Guest Author - Paula Petrie
Spring and summer hold bounty for budding biologists. Under the afternoon sun, hours can be whiled away examining the life and growth of bugs, plants and spiders living in the backyard. But mom may be wondering....
To Sunscreen or Not and What’s UVB?
Sunscreen can impair a baby's ability to perspire. A baby is also at greater risk of a reaction to the cemicals in sunscreen, so it is not recommended until at least six months of age. Sunburns to babies under twelve months of age should be treated as an emergency and a doctor should be notified.
For older children even with sunscreen, appropriate clothing, and a hat, medical researchers still advise us to seek shade between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm. Some even say 10-4, and leave the swimming until evening.
Increased exposure to sun is a risk factor for melanoma, researchers don’t know whether the ultraviolet radiation, of UVA, UVB, or both will cause cancer. Using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher with UVA and UVB protection could prevent sunburn and "may" therefore prevent some cases melanoma. There are colored sunscreen products available which make it easy to tell if you've missed a spot. And "Water Babies" brand has been recommended for not containing harmful chemicals.
There is a concern that using sunscreen will lead to a lack of vitamin D, but there also controversy over whether there is enough evidence to support this.
Can Insect Bites be Dangerous?
The majority of stings from insects in the United States and Canada are from Bees, Yellow Jackets, Hornets, Wasps and Fire Ants. Most insect stings result in local pain, itching, swelling and redness at the site of the sting. Disinfect the area, keep it clean and apply ice.
If the swelling should increase antihistamines may be need. In some people stings will cause severe allergic reactions. Intense itching in places other than the sting site, difficulty breathing, swallowing, hoarseness, swelling of the tongue, dizziness and fainting are signs of a severe allergic reaction. A million hospital visits a year result from insect stings. If you have had an allergic reaction to an insect sting, the next sting is very likely to be similar or worse.
What About West Nile?
80% of people infected with the West Nile Virus will experience no symptoms at all. Most of the remaining 20% will experience a mild flu. The chance of contracting meningitis or encephalitis is less than 1%. The risk of death is 1 in 1000, slightly less than dying from influenza. And if you do get the West Nile Virus you will develop immunity to future infections.
How Can I Deal With Annoying Mosquitoes?
There are a number of ways to cut down on mosquitoes including the removal of any standing water where mosquitoes will lay eggs. Products such as aqua-bac sprinkled on the water surface kill mosquito larvae.
There are decent “natural” product body lotions on the market that use essential oils and herbal extract that mosquitoes will naturally avoid.
The EPA no longer allows safety claims to be made for any level of DEET used on children, as evidence does not support a claim of safety.
Many plants, berries and mushrooms can be poisonous as well. While serving up a feast of berries and leaves, make sure your child knows he/she should never really taste the fair and should always wash their hands after play. Otherwise, the world awaits!