Wellness Wednesday: Flu Season & Baby Wipes

Dr. Kristin Woodward takes a look at the flu season and a new study that says baby wipes may cause rashes in some kids.

900 people have been hospitalized in Colorado with the flu since early January, according to the Colorado Department of Health. At this time last year, 506 people were hospitalized with the flu. The vast majority of cases are due to the H1N1 virus, the same virus that caused a pandemic in 2009-2010. The good news is this year the vaccine covers the H1N1 strain. We expect to see a peak in flu cases within the next few weeks. However, the flu can hang around through early spring so it’s not too late to get the vaccine.
Nationally, over 40% of people hospitalized with the flu are obese. This is up 10-20% from previous years. While it’s not completely clear why obese people are at risk of developing a severe flu illness, it is thought the immune system may be altered in obese people. It is also known, obesity increases the risk of chronic lung diseases such as asthma and sleep apnea. This may also increase the risk.
Other groups at risk of developing a severe flu like illness are pregnant women, adults older than 65, kids under 2, and anyone with a chronic medical illness. Pregnant women have had a hard flu season, as 20% of people hospitalized have been pregnant, up 5% from previous years.
All people over six months old should get the flu shot. It is the best way to protect you from getting the flu. As the shot takes a few weeks to work, if you develop flu like symptoms stay home and call your doctor. Symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, and muscle aches.
A second health topic this week involves baby wipes. A chemical used in some baby wipes called, Methylisothiazolinone or MI has been shown to be the cause a significant rash in kids. The good news is once the parents stopped using the wipes the rash went away. The company that makes the baby wipes is working to develop a “MI free” option for parents.
Baby wipes were once thought to be pretty innocuous. However in recent years the amount of MI in some baby wipes has been raised 25 fold. This rise is thought to increase the risk of developing a rash.
Baby wipes are very convenient. You do not need to stop using the wipes. However, if your child has a history of eczema or allergies you may want to use wipes without MI. If your child does develop a rash stop using the wipes along with any new detergents, lotions, or soaps. If the rash does not go away in 2-3 days talk to your child’s doctor.