Groups petition to ban baby walkers

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

The American Academy of Pediatrics, joined by other children’s advocacy groups, has petitioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to prohibit the manufacture and sale of baby walkers.

This petition is the result of the large number of injuries to children caused by baby walkers.

While considering the recommendation of the AAP to ban walkers, the CPSC suggest the following safety precautions for parents who chose to purchase a walker. Continue reading

No-calorie soft drinks, weight and your gut bacteria

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Do you know anyone who drinks a lot of diet sodas and just cannot seem to lose weight? It has been known for some time that these artificial, no-calorie sweeteners not only do not encourage weight loss but may actually promote weight gain and even diabetes by continuously stimulating our desire to taste sweetness. When they were invented by the food industry, these new-to-nature molecules promised to offer a positive option to sugar. They seemed to be a healthier alternative that promised to change our habits and health risks from drinking the high fructose, sugary soft drinks that have defined American billboard culture since the 1950s. However, there are issues.

Sweet foods, it turns out, activate a set of digestive processes, enzymes and hormones like insulin that promote weight gain and diabetes. No-calorie sweet drinks do the same. This is very different from the gut and endocrine response to more bitter or alkaline foods such as vegetables, grains, legumes and other plant-based foods. So despite no calories, these sweeteners have not been so helpful in weight loss as a substitute for the sugary soft drinks. They also are not helpful to diabetics for these same reasons. There is now another reason to suspect that there are other problems with these beverages. It turns out that no-calorie soft drinks change the profile of bacteria in our gut, part of the so-called microbiome. These bacteria, which may in aggregate weigh three to six pounds, constitute one of the largest “organs” in the body. They actually contain about 150 times as much DNA as our human genome. The key issue for our diet is that they are essential to the process of healthy digestion. Many foods, especially plant materials, cannot be adequately metabolized and absorbed without a healthy gut bacterial population. When artificial sweeteners alter this profile, our ability to utilize our food effectively is impaired. We still feel hungry. Continue reading

Playing with others is important to a child’s development

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

The American Academy of Pediatrics in their healthychildren.org website discuss how important play is for children. Playing with others is important to a child’s development. Life skills are learned when children play that can help them to make and keep friends. As a parent you can encourage your child to take part in healthy playtime by taking your child to a park to play with other children or by joining an organized play group.

Aggressive behavior between children is normal, but as a parent and supervisor there are a number of steps you can take to keep aggressive behavior to a minimum.

Playing with others is Important Child’s Work Continue reading

Hearing loss in children on the rise

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

The latest song is blasting through the earphones of the teen’s iPod. It’s so loud the other kids can hear it, even though they’re a good 10 feet away. We’ve all heard the noise: Whether it’s coming from a car radio, a concert, or yes, even those personal music players that are so popular, it seems the volume on life is cranked up and the knob ripped off.

Can you hear your mother’s words ring in the back of your mind? “Turn that down, you’re going to go deaf!” Nearly 27 million Americans age 3 and older suffer from some sort of hearing loss. That’s double the number 30 years ago.

In children, three main culprits make up the majority of causes of hearing loss. They are otitis media, hearing loss at birth, and other acquired causes, like complications from the measles, mumps, or a head injury. Continue reading

Tips to help families improve fitness, eating habits

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

In the last two to three decades, the number of overweight children has doubled. Almost one child in five is considered overweight. Obesity can lead to risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, sleep apnea, orthopedic problems, liver disease, asthma, as well as low self-esteem and depression. The likely cause of the increase in the amount of overweight children is more than likely the same reason that adult obesity is on the rise: overeating and lack of physical activity.

Because of these findings new guidelines have been developed by the Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents appointed by the National Health, Lung and Blood Institute and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The recommendations are regardless of family history all children between the age of 9 and 11 years undergo lipid screening for nonfasting non-HDH-cholesterol levels or a fasting lipid panel. This is to be repeated with another full lipid screen between 18 and 21 years of age. It is unclear in children what the treatment should be when an elevated LDL-cholesterol is found. However there is strong evidence that healthy eating and increased activity is associated with a healthy heart.

The following are a few suggestions to help your family start a program to improve eating habits and increase physical activity. Continue reading

Set healthy goals for children in 2015

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Now that the magic of Christmas is complete, there’s a new year to look forward to. It’s a new beginning. We can all wipe the slate clean and start over once again!

Your children can be part of that optimistic time of year when we swear off the chocolate, vow to drink more water, and sign up for the gym in droves. And, while as adults, we saddle ourselves with major pressure, the goals you and your child can set are much more manageable.

The goals for your child are totally attainable. For example, (this is the part where you grab your child, curl up on the couch with this column, and have them repeat after you):

1. I will clean up my toys
2. I will brush my teeth at least twice a day
3. I will wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating
4. I will share with my sisters, brothers, and friends Continue reading

Select toys that are safe, age appropriate for children

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was created in 1973 to develop safety regulations for all consumer products. The CPSC spends more than half of its budget every year testing children’s toys, as well as other items on the market for children.

When buying presents for your child, select toys that are age-appropriate. No matter how mature you think that your child is, he or she should not play with toys that are meant for an older age group. Age-appropriate levels for toys are determined by safety factors rather than by intellectual and developmental factors. Continue reading

Basic guidelines to internet safety

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

The Internet can be a valuable resource for both adults and children, but there are potential dangers for children when it comes to the Internet. A child may come across material that is sexual, hateful, violent or otherwise inappropriate. Also, some websites ask visitors to enter personal information. Parents should not allow their children to enter personal information without first finding and reviewing the site’s privacy policy, which websites are required to provide to visitors, if they ask for personal information. Here are some basic Internet guidelines for you and your child: Continue reading

Research sheds new light on autism

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Based on statistics, you probably know someone with a form of autism. Autism rates in America grew by 30 percent from 2008-2010 and have doubled since 2000. Now, one in 68 8-year-olds are diagnosed with autism. On average, one child in each grade of every elementary school has autism. What is responsible for the remarkable rise of this disease?

Perhaps we have gotten better at diagnosing it. Now, researchers are working to establish how autism occurs, even before birth, and how to diagnose it sooner.Autism is actually not a single disease but a spectrum of disorders. It is clearly related to infant development and is caused by differences in the brain. There are multiple causes of autism, but most are not yet known. One possible connection is that people tend to conceive later. The age at which women give birth has been increasing for many years and is linked to higher chances of autism.

Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders relies on observing differences in a person’s communication, social skills and typical behavior. Roughly one-third of those with autism are also diagnosed with intellectual deficits, but the remaining two-thirds have normal or above average intelligence. Most are diagnosed at 4 years old but some are identified by age 2. This is critical because research has repeatedly shown that the earlier therapy starts, the more likely it will result in substantial improvement. Continue reading

Recommendations about dealing with children’s head injuries

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

What should you do if your child has a head injury but does not lose consciousness? This is what is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For anything more than a light bump on the head, you should call your child’s doctor. The doctor will want to know when and how the injury happened and how your child is feeling.If your child is alert and responds to you, the head injury is mild and usually no tests or X-rays are needed.Your child may cry from pain or fright but this should last no longer than 10 minutes. You may need to apply a cold compress for 20 minutes to help the swelling go down and then watch your child closely for a time.

If there are any changes in your child’s condition call your doctor right away.You may need to bring your child to the doctor’s office or to the hospital.The following are signs of a more serious injury: Continue reading