HOW TO DETERMINE THE SEVERITY OF HEART MURMURS

Robin Doroshow, MD,  a cardiologist at the Children’s National, a specialist in fetal echocardiogram wrote for “Rise and Shine” that heart murmurs are extra or unusual sounds made by blood circulating through heart valves, or through blood vessels near the heart. Although they sound scary, most children with heart murmurs are fine, according to a Children’s National Health System’s Robin Doroshow, MD, a pediatric cardiologist in the Fetal Heart Program, which is part of Children’s National Heart Institute.

“The vast majority of children who have heart murmurs do not have heart disease. They just have a noise in their heart,” Dr. Doroshow said. “But there are many, many innocent murmurs, and most murmurs are not abnormal at all.”

In this video, Dr. Doroshow shares her insight on how pediatricians can distinguish the severity of heart murmurs when deciding whether to refer patients with heart murmurs to cardiologists. “Doctors are trained to listen for different murmurs and what might represent something significant, and which ones are likely innocent or normal,” Dr. Doroshow said. Read more

Organic Foods

Basket with organic apples on the grass in the autumn orchardNutritionFacrs.org  asks, “Are organic foods healthier and safer?”

You may be surprised to learn that a review of hundreds of studies found that organic foods don’t seem to have significantly more vitamins and minerals. They do, however, appear to have more nontraditional nutrients, like polyphenol antioxidants, perhaps because conventionally grown plants given high-dose synthetic nitrogen fertilizers may divert more resources to growth rather than defense. This may be why organic berries, for example, appear to suppress cancer growth better than conventional berries in vitro.

Based on its elevated antioxidant levels, organic produce may be considered 20 to 40 percent healthier, the equivalent of adding one or two servings’ worth to a five-a-day regimen. But people don’t just buy organic foods because they’re healthier—what about safety?

Conventional produce appears to have twice the levels of cadmium, one of three toxic heavy metals in the food supply, along with mercury and lead. What about pesticide residues? Buying organic foods may reduce your exposure to pesticides, but not eliminate them entirely. Pesticide residues have reportedly been detected in 11 percent of organic crop samples due to accidental or fraudulent use, cross-contamination from neighboring non-organic fields, or the lingering presence of persistent pollutants like DDT in the soil.

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How Can Martial Arts Help with Childhood Obesity, Mental Health, and Habits?

Robert from wayofmartialarts.com shared with Healthy Lombard that millions of things make martial arts an excellent option for everybody to start practicing regardless of age, gender, or physical condition. They will boost your strength, stamina, flexibility, confidence, and mental toughness while reducing stress levels.

Apart from all those general benefits, there are also more specific ways that martial arts can help you lead a much more healthy and fulfilled life. Children with obesity problems, attention deficit disorders, or people with mental health issues can all have huge benefits from practicing martial arts.

We’ve developed a list of concrete examples of how martial arts can help with childhood obesity, mental health, and habits.

Martial Arts Help Fight Children Obesity

Nowadays, more and more children suffer from obesity from the youngest age, especially in the western cultural circle. That has a lot to do with our modern way of life: spending more time sitting in front of screens than ever before, which means less exercise and movement whatsoever.

Plus, often we don’t have the time to cook, so we settle for fast food and junk that has no nutritional value and only makes us fat. Children spend less time outdoors doing any physical activity, and when you combine that with a poor diet, they become obese.

That’s where martial arts can play a crucial role in the child’s development and fight obesity, even when dealing with extreme cases. The body has a much higher ability to change and adapt; hence physical exercise will have a more significant effect.

Every martial art is unique in one way or another, but they all have in common that they are all great full-body workouts, regardless of what techniques they are using: striking, grappling, or both.

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Remote Learning During Covid-19 Is Causing Children to Gain Weight, Doctors Warn

White protective mask on young patientKate King in the WSJ reported that pediatricians are warning that the coronavirus pandemic’s protracted disruption of in-person schooling, sports, and other activities is leading to weight gain that could have long-lasting impacts on children’s health.

Students are snacking more and exercising less, and nutritionists and doctors who study obesity worry the pandemic is putting children at greater risk for type-two diabetes and asthma, among other health concerns.

“We’re seeing a lot of elementary school-aged kids who are gaining 20 to 30 pounds in a year,” said Hai Cao, a pediatrician, and owner of South Slope Pediatrics in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Brittany Wilson, a physician assistant with Island Kids Pediatrics on Staten Island, N.Y., said the pandemic seems to have accelerated weight gain among patients who were already overweight. Children 6 to 12 years old seem to be gaining the most.

“Even kids in grammar school are getting depressed,” Ms. Wilson said. “They miss their friends. A lot of them aren’t doing as well academically. With depression also comes weight gain. They’re bored, and I think they’re comfort-eating.”

Studies have shown that being in the classroom helps keep students’ weights in check, especially children who live in low-income neighborhoods. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 resulted in new federal nutrition standards for school meals, including serving more fruits and vegetables.

Students who attend schools offering more-nutritious foods have healthier weights, according to research by Michael Yedidia of Rutgers University and Punam Ohri-Vachaspati of Arizona State University, who have been tracking the heights and weights of tens of thousands of New Jersey children who live in low-income communities since 2008.

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FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN A RETURN TO IN-PERSON SCHOOLING

White protective mask on young patientRise and Shine posted that school systems around the world are grappling with rising coronavirus cases in their communities and how to continue to operate and/or reopen safely for in-person learning. They are also facing rising inequities due to the challenges of virtual learning and the digital divide. Parents around the nation are wrestling with similar decisions about whether to send their children to school for in-person learning.

While virtual learning has been a necessary adjustment during the pandemic, particularly when we knew little about schools and the risk of COVID-19 transmission, we also know there is no substitute for in-person learning. When children are physically in school, they have access to supports and services that enhance their development, including in-person academic instruction; the stability of routines; physical exercise; nutritious meals; social connection with other students, teachers, and staff; medical services such as oral health, mental health, and physical health services as well as therapies like speech and physical therapy; and contact with a network of supportive adults who can build relationships with children.

Questions to consider when deciding to return to school

Every decision about returning to school should start at home, and there are a number of questions to consider.

  • Who is living in the home? Is there anyone who is an elderly adult or immunocompromised and therefore at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection?
  • Does your child have special therapy needs that are best served in-person at school?
  • If your child returns to school in-person, do you have a back-up plan for childcare or supervision of virtual learning if the school has to close due to a COVID-positive case?
  • What is your family’s tolerance for risk?
  • Are you living with a high level of anxiety in your household such that a return to in-person school would be detrimental to the mental health of individuals in your household? Or is virtual learning a major strain on your family and your child’s social and/or academic development, such that a return to in-person schooling would be more supportive?
  • Do you have stable internet access and enough devices for each child who would be learning virtually?
  • For older children, you may want to ask them what their thoughts are: what have they heard about returning to school in person? Do they feel they will be able to adhere to masking and physical distancing requirements in school? What concerns and preferences do they have?

Review your school’s reopening plan

The next thing to review is the plan for reopening at your child’s school. Any reopening plan should, at a minimum, address the following areas:

  • Masking protocols: Is your child’s school requiring masking of all students ages 2 and up as recommended by public health experts? Is the school providing masks for students, staff and families who don’t have access to them?
  • Hand hygiene and physical plant cleaning protocols: Has your child’s school indicated the plans for encouraging hand hygiene among students and staff? Have they issued plans for frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces such as door handles?
  • Physical distancing: Is your child’s school making efforts to decrease the number of people on campus each day, either through cohorting students in a hybrid curriculum (part-time in school and part-time virtual learning) and/or through limiting visitors and other non-school staff on campus?
  • Ventilation: Has the school consulted with a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) specialist regarding the air filtration in the school and any necessary upgrades to increase air flow and filtration?
  • Communication and cooperation with the local department of health: Does your child’s school have a plan to communicate with students and families if there is a case of coronavirus in the school community and to coordinate a response with the local department of health?

We’re learning more and more about COVID-19 and schools every day. The “right” decision is highly personal and involves family dynamics and characteristics, your child’s academic progress and mental health, and your school and community environment. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician to discuss this important decision. We’re here for you.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Danielle DooleyDanielle Dooley, MD, is a general pediatrician who specializes in immigrant child health and school health. As Medical Director of Community Affairs and Population Health, she provides advocacy education for residents and faculty, participates in a new social determinant of health resource connection initiative within the primary care clinics, and develops collaborations and strategies to improve population health for children across the institution and the District of Columbia.


Olanrewaju FalusiOlanrewaju Falusi, MD, is a pediatrician at Children’s National and Medical Director for Advocacy Education at Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI) and an Assistant Director for the LAUnCH Track in the Pediatric Residency Program. Her clinical, education, and research interests focus on how social factors – including poverty, immigrant status, and many others – affect the health of children, and how this growing body of research can help us to improve patient care and advocacy on an individual and community level.

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Why NOW is a GREAT Time for Frosted Apple

Winter fun kid playing having a fun in snowDr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez and Dr. John Rausch, shared with CNN that pediatricians like them have seen it over and over again in the last few months — kids who have put on 5, sometimes 10, at times even 20 pounds — since the onset of the pandemic.

In a year filled with so much tragedy and suffering, it would be easy to dismiss a few extra pounds in a child or to think of weight gain as a problem to be solved once the pandemic recedes. But the weight gain we are seeing in kids is neither trivial nor can it wait.
The specifics leading to weight gain vary. Sometimes it’s Dad, who recently took over the cooking and may be overfeeding the kids; other times it’s Grandma, who has been spoiling them now that they’re home; for still others, favorite sports are no longer an option, or they’ve stopped going outside altogether.
Through the many stories they hear in their practices, one fact remains: The pandemic created the perfect conditions for kids to gain weight, and they have.

Deprived of nutrition and activity

What they are seeing in their offices — which serve mainly Black and Brown children — was predictable. As a result of what became an unnecessarily prolonged crisis, countless kids in this country have been deprived of the nutrition and opportunity for physical activity they previously received in school.
The loss of structured in-person learning has, in turn, disrupted other aspects of children’s lives — what was previously an 8 p.m. bedtime on a school night became 9 p.m. or later, until there was no bedtime. As parents juggled working from home while overseeing online learning, mealtimes changed, portion sizes became bigger, and snacks became more common.
One way to address this dilemma?    Sign up for Frosted Apple Fitness.   It’s easy, and it’s FREE.  Just click here.

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Can Video Games be More Than Just a Recreational Activity

close up of woman hands using tablet outdoor - connection wireless social network internet onlineCollege of DuPage Matthew Pasieta wrote for Healthy Lombard that since video games are played on screens, most individuals assume that all that screen time is bad for one’s health. Daphne Bavelier (2020) released a TED talk that made several interesting points. First, concerning vision, gamers could make out small details better and distinguish between shades of gray (useful for driving in foggy conditions). Games are actually now being developed to improve patients with poor vision. This may be a way for people to improve their vision which in turn would greatly improve their quality of life. So people could get into gaming for an actual health reason which is quite far from it being a “waste of time”.

Another benefit to video games is the emotional support they can provide. “Simple games that are easy to access and can be played quickly, such as “Angry Birds,” can improve players’ moods, promote relaxation and ward off anxiety, the study said. ”If playing video games simply makes people happier, there may be an emotional benefit according to Isabela Granic of Radboud University. Stress is a major problem in society so any activity that can reduces stress without increasing the risk of other health conditions is worth exploring.

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National Epilepsy Awareness Month

Rise and Shine shared that the death of Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce brought attention to epilepsy, seizures and a specific risk for people with epilepsy known as SUDEP – Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy. Madison Berl, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at Children’s National Hospital who specializes in epilepsy, answers a few questions on SUDEP and explains the importance of seizure management to reduce your child’s risk for SUDEP and other epilepsy complications.

What is SUDEP?

SUDEP, or Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, is when someone with epilepsy dies suddenly and unexpectedly for an unknown reason.

How frequently does it occur?

Numbers are changing as we learn more about SUDEP but right now we know about 1 in 1,000 children die from SUDEP each year. Read more

FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN A RETURN TO IN-PERSON SCHOOLING

Little girl and boy lying with laptop at home on the groundDanielle Dooley, MD, a general pediatrician who specializes in immigrant child health and school health and
Olanrewaju Falusi, MD, a pediatrician at Children’s National and Medical Director for Advocacy Education at Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI) and an Assistant Director for the LAUnCH Track in the Pediatric Residency Program shared in Rise and Shine that school systems around the world are grappling with rising coronavirus cases in their communities and how to continue to operate and/or reopen safely for in-person learning. They are also facing rising inequities due to the challenges of virtual learning and the digital divide. Parents around the nation are wrestling with similar decisions about whether to send their child to school for in-person learning.

While virtual learning has been a necessary adjustment during the pandemic, particularly when we knew little about schools and the risk of COVID-19 transmission, we also know there is no substitute for in-person learning. When children are physically in school, they have access to supports and services that enhance their development, including in-person academic instruction; the stability of routines; physical exercise; nutritious meals; social connection with other students, teachers and staff; medical services such as oral health, mental health and physical health services as well as therapies like speech and physical therapy; and contact with a network of supportive adults who can build relationships with children. Read more

What Is Children’s Mental Health?

Crying kid, emotional sceneThe CDC found that being mentally healthy during childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems. Mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, in school, and in their communities.

Mental disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day. Many children occasionally experience fears and worries or display disruptive behaviors. If symptoms are serious and persistent and interfere with school, home, or play activities, the child may be diagnosed with a mental disorder. Read more