Posts for: March, 2021
Whooping Cough May Look Like a Cold
You might brush off the early signs of whooping cough because they look an awful lot like the common cold. Older children and teens may develop congestion, mild fever, cough, or runny nose; however, within the first 1-2 weeks you will notice that the cough gets worse. In fact, your child may develop severe and sudden coughing fits.
Children and newborns are more likely to display severe symptoms. They may not have a whoop in their cough, but they may vomit or show severe fatigue after coughing. While anyone can develop whooping cough, infants are at particular risk for serious and life-threatening complications so it’s important to have your family vaccinated.
Vaccines Can Protect Against Whooping Cough
While newborns are too young to be vaccinated against whooping cough, you should make sure that the rest of your family is fully vaccinated. The DTaP vaccine will protect against whooping cough and will be administered at 2, 4, and 6 months old, again at 15 to 18 months, and again at 6 years for a total of five doses.
Turn to a Pediatrician Right Away
If you suspect that your child might have whooping cough, you must call your pediatrician right away. Children under 18 months old may require hospitalization so doctors can continuously monitor them, as children are more likely to stop breathing with whooping cough. Of course, coming in during the early stages of the infection is important as antibiotics are more effective at the very start of the illness.
- Resting as much as possible
- Staying hydrated
- Sticking to smaller meals to safeguard against cough-induced vomiting
- Making sure your family is up to date on their vaccinations
When to Consider a Pacifier
How to Phase Out the Pacifier
- Do not tease or punish your child for using a pacifier, but instead praise them when they do not use it. Provide them with rewards when they go without it.
- Some children use pacifiers out of boredom, so give your child something to do to distract them such as playing with a game or toy (to keep their hands busy).
- If incentives and rewards aren’t enough and your child is still using a pacifier, your pediatrician may recommend a “thumb guard” that can prevent your child from sucking their thumb. While you may feel in a rush to get rid of your child’s pacifier, it’s important to be patient. All children eventually stop this habit.
Recent news about heavy metals found in baby food can leave parents with a lot of questions.
Here's some information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about the risk of toxic metal exposure to children, and how to help minimize it.
Can heavy metals in baby food harm my baby?
The low levels of heavy metals found in baby foods likely are a relatively small part of a child's overall toxic metal exposure risk. However, exposure from all sources should be minimized. Toxic metal exposure can be harmful to the developing brain. It's been linked with problems with learning, cognition, and behavior. But keep in mind that many genetic, social, and environment factors influence healthy brain development, and toxic metal exposure is just one of these factors.
How do heavy metals get into foods?
Metals are found naturally in the Earth's crust. They also are released into our environment as pollution and get into the water and soil used to grow food. Metals can also get into food from food manufacturing and packaging. Some of the most common metals that get into food, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, include inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.
How can I reduce my baby's exposure to toxic metals?
Stronger rules and regulations for testing and limiting the amount of heavy metals in foods for babies and toddlers are most important. But there are several steps parents can take now to reduce the risk that kids will be exposed to toxic metals in their diet, and from other sources:
- Serve a variety of foods. Give your child a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables (wash in cool water before preparing and serving), grains, and lean protein. Eating a variety of healthy foods that are rich in essential nutrients can lower the exposure to toxic metals and other contaminants found in some foods.
- Read the labels. Multi-ingredient baby food blends may be a good option. Be aware that many have the same first or second ingredient, though. Different flavor blends, like kale/pear and spinach/pumpkin, for example, may actually both have sweet potatoes as their first ingredient. It's important to read the ingredients label to be sure you are offering a true variety of foods.
- Switch up your grains. Fortified infant cereals can be a good source of nutrition for babies, but rice cereal does not need to be the first or only cereal used. Rice tends to absorb more arsenic from groundwater than other crops. You can include a variety of grains in your baby's diet, including oat, barley, couscous, quinoa, farro, and bulgur. Multi-grain infant cereals can be a good choice. Try to avoid using rice milk and brown rice syrup, which is sometimes used as a sweetener in processed toddler foods.
Tips for choosing & cooking rice for your children
Keep in mind that, among different types of rice, brown rice tends to have the highest arsenic levels. White basmati and sushi rice tends to have lower levels. When making rice from scratch, rinse it first. Cook it in extra water and then drain off the excess when's it's done.
- Check your water. Heavy metals can get into tap water: for example, arsenic can contaminate well water, and older pipes may contain lead. You can contact your local health department to have your water tested if this is a concern.
- Breastfeed if possible. Breastfeeding, rather than formula feeding, also can help reduce exposure to toxic metals. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months.
- Avoid fruit juice. Offer toddlers and young children sliced or pureed whole fruits rather than juice. Some fruit juices can contain concerning levels of heavy metals. Plus, juice is high in sugar and not as nutrient rich as whole fruit. Stick with breast milk or formula for babies under 6 months old, and water and milk after they reach age 1.
- Make healthy fish choices. Some types of fish can be high in a form of mercury called methylmercury, and other metals. Of most concern are large, predatory fish that eat other fish and live longer, such as shark, orange roughy, swordfish, and albacore/white tuna. Eating too much contaminated fish can harm a child's developing nervous system. But fish is also an excellent source of protein and other nutrients children need, and many are low in mercury. Look for better options like light tuna (solid or chunk), salmon, cod, whitefish, and pollock.
- Consider homemade baby food . There are several benefits to making your own baby food fresh at home: it can be cost-effective, avoids potential contaminants from processing or packaging, and you can choose the ingredients. But keep in mind that offering a variety of foods is just as important when making your own baby food as when shopping for prepared baby foods.
- Address lead hazards in your home. There are other important ways to help reduce your baby's exposure to toxic metals. The most common source of lead exposure, for example, is from peeling or chipping paint from older homes. Soil, some cosmetics and spices, water, and certain occupations and hobbies can also be sources of exposure. Find more information about lead here.
- Don't smoke or vape. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke from both regular and e-cigarettes, may expose children to metals such as cadmium and lead. Vaping allows toxic metals from the vape coils to get into the air and be inhaled. Secondhand smoke also contains harmful chemicals that can increase the risk of cancer.
Is organic baby food better?
Organic baby foods may have lower levels of certain pesticides and other chemicals. Because heavy metals are found in the soil and can get into prepared foods from processing, however,organic foods often contain similar levels of heavy metals as non-organic foods.
Should my baby be tested for heavy metal exposure?
Until more information about metals in baby foods becomes available, experts say there's no need to get children tested. Tests that look at a child's hair for toxic metal exposure also are not recommended, since this type of testing is scientifically unproven and often inaccurate.
Talk with your pediatrician:
If you're concerned about metals exposure in your child, talk with your pediatrician. Your regional Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) have staff who can also talk with parents about concerns over environmental toxins.
- Ask the Pediatrician: Is it OK to make my own baby food?
- Food Additives: What Parents Should Know
- Is Homemade Baby Formula Safe?
- Heavy Metals in Baby Food and Fruit Juice: Advice for Parents From Environmental Pediatricians
- Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSUs)
If your child is participating in youth sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, remember to take steps that can reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Based on the the latest evidence, these tips can help keep players, coaches and families safe:
Before the sports season starts
- Check to make sure sports and recreation activities are approved by your local and state government.
- Understand the new safety rules and expectations for participation during COVID-19 and talk about them with your child.
- Each child should have their own face mask, hand sanitizer, towel, water bottle, and tissues labeled with their names.
- All youth athletes should have an up-to-date sports physical before participating.
Prior to practice or games
- Athletes should stay home from practice or game if they're feeling sick or have any symptoms of COVID-19, and get a test if the doctor recommends.
- Wash hands before arriving, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available.
- Bring labeled (with name) personal sports equipment, water bottle, towel, tissues, hand sanitizer, and face mask.
- Stay in the car or assigned school location until the coach is ready to start practice.
- Avoid gathering in groups before practice, maintain physical distance and wear a face mask.
If an athlete has COVID-19
Anyone who had a positive COVID-19 test should get their doctor’s approval before returning to exercise or sports. They need a minimum 10-day period to rest, without exercise or competition.
Before returning to physical activity, children should be screened for heart symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, xirregular heartbeat, or fainting. A child with a positive heart screening will need an EKG and referral to a pediatric cardiologist for possible additional cardiac tests.
Once cleared, the child can start a gradual return to physical activity. The doctor will recommend a schedule based on the child's age and how severe their COVID-19 symptoms were.
Children who were very sick from COVID-19 or diagnosed with MIS-C must be treated as though they have an inflamed heart muscle (myocarditis). They should not exercise or compete for 3 to 6 months. A pediatric cardiologist should examine these children before they are allowed to return to exercise or competition.
During sports practice or games
- Athletes should maintain physical distance as much as possible.
- Wear cloth face coverings at all times during group training and competition especially on the sideline, in dugouts, and during team chats. Masks can be removed for some sports, including:
- Water sports such as swimming and diving, since wet masks may be difficult to breathe through.
- Gymnastics, cheer stunts and tumbling, and wrestling, to avoid masks getting caught on equipment or accidentally covering eyes.
- Avoid these behaviors:
- Huddles, high-fives, fist bumps, handshakes, etc.
- Sharing food or drink with teammates.
- Cheering, chanting, or singing when closer than 6-8 feet from others.
- Spitting or blowing nose without a tissue.
- Store personal equipment 6-8 feet away from other teammates' equipment.
- Minimize sharing sports equipment when possible.
- Sanitize hands before and after using shared equipment such as balls, bats and sticks.
- Tell a coach if you are not feeling well and leave practice or game with parent or caregiver.
After sports practice or games
- Sanitize or wash hands.
- Wash or replace face masks, towel and practices clothes or uniform.
- Clean personal sports equipment and water bottle.
Talk with your child's pediatrician if you have any questions about youth sports participation safety, based on COVID-19 in your community and your child's health.
- Masks & Sports: Should Youth Athletes Wear Face Coverings During COVID-19?
- Youth Sports & COVID-19: Understanding the Risks
- Should Your Child Be Tested for COVID-19?