Are kindergarten kids getting their vaccines?

Published: Friday, August 24, 2012 @ 3:00 PM

Most kindergartners are up to date with their vaccines, but federal immunization goals nevertheless remain unmet, the CDC says.

According to a CDC report, the average number of kids who have been vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella is 94.8%. Health officials have set their target at greater than 95%.

"Coverage is not the way it should be," says Jaime Deville, MD. Deville is a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital. He reviewed the report for WebMD.

"This report really confirms what's already well known," he says.

The report's authors point out that vaccine rates vary significantly from state to state. The five states that are doing the best job of vaccinating kids against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) are:

  1. Texas 99.3%
  2. Mississippi 99.2%
  3. Nebraska 99%
  4. Maryland 98.7%
  5. Louisiana 98.1%

The five states that need the most improvement when it comes to MMR vaccines are:

  1. Colorado 86.8%
  2. Pennsylvania 86.9%
  3. Kansas 88.2%
  4. Idaho 89.2%
  5. North Dakota 90.6% 

Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Other Vaccines

The report also tallies vaccine numbers for tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (whooping cough), polio, hepatitis B, and varicella (chickenpox).

Forty seven states, the District of Columbia, and five other areas reported their vaccine numbers. The city of Houston submitted its own figures, which were the highest reported, at 99.5% for MMR. Figures for Wyoming, New Hampshire, and New Jersey were not available.

California, the state where Deville teaches and practices, met the 95% goal for only two of the vaccines: chickenpox and hepatitis B.

"Our coverage is really not ideal," says Deville. He says the number of children in his state who were granted exemptions from vaccines for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons is too high for comfort.

"We see there are 12,000 out of the half million kindergarten age kids here," says Deville. "That's a sizable percentage that right off the bat won't be vaccinated."

Exemptions From Immunization

Overall, according to the report, 1.5% of children were granted exemptions from vaccinations. That figure varied dramatically from state to state. Mississippi, which does not allow religious or philosophical exemptions, had an exemption rate below 0.1%, the lowest number in the country. Alaska granted exemptions to 7% of its children. Arkansas reported the largest increase in exemptions from the previous year; Nebraska reported the steepest decline.

For the most part, the percentages reported reflect statewide averages. However, the report's authors point out the need to focus on local rates of immunization that might get overlooked when focusing on the big picture.

"Since exemptions cluster geographically, there might be smaller areas and schools where low levels of immunization could sustain ongoing measles transmission after importation from other countries," the report states.

Measles Still Threatens Children's Health

While the current level of vaccine coverage is likely to prevent any major outbreaks of measles, Deville says, measles -- and other diseases for which vaccines are available -- should be on parents' radar.

"We've been seeing only about 50 cases a year for the past several years, but that number has begun to creep up," he says.

In 2011, 222 cases of measles were reported to the CDC, the highest number in 15 years. Most of those cases, the report says, were brought here from outside the U.S.

"Measles," Deville says, "is one of the most contagious diseases, with significant complications and mortality. We don't want to deal with it again."

Deville points to recent whooping cough outbreaks as examples of why parents need to make sure their kids are properly vaccinated. It's easy to think there is little to worry about when such diseases are rarely seen these days, he says. That's a mistake.

"Just because we don't see them doesn't mean they no longer exist," Deville says. "These diseases are not gone."

SOURCES: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Aug. 24, 2012.Jaime Deville, MD, professor of pediatric infectious diseases, Mattel Children's Hospital, UCLA.

© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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WATCH: Young girl left temporarily paralyzed illustrates dangers of tick bites

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 4:49 PM

A 3-year-old girl in Oregon awoke on May 13 to find herself unable to stand or use her arms.

>> Read more trending news 

Evelyn Lewis’ mother, Amanda Lewis, filmed her daughter’s failed attempts to stand with help from her husband. 

WGHP reported that the parents took Evelyn to the emergency room, where a doctor discovered a small but dangerous reason for her condition.

After combing through Evelyn’s hair, the doctor discovered a tick, diagnosing her with a condition called “tick paralysis.”

“The doctor talked to us for a minute and said over the past 15 years he had seen about seven or eight children her age with identical symptoms and more than likely she had a tick,” Amanda Lewis wrote on Facebook. “It can affect dogs also and can be fatal. I’m glad we took her in when we did and that it wasn’t something worse and that we found it before it got worse.”

According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, tick paralysis attacks a person’s muscles and results in symptoms like muscle pains and numbness of the legs. These begin after a tick has attached itself to a host, generally on the scalp.

>> Related: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals

Fortunately, Evelyn is now doing much better, as her mother wrote on Facebook that she “is now pretty much completely back to her feisty little self. She complains a lot about her head itching but otherwise, she’s just fine.”

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Here’s how much fruit juice children should drink, according to new guidelines

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 12:19 PM



KidStock/Getty Images/Blend Images

Next time you're grocery shopping for your kids, think twice before adding a carton of fruit juice to your basket. The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its guidelines on all juices, advising parents to pull back on how much they serve their little ones.

» Related: What Atlanta dietitians feed their kids 

Previous recommendations said parents should wait to give their babies juice until after six months, but its latest update is suggesting that they wait one year. 

In fact, infants should only be fed breast milk or infant formula for the first six months. After six months, moms and dads can then introduce fruit to their diet, but not fruit juice. 

>> Read more trending news

“Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories,” said Melvin B. Heyman, MD, FAAP, co-author of the statement. “Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1.”

» Related: Should we slap a tax on sugary drinks? 

Scientists laid out instructions for older children, too. Toddlers who are ages 1 to 4 should only have one cup of fruit a day. Four ounces of that can come from 100 percent fruit juice, but it should be pasteurized and not labeled “drink,” “beverage” or cocktail.” 

For children ages 4 to 6, fruit juice intake shouldn't exceed four to six ounces a day. 

The amount increases just slightly for children ages 7 to 18. They can have up to two and a half cups of fruit servings, but only eight ounces of it should be juice. 

Top 15 crusaders for health in America's food industry

Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 10:59 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 10:59 PM

Wondering how this year's list stacks up against the last? Check out Top 15 Crusaders for Health in the Food Industry 2012.

Amongst all the junk food commercials and donut sandwiches, there are a handful of health heroes. These aren’t just people who eat organic greens for lunch and free-range eggs for dinner; they’re moving and shaking the way we think about our food, including where it comes from, the implications it has on our environment, and what our meals mean for our bodies. Here, we recognize 15 superstars (in no particular order) that have devoted themselves to improving American’s relationship with food.

 

1. Marion Nestle
Nestle has got her hand in nearly every facet of America’s food industry. Her blog, Food Politics, covers topics from nutrition and biology to health policy and food marketing. She’s been teaching nutrition for nearly four decades and currently teaches sociology, food studies, and public health at NYU. Nestle is the author of many books, but her latest — “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics” — is all about understanding the intersection of health and food amidst all the mass marketing and misinformation put forth by major food manufacturers. Currently, Nestle updates her blog regularly and presents at universities and conferences on topics such as genetically modified foods and the role food companies play in our food system. (Photo: www.foodpolitics.com)

 

2. Michael Pollan
As one of the foremost activists for change in the overwrought food industry, Pollan is an outspoken and often controversial figure in the food and farming space. Though probably best known for his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (which hung out on The New York Times Bestseller list for more than three years), Pollan has continued to write. In his most recent book, “Cooked”, Pollan explores how cooking connects us to plants, animals, farmers, and culture (amongst other things). (Photo by Ken Light)

 

3. Michelle Obama
After launching the Let’s Move! campaign at the start of 2010, the First Lady has made healthifying America’s eating habits (especially for kids) her job. The ultimate goal is to eliminate childhood obesity and help kids live healthier lives with good food and a little extra physical activity. This year, Obama held the second annual “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge,” where she asked children ages eight to 12 to whip up nutritious, tasty, and affordable recipes. Unfortunately, we weren’t invited to the White House kids’ “State Dinner” with the winner of this year’s challenge. (Photo: www.whitehouse.gov)

 

4. Mark Bittman
As an author and New York Times writer,Bittman likes to weigh in on what’s wrong with the American diet. A part-time veganhimself, Bittman is an advocate for the “flexitarian” diet — which means eating vegan during the day, but allowing for more flexible consumption after 6 pm. His super popular book, “How to Cook Everything”, is a go-to resource for basic kitchen skills. Not only does he push for humans to stay healthy, Bittman relentlessly encourages us to keep the environment happy and healthy, too. Oh, and in his spare time, he runsmarathons(Photo: www.markbittman.com)

 

5. Mike Bloomberg
As the mayor of New York City, Bloombergtakes his role seriously, making waves in the name of public health. From smoking bans tosoda bans, Bloomberg’s initiatives aren’t without controversy and backlash. Passionate about combating obesity, he’s pushed for salad bars and healthier menus in school cafeterias. Plus, he’s managed to eliminate trans fats from tons of restaurant items, and make it mandatory for chain restaurants to clearly post calorie counts on menus. We’re excited to see what goals Bloomberg sets (and reaches) next. (Photo: www.nyc.gov)

 
For the full list of 2013's top health crusaders in the food industry, go to Greatist.com.

Eating your way to strong memory and mental health

Published: Monday, May 15, 2017 @ 10:40 AM

Did you know nutrition may play a role in anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Disorder and Alzheimer’s disease? Studies are finding that certain nutrition deficiencies or overloads can affect different chemical and inflammatory processes leading to such conditions.

First, we have chemical substances throughout our body called neurotransmitters that are like little communicators. Some of the common neurotransmitters found in the brain include serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

Serotonin works with different brain processes including mood, appetite, sleep and memory. Dopamine works with cognition and pleasure. Norepinephrine is the flight-or-flight neurotransmitter and therefore increases alertness and attention in the brain.

How does what we eat effect neurotransmitters? The pathways to make the neurotransmitters need essential micronutrients like Vitamin B6 and iron. Therefore if we are not eating a healthy diet and lack some of these nutrients, we may also be deficient in these neurotransmitters.

RELATED: Does government play a role in children eating healthy?

Then we also have inflammation. Inflammation in our body can cause damage to our blood vessels and cells in our brain leading to illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease. Different lifestyle choices such as exercise and sleep can help to decrease inflammation. Also, a healthy diet full of antioxidants such as different vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals can also decrease inflammation and protect the brain.

A diet high in foods such as fruits, vegetables and healthy fatty oils from fish, avocados and olive oil can help to decrease inflammation. One diet shown to help decrease inflammation is the Mediterranean diet, for it is high in these foods and essential nutrients.

So, to fight against memory loss and to encourage mental health, make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Beware of processed foods or foods that have few vitamins and minerals.

MORE HEALTHY EATING TIPS: Here’s the skinny on red meat.