Kids and Pesticides–Things Parents Should Know!

Recently, in an article for Bottom Line’s Daily Health News (May 19, 2011), the work of Dr. David Pimentel, professor emeritus of entomology at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York,[1] was referenced regarding the increasing concern about pesticides in the environment and what concentrations of pesticides over time do to adults and children. There is serious concern about the effects of exposure to pesticides in young children, as children are growing!

While it’s been almost 40 years since the 1972 ban by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the regular use of the pesticide DDT (Its chemical name is 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis-(p-chlorophenyl) ethane.), DDT is still used in other countries to combat insects which carry diseases like yellow fever and malaria. Yet, since 1972, pesticide use in the U.S. has not declined but increased.  In fact, about 70,000 chemicals are in use today in different pesticides and herbicides and some are known carcinogens.

There is new research linking pesticides to diseases and unhealthy conditions other than cancer, such as Parkinson’s Disease, dementia and infertility in men. In “Pesticides and Risk of Parkinson’s Disease”(J. Firestone et al, American Medical Association, 2005), the authors find pesticide exposures are suspected risk factors for Parkinsonism.  In children, however, the problem of pesticides, Dr. Pimentel says, is “amplified” compared with adults, as children actually consume more food in proportion to their body weight than adults, so they receive a proportionally greater amount of food exposed to pesticides or herbicides. A study in children found that the body fluids of “children eating a variety of conventional foods contained markers for organophosphates, a lethal pesticides used to disable the nervous system of pests.”[2] When the same children’s diets were changed “to only organic foods, the chemicals disappeared from their bodies within 36 hours.”[3] While pesticides have been tagged as contributors to the increased incidence of neurodegenerative diseases, they continue to be used and their use continues to be scrutinized by scientists in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as by university laboratory scientists like Dr. Pimentel.

While newer pesticides and herbicides on the market are used in lesser concentrations than DDT was used, some of the newer pesticides and herbicides are more toxic, such as paraquat and rotenone.  So what should parents and caregivers do to protect children from at least some of the effects of pesticides and herbicides found in/on foods?

  • Thoroughly washing and peeling fruits and vegetables helps, but some toxins present while the vegetables and fruits were growing can still be present in the plant.
  • Preparing foods less likely to retain pesticide residue following washing/peeling such as onions, avocados, corn, pineapples, mangoes, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, papaya, watermelon, broccoli, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Some of these have thick skins which are often removed before consumption and which protect the food, while others may be sprayed less as they generally experience less predation by insects.
  • Knowing and avoiding fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides and purchasing more organic fruits and vegetables can help eliminate 80 percent of the pesticide exposure in foods.  Conventional fruits and vegetables which have the greatest exposure to pesticides include:  Celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes, grapes, carrots.

[1]“What You Should Know About Pesticide Dangers”, Bottom Line’s Daily Health News (May 19, 2011) Resource: David Pimentel, PhD, professor, department of entomology, systematics and ecology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

2 Ibid.

3 Op. Cit.

Urgent for Moms of Infants! Warning about SimplyThick product

If you have a product called “SimplyThick” in your kitchen cabinet and you are about to use it or add it to milk or formula for your infant or premature baby–DO NOT!  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about this product as it is believed to have caused a life-threatening intestinal condition, according to the LA Times Health Key reporter, Marissa Cevallos in her article May 23, 2011, called necrotizing enterocolitis in infants, especially premature babies, and, sadly, two babies who received the SimplyThick product have succumbed due to this condition.

The Food and Drug Administration issued the warning May 20, 2011, warning physicians and parents against giving the thickening agent to premature babies. Thomas Maugh, II, of the Los Angeles Times in his article of May 20, 2011, noted that “The product is frequently added to thin foods, such as breast milk or infant formula, to make them easier to ingest for people who have swallowing difficulties.”,0,603801.story

As learns more about this particular warning, we will keep you posted!

FDA Advisory Committees Vote to Recommend Dosing Info Change on Children’s Meds

Two FDA advisory committees, the Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and the Pediatric Advisory Committee–voted this week to recommend that dosing information for children 6 months to 2 years old be added to all over-the-counter children’s medicines containing acetaminophen, a change approved by doctors as well as the drug manufacturers. The meeting focused on liquid children’s medicines, which have never contained dosing information for children under 2 years of age, according to an article by Matthew Perrone, the Associated Press health reporter, in The Boston Globe of May 14, 2011.

The FDA advisory committees held the two-day joint meeting in order to hear testimony from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, McNeil Consumer Healthcare (manufacturer of Children’s Tylenol) and the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics (AAP). This after years of parental and caregiver confusion over which and how much medicine to give young children, often due to confusing dosing language in medicine packaging.

Parents and caregivers will remember reported some children’s “cold” medicines were removed from the marketplace (more than once and for different reasons) during the past two years.  The Consumer Healthcare Products Association now touts single-ingredient pediatric liquid acetaminophen medicines as “safe and effective” and recognized that parents and caregivers need information to dose the medicines appropriately “to make them most helpful for children.”

In his statement to the joint meeting, as reported by Caitlin Hagan of CNN,  Dr. Daniel A.C. Frattarelli, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Drugs, said the AAP supports using weight-based dosing for children “because it is a better method” to determine the amount of medicine a child should receive. “Caregivers who understand that dosing should be based on weight rather than age are much less likely to give an incorrect dose.”

One recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in November 2010, in response to unintentional drug overdoses of children by parents and caregivers administering over-the-counter children’s medicines found that there was a prevalence of inconsistent dosing directions and measuring devices among popular pediatric medicines. [Evaluation of Consistency in Dosing Directions and Measuring Devices for Pediatric Nonprescription Liquid Medications; H. Shonna Yin, Michael S. Wolf, Bernard P. Dreyer, Lee M. Sanders and Ruth M. Parker (JAMA. 2010;304(23):2595-2602. Published online November 30, 2010. doi: 10.1001/jama. 2010.1797.]

The FDA advisory committees also noted that parents have given their children the incorrect dose of medicine much of the time because the dosing instructions are confusing. While the committee members did not make any final recommendations, they discussed ways to improve the labels, including standardizing measuring units (millileters as opposed to “teaspoons”) for all children’s medicines and offering dosing instructions with illustrations. applauds any move to reduce parental and caregiver confusion in this area whether it is regulation of the allowable amounts of certain medicines to be given to children, less confusing dosing language in packaging and/or pre-measurement of dosages that would make dispensing children’s medicines more accurate, effective and helpful to children.  We simply wish these ground-breaking recommendations could have come sooner–for kids’, parents’ and caregivers’ sakes.

CPSC Repeats a Warning on the Maclaren Stroller!

On May 12, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued another warning about the previously recalled Maclaren stroller. The umbrella stroller was manufactured in China for Maclaren USA of South Norwalk, Connecticut, and more than one million strollers had been recalled in November 2009.

This “reannnouncement” of the recall is primarily due to the fact that the CPSC has received a total of 149 reported incidents with the strollers.  The incidents included 37 reported injuries that occurred after the stroller was originally recalled in November 2009. The injuries included five additional fingertip amputations, 16 additional lacerations and 16 additional fingertip entrapments/bruising due to the lack of hinge covers. When the stroller was originally recalled, there had been 15 incidents, including 12 reports of fingertip amputations in the United States.

While it is not unheard of, it is unusual that the CPSC will repeat a warning when a product has already been recalled for several years. The specific hazard to a young child is that the stroller’s hinge mechanism poses a fingertip amputation and laceration hazard to the child when the consumer is unfolding/opening the stroller.

The popular stroller had been sold at retail stores nationwide from 1999 through November 2009, for from $100 to $360.  The recall reannouncement involves all Maclaren single and double umbrella strollers sold prior to November 2009. The manufacturer’s name “Maclaren” is printed on the stroller. Maclaren strollers sold after May 2010 have a different hinge design and are not included in this announcement.

Consumers may contact Maclaren to receive a free hinge-cover repair kit at or call the company for more information at (877) 688-2326 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. A photo of the stroller may be viewed by going to the CPSC website at:

What Should I Do If My Child Goes Missing?

This is a question that parents ask in 2011 as the enigma of Missing Kids in America is pervasive. We read about it, we see it on TV and on the Internet. Parents, caregivers, and family members need to know that 800,000 children younger than 18 go missing each year; almost 2,000 children are reported missing every day.  It’s a stunning fact that, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), 200,000 children have been abducted by family members. 58,000 children have been abducted by non-family members and 115 children have been the victims of kidnapping by someone the child either does not know or knows only slightly.

It’s my guess that every parent or guardian has, at some point in their parenthood, not known where a child we are responsible for has gone for a few seconds, up to a minute or longer.  The panic that spreads over a parent when a child goes missing can be a terrible experience. Thinking clearly when a child disappears, even for a short time, is difficult.  To minimize a fraction of the panic, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provides this list of tips,[1] things that a parent can do in advance to prepare in case a child would go missing:

  • Keep a complete description of your child on hand.
  • Take color photographs of your child every six months.
  • Have your dentist prepare and maintain dental charts for your child, and be sure they are updated each time an examination or dental work is performed.
  • Know where your child’s medical records are located. Keep copies.
  • Arrange with your local law-enforcement agency or school to have your child fingerprinted and keep the fingerprints in a safe, easily accessible place.
  • Keep a DNA sample from your child, like an old toothbrush or a lock of their hair in a brown envelope licked closed by your child stored at room temperature in a dry, easily accessible place that is far away from heat.

What should you do if your child does go missing?

  • Don’t wait! Act immediately.
  • Search your home and check with relatives, neighbors, and friends to try and locate your child.
  • If you cannot find your child, immediately report your child missing to your local law-enforcement officers.
  • Limit access to your home until law-enforcement officers arrive and are able to collect information and evidence.
  • Give law-enforcement officers all the information they request about your child, and be sure to give them any information that could help in the search.
  • Request that your child’s name and identifying information be immediately entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person File.
  • You may also call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678) to find out what resources are available to you.

We never want to think this can happen to us or to any parents. We always want to be good parents and caregivers, not to be over-cautious, but caring and careful and we want to do everything we can so that our children are safe, healthy and happy.  Yes, it takes work, but, generally speaking, it’s worth it when we know we’ve done our best to keep them safe.

[1] National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, c. 2011,

Grilling Safely With Kids!

And you thought safe grilling ended with not using a deep fat fryer for the turkey on Thanksgiving, right?  Well, it seems there’s a bit more to it.  The weather is beginning to warm up all over the U.S. and the trend is beginning to be toward grilling food outside on the weekends–maybe even during the week if you’re like our family. Grilling is a wonderful way to prepare food for the family and it’s fun… usually.

It’s not fun when it’s not a safe experience, and SafeKids has just circulated a list of tips that we can’t improve on, so we’d like to share them with you as a gift for Mother’s Day–I don’t think SafeKids will mind as long as we give them the credit for these great tips, help them spread the word about Grilling Safely. And, if you incorporate these great ideas into your grilling regimen, we will all feel better about grilling for the family in general, so here they are:

Top Grill Safety Tips

  • Grills should only be used outdoors and at least 10 feet away from a house or any building.
  • Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.
  • The grill should be placed well away from deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Children and pets should stay away from the grill area.
  • Grills should be kept clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grill itself and in the trays below the grill.
  • Never leave a grill unattended. Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from the grill.

Charcoal grills

  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the lit fire.
  • Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
  • Since charcoal produces CO (carbon monoxide) fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.
  • Store charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

Gas Grill

  • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when operating a gas grill
  • If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don’t attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.”

We hope you agree that these tips are great. We do. And there’s one more that goes with every activity with kids: Whatever you are doing, watch your children; they grow up quickly. Make sure they grow up safely!

Recalls, Recalls! Lead Paint on Chinese Toys, Oh My!

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a warning today for parents who may have purchased a toy for their children last September 2010 called the “Toy Story 3 Bowling Game.”  The reason for the recall is the red paint used on some of the bowling pins was measured to contain more than the allowable 90 parts per million (90 ppm) of lead.  Only about 600 of the toys were placed on sale–the toy was manufactured in and imported from Chinaand by G.A. Gertmenian & Sons and sold at Walmart Stores in the U.S. between September 1 and 25, 2010, for approximately $18.

This recall affects Toy Story 3 Bowling Game Rugs with a batch marking of “JA 148″ on the bottom front of the packaging above the bar code and on the tag attached to the rug. The toy contains six white plastic bowling pins with two red stripes painted on the necks, a single black plastic ball, and a 68″ x 26” nylon game rug with a print of the character Buzz Lightyear on the front.

Consumers should stop using the Toy Story 3 Bowling Game toy immediately and contact the manufacturer for a free replacement set.  The number to call Gertmenian & Sons is 1-888-224-4181 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. PT.

CPSC Recalls 445,000+ Bunk Beds Imported from VietNam by Dorel Asia

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled bunk beds imported and distributed to stores in the U.S. by Dorel Asia due to fall and safety hazards.

Approximately 445,000 wooden bunk beds which were manufactured in and imported from VietNam by Dorel Asia, SRL of Barbados, were recalled in the U.S. and 21,700 from Canada.  The bunk beds were sold from September 2004 through September 2009 at Target, Walmart and K-Mart stores and online at and  for approximately $190.00.

The reason for the recall is that CPSC and Dorel Asia received 23 reports of the side rails cracking, splitting or breaking, including seven reports of minor bruises or abrasions to children.

The following models, colors and manufacturing date ranges are included in this recall to repair:

Model Number | Color | Manufacture Date Range
TG2070 (242/07/1472) | Espresso | 07-2008 to 12-2008
TG2070-1CE (249/13/0024) | Espresso | 08-2008 to 12-2008
TG2070W (242/07/1468) | White | 06-2008 to 11-2008
WM1848 | Pine | 08-2006 to 07-2007
WM1848R | Pine | 07-2007 to 12-2007
WM1848R2 | Pine | 01-2008 to 02-2009
WM1848R2DC | Pine | 07-2008 to 03-2009
DA1026W | White | 07-2004 to 01-2008
DA1026RW | White | 03-2008 to 03-2009
DA1026P | Pine | 08-2004 to 01-2008
DA1026RP | Pine | 03-2008 to 03-2009

Consumers should stop using the bunk beds, take them down and use them as separate twin beds and call the company for a repair kit.  Consumers may contact Dorel Asia at (800) 295-1980 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at hopes all our readers enjoy a safe and happy Mother’s Day!

Voluntary Recall of Fixed-Sided Cribs by ducduc, LLC

Approximately 330 fixed-sided cribs have been recalled by the U.S. manufacturer ducduc, LLC of New York, New York.

The bottom rails on the crib’s sides can separate from the sides when the mattress is in the lowest position, causing the spindles to separate and the mattress to drop.  This poses fall and entrapment hazards to infants and young children.

This particular recall includes cribs manufactured and sold from 2009 to 2011 with the model names: AJ, Austin, Cabana, Campaign, and Parker.  The cribs were sold in ducduc, LLC’s New York showroom, online at, at specialty stores and by interior designers throughout the United States for approximately $1,500 to $1,800.

Consumers are requested to stop using the cribs immediately and contact the company, ducduc, to obtain a free repair kit, by calling (212)225-1868 (between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET) or visiting the company’s website, www.ducducnyc.comThe free repair kit includes new crib sides.

Photos of the crib can be viewed at

World Asthma Day 2011 and Children

Today is World Asthma Day! If you are wondering why this might be important to you and your children, please read this post.  Did you know that 22 million people in the United States are believed to have asthma?

Six million of those 22 million are children. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, tells us: “Young children who often wheeze and have respiratory infections–as well as certain other risk factors–are at highest risk of developing asthma that continues beyond 6 years of age. The other risk factors include having allergies, eczema (an allergic skin condition), or parents who have asthma…. Among children, more boys have asthma than girls. Most, but not all, people who have asthma have allergies.”[1]

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that enflames and narrows the airways–and makes those who suffer from it cough, feel short of breath and experience tightness in their chest.  They may wheeze and even feel as though they need to gasp for air.  Frequently, asthma begins in childhood, and the coughing that is characteristic of asthma may be experienced at night when a child is lying down or often early in the morning on rising.

What happens in asthma is the airways that carry air to and from the lungs become inflamed and swell as they react to substances–such as pollen or pet dander or even exposure to certain chemicals in the air–which can be inhaled. When swollen and sensitive airways react, the muscles that surround them become tighter narrowing the airways and allowing little air to and from the lungs. The mucosal lining of the lungs reacts and may manufacture more mucus making it still more difficult to breathe.

The symptoms of asthma can manifest themselves each time an airway is inflamed–so it’s very good to know if your child has asthma and what triggers an asthma attack.  Sometimes the asthma symptoms described above may go away by themselves if a triggering substance or thing (is removed) or they can be made better by the use of an asthma medicine.

Asthma attacks are serious and can be life threatening in both adults and children, and they are nothing to be taken lightly.  If you suspect your child may have asthma, an upper-respiratory infection or an allergy that produces asthma-like symptoms, please check with your child’s pediatrician.  Your primary care doctor can diagnose asthma based on your child’s medical and family histories, a physical exam, and test results.

Children who have asthma frequently develop symptoms before they reach age 5. And asthma in young children (aged 0 to 5 years) can be difficult to diagnose. It can be difficult to differentiate between asthma or another childhood condition because the symptoms of asthma can occur with other conditions.  A young child who has frequent wheezing with colds or respiratory infections is more likely to have asthma if:

  • One or both parents have asthma;
  • The child has signs of allergies, including the allergic skin condition eczema;
  • The child has allergic reactions to pollens or other airborne allergens;
  • The child wheezes even when he or she doesn’t have a cold or other infection.

While asthma cannot be completely cured, most often it can be controlled, but parents need to take a pro-active role in managing a child’s asthma.  There are medicines and treatment therapies which do help.

[1] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.

9,000 Disney Princess Plastic Trikes

9,000 Disney Princess Plastic Trikes have been recalled in the U.S. and 700 recalled in Canada by Kiddieland Toys, Ltd. and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Yes, they were manufactured in China (When did Disney give their name to products manufactured in China and where were we?)  The manufacturer is listed in the recall notice as: Kiddieland Toys Limited, of Scituate, Massachusetts, but the toys were imported from China.

The major hazard to a child who plays with these toys is the plastic castle display and the princess figures protruding from the top of the handle bar pose a laceration hazard if a child falls on the handle bar.

CPSC and Kiddieland received three reports thus far of children suffering facial lacerations.  The Disney Princess Trikes were sold at Target, JC Penney, Meijer and H.E.B. stores nationwide and on the web at from January 2009 through April 2011 for approximately $50.

The trikes are pink and fuchsia with a purple seat and wheels. On top of the handlebar is a rotating castle display surrounded by three princess figures. “Disney Princess” is printed on the label just below the handlebar.  A photo of the Disney Princess Trikes which are being recalled can be viewed at:

Consumers should immediately take the trikes away from children and contact Kiddieland for a free replacement handlebar with an enclosed rotating display by calling 1(800) 430-5307 anytime, or visiting the firm’s website is always fascinated by the fact that some basically unsafe toys slip under the wire of consumer protection and get on the market in the first place!  Whoever thought this one up should have taken a spin on the trike themselves first!