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Your Teen

What do Energy Drinks Actually Do to the Body?

2:00

There’s been a lot of discussion over whether caffeine-spiked “Energy Drinks” are really safe for consumption, particularly for kids and young adults.  Although many manufacturers add the advisory statement “not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women and persons sensitive to caffeine” on their label, it often goes ignored.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that as these drinks have become more popular, the incidences of caffeine related overdoses and deaths have increased.

In one heartbreaking example, 14-year-old Anais Fournier died from cardiac arrest due to caffeine toxicity after consuming two 24- ounce cans of Monster energy drink a day apart.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been investigating whether there is causal link to the drinks and health problems, Mayo Clinic researcher Anna Svatikova and her colleagues wanted more information about exactly what happens in your body after you consume one of the drinks.

She and her team recruited 25 volunteers. All were young adults age 18 or older, nonsmokers, free of known disease, and not taking medications. They were asked to drink a 16-ounce can of a Rockstar energy drink and a placebo -- with the same taste, texture, color and nutritional contents but without the caffeine and other stimulants -- within five minutes on two separate days.

The energy drink had the following stimulants: 240 mg of caffeine, 2,000 mg of taurine and extracts of guarana seed, ginseng root and milk thistle. All typical ingredients associated with energy drinks.

Researchers took numerous measurements first before they drank and 30 minutes after. With the placebo, there was very little change. With the energy drink, however, many of the changes were marked:

•       Systolic blood pressure (the top number) - 6.2 percent increase

•       Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) - 6.8 percent increase

•       Average blood pressure - 6.4 percent increase

•       Heart rate - none

•       Caffeine in blood - increase from undetectable to 3.4 micrograms/mL

•       Norepinephrine level (the stress hormone, which can give you the shakes when you have too much caffeine) in blood - increase from 150 pg/mL to 250 pg/ML

Writing in JAMA, the researchers said that these changes may predispose those who drink a single drink to increased cardiovascular risk.

This may explain why a number of those who died after consuming energy drinks appeared to have had heart attacks.

They also exposed the volunteers to two-minute physical, mental, and cold stressors after consuming the energy drinks to see how that might affect blood pressure and other body functions.

The physical stressor involved asking participants to squeeze on a handgrip; the mental one to complete a series of mathematical tasks as fast as possible; and the cold one immersing their one hand into ice water. Interestingly, there was no further change.

Another thing that is typically overlooked when people choose one of these drinks is the serving size. A 16-ounce can is two servings. A 24-ounce can has three servings. Caffeine and sugar content is often listed per serving. But honestly, how many people drink a third or half a can at a time? Besides caffeine, other stimulants are often added to energy drinks such as Ginseng and Guarana. Most people have no idea what they are, what they do and if they negatively interact with medications.

The American Beverage Association defends the drinks and said in a statement  that "there is nothing unique about the caffeine in mainstream energy drinks, which is about half that of a similar sized cup of coffeehouse coffee" and that drinking coffee would have produced similar effects.

“The safety of energy drinks has been established by scientific research as well as regulatory agencies around the globe. Just this year the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed the safety of energy drinks and their ingredients after an extensive review," the organization said.

It’s up to parents to decide whether these drinks are beneficial to their family or if they should re-think purchasing one for themselves or their child. A family discussion about the pros and cons of energy drinks with pre-teens and teenagers could give the kids the information they need to make a good choice.

Source: Ariana Eunjung Cha, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=2469194

Your Child

Recess Is Important for Kids

1.45 to read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parenting

Any Benefits From Eating Your Own Placenta?

2:00

Here’s a medical study I never thought I’d read –“Are there health benefits associated with eating your own placenta after giving birth”?

Well…no, according to a research team from Northwestern University in Chicago. In fact, there may be a few health risks associated with ingesting placenta.

As I read the study’s findings, I began to wonder; who thought this was a good idea in the first place?

It turns out that throughout history there have been some cultures in which women ate the placenta after giving birth. It’s called placentophagy.

Some animals are known to also eat their afterbirth.

Apparently its’ also become the thing among a few celebrity mothers. While some believe that fresh placenta provides the most benefits, others elect to make a smoothie or have it dried, processed and made into pills.

However, the question still remains – is there any real benefit from eating placenta whether it’s raw, processed, made into a smoothie or pill, grilled or baked?

Scientists from Northwestern University pored over accumulated research that has been done on the topic.  The bottom line is that they could not find any evidence that there are any health benefits to placentophagy and that there may be unknown risks to mothers and their infants.

"Our sense is that women choosing placentophagy, who may otherwise be very careful about what they are putting into their bodies during pregnancy and nursing, are willing to ingest something without evidence of its benefits and, more importantly, of its potential risks to themselves and their nursing infants," study lead author and psychologist Cynthia Coyle said in a Northwestern news release.

In the study, Coyle's team reviewed data from 10 published studies. They found no data to support that eating the placenta -- either raw, cooked or in pill form -- protects against postpartum depression, reduces pain after childbirth, increases a woman's energy, helps with lactation, improves mother-child bonding, replenishes iron in the body, or improves skin elasticity. All touted as reasons many of the celebrity moms chose to give it a try.

The researchers also said that there are no studies examining the risks associated with eating the placenta, which acts as a filter to absorb and protect fetuses from toxins and pollutants.

Coyle noted that "there are no regulations as to how the placenta is stored and prepared, and the dosing is inconsistent. Women really don't know what they are ingesting."

If placentophagy appeals to you, be sure and check with your hospital or birthing center first. Many hospitals dispose of the placenta as bio-hazardous waste along with the other medical waste that occurs during birth (needles, blood, gloves etc.). You’ll most likely have to make arrangements ahead of time or find a more accommodating provider.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20150604/new-moms-gain-no-benefit-from-eating-placenta-studies-show

Daily Dose

Can Probiotics Boost Immunity?

I have had some travel time in the car so that gave me an opportunity to catch up on my journal reading. I found an interesting article from Pediatrics, August 2009.I have had some travel time in the car so that gave me an opportunity to catch up on my journal reading. I found an interesting article from Pediatrics, August 2009.

This article seemed very timely given that we are into an early flu season with H1N1 already being prevalent throughout most of the country and more colds and influenza on the way this winter. This study was done in China and looked at 326 healthy children ages, three to five years old who were in a childcare center. This was a randomized, placebo controlled, double blind study in which there were three groups of children. The first group received probiotics as lactobacillus acidophilus alone, another group received lactobacillus acidophilus plus bifodbacterium, while the third group received placebo. All of these were given as a powder mixed with four ounces of milk, twice daily (So they were getting dairy too). Surprisingly, significantly fewer children in the two probiotic groups than in the placebo group had episodes of fever, cough and runny nose, as reported by both parents and day care providers.  In addition, significantly fewer children in the probiotic groups received antibiotics. The three groups did have similar numbers of physicians visits, but mean days absent from day care were significantly lower in the probiotic group than in the placebo group. There were no notable adverse effects noted in the children taking the probiotic mixtures. Now, the mechanism as to how the probiotics worked is not clear, but probiotics are being studied for their general immune enhancing effects. At the very least this is an interesting study, and hopefully there will be more studies done to see if these results can be duplicated in other trials in the U.S. With that being said, I am going to start reading some more about probiotics and also buying a few probiotics to take this winter. I can’t see that prophylactic probiotics to prevent cold and flu symptoms can hurt, and along with good hand washing and my flu vaccine I hope to stay healthy this winter. More to come about probiotics as more studies are released, I am happy to be a volunteer! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Baby

Preventing Peanut Allergies with Peanuts

1:45

As the number of U.S. children with peanut allergies continues to grow, researchers are looking for ways to help these youngsters overcome or manage their allergy better.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now endorsing a recommendation that infants at high risk of peanut allergies be given foods containing peanuts before their first birthday.

How can you tell if your infant might be at risk for developing a peanut allergy?  Children are considered at high risk if they've had a previous allergic reaction to eggs or experienced a severe eczema skin rash. Allergy tests are recommended before exposing at-risk infants to peanut-containing foods.

An earlier published allergy study found that exposure to peanuts in infancy seemed to help build tolerance -- contrary to conventional thinking that peanuts should be avoided until children are older.

Here’s how the study was conducted.  Researchers in Britain followed 640 babies, 4 months to 11 months old, who were considered at high risk of developing peanut allergies. One group avoided peanuts; the others ate a small amount of peanut protein or peanut butter every week. After five years, the group that ate peanut products had 81 percent fewer peanut allergies than the group that didn't.

"There is now scientific evidence," the AAP says, "that health care providers should recommend introducing peanut-containing products into the diets of 'high-risk' infants early on in life (between 4 and 11 months of age) in countries where peanut allergy is prevalent because delaying the introduction of peanut can be associated with an increased risk of peanut allergy."

The advice comes in a consensus statement that the American Academy of Pediatrics helped prepare and endorsed in June along with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and major allergy groups from Canada, Europe, Japan and elsewhere. The recommendations are meant to serve as interim guidance until more extensive guidelines can be prepared for release next year, the consensus statement said.

While getting the exact percentage of children with peanut allergies is difficult, peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that four out of ten children suffer from a food allergy. It also notes that hospitalizations resulting from severe attacks have been increasing.

Severe cases can cause an allergic child to experience anaphylactic shock, a potentially life-threatening reaction that disrupts breathing and causes a precipitous drop in blood pressure.

Parents who are interested in the idea of treating peanut allergies with peanuts should not attempt to do this themselves. Children, particularly infants, should only be treated under the care of their pediatrician or pediatric allergist.

The AAP’s recommendation on treating peanut allergies with small doses of peanut protein will be published in the August 31 edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-advice-for-parents-on-peanut-allergies/

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db10.htm

Daily Dose

Kids & Cellphones

1:30 to read

There is a new study out from the National Toxicology Program in which rats were exposed to radio frequency radiation for nine hours a day for two years beginning in utero.  They compared these rats to those that were not exposed and interestingly some of the male rats developed tumors in their hearts and brains and the controls did not.

I am writing about this as another deterrent to giving children a cell phone at a young age and for not having a home phone. While it is too early to say if this study has any bearing on humans and obviously the exposure was heavier than normal, this may serve as another deterrent to giving children a cell phone at a young age. It may also help to bring “land lines” back into the home. 

Call me old school, but I continue to believe and counsel patients, having a home phone is still important.  Without a home phone how can you call your child when you are away and they may be home with a babysitter….and not depend on the caregivers cell phone?  I also think that some children may be ready to stay at home for 30 min to an hour at a time while their parents go to the store, or pick up a sibling from school etc. before they are ready for a cell phone. By having a home phone the child has a means of contacting their parents, neighbors or emergency personnel and don’t risk losing a cell phone or any of the other numerous issues associated with owning a cell phone.

A home phone also gives children an opportunity to learn how to answer a phone and begin “screening” phone calls for the family and to learn phone etiquette….which is not always taught when parents are answering the cell and handing it off to their child.  What about the days when we were taught to say “Hello, Hubbard residence” when answering the phone?  Or having your mother sit by your side while you called a friend’s house and started off the conversation with, “may I please speak to…Sally?”. Phone etiquette was such an important part of every child’s life.

Once your child does have a cell phone it also seems that they may spend more time isolated from the family when on the phone….and may spend longer amounts of time on the phone than when the phone was in the family kitchen. Even my grown children often go outside to take their cell phone call….wonder what they are talking about, me?  I digress….

The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend that parents should limit the use of cell phones by children and teens. A cell phone is not a toy and emits radiation.  Keeping this source of radiation away from our children for as long as possible seems prudent while more research continues…and this study just gives parents a bit more ammunition when their 6 year old starts off with, “everyone else has a cell phone…when can I have one?”.  

 

Your Child

Kids Allowed to Sip Alcohol Get Mixed Message

1:30

Letting your little one have an occasional sip of alcohol may be sending him or her the wrong message suggests a new report. 

According to the study, children that are allowed to sporadically sip alcohol as youngsters are more likely to start drinking by the time they are in high school.

Researchers followed 561 middle school students in Rhode Island for about three years. At the start of sixth grade (about age 11), nearly 30 percent of the students said they'd had at least one sip of alcohol.

The alcohol was provided in most cases by parents and given at parties or special occasions.

By ninth grade, 26 percent of those who'd had sips of alcohol at a younger age said they'd had at least one full alcoholic drink, compared with less than 6 percent of those who didn't get sips of alcohol when younger.

The researchers also found that 9 percent of the sippers had gotten drunk or engaged in binge drinking by ninth grade, compared with just under 2 percent of the non-sippers.

The study’s lead researcher Kristina Jackson, of Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, in Providence, Rhode Island, said the findings don’t prove that sips of alcohol at a young age absolutely leads to teen drinking.

"We're not trying to say whether it's 'OK' or 'not OK' for parents to allow this," Jackson said in a journal news release.

She noted that some parents believe that introducing children to alcohol at home teaches them about responsible drinking and reduces the appeal of alcohol.

"Our study provides evidence to the contrary," Jackson said.

Giving sips of alcohol to young children may send them a "mixed message," she suggested.

"At that age, some kids may have difficulty understanding the difference between a sip of wine and having a full beer," Jackson said.

For the study, Jackson’s team tried to account for other factors that might contribute to underage drinking such as parent’s drinking habits and any family history of alcoholism as well as the kid’s tendency to be impulsive or a high-risk taker.

Jackson says that there was still a connection between the early sipping and drinking by high school age.

She also stressed that parents who have already given their child sips of wine or beer shouldn’t be alarmed, but should think about sending their child a clear message about alcohol use and abuse.

The study was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20150331/letting-kids-sip-alcohol-may-send-wrong-message

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-kids-alcohol-earlier.html

Your Teen

Cheerleading: Fewer Sports Injuries, But More Severe

2:00

Cheerleading used to be relatively simple sideline endeavor, but not any more. Today it can be a competitive sport, daring and sometimes dangerous.

It typically rates low in overall sports related injuries according to a recently published study, but because of the changing nature of cheerleading and how injuries are reported – whether as a sport or a nonathletic extracurricular activity- the ratings could change.

Researchers noted that while cheerleading may be more dangerous now than in the past, it still gets kids up and moving.

"Anecdotally, it's pretty clear to most people over the past few decades that cheerleading has shifted from a sideline activity to a competitive sport itself. This may have resulted in an increase in injury," said study author Dustin Currie, a doctoral student in epidemiology at Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

"We only have five years of data ... but I don't know whether to say it's better for cheerleading to not become a more competitive sport," he added. "If it's getting more children to participate in athletics, it's probably a net positive."

About 400,000 students in the United States participate in high school cheerleading each year, including more than 123,000 involved in competitive "spirit squads" that incorporate stunts, pyramids, tosses and jumps, according to the U.S. National Federation of State High School Associations.

But states classify cheerleading in various ways, with some defining it as a sport and others lumping it with other nonathletic extracurricular activities, Currie said.

The distinction is important because defining it as a sport requires stricter rules regarding practice location and other safety measures, as well as coaching certification requirements, he said.

The new study found that while overall injury rates are low for cheerleading, the injuries that do occur are more severe.

Researchers discovered that concussions were the most common cheerleading injury, involving 31 percent of all injuries. However, concussion rates were significantly lower in cheerleading that all other sports combined as well as other girl sports.

More than half of cheerleading injuries occurred during stunts, with pyramid formations constituting 16 percent and tumbling accounting for 9 percent. Most stunt- and pyramid-related concussions resulted from contact with another person, most commonly their elbow, the study said.

Currie said one way to potentially reduce cheerleading injuries would be for all states to change the classification of cheerleading to a sport and recognize that the "vast majority of high school cheerleaders are athletes" requiring the support of athletic trainers and other appropriate medical staff.

"States need to think about it in terms of cheerleaders being athletes, as they are now, rather than some recreational activity on the sidelines," he said.

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Maureen Salamon, http://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/concussions-news-733/as-cheerleading-becomes-more-competitive-concussions-top-list-of-injuries-study-says-706029.html

 

 

Your Baby

Air Mattresses Can Be Fatal for Infants

:45

Researchers are sending out a warning to parents that while air mattresses are convenient, portable, and relatively inexpensive, they can also be deadly for babies.

There were 108 infant deaths involving air mattresses reported in 24 states between 2004 and 2015, according to the U.S. National Child Death Review Case Reporting System. But the researchers said such deaths are probably underreported. There's no specific box to check to mark a death as related to an air mattress, the study authors explained.

"Even when fully inflated, air mattresses can mold to the infant's face and obstruct the airway by forming an occlusive seal," wrote researchers Jennifer Doering, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Trina Salm Ward, from the University of Georgia.

"The risk increases when air mattresses leak during use. Under-inflation was a factor in some of the infant deaths reviewed," they added.

Air mattresses seldom provide a warning label about use with infants. The team checked policy statements from 12 organizations -- including federal agencies and health, consumer and parent groups -- and found that only one mentioned the hazard posed to infants by air mattresses.

Many parents simply do not connect air mattresses with infant deaths. Doering and Ward called for improved data collection and for more public health officials to spread the word about the dangers of using air mattresses for babies to sleep on.

The study was published recently in the American Journal of Public Health.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20170602/air-mattresses-linked-to-more-than-100-infant-deaths

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