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Why the flu outbreak poses a greater risk to babies + young children

This year, one of the scariest plot lines for any family isn’t in a book or at the theaters—it’s the real-life threat of the flu. Thanks to the strain H3N2, the flu has spread to 49 states this season and cases continue to spike. So far, 20 people have died and thousands have been hospitalized because of the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


For mamas, the 2017-2018 flu season may feel especially scary. After all, according to the CDC, young children and older adults are most vulnerable to the dangerous H3N2 strain, which had made up 83% of reported cases.

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As the CDC explains in their flu guide for parents, “While the flu can be serious even in people who are otherwise healthy, it can be especially dangerous for young children and children of any age who have certain long-term health conditions.”

This is because the underdeveloped immune systems in children younger than 5 and especially those younger than 2 makes them more prone to serious flu complications, such as pneumonia. Babies younger than 6 months are the most at-risk because they are too young to get their own flu vaccinations.

But, even with the flu outbreak hitting most of the country, there are still things you can do to keep your kids and loved ones from getting sick this season.

According to public health officials, your best chance to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. Studies conducted by the CDC found that, although effectiveness varies, annual immunization can lower your odds of catching the flu by between 40% and 60% when the vaccine is well-matched to the seasonal strain.

Even though this year’s vaccine doesn’t appear to be as well-matched, experts still encourage families to get it—and then further safeguard themselves by following these flu-fighting tips.

1. Wash your hands often

Health experts recommend washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You should also help your kids do the same. Soap and water not available? The CDC suggests using an alcohol-based hand rub instead.

2. Wash your hands when cooking

Giving your hands a good scrub is especially necessary when preparing and cooking food, which is an easy vehicle for germs.

3. Clean and sanitize

Disinfect surfaces and objects touched often by people in order to kill germs such as the flu virus. (Think: tables, toys, phones, door knobs, cabinets, refrigerator, etc.) Even though this is a given when someone is sick in the house, you should stay in the habit of doing it before symptoms have time to appear.

4. Keep your hands away from your face

Germs move from our bodies to objects and back again, so avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose. Also teach your kids to do the same.

5. Cover your nose when a sneeze comes on

You can prevent other people from getting sick by covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you have to sneeze or cough. You should wash your hands right after you sneeze or cough to kill any linger germs.

6. Avoid close contact with people who are sick

You and your children should keep a far distance away from sick people if you want to stay healthy and prevent illness from spreading. If you can’t avoid contact with someone who is sick, try to limit your interactions until they feel better.

7. If you’re sick, stay home

If possible, stay home from work or school and avoid running errands when you’re sick. Get plenty of rest instead. This will prevent illness from being spread to others. If you can’t stay home, then try to limit contact with other people.

8. Treat your cold or flu

Don’t ride out being sick, especially if you have the flu. Over-the-counter drugs or prescription antivirals like Tamiflu can help reduce your symptoms and shorten the time you are sick, but only if taken upon the first sign of sickness.

Medications also help prevent serious health complications. If your child is sick, talk to your doctor about the best treatment options.

As simple as these precautions may seem, they certainly warrant repeating. Now, go wash your hands just to be safe!

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

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Mothers wanted the president to condemn white supremacy—he didn't

What you need to know about the first presidential debate and the 'Proud Boys'.

Screenshot/CNN

[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

For many American families, the impacts of systemic racism are a daily reality. This summer saw mothers and children go out and join Black Lives Matter protests in an effort to make the United States a safer place for Black children.

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Individuals across the country stood up and condemned white supremacy in 2020 and wanted the sitting President of the United States to do that Tuesday night, during the first presidential debate.

But he didn't.

When Chris Wallace of Fox News, the debate moderator, asked President Trump to condemn white supremacy, to ask militia groups to stand down and not escalate violence in cities like Kenosha and Portland, the president stated he was willing to...but when Wallace said "Then do it, sir," the president's answer was far from a clear condemnation.

First, Trump asked for a specific group to condemn, rather than simply condemning white supremacy as a whole. When the others on stage offered "white supremacy" and "Proud Boys" as the name to condemn, the President picked Proud Boys. But a condemnation didn't come.

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Trump said. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's gotta do something about Antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem."

This followed a previous exchange in which Wallace asked President Trump why he ended a racial sensitivity training program. Trump responded that the training was racist and was teaching people to "hate our country."

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