Friday March 7, 2014
Many people likely thought measles was getting into out of control territory when we continued to hit new records in the last few years, including:
- 220 measles cases in 2011 - a 15 year record and the highest number of cases since 1996
- 58 cases in the 2013 New York City measles outbreak - the largest outbreak since the endemic spread of measles was eliminated in the United States
- local and state public health departments spending from $2.7 million to $5.3 million US dollars to contain just half of the measles outbreaks in 2011
Unfortunately, this year is looking to be even worse considering we have already seen about 4x the number of measles cases we had seen at this point in 2011. Earlier in the week, the CDC reported 54 cases of measles in the United States - more than was reported in all of 2007 (just 43 cases all year).
The number of measles cases is likely to jump significantly though, as the latest CDC report likely doesn't include the latest measles outbreaks:
- a measles outbreak in New York City that is already affecting 7 adults and 9 children in northern Manhattan and the Bronx.
- two more cases of measles in San Diego, California which are linked to an outbreak in February, when a person exposed others at two different Naval medical facilities after contracting measles in the Philippines. The new cases likely exposed hundreds of other people at four different sites around San Diego, including an urgent-care center.
- a second case of measles in Macomb, Illinois.
- two more cases of measles in Massachusetts, this time in Middlesex County.
Why the jump in cases? The CDC puts some of the blame on unvaccinated children and adults traveling to the Philippines, where a large outbreak recently killed 23 children, but it is important to keep in mind that there are outbreaks in many other countries too.
In addition to the Philippines, there are outbreaks of measles in the Netherlands, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the UK, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Japan, too. Although Europe reported a milder measles season last year, they still had over 10,000 cases, which were complicated by 8 cases of acute measles encephalitis and 3 deaths.
Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease though. We don't have to let it get out of control. We can stop the outbreaks before we start to see even more cases and start to see more complications of measles.
Get Educated. Get Vaccinated. Stop the Outbreaks.
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Wednesday March 5, 2014
Most people welcomed the passage of the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012. Continued reports of deaths from child abuse and neglect led to many to realize that an "increased understanding of deaths from child abuse and neglect can lead to improvement in agency systems and practices to protect children and prevent child abuse and neglect."
Introduced by Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas, it had mostly bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Obama on January 14, 2013.
In establishing the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 will hopefully "develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities resulting from child abuse and neglect."
With recent developments, a national strategy is certainly needed.
- Governor Jan Brewer had to recently abolish the Child Protective Services agency in Arizona after reports that more than 6,500 child abuse and neglect reports were never investigated.
- Governor Rick Scott recently had to increase funding to the Department of Children & Families in Florida after a "surge" in child abuse deaths in the state, which many people blamed on previous budget cuts.
- there was a spike in deaths of children in foster care in Texas last year, with some placing the blame on budget cuts and increased reliance on private agencies.
So what's the update? After President Obama appointed the members of Commission in September, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is a strong supporter of the Protect Our Kids Act, the commission held its first meeting last week. During this meeting, "the commissioners brought in congressional staff who worked on the legislation to discuss the intent of the bill, reviewed previous federal efforts to improve federal policy responses to child maltreatment fatalities and outlined the scope of the commission's work. Over the next two years, the commission will continue holding meetings around the country as it moves forward in developing its proposals."
Among other things, child welfare experts are hoping these proposals include:
- the development of a national, multi-agency strategy for stopping maltreatment deaths.
- increasing current federal spending on child protection
- child welfare financing reform
- the development of a public education campaign to encourage public reporting of child abuse and neglect and to enlist communities in the protection of children
- the development of a model protocol to ensure civil and criminal legal proceedings related to child abuse and neglect are closely coordinated with relevant agencies
Join the AAP, the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, Prevent Child Abuse America, and other national, state, and local organizations in supporting the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 so that more is done "to address the deaths in America of innocent children--nearly five-- every day from abuse and neglect."
You can also urge the legislators in your state to make sure everything is being done to protect kids from abuse and neglect.
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Tuesday March 4, 2014
In this week's Safety Roundup, stories of:
- a 5-year-old from Amarillo, Texas who unintentionally shot himself and his father at the Bass Pro Shops in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma after he got a hold of his father's gun while they were in the store's dressing room.
- a 9-year-old in Dallas, Texas who is in critical condition after she was unintentionally shot in the head in her home by a neighbor doing target practice in his back yard.
- a 12-year-old in Orlando, Florida who was unintentionally shot in the arm while she was a passenger in a car driving by a house where a man accidentally fired his .380-caliber handgun while showing a friend how to clean the gun. The surprised man than unintentionally shot himself in the leg.
- a 3-year-old in Amado, Arizona who required surgery after he unintentionally shot himself with an unsecured gun that he found in his home.
- a teenager in Seminole, Florida who was hospitalized after his 16-year-old friend unintentionally shot him in the abdomen while showing him a .22-caliber rifle after baseball practice.
- a 15-year-old in Sterling, Illinois who died after he was unintentionally shot by another teen at the home of an Illinois State Police trooper.
- a 2-year-old in Pensacola, Florida who died after she was unintentionally shot in the head in his home.
- an 8-year old in Cincinnati, Ohio who died after he was unintentionally shot in the chest by his older brother while they were playing with a gun that they thought was a BB gun.
- a 12-year-old in Danville, California who unintentionally shot himself in the arm. His parents are both Oakland Police officers.
- a 3-year-old in Slidell, Louisiana who drowned in a neighbor's pool after opening a window and getting out of his own home undetected.
- a 3-year-old in Phoenix, Arizona who drowned in the unprotected backyard pool at the home of a relative after the family lost track of him as they got ready in the morning.
- a 2-year-old in Anthem, Arizona who drowned in a backyard pool.
- a 12-year-old in Cape Coral, Florida who drowned in a canal near his home.
- a 2-year-old in Pine Hills, Florida who drowned in a pond near his apartment complex.
- a 2-year-old in Beaumont, Texas who died after he ran into the street and was hit by a car.
- a 14-year-old from Caņon City, Colorado who died when the Kawasaki Motocross bike he was driving collided with a truck.
- a 4-year-old in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma who died after he was hit by a car driven by his father who had just dropped his children off at school.
- a 4-year-old from Lufkin, Texas who died when the ATV she was riding in rolled over.
- a 17-year-old from Scott City, Missouri who died in an ATV accident.
- a 13-year-old in Paterson, New Jersey who died when a bullmastiff escaped from a fenced yard and attacked him and his friend as they walked home from school.
- a 2-year-old in Killeen, Texas who died after he was attacked by a bullmastiff that had run out of a home's garage as he walked home from a playground with a group of other children.
- a 4-year-old in Tallassee, Alabama who died while playing in her backyard when she was attacked by a large shepherd mix dog.
- a 3-year-old in High Point, North Carolina who died after being attacked by the family's pit bull.
Keep your kids safe. Not all, but many of these types of accidents can be prevented.
Many of the accidents and tragedies are ones that we see week after week, especially drownings, dog bites, falls, ATV accidents, unintentional shootings, and even lawn mower accidents.
Spread the word about child safety to help save lives and reduce these types of accidents and tragedies.
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Monday March 3, 2014
When did your baby start sleeping through the night?
Of all of the milestones, the time when their baby sleeps through the night is one that many parents look forward to the most. That is especially true if their baby is still waking up two or three times a night when they are five or six months old.
In addition to a bookshelf full of sleep books, there are also baby products that claim to help your baby sleep through the night. Among these baby products are the infant sleep machines, which "produce ambient noise or noise to mask other sounds in an infant's room with the goal of increasing uninterrupted sleep."
These products claim to:
- soothe crying babies into a calm and restful sleep
- provide an ideal sleep environment
- calm even the fussiest babies to sleep
Sounds great. But are they safe? The authors of a new study that will appear in the April issue of Pediatrics, "Infant Sleep Machines and Hazardous Sound Pressure Levels," found that all 14 infant sleep machines they tested exceeded 50 dBA, the current recommended maximum safe noise limit for infants in hospital nurseries.
Even when the infant sleep machines were placed at a distance of 200cm (like being across the room from your baby's crib), all but one exceeded the 50 dBA safe noise limit when it was set at maximum volume (a common recommendation). They all exceeded the 50 dBA safe noise limit at 30cm (like putting the infant sleep machine on your baby's crib rail) and 100cm.
At a distance of 30cm, three of the infant sleep machines had sound levels that were over 85 dBA, which is higher than the adult occupational noise limit!
What can exposure to these high noise levels do to your baby? The researchers of the study state that "exposure to these devices may place infants at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss or maldevelopment of the auditory system."
They recommend manufacturer set sound limits and mandatory timers for all infant sleep machines and have some advice for parents who are going to continue to use these devices:
- Place the infant sleep machine as far away as possible from the infant and never in the crib or on a crib rail.
- Play the infant sleep machine at a low volume.
- Operate the infant sleep machine for a short duration of time.
This study brings up another issue though. Are infant sleep machines even a good idea? Keeping in mind that most parenting experts stress the importance of a good bedtime routine for a good night's sleep and that the goal of a good bedtime routine is for your child to fall asleep on his own, then an infant sleep machine might actually be something to avoid.
If your child gets used to falling asleep with the soothing sounds of a sleep machine, then he will likely fully wake up in the middle of the night when he gets into a light sleep phase and those soothing sounds aren't still playing.
Also keep in mind that infant sleep machines aren't the first baby product to get a warning like this. Remember that it wasn't too long ago that we were getting warned about other popular baby products, including crib bumper pads, baby monitors, and infant sleep positioners.
I think the take home message must now be that before adding the latest and most popular baby products to our must have lists, let's make sure they are safe.
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