Public Health News Roundup: November 27
Report Helps Parents Identify Dangerous Toys in Stores
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s (U.S. PIRG) 27th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report provides safety guidelines for parents shopping for toys this holiday season. It also identifies toys that are potentially dangerous, either because of the inclusion of toxic substances or because of threats such as choking hazards. “We should be able to trust that the toys we buy are safe. However, until that’s the case, parents need to watch out for common hazards when shopping for toys,” said Nasima Hossain, Public Health Advocate for U.S. PIRG. There is also a mobile site for smartphones. Read more on safety.
Survey: Despite Worries, Most Kids Getting Enough Sleep
Despite concerns that U.S. children don’t get enough sleep, a new report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine indicates that kids are generally getting the amount recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recommendations are different for different ages, with kids under age to sleeping 12 to 14 hours each day and 16-year-olds sleeping about 9 hours a day. Lack of sleep has been connected to behavior problems and physical health issues. "We can't say this is the amount that they should be sleeping," said Jessica Williams, the study’s lead author and a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, according to Reuters. "All we could really do is compare our estimated norms with what is recommended, and it seems like it falls pretty well in line with the recommendations." The researchers believe their data can help clinicians better identify kids who may not be getting enough sleep. Read more on pediatrics.
Study: Link Between Autism, Air Pollution
Air pollution during pregnancy and the first year of life may increase a child’s risk of autism, according to a new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The study found kids exposed to the “highest” levels of air pollution—such as from traffic congestion—were three times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than were kids exposed to the “lowest” levels. The findings support previous research suggesting a link between problems with the immune system and autism. "We are not saying that air pollution causes autism," said Heather Volk, lead researcher and assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. "But it does appear that this may be one potential risk for autism. We are beginning to understand that pollution affects the developing fetus." Read more on autism.