Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Your Baby

“Furry Pets” May Help Kids Avoid Some Allergies


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,



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!

Daily Dose

Family Routines

2.15 to read

As everyone is getting ready to go back to school, we went out for the last “family dinner” of the summer.  The beginning of September signifies the “new school year” which makes it the best time of year the time of year to talk about new routines. 

I was enthralled by the table next to us as there was a mother and her 3 children who were enjoying dinner. I happened to look over there at one point only to notice that the mother was reading a People magazine while all 3 of the children were on some sort of handheld electronic device. They were all engrossed in their own “electronic” world and they were not talking to one another at all!  I just sat there watching them as I kept thinking that this was just the beginning of their meal?

Unfortunately, they continued their entire meal, rarely speaking to one another. Occasionally, a child would say, “Mom, Mom” and the mother would put down her magazine for a moment and respond with a one or two word reply, only to go right back to her magazine. The entire meal was a testimony to the fact that “we” parents need to be engaged with our children.  I couldn’t stop watching (my husband was not happy with me).

This made me think that as we are off to a “new” school year we parents need to put down our electronic devices, or documents or our papers and pay attention to our children. Our children also need to put down all of their devices (I am not savvy enough to name all of them, iPhone, iPad, DSL, iTouch) and we need to TALK.  Even if the conversation does not have a lot of substance, it really makes no difference. It is the fact that we are talking to one another and making eye contact and listening. I (myself) am sometimes guilty (I know my own children are reading this) and we need to have a “family moratorium” that there will not be anything except conversation at dinner. No electronics just good old family time.

The time we have to spend together with our families, especially during the school age years, is all too fleeting. Make a resolution to enjoy family meal time, whether at home or at a restaurant, and talk about the day. Even if your child acts bored, or uninterested they will remember the mealtimes together. Especially if there is conversation.   


Family Road Trip!


With gasoline prices at a reasonable level, many families may choose to skip the hassles of flying and opt for a road trip this summer.

While it may be true, “The best made plans of mice and men often go awry”, it’s still necessary to prepare as best you can for a family road trip; whether it’s to the Grand Canyon, the beach, the grandparents or all of the above.

Before the trip, make sure that the car is in good condition. Have it checked out by a mechanic and any trouble spots fixed. The tires should have plenty of tread and the recommended amount of air for highway travel.

Once you’re ready for the big trip, here are some suggestions to help make it a little less stressful and more fun.

Packing the car:

·      Pack an easily accessible small bag that contains clothes for the next day, an extra change of clothes (for spills), PJs, a toothbrush, and anything else you need for that day and night. It will be much easier to grab than trying to rummage through the big suitcase.

·      Take your toddler or young child’s blanket and pillow. This is extra important if your road trip includes an overnight stay. Kids like their own stuff, particularly at bedtime in a strange place.

·      Babies and toddlers drop, spill, and spit up. Keep a roll of paper towels and a box of wipes in the front seat for easy cleanups. Keep a garbage bag handy too.

The Ride:

Boredom is probably the biggest instigator of trouble for kids packed into a tight space. Prepare to fight boredom with a few tricks of your own.

·      Snacks. Although it only provides a short respite, any quiet time is appreciated. Go light on the sugar – too much can backfire. Choose fresh or dried fruit, whole grain muffins, popcorn, cheese sticks, milk etc. In other words, something healthy and age appropriate.

·      Portable DVD players. These can be a lifesaver. Load up on your children’s favorite movies and don’t forget the headsets if you have different aged kids. Eleven year-olds and three year-olds don’t typically share the same taste in movies and video games. New DVDs they haven’t already seen are a bonus. Let the kids pick out what they want to watch ahead of time. And, make sure you have an extra set of headsets; you know someone is either going to lose a pair or break a pair. That’s a given.

·      If there is more than one adult traveling – one of you can get in the backseat for a while. A little face-to-face contact, some patty-cake, and a few tickling games go a long way toward distracting a cranky baby or a bored toddler.

·      Make sure some favorite toys are within easy reach. You might add a new toy or two your little one hasn’t seen before. Remember etch-a-sketch? Tech savvy youngsters are coming up with some amazing etchings these days!

·      Don’t forget to plan for stops. You'll have to stop for feedings, diaper changes, and stretching breaks. You'll be much less stressed if you accept that it may take twice as long to get there as it did in your pre-kid days and plan accordingly. Pre-teens and teens are going to need to move around too. Besides, sitting for an extended length of time isn’t good for anyone.

Oh, and someone is going to need a potty break soon after the pre-arranged stop has happened. Be patient and pull over, it’s really a lot easier and less taxing than a yelling match about “why didn’t you go when we stopped 30 minutes ago?”

·      If your trip requires an overnight stay somewhere, think about booking a motel that has an indoor pool. It may cost a little more, but it's something to look forward to, and it will help your children sleep better. If they sleep better, you’ll probably sleep better too.

·      Don’t forget about books (or e-books) for the kids that like to read. Coloring books for the younger ones, and brush up on some travel games the whole family can join in on. Here are a few tried and true suggestions. I Spy (I spy with my little eye, something red.) The License Plate Game. Keep a list of all the different state license plates you see. The goal is to list as many states as possible- although Hawaii might be a real challenge anywhere but in Hawaii. The Memory Game. Start a story with one sentence. The next person has to say that sentence then add his or her own sentence to the story. The story can change pretty quickly as everyone tries to remember all the previous sentences and then come up with a new one.

While road trips can be a challenge, they are always an adventure and often become fond memories, as kids grow older.

Have fun this summer and don’t forget to take lots of pictures!

Story source:


Your Child

CDC Warning: Dangerous Pool Parasite


With temperatures in the high 80s and 90s, lots of families are cooling down with a swim in the pool. It’s pretty much become a summer tradition over the decades and can be a great way to have fun, exercise and beat the heat.

However, there is a parasite outbreak that parents should know about before allowing their children to swim in public, private or even their own pool.

The parasite is Cryptosporidium and it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps. You can become infected with cryptosporidium by touching anything that has come in contact with contaminated feces.

The parasite is encased in a tough shell and is not easily removed by typical pool treatments like chlorine or bromine. It can survive for several days after a pool treatment, whereas e-coli is typically eliminated within minutes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a warning about the dangers of Cryptosporidium in pools and hot tubs.

CDC's Healthy Swimming Program chief Michele Hlavsa said that the outbreaks commonly affect children.

"With these outbreaks, we see they disproportionately affect young children," Hlavasa said, "They're the ones who can go to a pool and young children tend to carry lots of germs."

The parasite can be cleared from the body in about two to three weeks, Hlavasa said, but in a person with a weakened immune system the condition may become chronic or even fatal.

Pool owners can help reduce the risk to their family and guests by insisting people shower before diving into the water, the CDC stated. This practice could assist in preventing the microorganism from contaminating hot tubs or pools. It is also a good idea for anyone experiencing diarrhea to stay out of pools, the national public health agency recommended. Parents of young children are advised to change diapers well away from pools, in order to prevent contamination of the water by human waste.

For families visiting public pools, the CDC recommends that parents look to see their pool's most recent inspection was posted through their local health department or even look into buying their own chlorine tests that can be used to test if the water is properly treated.

The CDC also provides several sets of tips to help prevent water-borne illnesses:

Keep the pee, poop, sweat, and germs out of the water!

•       Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea.

•       Shower before you get in the water.

•       Don't pee or poop in the water.

•       Don't swallow the water.

Every hour—everyone out!

•       Take kids on bathroom breaks.

•       Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area—not poolside—to keep germs away from the pool.

•       Reapply sunscreen.

•       Drink plenty of fluids.

Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.

•       Pools: Proper free chlorine level (1–3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) levels maximize germ-killing power.

•       Hot tubs/spas: Proper disinfectant level (chlorine [2–4 parts per million or ppm] or bromine [4–6 ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) maximize germ-killing power.

•       Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips.

Enjoying the benefits of swimming is something that families everywhere will be taking advantage of this summer. Remember, we share the water—and the germs in it—with everyone. Take these few steps ahead of time to help make sure summer pool fun doesn’t turn into a summer illness.


Gillian Mohney,




Daily Dose

Traveling With an Infant

A common concern among new parents traveling is "what do we need to take for the your-baby in case they get sick?"Today really marks the last few days of frenzy in my office before the Christmas holiday. School has been out for several days and now begins the familiar pilgrimage of family travel to be together for the holidays. Packing up the kids, pets, gifts etc can be daunting, but a common concern among new parents is "what do we need to take for the your-baby in case they get sick." The combination of air travel and the germs one is exposed to while sitting with 200 of your closest friends, combined with family gatherings with children of all ages, definitely promises to promote colds. But, that being said, unless you have a newborn, the holidays are about family and traditions, so a cold is worth it!

When taking a your-baby their first trip you should be prepared. That was not the case when we flew with our son to L.A. for his first Christmas. What did I know, I was a new doctor and mother and inexperienced in both. Of course we packed gifts (very important for a six-month-old), special toys, clothes for all types of weather etc. What I did not prepare for was illness. So at 2:00 a.m. on day three of the visit (airplane germs have incubated) the your-baby awakens crying and hot. That would be my assessment, as I have brought nothing to take a temp or treat a fever for that matter. Off we go to the 24-hour 7/11 store to buy a thermometer, Tylenol and Pedialyte. Over the course of the next three days he continues to run a fever so we end up in a random E.R. in order that he may be examined by a "real doctor" or at least one that is more prepared than I was. Of course, after sitting for hours and numerous tests he is pronounced to have a VIRUS and we are sent home with more Tylenol. He then develops a viral rash just in time for returning home. It was an epiphany as a mother and doctor. Be prepared! When packing for that first trip, I would recommend taking fewer clothes (your-baby clothes are easy to wash) and scale down with toys, but DO PACK: a thermometer, Tylenol and ibuprofen drops with appropriate dosing charts, a bulb syringe for nasal suction and saline nose drops. A good gift for grandparents to own is a cool mist humidifier if there are numerous young grandchildren visiting each year. Families, holidays and unfortunately viral infections often come together, but they are usually short lived and an inconvenience. Having your few medical items at hand makes it even easier to deal with, and I am now a believer in the adage, "if I take it I won't need it". That's your daily dose, we'll chat again tomorrow.

Your Teen

Good Family Relationships Helps Teens Avoid Obesity


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,

Daily Dose

Back to School

Dr. Sue says with careful planning, the transition back to school should be easy on you and your kids!


Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.



What do the new concussion guidelines mean to young athletes?

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.


Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.