Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Alabama Pool Reopens After Parasite Sickens

Spring Valley Beach's pool had been closed due to suspected cryptosporidiosis case.
Image courtesy CDC
Alexander J. da Silva, PhD
Melanie Moser
Alabama health officials announced last week that the Spring Valley Beach Waterpark in Blountsville has been cleared to reopen. The pool was closed on the 14th after reports of parasitic contamination.

At least 2 people have been diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis after visiting the pool in July. Health officials never actually disclosed if Cryptosporidium was confirmed to have been found in the park's water but said that the pool had been hyperchlorinated to kill off any potential contaminates.

“Based on the actions taken by the park management, we believe this does not present a public health concern at this time,” said agency spokesperson Lem Burell.

Cryptosporidiosis is a parasitic disease caused by any one of the more than 2 dozen protozoans in the Cryptosporidium genus. In humans, it presents mainly as a gastrointestinal illness with diarrhea as the main symptom and dehydration as a primary risk. In otherwise healthy people, it is generally short-lived but in someone who is immunocompromised, the illness can actually be fatal.

Cryptosporidiosis is believed to be the most common waterborne disease in the US and among the most common worldwide.

The agency did not give any details about the 2 confirmed patients or update their conditions.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Xenith Football Helmets Recalled - 29 Incidents

Nearly 6000 Xenith football helmets are recalled after 29 reports of helmets cracking.
Image courtesy Consumer Product Safety Commission
Detroit-based Xenith, LLC has announced a recall of football helmets that the company says could crack. If that happens, it could increase the chance of head injuries.

About 5900 of these potentially defective helmets are believed to be on the markets, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC. They were available from May of 2015 through most of March of 2016.

The helmets were sold through school athletic programs and at stores like BSN, Buddy’s All Stars, Carey’s Sporting Goods, End Zone Sports and Sports, Inc. They were also widely available online at websites like,,, and

They were sold in several colors.

New, the helmets retailed for around $140 up to around $400.

The company says that it is aware of 29 instances in which helmets cracked. No actual injuries have been reported to either the company or the CPSC so far.

If you think you might have one of the recalled helmets, you're urged to look for a white sticker inside the helmet. You should see a serial number printed there.  Xenith, for reasons the company did not explain, is not currently providing a list of affected serial numbers, contrary to what was said in a CPSC press release. Instead, the company is offering a fill-in form in which you'll enter your serial number to check it.

If you do find a recalled helmet you are, of course, urged to stop using it and contact Xenith for a free replacement.

You'll enter this code at Xenith's website to see if your helmet is among those recalled.
How to find your Xenith helmet's serial number.

If you would like more information about this recall you can call Xenith during business hours at 800-956-9022.

All the recalled helmets were manufactured in the US.

It is against US law to knowingly sell a recalled product.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Swaddling Linked to SIDS

A new study in the journal Pediatrics links the practice of swaddling to an increased risk of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome. The overall increase is about 30%, say researchers, but varies with sleep positions and the baby's age.

For this study, scientists combed through data from 4 previously published studies that looked at swaddling. Combined, those studies covered hundreds of infants whose deaths were attributed to SIDS.

The authors of the study acknowledge that their findings should be looked at with a skeptical eye because, among other reasons, there are so few studies looking at the safety of swaddling and no real agreement among parents or doctors on what, exactly, "swaddling" means.

But the authors do suggest that pediatricians urge parents to discontinue the practice by the time the baby is six months old. In babies six months old or older the SIDS rate for swaddled infants doubles.

Sleeping position may also be a factor. There is evidence that placing swaddled babies on their backs--the preferred position whether swaddling is done or not--is safest. Side sleeping is less safe than supine; putting a swaddled baby to bed on his tummy is statistically the most dangerous.

Swaddling is a millennia-old practice of enclosing a young child's body in a wrapping so that his movements are restricted. It is a controversial practice, with some researchers claiming swaddling can reduce pain and comfort babies experiencing opioid withdrawal while others warn of overheating and abnormal hip development.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

White Noise Benefits Kids With ADHD

The study was published in Behavioral and Brain Functions.
Do you use white noise with ADHD kids?
Leave us a comment with your thoughts.
A very small study published in the medical journal Behavioral and Brain Functions finds that adding "white" noise to an ADHD child's environment could significantly improve his cognitive function.

What the scientists behind this study did was to put 15 kids with ADHD, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and 15 typically developing children through a series of activities.

They then had the kids repeat the activities with white noise going in the background.

What they discovered was the ADHD kids completed just as many activities as the typically developing children while the white noise was present.

The white noise did not decrease the number of eye blinks in ADHD kids, though. This suggests that the white noise is not affecting the kids' dopamine levels, as had been assumed.

Nationwide, it is estimated that around 5% of all children meet at least the minimal criteria for an ADHD diagnosis, although that number is higher in some populations and may actually be closer to 11%.

It is also estimated that most preschoolers with an ADHD diagnosis are not being given the preferred combo-treatment of medication with behavioral therapy but are treated with medication only.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ezekiel Stephan's Father Calls Jury "Played"

David Stephan now takes aim at the jury.
David Stephan has directly and publicly called out members of the jury that, last month, convicted him and his wife on the charge of "failing to provide the necessaries of life" after their son died of bacterial meningitis that the couple reportedly tried to treat with "herbal" remedies.

Calling the jury members "played" by the Canadian government, Stephan wrote in a Facebook post that his (and his wife's) conviction has set a "dangerous precedent" for all of Canada.  "My main concern is no longer for Collet and I," Stephan says, "but rather for Canadian's [sic] as a whole."

The Stephans' supporters have, as you would expect, posted in droves their own messages of support. Several mentioned the number of hospital patients who die as a result of medical errors while others called out journalists for "biased" coverage of the trial.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Tighten Alcohol Restrictions For All To Reduce Teen Deaths

The authors of a new study being presented today at the Pediatric Academic Societies says that if communities where alcohol is legal to buy would tighten up existing regulations, it would make a real dent in the number of teens killed in alcohol-related automobile accidents.

“In fact, policies targeting the overall population of adults and youth—policies like taxes, limits on hours and locations of sales, and strict rules on drinking and driving for everyone, not just youth—appeared to be the most protective," said the study's lead author, Scott Hadland. Hadland is a pediatrician at Harvard Medical School.

Auto accidents are a leading cause of death for US teens and alcohol is involved in a quarter to a third of those fatalities. To reduce those fatalities, Hadland will argue, booze-legal communities should implement changes like:

  • Increasing taxes to increase the price of alcohol
  • Limiting the hours in which alcohol can be sold
  • Limiting the number of outlets allowed to sell alcohol
  • Strengthening existing DUI laws 

Other measures Hadland is expected to advocate for will specifically address teens. Those ideas include:

  • Punishing parents who allow their teens to drink at home
  • Implementing a graduated driver licensing system

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ezekiel Stephan's Parents Guilty

Ezekiel Stephan died in 2012 after his parents allegedly ignored a nurse's advice and attempted to treat a bacterial infection with nutrition and supplements.
Screen grab of Collet Stephan's Facebook page,
captured 04-27-2016 and used under Fair Use.
Canadian media are reporting that David Stephan and Collet Stephan have been found guilty on the charge of "failing to provide the necessaries of life" as defined by Canada's Criminal Code.

Ezekiel Stephan died in 2012 after he was declared brain dead and removed from life support at Alberta Children's Hospital. It was later confirmed that he had suffered from bacterial meningitis.

The "necessaries of life" in this case is appropriate medical care. The Stephans, who run a supplements company founded by David's father, acknowledge turning to "natural" treatments for what they thought was flu or croup. Those "treatments" included foods like garlic, onions and peppers.

Testifying at the trial was a family friend who is a registered nurse. This friend claims that she advised Collet that little Ezekiel could have meningitis and should be seen by a physician. The parents ignored her advice.

The Stephens did, according to police records, looked up meningitis online. They incorrectly diagnosed Ezekiel with viral meningitis, instead of the bacterial infection he actually had.

According to the official Physician Report, Ezekiel was "too stiff" on the morning he died to be placed in his car seat while his parents ran an errand, yet, still, the Stephans did not take him to the hospital. It was only that night, after he stopped breathing, that his parents called for an ambulance.

Ezekiel had reportedly never seen a physician in his life, until shortly before he died.
David Stephan calls his trial "abusive".
The maximum sentence for "failing to provide the necessaries of life" is 5 years. Legal experts say it's unlikely that either David Stephan or Collet Stephan will serve that long.

In a Facebook post made last week, David called the trial, "6 weeks of an abusive process" that was perpetrated as a "cover up" to "shift accountability from the government over to me and my wife."