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Your Child

CDC, White House Urge Measles Vaccinations

2:00

In 2002, when measles were essentially declared eliminated in the U.S., scientists didn’t expect parents would begin to opt out of the MMH vaccinations for their children during the next 5 years. The vaccine is safe and effective, so who wouldn’t want their child protected from a painful and potentially fatal disease?

Turns out that there are American parents who fear vaccines and children who visit from other countries where the vaccine is not available, widely distributed or required for travel.  Measles hasn’t been eliminated around the world and has reared its ugly head again the states.

So far, more than 90 people have been diagnosed in California and the disease has spread to 13 other states including Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington as well as Mexico.

According to public health officials, the current outbreak has been linked to 58 cases that began when an infected person from outside the United States visited Disneyland in Anaheim between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said a traveler could still easily bring in the disease from abroad.

"This is a wake-up call to make sure we keep measles from getting a foothold in our country," she said.

The measles vaccine is part of a grouping of vaccines known as MMH (measles, mumps and rubella.) These diseases spread from person to person through the air. They are highly contagious. You can easily catch them by being around someone who is already infected, but not showing symptoms.

The MMH vaccine can protect children (and adults) from all three of these diseases.

There are valid medical reasons why some people should not receive the vaccine that include:

·      Anyone who has had life-threatening allergic reaction the antibiotic neomycin or any other component of the MMH vaccine.

·      People who are sick at the time the vaccine is scheduled. They should wait till they recover before getting the vaccine.

·      Pregnant women should not get the vaccine until after giving birth. Women should avoid getting pregnant for 4 weeks after vaccination with the MMR vaccine.

·      People with compromised immune systems .You should tell your doctor if you have or are being treated for or with:

o   HIV/AIDS

o   Steroids

o   Cancer

o   A low platelet count

o   Have received another vaccine within the past 4 weeks

o   A transfusion or received other blood products.

The outbreak has renewed debate over the so-called anti-vaccination movement in which fears about potential side effects of vaccines, fueled by now-debunked theories suggesting a link to autism, have led a small minority of parents to refuse to allow their children to be inoculated.

Schuchat called it "frustrating" that some Americans had opted out of the vaccine for non-medical reasons, saying it was crucial that they be given good information about the safety and reliability of inoculations.

There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within a few weeks. But in poor and malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia and even death.

The White House said on Friday that parents should be “listening to our public health officials,” who urge vaccinations against measles, as it emerged the disease has now infected more than 100 people in the U.S.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama thinks parents should ultimately make their own decision whether or not to vaccinate their children, Reuters reports, but added that the science clearly points to vaccinating.

“People should evaluate this for themselves with a bias toward good science and toward the advice of our public health professionals,” said Earnest.

Measles is preventable. We live in a country where the MMH vaccine is affordable and easy to get. We’re fortunate that way.

Children should get 2 doses of MMH vaccine. The first dose when they 12-15 months of age and the second dose 4-6 years of age. Some infants younger than 12 months can receive a dose if they are travelling outside the United States. Children between 1 and 12 years of age can get a "combination" vaccine called MMRV, which contains both MMR and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines.

If you have any concerns about the MMH vaccine, talk with your pediatrician or family doctor about its safety and effectiveness. If you received the MMH vaccine when you were a child, you might want to consider a booster shot.

Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mmr.html

Dan Whitcomb, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/30/us-usa-measles-disneyland-idUSKBN0L302120150130

Mandy Oaklander, http://time.com/3691079/measles-vaccinations-white-house/

Your Child

Are First Born Children Smarter?

1:30

Who’s the smartest among your siblings? If you’re the first born, then you are, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the Analysis Group and the University of Sydney found that children who were born first typically scored higher on IQ tests than their younger siblings.

First-born children may have better thinking skills than their siblings because they received more mental stimulation during their early stages of development, researchers said.

For the study, researchers used data from the U.S. Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth on nearly 5,000 children who were monitored from pre-birth to age 14. Every two years, the children in the survey were assessed on a variety of categories, including reading, vocabulary assessment and matching letters.

The research found that firstborn children typically perform better than their siblings as early as age 1, which could be due to how parents treat subsequent children. According to the study, parents were less likely to partake in mentally stimulating activities with their younger children, meaning they may not have developed the same thinking skills as the older sibling.

The results from this study are similar to other studies that have looked at whether birth order plays a role in IQ level and personality traits.

While the study has similar findings as other studies along this line, siblings may beg to differ as to who is actually the smartest in the family.

The study was published in the Journal of Human Resources.

Story source: Mary Bowerman, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/02/13/study-first-born-children-smarter-than-their-siblings/97846312/

Your Child

What is a “Growth Plate” Fracture?

1:45

If you’ve ever taken your child to the ER for a broken bone, you may have heard the doctor mention the possibility of a growth plate fracture. What are growth plates? They are areas of soft tissue at the ends of your child's long bones. They are found in many places, including the thigh, forearm, and hand. 

Only children have growth plates because they are still developing. Once your child stops growing, the plates turn into bone. This typically happens around age 20.

Because the growth plates are soft, they're easily injured. When that happens it's called a "growth plate fracture."

These kinds of injuries usually heal easily, however, there can be complications if they are not treated correctly or the injury is severe.

Some complications can produce what is called “growth arrest.” That is when the injury causes his or her bone to stop growing. A child may end up with one leg or arm shorter than the other.

Your child's likely to get crooked legs or one leg shorter than the other if his growth plates were damaged at his knee. That's because there are a lot of nerves and blood vessels in that area that can be hurt along with the growth plate.

Sometimes, a growth plate fracture can also cause the bone to grow more, but this has the same result: One limb ends up longer than the other.

A less common problem is when a ridge develops along the fracture line. This can also interfere with the bone's growth or cause it to curve.

If the bone is sticking out of the skin, there's also a chance of infection, which can damage the growth plate even more.

Younger children are more likely to get complications because their bones still have a lot of growing to do. But one benefit is that younger bones tend to heal better.

There are treatments for growth plate injuries. If the fracture isn’t severe and the bone is still lined up correctly, your child's doctor might just put on a cast, splint, or brace. Your child won't be able to move his limb that way, which gives the growth plate time and space to heal.

What if the bones are not lined up correctly? Your child’s doctor will have to get them back in alignment by what is called “reduction.” Sometimes a doctor can line the bones back up by hand and sometimes it requires surgery.

If by hand, the doctor moves the bones back in line with his hands and not by cutting the skin. This is called "manipulation" and can be done in the emergency room or an operating room. Your child will get pain medication so he doesn't feel anything.

If your child needs surgery, It gets a little more complicated and takes anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple of months to heal. During surgery, the doctor cuts into the skin, puts the bones back in line, and puts in screws, wires, rods, pins, or metal plates to hold the pieces together. Your child will have to wear a cast until the bones heal.

If a ridge forms at the fracture line, your child's doctor may recommend surgery to remove the ridge. He can then pad the area with fat or another material to keep it from growing back.

Most of the time, kids get back to normal after a growth plate fracture without any lasting effects. One exception is if the growth plate is crushed. When that happens, the bone will almost always grow differently.

Once the injury has healed, your doctor may suggest exercises to strengthen the injured area.

Some children may need a second surgery called reconstructive surgery if the injury is serious enough.

If your child suffers a growth plate injury, he or she should have follow-up appointments for at least a year.  Once your doctor gives the OK, your child will be able to get back to the kinds of activities he or she enjoys.

Story source: Hansa D. Bhargava, MD, http://www.webmd.com/children/child-bone-fracture-16/growth-plate-fracture

 

Your Child

Gluten-Free Diet Not Recommended for Healthy Children

2:00

A “gluten-free “ label on a food product is one sure way to increase sales as the popularity of such items continues to rise.

For people with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, eating gluten can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, upset stomach and bloating. However, for healthy adults and particularly children, there are many reasons to avoid going gluten-free according to a commentary recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics, by Norelle Reilly.

Dr. Norelle Reilly is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center and the director of pediatric celiac disease in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

In a recent Time Magazine article, Reilly lays out four reasons why healthy children should not be on a gluten-free diet.

1. Gluten is not naturally toxic except for people with celiac disease, however, in almost all children, gluten travels through the intestine without causing disease and will never lead to problems. To date, science has not shown that there is a toxin in gluten that makes it bad for our bodies. A balanced diet containing fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and a variety of carbohydrate sources is the best way for healthy children to stay healthy, Reilly notes.

2. A gluten-free diet may not provide balanced nutrition for children. Some people assume that gluten-free food and healthy food as the same thing. Not necessarily so, says Reilly.

Many gluten-free substitutes for items such as breads and cookies are actually higher in fat and calories than gluten-containing varieties. Gluten-free items such as some cereals and breads may also not be nutrient fortified to the same degree as those with gluten. Folate and B-vitamins are often added to our usual starch staples, silently protecting people whose diets may not be very balanced from deficiency. Without these quiet sources of nutrition, vitamin deficiencies could develop, she writes.

Gluten-free foods are often fiber deficient, which is important for gastrointestinal health, including maintaining regular bowel movements. Quite commonly, children who initiate a gluten-free diet become constipated. Increased consumption of rice, a common gluten substitute, may also expose children to more arsenic in their diets, as arsenic is frequently present in the earth where rice is grown.

Reilly says that growing bodies and brains require balanced nutrition. For those children who need a gluten-free diet, balance can be implemented safely and healthfully with the guidance of an experienced registered dietitian to help avoid all of these and other nutritional pitfalls.

3. Have your child tested for celiac disease before putting them on a gluten-free diet. You can’t know for sure whether your child is gluten sensitive or has celiac disease until a physician has tested them. Symptoms alone are not enough to determine whether your child has celiac disease. Being on a gluten-free diet before having your child tested can make it more difficult to determine whether he or she actually does or does not have the disease.

Reilly suggests that if you are concerned that your child may have a problem with gluten, speak to your child’s doctor before banning it from your child’s diet. A child with celiac disease needs special monitoring over time and their family members may need to be tested. Even if you plan to give the diet a try regardless of the test result, it is extremely important for your child and family’s health to know why the diet is necessary.

4. A gluten-free diet is hard to maintain and expensive. For children who require this limited diet for long-term health, parents, schools, and the medical teamwork to make the child’s experience in school and at home as easy as possible.

Reilly notes that the children she has treated for celiac disease would trade in their gluten-free diet in an instant if they knew gluten would not make them sick.

In addition she adds, gluten-free foods are incredibly expensive and for many families the diet can be challenging to financially sustain in the long run.

Many adults prefer a gluten-free diet, but Reilly cautions that parents should check with their pediatrician or family doctor before putting their healthy children on the same eating plan.

Story source: Norelle Reilly, http://time.com/4329517/4-reasons-why-your-kids-should-not-be-gluten-free/

Your Child

Special Diet for Kids With Crohn Disease, Colitis

1:45

A special diet may help children with Chron disease and ulcerative colitis without the use of medications, according to a new study.

Chron disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that was once considered rare in children. It is now recognized as one of the most important chronic diseases that affect children and teens with approximately 20-30 percent of all patients with Chron presenting symptoms when they are younger than 20 years old.

The diet includes non-processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meats and nuts. Over 12 weeks, the diet appeared to ease all signs of these inflammatory bowel diseases in eight of the 10 affected children, researchers report.

"The study shows that without other intervention, other changes, we can improve individuals' clinical as well as laboratory markers," said study author Dr. David Suskind. He's a professor of pediatrics and director of clinical gastroenterology at Seattle Children's Hospital.

"I'm not surprised," Suskind added, "primarily because preliminary studies ... opened our eyes to the idea that diet had an impact."

Standard treatment for Chron disease and ulcerative colitis usually includes steroids and other immune-suppressing drugs. With severe symptoms, surgery is sometimes required to remove portions of the intestine.

Suskind and his team put the 10 patients, between the ages of 10 and 17, on a special diet. The diet is known as the specific carbohydrate diet. No other measures were used to treat the study participants' active Crohn's or ulcerative colitis.

The diet removes grains, most dairy products, and processed foods and sugars, except for honey. Those on the specific carbohydrate diet can eat nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats and nuts.

Suskind noted that scientists aren’t sure why the diet seems to work, but there are several theories.

First, it's known that diet affects the gut microbiome -- the array of bacteria in the digestive tract contributing to digestion and underlying the immune system .

"One of the likely reasons why dietary therapy works is it shifts the microbiome from being pro-inflammatory to non-inflammatory," he said.

"Another potential [reason] is there are a lot of additives in the foods we eat that can have an effect on the lining of the intestines. This diet takes out things deleterious to the mucus lining in the intestinal tract," Suskind said.

Other IBD researchers are praising the small study.

Dr. James Lewis is chief scientist for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America's IBD Plexus Program. He's helping lead national research in progress comparing the effectiveness of the specific carbohydrate diet to the so-called Mediterranean diet in inducing remission in patients with Crohn's disease. The Mediterranean diet stresses eating mostly plant-based foods.

Lewis praised Suskind's new study, noting that despite its small size, it adds to growing research suggesting a potential therapeutic benefit from the specific carbohydrate diet to inflammatory bowel patients.

"Even our most effective [standard] therapies leave a proportion of patients with persistently active disease or the inability to completely heal the intestine," Lewis said. "Because of that alone, we need other therapeutic approaches."

The study was published in the recent edition of the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

Story sources: Maureen Salamon, http://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/crohns-disease/news/20170109/special-diet-may-be-boon-for-kids-with-crohns-colitis#1

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/928288-overview

 

Your Child

More Kids Suffering ACL Injuries

2:00

Kids involved in sports like soccer, basketball and football are increasing their odds of damaging their knees, according to a new study.

A common knee injury — an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear — has steadily increased among 6- to 18-year-olds in the United States, rising more than 2 percent a year over the last two decades, researchers report.

These injuries peak in high school, said lead researcher Dr. Nicholas Beck, an orthopedic surgery resident at the University of Minnesota. Girls have a higher rate of ACL injuries, Beck added.

Sports like soccer and basketball often require the child to pivot or cut back and forth, putting stress on their ACL and risking a tear.  Contact sports like football can further increase the risk. But ACL tears can occur in tennis and volleyball, too.

The study didn’t look at why the injuries are on the rise, but co-author, Dr. Marc Tompkins, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Minnesota, has a theory.

“One potential cause is the year-round sports specialization that is occurring in kids at an earlier age,” Tompkins said.

Instead of playing a variety of sports and using different muscle groups, many kids are focusing on just one sport creating muscle fatigue and an increase for injury, Tompkins explained.

“Another potential cause is that children as athletes play with more intensity and force than 20 years ago, which may put the body at increased risk of injury,” he added.

The numbers of girls experiencing ACL tears are rising because their sports participation numbers are up.

Beck hopes this study will increase awareness of ACL tears in young athletes and promote interest in prevention programs or developing athletic participation guidelines.

The anterior cruciate ligament sits in the center of the front of the knee. It’s one of the ligaments that holds the knee bones together. When it tears, the ligament splits into two, causing knee instability, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

“ACL injuries are serious in the short term because they generally require six months’ to a year’s worth of hard recovery work before going back to sports. And even then it often takes longer to get back to pre-injury function,” Tompkins said.

“ACL injuries are serious in the long term, too, because we know that even if they recover well with or without surgery, the risk of developing arthritis in the injured knee is higher than before the injury,” he added.

Some sports medicine specialist say there are ways to reduce injuries among young athletes, by having coaches teach good running techniques that promote improved function and agility.

Children participating in sports can also benefit from flexibility and stretching programs.

The researchers found that girls of all ages experienced a significant increase in the incidence of ACL tears over 20 years. In boys, however, only those aged 15 to 16 showed such an increase.

The report was published online journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Steven Reinberg, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/acl-tears-on-the-rise-among-kids-especially-girls/

Your Child

Should More Kids Have Their Tonsils Removed?

2:00

Two new medical reviews suggest that more kids could benefit from having their tonsils removed if tonsillectomy guidelines were less stringent.

Currently, surgery qualifications require that a child must have many recurring throat infections within a short span of time or severe sleep disturbances, said Dr. Sivakumar Chinnadurai, a co-author of the reviews.

An evaluation of current medical evidence suggests more kids would receive significant short-term improvement in their daily life if the guidelines were relaxed, said Chinnadurai, a pediatric otolaryngologist with Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Chinnadural and his team found that children, who underwent a tonsillectomy even when they did not meet the guidelines, experienced nearly half as many sore throats. They also missed fewer days of school and were less likely to need extra medical care.

The benefits seemed to apply only to the first couple of years following surgery. By the third year, there was no clear benefit in terms of the number of sore throats, said Chinnadural. The benefits after the first couple of years following surgery, however, were impressive.

"The decision about whether those children should have tonsillectomy for that temporary benefit is really tied to what those children need or what they're suffering with," Chinnadurai said. Kids who miss a lot of school or need frequent trips to the doctor due to sore throats could benefit from the surgery, he said.

There's an even clearer benefit for kids whose sleep is disturbed due to inflamed tonsils, Chinnadurai said.

"In a child with a diagnosis of sleep apnea, we can see a benefit in sleep-related quality of life," he said. The kids get better sleep, and thus exhibit better everyday behavior and pay more attention in school.

Better sleep in children with sleep apnea can improve many aspects of their daily

lives.

Guidelines say a tonsillectomy to treat throat infections is justified if a child had seven or more sore throats during the previous year; five or more sore throats two years running, or three or more sore throats for three years in a row, according to the background notes.

The researchers decided to review whether the throat infection guidelines are too stringent, ruling out patients who potentially could benefit but don't meet the high threshold of recurring infections, Chinnadurai said.

There aren't strong guidelines regarding the use of tonsillectomy to treat sleep disorders, so the doctors reviewed the evidence to see whether the surgery outperformed so-called watchful waiting -- monitoring the situation.

The study results showed "there may be new evidence that supports expanding the criteria and opening up the procedure to more individuals," said Dr. Alyssa Hackett, an otolaryngologist with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

"In the right child with the right indications, these are really wonderful procedures that can be life-changing for both the child and the family," said Hackett, who wasn't involved with the new research.

Although the findings were positive, Chinnadural and Hackett both warned against automatically choosing a tonsillectomy when a child has a sore throat.

"Though a tonsillectomy is low-risk, it is not risk-free, and those risks need to be weighed against the benefits for each individual child," Chinnadurai said.

"We're talking about a child who has significant sleep-related issues," Hackett said. "We don't want people to say my child snores, they need to have their tonsils out. That's not what this study says at all."

Parents should discuss the risks and benefits of a tonsillectomy with their pediatrician if they are concerned about the amount of sore throats their child has, or if sleep apnea is diagnosed.

The two reports were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Dennis Thompson, https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/tonsillitis-news-669/should-more-kids-have-their-tonsils-out-718738.html

Your Child

Young Girls Less Likely to See Women as “Really, Really Smart”

2:00

One of the surprise box office hits this year is “Hidden Figures.” It’s based on the true story of a team of female African-American mathematicians at NASA in the late 50s and early 60s that helped launch the first U.S. astronaut into space. The women were brilliant but faced enormous challenges for acceptance because of their race and gender.

According to a new study, you might could say that there are millions of "hidden figures" in who young girls and boys’ perceive as someone who is “really, really smart.”

Researchers wanted to try and figure out why women are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields. While most women make the decision to pursue these courses in high school or college, the scientists found that children develop a stereotype of which gender is naturally smarter early in life.

The study involved 400 children, aged 5 to 7 and included a story told by Lin Bian, a co-author and psychologist at the University of Illinois.

“There are lots of people at the place where I work, but there is one person who is really special. This person is really, really smart,” said Bian. “This person figures out how to do things quickly and comes up with answers much faster and better than anyone else. This person is really, really smart.”

She then showed them pictures of four adults—two men and two women—and asked them to guess which was the protagonist of the story. She also gave them two further tests: one in which they had to guess which adult in a pair was “really, really smart”, and another where they had to match attributes like “smart” or “nice” to pictures of unfamiliar men and women.

The results were revealing.  The 5 year-old boys and girls associated the “smart” person with their own gender. But among those aged 6 or 7, only the boys still held to that view. At an age when girls tend to outperform boys at school, and when children in general show large positive biases towards their own in-groups, the girls became less likely than boys to attribute brilliance to their own gender.

As the boys continued to believe in their own intelligence, the girls – on average – tended to see everyone on more equal terms.

Bian also found that the older girls were less interested in games that were meant for “really, really smart” children.

The stereotype that brilliance and genius are male traits is common among adults. In various surveys, men rate their intelligence more favorably than women, and in a recent study of biology undergraduates, men overrated the abilities of male students above equally talented and outspoken women.

Bian’s study suggests that the seeds of this bias are planted at a very early age. Even by the age of 6, boys and girls are already diverging in who they think is smart.

The findings could help illuminate the challenge schools face in combating gender stereotypes, even though girls often outperform boys in school. Girls drop out of high school at a lower rate than boys. Women are more likely than men to enroll in college, and they earn more college degrees each year than men.

Other games were played and social tests were given during the study with similar results. The 5 year-olds were equally interested in participating, but the 6 and 7 year-old girls were less interested in the ones that relied on “being smart.” Both genders were attracted to the games requiring persistence and hard work.

In today’s business and scientific world, more educators, policymakers and corporations are making an effort to include women in leadership roles, but breaking through the stereotypes developed at such a young age can hinder girls and women in those and other disciplines.

Children model what they see. If they are raised in an environment that diminishes young girls’ achievements but rewards young boys for the same achievements, it often sets up a life-long struggle for them to feel and accept their own self-value. 

Teachers also play an important role in encouraging all children to reach their highest achievement level.

Young girls, as well as young boys, should be recognized for their intelligence and encouraged to pursue science, technology, engineering and math studies – the rest of the world will benefit.

The research can't explain how these messages are getting to kids or how they could be changed, says Andrei Cimpian, a professor of psychology at New York University and an author of the study, He is planning a long-term study of young children that would measure environmental factors, including media exposure and parental beliefs. That would give a better idea of what factors predict the emergence of stereotypes, and what levers are available to change attitudes.

The study was published in the journal Science.

Story sources:  Ed Yong, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/01/six-year-old-girls-already-have-gendered-beliefs-about-intelligence/514340/

Katherine Hobson, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/01/26/511801423/young-girls-are-less-apt-to-think-women-are-really-really-smart

Nick Anderson, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/01/26/research-shows-young-girls-are-less-likely-to-think-of-women-as-really-really-smart/?utm_term=.fc30e9030500&wpisrc=nl_sb_smartbrief

 

Your Child

Lawn Mower Safety Rules Haven’t Prevented Kid's Injuries

2:00

Spring, summer and fall are the times of year when you are most likely to hear the monotonous hum of mower blades echoing throughout neighborhoods.

It’s often the first job a young boy or girl acquires to earn a little extra money, but lawn mowing can come with high risk of injuries when kids and parents don’t follow some simple guidelines.

Despite recommendations presented by AAP, the incidence of lawn mower-related injuries in children has remained unchanged over the last two to three decades.

From 2004-’13, an average of 9,351 youths ages 20 years and younger suffered lawn mower-related injuries each year, according to a review of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

About one-third of the wounds occurred in children younger than 12. Two age groups sustained the most injuries, 3 years old and 16 years old and predominately male.

Areas of the body most commonly injured involved hand/fingers ((30%), lower extremity (17%) and face/eye (14%). Amputations and fractures combined accounted for 12.5% of injuries and were more likely to require hospitalization.

Although the incidence of injuries caused by ride-on mowers was 2.5 times higher than those caused by walk-behind mowers, the type of mower was not specified in over 70% of cases, making a true determination of relative risk nearly impossible.   

While fractures and amputations are the most dramatic injuries, they certainly are not the only ones reported. An analysis of NEISS data from 1990-2004 showed the majority of lawn mower injuries were cuts, other soft-tissue injuries and burns.

Also reported in the study were foreign body injuries. It’s hard to imagine, but the rotation of the blades on a typical 26-inch riding lawn mower is similar to the energy required to fire a bullet through the engine block of an automobile, according to the authors. The force certainly is enough to impale objects into a child’s body, even from a good distance away.  

The AAP warns that kids and parents should be aware of the precautions one should take before and during mowing to keep everyone safer.

Here are some mower-safety tips from the AAP:

•       Before learning how to mow the lawn, your child should show the maturity, good judgment, strength and coordination that the job requires. Kids should be at least 12 years of age to operate a walk-behind power mower or hand mower safely and 16 years of age to operate a riding lawn mower safely.

•       Children should be supervised until you are sure he or she can handle the job alone.

•       Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles, close-fitting clothes, safety goggles or glasses with side shields, and hearing protection.

•       Watch for objects that could be picked up and thrown by the mower blades, as well as hidden dangers. Tall grass can hide objects, holes or bumps. Use caution when approaching corners, trees or anything that might block your view.

•       If the mower strikes an object, stop, turn the mower off, and inspect the mower. If it is damaged, do not use it until it has been repaired.

•       Do not pull the mower backwards or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.

•       Use extra caution when mowing a slope.

•       When a walk-behind mower is used, mow across the face of slopes, not up and down, to avoid slipping under the mower and into the blades.

•       With a riding mower, mow up and down slopes, not across, to avoid tipping over.

•       Keep in mind that lawn trimmers also can throw objects at high speed.

•       Remain aware of where children are and do not allow them near the area where you are working. Children tend to be attracted to mowers in use.

Stop the engine and allow it to cool before refueling. Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before:

•       Crossing gravel paths, roads or other areas

•       Removing the grass catcher

•       Unclogging the discharge chute

•       Walking away from the mower

Some of the most heartbreaking accidents occur when small children – even infants- are allowed to “ride along” while their parents or grandparents are using a riding mower or small tractor.  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics show that each year, 800 children are run over by riding mowers or small tractors and more than 600 of those incidents result in amputation; 75 people are killed, and 20,000 injured; one in five deaths involves a child. For children under age 10, major limb loss is most commonly caused by lawn mowers. Never allow a child on a lawn mower or small tractor while you’re using it.

Mowing can be fun, a good source of income for adolescents and a help to families; so make sure to give an ounce of prevention to avoid having to receive a pound of cure.  

Story sources: http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/08/11/LawnMowers081116

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Lawnmower-Safety.aspx

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