Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Secondhand Smoke

I have seen a lot of recent news articles about secondhand smoke and the effects it has on children’s health. We all know that secondhand smoke had bad health effects on people, but it should be no surprise that the effects are more serious on children than on adults.  There have been plenty of studies that links secondhand smoke with respiratory problems, SIDS, asthma, middle ear infections, and other physical problems.  But the link between secondhand smoke and mental problems have never been closely examined. .. until recently.

The study found that the kids that were exposed to secondhand smoke had  high levels of cotinine in their blood. On average they found that:

  • the kids had almost five symptoms of major depressive disorder
  • almost four symptoms of ADHD
  • almost three symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder
  • more than one symptom of conduct disorder

It was determined that the higher levels of cotinine in the blood were strongly linked with ADHD symptoms, but weakly linked with the symptoms of major depressive disorder, conduct disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.  Overall, the positive links between cotinine and mental problems were greater for boys than girls.

Secondhand smoke exposure to children is a major public health problem.  As a public health major, this is something that bothers me, because it can be prevented, it doesn’t need to happen.  I think that there should be limitations as to where people can smoke (I know that there are many laws already restricting smoking in many public areas, but I think they should be more strict and make it so that they cannot smoke around children, especially parents).  I do not know how they would regulate this, but it would help end this problem.

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Energy Drink Overdose

I personally have only had about half of an energy drink, ever, and that was enough to make me feel crazy. I do not know how people can consume multiple drinks a day, or how children can consume even just one, and not have any adverse effects from it.

A new study looked at the health effects of energy drinks on children and adolescents, and found that they are consumed by 30-50% of this age group. High amounts of caffeine have been linked with serious adverse effects especially in children and adolescents, including seizures, diabetes, liver and kidney damage, high blood pressure, heart problems, and behavioral disorders.

The study found that of the 5,448 caffeine overdoses in the US in 2007, almost half (46%) occurred in those younger than 19 years.  About 1,200 of these cases were in children under the age of 6. Another article discussing this study suggested that these energy drinks might not only be harmful because of what they contain, but also what they are replacing (drinks like water and milk that provide essential minerals and protein for growing bodies), as well as contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic.

Does anyone else see this as a big problem as well? And what are ways that this problem can be solved?

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New Car Seat Guidelines

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a new policy statement advising parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2 years, or until the exceed the weight or height limits listed for the car seat.  This is not really new policy, just a clarification.  Previously the AAP advised parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats as long as possible.  This has not changed.  But they also stated one year and 20 pounds as the minimum for flipping the car seat to forward-facing.  Because of this, many parents and pediatricians often interpreted this as the the best time to make the switch.  This new policy clarifies the AAP’s recommendations, and makes the age of 2 years the new standard. A video on the CNN website demonstrates and explains this policy.

A study in the journal Injury Prevention in 2007, found that children under 2 years of age are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a car crash if they are rear-facing, especially if they are in a rear-facing car seat.  Another study found that riding rear-facing is up to five times safer that riding forward-facing.  Dennis Durbin, M.D. a pediatric emergency physician stated, “A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body.”

This policy has raised many questions in parents.  “Isn’t it easier to be forward-facing?” Yes, it may be easier to interact with your child, and easier to get the in the car, but it is not the safest.  Safety should be the biggest concern of parents. “What about squished legs?” Children will most likely be bothered by this if they have been rear-facing the whole time. It is just fine for the children’s feet to be touching the back of the seat, and for the legs to be  bent.  “If my child turns 2 before they reach the weight and height limit, do I keep them facing the rear?”  Yes. It remains the safest position for a child until they reach the height or weight limit.

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