occupational therapist & child development specialist

Month: November 2011 (Page 1 of 2)

Child Vaccinations and Autism?

As parents, how many of you worry about vaccinating your baby due to fears related to autism? Over the past 10 years, there has been a sharp decline in infant immunizations, and unfortunately, there has also been an evident increase in disease outbreaks, all due to concerns about a relationship between child vaccinations and autism. The small study that sparked all of the fear and concern has now been debunked. The study suggested that there was a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. However, in January 2011, the British Medical Journal revealed that the study was flawed and described how the head researcher actually fabricated evidence to confirm the results of his study. He subsequently lost his medical license. In fact, research that has taken place since the original study has not been able to confirm a connection between the MMR and autism.

Yet, many parents continue to be skeptical, especially those who already have one child diagnosed with autism, and there are alternatives to not vaccinating at all. Pediatrician, Robert Sears, MD, outlines two alternatives to the traditional vaccine schedule in his book The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. The “Selective Vaccine Schedule” omits particular vaccines, while the “Alternative Vaccine Schedule” stretches out the traditional one. Still, a recent article in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, disputes many of Dr. Sears’ opinions and the AAP continues to recommend the traditional vaccine schedule.

What to do? That’s an extremely difficult question. First and foremost, do your research. Then, consult with your pediatrician. Obviously, as a parent, it is important to take an active role in making vaccination decisions, and by working closely with your pediatrician, together you can decide what is in the best interest of your child.

SIDS Awareness

     In one year, all across this country, approximately 2,500 infants die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS. SIDS awareness is critical. If you are not familiar with that term, SIDS is the unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant during sleep. Prior to 1992, most babies in the United States slept on their stomachs. In 1992, after researchers discovered that infants were approximately 12 times more likely to be found on their stomachs than on their backs when they had died of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that all infants be placed to sleep on their backs or sides. Later, the side position was eliminated from the recommendation because infants could roll from their sides to their stomachs in their sleep. Since that original sleep position recommendation was made by the AAP in 1992, 50% fewer infants have died from SIDS. Putting babies to sleep on their backs turned out to be a simple and effective way to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome!

SIDS Awareness

Here are the recommendations for the American Academy of Pediatrics that should be followed in order to reduce the risk of SIDS. Please share these facts to increase SIDS awareness:

1) Back to sleep: Infants should be placed on their backs for sleep. Side sleeping is not as safe as supine sleeping and is not advised.

2) Use a firm sleep surface: Avoid soft fabrics, pillows, quilts, comforters, or sheepskins. Use a firm crib mattress, covered by a sheet.

3) No soft objects or loose bedding: If bumper pads are used, they should be thin, firm, & well secured. To avoid blankets, use sleep clothing with no other covering over the infant to reduce the risk of something covering baby’s head.

4) Do not smoke during pregnancy or around baby: This increases baby’s risk of SIDS.

5) Avoid co-sleeping: The risk of SIDS is reduced when baby sleeps in the same room as the mother in a separate crib. Evidence is growing that bed sharing is more hazardous than when the infant sleeps on a separate sleep surface; therefore, the AAP recommends that infants not bed share during sleep. Also, do not sleep with an infant on a couch or armchair.

6) Consider offering a pacifier when putting baby to sleep: There is a reduced risk of SIDS associated with pacifier use during sleep.

7) Avoid overheating: Baby should be lightly clothed for sleep, and the bedroom temperature should remain comfortable.

8 ) Avoid commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS: Don’t use sleep positioners!

9) Do not use home monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS: There is no evidence that home monitors decrease the incidence of SIDS.

10) Don’t forget to provide tummy time during baby’s waking hours!

Fostering Emotional Development in Children

nenetus- freedigitalphotos.net

Do you want to foster your child’s emotional development? Emotional Development in children is very important, so I would highly recommend having conversations about emotions with your little one as frequently as possible. When you are talking with your child, it is important to name emotions whenever possible, whether you are talking about someone else’s feelings or your child’s feelings. This will help your child understand specific emotions, especially negative feelings like anger, fear, or sadness that your child may find disturbing or confusing.

For example, if you are reading a story to your child, define particular emotions, such as, “furious is when you are really, really mad.” It is also important to link events in your child’s life with the emotion that you are reading about. For example, “remember, that’s how you felt when your sister broke your toy truck.” This allows a youngster to have greater emotional understanding. Obviously, as parents, we can play an important role in our children’s emotional development, and having open conversations about emotions is a great way to start!

Healthy and loving relationships help a young child to feel a sense of comfort, security, and confidence. When a child feels secure, they are more likely to form friendships, share emotions, and to deal with difficult situations. Healthy relationships also help children to be more trusting and empathetic.

Here are a few more tips for promoting emotional development in children:

  • Be affectionate- freely give your child hugs, kisses, and plenty of loving “pats on the back”
  • Be there for your little one– always be available for reassurance, providing a “home-base” for your child to always return to if scared or in need of support.
  • Use play- offer puppets or dolls to act out a story about your child’s frustrations or fears, for example, having to share a favorite toy with a peer, or separating from you at preschool. Have your child draw a sad picture when he is feeling down, or make a happy face using finger paints when she is cheerful.
  • Encourage friendships- children need to be around peers in order to practice sharing, taking turns, and resolving disputes. Playing with peers can help your little one develop all of these important skills.
  • Encourage empathy- help your child understand how other people are feeling by describing how others might be feeling in certain situations: For example, “Susie is feeling sad because she misses her mom. Let’s see if we can cheer her up.
  • Praise for effort– When your child is working hard on a task, praise him for working hard, not for results. Say, “I like how hard you are trying. You are really working hard!”
  • Be a good example- show your child through your actions that there are many healthy, non-hurtful ways of expressing feelings.
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