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Killing The TV Won’t Cut It

Even if you kill your TV, you’ll still have Hulu, iTunes, your DVDs, and your smart phone. Today we’re never separate from streaming entertainment. So the old slogan of killing the TV just isn’t going to cut it. “Turn off TV, turn on life.” Better…

Around here, we’re not big TV people so this TV Turnoff week (a week to go without “screen time”) isn’t as hard as it could be. F did, however, ask if he could watch a Thomas the Train DVD tonight as we drove home. And I must say, it took decent energy to deny him. It would have been great (for me) to let him plug in before bedtime after a series of haircuts and swim lessons late this afternoon. I was zonked. Instead, we walked around the block (3 times). I was mid-way through this post and felt obligated to comply.

Not surprisingly, of course, remaining unplugged was the right decision. We met a new neighbor and spent an additional 45 minutes outside playing and navigating the sidewalks. Everyone was happy about it. But… Read more »

A Spoonful of Bacteria For Baby?

I’m becoming more of a believer in giving children probiotics. Not for everything and not for everyone; I really don’t think we should put them in the water. Probiotics, essentially live “good” bacteria we use to supplement our diet (usually Lactobacillus Acidophilus in the US), are becoming more and more available and recommended by more and more physicians. The role microbes play in our health is a hot topic. Probiotics are thought to improve intestinal health by restoring/elevating levels of  helpful bacteria while concurrently diminishing the population of harmful ones. Bacteria in the intestine are a normal part of our digestive health, but population counts of  bacteria living in our gut may be altered by illness, antibiotic use, ingested/modified foods, or life circumstance. What we eat and where we travel to drink water, change what lives in our gut. Research also finds that which bacteria cohabitate on our bodies may impact other illnesses outside the gut like eczema, allergies, and/or asthma.

In children, probiotic supplements may promote recovery from acute diarrhea by decreasing the number of episodes of diarrhea & the number of days. They also may help prevent the development diarrhea when children are taking antibiotics. The reality is many decisions we make affect our populations of bacteria. This starts on the day of birth. We know for example that babies born by C-section have different populations of bacteria in their poop when compared with those babies born vaginally, within a week after birth. So from the very beginning, the choices we make (or our parents make) may change the environment in our bodies. This ultimately may change our wellness. A set of doctors studied the effect of probiotics on colicky babies… Read more »

3 Things That Won’t Help Babies Sleep

There is a lot of information (and opinion) about how to get your infant to sleep through the night. Cry it out/don’t cry it out, rocking/no rocking, co-sleeping/crib sleeping, white noise/no noise, breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Everyone has an idea about what works. Like I said earlier, there is very little data to support one technique over another.

Auspiciously, there is new data that may help us know what NOT to do. Researchers found 3 things to avoid while helping your baby learn to sleep through the night.

A study (summary in Journal Watch) refutes an urban legend: feeding rice cereal keeps babies asleep.

Read more »

Answer Key: Measuring Medications For Children

Pop Quiz time up. If you haven’t taken the quiz, scroll back two blog posts. If you have, check your work below.

To be clear, dosing for children isn’t about memorizing conversions. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know these. Rather, getting your kids the proper meds requires being given or searching out, the proper tools for the prescription that is written. When you lose the cap to the bottle, or the syringe, or the dropper that comes with the medication, it’s worth getting another equivalent bottle with the proper dropper-cap-syringe. That is what the FDA warning for Vitamin D was all about.

As a parent you’re not alone in having difficulty converting and dosing liquid medication. A Cornell University study published early this year found that measuring a dose of liquid medicine was far more complicated than it seemed. When asked to measure out 5 cc (a teaspoon) of liquid medication using a medium sized spoon, subjects under-dosed by about 8%. When using a large spoon, they over-did the dose by over 10%. So, guessing really isn’t the right thing to do when giving your children medication. Using a teaspoon from the silverware drawer, not the right thing, either. Got to find the proper syringe, dropper, or dispensing cup when giving medications to children. In a pinch, it’s okay to use your measuring spoon…

The quiz takers did wonderfully, but even a few doctors hesitated on their answers. We all can learn and re-learn how to dose and dispense medication… Read more »

Pop Quiz: The Teaspoon, cc, & mL

Yesterday, the FDA put out a warning for parents regarding the risk of over-dose in infants receiving Vitamin D supplements. Seemingly scary, especially since nearly every infant is recommended vitamin D supplementation. But hold on a minute. As you likely know, I recommend giving 400IU (1 cc) of Vitamin D to all breast-fed and/or partially breast-fed infants every day. My blog posts about why and the research.

The FDA warning really gets to the heart of a bigger issue: how we understand dosing liquid medications as parents. So, let’s keep this warning in perspective. When you give Vitamin D to an infant (or your babysitter, nanny, or mother does), make sure you have a dropper with “1 cc” etched on the side. The warning is really rooted in how we use the tools we’re given to dose medications. This is a problem that crosses all education and socioeconomic lines. Particularly in the case of medications that can cause life threatening complications in an overdose situation. For example, when O was given pain medication for his broken leg last week in California, the Rx said: “Give 1/2 tsp every 6 hours.” But the pharmacist gave us a 5 cc syringe. Would you know what to do? The husband had to double check…

I was a middle school science teacher; in the spirit of safety (playing along?) please do the pop quiz below. Post your responses to the questions. Be bold. And as I told my 9th-grade science students in Oakland some 10+ years ago, if you think the test is easy, “Well, good for you.”

Answers will arrive later today with rationale & explanations of why I am forcing you to do this. Now, get out your #2…

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Pop Quiz: Conversions & Other Necessary Info For Giving Meds To Children

#1 How many cc are in a mL?

#2 How many mL in a teaspoon?

#3 Without looking it up, tell me how you’d give your child 1 1/2 teaspoons of medicine using a 5 cc syringe the pharmacist gave you?

#4 If the doctor told you to give your child 1 tsp of medicine, twice a day, for 10 days, and the pharmacist gave you 100 cc of medicine, will you have enough?

#5 Your pediatrician tells you to give your child 1/2 tsp of Children’s Motrin for pain. You lose the cap on the top of the bottle. You pull out a teaspoon from the silverware drawer. Filling up half way will likely work. Yes or No?

#6 Your pediatrician tells you to give your child 1/2 tsp of Children’s Motrin for pain. You lose the cap on the top of the bottle. You pull out a set of measuring spoons from the drawer. You pick the “1/2 teaspoon” spoon. Will this work?  Yes or No?

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Prepare

I’m gonna be honest, making a disaster kit completely stressed me out. I hope my experience will make it better for you. I’m no expert at this but have learned a lot along the way. And there is no question, I feel so much better with my family prepared and my preparedness tidied.

As The Economist said last week when discussing Iceland’s volcano, “Disasters are about people and planning, not nature’s pomp.”

Prepare.

I believe in the 3 tiered approach you see everywhere:

  • Make a Kit(detailed below and in my video)
  • Make a Plan (how to communicate and find your family)
  • Stay Informed (what disasters are likely to happen, where to find info)

If you watched the video, you know that Dr Suzan Mazor and I were totally overwhelmed by the task. Do your best to buddy up; having a partner was the best move I made. Hopefully she’d agree. Thanks again, Suzan. Please continue to be my friend despite me filming a video while sitting under a desk and having you help edit it at 11:30pm on a Friday night. Read more »

Vitamin D: Vitamin Of The Year Part 2

Vitamin D SunsetVitamin D is clearly important. And like I said earlier this week, it is getting all sorts of attention. Two studies from this week have captured my attention.
I don’t think this vitamin D thing is a fad. The new (2008) recommendations for 400 International Units (IU) of daily Vitamin D in infants and children represent evolution in our understanding how we can protect and prevent illness in infants and children. It’s not that Vitamin D is more important than other vitamins, it’s just that Vitamin D is more likely to be absent in children than the others. New data this week suggests that delivering mothers (the ones with the big belly about to birth) who live in the city (are out in the great outdoors less) are more Vita D deficient that we thought. Another study finds that supplementing all infants, no matter what they eat, is essential in providing them the vitamin D they need. Vitamin D is synthesized in your body when you get some good sun (above) or from fortified foods in your diet including milk, cereal, formula or eggs and fatty fish. During the winter, getting those rays of sun is more difficult. And it’s more difficult all year long in infants who we say shouldn’t be in the sun whatsoever. So we have to ingest it. Take a look at this data and rationale for all of the D-detail.

Watch the video at the bottom of this post, too… Read more »

Vitamin D: Seattle Vitamin Part 1

Offer Vitamin DF calls it our, “Seattle Vitamin.” In the upper left hand corner of the US (read: Seattle) we’re a little lacking in sunshine. It’s a product of not only our rainy weather, but our latitude on the globe. New data finds that taking supplemental vitamin D may be more important for we mamas, we city dwellers, and we little ones (infants) than we thought. Especially up here where the sunshine comes around about every fifth day.

Vitamins are so well engineered these days (gummy what?) my boys think they are a marvelous daily treat. So do I.

A study yesterday in Pediatrics finds that urban Boston moms (think Northern climate) who spent at least ½ of their pregnancy living in the city, were at far greater risk for having vitamin D deficiency than we thought. So were their babies! In this group of urban moms, up to 58% of newborns and 36% of the moms at the time of delivery were vitamin D deficient. Holy deluge of D deficiency! Say it with me…

A second study published yesterday found that we are doing a poor job getting babies the vitamin D they need. Less than 1/10 of all breast fed babies and less than 1/3 of formula fed babies are getting the vitamin D pediatricians recommend. Something has to change. Read more »

Nut Free TV? Food Allergies In Children

I was interviewed this week on TV about food allergies. I’ve pushed all my inner-Cindy Brady moments aside. Watch the video below…

When F was about 13 months old his face turned bright red after he ate breakfast one morning. I eliminated all the foods he had eaten that morning– milk, oatmeal, banana and berries. He’d had all those foods many times but I was concerned he’d developed an allergy. Gradually, I introduced them back, one food at a time. Mild reactions returned (his face looked like a work of art, his ears turned red), but inconsistently, so I was confused. After strict re-introductions, I finally figured out cinnamon was causing his facial flushing. Turns out, regular oatmeal did nothing, but eating apple and cinnamon oatmeal he got all red goofy faced. To this day, F doesn’t complain when eating cinnamon, I just know he has ingested it when his face is covered in artful red spottiness.
We were lucky; F’s reaction was mild and limited to cinnamon. It’ still unclear to me if it is a true allergy. I consider him sensitive to it so I avoid serving him cinnamon whenever I can.
But I had a dagger of fear in my heart while trying to determine what was causing his facial rash for a few weeks. Like most parents who have children with allergies, I found the not knowing what was going to happen absolutely unnerving.

Allergies can be scary. Read more »

Loving Number 2 Just Like Number 1: Prioritizing Your Pregnancy

Home pregnancy test

Before O (my second baby boy) was born I couldn’t really fathom loving him like I did, F (my first born).  I’m not alone in this, I know.  One of my friends recently told me she was so bewildered by the idea of number two that when she, her husband, her first son and her brand new baby were on the way home from the hospital, she leaned over from the passenger seat and whispered, “I’ll always love you best,” to her first born.  Whew.

It happened though.  Just like everybody told me.   I really love number 2. Read more »