Your Child

Don’t Forget Fireworks Safety This 4th!

2.00 to read

I live in a county that allows the sale and use of fireworks. Every year, about two weeks before July 4th and New Years and about two weeks after, the neighborhood sounds like a battlefield. During this time I also hear the laughter of children in front and back yards up and down the block. Occasionally I hear a scream.

My first thought when my windows start to shake from the concussive sounds is I hope a child isn’t hurt tonight while these families are playing with massive amounts of fireworks.

It may be legal in my county to shoot off fireworks, but it’s illegal in many cities. And yet, you hear them anyway.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), analyzed data on non-occupational, fireworks-related deaths and injuries during calendar year 2012. There were 8,700 fireworks related injuries treated in emergency departments. 5,200 of the injuries happened between June22 and July 22.

Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 30 percent of the estimated 2012 injuries. Forty-six percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.

There were 6 non-occupational fireworks-related deaths, most were from participants either making or lighting homemade fireworks. Malfunctioning or illegal fireworks were responsible for the other deaths.

If it’s legal to use fireworks in your area (or if you plan on using them anyway), please remember these safety tips from

  • Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800°F (982°C) — hot enough to melt gold.
  • Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarter-pounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.
  • Never try to make your own fireworks.
  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
  • Steer clear of others — fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.
  • Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
  • Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.
  • Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.
  • Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trashcan.
  • Don’t forget about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

If your child is injured by fireworks get immediate medical attention. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don't flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention — your child's eyesight may depend on it. If it's a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn (do not use ice). Call your doctor immediately.

A lot of families have turned to the many city-sponsored fireworks displays along with other fun activities.  These kinds of events are really the safest place to enjoy fireworks this July 4th.

Sources: Steven Dowshen, MD,

Your Child

FDA Targets Artificial Trans Fats in Foods

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During the last decade, many manufacturers and fast food restaurants have voluntarily eliminated or reduced their use of trans fat in food preparation after an onslaught of publicity of scientific studies linking trans fats with heart disease. But there are still plenty of foods made with trans fats, mainly in “comfort” and pre-packaged foods. 

Trans fats are considered harmful because they increase risks for heart disease by both raising bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lowering good cholesterol (HDL). In 2006, the FDA began requiring food manufacturers to include trans fats on nutritional labels, and in 2007, New York City banned trans fats from restaurants. Food marketers have been gradually going trans-fat-free in recent years -- McDonald's switched to zero-trans fat cooking oil in its iconic french-fries in 2008.

So, what foods are you most likely to find trans fats? Some of the most popular foods that kids woof-down on a fairly regular basis are:

  • Cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, and breads such as hamburger buns
  • Some stick margarine and vegetable shortening
  • Pre-mixed cake mixes, pancake mixes, and chocolate drink mixes
  • Fried foods, including donuts, french fries, chicken nuggets, and hard taco shells
  • Snack foods, including chips, candy, and packaged or microwave popcorn
  • Frozen dinners

The FDA currently allows small amounts of trans fats to be included in products that are labeled “trans-fat-free.”  You could actually be getting more trans fats than you realize when eating more than a serving size. And we all know that serving sizes are notorious for not being indicative of what a person usually eats. An example would be one cookie. If you really like the cookies, you’ll probably have more than just one.

The independent Institute of Medicine has already concluded that trans fats provide no known health benefit and that there is no safe level of consumption of artificial trans fat, said Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner.

Additionally, the IOM has recommended that Americans keep their consumption of trans fats as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet. The FDA change could potentially prevent 20,000 heart attacks a year and 7,000 deaths, said Hamburg.  

It’s important for parents to get into the habit of reading nutritional guides listed on food products. Keep in mind that saturated fat is also unhealthy. Products may claim to have 0 trans fats, but still contain partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). Due to the risks associated with consuming PHOs, FDA has issued a Federal Register notice with its preliminary determination that PHOs are no longer "generally recognized as safe," or GRAS, for short. If this preliminary determination is finalized, then PHOs would become food additives subject to premarket approval by FDA. Foods containing unapproved food additives are considered adulterated under U.S. law, meaning they cannot legally be sold.

Kids need a certain amount of healthy fat in their diet for good brain and nervous system development. Experts say kids older than 2 should get about 30% of their daily calories from fat. Some examples of healthier fats are:

-       Unsaturated fats, found in avocados and olive, peanut, and canola oils

-       Monounsaturated, found in avocados and olive, peanut, and canola oils

-       Polyunsaturated, found in most vegetable oils

-       Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat found in oily fish like tuna and salmon

SourSources: Linda Carroll,

Kimball Johnson, MD,






Your Child

Recall: 403,222 Additional Graco Child Car Seats

1.45 to read

Graco is adding more than 403,000 car seats to last month’s recall of 3.8 million car seats because of a potentially deadly problem with the harness buckles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says this recall doesn’t go far enough. The NHTSA wants 1.8 million rear-facing infants seats added to the recall because they have the same buckles. Graco said it didn’t include the infant seats because in an emergency parents can remove the entire car seat from the car.

In a written statement, The NHTSA advises parents to use "an alternative infant seat for transporting children until their Graco car seat is fixed."

The problem with the harness buckles is that they can be difficult to nearly impossible to unlatch in certain situations, including emergencies.

In at least one case, parents allege that the buckle caused the death of their child. The company was named the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in California, in which the plaintiff said that a Graco Nautilus car seat was extremely difficult to unlatch after a car accident, and that two-year-old Leiana Ramirez died in an ensuing car fire.

Graco says that the reason the buckles may not unlatch is that dried juices or food can stick in the buckles causing them to malfunction.

Last summer, the company began sending “enhanced” cleaning and operating instructions along with replacement buckles to consumers. It also offers an online video describing how to replace the buckles.

For a complete list of the recalled car seats and instructions on how to receive replacement buckles, you can go to, and click “Recall Notification”.

Source: Pete Bigelow,

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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Kids are too busy and it's curbing their development