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Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Despite recall notices and warnings, consumers continue to use products that have the potential to seriously injure or kill, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC today unveiled a list of many common hazardous consumer products and urged consumers to use the list to check their homes and destroy or fix unsafe products.
"These products have previously received substantial attention because they were recalled or addressed by safety standards. But they continue to be used each year, leading to deaths, injuries, and property damage," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "These products may be in any home. They may be sold at yard sales or donated to charity or thrift shops. Some of them can be fixed, but most simply need to be destroyed," he said.
Below are some of the hazardous products that consumers are most likely to find in their homes:
- Old Power Tools without double-insulation or proper grounding.
- Old Extension Cords, Power Strips, and Surge Protectors with undersized wires, loose connections, faulty components or improper grounding.
- Window blind cords with loops that can strangle children.
- Halogen torchiere floor lamps that can cause fires when combustibles such as drapes come too close to the bulb
- Old cribs made before CPSC and industry safety standards can entrap, strangle, or suffocate children. Old cribs with more than 2-3/8 inches between crib slats; corner posts; or cut-outs on the headboard or footboard present suffocation and strangulation hazards. Cribs with missing or broken parts or cornerposts higher than 1/16 inch also present a risk of death. CPSC estimates there are about 30 deaths per year in cribs, many of which are older, used models.
- Cadet Heaters (in-wall electric) that could cause a fire.
- Hairdryers without immersion protection devices to prevent electrocution.
- Disposable and novelty lighters that are not child-resistant.
- Drawstrings around the neck on children's jackets and sweatshirts can catch and strangle children.
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Sunday, April 27, 2003
Still worried about SARS?
Last weeks World Health Organization's update to travel advisories to include Toronto Canada worried some people.
Keep in mind that the CDC didn't add Toronto did their list of travel advisories, and they still believe that there is no community transmission of SARS in the United States or Canada.
And SARS doesn't seem like it is affecting children. Even in high risk areas, like China and Singapore, there aren't many cases in kids.
Other good news is that the coronavirus, which is thought to cause SARS has been found and there have been no new cases in Vietnam, which was thought to be a high risk country.
So although new cases have been reported, mostly in China, and there is still no treatment or cure, unless you are traveling to or live in a high risk country, you don't have to really worry about your family getting SARS right now.
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Sunday, April 13, 2003
Most people know that being overweight puts people at risk of developing many health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. And it is known that kids who are overweight are at either increased risk of developing these problems too or of developing them as adults.
A few new studies show even more risks for overweight children.
One study showed that girls who were overweight at age 5 were more likely to start puberty early.
Another study, Obesity and Psychiatric Disorder: Developmental Trajectories, showed that kids who are chronically overweight were more likely to have psychiatric disorders, including oppositional defiant disorder in boys and girls and depressive disorders in boys. Not only does this study give us another reason to help prevent kids from becoming overweight and helping overweight kids become more healthy, it should raise the awareness that kids who are overweight may have psychiatric problems.
Yet another study, Health-related quality of life of severely obese children and adolescents, showed that 'severely obese children experience a health-related quality of life (QOL) that is similar to that of cancer patients', especially if they also had obstructive sleep apnea.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2003
Parents often want to get started potty training their children as early as possible. The question often becomes how early is too early and when should you start.
A recent article in the journal Pediatrics, Relationship Between Age at Initiation of Toilet Training and Duration of Training: A Prospective Study, provides parents some help. This study found that starting intensive toilet training early, which is defined as asking your child to use the potty more than 3 times a day, resulted in kids who were potty training at a younger age than parents who started later. However, the study also found that the earlier you started, the longer it took. And kids who began intensive training before 27 months didn't necessarily finish potty training before kids who started later.
This study doesn't mean that you should wait until after 27 months to start training, but it does offer some interesting points, including that parents in the study:
- started some form of potty training at about 21 months (took out a potty chair, etc), but didn't start intense training until 29 months (asking their child to use the potty more than 3 times a day)
- finished potty training at an average of 37 months
- took about 5-10 months to complete potty training and this was even longer, about 14 months, for parents who started before their child was 24 months old. In general, the older the child was when they started potty training, the less time it took to complete training.
The study also found that most parents misjudged when their child was ready to begin training, but it didn't find any negative factors, such as constipation or encopresis, with starting too early.
I think that the main point of this article is too show that parents shouldn't be in too big of a rush to begin potty training.
In our own polls, most parents reported similar results, starting potty training at 24 months and finishing between 2 1/2 to 3 years.
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Tuesday, April 8, 2003
Although it has long been recommended that only breastfed babies with very dark skin or limited exposure to sunlight get Vitamin D supplements, the American Academy of Peditrics now advises that all children should get extra Vitamin D.
The concern is that Rickets, a bone disease causes by not getting enough Vitamin D, is still a problem for some children.
And the main source of Vitamin D for most infants, sunlight exposure, is being discouraged more and more. Another problem is that sunscreen decreases the effects of sunlight on the skin's ability to form Vitamin D.
So the AAP, in their Clinical Report, Prevention of Rickets and Vitamin D Deficiency: New Guidelines for Vitamin D Intake, now recommends that 'all infants, including those who are exclusively breastfed, have a minimum intake of 200 IU of vitamin D per day beginning in the first 2 months of life'.
Since infant formula and cow's milk is fortified with vitamin D, infants who drink at least 500ml (about 16-17 ounces) a day don't need a vitamin supplement. Those drinking less than that, will need a vitamin D supplement.
Exclusively breastfed infants will need a vitamin supplement with 200 IU of vitamin D each day.
Older kids and teens, unless they drink 16-17 ounces of milk a day or get regular sunlight exposure, will also need a vitamin D supplement.
I was initially skeptical that this recommendation was really necessary, as most children, especially if they don't have dark skin, probably aren't at risk and likely get enough sunlight exposure to prevent rickets. But how much sunlight exposure is enough, especially if you put a lot of sunscreen on your child?
The minimum amount of sunlight exposure to prevent rickets isn't known and rickets is a very serious illness that is easily preventable, so this recommendation is likely important and you should give your child Vitamin D supplements if necessary.
Wednesday, April 2, 2003
It had seemed like the worry over SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), the new deadly form of pneumonia, had been decreasing. But the last few days, more cases have been in the news, including some children and more people in the US.
According to the CDC, as of April 1, more than 70 cases of SARS had been reported in the United States.
However, at least in the US, there is no indication of community spread at this time, so the general public still doesn't need to worry. In the Peoples' Republic of China (i.e., mainland China and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region); Hanoi, Vietnam; and Singapore there has been documented or suspected community transmission of SARS, so it is important to respect the travel advisory to postpone elective or non-essential travel to these areas.
One group likely to be affected by this travel alert and SARS are families that are traveling to or have visited these areas as part of adopting a child from one of these countries. The CDC advises that families returning from one of the affected areas should monitor their health for at least 10 days.
Although there is still no cure or treatment, at least progress is being made at identifying the cause, which is thought to be a type of Coronavirus. These viruses are also responsible for causing the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections.
Although it is easy to worry, it is important to keep things in perspective. Only 78 people have died of SARS so far, while 36,000 people died from the flu last year just in the United States and there were 250,000 and 500 000 deaths from flu worldwide.
I think the big worry is that it will continue to spread. Hopefully the aggressive quarantine programs (including 200 high school students in Canada) will prevent SARS from spreading any further.
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