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Your Baby

Hearing Test May Help With Autism Diagnosis

1:45

Hearing well is crucial to speech development in young children. A new study suggests that a simple hearing test may help identify children at risk for autism.

Researchers from the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., say they've identified an inner-ear problem in children with autism that may impair their ability to recognize speech.

"This study identifies a simple, safe and noninvasive method to screen young children for hearing deficits that are associated with autism,” said study co-author Anne Luebke, an associate professor in the departments of biomedical engineering and neuroscience.

"This technique may provide clinicians a new window into the disorder and enable us to intervene earlier and help achieve optimal outcomes," she said in a university news release.

There are several methods for testing a child’s hearing depending on their age, development and health status.

For the study, Luebke and her colleagues tested the hearing of children between ages 6 and 17 with and without autism. Those with autism had hearing difficulty in a specific frequency (1-2 kilohertz, or kHz) that is important for processing speech.

The degree of hearing impairment was associated with the severity of autism symptoms, according to the study.

Hearing "impairment has long been associated with developmental delay and other problems, such as language deficits," said study co-author Loisa Bennetto, an associate professor of clinical and social sciences in psychology.

"While there is no association between hearing problems and autism, difficulty in processing speech may contribute to some of the core symptoms of the disease," Bennetto said.

If future research confirms the findings, the study authors say the screening could help identify children at risk for autism earlier and perhaps get them services sooner.

The researchers suggested that if treatments could start sooner, they might have a larger impact, as the child grows older.

"Additionally, these findings can inform the development of approaches to correct auditory impairment with hearing aids or other devices that can improve the range of sounds the ear can process," Bennetto said.

According to kidshealth.org, there are symptoms of hearing loss you can look for in newborns and older children:

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 

The hearing test is noninvasive, inexpensive and does not require a child to respond verbally, so it could be adapted to screen infants, the researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Autism Research.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/news/20160801/hearing-test-may-predict-autism-risk-sooner-study

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

Your Child

Young Kids Still Being Injured or Killed in ATVs Accidents

2:30

Despite safety warnings from pediatricians and child health experts, children under 16 are still driving or riding as passengers on all-terrain vehicles.  The number of young kids being injured or killed in ATV accidents has not changed much in recent years, according to a new study.

Since 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that ATV use be restricted to youth aged 16 years and older who wear helmets, don’t take passengers and steer clear of roads.

“Too many young children are driving these machines - equivalent to a motorcycle in many ways,” said senior study author Dr. William Hennrikus, medical director of the Pediatric Bone and Joint Clinic at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania. 

“Children should not drive an ATV until they’re over 16, just like driving a motorcycle,” Hennrikus said by email to Reuters. “Helmets should always be worn, just like a motorcycle.”

For the study, researchers examined data on 1,912 patients under age 18 who were injured while using an ATV and treated at trauma centers in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2014. 

During this period, 28 children died in ATV crashes, a mortality rate of roughly one per every 100,000 kids in the population, researchers calculated.

Fewer than half of the children were wearing helmets and a street or roadway was were 15% of the crashes happened. Rural areas tend to have more ATV crashes.

Being a passenger or being pulled by the ATV was a factor in almost one in four injuries, the study also found. 

Half of the kids involved in ATV crashes were 14 or younger, and about 6 percent were no more than 5 years old. 

Boys accounted for three in every four patients.

Limitations of the study include the possibility that researchers underestimated injuries and deaths because they only looked at trauma center patients, not children who were treated elsewhere or died before they ever reached a trauma center.

Experts agree that age isn’t the only factor parents should consider when letting their child drive an ATV.

“Parents need to think not just about their child’s size, but also their ability to think, to react to emergency situations and to maintain safe, cautious control of a very powerful vehicle,” said David Schwebel, a sports injury researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who wasn’t involved in the study.

All across the country children are riding on or driving ATVs with sometimes-serious consequences. Just in the past few months a 12-year old boy from New York died from injuries in an ATV crash. A 15-year old boy in Illinois was killed and his passenger, his 12-year old sister, was seriously injured when he lost control of the ATV. A 14-year old boy was killed in New Jersey after losing control and crashing his ATV into another 14-year olds ATV; 2 other children were seriously injured from that crash. None of the children were wearing helmets or seatbelts. 

“Helmets absolutely have to be used for any ride, even short, apparently safe ones,” Schwebel said by email. “Passengers should never ride on ATVs unless the ATV is designed for more than one person.”

While ATVs can be dangerous for adults, they pose a much higher risk for children.

“Children are not developmentally capable of operating these heavy, complex machines,” Sandra Hassink, president of the AAP, said. “The American Academy of Pediatrics warns all parents that no child under the age of 16 should drive or ride an ATV.”

Story source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-children-atv-injuries-idUSKBN1A422F

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/AAPCFAATVs.aspx

 

Your Teen

Teens Getting Less and Less Sleep

2:00

Today’s American teens are getting a whole lot less sleep than they did in the 90s according to a new study. Too little sleep makes focusing difficult and depletes one’s energy. As a result, school performance often suffers and unhealthy and/or unwise decisions are much easier to make.

Just 63 percent of 15-year-olds reported getting seven or more hours of sleep a night in 2012. That number is down from 72 percent in 1991, according to the study.

Between the ages of 13 and 18, teens getting 7 hours or more of sleep a night plummets. At 13, roughly two-thirds of teens get at least seven hours of sleep a night; by 18 that percentage drops to about one-third.

"After age 16, the majority are not meeting the recommended guidelines," said study author Katherine Keyes, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

Why is it so important that teens get enough sleep? A lack of sleep can impact just about every part of their life. Hormones are escalating, social interactions are fragile, school demands are heightened, self-image is developing and many begin testing boundaries with parents, teachers and each other. It can be a rugged time for teens and those around them.

For the study, researchers from Columbia University looked at sleep data from a national survey of more than 270,000 teens from 1991 to 2012. Each year, teens reported how often they got seven or more hours of sleep, as well as how often they got less sleep than they need.

The most recent recommendation from the National Sleep Foundation says teens aged 14 to 17 need eight to 10 hours a night and people aged 18 to 25 need seven to nine hours.

The largest declines in those getting enough sleep occurred between 1991 through 2000; then the problem plateaued, Keyes said.

Researchers also found that girls were less likely to get an adequate amount of sleep compared to boys.

So what’s causing the decline? There a several theories about what may be contributing to this downward slide in teen sleep.

Keyes did not have access to information about the teens' use of electronic media, a factor often blamed for lack of sleep as teens text, check social media, play video games and work on laptops late into the night. However, that might be a factor, she said.

"On an individual level, excessive use of technology may impair an adolescent's ability to sleep," Keyes said.

Caffeine may also be a culprit. It’s estimated that about 30 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks which are packed with caffeine. Many teens drink specialty coffees as well.

Another issue may be early school start times. Some sleep disorder experts believe that starting school – even an hour later- could help teens get more valuable sleep. Starting school, for instance at 8:30 a.m., is an approach favored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Other studies have noted that a lack of sleep is linked with many other teen health problems including obesity, car accidents, depression and a drop in school performance.

When kids are younger, parents are more likely to set limits on bedtime behavior as well as bedtimes. Once kids reach their teens, some of those limits may get a little lax, but this is the time when they are needed most.

Parents still have the authority to set a bedtime and require that computers, tablets and phones are off at least an hour before bedtime. Many kids (and adults) are addicted to their smartphones, so it’s a tough rule to set; it takes a strong commitment and a good example for it to work.

Lack of sleep is hard on everyone, but teens really need the extra help to stay healthy and function well in school. It has such a big impact not only on their present but for their future as well.

Source: Kathleen Doheny, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20150216/us-teens-getting-less-sleep-than-ever

Your Teen

What Is the Most Common and Deadly Cancer Found in Teens?

2:00

Do you know the most common and deadly cancer found in teens and young adults? You may be as surprised as I was when I read that a new study shows it is brain cancer.  It’s also not a particular type of brain cancer, but can vary widely as people age.

"For these individuals -- who are finishing school, pursuing their careers and starting and raising young families -- a brain tumor diagnosis is especially cruel and disruptive," said Elizabeth Wilson, president and CEO of the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA).

"This report enables us for the first time to zero in on the types of tumors occurring at key [age] intervals over a 25-year time span, to help guide critical research investments and strategies for living with a brain tumor that reflect the patient's unique needs," Wilson said in an association news release.

Researchers look at data from 51 separate cancer registries, representing 99.9 percent of the U.S. population in the 15 to 39 year-old-age group.

While 2 types of tumors were the most frequently found in this age group, brain and central nervous system tumors, the report also noted that other types of cancer became more prevalent as people got older.

"What's interesting is the wide variability in the types of brain tumors diagnosed within this age group, which paints a much different picture than what we see in [older] adults or in pediatric patients," said report senior author Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, an associate professor at Case Western's Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland.

"For example, the most common tumor types observed in adults are meningiomas and glioblastomas, but there is much more diversity in the common tumor types observed in the adolescent and young adult population," Barnholtz-Sloan said in the news release.

"You also clearly see a transition from predominantly nonmalignant and low-grade tumors to predominantly high-grade tumors with increasing age," she added.

Nearly 700,000 people in the United States have brain and central nervous system tumors. And more than 10,600 such tumors are diagnosed in teens and young adults each year, with 434 dying of their disease annually, according to the ABTA.

The most common treatment for brain cancer continues to be surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. However, new research is looking into the development of tailored therapeutics involving a combination of targeted agents that use different molecules to reduce gene activity and suppress uncontrolled growth by killing or reducing the production of tumor cells based on their genetic character. Experimental treatment options may include new drugs, gene-therapy and biologic modulators that enhance the body’s overall immune system to recognize and fight cancer cells.

"There are clearly unique characteristics of the 15-39 age group that we need to more comprehensively understand, and the information in the ABTA report starts that important dialogue," Barnholtz-Sloan said.

The ABTA-funded report was recently published in journal Neuro-Oncology.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/brain-cancer-news-93/brain-cancers-both-common-and-deadly-among-young-adults-report-shows-708339.html

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brainandspinaltumors/brainandspinaltumors.htm

Your Child

Tips to Keep Your Child’s Room Allergen-Free

2:15

Symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes and itchy nose, throat and eyes or roof of the mouth are common in children that suffer from respiratory allergies. If you’re looking for ways to help reduce your child’s exposure to allergens that hide within homes, one place you can start is in his or her bedroom. 

Typical allergens include: dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold and pests.

Dust Mites- Dr. David Stukus, associate professor of pediatrics in the division of allergy and immunology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, offers these suggestions for reducing dust mites:

·      Use zippered, dust mite-proof bed covers. These covers are made of materials with pores that are too small to let dust mites and their waste products through, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). They should cover the mattress, box spring, and all pillows on the bed.

·      Wash bed linens at least once a week. This should be done using a hot water setting to kill and remove as many dust mites as possible, as well as the skin cells they feed on. The water should be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AAFA.

·      Remove or treat stuffed animals. “Ideally, stuffed animals should be removed from the bed completely,” Stukus says. An alternative solution is to keep one favorite stuffed toy on the bed and put it in the freezer for 24 hours once a week, then put it through a dryer cycle to kill and remove dust mites.

·       Remove carpets. Dust mites can thrive in carpeting. Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting and opt for hardwood floors or throw rugs instead. Just make sure to regularly wash or dry clean throw rugs, notes the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Dust mites can also hide in curtains, blinds, and upholstered furniture, according to the AAFA, so you may also want to avoid having these in your child’s room.

Pet Dander – Some breed may be touted as a “hypoallergenic dog or cat,” but Stukus says there is no such thing. Any animal can bring dander into the house. To keep dander out of your child’s room, try these steps:

·      The first step is to keep pets out of your child’s bedroom. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when your child becomes attached to a family pet. “Any access to animals, even for limited periods of time, will increase the dander levels in the room,” Stukus says. Depending on how serious your child’s symptoms are, you may want to consider not having a pet.

·      If you decide that having a pet is ok, Stukus suggests that you bathe your pet once or twice a week. “Families usually laugh when I suggest this,” Stukus says, but it’s an effective way to reduce dander.” Some pets can handle a bath that often, but others will develop skin conditions from excess cleaning. Discuss your pet’s breed and care with a veterinarian before trying this.

·       Vacuum and dust the room at least weekly. This can help remove any dander that makes its way into the bedroom. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce pet dander, as well as other allergens.

Pollen - One of the worse allergens is pollen. There’s no hiding from it but there are ways to help make the bedroom a “safe zone” when the pollen count is high.

·      Keep the windows closed. It may be tempting to open the window when the weather is cool and the idea of a little breeze to air things out sounds appealing, but even short periods of an open window can let pollen into the room.

·      Use air conditioning.  This can help filter pollen out of the air and provide a comfortable room temperature when days and evenings are warm. When winter sets in, pollen is usually not a problem.

Mold- In the early 2000s, a toxic mold panic swept the nation. Today, a lot more is understood about the various types of mold. While mold can become a problem, it’s a common substance. “Mold is everywhere in our world, but it rarely poses a problem unless you have obvious overgrowth,” Stukus says. This is often visible in the form of large stains or black spots on drywall or other surfaces.

·      If you notice mold in your child’s bedroom, treat the source of the moisture.

·      Excess mold is almost always caused by an errant source of water, such as a leak from the outside or a pipe inside the house. In some cases, you may also need to remove and replace the mold-covered surface in the room.

Pests – Many people aren’t aware of how cockroaches (and even ladybugs) can cause a respiratory illness. If insects or other pests are a problem in your child’s bedroom:

·      Keep food and drinks out of the bedroom. “Cockroaches generally congregate towards areas with water and food,” Stukus says, which is why they’re typically found in kitchens and bathrooms.

·      Fix water leaks. If cockroaches or other pests are found in your child’s bedroom despite the absence of food and beverages, then you may have water leakage that needs to be fixed. This can be a problem in certain public and rental housing, he says.

If you need to contact your landlord about fixing a problem related to your child’s allergies, it’s a good idea to include as much documentation as possible, including a letter from an allergist, Stukus says.

Can children outgrow allergies? Sometimes. Respiratory allergies such as seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) can fade over time or improve.

The first step in helping your child cope with allergies is to have him or her tested for allergens to find out what triggers a reaction. Your pediatrician or allergist will then be able to prescribe medications and or provide more information on other treatments or solutions.

Story source: Quinn Phillips, https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/managing-respiratory-allergies-children/keep-bedroom-allergy-free/

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