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Your Child

Does a Full Moon Make Kids Hyper?

1:30

There are lots of strange things associated with a full moon such as werewolves come out, it causes lunacy, blue moons are actually colored blue and a full moon makes kids more hyper than usual.

A new study actually looked at whether a full moon has any impact on children’s behavior and found that they do sleep a little less, but only by a few minutes.

The study failed to find a link between the occurrence of the full moon and kids' activity levels, debunking the myth that kids are more hyper during a full moon.

The study "provides solid evidence … that the associations between moon phases and children's sleep duration/activity behaviors are not meaningful from a public health standpoint," the researchers, from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada, wrote in the March 24 issue of the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics.

The idea that the moon effects people’s behavior goes back to ancient times, but studies have found no evidence that that is true.

In the new study, researchers analyzed information from more than 5,800 children, ages 9 to 11, from 12 countries around the world (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, India, Kenya, Portugal, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States).

Unlike much of the previous research on children's sleep, the new study did not rely on parents or the kids themselves to report how much sleep the children got. Instead, the children wore accelerometers — which are devices similar to fitness trackers that record body movement and can be used to monitor sleep — 24 hours a day, for at least seven days.

Results showed that children's activity levels — including the amount of time they spent doing high- and low-intensity activity, and their sedentary time — were about the same during a full moon and new moon (the phase of the moon when it is not visible from Earth).

However, children's sleep time was about 5 minutes shorter on nights with a full moon, compared to nights with a new moon. This is about 1 percent of children's total sleep time, the study said. From a health standpoint, such a small effect "is unlikely to be important," the researchers said.

Why children got a bit less sleep on nights with a full moon wasn’t clear. One reason could be the brightness of the moon during that time.

The study was conducted over a short time and did not track the children for a full month. The finding does not prove that the full moon causes children to sleep for shorter periods, the researchers said.

Future studies are needed "to determine if the human biology is in any way synchronized with the lunar cycle," or if the full moon has a greater influence on certain groups of people, the researchers said. "Whether there is science behind the myth or not, the moon mystery will continue to fascinate civilizations in the years to come."

Story source: Rachel Rettner, http://www.livescience.com/54433-full-moon-children-sleep.html

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Daily Dose

Your Child's Sitter

1:30 to read

Do you ever leave your child with a babysitter or caregiver? Weird question right? But some parents never want to leave their child with someone else....and I am not sure that is healthy for either parent or child.   

I recently had this discussion with parents of a 3 year old child who was having a terrible time with separation anxiety. While many children go through stages of separation anxiety, by the time a child is 3-4 years they are typically past this stage. When I was talking with this family they told me their child had never been left with anyone.  

I guess as a working mother I was incredulous. What? Had the parents never gone out to dinner or to a party, a concert, lecture  or even on a night away for some much needed “couple” time?  They told me that they would occasionally call in grandparents but typically took their child everywhere with them.  (I think there are many places such as movies, adult restaurants, and other venues that might not want the 2 year old in tow).   I suppose some would say the child was fortunate, but I really believe that as a child reaches age 2ish they need to begin learning to separate from their parent. Not for days or weeks, but for either a play group, a pre school program, the gym nursery or something where the child is learning a bit of independence.   

While some parents are quite fortunate that they don’t have to leave their child to go to work every day, the concept of leaving your child for any hour or two with a trusted babysitter should not cause anxiety for the parent and ultimately not the child. Separation is an important milestone, as your child learns that while you may leave for an hour or two, you always return. There is security in that knowledge. They will also learn how to interact with  other adults and children, which is often different than they do with their own parents.  (Ask any teacher about that phenomena). 

Autonomy and independence are typically traits that parents desire for their children.  Parents also need to have some autonomy as well.....I think this makes for a better parent child relationship in the long run.  Little steps in separating become bigger steps as a child grows older....starting with a babysitter or nursery for an hour or two on occasion is often the beginning. 

Your Child

Making Sure Public Pools Are Safe

1:30

With temperatures on the rise, it wont be long before families start heading to the nearest public pool to cool down; however, some public pools may pose a serious health hazard.

Each year, thousands of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds are forced to close due to serious health and safety violations, including contamination problems that could make people sick, according to a recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Swimming is one of the best exercises you can participate in and it’s a lot of fun. Health officials say they don’t want to discourage people from swimming, but that individuals should be aware of certain issues with public pools and know what steps they can take to make sure their families are safe.

"No one should get sick or hurt when visiting a public pool, hot tub, or water playground," Dr. Beth Bell, director of CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said in a statement. "That's why public health and aquatics professionals work together to improve the operation and maintenance of these public places so people will be healthy and safe when they swim."

For the report, the CDC collected data in the five states with the most public pools and hot tubs -- Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas in 2013. They reviewed over 84,000 routine inspections of nearly 50,000 public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds.

The results showed that almost 80 percent of all inspections identified at least one violation, with 1 in 8 inspections resulting in immediate closure because of serious health and safety problems.

The highest proportion of closures were in "kiddie" or wading pools, with 1 in 5 needing to be closed down.

The most common violations were improper pH levels, lack of safety equipment and inadequate disinfectant concentration. The correct pH level is critical for killing germs.

Pools contaminated with fecal matter pose a direct threat to health. This usually occurs when people suffering from diarrhea go in to a pool or when fecal matter washes off of children or leaks from dirty diapers.

Officials suggest that parents check their children’s diapers and take them for regular bathroom breaks. Swim diapers do not prevent feces, urine, or infectious pathogens from contaminating the water, the authors note.

To check the pH level of any pool you enter, you can use a pool water test strip.

The CDC recommends the following levels:

·      Free chlorine concentration of at least 1 ppm in pools and at least 3 ppm in hot tubs/spas.

·      Free bromine concentration of at least 3 ppm in pools and at least 4 ppm in hot tubs/spas.

·      pH of 7.2-7.8.

Another safety hazard is improper drain covers. Make sure that the drain cover appears secure and is not in need of repair.

While some public pools provide lifeguards, not all do. Check to see if your neighborhood pool has a lifeguard trained in CPR. Even if your pool does provide a lifeguard, keep your eyes on your children at all times. The more people watching out for your child, the better.

If you find any problems, avoid getting into the water and tell someone in charge so the problems can be fixed.

"Environmental health practitioners, or public health inspectors, play a very important role in protecting public health. However, almost one third of local health departments do not regulate, inspect, or license public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds," said Dr. Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC's Healthy Swimming Program. "We should all check for inspection results online or on site before using public pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds and do our own inspection before getting into the water"

Checking the pool you swim in for contamination and other safety issues is good advice for anyone using a pool, whether it’s public or private. Pool test strips are available online or at superstores, such as Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot.

Story source: Ashley Welch, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/alarming-number-of-public-pools-cited-for-health-violations-cdc/

Parenting

Your Child: Multitasking and Homework

2:00

Does your child multitask with media while doing his or her homework? If so, they’re not alone and most likely they are spending a lot more time trying to finish an assignment.

What might at first glance seem harmless, doing homework or studying while watching TV, texting or checking social media can actually impair learning the material as well as lower test scores. Research has shown that it's one of the worst study habits a student can develop.

Why is that?  Our brains are wired to focus on one activity at a time. It’s how we’ve survived over the centuries.

Doing two things at once actually comprises the brain, shifting its processing from one neural network to another. Each shift comes with a cost of consuming time, mental effort, and brain fuel. Microseconds are wasted as the brain turns off the active network and turns on the next. This not only costs time (which adds up) but also depletes the brain’s critical resources of glucose and oxygen. The result – less gets done and less is remembered. While the brain is switching gears – trying to focus on the next thing required- it’s retaining less and less.

Oftentimes, this lack of retention shows up as poorer grades, less intercommunication skills and generally being more distracted.

In a study of 8-18 year old students done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one third of the students surveyed confessed that when they were doing homework, they were also watching TV, texting, or listening to music. Victoria Rideout, the lead author of the study, warns parents about the dangers of media multitasking. This concern is distinct from worrying about how much kids are online or how much kids are media multitasking overall. “It’s multitasking while learning that has the biggest potential downside,” she says.

Dr. David Meyer, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan observed that “under most conditions, the brain simply cannot do two complex tasks at the same time. Listening to a lecture while texting, or doing homework and being on Facebook—each of these tasks is very demanding, and each of them uses the same area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex." Most students incorrectly believe that they can perform two challenging tasks at the same time, according to Meyer. They may like to do it, they may even be addicted to it, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s far better to focus on one task from start to finish.”

Multitasking takes up a lot more time than focusing on one activity. Finishing homework can last much later into the evening causing kids to get less sleep than they need. 

Parents of students have to take an active role in their children’s study habits. During homework time, your child’s phone and the TV need to be turned off.  You may even have to put the phone in a different location in the house until homework is completed. A quick lesson refresher with your child after homework is finished can help you see how much your child is retaining and whether all the assignments have been completed.

The Internet can be a helpful tool when researching certain school topics; the trick is to stay on point without falling into the trap of checking out other tempting sites such as social media. Once on the computer, it takes a lot of self-control to stay focused on a singular subject. You may need to help your child stay the course during this time.

Be sure and praise your child for their accomplishments instead of making homework a battleground. The more they are able to develop good study habits, the less time it will take to complete their assignments and the sooner they’ll be able to check back in with their friends and find out what’s been going on.

Story sources: Michael Howard, http://www.beyondbooksmart.com/executive-functioning-strategies-blog/distracted-by-technology-focusing-attention-on-homework

Judy Willis M.D., M.Ed, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/radical-teaching/201611/the-high-costs-multitasking-you-and-your-kids

 

Daily Dose

What New Babies Need

1:30 to read

I have many friends whose own children are now having babies and they always ask, “what all do we need to have/buy for a new baby these days?”  While many things have changed since I had my own children, many have not,  and I still think “less is more” is a good adage to follow, especially for a newborn.  We all have a tendency to buy too much, or the “latest and greatest” only to find out that it is not necessary.

Carseat - a rear facing car seat is a must for your newborn!!!  Look at all of the reviews on line and pick which seat works best for you.  Do you want one with a base that you can also clip on to a stroller?  Remember your baby will sit in a rear facing car seat until 2 years. This is one item I would spend my money on!!

The baby needs a place to sleep so buy a crib and a good mattress.  If you are going to have more than one baby I would buy something that will last through several children. I like having a crib (rather than a toddler bed), as your baby will be in the crib for several years and then can move to a regular bed…no need for an “in between”.  Do not use an “old” crib that has drop sides, due to safety concerns. So that means the one that I had kept in the garage (from my kids) was a throw away! I usually move the first child to a bed when I need the crib for the next baby…no specific age. Bumpers are no longer recommended, so that saves money too!

Changing table or dresser for the millions of diaper changes.  It is so helpful to not have to bend over each time. I would also buy a diaper cream (Dr. Smiths, Destin or Butt paste) to have on hand….your baby will probably get a diaper rash at some time during their time in a diaper.

Baby bath tub: while you can bathe your baby in the sink, the newer bathtubs do make it easier for a newborn and you can use it in the tub as well until your baby can sit up alone. Remember, you will NEVER leave your child in the tub alone…even with all of the seats, rings and things  that they sell to support your baby!!  For bathing I like gentle bath wash like Cetaphil, Cerave, and Eucerin products….good for all skin types.  Pick one!

Swaddle blankets: WOW there are a million on the market and they all “claim” to help your baby to sleep better. I don’t think any of the products say “it will also takes weeks to months for your baby to sleep through the night” , no matter what you use.  I do like the thin swaddle blankets as they are useful for a number of things besides swaddling. Once you have your baby have the nurses show you how to swaddle (quick and easy).  The Miracle Blanket, Woombie and Halo also make it easy to swaddle as well. Pick one (or two) and stick with that.  Remember, your baby is going to be put in their crib on their back whether swaddled or not!! NO TUMMY SLEEPING.  

Diaper Bag: again their are a million out there in all shapes, sizes and price points. In the beginning you need to have a pad for changing (you will end up changing that baby all sorts of weird places), diapers, burp clothes, wipes…as your baby gets bigger you will have bottles, cups, toys all shoved in there too. All of my patients seem to have a travel size Purell strapped to the side of the bag as well. I would get a bag that you can wipe out as there will be spills of all sorts of stuff in that bag I assure you!  Somehow, over time you go back to “less is more” and the diapers end up in your purse!!  

So…that is a start. Will do another post on some other products in the future. 

 

 

Your Teen

“See it before you sign it”. Fire Safety for Off College Campus Living

1:45

Whether it’s in the spring, fall, winter or summer, many college kids will eventually move to off campus living quarters. Parents and students typically have time to do research on the areas around campus that are for rent. However, there are some fire prevention safety tips that you might not have thought about.

The best advice to help keep your college student safe is… don’t sign on the dotted line until you’ve actually seen the apartment or house.

Why? Because about seven people every year, die in fires in dorms, fraternities, sororities and off-campus housing.

Since 2000, nearly 120 people have died in campus fires, according to a U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).

Off-campus housing tops the list for fires.

Most (94 percent) fatal campus fires took place in off-campus housing, according to incidents examined by USFA between 2000 and 2015.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has teamed up with USFA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Campus Firewatch to help get this warning out. Don’t sign a contract for housing until you see it yourself. That goes for Mom and Dad too. See it, take a housing tour and make sure you look for:

#1 Working smoke alarms

Make sure there are working smoke alarms on every level and inside each bedroom. Smoke alarms save lives. Fire sprinklers add lifesaving protection too.

USFA found that smoke alarms were missing or did not have batteries in 58 percent of fatal campus fires. None of the fatal fire locations had fire sprinklers.

#2 Two ways out of each room for a safe escape. Make sure all windows and doors open easily. You need to be able to get out if there is a fire. Two ways out are best.

#3 Campus or off-campus housing that can handle today’s electric power needs.

Laptop computers, phones, televisions and coffee makers take a lot of power. Some older homes may not be able to handle all the electrical demand by today’s students. USFA found that electrical issues caused 11 percent of the fires.

#4 Be in the know.

Make sure that your college student knows how to be responsible around alcohol and smoking. The USFA study found these two things involved in the majority of the fires.

Also, if your child is going to be cooking his or her own meals, a discussion about keeping an eye on the food when it is cooking and avoiding distractions is a necessity.

College is a time of new and exciting beginnings. Be sure to “See it before you sign it” for off-campus housing so that an overlooked danger doesn’t have a chance to bring precious college years to an abrupt and devastating end.

Story source: http://onsafety.cpsc.gov/blog/2016/04/04/see-it-before-you-sign-it/

Your Teen

Websites May Encourage Self-Injury

1.45 to read

The videos may be a focus for communities of youth in which self-injury is encouraged and viewed as normal and exciting, which could potentially increase the risk for self-injury.Some at-risk teens are finding new ways to hurt themselves thanks to a popular website with videos that glorify self-injury.

Young adults and teens may believe that hurting themselves is normal and acceptable after watching videos and other media on Web-sharing sites like YouTube, new research indicates. The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, warn professionals and parents to be aware of the availability and dangers of such material for at-risk teens and young adults. Deliberate self-injury without the intent of committing suicide is called “non-suicidal self-injury” or NSSI. An estimated 14% to 24% of youth and young adults engage in this destructive behavior, according to the study. NSSI can also include relationship challenges, mental health symptoms, and risk for suicide and death, the study noted. Common forms of self-injury include cutting, burning, picking and embedding objects to cause pain or harm. While other studies have looked at the availability of online information about self-injury, the authors focused on the scope of self-injury in videos uploaded on YouTube and watched by youth. They described their work as the first such study and noted that their findings could be relevant in risk, prevention and managing self-injury. The authors focused on YouTube because, according to the site, since its inception in 2005 “YouTube is the world's most popular online video community, allowing millions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos.” Using the site’s search function the researchers looked for the terms “self-harm” and “self-injury,” identifying the site’s top 50 viewed videos containing a live person, and the top 50 viewed videos with words and photos or visual elements. The top 100 items that the study focused on were viewed over 2 million times, according to the analysis, and most – 80% - were available to a general audience. The analysis of the self-injury content found that 53% was delivered in a factual or educational tone, while 51% was delivered in a melancholic tone. Pictures and videos commonly showed explicit demonstrations of the self-harming behavior. Cutting was the most common type of behavior; more than half of the videos did not contain warnings about the graphic nature of the behavior. The average age of uploaders of the self-injury material was 25.39 years, according to the findings, and 95% were female. The authors surmise that the actual average age is probably younger because many YouTube users say they are older in order to access more content. The study concludes that the findings about the volume and nature of self-injury content on YouTube show "an alarming new trend among youth and young adults and a significant issue for researchers and mental health workers." The videos may be a focus for communities of youth in which self-injury is encouraged and viewed as normal and exciting, which could potentially increase the  risk for self-injury. The study warns that health professionals need to be aware of this type and source of content, and to inquire about it when working with youth who practice self-injury because sites like YouTube can reach youth who may not openly discuss their  behavior. Self-harming is not typical behavior for otherwise untroubled teens and young adults, explained Dr. Charles Raison, an Emory University psychiatrist and CNNHealth.com's mental health expert. It’s an action that kids with psychiatric problems may try. “NSSI is a young person’s affliction…one in ten will kill themselves," he said.   "A lot of people will outgrow the behavior.” Raison said that it’s common for troubled young people to share information about hurting themselves. Treatments can include antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs and psychotherapy.

Daily Dose

The Heat is Taking a Toll on Many

1:15 to read

This is a follow up last week’s Daily Dose on the toddler who burned his feet after playing outside on a very hot day. He has been being treated with daily dressing changes and debridement of the skin from the blistering on his feet. HIs mother called to tell me that the first few days were “BRUTAL” and extremely painful as the doctors popped the blisters and removed dead skin and then would scrub the area to prevent infection. His mother was also doing bandage changes at home.

But after those first horrible days, he is no longer having to go for “burn therapy” and she is managing the dressing changes on her own. She is fortunate to be a nurse, but having to change your own child’s dressings is a daunting task for any parent, even one who has done dressing changes before.

Her son is also now off all pain medication except for over the counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen, and is smiling and playing with his older brother. He is still not walking and is being “carried to and fro”, it seems that he realizes his feet have tender new skin.  The doctors also feel as is he will not have any significant scarring over the long term.  

The triple digit heat is continuing in many parts of the country and I just read about another child in Texas who died after being left in a car.  Remember, put something in the front seat to remind yourself that your child is in the car with you. A sleeping quiet baby can be momentarily forgotten when a parent is distracted….and even minutes in a hot car may be deadly.

Be aware of the many risks associated with these extreme temperatures, and make sure that your children have shoes on whenever they are going to be outside!!  Hoping that these extreme temperatures will moderate over the next few weeks…especially as children are heading back to school!

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Count your blessings this Thanksgiving!

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