Child Health & Safety: Sorting Through The Hype
In today's world of 24/7 news, blogs, social networking and websites, it's often times hard for a parent to separate hype from reality and keep issues in perspective. Below are some of the hottest issues in the news today and what parents really need to know:
Hype: As reported cases of H1N1 flu increase and the first confirmed death in the U.S. has occurred, parents are growing increasingly concerned about how it is contracted and whether it is safe to eat pork products and/or touch raw pork products.
Fact: According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), H1N1 viruses are not transmitted by food. You can not get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs. Human-to-human transmission of swine flu can also occur. This is thought to occur in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Hype: Vaccinations such as DTaP increase the risk of SIDS
Fact: The cause and effect of immunizations and SIDS has been comprehensively studied for more than two decades. In several of the studies, infants who had recently received a DTaP shot were found to be less likely to die from SIDS. Currently, both the CDC and AAP recommend that infants receive multiple doses of vaccines during their first year of life. If there were no vaccines, there would be many more cases of disease and along with them, more deaths.
TOXINS IN BABY LOTIONS & SHAMPOOS
Hype: A recent study was released stating that the majority of baby lotions and shampoos contained toxins and known carcinogens
Fact: Within mom's busy schedule, it's extremely difficult to sift through the specifics in reports like these and unfortunately the media can only give the top line. While we absolutely want to protect our children from harmful toxins within their products, we also need to keep it in perspective. In many of the products listed, either no chemical was detected or it was not tested.
LEAD IN TOYS
Hype: Toys and children's products are recalled on a frequent basis due to lead paint hazards. The threat of lead poisoning has become paramount in parents' minds.
Fact: While lead is a serious issue, the leading causes of death and injury to children are from other products. Motorized ride-on toys are the number #1 cause of toy related injuries. 64% of toy-related deaths in 2003 were due to choking.
Hype: The call to ban bisphenol-A (BPA) from baby bottles, pacifiers, sippy cups and other baby products has been growing. Most recently Senator Chuck Schumer introduced legislature to ban BPAs in all children's products. Growing evidence indicates that low levels of BPA might cause developmental problems in fetuses and young children, as well as other ill effects.The Boston Globe last week had a front page photo of moms decending on the Massachusets State House demanding a ban on BPA.
Fact: This past week there were comments flying furiously on Twitter regarding the dangers of BPAs from mom bloggers. While the FDA last August stated that BPAs in baby bottles posed "no safety concern," they concede that they have not finished reviewing all of the data. While the risk is minimal, the top six makers of baby bottles have agred to stop using BPA in their bottles. So, for this one, if there are BPA-free alternatives it would seem to make sense.
SEXTING AND CYBERBULLYING
Hype: Sexual predators are the biggest threat to our children online. We see numerous shows regarding men stalking young girls online.
Fact: "Sexting" and cyberbullying are growing problem among teens. According to the National Crime Prevention Center, over 40% of all teenagers with Internet access have reported being bullied online during the past year. Recently a young Cincinnati girl killed herself after nude photos that she sent her boyfriend were distributed online.
Hype: Many OB/GYNs tell their patients that there is no reason for them to bank their baby's cord blood if there is no history of illness in the family. Many doctors believe that there has been limited use of cord blood stem cells in curing diseases as well as few advances in research over the past years. Therefore, many new parents believe the costs associated with banking a baby's cord blood outweigh the benefits.
Fact: Cord blood stem cells have been used in more than 14,000 transplants worldwide during the last 20 years to treat more than 70 diseases in both adults and children, and are now showing great promise for regenerative medicine applications, including treatment for type 1 diabetes, brain injury, cerebral palsy and hearing loss. Over the course of 18 years, the cost for banking a baby's cord blood averages $18 per month.
ABOUT ALISON RHODES
Alison Rhodes, AKA "The Safety Mom" has been featured nationally on CNN, the Today Show, The New York Times and more. After the death of her first son to SIDS, Alison became a tireless advocate for child safety.