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Health capsules: June 6

Keep the fun in summer … know the facts about water safety 

Swimming is a big part of summer fun for kids – but it’s also a time for parents to be vigilant against drowning accidents.

Now that school is out, area pools are opening and families are planning their summer beach vacations, it’s a great time for parents to revisit the essentials of keeping their children safe in and around the water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14, and kills more children between the ages of 1 and 4 than any other cause except birth defects.
Drowning emergencies can happen in seconds, even in situations where children are supervised, but they are preventable. Before letting your children hit the water this summer, it’s important to remember the following tips, provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Gateway YMCA, to make swimming an enjoyable and safe experience.

1. Never – even for a moment – leave children alone or in the care of another child while in swimming pools, lakes, spas, small wading pools or even bathtubs. Swimming aids such as water wings or inflatable floats should also never be used as substitutes for adult supervision. 

2. Follow the “arm’s length” rule when young children are in the water, to keep them within instant reach of an adult’s touch. 

3. Residential swimming pools should be surrounded by a fence that prevents direct access to the pool. Motorized pool covers, pool alarms, and other protective devices are not substitutes for four-sided fencing of at least 4 feet in height. 

4. Parents, caregivers, and pool owners should learn CPR and keep U.S. Coast Guard-approved preservers, life jackets, and a shepherd’s crook [a long pole with a hook on the end] at poolside.

5. Children should be required to use an approved personal flotation device whenever riding in a boat, wherever they are at risk of falling into the water [for example, walking along a river bank] or if they are inexperienced swimmers.

6. Parents should know the depth of the water and the location of underwater hazards before permitting children to jump or dive in. Their first entry into any body of water should be feet-first. They should never be allowed to jump into or swim in fast-moving water.

7. Kids should never jump into deep water to help another swimmer in distress. 

8. When swimming in large bodies of water, children should be taught about the dangers of rip currents, depth and water temperature changes.

Finally – and most importantly – all children should learn to swim. In general, kids are not developmentally ready for formal swimming lessons before they reach four years of age. However, every child is different.  Although swimming skills certainly decrease a child’s risk of drowning, they cannot provide “drown-proofing” for children of any age.

Slashing carbs may provide safe, effective diabetes control

For those who are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, following a very low carbohydrate diet can improve blood sugar control with few complications in both adults and children with Type 1 diabetes, according to a recent survey conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Survey participants reported an average intake of 36 grams of carbohydrates per day, which equated to just 5 percent of their total daily calories – or, for comparison purposes, the amount contained in about one cup of grapes plus one slice of whole wheat bread. By contrast, the American Diabetes Association currently recommends that about 45 percent of daily calories come from carbohydrates.

The patients who participated in the survey were members of the Facebook group TypeOneGrit, a community of people with Type 1 diabetes who have committed to following a carb-restricted diet, which was popularized by Dr. Richard Bernstein in the book “Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution.” Of the 316 people included in the survey, 133 were children.

The participants’ self-reported hemoglobin A1c values, the primary measure of blood-sugar control, averaged in the normal range at 5.67 percent [the target is below 7 percent]. Nearly all participants [97 percent] said they had achieved this target. They also required lower-than-average doses of insulin to manage their disease. Those for whom data were available had good measures of insulin sensitivity and cardiometabolic health, such as low triglyceride levels and high HDL “good” cholesterol levels.

Safety concerns have been raised in the past about extremely low-carb diets in type 1 diabetes, especially that they may increase the risk of dangerous drops in blood sugar. However, followers of the diet also noted very few adverse events, with only 2 percent of the survey respondents reporting a diabetes-related hospitalization within the past year.

The study’s authors emphasized that these results, while promising and worthy of more research, do not justify a major change in diet by others with diabetes. The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.

On the calendar

BJC offers a Family & Friends CPR course on Tuesday, June 12 from 6:30-9 p.m. at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon, in Conference Room B.  The course provides instruction and hands-on practice for parents, childcare providers and babysitters for adult hands-only CPR; infant and child CPR with breaths; introduction to adult and child AED use; and relief of choking in an adult, child or infant. The course is taught by registered nurses using the American Heart Association video-led curriculum. The course does not include certification. The course fee is $25. To register, call (636) 344-5437.

• • •

BJC hosts A Day of Play from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, June 16 at Barnes-Jewish Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Pkwy. in O’Fallon. This family-focused event will feature activities, information and fun for all ages, including bounce houses, art stations, face painting, rescue trucks, free health screenings, fitness challenges and more. Admission is free.

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