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Your Child

Physical Activity Improves Kids Brain Power!

1:30

Kids who enjoy lots of physical activity are doing more than just having fun; they’re improving their brain structure, brain function and academic prowess according to new consensus statement published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

A group of 24 researchers from the United States, Canada and Europe examined the latest scientific and medical research on the benefits of exercise in kids, ages 6 to 18 years old.

Experts from a variety of disciplines evaluated the values of all kinds of exercise, including recess, physical education classes, youth sports leagues and old-fashioned outdoor play.

The researchers noted that:

•       Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are good for children's and young people's brain development and function as well as their intellect

•       A session of physical activity before, during, and after school boosts academic prowess

•       A single session of moderately energetic physical activity has immediate positive effects on brain function, intellect, and academic performance

•       Mastery of basic movement boosts brain power and academic performance

•       Time taken away from lessons in favor of physical activity does not come at the cost of getting good grades

In terms of the physiological benefits of exercise, the Statement says that cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness "are strong predictors" of the risk of developing heart disease and type2 diabetes in later life, and that vigorous exercise in childhood helps to keep these risk factors in check.

Even low intensity exercise will help improve kids’ heart health and their metabolism.

But the positive effects of exercise are not restricted to physical health, says the Statement. Regular physical activity can help develop important life skills, and boost self-esteem, motivation, confidence and wellbeing. And it may play a role in strengthening /fostering relationships with peers, parents, and coaches.

Just as importantly, activities that take account of culture and context can promote social inclusion for those from different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientation, skill levels and physical capacity.

Incorporating physical activity into every aspect of school life and providing protected public spaces, such as bike lanes, parks and playgrounds "are both effective strategies for providing equitable access to, and enhancing physical activity for, children and youth," says the Statement.

For many kids right now, summer vacation is in full gear. With longer daylight hours and relaxed schedules, opportunities for more adventurous types of exercise are numerous. Swimming, hiking, biking, camping, water skiing, sports – you name it – all add to the overall mental and physical health of our children. Now’s a good time to start and stay active!

Story source: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-06-physical-boosts-kids-brain-power.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

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 Teen

Experts Recommend Screening All Teens for Major Depression

1:30

Studies indicate that one-in-five U.S. children have some for of mental, behavioral or emotional problems.  Among teens, one –in- eight may suffer from depression with only about 30 percent receiving any treatment.  Those are troubling statistics for parents, caregivers and health professionals.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), believes more needs to be done to help these children and has recommended that primary care physicians screen all patients between the ages of 12 and 18 for major depression.

Screening tools are available to help primary care doctors accurately identify major depression in adolescent patients, and there are effective treatments for this age group, the task force said.

"Primary care clinicians can play an important role in helping to identify adolescents with major depressive disorder and getting them the care they need. Accordingly, the task force recommends that primary care clinicians screen all adolescents between 12 and 18 years old for this condition," task force member Dr. Alex Krist said in a USPSTF news release.

Currently, there isn’t enough evidence to know whether screening children 11 and younger would be beneficial. The task force noted that more research on depression screening and treatment in this age group is needed.

The consequences of undiagnosed and treated major depression in teens can have serious consequences such as involvement in the criminal justice system, drug or alcohol abuse and in some cases, suicide.

"It is important to take any concern about depression seriously, regardless of age, and any parent who has a concern about their child's mood or behavior should talk with their child's primary care clinician," he said in the news release. Kemper is a professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C.

The recommendation was published online Feb. 9 in the Annals of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.

For more information about child and teen depression, one resource is The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at http://www.aacap.org.

You can also talk with your family doctor or pediatrician if you feel your child is suffering from depression. They should have resources for you as well.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160208/doctors-should-screen-teens-for-major-depression-us-task-force-says

 

 

Your Child

Testing Your Child for Hearing Problems

1:30

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

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

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

Hearing loss can occur if a child:

•       Was born prematurely

•       Stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)

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

•       Was given medications that can lead to hearing loss

•       Has family members with childhood hearing loss

•       Had certain complications at birth

•       Had many ear infections

•       Had infections such as meningitis or cytomegalovirus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•       Limited, poor, or no speech

•       Frequently inattentive

•       Difficulty learning

•       Seems to need higher TV volume

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Your Toddler

Does Parents’ Obesity Impact Toddlers’ Developmental Skills?

2:00

Children, whose parents are obese, may show signs of developmental delays by the time they are 3 years old, according to a new study.

The specific developmental problems seem to differ depending on whether the mother, father or both parents are obese, according to researchers from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Specifically, mothers' obesity was associated with a delay in achieving fine-motor skills, and fathers' obesity in achieving personal and social skills -- that includes skills for interacting with others," said lead researcher Edwina Yeung. She's an investigator in the institute's division of intramural population health research.

"When both parents were obese, it meant longer time to develop problem-solving skills," she added.

Not everyone agrees with the researchers’ conclusion. At least one pediatric neurologist suggests that the results don’t necessarily prove a direct cause and effect.

And Yeung acknowledges the same. "We used observational data, which doesn't allow us to prove cause and effect, per se," she explained.

What the researchers found was interesting though. Compared with children of normal-weight mothers, children of obese mothers were 67 percent more likely to fail a test of fine-motor skills (using their hands and fingers) by age 3.

In addition, children of obese fathers were about 71 percent more likely to fail tests of personal and social skills, which may indicate how well they relate to and interact with others, by age 3, the researchers said.

Children whose mother and father were both obese were nearly three times more likely to fail tests of problem-solving ability by age 3, according to the researchers’ findings.

Most research into understanding child health and development has focused on mothers and their pregnancies. "Our findings suggest that factors from fathers may also play a role and deserve attention," Yeung said.

One child health expert doesn't think obese parents should be overly concerned by this study.

"Children of obese parents are not doomed to have developmental problems," said Dr. Ian Miller. He is a pediatric neurologist and director of Neuroinformatics at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami.

There’s a long list of other conditions that can also impact the brain such as lead-poisoning, sickle cell disease, iron-deficiency anemia, autism, epilepsy or cerebral palsy—any of which can cause developmental problems, Miller said. He isn't ready, however, to add obesity to that list.

But, obesity may increase the risks of these health problems, Miller says. The probability for developmental problems is low among all children, including those of obese parents. "It's not a 'sky is falling' type of scenario," he said.

For the study, Yeung and her colleagues collected data on more than 5,000 women and their children who were part of the Upstate KIDS study, which sought to determine if fertility treatments could affect child development from birth through age 3.

The women were enrolled in the study about four months after giving birth in New York state, excluding New York City, between 2008 and 2010.

About one in five pregnant women in the United States is overweight or obese, Yeung said.

To check the children's development, parents completed the Ages and Stages Questionnaire after doing a series of activities with their children, Yeung said.

The test doesn't diagnose specific problems, but is a screen for potential problems, so that children can be referred for further testing, she explained.

The children were tested at 4 months and six more times through age 3 years. Mothers also gave information on their health and weight, both before and after pregnancy, and the weight of their partners, Yeung said.

More studies are needed to further examine if there is a link between obese parents and their offspring’s developmental skills, Yeung said.

The report was published online Jan. 2 in the journal Pediatrics.

Story Source: Steven Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20170103/can-parents-weight-hinder-toddlers-development#1

Parenting

When is Your Child Ready for a Cell Phone?

3:00

Did you know that ninety-five percent of Americans own a cell phone of some kind? The percentage of cell phone ownership among 18-29 year –olds is even higher at 100%, according to the Pew Research Center on Internet and Technology.

It’s no surprise that more and more young kids are asking their parents to get them one.

So, what is the appropriate age to give your child a phone? The answer depends on several factors.

There’s no doubt about the convenience of having a cell phone handy when you need to communicate with someone. If your child has a cell phone, you can call or text him to find out where he is and what he's doing and inform him of your own plans. It can make you feel safer just knowing where your kids are. And in an emergency, a cell phone can be crucial if your child needs to reach you -- or vice versa.

While there are many good reasons to have a cell phone on hand, there are some down sides too.

One thing to consider is that they can become addictive. Sending and receiving texts, playing video games, watching movies as well as checking in on social media sites can impact your child’s sleep patterns and psychological wellbeing. Do you think your child is able to handle that kind of extra stress? Are you willing to put in the time, or have the time yourself, to monitor your child’s phone use and lay down the rules about how often they can use their phone?

There are also other health considerations; cell phones use radio waves. That's radiation (though it's not like what you'd get from an X-ray). Can cell phone radiation affect your child’s health, especially if children start using phones at a very young age when their brains are still developing?

In 2011, an international study showed no link between cell phone use and brain tumors in adolescents and teens. The researchers pointed out, though, that the people in that study didn't use their phones as much as people do today. Many health experts believe more current studies need to be done over a longer period of time. It may be take several decades to find the answer.

Social interaction and cell phone use go hand in hand. It can often be positive thing. It's one way kids can learn to relate to other kids. But there is also the potential for "cyber bullying” which is social harassment via text, instant messaging, or other social media. Many smartphones have a "location sharing" feature, which could raise concerns about people stalking kids as they go from place to place.

There isn't a lot of research yet on how cell phones affect mental and emotional health. But early studies show that frequent texting and emailing can disrupt kids' concentration. It can also become compulsive if kids start being "on call" 24/7 to keep up with their friends. That’s one of the addictive challenges – even for adults.

A child’s age shouldn’t be the only determining factor before deciding on when children are ready for their own cell phone.

Caroline Knorr, parenting editor with the nonprofit group Common Sense Media, says, "Maturity and the ability to be responsible are more important than a child's numerical age.

She says, "We want our kids to be independent, to be able to walk home from school and play at the playground without us. We want them to have that old-fashioned, fun experience of being on their own, and cell phones can help with that. But parents have to do their research and talk to their children and make sure they're using the phones safely themselves, too."

As your child becomes more independent (think middle school or high school), they're closer to needing a phone than younger children whom you still take everywhere.

"Look for the developmental signs," Evans says. "Does your child lose his belongings? Is he generally a responsible kid? Can you trust him? Will he understand how to use the phone safely? The rate at which kids mature varies -- it will even be different among siblings."

And think long and hard about whether your child actually needs rather than just wants that phone. "Children really only need phones if they're traveling alone from place to place," Evans says. "Kids in carpools may not need phones, but kids traveling on a subway, bus or walking to school may. It's about who they are as individuals, what's going on in their lives, and how much they can handle, not a certain age or grade."

If you’ve made the decision that your little one can have a cell phone, here are some ideas to make it work for you and your child.

Should you check who your child is calling and what she's tweeting?

Absolutely, Knorr says. "I know that kids consider mobile devices to be personal property," she says. "And they don't want their parents snooping around. But I think parents are justified in saying, 'I understand this can be used for good but it also can be misused. So every now and then I'm going to check to make sure you're using it responsibly and respectfully.' Then make it an ongoing dialogue: 'Have you gotten weird texts?' 'Any calls that made you uncomfortable?' 'Who are you texting?'"

But you might want to skip the GPS locator services. Neither Knorr nor Evans recommends them unless your child is showing a pattern of getting into trouble.

"Most kids don't need GPS trackers on them," Evans says. "That's really feeding on our anxiety as parents more than meeting a true safety need."

"The issue is really about educating children how to use cell phones in appropriate ways," Evans says. "Cell phones can definitely be beneficial, as long as you know your individual child."

Start with a basic phone for a young child. There are still phones that do not include a camera, Internet access, games or texting.  You’ll most likely get some push back from your child on this, so be prepared to tell him or her why your starting with this type of phone. “ Remind her (or him) that phones are tools, not toys. "It's about safety, not social status or games," Knorr says.

If your child’s phone has texting or Internet abilities, set limits. Most cell phone companies allow you to cap the number of texts a user can send or receive as well as the number of minutes the cell phone can be used. You also can block Internet access and calls from unapproved numbers on most phones.

Designate times when the phone needs to be turned off such as meal times, study time, out walking and at least an hour before bedtime.

Provide your child with and teach them how to use earphones. Until more is known about the impact of cell phone radiation, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  However, also teach them the appropriate places to wear earphones. It can be dangerous for children (and adults) to wear them when walking or bicycling – they may not be able to hear oncoming traffic. It also can take their focus off of what is going on around them.

Teach your child good cell phone etiquette. Children aren't born knowing the rules about how to use cell phones respectfully, including not using them to spread rumors, not taking (or sending) photos without people's permission, not sending inappropriate photos or texts, not having personal conversations in public places – and, of course, never communicating with strangers, no matter how they present themselves. It's up to you to teach them. And by all means, make sure you obey the same rules. Children learn more by watching how their parents handle things than by simply being told what to do.

There’s also a clever contract you can sign with your child when you give them the cell phone. It sets certain rules that they agree to follow and is a good resource that can be reviewed time and time again. CTIA has it listed and printable at this link.

It’s a different world than when we were kids. For most parents, cell phones either didn’t exist or were not as complex and portable as they are now. So, when do you give your child his or her own cell phone? Only after careful consideration to how it will impact their life. Once he or she owns one, it will be an extreme challenge to take it back.

Story source:  Susan Davis, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/children-and-cell-phones#1

http://files.ctia.org/pdf/bsw/example_of_family_rules.pdf

 

 

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, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/29/us-usa-health-autism-idUSBRE92S0GO20130329

Your Child

Study: Bedtime Routine Offers Kids Many Benefits

1:45

If your child doesn’t have a nightly bedtime routine, he or she is missing out on a tremendous amount of health and behavioral benefits according to a new study. And you’re not alone.

A multinational study consisting of over 10,000 mothers from 14 counties reported that less than 50 percent of their infants, toddlers and preschoolers had a regular bedtime routine every night.

Researchers determined that the participant’s children who did have a regular bedtime routine benefitted on many levels. The study found that children with a consistent bedtime routine had better sleep outcomes, including earlier bedtimes, shorter amount of time in bed before falling asleep, reduced night waking, and increased sleep duration. Children with a bedtime routine every night slept for an average of more than an hour longer per night than children who never had a bedtime routine. Institution of a regular bedtime routine also was associated with decreased sleep problems and daytime behavior problems, as perceived by mothers.


“Creating a bedtime routine for a child is a simple step that every family can do,” said principal investigator and lead author Jodi Mindell, PhD, professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and associate director of the Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It can pay off to not only make bedtime easier, but also that a child is likely to sleep better throughout the entire night.”

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, positive bedtime routines involve the institution of a set sequence of pleasurable and calming activities preceding a child’s bedtime. The goal is to establish a behavioral chain leading up to sleep onset. Activities may include giving your child a soothing bath, brushing teeth and reading a bedtime story.

“It’s important that parents create a consistent sleep schedule, relaxing bedtime routine and soothing sleep environment to help their child achieve healthy sleep,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler.


Researchers found that consistency was an important factor in helping children sleep well

“For each additional night that a family is able to institute a bedtime routine, and the younger that the routine is started, the better their child is likely to sleep,” said Mindell. “It’s like other healthy practices:  Doing something just one day a week is good, doing it for three days a week is better, and doing it every day is best.”

Mothers participated in the study by completing a validated, online questionnaire that included specific questions about their child’s daytime and nighttime sleep patterns, bedtime routines and behavior. The questionnaire was translated into each language and back-translated to check for accuracy.

“The other surprising finding is that we found that this effect was universal,” said Mindell.  “It doesn’t matter if you are a parent of a young child in the United States, India, or China, having a bedtime routine makes a difference.”

Sleep deprivation is becoming an all too common problem with today’s children and adults. The earlier a good sleep routine can be established and practiced, the better for a child in the long run.

Study results are published in the May issue of the journal Sleep.

Source: http://www.healthcanal.com/disorders-conditions/sleep/63298-study-shows-that-children-sleep-better-when-they-have-a-nightly-bedtime-routine.html

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