via healthlineCoffee is addictive and withdrawal symptoms are real. – Toby Amidor, MS, RD

“Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. There are no standards in the U.S. for caffeine intake in kids, but Canada has a maximum limit of 45 mg per day (equivalent to the caffeine in one can of soda). Too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, jitteriness, upset stomach, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and increased heart rate. In younger children, these symptoms occur after just a small amount. Further, childhood and adolescence are the most important times for bone strengthening. Too much caffeine can interfere with calcium absorption, which negatively affects proper growth. Additionally, adding cream and loads of sugar, or drinking high calorie specialty coffees, can lead to weight gain and cavities. So when is it okay for kids to start drinking coffee? A few sips here and there are no big deal. However, when sips turn into daily cups, that’s a whole other story. Coffee is addictive and withdrawal symptoms are real, so the later you start, the better. I recommend starting towards the end of adolescence when growth and development is slowing down.”

Coffee is a vessel for empty calories in the form of added sugar. – Andy Bellatti, MS, RD
“The research I’ve seen points to negative cardiovascular and neurologic effects, namely anxiety and insomnia, in children who consume caffeine. These days, the issue is not coffee itself, but rather the cloyingly sweet ‘energy drinks’ commonly consumed by tweens and teenagers. In many cases, energy drinks are marketed to teenagers. The other problem right now is that ‘coffee’ has become synonymous with 20-ounce coffee-ish concoctions largely made up of syrups, whipped cream, and caramel sauce. In the case of many teenagers, coffee is a vessel for empty calories in the form of added sugar. As far as drinking ‘real’ coffee on a daily basis — espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes — I think it’s prudent to wait until the age of 18.”

The effects of excessive caffeine include hyperactivity, mood swings, and anxiety. – Cassie Bjork, RD, LD
“There’s not necessarily a black and white answer for what age is appropriate to introduce coffee. The main downfall is that coffee has caffeine, a stimulant, which can make it an addictive substance. Most would likely agree that an addiction to anything is not ideal, especially in childhood. Yet this can happen if coffee is consumed excessively, regardless of age. The effects of excessive caffeine include hyperactivity, insomnia, poor appetite regulation, mood swings, and anxiety. Tolerance to caffeine widely varies from person to person. Most recommendations for adults are to keep caffeine to 200 to 300 mg per day to avoid experiencing negative side effects. And for developing children, it may be wise to stick to half of this amount to be safe.”

Soda and energy drinks contain similar amounts of caffeine. – Alex Caspero, MA, RD
“As we all know, coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that affects both adults and children. Soda and energy drinks contain similar amounts of caffeine. At low levels, caffeine can help increase alertness and focus. However, too much can cause jitteriness, nervousness, headaches, and increased blood pressure. Since children are smaller than adults, the amount of caffeine needed for this to happen is lower. There are no set guidelines in the U.S. for caffeine intake by kids, but I would consider a few things. First, caffeinated drinks like sodas, frappuccinos, and energy drinks contain a lot of empty calories, with similar amounts of sugar as you’d find in candy bars, which I wouldn’t recommend daily. Secondly, caffeine is a diuretic, so I would recommend extra caution if your child is drinking coffee and exercising, especially outside. One thing that caffeine doesn’t do is stunt growth. Although this belief was once promoted heavily, the theory isn’t backed by research.”


via catsterOur feline companions are cherished members of our families, and it can feel physically and emotionally devastating when one of the human family members develops an allergic reaction to them. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease reports that between 6 million and 10 million Americans are allergic to pets. And cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies.

Most feline allergies result from something called Fel d1, a protein found in a cat’s saliva and skin. When a cat cleans himself, the Fel d1 in the saliva becomes airborne and looks for a warm, moist spot to live, usually landing in the eyes and nose. The same thing happens when the cat’s skin flakes and releases the protein.

Sometimes parents don’t know their child has an allergy to a pet until the little one is toddler-aged. Our cats never affected our daughter, but when she was around age three, we participated in a local walk-for-animals fund-raiser and she spent a good part of the day petting some of the canine walkers … and then rubbing her face. We initially had no idea what was happening when her face became red, itchy and so puffy that she couldn’t open her eyes. She’d been around dogs, but not so many of different types all at once.

We raced to urgent care and eventually discovered that she did indeed have an allergy to some dogs. We also learned that if one or both parents have allergies of any kind, the child is likely to develop them as well. My husband has eczema, which flares from various triggers (none of them animal-related). Consequently, our daughter went on to develop eczema as well.

We have friends and family with dogs and we didn’t want to avoid them, so we began researching ways we could help our daughter avoid allergic reactions. We discovered there was a lot we could do and much of it applied to both cat and dog allergies.

One point I can’t emphasize enough is that you do not have to rehome your cat if your child starts sneezing. There are many strategies you can use to create happy cohabitation with both cats and children with sensitivities. Here are 10 tips for helping your child cope with feline allergies.

1. Definitively identify the allergy
Make sure the reaction is to the feline protein and not something else. In addition to other common allergies like mold or dust mites, outdoor cats can bring pollen and grass inside — these could actually be the culprits. If you’re able, start by eliminating some of the suspected triggers and see what happens. We did this with regard to food allergies with our daughter. Perhaps keep the outdoor kitty inside and see if the reactions lessen or stop.

You may choose to visit your family doctor to discuss other options like allergy testing. Your decision will certainly depend on the age of the child and the severity of the reaction.

2. Make your child’s bedroom a cat-free zone
Wash all sheets, blankets, pillow and drapes in the child’s bedroom — better yet, replace everything if you’re able. The allergens may not disappear from the room immediately, but over time, you’ll notice a definite difference.

3. Replace carpet with a hard surface
Carpet collects allergens and frequent vacuuming only blows around the offenders. If you can, rip up the carpet and replace it with a hard surface — even if it’s just in the child’s bedroom. If this isn’t possible, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and regularly steam clean.

4. Use an air purifier
Purchasing a good air purifier with a HEPA filter will go a long way in keeping the air clear of allergens. Again, even if you’re only able to place on in your child’s bedroom, it’s well worth it.

5. Regularly bathe or clean your cat
Some cats react more positively (or less negatively) than others to bathing. If your cat is one who doesn’t mind a once-or-twice weekly wash, then go for it. If your cats are like mine, you may opt to purchase nontoxic cleaning wipes. Bathing or cleaning won’t eliminate the allergens, but will slightly lessen them.

6. Remind your child to wash her face and hands after handling kitty
It’s hard to share your life and home with a precious cat and not want to cuddle and pet him. In order to reduce the chances of a sneezy nose and itchy eyes, it’s critical that the child wash her hands and face after spending up close and personal time with your cat.

7. Frequently wash cat beds and toys
Obviously, if your cat spends time lying on a cat bed or playing with toys, those items will contain allergens. Purchase beds and cloth toys that can be tossed in the washing machine and use nontoxic cleaners on the hard toys. Always use the hot water setting on the washer.

8. Clean upholstered furniture and open windows
My cats constantly nap on top of our upholstered sofa and chair. I know this because of the amount of cat hair I remove on a daily basis! If your child is allergic to cat allergens, a steam cleaner would be a great investment. Additionally, keeping fresh air circulating through your space will increase ventilation, resulting in fewer trapped allergens.

9. Consider a hypoallergenic cat breed
Is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat breed? There are absolutely breeds that produce fewer allergens and many families who live with these cats experience amazing results. We’ve identified the top hypoallergenic breeds, including some from the Oriental lines, “Rexes” and both a hairless and hairy type. For additional information about hypoallergenic cats, including breed information, read Catster’s recommendations.

10. Explore medications, if necessary
I’m not one who immediately turns to medication, especially with children. I believe in trying the more conservative methods listed above; however, you may arrive at the decision to try an OTC (antihistamines and decongestants) or prescription medication. Always consult a physician first because the type of medication and dosage amounts will depend on your child’s age and medical history.

Do you have tips for helping your child cope with feline allergies? Tell us about it in the comments!


via medicinehealth: Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. Breast cancer may occur in both male and female children.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among females aged 15 to 39 years. Breast cancer in this age group is more aggressive and more difficult to treat than in older women. Treatments for younger and older women are similar. Younger patients with breast cancer may have genetic counseling (a discussion with a trained professional about inherited diseases) and testing for familial cancer syndromes. Also, the possible effects of treatment on fertility should be considered.

Most breast tumors in children are fibroadenomas, which are benign (not cancer). Rarely, these tumors become large phyllodes tumors (cancer) and begin to grow quickly. If a benign tumor begins to grow quickly, a fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy or an excisional biopsy will be done. The tissues removed during the biopsy will be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Children?

Breast cancer may cause any of the following signs. Check with your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast.
  • A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast.
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast.
  • Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola (the dark area of skin that is around the nipple).
  • Dimples in the breast that look like the skin of an orange, called peau d’orange.

Other conditions that are not breast cancer may cause these same signs.

How Is Breast Cancer in Children Diagnosed?

Tests to diagnose and stage breast cancer may include the following:

  • Physical exam and history.
  • MRI.
  • Ultrasound.
  • PET scan.
  • Blood chemistry studies.
  • X-ray of the chest.
  • Biopsy.

Another test used to diagnose breast cancer is the mammogram (an x-ray of the breast). When treatment for another cancer included radiation therapy to the breast or chest, it is important to have a mammogram and MRI of the breast to check for breast cancer. These should be done beginning at age 25, or 10 years after finishing radiation therapy, whichever is later.

What Is the Treatment for Breast Cancer in Children?

Treatment of breast cancer in children may include the following:

  • Watchful waiting for benign tumors.
  • Surgery to remove the tumor, but not the whole breast. Radiation therapy may also be given.

Treatment of recurrent breast cancer in children may include the following:

  • A clinical trial that checks a sample of the patient’s tumor for certain gene changes. The type of targeted therapy that will be given to the patient depends on the type of gene change.

via SFGATE: Delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare, eggs are a breakfast favorite of many moms and kids. They’re a rich source of high-quality protein, vitamin A and vitamin B-12, but they’re also a source of saturated fat, which adults and kids alike should limit in their diets for the sake of heart health. Keep your child’s intake to one egg a day, and add variety with other kid-friendly sources of breakfast nutrition.

Everything in Moderation

Eggs provide a wealth of nutrients children need for healthy growth and development. One large egg provides 6.25 grams of protein, which is between 18 and 48 percent of the RDA for protein for children ages 1 to 13 years old. One large egg also provides 60 to 128 percent of the RDA for vitamin A and 18 to 23 percent of the RDA for vitamin B-12. Vitamin A is crucial for good vision and healthy bone growth, and vitamin B-12 is necessary for optimal development and cognitive functioning.

Eggs are also high in fat, however, including the type that can be unhealthy in excess – saturated fat. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 – 2020 recommends that all Americans limit their intake of saturated fats to less than 10 percent of their total daily calories. One large egg provides 1.5 grams of saturated fat. For a moderately active 8-year-old boy, that’s only 1 percent of his daily calories. But that number can quickly increase with the number of eggs he eats, especially when combined with the other foods he eats in a day that may also contain saturated fat.

Cooking Methods Make a Difference

What is your child’s favorite way to eat eggs? Scrambled with cheese? Fried with butter? Over sausage links? An egg is only as healthy as the way it’s prepared. Fats and oils used in different cooking methods and in foods commonly eaten with eggs can significantly drive up the saturated fat in an otherwise healthy meal. Boiling and poaching are the healthiest ways to cook eggs. If you’re going to fry or scramble them, use a small amount of a healthy oil such as olive oil and go easy on the cheese.

Variety is Key

The more variety you can introduce into your child’s diet, the more nutrients she’ll get. Increased exposure to different foods also reduces picky eating behaviors. Other nutritious sources of protein at the morning meal include Greek yogurt with fruit or granola, almond butter on whole-grain toast, oatmeal with chia seeds and berries or quinoa with sliced bananas.


via wonderbaby: Raising a blind baby may seem hopelessly difficult at first. For most parents, this isn’t something they expected or were prepared for.

At this point, you’re most likely searching for answers and preparing for what feels like an endless journey. Questions and emotions are running through your mind and you may feel like you’re in a rush to figure things out…

What do I do?

How can I cope?

How can I help my child?

Does it ever get easier?

What you need is support, understanding, and resources. I began this website as a means to provide all three to other parents of blind and disabled children, but as the site has grown I worry that the information may have become overwhelming. Where do you start?

I decided that it was time to put together a step-by-step resource guide, picking out the most pertinent articles and resources for parents with babies and young children searching for help.

Let’s get started!

STEP 1: FIND SUPPORT

The most important thing to do at this stage is find someone who understands what you are going through and can offer relevant advice. Whether you find a support group in your area through Early Intervention or join an online group (Yahoo Groups is a good place to start looking), the important thing is to connect with other parents.

Here is some advice from real parents of kids with special needs:

  • Enjoy every minute, no matter what!
  • Relax; Never forget you know your child best; Ask yourself if your concern now is going to matter when your child is an adult.
  • It’s going to be ok…
  • Don’t try to “fix” every problem. Take life one day at a time and enjoy every minute. Give yourself a break now and then.
  • A sense of humor is a must!
  • It’s amazing how this experience allows you to grow. I think I like myself better now, than I did years ago.
  • What seemed to break our hearts at the beginning, was truly a blessing. Enjoy every precious moment.
  • Don’t fret so much about what your baby can or can’t see; In the long run, it’s not really as important as you think.
  • Don’t worry so much about “development” and throw the development charts out the window. Your child will grow up to be who he is going to be.
  • Social workers are your friends. If you ever have a problem or a question, call your social worker or case manager first. If they don’t have the answer they can give you the number of someone who does.

STEP 2: READ SOME ARTICLES

There’s so much information out there vying for your attention right now, from medical journals discussing genetic therapy to all the flyers and handouts your therapists have brought with them on home visits. Here’s a good thing to remember: You don’t have to read everything!

I’ve chosen a few articles here to cover some of the basic questions you may have right now. Browse through this list and see what grabs you.

Feel free to print these articles or share them with others. If you are a social worker organizing a support group for parents of visually impaired children, these articles might make good handouts.

Try a Little Tenderness: Sorting through the Grieving Process
This article describes what it’s like when you first learn your baby has a vision impairment and helps you sort through your emotions.

Help! My Baby Won’t Sleep!
A common complaint I hear from parents of blind children is that they don’t sleep well. This article provides ideas to help get kids to sleep.

From Cracks to Chasms: Maintaining Your Relationship When You Have a Disabled Child
This article gives practical advice on how to keep your relationship in tact while raising a special needs child.

Yes You Can!
This is one of my favorite articles that I have written about how to help and encourage your child without pushing too hard.

STEP 3: JOIN SOME ORGANIZATIONS

There are many private and government-run organizations out there designed to help you and your baby. Some organizations charge a small membership fee, but many are free. When you join you’ll receive an introductory package full of information and resources. This can be a great way to connect with other parents as well.

A good place to start is to locate and contact your state’s Commission for the Blind. Not all states have one, but most do. Find out what you need to do to get registered and meet with a case manager as soon as you can. They’ll be able to tell you about all the resources in your area and what services you’re eligible for. Of course, you should also register with your local Early Intervention office and meet them, as well.

Here are a few of our favorite organizations…

  • American Foundation for the Blind: AFB provides support and services for the blind and visually impaired. Their web site offers a Services Locator and a great Bookstore. Some books published through AFB press can only be found here.
  • National Federation for the Blind: NFB produces the often quoted publication Future Reflections, a magazine for parents and teachers of blind children. You can download the magazine directly to your computer for free.
  • National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI): NAPVI helps you help your child learn and grow. It’s a very encouraging organization. They also have a wonderful website, FamilyConnect, where you can find information about your child’s eye condition and connect with other parents. They also provide local state chapters that organize events and support groups.
  • Foundation Fighting Blindness: FFB raises money to help fund research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people with vision loss. They’re a great organization to go to if you’re looking for more information about your child’s condition.
  • National Organization of Parents of Blind Children: NOPBC, a division of NFB, supports, encourages, and shares information with parents of blind children. They’re great at connecting you with people and resources in your area.

STEP 4: EDUCATE YOUR FAMILY

Your extended family and friends no doubt want to help, but may feel uneasy if they don’t understand what’s going on. A great way to begin educating your family is to print up some easy-to-read fact sheets and hand them out to any one who’s interested.

All of these fact sheets are from the Blind Babies Foundation and are in .pdf format. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them on your computer, or you can learn more about Adobe Accessibility and using screen readers to read .pdf files.

  • Introduction
  • Introducción (Español)
  • Eye Specialists
  • Especialistas en los Ojos (Español)
  • How the Eye and Brain Work Together
  • Como Funcionan Juntos el Cerebro y los Ojos (Español)
  • Cortical Visual Impairment
  • Impedimento Visual Cortical (Español)
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity
  • Optic Nerve Hypoplasia
  • Hipoplasia del Nervio Óptico (Español)
  • Albinism
  • Albinismo (Español)
  • Optic Nerve Atrophy
  • Atrofia del Nervio Óptico (Español)
  • Retinal Diseases
  • Enfermedades de la Retina (Español)
  • Vision Assessment
  • Evaluación de la Visión (Español)

STEP 5: TAKE A BREAK!

You’ve been working so hard trying to inform yourself about your new baby and what’s going on. It’s perfectly resaonable to feel overwhelmed and exhausted and more than sensible to stop and just enjoy yourself and your baby.

Don’t forget to slow down and just be you!


via MHA: Children’s mental health problems are real, common and treatable. Although one in five children has a diagnosable mental health problem, nearly two-thirds of them get little or no help.

Untreated mental health problems can disrupt children’s functioning at home, school and in the community. Without treatment, children with mental health issues are at increased risk of school failure, contact with the criminal justice system, dependence on social services, and even suicide.

Parents and family members are usually the first to notice if a child has problems with emotions or behavior. Your observations, along with those of teachers and other caregivers, can help determine whether you need to seek help for your child.

The following signs may indicate the need for professional help:

  • Decline in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Constant worry or anxiety
  • Repeated refusal to go to school or to take part in normal activities
  • Hyperactivity or fidgeting
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Depression, sadness or irritability

Early identification, diagnosis and treatment can help children reach their full potential. A first step may be to have your child complete our youth screening which is intended for young people (age 11-17) who are concerned that their emotions, attention, or behaviors might be signs of a problem. A complementary parent screening is also available for your use.

The information from the completed screenings can be helpful in starting a conversation with your child about their mental health, and may be useful when talking with your child’s pediatrician or a mental health professional.

An evaluation may include consultation with a child psychiatrist, psychological testing and medical tests to rule out any physical condition that could be causing the symptoms. Childen also must be carefully evaluated to distinguish possible mental health conditions from learning disabilities or developmental delays.

If your child is diagnosed with a mental health problem, a comprehensive treatment plan should include psychotherapy and, in some cases, may include medication. The plan should be developed with the family. Whenever possible, the child should be involved in treatment decisions.


via Kids Health: When we feel great, a smile comes naturally. It’s an outward sign of joy, happiness, appreciation, amusement, excitement, or contentment.

It’s not natural to smile when we’re sad or upset. But it turns out that smiling might be the best thing to do when you’re ready to shift into a brighter mood.

Smiling Can Lift a Bad Mood
Scientists have found that smiling on purpose can help people feel better. Just the simple act of putting a smile on your face can lead you to feel actual happiness, joy, or amusement.

Smiling on purpose changes brain chemistry. So it can be a big help to people who are dealing with depression and anxiety. But how do you smile if you’re not feeling it?

Fake It Till You Make It
Our body language can influence our emotions. In one study, researchers discovered that people who stood in a confident way actually felt more confident. In another study, people who intentionally put on a facial expression (like a smile or a frown) ended up feeling the emotion that went with it.

Here’s the best part: A smile helps you feel happier — and being happier helps you keep the smile going in a genuine way. Your fake smile is now a real one!

Smile Like You Mean It
There’s just one trick to making smiling work for you: You need to do it right. A true, genuine smile is called a Duchenne smile. It uses all the muscles in the face, including the “laugh lines” around your eyes. Engaging all these muscles is important, even in a fake smile.

If you’re smiling on purpose to help your mood, you want to smile until your cheeks lift and you feel your laugh lines crinkle. You can see how it feels by holding a pencil horizontally between your teeth as you smile.

Smiling and Laughing Reduce Stress
Since body language and mood are so linked, it makes sense that laughing on purpose helps us too.

Smiling relaxes the facial muscles and calms the nervous system. Laughing sends more oxygen to the brain. That triggers the release of brain chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals help us feel positive. Laughing can lower blood pressure, relieve stress, and boost mood.

Here’s a simple exercise from Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh to help you tap into the benefits of smiling:

As you breathe in, say to yourself:
Breathing in, I calm body and mind.

Then, as you breathe out, think:
Breathing out, I smile.

By repeating this simple breathing exercise several times, you’re relaxing your nervous system and countering stress.

Smiling Helps Us Bond With Others
Just like “fake” smiling, “fake” laughing turns into spontaneous real laughter, and it’s contagious. Try this: Get a group together. It can be your family, classmates, or teammates. Have everyone do some fake laughing. Now see if you can keep a straight face!

Some people tap into the relaxing power of laughing in a group setting by doing a kind of yoga called laughter yoga.

Because smiling and laughing are contagious, they help people bond. Smiling sends a friendly signal that usually results in the other person smiling back. One important purpose of smiling might be that it creates social bonds. Scientists have even found that we connect in a physical way when we share a smile or a positive emotion. Our breathing and heart rates sync up, bringing powerful benefits to our health and well-being.

So, the next time someone tells you to “cheer up” when you’re in a low mood, own it. Your shared happiness might end up making that person feel happier too.


via verywell family: Let’s be clear: I love coffee as much as the next busy parent with little kids and a job, but I am a fully-functioning adult who is responsible and able to recognize when my caffeine consumption habits are veering off into dangerous territories. Toddlers are not able to do this.

Believe it or not, toddlers are the latest group of individuals to join in the coffee craze. According to a 2015 study by the Boston Medical Center, 15 percent of toddlers consume about four ounces of coffee every single day. That’s half a cup, which is not an insignificant amount for a child of that age and size. The study found that 2.5 percent of one-year-olds were drinking coffee and that number increased by the age of two. But, can toddlers drink coffee?

Why Are Toddlers Drinking More Coffee?

There are several factors at play.

Parental ethnicity, especially maternal, plays a large role in coffee consumption in young children. Compared to children from Hispanic and Mexican-American families, children from white families are more likely to have coffee every day. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that higher-income children are more likely to drink caffeine than children from families at or below the poverty threshold.

In the Boston study in particular, however, Hispanic families were more likely to give their toddlers a coffee drink every day. Boston has a high population of Hispanic families. Researchers learned that these families simply saw no reason to exclude toddlers from the coffee-drinking tradition that started. Interestingly enough, female toddlers and infants were more likely than male toddlers to have coffee every day.

Accessibility may also play a role. Toddlers are more likely to see coffee around the house or in their parents’ hands these days. They want to be “just like Mom” or “just like Dad” and sip their morning cup of joe. Toddlers learn about the world from the adults around them, so it makes sense that they may be curious about coffee if it’s a daily habit in their caregivers’ lives.

Effects of Drinking Coffee in Children
In 2014, the AAP put together a special task force to address the rising consumption of caffeine in children. In their special report, they noted that 73 percent of American children drink some form of caffeine every single day. The most common sources included soda drinks. Coffee drinks came in second—between 2009 and 2010, approximately one-quarter of caffeine consumed by children came from coffee. Energy drinks came in third and their consumption is also on the rise. Tea was also especially common in young children starting around the age of two.

So far, the AAP has not specifically set guidelines for caffeine in children, although they do recommend that children under the age of 12 not have caffeine of any kind. This recommendation came after the rise of energy drink consumption, especially among teenagers. Other studies have found coffee and caffeine consumption, paired with other lifestyle habits, may lead to negative outcomes such as:

  • Depression
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Substance abuse
  • Obesity
  • Anxiety
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Nervousness
  • Stomach problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Frequent urination
  • Dehydration

In toddlers especially, two-year-olds who drank coffee or tea between their meals actually had triple the odds of being obese by the time they were in kindergarten. Extremely high doses of caffeine can cause both seizures and cardiac arrest, which can lead to death. And obviously, children, especially toddlers, are more at risk to experience negative health outcomes of caffeine since they have less body mass and their bodies are not as adept at processing the caffeine.

The biggest and most unknown risk to consider is that scientists simply don’t know what the long-term effects of caffeine are on a developing brain, especially in the toddler years, when so much growth and development is happening. It may be apparent immediately that a cup of coffee in a two-year-old causes him or her to have lots of extra energy, but what happens to a toddler’s brain if he or she is drinking that same cup of coffee every day for years? It’s hard to say what the long-term consequences might be.

What You Can Do

Overall, the rising trend of children drinking coffee and caffeine reflects how many Americans view caffeine as something that is “normal” and without risk. The truth is, caffeine is a powerful drug and stimulant and despite its widespread availability and use, should be treated as such. A caffeine addiction is still an addiction.

Is one sip of coffee going to mean a lifetime of negative health consequences for your toddler? No, probably not. But a daily habit of coffee or tea could be something that may harm your toddler’s health. If you are starting your little one on a habit of drinking coffee or tea every single day, you may want to speak to your doctor about the potential impact on your child’s development.

It’s also important to talk to your child about healthy caffeine habits, especially if caffeine is frequent in your home. Talk to your child about why coffee might not be a healthy choice for them, check labels of drinks or foods that might contain caffeine, and if you want your child to partake in a family tradition of drinking a hot cup of coffee together, consider fixing a special drink that does not contain caffeine. For example, you may steam milk, stir up some hot chocolate, or consider an herbal tea instead of serving them up a cup of joe.

The Takeaway

Although much is still unknown, if you’re wondering when a “safer” age to give your child caffeine might be, the AAP suggests that you wait until the age of 12 and then limit your child’s caffeine consumption to no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is typical for a cup of home-brewed coffee. Just look out for coffee shop varieties, as they may have a lot more caffeine in them!


via healthlineHeart disease in children

Heart disease is difficult enough when it strikes adults, but it can be especially tragic in children.

Many different types of heart problems can affect children. They include congenital heart defects, viral infections that affect the heart, and even heart disease acquired later in childhood due to illnesses or genetic syndromes.

The good news is that with advances in medicine and technology, many children with heart disease go on to live active, full lives.

Congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a type of heart disease that children are born with, usually caused by heart defects that are present at birth. In the U.S., an estimated 1 percent of babies born each year have CHD.

CHDs that affect children include:

  • heart valve disorders like a narrowing of the aortic valve, which restricts blood flow
  • hypoplastic left heart syndrome, where the left side of the heart is underdeveloped
  • disorders involving holes in the heart, typically in the walls between the chambers and between major blood vessels leaving the heart, including:
    • ventricular septal defects
    • atrial septal defects
    • patent ductus arteriosus
  • tetralogy of Fallot, which is a combination of four defects, including:
    • a hole in the ventricular septum
    • a narrowed passage between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery
    • a thickened right side of the heart
    • a displaced aorta
  • Congenital heart defects may have long-term effects on a child’s health. They’re usually treated with surgery, catheter procedures, medications, and in severe cases, heart transplants.

Some children will require lifelong monitoring and treatment.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the term used to describe the buildup of fat and cholesterol-filled plaques inside arteries. As the buildup increases, arteries become stiffened and narrowed, which increases the risk of blood clots and heart attacks. It typically takes many years for atherosclerosis to develop. It’s unusual for children or teenagers to suffer from it.

However, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other health issues put children at higher risk. Doctors recommend screening for high cholesterol and high blood pressure in children who have risk factors like family history of heart disease or diabetes and are overweight or obese.

Treatment typically involves lifestyle changes like increased exercise and dietary modifications.

Arrhythmias

An arrhythmia is an abnormal rhythm of the heart. This can cause the heart to pump less efficiently.

Many different types of arrhythmias may occur in children, including:

  • a fast heart rate (tachycardia), the most common type found in children being supraventricular tachycardia
  • a slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • long Q-T Syndrome (LQTS)
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW syndrome)

Symptoms may include:

  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • difficulty feeding

Treatments depend on the type of arrhythmia and how it’s affecting the child’s health.

Kawasaki disease

Kawasaki disease is a rare disease that primarily affects children and can cause inflammation in the blood vessels in their hands, feet, mouth, lips, and throat. It also produces a fever and swelling in the lymph nodes. Researchers aren’t sure yet what causes it.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the illness is a major cause of heart conditions in as many as 1 in 4 children. Most are under the age of 5.

Treatment depends on the extent of the disease, but often involves prompt treatment with intravenous gamma globulin or aspirin (Bufferin). Corticosteroids can sometimes reduce future complications. Children who suffer from this disease often require lifelong follow-up appointments to keep an eye on heart health.

Heart murmurs

A heart murmur is a “whooshing” sound made by blood circulating through the heart’s chambers or valves, or through blood vessels near the heart. Often it’s harmless. Other times it may signal an underlying cardiovascular problem.

Heart murmurs may be caused by CHDs, fever, or anemia. If a doctor hears an abnormal heart murmur in a child, they’ll perform additional tests to be sure the heart is healthy. “Innocent” heart murmurs usually resolve by themselves, but if the heart murmur is caused by a problem with the heart, it may require additional treatment.

Pericarditis

This condition occurs when the thin sac or membrane that surrounds the heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed or infected. The amount of fluid between its two layers increases, impairing the heart’s ability to pump blood like it should.

Pericarditis may occur after surgery to repair a CHD, or it may be caused by bacterial infections, chest traumas, or connective tissue disorders like lupus. Treatments depend on the severity of the disease, the child’s age, and their overall health.

Rheumatic heart disease

When left untreated, the streptococcus bacteria that cause strep throat and scarlet fever can also cause rheumatic heart disease.

This disease can seriously and permanently damage the heart valves and the heart muscle (by causing heart muscle inflammation, known as myocarditis). According to Seattle Children’s Hospital, rheumatic fever typically occurs in children ages 5 to 15, but usually the symptoms of rheumatic heart disease don’t show up for 10 to 20 years after the original illness. Rheumatic fever and subsequent rheumatic heart disease are now uncommon in the U.S.

This disease can be prevented by promptly treating strep throat with antibiotics.

Viral infections

Viruses, in addition to causing respiratory illness or the flu, can also affect heart health. Viral infections can cause myocarditis, which may affect the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body.

Viral infections of the heart are rare and may show few symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they’re similar to flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest discomfort. Treatment involves medications and treatments for the symptoms of myocarditis.


via Everyday Health: Children who are fidgety or hyperactive may have restless legs syndrome. Often misdiagnosed in kids, restless legs syndrome can interfere with sleep and affect childhood development.

A restless legs syndrome diagnosis isn’t exclusive to adults. In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimates one million school-age children have restless legs syndrome, or RLS. The symptoms of restless legs syndrome in children are often mistaken for growing pains or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, making it difficult to get an accurate diagnosis.

The most common sign of RLS in children is, as with adults, an overwhelming need to move the legs, usually at night, says Binal Kancherla, MD, a pediatric pulmonologist at the Children’s Sleep Center at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.

“Typically, restless legs symptoms are worse in the evening, when the child is at rest, lying down, or sitting,” says Dr. Kancherla. Children with RLS will complain of discomfort in their legs, but they may have trouble describing their symptoms. Children may say their legs feel itchy, like pins and needles, or “creepy crawly.” They may be able to tell you that the pain only goes away when they move.

More Signs of RLS in Children
The strange sensations in the legs and the irresistible need to move are not the only symptoms of restless legs syndrome in children. Other signs to look for in children include:

Struggling with sleep. Because of the urge to move their legs, children with RLS have trouble staying in bed and falling asleep. “Restless legs symptoms can lead to sleep deprivation and fragmentation of sleep,” says Kancherla. The leg discomfort can wake children up, and they may have trouble getting back to sleep.

Daytime drowsiness. Not getting proper sleep may result in daytime drowsiness. Children with restless legs syndrome will often have trouble getting up in the morning, and they may be tired during the day.

Behavior and academic problems. Sleep deprivation from restless legs syndrome has serious consequences. RLS may affect a child’s behavior at school and his or her academic performance. “Lack of adequate sleep in children can affect neurocognitive development, daytime focus, and attention,” says Kancherla. “It can lead to irritability or hyperactivity.”

The Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome in Children
Restless legs syndrome runs in families, says Kancherla. The exact cause is not known, but it is most likely inherited. It is considered to be both a neurological disease and a sleep disorder.“Up to 10 percent of the U.S. population is living with a restless legs diagnosis, with more women affected than men.” Some people have a mild form of the disorder; for others, RLS seriously affects their quality of life.

RLS can be caused by an iron deficiency. “Children with low levels of serum iron and ferritin, a substance that binds iron, have been related to restless legs syndrome,” says Kancherla.

Some medications can make RLS symptoms worse. Antihistamines block dopamine receptors, the brain chemicals that control movement. Anti-nausea medications and antidepressants can also aggravate the RLS symptoms.

Caffeine and caffeine products like chocolate can intensify symptoms and should also be avoided.

Getting a Diagnosis: Restless Legs Syndrome in Kids
Making a diagnosis of restless legs syndrome in children can be challenging. RLS is more common in adults, so a primary care physician may not look for RLS in children. Your doctor may not immediately associate symptoms such as aggression, inattention, and hyperactivity with RLS. “We make the diagnosis based on symptoms, but family history, the child’s medication use, and the presence of other medical conditions are also vital,” says Kancherla.

There is no specific test for restless legs syndrome, adds Kancherla, but when making a diagnosis, a doctor may measure the child’s serum iron and ferritin levels to see if an iron or vitamin deficiency could be the cause.

Is It RLS in Children or Something Else?
Evidence connecting restless legs syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is growing, although the exact relationship is still unknown. RLS and ADHD have similar symptoms, and ADHD is common in people with RLS. When getting a diagnosis for restless legs syndrome, ask your doctor about ADHD.

Growing pains and restless legs syndrome have very similar symptoms with one important difference that could change the diagnosis. Both disorders cause children to feel leg discomfort, usually in the evening or at night, but with RLS, the uncomfortable sensations usually go away when the child moves. With growing pains, the discomfort is more constant and is not relieved by movement.

Treatment for RLS Children
Treatment should be individualized to the child. The first step is to reduce factors that make the symptoms worse. “If the child is iron deficient, iron supplementation may relieve symptoms,” says Kancherla. “Ferritin levels should be monitored by your health care provider during treatment.”

Other non-drug restless legs treatments for children include massage therapy, hot baths or ice packs applied to legs, and initiating good sleep habits. “In more severe cases of RLS, anticonvulsant medications such as gabapentin have been used in children,” says Kancherla. “These should only be prescribed under the guidance of an experienced pediatric sleep specialist.”

RLS is generally a lifelong condition and, currently, there is no cure, says Kancherla. However, a diagnosis of RLS does not indicate the onset of another neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Under guidance of an experienced pediatric sleep specialist and with current therapies, restless legs symptoms in children can usually be controlled.