Posts Tagged ‘child health’

Vaccinate your little Superman

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

CDC Vaccinate your superman

New immunization symbol

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

immunize_rgb_fullcolor1The umbrella in this new symbol, representing protection of the community, tells the story of the power of immunizations. We have written many times about the importance of immunizations before pregnancy and throughout your child’s first years. Lately we have written about the need for adults, even grandparents to be vaccinated against pertussis and for everyone to receive a flu vaccine. (It’s that time of year!)

Some infections can harm you and your baby during pregnancy. Vaccinations build your immunity and help protect your body from infection. (They also protect you from getting a serious disease that could affect future pregnancies.) You pass this protection to your baby during pregnancy. This helps keep your baby safe during the first few months of life until he gets his own vaccinations. Some vaccinations are safe during pregnancy, but others are not. Here’s a link to information on which is which.

Whenever you see this new symbol, it should remind you to talk to your family’s health care providers to make sure all your vaccinations and your children’s vaccinations are up to date.

Teach grandparents about pertussis

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

crying-babyThe Sounds of Pertussis ® Campaign’s new online resource Grandparents’ Corner is here! Check out this customized resource developed in part by leading Grandparent Expert Dr. Arthur Kornhaber to help grandparents learn more about the important role they play in helping to keep their families happy, healthy and protected from pertussis.

Pertussis leads to coughing and choking that can last for several weeks. Babies who catch pertussis can get very sick, and some may die. Most deaths from pertussis happen in babies less than 4 months old. If your parents or in-laws are helping to care for your children, they need to know how to help protect them from pertussis.

Back to school? Vaccinate!

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Are your older kids getting ready to go to school? Are you shopping for their clothes and book bags? Don’t forget their vaccinations, too.

Immunizations are responsible for eliminating polio and smallpox in the United States, and they have seriously reduced the number of deaths from chickenpox. However, infectious diseases like viral hepatitis, influenza, and tuberculosis (TB) remain a major cause of illness, disability, and death.

Despite progress, approximately 42,000 adults and 300 children in the United States die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the US Dept. of Health & Human Services. Communities with pockets of unvaccinated and under-vaccinated populations are at increased risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2008, measles that were brought in from other countries resulted in 140 reported cases here — nearly a 3-fold increase over the previous year. The appearance of new or replacement strains of vaccine-preventable disease can result in a major increase in serious illnesses and death.

Respiratory infectious diseases, like the flu and pneumonia, continue to be leading causes of pediatric hospitalization and outpatient visits in the United States. On average, the flu leads to more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths each year. The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic caused an estimated 270,000 hospitalizations and 12,270 deaths in less than a year.

A major goal of Healthy People 2020 is to protect Americans against infectious diseases by increasing immunization in communities nationwide. This can only be achieved if we all pay attention and keep up with our vaccinations throughout our lives. So, while you’re picking up your child’s papers, pencils and snow parkas, be sure to remember to get his vaccinations, too. And don’t forget to bring along his brothers and sisters!

Air quality index issues

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

smogThe air quality index (AQI) tells you how healthy the air is to breathe each day. It tells you how clean your air is or how polluted it is with solid particles and gases. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.

Harmful ozone forms when pollutants react to heat and sunlight. This is why we see more smog in the spring and summer. You probably have noticed your local weather report now includes a number or color for each day’s AQI. It’s important to pay attention to this. Here’s a link to a chart that explains the air quality index.

For their size, children take in more air (and pollution) than adults when they breathe. Their young lungs are continually growing and their airways are more likely to narrow in reaction to pollutants. When running around, which is most of the time in our house, children breathe faster and more deeply than adults. This can bring the pollutants in the air further into their lungs.

Children with respiratory ailments, asthma or other breathing difficulties should be kept indoors when the AQI rises. Keep an eye on your local AQI and adapt your planned activities for the day if necessary. It’s important to follow their doctor’s instructions for asthma treatments and to have assistive devices (like inhalers) nearby when the AQI is high.

Sounds of pertussis

Friday, May 13th, 2011

sick-child-2Pertussis, whooping cough, is on the rise. It can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe mild cough or fever. But after 1–2 weeks, severe coughing can begin.

Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until there is no more air in the lungs and you’re forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. In infants, the cough can be slight or not even there. But Pertussis is most severe for little ones. More than half of babies under the age of one year who get the disease must be hospitalized. About 1 in 5 infants with pertussis get pneumonia, and about 1 in 100 will have convulsions. In rare cases (1 in 100), pertussis can be deadly, especially in infants.

People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while they’re around others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by parents, older brothers and sisters, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. (My 34 year old daughter actually had it last November!) Vaccination wears off, so it’s not safe to assume that the vaccine you received when you were young will protect you today.

The Sounds of Pertussis Campaign launched Race to Blanket America, an effort to blanket the country with pertussis education and encourage adults to get vaccinated against pertussis. The centerpiece of the Race to Blanket America is the Sounds of Pertussis Protection Quilt, which symbolizes how those closest to babies can help create a “cocoon” — a blanket of protection — around the tiniest members of their family by getting an adult and adolescent tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccination. Learn more and talk with your provider about getting your booster.

Too many kids don’t get enough vitamin D

Friday, August 7th, 2009

vitamin-dKids need vitamins to help them grow strong and healthy. But a new study in this month’s Pediatrics journal finds that nearly 7 out of 10 kids aren’t getting enough vitamin D. This is alarming because vitamin D is an important nutrient in preventing bone-weakening diseases in children as well as other health complications that can occur later in life, like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The study examined over 6,000 children aged 1-21 and found that kids who spent more time watching TV, playing video games or using computers and drank milk less than once a week were more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies, children and adolescents get 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. Babies who are breastfeed can get this nutrient from vitamin D drops.  Your baby’s pediatrician can and should prescribe multivitamin drops containing vitamin D to breastfed babies starting in the first 2 months of life.

Kids can get the right amount of vitamin D by eating foods that are fortified with vitamin D, taking a children’s multivitamin with vitamin D, and by spending some time playing outside in the sunshine (sunlight is a good source of vitamin D).

A handy childhood immunization scheduler

Friday, July 31st, 2009

My newest granddaughter was born on April 6th.  J  My daughter and I were talking about getting her vaccinated against all sorts of diseases and what the current recommended schedule is these days.  I found the recommended vaccination schedule on the CDC website,  but I also found a really neat tool to help figure out the dates for your own baby’s schedule.  You enter your child’s date of birth, and a personalized schedule appears, complete with dates.  Check it out.

If you’re the type of mom who would prefer to set a schedule that uses more individual vaccinations and less combination shots, read my previous post  and talk with your child’s provider.

Pregnant moms will get priority for swine flu vaccine

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

In the last few days, you may have seen some news coverage about swine flu (also called H1N1) and its effect on mother and baby during pregnancy. With flu season just around the corner, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is giving priority to pregnant women and putting them at the front of the line of people who should get the swine flu vaccine first when it becomes available. Other groups at the top of the list are:
• children and young adults up to age 24
• people who live with or care for babies younger than 6 months of age
• health care providers
• people with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems

Learn more about swine flu or read our past post on swine flu and pregnancy.

Pets during pregnancy

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

lola-2My husband and I had a recent addition to our home. Her name is Lola – a 4-month-old Boston Terrier that we adopted from an animal rescue center. Lola is such a cutie pie! She’s as playful as any other puppy and loves to cuddle when I pick her up. As the first addition to our family, Lola knows she’s the star of the show. But one day, when my husband and I are getting ready to welcome our first baby into the world, Lola will have to make room!

Pets can bring much fun and joy to the household dynamic. But pregnant women and mommies with young kids need to be careful about the kinds of animals they keep in their home and particularly how to handle them. Some things to keep in mind:

• Dogs with bad habits (biting or pouncing) should be broken of these habits before the baby arrives.

• If you have a cat, have someone else change its litter box to avoid getting toxoplasmosis during pregnancy. This infection can cause birth defects or loss of pregnancy.

• Hamsters, guinea pigs and pet mice may carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV), which can cause severe birth defects during pregnancy. Keep these pets in a separate part of the home and have someone else feed the pet and clean its cage.

Turtles, reptiles and other exotic pets may carry salmonellosis (salmonella infection). Pregnant women and children under age 5 are at increased risk of this bacterial infection, so it’s best if they stay away from these kinds of animals.

Learn more and get helpful tips about how to handle pets and other animals during pregnancy.