Bleach Baths for Eczema – Are They Right for Your Child?

Earlier this year, a study reported in Pediatrics found a relatively inexpensive but surprisingly successful solution for children suffering eczema – a dilute bleach bath. In fact, the results were so remarkable and so quick that the Northwestern University study was terminated early so that the placebo group could benefit. On the other hand, bleach can be hazardous. So if your child is suffering from eczema, should you try a bleach bath?

Well, that depends. The study involved 31 children, all of whom had moderate to severe eczema and all who were infected with bleachbathstaphylococcus. That is the fact about the study that was left out of much of the news media coverage. The bleach bath was successful in treating children with chronic eczema (atopic dermatitis) infected with Staphylococcus aureaus, and only those parts of the body covered by the bath water.

Staph infections frequently accompany eczema. Some research has reported that as many as 90% of people suffering from eczema have staph on their skin, as compared to 25% of the population without eczema. A staph infection can exacerbate eczema’s symptoms.

So the dilute bleach bath makes sense. Bleach’s antibacterial property can improve a child’s skin infection from staph bacteria. Studies have found a correlation between the number of bacteria on the skin and eczema’s severity. In the study, the group used 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach in a full standard tub. After three months, 67% of those using the bleach baths reported improvement of symptoms in the areas of the body that had been submerged compared with just 15% of those who bathed in normal water.

But is it worth it? Bleach can be hazardous. The fumes and the liquid can irritate the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, throat, airways and lungs. Chlorinated household cleaners can react with other cleaners and form compounds that are toxic and/or cancer causing. One study found that chlorinated household cleaners reacting with other household cleaners can result in the formation of carcinogens chloroform and carbon tetrachloride.

Also, a bleach bath doesn’t address the cause of eczema. So it may provide relief, but won’t solve the problem. Finding what triggers eczema is a more permanent solution. While the exact cause of eczema isn’t known, it is believed to be linked to an overactive response by a body’s immune system to unknown triggers. Some people who suffer from eczema also suffer from allergies.

Generally, eczema sufferers will look for food allergies and common triggers. But what is often overlooked are reactions to beauty products, such as shampoos or washes. For example, formaldehyde can trigger allergic responses, and formaldehyde donor preservatives are common in many baby and children’s body products. Formaldehyde can also be released from easy care clothing and sheets, particularly during the warm summer months since sweat can mobilize formaldehyde. Children may also show allergic reactions to parabens, which are common preservatives in many bath products.

If you do choose to use a dilute bleach bath, make sure you consult with your child’s pediatrician first. And always store any bleach products out of reach of children.

Dora G. | Fort Lee, NJ; Fri., Aug. 28, 2009

Child safety should be taken very seriously and hopefully this petition on more secure transportation features for ambulances does not get ignored.

Safe Sizer Choking Prevention Plate – Our Story and Giveaway

I’m David Zak, the inventor of the Safe Sizer™ choking prevention plate and the dad of 3 beautiful kids aged 2 to 8. Now, I don’t consider myself an overprotective parent. When my kids are playing I don’t rush to them every time they fall down. But I do worry about the big things. Those potentially fatal but very preventable “accidents” that can happen so easily if you’re not careful. Choking on food is one of those things.

When my oldest was beginning to eat solid foods, I knew I was supposed to cut it up into really small pieces to reduce his risk of choking. But I was always asking myself “How small is small?” I should also mention that I’m a former engineer, and I simply needed a little more precision than “small”.

Safe Sizer plate1So, I did some research. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 75 children under the age of 14 die in the US every year from choking on food and about 7,500 are treated in emergency rooms. These are senseless and preventable tragedies. Additionally, the CDC data shows children under 2 years have the highest rates of choking deaths in this group, but children up to 4 years are still particularly vulnerable because they lack a full set of teeth.

I also found a recommendation regarding food size to reduce the risk of choking. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children younger than 4 years old not be fed any round, firm food unless it is cut into pieces no larger than one-half inch in any direction.

You think you know how small one-half inch is until you start trying to cut up pieces of food to that size. It’s smaller than you think. At least, it’s smaller than we thought. And, my wife Susie and I thought, maybe this is smaller than most people would expect. If most people have even heard of this guideline…and it’s pretty important. Nobody we knew had, and we thought they should.

As I thought about how to get this information out to more people, I kept coming back to the small objects test cylinder developed by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). The cylinder’s purpose is to show parents what objects are too small to give a child under 3 because it could block the child’s windpipe. If a toy fits in the cylinder than it fails. As a matter of fact, if a toy fails this test it is required to have a label on its packaging stating it is a potential choking hazard. So why not a test cylinder for food?

But food is a little different. You want it to be swallowed, so here smaller is better. But there is one big advantage with food that I thought would make a test cylinder idea work even better than it does for toys. Food is typically served in pretty standard ways. There’s usually either a plate or a placemat or a tray or some other type of tableware. So a food test cylinder could always be right in front of you if it was built into the tableware itself.

So I invented the Safe Sizer™ . It is a ½ inch diameter ring that could potentially be put anywhere and on anything on which children can be served food, in orderSafe Sizer plate 3 to:

  1. inform those who don’t know about the one-half inch size recommendation
  2. remind those who do to follow it at the exact place and time when they need the reminder
  3. provide a test gauge to accurately measure bite sizes to one-half inch or less

After striking out multiple times trying to convince some large manufacturers of children’s tableware that the Safe Sizer™ was a good idea, Susie and I decided we would just do it ourselves. We formed a company and called it Midwest Monkeys® after our 3 monkeys who were all born in the Midwest. We live in Albuquerque now so it was also a way of bringing a piece of our personal history with us.

Over the next year and a half we joined the major industry group, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), met a great product designer, developed, tested, and finally produced our first product that incorporated the Safe Sizer™ feature. We designed a set of three colorful melamine plastic plates with a 3-dimensional raised ring version of the Safe Sizer™ built right into the plate. To use the 3-dimensional Safe Sizer™ feature on the plates, the parent or grandparent or babysitter or any caregiver serving a child a meal simply places a piece of cut up food inside the raised ring, turns it to ensure the piece fits in every direction without going over the sides, and then hands over the plate to the child..

While we could have put the Safe Sizer™ feature on any number of different tableware, the plastic plate made the most sense. It is probably the most commonly used serving dish for kids and plastic allowed us to mold the feature right into plate making it permanent. By using melamine plastic, we also got a very durable, dishwasher safe, and food safe plastic. Lastly, we tested at the CPSIA accredited Intertek Labs to ensure that the Safe Sizer™ plates were fully compliant with the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008). They meet or exceed all standards for lead, phthalates, and melamine plastics.

The Safe Sizer™ choking prevention plates have been available since January 2009 and the response has been wonderful. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from parents about how their kids don’t want to use any other plate and how they love putting food in the Safe Sizer™ to show their parents that the food is the right size! We’ve been mentioned in numerous articles, on TV, and in mom blogs. We’re particularly proud of the awards we’ve won including iParenting Media, The National Parenting Center, PTPA (Parent Tested, Parent Approved), and Creative Child Magazine. But what we’re most proud of is that maybe we’ll help prevent one of those 75 kids and their parents from suffering a senseless tragedy.


Choking Prevention Guidelines

Here are some great guidelines on food choking prevention from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I would encourage all parents and caregivers to look at their site (Parenting Corner Q&A: Choking Prevention) for more information.

  1. Always supervise your children while eating
  2. Insist that kids are sitting while eating. No walking, running, playing, or lying down.
  3. Avoid the foods that kids most commonly choke on: hot dogs, nuts & seeds, chunks of meat & cheese, whole grapes, hard or gooey or sticky candy, popcorn, chunks of peanut butter, raw vegetables, raisins, and chewing gum.
  4. Cut food for infants and young children into pieces no larger than one-half inch, and teach them to chew their food well

***Introducing our: “SAFE SIZER PLATES FOR FEWER CHOKING KIDS” Giveaway!***

The Prize:

For 3 winners: you may each choose your favorite 2 plates *PLUS* a wildcard (1 extra winner) – see below for details

And here’s how it works: Safe Sizer plate2

Below you will find a PEDIATRIC SAFETY CONTEST ENTRY FORM. It includes 2 MANDATORY entries for the contest as well as the opportunity for you to enter BONUS entries…

For simplicity (and so that you can tweet multiple times) you can use this form for each entry, however you must fill out a separate form for each entry for it to count!

How to enter:

For your Mandatory Entry: You MUST do these 2 things FIRST or no other entries will count!

  1. We at Midwest Monkeys need your help. We’re trying to make some improvements to our website but we’re not really sure where to start. So please go to our site, come back here and tell us on the form below what you’d suggest we do to make the site better. We’re looking for real suggestions that show us you’ve actually gone to the site….plus…we have a surprise for you…the BEST suggestion will win our “wildcard prize”…a single plate of your choice in addition to the ones we already mentioned – and we’re choosing this winner! (1 entry)
  2. Tell us which 2 plates you like best so we know which ones to send when YOU WIN (1 entry)

For your Bonus entries:

  1. Follow @pediatricsafety on twitter and tweet the following: “I just entered a SafeSizer Choking Prevention Plate Giveaway @PediatricSafety 3 winners! Safer kids! Great Idea!
  2. OR Toddlers need to eat food in pieces <1/2″. SafeSizer plates make that easy! Giveaway w/ 3+ winners RT @PediatricSafety” (you may tweet both: 1 entry for each per day)

  3. Blog about our story and giveaway on your own site and link to this post (2 entries – please submit 2 forms)
  4. Join the Pediatric Safety community using the “Join our Community” button. (4 entries – please submit 4 forms)


Our 3 Main Contest Winners – Win 2 Plates Each:

  1. Traci Fritz #62 – with a Bonus Entry: joined the Pediatric Safety site
  2. Stephanie Clark #77 – with a Mandatory Entry #1: website suggestion
  3. Katrina Brandenburg #31 – with a Mandatory Entry #2: which 2 plates she wanted if she won



Our Wildcard Winners – Wins Their Choice of Plate for the Most Helpful Website Suggestion

  • Kristen Chumley – I think the theme should be circles. Maybe you could make the navbar circles instead of a single rectangle. Show the 3 styles of plates and when you scroll over them, there could be a zoom feature for users to check out the safe sizer. Another idea would be to have a video demonstation so people could see how useful it is to get a visual guide of 1/2″.

Contest Rules:

Giveaway is open to USA and Canada readers only. Giveaway ends at noon EST Friday Sept 11, 2009. Please fill out a separate form for each entry with your name and a valid email address so we can make sure each entry gets counted. You will have 48 hours to email if you win. 3 winners chosen using for the main prizes; 1 winner chosen by Midwest Monkeys for the wildcard prize. Good Luck to all entrants!

Schooling My Autistic Child

My son started school at the age of three. He attended a special needs public school in a small town. It was scary for me. I cried off and on all day, worrying about him and hoping he didn’t think that I abandoned him. At the time, I didn’t know if he understood what was going on around him. He was nonverbal, and still is. The difference between now and then, I now know he can understand me and he can use an augmentative communication device to communicate his thoughts.

My worrying was for nothing. He had a great time. In the next three years, I new he was in a safe environment. My only concern was that we were not seeing much progress in his developmental skills. He wasn’t demonstrating any understanding of the basic concepts like shapes, numbers, or colors. My husband and I decided it was time for a change.

We moved to a bigger city that was close by. I had researched the schools and thought that they would be better for my son. The teachers had more training and there were dedicated autism classrooms. After the move, it was one battle after another. At first, the new Lessick-Schoolschool system did not want to recognize my son’s diagnosis. Instead, they wanted to place him in a special needs classroom in a school that I wasn’t sure would be a good fit.

I went to the school and enrolled him. My daughter was two years old and was a climber. She would climb up onto the couch where I was sitting and filling out paperwork. The principal would come out and tell her to get down, and say that you don’t stand on furniture at school. This really irritated me, because I was right there and my daughter was only two years old. I let it go. I met with my son’s teacher and got a bad feeling. She didn’t know anything about autism and didn’t know anything about working with a nonverbal child. Again, I let it go and prepared for the first day of school.

I took my son to school on the first day and he fell down in the parking lot. His knee was bleeding really bad. I took him inside and looked for help. The principal was the first person to ask me if I needed anything. I asked for help getting my son’s knee cleaned up. She said all they had was soap and water. I was mad. Soap and water for a really bad scrape that needed a disinfectant. I understood that they could not administer anything else without parental permission, but I was right there. I could have done it. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I told her that there was no way my son was attending this school and left.

After a week of talking with the school board, my son’s diagnosis of autism was accepted and a placement was found at a different school with a dedicated autism classroom. This time, I met with both the new school’s principal and the teacher that my son would be assigned to. I also brought my son and daughter with me. I was happy with the way we were treated. I was put at ease with the exchange of questions and answers. I was satisfied that my son would be safe there.

Unfortunately, a year and a half later, my son was still not showing any progress. I knew that the key to any progress would be finding a way for my son to communicate. Frustrated with status quo, I finally took him out of school and began home schooling him. It was the best decision I ever made. He made a great deal of progress. We found a way for him to communicate and discovered that he had learned a great deal that no one was aware he was learning. I home schooled my son for a year and a half before he convinced me to let him go back to public school.

At that point, we had moved back to the small town we lived in previously. I made arrangements for him to attend the special needs public school he had previously attended. I could tell that the staff didn’t really believe that my son could do and knew the things he did. I knew the key would be whether or not my son would communicate with them and demonstrate his ability and knowledge. I made sure he understood that if he didn’t, I would have to pull him back out and resume home schooling. My son didn’t want this. Within a week, he was communicating with the staff and they were believers.

Everyday is still a struggle. My son made some progress the first year back in a public school, but I know he can do better. He has just started his second year and his teacher and I are going to work closely to ensure my son can reach his full potential. In the last seven years, I have learned a lot about how to work with the public school system to help my son. I have learned that the right staff working with my son makes the biggest difference. It doesn’t matter how many hours of OT or Speech my son receives, as long as there is constant communication between the therapists, my son’s teacher and myself. The hard work occurs in the classroom. My son’s therapist make sure his teacher and her assistants are utilizing the correct resources and techniques to help my son the most. I make sure they have my full support.

When I disagree with a member of the staff, we discuss it in a team meeting. Everyone works together to come up with a solution. I have learned that it is important that both sides are able to compromise. It is important to be open to everyone’s thoughts and ideas. I have also learned that when I relay my thoughts and opinions in a calm and logical manner, I am taken seriously and the staff is open to what I say.

I advocate for my son everyday. I am always prepared to change gears and approach a problem from a different angle. Sometimes I am wrong, and I have to accept it. Sometimes, I am right and nothing will back me down. In the future, I may have to consider a different placement for my son. It depends on him and his progress. I will make mistakes and feel the weight of guilt for each one. I will make great choices and be relieved when I see how they benefit my son. I will keep going everyday, making sure my son’s needs are met. That’s all we can do as parents. We take each day as it comes, and do what is the best for our child.

sam p. | Hammonton, NJ; Tue., Aug. 25, 2009

i am signing this petition cause i greatly support what its all about and believe that obama and congress should listen to our arguments we are putting forth thank you

Tahtyana E. | Boston, MA; Tue., Aug. 25, 2009

This is an AWESOME Cause!!! We need all the support humanly possible!!!!!!