Ensuring Safe Sleep for Babies

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month, but parents should remember two things year-round to keep babies safe during sleep: babies should sleep alone and on their backs, a CHOC Children’s community educator tells CHOC Radio.

In podcast No. 36, Amy Frias outlines tips for parents to ensure their child stays safe while sleeping:

  • How to create a safe sleeping environment
  • What to do if the baby rolls onto their tummy

Printable tip sheets with information to keep children safe while sleeping are also available on CHOC’s website.

CHOC Radio theme music by Pat Jacobs.

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Study Shows Reading to Children has Positive Effect on the Developing Brain

A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), showed children from more stimulating home reading environments had greater activity in brain areas supporting narrative comprehension and visual imagery.

The authors studied 3- to 5-year old children to examine the relationship between shared parent-child reading and brain activity. Participants underwent an MRI scan while listening to pre-recorded stories read in a female voice through headphones. Results showed a strong association between a measure of home reading environment (involving access to books, frequency of reading, and variety of books read) and brain activation during story listening.

Children who enter kindergarten with poor emergent literacy skills are unlikely to catch up with their peers if not addressed early. The authors hope that these findings will help guide early interventions, resulting in improved academic achievement and health.

Encourage reading in your home. To help keep reading fun and enjoyable, check out these simple tips:

  • Read to your child every day. You can read to babies even before they can talk. Let your child see and touch the book. Point out important features, as well as fun textures, shapes and colors in the book.


  • Play with voices and the sounds of words. This can be fun, especially when different characters are involved.


  • Set aside a family reading area and/or a family reading time. Encourage children to look at books on their own. Take your family to the library and make a fun day out of it.


  • Sing with your child. Try songs with rhymes and word play. Make up a rhyming game, for example – What words sound like “ball?”


  • Use everyday tasks to encourage reading. While grocery shopping, have your kids help you search for specific names of products. While cooking, have your kids help read a recipe out loud. Try this on a road trip with signs and brands of cars, too.


  • Model positive reading behavior. Let kids see you reading. They are more likely to read if they see you read. Encourage writing, too. Try fun writing tools such as chalk, markers and crayons. Related posts:
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Marijuana Edible Use Increasing Among Youth

A recent survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed teens now see fewer risks in smoking marijuana. Marijuana use continues to exceed the use of cigarettes. Further, marijuana edibles are on the rise. These popular edibles are sold in fun, colorful packages and flavors that are appealing to kids.

We spoke to Orange County Sheriff Deputy Angela Andrade, who works with our community’s schools on drug prevention, and she shared the following tips for families:

Q: What are marijuana edibles?
A: Marijuana edibles are food items that are infused with marijuana. Edibles can be made at home with readily available recipes and are also sold pre-packaged. Along with any marijuana use, these edibles may cause negative effects on a youth’s brain, including loss in IQ and poor learning outcomes. Kids usually make them at home or get them from friends. Some marijuana dispensaries are known to carry the pre-packaged edibles.

Today, marijuana has THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects) levels that are 15-25 percent higher than what was found in marijuana in previous years.  Reprocessed substances, known as “concentrates,” are also on the rise and can reach THC levels as high as 99 percent. Marijuana concentrates are usually found in four categories, which look like gooey or wax-like substances: hash oil, honeycomb wax, budder, as well as kief (crystals). Concentrates are made by separating the active cannabinoids from the plant by friction or using a solvent such as butane. With these THC increases, users are more susceptible to overdosing. There are also higher incidences of accidental ingestion by children since many of these edibles are in the form of sweets, cookies, cakes and candies.

Q: What are kids’ attitudes today about the risks of marijuana?
A: Kids falsely believe that edibles are fun and exciting. They seem less harmful to kids because they taste like a special treat or dessert. With the legalization movement in some states, many kids misconstrue the risks involved with recreational marijuana. Our federal law, however, considers marijuana a dangerous illegal drug, and you can be charged with a misdemeanor and pay a fine up to $1,000 and/or one year in jail if found possessing marijuana.

Courtesy of blogs.denverpost.com/eletters
Courtesy of blogs.denverpost.com/eletters

Q: What consequences can kids face if caught with these edibles?

A: Most school districts have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the possession of drugs on campus. Students can be suspended or expelled for possessing any controlled substance. See federal law consequences above.

Q: What tips do you have for parents who suspect their kids are using edibles, or other drugs?
A: One in six teens who experiment with marijuana become addicted. It also increases their probability of becoming addicted to other illicit drugs.  It is important for parents to create and maintain a clear zero tolerance rule for any drug use. Boundaries help teenagers make better decisions and reinforce acceptable behaviors. Above all, communication is key. Be involved with your teen and his activities and get to know his friends. Help to provide a safe and fun environment.

Learn more about drug prevention education, including upcoming community presentations.

Or, call the Drug Use Is Life Abuse program at 714-647-4133.

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August is Heatstroke Awareness Month – 5 Tips You Must Know

CHOC Children's Community EducationIt’s Heatstroke Awareness Month and CHOC Children’s would like to remind everyone never to leave a child alone in a car. Sadly, there have been 11 vehicular heatstroke deaths in the United States, this year alone.

Heatstroke occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Symptoms can quickly progress to seizures, organ failure and even death. Young children are particularly at risk, as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. More importantly, these injuries are completely preventable.

Keep your little ones safe with these tips:

  1. Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. No exceptions.


  1. Teach kids not to play in cars. Keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own. Remind kids that trunks are for transporting cargo and are not safe places to play.


  1. Create reminders by putting something in the backseat of your car next to your child, such as a briefcase, purse or cell phone that is needed at your final destination.


  1. Go a step further – create extra reminders. Develop a plan with your daycare so that if your child is late, you’ll be called within a few minutes. Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off children at daycare.


  1. Take action. If you notice a child alone in a car, call 911. If your child is missing, get help and check swimming pools, vehicles and trunks. If your child is locked in a car, get him out as quickly as possible and call 911 immediately.

Download this important tip sheet.

Check out this video for more information.

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Heads-Up on Teens and Pedestrian Safety

By the time your child reaches his teen years, you’d think you no longer have to worry about him safely crossing the street. Think again.

The teen pedestrian death rate is twice that of younger children and accounts for half of all vehicle-related pedestrian deaths according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

pedestrian safety tips

They have years of maturity and physical development over the younger kids, so why are twice as many teens dying from vehicle-related pedestrian injuries? About half of those injuries may be attributed to “distracted” walking.

According to a 2014 Safe Kids Worldwide study of 1,040 teens, half reported crossing streets while distracted by mobile devices. Of the teens who had actually been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle:

• 47 percent were listening to music
• 20 percent were talking on the phone
• 18 were texting

“Texting while walking is not a good idea, but headphones are especially distracting,” said CHOC Children’s Community Educator Amy Frias, who is also the Safe Kids, Orange County coordinator. “Headphones put kids into their own zone when they should be more aware of their immediate surroundings.”

Additionally, more teens who had been hit or nearly hit reported crossing streets in risky ways. They were more likely to attempt crossing from the middle of the street or from between parked cars, instead of at an intersection or using a crosswalk.

Safe Crossing at Every Age

Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth-leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19 in this country. Since opening in January 2015, the CHOC Children’s Trauma Center has treated pedestrian injuries in eight children ages 3 to 12 years. The most common times of day these injuries occurred: before school and in the early evening.

Whether your child is 6 or 16, these important safety tips could be lifesaving:

Put down all the devices — Insist your child pay full attention whenever walking on sidewalks or roads.
Cross only at intersections and crosswalks — Make eye contact with the driver before stepping into the street.
Be as visible as possible at night — Light-colored clothing helps make it easier for drivers to see your child.
Instruct teen drivers to check behind their cars before backing up — Be extra careful and take a moment to make sure a small child is not playing or walking behind your vehicle.
Set a good example — Children under age 10 should cross the street with an adult. When walking with your child, explain how you always follow traffic safety rules, too.

The Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s is home to Orange County’s first pediatric-focused trauma center. Serving children ages 14 and younger, our specially trained physicians, surgeons, nurses and respiratory therapists are available around the clock to provide immediate intervention and care for traumatic injuries.

Download this pedestrian safety tip sheet.

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