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Parents Need to Know is a newsletter written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group.
Top 5 unsafe things in a child's home

A child’s home is supposed to be a safe place, away from all the dangers of this world. Unfortunately, the home can also be a dangerous place if parents don’t take the necessary precautions to keep their kids safe. This also goes for grandparents, babysitters and anyone else who has children in their house.

The following are the top five dangerous items that should either be removed from the home or dealt with in a planned, safe way.

  1. Firearms: Adolescent suicide and gun violence are often in the news, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly two million children live in homes with loaded guns that are not locked up. Simply removing guns from the home is one of the best ways to protect children and teens from gun deaths. If removing the firearms from the house is not an option, they should be stored unloaded in a locked cabinet, with keys or combinations made inaccessible to children
  2. Poisons: Based on statistics from the CDC, over 300 children in the United States are treated for poisoning each year in an emergency department, and two children die every day as a result of being poisoned. Keep toxic products in their original packaging and stored where children can’t see or get them. Put the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ (AAPCC) phone number, 1.800.222.1222, on or near every telephone in your home, and program it into your cell phone. Call that number if you think a child who is still awake and alert has been poisoned; the AAPCC can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and your child has collapsed or is not breathing.
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Magnet ingestion a growing and life-threatening problem in children

Many parents have experienced a child who has swallowed a foreign object - a toy, a coin, or even a magnet.

While this used to be somewhat harmless, parents need to be aware that today's higher-powered magnets can pose a higher risk of injury in young children.

"Modern magnet technology has transformed what was once an esoteric subtype of foreign-body ingestion into a common and lethal threat," writes Daniel Rosenfield, MD, department of pediatrics, The Hospital for Sick Children and co-author of a new study presented in Canadian Medical Association Journal.

It used to be that after a child ingested a magnet, physicians recommended a wait-and-see approach to treatment - expecting a child to pass the magnet without any risk of other health problems.

Today's magnets are 10-20 times stronger than older magnets and can adhere to one another while passing through the twists and turns of the gastrointestinal tract.

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Creating good sleep habits for children

Parents are often frustrated by their child's sleep-related problems - and bring those frustrations when they visit their pediatrician. It's no wonder - poor sleep habits can lead to health, behavioral, social, and educational problems.

"Many behavioral problems we see in children are the result of sleep problems. Once you address sleep, these problems, be it moodiness or depression or even ADHD, may disappear," says Haviva Veler, MD, director of the Weill Cornell Pediatric Sleep Center and a pediatrician at the Komansky Center for Children's Health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Typical sleep issues - age by age

Infants up to one year old: Main concern is getting the child to sleep through the night on their own. Parents should keep a consistent routine for bedtime, as well as naps, which may include an object that the child relies on to fall asleep - like a blanket, toy, or soothing music.

Toddlers (ages 1-3 years): During these sometimes-defiant years, one problem is a child's refusal to go to sleep, delaying bedtime, or not wanting to sleep in their own bed. Again, keeping a routine may alleviate some of these issues. Another common problem are night terrors or nightmares - which are normal but might be reduced if parents can identify triggers such as scary stories or movies.

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Ask the pediatrician: Immunizations

Dr. C,

I'm being told my kids need certain immunizations for school but I've heard that vaccines can cause other health problems. Which vaccines are really necessary and which can I have them skip?

All of the vaccines that are currently required by the state for children to attend school are from the official recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All of these vaccines are safe and well-tolerated and are very important to keep your children and the children around them free of these preventable diseases. Any vaccine can have potential side effects, and if any do occur, these are typically mild and short-lived. There are also some vaccines that are recommended but not required by the state, most notably Hepatitis A, influenza and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccines.

For the current schedule of vaccinations for preschool- and school-aged children, I suggest you visit the CDC website at

The PA State Requirements include all that are on the CDC list except for the Hepatitis A, influenza and HPV vaccines.

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Recent recalls announced by US Consumer Product Safety Commission

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: Beamerzzz™ Stuffed Animals with LED Flashlight

Hazard: LED flashlight wires can protrude through the stuffed toy, posing a laceration hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: One incident was reported involving a consumer who noticed an exposed wire. No injuries were reported.

Description: The recalled Beamerzzz stuffed toys come with LED flashlights sewn into the left paw. The toys are 12 inches high and come in five animal types. The model number can be found on the hang tag on the left ear. Affected toys are marked with manufacturing code 111208-02 on the sewn in label located in the left rear portion of the toy. The recalled styles are Baby Moose (Model # 3127FS); Baby Butter Cream Bear (Model #1229FS); Baby Smoky Black Bear (Model #1231FS); Baby Deer (Model #3136FS); and Baby Derby Elephant (Model #1927FS).

Sold at: Cabela's stores and online at from September 2012 through November 2012 for about $15.

Manufactured by: Purr-Fection by MJC, Inc., Tualatin, Oregon.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately take recalled toys away from children and contact Purr-Fection by MJC for a replacement toy.

Consumer Contact: Purr-Fection by MJC at 800.359.0254 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm PT Monday through Friday, or online at and click on the orange product recall tab at the top of the page for more information.

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