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Ask The Kid's Doctor

Ask The Kid's Doctor!

Your Teen

Shampoos & Cosmetics Loaded With Chemicals May Be Harming Teen Girls

2:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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

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

 

 

 

Parenting

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

2:00

This is the time of year when accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning happens the most. For families in cold climates or dealing with disasters such as flooding, tornados or loss of electricity for long periods of time, gasoline powered generators or heaters can be a godsend. But they also require special care to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas that is a product of the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels. Unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings accounted for approximately 400 to 500 deaths (all ages) and more than 15,000 emergency department visits in the United States annually according to the AAP Council on Environmental Health.

Proper installation and maintenance for the use of combustion appliances can help to reduce excessive carbon monoxide emissions along with carbon monoxide detectors.

Many non-fires related CO poisonings come from automobiles left running in a closed garage- sending toxic fumes into the house.

Other ways carbon monoxide poisoning occurs may surprise you. Improperly maintained chimneys and flues can crack and leave a buildup that causes problems with venting CO fumes. Wood stoves that are not fitted correctly can leak CO into living rooms and bedrooms. Kerosene heaters reduce oxygen in rooms. They require good ventilation to operate safely. Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide can be emitted from improper use of kerosene heaters. These fumes become toxic in large quantities and put vulnerable individuals at risk, such as pregnant women, asthmatics, people with cardiovascular disease, the elderly, and young children. Charcoal grills put off an enormous amount of CO; they should never be used indoors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers guidance for protecting families from CO poisoning with these tips:

Fuel-Burning Appliances

•       Forced-air furnaces should be checked by a professional once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer. Pilot lights can produce carbon monoxide and should be kept in good working order.

•       All fuel-burning appliances (eg, gas water heaters, gas stoves, gas clothes dryers) should be checked professionally once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.

•       Gas cooking stove tops and ovens should not be used for supplemental heat.

Fireplaces and Woodstoves

•       Fireplaces and woodstoves should be checked professionally once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer. Check to ensure the flue is open during operation. Proper use, inspection, and maintenance of vent-free fireplaces (and space heaters) are recommended.

Space Heaters

•       Fuel-burning space heaters should be checked professionally once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.

•       Space heaters should be properly vented during use, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Barbecue Grills/Hibachis

•       Barbecue grills and hibachis should never be used indoors.

•       Barbecue grills and hibachis should never be used in poorly ventilated spaces such as garages, campers, and tents.

Automobiles/Other Motor Vehicles

•       Regular inspection and maintenance of the vehicle exhaust system are recommended. Many states have vehicle inspection programs to ensure this practice.

•       Never leave an automobile running in the garage or other enclosed space; Carbon monoxide can accumulate even when a garage door is open.

Generators/Other Fuel-Powered Equipment

•       Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when operating generators and other fuel-powered equipment.

•       Never operate a generator indoors or near an open window when the generator is outdoors.

Boats

•       Be aware that carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic symptoms of seasickness.

•       Schedule regular engine and exhaust system maintenance.

•       Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector in the accommodation space on the boat.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic other illnesses – so it’s good to be aware of the symptoms, especially if you have any of the heating sources or gasoline powered motors mentioned above.

Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

The symptoms may be subtle, but the condition is life threatening. If you suspect CO poisoning, seek emergency medical care immediately and make sure your child is getting fresh air as soon as possible.

Story sources: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Children-and-Disasters/Pages/Protecting-Children-from-Carbon-Monoxide-Poisoning.aspx

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carbon-monoxide/basics/definition/con-20025444

 

Your Child

Worrisome Increase in Kidney Stones in Teens & Children

1:45

Typically, kidney stones occur in men over the age of 25, but new research shows that the annual incidence of kidney stones among children and teens has risen by 16 percent from 1997 to 2012.

Researchers analyzed data from South Carolina from 1997 to 2012 and were surprised to see that the largest increase was with teens (4.7 percent a year), females (3.7 percent a year) and blacks (nearly 3 percent a year).

During the study period, the risk of kidney stones doubled among children, and there was a 45 percent increase in the lifetime risk for women.

Teen girls had the highest rate of increase in kidney stones, and they were more common among females aged 10 to 24 than among males in the same age group. After age 25, kidney stones were more common in men, the study authors said.

"The emergence of kidney stones in children is particularly worrisome, because there is limited evidence on how to best treat children for this condition," said study leader Dr. Gregory Tasian, a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"The fact that stones were once rare and are now increasingly common could contribute to the inappropriate use of diagnostic tests such as CT scans for children with kidney stones, since health care providers historically have not been accustomed to evaluating and treating children with kidney stones," he explained in a hospital news release.

"These trends of increased frequency of kidney stones among adolescents, particularly females, are also concerning when you consider that kidney stones are associated with a higher risk of chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular and bone disease, particularly among young women," Tasian added.

What causes kidney stones? According to the Mayo clinic, kidney stones do not have a single cause, although several factors can increase one’s risk.

Kidney stones form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances — such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid — than the fluid in your urine can dilute. At the same time, your urine may lack substances that prevent crystals from sticking together, creating an ideal environment for kidney stones to form.

Some of the risk factors include a family or personal history of kidney stones, dehydration, diets high in protein, sodium and sugar, obesity and other several other medical conditions.

Symptoms can include:

•       Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs

•       Pain that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin

•       Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity

•       Pain on urination

•       Pink, red or brown urine

•       Cloudy or foul-smelling urine

•       Nausea and vomiting

•       Persistent need to urinate

•       Urinating more often than usual

•       Fever and chills if an infection is present

•       Urinating small amounts of urine

If your child or teen exhibits severe back or side pain, pain and nausea and vomiting, pain with fever and chills, blood in the urine or has difficulty passing urine, he or she should be seen immediately by a physician.

There may be a number of reasons for the rise in kidney stone rates, including not drinking enough water and poor eating habits, such as increased salt and decreased calcium intake, the researcher said.

The findings were published online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://teens.webmd.com/news/20160115/rise-in-kidney-stones-in-teens-a-cause-for-concern-study

 

 

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

 

Daily Dose

Being a Dad

1:30 to read

Seeing that this is the week of Father’s Day (have you made your card or shopped yet?), I thought this was a good time to discuss some recent data that might be of interest to men….especially those who may be planning a family in the near future. 

For years research has shown that maternal age may contribute to birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities, including Down’s syndrome.. It has also been known that a pregnant woman’s health and habits may also affect their unborn baby’s health, therefore  woman are instructed to stop smoking and drinking alcohol while trying to get pregnant as well as throughout their pregnancy.

Dr. Joanna Kitlinska a researcher from Georgetown University has been studying how men’s age as well as their habits might also impact a child.  Her findings have shown a link between men who are over 40 years- “advanced paternal age”  and the incidence of autism as compared to fathers under 30 years of age.  Studies have also found that older fathers are more  likely to have children who develop schizophrenia.  Researchers wonder if this link may be due to changes in a father’s genes as they age….but to date this is unclear. “Biological clocks” and a woman’s decision to delay a pregnancy until their career is established (or for a myriad of reasons) may now be a decision that men will face as well.  Could both aging eggs and sperm play a role in genetic abnormalities? 

Smoking seems to be another habit that may somehow affect a man’s sperm and could potentially lead to genetic abnormalities in a child. 

While fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are known to be found in women who have consumed alcohol throughout their pregnancy,  researchers have also noted that 3 out of 4 children diagnosed with FAS also have alcoholic fathers.   Could their father’s excessive use of alcohol have also played a role in their developing brain?  This association has been found even if the mother did not drink alcohol during her pregnancy. Again, did the alcohol affect a father’s sperm and genes which was passed on to their child?

So…bottom line, it is important that “fathers to be” are equally invested in a healthy lifestyle when they are planning on having children.  It goes without saying that smoking, drinking, and even obesity and stress are not good choices for anyone …..but the fact that these choices may affect a future child are good reasons for both fathers, and mothers to be aware of this research when they are planning a family. 

 

Your Child

Yearly Flu Shot Could Stop Most Flu-Related Deaths in Kids

2:00

A simple yearly flu shot could prevent most flu-related deaths in children, according to a new study.

While the flu season is winding down, research shows that parents need to remember the benefits flu shots offer, when it rolls around again next fall.

Scientists found that about three-quarters of U.S. kids who died of flu complications between 2010 and 2014 were unvaccinated before they fell ill.

If all children got their yearly flu shot, 65 percent of those deaths could be prevented, the researchers estimated.

Experts said the findings support what health officials already recommend; adults and children age 6 months and up should be vaccinated ahead of every flu season.

It’s not a common occurrence, but children can die of the flu. When it does happen, "it's a tragedy," said Brendan Flannery, a researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who led the study.

"People often don't consider the flu to be very serious," Flannery said. "But it can be, and even children can die."

Healthy kids can become seriously ill and develop complications such as pneumonia. The risk is higher among children with certain medical conditions, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.

Flannery's team found that a flu shot could cut the risk of death among both healthy kids and those with "high-risk" medical conditions.

The findings are based on 358 children and teenagers who died of a flu infection that was confirmed by laboratory testing, over four flu seasons. Only one-quarter had been vaccinated -- though the rate was higher among kids with underlying medical conditions.

Of 153 children with high-risk conditions, 31 percent had gotten a flu shot.

The researchers then compared those kids with three large groups of U.S. children whose flu vaccination rates had been tracked. Overall, 48 percent of these children had been vaccinated for flu, the study found.

On average, the CDC team estimated, 65 percent of flu-related deaths could be prevented if all U.S. kids got their yearly flu shot. Among children with high-risk medical conditions, the vaccine could cut the risk of death in half.

While the flu vaccine isn’t foolproof, it typically reduces the risk of getting the flu or makes it less severe. The flu vaccine has to be reformulated each year, depending on the most dominant strain of virus.

"With an imperfect vaccine, we'll still see deaths from the flu," Flannery said. "But vaccination does reduce the risk."

Despite that, many U.S. children -- even those with high-risk medical conditions -- go unvaccinated.

One likely reason, Offit said, is that it's a yearly shot. That makes it inconvenient, he noted -- but also, to some people, "implies that it's not very good."

Flannery agreed that some people believe the flu shot does not work. To some extent, he said, that's due to uncertainty about what the flu is: Some people confuse it with the common cold, or even a stomach infection. If they fall ill with those infections after getting a flu shot, they think the vaccine didn't work.

The flu vaccine can help prevent hospitalizations, time off work for parents and a lot of misery for the kids, Flannery noted.

In addition, some parents worry about the vaccine's safety, particularly if their child has a chronic health condition.

But, Flannery stressed, "the vaccine is recommended for children with high-risk medical conditions because it is safe."

In the U.S., flu season usually runs between October and April.

The findings were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Amy Norton, https://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/most-u-s-kids-who-die-from-flu-are-unvaccinated-721195.html

 

Parenting

AAP Says Lice Shouldn’t Keep Kids Out of School

1:30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Toddler

Tricycles Cause Almost 9500 Injuries a Year

2:00

The brightly colored, tripled wheeled tyke-bikes may appear pretty harmless, but tricycles injuries send thousands of children to the hospital every year according to a new study.

Researchers found that lacerations were the most common type of injury kids suffered.  

But in an indication that some kids might need more or better quality protective gear, researchers also estimated that about 30 percent of injuries were to the head and another 8 percent involved the elbow, noted lead study author Sean Bandzar.

“Head injuries in particular are very common with any kind of moving toy and that’s why we recommend helmets, and based on our findings I would also encourage parents to have kids wear elbow pads,” said Bandzar, a researcher at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

Based on the 328 tricycle injuries reported by participating hospitals in 2012 and 2013, researchers estimated that there were about 9,340 injuries nationwide during the two-year study period.

The total included 2,767 injuries to the head and 767 at the elbow, as well as 1,880 accidents damaging the face, 954 hurting the mouth and 483 harming the lower arms, researchers estimated.

The study noted that on average, three year-olds were the typical age group injured and one to two-year olds, made-up slightly more than 50 percent of the cases.

Boys made up almost two-thirds of the cases.

With this age group, it came as no surprise that about 72 percent of the injures occurred at home.

There were a couple shortcomings of the study, the authors acknowledge in the journal Pediatrics, is that researchers lacked data on how accidents happened, whether kids wore helmets or other protective gear, what types of tricycles children rode and whether adults were present.

It’s also possible that the study didn’t have data on enough accidents to draw broad conclusions about tricycle injuries nationwide, said Dr. Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance and a professor of Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

“Tricycles are safe, especially if a few simple steps are taken to prevent injuries,” Smith, who wasn’t involved in the study, he told Rueters by email.

Children should always wear helmets any time they are on wheels above a hard surface – including tricycles, skateboards, scooters, skates and bicycles, Smith said. Tricycle riders in particular should only ride in areas separated from cars, and when parents can keep a close eye on them.

“Tricycles are somewhat riskier than other toys children use but that doesn’t mean they are highly risky toys,” said David Schwebel, a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

While Schwebel, who wasn’t involved in the study, echoed the need for parental supervision, he also stressed that tricycles can be good for kids.

“Tricycles are valuable tools to help children develop critical gross motor skills like balance, coordination and strength,” Schwebel said by email. “Any tricycle, when used carefully in a supervised situation, is likely to be a positive activity for children.”

Source: Lisa Rapaport, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/14/us-health-children-tricycle-injuries-idUSKCN0RE1TQ20150914

 

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