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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/

Your Child

5 Fitness and Health APPS for Kids This Summer

2:00

Want to be more productive, creative, improve your gaming skills, write the next great best seller, explore new recipes or edit photos in your phone? There’s an app for that! If you can imagine it- there’s probably software designed for that very purpose.

There are numerous health apps out there, and many adults swear that they are getting and staying healthier by using them. But, what about apps dedicated to children’s health and fitness?

Here’s are five from the list of apps that have been reviewed and found a good fit for kids by commonsensemedia.org. The website provides a list of apps accompanied by reviews, appropriate age group, ease of play, violence, sex, consumerism and privacy & security ratings.

1.     Weight Loss for Kids and Teens by Kurbo Health - Age group -10 +

Weight Loss for Kids and Teens by Kurbo Health is a health app that helps kids age 8 to 18 track food choices, exercise minutes, and personal goals. The app and its related Kurbo coaching system are based on the Traffic Light Diet System developed at Stanford University. It categorizes food into green, yellow, and red choices to help kids learn to choose healthy options more often, without totally restricting any foods. There's also an exercise log, a goal-setting and weight-tracking tool, health-education games, and videos explaining each concept. Although the app is free, more personalized help is available through the Kurbo program's website, which includes live coaches. An Android version is scheduled for release soon.

2.     Zombies, Run! Age group – Age group 16-18

ZOMBIES, RUN! Runners become "Runner 5" in a post-apocalyptic community running from zombies and collecting supplies for survival. The story unfolds in episodes interspersed with the runner's own music playlist. Seasons one through three are included with the purchase, and additional episodes can be purchased in-app. Players can use the supplies they collect during their runs to build up their base and continue the fun after their runs.

3.     Stop, Breathe & Think – Age group 10 +

Stop, Breathe & Think is an app that encourages kids to learn the three skills in its title. Kids will stop and take stock of their thoughts and feelings; they'll breathe through guided meditations; and they'll think with increased kindness and compassion for the world around them. It's a great tool for developing positive habits of mind for kids and adults.

4.     LiVe – Age group 10+

LiVe is a fitness and nutrition app geared toward teens and tweens. Based on "8 Healthy Habits," the app encourages kids to set nutrition goals (such as eating a certain number of fruits and veggies and limiting sugary drinks), get more physical activity, eat meals with their families, and keep a positive attitude about food and body image. The easy, fun teen-centric graphics, solid (yet brief) information, and simple trackers give tweens and teens concrete ways to set these goals and track their progress.

5.     FitFu- Age group 13 +

FitFu is a combination of several other "Fu" fitness apps that teaches teens basic exercises, tracks their progress, and shares the information with friends. Because your device must move with your body, this app may encourage you to buy a strap or armband and is not intended for use on the iPad. There are 13 exercises included, such as lunges, pull-ups, and crunches. For each exercise, you hold or strap your device onto your body, and the accelerometer counts your reps. When finished, you can share your workouts with friends via email or Facebook or by connecting with friends who also have the app. Setting up a profile requires an email address or Facebook. You are not able to track exercises that are not included in the app. FitFu users must be 13 or older according to FitFu's terms of service.

The list above offers just a few of the apps parents can check out but there are other websites that also offer kid’s health apps and information.  Take a few moments and investigate and see what is out there; you may find some that fit your child better.

With school out and kids ready to enjoy the summer, parents can point them towards apps that can actually encourage moving, health and fitness in a fun and engaging way.

And of course, the kidsdr.com not only keeps you up on all the latest pediatric medical studies and news, but also provides in-depth discussions on kids health with pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard, videos, parenting q&a and safety recalls related to children’s products. You can also download the kidsdr app for quick and easy access to information - and it's free! 

Source: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/reviews/category/app/genre/health-fitness-65

http://www.kidsdr.com

 

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Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity & Weight Management

Your Baby

Which Fish is Healthier for Pregnant Women?

1:45

New federal nutrition guidelines say that pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat 2 to 3 servings of fish every week. However, there are certain fish that should be eaten only once per week and other fish that should be avoided entirely by pregnant and nursing women.

One reason for the differentiation between certain types of fish is its likelihood of containing either very low or high levels of mercury.

Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. But some contain high levels.  A type of mercury called methylmercury is most easily accumulated in the body and is particularly dangerous.

Eating large amounts of these fish and shellfish can result in high levels of mercury in the human body. In a fetus or young child, this can damage the brain and nervous system.

The highest mercury concentration belongs to fish that typically live a long time. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid King mackerel, Marlin, Orange roughy, Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico and Bigeye Tuna. These are fish that usually contain high levels of mercury.

The new guidelines come with a handy chart that gives you the best choices of fish, good choices and fish to avoid.

Naturally, many pregnant women are concerned about eating fish after hearing about the possibility of consuming any mercury whatsoever. It’s important to remember that most of the fish consumed by Americans falls into the safe category.

Studies show that fish provide an array of nutrients that are important for your baby's early development. Most experts agree that the key nutrients are two omega-3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA – that are difficult to find in other foods. Fish is also low in saturated fat and high in protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients that are crucial for a developing baby and a healthy pregnancy.

How do fish end up consuming mercury? Some of the sources (such as volcanoes and forest fires) are natural. It's also released into the air by power plants, cement plants, and certain chemical and industrial manufacturers, landfills and farming runoff.

When mercury settles into water, bacteria convert it into a form called methylmercury. Fish absorb methylmercury from the water they swim in and the organisms they eat. Methylmercury binds tightly to the proteins in fish muscle and remains there even after the fish is cooked. Fish that live a long time consume more mercury.

There are many benefits to eating fish; you just need to be aware of the kinds of fish you eat. To help you make the best choices, the new chart released by the FDA and EPA is shown below.

Story sources: Megan Thielking, https://www.statnews.com/2017/01/19/fda-guidelines-fish/

http://www.babycenter.com/0_eating-fish-during-pregnancy-how-to-avoid-mercury-and-still_10319861.bc

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/UCM536321.pdf

Your Child

Changes May Expand Kids Diagnosed With High Blood Pressure

2:00

An estimated 3.5 percent of children and teens in the U.S. have already been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure,) but that number will likely increase because of new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP).

"If there is diagnosis of hypertension, there are many ways we can treat it," Dr. David Kaelber, co-chair of the AAP Subcommittee on Screening and Management of High Blood Pressure in Children, which developed the report, said in a statement. "But because the symptoms are silent, the condition is often overlooked."

The new recommendations are an update to the guidelines released in 2004 by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The previous guidelines were based on blood pressure values for overweight or obese children, who are at a higher risk for hypertension, only. The new blood pressure tables are based on normal-weight children. Because of that change, the new blood pressure values are lower than they were before and allow for a more exact classification of blood pressure according to the patient's weight.

"Prevention and early detection are key," said Dr. Joseph Flynn, who co-chaired the subcommittee. "High blood pressure levels tend to carry into adulthood, raising the risks for cardiovascular disease and other problems. By catching the condition early, we are able to work with the family to manage it, whether that's through lifestyle changes, medication, or a combination of treatments.”

When high blood pressure is left untreated, it can have devastating effects on the body, including damage to the heart, kidneys, brain and eyes.

Because high blood pressure doesn’t present any symptoms, having your child’s blood pressure checked is the only way to know if it is higher than it should be.

Most physicians prefer not to start children on blood pressure lowering medications and will begin treatment by recommending life style changes. However, if those changes do not work or the child has diabetes, kidney disease or a family history of high blood pressure, medications may be started immediately.

Lifestyle changes, including improved diet and increased physical activity, should still be the first line of defense against obesity and high blood pressure, the guidelines recommend.

"These guidelines offer a renewed opportunity for pediatricians to identify and address this important – and often unrecognized – chronic disease in our patients," Kaelber said. "The easy part was developing the new guidelines. Now we begin the harder work of implementing them to help children and adolescents."

The report from the AAP calls on pediatricians to perform routine blood pressure checks at all annual visits. 

Story source: Ashley Welch, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-children-to-be-diagnosed-with-high-blood-pressure-under-new-guidelines/

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

Your Teen

Knee Surgeries Increasing for Female Teen Athletes

2:00

In 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act was passed. The law requires educational institutions to maintain policies, practices and programs that do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender. 

Young women and girls were given the opportunity to equally participate in school sports programs and receive athletic scholarship money proportional to their participation.

It was a monumental advancement for young girls and women, but along with opportunity came injuries.

A growing number of teenage girls are joining their male counterparts on the operating table to repair torn knee ligaments, according to a new study.

Researchers focused on surgery for a common knee injury known as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, which has long been linked to intense participation in sports like basketball and soccer which require constant pivoting as well as contact sports like football.

The study of private insurance data for 148 million U.S. residents found that overall, the average annual ACL surgery rate climbed 22 percent from 2002 to 2014, when it reached 75 procedures for every 100,000 people.

For teen girls, however, the average annual knee surgery rate rose by 59 percent during the study period to 269 procedures for every 100,000 people. 

“Although there are proven ACL injury prevention programs available, they are not being widely adopted, particularly among young women,” said lead study author Mackenzie Herzog of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The study didn’t focus on why the injuries are happening, but Herzog noted a few reasons why he thinks the increase in injuries might be happening in youth sports.

“Two particular trends that concern us are increased trends toward year-round sports participation at a young age and the tendency to specialize in one sport early,” Herzog said.

For teen boys, the average annual knee surgery rate climbed 44 percent during the study period to end at 212 procedures for every 100,000 people, researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics. 

Surgery rates also rose faster for women than for men, although adult male athletes still had more procedures. By the end of the study, 87 men and 61 women out of every 100,000 people had ACL surgery each year.

In an email to Reuters, Dr. Devin Peterson, a researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who wasn’t involved in the study, said cross-training programs that include exercises to improve strength, balance, coordination and muscle control could help prevent ACL tears.

Pediatric sports medicine expert R. Jay Lee, offers these tips and more from the Johns Hopkins Medicine website:

Get a preseason physical. A preseason or back-to-school physical is a great way to determine if your young athlete is fit to play. “Sports physicals help assess any areas of concern for athletes before they start an activity, and in turn keeps them from further injuring themselves during play if a condition is present and needs to be treated,” says Dr. Lee.

Encourage cross training and a variety of sports. “I see kids today who play on two baseball or lacrosse teams on the same day or throughout the week and year. But it’s important for athletes to change the sports or activities they are doing so they are not continuously putting stress on the same muscles and joints,” warns Dr. Lee. Parents should consider limiting the number of teams their athlete is on at any given time and changing up the routine regularly so that the same muscles are not continuously overused.

Warm up before the sports activity. Stretching is an important prevention technique that should become habit for all athletes before starting an activity or sport. Dr. Lee suggests a mix of both static and dynamic stretching during warmups to help loosen the muscles and prepare them for play. Toe touches and stretches, where you hold the position for a certain amount of time, are considered static, while jumping jacks and stretches, where the body continues to move during stretching, are considered dynamic.

Make sure the proper equipment is used. Protective equipment, like helmets, pads and shoes, are very important for injury prevention. Parents should talk with coaches before the season starts so that they have adequate time to properly outfit their child before practices begin.

Recognize injury and get help quickly.  “I’ve seen a number of young athletes who have serious injuries and didn’t do anything about them, and now the damage has progressed,” Dr. Lee warns. “We need to get these kids in to see a doctor earlier to keep this from happening.”

If parents notice that there is a change in their athlete’s technique, such as a limp when running, throwing differently or rubbing a leg during activity, they should pull the athlete out of play. If the problem persists, parents should seek an assessment for their child prior to returning to the activity.

Dr. Lee warns: “Athletes will alter the way they do things because of pain, but then they can end up with a more serious injury because of it.”

Story sources:  Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-acl-surgeries-girls-idUSKBN1952SE

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/articles-and-answers/prevention/10-tips-for-preventing-sports-injuries-in-kids-and-teens

 

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What's Going Around?

Parenting

Recent Hurricane Disasters May Have Lasting Impact on Kids

2:15

Children may experience long lasting trauma from either living through or even viewing images of natural disasters such as hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, experts say.

"Compared to adults, children suffer more from exposure to disasters, including psychological, behavioral and physical problems, as well as difficulties learning in school," Jessica Dym Bartlett, a senior research scientist at Child Trends, said in that organization's news release.

It’s reasonable to think that children who have actually had to live through the devastation of being in a hurricane could be traumatized and suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome, (PTSD.) But child mental health experts say that even kids who have seen pictures of the damage and watched news reports can also be traumatized and may develop similar symptoms of PTSD such as depression and anxiety.

"Understand that trauma reactions vary widely. Children may regress, demand extra attention and think about their own needs before those of others -- natural responses that should not be met with anger or punishment," Dym Bartlett said.

To help children through this difficult time, parents should create a comforting and safe environment where their child’s basic needs are met. Keep to regular schedules and other routines that provide children with a sense of safety and predictability.

Children that stay busy are also less likely to have continuing negative thoughts; boredom can worsen adverse thoughts and behaviors. Youngsters are less likely to feel distress if they play and interact with others, Dym Bartlett noted.

Limiting your child’s exposure to the continuous images and descriptions of disasters coming from news reports is also helpful, but it’s not necessary to try and eliminate everything pertaining to catastrophes. It’s better to help children understand what has happened in age-appropriate language and to empathize hope and positivity. Reassurance that you are there for them and will do all that is humanly possible to protect them can ease some of the fear associated with disasters.

"Find age-appropriate ways for children to help. Even very young children benefit from being able to make a positive difference in others' lives while learning important lessons about empathy, compassion and gratitude," Dym Bartlett said.

If a child continues to have difficulties coping for longer than six weeks after an event, like the hurricanes, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network recommends seeking professional help.

Parents and caregivers should also make sure that they take care of their own emotional health during these trying and sad times.

Story source: Health Day News, https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/09/12/Hurricanes-may-take-lasting-emotional-toll-on-kids/4141505232381/?utm_source=sec&utm_campaign=sl&utm_medium=14

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