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Your Teen

E-cigarette Ads Successfully Targeting Adolescents

1:45

Nicotine is addictive and one of the hardest drugs to kick. That’s one of the reasons that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) is suggesting tighter controls on e-cigarette sales to minors.

"The same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes," said CDC Director Tom Frieden.

E-cigarette companies are revisiting the same themes that helped hook older generations on cigarettes and it’s working. Ads are focusing on sex, independence and rebellion to lure youngsters into trying e-cigarettes along with the notion that e-cigarettes are not harmful like regular cigarettes.

The marketing strategy could reverse decades of progress in preventing tobacco use among youth, warned the CDC that suggested tighter controls on e-cigarette sales to reduce minors' access.

The CDC's National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 68.9 percent of middle- and high-school students saw e-cigarette ads from one or more media sources in 2014, most commonly in stores but also online, on television and in movies or magazines.

E-cigarette use among this age group soared over the past five years, surpassing its use of regular cigarettes in 2014, according to CDC statistics. Spending on e-cigarette advertising also jumped, increasing to an estimated $115 million in 2014 from $6.4 million in 2011.

The science is still out on whether e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. It sometimes takes years for reliable long-term effects. However, there is plenty of evidence that nicotine addiction is not good for you.

"Youth use of tobacco in any form (combustible, noncombustible or electronic) is unsafe," the CDC study said.

Exposure to tobacco at a young age may cause addiction and lasting harm to brain development, the agency reported.

Most states have passed laws banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's proposal to regulate the products is under federal review.

The next move may be proposing regulation on e-cigarette advertising geared at adolescents.

Source: Barbara Liston,  http://www.reuters.com/article/usa-ecigarettes-idUSL1N14P13P20160105

 

 

 

 

 

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#

Parenting

AAP Says Lice Shouldn’t Keep Kids Out of School

1:30

Typically, when a student has head lice or nits (the eggs of head lice), the school requires that he or she go home and not return until the lice are gone. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently proposed new guidelines that say, "No healthy child should be excluded from school or allowed to miss school time because of head lice or nits."

The AAP says that while head lice may be annoying and cause itching, they don’t actually make people sick or spread disease. Many people believe that the insects are easily spread, but experts say that direct head-to-head contact is required.

The AAP notes that most doctors who care for children agree that school policies requiring children to be free from nits before returning to school should be abandoned.

The AAP also reported that screening kids at school for head lice does not reduce the occurrence in classrooms over time. However, pediatricians advise parents to check their children’s heads for lice and school nurses may check children who are showing symptoms such as repeated head scratching.

To treat lice, the AAP recommends parents start with over-the-counter medications that contain 1 percent permethrin or pyrethrins (types of insect-killing chemicals).

Parents should carefully follow the treatment instructions, and when using permethrin or pyrethrin products, should apply the treatment at least twice (about 9 days apart).

Because these medications do not kill 100 percent of the lice eggs, the treatments should be followed by manual removal of the eggs, the guidelines say. This can be a tedious process, but fine-tooth combs called "nit-combs" can make the process easier.

Some head lice have become resistant to OTC treatment, these cases may benefit from prescription medications such as spinosad or topical ivermectin.

Once a person is diagnosed with head lice, everyone in the family should be checked for the condition. Lice are usually transmitted by direct contact, so it's less likely that people will get lice from touching household items, but it is still wise to clean all hair-care items and bedding used by the person who had lice, the guidelines say.

Children should be taught not to share items such as combs, brushes and hats, although such precautions may not prevent all cases of head lice, they can reduce the risk of transmission.

Source: Rachel Rettner, http://www.livescience.com/50629-head-lice-recommendations.html

Daily Dose

SIDS Risks

1.30 to read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Toddler

Is Your Child a Biter?

2.00 to read

At some time or another your sweet child is going to bite or wallop someone, most likely another kid. And yes, it's embarrassing to have to pull your child off another or to apologize to grandma because her grandchild just took a chunk out of her arm. 

Know that you’re not alone - all kids bite and /or hit. The key to stopping aggression in children is teaching them that there are alternative ways to handle frustration and biting is not acceptable behavior.

Not all biting stems from anger. The younger the child, the less chance that biting is an aggressive behavior. It can also be a simple case of exploration. Young children bite for many reasons, from painful gums because they are teething to seeing what kind of reaction they get. Children between the ages of one and three typically go through a biting phase they eventually outgrow.

While biting may be a normal phase kids go through, it’s something you want to discourage.

Let’s look at some of the reasons kids bite.

  • They're in pain. When babies bite, typically it's because they're teething. They're just doing it to relieve the pain of their swollen, tender gums.
  • They're exploring their world. Very young children use their mouths to explore, just as they use their hands. Just about everything infants or toddlers pick up eventually winds up in their mouths. Kids this age aren't yet able to prevent themselves from biting the object of their interest.
  • They're looking for a reaction. Part of exploration is curiosity. Toddlers experiment to see what kind of reaction their actions will provoke. They'll bite down on a friend or sibling to hear the surprised exclamation, not realizing how painful the experience is for that person.
  • They're craving attention. In older kids, biting is just one of several bad behaviors used to get attention. When a child feels ignored, discipline is at least one way of getting noticed -- even if the attention is negative rather than positive.
  • They're frustrated. Biting, like hitting, is a way for some children to assert themselves when they're still too young to express feelings effectively through words. To your child, biting is a way to get back a favorite toy, tell you that he or she is unhappy, or let another child know that he or she wants to be left alone.

So, how do you prevent or teach your child that they can’t go through life biting others?

You start with consistent prevention and move on to discipline if they are older.

  • If your baby is teething, make sure to always have a cool teething ring or washcloth on hand so he or she will be less likely to sink teeth into someone's arm.
  • Avoid situations in which your child can get irritable enough to bite. Make sure that all of your child's needs -- including eating and naptime -- are taken care of before you go out to play. Bring along a snack to soothe your child if he or she gets cranky from being hungry.
  • As soon as your child is old enough, encourage your child to use words such as “I'm angry with you" or "That's my toy" instead of biting. Other ways to express frustration or anger include hugging (not hitting) a stuffed animal or punching a pillow. Sometimes redirection is helpful; shortening activities or giving your child a break can help prevent the rising frustration that can lead to biting and other bad behaviors.
  • Give your child enough of your time throughout the day (for example, by reading or playing together), so he or she doesn't bite just to get attention. Extra attention is especially important when your child is going through a major life change, such as a move or welcoming a baby sibling. If your child is prone to biting, keep an eye on any playmates and step in when an altercation appears to be brewing.

You’ve done all that is possible to prevent another biting situation, and low and behold your child is biting another. What do you do then?

When your child bites, firmly let your child know that this behavior is not acceptable by saying, "No. We don't bite!" Explain that biting hurts the other person. Then remove your child from the situation and give the child time to calm down. It’s important that you remain calm.

Seeing your child bite another is naturally going to create an unpleasant reaction in you. As soon as you witness a biting episode, your body tenses, your heart races, and even if you don't actually scream, you really want to. The angrier you are, the tenser the situation becomes. You are much more likely to strike your child when you let your anger get the best of you. Take a deep breath, assess the situation and intervene calmly. Remove your child, let him or her calm down and explain (yes, once again) that biting is not going to be tolerated. If your child is old enough to understand time-out, this is a good time to use it. If not, remove the child from the temptation. Playtime is over.

One way some parents handle biting is to bite their own child to show them how painful it can be. Doing what you are telling your child not to do sends a mixed message. It’s similar to hitting your child and then saying “don’t hit others.” Most likely your child will experience how painful it is because another child will bite them someday.

The point is not so much that biting is painful, the action itself is unkind, unproductive and wrong.

When biting becomes a habit or continues past the age 4 or 5, it may stem from a more serious emotional problem. This is the time to ask for help from your pediatrician, family doctor or a child psychologist.

If your child is bitten, wash the area with soap and water. If the bite is bleeding and the wound appears to be deep, call your child’s doctor. The bite may need medical treatment, which could include antibiotics or a tetanus shot or both.

Biting is a horrible habit to get into and a difficult one to stop. Start teaching your child early that momma and daddy are not putting up with it and that there are better ways to explore the world and handle frustration.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/stop-children-from-biting

Your Teen

Teen’s E-cigarette Use Linked to Family and Friends

2:00

For many teens, e-cigarettes have taken the place of the traditional combustible cigarette. A new study suggests that teenagers are more likely to use electronic cigarettes if their friends or a family member uses them.

It’s a pretty safe bet that no teen ever started smoking traditional cigarettes because they tasted good. More than likely it was because someone thought it was cool, felt like walking on the edge of rebellion, watched family members light up on a daily basis or a friend pressured them to give it a try.

These days, the reasons teens smoke e-cigarettes are pretty much the same as they are for regular cigarettes. However, these new nicotine packed products have a number of appealing differences for those just starting out. They don’t smell bad or leave a lingering aroma, they taste a little like candy, and no one is quite sure whether they are producing unhealthy side effects that will come back to haunt you later in life.

“There is a lot of concern by the public health community that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a whole new group of people who never smoked cigarettes," said lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Other studies have linked e-cigarette and traditional cigarette use, but this new study suggests that teens who begin smoking with e-cigarettes may belong to their own unique group.  

Researchers found that many of the teens in the study that said they'd recently used e-cigarettes, had never smoked traditional cigarettes. This was their first venture into smoking.

"If you think of e-cigarette and cigarette use as two circles, the overlap isn’t as big as expected," Barrington-Trimis said.

Using data collected in 2014 from 2,084 Southern California teens, the authors found that about 25 percent reported ever using e-cigarettes and about 20 percent reported ever using traditional cigarettes.

This finding is a cause for concern because e-cigarettes were the dominant tobacco product used, and a substantial proportion of e-cigarette users had no history of cigarette use, the authors noted in their report.

Fourteen percent of teens thought e-cigarettes are not harmful, compared to about 1 percent who thought cigarettes are not harmful. The teens also felt their peers were more likely to accept their e-cigarette use than traditional cigarette use.

Like many other studies on the use of e-cigarettes, this one can’t say with absolute certainty that smoking e-cigarettes leads to smoking traditional cigarettes. However, the researchers suggest that the more accepted these products become by teenagers, the more they contribute to the “re-normalization” of tobacco products.

"Our findings really suggest there’s a lot of kids who are using these e-cigarettes," Barrington-Trimis said.

The lack of research makes it difficult to know what to tell people about e-cigarettes, she added.

She said parents should tell their children that while research into the health effects of e-cigarettes is still in its infancy, nicotine is known to impact youngsters' developing brains.

Nicotine is also highly addictive and one of the most difficult drugs to break free from.  The longer you smoke – whether it’s e-cigarettes or combustible cigarettes – the harder it is to quit. Plus, little is known about the chemicals used to create the sweet tasting flavors of e-cigarettes.

Parents should make sure they know if their child or their child’s friends are using e-cigarettes. Unfortunately in this day and age, discussions about smoking and drug use have to begin early in a child’s life. Waiting till your child is a pre-teen or teenager to talk about e-cigarettes may be too little too late.  

Source: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/27/us-health-teens-smoking-ecigarettes-idUSKCN0Q11YC20150727

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/07/21/peds.2015-0639.full.pdf+html

Your Teen

Half of American Teens Breathe Secondhand Smoke

2:00

We’ve come a long way in this country in regards to making public places free of cigarette smoke, but people in their home or car can smoke as much as they like- and that’s their right to do so. When there are children in those homes and cars – they’re inhaling secondhand smoke and that can have a major impact on their physical wellbeing.

Secondhand smoke is the smoke a smoker breathes out and that comes from the tip of burning cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. It contains about 4,000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are dangerous; more than 50 are known to cause cancer. Anytime children breathe in secondhand smoke they are exposed to these chemicals. 

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Smoking and Health examined data from more than 18,000 middle school and high school students; researchers found that 48 percent reported exposure to secondhand smoke in 2013. Additionally, secondhand smoke exposure was reportedly nine times higher among never-smoking teens with no smoke-free rules in their home and car, compared to those with 100 percent smoke-free rules.

"The findings weren't really a surprise as much as a call for public health action," said study author Brian King, deputy director. "The continuing research [on secondhand smoke] really helps us put a finger on who's exposed and in what location," he said.

According to the study, secondhand smoke exposure is known to contribute to several health problems in children, including respiratory symptoms, impaired lung function, middle ear disease and sudden infant death syndrome.

Analyzing questionnaire responses from students in grades 6 through 12 in 2013, King and his colleagues found that 16 percent were exposed to secondhand smoke at home and 15 percent in a vehicle. Additionally, 17 percent reported secondhand smoke exposure at school, 27 percent of those who were old enough to have a job, at work and 35 percent in indoor and outdoor public areas.

"We did assess the extent of exposure based on whether youth were [protected] by smoke-free policies, and it's no surprise that those covered by policies had lower exposure," King said.

Regarding home and car exposure, "I think it really comes down to individual families to take that action," he added.

Dr. Normal Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association, called the research "very useful." He noted that comprehensive public no-smoking policies have helped lower U.S. smoking rates by helping some smokers break the habit.

"We've made great strides in protecting adults from secondhand smoke ... and the health effects have been dramatic," Edelman said. "So now it's time to protect kids from secondhand smoke, and this [study] shows that many of our kids are exposed to at least some secondhand smoke. Clearly, if they live with smokers, they're exposed to a lot, and I think those kids are most at risk."

On a personal note, my mother smoked from the time I was born to after I left home. In those bygone days, most people were not aware of the dangers of smoking and cigarette ads even promoted the “health benefits” from taking a long drag off a cigarette.

Unfortunately for me, the heath benefits were nil. I had bronchitis 2 or 3 times a year and ear infections when I was little. I developed asthma, as I got older.  No one ever made the connection between the constant cigarette smoke in the house and car and my illnesses. I was just considered a rather “sickly child.” Eventually, my mother developed COPD.

Believe me when I say secondhand smoke can become a real health problem for children.

While 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws prohibiting smoking in all indoor public places and work sites -- including restaurants and bars -- several states have no statewide laws addressing secondhand smoke in public areas, and others have less stringent restrictions.

Source: Maureen Salamon, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/half-of-u-s-teens-exposed-to-secondhand-smoke-study-says-706864.html

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/tobacco/Pages/Dangers-of-Secondhand-Smoke.aspx

Your Teen

Shampoos & Cosmetics Loaded With Chemicals May Be Harming Teen Girls

2:00

The trend in chemical-free cosmetics and shampoos may be a healthier choice for everyone, particularly teen-age girls. A new study found that common hormone-disrupting chemicals found in many shampoos and cosmetics, may have a negative impact on the reproductive development of adolescent girls. 

Chemicals widely used in personal care products -- including phthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone -- have been shown to interfere with the hormone system in animals, the researchers explained. These chemicals are found in many fragrances, cosmetics, hair products, soaps and sunscreens.

"Because women are the primary consumers of many personal care products, they may be disproportionately exposed to these chemicals," said study lead author Kim Harley. She is associate director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Teen girls may be at particular risk since it's a time of rapid reproductive development, and research has suggested that they use more personal care products per day than the average adult woman," Harley added in a university news release.

Researchers noted that cosmetic and personal care products are not well regulated in the United States, so it’s difficult to get good data on their health effects.

However, there is increasing evidence linking hormone-disrupting chemicals with behavioral problems, obesity and cancer cell growth, the researchers said.

"We know enough to be concerned about teen girls' exposure to these chemicals. Sometimes it's worth taking a precautionary approach, especially if there are easy changes people can make in the products they buy," Harley said.

The study involved 100 Hispanic teens that used make-up, shampoo and lotion products labeled chemical-free. The girl’s urine was analyzed before and after the three - day trial. The participants showed a significant drop in levels of the hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies.

Metabolites of diethyl phthalate, commonly used in fragrances, decreased 27 percent by the end of the trial period. Methyl and propyl parabens, used as preservatives in cosmetics, dropped 44 and 45 percent respectively.

Benzophenone-3 (BP-3), found in some sunscreens under the name oxybenzone, fell 36 percent.

Kimberly Parra, study co-director, said it was important to involve local youth in the design and implementation of the study.

“The results of the study are particularly interesting on a scientific level, but the fact that high school students led the study set a new path to engaging youth to learn about science and how it can be used to improve the health of their communities,” she said. “After learning of the results, the youth took it upon themselves to educate friends and community members, and presented their cause to legislatures in Sacramento.”

Many of the chemical-free products cost more than regular shampoos and cosmetics, tempting college students and younger teen families to choose the less expensive brands.

However, splurging more on products with fewer chemicals may pay off in the future, researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Story Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/chemical-health-news-730/teens-cosmetics-chemicals-708646.html

Sarah Yang, http://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/teen-girls-see-big-drop-chemical-exposure-switch-cosmetics

 

 

 

Your Baby

Could higher cigarette taxes save babies lives?

1:45

A new study says that when the cost of cigarettes increase, fewer babies die.  The study links rising cigarette taxes to a decline in infant deaths.

Specifically, researchers said that each $1 per pack increase in the overall tobacco tax rate over the years 1999-2010 may have contributed to two fewer infant deaths each day.

The dangers of smoking during pregnancy are well documented. Complications include infant nicotine addiction, lower oxygen for the growing baby, increased chances of miscarriage, an increase of a baby developing respiratory problems and sudden infant death syndrome to name just a few.

Fortunately, U.S. smoking rates have declined during the years examined in the study – 1999 to 2010.

The research doesn't directly prove that higher taxes translate into fewer infant deaths. Still, "we found that increases in cigarette taxes and prices were associated with decreases in infant mortality," said study author Dr. Stephen Patrick, an assistant professor of pediatrics and health policy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

In the new study, researchers tracked infant death rates and tobacco taxes from 1999-2010, when inflation-adjusted tobacco taxes on the state and federal levels rose from 84 cents a pack to $2.37 per pack. During the same time period, the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births fell from 7.3 to 6.2 overall, and from 14.3 to 11.3 among African-Americans.

Other factors were also considered that might influence infant mortality including family income and education. Researchers still found an association with the rising cigarette taxes.

Patrick acknowledged that it's possible that factors other than cigarette taxes contributed to the decline in the infant death rate. One possibility is that medical care improved over that time, leading to fewer deaths. But Patrick said that prospect is unlikely since such a change would presumably be seen in all states, and the study didn't reveal that kind of trend.

The researchers also examined the effect of tobacco prices, and found that increases appeared to have the same level of impact on infant mortality as tax hikes.

What about the prospect that pregnant women and new mothers might choose to spend money on tobacco -- including higher taxes -- instead of on their children? "That would only occur if smoking is a large share of the household expenditures," Levy said. And, he said, it's important to note that research has shown that higher taxes are especially likely to lead to less smoking among the poor.

While there may be other contributing factors that reduce the number of infant mortality during the research dates, researchers noted that the higher cost of cigarettes means more pregnant women will smoke either not at all or less and that’s a good thing for the babies they deliver.

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Randy Dotinga, http://www.kfvs12.com/story/30638397/higher-cigarette-taxes-tied-to-fewer-infant-deaths

http://www.webmd.com/baby/smoking-during-pregnancy

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Why do some kids have birthmarks?

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