The Safe to Sleep campaign of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development evolved from the Back to Sleep campaign that NICHD started in 1994. The campaign educate parents, caregivers, and health care providers about ways to reduce the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death. Placing healthy babies on their backs to sleep is the most effective action that parents and caregivers can take to reduce the risk of SIDS. Since that campaign started, the percentage of infants placed on their backs to sleep has increased dramatically. The overall SIDS rates have declined by more than 50%. Other factors involved in sleep-related deaths are important too. The website has a video and brochures that can be downloaded at no cost. 12/2012
Since 1986, conference workshops, professional journal articles, manuals, national standards, and sample forms have described the risk to an unborn child if a pregnant mother is exposed to certain infections that commonly spread in groups of young children. Employers of female early education staff of child-bearing age should educate their staff members about this risk. They should urge them to discuss with their health care providers how to reduce their risk.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the infections that pose a risk to an unborn child. CMV is a common infection among young children, usually without symptoms. Between 30% and 70% of children less than 3 years of age in child care excrete the virus in their urine, saliva and blood at any one time. Excretion of the virus may occur intermittently for years after the first infection. Women who work in child care may or may not be immune to the strains of CMV infecting children in their care. If a woman has her first CMV infection while pregnant, or has a CMV infection with a different strain than the one she had previously, her unborn child is more likely to be infected.
In utero (congenital) CMV infection occurs in only 1% of live births. However, CMV is the most common viral infection of babies before they are born and the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. About 10% of the CMV-infected babies have some symptoms or signs at birth. Those who do may have devastating multi-organ damage. These include poor growth, liver damage, brain damage, hearing loss, blindness, underdeveloped brains and developmental delay. About half of infants who have some symptoms of CMV at birth develop hearing loss from damaged nerves that are needed to carry sound sensations to the brain from the ear. About 15% of those who are infected but have no symptoms of CMV infection at birth develop this type of hearing loss as they grow older. In many children, the degree of hearing loss is progressive.
Nurses who conscientiously practice recommended hand hygiene don't get CMV infections from their CMV infected patients at a higher rate than other women. Teachers/caregivers of groups of young children could similarly reduce their risk by practicing hand hygiene after every contact with urine, saliva or blood. However, achieving this level of hand hygiene is challenging in group care. Teachers/caregivers have contact with more than one drooling child at a time, and frequently touch saliva coated toys or other surfaces. They change diapers or soiled underwear for children in their group multiple times a day.
At the least, women who teach groups of young children need to know how to reduce the risk if they might become or are pregnant. When properly informed, they can consider three options: 1) be very careful about practicing hand hygiene, 2) decide to provide care for preschool or older children instead of infants and toddlers when pregnancy is possible, or 3) choose to work in settings where they have less risk of contact with body secretions of young children.
Employers should explain CMV and other common occupational health risks verbally pre-employment. The information should be in an employee handbook given to each staff member, and discussed at a staff meeting at least once a year. It is best practice to use a Staff Health Assessment form that lists the common occupational risks. The list may prompt the health care provider who completes the form to assess and discuss these risks. Many health care professionals are unaware of the tasks performed by women whose work involves close contact with groups of young children. A list of these occupational risks is in Caring for Our Children, Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools, and in Model Child Care Health Policies. Each of these publications has a sample Staff Health Assessment Form too.
Teach early education staff members about each of their occupational risks. Then have them sign a statement acknowledging the teaching received, that they understand and know how to reduce each risk, and that with this knowledge, they accept the risks.
Go to the ECELS Sun Safety Online Self-Learning Modulec. Scroll to pages 40-43 of the module for a list of links to credentialed sources of sun safety information. 12/2012
The attached document provides helpful tips to support the child, parents and early care and education staff when there is child abuse and neglect. For more information and professional development about child abuse and neglect (child maltreatment,) see the online ECELS Child Abuse and Neglect Self-Learning Module. 5/2012
Swaddling (wrapping tightly) in a blanket calms many young babies. However, improper use of this practice increases risk of harm. If the blanket is too loose, it can move up to cover the infant’s face. Loose blankets around the infant’s head are a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS.) Swaddling may cause overheating, another SIDS risk factor. If the blanket wraps the legs so they are not free to move, researchers find the baby is more likely to develop hip disease.
Early educators have a vital role in the lives of children. What teachers/caregivers do can directly impact each child’s health and wellbeing. Teachers need the knowledge, skills and tools to meet this awesome responsibility! ECELS recently revised three self-learning modules so they are now updated and easy-to-use in online or print formats:
Each module meets STAR Level 2 Performance Standards for Health and Safety and provides 2 hours of professional development credit. See the brief overview of each module below, click on the active link above or go to the ECELS website at www.ecels-healthychildcarepa.org Select the Professional Development/Training tab at the top of the page, then Self-Learning Modules. Find the one you want to use in the alphabetical listing of the more than 30 Self-Learning Modules that ECELS offers.
Do you or the families you serve transport children? Review performance standards for transporting children safely in early care and education programs. Share this information with parents who transport their children in vehicles other than a public bus. The model policy is consistent with Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards.
Many young children ride tricycles. Between January 2012 and January 2014, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission collected data that showed an estimated 9340 trike riders were injured seriously enough to come to a hospital’s Emergency Department. Fifty-two percent of these injured children were between 1 and 2 years of age.
The number of children with tricycle injuries peaked at 2 years of age. Somewhat fewer children who were 3 years of age were injured. For 4 year olds, the number dropped to slightly more than half the number for 3 year olds. Thereafter, the numbers of children with trike injuries declined sharply. Most of the injured children were treated and released from the Emergency Department.
Lacerations (cuts) were the most frequent type of injury. The face was cut more often than other body parts. Internal organ damage was a common injury for 3 year olds and 5 year olds. The brain was the most commonly injured internal organ. Note in the photo the children need to wear helmets. For 7-year-old children, 70% of the injuries were bruises of the face and head. Elbows were the most commonly broken bone.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is a government organization. It is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from consumer products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. This website has a wide range of reliable safety information. You can search for a topic or browse many interesting articles. On the home page, select “What’s Popular” to find excellent materials for early educators and families with children. For example “Childproofing Your Home” is a printable brochure that lists 12 safety devices to install to protect children. 12/2012
Water play offers wonderful developmental learning opportunities. However, early educators must control the risks of drowning and spread of infection from contaminated water. It takes less than 30 seconds for a young child to begin to drown. More than 250 children less than 5 years of age drown each year. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that most children age 4 and older should learn to swim. Children between 1 and 4 years of age may benefit from formal swimming lessons. However, nobody should rely on a child’s swimming skills to become less vigilant about supervising a child in the water. To learn more about how to reduce the risk of drowning, go to the websites of the Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov and the AAP at www.aap.org. Search for “drowning” on both sites. Preventing bad germs from spreading through contact with water requires vigilance too. Early care and education providers must pay attention to controlling both of these risks.