Posted On: August 31, 2008

D.C.-based Commission Warns Against Simplicity Inc. Bassinets

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision has issued a warning against the popular "close-sleeper/bedside-sleeper" bassinets made by Simplicity Inc., after two babies were trapped and strangled to death by the bassinet's metal bars.

According to the article, these are the most popular bassinets in the country. The Commission says that the spacing of the metal bars is what makes the bassinets dangerous:

It said the two bassinets contain metal bars spaced farther apart than 2 3/8 inches, the maximum distance allowed under federal crib safety standards. Federal regulations make such standards voluntary for bassinets.

The article notes that those who bought the bassinets from Target can return them for a refund, and that anyone with questions about them can call the Commission's hotline at 800-638-2772. It would be advisable to avoid not only these bassinets but also others with similarly spaced metal bars.

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Posted On: August 31, 2008

FDA Revisits Cold Medicine Standards for Infants

We have discussed concerns over the efficacy and safety of cough and cold medicines for very young children many times in the past.

Now, in reaction to these concerns, the FDA plans to take another look at the reasons why these cough and cold medications were approved for toddlers and infants in the first place. From the article:

In response to rising concerns that the products are ineffective and could be unsafe, the agency said it will revamp the criteria that have allowed the products to remain on drugstore shelves for the first time in decades.

"Modern science has advanced since, and this is an opportunity to apply modern science to evaluate these products,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

As the first step in that process, the agency will hold a special hearing Oct. 2 to begin to consider a series of questions, including: What types of studies should be done to evaluate the products? Should the products remain available without a prescription? How should the doses be determined? Should products that combine different ingredients remain available?

One problem that has led to preventable tragedies is that parents sometimes inadvertently overdose their children. A particular problem has been with concentrated Tylenol infant drops. Due to confusing instructions from pediatricians and to labeling that wasn't always clear, some parents have not realized that the infant drops contain much more of the active ingredient, acetaminophen, then regular children's Tylenol. An overdose of Tylenol or acetaminophen can cause liver poisoning which requires liver transplant. After years of complaints, the Tylenol manufacturer took the concentrated infant drops off the market in October 2007.

The FDA's new look promises to go beyond the infant drops issue and look at the appropriate place of cough and cold medicines in treatment of infants and toddlers.

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Posted On: August 16, 2008

Highway Proximity and Infant Health

A recent Canadian study shows that pregnant women who live near highways are more likely to give birth to premature or low-birth-weight infants--but only among wealthy mothers. Pollution from the highways is what causes these effects, researchers say. The reason why these results are not found among poorer mothers is, says lead researcher Dr. Melissa Generoux, because poorer mothers have so many more risk factors that this particular single factor has less of an obvious effect. Wealthier mothers, safe from other risks, are more likely to be noticeably affected by this one factor.

Expecting mothers are bombarded with advice and even lectures on the minutest details of what they consume during pregnancy, and are often overcome with anxiety over these matters. Yet they and their children are still powerfully affected by factors outside their personal control, such as the level of pollution near residential areas.

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Posted On: August 16, 2008

Common Baby Bottle Ingredient Safe, says the FDA

As we have previously discussed, there has been a furor over bisphenol A or BPA, a common ingredient in the plastic used to make baby bottles.


Now scientists from the FDA have issued a new report declaring that the chemical is safe
, after revisiting the issue because the National Toxicology Program said that there was "some concern" about its effects on infants.

The reason why the FDA now considers it safe is because the amount of BPA needed to be dangerous is thousands of times greater than the amount actually contained in any baby bottle.

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Posted On: August 16, 2008

Teen Injuries in Auto Accidents: Sense of Invincibility May Cause Car Crashes

The most recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons has a study on teenagers' attitudes to trauma-related injuries from car crashes, showing that most of them have a "sense of invincibility and focus on fate rather than choice."

These attitudes are dangerous because, while everyone knows about the impact of drugs and alcohol on people's behavior, false beliefs can often be just as harmful as drinking too much. From the article:

researchers say existing injury prevention initiatives often fall short of countering flawed beliefs and must better demonstrate - especially to teens - how and why their young age puts them at greater risk for injury.

"Students need to comprehend that it is lack of judgment, not only lack of skill, that increases the risk of injury to one's self and others. 'Not wanting something bad to happen' is simply not enough," said Najma Ahmed, MD, PhD, FACS, assistant trauma director, St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto. "In addition to giving teens the knowledge and teaching them the technical skills, injury prevention programs must also address teens' attitudes about being immune to illness and death as a means of changing high-risk behaviors, such as driving while impaired."

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