Child Health & Safety News: Wk 5 “Mold in Teething Toy”

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: Parents Be Warned: The Latest Social Media Challenge (Salt & Ice) Is Sending Kids to the Hospital with Burns https://t.co/2fe4Qs8SOz

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 social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we miss something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of this past week’s top 25 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Top Headline of the Week:
Is your child’s teething toy filled with mold? https://t.co/HiTla4TdIA

PedSafe Child Health & Safety #2 Headline of the Week:
Dad’s Don’t Babysit – They Parent! Terrific article by Ask Doctor G https://t.co/jQv0g2vfmX

Summer’s On the Way: How to Keep Your Kids Safe Near Water

girl swims with coachNow that the holidays have passed and the school year is back in full swing, the kids can see spring break and summer on the horizon. Spring break will be here in a few months and before you know it summer will be in full swing as well.  I realize that I am writing this from warm and sunny Miami and you may be reading this with 4 feet of snow outside but it does not change the fact that now is the time to start preparing for the summer activities and mainly the water activities.

Fire departments around the country prepare for summer with drowning and water rescue scenarios, so if your children do not yet know how to swim on their own then now is the time to start teaching them, or get them into classes that will prepare them for being in or around the water.   I think it goes without saying that water is deadly for anyone but mostly for children and not every child picks it up at the same pace.  Some kids pick it up right away and swim like little fish and some take longer so I am hoping that you can locate swimming classes in your area, but if you cannot please check websites like the Red Cross: Swim Class and Water Safety Training or your local Boys and Girls Clubs for classes in your area or at least for ones not too far away.

Giving your children a foundation in water safety and the ability to swim will serve them whether they are around a pool or out on a boat and will give you a little piece of mind that your child is prepared and will know what to do should an accident happen.

How To Avoid Accidentally Locking Your Kids In The Car

Mornings can be hectic with little kids, right? There are breakfasts to be made, lunches to be prepared, and  kids to be dressed, not including preparing yourself for your workday too. When all that is taken care of, you still have to get the kids into the car, along with whatever you need to take along for work that day.

little boy with car keys opening car doorAnd don’t forget the squabbling over rain coats, bickering over seating arrangements (but Mommy, I want to sit in his car seat today!) and then navigating the frustrations of rush hour traffic on the way to begin your day.

And there is the big chance that you forgot something very important.

It is very easy to be a distracted parent. There are so many curve-balls be tossed your way at once it can be hard to make heads and tails of the situation. Perhaps the biggest fear parents have in their morning routine is if they left something important at home. Did I grab enough diapers? Where’s the wallet? Do I have my phone? My keys? Did I make sure to turn off the stove?

And then there’s the remote possibility of accidentally locking your kids in the car.

Believe it or not, this kind of mental blunder is not uncommon to even the best parents. Most parents assume this would never happen to them… until it does.  Many times local locksmiths are called in to help open the doors of a car and liberate the tots inside.

The following are a few tips that parents have learned the hard way that can help you remember not to lock your kids inside a car:

No. 1 — ANY TIME you leave your vehicle, make sure you ALWAYS have your kids with you

While this may seem obvious, what this means is if you need to hop out to grab something really quick from the supermarket, take the kiddos with you! If your one-year old that has trouble sleeping has fallen asleep in the backseat, and you desperately need diapers, you have a choice to make – and neither option includes leaving him in the back seat. In many states this is required by law, especially in those states where the temperatures can get pretty high (such as Florida). By making this a habit, you will avoid leaving them in the car, and locking them in the car by accident.

No. 2 — Don’t leave your Keys where the kiddos can get them

Even if you are in the comfort of your home. The auto lock feature on the key fob makes it easy for even a small child to secure the vehicle with themselves inside. Spare keys are a must, and please don’t make the mistake of putting the spare key on the same ring with your primary key. Finding a competent locksmith to create a spare is far easier than having this job done at the dealers.

No. 3 — Pre-arranged Communications with your child’s caregiver

Make sure you are in constant communication with your child’s caregiver and that they will call you if your child does not show up at day care. Parents have been in such a flurry, they have left their child in the backseat of the car as they head to work. These are the absolute worst lock-ins as they can be potentially fatal.  There are “reminder” smartphone apps that require check-ins – if your child does not arrive at the caregiver’s location, a pre-programmed alert will be sent.

No. 4 — Check the Seat

Yes, a simple routine whenever you enter or exit your car should become second nature to a concerned parent. The same way you can check to make sure your keys, cellphone and wallet/purse are in your possession, you can flip your head to the backseat and make sure your little one is where he should be, Place a sign on the dashboard if it will help you remember.

No. 5— Have a Locksmith on Speed Dial

Despite taking every precaution accidents can and do happen, so have a plan in place for the “just in case” scenario, keeping in mind that the harshness of the situation will ultimately determine your response.  If it is at the height of the heat of the day, 80 degrees and climbing and your child is in the car, you will want immediate action. Call the police, ambulance, and attempt to break a window for entry into the car.

If it is cool outside, and your child hasn’t been in the car for long, you may want a less drastic option, such as calling your local locksmith. Locksmiths are typically on-call 24/7 and will have no problem showing up onsite to spring your tiny tot from their imprisonment.  If you need help finding one near you, and you are in the U.S., you can use this site for help in finding a local one near you.

In Conclusionyou must always be vigilant when it comes to car safety and your child. Parents tend to spend a lot of time researching the perfect car seat for their child in the event of a car accident, God forbid. However, they don’t really think that they’ll ever accidentally leave their child in the car. They don’t think they’ll ever be that sort of parent who could be so neglectful.

The truth is that it so easy to make the mistake of accidentally locking your child in the car. With the off chance of that happening, parents must remain vigilant and create a plan to prevent this situation ever happening.  Take these tips to heart.

Tomorrow, AMC is Screening Monster Trucks Sensory Friendly

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.

Does 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“.

Families affected by autism or other special needs can view a sensory friendly screening of Monster Trucks on Saturday, January 28th at 10am (local time). 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 February:  The Lego Batman Movie (Sat, 2/11), Rings (Tues, 2/14), Rock Dog (Sat, 2/25) and Fist Fight (Tues, 2/28)

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Editor’s note: Although Monster Trucks 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 action, peril, brief scary images, and some rude humor. 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: Does Screen Time Really Make Kids Naughty?

kids-TV-and-naughty-behavior“Watching TV for three hours a day will not harm your children”, The Independent reports. However, The Daily Express contradicts this, saying “Too much television turns children into monsters”. In this case, The Independent is closer to the truth.

It has long been said that too much TV or video games could be bad for children. The study reported in the news set out to discover whether there is any truth in this belief.

It was a large UK study, tracking children aged from five to seven years of age, to see what – if any – effect TV viewing and video game playing had on their behaviour, attention span, emotions and peer relationships.

  • Researchers found that regularly watching three hours a day was linked to a tiny increase in ‘conduct problems’ (essentially ‘being naughty’) after adjusting for many factors. This was just one of many outcomes the researchers examined. There was no evidence that TV viewing affected other issues, including hyperactivity, emotions and peer relationships.
  • Interestingly, there was also no association between time spent playing video games and any emotional or behavioural problems.

Unfortunately, this research can’t conclusively tell us if there’s a link between watching TV and psychological and behavioural problems. From these limited results, it seems that any such link is likely to be small. Other influences are very likely to play a more significant role in children’s developing emotions and behaviour.

How much TV should my child watch?

Unlike some other countries, including the US, there is no official UK recommendation on how much TV a child should watch. (Editor’s Note: click here for US screen time guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics)

A common sense approach suggests ‘everything in moderation’. Many programmes aimed at children are now designed to be stimulating or educational, so you may want to think about what programmes your kids watch, as well as how much. However, other activities such as regular exercise, playing with others, and reading are also important to their development.

Read more about exercise guidelines for children and play ideas and reading tips for children.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the Medical Research Council/SCO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow. It was funded by the UK Medical Research Council.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Archives of Disease in Childhood. This article was open-access, meaning that it is available free online.

The media reported this story from two opposing angles, with headlines either suggesting that watching TV does not harm children (The Independent, and BBC News), or concentrating on the small increase in conduct problems and suggesting that TV watching is linked to behavioural problems or that children are naughtier (The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail).

While a case could be made that the Telegraph and Mail’s headlines are accurate at face value – there was a very small increase in naughty behaviour – the tone of their headlines are not really a fair reflection of the findings of the study. However, the Daily Express claim that TV turns ‘kids into monsters’ is totally inaccurate.

What kind of research was this?

This was a cohort study. It aimed to determine whether there was a link between the amount of time spent watching TV and playing computer games at five years of age, and changes in psychosocial adjustment at seven years of age.

Cohort studies are the ideal study design for this type of research, although they cannot show causation. For example, in this study we cannot be sure that TV watching causes the increase in conduct problem score, as it could be that other factors, called confounders, are responsible for the link.

What did the research involve?

Mothers of 11,014 children in the UK Millennium Cohort study (a study of a sample of children born between September 2000 and January 2002) were asked questions about their children’s behaviour.

They were asked the typical time during term-time spent watching television and playing electronic games when children were five years of age. This was categorised into:

  • None
  • Less than one hour per day
  • Between one and less than three hours
  • Three hours to less than five hours
  • Between five hours and less than seven hours
  • Seven hours or more per day

Using the ‘Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire’, when children were five and seven years of age, researchers assessed:

  • Conduct problems
  • Emotional symptoms
  • Peer relationship problems
  • Hyperactivity/inattention
  • Prosocial behaviour (helpful behaviour)

The researchers collected information on maternal characteristics, family characteristics and family functioning (potential confounding factors), including:

  • Mother’s ethnicity, education, employment, and physical and mental health
  • Family’s household income
  • Family composition
  • Warmth and conflict in the mother-child relationship at three years of age – as assessed by interview
  • Frequency of parent-child joint activities at five years of age
  • “Household chaos” – a psychological term used to describe how chaotic or not daily life in the house tends to be in terms of issues such as sticking to set routines, household noise and how crowded the house is

The researchers also collected information on the child’s characteristics at five years of age, including:

  • Cognitive development (assessed by the researchers)
  • Whether they had a long-term illness or disability (reported by the mother)
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • The amount of physical activity they performed
  • Negative attitudes at school

The researchers then looked to see if there was an association between time spent watching television and playing electronic games and psychosocial problems, after adjusting for maternal characteristics, family characteristics and functioning, and child characteristics.

What were the basic results?

Almost two-thirds of children in this study watched between one hour and three hours of TV per day aged five years old, with 15% watching more than three hours of TV and very few children (<2%) watching no TV. The majority of children played computer games for less than one hour per day, with 23% of children playing for one hour or more.

Initially, the researchers found that exposure to either TV or games for three hours or more was associated with an increase in all problems, and three hours or more of TV with reduced prosocial behaviour. However, after maternal and family characteristics, child characteristics and family functioning were adjusted for, the researchers found that:

  • Watching TV for three hours or more per day at five years of age, compared to watching television for under an hour, predicted a 0.13 point increase (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.03 to 0.24) in conduct problems at seven years of age (after adjusting for the amount of time spent playing computer games).
  • No association between time spent watching TV and emotional symptoms, peer relationship problems, hyperactivity/inattention and prosocial behaviour was found.
  • The amount of time spent playing electronic games was not associated with any emotional or behaviour problems.
  • When television watching and time spent playing electronic games were considered together, it was again found that three hours or more per day of screen time was associated with a 0.14 point increase (95% CI 0.05 to 0.24) in conduct problems compared to scores for those who watched less than an hour, but that screen time was not associated with emotional symptoms, peer relationship problems, hyperactivity/inattention or prosocial behaviour.
  • There was no evidence that screen time had different effects on boys and girls.

The researchers report that the relationships remain the same when current (at age seven years) screen time was adjusted for.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that “TV but not electronic games predicted a small increase in conduct problems. Screen time did not predict other aspects of psychosocial adjustment.” The researchers go on to add that further work is required to establish the cause of these relationships.

Conclusion

This large UK cohort study has found that watching TV for three hours or more daily at five years predicted a small increase in conduct problems between the ages of five and seven years compared to watching TV for under an hour (0.13 point increase, on average). However, the time spent watching TV was not linked to hyperactivity/inattention, emotional symptoms, peer relationship problems, or prosocial behaviour.

The time spent playing electronic games was not associated with any emotional or behavioural problems.

Strengths of this study include the fact that it was large and well designed. It also accounted for many of the potential “confounding” factors (although there may still be others that weren’t accounted for), and examined TV/video/DVD watching (considered passive activities) and playing computer games (active activities) separately, which many previous studies have failed to do.

However, this study does have a significant limitation in that it relied on the mother’s reporting of both watching TV or playing computer games, and the child’s emotional and behavioural problems.

Although increased television watching was associated with an increase conduct problem score, it is not known whether the minimal point increases in average score for this sample between the ages of five and seven would actually make any noticeable difference to an individual child’s overall functioning and behaviour.

The study also suggests that family characteristics and functioning, and child characteristics also play an important role in the development of emotional and behavioural problems and that it may not be down to TV viewing alone.

Adjusting for confounders such as family composition, mother-child relationship and child’s activity levels had a significant effect on the initial results. This arguably suggests that these types of factors may have a considerable influence on how a child develops, rather than TV watching.

Given the lack of significant associations found between TV viewing and game playing and child psychosocial problems, no conclusive answers can be drawn from this study alone.

Further work is required to examine the child and family characteristics which could be targeted to improve outcomes.

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

Summary

“Watching TV for three hours a day will not harm your children”, The Independent reports. However, The Daily Express contradicts this, saying “Too much television turns children into monsters”. In this case.

Links to Headlines

Links to Science





Child Health & Safety News: Wk 4 “New Safety Std for Baby Slings”

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Health News: A host of common chemicals endanger child brain development  https://t.co/C8e15yqLLK

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 social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we miss something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of this past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
CPSC approves new safety standard for baby slings http://bit.ly/2kaSAsS