Important reasons you should immunize your child. With the recent measles outbreak, news outlets have been flooded with talk about how you should immunize your child. We understand you want to do the best for your children, but it’s also really important to know the importance of immunizations. Like car seats, baby gates and other ways to keep your kids safe, immunizations are just another way to protect them from harmful viruses that your child’s immune system may not be prepared to handle. Immunizations can save your child’s life. Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, have been eliminated completely and others are close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children. Immunization protects others you care about. Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, we have seen resurgences of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years. Since 2010, there have been between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough each year in the United States and about 10 to 20 babies, many of which were too young to be fully vaccinated, died each year. While some babies are too young to be protected by vaccination, others may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems or other reasons. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized. This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones. Immunizations can save your family time and money. A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or child care facilities. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care. In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and usually covered by insurance. The Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families. Find out more by talking to your doctor. Immunization protects future generations. Immunizations have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago (example smallpox). By vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), the risk that pregnant women will pass this virus on to their fetus or newborn has been dramatically decreased, and birth defects associated with that virus no longer are seen in the United States. If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future. Still have questions about immunizations? Talk to your doctor and find out more.
Help your teen sleep better According to recent studies, forty-three percent of parents say their teens struggle to fall asleep — or wake up and can’t get back to sleep. Help your teen sleep better with the following tips: Maintain a regular sleep schedule Keeping a sleep schedule within an hour of what’s usual helps keep the circadian rhythm in check. Sleeping in hours later than normal on the weekends and during school breaks makes it even more difficult to switch back — and can lead to more tiredness and grogginess. “Catch-up” sleep is also unlikely to make up for the full amount of sleep debt accrued over a week, and we don’t believe it’s as restorative to the body. Discourage afternoon naps Even though they may provide more sleep short term, naps make it harder to fall asleep at night. They also break up sleep, which means lower quality of sleep and fewer benefits. If this is a habit, do everything you can to quit naps for a week to make it easier to not nap going forward. Ban electronics from the bedroom Not being able to stay off electronics — including social media and cell phones — was the top reason polled parents cited for their teens’ sleep troubles. Some research indicates that the light exposure from screens also disrupts traditional cues sent to the brain to wind down. That’s why I recommend physically removing the device. Charge phones elsewhere Make it a family rule to charge all devices in a parent’s bedroom or another isolated space to reduce temptation at bedtime. Many teens I’ve seen in my own practice actually describe a sense of relief when their parents limit phone use because it takes away some of that pressure to keep up with social news and what their peers are up to. Stick to sleep-friendly bedtime routines In addition to banning electronics, limit other distractions in the bedroom. All stimulation should be minimized. Keep lights low and active pets out of the bedroom. We discourage using music or sound machines to help with sleep because they may actually keep the brain stimulated. Realize sleep isn’t instant We don’t expect people to fall asleep right away. It can take half an hour for someone to truly fall asleep. Have your teen follow a routine that helps them de-stress and wind down to get their body into sleep mode and send the right signals to the brain that it’s time to snooze (e.g., bath, reading, bed). Consult a health provider Sometimes an underlying medical issue, such as depression or sleep apnea, may be causing sleep trouble. If a teen continues to have problems falling asleep or is waking up multiple times at night despite healthy sleep hygiene habits, speak to a sleep specialist. Call us if you have additional information. We can help.
How to choose healthy school lunches and snacks Students have been back to school for a little while now, but families may still be discussing whether children should take a brown-bag lunch to school or purchase a meal at the school’s cafeteria. School lunches, have improved over the past few years, especially with the decrease in sugary beverages and emphasis on fruit and vegetables, but they may still offer some not-so-healthful options. Given the choice, many kids will choose the latter – like pizza every day, no veggies and high-sugar chocolate milk, etc. It’s really important to stay ahead of those choices and make sure your children have a healthy option. Homemade lunches are usually a better choice because a parent can tailor the meal to the child’s needs and tastes. If your child has a food allergy or dietary issue, for example, you can address that. School lunches also generally tend to be repetitive. School cafeterias have a rotating calendar of meals and generally serve the same thing each week. With a homemade lunch, you can have variety and make it healthy and what your child likes and will eat. Ideally, a healthful lunch – one-third of your child’s daily intake of nutrition – should include some form of lean protein, a whole grain, a vegetable, fruit, and a source of calcium, like milk, yogurt or cheese. The same dish served at school may not be nutritionally equivalent to the one made at home. Mac and cheese, for example is likely made from white pasta and processed cheese at school. At home, she uses high-protein pasta and natural cheese. Homemade lunches don’t have to be that elaborate. There’s nothing wrong with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread if you don’t have time to make something fancier. And all kids love sweets, so it’s OK to throw in a bit of sweet, such as a chocolate kiss or a mini candy bar as long as it’s in moderation. Sandwiches and wraps with whole-grain bread or tortillas, lean meat and veggies are a good standby. Raw veggies, such as carrots, celery, jicama and grape tomatoes are always a good choice. Or consider looking for baked veggie straws or baked potato chips in single serving pouches as a side to a sandwich. There are so many options for healthy simple lunches for your children. Consider packing it for them and making them as healthy as they can be.
How too much sugar can affect your child’s health. It’s no surprise that too much sugar can cause problems for your kids. From tooth decay, hyperactivity and an increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Parents can avoid these issues if they watch their kids sugar intake. Some of the common health problems that too sugar can cause include: Croup and acid reflux Some children have recurrent episodes of what looks like croup. These children go to bed seemingly healthy, but wake up during the night with a barking cough and trouble breathing. Generally we find that most of these children have a high sugar intake and are often chocolate milk drinkers. The combination of dairy and sugar takes longer to digest and is highly acidic, causing acid reflux-like symptoms and other problems with the esophagus and even the vocal cords. The key is moderation, not sugar every day. Weakened immunity Good bacteria found in your gut helps you digest food, produce vitamins and protect it from germs and disease. But when kids consume too much sugar, it can alter the balance between good and bad bacteria and weaken their immune systems.. So although your children may still get frequent colds, their symptoms may be reduced if their sugar intake is also reduced. Poor Diet Children who snub fruits, vegetables and other healthy fare may not be picky eaters after all. They might just be loading up on too much sugar which can cause stomach aches and poor appetite. Reducing the amount of sugar your child consumes is important. Whether they have symptoms or not, it’s important to keep track of your child’s sugar intake and make sure they are staying healthy.
People who have ADHD have trouble concentrating, staying still and being quiet, especially when doing school work or when there is a lot going on around them. ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a medical condition. A person with ADHD has differences in brain development and brain activity that affect attention, the ability to sit still, and self-control. ADHD can affect a child at school, at home, and in friendships. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of a group of behavior disorders where kids find it really hard to concentrate on what they are doing. They find it hard to make friends and often get into trouble at home or school for not listening properly or not paying attention to what they are doing. Kids with ADHD may have signs from one, two, or all three of these categories:
- Inattentive. Kids who are inattentive (easily distracted) have trouble focusing their attention, concentrating, and staying on task. They may not listen well to directions, may miss important details, and may not finish what they start. They may daydream or dawdle too much. They may seem absent-minded or forgetful, and lose track of their things.
- Hyperactive. Kids who are hyperactive are fidgety, restless, and easily bored. They may have trouble sitting still, or staying quiet when needed. They may rush through things and make careless mistakes. They may climb, jump, or roughhouse when they shouldn't. Without meaning to, they may act in ways that disrupt others.
- Impulsive. Kids who are impulsive act too quickly before thinking. They often interrupt, might push or grab, and find it hard to wait. They may do things without asking for permission, take things that aren't theirs, or act in ways that are risky. They may have emotional reactions that seem too intense for the situation.
Discover the power of play and adventure this month. It’s summer and it’s July - National Parks and Recreation Month. We are so lucky to have as many wonderful parks for us and our family to play or exercise in. Or even just to relax, meditate, and take a break from the general craziness of life. For children and adults, play is a vital part of our mental wellbeing, physical health and personal interactions. We challenge you to get your play on at your local parks and recreation. Whether it’s summer camp, an adult sports league, exploring a trail, yoga class, meeting friends on the playground, playing cards in the park, or discovering nature — parks and play go hand in hand. And play and exercise also go hand and hand, which promotes a healthy and active lifestyle. Each July since 1985, America has celebrated Park and Recreation Month, a program of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The goal is to raise awareness of the vital impact that parks, recreation and conservation has on communities across the U.S. Parks are the cornerstone of nearly every community, serving millions of people as the places anyone can go to be active, live healthier, connect with nature and gather together. Get out there and play in your local park! Enjoy it and have fun outside.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Mayo Clinic, hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries in 2010 throughout the United States. 72% were to people less than 15 years of age. Additionally, in 2007 alone, toymakers recalled over 19 million toys worldwide because of safety concerns such as lead paint and small magnets. When it comes to toys and gifts, the excitement and desire to get your children their favorite toys may cause shoppers to forget about safety factors associated with them. Before you make these purchases, it is critical to remember to consider the safety and age range of the toys. This holiday season (and beyond), please consider the following guidelines for choosing safe toys for all ages:
- Inspect all toys before purchasing. Avoid those that shoot or include parts that fly off. The toy should have no sharp edges or points and should be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed, or being pulled apart easily
- When purchasing toys for children with special needs try to: Choose toys that may appeal to different senses such as sound, movement, and texture; consider interactive toys to allow the child to play with others; and think about the size of the toy and the position a child would need to be in to play with it
- Be diligent about inspecting toys your child has received. Check them for age, skill level, and developmental appropriateness before allowing them to be played with
- Look for labels that assure you the toys have passed a safety inspection – “ATSM” means the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards
- Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (give a helmet with the skateboard)
- Keep kids safe from lead in toys by: Educating yourself about lead exposure from toys, symptoms of lead poisoning, and what kinds of toys have been recalled; being aware that old toys may be more likely to contain lead in the paint; having your children wash their hands frequently and calling your doctor if you suspect your child has been exposed to lead. Consult the last two websites listed below for more information
- Do NOT give toys with small parts (including magnets and “button” batteries which can cause serious injury or death if ingested) to young children as they tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If the piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not appropriate for kids under age three
- Do NOT give toys with ropes and cords or heating elements
- Do NOT give crayons and markers unless they are labeled “nontoxic”
Back to school is just around the corner. With the summer full of fun, most children need help transitioning back into a routine with deadlines for a successful start to the school year. It's also a good time for kids to visit the pediatrician, dentist and eye doctor to make sure their health makes the grade. Sleep Routines: No more staying up late and sleeping in. Start with getting your kids back into their school year sleep habits. To help your child transition back to waking up early, establish a new sleep routine. Consider starting to go to be one hour earlier every night and waking up early until the new routine is established. Start a week or two in advance, to get your school year sleep routines established. Get your vaccinations and Sports Physicals: Pediatrician's office are full of patients the week before school starts. Annual checkups should be done by a pediatrician before each new school year to ensure that your child's medical records and vaccinations are up to date. Additionally, if your child participates in athletics, they will need their yearly sports physical in order to participate. Eating Schedules: With the summer packed full of activities, eating schedules may be different than those at school. Before the new school year starts, get your child back into the habit of eating three regular meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Consider sitting down for meals together to help the child reset the routine. Backpack Basics Backpacks full of books and school supplies can put strain on your child's neck, shoulders and back. Make sure your child’s backpack fits properly and is strong enough to carry a heavy load. Also make sure your child is carrying their backpack over both shoulders, according to the, single backpack over the shoulder can strain muscles. Talk to your pediatrician about additional tips to help you get your child back into the school routine.
It’s summer! Pools and lakes are filled with kids getting wet and playing with their friends. School is out; vacations are on. – but summer play can carry risks. Doctors often see a rise in injuries related to things swimming and other summer recreational activities. Do your kids know how to swim? Water safety can be one of the most important things you and your children master this summer. Swimming and other water activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life. Get the most from these activities while helping everyone stay safe and healthy.
- Parents and babysitters play a key role in protecting children from drowning. When kids are in or near water, closely supervise them at all times.
- Help prevent recreational water illnesses, which is illness caused by germs and chemicals found in the water we swim in. Keep the pee, poop, sweat, and dirt out of the water. Take kids on bathroom breaks and check diapers every hour, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area–not poolside–to keep germs away from the pool.
- Stay safe while boating by wearing a life jacket. Properly fitted life jackets can prevent drownings and should be worn at all times by everyone on any boat.
With recent news headlines filled with information about lead tainted water in the midwest (specifically, Flint, Michigan), have you found yourself wondering about Lead Poisoning? What it is? What the affects are on you and your children? How can you get it? If so, this post is for you. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Lead is everywhere and is hard to stay clear of. Sources of lead exposure can include all sorts of things such as paint, gasoline, solder, and consumer product such as candy, jewelry, toys and more. Kids are more often exposed to lead due to the sheer amount of items they use that contain lead. Lead can be carried into the system by numerous pathways, such as air, food, water, dust, and soil. Although, there are several exposure sources, lead-based paint is the most widespread and dangerous high-dose source of lead exposure for young children. Symptoms include developmental delays, abdominal pain, neurologic changes, and irritability. At very high levels, it can be fatal. More often than not, there are no symptoms at all. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. A blood lead test is the only way to find out if your child has a high lead level. Most children with high levels of lead in their blood have no symptoms. Your doctor can recommend treatment if you or your child has been exposed to lead or has lead poisoning. If you are worried about lead exposure or poisoning, please contact your doctor right away. We will help you determine if high levels of lead are in the body and can provide help.