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Parents Need to Know is a newsletter written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group.
3 common myths about vaccines

A recent medical journal article discusses the merits of being vaccinated and doing that on the recommended schedule. Vaccines have saved millions of lives in their short lifetime, and in my estimation is one of the biggest breakthroughs for humankind. As pediatricians, we want all children to be protected from every possible disease, and it saddens us to see parents refuse vaccines for their kids.

In their article, The Clinician's Guide to the Anti-Vaccinationists' Galaxy, published online in the journal Human Immunology, Gregory Poland, MD, Mayo Clinic vaccinologist, and Robert Jacobson, MD, Mayo Clinic pediatrician, review the three immunity-related misconceptions that they say "fuel patient and parental concerns, questions and fears about vaccines."

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Drinking energy drinks can be damaging to teenagers’ health…and teeth

The more we learn about energy drinks, the more I am afraid of the effects they have on teens who are consuming them in record numbers. One of the biggest concerns for physicians with these products is what actually is in these energy drinks. Many of them boast a "proprietary blend" recipe that gives the drinks their kick, but we don't know what is truly in the blend. Since they are not regulated by the FDA parents should be concerned - as I am from a medical perspective - about high levels of unknown ingredients being ingested at high rates. The elevated levels of caffeine are enough to cause or incite arrhythmias in the heart, now we have evidence of damage to teeth. This article details the impact of highly acidic beverages on a teen's teeth.

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Confusion over nipple confusion: Do pacifiers help or hurt new infants attempting to breastfeed?

A recent article that got a lot of national media attention describes an observational study of newborn babies in Oregon that found that taking pacifiers away from newborns actually hurt the percentage of newborns that were exclusively breast fed. When pacifiers were readily available, 80% of newborns were exclusively breastfed. When pacifiers were taken away, the number of newborns who were exclusively breastfed dropped to 70%. This removal of pacifiers was done in an attempt by that hospital to achieve "Baby-Friendly Hospital" status in the belief that pacifiers hurt breastfeeding, causing "Nipple Confusion" due to the different types of nipples introduced into the newborn's feeding practice. The reality is that pacifiers can be helpful for babies once breastfeeding has been established and seem to have a protective effect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

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Ask the pediatrician

Dear Dr. C.,

What are your recommendations on using sunscreen with young children?

In the last Parents Need To Know newsletter, we discussed an article that talked about sunlight and its possible positive effects for kids with allergies and eczema, likely through increased vitamin D production. As we head into the summer months, we also have to look at the bad effects of the sun on children's skin. Along with the obvious concern of sunburn, the potential for skin cancer from too much sun exposure has certainly come to the forefront of medical advice.

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Current child-related recalls from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Spring has sprung. Warm weather means kids are playing outside and families are firing up their grills and working on the lawn. Before you use spring-related products this season, check to see if they have been recalled. It could save your family's lives.

Here are just a few recent product recalls as announced by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. For the most up-to-date recall information, please visit and click on the Recalls tab from the home page.

Name of Product: Banzai inflatable in-ground pool slides

Hazard: The slide can deflate during use allowing user to hit the ground underneath the slide and become injured. The slide is also unstable and can topple over in both still and windy conditions and carries inadequate warnings and instructions.

Incidents/Injuries: The CPSC is aware of one adult who has died and others who have experienced significant injury after the slide deflated in the described manner.

Description: This recall involves Banzai in-ground pool water slides designed for use with in-ground pools. The vinyl sides have a blue base, yellow sliding mat and an arch going over the top of the slide. The words Banzai Splash are printed in a circular blue, orange and white logo, shaped like a wave on either side of the slide. The recalled slides have the barcode number 2675315734 and model number 15734 which appear on the packaging but not on the actual slide.

Sold by: Wal-Mart Stores and Toys R Us Stores nationally from January 2005 through July 2009.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Immediately stop using the product and return it to the nearest Walmart or Toys R Us for a full refund. Consumers can also cut the two safety warning notices out of the slide and return that portion for refund.

Consumer Contact: For additional information from Walmart call 800.925.6278 between 7am and 9pm CT Monday through Friday or visit the store's website at For more information from Toys R Us, call 800.869.7787 between 9am and 9pm ET Monday through Saturday and between 10am and 7pm Sunday or visit the firm's website at

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