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Parenting

Recent Hurricane Disasters May Have Lasting Impact on Kids

2:15

Children may experience long lasting trauma from either living through or even viewing images of natural disasters such as hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, experts say.

"Compared to adults, children suffer more from exposure to disasters, including psychological, behavioral and physical problems, as well as difficulties learning in school," Jessica Dym Bartlett, a senior research scientist at Child Trends, said in that organization's news release.

It’s reasonable to think that children who have actually had to live through the devastation of being in a hurricane could be traumatized and suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome, (PTSD.) But child mental health experts say that even kids who have seen pictures of the damage and watched news reports can also be traumatized and may develop similar symptoms of PTSD such as depression and anxiety.

"Understand that trauma reactions vary widely. Children may regress, demand extra attention and think about their own needs before those of others -- natural responses that should not be met with anger or punishment," Dym Bartlett said.

To help children through this difficult time, parents should create a comforting and safe environment where their child’s basic needs are met. Keep to regular schedules and other routines that provide children with a sense of safety and predictability.

Children that stay busy are also less likely to have continuing negative thoughts; boredom can worsen adverse thoughts and behaviors. Youngsters are less likely to feel distress if they play and interact with others, Dym Bartlett noted.

Limiting your child’s exposure to the continuous images and descriptions of disasters coming from news reports is also helpful, but it’s not necessary to try and eliminate everything pertaining to catastrophes. It’s better to help children understand what has happened in age-appropriate language and to empathize hope and positivity. Reassurance that you are there for them and will do all that is humanly possible to protect them can ease some of the fear associated with disasters.

"Find age-appropriate ways for children to help. Even very young children benefit from being able to make a positive difference in others' lives while learning important lessons about empathy, compassion and gratitude," Dym Bartlett said.

If a child continues to have difficulties coping for longer than six weeks after an event, like the hurricanes, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network recommends seeking professional help.

Parents and caregivers should also make sure that they take care of their own emotional health during these trying and sad times.

Story source: Health Day News, https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/09/12/Hurricanes-may-take-lasting-emotional-toll-on-kids/4141505232381/?utm_source=sec&utm_campaign=sl&utm_medium=14

Daily Dose

Should Children Lift Weights?

I am often asked by both young patients and their parents if children can participate in weight lifting and strengthening exercises.

I think the appropriate term is strength training and conditioning, rather than weight lifting, which connotes competition and the need for heavier and heavier weights. When done appropriately, strength training and conditioning is great for kids of all ages, and really encourages being physically fit. Weightlifting is not appropriate for a growing child as it can put too much strain on the tendons and cartilage. This is especially true when kids become competitive about lifting bigger and bigger weights at the risk of long-term injury. Allowing children to weight lift in hopes of “bulking up” or “building the biggest muscles” before pubertal development and their growth spurt is inappropriate. All of that can be deferred for the post pubertal athlete. On the other hand, an age appropriate strength training and conditioning program may actually be protective of a child’s joints by increasing their muscle strength and their endurance. By participating in supervised and structured strengthening programs, a child as young as eight may improve their endurance, body awareness and balance, all of which are beneficial. A strength-training program can be done without weights, as in resistance training, by simply using the child’s body weight. Examples of this would be abdominal crunches, push-ups and pull-ups. These are great ideas for the younger children. For older children free weights or resistance bands may be added. Parents or coaches who are familiar with the use of free weights should always supervise. Start out with lighter weights, and make sure that the child can do at least 10 repetitions with the weight, if not, drop to a lower free weight. Have the adult watch the child for form and technique and supervise any increase in weights or repetitions. There are also many programs through local gyms and YMCA’s tailored just for kids to participate in strength training. When beginning a conditioning program encourage your child to have a warm up period, with a little aerobic activity like walking or running as this his will help to warm the muscles and prevent injury. After the strength training it is equally important to have a cool down period with gentle stretching. Many children enjoy working out with their parents and this can become a family activity (we can all use the exercise) to promote coordination, healthy bones, joints, cholesterol and blood pressure. Most importantly make it fun! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Daily Dose

Q-tip Injuries

1:30 to read

I know I am asked on a regular basis, “how do I clean my baby’s/child’s ears?  I have replied for years with something that I know I was taught many years ago, maybe even by a grandparent? “Nothing smaller than your elbow should go in your ear”. Who knows where that saying came from but it is a good visual that you should not “stick a Q-tip” or anything into the ear canal.

 

Now an article published in the journal Pediatrics sure makes that adage seem timely, as about 12,500 children younger than 18 are treated in emergency rooms annually, which translates into about 34 children per day.  The study also showed that about two out of three patients were younger than 8 years and children younger than 3 accounted for 40 percent of all injuries. 

 

Cotton swabs are really intended to clean the outer ear and should not be placed into the ear canal…even though most people put a q-tip right into the canal which may cause injury when pushed too far.  The study showed that about 30 percent of injuries caused by the cotton swabs were feeling as if there was a foreign body in the ear, while 25 percent of injuries were a perforated ear drum and 23 percent were soft tissue injuries. WOW…talk about expensive health care costs related to one little cotton tipped swab!

 

Ear nose and throat doctors (otolaryngologists) will tell you that the ear canals are usually self cleaning and using a cotton tipped swab to clean the ear only pushes the wax further down the canal and closer to the ear drum. If in fact the wax becomes impacted by using a q-tip, it is even harder to get the wax out. There are over the counter drops that you can instill in the ear canal to help soften wax and then use a wash cloth to clean the outer ear.

 

So..resist the urge to put a Q-tip into your ear canal and simply use them to take off makeup, paint small places or any of the millions of other uses…just NOT in the ear!

 

 

 

 

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Your Child

Changes May Expand Kids Diagnosed With High Blood Pressure

2:00

An estimated 3.5 percent of children and teens in the U.S. have already been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure,) but that number will likely increase because of new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP).

"If there is diagnosis of hypertension, there are many ways we can treat it," Dr. David Kaelber, co-chair of the AAP Subcommittee on Screening and Management of High Blood Pressure in Children, which developed the report, said in a statement. "But because the symptoms are silent, the condition is often overlooked."

The new recommendations are an update to the guidelines released in 2004 by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The previous guidelines were based on blood pressure values for overweight or obese children, who are at a higher risk for hypertension, only. The new blood pressure tables are based on normal-weight children. Because of that change, the new blood pressure values are lower than they were before and allow for a more exact classification of blood pressure according to the patient's weight.

"Prevention and early detection are key," said Dr. Joseph Flynn, who co-chaired the subcommittee. "High blood pressure levels tend to carry into adulthood, raising the risks for cardiovascular disease and other problems. By catching the condition early, we are able to work with the family to manage it, whether that's through lifestyle changes, medication, or a combination of treatments.”

When high blood pressure is left untreated, it can have devastating effects on the body, including damage to the heart, kidneys, brain and eyes.

Because high blood pressure doesn’t present any symptoms, having your child’s blood pressure checked is the only way to know if it is higher than it should be.

Most physicians prefer not to start children on blood pressure lowering medications and will begin treatment by recommending life style changes. However, if those changes do not work or the child has diabetes, kidney disease or a family history of high blood pressure, medications may be started immediately.

Lifestyle changes, including improved diet and increased physical activity, should still be the first line of defense against obesity and high blood pressure, the guidelines recommend.

"These guidelines offer a renewed opportunity for pediatricians to identify and address this important – and often unrecognized – chronic disease in our patients," Kaelber said. "The easy part was developing the new guidelines. Now we begin the harder work of implementing them to help children and adolescents."

The report from the AAP calls on pediatricians to perform routine blood pressure checks at all annual visits. 

Story source: Ashley Welch, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-children-to-be-diagnosed-with-high-blood-pressure-under-new-guidelines/

Your Toddler

Uncut Grapes Can Choke Young Children

1:30

While good nutrition involves plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, there’s one fruit that should not be given to children 5 and under; grapes.

Uncut grapes are dangerous for young children because their size and smooth texture can cause choking and even death.

There have already been three choking cases in Scotland, out of which two turned out to be fatal, involving boys who were 5 or younger.

A report published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood notes that food is responsible for more than half of the choking incidents, which end in deaths when it comes to children under the age of 5.

"There is general awareness of the need to supervise young children when they are eating ... but knowledge of the dangers posed by grapes and other similar foods is not widespread," noted Dr. Jamie Cooper, co-author of the report, from the emergency department at Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital.

According to the same report, there is no awareness concerning the specific risks that soft fruits raise, and the relatively small numbers of cases per hospital, which occur every year, don't fully reflect the extent to which this issue can affect young children.

Kids that have choked on grapes don’t often make the news, but according to research conducted in the United States and Canada, grapes occupy third place when it comes to deaths caused by food-related incidents, after hotdogs and sweets.

There are two reasons why grapes are so dangerous, especially in very young children: first, because the airways of the children are small and their swallow reflex is not fully developed, and second due to the smooth texture of the fruit.

Other foods with similar texture can pose a choking hazard, such as tomatoes.  Health experts suggest that grapes and tomatoes be cut in half twice. Anytime a child (or an adult for that matter) is eating uncut grapes or small tomatoes they should pay attention to their eating and not mechanically pop them into their mouths – like when watching TV or playing video games.

Grapes and tomatoes are good sources of fiber and healthy nutrients, just make sure that your little one has his or hers’ cut up so they are not easily choked when eating them.

Story source: Livia Rusu, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/189851/20161224/grapes-as-a-choking-hazard-doctors-say-lack-of-awareness-puts-young-children-at-risk.htm

 

 

Daily Dose

Staying Healthy In College

1:30 to read

It is almost time for the newly graduated high school graduates to head off to college. Such an exciting time…a new school for the young adult and once less child living at home - lots of changes for the entire family.

 

As I am doing these last “off to college” visits I continue to discuss the new germs that a student will be exposed to and the numerous viral illnesses they may contract in the first year. College students live in such close proximity in the “tiny” dorm rooms and not only do they share a TV or clothes or food, they share their germs. 

 

It is not unusual for a college student to get a few colds, some tummy bugs and lots of “I just don’t feel well” moments. So…I think every college kid deserves a medical kit (mommy made) to prepare them for their first (of many) illnesses when they are away from home.

 

I made college medical kits for all of my boys..who shrugged their shoulders and put it under their bed…that is until they got sick. Suddenly, they also had friends wanting to come share their medical kit.

 

The “college kit” is really a compilation of over the counter products that your kids have probably been used to having in their home.  I also put the directions as to when and how to use each one…just in case they don’t read the package directions or just in case they like to know you have had written a note.

 

These are the products that they will need:

 

Thermometer

Acetaminophen

Ibuprofen

Antacid

Cough medicine

Antihistamine

Decongestant

Medication for constipation

Antidiarrheal 

Throat lozenges

Gatorade packets

Tea bags

Soup/broth packages

 

If they have all of these item in their “box” they are ready for most of the illnesses they will face. They need to be able to take their temperature, treat their fever wen they have a random virus,  have broth and gatorade for tummy bugs and throat lozenges and cough and cold remedies.  

 

Label everything and then tuck a sweet note from you that they will find one night when they are feeling “pitiful”..just to remind them that Mom is always nearby,

 

Lastly, I would insist that they get a flu vaccine!  Flu is a whole different story…and one they really don’t want. So remind them all Fall to head to the health center or anywhere that is offering flu vaccine and get vaccinated!  I would  even offer to “pay” for their roommates to get their flu vaccine too…which will also help your child stay healthy.

 

Your Teen

Teens and Contact Lenses

2:00

As kids with vision problems grow older, many choose to switch from wearing eyeglasses to contact lenses. Teenagers often prefer the no-glasses look and the convenience of not having to keep track of their glasses throughout the day. Contacts are a great alternative to glasses, but they do require attentive hygiene care and should be removed when swimming and sleeping or napping to help prevent eye infections.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows more than 85 percent of adolescent contact lens wearers report habits that increase eye infection risk.

The CDC report is the first to analyze wear and care habits of the roughly 3 million U.S. adolescents age 12 to 17 who wear contact lenses, the agency said.

"Contact lenses are a safe and effective way to correct your vision when they are worn and cared for as recommended," Dr. Jennifer Cope, medical epidemiologist in CDC's Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, said in a press release. "However, adolescents and adults can improve the way they take care of their contact lenses to reduce their risk of serious eye infections."

Researchers noted that the habits that put teens at highest risk for eye infections are sleeping with their contacts in, not being examined by an eye doctor once a year and swimming without removing their lenses first.

In addition, 52 percent of the teens didn’t replace their lenses as often as prescribed.

The most common eye infection from wearing contacts is keratitis, a contamination of the cornea - the clear outer covering of your eye. Sometimes they are called corneal ulcers. Viruses, bacteria, fungi, and a rare but serious eye parasite can cause keratitis.

The signs of an eye infection can include:

·      Redness

·      Swelling

·      Extra tears or sticky gooey drainage from your eye

·      Blurry vision

·      Light sensitivity

·      Itching, burning or feeling like there is something in your eye.

·      Eye pain

If your teen complains of any of these symptoms or you notice that your teenager seems to be having eye problems, get him or her to an eye doctor as soon as possible and make sure they don’t wear their contacts until they are examined.

Eye infections from poor contact lens hygiene habits can lead to serious problems, including blindness, the CDC warns.

Teens are often in a hurry and have a lot on their plates these days. It’s easy to get a little lax about going through the steps to make sure that their contacts are cleaned properly and when you’re really tired, you can simply forget to remove them before bed. You may have to occasionally remind your teen to do these things.

Of course, teens aren’t the only young age group that wears contacts. Kids as young as 10-12 years old can wear them, but experts recommended waiting until a child is 13-14 years old.

I can tell you from experience- once you’ve had an eye infection from not handling your contacts properly, you’ll remember the next time you wear them to make sure they are clean and to take them out when you go to sleep or swim. It’s an ugly and painful experience!

Story sources: Amy Wallace, https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/08/17/CDC-Adolescent-contact-lens-wearers-employ-bad-hygiene-habits/3651502994271/?utm_source=sec&utm_campaign=sl&utm_medium=5

http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/contact-lenses-eye-infections#1

Your Baby

Which Fish is Healthier for Pregnant Women?

1:45

New federal nutrition guidelines say that pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat 2 to 3 servings of fish every week. However, there are certain fish that should be eaten only once per week and other fish that should be avoided entirely by pregnant and nursing women.

One reason for the differentiation between certain types of fish is its likelihood of containing either very low or high levels of mercury.

Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. But some contain high levels.  A type of mercury called methylmercury is most easily accumulated in the body and is particularly dangerous.

Eating large amounts of these fish and shellfish can result in high levels of mercury in the human body. In a fetus or young child, this can damage the brain and nervous system.

The highest mercury concentration belongs to fish that typically live a long time. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid King mackerel, Marlin, Orange roughy, Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico and Bigeye Tuna. These are fish that usually contain high levels of mercury.

The new guidelines come with a handy chart that gives you the best choices of fish, good choices and fish to avoid.

Naturally, many pregnant women are concerned about eating fish after hearing about the possibility of consuming any mercury whatsoever. It’s important to remember that most of the fish consumed by Americans falls into the safe category.

Studies show that fish provide an array of nutrients that are important for your baby's early development. Most experts agree that the key nutrients are two omega-3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA – that are difficult to find in other foods. Fish is also low in saturated fat and high in protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients that are crucial for a developing baby and a healthy pregnancy.

How do fish end up consuming mercury? Some of the sources (such as volcanoes and forest fires) are natural. It's also released into the air by power plants, cement plants, and certain chemical and industrial manufacturers, landfills and farming runoff.

When mercury settles into water, bacteria convert it into a form called methylmercury. Fish absorb methylmercury from the water they swim in and the organisms they eat. Methylmercury binds tightly to the proteins in fish muscle and remains there even after the fish is cooked. Fish that live a long time consume more mercury.

There are many benefits to eating fish; you just need to be aware of the kinds of fish you eat. To help you make the best choices, the new chart released by the FDA and EPA is shown below.

Story sources: Megan Thielking, https://www.statnews.com/2017/01/19/fda-guidelines-fish/

http://www.babycenter.com/0_eating-fish-during-pregnancy-how-to-avoid-mercury-and-still_10319861.bc

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/UCM536321.pdf

Your Child

5 Fitness and Health APPS for Kids This Summer

2:00

Want to be more productive, creative, improve your gaming skills, write the next great best seller, explore new recipes or edit photos in your phone? There’s an app for that! If you can imagine it- there’s probably software designed for that very purpose.

There are numerous health apps out there, and many adults swear that they are getting and staying healthier by using them. But, what about apps dedicated to children’s health and fitness?

Here’s are five from the list of apps that have been reviewed and found a good fit for kids by commonsensemedia.org. The website provides a list of apps accompanied by reviews, appropriate age group, ease of play, violence, sex, consumerism and privacy & security ratings.

1.     Weight Loss for Kids and Teens by Kurbo Health - Age group -10 +

Weight Loss for Kids and Teens by Kurbo Health is a health app that helps kids age 8 to 18 track food choices, exercise minutes, and personal goals. The app and its related Kurbo coaching system are based on the Traffic Light Diet System developed at Stanford University. It categorizes food into green, yellow, and red choices to help kids learn to choose healthy options more often, without totally restricting any foods. There's also an exercise log, a goal-setting and weight-tracking tool, health-education games, and videos explaining each concept. Although the app is free, more personalized help is available through the Kurbo program's website, which includes live coaches. An Android version is scheduled for release soon.

2.     Zombies, Run! Age group – Age group 16-18

ZOMBIES, RUN! Runners become "Runner 5" in a post-apocalyptic community running from zombies and collecting supplies for survival. The story unfolds in episodes interspersed with the runner's own music playlist. Seasons one through three are included with the purchase, and additional episodes can be purchased in-app. Players can use the supplies they collect during their runs to build up their base and continue the fun after their runs.

3.     Stop, Breathe & Think – Age group 10 +

Stop, Breathe & Think is an app that encourages kids to learn the three skills in its title. Kids will stop and take stock of their thoughts and feelings; they'll breathe through guided meditations; and they'll think with increased kindness and compassion for the world around them. It's a great tool for developing positive habits of mind for kids and adults.

4.     LiVe – Age group 10+

LiVe is a fitness and nutrition app geared toward teens and tweens. Based on "8 Healthy Habits," the app encourages kids to set nutrition goals (such as eating a certain number of fruits and veggies and limiting sugary drinks), get more physical activity, eat meals with their families, and keep a positive attitude about food and body image. The easy, fun teen-centric graphics, solid (yet brief) information, and simple trackers give tweens and teens concrete ways to set these goals and track their progress.

5.     FitFu- Age group 13 +

FitFu is a combination of several other "Fu" fitness apps that teaches teens basic exercises, tracks their progress, and shares the information with friends. Because your device must move with your body, this app may encourage you to buy a strap or armband and is not intended for use on the iPad. There are 13 exercises included, such as lunges, pull-ups, and crunches. For each exercise, you hold or strap your device onto your body, and the accelerometer counts your reps. When finished, you can share your workouts with friends via email or Facebook or by connecting with friends who also have the app. Setting up a profile requires an email address or Facebook. You are not able to track exercises that are not included in the app. FitFu users must be 13 or older according to FitFu's terms of service.

The list above offers just a few of the apps parents can check out but there are other websites that also offer kid’s health apps and information.  Take a few moments and investigate and see what is out there; you may find some that fit your child better.

With school out and kids ready to enjoy the summer, parents can point them towards apps that can actually encourage moving, health and fitness in a fun and engaging way.

And of course, the kidsdr.com not only keeps you up on all the latest pediatric medical studies and news, but also provides in-depth discussions on kids health with pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard, videos, parenting q&a and safety recalls related to children’s products. You can also download the kidsdr app for quick and easy access to information - and it's free! 

Source: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/reviews/category/app/genre/health-fitness-65

http://www.kidsdr.com

 

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