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May 25th 2018

just a little reminder, read the safety tips again

April 9th 2018

Wet wipes are contributing to childhood food allergies, finds study

Wet wipes could be putting babies at risk of allergic reactions by creating a breach in the skin’s natural protective coat that makes it more sensitive to unusual chemicals, a study has found. 

US researchers hailed a “major advance in our allergy understanding” after showing they can develop after repeat skin contact in an area where soaps have stripped the natural oils from the skin.

If wet wipe residues are not rinsed off, babies are then vulnerable to absorb allergy-causing chemicals when they’re picked up or touched, the authors said.

This is particularly true for children who already have a genetic predisposition for developing allergies that are also linked with conditions like eczema, which affects a third of childhood allergy sufferers.

The findings go some way in explaining how food allergies, an extreme immune response to harmless substances, start and why allergy rates have increased nearly 20 per cent in countries like the US in the past 20 years.

“This is a recipe for developing a food allergy,” said the study’s lead author, Joan Cook-Mills, a professor of allergy-immunology at Northwestern University.

“It’s a major advance in our understanding of how a food allergy starts early in life.”

Eczema is caused by when genetic mutations disrupt some of the proteins embedded in the skin that create the barrier effect.

But in a test in baby mice with these eczema mutations, exposure to peanuts alone wasn’t enough to cause an allergy in later life.

After reading about studies where drugs were delivered through the skin using soap to break down the barrier, Professor Cook-Mills said: “I thought, ‘oh my gosh! That’s infant wipes!’”.

Repeating the experiment, the team first applied sodium lauryl sulphate, a common soap also found in wet wipes, to the mice’s skin before exposing them to common food and other allergens.

They were given three or four skin exposures in a two-week period, and were then given egg or peanut to eat. The researchers found the mice developed a rash at the skin exposure site, as well as having allergic reactions and body-wide anaphylaxis – the shock response in serious allergies.

The wet wipe effect could be similar to the skin barrier breakdown with a mild rash or bad eczema, and Professor Cook-Mills said parents should go back to older ways of washing infants.

“Reduce baby’s skin exposure to the food allergens by washing your hands before handling the baby and limit use of infant wipes that leave soap on the skin.

“Rinse soap off with water like we used to do years ago.”

April 5th 2018

Babies at risk of being put in unsafe sleep positions by babysitters

Babies who died in their sleep while being watched by someone other than parents were often placed in unsafe sleep positions, a study has found.

Researchers examined more than 10,000 infant deaths from 2004 to 2014 and found that 1,375 cases (13.1%) occurred during the absence of a parent. They found infants who died of sleep-related causes under non-parental supervision were less likely to be placed in the “supine” position - lying horizontally with their face and torso facing up. 

Among the babies who died under non-parental supervision, those supervised by relatives or friends were more often placed on an adult bed or couch for sleep and were more likely to have objects in their sleep environment. The researchers urged paediatricians to educate parents that all caregivers must always follow safe sleep practices.

“If someone else - a babysitter, relative, or friend - is taking care of your baby, please make sure they know to place your baby on the back in a crib and without any bedding,” said Dr. Rachel Moon of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. 

Dr Moon added: “It’s always best to discuss where and how your baby should sleep. You can’t make assumptions that the person with whom your baby is staying will know what is safest.”

So if you’re leaving your baby with a family member or friend for the first time, what should you ensure they know before you leave the house? 

Kate Holmes, support and information manager at The Lullaby Trust told HuffPost UK: “Whether caring for your own baby, or babysitting a friend or relative’s little one, it’s important that you’re aware of the risks of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While SIDS is rare, it’s important that anyone taking care of an infant knows the safer sleep practices that reduce the chance of SIDS occurring.”

The Lullaby Trust advised that parent should make sure all babysitters are aware to: 

:: Place the baby on his or her back. 

:: Put the baby (if aged 0-6 months) to sleep in their own cot or Moses basket in the same room as where you are for both day and night-time sleeps.

:: Avoid letting the baby get too hot.

:: Don’t cover the baby’s face while sleeping or use loose bedding.

:: Keep cot as clear as possible, with no pillows, duvets, cot bumpers, soft toys or baby products.

The charity suggested parents could pass on their Easy Read cards that encourage safer sleep.

Feb 20th 2018

What is measles? These are the symptoms you need to be looking for

Measles is now uncommon in the UK because of the effectiveness of vaccination.

But a recent outbreak has seen more than a hundred confirmed cases of the life-threatening infection in England in the last few months after a huge rise in cases in Europe.

The news came just months after global health leaders said measles had been 'eliminated' in the UK.

Measles is still one of the biggest killers of children, with 430 deaths around the world every day.

The NHS says you should contact your GP if you suspect that you or your child may have measles.

You should phone ahead and tell the surgery you think you have measles before visiting, as they may need to make arrangements to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.

What is measles?

Measles is one of the world’s most infectious diseases.

The virus can be unpleasant to have, and can sometimes lead to extremely serious complications - that in some cases can be fatal.

The infection usually clears in around 7 to 10 days.

How do you catch measles?

It spreads when infected people cough and sneeze – it is in the tiny droplets.

People become infected by breathing in the droplets or by touching a surface that has been contaminated and then rubbing on their noses or mouths.

Measles is most common in children aged between one and four, but people who have not had it and those who have not been vaccinated are at risk.

If you've had the vaccine, or you've had measles before, your body builds up an immunity and it's unlikely you'll catch it again.

What are the symptoms?

The initial symptoms of measles can include:

A runny or blocked nose, sneezing, watery eyes, swollen eyelids, sore red eyes that may be sensitive to light, high temperature, fever, which may reach about 40C Or 104F small greyish-white spots in the mouth, aches and pains, a cough, loss of appetite, tiredness, irritability and general lack of energy

The initial symptoms of measles can include:

After a few days a red-brown spotty rash will appear, usually behind the neck, and spread across the body. There may be diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Common complications include eye infections and laryngitis.

But it can also lead to meningitis and pneumonia and some people can die.

Is there a treatment?

No, there is no specific treatment, but the body’s immune system should be able to fight off the illness within a couple of weeks.

However, in severe cases hospital admission may be required.

The NHS recommends paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve fever, aches and pains.

You should also drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and stay off school or work for four days after the rash appears

How can I prevent it?

The most effective way is the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

To prevent a measles outbreak doctors recommend that at least 95% of the population is immunised.

But only 91.9% of UK children were vaccinated against measles between 2015 and 2016, compared to 94.2% the year before.

The World Health Organisation had said people's complacency and fear of vaccines means young children in particular are more susceptible to infection.

What is the MMR vaccine?

The MMR vaccination is a combined inoculation which protects against measles, mumps and rubella and is available to all adults and children who have not completed the course.

The full course requires two doses.

The first should be given when a child is 13 months old, followed by a booster vaccination before they start school.

If you're not sure about your vaccination status, experts say you should to check with your GP.

Why have there been vaccine fears?

Shamed doctor Andrew Wakefield was struck off for discredited research claiming that the MMR jab was linked to autism. 

The 1998 study caused a global scare and vaccine uptake levels fell significantly in the years after it was published.

But there is no evidence that MMR is harmful, and if immunisation levels fall, the chance of a deadly epidemic is increased.

Measles in pregnancy

If you're pregnant, catching measles can be risky for you baby. There is a chance of miscarriage, or your baby being born prematurely or underweight.

If you're pregnant, know you're not immune and think you've come into contact with someone who has measles, you should contact your GP as soon as possible.

Jan 29th 2018

How can you easily reduce the risk of cot death

Around 250 babies and toddlers still die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome every year.

Neither disease nor illness, SIDS is the diagnosis given and cause of death recorded when a baby under one year of age dies unexpectedly, and when no medical reason can be pinpointed.

In spite of ongoing research and an increased awareness of preventative measures, SIDS can occur without warning .

To help make parents further aware of the basic steps they can take to reduce the risk of SIDS, the Lullaby Trust have released a warning about the position a baby is put down to sleep in.

How to reduce the risk of SIDS.

The charity's advice came after the discovery that one in four parents believed it was safe for their little ones sleep on their sides.

The Lullaby Trust guidelines state babies should always be put to sleep on their backs, following research which found babies were far less likely to die if they sleep on their backs.

Although nearly all of the parents surveyed by the charity had heard of SIDS, almost a quarter neither agreed nor disagreed with whether a baby should sleep on their back.

Babies should also be put in the 'feet to foot' position to avoid the increased risk of SIDS due to overheating or suffocation should their head get covered by their bedding.

The 'feet to foot' position can prevent against this by stopping your baby from wriggling under the cover.

You simply place them so their feet are at the bottom of the cot, bassinet or crib and tuck the covers firmly around them.

SIDS made the news in 1991 after TV star Anne Diamond tragically lost her baby son Sebastian.

Anne went on to launch the Back to Sleep campaign, following research showing that babies were far less likely to die if they were put to sleep on their backs.

Jan 28th 2018

100-calorie snack campaign sparks debate about calorie counting for kids

A campaign advising parents to give their children 100-calorie snacks has sparked a debate about the effects of calorie counting kids’ food. 

Public Health England (PHE) introduced a campaign in January 2018 calling for parents to give kids “100 calorie snacks, two a day max”, to encourage healthier snacking.

However national charity Beat believes PHE should have considered the impact the campaign may have on individuals at risk of developing an eating disorder.

“We have heard from parents and treatment providers who cite the promotion of anti-obesity messages to children as a factor in the onset and maintenance of eating disorders,” the charity said in a statement.

“While the campaign is aimed at parents, it is easy to see how it will also engage a younger audience. Encouraging excessive focus on calorie counting could be harmful for young people susceptible to disordered eating.”

However PHE argue that it is hard to tackle the problem of obesity and eating disorders at the same time.

They shared statistics that showed 34% of children aged 10 and 11 years old are overweight and obese, while 1.3% are underweight. 

“Our Change4Life campaign helps millions of families make healthier choices,” said Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE. “Every campaign encourages families to eat more fruit and vegetables and use front of the pack labelling to choose healthier foods.

“This campaign responds directly to parents’ concerns and our campaigns are rigorously tested with parents to ensure they provide helpful and practical advice.

“It’s not about counting calories - it’s a simple tip for parents to help change their children’s snacking habits.”

PHE advised those who have, or are worried about others with, eating disorders should seek help from a registered health care professional.

Beat also questioned whether the campaign gave the impression that counting calories of snacks indicated how healthy they are.

“A 100 calorie drink or snack with high levels of processed sugar will not reduce feelings of hunger, whereas many healthy snacks are over 100 calories and can play an important role in a healthy and balanced diet,” Beat argued. “Focusing on calories rather than on healthy and balanced eating is unhelpful. 

“We understand there are public health obesity strategies in other countries that have a positive impact on mental wellbeing and reduce the risk of eating disorders. We are investigating these to see whether they could be applicable to the UK.”

Paediatric dietitian Judy More agreed that PHE could have further emphasised the importance of nutritious snacks for children.

“100 calorie snacks will not be suitable for all children,” she said. “I think listing recommended (low sugar, high nutrients) snacks and non-recommended snacks (high sugar, low nutrients) would have been a better way forward.

“I also think one sugary snack per day is better for teeth than two sugary snacks per day. Evidence shows limiting sugar containing foods to four episodes per day (e.g. the three meals and no more than one snack) reduces the risk of dental caries. They seem to have overlooked that research funded by the WHO and carried out in England.”

However, she added that eating disorders are multifactorial and said PHE has a remit to reduce obesity in the UK population and becoming overweight or obese is linked to an excess calorie intake.

“Living in a family where parents or older siblings obsess about calories and weight is not a good environment for a child with the genetic potential to develop an eating disorder,” she told HuffPost UK. “However not every child living in that type of environment goes on to develop an eating disorder.”

Jan 13th 2018

4 Tips for Stocking a Kid-Friendly, Nontoxic Kitchen

By Molly M. Ginty

You shun Styrofoam tableware, buy organic oranges and even get your kids to eat leafy greens. But are you doing all you can to protect your children from toxic chemicals that may lurk inside their favorite foods?

"When it comes to pesticides, preservatives and other toxic chemicals, you need to set priorities for your family," said Kristi Pullen Fedinick, a staff scientist with Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) health program. "You may not be able to eliminate all potentially harmful chemicals from your kitchen, but you can work to minimize them."

Because their bodies are still developing and their neurological and endocrine systems are more sensitive than those of adults, kids are especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals that pollute food. A recent study in the medical journal Lancet concluded that "children are at high risk of pollution-related disease." Health issues that are linked to toxic chemicals found in food include asthma; reproductive deformities; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); the early onset of puberty; and learning disabilities, lower IQ and other neurological problems.

When pollutants in food are ingested by kids who happen to be going through growth spurts, it's especially risky. "The stage from infancy to age three and the pubescent phase are critical times when these chemicals' influence can be even larger because of how the body is developing," said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, a senior scientist in NRDC's Health program. "During these windows, even small exposures can potentially have long-term effects."

Here are four tips for reducing that risk at home.

1. Mix it up.

Stay vigilant about your family's menu choices. But don't allow your kids to get too fussy in turn. "Young children have a tendency to like eating only certain foods," Rotkin-Ellman said. "But there was a documented case of a kid who had mercury poisoning because of eating the same type of mercury-laced tuna-fish sandwiches day in and day out."

By exposing your children to as many flavors, textures and varieties of food as possible, you'll not only expand their horizons but also help them stay safe. "I have a three-year-old son," Rotkin-Ellman said, "and by cultivating variety in his diet, I'm lessening his chance of getting overexposed to any single toxic chemical."

2. Feed them plenty of fruits and veggies, but avoid pesticides.

When shopping for produce, it's especially important to make your selections free of chlorpyrifos. This common pesticide has been shown to delay development and cause neurological problems, yet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has recklessly approved it for continued use on our crops. To avoid exposure to chlorpyrifos and other pesticides toxic to kids, choose foods labeled USDA Organic.

"Organic food can be more expensive," said Rotkin-Ellman, "but from a health perspective, it's definitely beneficial for those fruits and vegetables your kids eat most." The Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists are helpful guides, especially when making decisions about which items to splurge on from your grocery's organic produce section. Items on the Dirty Dozen list include strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.

As an extra precaution, or when it's not possible to buy organic products, wash all produce thoroughly and carefully before eating it, and peel conventionally grown fruits and veggies.

3. Proteins are important, but stay away from those packed with mercury or raised with antibiotics.

When it comes to fish, the top concern is mercury. The toxic metal is often found in high concentrations in the bodies of fish toward the top of the food chain, such as tilefish, bluefish, grouper, king mackerel, swordfish and tuna. Children with prolonged or repeated exposure to mercury can suffer brain damage and learning disabilities. To avoid mercury contamination, serve smaller varieties of seafood, and look for mercury-free fish sticks for those who prefer finger food.

When buying meat, poultry and dairy, opt for products from animals raised without the routine use of antibiotics. This helps prevent the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in communities. Look for any of these labels: USDA Organic, USDA Process Verified Never Ever 3, Global Animal Partnership (GAP), American Grassfed, Certified Humane and Animal Welfare Approved. Note that while animal products bearing labels such as No Antibiotics Administered, No Antibiotics Added or Raised Without Antibiotics communicate the producer's commitment to responsible use, they are not third-party certified as coming from farms where routine use of antibiotics is prohibited. Fortunately, there are now more affordable options in this category, especially for chicken products.

4. Cut down on processed foods.

Scientists estimate that more than 3,000 chemicals are currently being added to foods during processing, often without safety testing first. Consider phthalates, additives that are used to make plastics soft and flexible. These harmful chemicals can make their way into food through packaging and the manufacturing process, and though they are known to disrupt hormones and impair neurological development in children, they "are used in much of the factory equipment that food goes through," said Rotkin-Ellman. "And as foods get more and more processed, their phthalate levels go up." In a recent analysis of macaroni and cheese powders by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging, of which NRDC is a member, phthalates were found in all 10 products sampled. The presence of these chemicals in "kid-friendly" foods is particularly troubling given that children's phthalates levels can be double those of adults.

While NRDC, our partners and concerned consumers continue to push for stricter regulation that prohibits risky chemicals in our food, here are some simple ways to protect your family:

·       Opt for simple, unrefined foods with as few additives and preservatives as possible. Think melted whole cheese and not cheese powder. "The closer you are to a product as it originated, the better off you are," said Rotkin-Ellman.

·       Avoid canned foods as much as possible. An estimated two-thirds of food can linings contain bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked to behavioral problems in children. And higher levels of BPA can be found in canned acidic foods, like tomatoes. Unfortunately, a BPA-free designation doesn't guarantee safety because companies often replace this chemical with related ones.

·       Don't buy foods containing artificial colorants and sweeteners. It's noteworthy that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers to list these additives generically on food labels without spelling out what the specific ingredients are. Not only are consumers kept in the dark about what they're eating, but, said Rotkin-Ellman, "some artificial colorants and sweeteners have been linked to cancer and ADHD in kids."

·       Have a baby starting solids? Choose oatmeal or multigrain cereals instead of rice cereal. A recent report found that infant rice cereal contained six times more arsenic than other varieties of infant cereals.

Jan 9th 2018

Apple vows new parental controls amid child addiction fears

Apple said it plans to introduce new features to help parents manage their children's use of its smartphones amid two major shareholders' concerns of young people becoming addicted to the company's iPhones.

"Apple has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online," an Apple representative said in a statement late Monday.

"We have new features and enhancements planned for the future, to add functionality and make these tools even more robust," the Apple representative added.

The statement came in response to an open letter, published Saturday, that asked Apple to take a socially responsible approach to helping parents navigate the tricky waters of phone ownership among kids.

"By doing so, we believe Apple would once again be playing a pioneering role, this time by setting an example about the obligations of technology companies to their youngest customers," wrote Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, which together own a $2 billion stake in Apple.

"There is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences," the investors wrote.

A 2016 report by social agency Influence Central said that the average age for children to get a phone was 10.3. Many manufacturers make cheaper and more basic entry-level phones aimed at children, but Apple products are still highly prized by children and teenagers.

Apple didn't describe the new features it has planned, but said parents already have the ability to control and restrict content on iOS devices, including apps, movies, websites and music. "Effectively anything a child could download or access online can be easily blocked or restricted by a parent," Apple said.

Dec 27th 2017

Window blinds aren't something one generally gives much thought to, but that could change after a study showed such fixtures to be a danger to small children. 

After analysing figures from 100 accident and emergency departments across America over a 26-year period (1990-2015), it was discovered that almost 170,000 injuries in children under the age of six were caused by window blinds or shades.

While the vast majority of cases (93.4%) were minor, around 271 proved fatal as a result of children becoming tangled in cords or chains.

It is clear that more precautions need to be taken to bring the number of blind-related injuries down. In a statement, the study's research team said:

"Although many of the injuries in this study were nonfatal and resulted in minor injuries, cases involving window blind cord entanglements frequently resulted in hospitalisation or death... A mandatory safety standard that eliminates accessible window blind cords should be adopted."

Safeguarding your children

To keep your kids safe at home, it is important that they know not to 'play' with blinds. Dr Gary Smith, co-author of the study from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, urged parents to be more proactive. He said:

"Kids live in a world designed by adults, for the convenience of adults, and child safety is all too often an afterthought."

The study's findings have prompted varied reactions on social media, with one user writing that "they should ban blinds, with the cords [sic]. My daughter almost died that way. I got the cord from her neck just in time," on Facebook.

For more information on child blind safety, read this factsheet from Direct Blinds or consider investing in cord safety clips.

The study was published in the journal Paediatrics.

Nov 26th 2017

A 21-year-old woman was refused a mince pie in Asda as she did not have her ID - so how boozy are these festive pastries and are they suitable for children?

The mince pie mix-up in Telford was down to a member of staff "trying to do the right thing" says Asda, where only foods containing "liquid" Christmas spirit are age-restricted.

But this week a concerned parent started a thread on Mumsnet entitled "feeding children mince pies with brandy in", asking: "Have I been getting my kids drunk on brandy?"

The consensus was "no", and as one member put it: "It's fine. It's not as if you handed them both a bottle of brandy and told them to crack on."

So how much alcohol is in a mince pie?

Chef Marcus Bean says he would be "surprised" if any shop-bought varieties 

contained much alcohol.

"I wouldn't worry about my children eating mince pies," he says. "We all love them and like to make our own.

"I use alcohol in cooking for my family as it gives an overall robust flavour.

"I haven't tested them but I'd say by the time I've cooked a recipe the amount of alcohol will have reduced, leaving very little left.

"If anyone is really worried, they should just make their own mincemeat - it's pretty easy to do.

"When buying if in doubt, check the ingredients and it will say if it contains any alcohol - some don't."

Should parents be worried?

Mother-of-two Laura Butler, 31, from Shropshire, says she wouldn't lose any sleep over her children eating a mince pie.

"I am very conscious of what I feed my children, keeping sweets and snacks to a minimum," she says.

"We do a lot of baking and cooking together and when we make mince pies at Christmas we leave the alcohol out.

"But if Marley eats a shop-bought one I'm not worried. The amount of alcohol in them will be minute.

"I can't say I've ever felt tipsy after one too many mince pies."

How many mince pies equate to a glass of wine?

Well that depends on how boozy the recipe is and the size of the pie, but where is the harm in a few sums?

BBC Good Food's recipe for "boozy mincemeat" makes 3.5kg or 7lb of the festive filling.

If we copy the ratios of Sainsbury's deep-filled mince pies, each one weighs 60g and the filling accounts for 47%.

So that means we will have 28.2g of our boozy mincemeat in each pie.

Our 3.5kg of mincemeat would make about 124 pies - it's a full house this year.

The recipe asks for 125ml of dark rum and 175ml of French brandy.

Divided by the 124 pies that's roughly 1ml of rum and 1.4ml of brandy. So altogether, 2.4ml of spirits.

There is one unit of alcohol in a standard 25ml measure of each of those spirits

So in theory, you'd have to eat more than 10 mince pies to take in the equivalent of a single unit of alcohol - but, as Mr Bean says, most of the alcohol content will have been lost during cooking so you're more likely to get full before you get tipsy.

Are mince pies safe for recovering alcoholics?

Some food banks ask people not to donate food that contains alcohol, like mince pies and Christmas puddings,

Sam Little at Silklife Foodbank in Macclesfield says this is because the taste of alcohol can act as a trigger for people who have experienced alcohol problems.

"The purpose of our food bank is to provide people with emergency food relief," he says.

"Our food parcels contain a wide variety of items, but we don't give out anything containing alcohol.

"This is out of respect to those people who may have some sort of struggle with alcohol addiction - we want to help people, not make life harder for them."

This story has been amended to clarify that 10 mince pies are unlikely to actually contain one unit of alcohol.


Nov 15th 2017

Grandparents pose a potential health risk to children and may even put them at risk of cancer, scientists say.

The increased risk comes from the greater likelihood that grandmothers and grandfathers will spoil youngsters with treats.

They are also more likely to expose them to second-hand tobacco smoke - a major cause of cancer, researchers say.

Despite meaning well, grandparents were found to have a harmful effect on their grandchildren's health.

Lead author Dr Stephanie Chambers, of the University of Glasgow's public health sciences unit, said: "While the results of this review are clear that behaviour such as exposure to smoking and regularly treating children increases cancer risks as children grow into adulthood, it is also clear from the evidence that these risks are unintentional.

"Currently, grandparents are not the focus of public health messaging targeted at parents and in light of the evidence from this study, perhaps this is something that needs to change given the prominent role grandparents play in the lives of children."

The findings are based on a review of the impact grandparents can have on the lifestyle factors that are thought to increase the risk of cancer.

The Glasgow team said they analysed data from 56 studies in 18 countries that examined the possible influence of grandparents on their grandchildren's health.

Poor diet, excess weight, smoking and lack of physical activity are all known to increase the risk of cancer, said the researchers.

Overall, grandparents were found to have a negative effect on children's health.

The phenomenon is coming under increasing scrutiny as social trends - such as the growing proportion of women in the workforce, rising childcare costs, and increasing numbers of single parents - result in more children being placed in the care of their grandparents.

The authors emphasised that none of the reviewed studies took account of the positive emotional benefit of children spending time with their grandparents.

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: "Finding a doting grandparent who is confident enough to follow rules laid down by mum and to the letter is frequently a rarity.

"The thought of losing children when out in the park may result in the kids being under house arrest - sweeties on demand and woefully short on exercise.

"Unfortunately... parents increasingly need to rely on this free form of childminding."

Oct 25th 2017

With all the excitement about Halloween. Let us just settle down and look at the basics.

Oct 4th 2017

Over the summer, my husband and I looked at a few homes and we noticed that many of the styles of homes that we seemed to favor also seemed to have one thing in common: all of the children's bedrooms were on different floors than the master bedroom.

Instantly, visions of how different our life could be flashed through my mind. On one hand, um, awesomeness, after years of children filing in and out of our room at all hours of the day and night, how amazing would it be to actually have a real sanctuary away from our little blessings?

But on the other hand, visions of everything that could terribly, terribly wrong also flashed through my mind. What would happen in the event of a fire? Would we be able to hear them if there was an emergency in the middle of the night? How could I possibly make living on two separate levels work?

Before we made any decisions, I did some research and found a heartbreaking story of just how dangerous having kids on a different level can really be. Remembering Sammie Joyce Volmert is a Facebook page started by Keri Hall Volmert, who shared the tragic incident that happened with her 17-month-old daughter, Sammie Joyce.

What happened next is something out of every parent's worst nightmare. When Sammie's dad went to retrieve her from her crib, like he did every morning, only to enter the room to find his daughter already gone.

"The desperation and screeching panic in my husband's voice the next morning as he went to retrieve her from upstairs is something I will never forget," Volmert described. "I was in the kitchen making coffee and as soon as he screamed 'Keri!' I knew something was terribly wrong. I froze and he yelled my name again as he ran down the upstairs hallway."

The horrified parents tried to resuscitate their baby, unsuccessfully, and she was pronounced dead 50 minutes later at the emergency room. They would later learn that the cause of their daughter's death was a malfunctioning upstairs heater. Their house was controlled by two separate heating systems, so the parents—sleeping downstairs—were unaware as the temperature climbed during the night, eventually killing their daughter.

Volmert explained that although the upstairs thermostat was set to 72 degrees, the temperature actually reached well over 100 degrees. Doctors told the grieving parents that their daughter probably never even woke up, as children can't regulate their body temperatures like adults can.

Volmert has shared their story in hopes of raising awareness about how parents can help to protect their own children—especially if they are on different levels in their houses. As Volmert described on her page, she was heartbroken to realize, too late, that she had taken so many precautions when her babies were little to ensure they were safe while they were sleeping—sleep sacks to prevent blankets getting on their faces, no stuffed animals or pillows and keeping them in bassinets in their own rooms until they were six months old—but had never considered room temperature to be a possible hazard.

Sadly, the Volmert's aren't the only family to lose a child to a malfunctioning heating system and they, along with other bereft families, urge other parents to take simple precautions to avoid any danger. "We want others (especially those with two-story homes) to hear Sammie's story so that children can be protected and other families spared from the horrific grief we are forced to endure each day," she explains.

I have to admit that Volmert's story was incredibly difficult to read and almost overwhelming because it feels like everywhere you look, there are dangers to our kids. But reading her story, I did focus on three simple ways I could keep my own kids safe if we end up choosing a house that will have our children on separate levels of the home:

1. Get a baby monitor with a room temperature alarm. I didn't know these existed, but they might be the most effective way to prevent a death like Sammie's.

2. Have a smoke and carbon monoxide monitor in every room and hallway that are also linked to a downstairs so if one goes off, they all do.

3. Place ladders in every room in case of a fire and be sure to run through a fire drill with the entire family.

Sammie would have been three years old last month and her family honored her life by donating supplies to victims of Hurricane Harvey. They ended up taking a full Suburban and a 16-foot trailer down to Texas to drop off donations to families who had lost so much. A family who has given so much already continues to give on through their daughter's story and to other families who are grieving.

Sept 18th 2017

Protective parents at the playground who can't bear to let their little ones go down the slide on their own might be surprised to hear that it's actually the best thing to do.

For generations, adults have clambered on to the slide and put their children in their lap so they aren't injured on the way down.

But they're actually putting them at an increased risk of being hurt by doing so.

American scientists studied the 352,698 cases of slide injuries in the US between 2002 and 2015.

Toddlers had the highest casualty rate and the most common type of injury was a fracture, usually involving the lower leg.

Most surprising was that scientists found adults carrying children were largely to blame for the injuries, the Birmingham Mail reports .

Dr Charles Jennissen, from the University of Iowa, said: "Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought.

"And in most cases I have seen, the parents had no idea that doing so could possibly give their child such a significant injury. They often say they would never have done it had they known."

Why is it more dangerous?

The fractures most commonly occurred when a child sitting in the adult's lap got their foot caught on the side or bottom of the slide, resulting in their leg twisting, bending backwards and breaking.

When children are on their own going down a slide, not only are they less likely to catch their feet but, if they do, they are not as heavy and so the force isn't as powerful and the child is unlikely to suffer as severe an injury.

But when they are sitting in an adult's lap, because of the greater weight the force generated by the forward momentum reaches a point where bones can easily be broken.

June 23rd 2017

Girls as young as six are risking health problems by wearing heels, experts have warned.

For research has revealed star-struck youngsters keen to copy pop idols like Taylor Swift and Little Mix are demanding fashionable shoes that are unsuitable for growing feet.

Almost one in ten girls start to wear a three quarter inch heel from the age of six which can shorten calf muscles and put pressure on the ball of the foot, The College of Podiatry said.

A fifth of parents revealed they felt under pressure from little princesses to splash out on trendy sandals, boots and shoes.

The foot specialists said sloppy flats like flip-flops, ballet pumps and plimsolls could be just as bad if worn regularly as they can cause deformed toes.

According to the organisation, the lack of support in flimsy footwear means feet slide up and down to keep the shoes on, causing damage to the toes or forcing “toes to claw to help keep the shoe on”.

Its research found a third of kids wore slip-ons like ballet pumps and a quarter had a pair of flip flops.

Worringly, the study found millions of children are in danger of suffering long term damage to their feet by wearing shoes that are too tight or unsuitable.

Dr Stewart Morrison of the College of Podiatry said problems include callouses, blisters, bruising and even joint or ligament problems in the future.

The survey of 2,000 parents revealed more than half of children have hurt their feet in ill fitting shoes.

It raised concerns that four in ten parents have delayed buying new shoes for their child despite complaints that their current ones were painful to wear.

Nine in ten parents have bought off the shelf shoes for children without a proper fitting or having the child’s feet measured.

Four in ten said they could find the correct shoe size themselves but one in ten admitted they had no idea what their child’s correct size was.

And four in ten kids were fobbed off with hand me downs without any checks made over how they fitted.

Cost was an issue with a third of parents who struggled to find cash for new shoes and more than half turned to supermarkets or budget shoe shops rather head for a store with a measuring service.

One in 20 parents said they were unaware kids could be measured for footwear and a similar number said their little darlings did not sit still long enough to have their feet measured.

Dr Morrison said: “It’s worrying that so many children are wearing shoes which either don’t fit them properly or are not suitable for everyday wear.

“Children’s feet are still growing and are more susceptible to damage than adult feet, so it’s really vital to ensure they are wearing shoes which fit them well - in width as well as length - and that are suitable for age, as well as the task they are wearing them for.

“We recommend parents have their children’s feet measured and their everyday shoes fitted by a professional.

“For a young child aged one to three-years-old, foot changes can happen very quickly and parents should have their feet measured approximately every eight weeks, and for older children, we would advise every three to four months. This would be particularly important during growth spurt.”

The College of Podiatry is now urging parents to buy sturdy shoes such as lace-ups or those with Velcro straps which “act like a seatbelt in a car, holding the shoe onto the foot”.

Leather is said to be the best material as it is flexible, soft and hard wearing while any heel should be a quarter of an inch “to provide sufficient shock absorption.”

The perfect shape to safeguard toes is “foot shaped and not pointed or excessively tapered”.

Dr Morrison said: “It is important that we raise more attention about children’s foot health and encourage parents to check their children’s feet regularly.”

June 23rd 2017

Since bursting on the scene earlier this year, fidget spinners have had mixed press.

While they've become the must-have toy of 2017, there have also been reports of them being the cause of injuries and accidents .

With this in mind, there have been numerous concerns about the propeller-shaped gadgets' safety, with several schools banning them.

But parents and teachers like could not be blamed for having concerns over the "toy" that's touted to take the place of fidget spinners.

Handheld mini-crossbows, or toothpick crossbows, have been produced as kids' toys in China, The Guardian reports.

Worried parents want them banned before they take off amid fears a child could end up blinded.

The crossbows are selling for the equivalent of as little as 80 pence, can be purchased online and are designed to fire out just toothpicks.

However, graver damage could occur if the toothpick gets substituted for a needle or nail - and could be strong enough to shatter glass.

Worryingly, according to the Shanghai Daily newspaper, the items are also selling out fast.

June 13th 2017

Trying to catch all the parents who have not read this.

April 5th 2017

Nappy Sack Safety

Experts are warning parents to be aware of the danger posed by nappy sacks - claiming they have caused at least 16 baby deaths in Britain.

The flimsy plastic bags are used for the disposal of dirty nappies but have also been responsible for a number of tragic accidents.

According to campaigners, at least 16 infants aged under 12 months have suffocated or choked on the bags.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is now calling for the industry to improve standards.

The charity also said a recent survey carried out by Trading Standards show a number of nappy sacks are not adequately labelled.

On Monday RoSPA held the Nappy Sack Safety Stakeholder event in London to bring the issue to the attention of businesses and customers.

Among those speaking was Sam Brough, who lost her five-month-old daughter Harley in 2013 when a nappy sack was accidentally knocked into her cot.

She is keen to raise awareness of the issue and ensure that everything is being done to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Sheila Merrill, public health adviser for RoSPA, said: "We want to maximise public awareness of this serious risk to young lives, and develop a code of practice for the manufacture and labelling of nappy sacks.

"Where these deaths have occurred, typically the sacks have been stored within the baby’s reach, close to the baby’s cot, including under the mattress, usually for convenience.

"The parents clearly have not made any association between the nappy sacks and any sort of risk from suffocation or choking.

"We can change this with adequate education and awareness, but we also want manufacturers to consider safety approaches such as making them unscented, producing them on a roll rather than as individual sheets, or new packaging."

For more information on nappy sack safety, see www.rospa.com/campaigns-fundraising/current/nappy-sacks.


March 23rd 2017

A four-year-old boy saved his mother’s life by calling 999 when she fell unconscious, police said.

The child from London, told the call handler that his name was "Roman" and he thought his "mummy" was dead because “she’s closing her eyes and she’s not breathing”.

He used his mother’s mobile phone to make the call.

London's Metropolitan Police released a clip of the conversation to remind parents how important it is to teach young children their address and how to use 999 in an emergency.

Roman was able to give his exact address in Kenley, Croydon and local officers and an ambulance were dispatched immediately to the family home.

Thirteen minutes after receiving the call, officers arrived and managed to force entry into the house where they found the boy, his twin brother, younger brother and their mother, who was lying unconscious on the floor.

Paramedics were able to give life-saving first aid to the woman and she was taken to hospital after regaining consciousness at the home, police said.

It later emerged that the boy used his mother's smartphone to get in touch with paramedics, after unlocking it by pressing her thumb on the phone. He then used the Siri function to ask for help and the app dialled 999, putting him through to emergency services.

Chief Superintendent Ade Adelekan said: “Hearing this call brings home the importance of teaching your young child their home address and how to call police or emergency services in an emergency situation.

”If you do nothing else today, then I'd implore any parents of young children to sit down with them and make sure they know what to do in this kind of situation and that they know how to contact police or other emergency services in an emergency. As this case demonstrates so poignantly, it could really be the difference between life and death."

He added: “It's an amazing story and thanks to his quick thinking and by asking 'Siri' for help, this little boy saved his mum's life and it means she is still here and can be extremely proud of him and his brothers.”

August 20th 2016

Safety basics

Don't forget to slap on the sun screen

It is a good idea to print off this list so that you can cross off the items you are satisfied with on safety_tips_children.


  • Are knives, forks, scissors, and other sharp tools in a drawer with a childproof latch?
  • Have you installed a dishwasher lock so kids can't open it while it's running and can't reach breakable dishes, knives, and other dangerous objects?
  • Have you installed a stove lock and have knob protectors been placed on the stove knobs?
  • Are chairs and stepstools positioned away from the stove?
  • When cooking, are all pot handles on the stove turned inward or placed on back burners where kids can't reach them?
  • Are glass objects and appliances with sharp blades stored out of reach?
  • Is the garbage can behind a cabinet door with a childproof latch?
  • Are all appliances unplugged when not in use, with cords out of reach?
  • Are all vitamin or medicine bottles tightly closed and stored in a high cabinet far from reach?
  • Are matches and lighters stored in a locked cabinet?
  • Is the cabinet under the sink free of cleaning supplies, bug sprays, dishwasher detergent, and dishwashing liquids? And are these supplies out of the reach of children?
  • Are any bottles containing alcohol stored out of reach?
  • Are all plastic garbage bags and sandwich bags out of reach?
  • Are any cords or wires from wall telephones or cable TV out of reach?
  • Are refrigerator magnets and other small objects out of reach?
  • Are childproof latches installed on all cabinet doors?
  • Is there a working fire extinguisher? Do family members know how to use it?
  • Does your child's highchair have a safety belt with a strap between the legs?

Safety_tips_children for Room/Bedroom

  • Does your baby's changing table have a safety belt?
  • Are all painted cribs, bassinets, and high chairs made after 1978? (Prior to this, paint was lead based.)
  • Are crib slats less than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters) apart?
  • Are the crib's headboard and footboard free of large cut-outs?
  • Is all of the hardware on the crib secure?
  • Is the crib mattress firm and flat? Does it fit snugly in the crib?
  • Is the crib free of a drop side?
  • Is the crib free of soft pillows, large stuffed animals, bumper pads, and soft bedding?
  • Have any strings or ribbons been clipped off hanging mobiles and crib toys?
  • Are window blind and curtain cords tied with clothespins or specially designed cord clips? Are they kept well out of reach and away from cribs?
  • Are dressers secured to walls with drawers closed?
  • Do the lids on toy chests or toy storage containers have a lid support to keep them from slamming shut? Are all toy chests non-locking?
  • Has a window guard been placed on any window that isn't an emergency exit?
  • Are any night-lights in the room not touching any fabric like bedspreads or curtains?
  • Does your child wear flame-retardant sleepwear?
  • Is there a smoke alarm outside the bedroom?
  • Have you removed all drawstrings from your child's clothing?

  Tips for Adult's Bedroom

  • Are all medication bottles, loose pills, coins, scissors, and any other small or sharp objects out of reach?
  • Are window blind and curtain cords tied with clothespins or specially designed cord clips?

If you own firearms:

  • Are they stored in a securely locked case out of kids' reach? All firearms should be stored unloaded and in the un-cocked position.
  • Is ammunition stored in a separate place and in a securely locked container out of kids' reach?
  • Are keys kept where kids can't find them? 

  •  Walls & Floors
  • Are walls in good condition, with no peeling or cracking paint (which could contain lead in older homes)?
  • Are there any nails in the walls that should be removed?
  • Are mirrors and frames hung securely?
  • Are rugs secured to floors or fitted with anti-slip pads underneath?

Doors & Windows

  • Have you installed a finger-pinch guard on doors?
  • Have you removed the rubber tips from all door stops or installed one-piece door stops?
  • Have you placed doorknob covers on doors so that your toddler won't be able to leave the house?
  • Do all glass doors in the house contain decorative markers so they won't be mistaken for open doors?
  • Do all sliding doors have childproof locks?
  • Are there safety bars or window guards installed on upper-story windows?
  • Are there window stops to keep the windows from closing all the way?
  • Are window blind cords tied with clothespins or specially designed cord clips?


  • Are bookshelves and other furniture secured with wall brackets so they can't be tipped over?
  • Is there protective padding on corners of coffee tables, furniture, and countertops that have sharp edges?
  • Do toy chests and other chests have safety hinges to prevent them from closing?
  • Have you checked that all used or hand-me-down baby equipment hasn't been recalled?
  • Are flat screen TVs mounted securely on the wall? Are older, heavy TVs on a low, stable piece of furniture?
  • Are there stops on all removable drawers to prevent them from falling out?
  • Are beds and cribs away from windows?


  • Are there hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of every stairway?
  • Are stairways clear of tripping hazards, such as loose carpeting or toys?
  • Have you placed a guard on banisters and railings if your child can fit through the rails?
  • Are the railings and banisters secure?
  • Is the door to the basement steps kept locked?
  • Is there enough light in the stairway?
  • Electrical
  • Are all unused outlets covered with safety plugs?
  • Are all major electrical appliances grounded?
  • Have cord holders been used to keep longer cords fastened against walls?
  • Have you checked for and removed other potential electrical fire hazards, such as overloaded electrical sockets and electrical wires running under carpets?
  • Are televisions, computers, and stereo equipment positioned against walls?

Heating & Cooling Elements

  • Are all radiators and baseboard heaters covered with childproof screens if necessary?
  • Have gas fireplaces been secured with a valve cover or key?
  • Do all working fireplaces have a screen and other barriers in place when in use?
  • Have any chimneys been cleaned recently?
  • Are all electric space heaters at least 3 feet (91 centimeters) from beds, curtains, or anything flammable?
Emergency Equipment & Numbers
  • Have you placed a list of emergency phone numbers near each phone in your home?
  • Are there fire extinguishers installed on every floor and in the kitchen?
  • Do you have an emergency ladder for the upper floors of your home?
  • Are there smoke detectors on each floor of your home?
  • Have smoke detectors been installed in the hallways between all bedrooms of your home?
  • Have you tested all smoke detectors within the last month?
  • Have you changed the batteries in the smoke detectors within the past 6 months?
  • If you cook with or heat your home with natural gas or have an attached garage, have you considered installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home?
  • Outdoors/Backyard/Pool
  • Are all walkways and outdoor stairways well lit?
  • Are all walkways clear of toys, objects, or anything blocking a clear path?
  • Are all sidewalks and outdoor stairways clear of concrete cracks or missing pieces?
  • Are all garbage cans securely covered?
  • Are all swing sets parts free from rust, splinters, and sharp edges?
  • Are all parts on swing sets or other outdoor equipment securely fastened?
  • Is the surface beneath the swing set soft enough (cushioned with material such as sand, mulch, wood chips, or approved rubber surfacing mats) to absorb the shock of a fall?
  • Are all outdoor toys put away in a secure, dry place when not in use?
  • Is there climb-proof fencing at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) high on all sides of the pool? Does the fence have a self-closing gate with a childproof lock?
  • Have all ladders been removed from an above-ground pool when not in use?
Other Safety Issues
  • Have you removed any potentially poisonous houseplants?
  • Have you instituted a no-smoking rule in your home to protect kids from environmental tobacco smoke?
  • Have you considered possible health risks from — and if indicated, tested for — lead, radon, asbestos, mercury, mold, and carbon monoxide?
  • If there are guns in the home, have they been placed in a locked cabinet with the key hidden and the ammunition locked separately?
  • Do you always supervise your child around pets, especially dogs?
  • Bathroom
  • Is the thermostat on the hot water heater set below 120°F (49°C)?
  • Are razor blades, nail scissors, and other sharp tools stored in a locked cabinet?
  • Are childproof latches installed on all drawers and cabinets?
  • Do the outlets have ground fault circuit interrupters (which protect against electrocution if an electrical appliance gets wet)? (If you live in an older home that may not be "up to code," have an electrician inspect your circuit breaker panel.)
  • Are toilets always left closed? Is there a toilet-lid lock on the toilet?
  • Are all hair dryers, curling irons, and electric razors unplugged when not in use?
  • Are there nonskid strips on the bottoms of bathtubs?
  • Are there nonslip pads under rugs to hold them securely to the floor?
  • Are all prescription and nonprescription medications, cosmetics, and cleaners stored in a locked cabinet? Are childproof caps on all medications?
  • Are bottles of mouthwash, perfumes, hair dyes, hair sprays, nail polishes, and nail polish removers stored in a locked cabinet?

Garage & Laundry Area

  • Are all tools and supplies used for gardening, automotive, and lawn care stored safely away from children?
  • Are all hazardous automotive, pool, and gardening products in a locked area?
  • Are recycling containers storing glass and metal out of reach? Are garbage cans covered?
  • Are all bleaches, detergents, and any other cleaning products out of reach?
  • Washing machine chemicals in plastic sashes locked away, dish washer chemicals as well?
  • Are laundry chutes locked with childproof locks?

It seems a lot to think about. But then nothing is more precious than your children, and we know that you will do everything you can to protect them.

If you've worked through this list and are satisfied, well done, now how about sending it to the friends that you visit with your child.

Please share it on Facebook or any other social site, make people aware, let no one die of ignorance

Thank you

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