Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A., Temple University Hospital
Today, one in five visits to a pediatric healthcare provider results in a prescription for an antibiotic – this accounts for nearly 50 million antibiotic prescriptions each year in the United States.
However, most upper respiratory tract infections – those in the nose, sinuses and throat -- are caused by viruses and require no antibiotics. As many as 10 million antibiotic prescriptions annually are directed toward respiratory conditions for which they are unlikely to provide beneﬁt. Over prescribing these medications can cause avoidable drug-related side effects, contribute to antibiotic resistance, and add unnecessary medical costs.
To reduce the indiscriminate use of antibiotics for these common infections, the American Academy of Pediatrics released today three principles for the judicious use of antibiotics for pediatric upper respiratory infections.
Beth Wallace Smith, RD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
In the last several weeks, it’s become quite evident that viral season is upon us. With the turn in the weather comes a rise in both respiratory and gastrointestinal (stomach) viruses. Though it would be impossible to eliminate all viruses coming your child’s way, frequent hand washing, getting enough sleep, and proper nutrition is essential in helping their immune system resist a cold or stomach virus.
There isn’t one single food that has been proven in warding off all viruses, but the combination of these foods below can help in giving your child’s immune system a fighting chance.
Five Foods to Fight Viruses
- Low-fat Yogurt: Much of our body’s immune protection comes from our intestinal tract. Yogurt is a natural source of probiotics which helps to promote healthy intestinal barrier to resist harmful bacteria. Though the exact connection is not exactly understood, several studies have found that children who ate yogurt daily had a reduction in respiratory viruses.
- Sweet Potatoes: These delicious dinner additions are a rich source of Vitamin A. It has long been known that Vitamin A deficiency in adults and children has been associated with decreased immune function. Vitamin A is also a key component in maintaining healthy skin, which is our body’s biggest defense organ.
- Lean Beef: Sometimes I think beef gets a bad rap. Beef is rich in zinc and protein, both of which are important for healthy cells. Zinc deficiency has been associated with poor immunologic function, and just 2 ounces of lean beef will provide 50 percent of a 4-8 year old child’s needs. Vegetarian? Fortified cereals that contain at least 3 mg of zinc per serving are a good choice.
- Kiwi: If I told you that this little green fruit packs more Vitamin C than an orange, would you believe me? Well, you should. Tasty, nutrient-dense, and easy on the budget during the winter season, Kiwi is really a “superfood” from many angles. While eating enough vitamin C won’t prevent a cold, some research suggests that adequate intake can shorten the duration and severity of symptoms.
- Water: As simple as can be, water helps the body make sure that all systems are working as efficiently as possible, and helps to eliminate waste as needed. Tack it on as another reason to avoid soda, sports drinks, and juice; nothing is a better hydrator for your children than water.
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A., Temple University Hospital
It’s generally thought that young children and those with high-risk medical conditions are at a higher risk of flu-related complications – which can include pneumonia, encephalitis, and even death. Although it’s not common, the flu can also be fatal in healthy children with no underlying diseases or chronic conditions, found an analysis from the CDC released online today from Pediatrics.
Beginning in 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandated the reporting of all pediatric deaths due to influenza virus infection. Today, the CDC released this information for the period October 1, 2004 through September 30, 2012. To summarize:
- 830 children between 6 months and 17 years of age died of influenza virus infection or its complications during the study period.
- The seasonal pediatric mortality rate from influenza varied from 0.5 to 3.8 deaths per million children.
- The seasonal median age of pediatric deaths ranged from 3 to 8.5 years with an overall median age of 7 years.
- Almost half of the children who died from influenza virus were previously healthy children with NO underlying diseases or chronic conditions.
- Of those children with chronic illnesses, asthma and cerebral palsy accounted for almost a quarter of the deaths.
- For those victims whose vaccination status was known, 80% were not vaccinated or were inadequately vaccinated.
So what does the study mean for your child? First, the mortality rate for influenza virus infection among children is low, but not zero. Because it is a rate, the higher the number of infected children, the greater the number of deaths in a given season.
Stephen C. Aronoff, M.D.
Once again, school has begun and our thoughts turn to one thing…the flu. Every year, the world is treated to this wintertime malady and health policy officials along with pediatricians urge parents to protect their children through vaccination. This annual ritual raises a lot of questions. The Academy of Pediatrics released its flu vaccination recommendations online today for this year’s flu season.
Here are some commonly asked questions about the upcoming flu season and vaccination:
Most vaccines are given at infrequent intervals. Why does my child have to receive a flu vaccine every year?
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