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Life & Health. News and information to advance your health and well-being.
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Parents Need to Know is a newsletter written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group.
Laundry detergent single-dose packs pose threat to children

We all know how much children love to put things of all shapes and sizes in their mouths. The newest potential danger in this regard is with single-dose detergent packs which are brightly-colored and bite-sized, making them appealing for curious kids.

While they may be convenient for busy parents, these detergent packs are even more dangerous than usual-strength detergent due to the combination of chemicals in a higher concentration.

Bruce Ruck, with the New Jersey Poison Control Center, said, "We really haven't, with regular laundry detergent, seen the breathing problems and the significant vomiting that we've seen with these pods."

These pods not only have the potential to make children violently ill if ingested but can cause eye and skin irritation if punctured.

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Ask the pediatrician: insect repellent, soy formula

Hi Dr. Collison,

What are your recommendations for using mosquito/tick repellent on children? Are there brands more suitable for children 10 and under? Are there other safe environmental solutions/products used to reduce the ticks and mosquitoes in the backyard?

Insect repellents can do a good job in keeping biting insects off but do not prevent stinging insects from making contact with you or your child. There are many natural insect repellents that are generally safe but less effective than those that contain DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using insect repellents with between 10 and 30% DEET for the maximum protection for children. Using more than 30% DEET is not recommended and doesn't seem to protect any better than 30%, and is more likely to cause skin reactions.

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Cleft Lip/Palate cause much more than cosmetic problems

Cleft lip and cleft palate are relatively common birth defects that are oftentimes misunderstood as simply cosmetic issues. A recent article in Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America by Laura Swibel Rosenthal, MD, does a nice job describing the issues that kids with cleft lip and/or cleft palate have to face.

The article states:

About 1 in 600 babies in the United States is born with a cleft lip and/or cleft palate, according to the Cleft Palate Foundation. The defect can range from a small notch in the lip to a groove that runs into the roof of the mouth. It can occur in isolation or in combination with other craniofacial birth defects. (A craniofacial disorder refers to an abnormality of the face and/or head.)

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Should vaccines be mandatory?

I believe very strongly in vaccination as a way to stop deadly and serious illness from occurring in those immunized. Millions of people have been saved by vaccines over the short span of their availability, and I am happy to say that I am potentially one of those people who didn't get smallpox or diphtheria or polio, etc. Having been a pediatrician for a dozen years, I have seen thousands of children receive their vaccines with only minor side effects. I believe that immunizing children is safe and effective. That being said, I have to respect parents and their right to choose what they think is best for their children. If they disagree with me, then they should have the right to care for their children how they see fit within the laws of our country.

This article about mandatory childhood vaccinations in the UK may not address Pennsylvania vaccination rules but shares some interesting perspectives.

For more information about vaccinations and school-aged children, see my response to The Doctor Is In in the August issue of State College Magazine.

Children living in urban areas have more food allergies

I've said over and over how great it is to live in Central PA from a health perspective. Here is another reason: Children in urban areas have been shown to have a higher prevalence of food allergies.

According to a study that will be published in the July issue of Clinical Pediatrics, kids in big cities are more apt to have peanut and shellfish allergies compared to children in rural areas.

Here are some key findings published in the study:

  • In urban centers, 9.8 percent of children have food allergies, compared to 6.2 percent in rural communities.
  • Peanut allergies are twice as prevalent in urban centers as in rural communities, with 2.8 percent of children having the allergy in urban centers compared to 1.3 percent in rural communities.
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Current child-related recalls announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Here are just a few recent product recalls as announced by the U.S. 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: Ice/Hot and Ice Gel Packs

Hazard: If the packs become damaged, they can leak gel that could contain diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which can cause illness if ingested in large amounts.

Incidents/Injuries: There have been no new reports of incidents or injuries.

Description: The recalled products are Cryofreeze ice/hot packs and Arctic Zone ice packs. The packs are gel-filled plastic pouches with either transparent or opaque sealed wrappers. They are used to keep food hot or cold. The gel packs were sold separately and with a variety of lunch boxes, coolers, and thermal carriers. Six gel pack styles are being recalled:

  • Cryofreeze ice/hot packs - small (6"x5.5") and large (8.5"x8") sizes. Both have opaque blue wrappers with the words Cryofreeze, Ice/Hot Pack, Non-toxic, and Reusable printed on the front.
  • Cryofreeze transparent cell ice/hot packs - 3-cell with blue gel (7.85"x5.5"); 3-cell with blue gel (7.6"x3"); 2-cell with blue gel (5"x3"). Each has a transparent wrapper with the words Cryofreeze, Ice Pack/Hot Pack, Non-toxic, and Reusable printed on the front.
  • Arctice Zone ice pack - 6.25"x4" - with an opaque blue wrapper. The Arctic Zone logo and a picture of an iceberg appear on the front of the wrapper along with the words Ice, Personal Ice Pack, and Non-Toxic Leak Proof Gel.

Sold by: Mass merchandise and warehouse stores, other retailers, distributors and online sellers nationwide between July 2007 and December 2008 in items that retailed between $5 and $28. Selected packs are associated with lunch boxes and food carriers previously recalled in January 2012.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the gel packs and dispose of them according to federal, state and/or local regulations. It is recommended that consumers contact their local waste disposal authority for instructions. Consumers can contact California Innovations to receive a $6 cash refund for large (8.5"x8") Cryofreeze gel packs or a $5 cash refund for all other gel packs.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, call California Innovations at 800.722.2545 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm ET Monday through Friday, email or visit the firm's website at

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