Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 05-23-2016 to 05-29-2016

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Health News: Postpone or move Olympics, doctors urge as Zika crisis grows https://t.co/X6KyVszQbk 

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Girl Tweets Threats To Teacher, Lands In Jail Hours Later https://t.co/WEo3pLt69w

Summertime Bugs, Bites and Burns: A Pediatrician’s Perpective

Treating a bee stingThe beginning of summer signals a time of spending more active hours outdoors. The weather is warming up, the days are longer and children are getting out of school and probably staying up longer than they did during the school year. It is a time to let loose and enjoy the sunshine and freedom that comes with the season.

Certain issues should be addressed in order to keep everyone as healthy as possible. While exposure to sunlight is important to the innate production of vitamin D and hence calcium metabolism, there are dangers that our dermatology friends have been warning about for quite some time:  too much sun can be as dangerous as too little.  The highest rates of Melanoma (serious form of skin cancer) occur where there is an increased and constant exposure to sunshine, such as the southwestern part of this country.  Why is this?  It has been determined that both UVA and UVB light frequencies can at times alter the structure of DNA, that is the microscopic building blocks for forming all types of life forms.  This is most prominent in the largest organ in our bodies, our skin. This can lead to the formations of all types of skin growths- melanoma being the most serious as it can shorten one’s life.

So avoiding sunlight would be the best way of avoiding this problem, but this is virtually impossible. Therefore try to avoid the maximum sunlight times of the day and spend more time outdoors before 10 AM and after 3PM, and cover up as much as is practical.  At all times children should have a good sunblock on their skin- one that will block both UVA and UVB frequencies, and if continued exposure to sunlight is taking place or if one enters the water, this sunblock should be re-applied; the higher the SPF the less often it need be applied.

One blistering sunburn in a child can raise the chances of developing melanoma as an adult manifold.  Once a sunburn is present there is practically nothing you can do except to keep your child comfortable with cool compresses and Tylenol if he/she is very uncomfortable.

Not only are bugs a nuisance but some may carry diseases. Just as an example, the recent concentration on the Zika virus highlights the need to be alert to insects (mosquitoes), as the Zika virus was not even recognized 5 years ago.  There are known illnesses that can be transmitted through the bites of insects, but as a rule these are not very common- it still makes sense to wear appropriate clothing and use insect repellent at appropriate times. These repellents should contain DEET in concentrations up to 30% for children and should not be used under the age of 6 months.

In general the ubiquitous honey bee usually will not be interested in stinging humans unless they are threatened- inadvertently sat on, or a child is actively trying to catch them. Even the large black and yellow bees seen buzzing around certain plants and flowers are not particularly aggressive.

This is not necessarily true of other stinging insects in the same family (hymenoptera).  Hornets and wasps can be aggressive depending on the situation, and the fairly new “Africanized bee” population has grown in size- they tend to swarm and have been responsible for deaths in the past.  So better off to avoid these creatures altogether.  Of course if there is a known bee allergy present in your child certainly more stringent avoidance procedures should be undertaken as this can be a life threatening situation.

So summertime is a wonderful time for families and especially children; be sure to keep your child safe from the indigenous dangers that summer presents.

Other summer topics to be discussed in the near future include water hazards, plant contact (poison ivy, etc),  heat exposure, dog and cat bites not to mention animal safety in general.

Smartphone Apps To Prevent Child Hot Car Deaths (Gifting 1st 50)

Mother Putting Baby Son Into Car Travel Seat‘Forgotten Baby Syndrome’ (FBS), or as I prefer to call it, ‘Forgotten BACKSEAT Baby Syndrome’, is a relatively new danger to child passenger safety that results in fatal child vehicular heatstroke in greater than 99 percent of cases. FBS is the leading origin of child vehicular heatstroke cases.  It was practically nonexistent prior to placement of infants and young toddlers in the backseat beginning in the late 1990s.  I now know this danger too well, having lost my first child, my soulmate, Sophia Rayne (aka “Ray Ray”), to this too often unknown and misunderstood threat to child passenger safety in May 2011, just ten days after her first birthday.  Our tale of tragedy resulting from ‘One Wrong Turn’ can be found on the Ray Ray’s Pledge website.

I learned very quickly after Ray Ray’s passing that our tragedy was in no way unique nor simply a ‘freak accident’.  According to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), vehicular heatstroke is one of the leading causes of death among children.  To date, ‘noheatstroke.org’ reports that there have been at least 667 child vehicular heatstroke deaths since 1998, most of whom were inadvertently forgotten in the backseat at less than two years of age.  The most common intended destination when they were forgotten? daycare/ babysitterRay-Ray picThirty-seven children on average die annually of vehicular heatstroke.  From the Friday kicking off Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, a child dies in a hot car every 3.5 days.  Though the deadliest months nationally are July and August, it is important to note that children have died during every month of the year, EVEN on days when it is ‘not that hot’, as the inside temperature of a car can increase by more than 40 degrees in less than an hour, half of that in the first 10 minutes, and 80 percent of that within the initial 30 minutes after shutting off the engine (source: noheatstroke.org).

By now you may have heard many child safety groups cry that “technology in automobiles” is the answer to eliminating child hot car deaths.  This battle cry annoys me as a parent of a heatstroke victim AND as a fellow vehicular heatstroke prevention warrior/ advocate.  WHY???

  1. This statement is only partially true, given that nearly 30 percent of child hot car deaths involve kids who gain access to an unlocked car and become entrapped. There is no technology on earth that will make certain 100 percent of the time that vehicle doors are always locked upon exit AND that keys/ fobs are out of reach of children without unintended consequences of inadvertently locking people/ pets INSIDE, as learned recently in the 2015 Texas Corvette entrapment case and the 2013 California BMW entrapment case.
  2. EVEN if we were to have a miraculous technology blessed by the auto industry as 100 percent reliable AND plans to install in ALL car models of the next manufacturing season, WHAT do we do in the meantime with all of the other family transport vehicles within the US fleet? Not every family with a small child can afford to purchase a new vehicle immediately.
  3. EVEN if NHTSA issued a requirement for said ‘child backseat reminder technology’ to be added as a standard feature in the US automobile fleet by a specified date, whom would enforce that regulation and what would be the penalty for failure to comply? History has shown us that enforcement of said requirements, and penalties for non-compliance, is poor at best.  For example:  the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007, related to standard-feature rear-view camera requirements to avoid accidental child back-overs, was signed into law in 2008, with a deadline of 2011 for auto manufacturers to comply…what was done when the auto industry did not comply? The deadline was extended to 2018, of course!

mom-with-baby-and-smartphoneSo, as parents who are now aware of the dangers of Forgotten ‘Backseat’ Baby Syndrome (FBS), WHAT do we do in the meantime, whilst we wait for the technology of the auto industry to spare our children from the dangers of our own memory failure?  I have GREAT news!  There are technologies available TODAY, on our smartphones, which can help us to prevent the tragic loss of our babies to vehicular heatstroke due to FBS by creating childcare arrival confirmations/ absence verifications within our family safety circles, a core concept of Ray Ray’s Pledge.  Even better, these technologies are PASSIVE after the initial installation/ setup, meaning they do not rely upon you to be consistent in remembering or appropriately activating an alarm/ device each time you transport a child, a noted limitation of several post-market reminder devices as outlined in the 2012 NHTSA report on Evaluation of Reminder Technology.

Smartphone Safety Tip #1:  The basic alarm clock

Most, if not all, smartphones are equipped with pre-installed clocks whose alarms are very easy to program (many of us now use these exclusively as our wake-up alarms), AND they can alarm with sound and vibration, even if one has muted the phone sound.  I have two reminder alarms created in my phone: one that reminds me to check for my husband’s text confirming childcare drop-off at 9:45 am (within 15 minutes of the usual drop-off time); another that reminds me to confirm via text to my husband that we have arrived home and they have been removed from the car at 6:30pm each weekday—note that after the initial alarm setup with repeating schedule, these reminders are PASSIVE (ie., you don’t have to remember to set them each time you transport a child).  I urge all parents and others who transport young children to create these safety circles confirming childcare drop-off and removal from the vehicle for both regular routines, such as daycare drop-off (a high risk time of day for FBS resulting in fatal vehicular heatstroke) and weekend church/ temple arrivals, as well as for those non-routine transports where a child may be inadvertently forgotten in the backseat such as mid-day doctor/ dentist appointments.

 

How to Create a Drop-off Reminder wSmartPhone Leg 530x275

Smartphone Safety Tip #2:  Text scheduling apps

Though there are numerous SMS scheduler apps available for download on both IOS and Android systems (and many of them are FREE!), the one I use on my android phone is titled, “SMS Scheduler”.  Such apps allow you to pre-program a reminder text at a certain time of day and on whichever days needed so that the child transporter receives a text reminder to “confirm that children have been dropped off at school” to the safety circle/ other parent.  Such apps may be found on your app store by searching, “SMS scheduler”.  The downside: there is no safety net for failures to respond with confirmation of child drop-off/ pick-up other than user action to re-text/ call the driver.

sms scheduler apps 530x360

Smartphone Safety Tip #3:  Child reminder apps

mom i am here app - 350x161The best app that I have found is the “Mom I am Here” app:  great for confirmation of morning childcare drop-offs!   It is currently available on android only and for a small fee. Once installed, this app allows you to set up an automatic schedule for the alarm to sound and display on your phone. If you do not respond to the alarm within your specified interval, it will send a text (which can be customized to include your daycare name, number, etc.) to your emergency contacts in a stepwise fashion so that a child’s whereabouts may be confirmed within a reasonable timeframe.  The app has future build out plans for a 911 option as well.  What I love most about this app is the automatic safety chain of emergency contacts when the driver fails to confirm child drop-off within a customizable interval (in my case, 5 minutes).

check my child app 350x180Another app I like (and use daily) is the “Check My Child” (CMC) Reminder system, also available on android for a small fee.  CMC features customizable scheduling, one emergency backup if the user fails to confirm the alert within a customizable alarm interval, and the option to set multiple reminders. This app is great for children who need to travel to multiple activities during a typical week (eg: art, swim class, childcare).

Sadly, I have not found any child reminder apps operating in IOS or Windows-based smartphones that offer the emergency backup contact features of the two aforementioned reminder apps which are currently available on android devices.  I hope that this status changes in the near future.  It is important to note, however, that IOS does offer as a standard feature a GPS-based reminder/ alert notification, which can be set up to alarm upon detecting arrival to your workplace, church, etc.  There are also apps that can use GPS-based locations to set alerts.  However, the ones I have tested to date have been less than optimal in reliability for my family’s daily child transport activities.

A Call to Action for ALL Parents:

RRP sick or absent one phone call flyer 330x440As I approach the fifth anniversary of my child’s untimely death due to vehicular heatstroke, I look back with pride at how far my fellow heatstroke prevention warriors have come in raising awareness of FBS, a danger to child passenger safety that most parents have never heard of until it strikes their family or their community.  I also look at the present status of child hot car deaths and must admit my frustration with the apparent failure of the aforementioned awareness campaigns to reduce the average number of annual child hot car deaths.  Why????  What are we missing?  My best guess is that we too often tell parents to create reminders to alert them of babies riding in the backseat, but most of the reminder suggestions are impractical, even archaic at times given the advanced technology systems that we have become accustomed to in our daily lives.  The core concept of Ray Ray’s Pledge calls for families with young children to create a safety circle of childcare arrival confirmations and absence verifications for the morning childcare drop-off, a known high-risk time of day for young children to be forgotten in the backseat, ESPECIALLY if the child is less than three years of age and/ or there is a change in routine.  This safety circle should include the parents, the childcare provider/ teacher, as well as the driver in charge of transporting the child on a regular basis (if different from the parents).  I know, in hindsight, that one phone call or text could have saved my baby’s life on that fateful day; and I hope that the smartphone tips and tools that I have elucidated in today’s blog will assist you in creating your own safety circle to prevent child vehicular heatstroke in your family—BUT….reading this blog will do nothing to save your child from your own memory failure:  you MUST take ACTION to prevent child hot car death.  The first step?  Use one of these reminder suggestions as part of your daily child transport safety plan!

To Get You Started!!

***PEDIATRIC SAFETY & RAY RAY’S PLEDGE ARE GIFTING 50 ACCESS CODES***

We are Giving the “Mom I am Here” App…to the first 50 Android Phone Owners Who Do the Following 2 Things…

  • Sign Up for Child Safety: Subscribe Here to Receive Pediatric Safety Emails (make sure to confirm or we won’t know)
  • Take RayRay’s Pledge: Post one of the following on Twitter, FB or your favorite Social Media Site – (go ahead and customize it – make it your own!)
    • I pledge to call my child’s teacher/caregiver if he/she will be late or absent from childcare
    • I pledge to check my back seats every time I walk away from my car, and remind others to do the same
    • I pledge to call the police any time I see a child left alone in a car

Leave a Comment and Let Us Know You Met These 2 Requirements (along with a link [URL] to your pledge) and we’ll email you an access code to the Mom I am Here App. Please Help Us Keep Kids Out of Hot Cars This Summer!

***Finally…The Rules

  1. Promotion is only for Android phones – we’re so sorry, but this app isn’t available for iPhones
  2. Promo codes have no country of origin participation restrictions
  3. Codes will be given to the first 50 participants that can be verified to have met BOTH requirements above.
  4. Promotion starts Friday May 27, 2016 and ends at noon EST Thursday June 2, 2016. Please make sure to confirm  your subscription  to Pediatric Safety (and leave your email address in the comments so we can match it up) or we can’t verify the entry.
  5. Finally – very important – you MUST redeem the access codes and install the app before their expiration date of  June 14th, 2016.

AMC has Alice Through the Looking Glass Sensory Friendly on Sat.

New sensory friendly logoAMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other special needs “Sensory Friendly Films” every month – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fun new films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Alice-posterDoes it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

This month, AMC and the Autism Society’s “Sensory Friendly Film” are offering the chance to see Alice Through the Looking Glass on Saturday, May 28th at 10am local tune. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming in June: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Sat, 6/11), X-Men: Apocalypse (Tues, 6/14), Finding Dory (Sat, 6/25)

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Editor’s note: Although Alice Through the Looking Glass has been chosen by the AMC and the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly Film, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for fantasy action/peril and some language. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

Study: Children of Obese Mothers May Die Younger in Adulthood

New research looking at the health outcomes for children of overweight or obese women has prompted a flurry of media headlines, with BBC News outlining that, “Children born to obese and overweight mothers are more likely to die early”.

The research examined a large group of 28,540 Scottish women who gave birth between 1950 and 1976. All the women had their body mass index (BMI) measured during pregnancy. The 37,709 children were linked through national registers to identify their hospital discharge and mortality records in adult life.

The researchers found that children born to overweight and obese mothers were more likely to die from any cause during follow-up, and were specifically more likely to die before the age of 55. They were also at an increased risk of hospital admission for a cardiovascular disease event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Lifespan-children-of-obese-mothersThe relationship between maternal weight during pregnancy and their child’s health outcomes is likely to be complex and involve many factors.

There are obvious environmental factors to consider, for instance. Children brought up in a household where unhealthy eating patterns are the norm are more likely to adopt these patterns themselves.

There may also be many hereditary factors influencing the child’s tendency to be overweight or obese, as well as their risk of disease.

Whatever the reasons for the association, this study reinforces the importance of women trying to achieve a healthy weight when planning to have a baby, as this may reduce the risk of complications in pregnancy.

Read more about obesity, pregnancy and safe ways to lose weight before you conceive.

Risks of obesity during pregnancy

In pregnancy, being obese increases the risk of a range of health problems for you and your baby. These include:

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Aberdeen and was funded by grants from the Scottish Chief Scientist Office and Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland, with additional support from Tommy’s and the British Heart Foundation.

It was published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal on an open access basis, so it is free to read or download.

The study was reported on accurately by the media, with stories including some additional useful advice from independent experts.

What kind of research was this?

Obesity is a global health problem, with many women of reproductive age who are overweight or obese.

The researchers say that previous studies have observed that babies who had adverse exposures while in the womb (suggested by a low birthweight) are more likely to have diseases in later life, in particular cardiovascular disease.

The current cohort study aimed to see whether maternal obesity during pregnancy is linked to their children having an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease in adult life. To do this, they used hospital admissions and mortality data for a large number of Scottish people whose mothers’ BMIs were recorded during pregnancy.

This is a good study design to look at whether a possible exposure (maternal obesity during pregnancy) is associated with an outcome (offspring cardiovascular disease). However, it cannot prove direct cause and effect. This is because the study is unlikely to be able to fully account for the many other hereditary, environmental and lifestyle factors that may be associated with both the mother’s risk of obesity and the child’s risk of cardiovascular disease. These confounders mean it is likely that there are multiple factors involved in the association seen in this study.

What did the research involve?

The research used the Aberdeen Maternity and Neonatal Databank (AMND), which has collected information about pregnancy events for women living in Aberdeen since 1950. Aberdeen is said to have a fairly stable population and the AMND has been regularly checked for completeness against NHS records.

All women who delivered a live single baby at full-term between 1950 and 1976 who also had their weight recorded at their first antenatal visit were identified. Women were grouped according to their BMI:

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5)
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9)
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9)
  • Obese (BMI great than 30)

Other data collected about the pregnancy included:

  • Maternal age
  • Number of previous pregnancies
  • Husband/partner’s social class
  • Gestation (number of weeks of pregnancy) at time of delivery
  • Birthweight
  • Sex of baby
  • Date of birth of baby

The babies’ birth records were linked to NHS Scotland, the Scottish General Register of Deaths and the Scottish Morbidity Record systems of the Information and Services Division.

Cardiovascular events in the offspring during their adult life (such as angina, heart attack or stroke) were identified using hospital discharge codes according to the international classification of diseases (ICD).

The researchers looked at the relationship between the mother’s BMI and risk of death, adjusting for the above variables measured during the pregnancy.

What were the basic results?

The research included 28,540 women who had their BMI measured during pregnancy and their 37,709 children.

Almost a quarter of the women (21%) were overweight during pregnancy and 4% were obese. Obese women tended to be older, of a lower social class, and had had more children.

Among the children there were 6,551 deaths from any cause (17% of the children). The leading cause of death was cardiovascular disease, followed by cancer.

After adjustment for the measured confounders, offspring born to overweight or obese mothers were 35% more likely to have died from any cause during follow-up than children born to normal-weight mothers (hazard ratio [HR]1.35, 95% confidence interval [CI]1.17 to 1.55).

When looking at the age of the offspring when they died, children born to overweight or obese mothers were significantly more likely to die at an earlier age (before the age of 55). Above the age of 55, there was no difference in risk of death than children born to normal-weight mothers.

Overall, 7.6% of the children were admitted to hospital with some form of cardiovascular disease event. Children born to overweight mothers were 15% more likely to have been admitted to hospital for any cardiovascular disease event (HR 1.15, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.26). Children born to obese mothers were 29% more likely (HR 1.29, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.57).

When looking at individual disease events, the pattern was less clear and significant associations were inconsistent. This may be because of the small number of disease events that could be linked with maternal BMI when the researchers divided the overall cardiovascular diseases into specific events.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers conclude that maternal obesity during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of their children’s earlier death.

They suggest that, “as one in five women in the United Kingdom is obese at antenatal booking, strategies to optimise weight before pregnancy are urgently required”.

Conclusion

This valuable research has examined a large cohort of 28,540 Scottish women who had their BMI measured during pregnancy and gave birth to a single baby between 1950 and 1976. Its strengths include the use of a reliable maternity database linking more than 80% of the offspring to national registers. This allowed the researchers to identify hospital discharges and mortality records for the children.

The study suggests a link between mothers who are overweight or obese during pregnancy and an increased risk of their children’s death overall – specifically prior to age 55 – as well as an increased risk of their children being admitted to hospital for a cardiovascular disease event.

The results perhaps seem unsurprising, but this study cannot prove that it is specifically maternal weight during pregnancy that directly influences the child’s risk of death.

Although the researchers attempted to adjust for confounders that they had measured during pregnancy, this is not a full set of influencing factors.

There are many factors that are likely to influence both the mother’s likelihood of being overweight or obese and her child’s risk of having cardiovascular disease or dying at a young age, as well as the child’s probability of being overweight or obese (although offspring BMI was not measured).

These factors include genetic make-up and a predisposition to specific body type or developing certain diseases. The parents are also likely to share certain lifestyle factors with their children, such as diet and exercise, at least in the earlier years.

Overall, however, this research does suggest that, whatever the underlying reasons, mothers who are overweight or obese during pregnancy are not only at risk of adverse health outcomes themselves, but their children may also be at risk of weight problems and poorer disease outcomes as they age.

For more advice, see the Planning for a baby feature, which is part of the NHS Choices Pregnancy and baby guide.

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter.

Summary

New research looking at the health outcomes for children of overweight or obese women has prompted a flurry of media headlines, with BBC News outlining that, “Children born to obese and overweight mothers are more likely to die early.

Links to Headlines

Links to Science

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 05-16-2016 to 05-22-2016

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Health News: Understanding the Learning Disability Assessment Process   https://t.co/NTUPvmP9wP  – a great first look

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Three Teens Reportedly Live-streamed Themselves Having Sex on Facebook
https://t.co/2ddesXgSmr