What you can do to prevent child abuse

Child abuse can happen in any family and in any neighborhood. Studies have shown that child abuse crosses all boundaries of income, race, ethnic heritage and religious faith. The incidence is higher, however, in families in which the parents are in their mid-20s; high school dropouts or lack a high school diploma; below the poverty level or financially stressed; stressed because of a loss of job or home; or have a history of intergenerational abuse, alcohol, or substance abuse problems, a history of depression, or spouse abuse.

Stopping abuse

Prevent Child Abuse America offers these tips for stopping child abuse:

  • Try to understand your children. Learn how kids behave and what they can do at different ages. Have realistic expectations and be reasonable if children fall short.
  • Keep your children healthy. Denying children food, sleep, or health care is abuse by neglect.
  • Get help with alcohol or drug problems. Keep children away from anyone who abuses those substances.
  • Watch your words. Angry or punishing language can leave emotional scars for a lifetime.
  • Get control of yourself before disciplining a child. Set clear rules so the child knows what to expect. Avoid physical punishment.
  • Take a time-out. Stop if you begin to act out frustration or other emotions physically. Find someone to talk with or watch your kids while you take a walk. Call a child abuse prevention hotline if you are worried you may hit your child.
  • Make your home a violence-free zone. Turn off violent TV shows and don’t let kids stay under the same roof with an abusive adult.
  • Take regular breaks from your children. This will give you a release from the stress of parenting full-time.

If you want to go the extra mile for supporting the safety of children, visit the Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky site and join us for the Commit to Prevent 5K Run/Walk on April 10. UK HealthCare is a proud sponsor of this event and we hope to see you there! Also, don’t forget to wear blue April 8 to promote child abuse awareness and stop by the Pavilion A Atrium Lobby at UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital at 1 p.m. for a group photo.


Next Steps:

Tips to poison-proof your home

Tips to poison-proof your home

From misplaced medications to household cleaning items, every house has its fair share of potential dangers for children. In fact, nearly 1.2 million cases of accidental poisoning in children ages 5 and younger are reported each year, with 90 percent of those occurring in the home.

This week is National Poison Prevention Week and a great time to review Safe Kids Fayette County’s tips for keeping your house safe for children. Check out our guidelines below and print this post to hang on your fridge or near your phone.

Store potentially poisonous household products and medications out of children’s sight and reach.

  • Read labels to find out what is poisonous. Potential hazards include makeup, medicine, plants, cleaning products, pesticides, art supplies, and beer, wine and liquor.
  • Never leave potentially poisonous household products unattended while in use.
  • Be aware of poisons that may be in your handbag. Store handbags out of the reach of young children.
  • Never mix cleaning products.
  • Buy child-resistant packages when available. Keep products in their original packages to avoid confusion.

Be safe when taking or administering medication.

  • Always read labels, follow directions and give medicines to children based on their weights and ages. Only use the dispensers packaged with children’s medicines.
  • Do not refer to your medication as candy. Children should not think of prescription or over the counter (OTC) medication as treats.
  • Many parents keep their medications on the kitchen counter, on the nightstand, on the dinner table or in personal bags, such as purses, as a personal reminder to take our pills, but these are all easily accessible areas for children. Instead, write a note to remind yourself so you can keep all medication in a cabinet or area that is up and away from your children’s view and grasp.

Keep the toll-free nationwide poison control center number, 800-222-1222, and local emergency numbers near or programmed into every phone in your house.

  • If you suspect poisoning and a child is choking, collapses, can’t breathe or is having a seizure, call 911. Otherwise, call the poison control hotline and have the ingested product on hand to discuss with the operator.
  • Follow the operator’s instructions.
  • Don’t make the child vomit or give him or her anything unless directed.

 Next steps:

Distractions play a crucial role in car crashes, study says

Chances are you’ve let your mind wander while driving, but that’s more dangerous than you may know. Those little distractions, even if they seem harmless, often result in car accidents, according to a new study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The extensive study, published Feb. 22, assessed footage shot inside more than 3,000 vehicles over three years.  During that time, researchers observed more than 900 crashes, almost three-quarters of them caused by distractions such as texting, changing the radio or looking at a cell phone. The researchers found that drivers were “clearly distracted” in almost 70 percent of observed accidents, and not surprisingly, the findings link cell phone use to many crashes.

You can read more about the study at the NIH, but the takeaway is simple: Distracted driving leads to accidents, no matter what you’re doing or how long you’re distracted.

Understanding your bad driving habits is the first step toward being a safer driver. There are three kinds of distractions while driving: manual, visual and cognitive. Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel, visual distractions take your eyes off the road, and cognitive distractions take your mind off of driving.

Check out these six tips for avoiding distractions.

  • Turn it off. Before you get in the car, turn your cell phone off or switch to silent mode. You can wait, and so can others.
  • Be prepared. Review maps and directions before you get on the road. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to help or pull over to a safe location to review the maps/directions again.
  • Secure pets. Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you drive.
  • Keep kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
  • Stay focused on the task at hand. Refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, reading and any other activity that may take your eyes off the road.
  • Don’t text and drive. It’s the law.

Next steps:

  • Read the Safe Kids Fayette County guide to preventing accidents while driving and get the hard facts about texting behind the wheel.
  • Check out the NIH story for more details on how distracted driving is causing accidents.

Dancing for the kids

When DanceBlue started at the University of Kentucky more than 11 years ago, the group’s goal was simple: bring UK students and staff together to help support children and families fighting childhood cancer.

To say the group has been successful would be an understatement. Since it started, DanceBlue has raised more than $8.2 million for our pediatric oncology clinic at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. And this weekend, they’ll add to that total.

The DanceBlue Marathon, which starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Coliseum, is a 24-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon that culminates in the group announcing how much money it’s raised in the last year. At the 2015 marathon, DanceBlue celebrated raising more than $1.5 million.

That money benefits children and families being treated at the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic – named in honor of the group.

The marathon is open to the public from start to finish but only dancers are allowed on the floor of Memorial Coliseum. Family and friends of dancers are welcome and encouraged to come support their loved ones.

If you’re interested in supporting DanceBlue, join us this weekend! Our dancers, children and families would love your support.

For more information about DanceBlue, registration information or to support its efforts, visit www.danceblue.org.

The DanceBlue Marathon benefits the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic

 


Next steps:

  • Read about R.J. Hijalda, a UK freshman dancing in this year’s marathon, who was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin lymphoma as a freshman in high school.
  • Learn more about the DanceBlue Clinic at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
  • Connect with DanceBlue on Facebook and Twitter. Use #FTK (For the Kids) to show your support.

Safe sleep tips for newborns and infants

Did you know that unintentional suffocation is the leading cause of injury-related death among children younger than 1? Safe Kids and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend the following tips to help create a safe sleeping environment for newborns and infants:

  • Always place infants on their backs to sleep, even for naps.
  • Keep your baby’s sleeping area free of anything that may obstruct their airway and increase the risk of suffocation, such as loose bedding, blankets, quilts, stuffed animals and pillows. This includes other children and adults.
  • Babies should sleep alone in their own safety-approved crib or bassinet. For information on crib safety standards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
  • Sharing your room is a safer option than having your baby sleep in bed with you.
  • Do not allow your baby to sleep in sitting devices such as couches, chairs or even car seats.
  • Keep your baby’s sleeping areas smoke free and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Try not to be tempted to dress your baby in too many layers. Consider using a sleep sack to keep him snuggled comfortably without the risks associated with loose blankets.

Next steps:

  • Visit Safe Kids Fayette County for more information about preventing childhood injuries and keeping the kids in your life safe.
  • Follow Safe Kids Fayette County on Twitter.
The Markey Cancer Center joined a national movement encouraging people to get HPV vaccines.

Get the facts about the HPV vaccine

On Wednesday, the UK Markey Cancer Center, along with 68 of the nation’s top cancer centers, issued a statement urging young people in the U.S. to get a vaccination against the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

HPV, which is sexually transmitted, is responsible for about 27,000 new cancer cases in the U.S. each year, causing nearly all cervical and anal cancers and also the majority of throat and vaginal cancers, too.

Luckily, the HPV vaccine offers substantial protection against this threat. Unfortunately, not enough people are taking advantage of this rare opportunity to prevent many types of cancer.

In Kentucky, only about 37 percent of girls and 13 percent of boys complete the vaccination schedule, leaving a significant portion of the population at risk. That’s why Markey and others are calling upon the physicians, parents and young adults to learn more about the benefit of receiving the HPV vaccine.

“Although we have made progress in the past several years, Kentucky continues to rank first in the nation for both cancer incidence and mortality,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. “We are still in the top 10 nationally for cervical cancer deaths, and increasing the HPV vaccination rates will significantly lower this grim statistic.”

The HPV vaccine offers substantial protection against various cancers but experts say not enough people are taking advantage of it.

Understanding the benefits of the HPV vaccine might convince you that it’s right for you or someone you know.

The HPV vaccine protects against more than cervical cancer.

The vaccine actually protects against several types of cancer. It does so by targeting certain strains of HPV. These infections are spread through sexual contact. They can cause genital warts. But most cause no symptoms and go away without treatment.

Some HPV infections may linger for years in your body. These viruses may damage cells, eventually causing cancer. The HPV vaccine prevents those strains responsible for the majority of cervical cancers. It may also prevent HPV infections that lead to cancers of the throat, anus, penis and vagina.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys, girls, young men and young women.

In 2006, health experts recommended the HPV vaccine for females ages 9 to 26. But its potential to prevent other cancers besides that of the cervix made it appropriate for boys and young men, too. Doctors now encourage males ages 9 to 26 to also receive the vaccine.

Two types of HPV vaccine are available. They are Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardasil is approved for use in both sexes. Cervarix is only for girls and young women. Ideally, three doses of either vaccine are given over a 6-month period at ages 11 or 12 before any sexual activity.

The HPV vaccine is effective.

The HPV vaccine may not protect against all HPV infections that may promote cancer. But it can substantially lower the risk. In a recent study, researchers compared the HPV history of more than 4,000 women ages 14 to 59 over two 4-year periods. Those timeframes included 2003 to 2006—before the HPV vaccine became available—and 2007 to 2010—after it was in use. They found that the vaccine cut in half the number of HPV infections in girls ages 14 to 19.

The HPV vaccine is safe.

Past research including nearly 60,000 participants has confirmed the vaccine’s safety. But like all vaccines, side effects are possible. Most are minor. They may include pain and redness at the injection site, fever, dizziness or nausea. Some people have fainted after receiving the shot. In rare cases, blood clots and Guillain-Barré syndrome — a disorder that weakens muscles — have been reported.

Women who receive the HPV vaccine should still schedule regular Pap tests.

Pap tests detect abnormal cells in the cervix. They alert your doctor to potential cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine may prevent future HPV infections, but it doesn’t treat pre-existing ones. It also doesn’t prevent all types of cervical cancer. For these reasons, women should still schedule regular Pap tests.


Next steps:

  • If you or someone you love is interested in receiving the HPV vaccine, schedule an appointment with the Markey Cancer Center online or at 859-323-5553.
  • Read a blog by Dr. Hatim Omar, chief of the Adolescent Medicine at UK HealthCare, about the importance of including the HPV vaccine in all young adults’ health care plans.
  • Learn more about the Gynecologic Oncology Team at the Markey Cancer Center
UK HealthCare's tips for snow day safety

Tips for a fun, safe snow day

Snow days are a fun time for kids, but winter weather can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Here are some tips to make sure your child has an enjoyable day in the snow.

General safety

  • Use the buddy system. Kids should play in the snow with one or more friends, and an adult should supervise children under the age of 8.
  • Make sure kids take frequent breaks inside and that they’re staying well hydrated. Even in cold weather, it’s important to drink water after exercise and play.
  • Check kids periodically to make sure clothing and shoes are warm and dry. Wet clothing should be removed immediately.

Bundle up

  • Before kids head outside, dress them in layers. If they get too warm, they can remove one layer at a time.
  • Use mittens instead of gloves.
  • Make sure children always wear a hat and have their ears covered to prevent frostbite.
  • When kids return inside, make sure to remove all wet clothing immediately.

Sledding safely

  • Kids should wear a fitted helmet while sledding. Ski and hockey helmets provide more protection than bike helmets.
  • Ensure handles on the sled are secure before use.
  • Children should never sled on or near roads.
  • Always sit up or kneel on a sled. This helps prevent head and neck injuries.

Snow forts

  • Children should not play in snow forts or tunnels. They can collapse and cause suffocation.
  • Ensure kids stay away from snow banks near roadways. Snowplow drivers may not see children.
Snow day safety tips from UK HealthCare

Source: Safe Kids Fayette County

How to talk to your kids about terrorism

Helping kids cope with violence, terrorism

Whether it is the local evening news or a 24-hour cable news channel, images of violence and terrorism inundate our homes. These scenes can be disturbing and stressful, especially for children. It is important to manage distress and take appropriate steps in helping your children and adolescents following terrorist attacks.

Take advantage of the teachable moment by starting a dialogue about the event. 

Questions such as:  “What do you think about what you just watched on TV?” “Do you have questions about terrorism?” or “What are kids at school saying about terrorist attacks?” create the space for conversation about what the event means to the child. Avoidance of the topic may increase anxiety and send the message that the event is too horrible to talk about. As the conversation unfolds, listen carefully for what the child knows, what they believe to be true and where they are getting their information.

Correct any misconceptions or inaccurate information.

Age and stage of development can greatly impact the way situations are perceived. Children may unduly personalize the situation, or have an exaggerated sense of danger.

Tailor the amount of media exposure to the needs of the child.

A good rule of thumb is no child under age six needs to be exposed to media accounts of terrorist events. The replaying of graphic images and scenes of distress are confusing to young children who do not have the ability to keep events in temporal sequence and who may feel the event is ongoing. Even if young children do not appear to be listening, they may pick up on the sense of chaos and danger created by adult conversations and repeated media accounts. Parents should limit the amount of exposure in young children and for those who are distressed by the event.

Model good coping. 

Children take their cues on how to respond to events based on the lessons learned from their caregivers. If parents are worried, talking a lot about the event, highly anxious or over-reactive, children will mimic this behavior. It is normal and expected to have a response to tragedy, but an expression of worry or anxiety should be accompanied by solution focused language. This might include describing ways adults in the child’s life take action to keep them safe, pointing out the quick response of law enforcement, and examples of the benevolence of strangers. This sends the message to the child that while bad things happen, there are good people in this world and adults that are there to keep them safe.

Know when to refer.

If children have symptoms of anxiety, worry, sleep disturbance, sadness or preoccupation with the event that lasts beyond two weeks, a referral for a trauma assessment at a community mental health center, a faith-based organization or the UK Center on Trauma and Children is recommended.

Ginny Sprang

 

Ginny Sprang, Ph.D., is the executive director of the UK Center on Trauma and Children

Tips for a safe holiday trip

November marks the beginning of heavy travel as families and friends gather for the holidays. Whether you and your family are going by plane, train, boat or automobile, remember to keep safety in mind for each member of your family.

The facts

  • Holiday travel is a time when there is a risk of injuries in a variety of areas.
  • Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children.
  • Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.

Top 10 holiday tips

  1. Check your car seat before holiday travel. Be familiar with the child safety restraint laws in the state you will be traveling to (or through).
  1. Bulky coats and car seats don’t mix. If it’s cold outside, cover babies and young children with a thick blanket to keep them warm, after they’re strapped securely into their seat. Bulky winter clothes and coats can keep a car seat harness from doing its job.
  1. Use booster seats and the backseat. Kids who have outgrown a forward-facing harness seat are not ready for a seat belt or front seat yet. They are safest in a booster seat that enables the adult seat belt to fit properly. Even when children have transitioned from booster seats, they should remain in the back seat until they reach the age of 13.
  1. Have an exit strategy for fussy kids. When you hear the all too familiar howl that means “I want food” or “change my diaper,” don’t worry about making good time. Instead, get off at the next exit and find a safe area to feed or change your child.
  1. Remember the car seat for air travel. If traveling by air, use a car seat that is labeled “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” For babies and toddlers, this is the safest way to travel.
  1. Keep medicines and small objects out of sight. Before arriving at your destination, talk to friends and relatives about being extra careful to keep small objects away from young kids. This includes medications, which can look like candy, button batteries, and other objects that are small enough for children to swallow.
  1. Engage older kids in cooking. It can be fun to get kids involved holiday meal prep. It’s also a great chance to teach them kitchen safety tips.
  1. Double check fireplace screens. Check to see if the home you’re visiting has any fireplaces and make sure they’re protected by a sturdy screen. Keep little ones away from this area.
  1. Plan for safe sleep and more. Make sure your baby has a safe place to sleep such as a portable pack-n-play. It’s a great time to check that where you’re staying has a working carbon monoxide alarm and smoke alarm.
  1. Wear proper gear for winter sports. Send kids outside in the cold with proper gear such as helmets when they’re skiing, snowboarding or playing ice hockey.

Adolescent health care plan should include HPV vaccine

For women younger than 40, cervical cancer is among the leading causes of cancer-related death. With modern vaccines to protect against the underlying cause, human papilloma virus (HPV), cervical cancer is also one of the most preventable types of cancers.

As a society, we have the opportunity to wipe out or significantly reduce a disease by vaccinating the population. Still, many American health care providers and families aren’t getting their children and teens vaccinated, and our youth are suffering the consequences.

Cervical cancer, as well as cancers of the throat, penis, rectum, vulva and mouth, can develop from changes in cells caused by HPV. Since the FDA approved the first versions of the HPV vaccine in 2006, nearly 7 billion doses have been administered worldwide. HPV continues to spread because of a national resistance to accepting the vaccine as part of standard preventive care.

Because of social stigmas surrounding HPV vaccinations, only around 30 percent of men and women under the age of 25 have been vaccinated in both Kentucky and nationwide. Only 27 percent of women between the ages 13 to 17 have received the recommended dosages of the HPV vaccine. Many health care providers and parents view these vaccinations as elective or irrelevant unless a youth is sexually active. In reality, HPV can be transmitted a number of ways, including from a mother to a child during delivery. Statistics show most people will contract one form of the virus at some point in their lives.

Until 2014, the two vaccination options were Gardasil 4 and Cervarix, both of which protect against HPV strains 16 and 18 or the strains responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancers and Gardasil 4 also protects against 90 percent of genital warts (Strains 6 & 11). Last year, Gardasil 9 entered the market targeting strains 16 and 18, as well as five additional strains, covering HPV types responsible for almost 90 percent of cervical cancers. The vaccine also protects against HPV strains 6 and 11, which cause genital warts.

Parents and adolescent providers must seize the opportunity to vaccinate their youth before infection occurs. Countries that provided massive free vaccination such as Australia have experienced a 70 percent drop in cervical cancer rates, as well as other cancers associated with HPV.

Next time you visit your pediatrician or adolescent health provider, insist on including an HPV vaccine in your child’s preventive health care plan. Both boys and girls should be vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective, and prevents 70 to 90 percent of the disease. As a parent, doing everything in your capacity to protect your child from harm means making the decision to get the HPV vaccine — the only certain way to prevent these forms of cancer.

Dr. Hatim Omar

Dr. Hatim Omar

Dr. Hatim Omar is the chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.