Teens and Distracted Driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each day in the U.S. at least nine people lose their lives, and another 1,153 sustain injury in distracted driving accidents. In 2012 alone, distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,328 people and injured 421,000 more.

As the parent of a child who is currently at or approaching driving age, one of the most important things you can do is talk to your teen about distracted driving. Vehicle-related accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S., according to the federal government’s website on distracted driving (www.distraction.gov). Teenagers are also far more likely to text and drive, talk on a cell phone while driving or engage in other types of distracting activities behind the wheel. Approximately 16 percent of all distracted driving accidents involve teenage drivers.

Most Common Distractions Among Teenage Drivers

Although distracted driving laws vary from state to state, one thing is certain, anything that causes a driver to take his or her hands off the wheel, attention off the road or mind off the task of driving should be considered as a distraction. Some of the most common distractions among teenage drivers include:

  • Use of electronic devices (texting, talking on a cell phone, etc.)
  • Other teenage passengers
  • Adjusting controls (changing radio stations, switching CDs or using in-vehicle navigation)
  • Personal grooming
  • Eating or drinking
  • Reaching for an object

Use of an electronic device is predominately the most common distraction among teenage drivers, with female drivers being two times as likely to engage in this type of distracted driving behavior than are male drivers.

Minimizing Your Teen’s Chances of Being Involved in a Distracted Driving Accident

No parent wants their child to be involved in a car accident, regardless of whether he or she sustains serious injury. Fortunately, parents can take actions to help minimize their teen’s chances of being involved in a distracted driving accident.

According to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation, distracted driving behavior among teenage drivers varies significantly depending on the passengers he or she has in the vehicle. When at least one parent or another adult is in the vehicle, teen drivers are far less likely to use an electronic device. When a teenage sibling or peer is in the vehicle, the likelihood of electronic device use drops by 60 percent. Teen drivers who are allowed to drive with multiple teenage peers are twice as likely to engage in loud, distracting conversations and horseplay. Limiting who your newly licensed teen driver is allowed to transport can help minimize the risk of accident.

Another action parents can take is to download an app to their teen’s phone that can help block cell phone usage and prevent texting while driving. Consumer Reports features three such apps on their website. Encourage your teenager to eat either before getting behind the wheel or stop somewhere along the way, but do not eat or drink while driving. Make sure that if your teen is driving to a location he or she is unfamiliar with, the destination is pre-programmed into the in-vehicle navigation system.

Last, but not least, enroll your child in a driving school geared for teenage drivers. Many driving schools have tailored programs that will not only teach your teen how to become a safer, more responsible driver, but will teach defensive driving techniques and provide instruction on the dangers today’s teen drivers face.

Things You Need to Know as a New Driver

Before Getting on the Road

Whether you’re a teenager who’s just gotten the keys to the family car, or someone who has learned to drive later in life, it’s important to prioritize safety above all. As you gain experience, safe habits will become a reflex—but until then, take a look at the tips we’ve compiled that will make you a safer and more confident new driver. Remember, being a good driver actually begins before you even pull out of the driveway.

  • You need to keep a few vital things in your glove box: first, your registration, which you’ll need along with your license if you get pulled over or are in an accident. In case of an accident, you also need to have your insurance information handy, and you may want to print out a contact-information emergency card. Detroit’s trusted law firm also suggests keeping a car accident checklist, which will tell you what immediate steps to take following a collision.

  • Check that your car is in good working order: functional lights, working turn signals, and tires inflated properly. Similarly, make sure you know how to do basic maintenance on your car—nothing fancy, but you should at least know how to pump gas, check the oil, and change a tire. If you don’t know how to do these things, many communities offer adult education courses that will teach you.

  • Adjust your mirrors to minimize your blind spots, and be certain that you and your passengers are all wearing seatbelts.

Tips for Safe Driving

Once you’ve taken care of those items, you’re ready to hit the road:

Drive defensively. This means paying attention to other drivers, and being considerate of them. Being safe is more important than being “right”—so take care when merging, passing and turning, even if you have right of way. Don’t succumb to road rage if another driver does make a mistake; it isn’t worth the danger of a confrontation.

Remember always to use signals when turning, and to check your mirrors when passing. Other drivers should be able to anticipate what you’re going to do next.

Stay focused. According to the CDC, in 2012 3,328 people died in accidents involving a distracted driver. To avoid being part of statistics like that one, keep both hands on the wheel, and your eyes on the road. This means no phone calls, no texting, no eating—essentially, do nothing that takes your mind off the most important task at hand: driving safely.

Never drive under the influence—drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs are deadly to themselves and others. Sometimes being a good driver simply means not driving: you can always ask someone sober to drive, call a cab, or stay at a friend’s.

Follow the speed limit, and adjust according to weather conditions. Not only is it illegal to speed, it’s also dangerous for everyone on the road. Moreover, those limits do not take rain, snow or ice into account—in those conditions, take extra care and slow down.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,154 people in the U.S. died in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers in 2013. This was a 6.7% increase over the distracted driving deaths of the previous year. In addition to the fatalities, approximately 424,000 people suffered injuries in distracted driving accidents – 3,000 more than the prior year.

Any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving endangers motorists and bystanders, according to NHTSA. Although talking on cell phones and texting are common distractions in this electronic age, distracted driving can take many other forms. It can involve:

  • Talking to passengers
  • Dealing with children
  • Grooming
  • Eating or drinking
  • Adjusting the radio, CD player, or MP3 player
  • Watching a video
  • Smoking
  • Using the navigation system
  • Reading a map or other materials
  • Searching for something in the vehicle

Distracted Driving and New Technology

As covered in a CNN Money article, Apple has developed a new CarPlay system that will allow drivers to dictate text messages, make hands-free calls, and access a number of other iPhone functions while driving. According to the article, Apple claims that this technology will increase safety by allowing drivers to access their phones without taking their eyes off the road.

However, the National Safety Council is concerned that this technology means more distraction for drivers – not less. Even hands-free and eyes on the road, there is still the cognitive distraction that must occur when a driver is focused on any activity other than driving.

Teen Distracted Driving

Teens are notorious for texting while driving, but according to the National Safety Council, the distraction of having other teenagers in the vehicle is an even greater risk. The council reports that research has shown that crash risk for a teen driver increases by 44% with a single teen passenger in the car. That study, conducted by the AAA Foundation, found that crash risk doubles for a teen driver carrying 2 passengers less than 21 years of age and quadruples with 3 passengers under the age of 21 with no adult passenger in the car.

The risk of accidents with this type of distraction is so significant that many states have passed laws to prevent it. Graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs in most states prohibit or restrict teen drivers in the provisional licensing phase (after the learner’s permit phase) from carrying teens as passengers when they drive.

Legal Options for Distracted Driving Accident Victims

All drivers have a duty to other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to exercise reasonable care. When a driver is distracted from the important task of safely operating a motor vehicle and causes an accident as a result, that driver is negligent and may be held liable for injuries sustained in the accident.

If you have been hurt in a traffic crash caused by a distracted driver, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. At The Law Office of David E. Gordon P.C., for example, lawyers can investigate your accident to determine who was at fault, assess the full extent of your injuries, and aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve.

Do You Know Your Kid’s Friends?

Is your child under the influence of a friend that is involved in drugs, alcohol, skipping school, underage sexual activity and other problem behaviors? As a parent, you want the best for your child, and we all hope our children will make the right choices – and they often do. Although parents should not be obsessive about controlling every detail of a child’s life, there are actions that can be taken that will help you protect your child.

Meet the Parents

If your child has special friends, take the time to meet the parents. Invite them to your home for a casual get-together, or engage them in conversation at school functions. Find out more about them. When people come to your home, problem areas can become very evident, such as over-consumption of alcohol or other types of behaviors.

If your child, whether a teen or younger child, is planning on spending the night, a vacation or extended time with another family, you need to know more about the family than just the address and phone number. Call and speak with the parents. If you have serious concerns, you can run a background check on the parents. This can be helpful if you have recently moved into a new area and have not had time to get to know families in the community. The background check will reveal any arrest data or criminal history.

Make Friends

Make your home a welcoming place for your child’s friends. Providing good snacks is always popular with hungry young people. Don’t constantly hover, but do check in from time to time, and listen to the conversation. Learn their names. Be friendly. You can get a good general idea about your child’s friends by listening to the conversation.

As our children enter the “tween” and teen years, they are starting the journey towards adulthood. They want to make more of their own decisions, and don’t want to be treated like a child – and yet they are children. This puts parents in an awkward position, and making the transition successfully can make a big difference in your child’s future.

Adolescents can lash out at their parents, or can become withdrawn and uncommunicative. Breaking through the wall and getting back into good communication with your child is crucial during this stage of development. If they are not in communication with you, they will find someone to fill the void – and it may not be healthy. Overcome your own frustration, and treat your teenager with respect. The “golden rule” is the best guiding principle. Treat your child how you would like to be treated. He or she is learning how to act directly from you, and you set the example.

During the teenage years, friends are even more important, and more influential. What they think, say and do may put your child at risk, and you, as a parent, must have the ability to find out more about these close associations. There are several simple ways you can get information about your child’s friends. One of the easiest methods is to look over social media accounts. Check out the Facebook page and Instagram account to review the comments, photos and other information that has been posted. This information can be very revealing.

You can continue to be the person with the greatest influence, even for children in their teen years. Honest communication is critical. You want your child to be honest with you, but he or she won’t be if there is a constant fear of punishment. Be your child’s best friend.

Remember – your child is a unique individual, and has his or her own ideas, opinions and beliefs. Guide, communicate and engage with them, and make your home a safe place in which they can express themselves.

Thankfully, the majority of children make good decisions about friendships.

Winter Driving vs. Spring Driving – What to Keep in Mind

Winter and spring driving are different, requiring very different different driver skillsets, especially when you have children in the car.

How to Stay Safe When Driving in Winter

Winter is a beautiful time of year. It can also be a very dangerous, particularly for drivers who operating vehicles on icy, snowy or rainy roadways. Before you embark on any winter driving trip, there are a few points to keep in mind to stay safe:

  • Make sure your vehicle is up-to-date on its routine maintenance
  • Equip your vehicle with snow tires, or use chains when necessary
  • Clear away all snow and ice off your car before heading out
  • Slow down and give yourself extra time to get where you need to go
  • Exercise caution, particularly when weather conditions or snow banks limit your visibility
  • Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you, so you have sufficient time to brake
  • Do not engage your cruise control, so that you can maintain control over your vehicle
  • Drive with your headlights on as visibility is often decreased during winter
  • Make sure you have an emergency kit in your car
  • Learn what to do if your vehicle begins to skid or slide in icy conditions
  • Keep at least half a tank of gas or more in your vehicle at all times during the winter months

Safety Tips When Driving in Spring

When springtime comes around, most drivers feel they can relax and stop worrying about the dangers they faced when driving in winter. Follow these tips for spring driving to keep yourself and your passengers out of harm’s way:

  • After winter, do a basic check to see that your lights, brakes, tires and other vehicle components are all in working order
  • Make sure you have the right tires on your vehicle, i.e. remove snow tires
  • Slow down when it is misty or raining, as roads will be slippery
  • Turn your fan on can help keep your windshield free of built-up moisture
  • Use your low beams when traveling through fog
  • Be wary of floods caused by melting snow and excessive rain
  • As the weather warms, more and more people will be out and about, so you will have to watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists

Keep in mind is that you can minimize your risk of driver distractions in any season, by putting your cell phone away, making changes to your GPS before you leave, and avoiding activities which require you to take your visual, manual or cognitive attention off the road.

If you are involved in a winter or spring car accident, obtain legal representation from a Rhode Island car accident lawyer right away. A skilled lawyer can significantly improve your chances of determining the true cause of your accident, so that you can pursue just compensation for your injuries and loss.

What to Look For When You’re Choosing a Car Seat for Your Child

Choosing right car seat for your child is an important task. There are various car seat recalls, car seats for various ages and sizes of children, and varying prices. Correct installation can prove to be a little more difficult than expected as well. It is crucial that you select the right car seat for your child – and it must meet federal safety regulations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is making efforts to help parents more easily find and purchase a safe car seat.

The first step is to understand the age and size recommendations for your child. Car seats are manufactured for children from the time of birth through to age 13. You must choose the car seat that fits your child’s weight and age. Not every car seat will fit in every vehicle, and if you own a smaller car or have limited space in the rear seat, you will need to be more careful about the style and model you choose, and should test the product or access the manufacturer’s website for information before you buy.

Baby Car Seats

All baby car seats are back-facing, include a harness, and are manufactured to move with the child should a car accident occur, and protect the delicate neck and spinal cord areas. Your baby will grow out of this car seat by about 8 or 9 months of age. Some of the car seats on the market will grow with your child, and can be easier on the wallet, allowing you to add or change components as the child grows. Keep your child in the rear-facing seat as long as possible – it is safer.

Child Car Seats

Depending upon the age of your child, he or she may require a forward facing booster-style seat, or a rear-facing seat. Carefully read the specifications of the car seat before you purchase. The wrong size or type of car seat can put your child in danger if you are involved in a car accident.


There are many car seats that have been recalled over the years. These seats can be returned for repairs, which the manufacturer will complete at no charge. It is important for parents to be aware of any car seat recalls, particularly if you have purchased a used car seat, or are using a seat that your older children used. A recall in 2014 of 7.4 million car seats with defective buckles resulted in only 40% of these seats being sent for repair.

You should register your car seat, even if you purchased it used, with the NHTSA so you are alerted if that model has been or is later recalled. Some of the car seat recalls in the past ten years include models produced by Baby Trend, Graco, Britax, Chicco, Cosco, Combi, Dorel, Eddie Bauer, DJG, Maxi-Cosi, Alpha Elite, Evenflo, Miamoda, Orbit, Peg Perego, Recaro, Cybex, and other manufacturers. Be informed by accessing information about current and past car seat recall notices at safercar.gov. Not all models from a manufacturer may have been recalled, and you will need to find the model number on the car seat to determine whether it is safe to use.

Connect with an attorney such as James M. Poe, P.C. if your child was injured and you need legal help to seek justice.

Do Your Children Know What to Do in Case of a Fire?

More than 320 children aged 14 and younger were killed in fires and more than 100,000 were injured in 2011, according to FEMA. Of all children under the age of 19, those under 4 were at the greatest risk and represented 47% of all deaths. The Red Cross offers tips on how to prevent fires in the first place, but if a fire did start in your home, would your children know what to do? Here are lifesaving steps that you can review and practice with your children that will help secure their safety in the event of a fire.

Get Down and Stay Down

Smoke rises, so in the event of a fire, teach your children to position their bodies as low to the ground as possible while still remaining mobile. Of course, children are smaller than adults, but they should still be taught to pay special attention to keeping their heads low. Smoke and the toxins produced by the fire injure more people than do the flames themselves. So, crawling across the floor will help them avoid breathing in the smoke. This is an easy step to practice, and the more familiar they are with the proper technique, the better chance they will have of escaping the fire.

If your children are inside of a room with a closed door, instruct them to feel the door and door handle first before attempting to open it. If the door is hot or smoke is seeping in, warn them not to open the door. Instead, instruct them to use an alternate escape route, such as a window. If the door and door handle are not hot, they should open the door slightly and very slowly. If smoke or flames are visible, the door should be closed immediately and the alternate escape route should be used instead. Just as with practicing the crawl, show your children how to check the door and practice the steps with them.

If they do not see smoke or fire when they open the door, they should begin crawling toward the primary exit. While crawling through the home, show them how to keep one hand on the wall. It will allow them to keep better track of where they are, and will minimize the possibility of disorientation.

Get Out and Stay Out

It sounds obvious, but in situations of heightened emotion it can be difficult to think clearly, especially for young children. If a fire starts in your home, get yourself and your family out immediately. Instruct your children not to return to the home in an effort to secure material possessions, or even pets, regardless of how small and nonthreatening the fire may appear. A home can be completely engulfed in flames in just five minutes, so if they reenter a burning building, chances of survival or avoiding catastrophic burn injuries are greatly diminished. Additionally, the heat and smoke can render them completely debilitated, even if they don’t feel the fire itself is a threat. Once debilitated, they won’t be able to leave the home unaided.

The American Red Cross offers a Home Fire Escape Plan template, and suggests all families complete one together, identify two exits from any location in the home, and practice fire drills monthly. When a fire starts in your home, you have precious little time to act, so knowing what to do ahead of time could literally save the lives of yourself and your children.

How To Properly Pack Your Kid’s Lunch

Parents generally want their children to eat a healthy lunch at school. While many schools offer a hot lunch option to students, some parents would rather prepare and pack their kid’s lunch at home. Those who do may try to be safe by putting their kid’s lunch in an insulated lunch bag to keep it cold until it is time for their child to eat.

A recent test conducted by the KATU Problem Solvers revealed a potentially dangerous health risk posed by insulated lunch bags, a risk most parents may not realize exists. After conducting multiple tests on three different insulated bags, manufactured by three separate companies, this is what KATU found after just one hour:

  • The first test revealed that none of the bags were able to keep the contents (which consisted of a turkey sandwich, an apple, a pack of goldfish snacks and a thermometer) at a safe temperature, 40 degrees or below.
  • The second test involved adding all new contents, along with an ice pack into the bags. Again, none of the bags kept the food at a safe temperature.

USDA Recommendations on Perishable Foods

As the USDA states perishable foods cannot be left out in temperatures above 40 °F for more than two hours, less if the ambient temperature rises above 90 °F, it does not appear that an insulated lunch bag is able to do the job parents expect. Most children eat lunch at least three hours after they arrive at school. Unless their lunch bag is able to be stored in some type of refrigerated container, neither an insulated lunch bag nor an ice pack is going to keep their food cold enough.

Keeping Your Child’s “Sack Lunch” Cold and Safe to Eat

The following recommendations can be used as a guide to help you properly pack your kid’s lunch so the food will remain cold and safe for him or her to eat:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before you start preparing and packing your child’s lunch.
  • Keep all food preparation areas clean.
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils to avoid cross contamination and the spread of harmful bacteria.
  • Prepare your child’s lunch only using foods that have been stored at the correct temperatures.
  • Prepare only what you think your child will eat. You don’t want your child wasting food nor do you want him or her storing uneaten, perishable food.
  • Obtain a lunch bag with a freezable gel built into all surfaces of the bag. If you are unable to do this, it may be okay to use an insulated bag as long as you surround all perishable food items by two or more frozen gel packs to keep the food cold. (NOTE: Be sure the packs do not touch the surface of the food item itself.)
  • Use warm water and soap to clean out all reusable lunch bags, every day after use.

If you feel are unable to properly pack your child’s lunch so perishable food items remain at 40 °F or below, you may want to consider having your child buy lunch at school. Check with your child’s school to find out what type of nutritious lunch options are available.


Medication and Vitamin Tips to Prevent Kids From Getting Into Them

If you look in the kitchen and bathroom cabinets of most homes, you are likely to find at least one bottle containing vitamins, over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs. While many people don’t think twice about having medications and vitamins in their homes, these items can pose a potentially serious or fatal risk to young children.

Children are naturally inquisitive. They like to explore and get into cabinets, closets and “hiding places” to see what they can find. If you have kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews or other children who frequent your home, it is very likely they have seen you take your medication or vitamins, or at least know where you keep the bottles.

As the World Health Organization states that approximately 13 percent of all fatal, accidental poisonings worldwide are caused as a result of acute poisoning to children under the age of 20, it is vital you take preventative action to prevent kids from getting into your medication and vitamin bottles. The following safety tips could help prevent a tragic accident:

Store All Vitamins and Medication Out of Sight

Many people store their vitamin and medication bottles on shelves and in cabinets where they will be easily accessible. This is a mistake. If you can see the bottles and easily reach them, it is likely your kids can too. Store all vitamins and medication out of sight. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

When visitors or guests arrive at your home, offer them a safe place to store any vitamins or medications and advise them of the importance of keeping such items kept out of sight and out of reach. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 43 percent of the emergency room visits for medicine poisoning trace back to a child getting into medication belonging a relative.

Never Leave Bottles Out

As soon as you take your vitamins or medication, be sure to secure the lids on tightly and put the bottles away. Never leave bottles sitting out on a counter, table or out in the open where kids may be tempted to open them, try them or even play with them. Even so-called “child-resistant” caps are not completely child-proof. You do not want your child accidently ingesting something which could cause him or her serious harm.

Dispense Medications Safely

In the event your children requires a certain type of prescription or over-the-counter medication, it is important you dispense the medication to him or her safely.

  • Read the label fully before dispensing any medication.
  • Use only the dosing device provided with the medication.
  • Never give more medication than recommended on the label.
  • Do not give your child more than one medication at the time. In the event your doctor prescribes multiple medications, be sure to confirm the medications are compatible and there is no risk of overdose or adverse reaction, before dispensing to your child.

Talk to Your Kids

Last, but not least, talk to your kids about the dangers of using vitamins or medication that does not belong to or has not been specifically prescribed to them. Even when your child is prescribed medication, he or she needs to know that it is not something to be taken at any time.

Once your kids understand the importance of being cautious with vitamins and medications, it will go a long way towards preventing them from getting into it.


Teach Your Children How to Behave Around Aggressive Pups

Every year in the United States, an estimated 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs. Of that number, nearly 450,000 are children who require medical attention, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Many factors contribute to those high numbers, including inadequate training and containment, and aggressive treatment of the dog. But, lack of awareness about how to behave around dogs is also a risk factor, and it’s a key reason why so many children end up in the emergency room. Teach your children the proper way to behave around dogs, and you can prevent them from being bitten.

Move with Caution

The single most effective way your child can reduce his chance of being attacked by a strange dog is to avoid approaching it at all if it is exhibiting signs of aggression. The ASPCA provides a list of common behaviors in dogs that should be viewed as aggressive, including snapping, snarling, growling, and guttural barks. Review those signs with your child, and instruct him not to approach a dog if it is behaving aggressively. If your child and the dog are already in close proximity to one another, advise him not make sudden movements that may trigger a defensive response on the dog’s part. Also, though the child may be frightened, instruct him not to run away, as that signals to the dog that it should give chase.

If you are with your child and see an aggressive dog, you will feel protective, but do not use sudden movement to pick up the child. Already aggressive dogs may view that as threatening behavior, and then attack. Instead, position yourself between the child and the dog. The dog will likely view that as protective pack behavior, and the chance of an attack will diminish.

Your own dog may view your child squatting down as being a friendly gesture, but an aggressive dog who is unfamiliar with him will see it as a subservient move. So, tell your child to remain upright, and stand still with his arms at his sides. If your child is already on the ground, advise him to position his body face down.

Watch Your Tone

Dogs cannot understand what we are saying, but they do recognize tone and volume, often using those as cues to signal a behavior choice. If a dog in your child’s vicinity is showing signs of aggression, remind your child to remain calm, lower the volume and tone of his voice, and speak in a relaxed, reassuring manner. Your child will be scared, and may want to scream or get otherwise loud, but that behavior triggers a negative response, particularly in a dog that is already scared.

The Eyes Have It

Direct eye contact is considered by dogs to be confrontational, so warn your child not to look directly at an aggressive dog. He’ll need to stay aware of the dog’s position, but should do so without looking directly at it. Explain to your child what is meant by peripheral vision, practice the technique together, and let him know to keep track of an aggressive dog’s movements in that way.

Don’t Smile

A common reaction children have to heightened emotions is to smile nervously. However, the baring of teeth is viewed by dogs as decidedly threatening behavior. So, warn your child not to smile if he finds himself being confronted by an aggressive dog. The goal is to be perceived by the dog as being a non-threat.


Regardless of how nonthreatening your child tries to appear, unfortunately, a dog may attack anyway. However, your child’s best chance of avoiding injury is to follow the tips listed and attempt to get the dog to lose interest in him. Once it does, tell your child to slowly back away until he has achieved enough of a distance to turn and walk away. After he has successfully removed himself from the situation, notify the local animal control center.

Safely Enrolling Your Children in Sports

Organized sports provide countless opportunities for personal growth, especially in young children. Sports instill a sense of sportsmanship, promote physical health, and they can be a great way for children to develop social skills and lifelong friendships. However, the biggest drawback of participating in sports is the potential for injury. Enrolling your children in reputable sports programs that are age appropriate can do much to help them avoid injuries while still taking advantage of all the benefits sports have to offer. Here are more tips on how to help your children safely enjoy organized sports.

Physical Exam

Prior to signing up your child for sports, make an appointment for a sports physical. The examination will typically involve two parts, a review of the child and family’s medical history, and the physical examination itself. The primary reason why a physical is important prior to enrollment in any sport is that it’s necessary to determine whether or not your child is physically and emotionally ready to engage in the sport he wants to play. Sometimes, parents enroll their children while they’re too young, and other times, the sport that is chosen simply isn’t a good fit. So, a physical will help you match your child with the most appropriate sport for his ability and age.

The Right Organization

Before allowing your child to play in an organized sport, make sure the organization itself is reputable. The sports group should demonstrate an active commitment to prevention of injury. Its staff should also be trained in first aid and only allow properly protected and equipped children to participate. If safety is not the number one concern of the sports organization, consider enrolling your child elsewhere.

Safety Gear

In the event that you’ve enrolled your child in a sport that requires safety gear, such as helmets and pads, purchase the highest quality equipment you can afford. If you’re unsure about which brands manufacture the best safety gear, ask the coach or other staff member for guidance. A well-made and properly adjusted helmet can make all the difference when it comes to severity of head injuries. Regardless of whether you purchase the equipment or it is provided by the team, inspect each piece for integrity every time, before allowing your child to play.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Ensuring your child’s safety while playing sports doesn’t end with choosing the right sport, organization and equipment. Once practice begins, you will need to remain vigilant in ensuring that he is as safe as possible. To that end, have him make a habit of warming up and cooling down. Reputable coaches representing reputable sports organizations will always insist their players warm up and cool down prior to and after any game or practice session. Regardless of whether your child participates in summer or winter sports, five minutes of light exercise and stretches can help prevent muscle strains and pulls, and myriad other sports-related injuries.

Take Breaks

Warming up and cooling down before and after the game is important, but so is what happens during the game. Children should take water breaks every 20 minutes, and they should be monitored for signs of overexertion. Exhaustion and muscle fatigue can easily lead to injury.


Enrolling your children in sports can be one of the best decisions you make for them, but conversely, it can end up being one of the worst if he becomes injured. By following some common sense tips relative to choosing the right sport, sports organization, and equipment, and ensuring that your child warms up, cools down, hydrates, and rests, you will be doing your part to ensure that his time playing youth sports is memorable for all the right reasons.

Is Your Child Car Seat Installed Correctly to Prevent Injury in a Winter Weather Collision?

When the roads are covered with ice or snow, motorists are more likely to run into another car or slide off the road, making it critically important to make sure your child safety seat is properly installed to protect your child.

The emphasis must be placed on proper installation because almost three out of four child restraint seats aren’t installed correctly, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Take time to learn what type of seat best suited for your child based on age and size and how to install the seat correctly. The installation may vary, depending on the type of car you drive so review the section of your vehicle owner’s manual about car seat installation. Many states motor vehicle offices offer inspections to make sure car seats are properly installed.

Preventing Fatalities

Car crashes are the number one cause of child deaths nationwide and no matter what time of year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that child safety seats reduce car accident fatalities for infants by 71 percent and 54 percent for toddlers.

For a better understanding of car seat safety, it’s helpful to review the basic seat types:

  • Rear facing car seat: Considered safest for young children, as they are equipped with a harness. In case of a collision, they can cradle the child’s body and move slightly to reduce the stress to the neck and spine.
  • Infant car seats, which are used as carriers also, face the rear only and are designed for newborns and small children. They should never be installed facing forward. Look for a label saying the seat meets motor vehicle safety standards. Babies usually outgrow these portable seats by 8 or 9 months of age
  • Convertible seats can be switched from rear facing to forward facing and come equipped with harness and tether. They are excellent for fast growing children, but for those who grow at a slow rate, they can remain rear facing and provide more protection.
  • All in one seats can be adjusted for rear facing and forward facing positions, since they come with a harness and tether, but they can also be turned into a booster seat as children get bigger.
  • Forward facing seat: These come equipped with a harness and tether that keep children from moving forward in a wreck.
  • Convertible seats, combination seats, and all in one seats can be used in the forward facing position.
  • Booster seats: These allow a seat belt to be positioned properly over the strong part of a child’s body.
  • Booster seats with high backs make the child sit up higher to ensure the seat belts fit over the body correctly, giving support to the neck and head. It is excellent for vehicles not equipped with head rests or high seat backs.
  • Backless booster seats elevate the child to make the seat belts fit correctly, but they don’t provide support for the head and neck, making them suitable for vehicles with head rests.
  • Combination seats provide the child a transition from a forward facing seat equipped with a harness into a booster seat.
  • All in one seats encompass all three types of seats.
  • Seat belts should be positioned across the child’s upper thighs and snugly across the shoulder and chest to keep the child restrained in case of a wreck. Seat belts shouldn’t rest on the stomach or run across the neck or face.

Correct Installation is Key

  • Read your car seat’s instruction manual and the section of your vehicle owner’s manual dealing with installation of car seats. Lower anchors must be used on all seats. If you use a seat belt to secure the child restraint seat, check closely on how your seat belt locks by checking the manual.
  • Put the car seat in your vehicle’s back seat and follow the instruction manual closely.
  • Make sure it is secured tightly. In the event your car slides off an icy road, you don’t want the car seat slide from side to side or forward more than an inch.
  • For forward facing seats with a tether, connect its anchor and tighten it to keep your child’s head from moving too far forward in a wreck.
  • For rear facing seats, ensure it is installed at the proper recline angle. Most are equipped with built in angle guidelines to allow for adjustments.

Check the Child’s Fit

  • Position the harness so straps lie flat on a rear facing seat and forward facing seat and are placed through slots at the shoulders.
  • Buckle the harness and chest clip and tighten so the harness is snug enough that extra material can’t be pinched in the shoulder area.
  • The chest clip should be at the armpit level.
  • Remember, proper installation and fitting is essential to make a child’s seat function correctly.

This post brought to you by Sansone & Lauber

Image originally by Snibban at Wikimedia Commons

Holiday Travel: Get There Safely

According to the United States Department of Transportation, more than 90 percent of all holiday travel is by car. During the period between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the average road trip is 275 miles. For adults traveling with children, a road trip that long can lead to a lot of stress and distractions behind the wheel. Luckily, there are smart, savvy strategies you can employ that will help lower the risk of distractions while you’re on the road. Follow these tips to keep your family safe, and prevent them from becoming part of the 27,000 people who are injured and hundreds more who die in car accidents during the holidays every year.

Is Your Car Road Ready?

If you are driving your own vehicle, have it checked out by a qualified mechanic before you head out. A common cause of accidents is vehicle malfunction, which includes both the engine and tires. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 78,000 car accidents occur every year as a result of blow outs or flat tires alone. So, make sure that your car is road ready and your tires are properly inflated.

Check Car Seat Installation

As many as 8 out of 10 car seats are improperly installed, so confirm that yours isn’t one of them. The NHTSA lists detailed installation instructions for all car seat types. It’s worth a look to ensure that your children are properly secured.

Strategic Placement

Pack and store everything you will need so that it is easily accessible during the trip. Consider snacks, drinks, blankets, books, medications, and anything else you and your family will need to access. The more convenient the items, the less rummaging around you’ll have to do as the driver, and the fewer stops you’ll have to make.

Emergency Preparedness

You likely have at least a minimal emergency kit in your car year round. But, when travelling long distances, especially in inclement weather and with children, the kit should be upgraded to include items such as extra blankets and water. The American Red Cross has provided comprehensive emergency and first aid kit checklists on their website that serve as excellent resources.

Stock Up

Snacks will help keep you focused on the road because they will minimize the distractions associated with hunger. But, pack enough of everything for everyone, so there’s no fighting, and choose wisely because the wrong snacks can lead to unmanageable energy spikes and sticky, wet messes. Take along foods that are high in protein and low in sugar, like turkey jerky, trail mix, and cheese wedges. The protein will make them feel fuller, and you won’t have to worry too much about cleaning up.

Keep Them Busy

Snacks are one way to keep distractions to a minimum, but kids need something to do in the car as well. Just as with snacks, however, choose wisely. Noisy toys, balls, and toy guns will have the opposite effect you’re looking for, but handheld electronics, books, and other single-person oriented activities will keep the children distracted and discourage them from arguing and fighting.

Road trips can be exhausting and dangerous, especially if you’re unprepared and regularly being distracted by kids. But, with a little advanced preparation and savvy thinking, a potentially dangerous trip can turn into a fun, safe adventure for the whole family.

Mild TBIs Affect Entire Families for Lifetimes

While many people may consider concussions or other types of mild traumatic brain injuries to be relatively minor injuries, any head trauma is capable of having a long-lasting impact not only on the victim, but on his or her family as well.

Recovery following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be a long and sometimes confusing process, particularly when a child with TBI is involved. It is for this reason caregivers and loved ones should educate themselves on brain injuries, so they have an understanding on what to expect and can begin to adjust to the new responsibilities they will take on.

As the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) reminds us, “Brain injury rehabilitation is a marathon and not a sprint.” Families need to be prepared to go the distance to provide their loved one with the level of quality care he or she requires during the recovery process.

Fortunately, there are a number of groups geared toward providing TBI caregivers with unwavering compassion and support.

The Effect a TBI Can Have on a Victim’s Family and Loved Ones

Family members and loved ones of a TBI victim may begin to experience feelings of being overwhelmed, burden, stress, anxiety, resentment, anger and even depression. Rest assured that this is quite common.

With TBIs, a lot can change in the blink of an eye. An individual who was outgoing, energetic and communicative prior to sustaining a TBI may suddenly become withdrawn, aggressive and unwilling to interact with others.

Individuals who suffer TBIs in car accidents, falls or sports-related injuries may experience a wide variety of physical cognitive and psychological symptoms. These are just a few of the symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Personality changes.
  • Memory problems.
  • Learning difficulties.
  • Shortened attention span.
  • Coordination problems.
  • Difficulties with speech.
  • Weakness.
  • Paralysis, partial or full.
  • Lack of empathy toward others.
  • Inability to control emotions.
  • Aggression or irritability.
  • Mood swings.
  • Depression.

Research has proven the ease with which a TBI victim achieves recovery and is able to be reintegrated into the community is in direct correlation to the level of support he or she has from family and friends, according to Brainline. In this type of situation, family-centered care is an integral part of rehabilitation and recovery.

While there is no surefire way to fully prepare for these types of situations, patience and compassion are key during such difficult times.

Strategies to Help Caregivers Cope and Alleviate Stress

Family members and other caregivers often find themselves having to do tasks the TBI victim is no longer able to do on his or her own. While balancing a checkbook, making dinner, helping the kids with homework, doing laundry and other everyday tasks may seem mundane, it is this type of activities which can lead to extra stress and strain on caregivers.

TBI caregivers need to realize the importance of learning how to cope with their new situation and finding a way to alleviate their own personal stress. If you are worn out, irritable or frustrated, those emotions will have a negative impact on your loved one.

A mild TBI victim needs all the help, compassion and support you can provide. The following strategies may be used to help you adjust to your role as caregiver and alleviate any stress you may be feeling:

  • Take time for yourself. Caregivers should never attempt to provide care to another when they are physically or emotionally exhausted. Sharing responsibilities with another family member or opting for in-home assistance can help eliminate compassion fatigue.
  • Never ignore feelings of depression or anxiety. Support groups can help you understand your role, cope with the problems you face and alleviate concerns.
  • Maintain a regular schedule as much as possible. This will not only provide stability for your loved one, but it will allow you to tend to your personal needs as well.
  • You do not have to go through this alone. Insist that you get the assistance and support you need.

Mild TBIs will usually have more of an effect on a family’s life than they may have originally thought. Working together, obtaining support and following recommended medical treatments and rehabilitation programs can help you find the proper balance needed to enable a proper recovery.

Brain Injury Association of America – Family & Caregivers
Brain Injury Association of America – Choosing the Right Caregiver Support Group
Family Caregiver Alliance – Traumatic Brain Injury
Brainline – Caregiving & Brain Injury

’Tis the Season to Shop and Celebrate Safely

As we shop and choose gifts for young children this holiday season, it is wise to remember that not all toys are made to be as safe as they should be. Don’t let your family’s celebration be ruined by child injuries due to defective products.

As the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states:

“Protecting children from unsafe toys is the responsibility of everyone. Careful toy selection and proper supervision of children at play is still – and always will be – the best way to protect children from toy-related injuries.”

The children who receive your gifts will be happiest if you choose toys that are appropriate for their age, interests and skill levels. They will stay safe if you follow these tips compiled from the CPSC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), WebMd, SafeKids and HealthCommunities.com:

1. Give gifts for the ages.

Some toys are designed for older children and have parts that can be dangerous for younger kids. These include toys with sharp edges, heating elements, small pieces, detachable parts or strings or cords that can be choking hazards.

Teach older kids to keep such toys out of smaller children’s hands. Also, keep in mind: Older children bored by toys intended for younger kids can be injured if they seek unintended uses for unchallenging toys. Discourage such misuse.

2. Check the country of origin.

The reality is that some other countries have lax manufacturing standards and export toys that contain lead, including brightly painted toys from Pacific Rim countries, particularly China; ceramic or pottery toys manufactured outside of the U.S. and Europe; and jewelry, especially metal jewelry. Soft vinyl toys can also contain toxins, including lead.

3. Wrap up wrapping paper.

As each gift is opened, dispose of plastic wrap and other toy packaging promptly. Promptly place small pieces of paper, tape, Styrofoam peanuts and other packaging materials into a trash bag and away from small children.

4. Remember: Not so LOUD!

Noise-making toys like guns, musical instruments, electronics and even rattles and squeak toys for small kids can damage hearing if they are too loud and too close to a child’s ear. Some loud toys should only be played with outside of the home. Instruct older children about proper volume levels for music players, especially those with earbuds.

5. Respect the power source.

Make sure a child is responsible enough before giving an electric toy to him or her. Electrical products of all kinds, including chargers and adapters, pose dangers such as electric shock and burns – especially if the product has a heating element. These toys are also likely to pose mechanical hazards like sharp edges and points and dangerous moving parts. Infants and toddler should be kept away from electrical toys.

6. Beware of batteries.

Button batteries are a choking and swallowing hazard. A tiny battery won’t simply “pass.” A small child who swallows a button battery can suffer chemical burns in as little as two hours. Supervise older children when changing toy batteries and discard old batteries properly.

7. Identify flying objects.

Darts, rockets, bow-and-arrow sets, BB guns and similar items really can put someone’s eye out. Instruct children in proper play with these types of toys, including never aiming them at anyone and making sure spectators are behind the user.

8. Add a second gift for safety.

If you plan to give a new bike, skateboard, scooter, sled, skates or other ride-on toys, be sure to give the recipient a new helmet, too. Consider giving knee and elbow pads and other safety gear as well.

9. Be a part of the fun.

Supervise children at play to ensure safety. Instruct them in the proper use of toys and discourage improper use such as multiple children on a ride-on toy built for one. Watch the mix of older and younger children to ensure that smaller kids are not hurt by play that is too rough.

10. Store toys safely for another day.

When play is done, toys should be stored in open chests or bins that have no lids, chests with lightweight, removable lids or chests with sliding doors or panels that do not present the risk of a falling lid. If a chest has a hinged lid, make sure it is designed to (and does) hold the lid open in any position in which it is placed.

Should Headers Be Banned in Youth Soccer?

The header is one of the most popular moves in soccer. However, it can also be one of the most dangerous, leading to the risk of concussions and, perhaps, more severe forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) – especially among children. That is why the possibility of banning headers in youth soccer has become a hot topic lately.

In particular, the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) and Santa Clara Institute of Sports Law and Ethics (ISLE) launched a campaign in June 2014 to raise awareness about the dangers of allowing youth players to use headers. The coalition is pushing for a ban on headers in the sport until players reach the high school level.

The coalition has enlisted support from some of the most famous women’s soccer players in U.S. history, including Brandi Chastain and Cindy Parlow Cone, and has generated widespread coverage of their effort, including articles by Sports Illustrated and USA Today.

What Are the Risks of Allowing Headers in Youth Soccer?

Even though football is the leading cause of concussions and other brain injuries among youth athletes, soccer is not too far behind.

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, there were 10,436 TBI-related emergency room visits involving soccer players in the U.S. under the age of 19 between 2001 and 2009.

In reality, the number of youth soccer players with concussions during that time frame was probably much higher. However, young people – and their parents – often fail to recognize that they have suffered a concussion.

According to a white paper issued by the SLI/ISLE, “The Neurological Consequences of Heading in Soccer,” 64 percent of youth hockey players who participated in one survey mistakenly believed a concussion could not occur without a loss of consciousness, while 45 percent could identify only one of the symptoms associated with a concussion or none at all.

Also, a pair of studies recently discussed at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) annual meeting revealed that many parents lack a basic understanding about concussions, as HealthDay News reports.

Heading is a particular concern. According to the SLI/ISLE white paper, heading the ball or attempting to head the ball and colliding with another player, object or the ground accounts for about 30 percent of the total concussions in soccer.

If a child suffers a concussion, it can lead to the child missing weeks or months of school, as the paper points out. A child may suffer serious cognitive defects, including the inability to concentrate and memorize. Additionally, if the injury is not addressed properly, the child is at risk of suffering a repeated concussion and, perhaps, emotional and social effects as well.

What Are the Rewards of Banning Headers in Youth Soccer?

Even though the written guidelines issued by FIFA and other governing bodies in soccer recommend teaching heading as early as age 10, the SLI/ISLE and many others are pushing for a ban on headers until players reach high school.

In a released statement, Chastain said the rewards that would come from banning headers in youth soccer would outweigh the risks of allowing them.

“[A]s a coach, I would prefer my players had focused solely on foot skills as they develop their love of the game,” said Chastain, a volunteer assistant coach at the college level who is best known for scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

Parlow Cone, currently head coach of the Portland Thoms FC pro team, said youth players would benefit from soccer instruction that focuses on coordination, technical skills and spatial awareness instead of on teaching headers.

“Delaying the teaching of heading skills, while still preparing players for heading by teaching jumping and landing and strengthening the neck, not only will help make the sport safer but is also developmentally appropriate,” she said.

Learn More, Get Involved

So, what do you think: Should headers be banned in youth soccer?

You should learn more about this subject and feel free to discuss it with your child’s soccer coach or the organization that he or she plays for on a regular basis. Talk with other parents as well.

If you think heading should wait until high school, you should organize support and petition your local soccer organization to enact a ban. You might just be part of a growing movement.

How to Care for Your Children’s Emotional Needs during Divorce

Divorce is never easy. When you have children, questions of child support and child custody can make the process more difficult – and your children’s fears and worries can take center stage in their young minds.

According to a study published in Paediatrics and Child Health, children may experience anxiety and depression during the divorce process. If their emotional needs are addressed, however, most children adjust completely to their new living situations in about two years.

As a parent, you can do much to help your children manage their fears and navigate a divorce in a healthy way.

Here are tips on caring for your children’s emotional needs during the divorce process.

Keep Age Differences in Mind

Children express, understand and process their emotions differently at different ages. Understanding what your child needs at each age helps you provide for those needs.

    • Preschool (ages 0-5)

Young children are just learning to process strong emotions. Often, when faced with an emotional question they can’t tackle, they will change the subject or leave the conversation. These children use play to work out their emotions. By making their cars, dolls or stuffed animals act out scenes of arguing, fighting or leaving, they gain a sense of control over their emotions.

    • Schoolchildren (ages 6-12)

School-age children will often become sad and cry or get angry and yell. They often process information in small batches; for instance, they may ask a few questions, stomp away and cry, then come back and ask a few more. They are likely to worry about what will happen to them.

    • Adolescents (ages 13-18)

Teenagers tend to have all-or-nothing reactions to the news of their parents’ divorce. They may become intensely angry and sad, or they may show no reaction at all. Angry teens may try to make their parents feel guilty or insist that the divorce is unfair to them. Silent teens, however, are feeling the same emotions; they simply take longer to dwell on them before acting out.

Give Reassurance

Regardless of their age, all children need reassurance from their parents that they are still loved, that the divorce is not their fault and that their needs will be met. Parents who can agree to present a united front to their children – to settle on an explanation of the divorce for the children, to refrain from arguing in front of the kids and to agree on major parenting issues – provide vital stability for their kids and a safe space away from their own conflicts.

When reassuring children, tailor your presentation of the message to their age needs:

    • Preschool

Often, young children want only a simple explanation that makes it clear that their needs will be met. Give young children the space to use their play to sort out their feelings. Drawing, dancing, singing and games can also be valuable sources of reassurance.

    • Schoolchildren

These children need concrete answers to their fears about what will happen to them, where they will live and whether their parents still love them. A predictable schedule can do much to reassure children that their world is not falling apart.

    • Adolescents

Adolescents may lash out, even when seeking advice, reassurance or answers to their questions. Patience and a willingness to talk to them whenever they are ready can help them feel safe and understand the situation.

Offer Honesty – and Encourage It

At all ages, children should be encouraged to share their feelings honestly – even if their feelings are confused, conflicting or negative toward one or both parents.
Parents should also attempt to be honest with children whenever possible. An honest “I don’t know” or “We’re still figuring that out” in response to questions about where each parent will live and how often the child will see each parent are often preferable to vague reassurances that “Everything will be fine.”

When encouraging and offering honest communication, however, parents should never take sides with children or speak ill of the child’s other parent. Remember that your child’s relationship with his or her other parent is separate from your relationship with the other parent. Encourage children to love and respect both their parents and to keep building the kind of relationship they want with each of you.

Keeping Young Children Safe at Home

If you have young children, you know how fast they can get around. You also learn very early on that you can’t possibly be everywhere at once. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to ensure that your home is as safe as possible for your young explorers, even when you aren’t in the room with them.

On the Move

Regardless of what stage of mobility the children are in (rolling over, pulling themselves up, crawling, walking, running) they are always on the go. Once they become mobile, it is critical that you clear all potential safety issues from their paths. Aside from the tried-and-true advice of setting up safety gates and installing cupboard door latches, here are some additional ways you can avoid a potentially perilous situation for young adventurous children:

  • Regularly check blinds/drapes and appliances, ensuring that cords are tied up or secured, and out of reach.
  • Scan furniture for sharp edges and jutting parts, including screws.
  • Ensure all furniture is solid and stable so young climbers and early walkers avoid injury.
  • Keep furniture away from windows so children can’t access them and fall out.
  • Use back burners on the stove when possible, and always keep pan handles turned inward.
  • Keep doors to unused rooms closed, especially the bathroom.
  • Make sure the toilet lid is always down and no freestanding water is ever left unattended (drowning is the first and second leading cause of death in children 1-4 and 5-9, respectively).
  • Keep pillows and blankets out of cribs and away from small children while they’re sleeping (unintentional suffocation is the number one cause of death in infants).

Busy Hands

Very young children like to touch and taste everything they can get their hands on. It’s a natural part of development because it’s a way for them to figure out ‘what’s what’ in the world. However, this method of exploration can have dire consequences (choking, poisoning) if children get their hands on the wrong objects, or put dangerous things in their mouths. So, a critical component of home safety related to young children is vigilance in ensuring that only safe objects are within their reach.

Obviously it’s important to child proof outlets, arrange furniture, secure area rugs, and move other objects that may cause a child to slip, trip or fall. But, small objects are important, too. Toys and other items that easily pass through the middle of a toilet paper roll can choke babies, toddlers and older children. So, keep all small objects out of their reach. Avoid purchasing toys that small, but otherwise only allow children to play with them when they’re being directly supervised.

Houseplants aren’t something we may typically think about as being potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, there is a long list of plants that are considered toxic for human consumption, so keep all houseplants out of children’s reach. If your child ingests part of a plant, contact your local poison control center immediately.


Thousands of items are recalled every month in the United States. Check www.recalls.gov to make sure that none of the items you own or plan to purchase are on the list. If you own a recalled item, follow the instructions listed on the website for said item. You may be eligible for a replacement or repair, depending on the type of recall.

Maintaining a safe home for your children doesn’t have to be difficult. A few bumps and bruises can be expected along the way, but with some forethought and ongoing diligence on your part, your children can make it through childhood relatively unscathed.

When Dogs Attack Children

Each year millions of children under 10 years old are bitten by dogs.  Dog attack injuries to children range from mild nips that barely break the skin to bites that require reconstructive surgery. Some attacks even lead to death.  Well over 4 million people suffer dog bites each year.  Children are at greatest risk for dog attacks and bites, as evidenced by the statistic that dog bite-related injuries are highest for children ages 5-9. While most dogs that attack children are family dogs already familiar with the child, there are also many cases where children are attacked by strangers’ dogs.  When dogs attack children, the child can suffer minor or severe injuries, requiring emergency room treatment and many times leaving permanent scars.  Sadly, many children die from dog attacks.  In fact, during the first 6 months of 2014, 22 people were killed by dog bites in the United State, 10 of whom were children ranging in age from 10 months to 5 years.

Stopping a dog attack

When some types of dogs attack, such as pit bulls, they use their strong jaws to grab onto the victim and hold on tightly.  With a small child the dog may then shake the child back and forth.  The best strategy for forcing the dog to let go of the child is to pry its  mouth open  with a stick.  As a stick may not be immediately available and time would be of the essence, a more expedient method would be to somehow subdue the dog by hitting it with something.  Doing so would either wound the dog such that it would release the child, or it would turn the dog’s attention away from the dog and perhaps onto you.  There have been instances in which an attacking dog has been shot by the police or by someone else in order to save a child or other victim.

Teaching your child how to react to an attack could save their life and reduce the possibilities of major injuries.  The first reaction of most people when a dog runs toward them is to run away from the dog.  This is the opposite of what should be done.  Instead, the child should stand completely still and avoid eye contact with the dog.  The dog is likely to then calm down.  If the dog does knock the child down, the child should curb up into a ball, covering his or her face, and remain still.  Even if the dog does bite, it will have a harder time biting crucial areas such as the thighs or abdomen, which can lead to a higher rate of blood loss if wounded.

Medical attention

A vicious dog attack can result in serious injury to a small child.  Deep wounds may cause a significant amount of blood loss in a short period of time.  A dog bite to the abdomen may result in organ damage and significant internal bleeding.  Of course, even a relatively minor bite will likely cause a child significant pain.  For these reasons, it is critical to quickly stop the attack and get a wounded child emergency medical attention immediately.  Even if the bite is mild, you should make sure your child receives medical attention, as a dog bite could become infected. If the dog is unfamiliar and you do not know whether or not it has received all of its immunizations,  rabies therapy may be required.

Liability for dog bite

If your child is victim of a dog attack, the owner of the dog may be civilly liable for your child’s injuries.  This means that the dog owner may be required to pay for your child’s medical expenses as well as additional compensation such as for pain and suffering.

If your child has been injured by a dog bite, contact Avrek Law Firm Dog Bite Lawyers serving Orange County California.

Avrek Law Firm
9180 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, California 92618
Phone: 949-313-3577

Source: http://www.avrek.com/blog/2014/07/dogs-attack-children/

Are Bounce Houses Safe for Your Kids?

Bounce HouseBecause you often see bounce houses at carnivals and backyard birthday parties, you might assume that these large, inflatable fun houses are suitable for children’s recreation. However, a recent event in New York involving three young children and a bounce house lifting off the ground has raised serious questions about whether these are unsafe products.

According to CNN.com, a strong gust of wind was blamed for lifting the bounce house off the ground while two boys, ages 5 and 6, played inside. A 10-year old girl fell out of the bounce house when it began to rise. The inflatable house quickly went 15 to 20 feet in the air.

Even though one of the boy’s parents blamed himself for the accident, a neighbor speaking to the press said that she had watched the parent do “everything right” in setting up the bounce house. Police say the bounce house was properly staked into the ground, and several adults were supervising the play, CNN.com reports.

The boys were transported to a local hospital. The 5-year old was put into a medically induced coma after the accident due to head injuries when he landed on a parked car. The 6-year old landed in the parking lot and suffered a ruptured spleen, two broken arms, broken jaw and damage to the eye socket.

Bounce House Manufacturer Vows to Investigate Incident

In addition to witnesses and police saying the house had been properly installed and staked down per the manufacturer’s guidelines, The Weather Channel reports that the winds in the area were relatively calm that day. In other words, they were not so gusty as to raise red flags for the parents involved.

The bounce house in this particular case was a small personally owned model. It was estimated to be 8 by 8 feet. Little Tikes, the manufacturer of the bounce said, told NBC News that it was investigating what may have went wrong.

Study Reveals Bounce House Injuries Are Common

Though this may be the first time that many people are hearing about potential risks involved with bounce houses, it is far from the first accident involving one of these products.

A 2012 study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found that as many as 30 children are treated every day in U.S. hospitals for bounce house injuries, which amounts to roughly one child every 45 minutes.

The study also found that the rate of injuries associated with these inflatable play houses has risen dramatically over the past 20 years. In fact, between 1995 and 2010, these injuries rose by 1,500 percent.

The youngest children are most likely to suffer broken bones and fractures, while teenagers are more likely to suffer sprains, according to the study.

While the rise in bounce house accidents may be attributed to their increased use overall, this does not excuse unsafe conditions for our children. Indeed, many child safety advocates say more needs to be done to get the bounce house industry under control.

You can go into nearly any town and find a rental company that will bring a bounce house to your home and even set it up for you. But there is no standardized training for these individuals, and there are no standard regulations for how the devices must be used.

What You Can Do for Your Child’s Safety in Bounce Houses

For your child’s sake, ensure you adhere to these bounce house safety tips:

  • Have at least one adult monitoring the bounce house while it is in use.
  • If more than one child is inside, ensure they are close in size.
  • Limit bounce house use to children ages 6 and older.
  • Do not allow horseplay, flipping, or somersaulting in the bounce house.
  • Remove all jewelry and eye glasses before entering.
  • Do not put a bounce house under trees or power lines.
  • Make sure there is open space all around the bounce house.
  • Ensure the bounce house is properly tethered and secure.
  • If the wind picks up, clear the bounce house of all children.


By The Maher Law Firm

How is Child Support Calculated?

Calculating the Financial Responsibility of Child Support

Divorce is often an emotional and arduous process, especially when children are involved, making child support one of the biggest “battles”.  While many assets are settled upon the during the finalization of the divorce, child support may be an ongoing issue until the child is grown or no longer claimed as a dependent.  Divorce proceedings and the calculation of child support differs from state to state and may be dependent on the specific case.  Generally speaking, when determining child support, there are a number of factors that are taken into consideration, including but are not limited to:

• Your child’s needs

• Whether or not the parent that loses custody is able to support him/herself

• The child’s standard of living before the divorce

• Whether or not the non-custodial parent has any other children and what the provisions for those children may be

Calculations Based on Income

In some states, child support is based on the income of the parent who loses custody while other states take both of the parents’ finances into consideration.  For example, a divorcing couple in Indiana may have the income of both of the child’s parents taken into consideration and weighed against the expenses that the child will incur. However, in Massachusetts only the income of the parent who loses custody is considered. Guidelines for extra expenses such as daycare, extracurricular activities and even college tuition also vary from state to state.

Refusing to Pay Child Support

If the non-custodial parent is employed, he/she does not have the right to refuse to pay child support.  Wage garnishment is in effect in every state for child support.  If the non-custodial parent is not working or otherwise refuses to pay the support owed, then that parent may be arrested for contempt of court. If you are a custodial parent and are in need of assistance to collect delinquent child support, there are both state and private agencies that can assist you.  Additionally, you can receive assistance from the government during your quest to collect delinquent payments.  If the non-custodial parent refuses to pay he/she may face:

• Suspension of a driver’s license

• Professional licenses for law or medicine can be revoked

• Any income tax refunds will be seized for non-payment of child support

Child Support Modifications

If you are the non-custodial parent and your circumstances change, you can not simply refuse to pay child support.  If you are financially unable to pay child support, you have the right to petition the court to have your payments modified.  The custodial parent, however, has the equal right to petition the court to request more custody support.  There are different grounds for petitioning the court for any modification of child support and they include but are not limited to:

• Either parent having a reduction of income or lasting change of income

• Serious disability or illness of either parent

• Alteration of the circumstances of the child that can include the child receiving an inheritance or growing old enough to be considered to have reached the age of majority

If you are dissatisfied with the proceedings regarding the custody of your child, you should seek further legal advice.  Remember, however, that children have no say in divorce and what ever the court decides is deemed in the best interest of your child.  Your child deserves the best life he can possibly have, whether he lives with one parent or lives part-time with you.

Best Convertible Car Seat

Choosing the Right Convertible Car Seat for Your Child

A car seat is one of the most important investments you can make for your child’s safety.   It is vital that a child, of any age, is secure and safe in a moving vehicle.  Infants and children, who are of the right age and size for a car seat, should be properly positioned and strapped into a car seat that is the right fit for the child.  Choosing the right fit can be a matter of life and death in the event of a car accident.
Convertible car seats are a popular pick among new parents because the same car seat can be used over the period of a couple of years, as the seat can be adapted to meet the size changes of the child as he grows.  Choosing a convertible car seat is also a more economical choice for many families because it eliminates the need to buy more than one car seat.  Finding the right car seat for your budget and needs can be overwhelming, but you will want to do some research before you buy, as you will be keeping the seat for a number of years.
Here are some suggested “picks”:

Diono Radian RXT
This convertible car seat has top ratings and is top quality all around.  Here are some are safety and quality features that are more superior than other seats on the market:

• Adjustable support system for the head that has 12 different positioning options along with sides that expand, support cushions for the infant’s body as well as a longer bottom to the seat which gives the child more comfort as well as more support for the legs.

• The seat can be used as a rear facing seat until your infant reaches 45 lbs. and then as a full forward facing seat until the child reaches 80 lbs. Beyond that it can be used as a booster seat until the child is either 57’’ or 120 pounds.

• Frame construction is made of steel alloy and is padded with EPS foam that absorbs energy so that your child will be protected from injury in the event of a crash.

• Additional padding is made of memory foam that will conform to the shape of the child’s body.

• You can choose from 8 colors for this seat and it is backed by a warranty for 1 year.
Britax Marathon 70-G3 Convertible Car Seat
This convertible seat also has near perfect ratings for safety and is suitable for children up to 70lbs.  Some features that make this seat a “top pick” includes:

• Safecell, a technology that lowers the center of gravity and allows the seat to stay put rather than lunging forward, is utilized in the base of the seat.

• It also utilizes steel bars in the construction to give the seat the most structural integrity possible that works in conjunction with the Safecell technology to reduce any flexing forward that can occur upon impact.

• Harness system is 5 points that never tangle while providing cushion for the child. Forward movement is again impeded here with the technology in the harness system.

• The side walls are deep and padded with EPP foam that is energy absorbing so that in the event of a crash, the force is evenly distributed.

• This model comes in your choice of 5 colors.

Make A Safe Child Your #1 Priority

Your child is your most precious and vulnerable passenger on board.  While the cost of a child seat may be costly, think of it as an investment for your child’s life and safety.

Car Seat Laws

Creating Laws for Children’s Safety

No matter where you live in the United States, there are laws that apply to children’s safety in vehicles. These laws regulate the types of car seats that are allowed, the age of the child and in some states the height or weight of the child. Each state has its own laws so if you have a concern or question about the laws in your state, you can search for your state’s requirements at your local DMV, Department of Transportation website, or check with your local law enforcement.  Additionally, many cities have “Installation Stations”, which allows parents of any age of child (that needs a safety seat) to have seats double checked for secure and proper placement, as well as the overall safety and condition of the seat.

All state laws require that children may only travel in a moving vehicle if they are properly restrained in approved child safety seats.  The age/height/weight restrictions for a proper and safe car seat vary from state to state.  Before you graduate your child to using an adult seat belt, make sure that it is safe for him to do so.

Proper Restraints Can Decrease Vehicular Related Injuries

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health and Safety, injuries sustained in vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for children in the U.S.  A majority of these accidental deaths could be prevented if every child was properly restrained in an age and weight appropriate infant or booster car seat.  Studies show that fatal and serious injuries could be reduced by up to 50%.

Is Your Child at a Greater Risk of Being Injured in An Accident?

You are your child’s role model and children mimic the actions of adults. If a child sees that the adult driving the vehicle is not wearing a seat belt then they will think that it is acceptable for them not to. One study reported that about 40% of children who are unrestrained in a vehicle are riding in a car with an unrestrained driver.  Choosing to “Buckle Up” shows your impressionable child that you value safety and you want them to be safe, too.  Additionally, your child may be a greater risk of being injured in an accident if he is secured in an improperly installed car seat.  Every time your child is in his safety seat, make sure the seat is secure and he is strapped in properly.  A properly installed car seat can greatly reduce the chance of your child being hurt or killed in an accident.

Take the Time to Do Your Research Before You Travel

While your child’s safety on the road should remain your number one priority, it’s not a bad idea to research other state’s seat belt laws (especially if you are planning a road trip cross country).  As with any seat belt law, your children should remain properly restrained when the car is in motion.  If you are stopped by highway patrol and are questioned about your child’s safety restraints, you may not be able to talk your way out of a ticket just because you are a “traveler passing through”.

Be a Law Abiding Driver, Keep Your Child Safe

While many drivers and passengers can’t remember a time when they didn’t wear a seat belt, there are still drivers and passengers alike who refuse to wear a safety restraint while traveling in a car.  Whether they “simply forget” or “don’t feel comfortable”, wearing a seat belt is the law.  If you, as an adult, choose not to wear a seat belt, that’s your law-breaking choice, but don’t put your child’s life in danger by not offering him the safest seat possible.

Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice

What is a Birth Injury?

Today’s medical standards are higher than ever and while according to statistics birth injuries are rare, they do happen occasionally and sometimes with devastating results such as permanent damage or even death.   A birth injury or birth trauma occurs due to complications or neglect during labor and delivery.  Birth injuries range from a simple bruising to severe brain or nerve damage to every parent’s nightmare: death.  Other birth injuries with various levels of severity include:

• Marks or bruising from the forceps
• Subconjunctival hemorrhage (busted blood vessels in the eye)
• Caput Succedaneum (swelling of the scalp)
• Cephalohematoma (bleeding that occurs between the fibrous covering of a bone and the bone itself, can lead to jaundice)
• Paralysis of the face
• Brachial Palsy injuries
• Bone fractures
• Brain injuries – can be permanent and devastating

Is Your Baby a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

Many injuries that occur during the birthing process are due to medical malpractice. The American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA), defines medical malpractice as a violation of standard care which resulted in an injury and was caused by medical negligence.  If you suspect that your infant’s injury is due to medical malpractice, you are entitled to a malpractice attorney who can advise you and represent your claim.  Some examples of medical negligence, leading to malpractice claims include:

• Failing to anticipate birth complications. For example, if the doctor knows that the baby is large or if the mother has had    complications with the pregnancy and special care is not taken
• Not responding appropriately to bleeding
• Not responding to fetal distress (could indicate irregular heartbeat or other issues)
• Delaying ordering a C-section (Cesarean section) when it is medically urgent
• Using the delivery tools, such as the forceps,  incorrectly during the delivery
• Incorrect use of Pitocin, a hormone administered to speed or induce labor

Additionally, injuries can also occur after birth when aftercare is inadequate.  Such examples of subpar care include failure to attend to an infection or circumcision mistakes.

Your Medical Malpractice Claim

If you decide to consult or hire a malpractice attorney to represent your malpractice suit, you will need to provide specific information in order for him to decide if you have a viable claim.  Before visiting an attorney, make sure you are have copies of your baby’s medical records.  The attorney may have the records evaluated by a second party (a doctor who was not involved in the birth) and you and your child’s health care providers will also be questioned in order to obtain further information.

Some birth injuries go away on their own over a short period of time and some severe injuries will last through your child’s lifetime, which will require ongoing financial and medical assistance.  Winning a medical malpractice claim can compensate for mounting financial debt or offer your child a high quality of care.  A medical malpractice suit will not eliminate the pain and suffering you and your family face on a daily basis, nor will it bring a deceased infant back, but your well-deserved settlement can offer closure to a traumatic experience.

Choosing a Day Care Provider

Choosing the Best Child Care for Your Child

Choosing a day care provider for your child can be a nerve-racking experience.  For many parents, it’s difficult entrusting a child’s well-being into a stranger’s care, as a child is the most important person in a parent’s life.  When your child begins day care, be prepared to feel nervous and even experience some separation anxiety, but all of these feelings are natural and will fade once you have found suitable child care.  As a parent, you have the right to thoroughly check out all of the potential child care facilities before you make a permanent decision.  The more you know about your child’s day care, the better you will feel about leaving him in the care of someone else.

What to Look for in Quality Child Care

According to the a Guide for First Time Parents, here are some helpful tips in finding suitable and safe child care for your child.  Before you venture out and visit day care facilities, you may want to ask yourself the following questions and follow these steps:s

What is important?
Depending on your child care needs and expectations, there will be aspects that you will find are more important to you than others in your search for a day care. You need to prioritize your list and decide which ones are the most important, such as location, size, whether or not the facility is licensed or accredited or has been recognized for outstanding care.  It all depends on what is most important to you and the care of your child.

Research all centers

Once you have your list then you can start asking fellow parents, friends and family members, if they can recommend one facility over another. Look in the phone book, on the internet, and search for ratings or reviews.

Ask questions

Once you have created a list of possible day care options, the most important step is to ask questions.  The more you ask, the more informed of a decision you can make.  After speaking with someone, you can get a pretty good impression from them.  Go with your instincts; if you aren’t “wowed” or even impressed with the people who run the facility or after a brief conversation on the phone, move on down the list.  Take notes of the questions you ask, especially if you interview or converse with many facilities.  Depending on your needs, expectations, and values, you know what kind of questions you need to ask.

Narrow Down Your Choices

Once you have collected all of the answers to your initial questions, you should have a good idea of your “final picks”.  Make appointments to visit the facilities, if you haven’t already, and make sure you receive a thorough tour.  If you get the feeling that you are being restricted from certain areas or feel like your not seeing the “whole picture”, it’s a good idea to eliminate that facility from your list.  Remember, go with your gut instincts.  Don’t forget to check the references of your potential day care picks.

• Make a visit

One of the best ways to choose a the right day care provider is taking your child with you for a visit.  Observe your child’s behavior and the interactions between your child and the day care workers.  Are they engaging?  Does your child seem happy or comfortable?    Remember, your child may be hesitant to engage with children or adults that he doesn’t know, so don’t solely basis your decision on your child’s initial reaction.  Your decision should be made on the information you collected and your overall impression.

A Well-Run Day Care Produces Thriving Children

The day care provider that you choose should reflect and support your values and expectations.  A quality day care should be well-suited to your child, regardless of his age.  He should be happy, safe, and thrive in his “home” away from home.

Finding a Surrogate Mother

Giving Childless Couples A Chance to be Parents

Childless couples who wish to have a child, but are unable to, may look into “gestational surrogacy” (or a “Surrogate Mother”).  According to USC Fertility, gestational surrogacy refers to a treatment process, in which a surrogate undergoes the embryo transfer process, and then carries the pregnancy to full term.  Once the baby has been born, the intended parents take over parenting immediately after birth.  While surrogacy may be controversial to many religious or family value groups, surrogacy is a promising choice for a couple wishes to be parents to a child.  Before you decide if surrogacy is the best choice for you, there are two different types of surrogacy to consider.

Surrogacy: Which Type is Best for You?

Gestational Surrogates

This type of surrogacy is more familiarly known as “in vitro fertilization” (IVF). During gestational surrogacy, a healthy egg or eggs are taken from the intended (or hopeful) mother and fertilized with the intended father’s sperm.  The fertilized egg(s) are placed into the uterus of the gestational surrogate.  A surrogate, typically does not have a genetic tie to the child or the intended parents and carries the child until birth.

Traditional Surrogates

A traditional surrogate’s egg(s) are fertilized by the intended father’s sperm, having genetic ties to the child.  When the child is born, the intended family receives the infant as their own.  Traditional surrogacy may also be performed with the sperm of an anonymous donor.

Between the two types of surrogacies, there are an estimated 750 surrogacy births in the U.S. each year.

Searching for a Surrogate

Some couples are fortunate to find a surrogate mother within their network of family and friends.  Some couples choose to use a surrogacy agency; currently, there are more than 100 agencies across the U.S.  The agencies are responsible for assisting a hopeful couple find a suitable match with a surrogate mother.  Agencies make all of the arrangements and handle monetary transactions between the intended parents and the surrogate.

A suitable surrogate should be healthy and be tested for diseases that may affect the unborn child like syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, hepatitis B and C, and cytomeglalovirus.  A thorough check-up and a clean bill of health is also recommended to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.  A healthy surrogate will have a better chance of birthing a healthy infant.

Financial Responsibilities

Having a baby is expensive and having one via a surrogate will cost even more, estimated at about $120,000, which includes insurance, agency fees, medical fees and the fees that the surrogate, herself, charges.  For a couple who are eager to start a family, it is a worthy financial investment and the opportunity to raising a child of their own is considered “priceless”.

Surrogacy Brings Hope to Hopeful Couples

Surrogacy is a promising option for couples who want nothing more than to start a family, but are unable to for their own biological or medical reasons. Many couples who tried to have their own children for years, but were defeated by miscarriages, stillbirths, or infertility issues, have a real chance to be the parents they always wanted to be.


Signs of Child Abuse

The Horror Behind Child Abuse

It’s hard to fathom why or how anyone could intentionally abuse a child, but child abuse is a serious and prevalent problem in the U.S. Not only does child abuse affect the health and well-being of a child, but the lasting effects can physically and emotionally scar a child for life; causing suffering long after the abuse has stopped.  According to the Mayo Clinic, an abused child may struggle with feelings of guilt, shame, or confusion.  He/she may also be too scared to tell anyone about their abuse out of fear that they will be hurt even more if they tell anyone.  An abuser can be someone who knows the child well, such as a family member or friend.  Due to the horrific acts of violence, the child may develop a fear or a lack of trust for non-abusing adults, such as caregivers, family members, or family friends.  An abused child is very alone, rarely having the ability to trust anyone, even those who are well-intentioned.

Can You Identify Signs of Child Abuse?

If you suspect that a child has become a victim of abuse, look for these “red flags”:

• Withdrawal from normal activities or friends
• Behavioral changes or even changes in performance at school
• Anxiety, depression or a noticeable loss of self-confidence
• Hesitancy to ride the bus to school or even more absences than usual
• Doesn’t seem to want to be at home or leave school
• Run away attempts
• Suicide attempts
These are warning signs of abuse. It is important to remember that just because you see a few of the signs, they are still only warning signs and not proof of abuse.

Types of Abuse and Warning Signs

Abuse can manifest itself in many forms and the warning signs may vary.  Below is an overview of specific types of abuse and commonly observed signs. If you suspect a child is a victim of any type of abuse, it should be taken seriously.

Physical Abuse
• Unexplained fractures, burns, bruises or other injuries
• Injuries that can’t be explained convincingly
• Untreated dental or medical issues

Sexual Abuse
• Sexual knowledge or behavior that is not appropriate for the age of the child
• STD or pregnancy
• Underwear with signs of blood
• Trouble sitting or walking
• Sexual abuse of other children
• Statements to the effect of admissions to being abused


Emotional Abuse

• Inappropriate or delayed development of emotions
• Loss of self-esteem or confidence
• Withdrawal socially
• Depression
• Random stomach or headaches for no reason
• Situational avoidance
• Desperately seeking affection or attention
• Poor weight gain or growth
• Lack of hygiene
• Not enough supplies or clothing to meet the needs of the child
• Theft of money or food
• Stashing food or eating everything in sight
• Deplorable attendance in school
• Lack of attention in areas of dental, medical or psychological fields after parents’ attention has been called to the problem
• Mood swings
• Indifference

Seeking Help

If you have any concerns at all about the health and welfare of a child then it is time to call for help. The sooner that a child is removed from a harmful environment and gets support, the better the chances are for the child to recover both physically and emotionally.
If there is a need for emergency help dial 911. If there is not a physical emergency situation you can call the police, a child protection agency, the child’s doctor or even the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child.
Always put the interests of the child first no matter what. If you see or know of an abuse situation going on then call for help. Do the right thing, as you may be saving a life.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Nanny vs. Day Care

Choosing the Best Type of Child Care

Having a child means that there will come a time when you may have to consider hiring a nanny or enrolling your child in day care. Like any difficult and important decision, it’s wise to weigh the pros and cons of each option before making a final decision.

Is Nanny Care Well-Suited For You?

The “Pros” of Hiring a Nanny include:

• The one-on-one care is important, especially when the child is a baby
• The nanny will work in your home, making it more comfortable for your child to stay in a familiar environment
• More convenient and less hassle, as you don’t have to pack diaper bags, etc.
• Your child will be less sick than if he was in daycare
• More flexibility in scheduling and having more control over what your child is taught
The “Cons” for Hiring a Nanny may include:

• Individual care may be more expensive than other day care facilities
• You may not find the “perfect” nanny right away, making it stressful to find one that works well
• Having a stranger in your home with the child all day may be uncomfortable
• No guarantees that your child will not be mistreated or given the quality of care you expect
• Hiring a nanny means payroll, taxes, vacation time, insurance, sick/personal days, vacations, and finding a back-up sitter when your nanny is unavailable

Maybe Day Care is a Better Choice?

The “Pros” of Having your Child Enrolled in Day Care include:

• May be a more affordable child care option
• Your child will be supervised by more than one adult (in many cases)
• Many Day cares must meet state regulations for sanitation and safety
• Your privacy is protected since there will not be anyone in your home
• Socialization with other children is a key component
The “Cons” of Having your Child Enrolled in Day Care include:

• Your child is more susceptible to illness due to picking up germs/viruses
• More prep is needed in the morning
• Employee turnover may be high
• When your child is sick you may be forced to miss work
• Your child will have to conform to a schedule he is not used to (as opposed to the one you have at home)
• Little flexibility for scheduling or control

Choose with Your Child in Mind

In a perfect world, you would most likely prefer to stay home with your child until he reaches school age, but staying home doesn’t pay the bills.  Whether you choose day care or a nanny, you will be facing a financial investment in your child’s development and overall well-being.  Take the time to decide who will take care of your child when you are at work, as it is an important decision that will impact your child.  If you are unsure of the child care path you wish to take, talk to friends or family members who have children in child care.  Are they satisfied with the choices they made?  Do they feel like their child is receiving the best care possible and is their child thriving because of their choice?   Take the time to choose and always choose with your child in mind.

What is KinderCare?

Kindercare: Quality Care for Your Child

KinderCare, a company established in 1969 by Knowledge Universe, is a child care facility for children aged six weeks to 12 years old.  With more than 1,600 early childhood education centers located throughout 39 states and Washington D.C.,  KinderCare also offers more than 600 morning and after school programs.  According to Knowledge University, more than 500 are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC).

Choosing the Right Child Care for Your Child

Choosing child care is an important decision that requires some time to think it over, as you shouldn’t put your child into just any child care facility.  Like you would, before purchasing or choosing anything else, you need to consider the happiness, health, and well-being of your child. It’s important to consider what you are looking for in a childcare facility.  When making your careful and thought out decision, you may want to make a “pros and cons” list or ask yourself the following questions:
• Does the staff have daily communication with the parents regarding the progress and needs of your child?
• Is the facility clean, organized, and safe?
• Do the children have a routine that they follow, enjoy, and understand?
• Is your initial reaction to the center positive or negative?
• Can you visit the center at any time you like?
• Is there enough staff?  What is the child to staff ratio and is it appropriate for the age and needs of your child?
• Are the materials and toys in the classroom age appropriate?
• Do the children that you see appear both engaged and occupied?
• Does the center seem like it would be a place that your child would enjoy and thrive in?
• How are disciplinary issues resolved?
• Do members of the staff regularly read to the children?
• If there are any hazardous materials are they kept under lock and key?
• Are the activities for the children geared towards learning?
• Do you feel that your child will be in a safe environment in the center?
• What is the procedure when children are ill?
• Do the staff members that you can see seem to be both patient and receptive to the needs of the children?
• Looking around the center, do you see a posted emergency plan?
• Would you feel comfortable placing your child there?
• What type of training does the staff have?

While these questions are meant to get you started thinking about an appropriate child care facility, you will most likely base your decision on cost, safety, and location.  Don’t hesitate to speak with fellow parents about their opinion of the child care facility you are considering.

Quality Care and a Peace of Mind

The child care facility that you choose should make you feel welcome, comfortable, and safe.  While it’s never easy to leave your child with someone else, you should not dread leaving your child at his child care nor should you worry about his well-being.  If your child is receiving quality care he will show it and thrive like a happy and healthy child should.  As a parent, you have the right to thoroughly investigate and gather information on your child care provider.  Finding a well-suited provider will offer a peace of mind when you cannot be with your child.  Your child deserves the best quality of care possible!

What to Look For in a Baby Car Seat

Choosing the Right Infant Car Seat

When you are preparing for the birth of your infant, one of the most important things you need to consider is purchasing a safe and proper car seat for bringing your baby home from the hospital.  Not only is having a safe car seat required by law, but it will protect your infant in the event of an accident. Choosing the right kind of infant car seat can be an overwhelming task, especially with all the different styles, brands, and types of infant seats on the market today.  Picking out the the right seat does not need to be a daunting task if you know what to look for.  Start your search for the perfect seat by looking at rear facing car seats, the type of seat required for all infants under one year of age.

Rear Facing Car Seats are the Safest Option

Almost all of the states in the U.S. have laws regarding the positioning of a car seat for infants, requiring that infants under 1 year old should be placed in a rear facing (or backwards) position.  According to Consumer Reports and the American Academy of Pediatrics, a rear facing position is the safest position for your infant in the unfortunate event of a car accident.  Your infant should remain in a rear facing car seat until your child has either exceeded weight and height requirements or the child is 2 years of age; which ever comes first.
There are two common types of rear facing car seats, including the infant seat and a convertible car seat.  It is recommended that infants are placed in infant seats until they reach at least 22 pounds and up to 32 inches tall.  An infant seat is smaller and fits infants better and may offer more initial protection.  A convertible seat is a seat that can be used for a longer period of time and can be placed in a rear facing position until your child exceeds weight and height requirements (then the seat can be used as a front facing car seat).

What to Look For in a Safe Car Seat

When shopping for a reliable, safe, and age appropriate car seat for your baby you want to look for specific features, such as:

Harness: Any car seat should be equipped with more than one slot for the harness and should be adjusted directly at or just below the shoulders of the infant.  Additionally, a 5 point harness is the most safe and secure type of harness.
Easy to Use: An infant car seat should be relatively easy to use and figure out.  You can find helpful tips and ratings on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website.
Adjustment: As your baby grows, you will need to make adjustments to the car seat (i.e. with the straps).  When looking at car seats, it’s important that you can easily and safely adjust a car seat to fit your baby’s needs and size.
Latch Straps: In 2002, vehicles were manufactured with latch straps, specifically made for car seats.  The latch strap allows you to install the car seat directly to the vehicle instead of using the adult seat belt.

Keeping Your New Baby Safe

When anticipating the arrival of your bundle of joy, there are many things to prepare for and think about.  Your infant’s safety should be a top priority.  Choosing the a safe car seat can ease some of your anxieties that come with being a new parent.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Many people may not know what cerebral palsy is, leaving them with many unanswered questions.   According to the Mayo Clinic, cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects movements, posture and/or muscle tone and can be caused by an injury to the brain either at birth or more often before birth.  All of the signs and/or symptoms of cerebral palsy appear either during infancy or during early preschool (ages 2-3 ).   Cerebral palsy most commonly presents itself as impaired movement and is often associated with exaggerated reflexes, rigidity or floppiness of the trunk and limbs, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, walking that is unsteady or any combination of these symptoms.

People who suffer from cerebral palsy may also have an imbalance in the muscles of the eyes, have difficulty swallowing, or may also experience a range of motion that is reduced to the stiffness in the muscles.  The effect that cerebral palsy has on the functional abilities may differ in each individual.  While some individuals may be able to walk, others may be wheelchair bound.  Some individuals with cerebral palsy may be have an intellectual disability while others function at the same level as their peers.  In addition to varying cerebral palsy symptoms, some individuals may be visually or hearing impaired or suffer from epilepsy.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are many different types of cerebral palsy including:

  •  Dyskinetic palsy
  •  Spastic palsy
  •  Hypotonic palsy
  •  Ataxic palsy
  •  Mixed palsy

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy occurs when the brain is injured or abnormal.  Often times, the issues within the brain occur in utero or anytime before the age of two years old; when the brain is developing.  The brain can be injured when it receives lower than the optimal amount of oxygen, called Hypoxia.  Babies, who are born prematurely have a greater chance of having cerebral palsy than full term babies.  Other possible reasons for cerebral palsy may include, but are not limited to:

• Brain infections such as meningitis, encephalitis, herpes simplex, etc.
• Bleeding occurring in the brain
• Injuries to the head
• The mother suffering from infections during pregnancy
• Severe cases of jaundice
• Mutations that are random and occur in the genes that are in control of the development of the brain
• Fetal strokes which result in a disruption or loss of blood supply to the brain during developmental stages
• Asphyxia or lack of oxygen getting to the brain that is related to difficulties in delivery or birth
• Infections contracted by the infant that may lead to inflammation around or in the brain
• Any type of traumatic injury to the head of the baby

Complexities of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a complex condition that leaves many living with the disorder, as well as family and friends, seeking answers to hard to answer questions and frustrations along the way.  While there are numerous and possible causes, many individuals living with cerebral palsy are able to live a fulfilling quality of life.

Who are Child Protective Services And What Do They Do?

Child Protective Services

This is an agency run by the government in most of the United States. The people who work for Child Protective Services will respond to any and all reports that they get of child neglect or abuse. This organization is also known in some states as Department of Social Services or Department of Children & Family Services.
According to Wikipedia there are a few federal laws that CPS agencies are governed by. They are:
• Indian Child Welfare Act
• Adoption and Safe Families Act
• Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
• 42 U. S. C. Section 1983 and circumstantially 1985
• Multi-Ethnic Placement Act

As early as 1690 there were criminally tried court cases for child abuse in the U.S. As we were still under the rule of England then, England created a legal principle known as parens patriae which basically said that is there were any charities, idiots, infants or lunatics then they were to be cared for by the crown and “returned to the chancery”. This was the basis for the U. S. government to get involved in what happens behind closed doors in regards to children.

Effects of Abuse

There is a risk of psychological problems developing in children who have experienced abuse. This may be sexual abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse, psychological neglect and even physical neglect. These children are also more at risk of developing something called a disorganized attachment which has been linked to many problems developmentally. These can include but should not be limited to depression, acting out, dissociative problems and anxiety.


If you know or suspect that a child is being abused or neglected in any way, you are obligated by law and by morality to report it to the authorities. While a child may be removed from the home, the main goal of the CPS is to reunite the child with the family after the abuser has been either removed from the situation or rehabilitated. There are cases though where the children are never allowed to come back depending on the type of abuse and whether or not court orders were not adhered to.


In 2009, there were more than 2.5 million cases of child neglect or abuse that were reported in the U. S. Out of that 2.5 million, only 61.9% were actually investigated. Beyond that, 22% were actually re-reported and out of that number, 7% of these re-reports were substantiated.

Bottom Line

The thing about CPS is that they are supposed to be here to protect children from neglect and abuse. What they do not tell you is that when you try to report someone, they ask you what you have done personally to stop the neglect or abuse. Beyond that, they have been known to take children away from people who didn’t deserve to have their children taken. Yes, if you know of neglect or abuse you should report it. Expect to have to answer some tough questions though when you do.

Dangerous Child Toys of 2013

Each year at Christmas millions of children get new toys. Unfortunately, sometimes these toys end up being dangerous and can cause the child playing with it to be harmed. Dangerous toys can be any type of toys that carries risks such as deafening, choking or lead poisoning according to NBC News. While there is no list that is complete and has every single dangerous toy listed on it, there are types of toys to be wary of.

Toys With Small Pieces

Greenbrier international makes a Princess Wand that was available at dollar stores for $1.

Toys that have both small arts and violations on the label

• Greenbrier International Bead Kit also at Dollar Store for $1
• Hasbro Littlest Pet Shop
o #2744 Horse
o #3133 Candyswirl Dreams
o Sunil Nevla
o #3317 Candyswirl Dreams Collection
o Seal and Dolphins
All of the Hasbro Littlest Pet Shop Toys could be found at Kmart and Wal-Mart for prices between $3.99 and $4.49.

Small toy or parts with round or ball shapes that pose choking hazards

• Swimways Gobble Gobble Guppies Kmart $14.99
• Geoffrey LLC Super Play Food Set Toys R Us $19.99

Toys with parts that are small and pose hazards for choking

Mattel Fisher-Price Loving Family Outdoor Barbecue Kmart $22.99
Balloons that are marketed to children who are under 8
Toy Investments, Inc. Punch Balloons Toys R Us $.98

All of these toys were deemed dangerous by the U. S. Public Interest Research Group. The most common cause of deaths that are toy related is choking on small parts. There is a tube used by the U. S. Public Interest Research Group that is called a choke tube. It simulates the size of the throat of a 3 year old child and measures 2 1/4‘’ x 1 ¼’’. If a toy or a piece of a toy fits that tube then it is deemed dangerous.

Another thing that can immediately land a toy on the list is toys that are not labeled as having small parts for children who are between 4 and 6. If a toy is designed to look like food and thereby encourages a child to try to eat it or if it fails the small ball tests then it will also immediately hit the list.
If a toy has lead in it such as the Captain America Soft Shield then it will also go on the list.

There was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pencil Case that made it onto the list due to it containing one of the phthalates in addition to levels of cadmium that were deemed excessive.
Toys can also be deemed dangerous if a child can stick it in their ears. The Chat & Count Smart Phone made the list due to the volume being 20 decibels over the limit.
The bottom line is this: Be smart when choosing toys for children…not just at Christmas but year round. If you have doubts about the safety of a toy then walk away from it.

Birth Injuries: Cerebral Palsy

Is Cerebral Palsy a Birth Injury?

Cerebral Palsy is a disorder or group of disorders that affect the brain as well as certain functions of the nervous system such as learning, movement, visual, auditory, and cognitive functions. There are several types of cerebral palsy including spastic, ataxic, dyskinetic, mixed and hypotonic.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Abnormalities or injury to the brain can cause cerebral palsy.  While the majority of cerebral palsy cases develop in the womb, prior to birth, any child can exhibit cerebral palsy symptoms from birth to age 2.  Often times, cerebral palsy occurs when the brain has received an insufficient amount of oxygen.  Additionally, infants who are born premature are more likely to suffer from this disorder.
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine there are other contributing factors that may make infants at a greater risk of cerebral palsy, including, but not limited to:
• Infections of the brain including meningitis, encephalitis or herpes simplex
• Bleeding inside the brain
• Injuries to the head
• Severe cases of jaundice

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Because there are different types of cerebral palsy, symptoms may differ for individuals with cerebral palsy.  The symptoms may present themselves as relatively mild to severe and may involve both sides of the body or only one side.  Cerebral palsy may only affect the legs or arms, or both.  Other symptoms may include:
• Tight muscles that do not stretch and grow tighter over time, causing rigid movement
• Abnormal gait or walk
• Stiff or limited joint mobility
• Paralysis or weakness in the muscles
• Movements that are abnormal and get worse during stress
• Tremors
• Loss or lack of coordination
• Muscles that are floppy or joints that have too much movement, exhibiting a “lack of control”

Are Tests Available to Determine Cerebral Palsy?

If your infant or young child exhibits movements or behaviors that you suspect may be symptomatic of cerebral palsy, you should contact your pediatrician and request a thorough examination.  If your pediatrician suspects that your child may have cerebral palsy, she can recommend and/or request a neurological “check-up”.  Additionally, she may perform various blood tests, an EEG, an MRI, or a CT scan to view your child’s brain condition or activity.  Hearing and vision tests may also be done on your child.  If tests determine that your child does have cerebral palsy, you will most likely be facing a challenging future with many unanswered questions.

Currently, there is no known cure for cerebral palsy.  Treatments are available and depending on the severity of your child’s cerebral palsy, you may be able to work with numerous specialists (such as neurologists, dentists, and gastroenterologists) and therapists (physical, occupational, and speech).  Treatment will be specialized and built around your child’s needs.  Some treatments may include simple exercises to more intensive therapies to surgeries.  Like any health condition, you should take an active role in your child’s diagnosis and educate yourself the best you can.

Can I File a Birth Injury Claim?

If you suspect that your child’s cerebral palsy occurred due to a birth injury, you may be able to file a medical malpractice suit against the acting physician who delivered your infant.  Because all cerebral palsy cases are different, you will need to seek legal advice to help you proceed with your lawsuit.  A skilled lawyer will closely examine all of your child’s medical records and speak with individuals who were involved with your child’s birth.  A successful lawsuit can help you cover the financial costs of ongoing medical bills which may last your child’s lifetime.

Your child, regardless of his health, deserves to live the highest quality of life possible.  Cerebral palsy can be a scary and overwhelming diagnosis for any new parent expecting a healthy infant, but many individuals who suffer from the often debilitating disorder are able to live a rich and happy life.

Working with an Adoption Agency

If you are thinking about trying to adopt a child then at some point you will have to be in contact with an adoption agency. There are differences in agencies and their policies. That being said, there are mainly 3 types of adoptions agencies for you to choose from. They are:
• Private adoption agencies
• Public adoption agencies
• International adoption agencies
Private adoption agencies generally deal with babies born locally or in states that are neighbors to the state they are in. They also have a tendency to only handle healthy babies or newborns.

Public agencies will be the ones to deal with children who have special needs or older healthy children.
International agencies will deal will adoptions of children from other countries. They will handle all of the paperwork, visas and deal with the foreign adoption agencies for you among other services.

No matter which adoption agency type you go to, there will be differences in what they want and do. Most of them will look for prospective parents to be married for at least 2 years and be between 25 and 45. They also prefer couples to singles and may decide that you are not a good candidate if there are already children in the home. All of them will insist on you proving that you have the means (financially) to properly raise the child and provide for them. Many will only adopt children to people who are of the same race too.

How to get started

First you need to make a list of prospective adoption agencies and call them. Ask them what they can do to assist you in your quest for a child. Ask them to send you informational material about their agency as well as a fee schedule and application form.
Do not lose hope if they tell you that their waiting list is closed. Simply leave your name and number and make a note of the agency, who you spoke with and the date so that you can call them back in a few weeks. This does happen frequently with agencies.

What to ask

• What types of adoptions do they handle?
• What are their requirements?
• How long is the waiting list?
• How do you get on their waiting list?
• What is the application or registration process?
• What are their policies regarding home studies?
• What are their fees?
• Will they send you information?
• Are their fees on a sliding scale or fixed?
• Can you choose the sex of the child you want?
• Is foster care used between birth and placement?
• What happens if the genetic parents change their minds and want to keep the baby?
• Do you need a lawyer?
Those are some good questions to get you started but there will be many more concerns and questions that you will have. Anytime you think of another thing to ask, write it down.
Adopting a child is a very long and complicated process with many aspects and a great deal of money involved. Do you due diligence before making the decision to adopt so that you will not be confronted with any surprises.

Internet Safety for Children

No matter where your child is, they have access to the internet. How do you make sure that your child is safe while using the internet? Today we will take a closer look at that issue and see what places like the FBI and Netsmartz.org have to offer in terms of internet safety for children.

Are you aware of your child’s internet usage?

According to Netsmartz.org, out of teenagers ages 12-17, 95% are online.
Before your child can be safe online, you must know the basics of online safety yourself so that you can instill these things in your child. Kids use many different services and visit a great deal of sites online. Each site and service that they see will have its own safety concerns but no matter what your child is doing online, there are a few tips.
• Make sure that the child uses a computer in an area in your home that is a high traffic area
• Decide and talk with your child about the sites allowable and the time limit allowed
• Monitor not just the computer but also cell phones and gaming devices
• Have your child(ren) show you their favorite web sites and wheat they enjy doing online
• Know who is talking with your child, not only online but also through cell phones and gaming devices.
• Disable the web cam
• Talk with the child about how to be safe online
Some of the things that your child may be dealing with online are things like cyberbullying, online predators, inappropriate material and letting too much personal information get out. By making sure that your child knows what is ok and what is not ok is critical in internet safety.
What you can do in order to protect your child
The FBI lists a few things that you, as a parent can do to keep your child from being a victim of online threats. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
• Talk with your child openly about the potential from danger on the internet and even sexual predators
• If your service provider offers parental controls, use them in conjunction with a good blocking software. Monitor any and all chat rooms that your child visits.
• Maintain access to your child’s e-mail and online accounts and make a habit of randomly checking them.
• Teach your children that there is more to be found online than games, chat rooms and social media
• Discern what safeguards are in place with regards to internet safety for children at the child’s school, their friends’ houses and even at the library.
There are also some recommended instructions for children. They are:
• Never meet anyone from online in person
• Never send pictures of themselves to anyone they do not know personally
• Never post information such as home address, phone number, real name or school name
• Never download images as they could be harmful or include sexually explicit content
Above all, be vigilant. Your children may not think about these things, but with an open line of communication you can keep them as safe as possible.

Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury: Do I Need a Lawyer?

There are a number of things that cerebral palsy can result from. Sometimes they happen during pregnancy and birth while sometimes the condition is not contracted until the child is around 2 years of age. While it can be contracted in many ways, there are also times when the cause is never known. If your child had an injury during birth that resulted in cerebral palsy then yes, you might want to retain the services of a good birth injury lawyer.
Defining a birth injury

According to HG.org, a birth injury can be classified as an injury or death that is a result of trauma to either the mother or the baby that is due to mistakes, malpractice, negligence or flaws in hospital policy during the process of labor and delivery. Basically, this means that one of the medical professionals did not use the appropriate amount of care and/or skill that was required.

Defining Cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy is not just one but an entire group of neurological conditions that are caused do to trauma either in utero, at birth or during the first 2 years of life. This disorder can having life-long, debilitating effects. Some of these will be rigidity of joints, constant contractions in the muscles, deafness, and sometimes paralysis. There are many different types of cerebral palsy including spastic, atoxic and athetoid.
Defining birth injury law
Birth injury law is actually a subset of the larger category of medical malpractice law. It can include personal injury cases that originate from a failure to respond adequately to any of the following circumstances:
• Fetal or maternal bleeding
• Fetal anoxia or distress (lack of oxygen)
• Complications with the umbilical cord
• The necessity for a Cesarean section
• Infections
• Anticipation of a baby that is large and the complications related to that condition
• Alternate maternal complications
• Improper use of the vacuum extractor or forceps
• Negligent prenatal care such as:
o Failure to diagnose a medical condition of the mother
o Failure to identify possible birth defects
o Not noticing and identifying a pregnancy that is ectopic
o Failing to diagnose any disease which the baby could contract
Do you need a birth injury lawyer?
If any of the circumstances above are relevant the injuries that you are noticing or have been diagnosed then the best thing that you can do is to contact a lawyer who specializes in this type of thing. For starters, this should not cos you anything because generally this type of lawyer only gets paid if you win the case. So, the worst that can happen is that the lawyer tells you that you do not have a case. That being said, it is always best to at least have an initial consultation because whether you are aware of it or not, special needs children are a lot more expensive than children who are not special needs. If your child is a special needs child due to an injury related to birth then you will need all of that money from a cerebral palsy birth injury case.

Cerebral Palsy Treatment

Cerebral palsy in adults and children requires a care plan that is long term. It also requires a team of care providers. According to the Mayo Clinic, this team may be made up of:
• Physiatrist or Pediatrician
• Pediatric Neurologist
• Orthopedic Surgeon
• Physical Therapist
• Occupational Therapist
• Speech or Language Pathologist
• Developmental Therapist
• Mental Health Specialist
• Social Worker
• Special Education Teacher
• Parents

There are certain medications that are used to make the muscles less tight which can lead to improved functionality of limbs. These meds can also be used to manage complications that are related to cerebral palsy or spasticity as well as to treat pain.
It is crucial that you have a long conversation with medical personnel in order to determine if and what medical treatments are available for the needs of the child. Medication selection is based on the problems that may affect the whole body or only certain muscles.
These can include:
• Isolated spasticity which is spasticity that is isolated to only a specific group of muscles. For this condition, the doctor will more than likely recommend Botox injections (onabotulinumtoxin A) directly into the nerve, the muscle or both. This treatment has also shown some signs of success with drooling. These injections are given every three months.
There are side effects which can include bruising, pain or severe weakness. One of the more dangerous side effects is difficulty with swallowing and even breathing.
• Generalized spasticity is where the entire body is affected. Oral relaxants such as Valium, Dantrium and Gablofen may help to relax contracted and stiff muscles. These have their own side effects.
Valium is not recommended for use in long term situations. It can cause drooling, weakness and drowsiness.
Dantrium has been known to cause things like diarrhea, nausea and sleepiness.
Gablofen can include nausea, confusion and sleepiness. This particular drup may also be administered by a tube into the spinal cord. In this case, there is a pump that is implanted surgically into the abdomen.
• For drooling there are meds like Scopace, Robinul Forte and Robinul that may be prescribed.


There are also many types of therapy that may be prescribed at one point or another. These can include:
• Physical therapy
• Occupational therapy
• Speech and language therapy
• Recreational therapy
In addition to all of that, there may be certain surgeries needed. They can include:
• Orthopedic surgery which will put the bones back into the right places and positions
• Severing nerves happens when there is no treatment available in extreme cases. While this is done to sever the nerves to the spastic muscles, it can both reduce pain and relax the muscles but it can also cause there to be a numbness in the area.
It is imperative to bear in mind that all of these meds, treatments and surgeries may not be needed in every case. Your doctor will discuss treatment options available that are specific to your child’s case with you and come up with a personalized plan of care that should be followed stringently.

Common Birth Injuries

What is classified as a birth injury?

According to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, a birth injury is one that results from being born.
What causes them?

There are many causes for this type of injury. It could the size of the baby, the position of the baby in the birth canal, or any of the following reasons:
• Large babies
• Premature birth
• Cephalopelvic disproportion (small pelvis for mother in conjunction with large head for baby)
• Dystocia (difficult labor and birth)
• Long labor
• Breech or other abnormal presentation of the baby
Types of birth injuries
Some of the more common birth injuries are:
• Caput Succedaneum which is the swelling if the scalp of the baby. This injury generally occurs when a vacuum extractor is utilized and also disappears within a few days.
• Cephalohematoma is where there is bleeding between the fibrous covering of a bone and the bone itself. Although the blood is reabsorbed by the body, it can take up to 3 months to completely disappear and may lead to jaundice.
• Marks or bruising from forceps. These are also temporary and will fade as all bruises do.
• Subconjunctival hemorrhage is where the tiny vessels in the eyes burst causing there to be the appearance of blood in the eyes. Although the look of this might be scary, it will go away and is not painful.
• Facial paralysis may be caused when there is a significant amount of pressure placed on the face of the baby during delivery which can cause an injury to the facial nerve. This may also occur if forceps were used in delivery. If the nerve was merely bruised then the conditions should clear up in a matter of weeks. On the other hand, if the nerve happens to have been torn then there is a likelihood that surgery is necessary.
• Brachial palsy is when the nerves to the hands and arms are injured. The most common presentation of this is when the baby does not have the ability to rotate and flex the arm. It is generally caused by the shoulder being stuck or having difficulty getting through the birth canal. Most of the time, this clears up within 24 hours with no treatment. There are other times though when therapy or splints are necessary. If there is swelling or bruising around the nerve then full motion should come back naturally within the space of a few months. If the nerve was torn then permanent damage may ensue.
Those are some of the most common birth injuries, but bear in mind that this is in no way meant to be a complete list of possible birth injuries. Birth is a complicated event and any number of things could happen in the process. If you suspect that your child has suffered one of the more serious or permanent birth injury then the first thing to do is speak to your pediatrician about it and depending in how that conversation goes, moving forward to speak to an attorney who specializes in birth injuries.

Different Types of Cerebral Palsy

If your child has a birth injury leading to cerebral palsy, you should be aware that there are different types of cerebral palsy. Today we will talk about 4 of the different types of cerebral palsy and what is related to each type. These 4 different classifications describe not only the areas of the brain that are affected but also the different impairments of movements.

The four classifications are:

  • Spastic

This is the most common form that cerebral palsy takes. In this type, muscle tightness is the main impairment. People who deal with the spastic type of CP are what is known as hypertonic and basically have an impairment that is called a neuromuscular mobility impairment as opposed to a paralysis or hypotonia. This type of CP stems from what is known as an upper motor neuron lesion found in the brain and the motor cortex or corticospinal tract. The damage makes some of the nerve receptors in the spinal column not receive the gamma-aminobutyric acid like they should which is the event that leads to the hypertonia in the muscles that are signaled by damaged nerves.

  • Ataxic

Symptoms for this classification of cerebral palsy can stem from a damaged cerebellum. This is a less common classification and according to Wikipedia, only occurs in about 5-10% of all of the combined cases of CP. There are some symptoms that are prevalent in this type and those are tremors and hypotonia. Certain motor skills may also be affected such as typing, writing, or using scissors. Balance and walking is also impaired. Very commonly, individuals suffering from this type of CP will have issues with both auditory and visual processing. There may be a bit of dysarthria and an abnormal gait.

  • Athetoid/dyskinetic

This type of CP deals with muscle tone and patients can have both hypo- and hypertonia combined with motions that are completely involuntary. These patients will have issues with even holding themselves erect or walking and even sitting. Involuntary motions are very common. There are many people who have this classification of CP who must truly concentrate in order to even get their hand to go where they want it to. Due to the mixed tone and issues with holding a position, patients with this type of CP often are not able to hold onto anything, especially if what they are trying to hold onto is small or requires fine motor control. The damage leading to this classification of CP occurs in the extrapyramidal motor system and/or the basal ganglia and/or the pyramidal tract. If a newborn has bilirubin levels that are high and left untreated then this could lead to this classification of CP.

  • Mixed

This classification of cerebral palsy is one in which a mixture of the other three types is presented. The thing is, each can present both with and without individual symptoms of each type. This means that this type is extremely difficult to treat due to the heterogeneous and incredibly unpredictable development and symptoms over the life span of the patient.

What is Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?

The first thing that you should know about this particular classification of CP is that it is also known as dyskinetic CP. It only affects around 10-20% of all cases of CP. What characterizes this classification is the differences in muscle tone. Some of the muscles may be very loose while others are too tight. Spasms often result from this fluctuation. This classification of CP also affects the entire body instead of being localized to a single area.
An interesting factoid about this type of CP is that people afflicted with it are more times than not of higher than average intelligence.
This type of CP can be confused with dystonia that is adult onset. The symptoms are eerily similar. The difference is that while this type of CP is not degenerative, adult onset dystonia is.

Common Causes

This and indeed every classification of CP is caused directly by brain damage. The area of the brain that is damaged in this case is the basal ganglia or the cerebellum. This is the area of the brain that is responsible for movement. More specifically, these are the areas that have the responsibility of receiving and then processing signals from the nerves in order to enable smooth and coordinated movement as well as to enable and maintain body posture. When these areas of the brain are damaged, the results can be random, slow and even involuntary movements.
Brain damage causing this type of CP can occur in many ways. Generally any brain damage causing any type of CP deals with loss of oxygen to the brain while the process of fetal development is still under way. Some of the other ways that this damage can occur are by things like:
• Poor prenatal care
• Head trauma
• Drug and/or alcohol abuse while pregnant
• Bleeding in the brain
• Viral infection during pregnancy

There have been studies conducted that show that this type of CP has a higher than average link to damage in the brain resulting from jaundice. See, if there is an increase of a substance called bilirubin in the blood, brain damage can occur. When bilirubin levels get too high, it causes jaundice. With jaundice, there is a specific type of brain damage that occurs called kernicterus and this also results in a loss of hearing. Ironically, bilirubin levels in the infant can INCREASE as a side effect from certain medications, an Rh factor incompatibility in the blood or infections.

The characteristic of this classification of CP that is most noticeable is movement of the limbs that appears to be uncontrolled, writhing and slow. At times though, even the facial, throat and tongue muscles are affected too. This can lead to drooling or grimacing. Athetoid CP patients may also experience dysarthria which is an issue with controlling the muscles that are necessary for speech. These movements that are uncontrolled may worsen in times of stress and completely disappear when the person is sleeping. Sufferers of this type of CP often find it extremely difficult to maintain posture whether sitting or standing. Also they have issues with even moving their limbs where they would like them to go and even holding on to anything is a challenge.