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Parenting

Tips for a Fun and Safe Easter!

2:00

Easter is right around the corner and many parents and grandparents will be hosting or attending the traditional egg hunt. Little ones will scramble to fill their baskets and sacks with chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks and decorated Easter eggs.

If you’re one of the lucky hosts, here are 7 tips to help create not only make great memories, but also a safer and healthier day!

1. Egg Safety: Always cook eggs thoroughly and refrigerate them before and after dying. If you’re blowing out the raw eggs and dying the shells, use a straw or choose pasteurized eggs to avoid salmonella exposure. Wait to hide your eggs until just before the hunt is scheduled to start: you should consume boiled eggs within two hours of removing them from the refrigerator. If you’re worried about using hard-boiled eggs, consider replacing them with plastic eggs and hiding toys and treats inside instead.

One tip to avoid cracked egg shells while cooking comes from L.A. Times Test Kitchen and Food Editor, Russ Parson. "Place the eggs in a pan just big enough to hold them in a single layer," Parsons said. "Cover them with cold water and bring them to a rolling boil. Cook for one minute, and then remove them from the heat. When the water has cooled enough that you can put your hand in (about 20 minutes), the eggs will be perfectly cooked."

2. Coloring Easter Eggs: A favorite Easter tradition is creating unique egg designs. To dye Easter eggs safely, make sure everyone washes their hands before and after handling the eggs. Eggs that have cracked during cooking are an easy target for bacteria, so avoid coloring or eating those. Use only food-grade dyes, or make your own from grape juice, tea, beets, blueberries, turmeric, or other natural products.

Instructions for making naturally dyed Easter eggs can be found here.

3. Avoid Choking Hazards: Many families hide plastic Easter eggs, typically filled with a small toy.  For toddlers and crawlers (who will put everything in their mouths), it’s best to use larger plastic eggs that have nothing in them. Small toys are easy for little throats to choke on. If you’re giving your toddler candy, avoid jellybeans and hard candies. Hotdogs are the number one choking hazard for children!

4. Food Allergies: Ask parents if any kids with food allergies will be attending your Easter egg hunt. If so, it’s easier than ever to accommodate them. Peanut-, dairy-, and gluten-free candies are readily available

5. Outdoor Dangers: Take a walk through your lawn or pasture to make sure that all tools and chemicals are removed. Check to see that poison ivy or oak is not present. And don’t forget about anthills – these stinging pests can pop up overnight, particularly after a rain. Any pets that can get over-excited by running and yelling children should be kept inside or in a pen.

6. Speaking of Pets: If your four-legged friends are allowed to join in on the fun, be sure to keep chocolate, Easter grass, and plastic off the ground and out of their reach. Remind the kids (and parents!) not to feed any candy to the dog.

Baby bunnies and chicks are often given to kids at Easter. Many experts agree that these pets do not do well in the hands of small children. They also require consistent care and the proper environment to thrive. Stuffed animals are a much better choice for most children. 

7. Easter Hunt Alternatives: If you’re concerned about certain Easter hunt safety issues; consider an alternative plan. Games can be a huge hit with kids as well as a petting zoo or children’s entertainer. Some Easter game suggestions are: Guessing the number of jelly beans in jar, playing hide and seek, competing in an Easter egg spoon race, playing pin the tail on the Easter Bunny, or you may even want to make up your own games!

Easter celebrations are a favorite family event. Make this Easter a memorable and safe one for your family!

Story sources: Alyssa Baker, http://www.safewise.com/blog/7-tips-for-hosting-safe-easter-egg-hunt/

Maria Vultaggio, http://www.ibtimes.com/how-boil-easter-eggs-without-cracking-them-tips-perfect-hard-boiled-egg-1571632

Photo: http://www.govtedu.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/colorful-eggs-basket-e...

 

 

Your Baby

“Furry Pets” May Help Kids Avoid Some Allergies

2:00

You might think that having pets would be a nightmare if you have small children with a family history of allergies. A new study says that furry pets may actually help protect children against some allergies.

The infants’ mothers had a history of allergy, so the babies were at increased risk too, and it was once thought that pets might be a trigger for allergies in such children, the authors point out in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“Earlier it was thought that exposure to pets early in childhood was a risk factor for developing allergic disease,” said Dr. Merja Nermes of the University of Turku in Finland, who coauthored the research letter. “Later epidemiologic studies have given contradictory results and even suggested that early exposure to pets may be protective against allergies, though the mechanisms of this protective effect have remained elusive.”

Adding pet microbes to the infant intestinal biome may strengthen the immune system, she told Reuters Health by email.

The study team collected fecal samples from diapers when the babies were one month of age and these were tested for the DNA of two types of Bifidobacteria that are found specifically in animal guts: B. thermophilum and B. pseudolongum.

One third of infants from the pet-exposed group had animal-specific bifidobacteria in their fecal samples, compared to 14 percent of the comparison group. It’s not clear where the infants without furry pets at home acquired their gut bacteria, the authors write.

When the babies were six months old they had skin prick tests to assess allergies to cow’s milk, egg white, flours, cod, soybeans, birch, grasses, cat, dog, potato, banana and other allergens.

At six months of age, 19 infants had reactions to at least one of the allergens tested. None of these infants had B. thermophilum bacteria in their fecal samples.

Other studies have pointed out the connection between kids exposed to farm animals and household pets and building a better immune system.

“When infants and furry pets live in a close contact in the same household, transfer of microbiota between pets and infants occurs,” Nermes said. “For example, when a dog licks the infant´s face or hand, the pet-derived microbiota can end up via the mouth into the infant´s intestine.”

Human-specific Bifidobacteria have beneficial health effects, and animal-specific strains may also be beneficial, she said. It is still unclear, however, if exposure to these bacteria protects against allergies later in life, she said.

“Future research is needed to assess if these infants develop less atopic dermatitis, asthma or allergic rhinitis later,” she said.

Nermes also noted that she believes pediatricians should not discourage pregnant women or parents of infants from having pets in order to prevent allergies.

“If a family with a pregnant mother or an infant wants to have a pet, the family can be encouraged to have one, because the development of allergic disease cannot be prevented by avoiding pets,” she said.

Source: Kathryn Doyle, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/10/us-health-allergy-pet-microbes-idUSKCN0RA2CK20150910

 

 

Daily Dose

Don't Let Your Child Become an Obesity Statistic

Healthy eating begins with the first foods that you feed your infant.An alarming statistic was released today which shows that one in five 4-year-old children are obese and these numbers are even higher in minority children. This study was just published in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, and followed over 8,000 children looking at height and weight. The findings were quite concerning, showing a trend toward obesity at an age younger than predicted, and numerous long term health problems associated with obesity, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and bone and joint problems.

This is a national health issue and a call to action for all families to teach and model healthy eating. One of the problems is that many of the government sponsored food programs provide foods high in carbohydrates, and low in fresh fruits and vegetables, and this promotes obesity. School lunches have also been found to be high in fat and carbohydrate and continue to promote poor food choices. With the bad economy and recession, families have cut back on groceries and may be eating more fast foods, breads and pastas, again providing more carbohydrate than protein. Healthy eating begins with the first foods that you feed your infant. A well balanced diet with grains, fruits, vegetables and meats begins in the high chair and should continue at the family dinner table. The meals may be simple and healthy. Being a short order cook, or providing your child's favorite pizza and fried food on a daily basis, even in a young toddler will have deleterious effects for the rest of their life. Don't let your child become a statistic heading toward lifelong health issues secondary to childhood obesity. Change your own eating habits, improve your children's and remain committed to family meals. We, as parents, cannot afford to raise a generation where obesity is the norm: the change must begin now. That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow. More Information: 1 in 5 Preschoolers Obese

Your Teen

Good Family Relationships Helps Teens Avoid Obesity

1:30

Two of the most valuable resources a teen can have are a stable family and a good relationship with their parents. Adolescents that have these two important components in their lives are more likely to develop healthy habits that may protect them from obesity, according to new study.

"A high level of family dysfunction may interfere with the development of healthful behaviors due to the families' limited ability to develop routines related to eating, sleep or activity behaviors, which can lead to excess weight gain," said the study's lead author, Jess Haines, of the University of Guelph in Ontario.

For the study, the researchers reviewed information on about 3,700 daughters and 2,600 sons, aged 14 to 24, in the United States.

About 80 percent reported having close and stable families. The findings showed that 60 percent of daughters and 50 percent of sons said they had a good relationship with their parents.

Researchers also found that teens with good family relationships are more likely to be more active and get enough sleep. Two factors, in addition to a healthy diet, that contributes to reasonable weight control.

The daughters in these families ate less fast food, and were less likely to be overweight or obese, the researchers discovered.

They also noted that fathers play an important role in helping their sons develop better choices that allow them to maintain a healthy weight.

"Much of the research examining the influence of parents has typically examined only the mother's influence or has combined information across parents," Haines said in a university news release.

"Our results underscore the importance of examining the influence fathers have on their children, and to develop strategies to help fathers support the development of healthy behaviors among their children," she said.

"It appears the father-son parent relationship has a stronger influence on sons than the mother-daughter relationship has on young women," said Haines.

As kids grow into adolescents, a tug of war between independence and parental control often develops. Research has shown that ongoing positive family relationships offer protective influences for teens against a range of risky behaviors. Sometimes it may feel like as our teens mature, family influence begins to wane - but that’s not the reality. This study points out how important a stable home life and good relationships are in helping teens develop a lifetime of healthy habits.

The study was published recently in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, https://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/family-health-news-749/parents-play-key-role-in-teens-health-712354.html

Daily Dose

Bright Light & Sneezing

1:30 to read

What is the connection between bright light and sneezing? DId you know it was hereditary?I have always noticed that I frequently sneeze when I walk outside, and this was especially noticeable this summer with all of the bright sunny HOT days that we experienced. I thought I had remembered that my mother often did this too and when I asked her she confirmed this.

I was recently reminded of this again when I was with my youngest son moving him back to school. It seemed that every time we walked outside to get another load of boxes he sneezed! We both sounded like “Sneezy” one of the Seven Dwarfs.

Of course my son announced, “Mom are you just realizing this? I have always sneezed just like Ohma and you do”. Oh well, I am finally catching on.

This of course piqued my curiosity and then I remembered that I had read something about “the photic sneeze reflex”.  It has also been name ACHOO: Autosomal Cholinergic Helio-Opthalmic Outburst (and you thought ACHOO was the sound you made!)

It is estimated that this reflex affects about 1 in 4 people. It is inherited in the autosomal dominant manner (remember your days in biology and big B and little b?) If you have the “sneezy gene” your child has a 50-50 chance of also having it.

This reflex has been known for a long time but there wasn’t much science as to the cause. But a recent study (very small only 20 people) compared photic sneezers to controls and found that when shown a shifting pattern of images, the visual cortex of the sneezers showed higher activity than those of the control subjects.

There needs to be much more research done on this topic with larger groups of people studied to further confirm this finding.  But, nevertheless, it is interesting that scientists are now trying to elucidate the mystery of the photic sneeze.

In the meantime I realized that another one of my son’s also has the gene. Funny how you suddenly recognize a familial pattern to sneezing only to find out it is in the genes. It also reminds me I have a blue eyed and 2 brown eyed children, back to those genes again.  Just like they taught me in medical school, take a good family history!

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

2016 Goals

1:15 to read

Just finished cleaning up after the Christmas holidays and I resolved that I was going to “de-construct” the decorations before the next holiday…and not have to face the New Year with that task looming.  Now I can move on to some different resolutions!

The more and more that I realize how much time we all spend “hunched” over a screen of some sort, the more I think that this year should be about finding time to disconnect.  It used to be that you could just turn off your phone when you wanted to be “unavailable”.  That seemed so easy…people would just have to call back later, right?  But now we try text, email, g-chat, face time….all sorts of ways to try to connect.  It is much harder to be on the DL or unavailable. 

I continue to read new data on the need for personal communication via oral language, rather than a text or email. But the immediacy of communication these days makes it seem that we don’t talk any more, we just type!!  This is even becoming an issue for younger and younger children as they focus on their “baby”computers and screens that are given to them to watch…rather than on their parents and caregivers faces and interactive language.  There is already data to show that the interaction with a screen is not the same as that with a human….and that language may even be delayed.

So the point of this is that my resolution is to take time everyday to just disconnect from a screen and enjoy a bit of old fashioned solitude and quiet time.  I am going to get up each day and not rush to the computer to check any “late breaking” emails from overnight.  I am also  going to turn off the I-phone which as they taught me early on at the Apple store, is not really a phone but rather a hand held computer!  I hope that there may be an hour every morning and another in the evening when I am totally disconnected….I’ll let you know how I do. Don’t worry if you can’t “find” me….I am just off the grid.

What are your resolutions?

Daily Dose

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

While most of the practice of pediatrics is fun, happy and joyful, there are occasional days that you have to relay bad news to a family. I had one of those days today. It is the hardest part of being a pediatrician. I doubt many parents ever expect that they will take their child to the doctor, for a seemingly inconsequential issue, and leave with a life - altering diagnosis.

How quickly your parenting life changes, it sounds trite, but for any of us, it can happen in a "blink of an eye" and the hardest part of my job is knowing that I have to be the one to tell the family. Most of us take our good health for granted, and although we, as parents, do worry about our children, many of our worries are about scrapes, breaks, stitches and sleepless nights with a child with a fever or ear infection. Why do those events seem so big, when in reality they are just part of the "normal" parenting experience? But hearing that your child has a life changing illness must make your world stop for a moment as you take it in the information. I admire the parents (more than they will ever know) who also "hold it all together" for the sake of their child. The parent's love shines through as they hug their child, hold back tears and have the smile on their face, letting their child know that "they will be fine" but also knowing that their own tears and anxiety will come later that night in the privacy of their own room, rather than in front of their child. So, when I got home tonight, it was one of those nights you just want to hug your child, tell them they are perfect and thank God that your are so fortunate to have healthy children. It is another reminder, "don't sweat the small stuff" it really isn't worth it. That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing each of you a healthy and happy holiday with your family. I am thankful for the many blessings of friends and family. A special prayer and thank you for those men and women who are not with their families today as they are overseas protecting our values and freedom. Happy Thanksgiving from Dr. Sue and everyone at The Kid's Doctor!

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Daily Dose

Fit Foods for a Healthy Lifestyle

1:15 to read

Wherever you are on your healthy lifestyle journey, you are not alone.  I tell my patients that the key to being healthy is being disciplined in eating the right foods, staying active and getting enough sleep...and that’s for both you and your kids.

Committing to your overall health and wellness should start early on.  When you’re pregnant, it doesn’t always mean you’re eating for two. A growing baby needs nourishment from their mother’s diet throughout the day but experts say nutrition during pregnancy should be about adding extra nutrients and not extra meals. Moms to be need to be eating foods that are good for them and their baby.  You just need to choose the right ones.

Avocados are a power food loaded with critical vitamins and minerals pregnant moms need to pass along to their unborn baby.  Nutrients like folate which helps prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Avocados contain powerful antioxidants like lutein an ingredient found in breast milk which is known to protect important cells in a baby’s eye. 

It’s so important for pregnant moms to consume a host vitamins and minerals and avocados are a great resource.  You might say avocados are a very similar to a prenatal vitamin!  And avocados may even help reduce morning sickness!

And the health benefits of avocados don’t stop once your baby is born.  If you’re breastfeeding…avocados are high in monounsaturated fats which are good fats and are important for a baby’s weight gain, growth and brain development. 

Avocados are the perfect first food for your baby.   Between 4 and 6 months you can introduce avocados into your child’s diet.  They work perfectly because they are easily mashed and slightly sweet.  This is a good time to introduce new food textures as well.

What’s the foolproof way to know that your family’s favorite fruit is ripe?  Push lightly near the neck and feel for a gentle yield.  If you’re still not sure it’s ready to eat? Pop the stem button.  If the stem button pops off easily, then the fruit is ready to eat.

Moms and dads…we always put our children first…so don’t forget about yourselves.  Avocados are a fit food fruit.  Studies show avocados may reduce total cholesterol levels while they lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.

Avocados are also loaded with dietary fiber which may help you lose weight and reduce blood sugar spikes.

The next time you’re grocery shopping, make sure you add a few avocados to your cart.  They’re nutritious, heart healthy and taste delicious.  They’re good for you and everyone in your family! What more could you ask for in a fruit?

For more information, visit worldsfinestavocados.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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