Archive for 2017

10 Things To Know About 2017-2018 Flu Shots

The flu season is soon to be upon us and I hate to be so prescriptive but when it comes to influenza I feel like I have to be. I immunize my entire family and I think you should, too.

Hard to believe, but with our children going back to school and swapping snot around the classroom, it’s time to get fall flu immunizations on your radar. Last year during the 2016-17 season, more than 100 U.S. children died of the flu (influenza), and thousands more were hospitalized for severe illness or complications from the virus. Historically, more than 80% of children who died of influenza were not vaccinated. The flu shot is the best way to teach your own immune system to fight back if exposed to the virus. The flu vaccine “recipe” was changed this year (one different A strain compared with last year’s vaccine) to accommodate for predicted viral strains that will likely come and circulate around our neighborhoods.

The recommendations this year are the same as last year. Every child over 6 months of age should be immunized.

10 Things To Know About Flu Shots:

Here’s what you need to know based on my experience as a pediatrician, The Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics policies:

  1. All Children Over 6 Months: The flu vaccine should be given to everyone 6 months and older. Babies and young children (6 months to 8 years) who have never had a flu shot will need 2 doses of the vaccine, given at least 4 weeks apart. Young children under age 5 years of age at higher risk of hospitalization and serious illness as are children with underlying medical conditions.
  2. Pregnant Moms High Risk: Flu vaccine should be given to all women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy or are in the postpartum period or are breastfeeding during the flu season. The vaccine is safe to get at any time during pregnancy. Mom’s immune response (making antibodies to the virus) are passed onto the baby in the final stages of pregnancy and protect newborns too young to get the shot. A double win!
  3. Only The Shot: This year, like last year, the nasal flu spray is not recommended because data showed that it was less effective in protecting children and their families from the most common strains of flu circulating. It’s a sincere bummer, in my mind, that we don’t get to offer the spray but it sure is good news to only use an effective vaccine backed by decades of safety research. Another reason to avoid promising “no-poke” visits.
  4. Timing: Get your vaccine as soon as it becomes available, and ideally by the end of October before Halloween. No reason to try to “game the system” and wait as there isn’t a lot of convincing data that the vaccine fades before the flu season does. Influenza peaks in early winter typically but of anything that’s predictable, it’s that influenza is unpredictable. Being immunized 2 weeks prior to an exposure is the best way to be protected. Most doctors and nurses and hospital workers will all have their vaccine in September and October.
  5. Children With Egg Allergies: are OK to get the shot and do not need to go to an allergist to get the vaccine.
  6. Flu Shot Can’t Cause Influenza: The flu shot doesn’t cause flu infection. The shot is not a live virus vaccine, it’s an inactivated vaccine, and it can’t replicate in the body.
  7. Lots Of Vaccine Available: Flu shots will likely be at your pediatrician’s office soon. There will be about 150 to 166 million doses of the vaccine produced.
  8. Side Effects: most commonly are pain in the arm or leg at the injection site. About 10-30% of children under age 2 years will get a fever whereas fever is rare after flu shots in older children and adults.
  9. Thimerosal: is a preservative used in multi-dose vaccines like influenza. There are thimerosal-free formulations, as well, if you’re concerned about the preservative. Thimerosal has never been shown to cause health problems.
  10. You Don’t Want Influenza, Get The Shot: Families, in my experience, who have experienced influenza in their home always get the flu shot thereafter! In my 11 years of practice I’ve taken care of critically-ill patients with influenza, patients with severe pneumonia, severe ear infections, dehydration, seizures, and respiratory distress requiring oxygen all from flu. The vaccine effectiveness for flu vaccine varies from year to year based on what specific strains are in the vaccine (3 or 4 strains, depending on the manufacturer) and what strains of influenza virus actually circulate between people. On average, most years the vaccines anywhere from about 50 to 60% effective. That means if 100 people got the shot about 50 or 60 people, on average each year, would be protected from getting the infection when exposed to influenza.  Some people feel it’s not good enough — but remember if you don’t get the vaccine you have absolutely zero added protection when exposed. Some studies find that anywhere between 10-40% of children are exposed to influenza every year so every layer of protection helps.

When you immunize your kid, you first and foremost protect them, you secondarily protect your family, and third, you protect those kids who can’t get the shot, those older people who won’t mount a great response to the vaccine and can get really sick when they’re exposed, and those babies who are too young to be immunized.        ~From an NPR Interview on 2017 Flu Vaccine

As A Pro-Vaccine Parent You Can Change Your Community’s Protection:

One of the ways you can change your family’s level of protection is to make sure other families in your community also get their flu shot so their family doesn’t share flu to you and those you love. In general, one of the reasons we have a lot of circulating flu is that only about 50-75% of people get the flu vaccine (depends on your age range, toddlers typically are well immunized!). What if parents were the ones to endorse protection from influenza? What if we drove our schools and playgroups and community protection by helping make sure families remembered it was an important step?

Perhaps share with others that you’re immunizing your family? Share a video with your Facebook or Instagram or other social community? I’m hoping this 20-second video can help nudge those who haven’t yet planned to get their family protected. Spread it, not the virus.

 

1 Small Hack For Smarter Smartphone Parenthood

It’s the last official week of summertime around here. My babies love school and are eager about the beginning; it’s me nursing an increasingly bigger pit in my stomach as summer wanes and September nears. While my boys grow up I feel like I see more clearly the ways summertime affords juicy glimpses into the innocence of childhood. This summer I watched these little boys stay in their jammies past noon and watched as they dabbled in stories and books, make believe, competition, mindless daydreaming, Lego-building, risk-taking, and an earnest growing concern about safety in the world. To me the collection of those interests feels so earnest and utterly serene. Summertime is just slower.

I crave the de-clutter of long days without so much chaos. Without the stresses that the school schedule ushers in, the summertime-alarm-clock-free space lends priority to an actual circadian rhythm. We eat better, the days are less driven by rule following. I think we might laugh more. Less time spent rushing and shuttling from one thing to the next and more time listening. A lot more time goofing off. I mean my 8 year-old ran into my room first thing this morning in a cape! What life (with children) is ultimately about.

As this summer, in particular, wraps up I’m also recognizing with increasing fortitude the peril we’re under because of technology in our lives.

Nothing new or profound but I really feel it right now, more than ever. My work over the past years with The American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communication and Media has shaped the study on device-use as a station in my work, but it’s my role as a mother that screams out louder in me right now. We could really mess this up. Not our kids, per se, I just mean how we all experience this precious gift.

We spend a lot of time worrying about and tweaking our children’s media use. Yes, we can and should make use a media use plan to help guide how our children use devices (literally you can plug in a plan together here and print it out for the fridge) but at some point we have to think on how we grown-ups cherish our days, too. How technology will rob us of what we adore.

As the next decade unfolds, devices will only get better at grabbing ahold of us. We have to admit a frailty inherent in us; we need to practice being off our devices. Practice it, every day, like a craft. I think this is a new part of being human.

The piece in The Atlantic earlier this summer, Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation, brought the threats of  iGen tech use into an even newer, national focus. The thesis, in case you’ve not yet read it, is that teens are unhappier than ever, the author argues, since the iPhone hit stores. Smartphones have changed how we all live and think and love and connect and teens have more anguish because of it. I know there is ongoing suffering from device-use. There is, of course, also a profundity of ways devices build convenience and safety and social justice and intimacy in our lives. But a couple recent experiences where my own son had to tug on my sleeve to pull me away from a device made me feel basically just horrifically horrible. I was as gone to my phone as you can imagine. And after a couple summertime device Mom-fails I’m happy to re-invent how I improve at this. My earnest distraction wed to the accelerating feeling of the dwindling sand-in-the-hourglass time with my boys (before they leave home) motivates. I want to use this smartphone smarter. Wouldn’t it feel awesome to be great at this?

So how about this tiny tweak…

One Hour In Airplane Mode Every Day. A Tiny Tweak

I spent last week with my phone in airplane mode all day. I checked in quickly here or there and for little squalls of media in the evening, but the bulk of the days were left untethered. It wasn’t a full digital sabbatical, which for me was practical and less distracting. Sure, I know some of you can be a hero parent and not touch your phone after 5pm. And maybe you’re already good at putting your devices away, as are your children. We do#devicefreedinner and my boys are limited with their media use, but I’m thinking about fully protecting random other hours, too. Practically speaking, I want to think on finding one hour, every single day, to put my phone in airplane mode. We can untether ourselves. Make a new habit. Stop the rush and make a beep or a call an impossible interruption. Just be around for the goofing off. Bring summer all the way into the depths of December, every single day. Practice the art of one hour offline and out of earshot daily. Join me?

Tips And Facts For Families On The Solar Eclipse

I know, everyone is writing about the eclipse. I’ve got just a few messages. One is, this is gonna be cool. Two, the caution messages are real. The cool part is because when our world goes a little dark mid-day next week it will be fairly startling. Even the animals are expected to change up how they behave. And the cautionary messages just make sense. Our eyes and our vision are clearly worth protecting ferociously. Damage from the eclipse can be permanent so taking a few steps to understand how and why just makes sense. And for framing this whole thing up in life? Thank goodness many of us have children in our midst. Their enthusiasm about how BIG this event is can help scale how exciting it is when the sun disappears in the middle of the day. Children harbor amazing perspective of what matters. Monday is a great day to stop reading the news and stare up into the sky (carefully). Thank goodness.

Quick Summary Of The Total Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to at least a partial view of an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights (as I’m told) – a total solar eclipse, which has not happened in 99 years. This path, where the moon, the sun and the Earth all line up such that the moon completely blocks out the sun will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. The New York Times created the above video that captures the science and awe of this event. Even NASA created a website to provide a guide to viewers. Out West, people are talking of little else and Slate is reporting that Oregon is expecting 1 million tourists view the eclipse. People are changing up their weeks to view this. Two little girls from Seattle are getting real – they’re launching a weather balloon into space, in partnership with NASA, with live GPS tracking (and an Amelia Earhart LEGO) and some live video coverage links, too. I mean, it’s a big deal.

Can The Eclipse Hurt My Eyes?

Yes, the eclipse can hurt your eyes if you stare directly at the sun for any time. But you and your children can safely watch the eclipse if you follow a few recommendations. A long version of these recommendations are available at American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  1. No direct looking. A reminder to never look directly at the sun during the eclipse without appropriate eye protection. The total eclipse only happens for a couple minutes (for those in the path of totality) and the rest of us don’t have a single window of time on Monday where it’s safe to look at the sun directly, even when partially eclipsed.
  2. Regular sunglasses don’t count. Real solar viewers are thousands of times darker than regular sunglasses. Don’t think you can hack this with your old, dark sunglasses.
  3. Purchase eye protection or don’t look directly up at the sun. The bad news, if you’re a late buyer it might be too late to buy these glasses as USA Today reports that retailers across America are selling out at rapid pace. The other bad news is there have numerous media reports that some glasses are counterfeit and may not actually protect you. Here’s a list of glasses/filters from the American Astronomical Society with some vetted sellers/manufacturers that are thought to be more “reputable.”
  4. Do not look at a partially-eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device — in some cases this can magnify and potentiate the light and cause an even more extensive exposure and injury.
  5. Blindness? Some of the claims that looking quickly at the sun can cause blindness may be overstated but there’s no question that looking at the sun can quickly cause real and extensive damage to your retina (back of your eye). Staring directly at the sun causes a condition called solar retinopathy that occurs when bright light from the sun floods the retina on the back of the eye. Live Science explains, “The retina is home to the light-sensing cells that make vision possible. When they’re over-stimulated by sunlight, they release a flood of communication chemicals that can damage the retina. This damage is often painless, so people don’t realize what they’re doing to their vision.” Be careful.
  6. If you can’t find ways to get glasses or make a viewer yourself, consider watching a live stream of the actual eclipse. NASA will be streaming it live. You and your children can also get crafty and can make a PINHOLE CAMERA to view the eclipse from your backyard.

What If I Miss The Eclipse?

If you’ll be vacationing in Cuba next week, despair not. There will be solar eclipses visible from parts of the contiguous U.S. on Oct. 14, 2023, and April 8, 2024. The one in 2024 will be a total solar eclipse visible from Texas to Maine. Fair-ups for all you not in the path of totality or close to it this time.

What About Animals?

Animals may react to the eclipse and maybe our puppies will take note. “In total solar eclipses, there are observations of animals going to sleep,” Rick Schwartz, an animal behavior expert with the San Diego Zoo, told ABC News. “The animals take the visual cues of the light dimming, and the temperature cues. You hear the increase of bird calls and insects that you usually associate with nightfall. Farmers have said that the cows lay down on the field or the chickens go back into the coop.” I’m already imaging all the Instagram videos of the puppies…

Image c/o NPR

New Breast Pump Cleaning Guidelines From CDC

Every tool can carry risk when not used properly. The story about breast pumps and infection risk in the media recently is no exception. Attention all breast feeding & pumping mamas out there (and all the lovely people who support moms who pump milk): The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) has issued new guidelines for properly cleaning your breast pump & parts. The new recommendations come in the wake of a devastating story of a premature baby girl who showed signs of sepsis (bloodstream infection) at age 21 days due to an unusual bacterial infection. She developed spastic cerebral palsy, developmental delays and later passed away. This case is an outlier, for sure, but did prompt learning that the CDC felt the public should know.

After a full investigation, the CDC traced the infection source back to the breast pump and parts. The way the breast pump equipment was cared for may have allowed bacteria to grow. The CDC reported that the girl’s mother typically soaked the collection kit from her personal breast pump in soapy water in a wash basin for ≤5 hours without scrubbing or sanitizing. She then rinsed, air-dried, and stored the kit in a plastic zip-top bag until the next use. It’s possible how she cared for the pump allowed for bacteria to grow and be transferred to the baby. Because the baby was young and born prematurely, the baby was at greater risk for infection that most full-term older infants.

In response to the investigation, we reviewed existing resources for women about how to pump breast milk safely, but found little guidance that was detailed and based on the best available science,” Dr. Anna Bowen, a CDC medical officer, told Parents. “As a result, CDC developed its own guidance.”

New CDC Breast Pump Cleaning Guidelines:

  • Clean your pump parts after every use. Don’t skip a single feeding. I know it’s yet another step in the long process of breastfeeding and pumping, but it’s crucial. Annoying add but the recommendations are based in experts evaluating risks.
  • Wash your hands before touching your pump parts or pumped milk.
  • Key: keep a separate wash basin for the parts, the CDC doesn’t recommend you use the kitchen sink to clean pump supplies as the sink may house germs and bacteria from other food prep.
  • Have a dedicated cleaning brush for your pump and parts. Clean that brush every few days. Don’t re-use the sponge you use to scrub food off your plates and dishes.
  • Use running water and soap to clean breast pump parts that come in contact with breast milk.
  • Then let each piece and part air dry.
  • For extra cleanliness you can boil or steam the parts to sanitize in either a microwavable steamer or use the sanitize cycle in the dishwasher (HOT water). You can use the sanitizing bags that you use in the microwave or you can bring a pot of water to a boil and boil parts in the bubbling water for 5 minutes.

Bottom Line: this news isn’t meant to scare or drive moms away from breastfeeding and pumping. We know the many benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby (see below). This is just a reminder to be diligent when cleaning and sanitizing your breast pump.

Some Benefits of Breast Feeding For Baby

  • Lower SIDS risk in babies who are breastfed
  • Immune support that moms pass through breastmilk (no trivial thing!)– These free antibodies reduce infections for babies (ear infections, diarrhea)
  • Complete nutrition, no processed food! Yum.
  • Good bacteria — the passing along of the microbiome from mama to baby. So much to learn about this but we know the microbiome in breastfed babies is different than that of formula-fed babies. Time will tell how “protective” this really is. So I won’t promise it’s “healthier” but do know it’s different.
  • Potential allergy protection – some data suggest breast feeding can stave-off development of some severe allergies.

Benefits of Breast Feeding For Mom

  • Benefits for a more rapid recovery from delivery. Hello, helpful.
  • Reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancer in life overall.
  • Contraception support (don’t count on breastfeeding as a 100% contraception method!) and support in not having that next screaming baby faster than you want. However, can’t stress enough from my experience in medicine and life that you can never count on breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy.
  • 400-500 calories and a potentially speedier return to pre-pregnancy weight! I mean making milk for your baby all day is wondrous and burns off the equivalent of a 5-mile run. Nice.

Driving Under The Influence of Electronics: The New Law

Getting a DUI just got easier. Driving Under The Influence of Electronics (E-DUI) is real and will cost you as Washington State gets serious about reducing deaths from car accidents caused by distraction. The reason is clear: we know distraction from cell phone use increases risks of accidents over 20-fold and we know the habit of using a device has quickly become the norm. Here’s to hoping the new law helps us think of our cars as the sanctuaries they can be for those we cart around and for those we love. Of anything I’ve learned from researchers about vehicle safety and distraction it’s the reality that finger-wagging and telling-us-to-change type advice won’t affect our habits — we have to be motivated to change the culture of our car. We have to want to connect there or we have to be fearful of being fined. Since I made the podcast with Dr. Beth Ebel (embedded below), whenever I get in the car with my boys I think of it more like I think of time at the dinner table. And I love thinking about the car in that way. It’s so much easier to make sure I won’t pick up the phone…

The New E-DUI Law In Washington:

Tomorrow a new law signed by Governor Inslee bans holding hand-held devices, like cell phones, while driving (and even when you’re stopped at an intersection). The law makes it so drivers can only use their phones to call 911 or by using one finger to trigger a voice-activated application on bluetooth. In addition to a $136 ticket for your first offense and $234 for the second within 5 years, these citations will be reported to insurance companies. Learn more about the law on Washington’s Target Zero website. The reason is pretty clear — just as we were seeing the death rate fall from good seatbelt use and clamping down on DUIs, there has been a rise in accidents and deaths. Many believe this is in part due to the rapid rise of device distraction.

Under the new law you can’t even look at your phone at stop lights. Reason is, you lose awareness of situations around you and many accidents occur when pedestrians are struck by distracted drivers in intersections.

Data Driving The New DUI Laws:

  • Fatalities from distracted driving increased 32 percent from 2014 to 2015 in Washington.
  • 71 percent of distracted drivers engage in the most dangerous distraction, cell phone use behind the wheel
  • One out of four crashes involves cell phone use just prior to the crash.
  • At any given time, 2013 research has found that about 10% of people driving are actually using a device and half are texting! Anecdotally it only seems to be getting worse. I mean we look around and constantly we see people flying down the highway while trying to send messages.

The law is a big step in the right direction for avoiding injuries and death from distracted driving. We know that it’s hard for us all (!!) to keep the phone off or in the backseat. And we know the fear of tickets — the ones that take away money but the ones that also increase insurance premiums — may change behavior. And that’s the goal. Public service announcements scaring us about risk clearly are not enough and are clearly ineffective as use of devices in cars rages on.
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Chemicals In Macaroni And Cheese Explained

If you’re a parent whose child loves macaroni and cheese (and truly, it’s the rare child who doesn’t), you’ve most likely seen the NYT media blitz on chemicals found in popular, boxed mac-n-cheese brands sold in grocery stores. I’m going to break it down quick and simple. Here we go….

  1. The chemical detected in the mac and cheese were are called phthalates. Phthalates aren’t an added ingredient that companies are purposely using in their products. This isn’t an artificial ingredient, per se. It also isn’t something you avoid in your food when buying organic foods.
  2. Phthalates are chemical toxins that are used to make rigid plastics more flexible and less breakable. These plastics are used in processing plants and conveyor systems that our food and other ingredients travel THROUGH while being preserved and packaged. The phthalates can then leak from the plastics (tubing, conveyor belts, machinery) INTO our food or ingredients.
  3. Research links phthalates to possible genital abnormalities at birth and disruption of hormones, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. Phthalate exposures during pregnancy can cause changes in estrogen and testosterone levels in fetuses. There isn’t a known “safe” amount of phthalates for our diets. So when we can reduce our exposure to them, we should.
  4. Almost all dairy products you consume contain phthalates. So it’s not just the mac-n-cheese that’s exposing us to phthalates. Milk, cheese, cottage cheese, string cheese, ice cream and other foods…any milk product contains them. Phthalates piggyback into our food and are stored in fat. That’s one of the reasons it’s smarter to drink low-fat dairy products over high-fat ones.
  5. We don’t know yet which brands the report surveyed and this work wasn’t published in a peer-reviewed journal. Some media outlets are reporting Kraft was included but I was unable to unearth which brands and what levels were found. To be safe, I’d assume most macaroni and cheese prepared products contain some level of phthalates because they all require processing.
  6. Buying organic mac-n-cheese isn’t saving you from phthalate exposure. Remember anything that’s been processed through tubing or machinery can have phthalates. Phthalates can also leave plastic products in our house (plastic food containers, plastic dishware, plastic surfaces) and enter our food, especially when heated. So the less we use plastic to store or transport our food the better!
  7. We don’t actually know what level of phthalates are safe for consumption so as the science and understanding of the risks evolve it’s best to think on diminishing exposures.

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What To Do With Bug Bites and Itchiness

It’s July so we’re officially in summertime, thank goodness. My prescription: warm and outdoor adventures for us all! Obviously if we take the Rx seriously, we’ll all be more likely to get bit. When it comes to bug bites, the most important thing to know for your child (and yourself) is how they will react. Some children get bit all over and hardly react while others will have enormous, and tremendously ITCHY welts all over their body. There truly are children who are mosquito-bite sensitive and children who are not. Some get bit and hardly react while others of us end up with welts in minutes.

In general, bug bites cause a mild irritation to the skin. However, sometimes a more allergic reaction results and persists, even for days causing real discomfort. In these scenarios, it’s safe to use anti-allergy medications (diphenhydramine, etc) for itchiness from bites. It’s also safe to use over-the-counter (OTC) hydrocortisone cream or ointment on bites that aren’t scratched open or raw.

Some tips on how you can help keep your children bug bite free or help them when they do get bit: Read full post »

Pride: The Wellness Effect of Same-Sex Marriage Laws

Seattle’s Pride Parade is tomorrow, Sunday, June 25, and it has a great theme — Indivisible. Take the meaning of the theme as you like, but if there’s one thing that is true for Pride in Washington, it’s that there is an abundance of support. The majority of our people here, it seems to me, are building a community and will not be divided more. I feel so thankful to live in a community that is on its way to continuing to make all feel welcome, safe, and grounded in a sense of belonging.

As we come upon the 5th year since Washington State legalized same-sex marriage (woohoo!) it’s important to highlight the importance of what laws like this can do within the community. The legal changes here have had a lasting impact on thousands and thousands: there were approximately 15,750 same-sex marriages in Washington between 2012 and 2015.

These laws not only increase liberty and resources for families with same-sex couples, the laws may increase our community’s health and they may earnestly decrease suffering.

A study published by JAMA Pediatrics found that states with same-sex marriage policies had a 7% reduction in adolescent suicide attempts. The study analyzed data from 762,678 adolescents in 47 states between 1999 and 2015. Of the states included in the study, 32 permitted same-sex marriage and 15 states did not.

Evidence from nationally representative 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) data indicates that more than 29% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual high school students reported attempting suicide within the past 12 months, relative to 6% of heterosexual students.

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Just ASK About Firearms

It’s national selfie day (??? an excuse for my millennial behavior) and it’s also Just ASK day (smart stuff), hence the image I snapped this morning. I spent the morning today at KING5 news making some TV segments encouraging us all to ask about firearms when we drop our children and teens off for playdates, sleepovers, camps, and fun. Although it seems awkward at first blush to ask how a firearm is stored at a home of someone you love or someone you hardly know for that matter, I’m convinced it’s time to make it the norm. Weird, I suppose, to ask something that may feel imposing especially when someone is graciously taking in your little rugrat for dinner or soccer or a sleepover or a trip to the beach…the reality is this: 9 out of 10 parents don’t mind being asked about firearms. And ensuring that our children can’t get their hands on firearms at the wrong time is something we all work on.

Just ASK about firearms in the home. Every time. Make sure if firearms are in the home they are stored unloaded and are separate from ammunition. Ideally, firearms should be in lock boxes and/or have trigger locks

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Avoiding Shame When Talking About Weight With Your Teen

Figuring out what to say to a child or teen about being overweight can be perplexing. We want out children to love to eat. We want our children to love their bodies. We want our children to be of healthy weight. We want to avoid ever making our children feel shameful about how and what they eat.

It can be a challenge to figure out what to say when we worry our children may be overweight or at risk for being overweight. How do we talk with them about eating well without making them feel any frustration/shame/overwhelm about their body? There are roughly 7 million children and teens younger than 19 years old in the US that are of unhealthy weight or obese. In Washington, 23% of 10th graders (15 to 16 years old) are overweight or obese. That’s nearly one-quarter of teens who are at one of their most vulnerable ages. So lots of parents may find themselves wanting to support different choices with eating and activity and not know quite how.

Adolescent expert Dr. Cora Breuner is a specialist who works with teens who need extra help getting to a healthy weight. She recently joined me on a podcast to discuss talking about the difficult topic with your teen. Specifically, Dr. Breuner shared tips on how to approach conversations with your teen about their weight, and common confusions and excuses for overeating.

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