Kids Newsletter
February 6, 2017
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
                                                            -- Viktor Frankl
In this Issue
• U.S. High School Kids Abandoning Sweetened Sodas
• Laundry Detergent Pods Linked to Eye Burn Danger in Kids
• Most U.S. Adults Support Routine Child Vaccine
• Dressing Baby for a Safe Winter Drive

U.S. High School Kids Abandoning Sweetened Sodas

CDC study finds daily intake of these and other sugary drinks fell to just 20 percent by 2015

THURSDAY, Feb. 2, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- There's good news when it comes to American teens' diets, with more high school kids saying no to sodas and other sweetened beverages, researchers say.

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that while just over a third of kids in grades 9 through 12 drank a sweetened beverage each day in 2007, that number had fallen to 20.5 percent by 2015.

Still, more can be done to help kids avoid the empty calories of sweetened sodas and drinks, the CDC team said.

Despite declines in soda consumption, "intake of other sugar-sweetened beverages, including energy drinks and sports drinks, are increasing," noted a group led by CDC researcher Caitlin Merlo. "And overall consumption of all sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, fruit drinks and sweetened coffees and teas, remains high."

According to the report, children and adolescents get about 20 percent of their daily calories from beverages. Some of these drinks can contain nutrients such as calcium or vitamins D or C, but many "provide [only] calories with no beneficial nutrients."

Rising child obesity rates have given new urgency to messages about the health hazards of sugary drinks, and the new study suggests those messages may be getting through.

In the study, Merlo's team looked at 2007-2015 data from a large U.S. survey of youth health.

Besides noting the big drop in daily intake of sugary drinks, they said that teens' daily intake of milk also declined (from about 44 percent to 37 percent of those responding), as did 100 percent fruit juice intake (27 percent to 21.6 percent).

It's not clear what, if anything, teens are drinking instead of sodas, milk and juice, although the Dietary Guidelines for Americans currently recommends no-added-sugar beverages such as water.

The decline in soda intake was seen across all subgroups -- boys and girls, all races/ethnicities and all socioeconomic levels.

What's driving these trends? According to the researchers, new federal nutrition standards that called for the elimination of non-diet sodas in schools may have played a role.

"Community-based educational campaigns" may also be spurring more teens to kick the soda habit, Merlo's group said.

More can still be done, however.

"For example," the researchers said, "schools can ensure students have access to free drinking water." Measures could include clean, well-maintained drinking fountains and rules that allow kids to bring bottled water to class.

The study was published Feb. 2 in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

There's more on sugary drinks' impact on kids' diets at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Laundry Detergent Pods Linked to Eye Burn Danger in Kids

Nearly 500 such injuries occurred in 2015, study reports

THURSDAY, Feb. 2, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Liquid laundry detergent pods may be convenient, but young children are suffering vision-threatening burns from the chemicals inside them in increasing numbers, a new study finds.

Between 2012 and 2015, more than 1,200 preschoolers in the United States suffered eye burns from these single-use detergent pods. In 2012, only 12 such burns were reported. By 2015, that number was almost 500.

"These pods look like toys, they look like candy, and kids are finding them, playing with them, puncturing them, and the chemicals inside the pods are getting into their eyes," said lead researcher Dr. R. Sterling Haring, from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Injuries most often occur when children play with the detergent pods and they break and the liquid squirts into their eyes. Burns also happen when kids get the soap on their hands and then touch their eyes, Haring said.

"Laundry detergent pods are playing a large and growing role in chemical eye burns among small children," he said.

As a proportion of all chemical burns to the eye among kids, burns from these liquid laundry pods rose from less than 1 percent in 2012 to 26 percent in 2015, Haring said.

"I am expecting the number of burns in 2016 to be higher than 2015. These numbers have grown every year," he said.

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI), an industry trade group, said in a statement that the study looked at accidents that occurred before the industry introduced a voluntary safety standard for these products.

Most detergent manufacturers by the end of 2016 have already made changes to their products to conform to a new set of guidelines, the ACI said. These new guidelines call for pods that can withstand squeezing pressure from a child. The pods also have a bitter substance on their outer layer to keep children from swallowing their contents. And packaging of the pods is now opaque so the laundry pods can't be seen from outside the packaging, the group said.

The industry will look at data from 2017 to see if the changes helped prevent injuries to children, the ACI statement said.

For the study, Haring and his colleagues used data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to look for eye injuries caused by chemical burns or conjunctivitis among 3- to 4-year-olds between 2010 and 2015.

One of the reasons laundry pods can be dangerous is that chemicals in the pods are alkaline rather than acidic, Haring said. Alkaline chemicals are more likely to cause lasting damage than acidic chemicals, he said.

"The detergent can burn the cornea, leaving a scar that can impair vision or potentially cause blindness," Haring said. "In the most severe cases, children may need a corneal transplant to restore vision."

If a child has a chemical burn, step one is to rinse the eye with cool water under a faucet for 20 minutes, Haring said.

"Call 911 or take the child to an emergency room, but do it after you rinse the eye for 20 minutes," he said. "That is the first step, and that's the most important step. The longer those chemicals sit on the eye, the higher the likelihood they are going to leave a lasting burn and threaten vision."

Dr. Zenia Aguilera, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, agreed. "If an accident happens, the most important thing is to wash the eye with tap water," she said.

"These chemicals are so concentrated, it makes them more likely to cause injury," Aguilera said.

"These injuries usually heal without any scaring, but it's extremely painful," she added.

As with any chemical, these laundry pods should be kept away from children, Aguilera advised.

Haring agreed, and said preventing these chemical burns starts with keeping the pods in sealed containers and away from children. "The best thing that can be done today is to put these pods out of reach, out of sight," he said.

The report was published online Feb. 2 in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

More information

For more on detergent pods, visit the American Association of Poison Control Centers .

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Most U.S. Adults Support Routine Child Vaccine

Survey finds 80 percent have positive view of the shot against measles, mumps and rubella

THURSDAY, Feb. 2, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- More than eight out of 10 Americans support mandatory measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination for children attending public schools, a new survey finds.

Despite some well-publicized opposition, this look at vaccination attitudes by the Pew Research Center finds that, overall, 88 percent of Americans believe that the benefits of the MMR vaccine outweigh any risks.

Nearly three-quarters of the more than 1,500 adults surveyed said they believe there are health benefits from the MMR vaccine. Two-thirds are also confident there's a low risk of side effects from the vaccine.

But the findings, released Thursday, reveal some differences related to age, race and education, said study lead author Cary Funk.

"In addition to parents of young children, this analysis finds that adults under age 30, blacks and people with lower knowledge about science topics see a higher risk of side effects or lower preventive health benefits from this vaccine," said Funk, Pew's associate director of research.

By contrast, wealthier Americans with knowledge of science are very likely to support school-based MMR vaccine requirements, the researchers found.

Funk said public health benefits from vaccines depend on very high rates of immunization, explaining it's important to understand which groups hold reservations about the MMR vaccine.

Among parents of young children, 52 percent with kids aged 4 or younger say the risk of side effects from the MMR vaccine is low, while 43 percent believe the risk is medium or high.

Adults without under-18 children, on the other hand, have more faith in the vaccine: 70 percent say the odds of side effects are low, while about 30 percent think they're medium or high, the survey found.

Similarly, three out of five parents with preschool-age or younger children say the preventive health benefits of the MMR vaccine are high, compared with at least 75 percent of parents with children ages 5 to 17 or older.

Attitudes toward modern science also affect views on vaccination.

"This survey looks in-depth at people's views about vaccines to explore which groups have more reservations about the MMR vaccine and whether or not those views are connected with people's trust in medical science," said Funk.

The researchers said they found it "striking" that parents of young children express more concern than others about the safety of the MMR vaccine. "Yet . . . they hold broadly positive views about medical scientists and their research on childhood vaccines," Funk said.

Groups less likely to back MMR requirements include people who've tried alternative medicine, the survey revealed.

As for the racial divide, 56 percent of blacks compared with 79 percent of whites say there are preventive health benefits from MMR vaccination.

Also, 44 percent of blacks versus 30 percent of whites are concerned that the likelihood of side effects is medium or high.

As for politics, Republicans and Democrats express roughly similar attitudes about MMR benefits and side effects. But political conservatives are more inclined than moderates or liberals to believe parents should have the final say on childhood vaccination.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two doses of MMR vaccine -- the first dose at age 12 to 15 months, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.

According to its website, the Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan "fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about vaccine-preventable childhood diseases.

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Dressing Baby for a Safe Winter Drive

Avoid bulky clothing, American Academy of Pediatrics says

SUNDAY, Feb. 5, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Winter can present challenges for parents trying to dress their children properly for the weather. This is especially true when the outing involves placing kids in child car seats, so a pediatricians' group offers some advice.

Children should not wear bulky clothing underneath the harness of a car seat, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says. The force of a crash would flatten out the fluffy padding in winter coats or other such clothing. That would leave extra space under the harness, putting the child at risk of slipping through the straps and being thrown from the seat.

Instead, dress your child in thin layers, the academy says. Start with close-fitting layers, such as long underwear, tights, leggings and long-sleeved bodysuits. Then add pants and a warm top, such as a sweater or thermal-knit shirt. A thin fleece jacket can then be put on top.

The general rule is that infants should wear one more layer than adults. If you have a hat and coat on, your baby should have a hat, coat and blanket. Just be sure to add the blanket over the top of the harness straps, not under, according to recommendations in a news release from the AAP.

Be sure to tighten the straps of the car seat harness, which can be difficult to do if your child is wearing multiple layers of clothing. If you can pinch the straps of the car seat harness, you need to continue tightening them until they fit snugly against your child's chest, the academy advises.

Keep the carrier part of the car seat inside the house when not in use, the AAP suggests. This will keep the seat at room temperature, reducing the loss of your child's body heat in the car.

If you use a car seat cover, make sure it doesn't have a layer under the baby. Many stores sell car seat bundling products, but these aren't safe to use in a car seat, the academy says. And never use sleeping bag inserts or other stroller accessories in a car seat.

It's also important to leave the baby's face uncovered to avoid trapped air and re-breathing.

Finally, it's a good idea to always pack a car emergency bag. Include in it extra blankets, dry clothes, hats and gloves, and non-perishable snacks in case of an on-road emergency or if your child gets wet on a winter outing.

More information

Safe Kids Worldwide has more on car seat safety.

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