Gary A. Emmett, M.D., F.A.A.P
As you’ve probably noticed, peanut allergies appear to be increasing in the United States, but not in other countries. We do not know the reason yet, but there are a number of proposed theories that haven’t been proven. Once you have peanut allergy it can be very serious, causing any allergic symptom from a mild itchy rash to complete lung closure and death. There was a flurry of news stories this summer about a 13-year-old at a California summer camp who died from eating a Rice Krispies treat that she did not know had peanuts in it despite being given epinephrine. I know that our synagogue school has totally banned any product that does not state it was made in a factory without peanuts. Some parents are very frightened by nuts around their children.
If your child isn’t allergic to nuts, a recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that you should incorporate nuts into your family’s diet. The NEJM study found that the consumption of peanuts and tree nuts was strongly associated with decreased mortality from all causes in a very large group of medical professionals (about 120, 000) who were followed in detail for almost 30 years. This is a very strong study since it can state that other variables that may be associated with eating nuts (such as getting more exercise or smoking less or eating a healthier diet) is not different between the groups. The only difference is that people who eat nuts live longer. Also, the more days per week you eat nuts, the more you reduces your chance of dying at any given age.
This wasn’t a small difference either. If you eat peanuts and/or tree nuts daily, you increase your chance of not dying at any given age by 20 percent of any cause. Your chance of having a heart attack goes down, but so does your chance of having cancer. Why? We do not know, but it something to take seriously considering it was a large and well done study.
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D., Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Holidays are meant for sharing, spending time with family and friends, and celebrating traditions. Although injuries are not necessarily more common during the Christmas holidays, keeping our kids safe will keep the holidays festive and maximize our enjoyment.
Studies focused on injuries during the Christmas season have reported eye trauma from Christmas trees, choking from Christmas ornaments, ingestion of toxic decorative plants, and falls associated with decorations. Here are some pointers to keep our kids safe during the holidays:
- Secure and stabilize the Christmas tree so it doesn’t topple when pulled.
- Keep heavy ornaments and stocking hangers, out of reach so they don’t fall and injure young children.
- Keep electric wires secure to prevent tripping
- Keep Christmas trees well-watered and at least 3 feet away from heat sources, and make sure electric tree lights are properly wired. Don’t leave lit candles unattended. Refer to holiday fire safety tips from the U.S. Fire Administration.
- Always supervise young children around fireplaces. They can touch the screen and burn their fingers.
- For households with young children, avoid hanging small ornaments, and check that tree and shrub lights are secure, to prevent choking.
- Keep decorative poisonous plants such as poinsettia, mistletoe, and holly, out of young children’s reach. The poinsettia sap can cause skin and mouth irritation or vomiting. Eating a large amount of mistletoe berries can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart, and respiratory rate, and rarely, shock or even death. Eating holly berries can cause vomiting and diarrhea. If your child ingests any of these plants, call the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) immediately for advice.
- When it is cold, always dress children warmly, especially when shopping with them outdoors.
- During parties, ask about your guests’ food allergies. Request that guests with multiple food allergies bring alternate “safe” food from home.
Check out other holiday health and safety tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Denise Jeffery RD, LDN
Denise Jeffery RD, LDN is a clinical dietitian for Healthy Weight Program at The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia.
With the holidays fast approaching, many families have a tradition of making cookies together. Traditional chocolate chip cookies can have as much as 130 calories and 6 grams of fat per cookie.
Try this adapted Weight Watchers version to trim the calories to 60 and the fat to 2 grams per cookie!
Today's guest blogger is Heather Manning who lives in Bethlehem, Pa. with her partner and their sons, Lucas and Miles. Together they hike, paddle, run, swim, visit farms, and attend festivals throughout the Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley area. Her blog originally appeared on Kids Outdoors Philadelphia, a free online community from the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Now that brisk winter weather has arrived and snow flurries have made their way through a few areas, it’s time to start planning some fun winter activities to enjoy with your family. Below are a few of my favorite picks for Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, and surrounding areas.
Anna Nguyen, Healthy Kids blog Editor
Manhattan Group recalled about 12,400 of its Quixel baby rattles in the United States and Canada because the colored arches can break, creating a small part which poses a choking hazard to small children. The plastic rattles have four, colored arches (red, orange, green and blue) with sliding beads on each of the arches. The arches are held together by a single string of red, white and blue elastic.
No injuries have been reported, but the company received four reports of the rattles breaking. For more information, go the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Website.
Have a question for the Healthy Kids panel? Ask it here.
Lauren Falini, Bariatric exercise physiologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
It seems like 2-years-olds are always on the move. A typical day for a toddler might involve running around the house as your chasing him, wearing himself out at the playground, and racing around on a ride on toy.
But is this enough physical activity? What kind of exercise does a toddler need? The National Association of Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends that toddlers 12 to 36 months old should get at least 30 minutes of structured adult led physical activity, and at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity or free play. It is also recommended that toddlers should not spend more than one hour being inactive except when they are sleeping.
These are important guidelines. Studies have found that active children sleep better, maintain healthier weight and remain active through childhood. Being active also helps prevent diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D., Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
A significant part of my work as a cognitive-behavioral therapist specializing in anxiety and related disorders is providing families with recommendations for good resources. “Good resources,” in these cases, are usually books and websites that offer general, up-to-date information on the disorder for which I am treating the child, as well as sound suggestions for at-home interventions (i.e., parent manuals). Of course I provide such psychoeducation in session, but I like parents to be able to hear the information more than once, from more than one source, and for it to be accessible to them outside of the therapy hour.
What I do not want is for families to garner information or recommendations for treatments from “unsafe” sources – that is, sources that provide information that is not scientifically supported or has been directly contradicted by science. In fact, I explicitly warn families about this, because there is so much misinformation on the web. During initial sessions, when giving my families handouts printed with what I think are the best and safest sources of information on their child’s disorder and treatment for that disorder, I typically say: “Please DO NOT put the name of your child’s diagnosis into Google search and hit ‘return.’ You will receive millions of hits, many of them from untrustworthy sources having something to sell, and you will feel even more overwhelmed than you already do. Instead, start with these I am recommending – you can always read more later.”
I've given my recommendations for resources on obsessive-compulsive disorder, for children who have difficulty with pill swallowing, tic disorders and school refusal. What follows are my current recommendations for good resources on trichotillomania and other habit disorders.
Anna Nguyen, Healthy Kids blog Editor
The holiday season is officially here! The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these helpful reminders to keep you and your family safe during this time of year:
- When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant."
- When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and needles do not break when bent between your fingers. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
- When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
- Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
- Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
- Check all tree lights--even if you've just purchased them--before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
- Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
- Some light strands may contain lead in the bulb sockets and wire coating, sometimes in high amounts. Make sure your lights are out of reach of young children who might try to mouth them, and wash your hands after handling them.
- Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
- Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
- Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
- Allergies and Asthma
- Anita Kulick
- Anna Nguyen
- Beth Wallace
- Child Abuse
- Christopher C. Chang
- Colds and Flu
- Driver's Ed
- Drugs and Alcohol
- Flaura Winston
- Gary A. Emmett
- Growing Pains
- Hazel Guinto-Ocampo
- Health Hazards
- Health reform
- Infectious Diseases
- Janet Rosenzweig
- Katherine Dahlsgaard
- Lauren Falini
- Learning Curve