Unwrap The Gift of Toy Safety


dr parrottOklahoma City— That toy may look cute and cuddly or cool and captivating but The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center is urging parents to inspect toys carefully before they buy this holiday season.
The biggest threat to the health of children older than 1 is not a dreaded disease. It's accidental injury. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year thousands of children suffer injuries from toys severe enough to be treated in a hospital emergency room.

“Sometimes parents just assume toys are safe, but we’ve got to keep our eyes out and our thinking caps on when it comes to gift buying.  A safe-appearing toy can be dangerous if it’s in the wrong hands, age-inappropriate or used improperly,” said Jennifer Parrot, pediatric injury prevention coordinator at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center.
Your challenge is to find toys that your children will enjoy and that you know are safe.

 The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City recommends these Consumer Product Safety Commission tips that can help keep the holiday season safe for your youngsters:
•    Avoid toys that shoot or have parts that fly off.
•    Choose toys made of durable materials with no sharp edges or points.
•    Don't give young children toys with small parts. Youngsters tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking.
•    Choose age-appropriate toys. Age labeling is provided for developmental and safety reasons.
•    Select toys to suit a child's abilities, skill, and interest level.
•    To avoid serious ear injury, don't buy toys that make loud or shrill noise.
•    Choose well-made stuffed animals. The eyes, noses, and other small parts should be fastened securely.
•    Never buy hobby kits, such as chemistry sets, for children younger than age 12.
•    Look for the letters ASTM, which indicate that a toy or product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Tips to avoid playtime mishaps:
•    Explain and demonstrate how to use toys.
•    Keep toys for older children away from younger ones.
•    Discard packaging immediately. Sharp staples and plastic bags can cause injuries and pose safety hazards.
•    Make sure children play in safe areas and, if appropriate, under supervision.
•    Make a list of safety rules and share them with your children. If your youngsters are playing with friends, remind everyone of your safety rules.
•    Inspect older toys for broken or sharp edges, loose parts, and loose strings or ribbons.

For more information about ensuring a healthy holiday for the entire family, visit a special web page with helpful topics ranging from eating healthy to keeping peace during the holidays at OU Medicine.

Holiday Poison Prevention


whitney kempLook-alikes and older relatives’ medications can spell trouble for little ones

The holidays are full of awe and wonder, vibrant colors, fun shapes and smells. So it’s important that parents and loved ones take extra caution and keep potentially poisonous products out of the hands of children during this super sensory time of year.

Nearly half of the 48,000 calls made to Oklahoma Poison Control Center each year are about children younger than 5, said center education coordinator Whitney Kemp. Often, kids ingest potentially harmful things because they look like something they’ve eaten before, they’re colorful, they smell good or simply because kids are tactile learners and love to put things in their mouths.  

“Kids mistake medications for candy, or they get into things that have been left out,” Kemp said.

Medications are a leading cause of child poisoning. More than 67,000 children visit emergency rooms—including The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center emergency room— each year for medicine poisoning. Almost all of these visits are because the child got into medicines while their parent or caregiver wasn’t looking, according to the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide.

“Visitors might leave medications out or in a suitcase, overnight bag or purse,” Kemp said. “Kids like to get into these things. So give visitors a safe place to put their medications so they’re not accessible, some place up and away, out of sight and out of mind.”

Also during the holidays, remind friends and family to keep potentially dangerous household products away from curious kids. Many things in the home that can be poisonous look like other harmless items kids see all of the time.

For example, the pine-scented cleaner in the kitchen cupboard looks a lot like apple juice. The window cleaner, mouthwash or dishwasher rinse agent are all the same color as blue sports drinks. Ibuprofen, iron supplements, aspirin and some coated medications look like candy.

Kemp said it’s important to keep these look-alikes away from children all the time, but during the holidays when others are in the home, often things are left out or not stored properly.

Some tips to keep poisonous look-alikes and medications away from children:

•    Keep potentially dangerous household products in one area of the home.
•    Make sure the household products are stored in their original containers.
•    Medications should be kept in their original packaging or containers.
•    Label dangerous household products with some kind of sticker indicating it’s “yuck,” and teach your children what the sticker means.
•    Keep cabinets and areas with the dangerous products locked.
•    Make sure medications are stored up and away.
•    Remind friends and family to follow these guidelines to keep kids safe.

Kemp said if a parent suspects their child might have come in contact with a potential poison to call Oklahoma Poison Control right away at (800) 222-1222. A pharmacist or nurse will take your call. 

For more information about ensuring a healthy holiday for the entire family, visit a special web page with helpful topics ranging from eating healthy to keeping peace during the holidays at OU Medicine


Holiday Health Roundup

December 10, 2013

In the wake of Oklahoma’s big winter storm, we have a storm of stories to help state media through the hectic holiday season. It’s your one-stop shopping for holiday health stories. Here’s a look at what’s on tap in this media briefing:

Preventing Holiday Illness

Holiday Togetherness Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
OU Medicine experts offer tips to stay healthy and avoid those pesky winter-time illnesses

dr robert welliver

Oklahoma City – Tis the season for stores and malls crowded with holiday shoppers, for holiday parties and for family gatherings, but it is also the time when we tend to spread wintertime illnesses along with all of that holiday cheer.

“This is the time of year when doctor’s offices get very busy. If you or your children have been battling sore throats, coughs and the aches and pains that often accompany illness, you are not alone. It seems when people gather, we see more illness,” said Dr. Robert Welliver, an infectious disease specialist with OU Physicians. “The good news is that a little prevention can go a long way toward keeping you and your family healthy during the holidays.”

Best Shot to Stay Healthy
The flu is miserable and being down with influenza is no way to spend the holidays. A flu shot is valued protection during the winter months and it is not too late to vaccinate.

“Influenza is serious,” Welliver said. “Everyone should get vaccinated—it protects you and keeps you from spreading the virus to other people.”

While timing of the flu varies and is sometimes unpredictable, seasonal flu activity usually begins in October, then peaks in January or February and ends as late as May.

This year, a new quadrivalent -- or four-part -- vaccine is available for the first time in an effort to target even more flu strains. The flu shot is available through your health care provider and at many pharmacies across Oklahoma too.

Welliver added that it is also important to make sure that all of your child’s vaccinations are up to date.

Hand-to-hand Combat Helps Prevent Illness
“Hand washing is so simple and yet such a powerful weapon when it comes to illness prevention,” Welliver said. “Although viruses are sometimes spread through the air, the most common method of transmission is by hand. So the more we wash our hands, the fewer infections we are going to contract.”
Proper hand washing takes a little effort. Ideally, lather your hands with soap and water and really scrub well for 15 to 30 seconds. Interestingly, though, even a cursory hand washing, if done often, can help prevent the transmission of illness.

Another tip is to avoid coughing into your hand. Instead, cover your face with your arm and cough into your elbow. This helps keep disease-spreading bugs from getting on your hands and being spread to others.

Don’t touch your face and teach your children not to touch their faces either. Welliver explained that bacteria and viruses sometimes can be on the surfaces we touch. If we then touch our eyes, nose or mouth, they have entry into our bodies and can cause infection.

Eat Well, Sleep Well
It’s sometimes too easy to put healthy nutrition on the back burner in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but good nutrition helps boost the body’s own illness-fighting power. So do keep proper nutrition in mind in the midst of your holiday celebrations.

“Family schedules often go out the window during the holiday season. Bedtimes slide to make room for parties and family gatherings, but sleep is really vital to staying healthy,”Welliver  said.

Sticking to regular mealtimes and bedtimes helps ensure better nutrition and adequate rest for our children and for us too.

Stay Home When Sick
If you aren’t feeling well, doctors advise staying home from work or school to feel better sooner.

“Interestingly, staying home can help prevent the spread of illness, but not eliminate it altogether. That’s because often you are contagious days before you experience your first symptoms; but staying home definitely will help you feel a lot better, a lot sooner,” Welliver said.

Some people will till try to keep going by taking medication. Medications can help reduce the fever as well as the aches and pains that go along with many wintertime illnesses; but as the medication wears off, you will start feeling badly again. Ultimately, Welliver said rest is what your body needs most when battling illness. So stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids.

No Magic Pill
Winter-time illness is common and you may want to check in with your pediatrician or family physician, but remember there is no magic pill that will make you suddenly feel better.

“A lot of parents believe that antibiotics will help, but antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Welliver said.

Some folks believe that large amounts of vitamin C will ward off illness. Welliver said while it won’t hurt you, it probably won’t help much either. Zinc is another supplement that has grown more popular in recent years with claims that it can reduce the severity or duration of cold symptoms. However, recent research found no differences between individuals receiving zinc and those receiving a placebo. 

For more information about ensuring a healthy holiday for the entire family, visit a special web page with helpful topics ranging from eating healthy to keeping peace during the holidays at OU Medicine

OU Medicine Chat: Making Babies

December 6, 2013 at 9:15  a.m. CST
Guest: Alexander Quaas, OU Physicians Reproductive Endocrinologist

You have been looking forward to creating that beautiful family that you have always dreamed of and now is the time— but nothing is happening.  Your experience is not unique. Many people have a hard time making babies. So many things have to be “just right” for the creative process to begin.

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