Eating peanuts during pregnancy may help children avoid allergies

Not too long ago, medical professionals recommended women refrain from eating peanuts and other highly allergenic foods during pregnancy and nursing periods in order to reduce the chance of their children experiencing early exposure and sensitization to common, serious allergens. Now, however, a new study suggests that eating peanuts won’t harm a woman’s pregnancy – and researchers are hopeful that further study may prove that eating peanuts while pregnant is actually beneficial in preventing infants from developing these types of allergies in the first place.

According to researchers from the Boston Children’s Hospital, women who aren’t allergic to peanuts themselves can indulge without fear during their pregnancy and even while nursing. The study’s senior author, Michael Young, M.D., of Boston Children’s Division of Allergy and Immunology, and his team looked to the Growing Up Today Study for their data, which presented the records of 8,205 children.

Using the GUTS data, researchers identified children with documented cases of peanut or other tree nut allergies. They then examined the diets of these children’s mothers during the pregnancy and nursing periods and compared them with diets of mothers with non-allergic children. Looking specifically at peanut and tree nut ingestion, Young’s team found that peanut allergies occurred at significantly lower rates when mothers consumed these nuts during the gestational period.

New wisdom replaces the old
The new study findings were published in the online medical journal JAMA Pediatrics on Dec. 23, and conflict with research published in a November 2010 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The previous study, which was conducted by the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, claimed that pregnant women who consumed peanuts or other highly allergenic foods (such as eggs or dairy) may be putting their unborn infants at risk of developing these allergies and experiencing serious reactions before their immune systems were fully developed. At the time, the study backed up recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics established in the year 2000.

“No one can say for sure if the avoidance recommendation for peanuts was related to the rising number of peanut allergies seen in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but one thing is certain: it did not stop the increase,” Young suggested in regard to the prior recommendations outlined by the AAP. “It was clear that a new approach was needed, opening the door for new research.”

Young also noted that, though the study performed at the Boston Children’s Hospital was promising, there is as yet no cause-and-effect link to women eating peanuts actually preventing these allergies from developing. So far, the research merely suggests that women who ingest the legumes aren’t putting their infants in harm’s way. However, some medical researchers remain hopeful that a cause-and-effect relationship will be established upon further study.

“By linking maternal peanut consumption to reduced allergy risk we are providing new data to support the hypothesis that early allergen exposure increases tolerance and reduces risk of childhood food allergy,” said Young.

While the research provides new hope, parents should still take child allergy symptoms seriously. Many children experience severe allergic reactions, even when their parents have no history of allergies. Parents who believe their children may be experiencing allergies should seek medical attention as soon as possible to get the necessary medication.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that help make medicine taste better for children. Ask your pharmacist how you can get FLAVORx for your child’s prescription today.

Help your children make their own New Year’s resolution

New Year’s Eve is just before us, and people all over the world are thinking about what their New Year’s resolutions will be. Parents often choose goals related to family fitness – such as losing weight or keeping less sweets around the house in favor of healthier snacks. Children, however, have their own priorities, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to jump on the New Year’s bandwagon as well!

This year, have a little fun helping your kids create their own New Year’s resolutions and thinking of inventive ways to fulfill them. Here is a list of common resolutions and tips for helping your kids achieve them.

This year, I will get more exercise
When kids make exercise a regular habit early in life, it’s that much easier for them to keep it up over the years. Plus, kids who exercise frequently are less likely to experience being overweight or obese. This may help protect them from physical ailments such as diabetes and heart disease as well as mental issues such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

There are a number of ways you can help your children stay fit and active. One idea is to sign them up for an after-school athletic program such as soccer or basketball. If your child isn’t interested in competitive sports, try a class that emphasizes fitness, such as dance or gymnastics. Other ideas include yoga, martial arts or even aerobics.

This year, I will do better in school
This is a worthy goal for any student, even if he or she already gets good marks. In general, students who make their schoolwork a priority do better in college and beyond – and what parent wouldn’t want this kind of success for their little one?

Help your kids do better in school this year by identifying both their strong suits and the subjects with which they need more help. You can create flash cards or invest in learning software that your child can use on a PC or tablet. Many programs turn learning into a game, making even your child’s least favorite subject more fun. A number of studies cite that children who eat healthy diets and engage in regular fitness activities perform better in school as well. Make sure to include a healthy diet with brain-boosting proteins, fruits and veggies along with this resolution.

This year, I will be nicer to others
For many kids, good social skills aren’t always intuitive, but need to be learned. Even if your children are comfortable with their own group of friends, a resolution to be nice or more inclusive to other kids will help them develop better social skills and widen their circle of influence. Kids who have a number of friends are more likely to develop healthy confidence levels and a positive self-image. This can help them avoid certain types of anxiety and depressive disorders.

If your child wants to make improving their relationships a priority this year, help them by challenging them to do kind deeds for others. It can be something as simple as saying “hi” to a child who isn’t always included or taking home assignments for a sick friend. Help your child come up with several new, small goals each week and discuss them over the dinner table or during other quality time.

This year, I will be healthy
Kids don’t spend as much time thinking about their health as their parents do; however taking ownership of their own health and well-being is essential. Help your children develop a self-care plan that includes eating healthy, exercise and getting the right amount of sleep.

Staying healthy should also include taking their medication when necessary. FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that help make medicine time easier for kids. Ask your pharmacist how you can get FLAVORx for your child’s prescription today.

Keep the whole family safe over the holiday season

The holiday season is lots of fun for adults and children alike, but there’s a lot to consider when transforming your home into a winter wonderland. Here are a few simple safety guidelines to follow while enjoying the holidays with your immediate and extended family.

Trimming the tree
Nothing is quite as symbolic as a well-decorated tree all lit up for the season. If your family celebrates the holidays with a Christmas tree, there may be a few safety precautions to consider before you start the trimming.

The first thing to consider is the tree itself. Christmas trees, both real and artificial, can present certain risks in the home. When selecting your tree for the year, pay attention to the condition of the needles. Trees that are too dry may wither before the season is through, many may also pose a fire hazard. If your family uses an artificial tree, make sure to get one that’s labeled “fire resistant.”

When pulling out your decorations, consider family members in the household. If you have toddlers and young children, you may wish to consider forgoing breakable ornaments, or at least hanging them near the top of the tree where they can’t be easily grasped. Ensuring that light strings and garlands are similarly out of reach may also keep the tree from tumbling down should a wayward child wish to give them a tug.

Family pets may also be a factor in your tree decorating decisions. Keeping favorite ornaments away from low branches where a curious pooch may sniff about or strike with an excited wag of the tail may help preserve them for another year. Frisky felines have also been known to explore Christmas trees, and have been responsible for their share (or more!) of broken ornaments.

Surviving the holiday parties
If your home is the place where all the family members will gather, think about the different types of guests you expect to receive. Family members with young children may appreciate you taking a few steps to baby-proof your space by removing breakables from low shelves and designating a “smoking area” to keep fumes away from younger partygoers.

If you’re spending the holidays elsewhere, bear in mind that other homes may not be baby-proofed. Keep an eye on your child at all times to prevent him or her from grabbing those breakables or getting into cabinets, ashtrays and other undesirable areas. Check with your hosts to see if there’s an area meant for children.

When visiting, it’s also important to remember that children’s stress levels may run higher than usual when they’re taken out of their normal routine. Make sure they’re provided with snacks and meals at regular intervals, and if they’re accustomed to napping at a certain hour, try to work this into your holiday schedule.

If you decide to leave the children at home while attending a party, make sure that the babysitter has quick access to all emergency numbers they might need, including police and fire departments, a poison control center, your cell phone and – of course – the local pizzeria.

Checking new toys for safety hazards
Every child’s favorite part of the holiday season is, of course, the presents. However, before you let your little ones play with their newly acquired booty, check all products for age limits and potential safety issues, such as choking hazards. You’ll look a lot more fondly over the scene of your children happily playing with new toys when you know they’re safe.

Don’t forget that the holiday season is also cold and flu season. Make sure to keep play areas clean and sanitized, and keep sick children away from others if they’re likely to spread the illness. They’ll feel better after taking their medication and getting a lot of rest.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that make taking medicine easier for children. Ask your pharmacist how to get FLAVORx for your child.

5 tips to handle a picky eater

Every household has one. Whether they’re in a phase where they’ll only eat a certain food or where it seems they won’t eat any food, dealing with a picky eater can be frustrating. Here are a few tips to help!

1. Stick to a routine
Kids are creatures of routine, and it’s helpful for them to know when to expect their next snack or meal. This helps them prepare mentally for food while at the same time helping their bodies’ to establish a regular, healthy metabolism. A hungry child is more likely to eat what she is served rather than protest items on the plate.

At the same time, when a routine is broken, you’ll need to respect the effect this may have on your child. For example, if you’re running late and the babysitter gives your child a snack, they may not want to eat all the food on their plate at dinner time. Communicate with your child to figure out whether he or she is just full, or if there’s something else in play.

2. Be fun and creative
Kids love to play and interact with their food. Serving them hands-on dishes such as veggies with ranch dressing or apple slices with honey or peanut butter can help them feel like they’re playing a game as well as eating a meal or snack. Using cookie cutters to cut shapes into foods can also have this effect.

Don’t be afraid to shake things up! Serving breakfast foods for dinner can also make mealtime more fun, as can dishes displaying an array of brightly colored foods.

3. Get your kids involved
Kids also like to be included in the preparation process. This not only educates them about healthy foods and how to cook them, but it also gives them a feeling of pride knowing that they’re “helping mom” or acting “like a grown-up.”

Ask your children to wash and peel fruits and vegetables, or to stir batter or casserole mixes. While you work together, you can take the opportunity to talk to your children about the nutritional value of each food you’re preparing.

4. Be patient
When dealing with a picky eater, it’s important to be patient. There’s a good chance that, even if their refusal to eat a certain food is a decision and not an actual dislike, you won’t change their mind overnight. Lots of things can turn kids off of certain foods, from their color to their scent or texture. Sometimes, kids need time to get used to a new item before they’ll eat it without reservation.

Try preparing foods in different ways to give your child a new experience with it. Soups and casseroles can be good mediums for mixing in some new foods.

5. Be firm
Avoid the trap of becoming a short-order cook in your very own home by being firm with your child about what’s for dinner. If you teach your child that he can get whatever he wants merely by refusing to eat what you’ve served, you’ll set yourself up for countless nights of this behavior. Gently insist that your child stay at the dinner table, even if he or she refuses to eat what you’ve prepared, until the entire family is done eating.

If your child’s picky eating becomes a problem to the point that you’re worried about their nutrition and development, consult their pediatrician or seek the help of a specialist. In some cases, a mental or behavioral issue may be responsible, however, there’s also a chance it’s a medical problem that may be treatable by medication.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that help kids take oral medications more easily. Ask your pharmacist how you can get FLAVORx for your child’s prescription.

Establishing good eating habits early: 3-5 years

This is finally the age when your young child will be able to sit at the dinner table with adults and enjoy most of the same foods. While you may still have to cut his or her food into smaller, bite-sized pieces, it's a wonderful landmark to reach with your child! Here are some guidelines on establishing healthy meal and snack habits with your young child.

Start off right with regular meals
Your child is now ready to have regular meals with the family, and many families have different eating styles. Whether you choose to have three square meals a day or opt for five or six smaller meals, now is the time to develop the same routine with your child. Talk about your family meal routine so your child knows what to expect.

Monitor their behavior between meals to see if a healthy snack is needed to get them through. Signs a child may be hungry include crankiness, fatigue and reports of feeling woozy or unwell. Teaching your child to eat only when he or she is truly hungry – and not when something simply tastes or smells good – will help them develop healthy eating habits and maintain a healthy weight throughout the course of their lives.

Educate them about foods
At the preschool age, children absorb knowledge like a sponge. Now is the perfect time to teach them the value of healthy foods as well as the dangers of eating too many unhealthy foods. You can use food flashcards, computer programs, learning games and educational television programming to teach them about the types of nutrients found in each type of food, and how those nutrients help to fuel their bodies and give them energy.

It's important for kids at this age to learn about moderation. Don't be afraid to let them eat that chocolate cake at the birthday party. Rather, help them understand why they should eat it – to celebrate and enjoy delicious foods with friends, of course! – and why they should limit their consumption.

Choose healthy snack foods
In addition to teaching your kids moderation when it comes to sweets and "junk foods," it's also important to teach them to enjoy and even prefer healthy snack foods, such as fruits, veggies and nuts. Fruits will give your preschooler that needed sugar spike between meals while also satisfying a sweet tooth. Veggies will provide essential vitamins and minerals. Nuts offer protein that will fuel your child's brain and help them stay full and focused until their next meal.

Children love finger foods such as baby carrots, celery sticks and apple slices. Adding a fun dip to the mix – such as peanut butter, honey or a delicious dressing – will help them interact with and enjoy their food even more. Looking for a salty carbohydrate? Pretzels dipped in peanut butter are a solid snack that will give your child the extra fuel he or she needs during that after-school soccer game or play date.

What should you give your child to drink?
Children love sugary juices and chocolate milk, but water is what they really need to stay hydrated. Give your child water to satisfy thirst and help develop a taste for this essential fluid early.

It's OK to offer their favorite fruit juice or flavored milk on occasion – but these should be counted as sugar- and calorie-laden snacks. Help your child understand why these are treats and not regular fare.

Establishing healthy eating habits early will help children maintain healthy weights and fight illness and disease over the course of their entire lives. Help your child be healthy by educating them about food from a young age.

If they do fall ill, FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that help children take their medicine. Ask your pharmacist how to get FLAVORx for your child's prescription medication.

Establishing good eating habits early: 1-3 years

Childhood obesity is on the decline, thanks in large part to parents playing their role as mindful educators and providers to their children. Toddlers are among the most discerning eaters, and the food habits formed during this stage can follow them through childhood and into the rest of their lives. In order to establish healthy food habits early, follow these simple tips to introduce a healthy diet.

How to convince your child to eat healthy foods
Toddlers don’t understand the difference between “healthy” foods and “unhealthy” junk foods and snacks – they only know whether they like eating it! This presents the opportunity to introduce a variety of healthy foods without them carrying the “good-for-you stigma” that makes older children cringe. In fact, because your child’s tastes are still developing, now is the perfect time to introduce them to a variety of foods and help them develop a taste for them early. That doesn’t mean your toddler will love each food you put in front of them, but it does mean you’ll stand more of a fighting chance.

Another fun way to get kids excited about new foods is to involve them in the preparation and cooking process. When kids see whole foods transformed into their own snacks and meals, they’re more likely to get excited about eating them – especially if they got to have a hand in preparing them. Let your child help you spread peanut butter on celery sticks or mash up some avocado and watch their delight when it comes time to eat.

Establish healthy snacking habits young
Many children and adults can attribute at least some of their excess belly fat to needless snacking. There are a number of reasons why people snack: boredom, stress, depression and even false hunger pangs. The only real reason to snack, however, is that your body needs the extra calories to function properly. Teaching your toddler to only snack when they’re truly hungry may set them up for more positive eating habits later on down the road.

When choosing snacks, teach your child to expect small portions of their favorite healthy foods. Fruit makes a satisfying option due to its sweetness and high nutrition content. All snacks don’t have to be sweet, however. Fatty snacks that are low in calorie content are also good choices, as they’ll be filling while giving your child’s brain the amino acids needed to keep running strong. Cut small cubes of cheese or avocado or smear some nut butter onto a whole-grain cracker for a quick and easy snack to fuel your toddler’s growing brain.

Dealing with picky eaters
It seems like every family has the resident picky eater, and more likely than not, your toddler will go through this stage. In order to ensure that eschewing healthy foods is indeed a phase and not a lifelong bad habit, be patient as well as persistent when introducing new foods to your toddler.

In some cases, it may take between 10 to 15 different introductions to a certain food before a young child will feel comfortable eating it. While this may seem frustrating, keep your cool and remember that it’s an entirely new experience for your child. It may take a little while for them to warm up to the broccoli now, but if you are successful, you can save yourself a lifetime of struggle as your child grows through childhood into adulthood. Helping your child to appreciate and even love healthy foods will help them grow and develop properly while maintaining a healthy weight during childhood. Children who maintain a healthy weight are less likely to be affected by illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other physical, mental and emotional problems later in life. A healthy diet will also help boost your child’s immunity, making them less likely to get sick.

If your child does get sick, help them heal faster with medication prescribed by their pediatrician. FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that can help make oral medication taste better. Ask your pharmacist about FLAVORx today.

Establishing good eating habits early: 0-12 months

Parents have never been more aware of the importance of ensuring a healthy and balanced diet for their children. Kids who are able to get the essential nutrients while maintaining a healthy weight are more likely to perform better in school and other activities and exhibit better physical, mental and emotional health throughout their lifetimes.

Today, childhood obesity is in decline throughout most of the United States, and this is in large part due to the mindful efforts of parents, teachers and health professionals to educate children on the importance of good nutrition and help them make the right choices for their health.

More and more, experts are beginning to understand that establishing healthy dietary habits early is vital for the lifelong follow-through of these practices. Believe it or not, the process of ensuring good nutrition in your child can begin as early as birth. There are a number of steps you can take in your child’s first year to start them off healthy and set their tiny feet on the path of lifelong health.

Breastfeeding and healthy development
All new mothers have to make the call on whether to breastfeed their baby. While this is and should be a highly personal decision, there are certain benefits that breastfeeding can offer. In addition to helping you bond on a physical level with your new baby, breastfeeding can actually provide more nutrients that help foster proper baby development. Additionally, the World Health Organization reported that a number of studies indicate that children who were breastfed for at least six months tend to weigh less and be more physically fit than those who were not.

A crying baby doesn’t always indicate hunger
Babies cry for a number of reasons. Unfortunately, one of the first things a new parent will often reach for is the bottle. While this is sometimes the right answer, children’s cries may just as often indicate digestion issues, physical discomfort, exhaustion or the desire to be soothed by a parent or other individual. When you feed your baby too often, you’re not only adding extra calories at a time when his or her body is developing and establishing its “normal” state, but you may also be establishing food as a source of comfort at an early age.

Instead, learn when your baby does require food, and form a schedule to meet those needs. Cries of hunger are usually very different than cries of anger or distress. Listen carefully to determine your baby’s different ways of communicating with you. Other signs that indicate hunger may be the smacking of lips, looking alert and the practice of “rooting,” or moving the head from side to side as though looking for the source of food.

Starting on solids? Explore new tastes
Starting your baby on solid foods is an exciting prospect for a new parent, and it’s the perfect time to help your child establish a healthy food palette. Introduce your baby to new textures and flavors to help them develop a well-rounded, less-selective set of tastebuds.

Introducing solid foods can be frustrating at first – according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children may need to be introduced to new foods up to 10-15 times before they’ll actually eat them. Be patient and persistent in helping your child discover and delight in new tastes. Teaching them to love their vegetables at this early stage may sometimes seem like a hassle, but remember, it may save you hundreds of arguments over the dinner table in the near future.

Establishing healthy eating habits early is among the best ways to keep your child healthy, however, that doesn’t mean you’ll never need to deal with childhood illness. Helping your child get the right treatment for his or her ailments will help them heal faster and get back to their normal, happy selves.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that can help children take their medicine easier. Ask your pharmacist how to get FLAVORx for your child today.

Ways to get the family up and moving after Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday is now over and, though the break was lovely while it lasted, it’s time to snap back to the regular routine. Parents are returning to the office and kids are heading back to school, only to find that the winter holidays are already in the air! ‘Tis the season of candy canes, cookies and hot chocolate – and, for many, it’s also the season of unwanted weight gain. This year, you can help your family stay fit and healthy by indulging in some post-Thanksgiving exercise.

Bundle up and take a hike
Walking is a cheap and easy way to get the whole family exercising while spending some quality time together. You can opt for a long hike or a short jaunt that’s more suitable for young children or senior family members. You can take an easy stroll through your own neighborhood or a scenic trek through a nearby park. Though there’s a chill in the air, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the activity. Break out your hats, scarves and mittens and get moving!

Go ice skating
While you can ice skate almost any time of year, there’s something about this activity that practically screams “winter fun!” Kids as well as adults love to strap on their skates and hit the ice, even – and in some cases, especially – if it means a few harmless wipeouts. All that laughter will surely get the blood pumping! Don’t forget to equip family members with knee and elbow pads if you think they need them.

Join a fitness program
With all of the family gatherings, parties and special occasions that crop up around the holidays, it’s the perfect time to join a fitness program. Adults can opt for a gym membership or try out a new class, such as yoga or weight lifting. Kids may prefer athletic activities that are a little more fast-paced, such as gymnastics or martial arts. By joining during the holiday season, you’ll beat the New Year’s resolution rush – and you may even help your family prevent (or at least reduce) this year’s winter weight gain.

There are a number of ways you can get moving during the holiday season – all that matters is that you get your family up and burning off those extra holiday calories. Exercise not only helps you stave off those extra holiday pounds, but it also boosts the immune system. This will help you and your kids fight off illness and shorten healing times in the event that you do get sick.

FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that can make taking medicine more pleasant this cold and flu season. Ask your pharmacist how to add FLAVORx to your child’s prescription.

Recognizing Type 1 diabetes in children could save their lives

No parent wants to consider the possibility that their child is affected by a disease as serious as Type 1 diabetes, however, in many cases not being proactive in recognizing the signs could mean the difference between life and death. Type 1 diabetes is an irreversible condition in which the body cannot produce the insulin necessary to regulate glucose, or blood sugar, levels. Compared to Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 is very rare, affecting only 5 percent of those with the disease, according to statistics from the American Diabetes Association. Because it is almost always diagnosed in children and young adults, it was once referred to as juvenile diabetes.

Several potential side effects can occur when glucose levels in the body aren’t properly regulated. Many people report feeling fatigued or weakened when their blood sugar is out of whack. If promptly treated with medication, these symptoms can be easily controlled. However, Type 1 diabetes opens the door to a number or related conditions that aren’t as easy to manage. These conditions include nerve damage, heart or blood vessel disease, kidney damage, skin and mouth conditions, eye damage and hearing loss, among others, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Perhaps even more critical is the risk of entering a diabetic coma, sometimes called diabetic shock. This is a serious state in which the blood sugar levels in the body are either far too high (hyperglycemia) or far too low (hypoglycemia). Without insulin present to regulate these sugars by converting them into starches that the body can use as food, the body can enter a state of unconsciousness that makes it impossible to respond to external stimuli – and impossible to get the medicine necessary to treat the condition. Because of this, diabetic coma has the chance of becoming a life-threatening issue.

How to recognize signs of Type 1 diabetes in your child
The only way to truly know if your child is experiencing symptoms of Type 1 diabetes is to have your child tested by a doctor. However, there are a number of warning signs that parents can and should watch for in order to know when to make an appointment.

Some of the characteristic early symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include extreme thirst and increased frequency of urination. It may seem as if the child cannot get properly hydrated, even as he or she eliminates the excess fluids. Changes in diet, such as increased hunger, may also occur, as can sudden weight loss. Many children also report feeling constantly tired and weak, and experiencing blurred or fuzzy vision. A key factor is that the symptoms seem to come on suddenly, as if out of nowhere, and do not fade.

If your child begins experiencing a combination of symptoms, it may be time to ask for a diabetes test. If the condition is caught early and properly controlled through medication, such as insulin injections, children can lead healthy, normal lives. However, identifying it early is the key.

Though instances of Type 1 diabetes have historically been rare and have been overshadowed lately due to the dramatic spike in cases of obesity-related Type 2 diabetes, new data show that the condition is becoming more common.

“It’s a slow rise, but it’s there. And no one is quite sure why,” Sarah Hart-Unger, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, told the Miami Herald.

Parents with children who are affected by this disease should remain tuned in to their child’s health, both to monitor the diabetes itself and to look for warning signs that may indicate a related health complication. Most conditions can be managed with help from a physician if they’re caught early and properly treated.

FLAVORx provides medicinal flavorings that make medicine taste better for kids. Ask your pharmacist about FLAVORx for your child.

Parents should manage media use to help kids stay healthy

Children as well as adolescents are spending too much time in front of the screen, and it's costing them their health, pediatricians say. According to Scientific American, children in the United States are spending approximately eight hours a day in front of some form of screen, whether it's a television set, computer or tablet. Furthermore, adolescents are spending up to 11 hours – almost half of their day – in front of a screen.

Too much time in front of these LCD screens has been associated with a number of poor health outcomes, including lack of physical fitness, obesity, trouble sleeping, Type 2 diabetes and more. These conditions may in turn cause other mental health issues. For example, obesity has been linked to emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem and body image issues. Diabetes is associated with a number of other physical ailments and can even be life-threatening if not properly managed.

Pediatricians and other health experts are also concerned about the behavioral and social ramifications that this time spent in front of the screen (rather than interacting and collaborating with peers) may cause.

How to create a media management plan in your home
In order to create an effective and responsible media usage plan for kids, it's important to know how they're already using their media. Are they spending hours surfing the net and interacting with social media – or are they surfing the television channels from your couch? Knowing what's already happening can help you share your household's plan.

So, what makes a good household media plan?

"A healthy approach to children's media use should both minimize potential health risks and foster appropriate and positive media use," said Marjorie Hogan, M.D., FAAP, co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrician's policy on children's media management. "Parents, educators and pediatricians should participate in media education, which means teaching children and adolescents how to make good choices in their media consumption."

The AAP recommends that kids spend no more than two hours each day on entertainment-based media. This includes watching television, playing video games on a console or tablet device, surfing the net and engaging in social media. Many children are required to use screens in school or as part of homework assignments, and this should be kept separate from your home's media usage limits.

Children should also be limited in where they use their devices. For example, the AAP suggests that children should never have a television in their room, as this allows kids to watch television when they might engage in other more productive or social activities. It may also encourage kids to watch TV late at night, which may cause problems sleeping.

Limiting kids' media usage and helping them to understand why can foster greater physical and emotional health in children, and will help instill better habits that may last for a lifetime.