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Your Child

Kid’s ATV Safety Tips

2.00 to read

With the end of another school year and summer knocking at the front door lots of kids will be outside doing what kids do- playing. These are the months when a child's boredom level has a short fuse and they can easily be persuaded to ramp up a little danger and excitement when playing with friends.

ATVs (all terrain vehicles) can offer just such a challenge, along with dirt bikes, regular bikes and skateboards. All of the transportation apparatuses listed here can offer a lot of fun and excitement on long summer days. But, as a parent, you already know that they can also be quite dangerous when adults aren’t around to supervise activities. Of course, having an adult nearby is no guarantee that safety will prevail if they themselves aren’t acting responsibly. But let’s assume they are and they want their child to have fun and be safe.

Of all the activities listed above, ATVs bring their own particular set of safety concerns.  While you most likely won’t be present the entire time your child is riding his or her bike through the neighborhood, you should be present if your child is on a dirt bike or an ATV. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that ATVs continue to be the fourth most deadly product the CPSC oversees, with more than 700 ATV-related deaths per year.

CPSC notes that in 2011, ATV –related deaths decreased. However, the number of estimated injuries per year remains at more than 107,000, with an increase in estimated injuries to children younger than 16 years of age to 29,000. More than half of these injuries were suffered by children younger than 12.

There are some basic guidelines on ATV safety that every parent of a child who is going to be riding one of these vehicles needs to insist upon. This list is a compilation from CPSC’s website on ATV safety and ClassBrain.com.

- Do not allow children younger than 16 to drive or ride on adult ATVs. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that children under the age of 16 should not operate an ATV. This is especially important, since younger children are usually injured on ATVs due to their size or inexperience with operating vehicles. Even once a child is 16 and able to operate an ATV, adult supervision should be present at all times.

- Never allow a child younger than 6 on an ATV.  ATVs are simply too dangerous for children under the age of six. Allowing a child under the age of six to operate an ATV is illegal in some states.

- Choose an appropriate ATV size for your child. Your child may be larger than some other children his or her age, but that doesn’t mean they are more capable of controlling a larger than recommended ATV. Riding an ATV safely is not only a matter of size – but skill and strength as well as coordination and maturity. Kids, especially those with little or no prior experience, can easily panic if they find themselves engaged in an unfamiliar situation. A typical situation might be if they accidently open the throttle too much and the ATV takes off quickly. The heavier and more powerful the ATV- the more likely a serious or even fatal accident can occur.

- Most ATVs are designed for only one person.  Do not ride on a single-rider ATV as a passenger or carry a passenger if you are the driver. ATVs are designed for only one rider at a time. Since you have to manipulate your weight in order to control the vehicle, two riders on a vehicle is incredibly dangerous. Also, the ATV may be unable to successfully hold the combined weight of two riders, making it less stable and more apt to roll over. Finally, having an additional rider can distract the driver from the task of properly operating the vehicle.

- Always wear a helmet and protective gear when riding ATVs. Just like operating a motorcycle or bike, riding an ATV requires you use proper protective gear. ALWAYS wear a helmet. Most serious or fatal accidents occur when the rider is not wearing a helmet and falls on his or her head. A helmet may not be the most stylish accessory, but it can literally save your life. Also, since most riders operate ATVs in wooded environments, be sure to wear proper eye protection, as a rock, branch, or even a bug can fly into your eye and cause damage. Furthermore, be sure to wear boots and gloves to protect your hands and feet while operating the ATV.

- Do not drive ATVs on paved roads. When it comes to where to ride your ATV, ensure you choose a proper setting. Avoid roads and streets, since ATVs are not designed nor intended to be driven on concrete or asphalt with larger cars and trucks. Also, avoid improper terrain that may encourage the ATV to roll over due to instability in the ground.

- Take a hands-on safety-training course. This is especially important for young or first-time riders. Before you drive a car, you take a safety course, so why should driving an ATV be any different? Safety courses educate riders of the correct way to operate and ride an ATV to ensure he or she knows how to handle the vehicle. Also, safety courses will teach riders of all ages the appropriate behavior when riding an ATV, making it critical for teens and adults to attend.

- Avoid tricks and stunts on ATVs. There are thousands of YouTube videos showing kids and young adults using their ATVs as if they were performing in a circus. What they don’t show are the funerals and life-altering results of children who have lost control of their ATVs. These are heavy machines that can crush a head or a back in an instant. Young boys are particularly fond of showing off their skills and feel they are invincible. They are not.

There’s no turning back the sales of ATVs for young kids, that horse has left the barn.  Most of the time, kids will be ok and have a good time. As parents, you make the decision on whether your child will be riding one of these machines or not. Make sure your child is prepared as best they can be before he or she hops on board and turns the key.

Sources: http://www.cpsc.gov

Donna Somerkin, http://www.classbrain.com/artteenah/publish/atv_safety_tips.shtml

Your Child

Getting Ready for a New School Year!

2:00

As summer break begins to wind down, preparations for a new school year are gearing up.  Whether it’s the first day of school for your little one or your teen’s first year of college, making the transition from vacation to a daily schedule requires some pre-planning.

Typically, the most difficult changeover for everyone is getting used to a regulated bedtime routine. Getting enough sleep will help family members handle the switch better. I know that’s much easier said than done, but it's worth the effort. Now is a good time to start preparing for a new school year schedule.

As pediatrician, Dr. Sue Hubbard, has said previously in her kidsdr.com Daily Dose article, a couple of weeks before the start of a new school year is when families should start getting used to a new schedule.

“In order to try and minimize grouchy and tired children (and parents too) during those first days of school, going to bed on time will be a necessity. Working on re-adjusting betimes now will also make the transition from summer schedule to school schedule a little easier. If your children have been staying up later than usual, try pushing the bedtime back by 15 minutes each night and gradually shifting the bedtime to the “normal” hour. At the same time, especially for older children, you will need to awaken them a little earlier each day to re-set their clocks for early morning awakening,” Hubbard noted.

Another important detail to take care of before school begins is making sure your child is current on all immunizations. Each state has its own requirements and exemptions. In Texas for instance:

K-12 grades are required to have - the Tetanus/ Diphtheria/ Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, the Polio vaccine, Hepatitis B vaccine, and the varicella vaccine. K through 6th grade are also required to get the Hepatitis A vaccine and 7th through 12 grades, a meningococcal vaccine.

Also highly recommended, but not a state law requirement, is the Human Papillomavirus Vaccination (HPV) for boys and girls.

You can find out exactly what your state’s school immunization program is by logging onto http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/awardee-imz-websites.html and clicking on your state.

And lets not forget our college bound students! Universities have their own policies, but these vaccines and booster shots are highly recommended by physicians and most universities: Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY), Tdap, HPV vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine. Be sure to check with your child’s school to see what specific vaccines are required or suggested.

The first day of school for kindergarteners and / or first-graders can be unsettling for kids and parents. Here are a few ways you can help your child face the uncertainty:

·      Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. This may be at any age. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.

·      Point out the positive aspects of starting school.  She'll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.

·      Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your student can walk to school or ride on the bus.

·      If it is a new school for your child, attend any available orientations and take an opportunity to tour the school with your child before the first day.

·      If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or walk with him or her) to school and pick them up on the first day.

Nutrition is an important factor in children doing well in school. During the summer break kids often get off schedule with their eating habits. Start the early morning routine at least a week before school actually starts so that everyone has a chance to get used to having and preparing breakfast early.

Studies have shown that children who eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches are more alert throughout the school day and earn higher grades than those who have an unhealthy diet. 

Back-to-school- shopping, new schedule arrangements, homework time and space, immunizations, after-school sports and activities – they’re all part of a new school year.

One way to help keep everybody on track is with a calendar that is placed where everyone can see it and update it.

Here’s to a new school year that is full of learning, exciting experiences and good grades!

Source: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Back-to-School-Tips.aspx

 

Parenting

When Are Kids Ready For Chores?

2:30

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word “chore” is: A small job done regularly, or a dull, unpleasant, or difficult job or experience. I’d have to agree that household chores are oftentimes both. Whether we like them or not – someone has to do them.

Many parents end up doing all the chores around the house because it’s easier than trying to get their children to pitch in and help. By the time you explain to a child what needs to be done and how to do it- you could be finished with all the chores instead of just one.

While that may be appealing from a time management perspective, it doesn’t prepare children to be responsible adults. Self-reliance becomes more of a realistic goal for children when parents are willing to put the work into teaching them simple chores when they are young and expecting more when they are older.

Speaking of realistic, let’s not get all dreamy-eyed with visions of our little ones cheerfully picking up their toys and putting them away or making their beds before rushing off to school (at first.) But don’t despair; there are a few “tricks” that can make this experience a little easier.

Parenting expert Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic website, says we all need to feel needed and to know that we're making a contribution -- even kids. "But they can't feel that way if they don't have chores and make contributions to the family," Fay says.

Roger W. McIntire, University of Maryland psychology professor and author of Raising Good Kids in Tough Times, says, "A child has to have some responsibilities."

That’s all well and good – but how do you get your kids onboard?

Let’s start at the beginning with traps that can sabotage your progress:

Perfection: It’s not attainable – don’t expect it. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. What looks perfect to me may look like a mess to you.  If you want your children committed to doing their chores, a much more relaxed attitude will win them over. Parents that expect perfection typically give up on the teaching aspect, jump in and do the chore themselves. It’s really more of a reflection of the parent than the child’s ability to learn. So breathe, relax and know that it’s going to take time.

Criticism: Criticizing your child’s accomplishment goes hand in hand with expecting perfection. Too often parents focus on what wasn’t done instead of what was done. Don’t be stingy with praise for trying. Encourage your child while the chore is in progress. You want to build positive momentum, especially with young kids.

Inconsistency: You can’t expect your child to learn and want to participate if you’re not dedicated to and enthusiastic about the outcome. Being consistent in what you expect and when you expect it completed helps your child understand their responsibilities in the household. When parents give up, so do their kids. And guess who ends up doing all the chores?

So, we’ve established some pitfalls to avoid… what next?

The “Chores Chart” makes organization easier and tasks clear. 

"Create a list of every job it takes to keep a family going," Fay says. Have kids pick out the chores they'd most like to do. Then create a chart.

First, check that everyone has an age-appropriate chore. Then divide the chart into three columns. One is for the list of chores and whose chore it is; another is for deadlines; the last one is for making a check mark when the chore is done. Put the chart where everyone can see it and let everyone follow through on their own assignments.

Weekends may provide a bit more time to get some of the extra chores done such as laundry, mowing the grass, cleaning the car etc. You can create a “Weekend” chart separate from the daily chores. It may change from weekend to weekend depending on what needs to be done and who is available.

Should you pay your kids to do their chores? Ah, the age old question. There are lots of opinions on this one. You’ll have to decide whether a financial incentive pays off in your family. Some things to consider are, do you believe chores should be more about responsibility and learning household tasks without a monetary reward? Or is learning how to manage money considered a “household task” that needs to be accomplished?

Small children may be less motivated by an allowance and more motivated by positive attention. Older kids may like the idea of earning money that they can spend however they want. You might want to have a list of “extras” that are offered for an allowance.

At what age are children ready to start doing chores? It’s probably younger than you think.

In general, Pantley says, preschoolers can handle one or two simple one-step or two-step jobs. Older children can manage more. Here are her pointers on kids' chores by age:

Chores for children ages 2 to 3:

·      Put toys away

·      Fill pet's food dish

·      Put clothes in hamper

·      Wipe up spills

·      Dust

·      Pile books and magazines

Chores for children ages 4 to 5:

Any of the above chores, plus:

·      Make their bed

·      Empty wastebaskets

·      Bring in mail or newspaper

·      Clear table

·      Pull weeds, if you have a garden

·      Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs

·      Water flowers

·      Unload utensils from dishwasher

·      Wash plastic dishes at sink

·      Fix bowl of cereal

Chores for children ages 6 to 7:

Any of the above chores, plus:

·      Sort laundry

·      Sweep floors

·      Set and clear table

·      Help make and pack lunch

·      Weed and rake leaves

·      Keep bedroom tidy

Chores for children ages 8 to 9:

Any of the above chores, plus:

·      Load dishwasher

·      Put away groceries

·      Vacuum

·      Help make dinner

·      Make own snacks

·      Wash table after meals

·      Put away own laundry

·      Sew buttons

·      Make own breakfast

·      Peel vegetables

·      Cook simple foods, such as toast

·      Mop floor

·      Take pet for a walk

Chores for children ages 10 and older:

Any of the above chores, plus:

·      Unload dishwasher

·      Fold laundry

·      Clean bathroom

·      Wash windows

·      Wash car

·      Cook simple meal with supervision

·      Iron clothes

·      Do laundry

·      Baby-sit younger siblings (with adult in the home)

·      Clean kitchen

·      Change their bed sheets

From this list, you can see there are a variety of chores that a child can help with or learn to do.  As I go through each one, I think about how many of these tasks I could do when I was ready to head off into the world as a young adult. Who knew you could actually do your own laundry?

Source: Annie Stuart, Roy Benaroch, MD, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guest-expert-10/chores-for-children?print=true

Your Child

Is Sleepwalking Inherited?

1:45

If you walk in your sleep, there’s a good chance that your child may do the same.

A recent Canadian study found that children of two sleepwalking parents have more than a 60 percent chance of developing the same condition.  For children of one sleepwalking parent, the odds were about 47 percent they too would be sleepwalkers.

"These findings point to a strong genetic influence on sleepwalking and, to a lesser degree, sleep terrors," the Canadian study authors wrote. "Parents who have been sleepwalkers in the past, particularly in cases where both parents have been sleepwalkers, can expect their children to sleepwalk and thus should prepare adequately."

It’s not uncommon for children to walk in their sleep when they are young, but they typically stop by the time they reach adolescents.  It usually happens when someone is going from the deep stage of sleep to the lighter stage. The sleepwalker can't respond during the event and usually doesn't remember it. In some cases, he may talk and not make sense. Sleepwalking can also start later in life according to researchers.

Sleep terrors are another condition that typically affects only children. They can be very disturbing for a parent to witness. A child may scream out during sleep and is intensely fearful.

In the new study, Dr. Jacques Montplaisir, of Hospital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal, and colleagues examined connections between these conditions in parents and adults. They looked at almost 2,000 kids born in Quebec from 1997 to 1998.

The researchers found that 56 percent of the children (aged 1.5 to 13 years) had sleep terrors. Younger children were more likely to have sleep terrors, the study noted. Sleepwalking, meanwhile, affected 29 percent of kids aged 2.5 to 13 years. Sleepwalking was less common in the youngest kids, according to the study.

The odds of sleepwalking grew, depending on whether one or both parents were sleepwalkers. Only 23 percent of kids whose parents didn't sleepwalk developed the disorder.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is no specific treatment for sleepwalking.  Creating a safe sleep environment is critical to preventing injury during sleepwalking episodes. For example, if your child sleepwalks, don’t let him or her sleep in a bunk bed. Also, remove any sharp or breakable objects from the area near the bed, install gates on stairways, and lock the doors and windows in your home.

The study was published in the May edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

Sources: Randy Dotinga, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20150504/sleepwalking-parents-likely-to-have-sleepwalking-kids

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/abnormal-sleep-behaviors/sleepwalking

 

 

 

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 Child

Recess Is Important for Kids

1.45 to read

Add recess to reading, writing and arithmetic says a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.)  The pediatricians believe that recess can be as important to a child’s overall development as standard classes and should never be denied, especially as a punishment.

"We consider it essentially the child's personal time and don't feel it should be taken away for academic or punitive reasons," said Dr. Robert Murray, who co-authored the new policy statement for the AAP.

According to the authors, recess is a “crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.”

Other reasons given for the importance of recess are that it helps students develop better communication skills, counteracts the time sitting in classrooms, and may foster skills such as cooperation and sharing - all good things.

The authors noted that previous research has found that children are able to pay closer attention and perform tasks better after a recess break.  A year ago, 14 studies were reviewed and researchers found that kids who get more exercise do better in school. Recess and sports related activities offer children the opportunity to exercise and burn off excess energy.  They also get a chance to recharge their brains and bodies.

Other organizations have recommended that children need recess as well. The American Heart Association and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CPSC) both call for schools to offer recess to kids.  You might think that recess in schools is a given, but in a 2011 survey of 1,800 elementary schools, researchers discovered that a third of the schools did not offer recess to their third-graders.  However, most schools do offer recess of between 15 and 30 minutes once or twice a day.

Is there a particular time of day that helps kids most?  Before lunch seems to be the consensus from government agencies, CPSC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Previous studies have found that children waste less food and behave better for the rest of the day when their recess is before their scheduled lunch, the pediatricians' statement notes.

They also agree that PE should not be substituted for recess. "Those are completely different things and they offer completely different outcomes," said Murray. "(Physical education teachers are) trying to teach motor skills and the ability of those children to use those skills in a bunch of different scenarios. Recess is a child's free time."

Free time means no structured activities by adults such as games. "I think it becomes structured to the point where you lose some of those developmental and social emotion benefits of free play," said Murray.

"This is a very important and overlooked time of day for the child and we should not lose sight of the fact that it has very important benefits," he added.

I remember recess fondly.  A group of friends would gather and run from one end of the schoolyard to the other at full gallop. The first one back would win the honor of becoming the “lead horse.” Yes, in our recess fantasy we were a heard of horses – whinnying and throwing our heads around (showing off our glorious manes.)

It was fun and exhilarating as we trotted around strutting our stuff.

Recess isn’t only important because it breaks up the monotony of sitting, studying and listening, it can also spark the imagination!

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/pediatricians-kids-recess-during-school-0547374

Your Child

Bowlegs and Knock-Knees in Kids

2:00

Parents may be concerned when they notice their toddler seems to be bowlegged or knock-kneed. Typically, there’s nothing to worry about, it’s just part of his or her growth development.

The medical term is genu valgum, but the condition is more commonly called bow-legged or knock-kneed. It usually becomes noticeable when a child is 2 to 3 years old, and it may increase in severity until about age 4. It usually self-corrects by the time a child is about 7 or 8 years old. But if the condition doesn’t appear until a child is 6 or older, it could be a sign that there is an underlying bone disease.

During early childhood, knock-knees actually help a child to maintain balance, particularly when the child begins to walk, or if the foot rolls inward or turns outward. When a child has knock-knees, both knees usually lean inward symmetrically. One knee, however, may "knock" less than the other or may even remain straight.

Sometimes, the condition will persist into the teen years. It’s also more common in girls, although boys can develop it too.

Knock knees are usually part of the normal growth and development of the lower extremities. In some cases, it may be a sign of an underlying bone disease, such as Osteomalacia or rickets.

Obesity can contribute to knock knees—or can cause walking problems that resemble, but aren’t actually, knock-knees. The condition can occasionally result from an injury to the growth area of the shinbone (tibia), which may result in just one knocked knee.

Typically, a child’s legs will straighten naturally by the teen years. Bracing, corrective shoes, and exercise are rarely helpful, and may hinder a child’s physical development and cause unnecessary emotional stress, when the child is very young. Rarely, bowlegs or knock-knees are the result of a disease. Arthritis, injury to the growth plate around the knee, infection, tumor, Blount’s disease (a growth disorder of the shinbone), and rickets all can cause changes in the curvature of the legs. 

There are signs to look for that may indicate that a child’s bowlegs or knock-knees are caused by a more serious medical problem:

·      The curvature is extreme.

·      Only one side is affected.

·      The bowlegs get worse after two years of age.

·      The knock-knees persist after seven years of age.

·      Your child is unusually short for his or her age.

·      There is pain in the knees or in the feet, hips or ankles.

·      Stiff joints.

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, your pediatrician should examine him or her.

The good news is that most cases of knock-knees or bowlegs will resolve before a child reaches adolescence. However, if it doesn’t and is left untreated, it can lead to further health problems with joints and muscles, including osteoporosis.

Treatment will depend on the cause and the severity. If there is an underlying disease present, medications and supplements may help resolve the condition. A physical therapist may be able to offer some simple exercises and stretches that help strengthen the muscles and realign the knees. Weight loss is recommended when obesity is a contributing factor. Extra weight puts additional strain on the legs and knees, which can cause knock-knees to worsen. Surgery is the last line of treatment but is typically only recommended in very severe cases.

Children’s health experts suggests that parents not panic if their little one has knock-knees, but that they keep an eye on the condition and see if it goes away as the child gets older. At times, children may not have straight lower legs until they are nine or ten years old.

Story sources: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/orthopedic/Pages/Bowlegs-and-Knock-Knees.aspx

Jenna Fletcher, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319894.php

 

 

Your Child

Young Baseball Pitchers Playing With Pain

2:00

It’s that glorious time of year when pitchers pitch; batters swing and outfielders reach out to catch a fast and furious white leather-bound ball. Yep, it’s baseball season!

While the pros start their 162 game regular season, school teams and Little Leagues are suiting up and hitting the fields as well.

Although typically in good physical shape, professional players are not immune to injuries – just ask the Texas Rangers.

Kids on the other hand, play long and sometimes double games at tournaments on the weekends. Many of these kids are weekend warriors that love the game, but aren’t always in the best physical condition.

According to a pair of recent studies, young baseball pitchers are playing with arm and shoulder pain because they feel pressured by their parents or coaches. Playing through the pain may lead to injuries that won’t heal.

"Kids are playing harder and longer in more leagues than ever before," said Dr. Paul Saluan, director of pediatric and adolescent sports medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "Kids also are not getting enough rest in between episodes of pitching, which may lead to insufficient time to heal smaller stress injuries. Over time, these smaller injuries add up."

Kids explained why they kept playing even though they were in pain.  "Players who experience pain often felt their parents and coaches were frustrated with them," said Dr. Christopher Ahmad, professor of orthopedic surgery at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

"Throwing with pain is a signal that injury is occurring," added Ahmad, who is the New York Yankees' head team physician.

In Ahmad's study, he and his colleagues surveyed 203 healthy players, aged 8 to 18. Just under one-quarter of them had experienced a prior overuse injury, they found.

Almost half of the players -- 46 percent -- said they had been encouraged to continue playing with arm pain, and 30 percent said their arm pain sometimes made playing less fun.

Those most likely to report being encouraged to play despite pain had a previous overuse injury. They were also more likely to report feeling arm pain while throwing and to experience arm fatigue during games or practice.

The second study looked at whether parents were monitoring their child’s pitch count during a game. Sixty parents of baseball pitchers were surveyed and just over half of the parents were not aware of safe pitching guidelines and did not actively monitor their child's pitch count.

The most important aspects of safe pitching guidelines are a maximum number of recommended throws based on a child's age and the number of days of rest needed between throwing stints, said Saluan.

"The focus has been on creating a better athlete who can throw harder, faster and more accurately than ever before," Saluan said. "Injury prevention has taken a back seat."

One in five parents did not know how many pitches their child threw in a typical game, but 64 percent recalled that their child had experienced pain in the upper extremities because of pitching, the survey found. For one-third of the pitchers, the pain required a medical evaluation.

"Kids who continue to pitch through pain end up with significant injuries that may have lifelong consequences," Saluan said. "Younger pitchers who are still growing are much more vulnerable than adults to sustain an injury to the growth plates around the shoulder and elbow.”

Injuries to the growth plates usually heal with rest, Ahmad said. But he noted that more young pitchers are also damaging their ulnar collateral ligament, an important ligament in the elbow.

"Unfortunately, these injuries do not always heal and often require surgery," he said.

Most of the injuries are caused when kids are playing too many games, specializing in one aspect of the game, using poor pitching mechanics and throwing too hard.

In the pitching study, half the young pitchers threw in at least two leagues at a time, one-quarter pitched more than nine months of the year, and just over half participated in extra showcase situations.

"We have fallen into the trap of 'too much too soon,'" said Saluan. "This has resulted in a rise in injury rates in kids whose bodies are not prepared to handle the stresses that are encountered."

If you’re unsure of how to monitor your child’s pitching, the Major League Baseball website has a “Pitch Smart” guidelines page for young and adolescent pitchers listed at the end of this article.

The studies were presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' annual meeting in Las Vegas. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Sources: Tara Haelle, http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/baseball-or-softball-health-news-240/young-pitchers-often-pressured-to-play-despite-pain-study-says-697197.html

http://m.mlb.com/pitchsmart/pitching-guidelines

Your Child

Melatonin May Help Kids with Eczema Sleep Better

2:00

Eczema is a common skin disease that affects as many as 30 percent of all kids.  It’s an itchy red rash that often causes continuous scratching. Numerous children with eczema have trouble sleeping through the night. A new study suggests that over-the-counter melatonin may help them sleep longer and better.

These sleep problems can be difficult to treat in these children, said Dr. Yung-Sen Chang, an attending physician in pediatrics at Taipei City Hospital Renai Branch in Taiwan. Antihistamines can stop working after a few days, and tranquilizers have potentially serious side effects, Chang said.

But giving children melatonin, his study found, "is safe and effective for helping children with atopic dermatitis fall asleep faster."

The link between the skin condition and insufficient sleep "has an impact on people with eczema at all ages," said Dr. Lawrence Eichenfield, chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at the University of California, San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital.

According to Eichenfield, it's generally established that it’s the itching that keeps people with eczema from getting enough sleep. However, Chang said that may not be the case.

Chang and colleagues discovered that patients with eczema, that had difficulty sleeping, had low levels of nocturnal melatonin. That intrigued Chang and inspired the new study.

"Melatonin is a natural human hormone with minimal adverse effects," Chang said, "so it seemed like a good choice for children."

The study was small and involved 48 children, about 22 months to 18 years old, who had eczema. The children received treatment with either an inactive placebo or a 3-milligram daily dose of melatonin at bedtime for four weeks. Thirty-eight participants then took the alternate treatment (melatonin or placebo) for another four weeks.

When the children took melatonin, the severity of eczema dipped slightly, possibly because melatonin's anti-inflammatory effect improved the skin condition, Chang said.

Also, kids taking melatonin fell asleep about 21 minutes sooner than kids taking the placebo, the findings showed.

Total nightly sleep rose by 10 minutes on average (from 380 to 390 minutes, or 6.5 hours total) in the melatonin group, while it fell by 20 minutes among those who took a placebo, according to the report.

The participants did not report any side effects. Melatonin supplements are inexpensive in the U.S.- typically under 9 cents a pill from one major supplier.

Eichenfield, who wasn't involved in the research, said the study appears to be well-designed. Melatonin hasn't been studied much as a sleep treatment for kids, he cautioned.

While Eichenfield said melatonin may turn out to be helpful, he said there are a broad set of other tools available to treat eczema and minimize its effect on children. He suggested tackling the skin condition first to try to mitigate the sleep issues.

Chang recommended that parents talk to their child's doctor before starting melatonin. As for adults, melatonin may help them, too. But more studies are needed, Chang said.

The study was published in a November online edition of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Source: Randy Dotinga, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20151124/melatonin-might-help-sleepless-kids-with-eczema-study-finds

 

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