Parents, Forget Cool! Get Your Kids the Boring Safety Pads

The holiday season is upon us and all the little boys and girls have made their lists and are hoping for that new toy they have been dying for. Some kids are hoping for video games, some kids are hoping for dolls, and some are hoping for bikes and skateboards. While the video games and dolls can be exciting, it is the bikes, skateboards, and other moving toys that need our attention. While there is nothing that equals the smile on a child’s face when they learn to ride alone and get the hang of their new toy, there is also nothing like seeing them in the E.R with a broken bone or worse a head injury.

Every year thousands of children are sent to the hospital with bumps, bruises, broken bones and head injuries from falls off of bikes, skateboards and even scooters. The old saying is true, helmets save lives. With the CDC findings that helmets can prevent 85% of head injuries, elbow pads 82% of elbow injuries and knee pads, 32% of knee injuries – and having been on more than one call where a helmet did its job and took the hit – there is no reason not to include this in your holiday shopping. I know it is not cool, and I know that there are very few children out there wishing that they will get that new set of safety pads this year, but it may be being uncool that saves our kids from serious injuries with their new toys.

As always, please make sure that your children know how to properly ride whatever toy they have and please make sure that all the safety equipment like safety pads and helmets are the proper size and allow your children to properly and safely enjoy their new toys.

I hope you all have a Happy Holidays with exciting toys and boring safety stuff.

Special Sensory Friendly Screening of The Nutcracker TOMORROW

Fathom Events and the Autism Society of America are delighted to bring a first-of-its-kind sensory friendly cinema event featuring the Bolshoi Ballet’s timeless holiday classic, The Nutcracker, to select cinemas on Monday. December 19.

sensory friendlyIn this special cinema presentation theatergoers are encouraged to be themselves. The lights will be turned up, and the sound turned down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing!

On Christmas Eve, Marie’s wooden nutcracker doll transforms into a beautiful prince who takes her on a magical journey. Before they leave, they must confront the Mouse King whose army is threatening Marie…

Christmas would not be complete without the enchanting tale of young Marie and her Nutcracker prince! Danced by the Bolshoi’s principals, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s fairytale staged by Russian ballet master Yuri Grigorovich will transport children and adults alike to a world of magic and wonder for the holiday season.

The screening begins at 6pm local time and runs for approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. Participating theaters and online tickets can be found at the Fathom website here. If you cannot purchase tickets online, they can be purchased at a participating cinema box office.

Couch Kid: 6 Easy Ways to Motivate an Inactive Child

Has your child, who is sitting on the couch in the next room, ever used his cell phone to text you to bring him a snack?

Hopefully, you can answer this with a laugh and a simple no. Unfortunately, for our family, this is a reality we stared in the face a few weeks ago. It was a normal day, we had just returned home from school and our boys immediately found their designated spots on the couch and resumed their gaming. Within minutes, I received the infamous text asking for their snack. Unfortunately, the issue of couch potato children isn’t an isolated problem we are noticing in only our household.

In fact, as a nation we are noticing a rise in child obesity and inactivity. To put this into perspective, it is believed that only one out of three children are engaging in some form of physical activity on a daily basis. If this path should continue, experts warn that by 2030 half of all American adults will be obese. While these are hard numbers to digest, we need to look at the fact that today’s average kid spends over seven hours everyday parked in front of a screen of some kind.

6 Surefire Tips For Getting Children Off The Couch

Whether it is a computer, Smartphone, or television, our sons and daughters are spending more and more time seated on the couch looking at their devices. This can present many problems for parents, but a major one is our children’s health and well-being. We obviously know that exercise or active play is good for a developing body’s muscles, bones, and coordination. However, getting our children pried away from their favorite technology can be difficult.

Undoubtedly, we probably will hear whining, pouting, crying, and an occasional slamming door when we bring up the subject of powering down to get up and moving.

Listed below are 6 ways to motivate our most obstinate inactive children:

1. Bridge technology with physical activity. Appeal to a child’s love of gaming by trying to hunt for Pokemon in your neighborhood or tapping into their inner adventurist by giving geocaching a try. If a child is competitive, try using a fitness tracker to count steps and make it a competition.

2. Let children “earn” their couch time. If a child completes certain chores, walks the dog, or shoots hoops for an allotted amount of time, allow them to be paid in screen time. For example, if a child walks the dog for one hour, he can earn 15 minutes of television or gaming. Adjust the reward to fit your schedule and family values.

3. Get hooping. If a kid balks at the idea of traditional exercises like running, little leagues, or push-ups, seek out activities that are exciting and engaging. Embrace fun and introduce the entire family to hula hooping. Hula hooping is different and will offer countless opportunities for children to develop new skills without knowing that they are actually exercising. Teach them the traditional hip movements, but expand to use their necks, arms, and legs. For added fun, encourage children to roll the hoops across the floor and put their arm inside or their foot in while the hoops are rolling. The possibilities are endless and will help restless children burn off a little “cabin fever”.

4. Look for community programs to try. Sign up children or the family for a sports league, buy a season pass to the local swimming pool, or register for an activity program (hiking, bird watching, kayaking, sledding, snowshoeing, etc.) at the nearest nature recreational park. Many cities and towns are now offering a variety free or low cost opportunities for children and their families to promote physical activity. Plus, these opportunities offer a social aspect for children and might peak their interest in a future hobby or career.

5. Get crafty. Arts and crafts offer our kids the perfect opportunities to get off the couch. Tap into the frozen winter wonderland for inspiration and the kids won’t even miss sitting on the couch. Try adding food coloring or Koolaid packets to water in spray bottles and let kids graffiti the snow for a fun winter afternoon activity. You can also fill balloons with colored water and freeze them outside. When the orbs are frozen, remove the outer shell to expose colorful balls or frozen marbles to decorate the yard.

6. Play. It sounds simple, but encourage children to play. Think back to your favorite youthful pastimes and introduce them to your sons or daughters. Teach them how to fly a kite, construct the perfect snow fort, go ice fishing, try ice skating, build the perfect snowman, or assemble an amazing fort inside. Channel your inner child and join in on the fun to seek precious opportunities for bonding with your kids.

Looking Forward

Motivating inactive children can be daunting, but with a little effort and enthusiasm we can get our children up and moving. After all, we want the best for our kids and know in the long run that increasing physical activity can drastically cut their odds of developing a variety of health conditions. If we make one or two adjustments to our child’s habits today, we can improve their outlook for tomorrow.

What techniques do you have for motivating children?

Study: Sibling Bullying Linked to Depression as Adult

“Being bullied regularly by a sibling could put children at risk of depression when they are older,” BBC News reports.

A new UK study followed children from birth to early adulthood. Analysis of more than 3,000 children found those who reported frequent sibling bullying at age 12 were about twice as likely to report high levels of depressive symptoms at age 18.

sibling bullying linked to depressionThe children who reported sibling bullying were also more likely to be experiencing a range of challenging situations, such as being bullied by peers, maltreated by an adult, and exposed to domestic violence. While the researchers did take these factors into account, they and other factors could still be having an impact. This means it is not possible to say for certain that frequent sibling bullying is directly causing later mental health problems. However, the results do suggest that it could be a contributor.

As the authors suggest, interventions to target sibling bullying, potentially as part of a programme targeting the whole family, should be assessed to see if they can reduce the likelihood of later psychological problems.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Oxford and other universities in the UK. The ongoing cohort study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol, and the researchers also received support from the Jacobs Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics. The article has been published on an open-access basis so it is available for free online.

This study was well reported by BBC News, which reported the percentage of children in each group (those who had been bullied and those who had not) who developed high levels of depression or anxiety. This helps people to get an idea of how common these things actually were, rather than just saying by how many times the risk is increased.

What kind of research was this?

This was a prospective cohort study that assessed whether children who experienced bullying by their siblings were more likely to develop mental health problems in their early adulthood. The researchers say that other studies have found bullying by peers to be associated with increased risk of mental health problems, but the effect of sibling bullying has not been assessed.

A cohort study is the best way to look at this type of question, as it would clearly not be ethical for children to be exposed to bullying in a randomised way. A cohort study allows researchers to measure the exposure (sibling bullying) before the outcome (mental health problems) has occurred. If the exposure and outcome are measured at the same time (as in a cross sectional study) then researchers can’t tell if the exposure could be contributing to the outcome or vice versa.

What did the research involve?

The researchers were analysing data from children taking part in the ongoing Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. The children reported on sibling bullying at age 12, and were then assessed for mental health problems when they were 18 years old. The researchers then analysed whether those who experienced sibling bullying were more at risk of mental health problems.

The cohort study recruited 14,541 women living in Avon who were due to give birth between 1991 and 1992. The researchers collected information from the women, and followed them and their children over time, assessing them at intervals.

When the children were aged 12 years they were sent a questionnaire including questions on sibling bullying, which was described as “when a brother or sister tries to upset you by saying nasty and hurtful things, or completely ignores you from their group of friends, hits, kicks, pushes or shoves you around, tells lies or makes up false rumours about you”. The children were asked whether they had been bullied by their sibling at home in the last six months, how often, what type of bullying and at what age it started.

When the children reached 18 they completed a standardised computerised questionnaire asking about symptoms of depression and anxiety. They were then categorised as having depression or not and any form of anxiety or not, based on the criteria in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10). The teenagers were also asked whether they had self-harmed in the past year, and how often.

The researchers also used data on other factors that could affect risk of mental health problems, collected when the children were eight years of age or younger (potential confounders), including any emotional or behaviour problems at age seven, the children’s self-reported depressive symptoms at age 10, and a range of family characteristics. They took these factors into account in their analyses.

What were the basic results?

A total of 3,452 children completed both the questionnaires about sibling bullying and mental health problems. Just over half of the children (52.4%) reported never being bullied by a sibling, just over a tenth (11.4%) reported being bullied several times a week, and the remainder (36.1%) reported being bullied but less frequently. The bullying was mainly name calling (23.1%), being made fun of (15.4%), or physical bullying such as shoving (12.7%).

Children reporting bullying by a sibling were more likely to:

  • Be girls
  • To report frequent bullying by peers
  • To have an older brother
  • To have three or more siblings
  • To have parents from a lower social class
  • To have a mother who experienced depression during pregnancy
  • To be exposed to domestic violence or mistreatment by an adult
  • To have more emotional and behavioural problems at age seven

At 18 years of age, those who reported frequent bullying (several times a week) by a sibling at age 12 were more likely to experience mental health problems than those reporting no bullying:

  • 12.3% of the bullied children had clinically significant depression symptoms compared with 6.4% of those who were not bullied
  • 16.0% experienced anxiety compared with 9.3%
  • 14.1% had self-harmed in the past year compared with 7.6%

After taking into account potential confounders, frequent sibling bullying was associated with increased risk of clinically significant depression symptoms (odds ratio (OR) 1.85, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.11 to 3.09) and increased risk of self-harm (OR 2.26, 95% CI 1.40 to 3.66). The link with anxiety did not reach statistical significance after adjusting for potential confounders.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that “being bullied by a sibling is a potential risk factor for depression and self-harm in early adulthood”. They suggest that interventions to address this should be designed and tested.


The current study suggests that frequent sibling bullying at age 12 is associated with depressive symptoms and self-harm at age 18. The study’s strengths include the fact that it collected data prospectively using standard questionnaires, and followed children up over a long period. It was also a large study, although a lot of children did not complete all of the questionnaires.

The study does have limitations, which include:

  • As with all studies of this type, the main limitation is that although the study did take into account some other factors that could affect the risk of mental health problems, they and other factors could still be having an effect.
  • The study included only one assessment of bullying, at age 12. Patterns of bullying may have changed over time, and a single assessment might miss some children exposed to bullying.
  • Bullying was only assessed by the children themselves. Also collecting parental reports, or those of other siblings, might offer some confirmation of reports of bullying. However, bullying may not always take place when others are present.
  • The depression assessments were by computerised questionnaire, this is not equivalent to a formal diagnosis of having depression or anxiety after a full assessment by a mental health professional, but does indicate the level of symptoms a person is experiencing.
  • A large number of the original recruited children did not end up completing the questionnaires assessed in the current study (more than 10,000 of the 14,000+ babies starting the study). This could affect the results if certain types of children were more likely to drop out of the study (e.g. those with more sibling bullying). However, the children who dropped out after age 12 did not differ in their sibling bullying levels to those who stayed in the study, and analyses using estimates of their data did not have a large effect on results. Therefore the researchers considered that this loss to follow-up did not appear to be affecting their analyses.

While it is not possible to say for certain that frequent sibling bullying is directly causing later mental health problems, the study does suggest that it could be a contributor. It is also clear that the children experiencing such sibling bullying are also more likely to be experiencing a range of challenging situations, such as being bullied by peers, maltreated by an adult, and exposed to domestic violence.

As the authors say, the findings suggest that interventions to target sibling bullying, potentially as part of a programme targeting the whole family, should be assessed to see if they can reduce the likelihood of later psychological problems.

Read more about bullying, how to spot the signs and what to do if you suspect your child is being bullied (or is a bully themselves).

Analysis by
Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter. Join the Healthy Evidence forum.


“Being bullied regularly by a sibling could put children at risk of depression when they are older,” BBC News reports. A new UK study followed children from birth to early adulthood. Analysis of more than 3,000 children found.

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Child Health & Safety News: Wk 49 “Wrong Food Allergy Tests Used”

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: Reminder: Winter coats compromise child car seat safety!

Welcome 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 and Facebook 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 not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Many doctors use wrong test to diagnose kids’ food allergies

Understanding Asthma and How to Overcome Its Challenges

According to the charity Asthma UK, one in five households has someone living with asthma.

understanding asthmaNobody knows for sure what causes asthma, but we do know you’re more likely to develop it if you have a family history of asthma, eczema or other allergies. You’re twice as likely to develop asthma if your parents have it.

Modern lifestyles, such as housing and diet, also may have contributed to the rise in asthma over the last 30 years.

Every 10 seconds someone has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack, and the latest data shows that deaths from asthma are on the rise again.

What Causes Asthma?

There are many theories about what’s caused the increase in the number of people with asthma.

One of the most popular is the “hygiene hypothesis”. According to this theory, asthma is more common in western societies. Because western society is becoming cleaner, we have less exposure to allergens and pathogens.

When a person with asthma comes into contact with a “trigger”, their airways become irritated. The muscles tighten, the airways narrow, and the lining of the airways gets inflamed and swollen.

The main symptoms are chest “wheeze” or noisy breathing, chest tightness and breathlessness. You may also develop a cough, particularly at night, but this is more common in children.

Boys under the age of two are more susceptible to asthma because their airways are narrower when they’re younger. But they usually grow out of it, whereas girls are more likely to have asthma beyond puberty.

Obesity is also thought to make asthma more likely. Symptoms often get better when the person loses weight.

Find out more in Are we too clean for our own good?

Smoking and Asthma

Smoking also has a definite impact. Parents’ cigarette smoke will affect their child’s lung function development, and it irritates the airways. People with asthma are advised not to smoke.

Research shows that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of your child developing asthma. Children whose parents smoke are also more likely to develop the condition.

Once you have asthma, high levels of pollution and smoking may make it worse. But there’s no proof that these triggers actually cause it.

Asthma Treatment

How to Help Yourself/Your Child

If certain things trigger your asthma, such as dust mites, minimise your exposure to them. Put mattress covers on your bed, use a damp cloth when you dust, don’t have too many soft furnishings in your house, and put down laminate or wooden flooring instead of carpets.

Asthma Triggers

Asthma triggers include pets, but studies show that getting rid of animals doesn’t improve asthma. In fact, the emotional upset of getting rid of your pet may make your asthma worse. Keep your exposure to pets to a minimum in areas such as the bedroom, and consider not getting any new pets.

Asthma Medicines

If you have symptoms more than three times a week and you need to use a reliever inhaler (usually blue), you should also use a preventer inhaler (usually brown).

But if you only have symptoms a few times a week when exercising, you can manage your symptoms safely with a reliever inhaler before you exercise.

Asthma is an inflammatory disease. This means preventative treatment is vital, and you must take it even when your asthma symptoms aren’t present. This will ensure your asthma is well controlled.

Review your treatment with your asthma nurse or GP (*family doctor) at least once a year as you might be able to reduce your dosage of medicine.

Find out more information about asthma treatments.

Taking Steroids When You Have Asthma

Because asthma is caused by an inflammation of the airways, anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids are sometimes used to treat it.

You may be concerned about the potential side effects of steroids, such as weight gain, stunted growth (in children) and weakened bones.

The risk of side effects if you or your child are using a steroid inhaler is lower than with steroid tablets because less of the medicine gets into your system. With both steroid inhalers and tablets, the risk of side effects increases if the dose is high and if you use them for long periods.

Generally, if inhaled steroids are prescribed carefully and at the lowest dose needed, the risk of side effects is outweighed by the ability to reduce your or your child’s need for steroid tablets. Discuss the risks of steroid treatment with your doctor if you’re concerned.

If you have queries about any aspect of asthma, you can call the Asthma UK helpline, which is a free telephone helpline staffed by asthma nurse specialists on 0800 121 62 44, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Find asthma services in your area. (*UK)

Asthma Resources in the US:

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.