Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Parenting

Kitchen Towels Loaded With Harmful Bacteria

2:00

Two of the most used items in kitchens would have to be cloth kitchen towels and paper towels.  According to a new study, they are also the most contaminated objects in your kitchen.

I use both kitchen towels and paper towels – a lot.  I’ve often wondered about cross-contamination depending on what foods I’m preparing for dinner.  Cross-contamination refers to the accidental transfer of potentially hazardous germs from one surface to another.

Preparing meats and poultry always give me cause for concern because of the wrappings (filled with liquid) and all the places I touch after handling them. No matter how many times I wash my hands and the surfaces I’ve touched, I still have to dry my hands and that’s when I usually grab a kitchen towel or a paper towel.

That’s why the results from this study aren’t surprising.

Kansas State University researchers asked 123 people to prepare a recipe using either raw ground beef or chicken, along with a ready-to-eat fruit salad. The participants did the food preparation in a kitchen set up on the campus.

A harmless type of bacteria was placed in the raw beef and chicken in order to trace levels of meat-associated contamination spread during meal preparation.

"First, participants were observed frequently handling towels, including paper towels, even when not using them for drying. Towels were determined to be the most contaminated of all the contact surfaces tested," lead researcher and food safety specialist Jeannie Sneed said in a university news release.

Many participants touched towels before washing their hands or used them after inadequate washing of their hands, she said. Even after they washed their hands properly, the participants reused the towels and re-contaminated their hands, according to the study in the journal Food Protection Trends.

Sneed advises that you wash the cloth towels after using them while preparing a meal, or use paper towels and throw them away after each use.

Her team found that more than 90 percent of the fruit salads prepared by the participants were contaminated with the tracer bacteria. This shows that if the tracer had been a harmful germ such as salmonella, there was a high risk of foodborne illness.

Four out of five participants also left raw meat contamination on the sink faucet, refrigerator, oven and trash container, the study found.

What can you do prevent cross-contamination during meal preparation? The Minnesota Department of Health offers these tips on their website:

During food preparation:

·      Wash hands and surfaces often. Harmful bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, and counter tops. To prevent this:

·      Wash hands with soap and hot water before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers; or handling pets.

·      Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills.

·      Wash kitchen towels often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

·      Wash cutting boards, dishes, and counter tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.

Cutting boards:

·      Always use a clean cutting board.

·      If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

·      Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, you should replace them.

Cellphones are another potential source of kitchen cross-contamination, the researchers found. Moreover, many participants used cellphones during meal preparation and didn't clean them properly.

"We often take our cellphones and tablets into the kitchen," Sneed said, "but what about all the other places we take them? Think of how many times you see someone talking on their cellphone in places like the bathroom, where microorganisms such as norovirus and E. coli are commonly found."

If these devices are used in the kitchen, Sneed recommended wiping their surfaces with a disinfectant.

I’ve certainly been guilty of using my cell phone and computer while cooking. With so many recipes just a click away, I’ve been back and forth between the ingredients and the computer countless times. I do clean the keyboard with a disinfectant when I remember – which honestly, isn’t every time.

The study is a good reminder to stay on top of cross-contamination while preparing foods. I’m not sure that there is a way to prepare meats and poultry where every bit of bacteria is removed from preparation surfaces and our hands, but we all can be more aware of cross-contamination and take the extra steps to prevent foodborne illnesses. And don’t forget to wipe down those electronics either!

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/20150326/kitchen-towels-can-make-you-sick

http://www.health.state.mn.us/foodsafety/clean/xcontamination.html#prep

Parenting

New Year Family Resolutions!

1:45

It’s the start of a brand new year and many of us will be evaluating our physical and mental health, goals and habits to see where we can make improvements. New Year’s resolutions always start off hopeful, but for many of us, fade away as day to day activities send us back on the treadmill of life.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way and when you share resolutions with someone else, there’s always that personal reminder that goals were set for a reason.

That’s why making resolutions, not as individuals, but as a family can keep hope alive.  Begin by making family resolutions a tradition that starts at the beginning of the year and has checks and balances throughout the year.  At the end of the year, see how everyone did and what could be done to make the next year even better.

Resolution: a decision to do or not do something. That’s about the clearest definition I’ve seen. Decisions are important – one decision may not always be the complete journey, but it’s a beginning. Without beginnings, nothing changes.

The best way to teach your children the importance of New Year’s resolutions is by making it a family tradition.

Dr. Benjamin Siegel, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, suggests saying, “Each one of us is going to state a few things that we want to continue to do and things we’d like to change that would make us feel better about ourselves and how our family works.”

Each family member gets a chance to share something they are proud of and something they would like to change. Depending on the age of your children, it may help if one or both parents go first. If your child is old enough to write, have he or she write down their accomplishments and goals. If they cannot write yet, you can write for them. Copy down exactly what they are saying without trying to “improve” the grammar or goal.

Ideas for families can include group activities as well as individual undertakings. Resolutions for the entire family might include taking a monthly hike, playing board games twice a month or committing to more volunteering activities. Try to limit the number so they are more doable and more meaningful. “A list of 100 things is impossible,” Siegel says. “It should be based on things that are doable without economic hardship.”

Post your list in a place where the family will see it on an ongoing basis such as on the refrigerator or a bulletin board in the kitchen. Dr. Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, suggests making a resolution box, in which each family member can drop in his or her resolutions, and then pull them out at a later date to review them.

What your child needs to work on depends on your child. If you are concerned about his diet, then encourage healthier eating habits for him as well as the whole family. If your daughter’s room is a mess, try to help her commit 10 minutes a day to cleaning it. As your child ages, he can be more active in coming up with goals, which will mean more to him when he achieves them.

For preschool-aged children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends resolutions that focus on cleaning up toys, brushing teeth and washing hands and being kind to pets. However, parents who consider these behaviors part of their regular expectations may want to provide resolutions that focus on higher goals.

Older children can begin to understand the relationship between a resolution and an improved outcome. Younger kids may view the whole exercise as a game. It doesn’t matter; whatever helps each family member accomplish his or her goal is the more important issue.

When your child gets into adolescence, the AAP recommendations focus more on the child taking more responsibility for his actions, including taking care of his body, dealing with stress in a healthy way, talking through conflict, resisting drugs and alcohol and helping others through community service.

Parents are the role models in this dynamic. Just as with everything else you do, your child is watching. “Parents should be reflective about how they wish to be in the coming year,” Siegel says. “It’s a good opportunity to promote good mental and physical health.”

Just like adults, kids know the thrill of accomplishing something, especially when their parents acknowledge them. As you go over the family list of resolutions each month or quarter, take time to acknowledge the successes, along with reinforcing the resolutions that need more attention. “Children will benefit by having the parent praise them, which will improve their self-esteem,” Siegel says. “This will help them with self-regulatory behaviors that they can integrate into being a healthy adult.”

Review time is not punish time for unmet resolutions. That may seem obvious, but emotions can get the best of us when things don’t go the way we planned. It’s important to be flexible but also understanding. The resolution is a guide for betterment, not written in stone. Understanding, compassion and dealing with issues head-on can help keep everyone on track.  Learning to take responsibility for our decisions, being able to change our mind and find a better solution and discussing new options, all help in making resolutions a reality.

However your family arrives at resolutions, the best part is that you’re doing it together and learning how to manage your role not only in the family but also in the larger world.

Story source: Laura Lewis Brown, http://www.pbs.org/parents/holidays/making-new-years-resolutions-child/

 

Parenting

Uterus Transplant May Bring Hope to Women That Cannot Get Pregnant

1:45

The first U.S. uterus transplant at the Cleveland Clinic may offer a future option for women who have Uterine Factor Infertility (UFI).  UFI includes women who had had a hysterectomy, fibroids or scarring and cannot get pregnant. The revolutionary procedure may also give hope to women with a rare genetic syndrome called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH).

MRKH syndrome, which occurs in 1 in 4,500 newborn girls, is a disorder that affects the reproductive system and can cause the vagina and uterus to be underdeveloped or absent from birth, according to the National Institutes of health.

“Women who are coping with UFI have few existing options,” Dr. Tommaso Falcone, an obstetrician-gynecologist and Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Institute chairman, said in a statement last year. “Although adoption and surrogacy provide opportunities for parenthood, both pose logistical challenges and may not be acceptable due to personal, cultural or legal reasons.”

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' Chief Women's Health Correspondent and board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, said the uterus transplant was a major breakthrough in women's health and huge advance for helping women with MRKH.

"The really important thing for this story is it speaks to the incredibly powerful drive that some woman have to carry their own baby," Ashton said. "Even though uterine surrogacy is legal in the U.S. for some women, it’s not enough, it’s not the same thing. This is, I think, a really exciting important step for women’s health in this country."

While this is the first time the surgery has been performed in the U.S., nine women in Sweden have had the operation and four of those women have now given birth.

There is a wait time between the surgery and when a woman should start trying to conceive.  Women who receive the transplant will likely have to take anti-rejection drugs for a long time to ensure the procedure is successful. The Cleveland Clinic transplant was performed with a uterus from a deceased organ donor.

The hospital says that it is continuing to screen possible transplant candidates. For more information on the procedure you can check out the Cleveland Clinic website  at http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/uterus-transplant.

In vitro fertilization and insemination was also considered revolutionary when the first “test tube” baby was born in 1978. Now, these procedures are commonplace for couples having difficulty conceiving.  It will be interesting to see how the uterine transplant changes future options.

Story source: Gillian Mohney, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/uterus-transplant-us-hope-women-rare-condition/story?id=37224525

Alexandria Sifferlin, http://time.com/4238596/uterus-transplant-cleveland-clinic/

 

Parenting

An Apple A Day Could Make You Sick

2:00

While having an apple a day is normally considered a healthy food choice, federal investigators have confirmed that there is a correlation between a California apple processing plant and a strain of listeria bacteria responsible for killing seven people and making more than 30 others very sick.

An earlier warning by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked consumers not to eat any pre-packaged, commercially produced caramel apples, including those with other toppings such as nuts, chocolate or sprinkles, until the source of the outbreak was pinpointed. Most of the people infected by listeria fell ill after eating pre-packaged apples.

Reuters reports that tests performed by Food and Drug Administration investigators on samples from the Bidart Bros. processing plant and apples the company supplied to retailers found a connection between the produce and two strains of Listeria monocytogenes responsible for the deadly listeria outbreak.

Bidart Bros., the company supplying the Granny Smith and Gala apples, has issued a voluntary recall of all shipments of the apples – caramel coated or not- still available in the marketplace. The last shipment was made on December 2.

The company advises that consumers should not eat the Granny Smith and Gala apples.  Affected apples can be sold under the brand names “Big B” and “Granny’s Best,” but could also be sold under other brand names or with no brand at all.

Consumers who are buying or have recently purchased Granny Smith or Gala apples should ask their retailers if Bidart Bros. supplied the apples, the company says.

Three other companies – Happy Apples, California Snack Foods and Merb’s Candies – have each announced recalls of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples since news of the contamination began in late December.

Listeria is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems.

According to the Mayo clinic website, symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea.  If listeria spreads into the nervous system, symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion or change on alertness, loss of balance and convulsions.

During pregnancy, a listeria infection is likely to cause only mild signs and symptoms in the mother. The consequences for the baby, however, may be devastating. The baby may die unexpectedly before birth or experience a life-threatening infection within the first few days after birth.

If you have consumed any food that has been recalled or connected with listeria, pay close attention to any possible signs or symptoms. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above – contact your doctor.

Sources: Victoria Cavaliere, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/12/usa-california-listeria-idUSL1N0UR0P120150112

Ashlee Kieler, http://consumerist.com/2015/01/12/california-apple-plant-issues-recall-after-tests-find-link-to-deadly-listeria-contamination/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/listeria-infection/basics/symptoms/con-20031039

Parenting

Recall: Window Shades Due to Strangulation Risk

1:30

Window shades can help make a nursery darker when baby needs to sleep and filter the sun when it’s time to brighten the room. But if the shade is too close to the crib, it can also pose a real risk of strangulation.

Blinds To Go is recalling about 200,000 window shades because the shade’s chain or cord loop can slip out of the hold-down device, posing a strangulation hazard for small children.

The recalled custom-made shades have a hold-down device for the cord that is a clear, P-shaped plastic hook. The cord or chain loop of the window shades clips into the device. The hook is screwed to the side of the wall or window during installation. It was shipped with the Blinds To Go custom-made roller shades with Sidewinders; Smartlift pleated and cellular shades; Panel Tracks shades and Serenity shades.

So far, no injuries have been reported.

Consumers can contact the company to order a free retrofit kit that includes a new hold down device and instructions on how to replace the recalled part. Customers also can bring the window shades to a local showroom to have the new device fitted on the shades.

The shades were sold exclusively at Blinds To Go showrooms and online at their website from January 2009 to November 2014 for between $60 and $770.

Consumers can call Blinds To Go customer service at (800) 254-6377 from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, or visit www.blindstogo.com and click on “Child Safety Update” under Customer Service at the bottom of the page for more information.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Blinds-To-Go-Recalls-Window-Shades/

Parenting

The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Your Child’s Ears

2:00

True story. When I was a child, my mother was somewhat obsessed about earwax; specifically, she did not like to see earwax in my ears. Ever.

In order to make sure that my ears were clear of any nasty wax, she would use a bobby pin (remember those?) and gently insert it down into my ear and scape out any brownish gooey stuff. That would be followed up with a Q-Tip to make sure all substances were gone. It didn’t take many accidental pokes to get me to sit as still as possible.

I don’t know if there is any connection, but I have tinnitus and have had it for years.

Don’t ever stick anything into your child’s ear. That’s not just my opinion; it’s a warning from The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. The ear, nose and throat organization recently released new guidelines for the public.

It’s perfectly all right to wipe the outside of the ear with a washcloth. But it's important to not use a cotton swab, a finger, or anything else (such as a bobby pin!) to poke inside the ear because of the risk of damaging the delicate ear canal and eardrum, or packing the wax in even further, which could cause infection.

What is earwax and why do we have it? Earwax is made in the outer ear canal, the area between the fleshy part of the ear on the outside of the head and the middle ear. The medical term for earwax is Cerumen.

Earwax has many important functions. It helps protect the eardrum and ear canal by providing a waterproof lining for the ear canal, helping to keep it dry and preventing germs from causing infection. It also traps dirt, dust, and other particles, keeping them from injuring or irritating the eardrum.

In most cases, nothing needs to be done to remove earwax from kids' ears; regular bathing is enough to keep it at healthy levels.

If earwax ever does need to be removed, let a doctor do it. There are only a few reasons earwax should be removed; it’s causing pain or discomfort, or hearing loss. That’s about it.

The academy’s updated list consists of what to do and what to avoid when it comes to dealing with earwax:

DON’T over-clean your ears. It may irritate the ear canal, cause infection, and even increase impacted wax.

DON’T put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Cotton swabs, hair pins, car keys, toothpicks — all can cause injury to the delicate ear canal, including a cut, perforation of the eardrum, or a dislocation of the tiny bones in the ear that enable hearing. Injury can lead to hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ear and other problems.

DON’T use ear candles. “Candling” is an alternative health fad purported to help with everything from earwax to cancer, but doctors say there is no evidence to back up any of those claims. Candling does not remove impacted earwax, and it can cause serious damage to the ear canal and eardrum.

DO seek medical help if you have symptoms of hearing loss, ear fullness and ear pain.

DO ask your doctor about home remedies for treating earwax impaction. But first, be sure you don’t have a medical or ear condition that could make some options unsafe.

DO seek medical attention if you experience ear pain, drainage, bleeding, hearing changes, an odor coming from the ear or other noticeable change.

There are safe home remedies to use that will clean earwax out, but talk with your pediatrician first to make sure the remedy is appropriate for your little one.

When a physician removes earwax, it’s typically done in the exam room. There might be a little discomfort but it isn't painful, though some kids may be uncomfortable with the sensation of someone handling their ears.

In rare cases where a child can't sit still or cooperate with the doctor, the procedure will be done in an operating room with the child given general anesthesia.

Doctors use a variety of different tools to remove earwax, including a tiny device with a curve at the end (called a curette), graspers, and suction, as well as an otoscope (a handheld tool with a light, used in regular checkups to see far into the ear canal). Removal takes just a few minutes and usually doesn't require any further treatment.

If there's a sign of infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic eardrops. But further home treatment usually isn't needed after most removals.

Dr. Seth Schwartz, chair of the guideline update group, said the strangest thing he’s seen someone stick in a waxy ear: a Barbie doll shoe. That definitely tops my mother’s bobby pins.

Remember, kids watch everything you do. If they see a parent or guardian putting something in their ear, they are more likely to put something in theirs too. That something could cause permanent damage. 

Story sources: Mary Brophy Marcus, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/earwax-removal-dos-and-donts/

Patrick Barth, MD, http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/earwhttp://kidshealth.org/en/parents/earwax.html#

Parenting

AAP: Poverty Threatens Children’s Health

2:00

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that pediatricians include a question about poverty to their wellness exams.  Many experts agree, and studies support, that poverty can have a major impact on a child’s heath.

The AAP’s new recommendation states that pediatricians should start assessing children for their poverty status. The screening begins with a single question — asking parents whether they have difficulty in making ends meet at the end of the month.

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), there are more than 16 million U.S. children (22% of all children) living below the federal poverty level of $23,550 a year for a family of four.

Growing evidence suggests that the stress of not having safe and secure housing, regular meals and a stable home environment can lead to significant health problems in children.

“We know children living in poverty have more chronic disease, more severe chronic disease, and have poor early brain development which can impact them when they get to school, and lead to poor academic performance,” says Dr. Benard Dreyer, president of the AAP. “Pediatricians deal on a daily basis with the intersection between poverty and health and the well being of children. They understand that they actually aren’t separate.”

The recommendation offers a process to make it easier for doctors who aren’t sure about how to address the issue. The screening doesn’t have to be performed by the doctor, but can be part of a checklist that parents fill out while waiting for their well child visit, or, in larger practices, could be conducted by a quick interview with office staff or social workers.

Pediatricians are also given guidelines to help connect financially struggling families with the proper resources to help them find local housing bureaus, food pantries and even job listings. The hope, says Dreyer, is to help the 50% of families who currently qualify for additional support but aren’t getting it to access the resources they need.  “Many pediatricians are already doing this, and helping families who have been evicted or connecting them to local food pantries. What we want to do is to give them more resources,” says Dreyer.

Children in deep poverty, whose family income is below 50 percent of the federal poverty line, do even worse on health and development indicators than children in poverty according to a study released by the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. The study compared the wellbeing of children in deep poverty to children that are poor, but not in deep poverty, and to non-poor children.

The worse off the family’s financial situation is, the more likely a child will suffer from health and developmental problems such as stress, anxiety, obesity and elevated lead levels.

With the recommendation, the academy is also urging state and federal lawmakers to expand existing housing, food and health programs. “In order for kids to thrive, we recognize that the community, family and social aspects of their existence may be even more important than many of the medical things they may be dealing with,” says Dreyer. “Poverty is the most serious non communicable disease that children have — and it’s the most common.”

The new recommendations were published in the journal Pediatrics.

Story Source: Alice Park, http://time.com/4251653/pediatricians-should-screen-all-children-for-poverty/

http://www.nccp.org/topics/childpoverty.html

 

Parenting

Why Do U.S. Birth Rates Continue to Drop?

2:00

An interesting look at the U.S. birth rate was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week. In a nut shell, the U.S. birth rate remains at an all-time low, women are waiting longer to have children, teenagers having kids is at a historic low, C-sections are on the decline as well as preterm births, fewer unmarried women are having babies but the birth rate for twins is up by 2 percent.

Let’s look at the breakdown on these noteworthy findings.

While the U.S. birth rate remained at an all-time low in 2013, some experts expect that trend to change as the economy improves.

"By 2016 and 2017, I think we'll start seeing a real comeback," said Dr. Aaron Caughey, chair of obstetrics and gynecology for Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. "While the economy is doing better, you're still going to see a lag effect of about a year, and 2014 is the first year our economy really started to feel like it's getting back to normal."

More than 3.9 millions babies were born in 2013 and while that sounds like a lot, it’s down a little less than 1 percent from the year before.

Along with fewer births, there’s also been a decline in the general fertility rate - by about 1 percent- for women ages 15 to 44, reaching another record all-time low.

Women are waiting longer to start a family. Some experts believe that the economy may be having an impact on that statistic as well. The average age of first motherhood rose to 26 from 25.8 in 2013. Not a huge increase, but an indicator that younger women have a lot going on in their lives and want to wait a little longer before having their first child.

"You had people right out of college having a much harder time getting a first job, and so you're going to see a lot more delay among those people with their first child," Caughey said.

Birth rates for women in their 20s declined to record lows in 2013, but rose for women in their 30s and late 40s. The rate for women in their early 40s was unchanged.

"If you look at the birth rates across age, for women in their 20s, the decline over these births may not be births forgone so much as births delayed," said report co-author Brady Hamilton, a statistician/demographer with the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

Teens seem to be getting the message that having a child is something they need to think long and hard about. The good news is that the teenage birth rate is at an all-time low. Rates fell for teens in nearly all-ethnic groups by about 10 percent from 2012.

"It is just an absolutely remarkable trend," Hamilton said. "We are reaching record lows, and it's really quite amazing."

What is causing the sharp decline is still up for debate, but Hamilton believes that newer policies and programs may be educating teens better about the dangers to their health and life goals if they become pregnant at too young an age. More access to birth control may also be having an impact.

The jump in twin birth rates by 2 percent is an area for concern for many experts in the health field. 

"Twins have worse outcomes, and we really hope over the next few years we'll be able to see a reduction in that rate," Caughey said. "We really want to encourage people to be more engaged when they are considering fertility treatments, to reduce the risk of any multiple births,"

Twins births may be on the way up, but the triplet and multiple birth rate dropped another 4 percent in 2013.

The CDC’s report also noted these other changes:

•       Preterm birth rate (before 37 weeks) declined in 2013 to 11.39 percent, continuing a steady decrease since 2006. Caughey chalked this up to a drop in late-preterm deliveries.

•       Cesarean delivery rate, which had been stable at 32.8 percent for 2010 through 2012, declined to 32.7 percent of all U.S. births in 2013. "The C-section rate has leveled off at a rate that's too high," Caughey said. "We feel there's a real need for the C-section rate to decline even more."

•       Birth rate for unmarried women fell for the fifth consecutive year, to 44.3 per 1,000 unmarried women ages 15 to 44 in 2013. The rate was 1 percent lower in 2013 than the year before.

Whether it’s the economy, college debt, better education for teens or lower fertility rates, the U.S. birth rate is going down.  If the economy continues to improve over the next couple of years, it’ll be interesting to see if this baby decline changes to a baby boom.

Source: Dennis Thompson, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20150115/us-birth-rate-continues-decline-cdc-reports

Parenting

Sharing Too Much About Your Kids on Social Media

1:45

In a few days from now, your social media site of preference will be flooded with pictures of young children in cute Halloween costumes out for an evening of trick or treating.  It’s safe to say, online landscapes have replaced the old hard-cover family album. Relatives, friends and even strangers are just a click away from viewing your child’s most significant moments.

While many parents often keep a watchful eye on their kids social media use, they might want to think about how much personal information they are sharing about their family.

"This is all so new. Our parents didn't deal with this," said Dr. Bahareh Keith, an assistant of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine, in Gainesville.

Before social media, parents might embarrass their kids by showing old photo albums to a few family members and friends.  Now, the things parents disclose online -- the good and not so good -- leave a lasting "digital footprint," Keith explained.

The researchers cite an astonishing statistic in their review: Studies have shown that 92 percent of 2-year-olds in the United States have an online presence, and about one-third make their first appearance on social media within 24 hours of their birth.

Not only do parents share the “Hallmark” moments in their children’s lives, but some parents also share personal information about their child’s struggles with behavioral issues that can end up in the public domain. Social media outlets such as Facebook allow friends of “friends” to view your posts. You may or may not know who these people are. Public information about your child’s personal behavior, Keith points out, can have psychological repercussions for kids.

On a more sinister note, public information about your home life can help thieves and pedophiles link together a profile on your family - such as where your child attends school, when you are at work or on vacation, your child’s most vulnerable tendencies and a host of other things you’d rather strangers not know.

According to Keith, there has been little research on the issue, probably because it's so new. Her team did a review of the medical and legal literature on the subject, to come up with some guidelines for parents.

For now, she offered some advice on how to post wisely:

·      Never share pictures of your child in "any state of undress."

·      Be careful about posts that give your child's precise location.

·      If you are going online for help with your child's behavioral issues, keep any information sharing anonymous.

Be sure to understand the privacy policies of the sites you post on. Simply limiting your Facebook posts to "friends" is not enough, Keith said. If someone else is tagged in a photo, for example, the friends of that person may see it.

Keith says the review is not to scare parents from sharing family photos or bragging about their children’s accomplishments online, but to use caution in what you share and when.

"We're not saying 'don't share,' " she said. "Just share wisely."

That's not only to keep kids safe, but to respect their privacy, according to Keith.

With older kids, she said, always ask if it's OK to post a photo or share a story.

With younger kids, try to think ahead. "Look forward," Keith said. "Ask yourself, at the age of 14, will my child be OK with this? If you're in doubt, don't post it."

It's natural for parents to focus on their kids when they're using social media, said Dr. David Lloyd-Hill, chair of the AAP's Council on Communications and Media.

"If you're a parent," he said, "the most important and exciting things in your life are probably centered on your kids."

But while those posts may be well meaning, Lloyd-Hill agreed that parents should think before they share and take some sensible precautions.

The bigger concern, he said, is children's privacy, and whether the images and information parents choose to share will hurt their child in some way -- now or years down the road.

"Yes, we need to be monitoring our kids' social media posts," Lloyd-Hill said. "But we also need to look at our own."

Keith is scheduled to present her findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in San Francisco this Friday. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Story source: Amy Norton, https://consumer.healthday.com/health-technology-information-18/misc-computer-health-news-150/what-not-to-post-online-about-your-kids-716055.html

 

Pages

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

A new warning about codeine.

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.

 

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.