Bacteria, viruses causes of foodborne illnesses

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Food-borne illnesses are caused by germs or harmful chemicals we eat and drink. Most are caused when certain bacteria, viruses or parasites contaminate food.

Others occur when food is contaminated by harmful chemicals or toxins. Since these infections or chemicals enter the body though the stomach and intestines, the most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort.

Around 100 years ago, typhoid fever, tuberculosis and cholera were some of the most common food-borne illnesses.

Now with improved food processing, pasteurization of milk and water treatment, these diseases have been almost eliminated. Today, other bacteria and viruses have become common causes of food-borne illnesses.

  • Camplyobacter is the most common bacteria causing food-borne diarrhea in the world. These bacteria live in the intestines of birds and often contaminate raw poultry such as chicken.

Eating undercooked chicken or eating food contaminated by juices from raw chicken is a common way to swallow these bacteria.

It causes a diarrhea that is often bloody with fever and cramps. Most people recover without any special treatment. There are rare complications such as arthritis. Continue reading

Book offers advice for dealing with children with ADHD

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Dr. Michael Reiff, editor, explores Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder myths and realities in the book “ADHD: A Complete and Authoritative Guide.” Reiff and his colleagues note that some of the most prevalent misconceptions are these:

  • “He’s just lazy and unmotivated.” A child who finds it almost impossible to stay focused at school or complete long tasks may try to “save face” by acting as if he or she doesn’t care or doesn’t want to do the task. That is masking a serious difficulty in his ability to function.
  • “He’s a handful or she’s a daydreamer but that is normal. They just don’t let kids be kids.” All children are impulsive, active and inattentive at times. But a child with ADHD has a serious problem fitting into family routines, keeping friends, avoiding injuries and following rules. Continue reading

Take steps to not leave children in hot vehicles

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Hot weather is here. Every year, there are new reports of children dying after being left in hot cars.

We have already had our first reported death of a toddler left in a car.

The inside of a car can heat up very quickly — even when the temperature outdoors is mild.

On an especially hot day, the interior of a car can heat up to 122 degrees in less than 20 minutes; within 40 minutes, it can get so hot that a child left inside a car for that length of time can die.

Many parents think that leaving the window of the car open slightly will keep the temperature lower, but fail to realize that it will still remain too hot in the car for the child.

Young children, especially infants, are more sensitive to heat than adults because their bodies do not regulate temperature as well as an adult’s body does. A child left in a hot car can suffer from heat stress, dehydration and shock. Continue reading

Be on look out for swimmer’s ear in children

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Swimming is a great way for kids to stay active, especially during the summer months.

However, the combination of heat, humidity and water can lead to an ear condition called acute otitis external, more commonly known as swimmer’s ear. The infection often is caused by bacteria being carried into the outer ear canal.
Symptoms of swimmer’s ear include redness, swelling, itching, drainage of pus and pain.

Following are some tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent and treat swimmer’s ear: Continue reading

How to take the sting out of bee, wasp stings

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Summer is here and yellow jackets compete for our barbecued burgers and soft drinks while bumblebees in the clover can collide with big and little bare feet.

As many parents know, bee stings can put a damper on summer fun. Here are a few things to keep in mind if your little one gets stung.

Most bee stings cause a painful red bump, which often appears immediately.

If you notice a black dot in the bump, the stinger may still be in the skin and needs to be removed.

You can do this by simply scraping across the black spot with a striate edge, such as a plastic credit card or fingernail. Continue reading

Mentally ill may be easy to blame, but they’re rarely violent

Dr. Jeff Temple

Dr. Jeff Temple

Here we are on the heels of several mass shootings. What used to be shocking has become commonplace. In fact, the United States is averaging more than one per month for the last five years.

These events have the public, media, talking heads and politicians searching for explanations and an answer to stop the bloodshed.

Increasingly, mental illness has become the convenient culprit. But let’s not mistake correlation for causation.

Mental illness does not cause violence. If it did, then homicide rates in other developed countries would be on par with that of the United States. They are not.

In 2012, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that Americans are 4.5 times more likely to die by homicide than citizens of other developed countries.

And while more than 25 percent of Americans will have a diagnosable mental disorder, nearly all of them will not hurt or threaten to hurt anyone. And nearly all them find the actions of Adam Lanza, Elliot Rodger and Aaron Ybarra reprehensible. Continue reading

Lawn mower-related injuries can be prevented

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2010, 17,000 youths 19 and younger were treated for lawn mower-related injuries.

Many of these injuries occur in older children and teens. Boys with the average age of 11 make up 75 percent of the children injured. However, small children also are at risk of injury.

Lawn mowers have the potential to cause serious injuries. The blades are sharp enough to slice and even amputate limbs, and objects that get caught in the blades fly out with great force.

Though doing yard work together may be a fun family activity, children should not be around when you are mowing.

Some tips to prevent lawn mower-related injuries include: Continue reading

Take action to prevent drowning in pools

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Water safety cannot be written about too much.

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death in children 1 and older in the United States.

From 2000 to 2006, drowning was the second leading cause of death from unintentional injuries in children ages 2 to 19.

In the 1- to 4-year-old age group, drowning causes nearly as many deaths as motor vehicle crashes.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its policy statement, “Prevention of Drowning.”

New data and new risks are highlighted, including the dangers of inflatable and portable pools, drain-entrapment and the possible benefit of swimming lessons for young children.

12 tips to prevent drowning

1. Touch supervision is necessary for toddlers and constant eye contact for older children.

2. Install four-sided pool fencing with self-latching and self-closing gates is important.

3. Installing pool alarms helps.

4. Install pool and spa drains covers is important.

5. Swim lessons are recommended for children older than 4 years old, perhaps for those older than 1 year.

6. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation training is recommended.

7. Children riding in watercraft should use a personal flotation device and a life jacket.

8. Air-filled swim aids are not a personal flotation device.

9. Diving should be permitted only in water of known depth.

10. Children should be taught to swim in open bodies of water only when there are lifeguards.

11. Supervising older children with seizure disorders is especially important.

12. Alcohol and drug use should be prohibited during swimming and boating activities.

Remember the bathroom. Children have drowned in inches of water.

Infants and young children should never be left alone in the bathtub even for a moment.

Buckets of water should be emptied after use.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital, and Keith Bly is an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the UTMB Pediatric Urgent Care Clinics. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

New data for vitamin D for infants, children, adolescents

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Recently, the Academy of Pediatrics has changed its recommendations about the amount of vitamin D to be taken daily for all infants.

It is now recommended all infants, children and adolescents take 400 IU daily. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with rickets, which is a condition of weakened deformed bones.

New information now suggests that vitamin D has a role in immunity and reduces the risk for certain chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

The primary natural source of vitamin D is from cholesterol being changed in the skin with exposure to UVB light (sunshine). Natural sources from the diet are limited.

It is not easy to determine how much exposure to sunshine is needed for a given individual, and too much exposure increases the risk of skin cancer.

Mothers who are vitamin D deficient might expose their unborn babies to a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, the Academy of Pediatrics is recommending the following:

Continue reading

Infant formulas to have lower calories, protein

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement written by Dr. Frank Greer and Dr. Steven Abrams about what pediatricians need to know about the new low-calorie and low-protein formulas.

Infant formulas with lower energy density and lower protein content than those historically sold in the United States are being introduced this spring.

This change follows the recent addition of novel components such as pre- and probiotics into some formulas.

As the number of formula choices increases and the selection process becomes more complicated, families might want to seek their pediatrician’s advice.

Pediatricians, therefore, should be on alert for new formulas and be familiar with the research on formulas with varying amounts of energy and protein.

Since obesity is a national concern and because the risk of overweight is higher in formula-fed infants than breast-fed infants, some nutritionists support lowering the protein content and energy density of infant formulas. Continue reading