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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.
Safe, healthy, and stress-free flying with young children

With the holiday season upon us, many families will be traveling with children. If you are thinking about going on a trip that will include young children and airline flights, it is crucial to plan ahead to make the trip as stress-free as possible. You may not have control over the weather and flight cancellations, but you do have control over when and how you fly.

Take some time and think about your children's schedules - are they early risers and happier in the morning or the opposite? Consider whether or not it's realistic to assume you and your family can be ready and to the airport in time for that 6:00 am flight. Will you be making connections? I recommend trying to give yourself at least two hours at any connecting airport so you have time to transition between what are often long-distance flights, and get to use the bathroom, change diapers and have something to eat.

Planning out your trip with these considerations in mind can definitely help things run more smoothly.

In packing for an airplane trip with kids, good planning is the key to success. Make a list ahead of time so you don't forget important items for your child. Age-appropriate essentials to remember for your carry-on include:

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Preventing cheerleading injuries

Today's cheerleaders are great athletes that combine cheering, gymnastics and dancing to perform some amazing stunts. They deserve and should receive the same requirements and protections as other high school athletes and, personally, I'm glad that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come out with guidelines to support this.

The AAP's policy statement, Cheerleading Injuries: Epidemiology and Recommendations for Prevention was released in the November issue of Pediatrics, and reported by Medical News Today.

The report states that since 2007, there have been approximately 26,000 cheerleading-related injuries in the United States each year and cheerleading accounts for 66 percent of all catastrophic injuries in high school female athletes over the past 25 years.

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Food-borne toxins and your children

A recent study in Environmental Health about the cumulative impact of food-borne toxins on children and adults has produced interesting - some say sobering - results.

Researchers found that preschool children in particular were at high risk for exposure to toxic compounds like metals, arsenic, lead and mercury, pesticides, and food processing byproducts. These compounds have been linked to cancer, developmental disabilities, birth defects, and other conditions.

"Contaminants get into our food in a variety of ways," said study principal investigator Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor and chief of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health at UC Davis. "They can be chemicals that have nothing to do with the food or byproducts from processing."

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Ask the pediatrician: Organic food for children

Dr. Collison,

Should parents buy organic food for their children?

Parents know it's important for children to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. But it's less clear whether spending the extra money on organic foods will bring a significant benefit to their children's health.

To offer guidance to parents - and the pediatricians caring for their children's health - the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has conducted an extensive analysis of scientific evidence surrounding organic produce, dairy products, and meat. The conclusion is mixed: While organic foods have the same vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, lipids, and other nutrients as conventional foods, they also have lower pesticide levels, which may be significant for children. Organically raised animals are also less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria because organic farming rule prohibit the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.

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New Federal safety standard for infant swings

For the most up-to-date recall information, please visit and click on the Recalls tab from the home page.

This is reprinted from the US Consumer and Product Safety Commission website:

CPSC Approves New Federal Safety Standard for Infant Swings

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously (3-0) to approve a new federal mandatory safety standard to improve the safety of infant swings to prevent injuries and deaths to children.

Infant swings are stationary juvenile products with a frame and powered mechanism that enables an infant to swing in a seated position. An infant swing is intended for use with infants from birth until a child is able to sit up unassisted. Cradle and travel swings are also included in the standard.

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