Your Child

Fluids Can Help Fight a Cold or the Flu

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I hear it just about everywhere I go. People telling me that either they’ve just got over a bad cold or their child has. Most parents I know pick up a cold from their child who brings it home after catching it from another child at school. That’s how these things go… you have it, I have it, we all have it. And yes, I just got over a bad cold.

One of the ways you can help your child recover a little faster from a cold is to make sure he or she has plenty of fluids. Fluids can prevent dehydration and thin mucus, helping to unclog a stuffy nose.

What fluids will help? Good choices are:

-       Water. Water is the easiest fluid to offer a sick child. Bottled or tap water is fine.

-       Fruit juices. Fruit juice is also a good choice when your child isn’t feeling well, but remember that some juices can be too acidic on an upset tummy and a little harsh on a sore throat. It’s probably best to hold off on citric juices like orange and pineapple till your little one is well. Apple or grape juice may be more soothing. If your child is dehydrated, get an oral rehydration solution like Pedialyte or Infalyte instead. Fruit juice doesn’t have the right mix of sugar and salts to treat dehydration.

-       Decaffeinated tea. Tea is a good choice when your child has a sore throat. A warm cup of tea with a little honey is comforting to a sore throat and can help ease coughing. If you add honey make sure that your child is over 1 year old.

-       Milk. Many people believe that milk can “sour the stomach” when your=’re sick. Not true. Milk does not cause a sour stomach or mucus build-up. In fact, the protein, calories, and fat in milk can help keep up your sick child's strength.

Are there fluids your child should avoid? Caffeinated drinks never good for a child whether they or sick or not. Sugary drinks and sodas are not a first choice, but if that’s all your sick child will drink, it may be ok to make an exception for now – but encourage your child to try one of the alternatives listed above first.

Sometimes being sick and achy can make your appetite for food and drink go away. If that happens you’ll have to get creative. Popsicles are a good alternative to a glass of juice or water. Either make or buy popsicles with real fruit juice instead of sugar water. Use a cookie cutter to make fun gelatin shapes. And then there is the tried and true chicken soup. Some studies also show that chicken soup -- your grandmother's home remedy -- really may fight inflammation and help with colds.

How much fluid does your child need? It really depends on his or her weight and age.

Some experts say that children over age 1 need as many as 4 to 5 cups of fluid a day –with a combination of both drinks and foods. If your child is older or weighs more, she will need more. Also, a dehydrated child will need more fluid. Ask your doctor for advice ideally before your child is sick so you can be prepared.

Dehydration can be a serious side effect from being ill. Some indications that your child may be dehydrated are:

-       Not playing as much as usual.

-       Not urinating as much as usual.

-        Dry mouth.

-        Crying without tears.

-        Sleepiness or listlessness.

-       Fussiness or crying more than usual.

We are in the middle of the flu and cold season, so there’s a good possibility that your child may catch a bug. If you suspect he or she is dehydrated contact your pediatrician or general practitioner to see what treatment is recommended. Otherwise, a glass of fruit juice, water, or a cup of warm tea make just be what the doctor ordered. 

Source: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/treat-symptoms-12/cold-flu-dhydration-f

Your Child

Bullying Tied to Suicide Thoughts and Attempts

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The emotional pain of being bullied can lead some kids to think about killing themselves and others to follow through with actually attempting suicide. Sadly, far too many young kids and adolescents have succeeded in ending their lives because of the hurtful actions, mean words and cyber aggression of others.

Some people may assume that bullying is just a part of growing up and relatively harmless, but a new analysis of previously published studies on bullying, found that school children who are bullied are more than twice as likely to think about killing themselves and to attempt suicide as children who are not bullied.

Researchers also found that cyber-bullying, such as harassment over the Internet, was more closely linked to suicidal thoughts than in-person bullying.

"We found that suicidal thoughts and attempted suicides are significantly related to bullying, a highly prevalent behavior among adolescents," Mitch van Geel told Reuters Health in an email.

Van Geel is the study's lead author from the Institute of Education and Child Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

He said it's estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of children and teens are involved in bullying as the perpetrator, victim or both.

Studies have discovered links between bullying and suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, but there are still a lot of questions left that need answering.

Cyber-bullying is a relatively new phenomenon, in research and analysis time, so fewer studies have been completed. 

For this latest analysis, published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found 34 studies that examined bullying and suicidal thoughts among 284,375 participants between nine and 21 years old.

They also found nine studies that examined the relationship between bullying and suicide attempts among 70,102 participants of the same age.

Overall, participants who were bullied were more than twice as likely to think about killing themselves. They were also about two and a half times more likely to attempt killing themselves.

In one study included in the analysis, researchers found that about 3 percent of students from New York State who were not bullied thought about or attempted suicide. That compared to 11 percent of students who were frequently bullied.

The extra risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts tied to bullying was similar among participants of different age groups and among boys and girls.

In the handful of studies on cyber-bullying, researchers found that those victims were more likely to have suicidal thoughts than kids who experienced traditional face-to-face bullying.

"At this point, this is speculative and more research is definitely needed on cyber-bullying," van Geel wrote.

It could be, however, that cyber-bullying victims feel belittled in front of a wider audience and may relive the attacks because they are stored on the Internet, he added.

Some experts have cautioned that the studies included in the analysis don’t prove a causal connection between being bullied and suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts among the participants. As one noted researcher explained, it could be, for example, that kids who attempt or think about suicide are more likely to be bullied.

Many schools have implemented no-bullying policies and programs to help children who are targets of bullying have a voice and a safe place to talk and receive counseling.

Those steps have helped bring attention to the problem of bullying in some schools. However, it may take a change in adolescent attitude and societal pressure to make bullying lose its power.

"There are now meta-analyses that demonstrate that bullying is related to depression, psychosomatic problems and even suicide attempts, and thus we should conclude that bullying is definitely not harmless," said van Geel.  

Source: Andrew M. Seaman,  http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/10/us-bullying-among-kids-idUSBREA291JS20140310

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

Parents Beware! Ads for Concussion Supplements

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Dietary supplement companies are tuned into the concerns parents have about their children and sports related concussions. They often promise that their supplements provide faster brain healing and less time spent away from sport activities.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that dietary supplements that claim to prevent, treat or cure concussions are untested, unproven and possibly dangerous.

The agency said in a news release that companies attempting to exploit parents’ increasing concerns about concussions often sell their products on the Internet and in stores.

The products are also being marketed on social media sites.

One common misleading claim is that these dietary supplements promote faster brain healing after a concussion. Even if some of these products don't contain harmful ingredients, the claim itself can be dangerous, explained Gary Coody, National Health Fraud Coordinator at the FDA.

"We're very concerned that false assurances of faster recovery will convince athletes of all ages, coaches and even parents that someone suffering from a concussion is ready to resume activities before they are really ready," he said in the news release.

"Also, watch for claims that these products can prevent or lessen the severity of concussions or [traumatic brain injuries]," he added.

Many concussions occur during the time that kids are playing fall sports. Right now is the prime marketing time for these types of products and the FDA wants parents to be aware that replacing medical advice with supplements could lead to serious health problems for their children.

Head injuries require proper diagnosis, treatment and monitoring by a medical professional, the FDA stressed. There is mounting evidence that if concussion patients resume playing sports too soon, they're at increased risk for another concussion.

If a child is on the field and playing too soon after a concussion, repeat concussions are more likely to occur. Repeat concussions can lead to severe problems such as brain swelling, permanent brain damage, long-term disability and death.

"There is simply no scientific evidence to support the use of any dietary supplement for the prevention of concussions or the reduction of post-concussion symptoms that would allow athletes to return to play sooner," Charlotte Christin, acting director of the FDA's division of dietary supplement programs, said in the news release.

Many of the dietary supplements boast omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils and spices, such as turmeric, as their “secret weapon”. While these products may be beneficial for some heath concerns, the FDA wants parents to know that they are not helpful as far as concussions are concerned.

Two companies making false claims about their products changed their websites and labeling after the FDA sent them warning letters in 2012. The FDA issued a warning letter in 2013 to a third company that was doing the same.

"As we continue to work on this problem, we can't guarantee you won't see a claim about [traumatic brain injuries]," Coody said. "But we can promise you this: There is no dietary supplement that has been shown to prevent or treat them. If someone tells you otherwise, walk away."

Source: http://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/concussions-news-733/concussion-products-fda-release-691109.html

Your Child

Music May Help Children Feel Less Pain

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The modified saying “Music soothes the savage beast” may have new applications in the modern world of medicine. New research suggests that music may help some children experience less discomfort when dealing with low level or moderate pain.

Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada have found additional evidence that suggest music decreases people’s perceived sense of pain.

Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry researcher, Lisa Hartling, led the research team that involved her colleagues from the Department of Pediatrics, as well as fellow researchers from the University of Manitoba and the United States. Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Pediatrics.

During the research phase, some of the children listened to music while getting an IV, while others did not. The team noted that the children in the music group had less pain than the children in the other group after certain procedures.

Researchers measured the children's distress, perceived pain levels, and heart rates.

They also measured the satisfaction levels of parents, and the satisfaction levels of the healthcare providers who administered the IVs.

"We did find a difference in the children's reported pain -- the children in the music group had less pain immediately after the procedure," says Hartling. "The finding is clinically important and it's a simple intervention that can make a big difference. Playing music for kids during painful medical procedures would be an inexpensive and easy-to-use intervention in clinical settings."

Researchers noted that the children who listened to music reported significantly less pain, some demonstrated significantly less distress, and the children's parents were more satisfied with care.

In the music listening group, 76 per cent of health-care providers said the IVs were very easy to administer -- a markedly higher number than the non-music group where only 38 per cent of health-care providers said the procedure was very easy. Researchers also noticed that the children who had been born premature experienced more distress overall.

The mood of the music, whether it contained lyrics and whether it was familiar to the child also played an important role in how helpful the music intervention was.

"There is growing scientific evidence showing that the brain responds to music and different types of music in very specific ways," said Hartling. "So additional research into how and why music may be a better distraction from pain could help advance this field."

Hartling and her team hope to continue their research in this area, to see if music or other distractions can make a big difference for kids undergoing other painful medical procedures. The pain and distress from medical procedures can have "long-lasting negative effects" for children, the researchers said.

On a more practical daily basis, next time your little one needs a shot or has to undergo something uncomfortable, it might be worth a try to crank up his or her favorite song to see of it relieve some of the pain and anxiety.

You never know, it may just help.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130715164803.htm

Your Child

Unnecessary X-Rays for Kids

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Too many children are receiving unnecessary x-rays for symptoms such as vomiting, feeling ill and fainting says a new study from the Mayo Clinic.

"Chest X-rays can be a valuable exam when ordered for the correct indications. However, there are several indications where pediatric chest X-rays offer no benefit and likely should not be performed to decrease radiation dose and cost," said study author Dr. Ann Packard, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Researchers looked at the reasoning behind 637 chest x-rays given to children from newborns to 17 years- old between 2008 and 2014. They found that 88 percent of the x-rays given to children did not have an impact on treatment they receive.

What kinds of symptoms were children displaying when they were given an x-ray?  Kids and infants had chest pain, fainting, dizziness, cyclical vomiting, and a general feeling of being unwell or under distress (spells). Another problem stated was a condition called "postural orthostatic hypotension," in which blood pressure drops suddenly when a person stands up after sitting or lying down.

X-rays are often given when a physician suspects someone may have pneumonia or a bronchial infection.

Thirty-nine of the x-rays for chest pain were positive for pneumonia, bronchial inflammation, trauma or other conditions, according to the findings scheduled for presentation in Chicago Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. But chest X-rays had no effect on treatment for any of the children with fainting, postural orthostatic hypotension, dizziness, spells or cyclical vomiting.

Radiation in children is a concern. Many pediatricians and experts recommend limiting the exposure to radiation in children when possible. These procedures can also be expensive for families.

"This study addresses both of these issues, which is important not only for physicians but also for young patients and their parents," Packard noted in a society news release.

"I would like this research to help guide clinicians and deter them from ordering unnecessary exams which offer no clinical benefit to the patient," she added.

Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

If a doctor recommends x-rays for your child, be sure and ask specifically why they believe the x-ray is needed and what impact they believe it will have on your child’s treatment.

Possible broken bones need x-rays, trouble breathing could need an x-ray to look for infection or pneumonia. Your doctor may have a perfectly sound reason for ordering an x-ray, but you may want to know ahead of time exactly what it will tell your physician before agreeing.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20141203/many-kids-exposed-to-unneeded-x-rays-study-finds

Your Child

Building Strong Bones in Boys and Girls

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Children that get plenty of physical activity when they are young, tend to develop strong healthy bones. The benefits can last well into young adulthood.

A new study found that as children age into adolescence their physical activity levels drop, but the advantages of early exercise remain.

“What parents do to make sure kids are active today matters down the road,” said Kathleen Janz, the study’s lead author from the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

“When you accumulate physical activity as a child, you end up with what looks like better bone as an adolescent,” she told Reuters Health.

Participants in the research were part of the Iowa Bone Development Study, an ongoing study of bone health during childhood and young adulthood. The children had been recruited for that study between 1998 and 2002 when they were about five years old.

At ages five, eight, 11, 13, 15 and 17 years old, the 530 participants wore a device called an accelerometer for four or five consecutive days, including one weekend day, to measure their physical activity whenever they were awake.

When the participants were 17 years old, researchers used bone scans to measure the density, strength and brittleness of their bones. They also used pictures from the scans to estimate the precise geometry of the teenagers’ bone shape, a crucial factor in bone strength.

Researchers found what has sadly become the norm for many kids these days:

-       During childhood, less than 6 percent of the girls were highly active and by their late teens, almost all had become inactive.

-       Boys were more active than girls, but also became much less active as teens.

On average, girls went from being active for 46 to 48 minutes a day in early childhood to being active for just 24 minutes a day as 17-year-olds.

Among boys, activity levels fell from 60 to 65 minutes a day at the beginning of the study to an average of 36 minutes a day by the end.

At age 17, both boys and girls who had been the most active throughout their lives had denser bones and better bone shape than other participants their age that had been less active.

Janz acknowledges that it can be difficult to get teens up and moving.

“In an ideal world, children are active and maintain their activity into retirement, but this activity declines dramatically during adolescence, which is ironically a time when bone is most responsive to activity,” she said.

“It is not all that difficult for kids to be active, whereas sometimes getting adolescents to be active can be more difficult. They have different ideas as to how to spend their leisure time,” Janz said.

What kinds of exercise work best for kids to build strong bones? Janz says that running and jumping are great for building strong bones, but any activity is better than none.

The National Osteoporosis Society UK, also offers these five tips for kid’s bone building activities:

-       Team sports such as football or netball are good for getting children involved in fitness at a young age.

-       Skipping works well because it adds some impact to bones. Aim for 50 jumps a day or skipping for five minutes each day.

-       Jogging builds bone in both the hip and spine in younger people.

-       Tennis or badminton are more high-impact and enjoyable sports that build bone density.

-       Dancing and exercising to music are fun ways to boost bone health as well.

Parents hold the key to helping their children develop good exercise habits. These habits can offer benefits throughout their lives. Study after study reveals that kids are more likely to want to participate in and learn about fitness when they see their parents setting a good example.

Sources: Allison Bond MD, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/05/us-kids-exercise-bone-health-idUSKBN0EG1Q820140605

http://www.nos.org.uk/~/document.doc?id=500

Your Child

Sports Video Games May Help Kids Lose Weight

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Video games are often blamed for an increase in childhood obesity, but a new study suggests that certain types of games may actually assist kids in losing weight. Sports video games that require kids to actively participate may actually offer obese or overweight kids a new tool to help drop those extra pounds. 

The 16 - week study, sponsored by United Health Group, showed that overweight kids who expended energy by playing bowling, soccer or track and field video games, compared to those that simply followed a weight loss program, lost more than two and half times their Body Mass Index (BMI). That’s a pretty remarkable loss.

The study was based on a trial weight loss program that the United Health Group launched in 2011. The program is called Join for Me.

Join for Me borrows from the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program, conducted by the National Institutes of Health. It demonstrated that healthy eating and regular exercise along with counseling were more effective than medication at preventing diabetes. The success of that study led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch a similar 16-week program for adults in partnership with the YMCA and UnitedHealth. “Why not use the same winning formula?” says Deneen Vojta, a pediatrician in charge of clinical affairs at UnitedHealth, and a principal investigator on the JOIN for ME study.

Voita and other researchers decided to add sports video games to the weight loss program, hoping it would prod kids, ages 8 to 12, to increase their activity. Of the 75 kids in the program, 34 were given Microsoft’s Xbox 360 consoles and received two games, Kinnect Adventures and Kinnect Sorts.

Notably, children did not receive instructions on how long to use the games. Although Vojta doesn’t know whether the kids exercised the whole time in front of a screen, that group registered an additional 7.4 minutes a day in moderate to vigorous activity, which could translate into a yearly loss of four pounds of fat.

Although the results were impressive, two drawbacks remain; the games and console are expensive and kids often get bored with and tend to stop playing them after awhile.

Vojta is considering offering JOIN for ME online, which could lower costs, and make it more widely available. “No one believes that gaming 
is going to solve obesity,” she says.  “It’s a signal for the health care and gaming industries that although passive screen time contributed to obesity, it could contribute to a solution.”

These kinds of sports games are not a quick fix for kids who typically do not get much exercise, eat a diet high in calories and fat and are overweight or obese. However, entertaining video games that require active physical participation might be a good additional tool to help overweight children slim down. 

Source: Zina Moukheiber, http://www.forbes.com/sites/zinamoukheiber/2014/03/03/unitedhealth-study-shows-sports-video-games-help-children-lose-weight/

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

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