We need a flu shot annually because influenza virus changes structure and shape as it moves around the globe each year. The strains that cause human disease are different from one year to the next, so we update and add to our protection annually by getting a shot or nasal flu spray. Children, especially those under age 5, are at higher risk for severe disease from influenza. In children and adults, influenza can cause a mild illness, but unfortunately, sometimes it can cause severe or even life-threatening complications. Children may have a more difficult time fighting off influenza partly because they don’t have years of exposure to other strains of flu and no real immunity built up. Therefore all children are considered a priority group for flu shots. Pregnant women, families with infants at home, and those with underlying medical problems like asthma, diabetes, or neurologic problems really need to get them, too.
It takes a well-orchestrated, worldwide effort to help predict which strains come to our country and which 3 strains are included in the annual flu shot or flu nasal spray here in The United States. The video explains more.
This may be the best decision I’ve made in a decade. In August, we came up with a new acronym around our home and a tradition was born. Our boys take this very seriously now. Consider starting one at your home, too? Gratitude is powerful stuff.
More than anything else, we want our children protected from harm. Particularly when we hear about sudden cardiac collapse and death in young athletes. The far majority of children who suffer from sudden cardiac events and sudden cardiac death have no symptoms prior so comprehensive cardiac screening can improve protection for all children.
Find out about your own family’s medical history. Inquire is there is any heart disease, any history of seizures, or unexplained or sudden death. Complete that medical history form.
Check in with your child/teen to find out if they ever have any symptoms during exercise that may require more attention–things like fainting or near-fainting, chest pain with exercise, easy fatigue with exercise.
Find out if your school has an AED. If they don’t, work on having the sports director get one for play fields and gymnasiums.
Refresh your CPR skills. Review how to do hands-only CPR (this links to a 1 minute video)
Your child’s physician or nurse practitioner can screen them however there are also free screening events for sudden cardiac death in our area include (please include others you know of in the comments and I will add to the list):
A study published today in The New England Journal of Medicine evaluated the duration of protection against whooping cough after children get the DTaP shot. Researchers wanted to find out how long the shot lasts. DTaP shots are given to infants, toddlers, and kindergarteners (schedule below) to protect them from three infections (Diptheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis –whooping cough). After these childhood vaccines, we give a “booster” shot at age 11. Because we know that many babies who get whooping cough are infected by teens and adults, all teens and adults are now recommended to get a Tdap shot to protect themselves and those vulnerable against whooping cough.
As researchers seek to understand the recent epidemics of whooping cough in the US, they have found more and more that the causes of these epidemics are multifactorial. Not only is it unvaccinated populations that allow epidemics, it may be waning immunity from shots given previously and waning immunity to natural infection, as well. Previously, it’s been estimated that our immunity to whooping cough wanes anywhere between 4 and 20 years after we get whooping cough, and that it may wane 4 to 12 years after the shot.
A little history: back in the 1990′s we switched from using the “whole cell pertussis” shot to using a vaccine that is “acellular.” Some health officials have had concerns that this “acellular vaccine” may not protect children as long. Although it does a great job protecting infants and toddlers, it may not last as long as previous immunizations. Some have wondered how long the kindergarten shot protects our children…
Physicians at Kaiser Permanente reviewed information about children in California during the 2010 whooping cough outbreak. What they found may have significant effects on how to protect our children going forward: Read full post »
New data around the world has found that early swim lessons (between age 1 and 4) may confer added protection against drowning. Maybe a new rule should be swim lessons before the start of school?
Many parents tell me in clinic that they are terrified about their children drowning. If you’re one of those, arm yourself with information: read some of the links (below) and consider signing up for lessons. However, don’t use swim lessons as an excuse to decrease vigilance around the pool or lake or riverside. Young children between age 1 and 4 years of age drown the most. Drowning happens quickly, and sometimes it’s very quiet or even silent.
Information, Myths, Truths, And Opinion About Swimming Lessons And Water Safety
Never let an infant or toddler out of arm’s reach when swimming or playing in water. There is good data stemming from an article published in March of 2009 to suggest swimming lessons may prove to be protective against drowning. Drowning is the second most common cause of death from injury in kids less 14 or younger.
We survived one of the biggest tantrums of all time in June. At the Oakland, California airport check-in of all places. Did you happen to hear about it? I literally had to physically hold and restrain my son from running off into moving traffic. The tantrum caused for lots of staring and avoidance. It does feel like judgment sometimes, which only makes us feel worse. In a low moment, I explained to my 3 year-old that he was acting like an animal. I got progressively more and more embarrassed and progressively more and more frustrated. It was one of those moments we never expect and have a hard time forgetting. The forgiving, that comes easy. Have you read the book, How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? That helps, too.
Same thing happened this weekend. I missed a meeting when I got stuck in a tornado-like tantrum and spent a big part of the weekend trying to optimize days to support my son to avoid tantrums. When it comes to tantrums, we all know we’re supposed to calm down, but it’s difficult to say the least. Our children find all of our hidden buttons and can escalate rapidly. You can’t avoid every tantrum, but some ideas to help you survive them more gracefully:
8 Tips To Survive A Tantrum
Giving your child enough attention and “catch them being good.” Provide specific praise in successful moments. However, don’t feel that if one child tantrums more than another that you aren’t providing enough attention. Personality is infused in behaviors, including tantrums.
During a tantrum give your child control over little things (offer small, directed choices with options rather than Yes/No questions). Read full post »
I’ve written about sunscreen before (Protecting Children From The Sun, 10 Tips on Tanning, & the video on Protecting Infants included below). More important and than any granular, scientific detail about a sunscreen ingredient, UVA/UVB radiation, or it’s vehicle– a spray or a lotion or an ointment–is how you use it. The best sunscreen is the one that is used early and often on children. No sunscreen is waterproof and no sunscreen is play proof. For infants and toddlers, I’ve found the best trick for easy application is to put it on while they are strapped into the car seat on your way to the beach! There’s no controversy that it’s best to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure and repeat the application head to toe every 1-2 hours during active play/swim.
Don’t be fooled– sunscreens marketed for children may not provide any increased safety or protection. You’ll see and hear conflicting reports on ingredient safety, particularly as differing groups discuss concerns about chemical ingredients versus physical/mineral ingredients. Trouble is, groups now warn about the physical/mineral ingredients (previously felt to be the safest) due to their particle size. And although the FDA warns against using spray sunscreen with children (concerns about inhalation of the fumes) most families love the convenience. Here’s a comprehensive, current review on ingredients & safety.
Good thing is, most everyone agrees that the ingredients in sunscreen are less risky than any significant sun exposure or burn in childhood.
The video above explains the need for broad spectrum protection. You’ll need to look for a sunscreen that has 2 or 3 ingredients to cover all the range of UVA and UVB rays that damage our skin. Here’s the American Academy of Dermatology’s tips.
A Little Science About UVA/UVB Light & Sunscreen:
UVA radiation causes Aging and deeper skin damage. To protect against the entire spectrum of UVA rays, you’ll likely need two ingredients in the sunscreen–most commonly you will see oxybenzone or avobenzone coupled with another (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, for example) to cover the entire UVA spectrum of light. Although some people report concerns about oxybenzone’s irritation to sensitive skin, recent research finds when it’s only at typical 1-6% concentrations, skin reactions are unlikely. If using a sunscreen for the first time, apply a small patch of sunscreen to your child’s leg as a test before using it elsewhere. UVA radiation is constant throughout the year, regardless of season or heat index. Read full post »
New research shows that there is a 6-fold increased risk for drowning when at the pool of a friend or relative.* Something about being at the home of a friend or relative may change the way we supervise our children. In the Florida study, 79% of patients that were seen in an ER for drowning accidents were at a home pool.
We also know that young children under age 5 drown more in home swimming pools than anywhere else. Anyone can drown in any body of water. But more than anything else I can say, know that children are more vulnerable to drowning due to their size, maturity level, insatiable curiosity, swimming skill level, familiarity with water, and communication skills. Babies and children can drown in any collection of water over 2 inches deep. The Florida research also shows that where we are and who we’re around while swimming may change levels of supervision and distraction.
Plan Ahead When Children Swim in Pools:
Never let anyone swim alone.
When swimming, young children need constant eyes-on, non-distracted supervision. Put down the book, put down the cell phone, and put down the alcohol. As best you can, focus only on your children. There are too many tragic stories of quick phone calls and book chapters that have left children unprotected. If you’re at a party, designate one adult to provide constant supervision.
Know about safety equipment present at the pool, watch for risks from entrapment around drains, pool covers and pool equipment, and have a phone nearby. Call 911 immediately if you’re concerned about a potential drowning accident — seconds matter.
Enroll your children in swimming lessons and update their skills every single year. However, never trust swimming lessons to be protective for drowning. Your supervision is paramount. I’ll post more on this next week.
Drowning injuries and deaths are preventable but often silent and quick. Young children under age 5 drown more than any other group, but nearly 1000 children die annually from drowning.
*When I say “drowning victims” in the video, I didn’t mean to imply all those patients in the study died. Of the 100 study subjects with drowning accidents, only 10% had life-ending drowning accidents. Fortunately, 90% of the patients that presented to the ER after a drowning accident survived and had full neurologic recovery.
New research helps clarify ways we can reduce risks for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Sudden Unexplained Death in infancy. A recent Pediatrics study found that the convergence of risks (see diagram below & listen to video) for infants is meaningful–reducing number of risks may reduce SIDS deaths. Avoiding multiple and simultaneous SIDS risks may help– especially for babies who are vulnerable due to family history, genetics, prematurity or prenatal exposures. Further, research published the same month in The American Journal of Public Health (April 2012) confirms that sleep environment hazards (co-sleeping, soft sleeping surfaces, shared sleep surfaces with people or animals) contribute to SIDS. 70% of infants who died from SIDS were sleeping in a surface not intended for infant sleep (adult bed, couch, chair) and 64% of infants who died were sharing a sleep surface, with half sharing with an adult. We can decrease SIDS risk by controlling our baby’s environment, knowing their vulnerabilities, and sharing what we know. Put babies on their backs without soft bedding (bumpers/pillows/blankets) in their own crib until 1 year of age.
Separation anxiety varies WIDELY between children. Some babies become hysterical when Mom is out of sight for a very short time, while other children seem to demonstrate ongoing anxiety at separations during infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool. I’ve got one of each in my home. The trick for surviving separation anxiety demands preparation, brisk transitions, and the evolution of time. I would suggest we parents suffer as much as our children do when we leave. Even though we are often reminded that our children stop crying within minutes of our leave-taking, how many of you have felt like you’re “doing it all wrong” when your child clings to your legs, sobs for you to stay, and mourns the parting? As a working mom, separation anxiety creates questions for me. Although it is an entirely normal behavior and a beautiful sign of a meaningful attachment, separation anxiety can be exquisitely unsettling for us all. Here are facts about separation anxiety and 6 tips to improve the transitions I’ve learned the hard way (I’ve made about every mistake). 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