Your Child

Music Improves Kids' Memory and Reading Skills

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Maybe Plato was right when he noted that music “…gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

A new study suggests that children who practice singing or learn an instrument are also more likely to improve in language and reading skills.

Previous research has shown a positive link between music and learning skills, but was mainly conducted on children in upper or middle class families. This new study looks at whether the same results apply to children living in impoverished and low socioeconomic neighborhoods. The present study included students from musical training programs in Chicago and Los Angeles public schools.

The findings support the idea that musical training can help any child not only benefit from the joy and discipline of musical training, but also the stimulation that the mind acquires through music.  This could prove particularly helpful to children living in difficult circumstances.

"Research has shown that there are differences in the brains of children raised in impoverished environments that affect their ability to learn," said Nina Kraus, PhD, a neurobiologist at the Northwestern University. "While more affluent students do better in school than children from lower income backgrounds, we are finding that musical training can alter the nervous system to create a better learner and help offset this academic gap."

How does music help a child learn better? According to researchers, musical training improves the brain's ability to process sounds. Children who learn music are better equipped to understand sounds in a noisy background. Improvements in neural networks also strengthen memory and learning skills.

For the study, scientists used two groups of children. One group was given music classes, while the other received Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps classes. Each group had comparable IQs at the beginning of the study.

The researchers recorded children's brain waves as they listened to repeated syllable against a soft background sound. The children were tested again after one year of music training/JROTC classes and again after a two-year study period. The team found that children's neural responses were strengthened after two years of music classes. The study shows that music training isn't a quick fix, but is a long-term approach to improve academic performance of children belonging to lower socioeconomic classes.

"We're spending millions of dollars on drugs to help kids focus and here we have a non-pharmacologic intervention that thousands of disadvantaged kids devote themselves to in their non-school hours-that works," Margaret Martin, founder of Harmony Project in Los Angeles, said in a news release. "Learning to make music appears to remodel our kids' brains in ways that facilitates and improves their ability to learn."

In other studies, music has also been shown to be effective in promoting better social behavior in teenage boys who have learning difficulties and poor social skills.

Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, many school districts have either cut back or completely eliminated music and arts programs. The loss of such a treasure in our school systems is tragic. Music not only “hath charms to soothe a savages beast,” but also to refresh and calm an anxious mind. It’s time we rethink the importance of music and the other arts programs in our schools. Fund them and bring them back – for all of our children’s sake.

The study was presented at the American Psychological Association's 122nd Annual Convention.

Source: Staff Reporter, http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/8472/20140809/music-training-improves-memory-reading-skills-children.htm

Your Child

Preschoolers and Depression

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Should preschoolers be screened for depression? A new study says that children ages 3 to 5 years old can definitely suffer from depression, but screening may not help because there is no recognized treatment for kids that age.

The research team from Washington University in St. Louis, found that not only are some preschoolers experiencing depression, but those that do are two and a half times more likely to continue to have bouts of the disorder in elementary and middle school.

They also added that recognizing depression in young children could help make treatment more effective later. 

"It's the same old bad news about depression; it is a chronic and recurrent disorder," child psychiatrist Dr. Joan Luby, who directs the university's Early Emotional Development Program, said in a university news release.

"But the good news is that if we can identify depression early, perhaps we have a window of opportunity to treat it more effectively," Luby said. That could "potentially change the trajectory of the illness so that it is less likely to be chronic and recurring," she added.

The study involved 246 preschool children, ranging from ages 3 to 5 years old. The team evaluated the children for depression and other psychiatric conditions over time.

The children and their caregivers participated in six yearly assessments as well as four semiannual assessments. Specifically, the caregivers were asked about their child's sadness, irritability, guilt, sleep and appetite, as well as reduced enjoyment in activities or playtime.

The researchers also evaluated interactions between the caregivers and their children through a two-way mirror. This was done to determine if part of the reason why children had ongoing symptoms of depression was because they lacked nurturing by their parents.

When the study began, 74 children were diagnosed with depression. Six years later, 79 of the children met the criteria for clinical depression, including about half of the 74 kids originally diagnosed.

On the other hand, just 24 percent of the remaining 172 children that were not diagnosed with depression, went on to develop depression later.

The study also noted that the children at highest risk for depression were school-age youngsters whose mothers had suffered from depression.

Mothers appeared to play a very important role in the child’s development. Being diagnosed with a conduct disorder while in preschool also boosted a child's risk for depression later on in elementary or middle school. However, this risk was reduced if children had a lot of support from their mother, the researchers noted.

The big-take-away from the study was that the risk for depression was greatest for the kids who were diagnosed with the condition while they were in preschool, Luby’s team reported.

"Preschool depression predicted school-age depression over and above any of the other well-established risk factors," Luby said. "Those children appear to be on a trajectory for depression that's independent of other psychosocial variables."

The researchers believe that preschoolers as young as 3 years old should be regularly screened for depression. But they also understand why that can be a problem since there are no effective treatments for young children, they noted.

"The reason it hasn't yet become a huge call to action is because we don't yet have any proven, effective treatments for depressed preschoolers," Luby explained. "Pediatricians don't usually want to screen for a condition if they can't then refer patients to someone who can help."

If you suspect your preschooler may be depressed, or would like to know the symptoms of child depression, talk with your pediatrician or family doctor to learn more about it. If you have a family history of depression, mention this to your pediatrician or family doctor so they can help you keep an eye on any symptoms that may begin to pop-up with your little one.

Source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, http://consumer.healthday.com/mental-health-information-25/depression-news-176/preschoolers-can-suffer-depression-too-690255.html

Your Child

Concussions May Last Longer in Girls

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New research suggests that girls who suffer a concussion may have more severe symptoms that last longer compared to boys.

No one seems to know why there is a difference, but other studies have come to the same conclusion.

"There have been several studies suggesting there are differences between boys and girls as far as [concussion] symptom reporting and the duration of symptoms," said Dr. Shayne Fehr, a pediatric sports medicine specialist at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

In his new study, Fehr also found those differences. He tracked 549 patients, including 235 girls, who sought treatment at a pediatric concussion clinic.

Compared to the boys, the girls reported more severe symptoms and took nearly 22 more days to recover, said Fehr, also an assistant professor of pediatric orthopedics at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

In the new study, Fehr tracked patients from 10 to 18 years old. All were treated between early 2010 and mid-2012. Each patient reported on their symptoms, how severe they were and how long it took from the time of the injury until they were symptom-free.

Girls reported more severe symptoms and took an average of 56 days to be symptom-free. In comparison, the boys took 34 days. Overall, the time to recovery was 44 days when boys and girls were pooled.

The length of time it took for patients to fully recover from concussion is quite a bit longer than people usually think.

"Commonly you hear that seven to 10 days [for recovery] is average," Fehr said.

The patient’s who were part of this study went to concussion clinics, so their injuries may have been more acute.

Fehr did not find age to be linked with severity of symptoms. Most of the injuries -- 76 percent -- were sports-related, with football accounting for 22 percent of the concussions.

The top five reported symptoms were headache, trouble concentrating, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound and dizziness. Boys and girls, in general, reported the same types of symptoms, Fehr said, but the girls reported more severity and for a longer time period.

Fehr will present the findings at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine this week. Studies presented at medical meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Whether it’s a boy or a girl that suffers a concussion, it's important to be seen by a doctor and not return to play prematurely, which can be dangerous or even fatal, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Anyone with a history of concussion is also at higher risk for another injury.

Source: Kathleen Doheny, http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20140410/girls-suffer-worse-concussions-study-suggests

Your Child

Reducing the Spread of Enterovirus-D68 in Children

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While the first case of Ebola in the U.S. has captured the headlines, another virus that is actually having an impact on our kids, is picking up steam across the country.

43 states and the District of Columbia have reported over 500 confirmed cases of Enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68).

The virus was first isolated in1962 in California and had been considered a rather rare virus with only small pockets of cases reported regularly to the CDC since 1987. However, this year the number of cases is increasing rapidly

There has been one confirmed death from the virus: a four year-old boy from New Jersey. Four other deaths have been linked to EV-D68, but it’s still unclear whether the children actually died from the virus or whether there was an underlying condition that caused their death.

One thing the experts agree on is that the number of cases this year is higher and more severe than in other years. Health officials are also trying to determine if the virus is associated with cases of muscle weakness or paralysis that have struck 10 children in the Denver area. Similar cases have been reported in Massachusetts, Michigan and Missouri.

Infants, children and teenagers are the most likely to become infected with the enterovirus. It’s spread like any other virus; an infected person sneezes, coughs or touches a surface.

Doctors want parents to know that children with asthma or breathing problems are at risk for the more severe symptoms from EV-D68.

"Children with pre-existing lung conditions, such as asthma, appear to be at the greatest risk for severe symptoms from this virus. Most EV-D68 infected children recover without serious illness," Dr. Albert Rizzo, senior medical advisor at the American Lung Association, said in a news release.

Most children will recover from EV-D68 just as they would from any other cold-related virus, but there are symptoms- that if present- need immediate attention.

"It is important for parents to understand that children with this infection who have asthma or a history of wheezing episodes are at higher risk for increased symptoms of shortness of breath and wheezing and are more likely to need specific treatment to address this problem. This means quick contact with their pediatrician or family doctor and even a trip to the emergency room, or a call to 911 is appropriate if respiratory distress is present," Rizzo advised.

At this time there is no vaccine for EV-D68, but there are actions that adults and children can take to help prevent infection. They are:

·      Washing hands often with soap and water, for 20 seconds each time.

·      Not touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

·      Avoiding contact such as kissing, hugging or sharing eating utensils or cups and glasses with people who are sick.

·      Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

You can also check with your child’s school or daycare center about what actions are being taken to help prevent the spread of colds and viruses.

Earlier in the virus season, there was not as much concern about EV-D68 in the medical community because it was considered a rare virus that would likely be contained, just like in past years. However, this year is proving to be different than expected and doctors are now warning parents to keep a closer eye on their children’s symptoms if they are sick, especially if any breathing difficulties arise. It’s much better to get checked out as far as this virus is concerned.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/asthma-news-47/experts-give-advice-on-respiratory-virus-that-has-struck-kids-across-the-u-s-692372.html

http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/EV-D68.html

Your Child

Antibiotics Often Prescribed When Not Needed

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By now, most parents understand that antibiotics are not effective for viral infections, only for illnesses caused by bacteria.

However, that hasn’t deterred many physicians from over-prescribing antibiotics for children with ear and throat infections.

More than 11 million antibiotic prescriptions written each year for children and teens may be unnecessary, according to researchers from University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital. This excess antibiotic use not only fails to eradicate children's viral illnesses, researchers said, but also supports the dangerous evolution of bacteria toward antibiotic resistance.

"I think it's well-known that we prescribers overprescribe antibiotics, and our intent was to put a number on how often we're doing that," said study author Dr. Matthew Kronman, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Seattle Children's Hospital.

"But as we found out, there's really been no change in this [situation] over the last decade," added Kronman. "And we don't have easily available tools in the real-world setting to discriminate between infections caused by bacteria or viruses."

 Doctors have limited resources when it comes to differentiating between bacterial or viral infections. Physicians can use the rapid step test to determine if the streptococcus bacteria is the cause of a child’s sore throat, but that is about it for immediate diagnostic tools.

Most colds are virus related and one of the first symptoms will be a sore or scratchy throat. It will typically go away after the first day or so and other cold symptoms will continue. Strep throat is often more severe and persistent.

A virus often causes ear infection as well. Many doctors treat ear infections as though they are bacterial to be on the safe side and avoid serious middle ear infections.

To determine antibiotic prescribing rates, Kronman and his colleagues analyzed a group of English-language studies published between 2000 and 2011 and data on children 18 and younger who were examined in outpatient clinics.

Based on the prevalence of bacteria in ear and throat infections and the introduction of a pneumococcal vaccine that prevents many bacterial infections, the researchers estimated that about 27 percent of U.S. children with infections of the ear, sinus area, throat or upper respiratory tract had illnesses caused by bacteria.

But antibiotics were prescribed for nearly 57 percent of doctors' visits for these infections, the study found.

Kronan hopes that the study’s results will encourage the development of more diagnostic tools and will spur doctors to think more critically about prescribing antibiotics unless clearly needed.

Previous research has shown that parents often pressure their doctor to prescribe an antibiotic to treat their child’s ear or sore throat symptoms. However, when parents are given other suggestions on how to alleviate the symptoms they have been much more receptive than when their doctor just flat out says he won’t prescribe antibiotics.

Many physicians and researchers are concerned that the amount of antibiotics being prescribed these days is setting us all up for future problems when dealing with bacterial infections. Bacteria are adaptable and mutate over time becoming less responsive to antibiotics. When possible, it’s much healthier in the long run to treat your child’s symptoms with simpler therapies. Ask your physican ways you can make your little one more comfortable until the symptoms pass. 

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Maureen Salamon, http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/antibiotics-news-30/antibiotics-prescribed-twice-as-often-as-needed-in-children-study-says-691686.html

Your Child

Vaccine Proves Effective Against “Superbugs”

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A new study takes a deeper look at the benefits of the pneumococcal vaccine for children. The vaccine helps children avoid the suffering and danger of ear infections, meningitis and pneumonia.

The vaccine was first used in children in 2010. In this study, researchers found that not only are vaccinated children experiencing fewer infections, but they may also be protected from antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”

Since the vaccine has been in use, it has been associated with a 62 percent reduction of drug-resistant infections of bacterial pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections for children under 5.

"The vaccine is an important tool against antibiotic resistance," said lead researcher Sara Tomczyk, an epidemic intelligence service officer in the Respiratory Diseases Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Along with appropriate antibiotic use, it is part of the solution to protecting ourselves against the growing threat of antibiotic resistance," she added.

As more and more adults and children overuse antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria become especially worrisome. Traditional drugs used to treat infections begin to have little effect on the bacteria. These “superbugs” can produce uncontrollable infection that can lead to death.

The good news is that the pneumococcal vaccine may have lessened the danger. According to Tomczyk, more than 4,400 cases of antibiotic-resistant, invasive pneumococcal disease were prevented between 2010 and 2013.

"Not only does this vaccine prevent pneumococcal infection, which means fewer antibiotics are prescribed, but it also prevents antibiotic-resistant infections," she added.

Although we’re not at 100 percent compliance, 85 percent of U.S. children are receiving the vaccine. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is given in four doses, at 2, 4 and 6 months of age and at 12 through 15 months.

Tomczyk said the vaccine has been so effective that the U.S. government's Healthy People 2020 goal of reducing bacteria-resistant pneumococcal disease from 9.3 to 6 cases per 100,000 children was achieved nine years early and has since dropped to 3.5 cases per 100,000.

The vaccine is not only recommended for children, but adults as well. One dose is recommended for all adults 65 and older, followed by a dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine six to 12 months later.

There are more than 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine protects against 13 of the most common severe pneumococcal infections among children, while the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria, including those most likely to cause serious disease, which is why both are recommended for older adults.

Dr. Adriana Cadilla, a pediatrician at Miami Children's Hospital, said, "It's wonderful news that we have proof that the vaccine works as well as it does."

It has clearly reduced antibiotic-resistant pneumococcal disease, she added. "It seems to be doing a great job. It is something parents should make sure their children have."

The pneumococcal vaccine is currently recommended for all children age 5 and younger. Pneumococcal bacteria can cause ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis. It is the most common vaccine-preventable bacterial cause of death, the researchers noted.

Source: Steven Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/news/20141010/common-childhood-vaccine-cuts-superbug-infection-study?

Your Child

More “Little League Shoulder and Elbow” Injuries Showing Up

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Professional pitchers and catchers aren't the only ones that end up on the sidelines due to injuries during baseball season. Young players across the country are just as susceptible to shoulder and elbow injuries, in fact it’s known as Little League Shoulder.

Little League shoulder happens when an athlete throws too often or repeatedly throws the wrong way and hurts his shoulder. In younger athletes, growth plates—soft places toward the end of the bone that cause it to grow—are prone to injury, and can get irritated with too much use. Usually, the arm may be tender and sore, and it will hurt to throw. 

A new study out of Boston, Massachusetts, says Little League Shoulder is on the rise. 

"It's certainly being seen with more frequency," said study author Dr. Benton Heyworth, an instructor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, and a practitioner in the division of sports medicine at Boston Children's Hospital. "And that's likely due to trends in youth sports in general.

"In the case of baseball, that means more year-round pitching without the appropriate period of rest between, and more pitching at higher velocities. Which means that although 'USA Baseball' and 'Little League Baseball' outline clear pitch-count limits, what we're seeing are very straightforward overuse injuries that come from kids simply pitching too much," Heyworth added.

Little League Shoulder is usually found in young baseball players, but can show up in other sports such as gymnastics and tennis.

To gain more insight into Little League shoulder, the investigators analyzed the experience of 95 patients with the condition aged 8 to 17 (the average age was 13).

All were treated at a single pediatric care facility between 1999 and 2013, and nearly all (97 percent) were baseball players. Of those, 86 percent were pitchers, 8 percent were catchers, and 7 percent played other positions.

Three percent of the group were tennis players. Just two out of the 95 were female, according to the study.

In addition to the main issue of shoulder pain, 13 percent of the patients also complained of elbow pain, while 10 percent said they suffered from shoulder weakness and/or fatigue. Nearly as many (8 percent) said they experienced mechanical difficulties with shoulder movement.

Children that developed reduced range of motion issues had a three-times greater risk of re-injury within six to 12 months following their return to sports, the findings showed.

The best treatment for Little League Shoulder is rest – the hardest thing for an athlete to do. Physical therapy is also recommended before a young athlete gets back to his or her sport. Also, when it comes to baseball, many physical therapists suggest the player play different positions to help continue the healing process.

Coaches and parents can help kids recognize they may have an injury by checking to see if players are exhibiting abnormal movements while fielding, throwing or batting. Athletes are more likely to try and play through a flare-up, especially when they feel better after a little rest. But, repeated injury can cause a more serious condition to develop leading to a season ending diagnosis or worse.

The Little League Organization has specific protocols that are supposed to be followed by all leagues and coaches.

Regular season rules state that “the manager must remove the pitcher when said pitcher reaches the limit for his/her age group as noted below, but the pitcher may remain in the game at another position.”

League Age and pitches rules are:

  • 1 7-18 years-old - 105 pitches per day
  • 13 -16 years-old - 95 pitches per day
  • 11 -12 years-old - 85 pitches per day
  • 9-10 years-old - 75 pitches per day
  • 7-8 years-old - 50 pitches per day

Playing baseball is about as American as (insert your favorite pie here) and as a team sport it’s one of the best. Just keep an eye on your star athlete to make sure he or she doesn’t overdue it. Little League shoulder and elbow pain can take the fun out of  “Let’s Play Ball!”

The study’s findings were recently presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's annual meeting in Seattle.

Sources: Alan Moses, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/kids-ailments-health-news-434/new-study-gains-insight-on-little-league-shoulder-689833.html

http://www.childrenshospital.org/health-topics/conditions/little-league-shoulder

Your Child

Brita Recalls Children’s Water Bottles

1:45 to read

Brita is recalling approximately 242,500 children's water filter bottles due to a possible laceration hazard.

The company said Tuesday that the lid of the hard-sided bottles can break into pieces with sharp points.

Brita has received 35 reports of lids breaking or cracking. No injuries have been reported.

The recalled bottles include a violet bottle with Dora the Explorer, a pink bottle with Hello Kitty, a blue bottle with SpongeBob Square Pants and a green bottle with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Each bottle has a Brita logo and white lid.

The bottles are 6 inches tall and hold 15 ounces of liquid. They have fold-up straws and filters that sit inside the straw below the lid.

The removable plastic wrap on the bottle at time of purchase has model number BB07. The following UPC codes were used:

  • 60258-35883 on the Dora the Explorer
  • 60258-35914 on the Hello Kitty
  • 60258-35880 on the SpongeBob Square Pants
  • 60258-35882 on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The bottles were priced between about $13 and $19. They were sold online at Amazon, Target and Drugstore.com. They were sold at stores including Alaska Housewares, Associated Food Stores, Bartell Drug, C Wholesale Grocers, Quidsi, Royal Ahold, Shopko, Target, US Navy Exchange and Walmart.

Consumers are advised to immediately stop using the bottles and to contact Brita for a postage-paid shipping package to return the bottles for a full refund. Brita can be reached at (800) 926-2065 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Individuals may also visit www.brita.com and click "Safety Recall" for more information.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/brita-recalling-childrens-water-bottles-25032799

Brita water bottle recall

Your Child

Halloween Safety Tips

2.00 to read

You can tell we’re entering the holiday season by the plethora of gaudy displays going up in mega grocery stores and malls.  Enormous bags of candy are already filling the shelves and in less than two weeks kids will be hitting the streets carrying on the tradition of celebrating Halloween.

Along with the kid’s fun comes parental responsibility. You can’t protect your child from everything, but there are some tips for keeping your little ones safe.

You can start by preventing fires and burns.

  • Select flame retardant materials when buying or making costumes.
  • Choose battery-operated candles and lights instead of open-flame candles.

The next step is make sure your child can see clearly where they are going and can be seen.

  • Trim costumes or clothing with reflective tape. Many costumes are dark in color and can’t easily be seen by drivers.
  • Give your child a small flashlight or glow stick to carry with them if they are trick- or- treating after dusk.

Store bought costumes rarely fit properly, so you may need to make some adjustments.

  • Adjust costumes to ensure a good fit. Long skirts or capes can drag on the ground and cause falls.
  • Secure hats, scarves and masks to ensure that your child can see everything that is going on around them. Also, check to see that nothing is keeping your child from breathing properly. Masks and some super-hero helmets can fit too tightly, making it hard to breathe.
  • Make sure that swords, canes or sticks are not sharp.

Colored contacts have become popular with some older children. Often the packets these contacts come in have advertising on the package claiming that, “One size fits all.” They don’t.  These lenses are illegal in some states, but can be found online. They may cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye infections. Avoid these at all costs.

How old should children be before they can be unaccompanied by an adult? There is no correct answer to that question. An adult should always accompany young children. When your child is about ten, they may start asking to go with their friends. There are some questions to think about before you decide to let them.

  • What is your child’s maturity level? Do they normally act pretty responsible and make good choices?
  • Who are the friends they want to go with and what is their maturity level?
  • What area are they going to be trick-or-treating in?  Will it be local or in an area your child may not be familiar with?
  • What time do they plan to start and be back home? Give your child a definite time.

Whether your child is with you or out with friends make sure someone has a charged cell phone with them.  You want be prepared in case of an emergency.

Halloween has changed over the years and lots of parents now take their children to specific places that host Halloween parties and activities, but whether it’s in a controlled environment or out on the streets, it’s still smart to keep safety first.

Sources: http://www.cpsc.gov/Global

http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/Halloween-Safety-Tips.aspx

Dr. Karen Sherman, http://www.hitchedmag.com/article.php?id=365

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Kids are too busy and it's curbing their development