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Child Health & Safety News 10/16: Home Fire Drill 2 Minute Test

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Safety News: What pediatrician mothers want you to know bit.ly/2xp4Pwh

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 overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed.  Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 20 events & stories.

  • Sesame Street, World Vision partnership now in 11 countries, reaching refugee kids with lifesaving health & hygiene lessons bit.ly/2zblL67 2017-10-15
  • UK restaurant tricks putting your child’s health at risk with jaw-dropping levels of salt, fat & sugar dailym.ai/2gcIzek 2017-10-15
  • Fidgets can enhance concentration, provide calming for special needs students bit.ly/2xETxEh 2017-10-15
  • Facebook Says Its Fake News Label Helps Reduce The Spread Of A Fake Story By 80% bzfd.it/2hFFpjs 2017-10-14
  • AAPedDentists issued the 1st evidence-based guideline on the use of SDF to treat cavities in pediatric patients bit.ly/2geNMWC 2017-10-14
  • Health Care Cuts Put 50,000 Hudson Valley Children at Risk bit.ly/2xC7T3j 2017-10-13

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
The Old School Family Safety Drill You Still Need to Practice bit.ly/2xzeuf7
Could Your Family Pass the 2 Minute Evacuation Test?

  • When Should Your Child Have a First Eye Exam? cle.clinic/2z2si2S 2017-10-13
  • How to Stop Cyberbullying: Digital Citizenship for Children zpr.io/ngE6w 2017-10-13
  • My Little Pony: The Movie is Sensory Friendly 2x in October at AMC zpr.io/ngxQP 2017-10-13
  • Special Needs Kids Are All Around Us – Please Teach Acceptance – Thurs Time Capsule bit.ly/2yhDpYK 2017-10-12
  • Are You Keeping Your Grandkids Safe?? bit.ly/2fYaA8Y 2017-10-11
  • Bullying harms children’s mental health, but for how long? bit.ly/2fXn4Ok  2017-10-11
  • Is Your Teenager In An Abusive Relationship? You CAN Help!zpr.io/ngfPk 2017-10-11
  • Babywearing improves child’s health, promotes attachment bit.ly/2fQBjV7 2017-10-10
  • Ending child marriage critical to achieving sustainable development goals – affects 15 million girls each year bit.ly/2yafeLf 2017-10-09
  • Child Oral Health Concerns bit.ly/2yQnSfi 2017-10-09
  • Carbon Monoxide is a Silent Killer…How to Keep Your Family Safe zpr.io/n6emV 2017-10-09
  • Sensory Friendly Screening: Blade Runner 2049 Tomorrow at AMC zpr.io/n6eXq 2017-10-09

Shame Nation: Choose To Be Part Of “The Solution”

It was July and I was at home when I got a call from my niece.  She and my sister were driving somewhere, and I remember this particular call because it went something like this…

    • “Hey Aunt Stef…you’ve got to check this out…it’s the funniest thing…You remember when we did that show Legally Blonde?  Well there’s this group of young kids, and I guess they did a performance of it too, only their teacher video-taped it and posted it on YouTube and oh my G-d Aunt Stef, it’s awful.  I mean it’s so bad it’s funny.  You’ve got to watch it.  Here let me text you some of it.” 
    • No that’s ok babe, I don’t need to see it”…
    • “Really Aunt Stef, it’s sooo funny, mom watched it and she thought it was hysterical.  I can’t believe their teacher posted this.  It went viral so fast it’s incredible.  Look I know it’s really long but you can fast forward through some of it, I’ll tell you where the funniest parts are”.
    • Honey…how old are these kids?”  
    • “I don’t know…I think they’re in middle school… Look Aunt Stef I’ve got to go, I just texted it to you…watch it later and tell me what you think. You’re going to die laughing…. I love you!!”

I didn’t check it out.  But I also didn’t tell her not to.  And that bothered me.  Something felt really wrong with this video. I was worried about those little kids…I was worried FOR those little kids.  How old were they.  How long had this been going viral, and how many people around the world were laughing at them.  I knew for a fact my niece and her friends at school were…and still, even though it bothered me…I said and did nothing.

When I look back at it now, I think it’s because my niece and her friends weren’t bad or mean kids. Actually quite the opposite. My niece is a gifted and talented young actress studying at a high school for the arts, and I am incredibly proud of her, but for a very different reason. I can say without a doubt that she is one of the nicest, kindest people I know, and she would NEVER deliberately hurt someone!  In fact, she feels things very deeply. Yet she missed this! She didn’t see the pain she and the other people watching and laughing over that video were causing.

How the heck did we get here??? To this place where we can sit in a room and make fun of someone who is not there to defend themselves and have no sense at all that our laughing at them could be hurting them.

That is EXACTLY what nationally recognized speaker, parent advocate, and Internet safety expert Sue Scheff explores with the help of journalist, YA author, and blogger Melissa Schorr in her newly released book Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate. Sue knows firsthand how devastating cyber shaming can be. In 2006 she won a landmark case for Internet defamation and invasion of privacy. Now a leader in the movement against cyber bullying, she focuses on teaching others how to avoid virtual cruelty and how to effectively react when it occurs. 

According to Shame Nation, psychologists point to several factors that have allowed online cruelty like this to flourish:

  • the anonymity of the Internet;
  • the distance, or lack of face-to-face contact, with a victim,
  • mob mentality run amok,
  • lack of gatekeepers and
  • lack of consequences.

Taken together these factors have become known as the “online disinhibition effect”, the notion that people behave far differently online than they would in reality.

But it’s more than that. It’s also due in part to our failure to instill empathy in young people, and Shame Nation explores this as well. Parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba, EdD, author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World makes a strong case that a decrease in basic empathy has created a culture ripe for online attacks. The inability to see those on the other side of the computer screen as people deserving of our compassion is a huge driver. Instead of feeling sad for their pain, we make it funny. We sit at home and watch the “People of Walmart” and laugh as people are publicly shamed. You don’t see or feel the hurt…it’s so far removed, it’s not “real”.

That was what happened with the middle-school performance of Legally Blonde.  My niece missed the ball on this one.  There was an opportunity to be an “Upstander” …not just a bystander…or worse, add to the teasing and humiliation, and she missed it.  But whose fault was that really?  If I’m being honest, it was mine

I’m the adult, I set the example. This means I and the other adults in her life need to know what’s happening out in the cyber-world so I can educate her.  So she knows what to look for to avoid becoming a victim…or inadvertently a bully.

And while we’re on this subject, I know some of you may be thinking “lock her in her room and for anything other than schoolwork, shut off the internet and all those damn devices” is the answer. But while it may sound good on paper, realistically, I can’t tell her to stay off-line. No-one can. For better or worse, this is a connected world we live in…all of us… kids and adults. Going off the grid is just not an option – and it won’t save her. As Nancy Jo Sales describes in her book American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, “I spoke to girls who said, “Social media is destroying our lives.  But we can’t go off it, because then we’d have no life.”

So my niece is on the grid (and I am guessing if you are reading this, so is a child you care about), and she is not getting off any time soon – not as a child, and realistically not as an adult.  But I can help her. I can:

  • Teach her how to avoid trouble: give her guidelines for online sharing; show her how to protect her online identify and run regular checkups to make sure no-one is damaging her reputation
  • Teach her how to control a disaster if things go wrong: how to document, block, report and identify someone trying to harm her.
  • Teach her how to get support: to take advantage of resources like HeartMob and Crisis Text Line and Online SOS…and know there are systems in place providing help, from simple letters of support to full-on legal aid, if she finds herself a victim of a digital attack.

Because that’s what I learned from Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate

And finally, I can Teach her to be an Upstander. I can explain what that word is, why it’s important to stand-up for someone else.  And then I can apologize for not doing that…and for failing her and those kids. And that’s when I realized if I didn’t do something right at that moment, I would be failing them both again.

So I picked up the phone and called her.  And it was a difficult call. Because while it was about something she had done, in truth, it was more about what I hadn’t done. And my very sensitive niece brought up an excellent argument – one I’m betting every one of you will have to deal with at some point, because it’s really fundamental to the Upstander / bystander question:

  • “But Aunt Stef, I don’t think there’s really anything I could have done…there were millions of people…that post went viral”.

She had a point – but then again, that’s the battle every single person faces when they’re being bullied online.  They’re one person and it feels like they’re fighting the world. That’s what made this book so insightful, and so powerful, at least for me.  What do you do…what can you do…if you come up against this situation…  Whether you are living this or just witnessing this.  This was my answer…

“Well, hon, what do you think about this”…and I gave her an example I had read (thank you Sue) about a heavy-set middle-aged man who was being publicly humiliated.  All he did was dance at a local bar with friends, but someone captured it on video and posted it and the rude comments started coming in from all over.  Until two women in LA created a #FindDancingMan twitter campaign, said “I’d dance with that guy”, and created a movement that turned the shaming into a party of compassion.

    • “I’m not saying you have to create a “dancing man campaign” but do you think you and your friends could come up with something creative that might make those kids feel even just a little bit better?”

     

      • I don’t know…maybe”.

And just like that, this HUGE weight came off my shoulders.  She didn’t have to have an answer… that wasn’t the magic pill here.  She’s a brilliant kid with a big heart and this hit home.  I stood up for those kids…and for her …and I think when she has an opportunity, she will stand up for someone else.

It has to start somewhere…  That day, it started with us…

Child Health & Safety News 10/9: Sextortion -Parents Need To Know

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: How ‘Sesame Street’ is helping kids learn to cope with trauma abcn.ws/2fYmZ0x 

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 overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed.  Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • Daan Utsav: Bringing Quality Healthcare To Underprivileged Children bit.ly/2hXQkJ0 2017-10-08
  • Does a Parent’s Age Have an Effect on Child Development? bit.ly/2yvh8ax 2017-10-08
  • 85% of Parents Are Giving Time-Outs Wrong bit.ly/2xoaoLH 2017-10-08
  • A growing backlash among young people disillusioned with the negative side of tech, such as online abuse & fake news bit.ly/2xkEYWg 2017-10-07
  • 3 ways to boost your child’s health through their gut bit.ly/2g0Tpr7 promoting healthy gut bacteria that can last a lifetime 2017-10-06
  • For Children With Severe Anxiety, Drugs Plus Therapy Help Best n.pr/2xdDVHJ 2017-10-06

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Why Every Parent Needs to Know About Sextortion thebea.st/2y1e2YW
it’s the fastest growing crime against kids on the internet!

  • West VA senators back reauthorizing the 20 yr old CHIP (childrens health insur plan) which expired this month bit.ly/2yI0cdd 2017-10-06
  • Did You Know..Every 2 weeks a child dies from a “tipover”? – Thurs Time Capsule 09/11 bit.ly/2x1Lkqe  2017-10-05
  • 9 million kids get health insurance under CHIP. Congress just let it expire. wapo.st/2xQBacw  2017-10-04
  • Quarter of young people admit to bullying someone online bit.ly/2xf2e3h 2017-10-04
  • Rett Syndrome: The Little Girl’s Disease Nobody Knows zpr.io/n6Y2H 2017-10-04
  • Page Turners for Grade Schoolers bit.ly/2xOQbLZ ..books that are “safe” for young readers not quite ready for mature content 2017-10-03
  • Women’s Choice Award® Announces Best Children’s Hospitals for 2018Awards to recognize excellence in pediatric care read.bi/2xUqUl8 2017-10-03
  • Feds push flu shots; 105 US children died from the flu last year detne.ws/2xEjlQ3 2017-10-02
  • An ADHD Dog Trainer Shows Special Kids How To Use Calm Energy zpr.io/n6P5E 2017-10-02

Rett Syndrome: The Little Girl’s Disease Nobody Knows

Rett syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects brain development, resulting in severe mental and physical disability.

It is estimated to affect about 1 in 12,000 girls born each year and is only rarely seen in males.

This page covers:

Signs and symptoms

Some children with Rett syndrome are affected more severely than others. Also, the age at which symptoms first appear varies from child to child.

A child with Rett syndrome may not have every symptom listed below, and their symptoms can change as they get older.

Rett syndrome is described in four stages, although symptoms will often overlap between each stage. The main features of each stage are described below.

Stage One: Early Signs

At first, the child will appear to develop and grow normally for at least six months, although (especially with hindsight) there may be subtle signs of Rett syndrome before the child is recognized as having a problem.

Stage one is sometimes described as ‘stagnation’ because the child’s development slows down or stops altogether. Symptoms include:

  • low muscle tone (hypotonia)
  • difficulty feeding
  • unusual, repetitive hand movements or jerky limb movements
  • delay with development of speech
  • mobility problems, such as problems sitting, crawling and walking
  • lack of interest in toys

These symptoms typically begin during the period from six to 18 months of life and often last for several months, although they can persist for a year or more.

Stage one can often go unnoticed by the child’s parents and by healthcare professionals because the changes occur gradually and may be subtle.

Stage Two: Regression

During stage two, known as ‘regression’ or the ‘rapid destructive stage’, the child starts to lose some of their abilities. This stage usually begins between the ages of one and four and may last for any time from two months to more than two years.

The child will gradually or suddenly start to develop severe problems with communication and language, memory, hand use, mobility, co-ordination and other brain functions. Some of the characteristics and behaviours are similar to those of autism spectrum disorder.

Signs at this stage include:

  • loss of the ability to use the hands purposefully – repetitive hand movements are often difficult to control and include wringing, washing, clapping or tapping
  • periods of distress, irritability and sometimes screaming for no obvious reason
  • social withdrawal – a loss of interest in people and avoidance of eye contact
  • unsteadiness and awkwardness when walking
  • problems sleeping
  • slowing of head growth
  • difficulty eating, chewing or swallowing, and sometimes constipation that may cause tummy aches

Later on during regression, the child may experience periods of rapid breathing (hyperventilation) or slow breathing, including breath-holding. They may also swallow air which can lead to abdominal bloating.

Stage Three: Plateau

Stage three of Rett syndrome can begin as early as two years of age or as late as 10 years of age. It often lasts for many years, with many girls remaining in this stage for most of their lives.

During stage three, some of the problems that occurred at stage two may get better – for example, there may be improvements in behaviour, with less irritability and crying.

The child may become more interested in people and their surroundings, and there may be improvements in alertness, attention span and communication. Their walking ability may also improve (or they may learn to walk, if they were previously unable to do so).

On the downside, problems that can arise during stage three include:

  • seizures, which become more common
  • irregular breathing patterns may get worse – for example, shallow breathing followed by rapid, deep breathing, or breath holding
  • teeth grinding
  • some children may develop heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias)

Gaining and maintaining weight can also be difficult to achieve.

Stage Four: Deterioration In Movement

Stage four can last for years or even decades. The main symptoms at this stage are:

  • development of a spinal curve (the spine bending to the left or right side), known as scoliosis
  • muscle weakness and spasticity (abnormal stiffness, particularly in the legs)
  • losing the ability to walk

Communication, language skills and brain function don’t tend to get any worse during stage four. The repetitive hand movements may decrease and eye gaze usually improves.

Seizures also usually become less of a problem during adolescence and early adult life, although they will often be a lifelong problem to manage.

What causes Rett syndrome?

Almost all cases of Rett syndrome are caused by a mutation (a change in the DNA) in the MECP2 gene, which is found on the X chromosome (one of the sex chromosomes).

The MECP2 gene contains instructions for producing a particular protein (MeCP2), which is needed for brain development. The gene abnormality prevents nerve cells in the brain from working properly.

There’s usually no family history of Rett syndrome, which means it isn’t passed on from one generation to the next. Almost all cases (over 99%) are spontaneous, with the mutation occurring randomly. This is known as a ‘de novo’ mutation.

Diagnosing Rett syndrome

Rett syndrome is usually diagnosed based on your child’s symptoms, and by ruling out other more common disorders.

A diagnosis of Rett syndrome may not be made for a number of years because the syndrome is so rare and symptoms don’t tend to appear until a child is between six and 18 months old.

A genetic blood test can be used to identify the genetic mutation responsible for Rett syndrome (although it isn’t found in every child with the syndrome). If a change is found in the MECP2 gene, it can help confirm the diagnosis, but failing to find it doesn’t necessarily rule out the syndrome.

Read more about genetic testing.

Managing Rett syndrome

There’s no cure for Rett syndrome, so treatment focuses on managing the symptoms.

As a parent caring for a child with the syndrome, it’s likely you’ll need help and support from a wide range of healthcare professionals.

Your child may benefit from some of the following treatments and aids:

  • speech and language therapy, picture boards, eye gaze technology and other visual aids to help with communication
  • medication for breathing and mobility problems, and anti-epileptic medicine to control seizures
  • physiotherapy, attention to mobility, careful attention to your child’s sitting posture (to minimize the chances of scoliosis developing), and frequent changes in posture
  • if scoliosis does become established, a back brace and sometimes spinal surgery may be used to prevent the spine curving further (read more about treating scoliosis)
  • a high-calorie diet to help maintain sufficient weight, with the use of a feeding tube and other feeding aids if necessary
  • occupational therapy to help develop the skills needed for dressing, feeding and other daily activities
  • an ankle-foot orthosis (lower leg brace) to help them walk independently
  • a hand splint to help control hand movements, if these are severe (they’re mainly used for limited periods to prevent self-injury or to encourage activities with the other hand)
  • beta-blocker medication or a pacemaker to control their heart rhythm

Therapeutic horse riding, swimming, hydrotherapy and music therapy have also been reported to be beneficial. Ask your healthcare team where you can access these therapies.

Read more about caring for a disabled child and care equipment, aids and adaptations.

Outlook

Although some people with Rett syndrome may retain a degree of hand control, walking ability and communication skills, most will be dependent on 24-hour care throughout their lives.

Many people with Rett syndrome reach adulthood, and those who are less severely affected can live into old age. However, some people die at a fairly young age as a result of complications, such as heart rhythm abnormalities, pneumonia and epilepsy.

Advice for carers (*caregivers)

Caring for a child with Rett syndrome is mentally and physically challenging. Most carers will need social and psychological support.

Your guide to care and support** (for our UK readers) provides lots of information and advice about how you can take time to look after yourself, including:

You may also find it useful to contact a support group, such as Rett UK** for information and advice about looking after a child with the syndrome.

National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Diseases Registration Service

If your child has Rett syndrome, your clinical team will pass information about him or her on to the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Diseases Registration Service (NCARDRS).**

This helps scientists look for better ways to treat and prevent the syndrome. You can opt out of the register at any time.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

OCTOBER IS RETT SYNDROME AWARENESS MONTH!

** Resources in the United States

For more information and to donate to Rett Syndrome research:

Meet Miss Maddie!  Madelyne Rae was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome on January 17, 2017. She was 27 months old at that time. Since her diagnosis Maddie has had several hospital stays for seizures, metabolic acidosis and for feeding tube placement. Maddie recently celebrated her third birthday! She’s learning to communicate using an eye-gaze, speech-generating device called a Tobii Dynavox. She stays active with her adaptive bicycle and goes to school full-time.

 

NHS Choices logo


From www.nhs.uk





Child Health & Safety News 10/2: Whole30 during Pregnancy?

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: Photo Of Mom’s Horrific Car Accident Goes Viral For Important Message: This is why you buckle in safely EVERY time oxygen.tv/2fBchZV

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 overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed.  Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • What Is the Tango App and Is It Safe? bit.ly/2yBnlO9 2017-10-01
  • Some preventative tips during National SIDS Awareness Month bit.ly/2fBtlPp 2017-10-01
  • WHO recommends large-scale treatment for intestinal worms to improve children’s health and nutrition bit.ly/2fzDAnB 2017-10-01
  • Increased asthma in kids w/ families struggling financially sparks push to improve military kids’ health care on.mgmadv.com/2fAvHOE 2017-09-30

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Is it Safe to Whole30 During my Pregnancy? bit.ly/2fIAoqh
Note: Always check with your doctor

  • 14 Year old recognized for saving young child from drowning bit.ly/2xENA9K 2017-09-30
  • Pediatric Safety – Kids Who Care – Issue #1  bit.ly/2xLV631  2017-09-29
  • Keeping Your Family Safe from MRSA -Thurs Time Capsule 09/11 bit.ly/2f7U35C  2017-09-28
  • How to Raise Healthy Vegetarian and Vegan Children zpr.io/nnm3e 2017-09-27
  • Millions of kids in developing countries aren’t properly developing cognitive learning skills  nyp.st/2fHQ4K5 2017-09-26
  • Concerns about ADHD – introduction and overview bit.ly/2xnWS9M2017-09-19
  • NY Times Opinion | California’s Sexual Assault Law Will Hurt Black Kids nyti.ms/2hp0fmY 2017-09-25
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle is Sensory Friendly Tomorrow at AMC zpr.io/nnGQm 2017-09-25
  • 2017 Parent Empathy Pledge: Focus on the “Other” Report Card zpr.io/nnG5W 2017-09-25

How to Raise Healthy Vegetarian and Vegan Children

How Can I Raise A Healthy Vegetarian or Vegan Child?

If you’re bringing up your child on a diet without meat (vegetarian) or without any food from an animal (vegan), they’ll need two or three portions of vegetable proteins or nuts every day to make sure they get enough protein and iron.

Don’t give whole nuts to children under five years old as they could choke. Grind nuts finely or use a smooth nut butter.

Read Food allergies for important information about peanut allergy.

Weaning your vegetarian baby

The advice on introducing solids at about six months is the same for vegetarian babies as for non-vegetarian babies. However, as your child gets older, there’s a risk that a vegetarian or vegan diet may be low in iron and energy and too high in fibre.

You can make sure your child gets enough iron by giving them:

  • fortified breakfast cereal
  • dark green vegetables
  • bread
  • beans and lentils
  • dried fruit, such as apricots, figs and prunes

Vitamin C in fruit and vegetables helps the body to absorb iron, so include these at every mealtime.

You can help ensure that your child gets all the nutrients they need by giving them smaller and more frequent main meals, with one or two snacks in between, and making sure they eat a good variety of foods. You’ll also need to make sure they get enough calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

The Department of Health recommends that all children aged six months to five years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day.

It’s also recommended that babies who are being breastfed are given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth.

Babies who are having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day shouldn’t be given vitamin supplements because formula is fortified with certain nutrients and no other supplementation is required.

Read more about vitamins for babies and toddlers.

Vegan diets for children

If you’re breastfeeding and you’re on a vegan diet, it’s important that you take a vitamin D supplement. You may also need extra vitamin B12.

Take care when giving children a vegan diet. Young children need a good variety of foods to provide the energy and vitamins they need for growth.

A vegan diet can be bulky and high in fibre. This can mean that children get full up before they’ve taken in enough calories. Because of this, they may need extra supplements. Ask a dietitian or doctor for advice before introducing your child to solids.

Energy

Young children need lots of energy to grow and develop. Give vegan children high-calorie foods, such as hummus, bananas and smooth nut and seed butters (such as tahini and cashew or peanut butter). They still need starchy foods. However, don’t give only wholegrain and wholemeal versions to children under five years old because they’re high in fibre. For extra energy, you could add vegetable oils or vegan fat spreads to foods.

Protein

Pulses and food made from pulses are a good source of protein for vegan children. Nut and seed butters also contain protein. Always use smooth versions for babies and children under five years old. Breastfeeding until your child is two or more, or giving them soya-based formula milk if they are vegan, will help ensure they get enough protein.

Ask your GP for advice before using soya-based formula.

Calcium

Fortified soya drinks often have added calcium. Some foods are also fortified with calcium, so check the label.

Vitamin B12

Fortified breakfast cereals and some yeast extracts contain vitamin B12. Your child may also need a supplement.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Some omega-3 fatty acids are found in certain vegetable oils, such as linseed, flaxseed, walnut and rapeseed oils. However, these are chemically different from the long chain omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish. Evidence suggests that these short-chain fatty acids may not offer the same protection against heart disease as those found in oily fish.

Editor’s Note: from PedSafe Expert, Pediatrician Dr Joe:  The question “how can I raise a healthy vegetarian or vegan child is a challenging one”.  Technically speaking, UK and US recommendations for vitamin supplementations are fairly similar.  However, having read this article you’ll note that there is a significant responsibility passed onto the parents to know the exact content of every food in their childrens’ diets and look for any specific deficiencies based on all vitamins and minerals. This is a Herculean task as there is a plethora of information and disinformation out there that must be evaluated by parents.  Therefore I would ask parents to seriously consider their reasons for adopting a diet like this for their children, and to discuss all food choices and diet changes with their pediatrician to ensure their child is maintaining a proper nutritional balance.





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