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Your Child

Your Kindergartener’s First Day at School

2:00

Whether it’s your little one’s first time, or your child is a seasoned pro, the first day of school brings both excitement and apprehension. It’s not only kids who are slightly hyperventilating… parents are too. Why? Because school is a big deal!

Let’s start with Kindergarten. It doesn’t get much cuter than to see the excitement on a kindergartner’s face on the first day of school.  Between experiencing a certain amount of separation anxiety and their first taste of independence, these little ones are spinning in multiple directions. That’s one reason mom or dad needs to keep their cool - you can cry in the car on the way home.

Some schools offer parents and children a “get to know your school” pre-school visit. If you and your child have the opportunity to visit the school in advance – take it!

The more familiar your child is with the school, the better at calming his or her anxieties on the first day. It’s also good for mom and dad to be acquainted with the teacher and the lay out of the school before your little one starts class.

On the big day, try and arrive a little early. Introduce yourself and your child to the teacher.

Help your little one get the lay of the land. Show him where the bathroom is and explain that they can go anytime they need to- but they will need to ask the teacher first. Also mention that sometimes accidents happen, and that teachers know this. Some schools will ask parents to bring an extra set of underwear and clothing to be kept in the child’s locker for such occasions.

Lunchtime is going to be an unfamiliar experience for these first-timers. You can ease their fears by taking them to the school cafeteria and letting them know that their teacher will tell them when it’s time for lunch. Explain how some children will bring their lunch from home, and some will get their lunch from the cafeteria line. Let them know that they will get to sit with the other children in their class.

Another tip to help your child understand how lunchtime will work is by taking her to a cafeteria-style restaurant before the school year begins. Explain how once they start school, lunchtime will be kind of like eating at a cafeteria. It can also be a good time to talk about healthy food choices.

If you’re going to pack a lunch for your child, begin a couple of weeks before school starts and practice the routine. You can get their input on what kinds of foods they might like and experiment with some healthy choices to see which ones they like the best.

You can also explain that there may be a naptime during the day. They don’t have to actually go to sleep, but they may get a chance to lie down on a cot and rest.

Let your child know that either you or another caregiver will pick them up from school at a certain time. If your child rides the bus, explain the process and how the adults will make sure they are kept safe.

Also, have a backup plan in case someone is going to be late or cannot pick your child up. Give the school a list of people you will allow to pick up your child when you can’t make it.

When it’s time to say goodbye, smile, wave and encourage your child to have a great day. The more relaxed you are, the less threatened your child will feel. Some children get very clingy and start crying – it’s a natural first-day-at-school- reaction to unfamiliar surroundings and circumstances. This may go on for a week or so. Teachers are pros at helping parents say good-bye. Enlist their help. Also know that some kids head off to class without even looking back. It's not a reflection on you- it's just that some personalities are always excited about a new adventure. 

As the school year progresses there will be lots of conversations about school and all the changes it brings. Remember to stay positive and give easy to understand information that correlates to your child’s age.

Stay informed on how your child is doing at school. You may want to set up a meeting with his or her teacher on a regular basis.

Once you’ve said good-bye and you’re out of the school building -go ahead and fall apart. It’s natural for parents to have some of the same emotions that their child is having. Your little one is growing up and has just passed an important milestone in life. You have too.

Source: Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/14244318/ns/today-back_to_school/t/tips-calm-your-childs-first-day-jitters/#.TlPNHHO1lvE

Your Child

Kids: Safe Lawn Care

2:00

This is the time of year when kids are most likely to be playing in the yard. Daylight hours are longer and winter’s chill is fading fast or gone.  It’s also the time when insects and weeds make an appearance, demanding some type of control.

All pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are toxic on some level. Along with killing pests and weeds, they can also harm you, your children, your pets, and any wildlife on your lawn.

Researchers have noted that young children are especially at risk from pesticides. Their bodies and immune systems are still developing. They are also more likely to spend time outside on the lawn, playing or crawling and coming in contact with any pesticides used there.

As population growth and sub-division building increases, these chemicals have increased in usage.

 However, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides are not the only ways to have a welcoming lawn and insect control. If you must use some pesticides, you can help keep your family safe by using them with care, and only when needed.

Lawn care starts with the basics. When your lawn is healthy, there’s less of a chance for weeds and pests. Pests often mean that the soil is lacking nutrients. Without healthy soil, grass and other plants have a harder time growing and staying healthy. A soil test will tell you what the pH level is and whether your soil needs extra nutrients. Most grasses do best in a soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. If you find that your soil needs help or a pH adjustment, you can add nutrients as needed.

Compost is a healthier option for adding nutrients than many chemical fertilizers. Most lawns can use a good fertilizing at least once a year. You can top-dress with a quarter- to a half-inch of compost. Or look for fertilizer that's labeled "slow release" or "natural organic" fertilizer.

A soil test will tell you what the pH level is and whether your soil needs extra nutrients. Most grasses do best in a soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. If you find that your soil needs help or a pH adjustment, you can add nutrients as needed.

You can also do online research about what kind of grass grows best in your part of the country. County extension offices often have an abundance of material on grasses, flowers and tree types that your area is compatible with and need less watering.

Mowing can have a dramatic effect on lawns. By leaving your grass a little longer -- usually between 2 ½ and 3 ½ inches -- you can usually improve your lawn's health. This is because the leaves of longer grass have more access to sunlight, which helps the grass grow thicker and create deeper roots.

Longer grass is better for your soil, since it provides more shade and helps the soil retain moisture. It also makes it more difficult for weeds to grow.

When pests appear, many experts agree that integrated pest management (IPM) is the most effective and environmentally friendly way to control pests. Basically, this means using holistic ways to treat pests when possible, such as mowing your lawn higher to shade out weeds or planting more disease-resistant types of grasses or plants, and only using pesticides when needed.

Here are a few suggestions to try before you reach for the pesticide:

- Give nature a little time to work. Damaged parts of your lawn may bounce back over time. And most lawn and garden pests have natural enemies that will help control pests. For example, ladybugs and praying mantises eat other bugs while not damaging your lawn or garden.

- Pull out weeds using a long-handled weed puller. It's usually easier than by hand.

- Vinegar can also be used to kill weeds.

- Mulch garden beds to prevent weeds.

- Remove diseased plants so the problem doesn't spread.

If you do decide to use a pesticide, follow these guidelines to help keep your family safe:

- Make sure you know what kind of pest you're dealing with so you can choose the right type of pesticide. Your local extension agent or other local lawn expert can help you identify the problem. There are also organic lawn and pest care companies.

- Don't treat the whole lawn if it’s unnecessary. Use pesticides just where you have the problem.

- Read the label on the pesticide carefully and follow the instructions.

- Wear gloves, and long pants and sleeves while using the pesticide to protect your skin. Wash clothing separately before wearing them again.

- Keep children and pets away from the area for the time recommended on the label.

- If you hire a lawn care service, find one that uses an IPM approach to lawn care or uses organic or chemical-free processes.

Fleas and ticks are some of the most annoying pests during summer and can be difficult to control. 

Fleas and ticks prefer a moist environment. Overwatering is an invitation to these pests. One of the safest ways to treat your yard is the application of Diatomaceous Earth (often just called DE). Diatomaceous earth, which is available at garden centers, is crushed rock that contains the fossilized remains of diatoms, an alga. The hard-shelled alga grates against the fleas and kills them mechanically, not chemically. Don’t buy the DE that is intended for pools; it has been chemically treated and isn’t for use around pets. DE is easy to use by sprinkling areas in the yard where fleas are likely to congregate, such as your dog’s favorite hangouts. Wear a filter mask when spreading the fine powder and keep your dog inside while treating the yard.

Another natural way to treat your yard is by using beneficial nematodes, microscopic round worms that are safe for your family and your pets. Along with fleas, nematodes kill weevils, crane flies, grubs, corn borers, and other vegetable garden pests. The nematodes are microscopic so you won’t see them; you’ll purchase them on a small sponge that contains about one million live nematodes, enough for about 3,000 square feet of yard space.

After soaking the sponge in water, you’ll spray the yard with the mixture. You can purchase the nematodes as far in advance as about a week prior to the yard application; just keep the package in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Organic lawn care can be a little more laborious at the beginning, but as your soil becomes healthier– less and less time is needed to maintain it.

Having a safer lawn may mean that you learn to live with a weed or two. But even healthy lawns have a few weeds and pests. Knowing that your kids are safe when playing hide-and-seek or leapfrog should make any weeds that do pop up a little easier to tolerate.

Story sources: http://www.webmd.com/children/lawn-care#1

Paris Permenter, John Bigley http://www.petsafe.net/learn/10-ways-to-prevent-pests-naturally

 

Your Child

Kids and Holiday Stress

2:00

Adults know that the holidays are most likely going to include several stressors such as never enough time to get everything done, family gatherings, money woes, traffic and gift shopping.

Kids feel stress too during the holiday frenzy, but sometimes they don’t have enough life experiences to know how to handle it or what to call some of the overwhelming feelings they may have.

During the holidays, there are lots of fun activities and events going on, both at home and at school. And while that can be a good thing, the reality is that all that hustle and bustle means schedules are often out of whack, bedtimes get pushed back, and routines are disrupted.

As a result, it’s inevitable that kids may feel some degree of holiday stress.

There are ways you can help your child glide through the holidays with less stress. Number one is to be an example of what you want to child to be. So, being calm is not only going to benefit you, but your child as well. This requires mindfulness about what is actually going on around you, what expectations you have and what you are projecting. As with so many situations, the way parents handle an issue can set the tone for how their kids will behave. If you let holiday stress get to you, your kids will definitely pick up on it, and child anxiety is more likely to be a problem in your house. To minimize anxiety in children during the holidays, take steps to handle your own stress and anxiety.

Overstimulation, tiredness and hunger can cause children to stress-out. It’s hard even for grown-ups to deal with noise and lots of stimulation when they’re not feeling their best; kids get hungry more often and become tired more easily, and may understandably have a tough time being on their best behavior. They are more likely to experience holiday stress when they’re exhausted or hungry. Take healthy snacks with you and schedule breaks to sit, relax and re-group when visiting malls or holiday celebrations.

Children like routine. The holidays can disrupt routines that are comforting and reliable, causing kids to feel anxious. To minimize holiday stress in your kids, try to get routines back on track once an event or party is over. For instance, if a school holiday concert or a church gathering goes past your child’s bedtime, try to stick to quiet, calm activities the next day and get your child to bed on time the next night.

Let’s face it; we all overindulge during the holidays. Too much sugar and simple carbohydrates can play havoc with our moods and weight. Kids are particularly sensitive to these food interruptions. Whenever possible, offer healthy snacks, such as air-popped popcorn or apple slices with cheese and crackers and limit cookies and candy to after-snack treats.

One way for kids to beat stress is to get moving. Fresh air and exercise are essential for boosting mood and re-setting the spirit, which can alleviate holiday stress and anxiety in children. Make sure you schedule some time to get your child outside to run around and play.

If your child is old enough, ask him or her to join in with decorating and holiday tasks. If you have to shop, ask your child to help you look for an item at the store (fun stocking stuffers for cousins, for example). Giving your child a task will not only boost his or her self-esteem, it’ll help by offering a beneficial distraction.

Creating a little quiet time during the holidays is helpful to parents and kids alike. Find a quiet corner and read a book with your child or create holiday pictures for grandma and grandpa. Take a walk outside in nature, away from noise and crowds and obligations.

A great antidote for holiday stress and the bloated commercialism of the season is helping others, whether it’s by shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk, volunteering or by wrapping presents for needy kids at your local church. The season of giving takes on more meaning when the giving is your time and love.

Story source: Katherine Lee, https://www.verywell.com/holiday-stress-and-anxiety-in-children-620516

Your Child

Are Computers and Phones Making Kids Nearsighted?

1:45

Kids who spend a lot of time indoors on computers, smart phones and other electronic devices may be raising their chances for nearsightedness, a panel of ophthalmology experts suggests.

In the last 50 years, Americans with nearsightedness (also known as myopia), has nearly doubled and the ophthalmologists suspect it is due to “near work”, focusing on something that is close to your eyes. They also suggest that too many kids are not spending enough time outdoors in natural light – focusing on farther away objects.

"Kids are spending much more time doing indoor activities with their cellphones, iPads, computers, and so on," said Dr. Rohit Varma, director of the University of Southern California Eye Institute in Los Angeles.

"Especially when children are young, when they play these games indoors where they're seeing things very close to them and doing it in low-light level -- that combination of doing near activities in low light is what contributes to these children becoming very nearsighted," Varma said.

A panel of 10 ophthalmology experts discussed the global increase of childhood myopia at the American Academy of Ophthalmology's (AAO) recent annual meeting in Las Vegas.

Being nearsighted is pretty common, especially among children who have one or both nearsighted parents. The condition is also much more prevalent in industrialized and urban areas than in rural areas said, Dr. K. David Epley, a spokesman for the AAO.

Children of East Asian descent are genetically predisposed to nearsightedness, but children's habits in those regions may be increasing the rates of myopia even more. The current rate of myopia in young people in China is 90 percent compared to about 10 to 20 percent 60 years ago, the experts said. That compares to a rate of 42 percent for Americans between the ages of 12 and 54, according to previous research.

The ophthalmologists noted the difference in Chinese and American work habits. Children in China spend up to 12 hours a day doing near work, compared to their U.S. peers, who spend about nine hours a day on near work, the eye experts said.

Myopia is not reversible or even stoppable, but its progression can be slowed down.

"We want to encourage our kids to read, but it's not a great thing to read for hours straight without looking up from the page," Epley said. "Encourage kids to take breaks. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break. Get your eyes off the page with something that's farther away."

Many of us grew up hearing “reading in low light can make you blind.” While that’s not true, dim lighting causes the eyes to work harder and may lead to more eyestrain. Experts recommend that if your child is reading, always make sure he or she has a bright light.

There's no specific number of hours shown to be too much time spent on near work, Varma said. But having kids spend more time playing outdoors is an important way to help prevent myopia, he noted, adding that playing outside may benefit every aspect of a child's growth, including their eyes.

"When you're outdoors there's more stuff that's far away, and when you're indoors the furthest thing away is still probably about 20 feet away," Hunter pointed out.

For children that are reading a book or on a computer or smart phone, the best thing he or she can do to lesson eyestrain and slow down myopia is to blink often and take breaks. Look up and away to give your eyes a chance to refocus on something farther away. Blink to help prevent your eyes from drying out.

Another benefit to kids spending more time outdoors is the exposure to natural light. If kids do need to stay indoors, having large, glass windows in the home is helpful so kids can still get the benefit of seeing objects at a distance, and get exposure to bright light, Varma said.

Source: Julianne Cuba, http://consumer.healthday.com/bone-and-joint-information-4/computer-related-health-news-143/more-computer-time-might-be-upping-nearsightnedness-in-u-s-kids-705789.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

Are Kid’s Sack Lunches Healthier?

2:00

For some kids who bring their lunch to school, a new study suggests that as far as nutrition goes, they’d be better off buying their meal at the school cafeteria.

Researchers found that student’s bag lunches typically contained foods that were higher in sodium and sugar with fewer vegetables and whole grains compared with standards set for school cafeterias.

The findings are not necessarily surprising, said the study's senior researcher, Karen Cullen, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

"Parents often pack lunches based on their children's preferences," she noted. Plus, she added, some other recent studies have found a similar pattern.

The study involved 12 elementary and middle schools in one Houston-area school district. Over two months, the researchers observed more than 300 students who brought their lunch from home -- noting what they ate and what they threw away.

On average, bag lunches were low on fruits and whole grains, and especially vegetables and milk.

School guidelines say kids should have three-quarters of a cup of vegetables (which really isn’t much) with every lunch. The average elementary school bag lunch had about one-tenth of that amount, according to the study.

Lunches brought from home also contained way too much sodium. The average bag lunch averaged 1,000 to 1,110 mg, versus a limit of 640 mg in elementary school lunches.

About 90 percent of the home lunches contained a dessert, sugary drink or snack chip. Guess what? Kids ate those items whereas between 20 and 30 percent of vegetables ended up in the garbage, according to the study.

Packing milk and palatable vegetables is tricky, noted Dr. Virginia Stallings, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who specializes in nutrition.

Giving your kids money to buy it at school can help solve the milk dilemma, said Stallings, who wrote an editorial published with the study. With vegetables, though, it can be challenging to go beyond carrot sticks, she added.

"I think that's one of the advantages of the school lunch," Stallings said. "Kids can have a hot meal, with cooked vegetables." She added that schools are working on making meals that are tasty without relying on salt, and expanding to include culturally diverse choices.

I don’t really think that kid’s attitudes have changed much about school lunches in the last few decades. As long as I can remember, kids eat what they want, trade foods with others and throw out the rest. They often gripe about their lunch food whether it comes from home or the school cafeteria.. That’s just what kids do.

So, if they are going to complain anyway you might as well fix them a lunch that will help them develop strong bones and hearts. The school systems have finally started paying attention to nutrition after all these years. They’re working on creative recipes that just might temp kids to eat better.

You already know that there are way too many American children that are eating poorly, not exercising and developing diabetes at a young age. It’s important what our children eat. Sometimes a school lunch is best and sometimes a lunch brought from home is best. Many times parents split the difference and do both.

Source: Amy Norton, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/education-news-745/kids-bag-lunches-not-meeting-nutrition-guidelines-694048.html

Your Child

Super-Lice Resistant to OTC Treatment

1:45

Well, this certainly isn’t good news.

The American Chemical Society recently reported a new study shows that certain lice in at least 25 states are now resistant to over-the-counter (OTC) treatments.

Study author Kyong S. Yoon, PhD, assistant professor in the Biological Sciences and Environmental Sciences Program at Southern Illinois University, has been researching lice since 2000. His research is still ongoing, but what he’s found so far in 109 samples from 30 states is startling: the vast majority of lice now carry genes that are super-resistant to the OTC treatment used against them.

Permethrin, part of the pyrethroid class of insecticides, is the active ingredient in some OTC treatments. Certain lice have developed a trio of mutations that make it resistant to the pyrethroids. What happens is you end up with a new kind of super-lice that doesn’t respond to typical treatment any longer.

“It’s a really, really serious problem right now in the U.S.,” Yoon says.

Six million to 12 million U.S. children are infested with head lice every year, "with parents spending about $350 million dollars annually on permethrin-laced over-the-counter and prescription treatments," Yoon said. Lice infestations occur in rich neighborhoods as well as poor ones.

Currently, there are 25 states, including Arizona, California, the Carolinas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia where lice have what Yoon calls "knock-down resistant mutations". This involves a triple whammy of genetic alterations that render them immune to OTC permethrin treatments.

Lice in four states, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Oregon, have developed partial resistance, the researchers found.

Michigan's lice have no resistance as yet. Why that is remains unclear.

Fortunately, there are prescription medications that still work in treating lice. They are more expensive than over-the-counter formulas and do not contain permethrin. These prescriptions may contain benzyl alcohol, ivermectin, malathion and spinosad; all powerful agents or insecticides. Lindane shampoo is another alternative for difficult-to-treat cases.

If your child has head lice and OTC medicines haven’t worked, you can check with your pediatrician or family doctor for a prescription treatment. 

Sources: Mandy Oaklander, http://time.com/4000857/lice-treatment/

Alan Mozes, http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2015/08/18/head-lice-now-resistant-to-common-meds-in-25-states

 

Your Child

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

2:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The findings were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

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

 

Parenting

AAP Says Lice Shouldn’t Keep Kids Out of School

1:30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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