Educational Program Urges Parents to Immunize Kids
TUESDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- A new educational campaign to reinforce the importance of childhood vaccinations will be launched during National Infant Immunization Week, April 24 to May 1.
The program, called Protect Tomorrow, is designed to remind parents that without vaccinations, infants and children are at risk for contracting infectious diseases that can lead to hospitalization, disability and even death, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explained in a news release.
Even though the benefits of vaccination are well-documented, nearly one-quarter of children in the United States between the ages of 19 months and 35 months did not receive the recommended series of childhood vaccines in 2008, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Our goal for the campaign is to urge parents to get their children vaccinated today so they can have a healthy tomorrow," pediatrician Dr. Alanna Levine said in the news release.
Many young parents don't know how serious a threat diseases such as polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough and other childhood illnesses were in the past or that these diseases can re-emerge if parents don't immunize their children, the AAP noted.
"Each year, the recommended immunization schedule is reviewed and published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. It is critical that parents talk with their pediatricians and ensure their children are up-to-date with vaccinations so that children are protected and history does not repeat itself," Levine said.
The educational campaign -- which will include TV and radio public service announcements, along with online resources -- is supported by vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur.
Here's where you can find more about the Protect Tomorrow campaign.
Premature Birth Ups Risk of Long-Term Breathing Problems
FRIDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of babies born very prematurely -- at 25 weeks of pregnancy or earlier -- may experience lung problems, and they are twice as likely as children born at full-term to be diagnosed with asthma by the time they turn 11, a new study has found.
The study authors examined a database of all babies born at or before 25 weeks of gestation during several months of 1995 in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The researchers followed the children until they reached 11 years of age and compared them to randomly selected peers.
"For a variety of reasons, rates of preterm birth are increasing in developed countries," study principal investigator Janet Stocks, professor of respiratory physiology at the University College London's Institute of Child Health, said in a news release from the American Thoracic Society.
"Despite sophisticated medical interventions, we know that preterm birth is often associated with serious respiratory problems. We wanted to look at the longer-term implications of the complications as these children grow up," Stocks explained.
Tests showed that many of the children suffered from airway obstruction. "These results indicate that despite improvements in obstetric and neonatal care that have resulted in increased survival of extremely preterm infants, airway obstruction remains a common long-term outcome," she noted.
"There needs to be long-term surveillance of this population, and appropriate treatment throughout childhood with a special emphasis on a healthy lifestyle with respect to diet, exercise and smoking prevention in order to preserve available lung function for as long as possible," Stocks said.
The findings were released online April 22 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
For more about premature birth, visit the March of Dimes.
One in Five Parents Would Spank in Certain Settings
THURSDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Spanking may be losing its popularity among American parents, but new research suggests it might still be used in certain settings.
Results of a national poll conducted for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, show that one in five parents believe they would spank their child in some scenarios, said poll director Dr. Matthew Davis. The survey queried more than 1,500 parents about what disciplinary methods they would employ in a variety of scenarios.
By far, the most common strategies were explaining or reasoning (88 percent), taking away a privilege (70 percent) and timeouts or grounding (59 percent). Davis noted that higher rates of possible spanking were shown in some regions, and higher rates were also found in those scenarios that involved younger children.
"It was a surprise to find how few parents listed spanking and paddling. In fact, we were quite impressed that the vast majority of parents reported they would use discussion and reasoning with their children as a form of discipline, regardless of the age of the child," Davis said.
According to the poll, more parents who live in the West (31 percent) and the South (20 percent) listed spanking as a disciplinary option than those in the Midwest (16 percent) and the Northeast (6 percent.) Davis said such dramatic regional differences are likely rooted in cultural and generational trends. The results also showed spanking is more of an option with children aged 2 to 5, (30 percent); than with children aged 6 to 12, (24 percent) or those aged 13 to 17, (13 percent).
However, parents in the Mott survey answered what they thought they would do, not what they had done, noted Shawna J. Lee, co-author of a widely publicized study linking spanking and aggression that is published in the May issue of Pediatrics.
Lee, an assistant professor at the School of Social Work at Wayne State University in Detroit, has done some of her own polling on parents' spanking histories for an as-yet-unpublished paper. Her team interviewed both moms and dads and asked if they had spanked their child within the past month.
Asking the question that way garnered considerably higher numbers than was seen in the Mott survey, Lee said.
Why the disparity? Lee believes that most parents' intention not to spank -- as cited in the Mott survey -- might not pan out in the real world.
It's like saying, "'I think I'm going to go to the gym tonight' -- but if you ask me how many times I actually went to the gym this week, there's a little inconsistency," Mott said. In her opinion, "it may be losing its luster, but [spanking] is still a very common parenting behavior."
And in their Pediatrics study, Lee and her colleagues showed that 3-year-old children who were spanked two or more times the previous month had a 50 percent increased chance of being aggressive by the time they turned 5. Previous work by other researchers has also shown a link between corporal punishment and aggression.
Still, not everyone advocates for a total ban on spanking. According to Alice Sterling Honig, professor emerita in child and family studies at Syracuse University's College of Human Ecology, said that in certain cases some parents may use spanking appropriately.
"You don't spank a small child for using very inappropriate, hurtful words," she said. Instead, you get down to the child's level, look the child in the eye and explain that words hurt peoples' feelings.
But for a toddler who runs into the street after a ball, Honig said proper discipline could consist of two swats to the child's bottom, along with an explanation at eye level of "I love you, and I don't want a car to hurt you."
One thing is certain, Honig noted.
"What will work is [for parents] to build emotional, deep, loving kindness," she said. "If you don't have that, then none of those techniques will work."
There's more on spanking at the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Kids Could Overdose From Nicotine-Laced 'Candy'
MONDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- In 2009, tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds launched Camel Orbs, dissolvable nicotine pellets flavored with cinnamon or mint that are intended for use by smokers who find themselves in smoke-free surroundings.
But researchers writing in the April 19 online edition of Pediatrics warn that the product, which can resemble candy, poses a serious health threat for children and youths.
"This product is called a 'tobacco' product, but in the eyes of a 4-year-old, the pellets look more like candy than a regular cigarette. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and to make it look like a piece of candy is recklessly playing with the health of children," study author Gregory Connolly, director of the Tobacco Control Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a university press release.
According to the study, Camel Orbs contain 1 milligram of nicotine per pellet. The company has also launched Camel Strips (containing 0.6 milligrams of nicotine per strip) and Camel Sticks (3.1 milligrams of nicotine per strip).
The products are intended for use by smokers in places where smoking is not allowed, but Connolly pointed out that infants or children attracted by the candy-like Camel Orb could be at serious risk from nicotine poisoning if they ingested the product. They noted that small children can begin to experience nicotine poisoning symptoms from as little as 1 milligram of nicotine.
Ingesting higher levels can cause real illness. For example, a 1-year-old infant could experience mild to moderate symptoms of nicotine poisoning by ingesting 8 to 14 Orbs, while 10 to 17 Orbs would bring about severe poisoning or even death, the authors said. A 4-year-old would encounter severe toxicity or death after ingesting 16 to 27 Orbs, 27 strips or five sticks, they added.
In a statement, R.J. Reynolds agreed that "tobacco products, along with many other types of goods, need to be kept out of the hands of children," and that the company has taken steps to curb accidental ingestion by kids, including using child-resistant packaging, adding a warning label and providing poison-control experts with full information on the potential dangers to children.
The Harvard researchers countered that even though the products' packaging is designed to be child-proof, adults might still leave opened packages where children could find them.
Learn how to protect your children from poisoning at the American Academy of Pediatrics.