Your Child

Promising New Peanut Allergy Patch


Peanut allergies can be life-threatening for some children, but a new “peanut patch” may be the solution their parents have been searching for.

The small skin patch – known as Viaskin® Peanut -is applied to the child’s skin and appears to offer safe and effective protection against this serious condition.

“This is exciting news for families who suffer with peanut allergies because Viaskin represents a new treatment option for patients and physicians,” study author Hugh A. Sampson, a doctor at Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai, said in a statement.

Based on the principle of epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT), the patch delivers small doses of peanut proteins when placed on patients’ skin.

The team of researchers completed a double blind, placebo-controlled randomized Phase IIb trial in which 221 individuals with peanut allergies underwent the therapy for a year.

The patch exposed patients to a small dose of peanut protein, ranging from 50 to 250 micrograms, for the course of the study.

The 250 µg peanut patch shows the most promise for researchers. “After one year of therapy, half of the patients treated with the 250 micrograms patch tolerated at least 1 gram of peanut protein – about four peanuts —which is 10 times the dose that they tolerated in their entry oral peanut challenge,” Sampson explained.

Compliance was greater than 95% and less than 1% of the participants dropped out of the study due to adverse symptoms. In fact, there were no serious adverse reactions related to the patch treatment.

Overall, children treated with the larger patch experienced a robust increase (19 fold) in peanut-specific IgG4 levels, the antibody associated with protection following immunotherapy.

“EPIT appears safe, well tolerated and effective. That’s good news for families who suffer from food allergies,” Sampson said.

While the results are promising, researchers will continue to follow the participants for another year. It could be several more years before the patch become available for consumers, but there is hope on the horizon.


Justin Worland,

Your Child

New Guidelines for Ear Infections

2.30 to read

When a child is in pain and crying, a loving parent wants nothing more than to make the pain go away.  Ear infections can be very painful and often a parent will request antibiotics to treat the infection from their pediatrician or family doctor.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued new guidelines for identifying and treating childhood ear infections and would like to see fewer antibiotics prescribed.

The guidelines more clearly define the signs and symptoms that indicate an infection that needs treatment. They also encourage more observation, with follow-ups, instead of antibiotics. This would also include some children under the age of two. Most children with ear infections get well on their own and can be safely monitored for a few days.

For children with recurrent infections, the guidelines advise physicians and parents on when it is time to see a specialist.

"Between a more accurate diagnosis and the use of observation, we think we can greatly decrease the use of antibiotics," said the lead author of the new guidelines, Dr. Allan Lieberthal, a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente Panorama City, in Los Angeles, and a clinical professor of pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

The guidelines say that there are definitely times when antibiotics should be prescribed such as when children have a severe ear infection. Severe is defined as when a child has either a fever of 102.2 degrees or higher or is in significant pain. He or she has a ruptured ear drum with drainage, or an infection in both ears for kids two years or younger.  These account for fewer cases but studies have shown that children benefit from antibiotics given right away.

It’s been since 2004 since the last set of guidelines were issued. Those guidelines stimulated new research that has provided evidence for the new AAP guidelines that will appear in the March issue of Pediatrics.

Lieberthal said the biggest change is the definition of the diagnosis itself. Experts say that the new definition is more precise. Because of the different stages of ear infections, diagnosis can be tricky.

The AAP offers detailed treatment suggestions that encourage observation with close follow-ups as long as the child is not having severe symptoms, but leaves it up to the discretion of the physician whether or not to prescribe antibiotics.  Previous guidelines recommended that antibiotics be prescribed for children under two with ear infections.

Pain management is also an important component of the new guidelines. Antibiotics can take up to 2 days before they start to improve symptoms, so if a child has fever or pain they should be given pain relieving or fever reducing medications.

The new guidelines also state that children, even those with recurrent infections, shouldn't be on long-term daily antibiotics to try to prevent infections from occurring. Long-term antibiotic use has its own downfall. Children can develop a rash and diarrhea (causing dehydration.) The biggest concern is that the child will build up immunity to the antibiotic, making it ineffective over time.

When children have recurrent ear infections they should be referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist. Recurrent is defined as children who have three or more ear infections in a six-month period, or four or more infections in a one-year period (with at least one infection occurring in the previous six months.)

The new guidelines also recommend staying current on your child’s vaccine schedule, especially the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), and the flu shot. "Studies show that anything that decreases viral infection will decrease the incidence of ear infections," Lieberthal said.

Many parents are beginning to see the logic of not over-using antibiotics, but some are still unaware of the dangers. Physicians may now be more assertive about watchful waiting and follow-ups when a child’s ear infection isn’t severe. That may not comfort the parent of a crying child in pain, but it may be the best approach for the child in the long run.

Sources: Serena Gordon

Michelle Healy

Your Child

Unnecessary X-Rays for Kids


Too many children are receiving unnecessary x-rays for symptoms such as vomiting, feeling ill and fainting says a new study from the Mayo Clinic.

"Chest X-rays can be a valuable exam when ordered for the correct indications. However, there are several indications where pediatric chest X-rays offer no benefit and likely should not be performed to decrease radiation dose and cost," said study author Dr. Ann Packard, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Researchers looked at the reasoning behind 637 chest x-rays given to children from newborns to 17 years- old between 2008 and 2014. They found that 88 percent of the x-rays given to children did not have an impact on treatment they receive.

What kinds of symptoms were children displaying when they were given an x-ray?  Kids and infants had chest pain, fainting, dizziness, cyclical vomiting, and a general feeling of being unwell or under distress (spells). Another problem stated was a condition called "postural orthostatic hypotension," in which blood pressure drops suddenly when a person stands up after sitting or lying down.

X-rays are often given when a physician suspects someone may have pneumonia or a bronchial infection.

Thirty-nine of the x-rays for chest pain were positive for pneumonia, bronchial inflammation, trauma or other conditions, according to the findings scheduled for presentation in Chicago Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. But chest X-rays had no effect on treatment for any of the children with fainting, postural orthostatic hypotension, dizziness, spells or cyclical vomiting.

Radiation in children is a concern. Many pediatricians and experts recommend limiting the exposure to radiation in children when possible. These procedures can also be expensive for families.

"This study addresses both of these issues, which is important not only for physicians but also for young patients and their parents," Packard noted in a society news release.

"I would like this research to help guide clinicians and deter them from ordering unnecessary exams which offer no clinical benefit to the patient," she added.

Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

If a doctor recommends x-rays for your child, be sure and ask specifically why they believe the x-ray is needed and what impact they believe it will have on your child’s treatment.

Possible broken bones need x-rays, trouble breathing could need an x-ray to look for infection or pneumonia. Your doctor may have a perfectly sound reason for ordering an x-ray, but you may want to know ahead of time exactly what it will tell your physician before agreeing.

Source: Robert Preidt,

Your Child

Grandparent Program Improves Children’s Behavior

2.00 to read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Andrew M. Seaman,


Your Child

Wrigley Stops Production of Caffeine Gum

1.45 to read

Before it has a chance to fly off the shelves, Wrigley has decided to stop production, sales and marketing of their new caffeinated gum. The company’s decision comes after meetings with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The government agency shared its concerns about the possible effects of caffeinated gum on children and adolescents.

Alert Energy Caffeine Gum was introduced into the marketplace less than a month ago. One piece contains 40 milligrams of caffeine, about the same amount that’s typically in a half-cup of coffee.

The gum was available in 2 flavors: mint and fruit. Once someone starts chewing the gum, caffeine is released into the saliva. Some of it is swallowed and some goes directly into the bloodstream through the cheeks or from under the tongue.

"The FDA applauds Wrigley's decision and its recognition that we need to improve understanding and, as needed, strengthen the regulatory framework governing the appropriate levels and uses of caffeine in foods and beverages," said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. "The company's action demonstrates real leadership and commitment to the public health. We hope others in the food industry will exercise similar restraint."

Wrigley released its own statement about why they made their decision.

"When Wrigley launched Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, we took great strides to ensure that the product was formulated, distributed and marketed in a safe and responsible way to consumers 25 years old and over," Wrigley President Casey Keller said. "After discussions with the FDA, we have a greater appreciation for its concern about the proliferation of caffeine in the nation's food supply. There is a need for changes in the regulatory framework to better guide the consumers and the industry about the appropriate level and use of caffeinated products."

Caffeine seems to be the new marketing chemical of choice for just about anything you can put in your mouth. While Wrigley has made the decision to stop production of its caffeinated gum, other brands are still on the market.

In recent years, “energy” drinks have come under scrutiny by the FDA because of the high levels of caffeine in those products. Many health experts are calling for these drinks to be clearly labeled and health warnings to be added to labels.

Source: Saundra Young,

Your Child

A Little Sugar and Higher Fat In School Lunches?


Should sugar and fat be included in your child’s school lunch meal? In an effort to curb obesity in children, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has frequently urged parents and schools to restrict these 2 ingredients and find healthier substitutes.

In a new policy statement, the AAP is asking parents and schools to take a broader approach to kid’s nutrition. What the AAP would like to see instead of focusing on specific foods is the emphasis placed on the child’s overall diet. 

"A good diet is built on highly nutritious foods from each of the main food groups," said Robert Murray, M.D., FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, "Snacks, Sweetened Beverages, Added Sugars, and Schools," published in the latest journal of Pediatrics. "No ingredient should be banned. A small amount of sugar or fat is ok if it means a child is more likely to eat foods that are highly nutritious."

In the last 20 years, improvements have gradually been implemented in school lunch programs with more lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains replacing high fat meats and nutritionally deprived starches and sweets.

In that effort, national standards now limit the type of foods and drinks that are sold in schools.  As of 2014, 92 percent of school districts reported meeting U.S. Department of Agriculture school meal standards released in 2012.

While some parents and school boards have objected to the required changes, most schools have moved forward using creative culinary skills and producing healthier meals that taste good and in some cases, use locally grown vegetables and fruits.

Parents can always choose to pack a lunch at home for their child to take to school and many do. They know what foods their children are more likely to eat and they make an effort to provide a nutritional alternative to the school lunch. Sometimes however, parents pack high-calorie meals that are way over the daily sodium and fat recommendations for a child.   

The AAP believes there is an opportunity to help all parents or guardians make better choices for their child’s home-made lunches by offering a five-step approach in selecting food for packed lunches and social events:

•       Select a mix of foods from the five food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat dairy, and quality protein sources, including lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds and eggs).

•       Offer a variety of food experiences.

•       Avoid highly processed foods.

•       Use small amounts of sugar, salt, fats and oils with highly nutritious foods to enhance enjoyment and consumption.

•       Offer appropriate portions.

"Children, like adults, often want their own preferred flavors and textures during meals and snacks," Dr. Murray said. "It's no secret that brown sugar on oatmeal, or salad dressing with cut vegetables, can make these healthy foods more palatable to children, and increase their consumption. This is not a license to give kids anything they want; we just need to use sugar, fat and sodium strategically."

The Internet is full of websites that offer great recipes and suggestions for kid's healthy lunches. You can review the sites, check out the ingredients and decide which ones fit your lifestyle and time schedule.

A little added sugar or fat is not a problem as long as the child is getting a well-balanced meal. The key (as with everything) is moderation.


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

Kids Are Consuming Way Too Much Salt

2:00 to read

I don’t think it’s any surprise that American kids are getting way too much salt in their diets. It’s hard for adults to monitor their sodium intake even when they are making an effort, and most kids don’t give a second thought about how much sodium is in that slice of pizza they’re eating.

If children aren’t thinking about their salt intake, their parents should be paying attention to how much their kids are consuming according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The reason is that too much daily sodium could be setting their children up for serious health problems as they get older.

The CDC report found that more than 90 percent of American children – ages 6 to 18-ingest too much sodium daily.

Those children eat an average of about 3,300 mg of sodium daily even before salt is added at the table, according to the CDC study based on national surveys in 2009 and 2010. That exceeds dietary guidelines calling for less than 2,300 mg per day.

The CDC noted that one in six young Americans already has elevated blood pressure - a condition closely linked to high sodium intake and obesity that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Where is all this sodium coming from? Mostly from the 10 most popular types of food. Here’s the list:

  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches like cheeseburgers
  • Cold cuts and cured meats
  • Pasta with sauce
  • Cheese
  • Salty snacks like potato chips
  • Chicken nuggets and patties
  • Tacos and burritos
  • Breads
  • Soup

"Most sodium is from processed and restaurant food, not the saltshaker," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. "Reducing sodium intake will help our children avoid tragic and expensive health problems."

The largest single servings of sodium occur at dinnertime, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the daily intake.

Where else are kids getting too much sodium? The report said that 65 percent comes from food bought in stores - where salt is already added in the products. 13 percent are getting sodium from meals at fast food restaurants and 9 percent from meals at school.

According to the CDC report, teens are ahead of younger children when it comes to too much daily salt.

Researchers said that there is a need to reduce sodium intake “across multiple foods, venues and eating occasions.” Since so much food is bought at grocery stores, processed foods should have less sodium, the study noted.

Many food distributers have started reducing the amount of sodium they put in their products, but increase the amount of sugar to add more flavor.

The best option for reducing daily sodium to healthier levels is to avoid processed foods and replace them with fresh meats, poultry and vegetables when possible. If you tend to use frozen meats or poultry, rinse them after defrosting to get rid of some of the extra salt they are soaked in before freezing.

Source: Letitia Stein, Will Dunham,

Your Child

Can Your Child Hear You?


You may think your child isn’t listening to you, but in fact, he or she may not hear you.

Twelve percent of U.S. children between the ages of 6 and 19 suffer from noise-induced hearing loss – that’s about 5.2 million children – according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 U.S. children are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.

Many hearing experts have suspected that long-term hearing loss begins in childhood and now studies have shown how common hearing impairment is among kids.

"Historically, people have been looking only at adult hearing loss and assuming that this is not a problem among children," said Amanda Niskar, a nurse at the CDC and lead author of a study released last summer. "What we have found here for the first time is that this is not true. [Hearing loss] is a progression, and it starts when you're very young."

Some hearing experts say the problem of hearing loss in kids will likely worsen, considering rising levels of environmental noise.

One of the most common contributors to kid’s hearing loss is loud music. Regular exposure to loud noises can damage nerve cells in the ear called hair cells. As the name suggests, these cells have tiny hairs that detect sound vibrations and turn them into signals sent to the brain. But while soft noises only cause the hairs to vibrate, loud noises can break them.

Brief instances of exposure to loud noise may only temporarily damage these hairs. Niskar said two hours of loud music on headphones or seven minutes next to the speakers at a rock concert result in damage that may last for only a few days. However, chronic exposures can damage the hair cells — and hearing — permanently.

Loud toys can also cause hearing impairment. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASLH) discusses toy noise on their website

“Some toys are so loud that they can cause hearing damage in children. Some toy sirens and squeaky rubber toys can emit sounds of 90 dB, as loud as a lawn mower. Workers would have to wear ear protection for similarly noisy sounds on the job.

The danger with noisy toys is greater than the 90-dB level implies. When held directly to the ear, as children often do, a noisy toy actually exposes the ear to as much as 120 dB of sound, the equivalent of a jet plane taking off. Noise at this level is painful and can result in permanent hearing loss.

Toys that pose a noise danger include cap guns, talking dolls, vehicles with horns and sirens, walkie-talkies, musical instruments, and toys with cranks. Parents who have normal hearing need to inspect toys for noise danger.

Before purchasing a new toy, listen to it. If the toy sounds loud, don’t buy it.”

Good advice to help protect your child’s hearing.

What are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss in kids? Each child is different, but there are some symptoms such as:

Signs in Babies

•       Does not startle at loud noises.

•       Does not turn to the source of a sound after 6 months of age.

•       Does not say single words, such as “dada” or “mama” by 1 year of age.

•       Turns head when he or she sees you but not if you only call out his or her name. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.

•       Seems to hear some sounds but not others.

Signs in Children

•       Speech is delayed.

•       Speech is not clear.

•       Does not follow directions. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.

•       Often says, “Huh?”

•       Turns the TV volume up too high.

If you suspect your baby may have a hearing problem, make sure that he or she has a hearing screening. It’s easy and not painful. Older children should have their hearing tested before entering school any time there is a concern about the child’s hearing. Children who do not pass the hearing screening need to get a full hearing test as soon as possible.

With Christmas and holiday shopping in full swing, make sure to test the toys you buy for your child if they produce a noise and check to see that they are not too loud for your little one to be around.

Hearing loss can affect a child’s performance in school and personal relationships. If you have any suspicions that your child is having difficulty hearing the sooner he or she is checked, the better. There are many excellent therapies for hearing loss now as opposed to even a decade ago.

Sources: Dan Childs,


Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.



Some kids are playing sports before they are potty trained? Yes! This is crazy!