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Your Child

CDC, White House Urge Measles Vaccinations

2:00

In 2002, when measles were essentially declared eliminated in the U.S., scientists didn’t expect parents would begin to opt out of the MMH vaccinations for their children during the next 5 years. The vaccine is safe and effective, so who wouldn’t want their child protected from a painful and potentially fatal disease?

Turns out that there are American parents who fear vaccines and children who visit from other countries where the vaccine is not available, widely distributed or required for travel.  Measles hasn’t been eliminated around the world and has reared its ugly head again the states.

So far, more than 90 people have been diagnosed in California and the disease has spread to 13 other states including Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington as well as Mexico.

According to public health officials, the current outbreak has been linked to 58 cases that began when an infected person from outside the United States visited Disneyland in Anaheim between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said a traveler could still easily bring in the disease from abroad.

"This is a wake-up call to make sure we keep measles from getting a foothold in our country," she said.

The measles vaccine is part of a grouping of vaccines known as MMH (measles, mumps and rubella.) These diseases spread from person to person through the air. They are highly contagious. You can easily catch them by being around someone who is already infected, but not showing symptoms.

The MMH vaccine can protect children (and adults) from all three of these diseases.

There are valid medical reasons why some people should not receive the vaccine that include:

·      Anyone who has had life-threatening allergic reaction the antibiotic neomycin or any other component of the MMH vaccine.

·      People who are sick at the time the vaccine is scheduled. They should wait till they recover before getting the vaccine.

·      Pregnant women should not get the vaccine until after giving birth. Women should avoid getting pregnant for 4 weeks after vaccination with the MMR vaccine.

·      People with compromised immune systems .You should tell your doctor if you have or are being treated for or with:

o   HIV/AIDS

o   Steroids

o   Cancer

o   A low platelet count

o   Have received another vaccine within the past 4 weeks

o   A transfusion or received other blood products.

The outbreak has renewed debate over the so-called anti-vaccination movement in which fears about potential side effects of vaccines, fueled by now-debunked theories suggesting a link to autism, have led a small minority of parents to refuse to allow their children to be inoculated.

Schuchat called it "frustrating" that some Americans had opted out of the vaccine for non-medical reasons, saying it was crucial that they be given good information about the safety and reliability of inoculations.

There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within a few weeks. But in poor and malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia and even death.

The White House said on Friday that parents should be “listening to our public health officials,” who urge vaccinations against measles, as it emerged the disease has now infected more than 100 people in the U.S.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama thinks parents should ultimately make their own decision whether or not to vaccinate their children, Reuters reports, but added that the science clearly points to vaccinating.

“People should evaluate this for themselves with a bias toward good science and toward the advice of our public health professionals,” said Earnest.

Measles is preventable. We live in a country where the MMH vaccine is affordable and easy to get. We’re fortunate that way.

Children should get 2 doses of MMH vaccine. The first dose when they 12-15 months of age and the second dose 4-6 years of age. Some infants younger than 12 months can receive a dose if they are travelling outside the United States. Children between 1 and 12 years of age can get a "combination" vaccine called MMRV, which contains both MMR and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines.

If you have any concerns about the MMH vaccine, talk with your pediatrician or family doctor about its safety and effectiveness. If you received the MMH vaccine when you were a child, you might want to consider a booster shot.

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mmr.html

Dan Whitcomb, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/30/us-usa-measles-disneyland-idUSKBN0L302120150130

Mandy Oaklander, http://time.com/3691079/measles-vaccinations-white-house/

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 Child

Unhealthy TV Snack Ads Work on Preschoolers

1:30

Kids love snacks and advertisers count on that to sell products.  That’s why so many commercials on children’s TV shows promote snacks packed with sugar and salt. According to a new study, preschoolers who are exposed to these types of ads will eat more of those foods, even if they are not hungry.

The study, led by Jennifer Emond, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, involved a small study of 60 children, 2 to 5 years old. Emond’s team monitored the kids as they watched a 14-minute segment of “Sesame Street.”

The preschoolers got a filling snack before the show, so they were not hungry, and then had unlimited access to snacks during it.

Some of the children watched the "Sesame Street" segment without food commercials, while others watched the show with commercials for a popular salty snack. The ads depicted kids happily playing and eating the snack.

While viewing the segment, the children were provided with two snacks: corn snacks and graham snacks. The same corn snacks provided were featured in the food advertisements shown to some of the children.

The researchers found that the preschoolers who watched the segment embedded with food ads consumed more calories in snacks on average than those who watched the department store ads.

Additionally, the children who watched the food ads ended up eating more of the advertised corn snack than the graham snack -- even if they had never eaten the corn snack before and, therefore, were not familiar with it.

"That was surprising because it demonstrated the powerful effect food advertising can have on priming potentially unhealthy eating behaviors at a young age," Emond said.

The results of this small study replicate the findings of other studies with older children.

About 40% of all food and beverage ads that children and teens see on television are for unhealthy snacks, according to a 2015 report by the University of Connecticut's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity (PDF).

"Parents should not shrug off food marketing. These ads really do influence children," said Marlene Schwartz, director for the center and a professor of human development and family studies at the University of Connecticut, who was not involved in the new study.

"If the ads were for healthy foods, that would be an asset to parents, but when the ads are for unhealthy foods, they make parents' job harder," she said.

Story sources: Jacqueline Howard, http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/21/health/food-ads-kids-preschool/

https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/obesity-health-news-505/tv-snack-food-ads-get-preschoolers-snacking-more-study-shows-716956.html

Your Child

CDC Warning: Dangerous Pool Parasite

2:00

With temperatures in the high 80s and 90s, lots of families are cooling down with a swim in the pool. It’s pretty much become a summer tradition over the decades and can be a great way to have fun, exercise and beat the heat.

However, there is a parasite outbreak that parents should know about before allowing their children to swim in public, private or even their own pool.

The parasite is Cryptosporidium and it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps. You can become infected with cryptosporidium by touching anything that has come in contact with contaminated feces.

The parasite is encased in a tough shell and is not easily removed by typical pool treatments like chlorine or bromine. It can survive for several days after a pool treatment, whereas e-coli is typically eliminated within minutes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a warning about the dangers of Cryptosporidium in pools and hot tubs.

CDC's Healthy Swimming Program chief Michele Hlavsa said that the outbreaks commonly affect children.

"With these outbreaks, we see they disproportionately affect young children," Hlavasa said, "They're the ones who can go to a pool and young children tend to carry lots of germs."

The parasite can be cleared from the body in about two to three weeks, Hlavasa said, but in a person with a weakened immune system the condition may become chronic or even fatal.

Pool owners can help reduce the risk to their family and guests by insisting people shower before diving into the water, the CDC stated. This practice could assist in preventing the microorganism from contaminating hot tubs or pools. It is also a good idea for anyone experiencing diarrhea to stay out of pools, the national public health agency recommended. Parents of young children are advised to change diapers well away from pools, in order to prevent contamination of the water by human waste.

For families visiting public pools, the CDC recommends that parents look to see their pool's most recent inspection was posted through their local health department or even look into buying their own chlorine tests that can be used to test if the water is properly treated.

The CDC also provides several sets of tips to help prevent water-borne illnesses:

Keep the pee, poop, sweat, and germs out of the water!

•       Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.

•       Shower before you get in the water.

•       Don't pee or poop in the water.

•       Don't swallow the water.

Every hour—everyone out!

•       Take kids on bathroom breaks.

•       Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area—not poolside—to keep germs away from the pool.

•       Reapply sunscreen.

•       Drink plenty of fluids.

Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.

•       Pools: Proper free chlorine level (1–3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) levels maximize germ-killing power.

•       Hot tubs/spas: Proper disinfectant level (chlorine [2–4 parts per million or ppm] or bromine [4–6 ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) maximize germ-killing power.

•       Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips.

Enjoying the benefits of swimming is something that families everywhere will be taking advantage of this summer. Remember, we share the water—and the germs in it—with everyone. Take these few steps ahead of time to help make sure summer pool fun doesn’t turn into a summer illness.

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/features/healthyswimming/

Gillian Mohney, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/cdc-warns-pool-parasite-summer/story?id=32060444

 

 

 

Your Child

Depressed Children Benefit From Music Therapy

1:45

Can music therapy help young children and adolescents suffering from depression? A new study finds that allowing children to create their own music can help them recover from depression and low-self esteem.

In a study published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, scientists at Bournemouth University in England and Queen's University Belfast recruited 251 children between the ages of 8 and 16 years old. All the children were being treated for emotional, developmental or behavioral problems. The study included 128 children that received a typical treatment program, and 123 that received music therapy in addition to typical treatment. The research took place between March 2011 and May 2014.

Children assigned to the experimental group received the Alvin model of "free improvisation," which encouraged them to create their own music and sound using their voice, instrument, or movement while receiving encouragement. Instruments included guitars, keyboards, drums, and xylophones.

According to the authors, participants treated with the supplementary music therapy had significantly reduced depression and higher self-esteem than those who were treated with typical methods only. Children treated with music therapy also had improved communicative and interactive skills. Early findings indicate that the benefits are sustained in the long term.

"This study is hugely significant in terms of determining effective treatments for children and young people with behavioral problems and mental health needs," first author Sam Porter said in a press release. "The findings contained in our report should be considered by healthcare providers and commissioners when making decisions about the sort of care for young people that they wish to support."

It’s not surprising that creating music can help lift depression. All music is feeling. Composers, songwriters and instrumentalist use music to express all kinds of emotions from joy and excitement to grief and loneliness. Love, or the lack of it, is the most written about human experience. Rhythm and movement can give expression to deeply held convictions or emotions. Allowing children to express those emotions with music in a safe environment may help break the loop of insecurities and fears in their head.

"Music therapy has often been used with children and young people with particular mental health needs, but this is the first time its effectiveness has been shown by a definitive randomized controlled trail in a clinical setting," music therapy partner Ciara Reilly said. "The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option."

Going forward, researchers plan to evaluate how cost-effective music therapy is compared to more conventional methods.

Story sources: Ryan Maass, http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2016/11/03/Music-therapy-helps-children-with-depression-study-finds/8461478179665/

http://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/mood-disorders/music-therapy-reduces-depression-in-kids/article/379121/

Image courtesy of: https://tcmusicnewsandnotes.wordpress.com/page/22/

Parenting

Teaching Your Child Healthy Hair Care Habits

1:45

Teaching your child good hair care practices can help him or her maintain healthy and shiny locks throughout their life. It can also help prevent hair damage and skin conditions such as dandruff.

You’ve probably been washing your hair more years than you can remember by now, but there was a time when you had to learn what to do with shampoo and water.

If your child has reached the age where he or she can start washing their own hair, here are some tips to help them develop good hair care habits.

You’d be surprised how many kids think that washing their hair means just that – washing only their hair. Healthy skin and hair requires washing the scalp and the hair.

How often should your child wash his or her hair? The answer to that question depends on several factors. For example, during the summer, when kids are more likely to be playing outdoors or involved in sports, they may need to wash their hair as often as every other day. In the drier winter months when kids typically spend more time indoors, the schedule may be pushed back a day or two.

You also have to consider your child’s hair type. Does it tend to be dry or oily? Is it fine, curly, thick, thin or coarse? Different hair types require different care programs.

On an average, kids around 12 years old or who have started puberty and have fine, straight or thin hair, might need to shampoo as often as every other day. At this age, many kids are beginning to experience hormonal changes, causing their hair and scalp to be a little oilier.

For younger children, once or twice a week is sufficient – again, if they haven’t been doing something that would cause their hair to be excessively dirty.

For children with dry, curly or very coarse hair, washing their hair too often can be drying to the scalp and the hair. African American children often have at least a couple of these hair types. Washing their hair once a week or once every two weeks is sufficient if their hair isn’t too dirty. They may also benefit from using a moisturizing shampoo made especially for their hair type as well as a conditioner.

Healthy hair care begins with learning how to wash the hair without damaging it. When your child is ready to start shampooing, follow these steps to help your child develop healthy hair-care habits.

•       Wet hair and scalp with warm water. Shampoo works best on wet heads and hair.

•       Pour a quarter-size drop of shampoo in the palm of your child’s hand. Putting the shampoo in the hand first makes it easier to apply.

•       Tell your child to massage the shampoo gently into the scalp. When shampooing, it’s important to wash the scalp rather than the entire length of the hair. Washing only the hair often leads to flyaway hair that is dull and coarse. Rubbing shampoo into the hair can break hairs, leading to unhealthy looking hair.

•       Rinse well with warm water until the hair is suds-free. Rinsing well washes away shampoo and dirt.

•       Cover hair with a towel. Help your child wrap a towel around the wet hair. This helps to absorb the water. Rubbing hair dry with a towel can damage the hair, causing it to break.

•       Comb out damp hair gently. Use a wide-tooth comb, especially on curly hair. Don’t yank or pull the comb through the hair because that can pull out hair or break the hair.

•       Sometimes a de-tangling spray can help smooth out the hair and keep it from forming little tight knots.

To help kids develop good hair-care habits that help prevent hair damage, dermatologists give parents the following tips:

•       Make braids and ponytails loose and use covered rubber bands.

•       Consider styles that don’t require heat and chemical treatments.

•       When using heat on the hair, lower the heat.

•       Understand that chemicals in relaxers, dyes, and other hairstyling products often damage the hair. The longer the time between treatments, the better it is for your hair. 

•       After your child swims, make sure to wash away pool chemicals. If your child’s hair is normal to oily, shampooing works best. Children who have very dry or African American hair should rinse well and apply conditioner. Pool chemicals that are not washed away can damage hair.

•       Use a wide-tooth comb more often than a brush.

•       When outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the scalp and hair from the sun.

All hair needs to be treated gently, especially when it’s wet. Brushing or combing hair too frequently or in the wrong way (such as using a fine-toothed comb on very thick, curly hair or teasing hair) can lead to breakage. Hair extensions and braids can also cause breakage. Leaving them in too long or pulling them out without professional help can cause hair and scalp damage or even hair loss.

The condition of our hair can also tell us about our general health. Sometimes hair breakage and dry, brittle hair are signs of a medical problem, such as hypothyroidism or an eating disorder. If your child’s hair is breaking or falling out, even though he or she doesn’t treat it with chemicals or other styling products, tell your pediatrician.

Healthy hair doesn’t just happen; it’s the result of proper care and maintenance. Starting your child on healthy hair care habits early will most likely be how they think about and care for their scalp and hair the rest of their lives.

Story sources: https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/hair-care/healthy-hair-habits-for-kids

http://naturalhairkids.com/basic-regimen/

 

Your Child

Kids: Mouthguards For All Contact Sports

1:45

Youth sports participation has grown steadily over the years and so have injuries. The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety reports dental injuries as the most common type of face and mouth injury kids experience in sports related accidents.

A new report issued by dental experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says that mouthguards should be included in safety gear for all contact sports.  

Sports-related dental injuries send more than 600,000 people to the emergency room every year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Most of these injuries involve the front teeth, but the tongue and cheeks can also be hurt while playing sports, the UAB team said.

The best way to protect the mouth and teeth during sports is to wear a mouthguard, says Dr. Ken Tilashalski, associate dean for academic affairs at the UAB School of Dentistry. Mouthguards have been shown to reduce the risk of sports-related dental injury by 60 times, he said.

"Wearing a mouthguard reduces the chances of tooth fractures, tooth dislocations and soft tissue cuts," Tilashalski said in a university news release. "The guards also protect against jaw fractures and concussions by absorbing the energy of a traumatic blow to the chin."

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends wearing custom mouthguards for the following sports: acrobats, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling. Other experts include baseball and softball infielders on that list. They further recommend the mouthguard to be worn during all practices and competition.

There are basically three types of mouthguards to choose from:

·      Stock: These are preformed and ready to wear, but they may not fit well inside the mouth.

·      Boil and bite: These may be customized and molded to the mouth by softening in boiling water before biting down.

·      Custom-made: A dentist tailor-makes these mouthguards to fit an individual's mouth. These mouthguards provide the best fit and the highest level of protection.

"For my kids, I have chosen to use custom mouthguards as they fit and feel better, do not interfere with speech, and are essentially invisible," Tilashalski said. "Mouthguards need to be replaced as they wear down, and athletes in the tooth-forming years will have to have these replaced more often as the mouth grows and the teeth change."

These mouthguards vary in price and comfort, yet all provide some protection. According to the ADA, the most effective mouthguard should be comfortable, resistant to tearing, and resilient. A mouthguard should fit properly, be durable, easily cleaned, and not restrict speech or breathing.

After each use, rinse your mouthguard and store it in a hard container to prevent the buildup of germs, Tilashalski said. Players should also avoid chewing on their mouthguard to extend its life.

It is important to remember damaged teeth do not grow back. Protect your child’s teeth by making sure he or she wears a mouthguard during practice, competition or just out having fun in a sport where falls are common such as biking, skating and skateboarding.

Story sources: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/dental-and-oral-information-9/misc-dental-problem-news-174/mouthguards-key-defense-against-sports-related-injuries-716284.html

http://www.nationwidechildrens.org

Your Child

Promising New Peanut Allergy Patch

1:30

Peanut allergies can be life-threatening for some children, but a new “peanut patch” may be the solution their parents have been searching for.

The small skin patch – known as Viaskin® Peanut -is applied to the child’s skin and appears to offer safe and effective protection against this serious condition.

“This is exciting news for families who suffer with peanut allergies because Viaskin represents a new treatment option for patients and physicians,” study author Hugh A. Sampson, a doctor at Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai, said in a statement.

Based on the principle of epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT), the patch delivers small doses of peanut proteins when placed on patients’ skin.

The team of researchers completed a double blind, placebo-controlled randomized Phase IIb trial in which 221 individuals with peanut allergies underwent the therapy for a year.

The patch exposed patients to a small dose of peanut protein, ranging from 50 to 250 micrograms, for the course of the study.

The 250 µg peanut patch shows the most promise for researchers. “After one year of therapy, half of the patients treated with the 250 micrograms patch tolerated at least 1 gram of peanut protein – about four peanuts —which is 10 times the dose that they tolerated in their entry oral peanut challenge,” Sampson explained.

Compliance was greater than 95% and less than 1% of the participants dropped out of the study due to adverse symptoms. In fact, there were no serious adverse reactions related to the patch treatment.

Overall, children treated with the larger patch experienced a robust increase (19 fold) in peanut-specific IgG4 levels, the antibody associated with protection following immunotherapy.

“EPIT appears safe, well tolerated and effective. That’s good news for families who suffer from food allergies,” Sampson said.

While the results are promising, researchers will continue to follow the participants for another year. It could be several more years before the patch become available for consumers, but there is hope on the horizon.

Source: http://www.aaaai.org/about-the-aaaai/newsroom/news-releases/peanut-patch.aspx

Justin Worland, http://time.com/3718529/peanut-patch-allergy/

Your Child

Laser Pointers and Vision Loss

1:45

Laser pointers were once found primarily in schools, certain industries, entertainment venues and scientific labs. Today they are easily available over the Internet and have garnered the attention of kids and teens that use them as toys. They’ve also become a social media phenomenon as videos of people using them to tease or play with cats rack up likes and shares.

Low powered laser pointers have been considered basically safe for children to play with as long as warnings to avoid pointing the laser at someone’s head or eyes were followed. When operated unsafely, or without certain controls, the highly concentrated light from lasers—even those in toys—can be dangerous, causing serious eye injuries and even blindness. And not just to the person using a laser, but to anyone within range of the laser beam.

Typically, laser light injuries are not painful. Eye injuries may go unnoticed for days and even weeks, but could be permanent.

Some examples of laser toys are:

•       Lasers mounted on toy guns that can be used for "aiming;"

•       Spinning tops that project laser beams while they spin;

•       Hand-held lasers used during play as "light-sabers;" and

•       Lasers intended for entertainment that create optical effects in an open room.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), laser pointers fall into 4 classifications. The classifications categorize lasers according to their ability to produce damage in exposed people, from class 1 (no hazard during normal use) to class 4 (severe hazard for eyes and skin). There are two classification systems, the "old system" used before 2002, and the "revised system" being phased in since 2002.

Researchers recently documented 4 boys who suffered severe eye damage from a laser pointer. The authors report described two 12-year-olds, one nine-year-old and one 16-year-old who came to a medical center with central vision loss and "blind spots" within hours to days after looking into or playing with a green or red laser pointer.

In one case, the boy looked at the reflection of a laser pointer in a mirror. Two others simply pointed the lasers at themselves, and the fourth was engaged in a "laser war" with a friend.

"Long-term outcomes for these patients will be pretty mild vision loss," said senior author Dr. David R. P. Almeida of VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"Males may horse around with things more, or we just happened to have boys in our series," Almeida told Reuters Health by phone. Injuries could be just as likely for girls.

He advises parents to be careful about where they buy laser pointers, as some retailers may not list the power rating or may list it incorrectly, and to limit use for kids under 14.

Retinal tissue in the back of the eye leads to the brain, and it has no ability to regenerate after tissue loss, Almeida said.

"One patient developed bleeding and needed an injection in the eye," which can be particularly unpleasant for children, he said.

Kids may use laser pointers as long as they avoid improper use, Almeida said.

"Unsupervised use of these laser pointer devices among children should be discouraged, and there is a need for legislation to limit these devices in the pediatric population," he and his coauthors write.

There's no doubt that these products can open up a world of imagination - dragon slayer, cosmic explorer, super pirate, the list goes on. Handled correctly they can provide hours of fun - mishandled, hours in the emergency room. If your child has a laser pointer or toy, make sure he or she knows the rules and understands why being careful about where it is pointed is so important. 

Story sources: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/09/06/laser-pointers-can-cause-irreversible-vision-loss-for-kids.html

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm363908.htm

 

 

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