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Your Child

Kids Allowed to Sip Alcohol Get Mixed Message

1:30

Letting your little one have an occasional sip of alcohol may be sending him or her the wrong message suggests a new report. 

According to the study, children that are allowed to sporadically sip alcohol as youngsters are more likely to start drinking by the time they are in high school.

Researchers followed 561 middle school students in Rhode Island for about three years. At the start of sixth grade (about age 11), nearly 30 percent of the students said they'd had at least one sip of alcohol.

The alcohol was provided in most cases by parents and given at parties or special occasions.

By ninth grade, 26 percent of those who'd had sips of alcohol at a younger age said they'd had at least one full alcoholic drink, compared with less than 6 percent of those who didn't get sips of alcohol when younger.

The researchers also found that 9 percent of the sippers had gotten drunk or engaged in binge drinking by ninth grade, compared with just under 2 percent of the non-sippers.

The study’s lead researcher Kristina Jackson, of Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, in Providence, Rhode Island, said the findings don’t prove that sips of alcohol at a young age absolutely leads to teen drinking.

"We're not trying to say whether it's 'OK' or 'not OK' for parents to allow this," Jackson said in a journal news release.

She noted that some parents believe that introducing children to alcohol at home teaches them about responsible drinking and reduces the appeal of alcohol.

"Our study provides evidence to the contrary," Jackson said.

Giving sips of alcohol to young children may send them a "mixed message," she suggested.

"At that age, some kids may have difficulty understanding the difference between a sip of wine and having a full beer," Jackson said.

For the study, Jackson’s team tried to account for other factors that might contribute to underage drinking such as parent’s drinking habits and any family history of alcoholism as well as the kid’s tendency to be impulsive or a high-risk taker.

Jackson says that there was still a connection between the early sipping and drinking by high school age.

She also stressed that parents who have already given their child sips of wine or beer shouldn’t be alarmed, but should think about sending their child a clear message about alcohol use and abuse.

The study was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Sources: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20150331/letting-kids-sip-alcohol-may-send-wrong-message

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-kids-alcohol-earlier.html

Your Child

AAP: Talk to Your Nine-Year-Old About Alcohol

2:00

Many parents might think the right time to talk to their children about the dangers of alcohol abuse would be around 12 or 13 years of age. But a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says parents should begin having that conversation with their child by age nine to help prevent binge drinking and abuse as they move into adolescence.

Through television, movies and the Internet, children are exposed to alcohol at a much younger age then just a generation ago.  According to the AAP’s latest report, as many as 50 percent of high school students currently drink alcohol; within that group, up to 60 percent binge drink.

And it’s not only high-school children that are over-indulging. Among 12- to 14-year-olds who drink, approximately half binge drink, according to the report. And while the total number of binge drinkers at this age remains very low (the authors cite one survey which revealed 0.8 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds binge drink), parents should still be aware of the consequences.

Dr. Lorena Siqueira, study co-author and clinical professor of pediatrics at Florida International University, says that the reason to start talking to kids about alcohol before they reach middle school is that children are already beginning to develop an impression of alcohol by nine years old. In terms of prevention, it's better for parents to influence children's ideas about alcohol early, rather than trying to change their impressions later, from positive to negative, she said.

"[Alcohol] is the substance most frequently abused by children and adolescents," Siqueira told Live Science. But because it's a legal substance, the consequences are often downplayed. 

"When I have kids in the ICU [intensive care unit], and I tell the parents it’s alcohol, they're relieved," Siqueira said. But they shouldn't feel relief, she added. "Alcohol is a killer.”

Binge drinking in adults refers to five or more drinks for men and four or more for women over a 2-hour period. For teens, the amount of drinks can be lower because they weigh less, researchers said.

For some teens, having even three drinks is considered binge drinking and having fewer drinks than that should not be considered safe.

Part of the problem is how adolescents drink, Siqueira said. They often turn to vodka, and they drink very fast, often directly from the bottle, with the goal of getting drunk — and this can kill them, she noted.

According to the report, nearly a third of fatal car accidents among 15- to 20-year-olds involve alcohol.

Drinking at a younger age can also interrupt brain development and increase the risk of chronic alcohol disorder later.

To warn children about the dangers of alcohol abuse, Siqueira recommends parents use every available opportunity to talk about the issue.

"Alcohol is ubiquitous," she said. And kids see it everywhere - on the sides of buses, on billboards and in movies.

"If you're driving, and you see someone swerving, talk about that. If you see it in a movie, talk to your kids about it then," she said.

One of the best teaching methods is to lead by example. Eighty percent of teenagers say that their parents are the biggest influence on their decision to drink.

That doesn’t mean you should not have a drink in front of your child, but getting drunk or “needing a drink” to handle stress shouldn’t happen, Siqueira said.

The report was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Source: Sara Miller, http://www.livescience.com/52030-parents-talk-about-alcohol-kids-early.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Child

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

1:45

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Child

Healthy Diet Improves Reading Skills

1:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Your Child

FDA Warning: Don’t Give Kids Codeine, Tramadol

1:45

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning about the dangers of two popular painkillers and the effects they can have on children. The government agency said that Codeine and Tramadol should not be given to kids under the age of 12 because they can cause life-threatening breathing problems.

Nursing mothers should also avoid using these drugs, since they can pass unsafe levels of opioids to their babies through their breast milk, the agency said.

Some children and adults are genetically predisposed to process opioid drugs more quickly, the FDA said. That can cause the level of narcotics in the bloodstream to rise too high and too quickly, risking overdose in children, due to their smaller size.

"It's very hard to determine which child or mother has this risk, so that's why we've taken this action today," Dr. Douglas Throckmorton, deputy center director for regulatory programs at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a media briefing.

Codeine is often combined with acetaminophen in prescription pain medicines and cough syrups, while Tramadol is only approved to treat pain in adults, the agency said.

The FDA is now warning against children under 12 years old taking either codeine or tramadol.

Kids under 18 also should not be given tramadol to treat pain following surgery to remove the tonsils or adenoids, the agency noted. Codeine labeling already warns against post-surgical use for kids.

In particular, children with sleep apnea, are obese or who have a weakened respiratory system are at a higher risk for dangerous breathing problems from these two drugs.

"Today's actions build on a better understanding of this very serious safety issue, based on the latest evidence," Throckmorton said.

Both of these medications are often prescribed and are in households.  Nearly 1.9 million kids aged 18 or younger received a prescription for a codeine-containing medication in 2014, and nearly 167,000 were prescribed a medication containing tramadol, the FDA said.

Parents should carefully read drug labels to make sure medications don't contain either opioid, the agency stressed. They also can ask their doctor or pharmacist if a specific medication contains codeine or tramadol.

"We understand there are limited options when it comes to treating pain and cough in children," Throckmorton said. "However, after careful review our decision to require these labeling updates was taken because we believe it is a way we can protect children."

The FDA plans to hold a public advisory committee meeting later this year to discuss the broader use of prescription opioid cough and cold medicine in children, he said.

Story source: Dennis Thompson, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20170420/dont-give-kids-medicines-with-codeine-tramadol-fda#1

Your Child

Bowlegs and Knock-Knees in Kids

2:00

Parents may be concerned when they notice their toddler seems to be bowlegged or knock-kneed. Typically, there’s nothing to worry about, it’s just part of his or her growth development.

The medical term is genu valgum, but the condition is more commonly called bow-legged or knock-kneed. It usually becomes noticeable when a child is 2 to 3 years old, and it may increase in severity until about age 4. It usually self-corrects by the time a child is about 7 or 8 years old. But if the condition doesn’t appear until a child is 6 or older, it could be a sign that there is an underlying bone disease.

During early childhood, knock-knees actually help a child to maintain balance, particularly when the child begins to walk, or if the foot rolls inward or turns outward. When a child has knock-knees, both knees usually lean inward symmetrically. One knee, however, may "knock" less than the other or may even remain straight.

Sometimes, the condition will persist into the teen years. It’s also more common in girls, although boys can develop it too.

Knock knees are usually part of the normal growth and development of the lower extremities. In some cases, it may be a sign of an underlying bone disease, such as Osteomalacia or rickets.

Obesity can contribute to knock knees—or can cause walking problems that resemble, but aren’t actually, knock-knees. The condition can occasionally result from an injury to the growth area of the shinbone (tibia), which may result in just one knocked knee.

Typically, a child’s legs will straighten naturally by the teen years. Bracing, corrective shoes, and exercise are rarely helpful, and may hinder a child’s physical development and cause unnecessary emotional stress, when the child is very young. Rarely, bowlegs or knock-knees are the result of a disease. Arthritis, injury to the growth plate around the knee, infection, tumor, Blount’s disease (a growth disorder of the shinbone), and rickets all can cause changes in the curvature of the legs. 

There are signs to look for that may indicate that a child’s bowlegs or knock-knees are caused by a more serious medical problem:

·      The curvature is extreme.

·      Only one side is affected.

·      The bowlegs get worse after two years of age.

·      The knock-knees persist after seven years of age.

·      Your child is unusually short for his or her age.

·      There is pain in the knees or in the feet, hips or ankles.

·      Stiff joints.

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, your pediatrician should examine him or her.

The good news is that most cases of knock-knees or bowlegs will resolve before a child reaches adolescence. However, if it doesn’t and is left untreated, it can lead to further health problems with joints and muscles, including osteoporosis.

Treatment will depend on the cause and the severity. If there is an underlying disease present, medications and supplements may help resolve the condition. A physical therapist may be able to offer some simple exercises and stretches that help strengthen the muscles and realign the knees. Weight loss is recommended when obesity is a contributing factor. Extra weight puts additional strain on the legs and knees, which can cause knock-knees to worsen. Surgery is the last line of treatment but is typically only recommended in very severe cases.

Children’s health experts suggests that parents not panic if their little one has knock-knees, but that they keep an eye on the condition and see if it goes away as the child gets older. At times, children may not have straight lower legs until they are nine or ten years old.

Story sources: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/orthopedic/Pages/Bowlegs-and-Knock-Knees.aspx

Jenna Fletcher, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319894.php

 

 

Your Child

Are Kids Too Wired?

2.00 to read

In an effort to keep up with my tech-savvy patients and their parents, I read a study from a well-known software maker that confirmed something we all know: are kids are extremely wired.

The company solicited 2,200 mothers to answer a survey looking at skills their children have; such as riding a bike or tying a shoe as well as those very important early childhood skills such as how to use an I-Pad or Smartphone.  21% of four-five year olds knew how to use a Smartphone or I-pad application, only 14% of those same kids could tie their shoes.

For children two–five years old, 69% could operate a computer mouse, 58% could play a computer game but only 52% knew how to ride a bike. Seems incredible to me that  more kids have computers than bicycles? 25% of two-five year olds could open a Web browser, only 20% knew how to swim.  Technology is definitely changing the world, but is it all beneficial?

The company's CEO commissioned the survey to show how young children are interacting with technology. He emphasized that parents need to be educating their young children about their online world and need to be promoting internet/online safety at very young ages. It used to be “when do I have the sex talk” now it is being replaced with ”how soon do I need to talk about online safety and technology?”. 

The most disturbing aspect of this study is that it suggests that our children are way too wired and may be missing out on simple, yet important life skills.

I myself have seen many a two year old open their parent’s iPad and turn on a movie while in the exam room.   They can recognize different icons and switch between applications but are not yet capable of talking in complete sentences. Some of these children are the same ones who at two years, are not yet putting themselves to sleep at night, cannot sleep through the night and still have a bottle or pacifier!

Some parents are convinced that their child may not be capable of mastering these normal developmental milestones, while at the same time are thrilled about their child’s computer skills. This seems a little mixed up to me. Priorities sometimes get confused.

Technology is important and will continue to be so, but what if the computer is “down” and you need to write a story with pencil and paper, or draw a picture without the benefit of a computer screen? There are certainly many life skills to be mastered; riding a bike, pumping a swing and playing catch.

The race to teach kids technology and to help them compete in our constantly “wired” world may be detrimental to a child’s physical and emotional health. All parents need to remember to “turn off the technology” and get back to basics. There is time for both.

Your Child

Is Sleepwalking Inherited?

1:45

If you walk in your sleep, there’s a good chance that your child may do the same.

A recent Canadian study found that children of two sleepwalking parents have more than a 60 percent chance of developing the same condition.  For children of one sleepwalking parent, the odds were about 47 percent they too would be sleepwalkers.

"These findings point to a strong genetic influence on sleepwalking and, to a lesser degree, sleep terrors," the Canadian study authors wrote. "Parents who have been sleepwalkers in the past, particularly in cases where both parents have been sleepwalkers, can expect their children to sleepwalk and thus should prepare adequately."

It’s not uncommon for children to walk in their sleep when they are young, but they typically stop by the time they reach adolescents.  It usually happens when someone is going from the deep stage of sleep to the lighter stage. The sleepwalker can't respond during the event and usually doesn't remember it. In some cases, he may talk and not make sense. Sleepwalking can also start later in life according to researchers.

Sleep terrors are another condition that typically affects only children. They can be very disturbing for a parent to witness. A child may scream out during sleep and is intensely fearful.

In the new study, Dr. Jacques Montplaisir, of Hospital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal, and colleagues examined connections between these conditions in parents and adults. They looked at almost 2,000 kids born in Quebec from 1997 to 1998.

The researchers found that 56 percent of the children (aged 1.5 to 13 years) had sleep terrors. Younger children were more likely to have sleep terrors, the study noted. Sleepwalking, meanwhile, affected 29 percent of kids aged 2.5 to 13 years. Sleepwalking was less common in the youngest kids, according to the study.

The odds of sleepwalking grew, depending on whether one or both parents were sleepwalkers. Only 23 percent of kids whose parents didn't sleepwalk developed the disorder.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is no specific treatment for sleepwalking.  Creating a safe sleep environment is critical to preventing injury during sleepwalking episodes. For example, if your child sleepwalks, don’t let him or her sleep in a bunk bed. Also, remove any sharp or breakable objects from the area near the bed, install gates on stairways, and lock the doors and windows in your home.

The study was published in the May edition of JAMA Pediatrics.

Sources: Randy Dotinga, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20150504/sleepwalking-parents-likely-to-have-sleepwalking-kids

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/abnormal-sleep-behaviors/sleepwalking

 

 

 

Your Child

Talking to Your Child About Tragic News Events

2:00

Another tragedy has taken place, this time a terrorist attack in Paris, France.  Children, adolescents and adults have lost their lives or been seriously injured while out for an evening of fun, errands or romance.  Media outlets have been covering the events, sometimes showing graphic video or photos from the bloody scenes.

When children view these images or hear the stories, they can become scared and worried that the same thing will happen to them. 

Whenever catastrophic local, national or global events take place, it’s easy to assume that your child doesn’t really know what is going on or understand the gravity. But, in this age of instant and abundant information, they most likely do. Children are very sensitive to their parents and friends’ feelings. They are more tuned in than you might think.

Children sense when their parents are really worried, whether they're watching the news or talking about it with others. No matter what children know about a crisis, it's especially disconcerting for them to realize that their parents are scared, angry or shocked.

When bad things happen, children want to know what is going on.  It doesn’t have to be an international event. Local tragedies such as a flood, tornado, shooting, kidnapping, suicide, house fire or car wreck can be more frightening to children than events taking place across the world or in another state.

So, how do you talk with your child about such unhappy and threatening things? I’ve turned to Mr. Rogers to share with you his calming and thoughtful insights. The first time he addressed this topic was after Robert Kennedy’s assassination. Parents and educators turned to him for guidance then and his advice still holds true today.

In times of crisis, children want to know, "Who will take care of me?" They're dependent on adults for their survival and security. They're naturally self-centered. Their world is small and their life experience is limited. They need to hear very clearly that their parents are doing all they can to take care of them and to keep them safe. They also need to know that people in the government, in their community and in the world, and other people they don't even know, are working hard to keep them safe, too.

One of the ways young children express feelings is through play. However, sometimes events that happen are violent, so parents need to be nearby to redirect play if it takes a turn in that direction. More nurturing play can help children process the different activities and needs that happen around certain types of events. Play involving being a doctor or nurse in a hospital setting or creating a pretend meal for emergency workers or families can help children understand that there are good people and helpful actions that also take place when something bad happens.

When children are scared and anxious, they might become more dependent, clingy, and afraid to go to bed at night. Whining, aggressive behavior, or toilet accidents may be their way of asking for more comfort from the important adults in their lives. Little by little, as we adults around them become more confident, hopeful and secure, our children can experience a more calming sense of security.

When shocking event happens, it’s easy to get drawn into watching the news for hours and hours. Think back to 9-11 when there was non-stop coverage for days with repeated video of the towers being hit and falling. It created post-traumatic stress disorder, nation-wide. As hard as it is for adults to assimilate, it’s even harder for children. Once you have the information, turn the TV off or find something else for your kids to watch. Monitor their online activity as well to see if they are seeing too much graphic information or too many stories of “What if this happened here?”

Exposing ourselves to so many tragedies can make us feel hopeless, insecure, and even depressed, feelings that even young children can sense. We help our children-and ourselves-if we're able to limit our own television viewing. Our children need us to spend time with them-away from the frightening images on the screen.

Limiting our child’s media exposure doesn’t mean we don’t talk about what has happened with them.

Even if we wanted to, it would be impossible to give our children all the reasons for such things as war, terrorists, abuse, murders, fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. If very young children ask questions, our best answer may be to ask them, "What do you think happened?" If the answer is, "I don't know," then the simplest reply might be something like, "I'm sad about the news, and I'm worried. But I love you, and I'll take care of you."

If we don't let children know it's okay to feel sad and scared, they may try to hide those feelings or think something is wrong with them whenever they do feel that way. They certainly don't need details of what's making us sad or scared, but if we can help them accept their own feelings as natural and normal, their feelings will be much more manageable for them.

Your child’s age and emotional IQ should be your guide on how much detail you go into when discussing tragic events. Very young children do not need a lot of detail. Children 7 and under are most concerned with safety. They need to know that you and they are secure. That’s why it important to keep the TV at a minimum for kids in this age group. They can identify strongly to pictures of other young children in peril or crying because they’ve lost someone dear to them. At this age, kids are most concerned with separation from you.  Assure them that you are watching out for them and will protect them.

Children between the ages of 8 and 12 will often notice the morality of events.  You may have to explain the basics of prejudice, bias, and civil and religious strife. But be careful about making generalizations, since kids will take you at your word. This is a good time to ask them what they know, since they'll probably have gotten their information from friends, and you may have to correct facts. This age group will most likely be online more. While it’s still important to keep news viewing under control, online viewing and searching should be monitored as well. It’s a good age to discuss lots of views and opinions about events. Read stories together and then ask them what they think.

Teens will probably get their news independently of you. Talking to them can offer great insights into their developing senses of justice and morality. It will also give you the opportunity to throw your own insights into the mix, but don’t dismiss their opinions or insights just because they may not be the same as yours. They will shut down communication quickly if they feel their ideas are not being valued.  Discuss the ways that different media covers events. Again, ask them what they think.

Having to discuss tragic or scary events with our children isn’t new. Generations of parents have had to address various topics from volcano eruptions that wiped out an entire city to the Holocaust to the cold war. But how we get our information has changed dramatically. Media in one form or another is prolific with gory images and misinformation available at the touch of finger. So parents have to react quicker and with more assurance and details than they would probably like. But that’s what we do. We protect our children in all ways, as best we can, with loving and clear information.

Sources:  http://pbskids.org/rogers//parentsteachers/special/scarynews-thoughts.html

Carolyn Knorr, https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/explaining-the-news-to-our-kids

 

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