• Parent Plus

Discourage athletes from ‘toughing out’ a concussion

  1. Hilary Rasch, Editorial Intern

Children can seem indestructible as they run full-force down the soccer or football field. In reality, however, their developing brains are at increased risk of serious sports-related injuries, such as concussions.

Concussions are brain injuries caused by forceful blows to the head or body that result in rapid movement of the head. While concussions can happen in any sport, they occur more often in collisions sports, such as football, rugby or ice hockey. In fact, they represent an estimated 9% of all high school athletic injuries.

If your child or teen takes a hard bump to her/his head, watch for symptoms of a concussion: headache, loss of consciousness (though this symptom is rare), confusion, dizziness, nausea, blurry visions, mental fogginess, sensitivity to light and/or noise, and mood changes. Your child may not exhibit all of these symptoms, and the symptoms may not appear until hours after the injury. Continue to monitor your child after a head bump and ask her questions about how she is feeling.

Young athletes are more susceptible to the effects of concussions because their brains are still developing. Research shows that athletes with two or more concussions have lower high school grade-point averages. In addition, tragic football head injuries are three times more likely to occur in high school athletes than in college athletes.

For this reason, a young athlete with a concussion should be seen by a health care professional. A doctor can confirm the diagnosis and decide when it is OK for the athlete to return to play.

The No. 1 treatment for a concussion is rest of both the body and mind for about a week or until all symptoms are gone. Doing homework, playing video games and even watching TV may worsen symptoms.

To prevent sports-related injuries, such as concussions, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends

  • making sure youths wear proper athletic gear, such as helmets and mouth guards;

  • encouraging them to follow the rules of their sport;

  • teaching them to tell a parent or coach when they hit their head; and

  • explaining that it does not show courage to play when injured.

© 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics.

This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

Stay safe while skiing, snowboarding with your family

  1. Hilary Rasch, Editorial Intern

Going down the slopes with your kids is a great way to spend family vacations. But make sure you also keep safety in mind while skiing and snowboarding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends skiing and snowboarding as excellent lifetime sports. They can be learned at a young age and continued well into adulthood to keep the body fit. These sports, however, pose some risks. Approximately 103,274 skiing and snowboarding injuries were treated in U.S. emergency departments in 2010, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

To prevent your family from adding to this number, follow these safety tips from the AAP:

  • Head gear: Your family should wear properly fitting helmets that are specifically designed for skiing or snowboarding to decrease the likelihood of head injuries. Most people on the slopes wear helmets these days; they are practically fashionable.

  • Wrist guards: Snowboarders should wear wrist guards to prevent wrist injuries.

  • Proper fit: Ask ski shop personnel who have experience in outfitting children what equipment they think will work best for your kids. Also, check with them to make sure your family’s ski bindings are adjusted properly. Many ski injuries are caused by poorly adjusted bindings. Make sure equipment fits properly and bindings are adjusted correctly.

  • Layer up: Dress in layers. Wear coats that are wind and water resistant, hats or headbands underneath helmets, and gloves or mittens. Because kids are especially prone to cold hands, mittens may be the better choice since they keep hands warmer than gloves.

  • Sun protection: Wear goggles or sunglasses and sunscreen, even on overcast days.

  • Hydration: Everyone should drink lots of water while on the slopes to prevent altitude sickness and keep the mind alert.

  • Contact: No one should ski or snowboard alone, and an adult should always accompany small children. Decide on a meeting place on the mountain in case somebody gets separated from the group. If possible, carry a cell phone and make sure your children know your number.

© 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics. This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

Moms encouraged to breastfeed to protect babies from illness

  1. Lori O’Keefe, Correspondent

Breast or bottle? Deciding how to feed your baby can be difficult.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of life. When the baby starts eating solid foods, mothers should keep breastfeeding and refrain from giving the baby formula. Breastfeeding should continue until the child is at least 1 year of age, and the mother and infant are both ready to stop.

Extensive research indicates that breastfeeding helps protect babies from many medical conditions, including respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections, asthma, atopic dermatitis, gastroenteritis, obesity, diabetes, leukemia, celiac disease and sudden infant death syndrome.

Many breastfeeding mothers worry they are not producing enough milk and should give their baby formula. Pediatricians point out that breastfed infants need less milk at each feeding than formula-fed infants, although they need to be fed more often. Breastfeeding helps to stimulate milk production, which can be more difficult when formula is used as a supplement.

Mothers also have the misconception that breastfeeding is going to hurt or that it is going to be difficult. They should seek help from a hospital or pediatrician to ensure breastfeeding is being done properly and, therefore, is pain free.

Returning to work can be challenging. Pediatricians encourage mothers to work with their employers to establish an area and time that breast pumping can be done during the day. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently created “The Business Case for Breastfeeding” (http:/​/​tinyurl.com/​75tup48), which provides information on the economic benefits of allowing mothers to pump at work and a tool kit to help companies develop a program to help breastfeeding moms.

The AAP Healthy Children website offers breastfeeding resources for moms at http:/​/​www.healthychildren.org/​English/​agesstages/​baby/​breastfeeding/​Pages/​default.aspx.


© 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics. This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics

Determining when your child is ready to stay home alone

  1. Trisha Korioth, Staff Writer

Most states do not have laws to guide families on when their child is old enough to be left alone at home for any amount of time. Instead, the decision is left to the family.

When determining readiness, parents should consider their child’s feelings and have a plan in place, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP’s) parenting book, Caring for Your School Age Child.

Until about age 11 or 12, most children are not ready to handle emergencies. The AAP advises parents to find structured supervision for most children until this point. Some children may be mature enough before this age, however.

Only a few states have laws regarding a minimum age for a child to be home alone, and those states leave it to the individual to determine the amount time and the child’s well-being, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Parents can consider the following to determine readiness:

  • Is there a law in your state?

  • Does your child obey rules and make good decisions, even in emergencies? Does the child know when to call 911?

  • Is the child physically and mentally ready?

  • How long will the child be alone? If it is during a mealtime, can the child fix a meal?

  • How often will the child be left alone?

If the child seems ready, parents should begin with a short separation while the parent remains close. The Child Welfare Information Gateway advises parents to set rules on whether guests are allowed, and suggests that the child and parent review various scenarios and solutions (e.g., stranger at the door, broken window or open door when the child arrives at home, etc.).

Parents also should consider safety issues within the home, the neighborhood and whether neighbors can help in an emergency.

For assistance, parents can contact their local Child Protective Services agency at 800-422-4453.


© 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics. This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics

AAP News Parent Plus



Copyright © 2011 by the American Academy of Pediatrics

  • Parent Plus

Simple remedies often best for common colds in young children

  1. Trisha Korioth, Staff Writer


It’s late and your child is awake with a cough. What’s a tired parent to do?

Over-the-counter cold medications for children under age 2 were pulled from store shelves in 2008. Little proof existed that these remedies did anything to ease the symptoms of children under age 6. In fact, studies have indicated that some simple remedies can be helpful, and many can be found in your bathroom or kitchen cabinet.

Following are tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help calm your young child’s cough and cold symptoms so the whole house can sleep soundly.


Buckwheat honey was found to ease nighttime coughing and sleeplessness in children ages 2 and older, according to a 2008 study.

Honey can be fed safely to children over age 1, according to the AAP Nutrition Handbook. The AAP does not recommend giving honey to infants under 12 months of age because it could contain a bacterium that causes infant botulism.

The AAP advises starting with ½ to 1 teaspoon as needed. If honey is not available, corn syrup may be used.


Saline solution offers a way to keep the tiniest noses clear. Babies can benefit from nasal washes prior to nursing or bottle feeding. Make saline solution by combining ½ teaspoon of table salt per 1 cup of warm tap water. Put two to three drops in the nostril and use a bulb syringe to suction it out.

Older children also can gargle saline solution to ease sore throats.


For children older than age 2, topical vapor rubs can help ease chest and nose congestion. A 2010 study found that vapor rub containing camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oils relieves symptoms and aids sleep in children with colds.

Rubs never should be given by mouth or rubbed under the nose. Follow instructions on the label and rub on the chest.


Consult your pediatrician if your child’s symptoms last longer than a week, he or she has a mild fever for more than two to three days (call the pediatrician right away if your infant under 2 months has a fever), your child has severe ear pain that does not go away or has a sore throat accompanied by fever and swollen neck.

© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics. This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

  • Parent Plus 

Getting outside, eating healthy foods help kids beat winter blues

  1. Trisha Korioth, Staff Writer

It’s the post-holiday slump, and there seems to be no end in sight to the dreary, cold weather. If your child seems a bit blue lately, it could be a mild case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of depression that occurs as daylight hours become shorter. Affecting up to 20% of adults each winter, SAD affects kids, too. The limited studies of children with SAD find that teenagers and females living in northern climates are among those most affected. Symptoms, which can last a couple of months, include depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating on schoolwork and craving carbohydrate-rich foods, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Studies have linked SAD to changes in the circadian rhythm — the body’s natural sleep and waking cycle. During winter, the body starts making more melatonin, the hormone that encourages sleep. It also makes less serotonin, the hormone that fights off depression. People who live north of the equator get less sunlight and spend more time indoors, adding to the problem.

Recent research has shown that bright white fluorescent lights can be used to treat SAD with few to no side effects in adult patients. However, evidence-based studies are not yet available on light therapy in children. For those considering trying light therapy at home, the National Alliance on Mental Illness advises purchasing an artificial light therapy box with an ultraviolet filter that is labeled as giving off 2,500 to 10,000 lux. The box should be placed at eye level and used in the morning for 20 to 60 minutes throughout the season, even after symptoms disappear.

To help children avoid mild cases of the winter blues, the AAP offers the following tips:

  • Get outdoors every day, even on cloudy days.

  • Eat a healthy diet that is full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

  • Keep active. Exercise has been proven to boost mood in children.

Parents should contact their pediatrician if the child’s mood does not improve or worsens.

  • © 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics. This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.
  •  Parent Plus
Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics

Infant seats dangerous on elevated surfaces

  1. Trisha Korioth, Staff Writer

Parents are urged not to place their infants in seats that prop them up on top of elevated surfaces such as tables, couches and chairs because the babies can fall and suffer from head and other serious injuries. Parents also are advised not to leave the child alone.

A recall warning was issued by Bumbo Baby Seats in 2007 after 28 injuries were reported. The seats were sold at Target, Wal-Mart, Sears, Toys ‘R’ Us, Babies ‘R’ Us, USA Babies, and other toy and children’s stores nationwide as well as online sellers from August 2003 through October 2007 for about $40.

New seats have been sold since 2007 that include a warning on the seat to never use the infant seat on elevated surfaces. However, injuries still are being reported. In addition, about 50 injuries have been reported of infants who fell out of the seats that were being used on the floor. The injuries occurred when infants struck their heads on hard flooring.

For more information, contact the company at 888-376-4763 or visitwww.keendistribution.com/​customerCare.php.

Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics

 This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

Protect your infant from SIDS and other causes of sleep-related deaths

  1. Lori O’Keefe, Correspondent

Confused about the latest messages to ensure your baby’s safe sleep? The American Academy of Pediatrics makes the following recommendations to parents and caregivers to provide a safe sleeping environment for infants and to reduce the risks of death from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suffocation or entrapment while sleeping.

All infants should be placed on their backs to sleep until 1 year of age unless, in rare cases, directed to do otherwise by a pediatrician. There is no evidence that infants with reflux are at an increased risk of choking while sleeping on their backs. In addition, once infants are able to roll from their back to their stomach, they can remain in the sleep position they choose but still should be placed to sleep on their backs.

Place the baby to sleep on a firm, flat mattress with only a fitted sheet. Adult beds or soft mattresses increase the risk of suffocation.

Car safety seats, strollers, swings, infant carriers and infant slings should not be used for routine sleep because they can put infants in a position that places them at risk for suffocation or airway obstruction.

Room sharing in separate beds is recommended, but bed sharing with anybody else, including twins or other multiples, is not.

Keep loose bedding and soft objects such as pillows, quilts, comforters, bumper pads or sheepskin out of the crib.

Evidence indicates that women who receive regular prenatal care put their infants at a lower risk of SIDS.

Avoid smoke exposure, alcohol and illicit drug use during pregnancy and after birth because they are associated with an increased SIDS risk.

Exclusive breastfeeding, if possible, for the first six months of life is recommended because it has been proven to help provide protection against SIDS, but any amount of breastfeeding has some protective effect.

Once breastfeeding has been established, consider offering a pacifier to infants at sleep times. If it falls out of the mouth during sleep, it does not need to be reinserted because the protective effect from SIDS continues even after it has fallen out.

Do not overdress the baby as overheating can be a risk factor. Infants should not be dressed in more than one layer than an adult would wear.

Make sure infants are up-to-date on their immunizations, which have a protective effect against SIDS.

There is no reason to use devices such as wedges, positioners, special mattresses or sleep surfaces, or home cardiorespiratory monitors that are advertised to prevent SIDS.

Give the baby supervised tummy time every day while awake.

© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics. This information may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

Copyright © 2011 by the American Academy of Pediatrics

Replace screen time for children under 2 with activities that spark imagination

  1. Ari Brown, M.D., FAAP


While playing with your child is beneficial, you cannot do this every moment of the day. Instead of turning on a TV program or video so you can make dinner or take a shower, let your baby or young child play independently.

Your child benefits from playing alone for short periods of time. He learns to problem solve, think creatively and use his imagination. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports unstructured playtime for children of all ages.

Here are some ideas for simple, inexpensive activities that your infant or young child can do without your participation. As your baby starts to crawl, remember to use a portable play yard or safety gates to keep your child in a safe area if you are distracted. And make sure all toys are impossible to swallow or chew.


  • For young infants, offer items like colorful or high-contrast toys or mobiles to look at or follow with their eyes.

  • Let your baby listen to music. Let your older baby or young child play with rattles or child-friendly music boxes.

  • Offer safe objects or toys with different textures.

  • Offer large plastic, wood or plush toys without small removable pieces to grab, manipulate and mouth.


  • Let your baby explore cardboard books that are bite- and rip-proof.

  • Offer “cause and effect” toys. Let your baby figure out how to make an object light up, make noise or move.

  • Toys that can be filled and dumped also are popular with young children.


  • Let your baby play with a plastic mirror.

  • Offer pretend food, picnic ware, teacups, a grocery cart, baby doll or baby carriage to children over age 1.

  • Let your child participate in activities of daily living. While you are cooking, let your baby “cook” on the floor with pots and pans.


  • Infants as young as 3 months can play with an activity gym to bat/grab objects.

  • Offer measuring cups, plastic food containers, pots, pans and wooden spatulas.

  • Give your older baby a big ball to roll, kick or throw.

  • Stacking cups or “nesting cups” are good for using small muscles and figuring out how to stack. Shape sorters are another toy that encourages eye-hand coordination.


© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics. This information may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

  • Parent Plus

Common distractions can be deadly for teen drivers

  1. Rafael Guerrero, Editorial Intern

More than 5,500 teenagers die in automobile crashes every year, and car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death among 16- to 20-year-olds.

Teenagers’ brains are not fully developed until they reach their 20s, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Having their cognitive skills tested with a task such as driving is dangerous enough on its own. Adding any other distraction increases the risk of something worse happening.

Below are common distractions most teenage drivers must avoid to stay safe on the road.


Peers and family members, especially those around your teens’ age, can influence the decisions they make behind the wheel. The AAP reports that having teenage passengers increases driving risk. Among 16- and 17-year-olds, the risk of crashing increases by 40% when driving with one teenage passenger; the risk doubles with an additional passenger. Many states have taken notice of a passenger’s influence on teen drivers by placing restrictions on who can be in the vehicle with young drivers.


A 2011 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that 333,000 traffic crashes occur each year due to cell phone distractions. The use of cell phones while driving impairs a driver’s ability to process information at a normal rate. The AAP reports that nine states have a cell phone ban on all drivers; 22 states prohibit minors from using cell phones while driving.


Teenage drivers have a higher risk of crashing than adults when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These substances alter a person’s cognitive abilities, and teenagers tend to have a lower tolerance for alcohol.

Plenty of other distractions can disrupt teenage drivers, including eating and drinking, medical conditions and automobile features.

The AAP has developed a teen driving agreement that can help parents set guidelines for their young drivers. For a copy of the contract, visit www.healthychildren.org/​English/​ages-stages/​teen/​safety/​Pages/​Teen-Driving-Agreement.aspx.

© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics. This information may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

Rules of the road: Make sure grandchildren are restrained in your car

  1. Rafael Guerrero, Editorial Intern

Whether you’re driving your grandchildren around town or are taking them on a cross-country road trip, it’s crucial that they use a seatbelt or car seat.

A study in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics reports that children were 50% less likely to suffer injuries in an auto accident when their grandparents were driving compared to when their parents were behind the wheel. However, children driving with grandparents were slightly less likely to be restrained properly than when with their parents (98% vs. 98.7%).

It is important for grandparents to review laws regarding proper transport of kids of all ages during car rides. Every state and the District of Columbia have laws requiring seat restraints for children in automobiles, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Here are some tips to ensure your grandchildren stay safe on the road:

  • Invest in a car seat. There are three basic types of car seats; follow the manufacturer’s manual when installing the seats.

    • Infant seats are used for children weighing 22-35 pounds, depending on the model. The seats are small and portable. Infant seats should always face the rear of the car in the back seat until the child is 2 years of age.

    • Convertible seats can be used rear- or forward-facing. These seats can support toddlers up to 40 pounds.

    • Booster seats are used for children up to age 12 who weigh more than 40 pounds and are less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall.

  • Set a positive example when teaching grandchildren how to drive. Some states allow teenage drivers with learner’s permits to drive with other adults, including their grandparents. Act like a parent would by enforcing rules, setting guidelines, teaching teens the rules of the road, and displaying a positive and encouraging attitude.

© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics. This information may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

Practice safe swaddling to protect baby’s hips

  1. Trisha Korioth, Staff Writer

Many babies take comfort in being swaddled in a blanket. However, swaddling the wrong way can cause hip dislocation.

The cozy feeling of a blanket snugly wrapped around the baby’s body resembles the mother’s womb. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports safe swaddling of infants that leaves the hips and legs free to move. Studies have found that straightening and tightly swaddling a baby’s legs can lead to hip dislocation or hip dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip joint where the top of the thigh bone is not held firmly in the socket of the hip.

When swaddling a baby, use the following techniques from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute:

  • Swaddle the baby on a square blanket. Place the baby’s head above the middle of one edge, tuck the right arm down and fold the right side of the blanket over the baby between the left arm and under the left side. Then tuck the left arm down and fold the left edge of the blanket over the baby and under the right side. Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket up and loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby.

  • Swaddle a baby using the diamond shape technique. Fold one corner of a square blanket down and place the baby with its head in the center above the folded corner. Straighten the right arm and fold the right corner of the blanket over the baby between the left arm and under the left side. Then tuck the left arm down and fold the left corner of the blanket over the baby and under the right side. Fold or twist the bottom of the blanket loosely and tuck it under one side of the baby.

Legs should be able to bend up and out. When using a commercial swaddling blanket, make sure it is loose around the baby’s hips and legs.

To reduce the chance of sudden infant death syndrome, parents should place babies on their backs to sleep and keep loose bedding and soft objects out of the crib.

© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Parent Plus

Rx for a healthy teen: Keep up with recommended vaccines

  1. Trisha Korioth, Staff Writer


When your adolescent was an infant, you did your best to visit the pediatrician on time for recommended immunizations. As a preteen or teen, your child still needs protection from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Starting at ages 11-12, adolescents are eligible to receive three to four vaccines, and additional vaccines if they are high-risk patients or behind schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the Recommended Schedule for Persons Aged 7 through 18 Years — United States, which includes the following important vaccines.


You can help prevent certain forms of cancer later in life by vaccinating your child now. The three-dose HPV vaccine series, recommended for adolescent girls, protects against cervical cancer and genital warts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon recommend the vaccine for boys as well.


The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) protects against bacteria that can cause bloodstream, brain and spinal cord infections. MCV4 is recommended at age 11 or 12, and a booster shot is recommended at age 16 to continue providing protection when risk for meningococcal disease is highest. The potentially deadly disease is most common in crowded settings such as college dorms and military barracks.


The tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis vaccine (Tdap) prevents outbreaks of pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Pertussis is especially deadly for babies, and vaccinating adolescents helps prevent the spread of disease in the community. The vaccine also provides a booster shot against tetanus (lockjaw), which causes stiffening of the muscles when it enters the body through a cut in the skin. The vaccine protects against diphtheria, a bacterial respiratory disease, as well.


Flu vaccine is recommended yearly for practically everyone 6 months of age and older. Parents should talk with their pediatrician if they have questions or concerns about whether their child should receive the inactivated or live attenuated (weakened) influenza vaccine.


When college-bound or after they leave home, adolescents should keep a copy of their immunization records with them. To locate records, contact your pediatrician’s office. Other sources that may have this information include schools attended by the child and state immunization registries.

© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics. This Parent Plus may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

Parents should take lead to protect kids from heat during sporting events

  1. Robert Musinski, Correspondent

Most parents don’t question their children’s athletic coaches as long as the coaches seem to be capable and responsible. But there’s a good chance the coach — especially if he’s a volunteer parent with no formal training — doesn’t know the rules of the game for prevention of heat illness, monitoring and treatment.

The authors of Climatic Heat Stress and the Exercising Child and Adolescent, a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, offer the following advice on what parents can do to protect their children from heat illness:

  • Talk with the coach at the beginning of the season about his or her level of understanding about how heat stress affects young athletes.

  • Check with organizers of tournaments to find out if they are prepared to treat athletes who suffer heat stress.

  • Work with other parents to bring coolers to tournaments filled with ice, small ice bags, and wet washcloths and bedsheets.

  • Take kids to an air-conditioned building to lower their body heat during breaks between games.

  • Encourage children to get used to intense heat and humidity gradually in the weeks before the sports season.

  • Educate kids about heat illness, including:

    • the symptoms, such as feeling sick, confused, dizzy, sleepy or otherwise ill while exercising in hot weather;

    • prevention strategies, such as drinking enough fluids;

    • the importance of wearing loose-fitting light clothing; and

    • the necessity of adequate cooling and rest periods in shaded areas.

  • Empower children to say “no” respectfully to a coach who is asking them to do something they feel is risky in intense heat.

© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics.

This information may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

  Sports drinks vs. energy drinks vs. plain water: What’s best for thirsty kids?

  1. Alyson Sulaski Wyckoff, Associate Editor

While sports drinks can be helpful after high-intensity exercise, energy drinks for kids should be crossed off the family grocery list.

Tasty drinks that replenish lost fluids after sports or claim to boost energy may seem like the best choice for children, and they are widely consumed. But a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains that sports and energy drinks are vastly different.

Sports drinks are flavored beverages often containing carbohydrates, minerals and electrolytes (salts), and sometimes vitamins or other nutrients. On the other hand, energy drinks contain stimulants, with caffeine as the primary source of “energy,” along with varying amounts of other ingredients.

Let’s say your child takes part in an hour-long soccer game in the sweltering heat. A sports drink might be appropriate to quickly replenish fluids lost through sweating and exercise. But drinking too many sugar-filled, carbohydrate-containing sports drinks can increase the risk for obesity and dental decay. Plus, there is no advantage to consuming the vitamins and minerals advertised in these drinks because they are easily obtained in a well-balanced diet, the AAP says.

And while everyone may feel they need a pick-me-up, energy drinks have no place in the diets of children and adolescents, the AAP warns. Excessive amounts of caffeine can affect the appropriate balance of carbohydrate, fat and protein intakes that children need for optimal growth, development, body composition and health.

Too much caffeine also can increase heart rate, blood pressure, speech rate and motor activity, and play a role in triggering irregular heartbeat or abnormal heart rhythm, among other concerns.

Some energy drinks pack more than 500 milligrams of caffeine, enough to result in caffeine toxicity. By comparison, soft drinks contain about 24 milligrams of caffeine per serving.

For most children engaged in routine physical activities, AAP experts say, the beverage of choice should be plain water.

© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics.

This information may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

 Exposing the myths of hookah smoking

  1. Rafael Guerrero, Editorial Intern

The fruity aroma of hookah smoke naturally brings a false sense of security to users, particularly teens. However, studies are showing that hookah smoke poses many dangers.

The practice of smoking tobacco through a hookah pipe originated in the Middle East centuries ago. The tobacco is heated inside the hookah, filtered by water at the bottom of the pipe, and then inhaled through a hose with a mouthpiece. Hookah bars and lounges are becoming popular places to socialize, especially among young people.

A 2011 study in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing on hookah use among college students reported what many health officials already assumed: Smoking from a hookah pipe is as bad as or worse for one’s health than smoking cigarettes. The study also showed that many students view hookah use as harmless.

If your son or daughter is itching to visit a hookah lounge, share these myths and facts about hookah use.

Myth: Smoking tobacco through a hookah is safer than smoking cigarettes.

Fact: Hookah smoking sessions, usually lasting 20-60 minutes, generate about 10 liters or more of smoke. Smoking a cigarette for five minutes generates 300-500 milliliters of smoke.

Myth: The water used in hookah is an effective filter against carcinogens.

Fact: Depending on various factors such as duration of smoking, depth, length and frequency of inhalation, higher levels of carcinogens may be present in hookah smoke compared to cigarette smoke. Aerosol, tar and heavy metal particles also are found in hookah smoke.

Myth: Hookah use is associated with few long-term health problems.

Fact: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says hookah use can lead to various cancers, as well as heart and lung disease, much like cigarette smoking. In addition, diseases, such as hepatitis, herpes and tuberculosis, can spread when hose mouthpieces are shared.

For more information on hookahs and other forms of tobacco, visit the AAP’s Healthy Children Web site, www.healthychildren.org/​English/​health-issues/​conditions/​tobacco/​Pages/​Alternative-Forms-of-Tobacco.aspx.

© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics. This information may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

 AAP News Vol. 32 No. 8 August 1, 2011  pp. 37

Legal substances land teens in emergency departments

Trisha Korioth
Staff Writer

Fake marijuana marketed as incense and cocaine substitutes sold as "bath salts," "plant food" or "pond water cleaner" are among substances that can be in teens’ hands with the click of a button online or a stop at a local gas station.

Because they are not being sold for human consumption, these products are not considered to be a drug or controlled substance by the Food and Drug Administration. Users who experience increased blood pressure and heart rate; agitation; hallucinations; extremeparanoia; delusions lasting for days and death are turning up in emergency departments across the United States, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). Poison control centers received more than 2,200 calls about the "bath salts" and more than 2,000 calls about synthetic marijuana in the first five months of 2011.

Bath salt/plant food products contain methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) or methylmethcathinone (mephedrone) and are labeled with names including Red Dove, White Dove, Blue Silk, Zoom, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Ocean Snow, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, White Lightning, Scarface and Hurricane Charlie, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Users inject,snort or eat the substance.

Synthetic marijuana is made in a laboratory and marketed as incense with such names as Spice, K2, Genie, Yucatan Fire, Sense,Smoke, Skunk and Zohai. The chemical in fake marijuana causes a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure and nausea, according to AAPCC.

Many states are trying to make it illegal to sell these products and others, such as the hallucinogenic Salvia divinorum plant and 2CE powder, which can be bought online.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents who find these products or suspect their child has used them to get high to seek help from a qualified professional. For details, visit the AAP Healthy Children Web site (click visitor or login): www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/pages/When-Teens-Use-Drugs-Taking-Action.aspx.

For questions about possible exposure to these and other substances, contact your local poison center at 800-222-1222.

AAP News Vol. 32 No. 7 July 2011, p. 22 © 2011

© 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics.

This information may be freely copied and distributed with proper attribution.

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