Category Archives: Uncategorized

Build-A-Bear Workshop Recalls Lapel Pins Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, in cooperation with Build-A-Bear Workshop, recently announced a voluntary recall of “Love.Hugs.Peace lapel pins.”

The surface paints on the lapel pin contain excessive levels of lead, which is prohibited under federal law.

The 1.5 inch lapel pin features graphics of a heart, bear head, and peach sign all positioned in front of a globe. The words “Love.Hugs.Peace.” appear at the bottom of the pin.

Stop using the lapel pins and return the lapel pin to any Build-A-Bear workshop store to receive a $5 store coupon. If it is not possible to return the pin to a store, you can contact the company for alternate instructions on receiving a refund.

For additional information, call Build-A-Bear Workshop at 866-236-5683 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. CT Saturday, or visit the company’s website, www.buildabear.com.

Measles Are Back Again!!!

Recently, various medical publications have been discussing the fact that outbreaks of measles are occurring in some states in the U.S. and in other countries, especially, presently, in France.  Measles–for parents and caregivers who may never have seen or have had the disease–is an infectious disease, communicable through respiratory droplets (sneezing, coughing, spitting, etc.) or by touching a person who is infected with measles (or an object a person infected with measles may have touched).

Measles is not solely a childhood disease–adults get measles too!  What does measles look like?  For people who have never seen the measles, it’s not pretty!  Measles is accompanied by a red rash that may first appear on the face and/or tummy and may spread all over the body. The rash may itch and bring with it a high fever. Here’s what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says about measles http://pediatrics.about.com/od/measles/a/avoiding-measles.htm :

“Measles is an acute, highly communicable viral disease with prodromal fever [in this case, a fever that appears before the rash appears], conjunctivitis [inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye], coryza [inflamed mucous membrane of the nose], cough, and Koplik spots on the buccal mucosa [small white spots in lining of the mouth characteristic of early measles]. A characteristic red blotchy rash appears around the third day of illness, beginning on the face and becoming generalized. Measles can be accompanied by a middle ear infection or diarrhea.” Measles can be severe, and occur with bronchopneumonia or brain inflammation (encephalitis) leading to coma and death in approximately 2 of every 1,000 cases or in 0.2 percent of the population.

But there is some good news and that is Measles is preventable. It can be prevented by vaccinating children with the Measles/Mumps/Rubella disease vaccine, known as MMR.    Children are usually vaccinated with the MMR vaccine when they are 12 to 15 months old (first dose) and again at 4 to 6 years old (booster dose).  Prior to 1989, booster doses of MMR were not given, so there are individuals in the population who may be at least 20 years old and who have never received a booster dose of MMR.

Who can be considered at risk for measles?

  • infants before they get their first MMR vaccination;
  • toddlers and preschoolers who are only partially immune following their first MMR vaccination and until they receive a booster MMR shot;
  • immuno-compromised children, even if they previously received the MMR vaccine, including children receiving cancer chemotherapy; and
  • people who are incompletely vaccinated (never received the booster dose), or have never been vaccinated with MMR, or who have never been exposed to the disease and who have never had the disease.

Some measles cases–up to 20%– require hospitalization.  In many cases, parents take children to a doctor or the Emergency Room (ER) due to the high fever–this also may expose other people and children to the disease. The best thing to do is to call your doctor or hospital first and ask advice if you suspect your child has the measles. Here are a few tips to help reduce your family’s risk:

  • Check your child’s vaccination record to make sure they received their first and second doses of MMR;
  • Check your own vaccination records to make sure you have received the MMR booster (as people born before 1990 may not have received it);

If you and your family are planning any international travel, make sure your vaccinations of MMR are in order before you travel!

Children and… Passive Smoke!

It’s been almost 35 years since Joseph A. Califano, Jr.[1], former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (DHEW) which became the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), announced the government’s Initiative on Smoking and Health.

This was an amazing event, considering so many people in the United States smoked. At that time, people smoked at work, at home, in restaurants, in hospital waiting rooms and movie theaters, in public buildings and even on airplanes. Cigarettes cost in the neighborhood of 50 cents a pack.  Respiratory diseases, lung cancer and heart disease were on the rise, as were the insurance and lost-time costs to employers of sick employees with smoking-related ailments–but there was little discussion of the effects of  “passive smoke” and the damage it inflicts on the very young.

Recently, it struck me how concept-changing that announcement was. Mr. Califano, a lawyer (and former senior partner of the law firm of Williams, Connolly and Califano), on leaving DHEW/DHHS didn’t let the argument stop with his departure from the Carter administration. He took on the big tobacco companies in the real world and aimed in legal battles to change the laws that permitted smoking in public buildings, with the express purpose of lowering the numbers of people who suffer from respiratory ailments due to smoking, including the very young.

On June 21, 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled the final graphic warning labels it will print on cigarette packs for sale–a far cry from the mild warning of yore: “The Surgeon General says, “Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.'” http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/06/20110621a.html

Yet during the past 35 years, it has taken more than mild warnings to get people to focus on what happens to kids in smoking environments, and I’m not sure we haven’t understated the warnings. When out and about, I frequently see young mothers holding baby and a cigarette.

And I wonder, what can they be thinking, and do they know that young children and toddlers are especially sensitive to the effects of secondhand smoke? Their bodies are still growing and developing and they breathe faster than adults and therefore inhale proportionately more smoke. So moms and dads who smoke around their kids are essentially setting up their children for possible smoking-related breathing problems.

Research shows that kids who grow up in households where one or both parents smoke have twice the amount of respiratory and lung disorders, and in some cases have been hospitalized due to smoking-related disorders.

They also experience greater absenteeism and there have been studies which suggest that children exposed to more passive smoke may have more behavioral problems than children who are not exposed to passive smoke.  It’s taken more than 35 years to realize that smoking is related to cancer, that smoking causes health problems in formerly healthy individuals.  http://www.helpwithsmoking.com/passive-smoking/passive-smoking-and-children.php

As parents, caregivers, family members, and babysitters, it’s important that we connect the dots between smoking and respiratory problems, so that eventually people will stop smoking around kids and even find it offensive to smoke around kids, and so that all our kids can expect to grow up with fewer respiratory difficulties than they may be experiencing now, in 2011.


[1] This piece is dedicated to my friend, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., for whom I worked and from whom I learned a great deal about how laws affect the development of American society and the way we think.

Recall of 30,000 Metal Futon Bunk Beds by Big Lots

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in conjunction with BigLots of Columbus, Ohio, has announced the recall of approximately 30,000 metal futon bunk beds sold by BigLots due to a child’s entrapment death.

The problem with this bunk bed is that a child (behind the futon or in the ladder area) can and did become entrapped when the futon and its metal frame were lowered from the seated to the flat position. A three-year old Burlington, Iowa, boy died after becoming entrapped at the head and neck in the bunk bed in March of 2010. The weight of the futon’s metal frame prevented the child from breathing and escaping. Another hazard with this particular bunk bed is that the space between the last rung on the bunk bed’s ladder and the futon mattress is too small, creating a space for a child’s head and neck to become entrapped.  So, in a word, these bunk beds are “hazardous” to young children.

The bunk beds hold twin mattresses, and the bottom bunks have a convertible futon bed.  The model number BFB1008 can be located on a label on the bed’s upper bunk support rail. The recalled metal futon bunk beds weremanufactured in China, imported and sold exclusively by Big Lots stores nationwide from January 2009 through April 2010 for approximately $200 unassembled.

As with any recall, consumers are advised to stop using these bunk beds immediately and to contact BigLots for a repair kit which contains new ladders and other parts which can be assembled at home. For additional information on this recall, consumers may

contact Big Lots toll-free at (866) 244-5687 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, e-mail the firm at talk2us@biglots.com or visit the firm’s website www.biglots.com

To view a photo of the particular metal bunk bed, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11250.html

In Childsafetyblog.org’s opinion if we had purchased such a set of bunk beds, rather than repairing it or using it at all, we would pack it up and send it back to BigLots!  We also think that at some point in time this country is going to have to take a stand vis à vis the safety of Chinese products being imported into the U.S.

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. http://articles.boston.com/2011-05-14/business/29543541_1_dosing-acetaminophen-fda-policy

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 ChildSafetyBlog.org 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.” http://www.kpho.com/print/27939504/detail.html

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.

ChildSafetyBlog.org 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.

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 www.target.comwww.walmart.com and www.kmart.com  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 www.dorelasia.com

ChildSafetyblog.org hopes all our readers enjoy a safe and happy Mother’s Day!

Teaching Young Children To Avoid Drugs Begins With Parents

This blog post is no April fool.  Teaching young children to avoid drugs is not a laughing matter in this day and age.  The example parents set for children plays an important role in children’s behavior now and as children grow.

Reinforcing positive role models in a child’s life helps build a child’s sense of self-esteem.  If a child is confident in who he/she is, then the child will be more likely to make better choices and less likely to bend to peer pressure, and even to bullying, when the question arises,”Hey, you want to try some of this?”

A parent setting a positive example is extremely important. If a parent or family member drinks to excess, smokes heavily or even takes “recreational” drugs in front of their children, they can expect their children eventually to try to imitate their behavior.  Parents should not tempt their young children by giving them “a little beer” or other alcoholic beverages.  Something that seems to taste good to a child or makes them feel good briefly may not be good for their growing body or their internal organs.

Teaching children about drugs and what they can put in their mouths and what they should not put in their mouths is important.  A parent can say, for example, “These peaches are good for you, they contain vitamins and help you have good skin.” Or “The calcium in milk helps build strong bones and strong bones help us move around!”  Conversely, a parent can say, “Pills are medicine for a purpose. We don’t take medicine we don’t need. A medicine can help one person, but may hurt another.” or “We must be very careful not to take anything we don’t know about or that our parent doesn’t give us when we are sick.  We don’t help ourselves to medicine.” Or “We don’t take medicine or pills that belong to other people.”

In addition to safely storing the family’s medicines in a lockable medicine chest, a parent can caution their child, “If you find a pill anywhere [at home] you bring it to me.” Or “If you find a pill anywhere at school, take it to your teacher right away!”  A young child in one Colorado elementary school found a pill at the bottom of his milk carton, and was extremely fortunate not to have swallowed the pill which another child put in the carton “as a joke”–without even knowing what the result might have been if the child had swallowed the pill. Both sets of parents of the children involved were startled when they were informed by the school’s principal of the incident. The result of this experience could have been so much worse.

As children grow and head into the pre-teens and teens, parents can reinforce their discussions about drugs by educating kids about the effects of drugs, what drugs look like and do to a person, especially what drugs to avoid at all cost.  In the past year, in the United States there has been an upsurge in popularity of certain “synthetic drugs”.  Childsafetyblog.org wants to pat the now-thirteen states which have made buying and selling these synthetic drugs, such as “bath salts,” illegal as the results of kids taking these drugs have been devastating to the individuals, their families, and their communities.  And we urge those states that have not yet banned the purchase and sale of synthetic drugs to do so as soon as possible.

More Cribs and Bassinets Recalled; and 26 Crib Injuries/Day!

Last week,, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (http://www.cpsc.gov)  in conjunction with IKEA Home Furnishings of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, recalled approximately 20,000 Sniglar™ Cribs sold in the U.S. and almost 6,000 sold in Canada.  The recall was specifically directed to the Sniglar non-drop side, full-size crib, Model No. 60091931.

For consumer identification, the names “Sniglar” and “IKEA” and the model number are printed on a label attached to the mattress support.  The crib frame and mattress support are made of light colored or natural finish wood.  The reason for the recall is the four (4) bolts provided with the crib to secure the mattress support are not long enough to properly extend through the nuts and can come loose, causing the mattress support to detach and collapse, and at the same time pose a risk to a child in the crib of strangulation and suffocation.

The cribs were sold exclusively by IKEA from October 2005 to June 2010 for approximately $80 and imported from and manufactured in Romania.

Consumers who have the Sniglar cribs Model 60091931 should stop using the crib immediately and check the crib and mattress support bolts to see if the bolts properly extend through the nuts; and if they do not, immediately contact IKEA for a repair kit or refund information.  If the bolts do extend properly through the nuts, the crib is not included in this recall.

IKEA can be reached toll free by phone at (888) 966-4532 anytime, or visit the firm’s website at http://www.ikea-usa.com   The Consumer Product Safety Commission is still interested in receiving reports of any adverse events related to these cribs.  Health Canada’s press release may also be found at http://cpsr-rspc.hc-sc.gc.ca/PR-RP/recall-retrait-eng.jsp?re_id=1266 and photos of the cribs being recalled can also be found athttp://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11135.html

Also, Childsafetyblog.org recommends obtaining additional information on crib safety by visiting the CPSC Crib Safety Website:  http://www.cpsc.gov/info/cribs/index.html

Bassinets Recalled by Burlington Basket

Burlington Basket Company of Burlington, Iowa, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have recalled approximately 500,000 baby bassinets due to faulty cross-bracing rails.

The reason for the recall of the bassinet with folding legs is if its cross-bracing rails are not fully locked into position, the bassinets can collapse causing an infant to fall in the bassinet or fall onto the floor causing injury to the child.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Burlington Basket received ten (10) reports of incidents of collapse when the folding legs of the bassinet failed and two reports of injuries to children.

The bassinets were sold throughout the United States by Walmart and other department stores from January 2003 through August 2010 for about $50.  Consumers should stop using Burlington Basket bassinets with folding legs immediately and contact the company for information on how to receive a repair kit or a refund.  Burlington Basket can be reached at Burlington Basket Company at (800)553-2300 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Central Time or consumers can visit the company’s website: http://www.burlingtonbasket.com

ChildSafetyBlog.org thinks all of this is way too hard on baby! Apparently others agree. On February 17, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, MD, aired a several-minute spot devoted to crib injuries, and according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics, which Dr. Gupta highlighted in CNN’s blog, “an average of 26 children suffer a crib-related injury every day.”

http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/16/study-average-of-26-children-hurt-by-cribs-every-day/?iref=allsearc)

Also, according to Dr. Gary A. Smith, the lead author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/injury-research-and-policy) “9,500 children a year [are] treated in emergency departments for crib-related injuries.”

So as parents, family members, caregivers, and babysitters, we need to check our children’s cribs and bassinets to make sure we don’t have the faulty ones. And if we do, contact the companies immediately. Always remember:  safer is better.

Winter Safety Is More than Hats and Coats!

Most of America is experiencing a real winter this 2011!

Over New Year’s 32 inches of snow fell in northern New Jersey alone, yet some places in the U.S. were unscathed, so we feel fortunate to be living in a more moderate climate–but it’s only January and several months more of cold weather and possible snow and ice are on the way.  What can we do this season to protect our kids?

Certainly dressing infants and children warmly and in layers if they are going out of doors is a good idea. And encouraging them to play indoors during periods of extremely cold temperatures works better for them too. Yesterday, I watched two young adult parents as they brought their child into a store–they had to cross a windy parking lot in 20 degree temps. The child was in an infant seat, thankfully bundled up.  But this made me wonder–wouldn’t it have been better for one of the parents to remain in the warmth of their home with the baby?  We will never know the answer to that question.  But here are a few tips to cope with the winter cold:

  • Thin layers of clothes consisting of thermal underwear, tee shirts, sweaters, socks, and warm pants are very good if children are going out of doors.  We recommend coats, hats, gloves, and boots over layered clothing if necessary to keep kids warm and waterproof in the cold and snow. (Oh… and keeping an eye on them is also good, so that they don’t remove their clothes as they play!)
  • One-piece sleep-suits or “sleepers” are great and keep baby warm best while sleeping or again thin layers and a single cover with the child’s face exposed.  We caution parents to refrain from using a lot of covers in the sleeping area, to protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite if your child is outside for awhile.  In hypothermia, children can shiver or become lethargic or clumsy-acting if they’ve been out too long in the cold or worn improper clothing. Their speech can become slurred as well.  Frostbite endangers little ears, hands, faces, and toes, and parents and caregivers need to watch for the signs of grey blotchiness on their cheeks or complaints of numbness in digits or the feeling of “burning” skin.
  • If you think your child may have hypothermia, bring them indoors, remove any wet or cold clothing, shoes and socks, redress them warmly and wrap them in blankets and call 911. Keep them good and warm until help comes!
  • If you think your child may have frostbite, again, bring them indoors and remove any wet or cold clothing, shoes and socks, redress them warmly and apply warm (not hot) water by washcloths to the affected areas (nose, ears, lips, etc.).  Do not rub the affected areas. Give your child a warm drink.  If the feeling of numbness persists more than a few minutes, call 911, and keep your child warm until help comes.

Being a caring parent or caregiver in the cold months takes a lot of effort,  but there are things you can do to make your child’s life more comfortable in cold weather.  Use sun screen on hands and faces, make sure they wear their mittens and hats, even using a humidifier to protect their sinuses from dry heat is a big help to kids. And a simple thing like making sure they wash their hands frequently (even in cold weather) to protect them from getting viruses that seem to appear more frequently during the winter season is another good way to keep them safe.

ChildSafetyBlog.org wishes you and yours a safe, healthy and happy New Year 2011 and a great winter season!

Just What is Cystic Fibrosis? And How Does it Affect Children?

Cystic Fibrosis (CF), the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) tells us, is an inherited (genetic) chronic disease that affects approximately 30,000 individuals in the U.S. and 70,000 individuals worldwide.  Almost 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed in the U.S. annually.  According to Disabled World, “One out of every 3,500 children in the U.S. are born with it.” CFF tells us 70 percent of patients are diagnosed before age 2 in the U.S.   But how does this disease present itself and how does it affect children?

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation tells us that CF is caused by “A defective gene and its protein product [which] cause the body to produce an unusually thick, sticky mucus that:

  • clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and
  • obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.”

Parents of children need to be able to recognize the symptoms of CF which include:

  • very salty-tasting skin;
  • persistent coughing, at times with phlegm;
  • frequent lung infections;
  • wheezing or shortness of breath;
  • poor growth/weight gain in spite of a good appetite; and
  • frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty in bowel movements.

The disease affects more people of Caucasian background than those of Native American, Hispanic, or African American origin.  The disease is also found to a lesser extent in Canada and in the United Kingdom.

How would you, as a parent or caregiver, be able to tell if your child has Cystic Fibrosis?    If a child is experiencing frequent breathing problems and other symptoms noted above, a parent can take their child to the emergency room or their primary care physician in order for the child to be medically evaluated.  A doctor is able to prescribe tests that can confirm or rule out CF.

The primary test, which is the “Sweat Test,” is easy and painless.  This test determines the salt level in a child’s perspiration, which is one of the major determining factors in CF. Biological parents can also take a blood test which determines whether or not they are carriers of the CF gene.  Children would have to inherit one copy of the defective CF gene from each parent in order to have the disease.

In the U.S., a tremendous advancement in identifying CF is that in all states newborns are screened for CF.  Newborns screened for CF can benefit from early diagnosis and treatment, which can:

  • Improve growth;
  • Maintain healthy lungs;
  • Reduce the number of hospital stays; and
  • Add years to an individual’s life.

The prognosis for those with CF is much better today than it was in the 1950s. Airway clearance, nutrition, and drug therapies are important in controlling CF in children and adults. Today, there is hope, as many individuals with CF are living longer, healthier lives than in the recent past.

This child safety blog piece is dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Jamie Maria Mick Ferber who died in January 2003, at age 27, due to complications of Cystic Fibrosis.  As a child, Jamie was a poster child for promoting awareness of Cystic Fibrosis.  Jamie grew up in Broadway, Virginia, attended Eastern Mennonite schools in Harrisonburg, graduated from Shenandoah University in Winchester, and became a respiratory therapist and advocate for Cystic Fibrosis patients.  We are grateful for her life and dedication.