Is Your Child Consuming Too Much Sodium


 The September 2014 edition of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Vital Signs focuses on the amount of sodium in children’s diets.

Reducing Sodium in Children’s Diets

Nearly 9 in 10 US children eat more sodium than recommended, and about 1 in 6 children has raised blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Lowering sodium in children’s diets today can help prevent heart disease tomorrow. Small changes make a big impact on your child’s daily sodium intake. Learn more in the current CDC Vital Signs.

Sources of Sodium

Americans get most of their daily sodium—more than 75%—from processed and restaurant foods.2 What is processed food?

Sodium is already in processed and restaurant foods when you purchase them, which makes it difficult to reduce daily sodium intake on your own. Although it is wise to limit your use of added table salt while cooking and at the table, only a small amount of the sodium we consume each day comes from the salt shaker.

Dietary Guidelines for Sodium and Potassium

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010[PDF-2.9M] recommend that everyone age 2 and up should consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day. Some groups of people should further limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day, including:

  • Adults age 51 or older.
  • All African Americans.
  • Anyone who has high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

Those groups add up to about half of the U.S. population and the majority of adults.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans also recommend meeting the potassium recommendation (4,700 mg per day). Higher potassium intake can help lower blood pressure. Foods that are high in potassium and low in sodium include bananas, potatoes, yogurt, and dry beans, among others. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sodium and Potassium fact sheet[PDF-153K] has more information about the role of potassium in a healthy diet and a list of foods rich in potassium.

Nearly everyone benefits from lower sodium intake. Learn more about sodium in your diet in Where’s the Sodium?, a February 2012 report from CDC Vital Signs.



Turtles as Pets


Here comes summer complete with walks in the woods, camping, and other outdoor activities that can bring children in contact with turtles and other reptiles. The Centers for Disease Control, CDC want you to be aware of the germs that turtles and reptiles may carry that can make people sick.

According to the CDC turtles and other reptiles are risky pets.

Turtles are colorful and cute and are often kept as pets. However, many people don’t know that turtles and other reptiles like snakes and lizards can carry harmful germs that can make people very sick. For this reason, turtles and other reptiles might not be the best pets for your family, particularly if there are young children, 5 years-old and younger, or people with weakened immune systems in your home.

Turtles, and other reptiles, often carry a germ called Salmonella, but appear perfectly healthy and clean. People think these infections are caused only by contaminated food, but these germs can also be caught by touching animals, including reptiles or amphibians, such as frogs. Salmonella infections can also result from having contact with an animal’s habitat, including the water from containers or tanks where they live.

Salmonella germs can make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and sometimes abdominal cramps. This illness is called “salmonellosis.” Some people can become so sick that they need to go to the hospital. In severe illnesses, the Salmonella bacteria may spread to the bloodstream and can lead to death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Young children are at increased risk for Salmonella illness because their immune systems are still developing. They also are more likely to put their fingers or other items that have come into contact with germs into their mouths. So, families with young children should avoid keeping turtles as pets, and turtles should not be allowed in schools or child care facilities with young children.

Since 1975, it has been illegal in the United States to sell or distribute small turtles with shells that measure less than 4 inches in length. This size was chosen because young children are more likely to treat smaller turtles as toys and put them in their mouths. This ban, enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, likely remains the most effective public health action to prevent Salmonella infections associated with turtles.

Since 2006, CDC has received reports of 11 multistate outbreaks, including 6 ongoing outbreaks, and more than 535 cases of laboratory-confirmed Salmonella infections linked to contact with small turtles and their habitats. These illnesses resulted in about 85 hospitalizations and one death. Because many people with salmonellosis do not seek medical care or are not tested, it is estimated that 16 times as many illnesses occurred than were reported.

Tips to reduce the risk of illness from turtles and other reptiles:

1. Don’t buy small turtles from street vendors, websites, pet stores, or other sources.

2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water immediately after touching a reptile or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Adults should always supervise hand washing for young children.

3. Don’t let young children handle or touch reptiles or anything in the area where they live and roam, including water from containers or tanks.

4. Keep reptiles out of homes with young children or people with weakened immune systems.

5. Reptiles should not be kept in child care centers, nursery schools, or other facilities with young children.

6. Don’t touch your mouth after handling reptiles and do not eat or drink around these animals.

7. Don’t let reptiles roam freely throughout the house or in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, pantries, or outdoor patios.

For more information on protecting yourself and your family from illness and to learn more about safely cleaning reptile habitats, please visit


Child Passenger Safety- Buckle Up Every Age, Every Trip

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued this bulletin on child02/05/2014 regarding child passenger safety.

 Motor vehicle crash deaths among children age 12 and younger decreased by 43 percent from 2002-2011; however, still more than 9,000 children died in crashes during that period, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research has shown that using age-and size-appropriate child restraints (car seats, booster seats, and seat belts) is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries in a crash. Yet the report found that almost half of all black (45 percent) and Hispanic (46 percent) children who died in crashes were not buckled up, compared to 26 percent of white children (2009-2010).

CDC analyzed 2002–2011 data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to determine the number and rate of motor-vehicle occupant deaths, and the percentage of child deaths among children age 12 and younger who were not buckled up.

The Vital Signs report also found that:

•  One in three children who died in crashes in 2011 was not buckled up.

•  Only 2 out of every 100 children live in states that require car seat or booster seat use for children age 8 and under.

Child passenger restraint laws result in more children being buckled up. A recent study by Eichelberger et al, showed that among five states that increased the required car seat or booster seat age to 7 or 8 years, car seat and booster seat use tripled, and deaths and serious injuries decreased by 17 percent.

To help keep children safe on the road, parents and caregivers can:

  • Use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts in the back seat—on every trip, no matter how short.
  • Install and use car seats according to the owner’s manual or get help installing them from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.
  • Buckle children age 12 and under in the back seat.

Learn more about the importance of child passenger safety and steps that can be taken to keep children safe on the road.

Visit CDC Vital Signs:


Kids…Flu…Serious Illness


    Let’s get those flu shots! Not just adults, kids too !

MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health reports that even healthy children can die from the flu in as little as three days after they get symptoms. The original research report, which points to the importance of getting kids flu shots, was published online on October 28th in Pediatrics.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that between 2004 and 2012, flu complications killed 830 children in the United States, many of whom were otherwise healthy.

“We found these influenza-related deaths can occur in children with and without medical conditions and in children of all ages, and that very few of these children have been vaccinated,” said lead author Dr. Karen Wong, a CDC medical epidemiologist.

“Parents don’t realize that flu can be fatal,” said Dr. Marcelo Laufer, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Miami Children’s Hospital.

Because flu can progress so quickly, prevention is really the best strategy, Wong said. “And that’s why we recommend every child 6 months or older get vaccinated every year,” she said.

Because an infant under 6 months of age can’t be given flu vaccine, Wong said it is vital that pregnant women get a flu shot to help protect their newborn, and that everyone likely to be near the baby also be vaccinated so they can’t pass flu to the infant.

Wong said children who get the flu need to be watched carefully. She recommends getting in touch with the child’s doctor when symptoms start.

Parents should take their child to the doctor or emergency department if they’re sicker than what one would expect with a common cold, he said.

“Parents should realize that influenza is much more than sniffles,” Laufer added. “A kid with influenza is a kid who is very sick, is a kid who is lethargic, has decreased appetite, is not drinking as much and not urinating as much in addition to other flu symptoms,” he said.

Flu causes an estimated 54,000 to 430,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 to 49,000 deaths each year in the United States, with infection rates highest among children, according to the CDC.

SOURCES: Karen Wong, M.D., M.P.H., medical epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Marcelo Laufer, M.D., pediatric infectious diseases specialist, Miami Children’s Hospital; November 2013, Pediatrics



Researchers Prove Carbon Monoxide Passes Through Walls

carbon monoxideAccording to an article recently published by HealthDay News, which was based on findings from researchers in Seattle, carbon monoxide gas can pass easily through drywall, and poison those living inside a home, apartment or condo. The report is published in the Aug. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.HealthDay reports:

Researchers shared that this finding highlights the need for having carbon monoxide alarms in your home, since even checking your own appliances won’t guarantee that the lethal gas might not seep through your walls from another source.

“What this study tells me is that carbon monoxide does not stay put in a building, that the barriers between apartments or condos will slow down carbon monoxide, but do not stop it,” said Dr. Eric Lavonas, associate director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver. “Therefore, the best way to protect your family is to have a working carbon monoxide alarm in your home,” according to Lavonas, who was not involved with the study.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas found in car exhaust and in fumes from fuel-burning sources such as generators, charcoal grills, gas stoves and wood fireplaces. “Any source of combustion produces carbon monoxide of some degree, no matter how clean-burning your appliances are,” said study author Dr. Neil Hampson, with the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine at the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

Unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning kills between 400 and 500 people per year in the United States. The only form of protection is a carbon monoxide alarm. “Carbon monoxide is undetectable to human senses. You cannot see it, you cannot smell it, and you cannot taste it, so you do not know you’ve been poisoned until you get sick and start getting headaches, vomiting or pass out,” Hampson explained.

Twenty-five states require residences to have these alarms, but 10 of these states now allow exemptions for homes that have no internal sources of carbon monoxide. Many experts are concerned that these exemptions will lead to an increase in accidental poisonings, particularly in multi-family dwellings, where walls between homes are shared.

To prove that carbon monoxide can go through walls, researchers placed varying thicknesses of drywall in a Plexiglas container to observe how quickly the gas could travel through the walls. Because the pores in the wallboard are 1 million times larger than a carbon monoxide molecule, the gas passed easily through the porous barrier. Painted drywall slowed down the gas only a bit.

Only alarms can detect carbon monoxide gas once it is in a home, but far too many homes either don’t have one or have one that isn’t functioning because the batteries have died or have been removed. According to Lavonas, only 30 percent of American homes have a working carbon monoxide alarm. In North Carolina, a state that has a law requiring the devices, only 67.8 percent of homes do, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2012.

There have been many cases of poisonings in homes where carbon monoxide alarms were found, “but they either had no battery in them or they hadn’t even been taken out of the package,” Hampson said. “In addition to changing the batteries regularly, it’s important to check the expiration date on the alarm itself, he added.”When you change your batteries, you should look at the back of the alarm to see when the expiration date is. It’s either five or seven years, depending on the manufacturer,” Hampson explained.

Unlike smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms may be placed anywhere, from the bottom of the wall to the ceiling, and only one is needed per level, preferably located just outside the sleeping areas. Some alarms can be plugged directly into an electrical outlet or hard-wired, but both Hampson and Lavonas caution that if these are used, they should have a battery back-up. Most carbon monoxide poisonings occur during blackouts, when power is out, they noted.

If your alarm sounds, leave your home immediately, and call the fire department.

To learn more about carbon monoxide, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



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