Child Safety: Facts about drowning


Posted on 7th October 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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In 2004, of all children 1-4 years old who died, 26% died from drowning (CDC 2006). Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years (CDC 2005) – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It is estimated that for each drowning death, there are 1 to 4 nonfatal submersions serious enough to result in hospitalization. Children who still require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the time they arrive at the emergency department have a poor prognosis, with at least half of survivors suffering significant neurologic impairment. – American Academy of Pediatrics

19% of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools with certified lifeguards present. – Drowning Prevention Foundation

A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 4 and under. – Orange County California Fire Authority

Children under five and adolescents between the ages of 15-24 have the highest drowning rates. – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

An estimated 5,000 children ages 14 and under are hospitalized due to unintentional drowning-related incidents each year; 15 percent die in the hospital and as many as 20 percent suffer severe, permanent neurological disability. – National Safety Council

Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less. – Orange County, CA, Fire Authority

The majority of children who survive (92 percent) are discovered within two minutes following submersion, and most children who die (86 percent) are found after 10 minutes. Nearly all who require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) die or are left with severe brain injury. – National Safe Kids Campaign

For information on how you can prevent infant drowning, visit
To find out how infants and toddlers can learn to survive in potentially deadly drowning situations, there is an excellent video at:

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Jump seen in staph-linked flu deaths in kids


Posted on 5th October 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 10/6/2008 12:08 AM

AP Medical Writer

CHICAGO (AP) _ More children have died from flu because they also had staph infections, according to a new government report that urges parents to have their kids get the flu shot.

The number of deaths wasn’t high — 73 during the 2006-07 flu season — but there was more than a fivefold increase in hard-to-treat complications. And preliminary figures indicate deaths rose again during this past winter’s flu season.

Public health officials say the numbers underscore the importance of a brand new recommendation that all children, from 6 months through 18 years, get routine flu shots. Before this year, shots were recommended for kids under 5 years.

More than half the children who died were between ages 5 and 17 and had been healthy until they got the flu.

Parents shouldn’t panic, “but it’s an important message to say even healthy children develop complications and die almost before anything much can be done for them,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic infectious disease specialist. He was not involved in the federal study, but has worked with a federal vaccine advisory committee and has consulted for vaccine makers.

Flu season is just beginning, and this year’s vaccine should be widely available this month.

While few children die from the flu virus, it puts about 20,000 U.S. kids in the hospital each year.

Only 6 percent of the children studied who died had been fully vaccinated against the flu. Two doses are recommended each flu season for children ages 6 months to 8 years who have not been vaccinated previously; for older kids, just one dose a year is needed.

The study, appearing in the October edition of Pediatrics for release Monday, is based on an analysis of reported flu deaths from the 2004-05 through 2006-07 seasons. Flu deaths in children during those seasons totaled 47, 46 and 73, respectively.

The percentage of those who also had bacterial infections jumped from 6 percent to almost 36 percent. Most had staph infections, and 60 percent of those involved the dangerous MRSA bug, which is resistant to antibiotics.

More recent data suggest flu deaths among children have continued to rise, with 86 tallied for the 2007-08 season in a preliminary report last month, said Lyn Finelli, the study’s lead author, who is a researcher for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Preliminary information also suggests there has been no drop in fatal flu-staph cases in children, and those could still be on the rise too, she said.

Staph germs commonly live in the nose or skin without causing illness; more than one-fourth of U.S. children and adults carry them.

These bugs can become deadly when they get into the bloodstream, sometimes through wounds. The flu is thought to make people more susceptible to bacterial infections like staph, Finelli said.

Details on how children in the study died were not available, but some developed bacterial pneumonia, seizures and shock.

Finelli said parents should take children to the doctor when they have flu symptoms and signs of other complications. These could include extreme fatigue, no thirst, or in older children complaints about feeling very ill.


On the Net:

American Academy of Pediatrics:


Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Doctors: No hamsters or exotic pets for young kids


Posted on 5th October 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 10/6/2008 12:06 AM

AP Medical Writer

CHICAGO (AP) _ Warning: young children should not keep hedgehogs as pets — or hamsters, baby chicks, lizards and turtles, for that matter — because of risks for disease.

That’s according to the nation’s leading pediatricians’ group in a new report about dangers from exotic animals.

Besides evidence that they can carry dangerous and sometimes potentially deadly germs, exotic pets may be more prone than cats and dogs to bite, scratch or claw — putting children younger than 5 particularly at risk, the report says.

Young children are vulnerable because of developing immune systems plus they often put their hands in their mouths.

That means families with children younger than 5 should avoid owning “nontraditional” pets. Also, kids that young should avoid contact with these animals in petting zoos or other public places, according to the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report appears in the October edition of the group’s medical journal, Pediatrics.

“Many parents clearly don’t understand the risks from various infections” these animals often carry, said Dr. Larry Pickering, the report’s lead author and an infectious disease specialist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For example, about 11 percent of salmonella illnesses in children are thought to stem from contact with lizards, turtles and other reptiles, Pickering said. Hamsters also can carry this germ, which can cause severe diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps.

Salmonella also has been found in baby chicks, and young children can get it by kissing or touching the animals and then putting their hands in their mouths, he said.

Study co-author Dr. Joseph Bocchini said he recently treated an infant who got salmonella from the family’s pet iguana, which was allowed to roam freely in the home. The child was hospitalized for four weeks but has recovered, said Bocchini, head of the academy’s infectious diseases committee and pediatrics chairman at Louisiana State University in Shreveport.

Hedgehogs can be dangerous because their quills can penetrate skin and have been known to spread a bacteria germ that can cause fever, stomach pain and a rash, the report said.

With supervision and precautions like hand-washing, contact between children and animals “is a good thing,” Bocchini said. But families should wait until children are older before bringing home an exotic pet, he said.

Those who already have these pets should contact their veterinarians about specific risks and possible new homes for the animals, he said.

Data cited in the study indicate that about 4 million U.S. households have pet reptiles. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, all kinds of exotic pets are on the rise, although generally fewer than 2 percent of households own them.

The veterinarian group’s Mike Dutton, a Weare, N.H., exotic animal specialist, said the recommendations send an important message to parents who sometimes buy exotic pets on an impulse, “then they ask questions, sometimes many months later.”

But a spokesman for the International Hedgehog Association said there’s no reason to single out hedgehogs or other exotic pets.

“Our recommendation is that no animal should be a pet for kids 5 and under,” said Z.G. Standing Bear. He runs a rescue operation near Pikes Peak, Colo., for abandoned hedgehogs, which became fad pets about 10 years ago.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

More parents ponder cancer gene tests for kids


Posted on 23rd September 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 9/21/2008 5:48 PM

AP Medical Writer

CHICAGO (AP) _ Women are going for breast cancer gene testing in record numbers, forcing more parents to face a tough question: Should we test the kids?

About 100,000 tests for breast cancer gene mutations were done last year, double the number in 2005. The trend may grow even more because of widening insurance coverage and a new law banning genetic discrimination.

Medical experts advise against such testing before age 25, saying that little can be done to prevent or screen for breast or ovarian cancer until then, so the knowledge would only cause needless worry.

However, new studies and interviews by The Associated Press show that many people who have BRCA gene mutations — and even more of their offspring — disagree. Cornell University freshman Jenna Stoller is one.

“I’m the kind of person that, like my mom, am more comfortable knowing something about myself than not knowing,” said Stoller, who tested positive earlier this year, shortly after her 18th birthday. Her mother made her wait five years after revealing her own positive test result, even though Jenna wanted to be tested at age 13.

“I remember thinking on my 17th birthday that I had another year to wait till I could make the decision for myself,” she said.

Research also shows there can be benefits to at least talking about testing and inherited cancer risks with teens. It led some to quit smoking, one study found. Others, like Stoller, were advised to limit alcohol and avoid birth control pills, which can raise the risk of breast cancer though they also lower the risk of ovarian cancer.

A decade after BRCA testing began, researchers are just starting to discover the many effects that someone’s positive test can have on other family members. A big issue is whether it is ethical or good to test minors.

“I’ve seen a fair number of parents in clinic who have really struggled with this question,” said Dr. Angela Bradbury, a breast cancer specialist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia who has led several studies on the topic.

Myriad Genetics Inc., based in Salt Lake City, sells the only BRCA gene test, which costs up to $3,000.

Men can also carry a BRCA mutation, and if either parent does, a child has a 50-50 chance of inheriting it. The mutations are most common in people of eastern European Jewish descent.

Women with a faulty gene have a three to seven times greater risk of developing breast cancer and a higher risk of ovarian cancer. Men have more risk of prostate, pancreatic and other types of cancer.

To lower risk, women can consider anti-estrogen drugs or having their breasts or ovaries removed. But these drastic measures are not advised for very young women. Even mammograms are not advised till age 25, because cancer is rare before then.

So the American Society of Clinical Oncology and other groups say that when the risk of childhood cancer is low and nothing can be done to lower it, children should not be given gene tests.

“The rule is, do no harm — test only if you can offer something that will help,” said Mary-Claire King, the University of Washington scientist who in 1990 discovered the first breast cancer predisposition gene, BRCA-1.

“The life of a young girl is complicated enough already. There is nothing about it that needs to change” if she carries one of these genes, King said.

But some parents are testing girls before they even have breasts, let alone cancer risk. One woman had her 4-year-old daughter tested, said Sue Friedman, executive director of FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, a Tampa-based support group for people with BRCA genes.

Another woman tested two very young children several years ago at Baptist Health South Florida in Miami.

“We wanted to know — it’s as simple as that,” she said. “Kids are born with all kinds of defects that parents have to make decisions about. I just think this is one of those things,” said the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of privacy concerns for her children.

Rae Wruble, a nurse and genetics adviser at Baptist Health, said this woman was the only one in more than 900 she has counseled who chose to test very young children. Wruble said she always tells patients that cancer groups recommend against testing minors and why. But she admitted: “If I had young children, I would have tested them because that’s just the kind of person I am — I would want to know.”

Most parents do not peek inside their child’s gene toolbox, Friedman said. “It does deny the actual patient informed consent.”

“I feel very strongly that people should not test their children, but children should make their own decision,” said Jill Stoller, a New Jersey pediatrician who is the mother of Jenna, the Cornell student.

Jenna had hours of counseling before doctors agreed that for her, testing was the right choice. However, Jennifer Scalia Wilbur, a counselor at Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I., told of a 19-year-old who had testing without counseling and now wants to remove her breasts and not have children.

“It was extremely distressing” to talk with her now and try to correct her overly dire outlook, she said.

At a meeting of the oncology society in June, Bradbury reported on a survey she did of 163 adult BRCA gene carriers in the Chicago area. About half supported testing minors in some or all circumstances. A previous survey she led of 53 gene carriers and 22 of their offspring (ages 18 to 25) found about the same degree of support. Most sons and daughters favored testing minors.

Another of her studies, recently published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, explored how sons and daughters ages 18 to 25 were affected by learning that a parent had tested positive.

Some effects were good — five of the seven smokers said they were motivated to quit.

Most said the knowledge had no big negative effect, but six of the 22 said they felt frightened or disturbed.

“I was shocked, scared. I wondered if I was going to get the gene and realized I could pass it to my (future) kids. I would feel like it was my fault if they got cancer,” one daughter said in the survey.

Two sons said the knowledge might change their plans to have children. Five daughters and two sons had already gone for gene testing, and nearly all of the rest said they planned to be tested.

Wanting to test minors can be a knee-jerk response that changes after counseling. Tammy LeVasseur of North Attleboro, Mass., at first thought she wanted all three of her daughters to be tested after she learned of her own positive result in July.

She later decided to encourage testing for her two oldest daughters, ages 26 and 28, who had already finished having children, but not for Jessica, who just turned 17.

“I want to wait until I’m in my 20s,” Jessica LeVasseur said. “They wouldn’t do anything about it. There’s no reason to worry now. I’d rather just be able to finish my teenage years without worrying about that.”


On the Net:

National Cancer Institute:

FORCE support group:

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.