A Natural Humectant, Vegetable Glycerin, Benefits, and Use

Vegetable Glycerine, also known as Vegetable Glycerin, Vegetable Glycerol, or simply Glycerol, is a transparent, colorless and unscented viscous liquid derived from the oils of plants such as Coconut, Palm, or Soy. Conversely, non-vegan Glycerine is derived from animal fats. Although ancient civilizations used botanical matter in both culinary and medicinal applications, Vegetable Glycerine was never used in such early times and is a rather modern substance, the extraction of which only began in the 20th century. It is traditionally also used in the food industry to replace alcohol and to artificially sweeten foods (dairy products, fudge, candy, baked goods, cereals, pasta, meat, processed fruits and vegetables, egg products, soups, sauces, condiments, and fish products) without causing blood sugar levels to rise, making it ideal for those with diabetes. Sometimes it is also used to uphold moisture content and to promote better fusion between oil- and water-based components.

This versatile substance finds many uses in a countless skin- and healthcare products as well, such as medicines, cough syrups, expectorants, soaps and detergents, moisturizers, shampoos, toothpaste, shaving creams, and other cosmetic products and toiletries. Glyercine-based products are ideal for those with extra-sensitive skin, as they contain high moisture content to prevent the skin’s dehydration. While it is known for being safe and eco-friendly, the popularity of Vegetable Glycerine is largely due to its humectant property, which draws moisture to the skin and leaves it feeling hydrated. This moisture-retaining quality allows cosmetic products to penetrate more easily into the skin. Just as in the food industry, Vegetable Glycerine acts as an alcohol substitute in cosmetics as well, making it ideal for those who prefer not to use products that expose their skin to alcohol, which can have potentially irritating and drying effects.

Used topically, Vegetable Glycerine’s natural emollience draws moisture into the skin and helps to retain the moisture, thereby softening, smoothing, and soothing the complexion. This hydrating property is known to enhance the appearance and texture of unhealthy skin, which may be characterized by dryness, flaking, and wrinkles caused by harsh environmental stressors as well as destructive bacteria.

VEGETABLE GLYCERINE BENEFITS

Vegetable Glycerine easily penetrates and gets absorbed into the skin without clogging pores while also making it easier for the skin to absorb other active, skin health-enhancing ingredients in products. By filling fine lines and miniscule cracks on the skin and by facilitating the regeneration of new skin, Vegetable Glycerine smooths out the complexion for a rejuvenated appearance. Furthermore, it evens out the skin tone to lighten darker areas, thereby diminishing the appearance of unwanted spots and marks.

With cleansing properties that do not strip the skin or hair of their natural oils, Vegetable Glycerine works to keep the skin and scalp free of acne-causing bacteria. It regulates oil production, soothes itching and dryness, eliminates congestion in the pores, nourishes and repairs damage, contributes shine to dullness, maintains elasticity, and contributes sun protective properties to guard against the harmful effects of overexposure to UV radiation. By maintaining water balance, Vegetable Glycerine’s humectant quality reduces the chance of moisture loss caused by evaporation, thus keeping the hair and skin hydrated.

Used medicinally, Vegetable Glycerine’s cooling quality makes it a soothing salve for discomforts and conditions of the skin, such as cuts, burns, itching, hives, rashes, sores, eczema, psoriasis, and other ailments that are characterized by dryness, itchiness, or inflammation. Due to its ability to encourage normal skin cell maturation, Vegetable Glycerine is known to facilitate healing when applied to acne, scratches, blemishes, and wounds. It locks in moisture, creates a protective barrier on the skin against environmental contaminants and pollutants, and helps suppress the urge to scratch any irritation. Additionally, the anti-bacterial properties of Vegetable Glycerine combined with its mildness means that it works to soothe and prevent future acne breakouts without introducing the skin to harsh synthetic ingredients that could potentially aggravate the affected areas.

Vegetable_Glycerine_CaptionImage

Vegetable Glycerine is reputed to have many therapeutic properties. The following highlights its many benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:

  • COSMETIC: Moisturizing, Tonic, Cleansing, Protective, Humectant, Soothing, Strengthening, Reparative
  • MEDICINAL: Tonic, Wound-Healing, Immune-Boosting, Protective, Aseptic, Anti-Bacterial, Hypoallergenic, Soothing

VEGETABLE GLYCERINE USE

Used in cosmetic and topical applications, Vegetable Glycerine makes an excellent moisturizer with nourishing properties. For a smooth body lotion with a fluffy consistency, begin by placing 142g (5 oz.) Shea Butter in a heat-safe container and then placing the container into a double boiler. Warm up the Shea Butter on low heat until it melts. To this, add 2 Tbsp. Fractionated Coconut Carrier Oil and 1 Tbsp. Jojoba Carrier Oil and stir the ingredients together to ensure thorough mixing. Next, place the entire container into the freezer for 10 minutes, during which time a crust should form on top of the blend. After removing the container, whip the blend with an electric beater while slowly drizzling in 1 Tbsp. Vegetable Glycerine. Continue beating the blend until it appears opaque and becomes stiffer in consistency. Incorporate a total of 1 tsp. Cornstarch to the blend, adding it in ¼ tsp at a time and continuing to whip the Shea Butter after each addition. Next, add ¼ tsp Vitamin E Liquid and 4-6 drops of a preferred essential oil. Suggestions include Cedarwood, Lavender, Frankincense, and Ylang Ylang for enhanced soothing, balancing, clarifying, lifting, tightening, and restorative action. With a spoon, transfer the whipped Shea Butter lotion into a clean glass jar with an airtight cap. This moisturizer can be used immediately and retains its optimal skin health benefits before 4-6 months.

For a facial cleanser that not only purifies, hydrates, and softens the skin but that also exudes a pleasant scent, begin by combining 4 Tbsp. Raw Honey, 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Glycerine, ½ cup freshly brewed Green Tea, and a total of 10 drops of the following essential oils: Geranium, Lemon, and Patchouli. Using a blender, thoroughly mix all the ingredients, then store the resultant face wash in a darkly-colored pump dispenser bottle. For a cooling and balancing facial toner, simply combine ¼ cup of Glycerine with ¼ cup Witch Hazel and ½ cup Rose Floral Water.

For a non-comedogenic serum that is reputed to soothe and reduce the appearance of acne breakouts overnight, combine ½ tsp Vegetable Glycerine, ½ tsp Orange Blossom Water, and 4 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil and apply this serum to affected areas of the face. Leave it on overnight and, in the morning, rinse it off.

To address the problem of blackheads, mix the following ingredients in a bowl and stir them into a paste: 4 Tbsp. Almond Powder, 1 Tbsp. Fullers Earth Clay, and 2 tsp Vegetable Glycerine. Once the paste consistency has been achieved, spread the mixture over affected areas of skin and, after it air dries, rinse it off with cold water.

To achieve softer and more hydrated skin with a facial massage blend, simply combine 1 Tbsp. Vegetable Glycerine with 10 Tbsp. of water. Massage this hydrating, skin tone-balancing serum into the face nightly before going to sleep and leave it on overnight. In the morning, rinse it off with cold water.

For an exfoliating and moisturizing body scrub that is known to remove dead cells in order to reveal newer skin, begin by combining equal parts of Vegetable Glycerine and sugar in a cup. To this, add 3 drops of Aloe Vera Gel Juice. In the shower, apply this blend to the skin like a regular body scrub and massage it into a lather for a few minutes before washing it off. This simple and natural exfoliant is ideal for promoting a healthier and more radiant complexion.

For a moisturizing aftershave lotion that also soothes cuts and burns caused by shaving, first combine ½ cup Witch Hazel Distillate and 1 Tbsp. dried Calendula flowers and allow this infusion to steep for 2 weeks. When the blend is ready, add 4 drops each of Sandalwood and Lavender essential oils as well as ¼ cup Rose Floral Water. In ½ cup of the resultant solution, add ¼ cup of Vegetable Glycerine. Apply this moisturizer like a customary after-shave lotion.

For a natural and nourishing Glycerine-based shampoo that is known to promote healthier and stronger strands, begin by pouring ¼ cup of Vegetable Glycerine and ½ cup of thick Coconut Milk into a clean bottle with the help of a funnel. To this, add a total of 12 drops of essential oils that are known to promote hair growth, such as Cedarwood, Rosemary, Vetiver, and Geranium. Cap the bottle and shake it vigorously to ensure the thorough mixing of all ingredients. To apply this shampoo in the shower, massage it into the scalp and throughout the hair like a regular shampoo and leave it in for 5 minutes before rinsing it out with cold water.

For a simple conditioning hair mask that is known to promote the hair’s luster, first, combine ¼ cup Vegetable Glycerine and ¼ cup of Aloe Vera Gel Juice in a small bowl and whisk them together. Next, apply this mask to hair that has already been washed and shampooed. Leave the mask on for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with cold water.

For a protective and reparative leave-in hair conditioner that locks in moisture, begin by adding the following ingredients in a blender: 1 cup Coconut Carrier Oil, 1/8 cup of Aloe Vera Gel Juice, 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Glycerine, 2 Tbsp. Sunflower Seed Carrier Oil, 1 tsp of Castor Carrier Oil, 8 drops Lavender Essential Oil, and 4 drops Sage Essential Oil. To use this leave-in conditioner blend, apply it to wet hair and style as usual. When not in use, it can be stored in a dark container.

Used in medicinal applications, Vegetable Glycerine cleanses, calms, facilitates the healing and fading of scars and abrasions and promotes the skin’s suppleness and radiance. To soothe the itchiness and burning sensation characteristic of minor scalds, such as those caused by radiation, electricity, or heat, simply apply a few drops of Vegetable Glycerine directly to the affected areas of skin and wash it off after 20 minutes. This can be repeated several times throughout the day to alleviate discomfort.

For a warming analgesic liniment that is reputed to decrease inflammation, improve circulation, and soften rough or dry skin, whisk and thoroughly combine the following ingredients in a mixing bowl: ½ cup Vegetable Glycerine, 2 tsp Powdered Ginger, 2 drops Clove Bud Essential Oil. Transfer the mixture to an air-tight jar. To use this salve, first shake the jar well to stir any Ginger Powder that might have settled at the bottom, then rub the ointment into the preferred areas of skin, avoiding any sensitive parts, such as the eyes.

For a cooling balm that soothes the discomforts of insect bites, rashes, and hives, among other skin complaints, begin by thoroughly combining the following ingredients in a small clean container: 2 Tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel Juice, 2 tsp Vegetable Glycerine, and 4 drop Eucalyptus Essential Oil. To use this calming gel for relief, apply it directly to the affected areas of skin.

Used in massage blends, Vegetable Glycerine contributes a warming quality when applied to the skin. For an aphrodisiac blend that is known to stimulate sensuality, begin by combining 60 ml (2 oz.) Vegetable Glycerine and 60 ml (2 oz.) Almond Carrier Oil in a 120 ml (4 oz.) amber glass bottle. Next, add 30 drops German Chamomile Essential Oil, 2 drops Cinnamon Essential Oil, and 2 drops Peppermint Essential Oil. Cap the bottle and vigorously shake it to thoroughly combine all the ingredients. Apply this like a usual massage blend.

A GUIDE TO VEGETABLE GLYCERINE & ITS BENEFITS

GLYCERINE VEGETABLE – USP 99.7% – RAW MATERIAL

INCI: Glycerine

Method of Extraction and Plant Part:  Hydrolysis of Palm Oil

Country of Origin: Malaysia

Believed to:

  • Be a clear, colorless, and odorless viscous liquid
  • Be ideal for use in cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, and other household cleaning products
  • Be soluble in both water and alcohol, making it a versatile and thus popular agent in the manufacturing sector
  • Be a natural source ingredient with emollient properties, which smooth and soften the skin
  • Assist the skin’s surface in retaining moisture, making it one of the most popular cosmetic additives

CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR VEGETABLE GLYCERINE

Vegetable Glycerine is for external use only. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using this oil for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use Vegetable Glycerine without the medical advice of a physician, as it may have an effect on certain hormone secretions and it is unclear whether these effects are transferable to babies at these stages of development. This product should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.

Prior to using Vegetable Glycerine, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by applying a dime-size amount to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Vegetable Glycerine must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Vegetable Glycerine should not be applied to the unclean skin, to open or infected wounds, or to skin that is exuding any type of fluid discharge.

Potential side effects of Vegetable Glycerine include anaphylaxis, confusion, diarrhea, dehydration, difficulty breathing, skin dryness, excessive urination, headache, hives, itching, irregular heartbeat, skin irritation, nausea, palpitations, rashes, redness, swelling, or vomiting.

Individuals with sensitivities or allergies to either Coconut Oil or Palm Oil could potentially experience allergic reactions to Vegetable Glycerine. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

IN ESSENCE…

    • Vegetable Glycerine, sometimes spelled Vegetable Glycerin, is a transparent, colorless, and unscented viscous liquid derived from the oils of plants such as Coconut, Palm, or Soy. It is also known as Vegetable Glycerol or simply Glycerol.
    • Used topically, Vegetable Glycerine attracts and locks moisture into the skin, thereby softening, smoothing, and soothing the complexion. Its pH level closely matches that of the skin, which makes it gentle enough to be used by those with sensitive skin and in baby skincare.
    • Vegetable Glycerine cleanses the skin without clogging pores, facilitates the skin’s absorption of other beneficial active ingredients in natural products, smooths the look of fine lines and miniscule cracks on the skin, facilitates the regeneration of new skin, evens out the skin tone to lighten darker areas, and diminishes the appearance of unwanted spots and marks.
    • Vegetable Glycerine protects the skin and scalp from destructive bacteria, regulates oil production, soothes itching and dryness, eliminates congestion in the pores, nourishes unhealthy and dull skin and hair, maintains elasticity of the skin and strands, and contributes sun protective properties to guard against the harmful effects of overexposure to UV radiation.
  • Used medicinally, Vegetable Glycerine cools, soothes, and facilitates the healing of skin discomforts and conditions, such as scratches, cuts, blemishes, burns, itching, hives, rashes, sores, eczema, psoriasis, and other ailments that are characterized by dryness, itchiness, or inflammation. It creates a protective barrier on the skin to guard against environmental contaminants and pollutants.

Nutrition Recommendations for Babies and Children…

For Birth through the First Year

Definitions

  • DRIs = Dietary Reference Intakes. Different nutrients include RDAs, AIs, and ULs.
    • RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance. The average daily level that most healthy people need to prevent a deficiency. RDAs vary by age and gender.
    • AIs = Adequate Intakes. Used when there is not enough information to develop an RDA. A “best guess” amount based on the available evidence.
    • UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The maximum daily intake that is unlikely to cause harm with long-term use.

Recommendations

Calcium: Calcium needs increase steadily throughout childhood and remain high throughout the teen years when the bulk of the bone development takes place.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 200 mg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 260 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 06 months: 1,000 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 712 months: 1,500 mg

Choline: Choline is needed for optimal brain and nervous system development. Many children might not get enough of this important nutrient.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intakes (AI) 06 months: 125 mg
    • Adequate Intakes (AI) 712 months: 150 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Not established for this age group

Folate: Adequate folate is important to maintain normal growth rates in children.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 65 mcg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 80 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Not established for this age group

Iodine: Babies need enough iodine for normal thyroid function and for proper brain and bone development.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 110 mcg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 130 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Not established for this age group

Iron: Breastfed babies get about 0.27 mg of iron per day from breast milk.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months old: 0.27 mg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 712 months: 11 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 712 months: 40 mg

Vitamin A: Food and supplement labels list vitamin A in International Units (IUs), but as the availability of vitamin A to the body varies depending on the source. Nutritionists use “Retinol Activity Equivalents” (1 IU of vitamin A (retinol) = 0.3 mcg RAE).

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 400 mcg RAE
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 500 mcg RAE
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) Birth3 years: 600 mcg RAE (2,000 IU)

Vitamin B12: Breastfed babies of vegetarian or vegan moms may not get enough vitamin B12.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 0.4 mcg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 0.5 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Vitamin B12 appears safe at all intake levels from food and supplements.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a key player in immune system and collagen health, and helps improve iron absorption.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 40 mg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 50 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Not established for this age group

Vitamin D: Breastfed babies should receive supplemental vitamin D, as breast milk contains very little of this nutrient.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 012 months: 400 IU
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 06 months: 1,000 IU
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 712 months: 1,500 IU

How much is too much?

  • Most children won’t get too much calcium from diet alone, but when combined with supplements, it’s possible to overdose.
  • You can’t overdose on naturally occurring folate, but fortified foods and folic acid-containing supplements should be consumed in moderation.
  • Iodine excess can cause symptoms similar to iodine deficiency.
  • Excess iron can cause serious organ toxicity.
  • Vitamin A is fat-soluble, so it can build up in the body and cause toxicity. Only pre-formed vitamin A from animal sources and supplements containing vitamin A as retinol or retinyl palmitate can cause toxicity; pro-vitamin A from plant sources doesn’t have this effect.
  • Excess vitamin C can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.
  • Most children are more likely to have a deficiency of vitamin D than to be getting too much. However, vitamin D can be toxic in large amounts.

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Nutrition Recommendations for Children

For Ages 1 through 8

Definitions

  • DRIs = Dietary Reference Intakes. Different nutrients include RDAs, AIs, and ULs.
    • RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance. The average daily level that most healthy people need to prevent a deficiency. RDAs vary by age and gender.
    • AIs = Adequate Intakes. Used when there is not enough information to develop an RDA. A “best guess” amount based on the available evidence.
    • UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The maximum daily intake that is unlikely to cause harm with long-term use.

Recommendations

Calcium: Calcium needs increase steadily throughout childhood and remain high throughout the teen years when the bulk of the bone development takes place.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance 13 years old: 700 mg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance 48 years old: 1,000 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 18 years: 2,500 mg

Choline: Choline is needed for optimal brain and nervous system development. Many children might not get enough of this important nutrient.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 13 years: 200 mg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 48 years: 250 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 18 years: 1 gram

Folate: Adequate folate is important to maintain normal growth rates in children.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 13 years: 150 mcg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 48 years: 200 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 13 years: 300 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 48 years: 400 mcg

Iodine: Even mild iodine deficiency could cause subtle changes in brain function in children.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 18 years: 90 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 13 years: 200 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 48 years: 300 mcg

Iron: Young children are at high risk for iron deficiency because of rapid growth and increased needs.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 13 years: 7 mg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 48 years old: 10 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) Up to 13 years: 40 mg
    • Iron poisoning is a leading cause of accidental death among children under five years old. Keep all iron-containing supplements out of the reach of children and never allow children to have more than the recommended amount of iron-containing supplements.

VitaminA: Food and supplement labels list vitamin A in International Units (IUs), but as the availability of vitamin A to the body varies depending on the source. Nutritionists use “Retinol Activity Equivalents” (1 IU vitamin A [retinol] = 0.3 mcg RAE).

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 13 years: 300 mcg RAE
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 48 years: 400 mcg RAE
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) Up to 3 years: 600 mcg RAE (2,000 IU)
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 48 years: 900 mcg RAE (3,000 IU)

Vitamin B12: Vegetarian or vegan children may not get enough vitamin B12.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 13 years: 0.9 mcg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 48 years: 1.2 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Vitamin B12 appears safe at all intake levels from food and supplements.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a key player in immune system and collagen health, and helps improve iron absorption.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 13 years old: 15 mg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 48 years old: 25 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 13 years: 400 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 48 years: 650 mg

Vitamin D

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 18 years old: 600 IU
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 13 years: 2,500 IU
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 48 years: 3,000 IU

Don’t forget the omega-3s

  • Essential fatty acids are especially important for children, where they support healthy brain and nervous system development and may be helpful for behavioral problems, depression, asthma, and for diabetes and tooth decay prevention.
  • No formal recommendations have been made regarding omega-3 intake, but keep these points in mind when thinking about omega-3s for children.
    • Children should eat no more than 12 ounces per week of “safer” fish, such as rainbow trout, clams, catfish, and wild salmon. Avoid feeding children shark, albacore tuna, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish due to high levels of contaminants in these fish.
    • Some plants foods—like soybeans, flaxseeds, and walnuts—contain omega-3 fatty acids, but the conversion of the omega-3s in these foods to the form that is most beneficial for health may not be adequate to fulfill children’s nutritional needs.
    • If you’re giving an omega-3 supplement to a child, look for one with a purity guarantee.

How much is too much?

  • Most children won’t get too much calcium from diet alone, but when combined with supplements, it’s possible to overdose.
  • You can’t overdose on naturally occurring folate, but fortified foods and folic acid-containing supplements should be consumed in moderation.
  • Iodine excess can cause symptoms similar to iodine deficiency.
  • Excess iron can cause serious organ toxicity.
  • Vitamin A is fat-soluble, so it can build up in the body and cause toxicity. Only pre-formed vitamin A from animal sources and supplements containing vitamin A as retinol or retinyl palmitate can cause toxicity; pro-vitamin A from plant sources doesn’t have this effect.
  • Excess vitamin C can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.
  • Most children are more likely to have a deficiency of vitamin D than to be getting too much. However, vitamin D can be toxic in large amounts.

How to Make Aloe-Based Sweet Basil Hand Cleanser

Have you ever touched a surface that felt a little sticky or dirty, and then been unable to fully relax until you washed your hands or used a hand cleanser?

Sweet Basil essential oil knows the feeling!

For Sweet Basil, cleanliness and peace of mind tend to go hand in hand. It’s good at both inspiring mental clarity and helping to reduce germs so you feel healthy. You can make a hand cleanser with aloe vera gel and Sweet Basil essential oil that accomplishes both of these things, and use it anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to run and find the nearest sink!

This recipe also includes Tea Tree and Clary Sage essential oils. It has a clean, fresh, herbal scent.

Sweet Basil’s Super Fresh Hand Cleanser

  • 1 oz (28 g) aloe vera gel (Aloe barbadensis)
  • 6 drops Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum linalol)
  • 9 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • 3 drops Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

Make this blend in a 1 oz (30 ml) bottle. Combine the aloe and essential oils, shake well, and use a small amount to rub into your hands and cleanse them, even when you don’t have a sink and soap nearby.

Aloe-based hand cleanser is so convenient, and it doesn’t tend to dry out skin as much as alcohol-based cleansers can. You can even make a version of this blend for kids—it’s very easy for children who are over five years old to use, and can help them stay healthy at school or daycare.

Here’s a version with a low kid-friendly drop count:

  • 1 oz (28 g) aloe vera gel (Aloe barbadensis)
  • 2 drops Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum linalol)
  • 3 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • 1 drop Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

Once you’ve made your first aloe-based hand cleanser, you might get inspired and want to make more!

Essential Oil Hand Cleanser for Kids

This essential oil hand cleanser uses skin-nourishing ingredients, including aloe vera gel, so it’s gentler than alcohol-based hand sanitizers you can find in stores.

I know a lot of parents and caretakers who are big fans of this hand cleanser. They like that it’s natural and that kids can keep it with them and use it on their own without having to ask a grown-up. It’s so empowering for kids and it helps keep their hands clean—a great combination!

This recipe is just right for kids who are at least five years old. You can make it in a 2 oz (60 ml) PET plastic bottle, which is small enough to fit in a child’s backpack or bag without taking up too much space. The PET plastic is very strong and won’t break with rough use. (PET plastic is known as a non-reactive plastic that doesn’t leach. In cases where glass isn’t ideal, PET plastic is a good choice.)

My Hands Are Clean!

  • Just under 2 oz (60 ml) Aloe vera gel (Aloe barbadensis)
  • 2 ml Solubol dispersant
  • 4 drops Tea Tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • 4 drops Lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 2 drops Cedarwood essential oil (Juniperus virginiana)

To make it, combine all the ingredients together in the PET plastic bottle. Screw on the lid and shake it gently.

To use it, just spray some essential oil hand cleanser into your palm, and rub your hands together. It feels so good when your skin is dry! I like to use my aloe-based hand cleansers as moisturizers too. (I love that so many Aromatherapy products we can make have multiple uses!)

For kids younger than five, or if you don’t want to use essential oils, you can make a hand cleanser with pure hydrosols.

My Little Hands Are Clean Too!

  • 1 oz (30 ml) Peppermint hydrosol (Mentha x piperita)
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Lavender hydrosol (Lavandula angustifolia)

This one doesn’t double as a hand moisturizer . . . but it can double as a surface cleaner in a pinch! It’s great to have “on hand” (haha!) when you’re eating at a restaurant and want to wipe down the table top.

There are different approaches to using essential oils with little children. The Aromahead Approach for kids under five is extra cautious. For topical use, we prefer to use hydrosols, butters and carrier oils.

Babies’ and young children’s skin can be so sensitive that essential oils can easily become overwhelming for them. Hydrosols, butters, and carrier oils can often give a child the nudge they need toward rebalancing their health

I recommend making these blends fresh every few weeks.

Allergies in Infants and Children

Any child may become allergic, but children from a family with a history of allergies are more likely to develop allergies themselves. An infant’s allergic reaction is caused by an overreaction by his immune system. The immune system is developed to fight off illnesses, but sometimes it reacts to something harmless, like pollen or pet dander, as if it were an invading virus, parasite, or bacteria. The immune system overproduces protective proteins called antibodies. This overproduction causes swelling and inflammation of tissues such as the nasal passages. Your baby’s allergic reaction can recur whenever he’s exposed to whatever triggered it.

Once developed, allergies can show up in many different ways, including:

  • Skin rashes (atopic dermatitis or eczema)
  • Asthma
  • Allergic rhinitis (also known as “hay fever”)
  • Food allergies
  • Chronic nasal congestion
  • Itchy skin, eyes, or nose
  • Dark, purple or blue skin under the eyes
  • Constantly runny nose (Usually a cold will clear up within 7-10 days. If your child’s runny nose persists with clear or yellow-tinted mucus for longer, it may be a sign of allergic reaction.)

Allergic rhinitis is the most common of all childhood allergies. It causes runny, itchy nose, sneezing, postnasal drip and nasal congestion (blockage). The child with allergies may also have itchy, watery and red eyes and chronic ear problems. These allergy problems can occur at any time of the year — seasonally or year-round.

Common Allergic Problems in Infants and Children

The following is an overview of potential problems for children with allergic reactions. Early identification of allergic reaction in your child will improve their quality of life, minimize missed school days for your child and work days for you.

Nasal congestion

Allergies are the most common cause of chronic nasal congestion in children. Sometimes when a child’s nose is so congested or blocked, he or she breathes through the mouth, especially while sleeping. This can also cause fitful sleep that leaves the child tired the next day.

If the congestion and mouth breathing are left untreated, they can cause abnormal changes the way the teeth and the bones of the face grow. Early treatment of the allergies causing the congestion may prevent these problems.

Allergy and ear infections

Allergies can cause inflammation in the ear and may encourage fluid build-up that can lead to ear infections and decreased hearing. If this happens when the child is learning to talk, poor speech development may result. Allergies can cause earaches as well as ear itching, popping, and fullness (“stopped up ears”). Anyone with these symptoms should be considered for allergy testing and treatment.

Skin Problems

Newborns are prone to rashes and you will likely see at least one within the first year. But most rashes (including infant acne) will go away by 2 or 3 months of age. After this point, allergic rashes tend to appear. The most common allergic rash is atopic dermatitis or eczema, and for many babies, it’s the first warning sign of allergic tendencies.

Eczema is a red, scaly, and sometimes oozing rash on baby’s cheeks, torso, arms, and legs. In toddlers and older children, it appears as persistent dry, itchy patches of skin, usually on the neck, wrists, and ankles, and in the creases of the elbows and knees.

Contact dermatitis is an allergic rash caused by a reaction to soap, detergent, wool clothing, poison ivy, or another allergen that has touched baby’s body.

The classic allergic rash — the itchy, welt-like hive — is relatively rare in infants, and when it does occur tends to be smaller than in older children and adults (usually less than an inch long).

Stomach Sensitivities

Viruses can cause vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, and gassiness. But these symptoms can also result from allergies — and not just to food. Children with environmental allergies may have stomach ailments as a result of swallowed phlegm, which can irritate the stomach. “Fussy” babies should be evaluated for allergies if other causes have been ruled out.

Behavior Issues

Problems with eating, sleeping, or irritability can result from allergies. Your allergic baby will be fussy and uncomfortable. That’s usually due to his chronic congestion, abdominal pain, or itchy skin, eyes, or nose.

Food allergic infants

The ideal food for a newborn is mother’s milk and breast milk has been linked to a reduction in allergies. However, some especially sensitive babies can have allergic reactions to foods their mothers eat. Eliminating these foods from the mother’s diet may provide relief for the child.

As infants grow, their nutritional needs continue to change and your physician will advise when it is time for solid foods. Always introduce new foods one at a time so you can easily identify the trigger if a reaction occurs.

Cow’s milk can cause both allergies and non-allergic digestive intolerance in children, but it is a good source of protein and calcium. Milk should be eliminated from a child’s diet only if you are sure the child is allergic or intolerant of it. Parents may suspect allergy if the child exhibits hives after the ingestion of milk or other dairy products. If you suspect your child may be allergic to milk, consult your physician.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Another clue to look for is when symptoms occur. Colds are more common in the winter, but indoor allergies (such as a dust mite allergy) may be present all year. A food allergy can manifest itself anytime from a few minutes to an hour and a half after the offending food is eaten. Seasonal hay fever is most common in the spring and/or fall, but it usually doesn’t affect babies.

Allergies often get worse unless exposure to allergens decreases. However, it’s often difficult to identify what’s causing the allergy. You should keep a diary of what symptoms occur and when. You may find that a specific pet, article of clothing, food, or room in your house may be the culprit that’s causing the allergy.

Allergy Testing

Allergy testing, either by blood or skin test, can be done on toddlers but most allergists prefer to wait until the child is at least three years old because test results are harder to interpret in younger children, as their immune system is still immature. Try to minimize baby’s exposure to some common allergens before resorting to testing by

  • Covering mattresses and pillows with dust mite-proof covers
  • Keeping your dog or cat out of baby’s bedroom and bathing the animal every week
  • Putting away feather pillows
  • Switching to a hypoallergenic laundry detergent

Treatment

If your baby has been suffering from allergies, you’ll want to relieve his symptoms and minimize the chances of their recurring by changing his environment. Usual treatments for allergies include:

  • Skin moisturizers or 1 percent hydrocortisone cream for eczema and other allergic rashes
  • Oral antihistamines, like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or Zyrtec (cetirizine), for rapid relief of an older baby’s symptoms (always consult your physician before giving medication to an infant)

If allergies run in your family, there are measures you can take to help your child avoid allergies:

  • Breastfeed your baby for at least six months.
  • Contrary to older thinking there is no need to withhold commonly allergenic foods such as milk, eggs, fish, and nuts. Quite to the contrary, recent studies indicate that their early introduction may actually lessen the chance of developing food allergies.

If your toddler does seem to be having allergy-induced problems reduce exposure to common allergens by creating a hypoallergenic environment:

  • Don’t allow smoking in your home
  • Use dust-mite-proof mattress covers and pillowcases
  • Clean regularly to decrease the concentration of dust, mold, and feathers in your home
  • Avoid carpeting (especially in baby’s room)
  • Keep your home pet-free if possible
  • Introduce new foods one at a time, and separated by a week or more. Watch closely for reactions.

If simple measures are not completely eliminating symptoms, consider seeing an allergist.

Be Fussy about Your Baby Formula

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that feeding infants a certain type of nutrient-enriched formula led to faster weight gain in infancy—but also made for chubbier children later.

Bigger isn’t always better for babies

With obesity rates continuing to climb, recent research has aimed to identify what factors—other than the obvious eating too much and not exercising enough—might contribute to a person’s chance of becoming overweight. Some studies have suggested that beyond lifestyle factors and genetic makeup, overnutrition early in life could set the stage for weight problems later.

The new report combined the results of two separate studies (with a total of 243 children) that compared the effects of a standard infant formula with that of a nutrient-enriched one (that was higher in protein and calories) on growth promotion in the first few months of life, and on the chances of having more body fat at five to eight years of age. The children were all born small for gestational age, meaning that they were below the 20th percentile for weight at birth.

The nutrient-enriched formula used in one of the studies was provided by Farley’s Health Products (Farley’s PremCare). (A similar product is available from Gerber, called Good Start Premature 24.) The infants were assigned to receive either the standard or nutrient-enriched formula until six to nine months of age. Fat mass was measured at follow-up to assess the long-term effects of the different formulas.

Bigger for life?

Babies assigned to receive the nutrient-enriched formula were significantly heavier and longer than the standard formula babies at six to nine months in one study, but not the other. In both studies, children who were assigned the nutrient-enriched formula in infancy had more fat mass in childhood than the standard formula children—up to 38% more in one study. “These data support a causal link between faster early weight gain and a later risk of obesity,” said the study’s authors. “These results suggest that the primary prevention of obesity could begin in infancy, with major implications for cardiovascular disease risk and public health,” said the UK researchers.

These findings are in line with others that have found that about 20% of the risk of becoming overweight in adulthood can be attributed to infant nutrition (formula feeding instead of breastfeeding) or to being in the highest group for weight gain in infancy.

So while no one is saying to put your baby on a diet, it’s probably best to opt for a standard formula if you can’t breast-feed—even if your baby was born on the small side.

(Am J Clin Nutr 2010;doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29302)

FDA Confirms Elevated Levels of Belladonna in Certain Homeopathic Teething Products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that its laboratory analysis found inconsistent amounts of belladonna, a toxic substance, in certain homeopathic teething tablets, sometimes far exceeding the amount claimed on the label. The agency is warning consumers that homeopathic teething tablets containing belladonna pose an unnecessary risk to infants and children and urges consumers not to use these products.

In light of these findings, the FDA contacted Standard Homeopathic Company in Los Angeles, the manufacturer of Hyland’s homeopathic teething products, regarding a recall of its homeopathic teething tablet products labeled as containing belladonna, in order to protect consumers from inconsistent levels of belladonna. At this time, the company has not agreed to conduct a recall. The FDA recommends that consumers stop using these products marketed by Hyland’s immediately and dispose of any in their possession. In November 2016, Raritan Pharmaceuticals (East Brunswick, New Jersey) recalled three belladonna-containing homeopathic products, two of which were marketed by CVS.

“The body’s response to belladonna in children under two years of age is unpredictable and puts them at unnecessary risk,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “We recommend that parents and caregivers not give these homeopathic teething tablets to children and seek advice from their health care professional for safe alternatives.”

Homeopathic teething products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safety or effectiveness. The agency is unaware of any proven health benefit of the products, which are labeled to relieve teething symptoms in children. In September 2016, the FDA warned against the use of these products after receiving adverse event reports.

Consumers should seek medical care immediately if their child experiences seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation after using homeopathic teething products.

The FDA encourages health care professionals and consumers to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of homeopathic teething products to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program:

Common Illnesses 101

Common Cold
The common cold (or upper respiratory infection or URI) is a viral infection involving the upper air passages, usually the nose and throat. A runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and low-grade fever are the usual symptoms, but a cough, sore throat, red and watery eyes, and a decreased appetite may also be present. All children catch colds, and those under 2 commonly have six to eight each year. Colds usually last 1 to 2 weeks, which results in many days of illness for most normal children.

The cold is caused by a virus. There are no medications, including any antibiotic, that can kill a cold virus or shorten the length of a URI illness. The goal is to make your child comfortable and observe for complications such as ear infections or pneumonia and other lung infections.

Treatment
1. Give plenty of fluids. Your child may not eat; fluids are more important.
2. If your child has a fever, you may give him acetaminophen (Tylenol). Refer to “Fever,/Treatment” in this booklet for dosages. Tylenol, Tempra, and Panadol are brand names of acetaminophen. Generic acetaminophen is acceptable.
3. A cool-mist vaporizer may help him breathe more easily by humidifying the air. A cool-mist vaporizer is just as effective as a “steamer” and does not run the risk of burns to your child either from the steam itself or by the water spilling. Also, raise the head of the bed (a pillow under the mattress works well) to promote drainage of the secretions and therefore, keep the child more comfortable.
4. A child will limit his own activity – you do not need to force him to stay in bed.
5. If he is an infant, suctioning his nose periodically will help. When our nose is stuffed up, we can blow our nose, but infants cannot. A bulb syringe is used to suction the nose and is available at drugstores if you did not receive one from the hospital when your baby was born. If the mucous doesn’t come out easily, then you may thin the mucous with the use of salt water or saline drops (Ocean Mist) or make your own (½ teaspoon of table salt to 1 cup warm water. Keep in a clean, covered jar, and make fresh drops every day). Put 2 to 3 drops of saline into each side of the nose while your baby is on his back. After a few minutes, proceed with suctioning. Remember to wash out the bulb syringe with hot soapy water and rinse well after using.
6. Over-the-counter cold medicines do not cure a cold but may be used for older children and teenagers. These medications may reduce some symptoms, such as congestion or a cough, however, studies have not proven any benefit for children under the age of 6 years. We strongly recommend that these medications not be given to children under 4 years of age because of side effects such as irritability and poor sleep. (In October of 2007 all infant cold medicines sold in the United States were voluntarily recalled and are no longer manufactured. In October of 2008 this recall was expanded to include all cold medicines for those under 4 years of age.)

Call the Office if:
1. Your child develops a fever of 102 degrees or more, or
2. Other symptoms appear such as ear pain, sore throat, pulling at the ears, difficulty in breathing, fast breathing, excessive crying or irritability, decreased alertness, or poor feeding.

 

Cough
Many coughs are due to drainage or irritation from a cold. It may be a dry, hacky cough that can last 2 to 3 weeks or a loose productive cough. The purpose of a cough is to clear the lungs and prevent pneumonia and therefore should not be suppressed unless your child is uncomfortable or unable to sleep.

Treatment
1. Encourage fluids which will loosen the mucous and therefore make it easier to cough up.
2. A vaporizer will moisten the air and soothe a cough.
3. Elevate the head of the bed so that the nasal secretions drain without always triggering a cough.
4. Since the purpose of a cough is to bring up mucus that is present, we normally do not routinely recommend a cough suppressant. If your child is uncomfortable, or a cough is keeping him, awake, there are several over-the-counter medications you can try that contain dextromethorphan.

Call the Office if:
1. There is difficulty breathing or chest pain associated with a cough.
2. There is fever which lasts more than 2 days.
3. Your child is less than 3 months of age.
4. A cough frequently awakens your child (not just you) from sleep.
5. Your child is becoming less alert and/or less responsive, or
6. Your child or infant is breathing fast or hard. Look for this by taking off his shirt to observe the ribs and chest.

 

Croup
Croup is a viral infection in the windpipe. It usually starts with a mild sore throat that progresses to a tight, “barky” (sounds like a seal) a cough. It often is worse at night or early morning, and the child often has a “raspy” sound when he breathes in. It usually worsens for 2 to 3 days and then resolves with typical cold symptoms.

Treatment
1. Encourage clear liquids as much as possible.
2. Run a cool mist vaporizer in your child’s room.
3. If your child is working hard at breathing, go into the bathroom and run the hot water in the shower to create a steamy room. This thins the mucus lining the airway. Another effective measure is to dress him warmly and go out into the cool, night air. This helps decrease swelling in the airway lining. Relax your child by rocking, reading, singing, etc. Crying only worsens the “symptoms”. If there is no improvement in 10 to 20 minutes, call the office or pediatrician on call. Your child may need special breathing treatments, steroid medications, and/or oxygen.

Call the Office or Urgent Care Immediately if:

1. Your child is becoming less alert or responsive,
2. Your child can’t lie down because his breathing becomes increasingly difficult,
3. Your child becomes very agitated or panicky, struggling to breathe.
4. Your child’s lips become blue, or
5. The raspy breathing noise doesn’t clear after 10 to 20 minutes of a “steam” treatment or cold air.

 

Diarrhea
Children with diarrhea will have frequent loose or watery stools. Diarrhea is most often caused by a virus. Children may not show any other symptoms, but there may be vomiting, fever, or fussiness.

Treatment
The purpose of the following recommendations is to replace the fluids lost from the multiple, watery stools. Choosing liquids and food carefully for a few days will help decrease diarrhea and prevent dehydration. We no longer recommend children’s Kaopectate.

General Rules
1. Do not give any diarrhea medications unless instructed to do so.
2. If your infant is breast-fed, continue to nurse.
3. If there is no vomiting and only mild diarrhea, you may continue to give his regular diet with additional fluids. For moderate or severe diarrhea, we recommend limiting milk products and limiting juice.
4. Monitor your child’s urine output closely.

Infants (Under I year)
Give Pedialyte® or a similar electrolyte solution for several feedings especially if any vomiting accompanies diarrhea. These products are available at the grocery store or pharmacy near the infant formulas. Isomil® DF (DF stands for diarrhea formula) is helpful in infants with moderate or severe diarrhea. If the diarrhea is severe or prolonged (lasting longer than seven days), call our office for an appointment. Your infant will need to be weighed and examined.

Toddler and Older Children
An electrolyte solution is still recommended for this age group up to age 2. If it is not available or your child refuses to drink it, then ½ strength Gatorade may be used. (NOTE: Juices or anything sweet will often make diarrhea worse!) Foods such as rice, chicken rice soup, crackers, Rice Krispies, and yogurt, are especially helpful as part of a “diarrhea recovery diet.” Limit non-yogurt dairy and fruit juices until stools are back to normal.

Call the Office for an appointment if:
1. Your child is less than 3 months.
2. Your child is less alert or less responsive than normal.
3. Your child seems dehydrated . . . . . . he is not urinating as much as usual (Normally an infant will urinate 6 or more times in 24 hours and children will urinate four or more times in 24 hours.)
4. . . . his lips and/or mouth are dry
5. The stools contain any blood.
6. There is frequent vomiting along with diarrhea.
7. Your child has a fever which lasts for more than 2 days.
8. The stools are not normal after 7-10 days.
9. You have recently traveled to areas with uncertain water and sanitary standards.

 

Earache
There are different causes for earaches, but the most common, especially in young children and infants, is a middle ear infection. Most often, the child has a cold for a few days, and then develops ear pain (babies may tug at their ears, become fussy, and may refuse to suck). If an earache occurs at night, give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen to decrease the pain and/or numbing ear drops. The proper dosages for Tylenol and Ibuprofen can be found at the back of this booklet.

Children can also develop “swimmer’s ear” which is an outer ear infection. An appointment is necessary to visualize the ear drum and ear canal to prescribe the correct treatment.

If your child does indeed have an ear infection, he will be put on antibiotics. It is very important to complete the entire course of medication as directed and to have the child’s ears re-checked as instructed by your pediatrician to assure that the infection is cleared

 

Fever
Fever is a natural and healthy response to infection, either viral or bacterial. Fever helps the baby’s immune system fight an infection. It is part of the body’s defense against infection. Most viral infections have no specific treatment and do not respond to antibiotics. Many bacterial infections need an antibiotic to resolve.

It is important to keep several things in mind when thinking about fever:

1. A high fever does not cause damage to the brain except in extremely rare cases when the temperature reaches 107 degrees.
2. The height of the fever is not always an indication of the severity of the illness. Children tend to respond to many infections with higher temperatures than adults.
3. The temperature will normally fluctuate during the course of the illness and tends to be highest in late afternoon or night. Fluctuation does not mean your child is getting better or worse.
4. Teething is not a cause of a fever.
5. A child’s symptoms are much more important than the height of the fever. The context of a fever–associated symptoms–helps determine how serious the illness is.
6. Though uncommon, it is possible for your child, when sick with a fever, to experience a brief febrile convulsion or seizure. It is caused by the brain reacting to a sudden rise in temperature. If your child does have one, it is frightening to witness but rarely harmful. Remain calm and protect the child from injury — protect him from falling or place him on the floor, for instance. If your child experiences a seizure, call our office right away. If the seizure does not stop after 5 minutes, call 911.
7. We do not recommend ear thermometers. In our experience, they tend to overestimate fevers. A quality digital thermometer for under the arm or in the mouth is recommended.
8. Normal body temperature is 98.6 by mouth, 99.6 rectum and 97.6 under the arm.

Treatment of Fever
The main goal of treatment is to make your child more comfortable. Remember, most fevers will not harm your child. In fact, it helps fight the infection.

1. Use of fever-reducing medications: Acetaminophen (one brand name is Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (2 brand names are Advil and Motrin) can be used to help reduce fever. Do not use aspirin. Aspirin has been associated with a life-threatening illness called Reyes’Syndrome in children with chicken pox and the flu.

• Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen come in drops for infants, liquid (syrup or elixir) for toddlers, and chewable tablets for older children. Acetaminophen also comes in rectal suppositories (Feverall) if your child is vomiting and can’t keep down medicine taken by mouth.

• Keep in mind that infant drops are stronger than syrup for toddlers. For example, there is significantly more medicine in 1 tsp (5 mL) of infant drops than in 1 tsp (5 mL) of syrup for toddlers. Never give the same amount of infant drops as you would syrup. For this reason, several manufacturers announced in 2011 that they will no longer produce infant strength fever reducers. Always look carefully at the label on the drug and follow the directions. Each type of drug has different directions based upon the weight of a child.

• Acetaminophen (Tylenol) doses can be given every 4 to 6 hours, and should not exceed 5 doses in 24 hours. The correct dose for your child should always be based on his/her weight.

 

Rash
There are many different rashes with many different causes. If you are uncertain of the cause or if there are other symptoms associated with the rash, call our office for an appointment. It is difficult to diagnose rashes over the phone. If the rash itches, you may try Benadryl (diphenhydramine) to decrease the itching sensation.

 

Sore Throat
Many sore throats are caused by a virus, and as with any virus, there is no medicine or antibiotic which can cure the infection. Viral sore throats usually last 3 to 4 days and are associated with cold symptoms.

Strep throat is caused by a bacteria and therefore is treated with an antibiotic. If your child’s sore throat is not improving in 2 to 3 days, or he has a high fever, or he has been exposed to someone who has strep throat, call our office for an appointment.

If your child does indeed have strep throat, he will be put on an antibiotic. It is very important that you complete the whole course of antibiotic as directed in order to prevent a more serious complicating condition known as rheumatic fever.

 

Vomiting
Vomiting and diarrhea illnesses are most often caused by a stomach/intestine virus and are mild and self-limited. However, if the vomiting or diarrhea are moderate or severe, and your child is not able to take enough liquids, a child may lose too much body water and become dehydrated. In dehydration, the eyes look sunken, the skin loses its tone, the tongue is dry and urination or wetting is decreased. This situation might require hospitalization so that fluids can be given by vein. Special watching and care should be given to small babies with vomiting and diarrhea because they can become dehydrated much faster than older children.

Treatment
1. When vomiting occurs, you may offer your child small amounts (½ ounce) of a clear liquid (Pedialyte®, for infants, and Kaolectrolyte, half-strength Gatorade, or water for children) every few minutes. Offering large amounts all at once often distends the stomach and may result in further vomiting.
2. Gradually increase the amounts of clear liquid offered until your child is drinking as much as he wants.
3. If vomiting does reoccur go back to Step 1.
4. When the vomiting stops and as your child desires, you may progress to his regular diet. Refer to the “Diarrhea/Treatment” section in this booklet for suggested foods.
5. Keep track of how often your infant or child urinates. This is one of the most accurate means of determining if your child is dehydrated. The most accurate way to determine dehydration is to compare current weight to an accurate previous weight.
6. Do not give your child medications for vomiting unless directed to do so by your pediatrician after evaluation.

Call the Office if:
1. Your child is becoming less alert or less responsive.
2. He does not stop vomiting or refuses liquids.
3. There is blood or dark green material in the vomitus.
4. He is showing signs of dehydration such as less urination.
5. He has severe stomach pains or excessive crying along with the vomiting.
6. There is fever which does not go away in 2 to 3 days.
7. There are urinary symptoms such as pain with urination.

Vitamin D and Children: A Good Idea?

The “sunshine” vitamin is vitally important to adults and to children in developing healthy bones and maintaining a healthy immune system.

— Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

It’s well established that vitamin D is paramount to bone development, bone fracture resistance, and mood regulation. This “sunshine” vitamin also supports our immune and cardiovascular systems, and endocrine function, so it’s vitally important that we maintain adequate blood levels. Children especially need vitamin D to develop strong, healthy bones.

In a nation struggling with obesity, it’s hard to believe that we are once again seeing borderline deficiencies. Though rickets, scurvy, and pellagra seem like stories from the days of pirates and early settlers, modern science shows that we are now seeing borderline and frank deficiencies of many vitamins and minerals in the American population. It is clear that though we are overfed, we are undernourished. Furthermore, our messages regarding low-salt and skin-cancer awareness have decreased consumption of iodine and significantly impacted vitamin D levels.

Perhaps the most concerning take away from modern nutritional data is that children, particularly obese, minority children, seem to be heavily impacted. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study found that a large number of children 6-18 years of age are deficient in vitamin D.  The deficiency percentage goes way up in children who are overweight, and amongst obese kids – one-third of white, 50% of Latino, and 87% of African American children – were deficient in vitamin D.

 

Why are we lacking?

With so many fortified foods in our grocery stores and the ability of our body to make vitamin D with exposure to sunlight, why are so many kids lacking?

The most obvious answer is probably the fact that all of us, including our kids, are spending more and more of our lives indoors and engaged in sedentary pursuits, such as watching TV and working/playing on our computers and smartphones. Not only are we spending less time outdoors, we are also much more aggressive about using sunscreen to protect our skin, which dramatically decreases our ability to make vitamin D.

While vitamin D is found in some foods, it is not easy to get adequate amounts in our diet. For example, to get just 600 IU of vitamin D in your diet you would need to eat one of the following every day:

* 3–4 ounces sockeye salmon, cooked
* 11.4 ounces water-packed tuna
* 26 oil-packed sardines
* 15 large eggs
* 5 cups fortified milk OR
* 30-45 ounces yogurt

In the case of vitamin D, the best bet to ensure adequate intake is probably through the use of supplements, which are readily available at pharmacies and natural foods stores. In general, breastfed infants should be given 400 IU per day; older children 1000 IU per day, while obese children probably need closer to 2000 IU per day. Talk to your pediatrician to know what is best for your child. When choosing a vitamin D supplement, look for those that contain D3 (cholecalciferol), the most bioactive form, and take with dinner for optimal absorption.

 

More is not better

While you want to make sure you and your kids are getting adequate vitamin D – more is not better. The Institute of Medicine has set the following upper limits for vitamin D, meaning you should NOT exceed these amounts unless under the supervision of your health care provider.

* 1,000 IU/day for infants to age 6 months
* 1,500 IU/day for ages 6 months to 1 year
* 2,500 IU/day ages 1 to 3 years
* 3,000 IU/day for ages 4 to 8 years
* 4,000 IU/day anyone older than 8 years

Vitamin D, like most nutrients, does best when it is taken with its partner nutrients. Vitamin D partners well with calcium and vitamin K2. Vitamin D allows calcium to be absorbed and vitamin K2 directs it to the bone.

 

Sources

http://archneur.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2436596

http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-d/background/hrb-20060400

Turer CB, et al. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among overweight and obese US children. Pediatrics 2013; 131(1):e152-61

Children Exposed to Potentially Toxic Chemicals Daily in Household Dust

According to research led by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., household dust exposes people to numerous toxic chemicals that are associated with severe health problems. Researchers say that children are particularly at risk.
[Infants playing with toys on the floor]
Children, especially infants, are at significant risk of exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in the dust while playing and crawling on the floor.

The multi-institutional team found a broad range of toxic chemicals from everyday products accumulated in the household dust while analyzing compiled data from dust samples collected throughout the United States from multiple studies. They aimed to identify the top 10 toxic chemicals that are most commonly found in dust.

In the first-of-its-kind meta-analysis, published in Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers discovered that the number one chemical identified in household dust was DEHP, which belongs to a hazardous class of chemicals called phthalates that are used in everything from household cleaners to food packaging to cosmetics, fragrance, and personal-hygiene products.

Household dust was found to have phthalates in the highest concentration – with a mean of 7,682 nanograms per gram of dust – an amount that was several orders of magnitude above the other chemicals.

Phenols, chemicals used in cleaning products and other household items, were the second on the list of highest concentrations, followed by flame retardants and highly fluorinated chemicals that are used to make non-stick cookware.

“Our study is the first comprehensive analysis of consumer product chemicals found in household dust,” says lead author Ami Zota, Sc.D., M.S., assistant professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Milken Institute School of Public Health. “The findings suggest that people, and especially children, are exposed on a daily basis to multiple chemicals in dust that is linked to serious health problems,” she adds.

Potentially toxic chemicals from consumer products are released into the air and amalgamate with dust that settles on household furniture and the floor. Families are then exposed to the toxic dust composite through inhaling or ingesting small particles, while some minor amounts can be absorbed through the skin.

Babies, infants, and young children are at a greater risk of chemical exposure because they crawl, play on dusty floors, put their hands in their mouths, and also the mouth, suck, and chew on toys or items that could be lightly covered in dust.

From the dataset, Zota and team identified 45 potentially harmful chemicals in household dust that are used in products such as vinyl flooring, personal care and cleaning products, building materials, and home furnishings.

The authors point out that the research combines information from smaller dust studies and, as a result, offers solid conclusions with greater statistical power.

Several identified chemicals linked to cancer, developmental problems

Zota and colleagues uncovered that across multiple studies, 90 percent of dust samples contained 10 harmful chemicals including flame retardant TDCIPP – a known cancer-causing agent – often found in furniture, baby products, and other household items.

TCEP – a flame retardant added to couches, baby products, and electronics – was the chemical that had the highest estimated intake followed by the phthalates DEP, DEHP, BBzP, and DnBP. Intake of these chemicals could be underestimated, note the researchers, as these chemicals are also found in drug store products and fast food.

The four phthalates detected in dust are linked to several health hazards, such as interfering with hormones and declining IQ and respiratory problems in children.

Other chemicals that are on the upper levels of the potential harm scale are highly fluorinated chemicals including PFOA and PFOS that are found in cell phones, pizza boxes, and non-stick, waterproof, and stain-resistant products. These chemical types have been associated with immune, digestive, developmental, and endocrine system health issues.

Many of the different chemicals found in household dust can lead to the same health risks, such as cancer or developmental and reproductive toxicity. These chemicals may be working together, and even small amounts of these chemicals in combination can amplify the associated health hazards, especially in developing children.

“The number and levels of toxic and untested chemicals that are likely in every one of our living rooms was shocking to me,” says co-author Veena Singla, Ph.D., staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Harmful chemicals used in everyday products and building materials result in widespread contamination of our homes – these dangerous chemicals should be replaced with safer alternatives.”

Veena Singla, Ph.D.

Simple steps to reduce exposure to chemicals in household dust include using a strong vacuum with a HEPA filter, frequently washing hands, and avoiding all products that contain chemicals that are potentially harmful to health.

“Consumers have the power to make healthier choices and protect themselves from harmful chemicals in everyday products,” says Robin Dodson, Sc.D., an environmental exposure scientist at Silent Spring Institute.

“These things can make a real difference not only in their health but also in shifting the market toward safer products,” she concludes.

Bed-Sharing with Baby: the Risks and Benefits

A question to all you parents out there: would you share your bed with your infant? This question is likely to encourage a diverse range of answers, as it is certainly a controversial topic. Some studies say bed-sharing with a baby is beneficial, while others have linked the practice to serious health risks. So, what are new parents to do?
Mother sleeping on ned with baby
The percentage of infants who share a bed with a parent, another caregiver or a child more than doubled between 1993 and 2010, from 6.5% to 13.5%.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission strongly recommend against bed-sharing with an infant – defined as sleeping on the same surface as an infant, such as a chair, sofa or bed.

But according to a 2013 study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the percentage of infants who share a bed with a parent, another caregiver or a child more than doubled between 1993 and 2010, from 6.5% to 13.5%.

Some of you may be surprised by this increase, given the well-documented health risks that have been linked to infant bed-sharing.

Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study from the AAP citing bed-sharing as the primary cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – the leading cause of death among infants aged 1-12 months.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that among 8,207 infant deaths from 24 US states occurring between 2004-2012, 69% of infants were bed-sharing at the time of death.

“Bed-sharing may increase the risk of overheating, rebreathing or airway obstruction, head covering and exposure to tobacco smoke. All of these are risk factors for SIDS,” Dr. Michael Goodstein, clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Pennsylvania State University and a member of the AAP Task Force for SIDS, told MNT, adding:

“Furthermore, bed-sharing in an adult bed not designed for infant safety exposes the infant to additional risks for accidental injury and death, such as suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment, falls and strangulation.

Infants – particularly those in the first 3 months of life and those born prematurely and/or with low birth weight – are at highest risk, possibly because immature motor skills and muscle strength make it difficult to escape potential threats.”

More recently, another study from the AAP found that even sleeping with an infant on a sofa significantly increases the risk of SIDS. Of 9,073 sleep-related infant deaths, researchers found that 12.9% occurred on sofas. The majority of these infants were sharing the sofa with another individual when they died.

Aside from the study statistics, some reports have shown that the risks of infant death as a result of bed-sharing are very real.

In 2012, UK newspaper The Daily Mail reported on the deaths of 3-week-old twin babies in Idaho, who died after their mother accidentally suffocated them while they were sleeping in her bed. A few months later, the newspaper reported on another incident, in which a mother accidentally suffocated her baby while rolling over him in her sleep.

Most recently, a report from WQAD.com revealed that a man and woman had been charged for the death of their 4-month-old baby, after sleeping beside the baby while under the influence and rolling on top of him.

According to the AAP, bed-sharing is particularly risky if a parent is very tired, has been smoking, using alcohol or has taken drugs.

Such reports prompt the question: if bed-sharing can put an infant’s life at risk, why are more parents taking up the practice?

Bed-sharing and breastfeeding

The primary reason many mothers choose to bed-share with their infant is to promote prolonged breastfeeding.

Mother breastfeeding her baby while bed-sharing
Last year, a study claimed that mothers who bed-share with their infants are more likely to breastfeed.

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine supports bed-sharing when it comes to breastfeeding. And last year, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggested that mothers who regularly bed-share with their infants are more likely to breastfeed for longer. Numerous other studies have reached the same conclusion.

But it is not just the studies that hail bed-sharing for promoting breastfeeding. Pediatrician Dr. William Sears is possibly the most famous advocate for bed-sharing, after openly supporting the practice in The Baby Book in 1993.

“Put yourself in the eyes of your baby,” Dr. Sears told The Huffington Post in 2011. “Ask, ‘If I were baby Johnny or baby Suzy, where would I rather sleep?’ In a dark lonely room behind bars, or nestled next to my favorite person in the world, inches away from my favorite cuisine?”

For many mothers, breastfeeding can be a struggle. They have to pull themselves out of bed on numerous occasions throughout the night and try to stay awake while their infant feeds; doing this night after night can be exhausting, causing many mothers to give up breastfeeding altogether.

This is why many parents see bed-sharing as a viable option; the baby can feed while the mother can get more sleep.

Citing the benefits of bed-sharing for breastfeeding in a blog for The Huffington Post, Diana West, of La Leche League International – a nonprofit organization that promotes breastfeeding – says:

“Bed-sharing works so well because breastfeeding mothers and babies are hardwired to be together during vulnerable sleep periods. When they bed-share, the baby’s happier and doesn’t have to cry to get the mother’s attention, and she doesn’t have to get out of bed – she just latches the baby on and maybe even falls back to sleep.”

“She automatically lies on her side facing the baby with her lower arm up and knee bent,” West adds. “This creates a protected ‘cove’ that keeps her from rolling toward the baby and prevents anyone else from rolling into that space. The baby stays oriented toward her breasts in that safe cove, away from pillows. Their sleep-wake cycles synchronize so that they both have low-stress, low-level arousals through the night.”

“This instinctive and mutually beneficial behavior probably explains why research has shown that the new mothers who get the most sleep are the ones who breastfeed exclusively and bed-share,” she says.

Dr. Goodstein told us, however, that there have been no studies assessing whether room-sharing with an infant rather than bed-sharing also promotes breastfeeding.

What are the other potential benefits and risks of bed-sharing?

Contrary to the majority of research on bed-sharing, some health care professionals claim bed-sharing with an infant actually reduces the risk of SIDS – if it is done safely.

Dr. Sears is one of these, noting that in countries where bed-sharing is common practice – such as Asia, Africa and parts of Europe – SIDS rates are at their lowest. “While there could be many other factors contributing to the lower incidence of SIDS in these cultures, all the population studies I’ve seen have come to the same conclusion: safe co-sleeping lowers the SIDS risk,” Dr. Sears says on his website.

Dr. Goodstein, however, believes there is not enough evidence to support this claim.

Studies have suggested that bed-sharing with an infant also increases bonding between parent and baby. Talking to Fox News last year, pediatrician Dr. Susan Markel says:

“Babies have an inborn need to be touched and held. They enjoy having physical closeness day and night, and this kind of connection is essential to meet a baby’s needs for warmth, comfort, and security.”

But some health care professionals believe the risk of SIDS outweighs the potential benefits of bed-sharing. What is more, bed-sharing may present other downfalls.

“Many [parents] believe that if you allow children to sleep in your bed from birth, it can be hard to persuade them to move out later,” Sarah Crown, editor of the UK’s biggest community network for parents, Mumsnet, told MNT.

In addition, some parents believe bed-sharing with an infant will make them more dependent on others as they get older. “I think it teaches kids that they almost need that constant contact and interaction in order to feel that safety, security, and confidence in themselves,” Jennifer Zinzi – a mother of two who strongly opposes bed-sharing – told Fox News.

A 2011 study published in the journal Pediatrics, however, found that bed-sharing at age 1-3 years poses no negative long-term effects on a child’s behavior and cognition at the age of 5 years.

‘No golden rule’ for bed-sharing

Despite the ongoing debate surrounding bed-sharing, it seems child health organizations and health care professionals are in agreement about one thing: the decision to bed share with infants is solely down to the parents.

“There is no golden rule,” Crown told us. “It’s about what suits you and your family more than anything. But Mumsnet users find that talking to those who’ve been there and done that, and sharing wisdom and support on the often vexed question of sleeping in the early days, is invaluable.”

Dr. Goodstein added:

“I think that at the end of the day, parents want to be the best they can be and provide the best for their babies. As providers and child advocates, we want to assist parents by providing the best information to allow infants to not just be healthy, but to thrive and reach their full potential.

We need to work together. We need to do everything we can to promote breastfeeding. We also need to promote infant sleep safety.”

AAP recommendations for safe infant sleeping environments

As mentioned previously, the AAP do not support bed-sharing. Instead, they recommend room-sharing, meaning parents should sleep in the same room as their infants but not on the same surface.

Sleeping newborn baby
The AAP recommend that babies should be placed on their back to sleep – known as the supine position – in a safety-approved crib, bassinet or portable crib/play yard. These should have a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet.

In their latest policy statement, the AAP recommend that babies should be placed on their back to sleep – known as the supine position – in a safety-approved crib, bassinet or portable crib/play yard. These should have a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet.

The policy statement also recommends that no soft objects, such as pillows, pillow-like toys, quilts, comforters, and sheepskins should be within the infant’s sleeping environment, as these could increase the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment and strangulation.

Furthermore, babies should sleep in a smoke-free environment, and their environment should not be too warm as this may increase the risk of SIDS.

The AAP say parents should consider using a pacifier at bedtime, as this has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS, but should avoid the use of commercial devices marketed to reduce SIDS risk due to the lack of supporting evidence that they work.

“Helping parents to understand why they should follow these recommendations could lead to better compliance in the home,” said Dr. Goodstein.

Safer bed-sharing

Parents may choose to bed-share with their child, or there may be those occasions where it happens unexpectedly.

The Baby Friendly Initiative from UNICEF – a global children’s charity – provides recommendations for safer bed-sharing.

They note that it is not safe to bed-share in the early months of a baby’s life, or if they are preterm or of a small birth weight.

An infant should be kept away from pillows to avoid the risk of suffocation, UNICEF recommends, and parents should ensure the infant is unable to fall out of the bed or become trapped between the mattress and wall.

Parents should also ensure bedclothes do not cover the baby’s face, and infants should not be left alone on the bed in case they move into a dangerous position.

Furthermore, parents should not share a bed with their child if they are a smoker or have taken drugs or consumed alcohol.

For further information on safe infant sleep practices, visit healthychildren.org – a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics.