Engage With Grace is a movement started by brilliant and thoughtful Alex Drane and Matthew Holt. The movement is an opportunity to come together at Thanksgiving and have discussions, even just for 2 minutes, about preferences in life and preferences you have for the end of life. Even if you’re unsure of your answers, take the time and live courageously enough to talk about this. If you’re healthy, youthful, full of verve, swishy and wrinkle-free—this is the perfect time to have this conversation with those you love.
If you need inspiration for why this is worth your time, read Za’s story. Parenthood makes this all the more relevant and essential. More thoughts on this from 2011 and 2012 but basically it’s this: print this out and do your best to engage with grace this weekend. So will I.
Research shows that about 1 in every 5 pediatric visits for “sick visits” results in an antibiotic prescription. Now not all of those antibiotics are taken; many pediatricians now use the Rx pad for “wait and see” or “delayed prescribing” antibiotics. They give a prescription and allow the family to watch and wait — if a child is not getting better, they advise parents to start taking them. However, in total there are nearly 50 million antibiotic prescriptions written annually in the US. It’s not uncommon that prescriptions for antibiotics are written when children have “colds” or upper respiratory tract infections from a virus. That’s where we all have an opportunity to improve our children’s health. Nearly all of us know it’s good to avoid antibiotics when unnecessary. It’s the end of Get Smart About Antibiotics Week.
Studies indicate that nearly 50% of antimicrobial use in hospitals is unnecessary or inappropriate. ~CDC
In my experience, this issue really isn’t a tug-of-war between parents wanting drugs and doctors wanting to restrict them. Most parents I talk with in clinic don’t want an antibiotic if they can avoid it. However, recent survey data on adults found that 38% expressed a desire for antibiotics when seeking health care for the common cold. Determining when antibiotics are necessary is the tough part. This week, a clinical report was published to help pediatricians and parents know when they can avoid antibiotics given unnecessarily. Some of the data from the report included here:
5 Reasons To Avoid Antibiotics When Unnecessary
Antibiotics can cause side effects. The reason: while you may be giving antibiotics to treat a possible ear infection, once ingested the antibiotics go to every organ in your body thus killing off some of the “good bacteria” living there. Some new research even suggests that bacteria that live in our gut affect our brain activity, mood, and behavior.
Bacteria do good. Throughout our lifetime we accumulate a lot of bacteria to the point that of all the cells in and on our body, 90% of our cells are bacterial! These bacteria help keep our bodies happy – assisting in digestion and keeping a good balance of colonies for healthy skin and intestines.
Every dose of antibiotics changes us. Each dose of antibiotics kills the normal bacteria that live in our body. The risk of taking antibiotics is not only the side effects (diarrhea, rash, or upset stomach, for example) but the risk that each dose changes who we are. Previous research from 2012 found that antibiotics, particularly when given to infants, may increase risk for chronic disease later on (inflammatory bowel disease). Read full post »
Today is the Great American Smokeout. A national day for quitting for all ages. Of course quitting smoking, even for a day, is an awesome step forward for health. Clearly finger-wagging and guilt-tripping really don’t help smokers quit. I remember as a child lying on the floor when around a family member who was smoking saying, “Smoke rises….I’ll stay down here.” Fairly ineffective, I’m certain. Anecdotally, the family member is still a smoker. Nicotine is really addictive.
Cigarette smoking remains the number one cause of preventable death and premature birth in this country. And the risk of cigarette-related health problems start with the very first cigarette. That being said, recently I was talking with a colleague about her exposure to second-hand smoke as a child. She was joking that it was either all the diet soda she was drinking or her exposures to her parents’ smoking in the car that would kill her.
I got to tell her the great news. Health benefits for smokers who quit start almost immediately. Don’t underestimate the joy children exposed to second-hand smoke get when the air clears…
Benefits Of Quitting:
Health benefits to a smoker and their family start immediately. Not just the cosmetic benefits (smoking is kind of ugly) and olfactory ones (smoking stinks). Within 20 minutes of quitting heart rate and blood pressure drop. In the first day after quitting a smoker’s carbon monoxide level in blood returns to normal and within weeks to months their lung function improves. For smokers it only takes a few months for coughing and shortness of breath to improve as well. There is great reward if smokers can get support to decrease their craving and addiction to nicotine to succeed in quitting. Other astounding benefits from American Cancer Society:
1 Year After Quitting: the risk of heart disease is ½ that of someone who keeps on smoking.
5 Years After Quitting: risks of cancer of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are ½ of what they were while smoking. For smokers of any age, stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after only 2-5 years!
10 Years Out: the risk of dying from lung cancer is ½ that of someone still smoking.
15 Years Out: the risk of heart disease for smokers who have quit is that of a non-smoker’s ! Seriously rewarding especially as heart disease remains the number one killer for both men and women in America.
If you or someone you know if thinking of quitting, I suggest framing the opportunity positively. Even posting one of the above factoids on your Facebook page today may help encourage a smoker to seek support. Secondhand smoke can also be a huge motivator: Read full post »
Something amazing about birthdays. Just a day of celebration in our child’s life, perhaps, but something altogether different for we parents. It seems to me that birthdays serve up quite vivid moments for reflection.They offer up a day to assess progress, loss, growth, and quite easily acknowledge the annual tick of time. Earlier this fall a 70+ year-old man at a conference said to me (I’m paraphrasing), “Well, life as a parent is simply a blur. It’s a hazy smattering of years of frenetic events peppered with poignant traditions–all you can do is look back and remember the holidays and birthdays in a sea of years that go by.” He may be right. All the more reason these birthdays carry so much meaning.
Our youngest just turned five. And although it was quite a wonderful day of celebration (see evidence in that photo), I couldn’t suppress the ever-rising pit in my stomach. I have vivid memories of my own 5th birthday and it’s clear that time really is flying by. “The days can seem like years and the years like days,” yes of course, but on birthdays I think we parents experience complex emotions. It’s easy to suggest we should just celebrate and rejoice. “Consider the alternative!” you could say. I’d suggest we do celebrate and we do rejoice; it’s a settling and lovely thing to watch our children soak up their birthday. I’m uncertain though that’s enough of a description of these days for most parents.
Like so many other friends and parents have shared, I’m really starting to want things to slow down. I can’t help thinking about the reality that I can barely carry my 6 year-old anymore and there are mornings when he beats me to the kitchen and pours his own bowl of cereal. I know soon the days will close when O wants to eat dinner sitting on my lap. This grace of intimacy in parenting young children is for me the treasure of life. And I’m mindful, thankful, present, and proud but I can’t help hurting as I witness the sunset on this time.
I love these boys more and more and more every day I know them and I enjoy parenting them more and more and more each day too. I know it will only get better as so many ahead of me suggest. It doesn’t mean though, that it doesn’t hurt to see the candles multiply on top the cake.
I worry most about pedestrian injuries on Halloween. In fact data from Safe Kids Worldwide finds that children are 2 times as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Eeeps! The news isn’t all bad though — a 2010 report found that in the emergency room doctors see more sports injuries on Halloween than they see Halloween ones. We just have to be smart about how our children enjoy the exciting day.
Quick Tips & Reminders For A Safe Halloween
Trick-o-Treating: Every child deserves and needs a sober adult supervisor. If your children are 13 years and up, consider letting them go out with a group of friends but have a route planned and a contract that they’ll call to check in every 1 hour or so– even if just with a quick text message.
Candy: Make a plan ahead of time for candy. Discuss how much they’ll have on October 31st and then how much each day thereafter. Don’t forget to employ the Switch Witch on November 5th to eradicate the candy battles from continuing 1 week after Halloween. If your child has a life-threatening allergy to any food I recommend there is a parent around with Epinephrine at all times while out. If your child has a diagnosis of insulin-dependent diabetes check out a list of carb counts for common candy.
Costumes: Costumes should –of course– still allow your child to see and move without causing them harm. Because getting hit by a car is a real risk when out and about on Halloween, ensure they are set up for success. If you’re thinking about colored contacts, read tips on selecting safe ones – who knew they were considered medical devices and thus regulated by the FDA? Whenever possible attach lights, LED add-ons, and reflectors so the rest of the world can see your child’s costume. Here’s more tips on safety from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
I’m thinking about the high stakes of parenting. Thing is, the more I learn about early child brain development, the more I’m astounded by the opportunity and simultaneous great responsibility it is to care for and nurture young children during their first few years. The reality is: the brain is rapidly evolving as children grow– the connections between brain cells shift and change based on experiences children have. I mean, the brain really just learns how to think as our children age, especially as infants and toddlers.
I’m at the national American Academy of Pediatrics meeting this weekend in Orlando. I’ll be sharing ideas and things I’m learning on Twitter and my Mama Doc Facebook so please follow along if you’re interested. Yet in the immediate I wanted to share a couple things I heard this afternoon about early brain development that can easily change how we think about our children’s lives now.
The first speaker I was lucky enough to hear is Dr Pat Levitt an expert on early brain development from University of Southern California. He shared some fantastic science. Here are 4 quotes from his talk and 5 ideas for what we can do to incorporate science into everyday life while raising children: Read full post »
Consistency may be the “secret sauce” in parenthood. Anything from helping children survive temper tantrums to helping your children eat more diverse foods, providing consistency with expectations and daily routines may be the very special thing we do that allows our children to thrive. Like most challenges in life, talking about and identifying the need for consistency is easy, implementing it throughout our daily lives is much more of a challenge. Finding and securing a consistent bedtime is one place where this “secret sauce” may really work. New data on sleep patterns for young children drives this point home. Getting your children to bed at the same time each night is powerful.
A study out today in Pediatrics evaluated data from over 10,000 children in the UK. As a part of a larger study (UK Millennium Cohort Study) researchers collected bedtime data at age 3, 5, and 7 years for children. They found children with nonregular bedtimes had more behavioral difficulties. Further, as children progressed through childhood there was incremental worsening in children’s behavior scores as they were exposed to more and more inconsistent bedtimes. Read full post »
September is Emergency Preparedness Month so hopefully in the nick of time we can all make preparing our family a priority. Before you read on know that pacing yourself and setting a goal for completing a full preparation can be set months out. Make a goal perhaps that by the end of 2013 you’ll have a communication plan, a 3-day emergency kit prepared, and have met with or talked with a neighbor or two about how you can work together in the event of an earthquake, tornado, other weather-related emergencies, fire, or safety threat that cuts you off from others’ help. Experts recommend you have enough supplies, first aid kits, medications, water, and some battery backup to last you for at least 3 days. If you’ve already purchased and/or assembled a kit, don’t forget to refresh it. I realized just this week that the water in our emergency kits had somehow leaked and/or partially evaporated. Time to replace it. Water does expire so instructions for “making” safe water from the Centers for Disease Control help. Read full post »
Yesterday our 6 year-old asked if I’d snap a photo of this leaf. He suggested that it may in fact be the first orange leaf of fall. His need for the photo alerted me that autumn truly is upon us.
Last year I started a few traditions when my oldest started Kindergarten. One was asking the 20 questions below. Although last year we asked these just prior to school start, we finally got around to asking them yesterday. The four of us had a hoot reviewing the responses. Our 4 year-old got a chance this year, too. I may update the questions next year but I’m thrilled to be stacking these responses in the boys’ memory boxes. I’ve included both 2012 and 2013 responses because it’s the evolution that is so valuable. Traditions are like that, better with each repetition. I also included some responses from our 4 year-old that are just too good to leave out…
20 Questions At School Start
What is your favorite color? ”Yellow”—>2013 “Orange”
Favorite number? ”5″ —> Not surprisingly this year he said, “6″ and our 4 year-old chimed in with this, “9,000… no wait, 199.”
Favorite food?: ”Strawberries”—-> “Bananas” and to keep us honest our O said, “Cotton Candy.”
Favorite toy?: In 2012 he said, “This is going to be a tiny bit hard……airplanes.” —> This year just, “Airplanes” (no hesitancy).
What are you most happy about this summer? ”I got to spend more time with Mommy and Daddy” (be still my heart). Nothing quite so romantic this year. All our 6 year-old said was “Swimming in Lake Washington.” But our 4 year-old produced this doozy: “Going to the radiology summer party with the bouncy house.”
Favorite memory from the summer? In 2012, “Going through the Costco carwash.” (you can’t make this stuff up). This year nothing just so comic, rather he said, “Going down the water slide in Berlin, Wisconsin.” Read full post »
Seattle Children’s provides healthcare for the special needs of children regardless
of race, sex, creed, ethnicity or disability. Financial assistance for medically
necessary services is based on family income and hospital resources and is provided
to children under age 21 whose primary residence is in Washington, Alaska, Montana