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Your Child

Kids: Safe Lawn Care

2:00

This is the time of year when kids are most likely to be playing in the yard. Daylight hours are longer and winter’s chill is fading fast or gone.  It’s also the time when insects and weeds make an appearance, demanding some type of control.

All pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are toxic on some level. Along with killing pests and weeds, they can also harm you, your children, your pets, and any wildlife on your lawn.

Researchers have noted that young children are especially at risk from pesticides. Their bodies and immune systems are still developing. They are also more likely to spend time outside on the lawn, playing or crawling and coming in contact with any pesticides used there.

As population growth and sub-division building increases, these chemicals have increased in usage.

 However, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides are not the only ways to have a welcoming lawn and insect control. If you must use some pesticides, you can help keep your family safe by using them with care, and only when needed.

Lawn care starts with the basics. When your lawn is healthy, there’s less of a chance for weeds and pests. Pests often mean that the soil is lacking nutrients. Without healthy soil, grass and other plants have a harder time growing and staying healthy. A soil test will tell you what the pH level is and whether your soil needs extra nutrients. Most grasses do best in a soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. If you find that your soil needs help or a pH adjustment, you can add nutrients as needed.

Compost is a healthier option for adding nutrients than many chemical fertilizers. Most lawns can use a good fertilizing at least once a year. You can top-dress with a quarter- to a half-inch of compost. Or look for fertilizer that's labeled "slow release" or "natural organic" fertilizer.

A soil test will tell you what the pH level is and whether your soil needs extra nutrients. Most grasses do best in a soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. If you find that your soil needs help or a pH adjustment, you can add nutrients as needed.

You can also do online research about what kind of grass grows best in your part of the country. County extension offices often have an abundance of material on grasses, flowers and tree types that your area is compatible with and need less watering.

Mowing can have a dramatic effect on lawns. By leaving your grass a little longer -- usually between 2 ½ and 3 ½ inches -- you can usually improve your lawn's health. This is because the leaves of longer grass have more access to sunlight, which helps the grass grow thicker and create deeper roots.

Longer grass is better for your soil, since it provides more shade and helps the soil retain moisture. It also makes it more difficult for weeds to grow.

When pests appear, many experts agree that integrated pest management (IPM) is the most effective and environmentally friendly way to control pests. Basically, this means using holistic ways to treat pests when possible, such as mowing your lawn higher to shade out weeds or planting more disease-resistant types of grasses or plants, and only using pesticides when needed.

Here are a few suggestions to try before you reach for the pesticide:

- Give nature a little time to work. Damaged parts of your lawn may bounce back over time. And most lawn and garden pests have natural enemies that will help control pests. For example, ladybugs and praying mantises eat other bugs while not damaging your lawn or garden.

- Pull out weeds using a long-handled weed puller. It's usually easier than by hand.

- Vinegar can also be used to kill weeds.

- Mulch garden beds to prevent weeds.

- Remove diseased plants so the problem doesn't spread.

If you do decide to use a pesticide, follow these guidelines to help keep your family safe:

- Make sure you know what kind of pest you're dealing with so you can choose the right type of pesticide. Your local extension agent or other local lawn expert can help you identify the problem. There are also organic lawn and pest care companies.

- Don't treat the whole lawn if it’s unnecessary. Use pesticides just where you have the problem.

- Read the label on the pesticide carefully and follow the instructions.

- Wear gloves, and long pants and sleeves while using the pesticide to protect your skin. Wash clothing separately before wearing them again.

- Keep children and pets away from the area for the time recommended on the label.

- If you hire a lawn care service, find one that uses an IPM approach to lawn care or uses organic or chemical-free processes.

Fleas and ticks are some of the most annoying pests during summer and can be difficult to control. 

Fleas and ticks prefer a moist environment. Overwatering is an invitation to these pests. One of the safest ways to treat your yard is the application of Diatomaceous Earth (often just called DE). Diatomaceous earth, which is available at garden centers, is crushed rock that contains the fossilized remains of diatoms, an alga. The hard-shelled alga grates against the fleas and kills them mechanically, not chemically. Don’t buy the DE that is intended for pools; it has been chemically treated and isn’t for use around pets. DE is easy to use by sprinkling areas in the yard where fleas are likely to congregate, such as your dog’s favorite hangouts. Wear a filter mask when spreading the fine powder and keep your dog inside while treating the yard.

Another natural way to treat your yard is by using beneficial nematodes, microscopic round worms that are safe for your family and your pets. Along with fleas, nematodes kill weevils, crane flies, grubs, corn borers, and other vegetable garden pests. The nematodes are microscopic so you won’t see them; you’ll purchase them on a small sponge that contains about one million live nematodes, enough for about 3,000 square feet of yard space.

After soaking the sponge in water, you’ll spray the yard with the mixture. You can purchase the nematodes as far in advance as about a week prior to the yard application; just keep the package in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Organic lawn care can be a little more laborious at the beginning, but as your soil becomes healthier– less and less time is needed to maintain it.

Having a safer lawn may mean that you learn to live with a weed or two. But even healthy lawns have a few weeds and pests. Knowing that your kids are safe when playing hide-and-seek or leapfrog should make any weeds that do pop up a little easier to tolerate.

Story sources: http://www.webmd.com/children/lawn-care#1

Paris Permenter, John Bigley http://www.petsafe.net/learn/10-ways-to-prevent-pests-naturally

 

Your Baby

Is Your Baby Safer Sleeping in a Box?

2:00

Is your baby safer sleeping in a box instead of a crib? Some parents think so and are ditching the traditional infant crib for a specially made cardboard box.

The Baby Box Co., is a Los-Angeles based business that is partnering with hospitals across the U.S. to give away free “baby boxes” to new parents.

The parents also receive a 15- minute educational video about safe sleeping habits for infants. Also included in the box are infant clothing, a mattress, a fitted sheet plus $150 worth of baby necessities.

While relatively novel in the U.S., the baby-box isn’t a new idea.  It’s modeled after a program in Finland that began more than 70 years ago. Baby boxes are aimed at curbing infant mortality rates by promoting safe sleeping practices for newborns.

New Jersey adopted the first statewide baby box program; distributing a total of 105,000 boxes. And now, Ohio has joined up, along with hospitals in Philadelphia and San Antonio, Texas.

Proponents of baby boxes say the combination of educational tools and free resources will bring America's infant mortality rate closer to those found in wealthy Nordic countries.

The goal of the Baby Box program is to bring the rate of children dying from Sudden Infant Death syndrome (SIDS) down. SIDS is usually attributed to sleep-related accidents such as strangulation, suffocation or entrapment. In 2015, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported about 3,700 infants died from SIDS.

The U.S. saw a drastic decline in its infant mortality rate since 1994, when the CDC launched its "Back to Sleep" campaign urging parents to have their infants sleep on their backs rather than stomachs, but disadvantaged groups still tend to be affected by SIDS more than others.

In Finland, Baby Boxes have had a dramatic impact on infant mortality since the program was launched in 1949. In the 1930s, the country's infant mortality rate was 65 deaths per 1,000 infants. Beginning in 1949, that number has shrunk to 3.5 deaths per 1,000 births— a decrease that's credited in part to baby boxes. Comparatively, the United States had an infant mortality rate of about 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births in 2016.

One University of Chicago study found that primarily lower socioeconomic groups drive the higher infant mortality rate in the U.S. after the mother and child leave the hospital. Contributing factors may include health coverage insurance and the mother’s amount of education.

What else can be done to curb infant mortality rates?

Some experts argue that policies geared toward enhanced post neonatal care for mothers of low socioeconomic status would be most effective in combating the U.S. infant mortality rate.

Universal home nurse visits, available in a number of European countries such as Finland and Austria, are one option. A provision of the Affordable Care Act offers money for a number of similar programs, such as the Nurse Family Partnership founded in 1977 in New York.

The program, which sought to rein in infant deaths in the U.S., provides low-income, first-time mothers with registered nurses who visit their homes to provide assistance and child health education for mothers.

According to the Baby Box Co. website, Baby Boxes are not only available through some hospitals, but also direct to consumer.

Story source: Avalon Zoppo, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/hospitals-u-s-give-away-free-baby-boxes-curb-infant-n732421

http://www.babyboxco.com

Daily Dose

Car Seat Safety

1:30 to read

As a pediatrician, I remind parents from the time they leave the hospital for the first ride home with their newborn, until their child is at least 4 years of age that their child needs to be well secured in a car seat!! I have written articles with updated guidelines for car seat safety, including the recommendations that a child remain in a rear facing car seat until at least 2 years of age. I have done TV segments on how to install a car seat…..but I had not installed a car seat in my own car. 

 

So last week I found myself with my husband perusing the aisles of our local “baby store” for a car seat for our now toddler granddaughter.  We arrived with lists of questions and Consumer Report rankings trying to figure out the “best and safest” car seat. It was certainly a lesson in knowing that there is not a “one size fits all” when choosing a car seat. We left the store over an hour later, with a large box and several hundred dollars “poorer”, but confident that we had made a good choice.

 

Next, time to put the car seat in the back seat of my car so that we could pick up our grand daughter for an event. We got out the instructions and I assured my husband that I had observed car seat installations numerous times…key word “observed”.  We started reading page after page of instructions to try and begin the “easy” installation.

 

Well….we did manage to get it in the middle of the back seat of the car and even figured out the latching system (that took us about 30 minutes and two different trials). But that was just the first of the installment issues.  We had to thread the seat belt through the car seat over and over again with each of us on opposite sides insisting that the other was not threading the belt correctly or pulling tight enough….. as we worked to make sure the seat was tight and stable. Once that was complete we realized that we should have figured out the car seat straps before we had latched the car seat….and did we really have to take it out again?

 

It seemed like you needed a degree in physics and engineering (not medicine and business) to safely install a car seat.  We finally figure it out….but it was not always a “friendly” exchange between a long married couple who are now grandparents. How could our many years of parenting seem easy in comparison?

 

My advice, go to a car seat installation in your area…which is what we did with the rear facing car seat we had for our infant granddaughter. Somehow, they made it look like it was not that difficult and it was certainly installed correctly and safely!

Parenting

Tips for a Fun and Safe Easter!

2:00

Easter is right around the corner and many parents and grandparents will be hosting or attending the traditional egg hunt. Little ones will scramble to fill their baskets and sacks with chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks and decorated Easter eggs.

If you’re one of the lucky hosts, here are 7 tips to help create not only make great memories, but also a safer and healthier day!

1. Egg Safety: Always cook eggs thoroughly and refrigerate them before and after dying. If you’re blowing out the raw eggs and dying the shells, use a straw or choose pasteurized eggs to avoid salmonella exposure. Wait to hide your eggs until just before the hunt is scheduled to start: you should consume boiled eggs within two hours of removing them from the refrigerator. If you’re worried about using hard-boiled eggs, consider replacing them with plastic eggs and hiding toys and treats inside instead.

One tip to avoid cracked egg shells while cooking comes from L.A. Times Test Kitchen and Food Editor, Russ Parson. "Place the eggs in a pan just big enough to hold them in a single layer," Parsons said. "Cover them with cold water and bring them to a rolling boil. Cook for one minute, and then remove them from the heat. When the water has cooled enough that you can put your hand in (about 20 minutes), the eggs will be perfectly cooked."

2. Coloring Easter Eggs: A favorite Easter tradition is creating unique egg designs. To dye Easter eggs safely, make sure everyone washes their hands before and after handling the eggs. Eggs that have cracked during cooking are an easy target for bacteria, so avoid coloring or eating those. Use only food-grade dyes, or make your own from grape juice, tea, beets, blueberries, turmeric, or other natural products.

Instructions for making naturally dyed Easter eggs can be found here.

3. Avoid Choking Hazards: Many families hide plastic Easter eggs, typically filled with a small toy.  For toddlers and crawlers (who will put everything in their mouths), it’s best to use larger plastic eggs that have nothing in them. Small toys are easy for little throats to choke on. If you’re giving your toddler candy, avoid jellybeans and hard candies. Hotdogs are the number one choking hazard for children!

4. Food Allergies: Ask parents if any kids with food allergies will be attending your Easter egg hunt. If so, it’s easier than ever to accommodate them. Peanut-, dairy-, and gluten-free candies are readily available

5. Outdoor Dangers: Take a walk through your lawn or pasture to make sure that all tools and chemicals are removed. Check to see that poison ivy or oak is not present. And don’t forget about anthills – these stinging pests can pop up overnight, particularly after a rain. Any pets that can get over-excited by running and yelling children should be kept inside or in a pen.

6. Speaking of Pets: If your four-legged friends are allowed to join in on the fun, be sure to keep chocolate, Easter grass, and plastic off the ground and out of their reach. Remind the kids (and parents!) not to feed any candy to the dog.

Baby bunnies and chicks are often given to kids at Easter. Many experts agree that these pets do not do well in the hands of small children. They also require consistent care and the proper environment to thrive. Stuffed animals are a much better choice for most children. 

7. Easter Hunt Alternatives: If you’re concerned about certain Easter hunt safety issues; consider an alternative plan. Games can be a huge hit with kids as well as a petting zoo or children’s entertainer. Some Easter game suggestions are: Guessing the number of jelly beans in jar, playing hide and seek, competing in an Easter egg spoon race, playing pin the tail on the Easter Bunny, or you may even want to make up your own games!

Easter celebrations are a favorite family event. Make this Easter a memorable and safe one for your family!

Story sources: Alyssa Baker, http://www.safewise.com/blog/7-tips-for-hosting-safe-easter-egg-hunt/

Maria Vultaggio, http://www.ibtimes.com/how-boil-easter-eggs-without-cracking-them-tips-perfect-hard-boiled-egg-1571632

Photo: http://www.govtedu.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/colorful-eggs-basket-e...

 

 

Your Baby

Recall: Otteroo Baby Floats Due to Drowning Risks

1:00

Babies and young children can drown in less than 2 inches of water.  That’s why it is  vital that parents and caregivers never leave a baby or young child unattended while they are near or in water.

When bathing their infant, parents will sometimes attach a bath float to their child to help keep his or her head above water. While the float may offer some assistance, critics warn that the device can give parents a false sense of security that their child is protected from drowning.

Otteroo Corporation makes inflatable baby floats that are specifically designed for babies 8 weeks and up.

The company is recalling about 3000 units of their inflatable Baby Floats after receiving 54 reports of broken seems on the product. No injuries have been reported.

The Otteroo Inflatable Baby Float is an inflatable round ring made of clear and blue plastic material. It has two air chambers that fasten around a baby’s neck with a white buckle. The floats have a chin rest, two handles and two circular openings on the back of the ring to allow the device to expand as the child grows with age. There are three colorful balls that move freely around inside the ring.  The name “Otteroo” is imprinted on the top of the float in large, orange letters with an Otter logo.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled inflatable baby floats and contact the firm to receive a free replacement.

The floats were sold online at Otteroo.com and Amazon.com and Zulily.com from January 2014 through July 2014 for about $35.

Consumers can contact Otteroo Corporation at (415) 236-5388 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online www.otteroo.com and click on “Safety” at the bottom of the page for more information.

According to their website, Otteroo is offering a free replacement for those who purchased the product manufactured in 2014 (NO: 002013001).

Sources: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/Recall-Alerts/2015/Otteroo-Corp-Recalls-Inflatable-Baby-Floats/

http://otteroo.com/pages/safety-info

Your Child

Tips for Preventing Sports Injuries

1:30

The school year is about to wind down and it won’t be long before many kids will be signing up for summer sports programs.

If you’re child loves sports, there’s not a season where he or she can’t find one to participate in. Sports often help children stay in better physical shape, feel good about them selves and with team sports, enjoy social interaction and competition.

However, all sports have a certain amount of risks associated with them - some more than others. The more contact the sport provides, the greater the risk for a traumatic injury. Fortunately, traumatic injuries are rare and most sport injuries to young athletes are due to overuse.

The most common sport-related injuries are sprains (ligament injuries) , stress fractures( bone injuries)  and strains (muscle injuries).Since children’s bodies are still developing, any tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if there is minimal swelling or limitation in motion.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips to help reduce serious injuries in younger athletes:

•       Time off. Plan to have at least 1 day off per week from a particular sport to allow the body to recover. 

•       Wear the right gear.  Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will always protect them when performing more dangerous or risky activities.

•       Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises during practice strengthens muscles used in play. 

•       Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises before and after games or practice can increase flexibility. Stretching should also be incorporated into a daily fitness plan.

•       Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season. 

•       Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.  

•       Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), and spearing (football) should be enforced. 

•       Stop the activity if there is pain.

•       Avoid heat injury by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing. 

While physical injuries are easier to see, sports-related emotional stress can also cause problems for some children. The pressure to win at all costs can add a lot of emotional stress to children who are more interested in playing than always being first.

Not every team is going to win every game, and there will be times when kids involved in more singular sports won’t have a good day. It happens to everyone at some time or another; ask any pro athlete. Young athletes should be judged on effort, sportsmanship and hard work. They should be rewarded for trying hard and for improving their skills rather than punished or criticized for losing a game or competition.  The main goal should be to have fun and learn lifelong physical activity skills.

There are numerous sports that children can engage in and each one offers its own benefits. As parents, it’s important to encourage our children and keep them as healthy as possible.

Source: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Tips-for-Sports-Injury-Prevention.aspx

Your Baby

Recall: Infant Bathtubs Due to Drowning and Impact Injury

1:30

This recall involves 86,000 Summer Infant Lil’ Luxuries Whirlpool, Bubbling Spa & Shower with fabric slings.

Fabric slings on the recalled infant bathtubs can detach from the tub, posing a risk of impact injury and drowning.

CPSC and Summer Infant have received reports of 91 incidents of the sling detaching, including 11 reports of infants who received a bump to the head.

The infant bathtub is a battery-operated whirlpool bath with motorized jets intended for use with children from birth to 2 years. The product contains a fabric sling on a plastic frame onto which the infant is placed for bathing. The fabric sling on the recalled bathtubs does not have a white plastic attachment clip to hold the headrest area of the fabric sling to the plastic frame.

Recalled bathtubs have item numbers 18840, 18850, 18863, and 18873 and were sold between October 2012 and October 2013 with date codes starting with 1210, 1211, 1212, 1301, 1302, 1303, 1304, 1305, 1306, 1307, and 1308, which stand for the two-digit year followed by the two-digit month, on the fabric sling.

Consumers should immediately stop using the fabric sling in the recalled product and contact Summer Infant for a replacement fabric sling with a white plastic attachment clip. Consumers can contact Summer Infant toll free at 844-612-4254 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET on Friday, or online at www.summerinfant.com and click on “Safety Alerts & Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

The recalled items were sold at Toys R Us/Babies R Us and other juvenile product specialty stores nationwide from October 2012 through October 2013 for about $60. CPSC and Summer Infant warn consumers that these tubs could have been and could continue to be sold on the secondhand market.

 

Your Child

Zip Lining Safety Tips

1:45

From the mountains of Costa Rica to over waterfalls in Hawaii, zip lining has become a vacation acivity destination. Zip lining operations can also be found in  summer camps, zoos, fields in the middle nowhere, people’s backyards and lots of other exotic and not-so- exotic locations.

Here’s how they work. A zip line consists of a pulley suspended on a cable, typically made of stainless steel and mounted on an incline. A rider sits in a harness attached to a pulley. At the top of the slope, the user propels forward and gravity does the rest. Depending on your location, it can be quite a thrilling ride to the base.

One of the keys to a safe zip lining experience is knowing something about the company and the operator of the ride. Before you harness your child into a zip line at camp or during a family vacation, ask the operator questions about the ride’s safety and look around. Not every company follows the same safety rules. Though there are currently no national standards for zip line construction and operation, many states have them, and any legitimate operator should also adhere to the standards set by the Association for Challenge Course Technology or the Professional Ropes Course Association.

Here are some questions you can ask:

·      If the operation is inspected, how often and by whom.

·      What is the company’s safety record?

·      What training the operators have.

·      Is a safety demonstration included?

Check the area out once you arrive. Do the operators look professional? Look at the equipment provided, including carabiners, ropes, harnesses and helmets. Are they well maintained? Look at the course itself. Do the lines look free from wear and tear? How about the platforms? Do they look sturdy? Do they have guardrails?

Once on the course, make sure you're strapped onto a safety line at all times — not just while you're zipping through space. (Some places require that you have two safety lines hooked on.) Many accidents occur by a simple step off a platform. So if you're on the course (which often means many feet off the ground), you should be safely attached to a line that will catch you if you fall. Also, watch out for other adventurers and the guides. Don't get in their way.

Make sure everyone in the family who is zip lining wears a helmet and has closed-toe shoes.

Nearly 17,000 zip line injuries were treated in emergency rooms from 1997-2012, and most of those injuries were in the last four years, according to a 2015 study by Gary A. Smith, M.D., Dr.P.H., FAAP, and colleagues at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. About half the injuries involved children under 10 years old. Another 33% involved children ages 10-19 years. The study noted that many zip lines are not regulated, and there are no uniform safety standards.

The increase in the number of zip line injuries in children is “an epidemic by any definition,” according to Dr. Smith, past chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention.

“If kids are using them, you really need to make sure they’re using them in places where people are trained, they know what they’re doing and the zip lines have been constructed in a way that they’re not going to fail,” said Dr. Smith.

Backyard zip line kits sold online and in stores also have been linked to injuries. Earlier this year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled a backyard zip line kit (http://1.usa.gov/1XoHrFs) because of a design flaw that made it easy for the cable to separate from the line, causing riders to fall. Riders suffered head injuries and bruises. Another recall was issued in 2014 for backyard zip line trolleys (http://1.usa.gov/1RT6uaY) that released unexpectedly. No injuries were reported. Authors of the 2015 study warned against buying and installing backyard zip lines.

The AAP does not have a policy on zip lines and children. However, Dr. Smith suggested the following safety precautions:

·      Requiring riders to wear a helmet, harness and gloves;

·      Training operators;

·      Inspecting and maintaining equipment regularly; and

·      Posting rules and requiring participants to follow them.

“If done correctly, these and other types of outdoor amusements that are there for the thrill … can be done in a safe enough way that it’s reasonable for children to use them,” Dr. Smith said.

Story sources: Trisha Korioth, http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/07/07/ZipLines070716

John Donovan, http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/eco-tourism/stories/6-things-do-you-go-zip-lining

Your Child

2 Doses of Chickenpox Vaccine Almost 100 Percent Effective

2:00

Chickenpox is one of the most common childhood illnesses. It is a viral infection caused by the Varicella zoster virus and produces a painful, itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters.

It occurs most often in early spring and late winter and is highly contagious. Typically, chickenpox occurs in kids between 6 and 10 years of age.

A new study shows that among schoolchildren, two doses of the chickenpox vaccine is more effective than one.

Giving the first dose at age 1 and the second dose at ages 4 to 6 is nearly 100 percent effective in preventing the once common childhood disease, researchers have found.

"A second dose of varicella [chickenpox] vaccine provides school-aged children with better protection against the chickenpox virus, compared to one dose alone or no vaccination," said lead researcher Dana Perella, of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Two doses of the vaccine protected against the moderate to severe chickenpox infections that can lead to complications and hospitalizations, she said.

Before routine chickenpox vaccination began in 1995, virtually all children were infected at some point, sometimes with serious complications. About 11,000 children were hospitalized each year for chickenpox, and 100 died annually from the disease, according to the CDC.

One-dose vaccination greatly reduced incidence of chickenpox, but outbreaks continued to be reported in schools where many kids had been vaccinated. That led the CDC in 2006 to recommend a second vaccine dose.

To evaluate effectiveness of the double- dose regimen, Perella and colleagues collected data on 125 children with chickenpox in Philadelphia and northern Los Angeles and compared them with 408 kids who had not had the disease.

They found that two doses of the vaccine was slightly more than 97 percent effective in protecting kids from chickenpox.

"With improved protection provided by two-dose varicella vaccination compared with one-dose only, continued decreases in the occurrence of chickenpox, including more severe infections and hospitalizations, are expected as more children routinely receive dose two between the ages of 4 and 6 years," Perella said.

For children with weakened immune systems that cannot take the vaccine, having their classmates and playmates protected by the vaccine helps protect them against the viral infection.

School vaccine requirements should include two-dose varicella vaccination, Perella said.

"In addition, 'catch-up' varicella vaccination is also important," she said. This applies to anyone over 6 who haven’t had a second vaccine dose, especially if they could be exposed to chickenpox or shingles - a painful condition in older people caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus, she said.

Most healthy children who get chickenpox do not have serious complications from the illness. But there are cases when chickenpox has caused hospitalization, serious complications and even death.

A child may be at greater risk for complications if he or she:

·      Has a weakened immune system

·      Is under 1 year of age

·      Suffers from eczema

·      Takes a medication called salicylate

·      Was born prematurely

The report was published online March 14 and will appear in the April print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Story sources: Steven Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160314/two-dose-chickenpox-shot-gets-the-job-done-study-shows

http://www.parents.com/health/vaccines/chicken-pox/chickenpox-facts/

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DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

New study reveals how much sleep kids really need.

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