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Allergy Triggers in Classrooms and Playgrounds

allergyThe American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology,ACAAI, reported that common allergy triggers in classrooms and playgrounds spur 14 million school absences a year in U.S.

“Children with allergies and asthma should be able to feel good, be active and not miss any classes or activities this school year due to their condition,” allergist Dr. James Sublett, chair of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee, said in a college news release. “Helping  children understand what triggers their allergy symptoms can keep them focused on their studies and not their allergies.”

The ACAAI advises that there are ways children can stay away from allergy triggers so they can feel their best, including:

  • Avoid chalk dust. Children with asthma or an other allergy should wash their hands after handling chalk and not sit too close to the chalkboard.
  • Steer clear of bees and wasps. Children should not disturb bees or other insects when they are outside. They should also avoid wearing brightly colored clothing on the playground. Parents of children with an insect allergy should consider talking to an allergist about venom immunotherapy, which can be 97 percent effective in preventing future reactions to insect bites.
  • Pack lunch. Children with a food allergy, or food allergies should bring their lunch to school and avoid sharing food, napkins or utensils with their friends. Teachers, coaches and the school nurse should also be informed about each student’s food allergy. In extreme cases, a food allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. Parents could also suggest that school adopt an allergen-free snack policy.
  • Be aware of breathing troubles after physical activity. Children who experience trouble breathing during or after gym class, recess or other physical activities at school could have exercise-induced broncho-constriction or asthma. These children need to be seen by an allergist who can diagnose and treat their conditions.
  • Don’t cuddle classroom pets. Children with allergies should avoid pets with fur and not be seated next to children who have furry pets at home. Parents can also request that teachers choose a hairless classroom pet, such as a fish or a frog.

Experts recommended that parents of children with allergy symptoms or asthma make an appointment with a board-certified allergist to develop a treatment plan.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about students’ health in school.

(SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, July 19, 2012)

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Kids with Knee Injuries Need Special Care

According to a study that appears in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, youngsters who injure the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee require special treatment and care to prevent future knee injuries and complications such as osteoarthritis.

kneeThe ACL is the main, stabilizing ligament of the knee joint. ACL injuries were once rare in children and young teens but are on the rise due to factors such as year-round training, less free play, and a focus on only one type of sport, say the researchers

They analyzed published studies to identify the best ways to treat ACL knee injuries in children and adolescents whose bones have not yet fully matured, which typically occurs in girls by age 14 and in boys by age 16.

Researchers found that youngsters with an ACL injury should be treated by an orthopedic surgeon who has expertise in surgical treatment of this type of injury. Their other recommendations included:

  • Nonsurgical treatment — including limits on physical activity and bracing and/or physical therapy — should be considered for patients with partial ACL tears that involve less than 50 percent of the diameter of the ligament
  • Management after surgery may include weight-bearing and physical activity restrictions, physical therapy, knee strength-training exercises and a gradual, careful return to sports.

The study author, Dr. Jeremy Frank, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., stated in a news release that complications from ACL knee surgery are rare in youngsters when the appropriate operation is performed on the right patient.

 

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Parents Underestimate the Calories in Fast Food Meals

At a recent meeting of the Obesity Society Jason Block, MD, of Harvard Medical School and fellow researchers reported that parents often underestimate the calories their school-age kids are consuming when they eat large meals at fast food restaurants.

caloriesAccording to the study, the average meal purchased  in four New England cities contained 733 calories, and 21% contained more than 1,000 calories, But the parents estimated an average of only 562 calories per meal, with 72% underestimating the actual content. “There was an association between larger meals and larger underestimations, which may hold some promise for menu labeling,” Dr. Block said. He noted that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that restaurants with 20 or more locations nationwide post calorie information on their menus.

The researchers found that only 15% of parents saw nutritional information in the restaurants and fewer still (4%) used that information when ordering. “So they may not use it even if it’s more accessible,” Block stated.

Last year at the society’s annual meeting, Dr Block reported that 80% of adolescents in Boston, Springfield, Mass., Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn., underestimated the amount of calories their fast food meals contained and 86% did not notice any nutritional information in the restaurants.

In the current study, Block and his colleagues visited 10 restaurants in each of the four cities… three McDonald’s, three Burger King, two Subway, one KFC, and one Wendy’s. Each restaurant was visited six times at dinnertime.

Those participating in the study included parents or legal guardians of children and teens, ages 3 to 15 (mean age 7.9). The analysis included 330 families, representing 45% of those who were approached.

Most of the children (57%) were overweight or obese. The sample was ethnically diverse — 33% black, 30% Hispanic, 19% white, 3% Asian, and 15% other or multiracial.

The researchers collected receipts when the parents left the restaurants and administered a short survey about the calorie content of the meal and awareness and use of the nutritional information. The actual calorie content of the meals was calculated using the receipts and information on the restaurants’ websites.

Many of the parents purchased large meals for their children and most underestimated the calorie content. Nearly one-quarter (24%) underestimated the calorie count by at least 500.

Those who underestimated the daily requirement tended to also underestimate the calories in a meal, a finding that “supports an anchoring statement on menus,” Block said. The federal regulations require that, in addition to calorie information, menus must include an anchoring statement describing the typical daily calorie requirement.

The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Seed Grant.

Source: The Obesity Society

 

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Watch Those Button Batteries

batteriesCoin-sized batteries are the reason for seeing double the children’s emergency room visits during the past twenty years.

In a study that is online and in the June issue of Pediatrics, researchers document serious complications, including deaths, occurring when children swallow “button batteries,” found in items ranging from remote-control devices to children’s toys.

The researchers looked at U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data concerning all battery-related visits to the ER among children up to age 18.

Four different types of accidental contact with button batteries were found: swallowing and insertion of a battery into the mouth, ear, or nose.

Researchers found that over the 20-year period such contacts translated into nearly 66,000 ER visits, with a dramatic increase over the final eight years. Button batteries accounted for 2,785 ER visits by kids younger than 18 in 2009, up from 1,301 in 1990.

Toddlers and others 5 years and younger faced the highest risk for accidental button-battery contact, with the average age of incoming ER patients just below 4 years.

Boys accounted for more of the ER visits (about 60 percent). Most cases (nearly 77 percent) were the result of swallowing batteries. Nose contact accounted for roughly 10 percent of cases, followed by mouth exposure (7.5 percent) and ear insertion (almost 6 percent).

The study report carries a message for parents stating that if they suspect that their child has swallowed a battery they need to get to the ER right away. To prevent such accidents, parents need to store and dispose of batteries while keeping them out of reach of their children. They need to tape all battery compartments shut.

The study report also carries a message for manufacturers stating that we need to have the industry make battery compartments inaccessible and child-resistant for all products, not just toys.

The study report concludes by advising parents to heed the general advice regarding choking, especially for those 5 years and younger. Children should never be within reach of any object that can fit through a choke tube, which is about the size of a cardboard tube of a toilet-paper roll. This is particularly the case with objects not normally considered dangerous, such as children’s toys that have batteries and other small parts, and various objects found in the kitchen or bathroom.

(SOURCES: June 2012 Pediatrics)

 

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Child Obesity: A Growing Problem

The following article, on the growing problem of childhood obesity, is a reprint of a article written by Staci Marks, a researcher and writer.

The article was published on May 2nd on

http://www.healthinsurancequotes.org/child-obesity-a-growing-problem/

obesityWhen you were growing up did you ever worry about what you were eating or about your physical appearance? Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States and more families are having to worry about the health of their children. It is now estimated that one in three children in the U.S. is either overweight or obese. This growing issue can be attributed to many factors. By understanding the issues we can help our children learn the benefits of proper nutrition and exercise.

Effect of Socioeconomic Status

Times have been hard for millions of Americans. Some people have to take any job that they can get or work multiple jobs to make ends meet. These hardships can enforce bad habits in how the family operates and how they look at a meal.

Though research has suggested that obesity rates may be going down, it appears that there is a measurable gap in rates of obesity in different socioeconomic statuses. It can often be hard for families to put food on the table consistently. Due to this reasoning there may be parents wanting their kids to eat as much as they can when there is guaranteed food if they do not know where the next meal will come from.

Also, since obesity causes health issues, we are seeing higher economic classes lower their rates. This can be attributed to the fact that they are paying for their personal insurance and do not want to deal with the rising rates unlike someone who might receive government help for health care. If there is not a way that we correct this problem, then we may see that obesity will continue widening the socioeconomic gap.

Does TV Play a Role?

The obvious answer is yes, but it is important to understand how TV plays a role in obesity. One of the most important ways that it affects children is through advertising. Recently researchers have looked at how many fast food restaurants and meals individuals could correctly guess when they removed the restaurant image. It was proven that the overweight and obese samples were able to correctly identify the food more consistently versus those individuals who were not.

Another way that TV affects obesity is that parents often have to rely on TV to entertain their children if they are busy working. Due to this, children are now spending more time in front of the TV rather than playing outside or doing other physical activities.

Is the Government Helping or Hurting?

As Americans we should expect that our representatives will battle for the issues that matter to us.

Since obesity is a problem that is affecting our children, we should count on parents to make smarter decisions for their children, and for the government to regulate the foods that are available to our children.

Think about school lunches for example, we want them to be as nutritious as possible. The problem with that is that the government provides meals for many students for free. Since this costs them lots of money they have unfortunately looked at alternative methods.

One current controversial move was the purchase of more than 7 million pounds of ammonia-treated meat for their meals. This meat, now referred to as “pink slime,” has been rejected by several fast food giants but was somehow deemed okay by the government.The decision was defended by the USDA, which swears that the food was safe. Talk about timing, the decision to buy the meat was announced after the government demanded new regulations on school lunches. They are now calling for more whole grains, produce, and less sodium and fat. The health fight seems to be on everyone’s mind in Washington.

First Lady Michelle Obama has pushed a child obesity campaign that will include better nutrition and daily exercise for our children. She also teamed up with The Biggest Loser to promote a healthier lifestyle.

Unfortunately, it seems that money is still the determining factor in Washington. Food and beverage companies continue to beat out government proposals.

  1. Secret Sabotage: Congress recently rejected a plan that would lower sugar, salt, and fat in the food that was marketed towards children.
  2. School Lunch Nutrition: In addition to buying pink slime, Congress recently declared pizza a vegetable so that it could continue to stay in the school lunch programs
  3. Lucky Streak?: Interestingly enough, the food and beverage industry has a near-perfect record when it comes to battling the health authorities and government
  4. Defeat: More than 24 states and five cities have tried to established a “soda tax.” Every time it was either dropped or defeated.

It is time that we stop making excuses for this growing obesity problem and think about our kids. As parents we should want the best for them and their well-being. The health tips that we teach them now are going to shape how they function for the rest of their lives. If we teach them the importance of a healthy lifestyle then we will all benefit in the end.


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