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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

Is Fruit Juice Healthy?

1:30 to read

I remember when my children were small that it was “routine” to begin offering infants dilute juice around 6-9 months of age.  Over the years the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) continued to advise against offering fruit juice to children under the age of 6 months.  Now…decades later, the AAP has just issued new guidelines including the recommendation “not to offer juice to children under the age of 1 year”.

 

The new recommendations will be published in the June issue of Pediatrics in which they write, “while parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories.”  The article continues to state, “small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1 year.”

 

I always diluted juice for my children, even when they were older.  I would just add a few cans of water to concentrated juice and they never even knew it. It just seemed logical to me at the time. But while 100 percent fresh or reconstituted juice may be healthy, it should still be limited depending on a child’s age.  The concern over steadily increasing obesity rates as well as dental health and the risk of cavities makes even fresh fruit juice a culprit for added calories and sugar.

 

The recommendations include:  toddlers should never be given juice from a bottle or in a sippy cup that allows them to consume juice (even diluted) throughout the day. I continue to recommend that the bottle “goes bye-bye” at the 1 year birthday party and a child only drinks from a sippy cup at meals and snacks after that.  

 

The child should also not have a sippy cup to “wag around all day”.   Parents often tell me that “their child drinks water all day long” but again that may keep them from eating a healthy meal if they drink throughout the day. You know how many adult diets recommend “drink tons of water all day” so you won’t feel hungry…same may be said for a toddler who is already a picky eater.  

Small children get plenty of fluids at meals and snacks and are not hydrating for athletics like my older patients. There are no recommendations that young children drink a certain amount of water everyday….although parents swear their child needs 16 ounces a day?

 

In reality children of all ages should be encouraged to eat whole fruits and be educated about the difference between the fruit they choose and juice.  With “juicing” being so popular, they need to know that even “green juice” lacks dietary fiber and may contribute to excessive weight gain.  I agree that fruit juice is better than no fruit…but for toddler ages 1-3 years, no more than 4 ounces of juice a day, children age 4-6 only 4-6 ounces a day and for children 7-18 years only 8 ounces (1 cup) of juice. The recommendation is that a child should have 2-2.5 cups of whole fruit per day. 

 

I still recommend that my young patients only consume milk (low fat is fine) and water on an everyday basis and add juice later on…when their friends happen to tell them about juice boxes etc. If I am going to buy juice at all I recommend 100% fresh fruit juice and if you can, get juices with added calcium (a little extra never hurts!).

Lastly, juice is not appropriate for re-hydration or for the treatment of diarrhea. For those instances it is necessary to use an “oral re-hydration solution”.

Daily Dose

PU: Body Odor

1.00 to read

I received an email from a mother who asked if her 5 year old son, an avid athlete, could wear deodorant?  It seems that his arm pits “smell like a grown man”.  I have actually been asked this on occasion in my office and I have even noticed body odor (BO) during exams on some 5-8 year olds.   

Most children start to “stink” as they begin to enter puberty, but there are occasional children that for unknown reasons, develop BO without any signs of puberty. If it seems that your child is entering puberty at an early age, you do need to talk to your doctor.  If your child happens to be one of those kids who are just odiferous, there are several things that you can do.

Number one, make sure that your child is bathing/showering everyday, and that they wash their armpits well. Some little boys (and I bet a few girls) just pop in and out of the shower without touching soap on most of their bodies.  (I used to smell my boys hair when they came out of the shower, sometimes still smelled sweaty, no soap!).

If daily bathing does not do the trick, it may be time to use a deodorant, which just masks the smell. This often works for younger kids who are really stinky rather than sweaty.  An anti-perspirant actually stops and dries up perspiration and may not be needed until an older age.

There are numerous deodorant products available, some of which are natural as well. Head to the store and read labels to decide which one you prefer.

Daily Dose

Family Dinners!

1.30 to read

Do you still have family meals?  Or maybe I should ask, did you ever have family dinners?  I seem to ask this question quite frequently during check-ups and I am finding that more and more teenagers answer “no” to that question.  That worries me. 

Family meals, or in this case I am really talking about dinner, has been and remains such an important part of the day for teens. As busy as families are, the ritual of gathering together for an evening meal has actually become even more important.  

So many teenagers are up early these days and heading to school even before the sun is up, and therefore family breakfasts don’t seem to be as feasible for many. But every family needs to make the time to eat together at some point during the day, and dinner may be the best time.  

There have been numerous studies to show that adolescents who routinely eat meals with their families actually perform better in school, are less likely to use drugs or consume alcohol and are also less obese.  That’s a lot of positive effects for just having dinners together.  

But, when I bring up the subject of family meals, many parents as well as their adolescent children tell me that they are “just too busy” to eat together!  How can that be?  Everyone has to eat, and whether dinner is a four-course meal or just a quick meal brought in from the local “take out”, having everyone gather around the table is important. 

The family dinner table is the place to discuss the workday, school day, and anything else that a teenager might want to “talk” about.  Whether the topic of the night is sports, politics, school projects, the next school dance, or the latest teen “angst”, it really doesn’t matter. Dinner is the time to just talk.  

And even if everyone at the table is not always talking, they are listening.  I know it may be hard to believe it, but even the “uncommunicative” teen gets a lot out of just being at the table “en famille”. Surprisingly, the quiet teen may begin to engage when given the opportunity to be with the family. 

So, you do not have to commit to 7 nights a week, but maybe start off with 2-3 family dinner nights a week, make a schedule and see how it goes. You may be surprised at how much everyone “gets” out of a family meal. I also am willing to bet that everyone eats a bit healthier as well when you sit down for a meal rather than eating on the go.  

Daily Dose

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

1:30 to read

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the night before Christmas? Many parents do including me! Each year I try to plan to have a “calm” holiday with an organized gift list, and everything wrapped early so that our family may spend quiet time together today in anticipation of Christmas. Why is it that I may have struck out again?

If you could see my “office” right now, you would be surprised that I could even write today. The top of my desk is strewn with journal articles, rehearsal dinner seating charts, year end CME (continuing medical education), and lots of ribbons and gift enclosure tags. I am not even sure what goes with what! I am also decorating the mantels with fresh garland, arranging flowers and trying to keep our sweet yellow lab Maggie from eating the Christmas ornaments and the fresh greenery. While I am doing all of that I must tell you that my sons are either asleep, watching TV or working from home and “just want to veg”. It is at this time each year that I feel defeated as a mother.

The visions of family singing carols beside the tree that they helped decorate, are a figment of my imagination. This is when I think it must be different if you have daughters. Do girls rally to help their mothers with the preparation of Christmas? Do they come and ask to help decorate the tree (if they are older than eight), or are they dying to learn to tie a bow on a gift? About this time while I am in a major reflective mood, a patient of mine (now a freshman in college), drops by to deliver a coffee cake and at the same time admires the berries that I am using to decorate. It must be a different world with girls. So, on this Christmas Eve, I wish that I could tell you “all is calm”, but I think I still have a lot to get done before I sleep tonight. I am sure that mothers and fathers everywhere feel the same way, and that is what is wonderful about parenting! We are all in this together.

By Christmas morning, it will somehow all get finished and the family will get to gather together to open gifts, have Christmas breakfast or lunch or dinner and hopefully appreciate how fortunate we are to be a family. For those precious moments it does seem “perfect’ and I am thankful for that. I will take many pictures to remember these times together. I wish each of you a Christmas morning filled with memories after a chaotic week.  Merry Christmas!

Daily Dose

Your Child's Blink Rate

1:15 to read

Here goes another one of my “you wouldn’t believe this“ moments from my office. A young mother had a list of questions out during her daughter’s 9 month check up. This was her first child, so of course there were lots of questions about feeding, crawling, childproofing the house, and socialization. But, at the end of her list was her “biggest” concern - “ her child did not blink enough?”. 

I must say, I have never given blinking much thought.  And watching your baby’s eyes and counting how often they blink.....really?   But, after reassuring her that I thought her precious baby, with those big blue eyes looking at me, seemed to be perfectly content blinking how ever often she did... I did a little research.

The average person blinks about 15-20 times a minute (I did not see any data specifically referencing infants) or 1,200 times/hour, or 26,000 times/day!  And to think that we don’t even realize we are doing this!  According to some research, blinking is a time for our brain to rest....and go “off line” for a second. If this is a time for brain rest...I am going to try and blink more often.

While stress and anxiety may cause an increase in the “blink rate”, intense concentration may cause a reduction in blinking. Maybe this little 9 month old is on to something...she is concentrating so hard on all of those developmental milestones like crawling and pulling to a stand that she has reduced her “blink rate”. Or maybe she will be a great poker player one day as she can keep those eyes on the cards and the other players and never blink!

You learn something new every day :)

Daily Dose

Salmonella Scare

1:30 to read

I have been watching the news about the ongoing salmonella outbreak. Unfortunately, there have now been two reported deaths, and over 300 people have been infected. This outbreak has been linked to American cucumbers imported from Mexico. Over 50% of those infected have been children younger than 18 years.

Salmonella infections are a bacterial infection, and cause fever, diarrhea (it may be bloody) and abdominal cramping.   In most cases you develop signs and symptoms 12-72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. For most people the infection is self limited and the diarrhea resolves after 4-7 “uncomfortable days”.

While contaminated foods are the biggest cause of salmonella infections, children may be exposed from sources other than food. This includes pet turtles, baby chicks, ducks and hamsters. Having your child wash their hands with soap after handling these pets, even if the animal has no symptoms, is an important way to prevent an infection. 

In some cases, especially in a young child, the diarrhea may be so severe as to cause dehydration which requires hospitalization and IV re-hydration. The signs of dehydration are dry mucous membranes (mouth, eyes), increased thirst, decreased urine output and lethargy.  

Dehydration is often more difficult to diagnose in a baby as they obviously cannot tell you how they are feeling. Look for a dry mouth and tongue and when you put your finger in your baby’s mouth it should always be moist.  If your baby is drooling that is a good sign that they are not dehydrated.  They should not have sunken eyes or a sunken fontanelle (soft spot), but these are late signs of dehydration. Wet diapers are also a good sign that your baby is getting enough fluids, but with the new diapers which are “super absorbent” it is sometimes difficult to tell if your child has a wet diaper or not. For an older child you can look at the color of their urine….it should always be clear to light yellow, and never amber or cola colored which means you are dehydrated.

In order to maintain hydration in the face of prolonged diarrhea it is important to drink a lot of fluids including an oral electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte. Many children (and adults) will not drink Pedialyte and then I would recommend gatorade over other “sugary” juices or carbonated drinks as you need to replenish the salt and electrolytes that are being lost in the stools.  It is important to offer frequent small amounts of fluid. Parents often worry if their child is not eating,  but fluids are the most important way to maintain hydration. You can also try popsicles of Pedialtye pops as a way of getting fluids into your child.

If you have prolonged symptoms or are worried about dehydration call your doctor’s office. In the meantime, I guess I won’t be having cucumbers from Mexico in my salads! This is when I wish I had a green thumb and a garden!

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