Your Toddler

Thumb Sucking

2.00 to read

I admit it – I was a thumb sucker for way too long. My thumb and mouth didn’t part company until I was in first grade. The fear of getting caught during a sleepover at a friend’s house was enough for me to finally call it quits.

It’s normal for babies and toddlers to suck their thumbs. Babies are born with the urge to suck as part of their survival. They also use it as a way to soothe themselves when they feel hungry, afraid, restless, sleepy or bored. Toddlers carry on that natural instinct as they find their way in the world.

By the time children are around four-years-old they’ve typically stopped sucking their thumb and found replacements for self-soothing. Occasionally, children (like myself) will continue to suck their thumb out of habit.

Some experts say that if a child is still sucking their thumb by the age of six, they may be doing so because of emotional distress such as anxiety.

Thumb sucking isn’t a problem under the age of four, but if a child continues- with great intensity- after five or six years old, they could be setting themselves up for dental or speech problems.

Prolonged thumb sucking may cause their teeth to become improperly aligned (malocclusion) or push their teeth outward. If the thumb sucking stops, the teeth most likely will align correctly, but the longer the sucking continues the more likely orthodontic treatment will be needed.

Extended thumb sucking may also cause speech issues such as lisping, inability to say Ts and Ds, and pushing the tongue out when talking. A speech therapist may be needed to help correct these problems.

How do you help your child stop sucking their thumb? It takes a lot of patience.

One place to begin is to pay attention to what triggers the thumb sucking. Does your little one start when they are bored, sleepy, or unsure about something? Redirecting can help. Busy hands help keep thumbs from going into the mouth. Give your child a large stuffed animal to wrap their arms around or have them help hold the book when you are reading to them. Offer a squeezable rubber ball or finger puppets to grasp when they are watching TV.  The key is to offer an alternative at the times you notice they are the most likely to want to suck their thumb.

Ask your child to not suck their thumb in public and gently remind them when you see them doing it. Let them suck their thumb at home, but start the process of being self-aware in public. Kids often unconsciously slip their thumb into their mouth. A reminder helps them notice what they are doing.

You can also start talking to your child about why it’s time to give some thought to stopping. In age-appropriate language explain how thumb sucking is okay for younger children, but as children get older they learn how to stop. Ask them questions like “Do you see (insert name of an older child or adult here) sucking his or her thumb?” They’ll think about it more and start to decide whether they want to continue. It’s a process that takes time.

Punishing or shaming your child is absolutely the wrong method to address thumb sucking. This approach not only doesn’t work, but also lowers a child self-value and can create an even stronger desire to thumb suck. It’s like quitting anything you’re doing that may not be good for you in the long run- the worse someone tries to make you feel about it- the more you want to do it (think overeating, smoking, drinking.)

You can also talk to your pediatrician or family doctor for his or her suggestions on how to help your child. For older children, behavioral therapy may be beneficial.

There are products that are nasty tasting that can be swabbed on your child’s thumb, but some experts think that approach is cruel and more like a punishment than a humane way to help a child outgrow a natural inclination.

Most kids will simply quit sucking their thumb when they are good and ready. Helping your child reach that point may require patience and creativity, but in time his or her thumb will cease to be a constant comfort companion.

Sources: http://children.webmd.com/tc/thumb-sucking-topic-overview

Your Toddler

High Chair Injuries on the Rise

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High chairs were designed to offer older babies and younger toddlers a safer place to eat at the table. They’re usually higher from the ground than a regular chair, so a parent or caregiver (or sibling) can spoon feed the baby comfortably. If there’s an infant in the family, more than likely there’s a high chair in the house.

They’re great when used properly, but when children aren’t secured correctly, accidents can and do happen. In fact, a new safety study reveals that high chair injuries increased 22 percent between 2003 and 2009.

Emergency rooms staffs are treating an average of almost 9,500 high chair related injuries every year – that equates to one injured infant per hour.

"We know that these injuries can and do happen, but we did not expect to see the kind of increase that we saw," said study co-author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"Most of the injuries we're talking about, over 90 percent, involve falls with young toddlers whose center of gravity is high, near their chest, rather than near the waist as it is with adults," Smith said. "So when they fall they topple, which means that 85 percent of the injuries we see are to the head and face."

Because the fall is from a seat that's higher than the traditional chair and typically onto a hard kitchen floor, "the potential for a serious injury is real," he added. "This is something we really need to look at more, so we can better understand why this seems to be happening more frequently."

Researchers analyzed data collected by the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The data concerned all high chair, booster seat, and normal chair-related injuries that occurred between 2003 and 2010 and involved children 3 years old and younger.

The researchers found that high chair/booster chair injuries rose from 8,926 in 2003 to 10,930 by 2010.

How are children getting injured? About two-thirds of the children had been either standing or climbing in the chair just before the fall, the study authors noted.

Either chair restraints aren’t working as they should or parents are not using them properly.

"In recent years, there have been millions of high chairs recalled because they do not meet current safety standards. Most of these chairs are reasonably safe when restraint instructions are followed, but even so, there were 3.5 million high chairs recalled during our study period alone," said Smith. However, even highly educated and informed parents aren't always fully aware of a recall when it happens, he noted.

Still, Smith believes that a 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will lead to a notable drop in recalls in coming years because it calls for independent third-party testing of children's products before they're put on the market.

The most common diagnosis from a high chair fall is a concussion or internal head injury. This type of head trauma accounted for 37 percent of high chair injuries, and its frequency imbed by nearly 90 percent during the eight years studied.

Nearly 6 in 10 children experienced an injury to their head or neck after a high chair fall, while almost 3 in 10 experienced a facial injury, the study found.

When the researchers looked at falls from traditional chairs, children’s injuries were typically broken bones, cuts and bruises.

While the tray may look like it can block a child from climbing or standing, it’s not a restraint. Children need to be buckled in.

Supervision plays a key role in keeping your little one safe when in a high chair. Many falls happen when a parent or caregiver leaves the room or is not facing the baby.  "Even if a chair does meet current safety standards and the restraint is used properly, there's never 100 percent on this . . . Parents will always need to be vigilant." said Smith.

Some high chairs have wheels, so make sure that if yours does- they are locked when the baby is in the chair.

Also, never place the high chair next to a wall or counter where your baby or toddler can push against it, causing the chair to become unstable.

High chairs are convenient and can be very safe when used properly. Make sure your child is restrained properly and that you can see your baby whenever you move away from the chair.

The study was published online Dec. 9 in Clinical Pediatrics.

Source: Alan Mozes, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20131209/rise-in-us-high-chair-injuries-stuns-experts

Your Toddler

FDA Targets Unapproved Eardrops

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For years, physicians may have been unknowingly prescribing unapproved eardrops used to treat ear pain and swelling, to parents for their children’s ear aches. The drugs have not been evaluated for safety, quality and effectiveness says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The agency notified the drugs' makers to stop marketing the drops following a few reports of local allergic reactions of the ear, eye, face, neck and mouth. The drops can also cause itching, stinging, burning and irritation of the ear, according to an FDA news release.

"If we don't know whether these drugs have any benefits, we should not accept any possible risk of side effects," said the FDA's Dr. Charles Lee in the news release.

The FDA did not release the names of the companies or the medications involved, but did note, "unapproved prescription otic [ear] drug products containing the following ingredients are covered by this action:

·      Benzocaine;

·      Benzocaine and Antipyrine;

·      Benzocaine, Antipyrine, and Zinc acetate;

·      Benzocaine, Chloroxylenol and Hydrocortisone;

·      Chloroxylenol and Pramoxine;

·      Chloroxylenol, Pramoxine, and Hydrocortisone.

“Taking enforcement actions against these unapproved products will protect patients from unnecessary risks,” said Cynthia Schnedar, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “There are many FDA-approved prescription products to treat ear infections, so we expect little or no impact on patients from the removal of these unapproved and potentially unsafe products.”

The labels on these products do not disclose that they lack FDA approval, and health care professionals may not be aware of their unapproved status.  The FDA’s action does not affect FDA-approved prescription otic products, or legally marketed otic products sold over-the-counter.

Unapproved prescription otic drug products are frequently given to young children suffering from ear infections and other conditions that cause ear pain and swelling. Patients taking unapproved drugs may be at greater risk because there is no proven safety or effectiveness information. These products may be contaminated or manufactured incorrectly, which could result in patients receiving the wrong dose, even when administered according to the labeled directions for use, the agency said.

The FDA recommends that you check with your doctor if you think your child may have been prescribed one of these products or has exhibited side effects. You can ask for an alternative medication that has been FDA approved.

Sources: Margaret Farley Steele, http://consumer.healthday.com/general-health-information-16/doctor-news-206/unapproved-ear-drops-targeted-by-fda-700970.html

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm453348.htm

Your Toddler

Are Little Girl's Toys Too Sexy?

2.00 to read

Peter Pan may never have grown up, but Tinker Bell and her fairy friends definitely have. The Disney Fairies boast hourglass figures, coy glances and barely-there mini dresses. In short, these girls aren’t your mama’s pixies.Notice anything new about the dolls and ponies that your daughter picks up at the toy store these days? Once you get a good look at them, do you think they may be a little too hot-to-trot? You're not alone.

An article on this week’s MSNBC’s website, offers a look into the world of children’s sexed-up play things. Peter Pan may never have grown up, but Tinker Bell and her fairy friends definitely have. The Disney Fairies boast hourglass figures, coy glances and barely-there mini dresses. In short, these girls aren’t your mama’s pixies. Even trolls have come of age. Those formerly stout, pug-nosed kewpies, have reemerged in a new slim, thigh-baring line called Trollz. Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake have become tweens and shed their baby fat.  And et tu Holly Hobbie? She’s traded her prairie dresses for a saucy wardrobe and lightened locks. In recent years, Disney, Mattel and other major companies have revisited a host of iconic dolls and turned them into freshly tarted-up — or at least more grown-up —toys. New lines, like the Monster High Dolls and hot-to-trot Struts horses (yes, horses),  came out of the gate tramping it up and they're making some parents — and psychologists, uncomfortable. “They send the message to kids that you can’t just be you,” says Lori Mayfield, a 30-year-old mother of four from Draper, Utah. “It seems like toy makers are setting up our kids.” While she likes the Disney fairies because they “have a good friendship and there’s always a lesson to be learned,” she says that even she and her husband, Chad, were startled by their saucy style. The actually found themselves recently debating which fairy is the hottest. (Consensus: Silvermist.)  Mayfield, who runs the blog, Twinfinity from her home, says she and her husband strive to teach the kids that beauty comes from within, but frets that her 6-year-old daughter is already asking to wear makeup and worrying whether her coat makes her look fat. Dale Atkins, a psychologist says she's upset about what the revved-up dolls are teaching girls about their own appearance.  “When we have these ridiculous models —sexualized children, and horses with long eyelashes that are flirtatious and all of that — it sets up this ideal of beauty and body image that kids have to pay attention to because they can’t not pay attention to it. And they feel less good as they’re trying to develop a good sense about their own bodies," she says. "The sexualized aspect just makes them feel like they're only good if they are objectified. ... And it's all so subtle, for a child anyway. We parents and adults look at this and say, 'Oh my gosh, this is so blatant, but in fact it's subtle because kids are playing with these things and then they look in the mirror." But representatives at Mattel, the makers of the wildly popular Monster High Dolls, say its controversial line of toy dolls, featuring the teen offspring of monsters, aims to show kids it's OK to be different. “Monster High is all about celebrating your imperfections and accepting the imperfections of others," says Margaux Vega, spokeswoman for Mattel.  She acknowledges that the dolls, which sport fishnet stockings, heavy makeup and ultrashort skirts, appeal mostly to 5- to 7-year-olds. But they also have online personas and webisodes aimed at older kids that tell each doll's back-story. "Clawdeen Wolf is the teenage daughter of a werewolf. In the webisodes, she has to shave and wax and pluck between classes," Vega says. "Girls of a certain age know about the embarrassment of unwanted hair in unwanted places.” 'Why does she look like a boy?' It's gotten so that some kids, even young tots, expect that dolls will look like they've already been through puberty.  When Joy Oglesby showed her daughter, Lauren Welmaker, a picture of the old version of Tinker Bell in a library book, the 4-year-old, who has all the new Disney fairies, wondered: "Why does she look like a boy?" Oglesby, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has seen Struts horses, which have long eyelashes and wear high heels on their hooves, and says her daughter would love one. "The mane is silky and she would be attracted to the eyes, and the accessories that come with it. It looks very girly, I'm not sure why she gravitates to this kind of toy, but I'm not worried about it yet." But the effect of titillating toys creeps in slowly, says Peggy Orenstein, the author of the bestseller “Cinderella Ate my Daughter.” “Girls don’t naturally want to be sexy — they want to be girls,” says Orenstein. “That is natural. [But] when they continue to see images of toys that are supposed to be age appropriate emulating sexiness, then that un-natural aspiration, becomes natural.”  Orenstein says toy manufacturers began following the marketing strategy “Kids Getting Older Younger” when they realized that toys marketed towards kids between the ages of 8 and 12 were attracting kids who were in the 3-year-old to 8-year-old age range because they wanted to emulate their older brothers and sisters. But Donna Tobin, director of global brand strategy and marketing for Hasbro, says the company actually has gone the opposite direction with makeovers for its toy My Little Pony, aimed at girls ages 3 to 6. "We want our girls to stay little longer!" she says. "Look at My Little Pony. She’s cute. She’s pretty. She’s pink. She may have a different look, but she has always stood for friendship. We’re not about ipstick or shaving." As younger kids gravitate to older toys earlier, their big sisters and brothers often have already closed up their toy boxes and moved on to other things. At ages 6 and 8, sisters Amanda and Sophia Oliva of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., aren't interested in playing princess anymore, says their mom, Lauri. When they play dress up, they pretend to be models. And their newest obsession is with teen music sensation Taylor Swift. “Now, everything in our house is about Taylor Swift," says Lauri Oliva, 46. Sophia tries to emulate her. She'll sing and dance Taylor Swift karaoke songs in the mirror.” For Sophia's birthday, all she wanted was tickets to a Swift concert. "Kids are 8 going on 15 these days,” she says. What is old is new again Some kids' toys aren't necessarily being marketed to kids, but rather to their parents, says Reyne Rice, trend specialist for the Toy Industry Association. She says updating the look of a toy is a way manufacturers can appeal to the new generation of consumers while still tapping into the nostalgic interest and collector dollars of the older generation.  “A lot of these toy manufacturers realized the interest in brands that have been around for generations and realized there was still interest in the brands — from both the children as young as 3, as well as their parents,” says Rice. But Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist, suggests parents actually seek out their old favorites instead of embracing some of the "refreshed" versions. “You have to use your judgment,” she says — and maybe hit up eBay or garage sales for the classic versions. “If you have a choice, I’d take the old Strawberry Shortcake.” Saltz says these sexed-up toys and childhood icons go in the same category as violent video games and PG-13 movies: Parents need to take a close look, evaluate them for themselves, and decide whether they’re appropriate. Melissa Walker, 41, of Southlake, Texas, walks the line of finding suitable toys for her daughters Gabrielle, 6, and Adeline,4, while letting them indulge their interests. Gabrielle loves the Disney fairies and says her favorite is Rosetta, "because she's pink and that's my favorite color. And because I like flowers and she makes flowers." (Rosetta is the red-headed fairy with a "garden talent.") Walker doesn't mind the Disney fairy makeover because of the overall message they send. "They control everything. They are in charge of seasons, of things working. They are good role models," says Walker. But she draws the line at sexy doll clothes. On a recent shopping trip to Costco, Walker saw a big bin of Barbie clothes, but despite her daughters' love for the doll, her cart remained empty. "There was not one outfit that wasn't a 'hoochie' dress. I guess it was the 'Barbie Goes Wild' collection. We didn't buy anything. There's no reason for that," adding that she's happy to buy Barbie outfits where she looks like a doctor or a princess or a soccer player. Walker has a strict "no exposed belly buttons" rule in her house, and figures her kids' dolls should follow it, too. "We don't want to plant that too soon," she says. "We'll have that fight soon enough."

Your Toddler

Anchor It!

1:45

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has launched “Anchor It”, a national public education campaign, to help make people aware of the dangers that free-standing furniture and TVs present, particularly to children.

The annual number of children injured or killed from furniture and TV tip-overs is astounding.

According to CPSC data, unstable and unsecured TVs and large pieces of furniture kill a child every two weeks, on average, in tip-over incidents that are easily preventable.  CPSC also reported that 38,000 Americans go to emergency rooms each year with injuries related to tip-overs of top-heavy furniture or televisions placed on furniture, instead of a TV stand.  Two-thirds of those injuries involved children younger than 5.  Additionally, between 2000 and 2013, 84 percent of the 430 deaths reported to CPSC involved children younger than 10.

A January 2015 CPSC report found that a television tipping over from an average size dresser falls with thousands of pounds of force. 

The impact of a falling TV is like being caught between two NFL linemen colliding at full-speed—10 times. 

“Every 24 minutes in the U.S. a child goes to the emergency room because of a tip-over incident involving furniture or a TV,” said CPSC Commissioners Marietta Robinson and Joseph Mohorovic. “We must take action now. CPSC’s new ‘Anchor It!’ campaign is a call to action for parents and caregivers to ‘get on top of it, before they do.’ If we can prevent one more death, it will be worth it.”

Cards and posters are being distributed parents and caregivers of toddlers at daycare centers and preschools. A list of safety steps parents and caregivers can take are printed on the handouts. They are:

·      Buy and install low-cost anchoring devices to prevent TVs, dressers, bookcases or other furniture from tipping.

·      Avoid leaving items, such as remote controls and toys, in places where kids might be tempted to climb up to reach for them.

·      Store heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.

·      Place TVs on a sturdy, low base and push them as far back as possible, particularly if anchoring is not possible.

·      If purchasing a new TV, consider recycling older ones not currently used. If moving the older TV to another room, be sure it is anchored properly to the wall.

The “Anchor It” campaign’s website (www.Anchorit.gov) shows you how to anchor furniture and television sets properly, with easy to follow instructions. Keep your little one safe and Anchor It!

 

Your Toddler

Ikea Recalls GUNGGUNG Children’s Swings

1.30 to read

Ikea is recalling its Gunggung fabric swing because the suspension fittings can break causing a child to fall from the swing, posing a risk of serious injury.

There have been four reports worldwide including one in Germany, two in Austria and one in Canada of the suspension fittings breaking in use. In one incident a child fell and sustained a fractured leg. So far there have been no incidents reported in the U.S.

The recall involves about 2,000 swings in the U.S. and around 300 in Canada.

This recall involves IKEA GUNGGUNG Swing. GUNGGUNG is intended for indoor and outdoor use by children ages 3-7.

It is made of green polyester fabric and hangs from a plastic suspension fitting attached to steel hooks. The full length of the suspension strap, including the sling seat, is 17 feet and the width of the seat is 0.8 feet.

A permanent label is attached to one of the suspension straps, showing age recommendation (3-7), IKEA logo, Design and Quality IKEA of Sweden, GUNGGUNG article number 302.439.74, supplier number 17915 and Made in Vietnam.

The swings were sold exclusively at Ikea stores and online at www.ikea-usa.com from June 2014 to August 2014 for $20.

Consumers should immediately take down the swing to prevent use by children and return it to any IKEA store for a full refund. Proof of purchase is not required to receive a full refund for the return.

For refund information, you can contact KEA toll-free at (888) 966-4532 anytime or online at www.ikea-usa.com and click on the recall link at the top of the page for more information.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2014/IKEA-Recalls-Childrens-Swing/

Ikea GUNGGUNG Swing recall

Your Toddler

Parents: Read to Your Young Children!

2:00 to read

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that pediatric providers advise parents of young children to read aloud and talk about pictures and words in age-appropriate books to their kids.  The AAP says that these activities can help strengthen a child’s language skills and literacy while promoting parent-child relationships.

Pediatricians have long encouraged reading to children, but the guidelines are the first official policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics telling doctors to talk to parents about daily reading to their children, from the first year of life until kindergarten.

Reading with young children “stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime," the AAP guidelines said.

Studies have shown a wide economic divide when it comes to parents reading to their children. Only one in three children living in poverty have parents that read to them consistently.  Children who aren’t read to often have “a significant learning disadvantage” by the time they get to school age, the AAP added.

Even wealthier families do not always make reading a ritual, with 60 percent of those with incomes 400 percent of the poverty threshold saying they read to their children from birth to age five, according to a 2011-2012 survey.

Some pediatricians worry that technology – from television to smartphones- may be taking the place of reading to little ones.

The AAP has previously said babies under age two should be as screen-free as possible, and that the best kind of learning takes place through unstructured, interactive play with humans and toys.

Even babies can benefit from being read stories, said the AAP.  “We can stimulate greater brain development in these months and years," said Peter Riche, a fellow of the AAP and Chief of Pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York.

"I do see earlier word recognition, earlier phrases and sentence formation, and singing—I always recognize that in those who are exposed to daily reading."

Many families do not have the money for books so the AAP said it "supports federal and state funding for children's books to be provided at pediatric health supervision visits for children at high risk."

Another important benefit of parents reading to their young children is the blooming of a child’s self-confidence and independence.

Child development experts say that when parents read to their children not only do kids feel more secure but words and pictures also ignite creativity and imagination; two valuable components of a well-rounded life experience.

Sources: Kerry Sheridan, http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-06-doctors-urge-parents-babies.html

Your Toddler

Mother’s Low Vitamin D Linked to Child’s Cavities

2.00 to read

Want to make sure your baby has strong teeth and few cavities as he or she matures? A new study says that moms-to-be should who receive a sufficient amount of vitamin D during pregnancy, are providing their infant with a better chance of fewer cavities when their teeth come in. Previous studies have shown a link between low vitamin D in mothers can lead to defects in the enamel of their toddler’s teeth. Enamel starts developing while the baby is in the womb. Dr. Robert J. Schroth from University of Manitoba's dental school in Winnipeg, Canada, and his team wondered whether low vitamin D levels in mothers during pregnancy would also translate into higher cavity rates for their toddlers. They measured vitamin D levels in the second or early third trimester in 207 pregnant women and then examined the teeth of 135 of their children when they were an average of 16 months old. The mothers were from predominately poor, urban neighborhoods. Most of the women’s vitamin D levels were in the normal range, but about a third had below normal levels. Depending on the definition of cavities the researchers used, 23 to 36 percent of the toddlers had cavities. Prenatal vitamin D levels were significantly lower in women whose toddlers later had cavities than in women whose toddlers did not have cavities, according to findings published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers noted a direct relationship between low vitamin D levels in mothers and a higher number of cavities in their toddlers. "Prevention efforts should begin during pregnancy by bolstering maternal nutrition, either through improved dietary intake or supplementation with vitamin D" they said. While some experts recommend that women take vitamin D supplements during pregnancy, not everyone agrees. Dr. Philippe P. Hujoel from the University of Washington School of Dentistry in Seattle disagrees that all pregnant women need vitamin D supplements. "In place of supplementation, I would recommend maintaining proper vitamin D levels during pregnancy the natural way - enjoy the sun, choose foods such as wild salmon, ahi tuna, mushrooms and eggs. Additionally, reducing carbohydrate intake will reduce the body's need for vitamin D," he told Reuters Health in an email. "Avoid sugar. It is a necessary fuel for dental cavities and it burns up vitamin D," Hujoel added. Natural vitamin D is found in small amounts in foods such as herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna. It’s also available in certain drinks such as vitamin D fortified milks and juices. More and more foods are fortified with vitamin De such as eggs and cereal. But most vitamin D – 80% to 90% of what the body gets – is obtained through exposure to sunlight. Source: Will Boggs MD, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/21/us-low-vitamin-toddlers-idUSBR...

Your Toddler

Chickenpox Lollipops?

2.00 to read

Would you give your child a lollipop that was infected with the chickenpox virus?  Most parents would say no way, but some want to throw a “pox party” to make sure their child gets sick.

You may have heard about them. They are called pox parties, and here’s how they work.   You have, or know someone who has, a child who is sick with chickenpox. A party is held so that the sick child can play with other children who are not sick. They play together, and share drinking cups or lollipops, food or wash cloths so that the well children are exposed to the virus in hopes that they will also get sick.

Why would a parent deliberately expose their child to chickenpox?

Many of these parents believe that getting the virus naturally will offer a longer lasting immunity than the vaccination and booster shots required by schools. They also say that smallpox is a “weak” virus that is not dangerous.

Dr. Louis Cooper, a spokesman for the Infectious Disease Society of America and a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, told ABC News "I deeply regret that parents who are trying to do the right thing just don't get it. The fact is that they're right; chickenpox for most children is a mild illness. But when you see children who have the misfortune of one of the complications that are possible, you never forget it."

"The child does not need to be immune-deficient or malnourished to have these complications," said Cooper, who recommends that all parents vaccinate their children against the virus. "It can be an ordinary healthy child, it's Russian roulette."

The chickenpox vaccine, varicella, was first approved for use in the United States in 1995 and is now required in every state before a child can enter day care or school. Exceptions, including proof that the child has contracted the virus on his or her own, as well as parents who refrain from getting their children vaccinated because of religious reasons, vary from state to state.

“Find a Pox Party” sites have turned up on Facebook and other social media outlets across the country. People have been selling contaminated candy, diapers, and blankets to parents, sometimes shipping these items through the mail.

A Nashville TV station reported on a local woman who charged $50 a pop to ship suckers smothered in saliva by her sick kids.

Spurred by that story, Nashville federal prosecutor Jerry Martin warned parents not to try it. “It’s illegal and unsafe,” Martin told the Associated Press.

Pediatricians are taking a strong stand against pox parties. They warn that children exposed to such practices have a higher risk of developing encephalitis and group A Strep.

Pox parties are not new; they’ve been around for a long time. Before the advent of vaccines smallpox parties and other types of controlled inoculation did reduce death rates due to, for example smallpox, considerably. These practices all but vanished when the smallpox vaccine was introduced.

Vaccinations have been under scrutiny since a 1998 study-now proven to be false- linked autism with childhood vaccinations. Some parents still refuse to get their children vaccinated, believing the study had merit.

Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician specializing in infectious disease at the department of pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said that many parents who are against vaccinating their children argue that getting the virus naturally is more beneficial to the child's overall health.

"The thinking many parents have is that the natural infection is more likely to induce higher levels of antibodies and longer-lasting immunity than vaccines," Offit said. "That's generally true but the problem is if you make that choice you are also taking the risk of a natural infection, which can mean hospitalization and sometimes death."

Not everyone agrees on the pros and cons of pox parties, but most medical experts say that parents should choose the vaccine.

Curtis Allen is a spokesperson for the Center for Disease Control. He notes that chickenpox is uncomfortable for kids, and suggests that parents who are looking for natural immunity should talk to their pediatricians about the decision not to vaccinate.

"There are a couple of things to know about chickenpox," he said. "First of all, the vaccine is very safe. Secondly, varicella, or chickenpox, is not necessarily a benign disease. Most children ... do fine with it. However, there are some children who become very sick."

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