Your Child

Kid’s Melanoma Skin Cancer Rates Increasing

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The dreary days of winter are quickly giving way to longer hours of daylight. Kids will soon be swimming, biking, playing sports and enjoying all the other advantages that more sunshine and warmer weather offers. They’ll also be absorbing more UVA and UVB rays. 

While skin cancer in children is rare, and melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer- is even more unusual, more cases are being reported according to a new study. The rates increased by about 2% per year from 1973 to 2009 in U.S. children ages newborn to 19. Melanoma accounts for up to 3 percent of all pediatric cancers, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

As you might expect, the largest increase was seen in teenage girls from 15 to19 years old. Girls tend to lay out in the sun or visit tanning booths more often than boys. Girls are more likely to have melanomas on their lower legs and hips while boy’s melanomas are typically found on the face and trunk. 

Recent studies have also shown that melanoma is on the rise among adults as well. Exactly what is driving these trends is not fully understood, but increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation from both the sun and tanning booths as well as greater awareness of melanoma may be responsible, according to study authors led by Jeannette Wong of the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Skin cancer looks pretty much the same in children as it does in adults. Parents should routinely check any moles or changes in their child’s skin.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer. It is highly treatable, grows very slowly and is located on the top layer of skin. It usually appears as a small, shiny bump or nodule on the skin, mainly those areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, neck, arms, hands, and face. It more commonly occurs among people with light-colored eyes, hair, and complexion.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a more aggressive skin cancer but is still highly treatable. It may appear as nodules or red, scaly patches of skin, and may be found on the face, ears, lips, and mouth. Squamous cell carcinoma can spread to other parts of the body, although this is rare. This type of skin cancer is usually found in fair-skinned people.

Melanoma accounts for a small percentage of all skin cancers, but the most deaths. Malignant melanoma sometimes begins as a mole that then turns cancerous. This cancer may spread quickly. Malignant melanoma most often appears on fair-skinned men and women, but people with all skin types may be affected.

The researchers used a database to capture trends in childhood melanoma, but they did not have any information on participants' tanning habits or sun exposure history. Other risks for melanoma among children and adults include fair skin, light-colored hair and eyes, moles, family history of melanoma and a history of sunburns.

In addition to sunscreen, parents may want to consider purchasing sun protection clothing for their child. Many department stores and online clothing sites now provide sun protection clothing for all ages, from newborn to adult. These specially treated fabrics offer a sun protection factor of 50 and are washable.

Although skin cancer in children is still fairly rare, skin cancer in adults is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Each year new cases increase and the Skin Cancer Foundation predicts an estimated 9,480 people will die of melanoma in 2013.

The vast majority of skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet radiation so protecting your children (and yourself) from sunburn and over exposure now can have a significant and positive affect on your child’s long-term health. 

The study’s findings are published in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Denise Mann, http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=675015

http://www.yalemedicalgroup.org, http://www.skincancer.org

Your Child

Medicines Top Source of Kids' Poisonings

Every year, more than 71,000 American children under the age of 18 are seen in emergency rooms for unintentional overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Now a new government report shows that the leading cause of those accidental poisonings can be found in the family medicine cabinet.

The team of researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that more than two-thirds of emergency department visits are due to poisoning from prescription and over-the-counter medications. That's more than double the rate of childhood poisonings caused by household cleaning products, plants and the like. "Medication overdoses are most common among 2-year-olds," said lead researcher Dr. Daniel Budnitz, director of the CDC's Medication Safety Program in the division of health-care quality promotion. "About one out of every 180 2-year-olds visits an emergency department for a medication overdose each year." More than 80 percent of these overdoses are due to unsupervised ingestion, Budnitz noted. "Basically, it's young children finding and eating medicine without adult supervision," he said. "They are found with an empty bottle or pills in their mouth or something, and they are taken to the emergency department." In addition, medication errors by caregivers or adults and misuse of drugs by preteens and teens cause about 14 percent of accidental poisonings, Budnitz said. "Basically, that's not following directions," he said. The report appears in the September edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. For the study, Budnitz's team used 2004 and 2005 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to estimate the number of emergency department visits resulting from unintentional medication overdoses for children aged 18 and younger. The most common medications accidentally taken by children are acetaminophen, opioids or benzodiazepines, cough and cold medicines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antidepressants, Budnitz said. To help reduce the number of incidents of unintentional poisonings, especially in younger children, Budnitz believes drug manufacturers must create better child safety caps, including caps that limit the dose that can be dispensed. Currently, the CDC is working with over-the-counter drug manufacturers to encourage the implementation of new "passive" safety caps, Budnitz said. These caps do not require that the user to do anything but close it to work, or they allow only a measured dose to be dispensed at one time. Of course, there are things that can be done right now by parents and caregivers, Budnitz said. These include making sure the cap is tightly secured after taking medication and placing the bottle well out of the reach of toddlers.

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Your Child

Should Schools Ban Peanut Butter?

As a result of the increasing number of peanut allergies, some parents are petitioning schools to ban peanut butter from lunch menus and snacks.Peanut Ban

Nearly 400,000 children are allergic to peanuts and many parents do everything they can to make sure their child is not exposed. As a result of the increasing number of peanut allergies, some parents are petitioning schools to ban peanut butter from lunch menus and snacks.

“Over the past few years because of the increased incidences of peanut allergies, more and more schools have been banning peanut butter and 18% of schools have bans in place and that number seems to be growing. But there is a lot of controversy around this on both sides of the equation,” says pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. Dr. Hubbard says it is very hard to ban an entire student body from taking anything with peanuts as it requires a large amount of label reading education by children and parents. She says it is important to have a dialogue with your child’s teacher, school and school nurse to alert them to a food allergy. “The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network does not believe the peanut butter should be banned in schools. They are of the belief that you should have something called a “PAL” plan to protect a life from food allergies

Your Child

Family Dog Responsible for Most Bite Injuries

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Is your child more likely to be bitten by the family dog or someone else’s dog? Many parents might assume that most dog attacks occur from either strays or another’s dog because they feel like know their own pet’s behavior.

A new study points out that even man’s best friend can turn on a child or adult under the right circumstances.

The recently published study, in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, demonstrated that more than 50 percent of the dog-bite injuries treated at Phoenix Children's Hospital came from dogs belonging to an immediate family member.

The study noted that many times, because a pet is almost considered a family member, parents of young children are too relaxed about the interactions between their children and the family dog, presenting a false sense of safety.

 "More than 60 percent of the injuries we studied required an operation," said lead author Dr. Erin Garvey, a surgical resident at Mayo Clinic "While the majority of patients were able to go home the next day, the psychological effects of being bitten by a dog also need to be taken into account."

The retrospective study looked at a 74-month period between 2007 and 2013 in which there were 670 dog-bite injuries treated at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Of those, 282 were severe enough to require evaluation by the trauma team or transportation by ambulance. Characteristics of the most common injuries included:

·      Both genders were affected (55 percent male)

·      The most common patient age was 5 years, but spanned from 2 months to 17 years

·      28 dog breeds were identified; the most common dog was pit bull

·      More than 50 percent of the dogs belonged to the patient's immediate family

·      The most common injuries were lacerations (often to the face), but there were also a number of fractures and critical injuries such as severe neck and genital trauma

 “The next step is to find out what type of education is needed and for whom - the parents, owners of the dogs and even the kids themselves," explains Dr. Garvey.

The Injury Prevention Center at Phoenix Children's Hospital recommends that families with a dog in the house follow the safety tips below:

·      Never leave infants or young children alone with a dog, including the family dog.

·      Make sure all dogs in the home are neutered or spayed.

·      Take time to train and socialize your dogs.

·      Keep dogs mentally stimulated by walking and exercising them.

·      Teach children appropriate ways to interact with animals.

A good rule of thumb is to learn how to read your dog’s body language. There are signs a dog will give when they are uncomfortable or are feeling threatened:

·      Tensed body

·      Stiff tail

·      Pulled back head and/or ears

·      Furrowed brow

·      Eyes rolled so the whites are visible

·      Yawning

·      Flicking tongue

·      Intense stare

·      Backing away

Many of the dog’s body signals listed above are the opposite of how humans display fear or irritation, and some are natural body occurrences that have nothing to do with how we react to being threatened – such as yawning, For canines, however, all of the above means -  back-off.

One more important note, when putting space between yourself and a dog that might bite, never turn your back on him and run away. A dog's natural instinct will be to chase you.

Sources: Jim McVeigh. http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2015/05/27/3579702_dog-bite-study-shows-familiarity.html?rh=1

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/avoid_dog_bites.html

 

 

Your Child

Does Birth Order Impact Children’s IQ or Personality?

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In 1982, “The Birth Order Book” by psychologist, Dr. Kevin Leman, was published and quickly became a best seller. The premise was that there are four personality types based on a person’s birth order. Since then, other authors have written extensively about whether one’s birth order has a lasting effect on our personalities, IQ, successes or failures in life and other physical, emotional or psychological traits.

Now, a large study from the University of Illinois says there may be a slight benefit to being the first born in a family, but the difference is miniscule and offers no real advantage or disadvantage in how a person’s life plays out.

Psychology professor Brent Roberts, along with former postdoctoral researcher Rodica Damian, conducted an analysis of 377,000 high school-age students to test the assumption.

The researchers found that first-born children do tend to have a slightly higher IQ and often display differing personality traits than their siblings later, but the differences are so small between the first- born and the later-born that they really have no significant impact on their lives.

Their analysis determined first-borns had a one-point IQ advantage over their following siblings, statistically significant in scientific terms but meaningless in suggesting any practical effects on a person's life.

Previous studies have been conducted on the same topic, but most had a small sample size – that’s why Roberts believes this study is noteworthy.

"This is a conspicuously large sample size," he says.  "It's the biggest in history looking at birth order and personality."

Looking at personality differences, the study found first-borns tended to be slightly more extroverted, conscientious, agreeable and less anxious that later-borns, but that those differences were on a scale of 0.02, or "infinitesimally small," Roberts notes.

Statistical differences can be more or less valuable depending on what is being examined.

"In some cases, if a drug saves 10 out of 10,000 lives, for example, small [statistical] effects can be profound," Roberts said. However, he noted, when it comes to personality traits a 0.02 difference is so small as to be invisible, something that wouldn't be apparent to the naked eye.

"You're not going to be able to sit two people down next to each other and see the differences between them," he says. "It's not noticeable by anybody."

Damien, who is now a now a professor of psychology at the University of Houston, says she and Roberts controlled for factors that might skew results, including a family's economic level, the number of siblings and their relative ages.

Whether a child’s birth order has any effect on his or her personality or IQ is still somewhat controversial among child psychologists and psychiatrists.  Some believe it has its place in child rearing and others think it is simply pop culture. Most would probably agree however, that a child’s later personality and IQ are typically based on more complicated factors than whether they were the first, middle, last or only child in the family.

The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

Source: Jim Algar,  http://www.techtimes.com/articles/69519/20150716/birth-order-has-no-effect-on-iq-or-personality-massive-study-finds.htm

 

 

Your Child

Probiotics Reduce Diarrhea and Respiratory Infections

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A daily dose of probiotics can reduce the occurrences of diarrhea or respiratory tract infections in children who attend day care according to a new study.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to the natural and beneficial microorganisms found in the gut. They are often referred to as “good bacteria.”

In a study in Mexico, researchers tested 336 healthy children ages 6 months to 3 years who were attending day care centers. Half received a daily dose of Lactobacillus reuteri, a beneficial gut bacterium naturally present in many foods and in most people; the other half got an identical placebo.

The children were given probiotics or the placebo for 3 months and then followed for another 3 months without the supplements. During the study, 69 episodes of diarrhea were reported in the placebo group and 42 in the group receiving the probiotics. The placebo group had 204 respiratory tract infections, compared with 93 in those taking L. reuteri. And the placebo takers spent an average of 4.1 days on antibiotics, while the supplement users averaged 2.7 days. The differences persisted during the 12-week follow-up.

“What’s notable here is that they used a specific probiotic in a good design and they also did follow-up,” said Stephen S. Morse, an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University who was not involved in the study. “This strengthens the evidence for the value of probiotics, but we still have a lot to learn.”

The research group concluded that a daily administration of probiotics in healthy children in day care centers “had a significant effect in reducing episodes and duration of diarrhea and respiratory tract infection, with consequent cost savings for the communities”.

Probiotics have been added to many food and beverage products making it easier for parents to add them to their child’s diet.

The most common food is yogurt but some manufacturers have added probiotics to ice creams, granola bars, cereals, juices and yes…even pizza.

Some parents swear by probiotics saying that they have eased their children’s symptoms of colic, eczema and intestinal problems.

Antibiotics kill bad bacteria, but they can also kill the good bacteria and throw a child’s gut flora out of balance - leading to gastrointestinal distress. Previous studies have shown that adding supplements or foods containing probiotics to a child’s diet can have a positive affect on his or her bacterial balance.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics and was supported by a grant from a manufacturer of probiotic supplements.

Sources: Nicholas Bakalar, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/probiotic-eases-ills-in-children/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Nancy Gottesman, http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/feeding/healthy-eating/probiotics-the-friendly-bacteria/

Your Child

Pool & Spa Drain Dangers

1.45 to read

It happened yesterday. A small child almost drowned after getting his arm stuck in a pool drain.  The five year old was music star Usher’s son. He was lucky to survive but almost didn’t. The child was attempting to retrieve a toy that had fallen into the pool and sunk to the bottom. An adult caregiver tried to free him from the suction and couldn’t. Two males who were working inside the singer’s house were finally able to pry the boy free of the drain entrapment. He’s now hospitalized, but is expected to recover.

Pool drains are an unknown danger that have killed or injured children as well as adults. The suction can be so strong that there’s no escaping the pull.

In 2007, The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was passed by Congress to provide public pools and spas safety guidelines for drains. The Act was named after 7 year-old Virginia Graeme Baker who became stuck to a hot tub drain and was not able to pull her-self free. It took 2 grown men to disengage her, but she drowned before they were able to get her released.

Parents or guardians may not be aware that these drains are dangerous. The vacuum effect is powerful enough to hold a child at the bottom of a pool or spa. Contact with a flat drain can create suction equal to hundreds of pounds of pressure. While many parents make sure that their child takes swimming lessons, they fail to mention the dangers of getting too close to a pool drain.

Children’s public wading pools, other pools designed specifically for young children, and in-ground spas that have flat drain grates and single main drain systems pose the greatest risk of entrapment.

The best way to prevent these hazards is to recognize them ahead of time, and to use caution when in a pool or spa. The key entanglement and entrapment hazards include:

- Body: A body part, often the torso or bottom, covers a drain and is held down by the intensity of the suction.

- Hair: Long hair is caught in a faulty drain cover.

- Limbs: Arms, legs, feet or fingers are lodged in a suction opening.

- Mechanical: Jewelry, bathing suits or other materials are entangled in a drain cover.

- Evisceration/disembowelment: When suction draws out the intestines and organs.

Some pool drains are more dangerous than others. If a pool only has one drain, the suction will be greater. These are usually found in older pools. Sometimes the drain cover will come off and a small whirlpool will spin around the hole. If you see a pool in that condition– do not let your child get in.

It’s important to know where the pool shut-off valve or connection is so in case of an emergency, the pool can be shut down.

It’s also possible to install a safety vacuum release system that will shut the pool off when the drain becomes blocked.

Usher’s little boy was fortunate yesterday, but there are many stories of children who were not so lucky. Make sure to inspect any pool your children are going to be in and teach them about staying away from a drain. If a toy or piece of jewelry or anything else gets too close to a pool drain, it’s better to let it be.

Source: http://www.poolsafely.gov/pool-spa-safety/safety-issues/drain-entrapments

Your Child

Gender Identity Confusion

If your middle-years child seems to have distortions and confusions in gender identity, discuss boy and girl, male and female behavior directly with him or her. For instance, talk with your child about the specific gestures or behavior that may provoke reactions from others, and identify together some that might be more appropriate.On Wednesday,we talked about gender identity, and at what age children begin to understand the difference between being a boy or a girl. We also covered children who may not fit the stereotypical gender role.

An example would be little girls who love to play with trucks and climb trees, or young boys who might prefer reading instead of playing sports. These children may not feel comfortable with traditional gender role-playing activities, but that in itself, does not mean they are confused about their sexual identity. Gender confusion is more complicated. More than just lacking an interest in sports, for instance, some boys actually tend to identify with females. Likewise, some girls identify more with masculine traits. Conflicted about their gender, they may deny their sexuality. Rather than learn to accept themselves, they may come to dislike that part of themselves that is a boy or a girl. At the extreme, a boy may seem more effeminate and have one or more of the following characteristics: •   He wants to be a girl. •   He desires to grow up to be a woman. •   He has a marked interest in female activities, including playing with dolls or playing the roles of girls or women. •   He has an intense interest in cosmetics, jewelry, or girls' clothes and en­joys dressing up in girls' apparel. •   His favorite friends are girls. •   On rare occasions, he may cross-dress and actually consider himself to be a girl. An effeminate boy is sometimes ridiculed, teased as being "gay," and shunned by his peer group. This rejection may intensify, as the boy gets older. As a result, he may become anxious, insecure, or depressed and strug­gle with self-esteem and social relationships. On the other hand, girls who identify with boys are thought of as "tomboys." They usually encounter less social ridicule and peer difficulties than effeminate boys do. For many girls, some tomboy-ness seems to be a very natural course toward healthy adolescent gender identity. Yet there are rare girls who exhibit one or more of the following traits: •  They express a wish to be a boy. •  Their preferred peer group is male. •  When playing make-believe games, they prefer male roles over female ones. These traits suggest a conflict or confusion about gender and relationship with peers of the same sex. The possible causes of these variations are speculative and controversial. Research demonstrates a role for both biological factors and social learning in gender-identity confusion. What Should You Do? If you notice the above traits in your child, it’s normal to worry about your child’s happiness and their ability to fit in with society’s rules and roles. That’s what parents do. But, over-reacting or trying to force your child to change who they are, often brings about only more confusion and sadness. If your middle-years child seems to have distortions and confusions in gender identity, discuss boy and girl, male and female behavior directly with him or her. For instance, talk with your child about the specific gestures or behavior that may provoke reactions from others, and identify together some that might be more appropriate. Through a sensitive dialogue, you might be able to help your child better understand his or her behavior and why it gets the responses it does from peers. Providing a lot of support for your child can bolster his or her self-esteem and counteract the social and peer pressures he or she might be facing. In addition to your own efforts, talk with your pediatrician, who may suggest that you consult a child psychiatrist or child psychologist to help overcome the youngster's confusion and conflict. Sexual orientation cannot be changed. A child's heterosexuality or homosexuality is deeply ingrained as part of them. As a parent, your most important role is to offer understanding, respect, and support to your child. A non-judge-mental approach will gain your child's trust and put you in a better position to help him or her through difficult times.

Your Child

Antibiotics Often Prescribed When Not Needed

2.00 to read

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

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

Lice is becoming more resistant to routine treatment.