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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

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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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

Is Cereal the Best Breakfast Choice?

1.45 to read

Experts have long said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. New research now suggests that it may help prevent obesity in children as well. Kids who eat breakfast every morning have more energy throughout the day, improved learning and behavior and maintain a healthy weight according to a report released by the journal Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Previous studies have linked eating breakfast with maintaining a lower body mass index (BMI) over time. The new study looked at the role that breakfast, specifically cereal, plays in both weight and nutrition among low-income kids.

One in every four American children lives in a food insecure household where breakfast isn't a sure thing, lead author Dr. Lana Frantzen told Reuters Health.

"(Cereal) is an excellent breakfast choice, it's simple, and gets those essential nutrients that children need, especially low income minority children," who tend to be hit hardest by childhood obesity and related health problems, said Frantzen, who is employed by Dairy MAX, a regional dairy council in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Frazen and her co-authors interviewed 625 schoolchildren over a two-year period in San Antonio, Texas. Once a year they asked the children to remember what they had had to eat over the previous three days and calculated their BMI, a measure of weight relative to height.

Researchers found that as the children got older, they tended to eat breakfast less often. As fourth graders, 64 percent of the kids said they'd eaten breakfast on each of the last three days, compared to 42 percent by the time they were sixth graders.

Kids who ate cereal four out of the nine days tended to be in the 95th percentile for BMI, which is considered overweight, compared to kids who ate cereal all nine days, whose measurements were in the 65th percentile, in the healthy weight range.

Thirty-two percent of fourth graders did not eat breakfast at all, 25 percent had something other than cereal and about 43 percent had cereal.

Children who ate cereal for breakfast had higher recordings of certain nutrients than children who ate something else for breakfast or nothing at all. Kids who ate more cereal got more vitamin D, B-3, B-12, riboflavin, calcium, iron, zinc and potassium in their diets than kids who ate less cereal or none at all. They also got slightly more calories, fat, fiber and sugar.

All breakfast cereals are not the same. Many pediatricians and family doctors recommend choosing a whole grain cereal that has a low fat and sugar content as well cooked cereals such as oatmeal.

Whether it’s cereal, eggs or oatmeal, the important take away is that breakfast provides your child more energy and nutrients while helping to lower his or her chance of obesity.  Just those three things can assist tremendously in helping your child have a healthier life.

Source: Reuters, http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/kids-eat-breakfast-cereal-bmi-study-article-1.1312860

 

Your Child

Details: AAP Warns Against Sports & Energy Drinks

What is your children drinking these days? They may be reaching for popular sports and energy drinks. Not so fat say the nation's pediatricians. Pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard often has asked parents: what are kids are drinking? Sports and Energy drinks have replaced old-fashioned sodas in many schools. There is no doubt that they are a hit with kids, but not with Dr. Sue and her fellow pediatricians.

A new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that energy drinks, or any other drink with caffeine, should be off limits to children and teenagers. That includes colas and coffee drinks. "There's great concern about what caffeine does over time or in high doses to a young, growing body that's not fully mature," says Dr. Holly Benjamin, a pediatric sports medicine specialist at the University of Chicago, and coauthor of the new report, which was published in Pediatrics. "It's almost like a stress to your body." She notes. Energy drinks are packed with caffeine and other stimulants. Caffeine not only interferes with much needed sleep, but can lead to anxiety and rapid heart beats. “Rigorous review and analysis of the literature reveal that caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents,” co-wroter Marcie Schneider of American Academy of Pediatrics, in a review of energy drinks. Some of the more popular brands include Red Bull and Monster. Sports drinks do not contain caffeine but are loaded with sugar. That can cause other problems, such as obesity and tooth decay. "Kids will drink a Gatorade after school," Benjamin says. "They'll drink a Gatorade at lunch. They'll drink a Gatorade with dinner." While the AAP statement recommended against children consuming any energy drinks, the authors noted that only certain athletic children who burn off the calories they consume should occasionally drink sports drinks. Benjamin explained that athletes who exercise regularly at high intensity have a need to replenish electrolytes. “Sports drinks do have a place, but it’s in a small population. Parents need to understand that, and so do doctors.” “Basically, the biggest problem with obesity is kids are taking too many calories in their diet and they’re not able to burn off all of those calories every day, and so they gain weight,” Benjamin said. “Kids are not just overeating, but they are drinking high-calorie beverages.” What should kids be drinking to keep hydrated? Good old-fashioned  water. If your child is exercising at a moderate intensity for an hour or less, water is the best choice for hydration before and during a workout. You’ll save money if you choose tap water instead of bottled water (25% of bottled water is repackaged tap water) or sports drinks. Drinking water rather than sports drinks also saves calories – water is calorie free, while sports drinks typically pack 50 to 60 calories (and sometimes more) into a serving, and a 16-ounce bottle is 2 to 3 servings. The authors conclude that energy drinks have no place in a most student-athlete's diet. The report continually stresses the importance of teaching children and parents the substantial difference between sports and energy drinks, as both are often targeted toward the same audience. The authors also note that since beverage-makers agreed to phase out carbonated beverages in schools by the 2009-10 school year, they've upped their promotion of sports drinks as a healthier alternative. A 2007 study by the Institute of Medicine cited in the report recommended that schools prohibit energy-drink use (even for athletes), ban the sale of carbonated beverages in school, and restrict the use of sports drinks to only student-athletes engaged in intense, prolonged physical activities. While commercials promoting energy and sports drinks are designed to attract younger consumers, parents also play and important role by modeling good hydrating choices. Instead of grabbing that energy or sports drink for a little boost in the afternoon, reach for a glass or bottle of water instead.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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What do the new concussion guidelines mean to young athletes?

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