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Your Teen

Schools Start Too Early, Teens Sleep Deprived


It’s a battle that is picking up steam, whether to start school a little later so teenagers can get the sleep they need or keeping schedules as they are for the sake of planning before and after school activities.

Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that teenagers are biologically programmed to go to bed later than most adults and sleep later in the morning.

Last year, the AAP issued a set of guidelines recommending that school schedules are modified across the U.S. to start at 8.30 a.m. This way, children and teens would be able to meet the recommended sleep hours per night during school days.

Fewer than one in five middle and high schools in the United States start at 8:30 am or later, as recommended, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The same recommendations suggested that indeed, the biological rhythm of teenagers particularly is very different than that of adults. While they need 8 and a half to nine and a half hours of sleep per night, their circadian rhythm doesn’t allow them to go to sleep before midnight or a little after.

School nights are particularly difficult for adolescents because in order to get the rest they need, they have to go to bed earlier than their minds and bodies are set to fall asleep.

The CDC released a new study supporting the recommendations of the AAP. According to the findings, 83 percent of U.S. schools still start before 8:30 a.m. On average, the starting time was calculated at 8:03 a.m., based on data collected from 39,700 combined schools, middle schools, and high schools between 2011-2012.

Depriving teens of that sleep could wreak havoc on their academic performance, the CDC said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"Getting enough sleep is important for students' health, safety, and academic performance," said Anne Wheaton, lead author and epidemiologist in CDC's Division of Population Health.

"Early school start times, however, are preventing many adolescents from getting the sleep they need."

The issue is driving a heated debate between supporters of later school start times and school administrators.

Safwan Badr, former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine stated:

“It makes absolutely no sense. You’re asking kids to learn math at a time their brains are not even awake”.

On the other hand, Daniel Domenech, the executive director of the School Superintendents Association stated with regards to changing school starting time:

“It’s a logistical nightmare. This has been going on forever, and kids have been graduation from school and going to college. It certainly doesn’t seem to have hurt them all these years”.

Some experts note that the long-term consequence of sleep deprivation is hurting our teens and has been for quite some time.

Judith Owens, the director of sleep medicine at Boston’s Children Hospital suggests that chronically sleep deprivation characterizes the majority of today’s teens. This results in increased risk of onset depression, substance abuse, unhealthy BMIs. Long-term effects of sleep deprivation result in type 2 diabetes or heart diseases.

There are things that parents can do to help their teens at least rest better if they can’t fall asleep earlier. The first and foremost agitator for sleep is viewing or being on a computer or smartphone right before bed.

Recent studies have shown that the use of any electronic device in the hour before bedtime was associated with an increased risk of taking longer than 60 minutes to fall asleep. In particular, the use of a computer, smartphone or MP3 player in the hour before bedtime was strongly linked with taking longer to fall asleep.

Make your teen’s bedroom a quiet place that can be a retreat at night from busy schedules and social media.

Your teen can take a hot bath or shower before bed to boost deep sleep. Then keep his or her room cool (about 68 F) to cool down the body. One study showed that sleep happens when the body cools. Wakefulness occurs when the body temperature warms up.

Aromatherapy helps some people fall off to sleep. Certain scents are shown to be relaxing such as orange blossom, marjoram, chamomile, and lavender. You can apply these oils before bed or put them on pillows, sheets or in potpourri. If candles are used, make sure they are put out before getting in bed. 

Having a regular schedule can help the body adjust. Going to bed at the same time each night can assist in adjusting the body’s circadian rhythm.  

More high schools are considering changing their schedules to a later start time, but currently most schools are keeping with the typical earlier schedules. You may not be able to convince the school board to start school at little later, but you can help your teen find what works for them at night to help them get the amount of sleep they need to function at their best.

Sources: Bonnie Gleason,




Your Child

Positioning an Unconscious Child


Children that have lost consciousness and are placed on their sides have lower odds of needing to stay in the hospital, according to a new European study.

"This is just a simple part of the first aid and resuscitation techniques that anyone can be taught," said Dr. Elizabeth Murray, who was not involved with the new study but is an expert in pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Rochester Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital in New York.

The “recovery” position has the patient on their side, with the mouth facing downward to allow any fluid to drain. The researchers say this position should be used on unconscious children who are breathing normally with already cleared airways.

The researchers looked at data on 553 infants and children up to age 18 who were brought to 11 pediatric emergency rooms across Europe for loss of consciousness in 2014.

As reported in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, the average age was about three years. The average time spent unconscious was about two minutes, although about a third of the group had lost consciousness for more than 20 minutes.

About one in five patients had an existing condition like epilepsy. And about half of the patients had previously lost consciousness.

About 26 percent of parents had put their children into the recovery position, with about 70 percent of those parents reporting they'd learned that technique from doctors or first aid classes.

Those who were put into the recovery position were ultimately 72 percent less likely to be admitted to the hospital than those who weren't put in the position.

More than half of the parents had tried other potentially dangerous techniques to bring their child out of an unconscious state, such as shaking or slapping them.

Those parents said they had learned those techniques from other family members or from media outlets such as TV shows or the movies.

"You can understand why a family member would do anything to make it stop," said Murray. "Just like fever or other medical conditions, there are remedies or potentially folklore that can be passed down."

Kids whose parents used a potentially dangerous technique to try to restore consciousness had twice the odds of being admitted to the hospital, according to the researchers, who were led by Dr. Sebastien Julliand of Paris Diderot University in France.

Murray told Reuters Health that parents who don’t know what to do in this kind of situation, should call 911 and speak to an emergency operator. "It’s really important to remember that the majority of dispatchers in our 911 system can give advice over the phone," she said.

Source: Andrew M. Seaman,


Your Teen

Why Do Teens Use E-Cigarettes?


Why do teenagers give e-cigarettes a try? Because these products are easy to obtain, not terribly expensive, come in lots of different flavors and their friends use them. All very adolescent associated reasons.

If they continue using e-cigarettes, it’s because of the low cost and the promise that they can help them quit smoking regular cigarettes, according to senior researcher Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin. She is a professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

Teens who initially tried e-cigarettes because of their low cost had significantly stepped up their use of e-cigarettes by the time researchers checked in six months later.

In addition, teens who tried e-cigarettes to quit smoking were more than 14 times more likely to keep using e-cigarettes than those who did not consider this a reason to try the devices, the findings showed.

Unfortunately, researchers found that e-cigarettes did not help the kids quit smoking. Four out of five teens that were smokers, were still smoking regular cigarettes six months later even though they were using e-cigarettes to quit, the investigators found.

E-cigarettes don't produce tobacco smoke, but they do contain nicotine. And researchers fear they'll create a new generation of smokers, with kids hooked on nicotine turning to tobacco for a stronger fix, Krishnan-Sarin said.

"That is the huge public health debate," she said. "Are kids going to start with e-cigarettes and then move on to cigarettes? Is that going to be the start of nicotine addiction?”

As part of the study, Krishnan-Sarin and her colleagues’ surveyed 340 e-cigarette users in two middle schools and three high schools in 2013, asking them why they first tried e-cigarettes.

Most cited reasons for first trying e-cigarettes as curiosity (57 percent), good flavors (42 percent), use by friends (33 percent), healthier than cigarettes (26 percent), can be used anywhere (21 percent) and does not smell bad (21 percent).

Six months later, researchers checked in with the teens and asked if they were still vaping and if so, why. They then compared the answers to the teens’ reasons for continued use with their previous reasons for starting e-cigarettes.

Kids who cited the low cost of e-cigarettes or their potential help to quit smoking wound up vaping more days on average than those who cited other reasons, the study authors said.

Teens who cited low cost, used e-cigarettes two out of every three days during the previous month, and those who wanted to quit smoking wound up vaping nearly that often, according to the study results.

Other reasons also predicted continued use of e-cigarettes: they don't smell bad; they come in good flavors; friends use them; they can be used anywhere; they can be hidden from adults; and they are healthier than tobacco.

But for kids who kept using e-cigarettes, "the most robust predictors were the low cost and trying e-cigarettes to quit smoking," said lead researcher Krysten Bold, a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

Krishnan-Sarin said these findings reveal several different means by which policymakers could make e-cigarettes less attractive to teenagers.

Earlier this year, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced new regulations for e-cigarettes. Anyone under 18 years of age cannot purchase them and they must show a photo I.D. if they appear to be younger than 27. Retailers cannot give out samples and cannot sell them in vending machines unless the machines are in adult-only facilities. These new rules went into effect August 8th.

The Food and Drug Administration will have to approve all e-cigarette products that have been available since February 2007. That means nearly every e-cigarette product on the market must go through an application process to deem whether it can continue to be sold.

However, the FDA did not address the issue of different flavors.

Federal officials also could ban the use of flavors in e-cigarettes, as has already been done in traditional cigarettes except for menthol, said Dr. Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association.

"Despite recommendations from the American Lung Association and others, the final rule did not ban flavorings as they have in ordinary cigarettes," Edelman said. "We continue to believe all the measures that have been applied against ordinary cigarettes should be applied to e-cigarettes."

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

Story sources: Dennis Thompson,

Aamer Madhini,

Daily Dose

Exercise Can Maintain Heart Health

1.30 to read

Moms and have an exercise plan but what about your kids? Your child's heart health is important too! Heart health is based on genetics, diet and lastly exercise. (For adults and my teen patients as well, need to add smoking and drinking to the discussion).  

While I start talking about healthy eating during infancy the discussion about exercise comes a bit later.  If you have a toddler you know they “exercise”.....all day long, and never stop except to sleep! But as our children get older, once again it is up to the parents to model behavior, including exercise. 

I regularly ask, “how much time does your child play outside?” (I know it is much harder in winter months), “what does your child do for exercise outside of school?” and “do you exercise as a family?’”.  Once a child is older, say 5 or so, I include them in the questioning as well as they are a wealth of information. I ask them “if they ride a bike”....they love to tell me about taking off their training wheels. Then I ask “who they ride with and where do they go?”.  I also ask about bike helmets, you would be amazed at how many children tell me that they wear a helmet, but their parents don’t! (HINT HINT to parents). 

I find that most children under the age of 10 or so do get a fair amount of exercise, but as they get older many have stopped playing sports outside of school and have chosen to spend more time being sedentary.  They are not just watching TV, but have found other interests like music, art, drama, chess and even computer programming.  All of that is great, but children still need exercise and many schools have cut PE programs especially once you get to middle school and high school. This means that parents once again may have to encourage exercise, for the whole family. Walking the dog, family bike rides, tennis matches, front yard kickball or badminton.  Get the family exercising together....they may not even realize. 

The hardest group I have to encourage to exercise are my teens who are just not athletes (I can sympathize).  We all have our talents, but for some sports are not it.  I find myself asking my teenage patients, how much exercise they get and so many say, “None”.  Many say, “walking between classes” is all of their exercise, and the idea of walking to school is long gone for most.  Many of my teens start to gain weight after puberty and have to be reminded that we all stop you can’t keep gaining weight. Exercise has to be done on a regular basis...again it is about lifestyle. 

So, heart health and exercise should be a focus for families year round, see if you can get your family moving as we head into spring!

Your Child

Bullied Kids at Risk for Health problems as Adults


Being teased or humiliated by fellow classmates in school was once just a part of growing up for many kids. No one took it very seriously and children were basically told to either deal with it or physically fight back.

That began to change when bullying tactics changed from one-on-one painful snubs or pushing in the hallways to shaming and hateful social media taunts. All of a sudden everyone was in on the game and there was no where to hide or seek refuge from the never-ending onslaught of mean spirited and sometimes violent threats to a child’s very existence.

Bullying had reached a new stage of hurtfulness and too often the coping mechanism from children who were bullied was and still is suicide. Schools, parents and peers began to take notice and implement strategies to stop the bullying – at least in public environments.

Some of these strategies have been very effective and kids, as well as parents, are much more aware of the dangers that can come from bullying. However, there is always someone who thinks that they have a right to humiliate someone else. While it is more a reflection of the insecurity and abnormal personality of the person doing the bullying, the recipient still feels the pain and harbors the emotional damage to their self-value.

A new study looks at the possible future health hazards for children who have been bullied. Their findings reveal that adults who were bullied in childhood may be at an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

"Our research has already shown a link between childhood bullying and risk of mental health disorders in children, adolescents and adults, but this study is the first to widen the spectrum of adverse outcomes to include risks for cardiovascular disease at mid-life," said senior study author Louise Arseneault. She is a professor from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London.

"Evidently, being bullied in childhood does get under your skin," she said in a college news release.

The long-term study involved analyzed data from more than 7,100 people.  Participants in the study included all the children from England, Scotland and Wales that were born during one week in 1958. Their parents provided information on whether the participants were bullied at ages 7 and 11.

By age 45, more than one-quarter of women who were occasionally or frequently bullied during childhood were obese, compared to 19 percent of those who never experienced bullying, the study found. Both men and women who were bullied during childhood were more likely to be overweight.

Compared to those who weren't bullied, men and women who were bullied had higher levels of blood inflammation, putting them at increased risk for heart attack and age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, according to the researchers.

Like most studies, results didn’t show an actual cause and effect relationship, only an association or link between being bullied and future health risks.

"Bullying is a part of growing up for many children from all social groups," Arseneault said. "While many important school programs focus on preventing bullying behaviors, we tend to neglect the victims and their suffering. Our study implies that early interventions in support of the bullied children could not only limit psychological distress but also reduce physical health problems in adulthood."

Andrea Danese, a study co-author, pointed out that obesity and high blood inflammation can lead to potentially life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Taking steps to prevent these conditions is important, Danese said in the news release.

"The effects of being bullied in childhood on the risk for developing poor health later in life are relatively small compared to other factors," Danese added. "However, because obesity and bullying are quite common these days, tackling these effects may have a real impact."

Counseling coupled with family support for children who have been or are being bullied can offer tremendous value to helping a child disconnect with the hurtful words and actions of others. No one likes to be made fun of or taunted for some slight “imperfection”, but those kinds of things can linger in the mind and wear on one’s self-value. The sooner they are dealt with and put in their true perspective, the quicker one can let them go.

The study was published May 20 in the journal Psychological Medicine.

Source: Robert Preidt,

Your Teen

Lithium Safe for Children, Teens with Bipolar Disorder


A new multicenter study says that lithium, a drug typically given only to adults, is safe and effective for children and adolescents who have bipolar disorder.

The study, led by a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and published Oct. 12 in Pediatrics, affirms what clinicians who prescribe this drug have observed for years and suggests that doctors can now more confidently add lithium to the available treatments for this vulnerable population -- at least in the short term, the authors say.

Lithium is one of the oldest drugs for bipolar disorder, a chronic brain condition marked by spontaneous, seesawing bouts of abnormally high moods and depression. The drug's ability to stabilize mood extremes has been well established in adults.

The researchers point out that historically, children and women of childbearing age have generally been excluded from many clinical trials out of an abundance of caution. Some believe that while the intentions may have been good, being excluded in clinical studies may actually harm this population- leaving them without access to more effective treatments.

"Lithium is the grandfather of all treatments for bipolar disorder, but it has never been rigorously studied in children," says Robert Findling, M.D., M.B.A., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Findling initiated the work while director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Though medications used to treat schizophrenia and other psychoses are prescribed to treat bipolar disorder in children, Findling says, those drugs have been linked to substantial weight gain, a considerable medical and social drawback for young people that causes many to stop taking them.

Results from the study showed that the patients on lithium experienced far more significant improvement in their symptoms over eight weeks compared with those on the placebo. Some 47 percent of those on lithium scored in the range of "very much improved" or "much improved" on the Clinical Global Impressions Scale, a rating system commonly used to assess the efficacy of treatments in patients with mental disorders, compared to 21 percent of those on the placebo.

Unlike antipsychotic agents, such as risperidone or olanzapine, lithium treatment was not associated with significant weight gain, and none of the patients experienced serious side effects due to the lithium treatment.

Findling says the findings provide a scientific and reliable confirmation of lithium's efficacy and safety for children in the short term, offering evidence that doctors can use when deciding what medication to prescribe their pediatric patients with bipolar disorder. Further analyses are currently in progress to examine the long-term implications of lithium use, he adds. Areas of particular focus include evaluation of any potential side effects, such as weight gain, reduced kidney function or diminished thyroid function -- all important considerations, as those with bipolar disorder may need a lifetime of medication and behavioral therapies.

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 1 percent of teens and is the leading cause of disability in adolescence.

Source: Adapted Media Release,


Your Baby

Does Your Unborn Baby Hear You?

2.00 to read

More than twenty years ago I remember reading that fetuses can learn to recognize their mothers and father’s voices and then respond to those voices as newborns. I thought… well maybe… but it seemed to me that voices from outside of the womb would sound muffled from inside. Of course, I don’t remember my in utero experience so I don’t really know how words sound.

Over the years though, scientists have continued to examine how and what babies learn before they are born.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland have determined that fetuses not only hear and recognize voices but they can become familiar with different words and different pitches used when saying those words.

The study involved 33 moms-to-be, and examined their babies after birth. While pregnant, 17 mothers listened at a loud volume to a CD with (2), four-minute sequences of the made-up words “tatata” or “tatota.” The words were said with several different pitches. The moms-to-be listened to the recordings beginning at 29 weeks of pregnancy -about 7 months along- until birth. They heard them around 50 to 71 times.

Following birth, researchers tested the babies for normal hearing and then performed an electroencephalograph (EEG) brain scan to see if the newborns would respond to the made-up words and different pitches. And sure enough, the brain scans showed increased activity from the babies who had been listening to the CD in utero when the words were played to them after birth. Not only did they respond to the words, but also seemed to recognize the different pitches used when they heard them.  

The babies born to the mothers who had not listened to the CDs while pregnant showed little reaction to the words or pitches.

 “We have known that fetuses can learn certain sounds from their environment during pregnancy,” Eino Partanen, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper, said via email.

“We can now very easily assess the effects of fetal learning on a very detailed level—like in our study, [we] look at the learning effects to very small changes in the middle of a word.”

Some experts believe the finding shows that not only can a third-trimester fetus hear and recognize voices; he or she can also detect subtle changes and process complex information.

“Interestingly, this prenatal exposure also helped the newborns to detect changes which they were not exposed to: the infants who have received additional prenatal stimulation could also detect loudness changes in pseudo words but the unexposed infants could not,” Partanen says.

“However, both groups did have responses to vowel changes (which are very common in Finnish, and which newborns have been many time previously been shown to be capable of).”

You may be wondering why is it even important that scientists know if fetuses can recognize voices or words.  Partanen says because sounds heard in utero may shape the developing human brain in ways that affect speech and language development after birth.

“The better we know how the fetus’ brain works, the more we’ll know about early development of language,” Partanen says. “If we know better how language develops very early, we may one day be able to develop very early interventions [for babies with abnormal development].” 

An abstract for the Finnish study is published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website.

Does talking and singing to your baby before it’s born actually stimulate his or her brain activity and increase language learning? Some experts say definitely yes, others say it has no impact. But really, most moms and dads enjoy baby bump bonding whether it’s productive or not. And who knows, maybe your pre-born hears you loud and clear. 

Source: Meghan Holohan,

Your Child

Sleep: New Recommendations for Different Ages


We all know how important a good night’s sleep is to being able to function well the next day. But how much sleep is really enough? How much we prefer is a personal choice, but how much we really need is now more concrete. 

After web analytics showed the vast popularity of the category, How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? on the National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) website, a panel of experts set about to reassure that the information provided there was the most accurate and up to date.

"Sleep duration was basically one of the most visited pages on the NSF website, and it wasn't really clear how those recommendations for the ranges had been arrived at," Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D., chair of the National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council, told The Huffington Post.

The National Sleep Foundation decided to look at its recommendations and see if they should make any adjustments. After analyzing more recent literature on the subject, they came to the conclusion that an updating was due.

The panel of six sleep-experts and 12 medical experts conducted a formal literature review. The panel focused on the body of research surrounding sleep duration in healthy human subjects that had been published in peer-reviewed journals between 2004 and 2014. From the 312 articles reviewed, the experts were able to fine-tune existing sleep duration recommendations as detailed below:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours (range narrowed from 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (range widened from 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (range widened from 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours (range widened from 11-13)
  • School-Age Children (6-13): 9-11 hours (range widened from 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours (range widened from 8.5-9.5)
  • Young Adults (18-25): 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours (no change)
  • Older Adults (65+): 7-8 hours (new age category)

“This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety,” Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation, said in a statement.

During sleep, your brain and body recharge. Lack of sleep can have short-term and long-term effects. Studies have shown that children and teens that do not get enough sleep have trouble concentrating in school, are more prone to drinking and drug use and are more likely to have behavioral issues. They are also more likely to suffer from depression.

Too little sleep can also affect growth and your child’s immune system – making it harder to fight off an illness.

For adults, if you’re able to function well on the amount of sleep you typically get, then that’s probably the right amount for you. However, for children, the NSF’s recommendations are a good resource for making sure your kids are getting enough sleep. If you find that your child is getting the recommended amount of sleep but is still groggy or lacks energy or focus during the day, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor to see if there may be something else that is causing these symptoms.

Sources: Sarah Klein,

Your Child

Make It a Safe Summer!


Summer is a time when lots of family create life-long memories. Vacations offer a chance for everyone to get away from the daily grind and explore someplace new. Some families choose to spend the summer closer to home with a “staycation.” You can still relax, have fun and spend time together without the added expense of travel.

One experience a family doesn’t want to have is when someone is injured or worse or falls ill during the summer break. To help make summer is a little safer remember these common sense safety tips.

Water Safety: Probably the number one danger to children in the summer is drowning.

·      Make sure your child learns how to swim.

·      Never leave your child unattended around water. We know it sounds strict, but there is no room for compromise on this one. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.

·      Drowning is silent. Always watch your child when they are in a pool, lake, ocean or pond.

·      Have a flotation device nearby to toss into the water for a child to grab if they are tired or in danger.

·      If you cannot swim, make sure that there is an adult who can swim with you when your children are in the water.

·      Put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to do and give young children 100 percent of your attention when they are near or around water.

·      Keep pool areas fenced and locked when no one is in the pool.

·      Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.

·      Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. It’s also a good idea to keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed. 

·      Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.

Hot Cars: Another danger for small children is hot cars. When a child dies or is injured in a hot car, it’s one of the most preventable tragedies. Parents and caregivers can forget they have a small child in the back seat of a car, or they can leave them in the car not realizing how fast the temperature will rise in a very short time. Occasionally, a child will enter a parked car and accidently lock themselves in. 

·      Always look before you lock your car.

•       Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.

•       Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Put something you’ll need in the back seat- like a briefcase or purse.

•       If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.

•       Never leave a child unattended in a car. Opening windows will not prevent heatstroke. Heatstroke can happen on cloudy days and when the temperature outside is below 70 degrees.

•       If your traveling with several children, do a head count – see each child- before locking or leaving the car.

•       If your child is missing, check your car first thing.

If you see an unattended child alone in a car, take action!. Don’t wait more than a couple of minutes for the driver to return. If you see a child is unresponsive or in distress; call 911. Get the child out of the car then spray the him or her with cool water (not an ice bath). If the child is responsive, stay with them until help arrives. Send someone else to find the driver.

Food Safety: Who doesn’t love a good picnic or grilled meal? However, food borne illnesses are not something you’ll enjoy.

•       Keep cold foods cold.

•       Don’t keep any foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours -- or 1 hour if it’s warmer than 90 degrees.

•       Don’t reuse platters that have held raw meat until you wash them thoroughly.

•       Keep your grill away from buildings and branches.

•       Don’t let grease build up.

•       Never leave your grill unattended.

•       Keep kids and pets away.

•       Does yours use propane? Test for leaks before the season starts. If you ever smell gas while you’re cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department.

Bug Bites: Summer brings bugs, ticks, bees, mosquitoes, fire ants, chiggers, spiders and other pests.

Mosquitoes are more than a bother. They can spread West Nile virus. Most people who get the virus have no symptoms at all. But very serious and sometimes fatal illness can happen in less than 1% of those infected.

The only way to avoid West Nile is to avoid mosquito bites. Wear mosquito repellent and, if weather permits, long pants and long sleeves outside from dusk to dawn.

At home, get rid of standing water in birdbaths, buckets, and tire swings. They’re breeding grounds for mosquitos.

A bite from a tick is not usually a big deal, but the wrong type of tick can cause real problems. Ticks can cause diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection that occurs mostly in the South Atlantic region in the U.S. If the family is trekking in wooded areas. Make sure that everyone is: 

•       Wearing light-colored long pants, so it’s easier to spot ticks.

•       Tucks their pants into socks or high-top boots or tape them to boots.

•       Wearing a hat and long-sleeved shirt, tucked in.

•       Sprays or rubs insect repellent on the tops of boots, exposed area of socks, and pants openings (inside cuffs, waistband, and fly).

•       Using insect repellant with DEET on your exposed skin.  For children, choose a repellent with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET. If your pets go outside, check them regularly for ticks so they don't bring them in the house.

Fire ants have a painful bite and some children are allergic to them. Check your yard for fire ant mounds and if you find any, have them removed professionally.

If you’ve ever had chigger bites, you know how miserable they are. Keep your grass cut short and use bug repellent. Shoes and socks also offer some protection.

During bug season, a good repellent is going to be your best bet to protect your child and yourself from many of these pesky critters.

Shark Attacks: If you’re headed to the ocean, sunburn is more likely to be a problem for your child than a shark bite, however, this year is quickly on the way to setting a record for shark attacks. Here are some ways to lessen the risks.

•       Avoid being in the water at twilight, when sharks are most active.

•       Don’t go in the water if you’re bleeding.

•       Don’t wear shiny jewelry when you swim. It could look like fish scales to a shark.

•       Know that sharks are sometimes near the shore. Sandbars can trap them close to the beach at low tide.

•       Skip swimming after heavy rains, which may move some freshwater fish, including sharks, into areas they would not otherwise frequent.

Sunburn: Summertime can mean sunburn time as well. Not only are they painful; but sunburns can do more damage to the skin long after it has healed. Children are more prone to sunburn because of their delicate skin.

Try to keep your child out of the sun when the peak ultraviolet rays occur (between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.).

In addition, follow these guidelines:

•       Always use a sunscreen to block the damaging ultraviolet rays. Choose a sunscreen made for children with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. (Check the label.) Apply the protection 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Keep in mind that no sunscreens are truly waterproof, and thus they need to be reapplied every one and a half to two hours, particularly if your child spends a lot of time in the water. Consult the instructions on the bottle. 

•       Dress your child in lightweight cotton clothing with long sleeves and long pants. 

•       Use a beach umbrella or similar object to keep her in the shade as much as possible. 

•       Have her wear a hat with a wide brim. 

•       Babies under six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. If adequate clothing and shade are not available, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands.

Heat Exhaustion: Too much heat can make you or your child very sick. Take special care with children and the elderly, because their bodies don’t cool as well. Kids are particularly at risk for heat cramps when they aren't drinking enough fluids.

Although painful, heat cramps on their own aren't serious. Cramps can be the first sign of more serious heat illness, so they should be treated right away to help avoid any problems.

Don’t let your child play outside during the hottest part of the day. Make sure they have plenty of fluids and a cool place to rest. If you suspect your child is suffering from heat exhaustion, call 911. Symptoms can include:

•       Increased thirst

•       Weakness

•       Fainting

•       Muscle cramps

•       Nausea and/or vomiting

•       Irritability

•       Headache

•       Increase sweating

•       Cool, clammy skin

•       Elevation of body temperature, but less than 104°F (40°C)

Protect Your Feet!

One minute you’re strolling barefoot. The next, you’re in pain. Puncture wounds happen more often in summer, when bare feet meet nails, glass, toothpicks, and seashells. 

The biggest problem is infection. Heat, swelling, and drainage are signs that need quick medical attention. You may also need to update your tetanus shot. 

These are just a few tips to help prevent some serious summertime injuries. Sometimes the problems are just an annoyance, other times they can be fatal. Summer is about fun and family time together. Just use common sense and follow these simple rules for a safer summer.




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