Tylenol Linked to Developmental Delay (Yes) / Autism (Maybe)

tylenol-acetaminophen-dangers“Our findings suggest that Tylenol/acetaminophen/paracetamol might not be as harmless as we think,” said the lead doctor on a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Frequent use may be linked to poorer language skills and behavior problems among their children, according to the study. “Long-term use of (acetaminophen) increased the risk of behavior problems by 70 percent at age three,” the researcher said. “That is considerable.”

The developmental problems seen in this study align with symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, though the children had not been diagnosed at age three.

As the most popular over-the-counter drug in the U.S., Tylenol has been extensively studied in relation to premature birth and miscarriage, with no connections found.

But its maker Johnson & Johnson periodically comes under fire for the drug’s small therapeutic index – that is, the difference between an effective dose and a dangerous dose is quite small. So interest in investigating the drug persists.

The new study is the first to look at young children whose mothers took Tylenol while pregnant. Close to four percent of women took Tylenol for at least 28 days total during pregnancy. Their children seemed to have poorer motor skills than kids whose mothers had taken the drug fewer times or not at all. Tylenol-exposed kids also tended to start walking later, have poorer communication and language skills and more behavior problems.

It’s difficult to define risks for pregnant women and their children, since rigorous tests and controlled studies of drug exposure aren’t ethical. All researchers can do is closely observe women in the real world. But this study involved a large number of women.

Researchers also looked for any link to ibuprofen/Motrin. They found no development problems tied to ibuprofen.

Toddlers Understand Another Person’s Intentions

wittle_toddler_timsteph_by_batman_defeats_all-d6seyzfToddlers can judge a person’s intention. When one person tries to harm someone else but did not succeed, the youngsters were less likely to help that person at a later time.

But when they observed a person accidentally cause harm to another, they were more willing to help that person.

“It had been thought for a long time that it was at a later age, only around age 5 or 6, that children become conscious of other people’s intentions,” said Amrisha Vaish, one of the study’s authors and a developmental psychologist at the Max Planck Institute. “To help those who help others is actually a very sophisticated ability.”

The research appears in the journal Child Development.

And we all thought their little misbehaviors were innocent….

ART – Don’t Slight The Hand

stages2Writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development. Handwriting could be a good cognitive exercise for baby boomers working to keep their minds sharp as they age.

Recent research illustrates how writing by hand engages the brain in learning. During one study at Indiana University published this year, researchers invited children to man a “spaceship,” actually an MRI machine using a specialized scan called “functional” MRI that spots neural activity in the brain. The kids were shown letters before and after receiving different letter-learning instruction. In children who had practiced printing by hand, the neural activity was far more enhanced and “adult-like” than in those who had simply looked at letters.

“It seems there is something really important about manually manipulating and drawing out two-dimensional things we see all the time,” says Karin Harman James, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Indiana University who led the study.

Even in the digital age, people remain enthralled by handwriting for myriad reasons—the intimacy implied by a loved one’s script, or what the slant and shape of letters might reveal about personality.

So remember – the ancient art of writing is more than words – it is an artistic expression that aides expression.  There are even Apple apps for children to practice their writing skills such as “WritePad” and “abc PocketPhonics.”

10 Things Your Nanny Won’t Tell You

nanny safetyI saw this article in the Wall Street Journal on October 13, 2013 and the title made me smile. What does my (your) nanny know that I (you) don’t? From a pediatrician’s perspective, this is a great opportunity to raise a few thought-proviking questions.

1. “Your kid loves me more than you.”

Wow – this means the parent is never around or the nanny is over stepping boundaries. TIme to change your lifestyle or nanny.

2. “You’re the worst part of my job.”

This is a natural yet unfortunate and avoidable situation. When you have two people caring for a child, they both want to be the ‘gatekeepers’ of health and wellness.  This creates a tension as the two people may have different value systems and thus caring styles. I see this all a lot with mothers and mother-in-laws. The solution is to make clear boundaries and know the child is yours. Always be open to advice and guidance but do not be afraid to hold your line and your family’s boundaries.

3. “I can’t save your kid’s life (or treat his injuries).”

Enroll all caregivers, is parents, grandparents, older children, nannies, etc, in a CPR course.

4. “I’m sleeping with your spouse.”

Umm, no comment.

5. “You’re not paying me enough.”

Salary is always a debate and fairness depends on the level of responsibility and availability of the nanny. $16 an hour is the median. I suggest thinking about the nanny’s  family needs as well. Your nanny is part of your community and if you do not take care of your community then points #1-4 are more likely to occur. Enough said.

6. “I’ll sue you.”

Be professional and respectful and this should not happen. If I were writing this for the nanny, I would make sure they created their own boundaries and would have them express these at the start of their employment to avoid unnecessary problems. Clear communication and respect are the key to to any healthy relationship. Karma, karma, karma.

7. “I’m smarter than you are.”

This may be true and often is true. However smarts do not determine who runs the house or how the children are cared for. Many times the employee is smarter than the boss but again let professionalism and respect rule the day.

8. “Your secret’s not safe with me.”

Having someone live in your house makes one vulnerable since they get to see you with your guard down. Again if you are respectful and professional then there should not be a problem but I suggest having the nanny sign a confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement.

9. “I know about that nanny cam.”

Technology allows 24 a day surveillance. Use it especially if your child is less then 6 years old. Every job should have markers of performance and when working with toddlers who cannot provide an adequate history then a camera (or several of them) are fine.  I would let the nanny know they are there too.

10. “You better do a thorough background check on me.”

This goes without saying. I have had parents run background checks on me as their pediatrician. This is not only smart to do but necessary. I work on the child protection team and never want to see your child in my office for a suspected abuse.

The bottom line is treat your nanny with respect, be clear about your boundaries, do not worry about disagreements as long as both sides are professional, and treat them like family. Working with a co-gatekeeper will force you to acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses, will demonstra
te to your children how to work with others and give you time to contribute to your larger community. After all, our lives are about service.


NBC-2 Interview of Dr. J. Brian Thornburg on the Appropriateness of BMI Screenings at School

BMI ChartWatch the NBC news video by clicking here.

By NBC-2

An 11-year-old’s weight is now the talk of the country after her story aired on the “Today” show and “Good Morning America.”

Lily Grasso is a star volleyball player, and by looking at her picture you can tell she’s far from obese.

But when school started last month, Lily brought home a letter from the Collier County Health Department that included results from her health screening.

Those results labeled her body weight “at risk.”

“I was crying when my parents told me the news was going to come, and I just didn’t know what people were going to say at school,” said Lily.

Her parents labeled it a “fat letter” that destroys a child’s self-esteem.

“I don’t think anyone will look at a letter and feel better about themselves,” said Lily’s mom, Kristen Grasso.

Doctor James Thornburg is a local Naples pediatrician. He says the body mass index can easily be off for athletes like Lily, adding that parents should follow up with their primary physician.

“It’s like any other static mark, you have to go find out what it really means because just a number on a piece of paper doesn’t really explain you as a person,” said Dr. Thornburg.

The Collier County Health Department says it has conducted the screenings for years, and has never received any complaints other than this incident.

“I was surprised because we don’t really get any complaints about this program” said Dr. Joan Colfer, with the Florida Department of Health and Collier County.

The department says whether the letters are sent home with children or mailed home is up to the school itself.

Department officials add the tests do more good than bad.

“These are important things that you need to find out about children early in life so you can make those corrections if needed,” said Colfer.

When asked if the department was considering a change in light of the incident, officials firmly said no.

“Absolutely not! This is a mandated by state law,” said Colfer.

Massachusetts is one state where representatives are trying to ban those screenings. Grasso’s mother wants the same push here in Florida.

“If we can change the law and get the tests out of schools even better,” said Lily’s mom.