Busy, multitasking parents are at risk for making medication mistakes, as they may not remember their child’s prescribed dose or may not know how to measure the dose correctly. According to a study in the August 2014 Pediatrics, “Unit of Measurement Used and Parent Medication Dosing Errors,” published online July 14, medication errors are common. The study found that 39.4 percent of parents incorrectly measured the dose they intended, and ultimately 41.1 percent made an error in measuring what their doctor had prescribed. Part of the reason why parents may be confused regarding how to dose prescribed medications accurately is that a range of units of measurement, like milliliters, teaspoons and tablespoons, may be used interchangeably to describe their child’s dose as part of counseling by their doctor or pharmacist, or when the dose is shown on their prescription or medication bottle label. Due to concerns about these issues, use of the milliliter as the single standard unit of measurement for pediatric liquid medications has been suggested as a strategy to reduce medication errors by organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. In this study, compared to parents who used milliliter-only units, parents who used teaspoon or tablespoon units to describe their child’s dose of liquid medicine had twice the odds of making a mistake in measuring the intended dose. Parents who described their dose using teaspoons or tablespoons were more likely to use a kitchen spoon to dose, rather than a standardized instrument like an oral syringe, dropper, or cup. Even those who used standardized instruments were still more likely to make a dosing error if they reported their child’s dose using teaspoon or tablespoon units. Parent mix up of terms like milliliter, teaspoon and tablespoon contribute to more than 10,000 poison center calls each year. Study authors conclude that adopting a milliliter-only unit of measurement can reduce confusion and decrease medication errors, especially for parents with low health literacy or limited English proficiency.
Dear Mr. Dad: My 12-year-old daughter recently had a slumber party with two friends from school. One of them left her phone. I texted my daughter so she could tell her friend, and two seconds later got this back: DO NOT READ ANYTHING ON THAT PHONE!!!!! Clearly she was trying to hide something, so I immediately opened the phone and started reading the texts—especially between this girl and my daughter. With all the abbreviations, I could hardly understand what they were talking about. But based on my daughter’s response, I’m worried. Should I be? And was I wrong to read those texts?
A: Yes and no. Your daughter’s screaming response could simply be a demand for privacy, which is something you should try to respect. However, her response seems so panicky that I think you were right to snoop. The fact that you couldn’t understand what you were reading doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything to worry about—your daughter and her friend could be having completely innocent conversations that you’re just not cool enough to understand (very few adults are). On the other hand, it could be exactly the opposite.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant mortality have several known risk factors, but little is known if these factors change for different age groups. In a new study in the August 2014 Pediatrics, “Sleep Environment Risks for Younger and Older Infants,” published online July 14, researchers studied sleep-related infant deaths from 24 states from 2004-2012 in the case reporting system of the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths. Cases were divided by younger (0-3 months) and older (4 months to one year) infants. In a total of 8,207 deaths analyzed, majority of the infants (69 percent) were bed-sharing at the time of death. Fifty-eight percent were male, and most deaths occurred in non-Hispanic whites. Younger infants were more likely bed-sharing (73.8 percent vs. 58.9 percent), sleeping on an adult bed or on/near a person, while older infants were more likely found prone with objects, such as blankets or stuffed animals in the sleep area. Researchers conclude that sleep-related infant deaths risk factors are different for younger and older infants. Parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for a safe sleep environment and understand that different factors reflect risk at different developmental stages.
It isn’t supposed to be this way, but parenthood can be a competitive sport. Whose kid scored the most points? Whose got the best grades? Whose started speaking or walking or crawling earliest? Whose got a modeling contract? Whose can identify the most brand logos? Most of the time, when our child excels, we’re proud—as though somehow his or her accomplishments are a reflection of our amazing parenting skills.
But when it comes to brand logos, we may want to be a little more humble—and discouraging—especially if those logos have anything to do with fast foods. According to researchers at Michigan State University, the more fast-food logos a child could identify, the greater his or her BMI (a measure of body fat based on a ratio between height and weight).
With technology making its way into every aspect of our lives, kids are spending a lot less time playing outside than we did when we where their age. And even when they do play outside, it’s often in a highly structured activity (like soccer, swimming, and most other organized sports) that doesn’t give kids freedom to explore, create, or just have fun. There are alternatives, however, and this week we bring you four of them.
Jumparoo Frog Pogo Stick (Geospace)
Most pogo sticks bounce up and down on a post, which makes it hard for little kids to keep balanced. But the Jumparoo frog pogo stick has a wide, rounded base, which lets your pollywog bounce around to his or her heart’s content, giggling all the way. It’s great for developing coordination and balance, plus it’s a great workout. Oh, and if that isn’t fun enough, the Jumparoo ribbits with every boing. For kids 4 and up who weigh 28-62 pounds (yes, that means you’ll have to stay off of it—but Jumparoo makes adult-sized pogo, if you want to join the fun). $77.50 at Amazon, or at http://www.geospaceplay.com/
Fly Max Football (Geospace)
Every child—boy or girl—who’s ever picked up a football has dreamed of throwing a deadly accurate 50-yard bomb. But those of us who are not named Manning, Rodgers, Brady, or Kaepernick have had to settle for much, much shorter and not-terribly-accurate passes. But with the Fly Max Football, you and the kids can actually throw on-the-money passes up to 100 yards. The Fly Max looks like a cross between a small football and a hollow rocket ship with fins. It has a dial that you can set to maximize distance for either rightys or leftys. It also makes a cool buzzy-whistly sound as it files. Made for future first-round draft pics 6 and up—and the grownups who do their laundry and drive them to practice. $19.99 at http://www.geospaceplay.com/
Top Toss Pro Lawn Game (Ideal)
Top Toss combines elements from horseshoes, bowling, and other yard games to create a truly unique and fun outdoor activity for the whole family. Your first task is to build the tower, which looks like a short ladder (it’s actually almost four feet high) with a wide base. That’ll take about five minutes. Then, it’s on to the actual game. Players take turns throwing bolo balls (imagine an 8-inch piece of yarn with a soft golf ball attached to each end), trying to get them to wrap around the rungs of the tower. The rungs get smaller as the tower gets taller, so high ones score more than lower ones. Because set-up and tear-down are so easy, Top Toss is a great choice for the backyard, the beach, or even indoors. For two or more players ages 8 and up, Top Toss comes with three bolo balls, all the steel rods and plastic connectors you’ll need to build the tower, bilingual instructions, and a storage bag. $34.99 (or $54.99 for the “pro” version that comes with two towers) at http://poof-slinky.com/product/top-toss/
My 1st Sports T-Ball (Poof)
What a great way to introduce your little one to baseball. Set-up takes all of 15 seconds and then it’s home-run derby time (with a subtle lesson in hand-eye coordination). Excellent for outdoor play, but it could work indoors too. The ball and bat are made of foam, so even if your little slugger really smacks one, damage should be minimal. Best for preschoolers (most kids over 5 are ready for the more traditional T) $22.99 at http://poof-slinky.com/