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A study found that the number of children treated in emergency departments for traumatic brain injuries sustained on playgrounds has increased significantly in recent years.

A study found that the number of children treated in emergency departments for traumatic brain injuries sustained on playgrounds has increased significantly in recent years.

Playground danger

A study slated for publication in the June issue of Pediatrics found a significant increase in the number of children treated in recent years in emergency rooms for traumatic brain injuries that occurred on playgrounds.

According to the report, “Nonfatal Playground-Related Brain Injuries Among Children, 2001-2013,” during the 12-year study period an average of more than 21,000 kids aged 14 and younger were treated for traumatic brain injuries each year.

The study found also that:

• More than 95 percent of children were treated and released.

• More than half [53.5 percent] of those inured were aged 5-9.

• About one-third of injuries occurred either at places of recreation or sports or at school.

• Playground equipment most commonly associated with traumatic brain injuries were monkey bars or playground gyms and swings.

• The annual rate of emergency department visits for traumatic brain injuries increased significantly from 2005-2013.

Despite recent safety upgrades to playground equipment and surfaces, the study authors said steps such as better adult supervision and methods to reduce risky child behaviorare needed to reduce injuries.

Growing packet problem

Many consumers apparently are not getting the message about the danger that detergent packets pose to children.

A new study published in this month’s issue of Pediatrics looked at data on more than 60,000 calls made in 2013 and 2014 to U.S. poison control centers to report unintentional exposure to laundry and dishwashing detergents among children younger than age 6.

For all kinds of laundry and dish detergents, exposures increased over the study period but the biggest boost involved laundry detergent packets [17 percent] followed by dishwashing detergent packets [14 percent].

Serious health problems reported from laundry detergent packets included coma [17 cases], respiratory arrest [six cases], pulmonary edema [four cases] and cardiac arrest [two cases].

In October 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of the dangers associated with laundry detergent packets, or pods.

“Parents and caregivers should keep laundry detergent pods, as well as other household cleaning products, out of reach and out of sight of children,’” the CDC said.

Predicting obesity

It is possible to predict obesity in a child as young as 6 months of age using body mass index [BMI] as an indicator, according to a study presented this month at the Endocrine Society’s national meeting.

At Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, researchers observed that at roughly 4 months of age, the BMI trajectories of children who were classified as “obese” by age 6 began differing from BMI trajectories of children who maintained a normal weight.

“BMI at 6, 12 or 18 months of age above the 85th percentile on the growth chart can accurately predict children at risk for early childhood obesity,” said Allison Smego, M.D., lead author of the study. “These children have a high lifetime risk for persistent obesity and metabolic disease and should be monitored closely at a very young age.”

Currently, recommendations do not call for BMI to be measured before age 2, but Smego said a change is in order.

“Pediatricians can identify high-risk infants with BMI above the 85th percentile and focus additional counseling and education regarding healthy lifestyles toward the families of these children,” she said. “Our hope in using this tool is that we can prevent obesity in early childhood.”

Antibiotic overload

Doctors’ prescriptions for oral antibiotics in 2010-2011 may have been “inappropriate” about 30 percent of the time, according to a report in this month’s issue of JAMA.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], antibiotics have been widely used for so long that the infections they are designed to kill have adapted to them, reducing their effectiveness. Every year in the U.S., the CDC reports, at least 2 million people experience antibiotic-resistant infections, and at least 23,000 people die from those infections.

Aware of but unsure of the extent of antibiotic overuse, a team from the CDC conducted a study using national data from 2010-2011. Summarizing their findings, they wrote:

“Half of antibiotic prescriptions for acute respiratory conditions may have been unnecessary, representing 34 million antibiotic prescriptions annually. Collectively, across all conditions, an estimated 30 percent of outpatient, oral antibiotic prescriptions may have been inappropriate.”

On the calendar

“Fitness on the Go: Apps and Trackers” is from 7-8 p.m. on Monday, May 23 at the St. Charles City-County Library District’s Middendorf-Kredell branch, 2750 Hwy. K in O’Fallon. The program for adults provides information on free fitness apps for Android and Apple devices and one-on-one assistance with setting up apps and/or synching fitness trackers. Attendees should bring a fully charged mobile device or tracker. To register, visit youranswerplace.org, and click on “Programs & Events.”

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St. Luke’s Hospital presents “Are You at Risk for Diabetes or its Complications?” from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25 at WingHaven Medical Building, 5551 WingHaven Blvd. in O’Fallon. The screening is designed for those at risk of type 2 diabetes or those with a history of diabetes who wish to better manage their health. The individual consultation with a certified diabetes educator includes a non-fasting A1C blood test (finger stick with immediate results), blood pressure and an individual action plan. The fee is $12, and an appointment is required. Call (314) 542-4848.

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BJC HealthCare presents “Lower Back Pain … When to be Concerned?” from 4-5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7 at McClay Library, 2760 McClay Road in St. Charles. David Minges, M.D., orthopedic spine surgeon, presents information on the causes of lower back pain. Admission is free, and registration is not required. For more information, call 928-9355.

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