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Your Teen

Preventing ACL injuries in Young Athletes

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A new report states that young athletes are more susceptible to serious and potentially debilitating knee injuries. 

An increasing number of American children and teens are tearing up their knees, particularly kids who are involved in sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball and gymnastics.  The most dangerous injury is a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which provides stability to the knee.

Specific types of training can reduce the risk of an ACL tear by as much as 72 percent, the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says.

"Neuromuscular training programs strengthen lower-extremity muscles, improve core stability and teach athletes how to avoid unsafe knee positions," lead author Dr. Cynthia LaBella, medical director and associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and a member of the academy's council on sports medicine and fitness, said in an academy news release.

The AAP recommends that coaches who run these types of sports programs should learn more about the exercises that can help athletes strengthen their muscles and encourage their athletes to use them.

The risk of ACL injury among young athletes increases at age 12 for girls and age 14 for boys. The largest numbers of ACL injuries occur in female athletes ages 15 to 20. After an ACL tear, girls are much more likely to have surgery and less likely to return to sports than boys, experts said.

"After puberty, girls have a 'machine motor mismatch,'" report co-author Timothy Hewett, professor and director of research at Ohio State University's sports medicine department, said in the news release. "In contrast, boys get even more powerful relative to their body size after their growth spurt. The good news is that we've shown that with neuromuscular training, we can boost the power of girls' neuromuscular engine, and reduce their risk of ACL injuries."

Before some of the newer less-invasive surgical treatments were available, surgery was often delayed until the child’s skeletal structure was fully mature. Now though, improved treatment can avoid impact to the developing growth plates, which means that they can have surgery to stabilize the knee.

Overall, ACL surgery is about 90 percent successful in restoring knee stability, according to the report published online April 28 and in the May print issue of Pediatrics.

"In many cases, surgery plus rehabilitation can safely return the athlete back to sports in about nine months," report co-author Dr. William Hennrikus, professor of pediatric orthopedic surgery at Penn State Hershey Bone and Joint Institute, said in the news release. "Parents who are considering surgery for their child should seek out a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with sports medicine training."

ACL tears can have long-lasting effects. People who suffer an ACL tear are up to 10 times more likely to develop early-onset degenerative knee osteoarthritis, which can lead to chronic pain and disability, the report said. "This is important, because it means athletes who suffer an ACL tear at age 13 are likely to face chronic pain in their 20s and 30s," LaBella said.

If your child participates in any of these sports, check with your child’s coach to see if they are providing the appropriate amount of muscle strengthening exercises to fortify your child’s knee support system.

If you feel they are not getting any or enough of these needed exercises, consider enrolling your child in a muscle strengthening exercise program or begin doing them together at home.

Source: Robert Preidt,

Your Child

Household Bleach Causing Flu and Infections in Kids?


One of the most popular disinfectants used in household cleaning is bleach. From cleaning wipes to straight out of the bottle, bleach is used to clean surfaces, remove mold and brighten clothes.

As far back as 3000 B.C. a form of bleach was used to brighten white clothes. Shakespeare even made reference to bleaching in 1598. But it was around 1913 that bleach was touted as a disinfectant. In many of today’s households, products containing bleach are used as a surface sanitizer to kill bacteria.

A new study from the Netherlands says the cleaning agent may increase children’s risk for flu, tonsillitis and other infections. The study did not prove cause and effect, but suggested that bleach and other similar cleaning products may be contributors to these types of illnesses.

The study was led by Lidia Casas, of the Center for Environment and Health at KU Leuven in Leuven, the Netherlands. Her team looked at more than 9,000 children, aged 6 to 12, in the Netherlands, Finland and Spain.

Those whose parents used bleach to clean their homes at least once a week had higher rates of respiratory and other types of infections. Specifically, Casas and colleagues found that these children had a 20 percent higher risk of having the flu at least once in the previous year, a 35 percent higher risk of recurrent tonsillitis and an 18 percent higher risk for any recurrent infection.

According to the study’s authors, airborne components of bleach and similar products may irritate the lining of children's lungs, triggering inflammation and making it easier for infections to take hold. Or, bleach may somehow suppress the immune system, making infections more likely, the team said.

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI), which represents makers of bleach and bleach products, responded quickly to the study.

"Since there was no data presented on the children's actual exposure to bleach -- nor any diagnoses of actual diseases -- the authors are merely speculating," the ACI said in a statement. The group also said that disinfecting household surfaces with bleach can protect people from bacterial infection.

Responses to the study from medical specialists have been mixed.

"While this study observes higher respiratory effects of bleach on children, it is not a cause-and-effect study, and other factors or household cleaners may be involved," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"There is evidence that high concentrations of bleach can cause asthmatic reactions when ventilation is not adequate, but the leap to increased incidence of infections is less clear," he said.

Dr. Jacqueline Moline, vice president of population health at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y., noted, "These results are in line with other studies that show the impact of cleaning products on the health of young children."

Moline also said that parents might want to consider using a different product for household cleaning, "the take-home message from this study is that one should be prudent in the use of harsh household cleaners with bleach or other chemicals, especially in homes with young children, and seek out less toxic or harsh products to clean the home."

The study was published online in the April edition of the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Source: Robert Preidt,

Your Child

Pre-teen Football Linked to Brain Changes in NFL Players


The start of a new school year also brings after-school sports programs. Late summer and fall is prime football season for many middle and high schools. In some states, it’s a hallowed tradition that boys and girls look forward to participating in whether it’s running down the field or cheering on the team.

While school football doesn’t typically offer the same ferocious body beating and brain –rattling that are seen in the National Football League (NFL), a new study shows that brain development can still be affected by playing football at a young age.

The study looked at the possible connection between a greater risk of altered brain development in NFL players who started playing football before the age of twelve as opposed to those players who began playing later in life.  The study is the first to show a link between early repetitive head trauma and future structural brain variations.

The study was small but interesting. It included a review of 40 former NFL players between the ages of 40 and 65 who played over 12 years of structured football with a minimum of 2 years at the NFL level.

One half of the players took up football prior to the age of 12 and half started at age 12 or later. The number of concussions suffered was very similar between the two groups. All of these players had a minimum of six months of memory and cognitive issues.

"To examine brain development in these players, we used an advanced technique called diffusor tensor imaging (DTI), a type of magnetic resonance imaging that specifically looks at the movement of water molecules along white matter tracts, which are the super-highways within the brain for relaying commands and information," study author Dr. Inga Koerte, professor of neurobiological research at the University of Munich and visiting professor at Harvard University, said in a press release.

The researches believe their findings add to the growing amount of scientific evidence that shows the brain may be especially vulnerable to injury between the ages of 10 and 12.

"Therefore, this development process may be disrupted by repeated head impacts in childhood possibly leading to lasting changes in brain structure," said study author Julie Stamm, currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Despite finding a link to the brain development window where kids are more likely to suffer brain injury by repeated head impacts, the small size of the study means the results may not necessarily apply to non-professionals.

"The results of this study do not confirm a cause and effect relationship, only that there is an association between younger age of first exposure to tackle football and abnormal brain imaging patterns later in life," said study author Martha Shenton, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Because of the intense publicity about and the findings of many studies on the short and long-term dangers of concussions, many school sports programs are looking at changing how they allow students to play in games associated with head injuries.  Where it was once common for coaches to let players continue playing after a particularly rough tackle or head butting, they are more likely now to insist that a field medical professional examine the child. Some schools are also implementing no tackle policies to protect very young players.

While traditional football isn’t likely to become extinct, parents and coaches can educate themselves about brain injuries and learn how to best protect young players from the chances of long and short-term disabilities.

Source: Brett Smith,




Why Moms-To-Be Might Want to Hire a Doula


Ever heard of a doula?  You’re not alone if the answer is no.  The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “ a woman who serves.”

According to DONA International, a doula is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

A recent study found that women with doula care had 22% lower odds of giving birth prematurely, and were less likely to have a C-section. (Among the women with doulas, 20.4% gave birth via cesarean, compared to 34.2% of women without doulas.)

For pregnant women, doulas can offer emotional and physical support throughout the pregnancy and labor; either in a hospital setting or at home.  There are also doulas that are certified to help mothers postpartum.

While many people may not have heard of doulas, they are beginning to gain some recognition.  TIME Magazine recently published an article on the 4 reasons why moms-to-be should consider hiring one.  The author spoke with Jada Shapiro, founder of the doula referral service, Birth Day Presence, in New York City.

1. They provide extra care and support:

Although every doula has a unique approach, their main role is to care for the mom-to-be. 

“Doulas offer continuous support to women both during pregnancy and after childbirth,” Shapiro explains.

“In a way, we are trying to recreate what was typical in old-world communities when women were surrounded by a vast support system of female friends and relatives during pregnancy.”

And while doulas are not medical professionals, they possess a wealth of knowledge about pregnancy and childbirth that can be extremely helpful for expectant moms.

“We work closely with our clients to de-mystify pregnancy terminology and help women interpret their options,” says Shapiro. 

That said, one of the most common misconceptions about doulas is that they interfere with a woman’s obstetrician. Shapiro says it’s important to note that this is not the case. “Doulas complement the care a woman receives from her doctor,” she says. “We don’t get in the way of medical decisions.”

She also adds that while many people believe you can only work with a doula if you want a medicine-free birth, this is also untrue: Women with all kinds of birth plans can find it helpful to consult a doula during their pregnancy.

2. They can assist with pain management:

Moms-to-be are well aware of the stories of pain during labor and delivery as well as the growing physical un-comfortableness that comes with being pregnant.

“Doulas are well-trained in physical comfort and can offer a wide range of pain relief techniques and tools,” says Shapiro, including acupressure, hydrotherapy, birthing balls, massage, and suggesting position changes during labor. Doulas can also help moms relax with soothing imagery, music, and breathing exercises.

This individualized level of care can help moms feel a little calmer during one of the most physically and emotionally challenging days of their lives. “I believe that many mothers just feel generally more cared for and less alone during the experience of childbirth with the help of a doula,” Shapiro says.


3.They provide support to both moms and their partners:

“Something I hear from many of my clients is that they can’t believe how intimate their childbirth experience was, even with a doula there,” says Shapiro.

She adds that because childbirth can be such an overwhelming experience for families, having the support of a third party can be just as useful for partners as it is for moms-to-be: 

“Doulas can help recall important information from midwife or doctor appointments, lend a helping hand if mom needs a massage, or just generally absorb some of the stress from the partner,” she says. “In this way, a doula can allow partners to be fully present in the experience.”

4. They’re there for you on the big day:

“Doulas are typically on-call 24/7 during a client’s ‘due window’ of 36 to 42 weeks,” says Shapiro.

When a woman goes into labor, her doula will be available for physical and emotional support both while she’s laboring at home as well as accompanying her to the hospital.

And in addition to the aforementioned relaxation and pain relief techniques, doulas know a lot about childbirth (Shapiro, for example, has attended “more than 350” births in her 13 years as a professional doula).

“During labor, doulas might suggest alternate positions; encourage different non-medical techniques to potentially help speed up dilation, such as walking around; and just generally act as a sounding board for difficult medical decisions,” she says.

If you’re interested in learning more about doulas, you can check out the DONA International website at It has information on where you can find a certified doula and how the process works.

Sources: Kathleen Mulpeter,

Your Child

Different Ways for Kids to Handle Stress


If you’re alive (and of course, you are) then you’ve experienced some form of stress.

Stress can be minor, more like annoyances that add up. There’s mid-level stress that can give you a bad day, but doesn’t hang around much after that. Then there is chronic stress; the kind that can affect your health and wellbeing.  There’s also varying degrees of stress between those three layers.

Experiencing stress begins early in life and for some kids can be devastating, depending on the circumstances.

However, stress isn’t always a bad thing. It can also be a motivator or make you aware of your surroundings. It can help you find solutions to difficult problems. It is normal and even healthy for children to experience some stress, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). How well kids handle stress depends on how much support they have from others and strength inside them.

Stress cannot be totally eliminated, but it can be managed.

Sometimes medications are given to kids and adults to help reduce stress – but there are other methods that are definitely worth looking into.

Exercise:  Physical activity is a great stress reducer. The body not only benefits from exercise, but so does the brain. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted yours or your child’s energy or ability to concentrate.

Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

Yoga: Many children do yoga to get rid of stress, pain and health problems. Yoga uses breathing and body postures to connect the mind and the body. It also helps kids manage feelings and how they act, and yoga is good for kids with anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other mental health conditions, according to the AAP.

Yoga is actually good for the whole family. It’s a good way to connect with the body, mind and emotions while sharing some peaceful time together.

Clinical hypnosis: Hypnosis can help children with irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, and anxiety before surgery and cancer. Not to be confused with the act that entertainers use to put people into a trance-like state; trained specialists help children through hypnosis in a medical setting. Kids are asked to tune out their surroundings to change their feelings about something.

Sometimes doctors use clinical hypnosis along with guided imagery. This therapy uses all of the senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch and movement.

Meditation: Children can improve their attention span and learn how to focus better with mediation.  Some schools have found that meditation helps reduce absences and negative behaviors and improves kids’ self-esteem. One study found that students in an urban school were less stressed out after participating in a school mindfulness meditation program.

The AAP has a 10-point “Personal Stress Plan” form that can be downloaded at ( It is a series of questions with options for personal development. The questions are a good way for parents and kids to talk about the impact stress is having and what they can do to manage it.

Most of the methods mentioned above for reducing stress, were once tagged as “alternative” medicine. Today, they are much more mainstream and are providing families with good options for reducing the stress in their lives.

Story sources: Trisha Korioth,


Daily Dose

Track Your Family's Heart Health

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It is the end of Heart Health Month and I found a great way to help everyone with their healthy eating initiative.  Supertracker can help “plan, analyze and track” you and your family’s diet as well as physical activity.  Just go to and click on SUPERTRACKER.   

As we all know, the desire to keep our families healthy is what all parents really want.  It is just sometimes overwhelming as to where to start and how to make simple changes.  This website has incorporated the original My Pyramid Tracker and My Pyramid Menu Planner as well, which were taken down in 2012. 

Go to the website and take a look at how user friendly it is!  The website has all sorts of information on nutrition as well as easy ideas for making simple changes in a recipe or ingredients to make it healthier.  This is not just about counting calories, but rather about portion control and little changes to a meal that may make a big difference. 

The site is interactive and can help parents decide what portions are age appropriate for their children based on age and activity level. Even a younger child can start to look at plates and get ideas about portion size. (Even healthy meals should have portion control). 

Since we just finished talking about healthy eating and exercise, thought this was the perfect ending or rather beginning to some lifestyle changes to keep all of us “heart healthy”.  Keep up the good work!

Your Teen

Teens Using Internet for Better Health


There’s been a lot of bad news concerning teens and the Internet but finally there’s something good to report. According to a new study, many adolescents are using the Internet to research ideas on how they can improve their health.

In the first national study in more than a decade to look at how adolescents use digital tools for health information, nearly one-third of teenagers said they used online data to improve behavior — such as cutting back on drinking soda, using exercise to combat depression and trying healthier recipes — according to a study to be released Tuesday by researchers at Northwestern University.

Now that’s the kind of Internet use that makes parents let out a sigh of relief.

The study emphasizes the importance of making sure that there is accurate and easy to understand information that is available “because it’s used and acted upon,” said Ellen Wartella, director of Northwestern’s Center on Media and Human Development and lead author of the report.

While social media may be the new neighborhood community, 88 percent of the participants said they didn’t want to share their health concerns on Facebook or on one of the many other social media outlets.

“I mainly find it kind of moving, because it really illustrates that a lot of teens are grappling with very real, very important health challenges and that the Internet is empowering them with the information they need to take better care of themselves,” said Vicky Rideout, a co-author of the study.

Researchers surveyed 1,156 American teenagers between 13- and 18-years-old. Teens in English-speaking households were surveyed last fall, and those in Spanish-dominant households were surveyed in March. Eighty percent of those surveyed attended public school.

The survey explored how often teens use online tools, how much information they receive, what topics they are most concerned with, what sources they trust and whether they have changed their health behaviors as a result.

The top health topics were fitness and exercise (42 percent), diet and nutrition (36 percent), stress or anxiety (19 percent), sexually transmitted diseases (18 percent), puberty (18 percent), and depression or other mental health issues (16 percent).

While Internet health-related searchers are growing in popularity, parents are still the number one choice for teens to learn about health issues (55 percent).

The next source was health classes in school, doctors and nurses and Internet searches being the fourth most popular way to get the information they wanted.

“The Internet is not replacing parents, teachers, and doctors; it is supplementing them,” the researchers wrote.

In fact, 23 percent of teens say they have gone online to research information about a condition that affects a friend or family member. Data from the study indicates that 31 percent of low-income teens have done so, compared with 18 percent of high-income teens.

What are the top health topics teens are Googling? Fitness and exercise was number one (42 percent). Followed by diet and nutrition (36 percent). Next up was stress or anxiety (19 percent), and a few that many parents might not think of; sexually transmitted diseases (18 percent), puberty (18 percent), and depression or other mental health issues (16 percent).

The survey points out that teens may need extra attention when it comes to digital literacy skills. So many articles are wrapped in advertising that is trying to sell someone a particular weight-loss product or new diet aid. Half of teens say they usually click on the first site that comes up. Domain names that end with “.edu” are more trusted than those that end with “.com,” the survey found.

“We need to make sure there is good information for teens online,” Rideout said. Teens could be influenced by the tweets they see about e-cigarettes without realizing that a large proportion are coming from manufacturers, she said.

Still though, teens are learning a lot from the Internet; a place where they can search for answers anonymously. It’s up to parents, teachers, doctors and nurses to guide them towards websites with sound information that is based on on the kinds of websites where they can find science-centered information and helpful advice.

Source: Lena H. Sun,











Your Child

Watch Out for Caramel Apples!


Caramel apples, a popular treat for Halloween and fall parties, can make someone very sick if they have not been refrigerated and contain dipping sticks, researchers warn in a new study.

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria and dipping sticks are the culprits. Because caramel has a low amount of water and apples are acidic, neither are normal breeding grounds for listeria, explained study author Kathleen Glass, associate director of the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

However, piercing an apple with a dipping stick causes a bit of apple juice to leak out and become trapped under a layer of caramel, creating an environment that aids the growth of listeria already present on the apple's surface, Glass explained.

When listeria is already present, it can survive refrigeration and even freezing. But both methods for storage can help prevent listeria from developing when it is not present.

Researchers studied the growth of the listeria bacteria on caramel apples that were stored at room temperature versus caramel apples that were refrigerated. They found that the amount of listeria on unrefrigerated apples with sticks increased 1,000-fold, while listeria growth on unrefrigerated apples without sticks was delayed, the investigators found.

Refrigerated apples with sticks had no listeria growth for a week, but then had some growth over the next three weeks. Refrigerated apples without sticks had no listeria growth over four weeks, the findings showed.

To be safe, you should buy refrigerated caramel apples or eat them fresh, Glass advised.

Packaged caramel apples were responsible for a serious Listeriosis outbreak in 2014 in which 35 people in 12 states were infected and seven died, the researchers said.

If caramel apples are a favorite in your family, make sure they are either eaten right away after being made or refrigerated. If you purchase them, make sure they come from a refrigerated compartment and have not been sitting out in the store at room temperature.

Symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea may begin a few days after you've eaten contaminated food, but it may take as long as two months before the first signs and symptoms of infection begin.

If the listeria infection spreads to your nervous system, signs and symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion or changes in alertness, loss of balance or convulsions.

Seek emergency care if you experience any of these symptoms and you believe you may have eaten contaminated food.

Healthy people can usually tolerate a listeria infection, but the disease can be fatal to unborn babies and newborns. People who have weakened immune systems also are at higher risk of life-threatening complications. Prompt antibiotic treatment can help curb the effects of listeria infection.

Source: Robert Preidt,






Your Child

Good Sleep Habits Help Kids Succeed in School


If you’ve ever been sleep deprived, you know how difficult it can be to focus and get through the demands of the day.

So it’s not surprising that a new study says that children, who have good sleeping habits by the age of five, do better when they start school.

However, what may surprise you is that according to the National Sleep Foundation, a 2004 poll revealed that 69 percent of children 10 and under experience some type of sleep problem such as insomnia, nightmares, restless legs syndrome, sleep terrors, sleepwalking and sleep apnea.

For this study, researchers reviewed the sleep behavior of nearly 2,900 children in Australia from birth until they were 6 or 7. They found that one-third had mounting sleep problems in their first five years that put them at added risk for attention disorders and emotional and behavioral problems in school.

"The overwhelming finding is it's vital to get children's sleep behaviors right by the time they turn five," researcher Kate Williams said in a Queensland University of Technology news release. Williams is on the faculty in its School of Early Childhood.

For many families, today’s social and home environment is a roller coaster ride; creating solid routines, winding down and focusing on good sleep habits has almost become a lost art.

Williams and her team found that children with increasing sleep problems in early childhood were apt to be more hyperactive and to have more emotional outbursts in the classroom.

"If these sleep issues aren't resolved by the time children are 5 years old, then they are at risk of poorer adjustment to school," she noted.

There are lots of online tips for helping children develop good sleeping habits. These are usually in every list:

·      No video games, TV or electronic gadgets for at least an hour before bed.

·      Set a bedtime and stick to it that allows for plenty of sleep.

·      Follow a routine – brush teeth, wash hands and face and settle in for sleep. Reading a book to your little one can help relax them.

·      Make sure their room is dark and cool when it’s time for light’s out.. If your child needs a night light, place it in the hallway or bathroom and leave the door ajar. Turn it off once they are asleep.

·      Avoid giving your child candy or food right before bedtime. Certain foods can be stimulating and creating the habit of eating before bed or during the night is a hard one to break.

·      Make sure your child is comfortable. Pajamas should not restrict movement. Blankets shouldn’t be so heavy as to cause them to be hot or too warm.

Story sources: Robert Preidt,


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