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KidsDoc Monthly Newsletter from AllForKids
April 2008, Vol-1, Issue-4

"Food Safety"

By Dr. M.Vijayalakshmi M.D(Peds), M.D(USA), FAAP, DAA


How much do you know about safe handling of foods? Please take a quiz at


What Is Food borne Illness?

Food borne illness often presents itself as flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, so many people may not recognize the illness as caused by bacteria or other pathogens in food.

Thousands of types of bacteria are naturally present in our environment. Not all bacteria cause disease in humans. For example, some bacteria are used beneficially in making cheese and yogurt.

Bacteria that cause disease are called pathogens. When certain pathogens enter the food supply, they can cause food borne illness. Millions of cases of food borne illness occur each year. Most cases of food borne illness can be prevented. Proper cooking or processing of food destroys bacteria. The most common food born pathogens are: Baccilus Cereus, Botulism, Clostridium Perfringens, Campylobacter Jejuni,

Cryptosporidium Parvum, E-Coli, Hepatitis-A, Listeriosis, Norwalk Virus, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Vibrio and Yersiniosis.

Age and physical condition place some persons at higher risk than others, no matter what type of bacteria is implicated. Very young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk from any pathogen. Some persons may become ill after ingesting only a few harmful bacteria; others may remain symptom free after ingesting thousands.

How Bacteria Get in Food?

Bacteria may be present on products when you purchase them. Meat for example, were once part of live chickens or cattle. Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs are not sterile. Neither is fresh produce such as cabbage, tomatoes, sprouts, and melons or fresh fruits for that matter.

Foods, including safely cooked, ready-to-eat foods, can become cross-contaminated with bacteria transferred from raw products, meat juices or other contaminated products, or from food handlers with poor personal hygiene.

The "Danger Zone"

Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F. To keep food out of this “danger zone,” keep cold food cold and hot food hot.

  • Store food in the refrigerator (40 °F or below) or freezer (0 °F or below).
  • Cook food to 160 °F
  • Maintain hot cooked food at 140 °F or above.
  • When reheating cooked food, reheat to 165 °F.

Here are some tips on Food Handling:

Purchasing: Buy cold food last... Get it home fast!

Storing: : Don’t wait, refrigerate

Preparing: : Keep it straight , don’t cross contaminate

Cooking: : Cook it well, or time will tell

Serving: : Keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold

Handling leftovers: : If in doubt, throw them out

Hand Wash: : Hand washing is still the best way to keep bacteria away…

Please refer to the KidsDoc newsletter February-2008 edition to learn more about Hand washing.

Q&A : Cold

My child gets a lot of colds. Is this normal or is there something wrong?

Your child probably will have more colds, or upper respiratory infections, than any other illness. In the first two years of life alone, most youngsters have eight to ten colds. And if your child is in child care, or if there are older children in your house, she may have even more, since colds spread easily among children who are in close contact with one another. That is the bad news, but there is some good news, too: Most colds go away by themselves and do not lead to anything worse.

How colds spread

Colds are caused by viruses. A sneeze or a cough may directly transfer a virus from one person to another. The virus also may be spread indirectly, in the following manner.

  • A child or adult infected with the virus will, in coughing, sneezing, or touching her nose, transfer some of the virus particles onto her hand.
  • She then touches the hand of a healthy person.
  • This healthy person touches her newly contaminated hand to her own nose, thus introducing the infectious agent to a place where it can multiply and grow in the nose or throat. Symptoms of a cold soon develop.

Signs and symptoms of a cold

Once the virus is present and multiplying, your child will develop the familiar symptoms and signs:

  • Runny nose (first, a clear discharge; later, a thicker, often colored one)
  • Sneezing
  • Mild fever (100-101 degrees Fahrenheit ), particularly in the evening
  • Decreased appetite
  • Sore throat and, perhaps, difficulty swallowing
  • Cough
  • On-and-off irritability
  • Slightly swollen glands
  • Pus on the tonsils, especially in children three years and older, may indicate a strep infection.

If your child has a typical cold without complications, the symptoms should disappear gradually after seven to ten days.


An older child many a times do not need to see a doctor unless the condition becomes more serious. If she is three months or younger, however, call the pediatrician at the first sign of illness. With a young baby, symptoms can be misleading, and colds can quickly develop into more serious ailments, such as bronchiolitis, croup, or pneumonia. For a child older than three months, call the pediatrician if:

  • The noisy breathing of a cold is accompanied by the nostrils widening with each breath, or difficulty with moving breath in and out.
  • The lips or nails turn blue.
  • Nasal mucus persists for longer than ten to fourteen days. The cough just won’t go away
  • She has pain in her ear.
  • Her temperature is over 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius).
  • She is excessively sleepy or cranky.


Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics may be used to combat bacterial infections, but they will have no effect on viruses . Make extra effort to make your child comfortable. Make sure she gets extra rest and drinks increased amounts of fluids.

If she has a fever and is very uncomfortable, give her Paracetamol. Be sure to follow the dosage recommended by the doctor for your child’s age.

If she has a fever and is very uncomfortable, give her Paracetamol. Be sure to follow the dosage recommended by the doctor for your child’s age.

Never give her any other kind of cold remedy without first checking with your pediatrician. Over-the-counter treatments often dry the respiratory passages or make the nasal secretions even thicker. In addition, they tend to cause side effects, such as drowsiness.

One final note about medications: Never use cough medicines or cough/cold preparations in a child under three years of age unless prescribed by your pediatrician. Coughing is a protective mechanism that clears mucus from the lower part of the respiratory tract, and ordinarily there’s no reason to suppress it.


If your baby is under three months old, the best prevention against colds is to keep her away from people who have them. This is especially true during the winter and in rainy season, when many of the viruses that cause colds are circulating in larger numbers. Why do you think our traditional system suggested that children should rarely be taken out of their homes for the first 90 days of their life? A virus that causes a mild illness in an older child or an adult can cause a more serious one in an infant.

If your child is in a child care setting and has a cold, instruct her to cough and sneeze away from others, and to use a tissue to cough into and wipe her nose. Doing this may prevent her from spreading the cold to the others. Similarly, if your child would be in contact with children who have colds and it is convenient for you to keep her away from them, by all means do so. Also teach her to wash her hands regularly during the day; this will cut down on the spread of viruses.

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Internet Safety Tips

By Dr. M.Vijayalakshmi M.D(Peds), M.D(USA), FAAP, DAA

Data From: American Academy of Pediatrics

With more and more children getting exposure to Internet which is a very useful tool for children if used properly, it is important to teach them the basics of Internet Safety.

When you and your family surf the Web it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Online information is usually not private.
  • People online are not always who they say they are.
  • Anyone can put information online.
  • You can’t trust everything you read online.
  • You and your family may unexpectedly and unintentionally find material on the Web that is offensive, pornographic ,obscene, violent, or racist.

Encourage good behavior

The following is what you can teach your children about how they should act online:

  • NEVER send mean messages online. NEVER say something online that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. Bullying is wrong whether it’s done in person or online.
  • People online are not always who they say they are.
  • NEVER use the Internet to make someone look bad. For example, never send messages from another person’s e-mail that could get that person into trouble.
  • NEVER plagiarize. It’s illegal to copy online information and say that you wrote it.

Other steps you can take

In addition to setting clear rules, you can do the following to create a safer online experience:

  • Surf the Web with your children.
  • Put the computer in a room where you can monitor your children. Computers should never be placed in a room where a door can be closed or a parent excluded.
  • Use tracking software. It’s a simple way to keep track of where your children have been on the Web. However, nothing can replace supervision.
  • Install software or services that can filter or block offensive Web sites and material. Be aware, however, that many children are smart enough to find ways around the filters. Also, you may find that filters may be more restrictive than you want.
  • Find out what the Internet use policies are at your child’s school or at your library.

Internet Safety Tips

Setting the rules

It’s important to have a set of rules when your children use the Internet. Make sure your children understand what you consider appropriate and what areas are off limits. Let them know that the rules are for their safety.

Safety first

The following are tips you can teach your children about online safety:

  • NEVER give out personal information unless a parent says it’s OK. This includes your name, address, phone number, age, race, school name or location, or friends’ names.
  • NEVER share passwords, even with friends.
  • NEVER meet a friend you only know online in person unless a parent says it’s OK. It’s best if a parent goes along and to meet in a public place. (Older teens that may choose not to tell a parent and go alone should at least go with a friend and meet in a public place.)
  • NEVER respond to messages that make you feel uncomfortable or hurt your feelings. Ignore these messages, stop all communication, and tell a parent or another adult you trust right away.

Time limits

Surfing the Web should not take the place of other important activities, including homework, playing outside, or spending time with friends. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting total screen time in front of a TV or computer to no more than 1 to 2 hours a day for children older than 2 years. An alarm clock or timer can help you keep track of time.


Useful Links

Please visit the following link for a presentation from AllForKids on the ABCs of raising healthy kids. http://www.allforkidsindia.com/allforkids/

Interested in accessing previous issues of our Newsletter? Please visit the following link. www.allforkidsindia.com/allforkids/

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