Tag Archives: Children

Go Scouting for better mental health?

The problems caused by poor mental health have been rising steadily up the health agenda, which is why a study that suggests taking part in the Scouts or Guides can help lower the risk of mental illness in later life has grabbed people’s attention.

Children who participate in these organisations, which aim to develop qualities such as self-reliance, resolve and a desire for self-learning, are likely to have better mental health in middle age, the findings show.

Scouts are 15% less likely to suffer from anxiety or mood disorders

Scouting, which frequently involves being outdoors, also seems to remove the relatively higher likelihood of mental illness in those from poorer backgrounds.

The findings come from a lifelong study of almost 10,000 people from across the UK who were born in November 1958, known as the National Child Development Study.

Around one-quarter of study participants had been in the Scouts or Guides, and those were found to be around 15% less likely to suffer from anxiety or mood disorders, compared with others.

Researchers say their findings suggest programmes that help children develop skills such as self-reliance and teamwork, and encourage being active outdoors, may have lifelong benefits. Food for thought?


Toddlers’ eating habits may harm long-term health

Toddlers in the UK are consuming more calories and protein than recommended, which puts them at risk of obesity in later life, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Toddlers need a balanced diet too

Dietary preferences and habits are established during the first two years of life and what you eat then can have an enduring impact. Increased protein in early life is a risk factor for obesity, and high intakes of salt may set taste preferences for the future, increasing the risk of raised blood pressure in later life.
Researchers found that at 21 months, 63% of children exceeded the recommended daily intake of 968 calories, consuming an average on 1,035 calories. On average 40g of protein was consumed per day, but just 15g is recommended for children aged 1-3. Salt intake was almost three times higher than the 0.5g recommended, and fibre intake among many young children was 8g, half that recommended.

Sugar consumption having a ‘devastating’ effect on kids teeth

A leading dental health charity says the government’s rejection of calls for a ‘sugar tax’ is an opportunity lost in the urgent need to address the UK’s deteriorating dental health.

The British Dental Health Foundation, which had given its support to proposals for a sugar tax made by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, says the impact will be felt particularly among children where sugar-related tooth decay remains their number one reason for hospitalisation in the UK.

Give your children’s teeth a healthy start

Some 26,000 primary school children were admitted to hospital due to tooth decay last year, and child tooth extractions are costing the NHS around £30 million per year, the key cause being tooth decay.

Tooth decay happens when sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque. This forms the acids that attack the teeth and destroy the enamel. After this happens many times, the tooth enamel may break down, forming a hole or ‘cavity’. Tooth decay almost always leads to fillings and often leads to teeth having to be extracted.

Fizzy drinks are a major culprit, so if you value your kid’s teeth leave them on the supermarket shelf.

Problems with head lice?

Attending school frequently means children bringing home unwelcome visitors – head lice. Primary school children are particularly prone to infection.

Head lice are passed from head to head through physical contact. They lurk mainly near the scalp for food and warmth and attach their eggs to the shaft of the hair.

Yuck! Thankfully there are plenty of good treatment options.

The lice are whitish to grey-brown in colour, and smaller than the size of a pinhead when first hatched. When fully grown they’re about the size of a sesame seed.

Combing wet, conditioned hair with a lice comb is a reliable detection method even when very few lice are present. Thoroughly wet lice stay still, whereas dry or damp lice move quickly away from disturbance, so evading detection.

Head lice can usually be effectively treated with lotions or sprays designed to kill head lice, or by wet combing using a specially designed head lice comb. Don’t forget that if using a lotion at least two applications will be needed 10-12 days apart, as the lotions don’t always kill louse eggs.

The pharmacy can provide plenty of advice and treatment options to get rid of head lice, so speak to our pharmacist if you need help.


Smoking ban linked to drop in infant deaths

Further proof that anti-smoking laws have delivered definite health benefits comes from a study of childbirths between 1995 and 2011 which suggests that almost 1,500 stillbirths and newborn deaths were averted in the first four years after the law to prohibit smoking in public places was introduced.

Smoking ban keeping our babies healthy

Stillbirths have dropped by almost 8 per cent in England since the smoking ban was introduced, and the number of babies dying shortly after birth has dropped by a similar amount, according to estimates.

Additionally more than 5,000 fewer babies were born with a low birth weight of under 2.5kg, the researchers estimate. Smoking and smoke-exposure during pregnancy are known to have long-term adverse effects on the health of unborn children, including increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

If you haven’t quit yet and the time is right for you, pop in and have a chat.

Which flu vaccine should your child have?

There are two types of flu vaccine available for children in – a nasal spray and an injected vaccine, so who should get which?

• Children under 6 months are too young to be vaccinated (although expectant mothers aren’t!)
• Children aged 6 months to 2 years get the injected vaccine – two doses four weeks apart – although they are only eligible if they are in an ‘at risk’ group
• All children aged 2-6 on 31 August 2015 are all eligible flu vaccine and should get the nasal spray unless there are medical reasons (severely asthmatic or immunocompromised) for giving them an injected flu vaccine.
• Children aged 7-17 are eligible for vaccination if they are in an ‘at risk’ group, and will usually get the nasal spray.

Which flu vaccine should your child have?

At risk children are those with long term health conditions such as asthma and other respiratory diseases, liver, kidney and neurological conditions including learning disabilities, even if well managed.

Ask one of our pharmacists if you are not sure.

Head lice don’t take summer off

Head lice can be awkward to treat due to the time-consuming and precise nature of treatment and high re-infestation rate.

Head lice

The insecticide products that were used to treat lice infestations have largely replaced with silicone and oil-based preparations which have a physical rather than a chemical action.

After a head lice infestation has been confirmed you can treat the lice at home by wet combing the hair with a head lice comb or by using a lotion or spray that’s designed to kill head lice.

However, neither will protect against re-infestation if head-to-head contact is made with someone with head lice during the treatment period.

You can get a fine toothed comb suitable for wet combing from your local pharmacy. Your pharmacist will also be able to recommend an over-the-counter lotion or spray and advise you about how to use it correctly if this is your preferred option.

Smoking ban results in 11,000 fewer child hospital admissions a year

If you ever needed evidence of the benefits of smoke-free legislation, this is it. One of the most comprehensive investigations into the impact of the smoking ban on child health in England has shown it has resulted in over 11,000 fewer admissions to hospital a year from respiratory infections in children.

Child in hospital

Researchers analysed 1.6 million hospital admissions in children aged 0-14 across England from 2001-2012. The results found that the introduction of legislation was followed by an immediate reduction of 13.8% in admission to hospital for lower respiratory tract infections. Admissions for upper respiratory tract infections also decreased, but at a more gradual rate.

While passive smoking is bad for everyone, children are especially vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke as their lungs are smaller and are still developing.

If you have children and want to quit, then speak to your pharmacist who can provide advice and support, as well as a range of nicotine replacement options to help you kick the habit.

Smoke‐free legislation and childhood hospitalisations for respiratory tract infections Authors: Jasper V. Been; Christopher Millett; John Tayu Lee; Constant P. van Schayck; Aziz Sheikh DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00014615
European Respiratory Society (ERS)

Find swallowing tablets difficult?

Scientists at the University of Huddersfield are pioneering the use of a special gel that can be used to give medicines to young children and the elderly – groups who often have difficulty swallowing pills and capsules.

Swallowing pill

The gel medicine is made from gellan gum, a natural compound that has been used in foodstuffs until now. It consists of microscopic gel particles which collectively are pourable and can be administered with a spoon. But in the stomach the gel solidifies. This means the drug is not released there, where it would have little effect or even irritate the stomach, but later in the intestine over the course of several hours.

The research is a response to the increasing demand for ‘age appropriate’ drugs. It is important because a major reason for people not taking their medicines properly is the dosage form – be it a tablet, liquid or cream. So if you are having trouble taking your medicines for this reason, speak to your pharmacist. They may be able to suggest an alternative approach.

Tooth brushing on the curriculum?

Schools and nurseries should be run classes to teach children how to brush their teeth, says the government’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence amid concerns that a growing number of children are suffering from tooth decay.

Do your children know how to brush their teeth effectively?
Do your children know how to brush their teeth effectively?

Around 25,000 children, most around 5 years old, are admitted to hospital every year to have teeth removed. A recent Public Health England survey which found that in areas such as Leicester more than a third of children showed signs of tooth decay. The problem can be prevented with effective tooth brushing and staying away from sugary fizzy drinks and sweets.

Remember to use a fluoride toothpaste, brush for 2 minutes and do not rinse. If you need a new toothbrush, come along to the pharmacy.