A Parent’s Guide to Managing Kids’ Asthma During the Fall

SATURDAY, Oct. 12, 2019 — Fall can be a challenging time of the year for kids with asthma, an expert says.

“Although asthma can flare up for a number of reasons, a lot of people with allergies also have asthma, and asthma can be triggered by allergies. So the fall is a tough time for asthmatic sufferers,” said Dr. Gaurav Kumar, a pediatrician at LifeBridge Health in Baltimore.

While many kids do well with their asthma during the summer, problems often accompany the return to school.

“You go from taking these outdoor summer vacations to now being in a classroom again,” Kumar explained. “So now you’re in contact with people in closed spaces. And of course, what happens is germs are more likely to spread that way. So you could get colds from friends who have colds, and then that becomes a trigger for asthma.”

Parents need to make sure their child’s asthma is under control. If a child stopped taking preventive asthma medications regularly during the summer, they should resume daily use now, Kumar advised.

Children with asthma should have checkups at least once a year, and in some cases as often as three or four times a year.

“An asthma checkup is an opportunity for us to reassess how the year has gone and to make plans in anticipation of what might happen,” Kumar said in a LifeBridge Health news release.

A flu shot is also important, because kids with asthma are at high risk for serious flu-related complications. Asthma is the most common medical condition among children hospitalized with the flu.

Flu vaccine is “very safe” in children with asthma and “will not cause any negative effects to trigger asthma attacks,” Kumar said.

More information

The American Lung Association offers advice for parents of children with asthma.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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Train Tracks Deadly for Kids, But Many Parents Underestimate the Danger

TUESDAY, Sept. 24, 2019 — Think the chances that your kid could be hit by a train are slim to none?

New research suggests you should think again.

Issued to coincide with “Rail Safety Week,” the Sept. 23 report finds that, on average, a child dies of a train-related injury somewhere in the United States every five days. And for every death, another three children are injured.

The finding indicates that many parents may not realize the importance of addressing railroad safety, said Torine Creppy, president of Safe Kids Worldwide.

“In fact, fewer than half of parents we surveyed say they have talked with their children about it, and half of parents admit to taking risks around railroads,” Creppy added.

“We want to help parents get the little-known, but lifesaving information they need to protect themselves and their kids,” she added in a Safe Kids news release.

The Safe Kids Worldwide report highlights two key reasons people get hit by trains: car collisions and trespassing.

The report warns that collisions occur when drivers aren’t paying attention, ignore track safety barriers, or race to cross over the tracks before an oncoming train. The latter is a big mistake, Creppy and her colleagues noted, because even if a conductor spots a problem it’s impossible to stop a hurtling train on a dime. It can take upwards of a mile of advanced warning to bring a moving train to a full stop.

Trespassing on foot alongside tracks is both illegal and dangerous, they added. For one, modern trains aren’t as loud as one might expect. And they’re also considerably wider than the track itself — at least three feet wider on either side — which means being near, but not on, a track is no guarantee of safety.

In concert with Union Pacific Railroad, Safe Kids Worldwide offers some safety tips:

  • Only cross at designated track crossings.
  • Never try to beat a train across the tracks.
  • Always wait for trains to completely clear the crossing.
  • Don’t play, stroll or take photos anywhere near a train track.
  • Avoid distractions, such as cellphones or music, when preparing to cross a railroad track.

More information

There’s more on railroad track safety at Safe Kids Worldwide.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Parents, Throw the Garden at Your Picky Eater

THURSDAY, Sept. 19, 2019 — When it comes to convincing your kids that vegetables taste good, variety might be the key to success.

New research suggests that offering children more than one type of vegetable may improve the chances that they’ll eat a greater amount.

The study included 32 families with children aged 4 to 6 who didn’t eat many vegetables. The children were divided into three groups: no change in eating habits, being given one type of vegetable (broccoli), or being given multiple vegetables (broccoli, zucchini and peas).

Parents were given instructions on portion size and cooking instructions, along with tips on how to offer the vegetables to the children, who were served a small piece of vegetable three times a week for five weeks. A sticker was given as a reward to children trying a new vegetable.

Vegetable consumption increased from 0.6 to 1.2 servings among children who were offered multiple vegetables, but no changes in consumption occurred among children who received a single vegetable or those whose eating habits weren’t changed.

The increased acceptance for multiple vegetables during the five weeks of the study was still evident three months later, according to the findings published in the September issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

“While the amount of vegetables eaten increased during the study, the amount did not meet dietary guidelines. Nonetheless, the study showed the strategy of offering a variety of vegetables was more successful in increasing consumption than offering a single vegetable,” said lead author Astrid Poelman, from the CSIRO Agriculture & Food, Sensory, Flavour and Consumer Science in Australia.

“In Australia, dietary guidelines for vegetable consumption by young children have increased although actual consumption is low,” Poelman said in a journal news release. “This study introduces an effective strategy for parents wanting to address this deficiency.”

Parents in the study said that offering the vegetables to their children was “very easy” or “quite easy,” and most followed the instructions provided by the researchers.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Amazon Echo link could be turning UK parents off the name Alexa

FILE PHOTO: Prompts on how to use Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant are seen alongside an Amazon Echo in an Amazon ‘experience center’ in Vallejo, California, U.S., May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – The number of parents in Britain calling their baby girls Alexa dropped by more than half last year, statistics showed on Thursday, possibly due to the link with Amazon Echo voice-controlled gadgets.

The Echo, a smart speaker that can perform household tasks such as adjusting lights, responds to the name Alexa.

“The growth in the use of technology assistants in our homes may help to explain why the number of baby girls named Alexa has more than halved compared with 2017,” said Nick Stripe of the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“Communicating with young children can be hard enough at the best of times.”

Alexa was the 380th most popular name for girls in England and Wales last year, with 118 newborns given the name – a sharp fall from 2017, when there were 301 Alexas.

Oliver and Olivia remained the most popular names for boys and girls, for the sixth and third year running.

Reporting by Molly Millar; editing by Stephen Addison

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Many Parents Would Switch Doctors Over Vaccination Policy, Poll Finds

MONDAY, Aug. 19, 2019 — Forty percent of U.S. parents say they would likely find a new doctor if their child’s primary care provider sees families who refuse childhood vaccines, a nationwide poll finds.

And three in 10 say their child’s primary care provider should not treat youngsters whose parents refuse all vaccines.

Those are key findings of the latest C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health from the University of Michigan. The findings, published Aug. 19, are based on responses from 2,032 parents of at least one child aged 18 or younger.

“When a family refuses all childhood vaccines, it puts providers in a challenging position,” poll co-director Sarah Clark said in a university news release announcing the findings.

Not only is an unvaccinated child unprotected against harmful and contagious diseases (such as measles, whooping cough and chickenpox), those who skip vaccines also pose a risk of transmitting diseases to other patients, she pointed out.

“This can be especially risky exposure for vulnerable populations, including infants too young to receive vaccines, elderly patients, patients with weakened immune systems or pregnant women,” Clark added.

But many parents were unaware of their health care provider’s policies, and some were unconcerned.

Thirty-nine percent said their child’s primary care provider requires patients to get all recommended vaccines; 8% said only some vaccines are required; and 15% said their provider has no policy. Almost four in 10 weren’t sure.

But 29% of respondents said they’d be “somewhat likely” to look for another doctor if theirs saw kids whose parents had refused all vaccines. Twelve percent would be “very likely” to switch, the findings showed.

Six percent said their provider doesn’t let unvaccinated kids use the common waiting room; 2% said they are allowed do so if they wear a mask. About one-quarter said their provider had no restrictions.

Many parents favor tighter controls: 17% said unvaccinated kids should be kept out of the waiting room and 27% said any allowed in should have to wear masks. Yet, 28% of parents favored no restrictions.

About 43% said they would want to know if other patients at their child’s primary care practice had received no vaccines, while 33% would not, according to the poll.

Clark said recent measles outbreaks underscore the need for parents and providers to consider policies for unvaccinated children.

“Parents may assume that when they take their child to the doctor, they are in a setting that will not expose their child to diseases,” she said. “Parents may not have considered that there could be another child in the waiting room whose parents have refused all vaccines.”

Clark said providers need to consider whether to adopt policies to prevent exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases and then communicate them to everyone in their practice.

“Any parent — and particularly parents of infants or immunocompromised children — should ask their child’s primary care provider about policies surrounding unvaccinated children,” she advised.

The poll, administered in February to a representative sample of parents, has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 to 3 percentage points.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on vaccinations.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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Parents Who Belittle Their Children May Be Raising Bullies

MONDAY, July 22, 2019 — It’s a vicious cycle: Teens who are belittled and demeaned by their parents are more likely to be bullied and to bully others, a new study suggests.

“Inappropriate interpersonal responses appear to spread from parents to children, where they spawn peer difficulties,” said study co-author Brett Laursen, a professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University.

“Specifically, derisive parenting precipitates a cycle of negative affect and anger between parents and adolescents, which ultimately leads to greater adolescent bullying and victimization,” he explained in a university news release.

“Our study is important because it provides a more complete understanding of how parents’ belittling and critical interactions with adolescents thwart their ability to maintain positive relationships with peers,” Laursen said.

He and his colleagues followed more than 1,400 teens from ages 13 to 15 and found that derisive parenting can cause significant harm.

Derisive parents use criticism, sarcasm, put-downs and hostility when dealing with their children, and they rely on emotional and physical coercion to get their children to do what they want, the researchers explained.

They found that teens who are subjected to derisive parenting can develop dysregulated anger, often a sign of difficulty controlling emotions. This type of anger presents itself in negative emotions, hostility, and verbal and physical aggression.

Dysregulated anger puts teens at greater risk for bullying and for becoming bully-victims (bullies who also are victimized by other bullies), the study said.

Previous research found that bully-victims are at high risk for poor mental health, behavioral problems and suicidal thoughts, according to the study authors.

“Implications from our study are far-reaching: Practitioners and parents should be informed of the potential long-term costs of sometimes seemingly harmless parenting behaviors such as belittlement and sarcasm,” said study senior author Daniel Dickson, from the department of psychology at Concordia University in Montreal.

“Parents must be reminded of their influence on adolescents’ emotions and should take steps to ensure that adolescents do not feel ridiculed at home,” Dickson said.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

More information

For more on bullying, go to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: July 2019

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Polish sextuplets surprise parents and doctors expecting five

A nurse checks an incubator at the University Hospital in Krakow, Poland, 21 May 2019. Polish woman gave birth to four baby girls and two boys on Monday, the first sextuplets to be born in Poland. Agencja Gazeta/Adrianna Bochenek/via REUTERS

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s first sextuplets on record, two boys and four girls, were born in the southern city of Krakow on Monday to the surprise of parents and doctors who had expected five babies.

“Imagine this: we were prepared from early in the morning to help deliver five tiny citizens. So we are in the operating room, there are five teams of doctors ready to take care of five children”, Ryszard Lauterbach, head of Clinical Neonatology at the University Hospital in Krakow said.

“They are being delivered one after another until all five places were occupied. And then all of a sudden it turns out there’s another one waiting in there.”

He said the children, born at 29 weeks, were in “surprisingly good condition” for sextuplets, but they showed symptoms of immaturity of the respiratory system and the central nervous system that were typical for premature babies.

Doctors said they hoped the babies would be able to go home when they were between 2-1/2 to three months old.

“We have already made some preparation at home with five children in mind so now we’ll have to rearrange things a bit,” said the children’s mother Klaudia Marzec.

She said the babies would be named Filip, Tymon, Zofia, Kaja, Nela and Malwina.

Their father, Szymon Marzec, told a news conference at the hospital on Tuesday that he would soon introduce their first son Oliwier, a toddler, to his new siblings.

Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Edmund Blair

Reuters: Oddly Enough

California Parents Are Getting Around Vaccine Law, Fueling Measles Outbreaks