Your Child

A Little Sugar and Higher Fat In School Lunches?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•       Offer a variety of food experiences.

•       Avoid highly processed foods.

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

•       Offer appropriate portions.

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

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

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

Source: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Recommends-Whole-Diet-Approach-to-Children's-Nutrition.aspx

Your Child

Sports Video Games May Help Kids Lose Weight

1.45 to read

Video games are often blamed for an increase in childhood obesity, but a new study suggests that certain types of games may actually assist kids in losing weight. Sports video games that require kids to actively participate may actually offer obese or overweight kids a new tool to help drop those extra pounds. 

The 16 - week study, sponsored by United Health Group, showed that overweight kids who expended energy by playing bowling, soccer or track and field video games, compared to those that simply followed a weight loss program, lost more than two and half times their Body Mass Index (BMI). That’s a pretty remarkable loss.

The study was based on a trial weight loss program that the United Health Group launched in 2011. The program is called Join for Me.

Join for Me borrows from the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program, conducted by the National Institutes of Health. It demonstrated that healthy eating and regular exercise along with counseling were more effective than medication at preventing diabetes. The success of that study led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch a similar 16-week program for adults in partnership with the YMCA and UnitedHealth. “Why not use the same winning formula?” says Deneen Vojta, a pediatrician in charge of clinical affairs at UnitedHealth, and a principal investigator on the JOIN for ME study.

Voita and other researchers decided to add sports video games to the weight loss program, hoping it would prod kids, ages 8 to 12, to increase their activity. Of the 75 kids in the program, 34 were given Microsoft’s Xbox 360 consoles and received two games, Kinnect Adventures and Kinnect Sorts.

Notably, children did not receive instructions on how long to use the games. Although Vojta doesn’t know whether the kids exercised the whole time in front of a screen, that group registered an additional 7.4 minutes a day in moderate to vigorous activity, which could translate into a yearly loss of four pounds of fat.

Although the results were impressive, two drawbacks remain; the games and console are expensive and kids often get bored with and tend to stop playing them after awhile.

Vojta is considering offering JOIN for ME online, which could lower costs, and make it more widely available. “No one believes that gaming 
is going to solve obesity,” she says.  “It’s a signal for the health care and gaming industries that although passive screen time contributed to obesity, it could contribute to a solution.”

These kinds of sports games are not a quick fix for kids who typically do not get much exercise, eat a diet high in calories and fat and are overweight or obese. However, entertaining video games that require active physical participation might be a good additional tool to help overweight children slim down. 

Source: Zina Moukheiber, http://www.forbes.com/sites/zinamoukheiber/2014/03/03/unitedhealth-study-shows-sports-video-games-help-children-lose-weight/

Your Child

Reducing the Spread of Enterovirus-D68 in Children

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While the first case of Ebola in the U.S. has captured the headlines, another virus that is actually having an impact on our kids, is picking up steam across the country.

43 states and the District of Columbia have reported over 500 confirmed cases of Enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68).

The virus was first isolated in1962 in California and had been considered a rather rare virus with only small pockets of cases reported regularly to the CDC since 1987. However, this year the number of cases is increasing rapidly

There has been one confirmed death from the virus: a four year-old boy from New Jersey. Four other deaths have been linked to EV-D68, but it’s still unclear whether the children actually died from the virus or whether there was an underlying condition that caused their death.

One thing the experts agree on is that the number of cases this year is higher and more severe than in other years. Health officials are also trying to determine if the virus is associated with cases of muscle weakness or paralysis that have struck 10 children in the Denver area. Similar cases have been reported in Massachusetts, Michigan and Missouri.

Infants, children and teenagers are the most likely to become infected with the enterovirus. It’s spread like any other virus; an infected person sneezes, coughs or touches a surface.

Doctors want parents to know that children with asthma or breathing problems are at risk for the more severe symptoms from EV-D68.

"Children with pre-existing lung conditions, such as asthma, appear to be at the greatest risk for severe symptoms from this virus. Most EV-D68 infected children recover without serious illness," Dr. Albert Rizzo, senior medical advisor at the American Lung Association, said in a news release.

Most children will recover from EV-D68 just as they would from any other cold-related virus, but there are symptoms- that if present- need immediate attention.

"It is important for parents to understand that children with this infection who have asthma or a history of wheezing episodes are at higher risk for increased symptoms of shortness of breath and wheezing and are more likely to need specific treatment to address this problem. This means quick contact with their pediatrician or family doctor and even a trip to the emergency room, or a call to 911 is appropriate if respiratory distress is present," Rizzo advised.

At this time there is no vaccine for EV-D68, but there are actions that adults and children can take to help prevent infection. They are:

·      Washing hands often with soap and water, for 20 seconds each time.

·      Not touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

·      Avoiding contact such as kissing, hugging or sharing eating utensils or cups and glasses with people who are sick.

·      Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

You can also check with your child’s school or daycare center about what actions are being taken to help prevent the spread of colds and viruses.

Earlier in the virus season, there was not as much concern about EV-D68 in the medical community because it was considered a rare virus that would likely be contained, just like in past years. However, this year is proving to be different than expected and doctors are now warning parents to keep a closer eye on their children’s symptoms if they are sick, especially if any breathing difficulties arise. It’s much better to get checked out as far as this virus is concerned.

Source: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/asthma-news-47/experts-give-advice-on-respiratory-virus-that-has-struck-kids-across-the-u-s-692372.html

http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/EV-D68.html

Your Child

Dancer’s Injuries on the Rise

2.00 to read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Child

Have a Safe Fourth of July!

2.00 to read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees-hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Always have an adult closely supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

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

Our littlest ones are at the highest risk for injury. Children ages 5-14 have twice the risk of injury and often end up in the emergency room. If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don't flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and immediately seek medical attention — your child's eyesight may depend on it. If it's a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn (do not use ice). Call your doctor immediately.

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

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

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

Your Child

Report Child Abuse

1.30 to read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Your Child

Heavy Metals in Children’s Toys

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

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

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

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

Your Child

Even 9-Year-Olds Can Learn CPR

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

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

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Your Child

Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked

A new study has found that about 20 percent of children with sensorineural hearing loss also have eye disorders. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage of the inner ear or to the nerves that link the ear to the brain and affects up to three of every 1,000 children. Half of all cases in children are due to genetics. One gene, GJB2, accounts for a large proportion of sensorineural hearing loss in Caucasians.

The study, published in the February issued of Archives of Otolaryngology - - Head & Neck Surgery, looked at the data of 226 children with sensorineural hearing loss. Of that group, 21.7 percent had eye disorders including problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. "A multidisciplinary approach is important in the evaluation and treatment of children with sensorineural hearing loss to ensure that their medical, education and social needs are met," the study concluded. "Ophthalmologic evaluation can be beneficial for patients by allowing ophthalmologists to diagnose (and possibly treat) co-existing disorders that affect vision and by helping otolaryngology to determine cause of sensorineural hearing loss." More Information: Hearing Loss in Children

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