Top Ten Things To Remember This Summer

10. Don’t leave your children in the car, ever.

Thirty-seven children die each year of heat-related deaths after being trapped inside vehicles. It can happen to anyone. TIPS: Have your daycare call you if your child doesn’t arrive. Leave one of your shoes in the back seat.

09. If a child is not old enough to communicate that he/she is hot, or thirsty, then they should not be outside.

Babies are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke. Their bodies still have difficulty regulating temperature. Signs of heat-stroke include; hot but not sweating, hot red dry skin, rapid pulse, restlessness, confusion, dizziness, vomiting, rapid shallow breathing, lethargy. TREATMENT: Move to a cool area immediately (shade or indoors). Remove clothing and wipe you baby with a damp cloth while fanning them. May consider cool bath to bring the temperature down. Go to doctor or emergency room if not improving.

08. Stroller + Blanket = Furnace.

Covering your stroller with a blanket can cause poor air circulation, increased temperatures, and difficulty seeing the status of your child. TIPS: Consider carrying a parasol or umbrella to block the sun. Look for strollers that have large canopies and incorporate netted material to allow air to flow.

07. Big ‘No!’ to jumping in muddy puddles. This is not an episode of Peppa Pig.

Stagnant, or standing water, is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, host to all manner of pathogens, bacteria, protozoa, and helminth (parasitic worms), and can often be contaminated with chemical and biological toxins. TIPS: Educate your children about microbial life with a microscope and water samples.

06. Mosquitos are the most dangerous animals in the world.

Mosquitoes carry West Nile, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, parasites, and more. In other parts of the world Dengue and Malaria are common. Pregnant women and their sexual partners should avoid areas where Zika is spreading.

Insect repellent is the best way to avoid mosquito bites. DEET was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 and is still effective. The CDC recommends 10%-30% DEET for children older than 2 months of age. The effectiveness is similar but higher DEET lasts longer (10% = 2 hours, 30% = 5 hours). Although, the EPA and CDC endorse DEET as safe scientists have recently suggested the DEET may be linked to seizures and neurological damage in a laboratory environment.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol (PMD), is a natural alternative. Important to note that oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) is a highly refined and intensified product that is far more concentrated than the natural oil from the same plant. Oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) carries a label that warns, “Do not use on children under the age of 3.”

Finally, Picaridin was created by Bayer in the 1980s as a synthetic compound from a plant extract related to the black pepper family. It was available in Europe since 1998 and in the US since 2005. Picaridin has been found to be as effective as DEET, but due to its relative newness,  we have yet to understand long term health effects on humans.

05. Repellent, showers, and tick checks can stop ticks.

A handful of viruses, parasites, and bacteria are carried by ticks and all of them are on the rise. There were 115 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Florida in 2015 up from 85 in 2014. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass. Walk in the center of trails. Wear hats, use insect repellent (DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus), apply permethrin on clothing. Shower after coming indoors and perform a body check including under arms, in and around ears, and especially the hair. Place outerwear directly into the dryer on high for 10-15 minutes to kill any ticks brought into the house on clothes.

04. Playgrounds: Stay Vigilant.

Beware of molten lava slides that have been baking in the summer sun all day. Give slides a hand check before allowing your littles to put their delicate skin down. Consider visiting a playground with more shade, or a splash area, for a special park day.

Each year in the U.S. emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground related injuries. More than 20,000 of these children are treated for traumatic brain injury including concussions. The majority of children are between 5-9 years old. Swings and slides are most dangerous to 0-4 year olds.

03. Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun and it will hunt you down.

Lightning kills 47 people in the U.S. each year with hundreds more that are severely injured. There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder you are likely within striking distance and it is time to go indoors. Lightning can travel through the electrical and plumbing of your house, so avoid devices that are plugged into the wall and hold off on showers.

If you cannot get to safety, you can slightly lessen the threat of being struck, but don’t kid yourself– you are NOT safe outside. Avoid open fields, tops of hills and ridges. Stay away from tall isolated trees, or other tall objects. If you are in a group spread out to avoid the current traveling between members. Avoid water, wet items, and metal objects. Get to a vehicle if possible.

02. Drowning can happen in an instant.

On average 9 people die from drowning every day in the U.S. Drowning is most common for children 5 and under, but is the second leading cause of death for people age 5-24. Don’t go into the water unless you know how to swim. Never swim alone. Learn CPR. Make sure the body of water matches your skill level. Don’t fight currents, stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free. Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard. Don’t dive in unfamiliar areas. Never drink alcohol when swimming. Talk to your teens about alcohol. Alcohol is involved in about half of all male teen drownings.

01. Avoid grizzly bears

“All the books tell you that if the grizzly comes for you, on no account should you run. This is the sort of advice you get from someone who is sitting at a keyboard when he gives it. Take it from me, if you are in an open space with no weapons and a grizzly comes from you, run. You may as well. If nothing else, it will give you something to do with the last seven seconds of your life.” — Bill Bryson

Spring Renewal: A Natural Home Cleanse

Out with the old and in with the new.  A friend of mine who moved once told me that rather than finding the process chaotic, she found it cathartic. A time to take stock in what was truly needed in her home and to start fresh. Generations ago our ancestors undertook this domestic overhaul in the spring, scrubbing off months of soot and grime that had accumulated in their homes thanks to winter fires, kerosene lamps, and the impracticality of beating carpets in the snow. These days, few of us have to worry about creosote in our kitchens, but the annual ritual of spring cleaning prevails because it just feels so good when the job is done. This year, use this time of renewal to revisit your goals for living cleanly. Take a critical tour of your home, assessing how you’re living up to your own healthy standards. Have you fallen back on great intentions? No worries – we all do. Now is the time to get back on track.

Clean Up the Kitchen

What is under your sink? Purge those cleaners that claim to have magical powers but don’t list ingredients – or who’s ingredients are clearly questionable (if it is purple and smells like a meadow, it probably is questionable). Replace them with non-toxic, plant-based alternatives and avoid sprays, which disperse much of the cleaning agent into the air. It is also easy to make your own effective, inexpensive cleaners using household ingredients such as white vinegar, cornstarch, lemon, and baking soda (see recipes at eartheasy.com). Be sure to check the sink itself for leaks that may keep this area damp and attractive to mold.

How about the cabinets? Clean out old water bottles and food storage containers (including bags) and replace them with non-BPA alternatives that are now readily available at grocery stores. Eliminate non-stick cookware, or at least get rid of any that is showing signs of wear such as scratches or flaking. Consider switching to enamel or cast iron, which will become non-stick if properly seasoned. The fact that it may introduce iron into food is actually a nutritional benefit!

Detox Laundry

Ever think that maybe it isn’t a good thing that your clothes smell like perfume days after they’ve been washed? Artificial fragrances (which often contain hundreds of synthetic chemicals) and funky colors aren’t necessary to clean clothes. Use natural, environmentally-friendly detergents that are just as effective at removing dirt and odors – not masking them.  These products usually list ingredients on the package for consumers.  Hold the same standards for other laundry products like dryer sheets, stain spray, and bleach. Try natural brands that are up front about what they contain (and what they don’t).

Healthier Sleep

Dust mites be gone! Actually, it is impossible to be completely rid of these microscopic creatures, but it is relatively easy to manage them. Wash all bedding – including comforters, mattress pads, bed skirts and pillows – in very hot water. For items that can’t be laundered in hot water, adding tea tree or eucalyptus oil to cooler wash water kills the mites, and smaller items can be put in the freezer for at least 24 hours. Use a couple of teaspoons of essential oil mixed with a pint of water to damp dust furniture and clean floors. You can also buy allergy covers for the pillows and the mattress and create a physical barrier.

Move alarm clocks, phones, and other electronics away from beds to limit exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Consider using a salt lamp. By naturally flooding an area with negative ions, salt lamps may improve air quality, reduce stress, improve sleep, increase energy levels, and reduce allergy and asthma symptoms. They’re great for every room in the house!

A Better Bathroom

How’s your medicine cabinet? Clear out the post-date products and ensure a good supply of basics including supplements such as a whole food multivitamin (such as IntraKid and IntraMax) a probiotic, vitamin D and fish oil. Take a close look at your health and beauty products, eliminating those that will expose your body to irritating and harmful chemicals (see www.EWG.org and www.SaferChemicals.org) such as parabens, formaldehyde, triclosan, and phthalates in products such as moisturizers, soaps and shampoos, cosmetics, nail polish, and deodorant. Women should pay special attention to feminine care products and lubricants which may expose sensitive, highly absorptive areas to toxic chemicals. If a product doesn’t list its ingredients, move to one that does. Cotton products may pose less health risk than synthetic fibers (such as rayon), and it is best to avoid scented tampons and pads.

Take it Outside

As bulbs push their way through the soil, so do weeds. Few of us have the patience to individually pick them from our lawns (kudos to those of you who do!), so we’re understandably tempted to engage a chemical lawn care service to feed our obsession with perfect turf. STOP! Herbicides, pesticides and fungicides widely associated with neurological damage, reproductive harm and cancer are routinely used in chemical lawn care, and there are safer alternatives. Find a service that provides organic lawn care using natural fertilizers such as chicken poop. There are also many organic options for do-it-yourselfers available online or in hardware stores.

The act of spring cleaning can itself be therapeutic, so embrace the ritual! Set aside time to detox your home and start afresh. Then sit back, relax, and be mindful of feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

The FDA Opens Its Vast Files on Drug Side Effects to the Public

ucm354989The FDA quietly unveiled plans to make adverse event reports more widely available through a project called openFDA. Instead of simply publishing unwieldy quarterly files, openFDA will let software makers tap directly into the data to build user-friendly and easily searchable programs for doctors and consumers.

Thousands of times each day, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration receives reports about unwanted side effects of the prescription and over-the-counter medications it oversees. They stream in from patients and doctors—and from drugmakers, which are required to relay accounts of problems. This data, cataloging reactions as mild as rashes and headaches and as serious as internal bleeding and death, help the agency monitor drug safety.

It’s also almost impossible for anyone outside the agency to use. The FDA publishes quarterly bulk files—the most recent one covers to the end of 2012—but they’re a blizzard of cryptic information that can only be deciphered with expertise and complicated software.

Patients and physicians trying to use the FDA’s database on their own are in the wilderness. Since each file from the FDA covers three months, creating a complete record of problems associated with a particular drug over a period of years means deciphering and piecing together dozens of monster files. Currently, patients or doctors who want to see a report on a specific drug have to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the government.

Once the information is easier to use, software developers will step in to meet the public’s demand for drug information. Mobile apps will let consumers compare over-the-counter drugs while they shop in the pharmacy, and software to immediately alert pharmacists when a company issues a recall. DrugCite currently uses the FDA’s archives to let users search for side effects by medication.

This should also shed some light on vaccine studies. I have already read a lot of web chatter that a definitive link has been uncovered. We should hear more about this in the future if true.

Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts

2010_47-engCurrent Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts – Less than 60 days old.

Recall and Safety Alert Archives – Older than 60 days and by year.

Safety information about human medical products – MedWatch.

Safety information about products affecting animal health – Animal & Veterinary Recalls & Withdrawals.

More complete listing of Biologic Recalls and Market Withdrawal information – Biologics Recalls.

More complete listing of Medical Device Recalls – Medical Device Recalls.

Additional safety information about cosmetic products – Cosmetics Recalls and Alert.

Recalls of raw (fresh and fresh frozen) oysters, clams, mussels, and whole and roe-on scallops.

Red & Green Are Not Just The Colors of Mistletoe

130610-food-dye-health-color-wheelChristmas cookies and other foods contain food dyes and are now a staple in the American diet. We now consume five times more food dye than in 1955. Fortunately parents have taken notice. Look at all the chat room discussions on the topic.  Several countries such as Norway and Finland have banned these food additives as a result of the science and the dangerous health effects.

Recently I have had aggressive behavior in several children and the cause has not been uncovered. This leads me to believe that food is a likely culprit.

The infamous red dye #40 is the most widely consumed artificial food dye and has some of the biggest health concerns. Used to add color to candy, cereal, drinks, and most other processed foods, it’s extremely hard to avoid. Excessive red #40 has been shown to cause hyperactivity in children chromosomal damage and lymphomas.

Yellows #5 and #6 have both shown to increase asthma and allergies as well as a concern for thyroid tumors. #5′s claim to fame is being a catalyst for aggression and violent behavior and is banned in Norway.

Many parents and families have reported a huge change in behavior after a switch to a food dye-free diet. Natural food dyes such as beets, carrots, various berries and red cabbage are great and healthier alternatives to the artificial kind.

The FDA has shown no conclusive evidence that link behavior or ADHD to food dye and have stated that more tests should be held before they can call to ban certain food dyes.

I recommend being more proactive then waiting for official sources to declare food dyes a health threat. I hope to see less aggressive and healthier children in the office as a result of food control.  Who would have ever thought that ‘To Dye means to die.”