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Your Child

2 Doses of Chickenpox Vaccine Almost 100 Percent Effective

2:00

Chickenpox is one of the most common childhood illnesses. It is a viral infection caused by the Varicella zoster virus and produces a painful, itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters.

It occurs most often in early spring and late winter and is highly contagious. Typically, chickenpox occurs in kids between 6 and 10 years of age.

A new study shows that among schoolchildren, two doses of the chickenpox vaccine is more effective than one.

Giving the first dose at age 1 and the second dose at ages 4 to 6 is nearly 100 percent effective in preventing the once common childhood disease, researchers have found.

"A second dose of varicella [chickenpox] vaccine provides school-aged children with better protection against the chickenpox virus, compared to one dose alone or no vaccination," said lead researcher Dana Perella, of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Two doses of the vaccine protected against the moderate to severe chickenpox infections that can lead to complications and hospitalizations, she said.

Before routine chickenpox vaccination began in 1995, virtually all children were infected at some point, sometimes with serious complications. About 11,000 children were hospitalized each year for chickenpox, and 100 died annually from the disease, according to the CDC.

One-dose vaccination greatly reduced incidence of chickenpox, but outbreaks continued to be reported in schools where many kids had been vaccinated. That led the CDC in 2006 to recommend a second vaccine dose.

To evaluate effectiveness of the double- dose regimen, Perella and colleagues collected data on 125 children with chickenpox in Philadelphia and northern Los Angeles and compared them with 408 kids who had not had the disease.

They found that two doses of the vaccine was slightly more than 97 percent effective in protecting kids from chickenpox.

"With improved protection provided by two-dose varicella vaccination compared with one-dose only, continued decreases in the occurrence of chickenpox, including more severe infections and hospitalizations, are expected as more children routinely receive dose two between the ages of 4 and 6 years," Perella said.

For children with weakened immune systems that cannot take the vaccine, having their classmates and playmates protected by the vaccine helps protect them against the viral infection.

School vaccine requirements should include two-dose varicella vaccination, Perella said.

"In addition, 'catch-up' varicella vaccination is also important," she said. This applies to anyone over 6 who haven’t had a second vaccine dose, especially if they could be exposed to chickenpox or shingles - a painful condition in older people caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus, she said.

Most healthy children who get chickenpox do not have serious complications from the illness. But there are cases when chickenpox has caused hospitalization, serious complications and even death.

A child may be at greater risk for complications if he or she:

·      Has a weakened immune system

·      Is under 1 year of age

·      Suffers from eczema

·      Takes a medication called salicylate

·      Was born prematurely

The report was published online March 14 and will appear in the April print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Story sources: Steven Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160314/two-dose-chickenpox-shot-gets-the-job-done-study-shows

http://www.parents.com/health/vaccines/chicken-pox/chickenpox-facts/

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 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

Your Teen

Bullied Teen’s Suicidal Thoughts, Attempts Reduced By Exercise

1:45

When children are bullied, they are more likely to fall into a deep depression and consider suicide as a way out of their torment than children who are not bullied. That’s not surprising considering the long-term effect being bullied can have on a child. Oftentimes, children who are depressed are prescribed medications to take, but a new study suggests that exercise may be the key to improving bullied children’s outlook and mental health.

"I was surprised that it was that significant and that positive effects of exercise extended to kids actually trying to harm themselves," said lead author Jeremy Sibold, associate professor and chair of the Department Rehabilitation and Movement Science. "Even if one kid is protected because we got them involved in an after-school activity or in a physical education program it's worth it."

Previous research has shown bullied children are at a greater risk for sadness, poor academic performance, low self-esteem, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse as well as depression.

The study used data from the CDC's National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 13,583 high school students, researchers at the University of Vermont found that being physically active four or more days per week resulted in a 23 percent reduction in suicidal ideation and attempts in bullied students.

Nationwide nearly 20 percent of students reported being bullied on school property.

Thirty percent of the students in the study reported feeling sad for two or more weeks in the previous year while more than 22 percent reported suicidal ideation and 8.2 percent reported actual suicidal attempts during the same time period. Bullied students were twice as likely to report sadness, and three times as likely to report suicidal thoughts or attempts when compared to peers who were not bullied.

Researchers found that exercise, four or more days a week, had a positive influence on reducing suicidal thoughts and attempts by 23 percent.

Sibold’s study comes at a time when 44 percent of the nation’s school administrators have cut large amounts of time from physical education, recess and arts’ programs to focus more on reading and mathematics since the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, according to a report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

"It's scary and frustrating that exercise isn't more ubiquitous and that we don't encourage it more in schools," says Sibold. "Instead, some kids are put on medication and told 'good luck.' If exercise reduces sadness, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts, then why in the world are we cutting physical education programs and making it harder for students to make athletic teams at such a critical age?"

Sibold and the study’s co-authors say they hope their report increases the consideration of exercise programs as part of the public health approach to reduce suicidal behavior in all adolescents.

"Considering the often catastrophic and long lasting consequences of bullying in school-aged children, novel, accessible interventions for victims of such conduct are sorely needed," they conclude.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150921095433.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Baby

Type1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease

2:00

Celiac disease is a serious immune disorder that can occur in children and adults. The disease causes the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine when gluten is consumed, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. Gluten is a protein found in wheat. Celiac disease may develop any time after wheat or other gluten containing foods are introduced into the diet, typically after 6-9 months of age.

New research suggests that parents of young children with type1 diabetes should be on the lookout for symptoms of celiac disease as well.

The study found these youngsters appear to face a nearly tripled risk of developing celiac disease autoantibodies, which eventually can lead to the disorder.

"Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are closely related genetically," explained study author Dr. William Hagopian.

"People with one disease tend to get the other. People who have type 1 diabetes autoantibodies should get screened for celiac autoantibodies," Hagopian said. He directs the diabetes program at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute in Seattle.

Symptoms of celiac disease include stomach pain and bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, weight loss, fatigue and delayed growth and puberty.

Dr. James Grendell is chief of the division of gastroenterology at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. He explained why knowing ahead of time that celiac may be developing can be helpful. 

"Early diagnosis of celiac disease is important to initiate treatment with a gluten-free diet to prevent complications, particularly growth retardation in children," he said.

"Other significant complications include iron-deficiency anemia, osteoporosis and a form of skin rash. Less common, but potentially lethal, complications include lymphoma and carcinoma of the small intestine," Grendell added.

Treatment for the disease is avoiding eating or drinking anything that contains gluten. Fortunately these days, there are many products that typically contain gluten but are now offered gluten-free. These products usually cost more than their gluten counterparts, but offer more of a variety in the diet.

While the study did find a link between type1 diabetes and celiac disease, that doesn’t mean that type1 diabetes necessarily causes celiac disease.

However, parents should be aware that if their child has type1 diabetes, he or she should be screened for celiac disease. Early intervention with the proper diet can increase the possibility of a good outcome as their child ages.

Story source: Serena Gordon, https://consumer.healthday.com/diabetes-information-10/type-i-diabetes-news-182/where-there-s-type-1-diabetes-celiac-disease-may-follow-727354.html

Your Teen

FDA Proposes Ban on Tanning Beds for Minors

1:30

When warm summer days give way to cold gray skies, tanning beds can become the go-to alternative for a continuous tan. A 2014 study found that 59% of college students and 17% of teens use indoor tanning beds and a 2011 study reported that 32% of 12th graders had used a tanning bed.

Researchers have also found that people who use tanning devices before age 20 were twice as likely to develop a form of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma by age 50, than those who had never used a tanning bed. Tanning beds are known to contribute to other skin cancers as well, including melanoma, the deadliest form of the disease.

Several studies from Europe have suggested that the radiation from a tanning bed can be up to 15 times more intense than the radiation from the midday sun.

After years of studies, the U.S. Food And Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing a ban on tanning beds for people under the age of 18, along with new preventive measures that reduce the risks from tanning to adults.

Using tanning beds at a young age can be particularly harmful, according to a statement from the FDA. The effects of UV radiation exposure add up over a lifetime, so exposure in children and teenagers puts them at greater risk for skin and eye damage later in life, according to the statement.

How many minors are using tanning beds? According to a 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Study, about 1.6 million adolescents.

The "action is intended to help protect young people from a known and preventable cause of skin cancer and other harms," Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the acting FDA commissioner, said in the statement.

The American Academy of Pediatrics responded to the FDA's proposal with a statement of support.

"The FDA's action today is part of ensuring a safe environment for every child and adolescent, and sends a loud and clear message: Tanning beds are dangerous and should not be used by anyone under age 18," said the academy. "Pediatricians welcome FDA's action and will continue to urge parents and our young patients to protect their skin from ultraviolet radiation and to avoid tanning beds altogether."

In addition to restricting minors, the FDA is proposing that before a person's first tanning bed session and every six months thereafter, they sign a "risk acknowledge certification" that states they have been informed of the health risks that may result from indoor tanning. The hope is that people will think twice about using a tanning bed of they are reminded and have to sign off on the health dangers.

The FDA is also proposing a second rule that would require sunlamp manufacturers and tanning facilities take extra steps to improve the overall safety of the devices. Some of the proposed measures would include making warnings more prominent on the devices, requiring an emergency off switch or "panic button" and improving eye safety equipment, according to the statement.

"The FDA understands that some adults may continue to use [tanning beds]," Ostroff said in the statement. "These proposed rules are meant to help adults make their decisions based on truthful information," he said.

The new proposed rules are available for public comment for 90 days. The rules were recommended on December 21, 2015.  To comment you can log onto http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm350790.htm#Proposed

Source: Sara G. Miller, http://www.livescience.com/53159-fda-proposes-tanning-bed-restrictions.html

 

 

 

 

Your Child

Why the HPV Vaccine is Important for Girls and Boys

1:45

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been embroiled in controversy almost from the day it was announced.  Many parents found the idea of giving their young daughter or son a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease (STD) repugnant. When some states included the vaccine as a requirement for school entry, the cry of government overreach rang out loud and clear.

However, as more information about the benefits of the vaccine becomes known, vaccinations have slowly been climbing.  Health officials say that compliance is nowhere near what it should be and that the opportunity to reduce 6 cancers is being lost.

Cancers linked to the sexually transmitted HPV keep rising in the United States, even though most cases are preventable, health officials said in a recent report.

Cancer experts say the public perception of the vaccine needs to change.

"In order to increase HPV vaccination rates, we must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer," said Electra Paskett. She is co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer in Columbus.

"Every parent should ask the question: If there was a vaccine I could give my child that would prevent them from developing six different cancers, would I give it to them? The answer would be a resounding yes -- and we would have a dramatic decrease in HPV-related cancers across the globe," Paskett added.

At current rates, these sexually linked cancers are developing in almost 12 of every 100,000 persons, the CDC said. In the previous five-year period, fewer than 33,500 of these HPV-linked cancers were diagnosed annually.

Using data from national cancer registries, CDC analysts looked for certain cancer types -- cervical, head and neck, and anal, among them -- that have links to HPV.

When looked at closely, researchers confirmed the HPV connection in 79 percent of cases.

The agency estimates that as many as 28,500 of these were preventable with recommended HPV vaccination.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine HPV vaccination of males and females at 11-12 years of age. The vaccine is most effective if administered before the onset of sexual activity, and antibody responses to the vaccine are highest at ages 9 through 15 years. Immunization of children against HPV infection will help prevent cancers and genital warts caused by HPV.

Even though no parent likes to think about their child growing up and being sexually active- most children will become young adults and eventually have families of their own. This vaccine protects against HPV, a disease that is strongly linked to 6 deadly cancers. It is most effective when administered to children between the ages of 9 and 15. That is why it is important for young boy and girls – as simple as that.

Story sources: Margaret Farley Steele, http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20160707/hpv-linked-cancers-still-climbing-in-us

https://www.aap.org/

Your Baby

Spit-Cleaning Your Infant’s Binky

1.45 to read

Have you ever sucked on your baby’s pacifier to clean it? Many parents have. Babies drop their binkies all the time and if you’re in a hurry or just figure a little spit-cleaning won’t hurt, you’re more likely to stick it in your own mouth and give it a quick once over.

A new study out of Sweden says the spit-cleaning technique may actually help your infant avoid eczema and asthma.

“It was surprising that the effect was so strong,” says pediatric allergist Dr. Bill Hesselmar of Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, lead author of the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The study involved 136 infants who used a pacifier in their first 6 months. 65 of the infants had parents that reported sucking the pacifier to clean it. In those children, both eczema and asthma were strongly reduced when they were examined at 18 months of age. At 36 months of age, the protective effect remained for eczema but not for asthma.

Scientists didn’t know why the sucking on the baby’s pacifier acted as a protector or whether it was filtering out germs. The technique didn’t have any impact on respiratory illness, meaning that the babies were not more likely to get a cold or the flu from their parents. Common sense would dictate that if you have a cold or the flu or any other contagious condition, then it’s not a good idea to suck on your baby’s binky. Otherwise, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

Why is sucking on your infant’s pacifier possibly helpful in preventing asthma or eczema in your child? Scientists hypothesize that tiny organisms in the saliva of the parents may be why. Parent’s saliva introduces gut micoflora that live in the digestive tract of the baby. “We know that if infants have diverse microflora in the gut, then children will have less allergy and less eczema,” says Hesselmar. “When parents suck on the pacifier, they are transferring microflora to the child.”

Many pediatricians and family doctors are concerned that children are being “excessively cleaned” into illness. With anti-bacterial soaps and swipes being used on everything, and kids not allowed to get dirty, their immune system isn’t getting the workout it needs to help fight off common illnesses. The bacterial microorganisms provided in the parent’s saliva might help stimulate the baby’s immune system.

“The most exciting result was the eczema,” says Christine Johnson, chair of the public health department at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital. “I’m a bit more skeptical about the asthma findings because asthma is hard to measure before a child is five or six years old.”

Hesselmar also urges moms to lick the baby’s pacifier if their child was delivered by C-section. Vaginal delivered babies receive quite a bit of microbes during delivery. C-section babies can be more prone to allergies. “If they are using a pacifier and those parents think it’s OK to suck on the pacifier, then yes, I would recommend it,” Hesselmar says.

Some parents may find the idea of picking up a pacifier that’s fallen on the floor and putting it in their mouth kind of disgusting. That’s fine, there’s no need to worry about it. If the idea doesn’t bother you, all the better says Hesselmar, “I haven’t heard of anyone getting ill from it,” he says. “There isn’t much bacteria on the floor.”

Source: Barbara Mantel, http://www.today.com/moms/why-it-may-be-ok-spit-clean-your-babys-binkie-6C9773378

Your Teen

Concussions May Affect Kid’s Academic Performance

2:00

Can a concussion affect your child ‘s academic performance? According to a new study it might, depending on two factors - the severity of the concussion and the grade level of your child.

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a fall or blow, jolt or bump to the head that causes the brain and head to move back and forth rapidly. While most recover from mild concussions quickly, the young and the elderly can have symptoms that last for days or weeks.

Researchers from the Children's National Health System, George Washington University School of Medicine and Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University studied 349 students ages 5 to 18 to find out what happened to their academic performance after concussions. They divided the students into those who were continuing to experience problems following head injuries and those who were fully recovered, and asked the students and their parents to fill out questionnaires about their academic performance.

The study found that the severity of the concussion symptoms was directly related to the degree of academic problems among all grade levels. Eighty-eight percent of the children who were not fully recovered still had problems with concentration, headaches and fatigue. Seventy-seven percent of those same children had problems taking notes and found themselves spending more time on homework and having problems studying for exams and quizzes.

High school students reported having the most learning problems, significantly more than middle or elementary school children.

The authors say that their findings suggest that school systems and medical professionals should be working together to support students who are still in the recovery phase.

"Our findings suggest that these supports are particularly necessary for older students, who face greater academic demands relative to their younger peers," the study's authors say.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.

The Mayo Clinic says that common symptoms after a concussive traumatic brain injury are headache, loss of memory (amnesia) and confusion. The amnesia, which may or may not follow a loss of consciousness, usually involves the loss of memory of the event that caused the concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

•       Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head

•       Temporary loss of consciousness

•       Confusion or feeling as if in a fog

•       Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event

•       Dizziness or "seeing stars"

•       Ringing in the ears

•       Nausea

•       Vomiting

•       Slurred speech

•       Delayed response to questions

•       Appearing dazed

•       Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, such as:

•       Concentration and memory complaints

•       Irritability and other personality changes

•       Sensitivity to light and noise

•       Sleep disturbances

•       Psychological adjustment problems and depression

•       Disorders of taste and smell

Symptoms in infants and toddlers can be difficult to recognize because these little ones are unable to communicate how they feel. However, there are nonverbal clues of a possible concussion. These are:

•       Appearing dazed

•       Listlessness and tiring easily

•       Irritability and crankiness

•       Loss of balance and unsteady walking

•       Crying excessively

•       Change in eating or sleeping patterns

•       Lack of interest in favorite toys

Concussions should always be treated seriously even when a child doesn’t seem to be showing physical or mental symptoms. If you suspect your child may have a concussion seek a professional diagnosis to make sure.

Sources: Sandee LaMotte, http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/11/health/concussions-academic-problems/index.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/concussion/basics/symptoms/con-20019272

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