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Are household disinfectants making kids overweight? Study finds possible link

Obesity affects nearly 1 in 6 children in the United States, according to new data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State of Obesity report. And new findings from the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveal there may be more contributing to that stat than overeating.

>> On AJC.com: Georgia adult, teen obesity rates among worst in America

Overweight children are approximately five times more likely to be obese or overweight as adults, increasing risk for chronic diseases and health issues like diabetes, hypertension and obesity-related cancers. While some people are more likely to be affected by obesity — older women, Hispanic men and black women — new research suggests postnatal exposure to certain household disinfectants may be linked to being overweight.

>> On AJC.com: One-third of all humans are now overweight — and American children are leading the way

The findings, published Monday in the CMAJ, involve data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study, which began in 2009.

Researchers closely followed participants from mid-pregnancy into childhood and adolescence and examined fecal samples for infants at 3-4 months of age in addition to survey responses about their home and use of disinfectant products.

>> On AJC.com: 5 things moms can do to reduce child obesity risk, according to a new study

Of the 757 infants profiled, 80 percent came from households that used disinfectant products on a weekly basis, typically multi-surface cleaners. The emphasis on cleanliness, researchers said, has led to widening use of the products.

In the study, they noted an increase of a gut bacteria called Lachnospiraceae in infant stool with increased use of disinfectants or eco-friendly cleaners, but they found no similar association when washing detergents without the bacteria-killing ingredients were used.

>> On AJC.com: Obesity linked to 11 types of cancer as overweight population grows, study says 

It’s known “from animal studies that higher levels of Lachnospiraceaehave been associated with higher body fat and insulin resistance,” senior author Anita Kozyrskyj said in a podcast related to the research.

According to the findings, infants from households that used antimicrobial disinfectants weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of Lachnospiraceae and then, after age 3, they were also more likely to have a higher body mass index than children from homes where disinfectants were not as frequently used.

In addition to higher levels of Lachnospiraceae, infants from frequent disinfectant use households had lowered abundance of Haemophilusand Clostridium bacteria, a combined profile similar to children with eczema.

>> On AJC.com: Study: Strain on parents’ time linked to childhood obesity

“Elevated fecal abundance of Lachnospiraceae (specifically Blautia) concurrent with lowered Haemophilus is also a signature of diabetes, as shown in a study on 11-year-old children,” researchers wrote.

“These results suggest that gut microbiota were the culprit in the association between disinfectant use and the overweight,” Kozyrskyj added in the podcast interview.

Gut microbiota, gut flora or gastrointestinal microbiota refers to the “complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

>> On AJC.com: Scientists discover surprisingly simple way to fight childhood obesity

“Indeed, concerns over the potential for antibacterial products to be too effective or even toxic has motivated use of “green” or eco-friendly alternatives,” researchers said. 

But though eco-friendly alternatives showed different microbiota and lower levels of the bacteria Enterobacteriaceae, plus lower rates of overweight children, study authors didn’t provide a link between the altered gut microbiota and reduced childhood obesity or overweight risk.

Due to the lack of convincing data, Kozyrskyj told CNN she’s not ready to recommend eco-friendly alternatives, but she has personally switched out popular disinfectants with DIY vinegar cleaning solutions.

>> Read more trending news 

Kozyrskyj and her colleagues concluded that antibacterial cleaning products “have the capacity to change the environmental microbiome and alter risk for child overweight,” but further research into the mechanisms through which the products alter gut microbiota and the impact on metabolism is needed.

Read the full study at cmaj.ca.

Hurricane Florence aftermath: 6 scary, infectious illnesses you can catch from floodwater

Hurricanes can leave behind tons of damage, including flooding. But did you know that treading through the wrong kind of water can cause illnesses or even death?

>> On WSOCTV.com: Tracking Florence: Live updates from the Carolinas

Floodwaters and standing water are often contaminated, posing several risks, such as infectious diseases, chemical hazards and injuries.

>> PHOTOS: Deadly Florence soaks the Carolinas

Here are six sicknesses you should beware of in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence:

Diarrheal diseases

Drinking or eating anything that has come in contact with floodwaters can lead to cryptosporidiosis, E. coli or giardiasis. While cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are brought on by parasites, E. coli is caused by bacteria.

>> Hurricane Florence: Here’s how you can help

Symptoms from each include diarrhea, gas, nausea and vomiting. Cryptosporidiosis, however, can even be fatal for those with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS or cancer. 

Wound infections

Open wounds and rashes that are exposed to floodwater can cause tetanus or Vibrio vulnificus. Tetanus is a bacterial infection, and it can enter the body through breaks in the skin like a cut.

>> 10 tips to stay safe when returning home after a natural disaster

Vibrio vulnificus, another bacteria, can be contracted the same way. Many people become infected by consuming undercooked shellfish or exposing an injury to brackish or salt water.

Other illnesses 

People affected by flooded areas can also get trench foot. It occurs when your feet are wet for long periods of time. It can cause pain, swelling and numbness.

>> Read more trending news 

You should also be aware of chemical hazards from materials that may have spilled into the water. And be cautious of electrical hazards, since there are puddles that may be electrified due to fallen power lines.

Curious about other diseases you can catch? Take a look at the full list at CDC’s official website

Eggs sold in 3 states recalled amid salmonella fears

Before you make eggs this week, it's important to know that Gravel Ridge Farms recalled cage-free large eggs because they might be contaminated with salmonella.

>> Salmonella: Signs and symptoms of infection

The company said it recalled packages containing one dozen and 2 1/2 dozen eggs in cardboard containers with UPC code 7-06970-38444-6.

The recalled eggs have "best if used by" dates of July 25, 2018, through Oct. 3, 2018, and were sold in grocery stores and to restaurants in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

>> Read more trending news 

Gravel Ridge Farms is warning customers to not eat, sell or serve the recalled eggs. Customers are urged to return them to the store for a refund or throw them away.

No deaths have been reported.

For a full list of locations where recalled eggs were sold, click here.

Detroit schools shut off drinking water over lead, copper contamination

Four years after reports surfaced that tap water in Flint, Michigan, was contaminated with lead, Detroit's public school district is shutting off drinking water after tests revealed large amounts of lead or copper at a majority of its schools.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti decided to turn off the water at the district's 24 schools after "water in 16 of them was found to have high levels" of the substances.

>> Read more trending news 

"Although we have no evidence that there are elevated levels of copper or lead in our other schools where we are awaiting test results, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees, I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools," Vitti said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday.

District officials said aging water fixtures may have caused the contamination, the AP reported. The Great Lakes Water Authority, which provides water to the schools, "says its water surpasses all federal standards," according to the AP.

Over 40,000 students attend schools in the district, whose school year begins next week.

Read more here or here.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Deadly salmonella outbreak linked to kosher chicken

Salmonella has sickened 17 people in four states and one person has died, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eight people reportedly were so sick that they had to be hospitalized. 

>> Backyard chickens, ducks linked to salmonella outbreaks in 44 states, CDC says

The illnesses have been linked to kosher chicken, officials said. Several people reported getting sick after eating Empire-brand kosher chicken. Empire is the largest producer of kosher poultry in the United States. 

Four states have reported people who have fallen ill: New York has had 11 cases and one death; four were sickened in Pennsylvania; and Maryland and Virginia also have reported cases.

The earliest illness linked to this outbreak began Sept. 25, 2017, and the most recent case began June 4 of this year.

>> Salmonella: Signs and symptoms of infection

Salmonella illness usually begins between 12 and 72 hours after consuming the bacteria, health officials said. Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps and can last four to seven days.

Children younger than 5, adults older than 65 and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop severe illness when exposed to salmonella.

The CDC estimates that salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths in the United States every year. Food is the source for about 1 million of these illnesses.

>> Read more trending news 

Dr. Laura Gieraltowski with the CDC said: "CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating kosher chicken products or that retailers stop selling raw kosher chicken products. Chicken including kosher chicken is safe to eat if it's handled carefully and cooked thoroughly." 

Always handle raw chicken carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning. This outbreak is a reminder that raw chicken products can have germs that spread around food preparation areas and can make you sick.

Why whooping cough is making a comeback

After a week with a dry cough, Karen Andes’ son started experiencing middle-of-the-night coughing fits so severe, he couldn’t talk. He returned home from his first trip to the urgent care clinic in mid-July with an inhaler and a five-day course of steroids.

The coughing fits didn’t abate, and after a few days, the Decatur, Georgia, teenager jumped out of bed and got his mom’s attention by clapping his hands, unable to get any words out. He gasped for air, tears running down his face.

>> On AJC.com: 5 things every parent should know about immunization

His mother took him to another doctor, who suggested he may have reflux.

But a combination of Andes’ medical background (she’s an assistant professor of global health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University) and a mother’s intuition told her something else was tormenting her son — pertussis, also known as whooping cough. The family requested the child’s name not be published. 

Whooping cough, a potentially life-threatening childhood illness, all but disappeared in the 1940s after a vaccine was developed. But in recent decades, the illness has been making a comeback. Changes in the vaccine and waning immunity are likely contributing to the resurgence of the illness, according to experts.

In recent years, there have been outbreaks not seen since the 1950s.

In 2012, the United States had the highest number of whooping cough cases in more than 50 years with 48,277 reported cases and 20 deaths. Most of the deaths occurred among infants, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Georgia, there were 318 cases in 2012, which included no deaths. Since then, there have been three whooping cough-related deaths (two in 2013 and one in 2016) in Georgia, and all of the deaths involved babies.

Last year, there was a total of 163 reported cases of whooping cough in Georgia, according to the CDC. And this year through Aug. 21, there has been a total of 102 cases, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

>> On AJC.com: What you need to know about mumps

The highly contagious respiratory illness is not always on the radar of doctors and can be mistaken for a cold, bronchitis, reflux. The Georgia Department of Health said it’s not uncommon for someone to see two, even three doctors before getting a proper diagnosis.

Andes insisted on getting her son tested for whooping cough. Results from a nose culture came back positive.

“At first, I felt relieved, and even a bit proud of myself,” said Andes, “but then the reality sunk in that we may be in for more difficult nights.”

The older vaccine for whooping cough was phased out in the late 1990s. It carried a high risk of serious but temporary side effects like pain, and swelling at the site of injection, as well as serious complications such as febrile convulsions, which are fits or seizures caused by a sudden change in a child’s body temperature, and loss of consciousness. One study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente’s Vaccine Study center in Oakland, Calif., found the newer pertussis vaccine, while safer and with fewer side effects than the older version, is not as effective.

The 2016 study from Kaiser Permanente’s Vaccine Study Center found that the booster vaccine known as Tdap provides moderate protection against whooping cough during the first year after vaccination, but its effectiveness wanes to less than 9 percent after four years among teenagers who have received only a newer form of the whooping cough vaccine (known as acellular pertussis vaccine) as infants and children.

>> Vaccines help prevent flu deaths in children, CDC study finds

Pertussis can cause serious illness in people of all ages and can even be life-threatening, especially in babies. About half of babies under 1 year of age who get pertussis need treatment in a hospital, according to the CDC. The illness can have a lasting effect on lung function, leaving people with shortness of breath.

Meanwhile, a team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Georgia, found in a new study while some people lose immunity relatively quickly, the vaccine can be protective for many decades. The study, published in a March issue of Science Translational Medicine, also found the dwindling number of people still alive who survived pertussis infections in the days before vaccination, and therefore gained lifelong immunity, is also playing a role in the resurgence. When the vaccine was first introduced in the 1940s, there were very high rates of vaccination, which led to an overall decrease in transmission.

Senior author Pejman Rohani, who has a joint appointment in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and the Odum School of Ecology, said the number of people who are susceptible to contracting pertussis is slowly rising — setting the stage for an increase in the number of new cases, especially in older individuals. This is known as the “end of the honeymoon” period, he said.

And even though the effectiveness of vaccines may wane over time, experts say people should still make sure to get them. Skipping the vaccines, Rohani said, “would be a terrible idea, especially the routine scheduled and maternal vaccination.”

>> CDC warns of measles in 21 states, including North Carolina, Florida

He added that researchers are still working on deciding whether people should get more frequent booster vaccinations.

Meanwhile, Andes’ son, who was fully vaccinated against whooping cough, completed a round of antibiotics and is doing better. But he still has a lingering cough, and a full recovery could take months.

After the diagnosis, Andes notified City of Decatur schools about her son’s illness. It was over summer break, but he was participating in a high school band camp and was around other high school students. City of Decatur Schools spokesperson Courtney Burnett said a letter was sent to parents of students at Decatur High School informing them of the illness. Burnett said the school system is not aware of any other whooping cough cases.

Andes, who also got whooping cough (likely from her son) but was treated early before symptoms got severe, is sharing her family’s story to help raise awareness about whooping cough.

She wants families to know the following: don’t assume you can’t get whooping cough because you’ve been vaccinated; whooping cough not only affects babies; early treatment is key (not only may it help reduce the severity or the length of the illness, it prevents spreading the illness to others); and whooping cough “doesn’t always whoop,” particularly in adolescents and adults. Her son burped for air after each attack. She checked his fingernails — and they were purplish-blue near the cuticles because he wasn’t getting enough oxygen.

“Each episode was very scary. It was absolutely terrifying,” she said. “Our journey is not over yet, but I have learned a lot.”

Vaccination recommendations

The CDC recommends pertussis (also called whooping cough) vaccines for people of all ages. Babies and children should get five doses of DTaP for maximum protection. DTaP is a vaccine that helps children younger than age 7 develop immunity to three deadly diseases caused by bacteria: diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis).

Health care professionals give a dose of DTaP at 2, 4 and 6 months, at 15 through 18 months, and again at 4 through 6 years. They give children a booster dose known as Tdap to preteens at 11 or 12 years old.

>> Read more trending news 

Teens or adults who didn’t get Tdap as a preteen should get one dose. Getting Tdap is especially important for pregnant women during the third trimester of each pregnancy. It’s also important that those who care for babies are up-to-date with pertussis vaccination. 

You can get the Tdap booster dose no matter when you got your last regular tetanus and diphtheria booster shot (Td). Also, you need to get Tdap even if you got pertussis vaccines as a child or have been sick with pertussis in the past.

The impact of anti-vaxxers on the comeback of whooping cough

Even though children who haven’t received DTaP vaccines are at least eight times more likely to get whooping cough than children who received all five recommended doses of DTaP, they are not the driving force behind the large-scale outbreaks or epidemics, according to the CDC. Even so, their parents are putting their children at greater risk of getting whooping cough and possibly spreading the illness to others.

Whooping cough: Know the signs

Whooping cough starts like the common cold, with a runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe a mild cough or fever. But after one to two weeks, severe coughing can begin and can include many rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound. It’s important to note not everyone with pertussis will cough and many who cough will not “whoop.” Babies may not cough at all though. Instead, they have trouble breathing.

Source: CDC

7 signs your teen could be in an abusive relationship

There are so many things you hope your child would not have to experience, from colic to eating lunch alone at school to having wisdom teeth out.

Another thing that tops the list: being in an abusive relationship, especially before becoming an adult.

While it's certainly not something you wish on your teen, it does happen, even to that son or daughter you still think of as a child, too young to be interested in dating, much less sex.

>> On AJC.com: How your child can help stop teen domestic violence

According to the CDCteen dating violence is both widespread and has serious long-term and short-term effects.

"The nature of dating violence can be physical, emotional or sexual, and includes stalking," according to the CDC. "Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Teens who are victims in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college and throughout their lifetimes."

The CDC's 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that nearly 12 percent of high school females reported physical violence and nearly 16 percent reported sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months before they were surveyed. And the problem is not restricted to girls or even heterosexual couples, with more than 7 percent of high school males reporting physical violence and about 5 percent reporting sexual violence from a dating partner in the same report.

It's easy for a teen to miss the warning signs, according to Shelly Taylor Page, a law professor at Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law who teaches a class on domestic violence law.

>> Shanann Watts murder: Are you more likely to be the victim of domestic abuse if you are pregnant?

"They're possessive, demanding of your time, alienating you from your other friends," Page told the Knoxville Mercury. "If I'm a young girl—let's say I'm in the 10th grade, new to relationships. Some signs to look for that this person might be abusive would be a guy who is always asking, 'Who are you texting?' Saying, 'Let me see your phone, let me see your Facebook friends. You have to sit with me at lunchtime.'"

He might also critique what his dating partner wears. "'Why are you wearing those tight jeans, who are you trying to impress?'," Page expanded. "Perhaps he's physically aggressive—pinching, yanking, pulling. Those are all little things that turn into bigger things."

Often, the abuse happens in secret, in a bubble, "Many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family," the CDC noted.

That fear means that parents must have heightened awareness of possible indicators that a teen could be involved in a violent or verbally or emotionally abusive relationship.

>> Police: 14-year-old stabs fellow student because ‘she only liked him as a friend’

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, these are seven signs your teen might be experiencing abuse:

  • Your child's intimate partner is extremely jealous or possessive to the point where your child stops spending time with other friends and family. If someone questions your child about this, the response might be something like, "She thinks my friends don't like her, so she doesn't like spending time around them," or "She thinks they're a bad influence on me and she's just trying to help."
  • You see unexplained marks or bruises on your child.
  • You notice your son or daughter is depressed or anxious.
  • Your child stops participating in extracurriculars or other interests like gaming or even shopping.
  • Your child begins to dress differently. One example: He or she wears loose clothing because the partner doesn't like him/her to "show off" his/her body or attract someone else's attention.
  • Your child worries when he or she can't text or call the partner back immediately, saying that the partner might get upset.
  • Your child expresses fear about the way his or her partner might react in a given situation.

"Staying tuned in to your teen takes patience, love, and understanding – plus a little bit of effort," the NDVH noted. "If you are concerned about any of your teen's relationships, reach out and get them talking as soon as possible. There are real ways you can help."

Teens and parents can both get help from these strictly confidential resources:

"If someone feels afraid in their relationship, they should talk to their friends and family for advice and reach out to resources," Cameron Kinker, program engagement coordinator at The One Love Foundation, told TeenVogue. "Loveisrespect.org is great, many college campuses have counseling centers that are free to students, and a hotline can be helpful for anyone involved to learn what next steps are. If you ever feel afraid or unsafe, it is important that you reach out to a resource like Loveisrespect.org or a local shelter to create a safety plan."

Resources:

Loveisrespect.org's chatline

Loveisrespect's phone: 866-331-9474

Text LOVEIS to 22522

A crisis text line also provides round-the-clock support for anyone in crisis. They can be reached by texting HOME to 741741.

National Domestic Violence Hotline 

For more information on how to help someone in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, tap into some of the real-time resources from One Love like the Live Chat via LoveisRespect.org, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to get advice.

If your suspicions are on target:

Parents who have concluded their child probably is being abused or at least exhibits many of the warning signs must be aware that abuse is dangerous and can be life-threatening, according to the One Love Foundation.

To keep the conversation open and minimize the danger where possible, these are a few of the steps One Love Foundation recommended for parents who suspect their teen is in an abusive relationship:

Calmly start a conversation with your teen. "Start by calmly voicing your concern for them," OLF advised. "It is likely that they feel as though things are already chaotic enough in their life so to best help them, you will need to be a steady support with whom they can talk openly and peacefully. If you don't panic and do your best to make them feel safe, then it is pretty likely that they will continue to seek your advice."

Be supportive. Listen to them without forcing the conversation, reminding your child they are not alone and you only want to help.

Focus on the unhealthy behaviors in the relationship, not their partner, and don't rush to label the relationship as "abusive" or you'll get pushback.

Keep the conversation friendly, not preachy. Very few people in abusive relationships recognize themselves as victims and it's pretty likely that your child doesn't want to be viewed that way either, OLF noted.

Don't place the blame on them. "Help your teen or young adult to understand that the behaviors they are experiencing are not normal and that it is NOT their fault their partner is acting this way."

After the initial conversations, you may need several follow-ups. Next steps might include any of the following:

  • Visiting your local domestic violence center or behavioral health center
  • Talking to a school counselor
  • Calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Most importantly, if your teen or young adult child is planning to end things with their partner, you should create a safety plan with them because the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is post-breakup, OLF warned. And if there is any risk of danger, call the police.

>> Read more trending news 

"If your child is in immediate danger, either self-harm or harm inflicted by another person, you should alert authorities (i.e., school security or 911) right away," OLF advised. "Even if you think they will feel betrayed or angry with you for going to the police, saving someone's life is the most important thing. Relationship abuse can be fatal and you should not hesitate to take serious action if you think that anyone is at risk for physical or sexual harm."

What to know about new cervical cancer screening guidelines

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cancer in women worldwide.

This week, the United States Preventative Services Task Force updated its 2012 recommendations regarding cervical cancer screenings.

>> Read more trending news 

The update, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday, researchers from the University of California-Davis and Kaiser Permanente Northwest emphasized adequate screenings, “regardless of which strategy is used.”

“Our biggest challenge is reaching women who have not been screened,” UC Davis’ Joy Melnikow, who led HPV testing research that helped inform the updated guidelines, said in a statement.

Related: Women who use IUDs may have reduced risk of cervical cancer, study says

Most cervical cancer is caused by HPV, or the human papillomavirus. The most significant update from the original recommendations is that women ages 30 to 35 have an additional option when it comes to screenings. They can opt to undergo an HPV test every five years, a Pap test every three years or both every five years.

Before this week, researchers recommended women in that age group receive a pap every three years, with HPV testing every five years.

Those aged 21 to 29, however, should not be tested for HPV to help screen for cervical cancer. Instead, they should only receive a Pap test every three years.

The new guidelines for cervical cancer screenings are below.

Women under age 21

  • Screening not recommended.

Women between ages 21-29

  • Should be screened every three years via a Pap test.
  • HPV testing not recommended.

Women between ages 30-65

  • Can either get an HPV test every five years, a Pap test every three years, or both every five years.

Women older than age 65 with recent negative tests/low risk

  • Screening not recommended, but patients should continue visiting their doctor on a regular basis.

Women who have had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix and no history of precancerous lesion or cervical cancer

  • Screening not recommended.

“These recommendations do not apply to individuals who have been diagnosed with a high-grade precancerous cervical lesion or cervical cancer,” the article said. “These recommendations also do not apply to individuals with in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol or those who have a compromised immune system (eg, women living with HIV).”

While rates of new cervical cancers in the U.S. have declined in recent years, the number of new cases worldwide continues to rise as the population grows and ages.

Scientists with Florida Atlantic University and the University of Arizona estimate that 13,240 new cases of cervical cancer and 4,170 cervical cancer deaths are estimated to occur this year. They warned in an editorial that accompanies the new guidelines that the majority of those deaths will be “among poor women, women from communities of color, non-US-born women, and women living in rural and remote settings” who have limited access to preventive care.

Don't vacuum while wildfire smoke is in the air, health officials say

Poor air quality will be common across parts of the Pacific Northwest this week as winds push smoke from surrounding wildfires into the region, forecasters and regulators said.

Air quality alerts are in effect for much of Washington state through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

>> On KIRO7.com: How to protect yourself during smoke days

Officials with the Washington State Department of Health shared tips on how to stay healthy during smoky wildfire air. 

"Don’t add to indoor pollution," officials with the department wrote. "Don’t use food boilers, candles, incense, fireplaces or gas stoves."

"Don’t vacuum unless your vacuum has a HEPA filter, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home," said Washington health officials.

>> Read more trending news 

Read the entire list of smoky air tips from Washington health officials here.

Find a map here with real-time air quality conditions by city.

On Monday, conditions around Washington state ranged from moderate to hazardous. 

Smoky, hazy conditions are making a return to the Puget Sound region because of wildfires in British Columbia and the Cascade Mountains, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

5 things every parent should know about immunization

Within the first few months of your child's life, your pediatrician will likely start talking to you about immunizations. Even if your house is stocked with hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap, it's important to know what options are out there to keep your kid safe from diseases that could have harmful consequences.

>> On AJC.com: What you need to know about mumps

With all of the talk out there about the pros and cons of getting your child immunized, here are five things you need to know about how the process works and why doctors recommend it:

What is immunization? 

The World Health Organization defines immunization as the process that makes a person immune or resistant to an infectious disease. The most common way to achieve this is by giving the person a vaccine. Over the past 200 or so years, doctors have been able to use vaccines to fight diseases that used to kill millions of people, including young children, every year.

How does immunization work? 

Vaccines are usually given through a needle injection, though Verywell noted there are some that can be given through the mouth or the nose.

According to WebMD, once a vaccine enters the body, it helps the immune system develop antibodies that fight the virus or bacteria that causes that specific illness. (The process can take a few weeks, so your child won't instantly become immune.) The next time your child runs into that virus or bacteria, his body will have the tools it needs to fight off the illness.

Does my child really need to be vaccinated?

If you plan to enroll your child in a daycare or school, there may be minimum vaccination requirements before they can get started. According to he National Vaccine Information Center, exceptions can be made based on certain medical or religious grounds, but an application is required.

If you don't have any medical or religious concerns, vaccines are strongly encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control to help slow the progress of infections. When more people get vaccinated against a certain disease, outbreaks can be prevented because the germs won't be able to travel as fast through the population. This is called community immunity.

>> Read more trending news 

Which vaccines are recommended for kids?

The CDC website lists 16 potentially harmful diseases that their recommended vaccines can protect against. Those diseases are:

Each vaccine should be taken during a specific age range, so be sure to talk to your child's doctor to find out the right time to bring them in for their shots.

What are the risks involved with vaccines?

KidsHealth says the most common reactions to vaccines are fever and redness, swelling and soreness where the shot was given. In rare cases, patients have had seizures or severe allergic reactions. If you're concerned about side effects, Parents Magazine has some tips for easing the sting and making your child's first immunization experience as comfortable as possible.

If you have questions about vaccines or side effects, it's best to talk to your child's doctor.

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