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Grandparenting

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Need to Learn Current Health Advice or Risk Endangering the Kids.

If you are a grandparent raising grandchildren, you deserve a lot f credit. Even so, be certain you’re up on current health advice about childrearing. A lot has changed since you were bringing up your own children. Many grandparents raising their grandchildren practice outdated health and parenting myths that could potentially pose serious risks to young children, according 2017 research done by a Northwell Health pediatrician in New Hyde Park, NY.

The study, one of a trio led by senior investigator Andrew Adesman, MD, was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco from May 6-9 2017. Dr. Adesman, Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, focused his research on the particular difficulties facing grandparents solely raising their offspring’s children.

A release from Northwell quotes Dr. Adesman as saying, “When grandparents step up to the plate, it can be wonderful for grandchildren but can also pose challenges in terms of lifestyle, finances and mental and physical health to a somewhat older or elderly cohort. In their questionnaires, a fairly large sample size of grandparents felt they were doing a good job but acknowledged they didn’t have the support they often needed and that their role could be alienating in terms of their own peer group.”

More than 7 million grandchildren in the United States were being raised solely by their 2.7 million grandparents in 2012, according to the US Census Bureau. Factors contributing to this growing phenomenon include the opioid epidemic, parental incarceration or problems with parents’ physical or mental health, Dr. Adesman said.

In the decades since grandparents raised their own children, certain parenting practices and health beliefs have evolved – catching some grandparents unaware and potentially threatening their grandchildren’s safety. For example, in one of Dr. Adesman’s studies, “Potential Health Risks to Children When Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren Subscribe to Out-Dated Health Beliefs,” 44 percent of the 636 grandparents who completed a detailed questionnaire mistakenly believed that “ice baths are a good way to bring down a very high fever.” In fact, ice baths pose a hypothermia risk.

Perhaps more notably, nearly one-quarter of these grandparents did not know that “infants should be put to sleep on their back, not on their stomach or side” – a major risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Pediatricians can help grandparents raising their grandchildren by updating them on current health care beliefs and parenting methods, Dr. Adesman said. “It’s important that pediatricians not make the mistake of taking for granted that because these grandparents have raised children already, they have the wisdom of the ages,” he added.