Your Child

USDA New Rules: Healthier School Lunches

1.45 to read

Government funded school lunches will offer more fruit and vegetables and less fat on their lunch plates starting next September.

New guidelines by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)   were announced Wednesday when First Lady Michelle Obama, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, visited with elementary students.

"Improving the quality of the school meals is a critical step in building a healthy future for our kids," said Vilsack. "When it comes to our children, we must do everything possible to provide them the nutrition they need to be healthy, active and ready to face the future – today we take an important step towards that goal."

It’s been more than 15 years since the school lunch program has had an overhaul. The changes will affect over 32 million kids who eat at school. The new regulations will be phased in over the next three years, starting in the fall.

Under the new regulations, schools will be required to offer fruits and vegetables every day, increase the amount of whole-grain foods and reduce the sodium and fats in the foods served. Schools will also be required to offer only fat-free or low-fat milk. In addition, the menus will pay attention to portion sizes to make sure children receive calories appropriate to their age, according to Kevin Concannon, USDA under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services.

The new requirements are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law last year by President Barack Obama and championed by the First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Let's Move! campaign.

"As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet," Mrs. Obama said. "And when we're putting in all that effort the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria."

The new guidelines apply to lunches that are subsidized by the federal government. The government will help school districts pay for some of the increased costs. Schools will receive an additional 6 cents per meal in federal funding. The overall cost to implement the changes is expected to be about $3.2 billion. To help with the costs, Concannon said schools will have more flexibility in how the program is administered. Students, for example, will be allowed to pick and choose more items as they move through the line, rather than getting a plate served to them.

Some of the changes will take place as soon as this September; others will be phased in over time. The subsidized meals are served as free and low-cost meals to low-income children. The 2010 law will also extend to nutrition standards of other foods, sold in schools, that aren't subsidized by the federal government. Included will be "a la carte" foods on the lunch line and snacks in vending machines. Those standards will be written separately and have not yet been proposed by the department.

Wendy Weyer, director of nutrition services for Seattle Public Schools, said her district is already complying with many of the new USDA standards, and taking other steps, such as having partnerships with local farmers and planting school gardens. "Seattle has been very progressive with changing the way we offer meals, offering fruits and vegetables every day, as well as whole grain-rich foods," she said.

Weyer said the biggest challenge is reducing sodium content, "while keeping the meals palatable for our students."

Statistics show that about 17 percent of U.S. children and teenagers are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new standards are aimed at providing a higher nutritional content as well as a variety of healthier choices. 

“We strongly support the regulations,” said Diane Pratt-Heavner, spokeswoman for the Maryland-based School Nutrition Association. “The new nutrition standards for school meals are great news for kids.” Pratt-Heavner said parents will play an important role in supporting the new standards.  ”We all have to work to get the kids to make these healthier choices,” she said. “Students are more apt to pick up a fruit or vegetable in the lunch line if they have been introduced to those foods at home.” 

Vilsack said food companies are reformulating many of the foods they sell to schools in anticipation of the changes. "The food industry is already responding," he said. "This is a movement that has started, it's gaining momentum."

The new standards did not come easily. Congress last year blocked the Agriculture Department from making some of the desired changes, including limiting french-fries and pizzas. Conservatives in Congress called the guidelines an overreach and said the government shouldn't tell children what to eat. School districts also objected to some of the requirements, saying they go too far and would cost too much.

Some schools are already making voluntary changes in their menus, but others still serve children meals high in fat, calories and sodium.  The guidelines are designed to combat childhood obesity and are based on 2009 recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sources: http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/25/10234671-students-to-see-healthier-school-lunches-under-new-usda-rules,  http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article

Your Child

Baby Jogger Jump Seat Recall

Baby Jogger has received four reports of children falling from the seat, including reports of scrapes, bruises, cuts and one broken nose.About 1,545 Baby Jogger Jump Seat in the United States, and 450 in Canada, have been recalled because the seat does not lock properly and could allow a child to fall out.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Name of Product: Baby Jogger Jump Seats Units: About 1,545 (U.S.) and about 450 (Canada) Distributor: Baby Jogger LLC, of Richmond, Va. Hazard: If the Jump Seat does not properly lock into place, the Jump Seat could disengage from the stroller allowing the child to fall out. Incidents/Injuries: Baby Jogger has received four reports of children falling from the seat, including reports of scrapes, bruises, cuts and one broken nose. Description: This recall includes the Baby Jogger Jump Seat. The Jump Seat is a fabric seat accessory with the name "Baby Jogger" on the front that is attached to the mounting bracket on the frame of a Baby Jogger City Elite, Baby Jogger City Classic or Baby Jogger Summit stroller and allows a toddler and baby to ride together in the same stroller at the same time. The item number is printed on the product packaging. Item: Numbers J7J50 Sold: Beginning January 2008 Sold at: Juvenile products stores, mass merchandisers, and department stores nationwide and on the Web from January 2008 through July 2010 for about $100. Manufactured in: China Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the Jump Seat and contact Baby Jogger to receive Jump Seat safety straps and assembly instructions. Customer Contact: For additional information, contact Baby Jogger toll-free at (877) 506-2213 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, e-mail the firm at recall@babyjogger.com, or visit the firm's website at www.babyjogger.com Note: Health Canada's press release is available at http://cpsr-rspc.hc-sc.gc.ca/PR-RP/recall-retrait-eng.jsp?re_id=1287

Your Child

Diabetic Children May Focus Too Much On Counting Carbs

Keeping an eye on the amount of carbohydrates consumed can help young people with type 1 diabetes control their blood sugar.

Keeping an eye on the amount of carbohydrates consumed can help young people with type 1 diabetes control their blood sugar.But they should also be careful about putting too much emphasis on carb counting alone, researchers say. Nutrition counseling for children and teens with type 1 diabetes often recommends carb counting. By calculating the grams of carbohydrates in a meal or snack, diabetics can more closely control blood sugar levels and adjust their doses of insulin appropriately. The small study, published in Diabetes Care, found that parents and kids sometimes put too much emphasis on carb quantity at the expense of diet quality. In interviews with 35 8 to 21-year-olds and their parents, the researchers found that some preferred packaged processed foods to "whole" foods, like fruits, whole grains and legumes, because the carb content was readily available on the product labels. In addition, some parents limited their children's intake of healthy choices like fruit and whole grains because of their carbohydrate content. This was despite the fact that parents and kids alike usually believed that fruits and vegetables were generally healthy foods, while "junk food" and fast food should be limited.
Your Child

Kidney Stones on the Rise in Children

Kidney stones are on the rise in children and doctors are trying to determine why. Kidney stones used to be an adult problem, one that causes excruciating pain. But in recent years, kidney stones have been turning up in rising numbers at hospitals around the country. At Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the number of children treated for kidney stones since 2005 has gone from about 10 patients a year to five a week, said Dr. Pasquale Casale.

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In a 2007 study in the Journal of Urology, doctors are North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center reported a nearly fivefold increase in children brought in with kidney stones between 1994 and 2005. Eating too much salt can result in excess calcium in the urine. Some doctors blame kids' love of cheeseburgers, fries and other salty foods for the increased number of kidney stones. In children, most stones are calcium-bases. Dr. Uri Alon, director of the bone and mineral disorders clinic at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City says that children's eating habits, plus drinking too little water puts them at risk. Plenty of water is generally recommended to help prevent kidney stones. For an average-size-10-year-old about four cups of water a day on top of whatever else they are drinking is considered a good amount to dissolve the minerals in urine.

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Your Child

Dancer’s Injuries on the Rise

2.00 to read

Dancing is a wonderful artistic expression and kids have taken to tapping, pirouetting, Irish stepping and even ballroom dancing across the country.  While it can be fun and great exercise, lots of these kids are being seriously injured.

Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital looked at a national database of emergency-department visits. What they found was that the most common dance-related injuries were sprains, strains and injuries from falls. The patients were between 15 and 19 years old. 

The researchers said no one on the team is calling for parents to pull their children from dance classes, but that the results from their study suggests that instructors should look for ways to prevent injury in students who participate in the physically demanding activity.

About 113,100 children and teens were treated for dance injuries in U.S. emergency departments between 1991 and 2007, according to the research team’s estimates. During that time, the number of cases in a year increased by more than 37 percent, to about 8,500 in 2007. This is the first study to examine dance-related injuries on a national level. It was published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

With about 22,000 dance schools across the country, study author Kristen Roberts, said one reason for the increase in injuries may be that there are simply more children dancing.

Steps to prevent injury include stretching, staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest and using good form.

Eric Leighton, an athletic trainer with the Nationwide Children’s sports-medicine program, works with dancers regularly and said that repetition and fatigue often lead to injury.

“Whether it’s a pitcher throwing a lot of pitches in one inning or a dancer repeating a dance, as the muscles get tired, some of the coordination and the body’s ability to cope starts to suffer,” he said. The hospital recently started a program to focus on dance.

“They’re dancers, they’re artists, but they’re also athletes. It requires a lot of strength, stability, power and balance,” Leighton said. “Of course, they have to take all that and make it graceful and beautiful as well.”

As dancers grow, their taller, heavier bodies, combined with intense, difficult dance moves, make injuries more common, he said. Cross-training and flexibility work, such as yoga, can lower injury risk, Leighton said.

Dancing competitions can be fierce. These kids are truly athletes and like any athlete they have to work hard to achieve their goal and stay healthy during the process.

Dance instructors and parents can keep an eye on their dancers to make sure that they know their limits and do not get too fatigued – that’s when most injuries occur.  The three “Rs” are always good to keep in mind -rest, repair and re-hydrate.

Source: Misti Crane,  http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/02/11/injuries-on-rise-among-young-dancers.html

Your Child

Have a Safe Fourth of July!

2.00 to read

Fourth of July celebrations are less than 2 weeks away and that means fireworks are selling furiously. Many cities ban fireworks within city limits but people sometimes ignore the ban or find a location where setting off fireworks is legal.

A special study conducted by CPSC staff found that 65 percent of all fireworks injuries in 2011 were sustained during the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday. More than half of these injuries were the result of unexpected ignition of the device or consumers not using fireworks as intended. Fireworks injuries most often resulted in burns to the hands and head, including the eyes, face, and ears. According to the special study, sparklers, firecrackers, and aerial devices were associated with the most incidents.

It’s not only consumer grade fireworks that people like to play around with, sometimes they obtain professional grade, and that’s where things can get really dangerous. Last year, CPSC received reports of four consumers who were killed by either professional-grade or homemade firework devices, while an estimated 9,600 consumers were injured.

"For thousands of consumers, last year's 4th of July celebration ended with a visit to the emergency room," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "CPSC wants you to understand the risks with legal and illegal fireworks, in order to prevent an injury, or worse, during this holiday."

While the majority of fireworks injury reports involve emergency room treatment and release, CPSC is aware of more severe and fatal injuries that are associated with consumer use of professional-grade and homemade fireworks. Reports of faster-than-expected explosions and unpredictable flight paths of aerial devices have resulted in tragic consequences for some consumers.

In the four reported fireworks-related deaths, the victims were killed when the illegal devices exploded, causing severe trauma to the head and face, and resulting in decapitation in one incident. In other incidents involving professional-grade or homemade devices, the victims reportedly sustained severe burns and the loss of fingers.

While there is federal oversight of imported fireworks, poorly made devises with hazardous ingredients still get through.

CPSC offers these tips for consumers who decide to purchase legal fireworks are urged to take these safety steps:

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees-hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Always have an adult closely supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • 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.

The hot, dry weather is also a consideration when using fireworks. In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires. Make sure that there’s not dry brush, leaves, or tall grass in the area. Have a hose nearby or a bucket of water. If possible, soak the area with water before using the fireworks. Avoid pointing mobile fireworks at houses or trees.

Our littlest ones are at the highest risk for injury. Children ages 5-14 have twice the risk of injury and often end up in the emergency room. If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. 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.

Fireworks can be fun and are meant to be enjoyed, but you’ll enjoy them more if your family is safe.

The best place to watch fireworks is at a sponsored event. They are usually bigger, accompanied by music and the whole family can have a blast!

Sources: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12203.html, http://www.nfpa.org, http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/outdoor/fireworks.html

Your Child

Report Child Abuse

1.30 to read

Once again, a story about a child being sexually abused by someone they know and trust makes the news. Several people knew about the abuse- no one called the police.

This time the alleged abuser is a well-known college coach, and founder of a charity for high-risk kids. The man charged with the abuse had access to vulnerable children needing a helping hand and guidance. He was a leader in the community, and on the football field. The grand jury report details 40 charges involving at least eight alleged victims and spanning 15 years, beginning in 1994.

How did this go on for so long?  The answer is as simple as it is infuriating, because no one stood up for the children.

People knew this was going on. Another coach witnessed the sexual abuse and walked away. He told another coach. That coach told the two high-ranking officials at the college. Lots of people were told, no one reported the abuse to the police.

That’s how child abuse is able to continue. Whether it’s a high profile case such as this one, or your neighbor, family member or friend – people know but no one reports it to the police, or social services.

If you know about child abuse, if you suspect child abuse, you should report it. You cannot rely on a child to report his or her own sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Many children are not capable of understanding what is happening to them, and they are fearful of the consequences of saying anything.

So it’s up to you to help them. Helpguide.org is an excellent resource if you suspect or know that child abuse is happening. Some of the myths behind reporting child abuse are listed.

▪       I don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family. The effects of child abuse are lifelong, affecting future relationships, self-esteem, and sadly putting even more children at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of child abuse.

▪       What if I break up someone’s home? The priority in child protective services is keeping children in the home. A child abuse report does not mean a child is automatically removed from the home - unless the child is clearly in danger. Support such as parenting classes, anger management or other resources may be offered first to parents if safe for the child.

▪       They will know it was me who called. Reporting is anonymous. In most states, you do not have to give your name when you report child abuse. The child abuser cannot find out who made the report of child abuse.

▪       It won’t make a difference what I have to say. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t see the whole picture, others may have noticed as well, and a pattern can help identify child abuse that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

It doesn’t matter if a child is sexually, physically or emotionally abused, the results are the same; a child’s innocence, safety, health, peace of mind and future are damaged forever.

In the case making headlines today, the college, its leaders and the coaches will all pay a price. The abuser will most likely serve time if found guilty. As unpleasant as that may be for them, they are getting off easy. The real victims in this situation are the children. They will most likely spend the rest of their lives trying to understand and comes to terms with how they were sexually abused (raped), and how those who could have reached out and helped – looked the other way.

If you know about or even suspect child abuse is occurring, report it.  

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Your Child

Heavy Metals in Children’s Toys

Two years after Congress passed a law setting comprehensive limits on lead in children's products, the government needs to address other heavy metals in such products, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) testified Thursday morning.The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging Congress to address the heavy metals in children’s products.

Two years after Congress passed a law setting comprehensive limits on lead in children's products, the government needs to address other heavy metals in such products, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) testified Thursday morning. As a result of lead limits established by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, manufacturers have begun adding cadmium, a known carcinogenic, to children's products, said Dr. H. Garry Gardner before a Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection.

"This is clearly a case of abiding by the letter but not the spirit of the law — Congress hardly intended for companies to substitute one poison for another," Gardner said. The AAP recommended that eight heavy metals in American Society for Testing and Materials's voluntary toy safety standards should undergo rigorous review by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Any standards issued as part of the review should apply to all children's products and not just toys, the AAP said. The AAP also asked the CPSC to consider requirements for secure closures on devices containing small, powerful magnets that can result in major damage to the esophagus and possibly death. Nearly 8,700 "button battery" incidents were reported between 1990 and 2008, of which 62 percent involved children under the age of six, Gardner testified. What are heavy metals? Heavy metals are individual metals and metal compounds that can affect people’s health. In very small amounts, many of these metals are necessary to support life. However, in larger amounts, they become toxic. Some toxic chemicals to be aware of are Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, Hexavalent Chromium. Although it’s not listed as a toxin on the sites that test toys, some scientists and pediatricians suggest avoiding bottles and dinnerware made with Bisphenol-A. Inexpensive jewelry made in China appears to take the lead in toys with toxic metals. Consumer Reports offers these tips for avoiding heavy metals: -Don't allow children to have or play with cheap metal jewelry. -Take an inventory of your children's toys and check them against the recall list at www.cpsc.gov, which has photos and descriptions of products recalled for lead or cadmium. Also check the list if you're buying used items. -Consider do-it-yourself test kits, which can be useful though limited screening tools. -Don't drink from garden hoses, which might contain lead that can leach into water. As a precaution, wash your hands immediately after handling power cords, extension cords, and even strings of holiday lights. For a list of toys that have been tested for toxic chemicals and found free from heavy metals check out http://www.healthystuff.org/departments/toys/product.least.php?rank=none

With Holiday shopping already underway, make sure the toys you give to the little ones in your family are safe.

Your Child

Even 9-Year-Olds Can Learn CPR

Children as young as nine years old can and should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Austrian researchers say. In a study of 147 students who received six hours of life-support training, 86 percent of the children performed CPR correctly at a follow-up session four months after the training, according to the report published online in the journal Critical Care.

"The usefulness of CPR training in schools has been questioned, since young students may not have the physical and cognitive skills needed to perform such complex tasks correctly," Dr. Fritz Sterz, of the Medical University of Vienna, said. "We found that, in fact, students as young as nine years are able to successfully and effectively learn basic life-support skills. As in adults, physical strength may limit depth of chest compressions and ventilation volumes, but skill retention is good," he added. In the training program, the children were taught CPR, how to use of automatic defibrillators, the correct recovery position and how to call for emergency services. Body mass index, not age, was the major factor in depth of CPR compressions and amount of air exhalation. That means that a well-built 9-year-old child can be just as capable at CPR as an older child, the researchers said. "Given the excellent performance by the students evaluated in this study, the data support the concept that CPR training can be taught and learned by schoolchildren and that CPR education can be implemented effectively in primary schools at all levels," Sterz and colleagues concluded.

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