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Daily Dose

Q-tip Injuries

1:30 to read

I know I am asked on a regular basis, “how do I clean my baby’s/child’s ears?  I have replied for years with something that I know I was taught many years ago, maybe even by a grandparent? “Nothing smaller than your elbow should go in your ear”. Who knows where that saying came from but it is a good visual that you should not “stick a Q-tip” or anything into the ear canal.

 

Now an article published in the journal Pediatrics sure makes that adage seem timely, as about 12,500 children younger than 18 are treated in emergency rooms annually, which translates into about 34 children per day.  The study also showed that about two out of three patients were younger than 8 years and children younger than 3 accounted for 40 percent of all injuries. 

 

Cotton swabs are really intended to clean the outer ear and should not be placed into the ear canal…even though most people put a q-tip right into the canal which may cause injury when pushed too far.  The study showed that about 30 percent of injuries caused by the cotton swabs were feeling as if there was a foreign body in the ear, while 25 percent of injuries were a perforated ear drum and 23 percent were soft tissue injuries. WOW…talk about expensive health care costs related to one little cotton tipped swab!

 

Ear nose and throat doctors (otolaryngologists) will tell you that the ear canals are usually self cleaning and using a cotton tipped swab to clean the ear only pushes the wax further down the canal and closer to the ear drum. If in fact the wax becomes impacted by using a q-tip, it is even harder to get the wax out. There are over the counter drops that you can instill in the ear canal to help soften wax and then use a wash cloth to clean the outer ear.

 

So..resist the urge to put a Q-tip into your ear canal and simply use them to take off makeup, paint small places or any of the millions of other uses…just NOT in the ear!

 

 

 

 

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Your Teen

Why Do Teens Use E-Cigarettes?

2:00

Why do teenagers give e-cigarettes a try? Because these products are easy to obtain, not terribly expensive, come in lots of different flavors and their friends use them. All very adolescent associated reasons.

If they continue using e-cigarettes, it’s because of the low cost and the promise that they can help them quit smoking regular cigarettes, according to senior researcher Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin. She is a professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

Teens who initially tried e-cigarettes because of their low cost had significantly stepped up their use of e-cigarettes by the time researchers checked in six months later.

In addition, teens who tried e-cigarettes to quit smoking were more than 14 times more likely to keep using e-cigarettes than those who did not consider this a reason to try the devices, the findings showed.

Unfortunately, researchers found that e-cigarettes did not help the kids quit smoking. Four out of five teens that were smokers, were still smoking regular cigarettes six months later even though they were using e-cigarettes to quit, the investigators found.

E-cigarettes don't produce tobacco smoke, but they do contain nicotine. And researchers fear they'll create a new generation of smokers, with kids hooked on nicotine turning to tobacco for a stronger fix, Krishnan-Sarin said.

"That is the huge public health debate," she said. "Are kids going to start with e-cigarettes and then move on to cigarettes? Is that going to be the start of nicotine addiction?”

As part of the study, Krishnan-Sarin and her colleagues’ surveyed 340 e-cigarette users in two middle schools and three high schools in 2013, asking them why they first tried e-cigarettes.

Most cited reasons for first trying e-cigarettes as curiosity (57 percent), good flavors (42 percent), use by friends (33 percent), healthier than cigarettes (26 percent), can be used anywhere (21 percent) and does not smell bad (21 percent).

Six months later, researchers checked in with the teens and asked if they were still vaping and if so, why. They then compared the answers to the teens’ reasons for continued use with their previous reasons for starting e-cigarettes.

Kids who cited the low cost of e-cigarettes or their potential help to quit smoking wound up vaping more days on average than those who cited other reasons, the study authors said.

Teens who cited low cost, used e-cigarettes two out of every three days during the previous month, and those who wanted to quit smoking wound up vaping nearly that often, according to the study results.

Other reasons also predicted continued use of e-cigarettes: they don't smell bad; they come in good flavors; friends use them; they can be used anywhere; they can be hidden from adults; and they are healthier than tobacco.

But for kids who kept using e-cigarettes, "the most robust predictors were the low cost and trying e-cigarettes to quit smoking," said lead researcher Krysten Bold, a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

Krishnan-Sarin said these findings reveal several different means by which policymakers could make e-cigarettes less attractive to teenagers.

Earlier this year, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced new regulations for e-cigarettes. Anyone under 18 years of age cannot purchase them and they must show a photo I.D. if they appear to be younger than 27. Retailers cannot give out samples and cannot sell them in vending machines unless the machines are in adult-only facilities. These new rules went into effect August 8th.

The Food and Drug Administration will have to approve all e-cigarette products that have been available since February 2007. That means nearly every e-cigarette product on the market must go through an application process to deem whether it can continue to be sold.

However, the FDA did not address the issue of different flavors.

Federal officials also could ban the use of flavors in e-cigarettes, as has already been done in traditional cigarettes except for menthol, said Dr. Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association.

"Despite recommendations from the American Lung Association and others, the final rule did not ban flavorings as they have in ordinary cigarettes," Edelman said. "We continue to believe all the measures that have been applied against ordinary cigarettes should be applied to e-cigarettes."

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Story sources: Dennis Thompson, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20160808/why-teens-choose-e-cigarettes

Aamer Madhini, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/08/07/e-cigarette-regulations-set-go-into-effect/88362926/

Your Teen

Good Mood is Contagious Among Teens

1:30

A lot has been written about depression in teens because it can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences. However, like all things, there’s another side to teen temperaments and it turns out that it’s quite contagious; the good mood.

While many researchers have wondered if depression spreads more easily among teenagers, a new study suggests that depression does not but good moods do and are helpful in combating depression.

Researchers looked at more than 2,000 American high school students to see how they influenced each other’s moods. They found that a positive mood seems to spread through groups of teens, but having depressed friends doesn't increase a teen's risk of depression.

In fact, having plenty of friends in a good mood can halve the chances that a teen will develop depression over six to 12 months. Having a lot of happy friends can also double the likelihood of recovering from depression over the same time period, the researchers found.

"We know social factors, for example living alone or having experienced abuse in childhood, influences whether someone becomes depressed. We also know that social support is important for recovery from depression, for example having people to talk to," study author Thomas House, a senior lecturer in applied mathematics at the University of Manchester in the U.K., said in a university news release.

"Our study is slightly different as it looks at the effect of being friends with people on whether you are likely to develop or recover from being depressed," he added.

House believes that teens who have a strong network of positive friendships might actually help protect against depression.

"This was a big effect that we have seen here. It could be that having a stronger social network is an effective way to treat depression. More work needs to be done but it may that we could significantly reduce the burden of depression through cheap, low-risk social interventions," House concluded.

Depression is serious and should never be taken lightly, some teens may be overwhelmed by the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing. This study suggests that adolescents that are around other adolescents who are happy most of the time seem to pick up on that feeling and it helps in lifting their spirits and changing their outlook.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/good-moods-spread-among-teens-702402.html

http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/teens/emotional-well-being/understanding-your-teenagers-emotional-health.printerview.all.html

 

 

 

Your Teen

Teen Athletes Leading the Nation in Tommy John Surgeries

2:00

Teen athletes accounted for more than half of the Tommy John surgeries performed in the U.S. from 2007 to 2011 according to a new study. The surgery is actually an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLR) graft procedure in which the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. Tommy John was the first Major League baseball pitcher to have the surgery and the nickname has now become common use.

 “Our results showed that 15- to 19-year-olds accounted for 56.7 percent of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction (UCLR) or Tommy John surgeries performed in the US between 2007 to 2011," said lead study author Brandon Erickson, MD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, in a press release. "This is a significant increase over time with an average increase of 9.12 percent per year.”

Once a player has the surgery, he or she needs a good 12 to 15 months of recovery time before they are able to return to a high level of sport activity. Oftentimes, a second surgery may be required as the athlete continues to strain the ligament.

Baseball pitchers are the athletes that most often require the surgery because of the way they pitch; overhanded instead of underhanded. Many believe that the problems start in the teenage years with players who throw harder than ever and don't ever take a month off.

Dr. Erickson and his team looked at a private insurance database to identify patients who received UCLR surgeries throughout the US.

About 4 out of every 100,000 patients who had surgery between 2007 and 2011 had a UCLR surgery. These patients were overwhelmingly male, with 32 percent coming from the 15- to 17-year-old age group and 22 percent coming from the 20- to 24-year-old age group.

These surgeries grew at a rate of 4.2 percent each year between 2007 and 2011. And more than half were performed in the southern region of the US.

Another reason many teen athletes are susceptible to injury is that they play only one sport and play year-round, never giving their immature bodies enough time to rest and repair.

According to Dr. Erickson, more attention should be given to prevention because overuse injuries tend to occur in intensive training and high-performance games.

"The research numbers suggest that more young athletes believe that having an UCLR procedure performed earlier in their career may lead to the big leagues or a scholarship, even though only 1 in 200 kids who play high school baseball will make it to the MLB," Dr. Erickson said. "This paradigm shift needs to be evaluated further to help prevent overuse injuries in kids from the beginning of the season when most issues arise."

Some teens simply play through the pain without considering the possible long-term physical problems that could quickly end the career they worked so hard to attain. It’s up to the adults in their lives to watch over and give them the guidance they need to stay healthy. Parents and coaches need to make sure that their kids and students are following the safety rules established by the sport associations and organizations.

This study was presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's annual meeting. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer- reviewed.

Source: Beth Greenwood, http://www.dailyrx.com/tommy-john-surgeries-elbow-overuse-injuries-were-common-teen-athletes

 

 

 

 

Your Child

Different Ways for Kids to Handle Stress

2:00

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 (http://bit.ly/2aop7IR). 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, http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/08/22/PPMindBody08221616

https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st

 

Your Child

Getting Into the Swing of Summer Safety

2:00

As we wave goodbye to another school year, we say hello to summer.

Today marks the first official day of summer with a special event that hasn’t occurred for nearly 70 years. Tonight there will be a rare summer solstice full moon.

What a unique opportunity to round up the kids and do a little stargazing and moon watching this evening!

Getting into the swing of summer often includes fun activities like swimming, boating, biking, camping and other outdoor activities, but it also requires more attentiveness from parents and caregivers.

The more laissez-faire days give kids a chance to relax from school routines, but can also put them at a higher risk for accidents and injuries. It’s always a good idea to brush up on your summer safety tips.

Summer means high temperatures. In certain parts of the country, temperatures can be well over a hundred degrees. That’s not likely to keep kids indoors all day, and they really shouldn’t be if they are generally healthy.

Outdoor play is good for kids, but you may need to get them out in the mornings and later in the evening when temps aren’t quite so high. Before sending kids out to play, make sure they always wear shoes to protect feet from cuts, scrapes and splinters, and wear sunscreen to protect from sunburns and harmful ultra-violet rays.

While playing poolside may be a blast, Safe Kids Worldwide reports that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4 and it is the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under. Prevent accidents and injuries with these tips to ensure your family’s safety:

Pool Safety:

•       Teach children to never swim alone or go near water without an adult present.

•       Always jump in feet first to check the depth before diving into any body of water.

•       Never dive in the shallow end of the pool or into above ground pools.

•       Never leave a child unattended in or near water.

•       Make sure your child knows how to swim, starting at a young age.

•       Teach children to stay away from drains.

•       Make sure any pool or spa you’re child gets in has a safety compliant drain cover. Powerful suction from a pool or spa drain can even trap an adult.

•       Know how to perform CPR on a child and an adult. Often, bystanders are the first to aid a drowning victim, so learning CPR can help save a life.  CPR classes are available through many hospitals, community centers, or by contacting the American Red Cross.

•       Keep a cell phone nearby in case of an emergency, but don’t let it distract you from overseeing the children.

•       Know your child’s limits. Watch out for the "too's" — too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much hard activity.

•       Watch for kids diving above other kids. Make sure the area is clear when a child dives from a diving board.

•       Keep an eye on the weather. Make sure kids are out of the pool or lake if bad weather approaches. Take the fun inside till it’s clear.

•       Make sure that the water is clean – polluted water can make a child very sick.

Boating and water skiing safety:

Boating and water skiing can be great fun, but requires a lot of supervision.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly 71 percent of all boating fatalities are caused from drowning, 85 percent of which are a result of not wearing a life jacket. Here is what you can do to enjoy the water safely:

•       Always have children wear a Coast Guard-approved, properly fitted life jacket while on a boat, around an open body of water or when participating in water sports.

•       Educate yourself. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 86 percent of boating accident deaths involve boaters who have not completed a safety course.

•       Always check water conditions and forecasts before going out on the water.

•       Never consume alcohol when out on the waters with your child. Impaired judgment is often the cause of the most critical accidents and injuries.

Lawn Mower safety:

While not considered a typical summer “fun” activity, many severe accidents occur to small children riding on lawn mowers with a parent or grandparent.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, lawn mower injuries account for a large percentage of accidental amputations. The Academy cautions that the speed of a typical lawn mower blade can send dirt and bacteria deep into a wound, creating a high risk for severe infection. To avoid accidents involving lawn mowers, keep these tips in mind:

•       Teach children to never play on or around a lawn mower, even when it is not in use. They should never be permitted to walk beside, in front of or behind a moving mower.

•       Children under 6 years of age should be kept inside the home while mowing.

•       Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower and at least 16 years of age before operating a riding lawn mower.

Fire and fireworks safety:

Summer often involves grilling, campfires and fireworks. All of these activities are standard fair for a lot of families. A few simple safety tips can help prevent injuries.

•       Teach kids to never play with matches, gasoline, lighter fluid or lighters. Make a habit of placing these items up and away from young children.

•       Do not leave children unattended near grills, campfires, fire pits or bonfires. Always have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby whenever there is a burning fire.

•       Take your child to a doctor or hospital immediately if he or she is injured in a fire or by fireworks.

•       Never let children ignite fireworks or play alone with them. Fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and can burn users and bystanders.

•       Attend community fireworks displays run by professionals rather than using fireworks at home.

These tips cover a few of the most common summer activities. We’ll continue with more summer safety tips in future articles. Welcome to summer fun and don’t forget to catch that awesome full moon tonight!

Story sources: http://dbqkidsguide.com/get-into-the-swing-of-summer-safety/

http://aap.org

 

 

 

Parenting

Winter at Home: Managing Dry Indoor Heat

1:45

Once winter starts settling in, the home furnaces are cranked on, followed by itchy skin, upset sinuses and cracked lips. What fun.

It’s also when the home is sealed tight, trying to prevent heat loss.

While some areas of the country are still experiencing warmer weather, many are feeling the effects of old man winter.

Dry winter air leeches moisture, leaving your family’s skin as dry and cracked as a salt flat and sinuses as parched as the Sahara in summer. Adults and kids may wake up with a bit of a bloody nose as well.

You also start noticing static electricity while brushing your hair or petting the family pet.  Clothes start acting funny as well, sticking to you like saran wrap. It’s literally shocking.

Here are a few tips to help you combat dry indoor air, preserve the moisture in your family’s skin and nasal passages, and avoid pet-induced static shocks this winter.

In the winter, the cold air that seeps into your home from the outside has a lower humidity -- meaning that it carries very little moisture. You crank up the heat inside your house, which adds warmth but doesn't increase the amount of moisture in the air.

Because wintertime humidity is so low, what little moisture that is around is quickly sucked up into the air. Moisture also evaporates from your body, leaving your skin, nose, and throat parched.

One way to combat all this dry air is using a humidifier. Running a humidifier in your home will add moisture to dry, heated air. The moist air will help keep your skin, mouth,  and nose lubricated, and helps prevent those nasty static shocks. Your goal is to aim for a comfortable home humidity level of between 30% and 50%. Don't crank up the humidifier higher than that, though, or you could develop another problem – mold, fungi, dust mites,  and other tiny critters. Make sure to keep your humidifier clean so that it doesn't send dust and germs spewing into your house.

Sinuses often take a beating during the winter. Cold, dry air pulls moisture from your mouth, and nose, leaving your nasal passages dried out and your throat dry. Dry nostrils are more likely to crack and give you a nosebleed.

Why do kids and adults get sick more often during the winter months? Because your nose needs gooey mucus to trap viruses and other icky invaders before they can get you sick, dry nostrils can also make you more vulnerable to colds, sinus infections, and the flu. That's especially a problem in winter, when bacteria and viruses can tend to linger longer in the dry air after someone coughs or sneezes.

When you turn up the thermostat in your home, your heating system kicks up clouds of dust, pollen, and other allergens that can inflame your sinuses. Cold, dry air plus those allergens can also irritate your airways. For some kids with asthma, cold and dry air can lead to a narrowing of breathing passages and trigger an attack.

One way to help add moisture back is by keeping hydrated. Keep your skin and mouth moist by drinking water throughout the day. Don’t like water? Try putting in a little tea or juice to add flavor. It’s a little easier to drink more water in the summer, because …well… you’re sweating more, triggering a thirst attack. It takes a little more effort in the winter to keep hydrated but the pay-off is just as valuable.

You may also find yours or little ones fingers developing cracks and dealing with dry itchy skin in the winter because cold air sucks out the skin’s moisture. While it’s tempting, taking hot showers can worsen dry, itchy skin by removing the natural layer of oil that preserves and protects the skin's moisture. Something we seem to have plenty of in the summer.

To help your skin out, shorten your shower time. Make sure that your child’s bath water or shower is warm, but not hot and he or she is using a gentle soap. Fifteen minutes should be the maximum time spent in the shower and even shorter if you’re clean sooner.

Alas, don’t forget to put a moisturizer on your child or have some available for your older kids. A thick oil-based moisturizer is best. The oil in the product will lock moisture into the skin and keep it from drying out. Moisturizers come in different forms, but ointments will provide the most protection for dry skin.  Make sure to apply moisturizing sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 to exposed skin before going outside. Also apply a lip balm or petroleum jelly to protect against chapped lips. Help keep the nasal passageways moist by using saltwater (saline) drops or rubbing a little petroleum jelly into each nostril gently with a cotton swab.

There are some advantages to winter – you can dress in layers (you can only take so much off in the summer), walking is easier than when you’re dripping sweat and snow covered trees have a certain mystique and beauty to them. Other than that, winter is pretty brutal to our skin and nasal passages- but we can fight back by keeping hydrated, using creams to soften our skin and adding more moisture to the air while we hunker down; cozy and warm with our family indoors.

Story source: Lisa Bernstein, MD, http://www.webmd.com/women/home-health-and-safety-9/dry-indoor-air?page=2

Your Child

Backyard Bird Coops Increasing Salmonella Cases

1:30

Backyard chicken and duck coops have become a popular trend in cities around the country.  Many families like the idea of being able to walk out the backdoor and collect fresh eggs for meals. Plus, kids are drawn to the cute baby chicks and are often eager to make them the new family pet. That’s where things can get tricky.

Close contact with even the cleanest and healthiest-looking chicken can make you sick, and there's proof this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On Thursday, the CDC announced that it is working with states to investigate eight multistate outbreaks of salmonella connected to these kinds of backyard birds.

"A lot of people perceive a bird with salmonella will look sick, but that is really not the case," said Megin Nichols, a CDC veterinarian. The birds carry the bacteria on their feathers, on their feet and in their droppings.

At least 372 people were infected with salmonella from January 4th to May 3rd, 2017, according to the government agency. These cases were linked to pet ducks, chickens and geese. The CDC noted that this number was most likely less than the actual amount of cases. Typically, for every known infection, there are 29 other people who probably got sick.

Of the 372 cases, 36% were children. No one has died from the infection, but 71 of those infections were so bad the people had to be hospitalized.

The salmonella bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever.

The increase in cases set an all time high record in 2016, with 895 people getting sick after interacting with birds. By comparison, over the prior 26 years, there had been only 65 poultry-related outbreaks recorded.

If you’re considering participating in this trend or already have a chicken coop, be sure and make sure you and family members are aware of how to safely raise birds. The CDC offers some information to help you master a few best practices, and so does the US Department of Agriculture on its Biosecurity for Birds page. 

A few tips to lessen the chance of getting salmonella are:

- Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after you touch the birds or their equipment. Food and water bowls can be contaminated with the bacteria, too.

- Keep the birds outside so they don't track bacteria into your home.

- If you have kids, especially little ones under 5, watch how they interact with the animals. Children are particularly susceptible to the infection, as they often put their hands in their mouths. Be sure to teach them how to handle the animals.

- If you collet eggs, make sure they are cooked thoroughly before eating them.

Story source: Jen Christensen, http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/02/health/salmonella-chickens/index.html

 

Your Child

What is a “Growth Plate” Fracture?

1:45

If you’ve ever taken your child to the ER for a broken bone, you may have heard the doctor mention the possibility of a growth plate fracture. What are growth plates? They are areas of soft tissue at the ends of your child's long bones. They are found in many places, including the thigh, forearm, and hand. 

Only children have growth plates because they are still developing. Once your child stops growing, the plates turn into bone. This typically happens around age 20.

Because the growth plates are soft, they're easily injured. When that happens it's called a "growth plate fracture."

These kinds of injuries usually heal easily, however, there can be complications if they are not treated correctly or the injury is severe.

Some complications can produce what is called “growth arrest.” That is when the injury causes his or her bone to stop growing. A child may end up with one leg or arm shorter than the other.

Your child's likely to get crooked legs or one leg shorter than the other if his growth plates were damaged at his knee. That's because there are a lot of nerves and blood vessels in that area that can be hurt along with the growth plate.

Sometimes, a growth plate fracture can also cause the bone to grow more, but this has the same result: One limb ends up longer than the other.

A less common problem is when a ridge develops along the fracture line. This can also interfere with the bone's growth or cause it to curve.

If the bone is sticking out of the skin, there's also a chance of infection, which can damage the growth plate even more.

Younger children are more likely to get complications because their bones still have a lot of growing to do. But one benefit is that younger bones tend to heal better.

There are treatments for growth plate injuries. If the fracture isn’t severe and the bone is still lined up correctly, your child's doctor might just put on a cast, splint, or brace. Your child won't be able to move his limb that way, which gives the growth plate time and space to heal.

What if the bones are not lined up correctly? Your child’s doctor will have to get them back in alignment by what is called “reduction.” Sometimes a doctor can line the bones back up by hand and sometimes it requires surgery.

If by hand, the doctor moves the bones back in line with his hands and not by cutting the skin. This is called "manipulation" and can be done in the emergency room or an operating room. Your child will get pain medication so he doesn't feel anything.

If your child needs surgery, It gets a little more complicated and takes anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple of months to heal. During surgery, the doctor cuts into the skin, puts the bones back in line, and puts in screws, wires, rods, pins, or metal plates to hold the pieces together. Your child will have to wear a cast until the bones heal.

If a ridge forms at the fracture line, your child's doctor may recommend surgery to remove the ridge. He can then pad the area with fat or another material to keep it from growing back.

Most of the time, kids get back to normal after a growth plate fracture without any lasting effects. One exception is if the growth plate is crushed. When that happens, the bone will almost always grow differently.

Once the injury has healed, your doctor may suggest exercises to strengthen the injured area.

Some children may need a second surgery called reconstructive surgery if the injury is serious enough.

If your child suffers a growth plate injury, he or she should have follow-up appointments for at least a year.  Once your doctor gives the OK, your child will be able to get back to the kinds of activities he or she enjoys.

Story source: Hansa D. Bhargava, MD, http://www.webmd.com/children/child-bone-fracture-16/growth-plate-fracture

 

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