With the Penn State tragedy and recent news out of Syracuse this past week, most parents have thought of, and/or worried about sexual abuse more than once this month. The wretched reality is, we will keep getting reminded about sexual abuse in children because it is so common. Thankfully, we can help our children define, get words for, protect against, and support them in their understanding about how to prevent sexual abuse. You can start this today.
If you’re worried or unsure how to proceed at any moment, it’s always okay to visit the pediatrician or clinician your child sees for support, help, and a check-up.
Open up channels of communication about preventing sexual abuse as early as age 3. Start by defining “good touch” from “bad touch.” Use anatomic terms (vagina or penis) and answer questions your children have. Return to these conversations occassionally, every few months, every single year. Always trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right. Explore and ask questions if your child expresses concern, confusion, or fear.
Preventing Sexual Abuse
Trust your child. Children rarely will lie about sexual abuse.
A hand-out defining sexual abuse, some statistics, and characteristics of abusers composed by perpetrators of child sexual abuse while in recovery. A note on this–I found this upsetting to read but did gain insight from it.
I had coffee with Dr Doug Opel last week to discuss his study about pediatricians and alternative vaccine schedules that published today. I learned a lot while we spoke. There is great wisdom in what he said (below in the interview & on video) that extends far past what he learned in the study.
Dr Opel is one of those genuinely authentic, kind people. The kind of person you meet and wonder, gosh if only I could be a fly on the wall when he’s making decisions for his kids or decisions for his life or decisions for his patients–I’d be so much better off. Not just because I’d see the answer, but because I’d have a front row seat while he asked the questions. He’s just remarkably thoughtful so there is no wonder this study illuminated some helpful observations.
Dr Opel and his colleagues conducted a survey of WA State pediatricians to find out how often they were being asked about alternative vaccine schedules and how doctors felt about it. Seventy-seven percent of pediatricians reported they are regularly being asked to use an alternative vaccine schedule. And in general, the majority of pediatricians (61%) are comfortable with alternative schedules but only for particular vaccines. Meaning that although pediatricians are okay with parents’ request to delay some vaccines (Hepatitis B vaccine or Polio) they are not comfortable waiting on others (DTaP, Hib, or PCV). The reason, Dr Opel suggests, is that pediatricians are unwilling to leave kids unprotected for potentially devastating diseases that still circulate in our communities.
In this interview, Dr Opel lends insight to the culture of concern about vaccine safety, how the changing health care environment has shaped how we ask questions in the exam room, and how the concern about autism and vaccines is simply emblematic of concerns about vaccine safety in general. Read full post »
Establishing traditions can be an incredible way to connect, mark time, and affirm a sense of well being in your family. You can establish any tradition you want–one of the rare perks of being a grown-up. Even if family circumstances change (a divorce or separation, a death in the family, a move to a new city) you can adapt, addend, and alter your traditions. Your kids can help you sort out new rules as necessary. Those traditions really may establish a sense of calm for your children.
And really, as you make or restart some traditions at home, don’t stress about extravagance. Sometimes the best traditions are the most simple and come with absolutely no price tag. A walk with a football after dinner each Thanksgiving. Unscheduled or unplugged time the same day every year. Eating pickles on Black Friday. Standing outside in the snow as the New Year arrives. Whatever it is, it can be all yours. And your children will remember.
Start or establish rituals this holiday season and then repeat, repeat, repeat. Share your favorite traditions; what can we all be doing that we haven’t thought of?
I just responded to a New York Times “Armchair Ethicist” chat about pediatricians who refuse patients who don’t fully immunize. I realized my comment on their site belongs here on the blog. (my comment is number 79 but also copied below).
What do you think about pediatricians who refuse patients who don’t follow the AAP schedule? Do you disagree with me? Would you be more comfortable seeing a pediatrician who refused those families who chose not to immunize to protect your children? Have you, or someone you know, ever been kicked out of a pediatrician’s practice?
I’m a pediatrician (w a master’s degree in bioethics) and mother to 2. I will always keep my practice open to vaccine-hesitant families. However, the waiting room risk (unimmunized kids & risk to vulnerable populations–ie infants, those too young for vaccines, and immunocompromised children) is a good one and the only compelling reason to close to patients who refuse immunizations in my opinion.
But it’s not a good enough reason for me to send families away who have questions and hesitations about the AAP/CDC schedule. All children deserve a pediatrician versed in immunization benefit/risk & deserve an expert in conversation w their parents to foster insight & understanding. Frankly, if waiting room risk is the concern, there are ways to create separate waiting rooms for kids “up to date” and kids who are not.
Great thing is, only about 10% of families use alternative vaccine schedules. In a recent Pediatrics article, only 2% of families who used alternative schedules refused all vaccine altogether. So although this is a large issue in pediatrics and parenting, the majority of families do vaccinate on time or nearly on time. I don’t want to lose sight of that.
I practice in WA State. We lead the nation in exemptions for vaccines (over 10% of kids w exemptions vs only 2% nationally) and have recently put into place a law that requires families to consult with a health care provider prior to an exemption. It was designed to avoid exemptions out of convenience. This hopefully opens up the opportunities for discussions with parents & pediatricians!
We all want the same thing: healthy children, healthy communities. Fostering conversation and diminishing a context of “war” or opposition about immunizations is an important step. In my experience, most parents end up immunizing their children over time even when they start out as refusers. The group of full refusers is fairly small. So allowing all kids into my practice feels like a great opportunity.
Late last week, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a 43 page expert panel report addressing ways to reduce risk from cardiovascular (heart) disease beginning with interventions in childhood. The panel report is based on a huge review of current medical evidence, yet the press focused mostly on 1 sentence from the thick report:
All children should be screened for high cholesterol (via a blood test) at age 9-11 years and then again between 17 -21 years of age.
And although the recommendation for cholesterol screening is a huge one and represents a major shift in pediatric screening, the other 42 plus pages were loaded with additional wisdom founded in science. I’m doing my best to make sense of all the recommendations but as I get more overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of information in the report, I’m taking the advice of my husband, “Effective communication [about this report] lies somewhere between a tweet and those other 42 pages.”
Most primary care docs simply won’t have time to read the entire report but will likely incorporate the recommended changes into practice. And because heart disease kills more men and women than any other medical problem in our country, learning how to protect our children/prevent heart disease remains an essential part of my job description. Yours, too. Read full post »
We’re all looking for little tidbits and rituals to insert into our busy lives that actually help in that quest to have life run smoothly. I suspect The Saturday Box is one ritual worth considering.
I’m not saying that my parents did it all right (ahem….no), but circa 1983, I think the Saturday Box exceeded expectations. Our box inspired a sense of greater responsibility and established a democratic process for clean-up in our home. Less fighting, less let-down, less guilt, and less tension. More responsibility, more ownership, and more order. The genius: the box wasn’t just for my brother and me. Plenty of parental-garb ended up in our Saturday Box and the concept alone invoked a sense of equality. Not unexpectedly, we were occasionally feisty; I have a very clear memory of a family meeting being called after my father’s wallet landed in the Saturday Box….
Watch the video about the Saturday Box. What do you think? Have another successful tidbit to share? Will you do this and report back?
A good friend wrote a “secret, imaginary blog post” and sent it my way. I realized instantly it was a real blog post. But to protect her son and allow the imaginary (blog) to become real, she called upon her childhood and the beloved author Judy Blume, for help. She chose the pen name Veronica:
Then Nancy decided we should all have secret sensational names such as Alexandra, Veronica, Kimberly, and Mavis. Nancy got to be Alexandra. I was Mavis.
–Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Veronica is an awesome friend, a passionate researcher, and mom to two. Like all of us she has stumbled upon unexpected challenges in protecting her children from harm. In particular, protecting her son with severe food allergies. Her post helped me see more clearly what it is like to love and to care for and to support a child with severe and life-threatening food allergies. What it is like to wave good-bye for a day of school…and house worry. And really, what it is like to have no choice but to go well out of the way.
Enjoy her post. Tell us what you think. Share what you do to protect and support your own children with food allergies. If you’re looking for online information about food allergies, Veronica likes going to Food Allergy.org or Kids With Food Allergies:
Four Hours On A School Bus: Parenting & Severe Food Allergies
I work hard (as do most doctors) to avoid prescribing antibiotics when unnecessary. The reason? I’m concerned about both the short term effects (diarrhea, rash, allergies) and long term effects (drug resistance, altered normal bacteria and microbes on our bodies) of antibiotic use in children. As we learn more about health and about the role of “good” bacteria in wellness preservation, I suspect we will feel more and more compelled to avoid antibiotics in children. Less is often more.
There are certain medical conditions that benefit greatly from antibiotics (Strep throat, pneumonia from bacteria, kidney infections, some severe skin infections, for example). Hands down, antibiotics save lives and prevent terrible infections when bacteria are to blame. But antibiotics are not without risk. And, we know that antibiotics do no good for children when viruses are the cause of the infection. The use of antibiotics when unnecessary, contributes to “unnecessary [health care] costs, avoidable adverse events, and the development of antibiotic-resistant infections” a study published today reminds.
The hard part for parents (and pediatricians) is knowing when bacteria are to blame and when they are not. Read full post »
Earlier this year, the FDA recommended the discontinuation of infant acetaminophen drops. The goal was to minimize confusion by only making acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) in one universal liquid strength for both babies and older children. However, because the FDA provided a recommendation and not a mandate, there are currently two different liquid acetaminophen preparations on the shelves marketed for babies. And another liquid marketed for older children. Ultimately, it may be more confusing than ever. Thank goodness I just got a little help from my friends…
The pharmacists at Seattle Children’s Hospital created the below handouts designed to clarify dosing for infant and children’s over-the-counter (OTC) fever reducers/pain relievers. Print them out and put it in your medicine cabinet. Review it with Grandma or the sitter or your partner. And remember, the most important way to avoid a dosing error is to keep the original dosing device with the actual OTC medication. Resist the urge to grab a kitchen spoon!
Check out a video I made last year about common OTC medication dosing problems. The numbers will surprise you (hint: nearly all pediatric OTC meds in the US had inconsistencies, superfluous, or confusing dosing instructions). Dosing medications for our children can be more complicated than we’d like. So let me know what else you want to know about dosing acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Seattle Children’s provides healthcare for the special needs of children regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex (gender), sexual orientation 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 or Idaho.