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Homework can be a real pain in the…

back!  Literally, at least according to a study published yesterday about schoolchildren’s backpacks and back pain.  The researchers looked at more than 1400 adolescents, the weight of their backpacks, and the incidence of back pain.  Having lifted my own children’s backpacks, I was not entirely surprised by the results, but they are nonetheless concerning.

The average weight of the backpacks was more than 15 lbs!  And more than half of the children carried backpacks that weighed more than 10% of their own body weight.  One quarter of the children reported having back pain that lasted >15 days in the past year, and the students who carried the heaviest backpacks had a 50% greater likelihood of having back pain than the students with the lightest.  The risks were higher in girls than boys, and increased as the children got older.

Anyone who has had an episode of significant back pain knows that it’s no laughing matter.  If most of the weight of the backpacks was books and related school supplies, perhaps the growing preponderance of e-books and web-based homework will help prevent an epidemic of teenage back pain. 


How To Get Kids To Frequent A (salad) Bar


Fewer than 1 in 10 children eat the recommended daily serving of fruits and veggies.  Part of this reason is the limited choices they have in school, where they spend a good portion of their day.  Research shows kids will make these choices more often if they have a variety of food choices available and a new public effort, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, is working to provide children with a broader, and healthier, range of lunchtime options.  To learn more about this effort, click here.

Infants Tylenol Recalled

Earlier last week, Infants’ Tylenol Oral Suspension was voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer due to the flow restrictor at the top pushing into the bottle while trying to administer the appropriate dose.  The recall is not linked to serious adverse effects, and parents may still continue to use the medication.

To read more about the recall, click here.

High Kids? Goodbye!

[[posterous-content:pid___0]]Some interesting data was recently released regarding “sex, drugs and rock & roll” and our teenage and pre-teenage children.  A recent University of Michigan study shows that certain alcohol and drug related behaviors have significantly declined, particularly smoking cigarettes and alcohol consumption.  This national study has been tracking the use of and attitudes about drug, alcohol and tobacco use by 8th, 10th and 12th graders since 1975.  In all more than 46,000 kids were surveyed in 2011.  In addition to less alcohol and tobacco use, the study found decreased use of illicit drugs like cocaine, and prescription drugs like Vicodin and Adderall.  Not everything went down though as rates of marijuana and ecstasy use went up.

It is also interesting to look at teens’ “perceived risk” of using these various substances.  In general the teens’ perception of risk went up related to the use of amphetamines, cocaine, tobacco and of binge drinking alcohol.  However, teens appear to attribute less risk to the use of marijuana and ecstasy and, as noted, the use of these both went up according to the study.

So good job parents, and teens!  It seems that overall we’re headed in the right direction according to this data.


Here’s a link to an article that will be in the upcoming Feb 5th issue of the New York Times magazine about this subject.

Tackling Obesity: Contrasting Approaches to Moving Forward

Georgia’s new campaign to stop childhood obesity, “Strong4Life” has caused a fair amount of controversy with it’s high “shock value” videos about the problem.  Here is one of the Strong4Life videos as well as another, more education-focused video about childhood obesity.  Check them both out and see what you think.  Is one approach better than the other?  Is there a need for both?

Strong4Life video

Childhood Obesity in America

Thanksgiving and Family (history)


The U.S. Surgeon General has recommended that families share medical histories during Thanksgiving get-togethers. Knowing your family’s health history can provide important information about your health and health risks.  You can create a family health portrait in about 20 minutes on the Surgeon General’s website: My Family Health Portrait.


A study published online today in Pediatrics shows a link between early exposure to bisphenol-A and neurobehavioral problems.  Bisphenol A can be found in many consumer products (usually food & beverage containers).  Researchers found that higher levels of BPA in girls age 3 and younger, and also in pregnant mothers, were associated with more hyperactivity, anxiety and depression in the girls, using pediatric assessments for these problems.  Here’s a link to the abstract.

Hovering Parents = Less Active Children


As the level of obesity rises with adults, it also rises with children.  A main reason for this is decreased activity.  And while parents continue to take their children to parks, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine released a study earlier this month showing that when parents “hover” over their playing children, their children tend to play less actively versus children whose parents stand back and just “let them go.”  We do not want to see any harm come to our children, but as we stand on the sidelines and holler, “Not too high!” or “Careful; not so fast!” our children focus more on what not to do instead of just running around and having fun.  Of course don’t let your children get into dangerous predicaments, but the more leeway you give them to run around without worrying about getting a bump or bruise, the more apt they are to be more active and the less likely they’ll become overweight.

Watch What You Do, Because They’re Watching Us


Whatever we do as parents, our children are watching us.  And that includes taking pills such as prescription and over-the-counter medication.  Over the last several years, the number of poisoned children visiting the ER has steadily increased.  This month’s Journal of Pediatrics, reports that more than 500,000 children age five and younger are exposed to medication in an unintended manner every year. The vast majority of these are “self-ingestion” events in which children take the medication themselves, and this occurs with both prescription medications as well as over-the-counter products, including supplements.  Unfortunately many of these children end up admitted to the hospital, seriously hurt or even dead.  Fortunately this is something easily remedied and prevented: keep your medication out of the reach of children, package and secure it tightly, and make sure anyone else taking medications does the same.

The Growing Impact of Pediatric Pharmaceutical Poisoning,

But Mom, can’t Grandpa take me?


Might want to think about saying yes the next time your child asks if they can ride with Grandma or Grandpa….  According to a study published this month in the journal, Pediatrics, children were 50% less likely to be injured in motor vehicle accident with a grandparent driving than with a parent driving.