Your Child

More “Little League Shoulder and Elbow” Injuries Showing Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

League Age and pitches rules are:

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

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

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

Sources: Alan Moses,

Your Child

One Hour of Aerobic Exercise for Kid’s Heart Health

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Children around the world are not as fit as their parents were at their age.  According to new research, in a one -mile footrace, a child today would finish a full minute and a half behind a typical child in 1975 says lead author of the study, Grant Tomkinson, a senior lecturer in the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences.

"We all live in an environment that's toxic for exercise, and our children are paying the price," Tomkinson said.

Kids around the globe are about fifteen percent less aerobically fit than their parents were as youngsters. In the United States, it’s even worse. Kids heart endurance fell an average of six percent in each of the decades from 1970-2000. Such a large drop in fitness does not bode well for today’s youngsters. Kids who are getting too little exercise now are more likely to have weaker hearts, thinner bones and overall poorer health as they mature.

The researchers came to their assessments by analyzing 50 studies on running fitness between now and 1964 that involved more than 25 million kids aged 9 to 17 in 28 countries.

Studies included in their analysis measured heart endurance by how far kids could run in a set time or how long it took them to run a set distance. Tests usually lasted five to 15 minutes or covered between a half-mile and two miles of running.

Endurance declined significantly over the years, but in ways that were similar between boys and girls and younger and older kids across different regions of the world.

What is causing kids to be so unfit? Tomkinson says these are some of the factors that have combined to create an increasingly inactive society:

  • Communities designed to discourage walking, bicycling and backyard play. "We have to travel farther to get to parks and green spaces, and they may not always be of the best quality," he said. "Kids are less likely to ride bikes or walk to school."
  • Schools that have either rid themselves of physical education or replaced it with a less strenuous version of the class. These days, only 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools and 2 percent of high schools offer a daily physical education class.
  •  The prevalence of TV, computer, tablet and smartphone screens that sap a kid's will to venture outdoors.

Another component working against kids today is that many are simply overweight or obese. "We are fatter today, so from a weight-bearing perspective it's harder to move our bodies through space," Tomkinson said, noting that about 30 percent to 60 percent of declines in endurance running performance can be explained by increases in body fat mass.

Tomkinson says the solution is kids need at least sixty minutes of physical activity that uses the body’s large muscles such as running, swimming or cycling. The sixty minutes doesn’t need to happen all at once to be beneficial. Kids can break up the activity into segments throughout the day. Taking a ten-minute walk in the morning, playing an active game at recess and biking, walking, running or swimming after school as an example.

If parents model exercise as part of their lifestyle, kids are more likely to engage as well.

Tomkinson will present his findings at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Dallas, Texas.

Source: Dennis Thompson,

Your Child

The Virus That Is Making Lots of Kids Sick

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You may have heard about a fast-spreading virus that is sending children to emergency rooms around the country. It’s called enterovirus D68 or EV-D68 and was first discovered in 1962 in California.

Until now, the virus has been typically contained to small clusters around the U.S. But that is changing rapidly. Currently, most of the cases have been diagnosed in the Midwest and parts of the South. Because the virus is spreading quickly from area to area, it has gained the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This is the first time it’s caused such widespread misery, and it seems to be particularly hard on the lungs.

What are the symptoms of EV-D68? Most viral infections start out with a fever, cough and runny nose, but D68 doesn’t seem to follow that classic pattern, says Mary Anne Jackson, MD She's the division director of infectious disease at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO, the hospital where the first cases were identified.

“Only 25% to 30% of our kids have fever, so the vast majority don’t,” Jackson says. Instead, kids with D68 infections have cough and trouble breathing, sometimes with wheezing.

They act like they have asthma, even if they don’t have a history of it, she says. “They’re just not moving air.”

Who is at the greatest risk? Recent cases have been in children ages 6 months to 16 years, with most hovering around ages 4 and 5, the CDC says.

Usually the enterovirus strikes between July through October, so we are still in the virus season.

Many kids will experience milder symptoms, but children with a history of breathing problems can be hit particularly hard.

Two-thirds of those hospitalized at Children’s Mercy had a history of asthma or wheezing, Jackson says.

“We made sure that primary care providers are in touch with their patients with asthma, so those have an active asthma plan and know what to do if they get into trouble,” she says.

What treatments are available for EV-D68? Antibiotics don’t work because it is a virus and not bacteria. There is no vaccine available at this time or antiviral medication for treatment. It is treated with supportive care.

“The main thing is giving supplemental oxygen to the children who need it,” says Andi Shane, MD. medical director of hospital epidemiology and associate director of pediatric infectious disease at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. 

Children may also get medications, such as albuterol, which help relax and open the air passages of the lungs.

Those with the most critical cases have needed ventilators to help them breathe.

Most children who get EV-D68 will have a milder course of disease that tender loving care; rest and plenty of fluids will work as treatment.

However, it’s time to head to the doctor’s office or emergency room “if there’s any rapid breathing, and that means breathing more than once per second consistently over the span of an hour. Or if there’s any labored breathing,” says Roya Samuels, MD. She's a pediatrician at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Labored breathing, says Samuels, means kids are using smaller muscles around the chest wall to help move air in and out of their lungs.

“If you see the skin pulling in between the ribs or above the collarbone, or if there’s any wheezing, those are clear signs that a child needs to be evaluated,” she says.

You catch it basically like to catch any other virus. The enterovirus is pretty hardy and can live on surfaces for hours and as long as a day, depending on temperature and humidity.

The virus can be found in saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum, according to the CDC.

Touching a contaminated surface and then rubbing your nose or eyes is the usual way someone catches it. You can also get it from close person-to-person contact.

Protect yourself with good hand-washing habits. Tell kids to cover their mouth with a tissue when they cough. If no tissue is handy, teach them to cough into the crook of their elbow or upper sleeve instead of their hand.

The good news is that common disinfectants and detergents will kill enteroviruses. Cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched by everyone in the household is important to help keep the virus from spreading. For children, be sure to include toys, cups and doorknobs. While sick children are gaining most of the media attention, adults can also catch EV-D68. 

The virus may be spreading farther than currently known because it is not always tested for when a child enters the hospital or clinic for help.

Again, many children will only experience milder symptoms and will not need to be hospitalized, but if your child exhibits symptoms that include trouble breathing; take them to a doctor immediately.

Source: Brenda Goodman, MA and Hansa D. Bhargava, MD,

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."


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,

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:

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,

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 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!


Your Child

Back to School Immunizations

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Parents and kids are officially in the back-to-school mode as they make the rounds searching for new clothes, shoes and supplies. One requirement that often gets pushed to the back of the list is immunizations. They’re not near as exciting as shopping for new dresses, tops and pants but much more important.

All states require that children be vaccinated against certain contagious diseases before they enroll in school, although there are exemptions for medical reasons. Some states also have exemptions in place for religious or philosophical reasons.

The point of vaccinations is to protect children, teachers and the general public from preventable contagious diseases. Schools provide the perfect environment – whether it’s kindergarten or college- for the spread of illnesses. Once a disease or virus, such as measles or the flu, gets hold of the school population it can rapidly spread throughout a family and community.

Immunizations help keep the most vulnerable members of the population from becoming infected.

All 50 states have school immunization laws, although the types of vaccinations may differ from state to state. Every state has a website and/or contact number where parents can obtain the immunization list.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (TSHS) has a list of the minimum 2014-2015 vaccine requirements and doses for students grades K-12 on its website at

The minimum requirements are: 

  • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal
  • Hepatitis A

You will also find a list of vaccine requirements for child-care facilities.

Texas colleges require that students show proof that they have received an initial meningococcal vaccination or a booster dose during the five-year period prior to enrolling. There are also exemptions to those rules listed on the website

As most of us know, vaccines aren’t always 100 percent effective in disease prevention, but they help can make the symptoms less severe. Vaccines have reduced the number of infections from vaccine-preventable disease overall, by more than 90 percent.

Many parents worry about the safety and possible side effects of vaccinating their child. The American Academy of Pediatrics addresses many of these questions on its website Ingredients, Autism and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) are some of the topics covered for parents who may have concerns about these issues.

Doors open for the new school year in less than a month and parents who wait till the last minute to take their children to get immunized will most certainly face long lines and wait times. You’ll be doing yourself and your child a favor by beating the rush and making your appointment now.


Your Child

Dangerous Toys Still on the Shelves

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With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the typical holiday shopping frenzy upon us, many parents and grandparents have started or will be buying presents for the little ones in their family.

While most toys meet government set safety standards, there are always a few that seem to slip through the cracks. U.S. Public Research Group (U.S. PIRG), a consumer group that pushes for toy safety and looks for common hazards in toys, just released its report “Trouble in Toyland” outlining toys that they consider dangerous.

The number one offender this year is “The Captain America Soft Shield”, for ages 2 and older, which they say contains 29 times more lead than allowed by law.

Exposure to lead can affect almost every organ and system in the human body, especially the central nervous system.  Lead is especially toxic to the brains of young children and can cause permanent mental and developmental impairments; it has no business being in children’s products.

The current federal legal lead standard is 100 parts per million (ppm), though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a lead limit of 40 ppm.

"You can still find hazardous toys made by big brands and sold by big retailers," says Edmund Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the group.

Among toys highlighted in the report are some made by toy giants Hasbro and Mattel.  The group purchased toys and tested them from major retailers including Walmart, Kmartand , Toys R Us and Babies R Us.

The report lists the Fisher-Price “Loving Family Outdoor Barbeque” as a danger because of plastic food items so small and realistic that toddlers could choke on them.

The report notes that there is not a comprehensive list of unsafe toys available for review, but warns parents to "examine toys carefully for potential dangers before you make a purchase." Below is from the U.S.PIRG “ Trouble in Toyland “ report.

Other Toxics in Toys

The current federal legal standard limits six kinds of phthalates to 1,000 ppm, and limits the amount of antimony and arsenic, cadmium and other elements that can leach out of toys. We found toxic chemicals including phthalates, antimony, and cadmium. “The Ninja Turtles Pencil Case” was found to contain 150,000 ppm of one of six phthalates banned from toys, as well as excessive levels (600 ppm) of the toxic metal cadmium.

Choking Hazards

Choking - on small toy parts, on small balls, on marbles and on balloons - continues to be the major cause of toy-related deaths and injuries. Between 2001 and 2012, more than 90 children died from choking incidents.

This year we found several toys that contained small parts or “near small part” toys. The toys containing small parts contained improper labels and might be mistakenly purchased for children under 3. The toys containing near small parts support our argument that the small parts test should be made more protective by making the test cylinder larger.

We also found some toy foods including both near small parts and other rounded ball-like foods that would fail the small ball test although they are technically subject to the less-stringent small parts test. Toy foods pose a special hazard, because they look to small children like something that should be eaten.

Five different Littlest Pet Shop toys made by Hasbro were cited in the report as potential choking hazards because of parts that can detach from the toy. There are no small-part warnings on the toys. The toys were purchased by U.S. PIRG at Walmart and Kmart. Hasbro spokeswoman Julie Duffy responded in a statement: "The entire Littlest Pet Shop line is age graded for children 4 years and older. The Littlest Pet Shop figures do not pose a choking hazard as regulations for small parts apply to products for under 3 years of age."


Magnet toys made with neodymium iron boron magnets, such as the Buckyball magnets that are the subject of a CPSC court action, are still available and continue to cause accidents. CPSC staff have estimated that between 2009 and 2011 there were 1,700 emergency room cases nationwide involving the ingestion of high powered magnets.  More than 70% of these cases involved children between the ages of 4 and 12.

We also found ellipsoid toy magnets that nearly fit in the small parts cylinder, and are classified as a novelty “finger-fidget” toy. These magnets are smooth and shiny and sold in pairs; striking them together causes them to vibrate and produce a singing sound, making them appealing to children. CPSC has reported gastroenterological injuries associated with ellipsoid magnets.  If the magnet had fit in the small parts test cylinder, it would be banned for sale to children under 14. These, instead, were labeled “8 and up.”

Noisy Toys

Research has shown that a third of Americans with hearing loss can attribute it in part to noise. The third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that one in five U.S. children will have some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach age 12. This may be in part due to many children using toys and other children’s products such as music players that emit loud sounds.  The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders advises that prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels will cause gradual hearing loss in any age range. Toys that are intended to be held close to the ear, are not to exceed 65 decibels. Toys that held within close range (in a lap or on a table) are not to exceed 85 decibels.

We found toys on store shelves that exceeded the limit of 65 decibels for toys held close to the ear. The “Chat & Count Smart Phone”, for example, produces sound measuring higher than 85 decibels when measured at 2.5 centimeters, and children may hold such toys pressed up against the ear.

Over the past five years, stronger rules have helped get some of the most dangerous toys and children’s products off the market.  Improvements made in 2008’s Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) tightened lead limits, phased out dangerous phthalates, and required independent third party testing.  However, not all toys comply with the law, and holes in the toy safety net remain.

As for toys that may contain lead, the U.S.PIRG offers this advice,  “Parents should continue to be vigilant about metals in toys as they may contain lead or cadmium above the mandatory safety limits. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all children be screened for exposure to lead. A simple and inexpensive blood test can determine whether or not a child has a dangerous level of lead in his or her body. The test can be obtained through a physician or public health agency.”


Bruce Horovitz,


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Kids are too busy and it's curbing their development