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Spanking ‘harms kids’: Leading doctors group advises against corporal punishment

When a 14-year old Texas boy stole his moms new BMW to go on a joyride with friends last month, his ..

When a 14-year old Texas boy stole his moms new BMW to go on a joyride with friends last month, his mom found him in traffic, pulled him over, and spanked him with a belt, ABC affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco reported. The episode was caught on her daughters camera and started an online conversation about corporal punishment.

It's a hot topic.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has just come out with a new policy statement urging that parents avoid both "physical punishment and verbal abuse of children," citing evidence that links corporal punishment to "an increased risk of negative behavioral, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional outcomes for children."

Corporal punishment — defined as noninjurious, open-handed hitting with the intention of modifying child behavior — is both ineffective for changing behavior and damaging to children and teens, the AAP said.

"In one study, young children who were spanked more than twice a month at age 3 were more aggressive at age 5," a press release accompanying the policy statement this week said. "Those same children at age 9 still exhibited negative behaviors and lower receptive vocabulary scores, according to the research."

The effects of corporal punishment as well as harsh verbal abuse can actually change a child's brain, the organization said.

"Research has shown that striking a child, yelling at or shaming them can elevate stress hormones and lead to changes in the brain's architecture. Harsh verbal abuse is also linked to mental health problems in preteens and adolescents," the release said.

The AAP urges doctors to advise parents against using corporal punishment either in a moment of anger or in a planned response to misbehavior, and to opt instead for "positive and effective parenting strategies of discipline."

“Adults caring for children [should] use healthy forms of discipline, such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits, redirecting, and setting future expectations,” the organization said.

The AAP's new policy statement "strengthens its call to ban corporal punishment," it said. In 2000, the group recommended that all states to abolish the practice of corporal punishment in schools.

This week's statement, focused on families, also seems to build on an earlier one in 1998 that recommended pediatricians "use a comprehensive approach" when advising parents and encourage the development of disciplinary "methods other than spanking."

Support of corporal punishment is generally declining in the U.S.: In 1995, 80 percent of parents reported spanking their child, which fell to 67 percent of parents in 2013, one poll found.

But in 2015, over half of U.S. adults believed it was necessary to use physical force to discipline a child. This was true across different ethnic groups as well as different regions of the country, according to a study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Since 1989, the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child has called on all member states to ban corporal punishment, and 53 countries have done so.

But in the U.S., nineteen states still allowed corporal punishment in schools as of 2016, according to a study which also said and physical discipline was meted out to 160,000 children in the 2011-12 school year.

"I hear from many parents, 'I was hit and I turned out fine,' to which I say, 'Every developing little brain is different,'" said Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a pediatrician in California and a consultant to ABC News.

"The goal I hear from parents is a desire to teach, and when children are hit, they see themselves as the victim and automatically turn off their learning,” Bracho-Sanchez said.

"It is important for parents to remember children are always watching, so we as adults need to model the behavior we want to see in children”, Bracho-Sanchez said. "Consistent limits and consequences are also very important … For example, if the child doesnt pick up her toys, say you will put them away for the rest of the day and actually follow through."

Repeated use of corporal punishment has been associated with increased aggression in school, and increased risk of mental health and substance abuse disorders. In one study, it was even associated with physical dating violence as adolescents, the AAP said. On a biological level, young adults who experienced significant corporal punishment actually had visible changes to the brain itself on imaging, and elevated cortisol hormone levels that are associated with toxic stress.

The AAP recommendation focuses more broadly than on just physical punishment, saying parents should avoid any disciplinary action, including verbal abuse, that shames or humiliates a child.

The group is also reminding pediatricians to advocate for effective discipline policies in their states and communities.

“I dont think were getting softer," said Dr. Ryan Brown, a board-certified pediatrician and a member of the AAP's council on child abuse and neglect in a statement. "I think were getting smarter with our discipline.”

Dr. Tiffany Yeh completed pediatrics residency at Brown University, and is currently an endocrinology fellow at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

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Officials investigating 252 possible cases of polio-like illness AFM

Officials are now investigating 252 cases of possible acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), including 90 con..

Officials are now investigating 252 cases of possible acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), including 90 confirmed cases in 27 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of cases under investigation by the CDC is up 33 from last week, and the number of confirmed cases rose by 10, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of CDCs National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Tuesday.

Acute flaccid myelitis is a condition that has polio-like symptoms such as partial paralysis. The virus mostly affects children and young adults. The CDC said they do not know why the condition is impacting these individuals, but many believe it is caused by viruses. The CDC emphasized it remains a rare condition and said there have been no reported deaths from AFM so far in 2018.

The typical symptoms of AFM are similar to those of a severe respiratory illness, along with a fever, but then progress into neurological symptoms. Some patients with AFM feel weakness in their arms or legs, a loss of muscle tone or slower reflexes.

Some patients may also exhibit facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving their eyes and drooping eyelids or difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech. The most severe symptom is respiratory failure.

Messonnier said the CDC doesn't yet have enough information to definitively say what causes AFM and are casting a wide net for information. Part of that is studying the long-term health of AFM patients. Scientists are also looking for a pathogen in AFM patients' spinal fluid, but haven't yet found a pathogen that's a clear cause, she said.

The CDC said it sees an uptick in AFM cases every two years, and so far, the curve of the cases being investigated this year looks very similar to that of 2014 and 2016.

Officials don't expect many more cases in 2018 compared to 2016 and 2014, Messonnier said.

The best advice available is to wash your hands regularly, which lowers the chances of getting sick or spreading germs from many of the viruses linked to AFM, and protect against mosquito bites by using repellent, in addition to staying indoors at dusk and dawn.

The CDC said the vaccines your pediatrician suggests are very effective and children should continue to receive them on schedule even though there is no vaccine for AFM. (more…)

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‘Make-a-Wish’ wishes decrease trips to hospital for sick children: Study

A recent study from the Nationwide Childrens Hospital in Columbus, Ohio shows that participation in ..

A recent study from the Nationwide Childrens Hospital in Columbus, Ohio shows that participation in the Make-A-Wish program may give children better quality of life and reduce hospital visits and healthcare costs.

Patients who received a wish were 2.5 times more likely to have fewer unplanned hospital admissions and 1.9 times more likely to have fewer unplanned emergency department visits compared to patients of similar age, gender, disease category, and disease complexity who would also quality for a wish but did not receive one.

What is the Make-A-Wish Foundation?

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide children aged three to 17-years-old who have progressive, life-limiting, or life-threatening medical conditions, with experiences known as “wishes.” These wishes include “I wish to…” “go,” “be (someone for a day),” “meet,” and “have” (i.e. receive gifts.) The foundation is funded by contributions from individual donors, corporations, and other organizations.

What are the goals and mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation?

The Make-A-Wish Foundation “serves a unique, and vital, role in helping strengthen and empower children battling illnesses.” And, “wishes make life better for kids with critical illnesses.”

How many “wishes” does the foundation grant?

The Make-A-Wish Foundation was founded in November 1980 and the first wish was granted in the spring of 1981 to Frank “Bopsy” Salazar, a 7-year-old who had leukemia. Bopsy had three wishes: to be a fireman, go to Disneyland, and ride in a hot air balloon — all of which were granted to him. Since then, more than 285,000 children in the United States and its territories have benefited from experiencing their wishes. The foundation granted 15,300 wishes last year alone; which means on average, a wish is granted every 34 minutes.

What are the potential benefits of receiving a “wish?"

There is a long-held belief that receiving a wish improves a childs quality of life and potentially improves their familys quality of life, enhances family bonding, reduces stress, increases hope and serves as a distraction from illness. (more…)

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To curb STD rise, doctors treat patients’ partners without an office visit

This is a Kaiser Health News story.

If patients return to Dr. Crystal Bowe soon after taking medi..

This is a Kaiser Health News story.

If patients return to Dr. Crystal Bowe soon after taking medication for a sexually transmitted infection, she usually knows the reason: Their partners have re-infected them.

“While you tell people not to have sex until both folks are treated, they just dont wait,” she said. “So they are passing the infection back and forth.”

Thats when Bowe, who practices on both sides of the North and South Carolina border, does something doctors are often reluctant to do: She prescribes the partners antibiotics without meeting them.

Federal health officials have recommended this practice, known as expedited partner therapy, for chlamydia and gonorrhea since 2006. It allows doctors to prescribe medication to their patients partners without examining them. The idea is to prevent the kind of reinfections described by Bowe — and stop the transmission of STDs to others.

However, many physicians arent taking the federal governments advice because of entrenched ethical and legal concerns.

“Health care providers have a long tradition of being hesitant to prescribe to people they havent seen,” said Edward Hook, professor at the University of Alabamas medical school in Birmingham. “There is a certain skepticism.”

A nationwide surge of sexually transmitted diseases in recent years, however, has created a sense of urgency for doctors to embrace the practice. STD rates have hit an all-time high, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. In 2017, the rate of reported gonorrhea cases increased nearly 19 percent from a year earlier to 555,608. The rate of chlamydia cases rose almost 7 percent to 1.7 million.

“STDs are everywhere,” said Dr. Cornelius Jamison, a lecturer at the University of Michigan Medical School. “We have to figure out how to … prevent the spread of these infections. And its necessary to be able to treat multiple people at once.”

A majority of states allow expedited partner therapy. Two states — South Carolina and Kentucky — prohibit it, and six others plus Puerto Rico lack clear guidance for physicians. (more…)

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