If Your Child Has This Doll, You Should Get Rid of It Now

There’s a toy in your daughter’s bed that is taking in your nighttime stories, transmitting her every giggle, listening to her every breath.

And possibly talking back to her.

 And parents are being asked to find it, replace it and completely destroy it. It’ the My Friend Cayla doll.

Tech news sites like PC Mag and even the BBC are reporting that, in Germany, the My Friend Cayla dolls are basically illegal. And that they put any child at risk for have his or her privacy invaded, since hackers can use an unsecure bluetooth device that is embedded in the toy “to listen and talk to the child playing with it.”

So not only can hackers eavesdrop on your child, but they can speak to them through the doll.

The risk of Smart Toy hackings has been an issue since January of 2015, and experts warn that the software has not been fixed.

The Vivid Toy group, which distributes the doll, claims that their product is safe. And yet the company and the Toy Retailers Association state clearly that keeping a child safe while playing with the doll is up to parents. The TRA told BBC, “we would always expect parents to supervise their children at least intermittently.”

That’s kind of the opposite purpose of child play but nevermind.

The My Friend Cayla dolls isn’t the first or only internet enabled doll on the market, and Germans aren’t the only ones to push back against open access to kids’ conversations.

‘Two years ago, Mattel introduced Hello Barbie, which was roundly deemed totally freaking creepy.

While Hello Barbie is still on the market, it was not the success Mattel was hoping for. In fact, Hello Barbie couldn’t catch a break when she was named Worst Toy of 2015 by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Parents and watchdog groups are right to be concerned about these internet-enabled toys. Not only do they have real privacy risks, they also stymie creativity. A doll that can talk back leaves little room for imagination.

This latest warning about the My Friend Cayla doll points to a larger issue modern parents face in an increasingly connected world that compromises privacy—in many homes by choice. Devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home were huge hits the past Christmas season. While these devices aren’t marketed to children, they are still listening to them—and you.

People love being able to play music, set timers and get news updates, but those conveniences come at a price—nearby family’s privacy. Just like My Friend Cayla, Alexa—the “personal assistant” talking to me from my Amazon Echo—is always listening.

Smart devices aren’t going away, but privacy protections are slow to catch up. Until then, privacy advocates recommend you go ahead and keep them out of the toy box.

How to Make Sure Your Child Gets the Probiotics He Needs

It may come as a surprise to new parents that infants and children can benefit from probiotics just as much or even more so than adults. In fact, right after birth is one of parents’ greatest opportunities to help establish an optimal, life-long foundation of health for their child.

Your child’s microflora contains both beneficial “good” bacteria as well as less-than-beneficial microbes. The balance of good-to-bad is key. Researchers are discovering that a healthy balance of gut microbes can make a significant difference in health, both during an infant’s early years and throughout his life.

An infant acquires his or her microflora, or unique set of gut bacteria, from mom while in utero through the placenta and during and after birth. The womb really isn’t the sterile place we thought it was for so many years! Instead, we now know the growing fetus is receiving valuable strains of bacteria from mom during gestation to help educate his immune system.

With a vaginal birth, the baby is “seeded” with additional beneficial microbes as she passes through the birth canal. While a Caesarean-born baby doesn’t receive these types of microbes from mom, baby instead starts life with microflora from the surface of mom’s skin.

The days following birth are important, too, for baby’s microflora, regardless of how she entered the world. Skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding both offer valuable opportunities to seed baby’s new microbiome with beneficial bacteria.

Why an Infant’s Healthy Microbiome Matters

Your baby’s microflora lays the foundation for life-long immunity and overall well being. Researchers now know these microbes influence the activity of hundreds of genes within your child’s body.

Eighty percent of the immune system lies in the gut. That’s true for you and your baby. A healthy gut with diverse beneficial microflora is essential for your baby’s immune function. You want to help your infant develop a healthy microbiome as early as possible to help them defend against less-than-beneficial bacteria.

An infant with a good balance of gut flora may also show a greater ability to resist allergens and other typical childhood health stressors. If your infant has the proper balance of beneficial microflora in his gut, the beneficial bacteria can help protect him from “foreign invaders” as well as pathogenic viruses and bacteria.

new born baby

A newborn’s gut lining is permeable and can allow “foreign” materials to pass through into the bloodstream, increasing the potential for an allergic response. When a baby is breastfed, mom’s first milk or colostrum helps form a protective barrier on this mucosal lining. This protective barrier also serves as a breeding ground for beneficial microbes that help provide additional reinforcement.

If for some reason you’re unable to breastfeed your infant, please consider providing some type of probiotics (suggestions below). Baby formula is not an acceptable substitute for mother’s milk when it comes to helping to build your child’s microbiome.

Providing your infant with additional baby probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, soon after birth can help ensure the development of a healthy microflora and help minimize the development of allergies.

Beneficial bacteria are key to your infant’s intestinal comfort. Studies show that babies who have an abundance of beneficial bacteria or receive probiotics for infants tend to experience less gas, colic, and reflux, and have more regular elimination.

Having a healthy balance of gut microbes may be important for your child’s weight management throughout life, according to recent studies. Your child’s microflora also plays a role in brain health and development.

Your Baby’s Microflora Can Only Be as Good as Mom’s

Your baby depends on you for passing on a healthy, well-balanced microflora. The quality of his gut microbes can only be as good as yours. And surprisingly, researchers are discovering that both mom’s and dad’s microflora matter!

If your baby was born via Caesarean, he missed out on some of the beneficial microbes that normally exist in the birth canal. But even if your baby was born vaginally, it’s no guarantee he will receive a healthy gut microflora. Many moms have a compromised microbiome and don’t know it. That can affect what baby receives throughout gestation.

Factors that can negatively affect a mother’s healthy microbiome include:

  • Taking antibiotics
  • Using heartburn pills
  • Having a vaginal infection at time of delivery
  • Drinking fluoridated and chlorinated water
  • Eating processed and sugary foods
  • Consuming GMOs or bioengineered ingredients in foods
  • Eating foods with pesticides and antibiotic residues

For all these reasons, it’s very important for women (and men) who plan to have children to consider their own microbiome first.

Studies show a growing number of women have vaginal infections at the time they give birth but may not realize it. This can introduce unfriendly microbes into your baby’s microflora and have a negative long-term effect on your child’s health and brain development.

The Toll Childhood Takes on a Healthy Microbiome

Starting life with a healthy microbiome is just the first step. Once your baby enters the world, additional factors jeopardize the health of his or her microflora, including:

Healthy child
  • Antibiotics
  • Fluoridated or chlorinated water
  • Air pollution
  • Processed and sugary foods
  • Bioengineered ingredients, or GMOs
  • Pesticides and antibiotics in foods
  • An overly aggressive vaccine schedule

Safeguarding your baby’s or child’s microbiome requires vigilance, typically for their entire lifetime. Real threats to gut health aren’t about to vanish, so it’s up to you as his parent to make sure his beneficial gut microbes thrive early in life.

Protecting Your Child’s Well-Being With Baby Probiotics

Whether you want to make sure your baby starts life with a healthy supply of beneficial gut microbes, or you want to help replenish his microflora, there’s a simple step you can take, starting right after birth: Introduce your baby to fermented vegetables and fermented raw dairy products.

Many cultures around the world routinely give their young probiotic foods early in life. It make be kefir diluted with water or a bit of the juice from fermented vegetables.

Simply feeding your baby one or more spoonfuls of the juice will provide benefits and help get him used to the taste early on. Establishing the habit of consuming probiotic-rich fermented vegetables from an early age is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.

Preparing fermented vegetables at home is an activity the whole family can enjoy together. This simple-to-prepare recipe will get you started. Eating a serving or more of properly prepared fermented vegetables can offer healthful benefits to everyone in your household

Another powerful way to help restore your baby’s beneficial gut flora is to feed very small amounts of raw organic grass-fed yogurt or kefir (not commercial yogurt or kefir from the grocery store). Ideally, make your own at home with raw organic milk.

Using Probiotics for Infants and Children

It’s ideal to start probiotics as early as possible to help promote a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria. If your baby must receive antibiotics, give probiotics before and after treatment. Always consult with your newborn’s healthcare provider when using probiotics if your baby is ill or requires special medical attention.

unborn baby

Your baby’s gut may have millions of naturally occurring bacteria, but you must start slowly and proceed carefully when feeding your baby extra probiotics. His immune system is not yet mature, so you don’t want to overwhelm it, especially if your baby has any type of compromised gut integrity. Being born prematurely or being fed concentrated formula instead of breast milk can affect your baby’s gut.

No matter what form of probiotics you use, always dilute it with breast milk or water according to these guidelines. Preferred strains for newborns include bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Lactobacilli are a minor component of your baby’s intestinal microflora. Human strains of these bacilli are preferable because of their natural occurrence, long-term safety record for infants, and adaptability to their ecosystem. Multiple strains are preferable to single for optimal benefits.

Summary of Suggested Protocols for Use of Probiotics in Neonates

(From Deshpande et al., BMC Medicine 2011)

When to Start When the neonate is ready for enteral feeds, preferably within first 7 days of life
When to Stop May need to stop the supplementation during an acute illness, such as sepsis, NEC, or perinatal asphyxia
 Strains Combination of strains containing Lactobacillus and at least one Bifidobacterium species is preferable;Lactobacillus GG alone may not be effective
Dosages Neonates less than 32 weeks gestation: 3 x 109 cfu/day in a single dose; ELBW neonates: 1.5 x 109 cfu/day in single dose until they reach enteral feeds of 50-60 ml/kg/day
Osmolality Solution should be diluted to keep the osmolality below 600 mOsm/L
Diluent Sterile water or breast milk (NOTE: leftover solution should be discarded after giving small doses as it may become contaminated)
Volume for Administration 1.0 to 1.5 ml per dose
Monitoring Patients should be monitored for intolerance (abdominal distension, diarrhea, vomiting), probiotic sepsis, and adverse effects (flatulence, loose stools) of additives such as prebiotic oligosaccharides.

9 Secrets of Highly Happy Children.

Story at-a-glance

  • Stress, depression and poor mood impact kids just like adults, so tending to your child’s emotional health is vitally important
  • Healthy eating, proper sleep, and time for free play are essential for kids’ happiness
  • Kids also need unconditional love, the ability to make choices and express their emotions, and they need to feel heard by their parents
  • You have a tremendous impact on your child’s happiness; lead by example by modeling happy, healthy habits for your children

Children are probably not the first ones who come to mind when you think about stress. After all, they’ve got no bills to worry about, no job or other responsibilities on their shoulders…


Yet, children feel stress, too – often significantly. They worry about making friends, succeeding at school or sports, and fitting in with their peers. They may also struggle with the divorce of their parents or feel anxious about war and violence they see on the news.

While a child’s natural state is to be happy, vibrant and curious, it’s estimated that up to 15 percent of children and teens are depressed at any given time.1

In reality, many of the same worries that make you feel anxious and sad have the same impact on your children. However, kids also have unique needs that can interfere with their ability to be happy if left unmet.

Nine Tips for Raising a Happy Child

Virtually every parent wants their child to be happy. The Huffington Postrecently highlighted seven simple strategies for achieving this goal,2 and I’ve added a couple of my own as well.

1. Healthy Eating

Mood swings and even depression in kids are often the result of a heavily processed-food diet. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain! Your gut and brain actually work in tandem, each influencing the other.

This is why your child’s intestinal health can have such a profound influence on his mental health, and vice versa – and why eating processed foods that can harm his gut flora can have a profoundly negative impact on his mood, psychological health and behavior.

The simplest way back toward health and happiness, for children and adults alike, is to focus on WHOLE foods — foods that have not been processed or altered from their original state; food that has been grown or raised as nature intended, without the use of chemical additives, pesticides and fertilizers.

You, a family member, or someone you pay will need to invest time in the kitchen cooking fresh wholesome meals from these whole foods so that you can break free from the processed food diet that will ultimately make you and your children sick.

Food is a part of crucial lifestyle choices first learned at home, so you need to educate yourself about proper nutrition and the dangers of junk food and processed foods in order to change the food culture of your entire family. 

To give your child the best start at life, and help instill healthy habits that will last a lifetime, you must lead by example. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend reading my nutrition plan first. This will provide you with the foundation you need to start making healthy food choices for your family.

2. Eating on Time

If a child goes too long without eating, it may lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels that lead to irritability. Children need to refuel their growing bodies on a regular schedule, so try to keep your child’s meal and snack times consistent.

3. Regular, High-Quality Sleep

Too little sleep not only makes kids prone to being grouchy and having mood swings, it also negatively impacts children’s behavior and attention. In fact, as little as 27 minutes of extra sleep a night has been shown to have a positive impact on children’s mood and behavior.3

Children aged 5 to 12 need about 10-11 hours of sleep a night for optimal mood and health. To help your child get a good night’s sleep, get the TV, computer, video games and cell phone out of your child’s bedroom, and be sure the room is as dark as possible. Even the least bit of light in the room can disrupt your child’s internal clock and her pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. I recommend using blackout shades or drapes. For my complete recommendations and guidelines that can help you improve your child’s sleep, please see my article 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep.

4. Free Play

Unstructured playtime is essential for kids to build their imagination, relieve stress and simply be kids. Yet today, many kids are so over-scheduled that they scarcely have time to eat dinner and do homework, let alone have any free time for play. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics states that free, unstructured play is essential for children to manage stress and become resilient, as well as reach social, emotional and cognitive development milestones.4

Along with slowing down and resisting the urge to sign your child up for too many activities, be sure to provide your child with simple toys like blocks and dolls that allow for creative play. Free play time is also an ideal time for active play – like tag or chasing butterflies – which is naturally mood-boosting (as exercise is for adults).

5. Express Emotions

Kids need to yell, cry, stomp their feet and run around with excitement. This is how they express their emotions, which is healthy for emotional development and will prevent a lifetime of internalizing negative emotions. Encourage and allow your child to vent and express his emotions in healthy ways.

6. Make Choices

Kids are constantly being told what to do, so giving them the ability to make choices goes a long way toward increasing their happiness. Try letting your child decide what to wear or what to eat (within reason), or give her a few choices for activities and let her decide which one to do.

7. They Feel Heard

Your child knows when you’re not really listening to them (such as if you’re ‘talking’ to them while surfing the Web or watching TV). Yet a child’s happiness will soar when he feels like his parents truly listen and respond to what he’s saying. Not only will you feel more connected to your child, but you’ll also build his self-confidence and happiness.

8. Unconditional Love

Above all else, children need unconditional love, and they need it consistently. If your child makes a mistake, let her know you still love and support her regardless. Your child will grow up confident and happy knowing you are behind her every step of the way.

9. Be Happy Yourself

If you’re stressed out and unhappy, your child will sense this and also feel sad and worried in response. You are your child’s first role model, so lead by example by embracing the bright side of life. If you need some help, use these 22 positive habits of happy people to become a happy person yourself.

Does Your Child’s Mood Need an Extra Boost?

If you’ve addressed the lifestyle factors listed above, especially proper diet, sleep and time for free, unstructured play, but your child is still unhappy (for no obvious reason, such as being bullied or due to stress such as divorce at home), try these three tips below:

·         High-quality animal-based omega-3 fats: Low concentrations of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are known to increase your risk for mood swings and mood disorders. Those suffering from depression have been found to have lower levels of omega-3 in their blood, compared to non-depressed individuals. Krill oil is my preferred source of omega-3 fats.

·         Regular sun exposure: This is essential for vitamin D production, low levels of which are linked to depression. But even beyond vitamin D, regular safe sun exposure is known to enhance mood and energy through the release of endorphins.

·         Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): If difficult life circumstances and the negative emotions they create are making happiness hard to come by for your child, try EFT, which is a form of do-it-yourself psychological acupressure. This simple technique can help clear your body and mind of negative emotions so you can implement positive goals and habits more easily in your life, and kids can learn to do it themselves.

·         Source: mercola.com



5 Powerful Ways to Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem.


I hate the way I look” your child mutters turning away from the mirror in anger.

Or perhaps, “everyone is smarter than me” or “I’m no good at sports” or “I just can’t do anything right!”

The list goes on, and for children with low self-esteem, it’s a long one.

You try explaining to your child why they are wrong, you point out other people’s failings (after all, no one is perfect), you comfort them and help them find ways of improving, you even talk to their teachers… but nothing seems to help. Your child’s confidence is in the pits and you don’t know what else to do.

It’s a heart-breaking situation for any parent and an incredibly disempowering one for your child. Fortunately, it’s not an insurmountable one.

Because you see, self-esteem is about confidence, about being able to esteem or admire ourselves, and the problem is simply that your child doesn’t know how to do that.

When a child has low self-esteem:

– they are making incorrect assumptions and setting unrealistic expectations about themselves.

– they are unaware of their own abilities.

– they are inaccurately comparing themselves to others.

– they lack courage to be themselves.

– they feel disempowered.

Each of these is about your child not being able to accurately assess their skills, ability, intellect, or performance. And since nobody really teaches them how to do it, is it any surprise they are struggling?

Fortunately, this is something you can teach them.

And these 5 strategies can help.

1. Learn What you Can and Cannot Change

Our behaviors are things we can change, our identity we cannot. This is important to understand because it helps children separate the things that they do from the person they are.

It’s the difference between saying “I said something mean to someone” and “I am a mean person.”

A child may do something they are not proud of, but that is something they can change. It doesn’t mean that they are unworthy of admiration on the whole.

Here are some ways to practice separating behaviors from identity:

– when you hear your child speaking negatively about themselves, help them understand whether those feelings relate to a behavior or their identity.

– help your child identify ways of improving the behaviors they don’t like.

– point out positive behavior and celebrate the fact that your child made those choices.

– share instances when you or others are blurring this distinction and invite your child to break down the behaviors from the identity.

2. Know How to Measure your Awesomeness

We love comparing ourselves to others and using these comparisons to gauge our own awesomeness. Children do this to a fault and it’s devastating. The problem is that your child is completely different from any other person against whom they are measuring up, but they don’t realize that. Most think that “awesomeness” is a gradient scale with the cool kids on one end and them on the other.

What they need is a new way to evaluate themselves, one that has nothing to do with the other kids. To help you along, you can try this:

– help your child define their own personal notion of “awesomeness” or “success“

– teach them how to self-evaluate their progress and determine whether their personal expectations are being met.

3. Dream Big, Really Big

We want to protect our children when they have low self-esteem, so we try to manage their aspirations, setting low expectations so that they don’t loose the little confidence they already have. Ironically, this has the exact opposite effect (and worse, it can actually enhance your child’s low self-esteem). Why?

Because your child’s dreams and aspirations are the things they really, truly want for themselves, the things they are willing to fight for, the things they believe we deserve. And you want them to think they deserve the world, that they are worth it.

What you don’t want is for them to think they are incapable of reaching those dreams, that they have failed, because that only reinforces their notion that they are unworthy.

So, help your child set high aspirations: 

– help them identify what is important to them now (what they care about and why) and how they can.

– help them set realistic, but achievable expectations.

– teach them to build the courage to dream big.

4. Practice Empathy and Collaboration

Empathy is about understanding people who are different than us. Children with low self-esteem have a difficult time seeing their uniqueness as something of value. Empathy forces them to experience diversity, to see the uniqueness of others and realize that it’s ok to be different.

Collaboration is about working with others to create something new and meaningful. It teaches us that we all have something to contribute, and allows children to see that they have the power to impact others in real and important ways.

Some good ways to practice empathy and collaboration are:

– expose your child to different experiences and help them find words to describe how they feel.

– talk to your child about events happening around the world and how those events are impacting other people.

– help your child identify the feelings that other people might be experiencing and relate those to his or her own feelings.

– encourage your child to interact with people who are different than they are and then talk about what those differences add to the relationship.

5. Speak your Mind

Children with low self-esteem have a difficult time formulating their own opinions and speaking out. Unfortunately, this only reinforces their feelings of inadequacy, making it difficult for them to be true to themselves and what they believe. Worse, it makes them highly susceptible to being manipulated by others who are more confident or persuasive.

It is not easy for a child with low self-esteem to speak their mind, but it is also one of the most empowering things they can learn to do.

Here are some ideas to help you along:

– create an environment in your home that encourages individual opinions.

– have open and honest dialogue with your child about their (and your) concerns.

– as a family, show mutual respect for and a willingness to consider different points of view.

– give your child opportunities to speak their minds and hearts (even if you disagree).

– encourage your child to say the things they mean and mean the things they say.

– challenge your child on their opinions and invite them to do the same.

It is not easy raising a child with low self-esteem, but you can change your child’s life –> the next time you talk with them, listen to what they say about themselves. Start by helping them separate what relates to their behavior from what relates to their identity. By the end of the day, you’ll be well on your way to boosting their self-esteem.


Source: Purpose fairy



Clinicians Should Listen to Their Guts When Treating Kids, Study Suggests

When assessing children with acute illness, clinicians should not discount their “gut feeling” that something is seriously wrong, even if clinical examination suggests otherwise, according to a BMJ study.

Researchers recorded primary care physicians‘ overall clinical impression (based on history, observation, and exam) of children presenting with acute symptoms. They also recorded the physicians’ intuitive, or “gut,” feelings about illness severity.

Roughly 3400 children were clinically assessed as having a nonserious illness, six of whom were eventually admitted with a serious infection (most frequently, pneumonia or pyelonephritis). When clinicians had a gut feeling that something was wrong despite their assessment, the likelihood of serious illness increased 26-fold.

The authors conclude: “We suggest that having a gut feeling that something is wrong should make three things mandatory: the carrying out of a full and careful examination, seeking advice from more experienced clinicians (by referral if necessary), and providing the parent with carefully worded advice to act as a ‘safety net.'”

Source: BMJ



Urinary BPA Levels Tied to Obesity in Kids .

Children with higher levels of urinary bisphenol A (BPA) — a chemical found in many food and beverage containers — are more likely to be obese, according to a JAMA study.

Researchers studied some 2800 children and adolescents aged 6 through 19 years who participated in an NHANES survey between 2003 and 2008. All participants provided urine samples for BPA measurement, had their BMIs measured, and answered lifestyle questionnaires.

After adjustment for confounders including caloric intake and television watching, children with higher BPA concentrations were twice as likely to be obese as those with the lowest concentrations (roughly 20% vs. 10%). The BPA–obesity link was significant only among white children.

The researchers cite studies showing that BPA interferes with “multiple metabolic mechanisms.” Nonetheless, they acknowledge that their cross-sectional analysis “cannot rule out the possibility that obese children ingest food with higher BPA content or have greater adipose stores of BPA.”

Source: JAMA

Caregivers Ignoring Car Seat Safety Guidelines .

Caregivers are largely ignoring child passenger safety guidelines, often transitioning children out of rear-facing seats and booster seats too early, according to an American Journal of Preventive Medicine study.

Researchers observed safety restraint use for more than 20,000 children under age 13 years during 2007–2009. Among the findings:

  • Well under 20% of children aged 0 to 3 years were rear-facing, even though 84% of children in this age group were younger than 1.
  • After age 7, less then 2% of children used booster seats, which are recommended until kids reach roughly 4 feet, 9 inches tall.
  • Many children over age 6 rode in the front seat, including one quarter of 8- to 10-year-olds; guidelines say children should remain in the back seat until age 13.

The researchers direct clinicians to the American Academy of Pediatrics 2011 guidelines on child passenger safety for help in counseling parents.

Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine article


Oral Immunotherapy Shows Promise for Children with Egg Allergy .

Oral immunotherapy with egg-white powder can lead to sustained unresponsiveness to the allergen in nearly a third of children with egg allergy, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study.

Researchers randomized 55 children (aged 5 to 11 years) with egg allergy to oral immunotherapy with egg-white powder or placebo. Immunotherapy lasted 22 months and involved dose-escalation on day one, a build-up phase, and a maintenance phase in which children consumed up to 2 g/day of egg-white powder (roughly equivalent to a third of an egg).

At 22 months, three quarters of immunotherapy recipients passed a 10-g egg-white powder challenge (no placebo recipient did). And 2 months after immunotherapy ended, 28% of treated children successfully ate a whole egg; these children were consuming eggs a year later.

In Journal Watch Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, David Amrol writes: “Although oral immunotherapy is our best chance for a food allergy cure, it is not ready for mainstream use until protocols are further refined. Patients who are not enrolled in clinical trials must continue to rely on allergen avoidance, patient education, and self-injectable epinephrine.”

Source: NEJM

Swine Flu Pandemic Hit Children the Hardest

Elderly Population Relatively Spared, Says CDC Report, Which Cites ‘Unusual Patterns’ of H1N1 Flu Strain

July 29, 2010 — The H1N1 flu strain that sparked the first influenza pandemic in four decades has caused the majority of flu cases so far in the 2009-2010 season, the CDC says.

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner tells WebMD that the so-called swine flu bug has affected the very young more than elderly people in the current influenza season, which “is not normally the case.”

“We have had a lot more young people get this flu and die than in a normal flu season,” Skinner says.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for July 30, 2010, says the H1N1 strain has shown “unusual patterns of disease, disproportionately affecting children and young adults and relatively sparing the elderly.”

The MMWR says the proportion of visits to health care providers for flu-like illnesses has been among the highest this season since surveillance began in 1997.

Between April 2009 and June 12, 2010, about 740,000 flu specimens were tested, and the number of laboratory-confirmed cases was about four times the average of the previous four seasons.

Of 91,152 confirmed flu cases in that period, 99.8%, or 66,916, were caused by the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain, the MMWR says.

Between Aug. 30, 2009, through June 12, 2010, the CDC report says the peak proportion of outpatient visits to doctors for flu-like illness was among the highest seen since current record keeping.

Swine Flu Numbers

The MMWR says that:

  • From Sept. 1, 2009, through May 1, 2010, flu-associated hospitalizations for children up to age 4 was 6.7 per 10,000 and youths 5-17, 2.5 per 10,000.
  • Rates for adults were 2.5 per 10,000 for people 18-49, 3.2 for those 50-64, and 2.8 for those 65 and older.
  • During the entire H1N1 pandemic season through May 1, 2010, cumulative rates of hospitalization were 8.3 per 10,000 for children up to 4, 3.4  for ages 5-17, 3.0 for people 18-49, and 3.8 for those 50-64. The rate was 3.2 for people 65 and older.

“A dramatic increase in hospitalizations in the younger age groups was indicative of the influenza pandemic’s impact on children,” the MMWR says.

Between Aug. 30, 2009, and June 12, 2010, 279 lab-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported — four times the average in the previous five influenza seasons, CDC says. The report says that:

  • 52 of the deaths were of children aged 2 and under.
  • 30 children between ages 2 and 4 died.
  • 103 of the deaths were of children aged 5-11, and 94 were aged 12-17.
  • Of the 279 deaths, 226 were associated with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain, 51 with influenza A of unreported subtype, and two with influenza B.

CDC estimates that 43 million to 89 million people became sick with the pandemic H1N1 strain between April 2009 and April 2010.

Researchers recommend that doctors should “remain vigilant” and consider influenza as a potential cause of respiratory illnesses during the summer.

It says influenza vaccines are being produced in greater numbers for the 2010-2011 season in part because the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted in February 2010 to encourage immunization for all people 6 and over.