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Your Child

Melatonin May Help Kids with Eczema Sleep Better

2:00

Eczema is a common skin disease that affects as many as 30 percent of all kids.  It’s an itchy red rash that often causes continuous scratching. Numerous children with eczema have trouble sleeping through the night. A new study suggests that over-the-counter melatonin may help them sleep longer and better.

These sleep problems can be difficult to treat in these children, said Dr. Yung-Sen Chang, an attending physician in pediatrics at Taipei City Hospital Renai Branch in Taiwan. Antihistamines can stop working after a few days, and tranquilizers have potentially serious side effects, Chang said.

But giving children melatonin, his study found, "is safe and effective for helping children with atopic dermatitis fall asleep faster."

The link between the skin condition and insufficient sleep "has an impact on people with eczema at all ages," said Dr. Lawrence Eichenfield, chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at the University of California, San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital.

According to Eichenfield, it's generally established that it’s the itching that keeps people with eczema from getting enough sleep. However, Chang said that may not be the case.

Chang and colleagues discovered that patients with eczema, that had difficulty sleeping, had low levels of nocturnal melatonin. That intrigued Chang and inspired the new study.

"Melatonin is a natural human hormone with minimal adverse effects," Chang said, "so it seemed like a good choice for children."

The study was small and involved 48 children, about 22 months to 18 years old, who had eczema. The children received treatment with either an inactive placebo or a 3-milligram daily dose of melatonin at bedtime for four weeks. Thirty-eight participants then took the alternate treatment (melatonin or placebo) for another four weeks.

When the children took melatonin, the severity of eczema dipped slightly, possibly because melatonin's anti-inflammatory effect improved the skin condition, Chang said.

Also, kids taking melatonin fell asleep about 21 minutes sooner than kids taking the placebo, the findings showed.

Total nightly sleep rose by 10 minutes on average (from 380 to 390 minutes, or 6.5 hours total) in the melatonin group, while it fell by 20 minutes among those who took a placebo, according to the report.

The participants did not report any side effects. Melatonin supplements are inexpensive in the U.S.- typically under 9 cents a pill from one major supplier.

Eichenfield, who wasn't involved in the research, said the study appears to be well-designed. Melatonin hasn't been studied much as a sleep treatment for kids, he cautioned.

While Eichenfield said melatonin may turn out to be helpful, he said there are a broad set of other tools available to treat eczema and minimize its effect on children. He suggested tackling the skin condition first to try to mitigate the sleep issues.

Chang recommended that parents talk to their child's doctor before starting melatonin. As for adults, melatonin may help them, too. But more studies are needed, Chang said.

The study was published in a November online edition of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Source: Randy Dotinga, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20151124/melatonin-might-help-sleepless-kids-with-eczema-study-finds

 

Your Child

The Eczema, Allergies and Asthma March

1:45

Eczema refers to a number of different skin conditions in which the skin becomes red and irritated and sometimes has small, fluid filled bumps that ooze.

The most common cause of eczema is atopic dermatitis (sometimes called infantile eczema), which affects older kids as well as infants.

Children with eczema may eventually get food allergies, hay fever, or asthma. But you can take steps to soothe the itch and possibly cut the risk of allergies.

While most experts don't think eczema is purely allergic, it's clearly connected to allergic conditions like food allergies, hay fever, and asthma.

·      Up to 80% of kids with eczema get hay fever or asthma later in childhood.

·       35% of adults with asthma or nasal allergies had eczema as kids.

·      If a mom has allergies, there's almost a 1 in 3 chance that her baby will have eczema.

·      37% of kids with moderate to severe eczema also have food allergies.

For some kids, eczema and allergies develop in a specific order, as they get older. It starts with eczema, then food allergies, then asthma, and then hay fever. It's called the allergic march.

But just because your child has eczema doesn't mean they'll get these other conditions. It just means there's a higher risk.

There are several things that can increase a child’s risk of being part of the allergic march.  Kids who get eczema at a young age may be more likely to have allergies or asthma later. Kids with worse eczema symptoms may be more likely to get allergies or asthma.

You can do some things that might lower your child's chances of worsening eczema, asthma, or allergies. The evidence isn't clear, so talk to your doctor or your child's pediatrician. Depending on the situation, the doctor might recommend:

Breastfeeding your baby: It might lower the risk of eczema, later allergies, or asthma.

Diet changes: If your baby has a high risk of allergic problems, some doctors recommend changes in diet. Breastfeeding for at least 4 months can help protect your child. “Hydrolyzed” formula might help protect formula-fed babies.

Other ways to keep your child's eczema under control include:

Get allergy testing. If you can pin the problem on a specific allergen, you can figure out ways to avoid it.

Use a moisturizer. Go for thick creams and ointments that stop the skin from drying out.

Keep fingernails short. Your child will do less damage to the skin from scratching.

Avoid irritants. Always use unscented soap and laundry detergent. Stay away from cigarette smoke.

Watch for problems. If your child's eczema seems to be getting worse -- or if they get allergy symptoms, like congestion or a runny nose -- see a doctor. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner your child will feel better.

In many cases, eczema goes into remission and symptoms may disappear altogether for months or even years.

For many kids, it begins to improve by the age of 5 or 6; others may have flare-ups throughout adolescence and early adulthood.

In some kids, the condition may improve but then restart as they enter puberty, when hormones, stress, and irritating skin products or cosmetics are introduced. Some people will have some degree of dermatitis into adulthood, with areas of itching and a dry, scaly appearance.

Eczema is not contagious, so there's no need to keep a baby or child who has it away from siblings, other kids, or anyone else.

Story sources; http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/child-eczema-14/allergies?ecd=wnl_prg_050116&ctr=wnl-prg-050116_nsl-promo-4_title&mb=HJinmVxrQQBBWXaWABbkR%40HnVev1imbCiW2HnNaB9FE%3d

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/eczema-atopic-dermatitis.html#

 

 

 

Your Baby

No Link Between Vaccines and Autism

1.30 to read

A new study slated to appear in the Journal of Pediatrics, says that there is no association between the amount of vaccines a young child receives and autism. Some parents have worried that there may be a link and have opted out of having their child vaccinated or reduced the number of vaccines recommended.

The percentage of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased by 72% since 2007. Some experts believe that changes in the diagnostic criteria may account for some of the increase as well as better screening tools and rating scales.

According to a statement released from the journal, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Abt Associates analyzed data from children with and without ASD.

Researchers examined each child's cumulative exposure to antigens, the substances in vaccines that cause the body's immune system to produce antibodies to fight disease, and the maximum number of antigens each child received in a single day of vaccination, the journal's statement said.

The antigen totals were the same for children with and without ASD, researchers found.

Scientists believe genetics play a fundamental role in the risk for a child developing autism (80-90%), but recent studies also suggests that the father’s age at the time of conception may also be a contributor by increasing risks for genetic mistakes in the sperm that could be passed along to offspring.

Parents have worried about a link between vaccines and autism for decades despite the growing body of scientific evidence disproving such an association.

Source: Luciana Lopez, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/29/us-usa-health-autism-idUSBRE92S0GO20130329

Your Teen

Teens Getting Less and Less Sleep

2:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Child

Tips for Grandparents Caring for Grandkids

2:00

Summers often provide grandparents the opportunity to spend extra time with the grandkids. While parents continue their work schedule, grandpa and grandma lovingly spoil their little ones. Many grandparents are actually raising their grandkids or providing year-round part time care.

Grandparents are are more than just babysitters, they provide a unique generational connection.  Their stories and life experiences can provide a treasure trove of valuable links to the family’s past. Hard-earned wisdom can offer guidance when youngsters are searching for answers. They are unique.

If you’re a grandparent caring for your grandkids – God bless you! What a wonderful gift you are giving to your kids and their children. 

Now is a good time to educate yourself on the new medical discoveries made since you raised your own children by asking your grandchild's parents to share information.  The medical profession has learned a lot about having infants sleep safely on their backs and on safer over-the-counter medications for illnesses, as well as many other things. A child safety update can be enormously beneficial. 

It may have been a while since you’ve been in charge of a little one’s care; to help freshen up on child home safety, here is a list of safety recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Nursery & Sleeping Area -

•       If you saved your own child's crib, stored in your attic or garage, per­haps awaiting the arrival of a grandchild someday, you should replace it with a new one. Guidelines for children's furniture and equipment have changed dramatically, and a crib that is more than a few years old will not meet today's safety standards. This is likely also true for other saved and aging furniture that could pose risks to children, such as an old playpen.

•       Buy a changing table, use your own bed, or even a towel on the floor to change the baby's diapers. As she gets a little older, and she becomes more likely to squirm, you may need a second person to help in changing her diaper.

•       Do not allow your grandchild to sleep in your bed.

•       Keep the diaper pail emptied.

Kitchen -

•       Put "kiddie locks" on the cabinets; to be extra safe, move unsafe cleansers and chemicals so they're completely out of reach.

•       Remove any dangling cords, such as those from the coffeepot or toaster.

•       Take extra precautions before giving your grandchild food prepared in microwave ovens. Microwaves can heat liquids and solids unevenly, and they may be mildly warm on the outside but very hot on the in­side.

Bathroom -

•       Store pills, inhalers, and other prescription or nonprescription medi­cations, as well as medical equipment, locked and out of the reach of your grandchild. Be especially vigilant that all medications of any kind are kept up and away from a child's reach and sight.

•       Put nonslip material in the bathtub to avoid dangerous falls.

•       If there are handles and bars in the bathtub for your own use, cover them with soft material if you are going to be bathing the baby there.

•       Never leave a child unattended in a tub or sink filled with water.

Baby Equipment Safety

•       Never leave your grandchild alone in a high chair or in an infant seat located in high places, such as a table or countertop.

•       Do not use baby walkers.

Toy Safety:

•       Buy new toys for your grandchild that has a variety of sounds, sights, and colors. Simple toys can be just as good. Remember, no matter how fancy the toys may be your own interac­tion and play with your grandchild are much more important.

•       Toys, CDs, and books should be age-appropriate and challenge chil­dren at their own developmental level.

•       Avoid toys with small parts that the baby could put into her mouth and swallow. Follow the recommendations on the package to find toys suitable for your grandchild's age.

•       Because toy boxes can be dangerous, keep them out of your home, or look for one without a top or lid.

Garage and Basements

•       Make sure that the automatic reversing mechanism on the garage door is operating.

•       Keep all garden chemicals and pesticides as well as tools in a locked cabinet and out of reach.

•       Make sure that freezers, refrigerator and washing machines are not accessible. 

These safety tips can help recharge your memory when it comes to caring for small children as well as offer some new ideas on making your home a safer place for them to visit.

Times have changed since your children were young. Your energy level may not be quite as high as it once was, so planning the day with rest breaks included can help you and the kids.

 While some things may have changed, love is still the universal ingredient that helps children thrive and grandparents have plenty of that!

Sources: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/A-Message-for-Grandparents-Keeping-Your-Grandchild-Safe-in-Your-Home.aspx

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/work-play/Pages/A-Message-for-Grandparents-Who-Provide-Childcare.aspx

 

 

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#

Your Teen

AAP Supports Condoms for Teens

2.00 to read

While teens should be encouraged to abstain from sex, not all adolescents will follow that advise.  The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) would like to see free or low-cost condoms made available for teenagers, along with sex education programs, in schools.

Research has shown that easy accessibility to condoms and sex-ed classes does not increase sexual activity in teens, but there is still resistance by some to providing teens those options, said researchers. 

"I think one of the main issues is the idea that if you provide condoms and make them accessible, kids will be more likely to have sex. But really, that's not the case," Amy Bleakley said.

"Getting over the perception that giving condoms out will make kids have sex is a real barrier for parents and school administrators," she told Reuters Health.

Bleakley studies teen sexual behavior and reproductive health at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia but wasn't part of the AAP committee.

Bleakley also noted that there are some studies that show that when teens have access to condoms and comprehensive sex education classes, those teens actually wait longer to start having sex than peers who don’t.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen pregnancies are down in the U.S. In 2011, there were 31 births for every 1,000 U.S. women aged 15 to 19. In 2012, there were 29 births per 1,000 teens.

While the decrease in teens having babies is an improvement, that number is still higher than in other developed countries.

Rates of many sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including Chlamydia and gonorrhea, are highest among teenage and young adult women.

The new policy statement, an update to the AAP's 2001 statement on condom use by adolescents, was recently published in the journal Pediatrics.

"The biggest difference is that we have more evidence about how effective they are against sexually transmitted infections," Dr. Rebecca O'Brien, the policy statement's lead author, said.

That's especially true for viruses like herpes and HIV, she added.

Are condoms 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy? No, the committee said. Even when used exactly as they are supposed to be, 2 percent of condoms will fail when used all the time-every time- over a year. In reality, the failure rate is about 18 percent during a year of typical use, the committee said.

Using condoms along with another birth control method, such as the Pill or an intrauterine device, may be the best way to prevent pregnancy and STIs.

In its recommendations, the committee said doctors should support consistent and correct use of condoms. They should also encourage parents to discuss condom use and prevention of STIs with their adolescent children.

Still, the committee said, abstinence should be encouraged as the best way to prevent STIs and unintended pregnancy.

Bleakley echoed the importance of communication between parents and teenagers.

"Parents really need to be proactive about communicating with their adolescents before their kids engage in sexual activity," she said.

"Really parents who talk to their kids about sexuality, about contraception, about condoms - their kids have much better outcomes," like fewer unintended pregnancies, Bleakley said.

If you’re not sure when to begin discussing sexuality with your child, talk to your pediatrician. It’s probably a lot earlier than you think.

Source: Genevra Pittman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/28/us-teens-condoms-idUSBRE99R03N20131028

 

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

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Just how much sleep does your child need?

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