Parenting Archive

Magnet Ingestions – when attractions go bad

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The term “opposites attract” is usually reserved  for dating websites or corny Hallmark cards, but right now I’m going to apply it to something you probably don’t think about on a regular basis:

Magnets.

More specifically, neodymium magnets, or rare earth magnets.

buckyball-magnets

Sometimes these are sold in toys (think Magnatiles, etc) but were more often sold as desk toys or stress relievers for adults. While the magnets within children’s blocks are safely encased and tightly regulated by the CPSC, the magnets marketed for adults only are easily ingested by children. They are small, pretty, and apparently very tasty looking. When a child (or pet!) ingests 2 or more, they attract each other within the digestive tract. This can result in an obstruction, a perforated bowel, and necrosis of the tissue which can lead to sepsis and death. Picture two magnets being in opposite ends of the intestine. They come together with the intestine pinched in between. Either the intestine tears (a perforation) and the contents seep into the abdominal cavity, or the pinched tissue is deprived of blood flow and becomes necrotic (dies). Either can result in sepsis, which is an infection within the blood stream that can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

The scary thing about these magnets is if your child doesn’t tell you they ate them, you won’t know until they start showing symptoms. The initial symptoms are abdominal pain and vomiting and basically mimic a common stomach virus. Parents and pediatricians just give symptom support and assume it will subside in a few days. When the symptoms instead intensify , warranting an x-ray, the damage is already done.

Most of the desk toys marketed for adults have since been recalled and removed from the market, such as BuckyBalls. However millions still lurk in desk drawers and offices. Make sure to remove them immediately and place them out of reach (or better yet, get rid of them!) if you do have them in your house. Magnetic toys are becoming more prevalent on store shelves with the trendy rising of STEM education aspects. Tegu blocks, Magna-Tiles, Magformers, etc are all toys that have magnets safely encased in plastic or wood. Remember to check the integrity of these toys regularly, and supervise when your children are playing with them. Wood is easily chewed by family pets, so keep them out of reach and immediately search the area for magnets if a block is damaged. These toys are amazingly fun, just make sure to play safely!

If you think your child may have ingested a magnet, alert your pediatrician immediately or go to the ER. Also note that on an x-ray, multiple magnets can appear as only one when they’ve attached to each other. The damage caused can be irreversible and as evidenced by several recent stories I’ve read on parenting message boards- life changing.

F1.large

Kids are crazy and seem to be able to hurt themselves with almost anything. This is truth, and with all these blog posts about the things that can pick off your kid, it seems overwhelming and that you may as well put your kid in a bubble. I get this, my own kids are 5 and 2. And if it makes you feel any better, I’m currently watching them beat each other with sticks through the kitchen window. Someone may lose an eye. But so far, no one has recalled sticks so I’m gonna let it slide. However, knowledge is power. Even as a nurse myself, I never would have thought of magnets as anything other than a choking hazard. Buckyballs are small enough to pass, so that’s what I would be waiting for. Arming yourself with knowledge and being proactive is the best thing you can do. I will be forever grateful that I wasn’t one of the parents that was given this knowledge by a doctor while my child was critically ill. I wish every parent could be spared that.

Government Calls for Lap/Shoulder Seat Belts on School Buses

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NHTSA Pushes Lawmakers and School Districts to Enhance Safety for Children on School Buses

School BusAccording to recent remarks made by NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind for the National Association for Pupil Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will shift its position to endorse 3-point lap/shoulder seatbelts on school buses.

As NHTSA’s administrator, my primary role is as the leader of our agency. NHTSA has not always spoken with a clear voice on the issue of seat belts on school buses. So let me clear up any ambiguity now: The position of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is that seat belts save lives. That is true whether in a passenger car or in a big yellow bus. And saving lives is what we are about. So NHTSA’s policy is that every child on every school bus should have a three-point seat belt. NHTSA will seek to use all the tools at our disposal to help achieve that goal, and today I want to launch a nationwide effort to get us there.

Is this a change in position? Yes. But it is consistent with NHTSA’s role as the guardian of safety on America’s roads. It is consistent with decades of progress in raising seat belts in the minds of the public from novelty to nuisance to “the car doesn’t move until I hear that click.” Seat belts are icons of safety. And that makes them the single most effective thing we can provide to improve the confidence of parents, policymakers and children. Without seat belts on buses, there is a gaping, obvious hole in our safety measures that sparks questions all of us have to answer. With seat belts, we can build momentum for student pedestrian safety, enhanced enforcement, and more.

Photo Credit: Safeguard4kids

Photo Credit: Safeguard4kids

While school buses are among the safest methods of transportation due to size, mass, visibility, driver experience and other factors, seatbelts would make them even safer. Seatbelts would also make large buses compatible with child safety seats for younger kids. Smaller school buses are already being transitioned to lap and shoulder belt systems. Concerns include cost and passenger capacity, which could reduce the number of children served by buses, possibly forcing some to other means of transportation. Currently, states determine if large school buses require seatbelts. Six states currently require either lap or lap/shoulder belts, but some of these mandates remain unfunded.

According to NHTSA, approximately 4 school age children (5-18 years old) who are occupants of large school buses are killed annually. Assuming 100% seat belt use, a Federal mandate for lap/shoulder belts could save 2 lives annually. Passenger car fatality rates are over 7 times higher overall.

It is still worth noting that most published comparisons between cars and buses use overall car fatality rates where fatal injuries are dominated by unrestrained occupants and crashes where the car driver is a teen or is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Overall rates also don’t take into account that many car fatalities happen with greater frequency during overnight hours, evening rush hours and during summer months when school buses may not be operating. So, the rates for a grade school child transported by a parent or adult caregiver in an appropriate restraint system in the back seat of a family vehicle would presumably be closer to the rates observed in school buses.

Even so, CarseatBlog applauds NHTSA’s new goal that could cut school bus fatalities nearly in half, and significantly reduce many more preventable injuries, making large school buses safer than any alternative. The consistency of message for a child to buckle-up anytime they are in a vehicle is also extremely important. The American Academy of Pediatrics also endorses such a policy.

The AAP recommends that all children travel in age-appropriate, properly secured child-restraint systems when transported in all motor vehicles, including school buses, to ensure the safest ride possible. The AAP further recommends that all newly manufactured school buses be equipped with lap/shoulder restraint systems that can also accommodate car safety seats, booster seats, and harness systems. The AAP recognizes the added benefit of improved student behavior and consistent habits of restraint use when traveling in motor vehicles. Policies on seat belt use have been found to improve student behavior and reduce driver distraction.

The Things They Don’t Teach You…

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With Liam turning 5 in July, I’ve been paying attention to things I’ve never had to before, such as school. It never really occurred to me that things have changed at all since I’ve been in elementary/middle school, but apparently they have. Some people argue that it’s for the better, and others argue that it’s all going straight down in the metaphorical handbasket.

Personally, I don’t think I have enough experience with school age kids just yet to be able to voice my opinion on what works and what doesn’t, but I do know that one thing seems to be blatantly and obviously missing:

Life skills.

I’m not talking about skills such as interacting with others, sharing, whatever. I mean like, “adulting”. Apparently these things started disappearing when I was in school because I was fairly clueless on a lot upon graduating, but now they are all but extinct. I’m talking things like how to balance a check book, how to budget appropriately, how to perform basic maintenance work on your car, cooking/shopping/nutrition, building things, how certain tools work, gardening, etc etc. I’m sure there are programs at schools out there that exist but it’s definitely not the norm. I do agree that these are things that could definitely be taught at home by parents…but when is that going to happen? School lasts longer and longer these days, then kids come home with hours of homework. Combine that with parents who work full time and when is this teaching going to happen? No, it’s not the job of schools to teach your kids how to change the oil in their cars but really, aren’t basic life skills just as important as knowing how to solve an equation or edit a sentence? All the mathematical knowledge in the world isn’t going to save you when you burn your spam because you’re broke from not budgeting and getting ripped off from paying someone to do something you could have easily done yourself.

 

I don’t want this to be a touchy subject because heck, not all of us have time to instill this vast HOW TO BE AN ADULT knowledge upon our kids. I barely do and to be honest, I can’t do it anyway because no one taught me. But because I know what it’s like to feel an inch tall when buying a house or going to Home Depot, it’s important to me that my kids don’t. I want them to excel in academics, yes, but I also want them to be able to take care of themselves and not rely on others. I feel like as a society, we are becoming so technology dependent that we are forgetting how to manually do things for ourselves.

Surely I’m not the only one that’s thought of this, and I definitely don’t have a plan other than just involving my kids in every daily activity instead of sending them off to watch TV when I’m changing the oil in my car. How do we raise capable kids? Is there a secret?

 

New Jersey Updated Child Restraint Law Goes into Effect September 1, 2015

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NJ county mapOn September 1, 2015, New Jersey put into effect its new child restraint laws. These laws apply to everyone driving through the state, not just to motorists who live in NJ. Even if your vehicle is registered in Toronto, you are expected to comply with the vehicle & traffic laws of each state you are driving in. And that includes their child restraint laws.

We know that legal jargon can be very confusing and many parents who live in New Jersey (or who drive through the state) still have questions so here is a breakdown of the the new NJ carseat and booster seat law in plain English:

Children under the age of 8 (through age 7) are legally required to ride in the back seat* as follows:

  • Under age 2 (0-23 months) and weighing less than 30 pounds are required to use a rear-facing carseat with a 5-point harness. This means a convertible used in the rear-facing position or an infant seat. (Note: Most babies will outgrow an infant carrier before their 2nd birthday and will need to transition to a convertible seat used in the rear-facing position. Unless you start off with a convertible seat from birth and then there is no need to transition to a bigger rear-facing seat.)

Rear-facing only (infant) carseat convertible seat installed reat-facing

  •  Age 2 through age 3 (24-47 months) secured in a carseat with 5-point harness either rear-facing (until reaching the weight or height limit) or forward-facing. Having a 3-year-old in just a booster seat is not legal unless they weigh more than 40 lbs.

Diono-Rainier-Clara  Nautilus2

  • Age 4 through age 7 (48 months until 8th birthday) and less than 57 inches tall (4’9″) secured in a forward-facing carseat with 5-point harness or a booster seat. There is no weight requirement in this updated law – only age and height requirements. (Note: If you have an older child who weighs more than 80 lbs. and you’re having a hard time finding a booster seat that they actually still fit in – consider a Safety 1st Incognito Kid Positioner. It’s specifically designed for bigger, older kids.)

Evenflo SK Platinum - harness Jon Turtle Booster Evenflo Amp

  • Age 8 through 17 shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt

Passing the 5 Step Test

*Exemptions: If there are no rear seats (e.g., standard cab pickup truck), the child shall be secured in a carseat or booster in the front passenger seat except that no child shall be secured in a rear-facing carseat in the front seat of any motor vehicle which is equipped with a passenger-side airbag that is not disabled or turned off.

Full text of the new law can be found here:  http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/PL15/50_.PDF

NJ Updated Law