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

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

Exaggerated Praise May Backfire!

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In the last couple of decades, self-esteem has been a hot topic when it comes to kids. Entire school programs have been changed in order to boost student’s self-esteem. Trophies are given to children, not for actually excelling in a task, but for simply showing up, so that kid’s self-esteem won’t be damaged by having to endure a loss.  Children are constantly being told “good job” as well as receiving an enormous amount of praise for doing nothing more than being a typical kid.

There’s a lot of debate at the PTA and on the sports field over what “self-esteem” actually means. Self-esteem is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as (1) A confidence and satisfaction in oneself, (2) An exaggerated opinion of one’s own abilities. 

A new study says that parents of children with low self-esteem may want to pull back on the inflated praise because all the ego stroking may be doing more harm than good. Researchers found that children who have low self-esteem may actually achieve less when they receive too much praise.  The team said that children with high self-esteem who are constantly lauded thrive, but those with lower self-esteem tend to run away from new challenges.

“Inflated praise can backfire with those kids who seem to need it the most – kids with low self-esteem,” said Eddie Brummelman, lead author of the study that was published in the journal Psychological Science.

Researchers said that inflated praise was characterized as containing an additional descriptive adjective. An example might be a parent telling their child “You’re incredibly perfect at that task!” Phrases like “You are good at this” were considered simple praise, but parents who said, “You’re incredibly good at this” were placed in the inflated praise category.

The study included 114 parents, 88 percent of whom were mothers. The parents participated in the study with their child, and before the study began the researchers used a test to determine the child’s self-esteem.

Parents administered 12 math exercises to their child for the study, and afterwards they scored how well their child did on the tests. The sessions were videotaped, and the researchers used these recordings to count how many times the parents praised their child.

Researchers found that parents of children in the low self-esteem group gave their children twice as much inflated praise than parents of the high self-esteem children.

The most common embellished praise statements included “You answered very fast!” and “Super good!” and “Fantastic!” The most common non-inflated praise statements were “You’re good at this” and “Well done!”

The team noted that parents praised their child an average of about 6 times during the session, and about 25 percent of that praise was inflated. 

“Parents seemed to think that the children with low self-esteem needed to get extra praise to make them feel better,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State. “It’s understandable why adults would do that, but we found in another experiment that this inflated praise can backfire in these children.”

So far it sounds like parents were just eager to assure their child that they were more than capable of handling the tasks. It’s something that many parents do almost out of habit. So, does all that extra praise really help?

In another experiment, 240 children were asked to draw a famous Vincent van Gogh painting and then received praise in the form of a note from someone identified as a professional painter. After the child received the note they were told to draw copies of other pictures that they could choose from. The children were given the option to either choose from pictures that were easy to do, or they could choose to draw more difficult pictures.

The team found after the second experiment that children with low self-esteem were more likely to choose the easier pictures if they received inflated praise in the note. Children with higher self-esteem were more likely to choose the more difficult pictures if they received inflated praise. Brummelman said children with low self-esteem may have gone for the easier challenge because they worry about meeting those high standards and decided not to take on any new challenges.

The lesson may be that children with low self-esteem need praise (like all of us), but require more realistic and simple praise.  They may feel like the inflated praise puts too high an expectation on them, while the simpler praise feels more authentic.

“It goes against what many people may believe would be most helpful,” Bushman said. “But it really isn’t helpful to give inflated praise to children who already feel bad about themselves.”

Source: Lee Rannals,  http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1113038014/inflated-praise-not-beneficial-for-all-kids-010214/#pdGaJuceet6Y0ywu.99

Your Child

Clone of Sodas and Juice Damaging to Kids’ Teeth

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Kids love them and so do many adults.  They are a billion dollar industry and come in all kinds of tasty flavors. Oh yeah, and they’re rotting your kid’s teeth.

A new study lays out the consequences that acidic drinks such as sodas, some juices and sports beverages can have on children’s teeth. It’s not good.

"Our research has shown that permanent damage to the tooth enamel will occur within the first 30 seconds of high acidity coming into contact with the teeth. This is an important finding and it suggests that such drinks are best avoided," study corresponding author Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar, of the Craniofacial Biology Research Group at the University of Adelaide in Australia, said in a university news release.

"If high acidity drinks are consumed, it is not simply a matter of having a child clean their teeth an hour or 30 minutes later and hoping they'll be OK -- the damage is already done," he added.

Fortunately, healthy mouths provide a certain amount of balance and protective mechanisms for teeth and gums. However, teeth can become damaged when the balance shifts to too much acid in the mouth.

High acidity drinks also can combine with other factors to cause major, irreversible damage to youngsters' teeth, according to Ranjitkar.

"Often, children and adolescents grind their teeth at night, and they can have undiagnosed regurgitation or reflux, which brings with it acidity from the stomach. Combined with drinks high in acidity, this creates a triple threat to young people's teeth which can cause long-term damage," he said.

This really isn’t new news, earlier studies have pointed out the link between sodas, acidic juice and kid’s tooth decay.  Youngsters that drink the most sodas also seem to have the most cavities. Many of the earlier studies have focused on the sugar content in these drinks and children’s cavities. This study looks more at the effects of the acid in the beverages on tooth enamel and the long-term consequences. Children are more susceptible to tooth decay because their tooth enamel is not fully developed.

Sodas, juice and sports drinks intake has gone up in the past generation, while the consumption of milk has gone down. I would have a hard time believing it if I hadn’t seen it myself, but some parents are replacing milk with soda in their baby’s bottle. "Dental erosion is an issue of growing concern in developed countries, and it is often only detected clinically after extensive tooth wear has occurred," Ranijitkar said. "Such erosion can lead to a lifetime of compromised dental health that may require complex and extensive rehabilitation -- but it is also preventable with minimal intervention."

Not only is tooth decay painful and long lasting, it’s expensive to repair. Sometimes genetics play a role in why some children seem to have more cavities than others in their age group, but too often it’s simply because parents are allowing their children to drink way too many beverages that are packed with sugar, carbonation and acid.

Everyone can have any of these drinks every once in awhile, there’s no need to forbid them for all time. But, every once in a while is the key. There are also a few tips to help lessen the damage to your child’s teeth.

Do:

  • Drink soda in moderation (no more than one 12 oz can a day)
  • Use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth
  • Swish your mouth out with water after drinking to dilute the acid and sugar if brushing your teeth is not possible.
  • Drink plenty of water (8 glasses a day)

DON’T:

  • Sip for extended periods of time
  • Drink soda shortly before bedtime
  • Brush after meals – wait at least an hour after your last drink or meal before brushing
  • Substitute soft drinks, sports drinks or fruit juice for a meal.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Dentistry.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/dental-and-oral-information-9/misc-dental-problem-news-174/acidic-drinks-can-damage-kids-teeth-permanently-690499.html

http://www.wda.org/your-oral-health/sip-all-day

Your Child

Grandparent Program Improves Children’s Behavior

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Grandparents usually look forward to spending time with their grandkids and are often the first call when parents need help with babysitting or time for themselves. While many grandparents are quite capable of overseeing their grandchildren, a refresher course in childcare and communication can offer resources grandparents may not have considered.

In a recent study conducted in Australia, researchers found that grandparents who participated in an updated grand-parenting program designed to encourage better communication between generations and give grandparents a parenting "refresher" course, reported fewer behavior problems among children.

"The main reason we wanted to focus on grandparents is that there still aren't that many parents getting involved with parenting programs," James Kirby, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.

The new program is an updated version of a similar program called the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program that has been available for about 30 years.  The sessions focus on parenting, the relationship between grandparents and parents and unhelpful emotions - such as anxiety, stress and anger. The program takes about 15 hours to complete. The newer version focuses on grandparents, last nine weeks and involves seven groups and two phone sessions.

For the new study, the researchers recruited 54 older people who were providing at least 12 hours of care per week to grandchildren who were between ages two and nine.

Twenty-eight grandparents were randomly assigned to participate in the program. The others served as a comparison group.

All of the grandparents and parents periodically completed questionnaires about the children's behavior, their own parenting styles and confidence and the grandparents' adjustment.

At the beginning of the study, all of the children scored similarly on a scale that measures the severity of behavior problems between 0 and 36 and the frequency of those problems between 36 and 252. Higher scores indicate worse behavior.

The children whose grandparents participated in the program began the study with an average behavior severity score of about 13 points and a frequency score of about 122 points. Those fell to about 7 and 101 points, respectively, after the program.

Among children whose grandparents didn't participate in the program, behavior severity scores remained the same at about 11 points throughout the study. Scores reflecting frequency of behavior problems increased from about 116 points at the start to about 119 at the end.

None of the average scores for either group reached the cutoff for clinical significance, however. At that point, children should possibly be examined for behavior disorders or other conditions.

The standout changes noted in the research were that the grandparents who participated in the study reported improved confidence and less depression, anxiety and stress, compared to those who didn’t take part in the program. "We're helping with the grandparents' own mental health," Kirby said. "And - at the same time - we're also helping to reduce the child behavior problems."

Six month after the sessions, the results from the program continued to hold true.

The ultimate goal, Kirby said, is to create a shorter version of the program. But they're already in the process of turning the resources from their study into published resources for people to use.

"Don't undervalue the contribution of grandparents," Kirby said. "They can have a significant influence on the improvement of child behavior."

A lot has change since people of grand-parenting age raised their own children. Safety guidelines, such as making sure a baby sleeps on his or her back, have been updated, as well as other safety precautions that were not known twenty to thirty years ago.  Parenting 101 courses are available in many cities and can be found through Internet searches or talking with a family doctor. These are great refresher courses for grandparents to check out.

Many families simply couldn’t get by without the help of their parents. Grandparents around the world step up when called upon, sometimes raising their grandchildren when parents are either not able to or are no longer alive.  They deserve a big hug and thank you. Oftentimes, they add a positive dimension to a child’s development and life they would not otherwise receive.

Source: Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/16/us-grandparents-child-behavior-idUSBRE9BF1EZ20131216

 

Your Child

Kid’s Cereals Packed with Artificial Dyes

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In general, the brighter the color in processed foods, the higher the amount of artificial dyes says a new study. Processed foods include, but are not limited to, cereals, candy and cakes; the mighty three Cs that children love.

Previous studies have suggested that some children may be sensitive to artificial coloring or the preservatives that often accompany it. Dyes have also been linked to inattention and hyperactivity.

For the new study, researchers bought and tested common processed foods to find out how much artificial coloring they included.

“Very few of these products were nutritious,” said Laura J. Stevens, who worked on the study at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The study noted that the amount certified of artificial dyes in processed foods has risen from 12mg/capita/d in 1950 to 62 mg/capita /d in 2010.

Children probably consume more of the heavily dyed foods, since bright colors appeal to kids, Stevens said.

Among popular children’s breakfast cereals, Fruity Cheerios, Trix and Cap’n Crunch OOPS! All Berries contained the most artificial dyes. These foods also had some of the highest sugar contents.

When you read the labels on some of these products you may see numbers after the dye such as: Red #40, Yellow #6, Yellow #5 or Blue #1. Numbered artificial colors are derived from petroleum, Stevens noted. Most of the brightly colored cereals contain numbered dyes. However, some cereals like Special K Red Berries and Berry Berry Kix were colored with strawberries or fruit juice and contained no artificial coloring.

Candies, cakes and colored icings also had large amounts of artificial dyes. M&M’s Milk Chocolate included almost 30 milligrams and a packet of original Skittles came in at 33 milligrams.

“Some white foods have dye, like marshmallows, and French dressing and cherry pie fillings actually had color enhancers too,” Stevens said.

She also noted “There are also dyes in pediatric medicines, personal care products, mouthwash and toothpaste”.

General Mills, Mars and the Grocery Manufacturers Association all responded to the report that the dyes they use are safe and within the bounds of current regulations. Each mentioned that the FDA has reviewed artificial dyes extensively and have affirmed their safety.

Many of the studies on artificial colors and behavioral problems were done decades ago and used dosages lower than what kids might actually be eating today, according to Joel Nigg. He studies attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

“The dosages were average at that time but weren’t very high by today’s standard,” Nigg told Reuters Health. “Many of the studies have found fairly small effects, but we may be underestimating compared to what children actually get these days.”

Some kids respond to higher amounts of dyes with inattention, hyperactivity, irritability, temper tantrums or trouble sleeping, but researchers don’t understand why or how, Stevens said.

Those behavioral problems don’t manifest in all kids, but tend to be more common among those who already have behavioral issues, like kids with ADHD.

Stevens recommends that parents read the labels of the food products they buy for their kids and avoid artificial colorings entirely. 

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/20/us-food-artificial-colors-idUSKBN0E01UR20140520

Your Child

Regular Bedtime May Help Improve Kids’ Behavior

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Will maintaining a regular bedtime for your child improve his or her behavior? A new study suggests that kids with a consistent bedtime tend to have fewer behavioral problems than kids whose bedtimes change constantly.

"If you are constantly changing the amounts of sleep you get or the different times you go to bed, it's likely to mess up your body clock," said Yvonne Kelly, who led the study.

"That has all sorts of impacts on how your body is able to work the following day," Kelly, from University College London, told Reuters Health.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 10,000 children. Participants were part of a long-term study of babies born in the UK in 2000 to 2002. As a part of the study, parents were regularly surveyed about their child's sleep and behavioral problems.

Children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder, were not included in the study.

The children’s ages appeared to have an influence on whether parents insisted on a regular bedtime. 20 percent of children, aged three, did not have a consistent bedtime. The percentage dropped for older children. Nine percent of five-year-olds and eight percent of seven year-olds had inconsistent bedtimes.

Kids without a regular bedtime tended to score worse on a measure of behavior problems such as acting unhappy, getting into fights and being inconsiderate. The assessment is scored from 0 to 40, with higher scores indicating more problems.

When children were seven years old, for example, those without a regular bedtime scored an 8.5, on average, based on their mothers' reports. That compared to scores between 6.3 and 6.9 for kids who had a consistent bedtime before 9 p.m.

Although the percentage points were small, researchers felt that the difference was still “meaningful.”

The children’s teachers were also asked to be part of the study and to give their assessment of the participants’ behaviors. They also gave worse scores for the children without regular bedtimes.

Kids whose parents said they had non-regular bedtimes on every survey growing up had the most behavioral issues, Kelly's team reported in the journal Pediatrics.

But when children went from having a non-regular bedtime to a regular bedtime on the following survey, their behavior scores improved.

That is encouraging, Kelly said, because it shows parents can make changes to affect their child's behavior.

For an outline of how much sleep children need at different ages, The National Sleep Foundation provides an outline at their website at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep

A few thoughts about studies:

Studies don’t always determine a direct causation between a subject and an outcome.

While not perfect, individual studies do provide sections of data to see where there may be a link to an outcome. The link is an opportunity to give the connection more thought. It’s not black and white – it’s a possibility.

Some people prefer conclusions to be definite. Either it’s a fact or it isn’t. But many times facts change as education evolves.

Whenever there is a study published that “suggests” a correlation between the researcher’s conclusion and the study’s subject matter, some people simply dismiss the study. Those people want a direct causation determined by the study, one without any doubts.

Studies offer a variety of insights into causation. No one study will ever prove all there is to know about an outcome. But they are helpful tools in learning more about a subject.

Source: Generva Pittman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/14/us-bedtimes-kids-behavior-idUSBRE99D02720131014

Your Child

Back-to-School Tips

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As summer break begins to wind down, preparations for a new school year are gearing up.  Whether it’s the first day of school for your little one or your teen’s last year of high school, making the transition from vacation to a daily schedule requires some pre-planning.

Typically, the most difficult changeover for everyone is getting used to a regulated bedtime routine. Getting enough sleep will help family members handle the switch better. I know that’s much easier said than done, but it's worth the effort. The time to make the change is now. 

As Dr. Sue recently pointed out in a kidsdr.com Daily Dose article, now is the time to get started preparing for school. “In order to try and minimize grouchy and tired children (and parents too) during those first days of school, going to bed on time will be a necessity. Working on re-adjusting betimes now will also make the transition from summer schedule to school schedule a little easier. If your children have been staying up later than usual, try pushing the bedtime back by 15 minutes each night and gradually shifting the bedtime to the “normal” hour. At the same time, especially for older children, you will need to awaken them a little earlier each day to re-set their clocks for early morning awakening.”

The first day of school for kindergarteners and / or first-graders can be unsettling for the kids and the parents. Here are a few ways you can help your child face the uncertainty:

  • Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. This may be at any age. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
  • Point out the positive aspects of starting school.  She'll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
  • Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your student can walk to school or ride on the bus.
  • If it is a new school for your child, attend any available orientations and take an opportunity to tour the school with your child before the first day.
  • If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or walk with him or her) to school and pick them up on the first day.

If your child will be riding a school bus, there are some basic safety rules to go over:

  • Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
  • Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
  • Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
  • Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required.
  • Your child should stay seated and not move around on the bus.
  • If your child's school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus.
  • If your child's school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school system to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts.

Some children live close enough to their school so that they can walk. While many parents may have made the trip back and forth to school by foot when they were kids, today’s children are often crossing streets that are packed with the kind of heavy traffic we never had to deal with.

In this day and age, more and more drivers are distracted by cell phone use, applying make-up, shaving, eating and basically doing a lot of other things than just driving. So it’s important that parents and children take a few extra precautions:

  • Make sure your child's walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
  • Identify other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.  In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider organizing a "walking school bus," in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
  • Be realistic about your child's pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Bright-colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

Nutrition is an important factor in children doing well in school. Make sure your child has a healthy breakfast before heading out the door. Studies have shown that children who eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches are more alert throughout the school day and earn higher grades than those who have an unhealthy diet. 

Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home and/or have them posted on the school's website. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.

Avoid packing lunches with empty calories such as sodas or sweets. Instead, include water or juice or purchase a milk card from the school’s meal program. On lunch packing days, include your child’s favorite fruits and vegetables and make sure that they have plenty of protein such as peanut butter, reduced-fat cheese, tuna, lean (non-processed) meats or poultry, or hard-boiled eggs. Hummus or black bean dip is full of filling fiber and protein.

Don’t forget to keep it cold. For safety's sake, pack lunch with a reusable ice pack. Better yet, freeze a small water bottle or box of 100% juice. Your child will have a slushy drink to enjoy at lunch and won't have to worry about bringing an ice pack home.

Back-to-school- shopping, new schedule arrangements, homework time and space, inoculations, after-school sports and activities – they’re all part of a new school year.

One way to help keep everyone on track is with a calendar that is placed where everyone can see it and update it.

Here’s to a new school year full of learning,exciting experiences and good grades!

Source: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Back-to-School-Tips.aspx

Your Child

Concussion Symptoms Continue Long After Injury

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Symptoms such as headache, dizziness and blurry vision typically show up right after a child suffers a concussion. In a study from the emergency medicine division at Boston Children’s Hospital, researchers have found that emotional and mental symptoms, such as irritability and frustration may show up much later and hang around longer.

 "Patients and their families should expect the physical symptoms that they experience after a head injury to get better over the next few weeks, but that emotional symptoms may come on later, even as the physical symptoms subside," said lead researcher Dr. Matthew Eisenberg.

"Only by knowing what symptoms can be expected after a concussion can we help reassure patients and families that what they experience is normal, know when to seek additional help, and make sure that children are taking appropriate precautions in regard to school and sports to achieve a full recovery," Eisenberg added.

For the study, 235 children and young adults, ages 11 to 22, who were treated for concussion at a pediatric ER, answered questionnaires about their injury and were followed for three months after their visit. Patients were monitored until all their symptoms were gone. During that time they were asked about symptoms, sports activity and school and athletic performance.

The most common physical symptoms were headache, dizziness and fatigue, which tended to start right after the injury and got better over time. Researchers found that most of the children also had mental symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating and taking longer to think.

Eisenberg’s team noted that a majority of the children recovered within two weeks, however, 25 percent still had headaches a month after their injury. More than 20 percent said they were fatigued and 20 percent reported taking longer to think.

For many, emotional symptoms -- such as frustration and irritability -- were not as common right after the injury, but developed later, the study authors noted.

Dr. John Kuluz, director of traumatic brain injury and neurorehabilitation at Miami Children's Hospital, said, "It takes longer than people think to fully recover from a concussion. My experience is that kids who still have symptoms two weeks after a concussion are going to have a very hard time, and it's going to be a struggle to get them to the point where they have no symptoms."

Kuluz recommends that parents make sure concussion symptoms are not ignored and their kids receive prompt and continued treatment. He suggests physical therapy to work on balance and helping with any vision problems.

He also recommends keeping children out of school for a couple of days after the injury and then gradually letting them get back to normal activities.

Kuluz tries to get kids back to school for half a day or as much as they can tolerate until they get better. Children should not start sports again until all symptoms have disappeared and then only gradually, he added.

This study was published online and in print in the journal Pediatrics.

Another recent study looked at the effects of concussion and years of repeated hits to the brains of college football players.

Researchers found that players who had been diagnosed with concussions and those who had been playing football for years had smaller hippocampuses – a part of the brain that is critical to memory. A smaller hippocampus has been linked to depression, schizophrenia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The symptoms of CTE, which tend to set in years after the last traumas, often include memory loss, aggression and dementia.

“Boys hear about the long-term effect on guys when they’re retired from football, but this shows that 20-year-olds might be having some kind of effect,” said Patrick Bellgowan, the study’s senior author from the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Concussion studies seem to be popping up everywhere, and for good reason. For too many years, a concussion injury wasn’t given much attention. The common train of thought was that if you play rough sports and you get hit - you shake it off and get back in the game. That philosophy applied whether you were 10 or 30 years old.

Then professional players began to exhibit early onset dementia and depression. Teens began to complain of constant headaches and feeling out of sorts. College players had difficulty concentrating and vision problems.

Parents demanded answers and researchers began looking at concussion and its long-term impact on the brain. The new studies shed a bright light on why these symptoms were troubling.

Most young athletes will not become professional players in their chosen sport or even play on college teams. Eventually, the helmets and pads will be passed on to the next group of excited young athletes and children will choose other activities or graduate into   the “real world”.

What these types of studies tell us is that long after the games are over, children who suffer concussions may experience serious long-term effects.

The symptoms can be so similar to typical teen behavior that they get overlooked. Kids get headaches, they get tired, they forget things and they have emotional outbursts. But if your child has suffered a concussion or even a very hard hit and you notice these symptoms don’t go away, take him or her to see a concussion specialist. They may or not be related to a more serious brain injury, but a missed opportunity for treatment may change your child’s future in ways that no one ever expected.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/general-health-information-16/injury-health-news-413/kids-concussion-symptoms-can-linger-long-after-injury-687715.html

Andrew M. Seaman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/13/us-brain-health-football-idUSKBN0DT24720140513

 

 

 

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