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Parents Need to Know is a newsletter written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group.

Should you be concerned about the polio-like illness in California?

A mysterious, polio-like illness has affected as many as 25 children in California, leaving them paralyzed with no hope of recovery. The first case was identified in 2012 when a child was admitted to the hospital with wheezing and difficulty breathing, progressing to the point of losing use of her limbs. Two years later, the child still has weakness in her left leg, paralysis in her left arm and breathing issues; however, she is still happy and attending preschool.

Although this illness is eerily reminiscent of the polio virus, tests have confirmed that these children do not have polio. Physicians believe the culprit is an enterovirus, a family of viruses that includes polio and hand, foot and mouth disease. While there is a vaccine for polio, there is not one for other enteroviruses, including this one.

This is a scary illness, but, at this point, parents should not panic. At this time, the illness is rare and concentrated in California. California is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see if there are any cases outside of California. Fortunately, none have been reported.

However, parents should be on the lookout for a sudden onset of weakness or difficulty breathing and if noticed, take their child to a physician immediately. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.



Government to provide tracking devices for children with autism

Children who are diagnosed with autism have varying degrees of difficulty with social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, repetitive behaviors, intellectual disabilities, motor coordination difficulties and physical health issues.

It is estimated that one in 88 American children are on the autism spectrum, a 10-fold increase over the past 40 years. The increase in autism diagnosis is attributed to improved diagnostic tools and increased awareness. Although researchers have not identified a sole cause of autism, scientists have found a number of rare gene mutations associated with it.

Due to the prevalence of autism and the physical, mental and verbal limitations of those with the disorder, nearly 50 percent of those with autism wander and go missing. This led to the proposal of Avonte’s Law, named for 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo who went missing in October 2013 and was later found, an apparent victim of drowning. The law designated $10 million in federal funding to help locate missing children with autism, similar to the federal program that helps to track seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease. The system makes voluntary tracking devices available for children with autism.

The devices can be worn anywhere, including on a belt, watch or shoelaces. The tracking devices will help to prevent further tragedies by locating missing children with autism quicker. To take advantage of this offer, contact your local law enforcement agency, which can apply for funding to help for the devices.



Additional health issues identified with use of energy drinks in teens
  energy drink  

Due to a high caffeine content, energy drinks have been associated with many health risks, including cardiovascular symptoms, sleep impairment, nervousness and nausea. In fact, over the last few years, Red Bull, Monster and 5-Hour-Energy have all been served with wrongful death suits, prompting the FDA to investigate the links between energy drinks and fatal health risks.

New reports are also showing a link between use of energy drinks and poor mental health, depression and substance abuse in teens. Researchers have found that high school students prone to depression, as well as those who smoke marijuana or drink alcohol, are more likely to consume energy drinks than their peers.

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Affordable Home Program for First-time Buyers

Are you or someone you know looking to buy an affordable home in Centre County?

Mount Nittany Health is hosting a free affordable housing program for first-time homebuyers on Friday, April 11. Representatives from several Centre County affordable home organizations and local lenders will be available to answer questions about local affordable home ownership programs.

Affordable Home Program for First-time Buyers:  Get Your Questions Answered
Friday, April 11, from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
Mount Nittany Medical Center
Conference rooms 2 and 3, ground floor

Participants include Centre County First-Time Homebuyer Program, Centre County Housing and Land Trust, Habitat for Humanity, National Penn Bank, Reliance Bank, State College Borough First-Time Homebuyer Program, State College Community Land Trust, and Temporary Housing Foundation First-Time Homebuyer Program.

RSVPs are not required. For more information, contact State College Community Land Trust at 814.234.8390 or email



Recent product recalls

Here are recent product recalls 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 homepage.


Name of product: Coleman® Runestone Style Children’s Shoes

Hazard: The metal rivets surrounding the holes where the shoestring is secured on the shoes can have sharp edges, posing a laceration hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received one report of an adult who scratched or cut his finger. No medical attention was required.

Description: The Runestone children’s shoes are black with gray mesh fabric panels on the side of the shoe with a green Coleman logo name and lantern graphic on the tongue. The black shoestrings on the shoes are threaded through green fabric tabs on the top of the shoe. A label located on the inside of the tongue of the shoes identifies the style as Runestone.

Sold at: Big 5 Sporting Goods retail stores nationally from January 2013 through December 2013 for about $39

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled shoes and return them to a Big 5 Sporting Goods store for a full refund or contact Eastman Footwear for instructions on returning the shoes for a refund.

Consumer contact: Call Eastman Footwear at 800.786.0282 ext. 301 from 8 am to 5 pm ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at and click Runestone Recall for more information.

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