This Week In Parenting News: Flu Epidemic, Slavery Baby Bibs, Free Range Parenting and Teen Sleep

Flu Epidemic Mimics Colds

Now that at least 30 U.S. children have died of the flu – many of them going from seemingly 100% healthy to total organ failure within 24 to 72 hours – it is a good idea to take a look at several news stories that discuss how this new flu can often mimic a cold. My own five-year-old had the flu, and yes, it can look and feels like a mild cold. No doubt. He never got the “hit by a truck” aches and pains. Even so, he passed out at the dinner table and the exhaustion was our first clue. His fever – 104.5 degrees – presented by 1 a.m. and by 9 a.m. we were at the pedi’s office and given Tamiflu.

The 12-year-old child who just died in Florida is a good example of how the flu might present as a cold. Per NBC News: “Dylan Winnik had sniffles and was exhausted, symptoms his family initially thought were a cold. Now, they believe it was flu.”

This Nightly News With Lester Holt segment does a good job of explaining what to look for and how to fight it.

Other signs of flu:

1. Diarrhea. For real. Diarrhea all by itself. Your kids doesn’t need to have a fever to be suspected of having the flu.
2. Aches and pains
3. Headache
4. Sore throat
5. Runny or stuffy nose
6. A cough
7. Vomiting
8. High fever
9. Everything else that you know is a certified sign of the flu.

And now you know why everyone is in a panic.

Seemingly everything that happens to you or your kid could be a sign of the flu. The good news is that the flu test is quick and requires just a sample from your nostrils. The bad news is that we aren’t even close to the end of flu season. Best advice we’ve heard is to wash hands, get plenty sleep, eat well and get some sun (or some cod liver oil.) Also, lots of doctors say to get the flu shot because even if it’s not 100% effective (and no shots are 100% effective) it will decrease flu symptoms if you should catch one of the many viruses that are out there.

Trust your parental intuition.

Also, as John Torres for NBC News suggests, if your child seems to get better but then immediately gets worse? Go straight to the hospital. Right. Now.

The Truth About the Flu Shot

Lots of parents are on the fence about the flu shot. People who have never had the flu swear that they don’t need the protection. People who have had the flu swear they need the protection. And news reports stating that the flu killed a bunch of people in Australia is absolutely no help to anyone at all, and is quite depressing. California has been hit bad with this illness. Illinois has been hit bad. Florida just reported the death of a child. And yet the flu shot is either – depending upon who you listen to – 10% or 30% effective.

But here’s the deal: If you come into contact with the strains covered by the flu shot, it will help protect you. If you come into contact with the strains not covered by the shot, it will still help your immune system react in a better way. There are several strains of flu floating around, but right now only one strain – A – is making the news. But, according to local doctors in Illinois at least, Influenza B is just now starting to rise. Influenza B is covered by the flu shot.

And the CDC is reporting that 90% of the pediatric deaths by flu come from children who were not vaccinated. Those are 2013 figures, but still. Ouch. For the 2016-2017 year, at least 101 children died from the flu.

Take a look at this dataset created by the CDC. It lets you know how frequently the various strains of flu have been identified.

CDC data on the current flu season.

The flu shot will not give you the flu, but it might make you feel a little sickly. Or it might not. (For me, in terms of shots that pack a punch, that tetanus shot is my nemesis. I feel completely awful and like someone slugged a baseball bat at my chest when I get it. Then I can’t raise my arm for days. Awful but necessary, especially since I stepped on a nail when I visited Senegal. That shot came in handy.)

In the end, it makes no sense to shame parents for getting the shot – or for not getting the shot. I know plenty people with the shot who got the flu. I know plenty who did not get the flu.

If you do decide to get the shot, know that it takes two weeks to kick in. Flu season won’t end until May or June. You do the math and/or take the vitamins or stop visiting museums or stop going to birthday parties. Or not.

On to yet more gnarly news…

Racists in the Amazon and Walmart Marketplace

Folks are really doing the most when it comes to making clothing for children or adornment for children’s bedrooms. The racists who made a onesie and a t-shirt series proclaiming that “slavery gets shit done” deserve a dragging. Those went on sale on Amazon and were promptly removed, according to Reuters and the New York Post.


It’s an epidemic. Not only did H&M make a major mistake with their “Coolest Monkey In the Jungle” advertisement a few weeks ago, but late last year, Walmart sold wall art for the “playroom” that depicted Japanese-American internment camps during WW2.  There is nothing cute about putting people in internment camps. And if you don’t know much about how the U.S. treated Japanese-Americans during the war, read this.

 

 

Quick Hits —

Free-Range Parenting Pass

Utah officials decided that it’s time to stop penalizing parents for letting their kids grow up the old-school way: by freely exploring without hovering parents. The Utah senate still has to vote on the measure, but it would not penalize parents for allowing their kids to go to the park by themselves or walk home from school solo.

Later School Start Times Are Better For Teens

High schools that start at 7 a.m. are not as good as schools that start later. Or at least that’s the opinion of a writer who penned a column for USA Today on the heavy topic of school start times and teen sleep. Per the column:

The policy part of this equation revolves around school start times. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other major medical organizations recommend that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Earlier start times risk depriving students of the sleep their adolescent bodies and minds demand.

That said, getting kids to sleep on time is part policy and part parenting. As opinion writer Wendy Troxel accurately points out in her column, parents have to model good sleep habits in order for their kids to follow suit.

* Thanks for reading This Week in Parenting News. Just so you know, the writer who pulls this together is a trained, old-school journalist who vets every story to be sure that it is true and not fake news. All facts are corroborated by several sources and linked so you can do your own research.

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