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Your Child

Lung Ultrasounds as Effective as Chest X-Rays for Detecting Pneumonia

1:45

Traditionally, when a child shows up at the ER or physician’s office with suspected pneumonia, a chest x-ray is ordered to verify a diagnosis.

A new report says that lung ultrasounds may offer a safer and equally effective alternative for diagnosing pneumonia in children.

"Ultrasound is portable, cost-saving and safer for children than an X-ray because it does not expose them to radiation," explained study leader Dr. James Tsung. He is an associate professor in the departments of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

Ultrasound, also called sonography, is an imaging method that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images that lead to diagnosis and treatment of many diseases and medical conditions. Radiation is not used in ultrasound testing, but is used in x-rays and CT scans.

The study looked at 191 emergency department patients, aged 21 and younger, who were randomly assigned to either an investigational group or a control group.

Patients in the investigational group had lung ultrasound and, if additional verification was needed, a follow-up chest X-ray. Those in the control group had a chest X-ray followed by lung ultrasound.

The patients in the investigational group had nearly 39 percent fewer chest X-rays, with no missed cases of pneumonia and no increase in complications. The reduction in chest X-rays led to overall cost savings of $9,200 and an average decrease in time spent in the emergency department of 26 minutes, according to the study published April 12 in the journal Chest.

"Our study could have a profound impact in the developing world where access to radiography is limited," Tsung said in an Icahn news release.

Pneumonia is a leading cause of death among children worldwide. Chest X-ray is considered the best way to diagnose pneumonia in children, but about three-quarters of the world's population does not have access to X-rays, according to the World Health Organization.

Parents in the U.S. may want to request a lung ultrasound instead of a chest x-ray when that option is available, to avoid their child’s exposure to radiation.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160413/lung-ultrasound-may-be-best-to-spot-pneumonia-in-kids-study

Your Child

Flavored Spray May Help Pills Go Down A Little Easier!

1:45

When your child is sick, chances are you have a difficult time getting him or her to swallow their prescription pills. It’s a problem parents and caregivers have in common- getting a child’s medication into their body. Liquids typically come in several flavors, which can be helpful, but pills are another matter.

Some pills are tiny and smooth – making the job easier. But others can be large powdery and oddly shaped. To make things worse, they may need to be taken throughout the day. So, what’s a parent to do?

The results of a small study may be just what the doctor ordered. Researchers have found that a flavored spray, called Pill Glide, may make pill taking a lot more flavorful -- and maybe even enjoyable.

"There was a significant decrease in the difficulty of taking medicine with these sprays," said Dr. Catherine Tuleu, a pharmaceuticals researcher at University College London, who conducted the research with colleagues at Great Ormond Street Hospital in the UK. "The kids liked to be in charge and to change the flavor."

What is Pill Glide? It’s a spray that is squirted into the mouth to lubricate and add flavor to tablets and capsules to make them easier to swallow. It's available in five flavors: strawberry, peach, grape, bubble gum and orange, with strawberry coming through as the favorite in the trial. Its ingredients include artificial flavors and sweeteners. This spray was used in the trial study with results published in the journal Pediatrics.

Tuleu and her team tried it among 25 children ages 6 to 17 that were receiving long-term therapies for HIV or organ transplants and who were transitioning from liquid medication to solids or were known to struggle with swallowing pills.

Keeping diaries, the study participants used a six-point scale to note the levels of difficulty they experienced when taking their regular tablets for two weeks and then using the Pill Glide sprays for one week. The final analysis was conducted on 10 children who had kept complete diary entries.

The flavored sprays were found to decrease the level of difficulty by a score of 0.93, almost one full level on the scale used by the team.

"The swallowing of medicine in the form of pills often poses a real challenge for a good many children, making this study of definite interest," said Dr. Laura Jana, a pediatrician and director of innovation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, who was not involved in the research. "Something as seemingly simple as improving the taste and ease of swallowing a pill can have a significant impact on the proper and effective use of medicines."

The trial was very small and limited especially when you look at the number of participants, their health issues and the age group. But it may still be a process worth considering.

Tuleu acknowledges these limitations, and in addition to trying Pill Glide among larger groups, she wants to test its benefits in children who are less familiar with taking pills and who start out on solid pills, rather than transitioning from liquids.

"It would be interesting to try it with more naïve patients," she said. "If swallowing is not the challenge anymore, giving medication could be a lot easier."

Will this product make it easier for all kids to take a pill? Probably not. But this new approach may help some kids get past their difficulty with swallowing larger, more uncomfortable pills. It’s worth a try!

Story source: Meera Senthilingam, http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/01/health/kids-swallowing-pills-spray/

Your Toddler

Kid’s “Hypoallergenic” Products May Cause Allergic Reactions

2:00

When a child has eczema, doctors often recommend that parents purchase hypoallergenic ointments, creams or lotions to ease the suffering from dry, inflamed skin.

However, according to a new study, many products labeled as hypoallergenic contain ingredients that can cause allergic reactions.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the “hypoallergenic” label, said Carsten Hamann, a medical student at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California and the lead researcher on the study.

“Kids who have eczema or atopic dermatitis use more lotions and creams and ointments, etc. Ostensibly, their caregivers who purchase these products to use on the kids' skin, give preference to products using these meaningless marketing terms,” Hamann told Reuters Health in an email.

Hamann and his colleagues tested products that might be used by kids with eczema, which affects 17.8 million people in the U.S., according to the National Eczema Association. Patients have patches of red, itchy skin, often on the arms, legs, cheeks, and behind the ears.

Doctors often advise people with eczema to apply moisturizer to the affected areas.  People with eczema tend to have a higher risk of so-called “contact allergies.” That is, they may have allergic reactions to substances that come in contact with their skin, including fragrances, preservatives, and other kinds of chemicals.

Researchers tested 187 cosmetic products found in 6 different stores in California, to see if they contained any of the 80 most common known allergens.  All of the products were specifically marketed as being safe for use by children and labeled as “hypoallergenic”, “ dermatologist recommended/ tested”, “fragrance-free,” or “Paraben free.” Most people assume that these types of products are actually designed to help people who have sensitive skin.

But, researchers found that 89 percent of the products contained at least one allergen, 63 percent contained two or more, and 11 percent contained five or more. The average number of allergens per product was 2.4, the researchers reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Preservatives and fragrances accounted for 58 percent and 29 percent of the allergens, respectively. These ingredients often irritate a skin condition.

Ten percent of the products contained methylisothizolinone, a preservative that is about to be banned in the European Union because it can cause severe skin irritation, according to the researchers.

“It would be very difficult for even the most caring, intelligent and well-read parent to know the names of 80-plus allergens and their synonyms, let alone compare that list of allergens to a 15-plus long ingredient list on the back of a pediatric product,” Hamann said.

Dr. Michael Arden-Jones, a skin disease specialist at the University of Southampton in the U.K., said that defining something as an allergen can be complicated.

“Almost any chemical compound could be implicated as an allergen, so it is almost impossible for a cream to be truly non-allergic,” he told Reuters Health. “Thus, as there is no true ‘hypoallergenic’ cream, there is no agreed meaning of ‘hypoallergenic.’”

Skin experts say that ointments are generally the safest products for kids who have eczema. Creams and lotions contain water and therefore must contain preservatives, making them more likely to contain allergens. Prescription moisturizers are typically reliable. Products with artificial coloring or fragrances or do not have the ingredients listed on the box should be avoided.

The National Eczema Association reviews products and offers the “NEA Seal of Acceptance” for those that do not include known irritants. Depending on the product, the NEA Seal of Acceptance™ Review Panel considers testing data on sensitivity, safety, and toxicity, as well as the ingredients, content, and formulation data. There is a tab on the website dedicated to information on child eczema in infants to older children. Their website is: http://nationaleczema.org.

Sources: Madeline Kennedy, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/21/us-eczema-products-safety-idUSKCN0J529L20141121

http://nationaleczema.org.

Your Child

Make It a Safe Summer!

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Summer is a time when lots of family create life-long memories. Vacations offer a chance for everyone to get away from the daily grind and explore someplace new. Some families choose to spend the summer closer to home with a “staycation.” You can still relax, have fun and spend time together without the added expense of travel.

One experience a family doesn’t want to have is when someone is injured or worse or falls ill during the summer break. To help make summer is a little safer remember these common sense safety tips.

Water Safety: Probably the number one danger to children in the summer is drowning.

·      Make sure your child learns how to swim.

·      Never leave your child unattended around water. We know it sounds strict, but there is no room for compromise on this one. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.

·      Drowning is silent. Always watch your child when they are in a pool, lake, ocean or pond.

·      Have a flotation device nearby to toss into the water for a child to grab if they are tired or in danger.

·      If you cannot swim, make sure that there is an adult who can swim with you when your children are in the water.

·      Put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to do and give young children 100 percent of your attention when they are near or around water.

·      Keep pool areas fenced and locked when no one is in the pool.

·      Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.

·      Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. It’s also a good idea to keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed. 

·      Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.

Hot Cars: Another danger for small children is hot cars. When a child dies or is injured in a hot car, it’s one of the most preventable tragedies. Parents and caregivers can forget they have a small child in the back seat of a car, or they can leave them in the car not realizing how fast the temperature will rise in a very short time. Occasionally, a child will enter a parked car and accidently lock themselves in. 

·      Always look before you lock your car.

•       Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.

•       Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Put something you’ll need in the back seat- like a briefcase or purse.

•       If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.

•       Never leave a child unattended in a car. Opening windows will not prevent heatstroke. Heatstroke can happen on cloudy days and when the temperature outside is below 70 degrees.

•       If your traveling with several children, do a head count – see each child- before locking or leaving the car.

•       If your child is missing, check your car first thing.

If you see an unattended child alone in a car, take action!. Don’t wait more than a couple of minutes for the driver to return. If you see a child is unresponsive or in distress; call 911. Get the child out of the car then spray the him or her with cool water (not an ice bath). If the child is responsive, stay with them until help arrives. Send someone else to find the driver.

Food Safety: Who doesn’t love a good picnic or grilled meal? However, food borne illnesses are not something you’ll enjoy.

•       Keep cold foods cold.

•       Don’t keep any foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours -- or 1 hour if it’s warmer than 90 degrees.

•       Don’t reuse platters that have held raw meat until you wash them thoroughly.

•       Keep your grill away from buildings and branches.

•       Don’t let grease build up.

•       Never leave your grill unattended.

•       Keep kids and pets away.

•       Does yours use propane? Test for leaks before the season starts. If you ever smell gas while you’re cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department.

Bug Bites: Summer brings bugs, ticks, bees, mosquitoes, fire ants, chiggers, spiders and other pests.

Mosquitoes are more than a bother. They can spread West Nile virus. Most people who get the virus have no symptoms at all. But very serious and sometimes fatal illness can happen in less than 1% of those infected.

The only way to avoid West Nile is to avoid mosquito bites. Wear mosquito repellent and, if weather permits, long pants and long sleeves outside from dusk to dawn.

At home, get rid of standing water in birdbaths, buckets, and tire swings. They’re breeding grounds for mosquitos.

A bite from a tick is not usually a big deal, but the wrong type of tick can cause real problems. Ticks can cause diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection that occurs mostly in the South Atlantic region in the U.S. If the family is trekking in wooded areas. Make sure that everyone is: 

•       Wearing light-colored long pants, so it’s easier to spot ticks.

•       Tucks their pants into socks or high-top boots or tape them to boots.

•       Wearing a hat and long-sleeved shirt, tucked in.

•       Sprays or rubs insect repellent on the tops of boots, exposed area of socks, and pants openings (inside cuffs, waistband, and fly).

•       Using insect repellant with DEET on your exposed skin.  For children, choose a repellent with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET. If your pets go outside, check them regularly for ticks so they don't bring them in the house.

Fire ants have a painful bite and some children are allergic to them. Check your yard for fire ant mounds and if you find any, have them removed professionally.

If you’ve ever had chigger bites, you know how miserable they are. Keep your grass cut short and use bug repellent. Shoes and socks also offer some protection.

During bug season, a good repellent is going to be your best bet to protect your child and yourself from many of these pesky critters.

Shark Attacks: If you’re headed to the ocean, sunburn is more likely to be a problem for your child than a shark bite, however, this year is quickly on the way to setting a record for shark attacks. Here are some ways to lessen the risks.

•       Avoid being in the water at twilight, when sharks are most active.

•       Don’t go in the water if you’re bleeding.

•       Don’t wear shiny jewelry when you swim. It could look like fish scales to a shark.

•       Know that sharks are sometimes near the shore. Sandbars can trap them close to the beach at low tide.

•       Skip swimming after heavy rains, which may move some freshwater fish, including sharks, into areas they would not otherwise frequent.

Sunburn: Summertime can mean sunburn time as well. Not only are they painful; but sunburns can do more damage to the skin long after it has healed. Children are more prone to sunburn because of their delicate skin.

Try to keep your child out of the sun when the peak ultraviolet rays occur (between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.).

In addition, follow these guidelines:

•       Always use a sunscreen to block the damaging ultraviolet rays. Choose a sunscreen made for children with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. (Check the label.) Apply the protection 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Keep in mind that no sunscreens are truly waterproof, and thus they need to be reapplied every one and a half to two hours, particularly if your child spends a lot of time in the water. Consult the instructions on the bottle. 

•       Dress your child in lightweight cotton clothing with long sleeves and long pants. 

•       Use a beach umbrella or similar object to keep her in the shade as much as possible. 

•       Have her wear a hat with a wide brim. 

•       Babies under six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. If adequate clothing and shade are not available, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands.

Heat Exhaustion: Too much heat can make you or your child very sick. Take special care with children and the elderly, because their bodies don’t cool as well. Kids are particularly at risk for heat cramps when they aren't drinking enough fluids.

Although painful, heat cramps on their own aren't serious. Cramps can be the first sign of more serious heat illness, so they should be treated right away to help avoid any problems.

Don’t let your child play outside during the hottest part of the day. Make sure they have plenty of fluids and a cool place to rest. If you suspect your child is suffering from heat exhaustion, call 911. Symptoms can include:

•       Increased thirst

•       Weakness

•       Fainting

•       Muscle cramps

•       Nausea and/or vomiting

•       Irritability

•       Headache

•       Increase sweating

•       Cool, clammy skin

•       Elevation of body temperature, but less than 104°F (40°C)

Protect Your Feet!

One minute you’re strolling barefoot. The next, you’re in pain. Puncture wounds happen more often in summer, when bare feet meet nails, glass, toothpicks, and seashells. 

The biggest problem is infection. Heat, swelling, and drainage are signs that need quick medical attention. You may also need to update your tetanus shot. 

These are just a few tips to help prevent some serious summertime injuries. Sometimes the problems are just an annoyance, other times they can be fatal. Summer is about fun and family time together. Just use common sense and follow these simple rules for a safer summer.

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-summer-health-hazards?print=true

http://www.safekids.org/watersafety

http://www.safercar.gov/parents/InandAroundtheCar/heatstroke.htm

 

Your Child

Kid’s Allergies Linked to Depression and Anxiety

2:00

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 40 percent of U.S. children suffer from allergies. It is the third most common chronic disease in kids under the age of 18.

A new study suggests that children who have allergies at an early age are more likely to have problems with anxiety and depression than those that do not.

One reason may be that children with allergies tend to keep their troubles to themselves or  “internalize” them.

“I think the surprising finding for us was that allergic rhinitis has the strongest association with abnormal anxiety/depression/internalizing scores compared to other allergic diseases,” said lead author Dr. Maya K. Nanda of the division of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rhinitis is more commonly called “hay fever” and includes symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes.

The researchers studied 546 children who had skin tests and exams at age one, two, three, four and seven and whose parents completed behavioral assessments at age seven. They looked for signs of sneezing and itchy eyes, wheezing or skin inflammation related to allergies.

Parents answered 160 questions about their child’s behaviors and emotions, including how often they seemed worried, nervous, fearful, or sad.

Researchers found that the four-year–old children with hay fever symptoms or persistent wheezing tended to have higher depressive or anxiety scores than others at age seven.

The more allergies a child had, the higher the anxiety and depression scores.

“This study can't prove causation. It only describes a significant association between these disorders, however we have hypotheses on why these diseases are associated,” Nanda told Reuters Health by email.

Another reason for the association may be that children with allergic diseases may be at increased risk for abnormal internalizing scores due to an underlying biological mechanism, or because they modify their behavior in response to the allergies, she said.

Other studies support the idea that that a biologic mechanism involving allergy antibodies trigger production of other substances that affect the parts of the brain that control emotions.

In a 2005 study, Teodor T. Postolache, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the mood and anxiety program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that peaks of tree pollen increased with levels of suicide in women.

Postolache says allergic rhinitis is known to cause specialized cells in the nose to release cytokines, a kind of inflammatory protein. Animal and human studies alike suggest that cytokines can affect brain function, triggering sadness, malaise, poor concentration, and increased sleepiness.

The new study took race, gender and other factors into account, “so the strong association between allergic disease and internalizing disorder we found is definitely present,” Nanda said.

The severity of mental health symptoms varied in this study. Some children had anxiety and depression that needs treatment, while others were at risk and required monitoring, she said.

“We think this study calls for better screening by pediatricians, allergists, and parents of children with allergic disease,” Nanda said. “Too often in my clinic I see allergic children with clinical anxiety (or) depressive symptoms; however, they are receiving no care for these conditions.”

“We don't know how treatment for allergic diseases may effect or change the risk for internalizing disorders and we hope to study this in the future,” Nanda said.

Experts hope that if parents know that allergies may contribute to their child’s mood or behavior, they will be more likely to keep a closer eye on their child for signs of depression or anxiety and seek treatment if necessary.

The study was presented in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Sources: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-kids-allergies-depression-idUSKBN0UC1TW20151230

David Freeman, http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/allergies-depression

 

Your Teen

90% of High School Kids Need More Exercise

1:30

Nine out of ten high school students are not exercising enough to stay healthy and fit, setting up a pattern that often continues after they graduate, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers followed students at 44 high schools for four years, and found that only 9 percent met current exercise recommendations throughout that time. For the most part, those habits held steady after high school -- though college students were more active than non-students.

For students that continued to college, those living on campus exercised more than those living at home.

It's not clear why those students were more active. They might have been more involved in sports, for example, or simply walked more -- running from classes to dorms and other campus buildings, said lead researcher Kaigang Li.

"The walkability of your environment is important," said Li, an assistant professor of health and exercise science at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins.

This is not the first study to look at the physical condition of high school and college students.  Several other studies have found that these two groups struggle with getting enough meaningful exercise. 

According to Peter Katzmarzyk, a professor at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Baton Rouge, "This study really confirms the low levels of physical activity in adolescents, which appear to be maintained over time as they transition into young adulthood."

The strength of this study, he said, is that it objectively measured teens' activity levels: Students wore devices called accelerometers, which tracked how much they moved over the course of a week.

Katzmarzyk, who was not involved in the study, conducts research on child exercise patterns, obesity and health.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenagers should get at least one hour of physical activity each day that includes exercise that boosts the heart rate, such as running. Kids should also try some strength-building activities -- for example, push-ups or lifting light-weights.

The CDC noted that a lack of physical education in U.S. schools may be a contributing factor in students’ understanding of exercise and how it can improve their health. 

At one time, PE was a part of every student’s daily school activities, today, according to the CDC, only 29 percent of high school students have gym class every day.

The evidence from this new research and other studies makes a good argument for more physical education, according to Katzmarzyk.

"Any way that we can increase physical activity levels in adolescence might translate into maintaining higher levels of physical activity in young adulthood," he said. "So physical education in high school is certainly an important outlet for this."

Still, Li said, there are probably numerous reasons for teenagers' low exercise levels.

He noted that in elementary school, most U.S. kids do get enough physical activity. But there is a steep drop-off after that. According to Li, that could be related to many factors -- including heavier homework loads starting in middle school, and more time on cellphones and computers.

While schools and communities can advance opportunities for kids to be more physically fit, families that put a high priority on exercise and a healthy lifestyle give their children the ability to independently remain physically fit for a lifetime.

Story source: Amy Norton, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/9-of-10-teens-don-t-get-enough-exercise-study-shows-715167.html

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Your Child

Diving Safety Tips

1:30

Diving into a pool or lake is one way to cool off during the hot summer months, but if you aren’t careful, fun can turn to tragedy in a few quick seconds.

Every year there are hundreds of people who are paralyzed from neck and spine injuries after diving head first into shallow lakes and pools according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the American Spine Injury Association and the Cervical Spine Research Society.

"Everyone needs to be trained to dive safely," AAOS spokesperson and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brett Taylor, said in a news release from the group. "Safe diving skills don't come naturally, they have to be learned. With neck and spine injuries being the most common diving injuries, a good rule of thumb for divers is to dive feet first in unknown water."

The biggest obstacle to safe diving is shallow water. Experts say that you should always check the depth of the water and make sure that it is deep enough for diving. If you're diving from a high point, make sure the bottom of the body of water is double the distance from which you're diving.

Murky water in lakes and oceans can also present a danger. With unclear water you can’t see sand bars or objects below the surface. The heavy rains during the spring have lifted some lake levels far above normal making it difficult to see what may be lurking just below the surface.

Experts also warn that kids and adults should never dive into an above ground pool. These pools tend to be shallower than in-ground pools.

Only one person at a time should stand on a diving board. Dive only off the end of the board and do not run on the board. Do not bounce more than once, because the rebound effect could knock you off your legs or throw you off balance.

After diving, immediately swim away from the area of the diving board to clear the way for the next diver. It’s easy to forget that another child may be right below the next eager diver. It’s particularly important for parents to keep an eye on who is in the pool or lake and where they are.

Don't body surf near the shore. Doing so puts you at risk for neck injuries, as well as shoulder dislocations and fractures. These waves can pack a heavier punch especially when a beach has been recently replenished.

Pools, lakes and oceans can be a refreshing retreat when the temperatures reach into the 90s and 100s, but make sure your kids are playing it safe when diving in.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/diving-health-news-247/experts-offer-diving-safety-tips-701129.html

Your Child

Obesity Related Heart Disease Found in Children as Young as 8

2:00

All you have to do is look around, wherever children are gathered, to see that there are far too many kids that are overweight in this country.  And sadly, some of these children may already be developing heart disease according to a new study.

The study reports that obese children as young as 8 years of age, are beginning to show signs of heart abnormalities.

"It is both surprising and alarming to us that even the youngest obese children in our study who were 8 years old had evidence of heart disease," said study lead author Linyuan Jing, a postdoctoral fellow with Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa.

"Ultimately, we hope that the effects we see in the hearts of these children are reversible," Jing added. "However, it is possible that there could be permanent damage."

Researchers conducted MRI scans of 40 children between 8 and 16 years old. Half of the participants were obese; the other half was of normal weight for their age and height.

They found that the obese children had an average of 27 percent more muscle mass in the left ventricle region their heart, and 12 percent thicker heart muscle overall. Both are considered indicators of heart disease, Jing said.

Among 40 percent of the obese children, scans showed thickened heart muscle had already translated into a reduced ability to pump blood. The children with this reduced heart capacity were considered to be at “high risk” for adult cardiac strain and heart disease.

"This should be further motivation for parents to help children lead a healthy lifestyle," Jing said.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, called the findings "alarming."

Some of the obese children in the study were struggling with health complications often associated with excess weight, including asthma, high blood pressure and depression, the researchers said. But none displayed customary warning signs of heart disease such as fatigue, dizziness or shortness of breath, Jing said.

The study did not include kids with diabetes or those that were too large to fit inside the MRI scanning machine. Jing noted that the study might actually underestimate how many children are suffering from heart related problems associated with obesity.

Jing said it’s up to parents to help their children maintain a healthy weight. They should buy healthy foods instead of cheap fast food and fruit juice, "which is high in sugar but low in fiber," she said.

She also recommended that parents limit TV, computer and video game time and encourage more physical outdoor activities.

Childhood obesity isn’t just an American problem; it’s a global problem as well.  The World Heart Federation says that one in 10 school-aged children worldwide are estimated to be overweight. However, in the USA, the number of overweight children has doubled and the number of overweight adolescents has tripled since 1980.

The researchers believe that schools can play a role in helping families understand the health problems associated with obesity.

“…Schools and communities need to do a better job at educating both the parents and children about the health risks of overweight and obesity," said Jing.

Fonarow agreed adding, "Substantially increased efforts are needed to prevent and treat childhood obesity."

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Fla.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Source: Alan Mozes, http://consumer.healthday.com/cardiovascular-health-information-20/misc-stroke-related-heart-news-360/obese-kids-as-young-as-8-show-heart-disease-signs-705099.html

 

 

 

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

New report says not enough babies are getting much needed tummy time!

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

New report says not enough babies are getting much needed tummy time!

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