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Autism

The Truth About Autism

Daily Dose

Breaking Bad Habits

1:15 to read

Do any of your children bite their nails or suck their thumbs? If so, are you always saying, “take your fingers out of your mouth, they are dirty”, or “if you keep biting your nails you will get sick due to all of those germs on your fingers”!  I was guilty of saying those very things to my own children, and I also remember being a nail biter and my mother saying the same thing to me.

Well, who would have thought that a study just released today in the journal Pediatrics might make us parents eat our own words (it wouldn’t be the first time).  The study, “Thumb-Sucking, Nail-Biting and Atopic Sensitization, Asthma and Hay Fever” suggests that “childhood exposure to microbial organisms reduces the risk of developing allergies”.  Who knew that there might be something so positive coming from a “bad habit”.  

This study was done in New Zealand and followed over 1,000 children born between 1972-1973 (dark ages) whose parents reported that they either bit their nails or sucked their thumbs at 5,7,9 and 11 years old. The participants were then checked at ages 13 and again at 32 years old to look for an allergic reaction ( by skin prick testing) against at least one common allergen.  And guess what…at 13 years of age the prevalence of an allergic reaction was lower among those children who HAD sucked their thumbs or bitten their nails.  Incredibly the the findings persisted almost 20 years later!  This study even looked at cofounding factors including sex, parental history of allergies, pet ownership, breast feeding and parental smoking… none of which played a role. 

So, while not advocating for children to suck their thumbs or bite their nails (which unfortunately I did until high school when I decided to have nails to polish) there may be a silver lining….a protective effect against allergies that persists into adulthood. 

Lemonade out of lemons!!!

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Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship with Drew Pearson

Daily Dose

Teach Your Kids Good Manners

1.15 to read

Spring is always a busy time of year with end of school parties, proms, graduations, and lots of invitations.  These invitations are often sent not only to parents but many times they are sent to the kids as well. Some invitations have a reply card or say “please reply” or RSVP.   

Do your kids know what RSVP means?  Although it is French, surely everyone still knows it means “reply if you please”. Has RSVP been replaced by LOL and OMG? It is a common courtesy to respond to an invitation and one that all children need to learn (maybe some adults as well). 

Over the years I have had to explain this courtesy to my own children. Sometimes they just did not understand why I bugged them to reply in a timely matter.  After looking at the bulletin board where I would put check marks and dates by our response, I would often ask them if they had replied as well? This question was often answered with, “Not yet, trying to decide, or “ They know that I am coming ” or lastly “ I’ll do it later”.  Such answers did not seem to be exactly what I had hoped to hear. Of course, I couldn’t relent until we had closure on this issue and I knew that they had responded.  I was the bothersome mother after all!

For many years they seemed clueless as to head counts and party prep. I would re-iterate that by getting an idea of how many people are going to attend any event the hosts can make sure that there are enough seats for everyone coming, or enough food to eat and drinks for all. Otherwise, you either spend way too much over buying or end of scrounging as you didn’t plan on that many people. “Whatever”, right? 

Well, now that they are older, they were just complaining to me that they had not heard from guests for a party that they were planning. “How do I know how much food to order?”, “How do you rent tables and chairs if you don’t have a head count?”  “Why do people wait till the last minute to reply?”  “Didn’t their parents bug them about replying?”  And finally, music to my ears, “Mom you should write a blog about learning to reply to invitations”! 

So...here it is. Teach your kids (beginning at early ages) how to reply to a party. Have them pick up the phone to reply to the 5 year old birthday party, or learn to write an email response when they are accepting an invitation to attend an event. Teach them to reply in a timely manner, and if something does change, let the hosts know.  Lastly, I still don’t see any reply messages that say “text me if you are coming”, but I am sure that is just around the corner.  

Good manners are ageless and timeless.

Your Toddler

Toddlers Lack of Sleep Tied to Behavior Problems

2:00

Sleep is vital to survival and while we may appear to be doing nothing, our brains are very active. Sleep deprivation can make us grumpy and unable to make good decisions or concentrate. Not only do adults need sufficient amounts of sleep- so do children.

 A new study looks at the affects not enough sleep can have on toddlers and found that those little ones that slept less than 10 hours a night or woke up frequently were more inclined to have emotional and behavioral problems at age five.

Researchers were surprised that the “risks were so strong and consistent” said lead author Borge Sivertsen of Uni Research Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Bergen.

“While only an experimental study can determine causality, our study does suggest that there is an increased risk of developing such problems, also after accounting for a range of other possible factors,” Sivertsen told Reuters Health by email.

The results were from a long-term study of 32,662 pairs of mothers and children in Norway. The mothers filled out questionnaires when they were 17 weeks pregnant, when the child was 18 months old and again when the child was five years old.

Mothers rated 99 child behaviors on a scale from “not true” to “very true” and reported how long the child slept in a 24-hour period and how often he or she woke up during the night.

At 18 months, almost 60 percent of toddlers were sleeping for 13 to 14 hours per night and about two percent were sleeping for less than ten hours per night. About 3 percent of toddlers woke three or more times per night. Most kids woke a few times per week or less.

Toddlers who slept less than 13 hours per night often had emotional or behavioral problems at the same age, the authors write in JAMA Pediatrics.

They also had a higher risk of internalizing problems such as being emotionally mercurial, anxious and depressed.

While the study doesn’t prove causation, it does lend a lot of credibility to there being a link between too little sleep in toddlers and later emotional and social problems.

“Although it is difficult to tease out causality from observational studies, this longitudinal study does suggest that inadequate sleep in early childhood increases the risks for later emotional and behavioral problems,” said Michelle M. Garrison of Seattle Children’s Research Institute in Washington, who wrote an editorial about the research.

Not all of these children will necessarily develop mental health problems later in life. Other factors also play important roles like the child’s temperament and his or her parent’s emotional health.

If your child seems to have difficulty sleeping well or getting to sleep, talk with your pediatrician about tips to help your little one get the rest he or she needs. 

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/13/us-toddlers-sleep-behavior-idUSKBN0N41U920150413

 

Your Toddler

Nightmares & Night Terrors

Just about every parent has been awakened by their child at night because of a nightmare or night terror. They are very common occurrences in toddlers and pre-schoolers and something that most children outgrow by the time they head off to school. “Nightmares are just bad, scary dreams and they occur during REM sleep at the end of the night,” says pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. She says with nightmares a child will wake up frightened and will usually have vivid memories of the dream. A child will be able to tell a parent about the dream and may have trouble going back to sleep because of it.

“Night terrors are totally different,” Dr. Hubbard says. “Night terrors scare the parents and they are not scaring the child, which is hard to understand.” Night terrors occur earlier in the night, normally during the first few hours of sleep. During a night terror, the child is not awake and when they do wake up they have no memory of it occurring. “ It can go on for a few minutes and then they go back to sleep or wake up and look around and go back to sleep. They have no fear, no anxiety, they just go right back to sleep. You on the other hand are trying to figure out what happened to your child. You can not comfort a child during a night terror, which is so terrifying as a parent, you can’t do anything,” she says. Nightmares and night terrors are sometimes triggered by sleep deprivation. Dr. Hubbard says one way to help prevent them from happening is to keep your child on a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

Your Toddler

Thumb Sucking

2.00 to read

I admit it – I was a thumb sucker for way too long. My thumb and mouth didn’t part company until I was in first grade. The fear of getting caught during a sleepover at a friend’s house was enough for me to finally call it quits.

It’s normal for babies and toddlers to suck their thumbs. Babies are born with the urge to suck as part of their survival. They also use it as a way to soothe themselves when they feel hungry, afraid, restless, sleepy or bored. Toddlers carry on that natural instinct as they find their way in the world.

By the time children are around four-years-old they’ve typically stopped sucking their thumb and found replacements for self-soothing. Occasionally, children (like myself) will continue to suck their thumb out of habit.

Some experts say that if a child is still sucking their thumb by the age of six, they may be doing so because of emotional distress such as anxiety.

Thumb sucking isn’t a problem under the age of four, but if a child continues- with great intensity- after five or six years old, they could be setting themselves up for dental or speech problems.

Prolonged thumb sucking may cause their teeth to become improperly aligned (malocclusion) or push their teeth outward. If the thumb sucking stops, the teeth most likely will align correctly, but the longer the sucking continues the more likely orthodontic treatment will be needed.

Extended thumb sucking may also cause speech issues such as lisping, inability to say Ts and Ds, and pushing the tongue out when talking. A speech therapist may be needed to help correct these problems.

How do you help your child stop sucking their thumb? It takes a lot of patience.

One place to begin is to pay attention to what triggers the thumb sucking. Does your little one start when they are bored, sleepy, or unsure about something? Redirecting can help. Busy hands help keep thumbs from going into the mouth. Give your child a large stuffed animal to wrap their arms around or have them help hold the book when you are reading to them. Offer a squeezable rubber ball or finger puppets to grasp when they are watching TV.  The key is to offer an alternative at the times you notice they are the most likely to want to suck their thumb.

Ask your child to not suck their thumb in public and gently remind them when you see them doing it. Let them suck their thumb at home, but start the process of being self-aware in public. Kids often unconsciously slip their thumb into their mouth. A reminder helps them notice what they are doing.

You can also start talking to your child about why it’s time to give some thought to stopping. In age-appropriate language explain how thumb sucking is okay for younger children, but as children get older they learn how to stop. Ask them questions like “Do you see (insert name of an older child or adult here) sucking his or her thumb?” They’ll think about it more and start to decide whether they want to continue. It’s a process that takes time.

Punishing or shaming your child is absolutely the wrong method to address thumb sucking. This approach not only doesn’t work, but also lowers a child self-value and can create an even stronger desire to thumb suck. It’s like quitting anything you’re doing that may not be good for you in the long run- the worse someone tries to make you feel about it- the more you want to do it (think overeating, smoking, drinking.)

You can also talk to your pediatrician or family doctor for his or her suggestions on how to help your child. For older children, behavioral therapy may be beneficial.

There are products that are nasty tasting that can be swabbed on your child’s thumb, but some experts think that approach is cruel and more like a punishment than a humane way to help a child outgrow a natural inclination.

Most kids will simply quit sucking their thumb when they are good and ready. Helping your child reach that point may require patience and creativity, but in time his or her thumb will cease to be a constant comfort companion.

Sources: http://children.webmd.com/tc/thumb-sucking-topic-overview

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ADHD Drugs

ADHD Drugs: Brand Name vs. Generic

Daily Dose

Your Kids Need Protein!

1:30 to read

Nutrition and healthy eating habits are always a topic of discussion during my patient’s check-ups.  Interestingly, I hear many tweens and teens tell me, “I am now a vegetarian”.  While I am thrilled that my patients are developing an awareness about their nutrition, I am equally amazed by what they think a vegetarian diet is.

Many a parent has cornered me before their child’s check up concerned about their child’s recent announcement that they are vegetarians and it has actually caused some heated family discussions surrounding nutrition and dietary requirements. The parents say that their child just decided that they no longer wanted to “eat meat” and that they were vegetarians. 

So…many of these new “vegetarians” don’t even like vegetables, and a few are confused by the difference between a vegetable and a fruit. When I ask them if they eat broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, eggplant and potatoes, I find that more than a few turn their noses up at most of those suggestions and simply eat potatoes as their vegetable of preference. They also eat avocados, and are surprised to find out that it is a fruit, but it is a good source of healthy mono unsaturated fats.  A few are a bit more adventuresome and actually eat a wide variety of vegetables including lentils and black beans as a source of protein.  

The same thing goes for fruits although for the most part they do admit to having a broader palate when it comes to fruits that they will eat.  Apples, bananas, berries, grapes are all favorites and many of these kids will eat fruit all day long.  Fruit is healthy for sure, but also contains sugars (far preferable to the sugar in the M & M’s I am eating while writing). 

The biggest problem with their “vegetarian diet”?   They just eat carbs! So I have coined the term “carbohydratarian” to describe them. Most of these patients are female and they eat carbs all day long.  They have cereal, toast, bagels for breakfast, followed by grilled cheese, french fries or a quesadilla for lunch and then dinner is pizza or pasta, and maybe a salad (lettuce only).  They like crackers, bread and almost all pasta (rarely whole wheat ). Rice is another favorite.

I too could probably eat a lot of these carbs every day….I think many people enjoy their carbs. But these kids are not meeting many of their nutritional requirements. They are getting very little protein! They are also growing…some at their most rapid rate during puberty. When I talk about adding protein to their diet they are often reticent to add eggs, fish or beans to their food choices. 

If your child decides that they want to change their lifestyle and might consider becoming a vegetarian or vegan, I would encourage you to have them meet with a certified nutritionist to explore their likes and dislikes as well as to educate them as to their nutritional needs.

I must say…..very few of these patients have maintained their vegetarian lifestyle, but if they choose to, they need to know the difference between a fruit and a veggie!

 

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