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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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Bedbugs and the Eyelid Sign

English: Picture taken with permission of wome...

English: Picture taken with permission of women affected by bed Bugs in infested dwelling, by Andy Brookes BSc(Biol),FRES (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The insect world is awakening from its winter slumber in northern climates (and never stopped in the south), and our kids are often coming to mom and dad saying “Something bit me!”. It can be a real challenge sometimes trying to figure out what the offending arthropod may have been, and sometimes it can be important to figure out just what the bug was.

In this (very small) study, six kids were evaluated for bed bug bites. All of them had bites on the eyelids with redness and swelling, a finding apparently unusual in other insect bites. This can be a signal to parents to look for bedbugs if they see bites on their kids’ eyelids.



Reference: Quach, Kim A., and Andrea L. Zaenglein. “The eyelid sign: a clue to bed bug bites.” Pediatric dermatology 31.3 (2014): 353-355.

Depression, Sleep, and Electronics

With all of their hormone storms, adolescents have a hard time with mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Sleep disturbances are very common in our kids and can aggravate or even create other mental health problems. Caffeine, sugar, and stress all contribute to sleep problems. It sometimes seems like a vicious cycle: tired, drink more Monster, can’t sleep, tired.

The current study looked at 362 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 and asked them about their quality of sleep, quantity of sleep, depressive symptoms, use of electronic media before or at bedtime, and smartphone use at bedtime. What they found was that lack of sleep contributed to depression (we already knew that) and that use of electronic media such as TV watching, gaming, texting, and talking on smartphones made it harder for them to sleep.


If you have a child who is having problems with insomnia and depression, use this study as ammunition to get them to turn off the electronics in advance of bedtime. It’s a lot easier and safer than antidepressants and sedatives!

Reference: Lemola, Sakari, et al. “Adolescents’ electronic media use at night, sleep disturbance, and depressive symptoms in the smartphone age.” Journal of youth and adolescence (2014): 1-14.

Sport specialization and knee pain

Girls playing Soccer.

Girls playing Soccer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of our kids love sports and engage in many different types of activities. Besides driving the parents crazy because of all of the practices and games, it turns out that playing multiple different sports rather than just focusing on one activity is better for their joints.

This particular study looked at middle school and high school girls in several school systems in Kentucky. After getting information about the numbers and types of athletic activities in which these girls participated, researchers asked them about bone and joint symptoms. It turns out that girls who focused on one sport (it didn’t really matter which one) were more likely to develop knee pain. Kids that participated in multiple sports had less of a problem with this.


This does make sense, since repeatedly doing anything tends to cause an overuse symptom. Variety is the spice of life, from a knee standpoint!

Reference: Hall, Randon, et al. “Sports Specialization is Associated With an Increased Risk of Developing Anterior Knee Pain in Adolescent Female Athletes.” Journal of sport rehabilitation (2014).

Eczema, Humidity, and Mold

Eczema on arms

Eczema on arms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Parents of children with eczema know that there is an allergic component that triggers their child’s eczema. Whether it’s something they ate or something they breathed, certain things are known to set off a flare-up of eczema. Out come the steroid creams and potions!


But what about something as simple as dampness causing eczema? The investigators in a huge study called International Study on Asthma and Allergies in Children (ISAAC) looked at the influence of humidity and mold on eczema. They looked at records of 46,000 kids from 20 countries around the world and found that kids who live in damp, moldy housing were more likely to have symptomatic eczema than other kids. They also found that poorer kids had worse eczema than others.


This is an interesting perspective. Parents may have an easier time controlling eczema in their child simply by controlling the humidity level in their home. Buying a dehumidifier can cost less than some of those powerful medicines we give our kids. Safer, too!

Reference: Tsakok, Teresa, et al. “Eczema and indoor environment: lessons from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Phase 2.” The Lancet 385 (2015): S99.

Asthma: Does weight matter?

APRIL 21, 2015

Overweight or obese children with early-onset asthma show poorer control and a distinct pattern of symptoms, according to a study of children ages 10 to 17 years with early-onset asthma.


Researchers used various models to determine the association between a child’s weight and symptoms, and found lung function was similar between overweight, obese, and lean subjects.

However, overweight and obese kids reported using rescue treatments 3 times more often than lean subjects and were 11 times more likely to report shortness of breath. Gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn) scores were higher among overweight and obese subjects.


The study authors note that overweight children may falsely attribute symptoms of shortness of breath while exercising and esophageal reflux to asthma, leading to excess rescue medication use.

Citation: Lang JE, Hossain MJ, Lima JJ. Overweight children report qualitatively distinct asthma symptoms: Analysis of validated symptom measures. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015;135(4):886-893.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.08.029.

Biomarkers of second-hand smoke in infants

This notice doesn't like passive smoking

This notice doesn’t like passive smoking (Photo credit: James Cridland)

We can all agree that second-hand smoke is not good for the tender lungs of children. It is associated with respiratory ailments in kids like asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia, not to mention the modeling of behaviors that kids learn by watching their parents smoke. Physicians are not always good at asking about smoking around the children unless the child comes in for repeated lung infections. Also parents may not be aware of exposures their kids might encounter outside of the home.


In this study, researchers tested the plasma samples of almost 500 infants and children being tested routinely for lead levels in county health care centers in San Francisco, CA. The test measured plasma cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine that is associated with second-hand smoke. These blood test results were compared to their medical records to see how effectively the health care team was screening for second-hand smoke exposure by history. Their results showed that while thirteen percent of parents reported that their child was exposed to second-hand smoke, biochemical testing detected cotinine in 55% of samples. There were no significant sex or age differences.

In a city with a low smoking rate (12%) and public smoking bans, this study documented 55% exposure among infants and young children using a plasma biomarker, compared with 13% exposure reported by parents. Because SHS is associated with significant respiratory diseases and parents underreport exposure, these scientists recommend mandatory routine biochemical screening as a tool to identify and reduce second-hand smoke exposure. This is a very interesting, novel approach to try to reduce smoking near, and eventually smoking by, our children. –ER


Reference: Dempsey DA, et al. Determination of Tobacco Smoke Exposure by Plasma Cotinine Levels in Infants and Children Attending Urban Public Hospital. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;():1-6. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.170

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Use of probiotics in acute diarrhea in kids

Probiotics are commonly used to treat acute diarrheal illnesses in children and adults. Diarrhea is a disease of global concern, since it is one of the leading causes of death in children world-wide. Typical treatment currently consists of rehydration (giving extra fluids), nutritional support, zinc supplementation, selective antibiotic use, and parental education. Previous studies have shown that probiotics can help dramatically in the treatment of diarrhea, probably by restoring the normal bacterial make-up of the colon and improving digestion. A fear raised about probiotics is that they are in fact live bacterial cultures, and in a susceptible patient could cause systemic infections.


This study looked at the effects of adding a specialized type of probiotic called tyndallized (or killed) probiotics to see if they would accomplish the same thing. The hope was that it was the immune response caused by the presence of the bacteria, be they live or killed, that would help with the diarrhea. That turned out not to be the case, since the tyndallized probiotic treatment group did not improve faster than the group who did not receive these killed probiotics.

The message for parents is to use live probiotics when children get gastroenteritis or stomach flu. The risk of overwhelming infection is low, and the killed probiotics are a waste of money.

Reference: Fanny KM, et al. Effect of adding tyndallized probiotics to the World Health Organization standard therapy for acute diarrhea in children. Paediatr Indones, Vol. 52, No. 2, March 2012.


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