Flu Season Today?
As of the end of December 2017, the flu season is officially moderately severe. The flu is widespread in 46 states. This is up from 36 states in the previous week. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research reveals that flu hospitalization is about 3 times higher than it was in the same time period in 2016. In addition, the flu season started earlier this year than it did in 2016. During the same time period in 2016, only 12 states had reported widespread activity, as compared to 46 states this flu season. This pretty much matches what I’ve been seeing in our office in Florida. About 3 weeks ago, we began to diagnose multiple children with the flu every day.
Why is this Flu Season Severe?
This season’s dominate flu strain is an Influenza A strain, H3N2, which is a particularly severe and causes more symptoms than other strains typically do.
What Are Flu Symptoms?
Flu symptoms typically include a fever and nasal congestion at a minimum. Other symptoms may include weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, body aches, and more.
What To Do If I Think I Have the Flu?
If you are feeling sick with flu-like symptoms, you may want to consider going to see a doctor, especially within the first 48 hours of your illness. Your doctor may be able to prescribe an anti-viral medication against the flu, Tamiflu, which is effective in preventing worsening symptoms of the flu by stopping its replication. However, if you’ve been sick with the flu for more than 48 hours, Tamiflu is not effective.
I Have the Flu. Now What?
Follow your doctor’s instructions. Drink plenty of fluids. Rest. Stay home. Do not go to work, school, religious gatherings, or other community gatherings or events. By going out, you increase the risk of spreading the flu. In addition, as the flu weakens the immune system, if you go out, you place yourself at risk for contracting a secondary bacterial infection, such as pneumonia, sinusitis, or an ear infection.
How Do I Prevent Myself From Getting the Flu?
Good old-fashioned hand washing is helpful, as flu droplets may linger on countertops and other objects. Hand washing prevents many other common infections as well (http://drsilvatotstweensandteens.com/2013/01/new-norovirus-highly-contagious-virus.html).
The good news is that the CDC reports that this season’s flu vaccine strains are a good match to the live flu virus strains that are circulating (http://bit.ly/2CLWaCZ). That means the flu vaccine is providing good protection against the flu by preventing the flu so far.
The best course of action is to make sure you and your children get the flu vaccine. It’s not too late. No one knows exactly when the flu season ends. From the looks of it, it will probably continue for another few months. There is still time to protect yourself. Get the flu vaccine at your doctor’s office, health department, school, or pharmacy today.
A 9 month old infant girl from Connecticut was found to have lead poisoning. Doctors discovered that the young infant had a high lead level during her routine physical exam.
According to a report (http://bit.ly/2wBf8LJ) by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on August 31, 2017, her blood lead level of 41 micrograms per deciliter of lead was much higher than acceptable. According to CDC, an acceptable blood level is up to 5 micrograms per deciliter.
Investigators reviewed the home in detail. Although there was lead paint on two of the windows in the home, the infant girl was not able to reach those windows, so she couldn't have contracted lead poisoning from them. In addition, the her 3-year-old and 5-year-old siblings didn't have lead poisoning, so the windows were not the source of the lead.
The baby girl's parents bought her a homeopathic magnetic bracelet to help with teething pain. She had used the bracelet for teething relief, chewing on it, causing her to ingest the lead. The homeopathic community believes magnets help with healing. Tests on the beads of the bracelet revealed that it contained 17,000 parts per million (ppm). According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), for the most part, products containing 90 to 100 ppm are considered safe.
Chewing & Lead Poisoning
Please be careful with items that your child may chew on. Sadly, each year, there are recalls on children's jewelry due to high levels of lead and cadmium poisoning (https://drsilvatotstweensandteens.com/2010/02/cadmium-jewelry-poisoning.html). Infants and toddlers place objects in their mouths as part of their development and natural curiosity. They learn about their world orally, in this fashion. Depending upon the lead level in a child's body, lead poisoning has long-term consequences including, but not limited to lower IQ, speech delay, behavior problems, seizures, and death. Treatment does not necessarily reverse the negative effects of lead on the brain and body.
Routine Physical Exam & Lead Testing
Please remember to follow-up with your pediatrician for your child's physical exam, as so much is done at these visits, including lead level testing, if recommended. Consider buying a lead surface test kit for your children's toys or objects they may place in their mouths, as lead poisoning is a nightmare for any family to handle whether from teething bracelet or toys.
Teething Tablets Not Recommended
On April 20, 2017, the FDA recalled Hyland's homeopathic teething tablets.
For many years now, many parents have asked me if I recommend teething tablets and if they even work. I always told them that didn't recommend them because the ingredient concentrations are not known or clear.
Hyland's website (http://www.hylands.com/products/hyland%E2%80%99s-baby-nighttime-teething-tablets) lists the ingredients and their benefits as follows:
"Calcarea Phosphorica 6X HPUS
Chamomilla 6X HPUS
Coffea Cruda 6X HPUS
Belladonna 12X HPUS (0.0000000000003% Alkaloids)
HPUS indicates the active ingredients are in the official Homeopathic Pharmacopia of the United States."
Belladonna is listed as 12X HPUS. How much is this? Is it really safe for our babies? In addition, in 2010, the FDA has also advised against these tablets due to inconsistent dosing of Belladonna alkaloids from bottle to bottle (http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/12/health/hylands-teething-tablets-discontinued-fda-warning/). If I didn't know what I was really giving to my baby, I wouldn't give it to my baby. Therefore, if I couldn't give it to my baby, I couldn't recommend it as a pediatrician.
In addition, I used to tell parents that based on parents' feedback, it seemed that these tablets worked about 50% of the time. Given that it wasn't consistently helpful, I didn't recommend them.
Hyland's Teething Tablets Recalled
Now, I say even more. I say absolutely not. There have been ten (10) deaths linked to Hyland's teething tablets. "The FDA concluded that the products have mislabeled the amounts of belladonna alkaloids they contain." (http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/14/health/hylands-teething-tablet-fda-recall-bn/) There have also been seizures linked to them as well. There are of course other homeopathic teething tablets. However, the same problem exists. How much of each ingredient is in each tablet? Unknown. So, the bottom line is, I don't recommend teething tablets.
What To Do For Teething Pain Relief
So the question remains, what to do to help relieve the pain? There are several recommendations:
(1) Use a cold wet wash cloth (kept in the fridge) that your baby can chew on.
(2) Have your child chew on a frozen bagel.
(3) Have your child chew on a frozen banana.
(4) Have your child chew on an ice cube.
Be careful with any of these items that your child can chew on. Always supervise your baby in order to prevent your child choking. In addition, chewing on a frozen item needs to be for a limited time to prevent physical injury due to prolonged cold. I recommend using a fresh food feeder. This is essentially a small mesh bag that your infant can chew on without choking. As always supervise that as well.
Teething is a painful time in infants' lives. However, teething tablets or bells that contain belladonna and/or benzocaine are not recommended.
The Blue Whale game is a social media suicide game that has been linked to over 150 children suicides. To date over 130 children suicides in Russia have been linked to the Blue Whale game. The game has made its way to Europe. It has been linked to suicides in Portugal, Spain, England, and Ireland as recent as April and May of 2017. (www.crimeonline.com/2017/05/22/parents-please-read-dads-warning-after-son-found-dead-after-playing-blue-whale-suicide-game)
The Blue Whale Game is an online interactive challenge game that starts with an assignment of tasks for the player. A series of tasks occur over a 50 day period to complete. Some tasks may be as simple as watching a horror movie. Gradually, the tasks are increasingly more severe involving self inflicted injuries. As each task is completed, the player posts a picture of the task on Instagram. Although this game has typically been played on Instagram, other social media platforms have been used as well. Some posts include pictures and videos of self inflicted wounds include a whale carving on an arm, balancing on a roof, or a pool of blood. The player wins at the end of the game, when they complete the final task of suicide. In some cases, this has involved posting "End" with a picture of a blue whale.
Instagram has begun to post a warning regarding the Blue Whale game when a search is done for the term "blue whale."
The game's creator, Phillip Budeikin, from Russia, is imprisoned. He started the game in 2013. He has stated that he was cleansing society of certain people that were biological waste. Even though he is imprisoned, other "death groups" have continued with the Blue Whale game. In addition, the creator receives love letters in prison.
Please discuss the Blue Whale game, its dangers, and its links to suicide with your children and their friends, especially if you have my concerns regarding depression or suicide in your children or notice my change in their behavior.