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Life & Health. News and information to advance your health and well-being.
September 2017
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Parents Need to Know is a newsletter written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group.
Your child’s best shot at avoiding the flu

With the flu season beginning as early as October and running as late as May, now is the time to take steps to protect your health and the health of your friends and family. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu shot.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children six months and older should receive a flu shot by the end of October. In some cases, children between the ages of 6 months to 8 years may need multiple doses so its best to get vaccinated as early as possible. And, for the second year, the AAP advises parents and pediatricians not to use the FluMist nasal spray as protection against the flu.

I also recommend that you take your child to his or her pediatrician to receive a flu shot versus a retail-based pharmacy for several reasons:

  • There are specific brands of the flu vaccine available for children 6 months and older. Your pediatrician office offers the full range of vaccines for children while some retail-based pharmacies may not.
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How to cope during fall allergy season

When fall arrives, so does fall allergy season. Ragweed season, one of the most common fall allergens, typically starts in mid-August and lasts until the first frost. Other common fall allergens include mold and dustmites. Fall allergens can trigger the following symptoms:

  • Runny nose with clear, watery discharge
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing

Typically, these symptoms come on rather suddenly, and can last weeks, or even months.

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Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Autumn brings a lot of family festivals and, of course, the Halloween season. It's easy to get caught up in the fun of dressing up for Halloween and enjoying all kinds of treats and forget some simple rules that parents should share with their kids about trick-or-treating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some great tips - spelling out Safe Halloween - that revelers of all ages can appreciate:

S – Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft and flexible.
A – Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
F – Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
E – Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.

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Is whooping cough something I should still be concerned about?

With the success of whooping cough vaccines, many people assume that these types of outbreaks no longer occur; however, the reality is that whooping cough is highly contagious and remains one of the most common illnesses among vaccine-preventable diseases. Both children and adults can contract the disease.

“Whooping cough” is the layman’s term for an infection of bacteria named pertussis. It is known as whooping cough due to the characteristic “whoop” sound that often occurs with the illness. When an infected patient endures a long coughing spell, it is followed by a forced inhalation as they try to catch their breath, making a high-pitched “whoop” noise.

The illness is long and protracted, often lasting between six to eight weeks, and can have serious complications, especially in infants.

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Recent product recalls

Here are recent product recalls announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). For the most up-to-date recall information, please visit and click on the Recalls tab from the home page.


Name of product: Hallmark itty bittys® baby plush stacking toys

Hazard: The toys have fabric hats and bows that can detach, posing a choking hazard. 

Incidents/Injuries: Hallmark has received one report of the toy’s fabric bow detaching. No injuries have been reported. 

Description: This recall involves the itty bittys baby Disney-licensed plush animal stacking toys with rattling rings. The toys measure 10 inches by 7.5 inches by 9.5 inches. They have a yellow base stand with a post and four rattling rings that slide on and off the post. The red, blue, pink and purple rings have Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, and Donald Duck and Daisy Duck characters attached to them. Three of the four Disney-licensed characters are wearing a small plush, fabric hat or bow.  The Hallmark logo and “itty bittys” are printed on a sewn-on tag attached to the toy’s base.

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