Health Capsules

ECELS offers brief articles to insert into parent and staff newsletters, post on bulletin boards or otherwise share information on health and safety topics. Whenever ECELS publishes a new Health Capsule, ECELS sends an E-Mail Alert from ECELS to everyone who signed up on the ECELS home page for these alerts. You may reproduce these brief articles as long as the wording of sentences is not changed, and ECELS is indicated as the source.

A current poster with guidelines for CPR, including choking and first aid for other emergency conditions is available from the American Academy of Pediatrics bookstore. The guidelines say give Compressions first, then check the Airway, and then support Breathing with mouth to nose and mouth or mouth-to-mouth breaths (C-A-B). The C-A-B sequence applies to adults, children and infants. It does not apply to newborns. The AAP "3-in-1 First Aid/Choking/CPR" poster gives these instructions and gives brief instructions for what to do for common injuries too. Visit the AAP Bookstore to order copies of the new poster.  Reviewed and updated 5/2018.

Caring for a child with diabetes can be a challenge. Families and early care and education staff need to know what to do. Diabetes affects 7% of the population. About one in 500 children has diabetes. Children with diabetes do not make enough insulin. The body needs insulin to use sugar in food for energy and growth. Insulin is a hormone that must be produced naturally by cells in the pancreas or be given as a medicine at proper times and in the right amounts.

Drinking water should be available indoors and outdoors all day. Milk is a fluid food. Milk should be served at meals or snacks where it is planned as part of the recommended intake for the child. Having ready access to drinking water is especially important on hot days except for infants. Infants who receive human milk or formula should receive extra human milk or formula, not water. Children should learn to drink water from a cup or, without mouthing the fixture, drink from a fountain as they can master these skills. Offer water as often as once an hour. No child should be allowed to have water by sucking continuously on a bottle or Sippy cup as it may interfere with proper nutrition. It is best to have children brush their teeth after at least one feeding. When children who have teeth eat and do not brush their teeth afterward, they should have a drink of water to rinse the food from their teeth. Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2018.

Children learn through meaningful relationships. Positive interaction with consistent adults is essential for early brain development. Verbal and nonverbal communication during routine care is a good approach. Teachers can show families what to do. Speak in soft, encouraging, and positive ways to children. Encourage being respectful and treating children as you would like to be treated.

Visit the Early Learning GPS (Guiding Parents Smoothly) website. Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children campaign developed it. The GPS offers information for parents of young children about helping their children learn and grow.

Plan to stay safe and healthy during a disaster. Every early care and education program should have a detailed plan for a disaster. Plans should include what to do about food, water, supplies, and documentation. Arrangements for evacuation, including transportation are essential. Sample plans are available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th edition, Chapter 13, has fill-in-the-blank (form-field) policies for emergencies and disasters. The Early Childhood Education Linkage System (ECELS) offers an Emergency Plan Checklist and Emergency Planning Self - Learning Module for 2 hours of professional development credit.

Plan for every child’s needs prior to the first day of care. The program should collect many details before the child is enrolled.
Be sure to collect specific medical information to plan for the child’s care. Ask about any health conditions that the child has had in the past and has now. Has the child had:
• medical care for a health problem?
• allergic reactions to any foods, pollens or other substances?
• wheezing (asthma)?
• a need to take medication more than once or twice in the past year?
These general questions may reveal special needs for accommodation in the program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate program has a great poster/fact sheet. It shows the sequence and usual ages when 2-5 year old children learn specific healthy eating habits.  The one-page PDF has eye-catching graphics. Use it tool to help families and teachers work together on developmentally-appropriate eating skills for children.  Download this tool at https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/audiences/behavioral-milestones.pdf.
Learn more about fitness and nutrition for young children. Go to www.ecels-healthychildcarepa.org. Select “Professional Development/Training,” then “Self-Learning Modules.”  Choose the second page in this section. Then scroll down to “Fitness and Nutrition: Moving and Munching, Supporting Wellness in Early Learning Programs. You can earn 3 hours of state-authorized professional development credit for successful completion of this module.          Updated 4-2019

Early educators and families need to follow oral health recommendations related to use of fluoride for children. Experts no longer recommend that children take fluoride tablets and liquid supplements. Instead, children should brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste. The amount of toothpaste should be appropriate for the child's age. Infants use a smear or rice grain amount of toothpaste. Children 2-5 years of age use a pea-sized amount. From then on, a small ribbon is appropriate. By 12 months of age, or 6 months after the first tooth appears, children should visit a pediatric or child-friendly dentist. Thereafter, children should visit a dentist every 6 months. The dentist may apply fluoride varnish to their teeth at periodic visits. Medicaid and some private health insurance will pay for these preventive dental services. The child's pediatrician may be able to temporarily provide these services to healthy children up to age 5 if dental services are not available in the community. Reviewed and reaffirmed 4-2019

In America, 1 in 6 children may not know where they will get their next meal. The U.S. Department of Agriculture tracks this information. You may not know unless you ask parents about it.  Children without a stable supply of food may develop serious health problems. They may have poor growth and development. They may develop behavior difficulties. They may have frequent illnesses and hospitalizations. Some have iron deficiency anemia. 

Food-borne illness is very common. The risk of this type of illness increases in warm weather. Sending food from home and eating out-of-doors may allow perishable food to reach temperatures that foster bacterial growth. A 2011 study reported in the journal, Pediatrics measured temperatures of lunches that families packed and sent with their preschool children. The researchers found only 1.6% of lunches with perishable items were at safe temperature. The study was done in nine Texas child care centers and measured temperatures in the packed lunches of more than 700 preschoolers. Even when sent with ice packs, most of the lunches were at unsafe temperatures over an hour before the food was ready to be served. The message is clear: Early educators and families must adopt practices that ensure food is at a safe temperature before feeding it to children. 

A study in the August 2018 issue of Pediatrics, "The Nutritional Quality of Gluten-Free Products for Children," examined the nutritional content of gluten-free products marketed specifically to children. The research showed that products labeled gluten-free are not nutritionally better compared to "regular" children's foods (those without a gluten free claim). In addition, many of the gluten-free foods for children had less protein, high sugar levels, and were of poor nutritional quality due to high levels of sugar, sodium, and/or fat.

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Feel free to use any part or all of these tips as a parent handout, with acknowledgment of the AAP as the source.

Children need active play to be healthy and ready to learn. Playgrounds are an important part of vigorous outdoor play. They also pose a high risk for injury. Active supervision and equipment safety are necessary to prevent serious injuries, such as concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Symptoms of TBI can be mild or severe and can include nausea or vomiting and problems with balance, vision, or thinking.
A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that playground-related brain injuries have risen significantly over the past decade. Monkey bars, playground gym, and swing use cause the most injuries.

Children die in hot vehicles every year. Thirty or more children die annually from heat stroke after being left unattended in vehicles.On sunny days the interior of vehicles heats up rapidly and gets very hot. This happens even on relatively mild or cool sunny days. On days when the outdoor temperature is just 72°F, the internal vehicle temperature can reach 117°F in an hour. Most of the temperature rise (80%) occurs in the first 30 minutes. On days when outdoor temperatures exceed 86°F, the temperature in a vehicle can quickly reach 134 to 154°F. Opening windows a small amount does not effectively decrease either the rate of heat rise or the maximum temperature reached. In fact, sunlight coming through open car windows makes the car work like an oven.