Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Parenting

Back-to-School Jitters

2:00

Where did the summer go? Some children will be headed back to school in less than a week and others within the next couple of weeks. It’s not uncommon for kids to be a little anxious as the big day draws near. Your child may be feeling a lot of emotions right now, ranging from high anxiety to  “I can’t wait.” That's understandable. Think back on how you felt when you started a new job or were moving to a new part of the country, it’s quite similar but without the benefit of life experience to help you process the changes.

Besides the unknown of a new school year, there’s the challenge of getting back into an early morning routine and the addition of after-school activities to everyone’s schedule. It’s a hectic time but with a lot of patience and a little smart planning, it can go smoother than you might think.

If your child’s school offers an orientation or back–to-school night, one way to help ease your little one’s fear is to take them and let them see the school, meet their teachers and say hello to some fellow students before classes begin. A familiar face or two can help make the transition go a little smoother during that first week of school.

If your child is able to meet his or her teachers, give them time to talk and get to know each other, if only briefly. Let your child answer any questions the teachers have instead of answering for them. You might even help your child come up with a few questions they can ask the teacher.

You could check with the teacher and see if he or she would mind having a picture taken with your child. As school day approaches, you can show it to your child talk about meeting their teacher. A little thing like that can help your child develop a familiar feeling for the teacher before school starts.

Since it’s always a good idea to read to your youngster, choose books with a back-to-school theme. There are lots of children’s books that tell meaningful stories about kids facing the challenges of moving to a new school, the first year of school, making new friends and lots of other possible scenarios in story form.

Get organized! Easier said than done, I know. If you’re organized and ready for school it not only relieves some of the pressure on you, but for your children too. Chaos or uncertainty about where to go and what to do adds fuel to a child’s concerns about whether everything is going to be OK or not. 

Let your child help create a study area in the home. Being involved in at least some of the decisions can help make this a personal adventure that they have some say in.

All kids need enough sleep and getting into a good sleep routine can help ease them into the changes school is going to require. As you already know from experience, a tired child is more likely to feel overwhelmed, nervous and cranky.  If you haven’t already, start the new bedtime routine now so that you don’t have the arguments and resistance during the first days of school when everyone is trying to find their footing.

The main thing to remember is that your child, whether it’s their first day to attend, or their last year of school, is going to feel a little jittery. Reassure him or her that everything is going to be fine. The new schedule, classmates, studies and activities will be familiar sooner than they think. Let them know that you understand how the unknown can be a little scary, but that this is also a time when good things can happen as they explore all their new opportunities. 

 

Daily Dose

Back to School Vaccines

1:30 to read

August is here and that means back to school across the country. When I think of kids heading back to school I also think about their immunization history.  I want to make sure that everyone is up to date on their vaccines, because what better place to be exposed to disease and germs than in a school full of children!

 

Vaccines continue to save lives…and vaccines are one of the greatest medical achievements in history. But, despite the continued data on the safety and efficacy of vaccines there are those who prefer to “ignore” the data and either “decline to vaccinate” their children or want to vaccinate with an “alternative vaccine schedule”.  

 

Most recently, I was a guest in a Facebook Live segment discussing back to school vaccines and I was amazed at some of the comments that were posted after the segment. It seems that there are many people who are reading “fake news” to make decisions about vaccines and their children and they are a vocal group. 

 

There are also those who will continue to believe discredited physicians who wrote “fake” articles which have been retracted and resulted in a doctor having his license taken away. But,  this one “former doctor” has caused so much parental anxiety that I find myself discussing the safety of the MMR vaccine on a regular basis. I am always ready to discuss vaccines, their safety and efficacy with my patients, but I also rely on science and data and not anecdote to make a point.

 

Vaccine preventable diseases are just that….preventable but not eradicated!  This means that although the latest generation of parents may have never had the disease or even seen the disease, these diseases are still present.  Measles, meningitis, polio, mumps are still circulating around the world and may “drop in “ to visit our country at any time. This is evident in the recent measles outbreak in an unvaccinated population in Wisconsin and prior to that a measles outbreak in CA several years ago.  We currently have mumps in Texas and are on the look out for more cases.

 

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) publishes the immunization schedules based on a plethora of science and input by some of the smartest minds in immunology, microbiology, infectious disease and medicine.  The vaccines that are recommended are given in a certain order and at certain intervals because they have been well studied to show that this is how the vaccines “work” and protect.  It is not arbitrary as some parents seem to think and want to do a “cafeteria plan” of vaccines when they “want” to give them. That really makes no sense…how do you know that your “plan” actually protects your child?  In my own experience this also leads to a lot of confusion in what has or has not been given and in some cases missed vaccines due to the wrong intervals between vaccines or age limits for vaccines.

 

Lastly, when parents “choose” not to vaccinate their child they are not only putting their own child at risk (they tell me it is a personal choice), but they are also putting others around them at risk of getting sick from a vaccine preventable disease. Does that seem fair??  Should we all immunize our own children so that their unvaccinated children are protected?  The word “selfish” comes to mind…as I am now immunizing my own grandchildren and don’t want them “hanging out” with un-immunized children.

I am happy to point anyone to online science and websites with reliable information on vaccines. Just let me know….

Play
210 views in 1 week

Teens & Substance Use

Your Teen

Most Parents Don’t Know Their Teen’s Vaccination Status

1:45

Most parents believe that they are on top of their kids’ immunizations, but that may not be true, especially where their teen is concerned.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that adolescents are not getting all their recommended vaccinations, however, more than 90% of parents believe that their teenager had received all vaccinations necessary for their age, according to a C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll.

“In the United States, vaccines have long been recommended for babies and at kindergarten entry; more recently, several vaccines have been recommended for the adolescent age group,” Sarah J. Clark, MPHa research scientist from the Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation at the University of Michigan, and colleagues wrote. “However, data from the CDC indicate that national vaccination rates are well below public health targets, particularly those that require more than one dose, such as meningitis, human papillomavirus and annual influenza shots.”

The poll focused on vaccination for teenagers between 13 and 17 and included a national sample of parents.

Most parents had reported that their adolescent child had definitely (79%) or probably (14%) had all vaccinations recommended for their age, despite 36% of parents not knowing when their child is due for their next vaccine. The rest believed their child was due for their next vaccine within the next year (19%) or in more than a year (26%). One in five parents believed their teenager needed no more vaccines (19%).

The majority of parents polled relied on information about their child’s upcoming immunizations from their doctor’s office either through an office visit, scheduled appointment or a reminder that was sent. Rarely, would a notice be sent from the school, health plan or the public health department. A large number were not aware of how to be notified about upcoming vaccinations. 

"Parents rely on child health providers to guide them on vaccines in childhood and during the teen years,” Clark said in a press release. “Given the general lack of awareness about adolescent vaccines shown in this poll, there is a clear need for providers to be more proactive for their teen patients.”

Parents can be more proactive in finding out about their teens and younger children’s immunization requirements by checking their child’s school website or calling the school. The CDC also has a website with vaccination recommendations for children of all ages, including college students at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html

The 2017-2018 school year will be here before you know it. Many schools will start up again in mid to late August. Do yourself and your child a huge favor by getting their immunizations up-to-date before the last minute rush!

Story source: https://www.healio.com/pediatrics/vaccine-preventable-diseases/news/online/%7Be6c9d80d-86d4-48a7-9090-b1e489e6db56%7D/majority-of-parents-unaware-of-teens-incomplete-vaccination-status

Daily Dose

Tummy Aches

1:30 to read

I am getting a lot of phone calls and texts with concerns about  tummy aches. I have even started seeing patients in the office with complaints of “my tummy hurts”, and we are just in the first week of school. I know that school nurses are dealing with this common complaint as well.   Amazingly, I don’t see very many complaints of tummy aches during the “lazy days of summer”…but once school starts they seem to become more prevalent.

Don’t get me wrong…while the tummy aches are real and painful, they are usually not due to anything serious.  In many cases I see,  the abdominal discomfort may be due to a bit of anxiety and stress that often comes as children get back into the classroom.  While the child may not be aware of “stress”,  their body does sense it and the gut responds with abdominal pain. 

The children that I am already seeing are all healthy and growing well. They do not appear to be “ill” when I see them, but will complain that their tummy hurts. When I have them point to where the pain is, they typically point right around their belly button (periumbilical).  If asked to point to the one place where it “hurts the most”  they typically still cannot localize it…it’s just all over! Having generalized pain is typically a good sign, rather than having point tenderness in one area.  Upon further questioning they do not have a fever, have not had vomiting or diarrhea, DO NOT wake up in the middle of the night with abdominal pain and often cannot remember if they “pooped“ today or yesterday but usually swear that their “poop” is “normal” . (I am not always sure about that - stool history in kids is quite hit and miss!) 

A few of the children say that eating makes their tummy ache worse while others report it feels better if they eat. They typically are not having issues with a specific food.  (It also depends what they are given to eat - often they will eat their favorite food if given the opportunity).  

For some of the children the pain is “bad enough” that they come home from school, but once home their parents report that after an hour or so they seem better.  Other children stay in school, but the minute a parent picks them up they start saying “my tummy hurt all day at school”!  

I remember that one of my sons often had tummy aches during the school year and we were talking about it the other night (he is now an adult).  He says he remembers being worried about school and “hiding” in the morning when it was time to go to school (I would be looking all over for him as his older brother was already out the door, and anxious that he would not get to school on time,  while I had the younger brother on my hip as I searched the house).   Talk about getting a stomach ache…mine was in knots by the time I would get to work.  It would only be several hours later when I would get the phone call from the school nurse that he was there with a tummy ache.  He now says that he remembers that by the time he was 8 years old it all just changed and it went away. 

Many times all it takes is a little reassurance that the tummy ache is not serious. I tell the children that everything on their exam is normal which is a good thing. Sometimes it seems to help a tummy ache if I prescribe the child some extra fiber and maybe a Tums  a good source of calcium too). Who knows if it is placebo effect… but just by doing something they feel a bit of relief. The one thing I do know…they need to keep going to school and it usually gets better once they are settled back into a school routine.  

 

Daily Dose

Science & Vaccines

1:30 to read

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and it seems appropriate that while heading to NYC for business I managed to watch the in flight movie “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”.  I had read the book years ago and I have recommended it to many, as it is such a great “read” about an incredible woman who unknowingly changed medicine and science. The movie was produced by Harpo Productions and Oprah Winfrey stars….that alone is enough to get you hooked!

 

The story is sad but true. Unfortunately in the 1950’s we did not have laws to protect patient rights…but Henrietta’s life and her story changed all of ours.  Why?  Because the cells that doctors at Johns Hopkins took from her during her treatment for cervical cancer were ultimately used to grow more cells…which would be used over and over again in developing vaccines and so many other medical break throughs!!!  It is incredible that these cells which are named HeLa cells (after the initials of her first and last name) literally changed the world of medicine. I know not everyone knew her story when studying HeLa cells…but I am hopeful more and more remember her due to this excellent book and now HBO movie. 

 

I was amazed by this story which demonstrates the science (albeit from unfortunate circumstances) that enabled scientists to begin to develop vaccines.  I continue to be amazed at those who “don’t believe in vaccines”. Just as Henrietta’s HeLa cells have changed our medical and scientific world, so have vaccines.  During Henrietta’s life the United States was in a state of panic as  countless children and adults came down with polio and many died or were paralyzed.  But after HeLa cells were found to propagate, the cell cultures were used to meet the needs of researchers working on the development of a polio vaccine. A HeLa factory was opened at theTuskegee Institute to manufacture HeLa cells.  This cell line was ultimately instrumental in  testing the vaccine and demonstrating the development of antibodies against polio. Subsequently, Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine was approved and given to children and the polio epidemic was stopped in the United States.

 

Pure, eloquent science - which reduced disease and save lives. The panic against polio subsided…but we are now “too complacent” about infectious disease. We even take vaccines for granted, while some choose not to be protected by a vaccine??  Hundreds and hundreds of researchers have come and gone since the first HeLa cells were used…but Henrietta’s legacy and her “gift” to science remain.  We all need to know more about the woman from whom those precious cells had come….and say thank you.

 

Talk to your doctor and make sure your children are protected!

 

 

 

  

 

Daily Dose

The Joy of a "Snow Day"

What a wonderful feeling to wake up and find that you and your kids have an unexpected holiday due to "inclement weather". That is still a vivid memory of my childhood too. While growing up in the northeast, the quiet of a snowy morning, only interrupted by an occasional snow plow, and hearing your parents tip toe into your room to let you know that you can snuggle back into bed for a little extra sleep, courtesy of the weather.

We are having one of those rare "snow days" in our area today, and no matter where you live, a day that you are stuck at home, forced to just "hang out" due to mother nature may be one for the memory books. These are the days to let your children sleep in, snuggle in your bed to watch cartoons together and stay in your pajamas until noon. You don't even feel lazy, or rushed or "guilty" because you just have to stay home due to snow and ice. Forced relaxation! Fixing a big breakfast together with the children or gathering everyone together to see what kind of soup you can concoct with whatever is in the pantry is always a must on a snow day. Children think chicken noodle soup or vegetable soup made with their help tastes so much better than anything you prepare for them. Snow days at my house mean soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, which are still one of the "grown kids" favorite foods, and they know how to make it too! Take advantage of this extra day with your children, as it really is a gift. Go outside for sledding in the neighborhood, or build that snowman together even if it is only 1 foot tall, and make sure to take pictures. These are days that memories are made. No pressure, no pre-planning, just another weather event, but maybe "MOTHER" nature knew how special this day could be for families. That's your daily dose for today, we'll chat tomorrow.

Daily Dose

National Walk to School Day

This day and the entire month of October is meant to bring awareness back to the need for children to walk to school when possible.Today is ‘National Walk to School Day' and as a seven year old so aptly stated, "this was fun and good for my mom's health too." It seems that it has become uncommon these days for children to walk to school, although it was something that used to be one of the best parts of the day. This day and the entire month of October is meant to bring awareness back to the need for children to walk to school when possible. There are many reasons to encourage this, as a form of exercise to promote childhood obesity, to save on gas during skyrocketing gas prices, and to promote environmental consciousness.

It is a privilege to live close to a school and have leisurely walks where you can talk about the day ahead, kick a rock or pick up the first leaves of fall. But we need to change community cultures to promote safe routes to walk to school and to promote neighborhood children and parents to walk together. This same idea needs to be encouraged for those children who might want to ride their bikes to school, of course with a helmet, and get their parents to ride along. It also teaches the rules of the road and safety for crossing streets and intersections. So....pick a few days this fall to opt out of carpool, get the dog and a cup of coffee and walk to school with your child. It is guaranteed to create lots of conversation and most likely fond memories of your childhood walks to school. That's your daily dose, we'll chat tomorrow. More Information: International Walk to School Day in the U.S.A.

Daily Dose

School Anxiety

2.00 to read

For some of the country school has been in session for a week or two, but September brings the reality of school for all. So I was not surprised to listen to my voicemails recently only to hear numerous messages relating to the return to school.

One of the predominate themes I heard was, “my child seems anxious about school”. Interestingly, the voice mails related not only to young children who might be starting school for the first time, but there were also several calls relating to adolescents in junior high and high school. The “worry” that some children experience as they return to school after 10 -12 weeks of “down time” occurs quite frequently.

Many of us, even adults, get the “butterflies in the tummy” feeling when embarking on a new situation. Whether it be a new school year, or a new job,   along with anticipation and excitement might come a bit of anxiety. At times the anxiety may present itself as a tummy ache, headache, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite or even lethargy.

Everyone responds to anxiety a bit differently. But many times these symptoms go hand in hand with feeling anxious. These feelings are not wanted or planned, but result from our mind/body interaction as neurotransmitters in our brains may produce outright symptoms in our bodies.

There will be many children who have a mystery headache or tummy ache for several days, maybe even several weeks, as the routine of a new school year begins. For most of our children these feelings will pass with a little TLC (tender loving care),  some of my young parents don’t know what this acronym means.  For other children the symptoms may be a little longer lasting and the school nurse might offer her own version of TLC, with a few minutes of rest, or a glass of juice, some reassurance and return to class.  The school counselor may also lend an ear to an older student who just needs some talk time in order to become less anxious.

But for a few, the symptoms do not pass and the anxiety surrounding school may even start to affect other activities. This is especially disconcerting when it seems to involve activities that a child had previously enjoyed, such as dance, or sports or even spending the night with a friend. In these cases it may be time to discuss your child’s anxiety with your pediatrician.  There are numerous professionals that can help your child with anxiety. So, give the back to school routine a bit of time, but at the same time if things are not improving, do not hesitate to call for outside help.   

I'm Dr. Sue and that’s your daily dose for today. We’ll chat again tomorrow. 

Pages

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

 

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

New report says not enough babies are getting much needed tummy time!

DR SUE'S DAILY DOSE

New report says not enough babies are getting much needed tummy time!

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.