Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Unintentional Poisoning Deaths among Teens and Young Adults

According to the CDC, death from unintentional drug poisonings have increased substantially in recent years and that the population most impacted was teenagers and young adults who were abusing both prescription and illegal drugs.

According to the study published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, poisoning rates in the United States increased 62.5% in the five years between 1999 and 2004. The largest increases occurred among whites, females, people in the South, and those between 15 – 24 years old. This age group was also consistent with the substantial increases in recreational prescription drugs and cocaine use among adolescents and young adults.

Also of concern is that most of these deaths resulted from overdose from prescription drugs such as oxycodone and sedatives as well as cocaine. There was not an increase from methamphetamines, heroin or other illegal drugs. The concern is that many teens and young adults have access to these drugs, often from as close as their parents’ or friends parents’ medicine cabinets.

Parents should take caution in where they store prescription drugs in their home and restrict who has access to them. The CDC has also recommended that physicians, state agencies, prescription drug providers, health care providers and state and federal prevention programs evaluate their practices and increase measures to reduce the unsafe use of drugs.
Source: Centers for Disease Control 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Foster Parenting

Eddie Murphy, Duane Culpepper, Superman, Marilyn Monroe, Alonzo Mourning, Cher, Ice T, John Lennon, James Dean, and Babe Ruth: What do all these people have in common? They were foster kids!

Foster parenting is a job that gets little attention and is in great demand. It involves taking a child into your home—a child who has been abused, neglected, or abandoned, or whose primary caregivers are unable to meet their parenting duties—and caring for them as if they are one of your own. It's parenting with challenges potentially far exceeding the norm. However, the rewards can be extraordinary as well. Imagine Superman calling on Mother's or Father's Day.

In the 2004-2005 school year, it is estimated that there will be another 78,000 children placed into the foster care system. That's in addition to the 550,000 children already in foster care. The largest portion of children in foster care is from ages 11-15. This is not an easy age when they are your own children!

How do you know if foster parenting is for you? Do you have a strong support system or family? Are you a patient, committed person? What are your expectations of children and foster parenting? How good are you at saying goodbye? How does your family feel about doing foster care? After all, foster parenting isn't just about parents. It's a job that impacts the entire family. Do you have a lot of love to give?

If you can answer why you want to be a foster parent and want determine if foster parenting is right for you, the next step is to contact your state foster care representative.

Source: Suzanna Smith for Family Album Radio, Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Quality Childcare Now, More Involvement with School and Teachers Later

Most employed parents of young children would agree that it can sometimes be difficult to put their sons and daughters in the care of others during the workday. Feeling confident about the quality of these daycare arrangements can make all the difference to parents’ peace of mind.

Of course, good-quality childcare has other benefits, too. In fact, new research in the journal Child Development suggests that good childcare may also increase mothers’ involvement with children’s schools further down the road.

About 1500 children and their mothers were tracked from birth to age 5. Over the years, researchers visited the children’s childcare settings to rate their quality. Then, once the children began kindergarten, teachers and mothers themselves rated how involved and active mothers were with the child’s schooling.

Mothers of children who had attended high-quality daycare in the first 5 years of life were significantly more involved with their kindergarten child’s school experience. What made the difference? When children’s early caregivers were sensitive and responsive and provided stimulating learning activities, parents provided more enriching home environments and children developed stronger academic skills. The pay-off was stronger school-to-parent ties once the child was in elementary school. Importantly, this was true regardless of the family’s income or the mother’s level of education.

These findings provide yet more evidence of the importance of children’s early learning environments. In this case, ensuring that all children have access to quality childcare arrangements can strengthen ties between schools and parents and support children’s development during the elementary years.

Source: Family Album Radio, Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why Fragile Families Don’t Marry

“He can’t support us. Why should I marry him?”

This mom is not alone in her resistance to matrimony. In fact, increasing evidence has many of the opponents of the Healthy Marriage Initiative on the offensive. While the reauthorization of the welfare reform bill will allocate substantial funds to states for the development of programs for improving relations between unmarried parents, those who challenge the bill argue that marriage is not the answer.

Critics of the marriage promotion programs point to barriers to marriage among what are called “fragile families,” unmarried parents who are raising a child or children together, who share a precarious economic status. The most commonly discussed barriers to marriage among this population are lack of stable employment, mental health problems, and domestic violence.
 Researchers from Princeton’s Center for Research on Child Wellbeing and Columbia University point out that nearly one-fifth of the unmarried parents among this group are not romantically involved and are thus not likely to get involved in a marriage program. Thirteen percent of these parents have a history of violence, indicating that marriage may not be a safe choice for the women and children in the family. Collectively, one-third of these unmarried couples are not good candidates for marriage promotion programs
On the other side of the debate, the same research suggests that an equal one-third of couples may benefit from marriage programs. This would occur only if they incorporate programs that address parents’ employment and mental health heeds. Now it’s in the hands of the policy makers to develop and fund appropriate programming for America’s fragile families

Source: Suzanna Smith for Family Album Radio, Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Adolescent Self-Injury

Self-injury typically refers to a variety of behaviors in which an individual intentionally inflicts harm to his or her body for purposes not socially recognized or sanctioned and without suicidal intent. Self-injury can include a variety of behaviors but is most commonly associated with  intentional cutting, carving, or puncturing of the skin; scratching; burning; ripping or pulling skin or hair; self-bruising (through punching objects with the intention of hurting oneself or punching oneself directly).

Many adolescents who self-injure do so in secrecy and this secrecy is often the clearest red flag that something is wrong. Although it is normal for adolescents to pull away from parents during times of high involvement with friends or stress, it is not normal for adolescents to be withdrawn, physically and emotionally, for long periods of time. It is also important to note that not all people who self-injure become distant and withdrawn—youth who put on a happy face, even when they do not feel happy, may also be at risk for self-injury or other negative coping behaviors.

Some other signs include cut or burn marks on arms, legs, abdomen; discovery of hidden razors, knives, other sharp objects and rubber bands (which may be used to increase blood flow or numb the area); spending long periods of time alone, particularly in the bathroom or bedroom; wearing clothing inappropriate for the weather, such as long sleeves or pants in hot weather.

Address the issue as soon as possible. Don’t presume that your child will simply “outgrow” the behavior and that it will go away on its own. (Though keep in mind this can and does happen for some young people–some do mention “outgrowing” their self-injury. This typically occurs because they learn more adaptive ways of coping).

Try to use your concern in a constructive way, by helping your child realize the impact of his/her self-injury on themselves and others. It is most important to validate your child’s feelings. Remember that this is different from validating the behavior. Parents must first make eye contact and be respectful listeners before offering their opinion. Speak in calm and comforting tones. Offer reassurance. Consider what was helpful to you as an adolescent when experiencing emotional distress.  If your child does not want to talk, do not pressure him/her. Self-injury is a very emotional subject and the behavior itself is often an indication that your child has difficulty verbalizing his/her emotions.

For more information visit the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behavior in Adolescents and Young Adults at http://www.crpsib.com/userfiles/factsheet_aboutsi%284%29.pdf

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Deal with Picky Eaters

“No dessert unless you eat your vegetables!” “You’ve got to join the Clean Plate Club!”

These were motivations to eat that many baby boomers heard as they were growing up. Families across America were learning how to eat by the rules. But, according to current research, those rules may have done more harm than good.

These days, developmental psychologists and nutritionists are teaching a new approach, one based on research. For example, research has shown that offering children dessert as a reward for eating their vegetables teaches them that vegetables are less desirable than dessert and makes them less likely to want to eat their string beans or broccoli.

Some old habits, like eating everything on the plate and getting dessert only when the plate is clean, have contributed to eating disorders and obesity in many baby boomers. So what are the options when teaching kids, especially those picky eaters, how to eat properly? University of Florida faculty offer several suggestions.

First, establish a comfortable meal environment without television or other distractions.

Next, be aware of child-size portions. As a general rule, serve one tablespoon of each food per year of life. Let children ask for more if they are still hungry. If you are having dessert, include a small serving on the plate along with the meal, and let your child decide when to eat it.

Third, respect food preferences. Allow your child to politely decline food he doesn’t like.

Always have something at each meal that your child enjoys.

Finally, allow children to stop eating when they are full, and leave the Clean Plate Club in the past as an old relic.

Source: Suzanna Smith for Family Album Radio, Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Homeless Children Need Preschool

During the recent recession, news reports included some sobering video footage from an area surrounding what’s sometimes called the happiest place on earth, Disney World. Unfortunately, climbing unemployment and home foreclosures in the region had left many middle- and working-class families suddenly homeless. Their new, temporary dwelling places were hotel rooms, the couches of friends and family members, homeless shelters, or the family car.

In fact, nationwide, family homelessness increased by 20 percent from 2007 to 2010, according to the research group Child Trends. More than 1.6 million children are homeless, with 40 percent of them under the age of six.

Although not all homeless children will be impacted in the same way, many pay a high price for their families’ instability, developing developmental delays and health and behavior problems that interfere with learning. For example, homeless children are more likely than children in stable housing to have problems with language, motor development, and social learning. They score lower on achievement tests, tend to perform below grade level, and may struggle to control their behavior in the classroom.

Fortunately, preschool programs and high quality child care can help get children off to a good start by supporting healthy, positive development. These experts suggest making homeless children a priority by providing transportation to early education programs, changing policies that prevent children from enrolling (such as requiring a permanent address), and coordinating the services families need, from food to health care.

Source: Suzanna Smith for Family Album Radio, Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Swaddling Your Baby

The ancient infant care practice of swaddling has caught on around the United States. Swaddling seems to have a soothing effect on crying babies—and, as a result, on their parents, too.

Swaddling is a method of wrapping a newborn baby in a cotton sheet or light blanket as is often done by the nurse immediately after a baby is born, restricting the baby's movement. Common wisdom suggests that swaddling gives babies a feeling of security and warmth as they adjust to life outside the womb.

Recent medical research suggests that swaddling has some benefits for infant sleep. In a study of 26 healthy babies, researchers found that swaddling helped decrease arousals during sleep, perhaps enabling babies to go back to sleep on their own. Another study of 16 infants found that swaddling promoted more sustained sleep and fewer awakenings.

A word of caution, however. If not done properly, swaddling can be risky. A nurse or midwife can help a new mom or dad learn how to do it properly. Swaddling needs to be done safely so the baby is not too warm or circulation is cut off. The baby's face must not be covered, and, of course, the baby needs to be moved, held, and cared for in other loving ways. So if your baby cries a lot or has trouble sleeping, you may want to talk to your baby's health care provider about the best way to swaddle your infant

Source: Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Aging in Place Is a New Life Stage

Many families today face tough decisions about how to assist elderly relatives when they need some extra help with daily living. Unsurprisingly, many such adults want to remain in their own homes where they feel most comfortable.

Fortunately, more and more older adults can “age in place,” continuing to live in their homes “safely, independently, and comfortably”. However, when the older person is frail or disabled, professional care providers may become necessary. This transition to receiving care can be an “upheaval” in the older person’s life. In fact, researchers writing in the journal Aging and Society suggest that aging in place with professional care is actually a “new life stage” that merits careful consideration.

Beginning to receive care at home is a three-step process. First is separation from independent living, when the older person is assessed to determine if they are eligible for in-home care. The second step is a threshold, where modifications are made to the home and the older person begins to adapt to using a care provider. Personal relationships may suffer during this time due to health and mobility restrictions.

Ideally, the third step is re-connective home care, where the care worker forms a personal, caring relationship that includes the elderly in care decisions, and empowers the elder to manage their home and personal life as much as. Paying close attention to and valuing this crucial relationship between older adult and the caregiver are crucial to supporting continued independence at home.

Source: Carol Church, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL