Archive Page 2

Plain soap and water

mom and son washing hands

Cropped image. Cade Martin and Dawn Arlott, PIXNIO. CC license.

How many times a day do doctors wash their hands? Dozens, perhaps. And they encourage us to follow effective hand-washing techniques as well.

“But, the conversation shouldn’t end there”, according to Dr. Paula Kim, M.D. with Beaumont Health, clinical professor at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine, and associate professor at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. She says, “The next questions are: What type of soap is used at home? Is it an antibacterial? Or is it plain soap and water?”

The Centers for Disease Control, American Medical Association, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and others overwhelmingly encourage people to use non-antibacterial (plain) soap and warm water, and to rub hands together for a minimum of 20 to 30 seconds.

Why plain soap? Isn’t an antibacterial product more effective? Surprisingly, no. In 2013 the FDA challenged manufacturers of over-the-counter antibacterial hand and body soaps to prove that their products are more effective at killing germs than plain soap and water. And they couldn’t do it.

“There’s no data demonstrating that these drugs provide additional protection from diseases and infections. Using these products might give people a false sense of security,” says Theresa M. Michele, M.D., of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products.

Due to health risks, including bacterial resistance, the FDA banned manufacturers from using almost all antibacterial chemicals, including the widely used triclosan. Manufacturers of hand and body soaps (soaps intended to be used with water) have until September 2017 to switch their formulations. The new rule affects most of the liquid hand soaps and bar soaps currently on the market. It does not affect hand sanitizers or hand wipes.

Health risks

The FDA is heeding the warning of research showing that the use of triclosan can lead to bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, making them ineffective. The agency also expressed concern over triclosan’s potential hormonal effects. According to the FDA, “…recent studies have demonstrated that triclosan showed effects on the thyroid, estrogen, and testosterone systems in several animal species, including mammals, the implications of which on human health, especially for children, are still not well understood.”

Other organizations, such as the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), have found — in addition to concerns about endocrine activity — triclosan carries risks for the reproductive system and brain development.

Exposure

We likely use at least one product every day that contains triclosan. Antibacterial chemicals are added to thousands of products, including household cleaners, cosmetics (including deodorant, toothpaste and mouthwash), clothing, furniture, lunchboxes, backpacks, food packaging, kitchen utensils, children’s toys and more. But the chemical doesn’t simply stay in those products. Researchers found triclosan in household dust, in streams and other waterways, in wildlife, in human plasma and breast milk, and in drinking water.

Indeed the multitude of exposure paths was a driving factor behind the FDA’s original inquiry. According to a September 2016 FDA Consumer Update factsheet, Antibacterials? You Can Skip It – Use Plain Soap and Water, “…people’s long-term exposure to triclosan is higher than previously thought, raising concerns about the potential risks associated with the use of this ingredient over a lifetime.”

Consumers

Many people use antibacterial soaps without knowing they are using an OTC drug. Shoppers should watch out for the word “antibacterial” or the phrase “kills germs”. Generally, we find these words and phrases reassuring. But remember that it isn’t necessary to kill all the germs, but to simply remove them with plain soap and water. Then wash them down the drain. A drug facts label on a soap or body wash is a sign a product contains antibacterial ingredients. As Dr. Kim always encourages her patients, “Read the label on anything you buy. Read what’s in it!”

More information

You don’t have to settle for toxic triclosan in your household cleaners either. Dr. Kim suggests her patients to “use natural things if possible, such as vinegar and water.” White vinegar is a food-grade anti-microbial that can kill germs on surfaces. Or look for Clean Well brand soaps and sanitizers, which use thyme oil as the active ingredient to kill germs. Some of the Seventh Generation brand cleaning products include the Clean Well technology also.

– Melissa Sargent, Environmental Health Educator with LocalMotionGreen at Ecology Center. For more information, you can email her at melissas@ecocenter.org or visit http://www.ecocenter.org/lmg.

Childproofing your home

Toddler opening a cabinet

Unaltered image. Jed De La Cruz, Flickr. CC license.

As a parent, it is our job to keep our children safe. So how do you know when to start childproofing and where to start? This can be an overwhelming process for many parents. Have you ever just stood in the safety section at your local baby store? There is an entire wall chock full of products with a variety of door handle covers, outlet covers, drawer and cabinet locks, and other items that you never even knew existed. Here is some advice on how to make sure your home is safe for your baby.

  • Get down on the floor at baby’s level. The world looks a whole lot different from there. Pay attention to what baby can see and reach.
  • When should I start? The sooner the better, however once baby is able to start rolling (typically 4 to 6 months), you want to make sure you’ve started your childproofing.
  • Know your baby. Some babies are much more mobile and curious than others. Some babies need to climb and get into everything. For these children, you may need to be much more thorough.
  • Keep all medications, chemicals, soaps, and detergents away from baby. Make sure these items are in locked cupboards or above baby’s reach in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • All items that fit within a toilet paper tube pose a choking hazard to baby. Anything that fits inside should be kept away from baby, especially small items like coins.
  • Make sure you have the number for poison control in your cell phone and a central location in your home (800) 222-1222. You can also download an app to your phone.
  • Register for the Consumer Product Safety Recall list to be alerted for recalled items.

Recommended safety items

  1. Outlet covers
    1. Babies are very curious and the outlets seem to attract little fingers.
    2. If you don’t like the outlet covers, you can swap out all of your outlets with ones that have covers built into them.
    3. When traveling to a relative or friend’s home, bring an extra pack of outlet covers to keep your baby safe.
  2. Gates
    • You must use gates mounted with hardware at the top and bottom of stairs.
    • Pressure-mounted gates can be used in hallways and doorways.
    • Some gates have extension pieces to make sure they fit your space properly.
    • If you need to mount your gate to the banister, you can purchase a kit that lets you install the gate without drilling holes into your banister.
  3. Furniture straps
    • All furniture (including dressers and book cases) should be strapped to wall in rooms that baby will be in. These help to prevent furniture from falling on top of baby.
  4. Door locks/handles
    • Make sure you have the correct type of door lock for the correct door:
      • Bi-fold door locks
      • Sliding door locks
      • Universal locks
      • Appliance locks (e.g., refrigerator, drawer under oven/washing machine, dishwasher, etc.)
      • Door latches are very inexpensive and perfect for basement doors.
      • Toilet locks keep children from “playing” in toilet.
  1. Drawer and cabinet locks
    • Plastic locks that screw into the inside of cabinets or drawers.
    • Magnetic locks are less visible, but more expensive).
  2. Cord protectors
    • Mini blind cord protectors
    • Power strip protectors
  3. Thermometer for bathtime
    • Ensures water is not too hot or cold for baby

– Amy Weiss, MPT  Supervisor of Outpatient Physical Therapy at Beaumont Physical Therapy Berkley

 

Code brown: Adventures in potty training

Little girl potty training her teddy bear

Cropped image. Manish Bansal, Flickr. CC license.

Take 1

At 18 months old, my daughter, we’ll call her C, started to show an interest in the toilet. I thought it was too early, but my mom insisted on getting her a potty. “She’s ready, honey,” Mom would say.

What do you know? On the first day we had the potty, she pooped in it. I squealed with delight. High-fives were flying. I was jumping up and down, yelling to my husband to come and see. All while my inner monologue was running wild: “Could it be?! C is diaper free at a year-and-a-half?! Do I have one of those mythical children who potty train themselves at a super young age?! This. Is. Amazing.”

This enthusiasm, however, was apparently quite terrifying because C wouldn’t even look at the potty, let alone sit on it, for weeks afterwards.

Take 2

We stopped being potty pushers and decided to take a more relaxed approach — we would let C tell us when she’s ready to start. However, around the two-year mark, a group of kids in her daycare class began potty training and we needed to jump on the bandwagon.

“But she’s not ready. Real underwear? She’s too little for that. Can’t we wait a little longer?” I begged her teacher. Nope. We had to reinforce at home what was being taught at daycare. Fine, way to be totally logical. We’ll try again.

Take 3 and 4 and 5…

At daycare, potty training progressed nicely. In the beginning, she often had accidents when they were outside playing (she didn’t want to stop to go to the bathroom) or during naptime. Lately, it’s been very infrequent, maybe once a week if that. Go daycare!

At home, it’s a different story. Rarely will C use the toilet and we never leave the house without a diaper or training pants on. I don’t get it. We’ve tried everything: sticker charts, chocolate chip bribes, positive reinforcement, commando weekends. I don’t know if I can read another “How to Potty Train Your Toddler in Three Days” article.

We’re constantly taking her into the bathroom and sitting her on the toilet with no results. On several occasions just moments after we leaving the bathroom, she had an accident (once hilariously on my husband while they watched TV; it was an especially juicy bowel movement).

Another favorite: going poop in the bathtub. I guess it is relaxing. But seriously C, a “code brown” is never a good way to kick off the bedtime routine.

So here we are nearly year after her toilet interest piqued and still changing diapers. Friends and family say not to worry. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics says, “It’s best to avoid assuming that your child will begin training by a certain age.”

Most of my brain agrees – she’s only two and half. I get it; she has plenty of time. However, a small part of me is confused — why is potty training going so well at daycare and not at home? What’s their secret? Is C is just trying to fit in with the cool kids and go to the bathroom on the toilet? (I guess there’s worse forms of peer pressure.) But seriously, do I need a parade of toddlers to come through my house every hour and use the bathroom so C will too?

Oh, potty training. One of these days, we’ll figure you out. In the meantime, let’s commiserate. Share your potty training adventures in the comments below.

– Anne Hein is a volunteer with the Beaumont Parenting Program and mom of a strong-willed toddler. 

We had a lice day

3 girls and a woman at a delousing boutique

Thanks to Elyse Kolender for helping us delouse.

The discovery

After a letter came home about a lice outbreak at the girls’ school, I immediately went to check them out. I stood in the elementary school office checking my girls’ hair, and sure enough, there were little crawling lice and eggs staring back at me. I embarrassingly and mortifyingly looked at the secretary and gave her “The Nod.”

As it turns out, it was a family affair; all six of us had lice! That includes my four daughters (even our 3 month old) and my 45-year-old physician husband. How could this happen to us?! I thought we were so clean! Of course as a pediatrician I knew it wasn’t because we weren’t clean, but as a mom I felt dirty and ashamed. As a mother, my battle with lice ensued, and it oddly, it was more empowering than I thought it would be. We faced it head on. (No pun intended!)

Oh no. We’re now a statistic.

Most people are ashamed of lice. But let’s face it, lice is highly contagious and it shouldn’t be taboo. Did you know that between six and 12 million American children between 3 and 11 years old get lice each year? My family just became part of that statistic. Eeeeew gross! But honestly, it can happen to anyone.

It’s critically important to be open, transparent and educated about all contagious diseases. With lice, it’s not a reflection of cleanliness but rather just how contagious lice is.

As a mom and a pediatrician, my public service announcement is: Please let your school, friends and contacts know if you have something contagious. It will help decrease the spread of the disease and save health, time and money!

Our response

The first step was knowing it was going around; it is fiercely going around in schools right now. The second step was accepting it, facing it, not being ashamed of it and treating it. The third step was very important: We had to tell everyone we had it — brave, I know — but extremely important. So off went the emails and texts advertising our family had head lice and anyone who had contact with us should get checked.

A little about lice

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), infestation with head lice is most common among preschool- and elementary school-age children, and their household members and caretakers. However, we are now seeing it in high schools and other places.

Head lice are mainly spread by direct contact with the hair of an infested person. The most common way to get lice is through head-to-head contact with a person who already has it. Some studies suggest that girls get head lice more often than boys, probably due to more frequent head-to-head contact. Common ways to get lice include:

  • playing with others at school or home.
  • activities where your child interacts with others (e.g., sports, playgrounds, camp, slumber parties, etc.).
  • wearing clothing (e.g., hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, hair ribbons, etc.) worn by an infested person.
  • using infested combs, brushes or towels.
  • lying on a bed, couch, pillow, carpet or stuffed animal that has recently been in contact with an infested person.

Head lice are not known to transmit disease; however, secondary bacterial infection of the skin resulting from scratching can occur with any lice infestation.

Preventing and controlling the problem

Here are some simple things you can do to help prevent and control the spread of head lice.

  • Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities.
  • Do not share clothing (including hats, scarves, coats) or things worn in the hair.
  • Do not share combs, brushes or towels. Disinfect combs and brushes by soaking them in hot water (at least 130° F) for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Do not lie on soft objects that have recently been in contact with an infested person.
  • Wash things that an infested person wore or used for the two days before treatment. Simply machine wash and dry them using the hot water (130° F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that aren’t washable can be dry cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag and stored for two weeks.
  • Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. Spending a lot of time and money on housecleaning isn’t necessary to avoid reinfestation by lice or nits that may have fallen off the head or crawled onto furniture or clothing.
  • Do not use fumigant sprays or fogs. They aren’t necessary to control head lice and can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
  • To help control a head lice outbreak in a community, school or camp, teach your children how to avoid activities that may spread head lice.

Treatment

Lice is not difficult to identify and there are many options for treatments out there. Talk to your pediatrician about different options for diagnoses and treatment. My family went to a local delousing boutique that kindly got rid of our little friends for us.

After the delousing, we went out to dinner as the cleanest, lice-free family in town. It was only partially embarrassing and peculiar to be out with our shower caps, a night to remember for sure!

After the delousing, we went out to dinner. It was only partially embarrassing and peculiar to be out with our shower caps, a night to remember for sure!

Moving forward

We are officially the cleanest, most lice-free family in our community now. As for you, stop itching (I know reading about it can bring on the itchiness!) and go make sure you don’t have it, too.

Dr. Hannan Alsahlani is a Beaumont pediatrician and proud mother of four officially lice-free girls (Sophia 9, Summer 8, Serene 2, and Solei 4 months).

Valentine memories

Valentine mailbox

Kathy Rizzi remembers:

valentine exchange boxMy favorite Valentine memory is from my childhood. It was making my valentine mailbox, which would be placed on the edge of the desk where all our classmates to drop our Valentine “mail.” It required searching through the house to find the “perfect” box that will hold all of my valentines (usually a shoe box or a tissue box if there was one available). I would carefully cut the slit in the top so all those secret notes could be dropped in, silently hoping that my “crush” put something more than just his name on the card. I covered it with aluminum foil or maybe some old wrapping paper Mom saved, smoothing it out just so. Then came decorating it: Cutting out paper hearts to paste on or maybe Mom had a paper doily to glue on.  The best part was coming home after school, tearing into my mailbox to read all those special notes and then calling my best friend to see which valentine she got from her crush!

Wendy MacKenzie has a different story:

I had always felt kind of “meh” about Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it was the total and utter lack of any boyfriend-type personages in my formative years. Maybe it was that one February 14 in 1994 that ruined it for me; I sat in my incomprehensible Organic Chemistry lecture, surrounded by people who were not only smarter than I but also more loved (based on the number of roses they were having delivered to them in the middle of class). Or perhaps it was just that I already ate chocolate every other day of the year, so a day devoted to sweets didn’t really stand out for me. Whatever the reason, there I was, feeling meh.

cut out heartsUntil this year. A week or so ago, I got sucked into the bowels of Facebook (as one does), and made a discovery. Someone had posted a “Love Notes” idea in one of the assorted groups I peruse: Every day from February 1 until February 14, tape a heart to each of your children’s bedroom doors. In this heart you can tell them something you love about them such as their personality, their skills, their talents, their capacity for life. Upon seeing this, my view on Valentine’s Day instantly changed. Instead of chasing down reasons to enjoy the day for myself, now I had myriad reasons to remember why I enjoy my children. And so it was with pleasure that I sat down with my trusty Cricut® machine to cut out my hearts.

Valentine’s Day is the furthest thing from meh this year.

Betsy Clancy made one of her favorite valentines:

One year in the early stages of my mother’s dementia, I gave her an “old school” valentine card. It was something I would have made in kindergarten: red paper doily, pink construction paper hearts, glitter and a crayon signature.  It made her smile and she kept it on her dresser for a long time.

It made me smile too, as I remembered the simple pleasure of childhood creativity, the joy of giving, and the satisfaction of a completed project. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lucy Hill received the “very best”:

handmade valentines

The best valentine memories were when my two boys would make their homemade cards, coloring big hearts and kisses and writing “I Love You Mom” with such sweet innocence that only my children could give! Of course on the back of the homemade cards was always the seal of quality. My boys would always point to the back were they would draw a symbol of a crown and wrote “Joemark” or “Ryanmark” that was their way of saying they were giving you the best!

Deanna Robb shares:

I have many fond memories of my kids bestowing me with handmade Valentine’s Day gifts and cards. It brings a smile just thinking about the carefully cut out (misshapen) hearts with love notes scribbled in the classic multi-colored crayon font. The glued-on, half-eaten, candy pieces spattered on cards were favorites for sure.

valentine notevalentine note

Valentine’s Day wishes come in many shapes and forms, but I think, for me, I was especially touched when I continued to receive thoughtful notes and cards throughout the college years (and beyond).

Sending out a special Valentine’s Day wish to my amazing hubby, three beautiful children and to my “you melt my heart” grandchild, Emilia Rose: Loved you yesterday, Love you still, Always have and always will.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! Cheers to celebrating everyday with love!

Dad’s van

1985 Plymouth Voyager LE

Unaltered image. CetteUneVoiture, Wikimedia Commons. CC license.

My Dad was the proud owner of a Plymouth Voyager minivan. She was a sweet ride, seating for seven, “suburban dad brown” color with only the best wood paneling appliqué from bumper-to-bumper. It truly was the best 1987 had to offer.

At the time, I had a stepbrother and stepsister along with my full-blooded sister (not sure if that’s the politically correct way of saying sibling, but that’s what I’m using in this case), so he needed the room. We had assigned seats on family trips; I sat behind my dad in the first row but sometimes I got lucky enough to sit in the “way back” where there seemed to be a little more freedom.

Eventually the need for the extra room went away, and it was just my dad, my sister and I once again. The one constant throughout the life’s upheaval was the van. I know it seems weird, but there was an odd comfort getting into that van. Through trips to baseball practice or heading to the hospital after separating my shoulder during a freshman football game, I knew we’d get there in one piece because of that van.

That van even saved my dad’s life when a drunk driver ran a red light and t-boned the van right in the paneling. Dad was sore, but he is still with us in part because of that van.

As I look back, that van was a big part of our family’s life. We grew up in it. We learned to drive behind the wheel of it. It helped us move four times and made more than a few trips to Mount Pleasant and Kalamazoo to ensure my stepsister and I (and our stuff) got to college safely.

Sadly, after nearly 400,000 miles, the van died quietly in a parking structure in downtown Detroit as my dad was out of town on business. It was better that way. And because of its legendary status, and I think some respect, my dad’s coworkers adorned the van with flowers and an RIP chalk outline fit for a vehicle that saw a family through some good times and some rough times.

Looking back on it, I think the van was a four-wheel-badge of honor for my dad. Being a single dad for most of the van’s existence, it became proof that he put my sisters (both full-blood and step) and me first. He didn’t need the latest vehicle to prove his worth, he had a van with a rocking seat and hatch held up by a two-by-four so his kids didn’t go without.

That van became a symbol of the sacrifice Dad made for our family. He did without so we could have what we needed to succeed. Our family has grown through the years — new members, new generations — and they learn the legend of the van, but they also learn why and who made that van so special because it was so much more than a van.

My dad has turned into Poppie to my girls and my sisters’ children, and he’s still putting his family first. He leads by example and he has made me a better dad than I ever thought I’d be, and for that I’m grateful. And who knows, maybe I’ll get my own “van” someday.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

The store

pretend gold coins

Today, in this moment, I feel like a genius.

We’ve wanted to establish a reward system for our kids for good behavior, manners and listening. Nothing was inspiring me. Nothing.

Then, out of the blue, it all came together in my head: The Store! My kids love getting things from the store, so why not create one in our home?

Using jars I had at home, a recycled gift bag and a $15 trip to the party supply store, we were up and running. Here’s how it works:

  • Each kid has a jar with their name on it. Every day they get two “gold coins” to start. The gold coins are from the Super Mario Bros. section of the party supply. I got about 30 of them for $2.
  • The rest of the coins go in “The Bank,” an additional jar near theirs.
  • If they show good behavior, good listening or good manners, a coin goes in the jar.
  • If they don’t, a coin is removed from the jar.
  • At the end of the day, each kid can count up their coins and “buy” something from “The Store,” which is a gift bag I filled with trinkets and small pieces of candy that cost anywhere from 40 cents to $1. The grown-up in charge of “The Store” that day sets prices. After all, we do live in a free-market economy.
  • The kid can also choose to set up an “account” with “The Bank.” They can save any coins they earn in a day, and when they reach a certain amount, they go on a special outing such as the ice cream shop or Jungle Java.
  • If the kid is having a bad day and loses all the coins, the grown-up in charge will start taking away one toy for each offence. The only way to get the toys back is the “buy” them back with earned coins. Kids cannot opt for something new from “The Store” or put anything in “The Bank” until all their toys are returned.

I’m not sure where this came from, or if it will even work, but I’m pretty proud.

– Rebecca Calappi is a publications coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.


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