Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘Health and Safety’

Overloaded on Hidden Sugar

sugar

When it comes to the holiday season, sugar is everywhere, particularly in desserts and holiday candy. But did you know that sugar is also added to many everyday foods, including soups and yogurt?

“Many people are unaware of just how pervasive added sugar is in our foods,” said Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “It isn’t just cookies and soda, it’s being added to many foods that most people wouldn’t consider as sweets.”

The result: the average American adult is consuming three times more sugar than is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) – 76.7 grams per day versus the recommended 25 grams per day, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“The problem with sugar is that it presents a variety of risks to our health,” said Grow. “Some are more obvious, in the sense that more sugar means more calories which can contribute to weight gain. Weight gain leads to obesity, and can bring along many health problems like diabetes. But an excess amount of sugar also affects our long term health by altering our metabolism and causing inflammation.”

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Marketing Food and Beverages to Children is Big Business; Is it Bad for Your Kids?

Kids and TelevisionIt’s a serious business to win over the minds and taste buds of youth today. In fact, the food industry spends about $1.8 billion annually on food marketing to children and adolescents, according to a review by the Federal Trade Commission. In 2006, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) was launched by food companies to promote healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles in advertisements. But it may not be enough, says Dr. Mollie Grow, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, Grow weighs in on a study published this year about how children perceived television advertisements by two national fast food chains. According to Grow, the study shows there is room for improvement when it comes to how the food industry advertises healthier dietary choices. Many fast-food chains have agreed to standards when advertising to kids, but it seems they are not always clear to children.

In the study titled “Children’s Reaction to Depictions of Healthy Foods in Fast-Food Television Advertisements,” researchers found that advertisements don’t adequately depict healthier options to children. Many children in the study couldn’t correctly identify the healthy food items in the advertisements. Furthermore, 81% of the children participating in the study said they remembered seeing french fries in an advertisement, when the food that was shown was actually apples. That has led researchers to beg the question: Can more be done by advertisers to influence children’s dietary decisions and curb childhood obesity? Read full post »

Debunking Three Common Myths About Eczema

More than 30 million Americans have eczema, a skin condition that causes dry, red, extremely itchy skin. It often starts before the age of 5 and can negatively impact children in many ways, including not being able to sleep and lacking focus in school or social situations because of frequent scratching.

I see many patients every week who suffer from eczema and other skin conditions. These patients and their parents often come to clinic with ideas about what causes these skin conditions and how to treat them. Below, I’ve debunked three common myths about eczema that we hear at Seattle Children’s Hospital on a regular basis. Read full post »

Enterovirus: What Parents Need to Know

By now you’ve probably seen news reports about the outbreak of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) that’s been sweeping across the country, resulting in many children being hospitalized for difficulties with breathing. While there are no confirmed cases of EV-D68 in Washington state, Seattle Children’s has seen cases of severe respiratory disease in many patients who have tested positive for enterovirus or rhinovirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is doing further testing to determine if any of these cases are EV-D68.

The primary message for parents worried about their own children: Be on alert, wash hands frequently, and see a doctor or take your child to an emergency room immediately if he or she is having difficulty breathing or wheezing.

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Study Finds 11.4 Million Unnecessary Antibiotics Prescribed to Children

IstockimageSMALLAntibiotics can be used as life-saving therapies, but many experts believe they are prescribed more frequently than they should be. This practice puts individuals at risk of dangerous side effects and exposes the public to drug-resistant bacteria.

To better understand how antibiotics should be prescribed, Dr. Matthew Kronman, an infectious disease expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a member of Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research, led a study published today by the American Academy of Pediatrics, addressing how antibiotics are used to treat common respiratory infections. He discovered there are approximately 11.4 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions written to children and teens each year in the United States.

We asked Kronman the following questions to learn more about the overprescribing of antibiotics and his recently published research:

Why aren’t antibiotics appropriate to treat all respiratory infections?

Kronman: Respiratory infections are one of the most common reasons children and adolescents receive prescriptions for antibiotics, but not all of these illnesses benefit from antibiotic use. Antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections. Many respiratory infections are viral, and therefore, not helped by antibiotics. Read full post »

Later Start Times for Secondary Schools and Changing the Culture of Sleep

Later Start Times for Secondary Schools

New data suggests that adolescents in the U.S. are chronically sleep-deprived. Doctors recommend the average teenager get between 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep on school nights, but a recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 87 percent of high school students were sleeping far less.

That’s a real concern for parents and caregivers, as sleep deprived teenagers run an increased risk of physical and mental health problems, car accidents, as well as declining academic performance. But with homework and school start times as early as 7:30 a.m. in some parts of the country, is it even possible for teens to get the sleep they need?

“No, it’s not possible,” said Dr. Cora Collette  Breuner, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and co-author of a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement that recommends all middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later.

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What Do Teens Think About Online Privacy?

Dr. Megan Moreno.

Dr. Megan Moreno, investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development and adolescent medicine expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Today’s teens are the first “digital natives” who have grown up with the internet. So much of what they learn about online safety comes from their peers, but what lessons are they teaching one another? To find out, Dr. Megan Moreno, an investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development and adolescent medicine expert at Seattle Children’s Hospital, led a study to discover what teens felt were key safety issues and what messages they could be sharing with their peers. She shares her findings here:

Most teens today, including those I see in clinic each week, spend time on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. While these sites provide adolescents with numerous benefits, including social support and exposure to new ideas, there are also risks of internet use, such as cyberbullying and invasion of privacy. Educating adolescents about how to protect their privacy and use the internet safely may prevent many risks. However, there aren’t any widespread, tested and comprehensive resources available to teach these skills to teens because the internet is still a relatively new phenomenon. Most teens say they learn about internet safety from their peers, but it’s unclear what lessons they may be learning in this way.  Our research team led a study to discover what teens felt were key safety issues and what messages they could be sharing with their peers. Read full post »

A Recipe for Better Health: 7-5-2-1-0

75210Obesity is a health problem that affects 15% of children and teens in the U.S. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), obesity is a national health emergency. However, Victoria Garcia, manager of Community Benefit at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says there are small, simple steps families can take to reduce the risk of obesity.

“Obesity is an epidemic in the U.S., but making healthy lifestyle choices is about more than just obesity prevention,” said Garcia. “When children are healthy, they are also happy. We want families to take small steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Being active and eating well is a positive message that can apply to anyone and everyone.”

Garcia advises parents to set children up for success by incorporating a simple formula into everyday life: 7-5-2-1-0. Below, Garcia decodes what each number means. Read full post »

Doctor Explains the Truth about Drowning: “It’s a Silent Killer”

lifejacket imageTemperatures are on the rise, which has families flocking to pools, lakes, rivers and oceans to beat the sweltering heat.

While a cool dip may sound like the perfect summertime activity for a family, it can also be a dangerous one. More than 1,500 children and teens die every year in the U.S. from drowning. In Washington state alone, an average of 25 children and teens drown every year, higher than the national average.

Fortunately, most water related injuries and deaths are preventable, if proper safety measures are taken. One important hurdle to overcome, however, is deciphering the difference between drowning fact and myth. Read full post »

Never Leave a Child Alone in the Car, Physician Warns

Child Passenger SafetyLeaving a child alone in the car can have deadly consequences, even on just a warm day and only for a few minutes. It’s a preventable scenario that can happen to anyone – after a busy morning getting ready for work a parent could easily forget their baby in the backseat of a car, or while running a few quick errands it may seem easier to leave a restless 5-year-old in the backseat, or a sleeping toddler in their car seat.

However, a child should never be left alone in a car, not even for a couple of minutes, says Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital. On average in the U.S., 38 children die each year from heatstroke in hot cars, according to KidsAndCars.org. Some of the children are forgotten, some are intentionally left there, and others gain access accidentally. Read full post »