Your Child

Gender Identity Confusion

If your middle-years child seems to have distortions and confusions in gender identity, discuss boy and girl, male and female behavior directly with him or her. For instance, talk with your child about the specific gestures or behavior that may provoke reactions from others, and identify together some that might be more appropriate.On Wednesday,we talked about gender identity, and at what age children begin to understand the difference between being a boy or a girl. We also covered children who may not fit the stereotypical gender role.

An example would be little girls who love to play with trucks and climb trees, or young boys who might prefer reading instead of playing sports. These children may not feel comfortable with traditional gender role-playing activities, but that in itself, does not mean they are confused about their sexual identity. Gender confusion is more complicated. More than just lacking an interest in sports, for instance, some boys actually tend to identify with females. Likewise, some girls identify more with masculine traits. Conflicted about their gender, they may deny their sexuality. Rather than learn to accept themselves, they may come to dislike that part of themselves that is a boy or a girl. At the extreme, a boy may seem more effeminate and have one or more of the following characteristics: •   He wants to be a girl. •   He desires to grow up to be a woman. •   He has a marked interest in female activities, including playing with dolls or playing the roles of girls or women. •   He has an intense interest in cosmetics, jewelry, or girls' clothes and en­joys dressing up in girls' apparel. •   His favorite friends are girls. •   On rare occasions, he may cross-dress and actually consider himself to be a girl. An effeminate boy is sometimes ridiculed, teased as being "gay," and shunned by his peer group. This rejection may intensify, as the boy gets older. As a result, he may become anxious, insecure, or depressed and strug­gle with self-esteem and social relationships. On the other hand, girls who identify with boys are thought of as "tomboys." They usually encounter less social ridicule and peer difficulties than effeminate boys do. For many girls, some tomboy-ness seems to be a very natural course toward healthy adolescent gender identity. Yet there are rare girls who exhibit one or more of the following traits: •  They express a wish to be a boy. •  Their preferred peer group is male. •  When playing make-believe games, they prefer male roles over female ones. These traits suggest a conflict or confusion about gender and relationship with peers of the same sex. The possible causes of these variations are speculative and controversial. Research demonstrates a role for both biological factors and social learning in gender-identity confusion. What Should You Do? If you notice the above traits in your child, it’s normal to worry about your child’s happiness and their ability to fit in with society’s rules and roles. That’s what parents do. But, over-reacting or trying to force your child to change who they are, often brings about only more confusion and sadness. If your middle-years child seems to have distortions and confusions in gender identity, discuss boy and girl, male and female behavior directly with him or her. For instance, talk with your child about the specific gestures or behavior that may provoke reactions from others, and identify together some that might be more appropriate. Through a sensitive dialogue, you might be able to help your child better understand his or her behavior and why it gets the responses it does from peers. Providing a lot of support for your child can bolster his or her self-esteem and counteract the social and peer pressures he or she might be facing. In addition to your own efforts, talk with your pediatrician, who may suggest that you consult a child psychiatrist or child psychologist to help overcome the youngster's confusion and conflict. Sexual orientation cannot be changed. A child's heterosexuality or homosexuality is deeply ingrained as part of them. As a parent, your most important role is to offer understanding, respect, and support to your child. A non-judge-mental approach will gain your child's trust and put you in a better position to help him or her through difficult times.

Your Child

Sweet Potatoes May Help Prevent Diarrhea in Children


Orange sweet potatoes get high approval ratings from many pediatricians and family doctors because they offer a lot of health benefits and they taste good, so kids are more likely to eat them.

Recent research suggests they may also be helpful in reducing the cases of diarrhea in some young children by more than 50 percent.

Erick Boy, head of nutrition at HarvestPlus, said that the body converts the beta-carotene in the sweet potatoes to vitamin A the same day the food is eaten. That vitamin A is then used in the outer lining of the human gut, forming a barrier against different types of bacteria. Boy further explained that the gut uses surplus vitamin A from time to time to replace worn-out cells with healthy ones.

The researchers claimed that if a child below age 5 has consumed orange sweet potatoes in the past week, then the chances were 42 percent less that child would suffer from diarrhea. In children below age 3, the likelihood of developing the condition reduced by 52 percent.

Regular consumption of orange sweet potatoes also helps decrease the duration of diarrhea, the researchers claimed. The team observed that the duration was reduced by 10 percent among 5-year-olds and 25 percent in 3-year-olds.

This could be extremely helpful in countries like Africa, where 40 percent of the children are vitamin A deficient. This increases their risk of diseases such as diarrhea, which is one of the leading causes of mortality in children, taking more than 350,000 lives of children under five in Africa every year.

Vitamin A deficiency is rare n America, however, diarrhea in U.S. children is fairly common; typically related to viral infections or tainted food sources.

Sweet potatoes are easy to prepare and can be baked as fries or tater-tots, veggie muffins, made into soup, and mashed like regular potatoes. Many kids like their orange color and sweet taste. Besides being high in vitamin A, they contain vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin and are high in carotenoids. They are lower in calories than white potatoes – but a little higher in sugar.

For as sweet as they are, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index (which means they release sugar slowly into the bloodstream).

The study was published in the journal World Development.

Sources: Guneet Bhatia,




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

Bipolar Kids Focus Less on Eyes

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A new study suggests that bipolar children spend less time looking at someone’s eyes when trying to judge emotional expressions such as happy, sad, fearful and angry.

This new study finding may help explain why children with bipolar disorder and severe mood dysregulation have difficulty determining other people's emotional expressions, said the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health investigators.

The researchers tracked the eye movements of children with and without psychiatric disorders as they viewed faces with different emotional expressions. Most of the children spent more time looking at the eyes, the facial feature that conveys the most information about emotion.

Children with bipolar disorder and severe mood dysregulation paid less attention to the eyes and more attention to the noses and mouths of the faces.

"In combination with other studies, our findings indicate the potential value of treatment programs that teach children how to identify emotions by looking at others' eyes," study author Pilyoung Kim said in a society news release.

"If such training helps children to process the emotional information in their world more accurately, that may in turn increase their ability to regulate their emotional reactions to social situations," Kim added.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar is a serious brain disorder, and is sometimes referred to as manic-depressive illness.

Children with bipolar disorder go through unusual mood changes. Sometimes they feel very happy or "up," and are much more active than usual. This is called mania. Sometimes children with bipolar disorder feel very sad and "down."  They are much less active than usual. This is called depression.

Bipolar disorder is not the same as the normal ups and downs every kid goes through. Bipolar symptoms are much more powerful than that.

Bipolar youth may have more normal moods between these episodes, while the periods of depression or mania can last for days, weeks or even months. What many parents don't know is that these symptoms often mimic those attributed to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF), 15% of U.S. children diagnosed with ADHD may actually be suffering early-onset bipolar disorder instead.

What are the symptoms of bipolar or manic /depressive illness? offers these bipolar symptoms.
Manic Symptoms:

- Severe changes in mood compared to others of the same age and background - either unusually happy or silly, or very irritable, angry, agitated or aggressive

- Unrealistic highs in self-esteem - your child feels all powerful or like a superhero with special powersSignificant increase in energy and the ability to go with little or no sleep for days without feeling tired

- Increase in talking - your child talks too much, too fast, changes topics too quickly and cannot be interrupted

- Distractibility - your child's attention moves constantly from one subject to the next

- Repeated high risk-taking behavior, such as abusing alcohol and drugs, reckless driving or sexual promiscuity

Depressive Symptoms:

- Irritability, depressed mood, persistent sadness or frequent crying

- Thoughts of death or suicide

- Loss of enjoyment in favorite activities

- Frequent complaints of physical illnesses, such as headaches or stomach aches

- Low energy level, fatigue, poor concentration, complaints of boredom, etc.

- Major change in eating or sleeping patterns, such as oversleeping or overeating

Some of these signs are similar to those that occur in teens with other problems, such as drug abuse, delinquency, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or even schizophrenia. A child and adolescent psychiatrist can only make the diagnosis with careful observation over an extended period of time.

The study was presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Your Child

Measles Vaccine May Help Prevent Other Diseases


The measles vaccine may provide additional benefits beyond protecting children from the highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease.

According to a new study, by blocking the measles infection the vaccine may also prevent measles-induced immune system damage that makes children much more vulnerable to other infectious diseases for two to three years after immunization.

The immune system has the advantage of having “cellular memory” for previous infections to help fight invading microbes.

The study focused on a phenomenon called "immune amnesia" in which the measles infection destroys cells in the immune system that remembers previously encountered pathogens.

Prior research had suggested that “immune amnesia” typically lasted a month or two. The new study, based on decades of childhood health data from the United States, Denmark, England and Wales, showed the measles-induced immune damage persisted on average for 28 months.

Because of the long-term damage to the immune system by the measles infection, children that were not vaccinated and got the measles were more likely to die from other infections.

"The work demonstrates that measles may have long-term insidious immunologic effects on the immune system that place children at risk for years following infection," said Princeton University infectious disease immunologist and epidemiologist Michael Mina, whose study appears in the journal Science.

"The work also demonstrates that, in these highly developed countries prior to the introduction of measles vaccine, measles may have been implicated in over 50 percent of all childhood infectious disease deaths."

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, but increasing numbers of cases have been reported in recent years, as more people remain unvaccinated. Last year's 668 U.S. measles cases were the most since 1994, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"Our work reiterates the true importance of preserving high levels of measles vaccine coverage as the consequences of measles infections may be much more devastating than is readily observable," Mina said.

The study provided data showing that measles prevention through vaccination lowered childhood deaths from the pathogens that cause conditions such as pneumonia, sepsis, bronchitis, bronchiolitis and diarrheal diseases.

The study comes as many parents opt out of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for their children based on discredited claims about the vaccine's safety or for religious and other reasons.

The MMR vaccine has been thoroughly studied by scientists around the world and has been found safe for children. This new study shows that its benefits may last much longer than previously thought.

Source: Will Dunham,

Your Child

New Flu Vaccine for 2015-2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

During this flu season:

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

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

•       Nasal spray vaccines will all be quadrivalent this season.

•       Intradermal vaccine will all be quadrivalent.

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

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

Sources: Steven Reinberg,

Your Child

Fisher Price Toy Recall

The toy giant has recalled toys -- including tricycles and play places -- citing potential dangers from falling onto certain protruding parts and choking hazards from small parts.More than 10 million children's toys have been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the toys' manufacturer Fisher Price, the CPSC announced today.

The toy giant has recalled toys -- including tricycles and play places -- citing potential dangers from falling onto certain protruding parts and choking hazards from small parts. "Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed," the CPSC said in a statement. Here's the list of products being recalled in the U.S.: About 7 million Fisher Price Trikes and Tough Trikes toddler tricycles About 950,000 Healthy Care, Easy Clean and Close to Me High Chairs About 100,000 Fisher-Price Little People Wheelies Stand 'n Play Rampway About 2.8 million Baby Playzone Crawl & Cruise Playground, Baby Playzone Crawl & Slide Arcade, Baby Gymnastics Play Wall, Ocean Wonders Kick & Crawl Aquarium (C3068 and H8094), 1-2-3 Tetherball, Bat & Score Goal. "Pegs stick out and children have fallen on these pegs," Inez Tanenbaum, chairwoman of the CSPC told "Good Morning America" of the high chairs. "Several have been injured, and seven required stitches." For the various play place products, including Playzone and Playground, the CPSC and Fisher Price reported they were aware of 46 instances when a small piece came free from the product. In 14 of those cases, the piece was found in the child's mouth. In three of those cases, the piece had caused the child to begin choking. Wheels from other small toy cars can come off and also prevent a choking hazard. Massive Fisher Price Toy Recall "Manufacturers need to build safety into the product from the very beginning so we don't have to recall on the back end," Tanenbaum said. For a complete list of the Fisher Price toy recall products go to

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

July 4th Food and Fireworks Safety Tips


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•       Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

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

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

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

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

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

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





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