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Your Child

It’s Official; CDC Says Flu is Epidemic

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The flu has reached epidemic levels in the United States, with 15 children dead so far this season, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported at the end of December 2014.

Every year, the U.S. reaches a point where the number of flu cases enters the epidemic stage.  There’s no way to tell right now if this year’s flu season will end up being more or less severe than previous ones. Those statistics won’t be available till later in the year.

No state will be spared this season with more flu cases and deaths’ increasing in the next few weeks says Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in CDC's influenza division. "We are in the middle of flu season," Jhung said. "It's a safe bet that we are going to see flu activity continue to increase for a few more weeks. We are going to see every state in the country affected by flu."

The number of children’s deaths from flu changes every year. The latest victim may be a 17 year-old-girl in Minnesota. She was diagnosed with the flu and sent home to recover. Shanna Zwanziger had the flu for about a week before she died says her family. Her mother said Shanna was given the choice of whether to get the vaccine or not, and she chose not to.

The South, Midwest and Western states have been especially hard hit this flu season. At least six children have died in Tennessee and four in Minnesota, according to published reports.

The predominant flu strain this season is the H3N2 virus, the CDC says. This virus is not well matched to this year's flu vaccine, but what part this mismatch is playing in flu deaths isn't known, Jhung said.

The CDC acknowledges that that this year’s flu vaccine is not a good match for the most dominant strain of the virus. That’s because there’s not just one type of flu and the virus can mutate. This year’s vaccine was created before one of the viruses mutated. However, experts say that getting this year’s vaccine can still help protect you and can help make symptoms less severe if you get the flu.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot. It's not too late to get vaccinated, Jhung said. More than one type of flu is circulating, and the vaccine protects against at least three strains of circulating virus, he added.

"If you encounter one of those viruses where there is a very good match, then you will be well-protected," he said. "Even if there isn't a great match, the vaccine still provides protection against the virus that's circulating."

Many people get the flu and recover at home. They spend anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks feeling very bad and then start to feel better. But others face life-threatening complications – such as pneumonia- according to the CDC.

Jhung says parents should always take the flu seriously, and get medical help if their child is very sick.

Warning signs might include a cough that disrupts sleep, a fever that doesn't come down with treatment, or increased shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

There are treatments for the flu such as Tamiflu and Relenza. "Those work best when they are given very quickly. So if you do have signs and symptoms of flu, reach out to a health care provider and get evaluated," Jhung said.

The flu season moves into its later stage in January and February, with different flu types taking the lead. It’s not too late to get your family the flu shot. They are still available at physician’s offices as well as at many pharmacies and health care centers.

Sources: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/flu-now-epidemic-in-u-s-with-15-child-deaths-reported-695066.html

Liz Neporent, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/years-subpar-flu-shot-save-life/story?id=27898830

Your Child

Make It a Safe Summer!

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Summer is a time when lots of family create life-long memories. Vacations offer a chance for everyone to get away from the daily grind and explore someplace new. Some families choose to spend the summer closer to home with a “staycation.” You can still relax, have fun and spend time together without the added expense of travel.

One experience a family doesn’t want to have is when someone is injured or worse or falls ill during the summer break. To help make summer is a little safer remember these common sense safety tips.

Water Safety: Probably the number one danger to children in the summer is drowning.

·      Make sure your child learns how to swim.

·      Never leave your child unattended around water. We know it sounds strict, but there is no room for compromise on this one. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.

·      Drowning is silent. Always watch your child when they are in a pool, lake, ocean or pond.

·      Have a flotation device nearby to toss into the water for a child to grab if they are tired or in danger.

·      If you cannot swim, make sure that there is an adult who can swim with you when your children are in the water.

·      Put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to do and give young children 100 percent of your attention when they are near or around water.

·      Keep pool areas fenced and locked when no one is in the pool.

·      Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.

·      Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. It’s also a good idea to keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed. 

·      Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.

Hot Cars: Another danger for small children is hot cars. When a child dies or is injured in a hot car, it’s one of the most preventable tragedies. Parents and caregivers can forget they have a small child in the back seat of a car, or they can leave them in the car not realizing how fast the temperature will rise in a very short time. Occasionally, a child will enter a parked car and accidently lock themselves in. 

·      Always look before you lock your car.

•       Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.

•       Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Put something you’ll need in the back seat- like a briefcase or purse.

•       If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.

•       Never leave a child unattended in a car. Opening windows will not prevent heatstroke. Heatstroke can happen on cloudy days and when the temperature outside is below 70 degrees.

•       If your traveling with several children, do a head count – see each child- before locking or leaving the car.

•       If your child is missing, check your car first thing.

If you see an unattended child alone in a car, take action!. Don’t wait more than a couple of minutes for the driver to return. If you see a child is unresponsive or in distress; call 911. Get the child out of the car then spray the him or her with cool water (not an ice bath). If the child is responsive, stay with them until help arrives. Send someone else to find the driver.

Food Safety: Who doesn’t love a good picnic or grilled meal? However, food borne illnesses are not something you’ll enjoy.

•       Keep cold foods cold.

•       Don’t keep any foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours -- or 1 hour if it’s warmer than 90 degrees.

•       Don’t reuse platters that have held raw meat until you wash them thoroughly.

•       Keep your grill away from buildings and branches.

•       Don’t let grease build up.

•       Never leave your grill unattended.

•       Keep kids and pets away.

•       Does yours use propane? Test for leaks before the season starts. If you ever smell gas while you’re cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department.

Bug Bites: Summer brings bugs, ticks, bees, mosquitoes, fire ants, chiggers, spiders and other pests.

Mosquitoes are more than a bother. They can spread West Nile virus. Most people who get the virus have no symptoms at all. But very serious and sometimes fatal illness can happen in less than 1% of those infected.

The only way to avoid West Nile is to avoid mosquito bites. Wear mosquito repellent and, if weather permits, long pants and long sleeves outside from dusk to dawn.

At home, get rid of standing water in birdbaths, buckets, and tire swings. They’re breeding grounds for mosquitos.

A bite from a tick is not usually a big deal, but the wrong type of tick can cause real problems. Ticks can cause diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection that occurs mostly in the South Atlantic region in the U.S. If the family is trekking in wooded areas. Make sure that everyone is: 

•       Wearing light-colored long pants, so it’s easier to spot ticks.

•       Tucks their pants into socks or high-top boots or tape them to boots.

•       Wearing a hat and long-sleeved shirt, tucked in.

•       Sprays or rubs insect repellent on the tops of boots, exposed area of socks, and pants openings (inside cuffs, waistband, and fly).

•       Using insect repellant with DEET on your exposed skin.  For children, choose a repellent with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET. If your pets go outside, check them regularly for ticks so they don't bring them in the house.

Fire ants have a painful bite and some children are allergic to them. Check your yard for fire ant mounds and if you find any, have them removed professionally.

If you’ve ever had chigger bites, you know how miserable they are. Keep your grass cut short and use bug repellent. Shoes and socks also offer some protection.

During bug season, a good repellent is going to be your best bet to protect your child and yourself from many of these pesky critters.

Shark Attacks: If you’re headed to the ocean, sunburn is more likely to be a problem for your child than a shark bite, however, this year is quickly on the way to setting a record for shark attacks. Here are some ways to lessen the risks.

•       Avoid being in the water at twilight, when sharks are most active.

•       Don’t go in the water if you’re bleeding.

•       Don’t wear shiny jewelry when you swim. It could look like fish scales to a shark.

•       Know that sharks are sometimes near the shore. Sandbars can trap them close to the beach at low tide.

•       Skip swimming after heavy rains, which may move some freshwater fish, including sharks, into areas they would not otherwise frequent.

Sunburn: Summertime can mean sunburn time as well. Not only are they painful; but sunburns can do more damage to the skin long after it has healed. Children are more prone to sunburn because of their delicate skin.

Try to keep your child out of the sun when the peak ultraviolet rays occur (between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.).

In addition, follow these guidelines:

•       Always use a sunscreen to block the damaging ultraviolet rays. Choose a sunscreen made for children with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. (Check the label.) Apply the protection 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Keep in mind that no sunscreens are truly waterproof, and thus they need to be reapplied every one and a half to two hours, particularly if your child spends a lot of time in the water. Consult the instructions on the bottle. 

•       Dress your child in lightweight cotton clothing with long sleeves and long pants. 

•       Use a beach umbrella or similar object to keep her in the shade as much as possible. 

•       Have her wear a hat with a wide brim. 

•       Babies under six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. If adequate clothing and shade are not available, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands.

Heat Exhaustion: Too much heat can make you or your child very sick. Take special care with children and the elderly, because their bodies don’t cool as well. Kids are particularly at risk for heat cramps when they aren't drinking enough fluids.

Although painful, heat cramps on their own aren't serious. Cramps can be the first sign of more serious heat illness, so they should be treated right away to help avoid any problems.

Don’t let your child play outside during the hottest part of the day. Make sure they have plenty of fluids and a cool place to rest. If you suspect your child is suffering from heat exhaustion, call 911. Symptoms can include:

•       Increased thirst

•       Weakness

•       Fainting

•       Muscle cramps

•       Nausea and/or vomiting

•       Irritability

•       Headache

•       Increase sweating

•       Cool, clammy skin

•       Elevation of body temperature, but less than 104°F (40°C)

Protect Your Feet!

One minute you’re strolling barefoot. The next, you’re in pain. Puncture wounds happen more often in summer, when bare feet meet nails, glass, toothpicks, and seashells. 

The biggest problem is infection. Heat, swelling, and drainage are signs that need quick medical attention. You may also need to update your tetanus shot. 

These are just a few tips to help prevent some serious summertime injuries. Sometimes the problems are just an annoyance, other times they can be fatal. Summer is about fun and family time together. Just use common sense and follow these simple rules for a safer summer.

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-summer-health-hazards?print=true

http://www.safekids.org/watersafety

http://www.safercar.gov/parents/InandAroundtheCar/heatstroke.htm

 

Your Child

Melatonin May Help Kids with Eczema Sleep Better

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Eczema is a common skin disease that affects as many as 30 percent of all kids.  It’s an itchy red rash that often causes continuous scratching. Numerous children with eczema have trouble sleeping through the night. A new study suggests that over-the-counter melatonin may help them sleep longer and better.

These sleep problems can be difficult to treat in these children, said Dr. Yung-Sen Chang, an attending physician in pediatrics at Taipei City Hospital Renai Branch in Taiwan. Antihistamines can stop working after a few days, and tranquilizers have potentially serious side effects, Chang said.

But giving children melatonin, his study found, "is safe and effective for helping children with atopic dermatitis fall asleep faster."

The link between the skin condition and insufficient sleep "has an impact on people with eczema at all ages," said Dr. Lawrence Eichenfield, chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at the University of California, San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital.

According to Eichenfield, it's generally established that it’s the itching that keeps people with eczema from getting enough sleep. However, Chang said that may not be the case.

Chang and colleagues discovered that patients with eczema, that had difficulty sleeping, had low levels of nocturnal melatonin. That intrigued Chang and inspired the new study.

"Melatonin is a natural human hormone with minimal adverse effects," Chang said, "so it seemed like a good choice for children."

The study was small and involved 48 children, about 22 months to 18 years old, who had eczema. The children received treatment with either an inactive placebo or a 3-milligram daily dose of melatonin at bedtime for four weeks. Thirty-eight participants then took the alternate treatment (melatonin or placebo) for another four weeks.

When the children took melatonin, the severity of eczema dipped slightly, possibly because melatonin's anti-inflammatory effect improved the skin condition, Chang said.

Also, kids taking melatonin fell asleep about 21 minutes sooner than kids taking the placebo, the findings showed.

Total nightly sleep rose by 10 minutes on average (from 380 to 390 minutes, or 6.5 hours total) in the melatonin group, while it fell by 20 minutes among those who took a placebo, according to the report.

The participants did not report any side effects. Melatonin supplements are inexpensive in the U.S.- typically under 9 cents a pill from one major supplier.

Eichenfield, who wasn't involved in the research, said the study appears to be well-designed. Melatonin hasn't been studied much as a sleep treatment for kids, he cautioned.

While Eichenfield said melatonin may turn out to be helpful, he said there are a broad set of other tools available to treat eczema and minimize its effect on children. He suggested tackling the skin condition first to try to mitigate the sleep issues.

Chang recommended that parents talk to their child's doctor before starting melatonin. As for adults, melatonin may help them, too. But more studies are needed, Chang said.

The study was published in a November online edition of the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Source: Randy Dotinga, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20151124/melatonin-might-help-sleepless-kids-with-eczema-study-finds

 

Your Child

Back to School Immunizations

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Parents and kids are officially in the back-to-school mode as they make the rounds searching for new clothes, shoes and supplies. One requirement that often gets pushed to the back of the list is immunizations. They’re not near as exciting as shopping for new dresses, tops and pants but much more important.

All states require that children be vaccinated against certain contagious diseases before they enroll in school, although there are exemptions for medical reasons. Some states also have exemptions in place for religious or philosophical reasons.

The point of vaccinations is to protect children, teachers and the general public from preventable contagious diseases. Schools provide the perfect environment – whether it’s kindergarten or college- for the spread of illnesses. Once a disease or virus, such as measles or the flu, gets hold of the school population it can rapidly spread throughout a family and community.

Immunizations help keep the most vulnerable members of the population from becoming infected.

All 50 states have school immunization laws, although the types of vaccinations may differ from state to state. Every state has a website and/or contact number where parents can obtain the immunization list.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (TSHS) has a list of the minimum 2014-2015 vaccine requirements and doses for students grades K-12 on its website at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize.

The minimum requirements are: 

  • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal
  • Hepatitis A

You will also find a list of vaccine requirements for child-care facilities.

Texas colleges require that students show proof that they have received an initial meningococcal vaccination or a booster dose during the five-year period prior to enrolling. There are also exemptions to those rules listed on the website http://collegevaccinerequirements.com/requirements.php.

As most of us know, vaccines aren’t always 100 percent effective in disease prevention, but they help can make the symptoms less severe. Vaccines have reduced the number of infections from vaccine-preventable disease overall, by more than 90 percent.

Many parents worry about the safety and possible side effects of vaccinating their child. The American Academy of Pediatrics addresses many of these questions on its website http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/safety.html. Ingredients, Autism and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) are some of the topics covered for parents who may have concerns about these issues.

Doors open for the new school year in less than a month and parents who wait till the last minute to take their children to get immunized will most certainly face long lines and wait times. You’ll be doing yourself and your child a favor by beating the rush and making your appointment now.

Sources: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize

http://collegevaccinerequirements.com/requirements.php

http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/safety.html

Your Child

Heat Illness Prevention

2.00 to read

Our typical sizzling summer has officially begun and temperatures are rising across the nation. My thermostat isn’t reading as hot as some places like southern California (currently 114 degrees), but it’s still pretty toasty outside.

As is normal for this time of year, lots of kids are going to be playing outside - whether at sports, in the pool or just running around. They more than likely are not going to be thinking about heat illnesses and sunburn, but parents should be.

The types of heat illnesses kids (and adults) can face are heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Heatstroke is the most severe and can lead to brain damage or even death.

When heatstroke occurs, the body has lost its ability to regulate its own temperature.

When children are involved in extreme physical exertion – such as playing sports in the hotter part of the day – or are wearing clothes that do not breathe, body temperatures can rise as high as 106 degrees. If a child is left or trapped in a car on a hot day, temperatures can reach 125 degrees in 20 minutes. On a very hot day, temperatures can turn deadly much quicker.  

If your child has been playing outside and shows any of these symptoms-it’s best to call 911 immediately.

- Flushed, hot, dry skin with no sweating

- Temperature of 105° F (40.6° C) or higher

- Severe, throbbing headache

- Weakness, dizziness, or confusion

- Sluggishness or fatigue

- Seizure

- Decreased responsiveness

- Loss of consciousness

While waiting for help:

- Get your child indoors or into the shade

- Undress your child and sponge or douse him or her with cool water

- Do NOT give him or her fluids

Heat cramps are another heat-related illness. They are typically short in length but very painful. They can happen in the legs, arms, or abdomen while exercising in extreme heat. The body loses salts and fluids through sweating and the low level of salts causes the muscles to contract. Kids are particularly vulnerable to heat cramps when they haven’t been drinking enough fluids to replace what has been lost. While heat cramps can be very painful, they are not usually serious. If your child experiences heat cramps, move them into the shade or inside an air-conditioned area. You can give them fluids and massage the area that is cramping. Make sure they rest for a while.

Heat exhaustion is more dangerous than heat cramps but can also be caused by not drinking enough fluids. Some of the symptoms include:

- Dehydration

- Fatigue

- Weakness

- Clammy skin

- Headache

- Nausea and/or vomiting

- Hyperventilation (rapid breathing)

- Irritability

If you think your child is suffering from heat exhaustion:

- Bring your child indoors or into the shade.

- Loosen or remove your child's clothing.

- Encourage your child to eat and drink.

- Give your child a bath in cool (not cold) water.

- Call your doctor for further advice. If your child is too exhausted or ill to eat or drink, intravenous (IV) fluids may be necessary.

If left untreated, heat exhaustion may escalate into heatstroke, which can be fatal.

If you live in one of the states that get really hot in the summer and friends or family members visit from a state that typically doesn’t, be sure and pay special attention to them when they are outside. It takes time to acclimate to hotter climates and particularly when you’re not used to them. 

Summer is a great time for relaxing and enjoying the out of doors, just make sure that your child has plenty of fluids to drink and doesn’t overdue it in the heat.

Source: Steven Dowshen MD, http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/emergencies/heat.html#

Your Child

Fitness Improves Children’s Academics

2.00 to read

It won’t be long before summer break is over and school is back in session. Parents are already buying supplies and clothes to get ready for the start of another school year.  As households begin to shift from vacation mode to school routines and studies, new research suggests that children who are fit are not only healthier, but have an advantage when it comes to learning.

Do fitter children do better academically? They do according to researcher, Sudhish Srikanth, a student at the University of North Texas. Srikanth recently presented his findings to the American Psychological Association.  

1,211 students were tested from five Texas middle schools. Researchers looked at each student’s academic self-concept -- how confident they were in their abilities to do well -- and took into account the student's socioeconomic status.

They knew these two factors would play a role in how well the students did, Srikanth says.

They took into account other influences such as social support, fitness and body composition. What they discovered matched what other studies have found – kids who are fit tend to do better academically than kids who are not fit.

The findings are considered preliminary since they have not undergone the “peer review” process. But other research suggests why fitness is so important, says researcher Trent Petrie, PhD, director of the Center for Sport Psychology at the University of North Texas.

"Physical fitness is associated with improvements in memory, concentration, organization, and staying on task," he says.

For one to five months before the students took standardized reading and math tests, they answered questions about usual physical activity, their view of their school ability, their self-esteem and social support.

The researchers assessed the students' fitness. They used a variety of tests that looked at muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, aerobic capacity, and body composition.

Previous studies have found a link between fitness and improved school performance, Srikanth says. However, this new study also looked at several other potential influences.

For the boys, having social support was also related to better reading scores.

For the girls, a larger body-mass index was the only factor other than fitness that predicted better reading scores. The researchers are not sure why.

For both boys and girls, fitness levels were the only factors studied (besides socioeconomic status and self-concept) related to math scores.

Srikanth found an upward trend, with more fitness linked with better scores.

The new research reiterates that of James Sallis, PhD, distinguished professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. A long-time researcher on physical fitness, he reviewed the findings.

"The mountain of evidence just got higher that active and fit kids perform better in school," he says.

The finding that fitness was related to both reading and math scores in both girls and boys is impressive, he says. "That's strong evidence."

"I hope this study convinces both parents and school administrators to increase and improve physical education, recess, classroom activity breaks, after-school physical activity and sports, and walk-to-school programs."

For about a decade now, PE classes and recess time have been disappearing from public school programs. Budget cuts and time restraints are often the reasons sited. Testing also seems to be one of the main reasons gym classes and play time have been reduced or eliminated. Some parents and caregivers take advantage of after-school fitness programs, but that option isn’t available or affordable for everyone.

So as schools move farther away from offering physical fitness programs, parents have to become more proactive in helping their kids stay active and fit. As it turns out, a fit body is not only good for the heart, but the head as well.

Source: http://children.webmd.com/news/20120803/fitter-kids-better-grades

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

Lack of Sleep Tied to Childhood Obesity

Over the past three decades, obesity rates have doubled among children age 2 to 5, and tripled among 6- to 11-year-olds. University of Washington maternal and child health researcher Janice Bell wanted to know whether sleep had anything to do with it.Infants and preschoolers who don't get enough sleep at night are at increased risk for later childhood obesity, a new study suggests.

Over the past three decades, obesity rates have doubled among children age 2 to 5, and tripled among 6- to 11-year-olds. University of Washington maternal and child health researcher Janice Bell wanted to know whether sleep had anything to do with it. For purposes of the study, the children were separated into a group of zero to 4 years old and an older group of 5 to 13 years old. Bell and her colleagues collected data first in 1997, and then again in 2002. She looked at federal data collected on nearly 2,000 children and compared those who slept 10 hours or more a night with those who slept less. She also looked at how much the children weighed over the five-year period. The most striking findings had to do with infants and toddlers. "They were nearly twice as likely to move from normal weight to overweight, or overweight to obese in that five-year period," she says. Bell's study didn't examine the reasons why children who sleep less have an increased risk of gaining weight within just a few years, but she does have some theories. "It may be that children who don't sleep enough at night are too tired to engage in the kind of physical activity that may prevent obesity," Bell says. She adds that another reason may be the result of the relationships between hormones that control appetite and sleep. Bell also says that napping isn’t a substitute for a good night’s sleep. “Insufficient nighttime sleep among infants and preschool-aged children appears to be a lasting risk factor for subsequent obesity, while contemporaneous sleep appears to be important to weight status in adolescents,” Bell writes. “Napping had no effects on the development of obesity and is not a substitute for sufficient nighttime sleep.” On average, doctors suggest children up to age 5 need at least 10 hours of sleep a night. Infants and young toddlers need even more. The study appears in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Your Child

Tonsillectomy Linked to Excess Weight Gain in Children

Children who have their tonsils removed with or without the removal of their adenoids are at increased risk for becoming overweight in the years after surgery.Children who have their tonsils removed with or without the removal of their adenoids are at increased risk for becoming overweight in the years after surgery according to a report in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment analyzed data from nearly 4,000 children in the Dutch Prevention and Incidence of Asthma and Mite Allergy (PIAMA) birth cohort study.

Annual parental questionnaires were used to assess weight, tonsillectomy status and other factors. In addition, the height and weight of all subjects at 8 years of age was assessed by the researchers. Researchers found that tonsillectomy with or without adenoidectomy significantly increased the odds of being overweight and obese at 8 years by 61 percent and 136 percent, respectively. Adenoidectomy alone did not increase the risk of becoming overweight, but id did increase the risk of obesity by 94 percent. "Longitudinal data on weight and height in the years before and after surgery," the authors note, "suggest that (adeno) tonsillectomy forms a turning point between a period of growth faltering and a period of catch-up growth," which may explain the increased risk of becoming overweight after the operation. Based on these findings, the authors recommend that dietary and lifestyle advice be given to parents whose children are undergoing tonsillectomy. Growth monitoring after surgery is key to ensure that catch-up growth occurs within healthy limits, they add.

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