Fall 2015 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

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Influenza vaccine helps to prevent thousands of deaths, hospitalizations, and millions of serious illnesses from influenza every year. The vaccine is safe. Many people have mistaken ideas about flu vaccine. Some think they will get the flu from the vaccine. Others think that since they’ve never had the disease, they won’t get it. Some think they have the “flu” when they have an uncomfortable short respiratory illness. Seasonal viruses other than influenza cause these short, mild illnesses. Usually, influenza is a severe and long-lasting illness. Healthy adults and children who don’t get vaccine can get very sick with flu. It can make them sick for months or kill them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics lists child care workers as a priority group to get flu vaccine. Everyone who is involved with child care and who is medically able to receive flu vaccine should get it. While some medications may reduce the length of the illness from influenza if given right away, they do not cure the disease.

Adults know that electronic gadgets with screens entertain young children. Handing a cell phone to a child in a grocery store can make shopping easier. However, adults should focus learning with language rich, socially interactive opportunities for the child to learn about what is in the store.

Screen experiences from TV, smartphones, computers and tablets do not promote personality development. Real world social interactions are necessary. Screen devices substitute viewing images for exploration of the environment. While children can learn something from what they see and hear on screen devices, they learn more easily from interactions with people and objects they can see, touch and manipulate. The bottom line is that screen time for young children should be limited to provide more opportunity for play and learning in the real world. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children less than 2 years of age should have NO screen time.*

Zero-to-Three published guidelines for use of screen devices in 2014.** The guidelines reviewed the research findings, the implications and limits to place on use of screen devices. For example, Zero-to-Three reported that, on average, children less than 3 years old are exposed to more than 5 hours of background TV. This exposure has a negative effect on the children’s development of language and other brain functions. It reduces the quality and quantity of play that is vital to learning.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a food label to tell consumers that the producer of the food meets certain standards. Some multi-ingredient products with USDA Organic labels specify which ingredients have been certified organic according to the USDA standards. The standard for use of the USDA Organic label requires that the producer not use synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering. To enforce the standards, the USDA inspects the production of foods that use the label.

Food labeled USDA Organic may or may not be healthful. There is no evidence that foods are necessarily less healthful if grown with synthetic fertilizers or properly aged sewage sludge. Irradiation of food kills germs. No radiation remains in the foods. Foods produced by genetic engineering may grow better and produce quality product sooner than if the producer waited to select plants from natural mutations. How a food is grown and packaged is not the only way to decide whether the food is healthful. The time between picking and selling foods can affect the quality of any food. Contamination or improper storage of any food may occur on the way from harvest to the seller.

Observers of early education programs often hear background music played by an electronic device. Some of these devices have screens; some do not. Unless the music plays a role in the activity, turn it off.

Recently, ECELS Pediatric Advisor Dr. Susan Aronson asked nationally recognized Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician, Dr. Heidi Feldman, MD, PhD to share what she knew about the impact of background music or noise in general on language learning. Dr. Feldman noted that environmental audiologists have measured the ratio of signal (what we want children to hear) to noise in class-rooms. She noted: “It is shockingly small, 3 to 5 decibels.” For children with weak language or attention, she said that this minimal difference in sound level makes listening and understanding language challenging.

In 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated the schedule of services children should receive during well-child visits.* The new schedule includes oral health screening and that all children between 6 months and 5 years of age have their teeth painted with fluoride varnish** 2-4 times a year to prevent tooth decay.

Learn more about how to make the most of well child visits. Go to the 8/2015 article* on the AAP’s www.HealthyChildren.org website. This website is for parents and other caregivers. Articles are available in English or Spanish, in both written and oral format.

Photo and article content with permission of the American Academy of Pediatrics.oral health pg 4