The case against spanking your children: Study finds it can lead to mental illness

Think spanking will make your child behave?

In fact, a new study discovered that children who receive spankings are more likely to be anti-social, aggressive and suffer from mental health and cognitive difficulties.

The study by the University of Texas and the University of Michigan finds the more a child gets spanked — defined by an open hand on the backside — the more likely they were to defy their parents. Their study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, analyzed five decades of spanking research representing around 160,000 children, according to the news site Mic.com, a website geared towards millennials.

“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.

“We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” Gershoff said. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

Spanking of children is still a popular mode of discipline in households. A 2013 poll found that 81% of Americans “say parents spanking their children is sometimes appropriate,” according to NBC News.

“We hope that our study can help educate parents about the potential harms of spanking and prompt them to try positive and non-punitive forms of discipline,” Gershoff said.

To read the whole Mic.com story click here.

Beach horror: Can sandcastles make your kids sick?

Is there anything more wholesome than children building sandcastles on an American beach?

Guess again, vacationers. The Environmental Protection Agency and pediatricians have issued warnings that beach sand can contain pollutant and bacteria especially harmful to children.

The Palm Beach Post’s news partner, Channel 5, WPTV noted that beaches are occasionally closed because of poor water quality.

A study five years ago among some 5,000 beach visitors, found that those who dug in the most contaminated sand were twice as likely to fall ill with diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach aches.

And it came from the deep. EPA and health officials warn building sand castles can be dangerous to your child’s health. No kidding. (Photo by Suzanne LaGasa via Creative Commons.)

Those who had been buried in the sand showed an even greater tendency to get sick.

Brittany Schiro said she lives close to Galveston, Texas, but comes to Clearwater in Florida with her family for cleaner beaches.

“We have a lot of problems in the water, bacterial stuff going on there,” says Schiro, who lives close to Galveston, Texas.

So what can bad sand do to you? Symptoms can range from gastrointestinal illness to severe rashes.

Sand pollution is highest after heavy rains. Doctors urge parents to use sanitizer on tiny hands.

Schiro said there are limits to being the ever-cautious parent.

“You gotta let them be children, right?” she said.

(Featured image by Richard Leeming via Creative Commons)

West Palm family mourns son, warns of nut allergy dangers

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 12: In this photo illustration, A jar of Smucker's Natural peanut butter is pictured on October 12, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. This summer's hot, dry weather devastated the Runner peanut crop, the variety most commonly used in making peanut butter, causing prices of raw peanuts to soar. The resulting increase in peanut prices is expected to raise the price consumers pay for peanut butter by more that 25 percent on most major brands. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
(Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Update Fri. Dec. 2: 

Oakley Debbs had a deadly combination: a severe allergy to nuts and acute asthma. And in a moment when the 11-year-old’s guard was down over the Thanksgiving holiday, a bite of coffee cake was all it took to fatally undo years of caution.

What torments his parents more than a week later is that they thought they had stopped the allergic reaction in its tracks.

Believing her son was on the brink of an asthma attack, she ran for that medication and her husband, Robert Debbs, stepped in.

Oakley Debbs’ heart stopped in a hospital room at 1:55 a.m. Saturday. But, says Robert, “He died in my arms Wednesday night when he was convulsing. He just went limp.”

Read the full story here. 

 

 

Original post: A West Palm Beach family is grief-stricken by the death of their 11-year-old boy over the Thanksgiving holiday, but is pushing through that pain with an aim to raise awareness about the dangers of nut allergies.

Oakley Debbs died from complications triggered by such an allergy while he was out of town visiting relatives for the holiday, family confirmed this week. A piece of cake appears to be the culprit.

Oakley was an athlete and a student at Roasarian Academy – and he favored red sneakers. And now his friends and family are donning them as well. His parents, Merrill and Robert Debbs, told our news partners at WPTV Channel 5 that they intend to start a foundation to raise awareness about food allergies, but for now the red sneakers are a symbol of support.

An estimated 4 percent to 6 percent of children in the United States have a food allergy, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Serious allergic reactions typically come from eight foods or groups of food: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts and tree nuts. Yes, peanuts are not the same as tree nuts – you can have an allergy to one and not the other.

Food allergies among children have become more common in the last two decades, the CDC reports. And at their worst, those with allergies can suffer a severe reaction called anaphylaxis  when exposed to the offending food.

The reaction can happen within seconds or minutes of exposure and sends the body into shock. Symptoms can include rash, nausea and vomiting, but also sudden drop in blood pressure and the swelling of airways.

 

 

 

In the digital age, pediatricians tweak screen time rules

The American Academy of Pediatrics got some bad news for parents relying on the television or computer to babysit their kids: two hours of screen time may be too much.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is tweaking outdated screen time rules in the age of 24/7 digital media – but it won’t be easy.

CNN reports that group is  tweaking outdated screen time rules in the age of 24/7 digital media – but it won’t be easy.

“It doesn’t make sense to make a blanket statement [of two hours] of screen time anymore,” said Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, lead author of the “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report” and assistant professor at UCLA.

There is nothing cute about the toddler at the table next to you playing with mommy’s cell phone.

Babies under 18 months should be kept from all digital devices, the researcher said. “The TV should not be a babysitter,” she said. “It’s much better to talk to a child or read from a book.”

Children 2 to 5 years of age should be limited to one hour a day and older children should have defined restrictions by their parents on screen time, Chassiakos added.

Reports says teens spend 9 hours a day using media.

For healthy kids, an average day includes “school, homework time, at least one hour of physical activity, social contact and sleep — which is anywhere from eight to 12 hours for kids, said Chassiakos.

“Whatever’s left over can be screen time,” she said.

Read the whole CNN story by clicking here.

Is Delray Beach’s proton therapy the best cure for cancer?

The city of Delray Beach was so excited that its local hospital will soon have a new cancer cure, it sent out a press release on Tuesday: “Delray Medical Center to Offer Proton Therapy”

And what’s not to like about the state-of-the-art, Star Trek looking device that cure’s cancer – especially those affecting children.

Well, the Wall Street Journal calls it an “expensive and controversial cancer treatment.”

Proton-beam therapy uses positively charged particles to kill tumor cells. Unlike traditional radiotherapy using X-rays, protons treatment minimizes the damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

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Delray Beach Medical Center is getting a proton-beam therapy machines, such as this one in the Czech Republic (Associated Press )

 

Proton-beam therapy centers can cost up to $200 million to build. The cost can be justified for childhood cancers and a small number of adult ones – such as brain tumors at the base of the skull – the jury is still out on cost-effectiveness for most common cancers, the Journal reported.

A 2013 study estimated that for prostate cancer patients, proton therapy cost $32,000 per treatment, versus $18,000 for traditional radiotherapy.

The Delray Medical Center Proton Therapy Treatment Center is estimated to cost approximately $53 million and is scheduled to open in 2018.

The city says the therapy is particularly effective in treating solid cancer tumors including tumors of the brain, spine, head and neck, lung, prostate, colon and some breast tumors.

“Due to its precision and lack of long-term side effects, proton therapy is widely used to treat children,” according to the press release.

In the past five years, proton-beam therapy rooms world-wide have nearly doubled worldwide.  It is also a great marketing tool, giving hospitals more prestige, according to the Journal’s story. Expect a billboard near you soon to tout the treatment at the hospital willing to make the investment.

“We are looking forward to offering this innovative treatment option at Delray Medical Center,” said Mark Bryan, CEO of Delray Medical Center is quoted in the city’s press release. “It is always our goal to incorporate new technologies and techniques that will make treatment safer and less invasive for our patients.”

Proton International out of Louisville, Ky., is going to build the proton therapy treatment center in Delray Beach.

“This will assure local residents won’t have to travel to gain access to this treatment which will reduce the stress and disruption on families,” said Chris Chandler, the company’s CEO.

To read all of the Wall Street Journal’s story click here.

Local mom fought for kids in Medicaid lawsuit

More than a decade ago, Rita Gorenflo of Palm Beach Gardens signed on as a plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit against the state of Florida on behalf of nearly two million poor and disabled children on Medicaid.

Through a lengthy Miami trial and the appeal of the judge’s scathing findings against the state, Gorenflo lost a son, while she raised six other adopted disabled children to adulthood.

Last week, the state and plaintiffs settled the class-action case with Florida agreeing to increase enrollment efforts that have left children off of Medicaid.

“It is, at least, an admission from the state that issues exist and need to be dealt with,” said Gorenflo, her son Thomas’ care becoming a prime example of the state failing disabled children.

One of the biggest victories in the multifaceted settlement is that the state agreed to increase reimbursement rates for doctors and pediatricians – one of the lowest in the country. The aim is that more doctors will now participate in the Medicaid program, increasing care and cutting travel times for families.

“It’s been 30 years since physicians were able to increase their reimbursement,” Gorenflo said. “You want to know why pediatricians were reluctant to take Medicaid patients? It was way beyond pathetic. Hopefully, it will be better.”

Gorenflo’s son, Thomas, died of his birth defects in 2011 at age 12. He became emblematic of the lawsuit. Despite his lungs being crushed by the curvature of his spine due to progressive scoliosis, the child had to wait 18 months for vital surgery while Gorenflo battled the state.

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Les and Rita Gorenflo of Palm Beach Gardens adopted Thomas, 2, in 2001. Thomas’ care became emblematic of the lawsuit against the state of Florida claiming it failed children on Medicaid. He died in 2011. (Photo by Jennifer Podis)

The registered nurse praised the lead attorney Stuart Singer and his firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, which handled the case pro-bono. The case was settled after a federal judge ruled for the plaintiffs in December 2014, finding the state was low-balling doctors. Florida, however, appealed the decision.

Singer said there is a belief the state agency that administers Medicaid — the Agency for Health Care Administration — will act in good faith. “There is also the ability to go to court and seek injunctive relief if the agreement is materially breached and that is not remedied,” he told The Post.

Dr. Tommy Shechtman, president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, noted that there is still work to be done as there are approximately 377,000 uninsured children in Florida — more than 28,600 living in Palm Beach County.

“We have the unfortunate distinction of being one of the nation’s top 20 counties for having the highest number children without health insurance,” Schechtman said. “This is alarming. However, I remain encouraged that through FCAAP’s collaboration with the state we can and will strive for significant improvement.”

Tallahassee pediatric cardiologist Louis St. Petery, who was highly involved in the lawsuit, said the effects of the settlement will take some time to implement.

“I don’t see any change in access tomorrow compared to today just because the settlement agreement is in place,” he said. “The settlement agreement meters this out over one year, two years, three years, depending on which category of physicians and dentists you’re talking about.”

Which cities are vulnerable to a Zika outbreak?

South Florida remains a likely place in the United States for a Zika virus outbreak by the mosquito Aedes aegypti.

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A study shows South Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii are the most likely hot spots for a Zika outbreak this summer.

So far, the nearly 260 people who have gotten the illness in the United States were travelers to Latin America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A recent study in the journal PLOS Currents found 50 U.S. cities where the blood-sucking insect would be able to survive, maybe even thrive, in the upcoming summer months. Nine of those cities are home to 14 million people.

According to this Washington Post map, South Florida is a likely target for Aedes aegypti but even New York City isn’t out of reach. Other places such as Puerto Rico and Hawaii have already been identified as likely hot spots.

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The Washington Post map showing most vulnerable cities for a Zika outbreak this summer.

 

Researchers say the study provides only a “baseline risk” level for the country as public health officials gear up for the mosquitoes’ likely arrival.

 

 

By mid-summer, conditions across the entire southern half of the United States are suitable for Aedes aegypti to thrive, particularly in the Southeast.

The Zika virus has been linked to a range of birth defects, including a condition which causes children to be born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains and Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can lead to paralysis.

“There is nothing about Zika control that is quick or easy,” Centers for Disease Control Director Thomas Frieden said earlier this month during a call with reporters. “The only thing quick is the mosquito bite that can give it to you.”
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Florida Legislature ends the tenure of state Surgeon General Armstrong

The 2016 Legislative ended on Friday – and so did the tenure of Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong.

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Dr. John Armstrong is no longer Florida Surgeon General.

The Florida Senate declined to bring his confirmation vote to the floor and Gov. Rick Scott quickly appointed Dr. Celeste Philip, the department secretary for the Department of Health, as Acting Surgeon General.

Scott first appointed Armstrong in 2012 and reappointed him this year, but the Senate refused to confirm over questions about cuts to staff at the Department of Health, implementation of medical marijuana and his response to the growing HIV rate in South Florida.

There was also concern over children being dropped from the state’s Medicaid rolls and the disbanding of cardiac panel of renowned physicians that reviewed pediatric heart programs of hospitals. The move came after the panel reviewed the pediatric cardiac program at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach – a program that has since been shut down.

Scott lauded Armstrong in announcing Philip’s appointment, saying he made Florida a leading destination for cancer research and treatment and responded to epidemics like Zika.

“Even while battling cancer in recent months, Dr. Armstrong displayed unwavering determination to protect Florida families, and I truly appreciate his hard work,” the governor said in a statement..