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Does Having Young Children Really Build Your Immune System?

Does Having Young Children Really Build Your Immune System?

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but many moms and dads believe that having a young child or two around the house boosts their immune system.  It’s easy to see why this idea has some popular appeal.  After all, young children typically have lots of contact with other young children, often in environments where lots of germs can be spread. They then bring these same germs home, where parents’ immune systems need to fight them off over a sustained period of time. The thinking goes that this, in turn, helps make parents more resistant to them.

But what does the science actually say about this? Although there is at least one strong study and a lot of related or anecdotal evidence that suggests that the idea may be sound, more research needs to be done to see if this theory is valid.

The “strong study” is from Norway, and was published in the journal Science & Medicine. It’s important to note that the study did not specifically evaluate the immune response of parents and non-parents. Rather, this particular research was aimed at understanding the relationship between parenthood and overall health. The investigators looked into detailed medical records of more than 1.5 million men and women born between 1935 and 1968, and found that there was a strong negative correlation between being a parent and the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, becoming an alcoholic, and even dying in a car crash. The study found that the people most at risk of dying from any of these causes were those who were childless. The researchers theorized that this may be because the individuals felt less of a need to take care of their health.

Fascinatingly, the study also found that the positive health benefits or parenthood seemed to depend on the numberof children. Having only one child or having more than three children actually slightly increased the risk of dying from any of these factors, whereas having two children was “just right.” As researcher Emily Grundy of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, says: “Four-plus children might have adverse effects arising from stress, socio-economic disadvantages and lifestyles, off-setting, or even outweighing, social benefits of parenthood.”

In terms of other evidence, the strongest suggestions that having children might strengthen their parent’s immune system come from related studies that have consistently shown that having pets in the home strengthens and builds the children’s immune systems and helps to keep them healthy. For example, a 2012 study from the journal Pediatricsshowed that children who lived with dogs and cats during the first year of life tended to be significantly healthier than those who did not. The researchers theorized that the pets exposed children to a wide variety of “good germs,” some of which are beneficial for developing immunity to the “bad germs.” We may be able to infer that parents might also benefit from being exposed to a variety of germs, both from the pets and from their own children, as children pick them up at school and bring them home.

There is certainly anecdotal evidence of the latter to be found in the “common wisdom” imparted to people becoming new kindergarten and elementary school teachers. When one woman started teaching in California, her school board warned her that she should probably plan her finances for the first year of teaching based on being out sick more than her allotted number of “sick days,” and thus not being paid for them. The woman, who had always been remarkably healthy, laughed at this advice, but then spent 25% of her first year at home sick, because of all the germs she picked up from kids in the classroom.

However, this same schoolteacher rarely ever got sick again. Her exposure to a wide variety of germs transmitted by the kids did seem to boost her immune system over time, and enhanced her ability to be exposed to them in the future without getting sick herself. We can possibly infer that the same thing happens with small children in the home—they pick up germs at school and bring them home where the parents are exposed to them. This exposure then buildsimmunity over time rather than diminishing it. Dr. Jordan S. Orange, chief of immunology, allergy and rheumatology at Texas Children’s Hospital explains the simple mechanics of this “early exposure” process this way: “When you get it [immunity], you have it. So, if you get it earlier, you’re going to be immune earlier.”

Related studies have indicated that many people feel happier when they have kids. If this is actually true, then their positive mental state can also certainly contribute to staying healthy. Besides, as all parents know, there are so many other joys associated with having kids that even if there aren’t a huge number of studies proving that they keep parents healthier, they’ll feel healthier.

Playground Safety Checklist: Basic Design and Maintenance

Playground Safety Checklist: Basic Design and Maintenance

If you’re a parent, you may have noticed that hard asphalt and sharp edges are on their way out at playgrounds around the country. In large part, these changes are due to concerns over injuries and law suits. Over 200,000 children in the US are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for playground-related injuries. That’s a lot of opportunity for enterprising attorneys, especially in cases where parents or guardians lack health insurance.  

Accident and litigation concerns aside, it is important for children to get outside in the fresh air and exercise. This is particularly true considering the increasing rate of childhood obesity. Playgrounds can be ideal areas for kids to socialize while getting the exercise they need. By checking the playground for safety hazards and following some simple guidelines, there is no reason why your kids can’t take advantage of all a playground has to offer. 

The most important element to playground safety is adult supervision. Kids need to be supervised whenever they are using playground equipment so an adult can intervene when a child is not using the equipment properly or is acting in a dangerous fashion. Kids like to test their limits, and sometimes young children cannot properly judge distances and may try something that is likely to cause injury. 

The playground surface is important in reducing the number of injuries from falls. Asphalt and concrete are obvious surfaces to avoid, but so are grass and packed soil surfaces. None of these are able to cushion a child’s fall appropriately. Instead, look for playgrounds that have safety-tested rubber surfacing mats or areas of loose fill 12 inches deep made from wood chips, shredded rubber, mulch, sand or pea gravel. The cushioned surfacing should extend at least 6 feet from any equipment, and sometime farther, depending on the particular piece of equipment (such as a high slide or a long swing). 

Children should always play in areas of the playground that are age-appropriate. Playgrounds should have three different clearly designated areas for different age ranges of children: those younger than 2 years old, children 2 to 5, and children 5 to 12 years of age. Children under 2 should have spaces where they can crawl, stand and walk, and can safely explore. Kids age 2-5 should use equipment such as low platforms reached by ramps and ladders, flexible spring rockers, sand areas and low slides no higher than 4 feet. Kids age 5 to 12 can use rope climbers, horizontal bars, swings and slides, in addition to having open spaces to run around and play ball. 

Following are a few basic guidelines to ensure playground equipment safety: 

  • Seesaws, swings and any equipment with moving parts should be located separately from the rest of the playground. 
  • There should be no openings on equipment between 3.5 inches and 9 inches where parts of a child’s body may become trapped (such as rungs on a ladder). 
  • The top of a slide should have no open areas where strings on clothing can get caught and cause strangulation. 
  • There should be only two swings per bay, and should be placed 24 inches apart and 30 inches from any support. 
  • Equipment should not be cracked, splintered or rusty, and hardware should be secure. 
  • Sandboxes should be checked for loose debris such as broken glass and sharp sticks and should be covered overnight to prevent animals soiling it. 
Why Teens Shouldn’t Rely on Painkillers

Why Teens Shouldn’t Rely on Painkillers

It seems as if you can’t check the news without finding at least one story of a life being lost to drugs. What is perhaps most concerning is that, all too often, the person who succumbed tragically for drug-related reasons is fairly young. And, a study released in the journal Addiction found that opioids — or narcotic painkillers like Vicadin, oxycodone, codeine, and morphine — are largely to blame.

The study shows that there were almost 6,000 opioid-related deaths in Onatario, Canada alone,  between 1991 to the end in 2010.  That represented a 242% increase from the beginning of the study. Overall, 25-34 year olds accounted for one in eight deaths. But it’s not just Ontario that has this problem: The CDC says that opioid-related deaths have more than tripled in the US since 1990, and younger patients aren’t immune.

What Is Causing This Trend?

Certainly, the issue of drug use is multi-faceted and cannot be isolated to just one cause, but it would be remiss to not consider that one possible contributor is the rise in the number of prescriptions being given to our youth. For instance, a previous study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health highlights the fact that out of 8,000 adolescents who sought medical treatment for headaches, opioid prescriptions were given approximately 46% of the time. That’s not the worst of it.

In 48% of the cases, the teens who presented with head-related pain were given two different opioids to manage their pain and 29% of the adolescents got three prescriptions or more. Rather than prescribe these highly-addictive painkillers, why not treat teens with a drug-free solution first?

Chiropractic is a great natural remedy for headache,  back, neck, and leg pain, amongst the several other benefits it offers. Not only does it actually take care of the problem, but it also reduces exposure to drugs at an early age.

References

Gomes T, et al. The burden of premature opioid-related mortality. Addiction. July 7, 2014.

DeVries A, et al. Opioid Use Among Adolescent Patients Treated for Headache. Journal of Adolescent Health. February 26, 2014.

 

Unhealthy Lifestyle Linked to Headaches in Teens

Unhealthy Lifestyle Linked to Headaches in Teens

Most teens experience headaches at some point and many will suffer the debilitating impact of persistent headaches or migraines. Chronic headaches can prevent teens from engaging fully in school, work, and extracurricular activities. Yet little was known about what triggers headaches in teens until now.

A recent study indicated several lifestyle habits associated with migraine and tension headaches in teens. Researchers asked 1, 260 adolescents to fill out a survey on whether they had headaches and if so, the duration and type of headaches they experienced. Participants also responded to questions about their diet and lifestyle including:  their physical activity, consumption of alcoholic, nonalcoholic, and coffee beverages, eating patterns, and whether they smoked.

Nearly half of the teen surveyed had tension headaches, 10% had migraines, and 20% had a combination of the two.  A considerable amount of participants had unhealthy lifestyle habits like drinking, alcohol and skipping meals. However, 75% had never smoked and 43% didn’t drink coffee.

Researchers found that teens were more likely have migraines if they also drank alcohol, coffee, and/or had low levels of activity. Low physical activity was also associated with tension headaches. Teens that smoked were more likely to have a combination of tension and migraine headaches.

While the study indicates correlation rather than causation, the results do suggest strong links between unhealthy lifestyle and the presence of persistent headaches in adolescents. Researches recommended that further research be done to asses whether educational programs could influence teens’ behavior and experience with headaches. If you’re a teen with persistent headaches or someone you love is, consider consulting with a doctor of chiropractic about healthy lifestyle and nutritional choices that can prevent further pain.

Special Note: One of the best things you can do for headaches is see your chiropractor. Be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Oblander if you or your child are having frequent headaches! You can call our office at 406-652-3553.

Fiore, Kristina. “Diet and Lifestyle Linked to Headaches in Teens.” Medpage Today. June 7, 2010. Accessed October 26, 2011. http://www.medpagetoday.com/Neurology/Migraines/20521.

Milde-Busch A, et al “Associations of diet and lifestyle with headache in high-school students: results from a cross-sectional study” Headache 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2010.01706.x.

Article written by Michael Melton and shared from www.chironexus.net

The Opioid Crisis’ Latest Victims: Addicted Babies

The Opioid Crisis’ Latest Victims: Addicted Babies

(NU) – And now the nation’s opioid crisis is putting newborn babies at risk.
The use of prescription painkillers like OxyContin by women during pregnancy has resulted in what’s being called “an explosion” of infants as addicted to the drugs as their mothers. Newly published data in JAMA Pediatrics shows the number of cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) has risen five-fold in the U.S. from 2000 to 2012 – that’s nearly 22,000 affected inf ants in that last year alone – and the reality behind those stats is heart-wrenching. “The babies, they really suffer,
just like adults do when they withdraw from narcotics,” Dr. Terrie Inder, chair of pediatric new born medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told CBS News. “The babies are very irritable and sometimes have high heart rates, sweating, flushing, diarrhea. They cry a lot.”

Heightening experts’ concern: The crucial early “bonding” between mother and child is disrupted, given the babies’ average hospital stay of 24 days. The mothers, often unaware of the potential collateral damage from the painkillers they’ve been taking, experience what Inder calls “anxiety and guilt.”

Back and neck discomfort is especially common during pregnancy since women’s postural changes can result in spine and pelvic pain.

The open question is whether this latest development, combined with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s call last year for physicians to dramatically curtail prescribing opioids will encourage more women to seek alternatives like drug-free chiropractic care. “All chiropractors are trained to work with women who are pregnant,”, The American Pregnancy Association says, lauding their expertise in “establishing pelvic balance and alignment.”

If you are expecting a baby or know someone who is, Dr. Oblander is well-trained in taking care of women during their pregnancies. Be sure to take good care of yourself and give our office a call if you experience back or hip pain during your pregnancy!

(Article shared from News USA)

What Is Immunotherapy and How Can It Help with Food Allergies?

What Is Immunotherapy and How Can It Help with Food Allergies?

young-parents-feeding-child

Food allergies affect over 15 million Americans, including 1 in every 13 children under the age of 18. The symptoms of these allergic reactions can range from minor (e.g., itching, swelling of the lips, intestinal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting) to major or even life-threatening (e.g., development of hives and rashes, tightening of the throat to the point of being unable to breathe, significant drops in blood pressure).

Having such an allergy—or being the parent of a child with such an allergy—can impose unwelcome lifestyle limitations and cause a great deal of anxiety. At present, there is no known cure for serious food allergies that works for everyone. This means that the best approach for the time being is to completely avoid the food product to which you or your child has an allergic reaction. However, this is not always practical or possible to do. That’s why the majority of “treatments” currently available focus on managing the symptoms after an attack has taken place. For instance, individuals with serious food allergies may carry an auto-injector filled with epinephrine (adrenaline) with them at all times, just in case.

Naturally, because of the seriousness and the prevalence of food allergies, a great deal of research is being conducted on treatments to desensitize individuals to the foods they are allergic to. This may effectively “cure” the allergy for some sufferers. One of the fields that shows promise is the study of immunotherapy (more precisely, low-dose immunotherapy), in which extremely small amounts of the allergen are administered to allergy sufferers over time. The basic idea behind the experimental treatment is that the body will develop a tolerance to these low doses and that the allergic reaction will gradually cease.

The first work in immunotherapy was undertaken in the 1960s in England by Dr. S. Popper, who was trying to cure allergic reactions to pollen by injecting patients with low doses of the allergen in combination with the enzyme beta-glucuronidase in an approach called “enzyme potentiated desensitization” (EPD). While the then-experimental treatment showed early success, its use in the U.S. was suspended by the FDA for administrative reasons in 2001. However, follow-up work continued and an enhanced American version of the EPD injection called Low Dose Allergens (LDA) was later introduced.

The obvious drawback of this type of therapy is that the doses have to be injected by a physician. It is also necessary for patients to avoid outside exposure to larger doses of the allergens and to many medications while the treatment is underway. However, other researchers have continued to study desensitization via immunotherapy with the goal of finding other mechanisms of administering the low-dose allergens, such as oral medications, sublingual (under the tongue) medications, and others.

Some of the most promising work in this field is being performed at Stanford University School of Medicine by Kari Nadeau, Associate Professor of Allergies and Immunology. Nadeau is working with children afflicted with peanut allergies. Her approach is to give them minute doses of the peanut allergen and gradually escalate the doses over a period of months in the hope of them eventually developing immunity. Up to this point, Nadeau’s technique has produced positive results for many patients, but it does appear to have limitations. First, the therapy doesn’t seem to offer a permanent “cure”. Patients must continue to take low doses of the peanut allergens or risk losing their immunity. If they stop for more than a few days, the allergies can come back. Second, the treatment itself is time-consuming and often expensive.

While the jury is still out on immunotherapy, the concept shows promise. However, progressing from concept to proven treatment is clearly going to take much more work. As it stands today, some immunotherapy approaches work for some patients but don’t work for others. Plus, there are questions about how long immunity actually lasts and whether it must be maintained or periodically boosted. This is clearly a very important consideration since patients could run the risk of unknowingly losing immunity and coming into contact with the allergen, allowing it to trigger an unexpected—and potentially serious—attack.

So if you suffer from food allergies and are looking for a way to diminish them, the best advice we can offer at this time is to continue following the research and to consult with your own healthcare providers about the potential benefits and risks in your own case. If you do decide to pursue immunotherapy, be sure that it is being administered and overseen by well-trained medical professionals who can monitor progress and watch for side effects.

 

Second Impact Syndrome Explained

Second Impact Syndrome Explained

The Mayo Clinic describes second impact syndrome (SIS) as a complication arising from a concussion. It occurs when someone experiences a second concussion prior to fully recovering from the initial one. With SIS, “typically fatal brain swelling” occurs. R.C. Schneider first described this condition in 1973, but it wasn’t until 1984 that someone gave it the name, “second impact syndrome”. The condition is rare enough that only 21 cases had been cited in the literature up until 2003.

When a concussion takes place, the levels of various chemicals in the brain are changed. This altered state is believed to contribute to a person’s susceptibility to second impact syndrome. Because it normally takes approximately one week for the chemical levels in the brain to return to normal after a concussion, the patient should wait at least this long before returning to any activity that might result in another concussion. But one week is a minimum. The time it takes to recovery fully from a concussion is highly variable and depends on both the nature of the injury and the patient involved. For this reason, it is vitally important that athletes not return to sports while symptoms of a concussion persist and that they receive clearance from an appropriately trained healthcare professional before resuming any sort of risky activity.

NHL star Sidney Crosby learned a lot about concussions first-hand. While playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in January 2011, he received a concussion. He suffered from a second one only four days later. It took him 11 months to fully recover. Crosby said, “With concussions there is not generally a time frame or a span where you’re feeling better. You feel like you’re getting better and it can be one day and you’re back to where you started. It’s a frustrating injury.” It wasn’t until he was treated by chiropractic clinical neurologist, Ted Carrick, DC, that Crosby recovered from all his symptoms.

Even the mildest of concussions can lead to second impact syndrome, because it’s not the strength of the impact that is the greatest danger. An impact of any force while the brain is still recovering can result in the catastrophic swelling attributed to the syndrome.

Most cases attributed to SIS occur in those who are not yet fully grown. Children and adolescents are thought to be the most susceptible with adolescent athletes at greatest risk for second impact syndrome.

Some researchers have recently raised questions about whether or not SIS actually exists. In their own analysis, they concluded that a majority of cases they examined did not actually meet the diagnostic criteria for SIS. They also found that in some cases the reports of first impact were incorrect or unreliable. While their findings have led to some controversy in the medical community, it should be pointed out that no one has disproven the existence of the syndrome.

Whatever the controversy, it’s difficult to argue against prevention and an abundance of caution given the potential dangers associated with concussions (and multiple concussions). If you’re an athlete, the first step is to wear appropriate safety equipment for the sport you’re playing. For certain activities (such as football, baseball and cycling), a helmet is essential. On-field awareness and proper technique can also go a long way toward preventing head injuries. However, it’s important for players, parents and coaches to recognize that even helmets, good supervision and expert training are no guarantee against initial concussions. They are a risk that can be managed but never wholly eliminated.

When it comes to preventing subsequent concussions, though, there are three additional steps many communities have taken to protect young athletes:

  • Requiring responsible adults to receive concussion-awareness training so that they can recognize the signs of a potential concussion.
  • Requiring officials, coaches and managers to remove injured players from the field when a concussion is suspected.
  • Requiring the approval of an appropriately trained healthcare professional before allowing any athlete with a suspected/actual concussion to return to sports-related activities.
Playground Safety Checklist: Basic Design and Maintenance

Playground Safety Checklist: Basic Design and Maintenance

IS078-019

If you’re a parent, you may have noticed that hard asphalt and sharp edges are on their way out at playgrounds around the country. In large part, these changes are due to concerns over injuries and law suits. Over 200,000 children in the US are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for playground-related injuries. That’s a lot of opportunity for enterprising attorneys, especially in cases where parents or guardians lack health insurance.

Accident and litigation concerns aside, it is important for children to get outside in the fresh air and exercise. This is particularly true considering the increasing rate of childhood obesity. Playgrounds can be ideal areas for kids to socialize while getting the exercise they need. By checking the playground for safety hazards and following some simple guidelines, there is no reason why your kids can’t take advantage of all a playground has to offer.

The most important element to playground safety is adult supervision. Kids need to be supervised whenever they are using playground equipment so an adult can intervene when a child is not using the equipment properly or is acting in a dangerous fashion. Kids like to test their limits, and sometimes young children cannot properly judge distances and may try something that is likely to cause injury.

The playground surface is important in reducing the number of injuries from falls. Asphalt and concrete are obvious surfaces to avoid, but so are grass and packed soil surfaces. None of these are able to cushion a child’s fall appropriately. Instead, look for playgrounds that have safety-tested rubber surfacing mats or areas of loose fill 12 inches deep made from wood chips, shredded rubber, mulch, sand or pea gravel. The cushioned surfacing should extend at least 6 feet from any equipment, and sometime farther, depending on the particular piece of equipment (such as a high slide or a long swing).

Children should always play in areas of the playground that are age-appropriate. Playgrounds should have three different clearly designated areas for different age ranges of children: those younger than 2 years old, children 2 to 5, and children 5 to 12 years of age. Children under 2 should have spaces where they can crawl, stand and walk, and can safely explore. Kids age 2-5 should use equipment such as low platforms reached by ramps and ladders, flexible spring rockers, sand areas and low slides no higher than 4 feet. Kids age 5 to 12 can use rope climbers, horizontal bars, swings and slides, in addition to having open spaces to run around and play ball.

Following are a few basic guidelines to ensure playground equipment safety:

  • Seesaws, swings and any equipment with moving parts should be located separately from the rest of the playground.
  • There should be no openings on equipment between 3.5 inches and 9 inches where parts of a child’s body may become trapped (such as rungs on a ladder).
  • The top of a slide should have no open areas where strings on clothing can get caught and cause strangulation.
  • There should be only two swings per bay, and should be placed 24 inches apart and 30 inches from any support.
  • Equipment should not be cracked, splintered or rusty, and hardware should be secure.
  • Sandboxes should be checked for loose debris such as broken glass and sharp sticks and should be covered overnight to prevent animals soiling it.
Text Neck and More: How Our Electronic Devices Are Changing Our Posture

Text Neck and More: How Our Electronic Devices Are Changing Our Posture

woman-texting
woman-texting

The last 10 years have seen exceptional innovation in personal electronics. Our smartphones, laptops, and tablets have undoubtedly made it easier to create, consume and share all kinds of content as well as to shop online anywhere and anytime. But they do also have their drawbacks—including negative health consequences. This applies in particular to our posture. The overuse of personal electronic devices is taking a toll on our necks and backs, and this damage could lead to even more serious health issues down the road.

Some medical professionals are calling it the “iPosture Syndrome”. It’s a head-forward posture that many people (teenagers and younger kids included) are developing from hunching over electronic devices for long hours every day. As physiotherapist Carolyn Cassano explains, “If the head shifts in front of the shoulders, as is happening with this posture, the weight of the head increases, and the muscles of the upper back and neck need to work much harder to support it, leading to pain and muscle strain.”

According to CNN, “The average human head weighs 10 pounds in a neutral position—when your ears are over your shoulders. For every inch you tilt your head forward, the pressure on your spine doubles. So if you’re looking at a smartphone in your lap, your neck is holding up what feels like 20 or 30 pounds.” All that additional pressure puts a strain on your spine and can pull it out of alignment.

Also known as “text neck,” this head-forward posture is a fairly new development among younger adults, teenagers and children (some just beginning kindergarten) who are developing chronic neck and back pain as well as early signs of spine curvature. Coined by Dr. Dean Fishman, a chiropractor and founder of the Text Neck Institute in Florida, the phrase “text neck” is defined as an overuse syndrome involving the head, neck and shoulders, usually resulting from excessive strain on the spine from looking forward and downward at a portable electronic device over extended periods of time.

The text neck disorder is unfortunately progressive, meaning that it gets worse over time without treatment. “It can lead to degenerative disk disease which is irreversible, bone spurs start to grow, people get pinched nerves or herniated disks and that can lead to really intense pain,” says chiropractor Dr. Anthony Bang of the Cleveland Clinic.

The doctor explains that the neck should have a banana-like curve. However, people who consistently look down at handheld devices for hours daily are losing that normal curve, thereby developing straight necks. While severe neck problems can result from losing that curve, there are ways to avoid this fate.

“First of all, put it away, it can wait five minutes. Give your neck a break, but if you need to use it, take it and bring it up to eye level so that your head still stays on top of your shoulders instead of stooping down looking at your lap,” said Bang.

CNN also recommends that you “Be aware of your body. Keep your feet flat on the floor, roll your shoulders back and keep your ears directly over them so your head isn’t tilted forward. Use docking stations and wrist guards to support the weight of a mobile device. Buy a headset.”

Now there are even apps to help you with your texting posture. For example, the Text Neck Institute has developed an app that helps the user avoid hunching over. When your phone is held at a healthy viewing angle, a green light shines in the top left corner. When you’re slouching over and at risk for text neck, a red light appears.

 

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