Tylenol and Kids? What are the risks?

Many of us have used Tylenol growing up as kids for headaches, fevers, aches, and pains.  Now as we have gotten older and have kids of our own, our pediatricians are still telling us to use Tylenol on our kids for when they have fevers, but is it safe?

Today, more and more research has been coming out linking the increase risk in asthma in children who are given Tylenol.  A study recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found a 29% increase in the likelihood of an infant who used paracetamol having asthma at age 3 and at age 7 years.  Paracetamol is another name for Acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol, Panadol, Anacin, and many other brands. According to the CDC, every year asthma is responsible for14.2 million physician office visits, 1.8 million emergency-department visits, 439,000 hospital stays, and more than 3,500 deaths.  And yet, a drug that increase the risk of asthma in children by 2, 3 and 5 times depending on the frequency of use continues to be sold and prescribed to parents unaware of the potential risks.

In the ISAAC (International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood) study, researchers looked at more than 205,000 children, ages 6 to 7, in 31 countries and found that acetaminophen use for fever in the first year of life was linked to increased risk of asthma symptoms in children 6 to 7 years old. Current use of acetaminophen was also linked to increased risk of asthma symptoms.

Tylenol use doing pregnancy also has its risks. Its use has been linked to an increase in the risk of their child developing ADHD.  According to the research article in JAMA Pediatrics in February, “Children whose mothers took acetaminophen while pregnant had up to a 40 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with ADHD, according to the research, which involved more than 64,000 Danish mothers and their children. The kids were born between 1996 and 2002.” The study further stated, “”The strongest effects were seen when a woman said she had taken it for six weeks or more, and even more strongly at 20 weeks or more,” Ritz added. “We always thought acetaminophen is kind of harmless and not so bad to take during pregnancy, and probably it is, if you take it once or twice. But if you take it repeatedly, you see these risks creeping up.”

The common rebuttal theme I have found doing my research was that there was no clear path from taking Tylenol to these conditions.  They kept on stating that more trials and research were necessary in order to find that link and that until they do find that link we should continue taking the Tylenol as is.  To me that sounds like the company grasping as straws to keep from losing the $1 plus billion dollars they make annually on the product.

So what do you do?  For one, I would only use Tylenol or acetaminophen as a last resort.  If your child has a low grade fever, let their body do their job.  Fevers are a natural way your body fights off bacteria and viruses.  You can read my previous article about fevers here.  Additionally, do your own research.  Don’t just listen to what your doctors are saying to you.  Just because they say something doesn’t always mean they are right or that it is right for your child.  There are a lot of great homeopathic remedies for fever reducers. Here are some articles below that I found on the topic:

  1. WEBMD asthma risk
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19696122
  3. http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/4/706
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2013/sep/16/paracetamol-rising-childhood-asthma-rates
  5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/24/tylenol-overdose_n_3976991.html
  6. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/108/4/1020
  7. http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/news/20140224/use-of-acetaminophen-in-pregnancy-tied-to-higher-adhd-risk-in-child
  8. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm315497.htm
  9. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/acetaminophen/art-20046721
  10. http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/13/acetaminophen.may.double.asthma.risk/index.html

 

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Pregnancy and Depression

According to The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology , 14-23% of pregnant women suffer from depression.  Women suffering from depression usually have the following symptoms that persist for 2 weeks or more:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
  • Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Change in eating habits

There are many treatments that are commonly used to treat depression during pregnancy, such as psychotherapy, light therapy, support groups, and medication.  Treatment with medication typically involved SSRI’s or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Lately, research has been coming out against medicating for depression during pregnancy because it has been linked to a lot of problems in newborns, such as physical malformations, heart problems, low birth weight, pulmonary hypertension, and an increase in the likelyhood to give birth to a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  This evidence scares me, so I wanted to present moms with a more natural option of treatment to go along with their support groups, light therapy, and psychotherapy.

So what typically causes depression anyway?  One of the recurring themes I have been reading in my research is that chronic inflammation is the culprit. According to studies found in JAMA (1) (2), “Higher levels of inflammation dramatically increase the risk of developing depression.  And the higher the levels of inflammatory marks, the worse the depression.”  In more detail, inflammatory cytokines (inflammation) increase the breakdown of serotonin, which means our impression should not be that depressed people are unable to make enough serotonin.  The problem with depression is that a chronic inflammatory state is associated with a loss of normal serotonin levels.  This means that one of the major natural treatments for depression would be to reduce chronic inflammation.

One way to reduce inflammation is encourage patients to exercise more.  Studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as Zoloft.  Exercise naturally increases serotonin levels and decreases cortisol (inflammatory) levels.  Another way to help reduce inflammation is adequate sleep, around 8 hours a night, which is essential in allowing your body the time to heal and rejuvenate for the next day.  Your body and mind will then have a better chance at handling the next day’s stressors more effectively.  Next, you can  reduce inflammation by consuming a diet of anti-inflammatory foods such as lots of dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, collared greens, broccoli, cabbage) and adding anti-inflammatory spices to your meals (turmeric, curcumin, cayenne pepper, ginger, oregano, curry, basil, coriander, cumin).  The more vegetables you add to your diet the better.  Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are also anti-inflammatory.  You can add teas to your diet as well (ginger, herbal rest tea or sleepy time tea, white tea, etc) Basically you want to stay away from processed foods with sugar or grains.  According to research, people that consumed a Mediterranean-type diet, rich in healthy, anti-inflammatory fats and proteins, enjoy significantly lower rates of depression.  Next, make sure you are taking your prenatal multivitamin, probiotics, magnesium (150 mg), fish oil (2 grams), and vitamin D3 (400o IUs).  All of these supplements have been shown to reduce inflammation.   Lastly, chiropractic adjustments are another added benefit.  Not only do the adjustments cause you to be in less pain, but it will also elevate your mood because you will feel better and be able to do more things that you like to do.

Resources and/or further reading:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Magnesium Sulfate

Magnesium Sulfate otherwise known as Epsom Salt has a lot of great benefits to you and your children.  How can you get these benefits?  Try adding some to your children’s baths (and yours if you are lucky enough to take baths unlike me at the moment).  Some of those benefits include:

  • sound sleep
  • promotes a feeling of relaxation and well being
  • stress relief
  • body detox and purification
  • improved digestion process and improved absorption of nutrients
  • prevention and ease of migraine headaches
  • improved nerve function
  • pain and muscle cramp relief
  • improved formation of joint proteins
  • stronger bones
  • improved cardiovascular health
  • prevention of heart arrhythmia’s
  • improved oxygen use
  • balancing of electrolyte levels
  • improved ability of the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.

 

 

 

Fever Phobia

Dr. Chris and I recently encountered a very high fever with our daughter, Harper.  If you are anything like us, we had not heard of a fever ever getting that high, and after checking that the thermometer was working correctly on ourselves we started to freak!  We immediately called the pediatrician and scheduled an appointment to come in right away.  After the Dr. checked her out, said she was OK, ruled out strep, and deemed it just a viral infection. She told us to go home, keep giving her plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and to regulate her fever by either giving a sponge bath or using Tylenol.  Unfortunately, she continued to have a very high fever, going upwards close to 107 degrees at some points for several days. Finally, her fever broke abruptly late Saturday night, and then Sunday morning Harper broke out in a rash all over her trunk.  The doctor then diagnosed Harper with the common viral infection known as Roseola.  Thankfully, she is now happy and healthy, and back to her normal trouble making ways.

The reason why I am writing this is to inform you that HIGH fevers do happen. They are important to you and your child’s immune system.  Fevers are the body’s way of turning on your immune response.  They do this by stimulating the body to produce more lymphocytes, T Cells, white blood cells, antibodies, and other immune responders to fight off the infection! A fever is classified as anything over 99.5* via the Temporal Artery Scanner or oral thermometer, and anything over 100.4* rectally.  Anything above 102* or a fever lasting more than 3 days, it is recommended that you call your pediatrician.  Very high temperatures are often associated with seizures.  However, febrile seizures are actually very rare, they only affect 2-5% of children. They are caused by rapid increase in temperature, not by the height of the temperature. Once a child already has a high fever, a febrile seizure is unlikely with the current illness.  If febrile seizures do occur, they usually last 1-3 minutes.  Very rarely will they last longer than that, and typically these seizures when short do not cause brain damage.  According to the NIH, “there is no evidence that they cause death, brain damage, epilepsy, a decrease in IQ, or learning problems”.  Additionally, the NIH states that “Brain damage from a fever generally will not occur unless the fever is over 107.6°F (42°C).”

When are fevers dangerous?  Here is a list of warning signs our doctor told us to watch out for.  This is when you should immediately go to the ER.

  • Lethargy – the baby should be able to hold his/herself up and respond to you.
  • If you notice baby is pale or flushed, or urinating less.
  • difficulty breathing
  • unexplained rash – which indicates a more serious problem when coupled with a fever.
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea – risk of dehydration increases with these
  • Fevers of 104 and above that don’t come down to 101-102 with Tylenol, Sponge baths, etc.
  • Irritability – more than just the usual fuzziness, she explained it to us as consistent crying for hours, if you find that nothing you do soothes them
  • Meningitis symptoms – high fever with a stiff neck or neck pain, headaches, vomiting, or bright light hurting their eyes.
  • If your infant is 6 weeks or younger, and has a fever of 101 degrees or higher, this is considered a medical emergency. Your doctor should evaluate your infant right away, either during business hours or in an emergency room after hours. Do not give any fever-reducing medications in this situation (you don’t want to hide the fever until after a doctor has evaluated your baby). Be sure to confirm any child fevers with a rectal thermometer (if available) before contacting your doctor.
  • Infants age 7 weeks to three months with a fever over 101 warrant an appointment with your doctor within the next several hours. You generally don’t need to contact your doctor in the middle of the night in this situation if the office opens within the next few hours. Simply follow our recommendations on treating fever below and call your doctor in the morning. If it is the early evening you should probably page your doctor, since the office won’t be open until the following day. Be sure to confirm any fevers with a rectal thermometer (if available) before contacting your doctor.

My biggest recommendation is to always trust your gut.  When in doubt, call your pediatrician.  If you can’t get a hold of them go to the ER!

Here are some of the ways we used to bring her fever down:

  • Sponge baths or using wash clothes with lukewarm water (not cold) on the back of her neck, wrists, elbows, knees, and groin. Never use rubbing alcohol because it can cause the temperature to drop too quickly causing it to spike again, plus it can be reabsorbed directly into the babies blood stream.
  • Repeatedly giving lots of fluids to keep her hydrated.
  • Homemade Vick’s on her feet (link included)
  • Lavender Oil mixed with a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil on the back of the neck.
  • Dressed her in lose fitting clothing that wasn’t too heavy – one of our mistakes was to overdress Harper thinking she would have the chills, when in fact our Dr. said we would make the fever higher that way.  Even with blankets, she said only put one light blanket over the top of her.
  • Acetaminophen  or Ibuprophen, it is not recommended that you give your child Aspirin because it has been found to make your child more susceptible to a condition known as Reyes Syndrome.  Additionally, make sure to always use the measuring device given with the OTC medication being sure to give the proper dosage.

 

 

Dangers of Sports Drinks and What to Drink Instead

Have you or your child ever tried a sports drink or pedialyte?  Both have been advertised to be a great hydration for the body, full of electrolytes, and even better than water!  However, it turns out that they have been misleading us.  There are many harmful ingredients in these drinks that have been linked to a lot of potential problems down the line, such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and ADHD.  For example, take a look at the ingredient list found on the Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange:  water, SUGAR, dextrose, citric acid, natural flavor, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, gum arabic, sucrose acetate, isobutyrate, glycerol ester of rosini, and yellow 6.  Basically all I see there is sugar and chemicals!?!  AND, yellow number 6 has been linked to learning and concentration disorders in children, aggravating ADHD symptoms!

One of my biggest concerns is the sugar content.  In just one 32 ounce Gaterade/Powerade there is 200 calories and 52.5 grams of sugar! That amount of sugar alone cancels out the electrolyte benefit right off the bat.  It will cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then drop so quickly that you will feel even more tired than before you had the drink!

Furthermore, according to the journal of applied physiology, sports drinks do not quench your thirst, but actually in fact just make you drink more.  They state in their research that it is actually the flavoring and salt intake that make you drink more, and in turn stay more hydrated than before.

Additionally, the acid found in the sports drink will actually erode your teeth more than drinking a can of soda!  A study done in the journal of general dentistry said “after 5 days of consistent consumption, the acid starts to irreversibly destroy tooth enamel”.

After reading all of this, you must be thinking ok, I do not want to drink that anymore, but what can I do to keep myself and my child hydrated while exercising or playing in sports or even if your child gets the stomach bug and needs to stay hydrated.  There are many different things you can make or use as your own natural sports drink without all the dangerous add-in’s you find in sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade or even Pedialyte. Coconut water is the liquid that is found inside the coconut. It has actually been nicknamed “Nature’s Gatorade.” It contains 5 important electrolytes:

  1. Potassium: The most important positive ion (cation) inside your cells; potassium regulates heartbeat and muscle function. Coconut water contains 295 mg, which is 15 times the amount in the average sports drink
  2. Sodium: The most important positive ion in fluid outside your cells, and also the one most depleted with exercise, as you lose sodium through sweat and urine
  3. Magnesium: Important for maintaining the electrical potential of your cells, proper muscle function, and preventing calcium overload
  4. Phosphorus: Plays important roles in bone health, but also in transferring energy throughout your body, helping your muscles contract, and regulating nerve function (partners with calcium)
  5. Calcium: Important for bone health (partners with phosphorous)

Now you can drink the coconut water alone or you can add it on to your own homemade sports drink.  A simple homemade recipe you can use is the following: 3-4 slices of fresh ginger, 1 cup of water plus any extra you want to add in, juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1/4 tsp of sea salt, 1-2 tsp of raw honey (not for the use of children under 2).  All you have to do is mix well, and it is ready for your consumption!  You can even freeze the concentrate for later use, and all you will have to do is add water when your ready to drink it!

Homemade Vicks

One of the reasons I started to make my own Vicks Vapor Rub was because I had a child, and I started to look at every single label of the things I purchased to use on her.  One of the things that always made me nervous about Vicks was a couple of  ingredients in the gel, one of them being petrolatum.    There have been several studies linking Vicks Vapor Rub to severe respiratory problems. Research published in the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), found that it can  interfere with the ability of infants and toddlers to breathe.  “The ingredients in Vicks can be irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to protect the airway,” Dr. Rubin, the study’s lead author, said in a statement to the media. “Infants and young children have airways that are much narrower than those of adults, so any increase in mucus or inflammation can narrow them more severely.”

Furthermore, Petrolatum is one of those nasty ingredients that have been linked to breast cancer in women and men.  “Among the studies linking the petrolatum impurity PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons] to breast cancer is a Columbia University study in which researchers found that the breast tissue of women with breast cancer was 2.6 times more likely to contain elevated levels of PAHs bound to DNA (called DNA adducts) than the breast tissue of women without breast cancer (Rundle et al. 2000). Serious questions need to be answered over the safety of petrolatum or petroleum jelly as it is more commonly known.”

After reading/researching the information I have shared with you above, I started using essential oils, and I haven’t looked back since.  The brand we use and sell at the office is called Young Living.  You can sign up for an account to buy their products through the link above or HERE.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (any food store, even Homegood’s will have it at a reduced price)
  • 2 tbsp bees wax, which can be bought on amazon
  • 10 drops lemon oil for children under 10, eucalyptus oil for anyone over 10
  • 4 drops thieves oil

Directions

In the pot on the stove on low heat, I melt the coconut oil and bees wax.  I usually make one large batch and put it in a large glass container with a lid to use as needed throughout the winter season. Once you have gotten the coconut oil/bees wax mixture to melt, I remove the pot from the heat and put in the lemon oil or eucalyptus oil (depending on age) the thieves oil.  I let that sit until the coconut oil/bees wax hardens again, and then I put it in the glass container for later use!  Rub on the chest and back as needed.

 

Elderberry Syrup

Fall is a common time for colds and/or the Flu to start showing up.  If you or any of your family members have ever gotten the Flu, you know how helpless you feel to watch them suffer because there is no antibiotic to give to treat a viral infection.  Elderberry syrup is one way to treat the flu naturally by speeding up the healing, and getting you or your family member better at a faster rate.

Elderberries are a type of plant that is known is have therapeutic benefits.   The berries contain high doses of vitamin A, B, and C all of which stimulate the immune response.  Black Elderberries (sambucus nigra) have been shown to prevent flu and speed recovery in those who have the flu.

Elderberry syrup can be purchased online.  We found ours on amazon, it is by the brand Nature’s Way.  You can also make your own after purchasing the elderberries , which also can be found online or at your local health food store, like Nature’s Nutrition in Brick.  Here is the recipe below:

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup black elderberries
  • 3½ cups of water
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ½ teaspoon cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw honey (we get from our farmer’s market)
  1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
  3. Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.
  4. When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a pint sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
  5. Hooray! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge.
  6. Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.

It is recommended to take daily during the flu season, but if you have a healthy diet and get your rest like us, we only take it when we start to feel like we are coming down with something or if one of us in the house gets sick.

Natural Ways to Combat Ear Infections

Now that a lot of my friends and I are mothers, I hear a lot about kids coming down with ear infections.  When children are young, their bodies are still developing.  A lot of the time when a child gets an ear infection it is because the fluid in their ears are not draining properly.  One way to help the ears drain properly is to get your child checked by a chiropractor to see if they have an upper cervical (neck) restriction.  When there is an upper cervical (neck) restriction, the fluid in the ears can not drain properly, so the fluid pools.  Now every day we are constantly fighting off bacterial and viruses that we didn’t even know about because our bodies are amazing at naturally fighting off infection.  If that fluid in the ear can not drain, it is basically a pool of fluid filled with bacteria.  (think of what your kid picks up on a daily basis, and how often his or her hands are touching around their face and ears).  Another way is to make sure you keep their immune system working at its prime.  Make sure your child is getting plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.  Limit their sugar and processed food intake.  Make sure your child is taking a multivitamin and probiotic supplement (70% of your immune system is in your gut….we will get to that on another post).  Lastly, make sure they are drinking plenty of water (that doesn’t include juice) and getting at least 8 hours of sleep at night!

If you child does develop an ear infection there are many natural ways to treat them.  One way is by using garlic and mullein drops, which have natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.  The brand we use is Wise Women Herbals.  Of course, we always recommend to have your child checked by a chiropractor to make sure her spine and body are working at its best to fight off infection.  Additionally, you can use WARM (not hot) compresses against the child’s ear for 10 minutes.  You can also raise their mattress so that it promotes better drainage. Lastly, if you are breastfeeding, breast milk is the ultimate cure all, and although it sounds strange put a few drops in the ear to help naturally combat the infection!

A promising study published in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics indicates that there is a strong correlation between chiropractic adjustments and the resolution of ear infections. 332 children with chronic ear infections participated in the study. Each child, ranging in age from 27 days to 5 years, was given a series of chiropractic adjustments. The results show that close to 80% of the children did not experience another ear infection within the six-month period following their initial visits. The six-month period included maintenance treatments every four to six weeks. Joan M. Fallon, D.C., the author of the study and the chiropractor who treated the children in the study, states that this pilot study can serve as a starting point from which the chiropractic profession can begin to examine its role in the treatment of children with chronic ear infections. She asserts that large-scale clinical trials need to be undertaken in the field.