Outbreaks and vaccinations

childhood vaccinationsThe canary in the coal mine

Late last week I read the troubling story about a recent polio outbreak in Syria. Although polio, thanks to the vaccine, has been almost eradicated in most parts of the world, it is still present in several middle eastern countries.

Because of political unrest and the huge numbers of refugees fleeing to Europe, world public health officials worry about more widespread outbreaks of this crippling, and deadly, disease.

Outbreaks of highly contagious, but preventable, diseases have become more common because of the anti-vaccination movement. And as these like-minded individuals tend to settle … Continue reading

In favor of vaccines

vaccinesYes, I support vaccines. It’s simple.

Vaccines save lives. Vaccines prevent illness. Illness prevention saves money.

I was happy to see read an article this morning by mom and Huffington Post journalist JJ Keith also speaking up in favor of vaccines: “I’m coming out…as pro-vaccine”

Ms. Keith tells the story of two children, Jack and Clio, who are both being treated for leukemia and therefore cannot be vaccinated against measles. Because other children (by their parents’ decision) are not vaccinated, this puts Jack and Clio at even higher risk of contracting and dying from this very preventable disease.

An increasing Continue reading

Is “screen sightedness” for real?

screen sightednessAn epidemic of nearsightedness?

A story making the media rounds this month is that more children and young adults are being diagnosed with myopia, or nearsightedness, and smartphones might be to blame.

I couldn’t find the actual study online, but it came out of the UK where a laser eye surgeon claims there has been a 35% increase in nearsightedness–screen sightedness, he has dubbed it–since 1997. He believes smartphones are a cause, and warns that the problem will only get worse.

Without being able to see the actual study, it’s difficult to assess this claim. Perhaps as a Lasik surgeon, … Continue reading

Parents: Don’t insist on CT scans!

ct scans on childrenToo many CT scans ordered on children

This morning I read a post by a pediatric intensive care (PICU) doctor who admitted too many CT scans are still being given to children, despite recent evidence that radiation exposure from the scans carries a not insignificant future risk of cancer.

I posted about the results of this study a couple of months ago: Children are more “radiosensitive” than adults; CT scanners can vary dramatically in the amount of radiation exposure; and radiation exposure is cumulative–more CT scans relate to a higher risk.

This doctor focused on the overuse of … Continue reading

Melatonin: Not a sleeping pill for children

The “sleep supplement”

I am a chronically poor sleeper, and I have tried melatonin, the sleep supplement,  in the past. I have friends that swear by it,  but it never worked for me.

Plus, I could never get a straight answer from any source about the therapeutic dosage – 1 mg, 3 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg? Should I only take it as needed, or is melatonin safe to take every night, forever?

As a supplement (it’s actually a hormone), melatonin falls under the extremely loose guidelines of the Dietary Supplement Health And Education Act  (DSHEA) of 1994. It … Continue reading

First aid for poisoning

Poisoning deaths are on the rise

Why? Drugs. And I don’t mean heroine or cocaine. Legal prescription opioids, pain pills such as hydrocodone, are involved in more drug poisoning deaths than illegal drugs.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports that 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths are caused by drugs. And since 2009 more people have died as a result of all types of drug poisoning, whether accidental or intentional, than car accidents.

We usually associate poisoning with children, but the largest increase in poisonings has been in the 20-59 year old age range, again related to … Continue reading

What parents should know: Protecting children from unnecessary CT radiation exposure

ct radiation exposureCT scans increase a child’s risk of developing cancer

A year ago the British medical journal, The Lancet, published a study looking at the potential cancer risk to children from using CT scans.

CT scans use ionizing radiation, and children are considered more “radiosensitive” than adults.

The Lancet study concluded there was “… a positive association between radiation dose from CT scans and leukaemia” and recommended “…although clinical benefits should outweigh the small absolute risks, radiation doses from CT scans ought to be kept as low as possible and alternative procedures, which do not involve ionising radiation, should be Continue reading

Diet for cancer prevention

My belief as a frugal nurse is that each of us has the power to improve our health and lower our health care costs. Prevention is key, and in my posts I advocate such preventive actions as vaccinations, hand washing, adequate sleep, drug safety, exercise and a healthy diet.

Diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and, I think, is crucial to cancer prevention.

Therefore, I read with keen interest a recent post by David Katz, MD, on the HuffPost Healthy Living Blog.

Dr. Katz interviewed a one-time student, Nicole Larizza, a nutritionist currently … Continue reading