Posts belonging to Category childhood diseases



Another Reason for Kids Eating Less Fast Foods

caloriesWe know that a diet high in fast foods tend to put weight on children and teens, but did you know that fast food consumption is also tied to an increased risk of certain health conditions?

A study coming out of New Zealand found that:

  • Children and teens eating fast foods a number of times each week are at an increased risk for severe asthma, rhino-conjunctivitis, and eczema.
  • Fruit eaten three or more times a week provide children and teens with a protective effect against severe asthma.

According to Philippa Ellwood, DDN, DPH, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and her colleagues, eating fast foods three or more times a week is associated with a 39% increased risk of severe asthma and a 70% increased risk of severe eczema among teens.In addition, children who eat fast foods with the same frequency have an increased risk of rhino-conjunctivitis and severe eczema.

The study article, published in journal Thorax, went on to report that reducing consumption of fast foods to two times a week, or less, reduced the incidence of wheezing and severe asthma in children. Ellwood and colleagues also found that eating fruit three or more times a week, among children and teens, offered a protective effect against severe asthma.

The authors stated,  “If the associations found in this study are causal, the findings have major public health significance owing to the rising consumption of fast foods globally,”

The authors noted that earlier research had found diets with high intake of cereal, rice, and nut and cereal protein showed decreased prevalence of the allergic conditions and a protective effect against the conditions with elevated fruit consumption. Similarly, other research has shown a harmful effect of linolenic acid and trans fatty acid consumption.

The researchers gathered symptom prevalence data on types of food intake and symptom prevalence of asthma, rhino-conjunctivitis, wheezing, and eczema from 319,196 teens, ages 13 and 14, from 51 countries, and 181,631 children, ages 6 and 7, from 31 countries through the third phase of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). The latter is a multi-center, multi-country, multiphase cross-sectional study.

Teen participants, or parents of young children, were administered questionnaires that looked at symptoms and symptom frequency over the 12 months prior to the study. Questions about food intake looked at types of foods and whether foods were eaten once, twice, or three or more times weekly.

Milk consumption was inversely associated with current wheeze at once or twice weekly, severe asthma three or more times weekly, and severe rhino-conjunctivitis and severe eczema once or twice a week in teens.

Consumptions of eggs, fruit, meat, and milk three or more times a week protected against “all three conditions, current or severe” among children.

“The positive associations with severe disease suggest that fast foods are a predictor of disease severity rather than disease occurrence, although it is difficult to separate out the two in this study,” researchers concluded.

Study researchers also shared that the protective association between fruit and vegetables and the three conditions need to  be further explored at country and regional levels.

The researchers found the study was limited by a number of factors, including self-report biases or classification errors, socioeconomic status’ effect on food consumption, and missing temporal data on disease outcome relative to diet.

 

More Families are Seeking out Family Practitioners

More and more families are choosing to have a family practitioner as their family health care provider.

familyWho are family practitioners? They are doctors who, following medical school, complete a three-year residency where they are trained to care for  patient populations that range from infants to the elderly in a variety of different medical areas. For instance, family practitioners are trained in bone and joint care; ear, nose and throat care; chronic conditions; emergency care and minor surgeries; behavioral and mental health; and eye care.

One of the primary responsibilities of family practitioners is to maintain their patients’ overall health. They often see their patients over the course of many years, unlike emergency doctors or surgeons who treat individuals for short periods of time. Because of this, general practitioners can build a lasting relationship with their patients and have a better understanding of their medical needs.

According to familydoctor.org, primary care physicians lower health care costs and death rates among their patients who regularly see them for preventive care and illnesses. Family practitioners, for example, can provide their patients with personal treatment plans and determine disease risk factors according to their medical histories. Also, for many individuals, family doctors are the first point of contact when they are ill. So family doctors can assess and treat most illness like respiratory infections, accidents like broken bones or diseases like asthma.

Family practitioners’ work environment can vary according to their geographic location and the size of the office. For example, family practice doctors can work in small and large cities or practice in rural areas. If they practice in the latter location, they might be the only family practitioner to treat all of the residents in a particular area. Also, family doctors can own their own practices, work at a large practice, in clinics or for government agencies.

Although family practitioners are trained to treat a broad range of medical problems, there are situations and conditions that they will not be able to treat. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the family practitioner to refer the patient to a specialist who can address the specific problem or condition.

 

Pertussis is on the Rise in the U.S.

pertussisPertussis (Whooping Cough) is a serious and highly contagious disease. It is on the rise again in the U.S. The following message,about Pertussis, is from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Pertussis Vaccine Protection

There is high pertussis vaccine coverage for children nationwide. However, protection from the childhood vaccine decreases over time. Preteens, teens and adults need to be re-vaccinated, even if they were completely vaccinated as children.

Also, pertussis vaccines are very effective but not 100% effective [PDF - 140KB]. If pertussis is circulating in the community, there is still a chance that a fully vaccinated person can catch this very contagious disease. When you or your child develops a cold that includes a prolonged or severe cough, it may be pertussis. The best way to know is to contact your doctor.

Pertussis Symptoms

Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. But after 1–2 weeks, severe coughing can begin.

Unlike the common cold, pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. In infants, the cough can be minimal or not even there.

Pregnant? Protect Yourself & Your Baby from Pertussis

When the source of whooping cough was identified, mothers were responsible for 30-40% of infant infections.

If you have not been previously vaccinated with Tdap (the whooping cough booster shot), talk with your doctor about getting one dose of Tdap, preferably during the third trimester or late second trimester. Learn more about vaccine protection for pertussis.

Infants may have a symptom known as “apnea.” Apnea is a pause in the child’s breathing pattern. If your baby is having trouble breathing, take him to a hospital or doctor right away.

Disease Complications

Pertussis is most severe for babies; more than half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized. About 1 in 4 infants with pertussis get pneumonia (lung infection), and about two thirds will have slowed or stopped breathing. Pertussis can be deadly for 1 or 2 infants per 100 who are hospitalized. Learn how pertussis can be treated.

How Pertussis Spreads

People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by parents, older siblings, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Pertussis Trends

Reported cases of pertussis vary from year to year and tend to peak every 3-5 years. In 2010, 27,550 cases of pertussis were reported in the U.S.—and many more cases go unreported. Twenty-seven deaths were reported – 25 of these deaths were in children younger than 1 year old.

Preventing Pertussis

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated. Parents can also help protect infants by keeping them away as much as possible from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing.

Vaccine Recommendations

For Infants and Children: In the US, the recommended pertussis vaccine for children is called DTaP. This is a safe and effective combination vaccine that protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

For maximum protection against pertussis, children need five DTaP shots. The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The fourth shot is given at 15 through 18 months of age, and a fifth shot is given when a child enters school, at 4 through 6 years of age. If a 7-10 year old is not up-to-date with DTaP vaccines, a dose of Tdap should be given before the 11-12 year old check up.

For Preteens and Teens: Vaccine protection for pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria can decrease with time. Preteens going to the doctor for their regular check-up at age 11 or 12 years should get a booster vaccine, called Tdap. Teens and young adults who didn’t get a booster of Tdap as a preteen should get one dose when they visit their health care provider.

For Pregnant Women: Pregnant women who have not been previously vaccinated with Tdap should get one dose of Tdap during the third trimester or late second trimester – or immediately postpartum, before leaving the hospital or birthing center. By getting Tdap during pregnancy, maternal pertussis antibodies transfer to the newborn, likely providing protection against pertussis in early life, before the baby starts getting DTaP vaccines. Tdap will also protect the mother at time of delivery, making her less likely to transmit pertussis to her infant.

For Adults: Adults 19 years of age and older who didn’t get Tdap as a preteen or teen should get one dose of Tdap. Getting vaccinated with Tdap at least two weeks before coming into close contact with an infant is especially important for families with and caregivers of new infants.

The easiest thing for adults to do is to get Tdap instead of their next regular tetanus booster—the Td shot that is recommended for adults every 10 years. The dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark, so it’s a good idea for adults to talk to a health care provider about what’s best for their specific situation.

Bringing Germs Home From School

The following guest post is by Staci Marks, an earlier contributor to this site. Ms. Marks has a passion for health, fitness and exercise, which has led her to pursue a career in writing. She works as a part-time health-care writer at www.healthinsurancequotes.org/articles/

germs

As a habitat for germs, a school is not that different from any other location on our germ-filled planet.

Bacteria and viruses are always with us, and we literally couldn’t live without them. In fact, there are 10 times as many microbes in a healthy human body as there are actual human cells, and many of those microbes play critical roles in our survival.

Of course, not all germs are benevolent and schools, though they may be no more crowded with germs than offices or homes, are excellent environments for the transmission of all sorts of germs from person to person.

Children are particularly good at passing germs among themselves. They share paper and scissors in the classroom. They might share a drink at lunch. At recess, they do a lot of touching. To make matters worse, they are not very good at keeping themselves clean, and, even if they could be counted on to wash, they don’t always have easy access to soap and water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control,  the primary means of transmission is by sneezing and coughing, when infected droplets spread through the air and reach the noses and mouths of people nearby. Those droplets can also reach other surfaces, and infection can be spread to someone who touches an infected surface and then touches his eyes, nose or mouth. According to the CDC, some of those infectious agents can live for two hours or more after they land.

It follows, then, that avoiding germs at school depends on the behavior of people in two different situations.

On one hand, there are the children who are already ill, including those who have not yet begun to develop a full range of symptoms. The CDC recommends that those children cover their coughs and sneezes, preferably with a tissue, and wash their hands after every cough or sneeze. If tissues are not available, coughing or sneezing into the crook of the elbow is a better option than using the hands.

No one can guaranty that those practices will always be followed, so children who are in the vicinity of sneezing classmates may have to take some of their own precautions. For them, the two most important steps are washing hands frequently and trying not to touch their own eyes, noses and mouths after they have touched a potentially infected surface.

When children remember to use them, soap and water are effective against germs, but a quick rinse is not enough. It is important to spend enough time washing.  Many authorities recommend the “Happy Birthday” method: Wash your hands for the amount of time it takes to sing the one song all kids know, “Happy Birthday to You,” two times from beginning to end.

When children do not have the option of soap and water, gel and alcohol-based sanitizers kill germs just as well.

School bathrooms have more than their share of germs, but at least they are equipped with sinks that kids can use. Even so, children should learn to avoid touching surfaces like doorknobs and taps when possible, and to use a paper towel when touch is unavoidable.

In the end, there is no magic bullet.

Germs are everywhere, but children can take some simple steps to minimize, if not eliminate, the chance of coming down with a miserable cold or flu.

Sources:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=human-microbiome-change

www.cdc.gov/germstopper/materials/home_work_school.pdf”

www.webmd.com/parenting/d2n-stopping-germs-12/germs-at-school?

 

What Do You Know About Asthma?

asthmaMay is Asthma Awareness Month. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebeliusa issued a statement asking us to consider what we can do better, as individuals and as a nation, in managing one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases.

In her statement she reports:

  • More than 25 million Americans have asthma, including 7 million children.
  •  Children with asthma missed more than 10 million days total of school in 2008.
  • Medical expenses associated with asthma are estimated at $50 billion annually.
  • It is critical to take the necessary steps to reduce asthma attacks.
  • Successful asthma management includes: knowing the warning signs of an attack, avoiding things that may trigger an episode and following the advice of your health care provider.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is working to raise awareness about asthma and to provide tools to help families and communities get the information they need:

  • Having access to high-quality affordable health care is a must for asthma suffers.
  • As a result of the Affordable Care Act, the 7 million children who have asthma cannot be denied health coverage now by insurance companies on the basis of a pre-existing condition. In 2014, that fundamental protection will be afforded to adults with asthma as well.
  • We know that African-American children visit emergency departments for asthma care more often than Caucasian children, and that Latino children are less likely to see a doctor for routine office visits than non-Latino Caucasian children. While we’ve made progress in reducing disparities over the years, more needs to be done. That is why the health care law and Recovery Act investments are expanding the capacity of community health centers to care for the most vulnerable Americans regardless of their ability to pay.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with communities and schools to develop the tools they need to make their environments healthier for children with asthma.  Three Louisiana school districts, for example, have adopted indoor and outdoor air policies, such as requiring school buses to turn off their engines while idling. Rhode Island families have gotten help in learning how to manage their children’s asthma from the new Home Asthma Response Program, which identified potential participants during asthma-related emergency room visits.
  • The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program–coordinated by the National Institutes of Health–promotes improved asthma care and control through a focused outreach effort centered on written asthma action plans.  These plans are a recommended but underutilized tool for managing asthma long-term and handling symptoms. These efforts include coordination with other federal agencies and key stakeholders and activities to promote resources and educational materials.

Secretary Sebeliusa concludes her statement by asking that we all learn what each of us and our communities can do to reduce the physical, social, and financial costs of asthma.

For more information, see http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/ and http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/naepp.