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Your Child

Lawn Mower Safety Rules Haven’t Prevented Kid's Injuries

2:00

Spring, summer and fall are the times of year when you are most likely to hear the monotonous hum of mower blades echoing throughout neighborhoods.

It’s often the first job a young boy or girl acquires to earn a little extra money, but lawn mowing can come with high risk of injuries when kids and parents don’t follow some simple guidelines.

Despite recommendations presented by AAP, the incidence of lawn mower-related injuries in children has remained unchanged over the last two to three decades.

From 2004-’13, an average of 9,351 youths ages 20 years and younger suffered lawn mower-related injuries each year, according to a review of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

About one-third of the wounds occurred in children younger than 12. Two age groups sustained the most injuries, 3 years old and 16 years old and predominately male.

Areas of the body most commonly injured involved hand/fingers ((30%), lower extremity (17%) and face/eye (14%). Amputations and fractures combined accounted for 12.5% of injuries and were more likely to require hospitalization.

Although the incidence of injuries caused by ride-on mowers was 2.5 times higher than those caused by walk-behind mowers, the type of mower was not specified in over 70% of cases, making a true determination of relative risk nearly impossible.   

While fractures and amputations are the most dramatic injuries, they certainly are not the only ones reported. An analysis of NEISS data from 1990-2004 showed the majority of lawn mower injuries were cuts, other soft-tissue injuries and burns.

Also reported in the study were foreign body injuries. It’s hard to imagine, but the rotation of the blades on a typical 26-inch riding lawn mower is similar to the energy required to fire a bullet through the engine block of an automobile, according to the authors. The force certainly is enough to impale objects into a child’s body, even from a good distance away.  

The AAP warns that kids and parents should be aware of the precautions one should take before and during mowing to keep everyone safer.

Here are some mower-safety tips from the AAP:

•       Before learning how to mow the lawn, your child should show the maturity, good judgment, strength and coordination that the job requires. Kids should be at least 12 years of age to operate a walk-behind power mower or hand mower safely and 16 years of age to operate a riding lawn mower safely.

•       Children should be supervised until you are sure he or she can handle the job alone.

•       Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles, close-fitting clothes, safety goggles or glasses with side shields, and hearing protection.

•       Watch for objects that could be picked up and thrown by the mower blades, as well as hidden dangers. Tall grass can hide objects, holes or bumps. Use caution when approaching corners, trees or anything that might block your view.

•       If the mower strikes an object, stop, turn the mower off, and inspect the mower. If it is damaged, do not use it until it has been repaired.

•       Do not pull the mower backwards or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.

•       Use extra caution when mowing a slope.

•       When a walk-behind mower is used, mow across the face of slopes, not up and down, to avoid slipping under the mower and into the blades.

•       With a riding mower, mow up and down slopes, not across, to avoid tipping over.

•       Keep in mind that lawn trimmers also can throw objects at high speed.

•       Remain aware of where children are and do not allow them near the area where you are working. Children tend to be attracted to mowers in use.

Stop the engine and allow it to cool before refueling. Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before:

•       Crossing gravel paths, roads or other areas

•       Removing the grass catcher

•       Unclogging the discharge chute

•       Walking away from the mower

Some of the most heartbreaking accidents occur when small children – even infants- are allowed to “ride along” while their parents or grandparents are using a riding mower or small tractor.  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics show that each year, 800 children are run over by riding mowers or small tractors and more than 600 of those incidents result in amputation; 75 people are killed, and 20,000 injured; one in five deaths involves a child. For children under age 10, major limb loss is most commonly caused by lawn mowers. Never allow a child on a lawn mower or small tractor while you’re using it.

Mowing can be fun, a good source of income for adolescents and a help to families; so make sure to give an ounce of prevention to avoid having to receive a pound of cure.  

Story sources: http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/08/11/LawnMowers081116

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Lawnmower-Safety.aspx

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

Exercise: Reducing Depression - Behavioral Problems in Kids

2:00

Two new studies examined whether kids that have serious behavioral disorders or who may be at a higher risk for depression might benefit from exercise. The results showed positive outcomes for both sets of children participating in the studies.

For one study, researchers focused on children and teenagers with conditions that included autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.

They looked at whether structured exercise during the school day -- in the form of stationary "cybercycles" -- could help ease students' behavioral issues in the classroom. Cybercycles are stationary bikes equipped with virtual reality exercising games.

Over a period of seven weeks, the study found it did. Kids were about one-third to 50 percent less likely to act out in class, compared to a seven-week period when they took standard gym classes.

Lead researcher, April Bowling, said the results were meaningful.

"On days that the students biked, they were less likely to be taken out of the classroom for unacceptable behavior," said Bowling, who is now an assistant professor of health sciences at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass.

"That's important for their learning, and for their relationships with their teachers and other kids in class," she said.

The study was done at a school that enrolls kids with behavioral health disorders, many of whom also have learning disabilities. Their usual gym classes focused mainly on skill building, with only short bursts of aerobic activity at most, according to the researchers.

For seven weeks, 103 students used the stationary bikes during their usual gym class -- twice a week, for 30 to 40 minutes. Their classroom behavior was tracked and compared with a seven-week period without the bikes, when they had gym class as usual.

Overall, the study found, the students were better able to control their behavior in the classroom during the stationary-bike trial.

Another recent study from Norway, adds more evidence to the benefits of exercise in children. Researchers from Norwegian University of Science and Technology measured activity levels in 800 six year olds who were asked about their exercise habits and any depressive symptoms. Follow ups were recorded at 8 and 10 years of age. Overall, children who exercised more, at a moderate to vigorous intensity, showed fewer depressive symptoms years later.

While the researchers noted that exercise alone isn’t a cure for depression, it has been shown to alleviate some depression symptoms.

“I think that physicians, parents and policy makers should facilitate physical activity among children,” says Tonje Zahl, the study’s lead author. “The focus should be on physical activity not just for the here and now benefits, such as improving blood pressure, heart rate and other physical benefits, but for the mental health benefits over the long term,” she says. All children should be targeted for this, she adds.

Experts say there are several theories as to why exercise may help kids control their behaviors. Bowling suggests that exercise may redirect the brain away from worrying.

Another theory is that exercise affects neurotransmitters -- chemical messengers in the brain that help regulate mood and behavior.

Bowling notes that it’s unfortunate that many schools are focusing so much on academics that they are cutting out gym and recess.

"If we really want our kids to do well, they need more movement during the school day, not less", she said

If children are unable to get the exercise they need at school, there’s always active playtime, walking and sports after school that can help provide some of the same benefits.

Both studies were published in the online journal, Pediatrics.

Story source: Amy Norton, http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/news/20170109/exercise-an-antidote-for-behavioral-issues-in-students#1

Alice Park, http://time.com/4624768/exercise-depression-kids/

 

 

Your Child

Stuttering and Kids

1:45

Does your child stutter? If so, he or she is not alone. More than 70 million people worldwide stutter.  Many famous people have been stutters such as musician and singer, Ann Wilson, from the band Heart, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and actor and orator James Earl Jones, to name just a few.

Stuttering is a common communication disorder that affects more boys than girls. No one knows the exact cause of stuttering, but there are four factors that most likely contribute:

  • Genetics: About 60 percent of those that stutter have a family member that stutters.
  • Neurophysiology: People that stutter may process speech and language slightly differently than those who do not stutter.  Stroke, head trauma or any other type of brain injury can also contribute to stuttering.
  • Child development: Developmental stuttering occurs in young children while they are still learning speech and language skills. It is the most common form of stuttering. Some scientists and clinicians believe that developmental stuttering occurs when children’s speech and language abilities are unable to meet the child’s verbal demands.
  • Family dynamics: Pressure, tension, fast paced lifestyles and stress within the family unit can make it difficult for a child to communicate.

There’s no miracle cure for stuttering but there are therapies that, over time, can help children and teens make significant progress towards fluency.

It’s important to remember that it’s normal for kids to stutter occasionally.

A child may stutter for a few weeks or several months, and the stuttering may be sporadic. Most kids, who begin stuttering before the age of 5, stop without any need for interventions such as speech or language therapy.

If your child is 5-years-old and still stuttering, you might want to have him or her tested by a speech pathologist or you can talk with your pediatrician for more information.

Kidshealth.org offers these tips for parents looking to help to help their child. How you communicate with your child when they stutter can have an important impact on how they see themselves.

  • Don't require your child to speak precisely or correctly at all times. Allow talking to be fun and enjoyable.
  • Use family meals as a conversation time. Avoid distractions such as radio or TV.
  • Avoid corrections or criticisms such as "slow down," "take your time," or "take a deep breath." These comments, however well intentioned, will only make your child feel more self-conscious.
  • Avoid having your child speak or read aloud when uncomfortable or when the stuttering increases. Instead, during these times encourage activities that do not require a lot of talking.
  • Don't interrupt your child or tell him or her to start over.
  • Don't tell your child to think before speaking.
  • Provide a calm atmosphere in the home. Try to slow down the pace of family life.
  • Speak slowly and clearly when talking to your child or others in his or her presence.
  • Maintain natural eye contact with your child. Try not to look away or show signs of being upset.
  • Let your child speak for himself or herself and to finish thoughts and sentences. Pause before responding to your child's questions or comments.
  • Talk slowly to your child. This takes practice! Modeling a slow rate of speech will help with your child's fluency.

Many successful adults were stutterers when they were young, some - even into adulthood. However, they have persevered and with the support of others and therapies, have brought their stuttering under control. If your child stutters, it doesn’t mean they have a lifetime disability; many children grow out of stuttering. If you’re concerned about your child, talk with your pediatrician or family physician.

Story sources: http://www.stutteringhelp.org

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/stutter.html#

 

Your Toddler

Uncut Grapes Can Choke Young Children

1:30

While good nutrition involves plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, there’s one fruit that should not be given to children 5 and under; grapes.

Uncut grapes are dangerous for young children because their size and smooth texture can cause choking and even death.

There have already been three choking cases in Scotland, out of which two turned out to be fatal, involving boys who were 5 or younger.

A report published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood notes that food is responsible for more than half of the choking incidents, which end in deaths when it comes to children under the age of 5.

"There is general awareness of the need to supervise young children when they are eating ... but knowledge of the dangers posed by grapes and other similar foods is not widespread," noted Dr. Jamie Cooper, co-author of the report, from the emergency department at Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital.

According to the same report, there is no awareness concerning the specific risks that soft fruits raise, and the relatively small numbers of cases per hospital, which occur every year, don't fully reflect the extent to which this issue can affect young children.

Kids that have choked on grapes don’t often make the news, but according to research conducted in the United States and Canada, grapes occupy third place when it comes to deaths caused by food-related incidents, after hotdogs and sweets.

There are two reasons why grapes are so dangerous, especially in very young children: first, because the airways of the children are small and their swallow reflex is not fully developed, and second due to the smooth texture of the fruit.

Other foods with similar texture can pose a choking hazard, such as tomatoes.  Health experts suggest that grapes and tomatoes be cut in half twice. Anytime a child (or an adult for that matter) is eating uncut grapes or small tomatoes they should pay attention to their eating and not mechanically pop them into their mouths – like when watching TV or playing video games.

Grapes and tomatoes are good sources of fiber and healthy nutrients, just make sure that your little one has his or hers’ cut up so they are not easily choked when eating them.

Story source: Livia Rusu, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/189851/20161224/grapes-as-a-choking-hazard-doctors-say-lack-of-awareness-puts-young-children-at-risk.htm

 

 

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

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

Happy Halloween! Make it a Safe One.

1:45

It’s that time of year– goblins, ghouls, pirates and princesses will be making their way through neighborhoods with outstretched hands and shy giggles.  Yep, Halloween is here!

Along with the kid’s fun comes parental responsibility. While you can’t protect your little one from every danger, there are steps you can take to help make this holiday safer.

Preventing fires and burns.

•       Select flame retardant materials when buying or making costumes.

•       Choose battery-operated candles and lights instead of open-flame candles.

Make sure your child can see and be seen!

•       Trim costumes or clothing with reflective tape. Many costumes are dark in color and can’t easily be seen by car drivers.

•       Give your child a small flashlight or glow stick to carry with them if they are trick- or- treating after dusk.

The “Great Pumpkin” carving

Carving pumpkins is traditional in many families and while the results can be stunning, great care needs to be taken when children are involved. 

•       Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.

·      Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.

·      Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

Make sure your child’s costume fits properly.

Store bought costumes rarely fit properly, so you may need to make some adjustments.

•       Adjust costumes to ensure a good fit. Long skirts or capes can drag on the ground and cause falls.

•       Secure hats, scarves and masks to ensure that your child can see everything that is going on around them. Also, check to see that nothing is keeping your child from breathing properly. Masks and some super-hero helmets can fir too tightly, making it hard to breathe.

•       Make sure that swords, canes or sticks are not sharp.

Never let your child wear colored contacts.

Colored contacts have become popular with some older children. Often the packets these contacts come in have advertising on the package claiming that, “One size fits all.” They don’t.  These lenses are illegal in some states, but can be found online. They may cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye infections. Avoid these at all costs.

Make your home a safe place for trick or treaters

•       To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.

•       Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.

•       Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.

•       Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

How old should children be before they can be unaccompanied by an adult? There is no correct answer to that question. An adult should always accompany young children. When your child is about ten, they may start asking to go with their friends. There are some questions to think about before you decide to let them.

•       What is your child’s maturity level? Do they normally act pretty responsible and make good choices?

•       Who are the friends they want to go with and what is their maturity level?

•       What area are they going to be trick-or-treating in?  Will it be local or in an area your child may not be familiar with?

•       What time to they plan to start and be back home? Give your child a definite time.

Whether your child is with you - or out with friends - make sure someone has a charged cell phone with them.  You want be prepared in case of an emergency.

Halloween has changed over the years and lots of parents now take their children to specific places that host Halloween parties and activities, but whether it’s in a controlled environment or out on the streets, it’s still smart to keep safety first.

Sources: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/Halloween-Safety-Tips.aspx

 Dr. Karen Sherman, http://www.hitchedmag.com/article.php?id=365

Image: http://halloweenpictures2015z.org/halloween-image.html

 

Your Child

Tips for Preventing Sports Injuries

1:30

The school year is about to wind down and it won’t be long before many kids will be signing up for summer sports programs.

If you’re child loves sports, there’s not a season where he or she can’t find one to participate in. Sports often help children stay in better physical shape, feel good about them selves and with team sports, enjoy social interaction and competition.

However, all sports have a certain amount of risks associated with them - some more than others. The more contact the sport provides, the greater the risk for a traumatic injury. Fortunately, traumatic injuries are rare and most sport injuries to young athletes are due to overuse.

The most common sport-related injuries are sprains (ligament injuries) , stress fractures( bone injuries)  and strains (muscle injuries).Since children’s bodies are still developing, any tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if there is minimal swelling or limitation in motion.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips to help reduce serious injuries in younger athletes:

•       Time off. Plan to have at least 1 day off per week from a particular sport to allow the body to recover. 

•       Wear the right gear.  Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will always protect them when performing more dangerous or risky activities.

•       Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises during practice strengthens muscles used in play. 

•       Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises before and after games or practice can increase flexibility. Stretching should also be incorporated into a daily fitness plan.

•       Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season. 

•       Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.  

•       Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), and spearing (football) should be enforced. 

•       Stop the activity if there is pain.

•       Avoid heat injury by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing. 

While physical injuries are easier to see, sports-related emotional stress can also cause problems for some children. The pressure to win at all costs can add a lot of emotional stress to children who are more interested in playing than always being first.

Not every team is going to win every game, and there will be times when kids involved in more singular sports won’t have a good day. It happens to everyone at some time or another; ask any pro athlete. Young athletes should be judged on effort, sportsmanship and hard work. They should be rewarded for trying hard and for improving their skills rather than punished or criticized for losing a game or competition.  The main goal should be to have fun and learn lifelong physical activity skills.

There are numerous sports that children can engage in and each one offers its own benefits. As parents, it’s important to encourage our children and keep them as healthy as possible.

Source: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Tips-for-Sports-Injury-Prevention.aspx

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