Does Your Child Have a Sleep Disorder?

In the land of NodIt’s not just about being drowsy during the day. Hyperactivity, poor grades, and social problems are all potential consequences of a childhood sleep disorder. According to a University of Arizona study conducted this year, kids with sleep apnea are six times more likely to have behavioral problems, and seven times more likely to have learning disabilities. The good news? Sleeping disorders are highly treatable. Here’s how to spot the signs in your child.

1. Insomnia

The inability to fall and/or stay asleep is the most common of all pediatric sleeping disorders, affecting about 25 percent of all children, says Dr. Rosenberg.

Signs: Daytime fatigue/napping, inability to get up on time, and moodiness are all signs of this sleep disorder. “After they finally do get out of bed,” explains Rosenberg, “kids have a tough time getting themselves going.”

Next steps: The first step is improving your child’s sleep hygiene, or habits that can help their circadian cycle. For toddlers and preschoolers, a set bedtime and wake-up time, along with a bedtime routine like a bath and story, is key. For older kids, the problem is often technology use right before — and often in — bed. Light, including from electronics, suppresses melatonin, the sleep hormone. Pull the plug (literally, if you must) on computers, tablets, and Smartphones two hours before bed.

For all ages, nix caffeine (including sneaky sources like some clear sodas, sports drinks, vitamin-infused beverages, and chocolate) six hours pre-bed.

It seems logical that tiring a kid out will encourage sleep. Actually, the opposite can be true. Tag, sport practices, even rousing Wii games within two hours of bedtime raise the core body temperature and make it harder to nod off.

If none of the above seem to help, a call to the pediatrician is a must.

2. Sleep Apnea

If your child is suffering from sleep apnea, she may stop breathing periodically during sleep. This disorder is more common in younger children than teenagers, peaking between the ages of 2 and 8.

Signs: Younger sufferers are often hyperactive, which can be mistaken for ADHD. Other signs include snoring, bedwetting after age six, and frequent sleepwalking, notes Rosenberg. In adolescents, look for unexplained grogginess. Other signs include an inability to pay attention in school and forgetfulness.

Next steps: An overnight sleep study, usually performed at a hospital-run facility, will diagnose sleeping disorders like sleep apnea. Not to worry: you’ll sleep there with your child, and the rooms are usually quite comfortable. If the diagnosis is confirmed, you’ll discuss solutions – like removal of your child’s tonsils and/or adenoids, or nightly use of a CPAP machine. There are no shortcuts, though. “You have to have a sleep study first before any insurer will pay for a CPAP machine,” notes Rosenberg.

3. Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

This sleep disorder affects a child’s circadian rhythm, the natural cycle that regulates sleep patterns.

Signs: Children have a hard time getting up, staying awake in school, and actively participating in social events.

Next steps: If you suspect delayed sleep phase syndrome, start keeping a sleep diary. Write down when your child falls asleep and wakes up, including any middle of the night rousings. Also note any problematic episodes, such as a teacher report that your child nodded off in class. After doing this for at least two weeks, take the information to your pediatrician, who will diagnosis the sleep disorder based on your child’s medical history and your notes.

If it’s your child is diagnosed with delayed sleep phase syndrome, treatment typically includes bright light exposure in the morning and keeping the child’s bedroom completely dark at night. “Stick to a strict bedtime/wake-up schedule, and don’t vary it on days off from school,” instructs Rosenberg. You may want to consider a melatonin supplement at bedtime for delayed sleep phase syndrome, but check with your pediatrician first.

Sleeping disorders or not, there are a few simple steps that can help the whole family get a more refreshing night’s sleep. Cool is better than warm in bedrooms: 65 to 70 F is ideal, says Rosenberg. Avoid strong, unpleasant odors — that means no late-night painting projects for you, and no manicures in bed for your tween daughter. Lastly, there’s anecdotal evidence that the scent of lavender encourages sleep. Sweet dreams!

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 08-19-2013 to 08-25-2013

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 30 events & stories.

PedSafe Top Headline of the Week:

The ABCs of birth marks – how to identify the small minority of marks that could cause problems over time

PedSafe Headline of the Week #2:

Parents Be Aware – Teens are anonymously posting cruel remarks about themselves on social media as a form of digital self-harming Very scary!

ADHD, Interceptive Orthodontics and Children

Essential Sleep Habits for KidsEverybody knows the importance of sleep, even more so when it comes to the development of your child. Studies as recent as July of this year show that almost one third of the pediatric population suffers from some type of sleep related problem. Restlessness, bedwetting, sleep apnea, and tooth grinding are examples. If left untreated, these poor sleeping patterns can have a negative impact on the development of your child and may lead to behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, anxiety, and moodiness. In fact a recent study completed in Finland in 2009 showed that short sleep was associated with higher readings for ADHD and inattention.

So how can a dental appliance that was initially designed to just straighten teeth also promote better sleeping patterns? Enter Ortho-tain, a company who manufactures two interceptive orthodontic/orthopedic appliances: Nite-Guide and Occlus-O-Guide. While both appliances are used to help straighten teeth, they also help promote the downward and outward growth and development of the upper and lower jaw. In doing so the protrusion of the lower jaw promotes airway expansion allowing for a better quality of sleep. A lot of the sleeping problems mentioned earlier are associated with the poor delivery of oxygen. By expanding the child’s airway, more oxygen is delivered and a healthier sleep pattern is established. Additionally, both devices are worn at nighttime and promote nasal breathing by forming a seal at the opening of the mouth. This helps eliminate tooth grinding and reduce snoring habits in the child allowing for a healthier sleep.

What about the teeth straightening?

Outside of the benefits related to sleeping in children, both devices also provide an excellent course of treatment for many forms of malocclusion in children. When it comes to teeth straightening, many parents do not consider orthodontic treatment for their kids until they reach adolescence, typically around 12 years old. That means starting treatment when the teeth are already in a crowded position, so then the child will have to go to full metal braces to correct the problem. Early orthodontic treatment, between ages 5 and 7, has been shown to easily and effectively prevent future, more painful orthodontic problems. This may allow your child to avoid discomfort and embarrassment because of traditional braces.

Interceptive orthodontics is the definition we give to diagnose a condition in a young child,orthotain appliance from the age of about 5 to 10, where there is going to become an orthodontic problem. By interceding, or intercepting, this potential problem, we can ensure that there will be enough room needed for the permanent teeth to come through and position themselves correctly. Clinical studies show that early childhood orthodontic treatment greatly reduces the need for fixed orthodontic treatment (aka metal braces) or TMJ therapy later in life.

Must-See Texting and Driving Video Tells Stories from the Heart

Texting while DrivingIf you and your older children haven’t yet seen the new texting and driving documentary, “From One Second to the Next,” you really should. While, at 35 minutes, it may be a bit long for kids to want to sit through, the searing emotional stories told from the perspective of victims and their families – and even from those whose text messages caused the loss of life – make this a unique and riveting film.

Made by acclaimed director, Werner Herzog, who – according to IMDb – was voted the 35th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly, this film tells the story of four disturbing and horrific accidents through the people who were impacted or involved, including even the police who responded to the scenes, rather than resorting to visual displays of the tragic accidents. The result is still sometimes difficult to watch, but probably more impactful in the end. You can access the full documentary and also shorter clips via YouTube – and your children may end up seeing it at school as the corporate cell phone sponsors are making 40,000 copies available to government agencies, schools and safety organizations.

The National Safety Council estimates that 100,000 car crashes annually are related to texting and driving, while cell phone conversations are implicated in 12 times as many accidents. This documentary is a potent message about the need to remain “distraction-free” while driving – one which both teens and parents need to hear.

5 Germ Hot Spots You Need to Clean for Family Health

Clean those germ hot spotsHome is where the heart is – not to mention the dirt, dust, bacteria and mold. “Most people clean what they can see, but there’s a lot more to cleaning a home than just wiping down your bureau,” says Richard Symes of Clenz Philly, an eco-friendly home and commercial cleaning service in New Jersey and Philadelphia. The payoff to a more thorough clean: better air quality, fewer allergy symptoms, a house you can show off to your guests, and best of all, peace of mind.

Here are five germ hot spots you’re probably missing when you clean, and the most powerful tools to add to your cleaning arsenal today.

Germ Hot Spot No. 1: Your Front Door

According to Symes, 85 percent of the germs and dirt in your house come in through the front door. Keep them out! Double-team them by placing a doormat outside your door and in your house. Shuffle your feet on the mat before you enter, then remove your shoes once inside.

Germ Hot Spot No. 2: Corners, Cracks and Creases

First, steel yourself. Then, look high — in ceiling corners, on top of shades, blinds and picture frames, and on the blades of ceiling fans — and you’ll find neglected dust. Next, look low — under baseboards, under furniture and in the corners of kitchens and bathrooms — and you’ll probably see colonies of dust bunnies and layers of dirt and grime. Don’t let them continue to thrive. Do a top-to-bottom house cleaning every other week (more frequently if you have kids and pets, especially shedders).

Germ Hot Spot No. 3: Beds and Furniture

Millions of microorganisms live in your mattress. Their dead cells and feces (you read right) are the No. 1 cause of allergies in a home, says Symes. Get your bed and pillows steam-cleaned once a year to sterilize your sleeping environment; wash sheets once a week and duvet covers once a month. Get your couches and upholstery professionally cleaned every six months to a year too. And don’t forget your curtains: wash or dry-clean them every few months. In between, lay them on the floor and vacuum lightly or do a couple of passes with a lint brush or lint roller.

Germ Hot Spot No. 4: Showerheads

Potentially disease-causing germs can get trapped in showerheads and grow into biofilm, a layer of slime that delivers a bacteria blast along with your hot water. Clean the showerhead with a wire brush every week and replace it every year to prevent germy buildup.

Germ Hot Spot No. 5: Sponges and Dishtowels

Moisture and bits of food on clingy surfaces make these common kitchen items a dangerous source of E. coli, salmonella and other virulent bacteria, not to mention yeasts and molds. Rinse sponges after every cleaning with soap and water, and disinfect them once or twice weekly by zapping them in the microwave for 60 seconds. Wash all towels weekly to avoid mold spores.

Cleaning Tools You Need

You don’t have to break your back struggling to reach corners or spend days cleaning. These tools will help you get the job done faster – and get better results:

  • Grout brush: It gives you access to areas that a sponge or cloth can’t reach — corners, under baseboards and around window locks. Just spray with household cleaner, brush and wipe.
  • Steam machine: High-pressure steam naturally disinfects and cleans tile surfaces. It works by flushing the dirt out rather than packing it in.
  • Microfiber cloths: They’re made with loops that act like tiny claws, gripping and holding dust — not kicking it back into the air like cotton cloths do. You don’t even need to spray!
  • Vacuum with HEPA filter: Unlike standard vacuum bags, which are fine for collecting small chunks of stuff, HEPA filters suck up dust, retaining 99.9 percent of the small particles they encounter.
  • Air Freshener: An air freshener that eliminates cooking, pet and other household odors instead of masking them can transform your house from seeming lived-in to feeling brand-new. To find this type of product, look for the ingredient cyclodextrin. Then finish your cleaning by spraying down rooms, breathe deep and say hello to the fresh scents of spring at anytime!

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 08-12-2013 to 08-18-2013

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 events & stories.

PedSafe Headline of the Week:

New method for diagnosing children’s lung conditions
Amazing possibilities for future early-diagnosis of respiratory diseases