This blog is a place where parents and teachers of children 3-7 years of age can find information about topics specific to children in this age group, share ideas and access free resources for home and the classroom.

Stuttering

stutteringAccording to the Stuttering Foundation (www.stuttersfa.org) more than 68 million people worldwide stutter, which is about 1% of the population.

In the United States, that’s over 3 million Americans who stutter.  Four times as many males as females have a problem with stuttering.

Most people who saw The King’s Speech were touched by the life-long impact that stuttering had on King George the 6th of Britain.This movie continues to create a renewed public interest in the causes and latest treatments for stuttering.

The Stuttering Foundation describes stuttering as “A communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak. Stuttering is also referred to as stammering.”

Contrary to the commonly held belief that stuttering is caused by trauma, or emotional problems,  the Stuttering Foundation identifies four causes for stuttering. They are: genetics (approximately 60% of those who stutter have a family member who does also); child development (children with other speech and language problems or developmental delays are more likely to stutter); neurophysiology (recent neurological research has shown that people who stutter process speech and language slightly differently than those who do not stutter); and family dynamics (high expectations and fast-paced lifestyles can contribute to stuttering). Stuttering may occur when a combination of factors come together and may have different causes in different people. It is probable that what causes stuttering differs from what makes it continue or get worse.

About 5 percent of all children go through a period of stuttering that lasts six months or more. Three-quarters of whom will recover by late childhood, leaving about 1% with a long-term problem. The best prevention tool is early intervention.

We all know that stuttering can cause a child to become self-conscious about speaking. It can also make him or her the brunt of jokes and ridicule from insensitive children in school or when out playing.  It is best to seek ways to  help as soon as possible. (check out If You Think Your Child is Stuttering for ways to help immediately) If the stuttering persists beyond three to six months or is particularly severe, it may be time to seek help from a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering . (check out speech-language pathologists for listings by state or country.)

There are a variety of successful approaches for treating both children and adults (check out Why Speech Therapy? for some guidelines).

While there are no instant miracle cures for stuttering, a specialist in stuttering can help not only children but also teenagers, young adults, and even older adults improve their speech.

Before You Try a Weight Loss Supplement…

weightMany of us have vowed to lose weight in 2015. We all would like to find a quick fix, an easier path than dieting and exercising. We may be tempted to try one of those miracle weight loss supplements or foods. Before you do, please read what the FDA has to say about weight loss products.

Many so-called “miracle” weight loss supplements and foods (including teas and coffees) don’t live up to their claims. Worse, they can cause serious harm, say FDA regulators. The agency has found hundreds of products that are marketed as dietary supplements but actually contain hidden active ingredients (components that make a medicine effective against a specific illness) contained in prescription drugs, unsafe ingredients that were in drugs that have been removed from the market, or compounds that have not been adequately studied in humans.

“When the product contains a drug or other ingredient which is not listed as an ingredient we become especially concerned about the safety of the product,” says James P. Smith, M.D., an acting deputy director in FDA’s Office of Drug Evaluation.

Tainted Products

For example, FDA has found weight loss products tainted with the prescription drug ingredient sibutramine. This ingredient was in an FDA-approved drug called Meridia, which was removed from the market in October 2010 because it caused heart problems and strokes.

“We’ve also found weight-loss products marketed as supplements that contain dangerous concoctions of hidden ingredients including active ingredients contained in approved seizure medications, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants,” says Jason Humbert, a senior regulatory manager at FDA. Most recently, FDA has found a number of products marketed as dietary supplements containing fluoxetine, the active ingredient found in Prozac, a prescription drug marketed for the treatment of depression and other conditions. Another product contained triamterene, a powerful diuretic (sometimes known as “water pills”) that can have serious side-effects and should only be used under the supervision of a health care professional.

Many of these tainted products are imported, sold online, and heavily promoted on social media sites. Some can also be found on store shelves.

And if you’re about to take what you think of as “natural” dietary supplements, such as bee pollen or Garcinia cambogia, you should be aware that FDA has found some of these products also contain hidden active ingredients contained in prescription drugs.

“The only natural way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in,” says James P. Smith, M.D. That means a combination of healthful eating and physical activity.

Dietary Supplements are not FDA-Approved

Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (as amended by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994), dietary supplement firms do not need FDA approval prior to marketing their products. It is the company’s responsibility to make sure its products are safe and that any claims made about such products are true.

But just because you see a supplement product on a store shelf does not mean it is safe, Humbert says. FDA has received numerous reports of harm associated with the use of weight loss products, including increased blood pressure, heart palpitations (a pounding or racing heart), stroke, seizure and death. When safety issues are suspected, FDA must investigate and, when warranted, take steps to have these products removed from the market.

FDA has issued over 30 public notifications and recalled 7 tainted weight loss products in 2014. The agency also has issued warning letters, seized products, and criminally prosecuted people responsible for marketing these illegal diet products. In addition, FDA maintains an online list of tainted weight-loss products.

To help people with long-term weight management, FDA has approved prescription drugs such as Belviq, Qysmia, and Contrave, but these products are intended for people at least 18 years of age who:

  • have a body mass index (BMI, a standard measure of body fat) of 30 or greater (considered obese); or
  • have a BMI of 27 or greater (considered overweight) and have at least one other weight-related health condition.

Moreover, if you are going to embark on any type of weight control campaign, you should talk to your health care professional about it first, Welch says.

Know the Warning Signs

Look for potential warning signs of tainted products, such as:

  • promises of a quick fix, for example, “lose 10 pounds in one week.”
  • use of the words “guaranteed” or “scientific breakthrough.”
  • products marketed in a foreign language.
  • products marketed through mass e-mails.
  • products marketed as herbal alternatives to an FDA-approved drug or as having effects similar to prescription drugs.

Advice for Consumers

Generally, if you are using or considering using any product marketed as a dietary supplement, FDA suggests that you:

  • check with your health care professional or a registered dietitian about any nutrients you may need in addition to your regular diet.
  • ask yourself if it sounds too good to be true.
  • be cautious if the claims for the product seem exaggerated or unrealistic.
  • watch out for extreme claims such as “quick and effective” or “totally safe.”
  • be skeptical about anecdotal information from personal “testimonials” about incredible benefits or results from using a product.

If you suspect a product marketed as a dietary supplement sold online may be tainted, FDA urges you to report that information online. You or your health care professional can also report an illness or injury you believe to be related to the use of a dietary supplement by calling 1-800-FDA-1088 or visiting FDA online.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Updated January 5, 2015

 

Eating Healthy in 2015…Recipe#1

For those of us who resolved to eat healthier in 2015, here is a recipe that looks interesting, tastes good, is inexpensive to make, doesn’t take much time to prepare and is good for you.

The recipe is courtesy of What’s  Cooking, a program of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Eggs over Kale and Sweet Potato Grits

recipe

A modern twist on a Southern classic, this recipe for a baked breakfast dish features eggs and grits with sweet potatoes and kale.

Cook time: 45 minutes                                  Makes: 4 Servings

 Ingredients

1 large sweet potato (orange flesh)
2 cups fresh kale (chopped)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (divided)
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup non-fat milk
3/4 cup grits (quick cooking)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs

   Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.

2. Coat 4 individual soufflé dishes with 1 tsp vegetable oil.

3. Make 3-4 slits in sweet potatoes; cook in microwave until just soft.

4. When sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel, cut into chunks, and puree in food processor.

5. Heat remaining vegetable oil in sauce pan, and sauté kale about 5 minutes.

6. In a medium sauce pan, boil water and milk, add grits and sweet potatoes; cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sauteéd kale.

7. Divide grits mixture evenly among 4 soufflé dishes (or place all in casserole dish).

8. Make 4 depressions in the grits mixture with the back of a large spoon. Carefully break one egg into each hollow.

9. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until eggs are cooked. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Healthy New Year’s Resolutions for Kids

 Adults are not the only ones who can make New Year’s resolutions. Children can be helped to understand the meaning of resolutions, and how and why we make them.

The following New Year tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They are offered to help parents encourage their children to make healthy resolutions.

resolutionsResolutions for Preschoolers

  • I will clean up my toys and put them where they belong.
  • I will brush my teeth twice a day, and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.
  • I won’t tease dogs or other pets – even friendly ones. I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from their mouths.
  • I will talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I need help, or am scared.
  • I will be nice to other kids who need a friend or look sad or lonely.

Resolutions for Kids, 5 to 12 years old

  • I will drink reduced-fat milk and water every day, and drink soda and fruit drinks only at special times.
  • I will put on sunscreen before I go outdoors on bright, sunny days. I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.
  • I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing or riding my bike) that I like and do it at least three times a week!
  • I will always wear a helmet when riding a bike.
  • I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car. I’ll sit in the back seat and use a booster seat until I am tall enough to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
  • I’ll be friendly to kids who may have a hard time making friends by asking them to join activities such as sports or games.
  • I will never encourage or even watch bullying, and will join with others in telling bullies to stop.
  • I’ll never give out private information such as my name, home address, school name or telephone number on the Internet. Also, I’ll never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without asking my parent if it is okay.
  • I will try to talk with my parent or a trusted adult when I have a problem or feel stressed.
  • I promise to follow our household rules for video games and internet use.

Resolutions for Kids, 13 years old and older

  • I will try to eat two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables every day, and I will drink sodas only at special times.
  • I will take care of my body through physical activity and eating the right types and amounts of foods.
  • I will choose non-violent television shows and video games, and I will spend only one to two hours each day – at the most – on these activities.  I promise to follow our household rules for videogames and internet use.
  • I will help out in my community – through giving some of my time to help others, working with community groups or by joining a group that helps people in need.
  • When I feel angry or stressed out, I will take a break and find helpful ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or talking about my problem with a parent or friend.
  • When faced with a difficult decision, I will talk about my choices with an adult whom I can trust.
  • When I notice my friends are struggling, being bullied or making risky choices, I will talk with a trusted adult and attempt to find a way that I can help them.
  • I will be careful about whom I choose to date, and always treat the other person with respect and without forcing them to do something or using violence. I will expect to be treated the same way in return.
  • I will resist peer pressure to try tobacco-cigarettes, drugs or alcohol.
  • I agree not to use a cellphone or text message while driving and to always use a seat belt.

 

Children and Holiday Vacation

After Christmas comes holiday vacation time, a time for outdoor fun activities for children.

children outdoorsThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following tips for keeping children safe while outdoors in the winter.

What to Wear

Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don’t forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat. The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.

When participating in activities such as ice skating, sledding, snow skiing and snowboarding, consider having your child wear a helmet.

Sun Protection

The sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow. Make sure to cover your child’s exposed skin with sunscreen.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to colder temperatures. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults.

As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases. If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.

Frostbite

Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb.

If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips. Do not rub the frozen areas. After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink.

If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.

Frostbite facts from Rhode Island Hospital’s Burn Center.

Supervision

Children should be supervised while participating in all winter outdoor activities. Older children’s need for adult supervision depends on their maturity and skill. If older children are not with an adult, they should always at least be accompanied by a friend. Never let your child sled, skate, ski or snowboard alone.

Ice Skating

Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces. Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved. Advise your child to:

  • Skate in the same direction as the crowd.
  • Avoid darting across the ice.
  • Never skate alone.
  • Not chew gum or eat candy while skating.

Sledding

  • Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.
  • Keep young children separated from older children.
  • Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
  • Use steerable sleds, not snow disks or inner tubes.
  • Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.
  • Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees or fences, be covered in snow not ice, not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.
  • Avoid sledding in crowded areas.

 Snow Skiing and Snowboarding

  • Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children.
  • Equipment should fit the child. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year. Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards. Eye protection or goggles should also be used.
  • Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder.
  • Avoid crowded slopes. Avoid skiing in areas with trees and other obstacles.

 Snowmobiling

  • The AAP recommends that children under age 16 not operate snowmobiles and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.

  • Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
  • Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles.
  • Travel at safe speeds.
  • Never use alcohol or other drugs before or during snowmobiling.
  • Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.