Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘Health and Safety’

Dangerous dares, stopping the next cinnamon challenge

SONY DSCNow that kids are headed back to school, more time with friends, an increased amount of peer pressure and less supervision all combine to make a dangerous mix. “I dare you” is how it usually begins – a few simple words, a group of kids and a smartphone to document the foolery. From the cinnamon challenge, attempting to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon in 60 seconds without drinking water, to the milk challenge, attempting to drink a gallon of milk in one hour without vomiting, a recent trend in the media has parents and doctors sounding the alarm.

However, more and more kids are attempting rather than avoiding the dangerous dares and challenges they see on the internet. Which begs the question, are we doing enough to end the trend? Or are we waiting for the next cinnamon challenge to hit the web?

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Fat letters from schools spur childhood obesity debate

Childhood obesityReceiving report cards from schools is a standard practice that helps parents stay informed about their child’s academic performance. But now, schools in some states have been going one step further and are also letting parents know how their child’s weight measures up.

A new report released this week in Pediatrics has spurred debate around this issue as it states that Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings in schools and subsequently informing parents about their child’s weight category is a necessary step in the fight against the childhood obesity epidemic.

Twenty one states, not currently including Washington, have enacted policies or made recommendations about collecting height and weight data and assessing body composition in schools. In some states, like Massachusetts and Arkansas, a confidential letter that has been dubbed a “fat letter” is mailed to parents whose child has a high BMI, informing them of their child’s weight status and advising them to talk with a doctor.

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Doctor offers tips for a smooth transition from summer to school

BacktoSchoolPack away the flip-flops and beachwear. Bring on the mechanical pencils and 3-ring binders. School is almost back in session, and it’s time for kids to transition to a more structured, scholarly schedule.

Heading back to school can be a stressful time for parents and kids, but planning ahead and talking through issues can help. Mollie Grow, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, offers tips to ease the transition from summer to school.

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Magnets pose an increasing risk to children

MagnetsAn 8-year-old girl comes to the emergency room with what her parents think is stomach flu, then is rushed into surgery after X-rays show she swallowed three tiny magnets. A toddler eats magnets that look like candy, then has part of her bowels removed after the magnets click together inside her.

They’re stories that make parents squirm – and they’re becoming all too familiar to Julie Brown, MD, co-director of pediatric emergency medicine research at Seattle Children’s. Brown treats children in Seattle Children’s Emergency Department and is seeing more and more cases where kids accidentally swallow magnets or insert them into their nose, ears or other orifices, with potentially life-threatening consequences.

In a study published Aug. 6 in Annals of Emergency Medicine, she and her colleagues found that this is a national trend: From 2002 to 2011, there was a significant increase in kids receiving emergency care after accidentally taking magnets into their bodies, indicating that magnet-related injuries are an increasing public health problem for children.

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Dating violence a common experience for teens

Teen datingRecent research presented at the American Psychological Association’s meeting in Honolulu finds that about one in three American teens report being victims of dating violence. Almost one in three teens also acknowledge they’ve committed violence toward a date.

Researchers analyzed information collected in 2011 and 2012 from 1,058 youths, ages 14 to 20, in the Growing Up with Media study, a national online survey funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study defines teen dating violence as physical, sexual or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship.

“When we think about violence, we often think about someone being punched or beaten. Physical abuse is a devastating type of dating violence, but psychological and sexual violence also hurt keenly and can cause lasting damage,” said Jen Brown, a nurse with Seattle Children’s adolescent medicine team.

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Helping new parents cope with normal infant crying

Typical newborn cryingOne of the biggest surprises new parents face is just how relentlessly a normal, healthy infant can cry during their first few months of life. This crying can lead people to question their fitness as parents, raise unnecessary concerns about their child’s wellbeing and result in overwhelming feelings of anger, frustration and guilt.

Research shows that bouts of prolonged, unrelenting crying is the No. 1 reason parents – and other caregivers – shake a baby. Shaken baby syndrome can cause blindness, seizures, physical and learning disabilities, and even death.

Thankfully, research also has shown that simply understanding the normal pattern of infant crying and learning a few coping skills significantly reduces the likelihood that a child will be shaken or abused. Read full post »

Tips to Keep Kids and Teens Safe this Fourth of July

Fireworks safetyThe Fourth of July is a time for fun and celebration; however, families should follow precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable occasion. Not only do parents need to worry about firework safety, but families should also keep in mind alcohol and sun safety, too.

Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, recommends some basic safety tips to keep your kids out of the emergency department this year.

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Doctor offers 8 tips to keep kids safe while biking

boybikingThe long, sunny days of summer are the perfect time to get the bikes out of the garage, but parents should hit the brakes and talk to children about bike safety first. Bike accidents are the second-leading cause of serious injury in school-age children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, 800 bicyclists were killed in the U.S. and an estimated 515,000 sustained bicycle-related injuries that required emergency department care. Roughly half of these cyclists were children and adolescents under the age of 20.

Tony Woodward, MD, MBA, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says most biking injuries occur because a child either isn’t wearing a helmet or is putting themself in a potentially dangerous situation. “Children may see themselves as invincible when they are on a bike, which is not the truth,” says Woodward. Read full post »

Summer routines help keep kids thinking and moving while school’s out

GirlReadingAs the song goes, school’s out for summer! Children across the country are putting another school year behind them and welcoming, with open arms, the long days of summer. But while summer might seem like the perfect time to put aside routines and schedules, Mollie Grow, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says a little structure is critical for kids’ growth and development.

Summer schedule may sound like an oxymoron, but kids need direction and routine, says Grow. Some children can experience a loss of cognitive ability during summer break, according to some studies. By encouraging mental stimulation throughout summer, parents can help children maintain math, reading and spelling skills. Research suggests a significant positive effect when children are enrolled in summer learning programs, compared to children who are not. Promote daily reading or math problems, select educational television programs and games and plan educational “field trips” with the family, like nature walks or trips to museums. Read full post »

More kids accidentally poisoned by legal marijuana, study finds

Medical marijuana

A Colorado study finds that more of the state’s children have accidentally ingested marijuana since medical marijuana was legalized. Suzan Mazor, MD, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Seattle Children’s and a medical toxicologist at Children’s and the Washington Poison Center, says parents and doctors can expect to see similar effects in Washington state.

The study, published May 27 in JAMA Pediatrics, was conducted at a children’s hospital in Colorado, where medical marijuana was legalized in June 2001 and recreational use of marijuana was decriminalized in November 2012. The researchers saw a sharp increase in emergency department visits for marijuana ingestion after October 2009, when the federal government stopped prosecuting medical marijuana users who were conforming to their state’s laws.

Fourteen children between 8 months and 12 years old were evaluated and treated for accidental ingestions between October 2009 and December 2011. By comparison, there were no accidental marijuana ingestions between January 2005 and September 2009.

Mazor says it makes sense that as marijuana became more available in the community, children’s exposures to the drug increased. She suspects that researchers would see the same results in Washington state, which has similar laws. “More availability of any poison usually translates to more unintentional poisonings in kids.”

The emergency team at Children’s has already seen several cases of unintentional marijuana ingestion. “One child in particular was quite sedated, and was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit after eating a homemade product containing marijuana,” says Mazor.

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