Welcome to another edition of The Healthy Household, your weekly dose of health news and views for the whole family. From the latest health information to common sense parenting advice, we're here to give you everything you need to know to raise happy, healthy kids.
Don't rush to kindergarten: If you've got a summer baby who's turning five in June or July, he or she may be better off waiting a year to start kindergarten. Recent research found that kids born in the summer are less likely to grow up to be company CEOs. Just 6 percent of S&P 500 company CEOs were born in June, and less than 6 percent were born in July. In contrast, 23 percent of CEOs have March or April birthdays (making them some of the oldest in their classes). The theory is that being the youngest in your class means being less intellectually developed, and that can put a child at a disadvantage throughout the school years and beyond.
Toy cleaning time: During cold and flu season, your best defense against getting the whole family sick is to steer clear of germs as much as possible. To that end, experts recommend cleaning your baby's and toddler's toys (the ones most likely to get put in mouths and then shared) on a regular basis. Many plastic toys can safely go in the dishwasher, or you can clean them with a diluted bleach solution. Soft toys should go in the washing machine or be hand-washed in hot water. And be sure that all toys dry thoroughly after their bath to ensure that mold and bacteria don't find a place to grow.
Protect your cheerleader: The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines to help prevent cheerleading injuries, which have been on the rise in recent years. Among its recommendations: Cheerleading needs to be recognized as a sport by all states (currently only 29 do) so that participants have the same access to trained coaches and medical assistance as other school teams; cheerleaders should be required to have preseason physicals; and stunts should be performed only on grass or spring/foam floors and never on hard gym floor surfaces. If your kid's school isn't following these guidelines, bring it to the attention of the athletic director to draft a plan to help keep your cheerleaders safe.
Guard your medicine cabinet: Turns out, it's not just babies and toddlers you need to keep out of the bathroom cabinets. A new study found that teens are increasingly turning to common over-the-counter meds, such as cough syrup and decongestants, for a quick - and theoretically legal - buzz. And while consuming these drugs isn't against the law, it is not without potentially negative consequences. The researcher warns that abuse of over-the-counter drugs can result in unintentional poisoning, seizures and physical and psychological addictions. So in addition to keeping such medications out of easy reach of teens, talk to your kids about drug abuse, and make sure they understand that abusing these so-called safe meds can be just as risky as using illegal substances.
Probiotics and pregnancy: If you are pregnant and have a history of allergies, you could do your baby a favor by adding probiotics to your diet. A new study of 241 pregnant women, all with a history of allergies, found those who took probiotics during their last two months of pregnancy and first two months of breastfeeding greatly reduced their babies' chances of getting eczema. The thinking is that the good bacteria in the probiotic supplements may influence baby's health and immune responses through the immune cells that pass from mother to baby through the placenta and, later, through breast milk.
Read more of The Healthy Household, your weekly destination for health news for the whole family
Your guide to imperfect parenting: MSN Living's Family Room blog!
happy and healthy children
Here’s how dads can best get to grips with breastfeeding.
From honey to oatmeal to baking soda, see which pantry products are doctor-approved to treat common kids' ailments.
Moms and dads get real with stories from the parenting trenches.
13 that are worth the investment
Surprisingly simple strategies that can make your doctor’s visit smooth sailing.
Find out which objects should be cause for concern when they wind up in your kid's mouth.
Boost your child's brainpower with these proven strategies.
We sort through concerns on vaccines, screening and treatment options, and social strategies.