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Daily Dose

Parent-Teacher Conference Time

It is that time of year when parents have the privilege of meeting with their children's teachers to discuss academic progress and the fall semester.Now that I have finished doing homework with the younger set, I have returned to the office and ALL of my 27 messages are related to school conferences. It is that time of year when parents have the privilege of meeting with their children's teachers to discuss academic progress and the fall semester. From preschool through high school, conferences are in full swing. I loved getting to sit down with my children's teachers to discuss their progress and really to compare notes, parent to teacher, as to how our boys were progressing in school. You may have heard me say that I believed in the "no news is good news" perspective, and did not call the school etc, unless summoned.

But conferences really are a time of gathering information and discussing this information with your children, whether there is good news or "bad" news to discuss. This is the time of year when attention issues seem to become evident. It may be inattention, impulsivity, excessive talking, lack of focus or incomplete work, but all of these problems deal with attention. Many younger children may be in their first classroom and are still adjusting to a full day of school, following directions, and completing work. But, if you child has been in school and is not showing maturation on these fronts, and teachers continue to discuss your child's attention, focus and concentration, it is important to follow up with your pediatrician. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is common in up to 10 - 15% of children of school age and is usually diagnosed in elementary school. If your child has symptoms suggestive of attention issues, call your pediatrician to discuss further workup and evaluation, beginning with teachers and parents rating scales. It is important to note any concerns with your doctor and to continue evaluating your child as needed. Remember, there are more conferences in the spring, and this is a good time to set goals with your child. That's your daily dose, we'll chat tomorrow.


Memorial Day Safety Tips


Memorial Day is often referred to as the “unofficial” start of summer and is one of the busiest days for family get-togethers.

It’s a wonderful day to share memories and do all the fun things that warmer weather and longer daylight hours offer.

The American College of Emergency has a list of safety tips to help make sure your Memorial Day isn’t interrupted by a trip to the ER.

“Fun in the sun, by the pool, on a boat or at a barbecue can quickly send you to the emergency department if you don’t plan ahead or use common safety sense,” said Dr. David Seaberg with the American College of Emergency Physicians. “You can have fun while at the same time take reasonable precautions to help keep you safe and most importantly, keep you alive.” 

Food Safety — Judging by what I’ve seen recently in the grocery checkout lanes, food is going to play a big role in family get-togethers this Memorial day!

Refrigerate all perishable food within 2 hours, 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees. To guard against cross-contamination of bacteria, keep uncooked meats away from other foods. 
To avoid food poisoning, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recommends cooking fresh poultry to 165 degrees, hamburgers to 160 degrees and beef to at least 145 degrees.

Grill Safety — A lot of that food will be cooked on a grill. Emergency physicians see firsthand the dangers associated with an outdoor grill. Before cranking up the grill, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned of any grease or dust. Check the tubes leading into the burner for any blockages from insects or food grease that can cause an uncontrolled fire. Replace any connectors that can lead to a gas leak and keep lighted cigarettes, matches or open flames away from a any grill. Do not use a grill in a garage, breezeway, carport or porch or near any surface that can catch fire. Also, always follow the manufacturer's instructions that come with the grill. If using lighter fluid to start a fire, do not over-saturate the coals or wood., and stand back from the grill to light it.

Water Safety — Many families and friends will be at the pool, lake or beach this holiday, participating in water activities. To prevent drowning, avoid alcohol when swimming or boating. Wear a lifejacket whenever you are on a boat. Make sure young children are supervised at all times when near the beach, on a boat, or by a pool or hot tub. Don't swim alone or in bad weather. Learn to swim and teach your children to swim. We also recommend that you learn CPR in case of an emergency. 

Sun Safety — Protect against sunburn and heat stroke. Wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 or higher and apply it generously throughout the day. Wear a hat outdoors and a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes. Drink plenty of water, especially when in the sun or if you are sweating heavily. If you feel faint or nauseous, get into a cool place immediately. 

Travel Safety – Memorial Day is one of the busiest holiday travel days by car. One of the most obvious safety tips is never drink and drive or travel with anyone who has been drinking. Take along a traveler first aid kit to help you be prepared for common emergencies. Wear your seatbelt and make sure your children are buckled up or in their car seats at all times. Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced and is in good working shape before a long road trip. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings if you are in an unfamiliar place and know where the nearest emergency room is. Also, avoid talking or texting on a cell phone while driving. You can always text or return calls after you get where you are going or pull off the road and park, if you need to reply immediately.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and be sure to take a few minutes to think about the true meaning of the holiday. A day to honor those that have given their lives in service to our country.

Story source:




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

Flu Season Isn't Over Yet

Just when you least expect it, those nasty viruses can rear their angry heads and guess what, they seem to be back.This has certainly been a weird end of winter and early spring in our office. I have always been very protective of my newborns and try to keep them "isolated" from all of those terrible winter viruses and germs for the first six to eight weeks of the infant's life. Especially for those newborns born during the winter months. Because we are fortunate to live in a temperate climate, we have lots of sunny days in the winter which allows for parents and babies to get out for walks in their neighborhood and even strolls in the park.

Even so, many of the parents (and they say their babies too) are getting a little cabin fever and are ready to head out to the mall, church and restaurants (the list seems endless). All of these venues are all full of crowds, so it is a given that germs are lurking there. By this time it had seemed that flu was long gone in our area and we had not seen RSV for months. Just when you least expect it, those nasty viruses can rear their angry heads and guess what, they seem to be back? I saw several cases of Influenza B last week, and yes they were documented! I was so skeptical that I had the lab techs pull out the boxes of flu tests to just check for checking sake and what do you know?! At the same time I saw several cases of RSV and even had to hospitalize one infant due to respiratory distress, the first child I had hospitalized all winter! Even the hospital was out of the rapid screening kits that had not been used recently, so it took us a day to document RSV. I am happy to report that both the your-baby with RSV and the adolescent with the flu are now doing well. I guess the moral of the story is, we cannot always predict the "official" end of the winter viral season. So keeping infants isolated seems like a good practice for at least several more weeks, until it is hard to find a coughing, sneezing, feverish, person among us. By June it will be a memory until winter of 2009 - 2010 and unfortunately the cycle begins again. That's your daily dose, 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

Making Memories

1.15 to read

I am seeing so many patients this summer for their routine check ups and it makes me realize how much I love the elementary school years!  All of the parenting years are great, but those years when your child is between the ages of 5 - 11 are especially precious! These are really the years that so many family memories are made. 

When I am seeing these children for their check-ups I always ask them what they’ve been doing over the summer.  Their faces light up as they talk about trips to see grandparents, or trips to the lake or special trips to the beach or the mountains. Whether the trip is just to the local pool or to far off places, these are the times that children love being with their family!!  The family pictures are always of smiling children (many with missing teeth) who are so happy to be posing with their Mom, Dad and siblings doing the many things that families do during the lazy days of summer...swimming, boating, digging sand castles, fishing, cooking out...any number of summer activities.  The pictures are always cute and the kids love being photographed.  Great Christmas card material! 

Now, fast forward to the “tween-teen” years.  There are the same trips to see grandparents or to the beach and some lucky children will get to travel to exotic places. But, in many cases the “kids” are being “forced” to gather for that special picture. It is almost like you have to pull those front teeth to get them to pose for a picture. There is suddenly “attitude” in the photo. Have you had that same experience?  How quickly our children change. 

The elementary school years are so great!! The kids are big enough to travel, enjoy the trip and to behave (usually).  The memories of being together with your children during a special summer trip and immortalizing it in photos is really a photo moment. (it is probably more like a digital moment these days)  Pure joy! 

You simply can’t take enough pictures of your children experiencing a new adventure, or time spent with a grandparent or heading out for camp.  These are the pictures that you will use one day for the high school yearbook page, or the graduation video or even the rehearsal dinner. Every family has these pictures and to remember the time together couldn’t be more special! 

So, go make memories with those 5-11 year olds. It doesn’t get better.... and yes those special times do continue, but they maybe a bit different as your children hit that next phase the tween/teen years.   

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

Daily Dose

Gather the Family for Game Night

After the long Thanksgiving weekend with family around, I must admit I am a fan of playing games together. What better way to spend time together than gathering around the table for game night (or day)? Now of course we had the obligatory football game watching and there was plenty of time for eating and snacking, but every evening we all came together for games. I don't really think it matters what game you play, it is the family time that is so special.

From the time the boys were little we were a game family. I grew up playing games with my parents and brother. We always loved card games. My dad taught our boys to play chess when they were little, and one of their biggest accomplishments was finally being able to beat Opah. Whenever they bring out the chessboard I can see my dad's face beaming down on them, making sure they rethink a move before they pick up their rook. Children are like sponges when they are little and love learning new games, and they enjoy the friendly competition involved in games. From early on they like learning the matching and memory games and putting puzzles together. Then children move on to board games with Chutes and Ladders and Candyland. I wonder how many of those games have been sold? Next comes Monopoly lasting for hours and learning about money and real estate, and Risk and Battleship, the list is endless. Card games are a great way for kids to have fun while learning too. Go Fish, Hearts, Spades, and Gin Rummy, and now the kids love playing poker (for pennies at our house). I think this would be a great time of year to forgo video and battery operated games, and buy the old favorites. The biggest challenge with board games is keeping up with the pieces, which is easier than finding batteries that work! Go play a game with the kids. That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow!

Your Child

Are First Born Children Smarter?


Who’s the smartest among your siblings? If you’re the first born, then you are, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the Analysis Group and the University of Sydney found that children who were born first typically scored higher on IQ tests than their younger siblings.

First-born children may have better thinking skills than their siblings because they received more mental stimulation during their early stages of development, researchers said.

For the study, researchers used data from the U.S. Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth on nearly 5,000 children who were monitored from pre-birth to age 14. Every two years, the children in the survey were assessed on a variety of categories, including reading, vocabulary assessment and matching letters.

The research found that firstborn children typically perform better than their siblings as early as age 1, which could be due to how parents treat subsequent children. According to the study, parents were less likely to partake in mentally stimulating activities with their younger children, meaning they may not have developed the same thinking skills as the older sibling.

The results from this study are similar to other studies that have looked at whether birth order plays a role in IQ level and personality traits.

While the study has similar findings as other studies along this line, siblings may beg to differ as to who is actually the smartest in the family.

The study was published in the Journal of Human Resources.

Story source: Mary Bowerman,

Daily Dose

The Wisdom from Multi-generations

Why it's so important to gather multi-generations together. It's good for everyone!We had such a fun evening last weekend entertaining friends and watching the World Series on TV!  We invited several family friends for dinner, their own children and their parents. Three generations of families.

There was a wide range of ages teens–80’s and what struck me is how important it is to gather as a family. Whatever the occasion, getting multi-generations together is such fun and keeps everyone connected.   The conversations that I overheard were quite interesting. Little did I know that a dear friend of ours father had played in the minor leagues for the Yankees. No wonder he has been a Yankees fan his entire life.  Listening to his stories really made baseball much more interesting, at least to me. We also had the “younger generation” engaged with the older crowd, discussing some of the nuances of an iPad.  The 80 year olds were using their iPad for games, books and videos, and seemed quite knowledgeable. They did have a few questions that the younger crowd quickly helped them with. How interesting it was for me to watch that interaction. I can’t even begin to think about using an iPad as my children tell me that I am not “intuitive enough”, but the older generation had the time and tenacity to become quite adept at mastering an iPad. I know what I have to look forward to after retirement. Time to become smarter and much more computer savvy! The last thing that I noticed was the youngsters talking to the grandparents about the latest commercials on TV. They seemed to have a lot in common as they actually liked many of the same commercials.  We all sat around and tried to name the commercial as well who sponsored the ad. You know who is listening the most, the 80 year olds!! We all remembered a cute commercial (we Texans have been watching a lot of sports lately), but often we could not tell you what the ad was selling!! Guess that is not what the advertisers want to hear. But the oldest generation immediately told us whether it was Geico, or AT&T or Subaru. I don’t think we need to worry about Alzheimer’s with this crowd! I am just thankful for family evenings like this!  Getting multi-generations together may at times seem daunting and maybe a little tedious. But, I think that everyone would agree that fun was had by all of us. The conversations were lively and animated, and everyone lingered over dinner to listen to more stories as dessert was being served.   This evening would have only been better if the Texas Rangers would have won! That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow. Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!


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Which viruses are gearing up for summer?

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