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6 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe and Healthy This Winter

By Jamell Andrews

I know it’s early in the summer season but when winter brings with it the allure of freshly fallen snow and all kinds of fun cold-weather activities that children love. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of viruses and bacteria that lead to colds and flu. Use these tips to help keep your kids safe and healthy this winter, not to mention warm!

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Sticker Shock for Those Considering Starting or Expanding Their Family

By Lisa Pecos

If you’re considering starting a family, chances are that you’ve given some thought to the extra expense that having a child will add to your responsibilities, but exactly how much it costs may surprise you. A report just released last week is giving wannabe parents a bad case of sticker shock, reporting that raising a child can cost you close to a quarter of a million dollars.

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Early Signs of Autism to Look Out For

Signs of Autism

By Lisa Pecos

Most children with autism don’t get a final diagnosis until the age of four. There is no specific medical test or blood test to diagnose autism the way you would a medical condition such as cancer or diabetes. Medical professionals base their diagnosis on a child’s behaviour and development. Since children without the condition can exhibit many of the same issues, getting a diagnosis is often delayed. Even so, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that a diagnosis by an experienced professional by the age of two can be very reliable.

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Opioid Overdoses Triple Among Kids & Teens – How to Protect Your Kids

By Lisa Pecos

The Journal of the American Medical Associating (JAMA) Pediatrics recently published an alarming report stating that the number of young children and teens hospitalized in the U.S. for opioid overdose has almost tripled in recent years.

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6 Fun Fall Activities for Families

Fall Activities AVV

By Jamell Andrews

Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t have to mean making life all about school and work. The season of falling leaves and all things pumpkin-spice offers a whole slew of fun, family-friendly activities to enjoy. Here are 6 fun things to do as a family this fall.

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Program to Prevent Teen Pregnancy with Virtual Babies Backfires

Teen pregnancy

By Lisa Pecos

It may seem like something out of an 80s sitcom, but giving teen girls lifelike baby dolls to care for as a way to dissuade them from getting pregnant is something that has been going on for years. A recent study out of Australia, however, has found that this may actually have the opposite effect on teen girls.

Virtual Babies

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Report Finds Medicine is Over-Prescribed for Young Children with ADHD

Attention disorder medicines

By Jamell Andrews

Though behavior therapy is the recommended first line of treatment for young children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a report has found that more children are being treated with medication instead.

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Coping with Infertility and Understanding Your Options

Adoption

Making the decision to start a family is one of the most exciting times in your life. Unfortunately, happiness and joy can quickly turn into depression and fear when a baby cannot be conceived naturally due to infertility issues. Understand that you are not alone. Approximately one in six couples struggles with infertility. With proper resources, support, and patience, you can either find a solution to your infertility or find out what options you have available to you for starting a family.

Consider Your Options

After one year of trying to conceive a child naturally without any success, it’s time to see a fertility doctor. If it’s determined that you are unable to conceive a child naturally, don’t give up hope just yet. There are numerous options available for couples who cannot conceive a child, including surrogacy, adoption, and fostering. There are many women that love the idea of becoming a surrogate to help couples have a baby. The process of surrogacy involves using the father’s sperm and the mother’s eggs (or donor eggs) and artificially inseminating the surrogate so she can carry the baby to term.

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How Much Stress is Too Much: Signs Moms Should Look Out for

Stress Signs in Teenagers

Stress is one of those things that just happens – especially when you’re responsible for the lives of others. Stress is inevitably your body’s natural way of reacting to thoughts or activities in your life that can often make you feel overwhelmed. Your body goes into a “flight or fight” mode which releases stress hormones throughout the body to help you react calmly. While stress is normal and good in some cases, when it becomes too much to bear it can cause a plethora of physical and psychological issues.

Stress Can Lead to Self-Medicating

What many don’t understand is that not dealing with chronic levels of stress can quickly lead to the need to self-medicate. While some might start smoking marijuana at the end of a long day to cope, others will drink several glasses of wine. Although in small doses these substances may seem harmless, prolonged use can lead to your body developing a tolerance and then a dependency which can lead to substance abuse and addiction. If you believe you’ve started self-medicating, the best thing you can do for yourself and your children is to reach out to a program that offers substance abuse recovery for women to get the specialized care you need.

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How Much Sleep Do Your Kids and Teens Really Need?

Sleeping Teen in class AVV

By Lisa Pecos

Chances are that you’ve long been told that you should be aiming for 8 hours of sleep every night, but does that go for your children too? And if you struggle to get in a full 8 hours on most nights, is it realistic to expect that your child or teen can? Experts report that more than one third of the American population doesn’t get enough sleep and this includes children and teens.

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5 Fun Ways to Help Enhance Your Child’s Learning Potential

Child Learning

As parents, you are your child’s first teacher. While you may already be actively involved in their education, there are still things you should be doing at home to help them evolve academically. You’ll need to be the motivator and support system that helps your child to not only retain the information they’re learning now but creates new experiences that will help them succeed in the future – both personally and academically.

Learning Can be Fun

Teaching your child new experiences does not have to be about sitting them down and going over math problems or having them write in their journal. It can actually be “disguised” in fun and creative ways that make them forget that they’re learning in the first place. Below are some great ideas or activities you might try to help boost your child’s “brainpower”:

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5 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe at Amusement Parks

Mother and daughter at amusement park

By Lisa Pecos

Nothing says summer fun like a day at an amusement park. From the rides to the games, amusement parks have all kinds of fun things to do for the whole family. With all of this fun, though, there are also a few risks for children, from getting separated from family to getting injured. The following 5 tips can help keep your kids safe so that you can all enjoy this quintessential summertime experience.

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Protecting Your Kids from Ticks

ticks and kids

By Jamell Andrews

With the warm weather and coming summer vacation, children will be spending more time outdoors. The warmer weather at this time of year also means that that tick season is in full swing. A tick bite can put your child at risk for different diseases, with Lyme disease being especially concerning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the United States yearly.

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How to Get the Most Out of Family Time

Time For Family

By Jamell Andrews

Between school and work, extracurricular activities, and household chores, it’s easy to see why family time is at a premium these days. If you, like may parent’s, are finding that you don’t have nearly as much time to spend together as a family as you’d like, then these tips can help you make the most of what time you do have for more meaningful family time.

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W.A.T.C.H. Releases 2016 Summer Safety Report of Most Dangerous Toys

baby eating plastic toy - dangerous toys

By Lisa Pecos

World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) has released their 2016 Summer Safety Report and chances are that some of your child’s favorite warm-weather toys have made the list. With emergency departments expecting to treat approximately 2.7 million children injured in accidents this summer, parents and caregivers should have a look at the list and through the toy box.

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Recognizing Sensory Processing Issues In Children

Sensory Processing Issues

As a parent who has a child with special needs, you know how difficult it can be to find out why your child is finding life much harder than other children their age.

Finding out why your child is not relating well to the world is the first step to helping your child cope.

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Summer Child Care: What to Do with Older Kids this summer

daycare with teacher

daycare with teacher

By Jamell Andrews

Along with trying to combat the dreaded summer vacation boredom that’s bound to rear its ugly head on an occasion or two, parents of older children also find themselves scrambling for child care solutions when school’s out but work isn’t.

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What to Ask Your Obstetrician During Your First Trimester

obstetrician

The first trimester is the most critical time for growth and development of your baby. At the end of these 3 months, your baby will have developed functioning organs and a nervous system.
There will be a lot of questions that you may have for your obstetrician in order to prepare for your baby’s arrival. Below are some key questions to ask your obstetrician during your first trimester.

What is Prenatal Screening and Testing?

Based on your family medical history and your pregnancy history, your doctor may offer you the option of screening for chromosomal abnormalities with prenatal testing. Recent advances in technology have paved the way for non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), which requires only a blood draw and can be performed as early as week 10 in pregnancy. Work with your obstetrician or your genetic counselor to learn more about your testing options.

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Dads: Your Long Commute Could Have a Negative Effect on Your Kids

By Lisa Pecos

We all know that the commute to work can be stressful and the longer the commute, the more of a pain it is. Past studies have looked into the impact that long commutes have on your health and have found that those with longer commutes are more likely to be overweight, have high blood pressure, and develop cardiovascular disease. Long commutes have also been associated with lower life satisfaction and a higher risk of marital issues, including marriage breakdown.

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How Our Lifestyle Choices Affect Our Kids

Parent Teaching Son

I learned it by watching you!” is a tagline that has taken up permanent residence in our collective cultural brain. Even if we don’t remember the actual commercial in which the young son told his father he learned his drug-seeking/abusive behavior by watching him, we know the line. Moreover, we know that it isn’t just a memorable tagline from the War on Drugs. We know that it is scientifically true: our kids learn their habits, tics, traits and even preferences by watching us.

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7 Tips for Being a Better Stepparent

By Jamell Andrews

With the rate of failed marriages increasing, more and more people are becoming step-parents. Stepping into the role of parent for a child that already has a mother and father isn’t always easy. Even with the challenges you may face, being a stepparent can be rewarding and you can form a strong and loving bond.

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Helicopter Parenting – Are You Guilty of It?

AVV

By Jamell Andrews

It’s hard to imagine that a parent could take too much interest or responsibility for their child or give them too much attention. Isn’t that a parent’s job and right as the person responsible for bringing them into this world and loves them more than anything? It turns out that you could be walking the fine line from a good parent to a helicopter parent that is doing more harm than good.

What Is a Helicopter Parent?

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How Good-Cop, Bad-Cop Parenting Can Harm Children

By Eirian Hallinan

Anyone who has grown up in a household with two parents knows that one parent tends to be easier than the other when it comes to getting their way. This is usually the result of one parent being more comfortable as the disciplinarian than the other. While this can create a nice balance in some cases, a recent study has found that this good-cop, bad-cop parenting can have a negative impact when the difference in parenting is extreme.

The Study

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12 Fun Family-Friendly Summer Activities

By Vanesa Sallego

Summer’s on its way, which means hot and sunny days and your children home from school for some summer vacation. To help make the most of this time of year and keep your children from getting bored, we’ve come up with a list of 12 fun summer activities that are fun for the whole family and affordable.

1. Family road trip

You don’t need to get on a plane or travel far to find something new and exciting to do. Besides, half the fun is getting there! Pick a destination an hour or two from home to explore and get the car games and iPod playlists ready for some quality family time in the car.

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Tips for Travelling with Children

Travelling with Children

By Lisa Pecos

Summer vacation is fast approaching, and while many parents are looking forward to getting away, the idea of travelling with children can be a little daunting to say the least. Fortunately, a little planning can help take the stress out of travelling with children and make vacations a lot easier on the whole family.

Keep it Simple

This is the best possible motto when planning a trip with children, especially younger children. The key is to plan trips that are as simple as can be, from reducing the number of items on your travel itinerary to avoiding flights with multiple connections.

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Making Healthy Foods Fun for Kids

By Jamell Andrews

Most children will take a processed snack pack or treat over fruits and veggies any day, but with childhood obesity becoming an epidemic, finding ways to make healthy foods more appealing is more important than ever.

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with more than 1 in every 3 children being considered overweight or obese. This increases their risk of joint problems, heart disease, and much more.

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Puberty Woes or PCOS: Know the Signs

By Jamell Andrews

As a parent of an adolescent daughter, it’s easy to brush off acne and irregular periods as normal parts of puberty. While missed or heavy periods and acne are certainly common at this stage of a girl’s life, they can also be signs of a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

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5 Things to Watch Out for During Pregnancy to Keep Yourself Healthy

healthy-pregnancy

Most women go into healthy living overdrive as soon as they start trying to get pregnant, which is highly recommended. As soon as conception occurs, your body begins changing, and the healthier you are, the easier it is to cope with all the changes.

Unfortunately, issues can come up during pregnancy that you may not expect or can’t control. But keeping informed and following the health tips below can help you and your baby stay as healthy as possible during all 40 weeks of the pregnancy.

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5 Tips for Talking to Your Teen Driver about Drinking and Driving

Mature parents talking to their adult daughter about drinking and drving

It is a well-known fact that drinking and driving is the number one killer of teenagers in the nation. Cell phone usage while driving is running a close second, but drinking and driving is still the number one cause. It is very important that you talk to your teenager about the dangers of drinking when driving. While it may be hard to talk to your teen, it is important that you do so for not only their safety, but the safety of others on the road with them.

Read on below for some tips for having this difficult conversation with your teen driver.

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Unusual Causes for Asthma Attacks

Odd Things that May Trigger Asthma Attacks

Asthma is an ongoing breathing disorder characterized by difficulty breathing, coughing and sometimes wheezing. About half of all asthma attacks are produced by various allergens, which irritate and inflame the airways; the rest can be caused by factors that have nothing to do with allergies, but which still irritate the airways and cause them to constrict.

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Drinking in Movies and Teenage Drinking

teen_drinking

Teenagers Who Watch Actors Drinking Alcohol in Movies More Likely to Drink Themselves

A study published earlier this year in the journal Pediatrics found that young European teens who watched more scenes of actors drinking in Hollywood movies were more likely to binge-drink and otherwise abuse alcohol.

Researchers gave questionnaires to more than 5,000 15-year-olds from England, and found that youths who had watched the most minutes of drinking scenes in different movies were twice as likely to have problems relating to alcohol as teens who had watched the fewest minutes. Those who had watched the most minutes were also almost 2.5 times more likely to drink at least once a week and 70 percent more likely to binge-drink (that is, drink 5 or more drinks in a single day).

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Can Vaccines Cause Peanut and Other Food Allergies?

Boy and vaccine syringe

Do Vaccines Cause Peanut and Other Food Allergies in Children?

No child health topic is being more hotly debated in the United States right now than mandatory vaccinations — and the side effects, sometimes quite serious or deadly, that many parents believe are a direct result of vaccines given to infants and young children.

Greater numbers of children than ever before are developing food allergies in the U.S., and parents are wondering if heavy vaccine schedules are to blame.

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Reducing Exposure to Environmental Allergens

Child's Allergies

Control Your Child’s Allergies Naturally

Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of our allergy prevention report, we discussed the importance of feeding our children foods that are known to strengthen the immune system and cleanse the body, which will help prevent or lessen allergy symptoms. That is preventing allergies from the inside out, which is essential. But it is also important to prevent them from the outside in — to limit the allergy triggers to which an allergic child is exposed.

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Natural Children’s Allergy Prevention

Children Flu Sneeze Elbow Sick

Natural Ways to Prevent Your Child’s Allergies

Part 1 of 2

Spring is upon us. Flowers — and allergies — are in full bloom.

Are there natural steps that parents can take, to prevent or lessen children’s seasonal allergies? Yes, there are many.

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Taking Short Breaks from Daily Parenting Duties Is Good

Little girl get a pressure to study

Taking Mini-Breaks from Daily Parenting Duties Is Good for You, Will Recharge You

We know that you are a loving, dedicated mom (or dad!), and there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things you want to do for your family. But it is important to remember that taking a break from the daily routine is essential for recharging your ‘go’ and making you feel happier and more positive. After all, feeling more content will help you continue to be a good parent!

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Delaying School Start for Summer-Born and Premature Children

little tired boy sitting at a desk and holding hands to head

Delaying Start of School for Summer-Born or Premature Children Lowers Academic Performance, Says Study; Some Parents Disagree

Children who start school a year later due to summer birthdays or premature births may do worse academically later on, according to a British study published recently in the Journal of Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

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Helping Your Child Prepare for Tests

Elementary school children writing in class

12 Tips to Help Your Child Do Well on Tests

Other than making sure your child gets plenty of study time to prepare for a test, are there specific things that you and he or she can do, to insure they do their best on a test?

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Diabetes in Young Children

SONY DSC

More White, American Children Getting Type 1 Diabetes

Cases of type 1 diabetes are increasing among white American children, especially among 5- to 9-year-olds, according to a study published recently in the journal Diabetes.

Almost 6,000 new cases of the disease were diagnosed in the United States among white teenagers and children, ages 19 and younger, between 2002 and 2009. Most new cases were in children between 5 and 9 years old; smaller increases were seen among children and teens 10 to 19 years old. No increase was seen in cases in children 4 years and younger. Boys were slightly more likely to develop the illness than girls.

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Cigarette Vapor Damages Children’s Lungs

Young man exhaling smoke from electric cigarette

Children’s Lungs Could Be Especially Vulnerable to E-Cigarette Vapor

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, have become popular in the last few years among many people trying to quit regular cigarettes; they were heralded when they were introduced as a much safer way for people to get the nicotine they want, without the thousands of chemicals that are often present in conventional cigarettes.

But new studies are beginning to show that e-cigarettes may not be as safe as consumers were led to believe. One new study has found that vapor from these cigarettes may increase young people’s susceptibility to respiratory infections, including infection by rhinovirus, the most common cold virus.

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Hearing Damage from Loud Music

girl with headphones

Warn Your Children About Hearing Loss from New Music Players

Many young children and teenagers got MP3 players as holiday gifts last month; doctors want to urge parents to caution their children not to play their music too loud, to avoid noise-induced hearing loss.

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‘Rat-Bite Fever’ from Pet Rats Can Sicken or Even Kill, Says CDC Report

rat in kitchen

As pets go, most parents would agree that rats are not among the cutest (though we know some kids might disagree). It turns out there is a good reason not to cave in and get your child a pet rat, if that’s what he or she wants.

A 10-year-old boy from San Diego, CA died in 2013 after being scratched by his pet rat, highlighting the risks from handling the pet rodents, according to a report recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Most U.S. Teens Are Sleep-Deprived

Teen_Sleep

Almost All U.S. Teenagers Are Not Getting Enough Sleep, Says Study

A full night’s sleep is one of the best things a teenager can do for his or her physical and emotional health, mental alertness and performance at school or sports. Yet, a new study found that more than 90 percent of American teenagers aren’t getting enough rest during school nights, with only 7 percent of girls and 8-9 percent of boys getting 9 or more hours of nightly sleep.

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Some Words of Caution Before You Buy Your Children’s Holiday Toys

Holiday_Toys

Before you buy toys for the children in your life this holiday season, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) — and doctors — caution you to keep some important things in mind.

PIRG has released its annual “Trouble in Toyland” report, which evaluates many children’s toys that are being sold during the holiday season. As always, there were toys that PIRG tested and concluded did not meet safety standards of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, or that had other problems that make the toys dangerous.

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5 Ways to Keep Your Children Healthy — Naturally!

Happy family cooking together

It’s good to know that in our day and age, medical knowledge and the ability to obtain information have increased so vastly, compared to even just a few decades ago. But even now, prevention is a fundamentally important way to maintain our health and that of our children, so that we won’t need medical interventions too often.

And what are some of the most essential ways to keep our children healthy the natural way? Here are five that should be on every family’s list.

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Better Solutions to Discipline Children than Screaming!

Parents_Screaming

Let’s face it, what parent hasn’t lost his or her cool in the face of a defiant child or children, and started screaming. If you never have, you’re in a small minority. Nearly all parents — close to 90 percent — have yelled at their kids at some point, according to a survey of almost 1,000 parents by the Journal of Marriage and Family.

But if you’ve ever done it, you know that screaming leaves you, the parent, feeling mentally worn-out and even guilty afterwards. And your children may model your behavior and pick up the habit, themselves.

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Family Meals Keep Kids Slim?

Fight Childhood Obesity

Could Pleasant, Peaceful Family Meals Help Fight Childhood Obesity?

You might not think of it, but having peaceful, pleasant family meals could help maintain children at a healthy weight, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota gave 120 families iPads to record mealtimes for 8 days; half the families had overweight or obese children, and half did not.

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Deadly Enterovirus D68 Now in 47 States

Enterovirus D68

What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Children

Nine American children died in recent weeks, who were infected in the 2014 enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) outbreak that has now spread to 47 states and the District of Columbia.

So far, the viral strain has been detected in samples submitted for a total of nine children who died; many other samples from young children who are possibly infected with the virus continue to be tested.

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Use of Synthetic Growth Hormone by American Teens More than Doubled in a Year

Synthetic Growth Hormone

The Internet has made shopping for so many goods a lot easier and more practical. For parents, it is important to remember that teens may also avail themselves of the ease and convenience that shopping online affords. And unless parents educate and are vigilant over their teens, youths may be getting their hands on some products that could do them a lot of harm.

Such is the case with products that contain the synthetic human growth hormone hGH. This drug is used by doctors in injection form to treat a few medical conditions, such as diminished production of human growth hormone by a person’s pituitary gland, and to treat children whose doctors have determined will not achieve a normal height, unless there is medical intervention.

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American Children Eat Too Much Salt and Sugar, According to Two Studies

Child_salt

Two recent studies examined sugar and salt consumption among American children, and found that American youths tend to eat too much of both.

One study, published recently in the journal BMC Public Health, found that 60 to 90 percent of school-age children develop cavities, and the researchers concluded that sugar is the number-one reason for that tooth decay. (Adults have an even higher rate: according to an article published in TIME, 92 percent of adults aged 20 to 60 have had tooth decay in at least one tooth.)

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Study Shows Many Teens Still Use Cell Phones While Driving

Teenage Driver Texting

Plus: The Importance of Parents Setting a Good Example

Despite the fact that all motorists are aware of the dangers of talking or texting on a cell phone while driving, many Americans continue to engage in the practice. And teenagers are no exception.

A new study has found that the vast majority of American teenagers use their cell phones to talk or text while they drive, and about half the time, when teens talk on their mobile phones as they drive, they are talking to their parents!

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Do ADHD Drugs Increase Risk of Cardiac Disease in Children?

Attention disorder medicines

Like other diseases and conditions in our modern world, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses in children have increased markedly, globally and in the United States, in recent years. More children and teens with ADHD are taking pharmaceutical drugs to treat this condition.

Millions of American children are now being treated with these stimulant drugs, which improve symptoms for some but not for others. And aside from whether or not ADHD drugs will work for a particular child, there are also valid concerns from many parents about putting strange laboratory chemicals into their young ones’ systems.

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‘Little League Shoulder’ Increasingly Common in Youths Who Play Sports

Youth ball player throwing ball

Summertime means thousands of American children are honing their pitching skills on baseball mounds throughout the land. But as always, it is important to start a new sports or fitness regime with plenty of warm-up and cool-down exercises, stretching, appropriate strength-training, and to not go overboard too quickly. Also, having long breaks from playing a given competitive sport in the course of a year helps decrease the risk of repetitive-use injuries.

Insufficient strength training, combined with bad form, can result in “Little League shoulder,” an overuse injury from repetitive overhead ball-throwing, especially pitching. The condition produces shoulder pain, swelling and decreased ability to move the arm — and doctors are seeing it more frequently nowadays.

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Many U.S. Kids Still Getting Too Much Daily Screen Time, Says CDC

Screen Time

For years, doctors have been advising parents to limit the time their children spend daily watching television or on a computer — the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children get no more than two hours a day of non-school-related ‘screen time.’ But the message isn’t getting through to all families.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted two national surveys among children between 12 and 15 years of age. Close to three quarters of all the youths reported spending at least two hours in front of the TV and using a computer. Fifteen percent of those surveyed said they spent four or more hours watching TV every day; while 12 percent used a computer for four or more hours a day. The survey did not ask about use of smartphones.

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Eating Lots of Fortified Foods, Plus Taking Vitamin-Mineral Supplements Could Be Bad for Your Child

The smiling girl holds a medicinal capsule in a hand

A report released recently by the Environmental Working Group cautions parents to watch out for their children getting too many vitamins and minerals in their diets from fortified foods.

According to the report, the problem could arise when children eat lots of servings of fortified foods, such as ready-to-eat breakfast cereals and nutrition bars, especially when these children also take daily multivitamin + mineral tablets or ‘gummies’.

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Parents Who Don’t Get Enough Sleep May Increase Their Children’s Risk for Obesity, Says Study

sweet dreams

A new study has found that parents who regularly don’t get enough sleep at night are more likely to have young children who, likewise, don’t sleep enough. Lost sleep in turn puts these youngsters (and the parents) at higher risk for being overweight or obese.

The study, done by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, assessed the weight of 337 preschool-age children and their parents, also examining factors known to help protect adults and children from becoming overweight or obese.

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Could Regular Exercise Make Children Smarter?

Exercise Make Children Smarter

We know that adults can improve their concentration and help guard against memory loss as they age, when they get regular exercise. Similarly, a new study found that kids may gain cognitive benefits from being physically fit, as well.

Researchers at the University of Illinois found that children who are in better physical shape tend to have better language skills than their lesser fit peers. The brains of the fitter kids responded faster and more strongly during reading, which translated into better reading performance and comprehension.

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Many Simple Steps Your Family Can Take to Help Save the Planet!

Earth in children`s hands

Parents do well to teach their children the importance of doing what we each can, to help save our planet. The efforts of one person alone don’t amount to much, true; but when you add many, many people, and many families, we collectively surely can make a big difference.

Below are many simple, easy things that you and your family can do around the home, to help keep your surroundings environmentally friendly. These steps won’t cost any more money; in fact, they will often save you money!

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Having a Dog Can Help Ease Symptoms, Improve Behavior in Children with Autism

Dog_Kid

Parents of autistic children know how difficult it is at times to manage all of life’s responsibilities, and to care for a child with special needs. Autism has aspects that can make parenting and teaching autistic children that much harder. Many parents are turning to dogs to help their autistic children: dogs can make an autistic child happier, less prone to throw tantrums, and strengthen the child’s sense of security.

Centers have opened in some American cities to specifically train dogs as companions for children with autism spectrum disorders; still other centers that train dogs for special-needs children now also train canines for autistic children.

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Violent Video Games Linked to Aggression in Children, Says Study

Emotions during the computer game

A study of more than 3,000 school-age children found that playing violent video games a lot seems to increase the odds that children and teenagers will engage in aggressive behaviors in real life.

Researchers said that frequent exposure to the violence in these games causes children to start seeing their world in a ‘more aggressive way,’ with children being more apt to expect others to behave aggressively toward them; kids who often play violent video games are also more likely to think that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.

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Energy Drinks and Sports Drinks Linked to Unhealthy Behaviors in Teenagers

Teenage_behavior

A new study has found that teenagers who regularly consume energy drinks and sports drinks are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors. Teens who often drank energy drinks like Red Bull and ROCKSTAR were more apt to smoke, use illicit drugs and drink alcohol. And teens who drank either energy or sports drinks regularly tended to spend more hours watching TV and playing video games.

The study was published online recently in the Journal of Nutrition, Education and Behavior; it’s one of the first studies to show that consumption of these drinks may be part of an overall pattern of unhealthy behaviors for growing numbers of teenagers.

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Natural Remedies for Children’s Allergies

Children's Allergies

If you are the parent of a child who suffers from allergies, eczema or asthma, you look for ways to bring relief and comfort to your son or daughter — but you want natural, better alternatives to antihistamines, skin-altering cortisone creams, chemical inhalers, or even nasal rinses (the latter could be too much to expect a young child to be able to do, in any case).

Thankfully, there are many natural, hands-on, more pleasant remedies that you can try for your child.

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Rising GI Infections in Children Linked to Heavy Antibiotic Use: CDC

Washing Hands

Antibiotics prescribed by doctors are linked to rising numbers of serious bacterial infections that can cause severe diarrhea in children, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study, recently published in the journal Pediatrics, found that 71 percent of Clostridium difficile infections in children 1 to 17 developed soon after the children took antibiotics prescribed in doctors’ offices to treat other conditions. Most of the children had gotten antibiotics to treat ear, sinus and upper respiratory infections.

Previous studies had shown that 50 percent or more of antibiotic prescriptions are given to treat upper respiratory infections, which do not require antibiotics, according to the CDC.

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Autism Rates Increasing Rapidly: CDC

Angry girl

Autism rates in the United States rose by 30% between 2008 and 2010, and by 120% between 2000 and 2010, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in 68 8-year-old children had been diagnosed with autism by 2010, up from 1 in 88 two years earlier, says the report. These are staggering statistics, compared to the 1 in thousands ratio of American children who had been diagnosed as autistic in 1970.

The study, published online in late March, 2014, found that five times as many boys as girls are being diagnosed with autism. The CDC estimates that 1 in 42 boys has autism, and 1 in 189 girls. Caucasian children are diagnosed most frequently, followed by Hispanics, then African-Americans. The average age at which children are diagnosed has fallen, but remains above age 4 (diagnosis is possible by age 2).

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Overweight Teens’ Life Expectancies Not Increasing?

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It’s common knowledge that people’s life expectancies in developed countries have increased in the last 50 years, as science has uncovered new ways to prevent, treat and cure illnesses. But a study has found that people who were obese or overweight as teenagers are not living longer than similar people did five-plus decades ago.

The life expectancy of an American born in 2011 was 78.7 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the average lifespan has increased by more than 10 years since 1950. But the death rate for people in the study who had been obese or overweight as teens did not show improvement during that time.

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September Is the Worst Month for Asthma Attacks in Children

Little girl with the flu using nasal spray

A study published in the April, 2014 print edition of the journal Pediatrics found that September is the worst month for asthma attacks for children who suffer from the condition.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel did a retrospective, population-based study where medical records for a period of five years were reviewed, for more than 900,000 children between the ages of 2 and 15. These children had all received primary medical care between 2005 and 2009; close to 9 percent had been diagnosed with asthma by a physician. About half of the asthmatic children were between 2 and 5; just under one-quarter were between 6 and 9, and just more than one-quarter were between 10 and 15.

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Natural, Safe Asthma Remedies for Children

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Doctors believe that we are in the middle of asthma and allergy epidemics, as the numbers of children and adults who suffer from these conditions continue to grow, with no concrete explanations for the increases. Asthma is now the leading chronic (or ongoing) illness in children. More than 1 in 10 American kids now have asthma. While it can start at any age, most children have had their first symptoms by age 5.

The causes of asthma appear to be varied. While the condition is a mystery to many doctors, some health professionals believe that more children are getting asthma nowadays because they’re being more exposed to air pollution and other toxic chemicals.

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Childhood Cancer Cases Continue to Rise in the United States

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Plus: 25 Things You Can Do to Help Prevent Cancer in Children

Earlier this year, the American Cancer Society published its yearly report, “Cancer Facts & Figures.” For the first time, the report included a special section on statistics about the prevalence of childhood and adolescent cancers. The separate section may be indicative of the fact that cases of childhood cancer continue to rise in the United States, despite much progress. According to the report, approximately 15,780 new cases of childhood cancer will be diagnosed in 2014, and 1,960 patients 19 and younger will die from this disease.

Current cancer rates among youths are 19 cases per 100,000 children. About one in 530 young adults aged 20 to 39 is a childhood cancer survivor.

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Caffeine, Energy Drinks and Children

Energy drink

With all the sugar and toxic chemicals in sodas, we should be pleased to know that children are drinking fewer caffeinated sodas these days. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that children, teens and young adults have decreased their caffeinated-soda consumption considerably: in 1999, 62 percent of kids to young adults named caffeinated sodas as their main source of caffeine. By 2010, that number had decreased to 38 percent.

But there is bad news: youths are now consuming more energy drinks and coffee than they were in 1999, with coffee consumption more than doubling since then.

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7 Healthy, Quick, Easy-to-Make School Lunches!

Primary School Pupils Enjoying Packed Lunch In Classroom

For parents who opt out of school-meal programs and prefer to prepare their kids’ lunches, the following are useful tips, plus some healthy, quick and easy lunch ideas.

Choose Your Bread Carefully!

A good lunch sandwich starts with good bread. Unless you bake your own bread (and most of us don’t), good bread choices at most supermarkets are unfortunately few and far between. A bread may have a wonderfully soft texture and even taste great … but the first thing you should look at before deciding whether to buy it is the ingredients label.

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Heart Disease Begins in Childhood

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Most people think of heart disease as something that only middle-aged or older folks have to worry about. But long-term studies from the last several decades have shown that heart disease sometimes begins in childhood. Therefore, preventing heart disease later in life begins with eating a healthy diet and developing healthy habits in childhood.

Coronary artery disease, or CAD, is more commonly called heart disease. In truth, CAD can develop into heart disease. CAD is the development of plaques on the walls of arteries that feed the heart muscle. As more plaque is deposited, blood and oxygen flow to the heart are restricted, which can lead to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks later on.

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Cheerios Cereal Will no Longer Have GMO’s … but that Still Leaves the Toxic Chemicals!

Cheerios

In January, 2014, General Mills foods announced that it would no longer use genetically modified organisms (GMO’S) to make its original cereal, Cheerios. While Cheerios has never contained GMO oats, the company will now use non-GMO cane sugar, instead of GM beet sugar.

Growing numbers of consumers and advocacy groups are raising concerns about the safety of using genetically altered crops in our food supply; consumer pressure is behind the decision by General Mills.

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Healthy After-School Snacks for Children

Offering sandwich

When aiming to keep your kids healthy or addressing problems of excess weight, the snacks that you feed your children are more important than many parents realize. It’s not enough to work at feeding kids healthy meals, only to let them munch on candy bars, candies or store-bought cookies and Hawaiian Punch after they get home from school. And kids are usually pretty hungry when they arrive home.

The best strategy for a parent is to keep in the house healthy foods that are quick and easy to eat. Kids will eat whatever is handy, tasty and ready to be eaten. It is just as easy to pick up a basketful of whole, natural foods at the grocery store as it is to get junky, unhealthy foods. But in the long run, making good food choices will go a long way towards insuring that your kids are healthy, so, healthy foods are the only kind of food you should have inside your home.

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Seven Ways to Encourage and Improve Your Child’s Academic Success

Academic

So, you think you may have the next Einstein or medicine Nobel prize recipient in your home … or perhaps you simply want to ensure that you give your child the best chance to succeed in life by helping them get a great education.

Whatever your motivation, many parents are interested in finding ways to help their children succeed academically. Educators say that there are specific things that parents can do to enhance their child’s chances of success. Here are six ways to help you help your child do well in school:

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Eight Big, Free Gifts that Parents Can Give to Their Children

Many presents

If you hit bull’s eye and got your kids some fancy, expensive gifts for the holidays that they are still playing with some weeks later, kudos to you. But what if you got your kids presents that only held their interest for a couple of days? You probably feel like you wasted money.

It turns out, a lot of the best gifts that you can give to your children … cost no money at all.

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Today’s Children Are Less Fit than Their Parents: Study

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A review of global studies measuring fitness levels among children found that today’s kids have become progressively less fit than children from the last previous decades. The studies, which examined the fitness levels of 25 million youths, found that modern kids can’t run as fast or as far as kids from as recently as a decade ago.

The study, which was led by Grant Tomkinson, an exercise physiologist at the University of South Australia, reviewed 50 previous studies on running fitness, a key measure of cardiovascular health and endurance. The children were aged 9 to 17 and were from 28 countries; the studies had been done between 1964 and 2010; 20 million children were from Asia.

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Losing Sleep Linked to Higher Blood Pressure in Youths

Medical examination.

A new study has found that losing as little as one hour of sleep a night is associated with higher blood pressure in pre-teens and teenagers. Frequent or ongoing sleep loss, which can result in higher blood pressure, could put sleep-deprived youths at greater risk for cardiovascular disease in later years.

Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong recruited 143 children ages 10 to 18, who had participated in an earlier study on sleep apnea. The participants were healthy, neither overweight nor obese, and they did not have sleep apnea. (Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by interrupted or shallow breathing when a person is sleeping; the disorder has been linked to higher blood pressure.)

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Overuse Injuries

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How to Prevent Overuse Injuries in Your Young Child or Teenager

The benefits of participating in sports for school-age children are almost too many to count: sports help keep children healthy, trim, away from drugs; they help children develop social skills, discipline, a sense of fair play, self-esteem, and so on.

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Post-Concussion Care Recommendations for Children’s Sports Injuries Are Often Inadequate

Concussion

In tandem with recent media attention to concussions in professional sports, the American Academy of Pediatrics presented a detailed report on concussions in youth sports at its recent national conference in Orlando.

The report, titled “Returning to Learning Following a Concussion,” discusses results from various studies, and its authors call for cognitive (mind) rest following a concussion, instead of just physical rest.

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The Importance of Reducing Stress in Your Life During Pregnancy — and Some Ideas for Doing So

Pregnant woman at work with laptop looking stressed

In a perfect world, all women who become pregnant would have a relatively peaceful nine months, with plenty of leisure time to rest and to plan for the joyous arrival of their babies. But in the real world, adversity happens often. Sometimes, a woman is subjected to high stress levels during her pregnancy, whether the stress is related to money worries, family, a tragedy, or even problems with her partner.

Life does sometimes throw us curves that we did not anticipate. But if you are pregnant, you have an even greater reason to do everything in your power to take control of the stress in your life.

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Teach Your Children How to Avoid Colds

Sick Child

Colder weather usually means an increase in the number of colds that all of us could get, including children. A lot of kids stay home from school with a cold every year, especially when the weather turns cold.

Colds can be caused by hundreds of different viruses; these viruses are contracted from droplets of mucus that an infected person releases into the air when they exhale. But they can also be caused by touching items or surfaces that have been contaminated by a person with a cold, if we then touch our mouths, eyes or noses.

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Spanking Young Children Is Tied to Problem Behavior Later

Spanking

Parenting styles differ, but we have become increasingly aware in the last few decades that physical punishment backfires and does more harm than good, when trying to get children to behave.

A new study adds to the scientific evidence that researches have amassed, which shows that corporal punishment — in this case, spanking — has long-lasting, damaging effects in children.

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Keeping Your Kids’ School Lunches and Game-Time Snacks Safe from Bacteria

Two cute boys laying on ground in nature and happily eating heal

You are a mom who understands that we are what we eat; you want to be sure that your children eat healthy, fresh, wholesome foods. Because these foods do not have toxic, artificial preservatives or non-nutritious fillers in them, you know that many of them spoil much faster.

A tummy ache, or worse, can happen in a snap, if the food has excess bacteria — and bacteria can multiply very quickly when the food isn’t kept cold enough or hot enough.

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Six Tips for Stress-Free Family Meals

Family Having A Meal Together At Home

Family time is something that’s increasingly in short supply in our busy modern times. Some of the best opportunities for family togetherness are mealtimes — in particular, dinner, when we can leave the day’s cares behind and family members can enjoy a relaxing evening.

Recent research by Columbia University found that children who eat regular dinners with their families are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, or to have disciplinary problems at school. Many previous studies have similarly shown that regular family mealtime makes teens less likely to smoke, drink, act up, or become sexually active.

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To Get Your Child and Teenagers to Listen About Health Dangers, Try Using Positive Messages

Teenage Couple Taking Drugs At Home

A new study found that when it comes to getting through to young people, you may be better off focusing on the positive, rather than using scare tactics.

If you’re a parent, you may at times get frustrated by how hard it is to get your children to listen to you when you warn them about the dangers of smoking, drinking alcohol, speeding when driving, or whatever the possible danger is.

The study, done at University College London in England, involved participants between 9 and 26 years old, who were asked to estimate their risk of suffering certain bad events, like being in a car accident or getting lung disease (from smoking). They were then told the actual statistics for those events.

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Is Vitamin D Important for Reducing Ear Infection Risk in Young Children?

Ear Infection

A growing number of studies shows that vitamin D is an important tool for preventing ear infections in young children. Vitamin D, found naturally in some foods and in enriched foods, and made by the skin when exposed to sunlight, is used by our immune systems to fight disease — the vitamin D receptor (VDR) is present in many types of cells that the immune system manufactures when it’s under attack by invading microbes.

Ear infections are very common among babies and younger children; because they have the potential to damage a child’s hearing when they’re untreated or when they’re recurrent, it is essential for parents and caregivers to take all steps possible to avoid them.

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Is Playing Sports Good for a Child with ADHD?

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Yes, it is. Child experts agree that playing sports is a great way for children who suffer from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to build self-esteem, get exercise, enhance social skills and make friends. Playing sports helps boost a child’s self-confidence, something with which ADHD kids often struggle. Signing up your child for a sport offers the added benefit of steering him or her toward a more active routine, thus decreasing or discouraging more sedentary activities such as TV-watching or playing video games, and that’s a good step for any child.

Helping Your Child Choose a Sport

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Parents: The Best Way to Decrease Children’s TV Viewing — Is to Decrease Your Own!

TV_KId

It’s no secret to any parent that children, especially younger ones, strive to be like their parents and do the same things that parents do.

So, it may come as little surprise that a study published recently in the journal Pediatrics found that the best predictor of how much time a child spends watching television … is how much time the parents do.

Researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (U of PA) interviewed 1,500 parents with children 17 and younger about the parents’ screen time habits (viewing DVDs, movies on the Internet, and so forth). They were also asked specifically about their television-viewing habits, as well as their kids’. When possible, adolescent children were also interviewed about their own TV habits.

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Does Drinking Sodas Cause Problem Behavior and Aggression in Young Children?

Soda-Kid

We’ve all heard the warnings: soda pop is bad for us. Many studies have linked moderate-to-heavy soda-drinking to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal cancers and other serious illnesses. Even light soda-drinking (defined as 2 or more sodas a week) was found in one study to be linked to pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest and hardest-to-cure cancers. Diet sodas are also bad; they have been linked to even more disease than regular sodas, by some estimates; which makes sense, since they have an even greater number of toxic chemicals than regular sodas.

The fact is, for those of us who aim to eat natural diets and be conscientious consumers, sodas are a complete no-no. The ingredients are more times than not a long assortment of artificial chemicals and preservatives that don’t belong in anyone’s body — least of all, a child’s.

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Getting Your Child Off to a Good Start with a Good Breakfast!

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Before we knew it, summertime was over, and it was time for our kids to go back to school. We may no longer be able to fix elaborate breakfasts before the kids rush to school; but there are certainly plenty of breakfast choices that are healthy, tasty, and easy to prepare.

We all know by now that eating breakfast is important, as it fuels our bodies and minds for the day ahead. But what kind of breakfasts are nutritious and healthy?

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Things that a Parent Can Do to Boost a Child’s Self-Confidence

Girl with thumbs up

Thinking positive and believing in oneself are much more than just feel-good concepts thrown around by psychologists looking to sell us books. Most people who achieve success in life on their own merit, at whatever goals they set for themselves, will tell you that believing in oneself, and not quitting in the face of defeat — even many defeats — are the keys to success.

When you are the parent of a child, you get the exciting, rewarding opportunity to mold a little mind from the beginning; thus, you will continue to influence the world even when you are no longer in it.

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Ten Tips for Having a Fun and Safe Family Camping Trip

Camping

Taking your family on a camping trip could be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences you will share. It’s a great opportunity to get away from the noise and congestion, and get in touch with the beauty and serenity of nature. A few precautions will help make the trip educational for your children, and an experience that will leave all your family members with fond, lasting memories.

Get to Know Your Chosen Camping Grounds

The first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the camp grounds. Get information about the site and weather conditions from park rangers. You can also check weather forecasts online. But keep in mind that weather can change dramatically from one day to the next, or even from one moment to the next, so, plan accordingly.

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Having “The Talk” with Your Child: Tips on Talking to Your Pre-Teen or Teenager About Sex

If you feel uncomfortable even bringing up the subject of sex with your pre-teen or teenage son or daughter, you are not alone. More than one parent has elected to avoid having that talk altogether because they didn’t feel comfortable. However, given the potentially very serious and life-changing consequences of sex, it is a subject that parents ought to discuss.

At no other time have children of all ages been exposed to so much gratuitous sex as today’s children. Sexual messages abound in television, movies, music and advertisements, while the Internet is a new source of ready sexual content for children who are not being carefully supervised. Today, more than ever, it is important to bring up the subject of sex with your son or daughter, instead of relying only on school to teach them what they need to know.

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Do Eyes Need to Be Protected from the Sun?

We all know by now that it’s important to protect our skin from excessive Sun exposure, to avoid skin cancers that can be caused by the Sun’s ultraviolet rays.

But besides our skin, other organs that need protection from the Sun are our eyes.

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Sunshine, Tanning Beds and Suntans — What Are the Healthy Options for Your Teen?

Peer pressure being as strong as it is in the teenage years, a lot of adolescent girls and boys may want to head outdoors as the weather heats up and get a suntan. But with all that we now know about excessive sun exposure and skin cancers, some fans of tanning may opt instead to use tanning beds to achieve a golden glow.

But are tanning beds any safer? Scientific opinion runs the gamut.

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Safety Facts About Insect Repellents – and Choosing the Best Brands

As millions of American children head off to summer camps or outdoor family get-togethers, many parents may wonder how to protect their youngsters from the varieties of insects that might be found at camping grounds and parks.

These days, we all have even more reason to worry about bugs than normally, as infestations from the potentially deadly West Nile virus continue to occur in different parts of the country.

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What Are Good Foods to Eat for a Child Who Plays Sports?

When it comes to food, the great thing about it is that we all have very similar nutritional needs: for the most part, what’s good for one person is good for everyone, and what’s bad for one person is bad for all.

Some people, including a lot of the experts, would have us believe that we need to go on special diets to suit our individual needs; but while that approach might make a lot of people in the diet and nutrition business wealthy, the truth is that our personal physiologies are much more similar to everyone else’s than they are different.

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Things to Think About when Signing Up Your Child to Play Sports

The benefits of playing organized sports are well-established. They include giving children the opportunity to interact with peers and coaches to reach a common goal. This can help foster leadership skills as the child learns to get along with others and follow instructions, while working to improve their personal best.

Team sports can also help a child learn new skills. A young person can learn about the thrill of challenging oneself, and the importance of practicing a skill until it is mastered.

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Pediatric Hypertension

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the development of a national database on high blood pressure in children has contributed to the recognition that there is indeed a rise in the number of children with elevated blood pressure. The complications associated with continued high blood pressure, like heart attack and stroke, make diagnosis and treatment of the condition a priority for parents.

There are numerous primary causes for pediatric hypertension, with obesity and renal problems accounting for the vast majority of cases. But one rarely identified factor is the “white-coat syndrome.”

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How to Talk to Teenagers so They’ll Listen

The teenage years are a dreaded time for many parents, as teens begin to rebel and dismiss their parents’ good counsel, reaching out for approval from their peers instead. But there are things that you as a parent can do to strengthen the quality of your relationship with your teen, and thus make him or her more receptive to your advice and instruction.

Perhaps the most fundamental step to getting your teenage son or daughter to trust you and listen to you is to be loving and kind to your child. If you strive to have a harmonious and respectful relationship with your child, fewer conflicts will arise. That does not mean not disciplining your child, because correcting a child when they do wrong (in a compassionate, thoughtful manner) is every bit as important as giving them your love, your attention, and providing for them.

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Important Steps to Prevent Sports-Related Injuries

The following is a break-down of what parents need to know, to help their children remain free from sports-related injuries.

Education

Doctors treat around one million sports-related injuries in American school-age children every year. For parents, it is important to learn basic ways to avoid injury when their children practice sports, whether it’s at school or around the neighborhood.

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