Infants Should Sleep in Parents’ Room Say New Guidelines for Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES                                                         
 At a national conference last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their SIDS prevention guidelines. Based on new research, the updated recommendations call for infants to sleep in the same room (but NOT the same bed) as the parents (or caregiver), for the first 6 months of life.

For a summary of the update: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313660.php

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The CDC defines SIDS as the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history. About 1,500 infants die each year of SIDS making it the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months

Following are the new AAP SIDS Prevention Guidelines:

1.      Infants should sleep in the same room as the parents/caregivers for at least the first 6 months, but not in the parents’ or caregiver’s bed. (This is a new guideline)

2.      The crib or bassinet should be bare.
Pillows, bumpers, blankets or toys should not be in with the baby.

3.      The crib/bassinet mattress should be firm with a tight fitting sheet.
Infants should not be put on a couch/sofa, chair or any other soft padded surface to sleep.  

4.      Infants should be placed flat on their backs to sleep.
Blankets, pillows, wedges or toys should not be used to prop the baby on the side

5.      Infants should not be exposes to smoke, alcohol or drugs.

6.      Babies should be breast-fed and put in the crib or bassinet afterwards if it’s nap or bedtime.

In addition:

  • Give/offer the baby a pacifier at nap and bedtime

  • Do not use home monitoring devices or special pillows or wedges advertised as reducing SIDS risk.

  • Ensure the baby gets the recommended vaccinations

For more information:

Centers for Disease Control – SIDS

American SIDS Institute

Healthy Lifestyle in Later Life Means More Disability-Free Years
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

A 25 year study of almost 6000 people aged 65 and older published in the American Journal of Geriatrics found that those with healthy lifestyle habits lived out about 80% of their remaining years without disabilities,  while those with the least healthy lifestyles lived 55-60% of their remaining years disability-free. Healthy lifestyles meant longer, better lives.

Article summary: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_161371.html

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The take away from this research is - the more healthy habits we have in our later years,  the longer we live disability-free.  The healthy habits looked at in the study above included: no smoking, regular exercise, healthy diet, and healthy weight.

Not Smoking

For starters, the most important health behavior to have is not smoking. So, if you smoke, it’s the one habit out of all of them that should be changed. Smoking causes a whole host of diseases that can result in disability and early death including:

Lung cancer and at least 10 other cancers (cervical, stomach, pancreatic, colon, liver, kidney, bladder, larynx, esophageal, pharynx)  
Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD)
Heart Disease
Cataracts, Age related Macular Degeneration

For more information on ways to quit smoking:

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:
Strategies to Quit Smoking

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
How to Quit

Physical Activity

Not enough can be said about the importance of physical activity. If you’re looking for the fountain of youth – exercise is it. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym or running a marathon. It can be something as simple as walking more and sitting less.

Examples of Aerobic Activities

Aerobic exercise classes
 Bicycle riding
 Golf (without a cart)
 Some activities of yard work/gardening (e.g., raking, pushing a lawn mower)
Swimming, water aerobics
Tennis or racquetball
Walking, jogging

Muscle-strengthening activities

Carrying groceries
 Using exercise bands, weight machines, or handheld weights
 Some activities of yard work/gardening (e.g., lifting, digging, carrying)
 Some yoga and tai chi exercises
Washing windows or the floor
Adapted from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 physical activity guidelines for 
 Americans. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines.

For more information on physical activity for older adults:

Centers for Disease Control:
How Much Physical Activity Do Older Adults Need?

American  Academy of Family Physician:
Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is key to a healthy lifestyle. That means a diet with nutritious foods from all of the food groups - lean protein or plant protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber and sufficient fluid.

MyPlate.gov offers these suggestions for older adults:

  • Use spices and herbs instead of salt to add flavor to food
  • Add fruits and vegetable to your meals and snacks, and use pre-sliced ones if slicing and chopping is a challenge.
  • Talk with your doctor about medication options if the ones you take affect your appetite or change your desire to eat.
  • Drink water, flavored seltzer or unsweetened iced tea instead of sugary drinks.
  • Eat foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals.
For more information on what constitutes a healthy diet for older adults:

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):
Choose MyPlate – Older Adults

American Heart Association:
Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations

Healthy Weight

To find out your healthy weight  based on your BMI (body mass index), use the BMI table at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi_tbl.htm  or the BMI calculator: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html

Body mass index is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Generally, the higher the BMI, the more body fat a person has. However, BMI is not always as accurate as we'd like it to be, especially for people who are more muscular. Since muscle is heavier than fat, a muscular person will have a higher BMI, but not necessarily more body fat.

Keep in mind that the goal is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, not just lose weight by dieting and gaining it back. Dieting is not the way to go – permanently changing the way you eat, is.  

For more information about healthy weight loss:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Healthy weight loss

American Heart Association:
Losing weight

Breast Cancer: Not for Women Only

 Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

In 2016, approximately 246,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and it will claim the lives of over 40,000.  While generally regarded as a female cancer, in fact, 2600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 440 will die from it.

Although male breast cancer is very rare, it does happen. And when it does, it often isn’t found until late in the disease process. Men don’t look for it and don’t have mammograms to help find it in its earliest stages. Just as women should know the factors associated with its development, so should men. Some of them are the same, some are obviously different. Most cannot be controlled, but there are some that can be, and it makes sense to do whatever  we can to lessen the chances of it developing.

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The average risk of a man developing breast cancer is 1 out of 1000, for a woman it’s 1 out of 8 over her lifetime.

The following are lifestyle risk factors for breast cancer in both men and women that we can control:

 Excess body weight

Excess body weight (fat tissue) leads to increased estrogen levels. Estrogen fuels the growth of  about 74% of these cancers .  In women, during the time between menarche and menopause most of the estrogen comes from the ovaries. At menopause, when the ovaries stop producing it, most of it then comes from fat tissue. The more fat tissue the more estrogen, the more estrogen the greater the risk of breast cancer. Overweight women have a 1.5 time greater risk of breast cancer than normal weight women, obese women have a 2 time greater risk.

In men, an enzyme in fat tissue changes testosterone to estrogen. Excess fat tissue means more estrogen which can increase the risk of breast cancer.

For information about healthy ways to get to a healthy weight – the National Institutes of Health offers a number of suggestions at this link: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/behavior.htm

Physical inactivity

Physical inactivity affects weight (see above) and hormones levels. Regular exercise not only contributes to weight control, it may decrease estrogen levels and boost the immune system. (National Cancer Institute)

Data from the National Institutes of Health - Women’s Health Initiative, found that 75 – 150 minutes (1.25 – 2.5 hours)  of brisk walking a week reduced breast cancer risk by 18%.

The American Cancer Society recommends at least 150 minutes of moderately intense or 75 minutes of vigorously intense activity each week.

A brisk walk is an example of a moderate activity.  During a brisk walk, your heart rates goes up a little and you breath a little faster. You’re able to talk while walking, but you can’t sing.

Vigorous activities increase your heart rate, make you breathe faster and sweat.

Alcohol consumption

Alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. The more you drink, the greater the risk. Compared to women who don’t drink, those who have 1 drink a day have a very small increase in risk. Those who have 2 to 5 drinks a day increase their risk about 1½ times,

Men with a liver disease like cirrhosis from alcohol have low levels of male hormones and higher estrogen levels which increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women limit their alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink a day and men to two. (One drink is A drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.


Risk factors for both men and women that cannot be controlled include:

·         Age (60+)

·         Genetic mutations or having the breast cancer genes
          (BRCA 1 and/or 2) (The risk for a man with a BRCA1
           mutation is 1 in 5, with a BRCA 2 mutation, it’s 6 out of

·         Having first-degree relatives  - parents, siblings or children
           with a history of breast cancer

·         Having had high-dose radiation to chest

Other risk factors for men that cannot be controlled include:

            Testicular disorders
            Enlarged breasts (gynecomastia)
            Klinefeller’s Syndrome (rare genetic where male is born with 
                extra X chromosome – XXY instead of XY – which causes higher levels of
                estrogen to be produced)

Other risk factors for women that cannot be controlled include:

            High estrogen or testosterone levels (postmenopausal)

            Extremely dense breasts

            Ashkenazi Jewish heritage

            Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure

            Early menarche (menstruation before age 12)

            Late age at first full-term pregnancy (after age 30 )

            Late menopause (after age 55 years)

            Never breastfed a child

            No full-term pregnancies

            Personal history of endometrium, ovary, or colon cancer

            Recent and long-term use of menopausal hormone    

While it’s important to do all we can to decrease our risk of developing breast cancer, it doesn’t mean we’ll always be able to prevent breast cancer. We still need to be aware of changes in our bodies and see a health care professional if any occur.

The symptoms of breast cancer are the same for both men and women and include:

  •   A lump in the breast or under the arm which is usually painless (in men the lump is most often behind the nipple)

  •  Any puckering of the skin

  • Nipple discharge (other than during breastfeeding)

  • Redness, scaling or thickening of the nipple or skin

  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)


For more information:

American Society of Clinical Oncology – Male breast cancer

For more information:

American Society of Clinical Oncology –
        Male breast cancer

National Cancer Institute

            Breast Cancer

American Cancer Society

            2016 Cancer Facts and Figures
                 http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research                    /documents/document/acspc-047079.pdf

            2015-2016 Breast Cancer Facts and Figures

            Breast cancer in men

National Library of Medicine

             Breast Cancer

            Obesity and male breast cancer

              Breast Cancer    - https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast

More than 90% of U.S. teens do not get enough exercise.
Do yours?
Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

A study published last week in the journal Pediatrics  that followed students from 44 high schools across the country for four years (10-12th grade and the first year after graduation) found more than 90% of them did not meet the minimum daily recommendation of 60 minutes of moderate–vigorous activity, which means slightly less than 9% did, or less than 1 out of 10.

Article summary: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_161158.html

Full article: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/4/e20161372

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Physical activity is a key behavior that contributes substantially to health and well-being throughout our lives. Since many of our health behaviors are established early in life, the results of this study do not bode well for the lifelong health of our children. Bottom line – we have to get our kids moving!  

So, what can parents do? Here are some suggestions:

1.       Build exercise into the daily schedule – identify good times throughout the day and for each day of the week where time for exercise can be scheduled in, just like other activities are.

2.       Have your teen choose the activities –  Here’s a list of possibilities to get started:

      Walk instead of getting a ride

       Play touch football, soccer, volleyball, tennis, shoot hoops,               etc.




       Swim laps

       Jump rope


        Join a team at school

       Walk the dog – twice each day

      Take yoga classes

Household chores count as activity too, so... wash the car, clear the table, cook, wash the floor, vacuum, mow the lawn, shovel snow, rake leaves.

3.      Start slowly – build up to the 60 minutes, 10 minutes at a time. For example, start off with a 10 minute walk after school or dinner. Use a reward system to encourage adherence and increased activity time, but avoid using food as the reward.

 4.      Vary the activity – the physical activity does not have to be the same thing every day. Vary it from day to day and incorporate being more active into the daily routine.  

5.         Limit screen time – the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time a day.

If this isn’t possible, then:

        set an alarm and taking a break every 45 minutes – 1 hour.             This break time could be used to walk  for 10 minutes, even         if it means walking from room to room or up and down                 stairs.  

        Exercise while watching TV, walk around the room, stretch,         do some yoga poses, use hand weights – do something other         than sit!

6.      Use an app – Have your teen download an activity or pedometer app and aim for
                          10,000 steps a day.

7.      Be a good role model – incorporating activity into your life and the regular flow of the household will encourage and support your teen.

-When shopping, park farther away from the store entrance to encourage walking
-When driving your teen to school or an event, drop him/her off away from the entrance
-Support and encourage your teen to try different activities/sports

For more information:

American Academy of Pediatrics – Healthy Children.org

Cooper Institute – Using their phones to encourage activity

National Institutes of Health -  Everyday ideas to move more

President’s Challenge – Adult Fitness Test

President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition