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Your Teen

Headlines: Another Teen Suicide

On September 6, 2007, the Centers for Disease and Prevention reported suicide rates in American adolescents (especially girls, 10 to 24 years old) increased 8%, the largest increase in 15 years.The sad and desperate story of a college student who killed himself after a roommate secretly videotaped him having sex, and streamed it live on the web has made headlines across the world.

18 year old, Tyler Clementi, was embarrassed and humiliated by the invasion of his privacy. He jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Unfortunately, Tyler is not the only teen who thinks suicide is the only way to end his suffering. On September 6, 2007, the Centers for Disease and Prevention reported suicide rates in American adolescents (especially girls, 10 to 24 years old) increased 8%, the largest increase in 15 years. Amazingly, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. The current headlines demonstrate that it is more important than ever that parents are aware of the symptoms of depression and substance abuse.  Suicides increase substantially when the two are combined. What symptoms should I look for? - Change in eating and sleeping habits - Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities. - Violent, rebellious behavior, or running away - Drug and alcohol use. - Unusual neglect of personal appearance - Marked personality change - Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of     schoolwork - Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc. - Loss of interest in pleasurable activities. - Not tolerating praise or rewards. A teenager who is planning to commit suicide may also: - Complain of being a bad person or feeling rotten inside. - Give verbal hints with statements such as: “I won't be a problem for you much longer,”    “ Nothing matters,” “It's no use, and I won't see you again.” - Put his or her affairs in order, for example, give away favorite possessions, clean his or her room, throw away important belongings, etc. - Become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression - Have signs of psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts.) What should you do if you notice these symptoms in your child? If a child or adolescent says, "I want to kill myself," or "I'm going to commit suicide,"  always take the statement seriously and immediately seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional. People often feel uncomfortable talking about death. However, asking the child or adolescent whether he or she is depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Rather than putting thoughts in the child's head, such a question will provide assurance that somebody cares and will give the young person the chance to talk about problems. If one or more of these signs occurs, parents need to talk to their child about their concerns and seek professional help from a physician or a qualified mental health professional. With support from family and appropriate treatment, children and teenagers who are suicidal can heal and return to a healthier mental outlook.

Daily Dose

Teaching Your Child Independence

1.45 to read

I recently interviewed a professor at a major university about her research on "helicopter parenting". It was amazing to me to hear her discuss her findings on college campuses where parents continue to hover over their "almost" adult children by working on their papers, calling or visiting professors about grades, and even trying to register for classes for their kids. Oh my gosh!!

My chance to stay connected to my kids while in college has passed but I do remember when they did not return my phone call.  This study makes me think their professors would?  Our guest even discussed parents who work on their children's resumes for jobs, go on the interviews and I guess deposit their paychecks for them once they are employed? When does this all stop?

I think the one of the greatest lessons you can teach your children is independence and resilience. We have discussed this over and over on our radio show, online, through twitter , facebook and I discuss this frequently in my practice.

I am as guilty as any parent of wanting to stay close to my kids. I miss them a lot and wish they would call more often just to chat (why would they do that when they were not chatters even while living at home)? I have even been known to email them with the condition that their allowance would not be deposited that month if they did not pick up the phone rather than send me a text "school is great, remember it is first of the month".

To teach this independence you have to start young, and I mean when they are toddlers. You have to let them fall down; there is not a way to prevent every fall. You have to get rid of the bottle and teach them to use a cup, let them feed themselves even if it is messy and learn to put themselves to sleep at night. And that is just the beginning, but these are all things that parent's need to know. It is time to get back to the basics, including letting young adult children go to college classes alone. I am not about to write a college essay, I might not pass.

How do you teach your kids independence? Let me know and share with other parents!

Daily Dose

Parenting is Not a Competitve Sport!

1:30 to read

When did parenting become the latest competitive sport?  I have heard all sorts of new parents, even on their baby’s first day of life... start off by saying that their baby is “not....insert what their friend’s baby is already doing.” Does that mean not breathing as fast, or having a lower heart rate...I mean what is there to be competitive about in the first 24-48 hours?

It has always been hard to be a parent, and self doubt is one of the biggest issues a parent faces....but to start off feeling like you are already “failing’ is totally crazy.  There are so many feelings that a new parent experiences, without having competition even enter their minds.

Babies sleeping longer, crawling earlier, talking more...that only seems to be the beginning. Soon it is about who’s reading first, is on the more competitive soccer team at the age of 6, or even has the biggest birthday party. Unfortunately, all of this is shared on social media....which means that you are feeling “competitive” or inadequate with not only your closest group of friends but with hundreds if not thousands of people, and many of whom you don’t even know. It is just too much!

At the same time you are also getting comments about your parenting....which I think only compounds all of the emotions and worries and questions parents experience. Instead, why not rely on your own circle of friends, family and maybe a book or two on raising children.  

So....I would resist the urge to share every moment of your baby’s life and milestones with the social media world, or to compare your baby with total strangers....there will always be someone who does something earlier and faster....and that does not always mean better. 

Parenting is definitely a marathon...but not a competitive one. 

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Daily Dose

Santa & The Pediatrician

1:30 to read

Guess what?  I recently had the opportunity to talk with Santa Claus and I discovered that our “jobs” have many similarities.  He was telling me how much he liked this time of year as this is when he really had the time to sit down and talk with the children…often one on one, and many times not within their parents’ earshot, (parents too busy trying to get a cute picture, right?)  He pointed out that children of all ages come to see him, just like a pediatrician.  He too has the little ones who just cry hysterically throughout their time on Santa’s lap, to the school aged children who could happily sit there for hours,  and then the adolescents who may be “made” to sit on Santa’s lap once last year.  Sounds similar to my office.

The other thing that Santa and I had in common is all of the different topics that children feel comfortable discussing with us.  Santa said that not all of the girls and boys that sit on his lap just want to list the toys and gifts that they want for Christmas.  Many of the children have “other” issues that they want to open up about. Santa said that over the years children had confided in him about any number of issues, including parents marital problems, money problems, being homeless and even about abuse.  How is Santa supposed to deal with all of these difficult issues in a 2-3 min “scheduled” lap sitting appointment?  But, Santa did say that he feels the need to be a good listener and that sometimes he has even had to deal with an issue….after hours, once the kids had gone and he could make some calls to the appropriate people.

While I realized that Santa had a difficult job with long hours and lots of people wanting to see him, I did not realize that he had to have a lot of wisdom, empathy and a reassuring voice to let children know that he would not only “work” on getting the toys that they wanted, but that he was also there to help them with other needs.

Who knew that Santa and I would have such a kinship.  I am so happy to know that Santa has had a lot of practice over the years…and knows how to handle so many situations. 

So, when that line to sit on Santa’s lap is moving slowly,  just remember he might be in the middle of a delicate discussion that needs to be tended to before it is your child’s turn.  Santa will listen.  

Your Baby

Sing to Soothe Your Crying Baby


Have you ever reached the end of your patience trying to soothe a crying baby? Next time, switch to singing instead of talking. You may be surprised at the results.

Researchers at the University of Montreal in Canada, found that infants respond sooner and stop crying longer when listening to a song instead of speech.

The small study involved 30 healthy infants, aged between 6 and 9 months. The purpose of the research study was to investigate how the emotional self-control of the infants would be influenced when they are exposed to music or speech.   

The researchers maintained the objectivity of the study by not using any sounds that could have been recognized by the children.

For their study, researchers at the University of Montreal in Canada, played Turkish music and two types of speech -- ‘baby-talk' and regular adult-directed dialogue to the infants.

Researchers deliberately chose a language and music that would be unfamiliar to the babies.

Mothers were placed behind the children to avoid contact and the environment cleared of any other possible stimuli.

After playing both the music and regular speech to the children, researchers found that singing was twice as effective at calming distressed babies compared to exposure to regular dialogue: Babies remained calm for an average duration of nine minutes before breaking out in tears, while dialogue -- both the ‘baby-talk' and adult speech -- kept them calm for less than half that time.

The findings are significant, authors note, because Western mothers speak more to their babies, than sing.

"Our findings leave little doubt about the efficacy of singing nursery rhymes for maintaining infants' composure for extended periods," said study co-author Isabelle Peretz in a statement.

"These findings speak to the intrinsic importance of music, and of nursery rhymes in particular, which appeal to our desire for simplicity, and repetition."

Next time your baby is cranky, don’t be bashful; break out all the nursery rhymes you know and sing away. It may be the just the sound your baby wants to hear.

The study was published in 2015 in the journal Infancy.

Story source:



Your Baby

Preparing for Twins or Triplets


The number of U.S. parents expecting twins and triplets has reached an all-time high according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple births make up a small portion of births in general, but since 1980, multiples numbers have been on the rise.

The number of twins born in the U.S. has increased the most. Along with twice the cuteness comes twice the workload. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers parents of multiples some handy preparation tips:

Keep in mind that "multiples" are often born early and tend to be smaller than the average newborn. The AAP says parents may need to visit with their pediatrician more often than usual and reach out for help with feeding concerns or strategies.

And then there are the diapers- lots and lots of diapers! Go ahead and start purchasing your diapers ahead of time. The more you have stocked away before your little ones are born, the less worries you’ll have about running out when you need them most. Also, you’ll be able to gage about how many you’ll need when you start shopping again.

Having multiples also means fitting more safety seats into the car, more clothing, more food and possibly even a larger home! Check out how well your home is going to work for a larger family and plan accordingly.

One of the most important things for parents to consider is making sure that each child has their own identity. Multiples may share everything, but they are individuals and should be raised as such, the AAP advises. Identical twins, in particular, may seem like a duo, and parents might be tempted to give them the same things and the same amount of attention. But even genetically identical children have different personalities, thoughts and emotions. The AAP urges parents to acknowledge and support their differences to help them become happy and secure individuals.

If you have other children, remember they need special attention too. It’s easy to overlook the older kids when the new kids on the block are demanding so much attention.

As multiples grow, they may form exclusive bonds and may even communicate in a way only they can understand. Sometimes, they become unwilling to seek out other friendships. Giving multiples some time apart can help them develop friendships and ensure that other siblings aren't left out, the academy says.

And efforts to encourage multiples to spend time apart should start early to head off resistance. Most elementary schools place multiples in separate classes, the news release noted. Parents who are concerned about preventing separation anxiety can turn to their pediatrician for advice.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Multiples demand a lot of attention. If your budget allows, hire someone to clean the house a few days a week. Grandparents, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters may be willing to pitch in and give you some much needed down time or date time.  Don’t forget about your friends – while you may think it’s too much of an imposition, they may love being able to spend some quality time with your children – then turn them back over to you!

Take turns getting up at night for feedings and changings. Giving your spouse a few hours of uninterrupted sleep will do wonders for your relationship.

There’s a lot to prepare for when multiples are involved but the rewards are great. It may feel a little overwhelming at first, but eventually you will figure out a routine that works for everyone.

Story source: Mary Elizabeth Dallas,


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


1:00 to read

I was seeing a newborn the other day and the parents had a great idea. Their baby had spit up and they were concerned about how to clear his airway.  When we discussed how to hold the baby to clear the airway they had the great idea of having a CPR “teaching party” for a group of their friends who also had young babies!


I do encourage new parents (actually all parents and even grandparents) to take a CPR class. I am fortunate that we have yearly CPR class in our office which keeps us all up to date. 


It is fairly easy to find local CPR classes either through the YMCA, the American Heart Association and often through the hospital where you deliver your baby.  But, in these cases you have to take the class on “their schedule”. What a great idea to host a party with your friends and hire a certified CPR instructor to come to you!!


You know I do like to “isolate” my newborn patients from crowds (for 6-8 weeks), but it is fun to gather with other parents of newborns to get some social interaction. If everyone brought their baby, and a dish for dinner, it could be a mini dinner party followed by CPR training….ending with wine!


So…let’s start planning CPR parties, I may even do one for my friends who are becoming grandparents!




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