Frankfurters Cut the Wrong Way Can be Choking Hazard for Kids

Amy Haneline wrote . . . . . . . . .

Summer is already filled with enough hazards to stress out parents — we’re looking at you, open water and fireworks.

But what about your kids’ plates?

Summer is peak hotdog season. Considering 150 million franks are consumed on the Fourth of July in the United States alone, there is a strong chance they will be on the menu many a weekend.

So, now is a good time for a reminder that hotdogs can be serious choking hazards, said Dr. Tanya Altmann, author of Baby & Toddler Basics.

The size, shape and texture of hotdogs make them especially dangerous for young children, so the pediatrician is here to explain everything parents should know before handing a kid a dog.

“Hotdogs are long and round and when (young children) bite off a piece of it, it really looks kind of like a thick quarter and that is the perfect size to get lodged into a child’s throat,” Altmann said.

Any food that is “large, round and solid” can be a potential choking hazard, Altmann said.

That’s why hotdogs often rank at the top of lists of foods to avoid giving young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that hotdogs should be kept away from children younger than four years old.

Other potentially dangerous foods include whole grapes, hard or sticky candy, chunks of meat or cheese and popcorn.

Choking incidents among kids

In a 2013 study of choking incidents among young children, the AAP reported “choking is a leading cause of injury among children, and can sometimes be fatal.”

Researchers investigated non-fatal food-choking-related emergencydepartment visits among children ages zero to 14 years from 2001 to 2009. On average, 12,400 children (or 34 per day) were treated for a choking incident.

Hard candy caused most choking episodes (15 per cent), followed by other candy (13 per cent), meat other than hotdogs (12 per cent) and bones (12 per cent). Hotdogs accounted for 2.6 per cent of the cases.

At what age can a child eat a hotdog?

Parents can start introducing solid foods (except raw honey, which can harbour bacteria that causes foodborne illness in infants) to babies around six months of age, Altmann said. Parents should consider both the nutritional value and safety of a food when choosing their baby’s diet.

“If you wanted to mash up a hotdog into puréed or bite-sized pieces, theoretically you could feed it to an older infant or toddler, but I would argue it may not be nutritionally the best choice,” she said.

Cut hotdogs lengthwise first

All foods for babies and young children should be cut into one-centimetre or smaller pieces, the AAP recommends. However, cylindrical-shaped foods require extra care.

Thus, hotdogs should be cut lengthwise into strips first and then cut again into smaller pieces. The same goes for other common choking hazards such as grapes, cherries and cherry tomatoes.

For older kids who want to eat a hotdog while holding it, Altmann says parents could still cut the dog in half longways to help reduce choking risk.

When can parents stop cutting hotdogs for kids?

Usually around age four is when the choking risk is reduced because children are a little more aware, their throats are a little bit bigger and they are able to handle things that need to be chewed a little more before they swallow them, Altmann said.

What to do in a choking situation

“Make sure the child is really choking,” Altmann said. If a child is coughing or talking, there’s a chance the child can push the food out on his or her own.

But look for the following signs of a choking child: being unable to breathe; gasping or wheezing; unable to talk; turning blue; grasping at their throat; waving their arms; appearing panicked; and going limp or unconscious.

If a child is choking, call 911 and start a rescue procedure such as back-blows for infants or the Heimlich manoeuvre for older kids.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

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Belgian Doctors Said Parents Who Raise Children as Vegans Should be Prosecuted

James Crisp wrote . . . . . . . .

Doctors in Belgium have called for parents who raise their children as vegans to face prosecution after a number of deaths in schools, nurseries and hospitals.

It is estimated that 3 percent of Belgian children are forced to follow the strict diet, which rules out any animal products, including dairy and eggs.

The Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium published a legal opinion on Thursday, which could influence future court judgments and is the first time a health authority has taken a position on veganism in the country.

The opinion said it was unethical to subject children to the diet because it didn’t include animal proteins and vital amino acids which can help growth and prevent health problems.

The vegan diet could only be made safe for growing children if complemented with medical supervision, regular blood tests and vitamin supplements, which most parents were not qualified to provide.

“We must explain to the parents before compelling them,” said Professor Georges Casimir, who led the commission that wrote the report, “but we can no longer tolerate this endangerment.”

“This restrictive regime requires ongoing monitoring of children to avoid deficiencies and often irreversible growth delays,” the legal opinion said, “It is unsuitable for unborn children, children, teenagers and pregnant and lactating women.”

“It is not medically recommended and even forbidden to subject a child, especially during periods of rapid growth, to a potentially destabilising diet, requiring frequent supplementation and control,” it said.

“This concept of nutrition is similar to a form of treatment that it is not ethical to impose on children.”

The opinion was published after a request by Bernard Devos, a regional government official responsible for children’s rights and protection in Brussels and the French-speaking region of Wallonia.

Mr Devos asked for the opinion after children suffered health complications, including a number of deaths, in schools, nurseries and hospitals, Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper reported.

It would make it easier for him to enforce the separation of a child from parents who insisted the youngster followed the restrictive diet.

Professor Casimir warned that such a strict regime would now legally qualify as “non-assistance to a person in danger”, a crime which carries a sentence of up to two years and fines in Belgium.

A person cannot be convicted of the 1961 offence if he is unaware the person is in danger but the legal opinion now made it common knowledge that a vegan diet can kill, he told Le Soir.

The pediatrician said, “When we are children, the body manufactures brain cells. This implies higher requirements for protein and essential fatty acids. The body does not produce them, it must be brought in via animal proteins.

“We are talking here about stunted growth and psychomotor delays, undernutrition, significant anemia. Some developments must be done at a specific time in life and if they are not done, it is irreversible.”

Dawn Carr, of PETA, said, “What a load of ignorant codswallop! NHS nutritionists confirm that while a meat- and dairy-based diet is what strikes people down in adulthood – as it can lead to hardened arteries that cause stroke, brain aneurysms, and heart attacks – a well-planned vegan diet is perfect for babies and children.

“Kids, including my own, thrive on a balanced vegan diet, but as with any dietary regime, it’s the parent’s responsibility to ensure their child is getting all the necessary nutrients. And yes, that’s easier to achieve on a vibrant vegan diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and pulses.”

Heather Russell, dietitian at The Vegan Society, said: “Nutritional planning is important for everyone, not just vegans. It’s possible to provide all the nutrients needed for growth and development without animal products.”

“Both the British Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognise that well-planned vegan diets can support healthy living in people of all ages, including infants, children, teenagers and pregnant and breastfeeding women,” she added.

In 2017, in Beveren, Belgium a couple were sentenced to a suspended six month sentence after their seven-month-old baby died of malnutrition and dehydration.

The infant’s death was blamed by doctors on the parents’ choice to only feed it vegetable milk.

A survey published last year found that 44 percent of Belgians had cut their meat consumption, despite the country’s fondness for Flemish beef stew and frites cooked in beef, horse or goose fat. 16 percent of Belgians said they eat mostly vegetarian.

The trend mirrors that seen across Europe, as concerns over climate change and animal welfare grow.

Source: The Telegraph

Pediatricians Want Parents to Stop Giving Toddlers Digital Toys

Lisa Rapaport wrote . . . . . . . . .

All those interactive digital toys and mobile apps designed for little kids are exactly the type of gifts parents should take off their holiday shopping lists, U.S. pediatricians say.

That’s because just like parking kids in front of the television, giving them tablets and smartphones to play games or handing them digitally enhanced toys gets in the way of creative play and interactions with caregivers that are essential for child development, according to a clinical report released on Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

“Physical toys (and books) support warm, verbally rich interactions and quality time for the parent or caregiver and the child,” said report co-author Dr. Alan Mendelsohn of New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City.

“The same is not true for digital toys, which actually impede those interactions,” Mendelsohn said by email. “There is little or no evidence that screen time has any benefit for young children 2 and under.”

Under 2 years of age, children shouldn’t have any screen time at all, whether it’s television or digital games and toys, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Too often, however, parents give infants and toddlers digital apps and toys out of a mistaken belief that this can be educational, Mendelsohn and colleagues note in their report, published in Pediatrics.

One of the most important purposes of play during childhood – especially for infants and toddlers – has nothing to do with ABCs or 123s. The point of play for very young children should to foster warm, supportive interactions with caregivers and help kids develop early social, emotional and behavioral skills, the doctors say.

When digital apps and toys do help children with optimal development, it’s usually because they’re using the toys with parents and caregivers, they note. When kids play alone, however, there’s no clear advantage to having smartphones, tablets or digital interactive toys.

Ideally, parents should choose toys that are not overstimulating and encourage children to use their imaginations.

Social, emotional and behavioral skills are developed and enhanced when kids use play to work out real-life problems, doctors note.

Source: Reuters


Today’s Comic

Glyphosate in Roundup Weed Killer Found in Oat Cereal and Granola Bars

See large image . . . . .

Source: EWG, from tests by Eurofin Analytical Laboratories

*EWG’s child-protective health benchmark for daily exposure to glyphosate in food is 160 ppb.

** ND = none detected

*** Two product samples tested both had 20 ppb glyphosate concentration.

**** Lucky Charms Frosted Toasted Oat Cereal with Marshmallows. Marshmallows were manually removed from the samples prior to shipping to the lab and testing for glyphosate.


Popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison in Roundup, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG.

Glyphosate, an herbicide linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization, was found in all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats. Almost three-fourths of those samples had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety. About one-third of 16 samples made with organically grown oats also had glyphosate, all at levels well below EWG’s health benchmark.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the Monsanto weed killer that is the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S. Last week, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, which he says was caused by his repeated exposure to large quantities of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers while working as a school groundskeeper.

EWG tested more than a dozen brands of oat-based foods to give Americans information about dietary exposures that government regulators are keeping secret. In April, internal emails obtained by the nonprofit US Right to Know revealed that the Food and Drug Administration has been testing food for glyphosate for two years and has found “a fair amount,” but the FDA has not released its findings.

Read more at Environmental Working Group. . . . . .

Too Much Screen Time May Harm Children’s Vision

As children spend more time tethered to screens, there is increasing concern about potential harm to their visual development. Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – are seeing a marked increase in children with dry eye and eye strain from too much screen time. But does digital eyestrain cause lasting damage? Should your child use reading glasses or computer glasses? As you send your kids back to school this month for more time with screens and books, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is arming parents with the facts, so they can make informed choices about their children’s eye health.

It’s a fact that there is a world-wide epidemic of myopia, also known as nearsightedness. Since 1971, the incidence of nearsightedness in the US nearly doubled, to 42 percent. In Asia, up to 90 percent of teenagers and adults are nearsighted. Clearly, something is going on. But scientists can’t agree on exactly what.

A new study appearing in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, offers further evidence that at least part of the worldwide increase in nearsightedness has to do with near work activities; not just screens but also traditional books. And, that spending time outdoors—especially in early childhood—can slow the progression of nearsightedness. It remains unclear whether the rise in nearsightedness is due to focusing on phones all the time, or to light interacting with our circadian rhythms to influence eye growth, or none of the above.

While scientists look for a definitive answer, there is no doubt that most computer users experience digital eyestrain. Kids are no different from adults when it comes to digital eyestrain. They can experience dry eye, eye strain, headaches, and blurry vision, too. While symptoms are typically temporary, they may be frequent and persistent.

But this doesn’t mean they need a prescription for computer glasses or that they have developed an eye condition of middle-age that requires reading glasses, as some suggest. It also doesn’t mean that blue light coming from computer screens is damaging their eyes. It means they need to take more frequent breaks. This is because we don’t blink as often while using computers and other digital devices. Extended reading, writing or other intensive near work can also cause eye strain. Ophthalmologists recommend taking a 20 second break from near work every 20 minutes.

Here are 10 tips to help protect your child’s eyes from computer eyestrain:

  • Set a kitchen timer or a smart device timer to remind them.
  • Alternate reading an e-book with a real book and encourage kids to look up and out the window every two chapters.
  • After completing a level in a video game, look out the window for 20 seconds.
  • Pre-mark books with a paperclip every few chapters to remind your child to look up. On an e-book, use the “bookmark” function for the same effect.
  • Avoid using a computer outside or in brightly lit areas, as the glare on the screen can create strain.
  • Adjust the brightness and contrast of your computer screen so that it feels comfortable to you.
  • Use good posture when using a computer and when reading.
  • Encourage your child to hold digital media farther away, 18 to 24 inches is ideal.
  • Create a distraction that causes your child to look up every now and then.
  • Remind them to blink when watching a screen.

“I prefer to teach kids better habits, instead of supplying them a crutch like reading glasses to enable them to consume even more media,” said K. David Epley, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “If you run too far and your legs start hurting, you stop. Likewise, if you’ve been reading too long or watching videos too long, and your eyes start hurting, you should stop.”

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology