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Your Baby

Never Leave a Child Unattended in a Car Seat, Swing or Bouncer

2:00

Placing an infant in a car seat, swing or bouncer as a substitute for a crib can be a fatal decision. These objects work fine when used properly for their intended purpose, but when a child is left unattended – they can quickly turn deadly according to a new study.

Using these devices as directed and not as substitutes for a crib would reduce the risk of death, according to lead author Dr. Erich K. Batra of Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“The overarching advice goes back to a more basic message of safe sleep,” Batra told Reuters Health. “In an infant, a safe sleep environment includes the ABCs: they sleep alone, not in bed between parents, on their backs, and in a crib or bassinet without any loose bedding.”

The study reviewed young children’s death in devices like car seats, swings and bouncers and found that most were due to suffocation by improper positioning or strangulation in straps.

The researchers reviewed the reports of 47 deaths of children under two years old that happened in car seats, bouncers, swings, strollers or slings and were recorded by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission between 2004 and 2008.

The study used only reports submitted by consumers or manufacturers, so the number of deaths may actually be higher.

Most of the deaths occurred in car seats (31 of 47). Five happened in slings, four each in swings and bouncers and three in strollers.

About half of deaths in car seats were due to strangulation by the straps, while the other half were caused by suffocation due to positioning, the authors reported in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Strap strangulation usually happens when the restraints are not fastened as directed, Batra said. Whenever a child is in a car seat, the harness should be secured.

“If people leave an older infant or young toddler in a car seat and undo the straps thinking that it makes them more comfortable, that’s a significant hazard,” he said.

“A child properly secured in a car seat is in very little risk of danger,” he said.

However, many times the child falls asleep in the car seat and a parent or caregiver decides to bring the car seat, with baby still attached, into the home.

Dr. Shital N. Parikh, an orthopedic surgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, has studied the risk factors for injury in these devices in infants up to age one. He also found car seats to be the most common setting.

“The commonest mechanism of injury was infants falling from car seats when not used in the car, used in the home,” Parikh told Reuters Health. Often parents would bring the car seat in the house while the infant still slept, undo the straps and place it on an elevated surface, he said.

Even four-month-old babies are mobile enough to wiggle out of the top straps and fall, or topple the whole seat from an elevated surface, he said.

“These are very simple things, very basic things,” Parikh said. “The basic idea is that you use (the devices) for their intended purpose only. For infants, you should not use it to make them sleep or carry them around if it’s not intended for that.”

Batra notes that baby in slings need to be “visible and kissable,” as a sling may put baby’s head in a hazardous position.

It only takes four to five minutes for an unattended baby to suffocate in one of these devices.

“That is one of the things we need to draw attention to,” Batra said. Sometimes a few minutes unattended is all it takes.

“If your infant is sleeping and you’re not observing them, then they need to be in a safe sleeping environment,” adhering to the ABCs, he said.

While it may seem safe to leave a baby in a car seat, swing, sling or bouncer for a few minutes unattended, go ahead and place the child in his or her crib. It may wake them up if they are sleeping, but it’s much safer than allowing them to continue to sleep in a device that was never intended for that purpose.

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/29/us-car-seat-infant-safety-idUSKBN0NK21E20150429

Daily Dose

Teen Driving

1:30 to read

 It’s funny that I often find myself reading articles in the newspaper or online, or even watching a TV segment, only to find that an “issue” that I have thought was important for years is “newsworthy” again.  The most recent example being on the topic of teenage drivers and the importance of parental involvement.

I feel like it was not too long ago that I was talking to my own sons about driving….and at that time Texas did not have a lot of rules around getting your driver’s license, besides being 16 an enrolled in school. (thankfully the laws in Texas have changed since then).  So after much discussion about the perils of teenage driving and knowing that the death rate due to an automobile accident topped the list for teens,  my husband and I  came up with a driving contract (which I have shared with too many to count), which clearly outlined the rules and expectations for our sons when they began to drive. I can also remember the oldest looking at the 3 page typed contract and announcing, “ I am not going to sign that!”.  If I remember correctly my husband’s calm reply was, “OK - then don’t drive”. He is a man of few words..but very convincing. 

Fortunately for us, all of our sons did sign the contract, knew the consequences and started off driving our family Suburban…and never had a serious accident (so many prayers as they pulled out of the driveway).  One son did back into a fence, and another hit a car in a parking lot….but I felt fortunate that that was the extent of their accident history.  

According to a recent article in the NY Times there is a time to be a helicopter parent, and that is when your “child” begins to drive.  “In 2013, just under a million teenage drivers were involved in police reported crashes, which resulted in 373,645 injuries and 2,927 deaths”.  These statistics are probably under-reported, and it is estimated that “one in four teens are going to be in a crash in their first six months of driving,” and one would hope that these would be minor “fender benders”, which as we told our sons, do count as an accident.

The biggest risk for a new teenage driver occurs when you add passengers to the car.  According to Dr. Nicole Morris at the University of Minnesota  “adding one non family passenger to a teenager’s car increased the rate of crashes by 44%, and that risk doubles with a second passenger and quadruples with 3 or more”. If your teen is not distracted by their passengers they are likely to be using their phones to stay in touch with their friends….either by text, talking or by checking their various social media sites….all while driving. Although teens state, “ I barely take my eyes off the road”, anything more than 2 seconds can be deadly. Better to turn off the phone and all notifications before your teen hits the road.

Teens should be reminded that driving is a privilege, and parents of teenage drivers need to have ongoing discussions surrounding expectations for obtaining the privilege of driving. Parents need to be knowledgable about teenage driving and their states’ laws - and enforce those, (too many parents of my patients seem to ignore some of the laws - such as limiting passengers in the car). Even if your state does not have laws regulating a step wise progression to full driving privileges (so called graduated driver’s licenses), parents may adopt their own to help ensure their teens safety. Earning more and more independence can be proven with time and a good driving record and the adage, “nothing good happens after midnight still stands”.  

If ever there is a time to be a hovering involved parent it when your child begins to drive - it has been proven to save lives.

 

     

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Happy Halloween

Have a Safe Halloween!

Daily Dose

Did Your Child's Holiday Present Come With a Helmet?

I wonder how many children received bicycles, skateboards, or roller blades for gifts over the holidays? I always ask parents and children during the course of their annual exams about riding bicycles etc. and the use of protective gear. The answers I get from the kids at various ages really make me laugh, as they don't always know the word "helmet", but talk about "the thing that I wear on my head". But for the most part the younger children use helmets, wrist guards etc. They are rule followers.

What I do notice is that as the children get older they are less likely to wear their helmets and the use of a helmet while bicycle riding or roller blading, skate boarding or rip sticking is a must, and is as important as buckling your child in their car seat or using seat belts. It is therefore incumbent on the parent to lead by example as well as enforcing the family rules to wear helmets. Use of other gear is great, but we do a much better job as doctors in fixing bones and lacerations than we do head injuries. Head injuries are usually accidental and therefore kids of all ages think it won't happen to them. But, unfortunately, head injuries do occur and they may be deadly. Every time your child gets on their bike etc, they must wear a helmet, and I am adamant that if they "choose" not to wear the helmet, then they cannot ride the bike or use the skateboard. If parents put the bike in time out until the helmet gets back on the head, we will be able to prevent tragic accidents. Lastly, with more children participating in skiing there have been reports of head injuries and many resorts are requiring helmets in children under 13. I think it is a good idea to start off the new skier with helmets and again make it routine. The best skiers on the mountain seem to be in helmets, so they know something. There have been several recent deaths in teenagers who were skiing or snow boarding and skied into trees and suffered devastating head injuries. Accidents are just that, unplanned occurrences. Insist that your children wear their helmets. That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow.

Parenting

Recall: Samsung Washing Machine –Top Can Detach

1:30

Washing machines are a necessity for growing families. If you own a Samsung top-loading washer, family members could be in danger of being injured if the top detaches during use.

About 2.8 million Samsung top-loading washing machines are being recalled after 733 reports of the washing machines experiencing excessive vibration or the top detaching from the washing machine chassis.  There are nine related reports of injuries, including a broken jaw, injured shoulder, and other impact or fall-related injuries.

This recall involves 34 models of Samsung top-load washing machines.  The washing machines have mid-controls or rear-controls. Model numbers and serial information can be found on two labels affixed to the back of the machine.. Consumers should check with Samsung to see if their washer is recalled.

A list of the models affected by this recall can be found online at www.Samsung.com and click on the recall notice at the top of the page for more information. You can also call 866-264-5636 from 8 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

If you own one of the recalled models, contact Samsung immediately to receive one of the following remedy options. Consumers can choose (1) a free in-home repair that includes reinforcement of the washer’s top and a free one-year extension of the manufacturer’s warranty; (2) a rebate to be applied towards the purchase of a new Samsung or other brand washing machine, along with free installation of the new unit and removal of old unit; or (3) a full refund for consumers who purchased their washing machine within the past 30 days of the recall announcement.

All known consumers will also receive a Home Label Kit that includes a control panel guide and additional safety instructions in the mail.

Until they have received and installed a Home Label Kit, consumers should only use the delicate or waterproof cycles when washing bedding, water-resistant and bulky items.  The lower spin speed in the delicate or waterproof cycles lessens the risk of the washing machine top unexpectedly detaching from the washing machine chassis.

The washing machines were sold at Best Buy, The Home Depot, Lowes, Sears and other home appliance stores nationwide from March 2011 to November 2016 for between $450 and $1,500.

Story source: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/Samsung-Recalls-Top-Load-Washing-Machines

  

 

 

Your Teen

Teens Drive Better With More Sleep

1.45 to read

The study, published in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, compared school start times and automobile crash rates for students aged 16 to 18 years in Virginia Beach, Va., where high school classes began between 7:20 a.m. and 7:25 a.m., to students at schools in adjacent Chesapeake, Va., where classes started between 8:40 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. A new study suggests that getting an extra hour of sleep at night could help your teen drive safer.

The study, published in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, compared school start times and automobile crash rates for students aged 16 to 18 years in Virginia Beach, Va., where high school classes began between 7:20 a.m. and 7:25 a.m., to students at schools in adjacent Chesapeake, Va., where classes started between 8:40 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. What they discovered was that the earlier risers may not be very alert while behind the wheel and were more prone to sleep loss and daytime sleepiness. The study's lead author, Dr. Robert Vorona, said that starting high school later in the morning might make young drivers more alert simply because they get more sleep. There were 65.8 automobile crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Virginia Beach, and 46.6 crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Chesapeake. The comparisons were made in 2008 and were similar to results in 2007. "We believe that high schools should take a close look at having later start times to align with circadian rhythms in teens and to allow for longer sleep times," said Vorona who is an associate professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School. "Too many teens in this country obtain insufficient sleep. Increasingly, the literature suggests that this may lead to problematic consequences including mood disorders, academic difficulties and behavioral issues." An extra hour of sleep could also improve attention levels, reduce mistakes and performance according to another study in the April edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The Israeli study of 14-year-old, eighth-grade students found those teens that slept 55 minutes longer each night performed better on tests that require attention. So just one more hour of sleep can make a big difference in how teens drive, and perform in school. Instead of the 7 or 8 hours of sleep recommended for adults, teens should think in terms of about 9 hours per night. With school schedules and other activities it can be a challenge to set aside that much time. It is also a good idea to get this amount of sleep on a daily basis and not skimp during the week and then try to make it up on the weekend.

Parenting

Tips for a Fun and Safe Easter!

2:00

Easter is right around the corner and many parents and grandparents will be hosting or attending the traditional egg hunt. Little ones will scramble to fill their baskets and sacks with chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks and decorated Easter eggs.

If you’re one of the lucky hosts, here are 7 tips to help create not only make great memories, but also a safer and healthier day!

1. Egg Safety: Always cook eggs thoroughly and refrigerate them before and after dying. If you’re blowing out the raw eggs and dying the shells, use a straw or choose pasteurized eggs to avoid salmonella exposure. Wait to hide your eggs until just before the hunt is scheduled to start: you should consume boiled eggs within two hours of removing them from the refrigerator. If you’re worried about using hard-boiled eggs, consider replacing them with plastic eggs and hiding toys and treats inside instead.

One tip to avoid cracked egg shells while cooking comes from L.A. Times Test Kitchen and Food Editor, Russ Parson. "Place the eggs in a pan just big enough to hold them in a single layer," Parsons said. "Cover them with cold water and bring them to a rolling boil. Cook for one minute, and then remove them from the heat. When the water has cooled enough that you can put your hand in (about 20 minutes), the eggs will be perfectly cooked."

2. Coloring Easter Eggs: A favorite Easter tradition is creating unique egg designs. To dye Easter eggs safely, make sure everyone washes their hands before and after handling the eggs. Eggs that have cracked during cooking are an easy target for bacteria, so avoid coloring or eating those. Use only food-grade dyes, or make your own from grape juice, tea, beets, blueberries, turmeric, or other natural products.

Instructions for making naturally dyed Easter eggs can be found here.

3. Avoid Choking Hazards: Many families hide plastic Easter eggs, typically filled with a small toy.  For toddlers and crawlers (who will put everything in their mouths), it’s best to use larger plastic eggs that have nothing in them. Small toys are easy for little throats to choke on. If you’re giving your toddler candy, avoid jellybeans and hard candies. Hotdogs are the number one choking hazard for children!

4. Food Allergies: Ask parents if any kids with food allergies will be attending your Easter egg hunt. If so, it’s easier than ever to accommodate them. Peanut-, dairy-, and gluten-free candies are readily available

5. Outdoor Dangers: Take a walk through your lawn or pasture to make sure that all tools and chemicals are removed. Check to see that poison ivy or oak is not present. And don’t forget about anthills – these stinging pests can pop up overnight, particularly after a rain. Any pets that can get over-excited by running and yelling children should be kept inside or in a pen.

6. Speaking of Pets: If your four-legged friends are allowed to join in on the fun, be sure to keep chocolate, Easter grass, and plastic off the ground and out of their reach. Remind the kids (and parents!) not to feed any candy to the dog.

Baby bunnies and chicks are often given to kids at Easter. Many experts agree that these pets do not do well in the hands of small children. They also require consistent care and the proper environment to thrive. Stuffed animals are a much better choice for most children. 

7. Easter Hunt Alternatives: If you’re concerned about certain Easter hunt safety issues; consider an alternative plan. Games can be a huge hit with kids as well as a petting zoo or children’s entertainer. Some Easter game suggestions are: Guessing the number of jelly beans in jar, playing hide and seek, competing in an Easter egg spoon race, playing pin the tail on the Easter Bunny, or you may even want to make up your own games!

Easter celebrations are a favorite family event. Make this Easter a memorable and safe one for your family!

Story sources: Alyssa Baker, http://www.safewise.com/blog/7-tips-for-hosting-safe-easter-egg-hunt/

Maria Vultaggio, http://www.ibtimes.com/how-boil-easter-eggs-without-cracking-them-tips-perfect-hard-boiled-egg-1571632

Photo: http://www.govtedu.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/colorful-eggs-basket-e...

 

 

Your Child

Backpack Safety Tips for Kids & Parents

1:30

Backpacks have almost become a part of every student's uniform.  They’re not only filled with schoolbooks but often clothes, pencils and papers, notebooks, lunches, phones, computers and an assortment of other items.  All that stuff adds up in the amount of weight resting on your child’s back and shoulders.

When used correctly, backpacks can be a good way to distribute excess weight evenly. However, backpacks that are too heavy or are worn incorrectly can cause problems for children and teenagers. Improperly used backpacks may injure muscles and joints. This can lead to severe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.

The American Academy of Othopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has these backpack tips for helping your child avoid injuries and soreness from almost every day use.

Choosing the right backpack:

When choosing a backpack, look for one that is appropriate for the size of your child. In addition, look for some of the following features:

               ·      Wide, padded shoulder straps

•       Two shoulder straps

•       Padded back

•       Waist strap

•       Lightweight backpack

•       Rolling backpack

Injury Prevention:

To prevent injury when using a backpack, do the following:

•       Always use both shoulder straps when carrying the backpack. The correct use of both of the wide, well-padded shoulder straps will help distribute the weight of the backpack across the child�s back.

•       A cross-body bag can also be a good alternative for carrying books and supplies.

•       Tighten the straps to keep the load closer to the back.

•       Organize the items: pack heavier things low and towards the center.

•       Pack light, removing items if the backpack is too heavy. Carry only those items that are required for the day, and if possible, leave unnecessary books at home or school.

•       Lift properly by bending at the knees when picking up a backpack.

Tips for Parents:

Parents also can help.

•       Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about numbness, tingling, or discomfort in the arms or legs, which may indicate poor backpack fit or too much weight being carried.

•       Watch your child put on or take off the backpack to see if it is a struggle. If the backpack seems too heavy for the child, have them remove some of the books and carry them in their arms to ease load on the back.

•       Do not ignore any back pain in a child or teenager.

•       Talk to the school about lightening the load. Team up with other parents to encourage changes.

•       Encourage your child to stop at his or her locker when time permits throughout the day to drop off or exchange heavier books.

•       If your child has back pain that does not improve, consider buying a second set of textbooks to keep at home.

Backpacks are great for carrying school bound objects – they help kids keep organized and help prevent assignments and school information from being lost. Because they can carry so much, it’s easy for them to become overloaded for your child’s size and muscle strength. Make sure your little one isn’t carrying too big a load and knows how to properly lift and strap on his or her backpack.

Story source: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00043

 

Your Baby

How Safe is Your Baby’s Teething Ring?

1:30

Millions of American babies suck on teething rings to ease the discomfort of emerging teeth. Many of those rings contain banned chemicals that can be hazardous to their health, according to new study.

Researchers in the United States, who tested five-dozen baby teething rings, found all of them contained bisphenol-A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Studies in animals have shown that endocrine disruptors interfere with hormones and cause developmental, reproductive and neurological harm, according to the study authors.

Labeling on the teething rings was deceptive, with most of the products characterized as BPA-free or non-toxic. All of them contained BPA, the study found. BPA is banned from children's drinking utensils in the United States and much of Europe.

BPA was not the only banned chemical found; the rings that were tested also contained parabens and the antimicrobial agents triclosan and triclocarban, which are also endocrine disruptors, the researchers said.

"The findings could be used to develop appropriate policies to protect infants from exposure to potentially toxic chemicals found in teethers," said study author Kurunthachalam Kannan and colleagues from the N.Y. State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center.

Because babies suck on teething rings, the presence of potentially harmful chemicals on the surface is concerning, the researchers said. The study authors said this is especially true since they found that BPA and other chemicals leached out of the rings into water.

The 59 teething rings analyzed were purchased online in the United States and tested for 26 potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals, the researchers said.

There are alternatives to teething rings. Frozen mini-bagels, wet washcloths, silicone toys and wooden spoons are just a few examples. Never leave your baby unattended with any of these alternatives. While they are very effective, you should make sure to keep an eye on your little one anytime they have something in their mouth.

The results of the study were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Story source: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/chemical-health-news-730/is-that-baby-teether-safe-717512.html

 

 

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No tech summer: enjoy the outdoors!

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