The Critical Ingredient to the Success of Vaccination Programs

By William B. Miller, Jr, M.D.

Only a few weeks into a new administration and with it comes unwelcome medical news. The age-old debate about the safety and appropriateness of vaccination has been renewed and a vocal stage has been delivered to a small group of anti-vaccination zealots.

Reports have circulated that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, a highly visible critic of vaccination, has been invited to chair a commission on vaccination safety by the new administration. If it comes to pass, one result can be accurately predicted. It will become a confused platform of ideological rhetoric that will diminish trust in those scientific bodies charged with making sound judgments for the public welfare. This inevitable outcome is particularly unfortunate since there has never been any advance in medical history that has had a more positive impact on our lives than vaccination.          

Humanity has been in eternal conflict with infectious disease throughout history. Perhaps no disease better illustrates the vast range of impacts of epidemic disease than smallpox, which resulted in the deaths of more than 7 million people. Similar horrific mortality was experienced with smallpox. In 18th Century Europe, at least 400,000 people died annually from smallpox. One-third of the survivors went blind. Mortality rates were as high as 60% in some communities. Infant mortality was even more frightening, approaching 80%.      

The ultimate success of smallpox vaccination is credited to Sir Edward Jenner in England. In 1796, he successfully introduced the technique of cowpox vaccination demonstrating its subsequent protective effect against smallpox. Today, due to the effectiveness of worldwide smallpox vaccination programs, that disease has been effectively eradicated from the planet. [Read more…]

Parents, Teenagers And The Dangers of Online Dating

Gabriella van Rij

When most of today’s parents were teenagers, they developed their romantic crushes on the person they sat next to in algebra class, bumped into in front of their school lockers, or spotted at the next table in the cafeteria.

But these days, teens in search of a date for Saturday night can find romance online, which brings both convenience and risk.

“More than ever, teenagers need a crash course in online safety and social media issues that they encounter on a daily basis,” says Gabriella van Rij (, a kindness activist, anti-bullying proponent and author whose latest book is Watch Your Delivery.

February is an opportune time for parents to broach the subject because it’s National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. But van Rij says any time is the right time.

“It’s a subject you should have ongoing conversations about,” she says.

Online dating is extremely popular among adults, but teenagers haven’t been left out as technology continues to shape the way people meet and interact. A Pew Research Center study found that 8 percent of all teenagers say they met a romantic partner online. Most teens, though, reported they hadn’t dated anyone at all. When Pew narrowed its findings just to teens who have dated, the percentage who met their dating partner online jumped to nearly 25 percent. [Read more…]

6 Child-Friendly Ways to Prevent Colds and Flu 

MaureenSBy Maureen Sangiorgio

When you’re a parent, you worry about your children . . . a lot . . . forever. Are they happy? Are they healthy? Are they safe? Am I doing all I can to keep them happy, healthy, and safe?

Most parents are no strangers to dealing with their children’s illnesses. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your child probably will have more colds, or upper respiratory infections, than any other illness. Up until age two, most kids have about ten colds! And if your child is in day care, or if there are other kids in your house, she may have even more, since colds spread easily among children who are in close contact with one another.

Influenza (“the flu”) is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Kids often need medical care because of the flu, especially if they are younger than five years old. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year about 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of influenza complications.

Follow this six-step program to boost your child’s immunity and to help prevent colds and flu in your family. [Read more…]

Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Summer Heat

Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Summer Heat

By now, we all know how to keep ourselves safe and cool during the warm summer season. But we can’t forget about Fido! Each summer, hundreds of dogs are harmed as a result of being left in hot cars or left outside without the proper water and protection. As such, I wanted to draw your attention to the topic of “Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Summer Heat.”

Hot weather can bring on dangers that significantly affect your pet, including dehydration, heat stroke, sunburn and even death. With a few preventative measures, you can easily help your pup avoid the negative effects of the sun. Below are tips to follow from experts at Camp Bow Wow, North America’s largest and fastest growing pet care franchise.

Pets Need Sunscreen

Cats and dogs can get sunburned too, especially if he/she has light-colored hair. Animal sunburns can cause the same problems as that of humans: peeling, redness and even cancer. As skin cancer in pets is a serious concern, purchasing pet-friendly sunscreen can go a long way in protecting the health of your pet when the heat kicks in. Places that are easy to forget, but prone to burning are: inside the nostrils, tip of nose, around your dog’s lips and the inside of ears for dogs with standup ears. 

Summer Style

Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating. Shave down to a one-inch length, but never to the skin, so your pet still has some protection from the sun. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.  [Read more…]

Fish is Not Off Limits During Pregnancy

By Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN

Eating fish during pregnancy is not off limits. In fact, avoiding fish during this critical time of growth and development may lead to a lack of essential nutrients that can impact growth and development of your baby. For years the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided recommendations on the amount of fish pregnant women needed to limit themselves to per week. However, providing a cap on dietary fish intake without setting a minimum recommendation made many women hesitant to consume fish during pregnancy and made many health care providers hesitant to recommend it. But with the release of a draft update from the FDA and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this may change.

Research has found that eating fish with lower levels of mercury, such as cod, pollock, salmon, and shrimp, provides many dietary and health benefits during pregnancy, as well as to young children. The new draft recommends consuming at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces of fish that are lower in mercury per week during pregnancy to help support fetal growth and development. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are still cautioned to avoid fish that contain a high mercury levels such as shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. The new draft also recommends limiting white (albacore) tuna to six ounces per week.

This draft is an exciting development in nutrition recommendations for during pregnancy. Setting clear cut guidelines on the appropriate amount of fish, and the best types, to consume allows moms-to-be breathe a sigh of relief when planning their meals. Fish low in mercury is an excellent source of lean protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids, both essential nutrients for a growing baby. During pregnancy, if you’re looking for delicious and easy ways to work seafood into your meal plan, discover some of these recipes from Matlaw’s.

With Elderberry’s Promise in Improving Bone Density, Diabetics Have One Less Risk to Worry About

By Carl Thompson

There are some 29 million people with diabetes in the U.S. Managing the disease is a perpetual balancing act that often includes eating right, monitoring blood sugar levels, and learning how to inject — or ingest — just the right amount of insulin. Diabetes can also cause a number of long-term health complications, including blindness and amputations. But there’s another, lesser-known risk to consider as well:osteoporosis. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at risk for decreased bone density, which, in some cases, can lead to osteoporosis. But now studies show that doses of concentrated elderberry extract may offer relief.

Dark, nearly black European elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are rich in pigments, or anthocyanins, that also act as antioxidants.  A recent study found that these substances were able to prevent a loss of bone density in rats — who experience a similar loss of bone density due to diabetes as humans do. But when the study’s animal subjects were given doses of concentrated elderberry extract, they showed promising improvements in bone density.

The connection between bone density and diabetes involves the cells that create new bone as part of the normal process of bone regeneration. As a result of the diabetic’s malfunctioning insulin production system, the insulin receptors contained in these cells receive the wrong signals, and bone regeneration is affected. Within five to seven years after the onset of diabetes, the bones may lose some of their density. They lose minerals, becoming weaker and more porous. The condition can degenerate into full-blown osteoporosis, with its increased risk of fractures.              [Read more…]

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween

Pittsburgh Halloween, Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is creeping up fast and many consumers may not realize how frightening this scary night could be for their personal safety, their property or their bank accounts. Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents can help families and businesses better prepare for Halloween hazards that may approach in disguise or under the cloak of dark.

To help individuals, families and businesses enjoy the spooky holiday and protect themselves against scary Halloween risks, Trusted Choice®, the consumer branding program for independent insurance agents and brokers, offers the following safety tips: [Read more…]

6 Ways to Avoid Overeating Candy on Halloween

Halloween is a few days away. Candy-filled jars, desks, and if you have kids…well, your kid’s personal goodie bag may become yours!

Dr. Susan Albers, food psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and author of 50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food (available in Dec.), says many of her clients inquire about how to cope with bags full of candy hanging around their offices and homes.

Yes, it’s hard to eat those little snack-size bites of candy mindfully! The good news is that it is possible – tips are below:

1. Switch it up:
You often are thinking about the next piece of candy before finishing the one you have. To slow down and enjoy each piece of candy as you are eating it, eat with your non-dominate hand (if you are left handed, eat with your right). This will help prevent you from mindlessly popping candy into your mouth. Research indicates that this simple swap can cut down on how much you eat by approximately 30 percent.
[Read more…]

Raking Leaves without Hurting Your Back

dr-kaixuan-liu-md-phdBy Dr. Kaixuan Liu

For many the fall is a welcomed season, a break away from the scorching heat and humidity of the summer. It is a beautiful time of year as changing leaves color trees in rainbows of yellow, orange, and red. But as nature takes its course, the leaves soon fall making mountains of dry leaves to be raked away. Raking those leaves – a strenuous job you either love or hate – doesn’t have to lead to back injuries, according to Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD, founder and president of Atlantic Spine Center.

About 38,000 Americans suffered injuries related to leaf-raking – including back injuries – in 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. But this staggering number makes some sense when you consider the body movements involved with the chore, Dr. Liu says.

“Some call raking leaves fall’s most taxing task,” says Dr. Liu, who is fellowship-trained in minimally invasive spine surgery. “It requires a variety of different movements, such as twisting, bending, lifting and reaching, which use several key muscle groups in the back, shoulders and wrists. With careful thought and measured movement, you can prevent injuries that might last longer than an afternoon raking the yard. “
[Read more…]