Infant Immunization Week 2019

baby receiving a vaccine

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is observed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other various public health organizations. The week-long event that is observed once each year is dedicated to reminding parents, caregivers and healthcare professionals just how important and life-saving infant immunizations can be. Infant vaccines are safe, effective and save lives.

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Infant Immunization Week has been a focus since 1994. Since then, there are now 14 vaccine preventable diseases which infants should receive before the age of two. These immunizations have significantly reduced the rates of death and disability in infants in the U.S. Today, measles is making a frightening comeback, with 555 confirmed cases in 20 states – 180 in Rockland County, NY alone. In 2014, 667 cases in 27 states was the last highest number recorded since measles was eliminated in the year 2000. This outbreak is proof that even when we believe a disease is a thing of the past, it can come back and often times does because of those who are not vaccinated.

List of Recommended Immunizations

  1. Diphtheria
  2. Haemophilus Influenzae Type B
  3. Hepatitis A
  4. Hepatitis B
  5. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  6. Influenza (Flu)
  7. Measles
  8. Meningococcal Infections
  9. Mumps
  10. Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
  11. Pneumococcal Infections
  12. Polio
  13. Rotavirus
  14. Rubella (German Measles)
  15. Tetanus
  16. Varicella (Chicken Pox)

The Numbers

Not only does the above list save thousands of lives, but immunizations save money too. In just one birth cohort that receives the recommended immunizations, about 381 million illnesses are prevented. This number is absolutely staggering and equates to a total net savings of $360 billion dollars in direct costs and over $1.5 trillion in total costs from society.

We understand not everyone can afford immunizations for their child, but there is a solution. With a simple call to 800-CDC-INFO, parents and caregivers will be able to locate a healthcare facility that provides immunizations through Vaccines for Children, a federally funded program. It is important to also note that there is no scientific evidence to suggest a link between vaccines and an increased risk of autism.

Source:

Healthy Children

Managing Medication at School

Child Medication & School - Hudson Valley, NY

It is important to properly manage the medications your child needs while in school. There are a few important things to keep in mind to make sure everything is covered, from transporting, storing, administering and identification. Here is what you need to know:

What to Do:

  1. First, the best way to keep your child’s at-home and in-school medications organized is by having the physician or pharmacist divide the medication in half. Have one bottle to keep at home and the other to bring to school. Doing this will decrease any possible confusion and will also allow the bottles to be properly labeled. Medication in school must be in its original bottle with proper labels; no medicine should be given to the school in an envelope or baggie.
  1. Another thing to keep in mind that may seem obvious is that all medication needs to have a written authorization from the doctor, as well as the parent, giving consent to the school to administer the medication (vitamins included). Be sure to contact the school about any forms that must be filled out to document consent. By doing this, instructions on how often the medication is given, the dosage, and how it should be administered are shared.
  1. Next, make sure that the medication is transported and handed to the school by the parent/guardian. Unless the child is responsible enough to do this on their own, all medication should go from the parent directly to the nurse’s office. During school hours, children should not be carrying the medication around unless told to do so by their pediatrician.
  1. Once in the hands of the school, you the parent, should have no worries. School personnel receive special training on how to take care of and administer medication. In the case where the medication expires or is unused, it will be returned to the parent/ guardian. For special events like field trips, either consult with your child’s doctor to see if the medication can be taken at another time, or confirm with the school that the medication will be taken on the trip.

Source:

Healthy Children

Protection Against Measles In Children

Protecting Children Against Measles - Hudson Valley, NY

A measles vaccination can be life-saving. Though measles is not all that common, outbreaks can occur and when they do, it is important your child is vaccinated. Recently, measles broke out in New York amongst unvaccinated children. Measles was once a common part of growing up as a child and most children were able to recover without any trouble. Unfortunately for some children, there were more serious consequences such as pneumonia, encephalitis and even death in some cases.

The Vaccine

The measles vaccine has been widely successful in controlling outbreaks and protecting children from the disease. The vaccine is a very safe vaccination for your child to receive twice in their life, once around the age of one and again around five years old, which is the recommended time period that children should receive the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though no vaccine has a 100% prevention rate, after receiving the second recommended dose, the protection rate jumps to 95%.

Highly Contagious

The measles disease is a virus that is easily spread by air. It can take a simple sneeze or cough by an infected person for it to travel and infect another person. A healthy individual having direct contact with fluids from the mouth and nose of an infected person is another way for the virus to be transmitted.

Do What’s Best

With the recent backlash of parents not supporting vaccinations for their kids, measles outbreaks are becoming all too frequent. The more unvaccinated individuals there are, the greater the risk of a measles outbreak. Though measles is not as widespread as it once was, it is still a problem in many countries abroad. With that in mind, the measles virus can be brought to the U.S. at any time through traveling and flying. For infants under twelve months and other individuals who are medically unable to receive the MMR vaccination, they are at a greater risk of becoming exposed and infected.

Source:

Healthy Children

Flu Dangers to Healthy Children

Infant Immunizations

Each year, healthy kids die from flu-related complications. Many of these deaths are preventable by vaccine, and the statistics attributed with flu deaths are staggering. The flu season of 2017-2018 was one of the worst in recent memory with 181 children falling victim to the virus. This is a dramatic increase from 94 children in 2015-2016.

The official cutoff date for flu season reporting is during the week ending the 29th of September, and already, a child has passed away in 2018. We don’t share this to scare you, but to encourage you to have your child vaccinated with the flu vaccine every year.

In 2013, it was reported that 43% of the children who died from flu-related complications between October 2004-September 2012 were otherwise healthy and did not suffer from chronic, high-risk conditions such as asthma, diabetes, certain types of cancer, congenital heart defects or neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy or epilepsy. Each of these conditions pose a higher risk of flu-related fatality.

Flu Prevention

If your child is 6 months of age or older, please talk to your pediatrician about the vaccine. You could be saving your child’s life, or the life of another by stopping the spread of disease. Be sure to wash hands with soap and water regularly throughout the day and keep kids home from school who have a fever.

Sources:

Flu View

Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

USA Today: Even healthy kids can die from flu complications

115 People Die Every Day from Opioid Abuse

The abuse, misuse, and dependency of opioids continue to represent a significant problem in the United States. Every day, approximately 115 people die from opioid overdose, and the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that overdoses rose 30 percent between July 2016 and September 2017.  The FDA is seeking to address this epidemic by reviewing their policies, particularly around pediatric opioid labeling.

The FDA approved OxyContin for use in children 11 years of age and older in 2015. While this gives physicians additional options in chronic pain management, it may also provide additional opportunities for teens who wish to experiment with pain medication.  Parents should maintain possession of the drugs to prevent misuse and should not adjust their child’s dosage without consulting their doctor.

Statistics

Though the prescription of opioids for children can cause issues such as dependency and ultimately addiction, parents should also be aware of what’s in their own medicine cabinet. Children and teens often find unused pills that seem harmless to experiment with. According to the CDC, 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused opioid medication.

The epidemic is worsening and becoming more fatal as time passes even though prescriptions for painkillers are becoming more infrequent. Opioid addiction affects our families, neighbors, coworkers and friends. In the United States today, 2 million people are addicted to opioids. In 2017, 49,068 people died as the result of an opioid overdose.

What Drugs Are Abused?

  • Oxycodone is the active pain-relieving ingredient in drugs like OxyContin and Percocet. This drug is typically taken in pill form.
  • Hydrocodone is the active pain-relieving ingredient in drugs like Vicodin and Zohydro. This drug is typically taken in pill form.
  • Codeine is prescribed to relieve cough and pain symptoms. This drug is typically taken in syrup form.
  • Morphine is taken intravenously to relieve pain.
  • Fentanyl (pronounced fent-an-all) is used in drugs like Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora and Sublimaze. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine, and drugs like heroin are sometimes laced with fentanyl powder. Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin which makes it incredibly dangerous.
  • Heroin is a highly dangerous recreational drug that is typically injected but can also be smoked or snorted.

Overdose

An overdose is a life-threatening situation. Someone who is overdosing has a low pulse, shallow, slow breathing, and their skin is either cool and sweaty or hot and dry. The person is either unconscious or losing consciousness and vomiting. Check the scene for hypodermic needles or pill cases nearby. If you see someone who you believe is having an overdose as a result of opioids, the overdose can be reversed with the medication naloxone, otherwise known by its brand name Narcan. This medicine is not dangerous if administered to someone who is not actually having an overdose, so having it on hand could be lifesaving. Contact your local police department about naloxone trainings and how you can obtain this medicine.

Important notes on naloxone:

  • If you believe someone is having an overdose, first call 9-1-1.
  • Administer the nasal spray – if you believe the nasal spray is ineffective, administering another dose will not hurt them.
  • Be aware that someone coming out of an overdose may be aggressive. Naloxone causes immediate withdrawal, so it is important to ensure your own safety as you monitor theirs, until paramedics arrive.

 

Local resources:

Preventing Substance Abuse in Dutchess County

Substance Use Prevention and Recovery in Ulster County

Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Council of Orange County

 

Sources:

Healthy Children

Opioid Overdose Crisis

Overdose Death Rates

When to Keep Your Child Home from School

It inevitably happens at some point in the year; your child wakes up with a sore throat and runny nose and pleads with you to stay home from school. What do you do? You don’t want to risk getting other children sick, but you also don’t want to let them get in a habit of staying home with every case of the sniffles. Here are guidelines to follow when determining whether or not to keep your child home from school:

Do they have a fever?

When in doubt, check your child’s fever. Whether they are complaining about a stomachache or a sore throat, a fever will help you identify how severe their illness may be. In general, your child should be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school in order to limit the spread of germs.

Will they be productive?

If it seems that your child would be completely unable to focus due to a cough or cold, they would likely be better staying home than attending school. When children are sick, they may be too busy blowing their noses to pay attention to what their teacher is saying. They can always catch up on schoolwork when they return.

Are they able to eat breakfast?

If your child is experiencing symptoms of a stomach bug, wait to see if they are able to keep breakfast down before sending them off to school. This will help you determine if their unsettled stomach is due to food poisoning or another condition. Take their temperature and bring your child to their pediatrician if symptoms persist.

Are they frequently asking to stay home?

Sometimes, children can start exhibiting school-avoidance behavior. School avoidance and school refusal occur when your child experiences anxiety at the idea of attending school. They may tell you they have a stomachache or headache, which can be physical manifestations of this behavior. Talk to them about why they do not want to attend school, and if appropriate, seek advice from school administrators, a mental health professional, or your child’s pediatrician.

When your child is home from school, make sure they are drinking enough water and getting rest. Encourage frequent hand washing both at home and once they are back in school. If your child is on antibiotics for an ear infection, strep, eye infection or other similar bacterial infections, make sure they have the medicine in their system for at least 24 hours before returning to school.

Health Screenings at School

In New York State, the law requires public schools to routinely check for hearing, scoliosis, and vision. These exams are completed by licensed health professionals and are in place to catch problems early before they can develop. Although these screenings will not provide you with an official diagnosis, they are in place to identify issues that your child may have.

Often, children do not even know they have issues identified during these tests. Your child may not realize the whiteboard is slightly blurry or that their hearing is impaired. This is why these standard screenings are so important. Scoliosis is a condition that can worsen over time, and should be treated as soon as a note is sent home.

It is important to contact your pediatrician if your child comes home with results that require medical attention. Your pediatrician can get you the help you need to ensure your child’s education is not impacted by these conditions. Always keep checkups scheduled yearly to catch these types of problems. Scoliosis is not tested as early on in school, but your pediatrician can catch it if your child develops it early.

To see sample letters that your child may receive after one of these health screenings, visit the New York State Center for School Health for more information.

Bioengineered Foods and Allergies

These days, it’s especially important to know what is in our food and how it’s made or grown. Reading labels, asking questions and staying informed are the best ways to feel secure about what you and your family are consuming.

Food that is bioengineered is a little more difficult to track since it may or may not be labeled. Though the practice of bioengineering food is ancient, cross-breeding of various plants and vegetables produce foods that can resist certain insects, create seedless fruits, have a certain taste or texture, and so much more. On the other side, bioengineering also can cause irritations, allergies, and reactions when foods are cross-bred with peanuts, wheat, or other allergy-prone foods. Not knowing what was done on a molecular level before the food was grown makes it hard or impossible for those with serious food allergies to avoid them. One misstep can trigger a reaction with a devastating effect.

Some of the most bioengineered foods are:

  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Soy
  • Apples

…just to name a few. These are all edible, of course, but the controversy is alive and well, with many people concerned about the side effects and interfering with Mother Nature.

The FDA (Federal Department of Agriculture) uses its power to remove any foods that are deemed unhealthy for the American public and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) is commissioned to track all foods, including bioengineered foods. Both entities have declared that bioengineered food is safe for public consumption, but neither has addressed the allergy issues.

Early Signs of Autism

Autism

There are certain milestones that children typically hit which are a good indicator that things are going as they should be. How a child responds to a parent or caretaker increases as they grow from an infant to a toddler and beyond. As a parent, you have instincts and a pretty clear understanding of your child’s habits and abilities, so when something feels off, it’s time to do a little investigating.

Checking off the milestone list of what your child should be able to do by certain ages is a great way to see if there is any discrepancy in what most children are able to do at their age.  There are exceptions – for example, in multi-lingual homes it’s not unusual for a child’s speech to be slightly delayed because they are processing more than one language at a time. When that’s not the case, or when other indicators suggest there could be an issue, staying calm and getting informed is your best plan of action.

As difficult as it is to even suspect that your child could be autistic, it is best to be honest about their abilities and habits, and to discuss any changes in their behavior with your pediatrician. But how do you know if there is really something wrong as opposed to a natural delay in their growth? Here are some indicators that may be cause for concern:

Children with Autism have a difficult time:

  • Showing empathy
  • Engaging with others
  • Communicating with people, including parents and siblings
  • Making friends or playing with others
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Pointing out things or acknowledging things being pointed out to them
  • Responding to facial expressions, such as returning a smile

Children with autism also tend to take comfort in routines and repetition, for example, they may like to rock or sway their bodies, flap their hands, or walk on their toes. They also prefer to keep the same routine throughout their day and a disruption in it can make them physically and emotionally agitated.

If your child is diagnosed with autism, you are not alone and you will get through this. Work closely with your doctor to gather information, resources, and find out about available therapy and treatments. This is the time to lean on your family and close friends for support to adjust to your family’s new needs and impending challenges. Together you will get through it, and with the help of support groups and charities, you will see that you are far from alone.