiing and horseback riding).

·      Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball, and volleyball.

·      Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma such as activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction.

·      Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, or running.

·      Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches.

·      Bouncing while stretching.

·      Waist-twisting movements while standing.

·      Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity.

              ·      Exercise in hot, humid weather.

Stretching exercises can help make the muscles limber and warm, which can be helpful during pregnancy.

Kegal exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus and bowels. By strengthening these muscles during your pregnancy, you can develop the ability to relax and control the muscles in preparation for labor and birth.

Tailor exercises strengthen the pelvic, hip, and thigh muscles and can help relieve low back pain.

Many health providers have DVDs, websites or exercise pamphlets with instructions and examples available for their pregnant patients. There are also classes with instructors trained in leading exercise programs specifically for pregnant women.

What should a pregnancy program consist of?

A total fitness program should strengthen and condition your muscles. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and never exercise to the point of exhaustion.

Exercising during pregnancy has many advantages, but there are warning signals you should look out for. Stop exercising immediately and contact your health provider is you:

             ·      Feel chest pain.

             ·      Have abdominal pain, pelvic pain, or persistent contractions.

             ·      Have a headache.

             ·      Notice an absence or decrease in fetal movement.

             ·      Feel faint, dizzy, nauseous, or light-headed.

             ·      Feel cold or clammy.

            ·      Have vaginal bleeding.

            ·      Have a sudden gush of fluid from the vagina, or a trickle of fluid that leaks steadily.

            ·      Notice an irregular or rapid heartbeat.

           ·      Have sudden swelling in your ankles, hands, face, or calf pain.

           ·      Are short of breath.

           ·      Have difficulty walking.

           ·      Have muscle weakness.

The big question many women have after delivery is – when can I start working off these extra pounds? It’s best to start fitness routines gradually and follow your health provider’s recommendations. Too often, women who have just given birth are inundated with images of celebrities who look as though they have dropped 50 pounds and returned to their former sleek selves within weeks after delivery. However they accomplish this (think spandex & a personal trainer that works you relentlessly), it’s not necessary or even healthy to try to capture your former body immediately.

Most women can safely perform a low-impact activity one to two weeks after a vaginal birth (or three to four weeks after a cesarean birth). Do about half of your normal floor exercises and don't try to overdo it.

Exercising during pregnancy is not a “one routine fits all” kind of thing. You can strengthen your muscles and reap the benefits of exercise while pregnant, just do it under the guidance of your health provider. He or she knows your limits, your medical history and will be able to help you achieve the best results.

Story source:

Traci C. Johnson, MD,



Your Teen

AAP Supports Condoms for Teens

2.00 to read

While teens should be encouraged to abstain from sex, not all adolescents will follow that advise.  The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) would like to see free or low-cost condoms made available for teenagers, along with sex education programs, in schools.

Research has shown that easy accessibility to condoms and sex-ed classes does not increase sexual activity in teens, but there is still resistance by some to providing teens those options, said researchers. 

"I think one of the main issues is the idea that if you provide condoms and make them accessible, kids will be more likely to have sex. But really, that's not the case," Amy Bleakley said.

"Getting over the perception that giving condoms out will make kids have sex is a real barrier for parents and school administrators," she told Reuters Health.

Bleakley studies teen sexual behavior and reproductive health at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia but wasn't part of the AAP committee.

Bleakley also noted that there are some studies that show that when teens have access to condoms and comprehensive sex education classes, those teens actually wait longer to start having sex than peers who don’t.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen pregnancies are down in the U.S. In 2011, there were 31 births for every 1,000 U.S. women aged 15 to 19. In 2012, there were 29 births per 1,000 teens.

While the decrease in teens having babies is an improvement, that number is still higher than in other developed countries.

Rates of many sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including Chlamydia and gonorrhea, are highest among teenage and young adult women.

The new policy statement, an update to the AAP's 2001 statement on condom use by adolescents, was recently published in the journal Pediatrics.

"The biggest difference is that we have more evidence about how effective they are against sexually transmitted infections," Dr. Rebecca O'Brien, the policy statement's lead author, said.

That's especially true for viruses like herpes and HIV, she added.

Are condoms 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy? No, the committee said. Even when used exactly as they are supposed to be, 2 percent of condoms will fail when used all the time-every time- over a year. In reality, the failure rate is about 18 percent during a year of typical use, the committee said.

Using condoms along with another birth control method, such as the Pill or an intrauterine device, may be the best way to prevent pregnancy and STIs.

In its recommendations, the committee said doctors should support consistent and correct use of condoms. They should also encourage parents to discuss condom use and prevention of STIs with their adolescent children.

Still, the committee said, abstinence should be encouraged as the best way to prevent STIs and unintended pregnancy.

Bleakley echoed the importance of communication between parents and teenagers.

"Parents really need to be proactive about communicating with their adolescents before their kids engage in sexual activity," she said.

"Really parents who talk to their kids about sexuality, about contraception, about condoms - their kids have much better outcomes," like fewer unintended pregnancies, Bleakley said.

If you’re not sure when to begin discussing sexuality with your child, talk to your pediatrician. It’s probably a lot earlier than you think.

Source: Genevra Pittman,


Your Toddler

Toddlers Lack of Sleep Tied to Behavior Problems


Sleep is vital to survival and while we may appear to be doing nothing, our brains are very active. Sleep deprivation can make us grumpy and unable to make good decisions or concentrate. Not only do adults need sufficient amounts of sleep- so do children.

 A new study looks at the affects not enough sleep can have on toddlers and found that those little ones that slept less than 10 hours a night or woke up frequently were more inclined to have emotional and behavioral problems at age five.

Researchers were surprised that the “risks were so strong and consistent” said lead author Borge Sivertsen of Uni Research Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Bergen.

“While only an experimental study can determine causality, our study does suggest that there is an increased risk of developing such problems, also after accounting for a range of other possible factors,” Sivertsen told Reuters Health by email.

The results were from a long-term study of 32,662 pairs of mothers and children in Norway. The mothers filled out questionnaires when they were 17 weeks pregnant, when the child was 18 months old and again when the child was five years old.

Mothers rated 99 child behaviors on a scale from “not true” to “very true” and reported how long the child slept in a 24-hour period and how often he or she woke up during the night.

At 18 months, almost 60 percent of toddlers were sleeping for 13 to 14 hours per night and about two percent were sleeping for less than ten hours per night. About 3 percent of toddlers woke three or more times per night. Most kids woke a few times per week or less.

Toddlers who slept less than 13 hours per night often had emotional or behavioral problems at the same age, the authors write in JAMA Pediatrics.

They also had a higher risk of internalizing problems such as being emotionally mercurial, anxious and depressed.

While the study doesn’t prove causation, it does lend a lot of credibility to there being a link between too little sleep in toddlers and later emotional and social problems.

“Although it is difficult to tease out causality from observational studies, this longitudinal study does suggest that inadequate sleep in early childhood increases the risks for later emotional and behavioral problems,” said Michelle M. Garrison of Seattle Children’s Research Institute in Washington, who wrote an editorial about the research.

Not all of these children will necessarily develop mental health problems later in life. Other factors also play important roles like the child’s temperament and his or her parent’s emotional health.

If your child seems to have difficulty sleeping well or getting to sleep, talk with your pediatrician about tips to help your little one get the rest he or she needs. 

Source: Kathryn Doyle,


Your Child

What Food is Best for Your Child's Breakfast?


What’s the best choice for your child’s breakfast? According to a new study, eggs. Researchers found that children who eat eggs for breakfast tend to consume fewer calories at lunch and benefited from the protein and vitamins they provide.

The study looked at 40 eight to ten year olds who ate a 350 calorie breakfast-of eggs, porridge or cereal. Between breakfast and lunch they played physically active games.

The children were asked throughout the morning how hungry they were and parents kept a food journal of what else the children ate.

The research, led by Tanja Kral of the university’s Department of Biobehavioural Health Science, found children who ate the eggs for breakfast reduced their calorie intake by about four percent (70 calories) at lunch.

The scientists noted that children who regularly eat more than their daily calorie limit could gain weight, leading to obesity. Eggs contain about 6 grams of high quality protein and are a good source of vitamins and amino acids.

 "I'm not surprised that the egg breakfast was the most satiating breakfast," said Kral. He was however, surprised that the children said that the egg breakfast didn’t actually make them feel fuller than cereal or oatmeal even though they ate less at lunchtime.

”It's really important that we identify certain types of food that can help children feel full and also moderate caloric intake, especially in children who are prone to excess weight gain.“

The study was published in the International journal, Eating Behaviours.

Source: Emma Henderson,




Any Benefits From Eating Your Own Placenta?


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,

Your Teen

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


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,

Your Child

2 Doses of Chickenpox Vaccine Almost 100 Percent Effective


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,


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