24
Nov

Oh Christmas Tree!

‘Tis the season to be decorating! Many families celebrating Christmas have already or will soon decorate the outside and inside of their homes, celebrating in style. But for some of you, safety may be a concern. Both infants and toddlers can become injured by electrical outlets, ornaments and even a Christmas tree. This may be the first year you’ve had to think about safety issues at Christmas either because you are a first time parent or because your toddler has started developing an interest for these lovely decorations.
 
If your stories include, “I woke up to find all the ornaments smashed all over the floor,” or “My infant had a glass ornament break in his mouth,” then here are my top 10 suggestions for you:
 
1. Use plastic ornaments.
Learn to see the world through a child’s eyes. These shiny and sparkling ornaments attract your child like a moth to a flame. Glass or sharp/pointy ornaments in his/her mouth can cause injury.
 
2. Use garland instead of lights.
Remove the temptation to play with the light bulbs or the electric light sockets.
 
3. Keep electric sockets covered.
If you have not already purchased these, these covers are available at a number of local pharmacies and stores.
 
4. Keep lights out of reach from all children.
Depending on the bulbs used, this can hurt sensitive little fingers or hands. Not to mention, older toddlers can pull the bulbs apart from the light set. They can chew on them or offer them to the younger children in the home. In addition, the light set can be pulled causing the Christmas tree to topple onto your child.
 
5. Avoid ornaments & lights at the bottom of your tree.
Some families decorate the top ½ or ¾ of the tree to help their child resist temptation. Again, for the same reason that when pulled, the Christmas tree could fall onto your child.
 
6. Use play yard gates to surround your Christmas tree.
To avoid direct contact all together, these gates are the best. You can find them at your local store or by doing an internet search for Superyard XT Pay Yard.
 
7. Keep candy dishes out of reach.
Your child can choke on a lot of traditional candy. In addition, if they pull the candy dish, it may fall & shatter onto the floor. Then, your child might get glass or ceramic cuts on their hands, feet, or elsewhere.
 
8. Avoid marshmallows.
This is a fun treat if used appropriately. However, small children and even older children have choked on this. Some have even died. Marshmallow does not dissolve. So, it would be very hard, if not impossible to get this out of your child’s throat, even if you know how to use the Heimlich maneuver.  Two very famous cases involved the death of a 12 year old girl in 1999 and a 32 year old woman in 2006 while playing the "Chubby Bunny" game (http://bit.ly/1sqHoWR).
 
9. Ask for help; have someone watch your child while you decorate.
It’s hard to keep your children away from all the decor while still trying to decorate. A watchful eye is especially needed if you are decorating the outside of your home. Children have a way of getting into trouble or hurting themselves whenever you are not looking. As a pediatrician, I commonly hear, “It was only a minute.” Then, injury occurs.
 
10. Lastly, be careful when you gift wrap.
Even wrapping gifts can result in an injury. It may only be bags, wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, & scissors to you, but it’s a gold mine for your child. If left unattended, small children can suffocate in plastic bags and cut themselves with scissors. Keep these items out of your child’s reach at all times.
 
A Christmas tree and Christmas time decorations can be a wonderfully fun time at home, as long as you keep safety in mind.
21
Jul

Concussions in Football and Children

imageedit_4_8211374059 - concussions in football and childrenChildren in Football and Other High Impact Sports

In the July 7, 2014 issue of People magazine, there was an article called, "6-Year-Old Football Players, Too Young to Tackle?"  The article discusses the Tri-County Titans, a competitive tackle football team in the Texas Youth Football Association.  What makes the Tri-County Titans so unique? They are a team comprised of 6 year olds.  They were highlighted on Friday Night Tykes, a TV show on Esquire Network.  There's been a lot of controversy regarding these elementary kids playing football.  So what's wrong with 6 year olds playing football?  Nothing, except, these young kids are playing tackle football.  While the article discusses the potentially negative impact of competitive football among elementary school kids, I would like to focus on an important issue, concussions in football and children.
 

Concussions & Concussion Symptoms

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that typically occurs when there is a sudden movement of the brain due to an injury such as a blow to the head, a jarring of the head, or a fall.  Concussion symptoms can be various and linger.  Symptoms may include disordered thinking, memory loss, dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, difficulty sleeping, and more.  There are new guidelines for returning to sports after a concussion.  These serve to promote brain healing and  prevent additional injury.
 

Concussions in Children

Concussions and other injuries are more likely to occur with tackle football than flag football.  Concussions have a huge impact for children.  The reality is that once someone has had a concussion, they are more likely to have additional concussions. Repeated concussions are repeated brain injuries.  What does that mean for the brain?  It increases the likelihood of chronic lifelong brain damage.  What does that mean to our youth?  The younger the child has a concussion, the more likely they are to have more concussions in their sports lifetime.  The growing brain in the child with repeated concussions is uniquely susceptible to brain damage with prolonged effects, especially if the family and child are planning a life with many years of football or high-impact sports participation.
 

Traumatic Brain Injury

Concussions have come to public attention in recent years due to all of the attention received by concussions in the NFL.  Many NFL players have lifelong effects from repeated concussions.  In 2013, there was a  "$765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players, agreeing to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research."   Repeated concussions can cause a degenerative brain disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  CTE can manifest as Alzheimer's, dementia, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  Measures are being taken in the medical and school communities to help prevent our children from getting concussions during all sports, not just football. Doctors, coaches, and parents are also more aware of concussion symptoms.
 

Support & Resources

If your child suffers a sports related injury, make sure to go to his or her doctor.  Also, make sure your child receives an extra exam that clears him or her to return to their sport.  More importantly,even before a potential injury occurs, make sure you know the facts about concussions.  Make sure your children's school and coaches know the facts as well.  The CDC has many concussion education resources available, such as "A Fact Sheet for Teachers, Counselors, and School Professionals."  They've even created an "Heads Up" app to help parents identify concussion or traumatic brain injury symptoms.  For more support and resources about concussions, concussion symptoms, and treatment, please refer to the  CDC concussion support website.
13
May

Change in Tylenol Dosing | Standard & Safety in Tylenol Measurement

Starting this summer, Tylenol will now have standardized dosing for their Infants' & Children's products. In 2009, the FDA made several safety recommendations, including changing the concentration of Tylenol so that it is unform regardless of the age of the child. That's precisely what they've done. As a result, the measuring devices will also change. The current concentrated Infant's Tylenol will cease to be manufactured.

The idea behind this standard concentration is to decrease the risk of overdosing a child. In this case, safety and standardization go hand in hand. An overdose of Tylenol can result in liver damage and/or death. This change is particularly helpful if you have children of various ages in your home. When exhausted in the care of your sick child, you will no longer risk choosing the wrong bottle (i.e. the wrong concentration) in the store or at home. Hence, your child is less likely to be overdosed or even underdosed.

This will have an impact if/when you choose to give your child Tylenol. It also will have an impact when you ask your child's Pediatrician for dosing questions. Why? Because both past & new formulations will be available in the market at the same time. So, your child's doctor will need to know the concentration of the specific bottle you have at home in order to tell you what dosage of Tylenol is appropriate for your child. In reality it won't be a big deal. But it is best to be prepared, as there is likely to be some confusion until all of the old formulations are truly a thing of the past.

On May 4, 2011, The Consumer Healthcare Produscts Association announced that other manufacturers of Acetaminophen (generic Tylenol) will also change their formulations so that their concentrations will also standardized to 160 mg/5 ml.

For more information regarding the change in Tylenol concentration and measurement, please go to http://www.chpa-info.org/

8
Aug

Drop Side Cribs: One Step Closer to a Ban

Photo by CPSC
Nationwide, manufacturers are recalling their drop-side cribs left and right. Recently, over two (2) million drop-side cribs have been recalled due to an increased number of injuries and deaths. This brings the total to over nine (9) million drop-side cribs that have been recalled in the last five (5) years. Some crib manufacturers affected include Pottery Barn Kids, Simmons, Bexco, LaJobi, Jardine, Evenflo, Delta, Child Craft (out of business), Graco, Simplicity, Generation 2, ChilDESIGNS, Stork Craft, Simplicity, PlayKids USA, and L.A. Baby. Sadly, the list does not end here. It goes on and on. To check to see if your crib has been recalled, go to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission search at http://1.usa.gov/1ylfBdk
 
The injury or death can occur when the drop-side crib’s hardware comes loose, leaving a gap between the baby’s mattress and the rail, leading to suffocation or strangulation. Since 2000, these cribs have resulted in at least 32 deaths and 16 cases of entrapment in infants and toddlers, with another 14 deaths linked as well.

About two (2) weeks ago, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) (http://www.cpsc.gov/) proposed a new crib standard that cribs manufactured for sale or resale must have four (4) fixed sides. If passed, it is predicted that as early as Summer 2011, drop-side cribs will be banned sale, re-sale or use in stores, hotels, and daycare centers.

What should you do if you have a drop-side crib? Stop using it. Contact the manufacturer of your crib or search their website. Many are offering kits that will immobilize the rail. If no such kit is available, please consider replacing your crib. Although the deaths have been few, your child could become one of the rare ones. It is not worth taking the chance.

You can also go to the CPSC’s Crib Information Center @ U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission crib recall list.

If you have further questions, you can call the CPSC Recall Hotline at (800) 638-2772.

 
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