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Hello, and welcome to Parenting News Online! I originally started this website in order to bring you, a parent, newsworthy articles about parenting, health, nutrition, and coping skills. What it has morphed into is a collection of articles based on new medical research related to kids. And I hope you enjoy paging through the articles as much as I enjoy writing them.

But I do need some help from you. I would ask you to submit ideas for topics on the form below. Otherwise I’ll just keep writing about whatever tickles my fancy. And that’s not really the point. Please take a second and tell me what you want to know, and I’ll do my best to bring it to you.

And thank you again for coming!


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Give it a whiff: for prostate cancer?

enoseI have to admit, my mind works in funny ways sometimes. I’m sitting here with a stupid cold, drowning in my own mucous, so I thought about looking for interesting pediatric studies on guaifenesin, my current savior. Nothing exciting this year. How about mucous in kids? Heaven knows they make enough of that! There was a link to nose-picking but I thought that would be too gross. Then I saw a link to the electronic nose, or e-nose as it’s called. I had to search on that! Well it turns out that researchers are using the e-nose for analyzing herbs, contaminants, toxins, and all sorts of other applications in the food industry. But someone thought to give the urine of guys undergoing prostate surgery an e-sniff, and this is what they found.

In this study, researchers analyzed the urine of 50 men with known prostate cancer about to undergo radical prostatectomy, and urine from another 15 men without cancer about to undergo prostate surgery for enlarged prostates. The e-nose detected cancer in 78% of the men with cancer and ruled out cancer correctly about 2/3 of the time.

I am a self-proclaimed geek, and anything to do with biotechnology fascinates me. I hunted around Google to find an images of the e-nose, but it really just looks like an overly-large cell phone. But this is pretty cool technology to have in the palm of one’s hand. One always hears about dogs who can detect cancer in humans by sniffing around, so maybe this is the beginning of a fast, inexpensive, noninvasive technology that will save lives. Without the dog breath!


Roine A, Veskimäe E, Kumpulainen AT, et al. Detection of prostate cancer by an electronic nose: a proof-of-principle study. J Urol, 26 February 2014 (Article in Press DOI: 10.1016/j.juro.2014.01.113).



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Parent attitudes affect kids bipolar disorder

Parents with child Statue, Hrobákova street, P...

Parents with child Statue, Hrobákova street, Petržalka, Bratislava (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Different parents react in different ways to their children’s behavior. Some parents get angry, yell, cry, and in general act out. Some parents ignore behaviors completely. It is hard to know what is the right thing to do when there is a behavioral problem, but somewhere in between these two extremes is probably the right answer.


This scientist looked at the association between how the parents respond to their child and the intensity of the child’s behavior. She evaluated 20 kids with bipolar disorder and their parents using a standardized method. The results of the study showed that there was a direct relationship between how parents responded to their kids and how severe the child’s symptoms were expressed. The conclusion was that family therapy, teaching parents different and more constructive ways of responding to their children, could be helpful in the treatment of bipolar disorder in their kids.


Parents are rarely given an instruction book when they give birth, but studies like this emphasize what a difference parenting style can make in their kids. Talk to your primary care provider for guidance on classes, books, and incredible Internet resources like this web site!




Griffiths M, “The association of expressed emotion and symptom severity in adolescents with juvenile bipolar disorder: Assessing the adolescents’ perceptions of parental expressed emotion and the family environment. ” Alliant International University, 2011, 102 pages; 3481197.




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When to start teaching kids about sexuality

What is the best age to start talking to kids about STI prevention?

What is the best age to start talking to kids about STI prevention?

When to start teaching about sexuality has always been a difficult issue to decide. There is the fear that if we wait too long then some kids won’t think that the message applies to them. There is the fear that if we start too early it may appear we are encouraging sexual activity, or the kids may not be ready to hear it. Should it be presented at home, or in school, or in the doctor’s office? Or should we let them learn about it through social media and television? (Just kidding)

This project was performed in the Caribbean school district where they looked at outcomes of nearly 600 kids followed over time. Some of the kids learned about condom use and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention in grade 6, some in grade 10, some at both times, and some received no educational intervention. The researchers asked about HIV prevention knowledge, sexual intentions, and condom use knowledge over a 5 year period. Not surprisingly, the most benefit came to those kids who received prevention teaching at both ages, followed by those who received the education at the younger age. Next most effective was being taught about STI prevention in grade 10.

“Early and often” seems to apply to this area of parenting, just like so many other important topics: cigarette smoking, drugs, alcohol, violence, nutrition, fitness, tooth brushing, sleep habits, injury prevention. If our goal is to raise kids who are smart and make smart decisions for their own health, it’s best to start the appropriate learning interventions earlier and repeat them with some regularity.


Dinaj-Koci V, Lunn S, Deveaux L, et al. Adolescent Age at Time of Receipt of One or More Sexual Risk Reduction Interventions. J Adol Health 20 March 2014 (Article in Press DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.01.016).


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Impact of the pneumonia vaccine in France

Pneumonia and iPod Touch

Pneumonia and iPod Touch (Photo credit: cproppe)

Every once in a while it’s nice to see a massive, well-designed study come out to prove what we already know to be true. A lot of medical practice tends to rely on teachings gained, apprenticeship-style, from professors long ago. Some of those teachings turn out to be wrong in retrospect, a very humbling prospect for doctors. We ave been vaccinating kids and adults against pneumonia for many years now, and pharmaceutical companies keep improving the vaccines, with less side effects and more coverage.

Bacterial pneumonia is one of many infections that researchers have been able to impact. The pneumonia caused by Strep pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcal pneumonia, is a particularly devastating illness. It has a bad habit of killing people despite the fact that is usually responds to a medicine as simple as amoxicillin. There are many different subtypes of pneumococcal pneumonia, so doctors have had a hard time preventing all cases. But medicine has made a lot of progress.

This study is an example of good news. The researchers analyzed almost a million pediatric Emergency Department visits in France in the years after introducing a newer, broader vaccine in 2010, and the results were amazing. They saw the number of pneumonia cases that were caused by the pneumococcal bacteria drop by over 50%!

Studies like this should have a profound effect on parents trying to decide about vaccinating their kids. It is so much smarter to base a decision on a scientific study of almost a million kids than on information from a neighbor’s kids. Be smart. Vaccinate!


Angoulvant F, Levy C, Grimprel E, et al. Early Impact of 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine on Community-Acquired Pneumonia in Children. Clin Infect Dis. (2014) 58 (7): 918-924. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu006.


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New directions in treatment of hemophilia

Commercially produced factor concentrates such...

Commercially produced factor concentrates such as “Advate”, a recombinant Factor VIII produced by Baxter International, come as a white powder in a vial which must be mixed with sterile water prior to intravenous injection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hemophilia is an uncommon genetic condition that results in difficult-to-control bleeding, usually in boys. The underlying disorder is a deficiency of certain blood factors that are required to make normal clots, called Factor VIII and Factor IX among others. Accepted treatment includes giving these factors to these patients. This is highly effective treatment unless the patient begins to form antibodies against the synthetic factors, which most of these boys do eventually. They tend to require higher and higher dosages over time in order to prevent bleeding episodes, and some become treatment-resistant.

A new product has hit the market that may change all of that. Called FEIBA NF (Baxter Pharmaceuticals), the medicine bypasses the need for these escalating doses of factors. This study looked at giving FEIBA NF as a maintenance dose as opposed to using it only when bleeding occurs. The results were dramatic. Bleeding episodes were reduced by nearly 3/4 with no increase in adverse effects.

Using modern treatments, a condition that had been uniformly fatal has become a controllable chronic disorder. This is a powerful tool to have in the toolbox!

Antunes, S. V., Tangada, S., Stasyshyn, O., Mamonov, V., Phillips, J., Guzman-Becerra, N., Grigorian, A., Ewenstein, B. and Wong, W.-Y. (2014), Randomized comparison of prophylaxis and on-demand regimens with FEIBA NF in the treatment of haemophilia A and B with inhibitors. Haemophilia, 20: 65–72. doi: 10.1111/hae.12246


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Sleep patterns and pediatric bipolar disorder


Sleepless (Photo credit: RubyShoe)

Can sleep patterns help identify pediatric bipolar disorder earlier?

Some people are more morning people than others. Most night owls that I know can’t understand morning people, not only wondering why they can possibly be functioning so early but also how they can relax enough in the early evening to get to sleep. Researchers refer to this as “circadian preference“, and have used this trait as a marker for different personality types. It’s just one of the many things that makes us each unique.

In this study, scientists looked to see if circadian preference might be used to help make an early diagnosis of bipolar disorder in kids. Early diagnosis is the holy grail of medicine, since the earlier something is diagnosed, the sooner doctors can do something about it and hopefully prevent bigger problems down the road. They looked at 30 kids aged 7-17 with known bipolar disorder and compared them with 45 kids without the disorder, and surveyed their preference for morning or evening. No differences were noted between the groups in younger kids, but there was a significant difference in the adolescent age group. Older kids with bipolar disorder preferred evenings over mornings, which was consistent with findings in adult populations in other studies.

A couple of points were notable in this abstract. One was that the incidence of pediatric bipolar disorder is on the rise for some reason, with many more cases being diagnosed over the past 30 years. It makes one wonder why, although that’s a subject for another day. But the main point of the paper was to show that we as parents may be able to watch our kids a little closer to see if they begin to change their sleep patterns. Especially if there is a family history of manic-depression, a developing pattern of staying up later and difficulty falling asleep at a decent time may be a signal to get your child evaluated by your Family Doctor. There may be something that can be done before bigger problems arise, whether it’s medication, counseling, or simply enforcing a healthy bedtime. Interesting, huh?


Kim KL, Weissman AB, Puzia ME, et al. Circadian phase preference in pediatric bipolar disorder. J. Clin. Med. 2014, 3, 255-266; doi:10.3390/jcm3010255


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Brushing baby’s teeth

Crest MultiCare Whitening toothpaste

Crest MultiCare Whitening toothpaste (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The National Health Service in the United Kingdom has several really nice published guides related to parenting and child health. The Internet is full of information, but an awful lot of it is crap. How do you sort it out? My suggestion is to pick a few reputable sites and stick with them. Sites like Mayo Clinic, WebMD, your local university, and ParentingNewsOnline come to mind. I use Google Scholar almost exclusively.

I found a really nice guide on how to brush your baby’s teeth on the NHS’ website. It’s free and you can get to it here. They even have a training video for our visual learn ears out there. Parents should start working on tooth brushing with their babies as soon as first teeth begin to come through. Use a baby toothbrush and just a small amount of a toothpaste with fluoride and brush them twice per day. Most babies won’t necessarily enjoy this at first, but if you start early and are consistent, they will quickly adapt. You can model the behavior by having baby watch you as you brush your teeth.

There’s lots of good advice in the article about how to prevent decay and gum disease, how to handle the unwilling baby, how to use a washcloth to clean teeth, and tips on food choices. Nice article. Check it out!


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