Health Briefs

by Stacey

From the New York Times this week…

These Drugs Are for Colds, Not Fidgets
In a widely reported incident last month, a Georgia woman and her talkative 19-month-old son were removed from a flight to Oklahoma after the toddler kept repeating, “Bye-bye, plane!” during the safety demonstration, the annoyed flight attendant suggested a dose of Benadryl, and the mother took offense.

Whatever the merits of that confrontation, doctors say there is one lesson to take away: drugs like Benadryl should never be given to sedate a child. For one thing, they can have side effects, including constipation and respiratory problems. And for another, in some children they produce the exact opposite of the desired effect.

“Instead of becoming sleepy they can become very animated and less controllable,” said Dr. Charles J. Coté, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Harvard Medical School.

That paradoxical reaction to the antihistamines contained in many common cold medicines and allergy remedies occurs in as many as 5 percent to 10 percent of children, some experts say. It is not medically dangerous, but it can take a couple of hours to wear off. Indeed, the fine print on these drugs’ labels warns of possible “excitability.” To read more go here.

If It Says McDonald’s, Then It Must Be Good
Hamburgers, french fries, chicken nuggets, and even milk and carrots all taste better to children if they think they came from McDonald’s, a small study suggests.

(Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children’s Taste Preferences, The Archives of Adolescent and Pediatric Medicine)

In taste tests with 63 children ages 3 to 5, there was only a slight preference for the McDonald’s-branded hamburger over one wrapped in plain paper, not enough to be statistically significant. But for all the other foods, the McDonald’s brand made all the difference.

Almost 77 percent, for example, thought that McDonald’s french fries served in a McDonald’s bag tasted better, compared with 13 percent who liked the fries in a plain white bag. Apparently carrots, too, taste better if they are served on paper with the McDonald’s name on it. More than 54 percent preferred them, compared with 23 percent each for those who liked the unbranded carrots and those who thought they tasted the same.

Walt Riker, a McDonald’s vice president, said in an e-mail message that “this is an important study and McDonald’s has been actively addressing it for quite some time. “In fact,” he said, “McDonald’s own ‘branding’ of milk, apples, salads, and other fruits and vegetables has directly resulted in major increases in the purchases of these menu items by moms, families and children.”

But Dr. Thomas N. Robinson, an associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford and the lead researcher on the study, was not impressed. “The best response the fast-food industry could make to this information,” he said, “is to alter their menus to include a majority of healthful foods instead of encouraging consumption of high-fat, high-calorie foods.” To read more go here.

Review Set for Pregnancy Weight Advice
An influential U.S. medical panel is considering changes to the medical guidelines for how much weight a woman should gain during pregnancy. It’s acting on the insistence of doctors who say heavy moms are gaining too much weight and the current recommendations do not factor in the country’s obesity epidemic.

Carrying too much weight while pregnant increases the risk of complications for mother and baby, including birth defects, labor and delivery problems, fetal death and delivery of large babies, according to the March of Dimes.

A revision is long overdue, said Dr. Raul Artal of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. ”The reality is for too long we are telling pregnant women to take it easy during pregnancy, be confined and to eat for two,” he said. ”This has been one factor in causing the epidemic of overweight and obesity that we see in our country.”

This fall, the Institute of Medicine, a private organization that advises the federal government, is expected to begin the lengthy process of gathering scientific evidence to decide if the guidelines should be changed, said spokeswoman Christine Stencel. To read more go here.

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Filed under Benadryl and kids, children's health, drugs, family life, fast food marketing, food, kids, McDonalds, McDonalds marketing, parenting, pregnancy, pregnancy weight gain, safety

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