Archive for February, 2017

To reduce Lyme disease risks, keep tick-carrying deer out of your yard

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated about 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each year. Only about 30,000 of those actually get reported to the CDC. Many more likely go undiagnosed since Lyme symptoms can mimic other ailments and even disappear altogether for a time. Lyme disease is now the most common tick-borne illness, according to the CDC, and its health consequences can be severe.

Lyme disease is named for the river-side Connecticut town where it first emerged. A number of children in the area began exhibiting arthritis-like symptoms, a hallmark of the disease. A bull’s-eye target-shaped rash at the bite location may be the first indication that a person was bitten by a tick carrying Lyme disease, but not everyone will see or develop the rash. Symptoms such as joint pain, headaches, neck stiffness and heartbeat irregularities may get mistaken for flu or other illnesses.

In the northeast, mid-Atlantic and north-central states, deer ticks carry the disease. On the Pacific Coast, blacklegged ticks (who also like traveling on deer) spread Lyme disease, the CDC says.-

Year-round, especially during fall and winter, you should check your own body, children and pets for ticks. Deer ticks are often so small you won’t even feel their bite, so visual inspection is important. If you suspect you’ve been bitten, talk to your doctor right away.

The CDC says that reducing your exposure to ticks is the best defense against contracting Lyme disease. While you can’t vaccinate your family against Lyme disease (the vaccine maker stopped production in 2002, citing lack of consumer demand), you can “vaccinate” your backyard against deer that carry Lyme-bearing ticks. Keeping deer away from your backyard can help reduce your chances of encountering ticks in your home environment.

Look for a proven effective, natural deterrent that has been independently tested, like Bobbex Deer Repellent. The topical foliar spray uses taste and smell aversion ingredients to deter deer, moose and elk from browsing and causing other damage to ornamental plantings, shrubs and trees. Safe for use on even the most sensitive plantings, as well as around children and pets, Bobbex works in any climate and will not wash off after heavy rain or snow. The Connecticut Department of Forestry and Horticulture tested Bobbex Deer Repellant against 10 top competitors and found it to be 93 percent effective, second only to a physical barrier, such as a fence, in keeping deer away. To learn more, visit

As part of your deer and Lyme prevention efforts, keep these facts in mind:

* Prevention is easier than cure – in both cases. Even after treatment with antibiotics, 10 to 20 percent of Lyme patients have symptoms that last for months or even years, the CDC reports. Once deer move into your yard, they can be difficult to evict, and they can cause hundreds of dollars in damage. It’s easier to keep deer away – and avoid Lyme altogether – than to rectify the problems created by deer and the ticks they carry.

* A single whitetail deer can consume 8 to 12 pounds of foliage a day.

* Home remedies rarely work for keeping deer away, and trying to treat Lyme on your own can have severe health consequences. Untreated Lyme disease can cause arthritis, severe joint pain and swelling, and even chronic neurological problems such as numbness, tingling in the hands or feet and short-term memory problems, the CDC says.

* Even though many plants, bushes and trees will lose their leaves during fall and winter, it’s important to continue applying deer repellents year-round. Remember, deer forage aggressively when food becomes scarce. Fall and winter are the times when they’re most likely to enter your yard – bringing their disease-carrying cargo with them while ravaging your foliage, trees and shrubs.

For more information on repelling deer, visit

Taking Steps to Manage Acid Reflux Disease

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Acid reflux disease (ARD), also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), affects nearly 19 million Americans, and is characterized by heartburn occurring two or more days a week despite treatment and diet changes. Susan had lived with the symptoms of ARD for years until she went to her doctor and was diagnosed.

“I was busy and younger when my heartburn symptoms first occurred,” says Susan, a retired college professor and former clinical researcher from State College, Pennsylvania, who first experienced signs of ARD years ago. “I tried over-the-counter medications, such as antacids, which helped but not enough. I went to the doctor and he explained how acid reflux happens, and suggested that I should work to better manage my stress – which is hard for me.”


As time went on, it became harder and harder for Susan to ignore her heartburn symptoms. She began taking steps to better manage her heartburn symptoms, making several lifestyle changes, such as sleeping while propped up and trying to maintain a healthy body weight. Susan also tried to reduce her stress through such things like walking and other exercises.

“Working with my doctor, we were able to find a treatment plan that was right for me, which included taking the medication Dexilant,” Susan says. “I began taking Dexilant, and it helped relieve my heartburn symptoms. Each person’s experience with ARD is very personal, so the best thing to do if you have or think you might have acid reflux disease, is to speak with your doctor to find out more about the condition and what might be right for you.” 

To help educate people like Susan who have ARD, Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc., the makers of Dexilant (dexlansoprazole), partnered with celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn on the “Don’t Let it Burn” campaign to raise awareness around ARD and the importance of finding ways to manage their symptoms, including diet and lifestyle changes. Lifestyle tips, music, heartburn-friendly recipes and more can all be found on

“It is very important for patients to be proactive and understand that if they experience symptoms of heartburn frequently, they should reach out to their healthcare providers to find out if what they’re experiencing is acid reflux disease, and if so, what courses of action might be possible to manage this condition,” says David A. Peura, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Virginia School of Medicine. “When I work with ARD patients, we counsel diet and lifestyle modifications, but often for many patients, a medication is also needed to manage the symptoms. One treatment option I prescribe for my appropriate ARD patients is Dexilant because it can offer up to 24 hours of heartburn relief.”

To learn more, visit You can also hear from celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, and get tips, helpful information and facts about acid reflux disease, including:

 Acid reflux disease can occur in both men and women, with varying severity of the disease among patients Lifestyle modifications are part of a treatment plan to help manage a patient’s acid reflux disease.

Some include:

Avoid common trigger foods, such as fried or fatty foods, citrus foods, onions, and tomato-based foods as well as alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, chocolate, peppermint and spearmint Maintain a healthy body weight Eat small, frequent meals rather than large amounts of food at one time

Try not to wear tight-fitting clothing around your waist Elevate the head of your bed 6-8 inchesBe smoke-free

About Dexilant (dexlansoprazole) 30 mg and 60 mg delayed release capsules

Persistent heartburn two or more days a week, despite treatment and diet changes, could be acid reflux disease (ARD). Prescription Dexilant capsules are used in adults for 4 weeks to treat heartburn related to ARD, for up to 8 weeks to heal acid-related damage to the lining of the esophagus (called erosive esophagitis or EE), and for up to 6 months to continue healing of EE and relief of heartburn. Individual results may vary. Most damage (erosions) heals in 4-8 weeks.

Important Safety Information
Dexilant may not be right for everyone. Do not take Dexilant if you are allergic to Dexilant or any of its ingredients. Serious allergic reactions have been reported. Tell your doctor if you get any of the following symptoms with Dexilant: rash, face swelling, throat tightness, or difficulty breathing. Symptom relief does not rule out other serious stomach conditions. People who are taking multiple daily doses of proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medicines for a long period of time may have an increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, or spine. Low magnesium levels can happen in some people who take a PPI medicine.

The most common side effects of Dexilant were diarrhea (4.8%), stomach pain (4.0%), nausea (2.9%), common cold (1.9%), vomiting (1.6%), and gas (1.6%). Dexilant and certain other medicines can affect each other. Before taking Dexilant, tell your doctor if you are taking ampicillin, atazanavir, digoxin, iron, ketoconazole, tacrolimus, or methotrexate. If you are taking Dexilant with warfarin, you may need to be monitored because serious risks could occur. Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional. Please see accompanying Prescribing Information for Dexilant. 

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

To hear more from Spike and to learn about the treatment option Dexilant, please visit

Five ways to help kids boost their brain power

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Everyone is born with about 100 billion brain cells. We form new connections between these cells throughout life, but the rate is particularly high when we’re young. Since those connections facilitate thinking and learning, parents who want to help give their children an intellectual edge should consider the brain-healthy choices they make each day.

“Making the effort to nurture your child’s brain with both proper nutrients and varied experiences, especially when they are young and developing at such a fast rate, is crucial,” says speech pathologist Lauren Zimet, founder of Early Insights, LLC, and an expert on childhood brain development. “The connections in brain circuitry can be enhanced through the environments and activities a child is exposed to, and participates in, as well as the nutrients a child consumes.” 

Here are five tips to help parents enhance healthy brain development in their children, positioning them for success in school today, and well into their future:

1. Select a rainbow
It’s no secret that the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables are numerous, but thanks to the results of ongoing research, you can confidently add brain health to that list. Encourage your children to eat a colorful array of produce (organic when possible) each day so they get the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals needed to nourish and protect their growing brains. If your child is resistant to eating produce, encourage them to come shopping with you and select something new to try. Kids are more likely to eat what they have selected themselves. 

2. Relax the right way
While it’s true that exercise boosts brain power, it’s also important to teach children how to relax. Balancing activity with relaxation is important so that kids don’t get too stressed, which can impact the brain’s development and lead to learning and behavior problems. Teaching children early on the benefit of setting goals, working towards those goals, and giving their brain and body time to relax are important life skills. When it’s time to relax, skip the TV and teach your child that taking a walk in nature, reading a book or drawing are great ways to unwind. Deep breathing is also an excellent practice to teach children of all ages.

3. Eat omega-3 brain food 
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are critical to a child’s brain development. They are called “essential” because we need them for optimal health. The problem is that our bodies cannot manufacture them and we can only get them from the food we eat or supplements we take. While fish, nuts and seaweed are good omega-3 sources, kids typically don’t gobble down these foods. That leaves many parents worried that their kids aren’t getting enough, and with omega-3 deficits linked to ADHD, dyslexia and other behavioral and psychological disorders, many are turning to supplements for their children. Experts agree that the safest, most reliable source of the most important essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) is a high quality fish oil supplement. Fortunately, there are purified, molecularly distilled fish oil supplements that are manufactured with kids in mind. Parents should be sure to choose one of these chewable, tasty options like those by Nordic Naturals to ensure success in getting their children to take the supplements. 

4. Happy brains are hydrated brains
Staying hydrated is important for growing brains and bodies. Water can improve energy, increase mental and physical performance, remove toxins and waste from the body, and keep skin healthy and glowing. Based on the trillions of cells in the body that need water to function, most nutritionists agree that children need more, not less H20. To estimate how many ounces of water your child should drink daily, divide his or her weight in half and aim for that number of ounces per day. 

5. Be a positive support system early on
Learning is a complex process, but children will be more open to trying new things when they know their parents believe in them. Acknowledging effort, instead of the outcome, strengthens a child’s belief in himself or herself. Teaching goal setting, prioritizing activities and working off of check lists exercises the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in the brain. Experimentation through trial and error is the way the brain learns best. 

“Giving your child’s brain what it needs to grow strong can help him or her at school and in all social situations,” adds Zimet. “Utilizing these tips is a great way to help position your child for success in the coming school year, and beyond.”

Collaborative online children’s storybook starts conversations about little-understood disease

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

For many families with children living with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a serious genetic disorder, this scene may be all too familiar. Scott’s story is a part of an online children’s storybook about a young boy with TSC as seen through the eyes of his favorite toy, a stuffed dog named Turbo.

This eBook, called “Turbo and Scott,” was developed to help foster discussion with kids, family members and friends about this complex disease in an accessible way. In addition to highlighting the duo’s everyday adventures, the story, written by children’s author John Grandits, addresses some of the challenges children with TSC may face, from frequent doctor visits to living with skin lesions and seizures.

Also known as tuberous sclerosis (TS), TSC affects approximately 25,000 to 40,000 people in the US and may cause noncancerous tumors to form in vital organs, including the brain, kidneys, heart, lungs and skin. The disease is associated with a variety of resulting disorders including seizures, developmental delays and life-threatening brain swelling (hydrocephalus). For both those living with the disease and their caregivers, TSC can often impact their quality of life.

“Facing the challenges of a TSC diagnosis on a daily basis can be stressful or even overwhelming, for the entire family,” said Kari Luther Rosbeck, President and CEO of TS Alliance, who authored the foreword of the TSC eBook. “‘Turbo and Scott’ will hopefully help alleviate some fears and encourage meaningful discussion about living with TSC.”

Collaborative%20online%20children%27s%20storybook%20starts%20conversations%20about%20little-understood%20diseaseThe eBook was sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and developed as part of a unique collaboration with input from patient advocates, a TSC-treating physician and several parents of kids with TSC. The TSC community contributed to the eBook, with parents submitting photographs of kids with TSC, and children with TSC developing original artwork, all of which are featured as illustrations in the eBook. The TSC eBook also features a “Note to Parents” authored by Dr. Robert Flamini, Director of TSC Clinic, Medical Director of The Children’s Epilepsy Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, who provided guidance on the TSC eBook.

In addition to the children’s story, the TSC eBook also features a “Q&A for Curious Kids” explaining key TSC facts and terms in child-friendly language, which may help parents answer difficult questions their children may have about the disease.

The TSC eBook is available free of charge at

Fast Facts about TSC:
 * Diseases with similar US prevalence rates include cystic fibrosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS).
* One-third of all patients with TSC genetically inherit the disease, while in the remaining patients, the disease is acquired as a result of spontaneous genetic mutation.
* Many patients show evidence of TSC in the first year of life; however, many cases are undiagnosed in infants due to mild forms of initial symptoms.

Caption 1: Kari Luther Rosbeck, President and CEO of TS Alliance, lends her support to Turbo and Scott and reads the eBook on a tablet.

Caption 2: Turbo and Scott is designed to encourage discussions between parents and children about Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.

New Resource Introduced for Families Living with ADHD

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

ADHD affects nearly 1 in 10 children in the U.S. between the ages of 4 and 17. While the specific causes of ADHD are unknown, there is evidence that it may have its basis in genetics. Children with ADHD may exhibit hyperactivity, impulsivity and have problems paying attention to tasks at hand. These symptoms often play out in the classroom setting.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus, CPCC, PCC, a writer and mother in an ADHD family of five and co-founder of ImpactADHD, an organization dedicated to helping and coaching parents of children with ADHD, says, “After years of trying to ‘normalize’ my child’s behavior, I finally accepted that she often had different needs. Of course, we had been managing those needs with therapies, nutrition plans, doctors, medication, etc., for years. But, I eventually realized that beyond treating the symptoms, I had to re-evaluate how I viewed my family and ask for support when I needed it.- ADHD is more than a clinical diagnosis, and families need practical tools at their disposal to manage the day-to-day challenges.”

If you would like to supplement your positive approach to raising a child with ADHD, check out Making Moments™ (available at, an online resource that features practical tips and strategies from experts specializing in education, sleep, coaching and parenting children with ADHD, sponsored by Pfizer. The Making Moments H.O.M.E. (Helping Our Moms and Dads Everyday) Team experts draw on their area of expertise as well as personal experience in working with children with ADHD to create short videos and articles. Ms. Taylor-Klaus is one of four H.O.M.E. Team experts who helps to navigate the challenges of the back to school transition and provides tips on setting up strong routines.

“Every parent will lose their cool sometimes, but speaking as a dad raising a child with ADHD, I’ve learned that one of the most important things I can do to relieve that stress is to remain calm in front of my child,” said another Making Moments expert, Kirk Martin, a father of a child with ADHD and the founder of Celebrate Calm, which provides parents, teachers and students practical, concrete strategies for emotional regulation, de-stressing and meditation. “Making Moments is a great collaboration of experts because the H.O.M.E. Team works together to pool our knowledge and help other families incorporate tactics that will supplement the positive approach that they are already taking.”

The Making Moments website addresses topics that may appeal to parents of children with ADHD as they ease back into the school year, such as:

* A Better Bedtime: Good Sleep Habits
* Suggestions for Building Strong Relationships with Teachers
* Setting Expectations
* Potential Methods to Manage Meltdowns

The H.O.M.E. Team is rounded out by Michele Borba, Ed.D. and Lisa Shives, M.D. Dr. Borba is a former special education teacher, renowned parenting expert and author of 22 books, including The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. Dr. Shives has been at the forefront of sleep health for nearly a decade, specializing in sleep problems in children and adolescents.

To watch videos and check out expert content, visit content will be updated, so check back.

Smart solutions for managing hectic family schedules during the school year

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

The increased demands of school time are even more complex for members of the sandwich generation – people who care for their own children while also caring for their aging parents. If you care for your kids and other loved ones, it’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed and confused.

No one knows this better than Julie Gilbert Newrai. Just weeks after she gave birth, her husband had a sudden stroke that required brain surgery. As she tried to juggle a career, parenthood, newborn day care and her husband’s rehabilitation, she became frustrated. After struggling to keep track of important information and getting put on hold when calling day care and medical centers, she created a solution.

She decided to look for ways technology would better help her manage her hectic life and founded PreciouStatus. The award-winning mobile technology used by day cares, hospitals and care centers allows loved ones to receive in-the-moment news via email. Users immediately know when children eat or how long they nap. For family members receiving medical care, users receive information when therapies are completed or medicine is received. Users even get photos, so Mom and Dad can get visual updates about little Jack’s field trip or Grandpa’s physical therapy progress.

Gilbert Newrai offers these tips for managing hectic schedules during the busy school year to ensure kids and families thrive.

1. Build a life infrastructure

Parents try to do it all, particularly women. That’s why it’s important to find a balanced approach to managing your work and home life. Map out what needs to be done each day and then make deals with your partner. Split the necessary to-do’s, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. It takes a village to raise a modern child, so help from friends and relatives is a necessity. Don’t beat yourself up over asking your friend to stop for milk on the way to your house or hiring a housecleaner once a month. You’ll be a better parent and better executive.

2. Create a cooking schedule

School means early breakfasts and bag lunches. Numerous studies show good nutrition supports healthy brains and bodies while also boosting the immune system, so be sure both you and your children eat plenty of nutrient-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables. Try choosing time during the weekend when life is a little less busy for a chop-and-cook session. Cut up veggies ahead of time and pop into individual containers for easy packing and snacking throughout the week. You can also use this time to prep weekday dinners so that when you get home from work, the basics are done and you just need to heat and garnish.

3. Utilize technology

Technology can help keep busy parents organized and sane. Use sharable online calendars to manage work and family schedules and never miss a deadline or start of a soccer game again. Make sure to synch your calendar to your spouse’s so you both stay in the loop. Ask day cares, schools and eldercare centers about PreciouStatus so you can better manage your loved ones’ days, even when you can’t be there. Pet parents enjoy PreciousPetStatus used at kennels, pet day cares and veterinary centers for mobile updates on their furry family members.

4. Bond with teachers and caregivers

It’s important to really know who is caring for your children and loved ones. Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher and your family’s nurses and other caregivers. Put a face with names and open the doors of conversation. Be positive and proactive by letting them know you want to hear from them, including both good and bad updates. Engaging with caregivers helps you be a better parent/family member and in return helps them feel valued. And don’t be afraid to recognize caregivers for a job well-done – good teachers and nurses deserve a pat on the back for going above and beyond.

How to know if your child could benefit from a tutor

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

For many parents, slipping grades and missed assignments can be sure signs that their child is in need of help academically. And whether your child needs assistance to get up to speed with the rest of the class or is looking for help to get ahead on their SAT’s, there are a variety of tutoring options available.

Keep the lines of communication open with your child’s school, recommends Amanda Bates, an English teacher and coordinator of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead, Calif. If your child seems to be struggling, reach out to his/her teacher and have a frank discussion about what you’re seeing at home and what they experience with your child in class to determine the areas your child needs help in and what the best course of action may be.

The drop of a single letter grade, diminishing enthusiasm about school or complaints that school is ‘too hard’ can all be signs that your student is dreading a particular class or subject, says Adriene White, center director for Sylvan Learning – Long Beach. The issues they are having can be clues that they need help with time management and study skills, test preparation or with a particular academic subject.

If your child is spending excessive amounts of time on homework, it could be a sign that he or she doesn’t understand the skill or concept needed to complete that homework, says Dr. Dominick P. Ferello a professor in the College of Undergraduate Studies at Argosy University, Tampa. If your child is laboring over words when reading out loud and can’t retell the story they just read in their own words, your child likely needs help with reading.

There is a range of tutoring options available to parents, says Bates. For some students, there may be a volunteer or specialist at the school who can assist with their needs. For those who may need help outside of the classroom, your child’s school or school district should be able to provide you with a list of private tutors and tutoring centers that can provide more in-depth assistance for your child outside of the school day.

The right tutor can make all the difference in the world when it comes to improving your child’s academic success, says Ferello.

Whether you seek out an individual tutor, or look into a tutoring service, the qualities you need to look for are the same, says White. First and foremost, the tutor should be properly trained in teaching to the individual. It’s also a fact that tutors who receive intensive and continuous training are more effective than tutors who don’t. Inquire about a tutor’s experience, credentials and specialties. Get references. Ask those other parents how the tutor performed.

Look for a tutor who does an assessment to help them understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses, says Ferello. Knowing where to start and what to focus on saves critical time when a child already is falling behind. Ongoing assessments throughout the course of your child’s tutoring also allow the instruction to be fine-tuned and personalized to your child’s specific individual needs.

A good tutor builds a rapport with their student, says Ferello. Learning takes place when your child is comfortable with his tutor and when you are comfortable with the approach they are taking.

Remember that a tutor doesn’t remove you as a parent from the learning process, says Bates. Stay involved, set goals for the tutoring experience and check in on your child’s progress. Once you’ve reached your goals, keep an eye on your child’s studies to make sure they stay on track academically.