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Life & Health. News and information to advance your health and well-being.
January 2015
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Parents Need to Know is a newsletter written by Craig Collison, MD, pediatrician with Mount Nittany Physician Group.
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. Complications can include pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage from lack of oxygen and even death.

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Eliminate screen time before bed for more restful sleep

It’s been a long day and you are finally climbing into bed, ready to fall sleep. Instead of going straight to sleep, you probably check out the latest news on Facebook or Twitter, possibly answer a forgotten email or text, or play a couple rounds of Trivia Crack. While you may think this routine helps you relax before going to sleep, studies show that screen time before bed has a harmful effect on the amount and quality of sleep you get at night. And your kids are copying you.

The National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in American study revealed some disturbing results: 89 percent of adults and 75 percent of children have at least one electronic device in the bedroom. Additionally, 68 percent of adults and 51 percent of children have more than one device, such as a TV, computer, smart phone, or tablet in their bedroom. Over one third of parents and kids polled admitted to leaving at least one electronic on at night.

As a result, kids aren’t getting enough sleep. Sixty-nine percent of 6 – 11 year olds and 42 percent of 12 – 14 year olds are only averaging nine hours of sleep, though it is recommended that they sleep 10 – 11 hours each night. Older children were more likely to have more devices in their bedroom, and the study showed that those teens are averaging less than seven hours per night, far less than the recommended average of 8.5 – 10 hours.

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The benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby

As a new mom, one of the major decisions you’ll need to make is whether or not to breastfeed your new baby. While breastfeeding may not be right for everyone, there are many studies that promote the benefits of breastfeeding. Your healthcare provider can help you make the right decision for you and your baby, but here are a few facts that may help you make your decision.

Breast milk is easy for babies to digest, contains all the nutrients they need to grow, and is full of antibodies that can help fight off infections. As a new mom, you may also benefit from breastfeeding, as it can reduce the risk of breast and other reproductive cancers, is free and convenient, and burns calories, which can help lose pregnancy weight faster.

Breastfeeding is also a great way for you to bond with your baby. While in your arms, your baby has a chance to hear your voice and be comforted by your touch and smell.

If you do decide to breastfeed, it’s to take care of yourself, making sure you are nourishing your body with the right amount of nutrients and fuel. Moms that breastfeed should consume around 400 – 500 additional calories than normal.

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The dangers of fitspo and thinspo

Below is a great article recently featured on regarding fitness trends on social media and the impact they can have on our children's and teens daily lives.

Maybe you’ve seen the hashtag #fitspo or #thinspo recently on Instagram. Or perhaps you’ve scrolled through someone’s blog or Facebook page to find picture after picture of women in bikinis holding dumbbells or men in tight jeans with a six-pack of abs sipping a green smoothie.

Fitspiration, dubbed fitspo for short, and thinspiration, called thinspo for short, are trends that are taking over social media, encouraging weight loss, healthy eating, and intense exercise through the sharing of photos, motivational tips, recipes, and weight-loss success stories.

Just Googling the term fitspo, you’ll find skinny, toned, and tanned men and women promoting tips such as “Suck it up now and you won’t have to suck it in later,” or “Do it to make up for those years of hiding your fat behind a sweatshirt.”

While it’s great that the Internet allows people to come together and find encouragement and accountability to eat healthy foods and maintain regular exercise, some experts are concerned about the dangers behind the fitspo and thinspo movement, especially for teens. There’s a fine line between wanting to be healthy and lose weight, and taking it too far which can lead to dangerous eating disorders and purposeful starvation.

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Burn safety for kids

Snowy days and colder temperatures are the perfect ingredients for cozying up by the fire, enjoying a piping hot cup of hot chocolate, or a delicious bowl of soup. These activities are also the perfect combination for accidents that could potentially burn your child.

Typically, we see the majority of burn incidents in young children, probably due to their curious nature. Children’s skin is more sensitive and burns easier than adults’. Most burns happen at home, but are mainly preventable:

  • Teach children at a young age that hot items are off limits.
  • Place screens around fireplaces, stoves, and radiators.
  • Place pots and pans on the stove with handles facing backwards to prevent curious fingers from reaching up and grabbing them.
  • Know where children are before carrying hot liquids in the kitchen. Never try to hold a child and carry hot liquid.
  • Keep hot water heaters set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or at a “low-medium” setting. Children’s skin can be scalded in as soon as five seconds by water that is 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even if you follow the tips above, accidents can still happen. If your child does suffer a burn, remove any clothing from the burned area. If it is a first-degree burn, hold a cool compress on the affected area for three to five minutes. Use burn cream, such as aloe gel, to treat the effected area. If the burn becomes infected, seek medical attention. If the burn is a second or third degree burn, seek medical attention immediately.



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: James Trading Group Kids GAA Fleece Panel Hoodie

Hazard: The sweatshirts have a drawstring around the neck area, which poses a strangulation hazard to children. Drawstrings can become entangled or caught on playground slides, handrails, school bus doors or other moving objects, posing a significant strangulation and/or entanglement hazard to children. In February 1996, CPSC issued guidelines about drawstrings in children's upper outerwear. In 1997, those guidelines were incorporated into a voluntary standard. Then, in July 2011, based on the guidelines and voluntary standard, CPSC issued a federal regulation. CPSC's actions demonstrate a commitment to help prevent children from strangling or getting entangled on neck and waist drawstrings in upper outerwear, such as jackets and sweatshirts.

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