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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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Tourette syndrome and associated conditions

Splashes approximating big

(Photo credit: normalityrelief)

This is a new area of interest for me, and since it’s my website and I’m about the only one to read these articles, I get to pick! Tourette syndrome is a neurologic or neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by tics, both muscular and spoken, that starts during childhood. Once considered rare, it is now recognized to be frequently missed. As many as 4% of school-aged kids demonstrate some component of Tourette’s syndrome, but the majority of these tics resolve or are easily controlled by adulthood.

Interestingly, Tourette syndrome often accompanies other psychological issues such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is often these other conditions that are more of a long-term problem for the patient. This study looked at 158 kids with chronic tic disorder (Tourette’s syndrome) to see if these other conditions were related to the severity of the tics. They found that over half of children with Tourette syndrome also had OCD, over a third had ADHD, and a quarter had both. There were differences in severity of the tic disorder depending on the presence or absence of OCD or ADHD. Kids with OCD had worse tics, worse depression and anxiety, worse stress levels, and worse overall functioning. Patients who had ADHD did not have worse tics, but did have worse stress levels and worse overall functioning. They also had more symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder.

It’s interesting to speculate that these conditions and others may have common causes and common pathways. That leads to hope that if and when we find a cure for one, we will have the cure for all of them.



Lebowitz ER, et al. “Tourette syndrome in youth with and without obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2012, DOI: 10.1007/s00787-012-0278-5.



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Air pollution, temperature and peds influenza

English: Air pollution in Poznań, Kolejowa Str...

English: Air pollution in Poznań (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One hears about epidemics that hit certain schools while other cities don’t seem to have that problem. These researchers studied the effects of weather and environmental factors on the incidence of influenza in Australia over a 7 year time period.

This study looked at culture-proven influenza and compared years based on environmental conditions. They looked at the impacts of air pollution, temperature, and ozone levels. What they found was that cooler temperatures, higher air pollution, and higher ozone levels were associated with higher influenza rates. The relative risk values weren’t huge, but a definite trend was seen. This shows that areas that are warmer with lower pollution may have some protection against influenza for your children. It could be an important consideration for children who are immune compromised from underlying illnesses for whom influenza could be devastating.


Zhiwei Xu, Wenbiao Hu, Gail Williams, Archie C.A. Clements, Haidong Kan, Shilu Tong. Air pollution, temperature and pediatric influenza in Brisbane, Australia. Environment International, Volume 59, September 2013, Pages 384-388.



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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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