Your Child

5 Fitness and Health APPS for Kids This Summer


Want to be more productive, creative, improve your gaming skills, write the next great best seller, explore new recipes or edit photos in your phone? There’s an app for that! If you can imagine it- there’s probably software designed for that very purpose.

There are numerous health apps out there, and many adults swear that they are getting and staying healthier by using them. But, what about apps dedicated to children’s health and fitness?

Here’s are five from the list of apps that have been reviewed and found a good fit for kids by The website provides a list of apps accompanied by reviews, appropriate age group, ease of play, violence, sex, consumerism and privacy & security ratings.

1.     Weight Loss for Kids and Teens by Kurbo Health - Age group -10 +

Weight Loss for Kids and Teens by Kurbo Health is a health app that helps kids age 8 to 18 track food choices, exercise minutes, and personal goals. The app and its related Kurbo coaching system are based on the Traffic Light Diet System developed at Stanford University. It categorizes food into green, yellow, and red choices to help kids learn to choose healthy options more often, without totally restricting any foods. There's also an exercise log, a goal-setting and weight-tracking tool, health-education games, and videos explaining each concept. Although the app is free, more personalized help is available through the Kurbo program's website, which includes live coaches. An Android version is scheduled for release soon.

2.     Zombies, Run! Age group – Age group 16-18

ZOMBIES, RUN! Runners become "Runner 5" in a post-apocalyptic community running from zombies and collecting supplies for survival. The story unfolds in episodes interspersed with the runner's own music playlist. Seasons one through three are included with the purchase, and additional episodes can be purchased in-app. Players can use the supplies they collect during their runs to build up their base and continue the fun after their runs.

3.     Stop, Breathe & Think – Age group 10 +

Stop, Breathe & Think is an app that encourages kids to learn the three skills in its title. Kids will stop and take stock of their thoughts and feelings; they'll breathe through guided meditations; and they'll think with increased kindness and compassion for the world around them. It's a great tool for developing positive habits of mind for kids and adults.

4.     LiVe – Age group 10+

LiVe is a fitness and nutrition app geared toward teens and tweens. Based on "8 Healthy Habits," the app encourages kids to set nutrition goals (such as eating a certain number of fruits and veggies and limiting sugary drinks), get more physical activity, eat meals with their families, and keep a positive attitude about food and body image. The easy, fun teen-centric graphics, solid (yet brief) information, and simple trackers give tweens and teens concrete ways to set these goals and track their progress.

5.     FitFu- Age group 13 +

FitFu is a combination of several other "Fu" fitness apps that teaches teens basic exercises, tracks their progress, and shares the information with friends. Because your device must move with your body, this app may encourage you to buy a strap or armband and is not intended for use on the iPad. There are 13 exercises included, such as lunges, pull-ups, and crunches. For each exercise, you hold or strap your device onto your body, and the accelerometer counts your reps. When finished, you can share your workouts with friends via email or Facebook or by connecting with friends who also have the app. Setting up a profile requires an email address or Facebook. You are not able to track exercises that are not included in the app. FitFu users must be 13 or older according to FitFu's terms of service.

The list above offers just a few of the apps parents can check out but there are other websites that also offer kid’s health apps and information.  Take a few moments and investigate and see what is out there; you may find some that fit your child better.

With school out and kids ready to enjoy the summer, parents can point them towards apps that can actually encourage moving, health and fitness in a fun and engaging way.

And of course, the not only keeps you up on all the latest pediatric medical studies and news, but also provides in-depth discussions on kids health with pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard, videos, parenting q&a and safety recalls related to children’s products. You can also download the kidsdr app for quick and easy access to information - and it's free! 



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,

Your Child

The Great Indoors: An Allergen Haven?

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By this time of year, many people are glad to see Winter’s grumpy face retreat into the background and Spring’s warm smile appear.  But of course, Spring brings its own mischief for people who suffer from allergies.

In the coldest of climates, furnaces have been running pretty much non-stop and even in the warmer states – at least a night- the heat is turned on and turned up.

Most everyone’s home has been closed up and sealed tight to prevent cold air from entering or warm air from escaping which creates a perfect environment for indoor allergens.

The number one allergen is dust mites. These awful little creatures thrive in warm, humid places. Other allergens are house dust, cockroaches, mold spores, pet dander (dead skin cells) and even indoor plants.

You’ve probably heard of dust mites and have seen the magnified pictures that resemble alien looking spiders.  You can’t see them but they have 8 legs, are blind and naturally live indoors. If you have them (and you probably do) it doesn’t mean your house is dirty, it just means that they are nearly impossible to eradicate completely. But you can cut down on how many you have and improve your indoor allergies.

They can’t drink liquids so they survive on humidity. Their legs have little pads that help them attach to fibers in carpets, upholstery, mattresses, feather pillows, and stuffed animals. The less humidity in the house- the deeper they retreat into these places. What do they eat? They depend on human secretions and skin cells we shed. They love bedrooms where they can breed on mattresses, pillows, box springs, curtains, carpets, and any other fibers in the room.

Children are particularly susceptible to indoor allergens and you may notice that your child has watery eyes and trouble breathing when they’ve been in the house for a long period of time.

What can you do to help eliminate dust mites? One option is to move to a place where the elevation is over 5,000 feet above sea level, dust mites are rarely found there. If that isn’t possible you can try the following to reduce the dust mite population.

-       Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

-       Consider getting rid of your carpeting.

-       Keep indoor humidity below 55% and use vents in the bathroom.

-       Vacuum upholstery regularly.

-       Use allergen –proof casings on the mattresses, box springs and pillows.

-       Wash your sheets and pillowcases in hot water every week.

-       Avoid throw pillows or coverings that can’t be washed.

-       Buy machine washable stuffed toys and wash once a week. Dry them thoroughly.

Another common indoor allergen is dust. I live in the country on sandy soil. Dusting could be a full time job in our house – it never seems to be completely eliminated.

However, dust isn’t just dirt blown in from outside. It includes a combination of many natural bi-products such as dried food particles, mold spores, pollen, fabric fibers, animal danger and insect parts. If you are accustomed to spraying furniture polish then wiping surfaces to get rid of dust, try spraying your cloth instead then wiping. Too much oil can create a sticky buildup that attracts dust quicker. Citrus oils tend to repel dust a little longer. Microfiber dusters work well since they pick up dust without any spraying.

Cockroaches are a mighty indoor allergen. They can be a major irritant to asthma and nasal allergies. They like kitchens, particularly areas where water splashes or leaks. They also like to travel, and where there is food they’ll find it. Children’s bedrooms are notorious for hidden, forgotten or dropped food.

Houseplants look beautiful but they can also produce mold spores, another indoor allergen that affects some people more than others. You don’t need to get rid of your houseplants, but make sure that you remove dead leaves and avoid over-watering. If your plant sits in a saucer, clean it periodically to remove dirt, water and mold buildup.

Pet dander, not pet fur, causes a lot of people to have allergic reactions. The problem is the proteins found in saliva, urine and dander that become airborne and settle on furniture, carpets and curtains. Clean and vacuum often and wash hands after playing with the pet.

How many times have you read about the importance of reading to young kids? Well books can contain book lice (yes there is such a thing). Books can also harbor dust mites and mold – particularly old books that sit on bookshelves and never leave. Don’t stop reading to or encouraging your child to read but you may want to decrease the humidity and vacuum book surfaces every so often. Storing books in a closed container can also help.

Bathrooms can be really troublesome to children and adults with allergies. Mildew in showers, on countertops, bathtub linings and grout can produce mold spores. Black mold can form in hidden areas where moisture builds up such as in walls and under linoleum. Check for any leaks and clean surfaces regularly with a bleach solution. If you don’t want to use bleach (many people are very sensitive to it), you can scrub the mildew with hot –soapy water. Use a scrub pad to work the mildew off and rinse with clear water. Make sure all the soap is removed. Mix a solution of 50 /50 water and rubbing alcohol. Apply it to the mildewed area and let it air dry.

This applies to kitchen surfaces as well. If your refrigerator has a drip pan, clean it regularly to avoid standing water that can cause mold. Clean out any old foods that may have become moldy. Cover trash cans and store foods like flour and sugar in containers with a lid. Keep countertops and floors free of food.

This sounds like a lot of work and it is. But indoor allergies are common irritants that can cause asthma and watery itchy eyes along with runny noses, sneezing and even eczema. Your family may be one of the lucky ones that are allergy free. But if you see that one or more members seem to always have some kind of allergic reaction going on, even when they are not outside, check the indoors.

Source: Louise Chang, MD

Your Child

Pool & Spa Drain Dangers

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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.


Your Child

New Flu Vaccine for 2015-2016


Last year’s flu vaccine wasn’t as effective as previous vaccines, but this year’s vaccine should be a much better match according to Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

Typically, the vaccine is 50 to 60 percent effective, making your chances of getting the flu reduced by as much as 60 percent if you get a flu shot.

This year’s flu vaccine contains the H3N2 strain, Frieden said. Last year's vaccine was only 13 percent effective against the H3N2 strain. As a result, "more seniors were hospitalized for the flu than ever before."

What's more, 145 children died from the flu, Frieden said, adding that the actual number was "probably much higher since many flu deaths aren't reported."

About 50 percent of the American population gets vaccinated every flu season. That includes pregnant women. More people, including pregnant women, need to be vaccinated, Frieden said.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu shot every year.

Frieden said there's an adequate supply of flu vaccine this year. Companies are expected to make 170 million doses of vaccine, of which 40 million have already been distributed, he said.

People at risk of flu-related complications include young children, especially those younger than 2 years; people over 65; pregnant women; and people with chronic health problems, such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes, as well as those with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC.

Most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.

Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

The CDC encourages people to get a flu shot preferably by October. Those children aged 6 months through 8 years who need two doses of vaccine should receive the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least four weeks apart.

During this flu season:

•       Intramuscular (IM) vaccines will be available in both trivalent and quadrivalent formulations. (High dose vaccines, which are IM vaccines, will all be trivalent this season.)

•       For people who are 18 through 64 years old, a jet injector can be used for delivery of one particular trivalent flu vaccine.

•       Nasal spray vaccines will all be quadrivalent this season.

•       Intradermal vaccine will all be quadrivalent.

The quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

It’s hard to believe that we’re about to head into the flu season, particularly with so many states still experiencing summer like weather. But we are, and getting a flu shot early can help protect you and your family from a virus no one wants to get.

Sources: Steven Reinberg,

Your Child

July 4th Food and Fireworks Safety Tips


This July 4th may be even more special than usual for a lot of families. Besides the excitement and patriotic fervor of celebrating our country’s official Independence Day, it may finally stop raining long enough for people to enjoy being outside.

However the day unfolds, you can bet there will be plenty of families and friends celebrating with good food!

Grilling is particularly popular on the Fourth as well as picnics. To make sure that the food you prepare is safe and stays safe for consumption, the USDA and the FDA offers these food preparation tips:

•       Clean: Make sure you clean all surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water.

•       Separate: When grilling, use separate plates and utensils for raw meat and cooked meat and ready-to-eat foods (like raw vegetables) to avoid cross-contamination.

•       Keep cold food cold. Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth. Meat, poultry, and seafood may be packed while still frozen so that they stay colder longer. 

•       Organize cooler contents. Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another. That way, as picnickers open and reopen the beverage cooler to replenish their drinks, the perishable foods won’t be exposed to warm outdoor air temperatures.

•       Clean your produce. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cooler - including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth towel or paper towel. Packaged fruits and vegetables that are labeled "ready-to-eat," "washed," or "triple washed" need not be washed.

•       Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer. That’s the only way to know it’s a safe temperature.

•       Remember: Ground beef and egg dishes should be cooked to 160°F. Steaks, roasts, pork and fish should be cooked to 145 degrees F, and Chicken breast and whole poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F. Shrimp, lobster, and crabs  cook until pearly and opaque. Clams, oysters, and mussels cook until the shells are open

•       Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly if not consuming after cooking. You shouldn’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours (or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90° F), so if you’re away from home, make sure you bring a cooler to store those leftovers.

Warm weather events present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. As food heats up in summer temperatures, bacteria multiply rapidly. Safe food handling and cooking when eating outdoors is critical for your family’s health.

Most cities have banned fireworks within the city limits except for controlled displays. However, rural and unincorporated areas still allow the sale and use of fireworks by citizens.

Fireworks are now much more sophisticated and larger than mere firecrackers and sparklers; injuries associated with fireworks can be devestating. 

In 2013, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,400 people for fireworks related injuries; 55% of 2014 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 38% were to the head. The risk of fireworks injury was highest for young people ages 0-4, followed by children 10-14.

On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends these fireworks handling safety tips:

•       Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

•       Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.

•       Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.

•       Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

•       Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

•       Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

•       Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

•       Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

•       Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

•       After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

•       Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

The Fourth of July is definitely one of the most treasured holidays for Americans, make sure your family has a safe one!




Your Child

Study: Bedtime Routine Offers Kids Many Benefits


If your child doesn’t have a nightly bedtime routine, he or she is missing out on a tremendous amount of health and behavioral benefits according to a new study. And you’re not alone.

A multinational study consisting of over 10,000 mothers from 14 counties reported that less than 50 percent of their infants, toddlers and preschoolers had a regular bedtime routine every night.

Researchers determined that the participant’s children who did have a regular bedtime routine benefitted on many levels. The study found that children with a consistent bedtime routine had better sleep outcomes, including earlier bedtimes, shorter amount of time in bed before falling asleep, reduced night waking, and increased sleep duration. Children with a bedtime routine every night slept for an average of more than an hour longer per night than children who never had a bedtime routine. Institution of a regular bedtime routine also was associated with decreased sleep problems and daytime behavior problems, as perceived by mothers.

“Creating a bedtime routine for a child is a simple step that every family can do,” said principal investigator and lead author Jodi Mindell, PhD, professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and associate director of the Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It can pay off to not only make bedtime easier, but also that a child is likely to sleep better throughout the entire night.”

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, positive bedtime routines involve the institution of a set sequence of pleasurable and calming activities preceding a child’s bedtime. The goal is to establish a behavioral chain leading up to sleep onset. Activities may include giving your child a soothing bath, brushing teeth and reading a bedtime story.

“It’s important that parents create a consistent sleep schedule, relaxing bedtime routine and soothing sleep environment to help their child achieve healthy sleep,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler.

Researchers found that consistency was an important factor in helping children sleep well

“For each additional night that a family is able to institute a bedtime routine, and the younger that the routine is started, the better their child is likely to sleep,” said Mindell. “It’s like other healthy practices:  Doing something just one day a week is good, doing it for three days a week is better, and doing it every day is best.”

Mothers participated in the study by completing a validated, online questionnaire that included specific questions about their child’s daytime and nighttime sleep patterns, bedtime routines and behavior. The questionnaire was translated into each language and back-translated to check for accuracy.

“The other surprising finding is that we found that this effect was universal,” said Mindell.  “It doesn’t matter if you are a parent of a young child in the United States, India, or China, having a bedtime routine makes a difference.”

Sleep deprivation is becoming an all too common problem with today’s children and adults. The earlier a good sleep routine can be established and practiced, the better for a child in the long run.

Study results are published in the May issue of the journal Sleep.


Your Child

Do Brand Name Helmets Offer Better Protection Against Concussion?

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If you read the marketing material printed on some popular sports helmets, you’d most likely get the impression that scientific research proves these particular helmets will provide your child better protection against sports-related concussions (SRC). Not necessarily so says Dr.Alison Brooks, with the University of Wisconsin.

Brooks and her team reviewed three helmet brands used during the 2012 football season.

Students included in the study were 9th through 12th graders with a mean age of 15.9 years. The students – who completed a preseason demographic and injury questionnaire (with 171 reporting a concussion in the prior 12 months) – wore various models of the three football helmet brands. Athletic trainers recorded the incidence and severity of SRC throughout the football season. More than half (52%) of the players wore Riddell helmets, 35% wore Schutt helmets, and 13% wore Xenith helmets. The helmets were purchased between 2002 and 2012.

No difference was seen in the rate or severity (based on days lost) of sport-related concussion by helmet type or helmet purchase year, Dr. Brooks reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Contrary to manufacturer claims, lower risk and severity of SRC were not associated with a specific helmet brand," Dr. Brooks said.

Despite limited prospective data on how specific football helmets and mouth guards affect the incidence and severity of SRC, manufacturers often cite laboratory research – based on impact (drop) testing – showing that their brand and/or a specific model will lessen impact forces associated with SRC, and they often claim that players who use their equipment may have a reduced SRC risk, she said, noting that schools and parents may feel pressured to purchase newer, more expensive equipment.

The current findings suggest that caution should be used when considering these claims, Dr. Brooks said.

Other bias may have had an impact on the researcher’s findings including schools and players who were aware of the study and recall bias –with respect to the previous concussion status. But Brooks noted that the findings are important because about 40,000 SRCs occur in high school football payers in the U.S. Brooks said in an interview that "These preliminary findings are important in helping parents and coaches understand that there is no compelling evidence that any particular helmet or mouth guard significantly reduces concussion risk."

The researchers also looked at specially constructed mouth guards versus generic mouth guards and whether there was a noticeable difference in protection. Sixty-one percent of the players wore generic models provided by their school, and 39% wore specialized mouth guards custom fitted by a dental professional or specifically marketed to reduce SRC.

The SRC rate was actually higher for those who wore a specialized or custom-fitted mouth guard than for those who wore a generic mouth guard, Dr. Brooks said.

Helmets and mouth guards are nonetheless effective for doing what they are designed to do – prevent skull fractures and intracranial bleeds and dental injuries – and are important pieces of equipment that need to be maintained in good condition, and be fit and worn properly. There is also always a role for trying to improve technology. However, it may not be possible to significantly reduce concussion risk using helmet technology, said Brooks.

"I think focus could be better spent on rule enforcement and coaching education on tackling technique to limit or avoid contact to the head, perhaps limiting contact practices, and behavior change about the intent of tackling to injure or ‘punish’ the opponent," she added.

Source: Sharon Worcestor,

Your Child

Are You Making Your Child More Anxious?

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When a child shows that he or she is anxious or in distress, a natural response is for a parent to want to remove whatever is causing the discomfort. However, according to a new study, it may not be the best reaction for your child in the long run.

Researchers call it the “protection trap.” Basically it means smothering children with too much attention or making the menace go away.

The research showed that certain parental coddling behaviors might actually boost anxiety in a child, although the study doesn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

"We found evidence that when parents try to help their anxious children they do a lot of things," said study co-author Armando Pina, an associate professor of child developmental psychology at Arizona State University. "Some of them are good, like promoting courage with warmth and kindness. Others are less helpful, like promoting avoidance by overprotecting, which many times leads to more anxiety."

Other experts have also weighed in on this topic.

"Left untreated, anxiety disorders in youth are associated with greater risk for other psychological problems such as depression and substance use problems," said Donna Pincus, director of research at the Child and Adolescent Fear and Anxiety Treatment Program at Boston University. Anxiety problems can also disrupt families and cause kids to perform worse in school, she added.

So what should a parent do or not do?

"When children are in distress or upset they need parental comfort, reassurance and extra love. This is good," said study lead author Lindsay Holly, a graduate student at Arizona State University. "Sometimes, however, parents end up providing excessive reassurance and doing things for the child, like making excuses for why a child who is anxious in social situations won't go to a birthday party or talking for the child by ordering at restaurants."

Here’s how the study was conducted.

Researchers examined the results of a survey of 70 kids aged 6 to 16 who were treated for anxiety and/or depression at a clinic. The kids were equally divided among boys and girls and among whites and Hispanic/Latinos.

The investigators found that some kids were more likely to have anxiety and depression symptoms if their parents reinforced or punished their anxiety through various approaches. Among the two ethnic groups, "the only difference was that Latino parents seemed to attend more frequently to their children's anxiety," Holly said.

Pina noted that previous research has indicated that a certain kind of therapy can help kids become less anxious and more resilient by teaching the importance of facing fears. One of the goals of the therapy is to teach parents how to promote courage in the kids through a combination of warmth and kindness, Pina said.

Some experts believe that by exposing children to anxious situations in a controlled, supportive environment, they can learn how to handle their anxiety better.

Holly suggests that parents encourage their children "to do brave things that are small and manageable." A child who's afraid of speaking in public, for instance, might be urged to answer a question about whether they want fries with their meal at a restaurant.

While every child is going to be anxious at one time or another, a more difficult situation is when children suffer from an anxiety disorder. That is a more serious problem where someone experiences fear, nervousness, and shyness so much so that they start to avoid places and activities.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. Anxiety disorder often shows up alongside other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and ADHD.

The good news is that with treatment and support, a child can learn how to successfully manage the symptoms and live a normal childhood.

The study conducted at Arizona State University, looked at typical child anxieties and how parent’s interactions either helped or prolonged the anxiousness.

The study was published recently in the journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development.



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