Can a Toothbrush Make You (or Your Family) Sick?

Last updated on June 25th, 2017 at 11:50 pm

Toothbrushes should be clean: After all, their whole purpose is to scrub all the germs out of your mouth. But as it turns out, a dirty toothbrush could make you sick.

“Bathrooms are moist and steamy: the conditions that bacteria love,” says Carol Wooden, a dental surgeon and spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. Research from the University of Birmingham School of Dentistry in the United Kingdom found as many as 1.2 million bacteria on a single toothbrush, while a recent study in the New York State Dental Journal that examined used toothbrushes discovered that 70 percent were heavily contaminated with different microorganisms.

 

The Filthy 5

These are five of the nastiest germs scientists have found hanging out on a toothbrush:

  1. Flu: Influenza causes fever, chills, coughing and achiness.
  2. Staph: Staphylococcus aureus is responsible for common skin infections (such as boils and styes) and can be more problematic if it enters your bloodstream.
  3. E. coli: Certain strains of these fecal bacteria can cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
  4. Yeast: Candida albicans (the fungus that causes yeast infections) was found on 70 percent of toothbrushes examined in a recent study from the University of Adelaide in Australia.
  5. Strep: Some kinds of streptococci bacteria lead to tooth decay; others (you guessed it) cause strep throat.

Healthy Toothbrush Tips

Fortunately, you probably don’t need to toss your toothbrush just yet. Even though certain germs have been identified on toothbrushes, that doesn’t mean you’ll catch something simply from polishing your pearly whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As long as you practice proper hygiene habits, it’s unlikely that bacteria on your toothbrush will make you sick,” says Dr. Neil Schachter, medical director of the respiratory care department at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and author of The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds and Flu. Follow these four rules to stay healthy:

1. Swap your brush. Replace your toothbrush (or the changeable head if you use an electric one) every three months, whenever you have a cold or the flu, or when the bristles look worn, suggests Wooden.

2. Flush carefully. Microorganisms go airborne when you flush the toilet — and they can land on your toothbrush. Keep your brush as far from the loo as possible and always close the lid before flushing.

3. Keep it to yourself. “Sharing toothbrushes can spread bacteria and viruses,” says Schachter. Even storing your toothbrush too close to someone else’s is unwise because bacteria can jump from one brush to another.

4. Wash away germs. Since bacteria from your mouth are transferred to your toothbrush every time you brush, you should always rinse your brush thoroughly afterward. “My main health concern is that small amounts of food can remain in the bristles, and if they’re not removed, they can spoil and cause gastrointestinal problems,” says Schachter. “It’s best to rinse your toothbrush in hot water after each use.” Want something stronger than water? Try dunking your brush in hydrogen peroxide or mouthwash, rinsing it with water and letting it air-dry, says Wooden.



TWO Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings in August: 8/6 & 8/27

Last updated on August 7th, 2011 at 09:34 pm

For those of you not familiar with ”Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings“, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other disabilities a special opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” 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.

To quote our Special Needs Parenting Expert Rosie Reeves: “It can be challenging enough to bring a child to a movie theater – they are dark, the sound is very loud, there are tempting stairs and rails and they are expected to sit still and stay quiet. When a child has special needs all these elements and many others can prove too daunting to even attempt such an outing. And yet getting out, being with the community and sharing in an experience with an audience can be invaluable for just such children – and their caregivers, too”.

On August 6th at 10am local time, “The Smurfs” will be screened as part of the “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program. On August 27th, “Spy Kids – All the Time in the World – In 4D” will be screened. 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.

Coming October 1st: Dolphin Tale

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Editor’s note: Both The Smurfs and Spy Kids 4 are rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America. Please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of The Smurfs or Spy Kids 4 to determine if either is right for you and your child.

Is Your Family Overeating?

Last updated on August 22nd, 2018 at 10:49 pm

It’s no secret that obesity has become a major health problem in the U.S. — for both adults and kids. Roughly one in five children between the ages of 6 and 11 is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and many more are overweight. So what’s to blame? Lack of exercise and poor food choices are prime suspects. But so is portion control — which for many families has spiraled out of control.

In the last 20 years, people’s idea of a serving size has ballooned, according to the National Institutes of Health. Two decades ago, the average bagel was 3 inches wide and 140 calories; today, it’s 6 inches wide and 350 calories. Back then, cheeseburgers had 330 calories; now they’ve nearly doubled. And the average serving of soda has more than tripled — from 6.5 ounces and 85 calories to 20 ounces and 250 calories.

“The media keeps telling us we need to eat more; everything is just bigger when you see it,” says Dr. Virginia Keane, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland Medical School. “And we have all-you-can-eat restaurants. We’ve lost control and community knowledge of what’s a normal portion.”

A portion is a fistful — the eater’s fistful, according to Keane. (If you or your child is very active, you may need more. If you’re inactive, you may need less.) Just by reducing your food intake to that amount, you’ll help your family lose weight or at least maintain it. And it’s easier than you think. Here are some suggestions for keeping portions in check:

Cook and eat at home.

The simplest way to avoid supersized portions is to prepare and serve your own meals. The key, according to Keane, is to cook only the amount you’ll need for that meal (no leftovers!) and serve everything on individual plates, not family style. The only exceptions: vegetables and salad. There’s no limit on veggies (as long as they’re not drenched in butter or doused with full-fat dressing), so everyone can take what they want.

Go halvsies.

If you’re at a restaurant, split dishes between two adults. If the kids’ meals are twice the appropriate portion size, do the same with them. If your family tends to eat whatever’s in front of them, ask to have half the portion put in a to-go container before it even hits the table.

Snack smaller.

When you sit down in front of the TV or computer, don’t bring that bag of pretzels or cookies with you. Instead, scoop out a small amount and put it in an individual bowl — and don’t let yourself go back for more. Put the rest of the bag on a top shelf or at least out of sight. Better yet, cut up some fruit and put it in individual bowls. Or pass out fruit roll-ups or cheese sticks — one per person.

Downsize, don’t supersize.

Instead of getting the double-patty cheeseburger with bacon, order the plain junior cheeseburger instead. If your value meal comes with medium fries and drink, opt to go a la carte and order smalls. Ask for a kid-size portion of ice cream instead of one, two or three regular scoops. If it doesn’t feel like enough, remind yourself that that’s what size a serving of ice cream used to be anyhow.



Raising “Onlies” – Parenting Tips for Only Children

Last updated on May 30th, 2017 at 10:07 pm

What research says on how “onlies” turn out and parenting tips for raising the fastest growing kid breed.

Your Trivial Pursuit question of the day: “What do these famous folks all have in common?”

Cary Grant. Elton John. Chelsea Clinton. Alan Greenspan. Gerald Ford. John the Baptist. Laura Bush. Hans Christian Anderson. Lance Armstrong. Pierce Brosnan. Carol Burnett. Walter Cronkite. Leonardo da Vinci. Mahatma Gandhi. Rudi Giuliani. Robert de Niro. Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt. Barbra Streisand. John Updike. John Lennon. Joe Montana. Charles Lindberg. Issac Newton. Cole Porter. Elvis Presley. Frank Sinatra. Gregory Peck. Ringo Starr. Condi Rice. Alicia Keys. Jean Paul Sartre. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

If you haven’t guessed, they’re all only children and they’re also a growing breed.

There are currently 20 million single-kid families in the US. The percentage of American women having only one child has more than doubled in 20 years to almost one quarter. (Time).

I was asked to share the latest research findings about only kids on the TODAY show as well as well as special tips to raise singletons. Here are a few tips from my TODAY show segment.

Why the New Down-Sizing Family Trend

The single-kid family is the fastest-growing family trend in the U.S. and most of Western Europe – for a number of reasons including these top three:

Recession and economic crunch. The recession has altered women’s child-bearing desires and for good reason. The average child in the U.S. costs parents about $286,050– before college. Sixty-four percent of women polled said that with the present economic crunch they couldn’t afford to have a baby now; 44 percent plan to reduce or delay childbearing.

Single motherhood increasing. A record 4 in 10 (41%) births were to unmarried women in 2008 which is up 28% since 1990. Single moms is a fast growing breed and many are choosing to adopt and remain single.

Delaying motherhood (marrying later, education, career). The percentage of women giving birth for first time at age 35 or older has increased eight-fold since 1970; among women 40 to 44, the birth rate grew 1 percent to 9.5 births per 1000 women – one of the highest rates ever.

Projections show that the number of only children in the U.S. will keep growing and the new trend is the “down-sized” family.

The Benefits of Raising Only Children

As with every birth order, there are unique pluses and minuses. Here are the top benefits of raising an only child according to the research:

  • Finances and resources: We can give our “onlies” more financial advantages because we don’t have to share our bank accounts amongst other siblings. The benefits of extra financial resources for tutoring and experiences seem to make a big difference in how only kids turn out.
  • Greater parental attention and energy: An only child does have a huge advantage in the self-esteem and confidence department because they have all their parents’ attention and energy and don’t have to divvy up their parent’s love with sibs.
  • Higher academic attainment: Singletons have an edge when it comes to achievement, standardized tests, SATs and intelligence. A 20-year study found only children have higher education levels, higher test scores, better vocabularies, and higher levels of achievement. The chief reason: we give “onlies” our undivided attention and talk more one-on-one so their vocabularies increase – which is an IQ booster. The drawback on this is that we can put too high of expectations on our “one and only” child. Make sure you don’t expect this lone offspring to “complete” you just because she is your one and only.
  • Closer parent-relationship: No guarantees but for the most part only kids grow up to be happy with closer parent-relationships. (Interestingly enough, anxiety about being the sole caretaker for aging parents is a top only child concern).

The Origin of Those Negative Only Kid Stereotypes

Spoiled. Arrogant. Bossy. Selfish. Maladjusted. Lonely. Bratty. Those are just a few terms often used to describe only children. But where did they come from? Are only kids really doomed?

Turns out all those negative stereotypes about only kids were based on research conducted over 120 years ago by one psychologist, Granville Stanley Hall. Though the 1896 study, “Of Peculiar and Exceptional Children,” proved to be poorly designed (and would be thrown out of psych text books today), it somehow perpetuated a myth that only kids are oddballs and permanent misfits.

The latest studies refute those negative stereotypes of “onlies” and give a far more accurate as well as positive view that should give parents big sighs of relief.

A study of over 20,000 kindergarteners found that teachers rated students with at least one sibling as better able to form and maintain friendships and get along. But those same researchers just released Part II of that study and found that when only kids become adolescents the “lonely” edge decreases. In fact, there was no difference in the social skills of onlies vs. kids with siblings if their parents provided social opportunities.

Parenting Tips to Raise an Adjusted, Happy Only

Every child needs a boost in some area regardless of family size so singletons are no different than other kids. The key parent question is to ask what your child may be missing because of his or her unique growing up experiences, and then find “fill in” the void with the right opportunities. Here are the top three “issues” and solutions:

1. Dethrone your only

Because they are the one and only, they do stand the risk of acting a bit “entitled” which is a huge peer turn off. So beware that you don’t put your kid on center stage or give him the impression that the world revolves around him (even though in your eyes I’m sure he does).

2. Provide social skill opportunities

Find those social outlets for your child to be with other kids so she can learn those essential friendship-making traits: play dates, playgroups, a babysitting cooperative, scouting, church groups, family gatherings with cousins, holidays with friends, neighborhood kids, T-ball, summer camps, Boys and Girls Clubs, and sleepovers are just a few of many options to be on the alert for.

3. Help your child learn to solve conflicts

“Onlies” might have trouble solving conflicts, handling teasing, negotiating or compromising because they don’t have brothers and sisters to help them learn those skills in those day-to-day tiffs and teases. So try not to raise your only child with kid gloves. And make sure you find ways to help your child resolve conflicts and negotiate hot-button issues so she has those skills to handle the real world.

4. Stretch unique talents and strengths

If you’re a parent of an only child, I’d advise you to just do what every other parent should do: reflect on our child’s own unique talents, interests, passions, personality and temperament. Then look at the activities and interests in which she currently partakes.

Do they match her natural nature? Will they stretch his unique talents and strengths? Or are those activities more in sync with what you hope she will enjoy or your own talents, strengths, skills or memories?

Help your child become his own person. After all, your son or daughter deserves that privilege – as does every child.

Breathe: The Kids Will Be All Right (Really!)

If you’re wondering if “onlies” should be treated any differently that kids from multi-sibling families, relax. The single greatest correlation of what raises an emotionally healthy kid has nothing to do with birth order or family size. What matter more in how our kids turn out is our parenting style and how we interact with our kids.

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Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions has been released and is now available at amazon.com.

Prevent – and Treat – Your Kids’ Summer Skin Problems

Last updated on June 25th, 2018 at 02:57 pm

Protecting a young child’s delicate skin is a year-round responsibility for parents, but it’s especially important in the summer months when so much skin is uncovered and vulnerable to a host of warm-weather rash inducers. “There are definitely some types of skin rashes that we see a lot more of in the summer months, like sunburn and insect bites and stings,” says Dr. Kelly McClean, a dermatologist for adults and children at the University of Michigan Health System, in Ann Arbor.

Below, McClean and Dr. Brandie Metz (assistant clinical professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine) recommend safety tips to prevent and treat the most common summer rashes:

Sunburn

Prevent it: Proper sun protection techniques are important not just because they’ll keep your little one from getting a red, painful burn, says McClean. “We know that ultraviolet radiation increases the risk for skin cancers later in life, and it can also accelerate photoaging of the skin.”

The first line of defense should be covering up: Wear a hat and sun-protective clothing, stay in the shade as much as possible and wear sunglasses to protect the eyes. Kids need a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. The best time to slather it on is before you leave the house. “Once you get to the pool or beach, kids are excited about getting into the water or playing in the sand, and they’re less likely to stand still,” says McClean.

Even if your child always tans and never burns, that’s no excuse not to take sun protection seriously, adds McClean. “Parents have this misconception that a tan is safe, but what a tan means is that the skin has been damaged by the sun as well.” And if you’re cutting back on sunscreen because you’re concerned about vitamin D deficiencies, think again, says Metz. “Using sunscreen isn’t going to lead to a vitamin D deficiency. Most people reach their maximum production of vitamin D after only about five minutes in the sun,” she says.

Treat it: To treat sunburn, use cool compresses to bring down the temperature of the skin, or have your child take a cool bath. Avoid products with an anesthetic, “basically anything that ends in ‘caine,’ because that will just further irritate the skin,” says Metz. Any blistering burn requires a doctor’s attention.

Insect Bites

Prevent it: The most effective insect repellants contain the chemical DEET — but be sure the products you use on kids contain no more than 10 percent. “The best approach is to spray the repellant on the clothing rather than on skin,” says Metz. Stay away from products that combine DEET and sunscreen. “Sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently, and DEET does not,” she says. But when you use products that contain both, “you end up putting on too much insect repellant or not enough sunscreen.”

Treat it: Treat itchy bug bites with an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion.

Poison Ivy

Prevent it: You know that old saying, “Leaves of three, leave them be?” Turns out not all plants that cause an itchy rash have three leaves, says Metz. “Poison sumac can have seven or more leaves, so you really need to learn to recognize all the poisonous plants.”

The best prevention is to wear long pants and long sleeves during hikes. Also be aware that your child doesn’t have to touch the plant directly to come in contact with the plant oils. “If your pets run around in the woods, they can have the oil on their fur and kids can get it by touching the pet,” says McClean. But it’s a myth that rash can spread from person to person: Once the oil from the plant has been washed off the skin, you’re no longer contagious.

Treat it: For rashes from poison ivy and other similar plants, Metz usually recommends OTC hydrocortisone cream as well as an oral antihistamine.

Heat Rash

Prevent it: First-time moms often make the mistake of bundling up newborns too much in the warmer months. “Sweat ducts get clogged up and red bumps appear, especially in the skin folds,” says McClean.

To prevent heat rash, make sure you dress your baby in layers so you can easily remove unneeded clothing.

Treat it: The rash usually disappears soon after you cool down the skin by removing excess clothing and blankets. “Never put a cream or ointment on a heat rash,” says Metz, “because that will just further clog the pores and make the rash worse.”



It’s Our 2 Yr Bloggiversary! Join Our “Help Save a Child” Giveaway!

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 11:36 am

We want to jump up and down and shout from the rooftops…
It’s been 2 YEARS since we launched Pediatric Safety!!

Back in 2009, our goal was to create a place where everyone who cares about children’s health and safety could get together to stay informed on the topics that have the potential to affect them and the children in their care. Since our launch, we’ve had the fortune to meet and work with some wonderful folks – a pediatrician, a nurse and child safety expert, a family psychologist, a water safety specialist, a dentist, an environmental safety lawyer, an EMS safety specialist and a special needs parenting expert – all of whom volunteered their time to help make this site a community where you can find answers and hopefully give answers to others when they need them. At it’s heart, it’s a place where people can support each other – the village needed to raise a child. If we’ve been able to accomplish even a little of that, then this has been 2 years well spent

So where does this “Giveaway” thing come in??? We want to celebrate…and we’re hoping you’ll join us AND maybe help save a child’s life all at the same time! 🙂

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, (NCMEC), is a private, nonprofit organization created over 25 years ago to serve as the nation’s resource on the issues of missing and sexually exploited children.. As of 1984, police could enter information about stolen cars, stolen guns, and even stolen horses into the FBI’s national crime computer – but not stolen children. That is no longer the case. Thanks to NCMEC, more missing children come home safely today and more is being done today to protect children than anytime in the nation’s history. And in light of the recent tragedy in New York where a young boy was abducted and killed after getting lost on his way home from camp, we’d like to lend them a hand…

Introducing: Pediatric Safety’s “Help Save a Child and We ALL Win” Giveaway

Something for the kids…and a little something for you too!!

  • For each person who signs up to join the Pediatric Safety community, we will donate $1 to NCMEC
  • And for two first place winners – to thank you for helping us celebrate 2 years of making a difference, we’d like to give you each
    a $25 Amazon gift card.

Here’s How it Works:

For your MANDATORY ENTRY:

  • Register to join the Pediatric Safety Community by clicking here and select “I just joined” on the form below. . If you are already a member of Pediatric Safety, then select “I am already registered” on the form below Also, it’s not required but we’d love if you leave us a comment below.

For your BONUS ENTRIES:

  • Retweet one of the following:
    • “Amazon gift card 4 u & $1 for Nat’l Center for Miss & Exploited Children! Help celebrate our 2 yr Bloggiversary http://tinyurl.com/3m3f3m5” (you may tweet this once daily = 1 entry)
    • “Help celebrate 2 yrs for @pediatricsafety! Join us & we’ll donate $1 to the Nat’l Ctr for Miss & Exploit Children http://tinyurl.com/3m3f3m5” (you may tweet this once daily = 1 entry)
  • Click on the “Share This” at the bottom of this post & submit this to your favorite social network (= 1 entry)
  • Blog about this giveaway and link to this post http://tinyurl.com/3m3f3m5 (=2 entries)

Below you will find our CONTEST ENTRY FORM. After you have completed either your MANDATORY entry or one of the BONUS entries please fill this out. For simplicity you can use this form for each bonus entry – simply skip the mandatory entry box and check the “bonus entry” box

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Contest Rules:

Giveaway is open to readers in the USA and Canada only. Giveaway starts Tuesday July 19, 2011 (our Bloggiversary) and ends at 5pm EST Friday July 29, 2011. Please fill out a separate form for the mandatory entry and for each bonus entry so we can make sure each entry gets counted. (…that means if you completed a bonus that has 2 entries, please submit 2 forms). Please make sure each form has your name and a valid email address. Winner chosen using random.org. You will have 48 hours to email us if you win. Good Luck to all entrants!

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**THE GIVEAWAY HAS NOW CLOSED**

Our 2 Winners are:

#17 Paul Shearer

#12 Christel Ide

Thank you to all participants!