Tag Archives: CDC

Reacting to an autism diagnosis: what’s next?

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How to talk to your pre-teen about the HPV vaccine

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that boys ages 11 or 12 receive the HPV vaccine in a three-dose series, which can be started as early as 9 years old.

Courtesy MCN Healthcare

How do you explain what the HPV vaccine is to a nine-year-old boy?

Well, that’s up to parents to decide.

So you will have your facts straight, however, we asked  Michelle Huddleston, M.D.  a member of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, to explain why the HPV vaccine is on the schedule for pre-teen girls, and now boys, too.

Vaccines are designed to prevent diseases, says Dr. Huddleston, who practices at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. This vaccine is no different.

The HPV vaccine provides protection from certain subtypes of the HPV virus long before boys and young men (and young women) become engaged in any type of sexual activity. 

HPV transmission can happen with any kind of genital contact and intercourse isn’t necessary, adds Dr. Huddleston, who says that many people who have HPV infection are without signs or symptoms and unknowingly pass the virus to their partner.

The HPV vaccine is most effective in the pre-teen age group producing higher antibody levels than in older patients. So, that’s why the vaccine is on the schedule for pre-teen boys and girls.

Talking about the purpose of the vaccine might be a conversation starter for a talk about sex. Dr. Huddleston says that although feeling nervous about broaching the subject with kids is fairly common, she suggests  that as parents,  we should try to consider sexuality a normal topic of conversation.

“Certainly by the time your child starts to exhibit the physical changes of puberty, questions will start to arise,” says Dr. Huddleston. “Be certain to listen, answer honestly and by approachable. You may start the conversation by asking, ‘What do you know about sexuality?’ and see where the conversation leads.

Dr. Huddleston recommends  www.youngwomenshealth.org as a good resource for parents as they prepare to talk to kids about sex.

Another update on the vaccine schedule is the age at which the meningococcal vaccine can be given.

Children as young as 9 months can get the vaccine if they are residents or travelers to countries with epidemic disease or at increased risk of developing meningococcal disease, says the AAP.

Routine immunization with the meningococcal vaccine should begin at 11 through 12 years with a booster dose administered at 16 years of age.

So who is at greatest risk for developing meningococcal disease? And what is it, exactly?

Children who do not have a spleen, have an abnormally functioning spleen or certain immune disorders are at increased risk of developing meningococcal disease, says Dr. Huddleston.

Teenagers are at increased risk of developing meningococcal disease by being in crowded places, living in close quarters, sharing drinking and or eating utensils or having a run-down immune system.

Meningococcal meningitis and septicemia can present with flu-like symptoms and patients can die within 24 hours. 

And, speaking of flu, there’s one more update on the vaccine schedule. 

For children aged 6 months through 8 years, the influenza vaccine should be administered in two doses for those who did not receive at least one dose of the vaccine in 2010-11, says the AAP.

Children who received one dose last season require one dose for the 2011-12 influenza season.

Questions about vaccines or this most recent schedule revision? We list resources below, but any parent who is unsure of what a vaccine is for or when it should be given to a child should check with the child’s health care provider.

More resources on vaccines:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Center for Young Women’s Health

The Arizona Partnership for Immunizations 

American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website

 

 


Expecting? Don’t forget your flu shot

In addition to providing protection to the mother, says Beckee Lucas, RN-C, BSN, nursing manager of labor and delivery at Banner Ironwood Medical Center, the flu vaccine has been shown to provide protection for babies for up to two months after birth.

“Most moms are surprised by that,” says Lucas.

That’s a big plus, says Lucas, especially when a new baby joins a family that may include toddlers and pre-schoolers who are likely to bring home the flu and other viruses.

Since 2004, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee and American College of Obstetrics has recommended women who are pregnant or will be pregnant during influenza season be immunized with the inactivated influenza vaccine.

During pregnancy, women are more likely to become severely ill and have a higher mortality rate due to an increase demand on the body related to pregnancy.

Lucas notes that studies show pregnant women who are immunized are less likely to have babies who are born premature, have respiratory disease, or need to be hospitalized.

The virus in the influenza vaccine is a “killed virus,” says Lucas, which means you cannot get the flu from the vaccine itself. That’s one common misconception about the shot.

People may report mild tenderness at the injection site, and mild fatigue might be present for 1-2 days post injection. That’s because the body begins building antibodies to the inactive virus, says Lucas. “That can make you tired for a day or two.”

The risks of receiving the vaccine are small, with the greatest risk having an allergic reaction to the vaccine itself. Discuss any concerns about the vaccine and influenza during pregnancy with your doctor.

For more information, Lucas recommends the CDC web site.

Flu shot locations

Asthma help from Big Bird, Grover and the Sesame Street Gang

Asthma is the leading chronic illness among children in the United States, according to the American Lung Association.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 7.1 million children, or roughly one in ten, suffer from asthma.

In recent years, the number of children with asthma has been on the rise, especially among minority populations and low-income households, which may be more likely to contain common asthma triggers like mold, mildew, fragrance, dust and animal dander.

UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization that brings children Sesame Street, are launching a child health initiative to help children and their families learn about these health issues and promote positive healthy habits.

Courtesy Sesame Workshop

A is for Asthma offers easy-to-understand materials- such as videos, activity sheets, and a newsletter- to help children and their families manage this condition. The materials  are available in English and Spanish and feature Sesame Street characters such as Grover and Big Bird.

Local support for families living with asthma is available through Cardon Children’s Medical Center. They recently partnered with Banner Pediatric Pulmonary Specialists to arrange events where parents and children can easily access resources and the latest information on how to manage asthma.

Tips for Avoiding Asthma Triggers

  • Keep your home clear of mold and mildew.
  • Routinely check for mold and mildew especially in damp areas, like the bathroom or basement.
  • Use fragrance-free products.
  • Consider getting rid of things that have strong smells, such as perfumes or strong cleaners.
  • Cut down on dust. Dust and dust mites are common asthma triggers. Instead of carpets, use bare wood floors or small area rugs, which can help.
  • Wipe surfaces every day with a damp rag to get rid of dust. Even stuffed toys and security blankets can trap dust and dust mites. Try to keep only two favorite items on your child’s bed, and wash them weekly.
  • Think about keeping fish or reptiles as pets.  Exposure to the animal dander shed by furry and feathered animals can trigger asthma. (Not including, of course, Big Bird or any of the gang from Sesame Street.)

Not too early for flu shots

Summer is barely over but it’s not too early for flu shots. Local provider Cigna Medical Group and Cigna Medical CareToday have received a supply of this season’s vaccine.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, 200,000 Americans are hospitalized and 36,000 Americans die from seasonal flu each year.

Courtesy Cooper University Hospital

This year, only one vaccine will be required for protection against both seasonal and H1N1 influenzas. The CDC recommends that anyone ages 6 months or older get a flu shot.

While there is no guaranteed method to prevent flu, you can reduce the risk with an annual vaccination. More on what to do to prevent the flu.

The CDC recommends the following simple precautions to help reduce the risks:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu–like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

A flu shot can be given to anyone who wants to avoid the flu. (What do you know about the flu? Take the Test your flu I.Q. quiz)

Seasonal flu shots through Cigna cost $27 for those who pay out-of-pocket. Some insurance plans do cover flu shots. Cigna plan participants are covered under the preventive care benefit or will pay the co-pay associated with their plan, which may be less than $27.

Cigna Medical Group and Cigna Medical Group CareToday offer flu shots to those with or without insurance. Find Cigna locations and Cigna CareToday hours of operation here.

Other flu shot locations around the Phoenix metro area:

CVS/Pharmacy

Doctors Express

NextCare Urgent Care

Walgreens

Developmental delays on the rise

Developmental disabilities among children are on the rise, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers found that disabilities among children increased by 17 percent between 1997 and 2008.

They estimate that in the year 2008, the number of children with a developmental disability reached 10 million – or around 15%.

The study, “Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in U.S. Children, 1997-2008,” in the June 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online today, May 23), analyzed data on children aged 3 to 17 years from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households.

Parents were asked to report the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, seizures, stuttering or stammering, moderate to profound hearing loss, blindness, learning disorders, and/or other developmental delays.

Study authors found the prevalence of any developmental disability increased by nearly 3% over the 12-year study period.

Among the disabilities on the rise were autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other developmental delays.

Moderate to profound hearing loss showed a significant decline.

Boys had a higher prevalence overall and for a number of select disabilities compared with girls. Hispanic children had the lowest prevalence for a number of disabilities, and low-income families and families with public health insurance had a higher prevalence.

Study authors suggest the findings show the need for health, education and social services, including the need for more specialized health services that meet the needs of these children.

What do you do if you think your child may be developmentally delayed?

Consult your pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s development, says the CDC. An additional resource, the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, lists early intervention programs by state.

For Arizona listings, check the NECTAC information listed here.

Read more on developmental delays and screening from the CDC.

Ice, ice baby- but make sure it’s clean

How do you know if your ice is clean?

Freezing does not kill bacteria and other microorganisms, according to the Center for Disease Control’s foodborne illness fact sheet. In general, says the CDC, refrigeration or freezing prevents virtually all bacteria from growing but generally preserves these microbes in a state of suspended animation.

So once the ice starts to thaw in your drink, if happened to be contaminated? You’re at risk for a foodborne illness such as E. Coli.

The CDC notes that ice may become contaminated from the use of impure water, contamination of ice making machines, or from improper storage or handling of ice. The Food and Drug Administration does not inspect small packaged ice producers, like retail stores, that make and package ice directly for the consumer.

According to the FDA, these stores, along with food service establishments that make ice on the premises, are subject to regulation by state and local authorities. The FDA Food Code, on which most state and local food regulations are modeled, contains provisions related to the safe and sanitary production and handling of ice.

But the International Packaged Ice Association (IPIA),  representing ice manufacturers who voluntarily subject their plants to inspections from outside auditing sources, say that where you get your ice does matter.

In the effort to maintain the best practices of food safety, and to make sure that ice is safe, they recommend the following:

  • The package of ice must carry the IPIA logo
  • The bag must be properly closed and secure without drawstring ties
  • Ice should be clear, odorless, and tasteless
  • The bag should have a product code for traceability
  • The bag must be free of any foreign objects or particles
  • The bag must have the manufacturer’s name, address and phone number

Jane McEwen, executive director of the IPIA, answered my questions about ice safety.

1)  Do you know of any instances where people have been sickened by ice?

Yes, the most major incidence was 20 years ago where 5,000 people fell ill from consuming contaminated ice in their drinks purchased at a University of Pennsylvania football game. We feel there would be many more reported incidences of illness from contaminated ice if it wasn’t the last food product considered normally when an outbreak occurs. And even then, when it is considered the ice in question has long since melted. The Center for Disease Control says 50% of all annual outbreaks are not traced back to the source!

2)  Where are consumers likely to buy ice without the symbol? Seems like all the major outlets would carry ice with the IPIA logo- don’t they?

Many of the major retail outlets purchase accredited ice from an IPIA member. However, there are also retailers moving into or have already implemented private label packaging without the IPIA logo and/or producing the ice themselves without IPIA standards accreditation. So, unfortunately sometimes you have to shop around to find packaged ice with the IPIA logo.

3) What plants in the Phoenix metro area aren’t members?

Like many major markets, there are probably hundreds of packaged ice producers at the retail level in Phoenix that are making and bagging ice in the store for retail sale. If you stop at a convenience store to purchase ice and don’t see the logo, then it is almost a sure bet, they are producing the ice and packaging it in the store.

4) Is it dangerous to use ice from a cooler in beverages glasses that was also used to store other foods- or even soda cans, for that matter?

Yes, high probability of cross contamination from the food. Please don’t do that.

5) Can you get a cooler clean enough to hold ice that is then directly used in beverages?

Sure. A thorough cleaning and sanitizing process like any food contact surface. Wash with hot soapy water and then sanitize with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach to a quart of water. Rinse and let dry.

6)  What about ice frozen at home and transported in a cooler? Is that safe to transport and then use communally in beverages?

The ice would be safe to transport and consume following 4 and 5 above assuming the ice produced in the freezer is safe.