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Parents Need to Know is a newsletter written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group.
Rest easy with these National Sleep Better Month tips for kids and adults

Like all healthy habits, learning proper sleep hygiene should start at a young age and continue for life. In honor of May being designated National Sleep Better Month, here are a few tips to ensure that you and your family all get a better night’s sleep.

  • Sleep schedule. Sleep schedules (bedtime and wake-up times) should be consistent. There should not be more than an hour’s difference in bedtime and wake-up times between week nights and weekend nights.
  • Bedtime routine. Children should have a 20- to 30-minute bedtime routine that is the same every night. The routine should include calm activities, such as reading a book or talking about the day.
  • Bedroom. Bedrooms should be comfortable, quiet, dark and cool (less than 75°F). For kids, a nightlight is fine, as a completely dark room can be scary for some children. Parents: Avoid using your child’s bedroom for time out or other punishment. You want your child to think of the bedroom as a good place, not a bad one.
  • Snack. A light snack before bed is a good idea for kids. Heavy meals within an hour or two of bedtime, however, may interfere with sleep.
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ADHD cases on the rise

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the incidence of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has risen 41 percent in the last 10 years. I can certainly confirm that cases of ADD and ADHD have been on the rise in my practice. The reason for the rise is unclear, but it is likely due to numerous factors, with better recognition of the problem among the biggest. Many of the children that I see with ADD or ADHD have parents who themselves struggled with the same issue of focusing in school settings but were not diagnosed with the problem. 

There is some concern about overdiagnosis, which is always something physicians have to be aware of. The stimulant medications that are used to treat ADD and ADHD are sometimes abused, so we have to be careful to make sure that the right people are being prescribed the medication. Our practice here is meticulous in gathering the appropriate information from the family, the teachers at school and the students themselves to be sure we are treating the students who need help the most. As physicians, we are trying to work toward the right combination of the lowest dose with the fewest side effects that still gives the kids the ability to focus. We try to avoid the zombie-like state caused by overmedicating the child. Our goal is for them to be themselves and be able to stay on task. Since kids are always growing (and insurance companies seem to change what they will cover on a frequent basis), this is an ongoing process in which we have to see them regularly to monitor growth and symptom control.

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The Cinnamon Challenge trends on the Web. What is it? What are the dangers?

It is hard for parents to stay up-to-date with all the potential dangers that their children can be exposed to on the Internet and at school.

The latest Internet sensation is the Cinnamon Challenge, and doctors are warning about the health dangers of this prank.

As reported on, “The fad involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. But the spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs.”

Pediatrics magazine published a report about the Cinnamon Challenge earlier this month, stating that about 30 teens around the US have sought medical attention due to the prank.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has reported a jump in calls related to the Cinnamon Challenge. In 2011, they logged 51 calls, and that number increased to 222 in 2012 – possibly due to popular viral videos on YouTube.

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AAP sets new guidelines for home births

One of the best parts of living in the United States is the ability to have the freedom of choice – including the choice to have your baby at home instead of at a healthcare facility.

The National Center for Health Statistics reports that while still a relatively rare occurrence, home births rose 29 percent in the five years ending 2009.

In 2011, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a statement saying it “Respects the right of a woman to make a medically informed decision about delivery,” though it still views a hospital as the safest place to have a child.

In response to the rise in home births and the statement from ACOG, the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidelines in May 2013 for the care of infants born at home:

“We felt that it needed to be stated that no matter where a baby is born, the care needs to adhere to the same standards,” said the guidelines’ lead author Kristi Waterberg, MD, a professor of pediatrics and a neonatologist at the University of New Mexico. “We concur with ACOG that hospitals and birthing centers appear to be the safest settings for birth in the US, but respect the right of women to make their own decisions about delivery. One thing we feel very strongly about is that there needs to be one person present at the birth whose primary responsibility is care of the baby. While it’s uncommon for both the mom and the baby to get into trouble, it does happen.”

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One sugared soda can raise the risk of diabetes

By now, we should all know that soda has a lot of sugar and no real redeeming nutritional qualities; now a European study suggests that drinking just one 12-ounce soda per day could increase Type 2 diabetes risk. This study agrees with previous US-based studies, which also found that drinking soda could lead to a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Study data showed that people who drank one 12-ounce serving of sugar-sweetened soda daily were 18 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes over a multi-year period. The study also showed that an increase in consumption – more than 12-ounces of sugar-sweetened soda per day – increased the risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes.

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Recent product recalls

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: Reed and Barton Gingham Bunny forks and spoons for babies

Hazard: The pink coloring on the bunny’s ears can come off, posing choking and ingestion hazards to babies.

Incidents/Injuries: Reed and Barton has received one report of the pink coloring on the bunny’s ears coming off the flatware. No injuries were reported.

Description: This recall involves infant flatware from the Gingham Bunny Flatware Collection, sold three ways: As just the infant feeding spoon; in a fork and spoon set; and in a three-piece set including the infant feeding spoon with a bowl and bib. The flatware is silver-colored, nickel-plated and has a bunny with pink coloring on its ears at the end of the handle.

Sold at: Reed and Barton factory stores and various gift shops nationwide and online at from September 2012 through January 2013 for between $15 and $40.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the recalled flatware away from infants and contact Reed and Barton for a full refund or free replacement flatware.

Consumer Contact:  Reed and Barton Corp at 800.343.1383 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm ET Monday through Friday or online at and click on Recall Information in the gray box at the bottom of the page.

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