Swine Flu for Parents: Real World Answers Part II

Swine Flu for Parents

In our last post we walked you through what we hope was everything you needed to know about the virus in general: how to recognize symptoms, avoid the virus and take care of your kids if they happened to catch it. Our goal today is to provide you with the same kind of detailed information…but on the vaccines. We’re not going to make choices or judge anyone’s decisions or tell anyone what they should believe or what actions they should take. But there is a lot of information out there, a lot of rumor and a lot of conjecture. There are polls saying that a large percent of parents are choosing not to vaccinate for the swine flu because of concerns about what is or isn’t in the vaccines…And there are numerous mixed message coming from the media. What we can do is help you sort through all the media coverage and pull together some of the best, most reliable information currently available to hopefully provide you with some much needed “real world” answers to some very important questions. AND THEN…we will let you make your own decision about what’s right for you and your child. So as we did yesterday…let’s start off with a little background, but this time… about the H1N1 vaccine…

The H1N1 vaccine for kids…

Dr Ari Brown: The vaccine will be available as both a nasal spray and a shot. Currently the FDA has approved three flu shots from three manufacturers and one nasal spray from another manufacturer. Keep in mind that all of these protect against just H1N1. They will NOT protect against the other flu strains we typically see in the fall and winter season

All three vaccine shots are inactivated vaccines and like the seasonal flu vaccines are created with egg product, so people with egg allergies need to steer clear. Here are the key differences between the 2 brands that have been approved for young children:syringe w vaccines2

  • Novartis Brand: FDA approved for children four years of age and older. There are two forms of this shot: The single dose uses thimerosal in the manufacturing process but then it is extracted before the final production. The multidose vials use thimerosal as a preservative
  • Sanofi Brand: FDA approved for children six months of age and older. There are two forms of this shot—a single dose in a prefilled syringes and a multidose vial. Both products are thimerosal preservative free.

The nose spray is similar to the Flumist vaccine used for seasonal flu vaccine. It is also made with egg product and it does not have any preservative.

  • Medimmune makes the H1N1 nasal spray. It is FDA approved for healthy people two years old up to 49 years of age. Because it is a live vaccine, pregnant women, people with asthma, people with immune deficiencies, and those with underlying medical conditions should NOT get this vaccine.

If I choose to vaccinate, how many shots or doses does my child really need?

AAP: The seasonal flu vaccine is given separate from the H1N1 vaccine and is available now for all children ages 6 months through 18 years. If your child is less than 9 years old and this is his or her first time getting a flu vaccine, s/he will need two doses.

Parents and caretakers of infants under 6 months of age should also get the seasonal flu vaccine now to protect these children who are too young to be vaccinated.

Dr Brown: For H1N1 flu, kids under ten will need a series of two shots or doses, given approx. one month apart. Ten years of age and older will only need one shot or dose for protection. Infants under 6 months are too young to be vaccinated.

It is definitely a good idea to get both vaccinations, but keep in mind all live-attenuated flu vaccines (the nose sprays) must be given at least four weeks apart so you have an adequate immune response to the vaccinations. So, if your child gets Flumist over the next few weeks for seasonal flu, he has to wait a full four weeks to get the H1N1 nose spray. Consider that before getting Flumist right now.

There is not a special time interval to receive seasonal flu shot and H1N1 shot.

My kids are not great with shots – any suggestions?

Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA: The good news is that there are several techniques that parents can use to positively impact their child’s experience when getting a needlestick – the key is to be creative and use the right combination of tactics depending on your child’s age, the particular procedure being done and the child’s fear level.child doesnt like shots3

Parents of young children can bring soap bubbles and ask them to blow bubbles during the injections, suggesting they are “blowing away the hurt.”With a crying infant, if the parent places the plastic bubble maker in front of their mouth, as they cry out, they will make bubbles. “I have seen babies stop crying mid-cry because they were distracted by the bubbles,” said Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer, director of the Pediatric Pain Program.

For older kids and adolescents getting the shots, but parents can help the child to breathe out slowly to relieve the pain.

Parents can ask their kids to use their imagination and experience being somewhere else really fun during the injections, such as at the park or at the beach. Other distraction ideas include jokes, video games, stories and music.

Experts have also advised parents to ask doctor for a prescription for a numbing cream or patch and put on the areas to be injected. Or if the doctor approves, parents can give the child a dose of pain reliever, such as Tylenol, about one hour before the injection.

After returning home, put an ice bag on the injection site to reduce local swelling and pain.

Finally, do not lie to your child about getting an injection…No one likes to get poked with a needle, but if you reassure your child that there are ways to make the hurt go away, then you can help them achieve a successful, less painful experience

Am I better off with the H1N1 nose spray? What about antivirals and the nose spray?Nasal swine flu vaccine for 4 yo

Dr Brown: If someone is taking an antiviral (such as Tamiflu), he should not take the nasal vaccine until it has been at least 48 hours after completing the medication. And, if a person receives the nasal vaccine, he should not take an antiviral (such as Tamiflu) for two weeks after being vaccinated unless it’s medically necessary. That’s because the medication will reduce the ability for the vaccine to work.

What about vaccine safety concerns?

Folks, here I will depart from providing information – only because this topic could be a post unto itself. I will say that Dr Brown, The American Academy of Pediatrics, Public Health of Canada and Pediatric Safety’s own Dr Kim among others feel confident in their recommendations to immunize (please read Dr Kim’s comments at the end of this article). I will also say that other professionals – including some in the medical profession – feel differently. What I can do is provide you with several links that should hopefully give you some useful reference points to consider… For my family, I feel safer with the H1N1 vaccination than taking a chance without one.

When will the vaccine be available?

Dr Brown: The seasonal flu vaccine (both shot and Flumist nose spray) is available now.

Wall St Journal: For the United States: The first available H1N1 vaccine will be the nasal spray for 2 years and older and started distribution as of US FlagTuesday; the first H1N1 vaccine shots for 6months and older, could start becoming available for high priority groups (pregnant women and anyone with an “at risk” medical condition) as early as later this week. 45 million doses are expected to be distributed across the US by mid-October. Approx. 250 million doses have been ordered which should cover any American who wants to be vaccinated

Public Health Agency of Canada: For Canada: The Canadian government intends to purchase 50.4Canada flag million doses of H1N1 vaccine on behalf of the provinces, territories and federal populations, which should meet the need of every citizen desiring vaccination. The government remains on target to have a safe and effective vaccine available in November 2009. However we expect the vaccine could be available as early as mid October should this be necessary.

We hope our vaccine overview has been a help. We know you have some tough decisions in the weeks ahead…and we hope we gave you some useful information that makes it a little easier for you to make some of them. We also know it can be a bit scary…and that no matter how good the information we provide, sometimes it just helps to hear a few words of advice from someone who speaks from the heart…and while she may not be your own pediatrician, she’s really great with kids and she cares an awful lot… So here is Dr Kim, our own in-house pediatrician, to give you her thoughts on the H1N1 vaccines. In the end…we leave it up to you and your pediatrician to decide on the best path forward for your kids…

Dr KimHere’s my take on the upcoming flu season and influenza vaccines for children this year.

First, every single year the regular seasonal influenza kills approximately 35,000 people in America. And it is responsible for severe illnesses and hospitalizations, as well as the missing of school and work days, for many more kids and families.

As much as we may wish, we cannot prevent your children from getting sick each winter. There are more than 200 cold viruses and we have no vaccines to prevent these illnesses. But influenza is among the most severe and the most miserable of the viruses, and we can prevent severe illness with vaccinations.

But is it safe doctor?

I have fielded questions from worried parents and watched the media stir up fears for the past months about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine.

Many patients and writers in the press have expressed concerns about the “new-ness” of the H1N1 vaccine. That concern is based on a lack of understanding of the way that flu vaccine is made. Every year a “new” influenza vaccine is made based on the circulating strains of virus and given to millions of people with excellent safety and efficacy. The H1N1 vaccine has been made in the same way, at the same companies and factories. We know how to do this well and safely.

Some people worry that there is not enough safety data. In my opinion, there is never “enough” safety data. But again, given the track record of similarly-made flu vaccine in the past, there is not reason to be concerned that this vaccine will be unsafe at all.

Others worry that the vaccine will not be effective, citing concerns that the virus may mutate and change. Virologists know that this is rare in a single flu year, and we have watched the virus through the spring in Mexico, the summer here and the winter in the southern hemisphere, and the virus has not changed; there is no reason to expect that it will do so this winter.

Other concerns relate to preservatives used in childhood vaccines, such as thimerisol. Please keep in mind that many studies have been done to evaluate the safety of these compounds, and no good scientific study has ever shown that the very small amounts of thimerisol used in vaccines are harmful to children.

Finally given the recent media attention, questions have been raised about the 1976 flu vaccine and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. What isn’t being given as much attention is that the 1976 flu vaccine was made in a completely different way than the current swine flu vaccine, with less sophisticated and safe vaccine technology. So there’s no reason to suspect that GBS (which is typically present at a mild level in the general population), would increase at all with this year’s H1N1 vaccine.

In summary, as I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, I am strongly recommending both the regular seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine to my most vulnerable patients this winter: young children, those with chronic illnesses like asthma, pregnant women, and the parents and caregivers of babies younger than 6 months old who cannot yet be vaccinated. I think that these vaccines are safe, and I think that they are important. They will save lives and decrease pain and suffering this winter. And as always I recommend to families getting enough rest (sleep-deprived bodies are much more vulnerable to illness), staying well hydrated, practicing extra-vigilant hand hygiene, and reducing stress and increasing joy (both of which have measurable impacts on the immune system)!

I hope that you all have a fun and safe fall and winter! -Dr Kim

Dr Kim Newell is a pediatrician in a busy outpatient practice in San Francisco. At Princeton University she studied the history of religious thought and practice around the world. Only in modern times have healing and religion been separate fields of study. She attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania to learn the practice of medicine in a busy urban teaching hospital. Along the way she lived in India for a year and worked at hospitals in Guatemala, Uganda, and on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, where she learned to be grateful for the luxury that allows her patients to fret over the small things. She completed her pediatric residency at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Kim would like to help parents build healthy families by arming them with knowledge and tools, as well as a bit of lightness and laughter. She believes that the joys of parenting should outweigh the worries. Dr Kim blogs at drkimmd.com


Relevant Links

  • U.S.A.H1N1 Vaccines, 195 Million Doses: Availability, Safety Issues by Dr Ari Brown (Dr Brown is a pediatrician, book author, child health advocate, and a mom. Dr. Brown is Board Certified and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, Dr.Phil, RachaelRay and ABC News)
  • Frequently Asked Questions About H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) – AAP
  • How to make flu shots easier for kids – Mattel’s Children’s Hospital, UCLA
  • Public Faces Long Wait to Get New Flu Vaccine – Wall Street Journal 10/5/09
  • Health Canada flu watch
  • Each week the CDC publishes an update on flu statistics including location of flu activitiy, type of flu, hospitalization and mortality stats. For those interested, the data can be found here: 2009 H1N1 Flu: Situation Update by CDC October 2, 2009 http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm
  • At Pediatric Safety, we have an active link to the latest flu news from flu.gov. Visit us here for updates or sign up for email updates https://pediatricsafety.net/awareness/

Swine Flu for Parents: Real World Answers Part I

Swine Flu for ParentsOn Tuesday October 6th, the very first doses of swine flu vaccine started to arrive in doctor’s offices around the United States. These doses however will arrive in extremely limited quantities and initially are targeted for those considered to be “in high risk”. Soon however, as supply becomes more readily available, there will be some very important decisions to be made by every individual – and more important to us here at Pediatric Safety – by every parent. Not surprising, there are some difficult questions that need to be answered for each parent to feel comfortable making these decisions. That’s what our goal is…over the course of this post and the one following. There’s an incredible amount of information out there about the swine flu…along with a lot of mixed messages. What we hope to do is pull together the best, most reliable information currently available from some of our best sources and provide you with some “real world” answers to some very important questions. AND THEN…we will let you make your own decision about what’s right for you and your child. So to start us off…a little background…

What exactly is the “swine flu” and how is it different from the regular or “seasonal” flu?

CDC: Swine flu is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new flu was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. It was originally referred to as “swine flu” because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes were very similar to flu viruses that normally occur in pigs in North America (note: that theory didn’t actually pan out – but the name stuck).

Swine flu spreads the same way that seasonal flu spreads -mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something – such as a surface or object – with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): At this point the 2009 H1N1 virus does not appear to be any more severe than seasonal flu. However there are some small differences. Unlike seasonal flu, which tends to cause more significant illness in elderly people and very young children, H1N1 flu (swine flu) is most common in people 5 to 24 years old. Also, while seasonal flu usually peaks in January or February, the 2009 H1N1 virus has caused illness during the summer months and remains active as we head into the fall and early winter.

How do I know if I or my child has swine flu?Swine Flu symptoms2

AAP: Children with influenza have a sudden onset of fever, chills, sore throat, cough, and runny nose. It may also cause headache, muscle aches, tiredness, nausea, vomiting and belly ache. The flu is different from the common cold, but it can be hard to tell which one your child has because typically a child with a cold can have a stuffy nose, sneezing, scratchy throat, hoarse voice, dry cough (usually from mucous dripping down the throat), and slight fever. One additional comment from the CDC: most people with 2009 H1N1 have had mild illness and have not needed medical care or antiviral drugs, and the same is true of seasonal flu. Most people with flu symptoms do not need a test for 2009 H1N1 because the test results usually do not change how you are treated.

Are there actual tests for the flu and are they accurate?

CDC: A number of flu tests are available to detect influenza viruses. The most common are called “rapid influenza diagnostic tests” that can be used in outpatient settings and they provide results in 30 minutes or less. Unfortunately a rapid test’s ability to detect the 2009 H1N1 flu varies, therefore you could still have the flu, even though your test result is negative. Rapid tests do however appear to be better at detecting the flu in children than adults. There are other more sensitive flu tests that require specialized laboratories, but these tests are typically only recommended for cases with serious health risks. In most cases, if a healthcare provider suspects you have the flu – whether seasonal or swine flu – having test results that confirm it will not change how they will treat you.

What is the best way I can protect my child (and myself) from getting sick?

AAP: There are some everyday actions that you and your child can do to help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Most of these are common sense recommendations, but it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder…plus we threw in a little fun with kids in mind:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper sleeve. If you use a tissue instead, cover your nose and mouth with it when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash right after you use it. (See who has the best aim – extra points for making sure it gets in the trash)kid hand washing2
  • Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Wash hands for 20 seconds, which is about as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. You can use alcohol-based hand cleaners but keep in mind that alcohol-based products are toxic if ingested by children. (Don’t worry about the small amount left on hands after use.)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. (Kind of like that old game of “operation” – see who avoid touching for the longest period of time)
  • Make sure your kids know to go to the school nurse if they start to feel sick during school. Children who are sick should stay home until 24 hours after their temperature has fallen below at least 100.4°F without the use of fever-reducing medications. Note: Normal body temperature is different for each child. In general, 100.4°F (38°C) or higher is a sign of fever.
  • On a serious note – make sure to seek medical care if you or your child is severely ill, such as having trouble breathing. Antiviral medicines may help.
  • The H1N1 vaccine is currently in production, but supply will be limited for the next couple of weeks. The U.S. plans to have 195 million doses of vaccine, but it will be distributed in several batches on a weekly basis. Once it is available, this is a decision you as a parent will need to make for yourself and your child. (More on vaccines in our Part II of Swine Flu for Parents)

Finally, make a plan in case you or your child get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs (for when soap and water are not available), tissues and other related items could help you to avoid the need to make trips out in public. Also, keep your child’s pediatrician’s number handy, just in case.

What should I do if my child gets sick?

AAP: Any child younger than 3 months who has a fever (rectal temperature of 100.4°F or higher) should see a pediatrician.

In a child older than 3 months has mild illness, he should stay home from school or child care until he has been fever-free for 24 child with feverhours without the use of fever-reducing medications. Encourage them to drink liquids, especially if they are not eating well. Chicken soup can provide liquids and has been found to alleviate symptoms. If your child is otherwise healthy, call your pediatrician to see if an appointment is needed.

If your child has underlying health problems (for example, heart or lung problems, weakened immune system, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease, asthma, or a severe neurological disorder not including ADHD or autism), see a pediatrician as soon as mild flu symptoms start.

If your child has severe symptoms, has been to an area where there have been cases of swine flu, or been directly exposed to a swine flu patient, call your doctor for advice. Your doctor can help you decide whether your child needs to be seen or if they may need to be treated with an antiviral medicine.

If on the other hand, your child experiences any of the following warning signs, seek urgent medical care.

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Are any medicines recommended to help children with swine flu?

AAP: Children with influenza should never receive any product that contains aspirin. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) are fine to treat fever and body aches in children. Cough and cold medications do not help, and should not be used, especially in young children under 4 years of age.

Most adolescents, adults and children do not need antiviral medicines. Overuse of these medications could be counter-productive and lead to resistance. Parents with children who are at high risk of complications from flu (such as those with chronic disease or cancer, or very young children) should talk with their doctor in advance about what to do if they notice flu-like symptoms.

It is expected that oseltamivir (Tamiflu) will be more effective if taken soon after the onset of symptoms, rather than later in the course of the illness. Based on a recent study, Tamiflu may have more side effects in children than in adults; your pediatrician can help you decide if this medication is right for your child. Zanamivir (Relenza) is not for young children under 7 years of age.

Your pediatrician will decide when treatment is indicated and which drug is best to treat your child.

We hope our swine flu overview has been a help. And we promise to provide just as detailed a review of vaccines in Part II. We also know that no matter how good the information, sometimes you just need a few words of advice from someone that makes you feel confident…that’s your doctor, not a government doctor…and while we can’t ask each of your pediatricians to comment, we can leave you with some words from our own in-house pediatrician…so for today, here are Dr Kim’s thoughts on the upcoming flu season for children this year:

Dr KimIn the upcoming winter, we expect that there will be both seasonal influenza and the new strain of H1N1 influenza commonly known as swine flu. There is already quite a lot of H1N1 virus circulating, and I see children daily who have swine flu.

When we first discovered the new H1N1 flu virus, the world watched and worried to see how severe it would be, and there was a great deal of anxiety and even panic. We now know a great deal about this virus, and luckily, there is no reason to panic. We have seen many many cases in my own office, and throughout the US. And public health officials watched it evolve in the winter of the southern hemisphere.

The good news is that the new H1N1 illness is generally no more severe than the usual seasonal flu strains. There are several differences, however. Since none of us has any innate immunity to this strain, H1N1 has been incredibly contagious: in my practice when one family member gets sick, it usually wipes out the whole family for a few days.

Another difference is that we have seen more severe illness and even deaths in pregnant women, which is why the current recommendations for vaccination have pregnant women on the list of high-risk groups who should receive priority for the vaccine.

What does it feel like to get the swine flu? The symptoms are similar to the usual seasonal flu, except many patients with swine flu get not only rapid onset fever, cough, body aches and headaches, but also have the pleasure of some vomiting and diarrhea. Fun.

The illness can be mild but is usually miserable and can be severe, especially in younger children without a fully developed immune system or in those children with chronic illnesses like asthma or compromised immune systems. And it does cause deaths in children. We would like to prevent childhood deaths if at all possible.

I am strongly recommending both the regular seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine to my most vulnerable patients this winter: young children, those with chronic illnesses like asthma, pregnant women, and the parents and caregivers of babies younger than 6 months old who cannot yet be vaccinated. They will save lives and decrease pain and suffering this winter.

I am also recommending, as I always do, that families focus on their overall health, especially in the winter cold and flu season. That means getting enough rest (sleep-deprived bodies are much more vulnerable to illness), staying well hydrated, practicing extra-vigilant hand hygiene, and reducing stress and increasing joy (both of which have measurable impacts on the immune system)!

I hope that you all have a fun and safe fall and winter! -Dr Kim

Dr. Kim Newell is a pediatrician in a busy outpatient practice in San Francisco. She would like to help parents build healthy families by arming them with knowledge and tools, as well as a bit of lightness and laughter. She believes that the joys of parenting should outweigh the worries. Dr Kim blogs at drkimmd.com


Relevant Links

Stop Missing Kids Part II: Protect Your Child from Abduction

This past week, I was watching America’s Most Wanted on TV. I have always loved John Walsh, the host of the show because through his television program he has helped take down over 1,050 dangerous fugitives and bring home more than 50 missing children in the past 22 years. In 1981 John and his wife Eve’s 6 year old son Adam was abducted and murdered. And since that day, John has dedicated his life to fighting on behalf of both children and adult victims of violent crimes.

Americas Most Wanted

On yesterday’s show, they were talking about a particular young girl named Michaela Joy Garecht who was abducted back in 1988. They told the story about her mother’s struggle through the pain of losing her only child. But through the horrible situation, she wound up turning it into something good by becoming a speaker and advocate for child safety. Her name is Sharon Nemeth Murch and she wrote a book called “Listen to Your Smart Smart Voice BookVoice” which is available on Amazon for $9.95.

This 40 page book is a child safety program that empowers children by teaching them to use the very best weapon of all — their own intelligence. In this book, children learn what a Stranger is, and how to react to one. In In life, a child will encounter many situations which will help train their Smart Voice, and gain real-world skills. But the truth is, every new child that goes missing shows us yet another new way predators have found to entrap our children. We need to do what we can to protect them! And in order to do that, it is our responsibility as parents to protect them by teaching them to be aware, and to be smart in all circumstances.

Being a mother of almost 4 little ones, this subject touches my heart tremendously. I decided to look into it a bit more and I came up with a few sites that you might want to check out.

kindervisionlogohttp://www.kindervision.org/– “Created in 1991 as a result of the kidnapping and murder of seven year old Leticia Hernandez in Southern California, KinderVision® is a national child safety education program dedicated to the protection of children from abduction and sexual exploitation. Developed with the assistance of law enforcement and research including an interview with a convicted child killer, the KinderVision educational materials are designed to be an ongoing resource for families, for schools, for law enforcement, and for all youth-serving organizations to teach children and youth how to be safe from sexual predators – because The Greatest Save is the one we never have to make. The program is available in English and Spanish and is funded solely through corporate sponsorships and contributions with the materials provided FREE to families whenever possible on site, on air, and on line.” Be sure to check out their Free Downoadable Lesson Kits for Preschool & Kindergarten Age Children. It is important to teaching our children early about how to keep themselves safe.

radkidslogohttp://www.radkids.org/ – radKIDS® is the national leader in children’s safety, with headquarters based in South Dennis, Massachussetts. radKIDS® is brought to children and parents by the training and development of nationally certified instructors drawn from their own communities. By empowering a community with certified local instructors, the radKIDS® Personal Empowerment Safety Education package is not just a program but a true gift to the community. Community-based organizations receive training and support from national headquarters to provide the radKIDS® program as a part of their own youth work. These groups, which have safety goals compatible with those of radKIDS®, include police departments, educational organizations, civic groups, fraternal organizations, citizens’ groups and concerned parents.

my-precious-kidlogohttp://www.mypreciouskid.com/ – My Precious Kid Child Safety Products Manufacturer of Oregon is founded on Christian values of truth, honesty, integrity, human worth, and the value of all children. My Precious Kid is dedicated to family success and family safety. My Precious Kid Child Safety Products and Baby Gear protect your children and give you peace of mind. They have products for your baby, children, adults, pets, the elderly, and children with special needs. I have actually done a review on this awesome company several months ago. Check it out here.


I just cannot imagine the horrific pain of losing a child to kidnapping, abduction, or murder. My eyes have been truly opened to the need for us as parents to teach our children the importance of staying safe early on. I am so grateful for the many parents who have been through this type of tragedy who have dedicated themselves to helping other parents.

So, if you are a blogger, I would ask you to join me and write a post so we can all join forces and get the word out about the dangers of child abduction. And take the time to check out the many resources that are available to help us in this child safety education process.

Thanks so much, DAWN

Exercise Rhymes

Hi I’m Marina, creator of Exercise Rhymes®, rhymes that make exercising fun. After my daughter Isabel was born I had significant ‘baby weight’ to lose. I enjoy running, but Isabel quickly became bored with her books, toys and snacks in the jogging stroller as I tried to get my exercise. I sought out ways to create playtime focused on fitness and fun that would benefit us both. We tried some exercise videos together but they didn’t hold her Exercise Rhymesattention for long. I found myself using her as a weight doing squats, lunges, crunches, and arm lifts and then began making up rhymes to go with the exercises. It was wonderful to include her in my exercise routine and she would soon begin mimicking my movements and began to routinely play and exercise together in short bursts throughout the day.

Drawing on my years of dance, yoga and fitness training, I created flashcards pairing fun rhymes and exercises for adults to do with young kids….and Exercise Rhymes® was born. Family and friends with young children tested the prototype flashcard decks and provided me with invaluable feedback. My daughter and I also routinely did the exercises and even at 18 months, she quickly recognized the rhymes and started doing the exercises that went with them. She would fill in the rhyming words and loved to pretend being a frog, bunny, train, etc. while we exercised together. I was happy to shed the pregnancy pounds and we both had a lot of fun taking short breaks to exercise throughout the day at home and at the park. The exercises were even helpful in occupying her while waiting in line, and now she is starting to use the cards to practice reading.

I also did some research and found that:

  • There is a strong correlation between academic achievement and fitness levels.
  • Rhymes and exercises form patterns between mind and body that reinforce learning.
  • Rhyming is known to provide a good foundation for phonics and reading. Rhyming also helps to support the brain’s timing mechanism, critical for interpersonal communications and social interactions.
  • Short bursts of activity a few times per day are as effective as one longer exercise session. High intensity short duration exercise is shown to be a potent fat-burner and it helps the body handle and recover from stress.
  • Making exercise fun for kids helps to establish healthy associations that can last a lifetime.

Exercise Rhymes® are fun playful rhymes and exercises for adults to do with young children ages 3 to 7 years old. Preschool and primary elementary teachers use them for fitness breaks in class, and there are therapeutic uses for children with special needs. They are effective in educational therapy because the combined rhyme and exercise stimulate both motor and language centers of the brain, and the rhymes help with the brain’s timing mechanism. Pediatric therapists have stated they get significant eye contact and interaction while using Exercise Rhymes® with autistic children and they are an excellent resource for parents to continue therapy at home. The exercises themselves benefit the parents, teachers, and caregivers as much as the kids, and they really are a fun way to not only exercise but also spend time together. In fact, in my children’s fitness classes, I find the kids love the rhymes and pretending and never think twice about the exercise.

Finding the time to exercise is a challenge for everyone, especially with kids in tow, but exercising with your kids does not have to include a lot of time, pain, or even the gym. Including kids in the exercise routine is a simple solution that helps build lifelong, healthy habits for everyone. Commitment and consistency provide the long term benefits of health and vitality. A commitment to fitness is important, and showing our children that exercise is fun might be even more important!


  • Find fun ways to exercise with your kids, including sports you enjoy.
    • Take walks around the block, ride bikes together, or jog beside your child while they are riding a bike (always wearing a helmet).
    • Try simple strengthening exercises together including lunges and squats. Doing these exercise while holding your young child is a fun way to increase the intensity.
  • Be sure to always keep your stomach muscles drawn-in while exercising to strengthen your core, improve your posture, and support your back.
  • As with any new exercise routine, get an okay from your healthcare provider first.

Stop Missing Kids Part I: High & Low Tech Ways to Keep Watch

A parent’s deepest fear, given the level of depravity and violence in the world today, is that their child might disappear, not while traveling in a foreign country, but right under their noses in a local mall or on their way home from school. How can you protect your child, or children from predators? How can you keep surveillance 24/7 when you also want to allow them some measure of independence?

In an article written by Joe Burris, of the Baltimore Sun, which appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday, June 27, 2009, he describes the many different, up-to-date products available today that help monitor and track the whereabouts of your children. For example, here are a few available options:Schnee - parental supervision

  1. GPS tracking devices with wander alerts emit beeps or vibrations when a child strays too far.
  2. Digital watches and apparel that have high decibel alarms.
  3. SafetyTat waterproof tattoo allows a mom to attach her phone number to her child.
  4. Wander Wear clip-on tags on which parents can write their phone number.

He also presents the advice offered in the book “The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living,” (Sentient Publications, $16.95 paperback). This book, written by Debra Holtzman, a Florida-based safety expert and mother, stresses how to best prepare yourself and your child to prevent or recover a missing child. Some of her low-tech child safety tips from her book:

  1. Don’t advertise your child’s name to strangers.
  2. Make sure your children know their first and last names, complete address and phone number.
  3. Children have to know how to contact you at all times, how to dial 911 and make collect calls.
  4. Never let a small child out of your sight. Teach children not to run, walk, or hide from their parents. Also, provide children with instructions on what to do if they become separated from you.
  5. Don’t let kids listen to their headphones or play video games while they are walking with you.

In addition, he cites some alarming statistics presented by Alyssa Dver, executive director of the Boston-based Center to Prevent Lost Children, on the location and number of kids who go missing each year. Some of those vital statistics include:

  1. 90% of families will momentarily lose track of a child in a public place.
  2. Tens of thousands of children go missing for some period of time each year.

Six years ago, Ms. Dver launched Wander Wear clip-on tags for kids, upon which the parent’s cellphone number can be written. It is her belief that too many parents rely on monitoring devices more than they should. Another important statistic from the organization’s website is, that 40 children go missing each every second in the United States. That means 2,100 children go missing each day.

Mr. Burris presents a comprehensive overview of the safety options available to parents today, with “devices can add a measure of security, but can’t replace parental supervision.” He cautions that despite all the new low- and high- tech devices on the market today, there is still no substitute for direct eye contact and the use of common sense to keep your child safe.