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Your Child

Household Bleach Causing Flu and Infections in Kids?

1:30

One of the most popular disinfectants used in household cleaning is bleach. From cleaning wipes to straight out of the bottle, bleach is used to clean surfaces, remove mold and brighten clothes.

As far back as 3000 B.C. a form of bleach was used to brighten white clothes. Shakespeare even made reference to bleaching in 1598. But it was around 1913 that bleach was touted as a disinfectant. In many of today’s households, products containing bleach are used as a surface sanitizer to kill bacteria.

A new study from the Netherlands says the cleaning agent may increase children’s risk for flu, tonsillitis and other infections. The study did not prove cause and effect, but suggested that bleach and other similar cleaning products may be contributors to these types of illnesses.

The study was led by Lidia Casas, of the Center for Environment and Health at KU Leuven in Leuven, the Netherlands. Her team looked at more than 9,000 children, aged 6 to 12, in the Netherlands, Finland and Spain.

Those whose parents used bleach to clean their homes at least once a week had higher rates of respiratory and other types of infections. Specifically, Casas and colleagues found that these children had a 20 percent higher risk of having the flu at least once in the previous year, a 35 percent higher risk of recurrent tonsillitis and an 18 percent higher risk for any recurrent infection.

According to the study’s authors, airborne components of bleach and similar products may irritate the lining of children's lungs, triggering inflammation and making it easier for infections to take hold. Or, bleach may somehow suppress the immune system, making infections more likely, the team said.

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI), which represents makers of bleach and bleach products, responded quickly to the study.

"Since there was no data presented on the children's actual exposure to bleach -- nor any diagnoses of actual diseases -- the authors are merely speculating," the ACI said in a statement. The group also said that disinfecting household surfaces with bleach can protect people from bacterial infection.

Responses to the study from medical specialists have been mixed.

"While this study observes higher respiratory effects of bleach on children, it is not a cause-and-effect study, and other factors or household cleaners may be involved," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"There is evidence that high concentrations of bleach can cause asthmatic reactions when ventilation is not adequate, but the leap to increased incidence of infections is less clear," he said.

Dr. Jacqueline Moline, vice president of population health at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y., noted, "These results are in line with other studies that show the impact of cleaning products on the health of young children."

Moline also said that parents might want to consider using a different product for household cleaning, "the take-home message from this study is that one should be prudent in the use of harsh household cleaners with bleach or other chemicals, especially in homes with young children, and seek out less toxic or harsh products to clean the home."

The study was published online in the April edition of the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/asthma-news-47/could-household-bleach-raise-kids-risk-for-flu-other-infections-698036.html

Your Child

Brief Exercise May Help Prevent Type2 Diabetes in Kids

1:45

Type2 diabetes used to be called “ adult-onset diabetes” for a good reason. It was typically found in older adults. That’s not the case any longer. The numbers of children diagnosed with type2 diabetes is skyrocketing and child health experts are looking for ways to bring the numbers down.

A new study suggests that even brief spurts of exercise may lower children’s blood sugar levels and help protect them against type2 diabetes.

The study of 28 healthy, normal-weight children found that doing three minutes of moderate-intensity walking every half hour over three hours of sitting led to lower levels of blood sugar and insulin, compared to another day when the children sat for three hours straight.

On the day the children took brief walks, they did not eat any more at lunch than on the day they remained seated for the entire three hours.

Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health said that even short bouts of exercise during otherwise inactive periods could help prevent diseases like type2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer in children.

"We know that 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity benefits children's health," study senior author Dr. Jack Yanovski, chief of the section on growth and obesity at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a government news release.

"It can be difficult to fit longer stretches of physical activity into the day. Our study indicates that even small activity breaks could have a substantial impact on children's long-term health," he added.

Along with diet, inactivity is a major contributor to developing type2 diabetes. American children are now spending about six hours a day either sitting or reclining, researchers said. That was almost unheard of just a couple of generations ago.

In a news release, study author, Britni Belcher, a cancer prevention fellow at the U.S. National Cancer Institute and an assistant professor at the University of Southern California, said that "Sustained sedentary behavior after a meal diminishes the muscles' ability to help clear sugar from the bloodstream. "

Belcher also explained,  "That forces the body to produce more insulin, which may increase the risk for beta cell dysfunction that can lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes. Our findings suggest even short activity breaks can help overcome these negative effects, at least in the short term."

It’s become far too easy for children to be sedentary with using computers, smart phones and video games as their main activities. Children are much more likely to engage in physical activity if it is part of a family health plan. While it may be easy to get caught up in sitting or reclining on the couch for long periods of time, it may change your child’s future health prognosis by interrupting those types of activities and getting them up and moving around more – even for short spurts.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/diabetes-information-10/type-ii-diabetes-news-183/briefs-emb-8-27-1pmet-kids-exercise-health-jcem-nih-release-batch-1913-702656.html

 

Your Child

Could Health Warnings on Sodas Change Parents Buying Habits?

2:00

 In 1966, health warnings from the U.S. Surgeon General were added to cigarette packages to inform people of the dangers associated with smoking. Did it have an impact? Experts have mixed opinions.  Some say the warnings may have helped prevent some people from starting to smoke but long time smokers pretty much ignored them. Others say the warnings definitely have caused some smokers to stop while others say the warnings have not been effective at all.

What if there were health warning labels on sodas, would that make parents less likely to buy those beverages for their child? A new study says yes.

Lead researcher, Christina Roberto, and her colleagues wanted to know if health warnings- similar to cigarette warnings- would have an impact on purchasing. They conducted an online survey of nearly 2,400 parents who had at least one child aged 6 to 11 years.

 In a simulated online shopping experiment, parents were divided into six groups to "buy" drinks for their kids. One group saw no warning label on the beverages they would buy; another saw a label listing only calories. The other four groups saw various warning labels about the potential health effects of sugary beverage intake, including weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

 The health warning labels appeared to have the largest influence on the parents.

 Overall, only 40 percent of those who looked at the health warning labels chose a sugary drink. But, 60 percent of those who saw no label chose a sugary drink, as did  53 percent of those who saw the calorie-only label did.

 There were no significant buying differences between the groups seeing the calorie-only label and no label, the findings showed.

 "The warning labels seem to help in a way that the calorie labels do not," said Roberto, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

 The study findings make sense, said Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern  Medical Center at Dallas. "Just as we see with public health efforts to decrease smoking with warning labels, warning labels about sugary drinks will be effective with some parents but not all," she said.

 "Based on the study," she added, "it appears some will take the information to heart, but about 40 percent still chose sugary beverages in the study. That is still a big number. Nonetheless, it adds another layer of educating and influencing parents to try to make healthier choices for their children."

Currently, there are no such labels on sodas, although California is considering a policy change in sodas sold in that state.

 "Not all research is supportive of the claims made on the warning label used in this study," Sandon said. "Obesity and diabetes occur as a result of a number of factors working together -- such as physical inactivity, high-fat high-calorie food choices, genetic predisposition, etcetera -- not sugary drinks alone."

 The American Beverage Association issued a statement responding to the study: "Consumers want factual information to help make informed choices that are right for them, and America's beverage companies already provide clear calorie labels on the front of our products. A warning label that suggests beverages are a unique driver of complex conditions such as diabetes and obesity is inaccurate and misleading. Even the researchers acknowledge that people could simply buy other foods with sugar that are unlabeled."

 So, if health warnings were added to sodas and other high-sugary drinks would it make a difference in parent’s buying habits? Opinions on that will probably be the same as for cigarette health warnings; mixed and passionate.

Source: Kathleen Doheny, http://consumer.healthday.com/diabetes-information-10/sugar-health-news-644/health-warning-labels-would-help-parents-avoid-sugary-drinks-706987.html

Your Child

Kids and Caffeine

2.00 to read

While sipping on a coffee-laced Frappuccino, I’m reading about a current study on caffeine and kids. It made me think about my own dependence on caffeine and when it started. For as long as I can remember, my parents would drink several cups of coffee in the morning before going to work, and even as late as right before they retired for the night.  I suspect my mother had a cup while I was busy being born.

I can’t remember exactly when I joined the family coffee drinking ritual, but I know I was pretty young.  Fall and winter demanded hot steaming cups of coffee and iced coffee helped cool the torturous Texas summers. Spring was a combination of both. Sometimes I think that by now, there’s probably coffee bean residue percolating in my blood stream. 

I kind of wish that I’d never started drinking coffee, because it’s the caffeine I really crave- not necessarily the taste of the brew.  When I’ve tried to quit, my body and mind rebels with headaches and bad attitudes. Which brings me back to the study on kids and caffeine.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that children and teens are now getting less caffeine from soda, but more from caffeine-heavy energy drinks and coffee.

"You might expect that caffeine intake decreased, since so much of the caffeine kids drink comes from soda," said the study's lead author, Amy Branum, a statistician at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. "But what we saw is that these decreases in soda were offset by increases in coffee and energy drinks."

Not too long ago, energy drinks were just a fad, something that was more likely to give you the shakes than boost your energy level. That was before they were tweaked and bottled or canned in fruity flavors, sugary beverages and clever advertising. Once kids (and adults) got a taste of the “new and improved” tasty stimulates, the caffeinated beverages began to become a part of every day life – at least Monday through Friday when school and work beckoned.

"In a very short time, they have gone from basically contributing nothing to 6 percent of total caffeine intake," Branum said.

“Energy drinks have more caffeine than soda,. That's their claim to fame," she said. "That's what they're marketed for."

So, what effect does excessive caffeine intake have on our kids? Scientists are not sure yet. There are concerns and a lot of questions about the possible adverse consequences for kids who are still developing.  Caffeine addiction, obesity from sugar heavy beverages, high blood pressure, rapid heart beats and anxiety are some of the side –effects researchers are exploring. 

Using data from the 1999 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Branum's team estimated that 73 percent of American children consume some level of caffeine each day.

Although much of their caffeine still comes from soda, the proportion has decreased from 62 percent to 38 percent. At the same time, the amount of caffeine kids get from coffee rose from 10 percent in 2000 to 24 percent in 2010, the researchers found.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents and in general, caffeine-containing beverages, including soda, should be avoided. The AAP suggests that children should drink water or moderate amounts of juice instead.

The genie is probably out of the preverbal bottle as far as some adolescents and college-aged kids are concerned.  Although, if they are more aware of the possible health risks associated with excessive caffeinated beverages, they may decide to look at healthier energy producing sources such as exercise, meditation and more rest.

Where parents can have the most influence is with their younger children.  Refraining from purchasing caffeinated products (there’s even “energy” gum) and keeping them out of the home is a good first step.

And by all means, avoid introducing your kids to coffee at a young age. It might seem kind of cute, but twenty years down the road, they may wish you hadn’t slid that first cup of java their way.

The report was published in the February edition of the online journal Pediatrics.

Sources: Steven Reinberg,  http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20140210/energy-drinks-coffee-increasing-sources-of-caffeine-for-kids-cdc-says

www.aap.org

Your Child

New Guidelines for Tonsillectomies

Most children who get repeated throat infections probably don’t need surgery to remove their tonsils and would improve in time with careful monitoring, according to new clinical guidelines on tonsillectomies in children.

The new guidelines also suggest, however, that removal of the tonsils, or tonsillectomy, may improve problems tied to poor sleep, including bed-wetting, slow growth, hyperactive behavior, and poor school performance. In fact, sleep-disordered breathing -- a set or problems that range from snoring to obstructive sleep apnea - is now the most common reason for tonsil removal in kids younger than 15. “We used to think that only if you were an air traffic controller did it matter if you slept well or not, and now we know that’s not the case,” says Amelia F. Drake, MD, chief of the division of pediatric otolaryngology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. More than half a million tonsillectomies are performed each year on children in the U.S., making it the second most common surgery in this age group, just behind procedures to place tubes in the ears to relieve recurrent ear infections. Despite the fact that it is a mainstay of American medicine, experts have long disagreed about how useful or appropriate tonsillectomies may be. The new guidelines, published Monday by the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, are the first set of official recommendations on tonsillectomy published in the U.S. The guidelines aim to give doctors and parents more information about when tonsillectomy may be warranted and to help minimize the risks and pain of this procedure in young patients. “I thought they were very comprehensive,” says Drake, who reviewed the new recommendations but was not involved in drafting them. “This is an area where improvements and refinements can have a huge impact. This is medicine at its core.” New Criteria for Removing Tonsils The guidelines update a set of clinical indicators for tonsillectomies published in 2000 by the American Academy of Otolaryngology, which suggested that doctors could consider taking out the tonsils if a child had at least three cases of swollen and infected tonsils in a year. The new guideline, however, says that kids should have at least seven episodes of throat infection, such as tonsillitis or strep throat in a year, or at least five episodes each year for two years, or three episodes annually for three years, before they become candidates for surgery, and that those infections should be documented by a doctor, rather than just reported by parents. The idea, experts said, was to reserve surgery only for the most severely affected, because the surgery can rarely have serious complications including infections and serious bleeding. “Children who have fewer episodes really aren’t going to see a lot of benefit,” says Jack L. Paradise, MD, professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “There aren’t many kids, overall, who meet those stringent criteria,” Paradise says. What’s more, Paradise, and other experts stress, that even children who satisfy the guidelines shouldn’t get an automatic green light for surgery. “I’m not sure, if I had a child that met all the criteria, that I’d automatically subject the child to the consequences of that,” Paradise says, “Post-operatively, it’s a very painful procedure.” The tonsils are cone-shaped lumps of tissue embedded in the throat, and they are believed to play a role in how the body responds to infections, though experts aren’t exactly sure how. But in the early part of the 20th century, the tonsils were blamed as the “focus of infection” in the body, and doctors began taking them out as a way to promote good health. The operation became so common for example, that entire classrooms of youngsters would get their tonsils taken out at school. But by the 1970s, many experts were questioning how effective and appropriate it was to subject kids to a painful operation that could have rare but serious complications; all for what new research suggested were minimal improvements in the risk of sore throats. At the same time, however, doctors were starting to become more aware of the myriad problems tied to sleep disordered breathing in children, a spectrum of problems that can range from snoring to obstructive sleep apnea. And more tonsils began to be taken out as a way to open up the airway and improve sleep. Improvement in Care for Kids Having Surgery Several of the guidelines suggest ways doctors and parents can improve the care of children having tonsillectomies. One of the strongest recommendations is against the use of antibiotics just before or just after surgery. “They are commonly given, and there’s no evidence that antibiotics offer any benefit,” says study researcher Reginald F. Baugh, MD, professor and chief of otolaryngology at the University of Toledo Medical Center in Ohio. “You run the risk of allergic reactions and there are the harms of over-prescribing.” In drafting the statement that advises doctors to counsel parents about the importance of pain management in kids after surgery, Baugh says the panel that reviewed the evidence behind the guidelines was alarmed to learn that many parents don’t give medications to control pain after the procedure. “That was one thing we really learned, about the importance of telling parents about the need to give pain meds in these kids,” Baugh says.

Your Child

Family Dog Responsible for Most Bite Injuries

2:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

·      Both genders were affected (55 percent male)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

·      Take time to train and socialize your dogs.

·      Keep dogs mentally stimulated by walking and exercising them.

·      Teach children appropriate ways to interact with animals.

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

·      Tensed body

·      Stiff tail

·      Pulled back head and/or ears

·      Furrowed brow

·      Eyes rolled so the whites are visible

·      Yawning

·      Flicking tongue

·      Intense stare

·      Backing away

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

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

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

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

 

 

Your Child

Watch Out for Caramel Apples!

1:45

Caramel apples, a popular treat for Halloween and fall parties, can make someone very sick if they have not been refrigerated and contain dipping sticks, researchers warn in a new study.

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria and dipping sticks are the culprits. Because caramel has a low amount of water and apples are acidic, neither are normal breeding grounds for listeria, explained study author Kathleen Glass, associate director of the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

However, piercing an apple with a dipping stick causes a bit of apple juice to leak out and become trapped under a layer of caramel, creating an environment that aids the growth of listeria already present on the apple's surface, Glass explained.

When listeria is already present, it can survive refrigeration and even freezing. But both methods for storage can help prevent listeria from developing when it is not present.

Researchers studied the growth of the listeria bacteria on caramel apples that were stored at room temperature versus caramel apples that were refrigerated. They found that the amount of listeria on unrefrigerated apples with sticks increased 1,000-fold, while listeria growth on unrefrigerated apples without sticks was delayed, the investigators found.

Refrigerated apples with sticks had no listeria growth for a week, but then had some growth over the next three weeks. Refrigerated apples without sticks had no listeria growth over four weeks, the findings showed.

To be safe, you should buy refrigerated caramel apples or eat them fresh, Glass advised.

Packaged caramel apples were responsible for a serious Listeriosis outbreak in 2014 in which 35 people in 12 states were infected and seven died, the researchers said.

If caramel apples are a favorite in your family, make sure they are either eaten right away after being made or refrigerated. If you purchase them, make sure they come from a refrigerated compartment and have not been sitting out in the store at room temperature.

Symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea may begin a few days after you've eaten contaminated food, but it may take as long as two months before the first signs and symptoms of infection begin.

If the listeria infection spreads to your nervous system, signs and symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion or changes in alertness, loss of balance or convulsions.

Seek emergency care if you experience any of these symptoms and you believe you may have eaten contaminated food.

Healthy people can usually tolerate a listeria infection, but the disease can be fatal to unborn babies and newborns. People who have weakened immune systems also are at higher risk of life-threatening complications. Prompt antibiotic treatment can help curb the effects of listeria infection.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/food-poisoning/20151014/caramel-apples-can-harbor-listeria-study-finds

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/listeria-infection/basics/definition/con-20031039

 

 

 

 

 

Your Child

Lung Ultrasounds as Effective as Chest X-Rays for Detecting Pneumonia

1:45

Traditionally, when a child shows up at the ER or physician’s office with suspected pneumonia, a chest x-ray is ordered to verify a diagnosis.

A new report says that lung ultrasounds may offer a safer and equally effective alternative for diagnosing pneumonia in children.

"Ultrasound is portable, cost-saving and safer for children than an X-ray because it does not expose them to radiation," explained study leader Dr. James Tsung. He is an associate professor in the departments of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

Ultrasound, also called sonography, is an imaging method that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images that lead to diagnosis and treatment of many diseases and medical conditions. Radiation is not used in ultrasound testing, but is used in x-rays and CT scans.

The study looked at 191 emergency department patients, aged 21 and younger, who were randomly assigned to either an investigational group or a control group.

Patients in the investigational group had lung ultrasound and, if additional verification was needed, a follow-up chest X-ray. Those in the control group had a chest X-ray followed by lung ultrasound.

The patients in the investigational group had nearly 39 percent fewer chest X-rays, with no missed cases of pneumonia and no increase in complications. The reduction in chest X-rays led to overall cost savings of $9,200 and an average decrease in time spent in the emergency department of 26 minutes, according to the study published April 12 in the journal Chest.

"Our study could have a profound impact in the developing world where access to radiography is limited," Tsung said in an Icahn news release.

Pneumonia is a leading cause of death among children worldwide. Chest X-ray is considered the best way to diagnose pneumonia in children, but about three-quarters of the world's population does not have access to X-rays, according to the World Health Organization.

Parents in the U.S. may want to request a lung ultrasound instead of a chest x-ray when that option is available, to avoid their child’s exposure to radiation.

Story source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160413/lung-ultrasound-may-be-best-to-spot-pneumonia-in-kids-study

Your Child

Healthy Diet Improves Reading Skills

1:00

Good nutrition not only improves your child’s physical condition but may also advance his or her reading abilities, according to a new Finnish study.

Researchers in Finland found students' reading skills improved more between first grade and third grade if they didn't eat a lot of sugary foods or red meat, and if their diet consisted mainly of vegetables, berries and other fruits, as well as fish, whole grains and unsaturated fats.

The study involved 161 students between the ages of 6 and 8 (first through 3rd grade). Researchers reviewed the children's diets and their reading ability using food diaries and standardized reading tests.

The study showed that a healthier diet was associated with better reading skills by third grade, regardless of how well the students could read in first grade, the researchers said.

"Another significant observation is that the associations of diet quality with reading skills were also independent of many confounding factors, such as socioeconomic status, physical activity, body adiposity [fat] and physical fitness," study author Eero Haapala said in a University of Eastern Finland news release. He is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyvaskyla.

As with most studies, the research did not prove cause and effect, but an association between the foods the students ate and their reading skills.

The study's authors noted that parents, schools, governments and corporations all have an opportunity to enhance academic performance in schools by making healthy foods more available to children.

The study was published recently in the European Journal of Nutrition.

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/food-and-nutrition-news-316/healthy-diet-may-boost-children-s-reading-skills-714811.html

 

 

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

If your child snores, is this a sign of something more serious?

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