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by Robert Preidt

Phone-Focused Parents a Danger to Their Kids at Playground

This distraction raises odds of child injuries, study finds
SATURDAY, April 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Young children are more likely to suffer playground injuries when their parents are texting or talking on a cell phone, a new study shows.
Even chatting with other caregivers ups the odds your kid will get hurt, the study found.
Researchers from the Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York observed 50 parent/child pairs at seven playgrounds. The children were between 18 months and 5 years old. For 10 to 20 minutes, one researcher watched the parent while another researcher watched the child.
Parents were distracted 74 percent of the time, but most of the distractions were mild, with the majority of the parent's attention focused on the child, they found.
Talking with other adults accounted for 33 percent of distractions, followed by cell phones and other electronic devices at 30 percent. Activities such as eating, drinking, reading and looking in a bag or purse accounted for the remaining 37 percent of distractions.
Nearly one-third of the children did risky things, such as walking up the slide, sliding head first, throwing sand, jumping off moving swings and pushing other children. Youngsters whose parents were distracted were much more likely to behave unsafely, the researchers said.
Three of five falls observed occurred while a caregiver was distracted, they said.
The study was to be presented Saturday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
"Caregivers in general are doing a fine job supervising their children on the playground. However, increased awareness of limiting electronic distractions and other activities that may interfere with supervision should be considered," study author Dr. Ruth Milanaik, director of Cohen's neonatal neurodevelopmental follow-up program, said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release.
The study's co-author, Anna Krevskaya, a third-year fellow, said the study demonstrates that children regularly engage in risk-taking behaviors. "They are, however, more likely to do so when their caregivers are distracted," she said in the news release.
Parents should also should talk to their kids about playground safety and etiquette before going to the playground, the researchers added.
Each year, more than 200,000 children aged 14 and younger are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for playground-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
More information
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about child safety ( ).
SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, April 25, 2015
by Robert Preidt

Teens With History of Self-Poisoning Face Greater Suicide Risk

Study finds odds as much as 30 times higher, even years later
SATURDAY, April 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who survive self-poisoning with drugs are at a significantly increased risk for suicide over the following decade, a new study shows.
"Self-poisoning in adolescence is a strong predictor of suicide and premature death in the ensuing decade, and identifies a high-risk group for targeted prevention," study co-leader Dr. Yaron Finkelstein said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release.
"Suicide risk is markedly increased for many years after the first hospital presentation, emphasizing the importance of sustained prevention efforts in this vulnerable population," added Finkelstein, a staff physician in the divisions of emergency medicine and clinical pharmacology and toxicology at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
The new study included more than 20,000 teens in the province of Ontario who were treated at hospital emergency rooms for self-poisoning. The researchers followed up on the teens for 12 years or until they died. The teens who had been treated for self-poisoning were compared with more than 1 million teens who hadn't tried to poison themselves.
The median age of the teens when they left the hospital after the first self-poisoning episode was 16. Just over two-thirds of these teens were girls. Acetaminophen -- a pain reliever -- was the most widely used substance in the self-poisoning attempts, followed by antidepressants and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the study revealed.
During the follow-up, almost 250 teens who had previously poisoned themselves died. Suicide accounted for more than half those deaths. The suicide risk among these teens was more than 30 times higher than among their peers in the general population, according to the study.
The researchers noted that the increased risk of suicide lasted for years. Half of the suicides occurred more than three years after the first self-poisoning attempt.
Factors associated with suicide included more attempts at self-poisoning, being male, and being in psychiatric care in the preceding year. Teens hospitalized for self-poisoning were also more likely to die in accidents than those in the general population, the study found.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among American teens, and poisoning is the most common method of attempted suicide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the past decade, hospital admission rates for suicidal ideation and attempts by American children have more than doubled, the researchers added.
The study was to be presented Saturday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego, and will be published simultaneously in The Lancet Psychiatry.
More information
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has more about teen suicide ( ).
SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, April 25, 2015
by Robert Preidt

Young Brains May Gain Skills When Parents Read to Kids

Small study using MRIs suggests being read to boosts ability to visualize stories
SATURDAY, April 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Whether it's Dr. Seuss or Beatrix Potter, when parents read to young children it may spur brain activity that supports early reading skills, a new study finds.
Researchers led by Dr. John Hutton of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center used MRIs to monitor the brains of 19 preschoolers, aged 3 to 5, as they listened to age-appropriate stories on headphones.
The youngsters' parents had provided information about their interactions with their children, including how often they read to them.
While the study can't prove cause-and-effect, being read to at home regularly was strongly linked with activation of certain brain areas involved in getting meaning from language, Hutton's team found.
These areas play a crucial role in speaking and reading, according to study which was to be presented Saturday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego.
There was particularly strong activation in brain areas that support mental imagery, the researchers noted. This type of visualization plays a major role in understanding narratives and readying children for reading by enabling them to "see" the story.
"This becomes increasingly important as children advance from books with pictures to books without them, where they must imagine what is going on in the text," Hutton said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release.
While many experts encourage parents to read to their children from birth to help promote language development, there had been no evidence that doing so might have a direct effect on the brain.
"We are excited to show, for the first time, that reading exposure during the critical stage of development prior to kindergarten seems to have a meaningful, measurable impact on how a child's brain processes stories and may help predict reading success," Hutton said.
However, experts note that findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
More information
The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders outlines speech and language development milestones in children ( ).
SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, April 25, 2015
by Robert Preidt

Malaria Vaccine Shows Promise in Shielding African Children

Even though shot offered less-than-perfect protection, millions might benefit, researchers say
THURSDAY, April 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- According to the World Health Organization, about 584,000 people, mostly in Africa, die from mosquito-borne malaria each year.
Most of those victims are children, but the success of a new malaria vaccine in late-stage trials could offer real hope against the disease, experts say.
There is currently no vaccine for malaria, and the new vaccine, called RTS,S/AS01, was developed for use in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria kills about 1,300 children every day.
The phase 3 trial of the vaccine included more than 15,400 newborns (ages 6 to 12 weeks at first vaccination) and children (5 to 17 months at first vaccination) at 11 sites in seven sub-Saharan African countries.
A team led by Brian Greenwood, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, reported that the vaccine protected the children more than the newborns, but protection weakened over time in both groups. The shot offered children 46 percent protection against malaria, compared to 27 percent protection for the newborns, the investigators found.
However, a booster dose improved protection and lowered the number of cases of malaria deemed to be "severe" by about a third in both newborns and children, according to the study published April 23 in The Lancet.
"Despite the falling efficacy over time, there is still a clear benefit from RTS,S/AS01," Greenwood, a professor of clinical tropical medicine at the school, said in a journal news release.
"An average 1,363 cases of clinical malaria were prevented over four years of follow-up for every 1,000 children vaccinated, and 1,774 cases in those who also received a booster shot," Greenwood said. "Over three years of follow-up, an average 558 cases were averted for every 1,000 infants vaccinated, and 983 cases in those also given a booster dose."
Side effects such as convulsions, though rare, occurred more frequently in children given the new vaccine than in those who did not receive it, the researchers said.
However, "given that there were an estimated 198 million malaria cases in 2013, this level of efficacy potentially translates into millions of cases of malaria in children being prevented," Greenwood explained in the news release.
More information
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about malaria ( ).
SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, April 23, 2015
by Robert Preidt

2nd U.S. Ice Cream Maker Pulls All Products After Listeria Threat

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams joins Blue Bell Creameries after test showing contamination
FRIDAY, April 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- For the second time this week, a major U.S. manufacturer of ice cream has recalled all of its products because of possible contamination with the bacteria listeria.
Ohio-based Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams said Thursday that it was recalling all of its ice creams, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches, and temporarily closing all of its scoop shops.
The company said in a statement that it took the action after possible listeria contamination was found in one random sample that had been tested by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
The company said it wasn't aware of any illnesses caused by its products, and added that it issued the recall "out of an abundance of caution."
Listeria -- officially known as Listeria monocytogenes -- is a bacteria that can cause stomach illness, although it typically does not cause severe illness in healthy people. However, it can pose serious health problems for pregnant women and their newborns, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jeni's, which is based in Columbus, has more than 20 stores in Atlanta; Charleston, S.C.; Chicago; Cleveland; Los Angeles and Nashville. It also sells its products in grocery and other retail stores nationwide and online, CNN reported.
The recall by Jeni's comes three days after Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries, the fourth largest ice cream maker in the country, pulled all of its products off the market after listeria was found in some half-gallon containers of its chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
In the past year, three people in Kansas have died and 10 people in four states have become ill due to listeria bacteria believed to have come from Blue Bell products, the CDC said this week.
The FDA said Thursday night that it does not believe there's a link between the listeria contamination in Blue Bell and Jeni's products.
"We are continuing to investigate both situations and will provide updated information to consumers as we learn more," agency spokeswoman Lauren Sucher said.
On Monday, Blue Bell said it was pulling all of its frozen dessert products off the market because they might be contaminated with listeria.
Blue Bell distributes frozen desserts to about half of the United States, The New York Times reported.
Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said listeria causes "about 1,600 infections a year and about three to four outbreaks a year in the United States."
About 260 deaths occur as a result -- far fewer than the number linked to salmonella, another foodborne illness, the CDC said.
Dr. Brendan Jackson, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC, said the number of severe cases of listeria is "actually rare."
"If you have eaten a food that has been recalled and you don't have any symptoms, there is no need to worry," he said. But if symptoms do develop over the next few weeks, see your doctor, Jackson said.
Glatter agreed that "most people who eat food contaminated by listeria won't become very ill. They can have nausea, vomiting, muscle ache and diarrhea."
However, he added, "there is a more invasive type of illness that can affect people with weakened immune systems, such as those who have HIV, or people with diabetes, heart disease, pregnant women, infants and the frail elderly."
In these people, listeria can cause serious illness, including meningitis and blood poisoning. "It can also result in stillborn infants and miscarriages," he said.
The germ is usually associated with failure to keep foods cool enough or keeping foods too long, he added.
Unlike most other bacteria, listeria can grow and multiply in the refrigerator, the CDC warned, although Jackson said finding the bug in ice cream is rare.
The outbreak in Blue Bell products was one of the first times it had been seen in ice cream, he said. "Over the years, listeria outbreaks have mostly been among soft cheeses, deli meats and other ready-to-eat meats," Jackson said.
Listeria bacteria can live in a food-processing factory for years, sometimes contaminating food products, according to the CDC.
The incubation period for listeria is anywhere from three to 70 days, Glatter said, adding symptoms of illness usually develop within two weeks to one month after exposure.
More information
For more about listeria, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( ).
SOURCES: April 23, 2015, statement, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Columbus, Ohio; April 20, 2015, statement, Blue Bell Creameries, Brenham, Texas; Brendan Jackson, M.D., medical epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Robert Glatter, M.D., emergency medicine physician, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; CNN; The New York Times
by Robert Preidt

Childhood Abuse, Neglect Linked to High Blood Pressure in Adulthood

Finding suggests interventions aimed at these kids might make a difference, researcher says
FRIDAY, April 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Children who suffer abuse or neglect are at increased risk for high blood pressure when they're adults, new research suggests.
The study included nearly 400 white and black students in the Richmond County public school system in Georgia whose blood pressure was measured an average of 13 times over 23 years, until they reached a median age of 30.
When the participants were 18, they were asked if they had experienced what the researchers called "adverse" childhood events, which include emotional, physical or sexual abuse, emotional or physical neglect, or substance abuse or domestic violence at home.
About 70 percent of the participants reported at least one such event and 18 percent reported more than three. While the study couldn't prove cause-and-effect, the more adverse events reported by participants, the higher their blood pressure was as young adults.
For example, a white male who reported four or more adverse events had a systolic blood pressure (top number) of 127, compared with 117 for a similar white male who reported no such events, according to the researchers.
A 10-point higher systolic reading -- which denotes the pressure while the heart is contracting -- in early adulthood increases the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease by middle and/or old age.
"That is a big difference. You can predict that five years later, these young people may be hypertensive," study corresponding author Shaoyong Su, a genetic epidemiologist at the Medical College of Georgia, said in a college news release.
"We hope these studies will reinforce the need to screen children and young adults for adverse childhood events, so this increased risk can be identified early to enhance resiliency and recovery, and lessen the burden of cardiovascular [heart] disease later in life," Su said.
"First we have to know and accept that these difficult problems occur to some extent in the majority of our children," he added.
The study was published recently in the journal Circulation.
More information
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how to prevent high blood pressure ( ).
SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia, news release, April 16, 2015
by Robert Preidt

Childhood Self-Control Linked to Better Job Prospects Later in Life

Study shows potential long-term impact from behavior learned as a child
FRIDAY, April 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Self-control during childhood is associated with improved job opportunities later in life, a new study suggests.
Kids who pay attention, stick with difficult tasks and refrain from behaving in impulsive or inappropriate ways are more likely to hold down a job as adults, researchers found. They noted children with these qualities spend 40 percent less time out of work than those with less self-control.
"The study highlights the importance of early life self-control as a powerful predictor of job prospects in adulthood," lead researcher Michael Daly, of the University of Stirling in Scotland, said in a news release from the Association for Psychological Science.
But, it's important to note that the study was only designed to find an association between childhood self-control and later employment; it doesn't prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The study was published recently in the journal Psychological Science.
The researchers examined two previous studies involving more than 15,000 British children as young as 7, to analyze the link between self-control and employment as an adult.
After taking the kids' intelligence, social status, health and family circumstances into account, the study revealed a clear link between self-control and the ability to find and keep a job in the future.
The researchers also looked at what happened during the 1980s recession. People who had poor self-control as children were also more likely to have a long stretch of unemployment during this period. And, those with poor self-control were among the first to lose their jobs. They also had more trouble finding a new position. Researchers pointed out many factors could be to blame, including stress, bad habits and the negative effects of being unemployed.
"Less self-controlled children may be particularly vulnerable to unemployment during times of economic downturn in later life," said Daly. "Developing greater self-control in childhood, when the capacity for self-control is particularly malleable, could help buffer against unemployment during recessions and bring long-term benefits to society, through increased employment rates and productivity."
The study authors noted that preschool interventions and activities such as yoga and martial arts, walking and meditation have been shown to help children improve their self-control.
More information
The U.S. National Mental Health and Education Center provides more tips on how to teach children self-control ( ).
SOURCE: Association for Psychological Science, news release, April 14, 2015.
by Robert Preidt

Cigars Pose Dangers Similar to Cigarettes

Risk of death and certain cancers increased, study finds
FRIDAY, April 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking cigars carries the same risk of death as smoking cigarettes, a new review finds.
"The results reinforce the fact that cigar smoking carries many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking. Cigar smoking is linked to fatal oral, esophageal, pancreatic, laryngeal and lung cancers, as well as heart disease and aortic aneurysm," lead researcher Cindy Chang, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said in a news release from BMC Public Health. The findings were published recently in this journal.
Chang and her colleagues found that people who only smoked cigars and didn't use other tobacco products had an increased risk of death from all causes. The risk of death from oral, esophageal and lung cancers was higher for cigar smokers, whether they inhaled the cigar smoke or not, according to the review.
The review also found that cigar smokers who previously smoked cigarettes had a much higher risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than those who had not previously smoked cigarettes.
The current review included 22 North American and European studies that looked at the risk of death associated with cigars and cigarettes. The studies primarily included white men who began cigar smoking in the 1960s, the researchers noted.
Cigar consumption in the United States more than doubled from 6.2 billion in 2000 to 13.7 billion in 2011, according to the researchers. Over that same time period, there was a 33 percent decrease in cigarette consumption.
The growing use of cigars by older children and young adults is particularly troubling, the study authors said. In 2009-2010, about 16 percent of Americans ages 18-24 said they had smoked cigars at least one day in the past 30 days, the researchers reported.
Other recent research found that in 2012, nearly 13 percent of U.S. high school students had smoked cigars or cigarillos (smaller, more narrow cigars) at least one day in the past 30 days.
More information
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about cigars ( ).
SOURCE: BMC Public Health, news release, April 23, 2015
by Robert Preidt

Could Blowing Your Horn Cut Your Odds for Sleep Apnea?

Playing a wind instrument may help strengthen airways, researchers suggest
FRIDAY, April 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Playing a wind instrument may reduce your risk of sleep apnea, a new study suggests.
Researchers in India tested the lung function of 64 people who played a wind instrument and 65 others who didn't.
Even though there was no difference in the two groups' lung function tests, the people who played a wind instrument had a lower risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea.
This is likely because playing a wind instrument results in stronger muscles in the upper airways, the researchers said. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder involving disrupted breathing.
"The findings of our small study present an interesting theory on preventative measures or treatment in sleep apnea," study author Silas Daniel Raj, from the Sree Balaji Medical College and Hospital in Tamil Nadu, India, said in a European Lung Foundation news release.
"If the findings are confirmed in larger groups, wind instrument playing could become a cheap and non-invasive method of preventing sleep apnea in those at risk of developing the condition," Raj added.
The study was presented April 17 at the Sleep and Breathing Conference in Barcelona, Spain. Findings presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
More information
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about sleep apnea ( ).
SOURCE: European Lung Foundation, news release, April 16, 2015
by Robert Preidt

Drug-Related HIV Outbreak Spurs Nationwide Alert

More than 140 cases of the AIDS-causing virus reported in rural Indiana
FRIDAY, April 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- With narcotic painkiller abuse now linked to 142 cases of HIV in rural Indiana, U.S. health officials are alerting other states to watch for clusters of HIV and hepatitis C among injection drug users.
The Scott County epidemic is "a powerful reminder that people who inject drugs are at high risk for both HIV and hepatitis," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.
HIV, the AIDS-causing virus, "can gain ground at any time unless we remain vigilant about prevention, testing and care," he said during a Friday morning news conference.
There is no indication that HIV infection among injection drug users is spreading beyond this area of Indiana, he said. "But it will be critical to examine all available data on the state and local level to assess whether HIV is increasing among injection drug users in any area and to be sure any increases are being detected," Mermin said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 3,900 new cases of HIV each year are attributable to injection drug use. "That's down nearly 90 percent from a peak of 35,000 annually in the 1980s," Mermin noted.
However, because of widespread narcotic painkiller abuse in the United States, hepatitis C infections increased 150 percent between 2010 and 2013, Mermin said. Most of these infections have resulted from sharing needles, he pointed out.
The CDC health advisory is designed to alert state health departments to the hepatitis C epidemic and the possibility of current or future HIV outbreaks among people who inject drugs, Mermin said. Hepatitis C can lead to serious liver disease, including cancer.
"We are asking states to take a look at their most recent data on HIV and hepatitis C as well as overdose deaths and admissions for drug treatment -- and drug arrests -- to help identify communities that could be at high risk for unrecognized clusters of hepatitis C and HIV infection," he said.
Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams said during the news conference that the Scott County outbreak is unique because the rural locale has had little HIV previously and because it's related to pervasive injection drug use.
"We literally have new cases being reported every day on an hourly basis," Adams said.
As part of Indiana's response to the outbreak, Gov. Mike Pence has issued an executive order allowing a 30-day needle exchange program. The program has been extended for another 30 days.
Also speaking at the news conference, Dr. Joan Duwve, chief medical consultant to the Indiana State Department of Health, said nearly all of the HIV cases identified have been related to injections of the painkiller oxymorphone (Opana).
Even though oxymorphone tablets are tamper-resistant, Duwve said drug abusers have found a way to make the drug injectable.
Addicts inject themselves as many as 10 times a day to maintain their high and prevent withdrawal, she said. Frequent injections and needle-sharing increase the risk of HIV transmission, she said.
Steps taken by the state health department include the launch of a public education and testing program, she said. This is "a one-stop shop to provide services to the community, including HIV testing, registration for insurance coverage and referral to addiction treatment services," Duwve said.
Because Scott County has only one doctor, Duwve said they've set up an HIV clinic staffed by medical teams from Indiana State University.
Mermin said that, "The situation in Indiana is a warning that we cannot let down our guard against this deadly infection."
More information
For more on HIV, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( ).
SOURCES: April 24, 2015, news conference with: Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., Indiana State Health Commissioner; Joan Duwve, M.D. chief medical consultant, Indiana State Department of Health

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