Unfounded Autism Fears Are Fueling Minnesota’s Measles Outbreak

Jun 07

State health officials are struggling to contain a measles outbreak that has sickened mostly Somali-American children. The vaccination rate is low in this tight community that’s worried about autism.

Source: Unfounded Autism Fears Are Fueling Minnesota’s Measles Outbreak

Additional Reading: The Verge, CNN

Head Lice Prevention 

Dec 07


It’s that time of year when head lice start to spread through schools.  Educate yourself so you can reduce your family’s likelihood of dealing with these unwelcome guests.

From the CDC:

Head lice are spread most commonly by direct head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact. However, much less frequently they are spread by sharing clothing or belongings onto which lice have crawled or nits attached to shed hairs may have fallen. The risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen onto a carpet or furniture is very small. Head lice survive less than 1–2 days if they fall off a person and cannot feed; nits cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they are not kept at the same temperature as that found close to the scalp.

The following are steps that can be taken to help prevent and control the spread of head lice:

  • Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at home, school, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp).
  • Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, hair ribbons, or barrettes.
  • Do not share combs, brushes, or towels. Disinfest combs and brushes used by an infested person by soaking them in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5–10 minutes.
  • Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.
  • Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that an infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks.
  • Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. However, spending much time and money on housecleaning activities is not necessary to avoid reinfestation by lice or nits that may have fallen off the head or crawled onto furniture or clothing.
  • Do not use fumigant sprays or fogs; they are not necessary to control head lice and can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

To help control a head lice outbreak in a community, school, or camp, children can be taught to avoid activities that may spread head lice.

Further Reading from the Mayo clinic available here.



Tobacco “candy” may pose a special risk to young children

Jun 01
Even small amounts of nicotine can be hazardous to infants and toddlers, and now a candy-like smokeless tobacco product has researchers concerned. Recent data from poison control centers shows that over 70% of toxic tobacco ingestions involve children less than 1 year of age and that smokeless tobacco products account for a rising proportion of ingestions by kids under 6. The new product-designed to give smokers a nicotine fix when they can’t light up-not only dispenses flavored pellets that look like candies, it also contains more “free,” or un-ionized, nicotine (a form more rapidly absorbed in the mouth) than cigarettes, which may be more toxic if ingested. Though the product is sold in childproof packaging, experts are wary that adults may dispense several pellets at a time and inadvertently leave some lying around. They urge extra vigilance in keeping all forms of tobacco out of the reach of children. Source: Pediatrics 125 (2010): 896-99.

Pertussis Video

May 05

Jennifer Lopez, singer, actress and mother, and the March of Dimes launch a national whooping cough education campaign. This new initiative focuses on educating new parents and their families about pertussis, a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease for infants. The 60-sec PSAs featuring Ms. Lopez are available in both English and Spanish. The video encourages new and expectant parents to help protect their babies by making sure that anyone who is, or will be, in close contact with a young infant has been vaccinated against pertussis.